On the heels of Penticton city council voting down an apartment development on the Kampe estate, by-election candidates got their first chance to share their views on the local building industry Tuesday evening.
The forum was organized by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association South Okanagan. Eight of the 10 candidates who are vying for the one seat available at the council table attended the forum. Steven Brown and Katie O’Kell were absent.
CHBA SO executive director Sarah Taylor moderated the meeting, asking how each candidate would support the building and development industry in Penticton for their potential term.
Residential construction is a leading industry in Penticton, providing employment and trying to address housing supply, said CHBA SO.
Taylor asked the candidates how they would help the trade shortage and red tape with building codes and regulations.
CHBA says that 1,553 construction jobs have been generated in Penticton and $97 million in wages.
Amelia Boultbee, a lawyer, and fourth-generation Pentictonite, is running on a platform of pro-development and rejects nimbyism.
“I see a very conservative council and I would advocate to increase housing inventory which helps bring young families here. It’s hard for the construction industry to bring trades here when there is nowhere to live.”
Kate Hansen, whose family has been in Penticton for 100 years, just retired from a long career as a RCMP officer. She said she has learned that honest communication with the development community is key to moving forward.
“Personally, I think the Kampe estate would have made a great space for a seniors’ home but I also heard from young people who need homes to live in,” said Hansen.
Penticton Herald editor James Miller, who is running for council, congratulated the CHBA SO on a record building year.
“Time is money for your industry,” he said about the need to eliminate red tape.
He also said better communications between neighbours, builders and the city is also important.
Isaac Gilbert, a parks ranger, said he is an ‘urban planning nerd.’
“I think we should create a housing authority to better coordinate between the city and developers.” He’d like to see more c0-operative and mixed-income housing put in.
Jason Cox, a banker with CIBC and former Chamber director said lobbying the provincial government to get rid of some of the red tape and include more consistent regulations would help the development process.
He also pointed to the city increasing its Development Cost Charges, which he said in turn will be put back on to the buyer.
“What happens is Penticton looks at Vernon and says, ‘our DCCs are too low, let’s increase them,’” said Cox. “Then Vernon looks at Penticton’s DCCs and says we need to increase ours. And on and on it goes.”
Karen Brownlee, who owns a lawn business, wants to see colleges encourage more women to go into trades to help with shortages.
Keith MacIntyre said the DCC rates in Penticton are ‘appalling.’ Aligning with his Libertarian views, he believes government needs to get out of the way of industry.
Candidate James Blake believes we need to reach partnerships with the Penticton Indian Band for more homes to go on their land and also look into tiny homes as a housing option.
All candidates agreed that local colleges need to increase the amount of trade and apprenticeship programs.
The by-election general voting day takes place June 19.
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