The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce asked eight questions of all five of the candidates in the Kelowna-West by-election.  Their responses are here, to help you, our members, find out more about the candidates and to inform your voting decision.  

We co-hosted an all-candidates forum in concert with the Greater Westside Board of Trade, on Wednesday, January 31.  There is also an all-candidates forum on Friday February 2 at the Okanagan Innovation Centre, 460 Doyle Street in downtown Kelowna.  Doors open at 11:30 with Candidate Statements at 12 noon sharp, and Q&A until 1:00 p.m.  Candidates will be available until 1:30 for additional one-on-one conversation with attendees. Space is limited.

The opinions expressed by the candidates on our website are their own, and do not represent the opinions of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Westside Board of Trade, nor their boards or staff. The answers have not been edited and appear as submitted.

Kyle Geronazzo
Libertarian Party
Read Kyle's responses to our questions
Ben Stewart
BC Liberal Party
Read Ben's responses to our questions
Mark Thompson
BC Conservative Party
Read Mark's responses to our questions

Shelley's Responses

How will you determine the level of government spending, and will you commit to keeping growth in public spending to the rate of growth in population and economic growth?

British Columbians want an economy that works for people, not just those at the very top.

For years, the BC Liberals bragged about surpluses while hiking taxes and fees on people and leaving British Columbians struggling with rising costs and out of control housing prices. While they gave tax breaks to the richest, they doubled MSP premiums and raised hydro rates by 70%. They promised a “Debt Free BC” but the province’s debt actually doubled on their watch and their mismanagement left a billion-dollar hole at ICBC.

The BC NDP government will balance the books while also investing in making life more affordable, improving services, and creating good jobs across the province. Our party presented a balanced Budget Update that invests in people by cutting MSP premiums in half, adding more than $600 million to help our kids get the education they deserve, and supporting job creators by cutting taxes for small businesses.

Under the BC NDP government, BC leads the country in job growth, has the lowest unemployment rate in almost a decade, and is increasing exports. Three leading bond-rating agencies have confirmed BC’s AAA credit rating based on the BC NDP government’s responsible economic management. Our party will continue to carefully manage the province’s finances while making government work for people.

What will you do to ensure the Kelowna north end connecter via Highway 33/Clement Ave. extension is implemented for Kelowna?  When?

The BC Liberals had years to implement the Clement Avenue extension, but didn’t go ahead with it. The NDP is committed to talking to municipalities and working with them to determine the best way to bring forward transportation solutions. The BC NDP government has committed to a record capital investment program. As MLA for Kelowna-West, I will advocate for Kelowna to receive the investment in transportation it needs.

What’s your vision for improving the movement of goods and people through the central Okanagan?

It’s important that we plan for better, more efficient transportation with the input of communities around the region. The NDP will work with municipalities to determine the best way to implement transportation solutions in the area. As MLA for Kelowna-West, I will advocate on behalf of my constituents for the Okanagan to receive the investments in transportation infrastructure it needs and deserves.

Knowing that access to medicine and family doctors is critically important for a growing region, what will you do to respond to this major issue and do you support the implementation of Physician-extenders (not MDs) supplementing health care locally as one option? 

The number of British Columbians without a family doctor has grown under the BC Liberal government that spent sixteen years undermining public healthcare. The BC NDP is committed to increasing the number of family doctors but are also focusing more effort on team-based care.

We need more nurse practitioners in the province to help relieve some of the strain built up over the sixteen years of BC Liberal mismanagement. We will continue efforts to train and recruit more doctors to communities outside of the Lower Mainland, but the training and recruitment of nurse practitioners for some primary care will be a part of a balanced approach to primary care.

What would you do for local farmers, who are becoming increasingly reliant on agri-tourism and other ag-related business activities, to support diversification of their farming businesses?

For years the BC Liberals politically manipulated the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) and saw decisions that weren’t based on protecting farmland or ensuring farmers could continue to make a living. The BC NDP promised to revitalize the ALC and Minister Popham recently launched the panel tasked with consulting farmers on revitalizing the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). Farmers need a say in any changes to how the provincial government manages the ALR because their livelihoods rely on its proper management.

