The question I get asked most often since the Oct. 20 civic election is this: “How is the new Council?”
In a word, I say, “Good.”
The reason for that is the enthusiasm, dedication and work ethic they have all brought to the task.
In 2017, after the byelection, we developed a new orientation program that was endorsed by the previous council.
It is extensive and intensive.
We started with general on-boarding like you would receive in any new job. We then evolved into the nuances of the unique role of city councillor, navigating that sudden transition from candidate to politician and the expectations that came from the role.
Everything from conflict of interest, protection of privacy, workplace safety and harassment awareness to some more mundane issues like records retention, payroll and benefits and Roberts Rules of Order — these are the tools of the trade and it is critical we understand them.
We also need to understand city operations.
We have accomplished that through half-day briefings from each department director and tours of significant city facilities and infrastructure. From the holding cells to the cemetery and from the sewage treatment plant to the Tournament Capital Centre, we have been there.
One of our immediate priorities has been the provisional budget and the establishment of utility bylaws to set our utility rates for next year.
The provisional budget is actually a teachable moment for a new council in that it touches every aspect of civic operations.
Police, fire, recreation, contracting, maintenance, programming and risk management are all elements that need to be understood and voted upon.
The five-year financial plan bylaw approval has served as an opportunity to also understand the bylaw approval process and the importance of public input through both written correspondence and public meetings.
Listening to the input of the public is a key component of being successful as a council. Making decisions based upon our assessment of the relevant merits of that input is where the rubber hits the road in local politics.
We have also spent time understanding our relationship with other partner organizations.
We have visited with the TNRD and Tk’emlups te Secwepemc for their inaugural meetings. We have talked about our roles with the Southern Interior Local Government Association, the Union of B.C. Municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
After that, we focused on our role as committee members and liaisons to various community partners, such as Tourism Kamloops, the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce, TRU, Venture Kamloops and the Kamloops Airport Authority.
What has impressed me and the reason I believe this council is off to a strong start is that not only have the new members been actively engaged in the orientation process, but so, too, have most returning members of council.
Learning together builds a sense of team and strong teams become effective councils. That is not to say we will always agree with each other because I assure you, we won’t.
But when we debate issues, we will all be coming from a place of common understanding of the central issues under review.
As we approach 2019, I am optimistic about the future in Kamloops. We have a hard working and enlightened group on council that will be working diligently on your behalf.
Ken Christian is mayor of Kamloops. Council columns appear monthly in KTW’s print edition and online at kamloopsthisweek.com, under the Opinion tab. Christian can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To comment on this column, email email@example.com.