Candidate Q&A: Addiction, homelessness and school portables

Kamloops This Week is querying the candidates on your behalf. Each Wednesday between now and Oct. 20’s civic election, we will publish their answers to specific questions.

Nearly all of the 33 people seeking election in mayoral, council and school trustee races are taking part. Their answers are below.

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This week's questions: 

COUNCIL/MAYORAL: Considering what the city has done thus far to address the linked issues of addiction and homelessness, what should be the next step taken by city council?

SCHOOL TRUSTEE: More portables have been added to schools with enrolment issues. Do you support opening schools that were closed in the past few years? Why or why not?

Ken Christian — Mayor candidate (incumbent)

"The next step the city needs to take is to move from temporary transition housing to more permanent supported housing options. We need to work with BC Housing, the health authority and the various providers to ensure that there is adequate mental health wrap-around services and adequate detox options available when they are required. It is only with an address that individuals can start a path to recovery and wellness."

William Turnbull — Mayoral candidate

"Immediately set up a temporary emergency shelter."

Jennifer Dawn Adams — Council candidate

"Organizations and social agencies that have been funded to help care for those with mental health and addiction issues need to serve the ones they are funded to serve. Social agencies can change their mandates, but there should be core reviews on service delivery to ensure that tax dollars are going where they should be. Bringing social agencies’ housing projects into alignment with the laws that protect residents must be reviewed."

Nicholas Adams — Council candidate

"There can always be more done for those in our society who need it most. We can not take our eye off the ball when it comes to housing and addiction support. However, after someone has had their housing and food needs satisfied and addiction or mental health problems addressed, the next step must be in creating opportunity for them in our community. Opportunity can be employment, cultural or recreational."

Dale Bass — Council candidate

"Create an incentive program for developers providing a development-cost charge reduction if they designate a percentage of units/houses to low-income and no-income people. It has been in place in other Canadian municipalities for years. Could we offer homeowners a similar tax reduction for a period of time if they accept a treatment centre that would fit into the streetscape? I would like to look into that possibility."

Chris Bose — Council candidate

"We will need to review the successes and challenges of the current council plan. We cannot forget the lack of support for mental illness. That is just as much a part of this puzzle. Given that Crossroads Inn is no longer able to provide support for clients with mental illness, who is supporting these people? We need to do better when it comes to housing for all people. No one can participate in society if they do not have somewhere safe to live."

Donovan Cavers — Council candidate (incumbent)

"Solving the nuanced issues surrounding addiction, mental health, homelessness and self medication is primarily a provincial government responsibility as the province is unequivocally responsible for the healthcare system. The new BC government is certainly more amenable to investing in health but we must remain focused and ready for partnership opportunities as they are prepared and announced."

Corally Delwo — Council candidate

"The city council needs to collaborate with Interior Health to come up with better treatment facilities and more beds to help addicts recover. We have three steps to helping them recover: 1) Detox; 2) Treatment; and 3) Second-stage housing. The city needs to come up with an economical plan that includes lobbying the provincial and federal governments to look at and fund the recovery of addicts. We have to get to the root of the issues."

Ray Dhaliwal — Council candidate (incumbent)

(No response received by KTW press time.)

Dieter Dudy — council candidate (incumbent)

"This is a very complex, frustrating, tragic and emotional issue. As our city grows, so too will our homeless community. The link between addictions and homelessness is very real and it becomes a chicken-and-egg questions. Do we deal with addictions first or do we work on housing our less fortunate citizens first and then provide the wraparound services that can help to deal with the addiction issue? In my opinion, I feel we go with the latter."

Dennis Giesbrecht — Council candidate

"With the announced and upcoming announcements on homeless housing initiatives, Kamloops council must push hard to ensure the wrap-around services are supplied by Interior Health. Most of the street folks need counseling and treatment, a bed is a great start but help moving to a healthy lifestyle will provide the long-term solution."

Alison Klie — Council candidate

"We need to look at our current programs and find out how effective they are. More taxpayer money is being requested to be spent on these programs even though homelessness, crime and addiction numbers are trending upwards. We need to find out if what we are doing is helping and rehabilitating people or if it is enabling these behaviours and actually attracting more of these issues to Kamloops. I feel right now we are only treating the symptoms."

Shawn Harnett — Council candidate

"I think council needs to realize that these issues should be top of their list and receive top priority until a viable plan of action, that will actually produce results, is in place."

Sadie Hunter — Council candidate

"It’s not so much a next step as a continuation of focus on working together with agencies to address these issues in the most constructive way possible while ensuring public safety. One of the most important roles of council is to be a facilitator and advocate for the agencies who are on the ground working at various levels to help individuals experiencing homelessness and addiction."

Stephen Karpuk — Council candidate

"I think it is time for the community to step up because the only proven way to fix this problem is when the whole community gets involved. One idea I have is to open the old Rayleigh correctional site for patients. Have them learn job skills and farm the fields while getting the help they need. It would give them a “hand-up opportunity” plus some self-worth and the food could be used to feed them and the food bank."

Caroline King — Council candidate

"The city has recently announced the Mission Flats housing project, which will take some strain off the current system and, I think, is a good step. I believe we will need a few more options moving forward but I think we’re on the right track. The one issue that concerns me is the lack of a 24-hour shelter for those that don’t fit the current housing requirements. I am also deeply concerned about the dangers posed by discarded needles that litter many areas."

