Monday, March 31, 2008

Tax reduction -- Hallelujah.

They have done it!!! Following a debate that lasted an hour and a half Council agreed to a tax increase of 6.95%. That is reduced from the initial proposed increase of 9.17%.

There was much debate on what to do with the sizable surplus Coldstream amassed during 2007. Some Councillors actually proposed an increase of only 5.95% but they were in the minority.

It was interesting to listen to Councillor Malerby passionately embracing the lower tax rate of 5.95%. It was in sharp contrast with her earlier but equally passionate defense of the 9.17% increase.

Perhaps the most interesting comments came from Councillor Williams who maintained that she could not accept a reduction of services in "her community". She seems to forget that she no longer is a member of this community since she moved out of Coldstream nearly a year ago.

Anyway, I think Council deserves credit for revisiting the issue and reducing the tax increase to a level more in line with other communities.


Sunday, March 30, 2008



AT 4:00 PM




a. Finance

(1) Results of Operations – 2007 and 2008 Budget
• Report from the Director of Financial Administration, dated March 28, 2008


At their Regular Meeting, held March 25, 2008, Council adopted the following Resolution No. REG2008-0152:

THAT the report from the Director of Financial Administration, dated March 25, 2008, regarding Results of Operations – 2007 and 2008 Budget, be tabled to a Special Regular Meeting of Council to be held Monday, March 31, 2008, at 4:00 p.m.;

AND THAT the Director of Financial Administration provide, for the Special Regular Meeting, a listing of items that were eliminated by Council during budget deliberations.


THAT the following motions, tabled by Council at their March 25, 2008 Regular Meeting, be risen from the table:

Main Motion

THAT the report from the Director of Financial Administration, dated March 25, 2008, regarding Results of Operations – 2007 and 2008 Budget, be received;

AND THAT $15,000 be added to the Equipment Replacement Reserve to bring the 2008 contribution to $225,000 as per the approved Long-Range Equipment Replacement Plan;

AND THAT an additional $50,000 be added to the snow removal budget, and $15,000 to the furniture and equipment budget for the new fire halls, as well as $5,000 for signage for the new fire halls;

AND THAT $100,000 be added to the Building Stabilization Reserve which was set up at the end of 2006 to stabilize budgeting for the building inspection function;

AND FURTHER THAT the tax increase for 2008 be reduced from 9.17% to 6.95%

Amending Motion

THAT the main motion be amended as follows:

(a) In the fourth paragraph, by replacing “$100,000” with “$60,000”.



Farmers fired up over burning bylaw -- by Jennifer Smith

New burning bylaws that have popped up in the midst of pruning season are heating up debate in Coldstream.

“This burning bylaw kind of snuck up on us, we had no notification or inkling this was coming,” said Ron Miciuk, who runs a nursery, orchards and bee hives on 4.25 acres on Kalamalka Road.

Under the new rules, properties such as Miciuk’s that are under two hectares cannot receive a burning permit. Permits are also only issued once a year, in the spring, compared to the old option where burning was also allowed in the fall. This decision was made due to traditionally poor venting in the fall.

While Miciuk, along with two other property owners, was granted a special burning permit, he says the new rules are unfair to those trying to sustain farming operations.

“I think about 90 properties are affected by this,” said Miciuk.

Their alternative to burning is to now haul prunings to the landfill or chip.

“In 2002 I chipped and it cost me $700, in 2004 I chipped and it cost me $800, the following year I chipped and it cost me $1,000,” said Miciuk of the costly alternative, while pointing out that the district does not even chip its waste.

“I think if you want people to quit burning you have to offer some kind of incentive,” he said, suggesting cost savings to chip.

Miciuk noted that there are times when burning is necessary to rid trees of diseases such as sour sap.

For Helmi Lowen, who owns 3.58 acres with her husband on Venables Drive, burning is also a better option. The Lowens bought their property three years ago and have been trying to clean it up. Initially they started hauling to the dump, but soon found burning was a more viable option.

“The first year we made about 20 trips to the landfill and if that isn’t pollution...I think it’s much more pollution than burning one time,” she said, adding: “My husband is 75-years-old and for him to haul that all to the dump is a big job.”

Irene DeLeenheer agrees that if done right, burning is a more environmentally-friendly option.

“I don’t understand the difference between chopping it up and taking it to the landfill than burning it in a good hot fire.”

While Coldstream was blamed for springing this bylaw on residents, Coun. Mary Malerby defended the district.

“We did go through the process. We did have a public meeting, we had advertisements in the newspaper,” said Malerby. “Ignorance isn’t always bliss.”

Further special burning permits may be issued, but they are at the consideration of council.

Public suggestions are also being taken to possibly change the current April burning period to a better time.


Coldstream trashes universal collection -- by Jennifer Smith

Coldstream has thrown an opportunity for universal garbage collection to the curb.

A chance to pick up the service through the North Okanagan Regional District was defeated in a tie vote at Coldstream council Monday.

Only six members of council were available to vote, with Mayor Gary Corner away. Opposition from Couns. Jim Garlick, Glen Taylor and Doug Dirk defeated the option.

The proposed service aims to reduce the amount of garbage that goes to the landfill as well as the number of vehicles hauling by providing the service with a one-bag per week limit (with an option to buy additional bag tags).

Feeling very strongly about the issue, Coun. Mary Malerby pleaded for her colleagues to vote in favour, reminding them that the landfill is filling up quickly.

“We have a responsibility in order to make it last as long as we possibly can,” said Malerby, citing the proposed service as a great way to do so. “When Vernon moved to universal garbage their recycling actually increased.”

But concerns were raised that those who already diligently recycle and produce only a bag or two of garbage a month might feel compelled to do otherwise.

“If you’re allowing everybody to put out a bag of garbage every week then people will say, ‘well, I’m paying for it so I might as well put it out,’” said Coldstream Ratepayers Association president Gyula Kiss, who is also a former member of NORD’s Waste Management Committee.

