Monday, May 31, 2010

Gas Leak at 150 Mile House & Female Traffic Control Officer hurt

Williams Lake Tribune is reporting that a 3rd party struck a Terasen gas line, in addition a female traffic control officer was injured at this site at 1:30pm today while redirecting traffic from Highway 97 South to Mission Road (Highway 97 South is now re-opened)

See more on these topics here

ICBC to reduce Basic Insurance by 1.9% in November

Vancouver Sun is reporting that ICBC is intending to reduce Basic Vehicle Insurance rates by 1.9% in November

See more here

Alexis Creek officially welcomes its' new Tourism Center & Remembrance Day Plaque

At 12:00pm Monday, the Alexis Creek community along with the Alexis Creek RCMP and CRD Area 'K' Director Rick Mumford gathered together to celebrate the grand opening of both the Chilcotin Tourism Center and the dedication of a Remembrance Day plaque

The dedication of the Remembrance Day plaque included the playing of the "Last Post" and a native smudging ceremony and the reciting of a prayer

As for the grand opening of the Chilcotin Tourism Center, it will be manned by volunteers and it'll be open from May 15th - Oct 15th from 9am - 5pm, 7 days a week. Access to Internet and Sani-services is by donation. Pioneer Log Homes donated benches for tourists to sit on. The site is 100% accessible to all. I encourage anyone passing through Alexis Creek to stop in at this site, the time spent there will be fully worth it. I was disappointed that no City of Williams Lake Elected Officials were there. It would have sent the message - "We care about the successes of our rural neighbours"

See below for pictures from the new Chilcotin Tourism site and the Remembrance Day Plaque:






Final Report of BC's Local Government Elections Task Force

This morning, the BC Local Government Elections Task Force has released their Final Report. It was co-chaired by the Hon. Bill Bennett, Minister of Community & Rural Development and Harry Nyce, President of the Union of BC Municipalities

You can see the report here

Some of the recommendations include:

· Placing expense limits on local election campaign participants.

· Requiring registration and disclosure by third party advertisers.

· Requiring sponsorship information on all election advertising.

· Making campaign finance disclosure statements available earlier and in an electronically searchable form.

· Establishing a key role for Elections BC in enforcement of local campaign finance rules.

· Establishing a separate act for local campaign finance rules.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The HST & Globe and Mail

On Friday, I was interviewed by Justine Hunter who covers BC Politics in the Globe and Mail - BC Edition about the HST and today's BC Liberal Regional Conference which will attract MLA/Cabinet Ministers & Party Members from all the Prince George ridings, both Cariboo ridings, both Kamloops ridings and the riding of Shuswap

You can view the article in question here

I must say though when we discuss the HST at this conference, I'm going to express my disappointment at Terry Lake (MLA - Kamloops-North Thompson) who convenes the Select Standing Committee on Legislative Initiatives and his "amateurish" comments on the HST Initiative Petition and what the Committee would try and do with the Petition

His words......:

"The committee could look at that initiative and say that it's invalid"

At a time when we, as BC Liberals, are trying to have a rational and fact-based debate on the HST, his comments are clearly not helpful. In addition, he should have taken the high road and not publicly muse about what the Select Standing Committee would do or not do with the HST Initiative Petition.

He should have (and it appears he understands this now) taken the lead of the Premier when he said:

"We will follow the law (Recall and Initiative Act)"

Hopefully, the BC Liberals' won't have any more "amateurish" and "rookie" comments from its' MLA's. Certainly, those who advocate for the recall of BC Liberal MLA's do not need anymore evidence to fire up its' troops

Process and Functions

1) Traffic Control Amendment Bylaw #2117, 2010

Williams Lake Council, at its' May 25th, 2010 meeting, adopted an amendment to its Traffic Control Bylaw which permits Sidewalk and Roadway Cafes. It calls for applications to be received by City Hall from business owners for these cafes using a permitting process. Council consulted with the WLCBIA (Local Business Improvement Area) prior to adopting the amendment and they expressed no concerns. It should be noted that Council did not consult the general public prior to it adopting the amendment to the Traffic Control Bylaw

Since then, Walt Cobb has written on this subject and I have heard from numerous residents' expressing concerns with this bylaw and the fact that Council did not see fit to take their concerns into account prior to adoption of Bylaw #2117.

I think that their points are well taken and Council should not have depended solely on the views expressed by the WLCBIA prior to rushing through Bylaw #2117. As my blog readers know, a similar situation occurred where the public was mad that Council did not see fit then to consult the public on the new Traffic Control Bylaw and specifically, on the definition of boulevard's and the fact the public was prohibited from parking on them and Council agreed on November 24, 2009 (at a Committee of the Whole meeting) to hear from the public (after Council adopted Traffic Control Bylaw #2093). Council's resolve at this meeting was to have a process in place with respect to regulatory bylaws. Obviously, this has yet to be done and I note that the City's CAO has advised me that the Public Works Portfolio is very busy and has not yet had time to consider this matter and make recommendations to Council on this subject

I think that we can look to the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) with regard to this subject:

The CRD Board has a policy in place now since August of 2009 which requires the following process:

1) 1st and 2nd reading of a regulatory bylaw
2) Public Consultation (Board to determine the type of public consultation after 2nd reading but prior to 3rd reading)
3) Board gives 3rd reading to a regulatory bylaw
4) Board adopts regulatory bylaw

Williams Lake Council should model its' procedures on regulatory bylaws based on the CRD Policy on this subject so it doesn't look like it doesn't care about what the public has to say on regulatory bylaws. The current concerns about how the HST came in seem to ring the same issue here.... no consultation with the public which a local government should do prior to adopting new rules or establish new services in their community

2) CRD Central Cariboo Transit Function - Public Meetings

On May 26th and 27th, the CRD hosted Public Meetings in Areas E and F on the subject of a proposed Central Cariboo Transit Function. 8 people showed up to the meeting in Area E and 11 in Area F. So far, the concerns expressed have been:

* Bus Routes and Scheduling
* Proposed Taxation Boundary
* The costs to property owners' do not justify the service to be received

Area D's meeting will be on Monday at 7pm at Wildwood Elementary and it will be interesting to see what residents' have to say on this subject. After Monday's meeting, Directors Bischoff (Area D), Mazur (Area E) and Alternate Director Sorley (Area F) will then assemble together to review public input and determine next steps.

So if you are one who does or does not want public transit in Area D, you need to show up on Monday at 7pm at Wildwood Elementary, and tell Director Bischoff that

Friday, May 28, 2010

CRD Area 'F' Transit Public Meeting - May 27th Highlights

Present

Joan Sorley– CRD Alternate Area ‘F’ Director
Darron Campbell – CRD Manager of Community Services
Kathleen McDonald – CRD Community Services Assistant
11 members of the public

Meeting called to order at 7:05pm

Alternate Director Sorley gave opening comments

Darron Campbell (CRD Manager of Community Services) gave a Powerpoint presentation on the proposed Central Cariboo Transit Function:

• History
• How will the bus service proceed
• How has the bus service been delivered
• What are the costs to taxpayers in portions of Electoral Areas D,E, F
• Next Steps

A Question and Answer Session took place during and after the presentation

Questions from residents included:

* Cost of service
* Concern with actual bus schedule

Meeting adjourned at 8:15pm

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday News Round-up

In the Williams Lake Tribune:

* WL Council & the Boot Cabaret Business License Suspension Appeal - more here
* Local Hospital District Board calls on Interior Health to re-open Deni House - more here
* Walt Cobb talks about Process and Bylaws at WL City Hall - more here

In the Vancouver Province:

* Political Columnist Michael Smyth talks about the HST Initiative Petition and the BC Libs trying to find a legal loophole to defeat the petition - more here

In the Globe and Mail - BC Edition:

* Political Columist Gary Mason speculates on the future of BC Premier Gordon Campbell - more here

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Review of the CRD Area 'E' Transit Public Meeting

On Wednesday evening, 8 people showed up to discuss with CRD Area 'E' Director Steve Mazur the future of transit in the fringe portions of CRD Electoral Areas D, E, F.

Some pertinent facts:

1) Bus Routes - routes that are currently in place are the same ones that will exist if the proposed Central Cariboo Transit Function becomes a reality. 4 Bus Runs to Dog Creek/Mountview/Hodgson, Commodore Heights and 150 Mile Mon - Fri. HandiDART to have runs on Tuesday (150 Mile), Wednesday (Commodore Heights/Wildwood Area) and Thursday (Mountview and Hodgson Road area). Cost shall be:

HandiDART - $4.00 per one way trip
Regular Bus - $2.00 per one way trip

2) Financial Implications (proposed 3 Options)

Land Only - $11.33 per $100,00 of assessment
Land and Improvments - $8.58 per $100,000 of assessment
Parcel Tax - $21.53 per parcel

The proposed taxation boundary was modelled on the Central Cariboo Recreation Taxation Boundary. Some residents expressed a concern that the proposed taxation boundary for this Function may be too large and should reflect those properties who benefit from this service. Director Mazur pointed out that if that occurs, the proposed Financial Implications would go up but no research was done on how much.

