The New Year has just begun and your local government is already working hard to make it even better than the one that just ended. As we are beginning to prepare our Annual Report, which will be ready in the spring, and as we are preparing our final budget, I cannot help but think of the many accomplishments we had in 2012. Lodge Road repaving and traffic improvements, the renaming of the Highway 97 stretch along Wood Lake to Pelmewash Parkway, the progress of the Kalamalka Lake Water project to benefit the Oyama residents, the changes to the District's organization and workforce, the streamlining of all development application processes, and the approval of our new and comprehensive Water Master Plan are just few of those accomplishments.

January, however, is also a time to plan ahead and set new firm goalposts. Council did that just before Christmas with the review of their Strategic Priorities for 2013. Let me share with you what those are and why they are relevant to our future in Lake Country.

With the sale of a large piece of property on Main Street in November, the Town Centre development has now become our number one priority. The hard work put into marketing Main Street, talking to investors, sharing Council's vision with the landowners, rebranding the community, lobbying various business sectors, is beginning to pay back. The developers that now own a piece of Main Street are already working at putting together a proposal for Council's consideration. It will take a few months but we will know what it is sooner rather than later. Another property owner is repackaging his sale proposal to make it more in line with the Main Street's vision as outlined in the District's Official Community Plan. In December, after confirming that the Town Centre development is indeed the most important priority for the District, Council reviewed the vision in the Official Community Plan and confirmed it with a direction to staff to find ways to "heat up" the action around this goal. The first step, which Council and staff have been working on for some time, will be to consider development incentives for Main Street. A report with a detailed bylaw proposal will be submitted to Council in February. The following steps to that will be to refine and notch up the District's promotion strategy in the spring.

In addition to this, Community News continues to be a high priority for Council. The goal of creating an Community News Strategy was accomplished in December. The next step is to create a work plan to be approved by Council. A number of stakeholders have been and will be involved in the follow up and completion of the various goals: the Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Kelowna, the Economic Planning and Development Committee, the Central Okanagan Community News Commission, the Agricultural Advisory Committee and all other District committees. This item is so important that I wish to write something more specific in the next couple of weeks and share it with our readers.

We have written many times about the state of our infrastructure and how critical it is to look after it to ensure that the quality of life in Lake Country is exceptional. As we mentioned already, the first piece of Lake Country's infrastructure puzzle was approved in December: the Water Master Plan. The map to a sustainable water service, both in terms of quality and quantity, is now clearly laid out for the next twenty years. We now need to map out our sewer and transportation needs as clearly. The Liquid Waste Management Plan amendment is taking as long as needed to meet both provincial and federal environmental requirements. We hope to have a full update in February. In the meantime, there is a critical need to expand in fact double our Waste Water Treatment Plant, which is at capacity. We have not yet heard back from the provincial government with respect to our request for a grant to cover the cost of the expansion. Our first attempt at this was unsuccessful. We are keeping our fingers crossed hoping that our partnership with the Central Okanagan Regional District, which is substantially contributing to fund this project, will persuade the provincial government as to the importance and regional scope of the request. We shall see.

The road piece of Council's plan is the completion of our Integrated Transportation Framework. The first phase was completed in 2012 with some major accomplishments as noted in the first part of this article. The framework will provide us with a 20-year plan on what needs to be done with our roads network from vehicular, pedestrian and recreational perspectives.

By completing these two plans we will also have a positive impact on the budget decision-making process. In fact, Council will be able to look at the priorities and make decisions based on more up-to-date data.

Council also confirmed the completion of the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) in other words a comprehensive community plan as a major priority for 2013. The process has begun. Funds were secured through a provincial and federal grant that covers the full cost of the project. Late in 2012, the District selected the firm HB Lanarc now Golders & Associates to work on the plan. The first meetings with staff and Council were held last week and the public consultation process will begin in February. This is a unique opportunity for the community, various stakeholders and the District to come together and prepare an overarching plan that will direct the preparation of other plans in the future, including our Official Community Plan. It will provide the guiding principles to economic, environmental, social, and infrastructure needs for Lake Country and provide a vision for many years to come. This is a very unique process and it is becoming also necessary in order to secure future funding from senior levels of government in order to pay for future projects. I certainly hope that our readers will fully engage in this process and look forward to see what the plan is going to look like.

Finally, the community will be also fully involved in the vision for the Pelmewash Parkway. The first public consultation event is set to be held in January. What an exciting opportunity to create something unique for one of the most beautiful stretches of land in the Okanagan. Again my invitation goes to our readers to fully participate and contribute to this great project.

Well, as you can see, it seems that we are going to be very busy for another year. This is our Council's second year in office. I am really excited at the prospect to see new and wonderful things happening in Lake Country. It seems very fitting to say that it will be 2013. The Okanagan Way!