Community members listen to the provisional departmental budgets presented by the village council during the 2015 town hall meeting in Burns Lake. After the budget presentation

Community members listen to the provisional departmental budgets presented by the village council during the 2015 town hall meeting in Burns Lake. After the budget presentation

Town hall for 2015 meeting gives residents a chance to speak up

Community members were presented with the 2015 provisional budget and asked to identify priorities for the village.

Community members in Burns Lake had a chance to address their concerns to council and village staff during the 2015 town hall meeting.

Approximately 15 community members participated in the event held at the Vineyard Church on Jan. 29, 2015.

Mayor Luke Strimbold made the opening remarks presenting the highlights of the 2015 provisional budget. Councillors then took turns to present the village’s provisional departmental budgets.

Councillor Chris Beach presented the economic development budget; coun. Kelly Holliday presented the recreation department budget; coun. Susan Schienbein presented the fire department and bylaw enforcement budget; and coun. John Illes presented the public works budget.

After the presentation, the public was invited to sit in two different tables, each table having two or more representatives from village council and staff. The public was encouraged to ask questions and to identify the priorities for the 2015 municipal budget.

One of the concerns raised by community members was about the parking lot behind A&W. Since more people are now cutting through the parking lot to turn left onto Hwy. 16, the potholes on the road have added stress to some residents who find the road unsafe.

“When I approached the owner of the property, he blamed the council; when I go to council, they say the property is privately owned and there’s nothing they can do; and in the meantime, nothing is done,” said a community member.

Rick Martin, Director of Public Works, said the village staff has already done two reports to council about this issue.

“It is a private property and local governments aren’t allowed to assist businesses that way,” said Martin.

Randy Hamp, owner of Balmoral Plaza, approached council as a delegation Sept. 2, 2014, to explain that there was an issue with excess through-traffic using his parking lot as a means to turn left onto Hwy. 16. He stated this had caused damage to his lot and asked council to share in the cost to repair it. Council denied his request at the time.

Since then, Martin said council has proposed other solutions to the property owner. A letter was sent to Randy Hamp stating the municipality would discuss modifying the village-owned curb if the property owner wished to pursue the closing of the entrance from Francois Drive.

Hamp told Lakes District News he still hasn’t made a decision, but that he is considering the village’s suggestion.

Other ideas that came from community members included creating a marketing strategy exclusive for health care professionals.

Krystin St. Jean, Economic Development Officer, said some people are not happy with the way Burns Lake is being represented in the Northern Health’s website, and that the village plans on submitting a better marketing material for Northern Health in order to make the town more appealing for doctors and other health care professionals.

Part of the economic development plan for Burns Lake includes a marketing strategy for the village in order to make the town more attractive for people from other places. The idea is to highlight the unique amenities and characteristics of Burns Lake.

“There are things that we have that are unique such as our world-class mountain biking trails and the Omineca Ski Club,” said St. Jean. “It’s a matter of promoting what we have because people might be looking for those amenities.”

Community members were also interested to know where the funds for the upgrades of Eighth Avenue were coming from. People were curious to know if the village was receiving any federal funding through Lake Babine Nation. The answer was no.

Community members also raised concerns about the garbage cans on the way out of Lakes District Secondary School coming onto Hwy. 16. They said the garbage cans can limit visibility of the road for drivers. Village staff will look into this issue.

The next budget meeting will take place on Feb. 17, 2015, at 7 p.m. at the village office. Public is encouraged to attend.