A by-election will be held June 24 to fill the Carr’s Landing ward seat on Lake Country district council. The opening was created when Matt Vader stepped down after being hired for a district administrative position. The Calendar spoke with each of the three candidates for the vacant seat.
D. Oscar Barnes
A Lake Country lawyer, D. Oscar Barnes is very clear about why he is running for political office—he is concerned about what is happening with development in Carr’s Landing and the impact on the area’s environment and rural lifestyle.
Barnes said that concern arose from the large scale O’Rourke family vineyard and winery project now under construction.
Barnes says he has spoken to neighbours of the project who are frustrated by the constant construction noise and how the rock blasting has caused damage to their homes and properties.
Barnes bluntly says the district has turned a blind eye to this project, which calls for approval of 12 properties to be rezoned as A1 to accommodate the development, saying council may be influenced by rumoured promises from the developer to provide funding for a Carr’s Landing Road widening project.
He also admits, however, that the project has become a very divisive debate among Carr’s Landing residents.
“People seem to be either totally against what this development proposes to do or totally for it,” he said.
Barnes proposes the creation of a Carr’s Landing preservation commission, what he calls a watchdog group, comprised of local residents to offer input on future development projects.
One of their initial tasks, he said, would be the responsibly planned widening of Carr’s Landing Road.
“The idea is to open a clear channel of communication about these issues and to give residents a mechanism for having their concerns addressed,” Barnes said.
If elected, Barnes said he is also prepared to ask questions about the winery project as to how the process of permit approvals has unfolded to this point.
“I am absolutely comfortable with taking that position to council. If I feel strongly about a position, I will advocate for that position and not care if the rest of council is against it. If I have a position, I stick by it.”
Barnes said he would rather see large-scale projects pointed to other locations in the municipality that might be more appropriate than a residential agricultural area.
“There is a unique beauty and something very special about Carr’s Landing. A lot of property owners take great pride in having a special place to live. Their homes are beautiful and their yards are immaculate. They work hard to keep everything in concert with the environment around them and I think that what makes the area so special.”
Joanne de Vries
Joanne de Vries says there are four platforms that are the basis of her campaign—environment protection, parks and recreation, infrastructure improvements and land use.
She recognizes the conflict between protecting environment and rural lifestyle characteristics against the need to encourage ‘clean’ development to augment the district tax revenue base to provide community amenities, and wants to encourage public discourse to arrive at solutions.
As a long-time communications consultant and founder of the Fresh Outlook Foundation, de Vries says she is an advocate for consultation to give local residents an opportunity to voice their views.
“A huge part of my platform relates to community collaboration. Our population represents many different sectors, and people have different ideas on how to proceed. We should all be engaged in that discussion,” de Vries said.
She believes the district has already clearly defined existing potential areas for commercial development that should be the focus of future growth.
“There is a growth focus right now on Lake Country. The reason we are growing so rapidly is we have so much to offer. But having said that, we do have to be careful about how we grow.”
Through her work with Fresh Outlook, de Vries says she has been able to connect with people around the world and see other communities doing amazing things.
“We have the capacity, we have what we need to be a world leader in progressive and collaborative local government and that’s what I plan to work towards if elected.”
As a pro-development candidate, Jeanette Lambert says she wants Lake Country to be widely known as being open for business.
“That has not always been the case in the past and we have an opportunity to change that way of thinking. We know for a fact we are the fastest growing community in B.C. and we need to keep pace with development,” Lambert said.
Lambert said she is a supporter of the O’Rourke winery project saying it fits in an agri-tourism theme appropriate for Carr’s Landing.
She said the ‘not in my backyard syndrome’ may be affecting the negative take on the winery project, but the construction phase will pass and the end result will change people’s minds.
“If you look at the La Casa Resort development across Okanagan Lake, the site was all stripped down and nothing much seemed to be happening for a time, but now you can see how it is coming around,” she said.
She looks to Kelowna’s evolving reputation as a haven for winery and brewery tours along with high-calibre dining options, and asks why Lake Country can’t develop a similar reputation to draw visitors to the community.
She sees development as the answer for expanding the tax base to meeting the growing demands of infrastructure and other residential service needs, which could be bolstered further by the district selling road end parcels.
“I think some of them could be sold to neighbours of those sites to increase our tax base, and the revenue could be used to develop those road ends which are flatter and more user friendly as smaller park sites,” Lambert said.