Vowing to cut red tape at city hall, the two municipal council candidates in Kelowna planning to run under the Proper Kelowna banner in November’s civic election, launched their campaign in a downtown park by symbolically wrapping one of them in red tape so the other could cut him free.
Mike McLoughlin and Sean Upshaw, two former unsuccessful provincial candidates for the B.C. Conservative Party, said while they want everyone to prosper in the city, they disagree with the approach of the another group of candidates running in Nov. 15’s civic election, those running for TaxpayersFirst.
While stressing that unlike TaxpayersFirst, Prosper Kelowna is not a political party but rather a slate of two candidates, McLoughlin and Upshaw described TaxpayersFirst vow to freeze municipal property taxes at 2014 level as “cynical or naive.”
Pointing to problems Vernon and Penticton experienced following a multi-year tax freeze, the pair said moderate increases are needed to fund important programs and services as well as to pay for needed infrastructure.
Calling the planned $48 million RCMP building on Cawston Avenue and the $2.1 million administration building at the Glenmore landfill “investments” in the city’s future—two projects TaxpayersFirst have criticized—McLoughlin and Upshaw said they feel the city is not badly run but some changes are needed.
The pair have seven main points in their platform focusing on jobs, housing, services, food security, movement (transportation), play (recreation) and what to do with a FortisB.C. Legacy fund of $30 million that is coming the city’s way in 2018 as a result of recent sale its electric utility to the company.
On Wednesday, in a symbolic move, McLoughlin was wrapped in red tape in Stuart Park, across the street from city hall. He said they originally planned to wrap the bear sculpture in the park in red tape and cut it free but when a member of the public who heard about the plan objected, the change to made.
Upshaw said the pair want to see everyone prosper in the city but for that to happen changes will be required in how the city does business.
City hall needs to be “streamlined” to operate more as a business than what Upshaw called a “management company.”
“The city is going in the right direction but it needs to be taken to another level,” he said.
Kelowna needs to create a “jobs-ready” environment so companies locating here can hit the ground running. Downtown needs to be densified by growing up and not out, more support is needed for agriculture to make sure local food in produced and consumed here, transit, walking trails and bike lanes all need to be increased to reduce traffic congestion and City Park needs work to become the “Jewel of The Okanagan” Upshaw feels it can be.
Examples of red tape that need to be cut were given as the timing for when developers pay development cost charges for what they build to the time of subdivision or permitting from the current earlier time of rezoning.
That would free up money for developers to use to build more,” said McLoughlin, who owns a local medical clinic.
He also questioned the current setback rules for development in the city and the requirement that a maximum of two residences can be built on any given lot with out special zoning or permission.
Upshaw, a realtor, said the lack of affordable housing and rentals in the city is dissuading people from moving here and that hurts the local economy as replacements are required for workers, especially managers, who are retiring in large numbers.