Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
The Premier’s Excellence Awards — $15,000 cash prizes paid to 16 of B.C.’s top high school graduates on their way to post-secondary study — are among several student aid programs that have fallen victim to provincial government budget cuts. (see article)
Surgical procedures reduced to bare-bones.
Wage freeze for Civil Servants.
The throne speech states, “Government will reduce discretionary spending,” and all health authorities, school boards and Crown corporations will be reviewed “to improve service and lower costs.”
Discretionary spending does not include Olympic related activities. Civil Servants are encouraged to volunteer to work for VANOC (with frozen wages but still paid by the Government).Perhaps we should not complain as we are receiving some crumbs for specified purposes. However, it appears there are more deserving projects available for the $3.5 million. Just my opinion.
The British Columbia government has promised $3.5 million in grants to celebration communities, of which Port Alberni is one, and cities and towns along the Olympic Torch route. The city's size and plans for the relay will determine how much money it will receive. The maximum grant for which Port Alberni is eligible is $30,000. (more).
Grants awardedColdstream and Vernon have received $48,000 in Olympic torch relay community grants.
The money will go towards torch relay events leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver-Whistler.
“It is going to be a great time for celebration,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA.
Among the grants is $40,000 for a winter carnival with First Nations singers and dancers, ice sculptures and a celebration ice palace in Vernon Jan. 26.
There is also $8,000 for a community lunch, the Kalamalka Highlanders and a Kalamalka Secondary band concert in Coldstream Jan. 26.
Friday, August 28, 2009
“The throne speech laid out the daunting challenges our government faces in the wake of the recession,” said George Abbott, Shuswap MLA.
“We’ve already moved to do some belt-tightening. Virtually every revenue stream the government enjoys has been reduced by the recession.”
At the same time the Government is encouraging Civil Servants to volunteer for VANOC at full pay. Why is it that when all sorts of belt-tightenings are announced by the Government we donate free labour to VANOC? Was not the Olympics supposed to create untold riches for all of us British Columbians? Instead it helped create the HSP with significant increases in the average Joe's tax burden.
“I’m encouraged they’ve recognized the importance of affordable housing,” said Buffy Baumbrough, a Vernon city councillor.
I'm afraid "affordable housing" (whatever that may be) is becoming even more of a dream for a large number of British Columbians.
I'll hate to see the final tally of the cost related to the Olympics!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
A former premier is urging rank-and-file British Columbians to rile up in protest over the HST.
Bill Vander Zalm has hit the highways of the province to fight against the harmonized sales tax being implemented by the Liberal government July 1, 2010.
“When 90 per cent of people are against something, how can the government proceed?” said Vander Zalm who will speak at a dinner meeting at Vernon’s Schubert Centre today at 6:30 p.m.
A combined provincial sales tax and federal goods and services tax will result in an additional seven per cent levy on a number of items currently exempt from the PST. The total tax will be 12 per cent.
“I’m against it because it’s been poorly presented. People had been told there wouldn’t be such a tax,” said Vander Zalm of the Liberals’ former policy.
A number of industries, including tourism and restaurants, have expressed concern that the tax will drive customers away and affect their bottom line.
Vander Zalm also suggests that a recession is the wrong time to be increasing taxes.
“People are being asked to cut back and there will be a terrific imposition on people,” he said, adding that the HST transfers money to big business.
“To tax the guy with the lunch box and direct it to business doesn’t make sense.”
And the former Social Credit premier doesn’t believe the argument that the HST only became an issue after the May provincial election.
“To do anything with the federal government takes months,” he said.
“It would have cost them the election so I understand why they didn’t bring it up.”
That is a theory dismissed by Eric Foster, Liberal MLA for Vernon-Monashee.
“It wasn’t on the radar for the minister of finance,” said Foster of the Liberals’ previous opposition to the HST.
But Foster says the situation changed when the federal government eased up on its rules.
“When we learned there was a made-in-B.C. formula, it became more palatable,” said Foster.
Vander Zalm believes there is only one force behind the new levy.
“They need money and they see money coming from the federal government,” he said of the $1.6 billion Ottawa will transfer to B.C. for accepting the HST.
“The Olympics will make the need even greater. There will be a big debt with the Olympics. I’m not against taxes but they need to manage better.”
To purchase tickets for today’s dinner meeting, call 545-4350.
in the fight to stop the H.S.T.
Supper at 6:30pm at the
Schubert Center with Bill to speak and
answer questions afterward.
Tickets $20.00 each.
Please call 250-545-4350.
