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Question 1When development is guided by an Official Community Plan that features smart growth principles, it results in lower taxes for residents, less gridlock, cleaner air and lower GHG emissions, more green space, more housing options and preserved farmlands. Following smart growth principles results in new, high-density housing being built in the downtown and specified neighbourhood cores, enabling more sustainable and cost-effective transportation options. How will you advocate for smart growth principles in the upcoming OCP planning process?
Akbal Mund
  • I have personally been an elected official over the past eight years, and in that time we have created smart growth through densification in the downtown core and East Hill areas of Vernon, as well as approving the recent 10 story building along Alexis Park Drive. We have recently lowered, yes lowered our DDC costs, unheard of in our province. When we sat as Mayor, it was that Council that approved a Climate Action Plan, which we have been working on for the past 6 years.

Kelly Fehr
  • During the review and update of the Official Community Plan beginning in 2022, integrate climate risk and vulnerability analyses and emissions data, and objectives, actions and targets from the Climate Action Plan (CAP). 

  • Participate in business engagement and community surveys around the OCP review.  

  • Share information with employees and encourage their participation and attendance at OCP events. 

  • Continue to implement the Master Transportation Plan, and update as needed, concurrently with the OCP to integrate and prioritize active transportation investments with the goals of the CAP. 

  • Embed considerations from the Climate Action Plan into all existing and new policy and bylaws. 

  • Initiate a ‘project charter’ program that integrates consideration of climate change in project budgets and objectives for project managers. 

  • Ensure the Senior Management Team of each division has a mandate to implement its component(s) of the Climate Action Plan. 

  • View all OCP discussion topics through the Climate Action Plan lens. 

  • Complete implementation of development process review recommendations . 

  • Develop public materials to increase awareness of development processes and timelines. 

  • Reviewing impediments to tiny homes.  

  • Adopt Housing Strategy Implementation Plan. 

  • Implement Housing Strategy Implementation Plan priorities.

  • Explore other incentive opportunities to encourage building upgrades (e.g. façade improvement grants.

  • Identify potential parking lot locations based on parking congestion. 

  • Research options and funding for a building retrofit program, including a budget request if necessary.  

  • Implement the 2021 VFRS Strategic Plan. 

  • Implementation of pilot project for biomass planting to provide for sustainable feedstock for Regional Biosolids Composting Facility. 

Teresa Durning
  • Advocating for the guiding principals of Smart Growth principals is currently included in the Vernon Climate Action. The City has also committed to integrating this plan into the OCP-

  • " As found on page 83 of the Climate Action Plan the City is committed to the following with the Vision seeing the future as Vernon being made of compact, complete, climate-ready neighbourhoods connected to low carbon transportation networks- The City will integrate the Climate Action Plan into the OCP to provide strategic direction for future planning and development. The City will build on the work already being done and our commitment to promote a compact, complete and walkable community. This includes updated policies related to land use and transportation, buildings, ecosystem health, agricultural land protection, food security, updating bylaws and adding new Development Permit Areas for wildfire protection and flooding. The City will continue to work towards the creation of neighbourhood centres, where each neighbourhood is climate-ready, low carbon and resilient to projected impacts, with walking access to as many amenities as possible (for example. groceries, schools, daycares, cafes, parks, playgrounds)." * https://www.vernon.ca/sites/default/files/docs/Sustainability/Climate-Action/210408_cap_full_final.pdf

  • I think its critical that everyone involved in the development of the updated OCP keep top of mind the agreement made by the City to implement smart growth principals in its OCP. I am committed to being well versed and oppose plans that do not align with our Climate Commitment. As well I look forward to participating in brainstorming ideas that assist the City in reaching our goals.

Brian Quiring
  • As an architect I have always supported compact communities and smart growth principles. I will advocate for smart growth during the upcoming OCP review and will be looking to increase density and relax parking restrictions in some zones.

Kari Gares
  • Smart growth is an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement. It will be an essential component to the OCP review process especially when tying it together with the affordable & attainable housing strategy and how best to build confidence in the development community. The Smart Growth Principles can also help to guide the preparation of new land use policies and plans and as a tool to evaluate development proposals and schemes.

Ross Hawse
  • I’m a big fan of smart growth principles. Making use of existing undeveloped or under developed land is something I fully support and would advocate for vs more urban sprawl. It would be important to find other like-minded councilors to work with as these development opportunities come forward, something I am prepared to champion.

Victor Cumming
  • The critical answer is YES, I am committed to Smart Growth Principles. I pushed hard for them in the public process connected with the redevelopment of the OCP in 2007, 08, 09, and maintaining them each time the OCP was reviewed. It is important to remember that a single-family home converted into a duplex, doubles density. So, a single-family home in the inner core converted to a 4 plex has a dramatic impact on density, sharing of municipal operational costs and easing access to City services and facilities. Council makes final decisions on the OCP while it is community members that provide advocacy. I would use my time prior to and in Council meetings to speak strongly on the advantages of maintaining our current smart growth principles in the revised OCP and vote accordingly.

Dawn Tucker
  • Why are we approving townhomes and apartment buildings in areas where there is no nearby public transit stop, or approving new development in old neighbourhoods that impact existing roads without making available sewer to those existing homes or requiring the developer to improve old roads? Development cost charges (DCCs) ought to have been increased and not decreased, especially in the outlying areas where drainage, water, sewer, etc. are much more costly. I will advocate for smart growth, as I always have. I would also prefer to see development that pays for itself, instead of our City subsidizing development.

Stephanie Hendy
  • Create more walkable neighbourhoods which means: increasing the amount of bike lanes so that cyclist do not ride on sidewalks, create more sidewalks so that pedestrians do not occupy bike lanes and to provide safety for wheelchair-users and people pushing strollers to move freely, increase the amount of crosswalks/crossing light visibility including audio prompts “walk sign is on” outside of the downtown area

  • Provide a variety of transportation choices: by incorporating the changes above, this supports alternative transportation options. We also need to look at installing more bicycle racks, making residents aware of the bike locker downtown, review bike routes to ensure they are connected, review public transportation routes to ensure those are accessible to those with mobility or other challenges (how far away are bus stops? Where is the closest bathroom?)

  • Create tighter regulations on what qualifies for Greenfield development, as the current OCP states the following as its “Guiding Principles” - yet none of these are measurable and therefore, are subject to being abused/ignored completely:

  • Foster prosperity for people, business and government

  • Protect and preserve green spaces and sensitive areas

  • Protect agricultural land

  • Housing meets the needs of the whole community

  • Create a culture of sustainability

  • Create strong, compact and complete neighbourhoods

  • Provide alternative transportation

  • Revitalize the Downtown

  • Create a youth friendly city

  • Complete a Brownfield survey in conjunction with the RDNO to determine which lands are vacant and could be revitalized and re-developed to support the growth of the community (adding more Greenfield spaces, more land for housing without adding to urban sprawl)

  • In 2008, Council eliminated Development Cost Charges for housing developments that are owned and developed by a non-profit society or government for rental units.

  • Further, DCCs for multi-family development are calculated on the basis of the square footage of the unit and on a development district basis, instead of a city-wide basis, with the lower fees in the City Centre and Neighbourhood District and the higher fees in the Hillside Residential and Agriculture District.

  • I would like to review this to determine whether DCCs can be eliminated on all multi-dwelling for-profit or personal projects (R5, RM1, RM2, RH1, RH2, RH3) and increase DCCs on single-family detached homes (R1, R2, R3, R4, R6), so that developers are incentivized to build duplexes, triplexes, and townhouses

Brian Guy
  • I fully support smart-growth principles. Smart growth principles have been embedded in the City of Vernon Official Community Plan (OCP) since 2008, and these principles were maintained in the 2013 OCP update. The updated (May 2020) RDNO Regional Growth Strategy is also founded on smart growth principles. These principles deliver all the benefits noted in your question. The 2013 OCP will soon be updated, and it will be very important to ensure that these principles remain foundational to the new OCP. After extensive public engagement on a proposed new OCP, Council will be presented with a renewed OCP for approval. I will examine the proposed new OCP carefully to ensure that smart growth principles remain at its core, and will advocate for improvement if I don’t think they are sufficiently well embedded. I will also advocate on Council for consistency of the new OCP with the updated RDNO Regional Growth Strategy.

Jenelle Brewer
  • I will advocate to include the smart growth principles identified in the Official Community Plan (OCP) by keeping informed, sharing facts and my opinion. My belief system identifies the need to create goals that are realistic and attainable, but innovation must be encouraged. Funding is always a challenge but if Vernon is going to limit the process of developing a vision for the future based on the funding currently available, only incremental changes will be made. These goals will assist the Council lobby for funding to achieve them and for administration to pursue them. As an indigenous person, I have an understanding of the delicate balance that we as humans have with the land, especially when it comes to developing it. My decision making process includes considering the impacts on future generations and whether or not they will be positive.

Patrick Vance
  • I will advocate for further densification and improvement in our existing residential zones, as well as working to ensure year-round transportation services are available to those who choose not to own or operate a vehicle. As an avid cyclist, I appreciate the recent developments that allow for dedicated pedestrian corridors and would like to see that coverage extended into all population zones to support increased use.

  • With regard to development, I would like to see an analysis and breakdown of the variances that have been granted and denied in the past, and see if there are any improvements that can be made to zoning regulations or bylaws for the sake of developmental and procedural efficiency. 

  • I want to see the most relevant smart growth principles explicitly emphasised in the bylaws and OCP, specifically: mixed land uses, compact building design, open space preservation, transportation availability, cost-effective development decisions, and stakeholder collaboration. When these principles are at play, I would not support variances that have an impact to diminish them.

  • Further to collaboration, I want to see the collaboration with our community become more robust and informative where possible. This collaboration effort should be proactive, targeted outreach rather than simply satisfying the requirement for availability and publication of information. A volunteer society designed to enhance and target recipients of meaningful, timely information could help assist the partnership between the City and community while alleviating the burden of staffing the outreach. This society could act as an impartial liaison between residents who will be impacted by development and the city.

Ed Stranks
  • By amending the OCP to target smart growth in desired areas, the City can encourage a variety residential development forms, reduce the end costs and reduce the uncertainty relative to lengthy approval periods. The OCP also establishes the framework for other supporting bylaws amendments and thus can initiate changes that further support smart development.

Scott Anderson
  • Smart growth policies make sense from an economic and municipal growth point of view.  However, they may not make sense from a lifestyle point of view.  Folks often point out to me that they don’t move to Vernon from Vancouver or Calgary so they can live in a place like Vancouver or Calgary.  They move here for our wide-open spaces, lakes, forests, and quite often views, and those are attributes not often found in a downtown apartment. We face a challenge luring people into an urban microcosm, not only because of the challenges above, but because of the associated challenges of a lack of big-city services like timely mass transportation, jobs, and entertainment.

Question 2 - Vernon has created an ambitious new Climate Action Plan addressing both the reduction of GHG emissions and preparing the community for climate impacts, but unless Council backs it up with immediate, effective action, the goals of the plan won't be achieved. If elected, what aspects of this plan do you feel are most important and urgent, and how can you help to ensure that they are implemented as soon as possible?
Akbal Mund
  • Every aspect of the plan is urgent and important. The world continues to experience extreme weather events and we all need to aggressively proceed with action.

Kelly Fehr
  • Of the eight Focus Areas in the Climate Action Plan it is difficult to narrow down which are the most important. I would look to the advice of environmental professionals with more experience to guide that decision.  

  • Emergency Response and Preparedness: Actions designed to prepare the City to respond to weather-related emergency events and climate-related hazards (Severe Fire Risks). This would include working with BX/Swan Lake Fire Rescue and Coldstream Fire Rescue to develop “Automatic Aid” in areas where another’s resources are located to better serve the area 

  • There are a number of funding requests from Chief Lind (Vernon Fire Department) which have been postponed due to budgetary reasons. Ensuring these requests are met is a necessity.

Teresa Durning
  • The emission of green house gas caused by transportation is 63% of our total. Advocating for better use of active transportation and public transportation, car pooling and environmental friendly practices such as allowing idle reduction and trip mapping for efficiency need to be a priority for Vernon.

  •  The implementation of a more on demand public transportation model might also be something Vernon could look at for the future. 

  • If elected I will continue to vote yes on fleet purchases that are energy efficient and push City initiated public communication to educate the citizens of Vernon on transportation options and benefits for the climate. 

  • As a member of the climate action advisory committee and part of the team that drafted the plan I have a hard time picking the important aspects of the plan but I have some issues I feel are urgent.

  • 1.0 Update and implement the Community Wildfire Protection Plan in the context of expected future climate conditions.

  • 2.0 Incorporate climate considerations (emission reduction opportunities and adaptations for our future climate) into design, maintenance, and replacement of municipal infrastructure.

  • 3.0 Embed considerations from the Climate Action Plan into all existing and new policy and bylaw I promote additional funding sources to ensure implementation.

  • During the last term of Council, I was very supportive of our Climate Action Plan despite its very in depth and lofty goals. As noted, some of the climate impacts we are now seeing are a testament to how increased GHG emissions have waged a war against the environment which will affect everyone – right down to the local farmers market. But this plan is not just about what The City should and must do – it is about what we all can do collectively to help us meet our GHG emission targets of net zero by 2050.

  • What we have done already:

  • i. Implemented a phased in approach to the new BC Energy Step Code. By doing this, we can further develop our working relationship with the building/development community while we navigate these new processes.

  • ii. Made investments in EV Charging stations

  • iii. Made investments in new EV fleet for operations

  • iv. Made Investments in EV Bikes v. Hired new dedicated staff who will be responsible for keeping on target of our plan

  • vi. Implemented new compost program that will help to take organics from the landfill thus helping to reduce GHG emissions

  • It is an ambitious 216 page plan. I support all of it and would prioritize protecting the vulnerable, updating the Wildfire Protection Plan, completion of the Flood hazard Mapping, providing heat, flood, and air advisories for all residents, incorporating climate considerations into design, maintenance, and replacement of infrastructure, protecting and adding to green space, increasing electric charging for vehicles and bikes, a retro fit resource and information program for residents and business alike, and embedding these into all new and existing policies and bylaws. Again, this would need a majority of council and require partnering with like-minded councilors.

  • Most important part of the Climate Action Plan is the continuation of OCP, Neighbourhood Plans and zoning that keeps the City on track for being a liveable (soft density) compact community for the majority of residents. The second most important is to work with the Province and Federal government to development and implement an energy improvement renovation program for existing residential buildings focusing on multi-family buildings to start with to lower GHG emissions and make them far less impacted by high heat.

  • Our ambitious new Climate Action Plan requires implementation throughout all City processes, including development approvals. Our City is already in the process of hiring a Climate Action Coordinator, and we have started implementing flood construction standards for new development and changing our bylaws and policies to require a Flood Hazard Development Permit. More work continues to strengthen our City’s flood resilience. 

  • Beyond flooding, we need to also focus on water, and specifically, on potential opportunities to improve the use of our recycled water, and the treatment of wastewater and stormwater. Stormwater is currently the number one factor impacting our lake water quality. City genetic testing shows septic pollution in every ditch in Okanagan Landing, confirming the need to connect sewer to these older neighbourhoods. Providing information to residents about these existing and on-going environmental impacts will make it easier to get the necessary buy-in. Our recycled water costs our City millions to produce each year and is sold to hilltop resorts at a rate that does not reflect the actual cost to produce this high quality water. This water could be used to irrigate food crops if only our Province would allow it, although we already import produce and wines made with recycled water from places such as California. I intend to lobby the Province to change these regulations so that high-volume users such as Frind Winery and other agricultural producers can use our high quality recycled water on grapes and other food crops.  This will save our community millions of dollars and eliminates the need to build a costly new pump-station on Okanagan Lake to serve irrigation demand.

  • Identify populations vulnerable to climate change and develop strategies to build their adaptive capacity

  • Organization action: Provide input on and identify resources for the inclusion of vulnerable populations in emergency planning

  • Update and implement the Community Wildfire Protection Plan in the context of expected future climate conditions.

  • Help people access the recommended individual actions (e.g.  how to find Firesmart recommendations, how to implement home energy efficiency) 

  • Embed considerations from the Climate Action Plan into all existing and new policy and bylaws

  • Enable and support the enhancement and expansion of the transit network and alternative mobility options.

  • Protect and expand the urban forest by developing policies and increasing incentives to protect existing trees and plant new trees.

  • Develop a building retrofit program to support residents to be more resilient to climate change, reduce energy investments over time, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving building efficiency and installing low carbon energy systems.

  • Help people access financial rebates to install heat pumps, rebates to replace windows (all available tools are on Clean BC - https://betterhomesbc.ca/

  • As co-chair of the City of Vernon Climate Action Advisory Committee, I championed the creation of the Climate Action Plan.  The plan is a good one, equivalent in vision, scope, and goals to the best plans developed by cities around the world, and won an award from the Planning Institute of B.C.  

