The Union of BC Municipalities made an announcement a few weeks ago that Lake Country was one of the 15 finalists of the Open For Business provincial award. Although Lake Country did not win the award, the Minister of Small Business, the Hon. Naomi Yamamoto, clearly stated that the 15 finalists were the top business policy innovators in the Province. I believe this to be a testament to the hard work we put in over the last 4 years to change the way government business is done by focusing on what we call the "Can Do" culture.

We had to make some internal adjustments to get to this point, including streamlining our operations and processes, which resulted in staff cuts. With respect to the latter, the primary focus was in the way we process land use applications and specifically Development Permit applications. Once the slowest municipality to get an application before Council, now we are the fastest in the region having cut our process time to six weeks (other bigger municipalities, including Kelowna and Vernon, take at least and I emphasize "at least" twice as much time).

In keeping with this focus, we have initiated a new partnership with Tourism Kelowna, created a Tourism Development Commission, increased our ties with the Central Okanagan Community News Corporation and the Lake Country Chamber of Commerce, and created an Community News Office at the Municipal Hall.

While there is an active rezoning application for a commercial centre at the corner of Oceola Road and Highway 97, which would create more needed opportunities for people to stop and shop in Lake Country, another development company has put together a proposal for Main Street where they purchased property. District staff and the developer are working together to clean up the general details and prepare a draft concept for Council's review by the end of this month. In the meantime another developer is working on the details of a concept for another property on Main Street that he, and a consortium of investors, is in the process of buying. This is good news as to meeting the goal of having a vibrant and live Main Street where people can shop, connect, play, and walk.

Last night, Council rezoned the corner of Highway 97 and Okanagan Centre Road East to accommodate the development of a quick oil change business. The Great Canadian Oil Company will set up shop in town. Another good business addition to the community. And yesterday, through the Regional Community News Commission "Business Walk" event, Council, staff, our MP and MLA, and Chamber staff and board members learned that a number of businesses are expanding their operations. This, to me, it is not only very positive and promising but reflects also the fact that in 2012, according to Stats Canada, Lake Country was the fifth fastest growing municipality in BC with an increase of 2% in population (we are now over 12,000).

We are still concerned about the quality of our infrastructure especially our transportation network and we plan to continue discussions with Council and the community on how we manage what is defined as an infrastructure "deficit". This does not mean a financial deficit, but that there is a cost associated with the maintenance, repair and replacement of transportation infrastructure that has to be dealt with. This is nothing new as we have been talking about it for 4 years now recognizing as much as $2 million per year is necessary to keep the roads at a functional level. Like the upgrade to the Water Master Plan, transportation infrastructure needs to be addressed on a similar level. Stay tuned as community input is sought in conjunction with direction from Council on moving forward with the "Transportation for Tomorrow" Plan.

Finally, at the Council meeting last night, a group of citizens submitted a petition to request that the School District discontinue negotiations with the private owner of the Aspen Grove Golf Club, the only golf club in Lake Country, to purchase the golf course to accommodate school fields for the upcoming creation of a Middle School near George Elliot Secondary. Although the District of Lake Country has no jurisdiction over the School District's plans to meet the demand for schools in Lake Country, the petition will be forwarded to both the School District and the Agricultural Land Commission the agency that has to approve the removal of the golf course from agricultural land in order for the School to proceed. We appreciate these people's concerns and we also appreciate the School District's needs. We also respect the fact that a private transaction may have already been signed and sealed that our local government may not have any authority to influence.

The next Council meeting will be on October 15th and at that time the 6-month Financial Statements will be submitted to Council for information. In the meantime, as we continue to move forward with a number of projects repaving of Camp Road and expansion of our Sewer Treatment Plant to name a couple we are also refocusing on our Business Systems Review to further the success of the first two phases. This would be Phase 3 and the main focus is to revisit of our current capacity and see if, after the changes made in the spring of 2012, more tweaking needs to be done. I hope to provide more information on this in the next few weeks.