I’m also very proud of the BC NDP and our work on food security and our commitment to ensuring public facilities like hospitals source more BC food products. Ensuring local supplies of food will help enhance domestic markets for BC farmers.

Mental health issues affect one in five citizens in our community and have a deleterious impact on the business community.  BC Housing has provided a “low barrier” warehouse in downtown Kelowna to shelter 80 people until the end of March. Come Spring 2018, what do you propose will happen to these people being housed there?

The BC NDP campaigned on and delivered on our promise to create a new Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. The dedicated ministry will ensure greater accountability through the overdose crisis and provide effective and efficient solutions for British Columbians affected by mental health issues and addictions. We are increasing resources to prevent overdose deaths and to help people with mental health and addictions challenges access the treatment they need.

One of the key pieces to help people dealing with mental health and addictions is ensuring they have access to housing. Our NDP government is working with Kelowna to deliver over a hundred units of modular housing at two sites in Kelowna. These homes will have wraparound supports that can include job training, counseling, and connections with mental health and addiction treatment services.

The BC NDP government is also working with the City of Kelowna to open additional permanent supportive housing to ensure that there are enough housing options for those in need, including people currently accessing the temporary winter shelter.

What is your position on the carbon tax and plans to address Provincial targets for greenhouse gas reductions?

British Columbians want a government that will show leadership in addressing climate change while creating a sustainable economy with good jobs throughout the province. Unfortunately, the BC Liberals completely stalled out on climate action and failed to come close to meeting our greenhouse gas reduction targets. They convened a climate leadership panel and then ignored nearly every one of their recommendations. The BC Liberals’ plan would make low and middle-income people pay more while letting big polluters off the hook.

Our party is committed to tackling climate change in a way that helps BC prosper economically while also protecting the pocketbooks of BC families. The BC NDP government has established an advisory council for climate solutions and clean growth to help us build a climate action plan to meet our Provincial targets for greenhouse gas reductions while building good sustainable jobs.

The BC NDP government is gradually phasing in the federally mandated carbon price starting in April so that businesses have the certainty and predictability they need. We will provide climate action rebate cheques to low and middle-income families to ensure they are better off financially than under the BC Liberals’ plan. We will also invest in green initiatives like public transit and clean technology that reduce emissions while creating good jobs and making life better for people living in our province.

This is incredibly important work that will affect generations to come and I am proud of my party’s commitment to deliver on climate action.

Access to safe, clean, potable water in both the short term and long term is a major issue if our region is to grow and proposer. The agricultural industry also needs access to water. What is your position on how this should be managed?

People in our region and across the province want and deserve access to clean, safe drinking water. We all have a stake in carefully managing our water resources to ensure we can continue to grow agricultural products and serve growing communities for years to come. Since forming government, the BC NDP appointed a respected academic to conduct an independent review of the nearby Hullcar Aquifer and provide recommendations on improvements to protect drinking water in communities throughout BC. People of our region should be looking at how some of these recommendations could benefit our communities.

It is critical that we work with both industry and local communities to develop long-term plans. The agricultural industry has been and must continue to be a partner in finding solutions that ensure our communities have access to safe drinking water while we continue to meet the needs of local farmers.

 



 


Kyle's Responses

How will you determine the level of government spending, and will you commit to keeping growth in public spending to the rate of growth in population and economic growth?

As a Libertarian I am committed to reducing taxation on British Columbians in order to improve the health of our economy and to make life in BC more affordable. The reduction of taxes must at the same time be accompanied by a reduction in government regulation and spending to avoid growing our dept. Services of government not focused on preserving the life, liberty, and property rights of all citizens should be delivered by the voluntary sector or municipalities.

What will you do to ensure the Kelowna north end connecter via Highway 33/Clement Ave. extension is implemented for Kelowna?  When?

Proper road management is vital for a growing population and economy. As a long-time resident of Kelowna, I have first-hand experience with the congestion that can choke our highway to a grinding halt. A single six-lane highway is quickly becoming inadequate for the number of motorists in our city.