  • Every element of the plan is important, and every action must be implemented to achieve the goals of the plan.  The approximate impact of each action on both improving resilience to the climate and on reducing GHG emissions is indicated in the plan (in Appendix 2).  In addition, the plan includes an approximate implementation schedule, with each action assigned either to short, medium, or long-term action, reflecting both its likely benefit and the three time-based targets in the Plan (50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030, 75% reduction by 2040, and 100% reduction by 2050, relative to 2017 levels).  The actual implementation order will depend not only on this initial implementation schedule, but on other factors, such as the availability of funding for particular aspects of the plan.  

  • We should prioritize those actions that give us the most significant cuts in emissions first.  The City has already implemented a curbside organics collection program which will  result in a 7% cut in emissions from the City.  Transportation emissions make up 63% of the community emissions, but achieving significant cuts depends heavily on both market forces and on the policies and programs of higher levels of government.  The City must do its part in the near term, but must also influence other governments to help us achieve our transportation-related goals. Retrofitting existing buildings is another challenge that should be addressed very early.  This will require contractor education and training, and widespread citizen appreciation of the benefits of electrified building heating systems.

  • Governance and leadership are two critically important aspects of the plan. Council must provide top-down leadership to City staff to effectively implement the plan, as well as sufficient resources for this purpose. Staff and council must also embed climate awareness into every decision, and see all decisions through a climate lens. This will require a sustained effort to educate City staff throughout the organization.

  • It is also important that all City plans and policies are aligned, and accordingly the Climate Action Plan recommends embedding the plan into the Official Community Plan (OCP) as well as updating emergency preparedness and response plans and other City plans to ensure consistency with the Climate Action Plan.

  • Another activity that should be addressed very soon is developing an engagement strategy to involve the entire community in reaching the goals of the plan, and on providing the community with the necessary information, resources, and tools to contribute to achieving the goals of the plan.

  • Finally, Council and the Mayor must continually influence federal and provincial governments to strengthen their focus on policies that support our Climate Action Plan - recognizing that achieving the goals of the plan requires policy support at the federal and provincial levels.

  • To conclude, I’d like to point out that there are two key gaps in the plan:

  • 1. The roadmap for reducing GHG emissions within the plan will get us only 2/3 of the way to the 2050 goal of zero net emissions; and

  • 2. The plan does not explicitly address consumption-based emissions (emissions due to everything we buy, such as food, clothing, and household goods).

  • Both these gaps present opportunities.  The first gap is an opportunity to improve uptake on existing programs offered by higher levels of government to reduce transportation and building-related emissions, and to influence these other governments to create new and more effective programs.  We can also work with other governments to encourage new technological innovation to help us succeed.  The second gap presents an opportunity for the City of Vernon to engage the entire community in contributing to the goals of the Climate Action Plan.  Many residents don’t own homes and many do not drive cars (including virtually everyone younger than about 16, and many seniors).  However, everyone eats and nearly everyone benefits from purchases made at local stores - which presents a great opportunity to engage the entire community in achieving the goals of the Climate Action Plan.

  • Every action is important, I think it is important to have a representative from the construction/development industry at the Climate Action Advisory Committee. 

  • In my opinion, the most urgent is food security. By ensuring that there are local food sources, the community will be able to focus on important goals. Local food availability will reduce the need to ship food and reduce GHG emissions which is an added benefit.

  • I think retrofitting older homes is another way to manage the output of GHG emissions. This is a challenge not because people do not want to do it, but because capital may not be available to many to afford these investments into their homes. Other cities are tackling this challenge; and they are finding ways to identify new solutions. I think looking at these examples and considering if they are suitable for Vernon would be a good step.

  • Between mitigation and adaptation, I feel we must place a higher weight of the focus on planning for adaptation. While we can do our relative part in Vernon, we simply cannot presume the rest of the world will shoulder its fair burden as well. While I’m optimistic that the Paris Agreement, if adhered to, can bring positive results, there is no way for us to create a localised climate region that escapes the total global shift towards extreme weather events, and we should prepare for the worst. 

  • I feel the most important aspect of our contribution to global climate efforts (mitigation) is continuing forward with building developments that conform to standards for reducing GHGs, as well as focusing on the development of resilient infrastructure that acts as a support for all of the functions in our community. In addition to these, we can also work towards improving our practices at the household level through initiatives like the composting program, or energy efficient home features.

  • As many residents are aware, impacts of climate change such as extreme heat, flooding and increased forest fire impacts have already occurred. It is therefore urgent to implement actions that address these known occurrences. Availability and number of cooling centers needs to be increased by reaching out to public venues in all areas of the city for their participation and not rely only on City and RDNO facilities. Potential flood mapping has been completed and now works need to be budgeted for to minimize possible impacts in those areas. It is important to continue the identified actions in the Climate Action Plan to reduce the City’s impacts and continued budgeting to actively reduce the impacts must be part of every annual budget.

  •  How they are actioned determines my level of support.  Environmental concerns don’t operate in a vacuum; they are mitigated and influenced by other factors, and in turn impact other realities.

Question 3 - What do you believe are the main risks to Vernon - its citizens, its infrastructure, its economy - from climate change impacts? What specific actions do you think the municipality should take to adapt to these risks and build a resilient community?
Akbal Mund
  • With the recent floods and fires, we need to work with our Regional partners in preparation for these events, it is important to have great communication with all communities in the North Okanagan

Kelly Fehr
  • Of the eight Focus Areas in the Climate Action Plan it is difficult to narrow down which are the main risks. I would look to the advice of environmental professionals with more experience to guide that decision.  

  • Certainly one of the main risks are fires and Emergency Response and Preparedness are a key element to being prepared and responding: Actions designed to prepare the City to respond to weather-related emergency events and climate-related hazards (Severe Fire Risks). This would include working with BX/Swan Lake Fire Rescue and Coldstream Fire Rescue to develop “Automatic Aid” in areas where another’s resources are located to better serve the area.

Teresa Durning
  • The climate change impact of wildfire create the biggest threat to all 3 items mentioned. - Our water source is in jeopardy due to the risk of wildfire and the lack of fuel reduction done in and around our water sources. We need to continue to advocate to the RDNO and other levels of government regarding this.

  • In my opinion the single biggest impact to Vernon is extreme weather events. We have seen the impact of extreme drought, extreme rainfall and extreme heat. These events have significant consequences to our local economy, health and infrastructure. We need to continue our flood mapping strategy.

  • a. The main risks to Vernon and its citizens, infrastructure and economy will come down to more major events such as flooding, extreme weather cycles, and fires. Any one of these could cause millions, and what we have seen recently, close to billions in damages should mitigation principles not be adhered to. A major flood could wipe of food production/crops, cause significant damage to city owned infrastructure and to personal property, which can have a serious impact on the economy. I like to think of it as a domino effect – no one is immune.

  • b. The Municipality is already taking great steps to mitigate and adapt where appropriate. We are already busy implementing a flood bylaw that will ensure homeowners are aware of the risks and take steps to prevent future flooding events as it pertains to building within a known flood zone.

  • c. The COV just completed a flood resilience and mapping project - A Detailed Flood Mapping, Risk Analysis and Mitigation Study which focused on the risks and potential impacts to the Vernon community if significant flooding were to occur on Vernon Creek or BX Creek. It also offers recommendations to help residents and the City of Vernon prepare for future flood events and mitigate negative impacts to the community.

  • d. There are numerous projects that came from the recommendations in the study which Council has endorsed and some are currently underway: BX Sedimentation Pond for one; dredging of the creek bed

  • e. We are also looking at fire mitigation principles to help educate homeowners about what they can do to prevent fires all the while making sure we use fire principles to protect current forest lands in interface areas.

  • We have already seen this in different forms. The extreme heat, smoke, and floods have greatly impacted the health of our community. The same climate related events also reduces tourism and has a diminishing effect on the economy. We have built a plan, we need to implement it as soon as possible.

  • The main risks to Vernon are flooding (mainly via our two creeks), wildfire for our interface areas and wildfire smoke through impacting human health, agriculture and our economy. The City must upgrade creek crossings’ infrastructure to minimize potential flooding, dramatically reduce fuels loads including fire smarting neighbourhoods in our interface areas, and activity work with our Provincial ministries on crown land wildfire mitigation at scale.

  • Increasing our resilience to flooding was identified as a top priority for our City and this work is already underway. Impacts to air quality can be also quite dramatic as we have witnessed with fires these past few years, and this is an area where there remains much work to be done as we share our air-shed with many other jurisdictions, and we are often affected by smoke that originates from outside our region or city. Without an Air Quality initiative at the regional district level here in the North Okanagan, it is much more difficult for us to work together on a valley-wide Air Quality coalition with the other regional districts (RDCO, RDOS) with whom we share this valley.  So I would like to see this gap addressed at the City and regional level. For water, we must continue to work together with our valley neighbours as part of the Okanagan Basin Water Board, and with the RDNO on the safe provision of water via Greater Vernon Water.  

  • Heat resilience is another concern for which the City has done some planning, and perhaps more could be done to strengthen requirements for new development, requiring air conditioning to keep temperatures lower but also, air purifiers to remove smoke and other particles?  

  • Planting trees also helps improve the air and reduce heat islands. I look forward to hearing from the development community about building innovations that help lower emissions while addressing the expected impacts from climate change such as hotter days, stronger winds, torrential rains, intenser storms, etc.  

  • Stormwater management is also becoming increasingly important, and there may be opportunities to generate electricity from stormwater running through pipes that could be used to power a treatment facility to remove contaminants prior to allowing the stormwater to enter the lake.

  • Infrastructure is our biggest risk to Vernon from climate change impacts. Due to the city's layout, many roads terminate without any connection or alternate routes. Some examples of this are Silver Star Rd (RDNO) and Okanagan Landing Rd (City of Vernon), many people could be stranded during a fire or flooding as there is only one road to evacuate. 

  • In 2019, a consultant was to be hired by the City to review evacuation routes along Okanagan Landing Rd, Tronson Rd, and Predator Ridge as high-risk areas. I couldn't find the outcome of this review or whether it took place. If there aren't any connecting roads, perhaps the City should review whether building gravel access roads is feasible.

  • The Vernon flood map completed earlier this year is an excellent resource to help prepare those in affected areas to prepare their homes better. Other types of studies worth considering might be creating a landslide map. 

  • The most significant climate-related threats to Vernon are heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and flooding caused by high lake levels, high creek flows and intense rainstorms.  Risk is a function of both threat and consequence, and a sample of the key risks associated with these threats includes loss of property, loss of life, loss of livelihood, damage and loss of City infrastructure (e.g. roads, culverts, and bridges), poor air quality, health impacts (including death), environmental damage, land cover loss during fires, reduced tourism benefits, higher food prices, increased taxes, reduced municipal ability to provide services during extreme events, reduced economic competitiveness, and reduced attractiveness as a destination.  In addition the distribution of risks throughout the community is not equal – some areas of the city and some residents are more vulnerable than others.

  • To address these risks, the City should lead implementation of the Climate Action Plan.  This plan is based on a thorough assessment of threats, vulnerabilities, consequences, and risks related to climate change throughout the entre community.  It recommends specific actions to address those risks and provides an approximate implementation schedule.  Following these actions will make the community safer and more resilient to the changing climate, and will keep costs and taxes down.  Some specific actions include “fire-smarting” interface areas, addressing the impacts of wildfire smoke, upgrading creek crossings, making sure all future infrastructure upgrades have considered the impacts of a changing climate over the service life of the asset, and protecting natural spaces that contribute significantly to climate resilience.

  • Fires are one of the biggest risks to the Vernon area, which places the infrastructure at risk especially if the hydro lines are affected. The flooding is another risk, I would advocate for ensuring there are resources to ensure that Vernon is monitoring the risks and planning to assist residents to mitigate the damage. Drought is another risk we face. 

  •  Floods and fires are a great risk to infrastructure, so we need to have a plan to protect our infrastructure. There is a risk that residents will lose their homes. These issues can significantly impact the economy. Vernon needs to ensure that new infrastructure is able to withstand extreme heat and cold temperatures. Continuing to support projects for fuel modifications, traditional burns, and Fire Smart initiatives. 

  •  Vernon can plant tree stands and encourage developers to do the same. Encourage new developments to consider water conservation methods. I think evaluating the need to coordinate a regional approach to optimize emergency management would help build resource development and strengthen planning.

  • I find the increased heat projections to be alarming, and feel that we may need to consider and plan how we might have to rely on our lakes to supply water for local irrigation in drought situations (provided they don’t dry up). This will be further complicated by the fact that we live in a water-advantaged area, and could end up becoming producers for an area greater than our own if neighbouring communities cannot avail themselves of similar features.

  • In California the energy supply has recently been challenged during intense heat waves to the point of the government asking its citizens to reduce the amount of electricity they consume during certain periods. To me, this is a signpost that we must sensibly balance our growth into green initiatives like electric cars with the ability to support their sustained use in increasingly challenging climate scenarios. Initiatives like mass transit have the ability to reduce the instinctive approach to simply swap one gas vehicle for an electric vehicle. However, the ability to retain our freedom of movement must be preserved to make the option attractive (ie, expanded transit routes and hours to be inclusive of all lifestyles and work practices)

  • I think the challenges to infrastructure are drastically increased wear and breakdown of function. For example, it wasn’t long ago we saw heat to the extreme that sidewalk tiles were uprooting themselves and creating dangerous impediments to our pedestrian thoroughfares. The impact to our roads, pipes, and drainage have all been felt more in recent years.

  • I also think of the extreme stress that extreme weather places on our vulnerable citizens like senior citizens and the street entrenched. Dedicating cooling centres was a great initiative, as was the warming bus in the winter. I think we need to prepare to do more along these lines as the need will certainly increase in time.

  • Extreme heat and air quality directly impact residents. Previous flooding has impacted properties as well as private and public infrastructure. More frequent and extreme events, resulting from climate change, pose even greater risks. Social and economic impacts of extreme events impact all residents thus taking proactive steps is critical. The City needs engage the community to provide more cooling centres in a wide variety of locations where possible. Works to reduce possible flooding need to be explored, prioritized and budgeted for.

  • Flooding and fire.  Flooding is already being addressed by floodplain mapping with Lidar, and the results included in building plans.

  • Fire mitigation is being addressed through UBCM resolutions called for preventative forest mitigation (like preventative burning) I brought in 2019 and was passed by the collective of BC municipal politicians.  We have been (and continue to) advocate to the province for this kind of mitigation.

Question 4 - The largest proportion of Okanagan municipal greenhouse gas emissions comes from transportation (in particular, driving fossil-fuel powered vehicles), and the 2nd largest proportion comes from buildings. What do you see as the most effective ways of reducing the emissions in these two sectors?
Akbal Mund
  • We need to create homes with solar power and buildings with net zero impact. I recently purchased a Hybrid and find myself driving less. rebates for home builders who build energy efficient homes is what the Provincial Gov't needs to look at.

Kelly Fehr

  • Enable and support the enhancement and expansion of the transit network and alternative mobility options. 

  • Explore enabling flexible start and end times to allow staff to use transit. 

  • Create and implement policies and programs that create a network of charging infrastructure to support the transition to electric vehicles. 

  • Continue to implement the Master Transportation Plan, and update as needed, concurrently with the OCP to integrate and prioritize active transportation investments with the goals of the CAP. 

  • Participate proactively in the planning process, and then install EV chargers, bike racks, and encourage employees and customers to carpool, bike, and walk.  

  • Set up carpool parking or end of trip facilities for biking staff.  

  • Support working from home. 

  • Develop an incentive program for carpooling. 

  • Incorporate climate considerations (emission reduction opportunities and adaptations for our future climate) into design, maintenance, and replacement of municipal infrastructure. 

  • Electrify fleets. 


  • Develop a building retrofit program to support residents to be more resilient to climate change, reduce energy investments over time, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving building efficiency and installing lowcarbon energy systems. 

  • Implement a program for building energy labelling and benchmarking for energy, emissions, and resilience in accordance with the guidance in the BC Energy Step Code. 

  • Update and implement the Community Wildfire Protection Plan in the context of expected future climate conditions. 

  • Assess our property and landscaping for FireSmart.  

  • Consider using materials when building. 

  • Incorporate climate considerations (emission reduction opportunities and adaptations for our future climate) into design, maintenance, and replacement of municipal infrastructure. 

  • Increase building efficiency, adopt renewable energy. 

