2023 in Review, Mayor's Message

Mayor's Message

2023 - Year in Review

December 8, 2023

Dear Peachland Residents

This past year has been incredibly rewarding and equally challenging. During our first year together, Peachland Council hit the ground running with the development of our Strategic Plan. It’s our blueprint for what we want to accomplish in our term and I am very pleased to report we have made impressive progress on many of our goals which we defined under the categories of fiscal responsibility, a vibrant downtown, infrastructure improvements, good governance and an increase in housing choice.

As I look back at 2023, several decisions we made are moving us closer to success.

  • We are happily anticipating financial support through the federal Housing Accelerator Fund for efforts that remove barriers to increasing our housing supply, with a special emphasis on affordable housing and climate resiliency, both key elements of Council’s vision. We were already working on development application process improvements, making this a serendipitous funding opportunity.
  • We are close to partnering with other levels of government to secure much needed childcare spaces in our community.
  • We are undertaking asset management in earnest with the development of an Infrastructure & Engineering Department to conduct capacity reviews of our sewer, water and road infrastructure to help plan for the future.
  • We held our first “Our Community” Open House with over 400 people in attendance; without a doubt a very successful public event that we mean to continue every year.
  • We’re engaging more with the citizens of Peachland with three new committees, the Downtown Revitalization Task Force, the Climate Sustainability and Resiliency Task Force and the Accessibility Advisory Committee. These committees will provide valuable advice to Council in these areas.
  • We’ve had several promising development proposals presented to Council which, we believe, will help diversify our community, including the redevelopment of the Ponderosa Golf Course and surrounding neighbourhood.
  • Peachland achieved significant cost savings when Council chose to reconsider Phase II of the Peachland Seniors’ Support Society’s affordable housing project on 5th Street. Having learned from Phase 1, and after some challenging conversations, we renegotiated with BC Housing to ensure the municipality would not be entirely on the hook for the Development Cost Charges, that parking would be provided on site and that the District of Peachland would receive any parking-related fees. Win, win, win for everyone.
  • Council recognizes the need for infrastructure improvements, specifically our roads, and we have allocated $1.15 million to the upper Peachland areas for road rehabilitation.
I have spent much of my first year as Peachland Mayor speaking directly with provincial and federal representatives. I am spending this important time emphasizing that Peachland may be smaller than other communities in the Central Okanagan, but we face many of the same pressures and challenges as our larger neighbours. We do not, however, have the diversified tax base we need to ensure our financial resiliency and our climate resiliency. We need the help of other levels of government to achieve this.

This brings me to the most challenging moment of 2023 for me. In September, late in a horrific wildfire season, while we were supporting the regional emergency response to the vicious McDougall Creek Wildfire, our homes and livelihoods were threatened by the Glen Lake Wildfire.

Our community filled with smoke and some of our neighbourhoods were dotted with structure protection units as we anticipated the fire’s behaviour. Every resident of Peachland was asked to prepare for the worst. We were lucky this year, and this community can take comfort that our emergency responders and support staff were ready, and our citizens are adaptable and supportive. But I believe wildfires, and floods, are part of our new normal and we must prepare for “when” not “if” they happen.

I fully expect 2024 to be just as busy for Council as this year was. Our Downtown Task Force will work early in the new year to prepare recommendations for us on how to revitalize our downtown. We’re looking forward to starting our new fire hall project and seeking funding support for infrastructure improvements throughout the community, paying some attention to our parks and sports fields and working towards relocation of our municipal hall. It's going to be an exciting year.

On behalf of Council, I wish all Peachlanders and our friends and families a happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year.

Sincerely,

Patrick Van Minsel

MAYOR