Five Kamloops council candidates who think the city is responsible for drug, street issues - InfoNews

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Five Kamloops council candidates who think the city is responsible for drug, street issues

Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
October 09, 2018 - 6:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - Kamloops, like many communities across North America, has seen an increase in street issues involving drugs, homelessness, crime and disorder and all the impacts these issues have on the general population.

When we considered our questions for candidates we wanted to know if they understood how this problem developed and what role a city council can take in tackling such complex problems. 

We asked this question: Drug and street issues have become a major issue in the past few years. Does the City of Kamloops share any responsibility for this development? If so, what should have been done differently?

Here are the responses from the candidates on what they think about current initiatives and their suggestions of how things could be done differently.

The full responses are included at the bottom of the story. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

FIVE CANDIDATES WHO SAY THE CITY MUST TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY (AND ACT)

Nicholas Adams: It would be naive to say that our city had no part in these issues. Going forward, we can ensure that we do not continue to perpetuate social issues, by addressing them now and making good decisions going forward to prevent future difficulties.

Caroline King: I do think the city shares some responsibility in this development and I say that because I believe that council should have pushed for wrap-around services to be in place ahead of safe consumption. I understand that this program was not something council had a say in but there were warnings by RCMP that our city was not ready to manage what was growing in the streets and those warnings seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Dennis Giesbrecht: Illegal drugs and crime go hand in hand. The city shares some responsibility with every stakeholder. The city needs to hold all agencies to a higher standard, RCMP, and bylaws should have been more proactive than reactive.

Bill Sarai: With Interior Health Authority taking the lead we were ill-equipped to get ahead of the negative issues the safe injection site posed. The city should have never located it downtown beside the two largest senior homes and largest daycare. We need to step up and enough of this unlimited needle handouts with no accountability of the disposal.

William James Turnbull (mayoral candidate): Yes. Permanent temporary shelters with wrap-around services.

TEN CANDIDATES WHO THINK KAMLOOPS DID ITS BEST BUT COULD USE NEW IDEAS:

Kathy Sinclair
Kathy Sinclair
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Facebook

Kathy Sinclair: Increasing positive activity in challenging neighbourhoods through real estate development, density, sports, and cultural activities, and a mix of desirable businesses will bring more people into areas that are problematic, developing community and creating a natural “neighbourhood watch."

Sadie Hunter: I believe the city, along with the RCMP and local agencies, are doing the best they can. Many communities share similar challenges and there has been value in learning from others what can be done better.

Mike O'Reilly: Drug and street issues need to be dealt with in a collaborative approach with by-law officers, RCMP, the provincial government and Interior Health. We must continue to push on Interior Health and the province to provide more services and care.

Gerald Kenyon Watson: The City’s role is to foster economic development so there are employment opportunities for those trying to get their lives in order and to ensure the available programs and infrastructure are applied effectively at the local level. Direct action could include grants to offset property taxes for agencies servicing this population and subsidized transit passes for those seeking employment.

Alison Klie: Affordable housing for people of all backgrounds through increased construction and meaningful employment for the citizens of Kamloops are a start. We also need to help those that are at risk of falling through the cracks in the system and provide them an alternative path. School lunch programs, counselling, after-school programs, and other supports like these are vital to helping children succeed in the future.

Arjun Singh: We are actively trying to secure housing and social services that will meet the needs of the community. We may have to take a more central role in funding some of these initial services so we don’t end up paying a lot more later.

Denis Walsh: The city has a responsibility to be proactive, however like wildfires, the extent of the problem is somewhat beyond our control, we need a big community-wide effort to manage the challenges that drug and street issues create for our community.

Dale Bass: This year, the city partnered to create much-needed housing. That's a long time to leave the issue on the shoulders of social agencies. However, the city is now engaged and taking some bold steps. In addition to the new housing, the modular housing at Mission Flats will go a long way to help resolve the issues.

Ken Christian (mayoral candidate): We need to tighten up on access to drugs especially for youth. We need more wrap-around service. We need to put a second Car 40 on the road and we need more permanent affordable housing options.

Stephen Karpuk: It is the city’s job to assist and facilitate the province with delivering social programs. I believe we need, “less handouts” and more "hand ups.”

THREE CANDIDATES WHO THINK THE CITY COULD HAVE RESPONDED BETTER:

Jennifer D. Adams
Jennifer D. Adams
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Facebook

Jennifer D. Adams:  Folks need housing and they need treatment, not enabling in their drug use. The community needs effective action that protects everyone. Perhaps Kamloops is ready to consider an inside site for Overdose Prevention where folks could get medicine (Opiate Alternative Treatment) from a Dr instead of injecting poison drugs from a dealer.