  • The Sustainable Environment Network Society (SENS) provided candidates with a list of questions related to the environment. To review Kelly Fehr’s responses to those questions, visit www.sensociety.org  

Teresa Durning
  • Transportation mentioned above needs to be addressed through stronger advocacy from the City as well as mayor and council supporting transportation that is less harmful such as active and electric transportation. The BC Energy Step code will continue to improve green building initiatives and incentives should be given to developers that prioritise green building and owners that do energy efficient retrofits to existing buildings.

  • With respect to buildings, the BC energy step code provides significant improvement to energy efficiency. We should look to provide financial compensation for net zero home construction.

  • Public transportation and transit vehicles that are not powered by fossil fuel is a great way to manage emissions. Multi use trails and bike lanes need to be provided to all areas of the city.

  • a. Following through with the new BC energy Step Code

  • b. Continue to build alternative transportation corridors that will allow connectivity within our community well helping to reduce CO2 emissions

  • c. Continue to change over our fleets to EV, where appropriate,

  • d. Expanding our transit routes & times

  • e. Complete a GHG audit of City own property to see where immediate changes can take place and where future infrastructure changes will be necessary

  • f. Ensure new buildings are EV ready/EV infrastructure done at the building stage

  • Clearly we need to make it easier for folks to drive and charge electric modes of transportation. Not just cars, trucks and delivery vehicles, but we should also be encouraging more people to use electric bikes. More charging/parking opportunities, more access to secure storage for bikes, more and better green bike lanes and of course a program for both new business green builds with higher density located closer to amenities. This needs to be combined with programs/resources/incentives for retrofitting older buildings.

  • In the long-term implementing a soft increase in density, eventually tripling our density across the inner bowl of the City, will minimize travel distances to most services and events. It will also make active, and bus transport more attractive and much more highly selected. Implementation of schemes like the electric kick scooters quickly reduces GHG production from short single person trips (184,000 trips in less than 2 full non-winter seasons). Electric personal vehicles will quickly replace internal combustion vehicles over the next decade in BC, switching to a renewable energy source. Retrofitting existing buildings (primarily residential) will require funding and carrot/stick programs from the Province and federal government.

  • For me personally, reducing the number of trips is still the most effective way to reduce my GHG emissions from transportation, and walk whenever I can. I also do my best to shop locally whenever possible and I limit my online shopping - it turns out, not surprisingly, that transportation due to online shopping deliveries is now a massive contributor to GHG emissions and we need to find better ways to deliver those goods without using so much gas. Electric transport is already here and hopefully will soon start making a difference. 

  • We have limited opportunities to improve the efficiency of existing buildings, but new buildings are already required to adhere to stricter standards.  We can encourage folks to invest in their older homes - Vernon is already participating in a pilot project to help folks finance improvements such as solar or geothermal.

  • Priority making communities walkable, bikeable and accessible year-round, and fully implementing the BC step code.

  • Retrofitting the existing buildings to be more energy efficient (following Clean BC and BC Energy step code guidelines) should be a priority for the City. 

  • Ensuring that alternative forms of transportation are welcome and supported by infrastructure (roads, sidewalks, etc) will help to reduce the amount of fossil fuel vehicles on the road. Cycling (better connecting streets, more bicycle parking), more one-way travel options (Neuron scooters and bicycles) but also consider vehicles (like Car2Go, which folded in North America in 2020), better public transportation service levels, and/or support for cab expansion or consider Lyft/Uber type services. 

  • The Climate Action Plan (which I spearheaded) thoroughly addresses this question.  It includes several goals and many actions intended to make a significant difference in reducing GHG emissions from these two sectors.  As noted in my responses to question 2 above, the plan also recommends an implementation order, with the highest impact actions occurring in the earlier years. The City should lead implementation of this plan, guided by the recommendations and timeline contained therein.  Since I was a primary contributor to the Climate Action Plan, my response to this question does not list my favourite actions, but rather provides general advice that implementation should be guided by the Climate Action Plan.  My response to question 2 above provides further thoughts on the more challenging aspects of reducing transportation and building-related emissions and on the most urgent and important actions to complete in these sectors; and lists the governance, leadership, and community engagement actions that are critically important to the success of the plan. 

  • It is important to implement the goals of the Official Community Plan. I think increasing bike paths, and directing new builds to the existing neighbourhoods that are close to commercial areas and services are good plans. As well as replacing the gas fueled buses for electric ones over a period of time. 

  • Also, I think it is important to lobby the provincial and federal governments to support homeowners to retrofit their older homes and make them more efficient.

  • We need to look for more solutions outside of electrification, so that the infrastructure is reliable. While BC has the most reliable power sources in the world, we need to ensure that the entire city is not shut down due to power failures. This is critical for our population as we are experiencing extreme heat and cold weather events.

  • For transportation, enhancement of mass transit availability is key. Nobody will make the jump unless the service is comprehensive to all of their needs.

  • For the more distant future, I envision an intelligent software solution integrated with our personal phones and devices that could one day relieve the necessity of having all routes serviced on a fixed schedule. I often see buses travelling empty, which doesn’t speak of reduced emissions to me. Smaller vehicles that could respond to app alerts of consumers awaiting pickup in more remote areas could make trips more targeted and efficient, thereby reducing emissions further and creating a better service for users.

  • For buildings, using energy efficient materials and construction designs which reduce ongoing costs and energy output should be used. We should be exploring how to support options like geothermal heating. It offers a step away from fossil fuel heating systems that lead to greater GHG emissions.

  • Provision of more housing close to work and shopping is one way to reduce the reliance on private vehicles. Changes to the OCP and other supporting bylaws can encourage development of housing in the key areas. As electric and hybrid vehicles become available and more cost effective, it is important that the City integrate more of these vehicles as part of fleet upgrades. New public buildings should include solar systems and have heating and cooling systems that are not reliant on fossil fuels. Options to incentivize similar actions in the private sector need to be explored with them and discussed as part of all new development.

  • Through technological evolution and not through coercive measures like taxation.



Question 1 - The RDNO has recently developed a North Okanagan Regional Housing Strategy. Which actions of this strategy would you prioritise, and how would you implement them?
Akbal Mund
  • The priority here for me is simply, we need all communities to participate, not just Vernon...Did you know Coldstream fails to recognize this strategy?

Kelly Fehr
  • As the chair of Vernon’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee (AHAC) I have been actively involved in developing Vernon’s Housing Strategy. In 2018 I advocated to have Affordable and Attainable Housing embedded into the City Of Vernon’s 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. Stemming from that strategy Vernon Council and regional partners had the North Okanagan Regional Housing Needs Assessment and Strategy developed. AHAC has been working with City staff to develop and a Housing Action Plan that will assist the next council in setting concreate housing goals and ways to achieve those goals. On Sept 9th we recommended that Vernon City Council approve the draft Housing Action Plan which can be reviewed here starting on page 21. 

  • The actions I would prioritize are listed in our recommendation to council, however I will include them here also: 

  • Create a full-time permanent position for a housing planner to implement policy changes, streamline and accelerate the review of affordable and attainable housing projects, conduct educational programming and build relationships. 

  • Explore zoning amendments and additional incentives to accelerate the development of new rental housing. 

  • Reduce barriers and incentivize the construction of new secondary suites and secondary dwellings, including allowing suites in semi-detached dwellings. 

  • Consider requiring new construction to be secondary suite ready. 

  • Develop and distribute free pre-designed secondary dwelling plans that meet bylaw requirements and are building permit ready. 

  • Regulate short term rentals to reduce their impact on long term rental inventory. 

  • Explore zoning amendments to support affordable home ownership and rental, including floor space ratio density zoning, small lot subdivisions, minimum home size and tiny house zoning, rental zoning, zoning for manufactured homes, and apartment lock off units. 

  • Explore requiring a portion of new development to be affordable/attainable as part of rezoning processes. 

  • Review existing incentives and explore additional incentives (DCC rebate, housing agreement process, fast-tracking, parking variances, tax incentives, grants). 

  • Understand the business case for attainable market housing and work with the development community to increase uptake. 

  • Develop and implement a Land Acquisition Strategy that a) maps out priority areas for future land acquisition by the City, b) identifies revenue sources for land acquisition (municipal, federal and provincial) and c) explores innovative financing options. 

  • Advocate to senior levels of government for financial support, surplus institutional land or other resources and assistance for affordable housing. 

  • Make City-owned lands development ready in terms of assembly, zoning and servicing. 

  • Support build-out of land already acquired for affordable and attainable housing, leveraging assistance from the Affordable Housing Reserve Fund (AHRF). 

  • Explore fast-tracking and reduced bylaw requirements for non-profit housing development, including reduced parking requirements based on location, housing type, proximity to transit, etc. 

  • Collaborate with Social Planning Council of the North Okanagan (SPCNO) – Housing First and other initiatives (e.g. 2019 Homelessness Strategy). 

  • Collaborate with RDNO and communities in the North Okanagan as appropriate on housing research and affordable/attainable housing development. 

  • Work to build understanding in the community about the importance of having diverse housing types to build acceptance of affordable/ attainable housing projects. 

  • Communicate with the community and developers about what the City is doing/offering. 

  • Continue to build relationships and partnerships at all levels (provincial, regional, nonprofit, development stakeholders). 

Teresa Durning
  • The over arching message and single most significant challenge reflected in the study is housing shortage at all housing types across all demographics through out the region. As this is a Regional initiative the region should be responsible for finding solutions. I do see that there are areas in the region that are progressive and creative in trying to solve the problem and others that do not buy in and do nothing. It my perfect world we would each be responsible for bringing our share of housing to the area we represent based on population. I will continue to vote yes for appropriate housing in the city of Vernon and encourage our neighbours in the region to do the same.

  • Explore zoning amendments and additional incentives to accelerate the development of new rental housing. Reduce barriers and incentivize the construction of new secondary suites and secondary dwellings, including allowing suites in semi-detached dwellings.

  • Explore zoning amendments to support affordable home ownership and rental, including floor space ratio density zoning, small lot subdivisions, minimum home size and tiny house zoning, rental zoning, zoning for manufactured homes, and apartment lock off units.

  • Develop and implement a Land Acquisition Strategy that a) maps out priority areas for future land acquisition by the City, b) identifies revenue sources for land acquisition (municipal, federal and provincial) and c) explores innovative financing options.

  • Currently, the City of Vernon is working on their own Housing Strategy that will take into consideration some elements of the Regional Housing Strategy. As an advocate of affordable housing, I was the one who pushed for a regional approach to housing as we all must work collaboratively to make any progress. But with that said, Vernon is also in need of their own strategy that reflects our community and its needs. the Vernon Housing Action Plan (HAP) draws direction from the recent plans and experiences of community partners, non-profits, the Regional District of North Okanagan and the City. It integrates the outcomes of Council’s Strategic Plan and feedback from the City’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. The HAP is meant to bring all the information and strategies appropriate for Vernon into one document.

  • The 5 key directives that will be brought before Council for consideration are (as noted in the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee):

  • 1. Increase the supply of rental housing

  • 2. Increase diversity and affordability of market housing

  • 3. Acquire land for affordable and attainable housing

  • 4. Partner in the delivery of affordable and attainable housing

  • 5. Educate, communicate, and strengthen relationships

  • Make municipal land available at a nominal cost for affordable housing projects. Waive or reduce/defer certain fees or allow tax forgiveness, on market rental housing. Ensure the permitting and licensing process is reviewed and streamlined and staff levels are high enough to not impede the flow of applications. Fast track housing rental projects. Single family builds must be built suite ready. Allow lock off units and zoning for secondary suites, laneway and coach houses. Implementation again would require a majority of support from like-minded councilors.

  • City of Vernon is a way out in front of other communities in the Regional District. The City is already actively implementing most of the recommendations as follows:

  • 1. Most residential zones in the city already allow secondary suites and housing in secondary buildings commonly referred to a carriage houses,

  • 2. Small lots (see the new 46 lot subdivision at Okanagan Ave. and Apollo Rd.) and side by side townhouse developments (see 20th Street between 39th Ave. and 43rd Ave.) are now common in our current inner core new subdivisions, and in the new medium cost housing projects,

  • 3. Infill is actively promoted and encouraged by the City as seen in the Seaton, lower East Hill, Harwood and Alexis Park neighbourhoods,

  • 4. City owned land has been leased to not-for-profits for social housing for $1/yr. for 35 years and the City is actively exploring new locations to continue the practice,

  • 5. Fast tracking of social housing already matches our operating principles for our development approvals,

  • 6. Development cost charges for social housing developments are paid for the general public instead of by the actual project providing a significant cost savings to the project (approx. $20,000/unit depending on location),

  • 7. Parking variances have been provided for the last 5 low cost social housing projects to minimize cost and wasted space of unused parking as lower income individuals far have fewer vehicles per unit.

  • 8. The City is actively looking to purchase additional land suitable for multi-family lower cost housing most likely to be leased under similar conditions as previous not-for-profit projects.

  • My priority is to continue with this 8 pronged approach, plus continue to build the tight relationship with BC Housing that enabled the substantial provincial investment in social housing (298 units) over the last 3.5 years while actively lobbing for more social housing units.

  • When the Vernon Morning Star recently described me as “a community-conscious citizen who isn’t afraid to challenge local politicians or question policies”, they were not wrong!

  • I will encourage our neighbouring jurisdictions to step up and support the City of Vernon in leading the charge to make available more housing in the North Okanagan.  To find more land for affordable housing projects, I will demand an inventory of all City-owned lands, and I will also request that we update the inventory of properties owned by not-for-profit, service clubs, faith groups and government agencies (i.e. all other municipalities, RDNO, Provincial, Federal) in the North Okanagan as it was last conducted in 2011.

  • Housing Advocacy Resource: Consider the establishment of a North Okanagan Regional Housing Advocate Resource to support the implementation of the Regional Housing Strategy. This resource could:

  • Manage a regional rent bank.

  • Manage government relations (Federal, Province and First Nations)

  • Convene round tables with stakeholders for information sharing, sharing successful case studies

  • Produce a report card on inputs and outputs re housing issues

  • Create and manage an inventory of municipal / regional / public / non-profit lands available for housing.

  • Identify and support regulations and incentive programs that preserve and protect existing rental housing.

  • Ensure that the current provincial Rent Supplement Programs including SAFER and RAP, are well publicized in all RDNO communities.

  • Land Inventory: The ability to identify land that may be made available for affordable housing projects is important information in order to create a more affordable housing supply. A regional inventory of municipal, regional, and non- profit land could be used as the basis to explore the opportunity to develop a long- term funding strategy with BC. Housing through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

  • Infill Housing: Implement zoning amendments to permit infill housing, laneway houses, coach houses or garden suites. These housing forms provide a means of creating additional rental housing units in existing neighbourhoods or increased density in new subdivisions.

  • Secondary Suites: Implement zoning amendments to permit secondary suites in all single-family zones. This policy is intended to ensure gentle densification in single-family neighbourhoods and to provide more rental options for low-and moderate-income households.

  • Within the past two years the RDNO and the City of Vernon have thoroughly examined the current housing stock and have identified gaps based on both current needs and anticipated future needs.  The housing needs are described within the RDNO Housing Needs Assessment (June 2020) and the RDNO Regional Housing Strategy (December 2021).  There are three key issues addressed in the Regional Housing Strategy: a shortage of supply, affordability, and a sufficient diversity of housing types. 

  • I understand that the City of Vernon’s  Affordable Housing Committee (City councillors, staff, and community members) have developed an Affordable Housing Implementation Plan specific to the City of Vernon, based on the Regional Housing Strategy.  This Implementation Plan is to be presented to Council in the near future.   In addition to addressing subsidized housing, I understand that this plan will provide strategies for addressing affordability issues in the market housing segment, which will help younger working families.

  • I understand that the City is already working closely with BC Housing and with local agencies to contribute significantly to achieving the goals of the regional Housing Strategy.  This progress should continue.  The next steps are to examine policies, zoning, and any current barriers preventing development of the housing needed to fill the housing gaps identified in the regional Housing Strategy and the made-in-Vernon Affordable Housing Implementation Plan.  We also need to continue to collect and disseminate data on progress being made to achieve our housing goals. 

  • Many of the actions are underway such as the Housing Needs Assessment. The actions that I would prioritize are getting the North Okanagan Regional Housing Advocate in place. The responsibilities of this position are critical to addressing the housing crisis we are experiencing. Also, take a look at the inventory and create a plan to match projects with the suitable land available for affordable housing or for housing programs that will maximize the use of the property. The 2021 homeless inventory identified 48% of the homeless population have physical disabilities, 11% are seniors and 9% are youth. More people are experiencing homelessness, and Vernon has an increase of families that are experiencing homelessness placing youth at risk. Housing needs to be a priority to support our economy.

