Salmon Arm Chamber – 21 Questions

Thanks for the great questions! Please click on ‘Continue Reading’ for the Chamber’s Qs & my As

  1. Food availability was severely affected during extreme weather events that tore apart highways and drowned Lower Mainland farmland and farm animals; how would you work to enhance food security in this region? Salmon Arm is an agricultural community and the city can act in support of a sustainable local food system. We can do that through developing a Food & Urban Agriculture Plan that supports the increase of local food production, processing, distribution and education.  The city is best placed to convene and support this initiative. I’d like to see that happen in the next year.
  2. Climate change has altered the way municipalities view severe weather, with infrastructure, property and lives being at much greater risk. Communities across Canada now experience 1 in 1,000-year extreme weather events more commonly, resulting in huge losses Climate change is here. it’s also important to recognize recent key initiatives now onstream that have led to the city’s lowest GHG emissions since counting emissions began. I support developing a Master Climate Action Plan, increased funding of city infrastructure susceptible to climate change, our upcoming revised OCP based on sustainability lenses, No-Net-Loss tree regulations and a Food Security and Urban Agriculture Plan as immediate priorities. The soon-to-be-released comprehensive Active Transportation Plan is directly correlated to addressing climate change for the next 20 years.
  3. What is your opinion about the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in BC and this community? The lack of consistency of messaging by public health officials on this has hampered mitigation efforts. In my non-medical view, the way out of the pandemic will be a combination of vaccinations, indoor masking where needed and improved ventilation in close quarters. I’ll continue to follow the guidelines that are recommended.
  4. If there is another wave of COVID this winter that results in the province bringing back restrictions to stop the spread, will you support the institution of public health guidelines in Salmon Arm? Yes – for those related to the city’s operations – without a doubt! The city has a workplace responsibility to protect the health & safety of employees. The recommendations of public health have been followed since early on and should be if further health restrictions are recommended, I would definitely support those guidelines. The overwhelming majority of city staff have supported the decisions that have been made for their protection.
  5. Some months ago there were a number of demonstrators that regularly set up their demonstration in Blackburn Park.  Community residents who tried enjoy the park felt intimidated by these demonstrators and made complaints to City Hall.  There is a bylaw to deal with this type of infraction but there was nothing done to resolve this issue.  What is your position on keeping our parks and community areas free of these types of demonstrations? This response may not please some. Like many citizens, I abhorred these intrusive behaviours. However, it became apparent throughout local jurisdictions that the right to protest trumps regular civic bylaws – within parameters – not just here in SA but elsewhere. Most if not all local governments understood that preventing these usually temporary events was not enforceable – either through not having adequate enforcement resources or lack of support for prosecution. Further complicating things were the tactics of those involved. Organizers were rarely identified in advance. Strategies were employed by the demonstrators to have plausible deniability. It’s a vexing problem. I have the same reaction as many. However, until there is a clear direction from the legal system, we’ll have to carry on as before – unfortunately.
  6. Okanagan Avenue and 20th Street NE is a ticking bomb and very dangerous crossing at peak hours and school hours.  How would you address this? The city convenes a Traffic Safety Committee where community partners sit. Those members include city staff, RCMP, ICBC, the school district and others with experience. I will follow their professional recommendations. Additionally, the upcoming Active Transportation Plan will include a variety of traffic calming options & recommendations ranging from design to speed limits.
  7. Currently there is no secondary exit for Canoe residents west and north of 70th avenue NE, what would you propose in order to ensure access to this area in the event that 70th avenue is blocked? The new development along Canoe Beach Drive will incorporate another access by paying for what will be secondary access north to CBD and ceding that to the city. At this time, the city does not own that land for a secondary egress. It will once the development proceeds.
  8. With the Ross Street underpass opening next year, what is your vision for the downtown core and for the waterfront side in regards to attracting small businesses, attracting local and out of town customers, and ensuring that traffic flow and parking are not prohibitive factors to shopping downtown The safer, quicker and easier access between the downtown and the waterfront will attract both locals and visitors and service businesses will follow. Parking will likely be an issue at peak events but the increased safety and accessibility that will happen is a key upside – for people and businesses.
  9. Parking in the old downtown core is seriously lacking… any ideas to create more, or what do you see for the downtown core? We have to find a balance between car-centric usage (and thinking) and active transportation where key central locations become more people-designed and oriented. The solutions-finding relationships of the Active Transportation Task Force, of which Downtown Salmon Arm is a member, will address this matter. I have confidence that a solution can be brokered between competing views – but we need to actually discuss it with all the key players. That’s on the short term to-do list.
  10. What does each candidate running for office intend on doing to resolve the issue of the tents that are being erected throughout the School district property Tents are appearing on all types of land owned by a range of property owners: the city, the school district, Ministry of Highways, Adams Lake & Neskonlith Indian Bands, on crown lands and private property. It’s the responsibility of the respective land owners in question to determine and enforce what activities take place on their properties. For city owned lands, I fully support the current approach of no camping on city lands.
  11. A lack of available housing  is an important issue for Salmon Arm — including low-cost housing; how would you address this issue? It’s important to recognize that Salmon Arm has been one of the first to get approved for and actually build over 100 subsidzed (low rental) and supportive housing (social & health supports) before many other jurisdictions. That happened because of the city supporting our qualified housing providers and actively lobbying the provincial government. Our relationships with organizations and the province are based on being reliable and involved partners. Secondary suites are being approved. Multi-family developments are being supported. The issue of affordability for market entry-level homes rests with higher levels of government. There are things they can do such as incentivizing builders for the types of housing we need. The key here is for the city to be continually advocating for these measures. And we are!
