Thursday, November 29, 2007

Steve's Political Rant #4

1) City of Quesnel Long-Term Debt

Over the last number of years, the City of Quesnel has borrowed money for various projects supported by residents including City Hall, the Johnston Bridge, the local Soccer Facility with a total of $11 million for these projects. Now, Quesnel Council is looking into investing taxpayers dollars for 2 other projects: 1) Quesnel Museum and 2) Multi-Centre. While the Multi-Centre has been discussion at length for some time, the Museum project is a relatively new project being discussed publicly, for funding via long-term debt as 1 option for funding. The Multi-Centre referendum is slated to proceed in May of 2008. My concern is that given the current economic climate, now may not be the time to go further in long-term debt even though, the Multi-Centre & Quesnel Museum are most worthy of taxpayer support. I hope that taxpayers' in Quesnel will consider this going forward from now until the local goverment election in November of 2008. I can confirm that the City of Quesnel along with other muncipal gov'ts do have a formula that they can not exceed and it is: No more then 25% of a local government revenue can go towards payment of long-term debt. If a local government exceeds this formula, then the appropriate loan authorization by-law will not be approved by Victoria.

2) Electoral Boundary Commission Act (Amendment Act), 2007

Hon. Mike DeJong (Government House Leader + Minister of Aboriginal Affairs) informed the House that this Bill won't proceed unless there is consensus on both sides to move it forward. The NDP, at this time, don't support this Bill. This Bill will die as the House will rise for its' Christmas break at 6:30pm tonight (Thursday, November 29th, 2007). This will be a shame, of course, as the interim report of the Electoral Boundary Commission was decried by the NDP as unacceptable for rural people and their right to representation in the Legislature. It appears that the present ridings are here to stay for the immediate future including the next provincial election of 2009.

CRD Board - Meeting Highlights - November 9th, 2007


1) Gord Rattray from the Barkerville Heritage Trust appeared before the Board to present information on options for a Barkerville Circle Tour Connector Route. The Board ultimately resolved to support the Purden Lake Route.

2) Ken Day from the UBC Alex Fraser Research Forest and Cathy Koot, Research Coordinator
from the Alex Fraser Research Forest, gave the CRD Board an overview of the UBC Alex Fraser Research Forest sites and programs. UBC has two research sites in the Cariboo. The Gavin Lake site, 6,315 hectares, is adjacent to Beaver Valley near Quesnel Lake and the Knife Creek site, 3,487 hectares, is near 150 Mile House.


1) The Cariboo Regional District, the City of Williams Lake and the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council (NStQ) are hosting a Community to Community (C2C) workshop on December 5 and 6, 2007 in Williams Lake. The C2C forums provide elected official and staff opportunities to build
partnerships and share best practices. Funding for the forums is provided by UBCM.

2) The Regional District Board discussed the dramatic increase in wood waste volumes in its landfill sites throughout the Cariboo Chilcotin resulting from the clean-up of beetle killed
trees. For example, the Sheridan Lake landfill site has experienced significant increases over the past year. In 2006, a total of 8,638 cubic metres of wood waste accumulated, increasing to 28,000 cubic metres in 2007. This resulted in disposal costs of $51,401 and $172,550 respectively. CRD Chair Jon Wolbers and staff have requested a meeting with the Ministers of Environment and Forestry & Range at the earliest opportunity to discuss financial assistance to deal with the inflow of wood waste resulting from the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic. During that meeting, the CRD will also request that the Ministries relax environmental regulations to allow burning of wood waste on a more frequent basis.

WL Council - Meeting Highlights - Nov 6/07


1) Bruce Young from Jack Gawthorn Memorial Dog Sled Race encouraged Council to participate in this race. Mayors Nelson, Bello and Vermette along with CRD Chair J. Wolbers will be participating in this race


1) Fee-for-Service for '08 - A total of $145,000 was handed out for Fee-for-Service for different organizations in Williams Lake for 2008

2) Council will forward a cheque of rougly $4300 to the CRD to support their Promotional Tourism DVD. Money to come for Round 2 of the UBCM Community Tourism Funding

3) Final approval was also given to amend the Official Community Plan and Zoning Amendment
Bylaws for the Pioneer Family Partnership project.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Steven's Political Rant #3

1) The NDP and the BC Legislature Speaker

Earlier this week, the House Speaker (Hon. Bill Barisoff) ruled that Carole James's Private Member Bill M-214 (Minimum Wage Fairness Act, 2007) was out of order on the basis that it infringed on the Crown Prerogative respecting creation of new programs or increased expenditures on the Provincial Treasury and only the Governing Party, at present - the BC Liberals' can introduce such a Bill upon the recommendation of the Lt-Governor to the Legislature. Hours later, BC New Democrats issued a press release called "B.C. Liberals Cut Off Minimum Wage Debate".

However, if one looks at Hansard, on Monday, October 22nd, 2007 during the morning sitting of the House. The Government House Leader (Hon. Mike DeJong), nor any other member (NDP/BC Liberal) raised a point of order re: M-214. The Speaker, on his own initiative, ruled Bill M-214 out of order. It is deeply disheartening that the NDP would choose to politicize the Speaker's decision as one based on politics, rather than one based upon a review of the bill and whether or not the bill conforms to the rules of the House. Standing Order #9 in part says:

"No decision shall be subject to an appeal to the House.

Which, in English, means that when a ruling by the Speaker is made, it is final and that members should move on. The Speaker is a independent servant of the House and in the case of Bill M-214, the Speaker exercised his authority in a fair way and the NDP shouldn't pout like a little child because it didn't get its' way. The Office of the Speaker must, at all times, remain above political rhetoric to ensure that all members are treated fairly and further ensure that the Speaker is not perceived to be favouring either the Government or Opposition side of the House.

October 23rd, 2007 Meeting of North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee:

During this meeting, the Gary Young report was discussed by the CRD Directors' for Areas A, B, C and I and Quesnel City Council. During the meeting, Mayor Bello suggested that all recreational facilities such as parks, trails, etc should be equally paid for by all taxpayers - rural and city.

The part I find most unfortunate is that Mayor Bello likes to do double-speak. He successfully had himself appointed as Quesnel Council's rep. to the CRD Board and continues to pontificate to the CRD Northern Directors' as to what they should be paying for. Certainly, I would strongly encourage him to follow the lead of WL Council.

He needs to consult with CRD Directors prior to creation of new services that may be regional in nature and other services that benefit all residents' (rural and city) and do it with an air of respect that makes it clear that he won't be directing CRD Directors' as to what they should be paying for and how much and that he seeks to have a harmonious relationship with his CRD Director counterparts. The Cariboo Regional District has gone to great lengths and then some to help out Quesnel Council with their fiscal challenges in regards to Quesnel services that are used by regional residents like:

1) Soccer
2) Airport
3) Transit

I would like to think that he should be grateful, given the economic conditions of the region. In fact, it was commented at this meeting that several of the new bylaws that would allow for contributions from rural taxpayers' to the City of Quesnel for their Airport, Transit and Soccer are in danger of being defeated. But, the actions of Mayor Bello are a long line of actions since 2004 and if wants a harmonious relationship with Directors Armstrong, Falloon, Wilkins and Glassford, then I would suggest that he seek the advice of Mayor Nelson and take his advice when he seeks it. CRD Directors in the Central Region (Zacharias, Dickey, Barnett, Bracewell and Mumford) have consented to a contribution towards the operation of the Cariboo Chilcotin Museum among other areas that are of concern between CRD Directors' for Areas D, E, F, J, K and the City of Williams Lake Council. I believe that the relationship between the CRD Central Directors and the City of Williams Lake Council is one that Quesnel Council must emulate in order to deliver high quality services in the North Cariboo. This can be done by rolling up the shelves and not pontificating to CRD Directors' but working in partnership with them for the betterment of all residents, rural and urban.

WL Council Highlights - October 16th

Public Hearing at 6:30pm :

Bylaws for WL Seniors Village & Pioneer Family Land Partnership were considered

1 person spoke in favour of rezoning & OCP amendment bylaws for WL Seniors' Village and 1 person spoke about Rezoning & OCP Amendment bylaws for Pioneer Family Land Partnership re: Traffic Flow on Highway 20 & South Lakeside Drive and Infrastructure concerns

All bylaws that were before the Public Hearing were accordingly referred back to the Council Meeting later on for consideration of 3rd Reading.

Meeting adjourned at 7:07pm

Council Meeting - 7:30pm


1) WL RCMP Detachment Commander, Staff-Sgt. Grant Martin, discussed Crime Stats from Jan.1 - Oct. 15

2) Kevin Brown presented overview for Barkerville Circle Tour. His report was referred to Council's Committee of the Whole for further consideration

3) Councillor Mead gave an overview of his trip to China with Mayor Nelson. His Council report was referred to the Economic Development Portfolio for further consideration


1) Bylaw #'s: 2007, 2021 (Pioneer) and 2032, 2034 (WL Seniors' Village) were all given 3rd Reading. Bylaws #'s 2032, 2034 were then adopted. Bylaws 2007 and 2021 were referred to the Ministry of Transportation for their approval prior to adoption

2) October 2007 has been proclaimed as Foster Family Month, Community Living Month and Autism Awareness Month

3) Council approved the tender for the purchase of four new GMC ¾ ton pick‐up trucks at a cost of $122,223 to Cariboo GM.