  • I would prioritise the support, promotion, and protection of rental housing. We need places for people to live in order to have a healthy and growing economy. The exodus of landlords from long term rentals to the AirBnB model is a signal that there is need for greater protection afforded to rental owners of their investment assets. With so much demand pressure for long term rentals, the temptation for landlords to increase their price in an escalating market creates a situation that verges on profiteering.

  • I would also seek ways to reduce barriers to developing and securing affordable housing. One way is to assess and address the developer relations with the City and remove pain points. Another way is to explore the options of having workforce housing secured and provided by employers as an investment in their labour force as an asset.

  • 2.5 Small Lot Subdivisions – Changes to the zoning bylaw to enable small lots as part of subdivisions.

  • 2.6 Infill Housing - Changes to the zoning bylaw to reduce application requirements to build various infill housing types.

  • 2.9 Secondary Suites – Change the zoning bylaw to enable this with no added application costs.

  • 3.6 Fast Track Rental Housing projects – These as well as multi family projects near work or shopping, should be give priority and expedited where possible.

  • 4.2 Parking – amend the zoning bylaw to reduce parking required based on proximity to work, school, and shopping. All but one (3.6) would be part of amendments to the zoning bylaw.

  • 3.6 could be carried out by policy. The zoning bylaw would typically be amended after the OCP is updated but these issues are important and stand-alone items that should not wait to be implemented.

  • Affordable housing (defined by BC Housing as subsidized and supportive housing) is important, but actually helps only a small fraction of the qualifying population, while attainable housing helps many more.  The plain fact is that we lack housing across the entire socio-economic spectrum, and BC Housing cannot even begin to fill this need without ruinous taxation and cut backs in other areas.

  • The real answer to the problem of housing MUST be dealt with by the private sector.  That means no cost to the municipality, no cost to the taxpayers of BC, and no cost to the residents of Vernon. The major obstacle standing in the way of progress in home building is the permitting process at the municipal level.  If elected mayor, I will make this a priority.

Question 2 - Across Canada, First Nations and municipalities are strengthening their regions by collaborating on service agreements, land use planning and economic development. What efforts have you made in the past, and what efforts will you make to build powerful new relationships based on mutual respect, understanding and a common vision for mutual prosperity with the Okanagan Indian Band?
  • Well I was Mayor, with the help of the Federal Gov't, Vernon and OK Indian Band developed a relationship of meeting every few months, the program was CEDI, Community Economic Development Initiative, and now we meet once a month with OPK Indian Band, and I am the sole Vernon elected official still on this panel. We have collaborated on many projects over the past 5 years.

  • In order to expand on my understanding over this past term on council I have participated in 12 Truth and Reconciliation sessions. I will continue to support and engage in training and educational opportunities that help identify bias and provide for individual growth to better serve all Vernon residents and our relationship with the Okanagan Indian Band. 

  • On September 6th 2022 I put forward the following motion which passed. In recognition of truth and reconciliation day on September 30th that council direct administration to place the Sylx nation and the Okanagan Nation Alliance flag at City Hall by the end of day on September 29th and remove the flags on Monday October 1st. 

  • In May 2022 I put forward a motion requesting that Canada Events funded by the City of Vernon require an invitation for indigenous representation on the steering committee. The motion did not pass. 

  • I have participated in all of the council to council meetings which have been held between the Okanagan Indian Band and the City of Vernon.

  • If re-elected I will continue to honor the Okanagan Indian Band / City of Vernon Relationship Accord, be actively engaged in Council to Council meetings, support initiatives stemming from working group (formally CEDI).

  • I have had the opportunity to build a good relationship with the Chief and some council from OKIB through my community work, 55 Plus Games and BC Winter Games planning. I believe the City has made progress and we need to keep working with OKIB to build long lasting trust relationships that benefit future generations.

  • Our firm has completed several projects with the Okanagan Indian Band as well as the Lillooet Indian Band and Tsawout First Nation. I firmly believe in strengthening and promoting a healthy relation with all First Nation Communities. Also note that I attended a blanket ceremony with the OKIB.

  • Currently I am a participant on CEDI which is defined by - The First Nations–Municipal Community Economic Development Initiative aims to improve the economic prosperity of participating municipalities and adjacent First Nations through joint community economic development and land use planning. CEDI is a joint initiative of FCM and Cando. Since taking office, I have been a regular at our quarterly meetings where we learn to listen, be engaged and work collaboratively with OKIB. We’ve also formed relationships by asking for their insight before making recommendations so that we can share in their voice. I’ve done this on many levels – a notice of motion was put forward regarding Truth and Reconciliation. Before I brought this motion forward, I reached out for their guidance to ensure both wording, phrasing and commitment was supported. It is very easy to bring something forward but without proper dialogue and collaboration then we are not honoring that relationship nor their voice in the journey.

  • We will only move forward if we are looking after the community as a whole. I am a believer in working with all partners to improve the quality of life for all of our residents. While I worked in small and large communities across BC and Alberta I had the opportunity to partner on many occasions with first nations to the benefit of all. Everyone has a seat at the table. We can build a better Vernon together.

  • I have been very active on the OKIB/CoV Working Group (2 politicians and 1 one senior staff person from each community) that now meets monthly working to enhance our relationship and advance joint servicing, economic development, recreation, and tourism for mutual prosperity. It is important to note that over my 40 year professional career in community and economic development, 50% of my time has spent working for aboriginal communities and their organizations including both OKIB and Splatsin so I understand the issues extremely well.

  • Firstly, I would like to respectfully acknowledge that I live, work and play in the traditional territory of the Syilx people of the Okanagan Nation. Secondly, I will continue to build and maintain meaningful relationships with my Okanagan Indian Band friends, and I will look forward to building powerful new relationships based on mutual respect, understanding and a common vision for mutual prosperity with the OKIB in my role as City Councillor

  • This wasn't the question that I saw when I pulled the questions. Therefore, I am pasting the question with my response instead. My apologies.

  • "What do you believe is the municipality's role in enabling and assisting ministries and non-profits as they address mental and physical health treatment issues and access, in populations affected by houselessness and the toxic drug supply? How might the municipality address the stigma that prevents people facing these challenges from seeking health services?

  • “How might the municipality address the stigma that prevents people facing these challenges from seeking health services?”'

  • → Run an ad campaign that shows senior citizens without homes, people with disabilities without homes, and people of all income levels at risk of dying of overdose. 

  • “enabling and assisting ministries and non-profits”

  • The city already allows these groups to apply for property tax exemptions. We should review additional ways that we can reduce their operating costs.

  • The last homeless person count in 2021 was 224. We should continue to build supportive housing to home all of them.

  • I have worked with Okanagan First Nations for many years.  Soon after arriving in Vernon in 1994, I worked with the Chiefs of the Penticton, Upper Similkameen, and Lower Similkameen Indian Bands on an issue at the Apex ski resort. On the Okanagan Water Stewardship Council I have worked with individual Bands and with the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA).  I have completed professional water-related and environmental assignments on behalf of the ONA and individual Bands, and others in which members of the ONA have been involved (for example a 2021 report on modernizing the Okanagan Lake Regulation System (https://www.obwb.ca/newsite/wp-content/uploads/olrs_plan_of_study.pdf).  

  • In a voluntary capacity I have provided support to the Syilx people to help them achieve their goals.  For example, in 2018 I co-chaired a conference on Environmental Flow Needs in Kelowna, which was managed by Indigenous facilitators based on a modified version of a Syilx decision-making process which exposed participants to the benefits both of Syilx knowledge and of Syilx governance approaches (https://www.obwb.ca/newsite/wp-content/uploads/2018_efn_conference_legacy_report_web.pdf).

  • In 2021, I provided coaching and mentoring to an Indigenous-owned environmental consulting business similar to the one I led for many years.  I have recently made a financial contribution to an ONA signage project to be installed along the Okanagan Rail Trail. I have taken part in several workshops on the process of reconciliation.  In my role as chair of the Policy Committee of the Okanagan Water Stewardship Council I led development of a set of recommendations for advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples on issues related to water.  In that work I reviewed several documents containing examples of actions that municipalities can take to advance the process of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.  

  • On Vernon council I will be guided by my personal commitment to acknowledging the harms done to Indigenous peoples, and to the process of reconciliation.  Specifically, in 2017 the City of Vernon and the Okanagan Indian Band initiated a process to build a stronger relationship.  The City of Vernon must continue to build on this process, based on mutual respect, understanding, and a common vision, which will provide benefits both to the Band and to the City.

  • As a member of the Okanagan Indian Band, I see this as an opportunity for both communities. In my positions with the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) I have served as an OKIB rep on the Rail Trail Interjurisdiction Team, the Vernon Tourism Commission, and the North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project. I attended many proposed Greater Vernon Cultural Centre steering committee meetings as the Okanagan Indian Band rep during the engagement process. I submitted the joint application in collaboration with the Vernon Economic Development Officer for the First Nation-Municipal Community Economic Development Initiative and served as a lead staff member on that project whose purpose was to come together and create a shared economic development vision. As I previously served on Band Council I have a strong understanding of their governance system. I aim to continue to build relationships between the two communities.

  • I embrace the need for these relationships to be maintained in good faith while respecting the cultural needs and beliefs of the respective parties to such collaborations. I have had positive exposure and interactions with First Nations stakeholders and partner groups in the educational system and non profit sector, and am ready to represent the interests of Vernon residents while holding to the highest ethical principles during these collaborations.

  • I have been part of meetings between the City and the North Okanagan Indian Band as part of my role with the City. It is important to continue to involve and participate with the Band to ensure the community as a whole moves forward to address issues common to us all.

  • As City liaison to O’Keefe Ranch, we have sought and achieved a much closer relationship with OKIB.  In fact, the Ranch hosted an exhibition of residential schools, and currently has an OKIB Band member seated as my counterpart on the board.  I have and will continue to advocate for closer ties with the band, and will continue to advocate for bridge-building measures like Indigenous public art.

Question 3 - In August of 2020 Council unanimously passed the following motion: “THAT the City of Vernon, including Council and Administration, firmly rejects racist acts of all types, and supports each individual who chooses to make Vernon home, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, creed or socioeconomic condition." The motion did not indicate what this support might look like, especially for minority groups. How would you rectify this? Specifically, would you follow the lead of other communities in the Okanagan and vote to adopt the anti racism policy already drafted by City lawyers? More broadly what types of programs, initiatives, and actions would you endorse or be a part of to ensure that Vernon is a welcoming place for all “regardless of race, gender, sexuality, creed or socioeconomic condition”?
  • Vernon just recently held their first Pride Parade, you can have all the policies in place, but, there will always be individuals that stand against those that they do not like. Strength is not by policy, but by Indvidual's from different cultures and groups that stand together amidst the angry few who create these attacks.

  • On July 20, 2020 I put forward a notice of motion forward to adopt an Anti-Racial Discrimination and Anti-Racism Policy, complementing the city’s Bullying and Harassment Policy. The motion also included a call for the mayor to send a letter to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO expressing the city’s interest in joining its coalition against racism. The city’s legal counsel, Lidstone and Company, had provided an Anti-Racial Discrimination and Anti-Racism Policy to all of its clients ahead of the June 20, 2020, meeting — which council accepted as information. The 11-page document came prepared and ready to tailor for specific municipalities. This motion did not pass. 

  •  It is my intent to resubmit the motion to the new council in the fall / winter of 2022 but broken out into two motions:

  • 1. To adopt the Anti-Racial Discrimination and Anti-Racism Policy provided by the city’s legal counsel, Lidstone and Company. 

  • 2. For the mayor to send a letter to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO expressing the city’s interest in joining its coalition against racism. 

  • On July 18th 2022 I supported a motion to raise a rainbow flag from City Hall in recognition of the city's first ever pride week. It is through motions and initiatives like these that Vernon City Council can demonstrate Vernon is a welcoming and safe space for all.  

  • Throughout my current term on council, I have participated in multiple training sessions through the Canadian Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI). This has included one on one and group work. Similar opportunities have been made to council and are made to city staff. I will continue to support and engage in training and education opportunities that help identify bias and provide for individual growth to better serve all Vernon residents. 

  • Q1- City working in collaboration with community groups that support victims of discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality, creed or socioeconomic condition is likely where that support would come from. Immigrant Services, Social Planning and Friendship Centre are good examples of community resources that have the ability to support in community. If the racism is employee within the Corporation of City of Vernon that would fall under the corporation itself. The future definition of "support" should be clarified by council.

  • Q2- Looking at the anti bullying and harassment policy and the anti racism policy I see there are very few items not covered in both documents. We may not need both policies and that is my understanding as to why council might not have adopted this item but was not on council when the decision was made.

  • Q3- The community culture is shifting in terms of acceptance and openness to diversity. Community members are now able, and encouraged, to celebrate exclusivity and more freely express who they are. The culture of the City is changing and I feel that we as community leaders need to encourage that and support individuals. I will continue to do my part to support community events and programs that assist in welcoming and accepting the diversity of our citizen.

  • I will support policy related to anti racism and inclusion. On a personal note we have updated our office policy manual to include anti racism and bullying and harassment policy. Also note that we have voluntarily closed our office and have given staff a paid day off for Truth and Reconciliation Day in order that they may reflect on the importance of the day.

  • The City Lawyer’s drafted a policy that was generic. According to their own statement, we can adopt, mend, or adjust the policy to reflect the needs of our community. Although the policy was broad in nature, there were many things about the policy that required more thought and attention and at the time the motion was brought forward, it missed some valuable aspects that needed to be considered. For one, making an anti-racism policy should require staff to review all policies, bylaws and regulations through the same lens which was not something that was proposed. Further, our current policy does take into consideration all forms of bullying and harassment and that does include racist, sexist, and demeaning acts and it lays out a foundation for next steps. The COV prides itself on being a welcoming organization one that is free from any or all forms of discrimination. I would be willing to entertain a policy if we can firmly outline and define racism and who would be responsible for knowing the difference between being racism and simply being misinformed or uneducated. I would also want to see an educational component and what that would entail – description, cost, length of time and what the proposed outcome will be. I am a firm believer that standing up for all citizens is a must but implementing a policy and believing that this is all that needs to be done without the additional must haves should give any one pause for concern. At the time the motion was turn downed, it was noted that we had not one instance of racism within the COV and if we did it would be dealt with under the current bullying and harassment policy.

  • It's critical to review all policies through a lens of DEI when preparing to make decisions or build consensus. It's equally important to examine our own unconscious bios. We need to adopt the policy and live it, at all levels but that's tough to do with out examining what barrios there are, invisible and visible. Perhaps now is the time to work on bias training, diversity, equity and inclusion works to create places of belonging and it's important to me to lead with empathy, to listen and learn from what I hear. A start would be adopting policies such as the above mentioned.

  • I voted for the proposed new “anti racism” policy which was defeated by the majority of Council. I would vote the same way if a similar policy was proposed for the newly elected Council. Staff at the City of Vernon has already been very active in this area with education programs and activities. It is time for Council to catch-up to our community and our staff.

  • This policy was not drafted by City lawyers, however a law firm made available a template to all B.C. municipalities, free of charge. I would strongly encourage the City to customize this template for our City’s use and adopt the Anti-Racism Policy as soon as possible. 

  • It is part of my nature to ensure that Vernon is welcoming place for all “regardless of race, gender, sexuality, creed or socioeconomic condition”. Most recently, I was part of the organizing committee for Vernon’s first Pride Week and I was honoured to be selected by my peers as the Grand Marshall for Vernon’s first Pride March in recognition of my longstanding work as an advocate in our community. 

  • I’m an educator so every day I am involved in our community and sharing information with others. I moderate a local Facebook forum that is the “go to” for keeping more than 20,000 Vernon and area residents informed. I started a local political discussion group that today counts more than 1,700 members. I’m also a co-admin for other groups such as Vernon Area Fire/Flood Watch, Vintage Vernon, and Mutrie Dog Park.

  • As a communicator, I will encourage the City to spend more time communicating with residents - perhaps this would require developing standards. The current communications manual does not include any standards for resident communications. Generally, I would like to see the City spend more time meaningfully responding to residents’ inquiries and concerns, and at the very least, acknowledging when residents send messages to the City via phone or email. Our City’s social media presence could be enhanced, and as my timely and relevant posts on our 20,000+ member-strong Community Forum shows, I am already well-positioned to assist the City with resident communications.

  • Yes, we should vote to adopt the anti racism policy. This was presented to the by-election candidates in November 2021 and I’m disappointed it was not adopted. We should also review which policies already drafted (by other municipalities) which could be adopted relating to gender and sexuality.

  • I support the anti-racism policy referred to in your question. This policy aligns well with the new provincial Anti-Racism Data Act (June 2022).  This Act is intended to help remove systemic racism faced by Indigenous, black, and racialized communities, and to advance racial equity in the province.  It enables the collection of information from individuals to identify systemic racism and improve government services to better meet the needs of these communities.

