There are two candidates running for the mayor's chair at Kamloops City Hall for this year's civic election. Incumbent Ken Christian is seeking re-election after winning a by-election last September. His challenger is William Turnbull. In the first installment of our mayor's series, we take a closer look at homelessness and affordability in the city.
Like any B.C. community, Kamloops is not immune to affordability issues and homelessness around the city.
The last homeless count this year revealed at least 190 people without a home.
"It's a problem that properly rests with the province of British Columbia. That said, cities like Kamloops are doing what we can to assist the government in providing shelter," said mayoral candidate Ken Christian running for re-election.
The city, in many cases, is responsible for providing the land for any BC Housing project. In the last year while Christian has been mayor, the city has been involved in at least six affordable housing announcements as it tries to close the affordability gap.
"It's a complex problem, but it's one that I think the city has a role to assist in. Certainly things like getting the land-use issues sorted out, helping with transportation. Those kinds of things are proper roles for a city to do. I believe Kamloops has done a pretty good job of that," noted Christian.
"The problem we have is that homeless population keeps growing, and so we've found from our homelessness count our numbers are up over 200 individuals now. That's a number that keeps climbing, unfortunately, and so we keep having to invest new ways of finding shelter with the partners we have like ASK Wellness, CMHA."
As a mayoral candidate, it's Christian's hope to continue providing the necessary affordable housing with an estimated 2,000 units needed to satisfy demand.
"We are chipping away at the 2,000 units," he said. "I think the last count, my numbers were somewhere in and around 500 of them will have been realized once we get all these builds open. That represents an investment in Kamloops of around $50 million."
However, Christian is also focused on affordability for young people and families in Kamloops who want to purchase a home.
"I have a young family at that juncture of looking for opportunities for homeownership, and I see the challenges they have related to mortgage qualification and the higher costs, so we need to make sure that as a city we can try to reduce those costs to a reasonable level."
We reached out to Christian's challenger, William Turnbull, but he has declined to participate in this series.
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