Castanet Kamloops is going to help you get to know the candidates running for city councillor over the next few weeks. Every weekday morning starting on Sept. 12, we will be posting a Q&A for each hopeful running for Kamloops council in the Oct. 15 local general election. All council candidates will be asked the same questions, and their answers, submitted to Castanet by email, are published in full.
Castanet Kamloops: Why do you think you would be a good councillor for the City of Kamloops? What unique perspective, skills or vision do you bring to the table?
Mike O'Reilly: For the past 20 years, I have helped create employment and investment in Kamloops as a business owner, land developer and economic developer for Venture Kamloops. I believe that increasing our tax base will allow Kamloops to increase and improve our recreation facilities, safety and housing affordability without large tax increases. My experience in business and leading multiple non-profit organizations throughout the city and province has given me the tools needed to help lead Kamloops. I have been able to bridge the gap between the left and right, the North and South, and the East and West.
What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the community today?
O'Reilly: A lack of recreation facilities (ice rink, indoor soccer facility, a pool on the North Shore and a performing arts centre), housing affordability, community and neighbourhood safety and the economy.
How can the city best tackle social issues — mental health, addictions, homelessness, crime — given the need to work with other levels of government responsible for those areas?
O'Reilly: While the City of Kamloops does not own or operate any homeless shelters or social housing projects, we must work with other levels of government to get homeless people off our streets. Working with the province and accepting everything that the province wants to do, wherever or however they want to do it, are two different things. We need to work with the province to create a buffer zone between residential neighbourhoods and shelters, increase mental health supports, create a complex care centre in Kamloops and have involuntary treatment for multiple overdose patients.
We can not normalize people camping inside the bandshell at Riverside Park, setting up tents in the middle of soccer fields on McArthur Island or needles and fecal matter at the doorsteps of our businesses. Our public spaces, city parks and facilities need to be kept safe spaces for our residents to enjoy. To ensure this happens, we need to increase our CSO program and bring back community policing to our parks and neighbourhoods.
Kamloops and area has felt the impacts in recent years of a changing climate. What do you think the city should do to foster climate resilience and reduce emissions?
O'Reilly: Kamloops is a municipal leader in reducing emissions while working on climate resiliency. Tackling climate change is something that the city cannot and should not do alone. I supported the Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP) in 2020 that has set out targets to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We need to work with senior levels of government to get funding to implement the CCAP, but I will not support funding the plan using solely municipal tax dollars.
How can the City of Kamloops strengthen its partnership with Tk’emlups te Secwepemc and continue working toward reconciliation with First Nations?
O'Reilly: I am very proud of the relationship that council has been able to grow with Tk’emlups te Secwepemc (T'tes) over the last four years, but like any good relationship, we cannot stop working at it. I think continuing our community-to-community forums will be key to growing our working relationship. Above all else, we must take the lead from T'tes on reconciliation. We must also continue to consult with them and do the work by looking at our own biases to ensure we continue to foster an environment of trust and understanding that will enable the continued growth of our communities, and ability for our governments to work together on projects that matter.
Visit Castanet's Kamloops Votes page to find profiles for City of Kamloops mayoral and councillor candidates along with links to candidates' websites and social media accounts if available.