Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bits and Bytes - June 30th edition

In the Vancouver Sun:

* Union Bay Improvement District withdraws defamation lawsuit against local blogger, after it was pointed out that a recent BC Supreme Court ruling involving the City of Powell River stated that it was contrary to law for a local government, using local tax dollars, to sue an individual to make comments about their local government - see here

* City of WL in news again - see here

In the Williams Lake Tribune:

* School District #27 adopts 2011/2012 Budget - see here
* WL Stampede starts today - see here
* CO Service investigates illegal shooting of a deer - see here
* BC Teachers vote 90% in favour of strike action - see here
* Cariboo MLA's on possible fall provincial election - see here
* Cariboo-North MLA Bob Simpson, writes in his weekly column, on whether or not provincial austerity measures are forthcoming - see here (Editor's Note - I think the people of Williams Lake should be worried about the same, given City of WL's long-term debt and internal borrowing obligations of $18.7 million - this up from about $9 million at this same time in 2008, a doubling of the debt in 3 years)

At Welcome to Williams Lake:

* Introduction of new Fire Information Officer Jenny Fremlin - see here
* Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett applauds 100 Mile Mayor Mitch Campsall's push for a prison in the 100 Mile area - see here
* Finning machinists on strike in Williams Lake - see here
* Chilcotin First Nations Unity riders arrive in WL - see here

On The Rush:

* Quesnel City Councillor Sushil Thapar was formally presented with a request to apologize after making some very serious defamatory comments against Quesnel City Manager John Stecyk.  Mr. Thapar has already stated that he does not intend to apologize.  This will be an interesting case to observe to see what the next steps may look like but doesn't bode well for Quesnel Staff - Quesnel Council relations but hopefully there can be a resolution of some sort so Quesnel Council can move on to other matters requiring their attention

* In today's Town Hall program, Mayor Cook discussed with Town Hall host Dale Taylor the following:

a) Oliver St Project - project on hold for WL Stampede but paving would occur after WL Stampede
was over (last word was end of July, according to City's General Manager of Planning and Operations Geoff Goodall)

b) Station House Gallery - Mayor Cook stated that the City would reapply for a "Towns for Tomorrow" to allow a move of the Station House Gallery by the next intake deadline for October.  Two questions I have are:

i) Has the City discussed this with Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett to see why the application failed?  Was the application itself?  Was it because too many applications came in?

ii) Why doesn't the City do a little homework and look at alternate sites to see if a move to another location (other than the Royal Bank) can strengthen the "Towns for Tomorrow" grant application.  If Mayor Cook's Council refuses, then the next Council may very well do this.  Also - have measurements of the current building taken place to ensure it can be moved safely and that the building's integrity is not comprised?  Also - given a report authored in May by City of WL Senior Bylaw Officer Brad McRae to expand the Off-Street Parking Zone if the City does not, under any circumstance, want the Station House Gallery building to remain, giving its' plan for apparent parking - public, RV, etc - see Mr. McRae's report here.  WL Council considered this report at this past Tuesday's Committee of the Whole Council meeting so we'll have to see Tuesday's WL Council Meeting Agenda to see what Council did with this report

c) Sam Ketcham Memorial Pool (SKMP) Shutdown - Mayor Cook stated that the shutdown was unfortunate but has to be done now to effect repairs and that the Central Cariboo Community will have to address this topic, sooner rather than later.  A reminder - that SKMP will shut down at 6:00pm today for a mininum of 3 weeks in July but it could be longer, depending on how things go.  Options for families to go swimming include the Scout Island Beach and any of the thousands of lakes in the Cariboo-Chilcotin but let's hope the City can hold the shutdown to 3 weeks.  Also - giving City of WL debt obligations (long term debt and internal borrowing) of $18.7 million - I doubt that there is much, if any, appetite to borrow any more money (no matter who does it - City or CRD) until City debt load is lessened to a more comfortable number

* Norm Prevost, from the South Cariboo Labour Council, says federal Conservatives "Anti-Labour" - see here

Finally - With Canada Day tomorrow (Friday) - I'll be taking a day off and enjoying the day like most of Williams Lake is and resuming blogging on Saturday where I'll reveal what CRD Staff made in 2009 vs 2010 and which local governments are meeting next week

HST Referendum Ballot Return Date extended to August 5th

Elections BC announced in the last little while that the date to return the HST Referendum ballot has been extended by Friday, July 22nd to Friday, August 5th which puts an announcement on the future of the HST probably in late August

City of WL persues "Most Business Friendly Community Award"

Very recently - the City of WL requested the local Business Improvement Area to peruse its' members as to the City's strength in helping Small Business and where improvements can be made as the City was recently invited to compete for the "Most Business Friendly Community Award"

The deadline for returning comments to the BIA Office is today at 5:00pm

The questions being asked include:

1) Do you feel that the number of regulations affecting small business have been reduced or streamlined by the City? If no, please indicate specific area where improvements could be made

2) Is it easier for small business to operate across jurisdictions? i.e BizPal, Inter jurisdictional business licenses, etc. If no, please explain.

3) Does the City’s front-line staff demonstrate good customer service? If no, please provide details.

4) What would attract small business to locate in Williams Lake?

5) Is the current tax rate ($11.20 / $1000 of assessment) and ration of commercial property tax to residential tax (2.13:1) reasonable? If no, please suggest an appropriate ratio.

6) Is adequate information or assistance available from the City for new or existing business? If no, please provide specific examples.

7) Are the contributions of small business celebrated by the community? If no, how could this be accomplished?

8) What might be some important elements of an economic plan for small business the City could assist with?

9) Are you aware if the City has climate action policies in place? If you are aware of such policies, how do they benefit our small business community?

While I won't go into great detail here - it is curious less than 5 months before the voters' in Williams Lake vote for a new City Council for the 2011-2014 Term that the City are asking these 9 questions when these questions should have been asked in the first quarter of 2009 when the economy was in real rough shape and the City should be asking these questions year after year and not because it happens to be an election year.  Also - Question #5 is very interesting given that even if all small businesses said that there is a need to change the tax ratio - it will be the next Council that decides the tax ratio for business as it will be that Council that ultimately decides the 2012 Budget and very well might have different priorities that this current City Council

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mid Week News - June 29th edition

In Quesnel:

* PBS (US Public Broadcasting Service) coming to Barkerville - see here

In Williams Lake:

* New WL and District Chamber of Commerce President announced - see here
* Local Community Band to play at Canada Day celebrations at Boitanio Park Friday - see here
* New 2011/12 WL Stampede Queen announced - see here
* 2 Tolko local divisions re-opened operations - see here
* Community Arts Council calls for volunteers to ensure its survival - see here
* Grade 4/5 Neskika Students debate merits on the Prosperity Mine 2nd Proposal - see the "for" side here and see the "no" side here
* Brad McRae, from City of WL Bylaw Services, reviews two of his department initiatives - see here
* City of WL responds to flooding at Scout Island this past Sunday - see here

In 100 Mile:

* SD #27 Trustee Pete Penner encourages people to think about school trustees elections this November - see here
* Cariboo Central Interior Poultry Producers Association elects new Board - see here

Monday, June 27, 2011

Some future blog posts...

Some blog posts that I'm working on and will have up here include:

1) Analysis of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 City of WL Budgets
2) Analysis of City of WL's attempt for “Most Business Friendly Community Award"

Stay tuned in the days ahead

Oliver Street Project Update #6

The primary work replacing water services and installing irrigation along Oliver Street has been completed. Following the Stampede a 38-metre section of water main will be replaced between Glen Arbor and City Hall to complete the project.

Areas of the street previously disrupted due to this underground work will be restored this week, ahead of the Stampede.

Paving of Oliver Street from Eight Avenue to Mackenzie Avenue will take place later this summer.

