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Mayor Cook reflects on the ups and downs of 2013

Mayor Kerry Cook riding in the lakecity
Mayor Kerry Cook riding in the lakecity's Santa Claus Parade in November.
— image credit: Angie Mindus photo

As she looked back over 2013 and forward to 2014, Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook said she was encouraged.

“We’ve done lots of work and there is still more to do,” Cook said.

Crime continues to be a top priority of the city and Cook think it’s good news Williams Lake has been selected to work with the Blue Ribbon Panel.

There will be meetings in Williams Lake with the panel’s chair Dr. Darryl Placas in January.

A big capital project highlight for Cook was the South Lakeside Drive upgrade completed in the fall.

“It was a $2.5 million project achieved without longterm borrowing,” Cook added.

The city also completed the $1.2 million phase 5 of the River Valley storm sewer project. Williams Lake’s financial contribution totalled $170,000 thanks to the Gas Tax fund.

Building permits have increased, especially due to the announcements by West Fraser and Tolko of major capital investments in their Williams Lake operations.

“As of November 30, in 2013 we had building permits valuing $15.1 million,” Cook said. “It’s encouraging people are still willing to invest in Williams Lake.”

Another highlight was the St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School Commemoration Project and Orange Shirt Day.

“We were honoured to have Justice Murray Sinclair, Grand Chief Stewart Philip and National Chief Shawn Atleo as well as a great many chiefs from around our region attend,” Cook said.

School District 27 is tying the project all together by adding information about the residential school legacy to the curriculum, she said.

“If we want to break cycles it’s that education piece that is so important.”

Cook said the city is waiting to hear about its community forest partnership with the Williams Lake Indian Band, and hoping for a provincial award to proceed.

“I am proud to be working with Chief Anne Louie and the WLIB on a project of mutual benefit.”

In January the city’s bylaws allowing the keeping of hens and bees comes into effect in Jan. 1.

“Urban hen and beekeeping are a growing phenomena in cities across North America and many residents have expressed an interest keeping hens and or bees.”

Cook recalled the union city worker strike in February as a tough time for everyone, however, emerging with a four-year settlement between the city and its workers provided stability.

She said the same of the outcome for the fire protection agreement with the Cariboo Regional District.

“It was unfortunate there was a disagreement, but in the end we had a five-year deal.”

Cook had hoped there would be an announcement from Boitanio Mall about the retailer going into the spot vacated by Zellers last March, and said she looks forward to an announcement soon in the new year.

She is also hoping for a positive outcome for the Cariboo Memorial Hospital Plan.

“The request for proposals is supposed to be completed late spring, early summer,” Cook said. “That’s huge for our community.”

Williams Lake will be turning 85 as an incorporated city in March and celebrations are planned for February, March and May, she said.

“The birthday is actually in March, but we’re going to be trying to stretch it out through the whole year.”

Cook continues to praise the resiliency of Williams Lake and its citizens.

At the Child Development Centre’s annual Wish Breakfast she ran into a man who moved to Williams Lake four years ago who told her the community was amazing.

He’d researched the town, read about crime rates, etc., before he moved, and ever since he’s arrived he has been impressed by the generosity of people living here.

“When there was a recession, our community donated even more to the Salvation Army food bank,” Cook said.

When voters go to the polls for local government elections in November, they will be asked to vote on the Sam Ketcham Pool referendum.

“I encourage everyone to get informed and to participate,” she said.

Also in November, Cook’s name should be on the ballot.

“I haven’t formally announced it, but there’s still lots of work to do,” she said when asked if she’ll run again.

In the meantime rumours of Cook’s abilities as a high school basketball player have surfaced recently, so in the spirit of the New Year resolutions, the Tribune/Advisor challenged Cook to get back on the courts again in 2014.

You heard it here first.

 

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