This is my first Mayor’s report since the spring. Much has happened. I’d like to focus on three things: municipal staffing, roads, and the turf field.
Our new Chief Administrative Officer Hendrik Slegtenhorst, has been working hard for us since his start in mid July. A major focus of Hendrik’s has been delivering his responsibilities as Approving Officer regarding the Cape Roger Curtis subdivision application. I am pleased with both his work with senior management, and his efforts to meet with the public to understand and address island issues. The hiring process is underway for directors of both Engineering and Operations, and Planning. We hope to fill both of these key positions by the end of the year.
This is the second year we have had major capital projects to upgrade our roads. Funding this necessary work will continue to challenge us, as we have an extensive road system, much of it on poor foundation, for our small tax- paying population. The staff decision to largely seal coat rather than pave roads this year reflects an effort to explore alternatives. The quality of some the seal coated roads fell short of expectations due to gap in time between road grading and seal coating, a problem created by the lack of availability of grader contractors when we needed them. But we had successes – a good road base from ground up old asphalt surface is hidden below the seal coated surface, and this is a key step towards a future paved surface. Further, the Dorman Road slump was rebuilt to a two lane road at a fraction of the expected cost, thanks to some clever work by staff. I would like to particularly thank Wil Hilsen, acting director of public works, for his efforts. Because we are short-staffed, we directed Wil to work on the Snug Cove sewer upgrade grant application, which delayed award of the summer road works contracts. This paid off in our successful bid for $1.1 million of Federal-Provincial funds, but delayed the summer roads works and extended it into the early fall when weather compromised the work.
The synthetic turf field is completing on time and within budget. I congratulate Florrie Levine for excellent management of this project, and the terrific support she received from Christine Walker and Stacy Beamer. Our community debate over the merits of synthetic turf, which at times seemed divisive, ultimately led to construction of a field of high environmental quality and safety. The field will soon be filled with kids and adults having fun. Looking back, we learned important lessons that will improve how we communicate with the community on capital projects. In July, Council passed a resolution that no further municipal funds (excluding external grants and community fundraising) be spent on the turf field until we have completed a recreation capital plan. This intends to ensure public consultation regarding recreation priorities, particularly community field assets, before any new investments take place. We have applied for federal funding for fencing and lighting for the turf field. In addition, Council passed a further resolution that a night sky bylaw be completed prior to construction of turf field lighting to ensure the larger goal of maintaining Bowen’s dark night skies are well considered.
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