Monday, June 30, 2008

The real pigeons were not the birds!

Police get complaints from Canada, US after pigeon-breeding company goes under

By Michael Oliveira, The Canadian Press
ADVERTISEMENT

TORONTO - Some farmers across North America are alleging that a now-defunct pigeon-breeding business was run like a pyramid scheme, and animal welfare advocates voiced concerns Monday that hundreds of thousands of birds could be at risk as a result of the business shutting down.

For years, Waterloo, Ont.-based Pigeon King International was selling breeding pigeons to farmers with promises to buy back their offspring at lucrative prices.

The company said it intended to build up a large stockpile of young birds to create a new North American pigeon-meat industry that would sell a lower-cost chicken alternative in supermarkets.

Company founder Arlan Galbraith had reportedly signed up around 1,000 breeders on farms in Canada and the United States.

It's estimated that 150 to 250 people in Ontario had bought birds from the company and as many as 400,000 pigeons may have been bred in the province, said Brent Ross, a spokesman for Ontario's Ministry of Agriculture.

But the company has now apparently gone bankrupt farmers don't know what to do with the flocks of birds on their farms.

Farmers essentially have two choices: either find a buyer for their birds or euthanize them properly, Ross said.

"Our main concern is that the birds are going to be treated humanely and continue to be fed and continue to be housed until such time as the pigeon growers determine what it is they wish to do with the birds," he said.

The ministry has updated its website detailing how pigeon owners can kill their birds humanely and what other options they may have to sell them.

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals executed a search warrant at the company's office last week so it could find out where in Ontario pigeons were being raised and held. Since the company had also been supplying feed to farmers, there was concern that some birds might stop being fed, said spokesman Darren Grandel.

He urged farmers to continue to feed, house and care for whatever pigeons they have and ask for help if they need it.

"You're pretty much obligated to do so under the law and definitely contact us if you have these birds and you're not able to care for them yourselves," he said.

"Don't just let them go without food."

Ross said the ministry had known about the company for years but only received complaints about it after it apparently went out of business.

He said it's not up to the ministry to decide if the company was running an illegal scheme, and police will investigate any complaints.

"We don't really look at business-to-business transactions in terms of (those types of) concerns," he said.

"As far as we know and as far as we knew at that time (we became aware of the company) it was indeed a legitimate business. No complaints had been received up until the date that apparently Mr. Galbraith said he was declaring bankruptcy."

But officials in several U.S. states have warned their citizens about the company's claims and ended up halting any further sales in those jurisdictions.

The office of Iowa's attorney general said in December that farmers should be wary of Pigeon King's claims and "whether there is a realistic and independent market for pigeons now and in the future."

It said it was concerned that Pigeon King's operations could be "providing inventory for new growers in furtherance of a 'Ponzi' type of investment scheme."

Sgt. Robert Zensner of the Waterloo Regional Police said the force has received eight complaints about Pigeon King so far from farmers in Canada and the United States and is still deciding whether it should open a criminal investigation into the company's business.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Readers write -- Media Release

For Immediate Release
June 29, 2008

Healthcare under siege.

LUMBY– Universality in healthcare is under threat. The dangers posed by the American model of "for-profit" healthcare cannot be overestimated. Under NAFTA, allowing more for-profit healthcare in Canada could be the "thin edge of the wedge" that jeopardizes our entire national healthcare system. We cannot take that risk.

Yet it is happening as we sleep. There is a Public Private Partnership (P3) hospital being built in Abbotsford. The Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) announced that 240 public long-term care beds will be closed and replaced with beds operated by private for-profit companies. Here at home, Interior health is engaged in a P3 deal with Infusion Health for the building of the new tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Premier Campbell has no mandate to privatize the healthcare system. The federal government should use the full force of the Canada Health Act to prevent the privatization of our national healthcare system. There has been no information forthcoming from either governments. Had it not been for the Vernon Taxpayers Association, we may not have realized that our healthcare system is under siege.

Privatization has been proven to be bad for Canadians. A study done by McMaster University reported that the "Canadian governments would pay an extra $7.2 billion in annual health care costs if Canada switched to investor-owned private for-profit hospitals". According to Dr. P.J. Devereaux, the lead author of the study, "With for-profit care, you end up paying with your money, and your life."

Huguette Allen.
Green Party MP Candidate
Industry & Small Business Critic

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Selected articles MS -- 2008-06-29



If fuel costs don't stop holiday plans, can we expect the carbon tax to be an effective tool to reduce carbon emission?















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The Honourable Minister should stop referring to the $100 million government investment in the local hospital. It is the taxpayers of the province that make the $60 million investment and the local area property taxes that make up the other $40 million. As a former Chair of the Okanagan Shuswap Hospital District he is well aware of the major contribution local taxpayers make in these expenditures. I assume he is in a bit of a bind since all decisions he makes have to be cleared with the "private segment" of the Public/Private Partnership (P3) his government is pushing down the throat of the taxpayers of the province.
The P3 is an unholy marriage between the public and the private sector. The main purpose of the private sector is to produce maximum profit. The public sector, on the other hand, is to provide the most cost effective service to the taxpayers.

