September signals the start of fall and the pilgrimage back to school for 15,000 students in public schools, another 1,000 in private schools and almost 8,000 at TRU — 3,500 of whom are international students.
That is a significant shift in behavioural (and traffic) patterns in our community. Pools, parks and playgrounds fall quiet as the older crowd gets back to its routines and school sites are teeming with activity after the summer recess.
As one of my back to school activities as mayor each year, I am invited to address the incoming law class at TRU — in this case, the class of 2022.
They are a very keen and focused lot. All dressed in business attire and hailing from all parts of the country, they are very engaged. I always wonder what I can say that would meet their expectations for learned legal inspiration.
I usually don’t need to look further than my desk to find a number of topics.
The area of municipal law is diverse and fascinating. When thinking about cities and the law, most people naturally think about policing. In our case, RCMP decisions like Regina v. Stenchcome or Regina v. Jordan have huge impacts on how we police our city.
The B.C. Independent Investigations Office impacts our approaches to the operation in our municipal jail cells. The Criminal Code oversees everything from the keeping of exhibits to the collection and analysis of evidence by our forensics unit.
But there are a lot more instances where we as a city interface with the legal profession.
Contract law is an issue with the countless number of contracts I sign on behalf of the community, for everything from improvements on West Victoria Street to the supply of fire trucks. Warranty law is also critical, not so much for the $500 hedge trimmer, but fairly important for the new $1.2-million fire truck we just ordered.
Our human resources division deals in labour law routinely.
Contracts with CUPE and IAFF, the firefighters’ union, as well as general employment law for our management staff, often require legal analysis, especially around issues at arbitration.
Our risk management group deals in nuisance liability and tort law all of the time. Slips and falls are an issue when you are responsible for thousands of kilometres of sidewalks, trails, lanes and roadways.
We are fortunate that the Municipal Insurance Association often assists us in defense of claims. The issues of negligence often came to play for things as simple as trees that grow fast and obscure stop signs or sidewalks that settle and create a trip hazard.
That is why our bylaws staff are vigilant in making sure private property owners do their part in addressing hazards.
In our development, engineering and sustainability department, real estate law is a major factor on everything from statutory right-of-ways to property acquisition and conveyancing. There are myriad legal processes, including development permits, development variance permits, OCP amendments, rezonings and public hearings, that need to be adjudicated in an open, fair and unbiased manner to ensure they can withstand legal challenge.
Our finance division deals extensively with tax law and, in the mayor’s office, we, along with our legislative services division, deal with everything from conduct to censure. We always must make sure our work complies with the Community Charter.
So, when Dean Brad Morse of TRU Law asks for my input, I guess there are a number of areas I can address. Probably better to have asked the city solicitor, but hey, she is busy!
Ken Christian is mayor of Kamloops. Council columns appear monthly in the print edition of KTW and online at kamloopsthisweek.com. Christian can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To comment on this column, email email@example.com.