City of Kamloops councillor candidate profile: Randy Sunderman

Meet Randy Sunderman

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?

Randy Sunderman: A combination of professional experience and community involvement puts me in a good position to contribute to the next Kamloops City Council. I am an economic consultant who specializes in economic development, land use assessments, and feasibility studies. I have worked in over 100 municipalities and local governments across Canada over the past thirty years. Locally, I have been on numerous boards and committees covering a diverse range of business and community topics in Kamloops over the past twenty years.

What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the community today?

Sunderman: My platform is centred on six strategic areas including: Spending, Safety and Security, Supporting Business Success, Sustainability, and Shared Engagement. While identified separately, they are interconnected; addressing one requires consideration of the others. Collectively they highlight many issues and challenges; however, it is important to recognize there are numerous opportunities possible as well. Finally, this is all connected by how Council approaches its strategic planning, with the key being ensuring clear, concise goals and that outcomes are in place. This must be followed by annual work plans that lay out, track and connect to the CAOs annual performance review. This is laid out in my platform and outlined in more detail on my website: https://sunderman-for-council.com

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?

Sunderman: With drug toxicity deaths having gone from 26 (2019) to 77 (2021), Kamloops ranks among the highest per capita death rates of municipalities in British Columbia. In an effort to reverse this trajectory, we need to start formulating our own vision. I propose four specific steps as a starting point, including:

1) Working with the community to ensure we have adequate housing for those that need it. The City needs to accelerate its partnerships and play a more direct role with provincial and federal governments, proactively leveraging the resources for the housing we need.

2) Ensuring supports are adequately resourced and can be accessed in a timely manner – too many people are falling through the cracks. The City needs to advocate more specifically for those missing pieces.

3) Pushing for consequences for bad behaviour connected to services along the line of models used in Europe, which connects housing, justice, mental health, and addiction services to address street entrenched persons. Perhaps leverage the justice approach being piloted in Kelowna. Kamloops needs to advocate for a pilot project to test and refine a model like this in Canada. This pilot also needs to include efforts to more actively address property crime and criminal activity with resources the City controls.

4) Establishing clear performance measures, working with service organizations and the province to demonstrate progress and value for investments in Kamloops.

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?

Sunderman: The City has a Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP) that targets greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions of 30 per cent by 2030. To achieve this the City recently set its funding plan, highlighting a 0.35 per cent annual increase between now and 2031. Unfortunately, this plan has already been impacted by the 2022 inflation of 7.5 per cent and will be further impacted by future heightened inflation rates. Currently the CCAP funding plan is based on 2 per cent inflation annually.

So right off, the CCAP implementation needs immediate attention focusing resources on projects that have the greatest reduction of GHG emissions. To achieve this, the focus will be on four key activities, including:

1) Recognize the flexibility required in budgeting for climate action while maintaining a proactive approach to resourcing.

2) Identify new CCAP related City business opportunities that could be brought online to generate revenue and reduce tax funded component of climate action.

3) Continuously target the best return-on-investment that results from maximizing GHG reduction.

4) Given the tight timelines to hit the 30 per cent by 2030, demonstrate annual progress.

The current plan of reporting once each Council term risks missing intermediate progress, and could impair the overall progress to the 30 per cent objective.

How can the City of Kamloops strengthen its partnership with Tk’emlups te Secwepemc and continue working toward reconciliation with First Nations?

Sunderman: Firstly, I believe the City and Tk’emlups te Secwepemc should be congratulated on their early work towards reconciliation. Throughout my work career I have had the opportunity to work with numerous Indigenous communities and organizations. Over this time, I have learned that the first thing I need to do is listen. Through respectful dialogue, a path will emerge to continue to work towards reconciliation.

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.

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