Castanet News has distributed a questionnaire to each candidate running for a local Regional District seat in the South Okanagan.
Competing 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.
Why would you make an effective Area B - Cawston director?
As a father to a young family, a local small business owner, and a farmer, I have an understanding of the needs of this region. At the same time, my family and I are relatively new to the region. This gives me a unique perspective on regional issues while being unencumbered by any long-term political associations. My wife, Kaitlyn, and I have watched the community develop, providing us with an incredible environment to raise our family. I see the enormous potential the region has if we, as a community, are willing to collaborate and create a long-term plan for the area.
As the president of the Similkameen Trails Society, I have been working to help develop local trail infrastructure. With the Similkameen Recreation Commission, I’ve committed to using my experience to help foster recreation opportunities in the community. Whether or not I become the regional director for Area B, I will continue to contribute to the region in a meaningful way and help to create a prosperous, safe, and happy community.
In your view, what is the number one issue facing Area B today, and how would you deal with it, knowing the Regional District only has so much power?
Area B and the surrounding region have the oldest population demographic in the Okanagan. To ensure the long-term prosperity of the region, families and younger residents must be encouraged to remain or move to the community. Given the limited power of the regional district, I would advocate for the development of strong and relevant recreational infrastructure, such as the Similkameen Trail, growth of the trail network as a whole, increasing accessibility to the river, and supporting the recreation commission actively.
I would support social programs that facilitate family well-being and make efforts to ensure that the facilities we desperately need (daycare) become a reality.
Lastly, fostering opportunities for healthy business growth and supporting new businesses rather than actively resisting growth and change would be among my top priorities.
The Regional District board currently has 19 voting members. How do you ensure Area B concerns are addressed when it comes to regional issues?
Working collaboratively with the other voting members must become a top priority. For too long voting in our region has been seen as zero-sum. Opportunities for our regional neighbours have been voted down simply because there is no obvious benefit to Area B or in an attempt to keep the status quo. If we want the concerns of Area B to be taken seriously by our regional neighbours, we must start treating them as our partners and not our competitors.
A local business leader recently said to me “If one of us succeeds, we all succeed.” Area B has the smallest voting block in the RDOS and if we have any hope of engaging our neighbours with the concerns of Cawston and the Lower Similkameen we must first engage with them selflessly.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything for Area B, how would you spend it?
Before spending a large amount of money like this on the community I would actively engage the residents and our neighbours to determine where this money could be most effectively used. It is important that when decisions that affect the community are made, the community be part of making them.
Picture Area B 20 years from now. What are the key aspects that are making it thrive?
Farming created the community as we know it today and it will continue to be the foundation of the community 20 years from now. We must acknowledge the needs of local farmers and do what we can to ensure that our community continues to be a leader in the region’s agricultural sector.
However, in order for us to be a thriving community in 20 years, we will have to diversify and develop new economic drivers. We will have stimulated small business development and created the environment for them to succeed, much in the way that our current commercial businesses have. In addition, we will have continued to encourage the growth of tourism by creating new recreation opportunities and showcasing what the region has to offer.
Lastly, we will have collaborated actively with our First Nations communities and our regional neighbours, and the local community to help us create, develop, and implement a long-term community plan which sets the stage for the thriving community that we wish to see in 20 years' time.