The City of Merritt hosted an open house at the local civic centre.

The open house gave the residents an opportunity to learn and engage on various projects and topics that concern the public.

“(The event went) really well, we were very happy with the turn out and how engaged people were,” said Chief Administrative Officer Cynthia White. “I think probably the biggest thing, I was just really glad to see so many community members come out and be interested in learning more about what the city is doing.”

Approximately 150 residents attended the open house. The City provided information panels covering various city operations such as public works, roads, development, planning, geographic information systems (GIS) mapping, permitting, FireSmart, emergency preparedness, recreation, finance, careers, and more.

“There were certainly discussions about budget, and planning for bigger projects and how we were going to fund those, quite a bit of discussion around our water restrictions, and our upcoming water meter projects, and some questions about the water and sewer services going out to the 286 exit,” said White.

Director of Finance Kevin Natkinniemi presented the 2024-2028 financial plan which breaks down the sources of operational funds for the City and how resources are being invested in the community.

The city will be investing $39 million into the community with 51 per cent of that investment going into flood recovery projects – such as the rebuilding of the Middlesboro Bridge and the building of dikes. 

“We should have a significant portion of the diking on one side of the river by the end of 2025, maybe early into 2026,” said White. 

Additionally, out of the $39 million of community investment, 23 per cent will go into public works and 20 per cent will go into water and sewer. 

“We have some other places where we’ve identified there is need for underground work, pieces of maintenance work that has to be done at the sewage treatment plant. Ultimately, you’re gonna see most of that from interruptions in traffic because people are doing underground work, obviously you have to dig up roadways,” said White.

“And that if we’re doing underground services, that we’re making sure that we’ve got our roads right with all of the best standards for elevation, sidewalk, active transportation paths, that sort of stuff, so trying to bundle a lot of that work together to make sure we get the best product for the best price that we can,” continued White.

“I think the biggest part of this is for the community to understand that, because of the age of the infrastructure in the community, there is a lot of work to be done and it is not going to be easy work,” said White. “People’s daily commutes might be impacted, taxes are what they are because we have to have money in the bank to be able to do all these projects, and when I think when people start to see the number of projects that have to happen in order to keep up functioning and sustainable into the future, I think they start to see why it costs so much to individual taxpayers.”