  • Data obtained through this Act will help Vernon identify racism issues in our community, and give us the information we need to develop and support programs to address gaps, and break down the barriers faced by some members of the community.

  • Yes I would vote in favour of the anti-racism policy. I find it disappointing that a policy of this significance requires a conversation on whether or not it will be accepted. The policy is important but in my experience, addressing racism has been challenging. A culture has to be present from the leadership throughout the organization for the policy to be effective. Being indigenous, although I do not present as an indigenous person, I have witnessed how my family members are treated differently than myself. I have been accused of over-using the term racist when I am addressing negative stereotypes against indigenous people. 

  • I will continue to fight against stereotypes of all manners. As a leader I will continuously work to eliminate racism and discrimination, and I will continue to have difficult conversations about racism despite the cost. I have lost relationships because of these difficult conversations, but I have also strengthened relationships. I have watched people change their opinions, but it means having uncomfortable conversations, challenging belief systems, and being able to exercise control over my emotions to have respectful dialogue.

  • I would like to see an inclusion or diversity committee with representatives that include a diverse membership that represents the community demographics. I would like to see visual representation of the diverse groups, the purpose would be to create a community based plan to increase the diversity and eliminate discrimination. I would like to see training programs that support diversity or inclusion ambassadors that would be community leaders in addressing discrimination and support educational programming. I am fully supportive of making Vernon a welcoming place for all. I believe I embody the philosophy of acceptance of all. The questions that should be asked at various committees are, “Who is missing from the table?” “How are we going to get them here?”

  • I would have voted in favour of the policy, regardless of how comfortable I was with my own beliefs and attitudes regarding racism. The creation and adoption of the policy that prescribes and prohibits specific behaviour creates an ironclad social safety structure where simple verbal assurances may not have the same effect. 

  • I have never held racist beliefs, but to be fully authentic and honest, I must admit I’ve spoken in ways that would be considered racist.  I contented myself at the time that it was only the product of humour, popular culture, or was simply the recital of lyrics to music I enjoyed and purchased, but the things I said could have had the capacity to cause pain for others, and I recognise that now.  While fortunate that I never did any damage to anyone’s feelings, I am nonetheless ashamed of the ignorance I once embodied, I feel that my growth as an individual is a lesson I can share with my children and with people in the community.

  • And further, I recognise that the work to address racism, or bigotry and discrimination in any form, is not done when I’m satisfied it’s done. I feel the work is done when the last human with a memory of feeling diminished by discrimination fades from life into history. 

  • In the present, our work as leaders must focus on ensuring that every single resident feels confident that no barrier exists to their fair and equal treatment in our society and community.

  • The Council position appears to be the first step in addressing racism. The new Council should review the racism policy that was drafted and consider if it could be adopted or would need amendments to ensure it is inclusive and appropriate.

  • I made that motion, and of course it was passed unanimously.  I will not advocate for an anti-racism policy as I think it is divisive, unnecessary, and counter-productive.  I won’t reiterate my reasons in long detail, but here are some facts:

  • 1  Any such policy would affect ONLY City of Vernon staff

  • 2  When I asked administration, I was told that there had been no incidents of racist behaviour amongst staff.

  • 3  When I asked administration what would happen if such an event took place, I was told it would fall under the Bullying policy and be dealt with in that manner.

  • Given that an anti-racism policy would be a solution that already exists to a problem that hasn’t happened, I believe the only outcome to such a policy would be a slap in the face to staff, by suggesting that they need coercion to not hate each other on the basis of race.  I believe it needlessly highlights and exacerbates yet another division within our society, and does so for no good reason.



Question 1 - What opportunities do you believe the municipality has to grow our art, culture and heritage sector?
Akbal Mund
  • We are growing art, the Cultural Center will bring together the Art and Museum groups and create a unique experience for all.

Kelly Fehr
  • The development and implementation of a Public Art Policy is an absolute must for the next council term. In my view the current public art review and approval process completely failed the Vernon Public Art Gallery and damaged the reputation of Vernon as a community that cultivates and embraces a variety of art forms. 

  • On Sept 6/22 I made a motion for a previously approved mural project of the Vernon Public Art Gallery's to proceed. This would have put the gallery in a position to apply for operational funding in the the future. My motion was defeated. 

  • If re-elected, I will continue to support fiscally responsible initiatives from Vernon's Art, Culture and Heritage Leaders and Champions. 

Teresa Durning
  • The Cultural Centre is the number one opportunity Vernon has to grow the sector. Tourism has supported the arts and culture sector in a more meaningful way and as liaison for the Tourism Commission I will encourage continued support.

  • The New Arts and Cultural Center will be a significant asset for our community and will continue to grow and promote investment in the Art and Culture sector. Heritage restoration grants should be continued and potentially increased.

  • As you may already know, Arts & Culture is delivered through Greater Vernon Partners. Now with that said, that doesn’t mean we shouldn't start having conversations as to what this may look like – especially with the new Cultural Facility being built. The best place to start would be to create a new Public Art Policy that would hopefully incorporate a new cultural district, provide direction and input from a steering committee comprised of local artisans, indigenous elders and artisans and stakeholders who can help to shape and mold a clear directive forward. Much like Kelowna and how they created their Cultural District in the downtown core. Once we have a clearly defined Public Art Policy, then we can start to build on a broad range of art programs, initiatives, culture and heritage in our Community that would give way to a very diverse cultural lens. In fact, we already started this many years ago with the installation of the Heritage Murals.

  • This is such a huge opportunity for Vernon. I would like to see the events and facilities we have, improved, grown and supported. I will seek to understand what those needs are and knowing part of a communities vibrancy comes from the arts community being strong and robust, will find ways to champion to continued priorities. This is such an important part of a city's soul and a large contributor to its economic health.

  • The critical areas are organizational capacity development for all arts and culture groups right across the City, construction of the new GVCC and enhancement of other arts and culture facilities in the City including consistently reinvesting in the Community Arts Centre, Performing Arts Centre, Museum and Public Art Gallery. The plan for the GVCC also includes outdoor space for programmed and ad hoc events. The re-development plan for Polson Park and Kin Race Track Athletic Park also needs to include enhanced areas for arts and cultural activities.

  • Similar to sports and recreation tourism, art, culture and heritage increasingly draw more folks to our area - while we already have much to celebrate with locals, we also have a lot to show visitors from out of town. The new Greater Vernon Cultural Centre will be the focal point for bringing us all together inside a building with amazing programming, installations, exhibits, performances and more.  But I would also love to see tie-ins with outdoor recreational amenities such as the Okanagan Rail Trail - if we are now the Trails Capital of BC, we can look forward to more visitors yet, and most of those visitors will also be keen on arts, culture and heritage. So I foresee many opportunities here, especially in working with our OKIB neighbours and the many talented indigenous artists and storytellers who make their home here. I would also like to find a solution that allows the Museum’s archives to exist in the same location as the Museum.

  • Despite being a hobby DJ and karaoke vocalist at the nearest bars, I know very little about what is needed to support arts and culture in Vernon.

  • That being said, the biggest barrier I experienced when part of event production crews in Vancouver was lack of viable venues. Many venues would have noise restrictions, or wouldn’t let the organizers run their own bar. I don’t know if these are issues in Vernon.

  • I don’t know what the solution to this could look like, but I would support solutions brought forward by the experts within the local arts industry. For example, if there is a way we can streamline events’ permits, tell me how I can help.

  • Our city can only be welcoming if we support creative expression. I love the downtown murals and want to see more of them, I love live music and comedy events, and I loved the recent Vernon Pride week events! 

  • A strong, vibrant, and diverse cultural environment is a critical foundation of a sustainable community. The 2016 Greater Vernon Cultural Plan outlines many ways the municipality can grow our art, culture, and heritage sector.  I support implementation of this plan, including construction of the proposed Cultural Centre in downtown Vernon, which was approved by Greater Vernon voters in a 2018 referendum.

  • Vernon has a strong arts sector in the Vernon area; the heritage and culture sectors are not predominant features. My opinion is that the proposed Greater Vernon Cultural Centre would be a significant asset to the area. It is great to see the diversity in our community through the food industry, and I would like to see more cultural offerings through dance and musical performances, or perhaps introduction to new cultures through workshops. Vernon needs more spaces to facilitate these types of activities. The existing venues that include the Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre and Powerhouse Theatre may be too large for performers to access. An excellent opportunity would be to have an inclusion or diversity committee with a membership that includes indigenous representation and covers all sectors of art, culture, and heritage.

  • I have seen how effective heritage can be when it’s championed in our schools, but it takes a dedicated and passionate public servant like my daughter’s teacher in Mission Hill. His efforts to bring that vibrancy to life and connect the students with the value of heritage are extremely effective, but these successes are not exactly commonplace.  When people can connect their life story to their heritage and the heritage of the area they live in, life becomes more meaningful. The work to bring the heritage of these Syilx lands to the forefront needs to go beyond the land acknowledgements that many people may practice only as a form of lip service.

  • We have many opportunities to showcase and share the diversity of our cultures and origins.  People from all walks of life, coming from all the 4 corners of the planet, call Vernon home; we need to make sure everyone feels welcomed and safe.  Having a way for all of us to come together to explore the diversity of these cultures while also having a way for us to share the common ground of shared beliefs and attitudes will pave the way for a more harmonious community. This could take place in designated cultural centres, or be brought about by events that coincide with the respective cultural practices.

  • Closing a section of main street to vehicles in the summer provides an opportunity and venue for art, culture and heritage education and displays. Coordinating this with the various groups and establishing guidelines for this would ensure that all have an equal opportunity for the public to experience.

  • The Cultural Centre is certainly one, and if elected, I intend to work toward the immediate creation of a policy to govern public art, like murals.

Question 2 - What do you think of the 2016 Greater Vernon Cultural Plan? What aspects would you prioritise and how would you implement them?
  • We need a Public Art Policy so we can avoid situations as the Katie Green Mask fiasco.

  • I believe the Greater Vernon Cultural Plan will be due for a review in the next Council / Regional Director’s term. As a Director with the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee, we have been working with community partners on four of the five key topics identified through public input. 

  • More venues for performing arts, especially live music  

  • A new art gallery  

  • A more vibrant downtown/public realm  

  • A new/expanded museum 

  • Due to a number of factors the above four initiatives are taking longer than I had anticipated. Those four priorities will continue to be a priority for me in the next term. 

  • I can honestly identify a gap in the support of the not for profit sector. I think the plan is outdated and many things have changed since its inception. We need a public art policy and a clear mandate for supporting events and activities for the sector. My involvement in Vernon Culture Days that is being planned currently shows me our City processes are long and tedious for organizations to wade thru. I will advocate for better support for these groups from the City moving forward.

  • The Greater Vernon Cultural Plan is a great document and is the culmination of a significant amount of work by members of our community. The implementation will only be possible with the injection of financial contributions by all levels of government. I will continue to lobby and seek support from upper levels of government for our community.

  • My priorities are: Protect, support and encourage public art. Ensure the healthy use and condition of existing cultural facilities.

  • Increase economic development through cultural development. Support the health and development of cultural not-for-profit organizations.

  • The 2016 Greater Vernon Cultural Plan is a regional plan set out by the RDNO. And that plan, in general, is already being executed:

  • i. Approval of the new Arts & Culture Facility

  • ii. Investment in local organizations, non-profits for the sole purpose of enhancing arts and culture in the community – this is an ongoing initiative through the RDNO

  • iii. The COV is working with OKIB to bring forward interactive/interpretive signage to help showcase First Nations history and art throughout important parks within Vernon that have significant meaning

  • iv. In discussion with OKIB about installing an indigenous crosswalk to show support and build on Truth & reconciliation

  • v. And I would love to see an Art Walk that would allow local artisans an opportunity to showcase their art work as a lead up to the new Cultural Centre

  • It is a very thorough plan. I think all those involved should be congratulated and thanked for their hard work. Clearly a lot of thought and effort/collaboration went into it. Vernon has such a vibrant arts/cultural/sports community with large and small events and so many talented artists. This is something I believe needs to be supported, promoted and grown. I would start with funding and making sure it is adequate and grants are made for longer than one year commitments so groups and facilities can make longer term plans. Let’s make sure we are applying for and maximizing all provincial and federal programs for funding and also working with the private companies and corporations for funding opportunities for both events and facilities. I would also prioritize having a special events infrastructure program so that we can respond quickly to event opportunities and how about a live performing stage/area located in the downtown. It was nice to be able to take in live music downtown this past summer but sitting on a paved road in the summer heat seemed silly when we have green spaces close by with better parking that could be used. We also need to promote and market these facilities and events to bring in more visitors.

  • As a member of GVAC (locally mandated to provide funding and facilities for cultural activities) over the last 4 years I have pushed (successfully) for increases in funding for cultural buildings and human capacity to advance arts and cultural activities. I have also pushed hard to move the Greater Vernon Cultural Centre (GVCC) project forward including getting a business plan prepared and a space requirement commitment from the 3 (expected) organizational tenants, and land commitment from the City of Vernon. The GVCC project is now moving quickly with fund raising, and building design parameters with a firm location.

  • One of the challenges with this plan is the apparent lack of meaningful engagement with our local indigenous communities.  Perhaps 6 years ago this was not as obviously considered, but that sure seems vital, especially now!  In the Executive Summary, one of the goals stated is to “Increase communication and collaboration with Okanagan First Nations”.  I would argue that without communication and collaboration with Okanagan First Nations, we don’t actually have much of a Cultural Plan. Vernon also needs a public arts policy to go with this plan.

  • Another big-ticket item in terms of dollars is the on-going maintenance and/or potential replacement of our existing cultural/recreational facilities. According to the plan, most of these facilities are aging and require significant and regular maintenance.  How is and will all this be paid for? We worked together with our sub-regional neighbours (Coldstream and Electoral Area B&C) to build the Multiplex and the Performing Arts Centre and the extension for KalTire Place, and soon we will build the Greater Vernon Cultural Centre together. Presumably we are all on the hook for maintenance and repairs of these facilities as they age? With only Vernonites now facing a referendum on the long-term borrowing of $121 million for the Active Living Centre, some folks are starting to question our City’s tax burden. Is Greater Vernon a partnership? I will seek clarity for the taxpayers of Vernon about the exact nature of Vernon’s share. Some folks are also wondering why recreation planning isn’t considered part of our  “arts”, “cultural”, or “parks” planning, as all are vital to our quality of life. We need an integrated plan.

  • Encourage infrastructure to support special events

  • Work with local government partners and event organizers to provide additional, visible and effective locations to post signage and other publications that promote special events.

  • Consider strategic public space improvements at appropriate sub-regional parks, including Kin and Kal Beach, that would improve the usability of the spaces by outdoor festivals and events.

  • Work with local governments to, wherever possible, design and equip public outdoor spaces, such as parks, sidewalks, boulevard areas, public gathering spaces, etc., with required infrastructure to host festivals and special events.

  • Improve access to and participation rates of cultural programming

  • Working with cultural service providers, develop strategies for increasing low-cost or free opportunities for engagement in cultural activities, focusing on demographics that are currently underserved in cultural program participation.

  • Partner with organizations on projects or initiatives with shared objectives of improving accessibility, inclusivity and participation in cultural activities

  • Increase communication and collaboration with Okanagan First Nations 

  • Share the Greater Vernon Cultural Plan with the Okanagan First Nations 

  • Establish a First Nations contact and/or representative for the Cultural Plan/IAT

  • Identify and, wherever possible, proceed with projects that support shared goals and cultural development goals.

  • The plan provides a good description of the existing cultural environment, including specific facilities and programs.  It also addresses the significant economic benefit to the region provided by arts and culture and of the potential to provide additional jobs and contribute further to tourism and the economic prosperity of the region. The plan provides strategies and actions for achieving 16 objectives under three major cultural development areas: headings: cultural leadership, cultural capacity, and cultural places and spaces.

  • However, the plan makes only a weak reference to future collaboration with Okanagan First Nations in delivering the plan.  There appears to have been no involvement of the Okanagan Indian Band in preparing the plan.   I believe that a modern Cultural Plan should reflect the influence of the Indigenous people on whose land we reside, providing these people wish to have their voices heard.  I believe those voices would broaden, deepen, and richly improve the current plan.  Considering that this plan was developed using information from 2014 and 2015, and the Indigenous perspective does not appear to be included, I wonder if it is now time for a refresh.

  • I support the Greater Vernon Cultural Plan and it outlines the opportunities that are available. The cultural plan is needed especially when we are trying to attract more investment and workers to the community. I believe it will be another opportunity to attract health care workers, and doctors to the area. There are many economic benefits outlined in the plan. There are so many benefits to the actions in this plan, I am looking forward to seeing how Vernon expands its cultural offerings over the next few years.

