As candidates, we get emailed many questionnaires from special interest groups, the media, and concerned citizens. While my responses are public in each of the representative groups, I have combined all of my responses here, for interested people to learn about my positions on key local election issues.

Sustainable Environment Network Society (SENS) All-Candidates Forum
Question 1: "What have you already done to help all of us and make a difference to our community? What will you NOW do to make a difference and help protect our environment and human health?"
  • I co-wrote a submission to the British Columbia provincial government, to the Finance Committee, to request forestry reform be included in the 2022-23 budget considerations. The main takeaways from the request were to phase out old-growth logging and forest clear cutting, as these practices make forest fires spread more rapidly. I wrote an article about it here: https://stephaniehendy.ca/commentary/ (see “BC Finance Committee – Submission on Forestry Reform”).

  • I was involved in organizing the RBC Day of Action event in Vernon on Friday October 29th. This was a coordinated peaceful protest across Canada to draw attention to RBC being the largest financial backer of the oil & gas industry in Canada, and 5th largest in the world.

  • I am the chair of the Vernon-Monashee BC Greens riding association. I work with a talented group of volunteers to help build the BC Greens energy in the region, so that we can work toward electing more representatives from our region who will work toward building a Just Transition for our province in the legislative assembly.

  • I will push for high density housing that builds community and doesn’t interrupt the skyline, by way of advocating for the construction of temporary modular housing, cooperative rental housing, and a cohousing community. We need to build more livable communities.

  • I will support infrastructure that encourages people to commute by foot, by bicycle, scooter, wheelchair, and public transportation. I will also push to create a cooperative car sharing network.

Question 2: "How do you plan to ensure the rapid implementation of Vernon's Climate Action Plan?"
  • I will push for high density housing that builds community and doesn’t interrupt the skyline, by way of advocating for the construction of temporary modular housing, cooperative rental housing, and a cohousing community. We need to build more livable communities.

  • I will support infrastructure that encourages people to commute by foot, by bicycle, scooter, wheelchair, and public transportation. I will also push to create a cooperative car sharing network.

  • I will inform the residents of the City of Vernon and the Regional District of the North Okanagan about available financial incentives to use the BC Energy Step Code for new home construction and renovations — tying into reducing emissions from heating our buildings (from page 11 of the Climate Action Plan).

  • Support electric vehicle infrastructure such as the installation of Level 2 charging stations in rental and owner apartment complexes, shopping centres, and commercial areas within the city (e.g. Downtown Vernon parking lots, movie theatres, sport facilities).

  • Price out a residential compost pick up plan through existing services so that people don’t have to drive their compost to the bins around the city.

  • Work toward all of the short-term and medium-term actions contained within the Climate Action Plan which were listed as organizational goals (identify and support vulnerable populations, electrify fleets, conserve water, help people reduce flood risk, help people plan for emergencies, and more).

Question 3: "The Official Community Plan 2013 calls for the protection and preservation of green spaces and sensitive areas, a comprehensive parks system that provides green spaces for people and protects natural areas and habitats, the protection of agricultural land, and the revitalization of the Vernon's City Centre as the key redevelopment area in the city. How do you see the balance between that and opening up greenfield areas (land that had never been used before for building) for development?"
  • The Official Community Plan (OCP) also calls for more “strong, compact, and complete neighbourhoods” so that people don’t have to spend so much time commuting.
    Rather than adding new development to greenfield areas, new developments should be denser than older buildings that they replace. More than half of Vernon’s housing is comprised of single-family homes. Compared to more population-dense areas like Port Moody (32% of their dwellings are single family homes) and North Vancouver (15% of their dwellings are single family homes), Vernon could be benefit from replacing the single-family homes with denser housing developments.

  • Vernon’s City Centre also contains a lot of unused space which can be used for housing. These spaces would be ideal for temporary modular housing, rental housing co-operatives, and seniors’ housing developments, so that those who are least likely to be able to afford vehicular transportation can have a walkable neighbourhood. This also reduces the environmental impact of people driving throughout the city.

  • I would support this policy: “5.8 Discourage the development of new low density greenfield residential subdivisions. When additional lands are needed in the future to meet population growth, ensure that new development is designed to meet the Guiding Principles, as well as the Regional Growth Strategy's goal of developing compact, complete communities.”

  • All greenfield land should be maintained at its original purpose: agricultural, forest, and recreational uses. Where possible, these spaces can be revitalized to provide more wildlife and fire protection, as well as recreational space for people with diverse needs (e.g. wheelchair accessible, simple navigation options/wayfinding, etc).
    Wayfinding could also provide a means for more art installations throughout the city to strengthen the bond between the arts community and our environment (see here for a good definition of “wayfinding”: https://segd.org/what-wayfinding).

