Meet incumbent West Kelowna mayoral candidate Gord Milsom as he sits down to answer some important questions, and a just for fun question, before the election on Oct.15.
(The following has been transcribed from video)
If elected what would you like council to accomplish over the next four years, what is your vision for West Kelowna?
As our community continues to grow, we need to continue to move forward in a positive and progressive way. So some of the accomplishments that I see us achieving over the next four years include, completing the Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant, which is our number one priority as a council and also as a community. Next would be completing our first city hall library building and returning the Mount Boucherie Community Hall back to the community.
Building a new fire hall in the Lakeview Heights area, the expansion of the facility and programs at the Johnson Bentley Memorial Aquatic Center. We’re going to work with School District 23 to hopefully have a theater in the new George Pringle High School. Certainly, council would look forward to completing our Official Community Plan (OCP) update. We’d like to see as well the creation of a new West Kelowna Economic Development Corporation.
I’d like to create a truly action-oriented Climate Action Plan and continue to invest in West Kelowna’s policing and firefighting services. Collaborating with BC Housing and nonprofit housing organizations to build subsidized rental units for low-income seniors and families. Continue to advocate to the province for Highway 97 improvements and a second power supply for the greater Westside, and continue to work with our good neighbors Westbank First Nations as we continue to walk on the path of Truth and Reconciliation.
As mayor, how would you like to see council and staff manage future growth and development in West Kelowna?
West Kelowna is certainly a place to be it’s a very dynamic community and we’re growing each and every year, so it’s really important that we plan for that future growth. We anticipate over the next 20 years growth will be an additional 12 to 20,000 people. Within the draft, OCP, we have a preferred growth concept, that outlines where that growth should be, and it’s in basically four areas.
One is higher density in urban centers, that’s the Westbank center and also the Boucherie Centre. Also higher density in our neighborhood centers; Lakeview Heights, Gellatly Bay, Goats Peak, Smith Creek, and West Valley. Some of these neighborhood centers haven’t been created yet but over time, there’ll be opportunities for development there.
We’d like to see infill in the traditional neighborhoods, carriage homes, secondary suites, and also the development of our West Kelowna Business Park. If we can accommodate the 12 to 20,000 people comfortably in those areas, we’ll be able to retain the rural feel of West Kelowna, which makes West Kelowna and the distinct neighborhoods very special.
Again, as mayor what steps do you think council could take to improve traffic flows, specifically on Highway 97, and road infrastructure in West Kelowna?
There’s tremendous growth throughout the whole Central Okanagan and we see the congestion on the bridge and leading up to the bridge and council has been advocating with the Ministry of Transportation for improvements to Highway 97 and will continue to advocate.
So the improvements would be interchanges at the corners of the highway and Boucherie Road and also Westlake Road and Hudson Road. We’d also like to see better synchronization of the traffic lights around Butt Road and through Westbank Centre. We also would like to see improvements to the couplet, the one way so and the one way north. It’s not good for lifestyle reasons, for our community, and it really sort of disrupts economic growth of the Westbank center. So there’s lots to do.
Who is your favourite Okanagan celebrity and why?
I’d like to recognize a large number of West Kelowna residents who, in my mind are true celebrities. They may not get the recognition and fanfare as famous celebrities, but they make a huge difference in the community, and those are our community volunteers.
It’s the individuals that help out by driving seniors to their medical appointments, helping out at the food bank, volunteering on community associations, and helping sports groups by coaching and managing sports teams. So we have a tremendous number of residents that are making a difference in people’s lives.
I believe that there are true celebrities on the Westside, and I’m really grateful for everything they do because they’re making a difference and making West Kelowna a better place to live.