Interior mayors write letters to the one person who just might be able to deliver their full wish lists.
As you have likely read in The Orca throughout the year, 2019 has been another year of highs and lows for many Interior B.C. communities. While you and your elves have no doubt been hard at work getting ready for your upcoming world tour, Interior cities have struggled with a number of ongoing concerns related to things like municipal taxes, the ongoing opioid crisis and the forestry downturn.
We realize that some of their wish lists are lengthy…but you’re Santa! We know you’ll understand.
Ken Christian, Mayor of Kamloops:
-Improved health facilities: “I want to see us continue with the new Royal Inland Hospital patient care tower project.”
-Education: “I want to see construction begin on a new Valleyview Secondary School and to get the planning underway to replace the burned out Parkcrest Elementary School.
-Artistic Expression: “I would like a successful result in the spring referendum to approve a new downtown performing arts centre.”
-TMX Twinning: “I want to see the start of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project in Kamloops to help make the transport of oil safer.”
-Development: “I’m wanting to see strong growth in tourism and building activity.”
-Social Services: “I really want to see some lessening of pressures on social services and particularly on issues surrounding the opioid crisis.”
-Hockey: Mayor Christian hopes Santa might help the Kamloops Blazers…especially against the Kelowna Rockets and Prince George Cougars.
Lee Pratt, Mayor of Cranbrook:
-Hockey. Mayor Pratt continues to lament the loss of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice after the team moved to Winnipeg last spring. “It certainly wasn’t a positive for us, but fortunately we’ve been able to acquire another franchise. It’s not in the Western Hockey League but the BC Hockey League which is still a very good brand of hockey.” The Cranbrook Bucks will begin play in the 2020-2021 season.
-Continued development of the former Tembec sawmill site: “My wish is we get a number of tenants or purchasers to locate there in order to create more jobs and tax revenue.”
-Local development: “I’d like to see a number of proposed housing developments come to fruition.”
-Forestry: “I’d like to see new industry in the city make more use of the forest surrounding Cranbrook while adding to the sustainability of the forest sector in the area.
Lyn Hall, Mayor of Prince George:
-Social Services: “We would certainly like to have some assistance when it comes to what we’re facing with the opioid crisis. This is far more than just a municipal issue and we need all levels of government at the table.”
-Forest industry support: “I’d like to see a new Canada-U.S. softwood trade agreement signed. Northern communities like Fort St. James and Mackenzie have especially suffered during the current downturn.”
-Infrastructure: “We’re anxious to see what the feds come up with after the election. Every community has aging infrastructure that we need to take care of.”
-Local growth: Mayor Hall hopes Santa can ensure continued strong development. The mayor notes that while work is currently underway on a new main firehall, construction will begin next spring on a $35 million community pool project.
-Prince George Cougars: Hall hopes Santa leaves a lump of coal for Kamloops mayor (and Blazers fan) Ken Christian.
Victor Cumming, Mayor of Vernon:
-Affordable housing: “Wouldn’t it be great if the government continued to help BC Housing develop more supportive housing for those in the bottom 1%!”
-Road construction: “There is talk of repaving Highway 97 through the middle of our city. My goodness, Santa…we’re hoping the province keeps its word.
-When nature calls: “Further improvements to our rail trail with new washrooms.”
-Wine time: “We are counting on Santa to deliver warm and dry weather next summer to assist the planting of a new vineyard in the Bella Vista Highlands.
-Future Development: “We’ve got a proposed cultural centre that we need to find a little extra money for. If Santa can convince the federal and provincial governments to loosen their wallets, we’d be very pleased.” (The proposed $40 million downtown cultural centre is to include a new Vernon museum, a new art gallery and performance space.)
Colin Basran, Mayor of Kelowna:
-Social Services: “I would like Santa to bring help from the federal and provincial governments to support residents of our community who face hardships related to mental health, addiction, fetal alcohol syndrome and brain injuries. We need to help these people get off the streets and into supportive environments.”
-Environment: “I wish for people to recognize that climate change is real. There is no denying the science. We all need to live differently and be open to changing our behavior and thoughts around climate change.”
-Economic growth: “I want Kelowna to continue to be a place where diversity and inclusion is celebrated in order to attract people from all walks of life.”
-Hockey: “I need Santa to advise mayors Christian and Hall that our Kelowna Rockets have already qualified for the Memorial Cup!”
Bob Price is a veteran B.C. broadcaster who anchored the morning news on CHNL radio in Kamloops for the past 30 years. Bob is also a past Webster Award winner whose previous stops included Vancouver and Calgary.