This is Part 2 of a republication of two editorials from 2014 broaching the idea of reducing Kamloops City council from a mayor and eight councillors to a mayor and six councillors. This one was first published July 30, 2014.
KAMLOOPS City council held its regular weekly meeting this week (actually, it will be taking a break for much of the summer) and conducted a lot of business on planning, bylaws, delegations and other matters.
It did so with only eight members, as it has done for the past several months since Coun. Nancy Bepple resigned due to health reasons.
Council business still gets done.
While Bepple’s contributions to debate are missed, the business of council has carried on unhindered. One would be hard-pressed to name a decision that was made less efficiently because of the reduction in the number of people at the table. (Some votes are being defeated due to a 4-4 tie vote but they might have been defeated anyway.)
An argument could even be made that one less voice in the debate actually makes things move a little more quickly. So, what if there were only six councillors and a mayor on a full-time basis, as was proposed in this space several months ago?
Fewer members of council, less cost, quicker decisions. Cutting the size of council from nine members to seven may be an idea whose time has come.
And, while we’re at it, watch and see if the summer break has any negative effect on life in the Tournament Capital. Council will meet only once between now and Sept. 9. Will any important business not get done?
So, what would happen if B.C.’s City councils operated on an assembly system, as is the case in Kamloops’ sister city, Uji, Japan? There, instead of weekly meetings, the City council meets in sessions only at certain times of the year in the same way our own provincial legislature and federal parliaments do. (By the way, the mayor of Uji does not chair council meetings, and Japanese municipal councils have broader powers than ours do.)
If such a system were to be adopted for our City councils, a lot of the everyday stuff such as delegations and correspondence would have to be handled differently, but new laws would still be passed in a timely manner. And, quite possibly, more efficiently and more economically.