• Thursday , 1 December 2022

Community centre busy for the all candidates forum

Monday night gave Peachland residents a chance to hear from candidates at the all candidates forum. The event was organised by a committee headed by Greg Sewell and it worked out very well. The MC for the event was Dan Rogers from the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce. The sound system was managed by Vince Boyko and Grant Eisworth. After the meet and greet, Council candidates gave a short introduction about themselves and then answered questions. Many of the candidates made reference to their business experience. Rainer Udala talked about the many businesses that he had setup in Peachland especially the Beach Avenue café. Nick Walsh referred to his years at the Justice Institute and the need to control spending. Mike Kent talked about his family and his work in law enforcement. He spoke about the importance of continuity on Council. Alena Glasman was proud of her 20 years in business and wanted to become the community voice. Pam Cunningham said she had worked hard and was involved in many Peachland events. Randey Brophy spoke about his years at Telus and establishing youth soccer programs in Peachland. Keith Bennett talked about establishing the Peachland Zipzone business and his vision of downtown Peachland as a garden community. Rick Ingram discussed his years as an entrepreneur and talked about his involvement in many Peachland organisations. David Collins emphasised his knowledge of planning and zoning based on years as a local real estate agent and his involvement with the Chamber of Commerce. Keith Thom talked about being a single parent and referred to his years of managing seniors care in Ontario.
Questions covered all the current issues such as the building under construction on Beach Avenue, the water supply, the availability of daycare, options for seniors, tourism, sidewalks, the Hwy 97 bypass, and public transportation. Most candidates expressed support for buildings such as Gateway on Beach Avenue with a maximum height of three storeys. The need for more daycare was agreed but most candidates recognised that solutions were hard to find. The question about delays in the planning department could be solved by hiring more staff, most candidates believed. Discussion about seniors identified the need for assisted living but lack of a good site was acknowledged. Most candidates believed that the water supply was adequate and a good plan was in place. It was expected that development cost charges, not Peachland residents, would pay the cost of the expansion of the water treatment plant in the future. The question about getting revenue from tourists brought diverse reactions. Many candidates wanted to charge non-residents for use of the boat launch. When the question about sidewalks was asked, the issue was identified as being about the high costs involved. Asphalt sidewalks rather than concrete were supported by many. The consensus on the Hwy 97 bypass was that it was not coming soon. The use of public transit was the only question that candidates did not have a good answer for; perhaps because they had not used it.
By 8pm, it was time to give the candidates for Mayor a chance to speak. Keith Fielding started by saying that listening to residents was his priority. He wants an open and respectful Council and an early review of the OCP. Patrick Van Minsel gave emphasis to his leadership skills and business experience. He said that being a member of Council had been an eye-opener for him. Cindy Fortin talked about her dedication and love for Peachland after living in the community for 37 years. On the question of vision, Keith Fielding said the vision should come from the community rather than from developers. Patrick Van Minsel stated that he had called on over 1,000 homes and heard a variety of opinions about the future vision. He said that Mayor and Council should work as a team. Cindy Fortin listed priority projects such as sewer upgrades, source water protection, affordable housing for seniors and daycare for young families.
A question about cost overruns especially regarding the splash park was awkward for all the candidates. The need to learn from the mistakes made was agreed by all three. Despite issues with information given to Council, confidence was expressed in Peachland’s CAO. With respect to development on Beach Avenue, Keith Fielding pointed out that he was the only candidate for Mayor who voted against the building currently under construction. Cindy Fortin said she supported moderate development and supported the need for a new plan for Beach Avenue. Patrick Van Minsel talked about the difficult nature of planning decisions. He was listening to residents and some were happy with the five storey height. A discussion about relations with other levels of government brought diverse reactions. Keith Fielding spoke about the need to be “the squeaky wheel” and be heard. Patrick Van Minsel said that relations with the provincial and federal governments were not good and should be improved. In answer to that, Cindy Fortin said she was persistent in looking after Peachland’s interest and that she has good relations with our MP and MLA.
A common theme from most candidates was the need to get more grant money from other levels of government. Such issues as sidewalk construction and the completion of the sewer system could only go ahead with the help of outside funding. Peachland’s needs were recognised as being too great to be funded directly from taxation. During the forum, candidates gave polite applause to other candidates. Despite many different opinions on some issues, everyone was very respectful and there was very little conflict. The meet and greets at the start and the end of the meeting were well-used by the audience. Overall it was a very useful event to engage the candidates and find their views.

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