What do Kamloops municipal candidates have to say about transportation?

We asked municipal candidates about active transportation, ride-sharing and accessibility.
A Government of Canada sign that reads: "North-South Kamloops Bicycle Corridor. Summit Drive. $4 million."
Signage at the intersection of Summit and Notre Dame marks construction being made on the North-South Kamloops Bicycle Corridor, a $4 million active transportation project that will result in a continuous bike route from Aberdeen to Batchelor Heights. Kyra Grubb / The Wren News

Election day is fast approaching and takes place this Saturday, Oct. 15 at polling stations across the city. Our team at The Wren has been following the municipal election campaign period closely and tracking the work other local news outlets have done to inform voters of candidates’ platforms and backgrounds.

As our mandate is to fill gaps in local reporting, we asked candidates about an issue that hasn’t been addressed much this election — local transportation.

In a survey sent to candidates for mayor and council, The Wren asked questions about active transportation, ride-sharing companies and the accessibility of our current infrastructure. Thirteen of the city’s 28 candidates responded.

Submissions from council and mayoral candidates may have been edited for length and clarity.

Do you believe current transportation options meet residents’ needs? Why or why not?

Dieter Dudy (running for mayor)

Not entirely but I think more and more options are making themselves available. I believe that anything that reduces our reliance on single-passenger automobile travel is a step in the right direction. Transit could be improved. Park and rides should be established, active transportation infrastructure needs to be built on and ride-sharing options need to be identified and promoted.

Arjun H Singh (running for mayor)

No. We should have more active transportation alternatives and increase the reliability of transit. I am not saying our transportation system is bad, just that it could be better.

Jamie Allen (running for council)

No, we fall short. Bike lanes are improving but we have bike paths that go nowhere. There are still too many gaps. Transit is improving but our city’s layout makes it hard. We need to keep working to improve. With our growing population, vehicle congestion is starting to cause delays. 

Dale Bass (running for council)

No. Transit service is inadequate in all areas outside the core areas. 

Nancy Bepple (running for council)

No, for three reasons. First, it does not provide safe, separated bike lanes for cyclists, hindering a much larger uptake of cycling. Second, as Kamloops grows outward, the current capacity will be maxed out. The solution is to have dense neighbourhood hubs that allow people to drive less. Third, 25 per cent of residents do not drive. Having a car-centric transportation system excludes a huge portion of our city’s residents.

George Dersch (running for council)

No, they do not. An increase in service is needed and priority bus routes are needed (express busses) to the outlined areas. 

Mac Gordon (running for council)

I have moderate complaints from my personal usage but recognize some pretty big gaps in other demographics’ needs. The use of mini buses for more neighbourhoods to main arterial line usage and larger bike racks which accommodate more bikes per bus would be nice. I’d certainly support a citizen’s task force on the topic. 

Kelly Hall (running for council)

We have an updated urban transportation plan but we need to still work on implementation. The city has worked on surveying a program called vision zero and it has some benefits. We need to build our streets, sidewalks, bicycle networks and safe transportation networks with a planned purpose by neighbourhood. We could engage with all neighbourhood associations to help with the implementation of plans. Having an improved transportation safety plan will help us achieve the Community Climate Change Action Plans emission reductions. 

Daphane Nelson (running for council)

No. Kamloops is the epitome of urban sprawl at 315 residents per square kilometre as compared with Kelowna’s 643 and because people are so spread out, we haven’t had the capability to enhance the network to the levels needed.

Jordan Proctor (running for council)

No. The active transportation network is inconsistent and fractured and current public opinion suggests transit is inconsistent and inefficient.

Jesse Ritcey (running for council)

No. Ideal transportation would let someone walk, ride, bus or drive safely and conveniently based on personal preference. Currently, we only have a system where someone can do that in an automobile. 

Bill Sarai (running for council)

No! Our alternative transportation infrastructure is at least 3-5 years away from being attractive enough to get residents to change their habits. Our transit system needs huge improvements in schedules and reliability. Taxi service is stretched thin as basically, there is only one company trying to service the whole city on its own. Ride-hailing could be a good partner if it is treated the same as cabs.

Randy Sunderman (running for council)

We currently have adequate road and street infrastructure. The issue in Kamloops centres around active transportation and public transportation options. Concerning public transportation, it needs to better match the schedule of key users (employers, students, seniors, etc.) and become more reliable. For active transportation, we need to complete connectivity from neighbourhoods through to key destinations. Any unsafe links in the system dramatically reduce use.

