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: Carol Zanon
Why would you make an effective city councillor?
I have confidence that my experience, skills and willingness to learn would make me an effective city councillor. During the time that I have served on the present city council, our city has grown from 27, 000 people to almost 39,000. As I have been on council since incorporation, I am aware and ready to tackle the issues that affect our city.
As a specific example that affected our community, I was elected Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Westbank Irrigation District that built the Powers Creek Water Treatment Plant that delivers clean, safe water to about 13,000 of our residents. It was constructed on time and on budget.
Academically, I hold the Master of Science and the Juris Doctor degrees.
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?
Right now, today, the immediate issue is the supply of reliable, clean and safe drinking water from the Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant. The end is in sight and will be solved early in 2023 with the opening of the facility. Overall, there are many issues facing the city, and mostly, they have to do with change – changes in the economy, changes in housing needs, changes in the costs of living and doing business, and more.
To be effective, there has to be a plan, and we have one. This year, the Strategic Plan has four pillars:, investing in infrastructure, promoting economic development, strengthening our community and fostering safety and well-being. To act on this plan, we have a balanced budget, and advocate for grants and other assistance from our provincial and federal governments.
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?
Even with a second bridge, there will be bottlenecks. More needs to be done. Traffic must be able to flow freely on our side and continue through Kelowna. On our side, interchanges are needed along Highway 97 at the Hudson and Boucherie intersections.
These routes affect traffic on Westbank First Nation lands, as well as ourselves. As the highway is under provincial jurisdiction, not ours, there is a need for both our governments to work together and encourage action. As well, traffic lights need to be synchronized and the couplet needs to be eliminated and replaced in Westbank Centre.
Business and the population is growing on the westside, putting more pressures on the infrastructure, necessitating the construction of roads and sidewalks, and encouraging multimodal traffic. As more jobs are created here in our city, using the bus, riding a bike and walking to work and recreation can reduce reliance on the automobile for transit.
A new Transportation Master Plan is due soon and in conjunction with budgetary measures, we can ease the traffic situation in West Kelowna.
Do you think West Kelowna is growing too fast?
It’s growing fast, for sure, but not too fast. Canadian citizen has the right to live (almost) anywhere they wish in our country. People want to come to our lovely valley. We have shorter winters and longer summers that most of Canada. And then there are the beaches, wineries, parks, and lots of recreation
opportunities. To accommodate this growth, we require a variety of housing forms, in suitable locations. We have lots of single-family homes being built but we need to work with the development community to encourage the construction of entry level housing through the housing spectrum, from apartments, duplexes town homes, high rises, etc.
The city will have to work with other levels of government and their agencies for funding and assistance into build emergency and supportive housing. The new Official Community Plan(OCP) and the forthcoming Transportation Master Plan will guide the growth for the future.
How would you make West Kelowna more affordable?
To make West Kelowna more affordable, we need a strong economy. The city is planning to establish an independent economic development corporation, that will nurture that growth. At a cost of about $1 million for a single family home in West Kelowna, it is affordable for only a few.
Comparable sized cities offer over 2,000 social housing units while we have about 400, most built before our incorporation. Council needs to, and will advocate with other agencies to construct need-based, subsidized and affordable units for low income families, and seniors. We have had success with finding emergency shelter and supportive housing for our vulnerable homeless, by working with BC Housing and other, non-government agencies.
Another way to approach the issue is to encourage employers to set up business here, providing new jobs. Another is to motivate developers to construct a wider range of housing types at more attainable prices, with different ownership forms, and to increase the supply of rental units. Only ten years or so ago, outside of secondary suites, we had less than two dozen purpose built rentals! That has and being changed, but we need more variety of housing forms offered.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?
If I had $1 million to spend, I would invest it in the new Economic Development Corporation that is being set up. In the long run it could give us the biggest bang for the buck over time, and ultimately provide funds for the city for use as needed (e.g., for housing) or even for fun (e.g., a playground).