Jesse Ritcey

Candidate for City Councillor

Contact Information

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Personal Information

Resident of: Brocklehurst
Age: 36
Current Occupation: Program Manager at an Environmental Non-Profit

New Candidate

Political Experience:

In past elections I've been a volunteer for other candidates who I felt had a progressive vision for our community. I've been actively blogging about civic political issues for several years now promoting dialogue and engagement. I've also been actively involved in Council proceedings, reading agendas, attending public hearings and council committee meetings, I’ve spoken and presented on a range of issues. I’ve participated in planning processes including the development of the downtown and north shore plans as well the community climate action plan. I'd say I'm pretty familiar with our City departments, how our City is governed, what the opportunities for change are, as well as what the limitations are of what we can do.


I'm a lifelong Kamloops resident who cares deeply about community. I attended Parkcrest Elementary school and Brock Secondary school. Shoutout to all my teachers, many of which I still keep in touch with, for the rich learning they facilitated. I've always been a bit of a nerd, but besides politics and ideas, I like being outdoors, gardening (I have a horticulture diploma and sustainable landscaping certificate, both from Guelph distance education), photography, and hanging out with my cat and boyfriend while watching sci-fi, fantasy, or horror shows.

My entire immediate family all worked in the trades and belonged to a union. I'm grateful for the benefits I've received, such as dental/orthodontics, and knowing they have the benefit of a safe working environment, benefits, and added security in old age.

I work for the Kamloops Naturalist Club running our programs, grant writing, and managing our other employees. I've been involved in many groups, most recently I'm a director with the Pride board and co-president of the Kamloops Food Policy Council.

External Page Links

KTW Posted: August 24, 2022
Affordable housing a major plank in Ritcey’s run for Kamloops council

Organization Endorsements

Kamloops & District Labour Council

We are the elected representatives of roughly 13,000 unionized workers in the Kamloops area covering Merritt to Valemount and Chase to Lillooet.

Our affiliates work collaboratively to advance the economic and social welfare of workers and with other progressive organizations in the promotion of social justice and human rights as described in the United Nations’ Charter of Human Rights.

We are members of the BC Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress, the latter of which represents over three-million unionized Canadians.

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Answers to Questions from the Public

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?

Asked by: Kamloops and District Labour Council asked the City Councillor, Mayor Candidates
Jesse Ritcey Answered

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.

Many municipalities are facing ongoing problems and are dealing with staffing issues as part of the current health care crisis. Describe from a local government perspective how would you plan to recruit workers to our community?

Asked by: Kamloops and District Labour Council asked the City Councillor, Mayor Candidates
Jesse Ritcey Answered

Mainly recruiting is about offering a great place to live, work, and play. I was recently speaking to a pediatrician who pointed out that health care professionals are big into active living, so we need to get serious on building out active transportation infrastructure like bike lanes if we want to attract new doctors. We have some great assets like our proximity to Sun Peaks to market ourselves. A Centre for the Arts would help and, of course, building more and better housing and working with our schools to get childcare offered more widely than just Ralph Bell and Happyvale elementary.

There are, however, some things we can do around zoning and planning to embrace the future of medicine, which is hives/hubs of healthcare professionals, often interdisciplinary. This is the model we see at the Orchard's Walk in Valleyview. I would like us to examine the use of a revitalization tax exemption (RTE) to build a location like these in every neighborhood.

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?

Asked by: Kamloops and District Labour Council asked the City Councillor, Mayor Candidates
Jesse Ritcey Answered

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.

Define Fiduciary Responsibility and how would you personally apply this to an elected role in Council or the TNRD.

Asked by: Kamloops and District Labour Council asked the City Councillor, Mayor Candidates
Jesse Ritcey Answered

Fiduciary responsibility is an obligation that an elected official has to the organization they represent, that decisions are based on their interest and not your personal ones. This has typically been viewed as protecting financial assets through wise stewardships of funds, but in a position like ours we should include social and environmental protection as important considerations. Oversight, employee wellbeing, respecting conflict of interest rules, protecting confidential information are other aspects of fiduciary responsibility. As someone elected to various boards governed by the Society Act of BC I have discharged this duty in the past and continue to do so.

