Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach speaks about the state of the town during the monthly Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Pioneer Activity Centre Jan. 24. (Thom Barker photo)

Smithers in very good shape: Bachrach

Possible tax increases on the horizon for asset management

“Smithers is in very good shape.”

That was Mayor Taylor Bachrach’s primary message at the Smithers District Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon Jan. 24 at Pioneer Activity Centre.

“We have solid infrastructure, we have a vibrant business community and we’re a place where people want to live and, really, those things in many ways set us apart from many other communities,” he said.

The mayor pointed to several major projects as positive accomplishments in 2018.

Among these was major renovations of the airport, which he told gathered business leaders was 90 per cent complete and on track to be finished this year, although he had no solid completion date to offer.

He also reported the new 24-unit supportive housing development on Railway Avenue is now accepting applications.

On the new library and art gallery, Bachrach noted the Town’s $12 million grant application has been finalized and local fundraising efforts have surpassed the halfway mark toward taking advantage of Harvey and Corry Tremblay’s offer to contribute up to $1 million in matching funds.

Million-dollar culture centre donation

Bachrach predicted the new facility would not only be a modern and efficient home for the library and gallery, but would support downtown businesses by being a draw to the town’s core.

He expects an answer on the grant from the Province by the fall.

Finally, the mayor said, the Town was able to leverage provincial compensation for area firefighters who helped with wildfire mitigation last year toward replacing a 30-year-old fire engine.

Bachrach acknowledged there are challenges ahead, particularly in complying with the provincially-mandated sustainable asset management regime.

“A lot of our infrastructure was built in the 1960s, 1970s and we’ve never really had a cohesive plan for maintaining it and replacing it over time,” he said. “Unfortunately, every time a new asset management report comes out, it shows that we’re behind and we’ve got to catch up.”

The mayor cited a study indicating the Smithers’ annual budget for paving should be in the $900,000 range, but is currently only $400,000. That will be increased by $60,000 this year and $50,000 per year over the next four years of the Town’s five-year plan.

Bachrach admitted that could mean tax increases.

“The thing about asset management and the infrastructure deficit, is that deficit has to be funded some way and property taxes are one of the only tools that municipalities have at their disposal and have control over to meet those needs,” he said.

Bachrach concluded his remarks by honouring Leslie Ford, the Town’s director of finance, who will be retiring this year after 20 years of service.

Just Posted

Sole searching: How the man in the shoe spends his days

Interior News gets rare look inside Kitseguecla shoe house with tour led by owner Toby Walsh

Housing affordability in Northern B.C. sees slight improvements: report

Higher paying jobs mitigating effects of increased housing prices, Realtor says

Repen: FOI data proves Telkwans being ripped off by ICBC

Former Telkwa mayor received a response from ICBC and says the results don’t look good for residents

Fires still burning near Telegraph Creek

BC Wildfire Service assures residents of a proactive plan heading into wildfire season

Northwest entrepreneurs pitch their plans for cash prizes

ThriveNorth announces 12 finalists in this year’s business challenge

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

Vintage bottles, magic cards, a 1969 Playboy: Quirky items found in historic B.C. buildings

Crews set aside some of the funkier pieces emerging from the construction rubble

Easter bombings a response to New Zealand attacks, says Sri Lanka minister

The Islamic State group asserted it was responsible for the nine bombings

Man charged in fatal Salmon Arm church shooting to appear in court

Matrix Savage Gathergood charged with first degree murder, aggravated assault

RCMP looking to retrace steps of woman found dead on Kelowna beach

Caitlin Midori Bradley, a 29-year-old dancer at a Kelowna bar, was originally from Surrey

Two back-to-back earthquakes strike off Vancouver Island

The first earthquake happened at 1:27 p.m., the second at 2:44 p.m.

PHOTOS: New commemorative loonie marks progress’ for LGBTQ2 people

But advocates say it mistakenly suggests equality has been achieved largely as a result of government actions

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

PHOTOS: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says ‘I do’ on Earth Day

May and John Kidder got married Monday morning in Victoria

Most Read