  • I would prioritize updating any bylaws or policies that would support the goals of the Plan. 

  • I would like to see the development of Vernon’s art and culture brand that is inclusive and includes a broad section of the local industry. I would support this through ensuring it is included in the Official Community Plan and initiatives that make it more vibrant.

  • I would vote in favour of providing letters of support to assist not-for-profit cultural organizations to apply for funding to support their initiatives. 

  • I think it’s a great plan. It’s really comprehensive, and what speaks to me the most is the idea of the culturally vibrant and connected public realm. Where we reach understandings of each other as individuals, as peoples, as a community, is where we grow into our best versions of ourselves.

  • I think fostering collaboration and partnerships is a truly important piece of this, as well. Collaboration is my happy place.  There is nothing quite as satisfying to me as being a part of something that leads to many people or parties being able to claim ownership of a single meaningful thing or idea.

  • The Greater Vernon Cultural Plan was a product of community input and thus represents the community’s interests and expectations. Vernon’s culture is a key reason why people want to stay here and continue to move here. The plan states that the majority of action items are to be led by RDNO. As a significant partner in the RDNO it is important that City representatives support actions that align with Vernon resident’s interests. As Vernon grows it is critical that the culture which makes this a greater place to live is nurtured and expanded to meet future demands.

  • (Answer was left blank)

Question 3 - How do you personally engage with arts, culture and heritage in Greater Vernon?
  • I have supported many Arts events over my time in Vernon, attending many events and supporting the fund raising efforts, from Mid Summer of the Eve, to Catanei House.

  • I have had the great joy of attending live theatre with my wife at the Powerhouse Theatre, Caravan Farm Theatre and The Performing Arts Centre. To add to this, I am personally invested in the arts as my stepdaughter dedicated 11 years to ballet, jazz, tap and hip-hop at the Okanagan School of Ballet. She also took piano lessons up to grade 3 and participated in many recitals and public events. My daughter participated in singing lessons at the Vernon Community Music School. These experiences equipped my daughters with skills and work ethics which they have carried into their careers. Members of my extended family have served in such roles as music instructor at the Vernon Community Music School and as an Audience Development Officer at the Performing Arts Centre.

  • Right up to my being elected I sat on the Art Gallery board. I currently am the assigned liaison for the Art Council North Okanagan. I attend and support most arts and culture events in the city. I enjoy the sector and will continue being an active participant and supporter.

  • I have been a supporter of the arts community for many years both financially and through my architectural firm. I have been a board member of both the Vernon Art Gallery and Arts Council Of The North Okanagan. I have completed two heritage restoration projects in Vernon, The Vernon Community Music School Carriage House and the Okanagan Landing Station House. I am committed to heritage preservation.

  • I come from a family of artists & musicians. I believe arts and cultural is very important for any community. Not just to showcase our diverse culture & history but as a way to attract visitors/tourism & opportunity. Arts and culture is a huge economic driver. One that we should absolutely give our full attention to. So, what do I do to engage in it, I take in theatre, musical programming, attend vital fundraising events, and promote activities that all can enjoy. I’m also a collector of art. I buy local when I can. Support our many artisan entrepreneurs by attending markets and fairs. I shop and support local.

  • My wife and I are patrons, and part of our desire to move to Vernon was its cultural vibrancy. Part of our community contribution is the ritual of celebrating being here by taking in something different each week. We enjoy live music events downtown, music and comedy at the Performing Arts Center, spectacular live theater at Powerhouse. We love to take in the outdoor artists performing at the Mackie Lake House, or Cambium formerly BX Cidery. There are so many gems, the historic presence of the Caetani Centre – which also hosts outdoor concerts. We have enjoyed learning though exhibits at the Vernon Museum as well as volunteering for some of these events. I have also had the pleasure of playing for years in the Funtastic and my son has performed at the Riot on the Roof.

  • Personally, I engage in the performing arts through multiple attendances at the Power House Theatre, Performing Arts Centre, Paddlewheel Hall, Women’s Institute Hall (Coldstream), Caravan Theatre, Trinity United Church performances, The Jazz Club and events in our parks plus having supported music schools in the City. You do not want me on stage, or hear me try to sing, so I leave that to my much more talented wife. My wife and I also take in major performances in other Okanagan cities each year.

  • I am a regular at visual arts and crafts displays including the Community Arts Centre and Creative Chaos and have enjoyed visits to our museum, O’Keefe Ranch and Caetani House once they re-opened after COVID related restrictions.

  • As someone with an education and history degree, I absolutely love delving into local history or meeting with folks who know more than I do, about any topics, to challenge myself every day to learn more. I love supporting local arts, culture and heritage - I am a big fan of Local Losers, FurHouse, Gallery Vertigo, the Museum, and many more. I purchase local art and I engage with folks of all walks of life and backgrounds every day via social media and in-person.

  • I’m a frequent attendee and supporter of the Polson Night Market and their artisans, I have attended drag shows at Furhouse and at Status Nightclub, I have gone to comedy nights at Roster’s Pub, I have attended special movie events at the Vernon Towne Cinema, I have done the art walk through the Village Green Mall, and I keep apprised of events through the Caravan Farm Theatre.

  • I would love to learn if there were any French or Spanish conversation nights for beginners though, because then I can learn more about those cultures!

  • Culture is also often woven and expressed through cuisine - I was sad that Vernon doesn’t have a food truck festival in the summer, and I would love to invite this to happen here.

  • I engage both in a volunteer role, and as a member of the public in supporting arts, culture, and heritage.  I served on the Board of the Okanagan Science Centre, including a period as Board Chair.  I visit local art galleries and support local artists.  I attend events at the Performing Arts Centre and plays at the Powerhouse Theatre. I attend music events at the Vernon Jazz Club and the Mackie Lake House, and many years ago my children received music instruction at the Vernon community music school. I attend showings sponsored by the Vernon Film Society and occasionally make use of the Vernon public library.

  • I learn about the local venues that provide arts, music, culture and heritage experiences. I support local artists by purchasing their works of art. I attend various functions and fundraisers to support the local non-profit. I share stories of the Okanagan Indian Band and Syilx people and our Nation. I engage with local representatives to connect with the Okanagan Indian Band and its members. I have invested my time by volunteering on the O’Keefe Ranch board of directors. I have met with organizations seeking ways to engage with the Okanagan Indian Band or provided resources for people to connect to.

  • One of the boards I serve is O’Keefe Ranch and Interior Heritage Society. I’ve taken an active and attentive role in the promotion and discussion of cultural and artistic events in the community, including local businesses, prominent artistic community members, community podcasts, and community art endeavours.

  • Under the Instagram name of Aerogeist Productions I am a drone photographer and videographer and have routinely donated my creative and artistic editing services to make promotional videos for non-profits that do not, or cannot, allocate resources to advertising and promotion.

  • I enjoy the heritage of the city and surrounding areas. The many areas of the Grey Canal are great walking and provide educational opportunities for the younger generation. The historic buildings and murals displaying our heritage are a source of pride. 

  • One of the first things I will do is initiate a public art working group to develop a policy to govern public art.  Public art should include significant public support, and the policy must, in my view, include public consultation.



Question 1 - Please provide examples of the ways you would support business retention and expansion in the City of Vernon.
Akbal Mund
  • Many businesses need to look at themselves, what works and what does not. Over the past several months we have had many businesses open in Vernon, does this mean we are doing something right, or is the market big enough that people realize they will make money. Development continues to be off the charts, 2022 will be another record year for permit dollars, i think the City of Vernon is doing a great job at this time.

Kelly Fehr
  • The high cost of housing and low vacancy rates in Vernon have a substantial impact on recruiting and retaining employees for our business community. Vernon will continue to struggle in retaining businesses in Vernon when potential employees cannot find housing specifically, housing that is affordable. In working to support business retention and expansion I will:  

  • Vote to approve the draft Housing Action Plan 

  • Support the 20 action items I listed in the social section of this questionnaire related to the propped Housing Action Plan. 

  • Continue supporting the strong relationship that the City of Vernon has formed with the provincial government and non-government organizations. We have had several provincially funded $10 a day daycare facilities and housing initiatives announced in Vernon over the last term. Maintaining this relationship is essential in supporting and attracting employees to Vernon.  

  • I will continue to support City and Regional District staff’s work with developers to find the right location for new businesses.

Teresa Durning
  • Being user friendly as a municipality will assist us in retaining business and encouraging expansion across the spectrum. Business working well with City departments is critical. The City is working to streamline processes and I know this will make our city even more inviting. More work is needed to make Vernon's downtown attractive to business. Working with bylaw and community policing to keep making progress on this is important to me.

  • The economic development team at the City of Vernon estimated that four out of every five jobs in a community are created by the growth of existing businesses. With this in mind, the priority for economic development is to encourage existing businesses to not only stay in Vernon, but to grow and hire more employees.

  • I would support local businesses by promoting networking, shared support services, finding suitable sites for expansion, and navigating the developmental approval process.

  • Living in one of the most picturesque places in the world, and I understand I’m biased here, but showcasing what we have to offer is paramount to helping promote and expand our business sector. There are many ways in which we can do this:

  • 1. Tourism and promotion of Tourism. We have just approved our next 4+ year tourism and marketing plan which is there to showcase all that we have to offer. By promoting our community across many modes of communication – social media, radio, magazines and TV, we help to drive business to our community. We must continue to work in partnership with Tourism for the benefit of the many businesses already here and the new industries yet to come

  • 2. Build appropriate infrastructure and amenities that will attract new families and workers to our community

  • 3. Improvements to road infrastructure

  • 4. Continue to support our local businesses during unprecedented times by working in collaboration with them through independent one on one discussions, DVA and the Chamber

  • 5. Continue to work toward a vibrant downtown which includes housing. It has been known for some time that bringing quality housing in the downtown core will help to foster growth and retention with increased traffic.

  • 6. Housing- continue to work toward building housing across the housing continuum and follow the recommendations as determined through the Regional Housing Needs Assessment

  • 7. Take a hard stance on crime as crime is having a significant impact on local small businesses by ensuring we have adequate bylaw enforcement, RCMP and boots on the ground. And continue to advocate for an overhaul of the justice system when it comes to prolific offenders who make up more than 80% of the crimes being committed

  • We need competitive and comparable taxes. Where we can, waive or reduce fee’s for property development that brings in desirable businesses. Work with other areas/communities. We are stronger together and some businesses will build outside of the city but the employee’s will live in Vernon or use amenities in Vernon. And again, a skilled and available workforce will be a big help and this is greatly influenced by affordable housing. This goes hand in hand with working with education and training partners on providing the right programs.

  • Existing business retention and expansion strategies are the easiest ways to grow a sustainable local economy. The City’s planning and engineering staff need to continue to work quickly with appropriate businesses in the community that want to expand using levers in our current development processes. Our economic staff needs to be able to link current operations (non-tourism) with regional services and employees (see Question 2) to enhance their operations. Provide a linking services to other like businesses to enhance the conglomeration effect.

  • In the tourism sector, where the MRDT funding is available, focus the marketing on BC, Alberta and Washington where the bulk of our visitors originate as articulated in the new 5 Five Year Marketing Strategy. In addition, move to destination management by directly assisting with an expanded coop marketing budget and product development services with the goal of growing the quality of visitors’ experience over adding to the number of visitors in already high occupancy seasons (mid summer and mid winter).

  • I will encourage the City to make more efforts communicating our amazing lifestyle to future business owners, and as Councillor, I will continue to promote our City of Vernon as a wonderful place to work, live and play. I will encourage folks to shop local for goods and services, so that more folks stay employed and can continue living in this beautiful town while reducing our impacts on the environment. I will advocate for investing in our parks, in recreation, affordability and accessibility.

  • The cost of doing business in any small town is going to be high, because we often don’t have enough people to make a venture profitable. 

  • There needs to be a bigger effort to get residents to spend time downtown. The closed off block on 30th Ave was far more lively this summer, but outside of retailers, we need to build our brand as a city, better. Our slogan as a city “Activate Life” should be prominent, so that it’s clear if people choose to establish their business here, they get to live where others vacation.That being said, I have heard from a lot of people that they don’t want the city to attract more people, to detract from its small-town charm. 

  • We should also be working with the Vernon Climate Action plan to retrofit commercial buildings, so that the cost of utilities is decreased.

  • Retaining our existing businesses can involve free advertising in a local publication, less organizational barriers to acquiring signage or business permits, improve the walkability of commercial streets (constructing sidewalks, adding accessible pedestrian crosswalk signals, free bicycle parking), and consider whether city-wide buy ins for health insurance to reduce operational costs would be feasible. We should also be working with other municipalities in the North Okanagan, Okanagan, and the province, to learn what is working well in other communities as a community roundtable. 

  • We could also look to existing organizations like the UBCM and see which of the resolutions we could enact, or, lean into support from.

  • https://www.ubcm.ca/about-ubcm/who-we-are/mous-agreements-protocols/memorandum-understanding-local-government-financial

  • Business retention and expansion is one of the key functions of the City’s Economic Development and Tourism department.  The department provides a variety of services to existing businesses, for example assistance in meeting labour needs, providing advice on community programs and services, and assistance in finding new operating locations.  In addition, it is important that the City is predictable and consistent in terms of business taxes, downtown safety, and attractiveness.  The City must also work towards achieving the needed supply of housing and the amenities needed to serve the population, including a sufficient number of parks, recreation, and arts and cultural facilities.  

  • If elected, I will work with my Council colleagues to ensure the City’s Economic Development and Tourism department is sufficiently funded and supported, and that the City provides the supportive environment needed to retain businesses and their staff.

  • The first step would be to find out what the business owners want, or need to keep their business in the City of Vernon. Business owners face many challenges and I would like to know that they are, and then find ways to support those business owners. Vernon is full of potential and I would like to see our business community thrive. It is important to build partnerships and to look for ways to promote Vernon as an investment opportunity. 

  • One challenge I have experienced as a small business is finding suitable office space. In my search I have found that many spaces are too small or large. If this is a need experienced by other businesses, more options for office spaces could be identified as a priority in the mixed land use sections of the Official Community Plan.

  •  As a consumer, I support local businesses especially if they use or sell local products as much as possible and encourage others to do the same. 

  • Businesses need to feel supported and heard by their council, especially with emerging concerns and challenges. I would seek to ensure zoning of expansion areas is to purpose and conforms to the needs of the OCP and their respective regions in order to maximize long term potential.

  • A steady growth of residents increases our customer base and provides more opportunities for new businesses and existing business to expand. It is important to encourage all forms of residential development, especially affordable housing opportunities and those close to work and shopping centers.

  • If elected mayor, I intend to advocate for an “open for business” marketing plan across BC and western Canada (and further if advised convincingly of its value). That plan will be backed up by numerous measures, including but not limited to:

  • 1     Building permit streamlining.

  • 2     Property tax relaxation for choice businesses like high tech and suitable industrials;

  • 3     Creation of industrial land base;

  • 4     Adoption of suitable sports, recreation, and cultural amenities;

  • 5     Regional discussions through the RDNO and GVAC over land use; and

  • 6     Advocating to senior government for pro-market policies

Question 2 - Over 40% of businesses in every sector are experiencing labour shortages. How should the City support businesses in meeting their workforce needs?
  • Labour shortages are different for every business, all depends on the skill required for that particular business. I personally opened two new businesses in Vernon this year and have 40 employees, no issue with retention yet.

  • The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is an important and viable option for local businesses. A challenge is around securing a sustainable funding model, so that Community Futures of the North Okanagan can continue to operate the program. The business and tourism sectors may benefit from working with the city to identify ways to expand and fund this program for the long term, to provide businesses with a skilled labour source.

  • Housing is a critical link to improve this situation. I will continue supporting housing initiatives that provide much needed housing for labour. At a recent lunch I took the opportunity to press the BC labour minister sitting beside me on solutions and educate him on how dire the situation was in our community.

  • As a medium sized business owner, the biggest challenge we face in attracting talent is the ability to provide affordable housing for young recruits. We have partnered with Silver Star resort to provide short term off season housing. As suggested in the housing action plan, the City should reduce barriers and incentivize the construction of new secondary suites and secondary dwellings, including allowing suites in semi-detached dwellings.

  • Labor shortages are a real problem whether you are a small or large firm. The lack of affordable & attainable housing has real consequences for many local businesses. Therefore, this Council has already made great strides in working to strengthen their building permitting processes so that we can reduce timelines. Some of these changes are already well underway:

  • i. Hired a few more planners

  • ii. Implementation of an online application process

  • iii. Collaborating with the development community on unique ways to make improvements to our processes, policies & communication

  • iv. Working closely with Northern Immigration Pilot Program

  • v. Continue to promote “shop local”

  • vi. Streamline internal operations

  • Affordable housing. We cannot expect to attract and retain all levels of skilled workers if we don’t have affordable and available accommodation.

