Looking back on 2017 and ahead to 2018, this is the first of a three-part series with Trail Mayor Mike Martin
Local politics will certainly come into play this year with a civic election set for autumn.
Until then, there’s day-to-day business and an events-filled calendar for Trail council as it heads into this last year of a four-year municipal term.
There’s the Riverfront Centre to occupy, a Trail All Wheel Skate Park to break ground on and oversee, major construction to tender for Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital, and a number of smaller loose ends to tie up before election day, presently slated for Oct. 20.
With so much on their plate over the next nine months, the Trail Times caught up with Mayor Martin to ask about council’s final commitments before voters head to the polls.
“Given that 2018 is an election year, there will surely be some distraction for council, especially in the latter part of the year, as each current member of council considers their individual decision on whether to put their names forward for another term,” said Martin. “However, the immediate tasks ahead are well established with action plans well defined – so it should largely be business as usual as council focuses on bringing their term to a successful conclusion.”
Municipal terms were changed to four years in 2014 election – prior to that, length of service never exceeded three years.
“This council has been subjected to the first four-year term for municipal representatives and with this comes a considerable level of personal commitment,” Martin said.
“With all the challenges, at the end of the day, council has come together and led the city through a very exciting and rewarding time in Trail’s history.”
Early in their term, the mayor and six elected officials – councillors Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson, Carol Dobie, Lisa Pasin, Kevin Jolly, Robert Cacchioni and Sandy Santori – came together as a team to develop a strategic plan that would guide them through to 2018.
“(This) established a strong focus and alignment in terms of our vision and how we wanted to see the city advance and develop,” Martin explained.
“To a very significant degree, we now see how this planning process has resulted in success, as many of the objectives have been delivered. Given the very dynamic nature of the city’s operations and the interplay with many external organizations, there are of course always numerous challenges along the way that also needed to be addressed.”
The laundry list of city responsibilities has grown exponentially in four years. First there was the monumental task of overseeing the Columbia River Skywalk build, then came re-vamping Silver City Days with the city taking the lead, and finally, tendering and operational challenges of the new library/museum, including parking logistics and taking on tourism from the new site.
During this time, work progressed on the terminal building at Trail Regional Airport until it officially opened in late November. Prior to that, the city and regional leaders lobbied the federal government’s ACAP branch (Airport Capital Assistance Program) and were successful in a $4 million grant for improvement projects, primarily re-pavement of the runway.
All this, while Trail council made bi-weekly decisions on bylaws that included a buzz about bees – for the first time in Silver City history, apiculture is allowed in municipal limits – and a “No Smoking” policy in all public spaces. After initial push back, council dug in its heels and came up with a re-configuration of economic development, and through process, passed re-zoning bylaws to make way for new business in historical sites like St. Anthony’s Church, and vacant spaces in Waneta Plaza.
Most recent, was the permanent closure of the riverside end of Spokane Street. Through council process, part of the street and adjacent empty lots were shut down to allow broad scope renovations in the former Crown Point Hotel, now called the “Crown Columbia All-Suite Boutique Hotel – riverside since 1929.”
In between all that, city council chose to purchase the old Union Hotel for demolition as well as the former C.S. Williams Clinic, which will likely be bulldozed further down the road.
Notably, the old Helena Street clinic was legally obtained through a “tax sale” or non-payment of property taxes – about $9,200 – dating back to 2013.
Through it all, Martin says council remained on task and through strong resolve and leadership, has delivered on the plan and at the same time, dealt with day-to-day governance and operations of the city.
“We are definitely seeing a positive change in Trail as we advance the strategic initiatives,” he said.
“There is increased confidence in the community which is resulting in further private investment as we continue to work towards enhancing the pride, vitality and growth in the community. Council will continue to work diligently as we enter the last year of this four year term and appreciate the public’s participation and feedback as we work collectively for the betterment of the community.”
Martin added, “Each member of council can take considerable personal pride and satisfaction as we reflect on the major changes that have occurred during the term and further how a significant number of the early defined strategic initiatives have been brought to a successful conclusion for the benefit of the public. It is hoped the next council and administration will continue to build on the successes that were realized as Trail continues to be transformed into a modern and desirable city that is being recognized as a leader and innovator in so many different areas.”