Castanet News is interviewing each mayoral candidate running for local council in the South Okanagan-Similkameen.
All candidates have been asked the same questions as their fellow riding candidates, and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity when needed. An interactive database of Okanagan candidates, including previous questionnaire stories, is available here and is being updated daily.
Election day is Oct. 15.
Douglas Pateman: Princeton mayoral candidate
Why do you want to be mayor and what do you believe you can bring to the position?
I was on the town council for two terms, one two-and-a-half-year term because I was [in a by-election], and then one four-year term. So it seemed like the natural next step for me to go in as mayor.
What do I bring to the table? Well, I've been in this town since 1976. I've been a volunteer in many different organizations. But the most important one to me, the one that was near and dear to my heart was the highway rescue team, where we were an emergency service volunteer group that would go out and attend motor vehicle accidents. [We would] cut people out of cars or go over embankments, administer first aid, and get patients back onto the road so that ambulances can take them to the hospital.
I've got leadership skills because in the last five years of the 25 years that I was with highway rescue, I was the chief. While I was the chief, along with my team, we were able to fundraise and purchase a brand new rescue truck to the tune of $134,000. We were also successful in applying for and getting a lottery grant for $160,000. We purchased new tools, we purchased training and turnout gear. We fundraised the entire time that I was the chief and I was successful in just about every endeavour that we took upon ourselves, including getting $20,000 worth of radios donated, etc.
I currently work at Copper Mountain Mine as a planner. So I deal with the budget and I deal with forecasting, so I'm familiar with large ticket items and having to forecast and budget for municipalities from my last stint as a councilman and as currently at my job.
So basically, I'm running for mayor, because not only is it the next step for me, but it's a great way for me to give back to my community because it's done a lot for me in the time that I've been here. It's done a lot for my family, and we want to continue that.
In your view, what is the number one issue facing the town today? And how would you deal with it knowing the municipality only has so much power?
It depends on who you talk to you right now, if you talk to about 10 per cent of the the citizens in Princeton, that are on the other side of town, for me, their number one concern is, of course, the impact of the flood of 2021. And the fact that they still don't have potable water, and they are still on a boil water notice. They're being told that they might have to wait upwards of one more year. So that's, of course, the number one issue on just about everybody's mind.
I understand that this town council and mayor probably tried very hard, but I don't understand what the delay is. They were awarded $11.9 million dollars. I was at the council meeting where they earmarked $4 million for two new wells and a water treatment plant. They've done their test wells, and that's where it stopped. When asked what the holdup is, the only answer we can get is they're just waiting for permitting. It doesn't seem like anything is moving fast enough so I think what I'd be doing is I'd be going to provincial and federal regulators and I would be petitioning as hard as I possibly could to cut the red tape and get this process sped up quite a bit.
Of course, the other priority on in this town is our housing crisis. Because we have no rentals, we have no real estate inventory at all this sort of speak and we need to get housing.
Princeton has years ahead of recovery from the floods of last November. What is on your priority list for getting the town back on its feet?
Right now my priority is going to be the water. We have to get the water. Once that's done, then we can start looking at housing. We can't have one without the other.
There is a lack of vacancy and affordable housing options throughout the Okanagan-Similkameen including Princeton. What would you have the municipality do to improve the problem?
Well, we'd be taking a hard look at already owned town properties and looking at the development possibilities or partnering up with developers. We would be sending out economic development committees to go out and find developers and show everything that Princeton has to offer to entice developers and investors to come to our community. And by doing that, increasing our housing inventory, we're also going to be increasing our tax base, which will just benefit everyone.
What is one project council voted through the last term that you agreed with, and want to see come to fruition?
I would say probably the last thing that I saw them bring forward that I agreed with was the temporary housing project. Right now, I might not necessarily agree with all of it. But I agree with the importance of it and I agree with the direction that they're going.
What improvements do you see in your municipality, four years from now, if elected?
Well, so if I have my way, and it's a perfect world, I would love to see a larger population, we need to increase and expand our boundaries and increase our housing inventory, which increases our tax base. I'd like to see amenities brought to this community because we're losing way too much in the way of professionals because of the lack of amenities in this town.
Anything else you want to add?
Well, just that, as I said, I've been here since 1976. I have the experience. I have the leadership, I have the council experience as well and because this is my home, and this is my family's home, and we raised our family here. I want to do everything in my power to make sure that our community grows and develops successfully. And that everyone benefits from it.