Stephen Johnston officially registered Oct. 8 as a candidate for mayor of the District of West Kelowna.
Johnston is the first mayoral candidate to officially run against incumbent Doug Findlater.
“I’m looking forward to a great campaign and getting our message out,” said Johnston.
“I’m excited about promoting a vision of a connected and vibrant community that engages our youth, celebrates our identity, and looks to the future through thoughtful and focused development.”
Johnston has launched his Facebook page and plans to introduce his own campaign website.
Johnston’s platform centres around the idea of a connected community. “West Kelowna is an amazing place to live full of great neighbourhoods with a lot of history. But not all these neighbourhoods have substantial hubs: places where people can gather, connect, and get to know one another,” he explains.
“One example is we need to utilize our waterfront to maximize our mixed use development potential. I want to see the waterfront become a hub of community interaction, with places where people can linger over a coffee or an ice cream, or even purchase a place to live.”
Johnston suggests, for example, that a three to four storey townhouse and apartment development is viable on currently vacant or under-utilized lands in the Gellatly area (pg. 56 Waterfront Plan), and believes that the timeline on the 2011 Waterfront Plan can be shortened.
Johnston, with young children of his own, is also committed to providing greater opportunities for youth. He believes that West Kelowna needs to be a place where our children and grand-children have safe and enjoyable things to do year-round.
“I’m behind the youth initiative to build a new skateboard park as soon as possible and explore other possibilities that help make our community a great place for young families.”
Johnston also wants to capture the imagination of those that will soon reach the age of majority by working with Mt. Boucherie Secondary School to establish a junior council.
He wants to help create a space where students can see the importance of being involved in the political process as well as realize how much influence a citizen in any community really does have.
As for development, Johnston believes that fostering sustainable economic growth begins with attracting developers and investors to West Kelowna.
“Currently our development process is prohibitive and covered in red tape. We need to find new ways to show investors that West Kelowna is open for business,” he says.
“We can begin to do this by offering priority processing, fee discounts, and short-term tax exemptions in designated development areas. The tax burden needs to shift from homeowners to a more diversified, vibrant town centre. The development of new commercial centres leads to more employment opportunities, so people can really live, work and play in West Kelowna.”