B.C. Election 2020: Kamloops-South Thompson is a B.C. Liberal stronghold | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. Election 2020: Kamloops-South Thompson is a B.C. Liberal stronghold

Candidates running in the 2020 B.C. election in the Kamloops South Thompson riding.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED
October 23, 2020 - 7:00 PM

Few ridings in the province have supported the B.C. Liberals like Kamloops-South Thompson. In fact, the last party to hold the riding other than the B.C. Liberals in the last 25 years was the NDP in 1996 in a much tighter race when Cathy McGregor won with 10,135 votes. That year, the Liberals came second with 9,273 votes, but it was also before the Liberals became a real threat to take power.

South Thompson includes Kamloops south of the Thompson River, including Chase, Pritchard and Monte Lake.

In the 2017 provincial election, B.C. Liberal Incumbent Todd Stone crushed all other candidates with 15,465 votes — more than double the NDP which only got 6,072 votes. It was the same story in 2013, when Stone got nearly 15,000 votes to the NDP's Tom Friedman with 9,204. Stone is also a high profile MLA for the Liberals, is a former cabinet minister and ran for the leadership of the party, losing to Andrew Wilkinson.

Will a combination of a strong contender in Anna Thomas and three years of NDP rule be enough to change anything for the 46,345 voters in the riding? Likely not a wise bet, given the history of the riding. 

Map of the South Thompson riding.
Map of the South Thompson riding.
Image Credit: Elections BC

Demographics

The population of Kamloops is 90,280 and growing at a rate of 1.12 per cent per year, according to Statistics Canada Census information from 2016.

Residents between ages 55 and 59 take up the largest chunk of that total, and 66 per cent of residents fall in the working age group between 15 to 64 years old.

Immigrants are in the minority, making up just over 10 per cent of the population, according to Venture Kamloops data from 2016.

The main economic drivers in the region are transportation, healthcare, forestry, manufacturing, agriculture, retail and mining, according to Venture Kamloops.

Newly emerging industries include tourism, technology and green energy.

Today's issues:

In a 2018 survey conducted by the City of Kamloops, a total of 201 individuals were identified as experiencing homelessness. Of that total, 52 per cent of respondents stated that they had been homeless for a year or more and 48 per cent identified as Indigenous or were of Indigenous descent. While finding support for that population is important, the city, like many others in the B.C. interior, has struggled to manage conflicts among the greater community. 

That has forced the City of Kamloops to get involved in ways it never has before. The City announced an ambitious plan to re-designate and re-train bylaw officers to deal with more complex social issues. Mayor Ken Christian was one of several larger city mayors calling on a change in relationship with the provincial government if it's going to pick up the cheque — and the responsibility — for dealing with social issues. 

Accompanying homelessness issues is the cost of housing. The City conducted a Housing Needs Assessment in August this year which revealed that home prices have increased by 117.9 per cent from 2006 to 2019 compared to an overall inflation rate of 18.8 per cent.

Between 2005 and 2019, the median rent for a one bedroom unit increased by 74.4 per cent, making it challenging for those those earning a median income to afford a one bedroom or larger. While there has been an increase in construction and supportive housing in Kamloops, the Housing Needs Assessment reports 252 households waiting for social housing and 153 applicants waiting for supportive housing.

Kamloops also experienced a significant spike in drug related crime in 2019, and saw more people die of illegal drug overdoses in the first half of 2020 than all of 2019.

The the B.C. Coroners Service reported that Kamloops had 43 overdose deaths in Sept. 2020. Through all of 2019, 26 people died of overdoses in Kamloops.

Some issues in Kamloops have continued unabated for years: Access to family doctors, access to child care and a cancer centre so residents don't have to travel to Kelowna for treatments. On that note, however, both the Liberals and NDP have committed to bringing a cancer care centre to the city. 

Do voters show up?

In the last election, the South Thompson riding had a 64.6 per cent voter turnout. Will the pandemic change that? 

Because of the pandemic, Elections B.C. has received an unprecedented number of vote-by-mail package requests this election. As of October 13, 680,000 voters requested vote-by-mail packages. In the 2017 provincial election, 6,517 voters voted by mail.

Elections B.C. reports that as of Oct. 20, 7,898 people have voted ahead of Election Day, out of a total of 46,345 eligible voters in the riding.

Who to vote for in Kamloops South Thompson?

Dan Hines, B.C. Green Party

Dan Hines also ran in the 2017 election in the North Thompson riding, coming third after Liberal and NDP with 5,111 votes. 

He is an international leadership consultant and workshop facilitator. According to biographical information from the party, Hines spent the last two years consulting in Beijing, China and has travelled extensively throughout North America. He is an Anglican priest and an activist for innovative housing.

Todd Graham Stone, B.C. Liberal Party

Todd Stone is running for re-election and has held his seat since 2013.

According to his official candidate biography, he currently serves as the Official Opposition Critic for Municipal Affairs, Housing and TransLink and is a Member of the Select Standing Committee on Legislative Initiatives. His primary campaign promise is putting a Cancer Centre in the Royal Inland Hospital.

Anna Thomas, B.C. NDP

Anna Thomas is an Indigenous social activist and community leader from Sto:lo Territory. She was raised in Tk’emlúps te Secwe?pemc.

She is the president of the B.C. Native Women’s Association, first elected in 2018, and she also serves as second Vice President of Native Women's Association of Canada. Thomas also worked as the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy Coordinator for the BC Native Women’s Association for 3 years.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton  or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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