On Tuesday I spoke with MLA Kevin Krueger, Minister Terry Lake and Minister Kevin Falcon about the difficulties we face here in Barriere. They all had some good memories and stories of being in Barriere for various events and of trips through the North Thompson. I told Minister Falcon and everyone else for that matter that Barriere is a great place and will be better with a bit of help. If I don’t get another invitation to sit with them at lunch again I’ll know I pressed a bit too hard.
Minister Falcon presented the latest provincial budget. I have to say I wish I had his abilities when it comes to speaking to a group of people. Budgets are a hard topic. To be able to speak for more than an hour, not miss a beat and then answer questions is impressive.
Like every other community Barriere has a challenge to maintain essential services while keeping the cost as low as is possible. Every dollar that is spent comes from the pockets or purses of the tax paying public.
When was the last time any of you got a raise in pay or on your pension? The answer most likely is not lately. In fact for a good number of people here in Barriere their wages have been subject to some sort of a workshare arrangement made so that the company that employs them can stay in business.
Running the District is no different or at least it shouldn’t be. Going forward things have to change. Change is always troubling to some. However we cannot just go along increasing taxes each year to cover the budget. Each aspect of the budget has to be examined to see if there is a way to gain more effective use of funds.
In some small communities you will find the person that runs the water and sewer plants out cutting the grass or painting the ball park concession to have a full day of work. They are willing to take on these tasks because they want to work where they live. Adaptation to what is needed will benefit everyone. Barriere has a long history of being able to adapt and change as needed to survive.
TNRD Area O Director Bonnie CruzelleMyram and I have had discussions around how we can work together with the funds we have to provide the most for our communities. I have spoken to Mayor Al Raine to get his thoughts on how public money should be spent. In no way do I pretend to know all the answers. I know I need to get the best ideas that I can.
Innovative thinking and careful planning combined with some outright cuts can and will bring the budget down to an acceptable level. Each person on Council has their own views and opinions. Hopefully this will work in a positive manner to give new direction and potential savings. Public opinion and ideas are needed and welcomed.
The second District of Barriere budget meeting was held on March 12th. More than a few residents came to listen and give their views. I want to thank all of you that attended and I would ask that you once again please spread the word that there will be two more sessions that will be formatted to engage the public around the middle of April. I will give the exact date and times towards the end of March. One meeting will be held in the afternoon to accommodate those that cannot make it later in the evening.
Unlike some communities, Barriere has actually grown in population in the last few years. This has a very positive effect on the monies the District receives from other sources and levels of government.
In addition we were successful in our application for a grant to begin providing sewer services. District staff are working hard to make the best use of these funds.
People will be out doing survey and planning work for the sewer project. Dave Underwood and his team from TRU Consulting are providing multiple scenarios so we can make the best choices.
In addition to this planning the co-chair of Public Services, Bill Kershaw and District staff will be making a trip to the Eco-Tek plant closest to Barriere in order to check first hand that the plant will suit our needs.
Like the budget, careful project planning will provide the best possible product at the lowest cost.
Recently a resident said “ Barriere is a small town with a great big heart.” Well said I think. We all need to work together for the future.