Our year-end economic indicators are in, and they show some positive trends.
The city saw $50 million in new economic activity over the last three years. We saw more than $13 million in building permits in 2011, which is an increase over 2010.
Despite the economic downturn, Williams Lake continues to show economic growth. Major projects last year included the Total Ice Training Centre, Deni House renovations, and the first Platform Properties retail development. There were 20 new homes constructed, a slight increase over 2010. We continue to see a decrease in unemployment numbers. The unemployment rate for the Cariboo in 2011 averaged 7.5 per cent (slightly higher than the provincial average). We’ve come a long way from 2009, when our rate was 12 per cent. The work of the BEAS Task Force has been completed, and the final report with recommendations has come to council. We will be considering these recommendations in our 2012 budget discussions. Thank you to all the members of the task force for giving up those early mornings in order to do this important work.
A couple of events I attended last week were an important reminder. Inspector Warren Brown and I stopped in on a Restorative Justice workshop at TRU; I briefly attended the Heritage Values workshop at the fire hall Saturday, and I did my parental duty at the midget hockey tournament at the complex over the weekend.
These kinds of events, which happen every day in our community, reminded me how important volunteers are. Volunteers are dedicated and give up many hours, including valuable weekend time, to build up their community. I want to thank each person in our city who volunteers; you make a real difference in all of our lives. Last week, we had an overview of our long-term financial plan, and I welcome everyone to our next budget meeting on Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. in city council chambers, when we discuss the legislative, operating, and capital budgets. This is a great chance to see the complexity, challenges, and opportunities council faces as it balances the needs in the community.
Kerry Cook is the mayor of Williams Lake.