Civic election: One-on-one with Chuck Pinnell, running for mayor of Summerland

1-on-1: Chuck Pinnell

Castanet News had a conversation with each mayoral candidate running in the South Okanagan-Similkameen.

Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity. An interactive database of Okanagan candidates, including previous questionnaire stories, is available here and is being updated daily.

Election day is Oct. 15.


Why do you want to be mayor and what do you believe you can bring to the position?

I'm kind of an out-of-the-box thinker. Because of my business experiences and leadership qualities, I see things in ways that a lot of people don’t. I've built and managed an international sales-distribution force of over 50,000 distributors in five countries. I have a broad range of experiences.

My wife and I managed a seniors retirement complex, which had 147 residents. I'm a leader, and I like to help people; I like to see solutions.

Being retired, I have no conflicting business interests. I could be a full-time mayor with a single focus on Summerland and its residents…just make it an even better place to live.

In your view, what is the number one issue facing the District today? And how would you deal with it, knowing the municipality only has so much power?

I think the biggest issue for most of the residents in Summerland is we need to fix the roads. We've got a lot of problems with the infrastructure and water issues, so it's kind of an ongoing and upgrading. I think it’s time to get ahead of that a little bit, as we’ve been falling behind on it for many years.

I would focus on that, but also work with the administrator on how to get to a zero-increase in property taxes, and ultimately work year-after-year toward a tax-reduction for the people in Summerland.

I think we can do a lot of that by reducing some regulations, where possible, and improving communications; we need to identify expectations, and we need to establish accountability.

I'm all about teamwork, and building teams. So, together, the acronym TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More. So I think the solutions are there. It's just a willingness to press in and get it done.

Summerland residents have continued to face issues accessing health care and walk-in clinics, how do you plan to address this problem?

It's kind of outside the scope of the civil government—health care is provincial. They make their decisions, and It’s hard sometimes to persuade them otherwise. But we do have a four-lane highway and a quick run to the hospital in Penticton. So I guess they feel that that's adequate and at this point, I'd have to look into those things in more detail. But that's it, it is what it is at this moment, anyway.

What is one project council voted through this last term that you agree with and want to see come to fruition?

Council, I feel, has done a good job for many generations. However, I would just like to point out to the voters, to not be overly impressed with the incumbents and their ability to have a grasp of the current events and issues. They've had four years to get to that place, and I would expect as much. But, I also would suggest that for us who are new candidates to the positions, that in a short time we’ be up-to-speed on these things, and you'll have the advantage, as voters, of having a whole new set of eyes looking at problems that have been lingering—tackling new projects as well as ongoing stuff.

I love Summerland. I love what it is and how it is. So I don't have any particular complaints. I just think it's time for a fresh set of eyes on things moving forward.

There is a lack of vacancy and affordable housing options throughout the Okanagan-Similkameen, including Summerland. What would you have the municipality do to improve the problem?

I think there are two things I'd like to comment on here. One is that I believe the housing market has already turned over, in the sense of prices having peaked. For the time being, we are going to see a correction.

I think the rental market is starting to reflect that already. I think that there's going to be more units available to the market, and, ultimately, when there are more units, there will be lower prices. A concern I have a little bit is that there might be an overbuilding happening.

I mean, many factors come into play that don't have anything to do with local problems, interest rates and other things. But I would look at the cost of licenses and regulations the city imposes, and see where that function may be a barrier to allowing for more units.

I would set a goal for building permits to be completed, ideally, in, maybe 30 days. There could be exceptions to that, but you'd have a target and that would help developers so they're not delayed needlessly with procedures and slow responses…just doing the simple, responsible things and trying to keep things moving along.

What improvements do you see in your municipality, four years from now, if you were elected?

I think the biggest thing would be that we'd have a much stronger infrastructure, and we would be operating in a surplus…then we could look at the things that we want to bring into the community that would benefit everybody on a more recreational level. Just the fun things that we can bring into the community. But I think we have to have, first and foremost, a strong fiscal policy, that just says we want to be operating in a surplus—not on borrowed funds.

Anything else you want to add?

I'd like to see a community that is like the little slogan I have put together: Make Summerland Strong, Open, and Free. That would mean strong in family values, strong in community values, strong fiscally; and open to new people and to new ideas; It would mean Free from needless regulations, free for people to speak their minds, and free to live your life how you want to live it. That would be my objective.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article contained transcription errors. Castanet apologizes for the errors.

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