The 13 candidates for city council finish up their question period from the Salmar Classic stage at the all-candidates forum on Oct. 2. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)

Last chance to learn about the council candidates in Salmon Arm

Each candidate has answered two new questions in addition to their bio and the underpass question.

The Salmon Arm Observer asked the 13 councillor candidates – Kevin Babcock, Aaron Brookes, Debbie Cannon, Chad Eliason, Kevin Flynn, Karmen Krahn, Tim Lavery, Sylvia Lindgren, Wayne Matthews, Mary-Louise McCausland, Jo McDermott, Chris Meikle and Louise Wallace Richmond – to provide a brief bio as well as a 75-word answer to the question: Are you for or against the Ross Street underpass project and why?

Two more questions have now been added. The candidates’ information and answers are listed below, alphabetically.

*****

KEVIN BABCOCK –

Bio:

Kevin Babcock grew up in White Rock and remained in the Lower Mainland until arriving in Salmon Arm 11 years ago, where he enjoys watching his family grow. He has extensive studies through SFU and Okanagan College, and has recently been continuing studies at TRU towards a Bachelor of Philosophy degree. For the past 22 years he has been working steady as part of the labour force – in the railway, aerospace, and currently forestry industries.

Underpass:

I do support the decision to go ahead with the Ross Street underpass. Our city is beginning to grow at an accelerated pace, and now is the right time to make long-term planning for our city. The underpass will not only ease one of today’s traffic flows but, done correctly, it can be a feature of our town as well as the first part of an attractive waterfront vision.

Question 2: What should the city do to address homelessness?

Know them. Respect them. Every person on the street is an individual and every individual has a story. Team up local authors with high school kids and willing homeless participants to write memoirs. All proceeds of book sales go toward homeless services, authors get publishing experience, youth get a personal account to take to their peers about unforeseen circumstances of life (preventing future homelessness), and readers gain more respect towards someone with a name.

Question 3: What do you think is the city’s most pressing need or issue and what is your solution?

The need for a long term vision. Homes, jobs, crime, development, environment; they are all interconnected. If we get overzealous with building mass affordable housing we create new problems. If we know what we want to see for Salmon Arm fifty years from now we can properly and efficiently coordinate our efforts. Creating a niche market (eg. medical imaging or green tech) would enhance interest and purpose for our city.

*****

AARON BROOKES –

Bio:

Aaron Brookes was born and raised in Salmon Arm. After graduating from Salmon Arm Secondary he served in the Royal Canadian Navy for eight years until his medical release. He is now training to become a high school teacher for computer studies. Aaron believes all residents of Salmon Arm should be given the opportunity to succeed.

Underpass:

I am of mixed feelings about the underpass project. The safety requirements from Transport Canada need to be addressed in regards to the railway crossings. However, I am not convinced an underpass is the best option with the recent flooding in our area. As this decision was made by the previous council, I interpret the next council’s mandate to be effective and efficient administration of the referendum response.

Question 2: What should the city do to address homelessness?

My proposal to address homelessness is the creation of a small “village” of tiny houses where anyone in need can live rentfree. This provides people with the opportunity to get back on their feet in a safe and supportive environment. This villagewould be managed by a resident elected from within its own community, with support and oversight by city staff.Criminalizing poverty only results in greater damage to society.

Question 3: What do you think is the city’s most pressing need or issue and what is your solution?

The city’s most pressing issue in my observation is the lack of affordable housing. As the province is unwilling or unable toprovide the necessary services to alleviate this issue, I believe the city must step in and build our own rent controlled housing.I propose the construction of one or more apartment buildings owned by the city, with rent restricted to no more than marketrate or 25% of household income whichever is lower.

*****

DEBBIE CANNON –

Bio:

Debbie grew up in Salmon Arm and graduated in 1984. She and her husband Bruce raised their three girls (Kailey, Robbi and Tessa) in Salmon Arm. Debbie owned a flower shop for 16 years, and later was the floral manager at Safeway. She served three terms on council from 2005-2014 and was appointed to the Interior Health Board from 2015-2017. In her spare time, Debbie enjoys photography, paddling, curling and spending time with her grandchildren.

