Monday, January 31, 2011

City of WL CAO on New City of WL Fire Department Pick-up Truck

As many of you may have seen in the community - the City's Fire Department recently acquired a new Dodge pick-up truck.  The City of WL CAO (Brian Carruthers), over at his blog, explains the necessity for this

See here

Quesnel Winter Carnival on Saturday

If you ever needed a good reason to get out and enjoy the winter weather, the third annual Quesnel Winter Carnival is it. The celebration of all things winter takes place at the West Fraser Timber Park on Saturday Feb. 5, starting at 1 p.m.

The Winter Carnival encourages active living through cold-weather sports. Come out and cross country ski, snowshoe, toboggan, and skate – borrow ours if you don’t have your own.

The Quesnel and District Community Arts Council’s contribution this year has greatly expanded the arts aspect of the carnival. Join in hands-on arts activities, such as making prints, snow sculptures, snow paintings, and fabric art, all with the help of talented local artists.

You may choose to also take in the dog sled demonstration, a scrimmage between the Ladies Ice Hockey Golddiggers and the Icemen, or show off your skills at the Goalie Shootout.

New this year is an Adult Winter Fun Challenge. Enter the casual challenge by completing three of five winter activities. Prizes have been donated by local organizations and businesses. Other features include an open house at the Nature Centre, nature booths, and making your own bannock and s’mores.

Dress warmly, and don’t forget to bring headwear for the Crazy Toque contest. Bring your favourite toque from home (limited quantities will also be on sale at the event). The winter celebration caps off with fireworks at 5:30 p.m.

To help everyone join the fun, Quesnel Transit buses will stop outside West Fraser Timber Park on Saturday. For more information, call 250-992-8200, or visit or the Quesnel Winter Carnival page on Facebook - see here

Sunday, January 30, 2011

George Abbott & BC Liberal Party proposed Leadership Voting Rules

In his column today, Vancouver Province political columnist Mike Smyth reviews what former BC Minister of State (Mental Health) Dr. Gulzar Cheema (Mike De Jong supporter) thinks should happen to the proposed BC Liberal Party Leadership Voting rules & why the George Abbott camp is extremely worried - see here

Blogger Brian Kieran looks at this issue as well and gives his take on it  - see here

Saturday, January 29, 2011

One Taxpayer's Concern at WL City Hall (Updated)

Yesterday, after I blogged on Cliff Wyatt's full-page ad in the Williams Lake Tribune Weekend on snow removal services, I received the following comment and I'd thought I would share it with everybody.  I'm also going to look into this poster's concern over possible lost Tourism dollars


UPDATE - UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities) reports that a Phase 2 Tourism Grant the City of Williams Lake received last year has not reported out by the required date of August 31st, 2010 and has not formally asked for an extension and if it doesn't report by Monday or ask for an extension by then, then it'll lose $20,958.57.  Again - voters' in Williams Lake should ask where Mayor Cook and WL Council's priorities are.... and how they could allow Staff not ensuring it reports on use of UBCM funds and also ensuring we get the full 100% grant, rather than 75%.  Will taxpayers' have to pay money back if we don't get the full 100% grant for whatever tourism project the UBCM's $83,674.28 went towards??

I think we can add snow removal to the list of a drop in services. In light of the Fire Hall cost overruns I thought I would try and get a bit more informed with our local government and what is happening within the City of Williams Lake. I took the opportunity to read the council agenda and then review the outcome.
I have to say I am now really concerned about what is happening. Where as I tend to be apolitical by nature I think someone needs to step in and review the city's operations.
First off I am confused as to how the City could just allow an outside party to have complete say into a capital project funded by the taxpayers....isn't that what got Jack in trouble when he bought those beans. I agree with a previous post in wondering what exactly happened in the meetings when all the senior staff met weekly to discuss the project. Now to find out that the project was 3/4 of a million dollars over in costs....that has to be way more then just a "calculating error on soil removal". Someone is not being up front and transparent to the taxpayers.
I then noticed on the agenda a report brought forward from staff asking that they be provided a higher per diem for travel. I was shocked as most people in the region are with out jobs or working at substandard wages City staff felt they should be given more money for their travel. I looked at the communities they compared WL too and was shocked even further in that they compared us to communities that are bigger or have a bigger tax base...who makes those decisions and shame on you who ever did.
Further on down the line I noticed a letter to City Council outlining the status of grants awarded to the City of Williams Lake. One of them was for Tourism and according to the report the deadline for a report to be submitted is now 8 months overdue and if not submitted by January 31, 2011 we will lose over $80,000. I thought the need to diversify our economy was a priority, yet the City let this money slip away. The letter went on to indicate that the City did not even pay the courtesy of asking for an extension. If the City was not going to act upon the grant they applied for they should have informed someone so someone else could use the funds. This to me presents egg on our face....and that in light of what has been happening in our beautiful City is not something we need.
Why was staff's priority putting effort into a report that would give them more money and not a report that would further the City's tourism concerns. Hats off to Council for rejecting the recommendation for an increase in per diems and in particular to Councillor Rathor for continuing to ask for accountability. A bit of concern expressed to Mayor Cook and Councillor Hebert who feel it unnecessary to review the misplaced priorities and the fire hall over runs. Now all of current Council should ask themselves if you are sensitive to what the community is going through and are you representing your constituents in the best way possible. It is one thing trusting staffs recommendations it is another thing following them with blind faith. Taxpayers only have the power to hold you accountable.

Friday, January 28, 2011

WL Council "In a Vacuum" over Snow Removal....?

This past Tuesday, WL Council received an update from the City's Director of Municipal Services on Snow Removal Procedures.  The City of WL CAO also commenting that residents of Williams Lake need to temper their expectation for snow removal, given the amount of snow that came down in a short period

Mayor Cook then went on the Rush this past Thursday, during their "Town Hall" program singing the praises of City Staff on the great job they're doing on Snow Removal

However on Friday - Cliff Wyatt, in a unprecedented move, took out a full 1 page ad in the Williams Lake Tribune Weekend slamming the City of WL over its' snow removal procedures in the downtown core and expressing frustration that he can't access downtown businesses (you can find the advertisement on Page A29 in Friday's Tribune Weekend).  I've also been the recipient of several frustrations expressed by local residents' over poor snow removal over on Cameron St and asking if they can bill the City for salt they've had to purchase, in order to get their vehicles out of their parking spots and get mobile - I've stated you can try but you're likely to find the City will not reimburse you for your costs for salt, etc

Again - City Staff/WL Council really need to sit down with the public over snow removal procedures when the winter season is over so all (the public) understand what the City is capable of on snow removal and how to make the snow removal service the very best it can be

In the meantime - if you find the snow removal service to be lacking and wish to complain, you can contact the following persons:

Kevin Goldfuss (Director of Municpal Services) Ph - 392-2311 or email:

Sue Zacharias (City Councillor/Chair of Planning & Ops Council Committee) Ph - 989-0310 or

Kerry Cook (City of WL Mayor) Ph - 398-7213 or

Anyone wishing to contact the Mayor directly via cell can contact me at (250) - 303-0951 or and I'll provide them with the information


Local Government Meetings in Cariboo-Chilcotin - Week of Jan 31st - Feb 4th

There are a few local gov't meetings occuring in the Cariboo-Chilcotin this upcoming week:

Monday, Jan 31st - City of Quesnel

3pm Budget Meeting to review the Draft 2011 Operating Budget.  Meeting will be held in Quesnel Council Chambers

Agenda is:




Monday, Jan 31st - Cariboo Regional District

Area 'G' and 'C' Town Hall Meetings:

Area 'G' - 6pm at the Lac La Hache Community Hall
Area 'C' - 6pm at the Barlow Creek Fire Hall

Tuesday, Feb 1st - City of Williams Lake

Regular Committee of the Whole Meeting which starts at 6pm in Committee Room #1 at WL City Hall

See the Agenda/Reports here

Thursday, Feb 3rd - Cariboo Regional District

Wells Town Hall Meeting which starts at 6pm in Wells Council Chambers

City of WL Building Inspector position is open

From the City of Williams Lake:

The City of Williams Lake is working to fill the position of building inspector, which becomes vacant next week. The City is looking to hire a Level 3 Registered Building Official.

While the position is vacant, building inspection services will be provided by the Cariboo Regional District.

However, anyone requiring these services is asked to contact the City as usual, and the City will put them in contact with the CRD. Please call Development Services Coordinator Linda Evans at 392-1765 to access Building Inspection Services.

