Parksville mayor floating water work in 2012

Mayor Chris Burger gives The News a preview of his state of the city address to the local chamber of commerce.

This year will be all about the future, and the long term security of fresh water in Parksville, according to mayor Chris Burger.

In a preview of his speech to the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce Thursday night (Jan. 12), Burger said his main priority for 2012 will be the city’s upcoming water infrastructure work.

“The coming years will be all about the long term stability of our drinking water,” he said and that will tie in with the plans and goals laid out by residents in the official community plan (OCP) which is expected to be completed this year.

Along with the OCP, the public will have a chance for important input in the annual budget process starting soon, which he said they are doing a bit differently this year.

This year they will be trying to tie budget lines directly to services so people can see exactly what different city services cost.

“People will be able to see, if you want a higher level of this, it will cost you this and it dictates a certain amount of taxes up or down.

“It’s a very complex process and we want to present it to the public in a way that someone can understand without spending 10 hours with the budget documents.”

Burger said that in his 15 years in elected office municipal politics has changed a lot, from being about securing funding for big projects and the excitement of ribbon cuttings and opening new facilities, to less glamorous management of infrastructure and keeping costs.

He said they are starting to look at things like ranking city parks for different levels of service, a neighbourhood “pocket park” might not get as much attention as Community Park, he suggested as an example.

He pointed out the $3.1 million upgrade work on McMillan Street is half complete, with new traffic lights in place, but not operational yet.

He is also eager to continue what he feels have been improvements in the city’s communications, in terms of being open to, and including people in city governance and decisions.

On that note he stressed that while Thursday’s State of the City address was made to the chamber, he’d be happy to speak to any interested groups, as would the deputy mayor and/or other councillors. He said anyone can contact city hall to talk to him directly or arrange a presentation.

“We’re really open to different groups, on anything, specific or general,” he said.