Saturday, April 30, 2011

Local Gov't Meetings in Cariboo-Chilcotin - Week of May 2-6

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

Tuesday, May 3rd - City of Quesnel:

Regular Meeting that starts at 7:00pm in Quesnel Council Chambers (410 Kinchant St)

See the Agenda/Reports here

Tuesday, May 3rd - City of Williams Lake:

Regular Meeting that starts at 6:00pm in WL Council Chambers (450 Mart St)

See the Agenda/Reports here

Also - there is a Public Hearing on Bylaws #2130, 2131 and 2134 (Secondary Suites) that starts at 7:00pm, again in WL Council Chambers

Tuesday, May 3rd - District of 100 Mile House:

Regular Meeting that starts at 7:00pm in 100 Mile Council Chambers (385 Birch Avenue)

Thursday, May 5th - Cariboo Regional District:

Central Cariboo Rural Caucus meets at 3:00pm in the CRD Committee Room - see the Agenda/Reports here

Central Cariboo Joint Committee meets at 5:00pm at the Central Cariboo Arts Center.  See the Agenda/Reports here

Editor's Note - the Joint Committee will receive a monthly report from the Central Cariboo Arts & Culture Society (CCACS).  One item they discuss is the recent adjudication process for the recent round of arts and culture grants totalling $20,000.  3 independent people who have a interest in arts/culture but no connection to the CCACS to evaluate the grant applications was excellent to see although the CCACS President/Coordinator were present to answer technical questions and to coordinate the process.  I'd still like to see, at the end of the day, the Coordinator being only involved to answer technical questions from the adjudication panel and coordinate the process to the CCACS Board but it was a fantastic start from the CCACS to ensure the Arts and Culture grants were reviewed arms-length prior to the CCACS Board making recommendations to the Central Cariboo Joint Committee for formal Board approval

Also, the CRD Board will be having a Special In-Camera (Closed) Meeting which starts at 7:30pm in the CRD Boardroom.  The closed meeting will be held under Section 90(1)(j) of the Community Charter - duty to not disclosure business information under Section 21 of the Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Act.  See the Agenda here

Friday, May 6th - Cariboo Regional District:

Regular Board Meeting which starts at 9:30am in the CRD Boardroom (Suite D - 180 North 3rd Ave)

See the Agenda/Reports here

Friday, April 29, 2011

Service Delivery Phone Survey - City of WL

From the City of WL:

As part of the City’s Service Delivery Review, Discovery Research will be surveying 400 citizens by telephone, beginning on May 9 and throughout the following two weeks.

The survey consists of 31 questions concerning quality of life in Williams Lake, issues facing the community, use and satisfaction with City services, and preferred method of contact with the City, among others. The interview should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

The survey will assist the City as it works to complete the Service Delivery Review, one of the 10 Corporate Priorities outlined by City Council for its term of office. The Service Delivery Review will set out a process for staff and Council to prioritize services that should be reviewed and then provide a framework to actually undertake the review. Important questions to be asked of any municipal service include:

1. Is the service necessary?
2. If yes, is the service meeting the needs of the citizens?
3. Is the service being delivered as cost-effectively as possible?
4. How can the service be improved?
5. Are there other ways of delivering the service?

Following the close of the telephone surveys, residents will have the chance to participate in the citizen survey by visiting the City’s website at www.williamslake.ca for a two-week period beginning May 24.

“We want to hear what residents think, and we want them to have their say,” says Mayor Kerry Cook.

“It’s important that we receive feedback so we can improve our services, and be even more effective and efficient in delivering them. We ask anyone who receives a call from Discovery Research to take the time to do the survey, and that others take the survey online when it is available.”

Sign Bylaw Review - City of Quesnel

The City of Quesnel is undergoing a review of its Sign Bylaw.  You can particpate in that review here

The deadline for providing input is Monday, May 23rd

For more details, visit http://www.quesnel.ca

End of Week News - April 29th edition

Quesnel's Mayor clarifies the status of the North Cariboo Multi-Centre Project - see here

City of WL Fire Department has an Open House on Sunday, May 8th from 10am to 2pm - see here

Vaughn Palmer (Vancouver Sun political columnist) talks with Rich Coleman (Government House Leader/BC Energy Minister) about work plans at BC Legislature - see here

Mike Smyth (Vancouver Province political columnist) reviews the Federal NDP voter surge and what impact that has on BC voters - see here

BC Premier Christy Clark will try to minimize any HST repayment if the HST Vote this June goes "No" - see here

Thursday, April 28, 2011

2nd Public Meeting on Boulevards – City of Williams Lake


Yesterday, Geoff Goodall (City's General Manager of Planning and Operations) and Brad McRae (Senior Bylaw Officer) met with 15 residents to discuss the thorny issue of parking on City-owned boulevards.

The Senior Bylaw Officer reviewed the questions that were asked at the last meeting last week and what the City's answers to those questions were

During a PowerPoint presentation - Goodall/McRae outlined a compromise proposal which will allow a property owner, if they receive permission from the City, to extend the driveway width from 3 metres (10 feet) to 9 metres (28 feet) with an application date of October 31st of each year which would see the "extended" driveway with paved material (installed at owner's cost) and a sign post, put in at City's cost, to show where the driveway is and where the City's boulevard starts. Mr. Goodall stated clearly anyone who applies for this proposal cannot have the rear end of the passenger vehicle (no RV/Boats are allowed to be parked in the extended drive) extend beyond the end of the "boulevard parking area".

The following topics were covered as well:

  • Secondary Suites and Parking for Tenants & their Guests (subject is up for Public Hearing on May 3rd at 7:00pm in WL Council Chambers)
  • Disregard for Parking in an established driveway
  • Enforcement – Policy vs Bylaw and how to proceed
Finally – Geoff Goodall said something that got my interest up and that is:

It's an election year and we're trying to get as much stuff done as we can

Question – is that because City Staff know they have it good right now with City Council and don't want to wait and see what voters' hand City Staff on November 19th in terms of a new City Council

Just asking….

Update on City of WL Noise/Nuisance Bylaw Amendments

Earlier this year - the City hosted two Public Consultation Meetings on possible amendments to the Noise and Nuisance Bylaws.  At these meetings - concerns were raised about the City's intentions vis-a-vis realities that City landlords face under the Residential Tenancy Act.  As a result of those concerns raised - City Staff discussed those concerns with the Residential Tenancy Board and the Board will be appearing before WL Council, likely at a Committee of the Whole Meeting to clarify issues around amendments to the City's Noise and Nuisance Bylaws.  No date as to when the Board will appear before Committee of the Whole (WL Council)

Stay tuned

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Public Works to commence in Williams Lake Downtown Core (Oliver Street/3rd Avenue)

From the City of Williams Lake:

The City of Williams Lake will be replacing water services, improving sidewalks, updating a traffic light, and paving along Oliver Street in the coming months.

Civil works between 3rd Avenue and Mackenzie Ave are scheduled to begin on Sunday, May 8, and expected to last six weeks. There will be intermittent periods of traffic disruption. Work is anticipated to be performed from Sunday to Thursday during daylight hours. In an effort to perform the work while keeping the downtown open and accessible, traffic and street parking on Oliver Street will be limited to the north lane only while contractors are at work. While steps will be taken to mitigate disruption, schedules and traffic restrictions may change if circumstances require. The public is asked to exercise caution in the area of construction and to obey signs and the instructions of flagging personnel.

Later in the summer, following the Stampede, Oliver Street will be repaved from 8th Avenue to Mackenzie Avenue, and crosswalk and sidewalk letdowns will be completed.

“If there is a need to block Oliver Street completely, this will commence after hours beginning at 7p.m. and will continue into the evening until the work has been completed,” says Director of Municipal Services Kevin Goldfuss.