4) In September, Mayor Nelson and CAO Alberto DeFeo had the opportunity to meet with Chief Willy Alphonse and Band Councillor Heather McKenzie to discuss a number of ways to further common interests between the City and WL Indian Band. In last evening’s Council meeting, staff was directed to initiate collaboration with the Williams Lake Indian Band to address overlapping land use issues as well as water and sewer needs.

5) Council has directed Staff to prepare expressions of interest for several projects to the Federal Government Mountain Pine Beetle Community Economic Diversification Initiative. The projects include:
a) Industrial Rail Spur
b) Highway 20 Corridor Project
c) Event Centre,
d) North End Grey Water System
e) Community Forest Business Plan
f) Cariboo Economic Development Capacity
g) Stampede Park Upgrade.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

CRD Board Meeting Highlights - October 12th

Cariboo-Chilcotin Hospital District Board:

Delegates: None


1) Various press releases were received from Interior Health and Northern Health

2) The CCRHD resolved to grant $140,000.00 towards the pallitive care project being run by the Quesnel & District Pallative Care Association furnishing, fixtures and finishing of the palliative care unit in Quesnel

CRD Board of Directors' Meeting:


1) Bob Simpson (Cariboo-North MLA) and Charlie Wyse (Cariboo-South MLA) appeared before the Board to discuss various matters including TILMA, the Electoral Boundary Commission Report


1) Various Planning Bylaws were granted 1st and 2nd Readings and now they will be referred to the various Electoral Area APC's and Public Hearings for further consideration prior to the Board's consideration of 3rd Reading of these bylaws

2) Hennigar/Arnoldus - The Board approved a deferral of 30 days on this application, upon the recommendation of Director Ted Armstong (Area 'A' Director)

3) The Board declared November 18th to 25th, 2007 Restorative Justice Week in the Cariboo Regional District

4) The Board also declared October 15th to October 21st, 2007 Waste Reduction week in the Cariboo Regional District

5) The CRD's Library Report for 2006 was received. A copy of this report can be found at

6) The Board resolved to pursue various funding opportunities for the Phase II project at CNC (College of New Calendonia). The money being requested is $1.2 Million

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

WL Council Meeting - October 2nd, 2007


1) Geoff Wagner, on behalf on both EPCOR and the United Way made award and monetary presentations to the local Wresting Club, individual youth and the WL Social Planning Council for various initiatives.

2) The local Conservation Council made a presentation to Council requesting the Waterwise program be funded on a "fee-for-service" basis. Council resolved to refer the issue to the 2008 Budget Process


1) Stop signs on Soda Creek Road /Frizzi Road will be switched to "Yield" signs while a more permanent solution can be found to the traffic issue for those who want to cross the rail line from Soda Creek Road onto Frizzi Road.

2) Several Revitalization Tax Exemption applications were approved by Council. These agreements see the Municipal portion of their tax bill deferred provided that renovations are completed in a section of the downtown area that was designated by Council, earlier this year by bylaw. A reminder: the deadline to apply for this program is October 31st, 2007.

3) A letter was received from the Assitant Deputy Attorney-General regarding Council's open letter in the form of a full-page ad. The letter, in short, described the actions that the Province has taken to date and how Council can address their issues with the appropriate Federal Cabinet Minister. Mayor Nelson suggested that this letter was "fluff". Councillors Mead/Rathor along with Mayor Nelson will phone Attorney-General Wally Oppal to discuss their concerns with this letter

4) Several UBCM Awards were presented during Council's meeting.

*** A Reminder - October 16th, 2007 in Council Chambers, Public Hearings for WL Seniors' Village expansion and Pioneer Family Land Partnership re: Wal-Mart type development will start at 6:30pm. If you want to state your opposition/support of these development proposals, then please come out and do so. I'm not able to do so myself, as I'm Deputy Chair of the Advisory Planning Commission and since I spoke to these applicants at the APC level, I'm barred by bylaw to speak to these applications, at the Public Hearing stage ***

Steve's Political Rant #2

From the "bad news" department:

1) Carole James and the BC NDP have published information about complaints re: Seniors' Care at facilities in Victoria/Williams Lake, dating back to 2002 and going forward as far as 2005. These facilities are owned by Retirement Concepts. I personally got a tour of the Williams Lake facility prior to its' opening, while I was a member of Williams Lake's Health Advisory Committee. I'm also aware of a complaint that came out of Williams Lake Seniors' Village in 2004 and while I can't discuss the particulars of the complaint due to the fact it was discussed at an In-Camera meeting of the Health Advisory Committee, I can absolutely say that the Williams Lake Seniors' Village is well run/managed as of late. I understand that this isn't necessarily the case at Retirement Concepts' Victoria facility. I'm sure that there will also be complaints on how one is treated at a health care facility, be it a hospital or even a Seniors' Care facility. I think the process is important here: the complaint needs to be investigated in a neutral-based manner by the local Health Authority Staff and if the complaint is legitimate, then corrective action is taken to resolve the complaint. Simple, really. No politics involved. Figure out the problem then solve it, working together with Health Authority Staff, family members and on-site staff. So, the NDP needs to understand that rehashing old complaints from 2003-2005 and proclaiming it as a "pattern of ignored complaints" by a "uncaring" government is a little far fetched, given that there hasn't been any complaints about seniors care in Williams Lake, in any event, for the last year. I understand that this isn't the case at Retirement Concepts facility in Victoria and they will have to solve the problems at that facility there. When the NDP ran publicly funded and staffed senior care facilities, even those facilities were the subject of complaints. And just as life isn't perfect, taking care of seniors', given their medical state, can be challenging at times.

2) In the October 3rd, 2007 edition of the Cariboo Observer (local Williams Lake newspaper)
Carole James wrote an letter to the editor proclaiming "there is widespread agreement that the time is right for a minimum wage increase, over 30 municipal councils' have passed resolutions calling on the Province to increase the minimum wage to $10.00/hour".

While wages in Metro Vancouver have proved challenging to those living there, increasing the minimum wage won't help to solve the issue around those who struggle to pay the bills. But instead, we need to focus on training those in minimum wage jobs and upgrade their skills so they can provide a better life for themselves and their families. Also, 30 municipal councils out of 150 municipal councils Province-wide who support an increase to the minimum wage is not, in my view, "wide spread". In fact, the percentage of municipal councils who support a call for an increase to the minimum wage is actually 20%. I would suggest those municipal councils' who want to see an increase in the minimum wage are in the minority.

In the "good news" department:

Act Now BC Minister of State Gordon Hogg will be in Williams Lake on Friday to promote the Act Now BC Program. Then on Saturday, Premier Campbell along with Ministers Pat Bell (Minister of Agriculture & Lands), Shirley Bond (Minister of Education/Deputy Premier
Claude Richmond (Minister of Income Assistance) along with John Rustad (Northern MLA's Caucus Chair and MLA for Prince George-Omenica) will all be attending a BC Liberal Party's Regional Conference for all 3 Prince George ridings', along with both Cariboo ridings, the 2 Kamloops ridings and Yale-Lillioet in Williams Lake. Topics for discussion include Health Care, Forestry and Transportation issues in these ridings. As well, Premier Campbell will give a speech to the party faithful present. I will discuss the proceedings of this conference in a future post. I'm very much looking forward to this weekend. There is a chance that Kevin Krueger (Minister of State - Mining) will attend this conference, but is subject to his calendar being open for this event this Saturday.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Steve's Political Rant

Well, this has been a busy week in provincial politics... :)

Firstly, news broke out that former BC NDP MLA and Cabinet Minister during the 1990's and currently the Mayor of Golden, Jim Doyle jumped from the BC New Democrats over to the BC Liberals and there is speculation that he'll run in his former riding of Columbia River-Revelstoke in the 2009 Provincial General Election. As those of you remember Jim Doyle, he was hardcore NDP, as hardcore as current NDP MLA Harry Lali. Not the kind of news that Carole James needed.

Secondly, the Union of BC Municipalities Convention was held this past week. Both Carole James, as Leader of the Opposition, and the Hon. Gordon Campbell - Premier, both spoke at the UBCM Convention, which wrapped up on Friday. Carole James gave her speech to UBCM Delegates on Wednesday and the Premier giving his keynote address on Friday. I was disappointed with her speech again, as it had the same kind of political rhetoric as she gave to NCMA Delegates at the NCMA Convention held in May of this year. She told UBCM Delegates that she and her party were fundamentally opposed to the Gateway project as a whole, even though several of her MLA's including Harry Baines (Surrey-Newton), Mike Farnworth (Port Coquitlam-Burke and the NDP Opposition House Leader) have stated publicly that they support twinning of the Port Mann Bridge, which is part of the Gateway Project. I believe twinning of the Port Mann Bridge is part of a bigger solution which is allows for the free flow of goods and people between Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Watch for Ms. James to take a big hit, politically, for this blunder. Then yesterday, Ms. James was on CKNW's Bill Good Show to "clarify" her comments on the Gateway Project related to the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge. Lots of callers clearly weren't buying it. They essentially slammed her for not supporting the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge. Twinning this bridge is essential if residents from Surrey, Langley want to use buses from their homes into the Metro Vancouver Region.