It will be interesting to see how this proposal for transit in the Central Cariboo is received by Area 'F' Residents (Thursday Night at 7:00pm at the 150 Mile House Fire Hall) and Area 'D' Residents (Monday, May 31st at 7:00pm - Wildwood Elementary)

CRD Area 'E' Transit Public Meeting - May 26th Highlights

Present:

Steve Mazur – CRD Area ‘E’ Director
Darron Campbell – CRD Manager of Community Services
Kathleen McDonald – CRD Community Services Assistant
8 members of the public

Meeting called to order at 7:01pm

Director Mazur gave opening comments

Darron Campbell (CRD Manager of Community Services) gave a Powerpoint presentation on the proposed Central Cariboo Transit Function:

• History
• How will the bus service proceed
• How has the bus service been delivered
• What are the costs to taxpayers in portions of Electoral Areas D,E, F
• Next Steps

A Question and Answer Session took place during and after the presentation
A Discussion then took place on Water and Sewer in Area ‘E’ – progress to date

Meeting adjourned at 8:15pm

Consideration of 2 Delegations by WL Council

Last night, WL Council received 2 Delegations pertaining to the Appeal of the Suspension of a Business License & a request to revoke a Remedial Action Resolution.

With regard to both the Weekes & Whitely appeals, I'd like to take a moment to expand upon what took place during these appeals:

Weekes Appeal

1) City General Manager of Planning & Operations (Geoff Goodall) reviews the history on the file
2) A Q&A (Question and Answer) session takes place between Mr. Weekes, Mr. Goodall and WL City Council
3) Staff-Sgt Warren Brown provides information to Council on his knowledge of this matter
4) A Q&A session then takes place between Staff-Sgt Warren Brown, Mr. Weekes and City Council
5) Nick Weekes (Owner - Boot Cabaret) then gives information to Council on his understanding of the situation
6) A Q&A session takes place between Mr. Weekes, the City General Manager of Planning & Operations, Staff-Sgt Warren Brown and City Council
7) Closing Comments are then given by the City General Manager of Planning & Operations and Mr. Weekes

Mayor Cook then closed the Public Hearing and WL Council agreed to refer the matter to an Special In-Camera Meeting was then held last night after the adjournment of last night's WL Council meeting.

Whitely Appeal - Request to Rescind Remedial Action Resolution at 127 Lakeview:

1) City General Manager of Planning & Operations gave a review of the history on this matter
2) A Q&A Session then took place between the GM of Planning & Operations and Council
3) Bill and Sharon Whitely then appeared before Council to argue why the Remedial Action Resolution at 127 Lakeview should be rescinded
4) A Q&A Session then took place between Mr. and Mrs. Whitely, Williams Lake Council and the General Manager of Planning and Operations
5) The City General Manager of Planning & Operations and Bill & Sharon Whitely gave concluding remarks

Mayor Cook closed the Public Hearing on this matter and WL Council agreed to refer the matter to a Special In-Camera Meeting which was held immediately following adjournment of last night's WL Council Meeting

Length of May 25th WL Council Meeting

Last night, for the 1st time and in a very long time that goes back years, Council held a meeting that exceeded 3 hours including 2 hours for delegations and presentations

The 2 hours for delegations dealt with these 2 topics:

i) Appeal from Nick Weekes (Owner - Boot Cabaret) on the suspension of the Boot's Business License

ii) Request to revoke Remedial Action Resolution from Bill & Sharon Whitely

These 2 delegations should have been scheduled for another night as it makes the reasons stated by Councillor Montoya for moving the Council meeting from 7:30pm to 6:00pm hypocritical. I also believe this calls into question Mayor Cook's ability to ensure that City Council business can be conducted at a meeting in a time effective way. A good Mayor is one who looks at the Agenda and decides which matters should be separated for an Special meeting and which ones should be included at a Regular Meeting and these 2 delegations should have been subject of a Special Meeting and not included on a Regular Meeting

In-Camera Proceedings & Williams Lake Council

Last night, during "Round-table" comments, Councillor Rathor asked Mayor Cook if the ICSP Award that the City is receiving at the FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) Annual Meeting is still "In-Camera" material. Mayor Cook stated that it was not, given that the City Planner (Lilliana Dragowska) stated that it could be now publicly released.

Councillor Rathor then charged that the information was still classified, as of 8pm last night, as "In-Camera", according to the City's CAO (Brian Carruthers) and suggested that Mayor Cook "leaked" the information without discussing it with Council first

Regardless of which side you take on this matter, nothing is more important than members of Williams Lake Council clearly understanding their roles/responsibilities around how In-Camera material can be released to the public. I have contacted both Mayor Cook & Councillor Bourdon and asked that this topic be discussed, for the purpose of Williams Lake Council to have a general discussion on roles/responsibilities of Williams Lake City Council on the topic of "In-Camera" material being released to the public

This time, it's just an award, next time it could be sensitive negotiations where a member of Council could leak the information stating that he or she believed it was released previously. More the reason why this Council needs to have a discussion on the topic of roles/responsbilities of "In-Camera" material being properly released to the public

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

WL Council Meeting Highlights - May 25th, 2010

Present: Mayor Cook and Councillors Barr, Bourdon, Montoya, Rathor, Walters and Zacharias

Staff Present:

Brian Carruthers - CAO
Geoff Goodall - GM of Planning and Operations
Cindy Bouchard - Manager of Legislative Services
Brad McRae - Senior Bylaw Officer
Annie McKitrick - Acting Manager of Social Development

Meeting called to order at 6:00pm

Delegations or Presentations:

1) Mayor Cook, on behalf of Council, presented Private Tim Robbins with an award thanking him for his service to Canada and Williams Lake while serving in Afghanistan
2) Retirement Concepts (WL Seniors’ Village) were presented with an award for Building Excellence by the BC Northern Real Estate Board
3) Council convened a Public Hearing regarding an appeal on the suspension of the Business License for the Boot Cabaret. Only Geoff Goodall (General Manager of Planning & Operations), Staff-Sgt Warren Brown (WL RCMP Detachment Commander) and Nick Weekes (Owner of Boot Cabaret) participated in this Public Hearing
4) Bill and Sharon Whitely (123 & 127 Lakeview Avenue) appeared before Council to request it reconsider the Remedial Action Resolution that it imposed on property at 123 & 127 Lakeview Avenue at its’ April 6th, 2010 meeting

• Delegations #3 and 4 were referred to an In-Camera meeting to commence immediately following adjournment of tonight’s meeting.

Business:

1) Council received for information an report from Mayor Cook on the 2010 NCLGA (North Central Local Government Association) AGM
2) Council endorsed a recommendation from the Central Cariboo Joint Committee, which requires that the WL Timberwolves vacate the Cariboo Memorial Complex ASAP based on its inability to comply with the Debt Settlement Agreement that it signed earlier until a new Occupancy Agreement is signed. City/CRD Staff were also tasked to bring back options to the Joint Committee on how to collect outstanding monies owed to both the City/CRD by the WL Timberwolves and a Special Joint Committee meeting be scheduled ASAP
3) Council received for information an follow-up report from the Economic Development Manager on the trip to China that he, Councillors Walters & Bourdon did in November of 2009
4) Council received DVP (Development Variance Permit) #2 and referred to the Advisory Planning Commission for comment/recommendations. DVP #2-2010 will be considered by Council at its’ June 8th meeting
5) Council received an report from the City’s Legislative Services Manager will sets in motion the formal borrowing of the 3.5 million for the Mackenzie Avenue Rehab Project. The CRD Board will now be formally asked to consent to this borrowing in the form of a “Security Issuing Bylaw”
6) Council approved the renewal of the Transit Partnership Agreement with Interior Health for provision of the Health Connections service to Kamloops
7) Council received a report from the Senior Bylaw Officer regarding support for PADS (Pacific Assistance Dog Society).
8) Council adopted Bylaw 2117 - Traffic Control Amendment Bylaw (Sidewalk/Roadway Cafes)
9) Council adopted a number of Committee of the Whole Recommendations:

