Mayor and Council as part of the budgeting and annual reporting requirements have completed their annual review and discussions on priorities for 2016. The annual process provides direction for council and staff on the issues and projects for initiation, implementation and/or completion in the current year. Progress is tracked and a progress report will be released by Council at the end of the year. Priorities selected for 2016 are as follows:
Council has committed to beautify Downtown of Princeton in the coming year with the replanting of trees on Bridge Street that were removed due to winter damage. The street lights will be painted black to co-ordinate with the lights that were installed in Veterans Square. The sidewalk benches will be refinished to improve aesthetics and safety.Sidewalk repairs will be made where necessary.
In addition, Council wishes to encourage everyone in Town to clean up. The Town will be identifying areas and taking steps to initiate cleanup efforts.
In 2015 Council approved the upgrade of the Town website. The design of the site is complete and has been integrated into the developers content management system, all that remains is to add content and test the product. We are in the process of determining where existing content is adequate and to develop new content where updated information is needed. Where existing content is adequate it will simply be uploaded to the new site, new content will be provided to the developer as it is created. Once content is uploaded staff will be trained to maintain the site, develop online forms, and manage the on-line database. Council is expecting the site to be available for public use by the end of March.
Attraction of new businesses and the retention of the existing businesses is important to the economic health and growth of our community. To this end, Council has budgeted for the preparation of a community profile that will provide a framework for action in addressing the key challenges and opportunities for Economic Development in the Town of Princeton.
The Economic Development Profile will capitalize on current and future economic opportunities.The final outcome will be a clear strategy that provides realistic, objective, and focused direction.An Economic Development Specialist with Urban Systems has been engaged to lead the project and the work program has been designed to involve the local business community and the general public in the development of the Economic Development Profile. The profile is expected to be completed by this spring.
OFFICIAL COMMUNITY PLAN AND ZONING BYLAW REVIEW
Last reviewed comprehensively in 2008, Princeton’s Official Community Plan Bylaw will be updated into a user friendly Bylaw that incorporates best practices; addresses known issues; and reflects the Town’s vision, which seeks to promote healthy and active living for all ages. The Zoning By-law will concurrently be reviewed and updated respective of the changes made to the Official Community Plan.
The Official Community Plan is a long range guide for the municipality that helps Council make decisions on matters such as land use and growth, transportation, economic development and housing and will provide:
- A clear vision for Princeton’s future growth with supporting goals, objectives and policies;
- A direction aligned with current community values and development patterns; and
- The anticipation of infrastructure capacity and future needs.
- The plan will also recognize existing conditions and trends, notably the importance of the natural environment and community growth management, and the preservation and enhancement of Princeton’s social character and sense of place.
Council has identified the review of the Official Community Plan Bylaw as a priority for 2016. Funding has been included in the 2016 budget process to complete this review and Urban Systems Ltd. has been hired to lead this planning project. It is anticipated that the new bylaws will be introduced by the end of 2016.
HEALTH, WELLNESS AND AQUATIC CENTRE
Council is committed to improving our community’s health and wellness and will continue to seek opportunities for positive and healthy choices. Through a number of surveys and information gathered through the Recreation Strategic Plan process, Council is confident in the community’s desire to pursue a Health, Wellness and Aquatic Centre.
Council’s priority for 2016 will be to prepare preliminary concepts and plans, identify funding sources, secure a location, develop a budget, and to work on operational strategies. Council has directed staff to engage the public for consultation when the time is deemed to be appropriate or as needed.
It is Council’s desire to be ready when capital funding programs are announced.
Council is confident that when the time comes to develop a Health, Wellness and Aquatic Centre that this type of facility will not only address some of our Social and Health concerns but will also be a regionally significant project that will enhance our community and make us more desirable for attraction and relocation.
Support for Health Care in the community remains a top priority. Council participates in the activities of the Health Care Steering Committee and has been actively involved in the recruitment of our newest doctor. Funds are included in the budget to support the committee and the recruiting activities.
Council has committed to Arena improvements that include painting the exterior and upgrading exterior lighting.
The arena was constructed in 1974 and for the most part is in good condition for its age. We recognized the value of the arena has for our community and we want to take pride in our civic buildings. The exterior of the building is constructed of metal cladding which was color coated from the factory. The exterior will be refreshed with more modern colors in keeping with the Town’s corporate image.
Council has also identified that the parking lot is a bit dark in the winter months. With new technologies in LED lighting, we are able to increase the lighting levels and reduce our power consumption. The Town completed a lighting upgrade in 2015 at the Riverside Community Centre and Council is very happy with the results. The arena will take on a very similar look and help to improve the safety of our citizens.
