An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
SO WE HAVE A NEW City council. Now what?
The voters have had their say about who they want to guide the business of their City. Question is, where will they guide it?
The priorities are clear: addressing social disorder and healthcare. Neither is technically within the jurisdiction of City Hall. I’m not talking just about Kamloops. In municipalities throughout the province, the issues and priorities are the same.
Municipal councils aren’t supposed to have to worry about such things. They’d rather stick to pot holes, barking dogs and building parks.
In practice, of course, that’s not the way it is. Over the past 20 years, provincial politicians have conveniently downloaded more and more responsibilities onto the shoulders of those who sit around City council chambers.
Some say, with validity, that it actually began when the Province closed down the big institutions and sent their wards out into communities without proper supports. In the case of the Tranquille School psychiatric institution in Kamloops, that closure came 37 years ago yesterday.
It was hailed as a progressive step, but it was poorly implemented. As the years went by, B.C.’s City councils were faced with a dilemma — just say no; resist taking on social responsibilities it should never have been expected to assume.
But that’s not easy when you’re a local representative and see the need, and hear the voices that say, “We don’t care who’s supposed to be doing it, just fix it.”
So, councils plow money into policing. They look for ways to facilitate more social housing. They provide facilities for street folks. They brainstorm on ways to attract more doctors and nurses, even contemplating how to throw their own money at the problem.
In the end, though, Job One for this new council, and other councils, will be pestering their provincial and federal counterparts to step up and do their own jobs. And that’s no small challenge.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
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 email@example.com.