The BC NDP even engaged in "fed bashing" because the federal government didn't bring any "new" transit money to the table. Obviously, they haven't learned yet that fed bashing, while it may be popular here, isn't going to help when you lobby federal cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister for making investments in transit in the Metro Vancouver Region. Also, the NDP slammed the Premier's speech at the UBCM Convention for not announcing anything new and along with no new initiatives for Pine Beetle affected communities in BC, which I think is a farce, personally, as I believe you'll see both provincial/federal governments providing even more support for rural communities roll out in short order in addition to the money that both levels have announced so far

All in all - not the best political week for Carole James and the BC NDP. Hopefully, Carole James can hang on as BC NDP Leader until after the 2009 Provincial General Election and perhaps convince other NDP MLA's, former or present, to join the BC Liberals who may be becoming disenfranchised with the BC NDP .

Have a great weekend... :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

WL Council Highlights - September 18th, 2007


1) Gerry Desrochers - TRU Director for WL Campus - he gave Council an overview of ongoing and future activities at TRU's WL Campus including landscaping and future courses in trades and nursing

2) Irene Willsie - Women's Contact Society - requesting Council's support for the "Take Back the Night" event on September 21st, 2007. Council gave its' strong support for this event and encouraged the entire community to come out and lend its' support to this very important event.

1) The garbage contact between the City and Central Cariboo Disposal has been extended to April 30th, 2008. This will allow City Staff enough time to put together a comprehensive Request for Proposal which will include expanded recycling with the inclusion of the "Blue Box" program

2) Councillor Rathor expressed his grave concern over the lack of work on re-paving of road shoulders by the Ministry of Transportation. Council agreed to work with the Ministry of Transportation to encourage the benefits of paved road shoulders for cyclists.

3) Council granted permission to the Central Cariboo Economic Development Corporation to use the City's Cowboy Hat Logo for marketing purposes in connection with the TDC.

4) A budget request of $32, 425 for the Museum of the Cariboo-Chilcotin for their operating expenses was approved by Council. This amount will become part of the Central Cariboo Leisure Services Master Budget for 2008.

5) Councilor Ed Mead was given permission by Council to attend a "Building Safer Communities: Gangs, Drugs, and Domestic Violence Issues" conference in Richmond, BC to be held on October 31st and November 1st, 2007.

6) Re-zoning/OCP Proposals for BCR Properties, Elizabeth Hunt, Jim Willson and Ben Peterson all received 3rd Reading. These Re-Zoning proposals are now referred to Ministries of Transportation/Environment for their consent.

7) Pioneer Family Land Partnership proposal on South Lakeside Drive received 2nd Reading. This proposal will be the subject of a Public Hearing on October 16th, 2007. The hearing will likely start at 7:00pm.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Excellent Newspaper Column by Mike Smyth - Vancouver Province

Yesterday, Micheal Smyth of the Vancouver Province talked about both the Premier and Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan meeting with BC Green Leader Chris Bennett. The Premier takes time to meet with Mr. Bennett on a regular basis and always returns his phone calls. I bet Carole James wishes that she could get such treatment from the Premier. But this is politics - plain and simple. The Greens and the NDP share the same vote base. With the Greens at 15% and the NDP in the low 30%, the Greens are siphoning enough of the left-wing vote to prevent the NDP from receiving a majority of votes to become government in Victoria. Mayor Sam Sullivan is even attempting to get BC Green Leader Chris Bennett to speak at the UBCM Convention next week. Mr. Bennett tried to get the support of the BC New Democrats and its' leader, Ms. James. Her response? - I encourage you to continue your lobbying with mayors, councillors and the UBCM executive, It is these locally elected representatives, rather than provincial politicians, who, as you know, make the decisions with the UBCM agenda. Obviously, she isn't going to help Mr. Bennett with his political ambitions to have Greens in the Legislature in 2009. As for Mayor Sullivan motives, it is true that the Local Government Elections are next year and if Mayor Sullivan wants to stay Mayor for a further 3 years, right through the 2010 Olympics, then COPE (Coalition of Progressive Electors) and Vision Vancouver have to stay divided right through the next civic election. Personally, I don't see COPE and Vision Vancouver working together to defeat the NPA's (Non-Partisan Association) hold at Vancouver City Hall during the 2008 Local Government Elections

Monday, September 10, 2007

Public Consulation Session - OCP Amendment Application - Pioneer Family Land Partnership

Hello all:

Tomorrow night (Tuesday, September 11th, 2007), Pioneer Family Land Partnership along with the City of Williams Lake will be hosting a Public Consulation Session for Pioneer's Application for an amendment to the City's OCP. The development will be including a Walmart along with other small "big-box" stores. This meeting tomorrow is a requirement in accordance with Section 879 of the Local Government Act.

The meeting is being held at Pioneer Log Homes' Office. The address is 351 Hodgson Road, up from Mainland Roofing. I personally will be in attendance. I would strongly encourage all of those who read my blog to be in attendance and let the proponents know how you feel on their application.

This application will be before the Advisory Planning Commission of which I'm Vice-Chair on Wednesday, September 12th, 2007 at 12:00 noon. Although members of the public can attend, they are not permitted to speak to this application, although representatives of Pioneer Family Land Partnership may speak before the APC, if they so wish. During this meeting, the APC will be considering this application and a reference to City Council for a recommendation for Second Reading of Pioneer's re-zoning and OCP Amendment applications.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Carole James and the Electoral Boundary Commission

Yesterday, I recieved a newsletter from the NDP where she wants to know where the Premier (Hon. Gordon Campbell) is on the Preliminary Report of the Electoral Boundary Commission. She suggested that because the BC Liberal Party chose not to make a presentation to the Electoral Boundary Commission, while her party made a presentation to the Electoral Boundary Commission during its' 1st Round of Public Hearings that it is another example of the Campbell government abandoning Rural BC. Then she went on to cite all of the things that the Campbell government did during its' 1st Term (2001-2005) including closing of schools and imposing a police tax on small communities to pay for Rural RCMP services.

While I could go on all the things the NDP did to Rural BC during the 90's, I will say that I'm disappointed that the NDP chose to get politically involved in, what is generally a apolitical process. In fact, during the last review of the BC Electoral Distict Map for the Legislature, the NDP Cabinet of the day used its' power to protect ridings' held by Cabinet Ministers like the riding of Kamloops held by then NDP Minister Cathy McGregor. Her riding was scheduled to be divided up. So, when it comes to review mechanisms like the Electoral Boundary Commission, we should allow them to do their work without interference from political bodies, like the BC-NDP Party or the BC Liberal Party and allow individual BC'ers to state directly to the Electoral Boundary Commission on how they feel on the proposed new electoral district map and allow the process to unfold as it will.

My Response to WL CAO's Blog Post called "City Admin 101: An Introduction

Yesterday, Alberto DeFeo (City of WL's CAO) posted the following at his blog (

Many times, I am asked the question 'what do you do at City Hall?'. I have to admit there is no easy answer. I also realize that our school system does not provide sufficient education or training to equip our children with fundamental knowledge about political relations and government administration, which, I think, it is critical to their future lives. I also noticed that people become interested in City Hall only if it affects them negatively. Yet, there is so much that is decided and done by both City politicians and City staff that has a positive impact in the community that we give it for granted and people seem to not know or to have the wrong information. I guess it goes with the territory. It's a bit like the newspapers, the negative sells the positive doesn't. This is a societal distortion that we need to correct and as civic leaders, we at City Hall are trying our best to change it here in Williams Lake. Indeed, for the sake of our community's good future, we need to abandon some negative stereotypes and embrace positive change. I'll give you an example.For instance, did you know that the City has been working very hard in the last three years to advance a plan to conserve our water? Why do we need such a thing? Well, mostly because we can't survive more than a few days (probably three or four) without water, which is a precious commodity second only to air. Also, because we want our children and all future generations to live better and not worse, including having access to the best water in the world. Finally, because water is a gift and we should respect it. Today, the residents and taxpayers are enjoying cheap acces to water (parcel water tax is only $40 a year in WL) but do they know that in order to repair and maintain our water systems and to conserve water for an acceptable length of time in the future we need more than that? If we focus on the immediate economic effect of the plan on our family and personal budgets without thinking of the long-term impact and benefits, then the usual reaction would be 'These Politicians: they always find a way to grab some more of our money.' But if we focus on the results and benefits of the plan, then our reaction may be 'I am willing to make an investment in our water and I will support our City to implement our plan.' I did not use the words City Plan, but 'our plan'. Because it is our plan after all and seeing it that way makes a world of difference. Now, I will certainly discuss the City's Water Conservation Plan another time but the point is, residents are not completely informed and it is mainly our fault (the City's), and so they tend to see what is communicated to them. And, if it is negative, then their level of trust in their City government just won't be very high.So, the City Page, this blog and other pieces of information that the City provides are very important to make the community aware and, I hope, to make people interested in their government and to help them shake off their apathy and negativity towards City government.I guess this can be a bit of an introduction to a much wider topic. So, next time, I will explain a little bit more how the City operates because, from what I hear, there is some sort of mystery on what we do. But, again, it really isn't a mystery, is it? We just need to explain. So enjoy your week-end and I hope you'll take the time to read this blog coming next week.

