It's always a challenge to work to improve social issues in community - homelessness, mental health challenges, substance use disorder. There are not easy fixes here. These issues also sometimes cause social disorder and criminal activity. Often our most vulnerable citizens are preyed upon and become victims of crime.
Over the past years, Kamloops council and city hall management have increased our capacity to work on social issues. We haven't seen ourselves as a primary funder and have worked hard to facilitate and coordinate effective work. We have had a lot of successes relatively recently helping secure more social housing in the community.
Unfortunately, the challenges for our most vulnerable citizens have increased. This was the trend before Covid and Covid has made it much more challenging. Social disorder has increased. And there seems to be less accountability for really bad behaviour and criminal activity.
Since the beginning of the year, the discussions at Kamloops council on helping our most vulnerable and decreasing social disorder have really ramped up. In conjunction with our provincial partners at BC Housing, we've funded more security patrols, we are looking to help fund more outreach workers, build more public bathrooms, and we're advocating to the provincial government for a whole range of services to again help our most vulnerable citizens. Housing we know is only a first step. We also think it's important that the criminal justice system work as well at it can to decrease criminal activity.
We have both an empathetic approach and an accountability approach. A well rounded approach I hope.
I applaud my council and city staff colleagues for their willingness to engage in tough conversations that we really haven't had in the same way before. Working with the RCMP, Interior Health, valued social agencies, and business association, we have historically done well in assisting people and decreasing negative impacts. Now, like many other communities, we are being challenged in a big way to continue being successful. I think it's going to be hard and I believe we will succeed.
I am sure we have made missteps and mistakes. I think we are open to thoughtful feedback. I am struck by the passion in my council colleagues to try to be of service in the best ways we can.
I know many of us are seeing more negative activity in the community than we have seen before. It was always there but it was more hidden. Now we perhaps have the awareness which will lead to greater motivation for lasting solutions. Vigilantism isn't a solution. Moving people along endlessly isn't a solution. Business storefronts with piles of garbage, discarded needles, and human feces isn't a solution. Maybe the storm we are going through now is an opportunity to really think together about the best and most lasting solutions that honours the most citizens possible.
People rightly look to city council for representation, leadership, and assistance. I'd love to hear what you think about the issues and opportunities outlined above. This, however, is something in which all of us have to engage. Take the best care you can of yourselves, your family, and your possessions. And also think about what are the best solutions for the most people. If we are committed to getting though this time together, I believe there are much better times ahead with regards to our social issues.
I initially framed this motion with a cycling focus. Actually, our active transportation paths in Kamloops should also accommodate walkers and people with different mobility challenges.
I am excited that this will come up for discussion at council at our first meeting in 2021, on Jan 12th.
Presented by Councillor Singh
Notice of Motion for January 12, 2021
2021 Year of the Cyclist
WHEREAS Council set a goal to reduce community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% by 2050;
AND WHEREAS Kamloops’ community transportation accounts for 66% of the City’s GHG emissions;
AND WHEREAS the high and medium priorities in the City’s Transportation Master Plan will take 20 years to complete based on current Active Transportation budget allotment;
AND WHEREAS cycling reduces GHG emissions, is more cost effective, and has enormous benefits in providing social determinants to health;
AND WHEREAS the introduction and availability of electric bicycles have impacted active transportation in terms of offering a viable commuting option;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Council:
Makes a lot of sense. We are still living with quite a bit of uncertainty. Much ability to make personal decisions. Helping people get the right info and trying to assess where there are gaps and people who need further support.
A little video about Week 6 of the Covid 19 pandemic measures....
- completely unexpected times
- settling into this uncertainty
- lots of resources and support available
- the whole word united, perhaps ceasefires?
- what lessons are we learning? How are we doing?
- offer of support
This Covid19 virus is the most serious public health emergency I've ever seen.
I also understand there is a lot we can do to avoid the worst outcomes and come out of this in the best possible situation.
I've spent the morning watching updates from the federal and provincial governments and BC and Canada's health officers.
The best advice right now is to wash your hands with soap regularly for 20 seconds, don't touch your face with unwashed hands, cough into the crook of your elbow, stay home much more, and maintain physical distance from others while out and about.
This will slow down the spread of Covid19 and keep our health care resources more able to serve people who get very sick.
The Prime Minister advises to stay home unless completely necessary, the BC government has banned gatherings of more than 50 people, and the US federal government is advising against gathering in groups more than 10 people.
The City of Kamloops opened up the emergency operations centre today. This is how we coordinate, sometimes minute by minute, city hall's response going forward.
You can read more here - https://www.kamloops.ca/safety-…/emergency-programs/covid-19
There will be frequent updates going forward from city hall, I am confident. I would advise a bit of patience as we get this first day or two under our belt.
We have an incredible and experienced emergency response staff, who I have worked with closely. I have great confidence in their advice and abilities. We have a great Mayor and Council and I know we will work together to do all we can to assist citizens in this time.
When Prime Minister Trudeau shared that no relationship was more important to him than the federal government's relationship with indigenous peoples, I don't think he assumed it was going to be easy to prioritize this relationship.
When the BC government, under the leadership of Premier John Horgan, became the first jurisdiction in Canada to enshrine the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into legislation, I also don't think he thought giving life to these principles in practice would always be easy.
The current RCMP enforcement of court injunctions to halt a blockade that impedes the construction of the Coastal Gas Link natural gas pipeline on Wet'suwet'en territory has led to a number of protests and blockades across Canada.