The proposed cost of universal garbage collection is estimated to be cheaper than service provided by either of the two local companies. Compared to the $27 to $31/quarter currently charged by these companies for one bag a week pickup, the universal program cost would be $21.45 per quarter.

The aim is to split the contract between the two local contractors, if they are willing.

But Taylor fears once that contract is up, the local providers will be pushed out by big business.

“After three or five years you’re going to get the big wheels coming in here and going for that contract and these little guys are going to disappear.”

There is also the concern of administrative costs, as NORD would be fielding all complaint calls, dealing with contractor payments and such.

But Michael Stamhuis, director of engineering services, sees the system as a positive option.

“The benefit I see is essentially cost and efficiency. In my area, for example, there are three houses picked up by one contractor, there are three houses picked up by another and the others who self haul.”

This is the second time the option for universal garbage collection has come up at Coldstream in the past five months. The issue was tabled in November as council sought further information on costs and benefits.


I have said a lot more about the mandatory garbage collection issue at the Council meeting.

I explained that no matter who delivers the garbage, once it produced it has to go to the landfill site one way or the other. The best way to control garbage is at the site of production. Senior Governments should act to control the production of garbage at the manufacturing end.

For example, styrofoam is one of the worst offenders. It is very light yet it takes up huge volumes of the landfill site. It is not recycled yet huge amounts are produced to package all sorts of products.

I also suggested that private contractors would be just as willing to charge for extra bags as those working for NORD if requested by bylaws.

Those of us producing very small amounts of garbage should be allowed to deliver our own products to the landfill site at a fraction of the cost of the mandatory collection.

Individuals hiring their own haulers (one of two) will also avoid problems garbage strikes create. We are all aware of periodic strikes and their consequences in our major cities.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Articles from the Morning Star -- March 28, 2008

Greater Vernon Water, as we know it, will be relegated to a memory. All that remains is the fight over the assets and trying to determine who gets what from the reserves built up from our outrageous water rates.

Let's refresh our memories of what was achieved by this memorable service according to the latest information presented:
A new balancing reservoir was built on the East Hill (McMechan Reservoir) - cost: $4.5 million;

A new water treatment plant was built on Reservoir Road for about $6.0 million;

The Kalamalka Lake Pump Station was upgraded for about $0.7 million;

A new sewer line was built to the Rise and Bella Vista for about $4.0 million

Preliminary work on Duteau Creek Water Treatment Plant about $2.0 million.
Judge for yourself how much benefit you received from the actions of GVW besides the privilege of paying .


We found some extra money!!!!

Despite the passionate claims of Councillor Malerby, that Council has turned every stone and could not find ways of reducing the proposed tax increases a further check revealed that indeed there were some cash hidden in the cracks and crannies.

We may wonder if these extra funds would have been discovered had the Ratepayers Association not raised the issue repeatedly. We may never know but the lingering possibility remains!


Thursday, March 27, 2008

City sets date for water pull-out -- By Peter McIntyre

The city of Vernon has set a date for pulling out of Greater Vernon Water.

Mayor Wayne Lippert says they've been unable to resolve some ongoing differences with Areas B and C of NORD.

Lippert told KISS FM, "The city of Vernon is definately wanting to withdraw from the water service, the Greater Vernon water utility (distribution), and the date we would like to withdraw is January 1, 2009."

Lippert says the change should mean better service for Vernon residents, as the city will be able to address water concerns quicker.

The mayor doesn't think the move will mean an end to the Greater Vernon Services Committee, as there will still be a partnership for supplying water.


It is quite possible that the City will benefit from the change but what about US, poor cousins who are paying the same rate as the City folks yet we get no improvement to our water. Here is another use for the cash cow!!

The Eagle.


Public Speaks on Transportation Plan -- by Starlee Speers, Astral Media Radio

The focus of Tuesday nights public input session for Vernon's draft Transportation plan was on the 25 year plus option of preserving a Western bypass corridor.

Around one-hundred twenty-five people turned out for the dialogue with city council and staff. Speakers raised concerns regarding the by-pass and also brought concerns to council about lack of policing on busy, high traffic roads, air pollution and food security.

When pressed to choose an option many speakers favoured having one way traffic on 27th street and Highway 97.

Staff will now include input from the session into their final report to city council.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Divide the lake by use: Hobson -- by Kelly Hayes - Story: 38083

A Kelowna city councillor thinks we should consider dividing the lake according to use.

Robert Hobson says it may be time to consider looking at guidelines for restricting certain types of activities on Okanagan Lake.

“I’m talking about having areas designated as ‘high activity’ areas for water skiing and such and ‘low activity’ areas that wouldn’t allow speed boats,” says Hobson.

He says there are already federal regulations in place about speeding on the water.

“People are not supposed to drive their boats at certain speeds within 15 metres of shore, but I don’t think a lot of people know that. It’s a safety and noise issue, it makes sense to identify areas that are suitable for certain uses and those that are not.”

Hobson says smaller, reservoir lakes might be good spots to be motorboat-free zones, while other areas would be more appropriate for those who want to water ski.

“It’s something I think we will have to think about as we look at expanding lake front facilities. We have put a proposal to the RDCO to look at future moorage and safe harbour facilities and I think we need to look at the size and location of these in relation to possible conflicts.”

“Many parts of the world divide their lakes according to use and I think it’s time we look at that possibility.”


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Council meeting -- March 25, 2008 -- Notes.

Tonight's meeting of Council was an interesting affair. Councillor Garlick was acting Mayor as Mayor Corner was vacationing in Mexico. There were two items of considerable consequence on Taxpayers.

The first item, Universal Curbside Garbage Collection Services, was defeated on a split vote (3-3) despite Councillor Malerby's passionate plea to have it approved.