As Libertarian I am committed to reduce the inefficiencies in government and cut through the red tape preventing growth in our communities. With these guiding principals I would aim to tackle the bureaucracy preventing this expansion from finally starting.

What’s your vision for improving the movement of goods and people through the central Okanagan?

It’s about time that we ended ICBC’s monopoly on basic auto insurance. Competition would drive down costs and allow more low income residents to afford a vehicle, and help more families to afford two. BC deserves the choice.

We need to finally catch up with the rest of the world and permit the ride-sharing economy (Uber, Lyft, ect.) to bloom in BC. This will directly help those on low or fixed incomes, or anyone without a car, to get where they need without needing to rely on our slow, costly, and inefficient public transit system.

Within the Okanagan I would advocate for removing speed bumps from all public roads, as they have been linked to increases in carbon emissions, greater wear on larger vehicles, and emergency response times, which is a vital concern for the Okanagan’s large retirement population. In the name of safety I would seek to remove red light cameras from Okanagan intersections as they have been linked to increases in rear-end collisions in the intersections where they have been installed.

Knowing that access to medicine and family doctors is critically important for a growing region, what will you do to respond to this major issue and do you support the implementation of Physician-extenders (not MDs) supplementing health care locally as one option? 

With our growing and aging population, access to medicine and treatment is vitally important for the Okanagan and BC as a whole. It’s time that we acknowledge that our healthcare system is lagging behind. The World Health Organization ranks Canada’s health system as only the 30th out of the world., and each year our waiting lists grow longer and longer.

It is for this reason that I am in full support of Physician extenders to supplement our health care system. For our system to improve, we need more care givers and we need them soon.

What would you do for local farmers, who are becoming increasingly reliant on agri-tourism and other ag-related business activities, to support diversification of their farming businesses?

I must admit that I do not have first-hand farm experience. If elected MLA one of my first acts would reach out to our local farmers and touch base on the issues that affect them the most. From my outsider’s perspective, there are a number of issues that I have identified that would help keep our local farms sustainable.

I would push for deregulating labour so that our farms could to pay farmhands what they can afford, instead of what a politician dictates.

Internal trade barriers between the provinces are in direct violation of Section 121 of Canada’s Constitution Act, 1867. As MLA I would challenge all trade barriers to BC business and promote free trade between the provinces to allow our farmers to more easily trade their product throughout Canada.

Lastly, I would fight to remove BC from Supply Management. This would allow our BC farmers to sell as much as they can produce while charging a lower fair amount to consumers.

Mental health issues affect one in five citizens in our community and have a deleterious impact on the business community.  BC Housing has provided a “low barrier” warehouse in downtown Kelowna to shelter 80 people until the end of March. Come Spring 2018, what do you propose will happen to these people being housed there?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health and helping our underprivileged. Care is always best provided as close to the source as possible so that it can be tailored on a case-by-case basis. Charities and non-profits provide a more humanized effective approach to provide real help to people because they get to see them face-to-face as people, not just numbers.

The Okanagan Mental Health Services Society is doing great work providing housing and employment services to people suffering from mental illness. But their services aren’t enough meet the demand. I pledge to donate 10% of my campaign budget to the Society, and challenge my fellow candidates to make the same commitment. Libertarians believe that if you see a problem in society, you should step up and do something about it yourself. Asking politicians to fix the problem with other people’s money just doesn’t cut it.

What is your position on the carbon tax and plans to address Provincial targets for greenhouse gas reductions?

First of all, I would axe the carbon tax. Gas is already too expensive, and owning a vehicle is out of reach of too many to justify adding an artificial price hike at the pump. Furthermore, it hasn’t been conclusively demonstrated that carbon taxes have a significant effect in reducing greenhouse gas emission. Second, I would keep the tax deductions that were introduced alongside the carbon tax to ensure that axing the carbon tax would be a true tax cut that would benefit British Columbians.

