Trail mayor says 2015 set foundation for exciting developments this year
Last year proved to be an active one for the mayor and city council. Trail Mayor Mike Martin completed his first year as a first term mayor and says he came into the role with clear plans after a strategic planning session with councilors.
“It was an exciting year and we accomplished much of what we set out to do,” said Martin.
The first major accomplishment of 2015 was following through with the pedestrian-pipe bridge. This was a project that nearly saw extinction after initial tenders came back way over the estimated budget.
“The trick,” said Martin, “was re-entering into partnerships with Rossland and the Village of Warfield, along with partnering with an engineering firm. This enabled the city to re-negotiate a package deal with the building firm to help lower costs, and enable the project to become a reality. This is a key project to connect the East and West sides of Trail, help promote traffic in the downtown area and of course, allow the connection of utility lines.”
As well as getting construction underway, the bridge will soon have a name. In early November, the City of Trail announced a contest for local residents to help come up with a name for the new city landmark. The contest has now closed, and submissions will be presented to council in January to decide on which name is best. The contest winner will be announced in coming weeks.
By moving forward with the bridge, council was then able to concentrate more on the Riverfront Library/Museum project. The first stages were discussed in the final quarter of 2015 and architectural design works are to be reviewed during the first quarter of this year. Residents can expect to see construction begin on the new building toward the end of 2016.
“Council also decided to play a larger part with the city’s festivals last year, which will result in a much more guided role in this year’s Silver City Days,” said Martin. “One of the highlights (is) a newly-designed webpage that can be accessed from the city’s website. We hope that by becoming more involved, it can help attract more participation from residents and more tourism for Trail.”
During 2015, the city spearheaded a fundraising campaign to gather funds for new lighting on the Victoria Street Bridge. Over $180,000 was raised by the end of the campaign and council is now moving into the second phase of the project. By the end of January, requests for tender will go out and residents should see the project completed over the winter months, with the goal of having it done before Silver City Days.
“We plan on having a big celebration once the bridge is lit,” said Martin. “It’s going to be a signature landmark of the downtown, especially with many businesses being on the banks of the Columbia River.”
Martin said he is also pleased with the city’s very successful placement in the Communities in Bloom contests.
“While not directly a city activity, the competition helps bring beauty and notoriety to the city. Trail received five blooms at the international competition, and a special mention for the Trail Rocks! entry, which featured the abundance of rock walls in the city,” said Martin. “There is a large volunteer network that strives to add beauty and attractiveness to the community.”
The City of Trail is also seeking to develop the two city blocks along the Esplanade that remain vacant. Plans are to get the area building-ready and introduce quality, high-density housing. With the topic of downtown revitalization at the forefront of many of the city’s projects, the mayor believes this can play a role.
“There are really all the amenities a person needs in our downtown area and, by increasing the housing density, this should help create attractiveness in the area as well as potentially free up some single-detached homes for others to purchase,” said Martin.
Last year also saw the city take over management of the Trail Airport in an effort to continue improving air access to the area through affordability and reliability of service. Residents can look forward to potential new upgrades to the facility, including a newly paved runway and a new terminal building. Although there was some disappointment with the daily flights to Kelowna not working out, overall the venture has proven to be successful, Martin said.
“We have no plans to expand the airport and services offered as our niche market benefits from the expediency of having no security here, however we are operating out of the Trail Flying Club’s building, so we would like to look at having a new terminal built,” said Martin.
While there were many successes last year, Martin admits that there were a few disappointments, and council was not able to accomplish all of what it set out to do.
“Unfortunately, we were unable achieve a recreation agreement with all of our partners. We did manage to come to agreement with the Village of Warfield, Beaver Valley and Area A, however our remaining partners did not come to agreement,” said Martin.
Another disappointment, he said, was the inability to address homelessness in the city.
“With everything else we had going on last year, the issue of homelessness was not one we were able to tackle. This year we will be setting up a task force to address this social issue within our community,” said Martin.