An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE MAYOR’S TASK FORCE on Economic Recovery has released an 18-page report on what the city should do about the pandemic, and it’s an eclectic mix of practical advice for businesses, recycled ideas on urban livability, and thoughts about how to promote the city.
The report results from four closed-door meetings of a hand-picked group of bureaucrats and politicians — including City councillors — from May to July, supplemented by research. Such exercises are bound to generate off-topic discussion and this one is no exception.
For example, it proposes making Kamloops more pedestrian friendly, including the almost-ancient chestnut of closing Victoria Street to vehicles. Other recommendations suggest expanding local food production, reviewing the City’s strategic plan and streamlining development proposals — none of them at all original.
Of more value are several recommendations for helping businesses through the pandemic, such as reducing fees for some services, creating webinars for businesses, lobbying the provincial government to establish a PPE stockpile, and bulk purchasing of health and safety items for Kamloops.
Some of the measures proposed in the report really should have been done months ago, others are long-term in their approach. We shouldn’t be too critical of the efforts of the task force, though. The report is kind of like a Throne Speech — broad-brush ideas that need to be fleshed out with specifics in the Budget.
One is generalities, the other is action. In this case, the action will hopefully come when the task force gets together again in December, which is, again, not exactly a quick response to the problem.
Nevertheless, that’s not to say the work of the task force has been without purpose. If the City can deliver on even this crucial objective, it will have been worth it. It states, “Ensure mechanisms are in place to support COVID vulnerable populations if second wave of illness occurs in fall/ winter and City/ province is forced to return to more restrictive movements.”
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.