  12. In what ways would you address homelessness within the vulnerable population in our community These are complex situations of poverty, addiction and mental health. We also have to keep in mind those who are nearly-homeless and build in supports before they become homeless. We need to remember that the vulnerable are our uncles, aunts, cousins, sons and daughters. They are us! The key is a Housing-First approach which is more feasible, more healthy and less costly to provide a dry roof over one’s head first then deal with the comorbid issues.  The city has to rely on BC Housing and our local housing providers to lead the way with their expertise. Nothing will be successful without funding and proven housing providers. We have those housing providers but the provincial government has the responsibility to provide the funding. A small city our size can’t do this. We have been successful so far in advocating for services. We indeed need more services and will continue to advocate for our needs.
  13.  There are other communities on the island that are entering into a collaboration of – City, private and BC housing that are contributing to a project to build small homes for the vulnerable population. Are any of you aware of this project and are any of you willing to explore this more for our community?  There are a range of initiatives I am aware of and I know that our community housing providers are as well. Each situation is unique as to land availability, access to housing and having a proven housing provider to manage the project. Land availability is a key issue here in Salmon Arm.
  14. This past year we saw an increase of 4% in property taxes to pay for increased policing costs.  Jurisdictions such as Nelson have a city police force.  Do you agree that Salmon Arm should consider a city police force and phase out the RCMP. It’s a solid “No” for me re a city police force. It’d be more expensive and less effective to transition to that model now – perhaps back in the day but not now. That large portion of last year’s tax increase went to fairly negotiated compensation for previous long-standing member contracts. I in no way begrudge that settlement for our RCMP members. It’s also important to recognize that Protective Services take up the largest portion of our city budget – and will continue to do so.
  15. Have you read through the Official Community Plan? Yes !!! plus the many component modules that go towards an OCP.
  16. What have you done in the past to contribute to the community and what do you plan on doing to continue to contribute to the community? As a current city councillor, I contribute support, my time and donations to all sorts of incredible organizations and individuals. Salmon Arm is an amazing and supportive community. Much of that support is done quietly.
  17. Devastating forest fires are a known threat to the City of Salmon Arm, what will you do to help protect our city from the threat of forest fires? Logan Lake has shown the effectiveness of fuel load mitigation courses of action. We need to manage our fuel loads but that is easier said than done. Crown lands, First Nations lands, city owned lands, agricultural properties and residents’ properties are all in play with differing responsibilities, needs and solutions. We’re surrounded by Crown lands that are the province’s responsibility to deal with. It’s a huge risk and we advocate for this mitigation. Our fire department is starting FireSmart education and assessments. Individuals are jumping on board. Some neighbourhoods have recently FireSmarted and been recognized for that. The city has a prioritized wildfire protection plan. There’s a huge list of risks and we’re annually working on this. A top priority is to reduce fuel loads around critical city infrastructure – our water systems, communications systems etc first. We are doing that through a Wildfire protection plan that has those priorities. There is much to do but again we have started.
  18. What will you do to try and decrease the amount of gases created by city residents travelling within our community as single occupants in their vehicles? Please see my platform for developing a robust up-to-date Climate Action plan. We are making in-roads on the city-side of things and reducing the behaviours of individuals is a matter of education and incentives from the province. The upcoming Active Transportation plan will recommend priority infrastructure projects for safe and connected travel. We know that if folks feel safe cycling, rolling or walking they’ll participate more. This will involve building and maintaining infrastructure through a combination of grants, reserves and taxation – if we want to see this happen. I do!
  19. The Shuswap is more and more frequently in a state of drought.  What will you do on council or as mayor to ensure that there is enough water to support the growth in population in the City of Salmon Arm? I’ll refer to both a shortage and an excess of water. Our existing water treatment plant is relatively new and has many years of life left in it. It isn’t cheap to operate or maintain however. Additionally, we need to recognize that water is a valuable resource that needs to be properly preserved and accounted for. Many of our waterlines need updating. I support a stepped move – sooner than later – to a metered water system and tighter regulations on watering. Our storm water system (excess water) needs to be updated and upgraded given climate change. The hardening of this will require ongoing investments by the city and needs to begin asap. Staff are planning options for council to consider now.
  20. A member of the public approaches you with a valid concern.  What steps would you take to address their concern? I listen closely, I ask if I’ve heard correctly then clearly indicate where I might stand on the matter. Sometimes there’s agreement. Sometimes not. Sometimes more information is required and I make sure that all parties are operating with the same knowledge. It’s all about being responsive in a timely manner. I feel I’m decent at that.
  21. CSRD is responsible for administering the Emergency Program but the city through its two sitting members on the CSRD Board can give input to the administration of emergency programs on behalf of the City.  Do you see a role that businesses should play in preventing emergencies and in helping when disaster occurs? First of all, it’s important to recognize that the Shuswap Emergency Program (SEP – which SA is a part of) is widely acknowledged for its excellence. The SEP is often one of the first called on to help other jurisdictions and in the sharing of their expertise. It’s a top quality program and service. In terms of prevention, it’s in the interests of any business to be mitigating their own risks that can come from potential larger community and regional events. Some specialized businesses do provide services under contract to both local govts and Emergency programs. In terms of helping, many businesses contract services during emergency response situations. That involves not only donations but contracted provision of services and goods as well. There are available roles already  If it hasn’t happened yet or lately, inviting the SEP in to present to the Chamber or other organizations would be a highly valuable learning experience.