Budget talks a trying time for council

Mayor Ross Forrest's report:Budget talks are a very trying time for council.

Budget talks are a very trying time for council. There is no tougher decision to make than those that affect all of our citizens. The town’s staff has done a good job in providing the estimated costs for this year and projected costs for future years for water, sewer and capital projects we would like to see going forward.

We are aware of the fact that the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) has mandated secondary water treatment for the near future, plus our sewer treatment plant requires funding for necessary upgrades. These, along with ongoing improvements to our basic infrastructure, all come with a cost. We recognize improvements are required to make this a desirable place to live and we feel strongly that our downtown revitalization projects will assist in making this possible. We are aware of a few new buildings being built, plus improvements to commercial and residential structures and it is encouraging to see some properties being cleaned up. We hope this is contagious and others will follow suit, making Lake Cowichan a town we can be proud of. We all agree that we want to provide services that are best for our community, but sometimes we differ on the methods required to accomplish our goals. Council has engaged in informative, respectful debate to understand how our decisions will affect the community as a whole. We will be implementing a 4.5 per cent tax increase for this year as we attempt to satisfy the town’s needs.

Welcome Tamu Miles as the new editor of the Lake Cowichan Gazette and we look forward in working together. We attempt to get our messages out to the public through many different avenues, including our bulletin board, social media and public meetings. However, the most effective method still remains to be objective reporting from our community newspaper. Our editor plays a role in assuring the public receives information in a honest and accurate manner. Good luck to Tamu and hope she embraces this new challenge of her career.

Great story recently in the Lake Cowichan Gazette by Gilbert Lewis regarding 15-year-old Lauren Frost. Lauren wrote a 300 word essay and won $25,000 for Lake Cowichan Secondary School in the Staples Canada Essay Contest. Due to Lauren’s convictions, she wrote about how her school is helping the environment and her pride and passion came through to succeed and win this national-wide contest. Current and future LCSS students can thank Lauren as these funds are earmarked for their computer lab. We are very proud of Lauren’s achievement —well done!

In the recent LCSS newsletter, there are statistics from STAR4C Raving Mad for the Environment that I would like to share. STAR4C stands for Students Taking Action by Reducing, Reusing, Recycling, Refusing, and Composting. The school is striving to reduce its impact on the environment. The students to date, as of March 12, have collected the following:

1619 kg total weight: 876 kg (54 per cent) composted – 270 kg (17 per cent) recycled and 473 kg (29 per cent) to landfill.

It is a great achievement that only 29 per cent of their waste is ending up at the landfill. All the students who participate in this programme are setting an example for all of us to follow.