Through Collaboration and Strong Leadership.
"Those who take action have a disproportionate impact. The power of one is to move many."
Elizabeth May, leader of the Green party
Kari has been part of this community for many years, working tirelessly to make it a better place both in work, volunteerism and as a leader on Vernon City Council.
Born and raised in the Okanagan, Kari has seen much change. Growth is inevitable but we can help to mold our Community into a area that not only attracts newcomers but provide
Kari has been part of this community for many years, working tirelessly to make it a better place both in work, volunteerism and as a leader on Vernon City Council.
Born and raised in the Okanagan, Kari has seen much change. Growth is inevitable but we can help to mold our Community into a area that not only attracts newcomers but provides an opportunity for those who are already here.
Kari is not just a business owner, she is a mother, sister, wife and friend. Her two boys would be classified as 4th generation Vernonites so her roots are deep. Her family came here from Poland & Ireland. They left war and political upheaval so that they could provide new beginnings for their kids. She comes from a long line of Politicians, Farmers, Builders and Entrepreneurs - including everything in between. Her Family taught her the value of hard work and to give back to a community that has embraced them on their first arrival here. They taught her that no limit is too great as long as you have determination and a passion to see things through. That is why Kari is running for another term on Council as there is still so much left to do.
Kari has been committed to being an active participant in her Community through sports; and other non-profit organizations.
It has been a great honor representing the citizens of Vernon over these last 4 years. This term has seen significant challenges due to Covid-19 that have slowed down many processes; displaced employees due to lockdowns and tested the strength and resolve of every resident. But, despite these many challenges, this Council has delivered on
It has been a great honor representing the citizens of Vernon over these last 4 years. This term has seen significant challenges due to Covid-19 that have slowed down many processes; displaced employees due to lockdowns and tested the strength and resolve of every resident. But, despite these many challenges, this Council has delivered on many initiatives that have helped to promote collaboration, engagement, responsibility, and transparency while adhering to those principles that are set out to protect important wildlife corridors, parks, and trails.
I have taken great care in putting in the time which includes engaging with residents on matters that are important to them; researching where necessary before rendering a decision on any subject matter; and taking a strong leadership role in helping move Vernon forward. Vernon has a rich history that should be preserved but we cannot do this at the expense of not being inclusive. We must embrace our differences and strive to be open, inclusive and respectful when developing policy. We must take great care in understanding how our decisions may impact those around us; but, we must not choose to sit idle. It takes a collective team of elected officials, stakeholders and community members to create a vibrant and sustainable community that fosters economic development; culturally inclusive neighborhoods; and encourages climate awareness and practices in order to protect the beauty of where we live!
In addition, Council has looked at many initiatives that would provide economic relief to our business community as many, if not all, struggled due to COVID-19 restrictions, while promoting strategies that would help to strengthen economic growth all while making it a priority to develop & implement a strategic plan that will address the housing crisis. As we all know, a strong and diverse business community can only be achieved if we can deliver on providing affordable and safe housing as many businesses have struggled and will continue to struggle if they are unable to find housing solutions to attract and retain talent.
We are building a better tomorrow by encouraging a multitude of housing options; improving our recreational facilities; developing new parks and green spaces so all children have a place to learn, grown and engage; and making a commitment to improve on our Development Processes so that we can become a Community that welcomes growth through creating an atmosphere that fosters development. This will be further enhanced by establishing a Strategic Housing Platform that will address core issues such as:
1. Developer Confidence in the Market
2. Land Availability
3. Create a Funding Mechanism that allows for the acquisition of dedicated affordable lands
4. Encourage Purpose Built Rentals amongst the development community
5. Continue to Collaborate with upper levels of Government including regional partners, stakeholders and community members
We must also ensure that we have proper facilities, amenities and infrastructure that deals with the growing needs of tomorrow. Initiatives such as the Active Living Centre & the Kin Race Track Athletic Park, in addition to the Polson Park Master Plan, will help to replace aging infrastructure and ensure capacity for future growth. A facility such as this ensures that all community members will have access to safe and affordable options for their health and well-being. Furthermore, adequate recreational facilities provide a base for not only families, but it creates a strong economic foundation that attracts sustainable growth in the long-term.
Although there are many important initiatives that will be brought forward
I need your help in order to continue the great work we have done over the last 4 years. You can help through word-of-mouth, participating on our campaign team and/or donating to ensure we can achieve our goals together.
There is still much to do and I need your help to make it happen.
