Friday, July 29, 2011
Written by Peter McIntyre 107.5 KISSFM Tuesday, 26 July 2011 15:15
Vernon mayor and G-VAC chair Wayne Lippert says Coldstream's change of stance on Greater Vernon Water won't do anything to solve the local governance issues. In fact, he says all the disagreements between the regional partners, have led to more talk of amalgamation. "People are getting frustrated with the Regional District of the North Okanagan, and Greater Vernon, and since I first became mayor (six years ago) to now, not just in the city of Vernon but in the BX and Coldstream, people that earlier didn't want to talk about amalgamation, are now coming to me saying, 'How can we make that happen?" Lippert says Coldstream's about-face on the water issue has happened a number of other times in discussions. "It just shows they can't hold to an agreement, so if you can't hold to an agreement with someone, what kind of partnership can you expect to have?" Lippert says Coldstream seems to be willing to talk lots, but with no action.
One of these facts is that it was the City and Mayor Lippert who requested an amazing nineteen (19) service reviews in 2006. These requests swamped RDNO staff and left them with little time for any other business.
Among these requests was the water function: The City expressed its desire to withdraw from the distribution part of the agreement (the famous DEVOLUTION) and, if that could not be done, to withdraw from the entire function. As the water function was an agreement between the three partners, Vernon, Coldstream and RDNO’s Electoral Areas B” and “C”, it appears that it is Vernon that “can’t hold to an agreement”.
Service reviews are very involved processes and generally only used when one or more partners consider withdrawing from a service. Is it reasonable to believe that the City contemplated withdrawing from all those services or was it political posturing? You make the call.
As a result of Vernon’s desire to withdraw from the distribution part of the water agreement an arbitrator was appointed to rule on the City’s request. The arbitrator ruled that based on the legislation he had no power of granting the partial withdrawal the City desired. The City challenged this ruling in court and in order to avoid a court case negotiations were initiated to try to find an out of court solution. These negotiations apparently stalled, thus, Coldstream Council reaffirmed its stance in supporting the original water agreement (see attached Press Release).
The other conveniently ignored fact by Mayor Lippert relates to the facilitated negotiations between Vernon, Coldstream and Electoral Areas “B” and “C” concerning the Parks and Recreation service review. These negotiations were conducted for nearly a year, a final report was prepared by the facilitator and Vernon backed out in the 11th hour, an “about face”!
It appears Mayor Lippert subscribes to the principle that “an attack is the best defense” regardless of the facts.
Disclaimer: the foregoing represent my personal opinion and it is not necessarily the official position of Coldstream Council.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Greater Vernon Parks – Playing Fair
In response to the recent Morning Star Article “Vernon refutes power trip claim”, and reporter Richard Rolke’s editorial; “Games people play”, in the July 21st Morning Star regarding the Parks Service Review meeting that took place at the Regional District on Monday July 18th, 2011, I would like to help inform the public on some of the facts.
Mr. Rolke unfortunately missed the second part of the meeting, and may not have been aware of some of the events.
In fact, there was some significant progress made. The workshop format facilitated by the Regional District staff was excellent, and very amenable to allowing each participant a chance to speak freely and get right down to the heart of the problem with Parks and Rec.
The first thing that came to light, in the afternoon session, was that the participants ARE willing to go along with a governance voting structure as represented by population (Rep. by Pop.) as desired by Vernon, IF the scope of the ‘service’ is reduced to the structure that was presented by the facilitator, Allan Neilson-Welch, in the Draft Terms of Agreement – paper dated October 2010.