For more information please contact:

Joe Engelberts - Manager of Water/Waste
The City of Williams Lake
250 392-1785 or

Mail Service Tuesday am

On Sunday, the Senate took up Bill C-6 after the House of Commons passed the Bill on Saturday evening

The exact same process the House of Commons used to dispose of Bill C-6 was used in the Senate and after a couple of attempts by Liberal Senators to make amendments to Bill C-6 at 3rd Reading Stage, the Senate adopted Bill C-6 by a vote of 53 Conservatives to 26 Liberals and the Bill was given Royal Assent on Sunday, June 26th at 8:30pm Eastern Time or 5:30pm Pacific Time

The Senate is now on its' summer break until September 27th, 2011

CUPW (Canadian Union of Postal Workers) decried the act and suggested that all unionized workers should watch their back

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Political Debate Discourse in Quesnel

On the Rush/Wolf yesterday afternoon/evening - in a long-run of continuing attacks on Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom from Quesnel Councillor Sushil Thapar - he suggested that she purposely withheld information relating to the hiring of John Stecyk - Quesnel's City Manager and then criticized the executive search firm for not doing a good job and called for a meeting of Quesnel Council, without Staff present to "clear the air"

The tone of the debate among two members of Quesnel Council, over the last little while, reminded me of a blog post I did in June of 2007 which involved former CRD Area 'I' Director Mary Glassford and the then Quesnel Council and you can read that post here

Hopefully - when this future meeting of Quesnel Council occurs to "clear the air", according to Quesnel Councillor Thapar - that Quesnel Council can return to most pertinent matters and refrain from debating pesky little details, in public, like the hiring of Quesnel's City Manager which was done earlier this year

Pat Bell's Top Ten - June 24th

1. Gross Domestic Product - Updated May 12, 2011

British Columbia’s economy bounced back in 2010, expanding 4.0% after posting a 1.8% decline in real GDP (chained 2002 dollars, measured at basic prices) in the previous year. The recovery was broadly based, with both the goods and service sectors making significant gains. The rebound in goods-producing industries was partly driven by a turnaround in resource-based industries. A long downturn in the forest sector finally came to an end in 2010, while the mining, oil and gas extraction industry posted its first increase in real GDP since 2005. The construction industry also picked up speed after losing ground in 2009. In the service sector, most industries made gains in 2010. The Olympics provided a boost to several tourist-related industries, including accommodation and food services, which expanded 3.5%.
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Statistics Canada)

2. Employment and Unemployment - Updated May 6, 2011

British Columbia’s unemployment rate was down to 7.9% in April 2011. This was 0.2 percentage points less than the rate recorded in the previous month. The improvement was largely due to continued employment growth, as the number of British Columbians with jobs increased (+0.4%) for a third straight month. The labour force expanded a marginal 0.1%.
Goods-producing industries, which had experienced significant job losses during the recent recession, continued to rebound (+2.2%) but job growth in the service sector stalled (-0.1%) for a third straight month. There were more private sector jobs (+0.4%) but employment in the public sector shrank 0.7%.
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey)

3. Wages in B.C. - Updated May 6, 2011

Workers in the province earned an average wage of $23.06 per hour in April, which was exactly the same as the national wage rate. However, weekly wages in BC ($828.11) were below the Canadian average ($837.75), reflecting a slightly shorter work week in this province.
Young workers in BC typically earn more than those in other parts of the country. Hourly wages for British Columbians aged 15 to 24 averaged $13.57 in April, compared to $13.23 for all young Canadians.
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey)

4. Retail Sales - Updated May 20, 2011

Sales at British Columbia’s retailers inched up 0.2% (seasonally adjusted) in March, continuing its recovery of the previous month. Quebec (+0.5%) and Atlantic Canada also saw moderate increases in sales. Nationally retail sales remained flat (0.0%) as gains were offset by weaker sales in the provinces of Ontario (−0.8%), Manitoba (−0.3%) and Alberta (−0.1%).
During the first quarter of 2011, BC’s retail sales fell 1.3% (seasonally adjusted), offsetting gains from the last quarter of 2010 (+1.7%) almost entirely. Quebec (−0.6%) and Ontario (−0.1%) bucked this trend in a similar fashion, while retail sales in Manitoba (+1.8%), Saskatchewan (+2.3%) and Alberta (+0.3%) enjoyed gains in the same quarter. Nationally, retails sales for the first quarter remained flat (0.0%).
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Statistics Canada)

5. International Trade (Exports) - Updated May 12, 2011

The value of BC exports rebounded (+3.7%, seasonally adjusted) in March, mirroring the decline
recorded in February (-3.7%). Double-digit increases in shipments of forestry (+10.7%) and industrial & consumer (+11.2%) products were the major contributors to the boost in provincial exports. Agriculture & fishing (+1.5%) exports were also up, but international shipments of energy (–6.4%) and automobile, machinery & equipment (–3.9%) products fell. US-bound goods were off (-1.9%) for the second straight month, while shipments to other destinations advanced (+8.0%). The slump in south-bound goods was mostly the result of declining energy (–19.4%) shipments.
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: BC Stats)

6. Housing Starts - Updated May 9, 2011

Housing starts in the province increased for the first time since December, rising 23.0% (seasonally adjusted) in April. BC bucked the national trend, which saw the number of new housing starts drop 3.1% as new construction activity slowed in both Ontario (-9.0%) and Quebec (-10.9%), while Alberta posted a modest 1.4% increase.
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation)

7. Tourist visits - Updated June 17, 2011

Visitor entries to Canada through BC were up (+0.7%, seasonally adjusted) in April. Same-day visits from the US (-0.1%) were off for the third consecutive month, while overnight trips also experienced a small decline (-0.3%). Overall, total US entries dipped 0.3%. However, there were more travelers from overseas countries (+3.8%), driven primarily by a double-digit increase (+11.5%) in the number of visitors from Asia. Meanwhile, European entries (-2.1%) were down.
There were nearly 1.2 million Canadians returning home via BC in April, up 3.3% from the previous month. Total trips from the US increased 2.8%, while the number of Canadians returning from overseas jumped (+8.1%).
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Statistics Canada)

8. Population – Updated March 24, 2011

The population in British Columbia reached 4,554,085 as of January 1st, 2011. In the fourth quarter of 2010, population growth was at its lowest since 2006, up 1.2% compared to the same quarter in 2009. Saskatchewan continued to lead growth (+1.5%). BC shared fifth place with Ontario above the average growth across Canada (+1.1%).
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Statistics Canada)

9. Independent Economic Forecast Council on economic growth

B.C.’s economy is expected grow moderately over the next year according to B.C.’s independent Economic Forecast Council. On average, the council forecasts B.C.’s GDP growth at 2.7 per cent for this year. This is down from Budget 2010, when economic growth was projected at 3.1 per cent. For 2012, the council’s forecast is unchanged at 3.0 per cent. The council’s average annual forecast for 2013-2015 is 2.8 per cent.

10. B.C.’s top credit rating reconfirmed

The Dominion Bond Rating Service, Standard & Poor, and Moody's Investment Service have all reconfirmed B.C.'s strong credit rating. The most recent report from Moody's notes the Province's debt reduction efforts of the past few years have put British Columbia in a stronger position to face the economic downturn. DBRS rates B.C. AA (High); Standard & Poor, AAA; and Moody's, AAA.

CRD Tax Notices

The Cariboo Regional District has been informed by the Surveyor of Taxes office in Victoria that a coding error occurred on the Building Inspection Services line item of some Cariboo Regional District (CRD) tax notices. As a result, properties in Electoral Areas D, G, H, and L were inadvertently dropped from the list of taxable properties for this tax item when the service areas were combined, and the entire tax burden was borne by the remaining listed taxpayers in the Building Inspection Services area. Although it does not show on their current year’s tax notice, residents within the Building Inspection Services Boundary, who are residing in Electoral Areas D, G, H, & L are still responsible for this taxation.

In 2011, the Building Inspection Service for Central and South Cariboo was combined with the Building Inspection Service for the North Cariboo.

The Surveyor of Taxes is currently revising tax calculations for this service, and will issue a Notice of Revised Taxes in July, 2011. Some taxpayers will see an increase in taxes, and will have to make payment upon receipt of the revised notice. Other taxpayers in the region will see a decrease in taxes. Credit balances of $100 or more will be refunded to the taxpayer; credit balances of less than $100 will be retained, and the amount will be applied, with interest, to 2012 property taxes. For example a property assessed at $300,000 within the Building Inspection Boundary, and was taxed for the service already, will be receiving a credit of approximately $60. On the other hand, if that property within the Building Inspection Service area was not taxed for the service, they will be required to pay approximately $35 in addition to their original Tax Notice.

For clarity, all affected residents are required to pay the amount indicated on their original tax notice by the due date, regardless of this error, in order to avoid any penalties. Those residents that will be receiving an additional tax bill for their portion of the building inspection costs will be provided with an alternative date for payment of that fee. Tax notices can be paid at local Service BC (Government Agent) offices, which are aware of the situation.

If you require further information on this issue or other local service taxation questions, please contact Scott Reid, Chief Financial Officer for the Cariboo Regional District at 250-392-3351 or toll free at 1-800-665-1636.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Local Government Meetings in Cariboo-Chilcotin: Week of June 27-June 30

There a few local government meetings this upcoming week in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, as follows:

Monday, June 27th - City of Quesnel:

Delegation Session/Committee of the Whole and Special Council Meeting which starts at 7:00pm in Quesnel Council Chambers

See the Agenda/Reports here

Tuesday, June 28th - City of Williams Lake:

Committee of the Whole Meeting which starts at 6pm in the Rick Hansen Boardroom (450 Mart St)

See the Agenda/Reports here

Tuesday, June 28th - District of 100 Mile House:

Regular Meeting which starts at 7pm in 100 Mile Council Chambers (385 Birch Ave)

Tuesday, June 28th - Board of Education (SD #27):

Regular Board Meeting (Final Meeting of 2010-2011 School Year) which starts at 7:00pm in the SD#27 Boardroom (350 2nd Avenue North - Williams Lake)

See the Agenda/Reports here

(Note - CRD Area 'D' Director Deb Bischoff will be a delegation presenting concerns on aggressive dogs in the Wildwood Elementary school neighbourhood area)

Social Media & Local Politicians

There is a very curious story in the Saanich News on social media and local politicians

See that story here

My thanks to Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard, for pointing out this story on his Facebook page

City of WL looks for Receptionist/Cashier

CivicInfoBC (Local Gov't News site) reports that the City of Williams Lake is looking for a Receptionist/Cashier with the job posting closing Monday, July 4th, 2011

See the job posting here

One question though - instead of replacing positions as they come up, Williams Lake Council should ask itself if replacing the position is absolutely necessary or perhaps look at other methods to do the same things with less or contract out even....?

