Sunday, August 31, 2008

What happened to our open and responsive Council?

Administration's response to CRPA's request to present the resolutions arising from the Town Hall meeting is puzzling.
"Given that the resolutions to which you refer are directly related to the dismissal of the Fire Chief, we are not able to grant your request to appear as a delegation. Personnel issues are reserved for In-Camera meetings of Council."
No question, their meeting was in-camera and we understand that they cannot discuss it in public. Our resolutions were passed at an open meeting and the president was only going to pass them on to Council.

Council had three options. They could have received and filed them, they could have dealt with them in camera or they could have ignored them as per usual. Nevertheless, hearing the presentation would not have broken confidentiality. This was just another poor decision by Administration just like the refusal of my request to have the Auditor present for questioning him regarding the budgetary process.

Open and responsive Council we do not have in Coldstream. Administration is not working for the majority of taxpayers. Do they forget who is paying their wages?


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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Readers write.

Since council has thwarted any appeal from our community to reconsider their decision to fire our fire chief I wish to inform your readership by way of this letter to the editor.

Coldstream council and city hall appear to be hiding behind legalistic barricades and closed doors in an attempt to avoid giving the residents of Coldstream an explanation or justification for the “letting go” [Malerby] of our Fire Chief. They are muzzling our volunteer firemen, risking a mass resignation of our volunteer firemen [in protest, of their mistreatment] , thereby putting the residents of Coldstream at personal and property risk,thus forcing the taxpayers of Coldstream to pay for a whole new and very expensive professional fire department. If, as rumor has it, this whole disgraceful and unnecessary crises was generated because of a personal disagreement between the Fire Chief and Chief Administrator about some of the building details of the new fire halls, then the whole community is going to pay the price for administrative mismanagement at city hall. If city hall wanted to do some cost cutting they should have focused on the recent sewer and paving fiasco in front of the fire hall,as an example of costly overruns. Clearly city hall is out of control and also badly run.

It appears to me city councilors take their orders from the city administrator, who in effect is singlehandedly running the corporation of Coldstream. City council,our board of directors, are not exercising their responsibility to protect the shareholders[ratepayers] from corporate mismanagement. If I were forced to choice between either the fire chief or the chief administrator, I would keep the fire chief. No doubt the chief clerk, taking in a handsome salary of over $100,000 a year, has herself covered by a generous employment contract in case of summary dismissal but that certainly is not a perk applying to our dismissed Fire Chief ,who has put 25 years of service to the community. One can only conclude that city hall does not wish to have a volunteer fire department and have deliberately generated this crises so they can set up a professional fire department which is totally under their control.

Perhaps after the upcoming municipal elections the voters will fire the deadbeats in our present council and elect a stronger more responsible council, which, as their fire order of business, is to reinstate the current fire chief, increase the remuneration for our volunteer fire fighters and give the chief clerk and associated hangers on, their walking papers. In the final analysis it may pay the community to rid themselves of an bloated administration and its tyrannical chief bureaucrat. Think of the money we could save by the lowering our taxes. The last two councils will go down in Coldstream history as the ones which put the people of Coldstream under a huge burden of debt!

Please be advised that the opinions expressed in this column are my own and are in no way connected to views held by the Coldstream Ratepayers Association.

Peter Peto

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Ratepayers request to appear before Council is denied.

Dear Mr. Heeren, Thank you for your email. Delegations are limited to 10 minutes each. Given that the resolutions to which you refer are directly related to the dismissal of the Fire Chief, we are not able to grant your request to appear as a delegation. Personnel issues are reserved for In-Camera meetings of Council.

You are welcome to formally write Council in respect of the resolutions passed by the Rate Payers Association; your letter will be discussed at an In-Camera Meeting of Council.

Sincerely,

Keri-Ann Baggett
Municipal Clerk
District Of Coldstream
Ph. 250-550-1528

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Are we living in a democracy in Coldstream?

A Coldstream taxpayer informed me that he was refused the right to be included in the agenda of the next Council meeting so he could address Council on the issue of the dismissal of the fire chief. This presentation has nothing to do with the presentation planned by the president of the Coldstream Ratepayers Association.

The action of the Mayor and Administration who are responsible for the preparation of the agenda is quite disturbing. It follows the rejection of my request to address Council regarding the request for the appearance of the Auditor for questioning.

The taxpayer in question did not attend the in-camera meeting where the dismissal of the chief was debated. He has every right to express his opinion on the matter and Council can just ignore his presentation as they often do with presentations with which they feel uncomfortable.

It appears this Council is getting more autocratic by the day and this is quite disturbing in a democratic society.

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Brief biography of Steve Heeren, new President of the Coldstream Ratepayers Association.

I was born and raised in the United States and first came to Canada in 1961 to obtain a Master's degree in Psychology. I returned to the United States to earn a Ph.D. (again in psychology) and became a permanent resident (and later - citizen) of Canada in 1968 when I began my teaching career at the University of Regina. After 27 years of university teaching, I took early retirement and moved to Coldstream, owning a residence here since 1991 and taking up permanent residence myself in 1995.

In the late 1990s I served a two-year term on the Advisory Planning Committee of the District of Coldstream. I also attended public meetings (for example, one organized by Urban Systems Ltd. of Kelowna) which were concerned with the future of Coldstream and the underlying issue, as many members of the public saw it, of unhampered development here.

When the issue of a sports complex on Aberdeen Road was being proposed, I realized that I needed to take a more active role in protecting the quality of life that so many of us enjoy. "Nulli secundus." It was at that point that I joined the Coldstream Ratepayers Association, which is the only grass-roots organization trying to give voice to issues that concern the public. I'm looking forward to doing my utmost to protect a way of life which could easily disappear unless we are vigilant. I was elected President of CRA at our meeting of August 21, 2008.

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Let's welcome the new president of the Coldstream Ratepayers Association and wish him much success during his term as President!

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A suggestion to the Prime Minister.

Canada now has a legislated set date for federal elections. However, Prime Minister Steven Harper is ready to pull the plug on the present legislation in advance of the set date. His reason: the opposition parties make it impossible to govern.

