Dear Mayor Christian and members of the Economic Recovery & Renewal Task Force,
Thank you for starting this important work! In addition to challenges and hardship, COVID-19 has given us an opportunity. We have a choice as to how we respond: will we go back to the status quo, or will we make the changes that are urgently needed in order to truly renew and repair relationships within our interconnected world?
Transition Kamloops would like to encourage the Task Force to focus on the projects that will make the biggest difference in our citizen’s quality of life: those that are not only shovel-ready, but also shovel-worthy. We can use the COVID-19 response to build our community’s resilience through:
● Developing a more sustainable local economy,
● Increasing connections between citizens, and
● Ensuring a healthy natural environment and mitigating the effects of climate change.
Adopt a recovery and rebuilding process that is transparent, inclusive and community-led. A successful recovery that builds our community’s future resilience depends upon broad and deep participation. Working toward a common language can enable fruitful discussion based on shared values rather than partisanship.
Consider systemic solutions that tick multiple boxes and move us to a resilient Kamloops. In order to get maximum benefit from our COVID-19 response, we must consider how the various project options are a part of interrelated systems.
Let’s create and sustain a vision of the world we want and move toward it. This takes courage and imagination. Operating under constraints can actually increase our creativity.
Economy: (Additional systems impacted shown in brackets behind recommendations)
● Prioritize local economic health. Implement a Local First campaign to encourage the use of local products and services. Locally-owned & operated businesses have greater multiplier impacts than franchises & chains. (Additional systems impacted: social connection, environment).
● Increase local procurement. At the City level, lead by example. Also, work with larger stores to increase the proportion of locally purchased products, especially food. (Social connection, environment, food security).
● Support year-round access to local produce, e.g. a year-round farmers’ markets, pop-up farmer’s markets, etc. (Social connection, food security, environment).
● Encourage growth in the local manufacturing sector (Potentially: food security, environment).
● Build awareness that co-ops or alternate economic structures may deliver additional benefits for the work of recovery and renewal. ( Social connection)
● Promote stay-cations among Kamloops residents (Environment, recreation)
● Consider impact financing and/or community bonds to fund projects. Work with the Municipal Finance Authority of British Columbia (MFABC) to facilitate the issuance of local green bonds. (Social connection, various areas depending on project)
● Investigate alternate forms of exchange e.g. time banking or complementary currencies. Some cities have programs where points gained for ‘work’ done are exchanged for goods or services.
Social connection & community resilience
● Invite citizen engagement by holding the conversations in public. Residents should be able to actively participate in planning their future using innovative technologies now widely available.
● Have transparent and consistent public reporting on the progress of the Task Force that allows adequate time for communities and organizations to respond.
● Ensure that plans reflect the diverse needs and interests of Kamloops residents, and that there is widespread support for their implementation.
● Support, sustain & expand community solidarity networks such as neighbourhood associations and mutual aid groups. Online “round tables” with groups representing different agencies in specific sectors have leapt to fill the gaps during the crisis, supplementing what the public sector was able to do. These groups have strengthened people’s sense of belonging and
community spirit, opening the way for greater participation across the board. (Health, economy)
○ Changing the Face of Poverty / KFPC: Food gaps
○ Caremongering Kamloops (N2N could be supported to evolve into a Resilient Neighbourhoods project)
○ The Kamloops Kindness Project
○ United Way round-table calls: supporting agencies & non-profits
● Invest in additional staff capacity to support community resilience and sustainability, given scientific predictions for increasingly frequent pandemics and extreme weather events. (Economy, health)
● Ensure that everyone can participate in the reopening. For example, public washrooms need to be available downtown and along the West Victoria/North Shore corridor.
● Harness the arts to reframe our narrative to one of hope and possibility. Sharing our stories allows us to connect and celebrate with, as well as learn from, each other. Sharing positive stories motivates us and gives us hope.
○ A ‘Kamloops Stories Project’ that would enable both the hearing of each others’ stories and the construction of a helpful narrative going forward, i.e. one that is based on abundance and new possibilities rather than on what can’t be done or what we should be afraid of.
○ A celebratory event (with distancing) with local artists/musicians/acts that also highlights local businesses and organizations that have responded innovatively to the pandemic.
● Accelerate the construction of safe alternative & active transportation infrastructure in Kamloops, vigorously pursuing grants. E-bikes are fast becoming a new alternative to a second family car in many Canadian households, and this is a positive trend that should be supported, including through safe storage. Federal grant programs have been adapted to prioritize projects like new or better cycle paths. (Health, economy, social connection, recreation, environment)
● Support businesses to increase the proportion of employees who work from home , ensuring that social and economic costs are not downloaded to employees. (Environment, economy)
● Work with other levels of government to make transit free for users. A time of crisis is ideal for bold moves to stimulate needed long-term behaviour changes. (Environment, social connection)
● Prioritize building retrofits : Support and lobby for the PACE Program . Accelerate adoption of higher levels of the Step Code. ( Economy, health, environment)
● Partner with TRU or other organizations (e.g. CHBA) to establish a local training program for energy auditors and other skilled workers who will be needed as we scale up efforts to increase building efficiency (Economy, social connection)
● Fast-track planned enhancements/expansions of parks and trails. COVID has demonstrated the importance of outdoor green spaces for mental & physical health―public parks and nature trails have never been more critical. (Recreation, environment, health, social connections)
● Create pollinator meadows using native plants. Include native plants along the highways that go through Kamloops. ( Recreation, environment, food security)
● Accelerate tree-planting program ( Economy, recreation, environment, potentially food security)
Thank you for considering these recommendations as you move forward with your work in the Task