The Town of Niverville’s 2022 budget is replete with details about how this year’s tax dollars will be put to use. In order to make the numbers work, homeowners should expect to see a nominal increase on their municipal tax bill in the fall.
The increase will mean approximately $58 more in taxes on the average home with an assessed value of $287,100. The waste collection levy will remain the same as last year.
With massive financial projects like the construction of the Community Resource and Recreation Centre (CRRC) behind them, council is now shifting their focus to other areas.
When the town assumed ownership of Open Health Niverville in the spring of 2020, council’s fundamental goal was to find more doctors to staff the medical clinic. With that objective well underway, their 2022 target includes adding a diagnostic wing and trained staff to improve services.
“The focus now would be more so on things like ultrasound, EKG, and… X-ray,” says Mayor Myron Dyck. “Those are very much front and centre. Until now, the focus on health services has been on doctors because of the amount of people that we have that still need [a family physician].”
Unfortunately, Dyck says the diagnostic offerings will likely not include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—at least until there’s an indication of adequate demand after the province’s recent procurement of two mobile MRI units.
However, the province has been granted Niverville a license for diagnostic services, which council hopes to act on. Part of the budget’s $1.5 million dedicated to general government services will be used for this purpose.
Also demanding attention this year is the need for increased protective services. $550,000 of this year’s budget has been designated to the construction of the new RCMP office, which will be located at the rear of the civic building. Completion of this new space is expected in April 2023.
Further to this theme, the CRRC will soon be prepped and ready to house a large segment of the population should a natural disaster or other crisis arise. Backup power to the CRRC will be provided by a large generator that is being relocated there from the water treatment plant.
Construction on the new traffic signals at the corner of Mulberry and Highway 311 will begin on May 24. Roadwork is expected to take most of the summer, although the signals themselves won’t arrive until sometime next year due to a supply shortage.
A total of $1.3 million has been designated for transportation, which will cover the cost of the upgraded intersection. As well, funds will be available for the rehabilitation of Highway 311 between Arena Road and Krahn Road, street lighting along Krahn Road, and other smaller projects throughout town.
About $125,000 will be directed toward environmental development. A portion of this will be paid out to Urban Systems, a community planning and development company, to perform a 30-year growth study on the town.
This study is expected to provide council with long-term projections of what will be required in terms of land and infrastructure if they are to sustain the town’s current rate of growth. Based on data of the past 15 years, Niverville has been averaging almost 30 percent growth every consecutive five-year period.
“Does Niverville run out of space 20 years from now or does Niverville run out of space 50 years from now?” wonders Eric King, the town’s CAO.
Having this math in front of council will give them an educated guess as to what they’ll need to ask for when they next approach the neighbouring RM of Hanover to annex land.
On the subject of population growth, work is ongoing to expand the water treatment plant on Fifth Avenue South. That project is expected to be completed later this year. Once complete, Mayor Dyck says it will have the capacity to serve a population of 15,000.
Another project covered under this year’s budget is an expansion to the compost facility so that it can accept a greater variety of biowaste. Council hopes to hire full-time staff to monitor the site.
Of course, after two years of restrictions on sporting activities, Mayor Dyck says that council is working hard to keep up with the recreational needs of the community in the coming months.
“At the end of COVID, it seems like families have come out gangbusters [to get] their kids plugged back in,” Dyck says, noting that enrollment in every available activity is up significantly this summer.
Finally, capital investments purchases in 2022 will include a new culvert steamer and the replacement of emergency services equipment such as water and ice rescue gear and firefighter turnout gear.
Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Niverville Citizen