Many people in the community have provided positive feedback to the work we are doing. From the projects focused on the roads and other infrastructure to the current organizational restructuring, from the approval of a comprehensive community plan to the way “customers” are treated at Lake Country’s Municipal Hall, to cite a few examples, members of the community are grateful for what is happening. They also acknowledge that we still need further improvements – recognizing that making continual efforts to improve is part of every organization’s life. Perfection is not found in this world.
As I am asked for more details of what’s happening in the District coupled with a desire to keeping the community in the loop, let me share with you some of the progress we are making and how it is benefiting the community.
Lake Country is one of the first municipalities in BC that has recognized and taken action on the need for a proper infrastructure planning – we are ahead of many others in BC and also in Canada. At the beginning of 2010, a tragic accident brought to the attention of the full community the need for a coordinated, priority driven approach to infrastructure projects. I remember reading an editorial in one of the local newspapers after the accident in 2010 saying that Bottom Wood Lake road would never be rebuilt – because of funding. Well, we are rebuilding it, aren’t we? And not only that. The District has courageously taken the infrastructure challenge to another level and completed some remarkable projects. Lodge Road, Davidson Road, Camp Road are just some examples of what has been accomplished with the needs and safety of all users in mind. The money has come as a combination of different factors: grants from different governments and agencies, savings from organizational restructuring at the Municipal Hall, reserves accumulated from previous years (and administrations) and some new growth.
The same has happened with our water and sewer systems. Critical improvements have been made in the last four years. The Kalamalka Lake Water Treatment Plan and Interconnect project and the doubling of our Sewage Treatment Plan are just two examples. Our Water Master Plan is on target and with the installation of water meters in the next couple of years, we will be able to truly improve consumption and water waste – which is an issue in the Okanagan more than in other regions in our province. Also, we are recognized as having some of the best playing fields turf and arena ice in the region which are maintained by a superb staff that has proven competent and professional over and over again. What a difference that makes in a “small in population” but “large in land” community.
In order to accomplish many of these projects, the District needs to have an organization that is built around the priorities of Council. The restructuring of the last two years has molded the District organization to one that can deal with the new realities we are facing. Some positions were eliminated and some new ones created to reflect Council’s objectives. In the end, there is a net decrease in staff numbers of 9 positions with substantial long term savings to the taxpayers. This allows us to continue to improve on the capital plans we have and is positioning Lake Country to be a more proactive player when it comes to its services to the community.
The changes have also impacted the way we do business. The consistent positive feedback we have received from residents and taxpayers shows that changing systems and processes is needed and should occur on a regular basis. This is no different than adapting plans to a changed environment and changing needs. For instance, our Official Community Plan was approved in 2010. A good practice is to review such a critical document every five to six years because circumstances change and what was good in 2010 may not be in 2016.
Finally, two more points I’d like to share.
First of all, we have streamlined operations and processes – especially in the area of planning and land use development. Timing for processing land use applications has been cut to about half of the time we used to spend on processing them.
And last but not least, we have worked and are continuing to work hard to focus on Council’s priorities. For instance, Council’s top priority is to develop Main Street through a proactive Economic Development plan. So Council created an Economic Planning & Development Commission and authorized the hiring of an Economic Development Manager (EDM) for the District to directly deal with Lake Country’s needs. This has begun bearing fruits as one development application was completed successfully a couple of years ago and a much larger one is underway with rezoning bylaw at third reading. This has been possible because our EDM is constantly promoting Lake Country and contacting potential investors.
I am thankful for all the support we have received to date from members of the community and we hope you will continue to show support as we move forward to enhance the life of all Lake Country residents.