By MEL ROTHENBURGER
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.