Planning for Golden
Municipal administration is a patient process of assessing, prioritizing and planning
Every successful venture begins with a plan, and the bigger the venture, the more it requires careful thought. Even so, Ron Oszust, mayor of the Town of Golden, B.C., understands that every carefully-thought-out decision he and his council make will have both positive and negative impacts.
Asset management is always a work in progress for Golden’s council. Management of water and sewer systems, roads and 22 municipal structures at 14 building sites requires long-term planning, funding acquisition, ongoing monitoring and periodic reporting.
The Kicking Horse River flows through Golden, and the town’s government has been designated by the province as the diking authority. Thus, it is responsible for the dikes that protect Golden from occasional flooding and winter ice flows.
Among other proposals, Golden council has prepared a grant application for a $6.4-million project focusing on upgrades of the dike in the downtown core. This upgrade will necessitate bringing the entire dike up to the required +200-year flood level and will include an integrated sea wall to further propel tourism and economic development.
“We will continue applying for joint funding until we are successful,” Oszust said. “We will go through whatever is the most appropriate infrastructure grant program with higher level governments. We certainly can’t afford to pay for it with local taxes. If the funding doesn’t happen, then the project won’t happen, and we’ll have to live with the risk.
“We’re also in discussions with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure about replacing two of the bridges that cut through the middle of our community. The bridges are identified by that ministry as the fifth and seventh priority bridges in the province that have to get upgraded. Likely this will mean realignment of the street connecting the core of our downtown both laterally and vertically, so it’s a big job.”
Oszust said Golden is fortunate to have a diverse business base supporting the community’s economy. Louisiana Pacific Canada Ltd., CP Rail, several timber-frame construction companies, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and other tourism and small business sectors all provide tax revenue to support infrastructure and services.
“Along with other resort municipalities, we are building the case for continuing the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) Program beyond 2017,” said Oszust. “It’s been a critical program, helping provide products to meet the visitors’ expectations, and we need to see it continued in some form.”
Golden’s mayor and council work directly with Tourism Golden and other community stakeholders through the RMI program, through which an advisory committee has directed where the RMI funds are to be spent. An extensive revitalization is underway along the highway corridor—including landscaping, striking rock features and greenery—to present a more appealing appearance to travellers. Oszust said the intent is to turn passers-by into visitors who will come into the town. Attractive, themed directional signage and new informational kiosks within the downtown provide service to the visitors.
Golden’s first Business Walk will be held on September 21, in the lull after the busy summer season. Information gathered during the walk will help the chamber of commerce and the town’s administration to plan how to best support the business community.
“We have to make decisions based on the best information we can get,” Oszust said, “and we have to evaluate our results to make sure we’re moving in the right direction. We need to understand the big picture and that the only agenda is to do the best possible job for the whole community.”