Leadership and development are two of the main issues facing Peachland voters

3 want to be your mayor

Leadership, development and infrastructure seem to be the biggest issues facing Peachland voters as they decide who will lead their community for the next four years.

When Peachlanders go to the polls Oct. 15 to elect a new council, they'll have three familiar faces to choose from for mayor.

Incumbent Cindy Fortin, who won a drawing of lots after she finished in a dead heat with Harry Gough in 2018, is seeking a third term as mayor.

She's being challenged by former mayor Keith Fielding who was ousted by Fortin in 2014, and Patrick Van Minsel who is completing his first term on council.

"I feel I have so much more to give to this community," said Fortin when asked why she is seeking a third term.

"There's just so much going on that I feel I can add more to what I have already done for this community. And, I also have really good relationships with the ministers, higher levels of government and their staff."

Fortin admits development is the number one issue as it always seems to be in Peachland.

When it comes to Beach Avenue, Fortin says there is a wide difference in opinion as to what people like and don't like, but believes it's time to bring everyone together and redo the plan.

"I want to make sure we redo a Beach Avenue plan and bring everybody in that we can possibly get in to give their voice to what they would like to see along Beach Avenue.

"But, I have to stress there are so many other roads, so many other neighbourhoods and so many other people that live in Peachland.

"We have to think of the community as a whole."

Her number one priority if re-elected would be to connect sewer to as many in the community as possible.

She also says there is a need for a cumulative effect study on the community's watershed, which she says she has raised with Land, Water and Resource Stewardship Minister Josie Osborne as well as more affordable housing for Peachland's seniors.

Fielding, who served as mayor from 2008 to 2014 and is presently on council, says council lacks leadership to build consensus.

"We don't have that at the present time. I'm talking about the mayor's role which is to provide that type of inspiring leadership," says Fielding.

"We've got to establish where the community is, where it wants to b in the future and how to get there. That requires a much more consultative, and listen not tell orientation.

"Without that, we are just drifting and our future as a community is going to be decided by the ambitions of developers, rather than what the community aspires its future to look like."

Fielding points directly at Beach Avenue and a decision by council prior to the 2018 election to allow construction of a five-storey building.

"There is strong support for a three-storey height level along Beach Avenue," he contended.

"That is a key issue in the community, as is reinstating the sustainable downtown plan. When I was mayor, I worked with the UBC School of Architecture that resulted in a widely supported and popular plan for the downtown area and that had a three storey height limit on properties fronting onto Beach Avenue."

While the issue is a rehash of the 2018 campaign, Fielding does not believe the results of that election conclude residents are OK with the five-storey decision.

He says he is concerned Peachland is losing its small town charm.

Van Minsel, who won his first seat on council in 2018, says leadership and communication are both lacking in Peachland.

Since earning a seat on council, he says he has discovered a lack of partnerships, with both residents and senior levels of government.

"I think I can do better," says Van Minsel.

"You have to connect. In order to bring money to our town, you have to connect with the federal and provincial governments on a level that is respectful, where you engage with each other."

Van Minsel says the municipality is almost demanding things from federal and provincial governments instead of trying to work together and find a way to help each other.

Over the course of the campaign, Van Minsel says he has knocked on about 1,500 doors and spoken to 1,000 Peachland residents.

"I have heard mostly from people up the hill...they want more infrastructure like sewers.

"Some people want more sidewalks and people want more attention to their area instead of always looking at Beach Avenue.

"I agree with that. It 's important to us tourism wise, but it's time to start concentrating on the needs of people not living on Beach Avenue."

One thing voters won't have to worry about this time around is a judge determining the outcome as was the case four years ago.

Since Fortin and Gough finished in a tie in 2018, council has amended its election bylaws which now requires a runoff between mayoral candidates who may finish tied on election night.

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