A community forum in Ashcroft on November 3 attracted 47 people, who came out to hear, and ask questions about, a variety of topics.
Ashcroft mayor Jack Jeyes made introductory comments before handing the meeting over to Jamie Vieira, manager of environmental services for The Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD). He addressed the forthcoming closure of the Cache Creek landfill, and advised that the TNRD would be taking over operation of the residential drop-off (RDO) at the site as of January 1, at which time disposal fees will be introduced in accordance with TNRD bylaws.
Disposal fees cover approximately 20 per cent of the TNRD’s solid waste operating costs, and the Ashcroft/Cache Creek system will be administered by a prepaid punch-card system (or charge cards for frequent users). It will not be possible to make payments of any kind at the RDO.
From a practical point of view, Vieira estimated that typical costs would be $1 for a bag of garbage, $2 for a larger bag, and $5 per truckload. Yard waste (grass, leaves, branches), scrap metal, tires off rim, and recyclables will be accepted with no charge, and he emphasized that there will be no impact on the weekly municipal collection of household waste.
The matter of illegal dumping was raised, and Vieira confirmed that the introduction of fees might possibly bring about an increase in this activity. Anyone with concerns about illegal dumping should contact the Conservation Officer Services’ Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line, toll-free, at 1-877-952-7277.
Updating the community on the new fire truck purchase, Jeyes advised that delivery is now expected to take place in early 2017. Ashcroft fire chief Josh White has visited HUB in Abbottsford and is pleased with the progress that is being made. The project is set to come in under budget thanks to an advantageous finance rate of 1.38 per cent and flexible borrowing terms.
The meeting moved on to the village’s plans for a new cemetery.
The current cemetery has no full-size burial plots available, nor have there been any available for some years, and there is no room to develop more full-size graves in the current cemetery. There are issues with the proposed Mesa Vista cemetery site: a cemetery on that site would have to be developed in tiers to accommodate burials and maintenance; the sloping terrain causes access issues for seniors and the mobility impaired; and there are parking concerns.
The village has limited land available for development, and any new site must be approved by a director of the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act. It is estimated that the cost of developing a new cemetery could be $150,000 to $200,000, which would have to be paid for up-front by taxpayers. The cost to purchase a full-size burial plot is estimated to be in the region of $3,500. The question asked was, are residents willing to pay for the costs associated with establishing a new cemetery.
Another topic that was addressed was historic plaques. In 1996 the revitalization committee commissioned 12 brass plaques, which were placed on sites of historical or architectural significance around the community, and the time has come to commission a further batch of 12 (bronze) plaques to meet current demand.
The new plaques will be available in the spring of 2017. It should be noted that the plaques do not designate the property concerned as a heritage property, and remain property of the Village of Ashcroft. Interested parties will be able to apply to the village for a plaque.
The recent survey of residents brought in 178 responses (more than 10 per cent of the population). Some 48 per cent of the responses were from people who have lived in Ashcroft for 16 or more years, and 58 per cent of the responses were from retired people. The local services considered most important were water infrastructure, sewer infrastructure, garbage collection, fire protection, and business retention.
Of the responses received, 52 per cent rated the quality of life in Ashcroft as good, while 34 per cent rated it very good. Some 42 per cent felt that Ashcroft is a good place to raise a family, and 27 per cent felt it a very good place to raise a family. When asked to rate Ashcroft as a place to retire, 35 per cent rated it as good, and 32 per cent rated it very good. The initial results of the survey seem to indicate that, in general, people like Ashcroft as a place to live. A more detailed analysis of the survey is expected in early 2017.