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KelownaNow reached out to all mayoral, council and school trustee candidates running in Kelowna’s and West Kelowna’s 2014 Civic Election and asked them questions submitted by you, the reader.
Responses of those who chose to participate will be posted between November 3rd and November 14th in a randomly selected order.
Rosalind Neis - West Kelowna Councillor Candidate
1. What career experience do you have to be a Councillor for the District of West Kelowna? Please provide a specific example of a decision you made that affected the community.
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. For the past three years I have also been on the board of the Greater Westside Board of Trade. As a council member I fought hard to initiate the implementation of a police liaison officer at Mount Boucherie High School which was met with resistance from some members of council at the time. The high school has supported this program with open arms and is very grateful to have this addition to their school.
2. How are you going to attract businesses, residents and visitors to West Kelowna’s downtown?
First, I don't believe we have a traditional downtown and it is well known that a large majority of our citizens live in West Kelowna but work in neighbouring jurisdictions. I believe we need to take a new approach to attracting businesses for the purpose of local jobs and additions to tax revenue. We need to offer incentives that are at least equal to, if not better than neighbouring municipal incentives such as: costs for licensing; signage bylaws; and avoidance of lengthy delays for permitting and other municipal red tape. Having several local neighbourhood hubs rather than one traditional hub may be the most logical and least expensive alternative. Incentives for key types of businesses that are lacking in our community could be a method of enticing needed development, and by making our waterfront more diverse we could attract visitors and residents to support local initiatives that capitalize on our jewel....okanagan lake. Finally the municipal hall needs to implement a buy local program.
3. What do you think about West Kelowna’s current road system and what needs to be improved in the short term?
Our road system is adequate with the exemption of Glenrosa Road and a few others that in my opinion need to be completely upgraded to urban standards. What we are lacking is proper maintenance with regard to road clearing, sweeping and line painting. There needs to be a fair contract with work performance guarantees in place that are long lasting so that road and maintenance contracts are not paid out at the highest rates with no ongoing support or recourse when roads or work starts to disintegrate before their time.
Photo Credit: KelownaNow
4. As West Kelowna continues to grow, how do you plan to keep up with providing enough educational institutions?
We fortunately have just opened a new school in Rose Valley. In order to keep on top of our communities growing needs there has to be a honest and ongoing dialogue with School District 23 and the Ministry of Education. The closing of Lakeview Heights Elementary School is an example of what NOT to do. As a local government we can have an impact as long as we are informed and included in the decisions. Every local PAC could be invited to council on an annual basis and share what they are seeing on the front lines and inform council how we can help in the decisions that affect all educational levels in West Kelowna.
5. Do you think the waterfront is being properly utilized as a tourist destination in West Kelowna? What changes would you like to see made
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. Let's not forget that the Fintry Queen may still be looking for a home and I believe that would be a tremendous draw for tourists and residents to our waterfront.
6. Where do feel West Kelowna residents would most benefit from a second bridge crossing?
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 Abbot 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.
7. How do you plan on growing Agri-Tourism in West Kelowna?
I admit that this is not an area of expertise for me. I do believe that we need to retain quality agricultural land and encourage and expand our local markets for produce. We are fortunate in this valley to have experts on these issues and I would rely on their words along with the suggestions from local farmers and growers to advise council in short and long term planning.
Rosalind Neis - West Kelowna City Councillor Candidate
8. West Kelowna is growing at a rapid pace, what are your top priorities to keep up with the increasing strain on infrastructure?
Council needs to impress upon the residents the true state of our infrastructure and the true costs of ignoring, updating or replacing these systems. In order to ensure that we can afford the inevitable costs, we need to pay off our municipal debt and increase reserves to ensure we are not saddling the future generation with this massive problem. We should be putting non essential projects that will drain reserves on hold and focus on water, sewer, roads, sidewalks and street lighting to name a few.
9. What will you do to strengthen the partnership between the District of West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation?
The partnership, or lack of (depending on which government you ask) can vary greatly. My observations have led me to believe the best way to create a relationship with Westbank First Nation is to start fresh with an honest, open and respectful conversation between councils. Westbank First Nations is here to stay and should be West Kelowna's biggest ally, not our biggest foe. If we are honest, inclusive and tough, we will be respected and that will lead to benefits for both governments.
10. What would be your number one priority for the next four years as a Councillor for the District of West Kelowna?
In 2017 the service agreement that was signed by the Regional District of the Central Okanagan and Westbank First Nations becomes due. This agreement will have huge financial implications for West Kelowna residents. We need to rewrite this agreement in a language that is in keeping with fairness and equitable financial compensation for all sides with regard to services and value of services given and received. This will hopefully add to the number one priority that I would focus on and that is the financial position of our municipality. We need to pay down our debt and build our reserves. 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.
The civic election is Saturday November 15th, 2014.
For the most up to date and current information, visit our 2014 Civic Election Page.
For current information on candidates running in your community, visit the following sites:
Kelowna Votes, West Kelowna Votes, Lake Country Votes, or Peachland Votes.