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Civic election: Get to know incumbent Summerland council candidate Martin Van Alphen

Meet Martin Van Alphen

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.

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Summerland council candidate (incumbent): Martin Van Alphen

Why would you make an effective municipal councillor?

In my past two terms as a Summerland municipal councillor, I have listened to the presentations and concerns of all constituents, have read the recommendations of staff, have done my own research, have asked the tough questions and voiced my opinion during councils’ debates. And after all that, I have voted in what I believe to be in the best interest of our community.

I make myself easily available to Summerland community members and follow up with staff on questions that I am asked. I believe that the people of Summerland are my customers and am committed to giving good customer service.

In your view, what is the number on issue facing Summerland today, and how would you deal with it, knowing Municipal Hall only has so much power?

I believe the number one issue is the lack of workforce/affordable housing in our community. These are houses that are rental or owned and built to serve families of the middle to lower income levels. There is a wide gap between the high-end housing and workforce housing, which has been caused when our housing costs and rents went up, but wages and incomes have stayed the same. These workers are in the middle, and affordability through workforce housing would be the key.

The current council has shown support for multi-unit housing developments that fit within this income criteria, but Summerland needs more. My continued suggestion to the current council has been to support development west of the Deer Ridge area with the extension of the sewer system through the Eco-Village offering multiple housing choices.

How would you make Summerland more affordable?

I would make Summerland more affordable by attracting developers to town who would be willing to concentrate on building housing for middle to lower income families. This could be in the form of waiving development costs or stream-lining the development process. I would ensure that the priorities would be to concentrate on in-fill through carriage homes & secondary suites. I would also like the incoming Council to approve increasing the allowable floors in buildings in the downtown core and to look closely at municipally owned properties as partnerships for affordable housing.

What is one example of a time you agreed with Summerland council over the past term, and one where you disagreed?

The one example in which I strongly disagreed with Summerland council over the past term was on the location of the solar site. It is not that I disagreed with the municipality having its own solar array, but I felt the location chosen would be better used for much needed residential housing.

In stating my disagreement, once I realized that the decision was made and was irreversible, I asked the other councillors to consider the creation of an Eco-Village to be located just above the solar site. I am pleased to say that there has been a unanimous decision to move forward with this project.

If you had $1 million to spend on anything for Summerland, how would you spend it?

I would use that money to launch a professional focused and strategic advertising campaign to attract more doctors and nurse practitioners and businesses to our community.

Picture Summerland 20 years from now. What are the Key aspects that are making it thrive.

The key aspects that would be making Summerland thrive twenty years from now would be a primary care facility, updated recreation amenities, housing for families and a vibrant downtown core. Much of the same things that attracted me and my family to move here thirty-four years ago. My vision would be that Summerland has become a community that embraces inclusivity.



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