It has been a year unlike any other, and I want to say thank you to the organizations, community groups, and individual volunteers who worked tirelessly to help others, and to the local businesses that stayed open and had our backs despite massive challenges.
Village staff and crew worked diligently to ensure that Ashcroft remained safe, while enabling valued facilities such as the pool, museum, Legacy Park campsite, and arena to open. CAO Daniela Dyck made sure that all safety measures were taken, and communicated to residents.
COVID presented many financial challenges and uncertainties, yet CFO Yogi Bhalla presented a budget that meant no tax increase for 2020. The village was also able to pay off its outstanding debt of $1.3 million—for the water treatment plant (which came through its first freshet with flying colours) and the primary fire engine—15 years earlier than planned, meaning Ashcroft is debt-free.
His “Made in Ashcroft” asset management plan is a valuable tool to help the village determine the state and value of its assets, determine where priorities lie, and budget and plan for the future. In September the plan received an Honourable Mention in the “Excellence in Asset Management” category at the UBCM Community Excellence Awards.
The village received grant funding for two long-anticipated projects: replacement of lift station 1 in North Ashcroft and a new hot tub for the pool. There was grant funding left over from the water treatment plant for other water-related projects, such as sleeves for the river pumps and a sand separator, and a backup generator was installed for pump station 3 to the Mesa. Director of Public Works Brian Bennewith and his crew have worked tirelessly on these projects and more, proving yet again they are second to none.
Vivian McLean and Matthias Sampson were the recipients of the two Village of Ashcroft bursaries at Desert Sands Community School. They are extraordinary young adults who are a credit to Ashcroft, and who will do our community proud wherever they go.
The whole town came together to embrace the filming of an episode of the TV show The Twilight Zone, which employed dozens of locals and supported many of our businesses during the extensive production/filming period in January and February.
The reopening of the Ashcroft curling rink was a great moment. A protocol agreement signed by the village and the Ashcroft Indian Band marks the start of a new, stronger relationship between the village and the band. Other valuable collaborations have been established with Cache Creek and Clinton through the establishment of a joint bylaw enforcement officer. Talks to bring potable water to the Ashcroft Reserve from Ashcroft are ongoing.
A Trails Master Plan is one of the strategic priorities council has identified; others are an assessment of the structures, buildings, and trees in the Heritage Park, and a closer relationship with the Ashcroft Volunteer Fire Department. We hope to be able to continue with the economic development plans overseen by Margaret Moreira, that support our local businesses and attract development to our community. Kris Hardy will be providing valuable support in her new role as administrative assistant, and we look forward to welcoming Maike Mayden to the office team.
I would also like to give a huge thanks to Ashcroft Library branch head Deanna Porter and her staff, who continue to keep the library vibrant. It will be exciting to see the 45-year-old library building get a major interior renovation in the new year. Another eagerly-awaited TNRD project is the new Eco-Depot, to be built in 2021.
Finally, thank you to the residents of Ashcroft for their support, encouragement, understanding, and patience during 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a difficult year; here is hoping that as we turn the calendar over to 2021, we will be turning the page on a new and vibrant chapter in the history of Ashcroft.
If anyone has questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (250) 457-0789.
Barbara Roden is the mayor of the Village of Ashcroft.