The TNRD debacle but also City of Kamloops Council and senior executive spending large amounts of money on catered lunches were recent breaches of fiduciary responsibility. I'm glad to see steps have been taken to address these issues. If elected I would try to set an example and question how policies and procedures reflected high ethical standards.

Millions of jobs were lost during the pandemic. Describe how you will advocate for replacing those lost jobs with good union jobs.

Asked by: Kamloops and District Labour Council asked the City Councillor, Mayor Candidates
Jesse Ritcey Answered

Our role at the City of Kamloops is primarily an advocacy one, so I will use my voice whenever possible to advocate for workers. An example of this was during the pandemic, I suggested the City write a letter to the billionaire owners of companies like Save on Foods and suggest that reinstating $2 an hour hero pay was urgently needed. We can also personally support and celebrate unionization drives, for instance the Sephora in Aberdeen mall become the first nationwide to unionize with their application to the labour board to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1518 (UFCW 1518).

What steps will you take to work towards action on Truth and Reconciliation?

Asked by: Kamloops and District Labour Council asked the City Councillor, Mayor Candidates
Jesse Ritcey Answered

I have been privileged as someone from a settler background to be able to work closely with and learn from Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc staff and band members as we've collaborated on projects. My approach is humility and deep listening. I intend to reflect on the 94 calls to action and continue to build upon the relationship that the city has built up with TteS.

One area I see as a potential for future growth in this relationship is our work on the environment and planning. We've had a couple folks on Council express a notion that we're somehow in competition with TteS for an industrial tax base and during this term there was an unhelpful discussion that played out in the media over extending a hospital tax to Sun Rivers residents. I see our communities as intertwined and believe that social, economic, and environmental growth in one helps the other. Kamloops should also pay closer attention to TteS leadership when considering impactful projects like development at Kamloops Lake or the Ajax mine.

How will you promote ethical purchases, including local unionized goods and services, where available?

Asked by: Kamloops and District Labour Council asked the City Councillor, Mayor, School Trustee 73 - TEA1 Candidates
Jesse Ritcey Answered

We need to be scoring bids holistically (not just on lowest price) to ensure they're rewarded to companies operating at a high social and environmental standard, including wherever possible unionized workplaces.

Building out the local economy, especially good jobs, is important for everyone. The concept 'velocity of money' describes how often money changes hands and is a measure of economic vibrancy. Having money circulating locally has been shown to do this more than sending money to large multi-nationals or overseas.

What steps would you take to ensure your local government hiring practices reflect the community’s population diversity? Are you aware of any existing Employment Equity policies in your community or other communities?

Asked by: Kamloops and District Labour Council asked the City Councillor, Mayor Candidates
Jesse Ritcey Answered

The hiring of an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion coordinator was a recent great step because I think the workplace and civic culture we have influences our ability to attract and retain diverse staff. Any bullying and harassment needs to be addressed. I personally feel the treatment of bylaws staff during that department's reorganization did not give the impression that we have a caring organization that lifts up its staff, nor was our treatment of the volunteer group that was managing St. Andrews on the Square abruptly notifying them that they were no longer needed. I've also heard from too many staff with health issues/injuries that were not adequately supported, which leads me to think that we are not offering a workplace for people with diverse abilities in the first place. I would once again like to see us fly the pride flag at City Hall during pride week and act as event sponsors (either monetarily or by waiving permit fees/providing venues), this is absolutely done in other communities. Reconciliation with indigenous peoples is another area we can advance, besides the working relationship with TteS, which is great, but it means real progress on addressing the 200+ people without housing on the streets of Kamloops, 47% of which are indigenous.

While we may not be in charge of any hiring as a Council, besides the CAO, we can set a tone that sends a message about the City of Kamloops being a welcoming, inclusive, and encouraging work environment for all people.

Describe how you will address housing needs and housing that people can afford in your community?

Asked by: Kamloops and District Labour Council asked the City Councillor, Mayor Candidates
Jesse Ritcey Answered

To address this challenge we can increase the supply of affordable units by promoting density and in-fill, through planning moves such as pre-zoning areas for greater lot coverage and height along transit supportive corridors. We should ask the province to expand the foreign buyers tax to Kamloops, as a TRU study indicated not having it is creating a 15% premium in prices against jurisdictions with the tax.

