Photo: Andrew Jakubeit
Castanet News distributed a questionnaire to every candidate running for local council in the South Okanagan.
All candidates were given the same questions and the answers were edited for clarity and conciseness where necessary. Responses will be posted daily in the coming weeks. An interactive database of Okanagan candidates, including past quiz stories, is available here and is updated daily.
Election day is October 15.
Why would you make an effective city councillor?
I spent 10 years on City Council from 2008-2018, so I experienced leadership in helping to rebuild a safe and vibrant Penticton. When I started on the board, there was a recession and now we are entering another recession, so I saw what worked and what didn’t work in past initiatives to weather the storm.
I own two businesses, one of which, the Grooveyard, has been in business downtown for 32 years. So I understand the importance of a flourishing economy. I volunteered for 29 years in Penticton, first with Minor Hockey (currently on the BC Hockey Board of Directors), served as President of the Downtown Penticton Association (supported from the creation of the Community Marketplace Saturday and one hour of free parking), and for the past four years on the South Okanagan Immigrant Community Services Board of Directors.
I have been immersed in the community and have served on many different boards so I understand bureaucracy and how to balance the needs and wants of society with the needs, wants and ability to pay of the taxpayer .
What is the number one problem facing the city today and how would you deal with it knowing that the municipality has only limited power?
Community safety is the key issue to help rebuild a safe and vibrant Penticton. The province has just announced the resurrection of the “Prolific Offender Management Program” and is implementing 3 of 28 recommendations from a joint study. This is a good first step in targeting the small number of people who cause the most concern and pressure on protective services. The new plan still lacks mandatory treatment for people with chronic mental health and substance abuse problems, and real-time electronic bail monitoring; that was what the BC mayors’ caucus was asking for.
Adding more RCMP and regulations can help target bad behavior in public places, but unless the justice system makes changes, we will continue to see similar results. The fire department has been overshadowed in the safety conversation and is asking for four more staff…perhaps a reasonable compromise is two new hires and the use of their auxiliary members as part-time staff during peak periods like summer vacation.
How would you make Penticton more affordable?
Housing is the number one expense for most people, so increasing the supply of housing will help reduce demand (price). We need to consider development cost reductions or other incentives for homeowners to build a shed or secondary suite. This is an easy way to add housing stock while rebuilding and upgrading neighborhoods. It is a shame that the current council has gone to war (publicly) with the Province and in particular the Department of Housing as they partner with many different housing initiatives and it will now take time to rebuild the relationship.
Whistler has a housing authority that has been successful in providing affordable housing for employees in an expensive market, so this is something Penticton should consider. For larger-scale projects, the federal government needs to reinstate tax incentives for developers who provide affordable housing at or below market value…because most developers won’t take risks and build without some level of profit or return on investment.
Can you give an example of a time when you agreed with the city council during the last term, and a time when you disagreed?
I love this invested council and wanted to make Penticton the “Festivals and Events Capital”; however, I disagree with the commitment of $650,000 per year in Ironman for 1,500 athletes. It’s a great event, it brings people to town, created a sense of energy, had an economic impact and complimented our triathlon heritage. However, there is no money left to support another opportunity or expand existing festivals and events…not to mention fund other infrastructure or city budget needs.
Gran Fondo has 3,000 participating athletes and usually receives $40,000 from the city and Dragon Boats had over 2,000 athletes and usually receives around $10,000 from the city. I would argue that the economic impact and momentum created by each of the aforementioned events is similar, so it’s hard to justify the massive investment.
This is another example of advice trying to retain the nostalgia and relive the glory of days gone by, instead of adapting to market changes and demographic or cultural shifts that continue to evolve.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?
I would spend $100,000 to expand the public art sculpture program. I would invest $100,000 to help build and run new festivals and events in town targeting the shoulder seasons. I would spend $100,000 to add more outdoor exercise equipment along Lakeshore Drive or Gyro/Lakawana Park. I would invest $100,000 in expanding the community camera program to help with security initiatives. The remainder would be spent repaving the canal boardwalk and resurfacing the KVR trail to Summerland. This is where the “bike path” grant money should have been spent, as it would have been aligned with the valley-wide “Rails to Trails” initiative. It would also be a tourist attraction and a real protected cycle path for people to gain comfort and confidence on their bikes. Finally, it would be a great opportunity to partner with the Penticton Indian Band.
Imagine Penticton in 20 years. What are the key aspects that make it thrive?
In 20 years, I would like to see a leading medical/health services industry complete the recent expansion of the new hospital. I would like population growth to follow inflation so that tax burdens are nominal. Since we are limited for growth (two lakes on each side, Penticton Indian Band on one side, mountains on the other side, and a height restriction due to the airport), I would like to see smart growth. I hope the relationship between the city and the Penticton Indian Band is stronger, not only for housing and business growth, but also culturally, so that we truly have a vibrant community. The biggest indicator will be today’s high school students building careers here and/or returning to start and/or raise families here.
Penticton has so much potential. We need a board that is a diverse group of people at different stages of their lives with different skills, perspectives, wants, needs and vision of what makes a community both safe and vibrant today. today and in 20 years.
All applicants gave the opportunity to provide a short video produced by them, if they wished. Below is Jakubeit’s submission.
Contributed Andrew Jakubeit