Vernon 2018 Municipal Election

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The following is a letter and questionnaire sent out to all mayoral and city council candidates. The following candidates took the time out of their busy schedules to answer our bike related questions which is appreciated. It is important to NOCS that we keep the ball rolling with bike related events, trail building, etc and support from our municipal government is a key proponent to achieving this in our local community. We hope you take the time to read the questionnaire and answers the candidates have given. Also, remember to have your voice heard by voting!

LETTER SENT TO THE CANDIDATES:

Dear potential candidates for Mayor and councillors,

 I am writing you on behalf of the North Okanagan Cycling Society (NOCS).  We are the local bike club which represents over 700 paid members and are responsible for maintaining over 200 km of trails within the Vernon area  We are the voice for local trail enthusiasts and are goal is to advocate for trails and trail users.  We want to help inform our members as to which candidates will help support trail initiatives going forward. Please take the time to answer the following questions. These responses will be posted on our social media as well as sent out to each of our members through our weekly newsletter.  We looking forward to continue working with the next Mayor and Council.

1. If Elected, what are your thoughts on Cycling Infrastructure in the area and what would you do to help improve them?

2. Destination BC and Tourism Vernon have identified trail tourism as the number one tourism potential for Greater Vernon.  Currently most of the trails are not located within the city limits , what would you do to help support building single track trails within the city limits?  Would you support and lobby for more trail builds in the surrounding areas (BC Parks, Crown Land)  that are used primarily by Vernon Residents and Visitors?

3. What do you think of projects to support youth cycling, for example phase 2 of the Skills Park in Becker Park, trail connectivity to neighbourhoods so children can bike to the trail head?

4. Many cities across the province (North Vancouver, Squamish, Williams Lake) have come forward to help support the local bike clubs and trails, some to the point of making them line items on the budget.  Would you be in favour of doing something like this here in Vernon?

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, best of luck to you all,

 Matthew Ball

VP

North Okanagan Cycling Society

okcycling.com

CANDIDATE RESPONSES TO EACH QUESTION

1. If Elected, what are your thoughts on Cycling Infrastructure in the area and what would you do to help improve them?

 

Terry Vulcano :: (CITY COUNCILLOR)

Three times a week I cycle the Okanagan Rail Trail to Winfield and back - about a 66 km round trip (= 200 km/week).  You can see some of my photos, from my trips in July, August and September, at my website www.tvulcano.com [Photos]

 

I'd like to see more benches (besides the stone one) and maybe a picnic table every 5 km or so - and more parking at the start.  Work is being done to connect with Vernon (e.g. through Polson Park) and I'd like to see easier access to Polson from other parts of the City.  I would need to see existing plans before commenting further.

 

Donald Jefcoat :: (CITY COUNCILLOR)

Vernon has done some great work regarding the cycling network.   So I am glad that I can answer this question directly and in context.  I  want to see more of network completed.   We need simple improvements to allow for cycling which include safe storage of bikes, rest stops, safety features, and more marketing to encourage cycling.   My preference to cycling lanes is to move them even more from moving traffic by placing them between the boulevard and pedestrian traffic.  In areas where there are shared  space with foot and cyclist we should find a way to segregate foot traffic to one side and cycling to the other.  In the downtown we need more bike racks, lockers.  As to what I will do is I promise to  carry on the work to ensure that new roads and redesigned roads are designed and constructed to allow for safe cycling.  That if funds are available that we add amenities to the cycling network such as more  bike racks, and lockers, benches, etc.

 

Victor Cumming :: (MAYOR)

Context

I am currently President of the Ribbons of Green Trails Society (RoGTS) and have been on the Board since 2004. RoGTS has spent the last 1.5 decades securing right-of-ways for paths and trails in Greater Vernon. I lead the preparation of the “Trails Plan – 2013-2033” adopted by the Regional District North Okanagan (RDNO) and the City of Vernon, and taken in advisement by the District of Coldstream. I have been involved in planning and securing trails right-of-ways in Greater Vernon since 1995 as it a passion of mine.

 

RoGTS has been involved in many other projects, working closely with the City and RDNO, including construction of the Grey Canal Trail, now just three pieces short of 35 km, mostly off-road walking and cycling trail from Coldstream to BX, to the north end of Swan Lake, to Goose Lake and ending at the Rise via Turtle Mountain. We have also been instrumental in establishing the upper loop route from the College, building off the Jack Schrader Trail from Polson Park, south to Crystal Waters connecting with the Rail Trail. More projects are in earlier stages of identification, notably a connection from Vernon to reach Armstrong and then the CPR Rail Trail to Sicamous.