This system really ties the hands of our elected representatives. A contract is signed with the private partner for 30 years and this gives the decision making to the private partner for nearly half the average human lifetime. If circumstances change re-negotiations of the contract can be very difficult and costly for the government.

Way to go, Premier Gordon and Minister Abbott!

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Should not we have a referendum (wink, wink) to gauge the support of the people before we make a final decision on this?

Just kidding!














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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Homeowners fight city hall and win .

CBC NEWS: June 27

A group of residents in Coquitlam declared victory Friday in their fight against city hall. The residents threatened the city with a class action lawsuit over building permit fees they had to pay in the 1990s. Susan Antoniali's fight began in 1999, when she was getting ready to do some home renovations. A building permit from the city that should have cost $5,200 ended up costing her more than $19,000 because of extra fees, called "deposits" by city hall. The city collected thousands of dollars in "deposits" from homeowners like Antoniali to pay for new sidewalks, curbs and streetlamps, as a condition of issuing the permits. However, the money was never returned, meaning in some cases, people paid three times what they should have in order to get a building permit. "In my mind, it was simple. You collect it as a deposit and if I don't harm you and you don't harm me, I get my deposit back," Antoniali said. She first took the city to small claims court, but lt. Then, she learned of others in Coquitlam who had also paid the deposits and didn't get their money back. They joined forces, and 272 homeowners signed onto a class action suit to get their deposits back. "They really shouldn't have tried to impose, let's call it a tax, on people when it's not justified by legislation," said John Dives, a lawyer representing the homeowners.

The threat of the suit was enough to get Coquitlam City Hall to offer a settlement that cost the city $1.8 million. On Friday, residents began receiving their settlement cheques, some for as much as $6,000. On average the residents who took part in the class action suit got back at least 90 per cent of what they had paid out. "I think the message for municipalities is get your ducks in order in advance and only collect fees you're entitled to collect, otherwise these kinds of processes are available for the little guy to get his money back," Dives said. Antoniali called the settlement a huge victory. "When it doesn't make sense, you've got to do something about it," she said. "You can fight city hall, basically."

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There is hope that sewer customers could get some satisfaction!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Further to Coldstream's Financial Report.

Just to prove my point regarding the Auditor's presence at the presentation of the Financial Report I offer the last four years' Minutes of the Financial Report presentation. Why was this same Auditor absent from the presentation this year? Look at the evidence below.

THE CORPORATION OF THE DISTRICT OF COLDSTREAM

Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Council

of the District of Coldstream held Monday, June 28, 2004

1. DELEGATIONS

a. Financial Statements – For the year Ended December 31, 2003

Brian Coburn and David Nardi from BDO Dunwoody were in attendance to present the financial Statements for the year ended December 31, 2003.

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THE CORPORATION OF THE DISTRICT OF COLDSTREAM

Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Council

of the District of Coldstream held Tuesday, May 24, 2005

1. DELEGATIONS

a. Financial Statements
For the Year Ended December 31, 2004

Brian Coburn of BDO, Auditors for District of Coldstream, was available to present and speak to the Financial Statements for the year ended December 31, 2004.

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THE CORPORATION OF THE DISTRICT OF COLDSTREAM

Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Council

of the District of Coldstream held Monday, June 12, 2006


2. DELEGATIONS

a. Financial Statements
For the Year Ended December 31, 2005

Brian Cockburn from BDO Dunwoody presented a brief summary of the Financial Statements for the year ended December 31, 2005, and advised he was available to answer any questions.

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THE CORPORATION OF THE DISTRICT OF COLDSTREAM

Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Council

of the District of Coldstream held Monday, May 28, 2007


1. DELEGATIONS

a. District of Coldstream 2006 Financial Statements

Brian Cockburn from BDO Dunwoody, presented a brief summary of the Financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2006, and advised he was available to answer any questions. He also confirmed that the audit was conducted in accordance with international audit standards.


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Selected article MS -- 2008-06-27


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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Coldstream financially comfortable -- By Jennifer Smith - MS - June 26, 2008

Even with a $4 million debt for new firehalls, Coldstream is sitting pretty financially, according to the books for 2007.

“We’re sitting pretty good, really, compared to a lot of other municipalities,” said Catherine Lord, director of financial administration.

While debt capacity is $19 million, Coldstream’s long-term debt is sitting at $4.2 million.

Lord presented the annual financial report for 2007 at Monday’s council meeting, where she highlighted some of the projects, priorities and development.

While the entire report was available to the public, one key aspect was missing during the public process, said Gyula Kiss, Coldstream Ratepayers Association president.

“Once a year I think the whole citizenry should be able to ask questions of the auditor,” said Kiss, as an auditor was not available at the meeting.

An audit was performed and the report is available, but typically the auditor has been present at such meetings. Following the auditor’s report, which found the financial statements to be presented fairly, council agreed there was not a need for the auditor to attend.