The traffic light at 3rd Avenue and Oliver Street will be upgraded in the same way the light at 2nd Avenue and Oliver earlier this year. Also at 3rd, the crosswalk will be replaced, and sidewalk letdowns will be installed to allow easier use for wheelchairs and strollers. The sidewalk between 3rd Avenue and Borland Street will also be replaced. At 2nd Avenue, the crosswalk will be rebuilt. At 1st Avenue, the crosswalk will be rebuilt, and sidewalk letdowns will be installed. The lane adjacent to Courthouse Square will also be repaired. Water services will be provided to city planters, and some sanitary sewer and water lines along Oliver Street will also be replaced. The corner of Oliver Street and Mackenzie Avenue was upgraded during the paving of Mackenzie last year.

“The water services on Oliver Street were installed in the early to mid fifties and this work is necessary to improve City infrastructure and will ensure that the investment that is required today will last for many years,” says Mayor Kerry Cook. “With all the underground work being done, the new traffic lights at 3rd and Oliver Street, sidewalk improvements and the repaving will make the downtown core more inviting and attractive.”

The total project cost is budgeted at $600,000. (Hopefully - the City sticks to this budgeted amount as their record, to date, to sticking to budgets for Public Works Projects is very poor - ie: Fire Hall Project and the Spirit Square Project just to name two)

Mayor Cook & Democratic Principles

Last week - I blogged on the unfortunate comments from the City of WL CAO over the 2011 Budget where he was critical of a suggestion from WL City Councillor Surinder Rathor (use $392,000 of 1st Quarter 2011 Gaming Funds to eliminate 2011 3% property tax increase) - see that blog post here

After which - I received a comment which agreed with the blog post, in general, however it is a couple of lines of that comment that I wish to address:

Firstly - the commenter said, in part:

I was sickened to hear that she called someone at home on their personal time to address a letter that was written against her. Why would someone of her stature do that to someone else except to intimidate them with her position"
 If this person is referring to what I call the "Ollie Martens" case (Ms. Martens suggesting, in 2010, why City residents should have to heed watering restriction when the City doesn't and I thought it was a great letter and raised an excellent point, is this a case of the City saying "Do as I say and not as I do") - I've been aware of this issue for about a year but chose not to make an issue of it but since then, I've heard this complaint a number of times throughout the community.  Firstly - the public, generally speaking, provides its input to politicians in various ways which could include:

1) Phone call to elected official(s) at home, work or City Hall
2) Use of Social Media Tools (ie - Blog, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube)
3) Letters to the Editor
4) One on One contact on the street
5) Emails or Traditional Letters

All of the above forms of contact between the public/elected officials needs to be congratulated as they (public) is trying to provide input to make Williams Lake or, in the case of the local Regional District, the Electoral Area the very best it can be.  In fact - I bumped into CRD Area 'E' Steve Mazur earlier today to discuss the Mountview Water Project and he told me that nothing new had been received and they were waiting anxiously to see if the project will get funding but as has been previous practice - Ottawa got more applications than money available so they're going through the applications with Victoria and announcements will be made in due course.  I find him to be very approachable when wanting to discuss CRD-wide or CRD Area 'E' issues.  I also find the same with WL City Councillors Tom Barr, Geoff Bourdon, Surinderpal Rathor

As a rule - politicians contacting people at home is not a bad thing as long as the elected official (Mayor, Councillor or Electoral Area Director) is looking to either:

1) Returning a Phone Call
2) Requesting a meeting at the local Municipal Hall or CRD Office to explain a "Letter to the Editor" in a very polite and diplomatic manner to clarify their concern and hash out, again in a polite manner, what the issue is and what the options are and to ensure that they (public) are kept in the loop on developments

Anything else (talking with voters' in a negative way) is unacceptable and voters should say so to elected officials who try to complain to the voter re: a letter to the editor that they recently wrote

Secondly - the commenter also stated:

. I watched when Mayor Cook and Councillor Zacharias admonished Councillor Rathor on two different occasions when he spoke his opinion which was contrary to their own..this does not speak to me of a democratic society but one of an attempted dictatorship or at least one of a subtle intimidation

This  was a result of the April 5th meeting where WL Council was debating to give "approve-in-principle" to the City's 2011 Budget (1st, 2nd and 3rd Reading).  While previous Mayors/Councillors have always disagreed with Councillor Rathor's comments, none have been as personal as Mayor Cook and Councillor Zacharias.  While I wouldn't agree with the use of the word "intimidation" and "dictatorship", I would agree that the actions of Mayor Cook/Councillor Zacharias on the 2011 City of WL Budget & 5-Year Financial Plan are not keeping with local democratic principles which requires polite and civil disagreements (ie - I respect and appreciate Councillor Rathor's views but I don't agree with him on opposition of the 2011 Budget and I'm going vote for this budget).  Had Mayor Cook and Councillor Sue Zacharias done this - I suspect that they would have more respect from the community - certainly more than they enjoy at the moment as Councillor Rathor enjoys, at the moment, a huge amount of support and that support will likely be there when he seeks re-election this fall

SBF

PS: Stay tuned over the next few weeks where I will be running two poll questions, pertaining to the Civic Election (what issues matter to you & support for Williams Lake Mayoralty candidates) and also a blog post where I will muse about the potential runners for Mayor/ Councillors of Williams Lake for the 2011-2014 Term

Quesnel Move for Health Day on May 7th

West Fraser Timber Park will be alive with healthy activities as Move for Health Day returns on Saturday May 7 from noon to 4 p.m. The event, hosted by Leisure Services and funded by the City of Quesnel and Cariboo Regional District, offers a wide range of free activities for people of all ages to try out.

“This is a great event year after year as our community comes together to celebrate physical activity and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle,” said Mayor Mary Sjostrom. “By being active, we become healthier, both physically and emotionally. I encourage our residents to take part and to try a new activity for free.”

“This event really gets North Cariboo residents thinking about healthy lifestyles and the benefits that go along with them,” added Cariboo Regional District Vice-Chair Ted Armstrong. “Whether you’re trying a new sport, learning a new dance style or taking in one of the educational displays, there’s something for everyone at Move for Health Day.”

The “try it out” event at the park involves more than 20 community organizations and their instructors teaching the basics about their activity with the public. Some of the options include archery, horseshoe pitching, tennis, canoeing and much more. Residents who take part in at least five activities at the park can enter the Adult Fun Activity Challenge. People are also encouraged to take alternate modes of transport to the park, such as biking or walking.

New this year to Move for Health Day are salsa dancing, roller skating and geocaching. There will also be a gardening seminar dealing with topics such as: container and raised bed gardening; extending the growing season; and planting vegetables. It is presented by Stephanie Waring, landscape designer, and Ellen Boutotte, Master Gardener.

In addition to the events at the West Fraser Timber Park, there are several other healthy initiatives taking place. Local fitness centres, including Curves, Gold City Fitness, Gold’s Gym and the Quesnel and District Arts and Recreation Centre will open their facilities free of charge between noon and 4 p.m. The 14th Annual Walk and Wheel in support of the Quesnel Spinal Cord Society takes place at 10 a.m. beginning at Ceal Tingley Park. And the Quesnel and District Museum and Archives hosts a Heritage walk led by Museum Curator Elizabeth Hunter, beginning at 2:30 p.m. at the museum.

