Town continues 2011 budget talks

Due to a combination of personal reasons and conference obligations, it’s been a few weeks since the town’s elected officials have met to discuss the town’s 2011 budget.

  • Feb. 22, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Due to a combination of personal reasons and conference obligations, it’s been a few weeks since the town’s elected officials have met to discuss the town’s 2011 budget.

As such, when all councillors were together for their February 15 committee meetings, two budget meetings were struck, including 5 p.m. meetings on February 21, and March 3.

Both meetings will be open to the public, and will include discussions around all remaining items. These items include capital projects, the Cowichan Lake Education Centre (see Page 18) and Lakeview Park, among other things.

The budget discussions include many estimates of what the town’s elected officials expect to spend on things, the town’s chief administrative officer Joseph Fernandez said.

“When we look at estimates, we should stick with estimates,” he encouraged the town’s elected officials. “They should be real estimates.”

When you add something, you must take something out, he said, otherwise there will be tax increases.

Thus far in the budget meetings, a few smaller items have been added to the budget, including $4,000 in signage, which can encompass signs for trails, the rivers, and whatever else that may be brought up in the coming year.

Green goals

The town’s director of planning James van Hemert has filled out a report on what the town has done to combat greenhouse gas emissions – a report that was surprising to some.

“I was surprised by how much we’ve actually done,” councillor Jayne Ingram said.

Efforts this past year have included:

– The evaluation of greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and strategies, with a student hired in 2009 to prepare a detailed report on Energy and Emissions.

There’s a goal of reducing community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent by 2020, and 80 per cent by 2050, relative to 2007 numbers.

Corporate-wide greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced by 20 per cent by 2012, 33 per cent by 2020, and 80 per cent by 2050.

– Four inefficient fleet vehicles were replaced, with one being replaced by a fuel efficient Honda Fit.

– Bicycle racks were installed in public spaces.

– There’s been promotion of replacing inefficient wood-burning stoves, at the regional level.

– There’s been the ongoing installation of water meters and a low flush toilet rebate program has been in place.

– Tree planting has taken place at the Lakeview Park Campground and at other areas of town.

– Semi-annual town meetings have been held, where the public was educated on environment issues.

Proposed actions for this year include:

– Green infrastructure, such as rain gardens and walking trails, for new capital projects and developments.

– The drafting of an anti-idling policy.

– Continued water meter installation.

– Urban reforestation.

– Continued town hall meetings, with the next one to be held May 31.

What’s next?

Following their February 21 budget discussions, the Town of Lake Cowichan’s elected officials will next meet on Tuesday, February 22, for their Regular Council meeting, to be held at the Municipal Hall at 6 p.m.

As always, the meeting will be open to the public, with questions and comments from the public addressed by mayor and council as the meeting’s last item.