To quote Glen Searle from the publication, City Spaces Tourist Places, “Should [community] development be a top-down process in which some groups in society decide what is appropriate for others, or should it be a bottom-up design where planning occurs in the community?”

From my experience it is clear that there is latent demand for non-car alternatives. The current built environment of Kamloops does not support any alternatives in a manner which is effective. Peter Mutrie of NSBIA understands this when he writes in Kamloops Business Magazine (Jan/Feb 2011), “this shift comes from shifting consumer expectation and rising oil prices”. The phenomenon of walkable communities is not unique to Kamloops, in fact it has gained popularity even in the most monolithic of auto-centric communities such as Los Angeles, CA; Dallas, TX and most importantly, Edmonton and Calgary, AB. Is this a result of Top-Down or Bottom-Up investment?

I would argue that despite the cities many forums regarding Urban Planning; despite our democratic society; despite our private property laws (allowing us to do what we want on our own land); despite this generations collective sense of entitlement; despite all this, I believe that Urban Planning, in other words the public space which contains our lives, it is a select few who are making the decision for the rest of us, meaning Top-Down. Like Alvin Toffler, I believe that our institutions are inherently unable to deal with the pace of change that this soceital shift is taking place. This is not an argument for Communism, it is just a re-vamp of mainstream economic theory to involve democracy in a more real-time way, different from voting between a handful of candidates; which may or may not completely reflect your views. (I do have ideas about government and education reform, but those will be discussed in the future separately.)

You may not see this coming from someone relatively left-leaning, like myself, but I believe the answer to all the problems that current capitalism, big government bureaucracy, and multi-national corporate externalities is: capitalism. I believe that on a local scale an organization–for profit– needs to be created. Let’s call it Stronger Kamloops Development Corporation. Stronger Kamloops will be a Public Private Partnership. It will be capitalized through a mix of shares and bonds sold to: municipal government, provincial government, school district 73, local pension funds, local business, Community Futures Bank, BDC, Interior Savings Bank and most importantly to citizens at large. Restrictions would need to be in place to reflect ideaologies of social equality. Hopefully this will capitalize to tens of millions of dollars. What will Stronger Kamloops Development Corporation do?

Buy medium interest bonds in start-ups and expanding local business enterprises. Not just buy, but actively search for prospective investments which meet the criteria of future sustainability. One path to success would be social networking events on  TRU campus, providing capital for International and Domestic students alike to build their dreams here in Kamloops. In partnership with Venture Kamloops, the great opportunities in this city could be presented, creating inspiration. We could harness the great power that this city is producing, and rocket Kamloops ahead of Prince George, Kelowna, Vernon, Pentiction; even Victoria and competitors globally.

This quasi-governmental organization would be a capitalist way to re-invest in our community. Municipal government in its current capacity is necessary, and it operates many necessary amenities which will never turn a profit. Alternatively this form of Public Private Partnership, Stronger Kamloops Development Corporation, will provide creative opportunity for those with passion and vision to truly affect change and create place in Kamloops. The multi-stakeholder approach will provide for companies who seek profit, but strictly for the mutual benefit of society. The corporation would act as a self guiding (invisible hand) regulatory system for the Kamloops small business market, rising all boats when a couple get ahead, while providing incentive for the ego-centric to reinvest in public goods.

Disclaimer: This is a broad outline of such a scheme. At time of writing there is no such organization in creation, and none of the mentioned stakeholders have been contacted to this affect. There are flaws that will need to be exposed to make the organization strong. Stronger Kamloops, the blog, has no immediate intentions to ever become a large, quasi-governmental organization.