  • The City of Vernon should also be involving members of the Okanagan Indian Band to guide us in the way to best steward the land. The City exists on their stolen land and since they are required to do the majority of their commerce and employment within the City, OKIB should be invited and included in future greenfield planning to support the cause of Indigenous reconciliation.

Question 4: "Keeping in mind the recent local climate impact of wildfires and floods, the city now has professional advice (eg, new Flood Mapping Study, recent Community Wildfire Protection Plan) on restricting development in areas identified as vulnerable to these threats. How would you balance these restrictions with the push by developers to add housing in some of these areas?"
  • No development on lands susceptible to fire and flood damage. No development on lands which increase urban sprawl. No single dwellings unless they are part of a co-op rental housing or cohousing development. If we do not have land to buffer fires, feed our residents, and provide clean drinking water, then we will all be displaced to somewhere that does. All development must occur in infill areas and be comprised of cluster/compact development.

Question 5: "The City's adopted Master Transportation Plan emphasizes more trips to be made by walking, cycling, transit and carpooling (collectively known as active transportation) instead of in a single occupant vehicle (SOV). Do you have any suggestions or concerns about this plan?"
  • I support the Master Transportation Plan sub plans and strategies however, I think that the targets could be more aggressive. Projected targets for 2040 should be SOV 40%,Transit 10%, Walking 15%, Cycling 20%, Carpooling 15%.

Question 6: "What do you see as the pros and cons of developing bylaws that require builders to meet the requirements of the BC Energy Step Code (a single provincial standard for achieving more energy-efficient buildings)?"
  • Pros: moving toward net-zero buildings and slowing down environmental damage caused by buildings, less costly to heat and operate buildings which incorporate the code, move toward making the whole City of Vernon achieve net-zero

  • Cons: new buildings are constructed more slowly as developers face delays in construction when applying for financial incentive programs provided through the provincial government

Question 7: "Many developers build large, expensive homes, distant from the town's core, to make money – they're twice the size they were in the '60's, require much more 'stuff' to fill them, and don't support the need to densify for smarter growth and to reduce car dependency as specified by our OCP. Families and those who grew up here cannot afford to stay and work here.  Businesses now can't get staff and must adjust hours of operation or close.  What will you do to support affordable housing?"
  • I will push for high density housing that builds community and doesn’t interrupt the skyline, by way of advocating for the construction of temporary modular housing, cooperative rental housing, and a cohousing community.

Castanet
Taxes

The only taxes which are collected at the municipal level are property taxes. Organizations which add to the community such as cultural or recreational centres are permitted to request a permissive tax exemption. It would be worth researching whether replacing property taxes with a land value tax would provide more utility to the community and encourage better land use planning.

Highway bypass for Vernon - yes/no, where?

No, we do not need a highway bypass for Vernon. A highway bypass would increase vehicle traffic through the city. The construction required would be disruptive to the existing city traffic and infrastructure, it would destroy the environment by encouraging more vehicle use, and it would decrease access to surrounding businesses.

Homelessness

Build high density temporary modular housing to adopt a Housing First strategy. People need to be supported with a safe place to live before they can lift themselves out of extreme poverty, and receive the lifestyle supports they need. Many homeless people also have disabilities and their income assistance is not enough to cover housing, food, medications, and support.

Crime

Adopting a Housing First strategy and working on creating a safe supply will reduce crime significantly. The BC Government recently applied to the Government of Canada to decriminalize illicit drugs. This application was supported by the City of Kamloops, the First Nations Health Authority, the RCMP “E” Division (British Columbia), and the Union of BC Municipalities. Should this proceed, the City of Vernon would also see a reduction in crime.

Pandemic response/restrictions

I support the provincial’s governments’ response to the pandemic overall however, I believe it has been too reactionary and not pro-active. We should not have removed the indoor mask mandate over Summer 2021. The restrictions which are now in place are what we need to proceed into a safer community.

Where do you stand on mandatory vaccinations? Should the city/council mandate the same?

Anyone that works in the company of other people should be vaccinated. Yes, the city and council should mandate the same. We all live in the same community, and we owe it to each other to look after everyone who lives in Vernon.

Active living centre/cultural centre - proceed with big projects?

Yes, we should proceed with the construction of the Active Living Centre and Greater Vernon Cultural Centre. Both of these projects benefit the health of the community.