Once again, Leisure Services wants to hear your success stories; residents who are active for at least 10 minutes that day are encouraged to let staff at the Arts and Recreation Centre know about it.
All this results in many ways to win a number of great prizes. The most active elementary and high school in the school challenge on May 6 will win 2-for-1 passes to the Arts and Recreation Centre for each student. North Cariboo residents can win prizes such as sporting goods or free gym admission for a month. Participants can enter when they report their activity by calling 250-992-8200 or by e-mailing move@quesnel.ca

Did you know?
• Being active will help you stay healthy, live longer and improve your quality of life.
• Exercise slows the rate of bone loss and reduces the chances of acquiring osteoporosis.
• Active people have a lower risk of colon cancer and breast cancer than sedentary people.
• Regular physical activity decreases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, stroke and high blood pressure.
• Only 15% of children, 23% of women and 26% of men are active enough to benefit from exercise.

HST Referendum Legislation Out & Open Fire Use restrictions in effect Monday

BC's Attorney General introduced legislation which will see the vote on the HST done under the Referendum Act rather than the Recall and Initiative Act - see here

Also - An Open Fire Use restriction ban will take effect at noon (12:00pm) on Monday, May 2nd, 2011 - see here

Mid-Week News - Wed April 27th edition

In Quesnel:

* Seems the move of the Quesnel Millionaires to Chilliwack is "all but done".  See here
* Also - Independent Cariboo-North MLA Bob Simpson says a community event needs to happen to put pressure on Victoria/Ottawa to build the $30 million Multi-Centre Project (NHL sized ice rink with 2,000 seats & Performing Arts Center with 450 seats) and I agree with Bob on this move as the local politicians like Quesnel Mayor Sjostrom/CRD Vice-Chair Ted Armstrong have gone the distance to lobby politicians in Victoria/Ottawa for funding on this project and so far, haven't come up with the $15 milllion or more for this project.  Also - the Central Cariboo region consisting of CRD/City of WL will soon need to look at upgrading the local Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex which short-term needs $10 million + in upgrades to sustain this facility.  If Quesnel can't get $15 million for its' proposed Multi-Centre, Williams Lake getting financial help for $10 million or more for the CMRC does not look promising and I'm not sure borrowing $10 million for the Complex, even when spread over taxpayers' in the Central Cariboo region, looks promising given the City of WL already carries $19 million in long-term debt and a good chunk of that will not be paid off until 2030, at the earliest

* Finally - Quesnel RCMP is looking for Tyler Lawrence Lisk who is wanted for violating 4 Probation Orders - see here

In 100 Mile House:

* South Cariboo Aquatic Society wants referendum on pool project in 100 Mile House - see here
* Lac La Hache Elementary avoids school reconfiguration - see here
* Surrey and Bridge Lake resident Ann Blades says Bridge Lake land swap should be vigorously opposed - see here

In the Vancouver Sun:

* Political columnist Vaughn Palmer says BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix's critic appointments sends a message...a message of that he wants polarize the voters' (NDP vs Liberals) in advance of the next provincial election - see here

* Sun columnist Daphne Bramham blasts Victoria for not moving forward on amendments to Local Government legislation, pertaining to civic elections until the 2014 BC Civic Elections - see here

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

CRD Board Highlights - April 20th Meeting

CCRHD Invests in Canadian Cancer Society’s Residential Lodge for the North

The Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District (CCRHD) will provide a letter of support and $60,349 in capital funding for the Canadian Cancer Society’s project to build and operate a 36 bed Residential Lodge in Prince George, BC adjacent to the Northern Cancer Centre. This new Lodge will provide a "home away from home" for individuals and their caregivers traveling to Prince George for treatment.

IH Physician/ Professional Staff Recruitment Plans

Allison Ruault of Interior Health appeared before the Board and presented a proposal to develop Physician/ Professional Staff recruitment plans for Williams Lake and 100 Mile House. Consistent with communities of similar size, Williams Lake and 100 Mile experience challenges in recruiting new physicians and other health care professionals to the area. Recruitment is as dependent on the community as the position itself. Many areas have been more successful in attracting candidates to positions when there is a strong partnership between the health authority and the local community. The CCRHD moved to support the development of these recruitment plans with $15,000 from their funding allocation for partnerships with foundations and other non-profit organizations.

Williams Lake and Area Interface Fire Plan Update

Mike Simpson, of the Williams Lake and Area Interface Fire Plan Secretariat, appeared before the Board to provide an update on fuel management activities in the region. He highlighted past accomplishments and future plans for the secretariat. Mr Simpson also stressed the importance of educating area residents about how they can implement their own fuel management plan. More information about the plan can be found on the City of Williams Lake website at www.williamslake.ca

Energy efficiency Projects for 150 Mile & Bouchie Lake

150 Mile Community Club and Bouchie Lake Recreation Commission will be receiving Community Works funding for energy efficiency projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save money on lighting and heating costs. $1,500 of Community Works Funds will be allocated to the 150 Mile Community Club to perform lighting upgrades at the the 150 Mile Community Hall. Up to $30,000 of Community Works Funding will be allocated to the Bouchie Lake Recreation Commission to install insulated doors, insulation, and perform upgrades to the lighting.

Library amnesty week

The Cariboo Regional District Library has declared an amnesty on library fines up to $20.00 per library card during the week of May 3 to 7, 2011. The amnesty is becoming an annual tradition and in return for waiving fines, the CRD would like to request that the public bring donations of recommended nonperishable foods to be provided to local area food banks.

Forest Capital Magazine Launched

The Forest Capital Committee has launched, Our Backyard – Forests of the Cariboo Chilcotin, a commemorative magazine illustrating the various uses of our forests where we work, live and play. The magazine is available to the public at no cost, however only 10,000 copies are available. The publication is geared towards people who want to learn more about the region, making it an ideal read for people interested in relocation, investing in or travelling to the Cariboo Chilcotin. Copies are available at all CRD offices, in our libraries, and at tourism information centres throughout the region. The magazine may also be viewed online at the CRD website.

Forest Capital Lecture Series

This spring and fall, the Forest Capital Committee will host the 2011 Forest Capital Speaker Series. These sessions are open to the general public and organizations that are interested in climate action and communities in transition at no cost. The Speaker Series will provide access to two leading experts in their respective fields of study. This will enable residents to have the opportunity to learn, debate and discuss two of today’s hottest topics: Climate Action and Communities in Transition.

In May, Mr. Dave Leman, Coordinator of the Northern Climate Change Network will be in Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100 Mile presenting Reducing Our Carbon Footprint. Mr. Leman will offer ideas on how individuals and communities can reduce their carbon footprint, with reference to some of the traditional and emerging technologies, practices and programs which can be easily implemented. Visit www.cariboord.bc.ca for more information about this lectures series.

Board Proclamations

Shades of Fun Day – May 26th
National Day of Mourning - April 28th
CRD Library Fines Amnesty Week – May 3rd -7th

Next Board Meeting

Friday, May 6, 2011

Provincial/Federal Political News - Tues April 26th edition

In the Province:

* Political Columnist Micheal Smyth looks at the developing situation involving Vancouver-South Conservative candidate Wai Young - see here

Editor's Note - your chances for election can't be good when your own "flesh and blood" won't vote for you.  Liberal Vancouver-South MP Ujjal Dosanjh can get comfy for another term

* Independent Cariboo-North MLA Bob Simpson calls for summit on bio-energy.  See here

* Adrian Dix announces his critic appointments.  See here (Black Press) and here (Globe and Mail)

Editor's Note - While I wasn't surprised that Dix put fellow NDP Leadership Candidates in critic posts, it is interesting to see Dawn Black put into the post of Assistant Deputy Speaker (NDP) of the BC Legislature and Carole James with no critic role.  But moving Mike Farnworth from Solicitor-General/Opposition House Leader to Health Critic - this after Mr. Farnworth coming 2nd in the NDP Leadership Race - I have to ask - WTF?!?!.  Could this backfire on Mr. Dix?  Possibly...Mr. Farnworth is the NDP's most effective weapon in shaming BC Liberals

Tuesday News Round-up - Tues April 26th edition

In the WL Tribune:

