View from City Hall: The other side of the notebook

Well, I’m back, but it’s just a guest appearance as part of the monthly city councillor columns.

I must say, it’s a strange feeling being on the other side of the notebook or camera — and being inside city hall.

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One thing that hasn’t changed is engagement with Kamloopsians. My new councillor phone rings regularly and it’s usually someone calling who is upset about snow or potholes or how much they will be paying in taxes — which, by the way, won’t be decided for a few more months.

That first percentage discussed at council a few weeks ago, the 3.14 per cent that set off a flurry of emails and phone calls from concerned people, was just to set the bar from administration’s point of view.

It’s up to council to manoeuvre that bar around to find the right level.

But let’s step back a bit and talk about the reality that faces newbies like me, who decide it would be a great idea to work for the community by running for council.

Campaigning is tough, but once elected, those first several weeks make running for election seem like a walk in a park.

Being elected means starting to run a marathon without much preparation and still getting used to the new shoes.

There are lengthy presentations from every department at city hall — information that even for those of us who thought we understood the operations, is fascinating because of the reconfiguration of those departments that was brought in last year.

Some longtime administrators have taken on new functions and there is more of a team atmosphere rather than what reporter Dale saw as silos.

And there is a lot of information to try to absorb in just a few weeks. Add in the regular arrival of Kathy Humphrey, keeper of all things financial, and the homework includes learning about the budget.

There are tours of city facilities, not only the Tournament Capital Centre and bylaws centres, but that essential structure at the far end of Mission Flats Road that caused a few of us to feel slightly nauseous as we tried to learn, without actually breathing, about how sewage and sludge is processed.

We’ve also had to learn to work together as a council, recognizing we won’t always agree on issues, but also that we don’t necessarily know as much about issues as we think we do.

That’s where the whole process has been revelatory for me in particular because I can now get all the information I couldn’t always access when asking as a reporter.

If I only knew before I left KTW some of the stuff I know now.

We’ve all agreed it’s going to be a good team. It’s great having younger people involved — Sadie Hunter, Mike O’Reilly and Kathy Sinclair (she gets included because this is her first full term) as they bring a perspective that is essential to our discussions both in public and in closed meetings.

Add in the experience of Arjun Singh, Denis Walsh and Dieter Dudy, with the new direction Mayor Ken Christian has been slowly bringing into city hall — it will continue as the revamped group of committees get going this year — and there’s a sense of confidence.

Sure, I expect to see some 5-4 votes on issues, but that’s nothing new for Kamloops council.

For me, being the person answering reporters’ questions has felt strange. Giving the answers has never been part of my world, It’s now becoming more comfortable.

Yes, I miss filling this space every Wednesday but that’s about the only thing that has changed.

I am still asking questions and probing for more information, still taking calls from people who want to vent, suggest, question or just talk.

It’s going to be a fascinating four years.

Dale Bass is a Kamloops councillor. Council columns appear monthly in KTW and online at kamloopsthisweek.com. To contact Bass, email dbass@kamloops.ca.

To comment on this column, email editor@kamloopsthisweek.com.

© Kamloops This Week

 

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