CAO for the District of Barriere
Council and staff of the District of Barriere would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year for 2023. Over the past year, there were a number of success stories to be proud of that reflect on the many, hard-working volunteers and community pride that the town has grown to enjoy. It was very exciting to have the fall fair and rodeo back in action. It is truly inspiring to witness the leadership team along with its army of volunteers that dedicate so many hours in preparation for the long weekend event, not to mention the actual event and all of the brilliant activities, good food and really amazing athletes that take part. Without question, the army of Barriere’s volunteers deserve our full credit and admiration.
Thankfully, our community has come back to life after two years of pandemic-related cancellations with more activities and events to mention in this article. The District Council has established a recreation committee and hired our new recreation coordinator to better support the our amazing community and everything that we have to offer for all ages in Barriere.
A special thank you goes to our utilities department staff and manager as the water advisory issue was successfully resolved and the newest well is now up and running effectively. To top things off, the older well has been successfully reconditioned with a new pump which provides the community with good backup. So, great news on the water situation.
Municipal staff have been working hard on applying for provincial and federal grants available to secure necessary upgrades of the downtown wastewater system. These grant applications, if approved, will help the town support current and future development in the downtown core area, including a long-term revitalization plan highlighting more housing density and local business opportunities.
Other notable achievements in 2023, include the Skateboard Park Association’s completion of the long-awaited skateboard park, the District’s construction of a warming hut at the outdoor arena, the dog park and park enhancements and beautifications.
With the municipal elections that took place in October, we have two new council members on the District’s Council: Colin McInnis and Louise Lodge. Both have hit the ground running with Coun. Lodge taking on a number of leadership roles in community recreation groups including being appointed chair of the new Recreation Committee. Coun. McInnis is able to utilize his knowledge and experience of building and development area of municipal services as well as sits on the new Recreation Committee. Both have a strong interest in continuing to support our relationship with our Simpcw First Nation neighbours. The incumbent councillors have been very welcoming, and the first few meetings have been very productive. This year also saw the departing of long term councillors Amanda Sabyan and Alan Fortin. Both members of council should be very proud of the contributions they have made to our community over the many years they served on council.
Over the next few weeks in January, council will work together on a new strategic plan for their four-year term, as well as the five-year capital plan and the annual operating budgets, including review of the Fees and Charges Bylaw. Currently, the District of Barriere is in a healthy financial position with no serviceable debt and over the past 14 years, has been able to ensure some reserve funds are set aside for infrastructure upgrades. Keep in mind, we must keep the future in consideration in order to be ready to replace assets such as roads, public works equipment, fire equipment, underground service piping, water wells, as well as computers and software. These assets are not cheap and need to be seriously considered in our asset management planning and financial planning. Community members that may be interested in the financial planning are welcome to attend public meetings in the upcoming few weeks to see how this process happens and the difficult decision that council make each and every budget year. All budget meetings are pre-advertised in advance on the District’s website.
Also in the new year, we are working on a number of rezoning application submissions including the Dixon Creek Road property that could see up to 80 new one-acre residential lots, as well the Clary development which has capacity for another 60 to 80 lots as they continue to build out phase by phase in the Siska/Clary Road area. These types of applications may support an area of need that council identified which is a current lack of affordable housing and rental opportunities. Housing challenges are prevalent in most areas across the province and is an exercise that will take a more combined effort between our communities and stakeholders, including the Provincial Housing Ministry. Addressing housing needs in Barriere will continue to be a priority of council in the new year. Also, on the development front, Council has welcomed the new owners of the DeeJay Mobile Home & RV Park to our community.
The Louis Creek Industrial Park (LCIP) lots have sold out and the district retained one lot for its own future municipal needs. We expect these new property owners to continue with their development plans over the coming months while generating jobs and economic stimulus for Barriere and the region. This year we were successful in receiving a grant to complete the water system in the LCIP including the construction of its own water reservoir which is scheduled for construction this coming summer. This will secure water and fire protection services for the LCIP.
One critically important issue for all of us in the region is medical services. Council, including Mayor Stamer, have met multiple times with IHA to help understand the issues and to support the recruitment of two new doctors.
Most recently IHA representatives presented information to council and the public during the Dec. 19th, 2022 Council Meeting. The information presented by IHA clearly indicated a concentrated effort by the Health Authority to review our local level of medical services and reiterated a commitment to provide an enhanced primary care clinic with drop-in capabilities, three doctors and hopefully two full-time operational ambulances available to transport patients needing critical care into the medical centers in Kamloops. This program review and hiring process will likely require some time and understanding, and Council has respectfully insisted that the community receive regular updates as things progress.
The upcoming 2023 year is already slated to be a busy one for the District, its businesses and service providers.
We look forward to all the positives that will result from the hard work of council, staff, community volunteers, small business owners, residents, and those who live, work and play in our community.
Bob Payette is the CAO of Barriere