We accept the following payment methods should you wish to make a campaign contribution to help Kari get elected:
E-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org or send a cheque to #4 4205 27th St Vernon BC V1T 4Y3 made payable to: Kari Gares Campaign.
For all donations exceeding $50 - your personal information will be noted on a Financial Disclosure Statement as per Election BC rules. We cannot accept donations from Corporations or Organizations. Personal donations only.
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A financial case being made for why development is important to a growing community such as our.
"Rising costs are impacting everyone, including cities. Municipalities are not allowed to run deficits, they must ensure that revenue matches expenses. A city's ability to raise revenue is almost exclusively limited to property taxes. That means to increase revenue to council has to raise the mill rate or increase the value of each property.
Increasing the mill rate means that every Vernon homeowner pays higher taxes.
Increasing the value of each property is done by ensuring properties are improved to their highest and best use, following city building best practices. Not every property is a candidate for re-development and the OCP clearly identifies where density is appropriate.
For example, if you took a 3.75-acre parcel under-improved with a single house built in 1950. This parcel is on a busy road, close to commercial, and the services are appropriately sized to handle increased densification to 90 townhomes—a candidate for re-development.
Unimproved, this parcel is paying $2554.00 in municipal taxes, with total taxes of $5050.
When improved with 90 townhomes this same property now generates $150,869 in municipal taxes and $314,460 in total taxes, assuming an average value of $550,000 each. That is a 60 x annuity to the city, for the same sized parcel, without increasing the mill rate which impacts all Vernon residents.
Now, 90 new ratepayers are contributing to the already constructed services. If offsite upgrades are required, they are paid by the developer, who will also contribute $1,103,000 in DCCs. What's more, this is now a strata, so there are no operating costs to the city for maintenance of the roads or pipes and garbage is private pick-up. Encouraging re-development this is the most financial responsible way to grow a city.
This is just the financial business case. It does not take into consideration the social benefits of increasing housing options in Vernon in a missing middle format or the environmental benefits of building a tighter denser city—the triple net bottom line of city building. " - Voter
Until we recognize that housing is a core need we will continue to fall behind the demand. In turn, costs will continue to rise as will market values. Taxes will continue to rise and our citizens will continue to feel the effects of our delayed response to a growing problem.
Development does not have to be the bad guy in the equation. When following smart growth principles and utilizing best practices we can build a more greener, cleaner, sustainable community where we all benefit.
I have always said that those who are lucky enough to represent their Community have, hopefully, lead by example. Showed leadership, were innovative, disciplined, and were sound communicators.
For those seeking re-election, like myself, we are gauged by additional metrics: we are measured by our actions or inactions and these actions could mean something different for different people because we must be diverse in our viewpoints. We cannot be stuck in a lane that only focuses on one issue as most issues intersect with each at some point in time.
Housing is a great example of this. We are in a housing crisis that requires ingenuity, vision and a commitment to implement strategies that target the core issue - streamlined development. Housing, or lack thereof, is central to many of the problems our community is facing: job retention & attraction; economic development; affordable issues; increased social issues such as poverty and homelessness. This is only but a small sample of issues that grow when housing is not considered a core need.
So, this election MATTERS more than some would truly know. We need a council that is on the same page. A council that can connect the dots and envision outcomes - good or bad, so that they can pivot and/or adjust. And we need a Council that is proactive. Waiting for staff to find the solution is ill-advised; and frankly, that is not what we were elected to do. We were elected to lead, listen, interpret, create and implement based on community needs and wants. We have to have our finger on the pulse and that requires a willingness to pay attention no matter how challenging.
So yes, this election matters as you have the ability to elect a team that can address the issues and who are creative enough to develop strategies in hopes of addressing the problem.
We need a team willing to put their differences aside and work collaboratively to #movevernonforward.
So, I ask that you put your trust in me and allow me the opportunity to lead with conviction for the betterment of all community members by re-electing Kari Gares for Vernon City Council.
Although this video was done for the 2018 election, its statement is as relevant today as it was then. It also goes to heart of my pledge last election which was to build facilities and amenities that would help to keep our youth engaged.
Can I stand behind this statement? Absolutely! Here are the things that this Council has done to put families and youth first in our Community:
1. Bringing a new Active Living Centre to a referendum this October. This new facility will house a new 50m body of water that can me modified depending on the programs being offered. In so doing, we will help to increase program capacity so that more youth can have access to this very important facility! As mentioned previously, a local pool is one such amenity that allows a variety of users under more equitable and affordable conditions. We have a responsibility to provide affordable recreational facilities to all members of our Community.
