View From City Hall: A September to remember

We might not have control over what’s happening in the world, but we can influence the kind of experience we have in our backyards, streets, neighbourhoods and community.

This is bound to be a September to remember for several reasons — the most obvious being we’re living through a global pandemic and trying to learn new ways to navigate the business of life.

Workplaces, school and day cares don’t look the same as they did a year ago — and likely won’t for some time.

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So much change and uncertainty can lead to a feeling of unease, especially given so much of what we’re experiencing is outside of our individual control.

This uncertainty impacts city hall, too. We’re heading into a new budget cycle armed with very little information about the future economy, aside from the certainty of uncertainty.

We know the last few months have been challenging for many residents and businesses and want to do what we can to minimize financial burdens for the coming year.

This is why we are looking where cuts can be made so there’s no tax increase for 2021. This means municipal costs need to be reduced by between $3 million and $4 million.

A coinciding drop in municipal revenue makes budget planning even more complicated.

For example, without tournament and sports rentals, the revenue normally used to offset facility operating costs simply isn’t there.

At the same time, we know community well-being is centred on access to cultural, recreational and social opportunities.

How do we balance this access, which directly impacts our quality of life, with financial prudence? That’s the $3- or $4- million question.

It won’t be easy and will require hard decisions.

Cutting services to reduce or eliminate tax increases needs to be done with a view to not disproportionately cause hardship to any one part of the community — from snow clearing to access to recreation facilities.

While we are asking for public input on where the cuts might be made, we are also asking for patience and understanding.

There’s a chance something you value will be impacted. This is no different from having to make personal sacrifices during times of financial hardship. We need to come together as a community to do the same.

Know we are doing our best to maintain access to services that contribute to the overall public benefit, albeit in a reduced way.

In a council column this past January, I wrote about the role we each play in the collective community experience, suggesting we ask questions rather than pass judgment, show compassion instead of anger and aspire to build each other up through our actions.

We might not have control over what’s happening in the world, but we can influence the kind of experience we have in our backyards, streets, neighbourhoods and community.

This will be a September to remember — to remember to support local, to remember this isn’t forever, but for now, and to remember to breathe and be patient, be safe and be kind.

Sadie Hunter is a Kamloops councillor. Columns from Kamloops council appear monthly in print in KTW and online, under the Opinion tab, at kamloopsthisweek.com. Hunter’s email address is shunter@kamloops.ca. To comment on this column, email editor@ kamloopsthisweek.com. Go online to kamloops thisweek.com and click on the Opinion tab to read past council columns.

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