Monday, March 31, 2014

Readers write - Coldstream and regional partners getting gamed?

My, my, my, Vernon receives $2 million dollars from the casino, and what do Vernon's regional partners get? A big fat zero!
How does this work Vernon?
Surely, patrons of the casino who live outside Vernon have an expectation that our "contribution" to the casino would benefit us too.  Be warned sister communities, this is how Amalgo-land will look. Vernon promises to be a black hole into which Provincial gaming grants, regional taxes and energy will flow.  Vernon recreational and cultural facilities, service providers and businesses are  the primary recipients of disposable, and non-disposable non-Vernon boonie-bucks. 
Moreover, the spirit of lottery funding suggests that gaming income ought to be used to enrich the cultural and community life of the communities that are home to casinos and the like. Vernon, has gone against this spirit, streaming the money into utilitarian Vernon infrastructure such as roads. 
Is there anything stopping one of Vernon's regional partners from allowing a casino to call them home? We'd share with our sister communities wouldn't we?  As for Vernon, we could leave them to play their own "games"...
The municipality of View Royal near Victoria has a casino and shares the revenue it receives with the Capital Regional district and it goes towards libraries and parks not roads.
Some links:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Morning Star newsclips - in case you missed them.

 For an interesting reply visit Reader replies!


Friday, March 21, 2014

Readers write - When is a user, not a user?

When is a user, not a user?
--> Or: wha's wrong with our money dudes?
Letter to Editor, Morning Star: "The A Word". Herb Thorburn: re Coldstream and BX residents not paying our "fair" share:
File this under: 
"Bull-pate": Why does the Morning Star publish uninformed comments which omit well-published facts?... And, who does it serve ;) ?
"Shaming":  Raising the "U" word, as in: the bumpkins take unfair advantage of their long-suffering "Caretaker".
"Duh": Why, oh why, would I want a Vernon based Mayor and council responsible for MY community?
"Identity/pride": Coldstream luuuv, or how the Amalgos have challenged me to go into deep reflection about what our community means to me (my  brief survey of Coldstream treats and treasures down the page...sans history making icons, community leaders and historical events: ie: Mayor Garlick's Rembrance Day photographic display revealing a mostly unknown Coldstreamer contribution to the Canadian military).

I so enjoy this comment for its rich comedic value: "Coldstream and BX have few commercial outlets. No significant grocery stores, no big box stores, no hardware and building supply stores, few eating places and few if any doctors, dentists and other professionals."
Yup, wouldn't the amalgos just love it if businesses,  or non-profits for that matter, ached to migrate to Bumpkinville?, by which I mean: they know they'd take a blistering fiscal hit if could shop locally (I'd love to ride my two-wheeled thingy to shop).
So, let's get real: if only I could almost exclusively shop closer to home-- why would I spend time and gas money to be engulfed by an over-riding, spirit-killing ugliness to shop in the land of micro-beaches (don't blink as you pass), strip malls, pawn shops, tattoo and piercing parlours, asphalt-smothered treeless parking lots, peeling paint,  tired, kitchy street art, an environment built for vehicles, chain stores, gas stations and liquor outlets? (I know you're trying Vernon but sheesh, what's up with the Soviet-style shabby rec centre and the "planned" new and less improved, Visitor Preventer?).
Vernon merchants and service providers depend on dollars spent by their regional customers, and the Vernon tax base in turn, depends on the tax dollars contributed by its merchants. Simple, non?
"We use your roads" (we. being the bumpkins): Ya, how else would we spend money in the Big Smoke or get to our regional hospital?  And, don't forget that we plug Vernon's hungry, restless parking meters:  a shopper turn-off, only  the most devious of anti-business minds could devise.  
Street lights? We know about street lights, we have to obey them too...Ahem, do you use a hover-craft or fly when you come to Coldstream?"
Coldstream roads are travelled by many visitors (whom I welcome when they don't speed)--a few of their destinations:
Kal Beach, Farmer Val's: beloved farm tours, birthday parties, weddings and Christmas Nativity, hay from Johnson's on Cosens Bay Road...
A newish, thriving pre-school in the Town Centre...the tennis courts, the Lagoon...
Remembrance Day service and refreshments , Halloween spook-fest-dazzling fire-works and magical Christmas Light-Up at our Community church (an event, which,  without the dedicated, ultra-fabulous  Coldstream VOLUNTEER Fire Department likely would die: a la Okanagan Landing Halloween fireworks celebration)...
A place of deep repose, beauty and history: Coldstream Cemetary...
Coldstream Ranch, where Lord and Lady Aberdeen planted the first orchard in the Okanagan. And they even grew hops, and that is a story on its own...
Lavington yoga, churches, Friesens,  Kal Park, lumber sales: recycled, or not (Meyers), Coldstream Willows Nursery, events and Friday Farmer's Market at the Women's Institute, Alexander's, awesome golf at two stunning courses, popular garage sales,  Mackie House special events, farmgate sales, and Coldstream's FIRST organic orchard, Zelaney's, made famous on BC Almanac, White's Christmas tree farm, RV sales, a charming specialty natural soap and cosmetic boutique in Lavington, leafy summer weddings in Coldstream Creek Park, artists and artisans, hairdressers, massage therapists, Coldstream Riding Club, welders, mechanics, feed store and tack shop at highway six and Aberdeen...there's much more, please add to this impressive list...
And ya know, most of our parking is freeeeeee!!!!
Well, as for Coldstream being a bastion of past and present privilege, well that is a little wishful hyperbole? Agricultural and other workers built this community with their toil. Many in our community have silently bust a backside for a crust, here or out of town. Half a dozen, a dozen!  neighbours on my little street work far away, leaving family behind. Take a stroll through our subdivisions, and REALLY look. Note the secondary suite mortgage helpers. Notice the shabby homes, and neglected, parched drab yards. Do you think the renters have a Platinum Card? My  guess is that food bank use is a silent  necessity for some Coldstream taxpayers who have fallen behind because of the mega-project aficionados. btw Coldstreamers always step-up to help our food banks.
We all pay for the same luxury-water infrastructure, no Vernon passport needed to empty our wallets....
We all contribute to parks, rec, library, hospital etc, no Vernon passport needed to empty our wallets....
And...and maybe file this under:  "What happens when you get too popular, and what I really dread":  the motorized craft cacophony, and the boatish dog-beach bogarts. 
Don't entice us to flirt with your business tax base: luring them with cut-rate taxes, or making a proposal to annex the College...
... And, btw: hey Ikea, hey Costco....