Note - Given the number of staff turnover (4) at WL City Hall over the last little while - I'm concerned about Staff Morale, but hopefully this is just simply a short-term problem and not indicative of bigger problems on the horizon

CRD Chair Al Richmond

Last night, I had the opportunity to have a phone conservation with CRD Chair Al Richmond over publication of the Central Cariboo Joint Committee Agendas.  He genuinely heard my concerns and agreed to work with CRD Staff to ensure that this is done.  He also stated that the Cariboo Regional District has plans to ensure all Joint Committee Agendas are published - in North, Central and South

I publicly want to thank Al Richmond for his assistance in this regard and I would encourage anyone who has a concern about the Cariboo Regional District to contact him by email or phone (his number is in the phonebook).  You will find him to be open to your concern(s) and he will tell you when the CRD can not help you and who to contact who can best address your concern.  I also find a substantive majority of the 16 CRD Directors' act in the same way


City of WL Public Consultation Meetings' wrap up

Last night, the City of WL hosted its' 2nd and final public meeting on amendments to the City's Noise & Nuisance Bylaws

Six people, including former City of WL Mayor Scott Nelson, showed up to express concerns how the bylaw amendments and the requirements of the Residential Tenancy Act would impede their ability to comply.  Both Geoff Goodall (GM of Planning and Operations) and Brad McRae (Senior Bylaw Officer) provided clarification where they could.  Scott Nelson suggested to the attendees that they appear as a delegation when this subject comes back to Council and all agreed with this suggestion.  Mr. Goodall and Mr. McRae took their email addresses and will let them know when this matter will next go to Committee of the Whole

With that, Brad McRae will now report back to Council, in Committee of the Whole, on both of the public consultation meetings - Increases to Traffic Fines & 2 Amendments to City's Noise/Nuisance Bylaws

The report could be tabled with Council as early as its' Feb 15th Committee of the Whole meeting.

My take -

1) City Staff will recommend to WL Council that they proceed with the increases to the Traffic Fines as no one showed up to express concerns on the increases to the Traffic Fines

2) Council will hear from landlords over the two amendments to the City's Noise/Nuisance Bylaws (when the subject comes up at a future Committee of the Whole meeting) and depending on what they tell WL Council, that will dictate how fast or slow Council directs Staff to proceed with the amendments

Stay tuned!!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Steve Rant - new BC NDP Attack Ad

Yesterday, the BC NDP recently released an online ad suggesting that the current BC Liberal Party Leadership hopefuls of Christy Clark, Kevin Falcon, Mike De Jong, Ed Mayne, Dr. Moira Stilwell and George Abbott are nothing more than a bunch of "Gordon Campbell wannabes"

See the YouTube video ad here and judge it for yourself

But with the next scheduled Provincial General Election not until May of 2013 - one must think that the BC NDP are extremely worried of losing the 2013 Election, given they have a strong NDP Candidate in Mike Farnworth, but we'll all see in April who becomes the next BC NDP Leader/Leader of the Official Opposition

I'd point out that Christy Clark wasn't in government when the HST Decision was made and as far as BC Rail goes - the people had two, count them, two times to render a judgement on the provincial government of the day in 2005 and 2009 on BC Rail and both times it resulted in the BC Liberals being re-elected.  I think the people of BC are very smart and intelligent voters


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Public Consultion Meetings - City of WL

A reminder that the City of Williams Lake will be hosting a Public Info Meeting at 6pm tonight on changes to parking fines.  The meeting will be in WL Council Chambers

Also, tomorrow (Thursday) at 6pm, also in WL Council Chambers, a Public Info Meeting will be held to discuss changes to the Nuisance and Noise Bylaws. 

I encourage all in the City of Williams Lake - if you're concerned about increasing parking fines or changes to Nuisance or Noise Bylaws.  Come and provide your input.  It does matter!!


Quesnel Sports Hall of Fame to honour inductees

The Quesnel Sports Hall of Fame will officially welcome its sixth class of inductees on Friday Feb. 4 at its annual induction ceremonies. Seven people, plus one ringette team, make up the class of 2010.
The event begins at 6 p.m. at the Quesnel and District Arts & Recreation Centre with the Quesnel Art Gallery Art from the Heart Group Show Opening of “My Heart Sings . . .” and a reception. The Hall of Fame ceremony begins at 7 p.m. Admission to the event is free.

“Our local athletes continue to compete strongly at the local, provincial national and international level,” said Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom. “On behalf of City Council, I applaud their successes and thank the parents and volunteers who continue to foster athletic success in our community.”

“On behalf of the Cariboo Regional District, I applaud all of our athletes and volunteers from the north Cariboo who have the distinct honour of being inducted into the Quesnel Sports Hall of Fame for 2010,” says CRD Vice‐Chair Ted Armstrong. “We are very proud of their accomplishments and how they have admirably represented Quesnel and the north Cariboo through athletic endeavours. I wish all of you the best of luck for continued success.”

Joining the Hall of Fame this year are: Sharon Chow, Outstanding Contribution to Athletic Development; Liz‐Anne Eyford, Outstanding Athletic Career; and Shaelynne Macauley, Kieron Langan, Ryan Appenrodt, Brianne Foley, Wayne Schaefer and the Quesnel U16 Junior A Ringette team for Outstanding Athletic Achievement. Previous Hall of Fame inductees Samantha Wright, Sydney Watson, Cathy Schaefer, Michael Wright and Jonathan Schaefer will also be recognized for their outstanding athletic performances in 2010.

This event is funded by the City of Quesnel, the Cariboo Regional District, the Province of British Columbia, the Assembly of British Columbia Art Councils and the Quesnel and District Community Arts Council.
The Quesnel Sports Hall of Fame takes nominations throughout the year in each of three categories, Outstanding Athletic Achievement, Outstanding Contribution to Athletic Development and Outstanding Athletic Career. The North Cariboo Recreation and Parks Commission evaluates potential inductees.

City of WL ask public to comment on new Draft OCP

City wants to hear from residents about draft Official Community Plan

At the Regular Council meeting on Tuesday January 25, 2010, City staff presented a draft of the Creating Our Future – Draft Official Community Plan for community review and comments. After a two-year “Imagine Our Future” process, many public engagement events, comments, community, staff and Council workshops, Council and staff are very excited to share this new document with the community.
In the summer of 2010 Council approved the Imagine Our Future –Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) as the overarching document for the City that will guide the development of other policies, plans, projects, practices and procedures. With the ICSP adopted by Council, staff and the consulting team have been working to translate the Imagine Our Future transition strategies into the policies of the Official Community Plan (OCP) to ensure land use planning is aligned with the long term vision of the community.

“Many ideas and topic we have heard from the community in the last two years are contained in this document in some form or another” says Councillor Geoff Bourdon, who read the entire document in an evening on his laptop. “Now it is time to find out if the community feels the same way.”

Mayor Kerry Cook says, “This document effects everyone in the community, and it is important to ensure that everyone knows about it and that it represents the direction our community members envision for Creating Our Future.”

The City of Williams Lake wants to hear from you! In the coming months staff will be planning activities that will provide an opportunity for members of the community to be aware of the Draft Official Community Plan, provide feedback, and work to create a responsive citizen-centered system. Ultimately, members of the community will share in the challenges of implementation and take pride in the successful implementation of the new Official Community Plan

What is the Purpose of the OCP?

The OCP serves as a foundation for all policies, regulations, and decisions pertaining to land use and development in a municipality. The Plan provides guidance for economic, environmental, physical design and development, and social considerations. It promotes quality of life, future growth, community development, economic, environmental and social well-being, provision of amenities and services, and transportation systems envisioned by the community.

The OCP is intended to provide a degree of certainty for the future of our community. As a result, it is expected that revisions will not be made on a frequent basis but the Plan must be flexible in responding to changing conditions and values. This version of the OCP is expected to guide the City up to 2016. At that time, the Plan may be reviewed and updated as necessary.

How Can I Read the Draft OCP?

The Draft Official Community Plan can be downloaded from the City’s Web Site or or you can contact Ken MacInnis at 250-392-8488 to request a hard copy. Watch for discussions on the City’s Imagine Our Future Facebook page. “We’re interested in both your comments on, and your questions about the Draft Official Community Plan,” says Liliana Dragowska, ICSP coordinator for the City of Williams Lake.

