A West Kelowna that works together thrives together.
We all want a community that thrives. That means investing in critical infrastructure, making sure citizens get the services they need, attracting new businesses, and effectively implementing plans to preserve and develop what we love about West Kelowna. To thrive as a community we all need to feel safe, to feel heard and valued, and to have opportunities to pursue rich and meaningful experiences.
Of course, one of the tasks for our City Council is to set priorities. Here are four areas that I will be focused on if elected.
Collaboration and relationship building
Collaboration is not a warm-and-fuzzy aspiration; it is absolutely critical to a well-functioning government. We need a government that is proactive about hearing from the diversity of voices in our community, committed to including those voices in its decision making, and transparent about the decisions that it does make. Moreover, we need our political leaders to be relationship builders. Realizing our potential as a City requires strong relationships: with the Westbank First Nation, neighbouring municipalities, the province, and local business and community groups. How governments work together across agencies and jurisdictions, as well as how they engage with stakeholders was the subject of my PhD research and I understand how difficult it can be. The payoff, though, is decisions that are better informed by facts, more responsive to the needs and values of citizens, and, crucially, much more likely to actually be implemented. Without committed and effective collaboration and relationship building, on the other hand, nothing gets done. If elected, I will emphasize a genuinely collaborative approach to our Council’s work with neighbouring municipalities and government partners, community groups, new and prospective businesses, and you.
Community health and wellbeing
I moved to West Kelowna to raise a family. I love the fact that my kids and I can walk to school, bike and hike trails just a few minutes from home, and eat the most amazing local food (I grew up in Vancouver believing that peaches were hard and tasteless). The possibilities for healthy and active living here are enormous, but there remains much to do to ensure that those possibilities are open to everyone in our community.
new and improved recreation facilities, especially for youth and families.
clean drinking water: there simply can’t be any further delays in providing all of our residents with safe drinking water.
sidewalks and bike paths would dramatically improve how we live and move in our city.
continued investments in trails and green spaces
an urgent care facility on the Westside
activity centres for both youth and seniors
continued support for community events like Westside Daze and Music in the Park.
West Kelowna is growing, and that means change. It is up to us to ensure that we preserve and enhance what we value about our community while encouraging and enabling the kinds of new growth that we want.
West Kelowna has an unwelcome reputation among the development community for red tape and moving goal posts. There is no reason to allow new development to run roughshod over our natural, rural and urban landscapes, but once we have established the ground rules we should work in cooperation with developers to get good projects done.
Downtown revitalization: Westbank Centre need not be the only centre of activity, but at the heart of our community it can and should be an attractive place for businesses and a vibrant and engaging space for us to gather and connect. Our long-term vision for West Kelowna cannot include a downtown core that is divided by a major highway and virtually discounted as a place to visit and engage with one another.
As a former member of the Waterfront Advisory Committee I know that city staff worked hard to develop a plan that will make the waterfront a more accessible and exciting focal point for residents and visitors to West Kelowna. I also understand that there are challenges to overcome in implementing this plan. So let’s get to work!
Only when we feel safe in our homes and neighbourhoods can we and our community thrive.
West Kelowna is generally a very safe community, built on a culture of caring within our neighbourhoods and supported by excellent groups like Block Watch and Community Policing. Nevertheless, there is a degree of persistent crime – break-ins, robberies, even assaults – that has not been adequately acknowledged by our political leaders. That acknowledgement needs to be a first step in addressing this issue.
West Kelowna has the lowest ratio of police officers to population of any large city in the province, as well as a dangerously low number of firefighters in our halls. Although we will not be able to correct these numbers overnight, moving them in the right direction immediately has to be a priority.
Increasing policing capacity is a necessary but insufficient response to crime; we also need to ensure that we understand its underlying causes so that we can tackle these.
Improving road safety is another urgent issue, especially for our kids. Creating a city-wide road network that enables walking and biking as a safe, viable means of transport should be a long-term goal. Right now, however, some of our kids are at enormous risk walking in neighbourhoods without any sidewalks or traffic-calming measures; this has to be addressed immediately.