First, historically, I feel very lucky to live in a time in which governments are trying to work through these issues as opposed to simply enforcing a colonial system of governance. The RCMP enforcement in 1960 or 1970 or 1990 would have been, in my view, a lot more violent than it has been in 2020. In fact, in 2020, the RCMP and policing agencies across the country have been very careful (so far, successfully) in trying to avoid violence.
So many protests have unfolded unhindered, Cabinet ministers and high government officials have been active in trying to find solutions. Reconciliation in practice can be very challenging but it is alive and well.
Wet'suwet'en Hereditary chiefs challenge to the present routing of the Coastal Gas Link pipeline is especially difficult. The Hereditary chiefs have been recognized by the courts as having authority and standing in issues regarding Wet'suwet'en territory but the courts also did not decide specifically the extent and limits of this authority.
Almost all the Wet'suwet'en elected councils support the pipeline as so most of the other indigenous communities along the pipeline route. Many are hopeful for the job and economic development opportunities.
So, there's a division of opinion between indigenous communities involved. And this is a division that people within those communities are obviously best to solve.
Those of us non-indigenous folks protesting or supporting the construction of Coastal gas link should be thoughtful and restrained, given the division in opinion among indigenous peoples and the spectre that this conflict could get worse and have even greater negative impacts.
Of course, this current conflict could lead onto a pathway towards greater consensus and cooperation. Crises can often lead to greater opportunities.
Different experts and pundits express different opinions on the validity of different points here. It can be very complex and confusing. At a very human level, though, people are in conflict. And the only way this can be solved is by working with each other.
And, in order this to work, we need to see this not as a winners and losers situations but as an "all of society" conversation where we need to really listen to each other, respect each other, and commit to being in community together. I don't how seeing people with opposing views as enemies will practically get us anywhere productive. We will keep fighting and each "side" has enough power and weight to prevent any "winner" to emerge.
Let's instead seize an opportunity of this moment. To get off the metaphorical battlefields and sit in talking circles and meeting rooms. To do the hard work of reconciliation in action.
It is always a challenge to distill thoughts for a whole year into something easily digestible.
It is important though to try. Not only to do intentional thinking myself but also very importantly to solicit input and ideas from whoever would like to offer them.
I begin this year with hope and a can do attitude. In a time where there is a lot of anxiety, divisive, and negativity, I will anchor my service in all the experiences I have had in my life which showcased confidence, collaboration, and positivity.
And there have been so many in my life and significantly in my service on Kamloops city council. I see local government culture as a tremendous force for good. We are taught to agree well and disagree well. We work so closely with citizens.
We have amazing people in Kamloops. The recent news that we are the most giving community in Canada on the Gofundme website confirms what so many of us see every day. The people in Kamloops, as a group, are sensible, thoughtful, caring, and open minded.
I think where this is a gap in experience and understanding between citizens and those they elect, among them, to represent the community it is primarily the responsibility of the elected representatives to bridge that gap. That is why I will always try to engage respectfully and thoughtfully with those we represent. Ultimately, obviously, the community as a whole is in the drivers seat through their choices at election time.
There are a lot of hopeful (and challenging:) )projects and issues city council will be working on in 2020.
1) Arts Centre Referendum: In a referendum this coming April, City council will be asking the community to consider borrowing money to help fund the building of a new arts centre in Kamloops. There is a lot of demonstrated support for this project - a foundational donor in the Fawcett family, support from all the major arts organizations in the city, and unanimous city council support. There are also concerns with city spending, lack of parking, and a centre that will only serve a subset of the population. I look forward to outlining why I think the arts centre is a very good project and to engaging with concerns raised.
2) Economic Development: Economic development, from a city council perspective, is tricky. Entrepreneurs are in the driver seat here. We have many foundational, high paying industries in transition in our natural resources sector. I love one of the strategies of the Kamloops Innovation Centre to help natural resource businesses create more value and be more efficient through the appropriate use of technology. The City of Kamloops funds an arms length economic development agency that does great work in my view but it's hard to really come up with great metrics, often due to the confidentiality economic development clients want to maintain. We are fortunate to have a very diverse economic base not dependent one on big business or one key sector. Within the city's development services and business permitting departments, we hopefully will be taking an intentional look in 2020 at any unnecessary or unnecessarily unfriendly practices and regulations. As local government consultant Tracey Lee Lorenson has shared, probably the best thing city council can do to be business friendly is to govern well, fairly, and consistently.
3) Community Climate Action Plan: This is a plan, on a strategic level, that I have been quite involved with shaping and formulating. As we are seeing again with the huge wildfires in Australia, the consequences of not reducing greenhouse gases are immense. I say this not as an activist but as someone whose public service job it is to look at evidence, evaluate it fairly and comprehensively, and help make decisions on behalf of this community. My learnings on climate action work also lead me to a strong belief we have to be as inclusive as possible and not polarizing or alienating. This work is huge and requires to be considerate of everyone as we undertake it. It also requires heartfelt and honest conversations of where we are, where we need to get to, and how together we can get to where we need to go. The engagement on the Kamloops community climate action plan will start fully in 2020. The work to prepare for community engagement has been robust and there have also been some bumps in the road. Council has set a strategic goal of 80% emissions reductions by 2050 and have directed city staff to provide options within this climate action plan to achieve that goal.
