Jun 20, 2022 at 2:23 pm
City Councillor Mayor

Kamloops and District Labour Council asks:

Describe how you would prioritize fire and flood management and other infrastructure issues such as poor roads and services in our community. Are you prepared to raise taxes to pay for improved infrastructure?

- Kamloops and District Labour Council

Candidate Answers

Daphane Nelson

Candidate for City Councillor

I am not able to fully answer this question as someone who hasn't worked on the budget for the City of Kamloops. I do, however, wish to be on the audit & finance committee (as I've been on the credit union AFC in the past) so that I may spend as much time as possible getting up to speed on how the budget is laid out, why expenditures continue to increase year over year, and where the priorities should be, based on input from residents. And I don't mean hosting a few budget meetings before it's unveiled annually. I mean becoming involved with a survey of residents to truly unpack the priorities of the users of the services and infrastructure that the City provides.

Kamloops residents are looking for answers and I want to be able to be straightforward about the process and how the funding was put forth.

Darrell LaRiviere

Candidate for City Councillor

Yes, I would vote to raise taxes to improve infrastructure. However I don't think "improved infrastructure" simply means more roads! To me, improving infrastructure means using what we've got first! If we want to reduce congestion we need to improve public transit first! Then start converting intersections to traffic circles!

We can't say that we need improved infrastructure and then say we can't raise taxes! It's the equivalent of someone wanting to renovate their own home and then wondering who will pay for the renovations.

Dale Bass

Candidate for City Councillor

The city does a good job on fire snd flood management. It learned a lot from the Juniper fire and stringer steps have been followed. Infrastructure issues are more of a challenge because they are costly. Do we put up with patched potholes to avoid raising taxes? A year ago I would have said no but with today’s economy, we have to avoid burdening our citizens with a heavier tax load. So I guess my answer is it depends on the impact to Kamloopsians.

Bonnie Cleland

Candidate for City Councillor

I am in favour of maintenance and prevention over response to emergencies. We know that flood, fire and landslide are our biggest natural disaster risks and I think we should improve our development and building strategies to take this into account. Taxes are that topic that no one wants to talk about raising and yet we want to have development in all areas. I would work within the city budget to insure safety is a top priority. There are other methods of generating funding for projects that can be looked at (provincial and federal grants for example). Taxes are just one way funding projects.

Bill Sarai

Candidate for City Councillor

Being elected as the Kamloops representative to the SILGA board, Southern Interior Local Government Association. We represent 38 small medium communities, including districts and villages. The idea of our communities always being hit with the cost of fighting the events or hosting ground crews and evacuation centers. In my opinion we are always left with some sort of expenditure that wasn’t covered. The province and feds need to be more proactive than reactive in these all too familiar recurring events. I truly believe that having a non union outfit come in and do major paving and line painting could be brought in house. On the other hand, if our staff do not have the very expensive equipment, and the outfits are unionized, that would have to be a future discussion. I believe we are at a stage in size of growth in area and population, we should invest in the equipment for big savings in the long run.
I do not believe we need to raise taxes for improvement in infrastructure and road and sidewalk improvements. Just put them at a higher priority than they currently are set at. If you are talking about “New” infrastructure, that’s a whole new conversation. I take great pride in our staff seeking out and being successful at grant funding before I support a stand alone project with tax implications.

Katie Neustaeter

Candidate for City Councillor

The city has been learning from the overlapping and increasing extreme environmental events that impact our citizens, but we have great work to do as we recognize that these will continue.
Climate change and the areas to prioritize when combating its effects aren’t my personal area of expertise, so I believe we should look to environmental scientists and municipalities seeing results in these areas so we can explore how we might adopt their methods in practical ways in Kamloops.

However, dealing with the social infrastructure of environmental crises is my wheelhouse. We need to proactively build strategies, partnerships, and procedures that mitigate confusion and trauma when events happen. A clear flow of communication ensuring activities performed by key stakeholders are not duplicated and that gaps are filled, anticipating and activating a coordinated response effort to house, feed, resource, and care for the mental health of people affected by environmental crises is necessary, and we must do it together.
EMBC, Tk’emlups, those working in food security, the hospitality and accommodation sector, adjoining municipalities. etc

As far as roads and services, I thin there is a time for short term and a time for long term solutions. With a predicted recession on the horizon and our currently pinched economy I'm currently hesitant to increase taxes when so many folks are already feeling the pressure of rising grocery costs, rental increases/shortages, increased goods and material expenses, etc.
I prefer at this moment in time to work within the current city budget and on its set priorities.

Sadie Hunter

Candidate for Mayor

Asset management to protect from fire and flood is going to be one of the biggest challenges we have in the near future. Managing this infrastructure will require proactive planning and is one of the reasons this term council implemented a regular annual allocation to an asset management fund. We also need to move towards incorporating our natural assets and look at ways we can use them to protect property an infrastructure. I consider our asset management planning to be fairly robust.

In terms of raising taxes for other services and infrastructure, I think it needs to be a community conversation, which would take place during the budget cycle. If there is a critical community need then I think it's incumbent upon all of us to find a way to find a way to support it financially - whether that be a tax increase, applying for funds, or reducing a service somewhere else.