European Art DVD Series at Quesnel Arts & Rec Center Artrium

Quesnel & District Leisure Services will start A History of European Art DVD series, showing at the Arts and Recreation Centre’s Artrium, Sunday Feb. 6 at 1 p.m. Every Sunday the series will survey the great monuments of European painting, sculpture, and architecture from the age of Charlemagne to the onset of World War II.

The major works by the greatest visual artists of a millennium of Western civilization will be examined, including extensive considerations of such important artists as Giotto, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Monet. These artists and their masterpieces will be placed in the political, religious and social context of their time.

The DVD lecture series is presented by Professor William Kloss, an independent art historian and lecturer for the Smithsonian Institute‘s seminar program. He has delivered hundreds of courses and lectures around the world on a range of European and American art to such prestigious universities and institutions as the University of Virginia, The Art Institute of Chicago and Sotheby’s Institute.

Everyone is welcome to attend this free lecture series; no registration is required. The Artrium, housing Quesnel’s permanent art collection, is located in the Quesnel and District Arts & Recreation Centre at 500 North Star Rd.

Steve Rant - Outcome of Jan 25th WL Council Meeting

At last night's WL Council meeting, a couple of news-worthy items came up that I'd like to provide my own commentary on:

1) Remedial Action Resolution - 675 Pigeon Ave

WL Council, at the request of the Senior Bylaw Officer, approved a Remedial Action Resolution for 675 Pigeon Ave requiring that the owner, Wayne/Marlene Kidd, to remove 11 derelict vehicles by Feb 28th or the City will do the required work and bill the Kidds' on their property taxes.  According to the Senior Bylaw Officer - the Kidds are already in violation of 3 different City Bylaws.  If this matter had come before the City's Advisory Planning Commission - I would have recommended Council proceed with the Resolution

Moreover - there is no real reason for Mr. Kidd to be belligerent (swearing) towards City Staff who were only trying to do their job.  99% of the time, if there is an issue - City Staff will always endeavour to work with you to resolve your issue(s).  City Council did do the right thing here and hopefully the Kidds will proceed with complying with the Remedial Action Resolution.  If not, they'll (Kidds) pay for it one way or the other.  When you're deep in a residential area on Pigeon Avenue (all R-1 Homes), you can't have a junkyard inside a 100% residential neighbourhood.  Their fellow residents' have rights as well

2) Fire Hall Budget Overrun

During consideration of a Committee of the Whole Recommendation on the $528,000 Budget Overage for the City's new Fire Hall - the City's CAO (Brian Carruthers) read from a prepared statement reviewing the timeline from start to finish for the construction of the new Fire Hall.  If you are interested in Mr. Carruthers' statement - watch the WL Council meeting on our local Shaw Cable Channel 10 - the show will start at 8pm tonight (Wednesday, Jan 26th) with re-runs on Thursday & Sunday at 7am

During a subsequent "Question and Answer" period - Mr. Carruthers' stated that he could not and would not guarantee to Council and the people of Williams Lake that no capital project would never go over budget. 

It should be appreciated that the voters' of Williams Lake should take Mr. Carruthers' completely at his word, given both he was wearing two hats - one as Administrator of Williams Lake and one as a taxpayer of Williams Lake.  Also - senior City Councillor Surinder Rathor called for an external inquiry of the $528,000 budget overrun for the new Fire Hall.  See the Rush's story here.  However, Councillor Natalie Hébert objected on the grounds that she didn't see any value in an external audit

My take on this is two fold:

1) In the last 7 years - two major projects, Tourism Discovery Center & Fire Hall, have gone over budget by a combined $728,000 and this should concern residents, given two different models were used and after TDC was done, another construction management model was used to prevent what occured at TDC for our new Fire Hall.  While I agree 100% with Brian Carruthers that you can never guarantee that a project will never go over budget - most people I talk with are deeply concerned that the $528,000 could have been used for different purposes like: improved roads, less property taxes in 2011, add the money to the City's General Surplus (Rainy Day) Account, etc.  Also - we, as a community, should expect Council to spend money just like all households do in the community.  You set a budget and stick to it.  Councillor Barr will have to answer some tough questions on the Fire Hall Budget Overrun but ultimately I don't see it as an impediment to allowing him to seek and get another term on Council - if Councillor Barr chooses to do so later this year

2) As to Councillor Rathor's proposal for an external audit - I believe Council should and must allow it to go forward.  If Council/Staff feel confident about the internal review on the $528,000 Fire Hall Budget Overrun then they won't hesitate about the need for an external review.  If this Council refuses to do so then many of the Council incumbents could be rejected in favour of others who will ask experts in our own community to review the entire Fire Hall Project and ask: Is this a case of just bad luck or does City Hall need to tighten its' policies/procedures?  Many in the community should thank Councillor Rathor for his innovative thought on the Fire Hall Budget Overrun and I further believe Councillor Rathor will be rewarded by the community for continuously thinking "outside the box" by giving him a 7th Consecutive Term on WL Council on Saturday, November 19th


WL Council Meeting Highlights - January 25th

Present: Mayor Cook and Councillors’ T. Barr, G. Bourdon, N. Hébert, SPS Rathor, L. Walters and S. Zacharias

Staff Present:

Brian Carruthers - CAO
Cindy Bouchard – Manager of Legislative Services
Tom Chung – IT Manager
Ken MacInnis – Communications Coordinator
Brad McRae – Senior Bylaw Officer
Geoff Goodall – General Manager of Planning and Operations
Kevin Goldfuss – Director of Muncipal Services
Annie McKitrick – Acting Manager of Social Development
Randy Isfeld – Director of Protective Services (Fire Chief)

Meeting called to order at 6:00pm
Minutes of Jan 11th, 2011 WL Council meeting approved


1) June Striegler (Vice-President, Cariboo-Chilcotin Partners for Literacy) appeared before Council to present information regarding Literacy Programs in Williams Lake
2) Kevin Goldfuss (City of WL Director of Muncipal Services) appeared before Council to give information on Snow Removal Procedures


1) Council adopted reports from their Standing Committees as follows:

General Governance:

a) Council approved travel for Councillor Geoff Bourdon to attend MP Dick Harris' roundtable to discuss Canada's economy for the upcoming 2011 budget at the Civic Centre in Prince George on Wednesday, January 26, 2011. Councillor Tom Barr was opposed

b) Council rejected an increase in the per diem rate from $60 to $80 per day

c) Council received a letter from Sarah Eves of the Life Skills Unit at Williams Lake Secondary School and the request for a donation towards use of the Handy Dart service was denied and Ms. Eves was encouraged to apply for a Grant in Aid.

Planning and Operations:

a) Council endorsed the 2011 Wood Stove Exchange Program being run in the Cariboo Region (Williams Lake area) during the months of February, March and April 2011 and encourage the community to participate by exchanging their old wood stoves for new more efficient stoves. Council authorized an in-kind contribution to the 2011 Wood Stove Exchange Program by refunding the $80 building permit fee for every woodstove purchased and installed under the 2011 wood stove exchange program. Council also allowed the Williams Lake Environmental Society to place a display in the City Hall lobby highlighting the wood stove exchange program.

b) Council authorized City Staff to submit a grant funding application through the Gas Tax Agreement Innovations Fund for the construction of Overall Stormwater Management - Phase 3 in 2011.

c) Council ratified a Remedial Action Resolution pertaining to 675 Pigeon Avenue – Marlene & Wayne Kidd for removal of 11 Vehicles by February 28th, 2011.  See more on this story from Welcome to Williams Lake here

d) Council referred DVP #1-2011 (Carl and Joy Hennig) to the City’s Advisory Planning Commission for review/recommendations. The DVP will be considered by Council at its’ Feb 8th, 2011 meeting

Community Services:

a) Council appointed Councillors Laurie Walters and Natalie Hébert as liaison to the Junior Council for the remainder of the term of this Council with Councillor Geoff Bourdon appointed as Alternate and two Councillors will be appointed at the Inaugural meeting of the new Council in December 2011 to be the liaison with the Junior Council.

b) Council received a letter from Trish Hill, Senior Tobacco Reduction Coordinator, Interior Health Authority regarding Smoke Free Champions for Change Initiative. The community was encouraged to nominate any eligible person(s) for the Smoke Free Champions for Change.