Annual audits are performed, and recently an additional audit was performed on Coldstream.

The special audit, which Kiss had requested, related to sewer extensions. He disagrees with how funds were collected and used to fund sewer extensions.

That audit cost taxpayers $9,424. The 2007 financial audit cost $10,568 while the 2006 audit cost $8,172.

The sewer extension audit concluded that Coldstream acted within its authority.

Lord explains that Coldstream’s policy is to save and build up some funds for projects, rather than carry an entire project’s cost in debt. But Kiss does not agree with that theory.

He says the existing sewer users shouldn’t have paid for previous sewer extensions and shouldn’t be squeezed for any future sewer extensions either.

“I don’t think the sewer users should be treated as a bank,” said Gyula.

Aside from its sewer woes, 2007 was a productive year in Coldstream.

“A lot of development was happening in 2007,” said Lord, pointing to such developments as the Inverness/Aberdeen Village of 73 residences.

Capital projects included aeration of the Kalavista Lagoon to improve odours and upgrades to both the Kinloch and Lisheen lift stations. A major road condition review was also launched to create a plan on when to repair or refurbish roads.

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During my nine years on Council it was always customary to have the Auditor present his/her audit and answer questions from the floor. This year this opportunity was not provided. Was it due to the fact that I requested a special audit with respect to the irregularities relating to the sewer expenditure? It's anyone's guess. I have never seen the confidential report provided to Council and I was hoping to question the Auditor on that subject. After all, according to the Organizational Chart the taxpayers are the boss.

I wanted to find out how the Auditor could explain the fact that the Director of Finance started out with an erroneous set of assumptions yet her final conclusion was acceptable.

It is a mystery how Council and staff could rationalize the provision of a new sewer line for a developer at taxpayers' expense.

The financing formula developed by staff is even more mysterious. However, let's not worry about those items for a moment. Let's just look at the way it was designed.

The assumption was that there will be no grants from other levels of governments. Thus, $93 of every $100 spent was taken out of the utility reserve which utility users had to replace (and did it in three years).

In the meantime Council did receive a grant from the Okanagan Basin Water Board. which paid $18 of each $100 spent. This money should not have been taken out of the utility as the the OBWB is financing it through a 20 year term. As it is utility users are used as bankers.

What's wrong with that you may ask? We had to replace the whole some removed from reserves now and it will dribble back into the account over the next 20 years. Many of us will not be here for the final payment. An MFA loan would be the right mean of financing this 18%. We are not talking about peanuts it amounts to $120,000 or about $60 per household.

Added to this is the $250,000 that was removed from the operating reserves of the utility. That is a further $45,000 or $22 per household.

I would have liked to find out what the explanation for these anomalies were.

I would have also liked to find out which other community would provide an assist factor of 50% for new growth in advance and only from a small segment of the population.

Sewer customers do not get any benefit from this investment. If Council is hell-bent on sticking it to the taxpayers then they should do it to ALL taxpayers and explain it to them why it is beneficial.

A face-to-face debate with the Auditor might have cleared the air. Unfortunately, Council did not provide this opportunity.

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Out of this World.

These are awesome photos of the last space mission. I could post more if anyone interested.

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Readers write -- Letter to the Editor.

Health and Healthcare at risk.

A few weeks ago, the Vernon Tax Payers Association presented a petition containing 18,000 names to our elected officials asking for adequate funding for Vernon Jubilee Hospital. As I listened to Tony Stamboulieh read the petition I asked myself how it could be that Canada, a rich country, currently ranks among the lowest of 30 OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries in the ratio of doctors and acute care beds per thousand people?It is not the lack of funding for billions of dollars are injected in the system every year.

I believe there are 3 major reasons. The first is increasing illness due to environmental toxins. Almost half of Canadians contract cancer. Over 20% of children have asthma. There is an epidemic of obesity in adults and children. Close to one million Canadians have been diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. And before you rush to add that this is due to living longer, let me point out that this is not true. Children are contracting cancers and children are born with increasing problems. We are the first generation whose life expectancy is longer than that of our children. Hundreds of chemicals used in our everyday life carry risks of increased cancer, infertility, learning disabilities and other intellectual impairment, and damage to the immune system. There are less toxic substitutes for these products, but industry lobbies to maintain their registration and legal use drowns out the voices of concerned health professionals and families concerned about health.

The second problem is that doctors treat symptoms rather than the cause of illness and often do so in a way that worsens the problems. Over-prescription of drugs is causing far more deaths than street drugs and is responsible for millions of hospitalization per year. CT scan use is climbing 10% per year, and said to be likely to cause 2-3% of all cancers in the next few years. An abdominal CT scan gives the same intensity of radiation as experienced by Japanese citizens a couple of km away from the Nagasaki atomic bomb and is the equivalent of 500 chest Xrays all given at once. Skyrocketing PharmaCare costs have now eclipsed all other health care expenditures.

