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. An interactive database of Okanagan candidates, including previous questionnaire stories, is here and is being updated daily.
Election day is Oct. 15.
West Kelowna candidate: Anthony Bastiaanssen
Why would you make an effective city councillor?
This is a great alternative to asking why someone wants to be a city councillor! Wanting to be a city councillor and being an effective one are not the same thing. Being effective takes experience, education and skills. I have had the opportunity to work in many board and committee environments over the past decade. Both as a member, and as a leader in these organizations I have had to learn how to listen, collaborate, and contribute in order to be effective. Extensive experience and formal education in good governance has prepared me to be an effective leader and contributor. The community is counting on our city councillors to work together to come up with innovative solutions and to get things accomplished.
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?
It’s tough to single out a particular issue as being number one. For different residents there are different priorities. The job at city council is to try and make sure all citizen’s issues are prioritized and addressed. High on the list for many is affordability as well as public safety. Working as a realtor I see areas where there could be improvements in housing affordability. Whether it be incentivizing builders to build affordable housing or rentals or increasing efficiency in the process to get new housing built to meet community needs. Regarding public safety, working together with other levels of government as well as community policing and fire departments is key to developing effective solutions to municipal issues.
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?
This summer, we were reminded once again of the brutal traffic congestion on our only bridge to Kelowna. It is not only incredibly inconvenient for people who need to cross for work or to get to school, it is potentially life threatening for anyone needing to get to the hospital in an emergency situation. Again, there is only so much the city can do on its own. We need to keep pressure on the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and other stakeholders to improve this most vital transportation link in the Okanagan.
A convertible middle lane on the bridge, elimination of the traffic light at Abbott, overpasses at Boucherie and Hudson are all potential improvements. This shouldn’t only be talked about during elections, this is an issue our citizens deal with every day. We also need to collaborate with the City of Kelowna to join our voices to make them stronger.
Do you think West Kelowna is growing too fast?
West Kelowna is growing to become one of the best places in Canada to live, and that is something to be proud of! Managing growth and developing and maintaining the infrastructure needed to support this growth is paramount. As long as the city keeps its eyes on the future and does its best to be prepared, I think we are on a good path.
How would you make West Kelowna more affordable?
Affordability is a huge issue. High inflation and the increasing cost of living across the board is affecting everyone. The City has limited options available to them. A one per cent reduction in property taxes would not make a significant difference to the average citizen’s annual budget, but it could have a big negative impact on the city’s ability to provide services for all. Focusing on making improvements to the development process to encourage more diverse and affordable housing options will be the most impactful way the city can try and improve affordability.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?
A million dollars doesn’t go anywhere near as far as it used to. It won’t build a bridge or overpass, it won’t build any new schools or community service buildings. In the City’s budget, a million dollars doesn’t tip the scale on most projects.
To community service providers, a million dollars can be make-or-break money to provide much needed services to families, seniors and our communities most disadvantaged. I would make that money available for community service providers. The food bank, community social development organizations, youth sports organizers and more. Money for the people in our community for programs supported by people in our community.