We can lower the cost of services, and consequently property taxes, by better containing urban sprawl development on the outskirts of town. We can lower utility costs by embracing progress on the BC Energy Step Code and use of nature based climate solutions like planting more trees to mitigate urban heat effects. Both property taxes and utility costs are to some extent passed on to renters.

We can also make affordability a requirement to qualify for a revitalization tax exemption credit, instead of the current practice of handing them out to developers without accountability.

Leadership on Council matters, to support the implementation of these moves and set the overall policy direction, so electing myself and like minded people on October 15th is another way we can make progress on this issue.

What can local governments do to attract and create green jobs and businesses in their community?

Asked by: Kamloops and District Labour Council asked the City Councillor, Mayor Candidates
Jesse Ritcey Answered

One thing that is often missed is understanding that green entrepreneurs are interested in living healthy, outdoor lifestyles. Dedicated bike lanes that are physically separated from traffic are a must for a business to be able to locate and recruit talent to live here. Creating vibrant neighborhood cores, with apartment/condo living so folks can travel and not have a yard to look after, but also access to amenities like parks and urban nature. An example of what may become a good center for green businesses is the North Shore, where we see the Kamloops Innovation Centre and TRU's space within The XChange purposefully locating in a neighborhood with large parks, the beach, brew pubs.

Besides creating the general vibe that will attract these jobs and businesses through planning, we can create demand through the investments we are making in our Community Climate Action Plan and partner with Venture Kamloops to attract businesses to fill those needs. We can also leverage our home grown talent at TRU and incubate new companies right here, through partnerships like I mentioned above, which will then grow and attract additional jobs.

What steps would you take to ensure a Pay Equity policy is in place and that the policy is applied to all staff employed by the local government?

Asked by: Kamloops and District Labour Council asked the City Councillor, Mayor Candidates
Jesse Ritcey Answered

This is a very important policy, which is currently in place at the CUPE level and then within our non-union managers we set pay rates based on responsibilities, regardless of whether a man or woman is in that position.

However, that being said, there are imbalances in practice. Our workforce does not yet represent the diversity of Kamloops and because of past hiring practices our top employees, while fairly well balanced between men and women, are still seeing men paid more because of longer service.

Do you support the Living Wage for Families Campaign? Please explain why or why not.

Asked by: Kamloops and District Labour Council asked the City Councillor, Mayor, School Trustee 73 - TEA1 Candidates
Jesse Ritcey Answered

Absolutely. I'm a firm believer in paying a living wage. I've actually put this into practice myself, over the past few years I've hired on 8 Canada summer jobs positions, which normally would be paid minimum wage of ($15.20 /hr). Instead, we've done additional fundraising and grant writing to ensure we could offer $20/hr positions, because anything less felt exploitive to me in our current economic reality.

I'm also concerned about people who are unable to work full time and would like to see the federal government explore bringing in a universal basic income to fill in the gaps. Current support systems for people with medical issues or other barriers to employment are stigmatizing and designed on a cost saving model of challenging sick people and those unable to advocate for themselves to deny benefits.

Describe your position on Contracting Out and Public Private Partnerships and how they effect existing jobs.

Asked by: Kamloops and District Labour Council asked the City Councillor, Mayor, School Trustee 73 - TEA1 Candidates
Jesse Ritcey Answered

I am not a supporter of contracting out. The past experience when companies have bid on jobs against CUPE staff is that we had better results when the work was done internally. The City of Kamloops should be developing internal capacity wherever possible with good paying jobs. In fact, from time to time there have been budget requests to hire on more staff, for example carpenters and electricians, and the math has shown that it would save money. While Council doesn't directly decide these matters, any time a budget issue comes up we can enquire whether the work will be done internally or externally.

We pay a premium to temporarily hire others and due to a desire to maximize profit those companies may be paying their workers less or cutting corners on health and safety. One concrete example of advocacy I've been doing in this area is wanting to remove the for-profit Ohio based company that is running our transit system by having BC Transit operate the system directly, as they do in Victoria.

P3s, in my view, have been used mainly to undercut existing contracts and weaken union workplaces. In rare circumstances like for highly specialized project work where it doesn't make sense to maintain those capacities within the public sector or where governments are genuinely partnering in an area of private industry expertise, these may be appropriate. In that case, when choosing partners governments should use their influence and evaluate bids based on raising, not lowering, standards.

