UBC Student Union OKanagan Q and A

An image of UBC OkanaganThere are now over 7500 students at UBC OKanagan Campus! The Student Union sent these questions to candidates, outlining issues of importance to this growing population.

 

 

1. For many students, the quality of public transit, or lack thereof, is a day-to-day frustration that affects our ability to travel to and from school and work. Increasing U-Pass fees, a lack of covered bus stops, and infrequency of service are of primary concern. According to the 2007 BC Transit Annual Report, between 2000 and 2006, BC Transit ridership increased roughly 31%. Service hours over the same period saw an approximate increase of only 13%.

Do you believe increased funding for public transit is a priority? If so, would you work to put pressure on the provincial and federal governments to increase funding for transit infrastructure and quality across the province? What would you do to help improve transit in Kelowna?

 

Increased funding from the federal government is a priority, which is why I support the Federation of Canadian Municipalities call for a National Transit Strategy. This Strategy would see secure, reliable funding transfers to allow for growth in the transit system. Provincially, my 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.

 

2. What will you do to make the downtown core more attractive and safer for citizens?

 

The best way make the downtown core more attractive and safer is to move forward with the implementation of both the Bernard Avenue Revitalization and the new Downtown Plan recommendations. I will continue to support both of this initiatives through appropriate budget and staffing, as well as the necessary zoning and OCP amendments. Throughout my six years on council I have focused on the quality of life issues that keep people in, and draw people to, our community. Examples in the downtown are Stuart Park, with its outdoor skating rink, the renewal of the Cenotaph in City Park, the One Block at a Time Outdoor Gallery project on Leon. I’ve supported cultural activities as well as sporting and festival events like Fat Cat Festival, the BC Summer Games, BreakOut West, and the Kelowna Dragon Boat Festival. I’ve been involved in creating supportive housing to help get our most vulnerable residents off the streets. I’ve worked hard on behalf of all business owners to keep our processes streamlined and timely and I stood up for residents, small businesses and property owners by turning down CD 21 and supporting an inclusive process for a new Downtown Plan. Finally I have served for the past three years as the council liaison to the Downtown Kelowna Association, taking the message of downtown business owners back to council and supporting their initiatives. Quality of life, with a balanced decision making process that looks at economic, environmental and social effects, will continue to be my focus in the term when re-elected.

 

3. Do you view the further development of recreation facilities and programming as important to developing a sense of community and to increase the value of Kelowna as a liveable city? What do you view is the municipal government’s responsibility in the development of such facilities and programmes?

 

Part of the municipal government’s role is recreation facilities and programming for the very reason that these help develop a sense of community and increase the city’s liveability. During my terms on council, I have supported the building of the H20 Aquatic Centre and the expansion of the Rutland Family “Y” as well as the creation of numerous parks kilometers of walking, hiking and cycling trails. I also support the programming function of the city, including both fee for service and free programming such as Parks Alive. Most recently, our council purchased land for a Glenmore Recreation Park which will serve not only th residents of North Glenmore, but the university as well.

 

4. Students across Canada continue to work to eliminate sweatshop-produced materials on campuses and to promote locally- and sustainably-produced items. The UBC Students’ Union Okanagan produces all of its campaign and promotional materials through the Ethical Purchasing Network of the Canadian Federation of Students.

Will you commit to working with locally-based manufacturers, businesses, and service providers in an effort to increase job growth in the region?

 

I applaud the UBCSUO for their use of the Ethical Purchasing Network. My personal commitment is to source from local or from fair-trade sources when possible – whether that be food, personal goods or services. As a city we are bound by certain legislated purchasing rules as well as the role of keeper of the public purse, so while I would like to say the purchasing department will always buy local this is not always possible. I do commit to ensuring that staff make sure local suppliers and producers are aware of bidding opportunities .

 

5. Do you support the work of the Urban Cycling Initiative for the creation of more bike lanes throughout Kelowna?

 

Bike lanes, both commuter and off-road, remain a high priority for me throughout Kelowna. I am committed to the funding necessary to “connect the dots” of our existing network as well as longer-term expansion, including safe bicycle routes to UBCO from Rutland and along the new east-west connector from Glenmore.

 

6. What endorsements do you currently have?

 

The Kelowna Professional Firefighters Association has endorsed me as well as the Okanagan Mission Residents Association – those are the only two that I am aware of 🙂

 

7. What are your top three budget priorities for the next fiscal year?

 

Every year council meets in late August to discuss budget priorites for the year. For 2012 my priorities were 1. Bernard Ave Revitalization, 2. the east-west Glenmore to UBCO connection and 3. the Rutland Transit Centre.

 

8. As you may be aware, there is a U-Pass Referendum currently being conducted on campus at UBC Okanagan. This Referendum, initiated by Kelowna Regional Transit and the City of Kelowna, is whether or not to raise the current U-Pass fee from $50 per semester (less a 10% subsidy from the University) to $60 per semester (less a 10% subsidy from the University). What is your vision for the future of Kelowna Transit? Do you support a ‘Yes’ vote or a ‘No’ vote on the U-Pass Referendum?

 

While I would have preferred no increase to the U-Pass, I still believe it is the best value for students at UBCO and I have been encouraging the students I know to vote “Yes” on November 18th to continue the U-Pass. I would also like to see the U-Pass opportunity extended to Okanagan College students as well as a partnership with School District 23 for high school students. These are goals I will be working on over the next three years. The secure funding from the U-Pass program helps with future planning. But more importantly, it gets our students in the habit of using public transit which I believe, along with cycling and pedestrian, is the future of transportation in our city.

 

 

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