For Humboldt mayor Rob Muench, 2018 saw the city progress in replacing infrastructure and promoting business growth despite a major tragedy.
The April 6 collision involving the Humboldt Broncos team bus provided an extra challenge for city staff, one they rose up to, the mayor said.
“There was a lot of things that the staff had to concentrate on above and beyond their regular duties, so I commend them this year for for doing all that and keeping us on track as well with the things that the city council wanted to get done this year.”
The city saw nine blocks of water main replacements, five blocks of paving and the installation of brighter LED streetlights at the east and west entrances of town, as well as behind the Uniplex.
“We've always been trying to narrow down the amount of work that needs to be done in infrastructure and try to knock a little bit off each year and stay on top of things.”
There were $7 million worth of building permits issued, with almost $5 million of that from commercial projects like Sobeys Liquor, Pet Valu, Lube Stop and the Peavey Mart expansion.
That has been paired with an effort to reduce business taxes for those hit hard by property value reassessment in 2017, with the mayor saying the city has reduced their taxes by 10 to 13 per cent.
“We've been trying as council to really [make] it a more affordable for businesses looking to locate here and the ones that are here already,” he said. “We were in the higher end of some of the commercial [tax] rates in the province, so we wanted to bring that down to be more competitive with with other communities and hopefully attract some new businesses to our community.”
A new green space at Centennial Park was something else the mayor pointed as a highlight of 2018. That was paired with a new retention pond behind Canadian Tire that will prevent flooding in the area and provide a source of water to irrigate the new space.
“With the cost of water from SaskWater, this is going to save the taxpayers considerable amount of money over the next number of years,” Muench said.
Muench also pointed to the success of a new system at the lagoon that uses ferric sulphate to counter the odours that used to waft into town.
“I'm looking forward to next spring when we can implement it right after the thaw.”
The mayor is hopeful a newly formed link between the city and Hangzhou, China will promote investment in the city. The city will spend $3,600 for items like promotional materials, 20 per cent of the cost.
“We've we've done some preliminary work there and we're starting to see some results,” Muench said.
The city has also built two columbariums for the graveyards and purchased a new heavy rescue fire truck.
Muench said 2019 will be an eventful year for the city.
“We’re going to be committing more than $2 million in infrastructure funding this year, which is a considerable amount, and we’re doing this with only a modest two per cent tax increase.”
Projects include a new lift station that will increase capacity and reduce storm sewer problems during heavy rains, as well as a new ventilation system for the aquatic centre. There will also be investment in replacing the city’s fleet, with the most notable purchases being a new ice resurfacer and street sweeper.