4) Homelessness, mental health, addictions: When the provincial government launched their latest housing initiatives in 2017, Kamloops council and senior staff worked very hard to align ourselves with those initiatives to build more social housing locally. I am proud of our work which helped secure more than 100 more homes. However, I am also heartbroken that the magnitude and complexity of the issues that lead to homelessness outpaced our work on housing. More and more, I worry about our citizens who are without a home, who as my friend Cynthia Travers says are home free. I see housing more people, keeping more people safe even when outside, will require more non traditional approaches. This even more tricky as social services are seen as primarily a provincial government responsibility. I want to learn a lot more this year about what we might be able to do as a community to really end functional homelessness. I want to keep in better touch with the amazing people who work day to day serving our most vulnerable.
These are just four broad topics and some initiatives within them. Most of these are very large and complex. They contain as many opportunities as they do challenges. I have sketched some broad outlines and will be writing in more detail about these and many other opportunities, ideas, challenges, and issues this year.
I know a lot of people in Kamloops think downtown parking is a problem.
I've even characterized it as a problem from time to time. I've called it a good problem, a sign of a healthy downtown, but a problem nonetheless.
So why do I think we need to think very carefully about adding new parking downtown?
My answer to this question centres around two concerns really. One is climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The most impactful measures we can take to reduce our personal greenhouse gas emissions is to drive less. Yes, electric cars are more and more viable and available. But, I believe we also need to think carefully about where we can find good alternatives to driving for transportation. It is so culturally ingrained in us to get in our cars. It important we think twice about this. It can be really helpful for our environment and our climate.
The second is that there is actually right now a surplus of parking spots downtown, even at the busiest times. This was confirmed by parking spot counts conducted recently in downtown Kamloops. Yes, these spots involve some walking sometimes. I wonder if people would really mind walking if they knew this was saving community money (to build more spots), helping downtown vibrancy (parking spots could be converted into pedestrian plazas, for example), and improving their own health.
I fully realize this is a difficult conversation potentially but it's an important one. I look forward to developing my own thoughts further and with engaging with lots of people on parking and transportation.
After many months and a hundred thousand dollars, at this week's council "committee of the whole" meeting, city staff presented what most would have thought would be the final draft of the downtown Kamloops transportation choices plan.
Almost always, final drafts of plans are approved as there has already been a lot of discussion, debate, and decision points.
Reading through the final draft before the meeting, I had strong concerns the plan wasn't ambitious enough in enabling citizens to choose to shift from driving cars as a single occupant to other methods of transportation.
But I thought mistakenly that I would be one of the few council members with concerns.
At the meeting, many other concerns came out. Chief among them, in my view, were that the plan unfairly targeted drivers, that engagement on the plan was not adequate, and that the plan contained statements that were not in keeping with modern values and the local economy.
I've rarely seen a discussion like this. It was sometimes pretty pointed and emotional. Many council members were quite critical of the plan as it was written and presented. The vote to approve the plan was defeated 5-4.
This left us all, and probably more so city staff, a little beat up and at a loss. Did things just go big time sideways?
After this investment in time and money, what would happen to the work done to this point.
This was very much on my mind as council unanimously decided to refer further discussion on downtown transportation planning to the council development and sustainability committee. Hopefully, those of us who are on this committee can discuss and recommend downtown transportation initiatives that will get council approval.
The council discussion this week was actually immensely helpful. Every council member shared a bit more about their considered views and values. As we move forward to try to get overall council approval, we can hopefully craft a better and more durable set of actions and policies based on the robust, frank, and deeper dive discussion we had this week. I think we learnt a lot about how this council currently feels and thinks and thats very important learning.
I am hoping this building can be as energy efficient as possible and that the public subsidy is kept as low as possible.
Can this building actually have no net operating subsidy? A very ambitious goal for a public facility.
The forecast now is that there would be no net tax increase to fund the public share of constructing the building. The "mortgage" we have been paying for the Tournament Capital facilities is coming off and can be rolled over into a performing arts centre project.
That leaves operating costs. Right now, the business case calls for $703 000 taxpayer contribution in year one, decreasing to $383 000 taxpayer contribution in year five.
There is a lot of amazing plans for this proposed venue.
The Kamloops Centre of the Arts Society's website is full of great information. The key aspect, it seems to me, is whether there is general support for the capital and operating contributions (which are listed as maximums in the business case) among Kamloops citizens.
We made another one! Kathy Sinclair and I spent about 11 minutes talking about:
The white arrow in the orange button below will play this podcast...
It took me some time to post this. At the end of May, Kathy Sinclair and I were joined by Dale Bass and Mike O'Reilly to on the second episode of our podcast "Kamloops Councillors talk about Civility". This one runs 20 minutes. Here is a rough outline of the conversation:
a passionate call to action on climate action
- in 2015, green party platform adhered most to FCM goals
- long term stable infrastructure funding
- not just money, seat at a table
- council of Canadian governments, 4 orders of governments
- must not let politicians divide us
- one country, one family
- all hands on deck
- shoutout to climate caucus
- climate issue is emergency, a security issue
- holding global average temp rise is 1.5 can't be missed. Can't negotiate with planet
- Greta Thunberg the real leader , mobilizing millions of young children
- there are hard choices ahead
- BC now has a smoke season
- extreme weather
- non partisan issue
- may 1940, wwII, Winston Churchill. Only parallel time
- live in an incredible country
- municipal leaders are fabric of country
- deserve a federal partner who will work with you on big challlenges
- 2 challenges : climate change and growing inequality
- outdated funding system for municipalities
- need true federal partner who will stand up with you and give you tools you need
- good jobs, secure futures while moving to sustainability. More opportunity not less
- respecting indigenous rights
- a Canada where all family's can live well now and into future generations
- kids worried desperately about future
- lots of incredibly negative impacts of climate change
- green innovation
- municipalities influence half the emissions in Canada.