Interestingly, the Prime Minister believes that the results of a new election will again produce a minority government.

My question is this: why go into an expensive election process that will produce the same results? Does that make sense to anyone?

Proposed solution: get the Governor General to request an opposition party (i.e. the Liberals) to form a minority government and see if they could govern. If they fail the option of a new election will still be available.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mayor welcomes reservoir decision -- by Richard Rolke

Published: August 28, 2008 6:00 PM

Victoria has backed off any immediate plans to sell property around high-elevation reservoir lakes.

The provincial government has placed a decision on Okanagan reservoir lake lots on hold for two years so consultation can take place with local communities and First Nations.

“It’s very positive,” said James Baker, Lake Country mayor.

Baker has been concerned the sale of Crown lease lots would lead to urbanized development, impacting water quality for communities that depend on the reservoirs.

There has also been the issue of water quantity.

“We have no place else to store water in the uplands. If there is development, it would be difficult to increase storage,” said Baker.

Besides the District of Lake Country, the Greater Vernon Services Committee and the North Okanagan Regional District have been opposed to the sale of reservoir lots.

“The province is aware of the pressure on the water sources in the Okanagan and as such no decision will be made until communities are able to complete the necessary hydrology studies,” states the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands in a release.

“The studies will help determine future storage needs and capacity, and are expected to take approximately two years to complete. During this two-year period critical information will be compiled on the state of the water sources in the Okanagan.”

The ministry indicates that it is committed to making an informed, balanced decision regarding the possible sale of recreational properties on reservoirs.

“During the next two years the province will continue to work with local elected officials and First Nations to ensure any new information about the potential impact sales may have on water quality, and the ability to expand the reservoirs, is reviewed.”

Baker insists that Okanagan communities should have been consulted on the matter some time ago, and he supports the process being expanded to include First Nations.

“We respect the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s title rights and those of the Okanagan Indian Band, and the watersheds are part of their rights and title lands,” he said.

“How can we do anything unless we involve them?”

Baker isn’t sure why the provincial government would expand public access to watersheds when other regions in B.C. have been allowed to follow a different direction.

“The City of Victoria has closed its watershed and Vancouver’s watershed has been closed for years. There must be some merit to it,” he said.

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Plant closure could bump tax bill -- Kiss FM News

Raise taxes or cut services.

That's the dilemma the new Coldstream Council will be facing next year due to the pending closure of the Owens Illinois glass plant in Lavington.

Financial director Catherine Lord says the shut down will result in up to 200-thousand dollars in lost taxes and energy fees to the municipality.

Lord says a four percent tax hike would be needed, to make up the shortfall.

The plant will close October 31, putting 300 employees out of work.

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I would not give up so easily on the potential tax revenues from the valuable properties owned by the glass plant.

Let me elaborate.

The assessment of the property will be done by BC Assessment. We can't control what assessment will be. When I get further information on that I will reveal it here. In the meantime consider this.

The North Okanagan is woefully short of heavy industrial land. These properties (I believe there are three lots) are classified industrial. Closing the plant is not going to change that zoning. It is Council that controls zoning and as long as there is demand for industrial land that zoning should remain. The owner is moving out but the land and buildings will stay.

If you moved out of your home and it would remain empty for a period of time would that reduce your taxes? I would hardly think so. So why would the fact that the owners of the glass plant should pay no taxes on their high valued property just because they left the premises?

The next Council should do everything in its power to maintain the value of this property and maintain the zoning. It would benefit the owners as well when they wish to market their property for maximum revenue.

I don't think we should have a requiem for Coldstream yet. Let's stay positive and hope that the next Council will think outside the box and revitalize that valuable piece of property.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Green Party urges government review and changes for Canadian Food System

For Immediate Release
August 27, 2008


MARGAREE – The Green Party is sounding alarm bells over the recent outbreak of Listeriosis, saying the recent deaths due to the Listeria bacteria should be a sufficient warming for Health Minister Tony Clement and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz to review the Canadian food safety regulations.

“In 1996, the Liberal government moved food safety out of Health Canada’s mandate,” said Green Party leader Elizabeth May. “Food safety was handed over to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) while the Agency was also made responsible for promoting Agri-Foods. The end result is that safety regulations are now designed for a global food system, not a more sustainable local food system. The global food system is rife with dangers due the long distances food travels, the impossibility of controlling food regulations and practices around the world and the long shelf life that is expected of food these days."

Green Party Industry and Business critic Huguette Allen, candidate in Okanagan—Shuswap, has actively campaigned against new meat inspection regulations in British Columbia that harm smaller and family farms.

"Many regions of Canada have excellent local food economies but are hindered because small family farms are expected to adhere to the same safety standards as food that is transported all over the globe. Yet we know from common sense as well as experience, that no matter what standards we impose of global foods, safety issues persist. When outbreaks occur, repercussions are inevitable."

Ms. Allen pointed out that the Harper government says Canadian food distribution system is not 100 percent safe and that "food poisoning and bacteria outbreaks will occur from time to time”, yet the government makes it illegal for Canadian family farms in most provinces to sell poultry and meat raised and processed on the farm.

Consistent with its privatization agenda, the Harper government has announced that as of October 2008, it will no longer inspect federally inspected slaughterhouses (sic) but will require these companies report on themselves.

“The Green Party opposes this move and urges the government to review the Canadian food system and safety regulations in their entirety and to put food safety back into the hands of Health Canada,” said Ms. Allen. “The CFIA should be given the responsibility for local food economies rather than Agri-food/global food economies.”

-30-
Contact:
Camille Labchuk
Press Secretary
613-562-4916 ext. 244
clabchuk@greenparty.ca
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Coldstream braces for big financial hit -- By Jennifer Smith

Published: August 26, 2008 7:00 PM

The closure of Lavington’s glass plant is sending a ripple effect through the region.

On top of the 300 employees who will be out of work when the plant, owned by Owens-Illinois, shuts down Oct. 31, the entire region will be impacted.

The District of Coldstream will be particularly effected, since the plant has been a major industry in the community since it opened in 1969.

