Jun 20, 2022 at 2:22 pm
City Councillor Mayor

Kamloops and District Labour Council asks:

Many communities are facing drug addiction challenges, homelessness and have seen increase in crime and property crimes. How would advocate for our disadvantaged community members and what solutions would you propose?

- Kamloops and District Labour Council

Candidate Answers

Daphane Nelson

Candidate for City Councillor

I absolutely see the prolific and repeat offenders in our community as being a huge part of the issue. I know that there is work being done to determine what options are available in dealing with these individuals, and this does fall into my realm of, "Reports are good, results are better." I will have more to say when those recommendations come forth. https://www.radionl.com/2022/05/05/89254/

On top of the prolific offender issue, it does seem that the addiction and homelessness crisis is out of control and I will lobby government while learning more about how civic leaders can do better for the communities they represent. I will ask difficult questions not only to other levels of government but also to social service providers receiving millions of dollars in funding annually to facilitate services for addicts, mentally ill and homeless. I want to see these agencies work together on a gap analysis to explore ways of working together and I would love to sit at that table to listen, learn and lead.

Dale Bass

Candidate for City Councillor

We need complex-care beds and I’ve been arguing for them for months. We need a sobering centre and our business case has sat on the health minister’s desk for five years. I continue to ask him to at least read it.

Arjun Singh

Candidate for Mayor

Kamloops citizens are justifiably very concerned about the increase in social disorder and the decrease of community safety in our community. I have heard from many residents and businesses about this.

Covid has made this situation worse. Almost everyone is more anxious and the supports many rely on have not been able to operate as fully.

This is a complex societal issue that requires and demands all orders of governments work together.

I have spent time with many people on our streets, in our back alleys, and in our parks. It breaks my heart to see fellow human beings in such misery. If we provide folks a greater hand up, it is the right way and the most effective way to address community safety for all.

The most effective way to address these issues starts with more outreach, housing, health services, and social services. We must not enable people. Instead, providing these services is the best way to empower people. Drug addiction and mental illness are health issues not criminal issues.

Offering more of these critical services will also reduce negative impacts on homes and businesses.

The RCMP have less tools than they had before, mainly due to court decisions. It’s clear we can’t arrest our way out of the issue; however, we do need to hold offenders, especially repeat offenders, more accountable for criminal acts.

As Kamloops mayor, I will work collaboratively with local partners, to ensure that these complex issues of homelessness, mental health, addiction, and crime are best addressed.

A big part of this work is advocacy and partnerships outside city limits. As Past President of the Union of BC Municipalities and a current director with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, I am fortunate to have very strong relationships with our provincial and federal colleagues. Importantly, I have worked with my colleagues for 4 terms on city council to build very strong relationships with Indigenous peoples.

This current city council has made a good start. Council has funded more community service officers, day spaces, peer outreach programs, and we have supported the construction of more shelter beds.

I support:

A Mayor's Task Force on Community Safety for All
Locally funded 24/7 crisis outreach teams
Shelter facilities and day spaces that are good neighbours
A Sobering Centre
More mental health and substance use services. We have to reduce wait lists
More life skills programs
Reforms to the criminal justice system that hold repeat offenders more accountable
Bringing together key leaders across the community, in a coordinated “Team Kamloops” approach, to work together with our provincial government to secure more services
Working closely with the federal government to ensure that when people commit crimes, they are held accountable
A restorative justice based initial approach in the justice system
In summary, we need to embrace the hard work of collaboration to address community safety in a real and impactful way. We need to both show empathy and require accountability. We can fund some critical services ourselves and we need to be effective advocates to ensure action from other orders of government. This continues to be a big challenge but it is also a massive opportunity to make positive change.

We are Kamloops and I know we can do it.

Bonnie Cleland

Candidate for City Councillor

These issues are complex, multifaceted and don't have a quick easy solution, or a 5 point attainable action plan. When we are discussing options I think it is important to take a dignity for all approach as well as focusing on harm reduction. Support for the organizations that work closely with these individuals is paramount, as many people have strong opinions, but not all ideas produce the results that we want (less crime, less addiction, less homelessness, less danger). It is important for Council members to handle the high emotions that come with discussing these issues, and to put forward ideas and policies that produce results and don't just feel true / right. We need to look at what actually works according to evidence from within and around our community and double down on those strategies.

