A New Year, with all of its promise, has begun. When the city held its annual reception in December, I expressed my disbelief that a year had passed so quickly. There was so much activity in 2015 that the time flew by. 2016 is shaping up to be the same with new projects emerging from the wings as current projects come to completion.
It’s my hope that one small change council has implemented will produce big results. Council has shifted the time of some of its committee of the whole meetings from the evening to the afternoon. We hope to see more people in attendance and changing the time to earlier in the day may make it possible for more of you to come. On Jan. 18, committee of the whole will begin at 1 p.m. in council chambers. You can find the full calendar year here: nelson.ca/EN/main/services/tmayor-council/calendar/012016.html.
The potential of the Railtown district has captured the imagination of the community and detailed planning for this district will move forward in 2016. The city has contracted with Modus, a company from Vancouver, to facilitate the planning process. Modus hosted the first workshop last week to begin the exploration. A diverse group that included business owners in the Railtown district, the Chamber of Commerce, residents, and non-profits came together to share what the future of this little gem might look like.
Prior planning documents including the Path to 2040, Downtown Waterfront Master Plan and the heritage register informed the meeting. It was a very good beginning. The larger community will be invited into this three-stage process as it unfolds. There is a tremendous amount of energy and excitement about the possibilities Railtown holds for the future and I think it will be a place for Nelson’s creativity to shine.
Council recently approved a three per cent increase in water rates and a two per cent increase in sewer rates for 2016. These increases will ensure that infrastructure renewal continues and will build future reserves. The increase on an average home will amount to $2.03 per month. It was just over 10 years ago that the city adopted its long-term plan for infrastructure renewal. It included big goals for capital investment and a plan to build reserves for the future.
The financial investment and hard work has really begun to pay off. All galvanized pipe has been replaced, we’ve averaged close to two kilometres per year in water line replacement and 2.5 kilometres per year in sewer line replacement. Much of this work has been completed at a lower cost because we are able to use our own crews and there has been favourable pricing on materials. We are ahead of many communities in this work and well positioned to share in any federal grants that the new government may offer.
We are ringing in the New Year with the swearing in of our new police chief, Paul Burkart, on Jan. 29. Paul brings both operational and administrative experience with him and is looking forward to working with council and the police board. The police department has worked hard to establish the restorative justice initiative and is currently working with Nelson’s street collective to develop a community-based solution for people with mental health issues.
2015 was a productive and rewarding year and your council is looking forward to exciting developments in 2016. Thanks to all of you for your support in this first year. Happy New Year everyone!
Nelson Mayor Deb Kozak shares this space weekly with her council colleagues.