Council jumped right into the New Year with budget deliberations, a community forum held February 7th, new bylaws and new policies. Council is excited to announce that in January they passed a resolution on the right to a healthy environment. This declaration is part of the national Blue Dot movement sponsored by the David Suzuki Foundation. The declaration recognizes that people are part of the environment, and that a healthy environment is inextricably linked to the well-being of our community. The resolution reads: “Therefore Council supports the concept that all people have the right to live in a healthy environment that includes the right to breathe clean air, drink clean water, consume safe food, and to know what pollutants and contaminates are released into the environment.” Council also sent letters to the Provincial and Federal government encouraging them to support these rights and work towards inclusion of these rights into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The District of Fort St. James was active coordinating Winterfest activities throughout February. Sadly the weather did not cooperate and many events had to be cancelled. The District is busy planning exciting events for Earth Day, followed by Pitch-In Weeks and of course Canada Day. It’s not too early to start thinking about your parade oat. This year’s theme is Canada 150. The District is sponsoring an Earth Day event which will be taking place on April 20th at the Community Centre. This will be a chance to learn about how individuals can lessen their global footprint. April 22nd to May 7th is the District’s annual Pitch-In Weeks. Garbage bags are available at the District Of- ce. Please pledge to clean up your neighbourhood! Public Works has escaped large amounts of snow ploughing, but has had a busy spring dealing with water breaks and ground water seepage. Public Works would like to thank all residents for their patience with ooded ditches. If you are experiencing any problems please do not hesitate to contact the District Of ce at 250-996-8233. The Fort St. James Fire Department is holding their spring recruit course starting this April. Burn permits are available at the District Of ce free of charge. Burning grass and other debris is not permitted in the District of Fort St. James. Remember to clean your chimney twice a year to avoid chimney res and property damage. Smoke detectors save lives so check yours at least every six months. Council held a Community Forum in early February. This was an opportunity for community members to learn more about Council’s plans for the next two years. Council invited community partners to join the conversation. This included the Primary Care Society, Nak’azdli Whut’en, the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako, Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations and KDL as the Community Forest contractor. There were many positive discussions and Council feels better informed about the public’s wishes going forward. Council passed “Sign Regulation Bylaw No. 963, 2017” at the Regular Council Meeting February 22 2017. This new bylaw regulates new signs in Fort St. James. It is Council’s aim to regulate signs in the downtown core to create a cohesive look. Signs in place before the bylaw was adopted are exempt from the new Bylaw. A copy of the bylaw is available on the District’s website. Council has reviewed actual expenses for 2016 and found that the District came in under budget. Since January Council has been reviewing the proposed 2017 budget. Capital projects that have been approved include, Community Centre upgrades, Fort Forum interior renovations, sidewalk and road paving, columbarium at the cemetery, marina upgrades and Spirit Square washrooms. One of the challenges that Council faced this budget season was around water and sewer rates for users. Over the past years there have been increased costs due to aging infrastructure. Council wants to be able to build reserve funds to help replace aging infrastructure instead of chasing small leaks. Users will notice an increase in utility rates. Rates have increased by $25.47 for residential users per utility billing cycle. As of April 2017 the District will be spearheading tourism in Fort St. James. This comes on the heel of hiring an Economic Development Of cer. By bringing tourism services in house the District will be able to expand its role and operate the Visitor Information Centre (VIC). The VIC will be open 5 days a week for May, June and September, and 7 days a week during peak tourism season in July and August. Want to know more about what is happening in Fort St. James? Council meetings take place twice a month, updates can be found on the District of Fort St. James website (fortstjames.ca) as well as the Facebook page (facebook. com/fortstjames). Twice a year look for the Fort Flyer included with your utility tax notice. Council wants to make sure all residents are aware of what is going on in their community so check the Caledonia Courier quarterly for “Council’s Corner”.