Community Comment: Fruitvale continues to make big strides forward

"We have a great team that I enjoy working with and I’m proud of our accomplishments to date."

Time flies, I am already 15 months into my term as a rookie councillor in the Village of Fruitvale. There’s a learning curve and time commitment but we have a great team that I enjoy working with and I’m proud of our accomplishments to date.

We have been able to maintain the existing successful youth and seniors programs and add to the seniors’ wellbeing by putting together a very successful seniors’ gym with 400 members. We are now in the process of identifying the wishes/needs of the young thru middle-aged adults and hopefully we can do something to support their needs. We were successful doing our part in negotiating a one year recreation agreement between BV Recreation and the City of Trail which will need to be addressed again this year. Some of our current projects include the engineering, costing, and planning of some needed road and infrastructure upgrades on Davis Avenue, the upgrading of our sewage treatment plant, and building a walkway and park on the north side of the railway downtown.

Our tax base which is largely residential supports our day to day operations but very few projects would be possible if not for grant support thanks to the great work of staff led by CAO Lila Cresswell in identifying and applying for appropriate grants, and the generosity of local businesses and service clubs such as the BV Lions and BV Rotary in supporting projects.

With any vibrant community, volunteers are key to the lifestyle afforded by the community, the aforementioned service clubs are run by dedicated volunteers as well as our Curling Club, Bowling Lanes, Golf Club, Snowmobile Club, X-Country Ski Club, minor sports, South Columbia Search & Rescue, Fruitvale Fire Department, BV Blooming Society Communities in Bloom, Church groups, PAC Committee of our school, and the BV May Days Society (my apologies to those I’ve missed). Village Council has a leadership role in the community but is only one small part in creating the lifestyle we want in our little Valley – we are fortunate to be supported by hundreds of dedicated volunteers.

Outside Fruitvale we continue to work with our neighbours and add Fruitvale’s voice on other diverse regional committees and boards such as the Greater Trail Chamber of Commerce, the West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital Board, the RDKB, the Lower Columbia Community Development Team, and Affordable Housing to name a few.

Council also pays attention to issues outside our jurisdiction that affect our residents; currently we are watching closely the Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations proposal to create An AMA (access management area) in the Pend d’Oreille Valley.

This is a backyard recreation area for many of our residents as well as residents of area “A”, Montrose, Trail, and Salmo. Closing a portion of the Pend d’Oreille Valley to vehicle access is no different than closing any other recreation area such as a ballpark, soccer pitch, arena, or park – we take it very seriously. We encourage residents to get outside, connect with nature, enjoy the area we live in – we do not want to see access restricted to only those that are able to hike, or horseback into large tracts of the Valley; we want it to remain open for the responsible recreation of all people, disabled or not.

Council unanimously supported the motion I brought forward “That Council of the Village of Fruitvale does not support the proposed changes to the Regional Access Management Plan for the Pend d’Oreille Valley area until a full public consultation has been undertaken by the Province of BC Ministry of Lands Forests and Natural Resource Operations and studies taken on the potential effect on wildlife and the potential limitations to recreational users.”

We hope for a plan that addresses the needs of all users of this important recreation and wildlife area.

As we look forward to the rest of 2016 I think it is important to pause and remember the tragic loss of young lives our Village suffered late last year and to continue to support one another through life’s challenges as we move forward to have a safe and positive 2016.

Steve Morissette is a councillor for the Village of Fruitvale.

Community Comment is an opportunity for elected officials from our local municipalities to update citizens in the region on the events, plans and progress in their respective communities. Every Friday, the Trail Times will present, on a rotating basis, a submission from councils, school trustees or regional district directors.