Gail Given – Incumbent councillor
Kelowna’s recently approved 2040 Official Community Plan (OCP) and Transportation Master Plan were developed in tandem to ensure the interdependencies of land use, transportation, environment, the economy and equity are all taken into consideration as we grow into the future. It is critical that council approve growth as anticipated in the OCP with the majority being directed to our urban centres and along major transit corridors. Additional density can also be added to the core area through a variety of housing forms like townhouses, four-plexes and low-rise apartments. For sustainability, it is imperative that further sprawl up our hillsides (beyond that which has already been approved) be avoided.
Recently council approved the city’s first Community Safety Plan whose implementation is critically important. Also required is persistent lobbying in the following areas: response of the provincial and federal governments to prolific offenders, additional advocacy for mental health and addictions support services and advocacy for complex care facilities and services. In upcoming budgets, council will need to approve additional RCMP officers (thereby reducing the extreme number of files handled by each officer). As a long-range goal and to free up police resources there is a need to advocate for the addition of a mental health response option to the 911 emergency system.
No single organization can tackle these complex challenges on their own. That being said, the city can act in the role of convener, connector, and advocate. Council and the senior leadership team can and have been very effective in building relationships, lobbying other orders of government and removing local barriers. A full implementation of the Journey Home Strategy will be an important step to a better future. This requires a combined and collaborative effort from BC Housing, City of Kelowna real estate and planning teams, Interior Health, not-for-profits and several provincial ministries. Also necessary, council’s approval of housing projects, ongoing support of the affordable housing fund and land acquisition strategies.
I would have to say nx̌ax̌aitkʷ (Ogopogo). This spirit of the lake inspires us to embrace possibility, wonder, curiosity and respect for the water, and also encouragement to learn more about our First Peoples.