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TNRD – The challenge of not being at the table for important decisions

By MEL ROTHENBURGER

ONE OF THE CHALLENGES of leaving public office is that you have to stand by and watch your successors mess with what you tried to accomplish.

At yesterday’s TNRD board meeting (Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022), directors unanimously voted to postpone action on something I had initiated at a Committee of the Whole meeting in October. This is the motion I made, which the committee adopted:

“That the COTW recommend to the board that the TNRD engage in public consultation on minimum parcel sizes.” Resolutions from COTW must go to a regular board meeting to be put into force, so that’s why the resolution was in front of the new board on Thursday.

At the October COTW meeting, there was considerable support for adjusting minimum parcel sizes downward. Primarily, the question was whether to reduce the minimum size from 8 hectares to 4 hectares. Not the least advantage is the creation of more housing opportunities.

My motion was passed with only four of the 26-member board in opposition. But when it came up yesterday, planning manager Regina Sadilkova spoke in opposition to the motion, asking that action on it be postponed until future consideration of the Regional Growth Strategy and Official Community Plans.

Not only did staff obviously not like my original motion, they had a motion to postpone all ready to present as an alternative. So, instead of dealing with the motion that was on the agenda, it was simply ignored in favour of what staff wanted.

The new board, almost all of whom are new, voted unanimously to go along with postponement. If I had been there as a director, I could have provided a counter argument. Lee Morris, the new director for Area P, did not speak on the matter.

The only director to speak to the new motion was Kamloops Director Mike O’Reilly, who had been among the few who had opposed my motion, saying yesterday that any consultation on lot sizes should wait until the board’s new strategic plan is in place.

So what happened is that a new board not up to speed on an issue that was examined by the previous board voted to shelve it on administration’s say-so.

I understand that the new board didn’t have the privilege of knowing the background that went into my motion but this situation illustrates what happens when there are so many new directors, who find it hard to question administration.

So my question is, since when does consulting with the public have to wait for a whole bunch of reports? When is it ever a bad time to consult? When is it ever too early to consult.

Wouldn’t it be useful to get public input before those reports are written rather than later when it will basically be too late? Sometimes, consultation is part of a formal process but, often, it doesn’t have to be.

I suspect the idea of asking residents about lot sizes will die of neglect.

Thursday’s decision reminded me of another situation a few weeks ago when I discovered, thanks to a call from KTW reporter Jessica Wallace, that administration had implemented a $10 fee for Freedom of Information applications.

I confirmed it with corporate officer Deanna Campbell, and let her know I would be asking the board to remove the fee. When I made a motion to that effect at the next board meeting, Campbell strongly defended the fee with some prepared remarks.

I felt blindsided and was surprised when the board voted overwhelmingly to support staff’s position. My view is that charging fees to access information that already belongs to us is contrary to the principles of our democracy.

I had good working relationships with TNRD staff — including Sadilkova and Campbell — and admire their professionalism and expertise but directors aren’t elected to rubber stamp everything administration hands them.

After the FOI experience I was mad as hell and had to keep reminding myself for the next few days that staying angry accomplishes nothing.

I’ll have to do the same after Thursday’s board meeting. And also remind myself it’s not my “problem” any more.

Mel Rothenburger is the former director for Electoral Area P in the TNRD. He did not run for re-election in the October civic election.

About Mel Rothenburger (9358 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on TNRD – The challenge of not being at the table for important decisions

  1. It seems that certain things are done certain ways; always have been and always will be. Your heart was in the right place, Mel and due consideration should have been given. It’s no wonder you were angry.
    It seems that when someone comes along with the message of change and hope, there should be no surprise to see the Sanhedrin come together, have a mock trial and the decision is made to do away with the detractor of the status quo.
    Watch how that has been playing out of late in our fair town.

  2. Melody Formanski // December 16, 2022 at 5:57 PM // Reply

    I totally understand what you are saying. After spending 25 years restoring and building a thriving business at St. Andrews On The Square, for the use of the citizens of Kamloops, the city has done nothing with the building since taking over a year ago, except charging exorbitant rates and making bookings very difficult. For 4 months or more, they weren’t even taking bookings.
    I get many calls monthly, from previous renters and all I can say is, “not my problem.”
    So, you can put all the dedication you want into an effort but whomever takes over, is in charge and we just sit back and wonder “what the heck happened” .

    • Nooo! I read your comment in true disbelief Melody. It can’t be possible things have gone backwards since the intervention of the infallible entity known as the City of Kamloops.

  3. But you have the unique opportunity and enviable position to remind the average folks that to stay attuned is a great responsibility. And to remind newly elected “politicians” they have a duty for honesty and truthfulness. And to remind administration they are not the ones who should make decisions.

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