Jimmy Johal — Council candidate

"Addiction and mental health can be serious illnesses. Housing the homeless is not some magical pill that will fix everything, but it is a step forward. The city needs to ensure supports for these individuals are readily available and properly funded by the province, especially timely access to treatment centres. The city should ensure there is access to housing and have plans in place to deal with any negative consequences, as well."

Mike O'Reilly — Council candidate

"While the city has done a good job acquiring pieces of property for homelessness I believe it is time to start investing in low-income housing. Rent has been rising in Kamloops making everyday living for low-income earners and people on a fixed budget, including seniors and single parents, more difficult. I believe the city should approach Interior Health alongside Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton and lobby for increased mental-health services."

Bill Sarai — Council candidate

"City council needs to push Interior Health to bring back the needle exchange program and also relocate the safe-injection sites away from day cares and senior centres. City council, with the assistance of IHA, needs to push all three levels of government for more treatment beds. If we just stay status quo it will be a revolving door and a Band-Aid solution."

Arjun Singh — Council candidate (incumbent)

"Considering the city has already helped facilitate and support new shelters and housing and lobbied the provincial government for more supports to help people with mental health and addiction issues, the next step should be a concerted effort to work with community partners to identify the gaps in our supports and housing and to work hard together to fill those gaps. I would advocate for the city to consider funding more supports."

Kathy Sinclair — Council candidate (incumbent)

"The opposite of addiction is connection, and it’s pretty tough to connect with anyone and move forward when you don’t have a roof over your head. Council needs to continue the momentum of the numerous supported housing projects we’ve unanimously approved over the past year. Some say that costs of these projects are too great, but the costs of doing nothing are far greater."

Denis Walsh — Council candidate (incumbent)

"I think city hall has taken the various issues linked to addiction and homelessness very seriously during the past term. By working with the province, city hall has helped to facilitate the movement of nearly 200 people into appropriate shelters. A strong relationship with the province is essential, as they have resources and skill sets required to help the City of Kamloops deal with these issues. Much more effort is needed. We can do better."

Gerald Watson — Council candidate

"Foster economic development and work opportunities. To break the cycle of addiction and homelessness, people need the opportunity to work. Direct support from the city could include property tax rebates for service agencies and subsidized transit passes."

Donovan Cavers — School trustee candidate

"Yes. Portables are not an ideal learning environment and anything we can do to ensure an ideal learning environment should be considered and acted upon."

Bowen Cooluris — School trustee candidate

"There is a lot that needs to be taken into consideration and simply re-opening the schools may not be a long term solution. My initial reaction would be re-open the schools, but this difficult decision to close the schools was made by a previous board. What we really need is to take a realistic look at the changing demographics of the district and make sure that we’re funnelling resources into the areas that need it most."

Heather Grieve — School trustee candidate

"Addressing the need for additional classroom space requires careful analysis of projections of future enrolment. The role of portables should be a temporary solution to deal with increased school enrolment. As a member of the board of education, I would support reopening schools and/or a building program in the area where the enrolment increase occurs and is projected to be long-term."

Adam Jensen — School trustee candidate

"I believe portables to be a complex issue that deserves a close look at catchment areas and enrolment numbers. However, I do feel that too many portables at a school can be a bad thing, but at the same time portables can be fiscally responsible with moderate enrolment growth in a school and a fair decision to use. I would be interested in working towards capital projects to improve our existing schools as well as possible new schools."

Kathleen Karpuk — School trustee candidate

"Portables have been added where needed, but that is not always where closed schools are. Brock and the North Shore have two closed schools but only two portables. There are two or three portables at some schools in Aberdeen, but no closed schools. Valleyview secondary has nine portables, but no high schools were closed, so there are no appropriate spaces to re-open. Re-opening Westsyde elementary is something to consider."

Beat Klossner — School trustee candidate

"Portables are a temporary solution. A report from the June 25 board meeting mentions 32 portables will be needed at a cost of over $5 million. SD73 seems to make a temporary situation into a permanent one. That is not good enough. What we need is the re-opening of schools like Westsyde elementary and Ralph Bell. These schools and grounds are being maintained and it would be cost efficient and relatively simple to re-open them."

John O'Fee — School trustee candidate

"A core problem facing our school district is that student populations are concentrated far from older and closed school facilities. If you gave a parent in Valleyview the choice between a portable at their neighbourhood school or their child being transported across town to a re-opened facility, they would likely opt to stay close to home. Proper capital planning means looking decades into the future to ensure families have reasonable options."

Kerri Schill — School trustee candidate

"Portables are expensive and designed to be shortterm solutions, yet are being used as long-term solutions, with some already due for replacement. Each year, I see more portables added to Valleyview secondary, which now has nine. I have watched the basketball courts, once full of kids playing, become a row of portables. Our district needs to continue advocating vigorously for more capital funding from the government."

Joe Small — School trustee candidate

"I would support opening schools that have been closed if those schools were in areas experiencing enrolment growth. Unfortunately they are not. We have three schools we could re-open — Westsyde, Ralph Bell, and Happyvale. If we did re-open these schools, where will the students come from? Until the provincial government admits that School District 73 needs capital funding to build new schools, portables continue to be the best alternative."

Meghan Wade — School trustee candidate

"This is not a simple question with a simple answer. Not all closed schools are in areas where there are enrolment pressures. For example, McGowan elementary has portables now because over 100 Pineview Valley students are bused there. In addition there are no closed high schools to re-open so Valleyview Secondary has nine portables. This issue demands a broad community conversation, which I am in full support of having."

© Kamloops This Week

 


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