Reflecting upon the past year serving the community, I have come to the realization that there is much on the go and much has been accomplished by our local government. A number of road improvements, for instance, have been completed, bringing with them a much higher sense of safety in the community. Lodge Road is an example and as I am writing this article, Lake Country staff members are working on an even safer path for pedestrians reaching from the Copper Hill subdivision down to Lodge, especially students that go to and from George Elliott Secondary. But I also think of the important improvements on Davidson Road, Camp Road, and Robinson Road to cite a few. Even the provincial work on the new Highway 97 section, which will be finished in the summer of 2013, is seen as a major improvement that will definitely benefit the community. Since I have moved to Lake Country, my family and I have been a bit reticent in driving along Wood Lake at night and even during the day on those gloomy cold days in the snow or rain – that section of the Highway is not safe and the new section is a great relief to all drivers.
The District is also actively working to solve many issues related to water service and quality. The major one is the water quality in Oyama. Finally it can be said that much improvement is being made through the Kalamalka Lake Interconnect project that will be completed in the spring of 2013. The improvements will be fully available at that time and the Oyama residents will be able to finally access good quality water, something they have not enjoyed probably for as long as they lived there. The major drive for this focus is the Water Master Plan, which has been in the works for three years now. The final version was presented to the Water Advisory Committee which unanimously recommended Council's approval. As I wrote many times before, the Plan provides a 20-Year infrastructure vision that comes with a cost, but a necessary one, and Council just approved the necessary increases over the next four years to get on with the Plan - $50 a year per residential property on the District's water system beginning in 2013 and ending in 2016. This was not an easy decision by Council but was supported by the findings in the Water Master Plan and even pushed a bit by some mandated requirements from Interior Health. But this is positive because water, after air, is the most precious commodity we have. For years we have lived ignoring the reality that water, like everything else, is not endless and that, as any other organic material, is subject to possible contamination. Lake Country is certainly leading the Valley in ensuring protection of this critical resource in terms of quality and conservation and other governments are looking at the District's Plan as an example of a progressive approach to deal with such an important issue.
Other things are also happening. I can think of the healthy reorganization the District went through this year. This has improved a number of processes and is going to also provide needed funds for important infrastructure projects, which are suffering from the lack of grants available from both the federal and provincial governments because of the economic times we are living. Staff have been praised a number of times for changing gears in dealing with "customers" and in processing applications. With the rare exception, the level of satisfaction from members of the public has exponentially increased.
The addition of an Economic Development Officer has also introduced an element of energetic marketing activity that is bringing much deserved attention from investors in diverse areas of the Country, and even from across the border. A big piece of land on Main Street has finally been sold to a developer and we are waiting to hear about another piece of land on the same street that has captured the interest of a number of investors with an ambitious vision for the Town Centre.
There is more but suffices to say that it seems to me that Lake Country is gaining momentum. And it will do more so once a sustainable plan for the whole community is initiated and completed. The District has received a grant for this and it is in the process of selecting a firm to guide the community through the process. This plan – which is formally called the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) – will be prepared with the purpose of creating a holistic community vision in the four pillars of quality living: economic, social, environmental, as well as land use and infrastructure. This plan is so critical that a number of other plans have been put on hold until the ICSP is completed and approved. Furthermore, the public and community stakeholders will be directly and extensively involved in the creation of the plan because this is theirs – or ours as I live here with my family.
So stay tuned and be ready to participate!