I had a awesome summer job this year. I was your Mayor. Actually, I will serve as acting Mayor until mid October when the new Mayor and Councillors, elected in the Sept 30th by-election, are sworn in.
I’m humbled my council colleagues asked me to take on this caretaker role and very thankful for their support and the support of city staff. It’s been a very interesting summer.
I was in Ottawa at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference on June 1st, my first day as the full time acting Mayor. One interesting takeaway was the Prime Minister’s announcement of Smart Cities challenge.
Full details are still to come but I am hoping Kamloops will compete for a $10 million dollar prize that will showcase our amazing local innovation, technology and ideas.
June was also a month of significant anniversaries. The weekly Pit Stop community dinner for people experiencing the effects of poverty celebrated 20 years of service. Our local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion celebrated an incredible 90 years.
In July, after more than six years of review, City Council took a position opposing the Ajax Mine proposal. The vote was 5-1. It would have been 6-1 if former Councillor Ken Christian had not resigned before the vote to run for Mayor.
The vote, in my view, reflects council’s overall assessment that this specific mine proposal presents a substantial risk of negative impact to the health and economic wellbring of Kamloops citizens.
Council supports economic development in many different ways. I hope those who support and those who oppose Ajax might be able to unite behind other big projects in the community. Ajax is decidely not the only egg in our basket.
July was also the start of a very bad wildfire season. On July 8th, we had the most fire starts on one day in recorded history. Starting with Cache Creek, Kamloops hosted people from many communities who were evacuated from their homes.
I have never been more proud to represent Kamloops than during our time as an evacuation centre. Kamloopsians stepped up in so many different ways. Our already incredible formal emergency support services staff and volunteers were supplemented with so many new volunteers.
In fact, one of the biggest challenges during the peak of the wildfires was trying to coordinate all the offers of support and assistance. I was very proud to talk of the generosity of Kamloopsians in local, provincial, and national media interviews.
In late July and into August, we got hit with smoke from the Elephant Hill fire to our northwest and our air quality was compromised. Going on the BC Air Quality Health Index website and seeing Kamloops having the worst air quality in the province was not fun.
Later in August, we have been working to bring down a spike in negative impacts from street drug use. There have, for example, been a large increase in the number of discarded needles left in public spaces.
We need to do better in supporting people living with serious addictions. And we also need to reduce the negative impacts of their behaviours on others.
Thus, in the past ten years, the city has encouraged a coordinated, holistic approach to these social issues. This spike in impacts can sometimes strain our coordinated work, as different stakeholders start getting pressure to just do something. The coordinated approach, however, is the key to lasting success.