Underpass:

Yes to the underpass! With Transport Canada implementing new grade crossing regulations, the city will be required to make a large capital investment to upgrade crossings. With the underpass, the city already has grants, reserves and CP funding in place. Yes, we will need to long term borrow (5.3 million) to make up the remaining amount, but with zero tax increase.

Question 2: What should the city do to address homelessness?

The city should know the size of our homeless population and regularly update that number. Council needs to have an open dialogue with our homeless population to better understand what resources are missing and whether existing resources are being accessed. This will involve working closely with agencies in our community such as the Lighthouse, Women’s Shelter, CMHA and church groups. Additionally, the Lighthouse currently opens in November – this opening date needs to be moved up.

Question 3: What do you think is the city’s most pressing need or issue and what is your solution?

I have two: (1) The referendum on the underpass. If it fails to pass, Transport Canada will mandate changes to both crossing as well as a pedestrian overpass to marine park at an unknown cost – be informed www.salmonarm.ca/rsu. (2) The upgrades to the highway west of town and the corridor of the TCH going through town. Council needs to pressure the provincial and federal ministries, as well work with First Nations.

*****

CHAD ELIASON –

Bio:

First elected in 2005, Chad is seeking his 5th term. He has served on countless committees locally, regionally and provincially.

From being a founding member of the Shuswap Trail Alliance to the Union of BC Municipalities Executive, Chad is always advocating for the needs of our community. Chad has championed transit, trails and recycling. Professionally, Chad is a business owner with over a decade of experience in Mortgage Brokering.

Chad enjoys biking, soccer, xc skiing and travel.

Underpass:

I support the underpass. Safety, storm water management and to better access a natural extension of our growing downtown core. All options for traversing the tracks have been examined in depth, including an overpass which has been deemed unfeasible for a variety of reasons. It is a part of our strategic capital plan, comes with no tax increase and still allows us to stay on track for a new pool.

Question 2: What should the city do to address homelessness?

The city needs to work with senior levels of government to take advantage of the current funding to create more affordable housing. This opportunity has not been available for 25 years. We have a local committee that has been working hard on this and we need to support them.

Question 3: What do you think is the city’s most pressing need or issue and what is your solution?

We need to do a better job of communicating with our residents. The City has a well thought out strategic and financial plan for large capital projects. We need to communicate the plan for items like the underpass, pool, parkade and running track so people know what is happening and when.

*****

KEVIN FLYNN –

Bio:

My family (Cathy, Chris, Curtis) have lived in Salmon Arm for 22 years. Both boys now live and work in Salmon Arm. I am a small business owner, Certified Financial Planner and Employee Benefits Specialist. I have been on city council for 13 years (four terms). I am Past President of the Salmon Arm Golf Club and Chamber of Commerce. I have significant governance experience regionally and provincially (MIA, UBCM, SILGA, CSRD). Re-elect positive experience!

Underpass:

I am an unequivocal, enthusiastic, and hopeful Yes! An active transportation link connecting our vibrant downtown to our waterfront assets is an important infrastructure improvement. The underpass has been in our OCP since 1984 and is in both the strategic and longterm financial plans. Proper planning and reserves paid by waterfront development means no anticipated tax increase. This is the right project, in the right place, at the right time.

Question 2: What should the city do to address homelessness?

I feel that the housing task force working with City Council, community groups, investors/developers and Senior levels of government is prepared to improve attainable housing inventory through the whole housing spectrum. A community our size does not have the resources (money, land or expertise) to do this on our own. For the first time in 30 years the Federal and Provincial governments are providing funds. Due to teamwork, we are well positioned.

Question 3: What do you think is the city’s most pressing need or issue and what is your solution?

My priority will be transportation/infrastructure improvements. The lack of progress on the previously approved HWY 1 enhancements and Salmon River bridge , since a government change in Victoria, is inexcusable. I will work with our team to continue to pressure MOTI and the Province. Further, I will encourage the City, Shuswap Trail Alliance, our First Nations neighbors, and senior levels of government to continue the momentum for the West Bay Trail….an awesome alternative transportation link.

