Friday, August 31, 2012

BC Review on Northern Gateway - "Serious Misstep"

This morning - the Vancouver Sun issued a scathing editorial taking aim at BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix's promise to set up a provincial environmental assessment review of the Northern Gateway project if he is elected in next May's provincial vote

Some quotes from the editorial:

"So why would Dix waste taxpayers’ money with an expensive environmental assessment of a project he has already promised won’t go ahead under an NDP government?"

"There are two serious problems with Dix’s plan. The first is that it is clear that any review process that is designed to achieve a preordained outcome has to be considered a sham."

"But the message [Dix] is sending to potential investors in other enterprises in B.C. is extremely damaging."


In fact -- Cariboo-Chilcotin NDP Candidate Charlie Wyse said yesterday:

Dix's call for BC Environmental Assessment of Enbridge is to be able to say no

For myself -- let's trust the process underway now and wait for the report from the Joint Review Panel in 2013

Read the full editorial here

Bag Blitz in Quesnel - Sept 7th

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel:

Reusable shopping bags, cake slices, an art mural, building and room naming rights; each of these pieces are part of the community fundraising plans for the North Cariboo Multi-Centre Fundraising Campaign.

But right now, the campaign is focused on selling the reusable shopping bags. This campaign helps support the building of the multi-centre and also gives those who buy one a chance to win $2,000 in travel vouchers with Flight Centre Quesnel.

Teams of North Cariboo Multi-Centre boosters will be around town on Friday Sept. 7 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. selling the reusable bags. The teams will be at the BC Liquor Store on Reid Street, Bliss Restaurant on Anderson Drive in West Quesnel, and at Walmart.

Bags are also available regularly at the North Cariboo Multi-Centre headquarters at 339A Reid St., City Hall, the Arts and Recreation Centre, and the Visitor Centre.

More information about all of the fundraising efforts is available at www.ourmulticentre.com The North Cariboo Multi-Centre will be a modern facility designed to replace the 62-year-old arena and aging theatre infrastructure. It will feature a 1,600 seat NHL-sized arena, a 450-seat performing arts theatre and accompanying event and assembly area.

For more information, contact

April Goffic, Economic Development Officer
T: 250-992-3522
E: agoffic@quesnelinfo.com

Bob Siimpson on no BC Green Candidate in 2013

Yesterday, Independent Cariboo-North MLA Bob Simpson spoke to the Rush on not having to contest Cariboo-North in next year's provincial election vs a BC Green Candidate

Read more here

But for myself -- if I was Bob Simpson and his election team, I would be more worried about who he'll face against the BC NDP and if that candidate is popular enough - will enough of Simpson's NDP support base defect to the BC NDP Candidate or not.... we'll know the answer to that as I expect by the end of this year -- both the BC NDP/BC Liberal candidates for Cariboo-North will have been nominated.  Still no word though if the BC Conservatives' will be running a candidate in either Cariboo-North or Cariboo-Chilcotin

SBF

BC Conservatives' Internal Strife on Public Display...

For a 2nd time in as many weeks -- BC Conservative Provincial Director John Crocock has gotten his party in hot water again -- last time, it was his "amateur hour" comments to CKNW and this week -- he is openly challenging members of his own party to turf John Cummins before the May 2013 provincial election

Al Siebring (BC Conservative Provincial Board Director) suggested that the BC Liberals have a bigger leadership issue that the BC Conservatives.  With all due respect to my BC Conservatives friends -- this is false!!.  Unlike certain members of the BC Conservatives who may be calling for John Cummins to resign -- there is not 1 (One!!!) BC Liberal member, BC Liberal Riding Association or BC Liberal Provincial Council member calling for Christy Clark to resign.

Meanwhile - Randy White, former Reform MP for Langley and now the BC Conservatives' Co-Chair for their 'Issues Management Committee' says once the issue of the Leadership Vote is out of the way...

"We want to be able to stand up with John and say he’s got a mandate from his party, now Christy what have you got?"

Well - to answer Mr. White and his party... Christy Clark received the majority of votes in a leadership race in early 2011 that had multiple contenders... can't say that about the BC Conservatives

Finally - I think, from a communication perspective, it was in bad taste to compare the issues within the BC Conservative Party to Jesus and the betrayal by Judas, one of the 12 Apostles.  Personally, I'm sure a better metaphor could have been used.  As Alise Mills (former communications consultant to the BC Liberals) said on Twitter -- BC/Canadian Politics and religion do not mix, as far as the average voter goes

My uncle and BC Conservative Kamloops Regional Director Alan Forseth speaks to this, by stating on his Facebook page:

I am PROUD to say I am member of the BC Conservative Party. I am a 'fiscal' conservative with a 'social' conscience ... and I believe I am among majority of the members of our party.

I too have a religious beliefs and affiliation -- BUT I know my personal beliefs stay outside the door of the party. Members of our own Constituency Association know that, and understand that, because I myself have shut the door to ANY discussion on things that could perhaps have a religious undertone when it comes to policy.

That said ... I really do not understand why people outside our party can't understand this can be done. I guess they have their own personal agendas, prejudices, and axes to grind. Some too I suppose simply wish to manipulate the truth because it helps in their own political agendas.


Read the full Vancouver Sun article here

Thursday, August 30, 2012

CRD Area 'B' Community Open Houses

Courtesy of CRD Area 'B' Director Heloise Dixon-Warren:

I am planning to host Two Community Open Houses within Area B in early to mid October to meet residents, share information, and receive feedback in terms of future direction. The meetings will likely be held at Bouchie Lake Hall & Parkland Community Centre.

Potential Topics: Rural Recreation, Taxation Overview, Quesnel Community Foundation, Grants for Assistance, Online Presence, Invasive Plants, CRD Programs, Zoning / Bylaw Overview, etc.

Editor's Note -- As well, Director Dixon-Warren has released her August "Letter B" Newsletter which covers topics like Two Mile Flat Fire Protection and Invasive Plants which you can read here

3 Other BC Liberal MLA's to retire...

Over on News1130.com - they report that later today Education Minister George Abbott (1pm), Children/Families Minister Mary McNeil and Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier John Les will all announce their intention to not seek re-election in next year's provincial general election

BC Premier Christy Clark warned, in her press conference yesterday, that this was coming as she needed to know which members of her Cabinet would seek re-election and which ones would retire

I haven't had the opportunity to meet John Les or Mary McNeil but have had the opportunity to meet George Abbott, when a candidate for the BC Liberals' Leadership Race, and found him to be one of the most honourable people in politics and I'm sure I speak for many when I say that he'll be missed in provincial politics and I wish the very best to MLA's Les and McNeil as well

Read more here

BC Conservatives on Municipal Borrowing

Over on his blog -- Bernard von Schulmann looks at the BC Conservative policy platform regarding municipal borrowing which reads:

2.2.3. Amending current legislation so that municipalities are required to hold referenda for borrowing for capital projects and to ensure the “alternative approval process”, also known as the “counter-petition” process, is prohibited.

I wonder if the BC Conservatives even bothered to ask any currently elected municipal official(s) what the "bottom-line" impact of this policy would be to struggling local governments, like the Cities of Williams Lake & Quesnel and the Cariboo Regional District as examples

I understand the concern that the BC Conservatives are attempting to address which is municipalities using "counter-petition" to approve millions in borrowing(s) for capital needs.  I still believe counter-petition has its' place for small capital projects (ie: $50,000) but for bigger projects ($3 million or bigger), you should, at least morally, get voter assent as it is not often, at least in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, that local governments ask to borrow multiple times $3 million+ in one term of local government

Finally - Mr. von Schulmann says that local government should be permitted to run a deficit budget.  I agree with him, provided that it be restricted to emergency situations (broken water main pipe) and not to fund routine or annual expenses that are normally required for muncipal affairs (ie: police/fire)

Read the full blog post from Mr. von Schulmann here

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Residents' up in arms over WL Council financial priorities

In the last few weeks - local residents' on Welcome to Williams Lake Facebook page have spoken about WL Council's spending priorities including $6,000 for the Cabinet Wraps, the $15,000 for a Dog Park located by the Skateboard area in Boitanio Park and $24,000 for new digital speed signs reminding you to slow down on South Lakeside Drive and Mackenzie Avenue.  You can read more here

Residents' are asking where is the money for South Lakeside Drive.  Given current negotiations with the Cariboo RD over a new agreement for Fire Protection with our friends in the CRD Rural Fringe Areas of Electoral Areas D, E, F, money may become even tighter if a new agreement can not be negotiated with the Cariboo RD.  The money at play here equals $600,000 and should the CRD decide to go it alone without the support of the WL Fire Department, the City would have some very difficult financial decisions to make in 2013 which could include a potential 6% tax hike (1% tax hike for every $100,000 to be raised in revenue) or chopping of services/positions totalling $600,000 or a combination of the two.  I profess I'm surprised how very concerned residents' speaking out are already and it hasn't been a full year since the last election in November 2011.  I wonder if residents' concerns will rise more with Councillor Walters stated desire for a 2nd dog park.... and there is the new collective agreement with the City's unionized employees and how much that agreement will cost City taxpayers' as well...