2. This Council has set aside 10 million from the Legacy Fund, in addition to another 6 million over the next 3 years, to help design and construction the new Kin Race Track Athletic Park. This new facility will see a variety of recreational uses such as 2 new ball diamonds, 2 new artificial turf fields, basketball and volleyball courts, walking trails and a dog park to name only a few. As a parent with 2 young boys, we saw our fair share of travelling - especially when our boys found themselves at opposite ends of town. A newly created Athletic Park will provide much reprieve to those families who find themselves in the same situation. We are building a lasting Legacy for our Community.
3. We worked hard to bring an artificial turf floor to Kal Tire North. We have now seen, first hand, the economic benefits of investing in such amenities. Vernon was finally able to host a Provincial Lacrosse tournament that used both Kal Tire Place and Kal Tire North. This tournament brought 28 Teams to our area. And because they did not have to travel between Vernon & Armstrong, we saw many of these families attend many events such as the Farmer's Market; enjoyed our beaches, stayed in our hotels, and frequented our shops and eateries.
4. We have invested in trail connections and new parks. One such park is the newly created Jumpstart Accessible Park at Marshall Fields. This park will allow all children with varying abilities to engage, learn and play. Investing in our children needs to be a priority.
5. Constructing the new Civic Memorial Park (in honor of the Civic Arena). By constructing a park in the heart of down town, we are ensuring that local children will have a safe a secure place to play. With the connector routes: pedestrian paths and bike paths, we have created an environment that allows our youth to access these facilities in a more secure mode of transportation.
6. In collaboration with the RDNO, we have added numerous green spaces to our trail system including: a 2 acre parcel of land just North of the Alpine Centre; 4 acres of parkland along Davison Rd and 3.6 acres of trail right away for the Grey Canal Trail. These important connector pieces will provide a continuous trail system from Polson Park to Kal Beach and from Turtle Mountain to Bella Vista/Okanagan Hills.
7. A new walking trail that will connect the Foothills Development to the City (which will also include BX Elementary School). This project provides a safe and accessible pathway that will allow children to walk to and from school safely.
This Council has committed to youth and families through their 4 Year Strategic Plan. But it takes vision and dedication to forge ahead. First, you must understand the importance of such facilities and have the fortitude to push forward. By building a more accessible and inclusive Community that sees our Youth as an important aspect to this vision, we can continue to stay focused on what would be required to meet this objective.
So for me, putting Family and Youth first is equally important today as it was yesterday and I will continue to fight for our children through the important initiatives that will continue to provide safe, accessible and affordable recreational amenities.
In 2018, I ran on a platform that would help deal with the affordable & attainable housing crisis. In the last 4 years, the City of Vernon has seen significant development - both in housing and in commercial development. I made a pledge that I would help promote sustainable development so that Vernon would be able to attract and retain talent so that we could grow our economy and help local small and mid-size businesses flourish.
It has been a busy but challenging term with the impacts caused by COVID-19 and the rolling lock downs imposed on many businesses across the Country including here in Vernon. COVID-19 created the perfect storm whereby the City saw a shortage in their own labor pool which helped to work against our commitment to building faster.
But with that said, the City of Vernon experienced record breaking building activity in 2021 surpassing over $173 Million in building permits and creating 371 new residential units. Major projects for 2021 include:
We do not yet have the final numbers for 2022 but it has been noted that we have already surpassed what we did this time last year. This Council has been busy in all areas of development but one special area is of great importance: working with BC Housing and other not for profits to build affordable housing for seniors, low income families and those with diverse abilities. I have put my 6 years of work advocating for Affordable Housing with the Vernon District & Land Trust (Okanagan Village Housing Society) to use in addition to my many years of experience in the mortgage lending world. I have a unique perspective given my direct contact with many within our community who struggle to secure safe and affordable housing. I've heard numerous stories that include loss of a rental home due to a landlord deciding to sell to businesses attracting new employment from outside our area to only find out there is nothing affordable. These stories and more resonate deeply with me as I hear them daily. I bare witness to the sadness, confusion, stress and anxiety that plaques many who find themselves without a home. These are our realities and they are worrisome and upsetting. How can we not work together to deliver on a promise to build more; advocate for more; and work toward a common goal.
This takes a lot of team work. A lot of perseverance and a huge commitment to shaking things up. I have advocated for numerous types of housing across the spectrum. In order to accomplish this task, we MUST encourage all forms of development. We also have to find ways to streamline our own processes to make it more efficient and user friendly for a developer/builder to build here. We have to become welcoming and we have to work with our neighbors to see much needed housing stock added to our inventory.