Kamloops Voters Society won't lead fight against parkade
If a group is to try to stop the city from borrowing money to build a parkade in Riverside Park, the fight probably won’t be a led by a newly formed citizen group.
The Kamloops Voter Society (KVS) had indicated it wanted to get involved or lead a public response to the alternative-approval process that is available since the city intends to borrow money for the parkade project.
However, KVS president Chris Ortner said the group doesn’t have the members to take on what he called a “huge commitment” in the alternative-approval process.
The alternative-approval process gives opponents 30 days to gather 10 per cent of the electorate’s signatures, thus forcing a referendum on the issue.
“We’re more interested in ensuring people know about the opportunities and helping people engage in the opportunity than actually doing it,” Ortner said, noting it is possible the group could work with any other interested party that wants to lead the way.
In May, city council opted to proceed with a two-level, 350-stall parkade where the Lorne Street parking lot now sits adjacent to Riverside Park, at an estimated cost of $7.5 million.
The KVS met on July 12 to discuss the issue among members and the public.
In response, Mayor Peter Milobar said he would be surprised if some sort of a group didn’t form to try to force a referendum on the parkade plan, noting that’s what the process is set up to do.
As for the KVS itself, Milobar said he doesn’t necessarily agree with some of its positions, but sees its efforts as being no different than writing or sending emails to council members.
“I think it’s a group of citizens who want to meet and discuss civic matters, and more power to them,” he said.
Besides the parkade, the KVS is also taking aim at a couple of other issues.
The group will make an appearance at the July 19 city council meeting to discuss citizen engagement in the annual budget process.
The KVS will be asking council to approve a set of sessions to explain the roles of the various city departments in order to have a broader discussion about the 2012 city budget.
Ortner argued the way the city now deals with the budget is more like a presentation, rather than a consultation.
“We’re trying to promote some early involvement,” he said.
“People don’t feel engaged or listened to in terms of how their money is spent.”
The group is also asking council to share the results of the city’s queries into the proposed Ajax mine near Aberdeen.
Last month, city officials outlined a long list of questions it wants answered from the proponent as the mine proposal continues through the environmental assessment process.
Ortner said the group wants the city to share as much information with residents as it can, as he suggested many in the community don’t feel there has been enough public engagement from the mine through the initial process.
The KVS intends to meet again sometime in September.