Summerland’s two mayoral candidates presented their visions for the community during an all-candidates forum at Centre Stage Theatre on Wednesday evening.
The forum was organized by the Summerland Chamber of Commerce and drew an audience of around 250 people.
Janet Peake was first elected to Summerland’s municipal council four years ago, but before moving to the community, served on municipal councils in Ontario.
“I want Summerland to succeed,” she said. “I want us to be more successful than we are now.”
She added that the community needs increased housing options and employment opportunities.
Toni Boot, who also served as a councillor for the past four years, spoke about the importance of community planning, enhancing Summerland’s economy and water security.
She said neighbourhood plans, created with input from the public, will benefit the community.
“What we do need are neighbourhood plans that are embedded in our community plan,” she said. “Residents need a voice in what the community looks like.”
Both candidates said there are challenges facing Summerland’s downtown area and efforts are needed to enhance the core of the community.
“The downtown is looking a little said,” Boot said.
She said improvements as simple as adding a fresh coat of paint to downtown buildings could serve to improve the area.
In addition, she said zoning to allow residential spaces in downtown buildings would also help to enhance the core.
Peake also said the downtown area would benefit if people were living in the core.
“Our downtown is a little rundown,” she said.
The mayoral candidates also said careful planning and consideration will be needed when development proposals are introduced.
“This town has endured enough divisiveness with proposals that have come forward,” Boot said. “We need to have a review of our Official Community Plan.”
Peake said the community needs to develop plans that will benefit Summerland.
“Strategic planning within a community is something we have done in the past,” she said.