* Write-up on last Wednesday's Federal All-Candidates Forum - see here
* Tribune asks the 7 Federal Candidates to respond to 11 questions - see here
* 2 Fires over the Easter Weekend kept the WL Fire Department busy - see here
* WL & Area Seniors' Advisory Council Chair Audrey MacLise wants voters' to think about federal candidates mean for seniors' living on the poverty line - see here

At Welcome to Williams Lake:

* WL Fire Chief Randy Isfeld gives some sage advice to WL Fringe Area residents on grass fires - see here

* Good interviews with Federal NDP and Green Candidates - see here (NDP) and here (Green)
* Easter activities at WL Seniors' Village  - see here

On the Rush's website:

* Alcohol Bootlegger busted (again) in Williams Lake - see here
* Federal Candidates state their views on corporate taxes - see here
* Wrap up of Federal All-Candidates Forum in 100 Mile - see here
* Advance Polls for the 41st Federal Election busier than 2008 - see here

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bits 'n' Bytes - April 23rd edition

1) WL Council adopts 2011 Budget

See the Tribune article here.  However, it is one comment from the City CAO (B. Carruthers) that I'm disappointed in:

Rathor’s request was made at the eleventh hour, said Carruthers, noting that to accommodate any change the five-year plan would have to be rescinded, rewritten, reintroduced and adopted all before the May 15 deadline set out by the Community Charter

I'm disappointed that he didn't take the high road when disagreeing with a Councillor, and in fact, he should have steered clear of the media when it comes to talking about the Council debate to approve the 2011 Budget/2011-2015 5 Year Financial Plan.  The CAO and his Staff's job is to provide information to Council and it's Council that decides the budget and takes the "flak" from the public on it.  Criticizing a member of Council, even indirectly, is something that City Staff should steer clear of.  There is one exception - if Councillor Rathor had directly attacked Staff and suggested that they had a political agenda, as Quesnel City Councillor Thapar did to Quesnel City Staff at the April 4th Quesnel Council meeting, then Mr. Carruthers would be correct to be critical of Councillor Rathor but as this wasn't done - Mr. Carruthers should have avoided being critical of Councillor Rathor over his budget comments on April 19th

In fact, his statement to Council (as played on Shaw Cable Ch 10) was the appropriate one (recommendation to not use gaming funds for operations) and left it at that.  Also - if $392,000 is available for this year's budget (and I have no reason to doubt Councillor Rathor's information), why not use it to balance the budget with a 0% tax increase.  This is merely political will.  Also, there is exactly 23 days before the City is statutory required to submit its' annual budget/5 Year Financial Plan and adopt both the Budget/5-Year Financial Plan and Tax Rates Bylaw to Victoria.  More than enough time to re-do the budget, consult the public and adopt it prior to May 15th

2) Quesnel Council gives 3 readings to its 5 Year Financial Plan/Tax Rates Bylaws

See the Quesnel Cariboo Observer article here.  However, it is interesting to see Quesnel Council's Finance Chair (Councillor Shushil Thapar) vote against his own budget.  Will this have a bearing on Quesnel's civic election?  Time will tell but given his other public antics.....I wouldn't be surprised if he (Thapar) has a direct role in helping in the Mayor's race in Quesnel

3) HST Phone Town Halls

The Province of BC announced Thursday that BC Finance Minister Kevin Falcon & BC Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom will host HST Phone Town Halls throughout BC in the last week of April (Monday, April 26th) and ending Thursday, May 12th.  See the Press Release with instructions here.  The HST Electronic Town Hall for our region will take place on Wednesday, May 4th at 6:45pm


4) Williams Lake & Flouride

As my blog readers' know - a community decision was made many years ago to inject flouride, or
Hydrofluorisilisic Acid, into the City's water supply upon a recommendation of Health Canada which suggests a rate of Flouride of 1 part per million or ppm.  Since then, there has been 2 community votes (referendum) with the last one, to the best of my knowledge, being in 2005, to continue putting flouride into the City's water

On Tuesday - WL Council, meeting in Committee of the Whole, will receive a recommendation from both the City Manager of Water/Waste (Joe Engelberts) and the City's Water Advisory Committee which recommends that the City discontinue putting flouride into the City's water system, due to health risks to City workers and a recommendation from the World Health Organziation from the summer of 2010.  You can read the Staff/Committee report here with background documents here (WHO Report), here (Dental/Skeletal Fluorosis), here (Healthlinks BC), here (1999 Provincial/Federal Joint Committee on Fluoridizing water), here (Media Coverage on Fluoridizing Water), here (List of BC Communities that continue to put flouride in their water), here (What is Flouride) and here (Communications Strategy)

There are a number of issues to consider:

1) The City is having some difficulty to get the flouride necessary to place into the City's water supply and there has been and continues to be a health risk to City workers, given the flouride is an acid, but presumably the voters' were aware of this when the original vote was taken to put flouride into the City's water and the last two "re-votes" to continue

2) With a vote as late as 2005 - I personally believe it is too soon to go back to voters and ask them to vote again as this will be the second election cycle since we visited this topic.  The vote in 2005 was decisive enough.  The communications strategy is going to cost the City's water fund $33,000 to implement a public engagement strategy.  Given the tough times, I think that the $33,000 could be put to better use, like putting that money into the City's Water Fund Reserve for emergencies

Nonetheless - the debate will potentially put dentists, who last time, argued why putting flouride into the City's water is necessary vs those who argued why flouride should be removed.  If there is going to be a community vote this fall - this should be the last one for sometime as you should not keep going back to the voters' because the WHO or other groups comes out with a report stating the benefits to put flouride into the City's water supply is overstated.  With 2 votes in 10 years - I believe the voters' have spoken clearly and we need to get on addressing other matters that are more critical important

Finally - I hope to discuss this matter with the Water Advisory Committee Chair, John Dressler, so I can get a sense of why the Committee made this recommendation and advise further after my chat with him. 

Also - City Staff will inform Council that Council could, instead of a community referendum this November, ask Victoria for permission to repeal the flouride bylaw with any conditions that Victoria deems necessary.  However, if the flouride bylaw was adopted, via a referendum, then the decision to discontinue the flouridization of the City's water system should also be, by referendum.  Anything else is "undemocratic"

Updated City of Williams Lake Evacuation Plan in place

The City of Williams Lake will present its enhanced Emergency Evacuation Plan to the public during the Williams Lake Fire Department’s annual open house Sunday, May 8th.
"We invite everyone to come and see how we’ve improved our Emergency Evacuation Plan to better serve the needs of the community," says Fire Chief Randy Isfeld. "We encourage everyone to learn how the plan applies to their residence or workplace and how the community will be evacuated in the event of an emergency."

Revisions to the evacuation component of the City’s Emergency Response Plan were undertaken over the winter in response to the wildfires that briefly threatened the City last summer. The evacuation plan follows the three-stage evacuation process approved by BC’s Interagency Emergency Preparedness Council (IEPC): evacuation alert, evacuation order, and evacuation rescind.

An evacuation alert informs the population at threat of a potential impending danger, and may allow for the affected population to begin a orderly preparation to leave the affected area. An Evacuation order is a formal written order for the impacted population to evacuate the area specified immediately. Evacuation orders are mandatory and do not allow for discretion on the part of people in the affected area. An Evacuation rescind allows for the impacted population to return to a specified area.

The Evacuation Plan divides the City into 12 zones, which allows for specific areas to be evacuated where an evacuation of the entire city is not

required. Another purpose of the Evacuation Zones is to provide designated gathering areas for those residents who do not have transportation to leave the affected area. Buses will be provided to transport those individuals to a safe area.

The plan considers evacuations from a number of hazards or events including wildfires, earthquakes, severe weather, and toxic spills, among others.

