WATCHING FROM THE DISTANT and rainy shores of Vancouver Island, I sometimes find myself amused – in a head-scratching kind of way – by breaking news stories in Kamloops. Perhaps it is distance adding a new perspective but I think there is more to it than that.
You see, there is often more than just a thread of predictability to many local stories. The players, the comments, and even the outcomes can be as unchanging and foreseeable as day turning into night. Let me explain:
Had I been writing about the previous week’s Snowmageddon, I could have pulled archival copy from last year, or the year previous or the last five years for that matter and without changing a word, posted it as a current news story.
The standard complaints about crazy drivers, windrows blocking driveways, roads not being cleared or sidewalks left un-sanded were all there, as they always have been.
While residents complain, City officials explain how this storm caught them by surprise. They’ll go on to describe how ‘The Team’ is doing their best during these difficult days. And if those excuses don’t work, you will be told how only higher property taxes – to purchase new equipment – could possibly solve the problem.
Personally, I’ve always loved the indirect threat of higher taxes as: a) I’ve always wondered how higher taxes will mean weather reports will no longer come as a surprise: b) It is a wonderfully constructed excuse that plays on concerns about higher taxes and: c) It deflects responsibility and blame from the City to the resident.
It is a brilliant play and one that a previous mayor – now MLA – could deploy with absolute perfection, right down to the ‘you want what’ disbelieving look, flawlessly delivered with a mildly condescending and incredulous tone of voice.
Another great story in the here we go again category is the coming PAC referendum.
In the anti-PAC camp you once again have those who want the tens of millions redirected towards their own special interest group. That might include new sidewalks, pothole repairs, affordable housing, homelessness or maybe even new snow plows that won’t fill in their freshly shovelled driveways.
And of course there will always be those who, following in the Grandpa Abe Simpson tradition of yelling at clouds, will cry out in upper case to all who will listen, “BUT WE’VE ALREADY SAID NO!!!”
Kamloops, you can be one of the greatest places in B.C. to live and work and I do miss you. However, a city is not built on those who feel complaining about the same thing again and again is an acceptable substitute for change and growth.
Damnit, just pass the referendum and build that Performing Arts Centre. Years from now, when it is an established and successful cornerstone to a thriving arts scene and a vibrant downtown, everyone (as they did with Expo ’86) will claim they supported it way back when.
Maybe even members of that Facebook secret society, ‘No PAC Kamloops’ will have second thoughts. Well, okay, maybe some things are impossible.
If you want more or better snow removal vehicles, get them and instead of tax increases, demand real action from City Hall. Make it their job, not yours, to find savings and efficiencies that can be redirected towards paying for the purchase.
There are some at City Hall who know your bark is far worse than your bite. They know in a matter of weeks, snow removal complaints will be replaced with the annual pothole complaints. From there and right after the high snow pack worries of spring, it will be bike paths, better transit, downtown parking and panhandling on Victoria Street.
You can be so predictable and they count on it.
Bill McQuarrie is a former magazine publisher, photojournalist and entrepreneur. Semi-retired and now living in Port McNeill, you can follow him on Instagram #mcriderbc or reach him at email@example.com.