The third problem is the lack of adapted programs and systems. There are not enough home support and home care programs and assisted-living services for people with chronic care needs, including many seniors who wish to stay in their own homes and communities. We need to create centralized wait lists, move from a paper system to electronic technology to share information, address the staffing shortage and in some cases, the facility and equipment shortages. The longer people wait for treatment, the sicker they become and the longer they suffer.

This situation is far more dangerous than we may think. The threat of a NAFTA challenge from the American for-profit health care industry cannot be over-estimated. Allowing for-profit health care would be the “thin end of the wedge” that jeopardizes our entire health system. Based on the rules for “national treatment,” if Canada allows increasing numbers of for-profit facilities, we run the risk of losing our entire universal single payer system in a NAFTA challenge. We cannot take that risk. Fixing our health care system means protecting the core elements of universal single-payer health care.

I am thankful to the Vernon Taxpayers' Association for highlighting this issue for it might motivate us to treat the causes rather than the symptoms, and in doing so, protect our national health care system.

Huguette Allen
Green Party MP Candidate
Industry & Small Business Critic.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Selected article MS -- 2008-06-25


Monday's Council meeting presented a peculiar situation.

Following the presentation by Mr Cookson, Mayor Corner permitted comments from the audience. It was very surprising as he would not allow anyone speak to the sewer issue during the OCP Amendment Public Hearing even though the developer was advised that construction of the Aberdeen sewer line would be a requirement of the development. That ruling was inconsistent with public hearing procedures as was his ruling in this instance.

His next ruling was again very surprising. Following my presentation he declined to allow any comments from the audience. In fact he denied permission to allow the taxpayers to speak to my presentation even during the 10 minute public opportunity to speak to Council. Very peculiar interpretation of the rules! There must be something I said that he disagrees with!


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Monday, June 23, 2008

Why we should not build the Aberdeen sewer line.

I made the following presentation to Coldstream Council last night:

The last election was a closely contested one. Your Worship was elected by a slim majority of about 20 votes. However it was still a majority and you had the privilege of sitting in that chair making decisions in the name of the people.


Unfortunately, your decisions did not always reflect the wishes of the p
eople. Some examples are this Municipal building, approving the huge expansion of Coldstream Meadows, the extension of the sewer line from McClounie to Aberdeen Road at taxpayers’ expense and the Sports Complex. You seem to forget at times that Organizational chart you included in the financial report where taxpayers are supposed to be in the top layer.

This latest effort appears to be another attempt to ignore the wishes of the people. You believe we should build a sewer trunk line down Aberd
een Road. You would not allow anyone addressing that issue during the last public hearing. It seems, your mind is made up and you would not want to hear from those not agreeing with your point of view.

Last year Council commissioned an environmental report, carried out by Golder Associates. While they did report of poor septic systems especially in the Paisley-Shamanski-Rendell Drive area they also polled the residents within the study area wether or not they wished to have sewer. Of the 140 respondents 63% answered “no” and only 29% answered “yes”. Now, that is a substantially larger margin of “no” than your margin of victory in the last election. These taxpayers are the ones who will foot the bill related to sewer connections and not you nor the rest of Council. Heed their wishes!

You
may ask why this issue should bother me.

As the Acting President of the Coldstream Ratepayers Association it is my duty to represent the wishes of the ratepayers. All residents are ratepayers even if they are not paying membership fees. They are paying their taxes to this Council and they expect appropriate representation.


The developer is also paying the required fees and he should be treated fairly. He has an alternative sewer system to which he could connect. Council has already set the precedence when approving the adjacent development to use the alternate sewer system. Changing the parameters now for this developer could be considered a biased decision.


It is also my understanding that the developer would be committing to $1 million for the construction of this system. Judging from the site work at the Fire Hall (presently at $617,000) I am certain that the costs of the 1.7 km trunk line will be far beyond $1 million. I hate to think who will be settled with the difference. The problems for a new Council will be tremendous.


We still have not resolved the problems created
by the gifting of a new sewer trunk line to Coldstream Meadows. Staff and Council is in a real conundrum over this issue and adding to this mess is totally unfair for the next and subsequent Councils. The present Council inherited the difficulties from the previous one, thus, they should understand the unfairness of passing on a new set of troubles to future Councils. The financial implications are mind boggling. You only have five months left to resolve present issues. November is election time!

Proposed policies tabled at an earlier Council meeting will require residents fronting this new line to connect to it within five years. In the meantime they would have to pay the operation and maintenance costs of the sewer system presently calculated by the Director of Finance at $320 annually. That is a hefty unexpected expense to unsuspecting residents who are supposed to be the BOSS and should be the first to know.


You should also be concerned about the beleaguered residents who are already on the sewer system and are paying inordinate sew
er fees. Those same proposed policies I mentioned earlier also require those residents to put up 50% of the replacement costs of the existing sewer main from McClounie to Alpine Centre. That line is only 30 years old. They only finished paying for it in 2005. The only reason that pipe needs to be replaced is due to growth. Why should existing sewer customers pay for a new line that is requiring replacement because of growth and, in fact, put up half of the replacement cost in advance? I have heard of some assistance for growth but what Council has done by requiring these same residents to put up 111% of the cost of the McClounie to Mackie Drive sewer extension was already criminal. To require these same taxpayers to pay half of the replacement costs of their own perfectly functional sewer trunk line in advance is beyond words.

