Kamloops council approves all but one supplemental budget item

The nod has been given to a $750,000 study to upgrade the downtown RCMP detachment and to add transit hours and pickleball courts

The City of Kamloops is expected to proceed with a $750,000 study to upgrade Kamloops RCMP’s downtown detachment, but will put off building a police training facility until further notice.

During a committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday, council moved ahead with 10 of 11 supplemental requests for the 2020 budget process, resulting in an additional .26 per cent tax increase and likely pushing the total proposed property tax increase to about three per cent.

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Supplemental budget items still need final approval from council at a regular meeting, thus the numbers at this point are all expected.

Included among the requests was $750,000 to plan expansion of the Battle Street detachment.

City staff say the facility, which was built three decades ago, faces challenges due to increased staffing over the years and lack of evidence space.

Mayor Ken Christian said upgrading the building downtown is preferential to building a new detachment.

“Kelowna just went through a $65-million new police station building down there, which would be a huge burden for our taxpayers here,” he said.

Council voted unanimously to support spending money on the study, though some discussion did occur over its cost. The city’s projects manager, Darren Crundwell, said similar to the city’s design process for Canada Games Aquatic Centre renovations, staff are looking for increased certainty via an integrated delivery model, a process intended to reduce waste and maximize efficiency.

“Just like the [Canada] Games Pool, how do we keep this [facility] open and functioning?” Crundwell said.

Also on the crime front, council approved two new full-time jobs that will ease police administrative load: a new crime analyst and financial clerk at a cost of $165,000 this year.

Coun. Mike O’Reilly said that as the community calls for more boots on the ground, the new jobs will ensure officers’ footwear is not in offices.

The third RCMP-related request — a gun range and training facility — was deferred. The city’s corporate services officer explained the request is not urgent and was proposed for efficiency purposes, to free up police time from travelling to the Lower Mainland for training. Humphrey said the request will come back during supplemental budget talks next year.

Also approved:

• Expanding transit by 4,500 hours beginning this fall, at a cost of $82,000 in 2020. Some councillors expressed concern about allocating money toward custom transit and funding not HandyDart, but taxi vouchers, which may or may not be usable by those with mobility issues in need of a ride, due to taxi availability issues.

• Purchasing of reusable mobility mats to improve accessibility at events like Music in the Park. The city will spend $20,000 initially, with potential for another $100,000 worth of mats over the next five years if the technology proves successful.

• Two city staff for the parks department, beginning with the hiring of an arborist this year and a natural-resource technician in 2022. The positions will improve the city’s tree canopy and maintain service levels caring for trails and natures as the city grows. It will cost the city $700,000 over the next five years

• Hiring of an in-house trades plumber, which is expected to result in $12,000 in annual savings realized without having to pay for contract plumbing work.

• A pedestrian crossing upgrade program to improve 39 crossings in Kamloops over the next decade, at a total cost of $6.5 million. The city will spend $150,000 this year to create a strategy and will address one or two crossings in subsequent years, funded from the city’s existing active transportation budget.

• Boat launch repairs at Pioneer Park and McArthur Island, at a cost of $759,000, funded primarily in the coming years from gambling funds from the province. The city will also look to add paid parking.

• Pickleball court expansion, at a cost of $75,000, including $12,000 paid for by the pickleball community. Two tennis courts at the west end of Riverside Park will be repurposed for pickleball. The city will pay the remaining $63,000 out of community works funding. Two tennis courts in the park will remain.

© Kamloops This Week



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