Everyone welcome at no charge after 7:30pm.
Vernon and District Taxpayers
OF THE DISTRICT OF COLDSTREAM
TO BE HELD ON MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 2009
IN THE COLDSTREAM MUNICIPAL HALL CHAMBERS
9901 KALAMALKA ROAD, COLDSTREAM, BC
A G E N D A
2. RESOLUTION TO ADJOURN TO IN-CAMERA
THAT Council to adjourn to an In-Camera meeting to discuss issues related to the following paragraphs under Section 90(1) of the Community Charter:
(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.
3. BUSINESS ARISING FROM THE IN-CAMERA MEETING
Every third bite of food we consume depends on pollination by bees. But they’re disappearing and no-one seems to know why. Wayne Ellwood looks for clues... more
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Artist's rendering of what the new roof on BC Place, now delayed beyond its original completion date, would look like. (CBC) Artist's rendering of what the new roof on BC Place, now delayed beyond its original completion date, would look like. (CBC)
Completion of the new retractable roof for BC Place stadium is going to be delayed, but officials will not say when the $360-million refit might be finished or explain in detail why the original target date will not be met.... more
August 26, 2009
Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport
Provincial Health Services Authority, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control
Interior Health Authority
“The confirmed case is a Kelowna resident and the suspected second case lives in the same household. Both people had travelled within the central and south Okanagan areas and reported being bitten by mosquitoes,” said Dr. Paul Hasselback, medical health officer with the Interior Health Authority. “Last week, a mosquito pool sample collected from the south Okanagan tested positive for West Nile virus, and this week two more mosquito pool samples from the South Okanagan have tested positive.”
“The lab test results we’ve obtained on the first person are sufficient to confirm West Nile virus,” said Dr. Muhammad Morshed, program head, Zoonotic Diseases and Emerging Pathogens, at the Provincial Health Services Authority Public Health Microbiology and Reference Laboratory at BCCDC. “We are still testing blood drawn from the second individual. Given the context, including mosquito positives from the area, we fully expect this case will be confirmed as well.”
All previously recorded cases of West Nile virus in B.C. have been travel-related, acquired outside the province. B.C. has been anticipating the arrival of West Nile virus for several years, given its spread across Canada and the United States .
“Once again, we would like to reiterate that people can and should take common-sense precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites in the next few weeks, especially when outdoors,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, medical director of the Vector-borne Disease Program at BCCDC, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority. “This includes wearing light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and long pants – especially in the evenings and early mornings when mosquitoes are most active – and using mosquito repellents that are federally registered, such as those that contain DEET and lemon eucalyptus oil.”
Monday, August 24, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
OF THE DISTRICT OF COLDSTREAM
TO BE HELD ON MONDAY, AUGUST 24, 2009
IN THE COLDSTREAM MUNICIPAL HALL CHAMBERS
9901 KALAMALKA ROAD, COLDSTREAM, BC
A G E N D A
Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The NDP has been handed a pot of political gold with Gordon Campbell's broken-promise HST tax grab.
The party's online petition against the 12-per-cent tax has so far attracted 8,300 signatures in five days. Compare that to the 4,000 signatures the party scraped up in opposition to the carbon tax — and that took five months.
Over at Facebook, the NO B.C. HST group has over 26,000 members and counting. Signatures are flowing in to the B.C. Restaurant Association's online petition, too.
How widespread is anger over the HST? Just watch the Global TV Newshour tonight. Sources tell me they have an exclusive opinion poll and the HST opposition is massive. And I mean huge.
Will the government blink? They're nervous, I can tell you that. Watch for them to cut sweetheart deals with a few favoured special-interest groups to ease the HST sting. But the terms of the government's agreement with Ottawa leaves little wriggle room and a total climb-down looks unlikely, despite the summer flames of protest.
The trick for the NDP, of course, will be sustaining that anger through a long Liberal mandate before the next election. But think about this:
The tax doesn't take effect for another year. Parents will be especially choked when the tax comes due on school supplies in the fall of 2010. Imagine a Winter Olympics budget hangover being revealed at the same time people get slammed with an HST the Liberals promised not to introduce during the election.
Throw in a B.C. Rail corruption trial that tips over a stinking hamper of dirty Liberal laundry and you can suddenly imagine anger at the government lasting for quite some time...
UPDATE: The astonishing numbers from the Global TV poll: 85 per cent opposed to the HST, just 12 per cent in favour. Can the government stand firm in the face of that degree of anger, and ram this tax down people's throats in a recession when so many are that furious? They're shaking in their loafers in Victoria!