Deputy Fire Chief Des Webster presented the plan to Council at its April 19 meeting, and the plan will also be available for view at the Fire Department’s open house May 8th at the fire hall at 230 Hodgson Road.

The Evacuation Plan will be available on the City’s website and will eventually be published in local resources such as the Guide to Active Living, Info Book.

Local Gov't Meetings in Cariboo-Chilcotin - Week of April 26-29

There are a few local governments meeting this week in the Cariboo-Chilcotin this upcoming week:

Tuesday, April 26th - City of Quesnel:

Delegation/Committee of the Whole Meeting which starts at 7:00pm in Quesnel Council Chambers (410 Kinchant St)

See the Agenda/Reports here

Tuesday, April 26th - School District #27:

Regular Meeting which starts at 7:00pm in the Board of Education Boardroom (350 2nd Ave North)

See the Agenda/Reports here

Tuesday, April 26th - City of Williams Lake:

Committee of the Whole Meeting which starts at 6:00pm in Committee Room #1 at WL City Hall (450 Mart St)

See the Agenda/Reports here

Editor's Note - The City had posted the April 13th Community Services Committee Agenda however it has been subsequently removed.  I think that this was a mistake and I would publicly call on City Hall to post all of Council's Standing Committee Agendas.  The voters/taxpayers' have a right to see what Council's 3 Standing Committees are considering (subject to them going In-Camera)

Tuesday, April 26th - District of 100 Mile House

Regular Meeting which starts at 7:00pm in 100 Mile Council Chambers (385 Birch Ave)

Wednesday, April 27th - City of Williams Lake:

Public Meeting on Parking on Boulevards.  Meeting starts at 7pm until 9pm in WL Council Chambers (450 Mart St)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Detailed Analysis for 2011 Property Taxes - City of Williams Lake

In an effort to provide detailed information on your property tax bill for this year – I've done up a table showing the individual items that taxpayers, in all property classes, will pay this year by July 1st.  The rates for each property class are given in the format of "x per $100,000" as it is the easiest way to figure out your overall property taxes, based on your property assessment

Source: Bylaw #2137 (2011 Muncipal Tax Rates).  See the City Staff report and bylaw here

Please note – the table does not include school taxes payable (City of Quesnel does this and I'd like to see that here) as well as Municipal Finance Authority Tax.  Click on the picture below for the details:
Also - in a future post and as a public service, I will post the voting records from December 1st, 2008 - April 19th, 2011 of all members of Williams Lake Council when they voted no to an item before Council so stay tuned for that

SBF





Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Federal All-Candidates Forum #1 in Williams Lake (Updated)

Earlier tonight at 7:00pm - the Northern Real Estate Board and the local Chapter of the Council of Canadians co-sponsored an All-Candidates Forum for the Federal Election in the "Great Room" at the Central Cariboo Arts Center which was about two thirds's full and it was moderated by Ross McCoubrey (Miocene resident/Chair of the Miocene Community Assoc)

Candidates present included:

Conservative MP Dick Harris
Liberal Sangeeta Lalli
Green Heidi Redl
Christian Heritage Party Henry Thiessen
NDP Jon Van Barneveld
Independent Jon Ronan
Rhino Party Jordan Turner

After a 2 minute opening statement from each of the 7 candidates, there was a question and answer period.  Questions included:

* Are you seeking a majority gov't/How do we trust you/Would you vote against your own gov't?
* Safety of Nuclear Energy
* Healthcare - Public or Private?
* P3's for water systems - in favour or not?
* Electoral Reform

Jordan Turner of the Rhino Party provided the most entertaining answers of the night.  All in all - a great session with another "All-Candidates Forum" tomorrow (Thursday) night at Wildwood Elementary starting at 7pm.  Most of the candidates at tonight's forum are scheduled to be at tomorrow's forum.  

If you didn't make tonight's forum - make sure you come to tomorrow's All Candidates Forum for the Federal Election and get your question(s) answered before Advanced Voting for the 40th Federal General Election which starts Friday, April 22nd with other Advance Voting Opportunities on Saturday and Monday.  For a list of places where to vote in advance of the General Voting Day on May 2nd, check out the Elections Canada website at http://www.elections.ca

UPDATE - From the Rush:

Around 50 people showed up for an all candidate’s federal question and answer session Wednesday night at the Arts Centre in Williams Lake.

The seven candidates running for the position of MP in the riding of Cariboo-Prince George answered a total of nine questions which were pre-selected by two moderators.

One question touched on electoral reform, an issue NDP candidate Jon Van Barneveld thinks needs to be addressed.

He says Canada needs a proportional representation system and argues it would better represent people’s views in Ottawa.

Both the Green and Christian Heritage Party candidates agreed while Liberal Sangeeta Lalli and Conservative Dick Harris said they’re both satisfied with our first past the post system.

The candidates will be back at it again Thursday night at Wildwood Elementary.

Muncipal Tax Rates for Williams Lake - 2010 and 2011 Tax Years

Earlier today, I was left a comment around municipal tax rates and specifically residential/business rates going down - so as a public service, pls see below for all tax classes in Williams Lake for 2010/2011 Tax Years

Please note two things:

1) The rates quoted will be in $100,000 of assessed value  (buildings/land) due to BC Assessment measuring property values per $100,000

2) The rates quoted are for the City/Cariboo Regional District purposes only - they do not include tax rates charged by Victoria for School Taxes and the Muncipal Finance Authority

2010 Property Tax Rates:

Residential - $532.98 per $100,000 of assessed value
Business - $1,102.00 per $100,000 of assessed value
Light Industry - $3,371.00 per $100,000 of assessed value
Major Industry - $8,414.29 per $100,000 of assessed value
Recreation/Non Profit - $1,478.95 per $100,000 of assessed value
Farm - $1,830.28 per $100,000 of assessed value
Utilities - $4,000 per $100,000 of assessed value

2011 Property Tax Rates:

Residential - $526.03 per $100,000 of assessed value
Business - $1,120.44 per $100,000 of assessed value
Light Industry - $3,471.80 per $100,000 of assessed value
Major Industry - $8,842.58 per $100,000 of assessed value
Recreation/Non Profit - $1,483.38 per $100,000 of assessed value
Farm - $1,840.48 per $100,000 of assessed value
Utilities - $4,000 per $100,000 of assessed value

Final Analysis:

1) Residential rates from 2010 to 2011 went down due to higher property assessment from 2010 to 2011 but all other property tax classes went up to maintain the same level of money required to run the City and that is not good news as Light/Major Industry and Business, put together, count for more than 50% of property tax revenue for the City and as these property classes provided the majority of jobs in Williams Lake - continually rising property tax rates could force these property tax classes to make tough choices including leaving our community which inevitably has an impact on the residential property tax rate, regardless if your property assessment went up or down.

For the record - Industry (Major/Light), Business, Farm, Recreation/Non-Profit is a multiple of the residential rate (and yes, this is done province wide).  Also - the City is at the maximum allowed for the Utility tax rate of $40 per $1,000 of assessed property value or $4,000 per $100,000 of assessed property value

Source: April 19th WL Council Meeting Highlights

Quesnel Volunteer Citizen of the Year Named

Dianne Greenwood, who has spent more than two decades ensuring Quesnel's Good Cheer campaign is a success, was named the 2010 Volunteer Citizen of the Year at a banquet Tuesday evening to laud Quesnel's community of exceptional volunteers.

Greenwood has spent a remarkable amount of time over the past 24 years to help less fortunate people and families enjoy the Christmas season. For 20 of those years, she's been the co-ordinator of the program, staffing the drop-off centre, doing community awareness work and distributing Christmas hampers to people in need. Greenwood credits the community for its giving spirit.

