Kamloops mayor's economic task force presents report

Mayor's task force report in

City of Kamloops staff and administration have some new guidance with the newly published Mayor's Task Force on Economic Recovery and Renewal Report.

The task force was struck in the spring at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic; Mayor Ken Christian created the group in order to look at the economic situation in Kamloops and help garner ideas about how to move forward.

The finished report was presented to council on Tuesday(Sept. 15). Recommendations came under six broad categories: 

  • Promote Kamloops and area as a safe and friendly destination for work and play
  • Re-envision the use of open spaces in the public realm
  • Encourage new sustainable and accessible activities and infrastructure
  • Provide support and infrastructure for business
  • Provide support to foster the community
  • Review City of Kamloops processes and services to improve efficiencies and align priorities

Specific recommendations include creating more pedestrian-only areas, creating more local food production and looking at bulk purchasing of health and safety items for organizations throughout the community.

Christian notes some of the recommendations are already in place, like allowing patio expansions for restaurants.

"Is it perfect? No. Will it solve the problem? No," he says. "But hopefully it well help."

He notes that one of the ongoing debates will be government's role in economic recovery and taxation.

"There’s two schools of thought; one is… you use government to be a stimulus for the local economy," Christian explains. "Other schools of thought say that the taxpayers that are supporting government are already hurting and they can’t afford anymore."

No matter what the city decides to do, he expects some people will be unhappy. Christian uses the example of running recreation facilities, which the city subsidizes. Either the city can shut down arenas and other facilities and save money or raise taxes to cover the costs.

"It’s where do you want to take that hit," he says.

He notes it's a particularly difficult time for local leadership, both in the public realm and private sector.

While some of the recommendations appear to be common-sense options, he says the group found some useful surprises.

"There were some surprises, like the recommendation in there about cycling infrastructure and making Kamloops really a destination cycling spot," he tells Castanet. "We didn’t recognize at the beginning of this that cycling would take off the way it has."

"It has taken off and we have a good head start in terms of our cycling infrastructure, so lets jump on that bandwagon and run with that as much as we possibly can," Christian continues.

The fact safety features in retail shops has become a selling point for customers was also unexpected, the mayor notes.

"When you go to places that you’re not feeling comfortable in, people turn tail and leave."

To read the full report, click here.

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