Today — it being the first Monday of the month — should be a Town of Osoyoos Council meeting day.
But, with the New Year fresh and the community still basking in the warmth of an extended holiday season, Council will forego meetings as both its members and Town administration get back up to speed.
That pause gives us time to review some of the issues Council and the community will face in upcoming months — issues born in 2018 that will require some time and energy in 2019.
- Retail Cannabis — With two retail marijuana shops in the approval mill, Council is still working on what it will be charging in licensing fees. It set an initial fee of $500 for 2019 and asked administration to prepare a new business licence bylaw for Council review.
- Downtown makeover — With an action plan in its back pocket, the Town now will be looking to orchestrate a substantial rebuild of the downtown core that includes meeting spaces, landmarks, improved business opportunities and residential spaces.
- Peanut Pond development — Council’s decision for a proposed residential development on the west shore of Peanut Pond came with a commitment on at least one councillor’s part to ensure increased traffic would flow smoothly along Vadette Drive and Valiant Lane. As the development moves from concept to shovels in the ground, expect continued —and likely perplexing talk about road improvements.
- Mixed-income rental housing — Here’s an area where the Town has a couple of options: taking a lead or waiting for a not-for-profit housing effort to form and take charge. In November, the Town was left out of an initial provincial effort to add 4,900 affordable mixed-income rental homes in 42 communities. Another opportunity to participate is expected in 2019 with the provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing encouraging communities to look out for future proposal calls and “be ready to demonstrate their needs and project viability under the parameters outlined within each proposal call.”
- Bags or carts — The Town is between a rock and a hard place as it determines what to do about a Recycle BC decision to do away with blue-bag recycling and instead require its member communities to use recycling carts. Council has a sense Osoyans want to continue to put out the trash in bags rather than wheel carts to the curb. An existing curbside collection contract reflects this positioning.
- Health Care Centre — Another bit of consulting work that wrapped up in 2018 involved a new comprehensive health care centre for the community. Three locations were identified with a June 2020 operational target included in the consultant’s recommendations. To make that happen, the Town will have to move this project forward considerably in 2019.
- Gateway Plaza — The addition of both a KFC restaurant and a Great Canadian Oil Change franchise within the Gateway Plaza parking lot was met by Osoyoos residents with both eagerness and trepidation. Work on both projects is expected in 2019.
- Osoyoos Airport — A society overseeing improvements at the Osoyoos airport has hopes for a runway extension and other improvements in 2019 as it continues its work to make the airport an attractive portal for business and tourist traffic to the community. That might include some work on the part of the Town to acquire and develop surrounding land on the part of the society — or, at the very least, provide support as the society undertakes that work itself.
- Spring flooding — With two consecutive years of worrisome flooding in its rearview mirror — and a warning from the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen that more flooding is likely in 2019 — Council will likely be looking to be proactive in its delivery of flood-related services this spring.
- The Palms development property — The Town received a 1.02-hectare, $700,000 gift in July 2018 that now requires Council to come up with a way to use the Maple Drive property in such a way that it “shares the purpose of the community and is used for public good.” The Town is expected in 2019 to begin an engagement process to determine a relevant use for the property.
Osoyoos Council has its first meeting in 2019 scheduled for January 21.