View From City Hall: Council will keep tackling social issues

One of the key points is a three-year strategic plan for the community and protective services department.

It’s been an interesting few weeks as council has tried to address social issues we hear about so often.

There were a couple of blunders, not done out of malice, but simply because the issues are challenging and solutions aren’t always apparent.

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That’s not to malign the social agencies and city staff who work daily on the many ways these challenges arise, from dealing with riverbank camps to complaints from business and residents about theft to just trying to get some of the folks on the street access to the health care they desperately need.

It’s all a reality we struggle to address.

At city hall, staff have been bringing in changes they hope will help.

One of the key points is a three-year strategic plan for the community and protective services department.

The first step has been taken as what we have always known as the bylaws department has been renamed community services and bylaw officers are now known as community services officers.

They are being trained to do all facets of the job, from working in the RCMP detachment cells to issuing parking tickets to cleaning up those camps.

Next up is to strengthen how the city addresses social issues, recognizing all Kamloopsians are impacted by them in some way.

The plan requires more supports immediately for staff to not only continue to address the issues, but to also co-ordinate their approaches.

And to make it more imperative, there is one more reality that factors in — some of the key people doing this work are nudging retirement age and the need to share knowledge they have is necessary.

There is now a job posting for a new position of a social and housing manager. A contracted position that runs the city’s community-based program aimed at reducing and, ideally, preventing homelessness will become a city staff position.

The new researcher-in-residence shared with Thompson Rivers University will be asked if she can look at a housing strategy for the city, map community resources and probe neighbourhood capacity building.

In the meantime, we are all going to continue talking with — and listening to — experts on these issues.

We are going to keep lobbying senior government levels for more support. We are going to continue pushing Interior Health for another Car 40 (a program that matches a Mountie with a nurse to respond to mental-health calls) and a sobering centre.

We will continue to discuss other ideas and strategies — and we will probably also make more blunders along the way. It’s bound to happen when dealing with such challenging, complex issues.

But the point is we aren’t stopping.

As Byron McCorkell, the city’s director of community and protective services director, said when he brought the plan to council, we will keep on “working toward building programs and safe neighbourhoods that support an outstanding quality of life” for all of us.

Dale Bass is a Kamloops councillor. Council columns appear monthly in KTW and online at kamloopsthisweek.com. Bass can be reached by email at dbass@kamloops.ca. To comment on this column, email editor@kamloopsthisweek.com.

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