Responses from candidates on growth, enrolment

Candidates for council and school trustee position continued to present their platforms.

As the Nov. 19 civic election approaches, the Summerland Review is asking questions of the candidates. This week’s question for municipal council candidates is:

What would you do to encourage and promote economic growth in the community?

Lloyd

Christopherson

Council

First of all, it cannot be an individual initiative. It will require a team approach among all stakeholders. Council, staff and the chamber will play a leading role in this venture but there must be consultation with the citizens of Summerland. The Conversation Cafe sponsored by the Community Cultural Advisory Committee could give valuable feedback.

Council has already restructured the Development Service Department to make it more “service friendly” and will continue to monitor this. So far we have received very positive feedback. Summerland’s zoning bylaws have been rewritten with the intent to become more sustainable, increase flexibility, reduce regulations and provide affordable housing. We have forwarded the 10-lot block exclusion on Bentley Road to the Agricultural Land Commission to ensure Summerland has a supply of employment land for the near future. Rezoning of this land will take place so we will be shovel-ready when a development option presents itself.

Gordon

Clark

Council

Summerland enjoys proximity to the Pacific Agriculture Research Facility, to Okanagan College and to a major regional hospital in the Interior Health Region.

As such, through careful financial planning to consider selective programs and abate development cost charges for new projects, local taxes and through enlightened application of zoning principles, Summerland should be able to significantly enhance its attractiveness as a community in which to live, to follow continual education and to enjoy its environmental blessings.

Robert

Hacking

Council

Economic growth begins by supporting local success and investment in real and tangible ways. Property taxes are one of the most significant financial burdens the small business owner has and should be addressed. As a downtown businessman I understand empty storefronts hurt everyone, from students looking for part time work, to tourists with money to spend. Creating jobs means showcasing Summerland as an efficient, attractive and friendly place to invest in and do business with. Let’s embrace these values and deliver on them. The “spectacular customer experience” begins when entrepreneurs walk into city hall ready to invest in our community. Let us do the hard work needed to find, gain and keep investment here in our community.

Bruce

Hallquist

Council

At the very least, I would like to see a community economic development committee established as we have had in the past.

I would also prefer to have a part-time economic development officer rather than have nothing. We need someone to put us out there in the marketplace if we are ever going to attract any new job opportunities.

As a council member, it is up to me to make sure that there a minimum amount of red tape that business has to deal with, as well as legislation that is conducive to the promotion of business opportunities.

I will do whatever it takes help promote new business and retain and improve what we already have. We also need to make sure we have an adequate supply of industrial lands suitable for development of new industry and business.

Jim

Kyluik

Council

I have been a proponent of economic growth in Summerland. There are two areas of economic growth. One is retention and support of existing businesses and the other is promotion of Summerland as a place to invest in new businesses and development which will bring new jobs to Summerland. First of all, retention of existing business: I have promoted and completed the new design guidelines and I will ensure the signage bylaw will also be reviewed. A revised signage bylaw is important for business to use as a tool for business promotion, not as an obstacle as it is right now. I will also continue to promote signage on the highway that will promote local businesses and showcase our events and festivals. Secondly, in order to attract new businesses and economic development to Summerland I would like to set up an economic development committee. The committee would be similar to the recently set up finance committee that would consist of public representation, council representation and also the Summerland Chamber of Economic Development and Tourism. This committee will be able to make recommendations directly to council on promotion of economic development and tourism whether it be projects or personnel. We have a consulting report from 2010, numerous ideas and plans from various groups where this committee can review and come up with an action plan for council to move forward on.

Ken

Roberge

Council

The retraction in our local and world economy has made for tough times in Summerland. We have recently instituted a totally new zoning by-law which should provide expanded opportunities for growth.

The District with SCEDT should form a economic development committee to identify and pursue growth drivers in the technical, agricultural, tourism, health, educational and light manufacturing sectors.