In order to demonstrate what mindless actions create let me show y
ou one map sheet created by Golder Associates. It portrays the suitability of lands for on site sewer disposal. Note that the most suitable sites are along the “urgent” sewer line from McClounie to Mackie Drive. Can you explain that? Why did we have to put up all that money for an unnecessary sewer line? It was not an urgent issue. Since the developer needed that connection he would have constructed it at his own expense and collected latecomer fees from residents connecting to it at a later date.

But of course, except for two of you, you don’t have to pay these costs so why should it bother you? My suggestion is: it should! Remember the Organizational Chart: you are the second layer and the bosses will have to make a decision again in November.

Gyula Kiss
Acting President, CRPA


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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Who is the BOSS?



Page 7 of Coldstream's 2007 Annual Financial Report depicts the Organizational Chart of the District of Coldstream. Note how it should be: the Citizens of Coldstream are on top, Council and Staff. Do you agree that this chart actually depicts reality?

Just remember the referendum to borrow money for the construction of a new Municipal Hall and Fire Halls. The Citizens rejected it, Council built the Municipal Hall anyway. There were major objections for the expansion of Coldstream Meadows Development. Who won? Not the citizens.

The overwhelming majority of people along the new sewer line on Kalamalka Road opposed sewer, those who knew that the money for it came from the utility's reserve opposed it. Council awarded the contract as their last act before the election. It was almost like they were scared to leave the decision to the next Council. No environmental study, no referendum, no information on the need, they just rammed it down our throats. Do you know what the study commissioned last year shows? Check it out! It shows that the most suitable locations for septic systems are along the new McClounie-Mackie Drive trunk line. There was no urgency for a sewer line there except for the fact that Coldstream Meadows' development depended on it. Had we done the study in advance of the actual construction we would have known that there was no urgency. Or perhaps we did not want to know that.

Remember the fiasco when Mayor Corner tried to have an end-run around Council and the citizens of Coldstream with regar
ds to the Sports Complex? Obviously, the citizens did not occupy the top layer the Mayor kept that for himself. Fortunately, the citizens finally spoke up.

Now Council wants to have a new sewer trunk line constructed on Aberdeen Road. The same study that produced the above suitability map also ran a survey among people in the area of the sewer line. Of the 140 respondents 63 said "NO" to sewer and only 29% said "YES". it is obvious that the majority do not want it.

Should Council honour the Organizational Chart? I say YES! The cost of the sewer connection will be born by the Citizens. The developer who would be constructing the trunk line would only be responsible for $1 million. Who would pay for extra costs? Did you know that the Fire Hall sewer connection now is at $617,000 (page 4). How much would an additional 1.7 km sewer line cost? What do you think? More than $1 million?

Come to Council on Monday, June 23 and express yourself. The elections are only five months away! We don't want this Council to download a huge mess on the next Council as was done by the previous Council.

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Selected articles MS -- 2008-06-22 -- Adds and ends.








And we worried that our politicians and staff are getting overpaid!!!!











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Selected articles MS -- 2008-06-22

















Coldstream related issues.






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Letters to the Editor -- Morning Star -- 2008-06-22



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Selected articles MS -- 2008-06-22



Articles relating to the hospital.
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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Council meeting - June 23, 2008

REGULAR MEETING OF THE COUNCIL
OF THE DISTRICT OF COLDSTREAM

TO BE HELD ON MONDAY, JUNE 23, 2008
IN THE MUNICIPAL HALL COUNCIL CHAMBERS
9901 KALAMALKA ROAD, COLDSTREAM, BC
AT 7:00 PM

A G E N D A

1. ANNUAL FINANCIAL REPORT FOR THE YEAR ENDED,
DECEMBER 31, 2007

(Please remember to bring your report to the meeting.)

The Director of Financial Administration will present the Annual Financial Report, followed by submissions and questions from the public.

a. Public Input
(1) Mr. John Hegler will be in attendance to speak to this matter.

(2) Other members of the public wishing to speak.
2. DELEGATIONS

a. Rezoning Application No. 08-009-ZON and 08-010-OCP of Lot 21, Blk. 9, DL 3888, ODYD, Plan 4068, 8505 Kalavista Drive (Cookson)

Jim Cookson will be in attendance to speak to this matter.

b. Municipal Sewer

Gyula Kiss will be in attendance to speak to this matter.

3. PUBLIC OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS COUNCIL
(Total Time Allotted: 10 Minutes)

NOTE: This time is to afford members of the public the opportunity to address issues on the agenda dated, June 23, 2008. Issues that are not on the current agenda will not be heard by Council.

If you have items to address that are not contained in this agenda, please contact the Municipal Clerk to make a formal request to appear as a delegation at a future meeting of Council.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dion sets table for epic policy battle with $15.4 billion carbon tax plan.

