UBCO Questionnaire & My Answers
1. Do you believe increased funding for public transit is a priority? If so, would you work to put pressure on the provincial and federal governments to increase funding for transit infrastructure and quality across the province? What would you do to help improve transit in Kelowna?
Absolutely, increased funding for transit is important and I would not be afraid to lobby the provincial and federal governments for it. Kelowna is one of the worst offenders when it comes to single occupancy vehicles and this is something we need to decrease for a number of reasons, but most importantly to address the environmental implications. I would personally like to address two high priority issues for the students at UBCO: (1) Introduce transit service to the Quail Ridge area where many students live during the school year. (2) Increase general service to and from UBCO due to overcrowding of current bus lines. There are plenty of reasons as to why students may be late to classes, however transportation should not be one.
2. What will you do to make the downtown core more attractive and safer for citizens?
Downtown should be the commercial and cultural hub of our city. The first major step to make this a reality, is to implement the new Downtown Plan that is currently being completed by city staff. This plan is designed to provide developers and investors with a set of guidelines to follow. This new framework will ensure the development of an intelligent downtown that captures the needs of the public and protects the natural beauty of our city! I also believe it is important to get people working downtown. Once we get people (perhaps you in the future) working downtown, it will encourage a new wave of downtown inhabitancy. Aside from obvious commute benefits and decreased pollution, we can also expect residents to indulge themselves in what the downtown core has to offer. When friends get together for a drink or a nice dinner not only do they have a great time, but they also help local businesses. In order to bring life & great energy to our downtown, we must support great events like ‘Centre of Gravity’, ‘Pop Okanagan’ and the ‘Fusion Festival’, just to name a few. With more people working, playing and living downtown, there will be a greater sense of security. Just imagine which streets would you prefer to walk on – ones that are busy with people or the ones busy with tumbleweeds? Having said that, we also need to make sure our local RCMP forces are well equipped to handle the day to day operations. So I will keep lobbying the provincial and federal governments for continued funding of our gang related task force. Your safety is a real priority to me!
3. Do you view the further development of recreation facilities and programming as important to developing a sense of community and to increase the value of Kelowna as a liveable city? What do you view is the municipal government’s responsibility in the development of such facilities and programmes?
The City of Kelowna plays an important role in the delivery of recreation facilities and programs, however it requires help from other levels of government as these projects are often costly. In our current economic climate, we have to pay very close attention to how we spend every dollar. I further believe we could do a better job of partnering up with our local school district, UBCO and Okanagan College to utilize the spaces we already have. In many cases, after the school day is over, facilities are left empty. Partnerships are ought to be explored to ensure these great gymnasium and multi-purpose rooms are being used to their full capacity. Great recreation programs are beneficial to our community in a number of ways; not only for health and wellness but also help strengthen the social fabric of our community.
4. Students across Canada continue to work to eliminate sweatshop-produced materials on campuses and to promote locally- and sustainably-produced items. The UBC Students’ Union Okanagan produces all of its campaign and promotional materials through the Ethical Purchasing Network of the Canadian Federation of Students.
Will you commit to working with locally-based manufacturers, businesses, and service providers in an effort to increase job growth in the region?
Increased job growth in Kelowna is one of the most important issues of my campaign. Exploring innovative strategies to attract industry to the area can introduce new opportunities for everyone. In particular it means that graduates, like yourself, of UBCO have the option to stay in Kelowna and find meaningful work in their field, instead of being forced to find work elsewhere. Better paying jobs usually result in greater discretionary income, which will ultimately help our local economy and thus improve the quality of our lives. Kelowna was recently named as one of the top cities in Canada to start a business, while great for the entrepreneurs among us, not all of us can afford or even desire to start our own business. Larger scale enterprises can offer great job opportunities for a large number of fresh graduates and I think we should take great care to ensure we are open to those possibilities. We can do so by informing qualified companies of our strong graduates from UBCO who are ready and willing to work hard in order to make Kelowna a business friendly destination.
5. Do you support the work of the Urban Cycling Initiative for the creation of more bike lanes throughout Kelowna?
You bet, I support the work of the Urban Cycling Initiative. As I stated earlier, we have one of the highest rates of single occupancy vehicles in all of Canada. So the more people we can get out of their cars and encourage alternative (and healthier) forms of transportation, the better.
6. What endorsements do you currently have?
My hard work has been acknowledged by a significant number of individuals and organizations. Most notably, I have been officially endorsed by the North Okanagan Labour Council, CUPE and the FourChange group. If you study them in greater detail, you will recognize that these groups represent a wide variety of political, social and economic views. I am very proud of the fact that I have been endorsed by a healthy mix of ‘interest groups’ as it showcases my sensible vision for Kelowna and reflects my ability to bridge difference of opinions. I want to be very clear with you; if I am fortunate enough to win a seat on city council, all decisions made by me will be of my own making. I will consult with experts, listen to the public and will act in the best interest of our community! Period.
7. What are your top three budget priorities for the next fiscal year?
My only budget priority for the coming year is making sure that we can keep our taxes as low as possible for our residents. Tough times call for tough decisions but I also believe that creative thinking can help smoothen the ride. People expect increased services but want someone else to pay for them. This is not possible nor reasonable. We must take great care to ensure your tax money is spent wisely, accurately and in priority without jeopardizing public safety and future opportunities.
8. As you may be aware, there is a U-Pass Referendum currently being conducted on campus at UBC Okanagan. This Referendum, initiated by Kelowna Regional Transit and the City of Kelowna, is whether or not to raise the current U-Pass fee from $50 per semester (less a 10% subsidy from the University) to $60 per semester (less a 10% subsidy from the University). What is your vision for the future of Kelowna Transit? Do you support a ‘Yes’ vote or a ‘No’ vote on the U-Pass Referendum?
Once again, there are many benefits to having less cars on the road – you know them very well by now. If we are going to improve our transit system with projects such as (much anticipated) Rutland transit station, we need to continue to lobby the provincial and federal governments for financial assistance. However, we can’t always rely on (or wait for) help from higher levels of government. Just recently, bus fares in Kelowna were slightly increased to help offset some operational costs. I don‘t want to sugar coat it, so here is my honest opinion: I don’t believe a $10 increase per semester, for the U-pass is that outrageous, especially if we are going to add the required services you have been waiting for. I would also be very happy to hear your opinion on the subject and learn more about the realities you face as a student. No matter who gets elected to city council, it is your right and duty to be heard!