A great deal of progress was made during 2021 in Lake Country amid the continuing social and operational challenges of leading a local government during a global pandemic that impacted construction, staffing, supply chains, community improvement initiatives and development applications.
I am grateful to my fellow council members who showed tremendous compassion, ingenuity and generosity of spirit in tackling the issues that arose this year; and to the dedicated district staff that continued the hard work involved in achieving council’s strategic goals for the community.
The outstanding volunteers, service clubs, agencies and community organizations in Lake Country are also very deserving of acknowledgment for the part they play in making Lake Country a desirable place to live and work.
The multi-generational activity centre located in the Nexus activity hub to support the Seniors’ Centre and BGC Okanagan programming plus additional childcare spaces was completed this fall.
Other significant projects this year were the Bottom Wood Lake Road upgrades and active transportation improvements to get more people walking and cycling around the community between homes, businesses, schools and parks; and the new Station 71 Fire Hall to contribute to safety and emergency response.
We also got a new tactical tender fire truck for the community that is designed to target a major threat to our area – wildland urban interface structure protection.
It was used by our firefighters as they assisted other communities around us hit by wildfire this summer.
We are excited to be working jointly with OKIB on planning an Indigenous Cultural Centre at a major access point to the Okanagan Rail Trail.
This year, we added an Indigenous acknowledgment to the beginning of each council meeting to remind us all of the importance of reconciliation and continuous work to build respectful relationships that contribute to stewarding the land and waters in the community with integrity and consideration for future generations.
This year a new Community Engagement Grant program was launched.
Council also approved requests for funding towards accessibility projects like the Maki Road Trail handrail, the Coral Beach north trail improvements, and tennis and pickleball facility improvements.
Another specific grant-in-aid request was approved to assist with a community fridge project.
Community members were more involved than ever and provided their input through the budget process during a Facebook Live broadcast, phone calls and direct message interactions.
On the liquid waste management plan, 30 questions were submitted and answered through the Let’s Talk online platform. Not to mention, the 594 views of the Poop 101 video after people saw the poop emoji walking around town bringing the topic to the community’s attention.
Citizens will be asked for their feedback on the recommended action plan in the spring. We continue to receive more development and building applications and new project requests than ever with a leaner complement of staff.
We recognize the capacity of staff is diminished right now and processing times are taking longer than anyone desires.
Our planning and development team have been working on streamlining processes over the long term to help out those that come forward with complete, well-thought-out applications that fit within our zoning and OCP bylaws.
Development also helps with community amenities like the new pedestrian bridge over Middle Vernon Creek. The bridge was contributed by the developer of the property at 9950 Bottom Wood Lake Rd. in conjunction with the subdivision and development of that property. The bridge replaced an old structure connecting the trails between Swalwell Park and the trails behind the IGA and Winfield Bakery.
We have weathered significant rainfall without failures in storm drains this year due to the work that has been done to improve municipal infrastructure serving the community.
When I was first elected as mayor, I was getting a call after every rainfall about water running into someone’s yard. We also made some good progress on water infrastructure improvements like the Okanagan Lake pumphouse upgrades this year.
The families with students at Oyama Traditional School have appreciated the parking and traffic flow improvements for safety of our young people getting picked up and dropped off at school; and the basic improvements to the Woodsdale pathway from Seymour Road to Highway 97 have helped with safety of pedestrians, cyclists and mobility aid users until an updated design and construction can happen along that corridor in Winfield.
This community is remarkably resilient as we see from the support throughout the year’s constantly changing COVID-19 participant protocols for recreational programs and sports, arena use, arts, cultural and live entertainment shows.
2021 has been quite a year!