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?
Darpan Sharma: I have been involved with my page Politics Kamloops in bringing out issues affecting our community for the last two years. I have a master's degree in business administration, came to Canada in 2003 as an international student, have corporate experience in India, Canada, and the US. I have worked very hard on issues concerning crime, homelessness, accountability, transparency, ethics and integrity, and last but not least fiscal responsibility. I was solely responsible to bring out the very disturbing spending practices of our city council and management on Terra Restaurant on food and alcohol. I have also interviewed numerous businesses on how crime and drugs are destroying their livelihoods.
Before the election, politicians are known to make lots of promises, and many a time they never follow through and that’s where I will make my mark. I have never been scared of being politically incorrect and have always followed through with my promises, I have a proven track record of following through with my promises since I'm not looking to be there for more than two terms, and I have self-imposed two term limits. To know more about me and my work in the community please check out my Facebook page, Politics Kamloops.
What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the community today?
Sharma: Uncontrollable crime, open drug use, no community engagement on social housing, high numbers of closed-door meetings, the poisonous work environment in the City of Kamloops, unaffordable housing prices, unethical spending practices, and the weak leadership at the city council where they have surrendered our city to the social agencies and provincial government, last but not the least our businesses are suffering because of the crime, drug use, and they need help and need help now.
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?
Sharma: I want to see recovery, accountability, and transparency be the mainstay of our fight against addiction, I have talked to hundreds of Kamloopsians through my page, Politics Kamloops, and the majority want more options for recovery and not handouts and more drugs, but that’s impossible with the enabling politicians that we currently have on our council who believe recovery is dehumanizing and recovery facilities are concentration camps. We need to work with different levels of government but we should be the main stakeholders on where these facilities should go. They have to abide by good neighbour laws, period. If they don’t, we need to be able to use every tool at the civic level to push back on these social agencies and provincial government, similarly to what other municipalities have done very successfully in the recent past, it can be done, we just need to get rid of the defeatist attitude that it's not achievable.
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?
Sharma: I have seen municipal politicians say things like It's not in our hands, we can’t do anything, it’s a provincial issue, it’s a federal issue when it comes to addiction, homelessness, and mental health. Those same politicians promise us the moon when it comes to climate change. Climate change is real and it's happening, we have all seen the effects of it in regards to fires and floods. Our city has a climate action plan which was made by people who are experts in this field. What has been achieved in the last 4-8 years from that plan? I would promote multi-family housing, which can be done at the civic level. We need to be proactive in fire and flood mitigation and planning. We need to define what we can and can't do at the municipal level for climate change and stop pandering to Kamloopsians to get votes before an election, making promises that we all know the city doesn't have control over.
How can the City of Kamloops strengthen its partnership with Tk’emlups te Secwepemc and continue working toward reconciliation with First Nations?
Sharma: Reconciliation is a very sensitive subject and it involves emotions and not politics, policies, etc. Until we have lived experience I believe reconciliation has to be dictated by our first people and not vice versa. I will do everything in my power as a councillor to follow our first people in their quest for how they want reconciliation done, they know what’s best for them.
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.