Hockey legend Ernie “Punch” McLean has lived to tell another tale.
Friends say McLean was found late Thursday walking along an old, unused road after going missing Sunday.
“He’s like the proverbial cat with nine lives,” friend Sherry Wiebe joked. (Click here for the rest of the story).
The Canadian Press
MONTREAL - In a legal showdown against a tax-wary former stripper, it's the Canada Revenue Agency that's been caught with its pants down.
The legal saga over $2 million in undeclared revenue began in storybook fashion at Chez Paree - a pricey Montreal strip club patronized over the years by scores of wealthy executives and visiting athletes, including some very prominent hockey Hall of Famers.
Martine Landry was a dancer at the Montreal institution and was particularly popular with one rich, elderly customer who struck up a relationship with her.
He showered her with gifts over the years worth about $2 million: a Corvette, money to buy a BMW, eight fur coats, jewels, a vacation, cash to buy a big downtown bar and get out of the dancing business, and $168,000 in $1,000 bills for a down payment on a house.
According to a judgment rendered by the Tax Court of Canada, the mystery benefactor, named in court documents as Mr. X, paid Landry largely to keep him company, not to dance.
Montreal's La Presse newspaper identified the man Thursday as Marc-Aime Guerin, owner of a Quebec company that specializes in publishing textbooks.
Landry in turn recounted that she was attracted to his vast knowledge of all things and, over time, the publishing-industry magnate, now 80, began to introduce her to a world she knew nothing of.
What blossomed was an 11-year relationship that quickly took on - according to Landry's court testimony - a "father-daughter" dynamic.
Landry would often accompany her benefactor to the Montreal casino, where he would give her the winnings to deposit in her account.
But eventually her low income statements and sky-high living expenses raised alarm bells at the federal revenue agency.
By this time, Landry had long quit dancing and was the owner of the popular Montreal watering hole Guerin had helped her acquire.
A net-worth audit showed a major discrepancy between revenues evaluated against assets and outgoing expenses, the difference being subject to taxes unless she could prove where the money came from.
And like many Canadians, Landry had a difference of opinion with the federal taxman about how much money she actually owed.
The feds demanded $602,617 in taxes and penalties for the years 1998 to 2002.
But the Tax Court of Canada sided with Landry in a recent judgment. Judge Robert Hogan ruled the gifts could not be taxed.
In Canada, gifts, inheritances, and windfall gains from lotteries or other gambling are not considered taxable.
But tax experts say it's very common for people who frequently receive gifts - exotic dancers being a notable example - to be caught in such a legal quagmire.
Hogan ruled that a more thorough investigation by the CRA would have provided the answers they sought without having to drag the matter to court.
When the CRA began to raise doubts about her lifestyle, Landry sought to protect the name of her wealthy friend and Guerin, for his part, was less than forthcoming in his chats with the taxman.
"After hearing the evidence in its entirety and having heard the testimony of (Guerin), I have to observe that the CRA failed in its obligation to lead a reasonable investigation on the validity of the statements made by the appellant on the subject of (Guerin)," Hogan said.
"If the CRA had pushed further in the investigation with (Guerin), they would have easily been able to find the truth and the existence of gifts."
Landry's lawyer, Yves Ouellette, said in a radio interview he was pleased with the decision.
"In the end, it's a case that's strictly a fiscal case," Ouellette said."
"We tried to explain these differences by the gifts she had received and the money was won at the casino."
But the story's not over. Revenue Quebec still wants $643,000 in taxes and penalties and that case is playing out in a Quebec court. Ouellette hopes the favourable decision will help in the Quebec case.
There's one final order of business in this affair: Landry is now considering a lawsuit against the Canada Revenue Agency.
TORONTO - Environmental activist and former U.S. presidential candidate Ralph Nader is appealing to Ontario's premier to halt construction on site 41, a controversial landfill project.
In a passionate letter to Dalton McGuinty dated today, Nader says he was surprised at the vehement local uproar against the dump being constructed about 40 kilometres northwest of Barrie, Ont.
Nader, who paid a surprise visit to the site last week, asks McGuinty not to rush to ram "putrid waste" atop the Alliston aquifer, which is said to house the most pristine source of groundwater in the world.
McGuinty has stood by the site's construction, saying he believes experts who claim the aquifer won't be contaminated.
Opposition over the site's construction flared this summer after the Ministry of the Environment allowed excavation work to begin in earnest.
