Meet the Mayor
August 1, 2013
Red-right-through strawberries the size of smallish cups, that actually taste like strawberries, clustered ripe on the bushes; shiny tomatoes begging to feel the bite of your teeth; and succulent cukes weighing down the vines all speak of high summer and remind us of beautiful gardens (but that’s another story for another time). Right now it’s time to stay home and experience. Why would I want to leave when summer is resting so sweetly on countryside, garden, and greenhouse? Why would I go to Victoria when everything to gladden the life and warm the soul is right here in my home town? Why?
Good questions. I thought you’d never ask.
Answer: You may remember that the District has been working for more than a year to expand the District boundaries to include the major taxable assets at Willow Creek Mine. The mineral lease has been within District boundaries since 1996 but the land generates little tax revenue. Council and Administration had been urging the Provincial government to act quickly on our request and Ministry staff were on side with us. Political considerations and a looming provincial election brought everything to a halt back in February. Now, because the former provincial government was unable to act on our request before the election, we are starting over to make our case with a new Minister and several new ministerial staff.
Hence, our flying trip last week to the Capital.
Our visit to Victoria coincided with the last day of the sitting legislature so CAO Doug, Director of Finance Bill, and I took in an hour of Question Period while we waited for our appointment with the Minister. Entertaining! Mike Bernier, our newly elected MLA for South Peace introduced us and the members gave us a truly bipartisan welcome. We also spent a productive hour with MLA Bernier bringing him up to date on the history, process, and present status of our boundary-expansion request. Fortuitously, we encountered North Peace MLA and Minister of Agriculture Pat Pimm at Vancouver Airport and briefed him on our mission thus gaining another ally.
It is difficult to weigh the impact of our half hour with the Minister of Municipal Affairs. With the hopes and fears of every municipality in the province ringing in her ears, we know that an answer will not be on our desk next week but we are hopeful for a sometime-this-fall response. Some Ministry staffers have worked on this file in the past and have its history in mind; we sense that they are at least sympathetic to our needs.
Chetwynd has secured a follow-up audience with the Minister in September at the Union of BC Municipalities convention at which we will urge the importance of resolving the boundary expansion issue sooner than later. However, the wheels of government turn very slowly though they grind exceeding small. While we wait, Chetwynd Administration will continue to contact Ministry staff to urge the process on to a successful conclusion.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor