It may have been the first meeting of the New Year, but Village of Hazelton council had a full plate at last week’s meeting.
One item of note was a letter from George Burns and Bronwyn Henwood requesting feedback on a proposed renaming of the Eagle Down Trail in Carol Huynh’s name to honour the local Olympic medalist.
“We’ve been trying to do something like this for a long time,” Village of Hazelton Mayor Alice Maitland said.
After facing some opposition from the Ministry of Highways for previous choices, community members settled on the Eagle Down Trail, which may be the best choice of all.
“It’s pretty neat because it [the trail] runs through five governments,” Maitland said.
“It links New Hazelton with Hazelton.
“It’s an important piece of work in our community.”
Thus far, four of the five governments involved have thrown their support behind the proposition.
But, if Maitland has her way, Huynh may one day be honoured in another way.
“We have dreams of having a statue at the high school,” she said.
“I think it would be kind of neat.”
In fact, Maitland already has her eye on the accomplishments of another former resident of Hazelton, to keep a statue of Huynh company.
“Alexa Ranahan earned gold as a member of the Team Canada Women’s U18 that won the world championship in Finland,” Maitland said.
“She’s a product of our ice arena.
“She’s just amazing.”
Hazelton council also received good news in the mail bag, a letter from Mary-Jane Gravelle, the Canadian Transportation Agency’s Director of Accessible Transportation Directorate, regarding the use of mobile ramps at unstaffed VIA Rail stations, especially in Terrace.
Currently, the VIA Rail station in Terrace doesn’t have a ramp which passengers can use to access the train, which can be difficult for some passengers, Maitland explained.
In her letter, Gravelle agreed with Hazelton council and committed to making a mobile ramp available at the VIA Rail station in Terrace.
When asked if New Hazelton would get a mobile ramp, Maitland laughed.
“I wouldn’t mind one in New Hazelton, right now we have to call Montreal ahead of time and then stand by the side of the track and wave the train down,” she explained.
Correspondence from both B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Bill Bennett, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development regarding council’s request for funding for the proposed Skeena Recreation Centre project, provided little hope the government would provide funding anytime soon for the SRCP.
The letters, Maitland explained, follow up on meetings Village of Hazelton council held with Clark and Bennett at last year’s Union of B.C. Municipalities conference.
“She [Clark] was really gracious, happy to see us and supportive,” Maitland said to describe the tone of the meeting.
Both Clark and Bennett were receptive to the request for funding, Maitland said, but neither came close to making a funding commitment.
Often times, Maitland said, the provincial government suggests the Village of Hazelton extend their hat towards the federal government because half of the population in Hazelton is aboriginal.
“We’re working on that,” Maitland said.
“But I do think the province has a responsibility to us as well.”
Council also heard a report from Dr. Peter Newbery who is leading the charge for the new recreation centre.
“He’s really excited and positive about other sources of funding,” Maitland shared.
“It looks very hopeful.”
He also noted there were benefits to going through the exercise as it reinforced the notion that the various communities that call the Hazeltons home need to work together.
“None of the villages or the communities can afford to have a recreation centre that means anything to their citizens unless we all work together and do something that we can operate together,” Maitland said.
“This can’t be a short-term marriage, it has to be long-term to keep it going and to run it properly.”