Coldstream is getting ready for what will be a busy year ahead.
Parks and development are just a couple items on the district’s 2012 agenda, says newly re-elected Mayor Jim Garlick.
Greater Vernon’s parks department recently purchased the 100 remaining acres on Middleton Mountain and Garlick is eager to establish a new park which would benefit Coldstream, Vernon and Area B.
The proposed sports complex at Okanagan College is another local feature Garlick sees benefitting the entire region.
“Everybody from the young playing football and hopefully track and field to a cardiac clinic…and working with Sovereign Lake to make Vernon a year-round training destination for cross-country.”
A timeline for a referendum to borrow up to $7.8 million for the facility still has to be determined at the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee.
On the commercial development end of things, work is underway ironing out some of the details for the Trintec development on Highway 6 (next to the Regional District of North Okanagan office).
The development has been on the books for years as the owners try to attract an anchor tenant for the commercial complex.
“We want something unique,” said Garlick, of Coldstream’s vision for a shopping centre that does not include any major tenant such as Wal-Mart.
“If we just create something that already exists, it’s not going to work.”
Coldstream is also open to development in the proposed town centre on Kalamalka Road, surrounding the municipal office and Coldstream Elementary.
Although there are no concrete plans yet, a vision has been created and several properties in the area are in the process of changing zoning from agricultural to a new proposed town centre mixed-use zoning.
In Lavington, a major industrial purchaser is still being sought for the old glass plant property.
“There have been some interested buyers but all they want to do is subdivide it into one hectare lots,” said Garlick, who prefers a buyer that would bring jobs to the area.
“By doing that, you limit what would go in there.
“I’d like to see somebody come in that is actually going to build something.”
Another major issue facing Coldstream is legal action.
The municipality, along with the Regional District of North Okanagan, faces four charges in relation to a foreign substance entering the Antwerp Springs water source in January 2010. The contamination forced thousands of Coldstream residents to abandon their drinking water.
“We feel we have a good case to defend ourselves,” said Garlick, adding that the district did everything it could to protect residents.
With that in mind, Garlick is questioning the need for costly legal action against them.
“To hold us up as an example, this is a very expensive way to do that,” said Garlick, adding that Crown has not even shared what penalty is being sought.
“I think somebody at the provincial level really dropped the ball letting this go forward.”
But if any good can come out of this court case, says Garlick, it is that stricter regulations are finally being put in place by senior governments.
A white paper (draft legislation) on manure management is being drawn up to better protect local water sources from contamination.
“They can’t tell us to keep our water standards up here if they don’t give us the tools to do it,” said Garlick, of the legislation that Coldstream officials insist they’ve been pressuring the provincial government for even before the 2010 incident.
Coldstream’s mayor is confident the court case will wrap up in 2012, but he is cautious it will impact ongoing budget discussions. Money was set aside in previous years for legal costs, but there may be a need to replenish reserves.
Other factors being considered in determining a tax increase are: increased policing costs, a one per cent B.C. Transit increase (for the new transit facility on 25th Avenue), borrowing $1.3 million for the new mechanics shop and public works yard (a tax increase of $22.64 for the average home) and the potential impact of a CUPE agreement.
“We don’t want anything too extreme,” said Garlick of a possible tax hike, while also noting that Coldstream has one of the lowest tax rates per capita in B.C.
Two potential budget impacts, whether for this year or future years, include setting up a fund to address drainage issues in Coldstream (of note is Coldstream Estates), a liquid waste management plan (which will compare the costs of Coldstream having its own treatment plant) and looking at phase two of the agricultural plan.