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Municipal Elections 2014  

Questioning the candidates #5

In part five of our 10 part series questioning the 31 candidates running for one of eight councillor positions in Kelowna, Castanet News asked each candidate:

Question #5 - Many young people in Kelowna are forced to leave the city to find a full time job once they graduate from high school, college or university. What would you do to try and keep our young people in Kelowna and employed?

--Note: Candidates who do not appear did not send in an answer in time for this feature.

Question six will appear Monday morning.

Billie Aaltonen -  We need to attract businesses. In order to do this we need to make Kelowna a better place to live. Again - all engines firing at the same time. Revitalize arts and culture, Affordable housing, etc… Keeping property taxes in check. 

Cal Condy - Cut out downtown paid parking. That'll revitalize downtown and increase hiring.

Maxine DeHart - We need to support the Technology Sector, UBCO, Okanagan College Trades Centre and Okanagan College’s other mandates. The new Innovation Centre is a step in the right direction, along with the Okanagan College Trades Initiative.

Ryan Donn - Truly I have spend the past decade with the goal of making our community more vibrant. Examples of that include New York New Years, Global Music Fest, etc. In order to attract the next wave of well paid tech sector jobs they need to see a vibrant community. New initiatives such as the Okanagan Young Professionals and the Innovation Centre (with its collaboration between many governments, business, non-profits, Okanagan College, and UBCO) will help us move towards more gainfully employed young people. Most of my friends have had to leave this community due to the realities you have noted in the question. In order for our family to stay in Kelowna it means working hard and truly making sacrifices. Our economy booms in the summer but tapers off during the winter and fall and no amount of chatter, programs, or initiatives will change that. Building upon our strengths, our tourism, agriculture, seniors health and wellness, and our amazing lifestyle is key to moving our city forward

Ken Finney - We can try to find affordable housing solutions as well as options to attract businesses that provide livable waged jobs.

Gail Given - We need to continue to encourage partnerships and collaboration similar to that which took place in the development of the Innovation Centre project and STAR project at UBCO.  Also it is imperative that our youth recognize where the opportunities will lay so they are training appropriately.  Accelerate Okanagan always has job postings on their job board.  Tech positions are going unfilled for months.

Carol Gran - The greatest travesty in our community is the plight of young people and their inability to find good paying jobs, to establish a future here and stay near family. We need to decide whether we want to be a playground for the rich, one large gated community for retired people or whether we want to be balanced for all ages. TaxpayersFirst candidates believe that there is a way to encourage companies that offer a future for young people to locate or re-locate here. If the money from city owned lands goes to the taxpayer it means we can afford to offer the finest amenities and that makes a difference. A vibrant arts, culture and heritage community that doesn’t have to beg for funds each year, town centers that attract people of all ages, and we have to open our hearts and arms to people from all cultures.

Tracy Gray - I believe young people having to move away to fund full time jobs is due to two issues which are keeping our economy strong and affordable housing. Affordable housing is one of the most important social issues in Kelowna. I own Discover Wines and have experienced this first hand. We pay above industry standard and have seen several good team members having to move back to other provinces due to the challenge of finding affordable housing here.  The city has several initiatives underway and future councils can expand on these.  They include legalizing secondary suites in appropriate areas of the city, encourage non-strata townhomes, include a minimum percentage of lower cost housing in major developments and to densify in our town centers.  Large projects such as the new Innovation Centre building will be a good opportunity for young professionals.  As well, the more people we have living here year round and the stronger our tourism industry is, this increases the job opportunities as people require the products and services over the entire year.

Charlie Hodge - There are a variety of ways starting with continuing to improve and create an efficient transit system that not only better links the municipality but effectively transports students from both UBC and OC to newly created and inviting housing and business hubs in Rutland, Glenmore, and downtown. Students and young working people, whether high school, university, tech, or trades graduates need to have clean, efficient, and diverse housing they can rent and/or eventually purchase. Rutland and Glenmore particularly could greatly benefit from of an influx of young workers and students who desire to live off campus and eventually remain and work in Kelowna. I also believe we can encourage start-ups of clean, green, light technology businesses here through incentives, funds, loans etc. I look at Ann Arbor, Michigan as a great example of a community that augments their tremendous summer tourist season with an influx of university students during the slower shoulder seasons.