Liz Miller, Sheri Coles and Wes Sissons, the other nominees for 2010, were also applauded for their contributions by the more than 100 people in attendance. In addition, Janice Butler, Cathy Heinzelman and Bev Pontius were awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for all the work they've done to build and support a vibrant arts and theatre culture in the community, including the ever-popular Youth Entertaining for Service and Kersley Musical Theatre productions.

"These are all outstanding community ambassadors. Dianne's work with Good Cheer is so valuable to our community, and Janice, Cathy and Bev's spirit and giving nature have brightened many a concert," said Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom. "On behalf of City Council, I am honoured to congratulate all our nominees this year - we are thankful for the effort you put forth towards making our community a better place."

"Volunteerism is an engine that drives our community," added Quesnel Volunteer Citizen of the Year Committee Chair and City Councillor Ron Paull. "Recognizing, rewarding and celebrating our volunteers bring out the best in us. I thank this year's award recipients, the nominees, nominators and, most importantly, all our volunteers in Quesnel."

A bonus to the evening was a silent auction of the flowered centerpieces provided by event sponsor Blumko Flower Art and owner Kobus Westraadt. The auction raised more than $580 for the Shiraoi-Sendai Relief Fund.

The Quesnel Volunteer Citizen of the Year program is a joint venture of the City of Quesnel and the Quesnel Cariboo Observer. A committee of past citizens of the year judges the nomination packages and administers the event.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

WL Council Highlights - April 19th Meeting

Present: Mayor Cook and Councillors’ Barr, Bourdon, H├ębert, Rathor, Walters and Zacharias (joined meeting at 7:43pm)

Staff Present:

Brian Carruthers - CAO
Cindy Bouchard - Manager of Legislative Services
Geoff Goodall - GM of Planning and Ops
Tom Chung - IT Manager
Ken MacInnis - Communications Coordinator

Meeting called to order at 6:00pm
Minutes of April 5th, 2011 WL Council Meeting approved

Delegations:

1) WL RCMP Detachment Commander (Staff-Sgt) Warren Brown presented to Council the 2011 1st Quarter Crime Stats
2) Mayor Cook, on behalf of Council, presented the 2010 Certificate of Merit Award to the following individuals:

• Tanna Lauriente
• Brittany Denny
• Carl Lam
• Kanyon Gleeson
• Jason Gordon (absent at the presentation)
• Cassidy Porter
• Sheldon Lainchbury
• Katharina Koppe
• Holden Brown

3) Darlene Doskoch, from the local Canadian Mental Health Association, appeared before Council to give an update on Jubilee Place - see her presentation here
4) Fred McMechan appeared before Council to request a proclamation for “Enjoy Nature” week from May 9-14
5) Ron Halas, COO of Spanish Mountain Gold & Marissa Nobauer, Associate Consultant of Cantana Consulting appeared before Council to present information on the Spanish Mountain Gold project, near Likely.  See his presentation here

Editor’s Note – Ms. Nobauer advised that a public meeting on this project would be forthcoming in the next few months. Stay tuned here for details for the date/time for that meeting(s)

6) Des Webster, Fire Prevention Inspector, appeared before Council to present the City’s Evacuation Plan.  See his presentation here

Editor’s Note – The City intends to have a public meeting on the Evacuation Plan in the very near future and at May's WL Fire Depart. Open House  Again – stay tuned for details here

Mayor Cook declared a recess at 7:40pm
The meeting resumed at 7:45pm

Mayor Cook then requested Councillors’ to be careful with speaking to business items tonight, given this is an election year, otherwise others may complain

Editor’s Note – Doesn’t Mayor Cook trust the City Councillors to act like adults? And who is she referring to when Cook says “others may complain”. I guess we can call the Mayor “Control-Freak Kerry”.  For proof of this: Watch the WL Council meeting video on Shaw Cable - Channel 10 at 8pm Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at 7am

Business:

1) Council adopted Bylaw #2136 (2011-2015 Financial Plan/2011 Budget) – Councillor Rathor opposed

Editor's Note - Councillor Rathor informs me that the 1st Quarter 2011 Gaming Funds is equal to $392,000, more than enough to wipe away the 3% property tax hike.  However, the City CAO warned Council not to do so as it is an estimate rather than a firm number, but Council could make up the $300,000 in other ways as well by ditching the "Tree Farm" Project at the WL Regional Airport, deferring the Station House Gallery project until 2012 and putting the $200,000 into tax relief for property owners rather than putting that into the "Pavement Reserve"

2) Council approved the proposed 2011 Municipal Property Tax Rates and Bylaw No. 2137 (2011 Property Tax Rates) was read a 1st, 2nd and 3rd time and further, objectives and a policy for tax distribution in future budgets will be developed by Council – Councillor Rathor opposed

3) Council directed Staff to publish in a local newspaper, notice of availability of the parcel tax rolls for inspection and the requirements and time frame for lodging complaints/challenging the rolls; and further, that Council schedule tentative dates for the Parcel Tax Roll Reviews to be held in Council Chambers, if required, as follows:

Water and Sewer - Thursday, May 5, 2011 @ 10:00 am
Water and Sewer-South Lakeside - Thursday, May 5, 2011 @ 10:15 am
Downtown Parking and Beautification - Thursday, May 5, 2011 @ 10:30 am4

4) Council received for information the report of the Communications Coordinator re: 2011 1st Quarter Economic Indicators

Editor's Note - The report will be available online at www.williamslake.ca and paper copies will be made available.  Also the City CAO advised Council that the new City website is behind schedule by at least 3 weeks which puts the new website being live by the end of May.  I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what Brian Carruthers and his staff have come up with for the City's new website

5) Council received the notes from the Advisory Planning Commission meeting held April 12, 2011 and Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 2134 regarding Secondary Suites was read a second time and a Public Hearing be scheduled for Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 7:00 pm in Council Chambers at City Hall – Councillor Rathor opposed

Editor’s Note – lots of discussion on lack of APC Members not attending the April 12th meeting. Perhaps if Councillor Zacharias or Mayor Cook attended an APC meeting in the near future, it would assist APC members in letting the politicians know why they aren’t able to attend APC meeting(s)

Councillor Walters, on the next item, declared a conflict of interest as the applicant is related to her family

6) Council accepted the application to amend Zoning Bylaw No. 1825 by allowing for the construction of a hockey rink training facility upon Lot C, District Lot 6483, Cariboo District, Plan BCP38984 through a text amendment to the permitted uses in the General Industrial (M-2) zone; and Council gave first reading to Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 2132 and that the application was forwarded to the Advisory Planning Commission for their comments and recommendations.

Councillor Walters returned to Council Chambers

7) Council referred DVP #3-2011 to the Advisory Planning Commission for its review/recommendations. Council will formally consider the DVP at its’ May 3rd meeting

8) Council approved free transit service on Wednesday, June 8, 2011 in recognition of Clean Air Week.

9) Council awarded the tender for Pavement Marking 2011 / 2012 / 2013 to G&D Line Marking in the amount of $177,084.30 (3 year total) excluding HST

10) Council awarded the acquisition of revised orthophotography to Terrasaurus Ltd. in the amount of $17,000.00 excluding HST.

11) Council authorized the Mayor and Corporate Officer to sign the Accountability Agreement with NDI for capital upgrades at the CMRC.

12) Council awarded the contract for a Boiler Replacement at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex to RL7 Mechanical Ltd. for the tendered price of $148,911

13) Council awarded the contract for a Brine Header Replacement at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex to Fraser Valley Refrigeration for the tendered price of $60,850

14) Council supported the Special Occasion Liquor License request from the Williams Lake Cycling Club to host a concert/dance/beer garden in conjunction with the Peel Out event scheduled from 6 pm – 11 pm on May 21, 2011 in Gibraltar Room of the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex pursuant to City Policy & subject to RCMP approval.