- ndp environmental plan released, also to reduce inequality and create good jobs. Public transit a big part.
- permanent allocation based funding for transit in all communities across Canada. Took the idea from FCM advocacy
- zero emission buses and low carbon trains
- expand bus services between rural communities
- low cost retrofit financing for public buildings
- massive concerns around inequality. People working hard but still falling behind. Growing insecurity. Leads to intolerance and fear.
- ppl need healthcare, good job, housing, clean air and water
- Ford govt slashing money to local governments. Most vulnerable citizens are the ones hurt
- believe passionately in public service
- pharmacare for all
- build half a million new affordable homes in 10 years
- access to post secondary
- infrastructure, stable funding
- affordable internet and wireless all over Canada
(Not necessarily comprehensive)
.- helping Cdns get ahead, not just get by
- FCM very important
- less than 13% of infrastructure funds have gone out under Liberals
- infrastructure program not well managed
- unplanned and unmanaged deficits . Conservatives will get this fixed
- will work with provinces AND municipalities
- invest in programs that actually are infrastructure
- will release soon the most comprehensive climate action / environment plan ever by an opposition party
- conservatives will scrap carbon tax, which does not work, is autocratic and unjust, and costs more
- stress test impacting affordability of housing
- need more homes at lower prices
- reduce regulations on builders
- opoid crisis must be addressed in two manifestations, health and public safety
- Canada must stop fentanyl imports from China
- crack down on gangs, gun laws that don't target law abiding people. Will also focus on those with mental health issues.
- won't put more laws on those who follow the laws
- municipal lens will be taken into account into decisions
- decentralized decision making, not Ottawa knows best
- will secure rural broadband .
- pm engaging in fear campaign
- govt living within its means
- runaway deficits not good for future decision-making
- many conservative candidates come from local govt
- local govt are vital partners to achieve Federal objectives
- middle class
- retirement secure
- communities are strength and force of our country
- Federal government as partner to local govt
- we've seen promises broken by some provinces
- infrastructure funding priority for this mandate , moved quickly early
- clean water a right
- homelessness and affordability changes
- national housing strategy
- Hamilton housing homeless successes
- true partner
- climate action - 1 billion to FCM green municipal fund
- extreme weather
- 5000 projects approved versus 793 in last conservative mandate
- dig at Premier Ford
- double gas tax this year
- conservative cuts, warning. Cautionary tale
- don't go back to austerity
Fun to co-host this podcast with Councillor Kathy Sinclair!
Huge thanks to Mayor Ken Christian for asking me to chair this incredible council committee. We've realigned council committees to provide more policy guidance to the different departments at city hall. I'm joined by great councillors, Dieter Dudy and Sadie Hunter, and great staff, led by Development, Engineering, and Sustainability Director Marvin Kwiatkowski. Here is our first meeting agenda:
Some thoughts I recorded this morning....
It’s an honour to join Mayor Hamm and 100+ locally elected representatives from across Canada as we meet with our Federal colleagues. Travelling to Ottawa today...
South Kamloops Secondary School Students Forum
Oct 10th, School Library
1105am to 1210pm
Oct 10th, Colombo Lodge
5:30 – 6:30 : Registration
7:30 – Forum begins after Dinner
(centred around residential construction issues. May need to pay to get in)
Boys and Girls Club Youth Forum
Oct 11th, John Todd Centre Youth Room
4pm to 6pm
My name is Rory McKerchar and I run the youth program at the Kamloops Boys and Girls Club. With the municipal election coming up I am planning a forum for our youth, with the goal of getting them engaged in decision making in their communities. To make this a reality I am contacting you and others running for city council/mayor to attend this forum in order to share your vision for Kamloops and respond to questions from the youth.
Kamloops This Week Community Forum
Oct 15th, TRU Grand Hall
6:30pm to 9pm
will also be livestreaming the forum through Facebook Live for those who cannot attend in person - the stream will be available through KTW’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/kamloopsthisweek)
One of the challenges that has been identified in trying to host a forum with so many candidates is that candidates get relatively less time to address questions. To address this, our proposed format will be to conduct five "mini-forums" of 25 minutes each. The first forum will be for the mayoral candidates, and the other four will be for councillor candidates, with candidates being sorted into groups by random draw. The mayoral candidates will have opening and closing remarks of 2 minutes each with questions from the audience in between. The councillor candidate groups will have 1-minute opening and closing remarks for each candidate with questions from the audience in between. Draws of the councillor candidate groups and the order in which they appear will be conducted five minutes before the start of the forum.
Norkam Secondary Conversations with Councillors
October 17th, School Library
12:35pm to 1:25pm
We would like to set the library up in a roundtable discussion where our students will be able to ask questions to a variety of Councillors. Our students will participate in a school-wide vote the following day. We would love to have as many Councillors here as possible but understand many of you may already have previous commitments. Our goal is to bring awareness to the electoral process and to inspire our students to be active citizens when they leave high school. In fact, some of our students are eligible to vote during this upcoming election.
