THINGS ARE STILL QUIET in Kamloops leading up to October’s federal election. Candidates are mostly in place, and party messages are being pushed out on social media. Though some diehard political junkies, myself included, are following things closely, it’s likely many people are spending more time thinking about their fall yoga classes than the coming election.
The candidates seem equally lethargic. They certainly are tweeting out their party platforms on a regular basis. There are tweets about SNC-Lavalin, climate change and taxes. There are tweets about all the community events they have attended from Pride parades to community band celebrations to salsa and nacho competitions.
But what’s missing, and I will include all the parties in this, is scant mention of what the candidates want to do specifically for Kamloops.
Now is the time for Kamloopsians to be loud and clear about what they want from Ottawa, regardless of the party who gets elected. Between now and Oct. 21, Kamloopsians need to be heard by all the candidates.
And I’ll start with my ask of all the candidates.
Kamloops once again needs a federally funded research centre. More specifically, it’s time again for Kamloops to have a federally funded science or technology research centre.
Back in 2013, closure of the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Station Brocklehurst was announced by the then federal Conservative government. It didn’t create much of a stir at the time. My recollection is the city council at the time, of which I was part, sent a letter of concern. But for the most part, the centre closed quietly with little protest. The facility, off Ord Road near the airport, has sat boarded up and empty ever since.
Kamloops is lesser for not being home to federal scientific research. Science creates opportunities, and gives us new ways to solve difficult problems. It creates the possibility of a better life for us all.
While Kamloops lost its federally funded research centre, other cities and towns across B.C. continue to host research centres.
Vancouver has NRC Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation (NRC-IFCI). Agassiz and Summerland have Pacific Agri-Food Research Centres. In Masset is the Cryptological Research for foreign signals intelligence gathering. Delta has a joint regional district/provincial/federal research centre on wastewater technology. There are federal research centres in West Vancouver, Victoria, Sidney, Saanich, Cultus Lake, Penticton, and Nanaimo on everything from fish, to forestry, to astrophysics, to climate modelling.
Other cities have federal research centres. Kamloops has nothing. Kamloops should have a federal science or technology research centre again.
Of course, the agricultural centre could be revived. But there are other areas where research is needed as well.
Since 1990, on average 2.5 million hectares of forests have burned each year in Canada. Wildfires continue to be an ongoing threat to cities and forests.
B.C., and more specifically, Kamloops, would be a natural place for a research centre on wildfires. Kamloops is home to the Provincial Wildfire Coordination Centre (PWCC) which oversees areas such as aviation management; the Provincial Air Tanker Centre; safety and training; resource management; and GIS (Geographical Information System) services. The PWCC is located almost immediately adjacent to the old Research Station Brocklehurst. As well, local technology companies like Hummingbird Drones are finding new ways to tackle wildfires.
The federal government knows that wildfires are a threat across Canada. Kamloops is a natural hub for a federal wildfire research centre. All Canadians need more research into wildfires for our safety. Kamloops deserves a national research centre and a wildfire research centre would be a natural fit.
Now is the time to tell the candidates on your doorstep that Kamloops needs more. Now’s the time to ask for a national wildfire research centre in Kamloops.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.