WILDFIRES – TNRD board reconfirms $100,000 wildfire monument

2003 wildfire statue.

Director, Electoral Area P, TNRD

All I wanted was to have separate votes on the $100,000 wildfire monument and the 2018 TNRD provisional budget.

So, at today’s (Nov. 24, 2017) board meeting, I moved to “divide the question,” standard Robert’s Rules of Order stuff when a motion includes too many items. My reason was that while the provisional budget is fine overall (including a tax reduction in Area P), I don’t support erecting a wildfire monument with taxpayers’ money.

It’s important to recognize the efforts of volunteers but, in 2003, we raised $91,000 in corporate donations for the statue that now stands in front of the Civic Building, and it could easily be done again.

I would have voted for the 2018 budget, but against funding the statue out of taxes.

Then things got contemplated, with interpretation upon interpretation, talk of process and rescinding motions and wording and rewording, all of which resulted in a heated debate about whether the statue should be erected at all, some alternative chosen, or the whole idea shelved.

Chair John Ranta patiently went back and forth with staff in an effort to accommodate my intent and find the right wording and procedure, interspersed with arguments on the project itself.

Kamloops Director Ken Christian defended the statue idea, saying the board was the architect of the controversy because it issued a media release after a Nov. 9 meeting in which directors agreed with the staff’s recommendation to include $100,000 in the budget for it.

He said the media, none of whom were at that meeting, picked up on the press release and misinterpreted some of the intent.

Electoral Area Director Ken Gillis sided with Christian, urging “Let’s get on with it!” and board Vice Chair Steven Rice said there will always be some in the public who will oppose such projects.

Others, though, felt that if the project is to be funded from taxes, there are better alternatives, such as a memorial bursary or scholarship program or some other way of directly helping those affected by the wildfires.

I hadn’t intended to create such consternation, but it goes to show you how the democratic process isn’t always easy.

At any rate, the monument was re-affirmed and the budget approved. One change for the better — CAO Sukh Gill mentioned that proposals for the monument will now be reviewed by a committee including Ranta, Mayor Christian and members of the arts community, in addition to staff.

As approved at the Nov. 9 meeting, the submissions would have been reviewed only by staff.

Mel Rothenburger’s posts as TNRD director don’t purport to be journalistically objective but are, rather, his personal views of regional district decisions and issues.

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9 Comments on WILDFIRES – TNRD board reconfirms $100,000 wildfire monument

  1. Once upon a Time in the West. A few years back my wife and I were in our old VW van transiting Sylvan pass in the Absaroka hills of western Wyoming headed for Cody.There was a paved pullout ahead so we pulled in to give the old girl a breather.On the edge of the pullout there was a brass plaque with the names of 10 people who had died fighting a fire that had ravaged the area some time previously. A simple but thought provoking memorial to men who perished doing their job.

  2. The many who are outraged by local governance decisions and rampant spending might want to red the blog, Baker on Vancouver, especially the title, How to Set Aside a City Decision. In part it boils down, to “you elected them so live with it.” So, if ever there were a better case for more people to vote in local elections … There is a process called a judicial review, and one more option explained in the blog, but any action better be brought forward by an organized civic group (incorporated) as there is always the issue of being dinged for court costs. Petition? – dubious other that a momentary feel good effect.

  3. I really appreciate the work of the volunteers, as does everyone, I’m sure. But the regional district should have thought about asking them about the best way to memorialize their contributions. I’m betting most would have preferred a more practical application of the funds, like better communication tools, new training, etc. Are we going to have a new statue every time? Thanks for trying, Mel.

  4. Add a small bronze comment to the already existing monument in each year of future fires.
    Use the big bucks to help prevent or fight the fires, or help support the various volunteer groups involved.

  5. Sign the online petition to have this silly expenditure tossed. What is it that Ken Christian does not get? People are rightfully upset when they see their hard earned money spent recklessly.

  6. One of the names mentioned doesn’t surprise me, Mel.
    Bureaucrats simply don’t “get it”. The simplicity of people in need being helped by others should be part of our human nature. Those acts of human kindness do not require a statue; a simple ‘thank you’ often is enough.
    By chance I was the only one around the time a man collapsed on the River’s Trail north of Westmount Park. Yep, heart attack but his pacemaker/defibrillator kicked in and got him conscious again. I stayed with him, walked with him to the park and got an ambulance for him.
    He ended up with a lengthy hospital stay away from home while the specialists here and in Vancouver made some changes to his hardware and medication. About 8 months later, he & his wife were walking together and I spoke with the guy. His wife was ecstatic to be able to meet the guy who saved her husband’s life.
    I didn’t think of it that way nor was I looking for any plaque, statue or medal. It was simply the right thing to have done at the time and given all the circumstances. Basic First Aid teaches skills how to handle a situation and do a call to the ambulance service properly.
    Scrap the statue. Don’t even bother budgeting for that kind of stuff. We are better people to each other without the graven images.

  7. David Johnson // November 24, 2017 at 11:53 PM // Reply

    Gotta ask … what exactly was said or happened at the Nov 9 meeting that has been misinterpreted? Is there something we don’t know?
    Beyond that, the review by a committee is a good idea, since now its a fait accompli, regardless of not the media response, but the communities response to this debacle. It might as well look good, and we really shouldnt trust it to just these debacling decision makers, to decide on the design on their own.
    Yes, democracy is difficult, especially when its leaders dont listen to the people.

    • Mel Rothenburger // November 25, 2017 at 6:19 AM // Reply

      I don’t know which media reports Mayor Christian was referring to, or what was misinterpreted, as the media release seemed pretty clear and the decision was quite simple: erect a monument to wildfire volunteers at the Sandman Centre. The media release said, in part, “The Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) is commemorating the efforts of volunteers during this summer’s unprecedented wildfire season with a monument. The TNRD Board of Directors has approved setting aside $100,000 in the 2018 budget to create the monument, which will be erected outside the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, where many of the wildfire evacuees were housed or received aid and support from volunteers.”

      • David Johnson // November 28, 2017 at 8:55 PM //

        Ya, thats about all I knew too. Perhaps our new leader could answer to what he meant by that. Dropping that statement, and leaving it out there seems to have left a question as to what else happened at that meeting. Perhaps intentional spin on his side?

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