*****

KARMEN KRAHN

Bio:

Karmen Krahn holds a masters in ethics and is certified in Applied Behavior Analysis. She brings to the role of councillor many transferable skills including data-driven decision making, collaborative problem solving, and a commitment to authentic consultation. Karmen’s vision for growth includes not only economy and infrastructure, but the inevitable social and intellectual changes that occur as we grow. Karmen is a Behaviour Consultant and lives in Canoe with her partner and two boxers.

Underpass:

I’m answering as a citizen, not a candidate, because on October 20 this question belongs to us all. I will vote in favour of the RSU because I have done my research with a clear set of expectations, and I am satisfied that my criteria are met. It is my hope that all voters do the same. Research. Read both sides. Understand the consequences of not doing it now. Please visit Karmenkrahn.ca.

Question 2: What should the city do to address homelessness?

Not all housing challenges are equal. The trick for a council is knowing where to incentivize and with which money. My opinion matters less than the extraordinary work of the Housing Task Force whose thoroughly-researched recommendations are already before council. Our council is doing what I would have done and that’s build relationships with the province. For more on the framework I typically apply to social problems, please see my webpage at karmenkrahn.ca.

Question 3: What do you think is the city’s most pressing need or issue and what is your solution?

Our “most pressing issue” is not a project but a process. Our most urgent need is proactivity. Our healthy debt ratio (among other things) is the result of proactive councils before us. The hallmarks of reactivity are spending, spin, punishment, and dominance. The hallmarks of proactivity are forethought, collaboration, discipline, and ethics. Not everyone has the skill of proactivity including those who don’t understand Harm Reduction and public education. For more, visit Karmenkrahn.ca.

*****

TIM LAVERY

Bio:

I moved with my wife Nancy Kolkind to Salmon Arm 24 years ago to raise a family and because of the incredible lifestyle that Salmon Arm offers. It’s the best decision we’ve ever made! We have two wonderful young adult daughters.

Four years ago I retired and brought value-added collaborative skills and public sector experience to this current council and hopefully for the next one as well!

See https://timlavery.ca/ for my full re-election campaign platform.

Underpass:

I’ll be voting “Yes.” It’s the best safest multi-modal crossing option now available to us given that our current crossings are not adequate. A “No” vote will represent a significant lost opportunity in light of much higher future costs to build a crossing later. Finally, we’ll be faced with significant costs to improve our existing crossings, much sooner than later, linked to Transport Canada decisions outside of our control. See https://timlavery.ca/ for more information.

Question 2: What should the city do to address homelessness?

There’s a fundamental need to address homelessness and poverty amidst the complex spectrum of affordable housing. Smaller cities like SA don’t have the financial ability to sole-build or operate this type of housing ourselves. We are actively supporting our local housing providers’ applications for recently announced funding and allocating financial contributions to help them work. Further, requests have been submitted for an Outreach worker and having our shelter open year-round. See https://timlavery.ca/ for more information.

Question 3: What do you think is the city’s most pressing need or issue and what is your solution?

“Housing Affordability” and becoming a “FireSmart Community” really stand out on my radar while advocating for the TCH proceeds. Both are significant issues, have been decades in the making and both require immediate starts plus complex long-term planning to get to where we need to be. We’ve started important applications for funding and planning on both. I’m actively involved with both files and I’d continue with these important initial steps. See https://timlavery.ca for more information.

*****

SYLVIA LINDGREN

Bio:

My family has been part of this community for more than 25 years. I have worked in social services, health care, and education and have a wide variety of experience. I want Salmon Arm to be more than just a great place to retire; Salmon Arm can be a great city for our youth and young families as well. I want to focus on affordable housing and family supporting jobs.

Underpass:

The process to develop access to the water front side of town has been slow and not very transparent. I would like to have seen a solution in place by now. I believe the people of Salmon Arm would also have preferred to have more than one viable option on the referendum; however, I will support the decision of the voters.

