By Steve Hubrecht

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The District of Invermere has been consulting local residents for the past few weeks about its proposed budget.

The budget (also gets referred to as the 2023-2027 five year-financial plan) got first reading at a recent council meeting, was the subject of an online survey through the first part of March, and was the subject of an open house last week.

Invermere mayor, Al Miller, explained so far there hasn’t been a lot of feedback, but he’s pleased with what input there has been.

“We didn’t have a huge turnout at the open house, but there were some good questions asked; it was positive,” said Miller.

The questions that did come related mostly to funding and infrastructure, and also to the lighting fixture and projectors upgrades for the Columbia Valley Centre, he explained.

“I think it (the lighting and projector) got a bit of attention because it is not normal for a community of our size to have that as a priority. But for us, it is important,” said Miller. “The Columbia Valley Centre is an event amenity. We want to have a top-notch facility to attract events. The centre was made for that.”

Miller was also quick to point out that the nonprofit Invermere Film Festival did some significant fundraising for the lighting and projector upgrades “so it is not all on the back of taxpayers”.

Another budget that’s had tongues wagging are the district’s many potholes and the state of paving around the community. Miller said this is something the district hears complaints about all the time.

“We’re going to fix some pieces this year and we’ll do some more next year, and some more the year after that. We won’t get it all done this year, but we need to at least start this year. And we are doing that,” he said.

Some of the operational budget items of note for 2023 include the sewer parcel tax that will be used to pay back the $1.5 million Invermere borrowed for phase two of the water and sewer upgrades on 13th Avenue; a new district development coordinator position; a new utility coordinator position and; a new part-time facilities clerk position. Capital projects of interest in the budget include the aforementioned paving and pothole work; the Athalmer destination trail (which will be funded mostly through grants); the planned 4th Avenue trail in Athlamer (also funded mostly through grants); design work for Lakeside Park; re-design and geotechnical work of the Fort Point Bridge over the rail tracks; a new traffic circle at the intersection of 7th Avenue (Invermere’s main street) and 4th Street; the long-awaited Abel Creek culvert at Johnston Road; and new washroom facilities at the Columbia River access point north of the Athalmer Bridge. There’s also an electronic sign, exterior coloured lighting, and a mobile stage for the Columbia Valley Centre; an outdoor commercial light-up Christmas tree at the Cenotaph plaza; and tennis court resurfacing; a tennis court practice wall; pickleball courts; and a back stop for the Pynelogs Rotary Ball Park, Field of Dreams.