For the first time in three terms, Armstrong Mayor Chris Pieper has been getting used to working with new faces.
For consecutive terms, Pieper had worked with the same team of councillors.
While Paul Britton, Shirley Fowler and Ron (Sully) O’Sullivan remain, John Trainor, Ryan Nitchie and Kelly Rowe decided not to seek re-election in the November 2014 municipal vote.
Their spots were taken by Linda Werner, Steven Drapala and Lance McGregor, who have spent the last year learning the ropes but also being put to work by the mayor.
“The three new members have all had a great opportunity to get their feet wet and get involved in everything,” said Pieper. “At the beginning of December (2015), we changed the committees around to give them more opportunities.”
The most difficult thing about getting used to a new council over the past year, said Pieper, is not taking things for granted.
“We have tried to include the new members in the history of the decision-making and information on items that they didn’t have,” said Pieper. “It’s turned out real well. I’m happy with the new and old councillors.”
Pieper and company are wrapping up a year that saw a major road reconstruction project on Okanagan Street completed under time and with little delays and impact.
They watched the beginning of the Armstrong Spallumcheen fire hall expansion begin, the first such expansion in the building’s nearly 35-year history. That project is expected to be finished by the end of June.
The Nor-Val Sports Centre celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2015.
“All of those projects are really tough to get approved, but they are all such a core of the community,” said Pieper. “Can you imagine, say, Vernon, not having its performing arts centre of Kal Tire Place?”
Planning for another big year in 2016 has already begun.
The city’s new building inspection service will begin in a few weeks though an open house to meet the new inspectors was held in early January.
The city is getting ready to present its master water plan in January.
“We’ve added to the scope of it, adding an analysis of all of Spallumcheen’s water systems that the city serves,” said Pieper. “We’ll have a good inventory of what’s out there. We’ll be working on conservation, capacity and distribution of water.”
The city is also looking at its waste water and sewer plan, which includes potentially relocating part of the sewer plant from downtown to Thomas Hayes Road in Spallumcheen.
Pieper said the city will continue its goal of one major capital infrastructure project a year for the next three-to-four years, and working with the chamber of commerce and local business to enhance the business environment.
“We want to make Armstrong a special, little destination place to shop for all of your essential and daily needs,” he said.
“We want to work to enhance tourism opportunities in Armstrong and Spallumcheen.”
New faces, old faces, and a thriving community, which includes a 50 per cent increase in housing starts.
All are part of the reason Pieper enjoys coming to work every day.
“We have a strong council that’s looking to the betterment of Armstrong,” he said. “We’re here to make Armstrong and Spallumcheen a better place to live.”
The city is also looking forward to a potential trip to its new sister city, Rathrfriland, Northern Ireland, in the fall, and the arrival of a refugee family in the community sometime in 2016.