KARI L GARES
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?
Housing Agreement: If elected, I would support the current policy of using municipal land, under
a housing agreement, to non-profit agencies, for the purpose of supporting an affordable
housing arrangement. With regards to the waiver of DCC charges, this is one way in which to
support a housing initiative, but the City can also partner with developers to sell back units at a
reduced cost to the non-profit Agency. This model has already worked well with other projects
with such organizations like the Vernon District Land Trust.
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?
The issue that we are experiencing with affordability is the fact that Vernon has limited housing
stock as well as limited land for expansion. Vernon has a considerable percentage of housing
stock that is in the single family detached unit. Under Vernon’s Attainable Housing Strategy, it
has been determined that Vernon must invest in high density, multi unit development units to
fill the gaps of what is deemed a lack of housing stock. It is imperative that Vernon continue its
initiative of working closely with non-profit organizations such as the Vernon District Land Trust,
CMHA and Interior Health.
Not only should Vernon continue to partner with such organizations, they also need to focus on
other initiatives such as infill developments, mixed use developments that supply smaller units such as apartments/condos and townhome developments.
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?
Although Canada has seen a relative uptick in births since 2002, our aging population base
(those over 65) represents 24.6% (from StatsCan) of Vernon’s overall population. This is a
relatively higher percentage when compared with our younger age group (15 years and
younger) who makes up only 14.8% of our population. This is where immigration assists with
our population growth and allows our community to become economically sustainable over
time, but it is important that the Canadian Government implement a strategy that ensures we
are attracting skilled workers who are essential to local economic developments. Based on the
stats, 47% of Vernon’s population do not have education or training beyond high school which is
why it’s imperative we attract skilled workers through the process of immigration. As suggested
by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Canadian Government must build on these
gains by “developing a more comprehensive, cross-departmental, intergovernmental strategy
that measures and supports immigrant’s access to the basic infrastructure and services they
need to succeed”. And it is here that Vernon has been shouldering much of the cost as there is
little to no reliance or money transfer from the other levels of Government to meet the needs of
a growing immigration policy. Local municipalities must shoulder the burden of the municipal
infrastructure deficit and rely on an out-of-date and regressive property tax system, local
governments must dig deeper to meet the growing demand of services essential to the effective
integration of immigrants. These include affordable housing, public transit, child care and library
services. This requires a comprehensive immigrant settlement program and funding specific to
integrate this group. Vernon can also partner with other non-profit organizations, church
groups and families that can support a solid immigration policy. For the City to attract highly
skilled immigrant workers, it is imperative that the city review its affordable housing policies so
that we can meet the demands of a growing population. Vernon must also ensure that the
integration services required for adjustment such as schooling, English as a 2 nd language,
healthcare and services is in place to promote healthy integration. This leads us to the next
IF YOU ARE ELECTED, WILL YOU CONTINUE THE POLICY OF PROVIDING FREE BUS PASSES FOR REFUGEES IN THEIR FIRST YEAR?
Do I support the policy of offering free bus passes for refugees in their first year? Absolutely.
The cost to Vernon u minimal and it does provide mobility options to many who have yet to
secure a means of personal transportation. By ensuring that these newcomers have a means to
get to work, or to school, we are, in essence, helping them adjust to their new surroundings
faster, I understand that some feel that we are supporting one group over that of another but
the bottom line is the faster we can integrate the, the better it is financially on a community that
should be supporting them.
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?
As mentioned previously, the City of Vernon needs to concentrate its development on finding a
solution to fix our housing stock shortage. This requires more infill development, with a higher
degree of concentration on mixed-use and high-density construction. Not only does this type of
development assist with the immediate need in housing affordability, it’s also less expensive in
building up then it is to build out. It also reduces further stress on our urban infrastructure
needs such as transportation, roads, water and sewer. With that said, there are certain areas
within Vernon that are deemed greenfield areas. Some of these areas offer zero support of
agriculture or parkland use. It is important that the City of Vernon is constantly reviewing and
adjusting their OCP as it reflects the needs of the community.
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)?
Vernon’s Master Transportation Plan is a key tool that is now addressing the needs of many
residents who rather put an emphasis on alternate transportation opportunities. Of course, we
must also realize that it is not reasonable to assume that everyone has an opportunity to take
advantage of these alternate forms of transportation: walking, cycling, transit and carpooling.
