Draw and retain a new and targeted workforce:
It’s no secret that we need to do some recruiting in order to meet the needs of our growing city, and in order for that to happen we have to make Kamloops more attractive to the professional demographics we need to support a healthy and prosperous community.
Fortunately, as a municipal government we have plenty of opportunities to adjust our approach.
Rethinking how we encourage and approve developments, incentivizing professionals through creative advantages, prioritizing opportunities for recreation and arts and culture, and building stronger partnerships with various sectors and other levels of government that can address issues outside of municipal control are all agenda items I will prioritize as a city councillor.
This is an incredible place to call home, but we need to make sure that Kamloopsians (old and new) are able to build a full life here. We need to be a place where everyone can thrive.
Support innovative and advantageous development:
Development, particularly housing, is currently our most pressing issue in Kamloops, especially because addressing general housing effectively will begin alleviating some of the other social issues our community is faced with.
We need to listen to the expertise of builders who have been telling us that arbitrary and blanket requirements, inefficient processes, and unnecessary bureaucracy are barriers to building the affordable homes that our population needs.
It’s past time to implement creative ways to cut red tape, change arduous zoning complexities, and decrease permit processing time. Co-operative housing, tiny home subdivisions, multi-family housing (ie. condos, duplex/triplex/fourplex, etc.), and other entry-level housing options (and making them possible) for the missing middle is necessary.
With only 3% of available land to build on in Kamloops, we are also faced with a serious lack of options and need to explore innovative solutions for unlocking land.
Large capital projects also need to be initiated in Kamloops, particularly as we haven’t built a facility of significant scale in almost 30 years. For example, I am in favour of a Performing Arts Centre. I wrote a public column several years ago about why, but the Cliff Notes go like this: the Arts matter, this facility is desperately needed and will be utilized, it must be accessible, it’s a vital piece of a thriving economy, a robust business plan and funding model is paramount, timing is now everything, and “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”.
Cast a proactive (not reactive) vision for the future:
If we want to get ahead, we must build a culture of "YES!" and turn away from the habit of "No".
We must say:
✔️YES to greater collaboration with our key partners like Tourism Kamloops, Venture Kamloops, Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc, Canadian Home Builders' Association Central Interior, meaningful Engagement Groups, and others whose expertise should lead the way.
✔️YES to new ideas with sound business cases.
✔️YES to plans that secure the safety of the people of Kamloops (ie. continuum of care plans for seniors, appropriate evacuation plans for neighbourhoods and populations, citizens on patrol, etc.)
✔️YES to doing upstream work and not just managing downstream crises.
✔️YES to a new ways of doing things that challenge a historical norm that is no longer serving us well.
✔️YES to an honest examination of what is impeding our progress, and "YES" to the difficult decisions that will move us forward.
Only when we lead with an intelligent "YES!" can we move into the possibility of, "How?"
If our default position as a city continues to be that of depressed resignation, we will see more years pass and more issues compound.
But if we lead with the belief that "everything is figureoutable", then, YES!, figure it out we shall.
Action informed by community consultation:
When planning for the future and making “ big picture” decisions it’s vital that we gather the most critical information. After all, studies and reports are useful for drawing conclusions and measuring results, but it’s all for not if it doesn’t intersect with community consultation or deliverable action.
An example of this is a Cold Weather Shelter.
Our PIT count helps us to understand how many vulnerable people will need a safe, warm place to escape to when the temps drop and the snow flies - it’s our moral and civic responsibility to care for all people in our community.
But do we also consider the impacts to the neighbouring businesses and residents and support them in anticipating how their needs for safety and well-being might also change?
Or do we have the numbers but still fail to plan ahead, and then implement solutions for some without the consultation of all impacted?
A community that works, works for everyone.
When we commission studies, we need to ensure they’re accompanied by a time bound, actionable plan, that includes communication with all who will be impacted.
If you want a project to be successful, every stakeholder needs to be involved and feel like their voice is being heard. That doesn’t mean you don’t build the shelter, it means you plan for it in a way that considers the needs of all citizens.
Equitable, comprehensive, and practical supports for challenging community issues
Addressing housing effectively will begin alleviating some of the pressing issues facing our community, but others require an approach that interconnects/consolidates wrap-around services and/or removes the greatest impacts to the public.
Evidence shows that we can’t warehouse people in buildings and expect change to occur; we need policy that regulates the disbursement of tenants of supportive housing, prioritizing units for those seeking recovery.
Let’s also critically examine the execution of harm reduction (meant to be 1 of a 4 pillared approach: treatment, harm reduction, enforcement, and prevention) and rebuild strategies to improve the devastation of addiction and overdose by working with qualified service providers and local social service agencies.
