Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Invitation -- Greater Vernon Advocates.

Hello all,

Consider this a personal invitation to come out and socialize with some like-minded neighbours. Maria and I are involved in the formation of 2 societies that will, hopefully (rezonation permitting), be able to operate out of this beautiful property on the lagoon. I promise I won't ask you to take on any tasks ....we are simply looking for input/advice/experience . We want to start up a kayak/canoe club, and also a society to promote sustainable uses of the lake, and protect this gem for future generations. Also we've enlisted the Kal Senior Jazz band and will raise some funds for their endeavors with a BBQ. Hope to see you , and feel free to send this email onto any friends of the lake.

Greg Ockert.


Hospital Petition.

All residents of Coldstream are encouraged to sign the Hospital Petition. Locally you can sign the Petition at the Municipal Hall. Alternately you can download and print the Petition from this site, circulate it among your neighbours and return completed forms to the Municipality.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Report to Council regarding rate reduction and sewer policies.

Note: The Appendices are presented in the previous posting under the title "Appendices for sewer report". I cannot post tables except as "jpeg" images and the appendices are in that format. You could print those images and use them as references when reading the text.

Submission to Council - re: sewer policies.

Executive summary.

A report is presented to Council for their sewer policy discussions.

1. 2008 rates could be reduced to $470.00 annually while still providing over $80,000 for reserves.

2. A case is made for policies to “pay as you go” instead of accumulating large surpluses at current taxpayers’ expense.

3. Two user pay models are presented for Council’s consideration.

4. Policies relating to multi-family dwellings should be revisited.

5. Inclusion of huge costs for building use ($95,227) in calculating base costs is questionable and should be revisited by Council.


There was much debate regarding the cost of the sewer line for Sewer Specified Area 2 (SSA 2). It is unquestionable that the majority of the expenditure of this construction was paid by SSA 1 customers (111%). Regardless to whom the Capital Reserve Funds belonged, it is SSA 1 customers who are forced to pay for the new system by having to replenish the lost reserve funds. Their sewer rates for the past three years reflect these extra costs. Appendix 1 illustrates the surplus collected by the District over the past three years. This is in addition to the pre-existing surplus.

Since 2005 SSA 1 customers paid over $490,000 towards the replacement of the spent reserves (the difference between revenues and costs). This year’s budget intends to produce a further surplus of $316,000, additional money out of the pockets of SSA 1 customers.

Here is where I urge Council to take action and reduce the financial burden on sewer customers. A second look proved successful for the tax reduction, it should work well for the sewer rate reduction as well. There is plenty of room to reduce the rates to $470.00.

Appendix 2 depicts the City of Vernon’s historical budgets and fund requisitions from Coldstream for sewer treatment and disposal. Unit costs for each year ($/m3) are calculated by summing the total treatment and disposal costs (i.e. treatment costs, pump stations, effluent disposal, capital costs and debt costs) and dividing it with the total sewage volume (last year the unit cost was $1.14862772840881). Based on Coldstream’s contribution of 446,864 m3 they requisitioned $513,280.00 in 2007.

Appendix 3 demonstrates the calculation of the District’s fixed costs. All data were taken from the report to Council by the Director of Financial Services. The only alterations made were the removal of $266,654 as that was part of the City’s bill and not a legitimate expense for Coldstream’s basic cost. The City does not bill separately for capital debt. It is included in the total bill which is based on the volume of sewage received from Coldstream by the treatment facility.

The other
change is the replacement of the capital replacement/enhancement of $150,000 by more reasonable sum of $85,275 which is 25% of the annual fixed costs. The resulting Annual base cost ($426,475) is divided among the households (2012) connected to the sewer system resulting in $212.00 annual cost per household. In fact, this sum should be paid by all residents along existing sewer lines. The operation and maintenance of the system should be the responsibility of all residents who are eligible to connect. Presently there are probably over 2100 residents along existing sewer lines.

Currently the sewer fees are basically parcel taxes on sewer customers. Every customer pays the same. Calculation of this year’s sewer fees is simple. The budgeted requisition by Vernon from Coldstream is $515,771.00 for 2008. The total of the annual base cost of $426,475 plus the City’s request of $515,771 total $942,246. This sum divided by 2012 (the number of households) results in $470.0
0. Individual households should only pay $470.00 ($117.50 quarterly) in 2008. This would still provide a healthy surplus of nearly $90,000. Added to the existing reserves of between $500,000-$600,000 we should be well healed for now. The infrastructure for SSA 2 is paid for (from reserves), the OBWB is contributing $17,158.74 and the SSA 2 parcel taxes provide $8,485.98 (a total of $25,644.72) annually to the capital reserve. You can and should reduce the financial burden on the long suffering SSA 1 customers.

The Director of Finance indicated to me that her philosophy is to set aside significant reserves for the future replacement of infrastructure. I strongly believe that this is the wrong approach. The alternative of borrowing for infrastructure replacement costs and financing through taxation (parcel or general taxation) is much easier and more desirable on taxpayers.

The financing costs for every $1,000,000 borrowed is about $75,000 annually. For instance, if we borrowed the $1,390,515.00 for the new sewer system, annual repayment would have been $104,288.63 or about $48.00 per old customer. If we also included the OBWB grant payments of $17,158.74 then the payments would have been reduced to $78,943.91 or about $40.00 per old sewer customer.

A less unfair solution would have been if all households in Coldstream were required to contribute in which case the per household payment would have been about $20.00 annually. In any case, the reserves would have been intact and could be used for lift station replacements and other urgent needs. An example is presented below.
As can be seen a major opportunity was lost of retaining the surplus for other uses (lift stations, etc.) and still maintaining minimal additions to sewer fees (instead of the $60.00 added in 2007 and 2008).

Accumulating large reserves place a heavy burden on present customers who may never see any benefit of such reserves. They also provide unnecessary temptation for future Councils to search for excuses to use these reserves for other than their intended purposes.


My next comments relate to the user pay method of fee payment Council adopted for implementation in 2009. Council is commended for finally addressing this issue as fees for service should reflect the value of service provided. Those producing more sewage that must be treated and disposed should pay more for the service.

However, a user pay system must be realistic and reflect actual realities. The model must represent the true cost of the service to each customer. Personal feelings have no place in determining the fee structure and implementation time table. Council expressed reservation on introducing the system quickly as being too harsh on customers used to be paying lower fees. Councilors should temper their emotions by the fact that the present system is extremely unfair to customers contributing minimum volumes to the sewer system and paying through the nose.

The City of Vernon is not harbouring such sentiments. Below is the sewer rates used by Vernon.

* Sewer Base Fee of $47.79 per quarter per residence (20 m3)

* Metered Sewer @ $2.39 per cubic meter in excess of 20 m3 (based on Jan-Mar water consumption).

* This rate is adjusted the first quarter each year and remains the same through the fourth quarter billing.

* Flat rate sewer $68.75 in addition to the Sewer Base Fee.

The implications of this schedule is shown in Appendix 4. A single occupant pays $191.16 (if consumption stays at or below 80 m3 per year). A family of 6 might be looking at a fee of up to $1,032.44 annually ($258.11 quarterly). Actual fees depend on water consumption during the first quarter.

We could easily adopt the same system. Appendix 5 is a model based on Vernon’s model but using 2008 data for demonstration purposes (although Council could opt to implement it in 2008). Estimated costs are tabulated based on family sizes.

Our total costs (base costs plus treatment and disposal) estimated at $942,246 (see above). Total anticipated sewage volumes are given as 426,252 m3, thus, unit costs are calculated to be $2.22. Assuming 100 m3 per annuum as the base minimum cost would be $222.00 ($55.50 quarterly). A family of 6 would expect to pay $955.90 ($238 quarterly. Vernon’s rates would be $1,032.44 annually). While it looks quite high I wish to remind Council that water rates already recognize that larger families must pay more.

An alternate model (Appendix 5a) might also be considered but less equitable. Here the base cost of $ 426,475 is divided by all sewer customers, connected or not but paying the parcel taxes and would also pay their share of the base taxes (estimated 2100 households). This sum is estimated to be $203.00. Total sewer volumes multiplied by the unit cost by Vernon ($1.122) plus the calculated base cost of $203.00 provide the annual fee per household. The tabulation estimates annual costs based on family sizes.

Council is reminded that treatment and disposal costs are the same for all sewage. Thus, multiple family units should pay the same fee for the volume of sewage they produce as do single family dwellings. Policies relating to multiple dwelling should be revised.