1 hour, 44 minutes ago

By Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - Stephane Dion rolled the dice Thursday on his future as Liberal leader, unveiling a complex and politically risky plan to wean Canadians off fossil fuels.

The "green shift" would impose a carbon tax worth $15.4 billion a year - to be offset by an equivalent cut in income and business taxes and a boost in tax breaks for poor, elderly, northern and rural Canadians who stand to be hardest hit by the increased cost of necessities like home heating fuel, electricity, food and travel.

In choosing to make the plan the centrepiece of the Liberal platform, Dion is setting up the next election as an epic battle over competing economic and environmental policies. But he's also triggering a debate over character.

Dion cast himself Thursday as a bold, visionary leader with the courage to do the right thing.

By contrast, he characterized Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a bully who is spreading lies about the Liberal proposal and indulging in juvenile attack ads rather than engage in an honest, thoughtful debate about the most serious crisis facing the planet.

"These attack ads are a sad joke and an insult to the intelligence of Canadians," Dion told an enthusiastic crowd of Liberal MPs, senators and staffers, most of whom sported green caps and T-shirts bearing the slogan "The Green Shift."

"They say much more about Stephen Harper's leadership than they do about me or my ideas."

But Harper was quick to strike back, delivering a withering critique of the plan and the sanity of its author.

"Mr. Dion's policies are, as I said, crazy. This is crazy economics. It's crazy environmental policy," Harper said at a news conference in Huntsville, Ont.

"All this is is a revenue grab to finance his program."

Other Tories jumped in to depict Dion as a deceitful flip-flopper who can't be trusted to honour his promise that the carbon tax will be revenue neutral and will not be applied at the gas pumps. They pointed out that only two years ago, Dion himself dismissed a carbon tax as "simply bad policy" and repeatedly vowed not to introduce one.

"This from a man who says he's never broken a promise," scoffed Jason Kenney, the Tories' designated point man on the Liberal plan.

Kenney accused Dion of using "weasel words" like green shift and revenue neutral to make the carbon tax sound more palatable. And he said the leader is masking the indirect costs of the tax.

For instance, Kenney said the tax will make it more expensive for energy companies to extract and transport oil and gas - a cost that will inevitably be passed on to drivers, already reeling from soaring gas prices, at the fuel pumps.

"It's a chain reaction and it doesn't stop. It's a tax on everything," Kenney asserted.

Dion did not dispute that industry will pass along the cost of the carbon tax to consumers. But he argued that the Tories' plan to regulate the greenhouse gas emissions of big polluters or the NDP plan to impose a hard cap on emissions would produce the same result.

Only the Liberal plan, he boasted, will help offset the cost to consumers with tax cuts and tax breaks.

Although the plan is ostensibly motivated by the need to combat global warming, both the Tories and NDP noted that it has curiously little to say about actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, the plan says only that Liberals "believe that our target should be" to reduce emissions by 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair said nothing in the plan compels emission reductions. He characterized Dion's carbon tax as "a fine" on industry for continuing to pump out unlimited increases in greenhouse gas emissions.

The NDP favours imposing a hard cap on the emissions of big polluters, with a trading system for companies that exceed the cap to buy credits from companies whose emissions are below the cap.

Dion, who used to advocate the same kind of cap and trade system, allowed that his views on the matter have "evolved."

He said he still believes cap and trade should be instituted eventually. But since it would take years to get up and running, he's become convinced that a carbon tax is the best way to get immediate results.

While Dion's plan was panned by his political opponents, it won guarded praised from economists and environmentalists, some of whom suggested the carbon tax isn't high enough.

The Liberal plan would initially peg the price of greenhouse gas emissions at $10 per tonne, rising to $40 per tonne in the fourth year. At that point, the tax would boost federal revenues by $15.4 billion annually, offset by a host of tax cuts and credits.

Reaction was muted among provincial governments.

In British Columbia, which will introduce a carbon tax on all fossil fuels, including gasoline, starting July 1, Energy Minister Richard Neufeld suggested that Dion's decision not to apply the tax at the fuel pumps is "kind of a cheap way of going about it."

"They really are not actually taking the bull by the horns," he said.

In Saskatchewan, the provincial government called Dion's plan the start of a new National Energy Program that will see companies in the oil-rich West taxed and the money redistributed to central Canada.

"This Liberal tax grab called green shift, if it is fully implemented, Saskatchewan people will get the green shaft," said Energy Minister Bill Boyd, whose government has close ties to Harper's Conservatives.

Nevertheless, Dion is clearly hoping the bold initiative gives him a political boost and helps shake the Tory caricature of him as a weak, dithering leader.

"The environmental and economic challenges of the 21st century can only be solved by bold vision and courageous leadership," Dion said.

"I offer this leadership to my country. My party, the Liberal party, must do so because others will not."

Dion and key members of his team are expected to fan out across the country over the summer to sell the merits of the plan.

Liberal new Carbon Tax Plan.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Selected article MS -- 2008-06-18 -- By the numbers.