The plant represents approximately six per cent of Coldstream’s total taxes. When the plant closes, Coldstream will then lose tax revenue in the range of $150,000.

To make up for that shortfall, Coldstream taxpayers could be on the hook for a four per cent tax increase for 2009.

“We’d have to increase the taxes or find the money somewhere else,” said Catherine Lord, Coldstream’s director of financial administration.

Part of the financial loss comes from the fact that if the plant property is sold, the tax classification will change. It will go from the highest tax bracket of major industry to light industry or commercial.

“Rates for both of these classes are about the same, but they are only about 35 per cent of the major industrial rate,” said Lord.

But the loss doesn’t stop there.

With Terasen Gas and B.C. Hydro paying the district for usage in the community, there will also be a loss there depending on how much gas or power the glass plant uses.

Lord is trying to round up more information on these aspects to come up with some firm numbers.

She estimates that the overall financial impact will be significant.

“By the time it all falls out, it’s going to be around $150,000 to $200,000,” said Lord, adding that there is also direct impact on those residents who work at the plant and their families.

A report is expected to be brought forward to Coldstream’s Sept. 8 council meeting.

While Coldstream residents are going to feel the greatest impact, the plant closure effect extends beyond the district’s boundary.

“It’s going to be felt throughout the region,” said Lord.

“This is just Coldstream’s taxes, but Coldstream collects taxes for the regional district, the library, the schools.”

Vernon city council is also worried about the financial implications of the glass plant’s closure as many of the employees either live in the city or shop in that community.

“The loss of 300 well-paying jobs is devastating to Coldstream and Greater Vernon,” said Coun. Barry Beardsell.

“We are in rough economic times. It will hurt this economy.”

Beardsell is warning his colleagues that the plant closure could impact the city’s finances and that should be considered when developing the 2009 budget.

“We had better pull our horns in because that loss will hurt real estate and businesses,” he said.

Owens-Illinois announced a permanent closure of the plant Friday, which comes into effect Oct. 31.

The closure was driven by the company’s ongoing global asset utilization process, which identified an opportunity to shift production to other, more efficient O-I North American facilities.

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A waste of money -- By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star


Published: August 26, 2008 7:00 PM

Last week, I opened the mail box and found a brochure with the pictures of a tank and a soldier on the front, as well as the words They Protect Us.

But it's what was inside that really caught me off-guard. There was a phoney ballot asking me to vote on which national political leader supports Canada's troops the best. And at the bottom was the smiling face of our MP, Colin Mayes.

I was surprised because the one-page-two-sided brochure was such a dramatic departure from what Mayes usually mails me. Instead of updates on issues he is pursuing on behalf of constituents or how he appeared in the Lumby parade, this latest offering was blatantly partisan. Ultimately, I was left wondering who paid for it?

During an interview Tuesday, Mayes confirmed the brochure was part of a taxpayer-funded program available to all federal politicians.

"All parties have the option of doing this. Every party does this," he said.

Mayes has brochures with about 12 different topics in circulation, and besides the military, some of them deal with gun control and crime. Other potential issues were apparently ignored.

"Some were too political for me. I don't like bashing other parties," he said.

Mayes' office picked up the costs of printing while the postage was covered by Parliament. About 60,000 were printed for Okanagan-Shuswap at a cost of less than $10,000, according to Mayes, who insists that this is an acceptable use of public funding.

"It's appropriate to get our message out and show what our government is doing," he said.

And that is where I take issue with Mayes.

There is of course nothing wrong with the Conservative Party promoting itself and trying to garner the support of Canadians, but to do it under the guise of correspondence between an MP and his constituents is questionable.

And for Mayes to brush the issue off by saying every party does this is absolutely laughable. Keeping with that schoolyard logic, would Mayes thrust himself off a cliff if Jack Layton or Stephane Dion had done so?

Just because the other parties are willing to slurp from the public trough doesn't mean the Conservatives have to.

In fact, wasn't it Stephen Harper and his gang that promised to manage our dollars more wisely and to get away from the political games of the past?

Mayes also appears to be out of touch when he explains that his office paid for printing while the bill for postage was handled by Parliament. That's all well and good, but both places get their cash from the same source — the taxpayer.

Mayes also insists that he doesn't like to bash other political parties, but you'd never know it by looking at the brochure I got in the mail. All of the federal leaders are pictured, but an arrow encourages readers to select Harper as the great defender of the troops. Elsewhere in the brochure, there are phrases like We Will Protect Them and Real Action, Real Results. It's nothing but shameless campaigning, and Mayes can't hide that fact.

In the end, a federal election could be called any day now so obviously all of the parties are trying to get their message out. After all, that is how democracy works in this country.

But if the Conservatives are so proud of their track record in government, they should be willing to foot the bill for the propaganda machine instead of placing it on the backs of taxpayers.

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Employees left reeling over plant closure -- by Roger Knox.

Published: August 26, 2008 7:00 PM

Gene Wirch was direct when asked for a general reaction to Friday’s announcement of the impending closure of the Owens-Illinois Incorporated (O-I) glass container plant in Lavington.

“It sucks, how’s that?” said Wirch, business representative for Teamsters Local 213, the union that covers the majority of close to 300 non-management and non-supervisor workers at the Lavington plant.

Employees found out Friday the parent company plans a complete and permanent shutdown of the facility by Oct. 31.

Company president Scott Murchison said the decision to close the Lavington plant was made to shift production to other O-I North American facilities to help lower energy and production costs for the company.

“There was no indication (of a shutdown),” said Wirch.

“You may have seen some signs, but there was nothing to suggest this was going to happen.”

Wirch said he had not talked directly with anyone from O-I’s Ohio-based offices in regards to the announcement.

The Lavington facility is the third such plant in Canada that O-I has announced it will be closing in the fall.

The others are located in Toronto and New Brunswick.

“They bought the Canadian plants, got as much out of them as they possibly could to a point where they would have to put those investments back into them,” said Wirch, adding that no capital investments had been made into the Lavington operation on such items as machinery.

“Obviously, with those plants, they had no intention of putting any capital costs back into them.”

