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Mayor’s Column – April 23, 2014

Meet the Mayor

April 23, 2014

The first thing that caught my eye as I came to work on April 14 was a new green fence in town. You may wonder why I would get excited over a new fence that’s too high to jump, even a green fence. This fence is a barricade, in fact, it’s a barricade to keep me out of a work site. I love work sites and I will usually accept an invitation to visit and marvel at the skill of the workers. I will especially enjoy this one as it is the site of the new municipal hall. This fence is the beginning of change in this part of town; it’s a harbinger of much more to come. Chetwynd really is going to get a new office.

I don’t remember how far back the idea of a new municipal hall was first voiced. I do know that the temporary section, the portables still housing the Council chamber, was intended to serve only five years. That must have been more than 25 years ago when Andy Teslyk was CAO. Council discussed the idea at length during one of Mayor Saugstad’s terms and began putting aside funds against the time that construction could happen. That must have been at least six years ago. Good things do take time. Perhaps, as much as anything else, good things take the will to act.

During the first year of my term as Mayor, Council began serious study of the feasibility of funding the new municipal hall. It took several iterations but eventually we struck a balance among cost, serviceability, durability, appearance, and style that met your budget and your discriminating tastes. The residents of our town went far to push Council up the hill toward a commitment to act. When we finally understood that the tax payers of town favoured our building of a new municipal hall, and more than that, they favoured our building a facility that was pleasing to look at as well as serviceable, Council said, “Let’s do it.” Only it was said in the legal format and terminology of a bylaw.

Now with the design completed, the contract with the builder signed, and the stakes in the ground, I wouldn’t be surprised if digging begins before you get to read this piece of modern literature. Take a walk-by on North Access and Hospital Roads to observe for yourselves the progress of the work.

The total cost of the project, including landscaping and paving, will approach $5 million Canadian. That’s a lot of coin no matter how you view it. One thing the project won’t cost the tax payer is an increase in your tax rate. I agree, we could have put those dollars toward other projects. We could have, but that would have condemned our hard-working Staff and Administration to more years in inadequate quarters. We chose to build and we believe that the majority of citizens in our home town agree with Council’s decision.

 

Merlin Nichols, Mayor