Kamloops Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson is taking his time in getting city committees — which he has described synonymously as task forces — re-established this new council term.
“These task forces, I don’t want to get them in too quick, I want to make sure we get the right people in there so it’s not going to be four years of nothing,” Hamer-Jackson told KTW. “We want success.”
Hamer-Jackson, who was elected on Oct.15 in his first civic election campaign, said he was working on forming his city committees over the past weekend and all day Monday.
“We’re coming up with new ones and more effective ones,” Hamer-Jackson said.
He said he has received pressure from people to get committees established, but equated his process to that of his campaign signs. Hamer-Jackson was one of the last of the civic election candidates to erect signs around the city when the campaign began.
“Everybody wanted me to get the signs up right away, I said no, no, just hang on. Let’s get it right. Just calm down,” Hamer-Jackson recounted what he told his supporters.
“We waited for everyone to put their signs up and, then, when we did put them up, we didn’t put them up in the middle of 40 signs. We put them up in strategic areas and I believe they were more effective.”
New city councillor Kelly Hall told the Kamloops Last Week webcast that he has encouraged Hamer-Jackson to establish city committees for the new term.
“Right now, we’ve got committees that are being cancelled because the committee structure isn’t there yet,” Hall said. “We need to get to work.”
In his inaugural address, Hamer-Jackson noted a number of task forces he intends to create.
They will be related to transportation and infrastructure maintenance, drug addiction, mental health, street crime, emergency shelters, outreach and recovery centres, business development and retention, schools and recreation, parks and culture and health care.
Hamer-Jackson said he would also like to establish a task force on housing that would look to replace old and outdated apartment buildings in Kamloops.
Hamer-Jackson said he will probably mix some of those task force topics in with what were the existing committees, but noted he wants to take his time to ensure the right people are selected for each committee.
“That’s key. I want to make sure we have the right stakeholders,” he said.
Hamer-Jackson is also considering establishing some task forces to run for six-month periods.
After each election, city council committees are disbanded ahead of the election, then re-established by the next mayor.
In the last term, former mayor Ken Christian in 2018 established a development and sustainability committee (focused on climate change, community planning and development cost charges), a finance committee (to review services agreements, enhance digital strategy and investigate the industrial tax balance), a community services committee (community safety and social planning, healthy Kamloops task force to focus on families, seniors and those with unique needs), a civic operations committee (review service levels, address governance issues and delve into emerging issues) and a community relations committee (maintain and enhance partnerships, including with Thompson Rivers University, Tk’emlúps te Sewcépemc and Kamloops-Thompson school district).
Christian also established a new streamlined committee structure aligned with city services, a structure that cut out members of the general public in favour of three councillors.
Asked if he intended to reverse this, Hamer-Jackson said he would be interested in doing so.
“If it’s anything to do with no public, yeah, I’d definitely be interested in reversing that because I’m all about talking to the public and citizens of the community to be able to have a say,” he said.