This has been a very busy year. Council started out by setting strategic goals with a focus on public works and services, community planning, communication and governance.
In the public works sector we completed the objectives of the road and side walk rehabilitation plan. We finished the upgrade to the Victory Hall and the Village Office. As a result, Fortis awarded us for energy efficiency. Accessible washrooms and playground equipment, plus the walkway beside the swimming pool were also completed. The liquid waste management plan is still being worked on and will be brought forward in 2013. Council is working closely with the Keremeos Irrigation District to ensure a safe and reliable water infrastructure and supply.
In the area of community planning the renewal of the official community plan is another big project that is slated for completion in 2013. We’re pleased to report that Community Living has moved into the basement of the Victory Hall, where Work Zone used to be.
Communication with our tax payers is very important to Council. Visits to the senior centre to provide updates about ongoing projects were appreciated.
Participating in community forums with the school district and other levels of government were another opportunity to connect with the general public. A citizen’s survey conducted this summer also gave us some insight into the priorities of our residents. Regular attendance at our chamber of commerce meetings, as well as individual visits with business owners, are part of our efforts to improve communication with the business community. A new village website is under construction and in the new year quarterly newsletters will be posted to the website to help keep our residents informed. Communicating community needs by regularly meeting with the RCMP is also a step in the right direction.
On the governance side we have streamlined and updated policies and are very close to finishing the asset management plan. The last budget kept the increase in municipal taxes at about $20 for the average household. The money was designated to go into road reserves for future upgrades. A two year contract with CUPE staff provides service stability, and the start of a core service review will give council a baseline for future planning.
As the municipal director for the RDOS I have come to realize the importance of regional collaboration. Library, Regional Hospital District, recreation centre, pool, fire department, garbage pick up, Keremeos District Landfill and Economic Development are just some of the shared services we enjoy by pulling our resources together. The Similkameen Valley Planning Society, which I presently chair, is also a great example of working together regionally. Members include the Town of Princeton, Regional District areas “H”, “B” “G” and the Upper and Lower Similkameen Indian Band. The SVP Society is currently working on a regional tourism strategy and a water plan for the Similkameen Valley.
I would like to thank staff, council and all those individuals and agencies who were involved in making 2012 a successful year. I look forward to working with all of you in 2013.