What are the top three critical issues facing your community?

Asked by: Kamloops and District Labour Council asked the City Councillor, Mayor Candidates
Jesse Ritcey Answered

The tag for my campaign is: Housing. Safety. Kindness. Which indicates what I think are the three critical issues we need to address.

The cost of rent and of buying a new home is increasingly unaffordable. There's a range of strategies we can employ around densification to reduce the cost of servicing units, pre-zoning areas for greater lot coverage, asking the province to extend the foreign buyer's tax to Kamloops, and increasing energy efficiency.

Safety is key. We must think of safety broadly, including mitigating the effects of climate disasters to prevent heat deaths, working to prevent deaths from the toxic drug supply, addressing bullying and harassment based on gender, race, or sexual orientation, addressing gang violence and shootings, addressing property crime, and creating a sense of personal security when walking through the city core.

Finally kindness, we need to take down the temperature when discussing the above issues. We need to remind each other that every person has value and needs to be welcomed and included. Anger is being misdirected towards groups of people and service providers like BC Housing and Ask Wellness, when we in fact need more resources and supporters, not less. Our point in time count shows that year after year we haven't made meaningful progress in housing the at least 200 people who are on the streets right now. We need more educators, more social workers, and more street nurses. We also need to design our civic programming to support healthy growth and development of children and families to help reduce future issues. Parks and recreation, urban nature, bike lanes, and a centre of the arts are all good ideas to work towards.

Are you or have you ever been active in any community organizations, actions, or campaigns?
Describe your volunteer work, positions, and any tangible change to the community from your involvement. Are you still involved with this work?

Asked by: Kamloops and District Labour Council asked the City Councillor, Mayor, School Trustee 73 - TEA1 Candidates
Jesse Ritcey Answered

Yes, some of the activities I've been involved in include:

Kamloops Naturalist Club board member: helped coordinate Lac Du Bois grasslands cleanups and McArthur Island/BC Rivers Day cleanups. Various campaigns to support expansion of park land and protection from environmental impacts. I've continued this work, although I've left the board and for most of the past four years been involved in a paid employee capacity, being able to do the most wonderful projects. These include running a three year youth environmental leadership program from 2019 to 2021 working with students from area high schools and TRU. Helping coordinate an indigenous food sovereignty, public health, and community building project in partnership with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, Skeetchestn, and Whispering Pines bands. Overseeing a participatory research study on advancing urban nature through the use of native plants around homes and businesses.

Kamloops Food Policy Council board member/Co-President: For the past few years I've been on the board of KFPC. In a volunteer capacity assisting with grant writing, strategic planning, hiring, the Butler Urban Farm project on the North Shore, media interviews, and event organizing. I'm continuing on the board, although I've stepped back for the duration of the election as KFPC is an active advocate for a more sustainable, regenerative, and just food system.

Kamloops Pride Board: I'm just coming to a close of my first year on the board! It's been an awesome experience helping with event planning, outreach, and pride week.

Other clubs/organizations like participating in the Kamloops Permaculture group (as well as helping organize a couple field trips), sharing horticulture knowledge on the Kamloops Green and Garden facebook page, participating in the Kamloops Voter Society reboot, facilitating community discussion around civic issues on the Kamloops Dialogue Nexus facebook page, and advocating for the Community Climate Action Plan alongside allies from Transition Kamloops and BC Sustainable Energy Association Kamloops chapter.

If you are a Union member, does your union (provide union/local name) offer endorsement to members running for public office? If so, have you applied for/received endorsement from your union?

Asked by: Kamloops and District Labour Council asked the City Councillor, Mayor, School Trustee 73 - TEA1 Candidates
Jesse Ritcey Answered

Not applicable to me as a self-employed contractor.

Have you ever been a candidate or volunteered in a previous civic, provincial, or federal election? If so, please give details.

Asked by: Kamloops and District Labour Council asked the City Councillor, Mayor, School Trustee 73 - TEA1 Candidates
Jesse Ritcey Answered

This is my first time as an actual candidate but I've supported past municipal and federal candidates of a couple different parties who I felt would be best suited to make progressive change (and win, which is tough under our current voting system).