The residents who raised questions of City spending Tuesday night wanted to know about everything from public art, a waterpark for Westsyde, selling the Interior Savings Centre, mountain biking trails and connecting walking paths.
The parks, culture and recreation department was on the podium for the budget discussion evening at the Interior Savings Centre, which drew about 50 residents and 30 or so City staff.
That’s down from last year, when 70 residents showed up to give their input on City spending, but Coun.
Nelly Dever noted that there was also a new council and a new process last year.
Many of those who attended Tuesday night’s meeting were at budget sessions last year, too.
Two men who live in Westsyde asked parks, culture and recreation director Byron McCorkell about the proposed Centennial Park water park.
The Westsyde Community Development Society has collected $14,000 so far to go toward the project and has promised to come up with $30,000, said Robert Kelly.
Mayor Peter Milobar said the waterpark is estimated at $300,000, with the City picking up $270,000 of that.
But the Interior Savings Centre is not on the auction block, despite a few suggestions that it be sold — perhaps to even fund the proposed performing arts centre.
McCorkell said the building has been paid for, so there’s no debt and the cost of operating it has been going down. It’s now at about $200,000 a year. It’s also a community asset.
His department represents 17 per cent of the City’s overall operating budget.
Overall, the department’s operating budget rose from $17.771 million last year to $18.191 in 2013 — an additional $4.26 on the taxes of the average Kamloops homeowner (on a home with an assessed value of $344,000).
McCorkell said parks are the most expensive item because they don’t bring in revenue. The City has 84 parks, 70 playfields, 40 playgrounds, 41 sport courts and 160 kilometres of irrigation pipe.
At least three residents made pitches for more walking trails, while a young man said the City should do more to promote mountain biking.
Milobar noted the City puts $500,000 a year into improvement budgets each for pedestrian and cycling trails.
McCorkell said the City is proud of its mountain bike park in Valleyview/Juniper and it has staff working with user groups. Erosion of the silty soils has to be taken into consideration.
Kamloops Art Gallery director Jann Bailey asked for more public art and was told there’s a fund that puts $50,000 toward that each year.
Resident Frank Dwyer asked that City council resist the impulse to continually raise user rates, as it puts a burden on the poor and seniors.
McCorkell said council adopted a cost-recovery model several years ago to reduce some of its expenses.
But there are programs for people who are on social assistance so they can access recreation, and there’s also a kidsport program and the Boogie cultural fund.
Next up in the City’s next public consultation public works and utilities, which is the focus of the Jan. 29 meeting at 7 p.m. at the Interior Savings Centre. Development and engineering and corporate services and community affairs are slated for Feb. 5, same time and location.