School Districts final portion of 2010-2011 School Year Budget issued

School districts around the province are receiving $12.3 million as the final portion of their 2010-11 school year funding. These funds have been made available because overall student enrolment was lower than districts had estimated.

B.C.’s school districts receive funding for every student they enrol. Preliminary funding for the 2010-11 year was determined last March based on district enrolment estimates. At the time, districts estimated total student enrolment of 557,439 for the 2010-11 school year. Actual enrolment was 555,072 students – 2,367 fewer than anticipated. That difference has resulted in more funding support for each student in the province.


George Abbott, Minister of Education –

“We continue to provide B.C.’s education system with the highest funding ever and I am pleased to see districts are using those funds to benefit students in their schools.”

Quick Facts:

· Total operating funding to B.C. school districts for the 2010-11 school year is $4.663 billion. This includes funding set aside to accommodate enrolment increases.

· In December 2010, districts shared $47.1 million in holdback funding at $88 per FTE student because September enrolment was lower than estimated.

· In May 2011, districts shared $8.1 million in holdback funding at $15 per FTE student because February enrolment was lower than estimated.

· Today, districts will share nearly $12.3 million in holdback funding at $23 per FTE student because May enrolment was lower than estimated.

· 2010-11 marks the first year since 2002, when the current funding method began, that districts collectively have over-estimated their enrolment.

· School districts will receive $4.721 billion in overall operating funding for the 2011-12 school year – an increase of $58 million over current funding levels.

Learn More:

· To view full year 2010-11 operating grant allocations for B.C. school districts, visit:

· Further information on B.C.’s K-12 funding allocation is available at:

School District #27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin):

September 2010 Enrollment Count (Funding): $52,948,320
February 2011 Enrollment Count (Funding): $450,706
May 2011 Enrollment Count (Funding): $380,585

Total Funding for School Year 2010-2011: $53,779,611

School District #28 (Quesnel):

July 2010 Enrollment Count (Funding): $19,000
September 2010 Enrollment Count (Funding): $34,494,156
February 2011 Enrollment Count (Funding): $627,090
May 2011 Enrollment Count (Funding): $426,928

Total Funding for School Year 2010-2011: $35,567,174

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bill C-6 Filibuster by Federal NDP (Updated)

True to their word, the Federal NDP have started their filibuster on Bill C-6 which will effectively order all Canada Post workers' back to work with lower wages than offered by Canada Post for a new collective agreement and binding arbitation.  Don Davies (NDP MP for Vancouver-Kingsway), as at 10:48 BC Time or 1:48am Ottawa time - Friday morning was speaking to Bill C-6.  Jack Layton (Federal NDP Leader) started the 2nd Reading debate off, for the opposition, after Lisa Raitt (Minister of Labour) explained to the House why Bill C-6 was necessary.  (Note - Leader of the Opposition/Prime Minister gets unlimited speaking time but 20 mins for all other members)

If the NDP puts all of its 102 members at 20 mins each to speak at 2nd Reading Stage for Bill C-6 and with debate starting at 8:00pm Thursday (5:00pm BC time), it could be until 10:00pm Friday (7:00pm BC time) before the Bill could go to Committee of the Whole for consideration and then after that stage, 3rd Reading is a formality

UPDATE at 12:37 Friday, BC Time or 3:37pm Ottawa time: NDP have now proposed a hoist motion (Bill C-6 be not read a 2nd time but in six months) so the debate will be on the hoist motion until all opposition members (103 NDP, 34 Liberals, 4 Bloc and 1 Green) have exhausted their speaking rights which could easily occur well late this evening or even early Saturday.  If the hoist motion fails - then debate resumes on 2nd Reading which puts a vote on 2nd Reading and referral to Committee of the Whole sometime Saturday am with Bill C-6 being sent to the Senate sometime late Saturday or even Sunday, depending on how many amendments are proposed by the Opposition NDP, Liberals, Bloc and Greens

UPDATE #2 at 1:30pm Saturday afternoon (BC Time) or 4:30pm Saturday afternoon (Ottawa time) - House of Commons to vote on a motion, in 18 minutes, of "That this question be now put".  Should it carry, then the Speaker will put the question on 2nd Reading of Bill C-6 and should that carry, then it shall be referred to a Committee of the Whole House for consideration where amendments to clauses of Bill C-6 can be proposed and voted on with 20 minutes per member to speak to clauses or amendment(s) to clauses with a total of 22 Clauses to be debated - stay tuned as Commitee debate could get real interesting after 40 hours of debate, just to get to the 2nd Reading Vote

UPDATE #3 at 4:12pm Saturday evening (BC Time) or 7:12pm Saturday evening (Ottawa time) - House of Commons gave 2nd Reading to Bill C-6 and currently is before Committee of the Whole and 21 of the 22 Clauses have been approved and all amendments proposed have been rejected.  At present - NDP House Leader (and MP for Outremont) Thomas Mulcair is speaking on Clause 22 with now David McGuinty (Liberal MP for Ottawa South) speaking on Clause 22

UPDATE #4 at 4:22pm Saturday evening (BC Time) or 7:22pm Saturday evening (Ottawa time) - Committee of the Whole rises to report the Bill C-6 complete without amendments and the House is now voting on a motion of "That Bill C-6 be concurred in (adopted) at report stage" with the vote result being 158 yeas and 133 nays. 

UPDATE #5 at 4:31pm Saturday evening (BC Time) or 7:31pm Saturday evening (Ottawa time)

House of Commons begins 3rd Reading Debate on Bill C-6

UPDATE #6 at 5:10pm Saturday evening (BC Time) or 8:10pm Saturday evening (Ottawa time)

House of Commons adopts C-6 on a vote of 158 yeas and 112 nays.  Bill C-6 is now off to the Senate for approval, starting Monday.  House of Commons is now on its' summer break until Monday, September 19th

BC NDP government bad for the Mining Industry...?

Blogger Bernard von Schulmann says that a elected BC NDP government, either this fall (as speculated by CBC, see here) or by the established date of May 2013 would be bad for the provincial mining industry

See here

Quesnel Mayor says letter writer unfairly defamed Quesnel City Manager

Earlier this week in the Quesnel Cariboo Observer - letter writer Arthur Topham questioned Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom's treatment of Quesnel Councillor S. Thapar on doing his job as Quesnel Council's Finance Chair and also levelled some serious charges against the Quesnel City Manager John Stecyk.  See his letter here

Earlier today - Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom sent in to the Quesnel Cariboo Observer a rebuttal which you can read here

Follow-up post: Community Garden at Cariboo Lodge

Yesterday, I blogged on the poor state of the Community Garden at Cariboo Lodge.  See that blog post here

Earlier today - I received a comment suggesting that I check out the March 28th, 2011 minutes of the Social Planning Council re: Community Gardens & Food Policy Council.  See below, in italics, excerpts from those minutes:

4) Williams Lake Food Policy Council (WLFPC) Community Gardens

Currently the FPC needs 3 million liability insurance for their garden space before the City can allow people to use the sites.

Pursuing insurance for the gardens requires other layers of insurance to be in place within their “parent” organization, at present the SPC. Other options include finding another parent organization (currently there is not enough man power at the FPC to form their own society).

The SPC Executive wants to assist the FPC to get their community gardens available for use as soon as possible and is comfortable keeping the FPC as a sub-committee for the interim, but require more communication with the Board of the SPC. Jay point out that Director’s Insurance for example doesn’t help anyone if the SPC is not involved with the FPC.

It was decided that at least one Director from the SPC Board needs to have an active role within the FPC and report directly to the SPC Executive. Nancy Gale was nominated to be a Board Member for this role and agreed to be the liaison between the SPC Board table and Michelle Daymond the current sub-contracted Food Action Coordinator for the FPC.

The SPC does not currently have the additional insurance policies the FPC requires, and since they have no confirmed funding past June, the FPC offered to help pay for insurance.

Action: Rosanna will follow up with Insurance Agent to pursue further insurance.