Do you believe infrastructure for active transportation (e.g. bike lanes) keeps users safe enough? Why or why not?

Dieter Dudy

I think the ones we have are safe enough; we just don’t have enough of them.

Arjun H Singh

A separated multi-use path, slash bike path, slash sidewalk should be the base level for safety. 

Jamie Allen

Gains have been made but more work is needed. I believe that being safe is everyone’s responsibility — vehicle drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Every day it seems all three fail.

Dale Bass

It remains a work in progress. Past councils approved bike lanes that really aren’t adequate. We don’t have enough multi-use paths and many of our sidewalks are in disrepair. 

Nancy Bepple

No. First, the infrastructure we have is disconnected. Second, much of it is not separated and protected. Third, even the destinations with the most trips, such as TRU, have no safe paths for cycling, and overcapacity sidewalks. Until children and seniors are safe, cycling infrastructure is not adequate.

George Dersch

We need more bike access and marked routes throughout the city and areas.

Mac Gordon

Bike lanes, love them. Our bike lanes, not so much. Love the Rivers Trail but wish it was wider allowing for a dedicated bike lane. Potholes are much more dangerous for bikes so they need attention ASAP, particularly on the north shore. I tend to bike on the street and I’d like to see dedicated bike lanes on four-lane roads. I often wondered why we couldn’t steal a little space from one lane, making one regular-sized lane for trucks and SUVs and one narrower lane for small cars, which would allow for a dedicated bike lane.  

Kelly Hall

Hall did not provide a response to this question.

Daphane Nelson

It depends on where you bike and what your tolerance level for safety is. If you’re on one of the designated and separated trails then yes, I believe folks are generally safe. However, when attempting to cycle next to traffic doing upwards of 60 km/h with only a painted line between you and a motor vehicle, then no, I don’t believe cyclists are safe.

Jordan Proctor

No. The pieces of safe bike routes are incredible, but the problem is they all end abruptly with very little direction for where to go next. This ends with cyclists being stranded on major roadways and sidewalks. 

The other issue is, once you have arrived at your destination, now what? It is not safe to leave a bike of any value unattended. Whether it is bike lockers or secure bike parking with an attendant, we need somewhere we can confidently secure our bikes.

Jesse Ritcey

No. Given the deaths of cyclists that have occurred, nobody should claim we have safe cycling infrastructure in our community. We need dedicated, separated bike lanes that connect into a coherent network, as well as proper safety signage for where vehicles cross bike lanes. 

Bill Sarai

Not really. I support any and all multi-use pathways. I do not support bike lanes sharing roads with our old, narrow roadways. That will not attract car users to park their vehicles and take up biking.

Randy Sunderman

As a consultant, I have worked on the socio-economic study associated with the Okanagan rail-trail network. We know that if bike lanes are physically separated from roadways, safety will go up significantly. Further, bike lane usage among women and children also increases significantly once properly separated lanes are in place.

What are your thoughts on the level of accessibility of public transportation options in Kamloops (Tk̓emlúps)?

Dieter Dudy

I think the level of accessibility is good, and policies are reviewed regularly as the need presents itself.

Arjun H Singh

It is good for many but needs to be more reliable and accessible to all.

Jamie Allen

Gains were made in the last four years, but now we need to build on those gains.

Dale Bass

The level of accessibility is dismal, which is why council has been pushing the province to reallocate the taxi saver program so agencies with accessible vans can be used for transportation. 

Nancy Bepple

First, core, connected routes should be provided that link end-to-end destinations. I would support linking routes 1 and 9, routes 2 and 7 or other end-to-end routes to make it easier to go across the city without transferring buses. This is the norm in other cities. Second, there are opportunities for express buses. TRU 10 from the north shore to TRU is a success that can be replicated. Third, city council should continue to work with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc to find out their goals for transit and support solutions.  

George Dersch

There is for sure a need for a bus route from this area to Mt. Paul and Sun Rivers. 

Mac Gordon

I think it would be incumbent on the city’s behalf to foster stronger ties on all matters with our partners and I think Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc is our most important partner. I’m a big proponent of the Sun Rivers community for their forward thinking and want to see at least equal coverage for this area as to others.