Vernon Matters
I would like to know more about you (where are you from, how long have you lived in Vernon)

I’m from Vancouver, born and raised, and I have lived in Vernon for 4 months. I moved here to support my outdoor active lifestyle.

What you do professionally

I work as a kinesiologist and clinical exercise physiologist at a clinic in downtown Vernon.

Your past political experience

I ran in the provincial election last year in my riding at that time, Vancouver-Langara.

I also have extensive experience in governmental advocacy for people with type 1 diabetes: I was instrumental in having the age-restriction removed for government-funded insulin pumps, and I advised advocates in their approach to have continuous glucose monitors covered in British Columbia. Both of these were successful.

and what you believe you could bring to the Council Chamber.

I would support council in making decisions that most positively affect the health of our city.

I am interested to know your stance on City Services

Vernon has some great City Services and the Official Community Plan combined with the Climate Action Plan are fantastic targets.

To aid in supporting the above plans, I would like to price out a city-wide compost pick up service, and create a co-op car sharing program. I will support BC Transit upgrades that were recommended following the community engagement which occurred over the summer. I would support extending the hours of the Downtown Primary Care Centre to include evenings and weekends. I would support denoting our business catalogues to identify businesses which are Queer-friendly, BIPOC-owned, and accessible for people with disabilities (whether movement, sensory, or cognitive-related).

climate action

I love the Climate Action Plan that was drafted in 2019. I would seek to enact it through housing and infrastructure upgrades. This would include revitalizing greenfield land to provide more wildlife and fire protection, as well as recreational space for people with diverse needs (e.g. wheelchair accessible, simple navigation options/wayfinding, etc), prioritizing new developments to be denser and utilize infill land for such projects, adding more Level 2 charging stations for electric vehicles in high-density housing complexes, and supporting buildings in using BC’s Energy Step Code.

combatting COVID-19

I support the province’s governments’ response to the pandemic overall however, I believe it has been too reactionary and not pro-active. We should not have removed the indoor mask mandate over Summer 2021. The restrictions which are now in place are what we need to proceed into a safer community. I support the current system of requiring masks and vaccinations for all indoor spaces which are deemed “optional” (restaurants, gyms, social events, etc).

housing (both affordability and stock)

I will push for high density housing that builds community and doesn’t interrupt the skyline, by way of advocating for the construction of temporary modular housing, cooperative rental housing, and a cohousing community. We need to build more livable communities.

homelessness

Build high density temporary modular housing to adopt a Housing First strategy. People need to be supported with a safe place to live before they can lift themselves out of extreme poverty, and receive the lifestyle supports they need. Many homeless people also have disabilities and their income assistance is not enough to cover housing, food, medications, and support.

policing and crime

Adopting a Housing First strategy and working on creating a safe supply will reduce crime significantly. The BC Government recently applied to the Government of Canada to decriminalize illicit drugs. This application was supported by the City of Kamloops, the First Nations Health Authority, the RCMP “E” Division (British Columbia), and the Union of BC Municipalities. Should this proceed, the City of Vernon would also see a reduction in crime.

As far as policing, I support defunding the police. I believe that the funds would be better utilized to hire more community support nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, and community mental health workers. I am not in favour of supporting a system that was created to subjugate Indigenous Peoples.

I would also like to know how, if elected, you would vote on the afore mentioned matters and how you believe that would serve Vernonites

I see a lot of people whose needs are not being met, either through inability to access safe housing or transition their type of housing, employment that does not pay high wages, food insecurity, and climate devastation. All of my choices will be guided through a health lens, aimed at increasing the health and vitality of Vernonites. Our community health must be the top priority for all decision-makers in the city, and in the region.

A Concerned Citizen asks about an Anti-Racism Policy
The question I received to my email was: "Would you support a motion to implement an anti-racism policy for the City of Vernon – yes or no?"

My response was the following: "Yes, I would support such a motion.

It would take very little time to adopt the Lidstone Anti-Racism Policy framework for the City of Vernon, and I do believe that the Bullying and Harassment policy does not speak enough to Anti-Racism measures. We should also be joining the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities against Racism & Discrimination.

Much like Councillor Fehr, I also cannot believe that this was up for debate and defeated back in July 2020.

While you did not ask for my stance on other frameworks, I would also support any motions to add more detail into anti-discrimination policies and actions to support people who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+ (hereby referred to as "Queer") and/or those who identify as a person with a disability (hereby referred to as "PWDs"). We need to create safe communities, governments, and businesses for Queer, PWDs, and BIPOC people who live in Vernon. It is not inclusion to be tolerated, we must invite everyone in to be heard."