The same minutes also indicate that the City of Williams Lake's former Acting Manager of Social Planning (Annie McKitrick) was in attendance at this meeting and I'm now curious why the above has not been brought to the attention of Council, given it was Council who gave its' blessing for both of the community gardens in Williams Lake - Cariboo Lodge and below the WL Secondary field.  Also - on April 13th, 2010 - WL Food Policy Group gave its' word to Council that the Community Garden site at Cariboo Lodge would be monitored (remembering that the Cariboo Lodge site is owned by all taxpayers' in Williams Lake).  Finally - does not Council not takes its role seriously to ensure projects on City land are being properly monitored and express concerns to Staff if there are problems....?  Doesn't appear so in this case

Have Your Say: Residence size and location in the ALR

The places we live and work are important to all of us, but possibly none more so than communities with a rich agricultural tradition.

These communities produce the food British Columbian families rely on, contribute to jobs we depend on, and are home to countless families, friends and neighbours. And like all communities, residents in them are concerned about how their neighbourhoods look and feel, and want to ensure potential developments lead to positive change.

The Ministry of Agriculture is inviting British Columbians to comment on possible guidelines for residence size and location on properties in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). We have been consulting with local governments, farmers, producers, and realtors on the matter, and also want to hear from you.

For an easy way to provide your opinion on whether residences and their amenities in the ALR should be subject to size and location limits, visit:

Your feedback is part of a process to help develop a provincial standard that will help guide local governments throughout the province.

Although the ALR is a provincially designated zone, the regulation of residential buildings within it is primarily determined by the city or municipality in which it lies. A provincial guideline would provide a foundation for consistent decision making, while leaving enough flexibility for local governments to consider their community’s specific issues and needs or the details of a specific property.

With a rapidly growing population and a quality of life in B.C. among the highest in the world, ALR land near our largest urban centres is under increasing pressure for uses other than farming. Both local and provincial governments want to hear your views regarding large estate-style homes on property designated as ALR land.

One school of thought suggests this type of home should be strategically placed so as to maintain the agricultural potential of the land. Others feel property owners can do as they please. What are your views?

We all benefit from sharing ideas and working together, which is why open government and citizen engagement is so important. I encourage you to participate in the ALR Residential Guidelines Survey because we want to hear your thoughts and opinions.

You can participate by visiting the Internet address above, or by clicking on the “ALR Residential Guidelines Survey” button in the top right corner of this website:

The survey is open until Thursday, July 14.

Hon. Don McRae
Minister of Agriculture

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WL Council Approves Statement of Financial Information

At its meeting Tuesday evening, Council approved the 2010 Statement of Financial Information (SOFI), a report required by the provincial Financial Information Act. In addition to the required information, the report contains an additional detailed breakdown of expenses of mayor and council.

All members of Williams Lake Council were within their travel and expense budget ($10,600 for mayor, $5,560 for councillors), and all travel and related expenses are approved by council prior to travel.

In addition, council expenses of $25,973 in 2010 are down 29% from 2009 ($36,774), almost 35% from 2008 ($39,771), and over 52% from 2007 ($54,423).

The mayor’s remuneration in 2010 was $43,687.92, and remuneration for councillors was $15,240.Attached is the detailed breakdown of expenses for council and City staff earning more than $75,000.

In 2010, there were 12 City staff members earning in excess of $75,000, down from 17 in 2009, a savings of $473,459. Comparing 2008 and 2010, the savings total $31,000. Three positions that became vacant were either eliminated or replaced with a staff member at a lower rate. The City’s payroll declined by $65,000 in 2010 compared to 2009.

“This report shows the results of the specific action council took in 2009 to address costs in light of the economic downturn, and our continued fiscal responsibility,” says Mayor Kerry Cook. “We’re pleased to have saved money and kept tax increases minimal.”

Council also received the report from the yearly audit of the City’s finances.

Community Garden at Cariboo Lodge

This is a picture of the Community Garden at the South End of Cariboo Lodge (side nearest Museum of the Cariboo-Chilcotin).  As a background - the idea first went to WL Council at their Committee of the Whole meeting on August 4th, 2009 and Council gave it its' approval with formal Council approval given on August 11th.  Then the local Food Policy Council appeared at the April 13th, 2010 Committee of the Whole Meeting to discuss a formal agreement between the City and the Food Policy Council for this site which included a committment to monitor the site, see here.  The site first opened in May of 2010.  A second "Community Garden" was discussed at the June 29th, 2010 Committee of the Whole Meeting.  See the presentation here.  On September 14th, 2010 - WL Council, in Committee, adopted a new Community Garden Policy which was ratified on September 21st, 2010.  WL Council has not considered any matter relating to the 2 Community Gardens since then, with the Committee of the Whole last sitting on May 17th, 2011

The picture, as above, is a real shame, given so much energy went into developing it and shows, in my opinion, that WL Council is unable to maintain City Council-sponsored projects or have a focused vision.  I wonder if this site will ever again become weed free and will have different vegetables grown here or will the next Council will have a re-visit on the vision for the Cariboo Lodge site including this Community Garden

City of WL Survey shows satisfaction with City Services

Editor's Note - please note that 400 people who participated in the survey out of 11,525 is roughly 3.5% of the total City of WL population or 5.2% of the voting public (roughly 7,700 voters' in the City) and keep this in mind while deciding if the results are in line with the majority of the public

See here for this story from the Rush here

City Council received the results of a 400-person citizen Survey conducted in May at the Council meeting Tuesday evening, and the results show that respondents are pleased with City services.

Respondents were very satisfied with curbside garbage and recycling collection (67% very satisfied), protective (66%) and police services (61%) , and city beautification (62%) Respondents felt there was room for improvement in snow and ice removal (19% not satisfied), sidewalks (16%), and street maintenance (22%).

On the question of what was the single most important issue facing Williams Lake, 37% of respondents answered crime and the safety of citizens, most notably in Boitanio Park. 17% of residents felt the most important issue facing the City of Williams Lake was lack of jobs and poor economy and 7% felt the most important issue was road conditions and maintenance.
Those interviewed also found City of Williams Lake staff friendly (84% rated staff friendliness as excellent, treated people fairly (85%), and willing to go the extra mile (79%).

On City spending, 69% of respondents would advise the City to maintain the same level of services with taxes unchanged, and 18% said improve services with higher taxes. Eight per cent would advise the City or reduce the level of service and lower taxes.

The survey found the favourite thing about living in Williams Lake is the proximity of wilderness, with 24% of respondents giving this response. .

Other favorites included friendly people (13%); recreation and available activities (12%) and the size of the community (11%). The top environmental concern was air quality (31% of respondents), but the majority of citizens are satisfied with air quality in Williams Lake. . Other environmental concerns included wildfires (11%), water quality (10%) and water supply (10%).

“The results of this citizen survey tells Council that we are moving in the right direction, where we need to continue to work hard, and reinforces what we already knew: the City of Williams Lake has an excellent staff delivering excellent services,” says Mayor Kerry Cook. “Thank you to all who participated in the survey – this provides a baseline to measure future results against, and it will assist Council and staff as we go forward in our decision-making.”

The City of Williams Lake contracted Discovery Research of Victoria to undertake a Citizen Survey during the month of May. The survey involved 400 respondents who were contacted by telephone over a two and a half week period and asked a range of questions in order to: Measure citizens’ satisfaction levels with the various City services. Determine the public’s views as to the types of changes needed in City services. Identify areas for improvement. Establish a base-line measurement in the perceived level of service provided by the City. Summarize the public’s views as to the priority of any future operational or facility improvements.

The report is accuarte within ±4.9%, at the 95% confidence interval (19 times out of 20).

The Discovery Research report is available on the City of Williams Lake website at

For more information please contact:

Brian Carruthers - Chief Administrative Officer
The City of Williams Lake
250 392-1763 or

Mid-Week Region News - June 22nd, 2011 edition

In Quesnel:

* Yesterday, on the Rush, Mayor Sjostrom responded to Councillor Thapar's allegation that a $3,000 lawyer bill for a $262 FOI Bill was "ridiculous".  She also stated that City Manager John Stecyk had the authority needed to consult with legal counsel for the FOI Bill and finally - Mayor Sjostrom expressed her deep disappointment that Councillor Thapar chose to express his concerns in the media first, rather than seeing her and the City Manager (J. Stecyk) to receive clarification

* Letter writer Arthur Topham of Cottonwood challenges Quesnel Mayor's attitude towards Councillor Thapar re: accountability of Quesnel taxpayers' dollars - see here

* Letter writer Lorna Schley, Director with Quesnel Naturalists, openly challenges Environment Minister Terry Lake to restore multi-year funding for park interpretation programs and park naturalist - see here

In Williams Lake:

* City of WL Fire Chief introduces community to new sprinkler protection unit for interface fires - see here

* Local RCMP warn the public about the dangers surrounding "pop bombs" - see here

In 100 Mile:

* CRD Area 'L' Director says "Plant Levy" for invasive plants shipped into BC to fund invasive plants programs in BC - see here

* 100 Mile RCMP Officer receives award for rescuing a women during a wildfire on May 2, 2009 - see here

* Local 100 Mile residents' recognized for his "tidiness" efforts - see here

* District of 100 Mile looks like possibility of a prison within its' boundaries - see here

