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District of Fort St. James’ budget draft up for public consultation

Mayor Elphee pens letter highlighting key budget 2024 spending
The Fort St. James District office on Stuart Drive. (Taylor Hansen photo - Black Press Media)

Fort St. James’ 2024 municipal budget is available for public examination, enquiry and comment ahead of the district adopting it.

The budget was presented at the March 27 meeting and the public can submit their views on the matter by April 11.

The draft of the proposed 40-paged, 2024-2028 budget can be accessed on the district’s website .

Along with the budget plan, Mayor Martin Elphee also penned a letter to the residents highlighting capital expenses and strategic focus areas.

Elphee said the budget document reflects District of Fort St. James’ ongoing commitment to responsible stewardship of resources while also striving to meet the needs and aspirations of the community.

“Our strategic plan serves as our road-map, guiding us towards a future that is sustainable, inclusive, and resilient. Through prudent investment and strategic decision-making, we aim to enhance the quality of life for all residents of Fort St. James,” Elphee said in the March 28 letter.

The mayor highlighted ongoing investments in key infrastructure projects such as the airport which saw runway extension, installation of lights and enhancing safety and accessibility for air travel completed in phase 1.

In Phase 2, the district plans to undertake more improvements, contingent upon securing grant funding of $200,000. These include construction of fuelling facilities, installation of an Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS), implementation of security fencing among others. Elphee said these developments are critical for bolstering medivac, emergency services, firefighting support, connectivity, and ensuring safety and efficiency of air travel.

Another project that is a priority is the continued upgrade of the waterline infrastructure to ensure delivery of safe drinking water.

“Building upon previous efforts we will persist in enhancing water pressure, reliability,and longevity throughout the town,” Elphee wrote.

The mayor said in 2024 the district will pave and restore roads including Heathmont, Elm, Fir and Grove Street as well as continue with the extension of the waterline down Stones Bay.

The budget will look at fostering positive relations with Indigenous communities in the area, the mayor said while announcing collaborative efforts with Nak’azdli Whut’en in enhancing emergency response capabilities.

District of Fort St. James and Nak’azdli Whut’en established a joint Emergency Operations Centre and Emergency Support Services.

The district is also factoring in revitalization plans of lots beside Spirit Square. Through grant funding, the district will also host Indigenous workshops at the Visitor Centre in summer, Elphee said.

The mayor said the budget factors in projects to adapt to climate change. This involves improving upon the Community Wildfire Resilience Planning to address and mitigate wildfire risks. Elphee said the district is utilizing funding from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ Community Resilience Investment program to complete wildfire fuel mitigation in Treatment Unit #1 located east of the hospital.

The budget is also investing in enhancing walking trails and bikes paths through its Active Transportation Network plan. Finally the budget has allocated money to implement new staffing positions at District of Fort St. James, such as an Asset Management Specialist to enable the district to be proactive in repairs and maintenance.

Following public consultation period, the council will convene on April 17, to consider public comments and give first three readings to the Financial Plan Bylaw and Tax Rates Bylaw.

Following which on April 23 during the regular council meeting District of Fort St. James council will adopt the Financial Plan and Tax Rates Bylaws.

Read Mayor Elphee’s full statement here.

Public can submit their comments via email to or via mail to 477 Stuart Drive West, PO Box 640, Fort St. James, BC, V0J 1P0.

About the Author: Binny Paul

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