Councillor has some Ideas to ponder
As Kamloops council gears up for several rounds of budget consultations in the coming months, one councillor is planning his own gathering with a different flair.
On Saturday, Jan. 12, Coun. Arjun Singh will host the Kamloops Ideas Festival, a mixture of presentations, performances and public discussions on community issues.
"Part of what I like to do as a council member is get out and talk to folks," said Singh, who embarked on a series of coffee-shop, online-video and door-to-door chats last summer.
"Getting a large group of people together and asking them about city issues helps me get a sense of which way that should be going," he said.
"The other thing is, it's kind of amazing what goes on in Kamloops and a lot of people just don't have a chance to get a broad overview."
To get people up to speed, Singh is inviting social agencies and members of the city's business and cultural communities to give short (about three minutes in length) talks on their plans and projects for the year.
Participants will also split into groups to discuss two to four major Kamloops issues — one of which Singh hopes will be transportation.
"Obviously over the holidays we had some pretty nasty pedestrian accidents and I'd like to get people's thoughts on what we, the community, can do to make that better," he said.
"Most people are prowling around the community on a semi-regular basis, so you can get some feedback as to what's working, what's not working there."
While he said he is hoping to steer the discussion away from "dogs and Ajax," Singh suspects some of those topics will sneak their way into the discussion.
But, should the proposed copper and gold mine end up on the agenda, he is hoping participants will feel encouraged to take a constructive approach to the debate.
"In a good public engagement, no idea is shut down," Singh said. "If people hear things that are challenging from other folks, they try to explore those things and ask questions about those, as opposed to saying, 'You're wrong.'"
Along with the discussions, Singh is also planning a volunteer fair and performances by local musicians.
"We'll have some muffins and some danishes and some coffee. We're going to have a very nice hall and we're going to have music and we may have some art displayed. It's a different kind of public meeting," he said.
"It's a lot more welcoming to everybody."
The Jan. 12 Kamloops Ideas Festival runs from 9 a.m. to noon at the Irving Barber Centre at Thompson Rivers University. Pre-registration is required. For more information and to sign up, go online to kamloopsideafest.com.