* Change of Guard with South Cariboo Meat Co-Op - see here

Updated: Mayor Cook, Councillor Bourdon and the 2010 SOFI Report

Last night - WL Council gave approval for the 2010 Statement of Financial Information or SOFI Report which must be in Victoria's hands by June 30th

See the Rush story here

While Mayor Cook and Councillor Bourdon made mention that the City has saved $473,000 in senior management salaries in 2009/2010 (which is true) and total WL Council expenses have dropped since 2007 (also true), both Mayor Cook and Councillor Bourdon failed to address the issue of an increase of $676,000 over the last 7 years (2003-2010) to City Staff Salaries/Expenses for those who make less than $75,000 in any given year, including a $400,000 increase in this category in 2009 vs 2010

Also - Mayor Cook has not addressed the issue of how her expenses ($18,867.11) over her first two years in office were earned, compared with Scott Nelson, who had racked up $8,464.19 in expenses in his first two years in office (2006-2007) (twice Kerry Cook's expenses for the same time period) and compared to Rick Gibson's expenses of $3,101 in his first two years in office (2003-2004) which is roughly 6 times what Cook has submitted for expenses

Also - Tom Barr's expenses were tops for Councillors' in 2010 compared to 2009 where he was last in Councillors' expenses and I believe if he runs for Council, that he have to explain to voters on this in addition to the WL Fire Hall Budget overruns of $528,000

Why not? - I believe she didn't address it as it wouldn't be in keeping with her "openness/transparency" and "fiscal prudence" messages as we get closer to November's civic vote

Greg Fry, from the Rush, interviewed me on this subject this morning and I'll post the link here when available

UPDATE - June 23rd at 5:09pm - See the Rush's story on this here (interview with me)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

WL Council Highlights - June 21st Meeting

Present: Mayor Cook and Councillors’ Bourdon, Rathor, Walters and Zacharias

Absent: Councillor Tom Barr

Staff Present:

Geoff Goodall – GM of Planning and Operations/Acting CAO
Cindy Bouchard – Manager of Legislative Services
Ken MacInnis – Communications Coordinator
Tom Chung – IT Manager
Pat Higgins – Director of Finance

Meeting called to order at 6:00pm
Minutes of June 7th WL Council meeting adopted


1) Allison Ruault (Acute Health Services Administrator – Interior Health) appeared before Council to discuss health matters pertinent to Williams Lake

2) Anna Dell (Miss British Columbia) appeared before Canada with regard to her quest to become Miss Canada International – see her letter to WL Council here

3) Mayor Cook, on behalf of WL Council, presented the Central Cariboo Hospice Palliative Care Society with a Community Spirit Certificate


1) After receiving no public submissions, Council approved the 2010 Annual Report

2) Council approved the 2010 Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) as presented and authorized Mayor Cook to sign the statement of financial information approval on behalf of Council

3) Council received the Municipal Contract Policing Resource Requests 2012/2013 report for information; and a "Letter of Approval in Principle" be provided for increases for fiscal year 2012/2013 with a 3.9% increase in 2012 for the RCMP Budget for Williams Lake over 2011

4) Council received the 2011 Williams Lake Citizen Survey Final Report as produced by Discovery Research in May 2011.

5) Council received the 2010 Auditors Report for information (Note – as per Council Resolution – report on allegations pertaining to WL Fire Hall Budget Overrun is in progress and will be presented to Council in due course)

6) Council received an application for DVP #5-2011 (Westridge Ventures Ltd on Foster Way) and referred to the City’s Advisory Planning Commission for review/recommendations. This matter will be formally considered by Council at its’ July 19th, 2011 meeting

7) Council rescinded first reading given to Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw No. 2103 & Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 2104

8) Council awarded the Pavement Rehabilitation 2011 contract to Peters Bros. Construction Ltd. for a total amount of $396,698.90 excluding HST

9) Council approved the purchase of the Smart Card Bulk Water Dispensing System which will be installed adjacent to the existing Sani-Station at the Stampede Grounds and City Staff bring forward the appropriate amending Bylaw(s) for Council’s consideration.

10) Council gave approval in principle for a mural to be painted on the wall of the Central Cariboo Arts Centre facing Borland Street.

11) Council received a letter from the local BIA and gave approval for the local “Street Party” event on Saturday, July 2, 2011 from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm

12) Council proclaimed the week of June 19th – 26th as “Legion Week” in the City of Williams Lake

13) Council received for information the “Council Information Package” as follows:

a) Letter from FCM re: Partners for Climate Program (PCP) – see here
b) Letter from Ministry of Advanced Education re: Tuition Fees at TRU – see here
c) Letter from UBCM re: 2011 Resolution Submission Deadline – see here
d) Newsletter from UBCM re: 2011 Federal Budget Highlights – see here

Meeting adjourned at 7:35pm

HST Referendum & Postal Workers' Dispute

Courtesy of Victoria's Secrets (Mike Smyth's Blog - Political Columnist with the Vancouver Province):

So the government moves up the date of the mail-in referendum on the HST.
Then the mail system shuts down.

Coincidence, you say? Yeah, right. And Osama bin Laden was "buried at sea."
Some people out there smell a rat. Think about it: Support for the HST has been slowly rising, but not fast enough for the government's liking. Most decided voters are still opposed to the HST, with the deadline for returning referendum ballots rapidly approaching.

Therefore, it would be in the government's interest to delay said voting deadline, right? So people will have more time to see the government's "neutral" TV ads about the HST, and change their minds about the tax.

So maybe the government timed the referendum to coincide with the Canada Post labour dispute, you see? That way, Elections B.C. will extend the voting deadlines, more people will get brainwashed about how great the HST is, and then they will vote to keep the HST.

"Obviously, there's some concerns the government has chosen this method to have the referendum," NDP leader Adrian Dix told CHNL radio. "This is likely a delay thing."

Ah, the plot thickens. What did the government know, and when did they know it, about the Canada Post labour disruption when they set the referendum date?

"We did know that they had taken a strike vote, which is not unusual during negotiations," said Attorney General Barry Penner. "And that's why we've been in contact with Elections BC and they assured us that they had sufficient statutory authority to deal with any timing or interruptions in terms of the mail-in referendum ballot.

"But certainly, when we were making the change to move the date forward, I didn't hear the NDP saying that they knew there was going to be a strike, and we didn't know that either when we were making these changes back in April."

Good point. As a matter of fact, the NDP voted in favour of moving up the date of the referendum to June, from the originally scheduled September. Hmm, maybe the NDP are in on it?

Then again, the federal NDP is threatening to filibuster the Harper government's back-to-work bill, which would delay the Canada Post lockout, increase the likelihood of extending the referendum voting deadline, and thereby helping the pro-HST forces. That's right: Jack Layton is helping the pro-HST campaign. What a tangled web.

Then again _ again _ if the government's goal was to delay the referendum, why would they have moved up the date in the first place? Hmm....

Coincidence or conspiracy? Believe what you want, folks, but know this: the truth is out there.

Letter to CRD Board: Statement of Financial Information Report

Earlier today, I wrote about one individual who questioned why the Cariboo Regional District does not have to report Staff salaries above $75,000, as per the Financial Information Act, like the Cities of Quesnel and Williams Lake / District of Wells & 100 Mile House are required to, in addition to the Councils' stipend and expense information.  See that blog post here

At 5:00pm Tuesday, I received information from Victoria indicating that indeed the Cariboo Regional District is required to file the same information just like a municipal council (report out on elected officials' stipends and expenses & municipal staff salary - if above $75,000).  As a result, Wednesday morning, I'll be writing to the CRD Board requesting that they request their Staff to ensure both Directors stipend and expense info & CRD Staff Salary information (provided they make above $75,000) is included in the annual Statement of Financial Information Report.  I'll let you know when I get a response


City of WL begins crack sealcoating operations

This past Monday, the City of Williams Lake began velocity patching on several streets throughout the city, and the City asks for the public’s patience and care.
Velocity patching is used on City streets where there are cracks greater than 5 mm. Cracks are blown out with compressed air to remove dirt and debris and then a cold spray patch emulsion is mixed with a ¼” fractured aggregate is blown into the cracks producing a solid binder. A layer of fractured aggregate is then put down over the crack which stays on the road surface.
“Velocity patching prevents water from entering into cracks in the asphalt, causing premature failure of the road surface,” states Kevin Goldfuss, Director of Municipal Services. “This is one of the three methods the City uses to maintain our road surfaces and keep them safe and strong.”
To address issues in previous years, the City will be using a compacter to pack the aggregate, and excess aggregate is swept 48 hours later. The City has been utilizing velocity patching for the last nine years.
The City asks for the public’s patience during the crack sealing process and that traffic proceeds slowly as loose rock poses a hazard to vehicles and pedestrians.
For more information please contact:
Kevin Goldfuss
Director of Municipal Services
250-392-1783 or

Quesnel Council Highlights - June 20th meeting

St. Laurent project on hold

A complete revitalization of the 200 and 300 blocks of St. Laurent Avenue under the Quesnel Works: Capital Reinvestment Program will require a second look by staff before it proceeds. The project, originally estimated to cost $890,000, would see complete repaving, new curb, gutter and sidewalk, drainage improvements and a new storm sewer system. The low bidder on the job was Jacob Brothers Construction Ltd. for $1,098,371. This total includes all taxes, plus two additional items: paving stones along the length of the project's sidewalks; and enhanced electrical systems to support additional holiday season decorations. Council tabled a motion to proceed and requested that staff identify potential savings and report back for further consideration.

