Communication is a challenge for any local government. Small towns such as ours have an extra challenge given that we have a weekly not a daily paper, there is no real central bulletin board that would serve as a repository of important information and not everyone has high speed access to the internet. Let’s face it, lack of connectivity here in Barriere, as well as the surrounding area is a problem and we need to address it.
Not to take away from the strategic planning session that TRU held last week, which I am sure will get lots of coverage, but at that session there was a great after the meeting discussion around possible ways to increase the available broadband coverage here in Barriere.
The broadband coverage needs to get boosted so that certain training courses can be held in a virtual setting and video conference meetings can be held here rather than have folks travel all over the place. The discussion involved more parties than were there so a few meetings need to be scheduled to see if the ideas will work. I hope to have more on that later.
There is an agenda item that is, or was, since this will come out after the council meeting on Dec. 16, that covers off the report on council remuneration and expenses.
My expenses as mayor are reported as approximately $9,500. The next highest was for Councillor Stamer, which was reported at approximately $3,600.
These expenses are used for conferences such as the one the Southern Interior Local Government Association puts on, as well as for any training councillors take.
In the mayor’s expenses there are costs for other meetings that I attended and which I think should not be included in the workshop, seminars and meals budget line; but it appears that there is no budget line for those sorts of things.
Take for example the recent North Thompson Community Foundation meeting held in Clearwater which I attended as the Mayor of Barriere. Her Honour Lt. Governor Judith Guichon was to be in attendance and in my opinion it would be rude not to represent Barriere when invited to do so.
I have also been invited to a number of Federal and Provincial announcements over the past year, some of which were held in Vancouver. What a great way to get to bend the ear of the folks that represent us in those orders of government.
In addition to this, I have tried to schedule follow up meetings with potential investors on the same day so that travel costs are limited. I usually could return the same day.
At the beginning of 2013 we set a limited budget for economic development. There were no salaries or wages to be paid as I was performing the majority of the functions around that portion of the business of the district.
In 2012 the district paid out $40,000, plus limited expenses for our part-time Economic Development contractor. In 2013 council realigned the economic development strategy. Going forward it was felt that we could find considerable savings if we performed the function in house. The total for the “Development-Economic” portion of the budget is reported at $4,002.09 which includes a relatively aggressive advertising campaign and a membership to the British Columbia Economic Development Association.
By going out from the community we have had some success in attracting potential businesses to Barriere, and are working aggressively to build a scenario that will appeal to investors.
We have been invited to speak to the Provincial Nominee program for foreign investors. This is a first for a small rural community like Barriere, as up to now Kamloops was considered small.
So there it is, as the Mayor of Barriere I have travelled to and put in expenses for travelling to; Prince George, Vancouver, Victoria, Kamloops, Kelowna, Merritt, Clearwater and a host of other cities and towns to represent Barriere in negotiations with investors, to meetings held by the Province, meetings held by community groups and other gatherings to do the business of the district as well as promoting our community as a great place to invest in and an even a better place to live.