The other important and significant monetary item was related to budget. There was a motion to reduce the proposed tax increases from 9.17% to 6.95%. due to unexpected revenues. There were calls for further reduction to as low as 5.5%. Consensus could not be reached, thus they tabled the motion to a special meeting on March 31 at 4:00 PM. It appears that at least a modest tax reduction to 6.95% could be expected. Kudos to Council.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Council meeting -- March 25, 2008 -- Notes.





a. Request for Special Burning Permit 9242 Kalamalka Road (Miciuk) Ron Miciuk will be in attendance to speak to his letter.

b. Request for Special Burning Permit
7080 and 7060 Brewer Road (DeLeenheer) Irene and Greg DeLeenheer may be in attendance to speak to their letter.

c. Request for Special Burning Permit
10108 Venables Drive (Lowen) Helmi Lowen may be in attendance to speak to her letter.

d. Multiple Family Sewer Rates and 2008 Budget
Mr. John Hegler will be in attendance to speak to this matter.

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

NOTE: This time is to afford members of the public the opportunity to address issues on the agenda dated, March 25, 2008. Issues that are not on the current agenda will not be heard by Council.

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




(2) Universal Curbside Garbage Collection Services

• Report from the Director of Engineering Services, dated March 11, 2008


THAT the report from the Director of Engineering Services, dated March 11, 2008, regarding Universal Curbside Garbage Collection Services, be received;

AND THAT the District, in conjunction with the Regional District of North Okanagan, move to implement a universal curbside garbage collection system wherein a weekly collection service would be provided, such service having a one bag limit plus tags, with an interim two bag limit for a three to six month initiation period.

click on for more


I am sure Council's intentions are honourable and they hope to do the best for the community and reduce the amount of waste delivered to the transfer station. However, the approach is wrong and provides little or no incentive to reduce waste production.

As a former member of NORD's Waste Management Committee (six years on the Committee, three of those as Chair) I have been involved in many discussions on the subject of waste reduction. The general consensus was that the user pay system provides the greatest incentive for reduction.

The landfill is owned and operated by NORD. We all pay for it. That is the only fixed infrastructure needed for the service. The only question remains how the garbage is delivered there. Garbage delivery is not like water or sewer service where fixed infrastructure is required for the service delivery by local governments.

Presently the service is provided by individual contractors who pick up the trash and deliver it to the landfill. They set their rate based on the number of bags they pick up from any given household. It could be regulated by NORD to instruct contractors to charge by the number of bags using tags on each bag. That would be an incentive to reduce garbage production.

Many home owners deliver their own trash to the landfill. They pay by the bag or by weight if the load is over a certain limit. These customers generally have very low volume of garbage (one or two bags per month).

The proposal by Coldstream is to have a predetermined contractor do the job for everybody. I assume, as usual, Coldstream will administer the service for NORD. That is two administrative steps.

This service is delivered by independent businesses. Why should we interfere with businesses when they are working well, making a living, providing excellent service and allow those wishing to do the service for themselves to do so?

I do not believe that the electorate is urging Council to take over the service. I am quite sure that the service would not be cheaper. The one bag limit is still not much incentive to reduce beyond the one bag per week garbage production. The attitude will be: if I am charged for a full bag regardless of what I put to the curb I might as well get my money's worth and be less careful. However, if Council believes that there is great support for the proposal, they should initiate a public input session to gage the desires of the public.

The present system is a good insurance against the effects of a potential strike. As long as we can deliver our own trash to the landfill site we can continue doing it even if some contractors decide to strike.

Since the system is not broken I don't think Council should "fix it" because chances are after their intervention it might become permanently broken.


Lettrs to the Editor -- Morning Star

Dr. Chris Cunningham and I co-authored a recent paper looking at funding inequalities among hospitals in the Interior Health Authority. This prompted a meeting between Health Minister George Abbot and Vernon city council. The minister’s response to our paper was that it focused too much on acute care beds and not enough on community care beds that the IHA plans to open.

He did not comment on the fact that Vernon Jubilee is the only regional hospital without an on-site MRI scanner, though, we perform the highest number of CT scans. He also did not comment on the fact that we have only four operating rooms, though Trail, for example, serves half the population and has five ORs.

Absent from the discussion was the fact that in addition to the 80,000 people in the North Okanagan, VJH serves as the main referral hospital for an additional 50,000 people in the Shuswap as Salmon Arm and Revelstoke do not have specialist services such as pathology, pediatrics, spine surgery, urology, ENT, gynecology, pacemaker surgery, and orthopedics. I will not be addressing theses issues in this essay and will instead focus on acute care beds.

One of the premises of our paper was based on the following logical argument: an elderly population requires acute care hospital services; acute care services require acute care beds; the elderly populations in Vernon is growing; therefore, the requirement for acute care beds in Vernon will also grow. Follow me?

Let me rephrase using specific examples:

The two top reasons for admission to hospital for the elderly people (where elderly is defined as 65 or older - no offence to readers) are cardiovascular disease and cancer. So if you or your family suffer a heart attack, a life-threatening arrhythmia, a stroke or severe heart failure from metastic spread of cancer , you will require admission to an acute hospital bed.

If you were sent to a community bed such as a nursing home for any of these problems, you would simply die.

Now as a population needs a certain number of acute care beds to properly treat patients for all these problems is it not logical that a greater population would require a greater number of care beds?

Is it true that community beds would improve the care for patients with chronic illnesses but not necessarily patients with acute illnesses. The additional volume of acutely ill patients would not be well served by simply increasing the number of community care beds unless the intent was not to treat hem and have them simply die.

The elderly population of Vernon has been projected by the IHA to increase by 52.6 per cent by 2022.

For the past four years, Vernon Jubilee has been operating at 110 per cent capacity. That means that, on average, there are 10 per cent more patients in the hospital then there are funded beds. The recommended level of hospital capacity for optimum safety is 85 to 90 per cent. No other regional hospital in the IHA is on average over-capacity every single day. Not even Royal Inland and Kelowna General are in the same situation, according to IHA statistics.