Simcoe County says the site is desperately needed since the area has had no local trash disposal options since the 1980s.
Michael Smyth: Only one winner in bet-limit hike Now government can grab 8,300 per cent more from fixed poker
And when those gamblers do plunk down their money at the "Play Now" site — Visa and Interac accepted — they'll find a smiling, friendly face ready and willing to take their loot.
His name is PJ, a "former junior hockey star from Chilliwack" who now works as B.C. Lotteries' animated online poker dealer. The cartoon card-shuffler is one of several animated characters — each with their own name and personal bio — in the "Pacific Hold'Em Poker" game that's been a hit in bars and pubs.
Now the poker game has been introduced to cyberspace — just in time for the 8,300-per-cent increase in online betting limits, from $120 a week — along with other "real-time" gambling games such as bingo, keno and virtual scratch-and-win tickets.
Gaming Minister Rich Coleman, once a fierce opponent of online gambling, said he approved the huge spike in betting limits to try to keep online gamblers closer to home in the cutthroat global market of Internet gambling.
"They [B.C. Lotteries] are competing against sites that are offshore and that are not well regulated," Coleman said yesterday.
"I felt that if there were more people in British Columbia that were making the choice to go offshore into unregulated markets that it would be better for them if they were actually in a regulated market."
Coleman had a very different opinion on the matter back when he was solicitor-general and an anti-gambling crusader.
"Illegal gaming and Internet gaming — those are things we fight to stamp out," he said in 2003. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, eh, Rich?
But don't expect to beat the government's new online poker game. Not even famous Canadian pro Daniel Negreanu, with four World Series of Poker bracelets on his wrist, could beat this B.C. Lotteries money-sucker.
That's because it's not real poker. The cards are not dealt at random, and no amount of poker skill will help you win.
"It's a lottery game with a poker theme," explained B.C. Lotteries spokeswoman Susan Dolinski. "The outcome is predetermined at the outset of each game."
Which is why I laughed out loud when Coleman said yesterday that online gamblers would be better off at the government's Internet site than at one of those sleazy offshore sites such as Party Poker.
B.C. Lotteries will "make sure that they're getting the right odds and the right opportunity with regards to e-gaming," Coleman said.
Not when the outcome of a poker hand is "predetermined," minister. The government's new online poker game is strictly for suckers. Which is obviously why they raised the betting limits, right?
Wrong, insists B.C. Lotteries. "This helps players make responsible choices, so they can set their own limit and play within it," Dolinski said.
The New Democrats are calling the government's bluff. "It's a desperate cash grab," fumed NDP critic Shane Simpson.
No doubt — and a potentially huge one at that. After all, $10,000 a week is $520,000 a year.
So bet it all and let it ride, British Columbia! You'll go broke — but the government will love ya.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The original Crasher Squirrel photo was taken by Melissa and Jackson Brandts in Banff in late May. The image of the squirrel has gone viral since it appeared on the National Geographic's website on Aug. 7.The original Crasher Squirrel photo was taken by Melissa and Jackson Brandts in Banff in late May. The image of the squirrel has gone viral since it appeared on the National Geographic's website on Aug. 7. (Melissa Brandts)
Melissa Brandts, who was visiting from Minnesota, had set up her camera on a tripod to capture her and her husband, Jackson, in front of picturesque Lake Minnewanka in May.
"We had our camera set up on some rocks and were getting ready to take the picture when this curious little ground squirrel appeared, became intrigued with the sound of the focusing camera and popped right into our shot!" she wrote.
The ground squirrel became the focus of the picture as the couple faded into the background.
Jackson Brandts took a few more shots using a remote-control shutter.
"A once in a lifetime moment! We were laughing about this little guy for days!" wrote his wife.
The couple submitted the photo to a National Geographic contest. The magazine posted it to an online gallery on Aug. 7.
In less than a week, the Crasher Squirrel, as it's become known, has stormed the internet.
Photoshop enthusiasts have added the furry scene-stealer to family portraits, famous paintings, and even to the top of the Queen's hat with a pile of nuts.
The Crasher Squirrel upstages former U.S. president Bill Clinton and North Korean President Kim Jong Il with other government officials. The Crasher Squirrel upstages former U.S. president Bill Clinton and North Korean President Kim Jong Il with other government officials. (David Morgan/CBC)
Check out adaptations of the Brandts photo, or share your own version of the Crasher Squirrel via BuzzFeed.
"They are a nice colouring and they come right up to you. They are pretty friendly," said Dean Hartey, visiting from Edmonton.
