The political leaders in the Columbia Valley attended a political forum for the business community on January 5th. The event, hosted by the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce at Invermeres Lions Club, had each leader recap the past year and speak about upcoming projects in 2011, which is also an election year. Here are the highlights.
Wilmer: Currently the water system is run by Wilmer Waterworks Improvement District. Engineers are assessing the state of the water system for potential upgrades to ensure it meets the Regional District of East Kootenay regulations. Once suggestions and costs estimates are received, the improvement district will choose how to move forward.
Dry Gulch: Dry Gulch has smaller or single water services. Kinbasket Water and Sewer and Windermere Water and Sewer signed a cooperative servicing agreement to provide water for the area. Kinbasket is currently working with P3 Canada to improve the water system. The Regional District supports this initiative, which may open up development between Radium and the Invermere cross roads.
Edgewater: The community wants a town square with small businesses, a realty centre and a meeting place such as a coffee shop. Mr. Wilkie hopes it will have a If you build it, they will come effect.
Area G: Mr. Wilkie would like to see a back country recreation plan for the Columbia Valley. Its the only area in the East Kootenays without one.
In the past 12 months, Radium residents dealt with the after effects of the closure of the Canfor Mill. Mill workers, whose employment insurance has now run out, are still unsure of their and the mills future. Radium is losing families as they move away and Mayor Conklin hopes to work to stimulate the local economy.
2010 saw the end of a contract with the RCMP to have an officer stationed in Radium. It proved difficult to have police presence in Radium all the time. The village wanted community policing, but didnt get what they had hoped for, so ended the contract after eight months. The Village must now decide what to do next in this regard. Possible solutions include citizens on patrol or private security.
Radium completed a new, $1.6 million fire hall. On the opening day, the fire department signed up three new recruits. Council now wants to expand the municipal offices so council can have a proper meeting room.
In 2011, the municipality will introduce bear-proof garbage receptacles. In 2010, bears moved into Radium because berries in the valley didnt ripen. Five bears had to be put down by a conservation officer after they became habituated to living in urban areas.
2010 completed projects included: the opening of Pothole Park and sidewalks and pathways added, both in and out of town.
The District of Invermere worked with Wildsight to create a local climate change act and green house gas emissions plan.
Invermere became a solar community in 2010. The municipality has encouraged homes to change to solar hot water heaters, and now must add solar panels to municipal buildings. The district will change the official community plan to upgrade 10 per cent of homes to solar hot water heaters by 2020.
Each year the district collects tax revenue from its resorts. A portion of the room tax goes towards tourism infrastructure around town. A portion of this years money was put into the free shuttle bus to Panorama Mountain Village, and the rest will go towards year-round washrooms for Kinsmen Park.
For 2011, the district is working on an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan, which will guide the focus of the community for the next 20 years. The municipality will hold a community session on January 15th. A draft plan should be completed by April.
In 2010, the regional district completed water and sewer projects for Baltac community and Timber Ridge, which now has water meters and treated water, as does Rushmere on Westside Road.
In November, the district held a meeting to get feedback from the public about whether to move Windermere to treated water that meets Interior Health standards. The choices have been narrowed down to purchasing bulk treated water from a private company or building a stand-alone water plant. In February 2011, the RDEK will host a town hall meeting in Windermere to report back information and inform the residents on the next step. The community will vote on the change. Once voted on, the decision will need the approval of the RDEK.
In 2010 the local conservation fund approved eight projects for a total under $84,000. The projects included northern leopard frog reintroduction, the invasive plants neighborhood program and the Restoration of Fairmont Reach.
A big project for 2011 is the Lake Windermere Management Plan, which it is hoped will be adopted in February. The RDEK hosted an open house on January 13th, to gather final comments from the public. If passed, the next step will involve water zoning, similar to that done with Columbia Lake.
The municipality has gained ownership of the Canal Flats Provincial Park, after the transfer was finalized in December 2010.
In 2010, Canal Flats council entered into a five-year renewable lease-to-purchase agreement for a new fire tanker/pumper. Currently the town has a small fire truck and an old milk truck, which doesnt work for larger fires. The new truck will cost just over $250,000 and should arrive in late 2011.
In October 2009, Canal Flats held a staff retreat where they created a three to five year strategic plan. The current version for 2011 includes a climate change policy and reduction of green house gas emissions. Since that is now mandated by the province, the community is right on schedule.
A significant project for Canal Flats in 2011 is the new municipal building, which was donated by Mike Vernon at Painted Ridge. It is a large log home and will be located across from the fire hall. The building will house displays of arts and crafts, the visitor information centre and a multi-use facility. Watch the highways in February when the building will move to its new location.
Canal Flats expects reports from its two citizen advisory boards in 2011, the town beautification board and economic development board. The boards formed in 2009.