Armchair Mayor

By: Mel Rothenburger

Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). He continued to write columns for The Daily News until it ceased publication Jan. 11, 2014, and did regular commentary for CBC Radio.

There’s nothing wrong with downtown, except the parking

February 22, 2017 - 5:00am Updated: February 22, 2017 - 6:12pm

KAMLOOPS  — “The downtown core in Kamloops is going to hell in a handbasket. All the businesses are moving out and nobody wants to shop there anymore.”

That’s what you’d think, the way some people have been talking the past week or so. A bakery moves to a different part of town and a restaurant lays off some staff and, woe is me, the downtown is dying.

Not enough days in the week for B.C. Liberals to hand out good news

February 20, 2017 - 7:15am

KAMLOOPS — Holy Mackerel, by the time the election gets here in May, British Columbians will think they’ve died and gone to heaven.

As the days roll by, the money just keeps rolling in.

Have you been paying attention to how many checks the B.C. Liberals have been writing? There’s $150-million for tree planting. The Ministry of Agriculture gets a $2-million budget lift to invest in the Buy Local program.

The next time you worry about immigrants, spit into a tube

February 18, 2017 - 5:00am

KAMLOOPS — I spit into a plastic tube a few weeks ago and popped it in the mail. This week, I got the results and the verdict is in — I am a classic universal Canadian.

DNA testing for ethnic origins is popular these days, and discovering who you are and where you came from is fun stuff. What I found out has made me think about the conversation involving immigrants.

I already knew my great-grandparents on my father’s side emigrated from Germany to the Ukraine. My grandparents emigrated from there to Canada, where they began a new life in a dirt-floor cabin on the Prairies.

There were so many more Dave and Morley stories to tell

February 16, 2017 - 10:02am

KAMLOOPS — We have lost a great Canadian story teller but we have his stories to keep the memory of him fresh, forever.

I’m talking, of course, about Stuart McLean, the man who became a part of our Sundays, every Sunday, with his Vinyl Café. A little music, a really good story, and always time for stories from readers, too.

When he was on the road, he had a unique and insightful way of describing the town that was hosting him, poking a little fun but always complimentary and capturing the essence of the place.

Throne Speech masterfully vague, yet clear on key message

February 15, 2017 - 5:00am

KAMLOOPS — Throne Speeches are always vague (governments preferring to keep the good stuff for budgets) but the one delivered Tuesday in Victoria was masterfully done — so bereft of specifics yet so clear in its key messages.

Most of it was spent praising what the Liberals have already done for us on jobs, healthcare, education and so on.

There was mention of external “risks,” especially a weak global economy and expanding protectionism. In other words, now wouldn’t be a good time to think about changing governments.

Will community be willing to invest in a new use for Stuart Wood?

February 10, 2017 - 2:39pm Updated: February 10, 2017 - 6:37pm

KAMLOOPS — Stuart Wood School is a good place for a museum. It would have been a good place for other things, too, but a museum is within the community’s reach when it comes to public spaces.

There are those who will object, and already have, to the cost of renovating the grand old building for a museum, just as they worried about what the cost would have been to renovate it and keep it as a school. They would prefer it be torn down because they believe that, of all the options, it would be the cheapest. And anything that saves taxes must be a good thing.

Daredevil drivers and windrow warriors will never change

February 8, 2017 - 5:00am

KAMLOOPS — This is kind of a rhetorical question, but will Kamloops drivers ever smarten up?

One would think they might get the big picture with the return of winter we had a few days ago, wouldn't you?

But, it seems, different conditions don't produce different drivers. The speeders, the red-light runners, the in-and-out lane dodgers, the tailgaters all carry on in the worst possible road conditions as if we live in a land where the sun always shines and the roads are always bare.

Urban growth isn't all it's cracked up to be

February 4, 2017 - 9:00am

KAMLOOPS — As you’re driving around, do you ever wonder about the massive infrastructure needed to meet the demands of the First World lifestyle to which we’ve become accustomed?

When will we have enough big-box stores, coffee shops and drive-through restaurants? Is there a quota?

I think about it sometimes. So does Bill Bryson. I’ve been reading his book The Road to Little Dribbling. Bryson is an American-born British citizen probably best known on this side of the pond for a movie based on another of his books, A Walk in the Woods, starring Robert Redford.

Trudeau was right to cancel plans for electoral reform

February 2, 2017 - 8:27am

KAMLOOPS — You’d think, by the way the Opposition is talking, that an election promise had never been broken before Wednesday.

Sometimes, election promises are broken for no good reason; at other times, breaking a promise is justified. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged during the last election campaign that it would the last under the first-past-the-post system. Yesterday, he changed his mind.