But Australian tourist Ron Sinclair said all he has are blurry pictures of the ground because the Columbian ground squirrels won't stay still.
"We got lots of photos of rocks," he said.
Tourism officials are delighted with the buzz created by the Crasher Squirrel at a time when the number of international visitors to Banff has slumped.
"The Canadian tourism industry as a whole has certainly been facing unprecedented challenges so the welcome addition of the Columbian ground squirrel as Banff ambassador is good news," said Julie Canning, president and CEO of Banff Lake Louise Tourism.
Premier Campbell and Finance Minister Colin Hansen admit that their harmonized sales tax (HST) shifts $1.9 billion in tax from businesses to B.C. families. That's what it means when they say the tax saves businesses $1.9 billion per year while keeping the government revenue-neutral; in other words, you pay more to make up for what businesses will save. You will do that by paying a 12 per cent HST on almost everything that currently attracts only a 5 per cent GST (children's clothing, gasoline and diesel fuel are exceptions).
A shift of $1.9 billion per year from businesses to B.C. families makes the HST the biggest tax shift in B.C. history.
Campbell's radical 2001 tax cuts cost $1.5 billion with just 8,000 people receiving 14 per cent of the benefits. His 2002 50 per cent increase in MSP premiums cost B.C. families about $450 million per year. It is hard to find anything that comes close to the $1.9 billion per year HST tax shift. Dividing that by B.C.'s population of 4.4 million produces an average tax shift of $428 for each person, infant to senior; it is $1,714 for a family of four. Of course all families are not equal. As a proportion of their income, high-income families will devote less to paying the HST than middle income families, so the HST is regressive. (To read the rest of the story go to TheTyee.ca).
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
When St. Peter arrived they asked him if they could get married in heaven. St. Peter looked confused for a moment, then said, "I don't know. This is the first time anyone has asked Let me go find out," and he left.
The couple sat and waited for an answer... for a couple of months, but what the hey, they were immortal now, so they could afford to be patient.
While they waited, they discussed the pros and cons. If they were allowed to get married in Heaven, should they get married, what with the eternal aspect of it all? "What if it doesn't work? Are we stuck in Heaven together forever?"
Another month passed. St. Peter finally returned, looking somewhat bedraggled.
"Yes," he informed the couple, "You can get married in Heaven."
"Great!" said the couple. "But we were just wondering; what if things don't work out? Could we also get a divorce in Heaven?"
St. Peter, red-faced with anger, slammed his clipboard on the ground.
"What's wrong?" asked the frightened couple.
"OH, COME ON!!!" St. Peter shouted. "It took me 3 months to find a priest up here! Do you have ANY idea how long it'll take to find a lawyer???"
My apologies to my lawyer friends!
Director Mary Jo O'Keefe says it's frustrating when recommendations made by the committee are not followed by the regional board, as was the case with NORD rejecting plans for a sedimentation pond in BX Creek.
O'Keefe tells KISS FM, "Having two levels (of government) is a real waste of not only our time, but our staff and resources, so I no longer think this board has any use, and I would vote to have it dissolved."
All three Vernon directors supported a motion to dissolve the committee, but it was defeated by a 4-3 vote, on the strength of Coldstream's two members, and Areas B and C.
Committee chair and Vernon mayor Wayne Lippert feels the advisory board is no longer useful.
"I think this committee has become redundant.There's too many people who have too many things on the go, and were wasting too much staff and director's time when all this stuff can be done at the regional district board."
(BX Silver Star) director Mike Macnabb (pictured) feels the GVAC still has a purpose.
"It's important to review these issues numerous times, not just once. If you don't have the background, and haven't followed the process and how it's evolved, then you could make a poor judgement."
Vernon director Buffy Baumbrough backed O'Keefe's motion to dissolve the committee, saying NORD's decision causes her "tremendous concern."
She said, "I am a really busy person and I resent the fact my time is being wasted."
Area B director Mike Gavinchuk told the committee, he changed his decision at NORD because of new information about what the sedimentation pond was going to be, saying he originally thought it would be a wetland and an amenity to the park.
The question one should ask is: Why should Director Lippert continue chairing a committee that "...has become redundant"? If any Director feels that his/her time is too valuable to fulfill his/her commitment to the duties they were elected to do he/she should resign. Nobody is indispensable.
As for should the Board just rubber stamp a recommendation one of its committees makes, that is nonsense. The body that appoints the committee (Council or NORD has the legislated right not to accept any recommendation the committee makes. It's just that simple!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
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.
- 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.