City of Kamloops councillor candidate profile: Bonnie Cleland

Get to know Bonnie Cleland

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?

Bonnie Cleland: I have lived in Kamloops for 27 years and I have lived in other cities and countries for seven years (one year each in Mexico, Nicaragua and Australia, and university in Victoria). This gives me both a local, home grown and an international perspective. I know what it is like to grow up here as well as what it is like to move to a city where you don’t speak the language.

My younger brother has autism, so growing up I have been acutely aware of the various challenges and barriers he faces into community inclusion. By harnessing these three parts of my experience I can look at various issues from different lenses to ensure that no one is left out of consideration.

My two greatest strengths involve working in a team: energy and brainstorming. Which ever team I am part of, I bring up the energy of the entire group. I don’t have any preconceptions to why certain ideas or strategies won’t work, and I have the enthusiasm to bring them to life. I can bring together ideas from multiple sources and combine them into one vision, and I thrive bouncing off the ideas and strategies of others. I uplift the entire group.

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

Cleland: Certainly the two most often brought up with regards to this particular election are community safety and housing. I think these two issues are interrelated and tackling them will be a multifaceted approach. Other issues talked about are transportation, infrastructure and spending. What I wish we would talk about more are food security, availability of childcare and including commercial businesses in sustainable practices and habits.

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?

Cleland: I think the lynchpin at the centre of all these issues is safe shelter. Inaccessible housing, unsafe housing, and limited temporary housing exacerbate all these other issues and it is well within the purview of the city government to introduce and support strategies to provide housing for those living in the community.

Secondly would be to access funding through various levels of government and support the local organizations that are on the ground floor and intimately involved with those at the centre of these issues.

Thirdly would be supporting community development and programs designed to support individuals before they reach the level of crisis currently facing the community.

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?

Cleland: I would love to see zoning and building code that allows for more resilient building structures. There are innovative designs that allow for less pressure on existing infrastructure systems (off grid, water capture, passive solar gain etc) that are cumbersome to build because of bureaucracy and red tape. If we could streamline those, more buildings could sustain themselves and consume less system energy.

There is a lot of focus on individual responsibility and what each family can do to reduce their footprint but a bigger effect would be to include businesses (both big and small) and make it easier for them to participate in effect programs. Basically, I would like to see it more expensive to be wasteful and cheaper to be sustainable.

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

Cleland: This is an important question that I don’t have a clean and concise answer for. My first instinct would be to follow the example of New Zealand, which has included Maori language in the school system and traditional celebrations in their sports. As a country, they have established pride within their communities and allowed for open communications. Currently in Canada and certainly in Kamloops, the hurt is still being or yet to be acknowledged and talked about with intentional listening, dealing with the complex emotions and how people of the present can move forward with behaviours and decisions of the past. I think that it is critical to continue showcasing the past by sharing stories from those with firsthand experience, and agree that while the blame may not rest with us personally, ownership over the past can allow us to move 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.

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