West Kelowna continues to prosper despite pandemic challenges.
This year was like no other, impacting the way we live, learn and work. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic we adapted quickly with the closures of 17 city facilities, conducted regular briefings, prepared daily video messages and moved council meetings to Westbank Lions Community Centre. Since then, we have continued to be flexible in accordance with provincial health orders.
However, in these extraordinary times, we continue to see building and business activity remain strong, reporting $95 million in construction value of new building permits in the third quarter and 433 new business licences totalling 2,789.
This was a year of infrastructure investment for our city. The Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant will bring clean, safe and reliable drinking water to half of our population with plenty of room to grow. Construction has started and thanks to the support of a $41-million federal and provincial grant and the authorization of the long-term borrowing model, the plant will be in operation in 2022.
We saw the $5.17-million transportation improvements for Glenrosa Road create a safer and walkable neighbourhood with much needed drainage improvements. The $2-million Gellatly Bridge project along our beautiful waterfront was completed.
Overall, we have added 2.2-lane kilometers of new sidewalks, 1.9-lane km of bicycle lanes and 14-lane km of resurfaced roads.
Another success story is the opening of the Urgent and Primary Care Centre in November.
The centre now serves the Greater Westside and will become an important part of integrated health services for our residents.
We are grateful to Interior Health and the ministry of health for making this a reality.
OURWK Community Visioning initiative began in the summer, the first step towards updating the Official Community Plan. Thousands of comments were received forming a Draft Community Vision created by the community.
Feedback opportunities remain open until Jan. 6 at ourwk.ca.
As a community passionate about our arts and entertainment, we missed gathering at City events. Engaging the community through new digital tools was one way we could reconnect.
We hosted and participated in 700 digital meetings and workshops, launched an online community engagement platform that showcased a self-guided Twinkle Tour, improved outreach through a new e-news subscriptions service and the creation of 60 videos.
Finally, 2020 was a year of collaboration and partnership actions. We met often with our good neighbour Westbank First Nation to share our strategic priorities and to explore more ways that we can work together.
Council is grateful for the provincial support throughout the pandemic.
We also appreciated the collective actions amongst our local municipal and regional partners to put in measures to protect our communities from COVID-19 and to plan for post pandemic economic recovery.
This year has been a tough year for many, both financially and emotionally. But our community has met these challenges with compassion and resiliency. The City of West Kelowna, is proud of and grateful for all that our staff, our residents, our businesses, and our partners have accomplished.
We continue to move our community forward in many positive ways.
West Kelowna council and staff wish you and your families a safe and peaceful holiday season and Happy New Year!
Mayor Gord Milsom