Monday, January 31, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Coldstream, I am back in the saddle with my new camera equipment and raring to go!
Polson Park: 18 swans, 37 ducks, 40 ducks. Note the size difference of 6 of the ducks!
Friday, January 28, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
By Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star
Published: January 25, 2011 7:00 PM
A proposed hike in regional water rates continues to make waves in Coldstream.
The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee has proposed a 20 per cent increase in water rates for the average single-family home.
Coldstream politicians say the rushed time line GVAC follows to come up with the rates is unfair and deserves more time and attention.
“This process of just throwing it on the table and everybody scrambling is not fair to the utility users,” said Coun. Doug Dirk.
“It’s complex and it needs to be worked on and given some thought.”
As a result, Coldstream is requesting that a committee be formed to give adequate attention to the issue of water rates.
The actual rate itself is getting a mixed reaction from councillors.
“I don’t think the $66 per quarter fee is an inordinate amount to pay,” said Coun. Maria Besso of the proposed new base fee (which is up from $50, but does not include the initial use of 20 cubic metres).
“Based on my water bill my rates would go up 26 per cent, but if I reduced my water consumption by 70 cubic metres I’d be back to what I paid last year,” said Besso of the incentive to use less water.
Dirk sees the hike in the base fee as an access charge that is necessary to ensure water is at hand for residents.
“The fact that water is available to you has a certain cost,” said Dirk.
Mayor Jim Garlick, who is also a GVAC director, says the hike is needed to pay for projects started this year.
There will also be a need to borrow $4 million next year to complete the Swan Lake separation from Goose Lake.
He understands that there is a need to fund projects, but Coun. Gyula Kiss isn’t happy with how the funds are being collected.
“It puts the burden on the very low users and generally the lowest users are the ones with the lowest incomes,” said Kiss, as the model doesn’t reward those who are already using less water.
“It shouldn’t be put on the backs of the low-income families.”
As I indicated in the above article I do not disagree with Mayor Garlick about the need for funding. I disagree with the proposed formula for collecting those funds.
Councillor Besso considers the $66.20 flat fee reasonable. She figures that if she saves 70 cubic meters of water she comes out even. What should the person who used 8 cu m for three months do to save? If she halves her consumption she would save $2.40. That's peanuts on top of the $66.20. Let's be reasonable!
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
I know I was not doing my job on the blog for a while but I had a plausible excuse: I had to assess the damage to my house. It is considerable as the photos below indicate.
Let me start my new input to the blog by relating an incident I witnessed yesterday. One of the taxpayers of Coldstream came to the office to pay her water bill. She had consumed a total of 8 cubic meters of water during the fourth quarter of 2010. For this she paid $50.17. If the current plan adopted by NORD stands next year she would pay $71.00, an increase of $20.83 or 41.5 %. She is a senior and not very happy. I cannot blame her!
Thursday, January 20, 2011
By now most of you have been informed of the proposed water rate increases. I for one do not like it. It is unfair to the low water consumers. An individual, using 20 m3 of water per quarter will pay $318.80 a year for water, $118.12 (58.9%) more than last year. An average user, consuming 350 m3 annually will pay $574.95, $94.37 (19.6%) more than last year, while a high user’s cost will be $828.12, $100.96 (13.9%) over last year’s cost. If you don’t agree with these changes call your respective political representative and protest. Remember, it’s an election year!
Try various combinations and see how much more low users subsidize the system!
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
January 3, 2011
The current proposal to locate sport facilities on the Okanagan College Kalamalka Campus site appears to have broad community support, however I think it is worthwhile to consider why the college site is currently configured the way it is before we proceed. The following presents a review of the site history: why the land is in the ALR, how the college buildings and parking areas were located, and why this large field where the sports facility is proposed is currently vacant.
The general area of the college site was designated Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) in 1974. Apparently, the area where the sports facilities are proposed was historically used for pasture but has not been cultivated or grazed for the past several decades. Note that about half of the Class 1-4 land in the Okanagan ALR, as well as in the provincial ALR, is not currently used for crops. These lands are being protected for food production for future generations.
In 1979, Lots 4 and 5 (the site) were transferred from the Ministry of Forests to Okanagan College. I was the Professional Agrologist retained by Doug Huggins, the Vernon architect who designed the college, to carry out an agricultural assessment of the site and to assist in the preparation of an application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to use a portion of the site for the college facilities.
The agricultural capability of the site ranges from Class 1 for the level areas to Class 7 for the steep slopes of the ravines. With irrigation, a wide range of crops, including vegetables, grapes and tree fruits, could be grown on the site. These lands have essentially the same soils and climate as their counterpart benches across the lake on Kidston Road where the orchard and dairy are located. The intent of the original ALR application was to use the less agriculturally suitable areas of Lot 5 for the college facilities and to save the larger, level area of Lot 4 for future agricultural or forestry use, related to the college curriculum.
The ALC supported the proposal, stating (in part): …to allow for the construction of a college campus and related uses on lot 5, …subject to the condition that no buildings or structures be located on …lot 4…it is the commission’s understanding that lot 4 is to be used by the college for agricultural or forestry related uses. The ALC subsequently authorized additional parking areas, amounting to about 2 acres within Lot 4.
Three years ago, we saw how passionately Coldstream voters feel about agricultural land protection when the sports complex was proposed on the Spicer block area of the Coldstream Ranch. Most of us were not against the development of sports facilities in the community, we just didn’t want to see it on prime agricultural lands. The District of Coldstream then made a commitment to try to find other sites where sports fields could be constructed, knowing that the most likely locations would also be in the ALR, but hopefully on much lower quality land.
