By Andrew May
Ashcroft Mayor Barbara Roden says the first few weeks of her term have been good. “Its early days. We’ve been busy — but everything is good so far. Really good. Our major projects, the water treatment plant and sewage treatment plant, are going well, on time, and on budget. We have a good OCP (Official Community Plan) in place.”
She credited Village staff with helping bring the new council up to speed.
“It’s great to have continuity at the Village office. We’re so fortunate to have really good experienced people. They can answer almost any question immediately.”
Asked about the most significant issue facing Ashcroft now, Roden replied, “Housing. Definitely housing. In my term as councillor, and during the campaign, I heard from many people about our housing situation. It’s a complex issue. We’re looking at the piece of Village-owned property on the Mesa, behind the Church. We’re working with municipal consultant Urban Systems to investigate options. Possibilities range from building Village owned housing to just selling the property to a developer.”
The Village wouldn’t necessarily be developing the housing, but is considering how far down the development road they want to go, according to Roden.
The mayor went on to clarify, “Affordable housing is not as important as a variety of housing. Not everyone needs a four bedroom two-storey house. There are lots of options.”
She made it clear that the housing issue was not going to be resolved in a few months, or even years. “But,” she said, “we can start to get the building blocks in place.”
Another challenge facing the new council is non-medical cannabis. Given the still fuzzy regulatory environment, municipalities have to determine how, or even if, they’re going to address non-medical cannabis. Roden is emphatic: “We need a made in Ashcroft approach.”
Another wish list possibility the mayor would like council to consider is an off-leash dog park.
Looking ahead, Roden says, “This spring we have the annual budget process. And we have to re-visit the Village’s strategic plan. We have to decide whether to update the existing plan or just develop a new one.”
In discussion with other newly elected mayors in the area, Roden was pleased to hear they all favour a collaborative approach. She says, “We all benefit if we work together. We need to have that communication, that working together. People are going to see positive change.”