My response to the above is:

I agree with most of the above except with the fact that I feel that people, particularly adults, must become more empowered to learning about issues in their City. Too often, it is too easy to hear rumours about what City Council / City Staff are doing and often putting "a rumour here" and a "rumour there" together and believing it as the Gospel Truth, which by then City Staff/Council have to spend massive amounts of time putting out the "real truth" out there on any given issue and by which time, people emotions come into play and get worked up without knowing all of the answers. I also agree the time has come perhaps to expand the curriculum that schools teach on government by teaching how the federal/provincial and local government (Municipal/County/Regional District) function and how each level of government impacts an individual's life. By teaching this to the young ones, I believe that we will have a more empowered society that believes that government actually does good work. Also, somehow all levels of government must engage society as to the work that each level does and why.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

New Blog - CAO, City of Williams Lake

This morning in today's (September 6th, 2007) WL Tribune, it was announced that a blog was started by Alberto DeFeo, PhD (Law), Chief Administrative Officer - City of Williams Lake. This blog will communicate with residents' on activities of the City. I strongly encourage those who read this blog to read his blog at, however anonymous comments can not be left. Communication efforts of late by the City seem to mirror those by the City of Quesnel although I suspect that the City of Quesnel, may sooner or later, attempt to start a blog by their City Manager, Charles Hamilton.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

WL Council Meeting - August 28th, 2007

Due to Mayor Nelson and Councillors Mead, O'Neill and French being away. The August 28th Public Hearings and Regular Council Meeting was cancelled. The Public Hearings for applications from Ben Peterson and BC Rail Properties will be held on September 18th, 2007 at 7:00pm with the Regular Meeting of City Council to follow at 7:30pm

Thursday, August 16, 2007

WL Council Highlights - August 14th, 2007

Delegations: None


1) Council members present along with the City's CAO (Alberto De Feo) had their picture taken in front of a sign "Turn It Off". As of today, the City of Williams Lake is 1st place in the entire province during this challenge. The winner will receive a energy savings makeover for one of the City's buildings

2) Council approved $30,000 to be spent sealing cracks for the road going up to the WL Regional Airport. This program will extend the life of the road beyond 2010. The project should be completed by the end of August. This program was recommended by the City's Director of Municipal Services

3) Rezoning Proposals from Elizabeth Hunt and 717747 BC Ltd. received 2nd Reading. Both proposals shall be put to Public Hearings on September 18th, 2007

4) The Airfield Lighting Control System Upgrade/Cable Replacement was awarded to Houle Electric Ltd. in the amount of $117,041.33

5) The Revitalization Tax Exemption Program is designed to encourage rental property owners to improve and enhance their properties and to encourage the construction of mixed commercial residential properties. The wording in the bylaw did not include the original intent of Council and amendments were made. The changes included the addition of multifamily residential rental properties and mixed commercial‐residential uses. Staff also identified that for minor projects, a quote from a professional contractor would suffice as part of the application process. Council will also have the discretion of evaluate all applications on an individual basis and deny any applications.

6) A Reminder - all Grants-In-Aid must be in to City Hall no later then September 28th, 2007 so Staff have time to consider them and make recommendations to Council + Central Cariboo Joint Committee

Release of Interim Report of the BC Electoral Boundary Commission

Hello all:

The Interim Report of the British Columbia Electoral Boundary Commission has now been publicly released. As expected, several ridings are proposed to be eliminated in the North and the Kootenays, while several ridings are proposed to be added in the highest growth areas in BC which are the Okanagan and the Lower Mainland. The number of MLA's will go up from 79 to 81.

For those of us in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, Cariboo-North and South have been eliminated. All of Cariboo-North + portion of Cariboo-South in Williams Lake will be redistributed to form a new electoral riding called Cariboo-Chilcotin. The riding will cover all of the Chilcotin in the west, up north to Hixon, east towards Wells, Bowron Lakes, Horsefly and as far south as Williams Lake (the entire City!!!!). Points south from 150 Mile House, down through 100 Mile House, Clinton, Cache Creek and into the Fraser Canyon and points in between will be called Cariboo-Fraser.

I certainly like what is being proposed so far by the Electoral Boundary Commission

Next Steps:

1) The Electoral Boundary Commission must now put their Interim Report to a 2nd Round of Public Hearings with a deadline of February 15th, 2008 to submit their Final Report to the Speaker (Hon. Bill Barisoff).

2) After Feb 15th of next year, the House shall consider the necessary legislation to implement the Final Report in the Spring Sitting of the 2008 Legislative Session in order to have the new electoral boundaries in place for the May 2009 Provincial General Election

I would suggest those of you who do not like the new electoral districts, please get out and tell the Electoral Boundary Commission. It is your comments that the EBC takes into consideration while drafting their Final Report

Thursday, August 9, 2007

1st Report of the Electoral Boundary Commission

This is a friendly reminder that next Wednesday (August 15th, 2007), the 1st Report of the Electoral Boundary Commission will be released publicly, after it has been delivered to the Speaker of the House (Hon. Bill Barisoff). It will be released publicly at or around 2:00pm PST

Highlights from WL Council - July 24th, 2007 Meeting

Delegations - None


1) Tyler Boucher's application for 12 new single family homes, 30-40 new townhouses just up from the Laughing Loon, in the Hamel Subdivision, received no delegations, either for or against, during the Public Hearing stage and then the Zoning Amendment Bylaw received its' 3rd Reading. Councillor Rathor raised a concern about an increase of traffic along South Broadway Avenue by the new Tourism Discovery Centre and the Laughing Loon area. Director of Development Services, Geoff Goodall, stated that the recently upgraded South Broadway Avenue should be able to handle any potential increase in traffic in the area.

2) City Hall will participate in the 2007 ArtWalk at a cost of $300. Art will be displayed in the Main Lobby Area at City Hall.

3) Councillor Jon Wolbers won the 1st Annual Council Planter Contest. He made his victory speech at this meeting and threw down the gauntlet to his Councillors' and the Mayor for next year's competition.

4) Council granted permission to Signal Point Gaming to establish a Horse Racing Teletheatre at the facility.

5) The application by Lui/Fei failed to received 3rd Reading support by Council. Several concerns during the Public Hearing included; lack of maintenance and steep grades on the property in question. Council concluded that granting 3rd Reading to the Zoning Amendment Bylaw would not be in order at this time and accordingly, the application was defeated at 3rd Reading Stage unanimously

Friday, July 13, 2007

Balanced Budgets - BC Liberals vs the BC NDP

Hello all - :)

As everyone knows, the Public Accounts of the Province for the fiscal year ending March 31st, 2007 were just released by the Hon. Carole Taylor - BC Minister of Finance and show a $4.1 Billion surplus. No surprise though of the response by the NDP - they condemned the BC Liberals for not responding to issues like housing, child care, child poverty while sitting on a $4.1 Billion Surplus. I say - what a bunch of horse garbage coming from the NDP.

The NDP is the same party who said in '96 that their budget prior to the '96 Election was balanced and ran partly on this during the '96 Election and after the election, it was "discovered" that the budget was not balanced, but actually had a deficit. Hence part of the reason why in 2001, the BC Liberals were elected. Yes, child poverty and other social issues are important to the people of this province. But you shouldn't spend every dollar that you make. You should, and the Finance Minister has rightly done, have a "rainy" day account for "what-ifs". The Finance Minister has not only balanced this year's Budget and made investments in social issues, like Child Care, Child Poverty, Social Housing, etc. We, as a province, have even started to pay down the provincial debt in the last couple of budgets released/passed by the BC Liberals. All of these investments along with paying down the provincial debt will improve the quality of life for all British Columbians.

I also look forward in 2009 to both a three time re-elected BC Liberal majority government along with a BC Liberal MLA in Cariboo-North/South

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

WL Council Meeting Highlights - June 26th, 2007


1) Billy Barker - Mr. Barker came down from Quesnel to invite members of WL Council to attend the Billy Barker Days in Quesnel in mid-July. Several members of Council including Mayor Nelson indicated their intention to participate in Billy Barker Days in mid-July in Quesnel


1) Council has agreed to form a Sustainability Committee jointly with the Cariboo Regional District. Terms of Reference will be formulated after consultation with local First Nations and the Fraser Basin Council

2) A Forum with local First Nations will be held in Fall of 2007. Partial funding to come from UBCM. Past forums have proven successful to focus on joint ventures or items of mutual concern

3) Council will be submitted a resolution on Detox Centres in BC to the UBCM Convention being held in Vancouver later this year. The Central Cariboo Joint Committee agreed at their last meeting that there is a direct link between substance abuse and criminal activity in the City.

4) Council will look at forming a Twin City Agreement with Fusong, China. The Mayor, or his delegate and a local City Staff person will fly to Fusong, China later this year to ink the agreement. The City will pay for the flights there and back and a 1 night stay in Beijing and all other costs to be provided for by the City of Fusong.

5) Council agreed to submit the Statement of Financial Information or SOFI to the Ministry of Community Services. SOFI details such items as the Audited Financial Statement of the City for the period ending December 31st, 2006. It also details how much each Councillor and the Mayor were paid along with the pay of senior Staff at City Hall.

