Councillor's Idea sparks more interest than anticipated | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Councillor's Idea sparks more interest than anticipated

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An idea by a Kamloops councillor has caught on.

Coun. Arjun Singh was pleasantly surprised by the interest in his first Idea Festival to be held Jan. 12 at T.R.U.'s House of Learning. The three-hour public forum about Kamloops ideas is open to residents, but is closed for registration, with 148 people signed up.

"I thought I would get 70 or 80 people. I thought 100 people would be good," Singh said.

He had to cut it off somewhere, he's paying for all of it out of his own pocket.

"Kamloops is a very spirited community," he said. "It's been very inspiring, the interest."

A wide range of demographics have signed up for the event.

"Young, old, middle-aged, all political persuasions, different interests," he said. "It seems to do a good job of mirroring the diversity in Kamloops."

Singh said he initiated the event about two weeks ago after wanting to create a welcoming environment for brainstorming in Kamloops.

"A lot of people aren't happy with democracy these days," he said.

"People want to be heard, they want their voice heard even if they don't get what they want all the time."

He hopes the event will change the way conversations are held and he wants to use the session consisting of quickfire presentations by local community leaders as well as small group brainstorming sessions to generate positive conversation rather than focus on problems. Transportation is one of the main topics at the event. He chose to focus on it after the City identified it as one of the highest priorities of Kamloops residents in a public survey conducted last year.

"What does an awesome transportation system look like? Let's share that, put it on the table," he said. "We want to do it in a positive spirit."

He said it will also help him as a councillor to understand what's most important to residents.

"I always like to have a good pulse of what's going on in the community," he said.

The festival is a natural extension of Singh's background in public engagement. He has a masters in professional communication and is co-chair of the Canadian Community for Dialogue and Deliberation. He said it's risky for city hall to hold a forum of this nature, but as a councillor he can do it on his own. And he wants to know what Kamloops residents hope to see for the city in the next 10 years.

"What's your vision of Kamloops at it's best?" he said.

He doesn't know what types of ideas be generated in the event, and he wants to keep it that way.

"Let that emerge," he said.

He said there is a possibility for similar events in the future.

"I think these kinds of things are ongoing," he said, noting he is always open to communication from the public.

A feedback form will be given to attendees after the event.

"I already consider it, at this point, a success because people are coming."

— Jessica Wallace

News from © iNFOnews, 2013

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