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‘Hats off to Norma’: Resident relentless in quest for improvements to Salmon Arm street

City council approves about a dozen ‘specific referral’ requests in 2023 budget
Salmon Arm council puts more than $300,000 in a reserve fund in its 2023 budget for the Active Transportation Task Force (Black Press Media file photo)

In the world of ‘gets’ and ‘get nots,’ better known as specific referrals in the City of Salmon Arm’s annual budget, nearly half of requests received were fulfilled.

A total of 28 requests from citizens and organizations for city funds were submitted during the 2023 budget process, with about a dozen OK’d by city council.

Successful requests

• Topping the amounts approved by council was $318,000 put aside in a reserve for the city’s Active Transportation Task Force. A third of it, $100,000, will be new money coming from general revenue. The remainder will result from transfers from other related reserves. Although it wasn’t everything the task force asked for, council noted it is a good start in the push to provide options so people can get out of their vehicles.

Read more: From fields to signage: Citizens request help from Salmon Arm’s 2023 budget

Read more: 2022-Few organizations’ wishes granted due to tight Salmon Arm budget

• Another request approved was a long time coming. It has been on the specific referrals list for several years.

Resident Norma Harisch requested improvements to 45th Avenue NE between 25th and 30th streets, a request that, this year, staff had included in the 2023 budget at a cost of $175,000. The work will include a full upgrade including paving.

“It has come to council for a lot of years,” said Coun. Debbie Cannon. “I know I did not support it last budget. Hats off to Norma as she has been relentless in bringing it back and back to specific referrals.”

Coun. Kevin Flynn added: “I think this is an example of all the hard work staff does. Now it has moved into staff’s priority list… It’s an example of the budget process working the way it should.”

• A request for $24,000 for a Transit Bus Bench Reserve came from Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond, who suggested a change in direction for the benches.

She said a private contractor has paid for and maintained the benches in exchange for the opportunity to sell advertising. She proposed the city take back the benches, which would allow for their expansion and improvement. She said it’s also time to move away from benches as vehicles for ads. Coun. Kevin Flynn suggested they could be used to display the city’s branding.

The contract ends in December 2024, so funds could be taken out of the reserve in 2024 and used to pay for new benches, Wallace Richmond said.

Read more: Safety upgrades considered for streets in vicinity of Salmon Arm Cenotaph

• Council also agreed to a request from the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 62, to install an electrical junction box at the Cenotaph and additional lighting.

Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering and public works, explained changes are already planned for the area. The section between 2nd Street SE and Okanagan Avenue E, which is one-way and more of a driveway, he said, will be removed. Improvements to the electrical and lighting could potentially be part of that project, although an additional $36,000 would be needed.

Council agreed to use $36,000 from the city’s Canada 150 fund.

• Other approvals included: $4,000 for a WildSafe BC program to operate in Salmon Arm, reminding residents to help save bears by not putting garbage out early; and $1,500 for each of four years to the Shuswap Regional Trails Round Table. Mayor Alan Harrison spoke to its importance to the city, noting First Nations and provincial government ministry representatives attend. 

Requests turned down

• Council discussed at length a request from the Shuswap Youth Soccer Association for $1 million to contribute to synthetic fields at Blackburn Park. Council members spoke of their wish to support the organization and said, should it be successful in its pursuit of grants, some funds might be available from the Blackburn Park reserve.

City staff also noted that should the city lose use of what’s known as the Safeway Fields across from the Salvation Army building 0n 3rd Street SE, new fields might be needed where fill is currently piled behind the baseball diamond at Blackburn.

Read more: Soccer association proposes synthetic turf surfaces at Blackburn Park

• A request from the SAFE Society for $65,000 for Police Based Victim Services was turned down. Mayor Alan Harrison said council sees the importance of the request but the service is mandated a provincial responsibility.

• The Shuswap Food Action Society requested $27,500 to top up funds for the Food and Agricultural Strategy and move it to a short-term priority.

Coun. Kevin Flynn said the city just completed its strategic plan with the food strategy in the medium term, so it wouldn’t be moved. Mayor Alan Harrison said the grant-in-aid recommendations from the Shuswap Community Foundation (funds which the foundation manages on behalf of the city) have not been published yet as the budget hadn’t passed, but some groups will be getting support from council through this channel.

Coun. David Gonella said he thinks what’s happening in the community with food security is an immediate issue. Apologizing for the pun, he said it’s hard to swallow that the group has to wait two years for the city to make a plan. He said the issue is connected to climate, and the city should visit it in the “very near future.”

Harrison said he appreciated Gonella’s viewpoint and suggested he work with staff to put together a notice of motion that council could consider.

• Some requests were turned down because council was not presented with enough detailed information.
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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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