These days council is immersed in the budget. Budget deliberations are the most intensive piece of work we do annually. This year is a tough one. Our economy is in trouble, many are out of work and we must find ways to meet your needs and expectations with a minimal or no increase to property taxes. I have given the subject much thought and it has come to me that we are lucky. It could be much worse.
Can you imagine what it would cost if we had to cover the costs of the good works undertaken by many of you as volunteers?
Squamish is a special place because of volunteers. I cannot begin to name the non-profits and charitable groups who raise money for our hospital, library, parks, schools and other worthy causes. Volunteers run most youth programs. The Food Bank, Homeless Shelter, Community Christmas Care, Women's Center and Pearl's Place, library, hospital and churches rely on volunteers.
Then there are the special interest groups such as the Squamish Environmental Conservation Society, Chamber of Commerce, Streamkeepers, Trail Society, Business Improvement Association, Tantalus Seniors, Squamish Arts Council and SORCA who give many hours improving the livability in our community. Those who organize festivals like the Test of Metal, Squamish Days, Wild at Art and other events build community. I apologize for not naming all organizations but space will not permit.
We know you are out there and know you are all invaluable.
Back to our budget and the importance of our municipal volunteers. You could not afford to pay for the superb service provided in many areas of our operation.
You go to bed at night knowing that volunteers are ready and willing to respond at a moments notice to come to your aid. Our volunteer Fire Deptartment responds to hundreds of calls annually always ready to put their lives on the line. Search and Rescue are out there too often as well also risking their necks. Emergency Social Services volunteers step up to the plate when needed as do Victims Assistance.
Our RCMP are also assisted by the Auxiliary RCMP, Peacekeepers, Community on Patrol and those with Community Policing. The Squamish SPCA assists Animal Control. The Brackendale Owners and Tenants Association, Downtown Neighbourhood Association, Accessibility Committee, Board of Variance, Social Planning Council, Advisory Design Panel, and Seniors Select Committee advise on issues as called upon.
If we had to pay for all these services your tax bill would increase by at least an additional 10 per cent. If you are among the above Council gives you a big pat on the back. You are awesome!
I have been on Council for more than two decades, through good times and bad, and I know that in tough economic times community spirit is so important. You volunteers provide much of that spirit.
Through you our spirit will continue to thrive and our community prosper.