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.
Why would you make an effective municipal councillor?
Over my past two terms on council I have acquired a lot of knowledge about how local government works and about Summerland’s unique challenges and opportunities. That being said, I am always open to learning more and hearing new perspectives.
In addition, while I represent young working families, I know the struggles we all face, from the increased cost of living and doctor shortages to the climate crisis. I’ve got the energy and willingness to help lead Summerland through the next four years.
I’m also effective because I’m a team player and work well with others. I understand I am only one voice on council, and that council must work together to get things accomplished.
Finally, as I have young children and older parents living here, I can appreciate and incorporate the needs of different generations into my decisions.
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?
I appreciate this is a popular question but it’s difficult to answer. Based on my experience on council, I’ve learned that most issues are interconnected.
Maintaining infrastructure and setting aside money for the future must be balanced with keeping taxes at a reasonable level. Ensuring transparency and good communication is balanced with strong leadership and having enough staff to help.
Affordable housing and access to healthcare issues are vitally important and are increasingly being downloaded from the province to local government to solve. Reconciliation and climate adaption (wildfires, flooding, and droughts) are also important short and long-term issues.
We also must consider what’s going on around us. Environmental and global issues affect Summerland. When there is a wildfire or flood, resources must be diverted for response and recovery. When there was a global pandemic, priorities had to shift as well.
Many of these issues are linked, and the same goes for the solutions. Council cannot tackle just one, but we can make progress on all of them if we work collaboratively with residents, not-for-profits, community groups, and senior levels of government.
How would you make Summerland more affordable?
I’ll continue to advocate for a variety of housing options in Summerland. For example, we need more townhouses and multi-family units that first-time buyers can afford. We can do this at council by approving rezoning applications for higher-density developments where appropriate. The townhouses at the south end of Trout Creek and the recent approval of 40 new townhouses on Jubilee Road are two examples.
I’ll continue to support infill, including the construction of carriage houses and secondary suites. Council can also continue to partner with BC Housing and not-for-profit groups to facilitate affordable and subsidized housing projects for low-income seniors, families, and single people.
Finally, I will work to keep taxes as low as we can while still being reasonable and responsible. This means adequately funding Summerland’s reserves and planning for the future; maintaining services levels; honouring contracts; and accounting for inflation.
What is one example of a time you agreed with Summerland council over the past term and one where you disagreed?
I agreed with council when we unanimously supported an Eco-Village concept project to complement the Solar and Battery Storage Project. I also agreed with council when we scaled back the Solar Project to fit within the original grant funding of $6 million. Together, I think these two projects are an excellent opportunity to attract eco-conscious buyers from across the country to Summerland, and to generate our own power and save on the amount of power we purchase from FortisBC during peak times. In addition, having local companies assist with the construction of these projects supports our economy.
I have disagreed with council on various issues over the past term; however, these primarily included rezoning issues which I felt didn’t fit within a neighbourhood. (None of these disagreements were out of the ordinary or stood out.)
If you had $1 million to spend on anything for Summerland, how would you spend it?
I would spend $300,000 on a new accessible playground for children at Peach Orchard Park, as well as on upgrades at our waterfront parks to provide people with mobility limitations safe access to the lake. I would put $300,000 into the water, sewer and general reserve funds for future projects. I would put $300,000 towards a new sidewalk or paving project that’s currently in the cue. Finally, I would put $100,000 towards improvements in the downtown core.
Picture Summerland 20 years from now. What are the key aspects that are making it thrive?
I envision a lively community with a variety of housing options and a variety of people (of all ages and cultures) living here. I see a community that has many green spaces and outdoor places for people to gather (especially downtown.) I see a road network that is safe and reliable. I see many annual festivals and events that attract locals and tourists. I see agricultural lands that are being farmed for food (most importantly) and grapes (of course.) I see infrastructure and planning that reflects our changing climate. I see our local indigenous cultures honoured, active and present in our community. Finally, I see our schools open and a primary care centre staffed locally with doctors and care providers.