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EDITORIAL – Does Kamloops really need more politicians?

(Image: CFJC Today)

An Armchair  Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

COUN. DENIS WALSH mused at yesterday’s Kamloops City council meeting about putting a referendum on the ballot with the Sept. 30 by-election.

He didn’t have any particular ideas about what the public should be asked, but I have one.

How about the fact there are more City councillors than needed? Maybe I sound like a broken record on the subject but consider this:

The City of Kamloops, with a population of 90,000, pays for a mayor and eight councillors. Vancouver, with 630,00 people, gets along quite nicely with only two more councillors than Kamloops.

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mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca

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About Mel Rothenburger (4815 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca 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 ArmchairMayor.ca 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.

6 Comments on EDITORIAL – Does Kamloops really need more politicians?

  1. So Ms. Ross Friedman, if you became mayor of Kamloops, what would you like see being done with this worthwhile question? And if we have a number of Councillors who are not doing anything, whose fault is that?

    • Cindy Ross Friedman // June 29, 2017 at 2:27 PM // Reply

      Please call me Cindy! I have never liked formal titles, even though I hold a couple.

      Ah well…it is important to take a little time to get it right. This is where the scientist in me starts analyzing and thinking. I would not want to see a wholesale change to Council based on a grumpy electorate (and we are all a little grumpy re: elections). We cannot simply say, “Oh, we have too many and some are lazy…let’s cut the number in half!”. And we cannot simply cherry-pick a few cities where things work (e.g., when I say “consider the Ward system/liaison system, this means an investigation and study done by Councillors with help from–not done exclusively by– $taff). Same thing here: requires background study and data. I would even lead such a study if needed – that is what I do – research.

      And as for so-called, um, “less effective” Councillors, well, there are recall procedures. Plus there are ways to change by-laws. But the best plan for now is for tax-paying voters to check candidate track records. I personally have a track record of getting things done and sitting straight up in my chair ;).

  2. Good editorial.

  3. Interesting….I like when people challenge the status quo or beg a question. Presently, I have been in agreement that we need a full Council, but does a full Council really need 8 + 1? Worth pondering.

    I suppose one has to really question how the size and representation of a City is determined in the first place: geography, population, neighbourhoods, density? Full representation or nimbleness? A reduced cost for a reduced Council or the risk of decisions being made at an even sparser table when Councillors are away with illness or conflicts? An examination into the ideal size of Council for the city of Kamloops would be a very worthwhile undertaking in the next short term of one year.

    I still feel that, regardless of the size of a Council, representation of neighbourhoods/communities is key. Whether or not Kamloops is ready for a Ward system. I still fully believe specific Councillors should be responsible for designated neighbourhoods so that neighborhood residents know whom to approach to discuss their specific community issues, and where Councillors would regularly visit their designated communities in order to bring ideas and concerns back to the Council table (yes, stealing your “community liaison” idea – I know a good idea when I hear it). In Kamloops, dedicated community liaisons would need about 8 Councillors—more, actually—but I think liaising with, say Dallas or Westsyde separately is more urgent at this point than liaising with Sagebrush, Downtown/Power Extension and Lower Sahali separately from each other. So at present I do think “Eight is Enough” and a very good number, but distribution of tasks needs to be made more efficient. But again, some deep examination of Council size would be a useful exercise. The key is to always challenge the status quo and ask if we can do better. Complacency is not cool.

    As just one example, something that has always bothered me is what goes on in Westsyde with regard to speeding and injuries. People have talked about this issue, granted, but the problem has not gone away and in fact I think has worsened. A Councillor liaison really needs to be fighting for Westsyde (although I would do it personally if I have to – I know too many students who have been seriously injured there. But I digress, To Be Discussed Next time…).

    • Mel Rothenburger // June 28, 2017 at 11:16 AM // Reply

      Expanding on the council liaison idea (which, by the way, Vancouver City Council does), why not return to the practice of taking council out of chambers and into communities once in awhile for its regular meetings? We did that way back when and it was always well received — gets council decision-making closer to the people at a time and place more convenient to them. The public has the benefit of an opportunity to watch the process, and council gets a chance to listen to more ideas at the hyper-local level. General town halls on key issues are good, but so is going to neighbourhoods. It’s about pro-active democracy vs. a let-them-come-to-us democracy.

    • I am not sure how a councilor liaisoning for Westside over the speeding issue is going to fight for the issue…it is the West-siders themselves causing the problem in the first place.
      Also, a smaller number of achievers will get much more done than an ensemble of fence-sitters…
      Also, councillors need to show results and achievements…enough with sophistic posturing just to get re-elected!

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