2020 has been a year of challenges and unexpected issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although vaccines are being approved and distributed throughout the world, these challenges are going to continue for the foreseeable future. With this in mind, Council will continue to focus on maintaining the essential services that our residents rely on daily, while still keeping an eye on initiatives to support economic recovery.
Looking back on 2020, there are some accomplishments worth noting. Council approved several variances in support of development in our community. Construction projects we are looking forward to being started in 2021 include an affordable housing project on Airport St, a multi family housing project at 688 Co-Op Ave, a Dairy Queen on Main St and the continued industrial build-out of Maple Ave. In addition the Gallagher Lake Siphon Repair project was tendered and awarded. Construction started on November 1st, with completion slated for 2022.
The financial challenges of 2020 were significant for the residents of Oliver.
To help with the challenges, Council rolled back the approved Property tax increase of 9% to NIL and the approved Water User Fee increase of 4% to NIL.”
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The upcoming 2021 general budget discussions are scheduled for January and will be more challenging than ever. Council will be looking to find a balance between continuing to reduce the financial impact of COVID-19 on Citizens and prepare for the significant increase in RCMP cost in 2022. The $1,591,000 in COVID Restart Money received by the province will be integral to the upcoming budget discussions as we look for ways to reduce the taxation impact.
Looking forward to 2021 there is optimism the lock downs will disappear and we can all get back to enjoying what makes life so special here in Oliver and the South Okanagan. Priorities for Council will include supporting local business through the continued roll out of the Grow Oliver Plan, encouraging development on Station St., supporting the revitalization of Main St. and affordable housing.
On behalf of Mayor, Council and staff, have a Merry Christmas. Please, let’s do our part to get through the next few months and keep our loved ones safe.