No news is good news, or so it seems.
Things have been quiet over at Kamloops City Hall for the last while. After controversy over whether wine could or could not be sold at grocery stores (effectively no for now) or whether cosmetic pesticides can be used on lawns, flowers, bushes and non-fruit trees (again no), there hasn’t been anything of note coming out of council for a few months.
Further back there was the food truck regulations which, once adopted, saw no food vendors actually sign on to sell food on city streets this summer. The regulations said yes, but the food trucks had no appetite for the onerous regulations.
But over the last few months, controversies have been few and far between. Mayor and council haven’t been getting the headlines they had earlier in the year. It may seem that council is back on track in making decisions that don’t get the public riled up. After almost a year in office, one might think that council may have hit their stride.
That’s not because there aren’t things council could do which would arise the ire of the public. Almost everything council, or any level of government does, bothers someone. If someone isn’t upset, then chances are nothing is happening.
In fact, the main reason there hasn’t been any controversy lately is simply that council has been in their summer slowdown. There were just two meetings in July, and one in August. There was one this week, and there will be a second at the end of September. So over three months, a total of five council meetings have been held.
Less meetings means less opportunity for individual councillors to bring forward motions. Less opportunity to have one or more councillors come out in opposition to decision of the whole. But by the end of September, council will be back to full speed. The controversies should start again.
An issue which will definitely grab headlines over the next few months is the Ajax Mine environmental review. The public meeting held by the city on Sept. 28 will provide fresh fodder for councillors Cavers, Dudy, Lange, and Walsh who oppose the mine. They will have new facts and opinions to bring to the council table, and inevitably, there will be motions proposed.
Another issue which may cause controversy is the upcoming referendum for the $90 million performing arts centre. It’s easy to identify the supporters, but the quiet opposition is probably the biggest threat to the success of the project. It would only take one or two city councillors to vocally oppose it to derail the process. None have voiced major concerns so far, much to the relief of the supporters of the centre.
Ajax and the performing arts centre are big. But what will likely get the council mired in controversy in the months ahead are the small things. Backyard chickens, bridge bumps and bus stops are as likely to make headlines in the next few months as anything else.
Whether council ruffles feathers in the next few months, on the big picture, it’s much better to be a city contemplating a major mine and a new civic building, then dealing with major drug crime and the devastating violence that comes with it, like some of the cities in the Lower Mainland.