Hope’s 2019 annual report has been published with both a look back at accomplishments in the past year and a look ahead at the district’s goals for 2020.
It was the first full year of Peter Robb’s first term as mayor as well as the first full year for new councillors Craig Traun and Victor Smith. Robb said 2019 brought challenges including the 753 Waterworks system amalgamation as well as implementing a new waste disposal contract, both of which he said have been largely sorted out.
The to do list for 2020 includes commissioning a housing needs assessment, which Robb said will help the district identify what kind of housing is needed whether it be rentals or seniors housing or other forms of housing. Another priority for this year is working with BC Housing to reduce homelessness in the community.
While not a priority, Robb said, 2020 should also see a change to the district’s zoning bylaw to allow for retail sale of cannabis by the end of the year. “I was surprised, as we got into the term, there wasn’t the interest there that we were led to believe,” he said. Staff received two inquiries, yet no one has gone through the process of filling out an application and going through the province Robb said. The plan is to amend the bylaw late this year, however Robb said “we could always jump into it again if there’s a serious applicant, but at this point there hasn’t been.”
Some projects were stymied in their progress due to lack of federal and provincial funding – the Othello Road rehabilitation and the Richmond Hill walking path and lighting project. Mayor Robb said there is now a new intake for provincial grants this fall, that the district intends to apply to. “There (are) drawings, it’s been costed out, we just need some help with the funding,” he said of these two projects.
Resolving 753 Waterworks, Station House
A long-standing item on the to-do list was ticked off last year, with the district amalgamating the 753 Waterworks private water system into the district’s own water system. “This is good news for their former customers, however, there are significant necessary upgrades required to bring it up to standard,” the mayor’s message in the report stated. “We will therefore look for public approval to borrow these funds.”
Another long standing project stalled since 2018, the Hope Station House, also came to a resolution Robb said. The building, owned by the district and sitting on land owned by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, was long considered a candidate for renovation and installation of a visitors centre and museum. In negotiations with the ministry, the two parties settled with the province handing over $650,000 and assuming ownership of the building.
The former tourism centre and museum is being demolished, with the district putting out a request for a company skilled in removing buildings containing mould and asbestos. What will happen at that site is still up to council to decide, and Robb added a district-wide facilities master plan could assist with. This plan is also on the 2020 to do list.
“We could move forward if we find consensus on council and working with staff on what that building and facility should look like,” Robb said.
This means Hope’s visitors centre will remain in the portable building on Water Avenue this summer and likely into the third quarter next year. “It’s unfortunate but that’s just the way it’s unfolded,” Robb said.
The district continued its focus on what has been a priority for several council terms, proactive asset management. The district already has an asset management plan from 2016, it was improved upon the report read, with a water master plan. In 2020, the plan is to complete a sewer master plan.
For a full read of the annual report, head to the district’s website (under document library, reports) or copies can be viewed at district hall.
Anyone with questions or comments about the report can contact director of finance Dale Courtice at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions and comments will be read at a July 27 council meeting, livestreamed on the district’s Facebook page starting at 7 p.m.
Fire department sees call volume nearly double in 2019
In 2019 the Hope Fire Department experienced a drastic increase in call volumes. The district’s paid on-call firefighters attended 499 calls in 2019 compared to 313 in 2018 and fire chief Tom DeSorcy said it’s not known what exactly drove this increase.
While the department does more medical calls – they have six or seven of their 25 members trained as first responders, others have other levels of medical training – the fire department does not go to every medical call, only when they are requested to attend by the ambulance service. And the increase in medical calls does not explain the increase, DeSorcy said, an increase seen across the Fraser Valley he added.
Some of the most common calls for the fire department in 2019 were alarms (17 per cent) and motor vehicle incidents (13 per cent). Structure fires are around six per cent of 2019 calls, brush fires are at close to 10 per cent and medical calls make up nine per cent.
And the call volume is staying high DeSorcy said, after a drop to nearly zero calls during the months when COVID-19 kept most people indoors. There were seven calls on Wednesday, June 15 for example, ranging from medical calls to a vehicle fire and two automatic alarms.
The district also switched their dispatch operations over to the centralized dispatch system E-Comm in February 2019, a change DeSorcy said has ‘increased capacity and improved efficiencies when it comes to service delivery.”
“There’s so much coming in 9-1-1 now that it’s harder for smaller dispatch centres to deal with,” he said, including expensive technology and new ways of contacting 9-1-1. “E-comm is on the cutting edge.”
Page-outs were previously done for individual fire halls – Hope has three fire halls, downtown, Kawkawa Lake and Silver Creek.
With E-Comm, the fire department is now being called out on a department-wide basis. “Simply put, everyone is alerted to every call, no matter its location, and can respond from the hall they’re closest to,” DeSorcy wrote in the report.
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