Civic parties have very short history in Kamloops

MEL ROTHENBURGER Editor / Kamloops Daily News
April 14, 2011 01:00 AM

There's an interesting listing in the April edition of Business Thompson Okanagan, a publication based in Kelowna. It goes like this:

KAMLOOPS - 100 Lorne St. (institutional new), Lorne Street parking parkade.

OWNER - City of Kamloops, Purchasing, 7W Victoria St., Kamloops V2C 1A2, 250-828-3503.

DESIGNER - Stantec Architecture, 300-175 2 ndAve., Kamloops, V2C 5W1, 250-374-0311.

PROJECT - New three storey parkade, 450 parking stalls, concrete construction, upgrades to Lorne St., sidewalks, landscaping, traffic improvements.

STAGE - Design, preliminary design underway, construction start anticipated 2012.

Several calls to the City on Wednesday, as well as the publication and the Southern Interior Construction Association brought no clarification as to how the listing came about.

Since it was published before City council even approved a public-input process for the project, it does seem a little odd.

If this project really is just in the talking stages, with no decisions made, why would it be publicized in a trade publication with an expected start of construction already established?

It's in question whether the insertion was even authorized by anyone at City Hall. Tammy Campbell, who would normally look after such things for the City, was flummoxed.

"I can't imagine anyone from the City providing that information," she said, adding that it sounded like "misinformation."

"I have no idea," said engineer Dave Trawin.

"Bizarre," said finance director Sally Edwards.

Meanwhile, the parkade seems to have been the genesis for an upstart civic-action group that may or may not result in a slate of candidates in this November's civic election.

While the Kamloops Voters Society is ostensibly about accountability on all civic issues, the parkade is obviously a key motivator.

A public meeting has been called for tonight at 7 in the Rivers Room, Interior Savings Centre to talk things over.

Voters groups, especially slates, have a short history in this city. The last, and only previous, time such a group got together was when Phil Gaglardi led Action Team '88 into City Hall.

The issues were very different back then. The city was emerging from a deep recession, and getting the economy moving again was the order of the day.

Action Team '88 - the only group running a slate - swept most of the seats. With Gaglardi were Ron Watson, Bill Walton, Shirley Culver and Randy Black. Incumbent mayor John Dormer went down to defeat.

Theoretically, since they had a majority on council, they should have been able to control the agenda and move things along quickly according to their policies.

The first sign of trouble came a couple of months into the term when Gaglardi tried to cut the number of public meetings to two per month. The former B.C. cabinet minister was more used to jetting all over the province looking at highways than he was sitting in meetings, where he clearly chafed with impatience.

But cutting public meetings in half meant cutting transparency, and several councillors (they were aldermen back then) balked. Gaglardi withdrew his proposal, and it was the start of a split within the Action Team '88 ranks.

It was soon obvious they couldn't get along any better than anyone else, and the concept fell apart.

Political parties work in Vancouver, but not in a smaller centre like Kamloops. Those behind the creation of the Kamloops Voters Society - I have great respect for instigator Chris Ortner - deserve encouragement, but they should tred very carefully with any temptation to run candidates under their banner.

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