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BEPPLE: Sun Rivers should not get to vote on Kamloops issues

Image Credit: Compilation/Jennifer Stahn
February 19, 2016 - 7:51 AM

Good for TNRD Director Mel Rothenburger for supporting Sun Rivers residents who want a say in City of Kamloops issues. He’s taking his role as advocate to heart. Rothenburger is the TNRD director for Electoral Area P, which includes Sun Rivers. A resident wrote to the board asking that residents of the golf community have a say in city issues such as the recent performing arts centre referendum.

At this week’s meeting, he was the sole director to support the motion of looking at ways of including Sun Rivers residents in City of Kamloops decision making. The other TNRD directors voted to oppose the suggestion.

Good for Rothenburger for standing up for his constituents. But, that’s about it. He’ll be seen by the residents of Sun Rivers as being on their side.

However, as former mayor of Kamloops, Rothenburger, more than anyone, knows who is responsible for what. The City of Kamloops is responsible to the citizens within city boundaries. Sun Rivers residents are the responsibility of the TIB. The other TNRD directors were onside for opposing giving them say in City of Kamloops affairs.

Sun Rivers residents may see themselves as part of Kamloops, but they’re not. They are residents on leased land on the TIB. The City of Kamloops has no jurisdiction for collecting taxes or delivering services at Sun Rivers. Giving residents input when there is no way to collect taxes is ludicrous. Stepping on the toes of the TIB, who is the government responsible for providing services to Sun Rivers doesn’t make sense.

Certainly Sun Rivers residents (and other TIB residents and businesses too) pay for some city services. There are service agreements for water, sewer, fire protection and recreational facilities. They are ‘pay as you go’ agreements. The TIB pays for the different services the City of Kamloops provides. The TIB then collects fees and taxes from the residents and businesses to offset the water, sewer and other services the City of Kamloops provides.

But paying for services does not mean having a say. All of the agreements between the city and TIB are for fixed length, typically three to five years. Either party could walk away from the services in the future. For example, the TIB has plans to build its own fire department, at which point the money Sun Rivers residents pay for fire protection would go to the TIB.

Another argument is that Sun Rivers residents feel like they’re part of Kamloops so should have a say. The same could be said by any residents at the outskirts of the City of Kamloops. There are many people who live in outlying areas who work, shop, and go to school in Kamloops. In any concert or special event, there are people from all over the region attending. Then again, the majority of people playing golf at Sun Rivers are probably from Kamloops, as are the skiers at Sun Peaks and people working at New Gold. Perhaps City of Kamloops residents should have a say at how all of those areas operate?

At the end of the day, the people who need to decide what happens in the City of Kamloops are the residents of Kamloops. Likewise, the TNRD can make decisions for rural areas, and TIB decides for the band lands.

The City of Kamloops and the TIB have a great working relationship. The agreements for providing services to the TIB is testament to that relationship. There are parts of the country where cities and adjacent Indian Bands don’t have the benefit of similar agreements. That’s something to celebrate.

But residents in Sun Rivers and Mel Rothenburger need to accept that they are not part of the City of Kamloops when it comes to voting and referendums.

— Nancy Bepple is a recovering politician and local news junkie. She expects she will never recover from her love of the banjo.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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