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.
Larry Schwartzenberger: Penticton council candidate
Why would you make an effective city councillor?
After living in the South Okanagan for the last 32 years in Oliver and for the last two and a half years in Penticton, I feel I have a solid grasp of the issues affecting the citizens of Penticton. I have been a councillor in Oliver for nine years so I understand how things work at the council table and the legislation that empowers municipal governments. I have received Level 1 & 2 certification from the Local Government Leadership Academy which has enhanced my abilities to effectively work for the citizens of Penticton. In short, I feel I can hit the ground running if elected.
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?
Community safety is priority one. As our local RCMP detachment has one of the highest files per RCMP member ratios in the province, we need to allocate more funds to hire additional RCMP officers and expand bylaw enforcement.
Homelessness in Penticton is a serious issue that cannot be fixed by enforcement alone. City council must continue to aggressively lobby the provincial government for homeless shelters that include wrap-around services for substance abuse and mental health issues. These wrap-around services are a provincial responsibility and are critical in providing support and hope for our most vulnerable citizens.
How would you make Penticton more affordable?
Increasing Penticton’s housing affordability and supply needs to be addressed through zoning regulations and perhaps tightening the regulations for short term vacation rentals. As Penticton is bordered by lakes and a First Nations reserve on three sides, increased new housing options are only available with densification and infill projects.
Council should consider capping the number of short term rentals allowed in the city and making it mandatory that the owner of the short term rental lives in Penticton.
What is one example of a time you agreed with city council over the past term and one where you disagreed?
I agreed with council’s decision to vote against the project proposed for Spiller Road by Canadian Horizons. This project required variances and changes with zoning & the OCP designation. Any future project for this property must follow the OCP designation and zoning with no requests for changes or variances in my opinion.
I disagreed with Council’s decision to sue the province over the Victory Church shelter. While I certainly agree that council should have the authority to make decisions on where shelters should be placed, suing a senior level of government creates an adversarial relationship. We must work with the province, who are responsible for health provisions, to provide wrap around services for substance abuse and mental health in every Penticton shelter.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?
Penticton city staff have identified two arenas that they feel should be demolished and possibly be replaced with a twin-arena. While this may have to happen eventually, council should be allocating funds for community safety as their top primary concern. If I had $1 million, I would spent it on repairs and upgrades to these two arenas to extend their useful lifespan.
Picture Penticton 20 years from now. What are the key aspects that are making it
Penticton has a bright future in my opinion. In 20 years, Penticton will remain a vibrant tourist destination in Western Canada. A family-friendly city with great weather, the beauty of mountains and lakes along with a world renowned Wine industry. Our parks, trails and pristine beaches encourage everyone to go outdoors, be active and enjoy the many festivals and entertainment options that Penticton has and will expand upon in the future.