For those who don’t understand how Parks & Rec. and Culture works now in Greater Vernon (I don’t blame you, it is very confusing), here is a little background explanation:
The ‘Service’ is presently divided into three ‘Functions’ operated by the Regional District of the North Okanagan (i.e.: RDNO or NORD, same). These ‘Functions’ are governed by ‘Establishment Bylaws’ in accordance with the requirements of the ‘Local Government Act’. When you set up a ‘function’ at the Regional District, you ask which jurisdictions want to participate, in this case the participants are; the City of Vernon, Municipality of Coldstream, and Electoral Area B & C. These ‘participants’ form ‘Greater Vernon’ and the three ‘Functions’ are:
1) Vernon and District Multi-Use Facility (or Multiplex)
2) Vernon and District Community Theatre (or Performing Arts Centre)
3) Greater Vernon Parks Recreation and Culture
Each year the ‘functions’ establish a budget, and the Regional District draws up a requisition from the participants, then you see it on your tax bill as line items; ‘Parks & Rec, Multiuse, and Theatre.
For a typical household (I’m taking a sample Coldstream bill for illustration purposes, but yours will be different):
If the ‘General Tax’ line on your tax bill reads - $1,000 (tax on land & improvements) then the relative Parks & Rec line might be - $419, Multiplex - $93, and Theatre - $67, (last three are based on the assessed value of improvements only).
Your individual proportion paid, depends on the assessed value of your house vs the assessed value of your Land & House. However in this example you would be paying a total of $579 of taxes for the ‘Parks Service’ versus $1,000 for your whole ‘General Tax’.
You can see what a huge proportion of the total tax bill this represents. For Coldstream, in 2010, we collected a total of 4.2 million dollars (according to our 2010 Annual Report) in tax revenue from our taxpayers, but we also collected 2.4 million dollars for the Regional District (N.O.R.D.) requisition (75% of which is for the three functions mentioned above).
Taxpayers give a lot of scrutiny to the $1,000 portion of the tax bill, however the $579 dollars portion may go by un-scrutinized because people do not understand the process of budget setting for parks. This lack of control and understanding has resulted in a lot of frustration from outside groups, and a budget setting process that has allowed the budget to double over 13 years.
When the scope of a service is so large, it makes sense that you should ask yourself what are we getting for our money? Is the service as efficient as it could be? Can we, as a local government, be responsive to our constituents? Ironically, these are much the same questions that Vernon wants considered when it asks to ‘devolve’ the ‘Greater Vernon Water Utility’ function, but that is another story.
Coldstream and B & C are asking these questions, it took a full year of deliberations with a mediator/facilitator, Allan Neilson-Welch, to come up with answers and a draft Terms of Agreement. There was a lot of give and take to produce the final document, all participants met numerous times and some very good recommendations were put forward for the re-structuring of the ‘Parks Service’. However at the 11th hour in November 2010, when all the parties got together for a joint meeting of the full Vernon Council, Coldstream Council, and Area B & C reps, Vernon Council balked at the whole deal, as though they had never been part of the year long consultation process that produced the document. This was reported to the public as “yet another squabble”, and not well explained by the media as to just what the differences were.
Had the media been present for the last part of the July 18th meeting, they would have noted that an attempt was being made to salvage the Parks Review where it left off last November. It came to light, that one of the major things that City of Vernon Councillors had objected to at last November’s meeting, was the exclusion of the Rec. Centre Complex and Civic Arena from the joint re-structured service. For clarity the Vernon Rec. Centre Complex and Civic Arena includes:
-Vernon Aquatic Centre and Fitness Gym
-Priest Valley Gym
-Priest Valley (indoor) Arena
-Centennial (outdoor) Arena
-Halina Citizens Centre
-the old Civic Arena
Historically these facilities had been at the heart of the formation of the Parks Recreation & Culture function. Vernon Councillors felt, these facilities, as well as some large parks like Polson, should remain 100% shared. Coldstream and Area B & C reps, had not been opposed to that arrangement, provided they got a meaningful say in the vote regarding any capital expansion, and a balance of power was maintained whereby one participant could not trump the others. Vernon representatives (last year), Lippert and Gilroy, had communicated that Vernon insisted on full control, so the compromise presented in the Allan Neilson-Welch document was that; Coldstream and B&C would pay only 50% of the dollar value that the jurisdictions had traditionally paid towards the operating costs associated with the facilities, and in exchange they would have no say in the operations of the facilities, and Vernon could have full control, and responsibility, for future capital expansions for all the Rec. Complex facilities. The general feeling from Coldstream and B&C, expressed in the compromise, was “if we pay, we want a say”!
