Friday, July 16, 2010

Selected Articles - Morning Star News - July 14, 2010 - and the response.

Response from Mayor Garlick:

As mayor of Coldstream, I am writing in response to Mr. Rolke’s column "Beyond the Headlines – Get on the Bus Gus" with regard to my requesting information in order to make a decision on whether or not to support an additional bus to UBCO. Since Mr Rolke never interviewed me and the reporter Mr Knox, who did, had only a short time to speak, I would like to fill in the gaps of this story. Coldstream Council is taking steps to determine if the additional UBCO bus is justified because we will bear responsibility for this decision, not Mr. Rolke. Our decision will depend on a number of factors beyond how many users of the UBCO bus are from Coldstream.

Firstly, Coldstream is faced with the possibility of our other partners in the Transit service not supporting the additional bus. If Coldstream and Vernon go it alone due to other partners pulling out of the service, our increase will not be the $3,600 alluded to by Mr. Rolke, but just over $11,000. This will be in addition to cost increases due to other proposed transit service enhancements which will result in an increase from our current cost of about $103, 000 to about $147, 000 annually with no added services. This will be a 1.16% tax increase to our residents. We have to decide at what cost we are willing to support this service and its benefits to Coldstream.

Next, I personally want to have some confidence that the UBCO bus line operates somewhat efficiently. It makes no sense to simply fund transit because it sounds environmentally friendly when in fact it may not be. I do not support large empty buses traveling down our roads. Coldstream does not have a high population density. We want the opportunity to work with BC Transit to set up routes that will make the best of a bad situation. We provide bussing more out of convenience to some of our residents rather than environmental or sustainability factors. If costs are found to be too high this could lead to reducing our already limited transit service within Coldstream to support the UBCO bus.

Finally, I am not convinced that this push to fund an additional transit bus is without unintended, negative side effects. We have our own Okanagan College sitting in Coldstream. In speaking to John Lent from the college I was told that Okanagan College has been asking for a transit bus to pick up students after evening classes with no results. Why would we not try and improve the bussing to our local college first? I would also like to know how many students attending UBCO are simply in their first and second years of university. Courses at this level are also being offered at Okanagan College. Do we need to send these students all the way to Kelowna? Are we unintentionally creating a drain of students away from our local college? Should we not support Okanagan College to provide even more programs? This could result in Okanagan College becoming an even more successful local post secondary educational facility where young people can attend.

I and my council are trying to make the best decision and make transit work in some form for Coldstream. Before we get on any bus, as Mr. Rolke suggests, we will check the fare to see if we can afford it and determine if this is the right bus to get on in order to arrive at where we want to go.

It is advisable to interview the subject of one's article to ensure all facts are presented!


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About Me

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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.