Centennial year a milestone for Armstrong

Armstrong’s mayor wants to use the success of his city’s 100th birthday in 2013 as a springboard to more fun in 2014.

Armstrong’s mayor wants to use the success of his city’s 100th birthday in 2013 as a springboard to more fun in 2014.

Chris Pieper remembers being worried last January about the city’s centennial but he need not have worried as the community rallied to make it a milestone to remember.

“It was a great year,” smiled Pieper in his office at city hall.

“It went by real fast and hopefully we can build it on for year 101. I’m sure we can. The community spirit and dedication we got from volunteers was tremendous.”

There ended up being more than 100 events – closer to 150 – for Armstrong’s birthday, many organized by the city’s centennial committee and the Armstrong-Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce.

Some were continuations of long-time events with a centennial theme, such as the IPE or the downtown Home For The Holidays Christmas light up.

And some were new events, like the highly popular first Armstrong Cheese Festival, attended by hundreds, and the Between the Tracks car show hosted by the Cam Jammers Car Club.

One event, however, sticks out in the mayor’s mind.

“The re-enactment we did of the first council meeting,” said Pieper who, along with his council and other community members, presented two performances of the city’s first council meeting in 1913 at – fittingly – Centennial Hall.

The Royal Canadian Legion and Asparagus Theatre also hosted sold-out shows that presented Armstrong’s history.

In the summer, the RCMP Musical Ride graced the IPE grounds, and hundreds returned to the city for Homecoming weekend.

“Everyone, both in Armstrong and Spallumcheen, made centennial so successful,” said Pieper.

“We have the spirit of the events to carry on, and a lot of fun was had by a lot of people.”

Between fun activities, there was still business at hand.

That included new developments being awarded such as Tim Hortons with an accompanying subdivision, (restaurant is expected to open early in 2014), expansion at Shepherd’s Hardware which is building a larger garden centre that will open in the spring, and a new residential and parkland development proposed for the Royal York Golf Course.

Perhaps the biggest success story was the city’s installation of water meters.

As of mid-December, meter installation was at 94 per cent complete, with only three homes out of 1,800 steadfastly opposed to having a water meter installed on their property.

“The meters have been a controversial issue but they’ve definitely been accepted by the majority of people in town,” said Pieper.

The major capital public works project set for 2014 is a complete upgrade to Dunn Road, near Rosedale Grocery. A public meeting on the plans will be held Wednesday at 5 p.m. at city hall.

It’s also an election year in 2014 and as of now, Pieper – who was acclaimed to a second term in 2011 – has not committed to seeking a third term.

“I’ve really enjoyed being mayor the last few years,” he said.

“We have a very good council. We have a good working relationship with Spallumcheen. I’m almost to the point where I can say I’d have to find a reason not to run for mayor. I’ll probably decide in the summer.”

One person who won’t be around to help Pieper should he run for mayor is longtime administrator Patti Ferguson, who is retiring at the end of February after 15 years. She’ll be replaced internally by Melinda Stickney.

“Patti has been instrumental in our development,” said Pieper. “She came here to help us grow and organize us and she’s done a fantastic job. Her enthusiasm for not only the city but the whole community has been excellent.

“Melinda has been here seven years. She has taken her training and course development through different colleges and has all of her accreditation and will do a great job. We’ve been working on this transition for more than a year.”


Vernon Morning Star