As we enter a new decade, it’s appropriate to identify key issues and priorities for the next year, and actions that may help us to realize the opportunities before us.
A key priority at this time is the Area C Incorporation Study. To date, we have recruited 12 volunteers to serve on the Incorporation Study Committee under chair John Smith, and two meetings have been held. We are fortunate to have Mr. Smith chairing our committee as he was previously involved with incorporation studies in Barriere, Clearwater and Sun Peaks, so he brings us considerable first-hand experience. This 15-month study will provide a detailed analysis of costs and benefits of incorporation of Sorrento-Blind Bay as compared to the default option, which is the realignment of Area C into two electoral areas. It is intended to provide residents of Sorrento-Blind Bay with the critical information needed to inform their decision about local government structure going forward. I would strongly encourage all residents to participate in these monthly meetings to ensure your questions and issues are addressed.
In 2019, we have held a number of community and Newsome Creek Watershed Action Group meetings and met in person with B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth to request financial support from the province to implement a disaster mitigation plan. We are still waiting for any decisive efforts from the province to help save homes, businesses and properties in the Newsome Creek area. In 2020, we will continue efforts to obtain the results needed.
Late in 2019 the first in a series of town hall meetings was held with the topic being winter roads maintenance. That meeting was well attended and provided very positive feedback about the efforts of AIM Roads to enhance driving safety. Our next town hall session topic will be Shuswap Economic Development (SED). Previously, SED was a service provided by CSRD staff to this community but, in 2019 the CSRD board made the decision to move this function into an arms-length relationship, such as a stand-alone non-profit society. This new model is similar to that being successfully implemented in Salmon Arm and Sicamous. I look forward to obtaining community input regarding the new structure and functioning of Shuswap Economic Development at our next town hall session, and to conducting a series of sessions throughout 2020 on a variety of topics.
In 2019, the South Shuswap Transportation Society (SSTS) was formed, and has received sufficient grant funding to purchase and install an electric vehicle charging station which will occur early in 2020. We have also received funding from the CSRD, Shuswap Community Foundation and SASCU to help fund the purchase of an electric vehicle. In 2020 we will be continuing our fundraising efforts and hope to implement this vital service as soon as we have sufficient funds to purchase an electric vehicle.
In 2020, the South Shuswap Housing Society (SSHS) will be collaborating with the CSRD to conduct of a housing needs assessment study in Areas C and E. From the results, we hope to be able to better define the goals and priorities of the SSHS and our community housing needs.
In 2020, we will also be continuing efforts to develop a new community park in Eagle Bay, and to further implement the Area C Parks Plan. I look forward to collaborating with the local advisory group to help develop the plans for the new Eagle Bay Community Park.
I would also like to extend my best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year to all residents of the South Shuswap.
–Paul Demenok is the Area C Director for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District