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).
The BC Energy Step Code is a voluntary provincial standard enacted in April 2017 that provides
an incremental and consistent approach to achieving more energy-efficient buildings that go
beyond the requirements of the base BC Building Code. It does so by establishing a series of
measurable, performance-based energy-efficiency requirements for construction that builders
can choose to build to, and communities may voluntarily choose to adopt in bylaws and policies.
It’s a single provincial standard that replaces the patchwork of different green building
standards. This will allow local governments to continue to play a leadership role in improving
energy efficiency, while providing a single standard for industry and build capacity over time.
The challenge with the City of Vernon implementing this as it stands, it could limit options for
builders and developers who are looking to construct more affordable housing options. If the
policy is implemented across the board with little regard to certain conditions, then we could
limit options, increase cost for developers & builders, and have further reduction on housing
stock. There are several key findings in the BC Housing 2017 Metrics report that show when
these strategies should be implemented to improve efficiencies in building practices and to
improve energy standards: it is generally easier and more cost-effective to meet BC Energy Step
Code requirements in simple buildings that share common walls—such as townhomes and
apartments. When it comes to energy efficiency, building shape and orientation impact cost. A
south-facing home with modest window areas and compact building form will be more cost
effective in achieving higher performance than a complicated building with many windows
looking north. As industry gains experience with energy efficient construction practices—and
energy-efficient products become more readily available—cost premiums will decrease. A clear
timeline with extra time allowed for implementation of higher steps will help industry to get
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?
I have always been a firm believer that building an Identity forged from arts and culture is
essential in building a strong and diverse community that drives economic sustainability. There
was a report done for the City of Kelowna that spoke to benefits of building a strong identity
centred around arts and culture, and one way to do this was to build the infrastructure needed
to enhance this development. So yes, the new Arts and Culture Centre is a great step in the
right direction to building another foundation support in a growing community base. Aside from
this, I believe the City is finally acknowledging the economic impact that a culturally diverse
community will have on the broader development for a sustainable society. “Participation in the
arts has a beneficial social impact. Arts are inclusive and can contribute to neighbourhood
renewal. They can build confidence and encourage strong community groups... and make a real
difference to health, crime, employment, and education in deprived communities.” The
outcome… is an action plan… to ensure that the arts maximize their contribution towards
reducing social exclusion and contributing towards neighbourhood renewal.
WILL YOU VOTE ‘YES’ IN THE OCT 20 GREATER VERNON REFERENDUM ON BORROWING UP TO $25 MILLION FOR THE PURPOSE OF CONSTRUCTING A NEW CULTURAL CENTRE IN DOWNTOWN VERNON?
As mentioned in the previous, building a strong economic foundation in a community can take
time. There are many social and economic facets that a civic government must employ to get it
right. Arts and Culture is one of those areas that a strong and diverse community must instill.
Kelowna created their arts and culture hub in their downtown core decades ago which has now
helped transform the shape and feel of that area and of their community. There’s a feel that
none of us can deny when walking on Waterstreet. But to show their citizens how powerful this
change has been, they prepared an economic assessment report (UBCO) which outlined the
economic benefits of investing in the people for the decade prior. When looking at the direct
cost it’s equally important to look at the indirect benefits - the development of a “strong and
vibrant community that builds economic opportunity.” So yes I fully support the borrowing up to
$25 million for the purpose of building a new Arts and Culture Centre. It is also important to
keep in mind that this doesn’t mean the City will need this much, there are opportunities for
grant dollars and other outside investment that could assist with the construction of this
complex thus reducing the direct cost associated with this development.
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?
Vernon has a land issue in the sense that we are limited in our land availability options when it
comes to Industrial or Commercial land uses. Due to this, there’s a requirement to partner with
other areas for further development initiatives which is the primary reason for the partnership
between the City of Vernon and RDNO. This partnership is called the Regional Employment
Lands Action Plan which helps increase regional economic growth, employment opportunities
and prosperity through collaboration with partnering areas to improve the competitiveness in
the marketplace. One of the challenges that Vernon and surrounding areas has when trying to
attract new business, both commercial and industrial, is to ensure that the impression of in-
fighting amongst the many local areas is minimized.
