The BC Housing/Canadian Mental Health Association project at 540 3rd St. SW in Salmon Arm, with 67 affordable housing units and 38 units with on-site supports for people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, is progressing on schedule. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Column: Developments in 2019 that will help shape Salmon Arm’s future

Council Report by Tim Lavery

Here’s a look at five happenings from 2019 that will shape Salmon Arm for the future. Some are community inspired; some are initiatives of council looking forward; and some are outside lenses looking in at our community.

The first is the curbside organics program that started in July. The phrase “win-win” is often overused but it is definitely applicable to this city initiative. Organics are not only diverted from the landfill, thereby notably increasing its lifespan, but there’s also a significant reduction in GHG emissions – by a factor of 20 – through the organic composting process rather than the methane generated through landfilling.

Residents want to do their best with organics and recycling in addition to reducing single plastic bag use. We’ve responded enthusiastically to a more sustainable waste-management strategy.

Work has started on highway improvements to the west, the Ross Street underpass and the reconfiguration of the Trans-Canada Highway flow downtown. All are important infrastructure enhancements for traffic and pedestrian safety. All got tangible starts in 2019 with more to come in 2020.

The opening of the Downtown Farmers Market and the raising of the Treble Clef are all about place-making as Salmon Arm designs and repurposes our downtown spaces. These 2019 initiatives create a vibrancy of public place where folks and producers of local goods and food can gather.

Read more: Expansion sought for campground at Salmon Arm music festival

Read more: From curb to compost: Tracking Salmon Arm’s food waste collection program

Significant progress in increasing affordable housing, gaining more childcare services and advocating to increase the social safety net for our vulnerable residents was notable this year. While there’s certainly more work to be done, community organizations and the city have been actively collaborating on these matters – and it shows.

Finally, the outside world has taken notice of Salmon Arm in 2019. Our Maclean’s ranking as the #1 best community in B.C. to live in (#6 best in Canada), plus the recent BC Business Magazine #7 ranking as the best place to work in B.C. reflect what our city has to offer. The combination of quality of life and economic opportunity is a compelling narrative to be sure. Rankings are just one aspect though. It’ll be incumbent on all of us to ensure that these attributes are maintained as pressures of growth bring further challenges. That’ll be an ongoing conversation for 2020 and beyond.

On behalf of Salmon Arm council: Happy New Year everyone. We’re looking forward to working together to accomplish even more Big Ideas for 2020.

Tim Lavery is a councillor with the City of Salmon Arm.

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