The District of Sparwood is ahead of the game

Sparwood experienced great success in 2012 and looks forward to special projects in 2013

by
District of Sparwood mayor, Lois Halko.

Lois Halko is the mayor of Sparwood, B.C. — Sherry Benko of Dilly Dally Designs photo

According to Mayor Lois Halko, the district of Sparwood continues to prosper, as it lies in the geographical centre of the five coal mines in British Columbia's Elk Valley. This prosperity is demonstrated by the significant growth the district has experienced in residential, commercial and light industrial areas over the past three years.

Kootenay Business spoke with Halko about the District of Sparwood's successes in 2012 and what Sparwood is looking forward to in 2013.

Recent achievements

The Iron Rails Overpass and Elk River Crossing bridges were commissioned in October 2011 and officially opened in the spring of 2012. The two bridges are joined by the paved Link trail. This extraordinary development provides an enjoyable 20-minute walk or cycle route from Sparwood Heights to downtown Sparwood. A five-kilometre ride by car is reduced to 1.6 kilometres. The route also provides safe access to the river and the Jewel Park wetland, as well as an emergency vehicle route if and when required. 

"What started out to be an innovative way to protect our water and wastewater pipes by suspending them under the pedestrian river crossing turned out to be a major community asset," said Halko.

In 2009, the Sparwood Futures Society accepted the sponsorship of the Lions club initiative to build a water spray park. The society worked diligently to raise the funds to plan and build the spray park.

"With enormous support from residents, community groups and small and large businesses, the required $300,000 was raised," said Halko.

The District of Sparwood partnered with the Sparwood Futures Society by providing the deep infrastructure needed for the park and by erecting a building on the site to house washrooms, change rooms and a covered gazebo area designed for outdoor concessions and social events. Additionally, the District has assumed the ongoing operational costs. This collaborative community effort resulted in the opening of the water spray park—which is located on the Recreation Centre grounds—in June of 2012.

Plans and projects for 2013

Halko said the community is delighted that Schickedanz Bros. is planning the construction of an 80-room Best Western Hotel at the intersection of highways 3 and 43. The four-storey structure will include a pool and hot tub, meeting rooms and a restaurant and lounge. Sitework has commenced with the building of a retaining wall and land preparation, and construction of the hotel is anticipated to begin this spring.

"We expect that this significant addition to our downtown core will be the catalyst for additional commercial interest in our community," said Halko.

Also for 2013, a plan is in place for the retrofit of the leisure centre's energy systems at an estimated cost of $570,000. Halko said the District was successful in being approved for assistance through a Community Recreation Program grant.

"A state-of-the-art high-efficiency heat-reclaim system is planned," said Halko, "which will provide significant energy savings, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and replace the existing inefficient, aging heating systems within the leisure centre. It is estimated that leisure centre emissions will be reduced by 58 per cent, a significant contribution towards assisting the District in achieving its goal."

In response to increased economic activity, the District of Sparwood hired a business development liaison in December of 2012. The liaison will facilitate the creation of a community economic development strategy and conduct a comprehensive business inventory survey.

"He will develop partnerships with representatives of business, industry and government organizations," said Halko, "and work with the business community and District of Sparwood staff in the implementation of a tax revitalization program for the downtown core."

Karen Kornelsen

Karen Kornelsen, a writer for Kootenay Business Magazine, has a degree in jounalism. She enjoys finding and reporting the news from the business community. View all of Karen Kornelsen’s articles

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