• Council to provide a general letter of support to Embrace BC supporting the work of Urban Ink/Williams Lake Arts Council and CMHA in working with youth to explore inter-generational and racism issues
• Council endorsed the Memorandum of Understanding between the City of WL and the Central Cariboo Economic Development Corporation
• Council approved the public consultation plan and tentative timeline for implementation of a False Alarm Bylaw
• Council to provide a letter of support recommending that the BC government exercise social responsibility by proposing new legislation to reduce the health and social harms caused by alcohol abuse in our communities

10) Mayor Cook or her alternate was authorized by Council to attend the 2010 Summer Gala Opening & Theatre Royal at Barkerville, BC on Saturday, June 19th.
11) Approval was given for Special Occasion Liquor Licenses on July 1, 2, 3 and 4, 2010 at the Stampede Grounds, pursuant to City Policy and subject to RCMP approval
12) Council received for information the CRD Board Highlights from its’ May 20th meeting
13) Council proclaimed June 1st – July 4th, 2010 as “Stampede Season” in the City of Williams Lake

Meeting adjourned at 9:05pm

Council then proceeded to an In-Camera meeting, in accordance with Sections 90 (1f) and (1g) and 92 of the Community Charter

HST Initiative Petition reaches 10% target in 83 of 85 BC's Electoral Districts

The Globe and Mail - BC Edition is reporting that the HST Initiative Petition has now achieved 10% of voter signatures in 83 of BC's 85 Electoral District including the electoral districts of Vancouver-Point Grey (Premier Campbell) and Vancouver -Quilchena (Colin Hansen)

See the story here

Sunday, May 23, 2010

City of WL Council Agenda Item: Renewal of Interior Health Health Connections Agreement

On Tuesday, Williams Lake Council is meeting and 1 item under consideration is renewal of the Interior Health Health Connections Bus Agreement (this is a bus that runs between Williams Lake to Kamloops, with stops in 100 Mile House, Clinton, and Cache Creek for medical appointments)

The current user fee is $5.00 each way. However, the CAO (Chief Administator - Brian Carruthers) has suggested in his report that because of a deficit of $1,600 and BC Transit will cover 50% of this deficit, that the City negotiate with Interior Health to cover the remaining $800 deficit including user fee hikes or service reductions or a combination of both.

You can read the report on this matter from the CAO here

But two things stand out:

1) The request was sent to WL City Hall on February 17th and the CAO's report is dated May 17th. My question is - why is a simple request to renew an agreement taking 3 whole months to get to Council?

2) Why didn't this request go to the Public Works Portfolio (no indication it was), the Central Cariboo Joint Committee or the Seniors' Advisory Committee? The Joint Committee may have been prepared to help the City cover the $800 deficit, given the Health Connections Bus serves residents' from Electoral Areas D, E, F, J and K. Also, if user fee hikes or service reductions are being contemplated to meet the agreement's budget for the Health Connections Bus then we should talk to the very people who are going to be impacted the most and use this bus service the most - seniors!! and let's hear what they have to say before the politicians decide to renew this agreement and impose greater costs on users or reduce services on the very people who use this service the most - seniors!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Week that was....

1) Town Hall Radio Program

For the last number of years, "The Rush" has hosted the "Town Hall" program which is a 10 min program with the Mayor of Williams Lake. It is usually hosted by Dale Taylor, who does an excellent job asking the pertinent questions that people would want to ask the Mayor and what he or she is up to. I publicly thank Mr. Taylor for the good work he does on this program and I urge to keep it up!!!

However, it is his more recent questions to Mayor Cook that I wish to discuss. On May 13th, Dale Taylor asked Mayor Cook a question pertaining to the FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) Annual Meeting and she stated that she changed her schedule completely so she could go to Toronto, where FCM is being held this year but refused to tell Mr. Taylor and by extension, all taxpayers' of Williams Lake, why she needed to go to Toronto, given that the Cariboo Regional District is not going to the same conference. A week later on May 20th, she admitted that she was going to the FCM Annual Meeting to accept a National ICSP (Intergrated Community Sustainability Planning) Award. This obviously opens up two questions:

a) Why did she dance around the FCM issue - why not just truthfully answer Mr. Taylor's question on May 13th instead of waiting a week. Voters expect that their politicians answer all questions truthfully - even if the answers they provide will anger the voters' of this community. At the very least, this demonstrates a willingness to voters that their elected officials will answer questions truthfully and honestly, no matter what the consequences. This is something that Mayor Cook fails to grasp at this point of her term

b) The CRD can do its' own thing on FCM..... - Mayor Cook must understand if the CRD is not going to FCM due to economic circumstances, then Williams Lake must do the same, if nothing else, to let the taxpayers' know that its' local government truly understands the pain they are going through and they are reviewing each expenditure for appropriateness. The FCM, in my opinion, is an organization that Williams Lake taxpayers' don't need to pay for as the CRD is a member of and the City's taxpayers' pay for a portion of the CRD's FCM Annual dues and if we need information from that body, then we can ask the CRD's delegation going to the annual FCM Convention to get appropriate information on our behalf. It is hypocritical for the City to say - we have to go to FCM and raise property taxes and utility fees while failing to sympathetic to taxpayers' who are having a difficult time paying their utility and property tax bills

2) Central Cariboo Arts and Culture - Future Direction

On Tuesday, I discussed some concerns I had with the newly-released Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Stakeholder Working Group Final Report. After Wednesday night's Central Cariboo & City of Williams Lake Joint Committee meeting, Susan O'Sullivan who serves as the Community Arts Council Treasurer left me this comment:

"Big assumptions made in this blog. The CACWL had its financial information reviewed by PMT Accountants for the past 4 years with year-ends produced. At our request we have the RCMP investigating our file and we continue to be in close contact with the RCMP. Even though we experienced significant financial issues over the past year, ie, collection debts, unpaid local businesses debts, to name a few, we have addressed all satisfactory with the exception of the outstanding Heritage House lease. However, we do have a plan to repay this debt. Kudos to the CACWL members that we do have a re-payment plan, considering that the CACWL in past years and more particularily in this past year have run on a “shoe string budget.” Despite your reference in linking CACWL and the new organization being above “reproach”, we have been transparent with our CACWL financial status and other issues with the City/CRD and CACWL members. We have received no personal financial gains, quite the opposite, in fact the CACWL directors and members have experienced extreme personal stress and concern over the past year; however I am pleased to report that the CACWL’s status now is financially and administratively stable. A significant achievement considering the obstacles that were overcome. You are welcome to attend our next AGM in September, 2010 for more information."

I would say that the public and myself have yet to see a public statement from the RCMP that says that the CAC-WL's (Community Arts Council of Williams Lake) Financial Statements are solid and can not be lawfully challenged and I look forward to seeing that statement in due course

Insofar as a plan to repay City of Williams Lake taxpayers' for the outstanding Heritage House backrent, the CAC may very well have a plan but the taxpayers' are entitled to see that plan and criticize said plan if it is not in the taxpayers' best interest. Speaking of which, Councillor Geoff Bourdon and Mayor Cook, at Wednesday's Joint Committee meeting, did ask specifically for that plan in writing (note - in January of 2010, City Staff, Councillor Walters and CAC members were tasked to meet and come up with a plan to pay back the Heritage House backrent and report back to Council and as of today, that plan has not been laid before Council) which in turn incited Harry Jennings to harshly criticize Mayor and Council for what specific information they were looking for.

I would remind Mr. Jennings (and both he and Ms. O'Sullivan will know that I was at this past Wednesday's Joint Committee meeting) that he can do without the "standoffish attitude" towards Council and just simply say that he is more than prepared to provide whatever information that Council requires to satisfy its' concerns about the debt-repayment plan for backrent at Heritage House.

