With 2018 in the rearview mirror, it’s time to shift focus towards 2019. Mayor Dale Bumstead sees a number of important issues (and opportunities) in the year ahead.
An issue that was gaining traction in 2018, and continues to be a big one for Peace communities, Bumstead says, is caribou conservation, and the lack of consultation from the provincial government.
“We want to see the Southern Mountain Caribou survive and thrive, we just want to be involved in that plan to make sure that the socio and economic impacts to our communities and to our region,” he explains. “Nobody knows, and that’s the aspect we’re worried about. And the fact they haven’t engaged us, to allow us to be part of that discussion, to have some input into the recovery plan.
“We’re going to continue to work on that caribou file, because that has some big impacts to our community and region.”
Also in the regional file, but more on the opportunities side, is continuing some work that’s already begun.
“We signed a relationship agreement with the Saulteau First Nation [in 2018]. We’ve reached out to a number of the First Nations communities in the region and I really see the benefits of us collaborating with our First Nations neighbours, as we do with our other neighbours to build upon initiatives that we work on together,” he says.
“I think there’s some really cool opportunities that exist in that around in health, education and economic opportunities, so that’s a big one for me, and I’m really going to put more emphasis on that in 2019, to build even more relationship agreements with those Treaty 8 communities. Those are going to be some really important partnerships for us in the future.”
The new hospital has him excited about the future.
“I’m excited about the hospital, because that hospital planning process is really going to kick off in 2019,” Bumstead says.
Sport and event tourism remains a focus.
“We’re going to continue to build on this sports tourism model. We met with the Oilers Entertainment Group, trying to leverage some other opportunities, maybe with the Oilers, they’re very close to Dawson Creek in lots of ways,” he says.
“We really want to try to develop and work on those other events that go on in our community, like the exhibition and rodeo, the Mile Zero Cruisers put on the big car show. We see those as being really cool opportunities for our community that build on the tourism process of people coming into our community.”
At the municipal level, the first few months will largely be focused on the budget.
“The budget will be a whole bunch of work, as it always is every year,” says Bumstead. “When you’ve got a community like this, you’ve got a limited tax base, and we’re providing all of these amenities for services that make it very difficult to manage.
“We’ve got a bunch of capital work that we’ve done over the last number of years, so we’ve got to do some catch-up on some of that. We built the new bridge at 10th Street, at 15th Street over the last couple of years. Our paving program fell a little bit behind as a result of that big capital project, so we’re going to have do some work this year to try to find some additional revenue to put into that paving program.”
Bumstead says it’s important to continue making Dawson Creek attractive for commercial development.
Zoning will also be a priority.
“We’re really going to do some work on zoning this year, we’re going to revisit that in regards to our residential development, through our official community plan we completed last year,” he explains.
“We still see that we need to do some work around boarding houses, rooming houses, homes with suites. All of that stuff takes some review on an ongoing basis to make sure you see the community develop in an appropriate way that you are proud of in 10,15, 20, 30 years.”