Castanet Kamloops is going to help you get to know the candidates running for city councillor over the next several weeks. Each weekday morning starting on Sept. 12, we will be posting a Q&A for each hopeful running for Kamloops council in the Oct. 15 local general election. Every council candidate will be asked the same questions, and their answers, submitted to Castanet by email, are published in full.
Castanet Kamloops: Why do you think you would be a good councillor for the City of Kamloops? What unique perspective, skills or vision do you bring to the table?
Dennis Giesbrecht: I believe I would be a great councillor because my work has taken me all over North America and the world and I have seen the results of good and bad governance. I believe attempting to reinvent the wheel is foolish, we need to be humble enough to learn from other cities, their successes and failures and seek out best practices. I have an ability to learn from unusual sources and bring that to the table. My vision is to see Kamloops become a leader in accountability and transparency, not just at city hall, but also every government funded agency operating here.
What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the community today?
Giesbrecht: Easily the most significant issues in Kamloops are street crime and an increase [in] people feeling unsafe, this feeling bleeds into every other aspect of life. These street issues impact small and larger business, people's ability to enjoy the city and our perception with tourists. Open drug use, petty and not so petty crime, mental health and addictions have all lead to the state of our streets today and weak leadership at the city level has lead to agencies running unchecked without regard for their impacts on communities. We also have a housing affordability problem and much of our most vulnerable are forced into neighbourhoods with high crime, this is unacceptable. Addressing these issues will have large impacts throughout the city.
How can the city best tackle social issues — mental health, addictions, homelessness, crime — given the need to work with other levels of government responsible for those areas?
Giesbrecht: Kamloops must push for long term recovery based treatments for mental and drug addiction to help street entrenched individuals that is accountable to the community. These facilities must be transparent in their goals and the focus must be on improving their clients, not padding their bank accounts. While many levels of government are involved, Kamloops must be the primary stakeholder and have the final say on locations and sizes of these centres. Our city council must be prepared to use any tool available to force agencies to understand Kamloops is a major partner and this is our community and we must have an equal say in how we move forward.
Kamloops and area has felt the impacts in recent years of a changing climate. What do you think the city should do to foster climate resilience and reduce emissions?
Giesbrecht: The city has a climate action plan and we must look at the actions from the plan that are under civic control. Densifying housing in core areas reduces energy use and has the secondary upside of affordability.
Kamloops needs to work on resiliency. Flood and fire protection should be a primary goal, supported by the province.
Many politicians will promise the world when it comes to a green future but much of these goals are at the provincial and federal level and we must move toward an actionable plan and not buzzwords.
How can the City of Kamloops strengthen its partnership with Tk’emlups te Secwepemc and continue working toward reconciliation with First Nations?
Giesbrecht: The partnership between Kamloops and Tk’emlups te Secwepemc must be seen as equals working for the good of the region.
As an individual I can not dictate terms of reconciliation, my roll is to be supportive and listen. This must be First Nations lead.
Visit Castanet's Kamloops Votes page to find profiles for City of Kamloops mayoral and councillor candidates along with links to candidates' websites and social media accounts if available.