At the July 18th, 2011 meeting, after some discussion about the Rec. Complex, there was agreement by all committee members to take forward to their Councils for consideration, a proposal whereby the Vernon Recreation Complex and Civic Arena would be split out as a separate ‘Function’ from the ‘Sub-Regional Parks Function’. That ‘Function’ would see all the Rec. Complex & Civic Arena operating costs shared by Coldstream, Vernon, and B&C as they are now, but separation of the ‘Function’ would give a better financial picture of true costs. This new ‘Function’ could have an establishment bylaw that would include governance by representation by population, but would restrict the ability of one partner from assuming debt or thrusting debt upon others by requiring a 2/3 majority vote on Capital Costs.
There was also agreement to further discuss the scope of a Sub-Regional Parks ‘Function’ to possibly include:
Swan Lake Park, Gray Canal Trail Network, Kal Beach, Kin Beach, Polson Park, and Marshall Park.
All other park properties would become the sole fiscal responsibility of their respective jurisdictions (while programming would remain part of the collective function).
I am sure that this may be difficult for the public to fully grasp, these are complex issues, but the bottom line is we are trying to make the ‘Service’ more transparent, efficient and accountable.
What’s Next? The next ‘Parks Review’ meeting is scheduled for the second week of September, the meeting is open to the public, call the Regional District for the exact date & time. There is a lot more work to do and it takes time, trust and sincerity on all sides to achieve meaningful results. Many groups out there like the Art Gallery, Museum, Art Centre, Boys and Girls Club, and Teen Junction are proposed to be part of another ‘Function’ broken out of the present structure, this ‘Function’, if approved, will be called the ‘North Okanagan Arts, Culture, and Youth Function’ (N.O.A.C.Y.). It is hoped that this restructuring would end the ping pong game between Vernon City Council and RDNO, where groups are sent from one Board Room to another, cap in hand, with one entity blaming the other for why their hands are tied. Everyone is counting on us to work together to fix the problems, and there ARE real problems! The new Vernon representative for the parks review is Councillor Mary-Jo O’Keefe, and she has the opinion that Vernon residents are happy with the parks function as it is, and that there is no pressure to change the service. I wonder if the citizens of Vernon really know all the facts? I trust that Vernon is sincere in their participation in the Parks Review. It would be a sad waste of taxpayers money to just drag the process out to the next election. Let us continue the momentum, and the great progress made in this last meeting, let us also use the excellent foundation work done by Allan Neilson–Welch to arrive at a win-win conclusion for all.
Vernon city council held its collective nose Monday and approved a controversial development variance permit on 600 acres of land in the Commonage. Only councillor Bob Spiers voted no. The permit will allow the development of a 28-lot subdivision around environmentally-sensitive land off Chum Road. Councillor Mary-Jo O'Keefe says the regional district had a chance to buy the land some years ago and turned it down. ``It's very disappointing when things like that happen but now I think we have to go forward and make the best of it,'' says O'Keefe. She stresses that council should not ``impede private ownership of land.'' The council chamber was packed with opponents to the variance permit. North Okanagan Natural Areas Preservation Committee spokesperson Dave Kennedy says City staff failed to adequately answer the issues, accusing them of ``dodging'' a question about whether council's decision would set a precedent which could be followed by other rural developers. The owner of the land in question, Bob Armstrong, insists that council's approval of one 200-acre parcel will actually better-protect that land. ``It can restore itself again,'' says Armstrong. ``It's been trampled and trodden and run over with dogs forever and I think it can be more beautiful there than it is now.''
