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.
Isaac Gilbert: Penticton council candidate
Why would you make an effective city councillor?
My experience as the chair of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and persistent dedication to implementing and learning effective urban planning would assist in making me an asset to serve on council. As chair of the parks committee for the last four years, I worked on the Skaha Lake East Master Plan and was on the Request-for-Proposal Committee for the Skaha Marina project.
This experience has given me knowledge and understanding of how to consult with citizens when developing policies and bylaws. A hobby of mine is to learn how to make citizens happier in an urban city through planning. I enjoy watching movies and reading books on these topics. The City of Penticton is what I am passionate about and what drives me to seek a seat on city council. I want people living in our city to have support systems, infrastructure, and community services that will make them feel safe, supported and happy to live here. This will truly make us a place to live forever.
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?
The feelings of insecurity around housing, community services, and support systems which I believe are leading to crime is a concern that our community has identified. We do have the power and resources to shape our city to be vibrant and supportive. Through consultations, bylaws and zoning can be changed to help bring in affordable housing stock. City owned land itself can be used for this purpose. Infrastructure can be modified to be more accessible to allow for more people to enjoy our community. This will put more eyes on the city streets and build back our levels of trust with our fellow community members.
Finally, the City’s Social Services Department can be utilized to help support our existing local non-profit organizations on the front lines to secure grant funding from higher levels of government. This will help prevent people from falling through the cracks. We need to have a holistic solution to this issue.
How would you make Penticton more affordable?
City design, infrastructure, and affordable housing will make Penticton a city that can welcome all economically. The housing crash of 2008 was induced due both to the stock market and poor city design. We economically strain families when we build suburbs with no supply of commercial services which increases their cost of living. Designing neighbourhoods with services like grocery stores, shops and clinics reduces this economic burden on families. With access to basic needs by walking, biking, or trip “chaining” their vehicles instead of making lengthy independent trips. Infrastructure including bike lanes and bolstered public transit makes life more affordable for citizens.
Low-barrier and low-cost options to access the city are for our people. Affordable city design and infrastructure along with affordable housing will provide our community with stability. The City can use public land to build affordable rentals and cooperative housing. This will provide citizens with secure and stable housing which the people of this city deserve. We must build a city which ensures families, seniors, and workers can afford to live here.
What is one example of a time you agreed with city council over the past term, and one where you disagreed?
The Skaha Lake East Master Plan and its passage was a moment of pride for the City of Penticton. As the chair of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, I was deeply involved in this two year project and it settled some of the justifiable frustration and discontent which was the fall-out of the previous project proposed for the park. The City undertook a lengthy and in-depth consultation process with the public. This democratic decision making process helped restore trust in the City’s park management.
One thing that this city council has been hesitant to do is make amendments to proposals to improve them and their community impact. I was not pleased to see that this current council voted against the initial proposal to construct housing on the Kampe property. In rejecting this, the council provided no alternative option and did not collaboratively seek a solution which would benefit all. They just said no. It’s good that this project is now approved but as a City Council, it’s important that we are using the input of our community members to shape the direction we go. City Council should be proactive to proposals, not reactive.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?
Public services like firefighting, policing, and public works need to be strategically budgeted to ensure they are robustly funded every year. They deserve the city budget that satisfies their needs. To see this additional $1 million be allocated to small, diverse projects which brighten and freshen up Penticton streets would be a great asset for our community. I would love to see projects dedicated to the enhancement of Syilx culture, art and language. Also, creating parklets, installing public art, purchasing and planting more city trees, and supporting other community vibrancy projects. Our community members have the talent and ideas, let’s elect a city council that supports them. If we let them fly, our town becomes more creative, exciting, and FUN!
Picture Penticton 20 years from now. What are the key aspects that are making it thrive?
Urban planning and the design of neighbourhoods is crucial to making our city thrive now and far into the future. Ease of movement through the city, essential amenities in each neighbourhood, and a strongly bonded community will make Penticton stronger. I would like my future children to access all the services they need independently. The city they are to grow up in deserves to be built to ensure they feel safe, secure, and happy. They deserve to tread their own paths, see a community around them that supports them, and provides them with opportunities to contribute in their own way. Our neighbourhoods will be a close and trusting community. We will have food security. The City has the resources and planning in place for kids to be independent, parents to age in peace, and space for citizens to foster increasing trust with one another.