There was an interesting turn of events this week around the sewer collection project. There have been statements made that certain required procedures were not followed by the District of Barriere.
There also have been allegations that the project had not been properly permitted prior to the start of work.
The facts are that the District of Barriere council agreed to proceed with the sewer collection project guided by the advice of staff and with input from qualified sources of information.
Barriere council has to trust and rely on information presented to them to make informed decisions and will seek further advice and recommendations as needed during the course of any project.
The recent issues and developments that have arisen out of the possible lithic chip discovery have prompted Barriere council to pass a resolution to seek legal consul as to the best course of action.
The questions surrounding the possible discovery of a lithic chip during the excavation for the sewer pipes have come to be far beyond the scope of knowledge of District staff and council.
Seeking advice is the best course of action before there are any decisions around requesting permits, doing studies and the like. Any course of action is not without cost or risk and District council must seek the best advice available to perform their duties of risk management in relation to this or any other matter.
Barriere council is also acutely aware of our social and cultural responsibility as it relates to our community.
These responsibilities must be weighed alongside the economic and legal ramifications of any decisions made. It would be absolutely irresponsible to not gather together all the information and advice possible before proceeding with any future course of action.
The community will be kept informed of developments around this issue as well as any others that may arise as we go along.
Looking around the province to see how others are doing the business of running local governments it is startling to see what comes out of doing core reviews of municipal services. Penticton found that they were paying $8 more per hour than operators in the private sector. By negotiating a lower starting wage and eliminating personnel and equipment overlaps the council managed to set a three year property tax freeze.Prince George also did a core review and after 28 years of annual increases in staff pay, Prince George council negotiated two years at net zero and two years at very small raises. Prince George council had realized that continual staff wage raises were not sustainable for their local taxpayers. In essence the taxpaying public had reached the end of their rope in their ability to pay.
My point here is not that Barriere needs to do a core review of our services. We are so small, that discovering any sort of wasted funds is easy as looking to see if anything has changed in the way we do business. Then council looks at how best to provide the additional service.
One recent change is that the District took over roads maintenance. Council debated the matter around the pros and cons of contracting the work out or doing it in house.
The decision was to contract the task out, and the contract went to Mr. Purcha. It is safe to say that the roads are being looked after quite nicely.
As we go into the summer roads maintenance schedule, council will have to make the choice this budgeting session of contracting it out, or trying to do it in house with additional staff, equipment, and all the possible long term costs to the tax payer.
Finally, I want to extend my personal thanks to MP Cathy McLeod and our local MLA Dr. Terry Lake, as well as to their spouses, Gord and Lisa, for helping us celebrate our Citizen of the Year. Your support of our community has brought good things to us here in Barriere over the years, and I am sure that more good news items will come to light in the near future. By working together our communities will all prosper and grow. Your continuing and past efforts to make that happen are much appreciated.