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?
Taj Sandur: Firstly is simply passion. I’ve put my name forth because I care greatly about my hometown and I just want the best for it. I didn’t feel comfortable allowing other politicians to guide our future when so many are worried more so about their political profiles or padding their pensions, whereas my focus is on the common people of our city and getting results that benefit us all.
I have a wealth of business experience; I’ve worked in a family business since a very young age, dealt with the loss of that business in the 2008 recession, resurrected & restructured that company, completed my business degree in Finance, established a career in real estate, and recently returned to complete my Masters of Business Administration.
Although I’m the youngest candidate, my life experiences have allowed me to develop a valuable array of personal and professional skills, in addition to soft skills. Not only is my perspective of the business community, but also that of a minority, an event coordinator, a mentor, a student, and a young local worried about the future of the city that raised me.
What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the community today?
Sandur: The most obvious is clearly the safety risk to the public arising from crime/homelessness/drug use. I think it should be the #1 priority for any candidate. Whoever is elected to city hall needs to have a collaborative approach to find a solution for this issue and the drive/ambition to actually see it through. I can say confidently that I have both.
In addition to this, we need to address the housing crisis. As a realtor, I’m often working hand in hand with homebuyers, builders, and the city so I have the best understanding of this issue when compared to any other candidates.
I think these two issues are the most dire and need to be solved immediately. Further issues like supporting local businesses, promoting more local culture, improving transit, and making sure our youth have enough facilities for activities are also things that we need to keep in mind when shaping the future of our 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?
Sandur: We need to conduct a thorough independent analysis of the situation and acutely identify the causes and failures of our current system. Once we can figure out how the system is exactly flawed, we can begin to find solutions for each of the problems contributing to the overall degradation of our homelessness/mental health/crime etc. situation. If this analysis finds that specific parties are at fault, we can hold them responsible for their actions and terminate the behaviour and actions that are contributing to our problem.
We have to have a verifiable answer to the WHY, HOW, and WHO questions. There is far too much finger pointing, passing the buck, and lip service to confidently rely on the answers the public is receiving from the stakeholders involved, no matter if they are RCMP reps, members of the judicial system, current politicians, Interior Health, or addition healthcare service providers.
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?
Sandur: As we grow and as rising living costs are impacting everyday citizens, we need to provide a better transit system for our community. Kamloops should be a city that should strive to provide a higher degree of service and efficiency regarding our transit system. This would be the most immediate way to help with climate change but also benefit our city on multiple levels.
All other options to lessen emissions should be considered on a case by case basis. I don’t think it is wise for the city to blindly make capital investments in the hopes of fighting climate change without first analyzing the lifespan and net benefit of these investments. With technology advancing rapidly, many new ideas/products can become obsolete before we receive the maximum return out of our expenditures. We have to be wise and ensure that we don’t commit to Climate Conscious initiatives without considering what new alternatives could be coming around the corner.
How can the City of Kamloops strengthen its partnership with Tk’emlups te Secwepemc and continue working toward reconciliation with First Nations?
Sandur: This will be a long term commitment that the City of Kamloops needs to make. After coming under the microscope when the remains of 215 First Nations children were found, Kamloops was thrust into the forefront of this situation.
We have to work to provide continuing collaboration and conversations with the strong leadership group of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc. The best way in my mind to reconcile with TtS is to find opportunities and ventures for our First Nations people and the City of Kamloops to mutually thrive and find prosperity together. We can also work to help share in the culture, history, and traditions that were integral to the land that we all enjoy today.
Most importantly, we need to make sure that we don’t settle for lip service alone. Many promises are made prior to an election, and the most altruistic views are provided by politicians at this time. We have to demand action and strong follow through to ensure that we move our city and our history in the right direction forward.
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.