Finally, whatever takes place with regard to the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Stakeholder Working Group Final Report - the new Society should be formed (after all concerns of CRD Area 'D' Director Deb Bischoff are satisfied) and the CAC should be required to dissolve and not to have this new Arts and Culture Society and CAC both co-existing. This will ensure that we all can move forward on Arts and Culture in the Central Cariboo. Also, the Central Cariboo Joint Committee should send a stern statement to the new Arts and Culture Society that the $200,000 contemplated in the Arts and Culture Function is the maximum that they'll receive from Central Cariboo taxpayers' and if the Society needs more money, it'll have to look elsewhere. They are too many other things that need looking after

As for the AGM of the CAC, I look forward to see what they'll be telling their members in regards to the future of CAC vis-a-vis the newly established Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society

Local Government Meetings in Cariboo-Chilcotin - Week of May 24 - 28

A number of Local Government meetings' are occuring in the Cariboo-Chilcotin next week:

Tuesday, May 25th - City of Williams Lake

Regular Meeting #10 of 2010. Meeting starts at 6:00pm in Council Chambers

The Agenda and Reports is here

Wednesday, May 26th - Cariboo Regional District

Central Cariboo Transit Public Meeting - Electoral Area 'E'

Meeting starts at 7:00pm at Mountview Elementary (1222 Dog Creek Road, by Mountview Store)

Thursday, May 27th - Cariboo Regional District

Central Cariboo Transit Public Meeting - Electoral Area 'F'

Meeting starts at 7:00pm at 150 Mile Community Hall (Fire Hall) on Pigeon Road

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Central Cariboo Joint Committee Meeting Highlights - May 19th

Present from City of WL: Mayor Cook (Co-Chair) and Councillors Bourdon, Rathor, Zacharias, Montoya, Barr and Walters

Present from CRD: Director Steve Mazur (Co-Chair) and Directors Bischoff, Mumford and Alternate Area ‘F’ Director Joan Sorley

Absent: Area ‘J’ Director Alex Bracewell

CRD/City of WL Staff Present:

Darron Campbell – CRD Manager of Community Services
Bernice CroweCRD Executive Assistant
Geoff Paynton – City of WL Director of Community Services
Cindy Bouchard – City of WL Manager of Legislative Services

Meeting called to order at 5:00pm

By Consensus – Minutes of April 29th Joint Committee meeting approved

Business:

1) Memo from CRD Manager of Community Services re: Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Working Group Final Report

The CRD Manager of Community Services reviewed his memorandum with the Joint Committee
Discussion ensued

By Consensus – Memo from CRD Manager of Community Services be received and Director Bischoff meet with Darron Campbell and Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Working Group members to clarify her concerns and this matter return to next Joint Committee for further action

2) Memo from CRD Manager of Community Services re: Minutes of April 28th meeting of Esler Recreation Advisory Commission along with Capital Projects and Appointments

The Co-Chair and the CRD Manager of Community Services reviewed this item with the Joint Committee
Discussion ensued

By Consensus – Memo from CRD Manager of Community Services be received and all recommendations contained in the minutes be endorsed including:

• Installation of new sign at Esler Sports Complex Entrance recognizing the 3 user groups there
• $5,000 be used from 2010 Central Cariboo Recreation Budget for projects involving WL Slo-Pitch, Minor Softball and WL Soccer Associations
• City of WL be requested to forward surplus or unused field equipment available (fencing/bleachers) to the Esler groups for use by them
• Use & Occupancy Agreement with Soccer Associations’ be amended to include Caretakers’ residence
Gord Chipman be appointed as WL Soccer Associations’ rep on the Commission and Brent Morrison be appointed to the Commission as Minor Softball rep

3) Report from City of WL Director of Community Services re: WL Timberwolves Debt Settlement Agreement

The City of WL Director of Community Services reviewed his report with the Joint Committee
Discussion ensued

By Consensus – Joint Committee endorse Option 3, as contained in the report and refer back to Staff for further clarification.

4) Report from Councillor SPS Rathor & Alternate Area ‘F’ Director Joan Sorley re: Central Cariboo Recreation Advisory Committee

Councillor Rathor and Alt Director Sorley reviewed their report with the Joint Committee
Discussion ensued

By Consensus – Joint Committee endorse Option #3 as contained in the report and refer to Staff to bring back Terms of Reference for Recreation Advisory Committee for consideration of Joint Committee, based on Joint Committee discussions

5) Minutes of April 28th 2010 Central Cariboo Recreation Advisory Committee (CCRAC)

The Joint Committee reviewed the April 28th minutes of CCRAC
Discussion ensued

By Consensus – Minutes received

6) Memo from CRD Executive Assistant re: Climate Action Bootcamp

The Joint Committee reviewed the memo of the CRD Executive Assistant on this matter
Discussion ensued

By Consensus – Item received

7) Memo from CRD Executive Assistant re: Joint Fee-for-Service Contract (City of WL /CRD)

The City of WL Manager of Legislative reviewed this item with the Joint Committee
Discussion ensued

By Consensus – Item received and refer to Staff develop a Draft Policy for Joint Fee-for-Service Contracts for consideration by the Joint Committee

8) Memo from CRD Executive Assistant re: Sustainability Forum

The Joint Committee reviewed the memo of the CRD Executive Assistant on this matter
Discussion ensued

By Consensus – Item received

9) Action Page dated April 29th

The Joint Committee reviewed the Action Page

By Consensus – Action Page was received and Action Items #3, 5, 7, 9, 10 and 11 were removed

10) Joint Committee Terms of Reference

Discussion ensued on this matter

By Consensus – Item received and referred to Staff to bring forward new Terms of Reference for the Joint Committee for consideration including:

• Membership of the Joint Committee
• How to determine voting on items
• Dissenting votes – how to recognize while respecting consensus-based decision making at the Joint Committee

Meeting adjourned at 7:05pm

Local Government Awareness Week & City of Williams Lake

Earlier this month, both the Province of BC & the City of Williams Lake proclaimed "Local Government Awareness Week" as an opportunity to demonstrate to the public of what local government does for its' local residents' and why residents' should take interest in what their local government does, including both regional districts and municipal governments

The City of Williams Lake held its' Open House yesterday to demonstrate what City Council provides, on behalf of its' residents including providing a bus tour of the City's water system. Mayor Cook along with Councillors' Zacharias, Bourdon and Rathor were in attendance to provide tours at City Hall in addition to answering questions from members' of the public

However, last night, Council did two things which are contrary to the ideals that Council is trying to promote - a local government that serves the public with open and democratic principles:

i) Council held an In-Camera meeting without prior notice to the public.

According to provincial law (Community Charter, Sections 88 -93), all meetings of the local government (regional district & municipal government) and any advisory bodies to them are required to be held in an open meeting, except where they declare where a meeting should be closed to the public, with a motion passed in an open meeting, in accordance with Sections 90(1) and 92 of the Community Charter. Although there is no requirement that In-Camera Meetings' be previously advertised, all other regular or special meetings of Council are posted for the public's information and extension of this rule should apply to the holding of In-Camera Meeting(s). This would be in furtherance of Section 6 of Bylaw #1940 - Council Procedure Bylaw

ii) Committee of the Whole Meeting - May 18th

Council last night met in a "Committee of the Whole" meeting and was properly advertised, in accordance with Section 6 of Council Procedure Bylaw #1940. However, when I arrived at 6:00pm, the door to the Committee Room was closed and as a "unspoken" rule, when the door to the Committee Room is closed, it means that Council is meeting "In-Camera" and the public should not enter the room unless and until the door is opened to the room

At minimum, Council should have a sign posted on the door to the Committee Room which states when it is meeting In-Camera or when the meeting is open to the public

This would demonstrate a commitment to open and democratic values by Williams Lake City Council

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Breaking News - WL Timberwolves membership in BCHL suspended

Williams Lake Tribune is reporting that the Williams Lake Timberwolves's membership in the BC Hockey League has been suspended, following a Board of Governors' vote

See the article here

City of WL Open House: Draft Secondary Suite Policy

On May 11th, WL Council adopted a draft Secondary Suite Policy along with a process to engage members of the public to hear any concerns they may have on the Draft Secondary Suite Policy

The Open House will be held on:

Date - Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
Time - 3:00pm - 7:00pm
Location - Williams Lake City Council Chambers

Staff will be on hand to answer any questions that you may have

If you can't make it but still wish to provide comments, you can email your concerns to secondarysuites@williamslake.ca

For further information, contact Annie McKitrick (Acting Social Development Manager) at 250-392-8480

Steve Rant - City Quarterly Utility Bill & Hypocrisy

Yesterday, I went to pay a quarterly City of Williams Lake Utility Bill which was due on Friday, May 14th, on behalf of a young, working family, whom I will not name to protect their privacy

When I paid the bill in question, I was informed that a 10% penalty would be applied due to the bill being paid 1 day late. When the family in question learned of this, they were naturally upset. They work very hard to pay their bills on time and would think that their local government might have some compassion because they paid it less than a full day late

They expressed their outrage that they get dinged a 10% penalty for being 1 day late but yet the Community Arts Council still owes the City of Williams Lake and its' taxpayers close to $9,000 (goes back to 2009) and yet there is still no report back as to how the Community Arts Council will eventually repay this money and I agree wholeheartedly with this family

WL Council will likely say - that's the rule. The deadline is the deadline. But yet, they'll wait for a report from Staff and Portfolio on the $9,000 that the local Community Arts Council owes Williams Lake and its' taxpayers'. And by the way, that is 4 months and counting....

