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.
Why would you make an effective Area I director?
Prior to being elected in 2018, I volunteered to attend every RDOS board meeting to understand the director's role, built community relationships, and identified the organizational challenges within RDOS. I have shown dedication to being engaged in this critical advocate role as a community champion.
I have been a resident of Kaleden for 18 years raising my family while volunteering on many committees to organize community events and school-based programs. The community knows my character, seen my involvement in the community, and my dedication to the role as director to represent each community goes above and beyond. I have strengths in maintaining lasting relationships with stakeholders while ensuring the community is informed. I believe in allowing residents to provide feedback and community-based decision-making.
Each community is unique within Area “I”. Engaging with residents to support community-driven incentives while being financially responsible with a proven track record, and history of supporting community decision making, creative solutions and advocacy for each part of Area "I" makes me the logical choice to continue as Director.
In your view, what is the number one issue facing Area I today, and how would you deal with it knowing the RDOS only has so much power?
I strongly believe that RDOS is heading in the right direction, focusing on customer service and community engagement. Over the past term, the RDOS has made noticeable changes. During the Keremeos Creek Wildfire, residents received frequent regular communication and updates, due to the increase in communication staff and a recent change in a bylaw that allows a director to speak on behalf of their area. I have been a steady voice at the RDOS board table requesting more public engagement, and consultation with service providers before decision-making.
Area “I” has a history of broken trust with the RDOS where I have been a catalyst working towards rebuilding relationships by increasing community engagement. RDOS needs to work on relationships with other stakeholders including First Nation communities, school districts, and service providers as we are stronger working together regionally. Utilizing UBCM to initiate change provincially is the tool that needs to be optimized.
The RDOS has 19 voting members. How do you ensure Area I concerns are addressed when i comes to regional issues?
As an incumbent, I have an existing working relationship with directors as well as with staff at RDOS. Being a strong advocate for community concerns and sharing those with the RDOS board helps other Directors understand Area “I” concerns. Working with municipal directors to understand their communities and share similar concerns. Often municipalities have addressed areas of concern and can support rural communities with that lens of experience.
RDOS has limited authority which brings a need for building relationships with municipalities for joint advocacy for change to authorities of Regional Districts. Working with municipal neighbours is a solution to many challenges within the RDOS. I’ve demonstrated being very hands-on with community issues and supporting community engagement before decision-making to share in debate with regional directors.
Area I is comprised of several distinct communities with unique needs and concerns. How would you ensure you equally represented all of them?
As I had engaged with residents of each community prior to being elected in 2018, I know who the community leaders are and the community organizations in each community establishing a working relationship with every community. Apex didn’t have a community association until I presented the idea and supported the creation of the society to model the Kaleden Community Association. St Andrew’s By the Lake's long-range strategic plan committee and I worked very closely together to develop an official community plan.
I believe that building a thriving community is achieved through increased community engagement, updating RDOS policies, and including all local residents in conversations. I have utilized my skills in communication and worked closely with community volunteers to be as cost-effective as possible for taxpayers as a hands-on director making me always available to residents. In my next term, I have ideas that include creating a “community table” discussion on topics important to each community. This will keep communities engaged and continue engagement with each unique rural community.
If you had $1 million dollars to spend on anything for Area I, how would you spend it?
As an RDOS Director consultation with communities is constant priority I have displayed and will continue. My first step would be to invest the funds in a secure high-yield investment for a minimum of two years to allow for consultation with all communities before decision-making. Based on community knowledge potential projects could be investing in FireSmart mitigation work, supporting Irrigation and Improvement district projects, investing in our current community assets, and building partnerships with school districts on joint building use. Financial responsibility is something I have demonstrated with public engagement and supported community-based decision-making.
Picture Area i in 20 years from now. What are the key aspects that are making it thrive?
Area “I” is volunteer-driven with resident volunteer committees in every community. In 20 years, I see the RDOS working closely with volunteer groups to support communities based on their unique needs.
Breaking this down into communities: Kaleden would maintain being a small rural settlement community without condos and density after being removed from the regional growth area. Kaleden Irrigation District would receive provincial grant funding for mandated water treatment upgrades. Twin Lakes would find water sustainability and continue to enjoy the nature around them. Apex would be a year-round resort working closely with First Nations to establish a working partnership with affordable rental accommodation. St Andrews by the Lake would discharge the land use contract with the goal of moving towards sustainable operations.
Overall, each community would maintain a rural unique community with volunteers actively engaging in their communities and growth being handled with care to ensure services/relationships exist.