Council has allocated $5,000 for a targeted advertising campaign to increase usage of the Smithers Regional Airport.
Air Canada has confirmed daily flights into and out of Smithers will begin Dec. 1 and council perceived a need to increase public awareness was important to the success of the airport.
Advertising will focus on Smithers and surrounding communities regarding availablility of flights, as well as advising potential tourism and business travellers that Smithers Regional Airport is open for business.
The money will come from the airport’s existing budget.
Council has directed staff to apply for a grant to reconnect the Perimeter Trail from Ranger Park to Riverside Park, a portion of the trail that has been closed since 2014 due to a landslide.
A staff recommendation advised council Smithers is eligible for 100 per cent funding for the project up to $1 million under the province’s Tourism Dependent Communities Fund. The report noted the disruption of the trail system has had a negative impact on both residents and visitors and identified reconnecting it as a strategic priority.
The recommendation also asked council to commit to the project including cost overruns and costs for ineligible expenses. It said those costs could be offset by the federal gas tax.
A motion to that effect passed with Coun. Frank Wray dissenting.
There is also construction slated for other parts of the current trail, and some new trail to be forged in the spring, including along Chicken Creek pending discussions with the Smithers Golf and Country Club and other land owners.
New trail areas were also discussed and are in the planning and negotiation stages, including moving the crossing at Highway 16 up to the stop lights at Toronto Street for a safer crossing.
Council has passed third reading of a rezoning amendment for five underutilized lots on Fourth Avenue to make way for construction of two semi-detached duplexes.
The parcel of land, adjacent to the Seventh Day Adventist Church at Fourth Ave. and King Street currently has only one single family home on it and is zoned R-3 medium density residential. Permitted uses include low-rise apartment buildings, townhouses and boarding houses.
The amendment to the bylaw will make it R-2 low density permitting semi-detached dwellings among other uses.
A lengthy debate on the third reading of the amendment Nov. 10 revolved around the need for affordable housing in Smithers, which newly-elected councillor Mika Meyer pointed out became the biggest issue in the Oct. 17 byelection.
The third reading passed by a vote of 4-3 with Meyer, Coun. Greg Brown and Coun. Casda Thomas opposed. It will up for adoption at a future meeting of council.
A group seeking to build a cycling trail from Smithers to Telkwa has asked Smithers council to consider joining the town’s Perimeter Trail to their trail at the Bulkley Bridge in upcoming budget discussions.
In a presentation Nov. 10, the Cycle 16 Trail Society apprised council it will enter phase one construction of the trail from the Bulkley Bridge to Laidlaw Road during the spring to fall 2021. The trail is slated to be paved, and does not follow the highway.
The Society is confident funding for the project will be forthcoming from money allocated in the provincial budget prior to the fall election.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development will continue to engage in wildfire mitigation efforts around the Smithers area in the spring.
In a presentation to council, representatives from the ministry noted they were able to make significant progress with brush clearing in the Call Lake Park area this summer.
Next year they are planning on working above the Community Forest, on the bluff and the around the mountain bike trail. They do not anticipate having to build new roads to undertake the work.
They also reported the amount of fibre from logging activity being left on the forest floor had decreased between 2017 to 2019 by 66 per cent. They directly attributed the reduction to uptake of wood waste by Pinnacle Renewable Energy (the Smithers pellet plant) and Seaton Forest Products.