©2018 by Vernon Candidate Questions.

GORD M LEIGHTON

 

QUESTIONS - SOCIAL

IF ELECTED, WOULD YOU SUPPORT THE CURRENT PRACTICE OF PROVIDING MUNICIPAL LAND (UNDER A HOUSING AGREEMENT) AND WAIVING DEVELOPMENT COST CHARGES TO NON-PROFIT AFFORDABLE HOUSING AGENCIES WHO ARE SEEKING TO CONSTRUCT NEW HOUSING PROJECTS?

Yes. Affordable housing is paramount for the continued development of the North Okanagan as a
vibrant, healthy community.

DO YOU SUPPORT THE IDEA THAT HIGH-DENSITY, COMPACT HOUSING IS ANOTHER IMPORTANT WAY TO ADDRESS AFFORDABLE/ATTAINABLE HOUSING? IF NOT, WHAT SOLUTIONS DO YOU PROPOSE TO ADDRESS AFFORDABILITY?

Yes. I agree that high-density, compact housing is an important option for affordable/attainable

housing, including options for tiny houses and laneway access secondary homes; reducing red tape
for secondary suites; deferrals of property taxes for new affordable housing.


​There are complementary strategies and policies which should be considered as well, including
reduced parking requirements for apartment and condo developments, which will allow developers
to optimize land utilization.

VERNON IS ANTICIPATED TO EXPERIENCE INCREASED IMMIGRATION FROM ELSEWHERE IN THE PROVINCE AND COUNTRY AS WELL AS OTHER COUNTRIES. DO YOU SUPPORT THESE DIFFERENT LEVELS OF IMMIGRATION AND IF SO, HOW WOULD YOU FACILITATE NEW IMMIGRANTS’ INTEGRATION INTO THE COMMUNITY?

Inter-provincial migration and intra-provincial migration is nothing new. The region has absorbed
the inflow-outflow of Canadian migrants for years. The churn has been as high as 40-50% over some
five year periods and aside from disparities in housing affordability, this has not been an issue.


Facilitating the integration of immigrants from other countries is the foundation of the support
Canadians offer newcomers. In Canada, no one attempts to alter the core identity of an individual or
group, and our nation is comfortable with that. Citizenship rates are high, and immigrants find
satisfaction with life in Canada.

Almost half of newcomers to Canada have a college degree and the second generation is more likely
to attend a university than those whose parents are native-born.

IF YOU ARE ELECTED, WILL YOU CONTINUE THE POLICY OF PROVIDING FREE BUS PASSES FOR REFUGEES IN THEIR FIRST YEAR?

Yes. We should provide passes as well for the Rec Centre.

 

QUESTIONS - ENVIRONMENTAL

IF ELECTED, WILL YOU SUPPORT THE CITY'S GROWTH STRATEGY AND LAND USE PLAN, AS CONTAINED IN THE
OFFICIAL COMMUNITY PLAN 2013 BYLAW 5470, OR WOULD YOU OPEN UP GREENFIELD AREAS FOR

DEVELOPMENT?

Yes. I do not favour opening up greenfield areas for development. The City should be focused on in-
fill opportunities, consistent with the OCP.

IF ELECTED, WILL YOU SUPPORT THE CITY'S ADOPTED MASTER TRANSPORTATION PLAN, WITH ITS EMPHASIS ON
MORE TRIPS TO BE MADE BY WALKING, CYCLING, TRANSIT AND CARPOOLING (COLLECTIVELY KNOWN AS
ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTATION) INSTEAD OF IN A SINGLE OCCUPANT VEHICLE (SOV)?

Yes. Improvements to Public Transit, including the installation of more benches and shelters and in
better maintenance of transit stops will increase the attractiveness of public transit. Winter
maintenance is particularly important for seniors and persons with mobility challenges.

DO YOU SUPPORT DEVELOPING BYLAWS THAT REQUIRE BUILDERS TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE BC
ENERGY STEP CODE (A SINGLE PROVINCIAL STANDARD FOR ACHIEVING MORE ENERGY-EFFICIENT BUILDINGS).

In principle, yes. However, we must be careful of the law of unintended consequences. While a
province-wide code makes good sense, we must be sure we do not develop new bylaws that may be
in conflict with affordable housing objectives.

 

QUESTIONS  - CULTURAL

DO YOU SEE ARTS AND CULTURE AS HAVING AN ACTIVE ROLE IN MAKING VERNON A MORE DESIRABLE PLACE TO LIVE, IN
BUILDING COMMUNITY, AND AS AN ECONOMIC DRIVER? IF SO, HOW DO YOU PLAN TO SUPPORT IT IN THE FUTURE?

