Community Comment: Village continues to move forward

"We continue to move forward with professionalizing our operations, improving processes and adopting best practices."

Top of mind for all of us right now is the work our volunteer fire department have been doing joining the regional effort to contain fires in our area.  We are safe because of their tireless work and sacrifice and we cannot thank them enough for their effort.  The Village of Salmo Fire Department is a most shining example of the volunteer spirit that characterizes our community.

Our July 1st celebration, organized by the Salmo Celebrations Society, was a huge success once again.  We are proud of the Salmo Mites girls’ softball team who deservedly won first prize overall and for their float’s decoration in our annual parade.

Another group of volunteers, the Salmo Parks Working Group founded by our Chamber of Commerce, is also busy working collaboratively with Village staff and Council to upgrade our main community park – Knights of Pythias Park. They have just completed a visioning session that will see a concept Master Plan produced and taken back to community groups for consultation and endorsement.

Our Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Diane Kalen-Sukra has pursued a number of grant opportunities that are already funding an asset management program, a host of health and safety upgrades to the Fire Hall and Village office, a corporate carbon emissions reduction program and improvements to the Village’s mapping system.

We are also hopeful that a very needed grant to fund a playground – selected democratically by a “dot” system by Salmo’s elementary students –  for our community park will come through.  Other grants in the works are slated for infrastructure studies, the development of an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan and necessary updates to our Official Community Plan.

We continue to move forward with professionalizing our operations, improving processes and adopting best practices. This includes employing proper procurement processes and following the requirements of the Village’s purchasing policy to ensure fair, transparent and accountable decisions are made with regard to the selection of service providers and/or product suppliers.

Our CAO, who has fostered a productive workplace culture that rewards merit and dedication, has just promoted our civic works lead hand to the position of Foreman.  On behalf of Council, who unanimously endorsed this decision, I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate Fred Paton, our civic works Foreman on his promotion and acknowledge his good work.

Public acknowledgement for the dramatic improvements being made to our roads, parks, signs, facilities and cemetery have been pouring in.  Special gratitude has been expressed to the Village for the road line painting, which is now almost complete for the first time in years. The addition of three hard working summer students to our Civic Works crew has significantly increased our ability to address the backlog of maintenance and lower priority but important projects throughout the Village.

For the first time in many years, the Village of Salmo has filed all our statutory reports fully and on time.  I encourage anyone interested to take a look at our Annual Report posted to our Village website which identifies progress made and future directions.   With our 2014 audit complete and filed we are well positioned to begin budget deliberations for 2016 months earlier than ever before.

Our practice of having “Town Hall” meetings continues with presentations by our auditors and Chief Financial Officer being the keynote for our last meeting on Tuesday, June 23.

Council meetings continue to be well attended, typically at least two dozen interested residents at every meeting, so we continue to hold them in a larger venue than used in the past ensuring the public knows and feels welcome.  The reinstitution of a question and answer period at the end of each meeting has been productive, not just for the public, but helpful for staff and Council in receiving feedback.

The unexpected resignation of two of our Council members in June was certainly regrettable and I wish them well in their future endeavors. Thankfully, we still have quorum and are able to continue with the work of Council addressing public concerns and policy development.  We have appointed our Chief Elections Officer and the by-election voting day has been set for Saturday, September 12, 2015. We look forward to candidates coming forward willing to accept the challenges and demands of local elected office.

Stephen White is the Mayor of Salmo

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.