Vernon byelection candidates questioned by chamber on support for business

Candidates talk business

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce has questioned council byelection candidates on their support for the business community.

Here are their edited responses to the question: As a City of Vernon councillor, what steps will you initiate to support business in the community?

For the full answers, visit the chamber website.

Kevin Demers

We should look at how our municipal neighbours to the north and south are doing in comparison to help better gauge our own growth and sustainability. Let’s work on safe measures and restrictions that allow our businesses to operate at full capacity. Let’s dedicate to developing the downtown core with highrises that bring business, commerce, and much-needed affordable living to our city.

Teresa Durning

Understanding what issues are concerning for our businesses not only allows us to make better decisions, but it also assists us in advocating on their behalf to senior government. A thriving business community is the crown jewel of a city, and we need to continue working on making it easier for businesses to prosper. My current role as BC Games Greater Vernon 2022 Winter vice-president will help generate an estimated $1.4 million for our city businesses. These are outstanding opportunities that assist in improving business conditions.

Flora Evans

I would like to co-ordinate an economic recovery business roundtable with an advisory panel to provide answers to business members that are struggling. I've seen several closures probably due to the pandemic. I would also look at what the city could do to enhance downtown and mall traffic with transportation corridors for foot, bike, e-bike and scooter traffic. Right now, it’s not safe to drive these green vehicles through town. Although we have a connected path that I haven’t cycled on yet, it doesn’t appeal to me to take my e-bike for shopping. It doesn’t feel safe. E-bikes are expensive, and they need charging stations and safe places to leave them while shopping.

Sherrilee Franks

As an owner in multiple industries, I was fortunate enough to have one business do exceptionally well. In fact, success through COVID comes with some guilt. Navigating the abundance has brought about problems not previously encountered. I have also been fighting on the front line for businesses who are on the verge of collapse. As much as we like to group the business community together as one, there are very industry specific needs to be addressed. In general, I am also a big supporter of business initiatives through non-profit organizations like Accelerate Okanagan and Community Futures.

Art Gourley

Let’s make Vernon better. One day a month, the handicapped and disabled receive a good discount at all businesses downtown. Move the airport. Build highrises, like Vancouver, where the airport is. Build a new Costco in Vernon. New car racing track.

Stephanie Hendy

Augment the Chamber of Commerce business directory search by allowing people to search for businesses by: queer-owned or queer-friendly identification, BIPOC-owned, female-owned, accessibility, sole-proprietor, franchise, or corporate owned. Why are the Downtown Ambassadors only employed in the summer time? Can local businesses pool resources to hire security guards to patrol the downtown area after dark? Business owners have told me they find it hard to pay for licensing fees, sign fees, and other fees all due on Jan. 1. I would seek to stagger these annual costs so that owners don’t feel such a big hit in the post-Christmas slump.

Catherine Lord

Particularly in these pandemic times, support for our local businesses is crucial. Keep in touch with how well business is thriving. Rebuild our tourism sector. Vernon as a destination needs a push. We need an identity brand. The business community only prospers if the city itself is livable and a place of inspiration. The city has to work towards affordable housing, arts and cultural activities, sports activities for kids and families. An attractive place to live retains and grows its businesses and labour force and results in a thriving business community.

Jamie Morrow

I have heard so many times that Vernon is not open for business. A priority of mine if elected would be to work with council and administration to make (it known) Vernon is a business friendly community and one that is widely known as OPEN and WELCOME to new business and existing business expansion. We need more affordable and attainable housing and I will be a voice for medium to high-density, mixed-use developments that include rentals. This will create more compact neighbourhoods and less strain on transportation, resources and land use. As a previous business owner, what I see is a lack of understanding and communication with business regarding the impact construction and infrastructure works have business.

Erik Olesen

We need to continue creating partnerships that support initiative by other levels of government, making sure that as business transitions out of the pandemic, supports are still available. The annual walks program that recently happened is a valuable program that I will champion to become a quarterly action. Council needs to know what businesses are going through more than once a year. We need to create a Buy Local campaign. We must continue to work with all levels of government, stakeholders and in partnership with Indigenous leadership to address the housing affordability crisis so that Vernon businesses can attract and retain the talent they need.

Ed Stranks

I will support revitalization projects that include streetscape improvements ... to provide a complete, cohesive downtown that is attractive and user friendly for residents and tourists. I support annual purchase of properties to create temporary pocket parking and park spaces. These properties would then be available for purchase and consolidation with other adjacent small lots. Having more residents in and near the city centre will increase reliance on businesses in the area while not increasing the need for parking. I will support increased bylaw enforcement staff patrols in the city centre to improve safety and create a more user-friendly atmosphere.

Andy Wylie

The Civic Park site is the last opportunity Vernon has to reinvigorate the badly neglected downtown core. The homeless and drug users look for grass and bushes to sit and sleep and to hide and feel at home. This new park will kill the downtown because it will be surrounded by fear. I propose a new Civic Plaza with no grass or bushes, and a concourse design as seen at the heart of the great cities of the world.

– with files from the Greater Vernon Chamber

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