By 7 p.m., the Village Financial Open House in Nakusp was like a party. The Emergency Services Building meeting room was filled with citizenry and staff chatting about village operations.
Treasurer Rob Richards, relatively new to the town, was happy to see so many faces come out, see where their money went and ask questions. Each Village department had prepared poster boards which graphically displayed what their major costs and concerns were. Besides the department managers, there were several staff who showed up too.
Public Works manager Mike Pedersen had rusty pipes and pictures of several leaks which have been a major focus for his department. They have repaired over a dozen major leaks, and will be taking the crack-fixing battle to the reservoir, which loses two and a half litres of treated water a second.
Over the course of the evening, water was referred to as “gold” by more than one person in the room, including councillor Guy Duchaine who recently attended a Water Smart conference in Kimberley at the end of October. As Duchaine mentioned earlier in the evening, Public Works has likely already surpassed the 15 per cent reduction in water usage thanks to their work on leaks and finding new ways to use reclaimed water.
Consciousness is growing about one of our most precious resources, one that is so abundant here that it has been taken for granted. But Duchaine has not been the first to point out that if younger people develop the same wasteful water habits their parents have, our pot of gold could run dry.
Another watery local treasure was also on display, the Nakusp Hot Springs. The Springs has had a challenging year with lower than normal numbers of visitors, thanks in part to the cold, wet early summer. September there was a huge jump in campers at the Springs. The biggest news from the top of the mountain is the new footbridge, for which Village staff are working their way through the required paperwork and plans are for construction to start next spring.
Parks and Arena have been busily maintaining Village facilities from tennis courts to rink to cemeteries. If you go by the downtown cemetery, you’ll see a new display board with history and pictures about how some notable people came to be buried in Nakusp.
Fire Chief Terry Warren was out representing the Nakusp Volunteer Fire Department, who have been training and at the ready but fortunately have had a much quieter year than the last.
The evening felt like a bit of a party, and perhaps that’s what that’s behind the meaning of that ill-defined and over-used word “success.” Having that many people come out and discover what their tax money is used for from the people who do the work was excellent. If transparent and democratic government is something citizens truly want, taking part, asking questions and building relationships with public employees is a necessary step. Nakusp’s Financial Open House was one step toward more engaged residents who care about responsible government.
The exciting part is, Nakuspians have an opportunity to find out what is happening in their town during each council meeting. People are welcome to discover how decisions are made, ask questions and make their voices heard.