SBF

Boitanio Mall owners' speak out...

In a letter to the editor to various media in Williams Lake -- Sonny Janda of the Janda Group (current owners of Boitanio Mall) quashes any rumours of Boitanio Mall's demise

Mr. Janda points out that Boitanio Mall has competitive rates which some have pointed out to me that his rates are so high that it is no wonder businesses are leaving.  If there were to be lowered then perhaps Boitanio Mall would be full and not half-empty as it is right now.

Read Mr. Janda's letter in full here

Kevin Falcon leaves BC Politics...

In a somewhat expected move -- Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Kevin Falcon has served notice that he will not run in next year's provincial election and has immediately resigned as BC's Minister of Finance.  He also says he and his wife, Jessica, are expecting their 2nd child in Feb of 2013

Read more here and watch video below from CBC:



Read the statement from BC Premier Christy Clark here
Both local MLA's speak to this item here (Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett) and here (Cariboo-North MLA Bob Simpson)

In his editorial today - Gord MacDonald from CKNW's The World Today says "Give Kevin Falcon announcement a break - read here

For myself -- I was saddened of Falcon's announcement but I publicly thank Mr Falcon for his 12 years of service to the people of BC and wish him and his family well into the future.  Meanwhile, Premier Clark has served notice of a cabinet shuffle next week and says Stay tuned for other announcements that other senior BC Cabinet Ministers in the days and weeks ahead.  Clark, in my mind, has all but confirmed that George Abbott will announce tomorrow or in the next few days that he too will not run in 2013 which leaves whether or not Rich Coleman will run in 2013...

SBF

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Al Richmond - Proposed Federal Electoral District 'defies logic'

In the on-going work that the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission is doing to re-align boundaries for BC's new 39 Federal Electoral Districts - Al Richmond, Chair of the Cariboo Regional District and Director for Electoral Area 'G' of the Cariboo Regional District, has come out swinging against the proposed changes and says they 'defy logic'.  As he says:

100 Mile House, Lac La Hache and 108 Mile don't have much in common with the much more urban Chilliwack area

Richmond plans to make his case to the Commission at their meeting in Prince George on Sept. 17th while 100 Mile Mayor Mitch Campsall plans to oppose the proposed boundary at the Commission's meeting in Kamloops in October

For myself - this is another example of when 'urbanites' try to re-write provincial/federal electoral boundaries and forget about what rural people face in their daily lives

Read more here

Two Mile Flat Fire Protection Open House - Sept 10th

Courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District:

The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) will host an Open House for residents who live within the Two Mile Flat Fire Protection Boundary. The session will take place on Monday, September 10 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Quesnel Recreation Centre to provide information about the proposed new Two Mile Flat Fire Protection agreement. CRD staff and Quesnel Volunteer Fire Department members will be on hand to answer any questions and provide information to affected residents.

Since 1963, Two Mile Flat fire protection services have been provided by the City of Quesnel Fire Department, through a contract with the Province of British Columbia. The Province has been collecting taxes from these residents and remitting them to the City of Quesnel in order to provide this service.

The Province informed the City of Quesnel and CRD the agreement for this service will expire December 31, 2012, and requested both organizations negotiate a new agreement to continue fire protection services to the Two Mile Flat area. Under the proposed agreement, the City and CRD suggest to maintain the current service, at the current tax rates. The level of fire protection service will not change; the only change will be that the CRD collects the taxes rather than the Province of BC.

However, to enable this new agreement, the CRD must establish a new service in order to tax for the continuation of fire protection services delivered by the City of Quesnel Fire Department. In order to establish the service, the CRD needs to receive approval from the residents.

An information brochure and the official petition have been mailed to residents within the current Two Mile Flat Fire Protection Boundary. Completed petitions need to be returned to the CRD in person, or by mail, prior to September 17. An unsigned or unreturned petition must be counted as a “no” vote.

If the petition is not approved, fire protection services for Two Mile Flat will end on December 31, 2012.

If residents require further information, visit the CRD online at http://www.cariboord.bc.ca or call us at 1-800-665-1636 and ask to speak with the Corporate Officer (Alice Johnston)

WL Rural Fire Protection Talks Continue


Editor's Note -- I'm pleased to see the CRD will be hosting public meetings next month on this topic as I think CRD Rural Fringe (Areas D, E, F) residents' will have many questions including what is 'Plan B' if negotiations fail

Courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District:

Last week the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) and the City of Williams Lake (City) started the next round of negotiations to develop a new agreement for fire protection services in the Williams Lake Rural Fringe area.

A majority of the Williams Lake rural fringe property owners are covered by a Provincial fire protection agreement that pre-dates the establishment of the Regional District. The Province has been requesting the CRD and City to negotiate a new fire protection agreement for the fringe property owners for a number of years. With the pending expiry of the two adjacent CRD fire protection agreements, in 2011 the CRD and City established a sub-committee to negotiate a new consolidated fire protection agreement for all three fringe areas. The results of those negotiations were presented to Williams Lake City Council earlier this year at which time Council rejected the proposal for a new agreement.

The Provincial Government subsequently issued a letter advising that the Provincial fire protection agreement would be terminated on December 31, 2012. Based on that letter the CRD and the City have agreed to resume negotiations to try to negotiate a new agreement. The new agreement would see the Williams Lake Fire Department continue to provide fire protection to Williams Lake rural fringe property owners under one amalgamated agreement with a fair and equitable cost-sharing arrangement for all property owners.

In order to provide affected Williams Lake rural fringe residents with a November, 2012 referendum, a new agreement needs to be presented to the Cariboo Regional District Board of Directors in October, giving the Committee only 3-4 weeks to reach agreement.  The parties will meet again this week to continue discussions. 

The Cariboo Regional District will be hosting public meetings in September to provide affected CRD residents with updates about the negotiations. Meeting dates and locations will be announced soon.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Political Truths/Facts -- Real or Perceived

Last Wednesday - I had posted on my personal Facebook page the story about Quesnel Councillor Sushil Thapar not going to UBCM because of a split vote on the matter at Quesnel Council's Monday, August 20th meeting

That, in turn, led two former Williams Lake City Councillors' to weigh in on the subject...

Former WL City Councillor & former City of WL Mayoralty Candidate Paul French said:

God forbid someone speaking the truth.

Meanwhile - former WL City Councillor Tom Barr took a different view on the subject:

Not surprised!Was he really speaking the truth or was it the truth as he saw it only?

I admit Tom Barr's comment got me thinking about how often politicians, aspiring politicians or others takes a set of facts/truths and "crafts" them for their own political purposes...

How does this relate to the Sushil Thapar situation? I think Tom Barr's comments sums it up best in that  -- no matter what facts/truths point out, Thapar and his supporters will take information and "craft" them for their own political means/ends, even if their opponents don't like what they "craft" in the public eye and hence what the whole Thapar/Quesnel Council situation won't end, in the short term, (in my humble opinion) and ultimately, the voters' of Quesnel in 2014 will have to decide who is right -- Quesnel Councillor Sushil Thapar and his supporters or Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom and Quesnel City Councillors Roodenburg, Cave, Brisco, Coleman, and Elliot and their supporters

SBF

Saturday, August 25, 2012

New Accessible Trail opens in Lac La Hache

Courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District:

The community of Lac La Hache, B.C. is the latest community in the Cariboo Chilcotin to develop a wheelchair accessible trail. It’s called the Lac La Hache Community Trail and was built in partnership between the Cariboo Regional District (CRD); the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development; Northern Development Initiative Trust; the Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition, and the Lac La Hache Community Club.

“I am extremely pleased that we have now completed the Lac La Hache Community Trail,” stated CRD Chair and Electoral Area G Director Al Richmond. “This is the next step in making the Cariboo Chilcotin one of the most attractive wheelchair accessible tourism destinations in the world. Projects such as the Lac La Hache Community Trail show what can be accomplished through regional collaboration and commitment to improving the quality of life for residents and visitors of all abilities.”

The wheelchair friendly trail is approximately 620 metres long, and takes visitors to picturesque views of Lac La Hache from several viewpoints. The trail starts from an expansive accessible shelter with picnic tables, and heads down to the lakeshore where it meanders along the lake until it crosses an accessible bridge. After crossing the bridge, users can loop back to the accessible shelter, or continue along the lakeshore enjoying the scenery along the way. The trail is made of a packed, crush gravel surface and includes a gentle grade with one steeper section after the bridge that loops back to the accessible shelter.

“I have been involved in the Lac La Hache Community Club for more than 20 years and during that time, the club frequently discussed constructing a trail beside the lake so the current Garlic Festival site would be able to be enjoyed by more people from the community,” stated Larry McCrea, President of the Lac La Hache Community Club. “The club is very pleased that the trail is now completed. We offer our thanks to everyone involved and invite the public to come and take a stroll along the lake.”

“When our government announced the $30-million Community Recreation Program, the Lac La Hache Community Trail was exactly the sort of project we had in mind. We wanted to support communities with improvements to infrastructure – to make communities healthier, more active and accessible places for people of all ages and abilities,” said Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett. “With the new upgrades, this wilderness trail gives everyone the opportunity to get out and enjoy the magnificent outdoor amenities this region has to offer. I commend everyone involved for bringing this valuable project to fruition.”

“Northern Development is pleased to assist Lac La Hache and many other communities in the Cariboo expand their wheelchair accessible tourism opportunities through our Community Halls and Recreation Facilities grant program,” Janine North, Chief Executive Officer, Northern Development Initiative Trust.

“The Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition (CCBAC) funds projects like these where there are strong partnerships to help our region economically, environmentally and socially,” said Mayor Kerry Cook, Chair of CCBAC. “The Lac La Hache Community Trail is beautiful and a scenic highlight for our area.”

Construction funding was provided through the provincial Community Recreation Program, Northern Development Initiative Trust, the Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition, and the Lac La Hache Community Club. Ongoing management of the site will be provided by the Lac La Hache Community Club.

The Board passed a resolution in 2006 to work towards developing the Cariboo Chilcotin as a world leader in accessible outdoor recreation and tap into niche tourism markets for persons of low mobility. Other wheelchair accessible sites within the CRD include Tatlayoko, Kersley’s Sisters Creek Trail, Cottonwood Historic Site, Sepa Lake Accessible Trail and the Horsefly Salmon Spawning Trails. There are currently 13 other accessible wilderness trails being developed by the CRD, some of which were funded through the Community Recreation Program

Gustafson Dodge raises Sign Bylaw concern

Gustafson Dodge in Williams Lake
In an Agenda Item going before WL Council's Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday - local businessman Kerry Gustafson, on August 21st, wrote to WL Mayor Kerry Cook concerning the requirement of a 'Cariboo Theme' for signage for his business, as part of the City of WL Sign Bylaw which was updated this past spring to ensure City regulatory bylaws are in line with the City's new OCP and the previous 'Imagine our Future' process.  Mr. Gustafson is presently completing facade upgrades, etc to his business

City Staff lay out options before the Committee as follows:

1) Reaffirm the Bylaw and the requirements to the local Chrysler Dealership and seek compliance with the Cariboo Theme;

o Pro: Consistent approaches for all sign permit applications. Implementing the vision of a “Cariboo Theme” as outlined within the Official Community Plan.
o Con: Poses an extra cost and a slight time delay for the Chrysler Dealership as the local management did not make effort to consider design alterations to comply with the sign permit application requirements.

2. Amend the Sign Bylaw to either omit the requirement to comply with the OCP and/or have clear exemptions for applicants to allow staff to enforce development procedure consistently;

o Pro: This type of amendment will allow for a streamlined approach for applicants and allow them to not have to consider the City’s theme or local architecture when developing within the City. Provide clear exceptions for staff to work with and implement.
o Con: Providing exemptions by either cost or type of business or corporation would create inconsistencies in the implementation of the “Cariboo Theme”. Would create a larger challenge for staff in making arguments for business to comply when there are avenues for some businesses to have exception.

3. Amend the Sign Bylaw to completely remove the requirement to comply with the OCP “Cariboo Theme” for signage.

o Pro: Consistent approach to all sign permits, and would place a greater onus on larger projects that exceed the exceptions stated within the Development Permit Areas under the Official Community Plan.
o Con: During the OCP development the community expressed interest in a unified design or fa├žade program for the entire city. As a part of the OCP implementation, the City committed to conduct comprehensive reviews of Bylaws to ensure all regulations conform to the OCP. When the Sign Bylaw was brought up for review, this was an opportunity to include reference and ensure that the Guidelines for Development were consistent and achievable during the installation of new signs and facades on buildings.

Without knowing the precise nature of Mr. Gustafson's complaint -- I would be in favour of Option #2 which then would give City Staff flexibility to work with the public, with regard to developments and the new Sign Bylaw and any potential concern(s) brought forward by the public

City Staff are recommending the Committee adopt Option #1 - Re-affirm the Sign Bylaw and require compliance with all terms of the Sign Bylaw

Read the City's Planner report in full here

WL Council Committee Structure & Public Correspondence

In two matters going before Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, relating to concerns brought forward by the City of Williams Lake Municipal Auditor (currently PMT Accountants) - City of WL CAO Brian Carruthers will ask Council to advise his staff with regards to Council Committees & Public Correspondence (Letters/Emails)as part of a correspondence procedure/policy:

a) How is Council correspondence classified/defined? (regular mail, electronic mail, addressed to Mayor, addressed to Council, information only, action required, etc.)

b) How does Council wish to consider Council correspondence? (Council Agenda, Committee of the Whole, Council Internal Committees - Planning/Ops, Community Services, General Governance)

c) Does Council want electronic or hard copies of all correspondence in advance of the correspondence being placed on an appropriate agenda?

d) How are the authors of correspondence notified of receipt and action (when required)?

Read the full report here

In an related subject -- the City's Director of Finance will report on the Internal Policy relating to Accounts Payable as it relates to Electronic Cheque signing.  Read Ms. Higgins full report here

2011-14 Strategic Priorities - WL Council

On Tuesday -- WL Council will conclude the process that started in March 2012 to develop 10 Strategic Priorities which was led by Paragon Strategic Inc. who have offices in Vancouver, Victoria and the Okanagan which led to a question in my mind...

For what City of WL taxpayers' paid last year for Brian Carruthers's salary/expenses (this was $170,771.39 in 2011) and the fact that he is undergoing schooling to become certified as the City's Chief Administrative Officer and given he trumpeted his education while developing the City's Citizen Survey -- why not have him lead WL Council's Strategic Planning Session and thereby saving taxpayers' money by not hiring a consultant to do the same thing...

Meanwhile -- Council's proposed Strategic Goals break down into two sections as follows:

General Themes:

1) Good Government
2) Community Livability
3) Diverse/Stable Economy
4) Well Managed/Maintained

WL Council’s 10 Strategic Goals (proposed) are:

1) Planning for growth by taking a long term, strategic approach to meeting the needs of our community
2) We will continue to develop relationships with First Nations Governments on issues of joint interest
3) We support investment in recreation amenities to provide a high quality of life for residents and visitors
4) The City plays a leadership role in strengthening the social fabric of the community
5) We will actively market the City to businesses, tourists and new residents
6) We will support development of industrial lands in the City
7) We will become the 'Mining Capital of BC'
8) We will continue to implement our BEAS strategy
9) We will ensure a strategic approach to the development, maintenance and replacement of the community’s infrastructure
10) We will address the environmental objectives prioritized within the OCP Implementation Plan

One of the disappointments I found is the chart that outlines the smaller goals - it didn't say who was responsible for the goal and when.  I find those details useful when looking at goals at the beginning and then again at the end to see if that person did what they were tasked to do and if they didn't -- ask them the appropriate questions.  Was it lack of time, not enough information to complete the task, no resources to do the work, etc....

Inside of these 10 Goals are smaller goals like:

1) Advocate for the Cariboo Memorial Hospital 2nd Floor redevelopment
2) Facility Plan for Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex

On #1 - I don't think you would find anyone objecting to this item as I suspect all residents' of Williams Lake and the Central Cariboo all want a modernized 2nd Floor at our local hospital

On #2 - While discussions are underway about the Sam Ketchum Pool - I wonder if this is a 'missed opportunity' to have a honest discussion about the entire Complex and engage the public over what they want for the Complex short, medium and long term -- both for the Pool and also the Twin - Ice arenas and other recreational needs at the Complex that the public wants and is willing to pay for....  I also wonder if Mayor Cook has informed the Cariboo RD on this goal as Recreation is suppposed to be joint-decision making, given the City provides the service while the Cariboo Regional District owns the land that the Complex currently sits on

The only local government in the Cariboo-Chilcotin that hasn't done strategic planning yet (was planned for previously) is the Cariboo Regional District which plans to do its' own Strategic Planning Sessions later on this year in November

Read the report from the City of WL CAO on this subject here


Friday, August 24, 2012

CRD Board Highlights - Aug 24th mtg

Courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District:

Growing Fibre, Growing Value

The Cariboo Regional District received the recently released report from the Special Committee on Timber Supply entitled "Growing Fibre, Growing Value". The report contains twenty recommendations. In general terms, the recommendations are consistent with the Regional District's suggestions, including using a science based approach, promoting utilization of marginally economic forest lands, better fibre utilization and more.