Heffley Creek All Candidates Forum
Oct 17th, Heffley Creek Hall
6:30pm to 8:30pm
CFJC TV 7, 6 minute segment sometime between 12pm and 1230pm
With Alison Klie and Nicholas Adams
We are looking to book all candidates on the show for a chance to speak on some of the issues.
The segment would LIVE, the three of you will appear together and will weigh in on the same issues.
North Shore Business Improvement Association Forum
Oct 18th, First Memorial (Dignity) Hall, corner of Royal and Tranquille
6pm to 9pm
The forum will start with each candidate having two minutes to overview
their agenda and platform. We will starting with Mayoral then move through
Council candidates. All speaker orders will be random drawn.
At the conclusion of this session we will move to a speed dating format.
Candidates will move to an engagement station (2 per station), with the two
mayoral candidates at one also. Again, station positions will be randomly
drawn ahead of the session. Each set of constituent interactions
interactions will be capped at 15 minutes, and then groups will rotate (not
Here is our proposed agenda:
wander and engage with candidate of choice)
Some topics of interest that we have heard regarding the North Shore
entry zone, etc)
development and services)
across the city in a safe manner
Please RSVP by using the voting button above, as soon as possible to confirm
Thank you in advance for considering this opportunity to connect with the
City's North Shore communities.
Please note parking is free on the shore, always!
There are two options for the best parking, Option one is in the church
parking lot immediately beside the Wilson House. This lot is open and has
lots of capacity, then walk the 1 block to the meeting venue.
Option two is the First Memorial lot, space is quite limited here, however
street parking is also available surrounding the venue.
My intense answering questions face :)
Lots of questions coming in so far - mostly from the media. Also one set from the Thompson Rivers University Students Union. Great to participate in all of these. Also time consuming and always a bit nerve wracking :). All requests below verbatim:
I've noted a series of articles by Karen Edwards at Infotel Kamloops with an almost City Council 101. The one I will note today specifically is entitled "What a city councillor actually does". I can't easily find the other article I saw.
I've been really impressed by this effort and really this kind of content can really keep local media valuable to citizens and ultimately profitable. It's important information presented in an easy to digest format.
I also really like the video and text. Gives people a choice if they want and also the two formats complement each other well.
Peter Milobar is a great choice as a subject matter expert with his many years of local government experience, both as councillor and Mayor.
What do you think? Here is the link to the article again.
A little over 13 years ago, I announced a candidacy for city council that set me on an incredibly journey. I used to blog a lot back then. Before there was a facebook or a twitter, an instagram or a snapchat. Here is my first ever post here announcing my candidacy for the 2005-2008 city council.
I have neglected this blog for quite some time and I am hoping to post more regularly as we enter into this home stretch of this civic election campaign. More long form writing will probably the most suitable thing to do on these pages.
To make a bit of a long story quite short, in the last couple of years, we have had a few very challenging snow plowing years in Kamloops. Mother Nature has given us a lot, with more intensity, and with less reprieves between major snowfalls. Our city crews have been awesome but it's been very hard to keep up.
This has generated more community concern.
City staff have researched the issues and opportunities and have presented council with a proposal to increase the annual snow removal budget from 1.6 million dollars a year to 2 million dollars a year. This would be to add three new staff, 2 new trucks, and a bit of new technology and training. More details in the photos below.
This would help city staff keep up with the existing service levels of snow plowing, mainly making sure local roads are plowed by established times.
Significantly, this would not change any city service levels with regards to windrows or snow piles that accumulate on curbs in the city. We received important complaints about these this past winter. I would like to better understand the cost of not having such large windrows accumulate in sensitive areas of the city and I will be asking council to support a report from city staff to research windrow removal practices and costs.
We will be making a final decision on these proposals in a future council meeting.
Dear Kamloops Citizens,
I hope to earn your support as I seek re-election to council this fall. The civic election is on Oct 20th.
Serving on Kamloops city council for almost 10 years has been the honour of my life. I love this community with all my heart and I am incredibly thankful that the community has provided me with this amazing opportunity to serve.
In my time on council, I’ve worked on a great diversity of issues. I feel very well versed in community opportunities, concerns, and issues in Kamloops.
Specifically, in this term of council, highlights include:
My accountability statement on my 2014 council platform (please click on image for larger view):
In May of 2017, when Mayor Milobar was elected to the provincial legislature, I was honoured by my council colleague’s unanimous support to become the Acting Mayor until Mayor Christian was sworn in early October. This was an incredible experience for me and I learned even more about city hall operations. I helped lead the community through our wildfire response and the final steps of our decisionmaking on the Ajax mine proposal.
On a provincial level, I am currently the First VP of the Union of BC Municipalities and President of BC’s Local Government Leadership Academy. I try to bring as much of my provincial learnings and relationships as I can to my work in Kamloops.
I strive to take a very positive and constructive approach to my council work. We definitely have challenges but the way to address these challenges is to focus on our strengths and opportunities.
I strive to be a councillor everyone can feel comfortable with and to be a councillor who brings our wonderfully diverse community together over issues and initiatives.
I aim to thoroughly research and engage the community on issues. And, once I’ve made decisions, I commit to clearly explaining the reasoning behind my decisions.
I hope you will consider actively supporting the campaign. I am hoping this will be our campaign, not just my campaign.
Thank you so much for being part of what Kamloops an awesome place. Please be in touch anytime.