In general, novice Councillors attend more conventions and seminars than do long serving politicians. New politicians need to attend seminars where they are introduced to the intricacies of being a Councillor or Mayor. They also make connections with their counterparts in other communities and compare notes with others on problems and potential solutions.

These conventions actually take a lot of time and work if the participants work diligently. In some cases the evening socials are the attractions for attending. Each political party, large corporations who are hoping to get business opportunities entertain participants of these functions.

Long serving Council members have generally had their fill of these happenings and some just don't want to take the time to attend for their own business reasons.

Councillor Malerby is new to Council, she is still learning (we hope!). Councillor Taylor, however, is a third time member of Council. He must have his own reasons for taking in so many functions and charging so much for expenses.

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A short carrier in federal politics -- MS News

I am not even sure if it could be considered a carrier! She promised to be the North Okanagan's voice in Ottawa. Now she will be silent and won't be in Ottawa. Good luck Buffy!


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Opposition Leader meets with Vernon and District Taxpayers.


Carol James, Leader of the of the Opposition NDP Party and Adrian Dix, NDP Health Critic held a town-hall meeting at the Schubert Centre this morning at 8 AM with several members of the public discussing the critical status of the Vernon area health care. Carol James praised the efforts of the Taxpayers Association and reflected on the success of the petition initiated by the group.

Adrian Dix revealed the problems associated with the P3 (Public Private Partnership) ideology of the Liberal Government. Contra
cts under the partnership are signed for thirty years and this creates major problems in initiating changes in the system in response to changing needs and changing health issues. The fact that the ideology tries to combine to opposing systems (maximum profit by the free enterprise and most cost effective provision of health care) is difficult to rationalize.

Following the meeting a media information session was held in front of the Vernon Jubilee Hospital with a large number of media representatives participating. Ms James declar
ed that this meeting was one of many in the coming 11 months. She intends to hold numerous town hall type meetings in preparation for the next election.





















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Monday, June 16, 2008

District of Coldstream 2007 Annual Financial Report for the year ended December 31, 2007

Coldstream's Financial report is now available either from the Municipal Office or through the internet.

Page 9 contains the Municipal Mission Statement as follows:
Mission Statement of the District of Coldstream
"We, the Council of the District of Coldstream, are committed to a long-range plan for Coldstream, which fosters orderly growth and which enhances rural living at its best. Our mission is to make this a living plan supported by efficient fiscal management, appropriate policy and procedure development, and effective delivery of services."
I am not sure if Council is entirely successful in this endeavour. In six years our water service changed only in price but the quality remained. My sewer service now includes paying for new development at an outrageous rate. A couple of new sewer lines are in the ground but serve very few people.

Anyway, enjoy the report it seems to be well presented.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Readers write.

In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “ this is like déjà vu all over again”. I’m referring , of course, to Councillor Taylor’s winning the biggest spenders award for the second year running (or is it longer). In his own words, referring to his attending all the conferences he could last year, ” I will continue to go. So my expenses will probably continue to be on the high range compared to those who don’t attend these things.” ( Morning Star June 15th, 2008). If these are truly his words , they certainly display a distain for beleaguered taxpayer of this community, especially in a year when an attempt was made by Council to raise taxes by nearly 10%.


Don’t get me wrong, I believe there is a place for conference attendance…..sometimes. In the private sector it is usually done to network for business purposes or acquire technical skill, and in times of economic restraint attendance is canceled or severely limited. What value for money did I get from Councillors Taylor and Malerby attending a number of conferences? Why such high expenses when most conferences are within driving distance of Vernon? How did this conference attendance contribute to the better management of this community (raised taxes, expensive and unnecessary Spicer Block referendum, ignoring of the OCP, sewer issues, Smart Growth??)? Join me in helping to send these 2 individuals packing next civic election…..we, as a community, deserve better.ᘀ

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Selected articles MS -- 2008-06-15



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There is a need for some expenses if Council is to carry out its role as representatives of the community. If those expenses were legitimate and the community received some value from Council members' reports then money is well spent.

However, Council members must exercise some common sense when requesting attendance to conventions. Residents of Coldstream should not worry about unauthorized and excessive expense accounts, as was the case in another jurisdiction, because in Coldstream Council must authorize attendance to meetings in advance and daily spending limits are set by Council.


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Friday, June 13, 2008

How do YOU see the future of Coldstream?

It was no surprise that Mayor Corner employed chicanery in preventing residents from speaking about the sewer issue at the last Public Hearing. He already demonstrated how he felt about Coldstream’s OCP during the Sports Complex debacle. His vision of Coldstream’s future departs from those of the majority of residents.

He ruled out of order any reference to sewer during the hearing then had the District Engineer introduce the sewer issue, extol the advantages of “option 1" (the option to build a sewer main down Aberdeen Road) and thereby preventing any residents from registering their views and objections.

Those of you interested in Coldstream’s future should take a look at the map of Coldstream (click on the blue “map” above). At a magnification of 400-600 you can follow the proposed sewer route on Aberdeen Road from the site of the proposed development (marked 9728-9724 just below the present development). Note the 13 properties on the west side of the road (9704-9202). For 700 meters the only properties that could be sewered are on the west side. The east side is occupied by the Spicer Block of Sports Complex fame.