Hypocrisy at its' finest at Williams Lake City Hall

New Local Arts Council & Central Cariboo Arts and Culture

On Wednesday, the Central Cariboo/City of Williams Lake Joint Committee will be meeting to consider a report of the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Stakeholder Working Group

This 38 page report talks about the future direction of managing Arts and Culture on a sub-regional basis including the formation of a new umbrella group called "Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society" or CCACS. It also discusses the possibility of the current CAC-WL (Community Arts Council of Williams Lake) folding and taking their assets and transferring them to the new CCACS to be formed, but the report fails to discuss how the current liabilities of CAC-WL will be resolved (as my blog readers' are aware, CAC-WL still owes the City around $9,000 for previous rent at Heritage House when they were tenants) and I'm left with the impression that money from the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Service could be used to help wind up CAC-WL and transfer assets to the new society

The report also talks about who would act as founding members of the society. Given that Harry Jennings & Susan O'Sullivan are current Executive members of CAC-WL (President and Secretary-Treasurer respectively) and given that the RCMP has still has not reported back to address alleged financial concerns resulting from the CAC-WL's financial statements, perhaps CRD/City of WL Staff need to take the lead to ensure formation of the new CCACS is above reproach and its' formation can not be challenged

Also - given the financial fiasco displayed at the CAC-WL, the report does not call for the financial statements to be audited externally, like the CRD and City's Financial Statements and given that taxpayers' money is involved, external audits are a must!

In short, this report must be reviewed carefully to ensure that the entire community interest (both inside the City and CRD Areas D, E, F) are carefully protected

If any of my blog readers' want a copy of the report in question - please contact me, via email, at sforseth@shaw.ca and I'll be glad to provide you with a copy

Monday, May 17, 2010

CN Rail gets extension to deadline to remove railway ties/chips at Station House Gallery site

The City of Williams Lake has announced that CN Rail will get an extension to the deadline to remove railway ties and chips at the Station House Gallery site which expires now on August 15th, 2010

See the City's press release here:

BC Fire Code order that was issued to CN Rail last month with respect to their storage of rail ties and chips on leased property behind Station House Gallery. CN Rail now has until August 15, 2010 to fully comply with the order subject to CN Rail taking immediate action to ensure adequate buffers between the chip/tie piles and the surrounding brush and forested areas and that the material be removed from beneath hydro lines. The extension was granted in order to provide sufficient time for CN Rail to secure an alternate disposal location and to chip the existing ties in preparation for transport.

“Aside from Fire Code infractions, CN Rail’s chipping operation is not in contravention of any laws or regulations and the city has no legal means to stop their chipping activity. However, CN Rail has recognized the community’s concern with their chipping operation and is making every effort to remove the material as soon as possible,” states Brian Carruthers, Chief Administrative Officer.

CN Rail has also requested BC Rail Properties for an extension of their lease until August 31, 2010 on the basis that they cannot physically remove all of the material before that date.
Mayor Kerry Cook advises, “CN Rail has responded to the City’s concerns by establishing buffers around the chip piles and establishing road access through the piles for fire protection and we are satisfied that they are making efforts to vacate the site as soon as possible.”

Early Campaigning - Office of the Mayor, City of Williams Lake

On March 30th, Township of Langley Mayor Rick Green announced that he would be seeking a 2nd term as Mayor of the Township of Langley. In discussing his intentions with the Langley Times (sister paper to the Williams Lake Tribune), he talked about what he'll be campaigning on during the fall of 2011. The article also suggested that Township of Langley Councillors' Jordan Bateman and/or Charlie Fox may also seek the Mayor's Office as well

See the Langley Times article here
See Councillor Jordan Bateman's response to the article here

Now, here in Williams Lake, we don't usually talk about local government elections until the spring in the year of the local government election, which is next year (2011). However, in this case, I am hearing rumblings already that Scott Nelson is being strongly encouraged to run again for Mayor of Williams Lake. I've also heard rumblings that Williams Lake City Councillor Surinder Rathor may try for a run at the Mayor's Office, here in Williams Lake in 2011

Will Mr. Nelson or Mr. Rathor announce their intentions for the Mayor's Office a year and a half before the election takes place, like Rick Green of the Township of Langley did? I'm not sure - they are keeping their cards close to their chest. It may not sit well with the voters' of Williams Lake for either Mr. Nelson or Mr. Rathor to announce before the end of 2010, but time will only tell

Stay tuned.....the 2011 race for the Mayor's Office, here in Williams Lake, could definitely get interesting

Anti-HST Team reach 500,000 voter signatures mark

FightHST.com reports that they have reached the 500,000 voter signature mark and have met the Elections-BC mininum of 10% of voter signatures in 72 of BC's 85 Electoral Districts

More here

Anti-Homophobia Campaign at Columneetza Senior Secondary runs into opposition

Global-BC reports that students at Columneetza Senior Secondary who were trying to have an anti-homophobia campaign including a video presentation during a student assembly have run into some roadblocks

I find this regretable because having a diverse opinion taught at schools would be in society's better interest and although I do not agree with views expressed by gays and lesbians, I'm prepared as a resident of Williams Lake, British Columbia and Canada to allow them to express that view in our schools to promote a dialogue

The video is here

City of Quesnel adopts Province's first Wood First Bylaw

The City of Quesnel has announced this morning that Quesnel Council adopts their Wood First Bylaw (the first local government to do such an act with regard to the Province's "Wood First" initiative)

More here

Anti-HST Suppporters calls "HST List" from BC Gov't a Con-Job

FightHST.com reports that Chris Delaney/Bill Vander Zalm is calling the recently issued HST Taxable List by the Provincial Government as a "bogus con-job"

More here

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tolko Industries signs agreement with China

See below for statement from the Government of BC on a newly-signed agreement between Tolko Industries & China:

TOLKO REACHES MAJOR LUMBER AGREEMENT WITH CHINA

SHANGHAI – Tolko Industries Ltd. has signed another major purchase agreement with China National Building Materials as the market for B.C. forest products continues to grow at a steady rate in 2010, Premier Gordon Campbell announced today.

“I congratulate Tolko Industries Ltd. on this agreement, which is yet another example of how the trade relationship between the B.C. forest industry and China just keeps getting stronger and stronger,” said Premier Campbell. “Lumber demand from housing officials, developers, and construction firms is at an all-time high in China. They want to do more and more business with us because China knows B.C. softwood products are good for the environment, cost-effective, and highly adaptable.

China National Building Materials is the country’s number one lumber distributor to China’s construction industries. They now have two separate agreements with Tolko that combined are equivalent to two full mills’ production and will support 400 mill and woodland jobs.

Tolko signed its first major supply agreement with China National Building Materials in November 2009 as part of the largest-ever forest industry trade mission to China led by Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell. The volume for this agreement is mostly to be supplied by Tolko’s Quesnel operation. This latest agreement will be filled by other Tolko operations.

“The co-operation between the B.C. forest industry and governments to promote wood use in China are key to the success we’re seeing today,” said Tolko president and CEO Brad Thorlakson. “We look forward to a long relationship with China National Building Materials.”

These agreements are for spruce-pine-fir lumber in a full range of grades and dimensions. China National Building Materials will distribute the lumber throughout China for a range of end-uses including concrete forms, remanufactured products for the apartment decorating and furniture markets, structural framing, and re-roofing projects.

China is the fastest growing export market for Canadian wood products, with most of the lumber sourced from British Columbia. In 2009, B.C. lumber exports to China reached 1.63 billion board feet, double the volume of 2008, and valued at $327 million.

Exports to China in 2010 are off to an even faster start with lumber shipments to the end of March double what they were for the same three-month period in 2009.