It is a regular occurrence that surgeries are performed on patients who depend on a bed being vacated by another patient while their surgery is in progress.

This means that if for some reason grandpa is not quite ready to be discharged after his hip replacement, he might have to be put in a bed in the hallway or in a wheelchair in the waiting room so his bed can be given to a “fresh” post-operative patient. Imagine if the Vernon Lodge operated at 110 per cent capacity. You check in and your room is not ready so you are asked to have a meal at the restaurant. While you eat, someone is still sleeping in your room.

When you are finished your meal, the person in the bed is given the choice to either sleep in the hallway or take their stuff and stay at the bar for another few hours before they are ready to go to the airport so the room can be quickly cleaned for you to sleep in.

Two days later, the same thing happens to you when someone else needs the room. Would this be acceptable even once? What about every day for four years straight?

Would you be upset if there was no plan to change and there was no other hotel in town?

What it means for a hospital to run at 110 per cent capacity is that every person who works at the hospital, from the physicians to the nurses to porters and cleaning staff has to work at 110 per cent to keep patients moving through the system. By and large patients receive excellent medical care at Vernon Jubilee because staff working there really care about the patients and take pride in providing excellent care. But the hospital is at a breaking point. Disaster lurks on a daily basis. All it takes is an unexpected event such as an abnormal blood test that suggests that a patient who is supposed to be discharged may be having a heart attack or a pacemaker that malfunctions after being inserted meaning that the patient has to stay in the ICU another day, or a patient develops a blood clot in the lung after a hip fracture that now needs to be monitored on blood thinners for a few more days.

The physicians at VJH are concerned about the level of safety and the quality of care that is provided to their patients. We would prefer to work at a 85 to 90 per cent capacity environment as is recommended. This would require 160 acute care beds. We currently have 125.

Even though there is a new facility being planned at VJH, there is no plan to provide funding to increase the number of beds or operating rooms when it opens.

The building is merely a replacement not an expansion. If you think the hospital that your tax dollars pays for should provide a safe level of medical care at least equal to other facilities in Penticton and the Kootenays by providing adequate acute beds, sufficient operating rooms, equal access to MRIs and other modern imaging, please write to:

Health Minister George Abbott, Room 337, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C. V8V 1X4

Dr. Hamish Hwang


Community Policing Closing -- Betty Selin, Astral Media Radio

Coldstream residents are losing their community policing office. It will close tomorrow.

Coldstream council is currently reviewing all services as part of their budget process. In a news release, the Administrator says they have decided the service doesn't meet the requirements of the District and alternate approaches for service delivery are being considered.

RCMP services out of the Vernon Detachment won't be affected and Coldstream will be asking that volunteer programs like speed watch and citizen's on patrol continue to serve the community.

The Administrator says alternate approaches for service delivery are being considered and it won't affect any of the RCMP services the community receives out of the Vernon RCMP Detachment.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Race and America, as you've never heard it before -- by Andrew Coyne,

His white grandmother could love him, but confess her 'fear of black men on the street'

I have heard, or read, some great speeches on race in America — Bobby Kennedy's impromptu plea for peace, delivered from the back of a fi‚atbed truck in Indianapolis on the night Martin Luther King Jr. was killed; Bill Bradley taking the Senate to school the day after the Rodney King riots, slamming a bundle of pencils against the podium 56 times — the number of blows from police truncheons King endured — for emphasis ("pow! pow! pow!"); any one of a dozen of the Rev. King's speeches. And I have heard candidates, at pivotal moments in a campaign, find the words to confront their critics and defuse a crisis. But I do not think I have ever heard a speech that so adroitly combined the two — that placed both the crisis, and the campaign, in the larger context of race in America — as the speech Barack Obama delivered in Philadelphia Tuesday morning.

It was honest, it was brave, it was unusually personal, but most of all it was ... sensible. It was not "inspirational," in the singsong, cheerleading style of Obama's everyday campaign speeches. If it was inspiring, it was because it was so clearly predicated on a faith in the ability of the public to absorb a complex message — or rather, a message whose central theme, woven throughout, was of complexity: that life is complex, people are complex, the United States is complex. It succeeded, I think, not just in presenting a convincing account of his relationship with his former pastor, the race-baiting Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but even of turning the controversy to his advantage.

The threat to his candidacy was real enough. Wright's speeches, widely disseminated on the Net, were not just "controversial" or "incendiary," in the careful euphemisms of the polite press. They were paranoid, hate-filled compendiums of every conspiracy theory, racial grievance or blame-America-first sentiment that ever cropped up on a loony-left website. That Obama could have been so faithful a participant in this man's church for 20 years, that he could have given him such a central place in his life — baptizer of his children, inspiration of his books — was not something that could simply be dismissed as guilt by association. If it was a stretch to believe that Obama secretly, against all the evidence, harboured the same views, the case could be made that he was willing to consort with a racial extremist if it helped establish his political standing in the Chicago black community — at once undermining the twin appeals of his candidacy, both his personal authenticity and his post-racial message of reconciliation. Clearly, Obama had some explaining to do.

He began, fittingly given his setting, with the foundational paradox of American history: a constitution that proclaimed the equality of every citizen, yet was "stained by this nation's original sin of slavery." Another black leader might have dwelled on this contradiction. Instead, Obama focused on the impossibility of that tension remaining unresolved: the ideals in the constitution themselves planted the seeds of an inevitable progress toward greater equality — though not one that could be realized without generations of struggle and sacrifice.

If it had taken too long to see those gains realized, that helped to explain the anger of men of Rev. Wright's generation. Explain, but not excuse: Wright's mistake was not to speak about racism, but to believe that nothing had changed, that progress was impossible — to elevate "what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America." Indeed, Obama's own candidacy was, he implied, the most eloquent rebuke to Wright's pessimism.

