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March 2005
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May 2005

The Waterfront Hotel / Convention Centre in Kamloops

After a 5 hour marathon public hearing this past Tuesday, Kamloops city council voted  to rezone  much of the area between Sportmart place and the Thompson riverbank.  On this very choice and coveted piece of land, the rezoning paves the way for the construction of a waterfront hotel and convention centre.

I stayed through the entire hearing, listening to about 55 different people express  both opposition and support for the rezoning and  then watching Council debate and vote. Some might call me a masochist but I really enjoyed the experience.

First, over 400 people attended the hearing - a very strong showing. Second, all the presentations gave me the opportunity to figure out my stance on the issue. I arrived at the hearing mildly in support of the rezoning but, in the end, I was opposed. Quickly my reasoning was: if we lose this opportunity for a convention centre / hotel, I think entrepreneurs could soon find another opportunity to revitalize downtown Kamloops. However, once we build a convention centre / hotel, we have pretty well permanently lost the opportunity to expand Kamloops' premier park. I guess I looked at this one in terms of relative flexibility.

Now, however, the hotel convention centre plan is moving ahead. City Council is on the hotseat to make sure this project will work for the greater good of all citizens. And I am going to support them in their efforts to make it work. How they deal with the miriad of concerns about this development will be a large determinant of how they are measured in the years to come.


BC - STV One Pager...

May 17th is getting closer and for British Columbians, this election day is also going to be a referendum day. We are going to be asked if we support the changes to our voting system proposed by the Citizen's Assembly on Electoral Reform. This has been quite a magnificent process but the last steps might been seen to have faltered a little. The Citizen's Assembly is proposing that BC change its voting system to one based on what is called the Single Transferable Vote system (STV).

STV is not an easy system to fully get your head around. And we need to educate ourselves as to its benefits and problems. The government has not done a great job with this in my view.

So here for your viewing pleasure and feedback is Arjun's one pager on BC STV:


Why are we being asked to vote on this proposed change to our voting system?

In 2004, the BC government set up a body called the Citizen's Assembly on Electoral Reform. The Assembly was made up of 160 BC citizens, broadly representative of the province's overall population,  and its goal was to examine our current voting system and propose   any changes  they felt could improve the system. The Assembly decided to propose that the citizens of BC change our voting system to a system called the BC Single Transferable vote – or BC-STV for short.

 

What is BC – STV? How is it different from our current voting system?

With our current voting system, BC is divided into 79 electoral ridings which each elect one representative each to Victoria. When we vote, we make a mark (often an X) besides the name of one candidate.

 

With BC-STV, BC would be divided into a smaller number of electoral ridings which would each elect more than one representative to Victoria. There would be the same number representatives elected (79) and each riding would have between 2 and 7 representatives.  The ridings would be geographically larger. When we vote, instead of voting for just one person, we would be given the opportunity to rank the candidates in order of preference. We can rank as many, or as few candidates, as we want.

 

The argument for BC-STV

  • the number of seats a political party wins in the legislature will more closely reflect the party's percentage of the popular vote.

  • voters will have more choice of candidates for which to vote.

  • local representation maintained or even enhanced.  Now, there is more than one MLA  representing you.

 

The argument against BC- STV

  • the increased size of the ridings will make it harder for MLAs to adequately represent everyone.

  • votes in rural ridings might be said  to count less than votes in urban ridings. It might only take 15% of the vote to elect someone in Vancouver but it might take 30%  of the vote to elect someone in Prince George.

  •   with more parties and more interests  represented in Victoria, it might be harder to get things done.

 

Update (April 7th 2005) - 3 Useful STV Web Sites


The Kamloops Blazers are Back on Track....

I must have been 4 or 5 years old when I went to my first junior hockey game in Kamloops. That was the era of the Kamloops Chiefs. My sister wanted to go as well but my parents, I think wisely, deemed her too young to know to get out of the way of a wayward puck - she was only 1 or 2 at the time. So, some of my early memories are of  my father and I sneaking out to watch the Kamloops Chiefs.

My father has remained a pretty faithful Kamloops hockey fan - rooting for all  the different teams that have represented the city and now for the Kamloops Blazers.

I am not such a faithful fan but saw the Blazers play last night.

Kamloops can be a hard town on it's hockey teams. With three Memorial Cup Championships less than a decade in the past, with names like Jerome Iginla, Scott Neidermeyer, and Darryl Sydor hanging from the arena rafters, fans have high - sometimes unrealistic  - unexpectations.

Last night, The Blazers got knocked out of the playoffs in the first round for the sixth time in six years. It was a rather ugly loss. But, this young team pushed one of the best, most seasoned  teams in the league to six games, when lots thought the Kootenay Ice would take them in 4 games. In short, they did not give up.

The 2004/5 Kamloops Blazers might not have shown many flashes of brilliance, but  they did show that they have a lot of pride. They displayed that sought after thing called CHARACTER. And that is what is going to make them winners very soon again.

Congratulations to all the guys on the team. You did Kamloops proud.

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