  • Currently skilled human resources are in a shortage right across the country and particularly in BC. The best short term strategies are linking with Okanagan College and UBCO while students are in their programs before they graduate, and then promptly follow-up when they graduate. The success of the Rural and Northern Immigrate Program clearly points to the need to assist employers to link with CFDC-NO to enroll in the program and provide information on the skilled workers that they are requiring. Also link businesses with the Ukrainian refugees through the Vernon and District Immigrant and Community Services Society.

  • A critical strategy for all local employers to find people who are already live locally, with the skill set required and see what their barriers are to employment or full employment. This is why the City’s lobbying and provision of land for two new child care facilities is so important as their construction and operation will greatly assist more than 200 families to participate fully in the local workforce. Continuing to lobby for additional funding for more child care facilities is a solid role for the city as increasing the workforce participation from those who are already here is critical to overall economic and community success. Another strategy is to link individuals with the capacity but not the skill set to education opportunities which is the role of other organizations in the City.

  • Finally, the City must continue implementing its housing strategy initiatives to encourage the development of housing for those who choose to work in Vernon because potential employees have turned down positions in Vernon in the last 12 months because of the lack of affordable housing.

  • Ensuring our City is a wonderful, welcoming, tolerant and inclusive place to work, live and play will help attract more talented folks here, and encourage talented folks to stay here. Supporting our local educational providers is key to allowing folks to not only work in Vernon but also grow in Vernon.

  • We are experiencing labour shortages because we don’t have enough housing vacancies. Wages have not kept up with inflation. We need to create more housing for rent and purchase for all income levels, to attract the skilled workers that we need here.

  • We also need to help businesses automate wherever possible.

  • As noted above, the City can help businesses attract people to the City.  The City can also work to provide the housing needed by current and new workers by working to fill gaps in the current supply and diversity of housing, and by working to make housing affordable.  As well, the City can provide high quality amenities that residents want and need.

  • The City can also participate in federal and provincial programs to facilitate immigration.  For example the City of Vernon is currently participating in the federal Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program, one of only 11 communities in the country. It is expected that this program will result in new immigration of roughly 250 workers each year for the next two or three years.  The City can also advocate for more child-care spaces to support workers. 

  • I would vote in favour of providing letters of support to assist not-for-profit cultural organizations to apply for funding to support their initiatives. 

  • Labour shortages are not only a problem in Vernon. The city has a responsibility to create an environment that attracts people to the city. Vernon needs more housing options that accommodate the needs of individuals, families, seniors and those with disabilities. The lack of housing is a barrier to attracting labourers in every industry. I would support streamlining the development approval process so that staff could approve housing developments up to reasonable size, and if there was a pre-approved criteria that was met.

  •  I believe we can build our economy by including new assets such as the proposed Active Living Centre and the Greater Vernon Cultural Centre. Many young adults I speak to wish there were more activities for them to participate in and meet people. I would support any initiatives or development proposals that would support community connections.

  • That’s a tough one for me to answer. One effort I’ve recently become aware of locally is to attract retirees who may wish to work casually to assist with provision of services.  Another way I can think of is to make moving here more attractive, and that will likely hinge in large part on improving the affordable housing situation. Also, the promotion and support of workforce housing could be a means of attracting and enabling an influx of labour.

  • It is important to reach out to the business community and understand each businesses needs. Successful strategies adopted by some to resolve these issues could be shared or tweaked to suit other businesses. Encouraging residential growth targeted at work force needs is one other way to expand the workforce available.

  • The municipal government has limited jurisdiction over workforce related issues, but housing is certainly one such issue.  I will continue to work toward streamlining building permits for both affordable and attainable housing, continue marketing Vernon as a more affordable and homier alternative to bigger cities like Kelowna, formulate enticements to family doctors, and continue working with police and Bylaw to reduce crime and enhance our reputation as a safe place to live.

Question 3How should the City support emerging and growing information technology, and manufacturing sectors including agriculture products processing?
  • The City can support through Council direction as the province highly regulates some businesses that are involved in the above products. The City has no control of regulating Agriculture processing, this is done through the Province.

  • Complete implementation of development process review recommendations.

  • Develop public materials to increase awareness of development processes and timelines.

  • Explore opportunities to showcase local businesses within planned City of Vernon Community Enews.

  • The City needs to continue to advocate with other levels of government on the value of these sectors. Encouraging business to set up shop here and being open to the growth creates a significant asset to the area and municipality.

  • The City should support manufacturing and agricultural processing by maintaining and monitoring sufficient industrial land base.

  • The City should support growing and emerging information technology through the use of small business incubators in key downtown locations.

  • Although the majority of the lands used for agricultural purposes are not located in the City of Vernon, we are still supporting them regionally through the RDNO. In fact, Spallumcheen has just set a side lands that will become an agri-hub that will hopefully support a wide variety of agricultural business opportunities including processing. We need to continue to attract new industry but to do so we need to ensure that our community continues to offer opportunity, improved infrastructure and amenities that can cater to a wide swath of diverse peoples.

  • Where we can, waive or reduce fee’s for property development that brings in these types of businesses. Work with other areas/communities. We are stronger together and some businesses will build outside of the city but the employee’s will live in Vernon or use amenities in Vernon. And again, a skilled and available workforce will be a big help and this is greatly influenced by affordable housing. This goes hand in hand with working with education and training partners on providing the right programs.

  • The City, in conjunction with CFDC-NO needs to continue to built links with information technology companies already operating in the Okanagan (particularly the North Okanagan) to assist them with expansion. The City, also needs to link closely the Township of Spallumcheen supporting their new business park for agriculture products processing.

  • Our City does not have many large farms within city boundaries so I am not sure how much agricultural products processing assistance may be required, but I do know that the City is restricted by the Local Government Act from directly providing assistance to business. Information technology is not something our City develops, but we certainly benefit from investments in local infrastructure that have been made by providers such as Telus, and I hope that means our City continues to upgrade as required. Conducting meetings virtually can continue to save our environment and tax dollars.

  • The City can provide the same economic planning and development services to these specific sectors that it provides generally to existing and prospective businesses.  More specifically the City can work with existing information technology companies to facilitate their retention and expansion, and with local community groups that can leverage external funding for programs to improve digital access such as internet connectivity within the city.   The City can work with the Township of Spallumcheen to promote the success of their potential new agricultural products processing business park.

  • I would like to see the city use technology to improve operations and services. Partnerships can be created with institutions such as the Okanagan College to build and foster the information technology industry. The international student program could look to attract more info-tech students. Vernon needs to ensure there is adequate infrastructure to support the technology industry, housing for one. We need housing developments that include commercial space. We do not have a lot of options for office space. In my experience the options are too big or too small.

  • In every way possible. 

  • Information technology continues to be the dominant emerging commercial landscape. With food prices on the rise for people, and livestock feed costs drastically increasing in the background, agricultural products are extremely important in ensuring local economic activity, capitalizing on regional agricultural opportunities, and addressing food production capability.

  • It is important that the City takes a holistic approach to attracting new business as these types of business look at all factors. There are many aspects of the area that are exceedingly attractive to new business and while the City needs to promote those, we also need to understand and improve aspects that may deter this type of growth. As an example, the high price of housing in the area, compared to other similar communities has always been a struggle here. Available land for new development is also an issue in the City. The City needs to continue to work with our neighbouring communities which have the form of land and services not available in the City.

  • Creating more industrial land, enhancing regional transportation, and adopting new technologies.  I want to see Vernon break out of its wait-and-see stance and start leading the pack of BC municipalities.

Question 4 - How should the City assist businesses in the medium term (3-5 years) to become more resilient?
  • Everyone always says why doesn't the City do more to help Businesses? The City collects taxes for infrastructure, parks, fire, police, water, garbage, excetra, the businesses need tp have solid business plans before they proceed into operations so they will survive, not rely on The City to make sure they do. We can allow projects to proceed in high traffic locations which may help businesses to be seen, but in terms of any monetary help, that is up to the businesses.

  • Continue working collaboratively with Vernon's Business Leaders from the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Vernon Association and tourism working groups to create effective strategies.

  • The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is an important and viable option for local businesses. A challenge is around securing a sustainable funding model, so that Community Futures of the North Okanagan can continue to operate the program. The business and tourism sectors may benefit from working with the city to identify ways to expand and fund this program for the long term, to provide businesses with a skilled labour source.

  • With supply chain and labour issues being the most critical issues facing businesses the City will need to pay careful attention on how their processes & policies are impacting both. The economy over all is fragile coming out of the pandemic and we will need to all be paying attention to the macro picture.

  • The City must remain current with issues facing the business community and be prepared to adapt procedures to align with changing market conditions, timing is everything.

  • The City must demonstrate its own resiliency in order to display confidence to the business community.

  • Continue to be engaged, have open and honest dialogue, be cognizant of the issues and be willing to address them early, listen and help find solutions with local stakeholders. Pivot when required to do so. even though businesses are resilient on their own there will be unprecedented times, like we have already seen, where local government can find solutions that can bring financial/taxation relief. Be a partner in promoting our businesses through tourism and other DVA/Chamber initiatives. Many small and mid-size businesses don't have the necessary financial resources to weather unpredicted storms - we must be willing to have a discussion on possible solutions with prescribed outcomes because in the end our business community is truly the backbone of our local economy.

  • Help provide affordable housing to attract and maintain workers. This also brings new families to the city who will shop and live locally. Look at how we can manage fees and taxes to sectors that are struggling. Work with the Vernon Downtown and Chamber to make sure we are working together and getting current up to date information from those that need the help.

  • Seek out partnerships with the Province and the federal government to design, resource and implement climate resiliency consulting/planning for small and medium sized business in the North Okanagan. In conjunction with our Chamber of Commerce and CFDC-NO establish and deliver a climate resiliency education program to businesses. The education program must have components on the new opportunities as climate change will bring significant market shifts opening opportunities across all sectors.

  • Our City works together with businesses via associations such as the Downtown Vernon Association, and we must continue to consult with these groups and work to ensure our City bylaws and policies enhance business resiliency as much as legally possible.

  • We need to look at different models of revenue for the city. Most of our revenue comes from property taxes, business and construction permits, and other fees (parking meters, special events, etc). The more revenue that our city has, the more grants and funding the city can offer to support businesses in their vulnerable medium term. Most businesses that survive >5 years will remain in business, but many businesses fold before the 3 year mark. Groups like Community Futures North Okanagan can provide wage subsidies to new businesses however, there needs to be a central resource for Vernon businesses to learn about what types of funding from the city may be available.

  • A successful business becomes resilient by identifying risks and taking steps to reduce and manage those risks.  An obvious risk is the broad suite of risks associated with climate change.   Other risks are associated with health (e.g. COVID has had a huge impact on businesses here and around the world) , availability and cost of labour, and competition in the marketplace. 

  • The City should continue its ongoing efforts to support existing businesses (discussed in the answer to question 1, above) and to attract new businesses to Vernon.  Specifically, with respect to climate risk, the City’s Climate Action Plan provides many specific recommendations targeted to businesses for reducing their climate risk.  The City can encourage businesses to take these steps, and can seek funding from federal and provincial governments to assist local businesses with this work.   The City can work with businesses directly or through partnerships with community organizations to help businesses address their risks related to health and labour.

  • The city can work with local agencies that support business development and networking opportunities. The city can encourage shopping locally, and lobby for provincial funding to support building training opportunities. The city can work towards increasing the housing inventory options.

  • I suppose it depends on what kind of resiliency is being discussed…

  • Businesses require resiliency to emerging market challenges, and the model of self-sufficiency within the community (shopping local) is an underpinning to this facet of resiliency. I admit I do not have any concrete ideas how the City would or could assist with that. Perhaps the City could incentivise businesses who act as community partners with reduced business fees, but I don’t know how that would be established or measured, or if it’s even possible. I feel that I need to learn more about ways municipal governments support and assist businesses for this purpose.

  • Businesses also require resilience to threats like theft and damage, and the City could work with businesses to employ stronger deterrents to this type of criminal behaviour. Perhaps businesses that lack security structures could be brought together for a larger purchase that offers some savings, and the city could help offset those costs with a grant, or temporarily with a loan. The savings would come with decreased need for police attendance to these types of crime.

  • It is important to continue to meet with members of the business community to understand their hardships and explore opportunities where action by the City could resolve some issues. Expanding the beautification works out from the City center to create a larger pedestrian friendly area would promote increased foot and tourist traffic to those local businesses.

  • Mostly by leaving then alone.  Entrepreneurs are risk takers and go-getters. However, when permissions are required, I believe the role of Council should be to issue them, as long as the impacts are positive overall.



Question 1 -What would you do to protect the health of members of our community who have been made vulnerable to the effects of climate change?
Akbal Mund
  • There are many non profit social groups in our community that can help. The Sicail Planning Council meets monthly with over 20 groups to discuss what they do for the less fortunate. The City pays the director, and this model was picked up by other communities in the Okanagan.

Kelly Fehr
  • Please refer to the answers I provided to the four questions in the environment section of this questionnaire.

  • In addition, I will continue supporting practices that were utilized over this council term which include:

  • Providing cooling spaces during extreme heat.

  • Providing warming spaces in extreme cold.

  • Providing emergency services to support other communities in the midst of wildfires.

Teresa Durning
  • Support organization and social programs that assist in protecting these individuals. The citizens welfare is all of our business.

  • Providing adequate access to resources when emergency situations occur, along with financial funding or material resources readily available to those in need. Bigger scale option would be to implement land-management strategies for places like the Okanagan that deal with fires yearly.

  • a. Food scarcity is a real concern especially when you live in an area that has seen both flood and fire. Both of which can and will have a significant impact on our food supply. Now with the cost of inflation risen to numbers we have not seen in well over 30 years, it’s impacts can be felt across the socio-economic spectrum but with a greater degree of impact on those who are most vulnerable. Due to this, we have been working hard to preserve agri-land and have been working closely with the RDNO to do this.

  • b. Encourage local community gardens and roof top gardens

  • c. Educate on fire mitigation principles so that people can protect and preserve their own land from the devasting impact of fires

  • Whatever it takes. We have an obligation to look after all of our community’s citizens. Warming centers in the winter, cooling centers in the summer, access to housing, food and health services. I am an Emergency Response Manager with the Red Cross, so on a personal level, I am prepared to volunteer when we have fires, floods or other disasters.

  • The City’s role to operate cooling centres and specialized transport for those with mobility challenges at times of high heat, like our recent heat dome in 2021. These centres have been pet friendly, critical to many. The City must provide additional drinking water stations for rehydration during high temperate days.

  • Improved snow removal at bus stops is critical to those accessing local buses during severe winter weather to obtain life’s necessities.

  • Lobby the provincial and federal governments for programs to retrofit current apartments that do not meet current standards to minimize heat loss, heat gain and provide air conditioning during hot days.

  • Our City recently invested in an alert system that I hope will be able to better communicate with residents during any emergency. Making folks aware of climate risks through regular City communications is key, as is offering resources, links and information on the City website.

  • Our City must work closely with Interior Health to ensure we are doing what we can to protect the health of community members who have been made vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as by providing municipal cooling stations and cooling centres during extreme heat events. 

  • Help seniors with emergency preparedness planning, make people aware of the free cooling centres (there was a shuttle which transported people for free to the library this summer!), work with supportive housing groups to determine what support they need to help with climate emergencies, and help people access Clean BC strategies to retrofit their homes.

  • Access to food and medication is also a big growing concern for which I don’t have any solutions. I would rely on experts to guide me in the right direction. In a climate emergency, I would be one of the first to die without access to medication.

  • Consideration of the impact of climate change on the health of the community was a major driver of the Climate Action Plan, which I championed as co-chair of the City’s Climate Action Advisory Committee.  The health-related vision statement in the Climate Action Plan is “Vernon is a healthy, equitable and resilient community”.  The Goal in support of that vision is “all members of the community, especially the most at risk and vulnerable, have equitable access to information, support and resources related to preparing for climate readiness”.  There are two actions in support of that goal:

  • (1) identify populations vulnerable to climate change and develop strategies to build their adaptive capacity, and

  • (2) develop a program to facilitate social connection, information sharing, climate awareness, and climate response activities amongst City residents at the neighbourhood scale.

  • Examples of work the City has done recently include providing City facilities for use as shelters during extreme heat and poor air quality due to wildfires.

  • If elected to Council I will advocate for City leadership in addressing these actions, and working with community partners to complete them.

  • I think the municipal role is important in supporting local nonprofits in accessing funding to provide support to access for mental and physical health. I will support accepting funding from the Provincial or Federal governments to support our city.  