We need to foster and enhance a business-friendly environment in Summerland while keeping our focus on jobs development. We have a beautiful community to live in

and people want to move here. We need to develop work opportunities to allow them to make that choice.

This community must have a diversity of jobs and people to ensure our health far into the future. We have most of the building blocks.

Let’s get to work and build a better, healthier place to call home.

Orv

Robson

Council

I would encourage and promote economic growth by working with the present business owners and their concerns as well as attracting new business.

During the past six years, we have seen a business recession, with a number of large and small operations leaving our community. It is imperative that we open up for business.

We must have a council that will promote and expand our community for development, work in conjunction with the Summerland Chamber of Economic Development and the Summerland Economic Improvement Group, comprised of concerned like-minded business people, as well as partnership with the Summerland Credit Union,  who also recognize the need for a sustainable future with their implementation of the venture capital initiative.

We have to make it attractive for business to move to our community, providing them with areas to build or lease.

At present we are very restricted and some of our area is not conducive to light industry.

Martin

Van Alphen

Council

We no longer have an economic development officer at Municipal Hall. In the past we had an Economic Development Board which was under the umbrella of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce and was comprised of a cross section of representatives from the community. As in every business, the Municipality of Summerland needs to promote itself much like the community of Chilliwack’s promotional signage which encourages investment in the community. I also believe if we want economic growth we need to have land zoned appropriately and ready for entrepreneurs. If the community expects infrastructure improvements we need to attract a larger tax base to Summerland. We owe it to the young people of Summerland to encourage industrial growth, i.e., jobs. We need to encourage and cultivate better working relationships with all levels of government.

Peter

Waterman

Council

The ongoing recession makes the task very difficult. We have lost jobs and businesses. We need to fill the economic development officer position or consider sharing with another jurisdiction. Not dealing with this issue or coming up with a strong economic plan has been a strategic error of this council. Through necessity and bold creativity, the public has seen the need and is responding. Two  Conversation Café sessions have initiated great ideas. The Credit Union has launched its venture capital company to use Summerland money to help Summerlanders create jobs and opportunities. Council needs to actively support and encourage these initiatives. Some projects such as the new RCMP building are not using significant local workers and we must ask why. The comment has been made strenuously that Summerland is not open for business. The time for permits and reviews is excessively long. This process must be streamlined with all departments on board at once.

Donna

Wright

Council

First of all, I think we should fill the vacant position for an economic development manager so we have the necessary expertise to properly identify and attract businesses to Summerland. As a council, we can also look at best practices in other communities we feel are doing a good job with economic development and implement recommended strategies that we feel fit into our short- and long-term goals for this community. With the recent recession impacting developers, it is a well-known fact that many projects have been put on hold or cancelled. Now that the economy is starting to improve our council should be ready to review proposed projects. The decision to approve the projects should be based on how they fit into the city’s short- and long-term growth goals, and whether they provide positive contributions to the community.

o o o

This week’s question for school trustee candidates: The Okanagan-Skaha School District has been facing declining student numbers for many years. What steps will you take to ensure best possible education despite this decline?

Linda

Beaven

School trustee

In Summerland this is more than an education problem. Lack of sustainable jobs, expensive housing and an aging population are issues which the community needs to address. There are several models which could help address the problems: multi-grade classrooms, reconfiguration of schools, magnet schools and foreign students have been suggested as possible solutions.

Rob

Melle

School trustee

I will help lobby the government to ensure that programs are not eliminated. I will look at split classes to determine the best way to educate all students. Having faced this same situation during my career when timetabling classes I will help administrators to look at creative ways to keep programs afloat while still delivering a quality program. The trustees should also look at ways to bring community programs into the school so they can be utilized to their fullest potential. Creativity becomes very important to serve the needs of our students.

