Clinton looks to develop mentorship plan for local businesses

Plus mayor Jim Rivett says the village is seeking $1 million in funding to replace the water pipe from the treatment plant to town.

Clinton mayor Jim Rivett.

Clinton mayor Jim Rivett.

Clinton mayor Jim Rivett looks back at the number of projects that were completed in 2016, and says that it was a good year for the village.

“The biggest project was the $88,000 upgrade to the Clinton Memorial Hall. The lighting and sound were upgraded, but we didn’t throw [the old equipment] away: we found a use for it by repurposing it for the arena and for the band shell in the park. More access was put in to the basement; it only had one access point before, so couldn’t be used for anything but storage.

“Now we have another access point, and can access the stage from there. There are three sets of curtains for the stage, so it’s now set up for plays, concerts, the ball; it’s got what you need to do just about anything. I think we have the Memorial Hall stage where it needs to be.”

Speaking of the Clinton Ball, Rivett acknowledges that the success of the 150th annual ball in 2017—tickets for which sold out before the May 2016 ball—is a double-edged sword. “We didn’t want to exclude people who come regularly,” he says, noting that many of these people do not purchase their tickets until January. “The team had to come up with a solution [holding it at the arena] and I’m glad they did.”

Attendees at the Clinton Ball in 2016, in front of the Clinton Memorial Hall, which underwent major renovations and upgrades in 2016. Photo by Barbara Roden.

He says that the village has been “very aggressive” in developing an asset management plan. “Asset management is a tool for staff and council to make intelligent decisions about spending money. You have to know what you’ve got—water, sewer, storm sewers, land and buildings, roads—so you can, at a glance, look at the village and see what the number one priority is.”

The number one priority for 2017, he says, is replacing the six kilometres of “1960-something” pipe from the water treatment plant to the village. “It’s coming to the end of its life.” The village has applied for a $1 million clean water grant to replace the pipe, with the village contributing $200,000 if the grant is approved. If the grant is not approved, Rivett says the village will keep applying for funding until they get it.

“That’s what asset management told us,” says Rivett of the decision to the replace the pipe. “Because of the age of it, the chance of it failing is high.” He adds that three roads in Clinton where the water and sewer infrastructure is good were paved in 2016. “Asset management tells you where it’s best to spend the money, and helps you make the right decisions.”

Completion of the off-leash dog park was another high point of 2016, although there are features to be added. “We’re still working with the Ministry of Transportation to get signs up. The park isn’t just for the residents; it’s also for people travelling through. The idea is to direct people to the park, and we need to put signs up at the entrances to the village, but we need to get permission from the ministry.”

Clinton councillor Wayne Marchant and MLA Jackie Tegart at the opening of the Clinton off-leash dog park. Photo by Susan Swan.

The village raised $55,000 to do an economic development plan, and is working to develop a marketing plan. “It will show the six opportunities that have the best chance of being successful [in Clinton], and means we will have information about Clinton to provide to trade missions. People say ‘What can we put money into?’ and we don’t have that now. We’ll be able to give them the marketing plan and hopefully stimulate the economy.”

Clinton is part of the Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition, which comes to an end in 2017. They are now a part of the Cariboo Strong marketing initiative, which aims to identify marketing opportunities in the north, central, and south Cariboo. “We’ve always had a good relationship with Ashcroft and Cache Creek,” says Rivett. “Now we’re doing that with the northern communities. We’re the ham in the sandwich. And if we have a relationship with other communities, we can get together and go to the province.”

Looking ahead to 2017, Rivett says that one issue the village will be facing is that chief administrative officer Tom Dall will be retiring, and will have to be replaced.

“People say ‘What’s the big deal?’ Well, it is a big deal, getting people with previous experience to small communities,” says Rivett, noting that Dall brought with him considerable experience. “[Finding a replacement] is definitely something that will take a lot of time for council.”

Rivett notes that the FireSmart program will be continuing into 2017. Public meetings were held in 2016 to explain the program, and firemen did inspections of properties if people requested it. “Homeowners can act on the recommendations if they want,” says Rivett. “Don’t put firewood against your house, or gas cans under your deck; but people just do it without thinking, and don’t see it. We’ll continue this into 2017, and are working with the community forest to clean up areas where it’s possible.”

Something that the village is trying to do for 2017 is get a mentoring system in place for new business owners. “A number of businesses in town have Chinese owners. They might have experience running a restaurant in China, but it’s very different in Canada in regard to customer service and staff relations. If you have a staff problem here, there are no replacements; and if you annoy customers in China, you have a line-up of more out the door.

“We want to work one-on-one with people and get them integrated into the community, so they can take part in all the wonderful things that are going on. There are 35 annual events in town, but we don’t see them there.”

Rivett says that the village is looking to set up a pilot program that would be available to all small communities, to help business people integrate. “Provincially, federally; they don’t have a program to integrate business people into the community.”

He adds there are a lot of carry-overs into 2017, including a trails program. “We have [a trail] in the Village of Clinton, and we’re trying to get signage.

“There’s lots going on. I’m very optimistic, seeing businesses being sold. It looks like we’re starting to pick up.”