  • We need facilities to support this population, I know people are sick of “helping” and many are frustrated. If you look at the statistics these people have physical disabilities, and mental health issues. When a person is provided $375 for rent and it costs $900 to rent a room, they are going to be homeless. When people do not have their basic needs met they will want to numb their pain. 

  • Without housing for these people, Vernon will consistently be dealing with these issues and they will get worse. Supporting people does not attract the homeless, they are people with connections to the Vernon community. Addictions and homelessness are complex issues that cannot be solved overnight. It is not an issue that can be legislated away, because we are dealing with people and the core issues need to be addressed. 

  • As I mentioned earlier, the initiatives for public cooling and warming amenities are very valuable in providing relief to vulnerable people in need during extreme weather events.

  • Additionally, the communication channels of the City can be utilised to seek and solicit community support for things that provide comfort and sustenance.

  • Additionally, the City could explore options to help prepare their homes to be more resilient to climate challenges through subsidy or other assistance. I say this in appraising the cost of risking lives lost as being unacceptable costs to our community.

  • It is important that the City work with the Province and Health Unit to ensure the health needs of our community are addressed. Known impacts of climate change specific to our community need to be recognized and addressed proactively.

  • This question is too vague to answer.

Question 2 - What do you believe is the municipality's role in enabling and assisting ministries and non-profits as they address mental and physical health treatment issues and access, in populations affected by houselessness and the toxic drug supply? How might the municipality address the stigma that prevents people facing these challenges from seeking health services?
  • Our role should be kept to a minimum, we can provide access to land for BC Housing to build homes or clinics, but, again, we do not collect taxes from our residents for social services. It is not fair or right for the city to spend money for what the Federal and Provincial Gov'ts collect taxes for.

  • I believe that the municipalities role is a collaborative one which supports the best practices identified by professionals in the field through research. 

  • Participating in research - In 2020 I met with Dr. Jon Corbett, Bethany Presley and Mayor Cummings to discuss UBCO working with the City of Vernon and stakeholders to produce a Vernon Homelessness Report . The report was completed in the fall of 2021. Many other community stakeholders and I participated in interviews and data collection which resulted in the recommendations listed in this report. 

  • Prioritizing appropriate housing – Adopting the Vernon Housing Action Plan 

  • Supporting programming - Supporting Interior Health programming initiatives. 

  • In addition to collaborating the municipality can and should take a leadership role in the following areas: 

  • Inclusion - Inviting people living with substance misuse and/or severe and persistent mental health issues to speak with them in a safe and non-intimidating venue. Learning directly from the population to understand what their needs and challenges are. 

  • Advocacy – Advocating for the Federal Government to increase the Canadian Health Transfer from 22% to 35%.  

  • Council can assist in reducing stigma by: 

  • Understanding substance misuse is a health issue not a moral failure. 

  • Understanding their own biases.  

  • Being aware of the language they use when discussing mental health and substance use, specifically in public forums including social media. 

  • Being open about substance misuse and/or mental health as way of normalizing the conversation. 

  • I am actively engaged with the community regarding social matters. The Community Involvement page of my website https://kellyfehr.org/ provides information on the council appointed and personal community work I am involved in.  

  • The burden should not be on the citizens of Vernon alone. Assisting ministries and non profits takes all levels of government. We as a city need to lobby the province in providing support and wrap around care for citizens in crisis at all levels. Our healthcare system is a mess and even if there was no stigma there is very little in terms of help or health service for them.

  • To enable local ministries and non-profits, the municipality could help by making the process of building new addiction facilities more attainable and providing more emergency shelters. The hindrance for non-profits is having the room for people to access help. The rate of addiction/homelessness is growing steadily but there’s not enough support for non-profits to put hope within reach.

  • a. I have always believed that this is a multi-faceted issue that requires all levels of government to collaborate. Although healthcare is not within our purview, being a participant at the table ensures that we can address both the short-term and long-term impacts of any initiatives on the broader community.

  • b. We must continue to advocate to senior levels of government to improve treatment facilities and increase funding for healthcare so that we can provide the necessary treatment when required

  • c. We must continue to go over after the “dealer” and “supplier” of toxic drugs

  • d. Continue to work with IHA and be a partner in the solution

  • The city needs to be an equal partner and education for the general public is the key to removing the stigma. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it.

  • The City’s role is to work with the provincial government to provide supportive and non-market housing for those experiencing homelessness. It is also the City’s role to enable home owners to add suites to their single family dwellings through zoning and prompt permitting to expand the supply of lower cost housing in the community. Provision of mental and physical health are Provincial responsibilities and local governments do not have the legal mandate nor the financial resources to participate in the provision of services. Our local government’s role is to assist the provincial ministries and their agencies with locating facilities in the community. Local government politicians also sit on regional hospital boards that provide 40% of the funding through local taxation (Hospital Tax) to make sure adequate health facilities exist in the region. The City also needs to continue employing enough trained Bylaw Officers to successfully interact with those experiencing homelessness to guide them to services and to minimize the negative interactions with the broader resident and visitor community.

  • Our City must realize that THEM is US, and WE are THEM. We must treat each other as we would like to be treated ourselves.

  • This is a complex problem with no easy solutions that requires society to set aside stigma and prejudice. I will continue to promote love and acceptance.

  • A municipal partnership with nonprofits helps leverage other government funds (such as federal, provincial, or regional district). For example, if the municipality makes a small investment, such as selling, donating or leasing the land, the provincial or federal government often help with the capital cost of the building and some or all of the ongoing operational costs.

  • The City of Vernon waived Development Cost Charges for nonprofit housing societies back in 2008, could we consider waiving DCCs for not only the housing projects, but also for the physical office spaces/facilities? 

  • Often, the issue is not the lack of space but the lack of staffing. I’m pleased that we have supervised consumption and harm reduction sites, but we need to connect with our MLA to request more funding, so that their operating hours can be more accessible (currently each centre is only open a few hours per day on weekday afternoons).

  • The municipality needs to work closely with the provincial government, the federal government, the OKIB government, and the RDNO to come up with a regional solution. One example of this working well was in Cowichan Valley, where a Leadership group was formed to request construction of a new care facility. The group included:

  • William Seymour, Chief, Cowichan Tribes

  • Michelle Staples, Mayor, City of Duncan

  • Al Siebring, Mayor, Municipality of North Cowichan

  • Rod Peters, Mayor, Lake Cowichan

  • Aaron Stone, Chair, Cowichan Valley Regional District

  • Sonia Fursteneau, MLA

  • Alistair MacGregor, MP

  • Candace Spilsbury, Chair, School District 79 School Board

  • Dr. Shannon Waters, Medical Health Officer, Island Health

  • Inspector Chris Bear, North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP

  • The effort was successful after writing to the Minister of Health and Addictions in 2019 and the centre was constructed in 2020: https://www.islandhealth.ca/about-us/accountability/strategic-direction/community-engagement/cowichan-wellness-recovery-centre

  • In Canada, health is a provincial responsibility.  However, the City can work with Interior Health on projects they propose for the community, such as harm reduction programs (for example safe injection sites).  The City can also work with the province and with local community groups such as the Turning Points Collaborative Society to build and operate supportive housing for people affected by homelessness, a proportion of whom suffer from mental illnesses and addictions, and is already doing that.  

  • More generally, the City should continue to support the Social Planning Council of the North Okanagan and the Partners in Action (a broad coalition of community organizations including the Turning Points Collaborative Society, churches, and the Salvation Army) to enable these groups to fully deliver their mandates within the community.  The City can leverage its support to obtain additional financial support from higher levels of government for the programs operated by these groups to help people get off the streets and into a more supportive living environment.

  • Finally, Vernon, like many communities in B.C., is facing a shortage of family physicians.  The City can contribute to a solution to this problem by doing its part of make the community attractive to both doctors and their spouses.

  • On the issue of the stigma associated with additions and homelessness – I believe that speaking openly about mental health and drug addiction, and supporting health-based initiatives are essential for removing the stigma.  The City should do its part to emphasize to the community that drug addiction and homelessness are public health issues that affect us all, and are not criminal or moral issues.  I support the health agencies in our community that are working to address the stigma related to mental health and addictions.

  • The city can lease land to the not for profits for to build these programs. The city can accept funding for the government and support applications from organizations to address these health issues.  Facts. People do not know the facts and make assumptions about the homeless population creating stigmas. One way to address stigma is to support educational programs that eliminate stigmatizing language.

  • The City should actively maintain relationships with ministries and NPOs in order to further their work in the most expedient and efficient manner.  Again, the communication channels of the City should be used to inform the public of the benefits of such endeavours.

  • To address stigma, the City can do a better job of putting a human face on the plight of those who are marginalized by addiction or mental health issues through a meaningful awareness campaign. The municipality can also facilitate the connection between families and individuals who want to support or sponsor, either emotionally or materially, people who are marginalized.

  • From my point of view, the biggest challenge I see in helping the street entrenched and people who are marginalised by addiction and homelessness is a loss of belief in themselves. It is not possible for a human to change their course in life without this fundamental belief, and I think if more people in our community could look past what they believe is the self-inflicted cause of another person’s marginalisation, and instead focus on the hope for a better future for both the person and the community they live in, we could begin to see real change. 

  • I speak from some experience, as I had spent years as a heavy cocaine user and came close to accidentally ending my life as a result of it. It was only my good fortune that my father was in my life and had enough love in his heart to help see me through to restoring my sense of self value and wellness.

  • Not everyone is so lucky to have my dad. (Dad if you’re reading this, I love you)

  • We need real compassion and patience, and a belief that we *Can* help restore people to wholeness if we give them the chance to move beyond their lows. But it will take a community. No one person can do it. Nor can just a few. If we attempt to take this on *together* then we can make a real difference and elevate people from their belief that misery is their only destiny. In doing so, we can reach new levels of belief in ourselves. But let’s start coming together now and making a plan, because the City can only do so much, and it’s not just the City that desperately wants to see a better future for all of us. If we can start to change how our city looks, maybe other cities will follow suit. As a City councillor, I’ll be among the first to assume the risks inherent in bridging the divide between the worlds of the homed and the worlds of the homeless, but anyone who votes for me must accept a share of the duty to attempt this.  

  • The City has always been supportive of non-profit organizations that deal with a multitude of issues. The City needs to continue this support and work with the Province to address areas of concern as they arise.

  • The municipality is much closer to the issues than the provincial government, so I would suggest that the role of the City is to

  • Help the ministries understand what the problems are, and suggest holistic rather than hyper-focussed solutions.

Question 3 - How will you ensure that our Parks & Recreation facilities and programs meet the diverse needs of our population?
  • We continue to evolve here, over the past 8 years we have ,any programs that work with Indvidual's with diverse needs. we have increased our recreation immensely, A New Athletics Park, A Rail Trail, A Polson Greenway, a new Hockey Rink, a new Cultural Center, and hopefully a new Active Living Center.

  • The City of Vernon and Vernon Seniors Action Network that I serve on was recently successful in their application for $25,000. These funds will go towards developing an Age and Dementia Friendly Action Plan to make Vernon a more accessible place to live. It is my goal to ensure that the action items developed in this plan are implemented in the next Parks Master Plan update and Official Community Plan update.

  • I will discuss with Council and Regional Director's the issue of incorporating inclusionary questions in public engagement for Polson Park and other future park and recreation developments.

  • We need to make sure processes and infrastructure is user friendly and available. We can only act on what we know from the citizens that use the facilities and how they use the current programs and facilities.

  • Community engagement is key to ensuring success. An inclusive and meaningful engagement process ensures that our parks and recreation facilities are created by the people they are intended to serve.

  • Community and public engagement is paramount in ensuring our parks and rec facilities are diverse and inclusive of all people. Through proper public engagement, we can ensure that the very facilities we are creating meet the needs of the people to which it serves. Understanding their core beliefs, wants and needs we can help to shape our programming, continue to invest in diverse and accessible parks, and promote improved amenities such as the newly proposed Kin Race Track Athletic Park and the New active Living Centre. Both of which had thorough public engagement and participation.

  • The city will need to continue to review its programs and facilities on an annual basis with the growing population as our needs change. The referendum on the active living center is the perfect example of how we can do this.

  • Expansion of parks and their facilities located in all residential neighbourhoods to minimize the transportation barriers for those with transportation challenges. Examples in the last 4 years has been the expansion of Girouard Park, the new Jump Start playground at Marshall Fields, construction of Civic Memorial Park, construction of Lakeshore Park, upgrading of numerous Okanagan Lake accesses, replacement of Lakeview Pool (Peanut Pool) and planned redevelopment of Pottery, Deer, Kin Race Track Athletic parks.

  • Keeping recreation facilities meeting diverse needs requires a broad multi-faceted approach. For those with financial challenges the special recreation passes program is critical to continue. Buildings and parks need to provide easy access for those with all levels of physical abilities which is a focus of the Jump Start playground with associated upgraded washrooms and the playground at the new Civic Memorial Park with washrooms soon to follow. Meeting other needs must be maintained as a corner stone to public recreation programs and funding.

  • Recreation is a massive draw in Vernon, so important to so many people in our community and also of course for tourism. Not planning for regional recreation facilities has not served us well. Some groups that were promised facilities 15 years ago are still waiting today.  Only now are we asking Vernon residents to vote on long-term borrowing for a new recreation facility that should have been built a decade ago. Programs are oversubscribed and filled up within minutes. 

  • Our City ’s parks and recreation should not be divorced from each other. I would also suggest, that parks and recreation are intertwined with our culture.  I suggest rethinking our plans and ultimately deciding whether Greater Vernon is indeed, one social and one economic unit.  If so, it’s time to start acting like it!

  • Supporting the Active LIving Centre is a huge move in the right direction. 

  • The city having constructed the Jumpstart Inclusive Playground is also a huge move in the right direction.

  • When we are looking at facilities and programs, we need to ask ourselves:

  • Are the programs and facilities planned for kids/adults/seniors with mobility challenges? Sensory challenges? Access to washrooms? Access to technology or adaptive devices (e.g. many programs ban cell phone use but for some people they rely on their phones as life-saving treatment devices)? 

  • Are there programs for ESL speakers, or welcoming to those with basic English skills?

  • Are all programs welcoming to 2SLGBTQIA+ people?

  • Vernon needs sufficient parks and modern, high quality recreation facilities to meet the needs of the entire community, including those with lower incomes or physical or other barriers to access.  The Parks program is informed and guided by a 2015 Parks Master Plan and the Recreation program is informed by a 2018 Recreation Master Plan.  In addition, on Wednesday September 21, 2022, a new Natural Areas and Trails Plan was presented to the RDNO Board.

  • On Council I will advocate for a robust park and recreation budget and staffing to fully deliver the facilities and programs needed to meet the needs of all residents.  In addition, steps should be taken to ensure that Vernon’s public facilities and welcoming and inclusive spaces for our whole community, as Vernon becomes more diverse.  

  • Several key projects are currently underway (including redevelopment of Polson Park, completion of the Grey Canal Trail, and upgrading the Lakeview Pool), and I will fully support the completion of these projects.  The proposed new Active Living Centre will be presented to voters for approval in a referendum on October 15, and if that project is supported by the public, I will actively support it through to completion.

  • We need to consider the needs of our community and the populations we serve. I would like to see partnerships with our community groups to ensure equitable access to facilities. Not only accessibility but provide options so that social clubs can thrive in Vernon so that people are able to connect on different levels. Sports are not an option for everyone. I will keep an open mind to hearing what opportunities exist, and hearing from those who may not be getting equitable access and work to let your voice be heard.

  • My basic approach is through collaboration with user groups and applying a fair division of use. 

  • One critical component is assessing which lenses of diversity are under being used. Our community has diversity in its age demographic, ethnicity, religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, wealth, physical ability, health, dietary needs, and more dimensions that I will inevitably regret failing to recall. Overall, parks and facilities should be of equal and fair access to all residents of our community, and the programs should not favour any identifiable group more than another if all other considerations are equal.

  • The City, as a partner in the RDNO needs to work with other members of RDNO to maintain existing facilities, upgrade them as necessary and plan for the future. Provision of new programs that address the public’s expectations needs to be encouraged. Examining the costs to operate and maintain existing facilities needs to continue with an eye towards how to continue to provide services that the public can afford. Planning for major expenses to existing facilities needs to be included in the City’s annual budget so that it can be spread out where possible. New facilities that meet growing public needs for now and into the future need to have extensive public engagement to ensure everyone is aware of options, impacts and costs.

  • Polson Park requires revitalization, and that will be one of my priorities.  Parks should not only be clean and usable in all seasons, but should contain amenities to attract families and children.  Outdoor skating, spray parks, ponds were applicable, and adequate policing to maintain the atmosphere.