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Kimberley reports successful year despite COVID-19

Kimberley’s mayor said 2021 was an outstanding year for the community despite the circumstances brought on by COVID-19.

Mayor Don McCormick said the community has continued to grow.

“We’ve managed to stay as normal as possible. The community has continued to grow and we’ve continued to invest in infrastructure projects in the city,” added McCormick.

“If it weren’t for COVID and all of the related behaviour changes we’d be saying this is an awesome year.”

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MORE: Kimberley and Columbia Valley becoming East Kootenay’s COVID-19 hot spots (April 22, 2021)

McCormick said the investment in the community this year was quite impressive, which he said will help provide tax money for future projects.

“We’ve added around $23 million in new building permits, which brings the total over the last three years to just under $75 million,” added McCormick.

“We’ve had very significant investment in the community, the reason that’s important is it provides brand new tax money to the city and helps us keep a cap on our variable tax rate, which we’ve managed to keep at the rate of inflation for the past six years.”

MORE: City of Kimberley adopts new STR regulations (Nov. 9, 2021)

He said they also made good headway on infrastructure projects within the community including road paving.

“From a city operations point of view, we have been making excellent headway on infrastructure in the city. This past year most people are commenting on all of the paving we’ve managed to get done, which is really visible and feels good when you’re driving on it and helps taxpayers see where their money is going,” said McCormick.

“The fact is we have doubled our spending on infrastructure in the last five or six years, so we’re making really good headway on what has been a really challenging infrastructure renewal program. We’re extremely pleased with the progress we’re making.”

The combination of these two things will help with a large project slated for 2022 said McCormick.

“The combination of that new investment and that new money has enabled us to increase our infrastructure spending, get some really good projects on the go and the big one coming into 2022 of course is the wastewater treatment plant replacement that we’ve been working hard to bring to fruition now for the last few years.”

Another positive this year was the introduction of the city’s curbside recycling program, which the mayor said was well received by the community.

MORE: Curbside recycling carts coming to Kimberley (Aug. 10, 2021)

“Curbside recycling has been extremely positive. We’re less than a year in right now and as with all projects there are kinks that need to be worked out,” said McCormick.

“As we come upon the anniversary of that project, I think pretty much everybody in the community is saying it was definitely worthwhile and it’s certainly a convenience compared to having to drive periodically out to the recycling station.”

He said they have also continued to make significant ground in wildfire mitigation, as another summer saw fires throughout the region and record-breaking heat.

MORE: Fire Department continues wildfire risk reduction efforts around Kimberley (March 25, 2021)

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“Since 2018 when the community was on evacuation alert for 19 days, we’ve worked diligently with the province, CANFOR and other stakeholders to provide and do a fair amount of mitigation to the risk of wildfires in the southwest part of the community.”

The mayor said they still have a lot of work to do, but they better understand what to do if another fire threatens the community.

“All of these efforts are reducing the risk, certainly it will never be eliminated, but we’re reducing the risk and I’m feeling the community is a whole lot safer today than it was four years ago,” added McCormick.

“Having said that, this is a long-term work project and we’re probably going to take at least another four or five years before we’re in a position to say that we’ve got a pretty good handle on what might happen should a wildfire be a risk to Kimberley again.”

McCormick said the city plans to bring the momentum they’ve gained into the new year and continue to grow the community.

“Our goal for 2022 is to maintain the significant momentum we’ve built up over the past five or six years and the growth of the community where people want to live and raise families,” said McCormick.

“We have this great momentum going we wish to keep it and we will make sure that growth is done in a very wise matter. It’s pretty awesome to feel the vibe in the community these days.”

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