Kamloops Coun. Bill Sarai has been re-elected to the board of the Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA).
SILGA works on behalf of dozens of municipalities, villages and districts in the Southern Interior region, representing them at the provincial and federal levels.
It is Sarai’s third term on the board during his first council term. Sarai is standing for re-election in the Oct. 15 municipal election.
Sarai said SILGA has focused of late on flooding, wildfires and recovery efforts. Cannabis legalization has also been at the forefront for the board in recent years.
“Flooding and fires has been No. 1, front and centre,” Sarai told KTW.
The SILGA conference was held in late April in Salmon Arm. Most of Kamloops city council attended, but councillors Kathy Sinclair and Denis Walsh were absent.
Sarai said it has been three years since the conference was held in person, due to the pandemic. He said attending the conference face-to-face was a valuable experience.
“It’s making connections with other elected officials and communities, to see the good, the bad, the ugly that they’re going through,” he said.
Resolutions presented at the conference included desire for weightier consequences and greater accountability from the provincial and federal governments for repeat offenders and for school districts be required to keep some school buses in summer months for evacuations, if required.
Sarai said street issues are being seen not only in Kamloops, but in communities across British Columbia. Part of the problem is prolific offenders, he said, some of whom are camouflaged amongst the homeless, thereby degrading community compassion.
“The prolific offenders are the worst ones and they, in turn, give everyone a bad name,” Sarai said.
Since the SILGA conference, B.C. Attorney General David Eby has announced an investigation into the prolific offender problem in the province, with two experts reporting back to him by September.
On whether the school district should be called upon during emergencies, Sarai said the issue was canvassed during a recent meeting between School District 73 and the city. He said the issue comes down to liability — if school buses and spaces are utilized for emergencies or shelters, who is held responsible if dangerous substances are left behind and a child accidentally comes across it?
“Those are valid questions overall,” Sarai said.
Next year’s SILGA conference will be held in Vernon. The conference will come to Kamloops in 2024. For more information on the organization, visit its website.