Bill Sarai

Candidate for City Councillor

This is a major issue every community small and large are facing throughout our country.
I am elected to represent my city of Kamloops, so what I see is a major gap in all the initiatives the other levels of governments provide for the individuals on our streets. IHA is always absent from any real dialogue or collaborative work to address this issue. Mental Health and Addiction, is in my opinion a health issue, and we need to treat it as such. We also have to put pressure on our federal laws to swing back the pendulum that is such favour of the criminal. Whether it’s an armed robbery or breaking a window to steal a window display, a crime is a crime and we must have deterrents. The majority would be in my opinion, mandatory health intervention including detox and recovery for those that can’t keep themselves or our community safe! That should be the compassion shown that has eroded to the current level of compassion fatigue.
I truly believe that all homeless individuals are not criminals, and not all criminals are homeless. But in the last 1 to 2 years it is very hard to separate the two. That has to change. We are better than that in Kamloops.
So please do not buy into anyone that has all the answers. I can honestly tell you we are in unprecedented times with unprecedented issues. I have never pointed fingers at other governments, instead I’ve put out my hand to ask for assistance. I will strongly continue to do so on behalf of our city, and work along side anyone who has other solutions that can help us with these complex issues.

Taj Sandur

Candidate for City Councillor

We need an independent and thorough audit into our current system and all it's stakeholders. Far too often we are given answers that simply pass the buck to other parties or result in an eternal circle of finger pointing. To remedy this, we need an independent report to acutely identify the failures in our system and answer the most critical questions: WHO is contributing to the problem, HOW can we minimize this, and WHY is it happening?

Once we have this information we can begin to reinforce the lapses in our current system, terminate or minimize the causes of the issue and the parties actively contributing/benefitting from the ongoing issue. This will allow us to utilize our resources for the number of individuals we currently have and limit the rate at which new drug addicted and homeless peoples join our community so we can begin to solve the issue we currently have while trying to stop the issue from snowballing further.

There is no clear and apparent answer to this issue but we have to fight to find a solution that works and I vow to keep fighting until we do.

Sadie Hunter

Candidate for Mayor

I have been a strong voice for providing more support for our disadvantaged citizens, bringing forward several initiatives to proactively plan for extreme weather shelters (heat & cold), more outreach, day spaces, public washrooms, an additional Car40, and additional RCMP support amongst many other things.

Through my role on the Executive of the Union of BC Municipalities, I sat on the Community Safety Committee and advocated for increased access to services including mental health services, complex care and transitional housing, directly to the provincial government.

We have accomplished a lot in the last 4 years (see list below) and now it's time for us to use our voice to elevate our needs to the provincial and federal government as much of what we need must be addressed by these levels of government. As mayor, I will also establish community health and safety forums. We need to find our own solutions by working together and collaborating while also standing united to tell others what we need.

To date, we have:
- supported additional Car 40 units
- called for a sobering centre
- lobbied for more detox and recovery beds for youth and adults
- worked with the school district on anti-gang and anti-drug messaging for students
- conducted research with TRU through the Researcher-in-Residence program on street issues
- authorized an increase in the strength of our local RCMP detachment
- worked with the Chamber of Commerce and initiating an anti-tagging and graffiti program
- liaised with Business Improvement Associations
- added 20 new Community Service Officers and expanded their program to 24/7 coverage of the streets
- worked closely with and supporting the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), ASK Wellness, The Mustard Seed, and other shelter and social-housing providers
- lobbied the Crown Prosecutors Office for changes to the charge assessment standards
- supported CPTED (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design) talks with neighbourhood associations and with business
- worked with BC Housing to get more supportive and subsidized housing opportunities for those local residents that are street affected
- worked regionally with the Southern Interior Local Government Association (neighbouring municipalities)
- worked with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc to support the work they are doing on behalf of Indigenous persons in crisis
- provided funding to support the Envision shuttle, which provides outreach and transportation to shelters for people experiencing homelessness (operated by CMHA)
- provided funding and providing a location to support a day space for people experiencing homelessness at 48 Victoria Street West (April 1 to October 31)—a joint collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous service providers
- established good neighbour agreements with shelter and supportive housing operators with commitments to site management, risk mitigation, and compliance with the Good Neighbour Bylaw
- funded security services and patrols in commercial corridors and centres to help support a sense of safety for businesses and residents
- administered funding to support a sharps pickup program that provides employment to people with a lived experience of homelessness and/or substance use—operated by CMHA, ASK Wellness, and The Mustard Seed
- developed (in progress) a shelter land use analysis that uses criteria linked to social and community planning principles to help identify areas that may be suitable for future shelter sites
- established a memorandum of understanding to support a collaborative approach between the City and BC Housing with regard the planning, development, operations, and communications for future shelter, supportive housing, and affordable rental housing sites