Support for Agri-Culture Enterprise Centre Society

The Agri-Culture Enterprise Centre Society has requested a letter of support from the Cariboo Regional District for upcoming operational and project based funding applications to the Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition and the Northern Development Initiative Trust. The Agri-Culture Centre is a non-profit society governed by a Board of Directors and supported by grassroots memberships. It is a centre for food producers, consumers, distributers, marketers and overall agricultural business development. The Society is based out of 100 Mile House and serves the agriculture industry throughout the south Cariboo.

Spanish Mountain Gold

Brian Grove, President and CEO of Spanish Mountain Gold and Marissa Nobauer from Cantana Consulting appeared before the Board to provide an update on the Spanish Mountain Gold Mine project. The project, which is located near Likely, B.C., has completed the exploration drilling phase and is now in the Pre-Environmental Assessment process. The presentation gave a high level overview of the project to date along with the economic potential, expected life-span of the potential mine, and site arrangement details including open pit, mill and waste management plans. If this mill proceeds, approximately 600 temporary jobs will be created during the construction phase and 300 hundred permanent positions would be created once the mine is operational. Further information about this project is available online at spanishmountaingold.com.

MLA Update – Cariboo Chilcotin

Donna Barnett, MLA, Cariboo-Chilcotin, provided the CRD Board of Directors with information about some of the projects she is currently working on throughout the region. Topics discussed included an update on the Nina Lake Dam in Likely, and the Special Committee on Timber Supply. MLA Barnett also expressed her support for the south Cariboo’s and the Regional District’s opposition to the proposed federal electoral boundaries.

Community Works Funding Approved

The Board approved $170,000 of Community Works Funds to help complete the pilot project for the Lac La Hache refuse transfer station. The Solid Waste Management Plan identified that substantial savings could occur if the Regional District compacted the waste at transfer stations prior to hauling and controlling the sites with an attendant to reduce clean-up costs. The creation of a wood waste yard and an expanded share shed at the Lac La Hache site was also identified for construction in 2012. Visit the Cariboo Regional District onine to view the new Solid Waste Management Plan which has been approved by the CRD Board and awaiting final adoption and approval by the province - click here

During the meeting the CRD Board also approved up to $25,000 of Community Works Funds to perform an energy efficiency upgrade at the South Cariboo Regional Airport. The renovations will include installation of a radiant tube heater, a high-efficiency furnace, a natural gas water heater, and additional insulation.

The CRD Board also approved up to $6,100 of Community Works Funding for the Big Lake Community Association. The funds will be used to perform lighting upgrades and, any other related minor energy efficiency improvements at the Big Lake Community Hall. The work will include exchanging fixtures, as well as lamps and electronic ballasts. Renovations will also see the replacement of incandescent bulbs with LED lights, and upgrading high pressure sodium exterior lights with LED wall packs for an increased annual energy reduction.

Upcoming meetings

Board on the Road – Kersley Community Hall
Sept. 13/14 - Committee of the Whole/Board Meeting

WL & Quesnel Councils' meet next week

Next week - both Quesnel and Williams Lake City Councils' will be meeting in Committee of the Whole as follows:

Quesnel - Monday, August 27th

Items to be considered at 7pm in Quesnel Council Chambers (2nd Floor - 410 Kinchant St) include an Affordable Housing Strategy, Secondary Suite Policy development renewal, proposal to receive an Emergency Vehicle from Bulkley Valley SAR and a presentation from CCBAC (Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition).  View the full Agenda here

Williams Lake - Tuesday, August 28th

Items to be considered at 6pm in the Rick Hansen Boardroom (WL City Hall basement) include  an update on City of WL GIS Mapping, 2011-14 Strategic Priorities, items relating to the 2011 Auditor's Letter - Addendum, Permissive Tax Exemption Policy (requested by WL Council in 2010) and a complaint from Kerry Gustafson (Gustafson Chrysler) in regards to compliance with the City of WL Sign Bylaw

Editor's Note - I'll be looking at the new Strategic Priorities & review of Council Committee Structure over the weekend... stay tuned!

View the full WL Council (Committee of the Whole) meeting agenda here

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thapar denied travel to 2012 UBCM

In a situation I feared would happen but hoped it wouldn't - in a tie vote at Monday's Quesnel Council meeting, Quesnel Councillor Sushil Thapar was told that he would stay home and not be allowed to attend this year's UBCM

Prior to the meeting - Quesnel Council's Executive Committee consisting of Mayor Mary Sjostrom and Councillors Ed Coleman and L-A Roodenburg made the following recommendation to Quesnel Council:

“The recommendation of the Executive Committee is to allow Councillor Thapar to attend the annual UBCM convention, on behalf of the City of Quesnel, due to the importance of the UBCM convention. In allowing this request by Councillor Thapar, Council requests Councillor Thapar to keep his communications with, and about, the Mayor and other members of Council respectful"

However - Quesnel Councillors Mike Cave, L-A Roodenburg and Scott Elliot voted to deny permission to Thapar to attend the UBCM Convention in Victoria in late September

As Mayor Sjostrom noted...

“when (Quesnel) Council makes a decision that’s the decision (Quesnel) Council makes and that’s what we go with.”

For myself - I was profoundly disappointed with this decision and to deny travel to UBCM because of pure personality conflicts was not the right reason to deny travel.  To deny travel to a duly-elected official must be for a profound reason including misspending his/her travel budget or a recent (not past) action that puts the reputation of the municipality in question

As of right now - either Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom or one of the 2 other Councillors who voted in the affirmative (yes vote) can ask that a re-vote take place at the next Quesnel Council meeting, currently scheduled for Tuesday, September 4th

Read  the story from the Rush/Wolf here

Quesnel Landfill improvements coming...

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel:

Residents taking their garbage and recycling to the Quesnel Municipal Landfill will see a lot of action there as construction on the new entrance and scale system begins this week.

Construction crews will build a scale house, install scales, and improve lighting, fencing and traffic control. The project is expected to be complete by November 15 and has a budget of $650,000, which is being paid for through Gas Tax funding.

The City is implementing scales and a more secure landfill for a number of reasons:

• It is an environmentally responsible action to take. While North Cariboo residents already recycle a great deal of material, it is expected that amount will increase, as recycling and yard waste disposal will remain free of charge.

• It will extend the life of the landfill, saving taxpayers money over the long term. Today, the expected closure date is 2030. Extending that date reduces how much the City has to put aside for final closure each year, while also providing more time to plan and save for a new landfill.

• The ourQuesnel process has shown there is a desire in the community for the City to take on projects that consider a wide range of sustainability pillars, such as finances and the environment.

• It will provide greater control over what is disposed of in the landfill. Hazardous goods, chemicals and electronics will be diverted to the appropriate sites for safe and efficient disposal.

A number of decisions have yet to be made regarding the new landfill entrance, such as hours of operation, a fee structure for commercial and residential users, and when that fee structure will take effect. The City will inform residents of those discussions as they take place.

The City is forging ahead this year for a number of reasons. It allows the City to take advantage of the 2012 construction year. In addition, the community will be able to learn about the new landfill procedures and become accustomed to them during the slower winter months.

Quesnel Council Highlights -- Aug 20 mtg

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel:

Land Stability project on the move

Canadian Western Mechanical was awarded the contract for the pumping well and horizontal drain connections in the amount of $715,650. Although the amount is over budget for this particular portion of the project, the Project Manager noted that the estimate for this work was done in 2009 when the City first applied for the grant. He further noted that since the original budget, extra environmental costs, required by the federal government, were incurred.

The contract is to connect 14 pumping wells, 14 monitoring wells and 9 horizontal drains to the city’s storm main and sanitary sewer system which will carry all the water from these areas off site.

Transit update

The Annual Performance Summary of the Quesnel Transit System was presented to Council and highlighted revenue increases of 5% year over year even though ridership had decreased by 10%. The revenue increase was in part due to the fare increases in June, 2011.
BC Transit will be conducting a Service Review over the next several months that will include City staff and other community stakeholders. Informational presentations to Council will be made throughout the process.