PROVIDE AN EXAMPLE OF THE WAYS YOU WOULD SUPPORT BUSINESS RETENTION AND EXPANSION IN THE CITY?
The best way to support business retention and expansion within the city is to make the
business atmosphere as attractive as possible for outside investment. We need to attract, not
only businesses, but a community that can support growth with the appropriate amount of
infrastructure, amenities and services. As mentioned in previous, to attract businesses, the City
of Vernon must do more to improve housing affordability, social inclusivity and planning, urban
development and infrastructure improvements. See question 13.
OVER 40% OF BUSINESSES IN EVERY SECTOR ARE EXPERIENCING LABOUR AND SKILL SHORTAGES. HOW SHOULD THE CITY SUPPORT OUR DEMANDING WORKFORCE NEEDS?
Each city has different economic requirements and faces different issues when it comes to
developing their labor market. One way they can adjust for this is by implementing a skills
forecasting initiative, that many local governments are utilizing, that would reflect the local
needs and context to ensure that the workforce is suitably skilled to meet economic demand.
Skills forecasting not only involves collecting and analyzing data but also requires a dialogue
with employers to collect qualitative information that a tool cannot produce. As such, skills
forecasting can help establish and develop positive relationships between the municipality and
local employers. It shows the municipality is committed to supporting the private sector to fill
the skills gap locally which benefits both the local economy and population. It also requires
engaging with education providers to understand the current local training and education
provision as well as future plans in terms of new courses or training. Skills forecasting will also
highlight any mismatch between employer need and the take up of courses by students, which
can be a useful tool to help young people identify the careers that are likely to lead to
employment opportunities locally. Finally, skills forecasting at city level will help foster dialogue
and build bridges between local businesses and educational institutions. The analysis of the
results of skills forecasts will provide both quantitative and qualitative evidence that will help
influence local skills and training provision, enabling education providers to respond more
adequately and effectively to business needs.
HOW SHOULD THE CITY SUPPORT EMERGING SECTORS SUCH AS CANNABIS, TECHNOLOGY AND ENHANCED MANUFACTURING (IE. LARGE SCALE BUSINESSES THAT MANUFACTURE PRODUCTS FOR SEVERAL COMPANIES IN ONE LOCATION, SUCH AS ELECTRONIC PRODUCTS FOR THE MILITARY OF HOSPITALS)
The best way to support emerging sectors such as cannabis would be to ensure that it is
regulated. Until the full scope of the new regulated rules and policies are established by the
provincial government, the local governments can start to engage in the discussion to set the
perimeters of how they will deal with the new reality of the cannabis industry. In addition to
the cannabis industry, Vernon should be making every effort to attract another industry that has
been growing substantially – the tech industry. People are attracted to great places with a
variety of neighborhoods, amenities, and transportation choices. People may be willing to
accept a lower salary to live in a community that offers these qualities. However, affordability is
an issue so Vernon must continue to follow through with its Affordability Housing Plan. One
way to address this issue is through revitalization of our downtown core, main streets and core.
Many communities have developed revitalization programs to improve the function and image
of distressed, degraded or underutilized areas. The ultimate goal is to support economic
resurgence and to catalyze new investment and economic activity in those areas. Revitalization
efforts are common in downtowns and main street districts, as well distressed commercial
corridors and transitioning neighborhoods or areas. The practice of placemaking, which focuses
on creating attractive, functional and enjoyable public spaces, is gaining traction in economic
development circles as well. Intended to serve as a community driven approach to the planning,
design and management of public spaces, place making uses a wide range of tactics – from
improved street design to public art to the programming of events – that aim to create
appealing and authentic places that can attract people and activity and provide a strong “sense
of place.” Creating a community with character, amenities and quality of life to attract would-
be entrepreneurs deserves greater recognition in local economic development efforts.
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?