Rather than a carbon tax I propose that BC takes an alternative path in tackling greenhouse gasses. Compressed natural gas burns cleaner than petroleum fuels, and conversion kits are available for vehicles that can reduce a vehicle’s carbon footprint by as much as 40%. Another more recent solution for GHG has come in the form of algae farming. Algae can absorb 50 times more greenhouse gasses than land-based vegetation with the same biomass, and may also be used as a clean bio-fuel. Both are free market solutions that can come at no cost to the overburdened tax payer.

There other environmental concerns that I believe are being ignored in favor of climate change. From the increasing acidity of our oceans, species extinction bleaching of the coral reef, to harvesting of virgin forests. I believe we have too much at state to hung up on only one aspect our world’s suffering.

Access to safe, clean, potable water in both the short term and long term is a major issue if our region is to grow and proposer. The agricultural industry also needs access to water. What is your position on how this should be managed?

Unfortunately, the only way to reduce waste of our valley’s water and ensure access to safe and clean water for all is to put a price on it. I would advocate for a small price to be placed on the consumption of our water in a way that would be revenue-neutral to both Okanagan citizens and industry. As long as we’re giving away our water at no cost, there will be no motivation to preserve it and reduce the inefficiencies in our water use.


Ben's Responses

How will you determine the level of government spending, and will you commit to keeping growth in public spending to the rate of growth in population and economic growth?

The key to ensuring that prosperity remains within the grasp of all British Columbians is keeping our economy strong. To do that, we need to carefully manage government spending.

That’s why the previous BC Liberal government worked hard to deliver five consecutive balanced budgets by living within our means. This ensured interest costs remained low and provided the fiscal flexibility for capital investments such as; Mar Jok Elementary school, Interior Heart and Surgical Centre at KGH, UBCO and the Okanagan College Trades expansion, and Westside Road improvements are some of the many capital infrastructure projects. Since 2014 investment in Kelowna and surrounding area has totaled more than $730 million dollars.

We’ve already seen the NDP government start to degrade BC’s fiscal position.  In their September budget update, the NDP raised taxes – despite inheriting a budget surplus of more than $2.6 billion from the BC Liberals.

The NDP’s changes to the carbon tax alone will cost an average BC family $200 a year more by the next election.

If elected, I will continue to advocate for a balanced approached to public spending, one that ensures our finances remain strong so we can continue to spend on much needed priorities without raising taxes on British Columbia families.      

What will you do to ensure the Kelowna north end connecter via Highway 33/Clement Ave. extension is implemented for Kelowna?  When?

If elected I will work with local governments to advocate for completion of the North End Connector. I along with my BC Liberal colleagues have identified this project as an important priority for our community and I will advocate that the government start moving on this project as quickly as possible. 

What’s your vision for improving the movement of goods and people through the central Okanagan?

As our communities in the Okanagan continue to grow it is important that we put in place a plan that ensures we have a safe, reliable and efficient transportation network throughout the central Okanagan.

If elected I will advocate for continued investments in infrastructure that helps connect our communities.  I was proud when the previous government unveiled the William R. Bennett Bridge and when we started construction on road improvements to Highway 97, and while these will help improve traffic flow in our communities, it is also vital that we continue to look towards the future.

A big part of why I’m running is because I believe we need to take a long-term approach to addressing the transportation needs of our communities. Instead of planning for the next 5 years, if we truly want livable communities we need to plan for the next 50 years and that means taking a cooperative approach with other levels of government, leveraging federal dollars and local community dollars to make investments in needed transportation priorities that will better connect our communities as we grow and prosper.     

Knowing that access to medicine and family doctors is critically important for a growing region, what will you do to respond to this major issue and do you support the implementation of Physician-extenders (not MDs) supplementing health care locally as one option?

Innovation is the key to providing critically important medical services as we address the growing demographic shift towards an aging population.

That’s why the previous BC Liberal government introduced the nurse practitioner (physician extender) program to help diversify the way our health care is delivered. I think we need to look at other ways we can implement a further range of nurse practitioner - physician extenders to help alleviate the strain on our current health care system.