Beryl Itani - I would work with Staff and Council to try and find ways to keep our young people here.  We need jobs for them and a wage that will keep them here.

Graeme James - I would focus on attracting high tech and manufacturing industries, the expansion of our health care system, and the expansion of the aviation industry.  Also, the City needs to work more closely with the school system and ensure proper counselling is done so students are more aware of areas of future job growth both in Kelowna and surrounding areas.

Leslie Kendall - Encouraging businesses and employment to locate within the city is a many faceted issue.  The Chamber of Commerce and the city working together to attract new business and employment opportunities  is  paramount.  Knowing that  future job opportunities are available after graduation will retain and attract younger people. Continuing to promote Kelowna as a sustainable city is important.

Bobby Kennedy - I am one of the young people that chose to stay. I would continue to lead by example that Kelowna can indeed provide you with the future you seek. I would promote our city constantly through my vast network as well as work with our education centres to highlight our top prospects and make sure we offered them jobs first.

Mike McLoughlin - Kelowna needs to be “Jobs ready.” To accomplish that we need to reduce red tape at city hall. Kelowna adds significantly to the burden of business growth and development when it requires offsite bonding (DCC deposits) early in the rezoning process for development. This money sits in City coffers for long periods of time when it could be used for job growth and business investment. This practice needs to be curtailed. Kelowna needs to follow the best practices of Local Government development process that requires DCC deposits later in the development process. In addition, Kelowna needs comprehensive zoning for areas of the city identified in the OCP as potential for densifying population. Developers should not be subject to a myriad of variance applications that drag out the development process and involve communities in unnecessary public hearings when the development they propose already meets OCP zoning guidelines. If you can increase the housing supply you will provide more affordable housing. Then young people will be able to afford to live in Kelowna.

Gwen Miles - This is a difficult problem that many City’s face. Coming from Edmonton, a large city, yet even there, roughly 70% of Edmonton’s industrial trade sector has to leave the city to work up north.  As we become more tech savvy, there will be endless opportunities in that field. Until then,  l must say l cannot give a solid solution to that question.

Alan Monk - I believe that retaining our youth after graduation will require a multifaceted approach but I think one of the key ways we will need to do so is to attract more businesses to Kelowna so that there is a variety of job opportunities for our youth.   We need to continue to be a business friendly city.  We will need to keep business taxes relatively low - where they are now.  We will need to try to encourage development of more affordable housing options.  We will need to continue to invest in our amenities and parks and arts and culture to keep Kelowna a desirable place to live.  A recent study showed that up to 70% of people first choose where they want to live and then find employment or start their business there.  To be the city that is chosen by our youth, we need to ensure that we remain a desirable place to live and visit.
 
David Mossman - Good paying jobs is the first thing that will attract and retain young people.Kelowna has great weather and outdoors etc. but that alone wont keep young people in this town.Fostering and building sectors that employ the three T’s (technicians, technologists and trades) as well as the IT sector is a good strategy.Density will increase )ideally at a planned rate) which will provide more viable housing options for young people and benefit local business.

Dale Olson - Everyone agrees this is a HUGE problem in Kelowna.  The solution is incentives and agendas to attract businesses that offer high quality, high paying jobs.  Sometimes the best thing government can do for business is to simply "get out of the way"; reduce red-tape, fees and other burdens we impose on businesses, these are barriers to business in our city.   More than that, TaxpayersFirst will be revealing our proposals to actually draw business to our City.  We are the people actually bringing tangible ideas and methods.  We bring solutions rather than rhetoric to the table.

Brad Sieben - The creation of new, well-paying jobs is the most critical component to improve in keeping our young people in Kelowna.  The new Okanagan Centre for Innovation, Interior Health Services Building (Health Services), niche manufacturing and tourism all have the potential to add to the supply of attractive careers for young adults. Affordable housing must continue to be made priority.  In increased supply of well-paying jobs will make housing more attainable for more people, density incentives for developers to include affordable housing in their projects should continue to be encouraged. 

