The uninformed, opinionated, time-wasting citizens of Kamloops – Bill McQuarrie

Column PicBill McQuarrie

January 27, 2016

During the course of the last municipal election (Nov. 2014), each and every candidate spoke of wanting to serve the people of Kamloops.  They spent weeks and months convincing you they were the person for the job. They spoke of dialogue, engagement, openness and willingly spent thousands of dollars to convince you of their sincerity.  Matter of fact, the 9 winning candidates spent a combined total of $94,300 to get that coveted seat on City Council. Of the winners, the mayor topped the money list, spending $37,000.  It’s the only job I know of where you have to invest a significant amount of cash to simply try and get hired.  So it stands to reason that you’ve got to want this job quite badly.

That however is history and as we skip forward to early 2016, things get a bit confusing when it comes to that willingness to listen, engage and serve the interests of those very same voters.  Let me explain.  

For the past several weeks I have listened to Mayor Milobar do his best to prevent delegations from attending council meetings in order to express their feelings, pro or con, on Ajax.  He has whined, complained, argued against and predicted utter chaos if council allowed voters the opportunity to attend and present their case.  He has explained and lamented over how much work it will cause him and fellow councillors if the public is allowed to engage with them.  You know the ones he’s talking about?  They are, I’m guessing, all those uniformed and time-wasting citizens of Kamloops.  The rabble, the electorate, those citizens whose opinions or thoughts are deemed unworthy and not important enough for the ears of his worship.  Those same people the mayor had spent $37,000 on convincing them he was their guy, their main man.  Now the mayor feels it’s too much work, too much bother and a complete waste of his valuable time. Not everyone* on Council shares the Mayor’s opinion about the public’s ability to ruin his day, just the regular foursome.  Do you see why I’m confused? I mean one day the voters are perfection personified and the next they’re simply not important enough to be listened to.

This is the same mayor whose election platform promised to support and make PAC happen.  It failed and instead of rolling up his sleeves and jumping back in, his response has been “…there is no plan B”.   Nobody said it was going to be easy and everyone knew it required leadership, vision, hard work, long hours and an ability to champion the project…even in failure. Everyone it would appear except for one person.

The Mayor’s election platform had other roll up the sleeves and get to work promises that included:  North Shore commercial growth – What brand new ideas has the mayor put forth and implemented since electioneering ended?  Downtown revitalization was a nice turn of phrase – What personal effort by the mayor has been put into making that happen?  I see more empty stores along Victoria and Seymour streets then there were a year ago.  A downtown campus for TRU – So far though the best idea from the mayor’s chair is to tear down a building that might make a good site. Affordable housing – Has any land even been designated or rezoned since November 2014? Have federal and provincial partners been engaged and committed?  Commercial and Industrial tax base diversification and expansion – That was on the must-do list but I think someone was betting the ranch on the annexation of Ajax and that’s not going well is it?   I sure hope there’s a Plan B this time around?  Core infrastructure and maintenance – Not a word was spoken about this prior to the PAC referendum but is about to be moved front and centre along with some significant and previously known tax increases.  RIH Expansion – That’s happening but as we know, it was all put together before the election, so I guess it was felt a safe promise to make.

The Mayor’s chair, along with those of City Council are positions wanted so badly that together you spent nearly $100,000 to get there.  Nobody was forced to take the job, so why, despite those electioneering promises do some of you find listening to the people of Kamloops such a difficult, distasteful and unpleasant task? Personally I don’t care if it means your Tuesday meetings go beyond their scheduled close.  The citizens of Kamloops want to talk to you now.  They want to feel their voice is being heard.  That you find this task a burden, tiring and a non-productive part of your job is in my opinion disrespectful in the extreme.  

Mr. Mayor, your batting record is not all that good right now but here was your chance to step up to the plate for some meaningful engagement with the City you are supposed to be mayor of…And your response was?

*Voting against a motion to allow delegations back were:  Peter Milobar, Pat Wallace, Marg Spina and Ken Christian.

Voting for a motion to allow delegations back were: Tina Lange, Denis Walsh, Dieter Dudy, Donovan Cavers and Arjun Singh

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