Singh appointed Deputy Mayor, Spina to resign from Kamloops Council

By James Peters / Chad Harris
May 16, 2017 - 1:00pm Updated: May 30, 2017 - 3:42pm

KAMLOOPS — The immediate future of Kamloops council has come into better focus, but the long term future is still unclear.

Councillor Arjun Singh was unanimously appointed deputy mayor at today's meeting, but how long he will serve in that role depends on a number of factors.

WATCH: Full report by Jill Sperling

Singh will lead council in the absence of Peter Milobar, who has taken an extended, unpaid leave after he was elected to the provincial legislature last week.

It was Milobar's preference to avoid a by-election to fill his spot, but that may be in the works anyway.

Councillor Marg Spina attended this afternoon's meeting, her first since taking medical leave in January, and confirmed her intention to resign from her council post.

Spina is fighting breast cancer, and says the fight won't allow her to carry on.

"I'm happy to support a deputy mayor, but I do want to say that I will be stepping down because my cancer is not curable. I feel the public would be better served by someone who could be at every meeting, rather than myself," said Spina.

Spina's resignation, if it takes place before the end of 2017, would lead to a by-election.

Several councillors supported that course of action, including Ken Christian, who said council is beginning to operate with a 'short bench.'

"I don't want us to get to the point where we have developers deciding when they might want to come before council depending on who is going to be a part of the roster on any given day. I don't think, in my mind anyway, that it serves the democratic principle very well to operate short-staffed," said Christian.

But others, including Councillor Denis Walsh, asked Spina to reconsider triggering a by-election.

"There are other cities that do it different ways, and I think we should be looking into that. It's not fear mongering but it is definitely putting it out there, something that is not a fact (that Kamloops must have eight councillors and a mayor). Cities can run perfectly well with six councillors and one mayor, and there are cities that are proving that every day," said Walsh. 

Initially, Spina had expressed her preference to tender her resignation by the end of June, but later said she will reconsider before making a final decision.

She did stand firm in her decision to step down from her post.

"I believe that we are at a crossroads in this city. We are at 90,000 people, we have a $200 M budget, we need a vision for the future and we need passionate people to drive it forward. My concern is, penny rich, pound poor — you are looking at saving the pennies and the big picture is out there," added Spina.

The next municipal election is set for the fall of 2018.

RELATED VIDEO: Mayor Milobar to take leave of absence

Severe thunderstorm watch ended