This is the theme that runs throughout the speech, a relentless balancing of opposites, a pairing of contradictory ideas. The same Wright who could preach such bile from the pulpit was also the man who taught Obama faith and love, and his community self-reliance. Is it so impossible to believe, in that context, that Obama could love the man and hate his views? That he could condemn his sermons, without disowning him? No more than that his own white grandmother, the woman who helped raise him, could love him deeply, yet confess "her fear of black men who passed by her on the street."

So it was necessary to condemn such views, but also to understand where they came from — both at the same time, not one or the other, as partisans of the right or left tend to do. In the same way, it was not enough to dismiss white resentments, but also to understand white fears. If some demagogues had exploited black rage for political gain, others had done the same, many times over, with whites. That did not make either side's anger illegitimate. But in neither case was anger enough. Blacks were entitled to press for change, for better social services and against discrimination, but also to realize "our own complicity in our condition." Whites had a right to want safe streets without being accused of racism, but also had to understand the reality of black grievances.

In the end, what was most impressive was his steely disavowal of that trite strategy of a politician in trouble, the plea to be allowed to "move on." To the contrary: you want to talk about race, Obama challenged his critics? All right, let's talk about it. Move on? Let's dive in.


For a text of Barack Obama's speech please visit The Wall Street Journal


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Landing in the Rough With Trump -- by Michael Forbes

Apparently the debate between developers and those who oppose them is universal. This interesting article was brought to our attention by Katy Vella Pace. Thank you Katy! You can read the original article by clicking on the photo. Otherwise you can read it here.

"The Donald wants to build Europe's largest golf resort. Standing in his way is a burly Scotsman."

A quarter of a century ago, movie audiences were enchanted by Local Hero, a fable about the efforts of an American oil tycoon to buy the gorgeous Scottish fishing village of Ferness and turn its beach into a refinery site.

The young company man he dispatches to this wee town finds most of the residents eager to sell out. All that stands in the way of a deal is a stalwart old beachcomber, a man content with his whiskey, his wisdom, and his driftwood shack—in short, secure from the blandishments of consumer society.

A similar yarn is playing out on a scruff of hill and sand on the coastline north of Aberdeen, the prosperous hub of Scotland's North Sea oil trade. Here, in the bedroom community of Balmedie (population 2,000), Donald Trump hopes to build Europe's largest golf and housing resort.

The proposed $2 billion project has pitted local boosters and Scottish politicians against those who complain that Trump has tried to bully his way around the country's environmental laws. Still, with the project backed by Aberdeen's press, its business leaders, and much of its citizenry, passage seems increasingly likely.

The lone stumbling block may be Michael Forbes, a quarry worker who plays the Ferness beachcomber in the updated tale. The 55-year-old Forbes and his family have lived in a huddle of farm buildings behind the sand dunes for four decades. His 23-acre farm is encircled by Trump's proposed complex: The property borders the front nine holes and sits directly between the links and the hotel.

In Local Hero, the beachcomber blocks the ambitions of the tycoon by sheer folksy cussedness, which is pretty much the attitude Forbes has adopted toward Trump, whom he calls "Slippery Sam." P.G. Wodehouse could well have been describing Forbes when he wrote: "It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine."

Forbes refuses to sell his land. He prefers to remain on the ramshackle homestead he has named Mill of Menie, among broken tractor parts, battered junkers, rusting oilcans, and piles of discarded tires.

The burly Forbes wears a DUMP TRUMP pin on his jacket, and the most mischievous of grins. The front of his T-shirt reads: DON'T TRUMP ON THE PROTECTED DUNES. The back says: NO TRUMP.

"Slippery will have a giant red T flashing atop his hotel," he says. "On the roof of my shack, I intend to have my own flashing red letter: F, followed by a dash and O-F-F."

He says this from an easy chair in the sitting room of his mother's house, a yellow prefab bungalow—Forbes calls it a "chalet"—surrounded by roaming tribes of cats, geese, and cackling chickens. "To my mum, this place is paradise," he says. In fact, the word is inscribed on a plaque by the front door.

Amid this paradise, the main point of public contention over Trump's project has been mobile sand dunes that the government has declared a protected site. The Trump team has likened the dunes to giant sand slugs and wants to plant grass to stop them from drifting up the coast in rough weather. Conservation groups argue that such stabilization would do irreparable damage to the mobile dunes and the wildlife they contain.

"We always weigh economic impact against environmental sacrifice," says George Sorial, the Trump team's chief negotiator. "Critics have unfairly claimed that we'll destroy the dunes." In fact, he asserts, the developer merely wants to "modify" a small portion of one: "We're actually going to enhance it." And when it comes to enhancements, no one trumps Trump.

"Trump's logic—or lack of it—drives me demented," says Debra Storr, a Balmedie councillor. "If the sand dune can't move, it's no longer mobile, is it?"

By a single vote, an Aberdeenshire zoning board recently rejected the application of the New York developer, thereby infuriating the Scottish government, which stepped in and is expected to rule on the plans. "We hope all this will be resolved within three months," says Sorial.

Trump bought the 1,400-acre country property—a scenic old seaside shooting estate—for $10 million in March 2007. He envisions spas, a golf academy, a driving range, a conference center, 950 time-share units, dozens of golf villas, as many as 500 private homes, and an eight-story, 450-room Gothic hotel.

Sorial contends that the Trump International Golf Links will be a tremendous boon to the region, especially 30 years from now when the oil runs out. By his projections, the megadevelopment will generate 1,400 jobs and bring hundreds of millions of dollars in investments. Where those workers would come from is another matter: Aberdeenshire's unemployment rate—1.8 per cent—is among the lowest in Britain. (How would they get there if the oil runs out? The Eagle)

"People need to understand the impact this resort will have in terms of putting the northeast on the map," says project manager Neil Hobday. "If we're refused, nothing of this scope will ever come back to Scotland." (Hopefully! The Eagle.)

