Big turnout for Kamloops budget consultation; ice rink, skateboard park bring out supporters | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Big turnout for Kamloops budget consultation; ice rink, skateboard park bring out supporters

City staff, councillors and residents discuss public works projects at the Nov. 15, 2016, public budget meeting.
November 16, 2016 - 2:35 PM

KAMLOOPS - Kamloops city staff, councillors and residents came together last night to discuss what the city should spend money on next year.

While most of the nearly 160 people who turned up for a public meeting on the city's budget were there to support one of two projects — a refrigerated ice rink for winter skating and a skateboard park in Rayleigh — the attendees also gave feedback about a variety of projects.

The current list includes 20 items from city administration and eight from the community, though chief administrative officer David Trawin says there may be some changes going forward.

“As of now we’ve boiled it down to that, but that may not be the full list when we go back to council,” he says. “We’re going to get a few more coming out of this meeting tonight which we will add.”

The largest ask will likely be for the a refrigerated outdoor rink, according to parks director Byron McCorkell, though at this stage the project proponents are looking for a study into feasibility, designs and location.

“You saw a lot of people here tonight that think that would be a good addition,” he says. “I was just talking with someone who didn’t think it was, but those are conversations for council.”

The Kamloops Outdoor Ice and Skating Association is the group lobbying for the rink. Climate change is making natural outdoor rinks less common they argue. The group think Riverside Park would be a good place for the rink.

Many of the requests from city administration are for infrastructure and parks maintenance, including repairs or renovations at at least three arenas, which include HVAC and refrigeration maintenance and stair repairs. McCorkell says some of the parks and recreation structures are getting to the age where repairs will be more common.

“We don’t really have any big numbers this year; we’re into the maintenance side now,” he says. “Most of our infrastructure, good or bad, in recreation was built in that 70s to 80s window.”

That’s going to lead to some more difficult decisions for the city over the coming years.

“We’re going to have ask some of those troubling questions like ‘Do we do this now or do we do something else later?’” he says. “Do you fix and repair with the idea this might be changing into something different?”

Public works director Jenn Fretz says maintenance is also an issue for her department, which has the second highest number of requests after parks and recreation.

“We don’t have enough money in our current budget to keep up with sidewalk maintenance,” she says. “We’re basically doing band aid repairs when we should be doing some more structural repairs.”

Most of the maintenance issues shouldn’t be expensive, Trawin says, though costs are still being worked on as the list of requests is still being developed.

When the base budget is finished, which covers all the annual bills the city has like garbage collection, sewers and police costs, administration will have a better idea of what items on the supplemental budget list are affordable.

“Once we know what our surpluses are and what we have in, say, gaming or gas tax, then we’ll be recommending to council what funding sources to use,” Trawin says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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