Jimmy Johal: In high-crime neighbourhoods, the City needs to invest in basic safety and security infrastructure, including better lighting and motion-lighting, fencing, and maybe even security cameras, etc.

Corally Delwo: We need access to supervised successful detox. Immediate transition to treatment, without wait times, that addresses mental health issues. After that immediate placement into second stage housing that teaches sober living skills, helps with job placement and insists on mandatory community service.

 

CANDIDATES WHO DID NOT RESPOND

Dieter Dudy

Donovan Cavers

Chris Bose

Shawn Harnett

Ray Dhaliwal

 

FULL RESPONSES TO THE QUESTION: Drug and street issues have become a major issue in the past few years. Does the City of Kamloops share any responsibility for this development? If so, what should have been done differently?

Jennifer Adams: I don't know that any organization (even the city) or social agency can take all the blame for an epidemic that has swept Canada and the rest of the world.  What we can do is try to respond more effectively than everyone else and set an example of how to do things better. There are things we could do different, beginning with finding and supporting programs that act to more effectively transitions folks from dependency. Harm reduction is treading very closely to enabling and there is not enough being done to help people get off drugs. Supplying clean needles and reducing overdose is not enough.  Kamloops moved ahead with a plan for the mobile unit when most cities were still debating consumption sites and bravely moved ahead. We have had some time with the bus in our neighbourhoods and people want to see some changes. Performance reviews and core review of social agencies will help address funding gaps and performance measures will help as we move forward and tweak some of the response plans. The municipality needs more input and control of some of the actions social organizations are rolling out to better serve the whole community to ensure programs are effective and stop impacting neighbourhoods the way they are.

Denis WalshThis is a huge challenge for many communities. Drug and street issues are under the Provincial government responsibilities and there has been a lack of funding available under the previous government. The City has been working on managing these issues, we have been playing catch-up. The city has a responsibility to be proactive, however like wildfires, the extent of the problem is somewhat beyond our control, we need a big community-wide effort to manage the challenges that drug and street issues create for our community.

Jimmy Johal: Drug and street issues are health, crime, safety, and security issues.  And there’s a lot of overlap of responsibility among all the levels of government – municipal, provincial, and federal.  That being said, I do think the City of Kamloops has been very slow responding to the growing street problems, from drugs to petty crime to discarded needles.  Before any solutions can be found, the first step is acknowledging that problem exists, and for some reason, current Council has been way too slow doing even that.  This has put additional pressure on our neighbourhoods, city resources, and police. Also, City Council is the one approving harm reduction facilities in our neighbourhoods.  Police stats clearly show that areas where harm reduction services are located often become hotspots of criminal activity.  Knowing this, we need to plan better and have adequate resources available for dealing with these problems, before approving such facilities.  That is just as much a part of their responsibility to the community, as is providing harm reduction services to those who need them. In high-crime neighbourhoods, the City needs to invest in basic safety and security infrastructure, including better lighting and motion-lighting, fencing, and maybe even security cameras, etc.

Corally Delwo: Looking at the situation rapidly escalating to the point that communities are becoming increasingly angry is a serious issue that the city will have to stop ignoring. However, due to the legislation of the federal and provincial government, their decisions overrule the city bylaws or wishes. Being that a lot of the decisions by interior health are out of the municipal jurisdiction the only thing that we can do as a council and a community is to work together to create long-term solutions. Addictions is being handled all wrong. The underlying issues of mental illness, trauma, and FAS, for example, are being ignored. The health authority is content with just treating and streeting them. The only way to deal with this is to create a fluid 3 stage recovery system. We need access to supervised successful detox. Immediate transition to treatment, without wait times, that addresses mental health issues. After that immediate placement into second stage housing that teaches sober living skills, helps with job placement and insists on mandatory community service.  Give them reason, dignity, and self-worth. 

Sadie Hunter: I believe the city, along with the RCMP and local agencies, are doing the best they can. Many communities share similar challenges and there has been value in learning from others what can be done better.

Nicholas Adams: Kamloops is not alone, as social issues are a difficulty in every community. The causes of these problems range too widely to determine any direct cause. It would be naive to say that our city had no part in these issues. Going forward, we can ensure that we do not continue to perpetuate social issues by addressing them now and making good decisions going forward to prevent future difficulties.

Mike O'Reilly: Drug and street issues need to be dealt with in a collaborative approach with by-law officers, RCMP, the provincial government and Interior Health. We must continue to push on Interior Health and the province to provide more services and care.

