Economic Development experiencing changes

as the mayor sees it with District of Barriere Mayor Bill Humphreys

We had a Development Committee meeting last week. There were updates on local and area projects.

One such local project is the Shop Local Passport project which is being promoted by the Barriere and Area Chamber of Commerce. So far the project is experiencing good response from the local merchants.

The project involves local shoppers obtaining a passport and then getting a stamp at three participating local sales outlets and one restaurant for purchases of at least ten dollars. Once the passport is filled in it can be turned in for a contest entry to win one of the prizes offered by the merchants that are participating. The prizes are quite substantial and the results of the contest will allow local merchants to track how well the shopping season was attended.

The Yellowhead Mines Harper Creek project is progressing. The most recent news was that the Environmental Assessment application will be delayed for a further four weeks to allow a review by the First Nations that have an interest in the project. Then the application will be sent to the Federal government for review. Also,  there will be work at the mine site over the winter,  and I am told that this has already started, with the temporary camp being prepared.

Part time local Economic Development Officer Mr. Andrew Hayward announced at the meeting that he will not be returning next year. The committee thanked Mr. Hayward for his past services and wished him well in his future endeavours. Mr. Hayward will be completing the last month of his contract by helping with the Shop Local project and a few other local initiatives. The announcement was made at the November development committee meeting as there will not be a committee meeting in December.

Development initiatives will still be pursued with more of a local focus.

One such possible local project that was announced at the meeting was a biomass burner. Councillor Stanley and Mike Mitton from Gilbert Smith sawmill will be attending a Biomass conference this week to get up to date on what is available.

The proposal could provide heat for various buildings in Barriere.

Staff will be looking at costs and the possibility of placing the pipes in the same trenches as the sewer lines. If this can be accomplished, then the cost of the project will be reduced considerably. With the cost of heat through the use of electricity, propane and oil constantly on the rise and the lack of natural gas here in Barriere, it has been hard to attract new manufacturing types of businesses.

One idea was to pipe the heat to the industrial park as well as to the existing commercial and institutional buildings in the downtown core.

By using a renewable green energy source to heat both existing and new projects, we will be able to reduce our carbon footprint. We will also be closer to realizing projects such as a long term health care facility. Energy costs are a major stumbling block in the negotiating of such projects and biomass heat will fill the bill.

Speaking of health care, there were two hospital board meetings last week that I attended as Barriere’s TNRD director. I had an opportunity to voice my displeasure of Interior Health’s decision to cut one of our local lab technician positions to Mr. Andrew Neuner. Mr. Neuner is Interior Health’s Vice President of Community Integration. I am hoping to follow up with his department to try and find a resolution to the long wait times at our local clinic.

The provisional budget for the first phase of the work to be done at Royal Inland Hospital over the next many years was approved. This first project will provide for additional parking, as well as teaching and patient care facilities. Approximately 350 new spaces will be created in a multilevel parking facility.

It is old news now,  but I wish to welcome the new TNRD Director for Area O, Mr. Bill Kershaw. Despite not being officially sworn in until Dec. 6,  Bill attended all the latest TNRD meetings to catch up on what was happening. I suspect this dedication will continue throughout his term, and Area O will be well served.