Although my study accepted most of the data presented by the Director of Finance for the Base costs I do wonder if it is necessary to include some of the building costs in the sewer base costs of $95,227. I would have considered these costs coming from general revenue paid by all of us. However, it is up to Council to decide how they treat this subject. Having been charged for a sewer system from which I have no benefit whatsoever I thought some of these costs included in the base cost calculations are somewhat petty.

I have spent considerable time on this study and I hope Council will treat it as a serious submission for their deliberations.

Respectfully submitted:

Gyula Kiss


I assume all sewage customers are interested in reducing sewer rates. Those with larger number of dependents must realize that equal rates to all households are unjust. However, if we can convince Council that unrealistically high reserves are not in our interest and providing reasonably priced services is their duty.

Your comments are welcome.

The Eagle


Monday, April 28, 2008

Appendices for sewer report.


Petition, Vernon Jubilee Hospital

APRIL 28, 2008
New locations: Armstrong City Hall, Spallumacheen Municipal Hall, Vernon City Hall, Shepherd's Hardware in Armstrong, Armstrong Bakeryand Pleasant Valley Quilting (Armstrong), Towne Cinema (Vernon).
Previous: Vernon medical clinics, doctors’ offices and pharmaciesthroughout the North Okanagan-Shswap, Butcher Boys, The Falkland Store,Coldstream Municipal Hall, the Lumby Pharmacy, Halina Centre, Askew’sArmstrong, Enderby Credit Union, North Valley Echo, Enderby IDAPharmacy, Ashton Creek Store and many more.
Outdoor signing at Buy-Low Foods (OKanagan Landing Plaza) and Schubert Centre in Vernon from May 5 to May 24 (except Sundays) 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
The Vernon & Districts Taxpayers' Association would appreciate any coverage you can give the petition for funding equity at Vernon Jubilee Hospital. Attached is an information flyer for posting and distribution as well as the petition. Completed petitions can be mailed to 6272 Old Kamloops Road, Vernon BC V1H 1P8.
Contact: Tony Stamboulieh 250-260-1082


Council meeting -- 2008-04-28


AT 7:00 PM



a. O’Keefe Ranch Request for Letter of Support

Mr. Drennan, President, and Mr. Danyk, General Manager, will be

in attendance to speak to this matter.

b. Request to Waive Building Permit Fees

Mr. Garry Molitwenik, Executive Director of NOCLS will be in attendance to speak to this matter.

c. Request for Special Burning Permit

9802 Buchanan Road (Lindskoog)
There may be persons in attendance to speak to this matter.

d. Building Permit 2008-005, 8801 Mariposa Place, Coldstream and the Resulting Impacts
Mr. Bob Schultz will be in attendance to speak to this matter.

e. Non-Compliance with RAR Requirements, 5840 Highway 6

There may be persons in attendance to speak to this matter.

f. Development Variance Permit Application No. 08-007-DVP,

Lot 31, Plan KAP75931, 600 Mt. Ida Drive (Lopes/Chang)
There may be persons in attendance to speak to this matter.

g. Development Variance Permit Application No. 08-006-DVP,

Lot A, District Lot 20 and Section 23, Township 9, ODYD,
Plan KAP58678 (Except Plans KAP62292, KAP65639,
KAP72266, KAP74564, and KAP76946), from the end of
Cortland Place to 200 meters west (Highlands Phase 10)
There may be persons in attendance to speak to this matter.


Friday, April 25, 2008

MP denies wrongdoing over expenses -- By Richard Rolke

Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes defends campaign spending during the last federal election.

It’s alleged that the Conservative Party spent $1 million more than the $18 million national campaign limit in the 2006 election. Party headquarters in Ottawa were recently raided by the RCMP and Elections Canada officials.

“We have nothing to hide,” said Mayes.

Under legislation, national parties can provide funds to individual candidates, but the money must be used for local campaigns and not the national one.

Prior to the end of the 2006 election, the party transferred money to 67 candidates who had not reached their individual limits. That money was then transferred back to the party for national advertising.

The ads ran in local markets mentioning the local candidates.

It’s alleged by Elections Canada that this was an attempt to circumvent the national spending limit.

However, Mayes disagrees with that interpretation.

“It would be good if we left it to a judge to decide the interpretation of the act,” he said, adding that other parties have also taken similar action during previous elections.

“I really do believe the (Conservative) party has followed common practice.”