c) Council agreed to authorize the Mayor/Clerk to sign the new Service Delivery Contract between the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society and the City/CRD

d) Council agreed to place the local Arts and Culture Society expenditures for 2010/2011 on the City’s and Cariboo Regional District’s websites

e) Council agreed to amend the Central Cariboo Recreation Advisory Committee’s Terms of Reference to reflect quorum as “members’ present” rather than “members’ appointed”

f) Council received a report from the City’s Community Service Director (Geoff Paynton) on a Recreation Survey. The survey will also include information on how to become a member of the local Recreation Advisory Committee and what the Committee does. The survey will also note the Cariboo Regional District owns the land where the local Recreation Complex sits but the City of WL runs the day-to-day operations at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex

2) Council received two recommendations from Committee of the Whole as follows:

a) Council approved 4 recommendations for future projects (as result of new Fire Hall budget overrun:

i) For a project of significant value or complexity, utilize a Principle Contractor model whereby the contractor assumes responsibility and risk for excess costs other than those approved by the City through change orders
ii) In the event a Project Management model is utilized, the City should retain all financial administration responsibilities. Project Management should be limited to oversight and coordination of construction activities
iii) In the event that staff is aware of expected cost-overruns, Council must be informed prior to further work commencing so that appropriate budget authorizations can be provided by Council
iv) Establish a project oversight committee with Council representative for all projects of significant value or complexity as a common practice with monthly reports to Council.

b) Council authorized Staff to proceed with a public engagement process with regard to the City’s new Draft Official Community Plan

3) Council received for information the Cariboo Regional District Board Highlights from its’ January 14th meeting
4) Council authorized Mayor Cook or her alternate to attend the 2011 Province-Wide Community to Community Forum on March 1, 2011 at the Chief Joe Mathias Centre in North Vancouver, BC.
5) Council proclaimed Feb 21st – 25th 2011 as “Chamber of Commerce” week in the City of WL
6) Council proclaimed Jan 31st – Feb 4th as “International Toastmasters” week in the City of WL
7) Council received for information the “Council Information Package – 3 items) as of Jan 25th

Council members’ gave oral reports on issues/events occurring in the City of Williams Lake
Meeting adjourned at 8:25pm with Council resuming meeting In-Camera

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Quesnel Council Highlights - January 24th Meeting

Council provides budget direction

City Council has provided direction regarding tax levels for Budget 2011. Council has directed staff to prepare a draft budget with a target of no more than a 5.5 per cent tax increase, with no shifting of taxes from industry to other classes.

A number of factors are pressuring the City's budget. A continued decrease to industrial assessment continues to be of prime concern. The Northstar mill was granted a complete shutdown allowance, reducing its assessment by $2.37 million and resulting in lost municipal taxes of about $145,000 for 2011.

Another industrial property, Quesnel River Pulp, is in the final stages of an appeal process. Due to that appeal, the City expects to lose about $3 million worth of industrial assessment, which equals another $180,000 in lost municipal taxes. And as this appeal is retroactive, the City expects to return about $685,000 to West Fraser for 2009 and 2010. While the City had anticipated this and has about $565,000 in a tax stabilization reserve, $120,000 from Budget 2011 must be used to cover the cost.

Changes to CN Rail's assessment in the utilities category resulted in the loss of about $56,000 in municipal taxes.

The assessment changes alone result in about a three per cent tax increase. A "status quo" budget would result in an additional three per cent increase for the average homeowner. This would not include the City adding funds to its Quesnel Works: Capital Reinvestment Program or tax stabilization reserve, which Council will discuss in the coming weeks.

Dollar figures or percentages referred to in Budget 2011 news are not final until the budget process is complete.

Trade mission gets green light

The City will lead an economic development mission to Japan in July 2011. A proposal from the Quesnel Community and Economic Development Corporation suggests the City should work with industry, education, tourism and other regional stakeholders to develop a seven- to 10-day trade mission. The itinerary could involve visits with industries such as primary and secondary wood manufacturing, and various agricultural ventures. Council approved the Mayor, one Councillor, a city staff person and a representative from QCEDC to go on the mission. All costs for the City's contingent will be covered by a $25,000 grant the
City received from the provincial government to support Asia-Pacific Twinning Initiatives and funding from the Northern Development Initiative. As this year marks the 30th anniversary of the City's sister city relationship with Shiraoi Japan, the mission is scheduled to coincide with a trip already planned by the Shiraoi Twinning Society.

Other News

- Several members of the Communities in Bloom Committee presented Council with the City's five-bloom certificate. The City competed for the first time in the international competition, scoring five blooms and receiving special mention for the Fraser River Footbridge restoration.
- Mayor Mary Sjostrom has been appointed to the Forest and Range Practices Advisory Council. The PAC provides advice and recommendations to the Minister on issues including forest and range practices, policies and legislation.
- Council welcomed a delegation of international students to Chambers. The students attend Correlieu Secondary School's sister school in Shanghai China.


February - Heart Month
Feb. 23 - Rotary Day

Important Dates

Monday Jan. 31 - Deadline to file property assessment complaints.

Friday, Feb. 4 - Quesnel Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony and Quesnel Art Gallery Art from the Heart group show opening.
Show and Reception at 6 p.m., inductions at 7 p.m. in the West Fraser Timber Room at the Quesnel and District Arts and recreation Centre.

Future Quesnel Council/North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee Meetings:

Next North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee Meeting:
Tuesday, January 25

Next Committee of the Whole Meeting:

Monday, January 31 - 3 p.m.

Next Regular Council Meeting:
Monday, February 7

Next Delegation Meeting:
Monday, February 21
Preliminary budget meeting, including overview of the draft 2011 operating budget.

Could Kash Heed (Vancouver-Fraserview) lose his MLA seat...?

Already under criminal investigation (Breach of Trust), Vancouver-Fraserview MLA & former Solicitor-General Kash Heed could lose his seat in 30 days if he doesn't file an updated Campaign Finance Disclosure Form.  Mr. Heed has already petitioned BC Supreme Court to be relieved of this responsbility

Vancouver Sun has details of this developing story here

If Kash Heed loses his seat - watch for the seat to revert back to the NDP in a possible by-election

New Independent Panel on keeping HST or revert to old PST

From the Province of BC:

A newly appointed independent panel will report to British Columbians on a fact-based analysis of the implications of keeping the HST or returning to the PST and GST sales tax system, Parliamentary Secretary for HST Information John Les and Finance Minister Colin Hansen announced today.

“British Columbians want and deserve to have all the facts about the two options so they can make an informed decision on whether to support the HST or to return to the PST and GST sales tax systems,” said Les.

“Given the fractious debate that has led to the HST referendum, we feel that it is essential for voters to receive an independent, expert assessment of the options in the upcoming referendum,” said Hansen.

The panel members are Jim Dinning, former finance minister of Alberta, chair of the Canada West Foundation and chancellor of the University of Calgary; former B.C. Auditor General George Morfitt; Coast Capital Savings CEO Tracy Redies; and Simon Fraser University professor John Richards. The panel will be chaired by Jim Dinning.

“Members of the panel understand how important this referendum decision is for British Columbians and the future of the province. We know people want to understand the choices and what they mean. Voters need the facts before they go to vote,” said Dinning. “The panel will do all that it can to deliver to British Columbians a plain-speaking, straightforward set of facts that will help them make a choice.”

The panel has 10 weeks to complete its work and will deliver a final report to the public by the first week of April 2011.

Terms of Reference for the panel are available on the newly launched HST website:

BC Conservatives' 2011 Wish List

Recently, an individual was kind enough to send me a copy of the January 2011 BC Conservative Party Newsletter (if you want to see my copy - email me at

Anyhow, a couple of things caught my interest:

1) The BC Conservative Party is holding their Leadership Convention on Saturday, May 28th, 2011 at the Sheraton Vancouver Guilford Hotel.  The Party will accept Leadership nominations from Tuesday, March 1st - 29th, 2011.  After March 29th - BC Conservative Leadership Candidates will have then 60 days to lobby BC Conservative Party members' to vote for them.  The Leadership Rules will be: 1 Person - 1 Vote, unlike the BC Liberals' (regional weighted voting system), but similar to the voting rules for the BC NDP (1 Person - 1 Vote)

2) Randy White (former Member of Parliament from Langley) and Chair of the BC Conservatives' "Tactical Advisory Group" makes some pretty bold predictions in 2011 and some are:

March 2011 - Civil War brews within BC Liberal Party Caucus.  - This is so laughable it doesn't deserve a comment.  No way this happens as the new Leader of the BC Liberal Party will ensure caucus solidarity going into the BC Liberal Party's Convention in May of 2011

June 2011 - 4 current MLA's (no names) in the BC Legislature "cross the floor" and join the BC Conservatives.  - Again, the suggestion is so "pie in the sky".  There is no way this will happen.  Current independents Blair Lekstrom & Bill Bennett will re-join the BC Liberals' as soon as their Leadership Race is over, leaving Cariboo-North MLA Bob Simpson to remain an Independent, as per his public statements, and ditto for current Independent Delta South MLA Vicki Huntingdon who I believe will not join a political party of any stripe at this time, both now and in the next election when I predict she'll be re-elected in Delta South

October 2011 - Provincial General Election causes the BC Conservatives to get elected as a minority gov't - Again, "pie-in-the-sky" thinking.  There is no way the BC Liberals will call an election with the on-going debate on the HST sitting over their heads.  More likely scenario is: dissolution of the BC Legislature in spring of 2013 with the usual election of May 2013

My prediction: BC Liberals' will secure a 4th term with Premier Christy Clark leading BC & Adrian Dix leading the BC NDP as Leader of the Opposition in May 2013

Quesnel Wood Stove Exchange Program

Do you have an old, smoke-belching wood stove that is ready for retirement? If so, there’s never been a better time to replace it than right now.