Asked what the union can do for the employees now facing unemployment, Wirch said a lot is unknown at this time.

“The company, as far as their obligations, have no choice in some situations, but in others they may have some choice if they want to do the right thing by the employers,” he said.

“There have been no discussions with the company at this point.”

O-I’s practice for any type of plant shutdown or layoff is to work with the union and appropriate government officials to deal with necessary plant closure issues.

“We work to provide services that will be aimed at helping any displaced employees secure new employment,” said Lauren Dubilzig, from O-I’s corporate communications office in Perrysburg, Ohio.

“That employment could be both internal and external.”

Dubilzig said Lavington employees will be encouraged to apply for jobs at other facilities.

“Depending on the availability at those facilities, and their skills, they may be able to transfer,” she said.

Dubilzig confirmed Monday employees will be getting a severance package, but would not go into specific details about the packages.

“We do keep those details confidential between employees and the company,” she said.

O-I owns the plant and plans to sell it. Dubilzig could not say if there were any interested buyers at this point.

How the closing of the Lavington glass plant will affect taxation.


Closing the Lavington glass plant is a major disaster for employees of the plant. Seeing their livelihood disappear is like loosing part of their life and I am truly sorry for them. This is a major problem with foreign ownership where only the money count not the people.

However, the consequences of the plant closure will probably not have as great an effect on the Municipality as some people expect. The zoning of the property will remain Major Industry and will be assessed as such. The value might be reduced somewhat but major industrial sites are very much coveted. Thus, municipal taxes, NORD taxes and school taxes might be somewhat lesser but will not disappear entirely. The sky is falling for the employees but not necessarily for taxes.


I might be able to provide somewhat better information next week when the assessor in charge of industrial assessment will return from his holidays.

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Vernon hospital crunch



Vernon Jubilee Hospital overcrowding appears to be getting worse.

Full story on CHBC News

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Monday, August 25, 2008

KISSFM poll re: Coldstream fire chief.

Monday, August 25, 2008

New Poll at 107.5 KISSFM (Results as of 11 AM)

075kiss.com
Should Coldstream go public with the reasons behind the dismissal of its long time fire chief? [34 votes total]

Yes (28) 82%
No (6) 18%



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Do members of Council read this blog?


Apparently some council members do read this blog. The two negative votes on the reinstatement of the fire chief seems to indicate that at least two of them do so. Councillor Firman does not have internet so he probably does not read it. All others have email addresses so they likely check it out periodically.

Any message you'd like to send them would likely be read by at least some of them.



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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Old bridge, new worry -- Vernon Edition, Daily Courier.

By Don Plant
Sunday, August 24, 2008

The old floating bridge isn‘t heading to Davy Jones‘s locker just yet.

The contractor charged with disposing of the 12 pontoons and two lift-span piers has agreed to conduct more tests of the sediments at the bottom of Okanagan Lake.

SNC Lavalin has applied to sink the 11,000 cubic metres of concrete, but wants a better understanding of what‘s at the bottom of the lake in case the Valley‘s drinking water becomes tainted.

“We‘ll take more samples from the bottom of the lake. They‘ll be analyzed in the lab and the composition of the elements will be assessed,” said Jon Buckle, the Transportation Ministry‘s director of the Bennett Bridge project.

“We want to … give assurances that the ultimate decision is made with the right information in hand.”

Samples taken from two potential dump sites in deep areas of the lake show levels of arsenic, chromium and nickel on the bottom that are above Canadian sediment-quality guidelines.

People opposed to using the lake as a trash pit say sediments stirred up by the weight of the old bridge – 5,000 tons per pontoon – could enter municipal water intakes and affect human health. Richard Drinnan, a retired ecologist in Kelowna, has been lobbying government officials to scrap the plan.

“People who use water from the lake should have some concern about the impact the disposal could have on their health as a result of these metals and other contaminants entering their water system,” he said.

“You need more samples to get a better picture of what‘s down there.”

Drinnan and Kelowna lawyer Glenn Einfeld met with Buckle, project manager Tom Tasaka and an Environment Ministry official late last week. Drinnan told them consultants have “scratched the surface” in their studies so far. He even suggested a company that assessed the environmental impact of sinking the pontoons may be biased because it‘s a partner in the lake disposal.

Drinnan wants scientists to analyze the chemicals in the 50-year-old concrete to ensure they‘re not harmful. He told the officials that modeling tests are needed to predict how sediments would circulate in the lake once the pontoons hit bottom.

Buckle said drinking water comes in contact with concrete in most water systems, but said “to satisfy the concern, we‘re willing to do testing of concrete from the old pontoons.” He also agreed “we could drop an object on the bottom in a deep location and monitor what the effect is.”

Interior Health wrote a report in June saying the possible dump sites off Trader‘s Cove and the District of Westside appear to be at least a kilometre away and 120 metres below the nearest drinking-water intakes.

Still, the health authority asked the Transportation Ministry and SNC Lavalin to
notify water users before the pontoons are sunk, monitor the lake‘s turbidity (cloudiness) once they hit bottom and issue an advisory if water quality may be affected.

Interior Health wrote its report six weeks before consultant D.B. Technical Services found the higher levels of arsenic, chromium and nickel in its two sediment samples.

“They didn‘t know anything about the metals in the sediments, and they have no idea how much sediment will be disturbed and recycled,” Drinnan said. “They need to do a health-risk assessment.”

The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) examined how the bridge sinking will affect fish in the lake. It authorized sinking the pontoons in exchange for improvements to fish habitat to compensate for the damage caused by building the new bridge and dumping the old one.

Crews must build new fish-rearing areas along the old and new bridge causeways. The Transportation Ministry must spend $150,000 on restoring habitat for spawning trout and kokanee along Mission Creek.

Yet federal authorities haven‘t done their job, said Einfeld, because no one is examining the potential impact on human health. He‘s concerned project officials may have breached the Canada Water Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

“SNC Lavalin is between a rock and a hard place. They have a contract and they assumed an easy disposal,” he said. “Over a million pounds of product will hit the bottom of the lake … They don‘t know what will be disturbed down there.”