Truck parking getting closer

Truckers in Quesnel could soon have access to several downtown parking spots, allowing them to stop for up to two hours for business reasons or breaks during their working day. Council approved dedicating six new spots. One, on the west side of the 300 block of Kinchant Street, will be put in place soon. The other five require approval from the Ministry of Transportation. They are: the south side of the 200 block of Carson Avenue; the parking lot on Front Street directly south of the Water Wheel (two spots); and two spots on Front Street under the Moffat Bridge, one northbound, one southbound.

Council also approved making Milborn Avenue between Hartley Street and Milborn Lane a no-parking zone. The decisions come on the heels of a request from local truckers to implement truck parking, supporting a vital component of the local economy. They also address safety concerns raised by several West Quesnel residents.

Finances presented

Council received the annual Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) report, a requirement of the Community Charter. The report lists items such as Council pay, expenses and contracts. Council's SOFI expenses in 2010 were $25,313, down from $31,179 in 2009. All City employees earning more than $75,000 are also included in the report, as is a list of suppliers who received more than $25,000 for goods and services.

Quesnel Transit on TAP

City Council approved entering a Transportation Assistance Program (TAP) with the United Way that will see the City provide 150 free transit tickets per month to individuals for emergency or critical situations that require transit use. The United Way will distribute the tickets to appropriate local service agencies, who will then provide them to their clients. The tickets provide a way to access appointments dealing with needs such as employment services, medical aid, counselling or safe housing. The TAP will run for a one-year trial period.

Council also received a report outlining the net cost to the City of its contract with BC Transit (versus forecasts in brackets). In 2008-09, the net cost was $140,151 ($111,412). In 2009-2010 the cost was $182,492 ($203,528) while in 2010-2011 the cost was $185,247 ($248,810). The 2011-2012 forecast is $251,571.

Other news

- Council received a report regarding funding received through the Small Communities Grant (SCG) and Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing Grant (TFRSG) programs. The City received $112,015 from the SCG, using it to fund Quesnel Works: Capital Reinvestment Program projects. The City received $85,120 from the TFRSG, used to help offset local policing costs.

- Council approved the City entering a new, long-term licence of occupation with the Quesnel and District Heritage Association for the Antique Machinery Park. The Association requested a longer-term agreement to provide a stable sense of commitment while allowing greater opportunity for grant applications.

Important Dates

Next Delegation/Committee of the Whole/Special Council Meeting: Monday June 27, 7 p.m.
Next Regular Council Meeting: Monday July 4, 7 p.m.
Next North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee Meeting: Tuesday September 13 - 5:30 p.m.

FightFight HST Video Part 2

In late May of this year - I posted a YouTube video from a UBC Student who took issue with HST claims from Bill Vander Zalm and  See that blog post here

Now - in a new YouTube video - the same UBC student has released his "FightFightHST" Part 2 Video explaining why the HST is good for BC and why the voters' of BC should vote "no" in the current HST Referendum

Regional Districts & Statement of Financial Information Reports

In the last few days - I have posted the SOFI or Statement of Financial Information 2010 reports for the Cariboo Regional District and the Cities of Williams Lake & Quesnel

With regard to the Cariboo Regional District's 2010 SOFI Report, I was left the following comment:

Why aren't the CRD management salaries part of this report?

This is a very good question.  So - after consulting with June Hicklin (Advisory Officer - Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Advisory Services Branch - Local Government), she states that only Section 168(1) of the Community Charter applies - both to regional districts and municipal councils', which is:

(1) At least once a year, a council must have prepared a report separately listing the following for each council member by name:

(a) the total amount of remuneration paid to the council member for discharge of the duties of office, including any amount specified as an expense allowance;

(b) the total amount of expense payments for the council member made to the council member as reimbursement for expenses incurred by the council member or as an allowance that is not reported under paragraph (a);

(c) the total amount of any benefits, including insurance policies and policies for medical or dental services, provided to the council member or the member's dependants;

(d) any contracts reported under section 107 [disclosure of contracts with council members and former council members], including a general description of their nature.

So, with the above in mind, it is clear that the Cariboo Regional District is in compliance, both in spirit and intent of the Community Charter with regard to Section 168(1) of the Charter.  I'm presently in discussions with her (Ms. Hicklin), with regard to the Cities of Quesnel and Williams Lake making reference to the Financial Information Act, which calls for corporations to report on stipends/expenses for members of said corporation and their staff, if they make more than $75,000 in a financial year and I'll advise further when I have that information


New Woodland License for First Nations in Forest Industry

As part of National Aboriginal Day, the Province is announcing a new First Nations’ woodland licence to support increased First Nations participation in the forest sector.

The new First Nations woodland licence is a long-term, area-based tenure. First Nations’ woodland licence holders are required to prepare both management and operational plans to ensure compliance with the environmental values and standards of the Forest and Range Practices Act. The First Nation woodland licence was a recommendation of the Working Roundtable on Forestry.

The First Nations woodland licence includes:

· Exclusive rights to harvest timber on Crown land.

· The right to harvest, manage and charge fees for botanical forest products.

· The ability to practice Aboriginal stewardship.

Only First Nations that sign a Forest Tenure Opportunity Agreement with the Province are eligible for the licence. The licence is awarded without competition and the First Nation is required to follow all provincial regulations and policies including the payment of stumpage and other fees.


Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations –

“This is something First Nations have been specifically asking for. We’ve been working closely with them to develop a licence that meets their specific needs and supports their participation in the forest sector.”

Chief Bill Williams, President of the BC First Nations Forestry Council –

“This new woodland licence will allow our communities to make their own decisions in their territory and create economic opportunities for our families.”

Quick Facts:

· Long-term tenures, starting at 25 years, provide increased tenure security and improve First Nations’ ability to secure investment and loans.

· In March 2009, the Working Roundtable on Forestry released 29 recommendations for “a vibrant, sustainable, globally competitive forest industry that provides enormous benefits for current and future generations and for strong communities.” The report contained five recommendations directed to making First Nations full partners in forestry.

· The Province also has forests and range consultation and revenue sharing agreements with First Nations that provide for revenue sharing from stumpage paid on their licence and from third party harvesting in their traditional territories.

· The Province signed the first direct-award agreement with First Nations in September 2002. Since then, the Province has signed forestry agreements with 172 First Nations providing $288 million in revenue-sharing and providing access to 60 million cubic metres of timber.

Learn More:

* First Nations Forestry Agreements:

· Working Roundtable on Forestry:

· First Nations Forestry Council:

Local News - Tuesday, June 21st edition

* Long running battle between TNG and Taseko Mines continues - see here

* BC Conservative Leader John Cummins in Williams Lake Monday - see here and here

* BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix was also in Williams Lake Monday - see here

* Tribune columnist Diana French, in her column today, discusses Game 7 of Canucks vs Bruins, early start to the local civic election and why there is no entrance sign for the WL Municipal Cemetery - see here

Monday, June 20, 2011

City of WL Council Voting Record - 2008-2011 Term (Dec 08 to June 7, 2011)

As a public service and given this November’s Municipal Elections in Williams Lake – Find below registered “no” votes at all Williams Lake Regular Council Meetings between De cember 1st, 2008 – June 7th, 2011.I'll update this in late October, after nominations close for all elected offices (Mayor/Councillors) - City of Williams Lake

*** Please note – Mayor/Council are deemed to be in favour of items before them unless you register a no or abstain vote ***

December 16th, 2008 –

Councillor Tom Barr votes no to 1st, 2nd and 3rd Reading of Road Closure Bylaw #2080 (Hutchinson Drive)

Councillor Laurie Walters votes no to issue Development Variance Permit #10-2008 (Aviator Hotel – 1820 South Broadway) (Later rescinded by Council Res #139/09 to issue DVP #2-2009)

April 7th, 2009 – Councillor Rathor votes no to 1st, 2nd and 3rd Reading of Financial Plan Bylaw #2096 (2009 City of WL Budget)

April 21st, 2009 – Councillor Rathor votes no to adoption of Financial Plan Bylaw #2096 (2009 City of WL Budget) and to 1st, 2nd and 3rd Reading to Bylaw #2097 (2009 Property Tax Rates)

May 12th, 2009 – Councillor Rathor votes no to adoption of Bylaw #2097 (2009 Property Tax Rates)
June 16th, 2009 –

Former Councillor Natalie Hebert votes no to outdoor patio for Royal Canadian Legion #94’s Liquor License

