Schwartzenberger seeks seat

Schwartzenberger seeks seat


Schwartzenberger(Larry Schwartzenberger is running in the September 21 by-election in Oliver. Here are his responses to our questions.) 

Q: What prompted you to throw your political hat in the ring?

A: I have run for council before and have always been interested in civic issues and what I might be able to offer to improve and grow this community. I have lived in Oliver for 22 years and it is an outstanding place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

Q: What is your background?

A: I moved to Oliver 22 years ago to work as a sales manager position at a local furniture manufacturer. My wife Claire and I have three grown children who all graduated from SOSS and four grandchildren, with another one on the way. I currently work for Growers Supply/South Valley as the packaging manager for Growers Supply’s five Okanagan stores. Currently, my volunteer work includes being chairperson of the Airport Advisory Committee and as a member of the executive of the Knights of Columbus.  Previously, I was a member of the Oliver & District Community Economic Development Society (ODCEDS).

Q: What is your platform?

A: I would like to see managed growth in Oliver, both business and residential, in order to increase our tax base.  As the services that the Town of Oliver provides continue to become more costly, the best way to offset these increases is not through higher taxes but by expanding our tax base. I would like to see council be more aggressive on low income housing, which is a real need in our community. Previously, a parcel of land was designated for low-income housing.

I feel we should be working with the various service organizations in Oliver, and higher levels of government to see if we can’t make some headway on this issue. Oliver has a once in decades opportunity to market this community to the 250 families that will be moving to the South Okanagan to work at the new correctional facility.

We need a focused effort by council to ensure that these families know that Oliver wants them to be part of our community.  As an example, we will have a brand new high school in Oliver this September, a new auditorium by the end of the year, a hospital, an outdoor pool, and a great hike and bike trail network. These types of things are important to families considering a move to Oliver.

Q: What can the Town do better?

A: I feel that the Town could do a better job marketing Oliver and the area to people thinking of moving here and/or starting a business.  Oliver is unique in that it is the only Okanagan community from Osoyoos to Vernon that is not built on a major lake. As such, we need to promote Oliver for its many other attractions and benefits.

Q:  What are your thoughts on youth delinquency?

A: Youth delinquency is certainly an issue for many communities, not just Oliver. Several years ago there was an initiative by one of the service clubs to create a youth centre to offer more activities for youth in Oliver. These types of initiatives may help but I don’t feel there is any one answer to this issue.  On the “what can be done about it” side, Neighbourhood Watch type programs are often useful in curbing this type of activity.

Q: What would you do to boost economic activity?

A: Council has made a very good first step in setting up economic zones where new businesses can establish in Oliver and are given a lower tax rate for a specified time.  Going forward, I would like to see the concerted effort to market Oliver to new businesses and families that I discussed in a previous answer.

Q: If you could change one thing in Oliver, what would it be and why?

A: While Oliver is the Wine Capital of Canada, what is it to tourists and potential residents that don’t like wine?  We should market Oliver as the entire package, a safe, clean, vibrant town that has so many more things to offer, including wine.

Q: How can we enhance tourism?

A: Much of tourism’s benefit to a town is when the tourists stay in your town. Oliver has motels and campgrounds to accommodate our tourists but no hotel. Council’s adoption of economic zones will help to take away a barrier to building in Oliver. However, no hotel will invest in Oliver unless they see that it is a viable opportunity. A concerted effort to market Oliver not only as the Wine Capital of Canada, but also as a golf, agri-tourism and fitness playground will enhance our chances of getting a hotel for Oliver.

Q: What more can we do to accommodate summer transients?

A: The mayor and the BC Fruit Growers’ Association are doing a good job helping to accommodate these temporary workers. It is somewhat of a double standard that the temporary workers from other countries that work under a temporary visa program must be given accommodation by their employers, while the Canadian agriculture workers are left to fend for themselves. Perhaps another camping spot for agricultural workers closer to town would be of benefit.

Q: Pick one problem in Oliver and offer a solution.

A: Town land that has been designated for low cost housing should be sold for $1 to any service club or organization that can commit to building within two years. The service club (Habitat for Humanities, etc.) could partner with other levels of government  to get the project built.