Kelly Hall

We need to be more inclusive and accessible. The existing runs need to be examined and reviewed. We need to get with the times and have an auto-pay system or transit card that you can load. As rides start to get back to pre-pandemic levels, let’s review routes and times of service. 

Daphane Nelson

Public transportation is difficult to access year-round. In the winter buses are regularly late or don’t show up, the stops are not sheltered and it’s just not a great experience. It’s my understanding that seniors are scared to take transit because of perceived (or actual) crimes and don’t want to risk their safety. There are a lot of issues that need to be sorted out and it needs to be a holistic approach, not just here and there.

Jordan Proctor

I do not have a wealth of experience with using transit in Kamloops, but public opinion suggests it could use some streamlining. 

Subsidizing senior fares should be taken into consideration as well.

Jesse Ritcey

As a transit user, my experience is that certain corridors are easy to reach like Brock to downtown or up to TRU but routes out to Dallas are abysmal. As we densify the community we will see more demand for transit, which should support more frequent routes. In an ideal system, one could quickly and efficiently get to any neighbourhood in the city. 

Bill Sarai

We have a long way to go. Transit is also a business, so the ridership must be present to justify transit routes and scheduling in this area and throughout our city. It’s the chicken and the egg scenario again.

Randy Sunderman

The network is progressing, and significant money has been spent in recent years. However, we have much more that remains to be done. 

Do you support allowing additional ride-share companies like Uber to operate in Kamloops (Tk̓emlúps)?

Dieter Dudy

Until ride-share companies are required to play by the same rules as taxi companies, I would not encourage their use.

Arjun H Singh

Yes.

Jamie Allen

Yes.

Dale Bass

If the market supports it, it makes sense to me. 

Nancy Bepple

I don’t know enough about this issue. Additional ride-share companies may already be allowed to operate but have chosen not to. I do not know.

George Dersch

Yes. This is an option that will make the other companies more accountable to the riders.

Mac Gordon

It seems like we’re fighting the tide on this issue — why do we want to be the last holdouts? It’s time to step aside and let progress in.

Kelly Hall

Yes, we need to have these services available. Competition is good.

Daphane Nelson

I would rather see a cooperative platform like Eva in Montreal, or a car share cooperative like Modo, than have yet another huge company take advantage of gig workers in Kamloops.

Jordan Proctor

It definitely warrants consideration. In theory, it seems like a no-brainer but it does come with some hidden consequences. 

I have concerns about the erosion of worker benefits that come with the gig economy. To see people willfully toss them aside in the interest of making a bit more money is of some concern. 

I am not opposed to ride-share programs. I just think we need to be thorough in ironing out all the details before jumping in with both feet. 

Jesse Ritcey

Yes, innovation is important. However, any company operating in Kamloops needs to adhere to the same safety and insurance standards as cab companies. 

Bill Sarai

Yes, if they operate under the same rules as taxi companies do, like the number of hours drivers are allowed to be on the road.

Randy Sunderman

Yes, I support the addition of ride-sharing in the city.

Do you use any of the following transportation options regularly: bicycle, e-bike, e-scooter, public bus and/or other forms of public transit? If so, how often?

Dieter Dudy

I live in a rural area, so none apply.

Arjun H Singh

Yes. I e-bike and sometimes ride transit. I would say 10 per cent of my travel now is by e-bike and I’d like to increase that to at least 30 per cent.

Jamie Allen

Not very often. I do on-call work so my work truck is in my driveway.

Dale Bass

Active transportation as described really only works if it’s efficient. Where I live, it is not. I come into work using the highway for half the trip. 

Nancy Bepple

I bicycle regularly from May to October to get around the core of the city. I take public buses less frequently, but on occasion. I also walk to destinations within two or three kilometres, but usually bike.

George Dersch

I do use my bike and e-bike but safety on the street is lacking. There’s a need for more education and awareness of riders’ rights and the rules of the road.

Mac Gordon

I bike and use the bus system, a habit I got used to while going to school at UBC. With regards to bikes, I’m biased here as I just don’t think we use them enough. As a former teacher, I was always disappointed that I used my bike more than my students. We need to encourage parents, schools and city officials to develop a more bike-friendly culture. With regards to buses, I recently started riding them in town as the cost of diesel rises. I’ve found that peak hours are quite good but during off-peak hours the schedule seems to be hit or miss in terms of scheduled arrivals. We need to do better and at least be consistent in our schedule. 