Councillor Rathor votes no to receive information from BC Coalition with People with Disabilities re: ban on use of handheld communication devices (ie – cellphones) while driving

October 6th, 2009 – Councillor Bourdon votes no to withhold issuing DVP #5-2009 until applicant brings their property into compliance with City of WL Bylaws’ & Staff reviewing Building Permit requirements with the applicant (Later rescinded by Council Res #378/09 at Nov 3, 2009 WL Council Meeting)

January 12th, 2010 – Councillor Rathor votes no to use emergency powers at 238 Crosina Crescent and to receive Mayor Cook’s 2010 appointment to different Portfolios/Committees

April 6th, 2010 – Councillor Rathor votes no to Bylaw #2107 (2010 City of WL Budget)

April 20th, 2010 – Councillor Rathor votes no to relocate light standard for 409 Smith Street at property owners’ cost, adopt Bylaw #2107 (2010 City of WL Budget) and to 1st, 2nd and 3rd Reading of Bylaw #2109 (2010 Property Tax Rates)

May 11th, 2010 – Councillor Rathor votes no to adoption of Bylaw #2109 (2010 Municipal Tax Rates Bylaw)

May 25th, 2010 – Councilor Bourdon and former Councillor Natalie Hebert vote no to referring appeal of revoking business license of Boot Cabaret to an In-Camera Meeting

August 10th, 2010 – Former Councillor Natalie Herbert votes no to price structure of surplus reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) from Mackenzie Avenue project

October 5th, 2010 – Councillor Rathor votes no to allow exchange of grand piano to satisfy debt of $9,312 from Community Arts Council re: outstanding rent at former Heritage House at Cariboo Lodge Site

December 21st, 2010 – Councillor Bourdon votes no to 2011 Grant-in-Aide List approval

January 11th, 2011 – Councillor Barr votes no to approve 2011 Service Delivery Review and refer $7,500 Citizen Survey to 2011 Budget Process

February 8th, 2011 –

 Councillors Barr & Rathor vote no to allow Mayor Cook to attend Local Gov’t Leadership Academy in Richmond on Feb 16-18, 2011

Councillor Walters votes no to City Staff investigating the ability to claim HST for meal expense reimbursement and this matter being referred to the next budget discussion.

March 22th, 2011 – Councillor Walters votes no to a request for a permissive tax exemption from the Williams Lake and District Day Care Society being denied

April 5th, 2011 –

Councillor Rathor votes no to 1st, 2nd and 3rd Reading of Bylaw #2136 (2011 City of WL Budget), adoption of Secondary Suite Policy, 1st Reading to Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2134 (Secondary Suites), Sewer Works Amendment Bylaw #2130, Water Works Amendment Bylaw #2131

Former Councillor Natalie Hebert votes no to an additional $10,000 be allocated to the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay Event in the 2012 Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex operating budget and that the organizing Committee bring back a detailed budget of the event

April 19th, 2011 – Councillor Rathor votes no to adopt Bylaw #2136 (2011 City of WL Budget), give three readings to Bylaw #2137 (2011 Municipal Tax Rates), give 2nd Reading to Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2134, voted against Committee of Whole recommendation to increase transit fares as proposed by City Staff

May 3rd, 2011 – Councillors Barr, Rathor, Walters and former Councillor Natalie Hebert voted against issuing DVP #3-2011 and Councillor Rathor voted against adopting Bylaw #2137 (2011 Municipal Tax Rates) and adopting Bylaws #2130, 2131, 2134 (Secondary Suite Bylaws)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Voting Record at Committee of Whole WL Council for Dec 1st, 2008 - May 17th, 2011

As a public service and with the November municipal elections coming up – I wanted to provide the residents’ of Williams Lake a voting record on all no votes recorded at all Committee of the Whole Council Meetings from Dec 1st, 2008 until June 17th, 2011.  I'll update this in late October, after nominations close for all elected offices (Mayor/Councillors) - City of Williams Lake

*** Please note – Mayor/Council are deemed to be in favour of an item before the Committee unless the Mayor or an individual Councillor asks that a no vote be recorded in the minutes ***

August 4th, 2009 – Councillors Bourdon and Walters voted no to allow a 50% reduction of a curb cut bill for Brian Cotterell

February 2nd, 2010 – Councillor Rathor voted no to defer consideration of a Wood First Resolution pending a report from the Public Works Portfolio on cost implications and further investigation

April 13th, 2010 – Councillor Rathor voted no to approve 2010 Municipal Tax Rates and bringing forward Bylaw #2109 for the required readings

August 31st, 2010 – Councillors Barr and Rathor voted no to send a letter to FCM/Ottawa asking the census short-form questions that appear on the census long form be mandatory

March 1st, 2011 – Councillor Walters voted no to approving in principle the creation of an Industrial Revitalization Tax Exemption program and City Staff draft an Industrial Revitalization Tax Exemption bylaw based on the objectives, eligibility and amount of exemptions

March 15th, 2011 –

Councillors Rathor and Barr voted no to allowing Mayor Cook to report back to Council and appointing a member of Council to attend the 2011 Federation of Canadian Municipalities Convention to be held June 3 to 6, 2011 in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Mayor Cook and Councillors Barr, Bourdon, Zacharias and former Councillor Hebert all voted no to a contribution being approved for the Williams Lake & District Daycare Centre in the amount equal to the 2011 property tax calculation for 660 2nd Avenue North for approximately $1,430 and that the contribution agreement be entered into for 2011 only

May 17th, 2011 – Councillor Bourdon voted no to approving a Saturday Farmers’ Market in Herb Gardner Park

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pat Bell's Top Ten for June 17th

1. BC Hydro and Conifex Timber are teaming up to generate clean, renewable bioenergy in Mackenzie. On Friday we announced new agreements that will create 80 construction jobs and 20 permanent jobs in the region, strengthen the local forest industry and add new clean energy to British Columbia's electricity mix. Conifex will invest approximately $50 million to upgrade its existing power infrastructure to create a bioenergy facility with a 36-megawatt steam turbine. The fuel will be sourced from the residuals produced at Conifex's lumber manufacturing and log harvesting operations. More great news for Mackenzie!

2. A new state-of-the-art Cross Laminated Timber plant in Okanagan Falls, which officially opened Friday, features innovative technology that will change the way wood is used in B.C., providing another boost to B.C.’s forest industry and regional economic growth.
The plant takes structural laminated wood products to the next level by producing a new line of CLT, CrossLam, which has been compared in strength to concrete – but is up to six times lighter.
A multi-layer solid timber panel is constructed by bonding dimensional softwood lumber, with each layer at an alternating right angle. The result is a ready-to-use solid wood building system that offers many advantages to commercial and multifamily construction. These benefits include: faster construction time, greater versatility and stability, and significant environmental benefits. It also uses locally sourced, sustainably managed resources, including western hemlock – which has historically been underutilized – and mountain pine beetle-killed wood.
With wood products currently making up 16 per cent of commercial and institutional construction – compared to roughly 95 per cent in residential construction – there is significant opportunity to expand the use of wood products in B.C.

3. Whether you’re a parent looking to try something new with the kids or an experienced angler passing on your skills, families can cast a line into B.C.’s freshwater lakes and streams this Father’s Day weekend for free. The 12th Annual Free Family Fishing Weekend is held June 17th to 19th and allows families to fish for free in freshwater lakes and non-tidal streams anywhere in B.C..

4. When John Eckland came to B.C. from the U.S as a business immigrant under the B.C. Provincial Nominee Program in 2006, he decided to settle in Kaslo. With a $2.8-million investment, Eckland completely renovated the Kaslo Hotel, creating 24 new jobs and providing thousands of dollars in spinoff benefits to local businesses. In 2010, he was named one of the top ten Kootenay businesspersons of the year. Under the same program, Dr. Shyr Chui emigrated from the U.K. to B.C. in 2010 and today helps meet the health-care needs of patients as a radiologist at the Prince George Regional Hospital. As shown by a new, independent evaluation report, these are just two examples of the many success stories resulting from the B.C. Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP), which provides accelerated permanent resident status to qualified workers and entrepreneurs based on labour market and development priorities. The report notes that from 2005 to mid-2010, a total of 203 entrepreneurs who received permanent resident status through the program invested over $423 million in British Columbia, creating more than 1,100 jobs. More than half of the total investments made and jobs created were outside Metro Vancouver.

5. More than 180 communities across the province can do more to support and promote tourism as a result of provincial funding. This year one million dollars is being shared among 300 grassroots projects through the Community Tourism Opportunities (CTO) program, now in its third year of operation. Growing in popularity, applications to the program have increased 13 per cent this year. The Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation program assists communities to implement their own tourism initiatives with the Province acting as a funding partner by providing matching monies upon the completion of eligible projects. Individual communities are eligible for up to $9,200 from the Province. In instances where clusters of communities have collaborated on a proposal, the maximum available funding is $23,000.

