1) What do you feel is the most significant issues facing West Kelowna and how would you suggest it be resolved?
I believe that the financial health of West Kelowna is our number one issue. We are facing hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure needs such as: sewer upgrades; road upgrades; drinking water upgrades just to name the major ones. Additionally we have road safety, parks and drainage issues that need to be addressed. None of these necessities can be done without the finances in place. I don’t think we need to increase the tax base dramatically, but we do need to control spending and cut back on the “wants” and focus on the “needs”.
We need to pay down our debt of nearly thirty million dollars. Expenses need to be reined in and departments within the municipality need to be accountable for every cent, including council. No more stipends or allowances. No more high paying positions that are not producing results.
2) What personal characteristics or background do you possess that make you an ideal candidate for council?
I previously had the honour of being the first elected Mayor of West Kelowna and following that term I was a municipal Councillor for West Kelowna. I have council experience yet more importantly I have been away from council, and that has afforded me to regain the taxpayer perspective. For the past three years I have been on the Board of the Greater Westside Board of Trade and I am aware of the benefits that local businesses provide our community along with the difficulties they face, and how the decisions of local council affect them. I am a mother and foster mother of three boys, all of whom graduated from Mount Boucherie High School. I am a seventeen year resident of West Kelowna, I love this community and want the best for my neighbours and family.
3) What is your vision for any future development of West Kelowna’s waterfront along Okanagan Lake?
We have what every community in the Okanagan has, but we are lacking the facilities to attract tourists and locals to enjoy the beauty of Okanagan Lake. I would like to bring transit to our waterfront as a means to provide access for the public to enjoy this area. Parking is limited and we should be looking at public transportation to alleviate this problem. There is huge potential in the old canary site and several development plans have been drawn up by the developer but for some reason they have stalled at city hall. This could be the site of a wonderful mixed use development that would provide services and housing along with much needed revenue to the municipality. The potential exists for outdoor activities such as a fitness circuit along the waterway along with the potential to work with the West Kelowna Yacht Club to create a unique destination.
4) What can the District of West Kelowna do to attract more business investment to the community?
Easy. The elimination of red tape and delay at municipal hall. As a board member of the West Kelowna Board of Trade I heard over and over again how small and large business and investment would not even waste their time dealing with West Kelowna municipal staff due to the ever changing and unrealistic expectations. These issues can be resolved by council making it clear that we are open for good business and investment in our community. Council also needs to adjust our bylaws and have them more in line with neighbouring communities. This will ensure that we are competitive and give investors incentives and reasons to bring their business to West 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 am not convinced that West Kelowna residents would benefit from a second crossing. I see huge provincial tax increases and the potential for a toll bridge.
What might make more sense would be lane controls on the existing bridge that work with the demands of traffic times and volumes, and elimination of lights at Boucherie, and at Abbott on the Kelowna side. These things should be looked at now because we can not wait another twenty years with the current gridlock that occurs with high traffic volumes and times.
When you look at town and cities that have bypasses built to move traffic around their communities, they often pay a huge price because there is no longer any traffic to stop and support local business. Any second crossing will serve only to move traffic onto other communities and will likely do little for residents of West Kelowna. Most residents work in neighbouring communities and will still need to access the main business and commercial areas of Kelowna.