Castanet News has distributed a questionnaire to each candidate running for local council in the South Okanagan.
All council 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.
Summerland candidate: Brad Besler
Why would you make an effective municipal councillor?
I would make an effective councillor because I’ll listen to residents and use common sense when making decisions. I have attended many council meetings and am familiar with how Municipal Hall works. I am ready to hit the ground running. I have a business degree from Simon Fraser University and own Big Dog Fencing, a Summerland-based business. I will be fiscally responsible. I have good intentions and am running on 100 per cent principle. I love this town and will work hard to make a positive impact in Summerland.
In your view, what is the number one issue facing Summerland today, and how would you deal with it, knowing Municipal Hall only has so much power?
The number one issue facing Summerland is a lack of accountability and transparency at Municipal Hall. If residents are properly informed and involved in discussions, Summerland will be able to actually address important issues affecting our community, such as fixing the roads and affordable housing. This current council has wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on unnecessary consultants instead of listening to the people who live in our town. This current council has also kept information hidden in closed meetings. It is essential that the next council act in a transparent manner and restore the public’s trust.
How would you make Summerland more affordable?
I will do a number of things to address affordable housing in Summerland. I will review district-owned properties and see if there are any that would be suitable for multi-housing developments. I will contact the provincial and federal governments to secure funding and grants for additional housing in Summerland. I will work with Development Services to increase infill opportunities for property owners. And I will listen to the residents of Summerland on their ideas regarding this issue. We need more affordable housing for residents and I will work tirelessly to achieve this.
What is one example of a time you agreed with Summerland council over the past term, and one where you disagreed?
I agree with council’s recent decision to have wheelchair mats included in the new waterfront development plan for Peach Orchard and Rotary beaches. Our beaches are already amazing, but this will make them even better.
I disagree with how council has allowed [Mayor] Toni Boot to be involved in a clear conflict-of-interest with her lavender farm without requiring her to seek legal advice. Toni Boot continues to be involved in council votes and discussions related to a property that she has a direct financial interest in, which is a violation of the Community Charter and Local Government Act. This current council is allowing corruption at Municipal Hall, and it is unacceptable.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything for Summerland, how would you spend it?
I would donate $100,000 towards local groups who help the community, such as the Summerland Food Bank. And I would put the other $900,000 towards repaving Main Street.
Picture Summerland 20 years from now. What are the key aspects that are making it thrive?
The main aspect that will keep Summerland thriving 20 years from now is the community spirit. Summerland is a friendly, welcoming community, where residents help each other out. I love living here.