Cell: 250 377 1797 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Election platforms should mean something. In each of my 4 previous city council campaigns, I have produced some type of platform document. I always keep my 2014 platform one pager handy and it's always been readily accessible from the top menu bar on this website. And below is an image of the platform in its entirety. I feel pretty good about keep this commitments over the past three and and half years of this term. And there is at least one commitment that I feel I haven't worked on enough yet. Under the "Healthy, Socially Responsible Community", I haven't really worked too much on exploring a recreation centre for active aging seniors. I don't feel good about this.
I do feel good about the work I have contributed to on the rest of my platform commitments. I would certainly want to hear from folks who might think I didn't do enough work. I'll spend time over the next months detailing here the work done on each of the commitments.
As I work to earn community support for reelection again, I would love your feedback on what might be included in my 2018 platform.
(click on image for bigger view)
I warmly invite you to participate in the 2018 Kamloops Idea Festival on Saturday March 17th.
About 125 Kamloops citizens participated in the first Kamloops Idea Festival in 2013. We came together to learn about and engage in dialogue over a broad range of community initiatives and issues. Feedback was quite positive.
I committed to hold another Idea Festival in my civic election platform in 2014. The focus here will be on climate action. I view this as a critical conversation and believe strongly that a diverse range of citizens and community organizations need to be involved in this conversation.
The goal of the 2018 Idea Festival is to help to start crafting community consensus on climate action activities in Kamloops.
The festival will go for three hours and will consist of:
We hope to offer another opportunity for a diverse range of citizens to get to know each other and to have fun thinking more deeply about our community.
Tha 2018 Kamloops Idea Festival will be held from 9am to 12pm at the Rex Hall, 417 Seymour Street, downtown Kamloops. A light mid morning breakfast will be provided.
Registration is required. Register here.
I had a awesome summer job this year. I was your Mayor. Actually, I will serve as acting Mayor until mid October when the new Mayor and Councillors, elected in the Sept 30th by-election, are sworn in.
I’m humbled my council colleagues asked me to take on this caretaker role and very thankful for their support and the support of city staff. It’s been a very interesting summer.
I was in Ottawa at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference on June 1st, my first day as the full time acting Mayor. One interesting takeaway was the Prime Minister’s announcement of Smart Cities challenge.
Full details are still to come but I am hoping Kamloops will compete for a $10 million dollar prize that will showcase our amazing local innovation, technology and ideas.
June was also a month of significant anniversaries. The weekly Pit Stop community dinner for people experiencing the effects of poverty celebrated 20 years of service. Our local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion celebrated an incredible 90 years.
In July, after more than six years of review, City Council took a position opposing the Ajax Mine proposal. The vote was 5-1. It would have been 6-1 if former Councillor Ken Christian had not resigned before the vote to run for Mayor.
The vote, in my view, reflects council’s overall assessment that this specific mine proposal presents a substantial risk of negative impact to the health and economic wellbring of Kamloops citizens.
Council supports economic development in many different ways. I hope those who support and those who oppose Ajax might be able to unite behind other big projects in the community. Ajax is decidely not the only egg in our basket.
July was also the start of a very bad wildfire season. On July 8th, we had the most fire starts on one day in recorded history. Starting with Cache Creek, Kamloops hosted people from many communities who were evacuated from their homes.
I have never been more proud to represent Kamloops than during our time as an evacuation centre. Kamloopsians stepped up in so many different ways. Our already incredible formal emergency support services staff and volunteers were supplemented with so many new volunteers.
In fact, one of the biggest challenges during the peak of the wildfires was trying to coordinate all the offers of support and assistance. I was very proud to talk of the generosity of Kamloopsians in local, provincial, and national media interviews.
In late July and into August, we got hit with smoke from the Elephant Hill fire to our northwest and our air quality was compromised. Going on the BC Air Quality Health Index website and seeing Kamloops having the worst air quality in the province was not fun.
Later in August, we have been working to bring down a spike in negative impacts from street drug use. There have, for example, been a large increase in the number of discarded needles left in public spaces.
We need to do better in supporting people living with serious addictions. And we also need to reduce the negative impacts of their behaviours on others.
Thus, in the past ten years, the city has encouraged a coordinated, holistic approach to these social issues. This spike in impacts can sometimes strain our coordinated work, as different stakeholders start getting pressure to just do something. The coordinated approach, however, is the key to lasting success.
Today, at city council, we made the decision to oppose the Ajax mine proposal. Here is my statement as to why I came to a difficult decision to oppose. :
With the wildfires around us, I’ve spent some time in our evacuee reception centres over the past week. Everybody is coming together at these centres. The Ajax polarization of opinion largely disappears. This, to me, is Kamloops at its best. Kamloopsians coming together from all walks of life to help our neighbours.
On Ajax, the sides have become very entrenched and I think we need to remember that the vast majority of people on both sides of the proposal are good people with good intentions and legitimate ideas and concerns. I urge people to see the good and the legitimate in those with a different view. We need to retain our ability to come together. I truly believe there is much more that unites us than divides us.
I have found my dealings with key proponents and opponents of the proposal to be generally respectful and thoughtful.
This not about a generally alway supporting industry or generally always opposing industry. We need to assess each proposal case by case.
From very early on, I have been guided by a few key principles in my assessment of the Ajax proposal:
I have talked about these principles often in my discussions and my public statements on Ajax.
In my experience, KGHM has been a great company to deal with. I know the staff at KGHM have been incredibly committed to proposing a safe, profitable operation. I also thank KGHM for its significant charitable contributions to the community.