Cariboo residents are being offered a cash incentive to upgrade their old wood stoves as part of the Cariboo Wood Stove Exchange Program, which runs until Sept. 1, 2011. Residents who replace older inefficient models with more efficient and clean-burning appliances can receive a number of rebates and incentives. The program also applies to residents installing high-efficiency gas stoves, fireplaces and fireplace inserts.

New certified wood stoves burn one-third less wood and can reduce smoke and particulate matter entering the atmosphere by as much as 90 per cent.

The first 20 stoves to be turned in are eligible for a $250 provincial rebate, and if residents reside within the Quesnel Airshed boundaries they will receive an additional $300 rebate, meaning there’s as much as $550 available. In addition the City of Quesnel has waived the permit fee for installation within city limits. All you need to do is visit Quesnel City Hall to pick one up.

The program is also designed to raise public awareness about the importance of smoke-free burning. There will be a wood burning display at Quesnel City Hall, and a burn trailer will be at some community events. People will learn how to burn cleaner, more efficient fires and see the difference between conventional air-tight stoves and high-efficiency wood stoves.

For more information about the Wood Stove Exchange Program, call the Exchange Hotline at 1-877-992-5833.

The Quesnel Air Quality Roundtable is a voluntary, multi-stakeholder, community-driven initiative that has developed an improvement plan for air quality in Quesnel.

For further information, please contact:
Dora McMillan, Chair
Quesnel Air Quality Roundtable
Phone: (250) 992-3770

News Roundup - Tues Jan 25th edition

In the Williams Lake Tribune:

Columnist Diana French gives her take on the proposed Williams Lake Council per diem (breakfast, lunch and dinner) rate hike from $60 a day to $80 a day - see here

In the Vancouver Province:

1) Political columnist Mike Smyth reviews the ongoing membership debate within the BC NDP - see here
2) City of Abbotsford asks Victoria for permission to leave the Fraser Valley Regional District - see here

Note - If Victoria allows Abbotsford to leave the Fraser Valley Regional District, watch for other muncipalities to consider doing the same with regard to their local Regional District.  I don't think Victoria can afford to set a major precedent for cities within local regional districts throughout BC

In the Vancouver Sun:

1) Political Columnist Vaughn Palmer looks into whether or not endorsements by Cabinet Ministers or current/ex-MLA's really do matter in the BC Liberal Party Leadership Race - see here
2) Initiatives Prince George President Tim McEwan gives a really good op-ed (Opinion Editorial) on how the 35th Premier of British Columbia should really remember to focus investments in Northern BC and how that is good for all of British Columbia - see here

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Outcome of CRD Area 'E' Town Hall Meeting

Saturday afternoon, CRD Area 'E' Director Steve Mazur along with CRD Staff (Rick Hodgson - Deputy CAO, Mitch Minchau - Manager of Environmental Services and Dani Johnson - Manager of Strategic Initiatives) met with 14 Area 'E' residents at Kwaleen Traditional Elementary School to discuss the 2011 CRD Budget and local Area 'E' issues

Those local Area 'E' issues included:

* Central Cariboo Arts and Culture
* Central Cariboo HandyDART
* 2010 Year in Review
* Mountview Water
* Question re: Prosperity Ridge (resident encouraged to attend Feb 10th City of WL/CRD Joint Town Hall)
* Question re: Scout Island Grant-in-Aide & Station House Gallery Move vis-a-vis Arts/Culture Function

Next up for CRD Central Cariboo Town Halls:

Tues Jan 25th - Area 'J' - Director Alex Bracewell
Wed Jan 26th - Area 'K' - Director Rick Mumford
Wed Feb 9th - Area 'F' - Director-elect Joan Sorley
Thurs Feb 10th - City of WL - Director Kerry Cook


Steve Rant - Increase to Per Diem Rates

On Tuesday, WL Council will receive a report from Council's General Governance Committee which recommends Council increase the daily per diem rate (breakfast, lunch and dinner) from $60 to $80 per day.  See the Committee's report here

At a time when people are still struggling to pay their bills in our community - Council has the wrong priorities here.  The existing daily per diem rate of $60 is sufficient, in my view, and is on par with the City of Prince George which has a bigger population and budget than Williams Lake.

If WL Council approves this - then their so-called concerns about taxpayers' around budget discussion time & when the property tax rate is set to be hypocrisy on Williams Lake Council's part 

Council should reject the Committee's recommendation and find other opportunities to reduce administrative costs (Staff, etc) at Williams Lake City Hall, in order to reduce as much as possible the overall tax increase at City Hall to inflation (2%) or less


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

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

Monday, Jan 24th - City of Quesnel:

Regular Council Meeting that starts in Quesnel Council Chambers at 7pm (410 Kinchant St)

See the Agenda/Reports here

Monday, Jan 24th - Cariboo Regional District:

Area 'A' Town Hall Meeting that starts at 6:00pm at Kersley Community Hall (just off Highway #97 North)

Tuesday, Jan 25th - City of Williams Lake:

Regular Council Meeting that starts in WL Council Chambers at 6pm (450 Mart St)

See the Agenda/Reports here

Tuesday, Jan 25th - District of 100 Mile House:

Regular Council Meeting that starts in 100 Mile Council Chambers at 7pm (385 Birch Avenue)

Tuesday, Jan 25th - Board of Education (SD #27):

Regular School Board Meeting that starts at 7pm in the Board of Education boardroom (350 North 2nd Avenue - beside Marie Sharpe Elementary)

Tuesday, Jan 25th - Cariboo Regional District:

Area 'J' Town Hall Meeting that starts at 6:00pm at the Anahim Lk Community Hall

Wednesday, Jan 26th - Cariboo Regional District:

Area 'K' Town Hall Meeting that starts at 6:00pm at the Big Creek Community Hall

Wednesday Jan 26th - City of Williams Lake:

Public Consultation Meeting #2 (Traffic Fine amendments) - meeting starts at 6:00pm in WL Council Chambers (450 Mart St)

Thursday, Jan 27th - City of Williams Lake:

Public Consultation Meeting #2 (Amendments to Noise/Nuisance Bylaws) - meeting starts at 6:00pm in WL Council Chambers

Thursday, Jan 27th - Cariboo Regional District:

Area 'I' Town Hall Meeting which starts at 6:00pm at the Nazko Community Hall

Friday, January 21, 2011

City of Quesnel Snow Crews remove snow at record rate

City snow crews are out in force again today, doing what they’ve been doing for 17 out of the last 18 days – plowing snow. And while it’s not a record, (City crews once plowed for 17 straight days in the mid ‘90s) it’s still noteworthy.

Since the snow started falling on Jan. 4, Quesnel has been blanketed with about 90 centimetres of the white stuff. And moving it all comes at a cost. For each day the City has to plow snow, between $20,000 and $28,000 is spent, depending on the types and numbers of equipment needed. It is not uncommon for the City to use three sander/plow trucks, three graders, two loaders, 10 dump trucks, six backhoes and two bobcats at one time.

Some of it is City equipment, with approximately 50% of it contracted locally at the height of operations. There are also as many as six staff people hand shoveling and snowblowing steps and other areas that equipment can’t reach.

