New community group has the right idea

SATURDAY MORNING EDITORIAL — Community associations come and go, yet they are the most fundamental — and one of the most important — forms of democracy in our system.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbout 50 residents of the downtown and West End got together this week to launch a new community association. Those who called for the formation of the association said they were motivated by the threatened closure of Stuart Wood elementary school and the Columbia Street widening project.

Too many community residents’ association are short-lived because they react to a specific issue — once that issue is resolved, they fade away.

Even in the downtown and West End there have been a couple of past iterations of residents’ groups that slowly withered. In at least one of them, the closure of Stuart Wood was the issue, as it is now.

Those involved in this new group have the right idea. They don’t want to be a one- or two-issue group that disappears as soon as the excitement subsides. Stuart Wood is important and so is Columbia Street, but they aren’t the only things that should motivate residents.

There is, for example, the parking issue. And the one-way pedestrian-unfriendly street configuration downtown. There’s the question of what will be done with the Kamloops Daily News building. And the retention of heritage in the West End.

Because community associations have no taxation or spending authority, their imperative is strictly one of providing advice and consultation with City Hall.

Yet some associations, notably the Westsyde Community Development Society, thrive with a stream of initiatives that include events, fundraising and providing new amenities for residents. In that, they frequently partner with the City and have an impressive record of achievements over many years.

The new downtown-West End group can do the same, and by the sound of it will endure past the immediate issues.

About Mel Rothenburger (7457 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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