The contractor wants to sink the pontoons by November so winter storms don‘t sink them where they are or knock them into the new bridge, said Buckle. Anchors holding the new bridge in place are also securing the old bridge at the south side, he said. “We don‘t want to see another six-month season of winter storms with that arrangement.”

Consultants have conducted “quick-and-dirty” studies because they‘re under a tight deadline, said Drinnan. The contractor and Transportation Ministry can only take direction from provincial environment officials on how to protect lake-water quality, said Buckle. “We‘ll (wait for) what the Environment Ministry tells us. The ministry doesn‘t see anything of concern right now.”

Buckle hopes to complete the new studies in the next two to three weeks. Assuming they get approval, crews would likely sink most of the pontoons in the lake‘s northern dump site, where the bottom is deeper than 150 metres, he said.
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Another example of how important it is to consider all consequences of even an apparently simple operation.

Some years ago the Ministry of Environment (an oxymoron), NORD, Coldstream and Vernon agreed to apply 24-D, herbicide to kill milfoil, in Kalamalka Lake. Environmentalists opposed the application and it was a cat-and-mouse game as the Ministry people tried to sneak ahead of the demonstrators who attempted to stop the procedure.

Eventually the Ministry succeeded and applied the herbicides. Coldstream was not allowed to use its water intake until the residues reached a certain level expected to take one to two weeks. It actually took about three months before the water intake could be used again. In the meantime residents had to use VID water. Murphy's Law!
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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Selected articles MS -- 2008-08-24

Citizens demand chief's reinstatement.
















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The immortal words of Councillor Malerby.


It appears that we were all wrong when we believed the fire chief was fired. At Thursday's meeting we learned what really happened. Councillor Malerby explained: "He was not fired, he was ... let go!" (click on reference)

I guess some of us did not know the nuances between being fired and being let go! My apologies to Councillor Malerby!

While no information is released it is quite apparent that Leo's criticism of the lack of consultation with the firemen about changes in the construction of the fire hall caused him to be "let go".

Whatever the terminology, Leo Lecavalier is no longer the chief. If you think he should be reinstated you have an opportunity to voice your opinion by voting on the right hand side of this blog.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

CHBC News.

http://chbcnews.ca/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=16494

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Lavington Bottle Plant Announces Closure... Owens-Illinois closes B.C. facility; 3rd Canadian plant closure this year

The world's largest glass bottle maker says it will soon close its B.C. facility, making it the company's third plant closure in Canada this year. Owens-Illinois Inc. said it will shut its bottle-making plant in Lavington, B.C., by the end of October, putting 300 people out of work. The Ohio-based company said the closure was necessary as Owens-Illinois works to rationalize its North American business and cut costs. "This closing was driven by our ongoing global asset utilization process which identified the opportunity to shift our production to other North American facilities, resulting in lower energy consumption and production costs," said Scott Murchison, president of Owens-Illinois's North America glass containers business. Lavington is a small community in the B.C. Interior, north of Kelowna. The shuttering of the plant marks the second closing of an Owens-Illinois facility in Canada in the past four weeks, and the third this year. At the end of July, the company said it would close its Toronto facility by the end of September. That move will result in the loss of 430 jobs. In addition, in January, Owens-Illinois shut a bottle-making plant in Scoudouc, N.B.

The company said it will offer assistance to the Lavington employees in finding new work. Owens-Illinois posted revenue of $2.2 billion US in the second quarter of the year with a profit of $227.5 million. The company has approximately 24,000 workers and 82 facilities around the world.

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Starlee Speers Astral Media Radio (Vernon)

Three hundred workers at a Lavington glass container plant were told the plant would close in October as the US company streamlines operations. Coldstream Mayor Gary Corner says, there's not much the municipality can do but he's hopeful the company, Owens-Illinois will keep their word and help the workers find new jobs."It's not nice news at all, I feel very very bad for the people working there." In July the company blamed the high Canadian dollar, soaring energy prices and an anti-glass policy at Ontario's liquor control agency for the closure of the Toronto plant. Employees at O I Canada Corp in Lavington were told Friday morning the plant would close October 31st with existing production to be transferred to other plants.

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Morning Star

A major North Okanagan employer is shutting down operations permanently. Owens-Illinois Incorporated announced Friday it will shut down its glass container plant in Lavington on Oct. 31. One furnace will be shut down by Sept. 30, and the other by Halloween. The move will put 300 people out of work, but the company says it will provide assistance to its employees seeking new jobs. Scott Murchison, president of the Perrysburg, Ohio-based company, said the reason for the shutdown was a result of the company’s ongoing review of its “global manufacturing footprint.” Existing production from the Lavington glass plant, which opened as Consumer’s Glass in September, 1969, will be transferred to other O-I facilities. See Sunday’s Morning Star for details and reaction of the closure.

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The potential cost of insanity to Coldstream taxpayers.

Breaking up a functional, well managed fire department has huge costs. To measure the magnitude of the costs to taxpayers I have made some inquiries to a home insurance agent. These are the facts collected.

An average home valued at $240,000 was used for comparison. The annual cost of fire insurance for such home is as follows:
Fully protected community annual insurance rate:--->$687.00
Semi protected community annual insurance rate: ->$1,400.00
Unprotected community annual insurance rate:---->$3,000.00+
Should our volunteer firemen decide that their services are not appreciated and resign those are the kind of rates residents of Coldstream would face. Did Council and Administration investigate the consequences of their foolish (or insane) action? Probably not or they likely would not have acted the way they did.

The alternative would not be much cheaper. Hiring a full time brigade of firemen would cost likely about $1.5 million annually. Presently 1% tax increase equates to about $30,000, thus $1.5 million additional expenditure for fire protection would amount to about a 50% tax increase.

Full time firemen would also require additional accommodations in the fire halls. we are in the process of completing two brand new fire halls. Updating those to the new requirements would cost further $$$$.

Those new firemen would have to be found or trained. They would be fully unionized where controls would be even more restricted than what it is with volunteers.

Should I go on? I think you all got the picture. Contact your council members and try to talk some sense into them. Good luck or open your valets!

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Science fiction or the future?

