Castlegar News recently spent some time with Mayor Lawrence Chernoff to get his thoughts on 2015 and his hopes for 2016.
Castlegar News: 2015 was a busy year for the City of Castlegar. Of everything that happened in Castlegar last year, what were you the most excited about?
Mayor Lawrence Chernoff: The [wind storm in June that knocked out trees and power throughout the community]. Mainly because, from my point of view, I look at it and see what it did to the community. The disaster did take place. I’m not excited about the damage, but what it did for the people of the community. It kind of brought everybody together; whether it was our public works, Fortis and their contractors, the whole community neighbour to neighbour. When this thing happened everybody just kind of pulled together. I thought the [recovery] ran really smoothly and everybody did such a great job. It was about neighbours and the community. It was such a pride builder in the community. We all pulled together and did a great job. It was just pleasing to me to see we did that.
CN: What 2016 projects or initiatives are you most excited about?
LC: The big thing is the extension to the Millennium Park. It has become a showcase for us, and allowing that park to grow is absolutely huge. To me it goes back to what we do for families in the community. It has an opportunity for everybody, it doesn’t matter whether you are a tot or a senior. It is an opportunity to build on what we did with the ponds.
The other thing is Columbia Avenue. It is a grant related project. From the role of council, infrastructure plays a huge role in what we need to do, the core things. It would repave Columbia Ave. from 12th St. to 24th St. and put in new infrastructure where it is needed, like new water and sewer. We’ve submitted a design to the Ministry of Highways for approval.
CN: Were there any big hopes you had for the City of Castlegar in 2015 that didn’t work out?
LC: The biggest thing that continues to hang over us is airport reliability. We are constantly battling it and trying to find a solution. It is such a huge tool to the economic development of our communities. We’re still going ahead, but it’s just taking time. It gets frustrating. We have reached out far and wide to try and find the solution to it. The control is really beyond us.
CN: What are your hopes for Castlegar in 2016?
LC: There is an opportunity for us to build. From the point of tourism and economic development there is great opportunity. We have stability from our big industries. We are growing, I see more young families in this community than I have seen in a long time.
CN: As mayor, do you have any new year’s resolutions?
No, I don’t make them. They really don’t make sense to me. [But the goal] is not to over tax the residents, it’s to give them the best we can. To give the best service we can provide for the dollar. The benefit really is in the long term. I think we build a future for our children and our grandchildren and for new residents to come to the community.