The centerpiece of the development would be two championship golf courses that Trump proclaims will be "the greatest in the world" and will one day attract the British Open. In the hallowed heart of the game—the home of St. Andrews, Royal Troon, Carnoustie, Muirfield, and Turnberry—some see this as laughable.

Trump International sits in a chilly, windy, rainy expanse with fog so thick and impenetrable that it has its own name, the Harr. "The kind of course Trump desires would be lovely in Florida or Dubai, where the sun is always shining," says Storr. "The golf season in Aberdeenshire is April to September, and even then, Gore-Tex is an essential part of your equipment."

Then again, some cynics believe the links are just a ruse. "This entire pantomime isn't about building a course—it's a marketing exercise in selling luxury homes," says Mickey Foote, a former producer for the punk-rock band the Clash, who is now spokesman for the anti-Trump group Sustainable Aberdeenshire. "Trump is really planning a wealthy town with a couple of courses attached."

As you might expect, Sorial disputes this notion. He insists the organization's intentions are strictly honorable. "Of course this is all about golf," he says. "Obviously the real estate is a part of the development. You have to justify the golf with a residential component to make the project financially viable. We've always been up front about this."

Golf, as it turns out, is anathema to Forbes, Trump's nemesis. "It's the one sport I've always detested," he says. "I can't see the fascination. And now, with this going on, I hate golf even more."

Forbes prefers fishing for salmon, as his father and grandfather did before him.

Years ago he and his dad netted 500 in a single day; last year he caught one all season. "Nowadays, the seals swim in too close," he more or less explains.

Life is slow and easy here in Mill of Menie. Time stands still. It's like Brigadoon, but without the curse. "I've never had a vacation," Forbes says. "That's how crazy I am about this place."

On this clear, sharp morning, the wind blusters low off the fields when Forbes dons his waders and stomps across the grasslands. "I walk the dunes every day," he says. "I see something new every day. Fox, roe deer, weasels, partridges, curlews, buzzards, owls, kestrels, skylarks, violets, wild purple hyacinths, sand lizards, thistles..." He insists Trump's resort would wreck everything wonderful about the place.

"Would I sell to Trump? No, never," Forbes says. "When this all began, I didn't care about the course, so long as it didn't damage the dunes. But the hotel and condos are something else again. Trump should build houses young married couples can afford, not for the rich. He won't listen, though. He thinks we're all a bunch of cabbages."

Last year, Trump visited Mill of Menie to talk turkey. Forbes sat with his wife, Sophie. His mum, Molly, served tea.

Trump told them that his late Scottish mother, Mary, came from the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides. "I want to build this resort as a testament to her," he said, according to Forbes. "From the moment I saw the dramatic dunes and rugged coastline, I was overwhelmed. I've never seen such an unspoiled seaside landscape."

"So why do you want to ruin it?" asked Molly.

Trump shrugged and turned to her son.

"Michael," he said. "What's your price?"

"Donald," said Forbes. "These 23 acres are not for sale."

"Everybody has a price."

"Well, you can make me an offer and see what I say."

Trump offered him $700,000, about what he plans to ask for a small vacation home on the property.

Forbes said, "What? I could build one house on my land and sell it for that."

According to Forbes, one of Trump's minions said, ominously: "We'll make sure that never happens."

Forbes was insulted and infuriated. "I thought, So that's the way you want to play it, is it?" he recalls.

Not long after the encounter, Forbes says a letter appeared under his front door: Trump had raised his offer to $900,000. Forbes wrote on the envelope, in large block letters, TAKE YOUR INSULT AND SHOVE IT. NOT FOR SALE. Then he mailed it back to Trump.

"That's when Donald and his people started kicking the stuffing out of their teddy bears," Forbes says. "A harassment campaign began." Legal letters arrived accusing him of damaging Trump's property; humane society inspectors appeared to check on his farm animals; police grilled him about an unlicensed shotgun. "I don't even own a gun," Forbes protests.

Without naming his prospective neighbor, Trump took his case to the media. "The area is in total disrepair," he told a TV crew. "Take a look at how badly maintained the piece of property is: It's disgusting. Rusty tractors, rusty oilcans—I actually asked him: ‘Are you doing this on purpose to try and make it look bad so I have to pay some more money?'"

Sorial says he has heard that Forbes would have settled for $2 million. "He's a very smart man, and he plays a very smart game," says Trump's man in Balmedie. "But his numbers are too high. We can only make an offer based on the current market value."

Forbes, says Sorial, is Caliban—enchanted at the idea of riches.

"That's lies, all lies," Forbes grumbles. "I've worked hard all my life to get this place and to keep it. Money means nothing to me. I've got everything I need. I'm not like Trump and his hangers-on. The only thing I've ever demanded was to be left in peace."

British businessman Tony Bowman, an ardent environmentalist, has offered Forbes more than $1.8 million for the land, just to block Trump's path. "Tony told me I could keep my home and live on the property as long as I wanted," Forbes said. "It was a nice gesture, but I'm still not selling."

Sorial says the Trump project will plow ahead—with or without Forbes' acreage. "We don't need his piece of land," he says. "But we at least want him to clean up his property, as a good neighbor."

On the other hand, Trump may be growing impatient. Sorial warns that if the government doesn't approve the bid soon "what was once a good deal can go sour." He hinted that the resort could be built somewhere else. Indeed, Trump has negotiated a six-month option to buy a sizeable spread on an alternate site in Northern Ireland. Sorial dismisses suggestions that the deal was timed to scare Scottish government officials.

Whatever happens, Forbes says he will be ready. "I plan to assemble a half-dozen hovercrafts and hold races along the edge of Trump's course," he says giddily. "I imagine the clatter will be spectacular."