Randy Sunderman

Candidate for City Councillor

With drug toxicity deaths having gone from 26 (2019) to 77 (2021), Kamloops ranks among the highest per capita death rates of municipalities in British Columbia. In an effort to reverse this trajectory, we need to start formulating our own vision. I propose four specific steps as a starting point, including:
1) Working with the community to ensure we have adequate housing for those that need it. The City needs to accelerate its partnerships and play a more direct role with provincial and federal governments, proactively leveraging the resources for the housing we need.
2) Ensuring supports are adequately resourced and can be accessed in a timely manner – too many people are falling through the cracks. The City needs to advocate more specifically for those missing pieces.
3) Pushing for consequences for bad behaviour connected to services along the line of models used in Europe, which connects housing, justice, mental health, and addiction services to address street entrenched persons. Perhaps leverage the justice approach being piloted in Kelowna. Kamloops needs to advocate for a pilot project to test and refine a model like this in Canada. This pilot also needs to include efforts to more actively address property crime and criminal activity with resources the City controls. Acting on crime is an important step for all residents specifically for street entrenched persons as they are often the ones who are the victims of those that choose to break the law.
4) Finally, establishing clear performance measures, working with service organizations and the province to demonstrate progress and value for investments in Kamloops.

Jesse Ritcey

Candidate for City Councillor

I'm a big believer in investing in people and moving upstream of these issues with early interventions. We need to recognize that every person is valued and deserves to live their best life. I can't offer easy answers or solutions, other than to say I think we are seeing the result of disinvestments in teachers, nurses, doctors, social workers, and other government employees that took place with federal cuts in the 90's and a rightward shift in BC's government that started in the year 2001.

At the civic level we can set the tone for valuing everyone and making progress together. We can work cooperatively with the provincial government and service providers. Rather than amp up attacks or criticisms of BC Housing (its gotten to the point that their employees are fearful of being physically assaulted) we can speed up projects and encourage more investments in our community. We can gently explain to people the solutions that are coming and the progress that is being made.

The anger out there is palpable. People are right to be upset about the declining social situation in our City, as politicians we just need to make sure that are pursuing good solutions, and channel those emotions to positive, cooperative actions, rather than duck responsibility, point fingers, or cynically stir the pot to win votes.

Darpan Sharma

Candidate for City Councillor

We have to advocate for residents, businesses along with the disadvantaged community together, it has to be two fold.
For the disadvantaged community we promote recovery along with harm reduction, we lobby the province and make it mandatory for the social agencies to provide wrap-around services. It was tried by our council but they got cold feet and diluted the whole motion by adding two words "where applicable"

For our citizens, we need to stop the secret meetings when it comes to social housing, the only reason I can think why they conduct these secret meetings when it comes to social housing is that they are ashamed of the decisions being made without any consultations with the community. We need to be equal partners with BC Housing, CMHA, and the province on where these facilities should go. What we are doing right now is not working, and that's an understatement.
Also to my understanding, there is no more car 40 in Kamloops, I called 2 days ago and was told the same. We have a few incumbents in this section lobbying for more car 40s. I don't know what to think of that.

Ray Dhaliwal

Candidate for Mayor

In Our Locksmith Business, we deal with these issues daily, our services we are providing are not working with this current model. We need to take to the Provincial And Federal Table the Crisis our Communities are facing , our own Mental Heath is in crisis....I would advocate to bringing back our Mental Health Institutions, Some of the People that live on the Street can not function on their own and need supported care for them to live the best life they can. Putting them in rooms and feeding them is not working they need constant care, there heath would improve and so would the health of our Communities.

Cole Hickson

Candidate for School Trustee 73 - TEA1

Homelessness and drug addiction does not happen overnight. It is our responsibility to ensure that children are safe and well supported to succeed.

I want to work with our community to make our schools and surrounding areas a safety priority and engage our at-risk youth to ensure they are supported both in and outside of our schools.