Question 2: What should the city do to address homelessness?

There are many great examples of how to house the homeless. We need to utilize the strategies these successful models use. Some people are homeless here strictly because they can’t find housing they can afford. We need more rental units and more affordable homes for sale. Some people are homeless because they have social/emotional issues. Providing safe housing will help them access the other supports they need.

Question 3: What do you think is the city’s most pressing need or issue and what is your solution?

Our most pressing issues are housing and jobs. Our vacancy rate is so low that even families who can afford to pay rent sometimes can’t find housing. We can partner with the province to build social housing, reduce development costs and remove barriers to building smaller homes. We can also offer incentives to bring family supporting jobs in technology and green industries.

*****

WAYNE MATTHEWS –

Bio:

I was raised in Salmon Arm, graduated from Jackson High School. I spent 16 years serving Salmon Arm as a member of council, six years as a director of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, 25 years’ business experience in the Salmon Arm area, five years as warehouse manager, four years as heavy equipment operator and two years’ experience in the financial industry. As a councillor, I was instrumental in several large projects including the Shaw Centre.

Underpass:

I try to be careful with opinions, I believe the position of councillor is about listening to people, carefully considering options and seeking the best solution for the community’s needs. Rather than align with a particular agenda, I believe people want their council to listen with the goal of finding reasonable, affordable and sensible solutions. Those solutions may not always align with my opinion but that’s ok. I want what is best for our community.

Question 2: What should the city do to address homelessness?

It’s hard for us to know in the city what homelessness is really like. We can’t afford to build for them. We can’t afford to buy the Downtown Activity Centre and redo it. What we can do is we can feed them and we can do a better job of that. I have talked to two homeless people and this is what they would like: showers, laundry and telephone accessibility.

Question 3: What do you think is the city’s most pressing need or issue and what is your solution?

Most pressing concern in our city is the cost of housing. We should build up not out, ie, condos or apartments. The cost of land won’t change and the cost of development is nearly the same. By building up more families can live on the same footprint as a single family home, so keeping the cost down. The provincial and federal governments needs to look at home owner financing costs, perhaps allowing the interest on morgages to be tax deductable.

*****

MARY-LOUISE MCCAUSLAND

Bio:

Mary-Louise McCausland, former BC Director of Film Classification, helped draft the Motion Picture Act, spoke at international and national conferences, and negotiated agreements with Canada Customs and Saskatchewan. Because of the Act’s impact on business, she created a business advisory group to work with her. She managed the Surrey Crime Prevention Society and has been a board member of the Surrey Board of Trade, Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce, and Shuswap Association of Writers.

Underpass:

I recognize there is need to have a safe crossing option across the railway tracks. Whether the underpass or overpass is the best solution is a moot point given the fact that there is a referendum on the subject and council will be governed by the results.

Question 2: What should the city do to address homelessness?

Homelessness is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach. The city should do a head count of the homelesspeople here. The size of the problem determines the amount of resources required. The city needs to consult and develop partnerships with the organizations and non-profits who are knowledgeable and who can provide services to these people. The city could also consider hiring qualified street workers or support a street worker through the Mental Health Association. The street workers have been key to addressing this problem in other cities and have helped match people with services and housing.

Question 3: What do you think is the city’s most pressing need or issue and what is your solution?

Salmon Arm needs to meet its obligations under the Emergency Program’s Act. The potential for bad storms, floods and forest fires is greater due to climate change. The City needs to examine and update critical infrastructures such as bridges, roads, and, the airport and emergency resources. Our airport needs to be open 24 hours per day. Fire breaks should be built, and forested areas cleaned up. Communities including industrial park organized to help each other.

*****

JO MCDERMOTT

Bio:

Jo McDermott moved to Salmon Arm in 2009. As an active member of the community, Jo has owned her own business and served on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Association and the Shuswap Farm & Craft Market, as well as lending her voice to the Environmental Advocacy Committee. Creating open communication between citizens and their local representatives is one of her top priorities.