 

During my term as President, RoGTS was instrumental in getting the Kal Road cycling path established on the west side of Kalamalka Lake Road and partnered with the Rail Trail Society during the fundraising process.

 

As part of my professional consulting practice I lead the team that wrote the Okanagan Rail Trail Impact Assessment (2014), a significant tool for bringing municipalities and the Province on board for the purchase of the corridor. I also assist Predator Ridge with its marketing of cycling and linking the Resort to off road trails and on road cycling routes (2018).

 

Cycling Infrastructure

The on-road and off-road cycling infrastructure has improved dramatically over the last two decades. NOCS has done a tremendous job partnering with Provincial Parks (Ellison, Kalamalka and Silver Star) developing off-road cycling trails. Vernon and Coldstream Councils have improved the primarily cycling infrastructure significantly. There are now separated paved trails most of the way to Kal Park (Red Gate), Kal Lake, Okanagan Lake and the College. There has also been the widening of paved marked shoulders for on-road cycling up Mission Hill to Predator Ridge, to Okanagan Landing, Pottery Rd., PV Road, Coldstream Creek Rd. and many other short sections. Vernon is well underway with the complete construction of central multi-use path from Polson Park to Village Green.

 

Assistance: Council

As Mayor of Vernon, I would continue to support the fine work that City and Regional staff have done on cycling infrastructure and in particular encourage the broader regional participation in building a Rail Trail network from Sicamous to Osoyoos and the backcountry cycle trail/route from Sicamous to Osoyoos.

 

As far as mountain bike trails are concerned, I'm very aware and supportive of the work that NOCS has done on establishing and maintaining trails. Your large and enthusiastic society is an asset for enhancing the community and attracting young professionals to the City. The establishment of these trails systems needs to continue with links to Vernon Hill, Silver Star, Predator Ridge to Kekuli Bay, Commonage and Bella Vista range lands.

 

As Mayor of Vernon, I would push for trail connections (off-road and on-road) inside the City to expand the ability to cycle to off-road locations. As part of the RDNO Board, I will push for the completion of the Grey Canal Trail, the Silver Star Trail, new off-road locations in Electoral Areas B & C and new links between the Commonage and Ellison Park. I would also work closes with advocacy groups like NOCS.

 

Brian Quiring :: (CITY COUNCILLOR)

I am an avid cyclist as I train for the Olympic distance triathlon in kelowna. I typically ride to work from my house on Eastside road and have a 25km commute approximately 3 times a week. I have advocated for a dedicated bike lane on Eastside road as it is a heavily used bike route and is significantly inferior for that purpose.

 

Darrin Taylor :: (MAYOR)

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss cycling opportunities in Vernon area. As a father of young children, one of the best parts of living here is the time we spend on our bikes. My 16 year old son and I enjoy the downhill trails at Silver Star and the terrain in Kal Park. As a family we like to ride around okanagan landing but our favourite has to be the rail trail. I think the rail trail is a true gem and something that represents immense economic potential for this area. 

 

Sherrilee Franks :: (CITY COUNCILLOR)

Although cycling infrastructure has come a long way in Vernon, there is still many improvements to be made. As roadways are improved and updated, I would want to see the integration of cycling paths into the plans. I realize this will not happen overnight; however, we need to be proactive and include these paths as construction continues in Vernon. 

 

Dawn Tucker :: (CITY COUNCILLOR)

I believe cycling and your society is very important. I’ve been a member of NOCS in the past and have enjoyed many of the trails NOCS members have built. Cycling infrastructure is becoming more and more important. A while ago I went in and talked to the folks at Olympia and was told that they have been more than doubling the number of electric bikes sold in the last year and anticipate it being even more popular next year. Our younger generations are not interested in driving cars as their primary mode of transportation and with this in mind building more infrastructure and safe corridors is essential. I would improve them by continuing to work on connecting our bike paths so that everyone has safe corridors to use bikes on.