Mohini Singh - The present council has done a significant amount to ensure there is a healthy business environment to create opportunities. We have to continue to ensure red tape is justified and that we don’t put up any unnecessary hurdles.  Projects like the Innovation Centre will attract young entrepreneurial people to the city. It will have a spin off effect creating other businesses like outdoors stores, programs, funky eateries, etc. When such proposals come forward we must take them seriously and consider how we can facilitate their success.   We must also support the prime economic drivers in our community and ensure housing remains affordable so they can expand their labor forces for the whole region.

Derek Somer - Present wages and salaries are not globally competitive. Housing costs will have to drop down to an affordable level. Unless our kids inherit real estate, or win the lottery, their future home ownership participation looks very dim. Interfering with the market place is not acceptable practice from the business community.

Luke Stack - We need to maintain confidence in the economy. The last three years has seen the City regain its footing. The Down town is improving, Rutland town centre is moving forward, and new investment is on the rise. The City continues to expand its airport which is a vital link for business. The Economic Development Commission, the Film Commission and the technology sector are all doing well. The City also received the British Columbia Small Business Round Table “Open for Business” Award for providing excellent service to the small business sector. Small business is the biggest sector of Kelowna’s economy. I say we stay the course.

Laura Thurnheer -  As an educator who teaches in a Business Administration program at Okanagan College I do not necessarily agree that students have to leave the area to get a career jobs. Things have been changing in the last few years as we slowly pull out of recession and many of my students have been obtaining career jobs in their areas of study right here in Kelowna. Groups like the Okanagan Young Professional (OYP), GenNext (United Way), Kelowna and Okanagan JCI, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission have been providing support to young people in our area for the last few years now and the combined efforts are starting to make an impact. I do agree however, that we need more jobs for young people and would like to see continued focus on this area by seeing the City working collaboratively with our post-secondary institutions and business community to create entry level opportunities for young people. As an example, we need to continue to support the IT industry in Kelowna as this is an ideal sector for our city providing good paying jobs in a sustainable manner and its success has already been demonstrated. The City’s part in the recent Innovation Centre is a good example of how the City can be involved to create career jobs for young people. I would also like to see more co-op opportunities created between local students and local businesses as co-op placements give students the much needed experience they need to break the classic quandary of having no previous job experience. I also believe we need to support the growing wine and culinary sector that is blossoming in our community which is now creating career opportunities rather than just jobs for our young people working in the hospitality area with little or no formal education. In addition, we need to work with our post-secondary education providers to identify short term certificate programs that are badly needed by industry right now and have these programs developed and available. Of course, we need to continue to lobby the provincial government for dollars for seats in the trades programs as we need to produce skilled tradesmen to fill the positions coming up in the next few years as many skilled tradesmen retire.

Sean Upshaw - Again I go back to the economy. We have got to aggressively pursue a light industrial, green economy that will counter balance the retirement destination appeal we now have. Attracting businesses involved with health care, like research and development; scientific and technical services and knowledge employment are the key industries our youth are interested in.  For far too long we have been in the retirement business. Or our young adults are forced to go somewhere else where they have it together. It is the responsibility of City Hall to set the business tone of the city. It is the duty of City Hall to be the magnet. A magnet that not only says we are open for business but actually gets on a plane and pursues that business and pulls it in. I strongly believe we need to strengthen the businesses we have now like the UBC Okanagan, Technical, Tourism or Agricultural sectors. But for us to be a magnet we must diversify our approach working hand in hand with what is already established. Enhancement of the present good things will provide us all with a Prosperous Kelowna.

Dayleen Van Ryswyk - This is a big issue for Kelowna and many other cities struggling with the same dilemma. It’s something that concerns me with my own children. The lack of industry is part of the problem. We have very little manufacturing here and the tech industry isn’t all that it could be. All of that is slowly changing and will get moving faster now that we have fibre optics coming. Being able to move information at high speed will be a big selling point to both industries. We have an amazing location, world class educators and a city ripe for success.

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