Lake Coun­try vot­ers face choice be­tween ex­pe­ri­ence and change

Mayor James Baker, a po­lit­i­cal vet­eran, chal­lenged by new­comer Barry Rhodes

Penticton Herald - - FRONT PAGE - The Okana­gan Week­end By AN­DREA PEA­COCK

Lake Coun­try res­i­dents vot­ing in next Satur­day’s mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion will choose be­tween a may­oral can­di­date with decades of ex­pe­ri­ence in lo­cal pol­i­tics and a new man with a de­sire for change.

“There are some things we have in the works that I’d like to see come to fruition in the next four years,” says James Baker, the in­cum­bent mayor of Lake Coun­try.

Baker says he’s well ex­pe­ri­enced to get those things done.

“I’ve worked in lo­cal govern­ment for al­most 30 years as re­gional direc­tor for the area here be­fore we in­cor­po­rated. Then, af­ter we in­cor­po­rated, I was on our first coun­cil. Then I’ve been mayor since 2005, and have worked well with all of the se­nior govern­ments and other ju­ris­dic­tions and the Okana­gan In­dian Band, the prov­ince and fed­eral govern­ment,” said Baker. “We get along well and get things hap­pen­ing.”

Cur­rently, the big­gest is­sue for Lake Coun­try is traf­fic con­ges­tion at High­way 97 and Glen­more Road, said Baker.

“We’ve been talk­ing to a lo­cal traf­fic en­gi­neer who has a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence, and I think we can do a short-term fix that will get done in a fairly quick time at fairly lit­tle cost to us.”

Costs will be shared by the prov­ince, the Dis­trict of Lake Coun­try, the City of Kelowna and the Okana­gan In­dian Band.

Work would in­volve cre­at­ing an ex­tra lane on Glen­more Road at the High­way 97 in­ter­sec­tion with two left-turn ar­rows in­stead of just one, said Baker.

“If we can elim­i­nate the block­age at High­way 97, it would im­prove ac­cess to our streets away from the high­way.”

An­other key is­sue for Lake Coun­try is af­ford­able hous­ing, Baker said.

“We have a ma­jor de­vel­op­ment in the works that I’d like to see through.”

Go­ing up against Baker is po­lit­i­cal new­comer Barry Rhodes, who has lived in Lake Coun­try for five years.

Rhodes is a for­mer cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer at a max­i­mum-se­cu­rity prison. He is now re­tired and has a hobby farm in Lake Coun­try.

“We need a change,” said Rhodes. “There are so many peo­ple com­plain­ing about a lack of in­fra­struc­ture, emer­gency ser­vices, poor plan­ning and the com­mu­nity not get­ting in­volved in any of the stuff that’s go­ing on.”

Rhodes said he be­lieves his lead­er­ship skills de­vel­oped in his cor­rec­tions ca­reer set him up well for the may­oral po­si­tion.

“I don’t have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence. I’m not a po­lit­i­cal guy. I’m a jeans and T-shirt guy,” he said. “When given a task, I don’t just try my best. I do my best.”

One of the key is­sues Rhodes said he plans to fo­cus on is at­tract­ing more busi­nesses to Lake Coun­try.

“We need to put a busi­ness plan to­gether for hav­ing busi­ness come into Lake Coun­try,” he said. “It seems that’s re­ally fallen on the way­side. You can’t even go into town to buy a pair of socks.”

In speak­ing with res­i­dents, Rhodes said one of the big­gest con­cerns he has heard is the lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion from city hall with re­gard to build­ing plans.

Rhodes said changes also need to be made to im­prove safety.

“A lot of peo­ple have said there’s a lot more break-ins into ve­hi­cles and into homes,” he said. “We pay a lot of money in polic­ing costs, and we need to get the value for our dol­lar.”

One so­lu­tion may be to hire a pri­vate se­cu­rity com­pany as West Kelowna has done, he sug­gested.

“We have such a vast area here . . . that the po­lice can’t be ev­ery­where.”

Lake Coun­try elects two coun­cil mem­bers at large and four in sep­a­rate wards.

Run­ning for coun­cil at large are Os­car Barnes, Penny Gam­bell and Bill Scar­row.

Run­ning for the Carrs Land­ing coun­cil seat are Jeanette Lam­bert and Cara Reed.

Run­ning for the Oyama seat are Todd McKen­zie and Justin Neufeld.

Blair Ire­land was ac­claimed for Okana­gan Cen­tre, and Jeremy Kozub was ac­claimed for Winfield.



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