Monday, July 25, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
It's time for the province to lose its frontier attitude and impose penalties on water-rights abusers Tom Siddon, Vancouver Sun
Water is not an issue of partisan politics. A poll recently released showed that nine out of 10 British Columbians expect better and more effective water rules, and regard clean, abundant water as the province's most valuable resource. Several years ago, the government began a process to review and update the century-old B.C. Water Act. Public response has been enormous, with thousands of letters, blog posts and meetings. With the eyes of Canada on us, there is an opportunity for the new premier to take this popular initiative, and make it her own.
The current B.C. government approach to water is not a model for the rest of the country. Unrestricted access to our streams, lakes and rivers has long been regarded as an important instrument of economic growth. Provincial policy has usually favoured industrial development over environmental protection. A frontier attitude to water licensing, based on the archaic "first in time - first in right" principle has led to widespread exploitation of our lakeshores, streams and rapidly depleting riparian areas.
Last month, a government-funded study found massive lack of enforcement for lakefront alterations and development, and only last week B.C.'s auditor-general described the provincial environmental assessment office as toothless and ineffective, having no adequate mechanism to enforce environmental compliance or to impose penalties on water-rights abusers. As a result, during recent years, a large proportion of the publicly owned, ecologically rich foreshore on our lakes and rivers has been fenced off and turned into private playgrounds for the wealthy. These alterations are often undertaken with little regard for the environmental consequences.
Environmental protection requires political will, but it can be done. In 1986, as Canada's fisheries minister, I consulted widely and presented to Parliament the world's first Policy on Sustainable Habitat for Fish. This policy incorporated the principles of no net loss of fish habitat, multi-stakeholder planning and co-management, and a net gain of habitat for fisheries enhancement on a region-wide basis. In 1989, I also introduced a 10-fold increase in fines and penalties, to $1 million per indictable offence, with jail sentences for corporate offenders. These laws are vigorously enforced to this day by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans - but they are focused on marine areas.
In contrast, B.C. has paid little more than lip service to environmental enforcement for freshwater habitats, with minimal effort to deter abusers. And unlike the federal policy to protect fish, the B.C. government has largely neglected protection for the myriad birds, wildlife and plant communities which rely on the rich riparian areas abutting our lakes, streams and rivers. Through downloading environmental responsibilities to local and regional governments, without providing the necessary funding for enforcement, there has been even greater destruction of B.C.'s unique environmental assets.
Nonetheless, the modernization of the B.C. Water Act is an opportunity for change. B.C. is also long overdue for laws to protect groundwater, water for agriculture and mechanisms to share water during shortages. Although 2011 has had a wet summer, looking just over the horizon we can see the population and the economy growing, with the prospect of snow packs and glacier reserves shrinking from climate change, while irrigation demand increases.
Water shortages for human use will place inevitable pressure on the health of natural fresh water systems, so future planning has to be based on binding, comprehensive and integrated legislative reform.
To Clark, I can only say that you have a lot of old baggage to overcome if you plan to lead British Columbia into a more water-conscious future. I trust you will start this process by setting an example for your provincial colleagues. Please take this opportunity to move forward with new legislation that addresses the water needs of the 21st century - and provide the necessary regulatory "bite" to make it effective.
Tom Siddon was the federal fisheries minister from 1985 to 1990; he served as founding chair of the Okanagan Water Stewardship Council from 2006-2009 and was awarded the Okanagan Water Leadership Award in 2009.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
The 100 day countdown is on for the Polson Tower completion (set for late Sept. 2011). We need the two shelled in floors completed Now! Now, before the workers go away and it costs even more to get them back. The overcrowding is 'chronic', it is not just a one time thing. People are moving to the North Okanagan, the population statistics show an increase in the elderly, and a corresponding increase in need for hospital acute care beds and medical services. The statistics have demonstrated it over and over ... It is the North Okanagan's turn to receive the funding for beds!!!
The petition urging completion of the two floors of the new hospital tower is online at the Coldstream Municipality website so you can print it off and collect more signatures if you wish.
