Castanet Kamloops is going to help you get to know the candidates running for city councillor over the next few weeks. Every 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. All council candidates 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?
Stephen Karpuk: Number one is I work well with others, and the next council is going to have to work well together and with others to achieve the changes we need. I am an optimist/realist and I have been told I don't think inside the box, so I hope to bring a fresh approach and a passion for helping guide our city. I am a business person and I hope to bring the accountability to the city. I am not afraid to spend money if it gets the results and returns that are needed or desired. My mom said I was always the kid who watched, observed, analyzed before proceeding and I have found that useful for achieving the goals I set out.
What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the community today?
Karpuk: For many, safety is number one. Kamloopsians need to feel safe and secure in their community. No one should have to worry about going for a walk, a bike ride or drive in Kamloops, at any time of day or in any part of our vast beautiful city. Business owners, employees, and residents should feel safe and secure in knowing that they can live without having to worry about theft, or violence. Business needs to know that the city supports them and won't hinder their ability to do business or grow. Streets need to be properly cleared of snow so all commuters can safely get to and from their desired destination. Use pervious concrete sidewalks for Dallas Drive, Parkcrest and Puett Ranch Road so that pedestrians are safer. Finish the Rivers Trail from Dallas to Tranquille, Westsyde, Rayleigh so that we have options for a healthier and safer commute. We need to look after our infrastructure so our community is safe.
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?
Karpuk: We need to choose the next RCMP superintendent for Kamloops who has an operational focus to reduce crime and a track record that backs it up. Then back them up with advocacy for keeping criminals in jail or helping those with mental health needs get proper care. We need to push government for a much-needed sobering centre and getting IHA to staff it. We need to increase Kamloops Fire Rescue and paramedics personnel to match our growth as we are seriously understaffed. Better yet, we should build a joint training centre to recruit and fire and paramedic personnel from, generate income from and use it to keep veteran staff engaged and wanting to stay here.
We need to lobby the Province to ensure Kamloops is properly outfitted as a regional health centre, instead of being Kelowna-centric. We need our Cancer Centre. We need more surgical and cardiac capacity in Kamloops. We need more beds to make that happen. Lobby hard for them. We need local solutions so that we get what we need and hopefully what we want to fix our challenges.
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?
Karpuk: We can start by putting in place a tree preservation policy and increasing the green spaces. We really need to finish our Rivers Trail from Dallas to Tranquille, up to Westsyde and over to Rayleigh and Heffley so that alternate commuting is possible and most importantly, safe. Further, we need to prioritize these routes with year round services so that they are available year round, not just if there is not snow.
I think increasing bus service and looking at transportation hubs to connect areas in Kamloops is key. Bus service is far from acceptable and we need to do a lot better. We also need to finish the diking system along the river. By doing this we can connect the Rivers Trail in a lot more areas of the city and protect our infrastructure, homes and businesses from the risk of flooding.
I also want to see us use pervious concrete for sidewalks, driveways, parking lots. This would allow rainwater to stay where it lands and reduce the need for other infrastructure. These are just a start of what we need to do.
How can the City of Kamloops strengthen its partnership with Tk’emlups te Secwepemc and continue working toward reconciliation with First Nations?
Karpuk: Partnerships are built on trust and support and strengthened by repeated positive interactions. I think we can work on joint projects for housing, infrastructure like a Rivers Trail system and water and sewer plus look at mutually beneficial economic development projects. We need to be open, willing to listen, and willing to consider options that might not be the ones we thought of. I think frequent interactions with joint committees can help build understanding on issues and concerns so that we can address the underlying interests that are mutual. This will take time and I am happy to walk and work with our neighbours and friends at Tk’emlups te Secwepemc.
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.