Asked about triumphs and challenges faced by the Village of Ashcroft in 2016, mayor Jack Jeyes points to the acquisition of a new fire truck as a major triumph (“We’ve taken delivery of the new engine, and it came in below the original cost”), and the borrowing bylaw for the new water treatment plant as a challenge.
“There was the unfortunate failure of the Alternative Approval Process (AAP) in June, followed by a difficult run-up to the referendum, which council had already promised in the event the AAP failed,” says Jeyes. “However, it gave council an opportunity to get information out to the public that people otherwise might not have known, and answer questions.
“In the end, 75 per cent of those who voted in the referendum supported the borrowing bylaw. One of our challenges in the year to come is keeping the project on track and moving forward.”
Another challenge in the past year was the unexpected resignation of a member of council, shortly after the failure of the AAP. “Trying to schedule the referendum and the by-election on the same day was a challenge, but staff were able to work with the provincial government to allow both events to be held on the same date.”
Of the election of former councillor Helen Kormendy at the September by-election, Jeyes says “We were very fortunate. She has experience as a councillor, and even though she has been out of the mix for a couple of years, she was able to jump right back in.”
Deputy corporate officer (DCO) Ethan Anderson left the village in August after three years in Ashcroft, and Jeyes notes that we lost “a very capable employee. But we have been very successful in recruiting [new DCO] Wayne Robinson, who has stepped in and is already showing he is an excellent fit for Ashcroft.
“Village staff and the village crew have carried out their jobs, and responded to several challenges, in an exemplary fashion.”
Looking ahead at what the village has on the horizon, Jeyes says that a major task is keeping on top of the revision and updating of the Official Community Plan (OCP) and associated bylaws and regulations, all of which are several years old. “The updates are required so Ashcroft can continue to grow in a planned fashion, which can only help the economy of our village.”
He notes that the closure of the Cache Creek landfill will be a challenge, as will health care, but adds that the village was successful in getting two new doctors in the community early in 2016. “We’re fortunate to have a partnership between the village, Interior Health, and the Wellness and Health Action Coalition.”
He says that the village has been very successful in getting grants in 2016, and that more grants have been applied for to work on projects such as overhauling the OCP and replacing aged equipment at the sewage treatment plant. “I’m hopeful that in the New Year we’ll hear some positive things about these grants.”
Jeyes points to all the people and groups who did so much within the community in 2016. “The number of glass mosaics coming up around town are generating pride within Ashcroft and interest from those outside it. And there are the contributions of Communities in Bloom, and their continued success on the national stage, which again generates pride within Ashcroft.”
He praises village staff for getting the Communities in Bloom logo on highway signage; a first in Canada.
“Minor hockey and soccer continue to grow, and kudos to the volunteers making that happen. A shout-out to the dedicated volunteers managing the HUB, to those offering services there, and to the community for embracing it, and thanks to the group that worked with the Elizabeth Fry Society to get new playground equipment at the pool park.
“I know I’m missing some groups, so a shout-out for the work they’re doing. All these things indicate we have a growing and vibrant community here in Ashcroft.
“And I’d like to wish all the residents of Ashcroft a happy and prosperous New Year.”