Morning Star News -- Eagle's commentary

The dire warning coming more and more frequently from scientists seem to have little effect on the rapid development throughout the Okanagan. The rabid growth continues with a devil-may-care attitude.

We cannot blame the developers: they do what developers are supposed to do, try to make as much profit as possible. The politicians are the ones who are supposed to ensure that the taxpayers they represent are protected and their quality of life preserved. The taxpayers of the communities collectively decide how their communities are developed in the Official Community Plans. Once those plans are approved local governments are supposed to ensure that those goals, expressed in the plans, are carried out fairly and equitably.

Developers are just another segment of the taxpayers. They should be treated fairly but favoured over the interests of the rest of the population. They must obey the bylaws, policies and regulations set down by Councils. If those bylaws, policies and regulations are followed Councils do not have to even see the developers: staff can deal with the enforcements.

One major problem is that in order to make informed decisions politicians must have adequate data available with regards to water availability, air quality and the like. Unfortunately, those data are scarce and even when something like this water report becomes available it is treated with skepticism by those favouring development.

It is up to the taxpayers to voice their opinion because as long as remain silent politicians interpret that as tacit support. So let your opinion heard by your elected officials.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Reader's question-answer.

Question: why could we not just carry on with the present financing model as it is and borrow instead for the replacement of the lift stations?

Answer: while this sounds like a good idea there are financial consequences. However, if we continue with the present financial model any borrowing will necessitate either a tax increase or an additional sewer rate increase to cover the cost of borrowing. Using the proposed model the present rate covers the borrowing. No increase in taxes nor in rates need to be considered. The refurbished reserves would cover the necessary upgrades to infrastructure and maintain services.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

More sewer issues.

At the last Ratepayers Association meeting members requested that I present a comprehensive review of the sewage issue. This presentation is an attempt to comply with that request.

The above link will take you to a document on Coldstream’s website. That document contains my official complaint regarding the actions of Council of 2005 in extending the sewer trunk line from McClounie to Aberdeen Road at the expense of the existing sewer customers (Sewer Specified Area 1 or SSA1). It describes what the proper procedures should have been in establishing the Specified Sewer Area 2.

In response to my complaints there is a letter from R. B. Cockburn CA, Coldstream’s Auditor, stating that according to Mr Christopher Murdy, solicitor of Murdy & McAllister, the District of Coldstream acted within its authority with regards to the sewer extension.

Notwithstanding the fact that a solicitors opinion is not necessarily the final word (if it were there would be no court cases!), there are other issues besides the legality of Council’s actions. Council also has a moral obligation to be fair to ALL of its constituents. Council did not live up to its moral obligation.

Here are my major concerns in a nutshell:

1. The sewer trunk line from McClounie to Aberdeen Roads (a distance of over 1.5 km) was constructed mainly to benefit one developer. A sum of $665.000 was removed from SSA 1 Capital Reserve Fund to cover the cost of this project. The developer in turn connected to the first sewer line via a sewer line of his own through Mackie, Pine and Giles Drives (a distance of about 1.0 km).

No taxpayer should be forced to expend funds to pay for a project that is for the benefit of a developer.

2. In their rush to award the contract for the construction of the first line before the 2005 Municipal Election Council neglected to carry out their major duties of:
a. defining the boundaries of the specified area;
b. preparing detailed plans for the entire project;
c. obtaining support from residents abutting the sewer line extension (in fact most residents strenuously opposed the plan) ;
d. prepare proper financial plans, obtain grants;

e. obtain necessary concession from SSA1 customers for financing the project;

f. obtain concession from residents along the sewer lines to pay for the project.
As a result of Council’s action they seriously depleted both the Sewer Capital Reserve and eventually the Sewer Operating Fund. Their action jeopardizes the necessary replacement of lift stations and other capital projects. It also necessitates continuous major sewer rate increases to SSA1 customers. In 2007 and 2008 rate increases totaled $60 ($32 and $22 respectively).

Another result of their action is that 87 properties abutting the sewer extensions are now responsible for an annual tax levy of $97.54 for a sewer line they did not want and to which most of them are not connected.

Here is an IMPORTANT note: had we borrowed the funds from the Municipal Finance Authority the annual repayment for the $1,390,515 cost of the project would be under $120,000. The combined annual income from the 87 residents along the sewer line and the increase in sewer rates of SSA 1 customers amounts to just around $128,000. The annual repayment of borrowing the $1,390,515 is under $120,000.

What does this mean? It means that we did not need to spend reserves to finance the sewer extension. The sewer rate increases in SSA 1 and the tax levies in SSA 2 would more than cover the cost of financing the entire project through MFA. The way it is now the reserves are gone and SSA 1 customers have to repay it via ever increasing sewer rates.

My proposal would rectify this situation: the reserves would be restored and the rate increases and taxes would cover financing charges. Continued rate increases would not be necessary.

In order to elucidate the issue please click on the attachment.
Constructive comments, critiques and observations are welcome!


Selected articles -- MS, 2008-03-16

This is a trial run. Your comments would be appreciated. This appears to be neater but it would be good to know if the quality is acceptable.

Some good news! It's a beautiful morning in the neighbourhood!


Friday, March 14, 2008

Morning Star News -- Wesbild announcement surprises.

It appears that Greater Vernon Services do a lot of "erroring".

They "errored" when they wrote to the Agricultural Land Commission requesting the change of use for the Spicer Block.

They "errored" when they designed Master Water Plan #1. They "errored" when they designed MWP #2. They "errored"on the design and cost calculations for the Duteau Creek water treatment plant.

Now, to err is human, but to keep making error after error which is placing increasing burden on our finances is unforgivable. "We were trying to put this (agreement) together quickly and we errored" stated the Chair of GVSC. Perhaps taking the time planning our moves would save us some money on the long run and also ensure that plans are done properly. Should we try it?


