It’s good to know where the politicians stand on the issues before casting your ballot.
The Western News surveyed Penticton council candidates about their views on three topics, allowing them to respond in 200 words for each answer to get a sense on their plan.
The first question posed to candidates was: List three specific things you would do to create jobs in Penticton for residents.
Below are the candidates’ answers, appearing in alphabetical order.
Burga Black — 1. To start with: we must stop our jobs from leaving Penticton!
2. We must offer some incentives to shop owners so they can remain in Penticton (rents lowered on the facilities; tax relief, etc.).
3. Where one position becomes vacant offer it to two people at half-time each — thereby hiring two people instead of one (at least until the economy improves).
Jeannie Cavallo — 1. Empower our Economic Development Office. This office has been without clear direction from City Hall and that needs to change. The purpose of the Economic Development Office is to sell Penticton to potential job creators. I am encouraged that a new group has been awarded the contract to manage this office.
2. Continue to push the economic investment zone bylaw. I don’t believe that many local businesses know about this bylaw or understand how it can help them. I will go door to door to convince local businesses to take advantage of these incentives and invest in our future.
3. Streamline how we do business at City Hall. From talking to job creators, many feel that City Hall is difficult to deal with and it takes too long to get things done. We need to review how the system works and make changes to improve. This will make it easier for them to do what they do best: create jobs.
Poonan Chahal — If I could establish three areas of jobs in Penticton with my power, I would promote entrepreneurship among the youth, as we are one community that relies on local businesses. Second, I would try to promote the idea of a new shopping complex, bringing in many new jobs, with more entertainment for all ages. Lastly, I would try to build a facility for the elders to get more involved in our community, with more interactions between them and the youth.
Frank Conci — The new Okanagan College Centre for Excellence is a huge resource we need to capitalize on. We need to target sustainable building technology companies — geothermal, solar and electric “living” building technology. We need to let these companies know that we have this facility here and let them know we have land available for sale and will offer flexibility in our DCCs for green technology companies.
Second, we need to not forget that we also have some large-scale employers already here and we need to ensure we keep them here. The city has the benefit of its own electrical utility — can we use that to offer economic incentives for companies willing to re-invest in their operations?
Thirdly, the SOEC and Penticton Trade and Convention Centre are assets that are currently underperforming. Currently we have an operator who gets paid regardless of if the centre makes money or not and staff on the payroll year round even with fewer events. No business can run this way and we have to recognize that it is a business.
This is why I believe it is important to have business experience, expertise and a positive attitude to make some much-needed changes. I would like to bring that to council.
Jason Cox — Job creation is a global problem. While the economic recovery is happening here in Canada, we still need to jump-start the job creation process here in Penticton. The labour market is far weaker than it looks. Because of the difficulty the unemployed are having finding new jobs, many people have left the city for other opportunities, leaving holes in our community.
Three specific things I would do to create jobs are:
1. Adequately fund and support the Economic Development Office. The professionals in this department are our best asset for information and our best “salespeople” to attract new industries and help grow existing businesses.
2. Focus on helping existing businesses grow and expand by helping to identify new foreign and domestic markets and assisting to make connections with these markets. This is a strategy I have been personally involved with though Economic Development in recent years and it has been successful.
3. 85% of jobs are created by small business. I would make Penticton more attractive to entrepreneurs by providing specific incentives, support and resources for start-up companies and small businesses that are growing.
David Greenwood — If elected to council, to help create jobs I would do what I could to hasten the building of the secondary access to the PIB land so that construction of new business on the west side of the channel could begin. I would reach out to the tech and film industry and groups such as Accelerate Okanagan, a group focused on attracting and growing the tech industry in the Okanagan.
Wes Hopkin — 1. Continue work to streamline the application and planning process for new developments and creation of a comprehensive building and development guide. I would particularly work to engage important stakeholders and local experts to be involved in the consultation process for such reforms.
2. Engage in a comprehensive review of the official community plan and work on developing a strategic long-term plan to flesh out the vision statement that was composed earlier this year so that developers better understand the regulatory climate in Penticton and can plan their projects accordingly. I would also fight to ensure that council consistently follows that plan, and deviates only in extreme circumstances.
3. Review the city’s marketing strategy to leverage the fundamental advantages of the city as a retirement community which creates demand for well-paying year round jobs to service that population in sectors like health care or finance.
Andrew Jakubeit — To help create jobs, I would continue to push sport and adventure tourism. This is an under-achieved potential with all the amenities, two lakes, four seasons and stunning beauty we have here. While tourism isn’t a high paying industry, it does have residual benefits that create significant dividends as people who get exposed to Penticton often return for another visit, or consider retiring here, starting a business or raising a family.
I think we need to continue to inform developers and property owners and make them aware of our economic investment zones as an incentive to spur on new development. If we can start to get some of our empty lots in high-profile areas developed it will not only have significant economic impact but will create a sense of energy and action that will inspire others to do the same.
I think economic gardening (growing a business from within and locally) has potential and we should be working to develop programs that encourage, nurture and develop local businesses to grow, expand and compete. That also starts with the community embracing the concept of buying locally.
Lynn Kelsey — A. Encourage technology industry and environmentally friendly (green) industry.
B. Advocate for a Living Wage policy in Penticton.
C. Bring support industry for the large shipbuilding contract just received in the province.
D. Foster year round tourism.
Randy Kirkoski — Partner with the high schools/college to hold job fairs to expose the students and residents of Penticton to new business ideas, such as home based business to commercial ventures. By partnering with the high schools and the college, this will give the students and residents the necessary skills to either start a business or to promote their talent to assist current businesses to increase production or sales of their product.
Promote the city for a greater tourism destination by beautifying the city. Promote the outdoors such as the wine industry, Skaha Bluffs, Kettle Valley Trail, lakes and beaches and our natural habitat. This will then create the need for more people to service these sectors.
Promote the amenities that Penticton has to offer to people who are thinking of retiring so that they have an option to make this their new home. An increase in retirees will create jobs to service this industry.
Helena Konanz — A. Council must actively solicit the provincial and federal governments to bring government jobs to Penticton. We have the office space, and these are the best paying and most stable jobs that could come to our community. As a small business owner in Penticton and having worked in the corporate world with Nike, I understand the ups and downs of business. More than anything Penticton needs economic stability year round.
B. Although it’s important to be fiscally responsible in the next three years, we need to eventually expand the industrial area to make room for Penticton companies to grow, and for new, clean businesses to move in. We need to show confidence in our manufacturing and high-tech business. Expansion to the Cantex property would be an obvious next step.
C. Council must spearhead a project to bring a high-speed fibre-optic pipe to the South Okanagan so that high tech businesses can do business here. We have the technology already within our school board and city buildings, but we need to expand that service and share the costs with the other municipalities in our area. This is a project that has been in the works for a decade, and we need to make it happen.
David Korinetz — Offer tax incentives to the right kind of businesses to expand or move to Penticton — basically, high paying jobs that are environmentally friendly. Continue to clear up the permit backlog and push to have something done with those empty lots downtown. The old waterslide lot near Skaha needs to be developed or turned into a park. Revisit the prison option and/or similar options that may arise.
Gary Leaman — 1. Adequately fund and support the office of the economic development officer. This is the front-line for business development and the first point of contact for many prospective businesses/employers. A new contractor has just been chosen by the city for this function. Care must be taken to ensure continuity with prospects and work already in progress. A return to attendance at commercial real estate conventions by the EDO may be advisable. As an aside, my career has me sourcing new retailers for Penticton, and I have personally secured dozens of new businesses to our city, while at Cherry Lane.
2. Develop a unique selling feature. This is will differentiate Penticton from competitive communities. It can be low operating/utility costs, tax incentives, technical /IT opportunities/support, good labour pool, connection to transportation, proximity to market, inexpensive land/leases, an industrial park, proximity to supplies and materials or a combination thereof. We must find a way to stand out from the competition.
3. Target a niche market for development. The manufacturing, distribution, wholesale, retail model is undergoing dramatic change. We must identify and aggressively target operators in a growth industry for which we can successfully compete.
Garry Litke — The use of “mega projects” is not the only method of job creation. We need to start capitalizing on what already exists. Local businesses and manufacturing companies employ many people. If these existing businesses can expand, more jobs are created. Through incentive and regulation a lot can be done to encourage growth. For example, a “wood first” policy in local building construction would assist local wood manufacturers. A smoke control bylaw would assist local wood stove manufacturing by requiring replacement of existing inefficient, polluting wood stoves. The impact of such actions would be significant.
Promotion of the newly created economic investment zones creates jobs as development begins to find Penticton more attractive. The proposal from the Okanagan Hockey School is one example of this approach working. Initially, construction of the seven-storey building creates jobs. When completed, the facility allows OHS to grow, providing jobs for coaches, referees, sports retail, teachers and others who provide service to our hockey community.
A new contract for economic development was recently awarded to a group of motivated and successful local business people. This innovative, exciting model for development is without additional cost and is focused on enhancing economic activity in Penticton.
Kevin Noonan — City council once said they wanted to be the “City of Festivals,” now no one believes they meant it. The first thing that must be done is to actually convince businessmen and entrepreneurs that Penticton really is “open for business” by actively helping people to realize their goals.
The second thing is not just talking about encouraging business in our own community and making contingency plans. We must pick our target markets we want and go to them with our message.
Third item is the ongoing job of attracting four-season tourists. We need tourism to last year round. In the current world climate, we cannot just send out print material that covers Canada in broad strokes. We must again find the distinct markets we want and directly entice them to come and sample Penticton.
Mike Pearce — We have a golden opportunity with the new Centre of Excellence. The young people who graduate from there will need jobs. As a community we need to help the college co-ordinate the graduates with a view to starting some potential new industry in Penticton. Perhaps we can match these needs with some of the money we have here that people need to invest and everyone can make a profit.
Co-operation with the private sector to make working with City Hall and its rules easier. Using city lands where appropriate such as the recent sale to Normar of city lands, which helped them create jobs and the sale of city lots near the SOEC for dormitories, which enhance the Okanagan Hockey School.
We need to push hard to obtain any spin-offs if the corrections facility is built in, say Oliver.
Increase the number of economic incentive zones to give businesses incentive to settle here.
Judy Sentes — City council must do everything possible to nurture and grow economic development. We have created economic zones and implemented incentives but we must be more dedicated in marketing the opportunity of Penticton for business investment. Targeting specific industries compatible to our locale would be my first priority and, I hope, that of our economic office.
John Vassilaki — Creating jobs is always an important issue.
A. Upgrade infrastructure in the downtown core such as water and sewer so that smaller projects will be able to take place. At the present time, parts of Ellis Street, Martin Street and Winnipeg Street do not have water capacity for a four-storey apartment building. South Main Street is in the same predicament with sewer.
B. Partner with private enterprise to build facilities that will be self-sufficient, for example a day and overnight marina by the Sicamous.
C. Make city land available and give incentives to new and present businesses to the industrial area. We need more opportunities in this area to attract new industry with good paying jobs.
Terry Yeatman — Try to attract new business by lowering development costs, make it easier for them to establish new businesses in our area and I think it’s so important to shop locally and get established businesses thriving so they can afford to hire new people.