Castanet Kamloops is going to help you get to know the candidates running for city councillor over the next several weeks. Each 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. Every council candidate 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?
Mac Gordon: I didn’t just arrive here five minutes ago, I grew up here as a child, went to school here, became a man here and buried my parents here. Kamloops is in my DNA, it’s not just a place to live, it’s my home, it’s a part of me and I’m a part of Kamloops. And I refuse to stand idly by and let these carpetbaggers, who have been privileged in running this city continue to run it into the ground. I’m invested and I think other similarly invested residents who care about the future of our city should be at the helm rather than hired outsiders who have no roots or history in the city; the tail has been wagging the dog for too long and change is needed.
I graduated from UBC, twice, I’ve been a high school teacher and small business owner and I’m well vintaged (euphemism for for saying I’m old). I’m experienced in dealing with people from all makes of life, always looking for win-win situations and determined about not leaving any stone unturned to get the best results.
What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the community today?
Gordon: Obviously the homeless/opioid/street crime nexus is the most pressing immediate issue but city financial issues is in my view are the most concerning. Our street issues are similar to those of many other cities but our financial issues are holding us back from making any headway on these issues. Presently we are paying $10 million+ more on salaries per capita than other similar sized cities such as Kelowna, Nanaimo, Langley, Saanich, Chilliwack, Maple Ridge and others.
Our top managers salaries have become out of control, in 2019 our senior staff were making $30,000 more per person than those from Kelowna and 5 of the 6 highest salaries in these 2 cities belong to Kamloops managers at a time when Kelowna has 3x’s the annual surplus as ours? Why is it that our city manager makes only $30,000 less than Vancouver's but $60,000 more than Vernon's? In what universe does Kamloops have more in common with Vancouver than Vernon?
When compared to the five immediate larger & smaller cities, we rank 11th in cost of living, 11th in house prices, 9th in city surplus and 4th in salaries per capita. We must first get control of this overspending if we are to get any traction on a myriad of other issues which need our attention.
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?
Gordon: If you want something done right you got to do it yourself, we continue arguing amongst ourselves about which outside agencies are to locate, determine type of operation and run shelters in Kamloops. I think it’s about time we became proactive and began making those decisions ourselves. We should be dictating to Interior Health and Victoria what is best for our city, what the plan of action will be and doing so on our terms to best represent ourselves.
Unlike other candidates, I’ve actually spoken to David Eby about this very issue and asked for the government's help in setting up a Kamloops shelter nonprofit, one operated by Kamloops residents, completely independent from the city, Interior Health and Victoria. Those of us who wish to be involved would take memberships out in this new nonprofit and amongst us we would elect a local board of directors along with determining the type of shelter and rules in which it would operate under. The organization would be funded by Victoria in the same manner as the current outside organizations are. From there the board would be responsible for hiring a manager and staff. Our future premier has assured me that Victoria would be supportive in walking our group through the needed steps and help in any way in creating a template for other cities to follow. (video explanation Vote Mac Gordon for Kamloops Council - Videos | Facebook)
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?
Gordon: We have an opportunity to be bold and embrace renewable energy before other jurisdictions do. We should be capitalizing on our natural riches and superior geographical features to do so.
We get more sun per year than any other city west of the Rockies so why aren’t we taking advantage of this solar bonanza, as Drake Landing in Okotoks Alberta has done (Animation: DLSC)? We also have a high water table along the valley and strong flowing rivers which are aching to provide us with geothermal energy, so why are we ignoring them? (GeoGrid™ - Ecosmart Solution) Add these to the untouched lands of Tranquille, it’s the future of eco-friendly neighbourhoods staring us in the face, we just need to open our eyes. These natural resources would allow us to build a net energy surplus community. In addition to that, we can use the excess green energy and create a municipal utility company not unlike New Westminster, Penticton, Nelson and others have already done.
This should be our first steps to clean energy independence which will lead to future investments in our city and rebrand our city as the clean energy capital of Canada. This is something that we should be first at.
How can the City of Kamloops strengthen its partnership with Tk’emlups te Secwepemc and continue working toward reconciliation with First Nations?
Gordon: The era of City and Reserve couldn’t come quickly enough for me, it’s been a damaging relationship which has been obviously far more harmful than useful. Great strides have been made in recent years mending and building relationships but much more needs to be done.
We should be investing in Tk’emlups te Secwepemc development wherever we can with both human and financial resources as a stronger Tk’emlups te Secwepemc equals a stronger Kamloops. We should be meeting, sharing information and joint planning on a regular basis. We ought not be smug as we can learn from their experiences and boldness to help our city grow. For example, Sun Rivers is at the forefront of Geothermal Residential Energy development whilst we are lagging far behind, this is an area which we could greatly benefit by learning from their knowledge, experience and vision of foresight.
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.