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Readers write.

Here’s a thought for the assiduous readers of the ‘Coldstreamer’ website to consider. We need to find a replacement for Andy Danyliu as the now past president of Coldstream rate payers association, perhaps some of our readers might consider stepping forward to become a spokesperson for the association. The position is a lightning rod and involves receiving much abuse from the local press and irrate residents who might happen to vehemently disagree with any position the spokesperson might advance in opposition to the Coldstream Council in power. Heck, anybody with sufficiently strong ego defenses and a willingness to stand up in public to defend the interests of the people of Coldstream should be capable of doing the job. It’s a noble cause but not a fool’s job and I would expect there should be a surfeit of suitable applicants!

There have been some really excellent contributors to the Coldstreamer Blog and we would hope some of these people might step forward at our next ratepayers meeting to offer to volunteer their services. They might also consider running for council in the next election. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if some of the people who took a strong position against the Spicer Block sports complex, were to get elected to council and thereby obtained the power to insure that we wouldn’t have to fight a similar battle in the future or to have to fight other odious proposals coming out of a development crazed council catering largely to the business community. Haven’t we had enough development with it’s attendant, congestion, pollution and environmental degradation for now? Aren’t we feed up with outrageous tax increases to pay for the building binge and City Halls largess? Wouldn't it be nice for a change to have people other than the "old Boys", the Coldstream "mafia", and Chamber of Commerce cronies running Coldstream Civic affairs for a change? In order for this to happen, honest, well intentioned people will have to step up and serve! Don't we all have civic duties to attend to? Everybody can make a difference if they contribute.

Perhaps we could come up with a slate of candidates, who all share common values and have similar visions for the community, to run in the next civic election. The defeat of the Sports Complex was a watershed event but it remains uncompleted until we rout the advocates out of council! Only then is the battle really won and we can rest easy yet remain ever vigilant.

Perhaps we can have some discussion on this blog. What do you think?

Peter Peto


Readers write.

Okanagan Vernon NDP AGM - Corky Evans
For immediate release
March 12, 2008
Okanagan Vernon NDP AGM - Corky Evans
Local NDP members will select a new executive Friday, March 14th at
their AGM at the Halina Centre.
Corky Evans, MLA for Nelson-Creston & Opposition Critic for Agriculture
and Lands will be the guest speaker. Always interesting and sometimes
controversial, Corky is an articulate defender of rural and Interior
interests from urban British Columbia.
Vernon Mayor Wayne Lippert will open the meeting at 7.00pm, and local
federal NDP candidate Alice Brown will also be speaking.
-- 30 --
Contact for information:
Nick Hodge
250 542-4048
Alice Brown
250 379-2559


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Vernon vies for voice in governance report -- Richard Rolke -- Morning Star.

A substantial rift could be developing over the valley-wide governance process.

The City of Vernon wants the mayors of Vernon, Kelowna, Westside and Penticton to submit their own report to Community Services Minister Ida Chong because it has little faith that the governance task force’s report will actually reflect the views of the four large cities.

“I don’t want us to come across as bullies but we need to look after our taxpayers,” said Mayor Wayne Lippert.

The city’s primary concern is that the task force’s draft report will be authored by the chief administrative officers of the three existing regional districts and a ministry representative.

Coun. Juliette Cunningham questions whether employees of the regional districts can objectively look at other governance models.

“They are in a conflict. At our North Okanagan Regional District table, that CAO wants to preserve the status quo,” she said.

Lippert goes on to say that Central Okanagan Regional District’s administrator is retiring and the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District has an interim administrator.

“I am not sure if the depth is there to put a good report together,” he said.

The perception of Vernon council is the task force’s report may only reflect the view of electoral areas and small municipalities.

“We need to separate ourselves from this report. I don’t know how we can represent our taxpayers if anything remotely close to status quo remains,” said Coun. Pat Cochrane.

Coun. Barry Beardsell insists the four largest cities have not had a chance to put forward their views.

“This whole thing has been manipulated from a regional perspective,” he said.

Most members of Vernon council favour a single regional district for the entire Okanagan Valley.

Cochrane was among the most vocal to support the four cities taking a united position.

“Their report would represent 80 per cent of the population in the area. At some point, the majority must have its say,” he said.

But the governance task force’s vice-chairman disputes the City of Vernon’s concerns.

“There is nothing preventing any separate segment of the region from providing input. But to suggest our employees are not capable of putting forward an unbiased report is not correct,” said Jerry Oglow, NORD chairman and Armstrong mayor.

“What it (task force report) looks like, what it says is presumptuous on the City of Vernon’s part. I believe the CAOs and the ministry representative will collate the facts and simply outline what the consensus is of the majority of people who provided input during the process.”

And while the CAOs will develop the draft report, Oglow points out that the task force — made up of elected officials — will have the final say on its content.

I find it amazing. Here is a Council that craves for a valley wide, single regional district yet they have difficulty with NORD because they are not in control. In NORD they have 23% of the total membership and over 41% of the financial voting power. They would have much reduced power in a valley wide organization where Kelowna would be dictating the agenda. I am quite sure they would be very unhappy in a valley wide regional district.

Vernon Councils always preached cooperation. Unfortunately, their definition of cooperation was: do as I wish to achieve the Nirvana of cooperation otherwise you are considered uncooperative.

I have no objection of Vernon Council dictating to their own citizenry (obviously Vernon taxpayers sometimes do as demonstrated by the recent referendum result). However, every community that elected its own government and regional representative have their right to determine the direction their community wishes to go. If they are willing to pay for their government their future should be in their own hand.

The statement that NORD staff are
in a conflict is absurd, they are no more in conflict then Councillor Cunningham. NORD staff represent the area outside Vernon, Councillor Cunningham represents (hopefully!) the taxpayers of Vernon.

No matter what happens conflicts will not end!


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;


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.