Castanet News has distributed a questionnaire to city council candidates in both Kelowna and West Kelowna to help voters get to know those putting their names forward. Between the two cities, 45 people are running for city councillor.
All candidates have been given the same questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity when needed. Responses will be published daily in the weeks ahead. An interactive database of Okanagan candidates, including previous questionnaire stories, is here and is being updated daily.
Election day is Oct. 15.
Kelowna candidate: Gail Given
Why would you make an effective city councillor?
As an experienced Councillor, I have demonstrated that I am always thorough, consistent and prepared
as I represent the citizens of Kelowna. Honesty and integrity are foundational and the decisions I make
will always take into consideration the best interests of the community, as a whole.
As a lifelong learner who is both pragmatic and clear-minded, I bring the resiliency necessary to adapt to our constantly changing environment. It is my hope that my common-sense approach has earned the continued support of our citizens.
In your view, what is the number one issue facing the city today, and how would you deal with it knowing city hall only has so much power?
Both Housing Affordability and Crime/Sense of Safety significantly impact our city and throughout the province. As affordability is addressed later, I will speak to Crime and Safety. Recently Council approved the City’s first Community Safety Plan whose implementation will be critically important.
Also required: persistent lobby efforts in response to prolific offenders’ to both the Province and Federal governments, additional advocacy for mental health and addictions support services, advocacy for complex care facilities and services, and budget support for additional RCMP officers (reducing the number of files handled by each officer).
As a long-range goal and to free up police resources there is a need to advocate for the addition of a Mental Health response option to the 911 emergency system.
It could be decades before a second bridge is built across Okanagan Lake. How do you deal with Kelowna's transportation bottleneck in the meantime?
We must continue to support transportation alternatives not only from a traffic management perspective by also environmental. In the past term the completion of our OCP2040 in tandem with the Transportation Master plan ensures that future growth occurs in a more sustainable manner, allowing residents to rely less on vehicles, particularly in our Urban Centres.
Further enhancements to our transit system to offer more frequent and reliable service, continued support for e-mobility options, completion of Pedestrian and Cycling Master plan projects, support the completion of the Rail trail north of Airport, and the advancement of the Clement Avenue extension will all be positive contributors.
Do you think Kelowna is growing too fast?
Kelowna’s growth has been fairly consistent at 1-1.5% for a long period of time and remains the projected growth rate to 2040 at 1.43% per year. As a beautiful and thriving city this is unlikely to change. How and where we accommodate this growth must continue to be our greatest focus.
Historically our growth has spread up the hillsides leading to a sprawling car-centric community. Growing in a denser more compact and sustainable form in our urban centres is paramount. The notion that we can stop growth is not realistic and any policies in this direction will only lead to higher housing prices and more displaced people.
How would you make Kelowna more affordable?
Housing prices are market driven. Supply and demand are key drivers in this market; therefore, it is imperative that we continue to approve additional housing supply in an effective and timely manner. Continuing to work with BC Housing in delivering non-market housing will help to bring more attainable housing to our market place.
Effective use of our Affordable Housing fund and land acquisition strategies are also valuable tools. Additionally, to ensure a reliable new supply of purpose-built rentals it is important to maintain our existing tax incentive programs that encourage their development.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?
Sadly, $1 million does not buy much these days. That being said, I would use the money to install water filling stations along the Rail trail and on as many multi-modal corridors as possible.
My second choice would be to add publicly accessible secure bike carousels to our recreation facility locations.