There are two major reasons why I question putting the proposed sports facilities on the Kalamalka Campus site. First, thirty years ago, Okanagan College and the ALC made an agreement that allowed the construction of the campus while also protecting the good agricultural land for future research use. Why is this no longer valid? Why would we try to undo decisions and commitments that were rational then and are even more valid today in light of current global food production issues?
Secondly, it would be very difficult and expensive today to put together a comparable college site in the Okanagan with 10 acres of highly arable land attached that could be used for crop research and teaching students about local food production.
There are currently no agricultural courses taught at the college but Dean John Lent supports the idea of incorporating food production courses into the curriculum. I have been working with Dean Lent and Mayor Jim Garlick on the development of a crop research plot at the college which is currently under construction in the area between the parking lot and the ravine. Clearly the desire is there to support agricultural courses and to start doing crop research at the college.
In summary, it is encouraging to be moving forward with constructing a crop research plot at the campus site but I believe we should also be protecting the prime land that was set aside for this purpose in 1979. A review of ALC files shows that subsequent applications and proposals have been made over the years to use Lot 4 for non-agricultural uses, and that the Commission has been steadfast in refusing these uses. I believe that it will be difficult for the ALC to reverse their original, well thought out decision. However, if a decision is made to allow the sports facilities, Coldstream hasrequested that a legal covenant be placed on the 5 acre portion of the remaining area of Lot 4 that would restrict all future development to green field or crop use. Five prime acres would be taken up by the running track, the turf field and associated buildings while the capacity to develop crop research plots within the adjacent 5 acre site would be retained. In my opinion, this would be an acceptable compromise.
13012 Westkal Road
Coldstream BC V1B 1Y5
Published with the author's permission.
Monday, January 17, 2011
The first publication request I received was to post the following announcement:
Mark Your Calendars!
The Coldstream Ratepayers Association will be holding its Annual Community Pot Luck Supper and Annual General Meeting
Friday, February 11 between 5 and 8pm
at the Women’s Institute Hall
Please, bring your families and friends (they don’t have to be members) along with your own cutlery, plates, and some food to share.
Liquid refreshments and serviettes will be available at the Hall.
At 6:30 pm. there will be a presentation honouring
Coldstream’s recently retired
Fire Chief, Leo Lecavalier …
followed by a Power Point Presentation of Coldstream activities over the past few years, courtesy of Maria Besso …
followed by our Annual General Meeting
when we will elect a new executive and discuss
Note: All Coldstream Residents are Ratepayers!
Friday, January 7, 2011
Just a quick note to thank you for the kind words of support and to let you all know that as soon as I get a new computer I will be back on the blog post haste.
Monday, January 3, 2011
For Immediate Release
January 4, 2011
Value of provincial assessment roll exceeds $1 trillion for first time
KELOWNA – More than 4,500 property owners in Coldstream can expect to receive their 2011 assessment notice in the next few days.
Assessments are the estimate of a property’s market value as of July 1, 2010. This common valuation date ensures there is an equitable property assessment base for property taxation.
Real estate sales determine a property’s value which is reported annually by BC Assessment on assessment notices. Local governments and other taxing authorities are responsible for property taxation and, after determining their own budget needs this spring, will decide their property tax rates based on the assessment roll for their jurisdiction.
“Most homes in Coldstream are worth slightly less on this year’s assessment roll than they were on the 2010 assessment roll,” said Dan Gaudry, Regional Deputy Assessor. “For example, a typical single family home that was assessed at $483,000 on the last assessment would be assessed at $470,000 on the 2011 assessment.”
Changes in property assessments reflect movement in the local real estate market and can vary greatly from property to property. When estimating a property’s market value, BC Assessment’s professional appraisers analyze current sales in the area, as well as considering other characteristics such as size, age, quality, condition, view and location.
Overall, Coldstream’s assessment roll decreased from $2.13 billion last year to $2.11 billion this year. A total decrease of $20 million reflects changing market values for many properties but also includes subdivisions, rezoning and new construction.
“Property owners who feel that their property assessment does not reflect market value as of July 1, 2010 or see incorrect information on their notice should contact the BC Assessment office indicated on their notice as soon as possible in January,” said Gaudry.
BC Assessment’s website provides a listing of property assessments and sales to help property owners understand their property's market value and provide comparable sales information. Go to www.bcassessment.ca and click on the e-valueBC link. Copies of neighbourhood assessments are also available at local area offices and most municipal halls and government agent’s offices across the province.
For the 2011 Assessment Roll, BC Assessment will provide temporary in-person counter service in Vernon, at the Service BC location at 3201 – 30th Street in Vernon, 8:30am to 4:30pm, January 4th to February 4th, 2011.
“If a property owner is still concerned about their assessment after speaking to one of our appraisers, they may submit a Notice of Complaint (Appeal) by January 31, for an independent review by a Property Assessment Review Panel,” said Gaudry. The panels, independent of BC Assessment, are appointed annually by the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, and meet between February 1 and March 15 to hear formal complaints.
The Okanagan assessment office is located at suite 202 - 1500 Hardy Street in Kelowna. During the month of January, office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.
For the first time in British Columbia’s history, the total value of all 1.9 million real estate properties on the provincial assessment roll has surpassed $1 trillion. For more information on the 2011 assessment roll and regional and province-wide real estate market trends please visit www.bcassessment.ca and click on the 2011 assessment roll information link.
For More Information:
Okanagan Region Deputy Assessor
Office Phone: (250) 763-8300 local 437
Toll Free: 1 (800) 990-1192
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.