An interesting item I found.

http://cc.pubco.net/www.valcent.net/i/misc/Vertigro/Vertigro.mov

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Coldstream Town Hall meeting -- August 21, 2008.



Over 150 taxpayers attended last night’s town hall meeting in support of Leo Lecavalier and the volunteer firemen. They gave up their time to support their fellow citizens, the volunteers who sacrifice so much to ensure our safety. As promised, Councillors Firman and Malerby were also present.

Acting President Gyula Kiss outlined the role of the volunteer firemen in our community and expressed the communities gratitude for their selfless work in providing a service of major proportion to the community. He pointed out the facts that while council might have the right to dismiss the chief, according to the Coldstream Fire Department’s Constitution, membership in the fire department is under the control of the membership and not Council.

Much debate ensued. Councillor Malerby indicated that according to their solicitor. Volunteers are considered employees and must be treated as such. Deciding their termination of employment is council’s prerogative and it must be done in-camera. This statement in my opinion is incorrect as “labour relations or other employee relations” are listed under the “may be closed to the public” section of the Charter.

A number of speakers spoke glowingly of the volunteer firemen, some could barely control their emotions while reflecting on council’s treatment of the volunteers and in particular the treatment of the chief. The community showed a real appreciation of their volunteer fire department. As usual the brave Councillor who elected to attend and speak up bore the brunt of the anger of the participants. (At that time the participants did not even know of the nasty letter Leo got from Coldstream’s solicitor).

The participants passed three resolutions to be presented to Council on September 8:

1. Reinstate the chief with apologies.

2. Explain the reasons for their firing the chief so that his reputation be cleared (at the moment no one knows the actual reason and people might speculate that he did something that could be considered illegal instead of what we assume is a case of infighting between the Administrator and the chief. Due to fact that the issue was in-camera, noone can clarify the facts).

3. The resolution be presented to Council by the President of the CRPA at the September 8th meeting of Council in Lavington.

Those three resolutions passed unanimously.

As a housekeeping action, the new president and vice president of the Association were elected. President is Steve Heeren, Vice President is Peter Peto. Congratulations Steve and Peter.

The meeting adjourned at about 9:00PM.

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Coldstream fight heats up

By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star Published: August 21, 2008

The District of Coldstream is stepping up the pressure on its former fire chief and rank-and-file firefighters.

An Aug. 18 letter from the district’s lawyer to Leo Lecavalier states that his “persistent interaction” with the fire department is putting the department’s constitution at risk, is an interference in the district’s contractual relations with its employees and exposes Lecavalier to legal action.

“Your actions have also exposed these employees to the potential of discipline up to and including their termination of employment for cause,” wrote Veronica Ukrainetz, a Vernon-based labour lawyer.

Lecavalier was fired by council Aug. 1 after nearly 25 years of service, but no details have been released about the dismissal.

The firing comes less than a month after Lecavalier publicly expressed concern about the construction of a new fire hall on Aberdeen Road.

In an Aug. 15 letter to chief administrative officer Wendy Kay, Lecavalier takes issue with his not being able to remain as a member of the volunteer department.

“According to the (department’s) constitution, matters of membership in the fire department are solely within the discretion of the officers of the fire department. In article 13 of the constitution, the fire department’s membership committee and executive committee have been delegated the sole authority to admit new members,” wrote Lecavalier.

“There is no mention of the district’s council, or anyone else at the district, having any role in this regard.”

However, the municipality disagrees with that view.

“The constitution does not take away from the district the authority to manage its fire department employees — which includes the termination of employment of members of the fire department and putting on hold the hiring of new members,” said Ukrainetz.

“While constitutional amendments require a per cent approval of the membership, they also require approval of council. And ultimately, council has the power to do away with the constitution entirely.”

Lecavalier’s legal counsel is not impressed with how the municipality is handling the matter. “It is regrettable that the District of Coldstream has chosen to respond to Leo Lecavalier in the manner of a schoolyard bully rather than with a good faith attempt to resolve the real issues relating to the operations of the fire department,” said Robert Smithson, a Kelowna lawyer.

“The district has shown its colours by denying the governing authority of the fire department’s constitution (a document, it should be noted, to which the district is a signatory). This should serve as an alarm to the paid-on-call firefighters that they now answer to the district’s administrative staff rather than to professionals elected from within their ranks.”

Smithson added that the municipality appears determined to obtain Lecavalier’s co-operation by “holding the prospect of litigation over his head.

“Even worse, the district is effectively holding the fire department’s other officers hostage by stating they may face ‘discipline up to and including their termination of employment, for cause.’ One can only wonder who at the district — mayor, council or administrative staff — authorized this shameful use of intimidation tactics against a long-serving, loyal member of the community.”

Mayor Gary Corner denies that correspondence from the district is threatening.

“The letter just clarifies things,” he said.

Corner also stands behind the view that the municipality has the authority to determine not only who is chief, but who is a member of the fire department.

“They are paid employees, keeping in mind that they volunteer a lot of time. They don’t do it for the money,” he said.

“We’ve met with the fire department and we have agreed to sit down with them and hash it out so it works for everyone.”

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Meantime Coldstream taxpayers will reap the consequences of Council's stupid actions that may lead to hiring a number of of full time, paid firefighters. Who could blame the volunteers if they decided to pack up their gear and return them to Council.

Thanks a lot Council!

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CHBC News.

Coldstream residents might be interested to view the 5PM news on CHBC regarding tonight's town hall meeting.

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Administrator's response to invitation.

Gyula:

I wish to thank you for the personal invitation to attend tonight’s meeting. I would be more than happy to respond to any written questions that may arise out of tonight’s meeting with respect to the Fire Department, but not questions related to the dismissal of Leo Lecavalier. As you are aware, employment matters are dealt with In-Camera by Council, and therefore it would be inappropriate for me to attend a meeting that was called specifically to deal with an employment issue.

Wendy

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A reminder -- Meeting tonight!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Attention, Coldstream residents!

Council's decision to fire Leo Lecavalier, our Fire Chief, after nearly 25 years of meritorious service could have major consequences for the taxpayers of Coldstream.