6) Council received an application for more housing just east of the Hamel subdivision. This application received 1st reading and was referred to the Planning Commission for comment/recommendation. Also, rezoning bylaws for applications by Liu/Fei and Tyler Boucher were given 2nd reading and Public Hearings for both will be held on July 24th, 2007 in Council Chambers at 7:00pm

7) Council agreed to fund a $2,500 fund program to help receive tips from the public for vandalism to the City's sprinkler heads

8) Council adopted the Tax Revitalization Bylaw which will allow for municipal tax deferrals for anyone doing a renovation project inside the zone. Acting Mayor (Councillor) Ed Mead commented that 2 applications were waiting in the wings pending adoption of this bylaw

9) Council gave approval to the 2007 Annual Report. No comments were received by members of the public

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Level of Debate during Meetings

I would like to discuss a subject that is relevant for all politicians, myself included, which is debate during meetings of either:

1) Council/Regional District Board Meeting(s)
2) Joint Committee or Regular Committee/Commission Meeting(s)
3) Legislative Assembly or a Committee of the Legislative Assembly Meeting(s)
4) House of Commons/Senate or a Committee thereof Meeting(s)

During the June 12, 2007 meeting of the North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee Meeting, the matter of the "Gary Young" report which discusses in detail on how the CRD / City of Quesnel can address the issues of governance, financing of the North Cariboo Sub-Regional Recreation Budget was discussed

During the debate on this report, Director Mary Glassford (CRD Director for Electoral Area "I")
suggested that the City of Quesnel Council was "blackmailing/extorting" the CRD because of the on-going North Cariboo Sub-Regional Recreation Service Review

Now, while I understand we all say things, in the heat of the moment from time to time, we should never suggest that one governing body is blackmailing/extorting another body because of on-going actions of the one governing body. That truly lowers the decorum of the debate on how to solve issues, like the Recreation Function in the North Cariboo

Now, it appears she is still going at it as Director Glassford was still making a suggestion, on the radio, that Council in Quesnel was blackmailing the Cariboo Regional District over the North Cariboo Sub-Regional Recreation Service Review. We should remember, unlike MLA's in our Legislative Assembly and MP's in the House of Commons who have freedom of speech in the Legislative Assembly/House of Commons, as the case may be, Mayor/Councillors and Regional District Directors' do not have freedom of speech at their Council / Board meetings and one can be sued for libel for defamation of character. So, all local politicians need to be careful about the language they use when describing the problem at hand and how to solve it.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Fall Sittings and the NDP

I want to talk about a subject that the NDP continuously harps about and that is fall sittings being cancelled by the big, bad BC Liberal Government

Between 1991-2001, under the BC NDP, fall sittings never occurred, that I can remember anyways, sittings occurred on a moments' notice and Special Warrants for the provincial budget was common place. Tell you think it is appropriate to have a 20 member cabinet approve expenditures of $30 billion dollars without Legislature approval? I think not

Once again, Carole James during the Premier's Estimates debates asked the Premier if a fall sitting would occur.

The Premier's response: Those are discussions that occur between House Leaders', as it should be

For the NDP to be the saviours' on democracy and whether or not the House sits and when is truly breathtaking and really rich on their part

Look...The NDP are not the government...the BC Liberal Party is. They have the most seats in the House. I don't believe that recalling the House for the sake of debate isn't good use of taxpayers' money. The House should/must sit if there are bills to be debated/approved or even taxpayer expenditures to be approved or even native treaties to be approved. But if there isn't any government work to be completed, then why bother have a fall sitting if the government has no business to propose to the House

It just goes to show you that Carole James is all talk - no action. For her to say that she wants to change the political system in Victoria and then whine/cry about no fall session shows the NDP hasn't learned anything since leaving office in 2001

Highlights of WL City Council Meeting - May 29th, 2007


1) Donna Sellers from the Northern Shuswap Treaty Society gave Council a brief update on the Treaty Society's activities.

2) Andre Chevigny from Pioneer Family Partnership gave Council an introduction to their application for a Re-Zoning for property they own on South Lakeside Drive. The 1st phase will include the building of a Wal-Mart along with 2-3 other "big box" stores with the names to be revealed over the next 6 months. Council gave 1st reading to Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2021 and when the appropriate studies are completed (Geotech, Infrastructure, Traffic), then the entire application will be referred to the Advisory Planning Commission for its' comments/recommendations. This should occur sometime in late July/early August

Other Business:

1) Council gave 3 readings to the Revitalization Tax Exemption Program Bylaw No. 2013 which will allow for tax deferrals for any developer who completes a building project inside of the Tax Exemption Zone, which is primarily inside of the downtown zone

2) Council gave approval for a cowboy statue to be placed at the corner of 3rd Avenue and Oliver Street, by the old Petro-Canada gas station. The project will be completed and 100% funded by the local Communities in Bloom Committee

3) Councillors Rathor, Barr and Wolbers in his capacity as CRD Chair will be attending the FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) in Calgary to be held at the end of this week. I look forward for these Councillors to bring back best practices that could possibly be used in the City of Williams Lake

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Are Carole James days numbered as BC NDP Leader?


Here's an article by Michael Smyth, Vancouver Province's Political Reporter in the May 24th, 2007 edition of the Vancouver Province:

The New Democrats keep falling in the opinion polls, no matter how hard they try. But there's one issue NDP Leader Carole James could have used to nail Premier Gordon Campbell to the wall and close the gap.

Consider this scenario:
After a public backlash kills a proposed 15-per-cent pay raise for MLAs, Campbell appoints an independent panel to come up with a new package. Shockingly, the panel recommends a minimum 29-per-cent MLA raise (54-per-cent for Campbell) and a gold-plated pension plan than could turn MLAs into millionaires after just a few terms in office

An indignant James announces the insane package is too rich and the New Democrats will refuse to accept it. Campbell says the Libs will take it, anyway.
James' position looks even more solid when one of the panelists says she thought the package was over the top, too, and complains the other two changed the final recommendations while she was out of the country!

All of the above stuff really did happen. Now here's the alternative time line:
With the panelists publicly squabbling, James calls a news conference.
"This is exactly what I was talking about," she rails. "The process was fatally flawed from the start. It's time for the premier to reject this obscene cash grab."
But Campbell and the Liberals vote to take the money. The NDP stick to their guns and vote no.
"It's a dark day for B.C. taxpayers," James says.
One week later, all 33 NDP MLAs -- trailed by a pack of TV cameras -- march to the Speaker's office and officially hand in their written notices opting out of the pay-and-pension package.
"I challenge the Liberals to do the same," says James, who promises to cancel the $100-million pay-and-pension booty haul if the NDP wins the next election.
That election may be two years away, but the New Democrats launch a pre-emptive advertising campaign against the Liberals' "highway robbery" of taxpayers.
"Give the money back!" scream the full-page newspaper ads that appear around the province.
By the time the 2009 election rolls around, public opinion on the issue has swung badly against Campbell -- and James delivers the coup de grace during the televised leaders' debate.
After Campbell's stale cheap shot about money wasted on the NDP's fast ferries more than a decade ago, James fires back: "At least I didn't pick the pockets of taxpayers with that pay-and-pension cash grab. Give the money back, Mr. Campbell."

What a moment. What an election it would have been.
Instead, James and the New Democrats flip-flopped and took the gold-plated pension, robbing themselves of a golden political opportunity.
How sad for her: She really could have been somebody.
She coulda been a contender.

I definitely agree with Mr. Smyth's conclusion... :)

If the NDP had Mr. Smyth as one of their advisors...I would agree that the BC Liberals' could have been in political trouble on this issue but because he isn't, I believe the BC Liberals' could easily become the 1st political party in this province's history to receive 3 consecutive majority governments

Future NDP Leaders'

Based on the comments I received on my last blog about the NDP response to the MLA's new pay and pension package, I want to talk about individuals whom might replace Carole James, should the NDP decide to either replace prior to or after the 2009 Provincial General Election

In no particular order:

1) Bob Simpson - Presently the NDP MLA for Cariboo-North and also the NDP's Critic for the Ministry of Forests and Range and Minister Responsible for Housing

2) Mike Farnworth - Presently the NDP MLA for Port Coquitlam - Burke Mountain, also the Opposition House Leader and the NDP Critic for the Solicitor-General

3) Derek Corrigan - Presently the Mayor of Burnaby. At present, he's against the Gateway Project although he supported it when the NDP were in power during the '90's. I understand, through other blogs, that he coveys Ms. James job badly

And those are the ones I know of for sure, there are probably a handful of other NDP MLA's inside Ms. James's caucus that would like to see Ms. James replaced prior to the '09 Provincial Election to help improve the NDP Poll Numbers. As they say, we'll see what happens.

But I predict if Ms. James isn't replaced prior to the 2009 Provincial Election, the Liberals will keep all of their present 46 seats and are likely to gain as many as 5-7 extra seats. Of course, all of this will depend on what the Electoral Boundary Commission recommends to the Speaker on how many extra seats be added to the present 79 seats in the Legislative Assembly

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The BC-NDP on the new MLA Pay Package

This editorial was run in several Black Press newspapers:

You get what you pay for and that's why members of the legislature (MLA’s) deserve their proposed raises.

An independent panel has researched the issue and decided our MLAs deserve raises totalling 29 per cent. That same panel also figures premier Gordon Campbell should get a pay boost of about 53 per cent.

Politicians, especially those in opposition, are quick to pounce on an easy score if it means they score political points with the electorate.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that Carole James, the NDP opposition leader, is on record as saying the raises are “too rich,” and her people will refuse to accept higher wages.