I also know many Kamloops citizens strongly support Ajax for the economic and employment benefits it could bring. Some citizens have shared with me their feeling that Kamloops has a hard time “getting to yes” on major projects they feel would move the community forward.
My research and assessment leads me, however, to a difficult decision today not to support the Ajax proposal. There are five main reasons for my decision.
These are personal experiences and observations about the recent incredible wildfire activity in BC. For current updates and info, please visit the TNRD website and the BC Government wildfire website.
On Friday, events moved incredibly rapidly. In a couple of hours, wildfires were starting to threaten communities across our region. The incredible first responder and emergency support services network started responding quickly and the folks involved were heroic in their efforts to assist evacuees and to battle the wildfires.
Another really amazing thing happened and it turned out to be a bit of a challenge. So many people started to offer help. Volunteers, donations - it was really amazing. It also was initially a bit overwhelming to the emergency support services. The first job is to register evacuees and set them up with housing and food. And the added task of coordinating the amazing generosity was challenging.
The coordination issues are now getting addressed. And we wait to see what the weather brings us over the next days.
May 30th City Council meeting...
Today, I start full time working as the deputy Mayor. I just want to thank council again for their unanimous support in appointing me. This is a an incredibly humbling honour. I am looking forward to serving the community in this role for the next four months. A by-election to elect a new Mayor and at least two councillors will be held by the end of September. And, then, I will be happy to return to my seat as a city councillor.
We will very much miss Mayor, now MLA, Peter Milobar and are hearts all go out to our dear colleague Councillor Marg Spina, who is resigning at the end of June to focus on her battle with cancer and to focus on her family. We will miss her dearly at city hall but support her in her decision 1000%.
I approach this job as a caretaker, to work with council, city staff, and the community to continue to forward council’s strategic plan, and to have as seamless as possible transition for the duties of the Mayor’s office. I have not been elected by citizens as Mayor and I will not be going in directions outside of our strategic plan, the normal duties that Peter had undertaken as Mayor, or independent of the approval of council as a whole. I ask you all to hold me accountable to these commitments I make to the community.
So, its really steady as she goes and maintaining the already existing momentum.
If there is anything I can do to serve you, please never hesitate to shoot me an email (email@example.com) or call my cell (250-320-6532).
There has been quite a robust debate over the past days on council's decision to start the process of demolishing the old Kamloops Daily News building to create some interim parking spaces downtown. I was on CBC Kamloops yesterday talking about this. There also some good clips of Councillor Denis Walsh, who opposes demolition. Thanks to Shelly Joyce for interviewing me and to Tara Copeland for setting the interview up. Here is the audio.
I work with amazing people at city hall. We don’t always agree on issues, both big and small. A big issue on which I voted differently than the majority of my city council colleagues was the 2017 city budget.
I did not support the city budget this year. The majority of council did support it.
I have a great deal of respect for my colleagues and for the processes of council. After we vote on a matter, the general practice is to not criticize the decision after a vote.
I think it is appropriate, however, to explain why I voted against the budget. I will do this, while also trying to acknowledge and honour the views of my colleagues. I hope I’m successful.
The average annual tax increase, over the past decade in Kamloops, has been just under 2%. I’ve been comfortable using in and around 2% as a bit of a top end benchmark of where I feel comfortable supporting the budget.
We were coming in at 2.67% increase this year. And it’s forecast that the coming years may even be more financially challenging. This is out of my regular comfort zone.
One thing we may forget is the added utility costs (water, sewer, garbage / recycling). With our taxes and utility costs combine, the increase, this year, is around 2.2%. So, overall, less of an increase.
And, as we were crunching numbers and reviewing funding requests, a number of people contacted me to express their concerns about tax increases - even 2% tax increases. These citizens were mainly seniors on pensions who are concerned about the rising prices of most of their necessary expenditures and who don’t want to be forced to downsize before they are ready.
I did get a very nice email from a citizen advocating for a 4% increase to fund a lot of services and projects that enhance our quality of life in Kamloops. I totally get the pride and joy many people have in the quality of life in Kamloops. Council offers a lot of support for quality of life projects and services.
So, budget making in a community as diverse as Kamloops is a pretty delicate balancing act.
We did have the potential option of using some unallocated reserve funds to bring down the tax increase this year but council, as a whole, wanted to retain our flexibility to fund projects that come up between our annual budget approvals.
City staff has done great work with finding efficiencies in operations. I’d like to thoughtfully work to bring down the tax increases / utility costs proposed in future years.
I was thankful, at the last budget meeting, that we had quite a robust discussion on how we could productively engage in examining the 2018 city budget and look at possible options to offer some tax / utility fee relief to residents.
At city hall on tuesday, the Executive Director of the North Shore Business Improvement Association (NSBIA), Steven Puhallo, stated that 2016 was a great year for the association. There has been a lot of recent and significant road and bridge upgrades / repairs that made it more difficult for some to access North Kamloops commercial areas. In 2016, all that work had been completed. The new, expanded North Shore Policing Office has also been welcomed by the BIA. A new sign replaced the tired old one by the Tranquille Rd overpass over the Overlanders Bridge. Slides from Mr Puhallo's presentation to council are available in the council agenda package for this week.