Financial reports filed with Elections Canada show that the Conservative Party transferred $9,989 into Mayes’ campaign Jan. 13, 2006. On Jan. 16, there was a $10,029 transfer out of Mayes’ campaign account.

Mayes says financial decisions were handled by his campaign team and he was not aware of the $9,989 transfer into his account.

“My official agent or campaign manager didn’t make me aware of this,” he said.

In terms of the $10,029, Mayes insists that money originated from donations and there was a request from the national party for funds.

“We forwarded funds to help other constituencies that were under-funded.”

Wayne McGrath, Mayes’ campaign manager, confirms that he was contacted by the national party.

“They explained that it was possible to have another $10,000 for the campaign. They said we’d have to send another $10,000 back and it would go to pay for advertising. It would go towards our maximum spending limit,” he said.

McGrath admits that he and others within the campaign team had some reservations.

“I simply didn’t know if it was possible to receive money from the national party and use it for local campaigns. But it was determined that the money could transfer back and forth,” he said.

McGrath says Mayes was part of those discussions.

“We were part of a committee and he was part of the committee. He certainly agreed with it,” said McGrath.

McGrath believes Election Canada’s allegations are unfounded.

“The party is on sound legal grounds. As the prime minister said, it’s a matter of interpretation of where the advertising had to go,” he said.

Other parties are taking issue with Mayes’ comments.

“The local NDP campaign did not transfer money to the national party, and then claim it as a local advertising expense,” said Jeff Mellows, the NDP’s financial agent during the 2006 election.

“Funds received by the Alice Brown campaign were all spent here on the local campaign.”

Elections Canada is being sued by the Conservative Party for denying the advertising expenses of local candidates.


Expansion plan inadequate

The recent public forum conducted at the Schubert Centre, which was led by Dr. Hamish Hwang, presented physician’s concerns regarding the planned Vernon Jubilee Hospital expansion. I am writing to reiterate those concerns.

Expansion of Vernon Jubilee Hospital is great news for the patients as well as the hospital staff. As a physician working at VJH, I am looking forward to the day the wing opens — when we have access to the increased outpatient space and new operating rooms. However, the current proposed expansion is inadequate.

Vernon Jubilee Hospital currently has four operating rooms which cannot provide adequate facility for timely patient elective and emergency care. The current official number of in-hospital beds is 125. There are an additional 16 beds that are not funded and have been opened since last summer, raising the total count to 137. Even with these unfunded beds, the hospital remains over census almost daily and code purple (meaning the hospital is in gridlock and diversions are necessary) is a daily scenario at Vernon Jubilee Hospital. Between March 27 and April 16, code purple was called 15 times (15 days of gridlock).

Why is it that the new building that will be erected at VJH will not potentially improve the current situation? The presentation by Dr. Hwang explained many of the potential reasons. The bottom line is simple.

We need additional in-patient hospital beds and an increased number of functioning operating rooms to address the current patient demands let alone plan for the future. While more chronic care beds (non-acute beds) are required and will be made available by the initiatives undertaken by Interior Health Authority (IHA), these alone will not address the daily shortage of acute-care beds encountered. Currently no increase in inpatients beds has been guaranteed. Similarly, the current plan is to open only four operating rooms and one more limited outpatient operating room in the new tower. Physicians are asking for five operating rooms to be opened immediately and provision for further operating room expansion made.

When the Liberal government came into power in B.C., administrative structure of health care distribution in this province was changed.

Small health care regions were amalgamated to form large regional health authorities. In the Interior, multiple health regions were amalgamated under the new structure of IHA. IHA provides health care across a vast geographic area servicing 750,000 people. It manages 34 acute-care hospitals and triple that number of residential care facilities and public health care units.

When IHA region was created, an external consulting firm was hired (Sullivan Consulting) to conduct an operational review of health care service provision. This took place in 2003. As a result of that review, IHA developed a strategic plan to improve health care access across the health region. This included structural review of the facilities as well as functional management of the facilities and, in some cases, centralization or expansion of services.

A waiting list registry was developed and implemented to allow for improved tracking and management of patients waiting for surgery. Neurosurgical program expansion took place at Kelowna and Kamloops hospitals. At VJH, spinal surgery program was funded while at all major hospitals the rate of total joint replacement surgery doubled.

Vascular and thoracic surgery program was created at KGH and in the near future heart surgery will be done in Kelowna as well. These are great accomplishments.