6. B.C. small businesses have innovative ideas on how to conserve energy, but many do not have the time or money to make their ideas happen. The $550,000 LiveSmart Champion Program can help small business make their energy-efficient ideas a reality. Small business can submit their energy saving ideas to the Ministry of Energy and Mines starting June 14, 2011. Applications will be evaluated on project feasibility, energy and cost savings, innovation, and their benefit and value to other companies and the community. To become a LiveSmart Champion, small businesses must spend less than $50,000 per year on electricity and meet program eligibility requirements. Applications must be submitted by Monday, Aug. 15, 2011 at 4 p.m. to be considered. Successful applicants will be eligible to receive up to $25,000.

7. The Province is providing $1.35 million to the BC Cattlemen’s Association (BCCA) as this year’s portion of a $10-million, six-year highway and railroad livestock fencing plan. The program is a commitment under the Ranching Task Force Report, in partnership with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Ministry of Agriculture and the BCCA. This six-year program began in 2010 with planning and prioritization of projects. Construction will take place through 2015, with a total of about 700 km of fencing built to guard provincial highways and railways from straying cattle.

8. Working together, B.C.’s Civil Forfeiture Office and the BC Securities Commission have reunited 37 Canadians with the full amount of $190,121 they lost to fraud in 2003. Two B.C.-based companies targeted the investors, largely through word-of-mouth promotion. The investments offered by Wellspring Capital Group promised investors a return on their investments through various business schemes. Investors paid for their investments through a numbered company that called itself Springpay Systems. In reality, the only source of funds for Wellspring’s income programs was new investors’ money. The companies later admitted to operating illegal Ponzi schemes. Acting on a tip from authorities in the U.S., where similar scams were discovered, the BC Securities Commission located the Canadian investors’ funds in B.C. bank accounts. The commission froze the funds, investigated, then referred the matter to the Civil Forfeiture Office, which pursued a successful forfeiture action and then returned funds to investors.

9. I’d like to congratulate Brad Waghorn and Jeff Elder and all of the guests on a successful Visions luncheon. The luncheon held last week raised $18,000 for the CNIB – money that will go to supporting research and programs designed to support Canadians dealing with vision loss.

10. In Mackenzie you can celebrate Father’s Day with the annual Mackenzie Elks Family Fishing Derby at the Alexander Mackenzie Landing or tonight celebrate “ Summer Solstice Night” at the Spirit Square with music food and fun!

Local Political News - June 18th edition

In Quesnel - the running saga over who is fiscally responsible with Quesnel taxpayers' money continues with Councillor Sushil Thapar accusing Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom and Quesnel City Manager John Stecyk of spending $3,000 on a lawyer for a $262 FOI (Freedom of Information) Bill recently handed to (and revoked) Councillor Thapar.  He called the $3,000 lawyer fee "ridiculous".  At this point - Mayor Sjostrom or Mr. Stecyk have not commented on this story, but I imagine that Mayor Sjostrom is just at her limits, as far as Councillor Thapar's antics

Meanwhile in Williams Lake (from the Rush):

Walt Cobb’s decision to run for Mayor of Williams Lake has elicited the reaction of some City Councilors.

Sue Zacharias had this to say - “As much as I like Walt and I respect what he’s doing and I respect the fact he’s a past Mayor and MLA, I emphasize that is in the past.”

Zacharias says she’ll be throwing her support behind current Mayor Kerry Cook who she calls a great collaborater.

Councilor Laurie Walters has reacted to Cobb’s assertion there’s a lack of experience on Council.

“I don’t find it offensive. I mean everyone’s entitled to their own opinions, for me I know what I’ve contributed. I’ve been in this community for over 35 years. And yes, the first few years on council there’s been a tremendous learning curve.”

Surinderpal Rathor says “I’m glad Walt is running. Walt has as much a right as anyone else to put their name forward.”

Rathor says he plans to run in November but hasn’t decided if it’ll be for Councilor or Mayor but confirms he's heard rumours of a 3rd "High Profile" candidate for the race to become Mayor of Williams Lake for the 2011-2014 Term but wouldn't confirm the name

2010 City of WL Stipend/Expense List

On Tuesday, WL Council will receive a Staff report from the City’s Director of Financial Services (P. Higgins) on the Statement of Financial Information or SOFI for the year ended December 31st, 2010 which details stipend, salary and expenses information for all members of WL City Council and Senior City Staff and other financial information. You can read that staff report with the 2010 City of WL SOFI Report here

For the record:

Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook – Stipend and Expenses:

In 2010 – City of WL stipend of $43,687.92 plus CRD Stipend of $12,126.00 with City of WL expenses of $10,048.87 totaling $65,898.69

In 2009 – stipend of $44,051.96 with expenses of $8,818.24

In 1 year (2010 vs 2009) – stipend was down $363.08 while expenses went up $1,230.63

2010 Stipend/Expenses for City Councillors Barr, Bourdon, Hebert, Rathor, Walters and Zacharias (most to least):

Councillor Tom Barr – stipend of $15,240 and expenses of $4,672.89
Councillor Geoff Bourdon – stipend of $15,240 and expenses of $3,545.60
Councillor Laurie Walters – stipend of $15,240 and expenses of $2,726.23
Councillor Sue Zacharias – stipend of $15,240 and expenses of $2,101.31
Councillor Natalie Hebert (nee Montoya) – stipend of $15,240 and expenses of $1,925.88
Councillor SPS Rathor – stipend of $15,240 and expenses of $979.61

2009 Stipend/Expenses for City Councillors Barr, Bourdon, Hebert, Rathor, Walters and Zacharias (most to least):

Councillor SPS Rathor – stipend of $15,367 and expenses of $7,878.19
Councillor Laurie Walters – stipend of $15,367 and expenses of $6,209.93
Councillor Geoff Bourdon – stipend of $15,367 and expenses of $5,890.07
Councillor Natalie Herbert (nee Montoya) – stipend of $15,367 and expenses of $4,466.85
Councillor Sue Zacharias – City of WL stipend of $15,367, CRD total stipend of $ 14,128.00 and City of WL expenses of $3,973.73 equals total salary of $33,474.73
Councillor Tom Barr – stipend of $15,367 and expenses of $2,968.92

Councillor Expenses Analysis (2009 vs 2010):

Councillor Tom Barr – expenses up $1,703.97
Councillor SPS Rathor – expenses down $6,898.58
Councillor Laurie Walters – expenses down $3,483.70
Councillor Natalie Hebert (nee Montoya) – expenses down $2,540.97
Councillor Geoff Bourdon – expenses down $2,344.47
Councillor Sue Zacharias – expenses down $1,872.42

Mayor Expenses Analysis for 2 year periods (2003-2010):

Former Mayor Rick Gibson for 2003-2004: Total expenses of $3,101 or average of $1,550.50 per year
Former Mayor Scott Nelson for 2006-2007: Total expenses of $8,464.19 or average of $4,232.10 per year
Current Mayor Kerry Cook for 2009-2010: Total expenses of $18,867.11 or average of $9,433.55 per year

Interesting Notes:

• Total paid to City employees (under $75,000) in 2009 (salary/expenses) - $4,879,775.93. In 2010 – this amount was $5,280,042.39 or an increase of $400,266.46 in a one year period with 12 Staff Salaries having to be reported.  Back in 2003 - only 1 Staff Salary (former Director of Planning and Engineering) was reported and the amount paid to all Staff (salary/expenses) was $4,593,755.83.  An increase in 7 years of $686,286.56

• In 2010 - $111,821.05 paid to United Concrete (wonder how much was connected to the Mackenzie Ave Project?) In 2009 – they received $66,080.69

* Senior Staff  in "$100,000 Club" (close to $100,000 or above $100,000) during 2010 totals 4 -

Brian Carruthers - CAO at $140,342.47
Geoff Goodall - General Manager of Planning and Ops at $115,132.33
Randy Isfeld - Fire Chief at $99,554.45
Kevin Goldfuss - Director of Municipal Services at $106,778.05

Final Conclusions:

While Kerry Cook and Tom Barr’s expenses are up in 2010 vs 2009, the rest of the Councillors’ expenses are down (that’s a good thing by the way) and we’ll have to wait and see if Mayor Cook and Councillor Barr have to answer politically for this in November’s civic vote but certainly it doesn’t bode well for Mayor Cook’s insistence that she plans to run on fiscal responsibility when the Fire Hall Budget was considerably over its’ allocated budget of $6.5 million, Spirit Square Project was over its allocated budget and her Council expenses are considerably higher than the last two (2) City of WL Mayors put together ($7,302 over former City of WL Mayors’ Rick Gibson/Scott Nelson’s expenses combined)

Both Kerry Cook as Mayor of Williams Lake and Tom Barr as General Governance Committee Chair need to explain to the voters' of Williams Lake why their expenses went up in 2010 vs 2009 compared with their colleagues whose expenses went down in 2010 vs 2009.  Failure to do so will, I believe, earn them a frosty reception at the doorstep this fall

It’ll be a very easy time, in my opinion, for anyone challenging current Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook, to legitimately criticize her on her claim that she is fiscally responsible