Vernon’s mayoralty hopefuls all have ambitious plans if they top the polls Nov. 15.
All five candidates were asked what they hope to achieve if they are elected to a four-year term during a forum hosted by the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Home Builders Association at Predator Ridge Resort Tuesday.
“It would be fantastic if we had a sense of excitement about Vernon among those here and those who want to be here,” Victor Cumming told the crowd of about 90 people.
For Akbal Mund, he wants to focus on growth.
“More parks in the community. We need places for our kids to play. We need growth in the resort communities because they bring tourists here,” he said.
Klaus Tribes insists his goal is to be responsive to the public’s needs.
“I’d love to look back and say, ‘We’ve provided for residents and done a good job,’” he said.
A priority for Jamie Morrow is downtown.
“Downtown is the heart beat of the city. We need a more active downtown. People living downtown feeds out businesses,” he said.
Mary-Jo O’Keefe says a four-year-term would be dedicated to bolstering the economy so there is revenue for infrastructure and cultural enhancements.
“I’d like to create a positive business climate and start to address the dreams we have in the city,” she said.
The candidates were also asked what the city’s role is in ensuring the labour market is healthy.
“Most of it is in partnerships. I have knowledge and experience with various levels of government,” said O’Keefe, who owns MJO Tours.
“I can put people together that can help communities access training.”
Mund, a former Wendy’s owner, says training skilled labourers isn’t enough.
“We need jobs for them here. How we do we get growth here? It comes from working with developers,” he said.
Morrow is a recruiter for Okanagan College.
“We have the training and people here and I have the relationships with the college,” he said.
Cumming, an economist, believes the city can be proactive in promoting a viable workforce.
“We can do and do skill worker recruitment and link the business community to those trying to come here,” he said.
Tribes, a retired restaurant owner, says the key to a skilled workforce is economic development.
“If people can work and stay in Vernon with their families, they will forgo a $40-an-hour job in Alberta,” he said.
The candidates were also asked about what transportation issues would be a priority if they are elected mayor.
“I’d like to see that corrected,” said Morrow of large transport trucks going through downtown. “The biggest thing is a transportation corridor.”
Mund supports a truck route but he doesn’t believe highway traffic should be diverted.
“I wouldn’t want a bypass completely around the city. With that, people don’t stop and it kills business.”
O’Keefe wants to make it easier for residents in areas like Silver Star and Predator Ridge to access the main core of the city through transit.
“We have to work hard with B.C. Transit and we need to invest more in it,” she said.
Tribes believes one-way routes may be the best way to alleviate highway congestion.
“It’s not the best solution but it’s the best we have until there is a bypass on Westside Road,” he said.
Cumming is pushing for new concepts to reduce traffic demands.
“Increase (housing) density and make the trip shorter to neighbourhood facilities. We need fun buses to connect Silver Star and the lakes,” he said of residents accessing amenities.