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Get to know Burnaby council candidates: Konstantine Roccas

“We need smart densification and urban plans that promote beauty and sustainability while also housing clusters of people who can create a community that promotes interaction and culture.”
Konstantine Roccas
Konstantine Roccas, independent, is running for Burnaby city council this October.

Burnaby will head to the polls on Oct. 15 and vote for eight city councillors and seven school trustees. Mayor Mike Hurley has been acclaimed for a second term after receiving no challengers. 

The Burnaby NOW asked every candidate running for office in the upcoming civic election to respond to a questionnaire on issues facing Burnaby today.

Candidates were given strict word limits and a deadline to submit their answers. Answers exceeding the word limits are marked. For details on how and where to vote, see our voter’s guide.

Questionnaires have been edited for clarity.

Name: Konstantine Roccas

Current occupation: Assistant manager at PFG

Short biography (50 words maximum): I’ve lived in Burnaby for over fifteen years and am looking to make a difference in this city. I’m half Greek and was born in Athens before making my way here. Along the way I picked up a bachelor’s and a master’s from SFU and UBC respectively.

Why are you running for city council? (150 words maximum): Because we can do better. Every day I look outside and think to myself is this the best this city can do? A revolving door of career politicians cozy with industry leaders has led to a city stagnating as part of a larger malaise.

Government has to work for the people it serves. Politicians cannot assume they know better as a result of their station. It breeds arrogance for the politicians and contempt from the people which divides us even more.

I’m running because I want to bring back honesty and integrity. I want to talk with the people and let them know what I am doing even if we disagree. I want them to be as big a part of municipal government as I am.

There won’t be a disconnect between myself and the people. Rather, it will be a partnership.

What are the top three issues facing Burnaby today, and what are your plans to address them? (250 words maximum): Crime, housing and climate. All three will be addressed below so read-on erstwhile stranger.

What is your housing situation? Are you a homeowner, renter or something else (describe)? Do you rent property to others? (50 words maximum): Me? A homeowner? In this day and age? Good one. I rent. I might own if those GME calls moon one day but it’s not looking good. Until then I’m paying ludicrous rental prices like most of you.

Burnaby currently has a population of about 250,000 people and is projected to grow to about 360,000 by 2050. How – and where – do you want the city to accommodate that growth? (200 words maximum): We need smart densification and urban plans that promote beauty and sustainability while also housing clusters of people who can create a community that promotes interaction and culture.

Giant cement blocks are well and good, but we need to build homes and apartments for people who want to live here and build them around areas that encourages social and economic interaction. And no, building apartments around malls doesn’t count.

We also need to ensure that the people who are living here aren’t just parking their income in homes and condos and are properly vetted. We need people to live here who will foster community and you can rest assured I will support amendments that encourage this.

I cannot recreate Renaissance Europe in Burnaby, but I will do my best to lower the cost of living and make this a beautiful destination in which to live and work.

Some organizations are calling on municipal governments to support the creation of non-profit housing by allowing projects to be built without rezoning requirements. (As an example, Women Transforming Cities wants social housing initiatives of up to 12 storeys to be permitted in multi-family areas and up to six storeys in other residential areas, without a rezoning requirement). Is this something you would support – why or why not? (250 words maximum): In theory a great idea. My support would be contingent on a rigorous application process to ensure that the people who will live in these places will help foster community.

I am not in support of firing up social housing without a larger plan because as I explained above, I’m looking to create densification and small communities that encourage personal growth among the people who live there.

I want a sense of belonging. In that sense, I would very carefully examine the plans to ensure these requirements are met.  

In 2021, 73 people died in Burnaby due to the heat dome. What are your plans for the city to address increasing heat? (150 words maximum): Burnaby has to be proactive on this. When a heat wave is about to occur, we need to have public transportation ready to pick up elderly folks in the morning and bring them to large centers with adequate cooling.

We need a public list where people can sign up for assistance to be picked up. If they do not wish to sit in a cooling centre until the evening, the city should mobilize those under its payroll to do home checks on those who are struggling in the heat and provide them with supplies, water or anything else they need to be comfortable.

Heat waves are no joke. An all-hands-on deck approach is necessary to help those vulnerable and we need to be ready to mobilize help from departments across the entire city.

Is crime a concern for you, and how do you hope to address it? (150 words maximum): If you work any kind of retail job you can see crime running rampant before your eyes.

A combination of substance abuse, mental illness and a justice system that is utterly paralyzed has led to a degradation of society. It’s not getting better either. The cracks are widening. There need to be consequences and there needs to be services available to get the people the help they need instead of launching them back on to the streets to the same environment that perpetuates the problem.

On a higher level, money laundering and white-collar crime is rampant in this city as it spreads outward from Vancouver. We really have to look carefully where the money is going, where it’s being funneled in to and passing bylaws that make it more than a minor inconvenience for money launderers to infiltrate the economy of this city. I won’t be a pushover.   

What is the biggest achievement and/or failure of Burnaby council in the last four years? (100 words): The biggest failure hands down has to be getting a handle on housing.

Yes, prices are and were out of control and there’s only so much a municipal government can do but there needs to be a cognizant realization that all levels of government need to work together to get a handle on this.

Right now, the problem revolves around the fact that housing here has dumpster-tier regulation and oversight and the fact that it is seen as a bulletproof place to park your money. Regardless, our current municipal representatives have their head in the sand on this issue.

How would you spend a leisurely 24 hours in Burnaby? (150 words maximum): Hang out at BMP lounging and reading in the sun and then head on down to one of our plentiful rec centres to get some hoops in.

Maybe grab some ramen near Metrotown for dinner and then make my way back to Hastings and grab some gelato from Nuvola Gelato before meandering back home.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell voters? (100 words maximum): Think very carefully about the future. Do not equate personal comfort with long-term stability.

Do you like where this city is going? This province? Let’s make a difference and vote in someone who isn’t representing special interests or private capital.

Vote for me because I will represent you. Each and every one of you. You are all important and you all deserve a say in your city. We can do better. We must do better and get control of this city.

How can folks contact you? (Website, email, social media handles) Hit me up on Twitter, Instagram or just email me. I love to chat about pretty much anything! @kosteeroccas or KosteeRoccas@gmail.com.

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