James is merely playing politics, which is, after all, her real job. James pulled a fast one on the Liberals a couple of years ago when first she supported the proposed raises, then turned around and made everyone else look like greedy money grubbers by flatly opposing the proposed increases.

The Opposition will certainly take the money; the NDP just has to find a way to rationalize their acceptance of it.

Numbers are pretty slippery when dealing with percentages, so let’s get real. Just what does an MLA make in B.C. these days? The answer is $76,100. That’s your basic backbencher whose most important job is to put his hand up when called upon in the legislature.

If you are a cabinet member, your salary goes up to $115,100. If you happen to be the premier, you can expect to make $121,100 per year.

Do you really want a guy making say 80 grand a year leading the province?

OK, let’s say Premier Campbell gets his raise and goes up to $186,000 a year. Is that not a reasonable wage to pay a guy to run the entire province?

Would it not be ridiculous to pay the premier roughly the same as what the average school superintendent gets right now? Well, that’s what’s happening.

It would not be out of line, in our view, to go even further and pay the premier $200,000 a year. That’s fair, especially when the guy who runs the entire country, the Prime Minister, gets only $300,000 a year.

And while we’re at it, let’s give our MLAs a solid pension plan. Hey, if you want great candidates to run for office, you better have some carrots to dangle in front of them. If you want to offer minimum wage, then expect Homer and Gomer to line up for those jobs.

With respect to the above, I agree with it completely however 2 things stand out with respect to the NDP's position on the new MLA pay package:

1) They (NDP Opposition) completely flip-flopped on this issue despite assurances by Carole James to the contrary. Harry Lali (NDP MLA for Yale-Lillioet) is already on public record supporting both the new MLA wage and benefit package. For her to turn it down and then meet with her caucus and then say we'll vote against the package but if it passes, we'll donate the extra pay above the $78,000 that MLA's make to charity and also accept the new pension plan is absolutely at the height of hypocrisy. I predict that if the NDP poll numbers hold and the BC Liberals win the '09 Provincial Election - Carole James is finished as NDP Leader

2) The NDP are already asking for suggestions from constituents about where to donate the difference between the MLA's present pay and the new MLA pay to charity. Question: Don't the NDP know already where they (NDP MLA's) want to donate the money. Carole James has already indicated that she'll donate the money to the Mary Manning Centre in Victoria and what's worse, NDP MLA's can even get a tax deduction for this donation to charity.

The NDP stance on the new MLA's pay package was despicable to say the least. If you publicly oppose the new pay package, then vote against it and opt-out of it if you don't like it. Mike DeJong (Government House Leader/Minister of Aboriginal Relations) said it best about Carole James's stance on the new MLA's pay package:

"Talk about leading your members into the Valley of Death"

At this point, it appears the NDP aren't ready to govern the province again and I personally hope that they never run this province again but more importantly it appears at this point that they are destined to sit in Opposition benches after the 2009 Election

Friday, May 18, 2007

Government of BC's Credit Rating Upgraded

British Columbia’s credit rating was upgraded today by Standard & Poor’s to AAA, putting the province on par with Alberta and the government of Canada which both are rated AAA.

The agency cited strong budgetary performances, strong management culture and improved transparency for planning and reporting in its decision to bump up its rating for B.C. It also noted that B.C.’s net tax-supported debt as a share of gross domestic product will continue to gradually decline, according to a press release from B.C.’s finance minister."Achieving the best possible rating from S&P is excellent news," B.C. Finance Minister Carol Taylor said in the release. "It confirms that our fiscal and economic policies are working and tells potential investors that British Columbia is a great place to invest."

The S&P upgrade brings to seven the number of credit rating upgrades the province has received since November, 2004. Earlier this month, Dominion Bond Rating Service upgraded the province to AA (high). Last October, Moody’s Investor Services upgrades B.C.’s credit rating to Aaa.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

WL City Council Meeting Highlights - May 15th, 2007

1) Delegations

a) Bill Derbyshire / Gurbax Saini from the Crematorium Society presented a cheque of $5,900 to Council as it was money left over from the fundraising for the Crematorium that has occurred over the last number of years. On motion of Councillor Rathor, Council supported his motion to deposit the money into a reserve account to be used only in case the running of the crematorium runs into a deficit position

b) Winnifred Gooding - President of the local O.A.P.O (Branch #93) re: Home Support Campaign

Council endorsed a resolution by the local O.A.P.O Branch asking that further cutbacks to Home Support cease and that Home Support be restored to 1994 levels. Councillors Rathor/French asked Ms. Gooding to send the Resolution directly from the local O.A.P.O Branch in order to send a message to the Provincial Government that everyone is concerned about Home Care Support Levels

c) Sheila Mortensen - Local Commander from the Cariboo Power & Sail Squadron

Ms. Mortensen requested a Proclamation declaring the week of May 19th - May 26th in the City of Williams Lake as Safe Boating Awareness Week

Council agreed with Ms. Mortensen's request

2) Council / Staff Reports'

i) 2006 Audited Financial Statements

Council approved the Statements. Councillor Barr commented that the City's Financial Position is one of strength. The City's Equity increased by $5,000,000 while debt increased by $500,000

ii) Re-Zoning Application for Hamel Road - Applicant: Tyler Boucher

Council gave 1st Reading Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2019 to allow for re-zoning from Acreage Reserve (A-1 Zone) to Single Family Residential (R-1 Zone) + Low Density Multi-Family Residential (R-3 Zone). This application has now been referred to the City's Advisory Planning Commission for their comments/recommendations. The site in question is up the street from the Laughing Loon

iii) Annual WL Stampede Proclamation

Council unanimously gave approval for this proclamation and also give permission to City Staff to enter the City's Float in the annual Stampede Parade to be held at the end of June. I personally would encourage everyone to please take in all the events happening during the WL Stampede occuring between June 25 - July 2, 2007

Mayor S.D. Nelson also announced at the end of the meeting that an annoucement on a future retail store was immaninent in the next 2 weeks. It was also revealed the developer in question will be in Williams Lake in the next 1-2 week to work on the application in order to make this announcement at the May 29th, 2007 Council Meeting

NCMA Conference - Day 2 on Friday, May 4th, 2007

NCMA Conference - Day 2 of 3:

7:00 - 8:00am - Breakfast by local Rotary group - consisted of eggs, pancakes, bacon, etc

8:00 - 9:10am - Official Opening of NCMA Conference

Opening Statements by Mayor Scott Nelson (City of Williams Lake) / Jon Wolbers (CRD Chair)

Also Bob Simpson (NDP MLA - Cariboo-North) made opening remarks as well as discussing the role of local governments in relation to serving the public. He also noted that politicians don't get nearly the respect and appreciation from the public that they deserve

During the day, discussion pursued in the Gibraltar Room over 2007 NCMA Resolutions by NCMA Delegates.

At 9:55am, Dr. Don Cozzetto (President - University of Northern BC) gave a speech to NCMA Delegates about some of the work that UNBC was doing to promote post-secondary education in Northern BC Communities including TeleEducation in smaller, remote communities and work on the Northern Medical Trust which allows medical professionals to upgrade their medical training in the North without leaving the region again. The Trust has some $6,000,000 in its' account, which was its' goal for next year. Councillor Ron Paull (City of Quesnel) informed NCMA Delegates that their next goal for the Northern Medical Trust is to push the amount of money inside the Trust to beyond $6,000,000

I unfortunately didn't get a chance to attend Day 3 which occurred on Saturday, May 4th, 2007. However, I can say that I did thoroughly enjoy my time at NCMA and if given the opportunity, I would gladly attend another NCMA Conference once again.

Next year are local government elections and perhaps if I am elected in November of 2008, 1 of the conferences as a elected Councillor that I want to attend is the 2009 NCMA Conference, wherever it is located

Thursday, May 3, 2007

NCMA Conference - 1st Full Day

Hello all...

Here's what happened during the 1st full day of the NCMA Conference in Williams Lake:

7-8:30am - Breakfast for all delegates, which including pancakes, bacon, etc

8:30am - 9:30am - I attended a session on the Ommenica Beetle Action Coalition and what they are doing to diversify their local economy after the impact of the Mountain Pine Beetle has come and gone. The Ommenica Beetle Action Coalition covers an area both North and North west/east of Prince George. I also attended a session discussing the opportunities resulting out of the 2010 Olympics including work on-going with the Spirit of BC Committees' throughout the Province

9:45 -10:30am - The Premier gave a speech to the NCMA delegates present. The theme of his speech was Change. He talked about the need to have compact communities, the need to take advantage of programs such as LocalMotion, Spirit Square and Towns for Tomorrow to improve the quality of life for residents' who reside in small towns in the NCMA region. He also thanked those in attendance for serving their residents' with valour to ensure a high quality of life for the constituents' that they serve. All-in-all, a 5-Star speech, I think. The Premier received a standing ovation at the end of his speech

1:30 - 2:00pm - I attended an another workshop called "Climate Change & Energy - Planning Opportunities for Local Governments" which was presented by Michael Wilson. He talked about initiatives that local governments could do to lessen their impact on the environment, which is on the minds of everyone these days. Mr. Wilson suggested things like have LEED standards in OCP's (Official Community Plan) including increasing density in neighborhoods - term for having more people into a smaller area. Also, developing a local energy plan to stop the leakage of "energy dollars" from leaving their communities. For example, Quesnel lost $15,000,000 (15 Million Dollars) due to the lack of local energy options for Quesnel residents. He also talked about Revelstoke's heat distribution system which helps save money for the local forest industry in running the local Kilns (where they dry the "rough" lumber). Williams Lake is looking into this right now. The study is been referred to City Staff for development/analysis and then it will come back to WL Council for further consideration. Ken Day from the UBC Research Forest Office made a proposal to WL Council a number of weeks ago using steam escaping from the Co-Gen Plant (EPCOR Plant) to "fund" geo-thermal projects to provide heat to buildings/kilns, etc

2:00pm - 2:20pm - The Hon. Ida Chong, Minister of Community Services also spoke to NCMA Delegates talked a little bit more on what the Premier discussed earlier in the day. She also told delegates that more money was on the way for Regional Districts in terms of their unconditional grants that they receive each year. Also, she revealed that municipalities would receive significantly more money from Victoria, in terms of the traffic fine revenue. As you may remember, the Premier told UBCM Delegates that Victoria will return 100% of traffic fine revenue to municipalities to be used for crime reduction strategies provided that each municipality provided a report detailing how the money was used. For example, the money can't be used for general projects (i.e.: sidewalks, roads, etc). At the end of her speech, as was the case for the Premier, she received a standing ovation from NCMA Delegates present.

