After just missing out on a seat in 2018’s municipal election, Isaac Gilbert is back for a second shot.
The BC Parks Ranger received 19.63 per cent of the vote, or 2,093 in the last election.
“My goal is to work with the community to make a city everyone feels happy in, and that everyone move freely and experience in a happy way,” said Gilbert.
With a spot opening up after Coun. Jake Kimberley stepped down to focus on healing after suffering a stroke in 2020, Gilbert sees a second chance to help his city improve.
Over the last three years, Gilbert has spent time working on the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, where he worked with Kimberley as the council liaison and watched substantial changes come to Penticton.
“The biggest thing, especially this year with the pandemic, is fueling where we want to see our city down the road” said Gilbert. “What I mean is, what is going to be our industry that sustains us over time?”
Gilbert pointed to the pandemic’s impact on the city’s tourism industry, and the money lost due to the closure of Cascades Casino, as the clearest signs for how fragile tourism can be, and how it is subject to factors outside the city’s control. He called out climate change leading to exacerbated flooding and wildfires as such factors.
“We need to look at Penticton as a four-seasons town,” said Gilbert.
“I don’t want to see the city rely on one industry. I came from Windsor, Ont. where we relied on manufacturing. When manufacturing went down, the whole city suffered,” said Gilbert.
Government administration, such as the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen offices in Penticton or the Canada Revenue Agency office; health care; and Okanagan College are some of the avenues that Gilbert wants to see promoted and expanded for industries that provide additional funds, or make up for seasonal lulls from tourism in the case of Okanagan College.
City council has made a number of large decisions over the last month, including the rejection of the Vinterra development on Naramata Bench, and the rejection of BC Housing’s request for an extension to the usage of Victory Church for a winter shelter.
While Gilbert found himself agreeing with the decision on Vinterra, considering the suburban sprawl a greater long-term burden on the city than diversifying housing in the city.
He also agreed on council’s call for ensuring that people do actually transition out of being homeless, however he could not agree with them when it came to their shelter decision.
“I’m all for municipalities challenging the province, ” said Gilbert. “To me that decision, across the board, the council has essentially lost their humanity. They don’t see those people as people, they see them as pawns to get back at the Province of British Columbia.
This time around, Gilbert is much more confident in his chances at being elected. In 2018 he said he had basically run his campaign on his own, while he has now built up a support network, as well as put together a complete platform to run on.
That platform includes making sure city contracts are required for the recipient to pay employees a living wage, pointing to cities with that policy including New Westminster and Vancouver; and working with the province to build more housing and to explore the city starting a land trust to purchase land for housing to be built on.
The date of the by-election has not yet been announced. The City of Penticton has not yet selected the Chief Election Officer to oversee the by-election. That selection is expected to occur this month, according to the press release that was issued when Kimberley resigned.
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