I had a chat with a city councillor recently.
I asked what we have to do out in my Dallas neighbourhood to get sidewalks for kids to use when they walk to the local elementary school.
The answer was blunt: It will never happen.
OK. Being not just mom but reporter, I inquired why something that seems so darn basic to me “will never happen.”
Apparently the need we see out in Dallas — and I’m sure others have seen it in their own neighbourhoods since our school isn’t unique in its non-sidewalkness — isn’t a big priority at City Hall.
Instead, our kids will continue to use what one neighbour has called our virtual sidewalk, a line running along the north side of Dallas Drive with a figure painted every so often of a child. For those of us who see the need for sidewalks a safety issue, looking at a white outline of a child lying on the road is an irony I suspect is lost on those who make the decisions at city hall.
I asked another councillor in recent days why the businesses in the Tranquille Market can’t shut down part of their roadway like the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association does every year to hold a festival or a big pedestrian-friendly sidewalk marketplace — to put up some tents with microphones and speakers and promote local musicians on that side of the river, as well.
The answer was just as blunt as the one on sidewalks: Can’t do it. OK. But why?
It would interfere with the bus system, I was told.
Three routes use Tranquille Road — and the North Shore bus exchange is located just off that road by the Northills Mall, so I can see some of the concern city council might have — but what about allowing even a one-day closedown and rerouting those buses onto Fortune Drive instead. Or take a look at any other potential temporary detour.
It’s what would happen should Tranquille need a major reconstruction, so why not try to accommodate it for a one-off?
Just an idea.
All of this leads into my regular pre-election column advocating a ward system for Kamloops.
If we had councillors whose main constituency was their community — and we would use a broad description of that word, perhaps creating a Valleyview/Barnhartvale/Dallas/Campbell Creek ward, for example — we might be able to elect cheerleaders for our many neighbourhoods.
We could have councillors who know where every pothole is on Todd Road or how crazy traffic can be at times on Westsyde Road.
That part of the city might have seen more advocacy to reopen its long-shuttered pool when the city finally realized the building was old, falling apart and in need of renovation.
There would have been a councillor who could have been the voice for Brocklehurst when council mused about shuttering its community pool, too.
This city is growing. In a few years, the population is expected to move into six figures.
So I’m going to repeat what I wrote before the 2016 election because it still holds true.
There’s a reason why all the attention seems to go to the two retail districts in the city — Tranquille Market and the downtown core. Nobody is speaking up for the rest of the city.
Live in those areas and you get the great bus service. Businesses are encouraged to move there. Builders are urged to follow the city’s in-filling mantra.
The rest of us can live with the lousy service, with forever-for-sale retail, industrial and commercial sites and with pools that are left to deteriorate until they reach a point where, well, of course we need to shut them down.
We can live with no sidewalks and, for those in Barnhartvale and parts of the North Shore, no curbs, either.
We can live with having two classes of citizens because there’s no one with any clout saying it’s wrong.