Council’s Corner- Year In Review

The District of Fort St. James had a busy year in 2016 with lots of exciting projects and programs taking place.

Council was able to support the community with $15,000 in Grants in Aid. These grants went to diverse community groups and individuals pursuing exciting opportunities around the world. Grants ranged from $100 to $5,000. Council is always excited to sponsor community projects and individual achievements. If you would like to apply for a grant in aid, please visit the District website or contact the Office for more information.

There were over $31,000 worth of building permits sold in 2016, representing over 4 million in construction value. The amount of these permits is positive and shows that our community is growing and developing.

Grants totalling $19,000 were awarded to five successful applicants through the Business Façade program. This is up from 2015 when just over $12,000 was distributed. This is an annual program that local businesses can apply to for new signs, siding and more! More info can be found on our website.

The District of Fort St. James had a lot of fun supporting 10 wonderful events throughout the year. Each event was a success and showed what a great place Fort St. James is to be. Events included: Winter Fest, Community to Community Forum, Pitch in Week, Bike to Work Week, Day of Mourning, Canada Day celebration, 4th Annual Night Market, the Pumpkin Walk, Remembrance Day and the Hospital Auxiliary 50th anniversary celebration.

Public Works completed all of their planned projects as well as a few unexpected ones in 2016. Extensive work went into the Fort Forum Arena thanks to a Canada 150 grant. This included new dasher boards and a new roof. Paving and patching took place around the community this summer as well as landscaping in the downtown core. Public works also completed and installed a new sign at the Community Centre. A new generator was purchased and installed for the sewer lift station, allowing the station to operate automatically when the power goes out. Watch for the Toolcat with the new sander attachment when you are out for a walk. The new sander allows for better sanding of District trails and paths. As always, Public Works helped out at community events including Canada Day, the Night Market and Music on the Mountain.

The Fort St. James Fire Department and the Northern Interior Fire Training Centre had a busy year with nine Live Fire training weekends that saw 72 members from outside departments and 13 local members receive training. The Department gained 12 new members through 3 recruit classes. Members participated in auto extrication, air brakes, ice rescue refresher and a strategy and tactics course. The Fire Department also hosted an Emergency Services Breakfast, weekly training nights, driver training, hose testing and pump operator training.

Council got down to business in 2016 and was able to accomplish a great deal by working together for the good of the community.

  • January and February saw the renewal of the Old Courthouse lease to the Community Arts Council of Fort St. James. This allowed the Arts Council to continue work on renovating the building, which is now open and known as Pope Mountain Arts. The facility hosts musical and craft events monthly. The District of Fort St. James co-hosted a Community to Community Forum with Nak’azdli Whut’en. This was a great opportunity for Council from each community to learn from one another. There was also youth involvement from the high school. Council was also busy with budget deliberations for the five-year financial plan.
  • March, April and May saw Bylaw and Policy amendments. Fort St. James residents are now permitted to keep up to four hens in their backyards for personal use. Visit our website for the full brochure. Council also completed an application to the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako Gas Tax Fund. This grant went towards the purchase of a digital cinema projector and sound equipment for the Community Centre. On May 25th Council played host to “Project Local Government”, a School District 91 program that exposes high school students to the workings of local government. Students spent the morning learning about the public administration, participated in a real Council meeting over lunch and visited Public Works and the Fire Department in the afternoon.
  • June, July and August are considered slower month in Local Government. This did not stop Council from publishing the Annual Report for 2015, participating in a tour of Mt. Milligan and receiving a report on the Community Forest. The Community Forest is doing well and continues to provide significant revenue to the District ($ 347,825 in 2016). This revenue goes towards projects that enhance the community and help diversify the local economy. Summer also saw the completion of phase one of upgrades to the Arena, including new dasher boards and glass as well as a new roof, partly funded by the Canada 150 grant program.
  • In September, four Council members participated in the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention in Victoria. This was an opportunity for Council to participate in seminars and workshops related to diverse fields in Local Government, and to have meetings with key members of the Provincial Government. Council took this time to lobby the government for funding of a new Clinic and Hospital.
  • October, November and December brought changes to Council. Councillor Nielsen took over the Housing portfolio and was able to bring together stakeholders to work on the Housing Strategy for 2017. Fort St. James had its first by-election in recent memory with four candidates putting their names forward for one vacancy. Council is happy to welcome Judy Greenaway to the position of Councillor. Judy is a long-time resident and tireless volunteer and will bring a fresh voice to Council in 2017.

Want to know more about what is happening in Fort St. James? Council meetings take place twice a month, updates can be found on the District of Fort St. James website (fortstjames.ca) as well as the Facebook page (facebool.com/fortstjames). Twice a year look for the Fort Flyer included with your utility tax notice. Council wants to make sure all residents are aware of what is going on in their community so check the Caledonia Courier quarterly for “Council’s Corner”.

Sincerely,

Mayor and Council for the District of Fort St. James

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