If elected I would work closely with stakeholders on a plan that we can take to government that looks at how nurse practitioners – physician extenders can help to further improve our healthcare services.   

What would you do for local farmers, who are becoming increasingly reliant on agri-tourism and other ag-related business activities, to support diversification of their farming businesses?

One key thing we can do to help local farmers is continue to expand BC’s access to overseas markets. As BC’s trade representative in Asia I was proud of the work we did to help local farmers gain access to new and emerging markets for their goods. For example, local cherry growers have seen strong growth in Asian markets, particularly in China where BC cherry exports now total more than $24 million dollars annually.  

To ensure agriculture land use decisions continue to be made with local input, it’s important to have local people who understand the specific regional issues making land use decisions when it comes to agriculture. I don’t believe bureaucrats in Vancouver and Victoria should be making land use decisions for local farmers here in the Okanagan. 

Mental health issues affect one in five citizens in our community and have a deleterious impact on the business community.  BC Housing has provided a “low barrier” warehouse in downtown Kelowna to shelter 80 people until the end of March. Come Spring 2018, what do you propose will happen to these people being housed there?

Tackling the challenges provided by mental illness has to be a priority for government. We need to continue to inform and educate so we can work towards eliminating the stigma attached to mental illness. This makes it easier and more likely for people to seek out the treatment they need.

We also need to make further investments and ensure that treatment and services are available to those who need our help.

When it comes to the shelter in downtown Kelowna, we should be doing everything we can to ensure those people find long term housing solutions. That’s why the previous BC Liberal government invested $5 million dollars to convert the Econo Lodge downtown into 44 self-contained units for people with low incomes who struggle to find suitable, affordable housing in the community.

I will support the City of Kelowna’s new “Journey Home” strategy with Dr. Alina Turner to try and end homelessness and establish more affordable housing in Kelowna.

What is your position on the carbon tax and plans to address Provincial targets for greenhouse gas reductions?

One of the first things the NDP government did after taking power was announce that they were planning on increasing the carbon tax and making it no longer revenue neutral. This means an increase in costs for all British Columbians. It’s estimated that once all the NDP/Green government increases have come into effect it will cost an average BC family more than $200 a year.

We don’t believe this is fair.  Taking action to combat climate change is important, and that’s why the BC Liberal government introduced the first North American Carbon Tax.  We were careful to ensure that the tax was revenue neutral, meaning any increase in the Carbon Tax had to be offset by cuts to other taxes.

The BC Liberal government demonstrated significant reductions to CO2 emissions by changing people’s behavior but not increasing the overall tax burden facing British Columbians.  The NDP’s decision to eliminate the revenue neutrality of the carbon tax will make life more unaffordable for BC families.

Access to safe, clean, potable water in both the short term and long term is a major issue if our region is to grow and proposer. The agricultural industry also needs access to water. What is your position on how this should be managed?

Ensuring access to clean, reliable, and safe water is vital for not just our agriculture producers but also our communities.  With the passing of the Water Sustainability Act in 2016 the BC Liberal government helped to modernize the act and was recognized by the United Nations in 2016 for its leadership on the environment, and I want to continue that legacy. 

With the combined investment from Provincial and Federal funding of over $84 million dollars the BC Liberal government improved local water quality for domestic users and modernized the separation between agriculture and homeowners water use in the cities of West Kelowna and Kelowna.


Robert's Responses

How will you determine the level of government spending, and will you commit to keeping growth in public spending to the rate of growth in population and economic growth?

The BC Liberals have left a massive social and economic debt through the use of deferred accounts to give the illusion of a balanced budget and fiscal responsibility. A real measure of fiscal responsibility is if true value is generated in the economy and if people are better off.  By many social indicators, we are among the worst in the country and lack of action on housing affordability has left us economically vulnerable and generations left behind.

Voters recognized this. Only the BC Greens platform committed to a balanced budget within their four year mandate that also prioritizes smart social policy that creates net economic benefit, business certainly to enable growth, and prepares BC to be a leader in the emerging economy.