Please – if you haven’t already – sign the petition and submit it to the Coldstream Municipal Hall or City of Vernon...
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Disgusted, Satan Returns Murdoch’s Soul
Media Titan Loses Closest Ally
LONDON (The Borowitz Report) – In a blow that many insiders saw as the last straw for embattled media titan Rupert Murdoch, Satan today returned Mr. Murdoch’s soul to him and demanded his money back.
“Rupert Murdoch has done my bidding for decades, but that relationship is now terminated,” read the terse statement from the Prince of Darkness, who close associates said has been “disgusted” by Murdoch’s recent activities.
Purchased by Satan in Melbourne, Australia in 1951, Mr. Murdoch’s soul is estimated to have a current value of nine dollars (US).
Around the media world, observers were stunned by this latest setback for Mr. Murdoch, who in Satan is losing one of his closest and most powerful allies.
But according to Ian Langramstone, who at his post as the University of Nottingham has studied Mr. Murdoch’s relationship with Satan for years, the slap in the face from the Lord of Misrule should not come as a surprise.
“Satan never wants to be the last one to desert a sinking ship,” said Mr. Langromstone. “He always takes his lead from British politicians.”
In what many saw a tacit admission of the depth of his current problems, Mr. Murdoch today cancelled plans to purchase the remainder of the British government that he does not already own.
Elsewhere, pitcher Roger Clemens celebrated his steroid case being declared a mistrial by throwing a car across the courthouse parking lot.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Independent Community-based Media for the Monashee
This is an email to remind you that the Monashee has a new online news venue which can be found at www.MyValleySun.com
We’ve been publishing within a trial period for a month now, and in this time we have broke a number of local stories – one of them went national. We’re still working to complete our site and we feel that we have only scratched the surface of news that requires reporting in this region.
My Valley Sun (MVS) is constructed under the same operating principles as American and European community-based public media, which is supported by a combination of subscriptions, advertising, sponsorships and donations. Our small market requires that MVS raise approximately $35,000 in order to bring you captivating and helpful local news and information.
Over the past year we have come to learn just how far our local government can get off the rails if residents are not engaged with setting the direction of what we would like our community to become. We need to be on top of things, which is why MVS is dedicated towards encouraging a thoughtful dialogue within our community. Presenting the real news online is one thing that will help, but we’re also producing a series of events which build ideas, connections and communication between the people of the Monashee. Our Watershed Café Series will happen on Thursday’s and we hope that you and your friends will be able to attend.
In closing, we will be sending you not only news and event updates, but also requests for support throughout this coming year. We also hope that you will become a regular contributor of content to MVS – we’re eager for your stories, ideas and observations about where you live and about the Monashee - and the world.
Thank you for your past and future support.
Powered by the Watershed Intelligence Network
Have faith, we'll get there some day! It will only take a few more $$$$$$$$.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The company Terrafugia, based in Woburn, Mass., says it plans to deliver its car-plane, the Transition, to customers by the end of 2011. It recently cleared a major hurdle when the Federal Aviation Administration granted a special weight limit exemption to the Transition.
"It's the next 'wow' vehicle," said Terrafugia vice president Richard Gersh. "Anybody can buy a Ferrari, but as we say, Ferraris don't fly."
The Transition is a long way from cartoon dad George Jetson's flying car zooming above traffic, or even the magical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
"There is no launch button on the (instrument) panel," Gersh noted.
Rather, the car-plane has wings that unfold for flying — a process the company says takes one minute — and fold back up for driving. A runway is still required to takeoff and land.
The Transition is being marketed more as a plane that drives than a car that flies, although it is both. The company has been working with FAA to meet aircraft regulations, and with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to meet vehicle safety regulations
The company is pitching the Transition to private pilots as a more convenient — and cheaper — way to fly. They say it eliminates the hassle trying to find another mode of transportation to get to and from airports: You drive the car to the airport and then you're good to go. When you land, you fold up the wings and hit the road. There are no expensive hangar fees because you don't have to store it at an airport — you park it in the garage at home.
