The following is part of Penticton Western News coverage of the 2022 municipal election.
Mayoral candidates were asked to provide a short bio about themselves, and then respond to three questions concerning key issues for Penticton residents and voters.
The questions were the following:
1. What are your solutions to housing supply and affordability in Penticton?
2. What are tangible things the city can do to improve public safety?
3. Are you satisfied with how the bike lane was implemented and would you support expanding the bike lane network?
Every candidate was given the same limitations in the size of their bio and responses, as well as the timeline in which to provide them. Candidates were allowed to decide how they wished to distribute their words.
This is John Vassilaki and I am running for re-election as your Mayor.
I emigrated as a young boy from Greece in 1956 and I immediately learned to be productive and persevere.
As a businessman, I operated many businesses in the hospitality industry.
I was elected to City Council for four consecutive terms and also completed one four-year term as your Mayor.
The citizens of Penticton are like my second family.
My campaign is simple:
* We need to maintain a positive momentum — diligently plan the work and work the plan.
* Well-maintained growth. Creating zoning by-laws to support affordable housing.
* Leveraging assets. Uncovering resources to create a positive economic future.
1. Supply alone will not improve affordability for housing.
We must leverage our momentum by taking a leadership role for driving partnerships between our mMunicipality, the provincial and federal government. We need help to give incentives to developers to supply affordable housing. We need to convince developers that they should supply a portion of their development for affordable housing or below-market value units if the City allows them density bonuses on their projects.
Growth is positive but also needs to be well managed.
We can also encourage people to make agreements to “rent to own”, we need the right supply of housing with more mixed-use included. And last but not least perhaps we need a housing authority at the city to help with this issue.
2. I will present our plans for a safe, secure and healthy community to as many Provincial Cabinet Ministers as possible.
My plan includes engaging Interior Health to help us pair mental health professionals with police officers responding to mental health calls. Community safety is my number one priority. We hired additional RCMP and bylaw officers, but there is much more to be done. We need more police, bylaw and safety officers for our community.
I will bring forward motions for the city to install more lighting where needed areas. There is a problem in our community with prolific offenders and the revolving door policy that is in place. I believe that the city should hire its own counsel to represent our community in court when these prolific offenders are arrested as Crown counsel does not seem to be representing our community’s needs.
3. I believe that the bike lane was implemented properly.
The bike lane is part of our transportation and infrastructure systems. Every modern community everywhere in the world needs to protect its cyclists the same way we build proper roads to protect those driving cars. It’s all about safety.
The lake-to-lake bike lane should be completed. Once it is completed we must take a pause and evaluate the amount of usage, and what improvements can be made. I have been listening to the public on what they dislike and I know you are frustrated. But please give it time so that corrections can be made in the future.
READ MORE: Bike lanes, housing and crime key issues at forum