Divisive culture is on the rise and community leaders have a role in assessing and shaping that culture, according to a keynote speaker who spoke at the Southern Interior Local Government Association’s annual general meeting on Wednesday (April 28).
Via Zoom, Diane Kalen-Sukra presented a digital talk, “Addressing Culture Risk: Civic Leaders as Culture Shapers,” during which she described toxic culture as an impediment to communities. She noted a United Nations study on resilient communities that cites social cohesion and trust as key and referenced Abraham Lincoln’s “House Divided “ speech, during which he said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
“We need to restore the art of living and working well together,” Kalen-Sukra told government officials.
Thirty-two resolutions — including two from Kamloops — will be considered at the annual general meeting, which is being held virtually on Wednesday during the COVID-19 pandemic,
The Kamloops resolutions stem from social issues in the city. One resolution asks that the minister of health and minister of mental health and addictions address the need for increased detox and treatment beds and sobering centres that include treatment for addictions and mental-health issues. SILGA recommended endorsing the resolution, citing repeated requests for the provincial government to provide more resources and facilities for mental health and addictions services in British Columbia.
SILGA members voted 51-1in favour of endorsing the resolution.
Another Kamloops-based resolution is a request for a third-party consultant to review outcomes and impacts of supportive housing projects, including impacts on communities and outcomes of individuals who have accessed supports. SILGA members voted 38-10 in favour of endorsing the resolution.
Coun. Bill Sarai, a first-term councillor who was re-elected as director at large on the SILGA board, told KTW every community in British Columbia is grappling with social issues.
Sarai said he hopes to put his name forward for SILGA vice-president next year, noting the association is important because Kamloops often is required to stand alone when it comes to building needed facilities.
“Kamloops, I really realize when I hear it, more and more, we’re an island in the desert,” Sarai said. “We have to do everything standalone.”
He said that any time issues affect more than one community, it is beneficial for Kamloops.
“We share what the struggles are and what communities are facing and what they’ve done to better themselves,” he said.
Other resolutions to be presented on Wednesday include presumed consent for organ donation (sponsored by the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District), a moratorium on new long-term care facilities that do not offer single rooms and renovation of existing facilities to provide single rooms (sponsored by the Town of Oliver) and an amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act that would allow for use of all-terrain vehicles on municipal streets during snow events in order to aid in snow clearing (sponsored by the City of Merritt).
Resolutions endorsed by SILGA are submitted to the Union of BC Municipalities for consideration at its annual general meeting, which is held in the fall. If the UBCM endorses the resolutions, the organization will then lobby the provincial government on those issues.