By Mayor Walt Cobb
We started of the year with a very successful Hometown hockey event. Rogers covered most of the costs as a support from the 2017 wildfires, and we successfully applied for and received a grant from the Red Cross to cover the balance. Thanks to all involved locally for making the event a huge success.
We are meeting regularly with the working group that is putting together the concept designs for the Cariboo Memorial Hospital expansion. Council lobbied at UBCM to include a heli-pad so our participation at the table is important as we move toward a more regional hospital facility.
When we put out the bid for Cariboo Place it sparked a real upsurge in investment attention from outside of the local market. We are seeing increases in inquiries for a lot of activity in our Development Services department with people coming in to seek advice on redeveloping different properties.
In the past year and a bit we have broken ground on two building projects that will provide over 100 new units in Williams Lake and over 100 new jobs. We have broken a record on building construction this year as far back as I could find with a grand total of $33 million in new construction this year. It’s great to see all the construction activity. Hopefully more to come.
We have just received the Williams Lake Regional Airport Master Plan that will give us a guide as to improve and expand the usage at the airport.
Our Economic Development Strategy has just been endorsed by Council and now we can set the priorities as we put that plan in place. We had a broad range of community input as to what our citizens think are our best opportunities for sustaining our growth.
We have been working closely with TRU to find ways to bring more students to our local campus so the classes can be run more consistently. We believe that International students might be the way to get our local programs full. We have put in a fairly significant amount of time on the scene.
The Toop Road interchange made tremendous progress this summer. The crews will be back in the spring to complete the work. We increased our budget for road rehabilitation in 2018 and are looking for even more for the coming year.
After years of work, we finally were able to purchase portions of the RC Cotton site. City staff are busy writing grant applications to develop that site into more recreational trails and public space.
The Stampede Heritage Park Society continues to make progress on their plans to develop that area and move the old 153 Mile Store to the site. The construction at the TDC to give the Museum more space will be starting in the next week or so. Museum staff are busy moving some of the exhibits out of the way to enable that get underway. The Museum has had a record number of visitors since the move.
We have another commitment from BC Ferries to get the sailing to Bella Coola again this summer. We will be monitoring that activity closely with the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association and how the funds raised from the hotel tax will benefit Williams Lake’s Tourism marketing efforts.
We are pleased that the Janda Group are committed to the City to put focus on Boitanio Mall, we look forward to seeing that space put to good use in the coming years.
There has been, and will continue to be, a lot of work with the Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations on Community Wildfire Protection Plans, and at the last Council meeting we have committed funds to put some of that work into action.
So all in all it has been a busy and productive year, and with the new building and assessment Council is putting a plan in place to again attempt a zero per cent increase in the tax rate again for this year. The increase in construction assessments will hopefully make that dream come true.
Merry Christmas to everyone and a very happy and prosperous New Year.
The mayor contributed a year in review from his perspective at the request of the Williams Lake Tribune and we thank him for obliging.