The plane is designed to fly primarily under 10,000 feet. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 1,430 pounds, including fuel and passengers. Gas mileage on the road is about 30 mpg.
Terrafugia says the Transition reduces the potential for an accident by allowing pilots to drive under bad weather instead of flying into marginal conditions.
The Transition's price tag: $194,000. But there may be additional charges for options like a radio, transponder or GPS. Another option is a full-plane parachute.
"If you get into a very dire situation, it's the ultimate safety option," Gersh said.
So far, the company has more than 70 orders with deposits, he said.
Terrafugia is Latin for "escape from the land." The company was founded in 2006 by five Massachusetts Institute of Technology grad students who were also pilots. They received some seed money from the school.
The concept of a car-plane has been around since at least the 1950s, but it's possible that Terrafugia may become the first company to mass-produce one, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said.
"We're working very closely with them, but there are still some remaining steps," Brown said.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
A Letter from Rupert Murdoch
Where I Stand on the News Corporation Scandal
As details of the scandal surrounding my company, News Corporation, have emerged in recent days – including employees hacking into mobile phones and bribing the police – my defense has been consistent: I had no idea what was going on.
Now, I’m sure many of you are wondering, how could I, Rupert Murdoch, one of the most powerful men in the world, have no idea what is going on? The answer, my friends, is simple: I get all of my information from my own newspapers. If you relied on News of the World, The Sun, and The New York Post for your information, I can assure you that you wouldn’t have a clue what was going on, either.
Some of you aren’t buying this argument. You maintain that a media titan like me would get his information from sources beyond newspapers – like TV, for example. Well, that’s true. But in my case, the only TV I watch is the Fox News Channel. So not only do I not know what is going on around me, I know nothing about the theory of evolution, global warming, or President Obama’s birthplace.
If you still don’t believe that I know nothing, here’s a final piece of evidence: I paid $500 million to acquire MySpace. Case closed.
Now that we’ve established that I know nothing, let me address some of the allegations about News Corp. that have come up in recent days: first and foremost, that our reporters have regularly bribed the police to obtain information. I am shocked and appalled by this charge. News Corporation has a longstanding zero tolerance policy regarding information, both the getting of it and the publishing of it. Going forward, we will be subjecting our employees to a series of random information tests. Any employees found to be possessing even trace amounts of facts will be immediately terminated.
Finally, it has come to my attention that several of my company’s tabloids have featured pictures of women with their shirts off. I am as shocked by this news as you are and I intend to launch a full investigation.
In closing, I want to assure you that I intend to make amends for any and all of the wrongdoing perpetrated by employees of News Corp. in recent years. And to that end, I have plan: I implore the British government to let me own 100% of the satellite broadcasting giant B-Sky-B. I have made some grievous mistakes with the media properties I already control, and the only way I can think of to make things right is by controlling even more.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Canada Day Rally at Vernon Jubilee Hospital - Purple Ribbon Campaign to get the gov't to complete the two shelled in floors in the new Polson Tower, and Fund more acute care beds. The 100 day countdown is on to the Tower completion ( set for late Sept. 2011) - we need the two shelled in floors completed 'Now'! Now, before the workers go away and it costs even more to get them back in. The overcrowding is 'chronic', it is not just a one time thing. People are coming to the North Okanagan, the population statistics show an increase in elderly, and a corresponding increase in need for hospital beds and medical services. The statistics have demonstrated it over and over ... It is the North Okanagan's turn to receive the funding for beds!!!
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Monday, July 4, 2011
Here is a wonderful opportunity to take a FREE Lake Keepers Course!
The media release issued by RDNO a few minutes ago confirms that the water quality advisory will continue until further notice for customers on the Duteau Creek water source. For further information visit Duteau
Saturday, July 2, 2011
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.