The Smithers District Chamber of Commerce swore in three new and two returning board members last week during a Zoom roundtable, which included recaps on past activities and updates on upcoming ones.
Returning members are George Whitehead and Trevor Morris, with new board members, Paddy Hirshfield, Dr. Titi Kunkel and Travis Nanninga.
Mayor Gladys Atrill gave a brief recap of town activities such as the Blue Bin recycling program resuming, remediation of the LB Warner site continuing, the Main Street project moving ahead this spring and summer, planning for the consolidation of the two ice plants at the arenas, the 100 year anniversary of the town of Smithers’ incorporation, and efforts continuing by the town for bank stabilization of the river by the airport and Rosenthal Road.
Atrill also advised the business community that as there was no increase to taxes in the 2020 budget, there would be a tax increase this year of just over 10 per cent for businesses with residential tax rates seeing about the same increase. (See story Page A3)
“Two per cent of the budget increase is going to operations with the remaining eight percent dedicated to infrastructure, like roads and sidewalks,” she said.
Smithers also received a grant for a pilot project of a Situation Table, bringing together all of the agencies currently available to residents in crisis, such as the RCMP, mental health, addiction services, social services, and emergency services. This is to enable all services to work in coordination in an effort to help those who may experience crisis within the community.
Smithers has upgraded the RCMP force in Smithers to 11 members, as required by population from a mandate by the province.
Stikine MLA, Nathan Cullen, sent a message saying the federal and provincial budgets would be released later that day, and any questions or concerns his constituents have, to feel free to reach out to his offices.
Grant Harris from the Downtown Merchant Association said although it had been a challenging year for many businesses, it was impressive how supportive businesses and the community had been of each other.
Some of the events happening now downtown are the Daffodil Dash word scramble and crossword events, the Loving Local giveaway, and happening online is the virtual auction for the Daffodil Dash raising money for cancer.
Mark Fisher from the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako said the Emergency Neighbourhood Project is ongoing, so people living outside of the town boundaries know what to do and whom to contact in the event of a regional emergency.
Fisher said the rural districts should see a decrease in the mill rate this year, lowering the rural taxation rate.
The regional district budget will be out shortly along with other provincial and town budgets being released, he said.
The RDBN also continues to work on the connectivity needs of the district, increasing internet speed and accessibility.
There were two representatives from the Women’s Enterprise Centre. Their focus is to provide support, education, and financial opportunities to women entrepreneurs in the area. This is an online service as there is not a specifically designated office in Smithers.
The Chamber reminded members May is Mining Month and there will be a Zoom luncheon meeting on May 18 to hear updates from the mining sector in the province. More information will be sent out from the Chamber regarding this event.