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
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/)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Supporting emerging and growing information technology can only be done with the buildings and facilities to foster this growth. Skilled workers can only relocate here if there is housing available for them.
I would prefer to “de-grow” manufacturing sectors as much as possible. We need to do more to support Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) businesses, and decrease operating costs of local farmers and small food producers. Here is one example: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/241103408_%27Sustainable_de-growth%27_in_agriculture_and_food_An_agro-ecological_perspective_on_Spain%27s_agri-food_system_year_2000
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.
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.
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
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?