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.