I look forward to accomplishing great things in 2014 but it is worth taking a moment to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year.
A significant amount of good work has been done to keep our community growing in a healthy, responsible way. There are many competing interests to weigh, and we as a council have to make some tough decisions on behalf of the community.
It is never an easy job, but it’s rewarding to look back on what has been achieved in a year. The challenges and competing priorities facing council include such items as: investing in the upgrading and maintenance of old, inefficient municipal infrastructure such as water and sewer lines; managing increased demand for services, amenities and infrastructure by a community that is one of the fastest growing in the province; investing in flood protection to protect residents and businesses from rising sea levels and destructive weather; seeking out new investment to replace the industrial base that historically formed the economic backbone of the community; managing Squamish’s long-term financial future by effectively managing debt; being responsible stewards of the environment.
Council and staff have adopted an “open for business” philosophy that permeates everything we now do, from improving internal processes to lobbying the province for support. We were a finalist in the 2013 Open for Business Awards by the Province’s Ministry of State for Tourism and Small Business. The Development Services “Business Continuity Project” improved the development application process, streamlined guides, made responsive customer service the norm, and vastly improved turnaround times, receiving positive feedback from the community. We launched our first-ever investment incentive program to encourage construction on vacant downtown commercial and business park space. The Development Showcase has improved the public’s ability to review development applications on our website. The Customer Service Project was developed to provide staff with policy, guidelines and training to ensure the “Delivery of Outstanding Service” (DOS). Surveys are being conducted every six months to ensure continued monitoring and evaluation of customer service.
We spent a busy year promoting the economic and lifestyle benefits of Squamish through connections made with other levels of government as well as internationally. We have been working directly with our new MLA Mr. Sturdy, as well as the Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, Minister of Advanced Education and Minister of Transportation. In addition, I joined the Premier’s trade mission to China.
A significant number of improvements have been implemented in flood protection, water and sewer systems, landfill environmental upgrades and improved waste diversion, roads and bridges, and Brennan Park. An expanded list of all these projects can be found on the district website. Speaking of websites, we are continuing to improve our communications and community engagement through a wide variety of initiatives online and through creative workshops.
Major initiatives that we can be particularly proud of this past year are improved transit service, the start of the transformation of downtown, taking the Oceanfront to the market, and the unprecedented and diverse business investment interests we’re seeing in Squamish.
Best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.