Terry

Green

School trustee

Declining enrolment has been a serious factor impacting School District 67 for the past several years and will continue to be so for four or five more years at the secondary level. At the elementary school level the decline is leveling off and we are beginning to see a rise in student numbers. It is important for trustees to give diligent thought to funding all our schools, keeping in mind the changing demographics. We need the support of our communities to lobby the government to adequately fund our public schools so that the current available space is not sacrificed now and then needed in a few years’ time. At the same time pressure needs to be applied to the provincial government to preserve programs and support teachers in the implementation of new educational initiatives and ensure the best outcomes for our students who are our future.

Christine

Petkau

School trustee

Currently funding for education is based on enrolment, so declining enrolment in past years has resulted in budget shortfalls. Therefore, school boards throughout the province are continuing to lobby the government to make changes to the funding formula. Here in SD67 trustees continue to find creative ways to save money. However, I believe that the best possible education does not solely depend on funding. It also depends on the best possible teachers – those who are innovative, engaged and collaborative, know their subject matter and know how students learn best. As a trustee I will work with other board members to support teachers, recognize best teaching practices and ensure that maximum financial resources remain in the classroom where they can benefit the most students. To read my election platform structured around student engagement, please visit my website at www.petkau4schools.ca.

Dale

MacDonald

School trustee

The Okanagan Skaha School District is not unique in facing declining student enrolment. The majority of communities in British Columbia are facing the same dilemma. What is important is to continue to lobby the provincial government for adequate and fair funding for the operation of the Okanagan Skaha School District. We need to utilize the funds we do receive so they are used in the most effective manner possible. We need great synergy and communication with senior staff, teachers, support staff, clerical staff, custodial and maintenance staff to make this happen.

Linda

Van Alphen

School trustee

Fortunately, we are nearing the end of that decline and it is projected to level off by the September count of 2012. Both our high school and middle school are reporting unexpected numbers of students enrolled in this past September. In the next few years, Boards of Education will be heading into an exciting new provincial initiative which has been dubbed “Personalized Learning.” The benefit to each student is that they will be working at a level appropriate to their ability and will be involved and engaged in their own learning. I believe that the government is attempting to formalize their expectations that this should be happening in every classroom throughout our province. Certainly, this is not a new concept in this district, as over the years when I have been in classrooms I have witnessed teachers in Summerland and beyond personalizing the learning with their students.

Christine

Petkau

School trustee

Currently funding for education is based on enrolment, so declining enrolment in past years has resulted in budget shortfalls. Therefore, school boards throughout the province are continuing to lobby the government to make changes to the funding formula. Here in SD67 trustees continue to find creative ways to save money. However, I believe that the best possible education does not solely depend on funding. It also depends on the best possible teachers – those who are innovative, engaged and collaborative, know their subject matter and know how students learn best. As a trustee I will work with other board members to support teachers, recognize best teaching practices and ensure that maximum financial resources remain in the classroom where they can benefit the most students. To read my election platform structured around student engagement, please visit my website at www.petkau4schools.ca.

Linda

Van Alphen

School trustee

Fortunately, we are nearing the end of that decline and it is projected to level off by the September count of 2012. Both our high school and middle school are reporting unexpected numbers of students enrolled in this past September.

In the next few years, Boards of Education will be heading into an exciting new provincial initiative which has been dubbed “Personalized Learning.” The benefit to each student is that they will be working at a level appropriate to their ability and will be involved and engaged in their own learning.

I believe that the government is attempting to formalize their expectations that this should be happening in every classroom throughout our province. Certainly, this is not a new concept in this district, as over the years when I have been in classrooms I have witnessed teachers in Summerland and beyond personalizing the learning with their students.

Dale

MacDonald

School trustee

The Okanagan Skaha School District is not unique in facing declining student enrolment. The majority of communities in British Columbia are facing the same dilemma. What is important is to continue to lobby the provincial government for adequate and fair funding for the operation of the Okanagan Skaha School District. We need to utilize the funds we do receive so they are used in the most effective manner possible. We need great synergy and communication with senior staff, teachers, support staff, clerical staff, custodial and maintenance staff to make this happen.

 

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