School District 73 intends to invite the Minister of Education to Kamloops for a tripartite meeting with the City of Kamloops.
During a meeting between councillors and trustees last week, Kamloops Thompson school board chair, Kathleen Karpuk extended the offer in an effort to encourage the development of new schools in Kamloops given increasing enrolment, particularity around the south eastern portion of the city.
The topic was touched on last month during the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) when the school board and city met with the deputy minister of education.
“In speaking with the deputy minister, he suggested that if all three parties were to meet that we might be able to expedite some of our capital requests around property and new schools,” said Karpuk.
Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said the city would take the meeting under advisement and suggested they request Minister of Education Rob Flemming come to Kamloops to meet with them as a follow up to the UBCM meeting in which the minister was unable to attend.
In a letter to the city sent by Flemming earlier this month, the minister said he appreciated council’s concern regarding expanding enrolment and his ministry will be reviewing SD73’s capital plan and respond as part of its capital planning process later in the school year.
Karpuk said the education minister has asked her if the city would help expedite building permits for new schools, which she has confirmed, but the ministry would like to find out first hand that the working relationship between the city and the school district is as good as suggested.
In response Christian stressed the finite capacity for approving building permits, noting the city is already giving priority to permits surrounding the Sagebrush Theatre repairs, Valleyview secondary expansion and the rebuild of Parkcrest elementary in addition to other priorities surrounding social housing and the Royal Inland Hospital expansion.
“There’s a lot of pressure on that department right now, so yes we do give priority to those community wide projects, but at the other end of that is a guy that can’t get his hot tub approved and he is wailing on councillors, and writing letters to the editor,” said Christian.
Christian also said the issue isn’t as simple as adding new hires as it’s difficult to find more building inspectors to recruit.
The city’s chief administrative officer, David Trawin, said there are currently about 100 building permits “in the queue” and the city is short two building inspectors, but hope to be operating at full capacity by next spring.
Trawin and SD73 facilities director Art McDonald said that while SD73’s building permits can be complex, most issues are often already worked out and allowed to moved forward quickly as staff from both sides have often already spent time discussing the plans.