Kelowna candidate quiz: Who do you admire on council, and why? | 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, selected 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 council?
Susan Ames: The best decision was to reject the McKinley Beach development involving 800 dwellings on 300 acres of ponderosa pine. The vote was a 4-4 split.
The worst decision was approving, by an 8-1 vote, the now 43-storey UBCO tower. Less than 20% will be for academics. It will exceed the 20-storey site limit by over double just because it is UBCO.
Which members of the current city council do you admire, and why?
Ames: I respect Charlie Hodge for ‘sticking to his guns’ on many issues that made sense and were consistent with what the public wanted.
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?
Ames: I do not belong to any federal or provincial political parties. The issues in Kelowna are my focus as these are the ones I know well. Lots of political parties, other cities, groups, and individuals have good ideas that we can benefit from.
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?
Ames: We have to remember that Harvey Avenue is really Highway 97 and it is maintained by the province. It is monitored by the BC Pavement Management System. As well, the people coming from both municipalities shop here, buy gas, eat in our restaurants, visit the wineries, etc., and they are our neighbors.
What specifically do you think the City of Kelowna should do to try reduce the crime rate, the highest in Canada?
Ames: We should have ‘beat cops’ who have a regular beat. This will discourage street and property crime. Officers would work individually and build up a relationship with people in our community/businesses on their beat. As well, Kelowna is the only major community in the Central Okanagan without a Citizens Patrol. We used to have one in Kelowna.
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 votes signed a petition against it in a one-month period?
Ames: This should have been on this election ballot. The 10,000 voter petition is impossible. The only option left for this required public support is an expensive, $300,000, referendum. I am against the current opulent proposal that would also cover more green space. I would recommend Option 2 or 4 from the 2015 Options Analysis report and save the taxpayers $60 million.
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?
Ames: No. The Glenmore-Ellison Improvement District spent $3.6 million on an ultraviolet water treatment plant which also reduces the amount of chlorine used in treating the Okanagan Lake water supply. The district also added nearly $20 million in infrastructure. Rutland Waterworks also upgraded the water supply infrastructure and modernized the system with computerized control systems, well rehabilitation, and communications upgrades.
What do you think was the pandemic’s greatest impact on Kelowna and how might the city have lessened it?
One big impact on Kelowna was the laying off restaurant and shop workers because access to these facilities by the public was limited. Many left Kelowna. Food services with drive-through options closed their in-person service during the pandemic. Many of these have not reopened their in-restaurant service and hence these jobs seem to be “permanently” lost.
Should the city revisit its rule against most homeowners being able to rent out basement suites and carriage homes through online platforms like Airbnb?
No. There is no reason to revisit this. There are multiple high-rises downtown that are designated Airbnb that serve that purpose. The basement suites and carriage homes provide affordable housing to the residents of Kelowna. It is already difficult for people to find an affordable place to rent and it is getting worse and worse.
What’s your best 60-word pitch for why voters should elect you to Kelowna city council?
Ames: I have over 30 years experience as an environmental consultant, more recently in designing and costing mine closure plans. I have a PhD with a focus on climate change. I also have been active in the community for several years and president of KSAN since 2020. I will bring my technical and social awareness, and energy to the council table.
Ever seen a ghost?
Ames: Have I been surprised at what I have seen? Yes!