Water protection a top priority by public as North Cowichan prepares its budget for 2018. (File photo)

Water protection a top priority by public as North Cowichan prepares its budget for 2018. (File photo)

Water protection top priority for public in North Cowichan 2018 budget planning

Final budget expected to be adopted in May

The most important priority in North Cowichan’s budget for 2018 should be keeping the municipality’s water safe and clean, according to public feedback.

Other priorities include infrastructure maintenance — including roads, sidewalks and pipes – public safety, building active transportation networks for cycling and walking, and affordable housing.

North Cowichan residents engaged and provided input on Budget 2018 at three public meetings and on PlaceSpeak, North Cowichan’s online citizen engagement platform.

Participants were asked to express their opinions on the topics of priority spending areas and municipal services areas, and were asked, in their view, what the municipality is doing well and where the municipality could improve in 2018.

When asked in what areas the municipality could improve, participants highlighted the areas of water management and education, policing, and provided comments challenging proposed future projects.

“By getting out there in October and engaging the public early in the budget development process, it gives council more time to consider the input as we make budget decisions over the next several months,” says Mayor Jon Lefebure.

“The final budget is adopted each year in May, so the feedback we get at this early stage really helps to guide our decisions.”

Residents can continue to provide input on the budget, as meetings continue on into the New Year.

At the Nov. 27 committee of the whole meeting, council will review the five-year financial plan and capital expenditure plan.

All budget-related meetings are open to the public and a complete list of these meetings can be found on the Budget 2018 website at www.northcowichan.ca/budget2018.