15) Council agreed to 3 Committee of the Whole Recommendations as follows:

a) Council received the report of the Planner dated April 5, 2011 providing an update on the public engagement process and comments provided on the Draft Official Community Plan for the City of Williams Lake and the proposed adoption schedule be approved:

First Reading and Capital Plan Review - May 3, 2011
Government and Agency Referral Process - May 5, 2011
Public Consultation at City Hall - May 16, 2011
Advisory Planning Commission - May 17, 2011
Second Reading - May 24, 2011
Public Hearing, Third Reading and Adoption - June 7, 2011

b) Council approved increases to the Transit fares as follows:

Cash Fares:

Adult - $1.00 to $1.25
Senior/Student - $.75 to $1.00

Book Tickets:

Adult - $.95 to $1.13
Seniors/Students - $.70 to $.90

Monthly Passes:

Adult - $32.00 to $37.00
Senior/Student - $24.00 to $28.00
HandyDART - $1.50 to $1.75

Councillor Rathor opposed

c) The Summary report from the Fraser Basin Council on the Sub-regional Workshops held on Climate Change Adaptation was received and members of Council were encouraged to attend the Adapting to Climate Change in the Central Cariboo and Chilcotin Region-Wide Workshop on April 28, 2011 from 5pm to 9pm.

16) Proclamations:

a) "Nature Awareness and Appreciation Week" – May 9th to 14th
b) “Day of Mourning” – Thursday, April 28th
c) “Vision Health Month” – May 2011

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

March 29, 2011 – Letter from District of Barriere re Donation of Work Truck - see here
March 30, 2011 – Letter from Province of BC Office of the Premier re Tuition Fees at TRU - see here
March 31, 2011 – Letter from Community Social Services re Social Services Awareness Month - see here
April 4, 2011 - StreamTalk Newsletter, Spring 2011 - see here
April 6, 2011 - Member Release from UBCM re West Nile Virus Risk Reduction Initiative - see here
April 8, 2011 - Member Release from UBCM re Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative - see here
April 2011 - Information re Home Owner Grants and Northern & Rural Area Homeowner Benefit  - see here

Members of Council gave oral reports on issues/events occurring in the City
Meeting adjourned at 8:35pm

Video - Donna Barnett announces $3 million for local Beetle Action Coalition

Last Friday, Local Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett announced that the Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition would receive $3 million for its activities

See the video below:

Quesnel Council Highlights - April 18th Meeting

Tax Bylaw gets three readings

Council gave three readings to its Five Year Financial and Tax Rates Bylaws. Barring any last-minute changes, there will be a total average tax increase of 4.1% to most classes, including residential. That increase is $25.04 for the municipal portion for the average house assessed at $164,260. This is based upon the average assessment increase in Quesnel of 4.3%. If a home's assessment increased by more than the average, the tax increase is more than the average; if it is less, then the tax increase is less. The bylaws will be presented for final readings at the May 3 Council meeting.

Financial statements approved

Ron Rasmussen presented his review of the City of Quesnel's Financial Statements for the year ending Dec. 31, 2010. The audit's purpose is to examine the amounts and disclosures on financial statements, assess the accounting principles used and evaluate the overall financial statements.
Particular mention was made of the City's infrastructure deficit. All communities are facing the issue of aging infrastructure and the need for reinvestment. A new accounting method introduced last year for roads, sewer and water systems, buildings and other assets identified Quesnel's infrastructure gap at around $45 million based on historical costs. This is the issue that the City's Quesnel Works: Capital Reinvestment Plan is designed to help address.
In his report to Council, Rasmussen commended the City and Council's continued commitment towards creating financial strength. He also pointed to staff's good work in compiling the materials needed for his audit.

Volunteers recognized

Quesnel City Council presented the 2010 Volunteer Citizen of the Year nominees with certificates of congratulations. Sheri Coles, Dianne Greenwood, Liz Miller and Wes Sissons were all commended for their ongoing volunteerism and commitment to the community. The 2010 Volunteer Citizen of the Year will be named at a banquet on Tuesday April 19.

Co-op rezoning moves ahead

Council approved the first two readings of Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw amendments to allow for a development at the Vanderhoof Cooperative Association card lock and bulk fuel storage site. The amendments allow for a zoning change from M-1 (Light Industrial) to C-4 (Highway Service Commercial). This change will allow the development of a home and agro-centre, and convenience store. A public hearing to deal with the matter was set for May 9 in Council Chambers at 7 p.m.

Other News

Council gave first two readings to a zoning amendment for a property at 2153 Dragon Hill Rd. The amendment will change the zoning from CR-2 to CR-4 to allow the addition of a door and window assembly/distribution shop to an existing shop. A public hearing to address the matter was set for May 9.

Owners of a pair of properties listed on Quesnel's Heritage Register received their commemorative plaques. The properties recognized are: the Hoy House, at 283 Barlow Ave., owned by Dr. Allan Baker; and the Harry Joyce House at 558 Front St., owned by Douglas Smith.
Council approved the disposal of a 1982 Ford Thibault fire engine. The engine has served 29 years with the Quesnel Volunteer Fire Department. The fire pump is no longer certified and not worth repairing. The engine will be disposed of through a sealed bid process.

Important Dates

April 26 - Spring Clean Up begins
April 27 - Heritage Speaker Series - 7 p.m., Quesnel Council Chambers
May 1 - Hike for Hospice
May 7 - Friends of the Museum, Book Sale
May 7 - Move for Health Day
June 11 - Family Day

Proclamations

May - Vision Health Month

Future Meeting Dates:

Next Delegation/Committee of the Whole Meeting: Tuesday April 26
Next Regular Council Meeting: Tuesday May 3
Next North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee Meeting: Tuesday May 10

Council Clippings provides a summary of some of the business conducted by Council at regular City Council meetings. For more specific details, please visit www.quesnel.ca, click on the "Council" link and visit the Agendas and Minutes section.

Local MLA's debate Adrian Dix as BC NDP Leader

Over at the Rush - both Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett and Independent Cariboo-North MLA Bob Simpson speak on the election of NDP Leader Adrian Dix

Donna Barnett says Dix is "anti-business" and would make a poor BC Premier.  See more here
Bob Simpson says Barnett's comments are nothing more than "fear-mongering".  See more here

Also, at 5pm today (Tuesday, April 19th) on the Rush - Local 1-425 Steelworkers' Union President Bill Derbyshire expresses his support for Adrian Dix as Leader of the BC NDP

Williams Lake News - Tues April 19th edition

In the Williams Lake Tribune:

* This Thursday (April 21st), there will be a meeting at WL City Hall on the issue of parking of City-owned boulevards - see here

* Mayor Cook responds to concerns over the industrial tax rate - see here

Editor's Note - if the City 2011 Budget passes tonight (as I expect it will with Councillor Rathor being opposed), then the 2011 Tax Rates Bylaw will be given 3 readings tonight to fully implement the City's 2011 Budget (again, with Councillor Rathor being opposed).  Finally - Tolko Woodlands Manager Tom Hoffman has been lobbying WL Council for 3 years for changes to the overall property tax rate structure with little or no success.  Will the issue of tax rates vis-a-vis major/light industry sector be a campaign issue in November?  It very well could be

* Tribune columnist Diana French looks into how social media (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs) are playing a role in the Federal Election as well as looking into November's civic election in Williams Lake - see here

* Letter writer Eric Freeston blasts Victoria over the HST Referendum date - see here
* Letter writers (students) from Columneetza write on a previous column from freelance Tribune columnist Dean Fulton.  See their letters here

From Welcome to Williams Lake:

* Review of last Saturday's "Community Corner" 1st Anniversary - see here
* Tonight, City of WL Fire Department is doing a "preventative burn" at WL Secondary.  See here
* Public Meeting on City-owned Boulevards on Thursday - see here

Editor's Note - it is great to see Brad McRae (Senior Bylaw Officer) subscribe to my point of view on regulatory bylaws (consult first, rather than after the fact), however it would be even better if his employer (WL Council) also did the same - (ie: Patio Bylaw, new Traffic Control Bylaw in Sept of 2009)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Clancy's Restaurant Fire -at its' height

Williams Lake Tribune has a picture of the Clancy Restaurant fire, in Lac La Hache, at its height

See below:

Monday AM Political News...