The City has spent approximately $260,000 on snow removal so far in 2011.
“This has been a remarkable series of snowfall events,” said Ken Coombs, the acting director of public works. “The crews have put in a lot of hours and a lot of effort to keep the roads and sidewalks as clear as possible given the near
record snowfall circumstances. We appreciate all the public does to help us out and everyone’s patience as we try to remove the snow as quickly as possible.”

Some ways the public can help include: parking in driveways rather than on-street wherever possible; placing garbage cans at the end of driveways, and not against a snow bank; bringing garbage cans in as soon as possible; not plowing snow from driveways onto the street; providing City crews with room to manoeuvre their equipment; driving to conditions; and being understanding.

Prior to today’s snowstorm, the City had gone through about 40% of neighbourhood streets, widening roads and lowering some of the huge snowbanks that have been created. City crews will spend the next few days cleaning up after today’s snowfall and continuing to widen roadways. Once the streets are plowed, City crews will continue to work on improving sightlines for drivers and pedestrians.

“With the narrower streets, we ask people to be aware of the space required for emergency vehicles from fire trucks, to ambulance vehicles, police cars and tow trucks to pass through, and to leave as much open space on their streets as
possible,” added Fire Chief Sylvain Gauthier. “In times of emergency, we want to respond as quickly and as safely as possible.”

For more information, visit and download the snow clearing guide. This guide explains what the City does in the event of a snowfall, the order in which streets are plowed and provides answers to frequently asked questions.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Steve Rant - Corporate Communications

As many who advise either government or corporate clients in the world of media relations & communications will tell you, there is nothing more important then ensuring that you get your key messages out and ensuring that they are constantly repeated.

However, at WL City Hall, it seems this message has been forgotten.  Let's look at the City of WL Fire Hall Budget overrun where this is a shining example of "what not to do":

On January 6th - City of WL CAO Brian Carruthers said this to Welcome to Williams Lake in relation to the Fire Hall Budget overrun:

We did everything we felt we could possible do. We don’t want to cast blame on anyone

Now contrast that to today where he says:


But ultimately - the voters' can not hold staff to account for the overrun as they (City Staff) are not elected but the voters' in Williams Lake can hold the politicians (Mayor & Councillors) to account as they vote on the budget and approve any changes thereto

This Council, under the leadership of Kerry Cook, has made a number of serious financial blunders in this term of local government and people need to ask themselves if this Council deserves re-election. 

In my estimation - the answer should be a big No!! and voters' should be looking for new candidates that can do better at fiscal management on behalf of all City of Williams Lake taxpayers'


Local Political News... Jan 20th edition

1) Charlie Wyse is leaving the "Recall Donna Barnett" camp to seek the nomination of the BC NDP in Cariboo-Chilcotin - see here

2) City of WL Mayor Kerry Cook says "there's another blame to go around" over the $528,000 Budget overrun for the new City of WL Fire Hall - see here

Outcome of 1st 2011 City of Quesnel Budget Meeting

Council meets on Budget 2011

Quesnel City Council met for the first time to formally discuss the 2011 budget.

Council held its official public input session, with several delegations making requests:

• A representative from the Johnston Neighbourhood Association asked for: more sewer and water system inspections; continued repaving in the area; more snow removal; and a maintained ice surface at the West Fraser Timber Park. Requests were also made for: a neighbourhood composting project; a neighbourhood speed limit reduction; more traffic calming devices; and dog bag dispensers in Johnston Park.
• The South Quesnel Neighbourhood Association submitted a written request for more paving, park development and a better transit stop near Boston Pizza.
• A delegation of West Fraser representatives urged Council to do all it can to create a competitive tax environment to encourage investment.
• A Canfor representative suggested the City needs to do more to find operating efficiencies and asked for Council to hold the line on taxes while continuing to shift taxation away from major industry to other classes.
Survey sheds light on taxpayer opinions

Council received the results of the 2010 Citizen Satisfaction Survey. Some of the results include:
• 81% rated their quality of life as excellent.
• 60% said they receive good value for the taxes they pay, with 72% saying the City is doing a good job.
• 78% were either somewhat or very satisfied with the services and programs the City provides.
• When asked what people’s top concern was, a poor economy was referred to 30% of the time.
• Regarding service levels, 70% of people asked the City to maintain or increase service levels by increasing taxes (20%) or increasing user fees (50%). About 18% said the City should reduce services to maintain current tax rates.
Complete survey results may be viewed online at

The Budget Process

Council received a high level overview of the budget process.
The budget procedure began in November 2010, with department staff preparing a draft budget.
In December, finance staff and senior management reviewed the draft budget; Council received preliminary briefings in January.

Now that the public input session is complete, staff will request Council’s direction regarding tax rates on Jan. 24, and prepare a draft operating budget for Council to review on Jan. 31. That draft budget will be available on the City’s budget web page.

On Feb. 14, Council will review the draft capital budget (capital projects include items such as equipment, paving projects and infrastructure improvements).

Council will deal with a number of other budget items in February, March and April, including:
• Reviewing the five-year financial plan.
• Setting tax rates for the various classes.
• Reviewing early approval lists.
• Determining tax shifting between classes.
• Determining appropriate reserve allocations.

Budget 2011 Points of Interest
• It is anticipated the budget process will be complete in April, with bylaws and tax rates approved prior to May 15 .
• All dollar values in the budget are subject to change and should not be considered final until the budget is approved.
• Council’s ongoing strategic priorities, including West Quesnel Land Stability and the financial sustainability of the corporation, are considered during budget preparations.

Kash Heed: RCMP out to "discredit" me

In his column today, Vancouver Province political columnist Mike Smyth has an interesting take on the release of the RCMP search warrant documents relating to possible Kash Heed "breach of trust" charges

See here

NDP Leadership Race News... Jan 20th edition

1) Harry Lali Charges misconduct in new NDP Membership Forms - see here

2) Mike Farnworth says Elections BC should monitor all BC Political Party activities - see here

Local News - Thurs Jan 20th edition

Over at the Williams Lake Tribune today:

1) Diamonds & Dust (former Boot Cabaret) is shut down for 26 days by the Province's Liquor Control & Licensing Branch that starts Friday - see here

2) City of WL 2011 Budget will not be affected by the $528,000 budget overrun for the City's new Fire Hall - see here

3) Station House Gallery Society pleads for move to new location - see here

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Political Battle in Langley Township

Over at LangleyPolitics.Com - Langley Township Councillor Jordan Bateman documents the on-going battle between himself and his fellow Councillors and Langley Township Mayor Rick Green

See here

Based on media reports in Langley and what Councillor Bateman has reported at LangleyPolitics.Com, I hope that the upcoming muncipal election in Langley Township on Saturday, November 19th, 2011 will solve the impasse there on Langley Township Council so the people of Langley Township can have a Council that will get on with the business of dealing with issues facing that community


10 Months from Today...

Exactly 10 months from today, local voters in the Cariboo-Chilcotin will be going to polling booths to elect Mayors, Councillors and Electoral Area Directors and School Trustees

While elections in Quesnel, Wells, 100 Mile House, School District #27 and the Cariboo Regional District will be low-key and tame, I believe the municipal election in Williams Lake will be spirited and full of ideas and I encourage all to keep an eye on what Williams Lake Council is up to, in case you want to run for one of the 7 seats - 1 Mayor & 6 City Councillors - later on this year


Outcome of CRD Area 'D' Town Hall Meeting

Last night at the McLeese Lake Community Hall from 6:00pm to 7:15pm - the CRD Area 'D' Director Deb Bischoff along with CRD Deputy CAO Rick Hodgson & CRD Protective Services Manager Rowena Bastien addressed 14 Area 'D' residents on the 2011 CRD Budget

Topics discussed included:

* Central Cariboo Arts and Culture
* New McLeese Lake Fire Department
* 2011 Property Assessments
* 2011 Grants-in-Aide
* 2011 CRD Budget up 2.06% from 2010
* Chemical Spill at McLeese Lake townsite

However, 1 uncomfortable moment for Director Bischoff was when an Area 'D' resident attempted to ask questions pertaining to the 2nd Lawsuit between the Cariboo Regional District & former Area 'F' Director Duncan Barnett.  Director Bischoff stated that she was unable to address any questions pertaining to the lawsuit, as it was before the courts

All-in-all - it was, I believe, a good conversation between Area 'D' residents and their elected Director/CRD Staff


Social Media & the BC Liberal Leadership Race

Over at Globe and Mail BC - they have an interesting read on what impact social media (Twitter, YouTube and Facebook) is having on the BC Liberal Leadership Race & also the upcoming BC NDP Leadership Race as well

See here

BC Political News - Wed Jan 19th edition

New West MLA Dawn Black selected as interim BC NDP Leader - see here

In-fighting over BC NDP memberships between the Dix, Lali and Farnworth camps - see here

100 Mile News... Jan 19th edition

The Cariboo Regional held their town Hall in 100 Mile - see more here

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett clarifies her position on the upcoming HST Referendum - see here

A local composting site is gaining steam towards fruition - see here

Budget Overruns at new Williams Lake Fire Hall will have no impact on 2011 Budget

From the City of Williams Lake:

A cost overrun of $528,034 on the new fire hall will have no impact on the
2011 budget, City Council members heard at their Committee of the Whole
meeting Tuesday evening.

