Happy Holidays and best wishes to all for the year 2022. Let’s hope it’s less eventful than the last few years.
As we slip into 2022, it’s a good time to reflect on the past 12 months and anticipate the future.
The community of Rossland continues to do an excellent job of navigating the pandemic and I am grateful that we did not descend into raucous public demonstrations and ugly words that divided other towns.
Various opposing viewpoints were discussed reasonably, among friends. Overall, science and common sense prevailed; 2022 will continue to bring health challenges, and while we can see a glimmer of light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, we aren’t there yet.
In Rossland, there were so many accomplishments in 2021, it’s hard to focus on just a few:
• Despite the challenges, the City of Rossland responded nimbly to the changes required by COVID-19 and continued to provide core services to our rapidly growing population.
• Major grants were received to help us upgrade our water treatment plant, improve the Star Gulch reservoir as well as the completion of the first segment of a commuter trail. This collaborative effort will eventually connect Rossland to Fruitvale.
• Through our COVID-19 Recovery Fund we provided resources to some of our valued community groups to help them manage the challenges of the pandemic. There will be an additional intake in 2022.
• We passed a number of bylaws to move our community into a sustainable future; just to mention a few: We are pursuing our commitment to using 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050, banned single-use plastic bags, purchased an electric vehicle and another e-bike for staff use during working hours, and provided a cash incentive to increase the energy efficiency for building projects in town.
• From single family homes to multi-unit projects, the planning and building inspection department has processed more applications than ever before.
• Our city staff is the most competent and stable it’s ever been: The finance department was honoured with a prestigious budgeting award for its transparency and public process.
Our Chief Administrative Officer is entering his sixth year of service with Rossland; a record that hasn’t been matched since 1999. The ongoing improvement in management reporting to Council is impressive. Our public works department has new leadership, and new faces, after several long-time employees retired. We now have a professional, bylaw officer (who is shared with the Village of Warfield) and a new, more efficient way to adjudicate infractions.
• Dialogue between staff and Council continues to be respectful and productive. I want to thank every one of our city employees and Councillors for their contributions to the well-being of Rossland.
Looking ahead to 2022: We will see the completion of many exciting projects, here are just a few:
• Our Official Community Plan, will be adopted and will guide us for the next eight to 10 years.
• A modernized Sub-Division and Development Servicing bylaw will be adopted, thus providing clarity for developers and contractors.
• A Recreation Master Plan will seek input from residents and will determine future investment, and direction, for recreation in our town.
• A Utility Master Plan will contribute to the continual improvement of our asset management planning and delivery of service.
• Our Short-Term Rental Policy will be revisited to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our community.
• We will seek to achieve Bear Smart Community status through WildSafeBC to reduce negative human-wildlife conflicts.
• The affordable housing and new city hall project will be completed. These permanent rental housing units will provide 37 families of modest means, a place to call home. The housing portion of the project will be managed by the Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society.
City offices will be located on the bottom floor that will finally have adequate space for employees, city records storage, a modern council chambers and community meeting space. The new building will be highly energy efficient in keeping with our commitments. Many grants were received for this project.
• Progress on both the Arts Master Plan and the Heritage Master Plan will happen with the help of volunteers; ditto for projects undertaken by the Sustainability Commission.
• Rossland continues to actively pursue Firesmart grants, goals and projects to keep our community safe.
• This is just a partial list of what is coming up.
October 2022 will see a new mayor and City Council elected. I will be retiring after 14 years on City Council, the last eight as mayor.
It has been an honour and a pleasure to serve the citizens of Rossland. Local government is very rewarding, and provides the opportunity to really make a difference, not just talk about it from the sidelines. I am excited to see who will step up to run. For anyone who is remotely interested, I strongly encourage you to attend some council meetings and read the council agenda packages. It’s so important to understand the roles and responsibilities of local government.
As this Council concludes its term, the mission statement we created is as true today as it was in 2018: “Through excellent customer service, provide valuable municipal services in a cost-effective, collaborative and cooperative manner to ensure a well-managed, well-governed, sustainable community.”
I want to thank my fellow members of Council for all their work, creativity, diligence, and collaboration. This has been another terrific team.
As an eventful 2021 has now ended, I am looking forward to a bright and productive 2022.
On behalf of the City of Rossland, I wish you and your family the very best in the New Year.