 

2. Destination BC and Tourism Vernon have identified trail tourism as the number one tourism potential for Greater Vernon.  Currently most of the trails are not located within the city limits , what would you do to help support building single track trails within the city limits? Would you support and lobby for more trail builds in the surrounding areas (BC Parks, Crown Land)  that are used primarily by Vernon Residents and Visitors?

 

Terry Vulcano ::

I would like to see existing plans and budgets before committing to a plan of action along with an evaluation (i.e. from cyclists) of existing tracks and trails. an emphatic YES.

 

Donald Jefcoat ::

I am actually surprised we don't have more cycle friendly trails in Vernon.  When in office I will strive to see this addressed. I also think we need to do more to create cycling corridors.

 

Victor Cumming ::

There are a number of potential locations for additional single-track routes within the City limits, including the lower Commonage grasslands from Fulton to Apollo, Bella Vista Highlands, and the Rise with most of them requiring at least partial access to private land. The role of Council will be to ensure these potential locations are included in our Parks plan and capital projects’ priorities. Conflicts with hikers and other users and environmental features would always need to be considered. An updated Greater Vernon Trails Plan is required with “new” community input built on the considerable implementation success since 2013.

 

Outside of the City limits, there is potential for trails from Silver Star down BX Creek to BX Falls and linking on to BX Road and the new Ranch Lands Park into Vernon. I'm very supportive of developing these trails, and RoGTS supports efforts currently underway by RDNO to acquire land to help make these a reality. Vernon Council, and through their members participation in GVAC and RDNO and through Tourism Vernon, need to continue to promote well planned and managed mountain bike use of our local Provincial Parks.

 

Brian Quiring ::

I will continue to advocate fore more quality bike trails.

 

Darrin Taylor ::

Vernon has done a good job of expanding bike lanes in order to cater to the commuter cyclist. However, I think we can be doing a better job of serving the growing needs of recreational cyclists. In principal, I am in favour of expanding bike trails within the city. As you likely know, the ability of mayor and council to support any initiative often boils down to the business case before them. For that reason, I would like to see us do our homework and prepare costed out priorities for the city to consider. After all, having any number of council candidates support an idea in theory is of no help if we cannot make a dollar and cents case for what we want to see done. 

 

Sherrilee Franks ::

I am a huge advocate for tourism and have worked in the tourism industry for 15+ years. I spend two years working in Canmore AB which has a fantastic trail system. The trail system makes up a major portion of the experience of staying in Canmore. The positive effects of a trail system in Vernon which connects outter laying trails would be unmeasurable at this stage. Yes!

 

Dawn Tucker ::

Absolutely yes to both.

 

3. What do you think of projects to support youth cycling, for example phase 2 of the Skills Park in Becker Park, trail connectivity to neighbourhoods so children can bike to the trail head?

 

Terry Vulcano ::

A great idea!

 

Donald Jefcoat ::

Youth and family are a large focus of my foundations to anything I do in council.   I think we can do way more for our youth then we have done.  Sure we have little tidbits handed to them such as the Skills Park but lets face reality that simply is not enough.  I hate to say it but it would be easier to get a scooter (mobile scooter) path then it would be to get a cycling path.   Kids cant even take their bike to the park or rec center because the town  it seems has forgotten about cyclists.   I feel like a broken record here but we need a good cycling network.  We need places to lock up bikes.  

 

Victor Cumming ::

Phase 2 of the Skills Park in Becker Park is a great idea! My experience with RoGTS is that Council would entertain a proposal on Becker Park connectivity. Trail connections to neighbourhoods and on to cycling areas is critical. There are distinct opportunities for enhanced trails systems in the Landing, Bella Vista, Vernon Mt., Foothills, and the BX, enabling local biking as well major trails centres.

 

Continuing to link together NOCS, RoGTS, Vernon Parks and RDNO Parks to identify these opportunities and encourage trail development particularly at the neighbourhood level. The ad hoc development of these local single-track trail networks, jumps, etc. must be supported.

 

Brian Quiring ::

My son is a downhill bike coach and I fully support any and all initiatives in this area. We are also in strong support of the bmx track as it has proven to be a great asset to youth.

I fully support this initiative.

 

Darrin Taylor ::

I do like the idea of trails within the city allowing recreational cyclists to access trail heads without driving. Certainly, my children would love that!. Linking the rail trail to other cycling areas like Predator Ridge or the growing number of wineries just south of Vernon on Okanagan Lake is also something I would like to see us consider as a community. While these initiative have potential to grow tourism opportunities, they would also be of tremendous benefit to those of us who call the North Okanagan home. We must be mindful of our ability to appeal to young families as the future of our community depends on our ability to provide a thriving city for them to make a life. 

