Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison believes the city will continue to grow and prosper.
Harrison delivered an online state-of-the-city address to the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, Feb. 9. In it, he discussed infrastructure, housing, the environment, census data, the pandemic, city finances and more.
He was happy with the city’s 9.7 per cent growth between the 2016 and 2021 census. An average growth of two per cent per year is manageable, he said.
Regarding the Salmon Arm West Highway 1 four-laning project, Harrison said the city will be gaining 4.2 kilometres of access roads and multi-use paths as a result. In the spring, traffic will be rerouted to the new four-lane section.
He said a major benefit of the project is that people living west of the city can access Salmon Arm without going on the highway. As well, a multi-use pedestrian trail will be built by the Shuswap Trail Alliance to provide a safe way for people to get to Salmon Arm without a vehicle. Harrison also said the Westgate Mall intersection is going to be redone by the city.
The mayor said big projects like the Ross Street Underpass are important anytime but even more important during the pandemic. He said it keeps people working and local contractors were hired for the project. He added people coming to Salmon Arm to work on the underpass stay in the city’s hotels and eat at its restaurants.
According to Harrison, the project is 26 per cent complete and recent reports suggest completion in early 2023. Another high priority project for the city is the expansion of the wastewater treatment facility, adding capacity and eliminating odour.
Harrison said the city’s highest priority road projects are the Auto Road Connector and Lakeshore Road improvements. Most of the land has been purchased for the connector, though construction won’t start in 2022. For Lakeshore, design work for storm and water improvements as well as an active pedestrian corridor will begin in 2022.
2021 was the first year Salmon Arm reduced the greenhouse gas it produced, said Harrison. Also regarding the environment, the city’s ban on plastic bags is still a go and will be implemented July 1, 2022.
Harrison said the city’s housing task force is still active and trying to improve access to housing for residents of all incomes. He was pleased with the Larch, Birch and Cedar affordable housing projects, saying they’re a way to make a difference.
Speaking on the pandemic, Harrison reaffirmed city council’s belief vaccines are the way through it. He said 100 per cent of city employees are now double vaccinated.
The mayor said the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society has been working hard trying to attract young families to the city. The biggest barrier, however, is the cost of housing. He said construction costs factor into today’s high house prices.
On the topic of finances, Harrison said the city is in an extremely strong financial position.
“Council’s attitude is we need to continue to move forward, we believe we’re going to continue to grow and prosper and we’re going to plan that growth…” said Harrison. “We need to make sure that as we grow, we keep in mind all the reasons that we came here and add to them.”