Harwood hopes for steady year in 2013

Relatively strong lumber prices mean 2013 should be a steady year for Clearwater, according to Mayor John Harwood

Keith McNeill

Relatively strong lumber prices mean 2013 should be a steady year for Clearwater, according to Mayor John Harwood.

"I think it should be a fairly stable year. There are a lot of people back to work, and the people in business I talk to are happy," he said.

Domtar recently announcement that it is shutting down one of the two production lines at its Kamloops pulp-mill. However, Harwood thinks that likely will mean local sawmills simply will need to look for other uses for their chips and other by-products.

The biggest item on the District's agenda will be taking over road maintenance next fall.

Under the terms of incorporation, the province took care of the roads within the new municipality for the first five years. That grace period is about to run out.

The District has been meeting with staff from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to help determine what levels of service are desired, said Harwood.

That needs to be determined before the work can be put out to contract.

Also to be determined will be whether District of Clearwater's road maintenance will be in one big contract, several smaller ones, or done in-house by municipal staff.

Harwood noted that the District is fortunate in that there are already several businesses in the area with graders and the other necessary equipment.

"We need to have that all lined up before next winter," said the mayor.

Also on the agenda for the coming year will be construction of new changing rooms at the Sportsplex. The rooms are needed to accommodate the rising number of female hockey players using the arena. Construction is expected to start next spring.

The new eco-depot being built by Thompson-Nicola Regional District near the old Camp Two sawmill site should be fully online early in the new year.

The Clearwater landfill is being gradually shut down in anticipation of the eco-depot opening.

One service that will continue at the landfill will be septage disposal, said Harwood.

A grant has been applied for through the regional district to construct a septage disposal facility. In the meantime, a private business will operate the septage disposal pits at the landfill site.

Shutting down the pits would have saved the municipality some money, said the mayor, but would have cost local residents who have their septic tanks pumped, as the septage would have had to be hauled to Heffley Creek.

The District is developing a master plan to extend the sewer system to the area near Dutch Lake. Once the plan is ready staff will apply for grants to help pay for the project.

Also in the works are upgrades to the water system. Some areas on the system have restrictive flows at times, said the mayor.

Locating a heliport next to Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital continues to be on the agenda.

Another health-related project would see the municipality work with the hospital and private contractors to provide assisted living within the community.

This would have full-time staff and would provide a level of care somewhat lower than that at Forestview Place extended care wing at DHMH, but higher than that available at Evergreen Acres.

Interior Health Authority is enthused about the project, Harwood said, and there is land available near the hospital.

Such a facility creates its own economy that is independent of forestry and mining, he noted.

"I think we've done relatively well, so far," Harwood said of the municipality's progress since incorporation. "People think these things some easily. I've worked on some of these projects for three or four years. It just takes time. And if things tighten up, we've got to manage for that as well."