Paramount is the truth that the rate and impacts of crime we are currently experiencing in Kamloops is not normal and it is not okay. City council should increase pressure as we continue to work with and advocate to other levels of government to aggressively discontinue “catch and release” and enforce consequences for prolific offenders. Additionally, we should further explore working in partnership with the RCMP to implement the Citizens on Patrol program.
Let’s find practical ways to build the connections that inspire individuals at the neighbourhood level to build community, contribute to solutions, and feel less alone.
The needs of local businesses:
Traditionally, with the support of organizations like the Kamloops & District Chamber of Commerce and Venture Kamloops, self advocacy has generally been effective for meeting the needs of local businesses.
Being an entrepreneur is no joke, and the business owners in our beautiful city are some of the most dedicated, generous, committed, and hardest working people I know.
They are an economic driver and the backbone of our city.
But this summer, as I’ve spent time listening to many local businesses throughout the city, I’ve heard the same theme, “What we’re dealing with is beyond the pale, and our voice needs to be heard”.
There are factors that cannot be addressed at the local level and require advocacy from our municipal government to provincial and federal entities, but there are also also issues that need to be managed locally.
Both of those things need to happen with greater urgency.
It is far beyond what should be considered normal for “mom and pop” shops to be targets of bold and repeated criminality, expected to regularly clean up human waste and drug paraphernalia on their doorsteps, continuously face critical levels of staffing shortages, and more.
We need to work with all levels of government, our local businesses, nonprofit agencies, and the RCMP to find new and creative solutions to the issues that are making it challenging to keep the staff of these businesses safe and operations possible so that their doors can stay open.
We need them.
Children and families:
Mother Teresa once said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family”.
When moving through my life and work, I’m cognizant that what shapes lives is often what happens behind closed doors.
Despite the apathy of our siloed, disconnected culture, if we are to be a community that changes the sad and scary trajectory we’re currently on, then we must all become uncomfortable and participate in the correction process.
Enough blaming, dividing, complaining, marginalizing, and pontificating. Enough self indulgence.
We must be rise above what we’ve collectively become if we truly want what we say we do - change.
No one is exempt from reaching further, working harder, and doing better when it comes to loving those both in our homes and in our wider community.
We must all be advocates for tomorrow.
Children who are vulnerable need a better chance than the hand they’ve been dealt. Families who are struggling need to see hope restored.
As Mayor and Council, we must work closely with our School Board (meeting a few times a year is not enough), evaluate and connect food security solutions, examine the gaps in systems that are creating vulnerabilities, employ opportunities for intergenerational engagement and mentorship, appeal with a unified voice to senior government for more adequate funding, and solve our childcare crisis.
Mother Teresa also said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”.
If you are fortune enough to have a home and a family that fills it, go home and love them.
Then get out of your comfort zone and join me at the river’s edge where we can cast stones to create ripples so that our future can be brighter than our present.
It isn’t a pipe dream, it’s what’s possible. And we have no time to lose.
Advocate for health and safety and strengthen the external partnerships that can create meaningful change:
There are some things we can do at the local level to improve the unacceptable rate of crime: petition the new RCMP Superintendent to instate the Citizens on Patrol program, support neighbourhood initiatives that put more eyes on problems, continue funding innovative partnership solutions between Business Improvement Associations and the City, build up our CSO program, and more.
There are some things we can do at the local level to improve healthcare: build a livable city that qualified professionals want to move to, continue exploring incentives and cost reductions for physicians and their operations, build strength at the neighborhood level to reduce isolation and create connection, and more.
But, at the end of the day, the big moves that need to be made in these areas are at the provincial and federal level.
We must have a coordinated approach between all three levels of our government representation so that Kamloops has an unignorable voice as we demand:
✔️ The end of catch and release,
✔️ Real consequences for prolific offenders,
✔️ Substantial improvements with Interior Health, specifically in the Kamloops region,
✔️ Accessible mental health and treatment supports,
✔️ A complex care facility,
✔️ Funding for the projects we need, not the ones we’re arbitrarily issued,
and so much more.
We need to be relentlessly dedicated to the success of Kamloops today and indifferent to any political aspirations of tomorrow.
And we need to build up those already doing the work.
Knowing the scope and limitations of your office and requiring others to do their job isn’t passing the buck, it’s knowing your business.
It’s how to get the right things done.
As mayor and council of Kamloops, we need
to stay in our lane so that we can work on the issues effectively, on behalf of the people of Kamloops.