Caroline King: I do think the city shares some responsibility in this development and I say that because I believe that council should have pushed for wrap-around services to be in place ahead of Safe Consumption. I understand that this program was not something council had a say in but there were warnings by RCMP that our city was not ready to manage what was growing in the streets and those warnings seemed to fall on deaf ears. I can't help but wonder what may have been different if the city council had fought for those necessary services.

Dennis Giesbrecht: Illegal drugs and crime go hand in hand. The city shares some responsibility with every stakeholder. The city needs to hold all agencies to a higher standard,  RCMP and bylaws should have been more proactive than reactive. IHA holds some blame when the supervised injection sights were proposed they promised to be sensitive to the neighbourhoods but their reaction to the needle and crime issues have been anything but cooperative. 

Dale Bass: Sixteen years ago, I was doing stories on the homeless and marginalized and the need for proper housing. This year, the city partnered to create much-needed housing. That's a long time to leave the issue on the shoulders of social agencies. However, the city is now engaged and taking some bold steps. In addition to the new housing, the modular housing at Mission Flats will go a long way to help resolve the issues.

Gerald Kenyon Watson: Homelessness and addiction are a North America wide mental health problem and have been for some time. The Province and Federal governments need to step up and introduce comprehensive programs and infrastructure to assist these individuals. The City’s role is to foster economic development so there are employment opportunities for those trying to get their lives in order and to ensure the available programs and infrastructure are applied effectively at the local level. Direct action could include grants to offset property taxes for agencies servicing this population and subsidized transit passes for those seeking employment.

William James Turnbull: Yes. Permanent Temporary Emergency Shelters with wrap around services.

Alison Klie: I don’t think these are issues that should be blamed on anyone. I do think they need to be addressed and analyzed. We need to be looking at the information and statistics that we have and decide if what we are doing is effectively combatting the problem. Right now we are doing everything we can to treat the symptom of homelessness and addiction, we also need to begin treating the cause. Affordable housing for people of all backgrounds through increased construction and meaningful employment for the citizens of Kamloops are a start. We also need to help those that are at risk of falling through the cracks in the system and provide them an alternative path. School lunch programs, counselling, after-school programs, and other supports like these are vital to helping children succeed in the future.

Arjun Singh: I don’t think the City of Kamloops is responsible for the problems but we are responsible for helping to try to solve them. We are actively trying to secure housing and social services that will meet the needs of the community. We may have to take a more central role in funding some of these initial services so we don’t end up paying a lot more later.

Stephen Karpuk: It is the city’s job to assist and facilitate the province with delivering social programs. I believe we need, “less handouts”, and more,” hand ups”. 

Bill Sarai: Yes, with IHA taking the lead, we were ill-equipped to get ahead of the negative issues the safe injection site posed.   The City should have NEVER located it downtown beside the 2 largest senior homes and the largest daycare.   We as a City should have enough say in the well being of our whole community.   We need to step up and enough of this unlimited needle handouts with no accountability of the disposal.  This, in turn, this does not help the drug addicted seek any help, all they are concerned about is getting their next fix,   I understand addiction is a very powerful force, most people do not understand the strength of it.  But on the flip side, this harm reduction method is only helping the drug dealers stay in business at the cost of our fellow human beings.

Kathy Sinclair: I can’t think of one city that does not have drug and street issues. A historical lack of provincial social supports, especially for mental health and addiction, has been a major factor. But rather than dwell on “what could have been,” I feel strongly that we need to focus on taking action from where we are today. Council has made great strides over the past year by approving new housing projects that will offer 24/7 support and aim to get to the root causes of drug and street issues, connecting people to the resources they need to get back on track. Everyone has the right to feel safe in our community. Continued RCMP and bylaws officers' presence and enforcement are vital to ensure that safety. The CAP Team is making a positive difference downtown and now on the North Shore (something I championed during my campaign last year). Increasing positive activity in challenging neighbourhoods -- through real estate development, density, sports, and cultural activities, and a mix of desirable businesses -- will bring more people into areas that are problematic, developing community and creating a natural “neighbourhood watch.” Beyond this, we need to get to the root causes of petty crime and violence, which could include homelessness, mental health, and substance use issues. I’m not suggesting we go soft on criminals; we need to be tough on crime, especially in the drug trade. We can not tolerate losing even one more person to fentanyl overdose, and we need to cut the supply off at the source with harsh penalties.

Ken Christian: Drug and street issues are a serious issue in Kamloops as they are in every other city our size in B.C. We have done a pretty good job but there is more to do. We need to tighten up on access to drugs, especially for youth. We need more wrap-around service. We need to put a second Car 40 on the road and we need more permanent affordable housing options.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards 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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