City council agenda for 2013 is full and diverse

'It's a critical project for the whole region, really,' Milobar says of RIH expansion

Michele Young / Kamloops Daily News
January 4, 2013 01:00 AM

Peter Milobar

If City council members get their wishes for 2013, Kamloops taxpayers will have better downtown parking, fewer monster houses with illegal suites, improved transportation and communication and low taxes.

Those were some of the items on civic politicians' priority lists for the year that just began.

Mayor Peter Milobar said Thursday he'd like to see progress continue on Royal Inland Hospital's expansion.

"It's a critical project for the whole region, really," he said.

He also wants to see some decisions made on downtown parking.

"There are a couple of realistic and viable options and we'll see if they come forward," he said.

Also on the mayor's list is a proposed performing arts centre. Milobar has established an advisory committee to start looking at options.

The hospital and performing arts centre were also on Coun. Arjun Singh's list and he credited Milobar for his efforts on those projects in 2012.

He's also eager to hear from the community in the upcoming official community plan process and the public input on the City budget.

"It's important for us to use the process and use good principles to work with people in the community to engage those we represent and make decisions based on a wide community will."

Coun. Tina Lange was happy with the public engagement the City got last year during its budget process and she said she's looking forward to this year's open houses to hear from taxpayers.

She's also looking forward to KGHM/Ajax's answers to the City's questions about its proposed mine on the south end of town.

"That's going to be good for the community. A lot of people have been waiting for those answers," she said.

The self-professed council skinflint, Lange said she wants to see spending held in check during this year's budget process.

So does Coun. Marg Spina, who said she doesn't want to see a tax increase of more than three per cent.

"My top priority is to continue to keep taxes down by scrutinizing all expenditures in all departments," she said.

Money was also on Coun. Donovan Cavers's mind. He didn't succeed in getting council to hold a workshop on the City debt, but still held out hope that the financial load can be discussed.

"I'll be bringing it up through council meetings. Better to save up and at least pay for part of the principle of a large project up front and pay some interest than to do it all through loans," he said.

Transportation is another priority he'll be focusing on this year, particularly transit, cycling and pedestrian systems.

"We have a lot of projects completed, but they need to be promoted," he said.

Coun. Nancy Bepple also wants transit looked at, but her priority is HandyDart.

She said 10 per cent of HandyDart trips are made for kidney dialysis patients and that patient number keeps growing. So there will be an increasing pressure on HandyDart for more service,

Coun. Pat Wallace wants the City to work on a way of stopping people from building extra-large houses so they can put in illegal suites.

When those people get caught, they are charged double the fees for rezoning applications. But Wallace thinks that's too lenient.

"We should question why people are building 3,400 square foot houses and put on a covenant that they won't be putting in apartments," she said.

"Hit them with a $20,000 fine."

Those suites affect neighbours who didn't get a say on the issue, she said.

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