June 7, 2010

A Mayor Minute

Sharon Gaetz talks about city's accomplishments

in the first half of the year

Staff/Voice

 

Cheam Leisure Centre opening day Ribbon-cutting ceremony May 15, 2010.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz appeared on StarFm today and the following is highlights from that conversation with the morning show gang, Scott and Lisa.

Cheam Leisure Centre

You know we have some pretty cool things that have happened in the city. The first one, the one I love the most is the new Cheam Centre has opened up. And a six-lane pool and there's all kinds of amenities like a hot tub and there's new gym equipment that's state-of-the-art.

 

That was an old, old building that the army base used for a long time for their recreational needs so when the city took over, we spruced it up and it looks fantastic. We knocked down the old building and that's gone.

 

New Kids Spray Park

The next thing that's going to be done by the end of this summer, unfortunately the end of the summer, is a kiddies spray park will be going in so there's some free things that kids can do there too. There's a lot to do in our community and that's one.

 

The 'Cultch'

The other thing is that the Cultural Centre is going to be opening up in September. So this 500-seat theatre, 150-seat practice theatre, pottery room, all kinds of art rooms, green rooms. There's going to be lots of plays coming through which will be fun. That's opening up in September and the really good news is that all of that is paid for. So we're excited about that.

 

The thing is that we really underplayed the outside of the building because there are a lot of people in our community who just don't like to spend money on the arts and those kinds of things. So we wanted to make sure that we were really careful with our money and that it didn't look like we were doing a big huge splash. But it's beautiful. The woodwork out there is fantastic. The entrance is marvelous. I think when people go inside of the theatre themselves, they're going to be very very impressed. The acoustics are fantastic. We have a new director of the Arts Centre, Michael Cade, who was hired a few months back. So they're busy planning all the bells and whistles for the inside. It's substantially completed and the shows will start in September.

 

Our council and our staff have been really fiscally responsible. They carry on with the tradition of many councils before us that have said we want to pay as we go. So we're not borrowing money to do it. We're glad about that and yeah I think we are the envy of a few communities.

 

Bike to Work Week

You can actually get a map from the city with all of the bike routes that are there. The ones that are preferable. There's some areas that are really nice for biking right now. My husband (Jim) is a tried and true biker. He bikes for everything and hardly takes his car anywhere. He picks up groceries on his bike. He does all of that stuff. And it's really not that he's environmentally conscious, honestly is that he's cheap. Really, I love him, I love him it's more money for shoes.

 

Prest Road is a really good example of a road that is hard to retrofit (for a bike lane) because on the sides we have ditches of course for the farmers to irrigate their fields and it's quite a procedure to move a ditch. DFO doesn't like it very much. Anything that has fish-bearing, any watercourse that is fish-bearing they have control over even though it is man-made.

 

There are sticklebacks, there's bullhead, all kinds of things like that you wouldn't suspect are in the ditches but there they are. There are some really good ones (bike trails). We just put a really good one in Yarrow where we widened the road. It was easier to widen the road in that area. Of course we usually have to expropriate land and pay the land owners for the use of, but this particular piece we were able to use on the city rights-of-way and so it's really nice too to ride those bike lanes.

 

Jim and I just did that last weekend. Went down the rotary trail, and went right across and into Yarrow and came back that way. It's a beautiful, beautiful bike lane. But you know of course motorists are sometimes not aware who's on the roads so when you're biking you really need to know the rules of biking and you really need to watch out for those guys who might not be watching out for you.

 

If you're in Sardis, one of the ways to avoid going on that sidewalk that has telephone poles down the middle, and people ask me why is that. Well, when those roads were planned it was way to expensive to put the telephone poles over to the side, moving every one of them. I think when we did Young Rd. it was about $2 million for the cost, which would be a 4-per-cent tax increase, which most people don't like. I'm in favour of moving telephone poles to the side no matter what it costs. But some don't agree with me apparently.

 

If you're biking in Sardis for instance, go down the back way. Go down Sheffield. There's a trail right along the side of the railway that is fenced and paved and it's beautiful and it will take you right over to Luckakuck and yeah, its a really good way to escape the usual kind of crowded roads.

 

We want to make that way easier for people so we do have a bike strategy and part of it we're going to be talking about tonight in the Downtown Use Plan that's coming forward to council for approval tonight and for public input and we're going to be talking about greenways and how to get around in downtown. Right now we're very much vehicle oriented rather than pedestrian and bike-oriented.

 

Watering Restrictions

It feels weird talking about water restrictions when we've just had pouring rain for the past couple of days. You know what's really amazing that you might not know, usually in the city of Chilliwack we 30-million litres of water a day, which is really quite outstanding when you think about the amount of water that is, that flows through the pipes and that you flush and that you use for washing your car and watering and doing all of those things, but in summer, that boosts up to 52-million. So that's why we're really careful about trying to get the message out about conserving water.

 

Fortunately, our drinking usage impacts how much you flush (pun intended.) Speaking of drinking water that's the reason why we're conserving because we have the best drinking water. When I go around through the Lower Mainland, and you sit in those hotels and they put those jugs full of water with ice in it and take a swig and you just think 'Oh take me home to Chilliwack.' Because honestly our water is fantastic. We've entered contests before and we've had the fourth and fifth best water in the world. And part of that is that we have a natural filtration system from the Vedder River and there's no chlorine. We don't put fluoride, we don't put anything in the water. What you're drinking out of your tap is pure straight from the river.

