WHITE ROCK - White Rock is economically viable and is in a good place financially.
That was the key message from Mayor Wayne Baldwin at his annual State of the City Address, held Thursday evening before a crowd of White Rock's movers and shakers.
"It's a question I hear often, is White Rock too small to exist on its own? Is it economically viable?" he said during his speech. "Well, we're not too small. In fact, out of 168 communities in the province, it is the 39th largest."
Financially, Baldwin said the city is in excellent shape.
"I hear groans and moans about our finances, but we're pretty darn good. We have no debt, our infrastructure is in good shape... we're not in a panic about anything, so we're doing very well. Viable? You bet we are."
Baldwin then described the city's unique relationship with Surrey, specifically how many residents of South Surrey identify with White Rock as the community in which they spend the most time.
"One of the biggest advantages is that we're surrounded on three sides by Surrey," said Baldwin. "It may seem threatening, but it's not. Geographically, people in South Surrey orient themselves with White Rock, it just works that way. Many of you came here from South Surrey and that speaks volumes."
Baldwin also touched upon some of the biggest priorities during his term as mayor, including densifying the town centre, enhancing the city's waterfront and attracting new developments.
He also discussed the city's pursuit to acquire the water utility from EPCOR, something that wasn't originally on council's long-term agenda but was made a priority when Fraser Health ordered the chlorination of White Rock's water supply.
Highlighting three points, Baldwin stated the city's case for why it was now looking at taking ownership of the city's water.
"EPCOR is not eligible for senior government grants, so they can't get money from the province or the feds," he explained. "Secondly, the rates they borrow at are higher than us. We get money pretty darn cheap through the municipal finance authority, so (with EPCOR) the cost for the taxpayer is higher than it needs to be."
The third point was that, as EPCOR was guaranteed a 10.5 per cent return on investment, the more money it puts into the project the more the company receives from taxpayers.
"So we think a case can be made in the financial interest for the city to own this facility and we're working towards that case," he said.
Baldwin concluded by saying he is focused on providing all citizens a high quality of life and ensuring community excellence through utilization of all of the city's resources.
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