Community associations provide collective voice

Mel Rothenburger is the TNRD Director for Electoral Area P, including Whitecroft and Heffley Creek. He was the mayor of Kamloops from 1999-2005 and a former newspaper editor.

What good are community associations?

If anyone thinks they’re just about socializing, they’re mistaken. I attended the annual general meeting of the Heffley Lake Community Association (HLCA) on Aug. 5 and for two hours the executive presented reports on what the group has been doing for the past year.

And those reports could only provide an inkling of all the activity.

I’m always impressed with this association, as I am with others like it. In the case of Heffley Lake, committees monitor and make recommendations on a wide variety of issues, such as lake safety, development, crime prevention, water quality, zoning issues, cell phone service (or lack of it), logging activity, even postal service.

My very first experience with the HLCA was four years ago when it had a concern about how water levels were affecting the dam. The association has kept a close eye on the situation for years, and has found that spring freshets are steadily increasing the speed of runoff from the melting snowpack, which means a close eye has to be kept on the dam.

Since then, a great number of issues have come up and the association has been on the spot to seek answers, whether it be from local governments such as the TNRD and City of Kamloops, or provincial and federal.

So the answer to my admittedly provocative question is, a whole lot.

I’ve found that associations in various communities in Electoral Area P have different focuses based on their locations and lifestyles. For example, the Heffley Creek Community Recreation Association does a tremendous amount of work running the hall and holding community events. The Whitecroft Community Association wants to see a park and playground established and also works closely with the water society there.

The three associations make for a strong coalition of active citizens in the valley.

Several other community associations are very active in the electoral area. The Pritchard
Community Association is known for the tremendous rodeo it puts on every year, but it also
advocates for residents on a lot of other projects and issues such as road and pedestrian safety, utilities and supporting the park beside the Pritchard bridge.

In McLure, the McLure Volunteer Firefighters and Recreation Society not only governs the fire department, but is a true community association as the hall is the central gathering place.

And in Pinantan and Paul Lake, the community associations there are involved in community parks and playgrounds, liaise with their fire brigades and first responders and generally speak for residents on community concerns.

Rural fire brigades and departments, in those communities that have them, work in tandem
with the community associations, so the community network is strong.

Politicians hear from a lot of individuals, but the associations add a collective voice. They’re
invaluable points of contact and sources of information. While they have different local issues, the thing they have in common is that they all speak for the best interests of their communities.

The people who put their hands up and are willing to be part of the executives of these groups deserve credit for their community spirit, expertise and commitment.