Kelowna candidate quiz: Ought to Kelowna take over West Kelowna and Lake Nation? | information
As part of our civic election coverage, The Daily Courier sent this questionnaire to all candidates for Kelowna city council. We stipulated a 60-word maximum to each question. Their responses, in random order, will continue up to Oct. 14
In your view, what’s the best decision and the worst decision made during the past four years by this city council?
Peter Truch: The random creation of the 2.5 Growth Scenario (which is more like 2.1) against the thousands of voices that endorsed Growth Scenario 3 through Imagine Kelowna. This cemented the City on the path of lack of transparency, accountability to residents, and subsequently, poor decision making now baked into the 20 Year Official Community Plan and Transportation Master Plan.
For those not on council: Which members of the current city council do you admire, and why? Truch: I’m not one for celebrity. That said, I respect Councilor Hodge for his tenacity and determination to continue his passion for public service, and Councilors Wooldridge and Singh for being responsive to residents.
At the municipal level, without political parties, it can be hard for voters to know something of a candidate’s overall political leanings and philosophy. Which federal and political parties do you support? If you won’t answer this question, why not?
Truch: Right now at the federal level, I do not feel well represented. I stand for a bit of everything: fiscally conscious, socially liberal, protecting the environment, and the cornerstone of every decision should be based on whether it’s good for the vast majority of people. Above all, I believe that transparency and accountability is paramount. No one party represents these values.
Seven of every 10 trips made by residents of Lake Country and West Kelowna are to Kelowna, where they put demands on municipal infrastructure, such as roads and parks, without paying any taxes for such services.
Far fewer Kelowna residents regularly drive to Lake Country or West Kelowna. Do you think the City of Kelowna should explore the idea of expanding its boundaries to take in Lake Country and West Kelowna, or attempt to get some tax revenue from residents of those communities?
Truch: Great question! Under our current system, there is no mechanism to get tax revenues from other jurisdictions. I would support advocacy between municipalities and provincially to open different possibilities. A less collaborative approach, but one that could generate a significant amount of revenue for the City of Kelowna, would be to implement a ‘user pay’ system for its infrastructure, so that the share is equitably distributed.
What specifically do you think the City of Kelowna should do to try reduce the crime rate, the highest in Canada?
Truch: Ensure affordable and attainable housing that is based on income levels and corresponding family needs. This will help everyone out, including helping recruit police to positions that have been funded, but remain unfilled due to the housing affordability crisis Council has helped create.
Would you advocate for a referendum to be held next year on the city’s proposed rebuilding of the Parkinson Rec Centre, at $166 million the costliest project ever planned by the city? Or would you be okay with the so-called alternate approval process, in which the project would automatically go ahead unless 10,000 voters signed a petition against it in a one-month period?
Truch: At no point was there ever a discussion about distribution of recreational opportunities within neighborhoods to help support the backbone of a 15 minute city (within a 15 minute walk or short drive) to a facility. I think that this should be considered before going further with planning of the “Walmart concept” for recreation. A referendum with a choice between the two options would be better.
Do you think the City of Kelowna should attempt to take over the independent water systems that serve Rutland and Glenmore, as it did with the Southeast Kelowna system, with a view to providing the same quality water throughout the city?
Truch: Yes, Kelowna should continue to work towards this goal, provided the highest standard is applied across the city.
What do you think was the pandemic’s greatest impact on Kelowna and how might the city have lessened it?
Truch: The pandemic proved that people can effectively work remotely and avoid commuting. As a result, people have flocked to Kelowna for the great climate and lifestyle. The City missed an opportunity to a) provide affordable housing for them, b) capitalize on reducing traffic c) planning for more complete communities within Kelowna.
Should the city revisit its rule against most homeowners being able to rent out basement suites and carriage homes through online platforms like Airbnb?
Truch: Yes, a review should be done to confirm the right balance between individual rights/desires to use your own property, and the greater collective need. It may be correct now, or it may need to be changed based on current conditions.
What’s your best 60-word pitch for why voters should elect you to Kelowna city council?
Truch: For eight years, nobody on Council has questioned the impacts of their decisions. Inconsistent with community-developed plans, we’re now seeing the impacts of those decisions: multiple overlapping crises of housing, affordability, traffic, environmental loss and staff shortages.
What is it going to be like in eight years from now?
Kelowna urgently needs leadership – my leadership rooted in community and as a former City staffer – that will ask the right questions and bring transparency to City Hall.
Ever seen a ghost?
Truch: Other than a politician?