Yes, absolutely! A vibrant arts community will significantly enhance our ability to attract economic

development, migration to Vernon as a place to live and play and to recruit skilled workers and

professionals in health care, education and technology.

Arts and Culture initiatives are limited only by our imagination and should be part of our economic
development plans. Greater Vernon is an ideal community in which to nurture enhanced education
opportunities for music, art and design, theatre, film and emerging digital technologies.

At a personal level, I am committed to securing a license from the CRTC for the establishment of a
new not-for-profit FM community radio station, which will present an opportunity to showcase local
singer-songwriters and to present a variety of music from genres not now available on over-the-air
radio station.

WILL YOU VOTE ‘YES’ IN THE OCTOBER 20 GREATER VERNON REFERENDUM ON BORROWING UP TO $25 MILLION FOR
THE PURPOSE OF CONSTRUCTING A NEW CULTURAL CENTRE IN DOWNTOWN VERNON?

Yes. This is an exciting project, worthy of strong community support.

 

QUESTIONS - ECONOMIC

IF YOU ARE ELECTED, HOW WILL YOU PARTNER WITH OTHER COMMUNITIES IN THE REGION TO SUPPORT ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT; AND WHICH INITIATIVES HIGHLIGHTED IN THE REGIONAL EMPLOYMENT LANDS ACTION PLAN INTEREST
YOU MOST, AND WHY?

Partnerships with other communities in the region will be imperative for the entire region. We are
very limited in available land for industrial development.

My primary interests? Establishment of a Rural Economic Development Function and improved
marketing and promotion of lands – and resources. Economic development will not be optimized in
the region without robust resources, strong community partnerships and an effective strategy to sell
opportunities to investors and developers.

PROVIDE EXAMPLES OF THE WAYS YOU WOULD SUPPORT BUSINESS RETENTION AND EXPANSION IN THE CITY?

The City of Vernon must pay attention to the health and well-being of our business community. I
characterize this as customer service. I fear that a culture of indifference and on occasion,
arrogance, has emerged in the culture of our elected representatives and in some areas of
administration with regard to business concerns. We have seen altercations between business
owners and bylaw officers; some business owners have endured severe economic hardship as a
consequence of poor planning and communication regarding infrastructure projects. As a result,
Vernon’s reputation as a business-friendly city has been tarnished. Sadly, there have been instances
where entrepreneurs have simply given up, sold their assets and left town.


There are a number of remedies to restore some sparkle and removes the tarnish. Tops on my list is
to nurture a culture of Kaizen (continuous improvement) through customer service training for
administration and some departments in the city, such as bylaw enforcement. During my time in
Prince George, I attended a formal customer service training program at the Banff School of
Management. Several senior staff members from the City of Prince George were enrolled in the
program. I asked the then City Manager, George Paul, why the interest in customer service. His
answer made perfect sense. He said, “Gord, in your business if a customer is unhappy, they can take
their business elsewhere. In the city, unhappy customers simply keep phoning”.

​A companion remedy is to strengthen dialogue between the city and stakeholder organizations such
as the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce and the DVA. All we need to do is ask for their
feedback. “How are we doing?” “What can we do better?” “What is keeping your members awake
at night?”

OVER 40% OF BUSINESSES IN EVERY SECTOR ARE EXPERIENCING LABOUR AND SKILL SHORTAGES. HOW SHOULD
THE CITY SUPPORT OUR DEMANDING WORKFORCE NEEDS?

Recruitment and retention of skilled labour will continue to be a problem, likely indefinitely. As baby
boomers retire, shortages will accelerate, placing strain and limitations to our growth. The City of
Vernon itself is experiencing this problem right now.

Recruitment is the key. The City and RDNO should collaborate on a recruitment strategy that
business, industry and governments can use and perhaps customize for their own recruitment
efforts. A myriad of options are available, such as a robust interactive recruitment website,
collateral marketing materials such as brochures, audio-video elements that recruiters can utilize to
sell the amenities of the region, etc. We have a rich, diversified, attractive story to lure newcomers.
We simply have to sell our sizzle.

HOW SHOULD THE CITY SUPPORT EMERGING SECTORS SUCH AS CANNABIS, TECHNOLOGY AND ENHANCED
MANUFACTURING (I.E. LARGE SCALE BUSINESSES THAT MANUFACTURE PRODUCTS FOR SEVERAL COMPANIES IN ONE
LOCATION, SUCH AS ELECTRONIC PRODUCTS FOR THE MILITARY OR HOSPITALS)?