Steve Rant - City of Williams Lake Community Profile

In most communities, a community profile, or a snapshot of what a community has to offer to potential investors, is a document created to showcase the very best that a community has to offer potential investors or those who want to move to a community from another location

See the City of Williams Lake Community Profile (updated February of 2010) here

However, it is generally noted that such a community profile has useful information and does not contain any errors (or as few as possible to ensure its' accuracy)

The City of Williams Lake recently updated its' community profile, as of February 2010 and like in 2009, it still contains several errors including:

i) Board Chair of the Cariboo Regional District - the City has Jon Wolbers listed as Board Chair, however it has been known since December of 2008 that Al Richmond (Area 'G' Director) has been and continues to be the CRD Board of Directors' Chair

ii) City Election - the City's community profile lists the next election as November of 2012, however the next election is November 19th, 2011. A simple call to Corporate Services staff would have prevented this error from being published

iii) Year of City Council Election - the City's community profile has it listed as 2009 when the elections' were last held on November 15th, 2008

iv) City Staff Listing and Staff Organization Chart is inaccurate - as my blog readers' know, the CAO is now Brian Carruthers not Alberto DeFeo, the City no longer has a "General Manager of Community Services", "Director of Corporate Services", "General Manager of Corporate Services", "General Manager of Development & Business Services". The City now has a "Manager of Legislative Services", "Director of Community Services and Financial Services" and a "General Manager of Planning & Operations"

Had the City taken the time to do these minor edits, by way of peer review, the City would have (and should have) a professionally-created document for use by potential investors and those who wish to relocate to the City

I should finally note that I have contacted Councillor Geoff Bourdon and asked him to work on this document to ensure that the next re-write of the City's Community Profile contains no errors. On October 12th, I contacted Councillor Bourdon with regard to the updated Community Profile as of September of 2009 and got nowhere with him (note - Geoff Bourdon chairs the Economic Development Portfolio at City Hall)

UPDATE - A blog reader has brought some additional errors in the City's Community Profile to my attention that I missed including:

* Incorrect Williams Lake Timberwolves website
* No website for the "Rush" radio station
* Tax Rates (Page 16 of Community Profile) is current of 2007 and the tax rate info is avaialbe for publication as of the 2009 taxation year
* Leading Employers (Page 16 of Community Profile) - Jackpine Forest Products no longer in operation as it declared bankruptcy just over a year ago

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Steve Rant - May 18th Committee of Whole Council Meeting

Having reviewed the Williams Lake Council "Committee of the Whole" Agenda for Tuesday, the following items stand out:

1) Update on Traffic Study for Prosperity Ridge

I hope that Council is able to make use of this information and move forward as the developer for the site, I'm sure, would like to maximize use of this site. But we'll have to see what the next steps are

2) False Alarm Bylaw - Public Education & Implementation

City of WL Staff envision the following timeline:

May 25th - approval of educational plan and timeline

May 26th - Begin Notification of primary groups/ businesses impacted via mail-out

a) Alarm companies
b) Required users of alarm monitoring
c) Insurance companies
d) RCMP / WLFD
e) Business Improvement Association
f) Chamber of Commerce

June 18th - False Alarm information session for invitation only / collect data from meeting

July 5th - Development of False Alarm Bylaw with input considered from invitation meeting

July 2009 - Open House for those previously invited and open to the public for consultation

August 2009 - Draft Bylaw for Councils review, including costs of implementation

September 2009 - Second Public Consultation session to display final draft before Council Vote

Other then the fact that the 1st Public Consultation Meeting on a False Alarm Bylaw in July (which I personally deplore as consultation on subjects as serious as this should take place in the months of January - June & September - December only and let's use the summer months to relax and enjoy the Cariboo-Chilcotin and not worry about local government business.)

Otherwise, if the public/invitation-only consultation sessions go well, then I think the False Alarm Bylaw could be a good news story for the City as it'll allow more appropriate use of RCMP resources.

3) Draft Motion on "Letter of Support - Provincial Health Minister's Report "Public Health Approach to Alcohol Policy"

Here's what Councillor Montoya's Portfolio has recommended on this topic:

"That Council receive the letter from the BC Coalition for Action on Alcohol Reform dated March 23, 2010 for information and a letter of support be provided recommending that the BC government exercise social responsibility by proposing new legislation to reduce the health and social harms caused by alcohol abuse in our communities be submitted by the Mayor on behalf of Council"

Now, if that looks to you "as clear as mud" then you're right however I think the motion should have read:

"That Council receive the letter from the BC Coalition for Action on Alcohol Reform dated March 23, 2010 for information and the Mayor provide a letter of support, on behalf of Council, recommending that the BC government exercise social responsibility by proposing new legislation to reduce the health and social harms caused by alcohol abuse in our communities"

However, I will say that the motion regardless should identify where the letter of support is going and hopefully at the Committee of the Whole, this will be rectified

Friday, May 14, 2010

Local Government Meetings in Cariboo-Chilcotin - Week of May 17-21

There are a number of local government meetings in the Cariboo-Chilcotin this upcoming week:

Monday, May 17th - City of Quesnel

Committee of the Whole Meeting & Public Hearing (Bylaw #1676 - Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets). Meeting starts at 7:00pm in Quesnel Council Chambers

The Agenda/Reports are here

Tuesday, May 18th - City of Williams Lake

Committee of the Whole Meeting. Meeting starts at 6:30pm in Committee Room #1 at WL City Hall.

The Agenda/Reports are here

Wednesday, May 19th - Central Cariboo/City of Williams Lake Joint Committee

Regular Meeting. Meeting starts at 5:0opm in the CRD Boardroom

Agenda as follows:

1) Adopt April 29th Central Cariboo Joint Committee Minutes
2) Report of CRD Manager of Community Services - Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Stakeholder Working Group
3) Report of CRD Manager of Community Services - Esler Sports Complex Commission Minutes along with Capital Projects & Appointments
4) Report of City of WL Director of Community Services - WL Timberwolves Debt Settlement Agreement
5) Report from Councillor SPS Rathor & Area 'F' Alternate Director J. Sorley - Central Cariboo Recreation Advisory Committee
6) Consideration of April 28th Mins - Central Cariboo Recreation Advisory Committee
7) Report from CRD Executive Assistant - Climate Action Boot Camp
8) Report from CRD Executive Assistant - Joint CRD/City of WL Fee-for-Service Policy
9) Report from CRD Executive Assistant - Sustainability Forum
10) Consideration of Action Page
11) Discussion on Terms of Reference for Central Cariboo & City of Williams Lake Joint Committee

Thursday, May 20th - CRD Board of Directors'

Regular Meeting #7 - 2010. Meeting starts at 9:30am in the CRD Boardroom

The Agenda/Reports are here

Breaking News - BC Government releases HST Taxable Products/Services List

Earlier today, the Williams Lake Tribune has an article on a published HST Taxable Products/Services, as published by the Government of BC

See the Tribune article here

See the HST Taxable list for products/services here

2 Local Governments in the Cariboo-Chilcotin receive Infrastructure Planning Grants

The City of Quesnel and the District of 100 Mile House received Infrastructure Planning Grants from the Province of BC. See below for the amounts and purposes of the grants:

City of Quesnel - Sustainable Capacity of Well Fields and GUDI Study – $10,000

The purpose of this project is to evaluate the long-term pumping capacity of each of the seven production wells Quesnel operates and assess potential vulnerability from surface water. Information from this assessment will be used to update the Water Conservation Strategy and establish baseline conditions for long-term asset management of the water system.

District of 100 Mile House - Water Supply Pipeline Preliminary Design Study – $10,000

A 2008 water supply study showed that the quality and reliability of water supplied to 100 Mile House could be improved by taking water directly out of Horse Lake rather than from Bridge Creek. The addition of a dedicated watermain from Horse Lake to the 100 Mile House water treatment facility will also provide a safer, more reliable water source for the District of 100 Mile House.

BC Ministry of Environment issues early warning about water levels in Chimney Lake System

The BC Environment Ministry is warning residents' in the Chimney Lake area about low water levels

More here

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Arts and Culture, WL City Councillor Laurie Walters and Hypocrisy

On Friday, April 2nd, the Georgia Straight, a Vancouver publication, published an article on the BC Liberal provincial government criticizing them for slashing support for arts and culture while local governments in the Metro Vancouver area increasing support for Arts and Culture. You can view the article here

It should be noted that the Straight has never written anything in support of the BC Liberals'

However, on Monday, April 12th, our local City Councillor Laurie Walters wrote a comment on the Straight's arts and culture article, which was:

Hello,

I am a City Councillor from Williams Lake BC. Arts and Culture is part of my portfolio
Just recently the Cariboo Regional District and City of Williams Lake formed an Arts and Culture function. Residents of Areas D,E and F of the Cariboo Regional District are taxed (works out to be approx $6.00 per $100,000 assessed property value). Our Municipality and surrounding communities are taking action and GROWING arts and culture because unlike the Provincial government they appreciate the value of having a vibrant, distinctive and strong arts and culture presence and what it can do for their communities.


If you are interested in learning more about the Central Cariboo Arts & Culture Function please feel free to e-mail me at lwalters@williamslake.ca

Well - there are so many inaccuracies, I just don't know where to start....but if a City Councillor is going to comment on an article, he/she should come out and tell the truth and not half-truths

1) In 2010 - the Arts and Culture Function will cost the tax payers' in the City of Williams Lake and CRD Electoral Areas D, E, F just over $5 per $100,000 in assessment and not $6/$100,000 in assessment until 2011 (assuming the 2011 Budget for the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Function is approved)

2) When she criticizes the provincial government on lack of support for Arts & Culture, but states the Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts (Hon. Kevin Krueger) was thrilled with the local CRD Arts and Culture Function, then then it is called one thing - hypocrisy.