 

There is a finite amount. We are very very careful to make sure that we don't exceed the amount that we actually can. We have water systems, we have one in Yarrow that runs independently of us. We have reservoirs up in Marble Hill area, eastern hillsides up on Chilliwack Mountain, Little Mountain as well and we just want to make sure that resource lasts for many generations. We're a consumer-kind of generation, I think, and lately we've been hearing more and more about water restrictions.

 

My kids live in a place in the Philippines where they use their water, they first put their water in their washing machine, wash their clothes, they drain the water out, they bath the kids in it, they pour it down the back of the toilet to flush it. It's a very precious commodity and we certainly don't want to end up being one of those area where we take water for granted.

 

It's something that every town, no matter how big their sources is, it needs to preserved and jealously guarded.

We don't actually water our city parks. If you walk through Sardis Park, you'll see the ground gets brown. We're not using pesticides on our lawns anymore. So we don't have that manicured 1950s, "Leave It To Beaver" kind of lawn anymore.

 

If you go down to Twin Rinks area, there's (automatic) sprinklers in those lawns there but in our regular parks, nature takes it's course. But I think times are changing and we're just becoming more and more conscious of what we do and most of us don't brush our teeth and run the water anymore, we don't just walk away from a running tap. We're really careful. So you mention a really good thing about watering your lawns and that's one of the things that we want to insist. As a matter of fact we have a bylaw where people can water their lawns.

 

Those who have even-numbered addresses can water on Wednesdays and Saturdays and they can choose one of two times; if they're morning people, water from 5am to 8am, or in the evening you can also water, you can water from 7pm to 10pm in the evening if you like and the odd-numbered addresses will water on Thursdays and Sundays.

 

You can wash your cars. Just use a bucket and put some soap and water in there and wash the car with that. You can sprinkle your vegetable garden and your flowers and keep them healthy and alive. But you know that green garden is a bit of a tell-tale sign, that the green lawn, that you're maybe using too much.

 

You shouldn't be sprinkling your lawn (by hand). Sprinkle your vegetables, sprinkle your fruits. Make sure that your hanging baskets are doing fine but don't be out there watering your lawn with a sprinkler.

 

(If people aren't following the watering bylaws) If they do then our bylaw officers make sure that they talk to the people that are watering and send them a friendly little note saying that these are the times that you are permitted to water. Once people get that little note, they understand the reasons why, they don't water again but, we don't send bylaw enforcement officers out looking to say 'Aha, she's watering the lawn!'

 

Just so you know with any bylaw in the city, we're like a reactionary council. If somebody lodges a complaint, we'll go out and look after it, but otherwise you know we don't. We're not proactive. We don't go looking for people (who) do bad things.

 

Downtown Land Use Plan Public Forum

You can go onto www.chilliwack.com  and there is a whole downtown use plan posted right on the front page so that people can review. Basically the plan is about how do we develop our downtown into a place that we're all proud of and pleased to live in and pleased to shop in and a place to play in. And so the plan talks about greenways and talks about bikeways. It talks about businesses that we want down here. What kind of entertainment we want down here.

The densification which could be an issue with people who live in little single family homes, maybe ranch-style, it might be in an area that is about to be developed into higher density. All of those are questions that people might want to come and talk about. As well that can make any kind of suggestion through our web page. You don't even have to get out of your Lay-Z-Boy tonight if you don't want to, you can be part of the discussion as well and we'll go forward with the Downtown Land Use Plan and rejuvenate downtown.

 

That starts at 7 o'clock tonight at City Hall and people are welcome to do that. We are having a presentation this afternoon as well by David Blaine about the plan that Metro has to incinerate. And they will call it fancy names, they call it "gasification" they call it "pyrolosis". What it really means is that they have incineration as part of the process and all of the studies will tell you that they cannot take the particles out of the air completely that they're burning in this combustion process.

 

We're very alarmed. We have let our views know to Metro already. They know that we're not in favour of putting an incinerator in Vancouver. They already have one, it's the North Burnaby incinerator. What it does is that it teaches people how not to recycle and reduce and reuse their items. They just throw them in the garbage and have them burned.

We're going to be breathing that stuff and what we know about breathing this air, and for those who were part of the SE2 struggle that we had, they were planning to burn a clean fuel.

 

Vancouver is not in favour of it. Metro, is planning to burn garbage. This could introduce things like nano-particles, zerons (sp.), dioxins, mercury into our air shed and you guys know we've worked really hard to protect our air shed. So I need people to come out on the 16th of June. Please, please, please come and let your voice be heard at the Best Western Hotel, at 7 o'clock. You'll be given an opportunity to speak for five-minutes if you wish to. You can write letters.

 

Barry Penner has to read all of the letters. Please besiege his office with letters telling him that you need him to stand up for our right to breathe clean air. You know it's hard because we cherish our relationship with Metro and want to work harder. We work with them on all kinds of other projects. But this one we want to put our foot down and just say 'no, we've got to find another way to do it.'

 

Thank you to your listeners listening to a great radio station.

 

 

 

Related links

For more information on the topics above visit the city website here.

and to find out about the low flow toilet rebate program visit here.

 

For more information on the Cultural Centre go here.