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West Kelowna Votes 2022: Tom Groat

Black Press Media is asking municipal election candidates their thoughts on various community issues
Tom Groat is running for a seat on West Kelowna council. (Photo/Tom Groat)

Black Press Media is reaching out to all candidates running for West Kelowna council in the 2022 municipal election, asking for their response to three specific issues about the community, as well as a fun question. Responses will be published in the order they are received.

Tom Groat - Council candidate

If elected, how do you think council should manage growth, development, and attainable, affordable housing in West Kelowna?

Through thoughtful development that maintains the characteristics, aesthetics and social values of our community, the City of West Kelowna should embrace manageable growth and its benefits.

Our city could follow other communities in establishing an affordable housing reserve fund to provide direct capital assistance to housing providers wishing to build or purchase rental housing targeted specifically at low-income households.

Other strategies could include DCC exemptions to increase the viability of construction of affordable housing, a tax exemption specifically for Westbank Town Centre revitalization to encourage an increase in densification and affordable housing availability, and the introduction of below-market sales and long-term leases of city-owned land to encourage affordable housing.

In your view, what is council’s responsibility to help address street and property crime in West Kelowna?

City council, in consultation with our city staff, should encourage open dialogue and discussion with our residents and law enforcement agencies to develop and maintain effective strategies that address street and property crime. Effective strategies could include PSA’s on how to reduce the risk, creation of law enforcement units that specifically target street and property crime, and creation of a resident/policing liaison committee to hear concerns and develop crime prevention strategies.

What steps do you think council could take to improve traffic flows and road infrastructure in West Kelowna?

Highway 97 and the W.R. Bennett Bridge pose the biggest challenge to traffic flow in the West Kelowna area. While a by-pass and second bridge are decades and millions of dollars away, short-term solutions are possible including the construction of a third lane coming off the Kelowna side of the bridge, an alternate middle lane on the bridge, an overpass at Boucherie Road, elimination of some of the Hwy 97 traffic lights along the westside corridor, introduce reliable public transit with express service during peak hours, and completion of a safe active transportation corridor to encourage alternatives to vehicular travel.

Council needs to address the latent demand for active transportation infrastructure. Residents want a safe, connected, inviting environment to live, work and play. Addressing the need for sidewalks, protected bike lanes, controlled crosswalks, and streetlights will create a positive environment for all ages and all users.

Who is your favourite Okanagan celebrity and why?

Ogopogo! Everyone can identify with this mythical creature. Ogopogo raises the profile of the Okanagan to the same level as the Loch Ness Monster and Mayner’s Paul Bunyan.

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