Business Improvement Associations (BIAs) are funded by an additional levy put on commercial properties in a geographically defined neighbourhood. These levies are collected by city hall and, after a council vote, the funds are released to a BIA for its activities. The BIA promotes and supports businesses within their neighbourhood. Kamloops has two BIAs at the moment - the NSBIA and the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association. Both these associations have turned into critical hubs of business activity and of community events.
We heard an application at today's council meeting for a resident to keep 3 dogs on their property. The limit is 2 but residents can apply to council for a variance to keep 3. Typically for these applications, the resident wanting the variance comes to council to verbally present their arguments as to why approval should be granted and to answer any questions council may have. This did not happen today. We did turn down the application. I am not saying we would have approved it if the applicant had appeared but, at least, it might have given the applicant more of a chance. I did a short Facebook live video on this soon after the council meeting:
We are in an extended deep freeze, the likes we have not seen in a long time. Add to this the snowfall in the past day or two, things tend to start to go a bit funny. Cars spinning out, people slipping, etc. If anyone needs help shovelling snow, feel free to be in touch - 250 320 6532 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am thankful for the city crews who are keeping the roads, paths, and public sidewalks passable. And thank you to all the store owners, staff, and homeowners / renters who are keeping sidewalks cleared. It is enormously helpful.
We will need a bit of patience with all this for a while. Be careful for yourselves and for others.
Most of the awesome members of the Kamplan (Kamloops' Official Community Plan) Review Committee at our December 2016 Meeting
All the very best in 2017 to you and to those you hold dear!
Here's a few early thoughts on happenings in the community in 2017:
1) The Media: It would be awesome if a more daily print publication reappeared in Kamloops. I will also be interested to see what substantive changes new Radio NL news director Shane Woodford makes with the mighty NL's coverage. Will NL New's reputation as Fox News Kamloops continue? When is Kamloops media legend Doug Collins contemplating retirement? How will Mel Rothenburger's desire to be both a commentator and a politician play out this year?
2) Ajax: I'm hoping the revised Ajax mine application will be made public soon. This continues to be a very challenging issue for the community and I think we have to find ways to bridge some of those divides in 2017. Perhaps, supporters and opponents of Ajax can be brought together to think about economic development projects they could all largely support. As I have committed, I will take a position on Ajax after I have reviewed the next revised mine application.
3) Engaging Business on Climate Change: I am a huge advocate of proactive work to address greenhouse gas emissions. As a longtime businessperson, I feel this is also in our long term economic interests. I look forward to working with local business organizations to showcase opportunities and challenges in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Kamloops. There is a lot more common ground than we often think. The ideological and partisan battles in BC often get in the way of the best solutions.
4) The Provincial Election: It's going to be a little more tricky for Kamloops city council in this provincial election. We have 2 council members running for different political parties. Council, as a whole, will stay neutral and above the partisan fray. Obviously, credible candidates should have policies that speak to local government. If Mayor Milobar and/or Councillor Cavers get elected, council will have some decisions to be made as to whether or not to hold a byelection.
5) The Official Community Plan Revision: This is a huge piece of community work but one that sometimes totally flies under the radar. The revised plan, done properly, should reflect community values in the design, look, and feel of neighbourhoods and commercial centres. It will help influence how much we use our vehicles and the types of shopping and public facilities we have available. Much more also. I would certainly suggest this section of the city website for more info. I will be soliciting citizen input and there will be also staff led opportunities for public input before the approval of the plan this spring.
I have got a lot of time for the Superintendent of the RCMP’s Kamloops Detachment. Brad Mueller leads a strong RCMP team in one of the more complex policing environments we’ve seen for some time.
This year seems to be a challenging one in terms of increases in criminal activity. In the spring and summer, Kamloops council members heard a lot from business people downtown and along the Tranquille corridor. Into the fall, we have started to hear concerns from residents in neighbourhoods.
We really appreciate hearing from people and we share all of what we hear with community safety staff and the RCMP. Always feel free to contact council members with your concerns.
It’s difficult sometimes to act immediately but, in my experience, the RCMP do act on legitimate community concern. It sometimes takes time to investigate or lower the amount of crime. The RCMP and city hall’s track record of helping decrease criminal activity, over time, is very good.
In a recent radio interview, Supt Mueller talked about how community members could reduce the incidences of “crimes of opportunity”. One good simple tip: not leaving valuables in the car. We have seen a lot of businesses and residential owners use camera systems as a deterrent and as an investigative tool.
Often, the RCMP are asked to be what they are not. They are not social workers. Community safety issues need a team approach. Social agencies, business associations, bylaws, RCMP, and city staff meet regularly to coordinate efforts. We have much better coordination, communication, and cooperation than we did a decade ago.
City council has been actively working with the RCMP to ensure we get all the RCMP members we budget for. We have historically had a smaller complement of members because of national RCMP recruitment challenges. Recent news from RCMP BC HQ has been encouraging. We are hopeful for much closer to full complement soon.
We are also hopeful that the RCMP national leadership will reconsider a decision to decrease the opportunities for Auxiliary RCMP members to serve the community. The Auxiliary program in Kamloops has an incredible history of providing strong service in many areas of policing. I feel strongly we can keep auxiliary members as safe as possible while continuing to offer them a satisfying and large range of ways to serve.
I am hopeful this post gives you a bit more information to the various ways we are working together to bring crime down again. We are still very much a safe community in comparison to many. I welcome any thoughts or concerns you might have. Please feel free to call me at 250 320 6532 or to email email@example.com.
First City Council meeting in a month and we had a pretty action packed agenda. Here are some notable items: