The following is part of Penticton Western News coverage of the 2022 municipal election.
Mayoral candidates were asked to provide a short bio about themselves, and then respond to three questions concerning key issues for Penticton residents and voters.
The questions were the following:
1. What are your solutions to housing supply and affordability in Penticton?
2. What are tangible things the city can do to improve public safety?
3. Are you satisfied with how the bike lane was implemented and would you support expanding the bike lane network?
Every candidate was given the same limitations in the size of their bio and responses, as well as the timeline in which to provide them. Candidates were allowed to decide how they wished to distribute their words. Here are the answers from mayoral candidate Julius Bloomfield:
Julius Bloomfield is a well-known Penticton realtor who has worked in the industry for more than three decades. During that time, he has owned and managed a real estate office, which he sold in 2008. Since then has continued to work as a realtor and dedicate time to being on the city council.
He has competed in Ironman Canada twice, completing the full distance both times and has also competed in long-distance horse racing. He is a past president of the Downtown Penticton (Business Improvement) Association, and a founding member of the Penticton Urban Agriculture Association.
1. Housing supply and affordability in Penticton
The ‘working homeless’ is a growing concern for us and it is stretching the services provided by the provincial and federal governments to the breaking point, resulting in a sense of desperation for those caught in this dilemma.
Some of the actions we can look at:
* Creating options for large commercial property owners to move to residential and mixed commercial residential use.
* Utilizing city-owned vacant real estate for affordable housing solutions. We need to explore the options for these lands and use them in partnering with other levels of government to provide much-needed affordable housing.
* Streamline the approval process for affordable housing development proposals.
* Create a grant system for first-time home buyers to help with their purchase costs.
2. Public Safety
We have to focus on the root cause of petty crime in the city. The drugs today are far more deadly than the drugs of 15-20 years ago, and using 20th-century solutions to these 21st-century problems will not work. The city has started to look for answers, but this process needs to be much quicker.
* We need to have a plan to bring services and actions that will help the RCMP do their job more effectively.
* We need to concentrate efforts on addiction services to include intervention and stabilization, which will allow those individuals caught in a downward spiral of addiction to make some lasting choices towards a road to recovery.
* We need a car 40 program whereby a mental health professional can assist RCMP officers on wellness checks.
* We need a similar system to a car 40 program for emergency calls by our fire department.
* We need to keep the pressure on the provincial government to find alternative solutions to help the addicts that are using crime to fund their habits.
3. Bike Lanes
I was surprised by the size of the bike lanes, and I think we can make them more attractive and perhaps get some of the signs taken down. However, the concept of a Lake-to-Lake bike path is a great addition to the city facilities and is a form of economic development as it attracts new people recognizing it is a great place to live.