Underpass:

• Provided that the city can stay true to their promise of not needing to raise taxes, I cautiously support the underpass project. I have my concerns, as many citizens do, and I would like to see them addressed after the referendum. A ‘Yes’ vote for the referendum is not binding, but it gives us a good chance to iron out further details and guarantee that the city can proceed in a responsible way.

Question 2: What should the city do to address homelessness?

I believe that homelessness has two main contributing factors: a shortage of affordable housing and difficulties in accessing mental health resources. As a city, we can assist in both areas. Addressing zoning issues, creating more basement suites and steering away from luxury retirement developments will continue to help the housing crisis. Supporting our mental health resources financially and by helping create awareness needs to be a city and community priority.’

Question 3: What do you think is the city’s most pressing need or issue and what is your solution?

I believe that there is a disconnect between the residents of Salmon Arm and their representatives. Voter turnout has been on a decline for the last three elections, and people don’t feel as if their voices are being heard. I would like to see our government connect regularly with their constituents by exploring the idea of a ‘Voter Information Initiative’ that would help keep residents informed of the decisions the council faces.

*****

CHRIS MEIKLE

Bio:

Chris moved to Salmon Arm in 2006 to help set up the company ADAM Integrated Industries. Over the following 11 years, Chris took on many key leadership and management roles within ADAM, helping build this new business in Salmon Arm’s Industrial Park.

In 2017, Chris and his wife Jeanette started Idea 64 Projects: a company focused on working at the intersection of fabrication and artistic creativity.

Underpass:

I feel that there could have been a better solution through more consultation with the public on this topic. That being said, if the people of Salmon Arm vote “yes” for the underpass in the referendum, I will support this decision and work hard to make sure it fits the needs of all of our community members.

Question 2: What should the city do to address homelessness?

Homelessness is a complex issue, we are dealing with individuals who are in a terrible position and we are also dealing with our business community who are concerned about their customers. I believe that the way to move forward is to connect with our community agencies who serve the homeless population of Salmon Arm, and to reach out and collaborate with other BC communities who have more experience working towards a solution for this issue.

Question 3: What do you think is the city’s most pressing need or issue and what is your solution?

One the most urgent issues is the need for more affordable housing.

I would work with developers on reducing the development cost and on multifamily homes (example row-houses, apartments, duplexes). As well as look at the provincial funding available for low income housing in BC.

*****

LOUISE WALLACE RICHMOND

Bio:

I am a small business owner, part time business professor and current city councillor living in Canoe with my family. With training in economics and publishing, I have worked with our community’s most innovative businesses and non-profits. I know a healthy, forward-looking and creative economy is key to success. Our talent base and collaborative approach motivates me to seek re-election and further secure Salmon Arm’s future as BC’s most liveable small city.

Underpass:

The need for and design of safe, inclusive access across the tracks has been rigorously studied. This proposal represents the best scenario of many options considered. Currently, the safest way across the tracks is by vehicle. I am supportive of the underpass for its unfettered, walkable access to and from a vibrant and important section of our downtown core including hundreds of residents, businesses, community gathering spaces and trails.

Question 2: What should the city do to address homelessness?

A made in Salmon Arm solution to address entire spectrum from shelter and supportive to rental and affordable ownership (5 year housing strategy by 2019). Continue to approve secondary suites (75+ since 2015), fast-track multi-family (4 fold increase in 2018), increase affordable housing reserve for non-market (established in 2018), convene and connect social and economic partners to identify opportunities (current Housing Taskforce). Ongoing data-based advocacy for Salmon Arm with BC Housing.

Question 3: What do you think is the city’s most pressing need or issue and what is your solution?

We are a growing city with a bright future but face capacity issues. Prudent regional planning to address housing and infrastructure, asset management, recreation and cultural facility expansion, policing, and protective services is essential. As the service hub of the Shuswap (hospital, school district, transit, library, college), we must take a more active leadership role in advocating for the appropriate and fair allocation of provincial and federal resources in collaboration with community partners.


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