March 8, 2017
The years slip by so quickly we would scarcely notice their passage if it were not for certain events and accomplishments marking the way.
Chetwynd has had several exceptional accomplishments and events over the past year that we can note with satisfaction in no order of magnitude or importance. The inauguration of the new sewer treatment plant that has reduced our Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) count to almost zero comes to mind. This accomplishment has been noticed by Ministry of Environment (MOE) officials and Chetwynd is no longer on the list of offenders. For a couple of years while planning and construction were in progress this was not the case and the MOE was expressing deep concern. The commercial sewer dumpster near the commercial water source on Nicholson Road is still under construction. When completed, this facility will have the capacity to detect illegal dumping of restricted materials and may allow the District to open its facilities to revenue-generating services.
Late in 2016 the new access from Highway 29 to the Industrial Park was opened for service with paving to be completed in 2018. I find this access particularly helpful and an enjoyable alternative to driving through downtown.
Street upgrading goes on each year almost as a matter of course and over the next decade the District should see most of its streets brought up to an acceptable standard. Concurrent with the upgrading of street surfaces will be the upgrading of sub-surface infrastructure as noted in the capital plan.
Chetwynd’s response to the flood of June, 2016, required a major outlay of funds. While 80% of the cost of repairs can be recovered, the restoration still had a major impact on operating and capital budgets. Once again I want to record my deep appreciation for those who went beyond the call of duty to limit the flood damage and return our home town to its natural beauty and function. That said, we can expect additional expenditures in coming years to hedge the community against future similar events.
I have written on other occasions of Chetwynd’s dependence on wheels to keep its economy moving. If anything, this dependence is accelerating. With Conuma Coal moving into full-operation mode at Brule and Wolverine mines, we see the dependence in stark reality with coal trucks parked where drivers can find space to park them. This challenge will have to be solved sooner than later for the peace of mind, safety, and quiet enjoyment of our town. In the meantime, Chetwynd’s traditional dependence on trucking to support the timber industry is not diminishing.
On the lighter side, after a successful season of serving the tourist traffic, the newly renovated Tourist Information Centre was made available to the Arts Council for the winter months. Perhaps there is room for a permanent association.
Finally, I want to acknowledge and appreciate Chetwynd’s on-going relationship with Northern Health. Throughout 2016 the medical occupancy of the new clinic slowly climbed bringing a corresponding improvement in service to residents. At the time of writing five physicians and one nurse practitioner are providing patient care in the clinic and hospital.
Recruiting and retaining of professionals, medical and otherwise, is always front and centre in our plans and we do not expect this to change in the future. In fact, it won’t change.
Success and blessings to all as we continue to move through 2017.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor