The earliest-ever City public budget session drew many of the people who usually attend such events, as well as a few who were there for their own particular reasons.
About 30 people gathered in the Interior Savings Centre’s Parkside Lounge to talk with City staff about their concerns and ideas for dealing with municipal money matters.
Tables were set up according to department, such as administration, parks and recreation, community enforcement and corporate services, development services, utilities and capital projects. Residents and City councillors circulated among them every 20 minutes, like budgetary speed dating.
Jeff Wright and three other Barnhartvale residents went table to table talking about safety concerns regarding Todd Road and what might be done.
He said it was productive, as they were given suggestions on how to find funding or grants for some type of pathway to keep pedestrians safe from drivers going too fast on the sidewalkless road.
Wright himself has been clipped by a driver who just kept going. He plows the boulevard in the winter with his quad to help make more room, but it’s not enough.
Chris Ortner from the Kamloops Voters Society challenged parks, culture and recreation director Byron McCorkell.
Ortner said he’s a regular park user who has noticed frequent watering and mowing being done at least twice a week. He suggested watering and mowing be reduced.
He also suggested the cemeteries don’t need to be flawlessly green.
McCorkell said the City has reduced its water use, but flagship parks like Riverside and McArthur Island are watered and mowed regularly to build up the strength of the turf.
That effort helps with reducing pesticide use, he noted.
The cemeteries are kept green because the families of those buried there want that, he said.
Ortner then told McCorkell he was taking his comments personally and just explaining the status quo instead of being open to change.
Coun. Arjun Singh said different people have different ideas and values about what’s important.
McCorkell said the City let the Aberdeen dog park go brown and it wasn’t well received.
Carman-Anne Schulz said people need to be educated about conserving water and rethink their usage.
City finance director Sally Edwards said the meetings are to help council determine budget priorities and whether to maintain the same level of services.
Some of the challenges council faces with the 2014 budget are the reduction in taxes coming from Domtar because of the A line shutdown, negotiations with its unionized workers, a push from heavy industry to have its share of taxes reduced, contract increases with the RCMP and transit and aging infrastructure.
Another budget consultation is slated for Monday at the McArthur Island Sport Centre lounge for 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. There will be another public session on Feb. 25 to talk about supplemental budget items.