Seven elected officials representing the City of Kamloops have been sworn in as directors on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board — one more representative than last term, due to the city’s growing population.
The city will also see an increase in its voting power on the TNRD board. It now holds a total of 31 votes under the regional district's weighted voting system, which hasn't been employed in recent memory but will be used in the future, TNRD officials say.
Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson and the six councillors who received the highest number of votes — Katie Neustaeter, Bill Sarai, Mike O’Reilly, Kelly Hall, Margot Middleton and Dale Bass — will represent the City of Kamloops on the TNRD board of directors.
Kamloops council voted to approve these appointments during Tuesday’s city council meeting. All TNRD directors were sworn in during the regional district’s inaugural board meeting on Thursday evening.
During Tuesday’s council meeting, City of Kamloops CAO David Trawin said Kamloops' population size means the city will have three more votes under the regional district’s weighted vote system, and one more representative on the board.
"The 2021 census results in additional TNRD director from the city for a total of seven directors and 31 votes,” Trawin said.
As per the TNRD letters patent — a legal document created by the province which establishes a framework for the regional district — a director can’t have more than five votes.
Trawin told council it would be impossible to distribute the city’s allocated 31 votes to six directors without exceeding the maximum of five votes per director, so a seventh representative is required.
He said any changes in the number of directors representing the City of Kamloops would require amendments to the TNRD letters patent.
Council voted 7-1 to approve the appointments. Coun. Dale Bass did not vote on the matter, citing a conflict of interest due to the fact she was the city’s seventh representative.
Coun. Nancy Bepple was opposed, saying she didn’t think the TNRD would be best served by another director representing the city as it is already a “powerhouse” on the board.
The city’s total voting strength of 31 votes are distributed among the city’s representatives on the board. As per council’s decision, Hamer-Jackson, Neustaeter, Sarai, O’Reilly and Hall will each have five votes, while Middleton and Bass will have three votes each.
Deanna Campbell, director of legislative services for the TNRD, said weighted voting hasn’t been used during her time at the regional district, and past board members can’t recall the system ever having been used.
However, Campbell said it will be used in the future.
“The more I looked into it, I realized that this is something that we should actually be using, because it's not optional,” Campbell said.
She said the City of Merritt and Electoral Areas P and L also have weighted votes, although the City of Kamloops has the most.
Campbell said weighted votes are mostly used when deciding on financial matters.
“The situations where they would use them would be financial, mostly. So the budget, for example, when the annual financial plan comes. Anything to do with borrowing, so loan authorization bylaws,” Campbell said.
Campbell said going forward, staff will identify on the agenda where a weighted vote will be used, and the use of weighted votes will also be reflected in the minutes.
“We want to try our best to make it as simple and transparent as possible for the board and for the public so they understand what's going on when they're watching the meetings,” Campbell said.