In all, no more than 37-38 properties could be considered available for connection. I am sure most of those property owners would disagree with the need for sewer connection. In fact, only 8 of the responding residents on Aberdeen Road favoured sewer, 16 (61%) opposed and 2 had no opinion.

The total length of the proposed sewer line is about 1.7 km. It snakes through a typical Coldstream landscape: residences interspersed with agricultural land and agricultural activities. The true rural living.

There were omissions from the engineers report.

First and foremost, having this new line constructed will put a tremendous pressure on future Councils to consider further developments. It’s the proverbial “foot-in-the-door”. I know there are people who think we need more and more development within our agricultural heartland. I am not one of them.

So far increased development never reduced my taxes and service fees. They keep going up with no appreciable improvement in service. Just consider the water situation: over 130% increase in water rates in the last six years and, except for a few homes, there is no improvement in water quality and more and more restrictions on consumption.

The report by our engineer also indicated the need for the replacement of the trunk sewer line from McClounie Drive to Alpine Centre. This line is only thirty years old. The only reason it needs to be replaced is growth. Yet the staff proposal before Council is to have those sewer customers who paid for the construction of the original line to save up in a reserve account 50% of the cost of replacing the relatively new line. There is something wrong with this kind of mentality. Perhaps the fact that the majority of staff and Council does not pay those costs is a factor in considering these proposals.

We still have not resolved the problems created by the gifting of a new sewer trunk line to Coldstream Meadows. Staff and Council is in a real conundrum over this issue and adding to this mess is totally unfair for the next and subsequent Councils. The present Council inherited the difficulties from the previous one, thus, they should understand the unfairness of passing on a new set of troubles to future Councils. The financial implications are mind boggling. They only have five months left to resolve those issues, November is election time!

Then there are the physical problems. An oversized pipeline, 1.7 km long with only a small volume of sewage flowing in it will have the same problem as the City of Vernon has in the Landing area. There is not enough sewage to facilitate adequate flows and frequent flushing with fresh (expensive) water is required to reduce odour problems. I believe this problem is also surfacing with the trunk line from Mackie Drive to McClounie Road.

Let’s not forget the cost of maintenance of these sewer lines. Regardless of how many people are connected to the line it has to be maintained. Proposal before Council requires that all properties fronting sewer lines pay for maintenance. This fee is proposed to be $320 annually and you pay it even if you are not connected. There will be some angry residents addressing Council when they realize this onerous new fee.

The parallels are interesting. Previous Council made its fateful decision to rob sewer customers of their reserves during their last meeting before the election. By the time this mess is finalized we will be on the verge of new elections. Let the new guys and gals worry about the mess left behind!

The over emphasized problem of working in another Municipality could be resolved by willing partners. The City will need to increase capacity of their line from 15th Street on in the future as they also grow. An amicable agreement could be reached with shared costs. Of course, it is a bit more work for staff but that is why they draw their comfortable wages.

As for the need for this development: if the developer believes he can make a go of it and the people generally do not object its OK. However, I have a couple of questions on the statistics.

The developer predicts 24% growth in the next 10 years. Statistics Canada reports 18% growth for Coldstream from 1991 to 2006, an annual rate of 1.2%. Closer to today, growth from 2001 to 2006 was 4%, or 0.8% annually. Can we really expect a three fold jump in growth rate in the next 10 years? What would be the consequences if that happens for service provision and costs of those services? Just some questions to think about.

The Bylaw had three readings now. Council can still stop final adoption if they receive enough opposition from residents. Don’t forget, most of them want to be reelected. However, it appears that except for Councillors Garlick and Firman, the present Council gives little consideration for the maintenance of Coldstream’s historic character.

If you are interested in upholding the OCP you should inform members of Council while you still can. Write, phone, email Council even if you disagree with me. They ought to know if there is support for their stance as well. Inform your neighbours who may not be aware of what is happening. Some of your neighbours are not aware of this blog and the information it provides. Give them a chance for voicing their opinions.

Consider this: a property valued at $450,000 pays Coldstream $715 in taxes. At the same time this property pays $568 in sewer fees regardless of the size of the family occupying the home. Do you consider this reasonable? Yet the proposals before Council will guarantee continued increases on these ridiculous rates.

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Coldstream Ratepayers News! All Coldstream residents are ratepayers!

The opinions expressed by "Coldstreamer" are strictly his own and do not represent the opinions of Coldstream Council!

Because I value your thoughtful opinions, I encourage you to add a comment to this discussion. Don't be offended if I edit your comments for clarity or to keep out questionable matters, however, and I may even delete off-topic comments.

Gyula Kiss
coldstreamer@shaw.ca;

***Coldstreamernews***

***Coldstreamernews***
We must protect our rights and freedom! (Photo courtesy of D. Gibson) Click on eagle to watch EAGLECAMS

About Me

My photo
I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.