To ensure our seniors remain independent and engaged within the community; and to lead
healthy and active lives; have access to person-centered, high-quality, integrated care close to
home; and that their in- formal caregivers such as family and friends are acknowledged and
supported – local governments must ensure that they establish a comprehensive plan to assist
our most vulnerable. (Institute for Research on Public Policy, 2015) In addition to the provision
of appropriate housing, greater attention is required in such key areas as health and support
services, age-friendly design of our communities and physical environments, social and
recreational programming, and creating a sense of community that supports older adults and
their circle of care. Limited housing and transportation initiatives, along with fewer health, social
and community support service options, our senior community can be at q higher risk of social
isolation and poorer health status. As a level of government, municipalities are financially stable,
open and transparent organizations, with longstanding and far-reaching partnerships, and are
the vanguard of services that benefit older adults including affordable housing, financial
assistance, transportation, planning, physical infrastructure, long-term care and community
health. By working in collaboration with other levels of government, service providers and
community stakeholders, municipal governments are already targeting initiatives that support
age-friendly community planning. These include important strategies such as: retrofitting homes
to improve accessibility; sustaining investment in subsidized housing; supporting the delivery of
affordable rental housing; investing in accessible, and convenient public and active
transportation; and creating accessible streets and trail systems.
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 NEIGHBORHOODS, THE DOWNTOWN CORE, AND TO THE RECREATION CENTER.
· 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?
Healthy community design has been demonstrated to support health objectives, including
facilitating physical activity, reducing injury risks for pedestrians and cyclists, and improving
public safety and perceptions of safety. Community design alone may not make more active
living the most prevalent choice for individuals. Changes to the built environment might need to
be supported by communications and education programs to help shift the societal values that
are associated with the daily choices people make about where to live, how to get around, and
personal health. Exploring different modes of active transportation can enhance one’s mental
outlook and well-being, improve self-image, social relationships and increase self-reliance by
instilling a sense of independence and freedom. A recent report from the World Health
Organization (WHO) concluded that a significant shift from private motorized vehicles to
walking, cycling and public transit could also reduce: cardiovascular and respiratory disease
caused by air pollution; traffic-related injuries; noise and noise-related stress; and chronic
diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancers that are associated with physical
inactivity. Aside from being popular recreational activities, walking and cycling are also efficient,
affordable, environmentally-friendly and accessible means of transportation. The wider benefits
of walking, cycling and other active transportation modes include: reduced road congestion and
greenhouse gas emissions; cheaper infrastructure, including lower maintenance costs; road
safety improvements; and lower user costs compared to motorized vehicles (NCCEH, 2010). A
study published by Go for Green in March of 2004 establishes a convincing business case for
active transportation in the report entitled ‘The Economic Benefits of Walking and Cycling’
(BEST, 2004). These benefits include reductions in: road construction, repair and maintenance
costs; costs due to air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions; long-term health care costs;
fuel, repair and maintenance costs to users; collision-related expenses; and lost productivity due
to traffic congestion. Integration with land use planning, encourage desirable land use form and
design (e.g. compact, mixed-use, pedestrian/bike-friendly) through transportation plan policies.
The Municipal Act, 2001 provides municipalities with broad flexibility to deal with local
circumstances and to react quickly to local, economic, environmental or social changes. It
recognizes municipalities as responsible, accountable governments with respect to matters
within their jurisdiction. The Act provides policies relating to a municipality’s jurisdiction over
municipal highways and the maintenance of those highways, which has an impact on cycling.
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?
Sections 8(3)(j) and 9(1)(b) of the Community Charter enable municipal governments to regulate
pesticides concurrently with the BC government. Under this authority, local governments have
innovated and led the way on this issue. Currently, there are approximately 28 municipal bylaws
restricting pesticide use in BC. Municipal bylaws are important because they reflect local values
with respect to cosmetic pesticide use and add an additional level of enforcement to pesticide
bans. Banning the use of pesticides for non-essential cosmetic use by Vernon would be,
essentially, ineffective if the Provincial Government doesn’t implement a full legislative ban
regulating the sale and purchase of pesticides for personal use. It’s clear that pesticides can
have a negative impact on both the environment and on health, but there is a real concern that
a full out ban could hinder the agricultural community which can have a negative impact on the
functionality and operation of some major operators. So, there would need to be some clear
define rules around personal use and that of agricultural or commercial use. The use of
pesticides should be restricted on city-controlled lands, parks, and greenspaces where children
frequent in hopes of reducing health related issues and diseases that are associated with its