Looking to Golden’s future

Mayor and council in Golden, B.C., focus on asset management

Ron Oszust, mayor of Golden, B.C., appreciates the completion of a new, multi-use trail that connects the commercial businesses on Highway 1 with Golden's downtown. — Photo courtesy Town of Golden

The Town of Golden, B.C., is known by other municipalities in the province as a leader in asset management strategies. Golden’s administration continues to make the work on water and sewer systems and roads its first priority, so that infrastructure never becomes a financially crippling issue for the town.

The current project in the works is Phase 2 of an upgrade to the town’s wastewater treatment plant. Funding of a little more than $1.38 million for the upgrade was obtained in equal parts from the federal and provincial governments and the Town of Golden.

“This kind of work and investment may not be glamorous or glorious or make great news,” said Ron Oszust, mayor of Golden, “but these services are critically important to how the community actually functions. It is great business to get this stuff done.”

Phase 2 of the wastewater treatment system upgrade is proceeding in Golden. — Photo courtesy Town of Golden

There is some exciting news on the housing front in Golden. Oszust said that in 2016, the number of building permits issued was as high as it was before 2008, and this year the 2016 number will likely double.

Along with unprecedented single-family development, several developers are looking at putting up multi-family structures. That’s good news for those seeking housing and, more immediately, for those seeking employment in construction.

To support responsible growth, the Town of Golden has adopted a policy of infill—increasing population density within the municipal footprint—rather than outward expansion.

“We adjusted the bylaws to allow for secondary, detached residences on available residential lots, so that we can create increased density with our existing infrastructure as opposed to adding to that infrastructure,” said Oszust. “From a business perspective it makes sense to maximize the existing infrastructure instead of adding stuff that we’re going to have to take care of and replace over time. That policy has worked well for us.”

The number of residential building permits issued in Golden in 2017 rival those of pre-2008 levels. — Photo courtesy Town of Golden

Focus on service

Town council has also focused on making Golden a safe, walkable, connected community with sidewalks, trails and pathways. In a pilot project, solar lighting was installed on one of the popular local trails, and the Rotary Club is raising funds to install more light posts to further enhance accessibility and safety.

This summer, a multi-use trail was completed, connecting the commercial strip along the Trans-Canada Highway with downtown Golden. Travellers with motorhomes and other RVs can now easily walk or cycle into downtown to enjoy Golden’s shops and restaurants. The trail was a joint project of the Town of Golden and the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure (MOTI).

“We’re happy to have the new visitor centre operational,” said Oszust. “We needed to keep up with the times. This is an opportunity for us to acquaint people with the fact that Golden does have four-season attractions and recreation. The visitor centre is on land owned by MOTI, the assets on that land are owned by the Town, and Tourism Golden is the operator of the centre. So it’s very much a partnership.”

The new visitor information and amenities hub in Golden, B.C., offers expanded services and convenience for visitors. — Photo courtesy Tourism Golden

The right direction

Oszust said he’s very much enjoying working with local council, and that John Wilsgard is an amazing CAO with a phenomenal staff.

“Working with this group is really satisfying,” Oszust said. “It’s not the bright lights and the grip-and-grin occasions that are important. The wins come slowly, and sometimes the satisfaction comes from simply knowing that you’re going in the right direction as a community.

“Respectful disagreement is a valuable element in our council. We don’t always agree on issues, but we all care about the community, we’re respectful of each other, and we carry on.”

Marie Milner

Marie Milner is a writer and photographer for Kootenay Business magazine and several other publications. She appreciates the inspiration that she gets during her interviews and hopes to share that inspiration with you. View all of Marie Milner’s articles

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