Quality of Life Kelowna Questions and Answers

Here my answers to another questionnaire, this time from a group called Quality of Life Kelowna

1. “What can the city do to adopt and encourage the adoption of renewable energy technologies? Do you think the city should make net-metering and time-of-use metering available to all its electricity customers?“ asked by Peter Robinson, BC Sustainable Energy Association

One area where I lacked knowledge when first elected to city council was in renewable energy. I have made a point of attending information workshops at conferences and reading up on the various technologies including solar and geo-thermal which are particularly viable in our area. Kelowna is a BC Solar City and through our climate action plan there is a commitment to generating energy for city use. Some of the city’s current by-laws are antiquated and need to be updated to support the new technology and I support that. The city has a number of electrical customers (not the entire city, but the original city boundary area) and I support making net-metering and time-of-use metering available to them. This will take some budget allocation and it would be helpful if customers within the city’s electrical service would contact the city with requests for this.

2. “What should be Kelowna’s competitive advantage to attract diverse young professionals to our city? What are your ideas to make Kelowna more multicultural and welcoming for people of all backgrounds?” asked by Jingwei (Javid) Wu, Student, Okanagan College

Our competitive advantage should be a welcoming and inclusive community, with a vibrant cultural scene, beautiful natural areas and great recreation opportunities. I was pleased to be the city’s representative on Kelowna Community Resources “Welcoming and Inclusive Communities Committee” which identified gaps in attracting and retaining people from all backgrounds to our community and then applied and was successful in receiving funding from senior government to enact programming to help meet those gaps. One of the projects that I am particularly proud of was the inclusion of multi-cultural components into existing events. This project helped introduce multi-culturalism to many in our community, especially children, and also welcomed participation from many ethnic groups. I am also a supporter of the “Ok to Say” program which educates people about how to react to racism in our community and I arranged for 500 information cards to be distributed to city staff. I believe we need to continue with this work because it is imperative to Kelowna’s success in the future.

3. “Agriculture is one of the main industries in the Okanagan Valley and food security is a growing concern. What key actions or initiatives would you work toward ensuring the sustainability of Kelowna’s food system?” asked by Lisa McIntosh, Urban Harvest Organic Delivery

I have been an active member of the Central Okanagan Food Policy Council for over four years. Through the work of this group, a whole chapter on Food Security now exists in the updated Official Community Plan for Kelowna. There are still policies in our existing by-laws that need to be changed to allow for things like urban hens and I plan to work through these over the next term. One change that was made to the Official Community Plan that I am very proud of is the creation of an Urban Growth Boundary which protects both agricultural land and natural areas within our boundaries. I will also continue to work with the Provincial Government and the Agricultural Land Commission to promote and protect agricultural land and farmers.

4. “Kelowna has a concerning and considerable number of homeless people. There are the visibly homeless (individuals who live in shelters and other temporary arrangements) and the hidden homeless (individuals who temporarily live with relatives or friends or others, and do not access homeless support services). What kinds of initiatives would you take to identify and provide safer, more permanent housing options for individuals of both groups?” asked by Tara Schritter, Inn From the Cold

Housing is the biggest concern that I have for the citizens of Kelowna and one of the reasons I first ran for council. Through hard work and determination my terms on council have seen a number of supportive housing projects realized in all quadrants of our city. I will continue to lobby senior levels of government to come to the table in partnerships to further increase both supportive and second stage housing projects for all types of needs in our community. The Affordable Housing Strategy for Kelowna comes before Council this week and I intend to support all the recommendations in that plan as they will further address housing needs on the continuum including market and non-market rental housing and secondary suites.

5. “What will you do to ensure arts and culture will be enhanced to improve the quality of life in this community?” asked by Nataley Nagy, Kelowna Art Gallery

Arts and Culture is the important fourth pillar of sustainability. Just this past week, I supported, and Council approved, the new Cultural Plan for Kelowna, a plan that I was involved in creating over the past six years. Staff have been directed to move forward with the no or low cost items immediately. The longer term items that require funding may have to wait a few years, but I am committed to seeing the funding increases necessary to bring all the recommendations to fruition.

6. “Although Kelowna does have bike paths on major corridors, sidewalks and safe bike routes are sorely missing in some established neighborhoods such as South Pandosy and Rutland. Public transit is available in some areas, but doesn’t meet the needs of students and seniors throughout the city. What are your transportation infrastructure priorities for the Kelowna?” asked by Arnica Rowan, Cross Country Consultants

My number one priority is an agreement with the provincial government to take over control of routing and scheduling of public transit from BC Transit. This change will allow the city to be responsive and accountable for transit in our community. Meetings with the Minister in September were very productive and a review of BC Transit has now been ordered. Another priority is to “connect the dots” with our extensive bicycle and sidewalk network. Over the past few years we created a priority plan to do this and I am committed to finding the dollars needed to make this happen as soon as possible.

Michele and the mascot for the Kelowna Farmers' Market

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