Council travel denied

Due to the sanctions and a motion of censure previously placed on Councillor Thapar, travel restrictions were also placed on Thapar at the July 16 meeting of Council. The resolution reads that “Councillor Thapar be required to seek approval of Council before representing the City at any function or traveling out-of-town on behalf of the City.” Thapar recently requested to attend the upcoming Union of BC Municipalities conference, which request was brought forward at the August 20 meeting of Council. A recommendation by the Executive Committee comprised of Mayor Sjostrom and Councillors Roodenburg and Coleman was on the agenda and read “The recommendation of the Executive Committee is to allow Councillor Thapar to attend the annual UBCM convention, on behalf of the City of Quesnel, due to the importance of the UBCM convention. In allowing this request by Councillor Thapar, Council requests Councillor Thapar to keep his communications with, and about, the Mayor and other members of Council respectful.” After discussion at the meeting, the Councillor's (Thapar) travel request was denied by a split vote.

Miss Quesnel Royalty awarded

Council said their goodbyes to the outgoing 2011/2012 Miss Quesnel Royalty and presented Miss Quesnel Jadyn Koldeweihe and Princesses Mickaela Ezowski and Victoria Lefebvre with appreciation plaques. Royalty thanked both Council and the City of Quesnel for their support during their term as Miss Quesnel Royalty and encouraged all young woman to share the experience.

Other news

Local Zack Boesem, founder of The Push for Cancer is riding his longboard from Quesnel to Vancouver to raise money for cancer research. If you’d like to support Zack, email zboesem@yahoo.ca

South Quesnel will soon be home to the Dollar Tree. Council approved the development application for a retail expansion of 880.5m2 to 620 Newman Road.

Earlier this summer, the City of Quesnel made a presentation to the provincial government’s Special Committee on Timber Supply. This Committee was tasked with examining and making recommendations about the mid-term timber supply. Their report entitled Growing Fibre, Growing Value has now been released and is available on the City’s website at www.quesnel.ca under “In the news” on the left hand side of the main page.

Quesnel was one of 15 breakfast programs across the country to benefit from the generosity of Kraft Foods Canada and the RCMP Foundation who donated $5,500 to the Quesnel Partnership for Student Nutrition. This non-profit agency runs the local breakfast club in our local schools and provides nutritious breakfasts to approximately 500 students in Quesnel each school day.
On July 8, Kim Slater began her journey across the province to engage northern communities in dialogue on renewable energy and alternatives to expanding the tar sands. For more information, visit her on Facebook, You Tube and Twitter.

Important dates

September 8 - Salvation Army community event
September 15 - Big Brothers Big Sisters Quesnel Golf for Kids Sake
September 16 - Annual Terry Fox Run
September 30 - 19th Annual Quesnel Women’s Fall Challenge
September 30 to October 2 - CCCTA Tourism Summit in Wells

Proclamations

September - United Way Month

Grant Writing Workshop - Sept 14/15

Courtesy of Cariboo RD Area 'B' Director Heloise Dixon-Warren:

Community Grant Writing Workshop

7-9pm on Friday, September 14, 2012

Williams Lake Council Chambers

One-on-one sessions will run 9:30am-6pm
on Saturday, September 15, 2012.

* Learn how to write successful applications for the BC Community Gaming
Grants program.

* Learn valuable grant writing basics which can be applied to all funding
program applications.

* No cost to attend.

RSVP is required before September 10, by emailing grantwriter@cariboord.bc.ca
or call the CRD at 250-392-3351 or toll free 1-800-665-1636 and mention you are
confirming your attendance for the grant writer workshop. Please specify if your
community group would like a one-on-one session and preferred time. Time slots
are available on a first-come-first-serve basis.

For more information about this workshop, please contact NICA workshop
coordinator, Rhonda Dickson at 250 - 562 - 2553 or email
coordinator@northernica.org. Information may also be obtained by contacting the
CRD Grant Writer.

WL Council Highlights - Aug 21st mtg

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

UBCM Convention

Council authorized registration, travel and associated
expenses for Mayor and Council and the CAO to attend
the 2012 Union of British Columbia Municipalities Annual
Convention from September 24 to 28, 2012 in Victoria, BC
at an approximate cost per person of $3000, excluding
applicable taxes. Council will pursue meetings with the
Premier and a number of provincial cabinet ministers to
discuss, among other issues, crime, the Prosperity mine,
Woodland Drive water and sewer service, aging recreation
infrastructure, and the Cariboo Memorial Hospital Master
Plan.

Salvation Army Request for Use of Borland Street Parking Lot

Council approved the use of the parking lot at the corner of
Third Avenue and Borland Street by the Salvation Army for
their “Rally Day” on Saturday, September 15, 2012 from 10:00
am to 3:00 p.m. The day will feature games, music and a
concessions stand. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Speed Reader Board Joint Funded Partnership with ICBC

Council directed staff to participate in the speed reader
program campaign with ICBC to inform the public once
the reader boards are in place and become commissioned.
Through its cost sharing road improvement program, ICBC
has agreed to purchase 2 speed reader boards at a cost of
$14,000. These reader boards must be placed strategically
at two locations, one on Mackenzie Avenue and one on
South Lakeside Drive, for one full year. The purpose is to
provide ICBC with valuable information that comes from the
downloaded data. Data will indicate how many vehicles are
driving by and at what times of the day. The reader boards
will also show the driver what speed they are traveling and
can be programmed to flash “SLOW DOWN”. As part of a
cost sharing agreement between the City and ICBC, $40,000
from the 2012 budget will be used. The cost of the reader
boards will be four boards at a cost of $5,918 each, plus a
onetime purchase of data logging software for a total of $
24,274.50, excluding applicable taxes.

Rural Fringe Fire Protection Working Committee

The Province served notice to the City of Williams Lake in
July that the current Provincial fire protection agreement
covering some areas on the fringe outside the City would
be discontinued as of December 31, 2012 and that alternate
arrangements will be required to provide fire protection to
those properties.
Additionally, two fire protection agreements between the
City and the Cariboo Regional District are expiring and
require renewal.
At its Aug. 21 meeting, City Council appointed a committee
comprised of Councillors Walters, Bourdon and Zacharias
with support from CAO Brian Carruthers and Director
of Finance Pat Higgins. Negotiations will commence
immediately in order to allow the CRD sufficient time to
obtain the elector approval for taxation for continued fire
protection services.
The City of Williams Lake Council currently provides fire
protection services to a number of properties on the fringe
of the City of Williams Lake under three separate fire
protection agreements. The first agreement is with the
Province under the Local Services Act and covers a large
number of properties on the immediate fringe of the City.
The other two agreements are with the Cariboo Regional
District and include areas beyond the Provincial agreement
including Fox Mountain, Esler and upper Dog Creek Road.

Important Dates

Next Regular Council Meeting
Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Next Committee of the Whole Meeting
Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Next City/Central Cariboo Joint Committee Meeting
Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

City of WL to negotiate new Fire Protection Agreements with CRD

Editor's Note -- see a related blog post on this item from last Saturday here

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

The Province advised the City of Williams Lake in July that the current Provincial fire protection agreement covering some areas on the fringe outside the City would be discontinued as of December 31, 2012 and that alternate arrangements will be required to provide fire protection to those properties. Additionally, two fire protection agreements between the City and the Cariboo Regional District are expiring and require renewal.

At its Aug. 21 meeting, City Council appointed a committee comprised of Councillors Walters, Bourdon and Zacharias with support from CAO Brian Carruthers and Director of Finance Pat Higgins. Negotiations will commence immediately in order to allow the CRD sufficient time to obtain the elector approval for taxation for continued fire protection services.

The City of Williams Lake Council currently provides fire protection services to a number of properties on the fringe of the City of Williams Lake under three separate fire protection agreements. The first agreement is with the Province under the Local Services Act and covers a large number of properties on the immediate fringe of the City. The other two agreements are with the Cariboo Regional District and include areas beyond the Provincial agreement including Fox Mountain, Esler and upper Dog Creek Road.

The Cariboo Regional District has expressed an interest in pursuing an agreement with the City of Williams Lake to continue providing fire protection services to the rural residents covered under the existing agreements.

This is an important issue, and the City is very interested in working with the Cariboo Regional District to find a solution,” says Mayor Kerry Cook.

Any questions regarding fire protection services to properties outside the City of Williams Lake should be directed to the Cariboo Regional District.

Local Dog Park debate continues....

