I had conversations this week with two residents who have very different views about Kamloops.
“Kamloops people are pathologically agreeable,” said one as we sat in his office.
“Kamloops people have overly high expectations,” said the other as we sat in my office.
Both assessments came from thoughtful, concerned professionals who have been here a long time, know a lot about what goes on, and care a great deal about their community.
The first comment was a tidy way of describing Kamloopsians as being willing to forgive and forget, to deal with the inevitable and to move on — that is, to accept undesirable outcomes as the new normal.
The second was an opinion that Kamloops people want an awful lot from the system — sometimes more than it’s capable of giving — and they want it now.
Inevitably, current examples such as Ajax and hallway medicine come to mind. It’s relevant to ask, for example, what would happen in Kelowna if somebody came along and proposed a giant open pit mine more or less next door to a major residential area.
It’s hard to imagine anything but an uprising. There would be no polite debate about jobs versus the environment. City council wouldn’t be worried about seeming rude if it asked for some independent evaluation.
In Kelowna, I’m pretty sure, the very mention of a mine straddling town limits would be laughed off as a joke. An open pit mine in a city that prides itself on its lifestyle doesn’t compute.
Why, then, is it different in Kamloops? Is our lifestyle any less precious, any less “fullsome” to use one of the new buzzwords? Or, is it a lay of the land thing? Kelowna is relatively flat, Kamloops is not. More on that in a moment.
One view would be that, well, too bad for Kelowna, we get the $100,000 mining jobs and Kelowna gets what’s left.
One of the things Kelowna gets, of course, is expensive new health-care facilities, which brings us to the other big coffee klatch issue these days.
“Howcum,” the cappuccino convo goes, “Kamloops always gets the short end of the health-care stick?” We do have a new RIH master site plan that would fix a lot of things, if we can wait long enough.
When people started complaining to the media about having to lie around in hallways at Royal Inland, the response from the riding’s MLA was that nobody had mentioned it to him.
For all of two weeks, people got very demanding over their expectations for a certain level of health care. Then everything settled down again.
Meanwhile, down the road from where I live, there’s an offroad that is regularly used as an unsanctioned garbage dump by people who think that as long as they don’t have to look at it, it’s OK.
Those closest to change often are the most concerned; the further away, the easier it becomes. Some might call it a variation of NIMBY, some might say out of sight, out of mind.
If Kamloops was flat like our Okanagan nemesis, would we be different? If Kamloops health-care decisions were still made here rather than in Kelowna, would our point of view change?
Would we be less agreeable, or would we be less demanding?