1) New BC NDP Leader

Yesterday, by a vote of 9,772 (Dix) to 9,095 (Farnworth), Adrian Dix survived 3 rounds of voting to become the new BC New Democrats Leader.  See here (Province) and here (Globe and Mail)

Lots of reviews from political columnists:

a) Mike Smyth of the Province- see here
b) Vaughn Palmer of the Vancouver Sun - see here
c) Gary Mason of the Globe and Mail - see here

See also Alan Forseth's take, from the BC Conservative Party's point of view, here

As you will hear/read in the days ahead - the consensus is an early provincial election, as early as this fall, and in the Twitterverse, some have suggested that because of Dix's election, some NDP MLA's may not seek re-election as a direct result.  It'll be interesting to see how this plays out in the months ahead for all of the provincial political parties

One drawback however is burnout among the various volunteers and whether that will play into Christy Clark's decision to launch the Province into an early election.  From a tactical point of view - it would be brilliant to call the election early but from a "on the ground" point of view and in talking with some of my provincial political friends involved, provincial ridings may not be ready to go into an election because of burnout relating to the federal election, but it may not matter at the end of the day because what does matter to political parties is staying in power as long as possible.  Stay tuned as the road to the 40th Provincial General Election will likely get bumpy for all involved

2) HST Debate & Bob Simpson

Last week, Victoria announced its' plans relating to the HST Referendum and public consultation.  See that blog post here

However, this past Saturday, Independent Cariboo-North MLA Bob Simpson called Victoria's announcement nothing more than "interference" in the upcoming HST Referendum for June/July.  While I can see his point, I think it's important that every bit of information (pro/con HST) get out there before people decide either to keep or reject the HST, no matter who provides it and I, for one, look forward to that debate including hearing this week on dates for the "Talking Taxes" forums throughout BC - stay tuned here for that information

3) Federal Election & Young People

In the last little while - Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's campaign has previously got hit pretty hard for ejecting young people out of his campaign rally because of photos on Facebook at a Conservative campaign event in Montreal.  This past week, while Harper was in Vancouver, 17 year old Diamond Isinger got ejected with her friend from a Conservative rally because she was identified as a Federal Liberal supporter.  See the CTV-BC news story here.  As a Conservative supporter - I regret that these actions having been done and I have no problem having others, regardless of what political party they support, come and watch how a real Leader (not Micheal Ignatieff, Jack Layton or Gilles Duceppe) performs.  Anyone who is a real leader, should be man enough to take any question(s) that come their way - no matter who asks it.  I suspect that these sorts of actions will come back to haunt the Conservative campaign, especially if they come within 5 seats of a majority, as suggested in the Globe and Mail yesterday.  His campaign team may very well look back at these two actions and say if we hadn't done this (eject young people from Conservative election rallies), perhaps we very well might have a majority today

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Breaking - Clancy's Restaurant burns to the ground

Lots of news coverage around the fact that Clancy's Restaurant, a icon in Lac La Hache and indeed in the Cariboo, has burned completely to the ground

See here (Welcome to Williams Lake), here (PG Citizen) and here (CBC)

Video - here, here, here and here (from Welcome to Williams Lake)

Sad day indeed for the Cariboo-Chilcotin!!  I hope that the owners do decide to rebuild.  If not - it'll leave a big hole in Lac La Hache

SBF

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Noteworthy Local Gov't Items coming forward

A number of noteworthy items are coming up next week at local gov't meetings, as follows:

City of Williams Lake:

Delegations:

1) Staff-Sgt Warren Brown presents Crime Stats
2) Spanish Mountain Gold CEO Brian Graves presents his company's project to Council - see his presentation here
3) City of WL's Fire Prevention Inspector re: Evacuation Plan for Williams Lake.  See the presentation here

Editor's Note - Delegation #2 will also be presenting to the CRD Board on the same item at its' August 26th, 2011 meeting

Business:

1) 2011 Budget to be adopted & 3 readings of Tax Rates Bylaw.  See here (Budget) and here (Tax Rates)

2) Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2134 (Secondary Suites) to be given 2nd Reading and referred to May 3rd Public Hearing.  See here

3) Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2132 (New Hockey Training Facility by Cattle Drive - North End of City)  See here

4) New City of WL OCP moves closer to adoption.  See here

City of Quesnel:

Business:

1) Quesnel Council to receive 2010 Audited Financial Statements and give 3 Readings to its 2011 Budget.  See here (2010 Audited Financial Statements) and here (2011 City of Quesnel Budget)

Cariboo Regional District/Cariboo-Chilcotin Regional Hospital District:

Delegation (Hospital Board):

1) Alison Ruault to present a Recruitment Plan for the Cariboo-Chilcotin region to the CCRHD Board.  See here

Business (Hospital Board):

1) CCRHD Board to adopt Bylaws to replace the Fire Alarm System at Cariboo Memorial Hospital, physiological system replacement and replace elevator controls at CMH.  See here (Fire Alarm), here (Elevator Controls - CMH) and here (Physiological System replacement).  Total capital replacement to equals $930,000 with the local CCRHD Board providing $372,000 for these 3 projects

Delegation (Regional Board):

1) Mike Simpson from the Williams Lake and Area Interface Fire Plan Secretariat will update the Board on its activities

Business (Regional Board):

1) New Policy to refund Planning Application Fees with regard to Heritage Conservation.  See here.  Disclosure Note - Mayor Cook is unable to vote on this item as Williams Lake is not a member of the CRD Planning Function however the 12 Rural Directors and the City of Quesnel are entitled to vote on this item as they are all members of the CRD Planning Function

2) Letter from Nemiah Valley (Xeni Gwet'in First Nations) re: protesting approval in 2010 of DVP's  (Development Variance Permit) in its traditional territory.  See their letter here

Editor's Note - it'll be interesting to see how the Regional Board responds to their letter and if this is the start of a "tit-for-tat" political war with the Xeni Gwet'in First Nations.  Hopefully not, as one hopes that Area 'A' Director /Chair of the local Treaty Advisory Committee Ted Armstrong is able to bridge the gap on this item

3) A number of contribution agreements to be ratified by the Regional Board

See here (CCACS + local Mountain Bike Consortium)
See here (150 Mile Community Hall - lighting upgrades)
See here (Bouchie Lk Community Hall - numerous energy upgrades)

4) Request from Area 'D' Director Bischoff to assist McLeese Lake Community Hall with clean-up costs.  See here

5) Board to adopt 3 new Policies re

a) Inviting MLA's for Cariboo-Chilcotin/Cariboo-North to present to the Board each year
b) Policy re: Security Deposit for construction of a hanger at any CRD-owned Airport
c) Policy re: Proclamations at "no cost to the Board"

See the report here

6) CRD/City of Quesnel to submit a NCLGA (local Local Gov't Assoc) Resolution re: Ban on Incandescent Light Bulbs.  See here

Finally - in a weird move - the City of Williams Lake has submitted its Feb 22nd Council Meeting Minutes to appear in the CRD's Consent Calendar in place of the usual Council Meeting Highlights which were available on Feb 23rd.  I'm not sure why the City would do this.  Certainly, District of 100 Mile/Wells and the City of Quesnel do not put their meeting minutes in the Consent Calendar