Mayor Surinderpal Rathor. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Mayor Surinderpal Rathor. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Williams Lake mayor reflects on 2022, casts focus on 2023

Promoting and supporting new investment in Williams Lake is more important than ever.

As the newly-elected mayor of Williams Lake, I am pleased to have the opportunity to write a few words as 2022 draws to a close.

As mayor, I am focused on fostering a community-based on partnerships and strong, healthy relationships. With the challenges brought on by the pandemic and the current economic climate, promoting and supporting new investment in Williams Lake is more important than ever.

Investment could come in the form of new businesses, new industry, and new economic opportunities, but only if we create an investment-friendly climate that encourages economic stability and prosperity.

Our community continues to be a bustling business hub for our region, and we have new business license applications and development and building permits coming in at a solid pace. In 2022, over 141 building permits have been issued to date, and 104 new business licenses, for a total of 1092 business licences.

Investment in Williams Lake is strong, with a number of exciting developments in 2022.

Upgrades to the Cariboo Memorial Hospital are ongoing, and the Glen Arbour expansion is in its preliminary stages. We are happy to see Ming’s Restaurant begin to rebuild, as well as the Shell redevelopment. South Broadway Liquor Store moved into its newly expanded building in the summer, with an attached Wendy’s drive-thru restaurant expected in the spring.

Housing continues to be a pressing concern for our community, and we are happy to have seen two new subdivisions established in our city, along with an expansion of the Mandarino strata. We’re looking forward to a new townhouse complex on South Lakeside Drive early next year as well.

January saw a second project under the Housing Incentive Program, launched by Northern Development Initiative Trust, aimed at creating density in the very tight northern region housing market. The program provides a reimbursement to the developer once an occupancy permit has been issued, and provides for $10,000 per door.

The minimum project size is a four-unit development, with a maximum of $200,000 in rebates available. Local contractor Titan Construction completed a four-plex development on Mackenzie Avenue, adding four three-bedroom units to the available rental stock in Williams Lake.

The city was happy to be able to host a number of events again in 2022, including the first ever “Bring the Fam Rail Jam” and other Family Day activities, the bike rodeo, Mud Puddle Trail Run, Canada Day celebrations, Harvest Run, Halloween fireworks, and the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

We are also excited for the installation of a new disc golf course in Boitanio Park.

Council continues to advocate for physician recruitment in Williams Lake, and has ongoing dialogue with Interior Health and other related organizations. The city is working to address the physician shortage in the Central and South Cariboo with the hiring of two contract staff members to support new medical professionals arriving in the community. There is a strong focus on ensuring that new medical arrivals have a good experience by helping to connect them with their peers and the community, as well as providing support to their families through employment opportunities and childcare and school registration.

This year’s Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) Business Façade Improvement Program was another success. The city is excited to see the ongoing interest and investment in Williams Lake’s downtown and highway commercial areas.

We were all excited to dust off our cowboy boots this July long weekend to enjoy the Stampede events. This year was an incredible showcase of community spirit and we were all happy to be able to enjoy the events unique to Williams Lake, from the rodeo to the Stampede Parade and Street Party to the Thunder Mountain Raceway events, Canada Day celebrations, and rugby tournament.

Paving and road repairs on Dog Creek Road within city of Williams Lake limits were undertaken in October. We will continue to press the province for funding to ensure safety for all motorists.

I was honoured to attend the Business Excellence Awards gala on Nov. 12th. It was a wonderful evening dedicated to celebrating our business community. Many thanks to the chamber and the volunteers who made this event happen. Thank you also to our dedicated businesses who do so much to make Williams Lake an economically diverse and vibrant community, and congratulations to all of this year’s nominees and winners!

I am thankful to live in a community where we look out for each other. Our community strength and spirit is wonderful, and I would like to thank those who help their neighbours. If you are able to, lend a hand with shovelling or volunteer where you can. As we head toward the holiday season, I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

I look forward to continued growth and prosperity for Williams Lake in 2023.

Read more: Voters chart new course with changes to Williams Lake mayor, council

Read more: VIDEO: Drums, bagpipes play in new Williams Lake mayor, council in culturally rich ceremony

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