An initial $300,000 budget deficit was addressed by City Council in the
2010 budget, and the additional $228,000 in expenditures of the summer of 2010
for landscaping and other site finishing requirements were absorbed in the 2010
Operations budget with savings in other operational accounts.

“Taxes will not be increased to cover these regrettable overruns,” says
Mayor Kerry Cook. “The 2011 budget will not be impacted in any way, and
council is considering recommendations to safeguard against this happening in the

Those recommendations are:

1. For a project of significant value or complexity, utilize a Principle
Contractor model whereby the contractor assumes responsibility and risk for
excess costs other than those approved by the City through change orders;

2. In the event a Project Management model is utilized, the City should
retain all financial administration responsibilities. Project Management should be
limited to oversight and coordination of construction activities;

3. In the event that staff are aware of expected cost-overruns, Council must
be informed prior to further work commencing so that appropriate budget
authorizations can be provided by Council; and

4. Establish a project oversight committee with Council representative for all projects of significant value or complexity as a common practice, with monthly reports to council.

A report from Director of Protective Services Randy Isfeld details how, in November 2009, a City Oversight Committee heard for the first time – after nine months of weekly meetings with the project contractor in which the project was described as on time and on budget – that the fire hall was over budget, primarily due to contaminated soil and remediation issues at the fire hall site in the spring of 2009.

“When the soil issues arose in the spring, the Oversight Committee was told the extra costs would be handled within the existing budget,” says Councillor Tom Barr, who served on the Oversight Committee with the Chief Administrative Officer, General Manager of Planning and Operations, General Manager of Corporate Services, and the Director of Protective Services. “We were told months later that that was not the case.”

The fire hall, which became operational in December 2009 and officially opened in June 2010, is expected to serve the City’s needs for the next 30 years. It features a new bay for all of the department’s apparatus, a training room that also serves as the city’s Emergency Operations Centre if needed, showers for firefighters, and room for expansion.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Next Meeting of the Seniors' Advisory Council of Williams Lake & Area

As reported in today's Williams Lake Tribune - the next meeting of the Seniors' Advisory Council of Williams Lake & Area will be on Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 at 1:30pm at the Williams Lake Public Library Programming Room.  They advise that visitors are welcome to observe and new members (seniors' over 60+) are welcome to attend as well

I'd encourage the seniors' in Williams Lake and in CRD Electoral Areas D, E, F, J and K that if you aren't a member of the Seniors' Advisory Council, become one!! as there's strength in numbers and the Seniors' Advisory Council does speak to WL Council and the CRD Board often on seniors' issues.  The more seniors' that join this organization then there's a better chance that local governments will listen to their concerns

They also have a website at and you can email your concerns, comments or suggestions at


Snow Removal Complaints in Williams Lake

Over at the Williams Lake Tribune - a local resident complains about the poor snow removal done in the City in light of last week's heavy snow fall - see here

Note - Given the above, not only should the City of Williams Lake have a proactive brochure which explains snow removal procedures in the City (Note - City of Quesnel already does this) and the City's CAO is taking this idea under advisement but in addition, the City should have a public meeting with residents', in the near future, over snow removal procedures in order to explain the snow removal procedures but to also allow input from residents' on what the City could be doing better in the department of snow removal.  After all, it is the same residents' who pay for this service and they have a reasonable expectation to talk with the very people (City Staff) who provide the service and suggest ways/methods on how this (snow removal) could be done better.  This is something I hear from constantly from residents' - poor snow removal each snow year


CRD Board Meeting Highlights - Jan 14th

Election of CCRHD Chair and Vice‐Chair

The Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District elected its Chair and Vice Chair for 2011. Area K Director, Rick Mumford was re‐elected Chair while Vice‐Chair duties will continue to be carried out by City of Quesnel Mayor and Director, Mary Sjostrom.

Canadian Cancer Society

Les Waldie, Campaign Manager for Northern Lodge, Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), presented information to the Board to provide an overview on the CCS’s campaign to build Northern Lodge in Prince George. The Cancer Society currently has three lodges; Vancouver, Victoria and Quesnel. The Northern Lodge would provide services to residents from the south Cariboo to the most northern border of British Columbia.

January Town Hall Meetings Continue

As a result if inclement weather, the CRD’s Area G, and Area B Town Hall meetings have been postponed. The Area B Town Hall meeting has been re-scheduled for January 22, from 1 to 3:30pm at the Bouchie Lake Community Hall. The Area G Town Hall meeting has been re-scheduled for January 31, from 6 to 8:30pm at the Lac La Hache Community Hall. The rest of the meetings are planned as follows;

Jan 17 - 100 Mile House – The Lodge – 6 to 8:30pm
Jan 18 – Area D – McLeese Lake Comm. Hall – 6 to 8:30pm
Jan 20 – Area H – Forest Grove Comm. Hall – 6 to 8:30pm
Jan 22 – Area E – Kwaleen Elementary – 1 to 3:30pm
Jan 24 – Area A – Kersley Comm. Hall – 6 to 8:30pm
Jan 25 – Area J – Anahim Lake Comm. Hall – 6 to 8:30pm
Jan 26 – Area K – Big Creek Comm. Hall – 6 to 8:30pm
Jan 27 – Area I – Nazko Comm. Hall – 6 to 8:30pm
Jan 29 – Area L – Interlakes Comm. Hall – 1 to 3:30pm
Jan 31 – Area C – Barlow Creek Comm. Hall – 6 to 8:30pm
Feb 3 – Wells – Council Chambers – 6 to 8:30pm
Feb 8 – Quesnel – Council Chambers – 6 to 8:30pm
Feb 9 – Area F – Miocene Comm. Hall – 6 to 8:30pm
Feb 10 – Williams Lake – Council Chambers – 6 to 8:30pm

Watch the CRD websites for any further updates on the Town Hall meetings.

South Cariboo Regional Airport

The Board endorsed a recommendation from the 108 Greenbelt Commission to proceed with the removal of trees adjacent to the airport that have been identified as potential obstacles to aircraft. The tree removal is necessary is to enable NavCanada to register a new GPS instrument approach approved by airport commission in 2009 and designed in 2010.

Silviculture Activities

Mark Hamm, Operations Manager, Central Cariboo Forest District, appeared before the Board to provide information relating to Silviculture activities in the Cariboo region. The discussion focused on the Timber Supply Areas (TSAs) and the types of forest found within these areas, forest licenses, harvesting levels, planting trends and surveying for future years. He also addressed how the Central Cariboo Fire Centre will be working on regeneration practices in areas that have been devastated by wildfires over the past few years. Further information about the Central Cariboo Forest District is available online at

Battery Stewardship Plan

The Cariboo Regional District reviewed information about the Canadian Battery Association’s (CBA) Stewardship Plan which will be in effect July 1, 2011, for the safe and efficient collection, storage and transportation of lead-acid batteries (LABs). The CBA’s Stewardship Plan is a high level plan and does not contain details of how the system will work with regional districts. The Plan does; however, stress the importance of providing the service to remote and rural locations. Staff communications with the CBA confirms the provision of storage containers and pick-up of LABs at rural refuse sites by the CBA may be an option. Further discussions will be held with the CBA once the Plan becomes effective.

Grant Application for Mountview Water and Sewer - Electoral Area 'E'

The Cariboo Regional District will submit a grant application to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ General Strategic Priorities Fund for two thirds funding for the provision of water and sewer services in the Mountview area. Under the Gas Tax Agreement $107 million has been allocated within the General Strategic Priorities Fund (GSPF) for expenditure from 2011 to 2014. The GSPF delivers federal funding to local governments for infrastructure projects that contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, cleaner water or clean air.