3:15pm - 3:30pm - The Leader of Her Majesty Loyal Official Opposition and the Leader of the BC New Democrats, Carole James gave a speech to about 60 NCMA Delegates present. I must say that I was disappointed on the content of her speech, which was partisan in nature. She essentially "slammed" the BC Liberals of cost overruns at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre Expansion Projects, no plan for the Mountain Pine Beetle, purported "dirty tricks" occurring inside the Premier's Office, and that Victoria doesn't care about the concerns about local municipal leaders. I must say I was most disappointed about the content of the speech. As I said, it was partisan in nature and the Premier/Minister of Community Services' Speeches weren't partisan in nature and dealt only with local government concerns/programs, which as it should be as this is a local government conference. There is a time/place to be partisan and this conference wasn't it as there are mayors/councillors'/RD (Regional District) Directors'/Chairs who support the NDP and those who suppport the BC Liberals. Which is probably why she didn't receive a standing ovation at the end of Ms. James's speech.

Later on in the day, I had an opportunity to have a private dinner with the Hon. Ida Chong (Minister of Community Services) with a few others and we all talked about how to ensure we have a BC Liberal MLA in Cariboo South in 2009 and other political happenings' of the day

I will report more tomorrow as it is Day 2 of the NCMA Conference

NCMA Convention - 1st Night

Hello all:

Wednesday evening at 7:30pm was the Welcoming Reception for all delegates attending the NCMA Convention here in Williams Lake. I had the opportunity to see some old friends including Councillor Mary Sjostrom from Quesnel, many of the Council members here in Williams Lake including Mayor Nelson, Councillor Jon Wolbers (including his "other" role as CRD Chair), Councillor Paul French, Councillor SPS Rathor, CRD Communications Manager Shelly Burich, the Mayor of Mackenzie and the owner of the Laughing Loon.

Tomorrow (Thursday), the Premier - Hon. Gordon Campbell, the Minister of Community Services - Hon. Ida Chong and the Leader of the Official Opposition/BC NDP Leader Carole James will all be speaking to NCMA delegates. It will interesting to see what each have to say to those in attendance. There are also numerous workshops for delegates to attend. I plan to take in 1 or 2 workshops myself in addition to listening to Premier Campbell, Minister Chong and Ms. James

I'll let you know tomorrow evening what each had to say to delegates present.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

MLA's Pay

This afternoon, the Commission looking at MLA's Pay reported to the Speaker.

They recommended the following:

1) MLA's Base Pay

That it be increased from $78,000 per year to $98,000 per year which would be retroactive to April 1st, 2007

2) Pension Plan

The Commission recommended a Pension Plan for MLA's be restored

3) Premier's Pay

The Commission recommended that the Premier's Pay be increased to $186,000 per year from $121,000 per year

4) Other Pay

The Commission also recommended that the Leader of the Opposition's Pay be increased to $147,000 per year. As well, they recommended that other parliamentary position's pay be increased (i.e: Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Party Whip, etc)

I think given the work that our MLA's do in Victoria, advocating on our behalf, the pay increase recommended by the commission is fair

You can read the Commission's Full Report here:

What do you think??

Sunday, April 29, 2007

NCMA Conference - May 2nd to 5th, 2007

Hello all:

I have received a complimentary VIP pass to the NCMA Conference in Williams Lake between May 2nd to May 5th, 2007. I will report on the proceedings of what happened on each day and my experiences during this very important conference for local gov't officials. The Premier will give a speech to NCMA delegates, which includes Mayors, Councillors, Regional District Directors' / Chairs'. Also, the Minister of Community Services (Hon. Ida Chong), and the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Official Opposition, Ms. Carole James (BC NDP Leader) will give a speech to NCMA Delegates. NDP MLA for Cariboo-North, Mr. Bob Simpson, will speak to delegates at the official opening of the NCMA AGM on Thursday, May 3rd.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Poplar Glade Elementary Destroyed by Fire


As you may have heard, Poplar Glade Elementary was totally destroyed by fire. The cause for the fire is suspected to be electrical in nature. There will be no classes, obviously, at Poplar Glade Elementary tomorrow, however School District #27 Staff will be meeting tonight and Friday to devise a plan to disperse the kids from this school to other elementary schools in the City of Williams Lake. I hope that this plan, in whatever form it comes in, is the least disruptive to the kids so they can finish out this school year.

I'm told that parents should stay tuned to your local radio for further updates on this matter.

Here's a link showing some of the Poplar Glade Elementary Fire:

Campus 2020


Here is the link to the Campus 2020 Website.

As you will recall, Geoff Plant (Former BC Attorney-General) went around the province seeking input as to how we, as a society, can increase participation rates at post-secondary institutions

Thursday, April 12, 2007

NDP and the Mininum Wage

Today, the NDP followed up on a call by the BC Fed of Labour to raise the minimum wage to $10.00 per hour but the NDP went a step further and called on the Provincial Government to lower the Small Business Tax Rate from 4.5% to 3.5% plus link the minimum wage to incremental increases so businesses can plan for future incremental increases in the minimum wage. They have also put a poster on their website that can be printed to allow people to support the NDP minimum wage call

While I don't object to the lowering of the Small Business Rate from 4.5% to 3.5% and I believe that it would be good for small businesses generally, I still object to the raising of the minimum wage as it will be definitely would be a "job killer" and for the NDP to suggest that there is no link between a higher minimum wage and higher unemployment numbers is a bit of a falsehood. One only has to look back to the '90's when the NDP were in power and look to other jurisdictions who raised the minimum wage in one shot and look at their unemployment numbers.

Raising the minimum wage won't help those living in the GVRD as rising living costs are an indication of market forces at work in the real estate field and there is not much the provincial government can do to lower those costs, save issuing the home owners' grant that they give out each year.

BC Finance Minister Carole Taylor this afternoon suggested that raising the minimum wage would be a "disincentive" to invest in BC. I tend to agree with her

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

WL Council Meeting Highlights - April 3rd, 2007

At Tonight's WL Council Meeting:

1) Dr. Charles Jago - Fraser Basin Council

Dr. Jago gave an overview of the work of the Fraser Basin Council and congratulated WL Council on their environmental initiatives.

2) BC Hydro Spring Update 2007

Bob Gammer from BC Hydro gave an overview of their plans for 2007 including buying more energy from IPP's, looking at the "Site C" in the Peace Country and more conservation measures

3) 2007 Budget

Council gave three (3) readings to the Budget Bylaw (Bylaw #2016, 2007) tonight which includes a 3.98% tax increase. An open house on the budget will be held on April 11, 2007 (Wednesday) in Council Chambers

4) Muncipal Security Issuing Resolutions - Fire Hall + River Valley Storm Sewer Outfall Projects

Council agreed to send the Resolutions to the CRD for the borrowing of $8,000,000 from the MFA's (Muncipal Finance Authority) Fall Issue of Debentures over a 20 year period

5) Airfield Lighting Control Panel & Power Cable at WL Airport

Council agreed to enter into an contribution agreement with the Federal Government for this project. The Federal Government is providing $204,731 for this endeavour

Meeting of the BC Liberal - Cariboo South Women's Association


I'm told that there will be a lunch meeting of the BC Liberal - Cariboo South Women's Association on April 24th, 2007 at Crazy Joe's (Restaurant by the Intersection of 3rd Avenue and Oliver Street)

If you have any questions, please contact Dorothy Hartshorne, Co-Chair by email at

Thursday, March 29, 2007

NDP + BC Rail Investment Partnership Deal with CN Rail

Yesterday, Leonard Krog, MLA for Nanaimo and the NDP Critic for the Attorney-General tabled the following 70 Written Questions to the Attorney-General on the Order Paper of the Legislative Assembly:

