1) What do you feel is the most significant issues facing West Kelowna and how would you suggest it be resolved?
One of the most significant issues we are facing is the lack of new businesses coming into our area plus we have had a number of our existing businesses leave. We need to make it easier to do business in West Kelowna.
I also understand that people seem to have a phobia about crossing the bridge. I hear it all the time while taking my children to their activities “you came from West Kelowna, wow that must have taken you a long time” When in all actuality it takes me less time to get most places than a majority of the people I am talking to and they are coming from Wilden, Kettle Valley, Joe Rich and Winfield areas. We need to change the bridge stigma.
One of the reasons that I am in Kelowna 4-5 times every week is that my children’s activities are not offered here. One of the reasons they are not offered here is that we do not have the facities to accommodate these activities. I feel if we work with our neighbouring communities we will have the funds to bring in more amenities. One example would be an indoor sporting facility. If we could work together with WYSA, the lacrosse and baseball teams, the schools that currently commute to CNC to use their facility we will have higher numbers. Then lets take it a step further and work with the WFN, Peachland and Summerland who would also all benefit from such a facility and our numbers are growing again. Now lets add an indoor walking track and we can increase our numbers the seniors and walking/running groups that need a place to go in the summer when it is too hot and the winter when it is too cold or wet and our dreams are coming to be more of a reality. Whether it be a new indoor facilities that multiple sporting groups could use or a bmx/skateboard park, West Kelowna needs more amenities for our youth. We are attracting more families and the youth need more to do.
2) What personal characteristics or background do you possess that make you an ideal candidate for council?
I love to be involved. I care deeply about our community and have been volunteering in our area for over 10 years. I am on the Shannon Lake Neighbourhood Association, the Advisory Planning Commission, help out in my children’s schools and on their sports teams. I grew up on a farm and I know how to work hard. I am a wife and mother so I know how to multitask and I have worked in West Kelowna for over 15 years so I know some of the struggles businesses deal with. My schedule is also very flexible so I have to time to devote to the councillor position. If there are issues I do not understand I am willing to ask for clarity or look up the answers myself.
3) What is your vision for any future development of West Kelowna’s waterfront along Okanagan Lake?
We need a gathering place – a coffee shop, some smaller specialty shops and even some higher density living. When my running group wants to go for a quick run we go to Gellatly, when we want to go for a run and a visit we go to Peachland. We only have two public boat launches and the parking around both is less than adequate. The existing boat launch at Bear Creek with a parking area was taken out which added to the impact on our existing launches.
4) What can the District of West Kelowna do to attract more business investment to the community?
I did touch on this answer briefly in question one. I have seen many businesses leave the downtown core over the past few years. One of the main reasons that I have heard is that our rent prices are higher than other areas. I understand this as the landlords need to recoup some of their money from having the buildings sit empty. We need to help some of these business by possibly lowering taxes or DCC charges for new businesses. We need to focus on higher density construction downtown with business on the bottom and residential on the upper floors. also need to find our niche – what is lacking in the valley and capitalize on those markets. Whether it be the budding film and music industry, or more of a artisan feel and incorporate an open air shopping area such as High Street Fraser Valley in the lower mainland or the Morgan Creek Crossing area.The other problem with doing business downtown is that the traffic gets bottle necked from Butt Rd to Elliott Rd. We need to look at another bridge crossing possibly making a bypass past Bear Creek and a new bridge by Traders Cover over McKinley landing. Elevating the volume of traffic driving through our community. If this is not a possibility then a few more overpasses so that traffic flows.
Our Greater Westside Board of Trade has been doing a wonderful job going outside our community to work with other areas to show them what we have to offer. We need to support these initiatives. I also feel we need to work with our neighbouring communities from the WFN to Peachland, Summerland, Penticton and Kelowna.
5) Why do you agree or disagree that a second bridge crossing of Okanagan Lake is important to the future of West Kelowna?
I do believe we need a second bridge crossing but I also believe we need to get traffic moving. I can usually make it across the bridge just fine but it comes to a halt up bridge hill, it slows again by Butt Rd and through the downtown core. Basically where ever we have to stop for lights the traffic gets backed up. For a second crossing it needs to make sense for both sides that once the traffic is across it doesn’t stop. The Bear Creek, McKinley landing seems like a very interesting option that I feel needs looking into. If that is not a possible solution then we need to find other ways to keep traffic flowing through both communities. Estimates are for our population to double in the next 25 years. When planning a second crossing we need to make it work long into the future not just initially. The longer we wait the less land and the less options we will be left with.
In closing I would like to say I feel all of these issues intermix with one another. We need to strategize for the future in all areas. New amenities brings new business, new business bring more families, more families add to traffic issues. You really cannot have one without the others so when we are dealing with one area we need to think about the ripple effect in both the positive and the negative.