Cariboo Regional District Chair Al Richmond

CRD chair reflects on 2016 regional events

The CRD experienced many successes in 2016. The year started with a focus on strengthening our relationships with First Nations.

Cariboo Regional District Chair Al Richmond presented a review of 2016 activities during the district board meeting in Williams Lake in December. Highlights from his speech, condensed for space are presented here as follows:

The CRD experienced many successes in 2016.

The year started with a focus on strengthening our relationships with First Nations.

Early in January, we held a Community to Community Forum with the Tsilhqot’in National Government.

In February, we signed a tripartite protocol agreement with the Williams Lake Indian Band (T’exelc) and City of Williams Lake.

Both of these events were important steps in working together to identify areas of common interest and opportunities to work collaboratively, while gaining a better understanding of our respective cultures and governance models.

This focus carried throughout the year as several CRD directors and staff members attended a Nation2Nation forum in November to join the conversation about economic development and doing business with First Nations.

We look forward to continuing these discussions in the coming year.

In February the CRD adopted a bylaw to take over operation of the 103 Mile Water System with improvements continuing during the year.

108 Mile residents also voted to borrow for improvements to the 108 Mile water system. Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2017.

Early in the year Official Community Plan review processes were launched for South Cariboo and Lac La Hache areas.

After community consultation, both of the OCPs are now in the draft phase to be finalized early in 2017.

In the spring, ground was broken on the  Sam Ketcham Pool upgrade project in Williams Lake and the North Cariboo Arena replacement project in Quesnel.

Both projects are on track for completion in the fall of 2017.

Notwithstanding the support these facilities will be to local efforts to retain and attract young families and professionals, these projects are already paying dividends in our communities through the use of local contractors and suppliers.

In May of 2016, the CRD attended the North Central Local Government Association Conference and Annual General Meeting (AGM) which were held in Dawson Creek. Delegates and their partners were able to attend some great workshops, business sessions and, of course, some spectacular entertainment and social events. I would like to take this opportunity to again thank the many volunteers who dedicated their time and efforts to put on this conference. The hospitality which was offered to delegates and their partners was second to none.

At the beginning of June, the CRD attended the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference and AGM in Winnipeg.

Our resolution calling for the federal government to officially declare September 30 as National Orange Shirt Day was successful.

We were extremely proud to present this important resolution on the national stage at the conference.

On June 9 and 10, the CRD board of directors attended the first of our two annual Board on the Road events.

About 90 residents attended the Board on the Road barbecue in Bouchie Lake with all the proceeds going to the Bouchie Lake Community Association. We saw an even larger turnout for our second Board on the Road which took place on September 22 and 23 in Wells.

We had 136 residents attend the barbecue and the funds went to the Wells and Area Community Association.

The board also had the privilege to tour the newly opened Wells Primary Care Clinic, which the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District helped fund.

Thankfully, this summer was quiet in terms of wildfire activity and we did not open our Emergency Operations Centre at all this year. Nevertheless, our summer remained full as we forged new partnerships between the CRD and the People’s Republic of China. In mid-June, we hosted a group of Chinese business investors in co-ordination with our member municipalities, the Cariboo Chilcotin Tourism Association, Barkerville Historic Town and Park and the Chinese Consulate General in Vancouver. They were able to visit our communities, experience Cariboo hospitality and learn about business and investment opportunities in our region. The partnerships continued later in the summer when we hosted a group of elite Chinese martial artists from the Shaolin Epo Martial Arts School, which attracted another Chinese business delegation to our region. The performance series was a huge success and the group’s following increased as they travelled with a sold-out show in Prince George to finish the tour.

Early in September the CRD announced a new specialized 9-1-1 text emergency service for residents with deaf, deaf-blind, hard-of-hearing or speech impairment.

September 26 to 30, CRD directors attended the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention and AGM in Victoria.

Delegates met with provincial ministers and staff, attended workshops and spoke to CRD resolutions, which all received endorsement.

It was especially momentous to have the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District receive the UBCM Excellence Award in Partnerships for our collaborative efforts on the Quesnel Primary Care Clinic Project. The clinic opened in May 2016 and is a model interdisciplinary medical care facility and a great asset to our northern communities.

Throughout the year, we have also been building a foundation for our new Cariboo Strong economic development initiative. Early in 2016, we formalized a partnership with the Community Development Institute from the University of Northern British Columbia with the goal of growing a strong region through strong communities.

We have gathered significant funding for the project from the Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition, West Fraser and the BC Rural Dividend Fund and we have successfully gained support from all our member municipalities, the Village of Clinton and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

To date, preliminary work has begun in all three of our sub-regions and we are seeing the beginning of on-the-ground action through the formation of the first Action Group, which met for the first time in December. We are excited to see the continued progress on this initiative over the next few years.

Some other highlights from 2016 have been:

• assisting 18 non-profit groups and supporting $745,000 worth of funding requests for community initiatives through our grant writing program;

• celebrating the CRD’s 150 Mile House Volunteer Fire Department’s 35-year anniversary;

• being named as a 2015 Climate Action Community;

• successfully applying to a number of different provincial and federal funding programs such as Destination BC’s Co-operative Marketing Partnerships program, Northern Development Initiative Trust, BC Rural Dividend fund, BC Air Access and Canada Summer Jobs for a total of approximately $141,000; and

• receiving approximately $1.7 million from the Community Works Fund to support green initiatives and energy efficiency projects.

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