Lunch with District of Barriere Mayor Virginia Smith

Mayor Virginia Smith was guest speaker at the March 2, Barriere and District Chamber of Commerce luncheon

District of Barriere Mayor Virginia Smith was the guest speaker at the March 2, Barriere and District Chamber of Commerce ‘Lunch with the Mayor’ held at Sam’s Pizza and Rib House.

A full contingent of folks turned out to meet the mayor and hear what she had to say over a lasagna and caesar salad luncheon.

Smith told the attendees that she believes in “an open door policy”, and welcomes input and suggestions from all stakeholders.

She stated that currently the budget process was underway within the municipality, “a very difficult process for all on council”.  The mayor did state however that members of the public have not been attending the budget meetings, so she hoped that was a sign the citizens were comfortable with those making the decisions on their behalf.

“Council has just finished working on our Strategic Plan for this year.  But it is an ongoing, living document,” said the mayor, “One of the top priorities is road maintenance, winter road maintenance, and maintaining our roads without a lot of cost to our budget.  Revitalization of the downtown core is also a priority once the roadwork is completed, as well as adding a walking path and a scooter road.”

She noted the municipality’s water supply is also a priority due to the fact the two wells currently being used are nearing a 25 year end of life.  “Bradford Park has a new drilled well with good water, but it costs money to bring it online, and we are looking again at grants, etcetera, to do so.”

She stated grants being sourced for community water upgrades require one-third of the cost to come from the district, and to do this a referendum would be needed.

She noted the Fire Protection Budget is maintained, and the municipality plans to help the fire chief with recruitment wherever possible.  Smith also stated new requirements for fire department training has put Barriere into an enviable position in comparison to many other volunteer fire departments, as Barriere has a trainer  in the department already.  Something that will save the community greatly in regards to costs for required training; and that Barriere is most fortunate to have the fire department that they do.

Mayor Smith informed those present that the district has been working with the North Thompson Fish and Game Society in regards to designating recreational area around Leone Lake. However, on investigation it was discovered that there is already a 55 hectare piece of land adjacent to the lake that is protected and has been designated as a recreational site.  She noted the district is responsible for maintaining the dam on the lake.

Smith also spoke about what is happening with economic development within the community, saying the district would like to create a “welcoming community that is well kept”.

“We can’t invite businesses in if we don’t have good water, fire protection, etcetera,” said Smith; commenting the district is working on a number of online initiatives to promote the investment opportunities in the area.

“At this time economic development is not being worked on aggressively,” said Smith, “I think bringing back the economic development committee would be a good thing.”

Mayor Smith stated the situation with roads within the community should be improving soon as the contractor is expected to be back working in the community the middle of this month, and it was hoped they will be finished by the middle of summer.

Asked if the roads would be put back the way they were? The answer was, “yes”.

District CAO Colleen Hannigan added, “We still have railway Avenue to do, and repair a water line and break repair that has rocks that have to be retrieved from the pipe.  Wherever asphalt has been removed from the roads it will be repaved as quickly as possible, and anywhere there was no asphalt originally will be graded.

Asked if the district had funding to fix other roads within the community the mayor answered, “ That would be a five to seven per cent tax hike and I am not in favour of that.”

Hannigan noted a lot of discussion had taken place at the Roads Roundtable held a few weeks ago, and information gathered from that is being reviewed by the district at this time.

Asked about the heating plans for the new wastewater treatment plant, it was noted the plant is solar aquatics, and a bio mass burner will be used to heat the building and hopefully the fire hall; with plans for the future to heat the building earmarked for city hall when it ready to be used.

“Bio mass will serve more than one purpose, and therefore be much more cost effective,” said the mayor, “The pollution from bio mass is very minimal. It has all sorts of filters in it.”

Stakeholders attending the meeting included Community Futures, the TNRD, area businesses and organizations, and local government representatives.

The Barriere and District Chamber of Commerce were thanked for the well-planned and informative event, as was Sam’s Pizza for the good service and great food.