By MEL ROTHENBURGER
The president of the Kamloops Heritage Society reacted with frustration today (Nov. 14, 2019) at the news “the reconsideration ship has sailed” on the City’s takeover of management and operation of St. Andrew’s on the Square.
The Kamloops Heritage Society and the City have been embroiled in a disagreement since council abruptly terminated the society’s contract to run the heritage building in August.
Coun. Dieter Dudy admitted in an email Wednesday there’s been a “complete communication breakdown” between the society and City that has caused “mistrust and acrimony.”
Dudy said it’s too late for council to revisit its decision.
His comments are the first public acknowledgement from within City Hall that it will not attempt to reach an accommodation with the society and that the takeover will proceed.
He made the comments to members of the society’s board and in response to a plea from board secretary treasurer Bernice Mitchell to work with the society to resolve the situation.
Heritage Society president Peggy Broad told ArmchairMayor.ca today she was surprised by Dudy’s email because the society has heard nothing from the City recently, contrary to promises the society would be kept informed of developments.
She said the City’s culture manager Barb Berger has not contacted the society since council’s in-camera meeting last week in which Coun. Denis Walsh attempted to have the matter reconsidered.
“It’s so frustrating,” she said. “We just don’t know what to do anymore.”
Broad said the society was asked at a meeting Oct. 11 to stop fighting the issue in the media while the matter was being dealt with. “I thought I’d been handed an olive branch.”
There was no mention of a deadline on reconsideration having passed, said Broad.
No arrangements have been made for a transition from the society to the City and “we don’t know what to tell our clients.”
The full text of Dudy’s email is as follows:
Dear Mrs. Mitchell,
Thank you for your frank and insightful letter. As council we acted on the information provided to us. It’s unfortunate that your voice did not come to us sooner. The sad reality though is that the reconsideration ship has sailed. Legislatively we would have had to address the issue at the first council meeting following the decision to proceed. I know that Councilor Walsh did make an impassioned plea to reconsider but also arrived too late and unfortunately did not provide a compelling enough argument to sway council. It seems to me that there has been a complete communication breakdown over the years along with mistrust and acrimony. Neither of which do much to resolve disputes. I truly feel your frustration and disappointment but at this point we’re legally bound by the process. I do however, thank you for your frank and honest appraisal of the situation. Respectfully, Dieter
Walsh confirmed he tried to have the matter reconsidered but said that when his notice of motion came forward at an in camera meeting last week, City staff told council it was too late.
Walsh said he couldn’t comment on the closed-door discussion but said it was “unfortunate” he wasn’t informed of the deadline ahead of time.
Broad said the society’s board will meet to discuss the development but added, “How are we supposed to communicate with them (the City) when we don’t get anything back from them?”