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Tonight at City Hall, a 2020 budget draft will be presented to Councillors for their input and debate.

Documents for tonight's meeting include information on taxation. In 2019, the average Merritt house (worth $266,000) paid $1,378 in municipal taxes. Due to the increase in property assessments for many Merrittonians, if City Council chooses to keep the tax rate unchanged, the average house (now worth $289,000), would pay $1,497 or a net increase of $119 in municipal taxes this year.

Early in January, Mayor Linda Brown spoke with Q101 about the upcoming taxation debate.

“It is still my position that taxation needs to be kept low,” began Mayor Brown. “We’ll be looking to maintain at close to what we had overall. Which means we probably have more houses coming on and increased dollars, so our rate should reflect that. We know that we have to reduce our mill rate.”

“The goal is to try to maintain taxes at where they were. On the other hand, we have a number of different infrastructure projects, and I don’t know how that will play out in the long run,” added Brown.

While the tax rate does not need to be set in stone this evening, Council will be looking to give staff a rough working number to base the budget around.

This evening's meeting begins at 6 pm in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

Future budget meetings; (subject to change)

  • February 4 for Grant in Aid
  • February 18 for an open house
  • March 3 for finalization

 

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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The City of Merritt is continuing with its efforts to bring more business to town by looking to an international audience.

For the first time, representatives from Merritt will be attending the International Shopping Centre Association Conference, held next week in Whistler.

“We have a bunch of sessions lined up and we’ll be bringing lots of Merritt info and making sure we’re presenting out to particular sectors,” said Will George, Manager of Economic Development.

The City is looking to attract businesses on the retail side of agriculture, restaurants, and manufacturing.

“It’s not just a general one of going out and saying this is Merritt. It’s saying this is Merritt, and this is why your particular sector should look at investing in the community,” concluded George.

The conference begins next week.

 

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Dan Albas HOC

Local MP Dan Albas has been appointed to the newly formed all-party Canada-China Relations Committee.

MP Albas is one of four Conservative Caucus representatives on the committee. 

“This is a challenging time for Canada-China relations and this committee will allow Parliamentarians from all parties to examine the situation and make concrete recommendations to the government,” said MP Albas. “We need a different approach to this relationship, and I am excited to get to work.”

The relationship between the two countries was strained after the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou and the subsequent arrest of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in China.

“You look at the other elements of the relationship with China, look at trade. Right now, we have over a billion dollars of losses to Canadian farmers, particularly in canola. You have the case where the government still hasn’t come around to what it’s going to do regarding Huawei and whether it should participate in the 5G buildout,” said Albas. “Those human rights issues that have appeared in the last months and weeks, the government has been relatively quiet on those things.”

The committee met for the first time on Monday, with the Conservative members requesting that the Ambassador to China be present, that request was approved by the committee.

“The first person we need to speak to is Ambassador Barton, he really is the point person in China on the Canada-China relationship. It’s important to find out his perspective,” said Albas.

“It’s my hope to be working with other Conservative MPs, but really to work with all parliamentarians from all parties on this committee to point to a better framework because this Government has had a lack of judgment on this file,” concluded Albas.

 

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marijuana smoking

Provincially, smoking tobacco has been steadily on the decline. However, locally, after decreasing between 2008 and 2013, the percentage has remained unchanged since.

The report found that the most common ages for youth to first try smoking was 14 or 15.

Among the students who reported smoking tobacco, 62% vaped with nicotine within the past month.

In total 27% of Thomson Cariboo Shuswap students have smoked tobacco, compared to the provincial rate of 18%.

The smoking stats are consistent when replacing tobacco with marijuana. The BC average for students smoking pot was 25% compared with the regional rate of 37%. The most common age for students trying marijuana for the first time was between 13 and 15.

Alcohol also followed the trend, with 56% of youth reporting that they’ve tried alcohol compared to a BC average of 44%. There were no differences in response between males and females.

Finally, just under 1 in 5 students, 19%, reported using a substance other than alcohol or tobacco, above the 16% provincial average.

 

*Stats from the 2018 BC Adolescent Health Survey

 

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sd58 bus 3

Recently, the BC Adolescent Health Survey was published. The survey is conducted in schools across the province, the results are then broken down into regions and published.

Locally, the survey was administered by nurses and nursing students from Thompson Rivers University.

The survey covers topics from the hours of sleep students are getting, to proper nutrition and physical activity.

The most startling numbers provided were under the headings of Mental Health, and self-harm.

Compared to five years earlier, there was an increase in the percentage of youth who reported having anxiety disorder or panic attacks, (23% vs 10% in 2013), depression (20% vs 11%), and PTSD, (4% vs 1%).

Overall only 81% of Males in the region, and 59% of females reported their mental health as good or excellent.

The higher percentage of students reporting depression and anxiety led to high numbers of youth admitting to self-harm.

In the past year, 20% of students had cut or injured themselves on purpose without the intent of suicide. Only 9% of males reported self-harm compared to 28% of females. The most common reason given for self-harming was to calm themselves down (59%).

Over the past year, 19% of youth in the region reported seriously considering suicide, while 6 percent admitted to attempting suicide in the past twelve months.

SD 58 Superintendent Steve McNiven addressed the numbers.

“Mental health continued to be a focus for our kids. They’re telling us what they’re struggling with and that they’re struggling more often,” said McNiven. “What intrigued me at the end of the document was they want more information around mental health.”

“They’re telling us two things, they’re struggling, and they want more information. What we can take some solace in is that I believe we’re recognizing that and doing it. It just reinforces the fact that we have to continue,” added McNiven.

 

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