BEPPLE – Even politicians go to school

(Image: Pixabay)

THIS WEEK, Kamloops City council is attending the three-day Local Government Leadership Academy in Kelowna.

We’re there along with with hundreds of local council members and regional district directors from as far away as Revelstoke, Keremeos, Lillooet and Clearwater.

About half attending are serving their first term while others have served multiple terms.

Over the three days, topics include why crafting a strong code of conduct is important for council effectiveness.

The City of Salmon Arm, whose code is considered by experts as one of the strongest in the province, explained the process they went through, including six iterations of drafts, as well as scheduled reviews of the policy. They talked about the importance of consequences such as removal from committee and reduction in remuneration.

Salmon Arm’s presentation is Important information for City of Kamloops to take in. Kamloops’ code of conduct currently states what expected behaviour of council is, but doesn’t currently have any consequences.

Recently Kamloops council passed a motion to look at adding consequences to the code. Information from Salmon Arm will inform updates to Kamloops’ code.

Other topics include roles and responsibilities of council, council meeting procedures, emergency management and asset management. Other topics include building meaningful relationships with First Nation governments, land use planning and enhancing tourism.

One of the best things in these sessions is meeting other local politicians. While we may want to think that Kamloops is unique, it doesn’t take long to find out Princeton, Revelstoke and Kelowna councils also face issues in safety, housing and infrastructure.

Forest fires, highway safety and healthcare impact both large and small communities.

From rural areas to large centres, there are challenges. No one gets a buy on avoiding problems. But there are also solutions.

A colleague from Clearwater reminded me that health care and highway safety are provincial jurisdiction. The most important thing local government can do is to work with our provincial partners for improvements.

Meanwhile, a colleague from Revelstoke discussed how their city used cellphone data to better track population. The 2021 census measured Revelstoke’s population at 8,300. But through tracking cell phone usage, Revelstoke is able to show their population, including their temporary visitors, is closer to 18,000.

The larger number is very important when applying for infrastructure funding from the federal and provincial governments. Higher population numbers are eligible for more funding.

With a growing international student population that might not be captured by the census, Kamloops could consider whether to adopt Revelstoke’s practise. The bigger the population, the more infrastructure needs to be built and maintained.

Getting our fair share of dollars from upper levels of government would make it easier to keep up with leaking pipes and new roads.

The most important part of the conference is building relationships. At its core, the work of council is relationships. Meeting other councillors in other cities gives us a chance to share ideas.

In the future, when a city or town is faced with catastrophic fires or floods, those relationships will help us reach out and connect to ask for or offer help. Equally, it’s always good to have someone to share ideas with. What may seem like only a Kamloops problem could likely be one shared by other cities and towns.

No one would want a brain surgeon who hadn’t gone to school. Or a car mechanic or accountant. Just like everyone else, politicians go to school too.

Nancy Bepple is a Kamloops City councillor with a strong interest in community building projects.

About Mel Rothenburger (9489 Articles) 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 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.

2 Comments on BEPPLE – Even politicians go to school

  1. One question Ms. Bepple:
    By name, which Kamloops City Councilors is attending or attended this learning opportunity, and did our mayor attend?

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