Fifty-three-year-old Kamloops chiropractor and longtime Rotarian Stephen Karpuk said he was undecided on a third run for city council when he was on an errand downtown and was told by a young person: “You know, the great thing about this town is you don’t even have to work to be here.”
“And I thought, ‘Wow,’” Karpuk said. “And, you know, they’re hanging out in front of city hall and lounging like so many others are doing down there and I just thought, ‘Wow, really? Is it that good here? Have we got the Lotusland?”
Karpuk, a Brocklehurst resident, has lived in the city for more than 40 years and it has changed during that time. He said he wants to see the city go in a “different direction” with new blood.
He said new faces would allow for a fresh look at problems facing the city.
Karpuk said a recent trip to Chilliwack and Cultus Lake revealed to him no signs of homelessness, poverty, unkempt streets or shopping carts. He said Kamloops has never had the same level of homelessness as it does now.
He questioned whether service providers are doing enough.
“Places like ASK Wellness, you’ve got to start putting them and others to account,” Karpuk said. “If you are housing people and those people — who have the very diverse needs that they do and those people are getting all the help that they are — then there shouldn’t be a problem.”
Karpuk questioned placement of a shelter in the former Greyhound bus depot in Southgate because it is an industrial area. He also takes issue with transformation of hotels and motels into housing.
He said the Fortune Motel, which has been purchased by BC Housing and will soon take in some of the city’s homeless population, used to be a place for soccer teams to stay.
Karpuk said he would like to see the city put its foot down and said Thompson Rivers University should take some weight off housing pressure by building more student housing on campus.
Karpuk said city hall has been over-extending itself, taking on matters outside of its mandate.
“We can’t do provincial stuff on mental health and health care. That’s not our role,” he said.
Karpuk previously worked in forestry, with a background in fire ecology, and has been a Rotarian for nearly two decades.
Karpuk believes the city could direct service clubs to access grant money to reduce fire risk in Kamloops. His campaign website also advocates creating a bylaw to keep streets clear of vehicles so snow crews don’t have to drive around obstacles, building a multi-purpose convention centre at Thompson Rivers University, creating a Granville Island-style market at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Columbia Street downtown and adding potable water to the Tournament Capital Ranch in Rayleigh.