Jesse Ritcey

Candidate for City Councillor

Our City is working well on asset management planning, although one area I'd like us to do more work on is incorporating natural assets planning into our approach and developing a climate mitigation plan that incorporates more nature based climate change solutions.

In terms of fire management, we mainly spend grant money from other orders of government, hiring contractors that are coordinated by our nature parks crew. We had been making good progress on protecting neighborhoods but unfortunately, urban sprawl into forested interface zones (especially Juniper area) have set us back to square one. So work continues.

In terms of flood management, we are seeing a lot of storm water issues in Sahali and Aberdeen neighborhoods. I've been a big proponent of bioswales and planting more trees and native plants to slow and capture rainwater.

When we think of our service levels for things like snow clearing, we need to ask people what their desired wait times for their road areas to be serviced are and balance that against permanent tax increases. If there's a need and desire I have no ideological aversion to raising tax. But one thing I'd like us to do first is to broaden the base of taxpayers through some of the densification and planning moves I've been supporting in this campaign. The more people we have living on a stretch of road, the more widely we can share the costs of improving roads and services. As well, the more people we can get out of cars and into transit and bike lanes/walking, the longer those roads are going to last before potholes develop.

Stephen Karpuk

Candidate for City Councillor

Prioritizing is hard but not impossible. In short I am prepared to raise taxes to address these concerns because we will need to if we want change. It may come to a point where insurance dictates that diking for flooding or FireSmart Fuel reduction programs must be completed before insurance Co's will cover these risks. In some parts of the world that is already happening. We should not wait till we are forced to. I think we need to be be proactive rather than reactive.

Finishing the dikes would allow for the Rivers Trail to be completed and doing so can add to our infrastructure of recreational and transportation network. It would also allow us to develop more businesses that service this so that should cut down on our costs by increasing our tax base. Change zoning to permit business development along this Trail so that it makes money, through tourism and taxes.

On snow removal or the lack of. I think a simple solution is to put front plows back on city trucks, give the staff training and experience in that equipment and its use, plus an effective plan to follow. It would help a lot. If we implemented a simple even and odd day parking rule, where even numbered sides of the street are vacant on even numbered calendar days and vice versa for odd, we could have snow plowed to the curb and or removed so that snow does not build up on our streets. We are used to this already for summer watering, use it for snow clearing in the winter. Our city pays out quite a bit for insurance for claims of trucks damaging other vehicles during the winter. Changing how we clear streets should save some money even if it costs us to properly equip, staff and implement this change. I think we all agree it needs to be better and I know we can do better.

Removing snow also should cut down on our pothole problem, because there would be less snow melting into cracks to cause potholes to form. Potholes need to be filled, but more importantly, we need to make sure that we have proper road paving so that potholes are less likely to form as well.

ALL of Kamloops should be safe from the flooding and fire risks that we may face. Alternate commuting/escape routes from Juniper also need to be there for Westsyde and Rayleigh (ie. a bridge link across the North Thompson). We need to build a ready to go plan for a North Thompson bridge crossing so if and when federal and or provincial funding is available we have a shovel ready plan to implement. This would reduce the wear and tear on Westsyde Road from Jameson Creek truck traffic saving us money on repairing Westsyde road. It would also allow more economic and recreational activity in Westsyde and Rayleigh thereby increasing our tax base. AND it would allow easier emergency services to service both sides of the river, even amalgamate hall 4 and hall 5 for Kamloops Fire Rescue.

I think we have to have ALL Kamloops protected by fully staffed fire halls. Currently Hall 4 in Westsyde has 2 FT staff, Heffley/Rayleigh hall 5 has no FT staff and Dallas/Barhartvale/campbell Creek hall 6 has no FT staff. With the construction of the new City Garden towers downtown we need more Kamloops Fire Rescue staff to be safe. 32 members to be exact. Let's build a fire training centre in Kamloops that can assist us with recruitment of future staff and training current members or surrounding fire rescue staff. This will also help us retain current fire rescue staff who could instruct. This should bring in income to offset our current and future fire staff costs.

We need to accelerate our FireSmart Program in Kamloops to reduce our risk of an interface fire burning our community. We can use community partnerships and engagements to assist our city with this. Our Rotary club is doing just that and there are provincial funds available for this we need to utilize.

I am willing to spend money and increase taxes if needed, especially it reduces future costs, frustrations and or builds community safety and tax base.

Darpan Sharma

Candidate for City Councillor

By being proactive and not reactive. I am not an expert in fire and flood management. But I can certainly say that the city failed during the juniper fires. Insensitive comments from our CAO didn't help either.
Before raising taxes in any circumstances, we need to see if we can save the same dollar somewhere> so in theory, I am ok with raising taxes for better infrastructure but only after we have exhausted every avenue of saving those dollars to pay for these projects. Tax increases should always be the last option, especially in these difficult economic times.

Ray Dhaliwal

Candidate for Mayor

Our Infrastructure has been deteriorating the past decade, we are not keeping up with the Maintenance, one example no paint for our roads and cross walks this year, Kamloops is 10 years behind where we need to be. This Comes from Upper Management. We need a New Direction a more business focused approach, we need be proactive and not reactive regarding these issues, Making sure we have more than one access to our Subdivisions in case of fire, Shoring up our River banks for what is going to happen one day. Clearing Brush form our Neighborhoods in the spring and fall to mitigate the risk of grass fires.