It was an important first step as newly elected councils on both sides of the river gathered at Moccasin Square Garden this week for the annual meeting between the City of Kamloops and Tk’emlups te Secwepemc.
Both councils are largely made up of newly elected officials, with both elections taking place last fall.
Tk’emlups Chief Rosanne Casimir, who served as a councillor for nine years before being elected chief, said she has boasted about the relationship the band has with the city.
“For me, it’s always about having a good, strong relationship, always having doors open and always being there to support each other,” Casimir said. “Like any relationship, we need to work at it. That is why we continue to have these forums.”
Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said he, too, brags about the formal relationship between the two governments.
“This new council that we have now has said, as part of our strategic planning, is we want to work on relationships and in particular the relationship we enjoy here,” Christian said.
Part of Monday’s forum involved highlighting some of the progress made between Tk’emlups and city on issues from the past year and a look ahead to upcoming joint projects.
Past projects cited by city external-relations manager Tammy Robertson include the Tyee Ball Park rehabilitation, transit services to the Tk’emlups reserve and the Xget’tem’ Trail in Petersen Creek.
She also noted the city and the band’s most recent collaboration — signing a letter of understanding committing both to preserving and promoting Secwepemc values and protecting Tk’emlups’ cultural heritage resources.
Tk’emlups Coun. Jeanette Jules described the Peterson Creek trail as one of the major highlights of the year and noted the need to move the Stuart Wood cultural centre project forward.
She also pointed out that CP and CN trains blocking bus access as an issue that needs to be worked out, but added there has been plenty of positive feedback on that development.
Police statistics for the RCMP Rural detachment, which are kept with the city and not the band, need to be looked at so the band can ensure the detachment is properly staffed, Jules said.
She also said sewer and fire agreements need to be reviewed to ensure properties within the catchment area aren’t neglected.
Jules said the band doesn’t see taxes collected on its reserve, such as traffic fines, citing that as another issue the band and city need to work on.
Fines are now collected by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.
Addressing affordable housing, the city’s community-development supervisor, Natalie Serl, said the municipality’s 2018 point in time count found 201 people experiencing homelessness in Kamloops — 48 per cent of whom identified as Indigenous.
She noted a recent federal and provincial announcements to address First Nations homelessness and the number of social housing projects being implemented in Kamloops.
Casimir told KTW the band intends to have its staff looking into accessing government funds for housing opportunities on the reserve.