3) It should be also noted almost after 2 Years of adoption of the Function (and some would suggest that they were deceived into accepting this tax - ask Area 'D' & Area 'E' taxpayers'), there is no plan on how this Function will operate. The Plan should be developed and approved prior to voters' being asked to consent to taxation for the Arts and Culture Function

It should be further noted that local governments in this area still operate on a principle of "ask first and answer questions later". It is my view that taxpayers' want to see a full picture of why long term borrowing is necessary or why a new local service (CRD Function) tax is necessary before voters' approve or reject these requests

After all, it is in keeping with a democratic, open and transparent local government. Why I'm not going directly to Councillor Walters, I would except she and her fellow Councillors Geoff Bourdon and Natalie Montoya seem to have this idea that they can pick and choose whose emails that respond to

It should noted at March's 24th Central Cariboo Joint Committee - the CRD Area 'D' Director, Deb Bischoff, asked for permission to withdraw Area 'D' out of the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Function, Councillors' Laurie Walters, Geoff Bourdon and Sue Zacharias and the CRD Director for Area 'E' & the Alternate Director for Area 'F' all acted like "thugs" and "bullies" toward Director Bischoff instead of treating the simple request like it was like reasonable adults

Councillors' Walters, Bourdon and Montoya don't seem a need to respond to my emails or letters which is wrong because they should respond, regardless of whether the email or letter writer asked for a response. Again, it is the right, proper and democratic thing to do

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Steve Rant - Outcome of May 11th WL Council Meeting

Last night, WL Council was set to approve a request from City Staff for allocating up to $750 for a sign to the "Nathan Matthews Skateboard Park" which is located inside Boitanio Park

However, Councillor Barr objected as his Portfolio had not yet reviewed this financial request. Of course, this is City Policy - all financial requests are to be reviewed by the Finance Portfolio to ensure they comply with the approved City Budget. Councillor's Barr concern includes whether or not the CRD's Central Cariboo Recreation Budget should properly pay for this sign.

I agree wholeheartedly with Tom Barr. I find it regrettable that Mayor Cook allowed this request to get this far with Council. If she was doing her job and presumably she and the City CAO (Brian Carruthers) review the entire Agenda, then she would have been told all financial requests are to be reviewed by the Finance Portfolio to ensure that they comply with the approved City Budget, prior to Council considering said financial request(s).

Also -- on the procedural matter of a request to refer to Portfolio, this is a typical request and one that Mayor Cook should know how to handle (she served previously as a City Councillor between 1996-1999) and for her last night to ask "What should we do?" tells the public (when they watch this Council meeting on Shaw Cable 10) and myself that she is truly inexperienced and she wasn't really ready to be Mayor

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Premier Campbell fires back at Bill Vander Zalm and Anti-HST Campaign

The Globe and Mail is running an article on BC Premier Gordon Campbell critizing the anti-HST movement and former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm

More here

WL Council Meeting Highlights - May 11th, 2010

Present: Mayor Cook and Councillors Rathor, Montoya, Barr, Walters, Bourdon and Zacharias

Staff Present:

Brian Carruthers - CAO
Cindy Bouchard - Manager of Legislative Services
Geoff Goodall - General Manager of Planning & Operations
Tom Chung - IT Manager
Lilliana Dragowska - Planner

Minutes from April 20th, 2010 meeting approved

Delegations/Presentations:

1) Staff Sgt Warren Brown (Detachment Commander, Williams Lake RCMP) & Dave Dickson (Safer Communities Coordinator) on Crime Stats

Staff Sgt Brown & Dave Dickson (Safer Communities Coordinator) presented WL Council with the Annual Performance Plan for 2010-2011, crime stats covering the period Jan 1 – March 31, 2008-2010 and community policing stats to date. See the presentation here

2) Mayor Cook presented Williams Lake Fire Chief Randy Isfeld, Emergency Social Services Coordinator Dave Dickson and Deputy ESS Coordinator Angela Cail with the Justice Institute of BC Foundation Heroes & Rescue Award for 2009

3) Carrie Sundahl (Project Manager – Communities that Care) re: Mark Totten Workshop on Preventing High Risk Behaviour

Ms. Sundahl presented WL Council with information on the upcoming Mark Totten workshop to prevent high-risk behaviour The workshop will be held on Thursday, May 13th in Williams Lake City Council Chambers from 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Business:

1) Council agreed to adopt Central Cariboo Joint Committee Report #6-2010. Joint Committee Report #6-2010 is in regards to a feasibility study for an Indoor Turf Facility in the Williams Lake area. The feasibility report will now be referred to different communities groups for input prior to the Central Cariboo Joint Committee determining next steps on a Indoor Turf Facility
2) Council referred the expenditure of up to $750 to purchase new memorial signage for the Nathan Matthews Memorial Skate Park in Boitanio Park to the Finance Portfolio for consideration
3) Council approved the 2009 Audited Financial Statements
4) Council received for information a report from the CAO on an agreement between Interior Roads and Laker Go-Bus Society which will see the Transit Bus Fleet stored at the local Interior Roads facility, rather than at the City’s Public Works Yard
5) Council gave 3 readings to Traffic Control Amendment Bylaw No. 2117, 2010 which will allow for sidewalk and road cafes
6) Council referred DVP #1-2010 to the City’s Advisory Planning Commission for comment/recommendations prior to Council considering the DVP at its’ May 25th, 2010 meeting
7) Council declared Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010 as Free Transit Day in Williams Lake, in recognition of Clear Air Week in June
8) Council approved the KidSport Classic Half Marathon, 21 km Relay/Run and 10.5 km Recreational Walk/Run route
9) Council adopted the following Bylaws:

• Bylaw #2109, 2010 – 2010 Property Tax Rates (Councillor Rathor was opposed)
• Bylaw #2091, 2010 – Council Procedure Bylaw (Amendment Bylaw)
• Bylaw #2116, 2010 – Zoning Amendment Bylaw

10) Council adopted a number of recommendations from previous Committee of the Whole meetings:

• Council will refer to "The Accessible Community Bylaws Guide" published by Sparc BC in September 2009 when looking at bylaws in the future; and further, that the "Guide" was referred to the Bylaw Review Committee for consideration
• The Draft Secondary Suite Policy was amended to include:

• permitting alternate life safety standards,
• establishing complaint-based enforcement approaches, and
• setting utility fees at 20% of residential rates for single family homes;

and further, Staff were directed to provide homeowners with amnesty from inspection fees for a 12 month period from the implementation date of the Policy and proceed with a broad public engagement process to collect public input and educate and inform the community regarding suites and the importance of ensuring the safety of all secondary suites.
• Council received the second draft of the Residential Development Suitability Maps for information and review and Staff were directed to schedule a Public Open House in Council Chambers on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

11) Council gave approval to place an advertisement in the Williams Lake Tribune 2010 Edition of "Casual Country" in the amount of $427 for a half page placement.
12) Council received for information the CRD Board Highlights from its’ April 30th, 2010 meeting
13) Council received the minutes from the April 29th, 2010 Central Cariboo/City of Williams Lake Joint Committee meeting. The recommendations contained in the minutes were endorsed
14) Council proclaimed the following events in Williams Lake:

• Access Awareness Day – Saturday, June 15th, 2010
• Local Government Awareness Week – May 17th to 21st, 2010 (There are multiple events planned on May 18th in the City Open House at City Hall, Tour of City Water System, Tour of new Fire Hall. Councillor Walters & City Staff to speak to local service clubs)
• Missing Child’s Month – May 2010
• Missing Child’s Day – May 25th, 2010
• Mining Week – May 9th – 15th, 2010

15) Council awarded the Pavement Rehabilitation Contract for the Mackenzie Avenue reconstruction project to Peters Bros. Construction Ltd. for a total of $7,650,735.40, excluding GST. This project also includes work on Cameron Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues and Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure work on Dog Creek & Likely Roads and Highway 20

City of WL Public Hearing on Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2116

Present:

Mayor Cook (Chair), Councillors Rathor, Montoya, Barr, Walters, Bourdon and Zacharias

Staff Present:

Brian CarruthersCAO
Cindy Bouchard - Manager of Legislative Services
Tom Chung – IT Manager
Geoff Goodall – GM of Planning & Operations
Lilliana Dragowska – Planner

Public Hearing called to order at 7:00pm

The Manager of Legislative Services described the purpose & intent of Zoning Bylaw #2116, 2010

Mayor Cook reviewed the protocol relating to a Public Hearing

Mayor Cook called 3 times for any individual who wishes to speak for or against Bylaw #2116. No one came forward

Council then agreed to close the Public Hearing on Bylaw #2116 and refer the Bylaw to the Regular Council Meeting to be held later this evening

Public Hearing adjourned at 7:05pm

Steve Rant - Vetting of City of WL Press Releases by other parties/groups

Earlier today, the Williams Lake Tribune published a letter to the editor that I authored criticizing use of language in a City of Williams Lake sponsored press release (or what I believed at the time to be a City of Williams Lake media release). You can see that letter to the editor here

Upon reading this, Brian Carruthers (City of WL CAO) responded to me personally by stating the following:

"This release was prepared and issued by the WL Cycling Club. They requested a quote from the Mayor and then issued the release as a Joint Media Release. The City did not produce that release and I am trying to track down how they ended up with our logo on it"

My question is -

Why didn't the City follow-up immediately with the WL Cycling Club and ask why they took their press release and turned into a Joint Press Release without prior authorization, instead of going after an individual who only criticized his local elected officials?