We do not need to create unnecessary upheavals in the ranks of our volunteer firemen. Council needs to explain their reasons for this action.

We have an efficient group of firemen providing excellent, cost effective fire protection. Our fire insurances are reasonable and the cost of service is minimal compared to that provided by professional fire fighters elsewhere.

We are holding a special meeting on Thursday,

August 21 at 7:00PM in the Coldstream Woman's

Institute Hall where Council will have the

opportunity to explain their actions. All Coldstream

Residents are encouraged to attend and support

our Fire Chief.


Mayor Corner was quoted as saying:
"If they want to meet with me, I'd be quite willing to do it but really it is a staff issue. It's one of Wendy's employees as far as who looks after the staff."
Wendy is actually an employee of Council and indirectly of Coldstream taxpayers. If her actions, sanctioned by Council, create strife among a large group of volunteers then taxpayers deserve an explanation. What is there to hide?

We invite the Mayor, members of Council and the Administrator to our Town Hall meeting to provide them with an opportunity to answer our questions. We also extend our invitation to members of the volunteer fire department so the Mayor may have the opportunity to speak to them in public.

Please come along and bring your friends and neighbours and support the volunteer firemen!

Hope to see you there.

Gyula Kiss
Pres., CRPA

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Councillor Williams replies!

Gyula:

My apologies for not responding sooner. I am unable to attend.

Carol

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Fire Department Constitution --Qualification for membership.

There is no provision for Council to interfere with membership in the in the volunteer fire department. Attached is a copy of Article No 15 - Qualification for membership.

Removal of the fire chief is Council's prerogative. However, there does not seem to be a clause that would disqualify Leo from remaining a member of the Department. Yet he is not allowed to participate in activities at the fire hall.

Wendy Kay implied in today's news article that Leo was fired for openly disagreeing with administration's handling of the fire hall construction (
"A fire department’s opposition to council’s orders is supposed to remain private in Coldstream." Morning Star). That would still not explain how he could be removed from the department.

Answers are needed and fast before the department falls apart in front of our eyes.

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Councillor Malerby responds.


Gyula

Sorry I was out of town till Monday and had 288 e-mails to weed through, so only now getting to yours. I was planning on attending meeting, not that I have anything to say, but to honour Leo’s long term service to the Coldstream.

Mary

Councillor Mary Malerby

District of Coldstream

250-542-9579

Councillor Garlick's message.

Councillor Garlick is vacationing in Europe and was not able to participate in the in-camera session where the decision to dismiss Leo Lecavalier was made. Thus, he is free to make his views on the dismissal public. Here is his email received this morning.
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I am sending you a general comment I have on this situation. I hope it satisfies you for now. Thanks for your interest.

I am very sorry to hear that the majority of council has chosen to dismiss Leo from his position as fire chief. Unfortunately, I was unable to participate in the meeting where the decision was made. I do not know if my presence would have made a difference but I apologize if Leo's dismissal could have been avoided with my input to debate or vote.

I have no problem with Leo's comments. In a democracy people must be allowed to speak out. This includes staff and volunteers. I do not support creating an atmosphere of fear where staff becomes ineffective because they are afraid to speak their mind. Debate is important in any process and helps us in correcting and avoiding mistakes.
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Morning Star Early Edition -- Wednesday, August 20, 2008

All's not well on deck

By Richard Rolke - August 19,2008

I've discovered that the classic story of the doomed passenger liner Titanic is being remade. Some members of Coldstream council will rearrange the deck chairs.

Perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration but if the municipal office was floating around the North Atlantic, the iceberg would be firmly impaled in the floor by now.

I can't remember a time when a municipal council has floundered as much as this one, and it appears like the end will only come in November when voters head to the polls.

The district's troubles really began two years ago when it decided to extend the sewer line up Kalamalka Road at great expense. Rumours continue to abound that council did this to benefit development, and while the politicians have denied that, no logical reason for sewer extension has been given. If it was to benefit the environment, the plan is a failure because few properties have connected. If it was to jumpstart the municipality's town centre plan, it's also failed because the neighbourhood hasn't changed.

The sewer furor was followed in late 2007 with the sports complex debacle.

Granted it was the Greater Vernon Services Committee that proposed the facility on agricultural land, but Coldstream is a member of GVSC and many council members advocated on behalf of the facility.

But even as Mayor Gary Corner and others defended the concept, very little information was given to the public and the fear of the unknown took root. Honestly, how were residents supposed to vote yes when they didn't have some basic questions answered, such as the costs involved with building a facility, and the design.

Of course Coun. Mary Malerby didn't help the situation when she flipped away from her original opposition to the sports complex and flopped towards the land use issue going to referendum. Ultimately, the 64 per cent vote against the complex clearly demonstrated that Malerby, Corner and Councillors Glen Taylor and Carol Williams were out of touch with their constituents.

Williams also found herself the target of negative publicity after she moved out of Coldstream but decided to serve out her term until this November. That didn't go over well with some residents because Williams was voting on matters she wasn't impacted by. There was nothing wrong with what Williams did under provincial law, but the optics were extremely poor.

And while a new year eventually arrived, Coldstream wasn't granted a reprieve from controversy.

There was the nine per cent property tax hike which was chopped back after residents rebelled; Taylor's annual expenses which outpaced those of Vernon's mayor; and a move to extend sewer up Aberdeen Road, reinforcing a perception that development is more important than preserving agricultural land.

But all of those pale compare to council's recent firing of Leo Lecavalier, Coldstream's longtime fire chief.

Lecavalier had been elected to the position by the firefighters, but council decided it could supersede the force and can him. To date, no explanations for the dismissal have been given, and the politicians hide behind closed doors.

It's a situation that's rocked the volunteer fire department to its very core, leaving some members wondering if they should continue to provide an inexpensive service to the community. Residents are also left wondering why a dedicated, tireless volunteer has been sent packing. Once again, many wonder if the bureaucracy is out of touch with reality.

November's civic election is still a ways off and there is time for council members to redeem themselves. And there is also the fact that voters' memory is often short. But if past trends continue, the SS Coldstream could keep sinking fast.