In today's Williams Lake Tribune, the thorny issue of whether or not 'political favoritism' was shown in getting a dog park approved continues with commentary from Tribune columnist Diana French and local Recreation Advisory Committee member David Reedman

Ms. French says good on Councillor Walters for championing a dog park but how about a WL Council champion for Scout Island...?

Meanwhile - Mr. Reedman stills challenges local City Councillor Laurie Walters for any 'facts' to show that the dog park was a priority of the public, contrary to both the 2011 Central Cariboo Recreation Survey and the recently adopted Parks, Trails and Outdoor Master Plan which neither document challenged elected officials to develop a dog park as a recreation priority

In my view, if a 2nd dog park is to be a reality, Councillor Walters will need to send that proposal to the local Recreation Advisory Committee for its' input prior to the 2nd dog park plan being approved by Williams Lake City Council, in order for this dog park controversy to die down.  As Mr. Reedman challenges other taxpayers - if you wish to either support Mr. Reedman's call for a review prior to a 2nd dog park or support the actions of Councillor Walters and the local Dog Park Committee - you may email your thoughts to her at lwalters@williamslake.ca

From Mr. Reedman - Aug 21st WL Tribune 'Letter to the Editor':

I am responding to Valerie Thiessen's letter in support of the new Williams Lake dog park

I am glad to see that a small group of individuals got together to work on established a dog park

Groups, such as these, play a key role in developing good projects in our community

I applaud the people on the Dog Park Committee for letting (Williams Lake) City Council know that they want a dog park

However, the planning and implementation of such a project is critical to ensuring that the project is well used and enjoyed by the community

Ms. Thiessen is right that there are various groups utilizing city parks and financial resources.  This is precisely the reason that (Williams Lake City) Council, City Staff, and volunteers spending significant amounts of time developing community plans and park use plans.  The Boitanio Dog Park that has been built is outside of these plans and was not identified as a priority for the very limited parks and recreation funding that the City (of Williams Lake) has available

Given the realities of our City's budgets, is it not in our best interests to ensure that every dime spent on any project is backed by a well thought-out plan?  Councillor Laurie Walters could not produce any research to back the dog park design that was built, and the design and location of the dog park was not even reviewed by the City's Planner

Were safety concerns considered in the design and the location of the dog park, and if yes, what has been put into place to mitigate these concerns?

While it is admirable that the Dog Park Committee is fundraising to further develop the dog park, I find it unusual that the City put up the fencing in advance of seeing any fundraised monies.  I have a dog and enjoy seeing people and their dogs around town and in the parks of our city, but I want to see my tax dollars used on well-planning projects

I'm still looking for an explanation from Councillor (Laurie) Walters, who has championed the dog park, as to why this project was deemed a priority despite three (3) City of Williams Lake Council reports suggesting otherwise, as well as, why it was built so quickly without thorough planning

Other taxpayers' may also want to ask Councillor Walters this same question considering that she has stated that she is already thinking about developing another dog park

David Reedman
Williams Lake



Cariboo RD North Cariboo APC's

As my blog stats tell me that one is looking for information about Advisory Planning Commissions (APC) in the Cariboo RD 'North Cariboo' area...

As I've previously stated - APC's is a local Commission (Committee) comprised of local individuals of the Electoral Area who provides recommendations to the Area Director/Regional Board on planning applications or community planning issues.  A Cariboo Regional District APC may have up to 10 individuals sitting on it with one of them serving as Chair, one as Secretary or, in some cases like the APC I serve on (Area 'D'), one individual may serve as both Chair/Secretary of the Area APC (I currently serve as both Chair/Secretary of the Area 'D' APC)

Members of an Area APC do not get paid for their work.  They serve in a volunteer capacity.  However the APC Secretary gets a $25 stipend for every set of minutes submitted to the CRD Williams Lake office as CRD APC Minutes are public documents that can be accessed on demand.  APC Members' also can claim mileage to meetings by submitting a expense claim, through their Area Director.  Finally - CRD Policy permits an Area Director, at their discretion, to take their APC out for lunch or dinner to show appreciation for their work at a maximum cost of $25 per APC member

If you are interested in learning more - please contact your North Cariboo  - Cariboo RD Electoral Area Director as follows:

Area 'A' Director Ted Armstrong - tarmstrong@cariboord.bc.ca
Area 'B' Director Heloise Dixon-Warren -hdixon-warren@cariboord.bc.ca
Area 'C' Director John Massier - jmassier@cariboord.bc.ca
Area 'I' Director John Glassford - jglassford@cariboord.bc.ca

SBF

Haldi Rd re-zoning debate over...

In the fall of 2011 - PG City Council considered a request to rezone property at 5877 Leslie Rd  and convert that property into a women's addiction treatment facility

Last Friday - BC Supreme Court Justice John Truscott ruled that PG Zoning Amendment Bylaw #8362,2011 was 'invalid' because it was inconsistent with the City of Prince Official Community Plan (OCP) Bylaw but had the OCP Bylaw been amended first prior to Bylaw #8362 then the zoning amendment bylaw would have upheld

The City of Prince George has announced today that it will not appeal the decision of Mr. Justice Truscott

The Prince George Citizen has done an editiorial on the whole situation including the following interesting comment...

If Truscott's ruling withstands the almost-inevitable appeal process, it will change the weight of OCPs (Official Community Plan) throughout B.C.

City councils which treat their OCPs as a list of friendly suggestions and guidelines, rather than as a legal framework for development, may be opening themselves to successful legal challenges.

As a result, some councils may choose to circumvent difficulties by gutting their OCPs of anything resembling a clear rule or guideline, so they can never be found to be opposition to them.


Of course, a local City Council who adopts a well-built OCP which sits on a great foundation of public input will, of course, never need to resort to 'gutting' an OCP unless they have political reasons for doing so...

Read the PG Citizen full editorial here
As well, you can read comment from PG City Councillor Brian Skakun here

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ottawa -- Pay up that $1 Billion you promised...

Over at Opinion250.com - PG Writer/Columnist Peter Ewart takes both Cariboo-PG MP Dick Harris and PG-Peace River MP Bob Zimmer to task over a 2006 promise to deliver $1 billion in pine beetle funds to this region and after 6 years - nothing!

That billion could do plenty for local communities including new economic mitigation measures and also new recreational opportunities for the communities of the Cariboo-Chilcotin including Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House

Read the hard-hitting op-ed here

Dr Jane Sterk speaks out...

In response to a blog story about the BC Green Party I ran on Sunday - Dr Jane Sterk, Leader of the BC Green Party left me this comment:

Steve,
I want to clarify the Green Party of BC position on the upcoming provincial election campaign. We intend to run exceptional candidates throughout the province. We are not running candidates against Bob Simpson in Cariboo North or against Vicki Huntington in Delta South. Greens value the work done by these hard working MLAs and we will say that publicly in our lead up to the election and encourage people to reelect them.

Our strategy is not substantially different from the Green Party of Canada. They too ran candidates in all ridings (except one where they had a candidate withdraw.) We intend to have several high profile campaigns where we think we have a greater chance of winning. Those ridings will be determined by the candidate, his or her ability to run a focused well-financed campaign, and areas of the province where our analysis suggests that we might win on a four way split. We expect there to be five to 10 of those campaigns.

BC Greens offer the only real alternative to the old parties. I am always puzzled by those who think BC Greens and the BC NDP have similar policies because we don't. That being said, I reached out to Adrian Dix after he was elected leader to see if there was any appetite on the part of the NDP to accommodate on seats. They were not interested.

Jane Sterk, Ph.D. Leader, Green Party of BC

Interesting that Dr. Sterk's party is willing to concede both Cariboo-North & Delta-South.  While I believe Vicki Huntingdon will be easily re-elected in 2013, Bob Simpson's chances are a "crap-shoot" depending on who he faces as candidates from the BC Liberals, BC NDP and BC Conservatives in Cariboo-North

Bill Barisoff retires...

After 35 years in politics - including time as a School District Trustee, 16 as a MLA and 5 as Speaker of the BC Legislature, Bill Barisoff has made the decision to retire in advance of the 2013 Election...

Congrats, Bill :)

Read more info here

2013 Provincial Election Delayed?

Yesterday, provincial blogger Alex G. Tsakumis reported on plans by the BC Liberals' to delay the May 2013 election to the fall of 2013.  It should be noted that provincial legislation would have to be changed to permit this.

In addition - the BC Liberals may constitutionally delay the election all the way until May 9th, 2014 (5th anniversary from last election).  Should that occur - the Lieutenant-Governor of BC (currently Hon. Steven Point) would have no choice but to unilaterally call an election himself without consulting the Premier

Read more here

Laughing Loon resurrected...

