Looking back and looking ahead: A conversation with Karen Hamling

Mayor Hamling looks back on 2015, and what's ahead in 2016

What has 2015 been like for you as mayor?

“It’s been an interesting year. We have a new council. Even if you only have one member change at council, it becomes a whole new council, because now you have different comments, and different opinions. I’m quite pleased with the interaction that we’re having.”

“In the spring that we sat down and did our four year plan, and it was nice to get perspective of everybody, and see where they felt the community needed to go. We review it once a year so we can adjust, but it gives us an area of focus and how to move forward.”

“There was a bit of turmoil over the rail bed, hopefully that moves forward smoothly this year.”

“Other than that, basically it’s been business as usual and trying to meet the needs of the community as best we can with the resources that we have.”

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What were some of the highlights of the year for you?

“One of the positive things that came out of 2015 was the ability to record the council meetings and the Mayor’s weekly report on our local radio station The Arrow 107.1 FM.”

“The highlight of the year is working with the new council, and also being the chair of the regional district. That was my first year, and I really enjoyed the challenge of that. When you’re the chair, you’re a lot more aware of what’s out there, so you can bring that back for the benefit of the community. I found that was great.”

“We got the funding for the pressure-reducing valve, and that’s going to make a big difference one the pipes. There was so much pressure, we were constantly repairing and replacing them, so that’s going to be a huge thing for us.”

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What are your hopes for Nakusp in 2016?

“We’re finally seeing the completion of the boat launch. They started at it in 2008 or 2009, and each year, it’s had to be delayed, so we’ll see the completion of it this year. I’m really excited about that.”

“The other thing is it’s really important that we get the roof of the lobby and the arena replaced. It’s a huge thing that’s going to cost probably close to $400,000 to get the two parts done. We’ve had some really good news come down, and that’s Columbia Basin Trust is going to be putting some funding out there for the next two years for infrastructure. We will be applying for that and getting in on the first deadline, and hoping that we hit that, because it’s really important to get that arena roof done.”

“It’s important we get that in a better place (financially). Council has been very concerned over the last few years, and we’ve only been raising taxes one to one and a half per cent, and we’ve been falling behind. We have to be able to have the money to provide the basic services. In order to do that, we’re going to have to look at a five per cent increase this year, and it will probably be the same next year and the year after, which will equate to a $40 increase to the average household.”

“We really have to start getting our finances in place so we can start building our reserves. We had huge reserves, but we needed them for water and sewer so now we have to start building them again.”

“The trails master plan that will be a really big thing. It will mostly be Nakusp and area and the area director is going to be putting some funding into that and is quite happy that we’re working together on that.”

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As mayor of Nakusp, do you have any new year’s resolutions for 2016?

My goal is always to try to work with the community and support the community’s needs as best we can. We can’t always be everything to everyone and as much as you would like to be, I have that part of me that wants to make everyone happy, I can’t do it.”

 

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