What will you do to ensure the Kelowna north end connecter via Highway 33/Clement Ave. extension is implemented for Kelowna?  When?

The recent Central Okanagan Planning Study identified congestion levels along the Highway 97 corridor. The area between Highway 33 and Spall is among the highest congestion. The design of the connector is not shovel ready and is only 30% complete with potential costs of $50 - $70 million.  

This project is one of many that are part of the Regional Strategic Transportation Plan. It’s important that projects be prioritized based on their effectiveness to move people and goods rather than politically prioritized as has been the case.

The connector, for example, would have likely provided greater benefit than the recent 6 laneing of Highway 97 at similar cost.

BC Greens are supportive of evidence-based decision making and the needs of local communities. Therefore, the BC Greens would support this project if the analysis proves it to provide the greatest benefit to move people and goods.

What’s your vision for improving the movement of goods and people through the central Okanagan?

Congestion is a top local issue and something needs to be done. Statistically, the Okanagan has one of the highest car ownership rates in Canada which is attributed to auto-oriented development. It’s easy to imagine a doubling of the population and it’s important to consider the impact that could have on livability.

Learning from 1950’s city building, more cars and roads only lead to more congestion. This has been the approach of the BC Liberals. While politically popular, this is ineffective and threatens the quality of the region that drives our economy.

Our challenges are an opportunity for 21st century city building. We need to stop just building roads and build better transportation options to move people so that roads are free to move goods and business.

The fiscally responsible thing to do is to prioritize transportation demand management and provide tools for local government to implement them.  We need BC Transit to act like a business with aggressive ridership growth targets.

We need to plan for rapid transit between the airport and downtown via the rail corridor and concentrate growth in those areas. We need to connect this region from Vernon to Osoyoos with reliable, direct transit to be a regional economic centre. Let’s support active transportation.

We need to enlist the tech sector to create technology innovation that can be exported globally. The BC Greens are pushing for ride hailing because if we want to be a tech leader we need to be able to embrace tech.

Knowing that access to medicine and family doctors is critically important for a growing region, what will you do to respond to this major issue and do you support the implementation of Physician-extenders (not MDs) supplementing health care locally as one option?  

Most family doctors are also small business owners. In addition to being qualified doctor, to start and run a practice can be a daunting challenge. We know that mentorship to help young doctors start practices and models that would provide doctors a place to practice family medicine could be part of the solution. The BC Greens support evidence based decision making. Effective new solutions are needed in health care to provide effective outcomes and keep healthcare costs down. The use of Physician-extenders could be one such solution. The BC Greens also support healthy living, wellness and preventative medicine as it’s better and more cost effective to prevent people from getting sick, as well that it’s important for our aging population to be able to age in place and stay well.

What would you do for local farmers, who are becoming increasingly reliant on agri-tourism and other ag-related business activities, to support diversification of their farming businesses?

Our food security relies on the productive use of farm land which requires farmers to earn a living. The BC Greens support the Buy Local program and diversification to make farming viable and create value-added products.  We look forward to the results of the ALR Advisory Committee’s consultation to determine how the ALR could be modernized to achieve these goals.

Mental health issues affect one in five citizens in our community and have a deleterious impact on the business community.  BC Housing has provided a “low barrier” warehouse in downtown Kelowna to shelter 80 people until the end of March. Come Spring 2018, what do you propose will happen to these people being housed there?

Homelessness, and particularly for people with mental health and addiction has reached a crisis point. Unfortunately, the immediate need is for crisis management rather than prevention.  

There are new housing options that will be available to help this year. In the short term, 20 supportive housing units operated by the Canadian Mental Health Association will be available at the former Good Night Inn at 2639 Highway 97. Later this year BC Housing will have 55 units available at 1642 Commerce Ave. This isn’t enough however, for the remaining 60 who need housing at the end of March.  

Additional short-term spaces resourced with adequate support services are needed. These could potentially come from Kelowna motels that are often used for short term housing and have low rates and high vacancy over the off season. It is also worth exploring if any of the residents are displaced from neighboring communities due to lack of housing and services as accommodations elsewhere may be needed.