Over the last little while - the current Laughing Loon Pub & Beer/Wine Store has been the subject of court-directed bankruptcy proceedings and signs advertising the same have been posted on the property for some time now.... however those same signs have now come down...

I look forward to seeing who has bought the property and seeing their future plans for it

It would be nice to see the property resurrected as a restaurant once again especially for the two hotels nearby -- Best Western & Super 8

SBF

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mother of Health-Care lawsuits

Earlier today -- Vancouver Province's political columnist Mike Smyth looks at the "mother of lawsuits" involving Dr. Brian Day and his fight to make access to private care legitimate vs Victoria who is equally adamant that the "health care system status-quo" stands...

As I said on Facebook  - if one wants to pay for their own health care and that frees up beds for those who can't afford private care -- then I see that as an overall "win-win" for our public healthcare system

Meanwhile - Mr. Smyth looks like into the interal strife involving Mr. Cummins of the BC Conservatives'.

A word of advice to my BC Conservative friends -- make sure you have people who can communicate a lot better than Mr. Crocock did to CKNW reported Shane Woodford especially with May 2013 rapidly approaching...

Read Mr. Smyth's column here

BC Green Party to field 85 Candidates...

Yesterday -- CHNL in Kamloops reported the following:

Leader of BC's Green Party Jane Sterk says new candidates in Kamloops and across the province will be announced in the Fall.

With the recent success of Elizabeth May of the Federal Green Party - I, for one, would have thought that the BC Greens would copy the successful strategy of strategic campaigning to get BC Green candidates with the best shot of electability, getting them elected, rather than running 85 candidates province-wide

Now - with Greens running, traditionally that has hurt the BC NDP but with recent poll numbers showing the BC NDP clearly in the lead, will BC Greens' running 85 candidates hurt the BC NDP chances??  Only time will tell -- but it'll be interesting to see who the BC Greens in my two local provincial ridings of Cariboo-North and Cariboo-Chilcotin and it could make for an interesting campaign next May locally

SBF

Saturday, August 18, 2012

WL Council rejects giving power/parking to Mobile Vendors'

In quite a surprise - On July 20/21, Williams Lake City Council in a email poll vote of 4-2 rejected a request by WL City Planner Lilliana Dragowska to allow Mobile Vendors to have access to power at a flat rate of $200 per month and to allow off-street parking at Kiwanis Park and Spirit Square only.  The vote broke down as follows:

Yeas - Councillors Laurie Walters and Sue Zacharias (2)
Nays - Councillors Ivan Bonnell, Geoff Bourdon, Danica Hughes and Surinderpal Rathor (4)

Mayor Cook did not response to the email poll
Read Ms. Dragowska's full report here

Interior/Northern Health refuses to meet with CCRHD Board over boundary changes

In not an entire surprise - both the Chairs for Interior/Northern Health Boards have informed the Cariboo-Chilcotin Regional Hospital Board that they don't see value in meeting over allowing the CCRHD to deal entirely with the Northern Health Authority and they should approach the Minister of Health (Hon. Mike deJong) directly

Read more here (Northern Health letter) and here (Interior Health letter)

CRD Board to appoint 3 Alternate Directors'

In a report going forward to the Cariboo RD Board Friday - Corporate Officer Alice Johnston will report that CRD Directors Ted Armstrong (Area 'A'), Heloise Dixon-Warren (Area 'B') and Roger William (Area 'J') have failed to appoint an Alternate Director as per Section 787 (1) and (1.1) of the Local Government Act

Read more here

Will Councillor Thapar go to 2012 UBCM?

As part of his new restrictions - Quesnel Councillor Sushil Thapar asked at the July 30th Quesnel Council meeting to be allowed to attend the 2012 Union of BC Municipalities conference in Victoria.  Quesnel Council then deferred the request to this Monday's Quesnel Council meeting - read more here

While I expect Quesnel Council will ultimately allow Councillor Thapar to attend, should they not allow him to attend, it would be an incredible dumb move on Quesnel Council's part and given how many have expressed their support to Councillor Thapar (letters to the editor and protests), this would be one fight they (Quesnel Council) should not take on.

As they say -- pick your battles... but this is one battle that Quesnel Council can do without

SBF

Victoria terminates Local Fire Agreement with City of WL

On July 23rd of this year - Hon. Ida Chong (BC Minister of Community Services) wrote to the City of Williams Lake advising of the Province's intention to terminate the "Local Service Area" agreement for Fire Services for those residents living in the CRD Rural Fringe Area not currently protected by a local Fire Department.  A copy of this letter was sent to the Cariboo RD Board and MLA Donna Barnett

Read the letter here

With the loss of this grant (in 2010, grant was worth $641,141 to the City of Williams Lake and the City budgeted $600,000 for this grant in 2012).  It is fair to suggest that Councillors and Mayor Cook will have asked City Staff, as WL Council is beginning their 2013 Budget process, to show what $600,000 out of the Fire Department's budget would look like

The City of Williams Lake and the Cariboo Regional District will have until Thursday, October 4th to successful negotiate a new arrangement for Fire Services for CRD Rural Fringe residents.  After that - the CRD will have to quickly make alternate arrangements including the holding of a public meeting in mid-to-late October to explain short and long term options for fire services to affected residents in addition to seek Board approval for a new Function and giving the necessary readings to the Function Establishment Bylaw at the Oct 4th CRD Board Meeting.  Janis Bell (CAO - Cariboo Regional District) will inform the CRD Board on Friday that if negotiations fail - there is the potential for no fire services to some or all of the rural fringe areas in the short term (as of Jan 1st, 2013)

Meanwhile - WL City Council will agree, on Tuesday, to form a 5 person negotiating team on its' behalf of 3 Councillors and 2 Staff members.  Councillors Laurie Walters, Geoff Bourdon and Sue Zacharias will be the Councillors on the negotating team.  The staff members to be designated are likely to be Brian Carruthers (City of WL CAO) and Pat Higgins (City of WL Finance Director).  Mr Carruthers because of his negotiating experience with previous parties, in his former role as Director/General Manager of Community Services and Ms. Higgins because WL City Councillors will need advice on what financial arrangement(s) will work for the City.  WL City Council also received the July 23rd letter at its' August 7th In-Camera Meeting.  See the In-Camera resolution from the In-Camera Aug 7th WL City Council meeting coming forward Tuesday here

One aspect of the resolution that concerns me, both as a City of WL resident and as Chair of the CRD's Area 'D' Advisory Planning Committee is:

and further, that the working committee recognize Council’s previous recommendations with respect to the provision of services for rural fringe fire protection

It seems to me that this is nothing short of "gunpoint negotiations" and local political history shows that this type of negotiating tactic does not work with other parties.  Back in 2003 - former Quesnel Mayor Nate Bello tried this on the CRD Board of the day and it lead to years of bad relationships.  I would have hoped WL Council would try and keep an very open mind to successfully negotiate an arrangement for Fire Services that meets the needs of those requiring Fire Services on the rural fringe areas outside Williams Lake

The negotiating timelines would be as follow (assuming no negotiating on weekends and starts Monday - if they haven't started already)

Week of Aug 20-24
Week of Aug 27-31
Week of Sept 4-7
Weeks of Sept 10-21
Week of Oct 1st - 3rd

That leaves 28 "business" days to come to a new Fire Services arrangement between the Cariboo RD and the City of Williams Lake else the CRD would have move expeditiously on a "Plan B"

But let's be clear - this is something Victoria has been warning about for quite a while (since 2010) and WL City Councillor SPS Rathor has mentioned many times before and no one has done anything about it before now.  The last such "Local Service Area" agreement is in the Two Mile Flat area in Quesnel and I expect Victoria to terminate that agreement as well in the not too distant future

Best of luck to both parties to negotiate a new arrangement but based on previous statements from the City of WL and CRD on Rural Fire Protection -- I wouldn't hold my breath on a new agreement prior to October 4th

Friday, August 17, 2012

Local Gov'ts meet next week

After a long break - many of the local governments in the Cariboo-Chilcotin will be meeting next week, as follows:

Monday, August 20th - City of Quesnel

Regular Meeting at 7:00pm in Quesnel Council Chambers (2nd Floor - 410 Kinchant St)
View the Agenda here

Tuesday, August 21st - District of Wells

Regular Meeting at 7:00pm in Wells Council Chambers (4243 Sanders Ave)

Tuesday, August 21st - City of Williams Lake

Regular Meeting at 6:00pm in WL Council Chambers (450 Mart St)
View the Agenda here

Editor's Note - On Saturday, I'll be doing a blog post concerning an Agenda Item where WL Council has been informed by Victoria that it'll be losing its' provincial funding to provide fire services to certain CRD Rural Fringe residents and what the next steps are...

