WE WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER 2010 as the year Princeton won the Gamestown Gold Medal and we will remember the pride our community displayed to earn that recognition. 2010 was a year where we not only celebrated our 150th birthday, but we saw a large number of major projects begin, move towards completion or be declared to be complete. We saw the mine undertake massive construction with a proposed opening sometime in the late spring, as well we experienced the resultant increased business so welcome to our service and retail industry. I would like to try to provide a review of the projects and initiatives that took place in 2010.
PROJECTS FUNDED BY THE GAMESTOWN 2010 $100,000 gold medal award are in various stages of completion. The bike park was ready last fall, some improvements to the Riverside Center basketball court have been installed with the rest waiting for warmer weather, as is the playground equipment which has arrived and is awaiting installation. The lighting on the Trans Canada Trail so far completed looks superb; we can imagine how great the entire trail from the Bridge of Dreams to the tunnel will look when the lighting is completed this spring. The improvements on the trail welcome visitors from elsewhere but just as important they satisfy a long awaited walking path for our residents and help provide a healthy living and active lifestyle.
THE LIBRARY IS NOW COMPLETED; it is a bright, open and inviting facility that seems to be perfectly situated next to the Veteran’s Square which itself saw final completion in time for the Traditional Music Festival last summer. The library complex provides the library, public washrooms, as well as a conference room that is available for groups and because of the condition of the town hall is being utilized by council for their meetings. Adjacent to the library is the new Arts council gallery which features art creations for viewing or purchase by a number of gifted local artists, again a perfect location near our town square.
THE RAY JARVIS AIRPORT TERMINAL was completed which reflected Councillor Jarvis’s long and unwavering effort to bring improvement to the airport. The fuel system, another enhancement, brought in $8,000 in profit. The airport committee is envisioning hangars that will provide non-tax revenue for airport income.
THE MUSEUM EXPANSION AND RENOVATION requests for proposals have been received, since the work is mostly indoors, it is hoped that construction can begin as soon as possible. The renovated and expanded museum will feature all of the previous artifacts as well as those that we did not have display space for; in addition initiatives will be taken to bring the collection to life and make the displays more interactive.
THE WATER INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS are nearing completion, East Princeton and the airport residences as well as Jacobsen Road are up and running. The water extension to the Deerview area is very close to completion, and it should be noted that this line coming down from the airport enabled us to twin the infrastructure and install sewer capabilities to the airport area at a substantially reduced cost. We are also completing a GWUDI water supply analysis. GWUDI stands for Ground Water Under Direct Influence and it is a rating of our water system. The analysis will tell us what may be required, if anything, in further protecting our community water system from possible surface water influences, it will also investigate the capacity of our wells and will indicate the time to start establishing a reserve for another well. The other relevant aspect is Princeton’s water use, which is somewhere near 4 times the national per capita average and underscores the commitment we must have to deal with that excessive consumption.
THE INDUSTRIAL PARK awaits only the final stages of the sewer line and natural gas installations, the lots will then feature all utilities. We are pleasantly surprised with the interest shown this early on; we are negotiating on 2, have accepted offers on 1 and have closed on 2 properties. I would someday like to see a wood burning green-energy facility reducing Weyerhaeuser and Princeton Co-gen’s substantial utility bills as well as supplying economical green heat to industries situated above in our industrial park. Princeton Industrial Estates now features the intersection of Laurie Currie Way and David Brown Way, a tribute to two men who spent much of their lives making Princeton a better place to live.
OUR SEWER SYSTEM CAPACITY AND EVALUATION REVIEW is expected shortly. We are confident that the system is quite adequate for the present. However, if there are improvements forecast for the future we need to start planning and saving for them now. Recognizing that we wish to be a green municipality and that Princeton is situated on the confluence of two rivers, our council has undertaken a policy of requiring sewer service rather than septic in new developments and as a result we require a full understanding of our municipal sewer system efficiency and capacity.
2010 SAW THE GRANTING OF A COMMUNITY FOREST LICENSE to Princeton, Area H and the Upper Similkameen Indian Band. This is an area based license and will enable the three partners to harvest 20,000 cubic meters a year as well as pine beetle affected timber in our operating area. Weyerhaeuser will manage the harvesting and silviculture as they did with our previous license yet we will require community input to enhance recreational and outdoor activities wherever possible. Harvesting is expected to begin immediately following breakup, approximately the month of June.
THOMPSON RIVERS UNIVERSITY CONDUCTED A TOURISM STRATEGY for Princeton this past year with funding provided by SIBAC and the federal Western Economic Diversification fund. Mapping of our tourism assets, suggestions for signage, marketing with a particular emphasis on the internet as well as direction in highlighting all the features of China Ridge Recreation Area were some of the proposals that were highlighted. Work will continue with marketing and promotion of a China Ridge winter weekend filled with activities. As well, the tourism strategy has revealed a number of worthwhile project concepts and initiatives for Council and the Chamber to consider.
THE OLD HIGHWAYS MAINTENANCE PROPERTY was sold to Jacobs and Willis Co. developers, and construction has begun on the development which will provide residential lots as well as townhouse and condominium housing adjacent to our downtown. Phase 1 residential lots are on the market and will be ready for early spring housing construction. Off-site infrastructure construction on adjacent Rocklin Ave. will be undertaken as soon as weather allows. We continue to work with the Yard and other potential residential developments to provide reasonably priced lots for new employees in the community. Although there were unforeseen difficulties with the excess airport property we hope to develop residential lots sometime in the future.
THE POSSIBILITY OF A SIMILKAMEEN RIVER DAM was the subject of two presentations made to us by Fortis; they were describing where they were in the feasibility process. It will be a long process in any case but the positive benefits seem endless, a more steady year-round flow of water for ground water down our valley, less chance for flooding due to the stable release of water, a recreational lake some 14 kilometers in length, a power producing installation which will benefit the mine both through adjacent energy and lower pumping costs as a result of the height of the reservoir. Discussions are taking place with the Americans which could mean joint funding for the controlled water supply our dam would create for their power projects and irrigation as well as a reduction in their Shankar’s Bend dam options, the largest which would have involved very controversial flooding of the Similkameen Valley towards Cawston. The low rainfall trends we are experiencing in recent years really lends itself to storing water and releasing it steadily year round rather than a huge percentage of the volume travelling by during the month or so of the high water freshet.
RECENTLY WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO UNDERTAKE A NUMBER OF SIGNIFICANT PROJECTS in our community and there are a number of reasons for that. The federal and provincial extensive grant funding, the competency of our senior staff in satisfying grant requirements, and the fact the municipality held enough in reserves to take advantage of the funding without having to borrow and pay interest. This was no accident; in our financial plan we determined some time ago that a municipality our size required a certain level of reserves and those levels need to be maintained in order to forego any unforeseen circumstances as well as take advantage of funding opportunities
WE HAVE PURCHASED THE PROPERTY next to the town hall and we are endeavouring to consolidate funding in the near future in order to construct a new municipal building and move away from the spiraling costs of maintaining our present building.
FINALLY it is our intention to have all pertinent information presented in order to hold a referendum that will provide council with direction on the ACQUATIC CENTER PROPOSAL. We have had preliminary discussions with the Premier as well as federal MP’s and provincial MLA’s in order to determine a level of funding they might be able to make available, however the economic times indicate that those funds will really have to be lobbied for. In order to realistically obtain any commitment from upper level government we will need a positive referendum result from the town and Area H to show the level of commitment if that is the wish of the people. All in all 2010 was a year where Princeton moved forward to take advantage of the many positive changes we are experiencing.