Happy New Year!
We’re already in full swing at the city, working on a number of initiatives.
And helping council carry out our mandate is our new city manager, John Stecyk.
John comes to us from the Lower Mainland.
He has a great background working in various political environments.
I know council is happy to have him on board.
I also welcome our new fire chief, Sylvain Gauthier.
We have an excellent volunteer fire department. I’m sure they’ll continue to serve our community with distinction under Sly’s leadership.
We received an update from B.C.’s Chief Forester Jim Snetsinger this week regarding the Allowable Annual Cut for the Quesnel Timber Supply Area.
In my eyes, we received some very good news for our region.
Our previous AAC was 5.28 million cubic metres, which was set in October 2004 to deal with the large volume of pine-beetle killed trees.
We’ve never actually harvested that much, reaching a high of 4.3 million m3 in 2008, and averaging around 3.7 million m3 since.
Our local licensees have done a very good job harvesting, according to the chief forester.
In fact more than 80 per cent of the wood harvested has been dead pine.
But there is a lot more to be had, so he’s decided to keep the AAC at 4 million m3, with some 650,000 m3 of that dedicated for non-pine species (which is consistent with what we’re harvesting now).
Given that our peak harvest was 4.3 million m3 and that Mr. Snetsinger indicated he won’t have to re-evaluate this determination for four to six years, I see this as welcome news for our community.
There are still a great number of economic considerations to take into account.
We need the Asian market to continue to grow.
We need housing starts to grow.
And we need the dead pine to retain its value for as long as possible.
But given the warnings we had received about a potentially dramatic decrease to the AAC, I’m encouraged.
We now need to come together as leaders and as the community as a whole to plan for the mid- and long-term future.
We are going to face challenges in forestry – it will be a different industry as our forests recover.
But we’re in a position where we can address those challenges, look to other revenue streams and new resources, and prepare strategically.
This is the last opportunity to speak with you about council’s formal public input session for Budget 2011.
The meeting will take place on Monday Jan. 17 beginning at 7 p.m. in council chambers.
Council has mentioned repeatedly that we want to consider public requests as early as possible in the budget process.
I really encourage people to come to this session to provide input and to learn about our budget.
We’ll also receive a presentation regarding the Citizen Satisfaction Survey that was recently completed.
As locally elected officials, it is very important that we hear from our constituents.
By attending this meeting, you can help guide us as we develop the budget.
We were pleased to announce this week that we’ve reached a contract agreement with CUPE Local 1050-01.
This local represents about 40 City employees who work at the Quesnel and District Arts and Recreation Centre.
They operate under a different collective bargaining agreement from the one our other employees
While Recreation is a function of the Cariboo Regional District, the city is contracted by the CRD to operate the function, which is why these folks are City employees.
The bargaining process was very efficient.
The contract is for a three-year term, retroactive to June 8 2010.
The employees will receive a zero per cent pay increase in year one, followed by a 1.5 and two per cent increases in years two and three.
They’ll also receive a $1,000 lump sum payment in lieu of any increase in pay for the first year, with part-time employees receiving a prorated amount.
Now that the negotiating process is done, we can continue to focus on our mission of providing outstanding services for our residents.
Do you have a question for Mayor Mary Sjostrom? E-mail it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.