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?
Jesse Ritcey: I believe we need to elect different people to get different results. I think being a renter, a transit user, a member of the 2SLGBT+ community, and someone looking for a family doctor provides me insights into issues and challenges facing parts of our community that may be missed by more traditional candidates. At the same time, I’m someone with deep involvement in many community organizations, who has the kind of board experience, understanding of financial management, and knowledge of civic operations to effectively create change. I’ve followed council proceedings closely for a long time. I’ve read the agendas, I've attended public hearings, council meetings, 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’m familiar with the city departments, how policy is developed, what the levers for change are, and what the limitations are for this role.
What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the community today?
Ritcey: I think housing affordability, community safety, and the need for kindness in how we treat each other are the most pressing issues we face. Everyone needs a roof over their head, to feel safe from theft, assault or discrimination, and to feel welcome in our city. We need to make Kamloops attractive to doctors and entrepreneurs and have awesome amenities like a centre for the arts, more urban nature, bike lanes, low cost activities for families, and continued support for sports and recreation at all levels.
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?
Ritcey: While it is true that as a municipality we have limited room to maneuver on our own because of jurisdiction and fiscal capacity, council should not duck or dodge responsibility for fixing these issues. There are things we can do in terms of pilot projects, utilizing our community assets like Thompson Rivers University and non-profit organizations, to effectively demonstrate leadership on these issues.
We should always take a solutions oriented approach, looking at what we can do within our power, such as assisting with land acquisition and zoning for medical hubs, creating the conditions for housing affordability, and fixing issues with the roll out of our community services officer program.
We should focus on being effective partners for other levels of government. Just as we need to attract private investment, we are also in competition to attract BC Housing projects and provincial and federal grants. Creating red tape and deflecting anger to other levels of government makes us seem like unsuitable partners. We should instead be making sure we are investing in our own staffing capacity to partner effectively and capitalize on opportunities.
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?
Ritcey: As someone who participated in the development of our Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP) I would encourage people to read the eight big moves identified within the plan. Encouraging densification and in-fill, improving transit and active transportation, preparing for the roll out of EV's, progressing along the B.C. energy step code, reducing waste, renewable energy, increasing the efficiency of our civic operations, and creating a healthy urban ecosystem are all steps we should take. We have the data and solutions outlined in a plan, now we just need leadership to implement and fund it.
How can the City of Kamloops strengthen its partnership with Tk’emlups te Secwepemc and continue working toward reconciliation with First Nations?
Ritcey: I’m so grateful to be living on the unceded, traditional territory of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc, within Secwépemc'ulucw. As part of the Kamloops Food Policy Council and through my work for an environmental conservation and education non-profit, I have a lot of work experience with Indigenous communities, on protecting Tmicw (the land), community development, and health promotion projects.
The City of Kamloops has a good community to community forum where our mayor and council regularly meets with Kúkpi7 Rosanne Casimir and TteS councillors. We should build on this partnership model by encouraging more interactions between the people within our communities.
We must also remember the history of colonization and residential schools when we think about public policy. For instance, 47 per cent of those experiencing homelessness in Kamloops are Indigenous, a vast over-representation resulting from intergenerational trauma and that ongoing legacy. Reconciliation is a responsibility that I will take seriously to work towards.
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.