Black Press Media is reaching out to all candidates running for West Kelowna council in the 2022 municipal election, asking for their response to three specific issues about the community, as well as a fun question. Responses will be published in the order they are received.
Stephen Johnston - Council candidate
If elected, how do you think council should manage growth, development and attainable, affordable housing in West Kelowna?
I think growth should be managed in balance with infrastructure improvements that are necessary to accommodate it. In short, infrastructure needs to be improved as we grow, and not after. Development is another aspect of growth that allows us to help tailor growth to match the need. People are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet, and the price of housing has become unattainable for many. As a council we need to make sure that our OCP addresses density and makes room for the “missing middle”, specifically supportive, low-income, and seniors housing, as well as non-market and market rentals. Additionally, we need to partner with the province and non-profit organizations to help get these units built. We can’t approach affordability on our own, that must come through partnership.
In your view, what is council’s responsibility to help address street and property crime in West Kelowna?
One thing we can do is invest more in our police department and hire more RCMP members. In West Kelowna we have a shared force with a municipal component as well as provincial, and we need to keep pressing the province to bring their complement up to meet the demand. This term our council invested in a Community Safety Unit to address this specific problem.
What steps do you think council could take to improve traffic flows and road infrastructure in West Kelowna?
We must continue to lobby the province for intersection improvements on Highway 97 to ensure that we can move throughout our community as effectively as possible. While interchanges at Boucherie and Westlake roads were previously proposed by the province, the projects were unfortunately never started. It’s essential that we bring these major improvements back to West Kelowna. Locally we continue to invest in roads that more safely and efficiently connect our neighbourhoods, which allows our residents to travel more efficiently once they exit the highway. We also need to focus on creating neighbourhood centres, like Lakeview Village in Lakeview Heights, to bring shops and services closer to our residents. This helps get vehicles off the road and also creates a greater sense of community within each of our neighbourhoods.
Who is your favourite Okanagan celebrity and why?
I’ve never been one to be much influenced by celebrity. I think West Kelowna has some absolutely incredible people who rise to the occasion on a regular basis, behind the scenes, often without recognition. These individuals show up time and time again, without complaint, and earnestly work to improve life, and develop community on the Westside.