Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb. Angie Mindus photo

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb. Angie Mindus photo

Mayor Cobb looks back on 2017

The fires have had both positive and negative effects on the city. Although we are very aware of the negative effects, the strength of our community was evident as we worked through the disaster.

Mayor Walt COBB

Special the Tribune

It’s hard to believe that City of Williams Lake Council is three years into a four-year term! With municipal elections in October 2018, in less than a year there may be a new council to represent you.

The wildfires certainly made this summer one to remember, and not one I wish to repeat. Once again, thank you to the firefighters, RCMP, military, the many volunteers, and everyone who helped get us through the summer from hell. The impact will be felt for years, and the Tolko fire has added to that stress.

In May, a delegation went to China, not only to build relationships but to find new investors for some of the opportunities identified after hosting the Chinese delegation here last year.

We are still pursuing some of those opportunities and are in contact on a regular basis. One project was the proposed flight school, and it is looking like a very real possibility.

A student exchange program has also had its first visit to China with another in the works.

The Greenhouse project may be contingent on Atlantic Power renewing its contract with BC Hydro. The contract is up in the spring and we will await the results.

In the meantime, we are developing a business plan on the hot water connection so we will be ready.

As in every fall, council is continuing its budget deliberations. We have again directed staff to work towards a zero per cent increase in tax rates as a benchmark.

They have been working to find efficiencies wherever possible to save money without reducing services.

As I have stated before, zero per cent is not sustainable, but with all that has happened this summer we felt we had to make every effort to lessen any financial burden on our residents.

The fires have had both positive and negative effects on the city. Although we are very aware of the negative effects, the strength of our community was evident as we worked through the disaster.

The city did see some extra revenue generated at the airport, and also received payment for deployment of its Structural Protection Unit in other communities.

The recovery process from the fires is ongoing, and anyone who may need assistance can access the City’s website at www.williamslake.ca for more information.

Also on the brighter side, new business license applications continue to rise. In 2014 there were 73 new licenses issued and we have had steady growth to 107 new licenses this year. Total numbers this year are also up from 971 to 1,019.

We also have had $20 million worth of new construction this year, and averaged about $17.5 million per year for the last three years. This new revenue will help offset any future tax increase.

The Toop Road intersection finally started this year, with completion in Fall 2018. The paving of Westridge and Woodland Drive was scheduled for September, but was delayed during the fires and our first big snowfall on the morning the paving was to be completed, so we will address it in 2018.

Construction of the new Cariboo Place 70-bed care facility is well underway. With this new development, the museum had to be relocated to its temporary home at the Tourism Discovery Centre.

Although circumstances were not ideal and the time frame was very tight, work is underway to provide a suitable showcase in the short term until a permanent location is determined. The city has asked the Cariboo Regional District to be part the solution with input from the Central Cariboo Joint Committee.

The 153 Mile store has been donated to the city. The Cariboo Heritage Park Society has been formed to assist in its relocation, as well as developing a heritage site that could possibly house the store and a new museum and/or cultural centre. They are working on a conceptual plan as well as a business plan.

In closing, I will leave you with the latest update on the Sam Ketcham Pool.

The official opening took place Dec. 14, and I know we are all going to enjoy our upgraded complex!

A reminder as well of the Rogers Hometown Hockey event on Jan. 6-7.

We are all looking forward to enjoying the festivities.

On behalf of council and staff, we wish you all a very merry Christmas and prosperous new year.