Castanet News has distributed a questionnaire to each candidate running for a local Regional District seat in the South Okanagan.
All candidates have been given the same questions, and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity when needed. An interactive database of Okanagan candidates, including previous questionnaire stories, is being updated daily.
Election day is Oct. 15.
Anita Molaro: Area E - Naramata Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen candidate
Why would you make an effective Area E director?
Along with my 20-plus years of experience as a senior member of staff in the public sector at the municipal level, I bring my knowledge and experience in leading and managing multi-disciplinary teams on complex projects and problems utilizing my creative problem-solving skills, whether it an administrative process, zoning and built form issues, legal issues, transportation projects and environmental initiatives.
The overriding tenet of my planning policy and decision-making functions was to achieve the desired outcome for the benefit of the community. I use my collaboration skills to build consensus amongst stakeholders and develop strong relationships with other levels of government, external agencies and partners to achieve these objectives. In addition, I do my research, ask questions, deliberate, demonstrate patience, and can provide a strong confident vote in decision-making that meets the needs of and reflects the community's interests.
The best decisions are the ones that meet the best interest of the majority and not one that address any personal or individual agenda.
In your view, what is the number one issue facing Area E today and how would you deal with it, knowing the Regional District only has so much power?
There are several critical issues facing Area E today, but perhaps I can include them all under one umbrella called “economic influencers” as they are interrelated.
There are concerns about the opportunity for affordable housing, especially for families (who would support the local school and businesses in the non-tourist season) and there are also concerns about the non-regulated short term vacation rentals — which support the local economy in the summer season, but do not support the community during the winter season, as these empty homes are not available for year-round residents to live in who would otherwise have a connection with the local community and school.
In order to address these issues, I would pursue policies and bylaw changes along with adequate funding for RDOS staff to improve enforcement and by making it mandatory to have long term accommodation (occupied by homeowner or long-term renter) in conjunction with the short term vacation rental.
The Regional District board currently has 19 voting members. How do you ensure Area E concerns are addressed when it comes to regional issues?
A director must first be a strong listener, look for and identify shared interests and values amongst the voting members. In order to build capacity on an issue/concern, one must be diplomatic, respect alternative positions, seek to find common ground on issues, spend time learning what’s important within each electoral area and what their community priorities are and be confident when sharing Area E community’s priorities.
A director must be emphatic, willing to learn, and ultimately be clear and confident in their communication in representing Area E’s interests and concerns.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything for Area E, how would you spend it?
Building partnerships with community non-profits, and provincial and federal government agencies to support initiatives to build affordable housing for families in the village.
Support environmental initiatives such as rainwater management and land erosion controls along with retaining and planting more trees to increase the tree canopy to support the natural environment and human health.
Picture Area E 20 years from now. What are the key aspects that are making it thrive?
I believe in complete sustainable community principles (not just for Naramata but for the Regional District) that include access to clean air and water, economic opportunities, a safe and healthy place to raise one’s family, lifelong learning, diversity of housing opportunities including affordable housing, a strong sense of community and the community’s ability to have a say in the decisions that affect their lives, their homes and businesses.
A responsible, sustainable community manages its social and natural environment, and is fiscally responsible to meet its current needs while ensuring that adequate planning and resources are available for future generations.
Area E and the village of Naramata is unique and its future needs to be carefully managed by building on its vibrancy while also respecting the community's history and distinctive character.