Kelly Hall

Yes, I regularly bicycle recreationally. Our bike networks need some work. 

Daphane Nelson

When I lived downtown, I walked to TRU and to work and walked with my son to school. Now, I live in an outlying neighbourhood but I work from home and really only leave the house to get groceries. To be honest, where I live the bus schedule doesn’t work for me to get around effectively.

Jordan Proctor

When possible I cycle to commute. Being a foreman for a roofing company, I’m often needed to bring the truck in to move materials.

Jesse Ritcey

I primarily use transit, at least three times a week. I also walk or rollerblade to get groceries. 

Bill Sarai

Yes, I use an e-bike some weeknights and every weekend in the spring, summer and fall seasons.

Randy Sunderman

No, as a consultant I have worked from home for the past 20 years so I don’t need to travel for work. I ride my bike for recreation.

Optional: Is there anything else you’d like to share related to your platform and transit?

Dieter Dudy

Dudy did not provide a response to this question.

Arjun H Singh

I would advocate for the acceleration of building a safe and efficient cycle path network.

I would also propose a longer duration city-hosted commuter challenge to support citizens who are exploring shifting to more active, healthy transportation. 

Jamie Allen

Climate change will cause us all to rethink how we get from here to there. Investments over time will allow for an easier transition to the smarter choice. 

Dale Bass

Bass did not provide a response to this question.

Nancy Bepple

Opportunities for active transportation meet goals within the Climate Action Plan which the City of Kamloops has adopted.  The plan requires action and new infrastructure. One big deterrent for many is bike security, so having secure bike lockups downtown is very important. Finally, one in five people in Canada lives with a disability — solutions to transportation need to be designed for a range of users and abilities.

George Dersch

We need to have open council meetings on Saturday and Sunday in the afternoon to allow citizens to address their issues with the council. There’s also the need for police call boxes in emergencies.

Mac Gordon

I think we should be pushing for Low-Speed Electric Vehicles (LSV’s) to be allowed on some of our streets. Chase and Summerland are nearby examples of communities which have allowed them. With our large population of seniors, this would be a convenient mode of transportation on select roads, particularly on the north shore and other flat areas, for those who are considering retiring or phasing out their car usage.

Kelly Hall

Sustainable transportation helps create an environmental, social, cultural and economic system that is workable. 

Daphane Nelson

Unfortunately, this is one area where we need to move away from the regular business model of, ‘how many people did we have on the bus today?’ and, ‘was it profitable?’ We need to put the infrastructure in place, make sure it’s more reliable, give the transfer stations a makeover, enhance safety and educate people on the benefits of using transit.

I would say the same about active transportation and add a component of obligation to the drivers. We need to reduce speed limits along corridors where the only separation between vehicles and cyclists is a painted line and try to remember that cyclists have as much right to be on the road as drivers do.

Jordan Proctor

I am a strong advocate for active transportation as it ties in with increased urban density. It is with this increased density we will be able to start producing enough taxes per square kilometre that we can functionally afford to properly maintain our infrastructure and build new amenities listed in the recreation master plan.

Jesse Ritcey

One of the issues I and fellow transit users have been frustrated about is frequent cancellations due to insufficient drivers. Part of the problem there is we have an Ohio-based, for-profit company managing our transit system. Profits are being extracted from the community and sent to American shareholders. Instead, I believe we should ask BC Transit to directly manage our system as is done in the Victoria area. That way those profits could instead be used to better pay drivers, which would help with recruitment and help solve the cancellation crisis. 

Bill Sarai

Transit must practice what they preach. Transit employees can not take a bus to work. The closest stop is four to five city blocks away on the other side of heavily used train tracks. Yet we are encouraged to park our cars and take transit. It’s unreliable and doesn’t go to every corner of our city on a set schedule that students and workers need.

Many employees work at our airport, but the closest transit stop to the airport is at Crestline and Tranqille road.

Randy Sunderman

Closely linked to transportation is how we build our city. My platform gives details around shelters, shared engagement, spending, sustainability and success for business which are all connected to densification and concentrating built infrastructure. This is all connected to how we think about transportation. 

General voting day in Kamloops takes place on Oct. 15, 2022, from 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. For more information, visit The Wren’s voting guide or the City of Kamloops website at kamloops.ca.

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