Tax increases for most areas

Tax increases for most areas - as the Mayor sees it - Bill Humphreys

February 2012 started with a terrible accident on Highway 5 just north of the District of Barriere. The official investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.

The location of the accident is a portion of Highway 5 that is subject to snow melt runoff which causes both icy conditions and the washing away of sand and salt applied to the road surface.

During a recent meeting that included Barriere Council, Environment Minister Terry Lake, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Blair Lekstrom and members of the Ministries staff, the issue of highway safety was discussed at length.

Aggressive driving, high volumes of commercial vehicles and road conditions were identified as concerns. Possible remedies to these and other problems included lowering speed limits within District boundaries and increased enforcement.

The condition of roads prior to transfer of ownership to the District and other topics were discussed as well. A positive feeling of continued support for Council’s concerns was forth coming from both Minister Lefstrom and Minister Lake.

I spoke at length this week with the area manager for the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, Myles Bruns, around the Regional Economic Investment Pilot Project. Much work is ongoing. Progress has been made on some problems identified. A report will be produced shortly to give an update on the initiatives brought forth at the Valemount forum.

The subject of property tax increases came up recently. It is true most areas will have some increases. In our area there was a recent tax increase approved by the board of directors of the Thompson-Nicola Hospital District.

This affects the hospital portion of the District of Barriere property tax bill. In truth there may be others. We will not know until the local budget has been completed.

Most often property tax increases are given as a percentage figure. While not meant to be misleading it rarely means much to most home owners. They need to know in dollar amounts what they need to pay. Going forward, in Barriere at least, we will try to give the information in a manner that actually gives meaning to how a resident’s own budget is affected.

With all this in mind the first stage of strategic planning for the District has been completed for this year. Next steps will include budgeting and planning for the various projects in the District.

I encourage everyone to be involved in the planning process. If you have the time and can commit to participating in one of the standing committees of the District please let us know. If your time is limited then please attend the town meetings to give us your ideas and concerns.

Once initial project engineering is complete town meetings will be held. Public input will drive a plan that will be the best it can be.

A decision was made to merge various aspects of the sewer, water line upgrades in the town core and the downtown revitalization projects. This will give rise to significant savings as well as a better end product will be achieved.

Previously developed concepts as well as new ideas around the revitalization of Barriere Town Road will be used to build a final and cohesive plan.

The installation of the sewer lines will require digging trenches all along the town core roads. The upgrade of the water lines that are long past their prime will be undertaken as well.

Once the sewer and water work is completed the project finish will incorporate some of the upgrades needed in road safety and public access. Segregated pedestrian walkways, off street parking and marked crosswalks comprise some of the issues to be addressed.

Last but not least at the Feb. 6, council meeting I thanked the members of council that participated or volunteered at the Investors Group Alzheimer’s Walk for Memories.

Unfortunately I overlooked the efforts of staff members Nora Johnson and Lynn Wright. I am well aware of the immense value volunteers bring to these events. I apologize for my oversight.

The Walk was a great success by any standards. I am honoured that I was asked to be a part of this years Walk which was dedicated to the memory of Mackenzie Livingstone.

Great and positive events will happen everyday. We all need to help and participate as much as we can.