Castanet News has distributed a questionnaire to city council candidates in both Kelowna and West Kelowna to help voters get to know those putting their names forward. Between the two cities, 45 people are running for city councillor.
All candidates have been given the same questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity when needed. Responses will be published daily in the weeks ahead. Election day is Oct. 15.
West Kelowna candidate: Jason Friesen (incumbent)
Why would you make an effective city councillor?
There is a lot of planning that we have started that needs to be completed in the upcoming months. The public has been a very large part of the process as we have been working on the City Vision, Official Community Plan and other key plans for future planning. Having been part of the process since the beginning, I am very aware and knowledgeable as to what our residents see as the ideal future for our great city and I want to ensure that their voices and desires are heard and met and we finalize these key strategies that will guide us forward. Being part of the current council I am also very aware of the key issues we are facing and some of the key strategies that have been put in place to ensure that we can create a city where all our residents, regardless of age, have the greatest opportunity to thrive.
In your view, what is the number one issue facing the city today, and how would you deal with it knowing city hall only has so much power?
Housing attainability will be our largest challenge moving forward. Fortunately we do have the power to influence and incentivize the types of units and housing being offered. This will be a very crucial item as we move to finalize and complete our new Official Community Plan.
It could be decades before a second bridge is built across Okanagan Lake. How do you deal with West Kelowna's transportation bottleneck in the meantime?
We will continue to advocate the Ministry of Transportation as it relates to the Boucherie and Hudson Road intersections along highway 97, the options and opportunities that may exist in removing the one-way couplets in our town centre, and last but not least continue to advocate for highway design improvements to the bridge and the immediate intersections just across and on the Kelowna side. Within our own purview, and along with our Official Community Plan, we are also in the midst of updating our Master Transportation Plan and this will again involve a strategic and creative mind as we assess our own growth and road infrastructure design.
Do you think West Kelowna is growing too fast?
No, I believe that we have a very comfortable rate of growth.
How would you make West Kelowna more affordable?
As it relates to housing, see comments in response to question.
Additionally, ensuring that we have adequate active and public transportation options will be important to reduce individual living costs. Similarly, encouraging more employment opportunities within our community to reduce the costs related to commuting to and from one's place of work. Last, but not least, ensuring that we can keep our tax increases to a minimum by attracting more commercial development, businesses along with increased density in future housing developments.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?
We currently have many crosswalks with signs only. I would take the extra $1M to add flashing lights to as many crosswalks as we could, especially those in areas around schools and parks.