Our community made significant strides in 2018 on a number of areas, and on behalf of Council I’m pleased to highlight some of our accomplishments, along with future goals that are still to be achieved.
The rising cost of housing in southern coastal British Columbia has become an increasing challenge for many municipalities, including Courtenay. Our Council is committed to working towards solutions. In 2018 we engaged with a number of regional housing and social service providers to collectively work on our mutual goals of addressing housing insecurity and homelessness.
This collaboration is in addition to years of advocacy with other levels of government, which resulted in progress on two major projects in 2018.
Construction on the Braidwood affordable housing project began in the spring and continued throughout the year. This facility involved cooperation between regional local governments and service organizations, the Province of BC and BC Housing, and the Wachiay Friendship Centre and M’akola Housing Society, who partnered on the development and will manage the property. This project adds 35 much-needed new units of affordable rental housing in our community, in a central location that’s within walking distance to shops, services, and transit. The facility opened in March 2019.
In 2018 Council also approved the lease of property at 988-8th Street to BC Housing for a new 46-unit modular supportive housing project through the Province of B.C.’s Rapid response to Homelessness program. Site preparation began in the summer, and the facility was completed in early 2019.
Other progress on affordable housing in 2018 included the new Downtown Revitalization Tax Exemption, which will stimulate redevelopment of existing buildings and encourage the development of new buildings, including affordable housing units.
Our Courtenay Council has declared our support for housing diversity through our Strategic Priorities, and it’s very exciting to see steps taken toward fulfilling this vision, while acknowledging the hard reality of how much more needs to be done.
Our transportation network affects each one of us daily, and our growing community must set priorities for infrastructure investments in our roads, bike lanes, and sidewalks. The Connecting Courtenay: Master Transportation Plan involved significant public and stakeholder engagement throughout 2018. Plans for all modes of transportation over the next 20 years are being developed, including recommendations for investments within the next five to 10 years. This will be one of the most important planning documents for our future, and I look forward to its completion in 2019.
In regional news, $62.8 million in federal and provincial funding for a new water treatment facility through the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) was announced in November. As the City of Courtenay purchases bulk, treated water from the CVRD, this project will directly benefit our residents. Temporary UV treatment installed in early 2018 has already significantly reduced instances of boil water notices, which had been a recurring issue for the Comox Valley water system since late 2014. The water treatment facility will provide cleaner, more reliable drinking water to our community, and we look forward to its completion in 2021.
2018 was an exciting year for me personally as I was elected Mayor following the local government elections in the fall, with the steadfast support of my family. I am excited to lead our Council and facilitate a respectful and cooperative team that works together to fulfil the goals of our entire community. We look forward to further engaging with the public as we work on the many opportunities and challenges as we transition from a small town to a modern city.