The Chronicle asked Oliver Town Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger about the past year and looking ahead to 2018.
This is what he said.
Q: What was the highlight for you in 2017?
A: My highlight would have to be the rezoning of Centennial RV Park to accommodate the new Oliver Coast Hotel that will open next year. This was an issue that created a lot of public interest both in favour and in opposition. Many residents attended information sessions and the public hearing where over 40 citizens spoke for and against this change. In the end, I believe that this was something that the Town of Oliver has needed for a long time and council voted unanimously in favour of the rezoning.
Q: What issues do you think will dominate council’s time in the new year?
A: There are two large issues in the coming year and both require support from senior levels of government. The legalization of marijuana will happen this summer and we are still somewhat in the dark as to the framework that the provincial government will impose regarding the retail sale of cannabis. Now that the province has secured 75 per cent of the tax revenue from legal cannabis sales in BC, it is imperative that they share a large portion of that with municipalities and regional districts. It is the municipalities that have to change and enforce bylaws and rules that affect legal cannabis and we need funds from the province to be able to do an effective job without asking our taxpayers to shoulder this burden.
The second issue is the permanent fix to the irrigation canal. Now that the province has committed $5 million to this project, it is up to the federal government to step up so that the Town can move forward with this project and prevent any future disruption with our irrigation system.
Q: Do you envision more people smoking pot on our street corners?
A: You joke about people smoking pot on street corners but this could become a major issue very soon. Some people will feel that smoking pot should be treated the same as smoking a cigarette, no big deal anywhere. Others will feel that cannabis is a mood altering drug and should be treated the same as drinking alcohol in public. It is interesting to note that Ontario has already stated that cannabis will only be allowed to be used within a private residence, no public use of any kind.
Q: Any personal New Year’s resolutions?
A: I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions.
Q: Any good harmless gossip?
A: I don’t have any good gossip, but if you get anything good please pass it on.