Marketing Greater Vernon as a destination for emerging sectors requires a highly focused and
targeted approach. If we pay attention to opportunities at the global level, we can identify
targets worthy of exploring. In Nanaimo, for example, a cannabis enterprise is negotiating with
Coca-Cola to explore possibilities of cannabis non-THC extracts as ingredients in new beverages.
Is there opportunity for businesses in our agricultural sector to develop cannabis edibles?


Kelowna Aerospace is now the largest employer in Kelowna, with more workers than in health
care or education.

As a stable geographic region with little seismic activity, the Okanagan Valley can become a
major information storage data shed for companies world-wide. IBM preferred Kelowna over
other Western Canadian and North American locations because of its climate and seismic
conditions and was proposing to build a 100 million dollar Giga Centre there, one of the largest
data centre projects in the world.


 

QUESTIONS - HEALTH

GIVEN THAT VERNON’S OVER 65 POPULATION IS AT 25% (HIGHER THAN THE NATIONAL AVERAGE OF 16.9%), THAT
CHRONIC DISEASES ARE ON THE RISE AND INCREASE WITH AGE, AND THAT SOCIAL ISOLATION IS MORE PREVALENT
IN OUR SENIORS,


IF ELECTED, HOW WILL YOU SUPPORT INFRASTRUCTURE AND PROGRAMMING TO IMPROVE HEALTH
AND REDUCE ISOLATION FOR OUR SENIOR POPULATION AND THOSE WITH CHRONIC DISEASES, AS DESCRIBED IN THE
DRAFT RECREATION MASTER PLAN?

I will support a thorough needs assessment for seniors.

I do not know the extent of subsidies or fee discounts available to seniors. I support a
review of fees and charges, to establish the lowest possible rates for seniors on a fixed
income.

Eliminate participation barriers and conduct accessibility assessments on existing
facilities.

THE 2018 CANADIAN PARTICIPACTION REPORT CARD WAS RELEASED WHICH IDENTIFIED THAT 91% OF CHILDREN
AGES 5-17 DO NOT MEET MINIMAL PHYSICAL ACTIVITY GUIDELINES FOR HEALTH. IN CONSULTATION WITH PARENT
ADVISORY COUNCILS, LACK OF SAFE AND CONNECTED BICYCLING AND WALKING CORRIDORS FOR CHILDREN HAVE
BEEN IDENTIFIED AS THE MAIN BARRIER. VERNON HAS BEEN DEVELOPING SEPARATE ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION
CORRIDORS THROUGHOUT THE CITY BUT THERE ARE GAPS IN CONNECTIONS WITH NEIGHBOURHOODS, THE
DOWNTOWN CORE, AND TO THE RECREATION CENTRE.


IF ELECTED, HOW WILL YOU PROMOTE AN INTEGRATED AND

CONNECTED ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION NETWORK SO ALL USERS FROM 8 TO 80 CAN FEEL SAFE WHEN TRAVELLING BY
NON-MOTORIZED TRANSPORTATION?

While I respect the opinions of Parent Advisory Councils that the lack of safe and connected
corridors for children is a barrier, I am not persuaded that there is a strong correlation between
walking/cycling corridors and the findings of the Participaction report card on children’s physical
activities.


Improvements to corridors or even the complete elimination of corridor barriers is unlikely to
materially change the status of physical fitness of our children.


There is not a great deal the City can do to change behaviors of our citizens. Parenting and school
curricula are more obvious solutions.

​I do agree that the City should consider additional facilities for children and youth activities,
including new swimming pool(s) and skateboard parks.



DUE TO CONCERNS ABOUT ADVERSE HEALTH RISKS OF USING PESTICIDES FOR COSMETIC PURPOSES, THE
CANADIAN CANCER SOCIETY HAS RELEASED A POSITION STATEMENT URGING MUNICIPALITIES TO BAN THE USE OF
THESE CHEMICALS. THERE ARE CURRENTLY 40 MUNICIPALITIES IN BC WHICH HAVE BANNED PESTICIDES FOR NON-
ESSENTIAL PURPOSES.


IF ELECTED, WHAT IS YOUR STANCE ON PESTICIDE USE FOR NON-ESSENTIAL PURPOSES IN
AREAS WHERE CHILDREN AND PETS ARE AT RISK?

I support the City of Vernon’s existing policy, which calls for pesticide use only for essential
purposes. Noxious, invasive species and weeds that are harmful or destructive to infrastructure are
best managed by licensed professionals.

It is important to note The Society’s call for restrictions on pesticide use does not apply to their
application in agriculture to grow food, using pesticides to ensure public health and safety, or using
pesticides to prevent environmental damage.