Anyone interested?



The cost of domestic water from Duteau Creek WTP.

In 2012, the latest data available, the treatment of one cubic meter of water at Duteau Creek cost an average of $0.118. However, only about 15% of this water was for domestic consumption. Thus, one cubic meter of domestic water cost about $0.79. In 2014 domestic customers are required to absorb the cost of repairing the Haddo Lake dam at a cost of $2 million. This will increase the cost of domestic water from DCWTP to $2.30 per cubic meter.

As long as the domestic and irrigation water will remain mixed these kind of expenses will recur generally at the domestic customers' expense. 


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Water rates for 2014 - a review and an alternate proposal.

Regional District Directors will be approving 2014 water rates at their meeting tomorrow (see Agenda, pages 31-32).

RDNO staff developed a curious, complicated system to determine water rates as depicted below.

This is supposed to be a user pay system but it really is not. Note that the total revenue required is $18,600,000. Agriculture water rates contribute $904,452.00. Other revenues contribute $600,000. The remaining revenue of $17,095,548 must be contributed by domestic, industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) customers. Total number of customers: 24,000. GVW estimates total water sales of 5,373,250 cubic meters.

Based on the figures presented above the cost to produce 1 cubic meter (m3) of water is $17,095,548 divided by 5,373,250 which is about $3.182 per m3. So any customer who pays less than that is being subsidized by someone else.

Since it is obvious that everyone should pitch in a nominal amount to maintain the system we must provide a base fee. However, this fee should have some connection to the unit cost of water otherwise it is arbitrary and depends on the whims of bureaucrats what that fee should be. The proposed base fee of $99.80 has no realistic base. An empty lot must contribute nearly $400 without ever using a drop of water. The various tiers have no logical basis for their fees either. Even the highest tier “E” is far from the real cost of water ($3.19) and therefore it is ineffective in controlling usage. It only allows high volume users to be subsidized by low volume users.

An alternative would be to use a reasonable base fee that everyone should contribute. In fact, an average user uses about 5 m3 of water monthly or 15 m3 quarterly. We could increase this volume to 20 m3 like the City of Vernon is doing with sewage. However, they are only doing that because sewage cannot be measured accurately (at this time, although dual meters to measure indoors and outdoors could rectify this problem) so they build in a margin of error at 20 m3.

Assuming we select 20 m3 as the base any customer who uses 20 m3 per quarter would be charged $63.80. Any additional m3 would be charged at $3.19. This system is the least unfair to low users and totally fair to everyone else.

Try it! Compare rates proposed by GVW to the proposal presented here. Remember, your usage is 20 m3 or less in any quarter your bill is $63.80. If your usage is more multiply the volume by $3.19 (i.e. 35 m3 X 3.19=$111.65 as compared to GVW’s $133.30). Once quarterly consumption reaches 50 m3 the proposed rate will increase consumption costs but it will always be the actual cost of the water used.

Arguments against the real user pay system include the fear that it would hit ICI customers too hard. In fact, they would just start paying the cost of their water. It would be unfair to customers with agricultural allocation but no agricultural production but that could be eliminated by total separation and ensuring that all customers with allocation will get their untreated water at agricultural rates.

Other arguments are based on fear that these rates might discourage customers from using more water. Was not the tier based system supposed to encourage that? In fact it did and as a consequence we have been short of revenues to the tune of over $3 million in the last three years. Yet we persist with the same failing method of revenue calculations.

If the current system anticipates a usage shortfall of 5%, all we have to do is multiply the originally expected volume usage by 0.95 and all the other figures fall into place as shown by the next figure.

Note that the unit cost increased to $3.24 and the base fee increased to $64.73.

At a 10% consumption decrease the values would change to $3.54 and the base fee would increase to $70.70 still below the current GVW proposal.

If the GVW model anticipated similar decreases in usage a whole sale change in values would have to take place and, as usual, the flat fee would go through the roof.

Comments are invited.         


Monday, March 17, 2014

Sunday, March 16, 2014

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.