Over the long term, the City of Kelowna currently has a Journey Home Task Force that is looking at a long-term strategy and coordinated approach which will include a role for the province to prevent homelessness.

What is your position on the carbon tax and plans to address Provincial targets for greenhouse gas reductions?

Actions by the BC Government need to align with the Provincial greenhouse gas reduction targets.

BC’s carbon tax was a model to the world in showing that it is possible to reduce carbon emissions and have a thriving economy. Unfortunately, the Clark Liberals accepted credit for it while at the same time dismantling the climate leadership of Mr. Campbell.

Carbon taxes are praised by economists as an efficient means to reduce carbon emissions. It creates innovation by providing business with certainty. This part was missed when the BC NDP waged their “Axe the Tax Campaign” and when the Clark government froze the carbon tax.

It is a multigenerational mistake that on one hand the government has committed to carbon reduction targets and on the other hand, invests in projects that only increase fossil fuel dependence. The short sighted 1950s approach to transportation projects and lack of leadership on building energy efficiency is exactly that.

The elimination of tolls on the Port Mann bridge increased traffic volume.

The Clark government eliminated Live Smart BC and other conservation programs in an effort to induce electricity demand to justify Site C.

Fortunately, the BC Energy Step Code will result in all new buildings being net-zero ready by 2032, however, there is no reason why BC had to wait so long for policy that will enable meaningful improvements in building energy efficiency and lower people’s energy costs.

The future is low carbon and BC has an opportunity to seize its economic opportunities.

Access to safe, clean, potable water in both the short term and long term is a major issue if our region is to grow and proposer. The agricultural industry also needs access to water. What is your position on how this should be managed?

Both Kelowna and West Kelowna have had significant investments in improving water quality and availability. As the region grows and with climate change, the quantity and quality of water will affect availability and the level of treatment required.

The Kelowna-West riding has among the highest per capita water consumption in the world. We therefore need to be proactive in reducing the overall water use per person which may include education, businesses collaborations, and carrot and stick approaches.

The issue of water quality it a larger one related to the need to value Natural Capital. The services of natural assets are cheaper and more resilient than grey infrastructure, yet they are significantly compromised in this valley. This region desperately needs action to protect its watersheds.

Sixteen years of short-sighted mismanagement of natural resources in this province has left a significant debt to wildlife populations, water quality, climate change resilience, and economic sectors reliant on our forests and watersheds.

These have direct long-term costs and in many cases have resulted in a net negative impact on nearby communities including water quality and tourism revenue.

The BC Greens want a Natural Resources Commissioner established to oversee the professional reliance model, establish sustainable harvest levels and to report on the state of the Province's natural assets. The BC Greens also support a sustainable funding model for the fish and wildlife branch and habitat protection.


Mark's Responses

How will you determine the level of government spending, and will you commit to keeping growth in public spending to the rate of growth in population and economic growth?

In general, government spending needs to be capped at no more than the current level of spending with a focused priority to erase the provincial debt over a 25 year period.  Yes I will commit to keeping growth in public spending to the rate of growth in population and economic growth. To be clear Fudget Budget action such as the recent Robbery of ICBC funds to balance the provincial budget should be illegal. It is a fraudulent BC Liberal action.

What will you do to ensure the Kelowna north end connecter via Highway 33/Clement Ave. extension is implemented for Kelowna?  When?

This is a long-term planning item. We should first look at an infrastructure plan that would improve the efficiency of the existing “New Bridge”.  Springfield, Harvey and Clement need an improved traffic design. Keeping traffic moving rather than a lot of stops and starts can substantially improve the flow.  This is also true in West Kelowna where Highway 97 has too many stop lights. Overpasses become a necessary infrastructure for efficient traffic flow in high density traffic.  Subject to being able to finance the second bridge without total budget increases beyond the factor mention in item one, 10 years is an appropriate goal.

What’s your vision for improving the movement of goods and people through the central Okanagan?