 

Sherrilee Franks ::

Trail systems as a whole have many positive effect whether its youth cycling mentioned here or Vernon residents and visitors mentioned above. Trail systems which target a specific demographic is great, provided it does not prevent others from its use. In the end, we will all benefit for a solid trail system no matter who the original target is. 

 

Dawn Tucker ::

If we want to have people utilize facilities the best way is to have easy and safe access. Having free public facilities is essential to attracting new residents, retaining residents and to gain tourism from other destinations.

 

4. Many cities across the province (North Vancouver, Squamish, Williams Lake) have come forward to help support the local bike clubs and trails, some to the point of making them line items on the budget.  Would you be in favour of doing something like this here in Vernon?

 

Terry Vulcano ::

Yes

 

Donald Jefcoat ::

I believe we can work together to address cycling issues in Vernon.  Council can dedicate resources and  construct cycling lanes, trails, and parks.  We can make purchases and or place club purchases with in our system.  I believe that the city should be working with more community service clubs to improve our city and not be at odds with them.   I am always willing to support community organizations.   I also believe that if funds are available that the city can add funds to project based initiatives or free up space for community groups including the cycling club.  

 

Victor Cumming ::

Both the City of Vernon and RDNO have partnered with recreation and community groups, e.g. the indoor soccer facility, trails, Paddle Wheel Park and the recent pickle ball courts, to build and operate facilities. As Mayor of Vernon, I would look forward to seeing and hearing a presentation on the proposed trails and their operation. My Vision is to continue to develop a City with amenities for businesses and families that will encourage smart growth and an active community, which matches the efforts of NOCS.

 

Brian Quiring ::

Yes I fully support this as a line item in the budget.

 

Darrin Taylor ::

Matt, you can expect me as Mayor to be a pragmatist. By that I mean, I tend to view each decision I make based upon its own merits. Over my years watching Vernon's local government, what I have learned is that initiatives from groups like the North Okanagan Cycling Society can garner widespread support by making a reasonable business case with benefits to as wide a segment of our community as possible. You'll find me to be accessible and willing to look at any idea. I'm a fan of trying new things and thinking outside the box. Feel free to reach out and come to city hall for a coffee once I am elected. 

 

Sherrilee Franks ::

I would certainly be open to this discussion. 

 

Dawn Tucker ::

The 1.9% infrastructure levy is already a line item which allows the city to build bike paths and multi use paths as they are infrastructure upgrades. It makes sense to continue to combine bike and multi use paths with other infrastructure upgrades. If it makes sense to do this another way then I’m certainly open to considering that and helping to make that happen.

 


 The following are responses from those who didn’t answer the survey and why they were unable to:

 

Teresa Durning :: (CITY COUNCILLOR)

Good Afternoon Matthew - Full disclosure here-  I do all the Visitor Servicing under contract to the City of Vernon Tourism Vernon function  - That being said I will be unable to vote or participate on anything " Tourism " at a municipal level. However, I  will certainly be a voice at the provincial level on the need and benefits of all of the above! As well will participate positively on anything allowable that will not cause a perceived conflict .I absolutely support any initiatives that grow and enhance the sector both in the City and the Region.

 ! Have a great weekend and I look forward to any other questions.

 Teresa 

Committed to Community

 

Shawn Lee :: (CITY COUNCILLOR)

Hi Matthew, Thank for your questions.I support the improvement of bike routes and recreational trails both in Vernon and in Greater Vernon; as budgets and resources permit. Vernon's OCP supports this view. The benefits of cycling as a sport and mode of transportation  are unquestioned.  However as to specific projects and proposals you refer to in your questions I would would think it prudent to reserve judgement pending full understanding of the details.  I look forward to meeting you at one of the forums in the next few weeks . Thank you again Matthew.

 Cheers Shawn Lee for Vernon Council

 

Sam Zaharia :: (CITY COUNCILLOR)

I want to apologize for not responding to your request. I pondered longer than I should have, then realized I don't know enough about these issues to participate in a meaningful conversation. I will be paying close attention to the replies in the hopes of better understanding. Thanks for your efforts toward educating all of us!

 SamZ