Castanet News has distributed a questionnaire to each candidate running for local council in the South Okanagan.
All candidates have been given the same questions, and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity when needed. Responses will be published daily in the weeks ahead. An interactive database of Okanagan candidates, including previous questionnaire stories, is available here and is being updated daily.
Election day is Oct. 15.
Penticton candidate: Wayne Llewellyn
Why would you make an effective city councillor?
Let’s put the servant back in public service with my promise to listen to and act on your concerns to the best of my ability. I’m not a politician. Proudly calling Penticton home, I believe a community is only as good as the contributions its citizens are prepared to make. My work and volunteer experience will help me to hit the ground running.
Work Experience - 35 years with the City of Calgary in technical and managerial positions leading projects regarding road improvements, light rail transit, public housing and other infrastructure. Last 25 years focused on implementing strategic projects, process development and quality management programs in property appraisal (mass and individual), assessment administration and property tax policy.
Volunteer Experience - President of the International Association of Assessing Officers with over 7,500 members in 26 countries. Oversight of professional certification programs, almost 100 educational offerings, promulgating professional standards and best practices in real property analytics and economics, management, public relations, GIS, complaints and appeals to quasi-judicial tribunals, property taxation, data collection and data processing.
In your view, what is the number one issue facing the city today, and how would you deal with it knowing City Hall only has so much power?
Crime and its impact on safety must be addressed. We need provincial programs that compassionately support offenders after incarceration to receive targeted, individual treatment to ensure successful societal reintegration and safer communities.
That can be achieved by focusing on the root causes of the problems and end enabling ("free" needles, "safe" injection sites, and now a "safe supply") the use of dangerous, illegal, highly addictive drugs. By not strongly opposing the taxpayer-funded and enabled supply of hard drugs into our community, we now face the current problems.
Because the root causes of the problem (e.g. drug addiction leading to crime to support a habit) are not being addressed, the efforts of our bylaw services and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are wasted with a "catch and release" system with limited penalties and restitution for the victims of crimes.
Let’s start an open, honest conversation with the provincial government about the root causes of the issues so they can be proactively addressed rather than spending money on the unintended consequences of what were well-meaning initiatives.
How would you make Penticton more affordable?
Let’s change how our finances are managed and introduce meaningful performance metrics so yearly improvements in efficiency and effectiveness can be measured.
In 2018 the city took in $119.8 million and spent $110.6 raising $9.2 million more than needed. That trend continued despite being in a pandemic. In 2021 the city took in $129.1 million and spent $116.6 million meaning that $12.5 million more than needed was raised.
From 2018 to 2021 total accumulated surplus grew from $355 million to $392.6 million. Total financial assets (i.e. cash, term deposits and accounts receivable) grew from $102.9 to $139.7 million for an increase of about $37 million.
Why were we hit with a 7 per cent property tax increase in 2022 when over the last several years about $37 million more was taken in than was needed? We need a more measured approach to city finances.
Before starting new programs (e.g bicycle lanes or pushing out bulbs at intersections) let’s fully understand the costs and impact on citizens and businesses. No new programs should be started unless an existing one is cut.
What is one example of a time you agreed with city council over the past term, and one where you disagreed?
The extensive consultation process that was undertaken to develop the route for the bicycle lanes was great. However, the consultation and engagement processes should have kept going through a series of other actions including providing an on the ground mock-up of what they would look like in terms of traffic changes and help the public understand the costs of various options.
There needs to be a much closer partnership with the public in each aspect of decision-making including the development of alternatives and identifying preferred solutions. To increase the impact of decisions, it is best to put as much of the final decision making as possible back in the hands of the public.
Let’s manage growth according to our Official Community Plan. We must not overload our current infrastructure in areas that were designed for single-family densities. When you build too densely, manhole covers get blown off storm sewers during storms, costly unplanned changes to traffic patterns are needed to alleviate congestion and so on.
And let’s clean up the existing "brownfields" and vacant sites.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?
Responsibly spending taxpayer’s money requires fully including them in understanding the problems, the alternatives and solutions. We must spend the time and effort needed to listen to, acknowledge concerns and obtain feedback before final decisions are made.
City councillors must make decisions regarding numerous lines of business ranging from future land uses, to transportation, to riparian and environmental areas, water, sanitary networks, fire and protective services, recreation and finances. A robust program of public participation supports work to avoid waste and ensures that public resources are based on the public’s priorities and interests.
Since the Skaha Park issues of the 2018 election there have been considerable gains in public participation and more can be done. All initiatives should start with the development and end with implementation of public participation processes. Those that are affected by the decision have a right to be involved in the process. Good decisions depend on public participation. It also helps ensure stewardship of public resources in a responsible, transparent, participatory, accountable manner.
Picture Penticton 20 years from now. What are the key aspects that are making it thrive?
No crime means we can all safely enjoy our uniquely beautiful lakefront environment, precious eco-systems and celebrate four great seasons in a very favourable climate. Principles and actions around social, cultural and economic sustainability are foundational elements for a cohesive, creative and prosperous community.
As a compact city we are socially connected with easily accessible amenities ranging from concerts to arts, restaurants, sports, recreational facilities and events, warm-water lakes and locally-produced food and drink.
With an active, healthy community featuring diverse recreational opportunities, food raised locally from agricultural lands, and a broad spectrum of health care we are prosperous because of an integrated and unique local and regional economy.
Good governance is driven through processes that ensure public concerns and aspirations are understood and considered when identifying preferred solutions. By keeping the public informed, listening to and acknowledging concerns, and using the public’s advice and recommendations, final decisions on what gets implemented is are based on public priorities.