Targeted Grazing

The Cariboo Regional District will be providing a letter of support to the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association to submit a grant application for funding to host a Targeted Grazing seminar with Dr. Kathy Voth. During this session, cattlemen and other livestock owners will be taught how to effectively train their animals to eat invasive plant species as an added sustainable management tool. After attending the seminar, participants will have a sustainable, environmentally friendly, and low cost alternative to managing invasive plants on their land. Further information about targeted grazing is available online at

Class Action Lawsuit for Taseko Shareholders'...

A lawfirm is laying out the groundwork for a class action lawsuit, on behalf of Taseko Mine shareholders'.  This is response to Taseko's share price falling dramatically 14 days before Ottawa declined to give its' blessing to Taseko Mine's Prosperity Mine proposal to move forward back in early November of 2010

See the story from the Rush here

BC Respects the Softwood Lumber Agreement

From the Province of BC:

Forests, Mines and Lands Minister Pat Bell responded today to the U.S. government’s filing for arbitration under the U.S.-Canada 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement about British Columbia’s timber pricing policies.

“British Columbia has always honoured and continues to honour its commitments under the softwood lumber agreement,” said Bell. “I am confident the arbitrators will find the same.”

The U.S. complaint is based on the large volumes of mountain pine beetle-attacked timber that have been harvested. British Columbia’s auction-based pricing system ensures that the full value of timber – whether impacted by the unprecedented mountain pine beetle infestation or not – is captured by the government.

“Clearly the scale of the mountain pine beetle infestation is something we’ve never experienced before, and is the reason for an increased harvest of low-grade timber in British Columbia,” said Bell. “I believe U.S. lumber producers would be better off if they continued to work with Canadian producers to grow the market for wood across North America, instead of putting their resources into costly, groundless litigation. The irony behind the U.S.’s complaints is that since the Softwood Lumber Agreement came into force, U.S. lumber producers have actually increased their share of the U.S. market. In the meantime, British Columbia will continue to develop the China market where we’ve seen exponential growth in recent years. Last year, for example, we almost doubled our lumber exports to China compared to 2009, which is helping to put people back to work in B.C. mills.”

Under the terms of the Softwood Lumber Agreement, the arbitration will be conducted by the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA). The U.S. and Canadian governments must each nominate an arbitrator within 30 days (by Feb. 17). The two arbitrators then must nominate a chair within 10 days. Following this, the LCIA must formally approve the arbitration panel made up of three arbitrators, including the chair. Overall the arbitration process could last for two or more years before a decision is made. Decisions by the LCIA are final and binding on both parties.

While the arbitration process is ongoing, there is no change in how B.C. lumber is shipped to the U.S. – the export tax continues to be collected at the border with revenues being directed to B.C.’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The current Softwood Lumber Agreement came into effect in October 2006 and is set to expire in October 2013, with an option to renew to October 2015.

Muncipal Auditor-General

Earlier today, BC Liberal Party Leadership hopeful Christy Clark says that municipal taxation should be reviewed including the formation of a Municipal Auditor-General

See here

Note - this is a good idea given that Victoria will not step in local disputes over taxation distribution between various tax classes and I look forward to seeing this idea fully implemented


Final Numbers for CRD Electoral Area ‘F’ By-Election

Yesterday at 11:00am, the CRD Chief Election Officer for the Electoral Area 'F' By-Election (Alice Johnston) confirmed that Joan Sorley is the Electoral Area "F" Director-elect with 184 Votes
The vote breakdown is as follows:

         Advance Polling                    General Voting Day

CandidateMail BallotsJanuary 5thJanuary 7th150 Mile HouseBig LakeHorseflyLikelyTotals
Charlene Hays427262622996
William Sellars04292553111
Joan Sorley19676582311184

There is a waiting period until January 25th before the results are official. As a first time candidate, I was surprised at the strength of William Sellars at the 150 Mile Polling Station however it is great that for his first time he came in 2nd versus that of Ms. Hays who ran in 2008

I hope that Director-elect Joan Sorley will continue to serve post-November as general municipal elections are a requirement this year for all local governments – regional districts & municipal government


Christy Clark & HST Referendum

Recently, the George Abbott camp suggested that it is "misleading and confusing” for Christy Clark to move the HST Vote from the public to the BC Legislature, in addition to being "undemocratic".  See their full press release here

It is very unfortunate that the George Abbott camp has come out with this "spin" as it is completely untruthful.  The fact is Christy Clark has recognized that the HST Public Vote (Referendum) will ultimately fail so let's save $30 million dollars and hold that same vote in the House and ask our MLA's to represent us and those who choose not to represent the voters' will be punished in the next election.  In fact, those BC Liberal Party members' who feel that their MLA is not representing them can block them from becoming the Party candidate in the 2013 Provincial Election in their local provincial electoral district and let's use that $30 million for other public priorities like health care, education or social services


BC Political News - Tuesday, Jan 18th edition

BC NDP Health Critic Adrian Dix wants to become BC NDP Leader - see here

BC Liberal Leadership hopeful Kevin Falcon complains of "spin" from the George Abbott camp over their assertion that Falcon is in "third place" in the BC Liberal Party Leadership Race - see here

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Breaking News: Joan Sorley in as Area 'F' Director!!!

Saturday night, the Cariboo Regional District came out with preliminary results for the Electoral Area 'F' By-Election as follows:

Joan Sorley - 184
William Sellars - 111

Charlene Hays - 96

Official results will be available on Monday, January 17th at 11:00am

My congrats to Joan Sorley for her election win and also to Mr. Sellars and Ms. Hays for offering themselves for election in Area 'F'


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Station House Gallery fires back....

After the Jan 11th WL Council meeting, where City Councillors Tom Barr & Geoff Bourdon raised concerns over the potential move of the Station House Gallery from its current location (bottom of Oliver St and Mackenzie Avenue) to its potential new home of 4th Avenue and Borland St (site currently owned by Royal Bank) - the Station House Gallery has launched a public awareness campaign stating why the move of the Gallery is necessary and good for the City

See here

New City of WL OCP

Also on Tuesday - WL Council, meeting in Committee of the Whole, will receive a report on the City's Draft Official Community Plan or OCP

See that report here with the two supplementary items here (Draft City of WL OCP) and here (Public Engagement Brochure)

Pls Note - To view the Draft OCP, it is a 6 megabyte file so you should have high-speed Internet for it

I encourage everyone who was engaged during the "Imagine Our Future" project to become engaged in the OCP Development Process in 2011 as we head towards replacing the current OCP with the new one


City of WL CAO on Reduced Crime

Over at his blog - City of WL CAO Brian Carruthers' reviews on-going efforts to reduce crime levels in the City of Williams Lake

See here

CRD Area 'B' Town Hall Meeting Re-Scheduled

Due to very poor weather in the region, the Cariboo Regional District advises that the Electoral Area 'B' Town Hall Meeting has been postponed today and re-scheduled for Saturday, January 22 at the Bouchie Lake Community Hall from 1:00 - 3:30pm


Budget Overrun for new Fire Hall

On Tuesday, WL Council, meeting in Committee of the Whole, will receive a report from Randy Isfeld (Director of Protective Services) outlining the final numbers on the budget for the new Fire Hall.  For the record, the City ran over the $6.5 million budget for the new Fire Hall by $528,034

See the Report here

It should be noted that the Fire Hall Project Oversight Committee (Brian Carruthers, Randy Isfeld, Geoff Goodall, City Councillor Tom Barr and former City Finance Director Darcy Lazzarin) had received assurances from January - October 2009 that the Fire Hall Project was on time/budget with a contigency budget remaining of $117,340.00 in October 2009. 

Four Recommendations to prevent this from occuring again that City Staff will recommend to WL Council are:

1. For a project of significant value or complexity, utilize a Principle Contractor model whereby the contractor assumes responsibility and risk for excess costs other than those approved by the City through change orders;

2. In the event a Project Management model is utilized, the City should retain all financial administration responsibilities. Project Management should be limited to oversight and coordination of construction activities;

3. In the event that staff are aware of expected cost-overruns, Council must be informed prior to further work commencing so that appropriate budget authorizations can be provided by Council; and

4. Establish a project oversight committee with Council representative for all projects of significant value or complexity as a common practice.

Also - City Staff will make it clear to WL Council that the budget overun has been fully financed (2010 Capital Budget & 2010 Operations Budget (summer of 2010)) and no further taxpayer intervention is necessary

I would encourage taxpayers' to review this report and ask appropriate questions when the City engages residents for the City's 2011 Budget and at election time, later on this year