February 24, 2016 - 1:00 PM
KAMLOOPS - It was possibly the largest turnout in years for a budget meeting, and most of the people who came out want to see council spend more money on keeping the city active.
Last night’s, Feb 23, budget meeting was focused on 2016 supplementary budget items. City staff estimate about 145 residents came out and CAO David Trawin says it could be the largest turn out for a public budget meeting in years.
The format was changed up a bit from previous meetings, with members of the public writing comments on stick-it notes and posting them on the boards provided.
By the end of the consultation the board for comments on supplementary budget items requested by the public, including plans for a new boat launch at Pioneer Park, pickleball courts at Riverside Park and a rugby club clubhouse, was covered in comments. By far the largest group turn out was in support of the pickleball courts, with one member of the club estimating 75 members had shown up.
“I don’t really know how council could hear more direct that based on who showed up at the meeting that pickleball is one of the biggest things they want put in,” Trawin says. “Pickleball wasn’t the biggest ticket item on there as far as dollar figures, so council’s going to have to balance the needs with the wants.”
Health and wellness supervisor Linda Stride says Kamloops is an active town and so it’s not a surprise to see outdoor activities get large support at the meeting.
“The livability of the community is one of the reasons people choose to come and stay in Kamloops,” she says, noting there are four designated courts at McDonald Park and courts for other sports are modified when necessary.
She says pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in North America and the club has grown substantially in the last couple years, with membership doubling over the last year alone.
The pickleball request is notable, with an ask of $500,000 over the 2016 and 2017 city budgets, while the Pioneer Park boat launch project is currently budgeted at $50,000 for just the design and plan. That project also had a large supporting contingent, mostly made up of local dragon boat groups. The Kamloops Dragon Boat Club and the Sprit Warriors Dragon Boat Team both had members in attendance commenting and talking to council members.
“Every spring up until the end of fall we’re in the water launching our boats,” Kamloops Dragon Boat Club member Dana Gibeault says. “It would make it so much easier and safer if we could have an actual dock there to launch our boats. We’re constantly battling with other traffic.”
Spirit Warriors members Alison Bepple and Sandy Cooper says the frigid water and loading for dragon boats and similar water craft is difficult.
“You have to get four or eight people in the water while people load,” Bepple says. “Other dragon boats clubs throughout the province, they have docks. When other teams come here they’re just aghast.”
Cooper says the Spirit Warriors, who are breast cancer survivors, are often older and can have difficulty getting into the long boat at the current launch site.
“Our average age is generally about 65,” she says. “So we do have some difficulty getting into the boat and walking to the end of the boat while some of the younger girls are out in the water holding the boat for us.”
The most costly item listed was the $2.2 million storm infrastructure upgrades requested by city administration. At the end of the night, only a couple of commenters had left notes on the board about storm infrastructure, supporting the project.
Council will now look at the feedback received and make a decision on the budget items at an upcoming meeting.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016