Just some quick thought from Febuary 8ths public forum:

All taxpayers want their cake, icing, decorations, and eat it to. The predominant three issues raised at the “budget” meeting we’re this:

Public Access to the governmental process

Freezing or Reducing Bus Fares

Anti Riverside Parkade Sentiment

I pity Mayor Milobar in this situation–faced with balancing a tight budget, I imagine he was hoping for some constructive ideas from the public at large. Clearly the public wants to save money by not building the proposed Riverside Parkade–however Milobar addressed this issue a number of times: This is a budget meeting, and the parkade is not on this years budget. Clearly an hour of repetition by the population did little to shed light on the budget challenges. In addition, the freezing or reduction of transit fares does little to help the public deficit.

I am certainly opposed to raising transit fares, and vehemently opposed to further parking structures downtown. I wish to raise a couple of points of mis-information about the parking structure however. It is intended to be almost entirely underground, essentially being invisible to the current green space. Whether the structure services the hotel or not–Milobar made the point that ample parking is being made available by the hotel– it is not on this years budget, and therefore was a bit of a waste of time at this particular meeting.

This brings me to my favorite of the public forum topics, public participation in government. Clearly Urban Planning is one of the most important issues to the population. Forums of some kind are held nearly monthly on this subject. I have been to them and provided feedback. Perhaps they need to be advertised more aggressively?

The first speaker of the night also addressed the issue that the budget figures are essentially made available to the public only moments before they are asked to address them. This is clearly a failure on the part of the city, and helps to make the forum redundant.

As far as I am concerned, all the problems with affordability: As a homeowner complaining of property tax increases; or as a city, trying to find ways to fund parks, policing, roads, transit, public service departments, utilities, etc. ————- The cause is the same, a sprawling system financed by cheap credit. We all wanted to be ahead, collectively and individually, and many of us are in homes consuming resources that we can’t maintain, and most importantly, in mortgages that we can only afford if: we keep getting raises at inflation or much better; our property values keep climbing; our population keeps growing; oil prices freeze; our watershed is maintained; etc. Most of these assumptions are preposterous. Hence water meters.

I am not arguing for austerity, I am simply campaigning for a completely new frame of mind, and a huge revision of what we expect as luxuries. I believe that the only way out of this is publicising (as in making public) what we’re traditionally public goods in the first place, so that we can all benefit by pooling our capital. At that point I believe the next step is Public Private Partnerships, creating profit driven organizations that run parallelly to the citizens (not consumers) needs, not exclusively to the needs of foreign shareholders. I believe that now is a oppurtunity for Kamloops, as a small city it does not have great inertia to overcome. It is a case of political will. With November elections looming, the population is really going to get a chance to speak, and hopefully we will speak not just for ourselves, but for all of us.