A modern transit plan based a concept of reliable quick timing if we take the bus will be both environmentally pleasing and reduce the requirement for extending more lanes on the road ways. Transit service from Penticton to Vernon has merit. It is currently very difficult to survive in the area without use of an automobile because it is almost impossible to  get somewhere in a reasonable time using the bus. Enhancing the intercity bus service for people and freight is part of the solution.

Knowing that access to medicine and family doctors is critically important for a growing region, what will you do to respond to this major issue and do you support the implementation of Physician-extenders (not MDs) supplementing health care locally as one option?

My first priority is the establishment of a Trauma and general Community Health Centre in West Kelowna with easy access for West Kelowna and Westbank citizens. Just like an auto mall this site could include auxiliary private sector services such as private doctor’s offices, laboratory facilities, pharmacy, nutrition and other related services.  Home care is critically underfunded within health care dollar distribution. It is a fact that seniors feel best in their own homes and it is the most efficient means of improving the quality of life for seniors. Physician-extenders are clearly a great efficiency option to be utilized.  We need to think outside the box. Take a look at the Federal Hall Commission Report on the development of a Community Health Model.

What would you do for local farmers, who are becoming increasingly reliant on agri-tourism and other ag-related business activities, to support diversification of their farming businesses?

The ALR designation has tended to box in agriculture from innovation.  Agri-tourism is just one option. Many communities have housing development around golf courses. Similarly we should look at mixed use development within the ALR. Limited but extended from what we allow today. What would be wrong with a Hotel with a focus on educating tourists providing a farm experience inside the ALR.  A general principle of planning is optimize for highest and best use. Traditional farming isn’t necessarily the highest and best use. Controlled expansion of possible uses should be considered.

Mental health issues affect one in five citizens in our community and have a deleterious impact on the business community.  BC Housing has provided a “low barrier” warehouse in downtown Kelowna to shelter 80 people until the end of March. Come Spring 2018, what do you propose will happen to these people being housed there?

The problem is much larger than 80 people. As you point out the issue is realistically defined as 1 in 5 people or perhaps 35,000 people in Kelowna, West Kelowna And Westbank First Nation. This is consistent with my experience as a dispending pharmacist. Education is step one to create a community plan.  We need to recognize it as a disease and stop the discrimination. I suspect the great majority of people suffer from depression at sometime in their life, so to say we are all part of this is a truism. The concept of preventative healthcare is mostly treated with lip service but it is the answer. People need a clear path to ask for help. We should pressure the federal government to re-implement  the former housing program aimed at building more dedicated housing projects.

What is your position on the carbon tax and plans to address Provincial targets for greenhouse gas reductions?

Our position is to Scrap the Carbon Tax.  A common position with Saskatchewan and Alberta should be the position of British Columbia.  It is an unfair tax also discriminating against Interior BC and Northern BC because we naturally use more fuel. Developing LNG would allow us to be a world leader on this file effectively reducing CO2 worldwide with this far more efficient energy source. Reducing Coal generation in Asia and replacing it with LNG would perhaps create the largest impact on the world CO2 levels ever. Scrap the Carbon Tax and implement LNG.

Last February the Fraser Institute reported that the BC budget acknowledged that the carbon tax was not revenue neutral. This month the Vancouver Sun reported that the latest figures show BC's carbon emissions continue to increase. The Liberals cannot be trusted on the carbon tax that they created. If voters agree with the Conservatives that the carbon tax should be scrapped, they may visit www.scrapthecarbontax.com to sign a petition.

Access to safe, clean, potable water in both the short term and long term is a major issue if our region is to grow and proposer. The agricultural industry also needs access to water. What is your position on how this should be managed?

There are numerous water and sewer utilities in the area all run by separate boards and management.  It is like having seven Police departments to provide Police service in the area. The provincial government should force significant amalgamation of the water and sewer utilities of the municipalities and negotiate with Westbank First Nation to present a comprehensive safe solution.  Ideally the supply of agricultural water should be untreated water with plenty available from creeks and lakes. A long-term plan is required.