Friday, August 24th - Cariboo Regional District

Regular Meeting at 9:30am in the CRD Boardroom (Suite D - 180 North 3rd Ave, WL)
View CRD Board Agenda here
View Hospital District Board Agenda here

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bob Simpson on Timber Supply Committee Final Rpt

Just a few minutes ago - Ind Cariboo-North MLA Bob Simpson released his own view on the Timber Supply Committee's Final Report and identified 5 issues not yet resolved.  A very good read

Read more here

Internet Voting in Civic/Provincial Elections

Earlier today - BC's Attorney-General Shirley Bond spoke out on the concept of internet voting for local and provincial government elections.  My local MLA, Donna Barnett (Cariboo-Chilcotin), spoke out on this item last week as well which you can view here

My personal view is that if the appropriate safeguards are in place in addition to maintaining the traditional voting system for those without computers or don't wish to vote online - Internet voting can be a great tool for both our local and provincial democracies and even our Federal democracy and surely increase our steadily declining voter participation rates.  If we use the Internet to do our banking online with little or no worry, why should voting online be any different?

From BC Attorney-General Shirley Bond:

For some time now, we've been hearing from many British Columbians around the province, as well as from interested municipalities, that they want to know more about Internet voting.

As a society, we've grown increasingly comfortable with the Internet as a tool. In fact, 93 per cent of British Columbians now have access to high-speed Internet, making us one of the most connected jurisdictions in the world. Many of us have grown accustomed to the convenience the Internet offers and we often rely on it for functions like online banking, shopping and booking travel plans.

This shows the potential Internet voting has to increase accessibility and convenience and reinvigorate democracy in British Columbia. However, when it comes to something as integral to our democracy as our electoral process, it is imperative that the appropriate precautions are taken.

That's why I, as Attorney General, have requested that Elections BC convene an independent panel to examine the potential for Internet voting here in B.C. This is the first step in exploring whether or not Internet voting is a feasible option for our province.

Specifically, Elections BC has been asked to look at best practices when it comes to internet voting in other jurisdictions - both in Canada and around the globe. The panel will look at Internet voting in both local and provincial contexts, as certain factors may be unique to each level of government.

Most importantly, the panel will be examining all potential security and privacy concerns and how those may be addressed before we would even consider implementation. B.C.'s chief electoral officer Keith Archer will chair the panel, which will have members with expertise in technology, cryptography, Internet security policy and electoral administration.

This panel will - and already has - sparked an engaging conversation about modernizing our electoral process. While we remain optimistic Internet voting could increase voter turnout in our province, we are exercising tremendous caution with something as significant as our province's democracy.

I'll look forward to receiving the independent panel's report and observing the interesting debate about Internet voting as it unfolds.

Timber Committee releases its' Final Report

Yesterday, the Special Committee on the mid-term Timber Supply released its' final report which you can read in full here.  It contained 22 recommendations.  My local MLA, Donna Barnett, as a member of this Committee speaks to the report here

The report contained many useful recommendations and my own hope is that Victoria will agree, in due course, to implement all 22 recommendations...

CBC-BC looks at this story here.  In addition, Global-BC covers this story as well.  Video below:

2014 Slate Election in Quesnel

In a previous post concerning Quesnel City Councillor Sushil Thapar - I received the following comment:

what's needed is a slate approach to the next election....a slate of 7 with an identified platform to change the current situation top to bottom. out with the old, in with the new. it will take that to make a clean start in what has become a very sour place all because of personal gripes between a few so called leaders.

As I've previously commented - generally speaking, direct slate elections for local governments in this area are generally frowned upon by local voters'.  Although we have had "unofficial" slate elections in that individuals ran for election but band together to make decisions on the local City Council, thus creating the "unofficial" slate

Now, with the political shanangans in Quesnel - I wonder if this commentor is saying Enough is Enough! and let's wipe Quesnel City Council in 2014 and start anew & the other question that remains is whether or not these commentor speaks for the "silent majority" in Quesnel or not.  Time will tell - but my prediction is that a slate solution for the top political issue for Quesnel Council at the moment will likely be a non-starter for many... but with a convincing advertising campaign in 2014 to Quesnel voters' - a "brand-new" Quesnel Council in November 2014 is a distinct, however remote, possibility

BC Conservatives' In-Fighting...

Both yesterday and today - provincial media (CKNW/The Province) covered in-fighting by the BC Conservatives

I wonder if the 'family feud' being taken public won't but seriously jeopardize any legitimate hope that the BC Conservatives' have of being a serious contender at both the BC NDP/BC Liberals in next May's provincial election

Read the CKNW story here
Read Mike Smyth's column here
Read Alex G. Tsakumis's blog post on this item here

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Councillor Walters vs Dave Reedman - WL Dog Park

In a highly unusual move - Dave Reedman, a member of the local Central Cariboo Recreation Advisory Committee has chosen to speak out publicly over the rapid development of a dog park, in stark contrast to public priorities laid out in both the 2011 Central Cariboo Recreation Survey and the adopted Parks, Trails and Outdoor Recreation Master Plan

Disclosure Note - I am a former member of the Central Cariboo Recreation Advisory Committee

Read last week's Williams Lake Tribune article on this subject here

Williams Lake City Councillor Laurie Walters, in the article, fiercely defends the dog park, as good for the City however makes some 'eyebrow-raising' comments...

1) "Not necessarily things deemed a priority take the priority” - While what Walters says is true in the political world, there is a danger that the public will not participate in future forums that speak to recreation or community development priorities, especially if politicians will act contrary to the priorities laid out in a plan.  If the local Parks/Trails plan priorities can be ignored, what about the new OCP/ICSP.  As they say -- what's good for the goose is good for the gander...

2) That advisory committee (CCRAC) has really been a difficult committee, similar to the other committees at the City (of Williams Lake) - Not sure why Walters had to say negative things about the local Recreation Committee or her colleagues speaking negatively about the recently dissolved Advisory Planning Commission.  What's next -- the Accessibility Committee??

3) The dog park was driven by a community committee - This statement I have to challenge, the dog park was approved by way of a Staff report, it wasn't never, to the best of my knowledge, triggered by a local committee, in contrast to recently approved Community Gardens which were approved by Council after it received a delegation to move forward on Community Gardens'

4) If that location is not a good location or doesn’t work out, it’s not that difficult to move on to an another location, Walters states  - if this occurs, what is the financial implication to moving the dog park to a new location that may not have fencing and other recreational infrastructure to support a dog park.  I am certain those opposed to a dog park in Williams Lake would like to know those details, especially those on Woodland Drive trying hard to get basic municipal services like water/sewer

Final Analysis:

I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Reedman with his assessments over the dog park in Boitanio Park.  Meanwhile - a dog park supporter authored a letter to the editor in yesterday's Tribune questioning the statements of Mr. Reedman.  Meanwhile - with fierce opposition on Facebook to the currently established dog park... I wonder if that opposition were to grow if a second dog park were to be established in Williams Lake.

While I think the discussion of a dog park in Williams Lake is a great thing - I think the process and final product was/is lacking and could come home to haunt dog park supporters, including Councillor Walters.  If the dog park committee partnered with the City prior to building the dog park with appropriate signage, community infrastructure and advertising - the whole project would have received much more widespread public support then we see of late

Sushil Thapar - "A Spoiled Child"

In the continuing battle of transparency visions in Quesnel Council Chambers - Quesnel resident Anita Reid expresses her view on the whole Sushil Thapar situation

Read her letter to the Quesnel Cariboo Observer last week here

Also - last week, I received the following comment, in regards to the whole political situation of late in Quesnel:

Steve....it will not end....both sides don't know how to end it, so they are doomed to continue, and Quesnel'ers are doomed to suffer as a result. There is no way out except for wholesale change top to bottom. All parties in place do not have the skills or will to change and thus cannot.

If the above comment reflects the current view of the average Quesnel resident - I wonder if 2014 could see a wholesale change on Quesnel Council? Could even 3 censure motions at Councillor Thapar seriously sway enough Quesnel voters' for major change on Quesnel Council during the 2014 Civic Election?  Time will tell.... but I wouldn't be surprised if it did, in fact, happen

Monday, August 13, 2012

Gathering at WL City Hall over Sikh deaths in Wisconsin

Yesterday, 80 people assembled at Williams Lake City Hall to mourn over the 6 individuals who lost their lives at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin last week

Read the story from the Rush/Wolf here

See below a short video clip of WL City Councillor speaking to the crowd over the 6 Sikh's who lost their lives at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin last week:



Also - see below for a few pics from the gathering