During the year, Creston town councillors take turns acting as the mayor, and each councillor is now writing a column as one of the duties of their month.
This term has started off with a number of different issues facing us from the waste water treatment facility upgrade to our community branding exercise. The budget, of course, is always at the centre of what council mostly deals with for the first three months of the year, and the meetings are long with lots of discussion on how to get the most and best services for the least amount of money. Keeping the roads repaired, the sewer lines replaced and the equipment running smoothly is not an easy task.
This job as a councillor is complicated. You are always thinking about what the public is concerned about, and work to improve the town. I was on council from 1993-1996, and during that term we were concerned about the time Creston would reach the 5,000 population mark and become responsible for its own policing costs. The Town of Creston built and now owns the building the police work from, so we can save on the portion out seven officers are responsible to pay and still have the income from the six officers who are working in the rural area and anyone else who works out of that building. We escaped the last three consecutive censuses but the recent census has suggested our population is 5,306. The previous councils had the foresight to put a reserve aside for the inevitable and we can now subsidize our budget increases for the next few years.
I’m encouraged by the census. It shows that Creston is growing. Now the challenge will be to keep the taxes reasonable and affordable for all residents.
At the beginning of our new term, the mayor appoints each councillor to different committees. This term, the mayor has asked me to be his alternate on the Regional District of Central Kootenay board, which by itself is a huge responsibility, with numerous meetings with numerous issues. To be a responsible representative, it’s important to keep up with current issues, a time-consuming endeavour.
We in Creston are an anomaly in that we share services with the regional district on a number of fronts. The Arrow Creek Water Treatment and Supply Commission is one that recently has caused some tension between the commission, regional district and town. We have been working on a cost formula for three years that the town thinks is fair to both parties, but unfortunately we have now reached an impasse.
In my view, the structure of the board and its voting rights was flawed. We want fair representation that reflects the amount of water we use. We want metering on all lateral lines of the Erickson system to define the actual use of the domestic and irrigation system.
Presently, there are a number of leaks in the Arrow Creek delivery line. We at the town reservoir, have a meter and know exactly what we use. We have asked for a service review, which will bring in an arbitrator to help us resolve our issues. I, for one, am concerned that the citizens of Creston are subsidizing the outlying areas by providing services at a cost less than the value they receive.
One of my jobs on council is the Community Pride committee. The main function of Community Pride is to bring ideas to council that foster pride in our community. Along with the other members on the committee and the chamber of commerce, we organize the annual Santa Claus Parade and the Canada Day festivities. This year’s Canada Day celebration will include aspects of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. I would encourage anyone who would like to join our committee as a volunteer to sign up at our booth at the Creston Valley Home and Garden Show in April.
Jerry Schmalz is a councillor for the Town of Creston, and acting mayor in February.