BRIDGE VIEW PARK
The Recreation Strategic Plan has identified the importance of trails and pathways within our community. Council also has placed an importance on improving our community’s health by promoting positive choices. Walking is an excellent choice to improve one’s health.
One of our busiest pathways is one that connects the residents living in the Allison Flats neighborhood to the downtown core by way of the wooden bridge. This pathway crossed private property and was in jeopardy of being developed by a private landowner, cutting off public access. In 2015, Council identified this as a concern. Earlier in 2015, Council had the opportunity to purchase this area of private property, thus securing the pathway for all to use in perpetuity.
Council has identified the development and enhancement of this pathway as a 2016 priority.
Improvements for 2016 include paving the path, general site cleanup, planting shade trees and other landscape work, and the installation of benches and tables. This work is scheduled for the summer of 2016 and will be completed by Public Works staff.
This will not only enhance the pathway, but also create a nice destination park and green space that will improve the look and feel of our downtown core.
CEMETERY ENHANCEMENT PROJECT
Council approved the cemetery improvements in 2015, however, a number of maintenance initiatives were required to enable the Cemetery Enhancement Project to go ahead. The area is now ready for installation and completion of the enhancements in 2016. Improvements will include the construction of a “Reflecting Area” that provides a view over the entire cemetery. It will include the construction of a gazebo with seating for inclement weather conditions and a landscaped area surrounding it.
There will also be an area referred to as “Gardens of Remembrance” to create a place to spread the ashes of a loved one and to install a memorial plaque. It also provides an alternative to the burying ashes in grave plots.
CENTENNIAL POOL PARK
As identified in our recent Recreation Strategic plan; parks and green spaces are very important to our community. Over the past few years, council has been strategically improving and upgrading some of our community parks. The centennial pool park playground is on the 2016 Council Priority list for an upgrade.
The centennial Pool Park area has been used as a day use picnic area and a staging area for pool users. The park includes a beach volleyball pit, older playground equipment, picnic tables, some new shade trees and river access.
Improvements considered for this year’s park upgrade include, new Age-appropriate playground equipment, a water spray feature, additional picnic tables and a refresh of the beach volleyball pit.
These improvements will continue to make this a desirable destination park.
BRIDGE STREET AND HWY #3 COMMUNITY SIGNAGE
Since 2015, Council has been committed to attracting visitors and customers to shop “Downtown” and to take in the many events that Princeton has to offer. The first step was to relocate the Visitor Information Centre to 169 Bridge Street which has succeeded in attracting many more visitors to our downtown, who get out of their vehicles and sample the variety of products and experiences the business community has to offer.
A second initiative, suggested by our business community at meetings in 2014 was to install a second electronic message board on Highway 3 to advertise community events and attractions happening in Princeton. Council has identified a site located in front of the Weyerheuser Roundhouse for the installation. Staff will be preparing the site and working with a corporate partner to design and construct the new sign and message board in the coming weeks.
TOWN HALL RENOVATIONS (ELEVATOR, COUNCIL CHAMBERS)
The main floor and the exterior of the Princeton Courthouse was completely renovated in 2013. The facility built in 1929/30 is one of our most important historical assets. Adaptive reuse of the building as the Town Hall has enabled Council to preserve this architectural jewel for the community for generations to come.
The Town Hall/Courthouse building has two floors. The main floor is open daily to access Municipal Services and the second floor is used for Court Services once per month. It has been a goal to use the Court Room upstairs as a Council Chamber as well. The impediment was our ability to provide handicapped accessibility to the second floor.
Council has secured funding, by way of a Provincial grant, to install an elevator, which will enable access by all of our public to the second floor. Courtroom/Council Chamber renovations and the elevator installation is expected to be complete by June of 2016. Council is looking forward to holding its first Council meeting at Town Hall in July.
MUSEUM ELEVATOR INSTALLATION
The museum was totally renovated in 2011. The facility as we see it today is truly something to be proud of. It is a jewel that acknowledges and proudly displays our cultural heritage. It has become one of our major tourist destinations.
The museum building has two floors. The main floor is open to the general public for displays and the basement houses the archives, storage and workshop. One of the challenges has been the ability to cycle larger display items from the storage area in the basement to the main floor display area by way of stairs.
Council has secured funding, by way of a Provincial grant, to install a freight elevator, which will enable museum staff to move items up and down safely and on a more regular basis. The elevator should be installed in time for the start of our busy tourist season.
Council looks forward to updating the public on their priorities and will be doing so as new information is available. Council looks forward to another productive year.