Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick.

Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick.

Kimberley Mayor talks housing, waste water treatment plant, wildlife

Mayor Don McCormick spoke to Kimberley residents directly through his Facebook page last week, and he has outlined a number of issues that concern him, and a number of clarifications on issues concerning citizens.

He says he is becoming alarmed by an increasing attitude of ‘better to build it elsewhere’ that confronts virtually every new project in Kimberley.

“I appreciate that many of us do not like change,” he said. “It means adjustment. However, we live in a community that requires a degree of growth in order for residents to afford to live here. No new homes means no new taxes which means higher taxes for existing homes. This in turn means higher rents. The alternative is less service. The community is clear – we all want the same or better service but do not want taxes raised!”

Some context and a few myth busters…

HOUSING

Recent Statistics Canada data says about 62 per cent of Canadians own homes. That makes 38 per cent that rent. Communities with tourism economies tend to have a higher demand for rental as tourism industry service jobs pay about $20/hour.

We have close to 1800 people over the age of 65, with an increasing number wanting to downsize from large family homes to condos that are easier to live in and maintain. Where are they to go? Penticton?

So much is in the news about the cost of housing. The cost of construction is what it is. If we want more attainable housing it needs to be by living smaller – smaller lots, smaller footprints and higher density.

The City of Kimberley received results of a Housing Needs Assessment last month. It validated through hard data the points above (and more) and made recommendations that we are acting on. It is one of the decision making tools we are using to help promote attainable housing for those that need a place to live.

WASTEWATER TREATMENT FACILITY (sewage plant)

I have heard several people say that we cannot have anymore population growth because the waste water treatment facility is at capacity. It is not. It was designed for 12,000 people and at 8,000 we are nowhere close to capacity. The issue with the treatment facility is age and technology. Designed in the 1960’s, we are under ministerial direction to replace it. City staff continue to work on the replacement as fast as this huge $70+M project will go. We have a design which is now undergoing what is called ‘value engineering’ – having a third party validate the design, a process that is mandated by the Province if we wish to receive a grant.

As the completion date of a new facility is measured in years, the City is investing in maintenance activities needed to bring the odour situation at the current facility under control. This maintenance has long been deferred and we must catch up if the problem is to be mitigated.

TRAFFIC

Increased traffic and associated safety continually comes up as reasons not to allow anyone else in – a neighbourhood or the City for that matter. Part of every development application is an assessment of parking, traffic flow, volumes, etc. by the Planning department. They consult the Ministry of Transportation, ICBC and various traffic engineers on impacts and best practices. No development is permitted if there are issues or concerns.

SCHOOLS

Schools are also a topic of conversation as all four of our schools are reaching capacity. Full schools and baby carriages are sign of vitality in the community. This is a huge part of our vibe that everyone talks about. I am proud of the relationship we have with our schools, but the City of Kimberley has no authority over the schools in town. School District 6 (offices in Invermere) informs the City of material changes, but are solely responsible for our education system.

WILDLIFE

Wildlife is another hot topic due to recent deer-human incidents, at least one which resulted in hospitalization. The City of Kimberley has no authority to deal with wildlife within the City. The Province defines which tools are available, and Provincial employees (conservation officers) are called to deal with problem animals – deer, bears, or other. The tools available are very limited at this point, including translocation (due the emergence of Chronic Wasting Disease). The City continues to work with the Province on wildlife management practices.

We share our space with wildlife, so it is the responsibility of every person living here to avoid conflicts with animals by knowing what and when high risk situations occur. There is lots of education material available through WildSafe BC (https://wildsafebc.com/). Examples include that dogs are seen as predators by deer, that high incident fawning season is June, etc. Be educated and be safe.

“Thank you to everyone for your patience and acceptance as our community evolves. It is truly a great place to be!”



carolyn.grant@kimberleybulletin.com

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