Creston Mayor Ron Toyota. (Photo by Brian Lawrence)

Creston Mayor Ron Toyota. (Photo by Brian Lawrence)

Year in Review with Mayor Ron Toyota

Town council managed to make progress on several big projects in 2021

As another year amidst the pandemic, 2021 was not without its challenges. While rising vaccination rates caused some restrictions to lift, life for most is still far from “normal”.

“We just carry on,” said Mayor Ron Toyota. “I think we’re all getting tired of it, but unfortunately, we don’t know when it’s going to end.”

The conversations surrounding COVID-19, provincial health orders, and vaccinations have caused division among some community members.

“Let’s just respect each other’s position, whether we agree or not,” said Toyota. “We can at least be respectful and treat each other as human beings.”

New Fire Hall

In the past year, COVID hasn’t been the only thing to spark differing opinions in Creston. In April, town officials broke ground on the construction site for the new Creston Emergency Services Building.

READ MORE: Breaking ground for the new Creston Emergency Services Building

The project has been a long time in the making, with initial discussions on the need for an updated fire hall taking place back in 2012. It became a contentious issue after two borrowing referendums (one with a failed vote in 2017), rising construction costs, and an increase in the budget to $8 million.

Despite all of that, the building has begun to take shape on Cook Street and is well on the way to completion in the new year.

“It’s progressing well,” said Toyota. “It was a big accomplishment. The unfortunate thing is it has taken two or three years more than it should have, but by the spring of 2022 it will be behind us.”

Election Year

In the fall of 2022, another municipal election is scheduled to take place.

After 14 years as mayor, Toyota is taking time to reflect on his past terms. During his time in office, he has been involved with many initiatives such as the constructing the Creston & District Community Complex and building new relationships with the Lower Kootenay Band.

When asked about his campaign plans, Toyota said he is leaning towards not running again.

“You can’t do it forever, and there’s others out there that could do better,” he said. “I really believe that it’s important to transition to new blood, new thinking.”

He added that he is very proud of what the community has accomplished during his watch.

“It’s really important to note that it’s not just me – it’s the people around me. It takes teamwork. It’s our council, our staff, our citizens, and my family,” he said. “They all play a part.”

In September, a byelection was held to fill two vacancies left by the resignations of councillors Karen Unruh and Ellen Tzakis earlier this year.

READ MORE: Town of Creston preliminary byelection results announced

Newcomers Keith Baldwin and Norm Eisler were voted in and took the open seats.

“We were fortunate to gain two positive councillors,” said Toyota. “It’s been going very well. They’re in the midst of the learning curve, and they’ll have a year to learn the ropes before the next election.”

Let’s Talk

This past summer, the Town of Creston launched a new website, Let’s Talk Creston, as a way to engage with the community and create awareness of ongoing projects.

Toyota said the website has served as a positive alternative to social media, with the opportunity for residents to give constructive feedback.

READ MORE: Want to stay engaged with Town of Creston projects? Let’s Talk

“It’s a great way for residents to input their questions and have them answered,” said Toyota. “Social media is so simple and can be so negative. People will comment and put you down just for the sake of it. If you’re going to say (negative) things, at least offer some suggestions and start a conversation.”

Current Projects

• Curbside collection service

Curbside collection of organics is scheduled to begin in spring 2022. The Regional District of Central Kootenay was recently awarded a $1.2 million grant from the province to support the establishment of the service in both Creston and Castlegar.

READ MORE: Curbside collection of organics in Castlegar and Creston one step closer

• Crawford Hill Reservoir Restoration

Since March, the Town of Creston has been in the process of transforming 10.6 acres of municipal land into a natural open space for the public to enjoy.

The park will feature trails, habitat restoration areas, wildlife viewing areas, and views of the Creston Valley. It is scheduled to open in spring 2022.

READ MORE: Creston’s Crawford Hill Reservoir Restoration Project to begin this month

• Golden Centennaires Monument

In 2022, the Town of Creston hopes to secure a temporary location for a CT-114 Tutor plane to memorialize the Golden Centennaires. Former Creston Valley resident Clarence Lang played a central role with the aerobatic team of pilots in the 1960s.

The plane will be donated by longtime resident John Huscroft, who purchased the plane in a private sale in Ontario.

Once the plane is temporarily place, town staff will plan for a permanent location with options such as Millennium Park, the Creston Valley Regional Airport, and Highway 3 and 3A.

• Market Park

Between the Chamber of Commerce and Pealow’s, there is approximately one hectare of land adjacent to the railway tracks that is essentially a vacant brownfield.

Initiated in 2013, Market Park is a downtown redevelopment plan that town staff hopes to bring to fruition in the coming years to revitalize the area. It will serve as a multi-purpose community hub to attract new businesses and Farmers’ Market vendors, offer a green space for recreation and events, provide extra parking, and as a place to reflect on Yaqan Nukiy culture.

• Creston’s Cenntennial

Town staff is in the preliminary stages of generating ideas to host a special celebration in 2024 to commemorate Creston’s 100th anniversary.

READ MORE: Creston pilot Clarence “CB” Lang remembered for incredible talent

For more information on current and future projects, check out letstalk.creston.ca.

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