By MEL ROTHENBURGER
Director, Electoral Area P, TNRD
Three local governments may team up to create a single venue for their meetings.
The Thompson-Nicola Regional District board got together in person Thursday (June 18, 2020) for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, meeting in a room in the Delta Hotel because their regular board room is too small to allow social distancing.
At a committee of the whole meeting, interim CAO Randy Diehl presented the board with options for future meetings, including renting the hotel’s meeting room on an ongoing basis until the pandemic is under control.
That would cost $2,500 a meeting, which would mean about $30,000 per year. The TNRD board room could be converted to conform to social distancing for about $21,000.
That would involve squaring off board desks to increase distancing, installing window barriers between directors, plus electrical and contingencies. Half of the current public gallery space would be used for some of the seating.
On top of that, technology upgrades would cost anywhere from $40,000 to $120,000 to accommodate teleconferencing.
A third option would be renting the Valley First Lounge in the Sandman Centre from the City of Kamloops, hopefully for less than other options like the Delta. That idea has already been broached with the City.
Mayor Ken Christian said the City has also been talking to the Kamloops School Board about the board moving its meetings to the Valley First Lounge because, like the City, school trustees have been struggling with virtual meetings during the pandemic.
That got the TNRD board blue skying about the possibility of all three — the TNRD, school board and City council — contributing towards a mutual meeting venue to save on costs.
The school district’s boardroom is so tiny a shoe horn is needed to get everybody into it for meetings, City council chambers have long been too small, and the TNRD board room is adequate but not capable of handling growth.
So, why not share? Not only that, why restrict it to COVID-19? Why not look at a permanent arrangement, such as converting the Valley First Lounge so it could be used by all three bodies? The City already uses it for some of its public meetings.
The school board meets Monday nights, City council on Tuesday afternoons and the TNRD board on Thursday afternoons once or twice a month so there would be no timing conflicts.
In effect, the three governments are needlessly duplicating premises by using three different locations. Sharing would save taxpayers money and provide everything each of the three bodies needs in a meeting venue.
The three administrations will discuss the possibilities further and we’ll see if it gets some traction.
The above article represents the perspective of one TNRD director and is not intended as an official communication from the regional district.