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For additional articles please visit:

Council members no-show for meeting

Councillor Garlic is in Europe so he cannot be at the Townhall meeting.

Departments face changes

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Issues for in-camera meetings.

Some readers might be confused about "in-camera" meetings that are closed to the public. Here are the relevant sections of the Community Charter referencing those meetings for your information.

Note that there are mandatory and there are optional in-camera meetings.

90 (1) lists permissive items that may be in-camera. It is up to Council to decide if they want those items discussed privately. Item (c) (labour relations or other employee relations;) is listed in this section and it would relate to our present issue. Obviously, Council could debate this issue in public if they so desired.

90 (2) lists the mandatory in-camera items. Observe, that there are only 4 items listed that MUST BE debated in private.

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Meetings that may or must be closed to the public

90 (1) A part of a council meeting
may be closed to the public if the subject matter being considered relates to or is one or more of the following:

(a) personal information about an identifiable individual who holds or is being considered for a position as an officer, employee or agent of the municipality or another position appointed by the municipality;

(b) personal information about an identifiable individual who is being considered for a municipal award or honour, or who has offered to provide a gift to the municipality on condition of anonymity;

(c) labour relations or other employee relations;

(d) the security of the property of the municipality;

(e) the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements, if the council considers that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality;

(f) law enforcement, if the council considers that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the conduct of an investigation under or enforcement of an enactment;

(g) litigation or potential litigation affecting the municipality;

(h) an administrative tribunal hearing or potential administrative tribunal hearing affecting the municipality, other than a hearing to be conducted by the council or a delegate of council;

(i) the receipt of advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose;

(j) information that is prohibited, or information that if it were presented in a document would be prohibited, from disclosure under section 21 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act;

(k) negotiations and related discussions respecting the proposed provision of a municipal service that are at their preliminary stages and that, in the view of the council, could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality if they were held in public;

(l) discussions with municipal officers and employees respecting municipal objectives, measures and progress reports for the purposes of preparing an annual report under section 98 [annual municipal report];

(m) a matter that, under another enactment, is such that the public may be excluded from the meeting;

(n) the consideration of whether a council meeting should be closed under a provision of this subsection or subsection (2);

(o) the consideration of whether the authority under section 91 [other persons attending closed meetings] should be exercised in relation to a council meeting.

(2) A part of a council meeting
must be closed to the public if the subject matter being considered relates to one or more of the following:

(a) a request under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, if the council is designated as head of the local public body for the purposes of that Act in relation to the matter;

(b) the consideration of information received and held in confidence relating to negotiations between the municipality and a provincial government or the federal government or both, or between a provincial government or the federal government or both and a third party;

(c) a matter that is being investigated under the Ombudsman Act of which the municipality has been notified under section 14 [ombudsman to notify authority] of that Act;

(d) a matter that, under another enactment, is such that the public must be excluded from the meeting.

(3) If the only subject matter being considered at a council meeting is one or more matters referred to in subsection (1) or (2), the applicable subsection applies to the entire meeting.


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Readers write -- Greg Ockert

Readers of this blog should note that Councilors Taylor and Malerby sit on the Fire Halls Building Committee . One can assume then that they would be the first elected officials to be aware of any issues related to the construction of these 2 fire halls including timeline, costs, and construction screw ups or adjustments. As Chief Administrative Officer, Wendy Kay would be responsible for relating this information to these 2 councilors and Mayor Corner. We can only guess what the Fire Chief was dismissed for, but if it relates to his public criticism of the process of construction and poor liaison with district staff, then these four individuals are the ones to go to for the answers.

Coun. Taylor points out in his reply to the invitation to attend the upcoming meeting (see this blog) that there is “ no change in the operations” and that the “department is business as usual with no financial implications to taxpayers” in the dismissal of the Coldstream Fire Chief. Is this not like saying that we don’t need a Fire Chief (volunteer or paid) nor did we ever? What a bizarre and insulting comment!

Of particular concern to Coldstream voters should be the fact that Coun. Taylor, in bothering to reply, is signaling that he is going to run for Council again; we should then brace ourselves for business as usual in Coldstream (big spending, bad decisions, lack of community consultation, subversion of the OCP , tax hikes and the lingering question of who is actually running the show ).

Greg Ockert

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Councillor Taylor responds.

Gyula

I will not be attending your meeting as I have other commitments, but I would welcome anyone wishing further information regarding fire department operations to call me at 542-7831 Bus or 549-0110 Cell.

I would be happy to talk about the generals issues regarding the fire department. I see no change in the operations and the department is business as usual with no financial implications to the tax payers. However any discussions regarding Mr. Lecavalier's dismissal is a personnel matter and I will not be making any comments.

Regards

Glen Taylor

ps. you may read this out at the meeting and anyone wishing further information can call me.
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It would be interesting to know whether Councillor Taylor had a talk with the members of thew Fire Department and knows first hand that it "
is business as usual with no financial implications to the tax payers." My personal information seems to contradict that statement. I hope Councillor Taylor is right or we might look at some big expenses!

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An ingenious way to reveal Council's in-camera voting pattern.

The Community Charter provides a wide array of issues that could be discussed in-camera. Councillors who do not want to have their opinions revealed to the public on controversial issues prefer in-camera sessions where their opinion can remain private.

That said, there is no reason to keep the result of the voting secret. There is no damage to the public by revealing how an individual member voted. Regardless, Councils like to keep the electorate guessing especially on issues that are controversial and their vote might reduce their chances of re-election.

There is a legal option to force the hands of reluctant Councillors.

A member of Council who voted in the negative can make a motion in an open meeting to release the voting results of an in-camera decision. This motion will require action by the rest of Council.

If the motion is NOT seconded, then chances are that the council members in attendance all voted in support of the in-camera issue. If there is a seconder then one can safely assume that those voting against the release of the voting results have voted in favour of the issue and those supporting the release were voting in the negative. Thus, the voting results become public indirectly.

This is all legal! If Councillor Firman follows through with his promise to bring forth the issue he will be forcing Council to reveal their secret one way or another.

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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.