Kamloops council becoming more and more polarized

Two & Out
By James Peters
January 15, 2016 - 5:55pm

KAMLOOPS — For the last decade or more, Kamloops has prided itself on having a cohesive city council; one whose members learn the principles of good municipal leadership, and work together to that end.

It seems this present council may be trying to unravel that working model bit by bit, vote by vote. 

The latest indication is a vote this week to allow delegations to present on the Ajax project once again. 

It's one bound to create headaches not only due to the inevitable repetition of unfounded rhetoric both supporting and opposing the project, but also due to how that rhetoric will only serve to reinforce previously-held ideological positions, or be completely ignored. 

But there are other indications this council is becoming dysfunctional. 

Take for example the number of 5-4 votes this council has made during its already short term. 

The decision on allowing Ajax delegations was one. 

The decision on supporting wine in grocery stores was another, which then flipped 5-4 the other way. 

The decision on banning pesticide use on residential property was yet another, followed by a 5-4 vote to hold the city's operation to the same standard. 

A few close votes don't necessarily represent trouble, as there are bound to be a diversity of viewpoints on council. 

But a pattern of 5-4 votes represents a split on council, and one that suggests some councillors feel it is their job to advance ideological positions rather than find a common ground. 

In the coming months, you can expect council will now be dominated with the discussion of Ajax, a project with which the council does not hold a decision-making sway. 

It will be a great challenge for this council to hold together under the pressure that comes along with one of the most divisive issues this community has ever seen.