I've said for months that communications efforts out of Williams Lake City Hall have been "amateurish" at best and this particular fiasco only serves to strengthen this point

North Cariboo beats Central Cariboo 2nd year in a row on "Move for Health" Day

The City of Quesnel has just released stats that confirms that North Cariboo residents' are more motivated for health then Central Cariboo residents'.

So once again, the City of Quesnel flag will fly at Williams Lake City Hall

More here

Congrats to City of Quesnel on renovated Fraser River Foot Bridge




In the "positive" news department:
The City of Quesnel recently finished renovating their Fraser River Foot Bridge and did a excellent job at the renovations. The budget for this project was from City of Quesnel taxpayers' and Western Economic Diversification




Clarification: Blog Post - Lack of Recycling Services in the City of WL/CRD

Yesterday, I blogged on the fact that Brian Stefan is providing a bin to recycle glass at his business and at his expense and it's true that this is a good thing but I criticized the City and CRD for relying on a local business to provide this service when the local government should be providing this service. See the blog post here

To which I received the following comment:

What is wrong with you. You bitch about the City doing everything and then, when a great citizen takes it upon himself to help out and be a "good citizen" this is the City's fault. Seriously, it no wonder you never get elected for anything.

Obviously, I categorically reject the poster's assertion. First of all, the providing of recycling services and solid waste collection is a basic service to be provided by the local government (City of WL/CRD in partnership). After all, this is what taxpayers' expect when they send their tax dollars' to their local government, and not by local business, who already pay a fair sum of taxes and shouldn't be forced to pay for a basic public service out of their own back pocket. In fact, some may call this "double taxation", pay once for the provision of City services and then pay again for services that the City doesn't provide but saw a need for said service (again, good on them for doing that but could set a precedent where the City of WL or CRD might cancel basic services on the grounds that local business or groups will step in to fill the gap)

As far as not getting elected for anything, well....there is a time and place for that particular debate and that will be on November 19th, 2011 (next local government election) and if he/she doesn't like my views on matters in the City, then he/she is free to run a campaign to ensure I don't get elected to City Council in 2011

Quesnel Council Meeting Highlights - May 10th, 2010

Present:

Mayor Sjostrom and Councillors Couldwell, Roodenburg, Thapar, and Oakes

Absent:

Councillors Ron Paull & Mike Cave

Staff Present:

Byron Johnson – City Manager
Lori Scott – Deputy City Manager
Kari Bolton- Director of Finance & Administration
Matt Wood - Communications Supervisor
Harlene Hunt – Transportation Manager
Tanya Turner - Planner

Meeting called to order at 7:00pm

Delegation Session – Acting Mayor S. Thapar in the Chair:

1) Jerry Van Halderen - Quesnel Flying Club

Mr. Van Halderen gave Council an update on the SkyFest 2010 Event

A Question and Answer Period ensued

Chair Thapar thanked Mr. Van Halderen for his presentation

Delegation Session ended at 7:14pm

Regular Council Meeting – Mayor Sjostrom in the Chair

Meeting called to order at 7:14pm
Invocation (Opening Prayer) given by Councillor P. Couldwell

Council Agenda with late items approved

Council Minutes of April 26th, Public Input Session Minutes (Wood First Bylaw) of April 26th and Special Open Council Minutes of May 3rd received and adopted

Business:

1) Mayor Sjostrom reported on the April 30th CRD Board meeting
2) Acting Mayor Sushil Thapar reported on the May 3rd Delegation Session
3) Council received the Wednesday, April 14th meeting minutes of the Quesnel Museum & Heritage Commission
4) Council gave an exemption to the Local Government Act requirement for 10% of the perimeter requirement for subdivision application number S2009-67 to permit a frontage of 20 metres for Proposed Remainder of Lot 1, District Lot 6682, Cariboo District, Plan 31935
5) Council gave 3 readings to Bylaw #1680 and 1681 of 2010 (West Quesnel Land Stability Program Reserve and Temporary Borrowing)
6) Council received the Account Payable Cheque List
7) Council received the Building Inspector Stats for April 2010 & April 2009
8) Council reviewed items from the “Council Information Package”
9) Council declared Saturday, June 5th 2010 as Access Awareness Day in the City of Quesnel
10)Council received an letter regarding the Order of BC.
11) Council received a letter from the Quesnel Downtown Association and gave permission for the holding of the SkyFest 2010 support event. Public Works to coordinate on behalf of the City.

12) Council gave adoption to the following Bylaws:

i) Bylaw # 1675 – Quesnel Wood First
ii) Bylaw # 1677 - Red Bluff Lhtako Band Fire Protection
iii) Bylaw # 1678 – 5 Year Financial Plan (2010-2014)
iv) Bylaw # 1679 – 2010 Tax Rates

Mayor Sjostrom noted future Council meetings in the month of May:

May 17th – Public Hearing (OCP Amendment Bylaw #1676) and Regular Council Meeting
May 31st – Regular Council Meeting

Council members reviewed various events in Quesnel or issues/events important to them

Meeting adjourned at 7:45pm

Tuesday News Round-up

In the WL Tribune today:

* Visit by former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm on his Anti-HST Tour - more here

In the Vancouver Sun today:

* Vaughn Palmer (Political Columnist) talks about a possible recall campaign against Premier Gordon Campbell in his electoral district of Vancouver-Point Grey. More here

In the Vancouver Province today:

* Micheal Smyth (Political Columnists) talks about kids' clothing and the HST. More here

Monday, May 10, 2010

Steve Rant - Lack of Recycling Services provided by the City of WL/CRD

Over at the "Welcome to Williams Lake" website (http://www.welcometowilliamslake.ca), they have an article on Brian Stefan (local Canadian Tire owner) providing both glass bins for recycling and tire bins for recycling. On this issue, it really is shameful that the City/CRD jointly doesn't provide this service and the residents' depend on a business owner to provide these bins at his expense, when this is something local government should be providing, has the budget for and the space at the local Central Cariboo Transfer Station

The article in question is here

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Indoor Turf Facility in Williams Lake and area

Recently, the Central Cariboo Joint Committee, which is made up of all of Williams Lake City Council and the CRD Directors' for Areas D, E, F, J and K, endorsed-in-principle the idea of an indoor turf facility in the Central Cariboo region. Locations under consideration include:

* former Poplar Glade property
* Esler Soccer fields
* TRU property
* Diarylands (down by former Jackpine Engineering Wood Products property)

This item has been referred to different community groups for input

You can read more on this here

As well, Council will be considering a report on Tuesday to allocate $750 for a sign at the new "Nathan Matthews Skateboard Park" within Boitanio Park

You can read more on this here

City of WL being sued on a Retaining Wall Issue

Although this is not in the public realm (ie - media hasn't reported on this yet) but in the 2009 Audited Financial Statements for the City of Williams Lake, the Auditors' note that in the last quarter of 2009, the City of Williams Lake was named as a defendant in a Statement of Claim regarding the design and construction of a retaining wall. The claim amount is undetermined at this time

Like the Cariboo Regional District, the City of Williams Lake should as soon as reasonably possible must notify its' residents that it is facing a lawsuit and the general reasons why.

Not to do sure promotes reactive communications and residents are entitled to proactive and straight-forward communications especially on sensitive matters like emergencies and lawsuits where residents' must have information provided to them in a timely matter. Again - that is the hallmark of serving the public and not Council serving itself and its' needs