Mr. Krog to ask the Hon. Attorney General the following questions pertaining to the BC Rail deal:--
1. Will the government hold a public inquiry into the sell-off of BC Rail as soon as the criminal proceedings conclude so that B.C. taxpayers can finally get the answers they deserve?
2. When did the government first learn that the BC Rail deal was the target of an in-depth RCMP investigation?
3. When will the government release all documents -- including documents which may not be directly linked to the charges -- that relate to government policies or decisions regarding BC Rail?
4. Has the investigation into the sale of BC Rail uncovered evidence that other government policies or decisions may have been illegally or inappropriately affected? If yes, will the government release all such documents -- including documents which may not be directly related to the charges?
5. Did the BC Rail Steering Committee discuss the potential for the BC Rail deal to collapse if only one bidder remained in the bidding process?
6. Will the government release all minutes for meetings of the BC Rail Steering Committee?
7. Will the government release all documents produced for the BC Rail Steering Committee?
8. Did members of the Steering Committee or other members of the government caucus meet with or communicate with any of the proponents or their representatives during the process to sell BC Rail?
9. Did the Premier or any of his staff meet with or communicate with any of the proponents or their representatives during the process to sell BC Rail?
10. Can the government explain why then-Solicitor General Rich Coleman briefed the Premier before the search warrants were executed?
11. Can the government explain why then-Solicitor General Rich Coleman briefed the Premier's Chief of Staff Martyn Brown immediately after the warrants were executed and before alerting the public?
12. Why was Martyn Brown given the go-ahead to fire Dave Basi immediately, prior to any charges being laid?
13. How can the government defend the propriety of the Solicitor General's actions against the charge that in briefing the Premier and his top political staffer, this government put its political interests ahead of the public interest?
14. Why was provincial government staff allowed to organize for the federal Liberals in the Legislature using taxpayer resources?
15. What steps did the Premier take to ensure that the BC Liberal Party did not benefit from illegal activities by staff?
16. Will the government release the tapes and/or transcripts of phone conversations between the Premier and government ministers that were gathered during the criminal investigation into the sale of BC Rail?
17. Given the government's own forecasts for significant coal mining activity, why were projections based on coal export growth deliberately left out of revenue calculations for the BC Rail line?
18. Did the government consider cancelling the sale of the BC Rail freight division?
19. Will the government release any and all correspondence with the RCMP and BC Rail about rescinding the sale of the BC Rail freight division?
20. If the government considered cancelling the sale of the BC Rail freight division, was compensation considered for any proponents?
21. What discussions took place concerning the issue of whether CN Rail had paid too much or too little for the BC Rail freight division?
22. What was the estimated value of former BC Rail assets in 2003, before they were sold? What is the estimated value of those former BC Rails assets now?
23. Did CP Rail express concerns about the clear breach of fairness in the process to sell BC Rail prior to their letter of Nov. 21, 2003?
24. Did the government -- including any and all government ministers, the BC Rail steering committee, the government caucus and/or its advisors or technical specialists -- ever discuss the consequences of OmniTRAX dropping out of the bidding process prior to or following the withdrawal of CP Rail?
25. Did the government consider the potential consequences of a small number of proponents or a single proponent during the sale of BC Rail for its goal of "maximizing value to the province"?
26. Did the government consider the potential negative political ramifications of a small number of proponents or a single proponent during the sale of BC Rail?
27. What was discussed at the Dec. 12, 2003, meeting held at Vancouver restaurant Villa del Lupo between the Minister of Finance and senior executives from OmniTRAX, the second-place finisher in the bidding process for the government-owned BC Rail?
28. Will the government ensure that tapes and transcripts resulting from the surveillance of the Minister of Finance's meeting with OmniTRAX officials are made public?
29. Did the Minister of Finance meet with other proponents during the transaction process?
30. Was it the Minister of Finance who ordered confidential government information to be leaked to a lobby firm representing OmniTRAX?
31. If it was not the Minister of Finance who ordered confidential government information to be leaked to a lobby firm representing OmniTRAX, was the Premier's Office or any other government official responsible for this order?
32. Will the government release the "meeting minutes, presentations and other documents" referred to in the Charles River Associates report on the BC Rail bidding process?
33. Did Charles River Associates review meetings, conversations or communications outside the official process -- particularly those including ministers and ministerial aides -- in their analysis of the fairness of the BC Rail transaction process?
34. Will the government release all documents including emails, reports, interview transcripts relating to the two information leaks referenced in the Charles River Associates report?
35. Can the government provide concrete evidence for their claim that the information leaks referenced in the Charles River Associates report did not materially affect the sale of BC Rail?
36. Will the government provide the full list of files and issues in the purview of or involving David Basi, Aneal Basi and Bob Virk between June 2001 and December 2003?
37. Did the government order an internal investigation into every file that Mr. Basi touched while he worked as a top political aide to the Minister of Finance -- and if not, why not?
38. Did the government order an internal investigation into every file that Mr. Virk touched while he worked as a top political aide to the Minister of Transportation -- and if not, why not?
39. Will the government provide an explanation as to why Dave Basi was fired immediately -- prior to any charges -- while Bob Virk was only suspended?
40. Can the government provide assurances and evidence of the statement made by the then-Finance Minister in December 2003 that Dave Basi "was not involved in the budget process, never has been" and "was not involved in the drafting of legislation or policy development."
41. Will the government conduct a review of every decision made to remove land from the ALR while Mr. Basi worked in the Campbell administration?
42. Will the government provide a full enumeration of all government activities and files that involved Dave Basi and/or Bob Virk and the principals and staff of Pilothouse Public Affairs?
43. Is the government aware of any other potential or ongoing investigations that involve Basi, Virk, or Pilothouse and any other minister, ministry or public body -- and if so, what are they?
44. Will the government provide a full enumeration of the roles played in this investigation -- or any other related investigation -- by Mark Marissen, husband of then Deputy Premier Christy Clark, and Bruce Clark, the brother of the then-Deputy Premier?
45. What materials did the Special Prosecutor withhold from the defence that were the subject of the February 27, 2007 defence application?
46. Will the government provide a full enumeration of all government activities associated with Pilothouse Public Affairs?
47. Will the government provide a full enumeration of all government activities associated with K&E Public Affairs?
48. Why did the government allow Erik Bornman of Pilothouse Public Affairs to continue his lobbying activities after he had informed Bill Berardino that he had bribed Dave Basi?
49. Why did the government allow Brian Kieran of Pilothouse Public Affairs to continue his lobbying activities after he had informed the RCMP that he had tried to bribe Dave Basi?
50. Can the government assure British Columbians that lobbyists Erik Bornman and Brian Kieran no longer have access to senior government staff?
51. Why did the BC Liberal Party continue to accept money in 2004 from lobbyists named in the original warrants, long after the raids on the Legislature?
52. Why won't the BC Liberal government allow an all-party review of the Lobbyists Registration Act in order to have greater accountability over who is influencing government and how?
53. When did the Attorney General and Premier first become aware that the lead RCMP inspector was the brother-in-law of Kelly Reichart, Executive Director of the BC Liberal Party?
54. How did Kelly Reichert learn that Erik Bornman had been granted immunity in exchange for providing information about David Basi and Bob Virk?
55. When did the Attorney General and Premier first become aware that information related to the investigation was leaked to Kelly Reichart and was subsequently leaked by Mr. Reichart to principals in the investigation?
56. Does the Attorney General agree that the actions of Mr. Reichart risked compromising the investigation?
57. Why does Mr. Reichart continue to serve as the Executive Director of the BC Liberal Party?
58. Given that one of the government's objectives for the BC Rail transaction was "ensuring integrated North American access to preferred markets and carriers for interline rail shipments", why would the government attempt to sell the Roberts Bank Spur line separately, following the withdrawal of CP Rail?
59. Is it true that in November 2003, Dave Basi advised OmniTRAX that the then-Minister of Finance had authorized a consolation prize for OmniTRAX in exchange for that company staying in the bidding process?
60. Was this consolation prize the BC Rail spur line?
61. How much was the consolation prize valued at?
62. Was OmniTRAX offered any Delta ALR lands for expansion of the port as part of this consolation prize?
63. If it were not for the alleged criminal actions of high-ranking aides, would the government have proceeded with the sale of the BC Rail spur line?
64. Does $900,000 represent the total cost to taxpayers of cancelling the sale of the spur line, or did the final tab come in even higher than that? What was the final tab?
65. What was the estimated value of the spur line in 2004, when the sale was put on hold?
66. What was the estimated value of the spur line when the sale was totally cancelled in February 2006?
67. What is the estimated value of the spur line now?
68. Why won't the government exercise its rights under article 10.2 of the Revitalization Agreement to inspect all of CN's maintenance records for the former BC Rail line?
69. When will the government investigate the rash of tragic derailments since 2004 in order to shed light on this safety scandal?
70. Why has the government refused to provide evidence for its claim that the government discussed safety and maintenance with the proponents during the negotiations to sell BC Rail?

We have a rule in the British Commonwealth's Parliaments and that is when there is a case before the courts, the Crown doesn't answer any question(s) relative to that case. It is commonly referred to as sub judice. This is one principle that the NDP doesn't want to understand. But then again, anything that isn't owned by the Crown is a bad thing according to the NDP. Look at BC Rail / BC Ferries for example. If the NDP had any sort of brains, they would wait until all court actions relative to BC Rail are completed, then by all means, ask all the questions about the BC Rail Partnership Deal that you want. But the sub judice rule is clear: If there is a case before the Courts, it is inapproriate to ask anything that relates to that case during Oral Questions and hopefully House Speaker Bill Barisoff will apply this rule to Mr. Krog's 70 Written Questions, as posted on the Order Paper of the Legislative Assembly