Mayor Roy Ludwig recapped some of Estevan City Council's accomplishments from 2013, and discussed some of the upcoming projects for 2014 during his annual mayor's address at the January 6 council meeting.
Affordable housing remains a top priority for council, he said. Their housing study was finished last year, and it gives council a clear picture of their direction, not only for this year, but in future years.
“We're encouraged by the continuing progress that developers are making in our city,” Ludwig said.
Trimount Developments is moving ahead with Phase 4 of their work in Dominion Heights, Ludwig said. Rock Solid Developments is making progress in the Trojan Subdivision, and West D is working steadily towards completion of Phase 1 of their modular home park in south Estevan.
Council also continues to work with Essex Developments for their Meadows subdivision in northwest Estevan.
A new apartment building on Kensington Avenue and a new condominium project on Second Street near Trinity Tower are also under construction, he said.
Other highlights from 2013 included:
*The completion of Estevan's new water reservoir, which adds to Estevan's water storage capacity, and enhances water pressure for residents in northern Estevan;
*The completion of “much-needed” repairs for Highway 47 through northern Estevan;
*New collective bargaining agreements with the City of Estevan's unionized employees and the Estevan Police Association.
*The arrival of curbside recycling and front yard garbage pick-up, which Ludwig referred to as positives for the community and the environment.
Ludwig noted that City manager Jim Puffalt was let go in October, and that the City is closing in on hiring Puffalt's replacement.
Projects for this year will include improvements at the waste water treatment plant; repairs for 13th Avenue from Sixth Street to Fourth Street; and the hiring of a new police chief to replace Del Block, who will retire in April after a what Ludwig labeled as “an illustrious” 38-year career with the Estevan Police Service.
This year will also be a turning point for council as it works to consolidate and pay down its debt, Ludwig said. The City's current debt load is about $37 million, but it has about $5 million earmarked for debt repayment in the 2014 budget.
On the health care front, Ludwig is optimistic that the Hearthstone Community Campaign will hit its $8 million fundraising target for Estevan's new regional nursing home; and he said the City will continue to lobby the provincial government for a CT scan for St. Joseph's Hospital.
Council is also looking forward to working with the local 2016 Saskatchewan Summer Games committee, he said, and council will provide any needed assistance to make the Games a success.