It was a decision that Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick wrestled with much more than he had for his previous one term on Council and two as mayor, but he has announced he will run again this fall.
McCormick said Tuesday, August 2, 2022, that he is extremely conscious that politicians have a “best before” date and he doesn’t want to exceed that.
“Every elected official has one,” he said. “But COVID has limited many of the things I hoped to accomplish, so I am seeking support for another term.”
He summed up the city’s financial position as what he’s most proud of in two terms as Mayor.
“You cannot accomplish anything without money. In 2014, Kimberley’s was in a tough financial position. Taxes were among the highest in the Kootenays; reserves needed to invest in projects were extremely low; infrastructure was aging faster than we could replace it.
“Our tax rate increases have been limited to the rate of inflation and no more – Kimberley is now middle of the pack for taxation and improving; our reserves are a healthy $25M, enabling us to fund projects without increasing taxes to cover the costs; and our infrastructure is getting newer, not older. “Taxpayers can see where their money is going and are proud of the community.”
He says he is also proud of how the city navigated COVID. Despite it being a difficult couple of years, he said everyone kept safe while being open enough to keep businesses afloat.
He says investment in the community indicates confidence in its leadership and future.
“It is the continuous investment in the community that minimizes tax rate increases, that enables the City to fund projects without going back to the taxpayers for more money and that maintains the services and amenities that make Kimberley such a great place to live.”
He also says that while wildfire mitigation efforts are not top of mind, the evacuation alert in 2018 for Kimberley, is still in his thoughts.
The city has done a lot on fuel treatments since 2006, After 2018, McCormick says he met with the Province and forestry partners to promote efforts in the Matthew creek area west of the City, the most likely path a fire would take towards the City.
“Their response has been incredible. Great progress has been made, and these efforts will continue.”
Finally, McCormick says he has developed great relationships with the people who can help get things done for Kimberley.
However, on to unfinished business.
“The wastewater treatment plant replacement is now 5 years in the making and our most critical infrastructure need. While the current facility is operating as well as it can, it is old and as a result identified by the Province as at risk. The City has done its part – a design is complete, our share of the money is in place and the borrowing referendum will be on the election ballot. We now need to get the Province to do their part.”
Another big task is diversifying the tax base.
“This has been a priority of mine for the 8 years that I have been mayor. Kimberley relies on residential taxes. It limits what the City can do without continually coming back to property owners for more money. We have made progress, but not enough. Key to making this happen is investment-ready land for commercial and light industrial development.
“We have available privately owned land in the Marysville Industrial Park. However, the area is not attractive for new businesses. There is no sewer; the roads are literally falling apart. It needs investment after years of neglect. The City owned benchland along Jim Ogilvie Way is tied up in remediation gridlock with the Ministry of Environment. I am working with Teck on a strategy to establish a second business park on their lands east of Jim Ogilvie Way.”
Kimberley’s housing needs also consume a lot of McCormick’s time.
“Although housing issues are dominating every part of the province and country right now, we are closer than most to relief. We understand the various issues and have had developers working in Kimberley throughout Covid to ready projects that will have an impact. We all need to move faster – inflation and interest rates are uncontrollable factors that are having an impact.
“Over the coming weeks, I will be sharing my priorities for the new term. They are based on what I hear from residents as their priorities for Kimberley, as well as things that I see that residents may not.
“This is our town, and our future. I am asking for your support on October 15th!”