At the same time, it became apparent that many hospitals required expansion of physical space, as well as services. A plan was put forward and carried out in a logical sequence to address these needs.

At Vernon Jubilee Hospital, physician input was sought and group meetings took place between the IHA, consulting architect firms, physicians and other health care workers to come up with a plan for hospital expansion.

This was done in response to structural review of the current physical plant.

A plan was put forth to build a new building which would include additional operating rooms, increased size of emergency room, new outpatient clinics and new paediatric/obstetric hospital ward.

However, the North Okanagan area continued to grow at an unprecedented rate. The planned expansion of the hospital did not account for the increasing volume of aging population.

While the strategic steps for the proposed hospital expansion were taken years ago and will bear fruit in the near future, VJH’s acute-care bed shortage may remain unresolved. IHA has an opportunity to respond to this challenge (as it has to many others since its inception) by increasing the number of acute-care beds and operating rooms as required today.

It can add an additional floor on top of the tower, to be built where the new inpatient hospital ward can be placed. It can open up acute-care beds in the old hospital wing.

Immediate opening of five operating rooms can be planned. But above all, it must acknowledge the current acute-care bed crisis and commit required resources to address it now.

I hope IHA intervenes quickly and incorporates the required changes before the new hospital wing is built. This would insure an immediate improvement of patients’ access to medical care in our community and ensure the future access as well.

It would be a great shame if the $81 million dollar VJH expansion took place only to have patients seen and admitted into hallways and scheduled surgical cases cancelled because of ongoing shortage of acute-care beds and OR space.

Jan B. Splawinski,

Ortho and spinal surgeon,

IHA Surgical Council member


Thursday, April 24, 2008

For your information.

Signing locations for Hospital Petition.


What does 'Code Purple' at Vernon Jubilee Hospital mean? It means there are too many patients who need the 125 acute care beds and that means not only the beds, but all the staff that care for the patients in those beds. At the VJH Code Purple is a more than frequent state with the average patients in acute care beds per day being 132. Last Monday VJH declared Code Purple, and the on call doctor, after doing 3 operations, had to send a fourth patient with appendicitis to Salmon Arm because there were so many patients in hallways that he was told it wouldn't be safe to do the operation as there was no place for the patient to recover afterwards. This was at 1:00 am in the morning.

The Vernon and Districts Taxpayers' Association urges people to sign and circulate the petition to Gordon Campbell's government to increase funding for acute care beds, operating rooms and permanent nursing staff.

Individuals, groups and businesses in the North Okanagan - Shuswap are urged to put out petitions in their locations. The Association can be emailed: or contacted at 250- 260-1082.

At present, these are the signing locations: medical clinics, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, Butcher Boys, The Falkland Store, Coldstream municipal office and more locations throughout the North Okanagan - Shuswap to come.

Thanks to all the individuals who have volunteered to collect signatures.

Contact: Tony Stamboulieh 250 - 309 - 7488 or 250-260-1082


Cloned sniffer dogs.

The world is going to the dogs (sniffer dogs, that is)! For your information. story image


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Cure cancer and burn salt water at the same time.

Here is a fascinating video that you might like to watch. Burning salt water!? Comments?


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

GVSC meeting -- 2008-04-17.

Greater Vernon Services Committee had its monthly regular meeting this morning. Here are a couple of highlights(?) of the meeting.

Jack Borden appeared before the committee on behalf of Coldstream Meadows (CM) and requested significant refund of their water and parks DDC's. His justification was that they are a congregate care facility and therefore they are justified elimination of those DCC's. I just wonder if this claim is approved will CM refund the portion of the DCC's to customers who have already purchased their units.
Next th
e Rare Earth Jazz and Blues Festival representatives proposed a concert for the August long weekend at the Kin Race Tracks. Directors appeared to receive the proposal favourably but final decision will be made later.

You will be thrilled to know that the water rates are now 80 cents per cubic meter with an additional flat rate of $27.63 per quarter ($110.52 per year). Take a look at comparative water rates in Penticton, Kelowna and Greater Vernon. Penticton appears to be comparable but Kelowna's rates are very progressive as they increase rates with increased consumption.

Sewer rates I could only find for Kelowna and, as expected it's a "bit lower" than it is in Coldstream (about a third of Coldstream rates).


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.