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West Kelowna  

ICBC topic for candidates

Alanna Kelly

An all candidates forum heated up West Kelowna Wednesday night at the Westbank Lions Community Centre.

Candidates jumped at the opportunity to debate ICBC, as well as transit, health care, homelessness, bike paths, cannabis revenue and overdoses.

Six questions were chosen for the candidates, followed by a round of questions from the audience.

BC Liberal candidate Ben Stewart said: “The government has been careful managing resources in B.C. In terms of health care (we) are better than other provinces in Canada, not to say it is perfect, but we are working towards it.”

He said the government has invested in UBCO, where they have 36 doctors per year graduating here in Kelowna.

“We’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the new Interior Heart and surgical centre and the future is going to be innovation where doctors can work more collaborative in triage,” said Stewart.

Libertarian candiate Kyle Geronazzo said our medical services are down to a “supply and demand” stating he would push for the wealthy citizens to get out of waiting lines and “allow for more of us to get to the medical services we need.”

Challenges of transportation in the Okanagan were also brought up. Robert Stupka of the BC Green Party said recent trends show cities are changing their transportation planning.

“(People) need to have options to get around,” he said. “The way we are currently structured in the Central Okanagan (is) a highways first approach.”

Stupka said the way it was planned is problematic and not the future we want to see.

“We need to be open to new transportation options,” he said.

Shelley Cook, BC NDP candidate, said tackling the overdose crisis needs a four pillar approach.

“Prevention, treatment, enforcement and harm prevention – and it needs to move on all four fronts. Just like a table with three legs, it will fall over if you don’t do all these things,” she said. “Stop drug supplies where we can… proving more treatment options, opening up more beds and we will be seeing more and more of that.”

A question asked by the audience to Stewart stated “how would you fix ICBC?”

“Fixing it is something that I think there are a lot of people out there (who) have ideas that should be considered,” he said.

Stewart said the Attorney General has been on a “mission to undermine the credibility of what the previous government had delivered” and that this issue needed further studying.

“Those types of numbers… unless there is something really wrong… I think these are scare tactics,” said Stewart.

Conservative candidate Mark Thompson fired back saying the “the Liberals took 1.2 billions dollars out of ICBC fraudulently making their budget look like it's balanced and we get this kind of nonsense.”

“We should demand the money back, the money should go back to ICBC, and I challenge the NDP and the Greens to step up to the plate and recognize when you have stolen money you give it back and you pay a penalty,” he said.

An audience question asked about the recent sexual assault allegations in politics and how the candidates can make women feel more empowered in politics stumped Kyle Geronazzo.

“That is a tough one,” he said. “I am afraid I don’t have a good answer for that.”

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