Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Water Referendum Open House in Coldstream last night

Last night's presentation of the need for the $70 million referendum did not fetch any more interest than did the presentation at the Schubert Centre. For comparison I included photos of both attendance.

One thing I found quite interesting. When questioned about what would happen if the referendum failed, Interior Health representative stated that we would have to go back to the drawing board and see how the plan could be improved. That was exactly what some of the GVAC representatives promoted before the North Okanagan Regional District's Board of Directors approved the current plan.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Before you go to tonight's water referendum meeting take a look at this


For examples compare costs for users of 50, 100 and 150 cubic meters per quarter:

Greater Vernon:

Kelowna: (quarterly costs)
                    50------$  55.63

                  100------$  81.36


Water Referendum Open House in Coldstream tonight!

To provide information on the Greater Vernon Water Borrowing Referendum and the Master Water Plan priority projects, four open house sessions will be offered beginning in September. Please join RDNO staff at one of the following sessions:



The GVW open house begins at 5:00 p.m. with a presentation at 5:30 p.m., and a question and answer session to close the evening.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Morning Star Newsclips - In case you missed them.




Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Readers write - Coldstreamer responds

The following comments appeared in response to my blog posting entitled More interesting facts regarding the borrowing referendum”. It is an interesting comment so I wish to share it and my response with you.
Anonymous said...

    Who's counting? I am!

    Phase 1 of the (updated) 2012 Master Water Plan recommends that $70 millon in Priority Projects be completed over the next 7 years. By provincial law, GVW requires voter approval to borrow this much, so we are headed to a referendum this November.

    Back in 2004, Greater Vernon residents approved the long-term borrowing of $35 million to help fund water system improvements, including the construction of the Duteau Creek Treatment (Clarification) Plant.

    Over the past decade, a total of $66 million has been invested into our regional water system, of which $18.4 million was funded by provincial and federal grants.

    Let's flip this question around:
    Why WOULDN'T we invest in our regional water system? And... why wouldn't we vote YES to borrow the funds, keep rates as low as possible, and share those costs with all current and future customers?

    The RDNO website contains up-to-date information about our Master Water Plan and the upcoming referendum:

    - Water Vote 2014

    - Progress Since 2004

    September 24, 2014 at 1:34 PM

My response

I would agree with you 100% if I were a member of the consulting team or a member of staff recommending the approval of this referendum.

I do know that we will need money for a water plan but this is not the plan I would favour. You see I lost confidence in both the consultants and staff in 2004. Let me tell you why.

The first Master Water Plan was produced in 2002. It was hailed as the best plan ever prepared by the best water engineers of Canada. It was promoted by staff in the mall, at various public presentations and by politicians in political rallies. Everyone was quite happy and politicians promoting the plan were elected into office.
The MWP 2002 promoted total separation as the solution to the water distribution problems. A peer review group supported the plan and various agreements were signed by the participants based on the plans recommendations.

However, something political must have happened. The plan was abandoned and a new variation was promoted, a variation the original planners rejected as too expensive and senseless. They warned against treating water aimed for agricultural irrigation.

Nevertheless, an Amendment to the MWP was presented in 2004 and the Duteau Creek Water Treatment Plant was proposed. Consultants of the same firms now promoted the new version, staff made presentations at the mall (the same staff who earlier swore by the MWP 2002). Politicians embraced this new version as well and the DCWTP was born for almost $30 M.

One thing was missing: there were no plans provided as to what will happen next. When asked why they built this huge treatment plant at DC when we only needed a very small amount of water for domestic use the response was: we got grants for treatment plants but we did not get grants for separation. 

This is where the problem lies. We had no reasonable idea what will happen with this enormous plant (someone referred to it as a white elephant) when we continued with our plans. In fact, we are still in the planning process ten years later. But the albatross around the planners neck was that $30 million investment called DCWTP. It had to be incorporated into the new plans otherwise we would have had difficulties explaining the wasted expenditures.

As it is, we are losing a significant value of the plant as the new plan only requires much smaller volume of the treated (clarified) water for future filtration (110 cubic meters per day versus the maximum capability of the plant at 162cubic meters per day).

An added "benefit" of the clarification pant is the high annual clarification costs: in 2012 the cost was about $2.2 M. Most of the so clarified water was used for agricultural irrigation.

It would have been nice to share the costs with future users but of the $66 M expenditures to date $12.6 M came out directly from the pockets of current users as we had to pay about $1.4 M annually over and above the Government grants and the taxpayer approved $35 M. That is a huge burden. Used for servicing a loan it could have serviced an additional $12 M loan for MWP purposes. Instead it was spent never to be shared with future taxpayers.

As for keeping water rates low just check out the cost increases over the years as compared to the promised increases in 2004.


2004 referendum promises    


Actual water rate increases


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

More interesting facts regarding the borrowing referendum

The question on the ballots will be: 

Are you in favour of the Regional District of North Okanagan adopting Bylaw No. 2629, being "Greater Vernon Water 2012 Master Water Plan Phase 1 Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 2629, 2014" which authorizes the Regional District of North Okanagan to borrow an amount not to exceed SEVENTY MILLION DOLLARS ($70,000,000.00) for the purpose of paying the costs to plan, design and construct the Phase 1 projects of the of 2012 Greater Vernon Water Master Water Plan.

Obviously, there is an extra "of" in the wording and it would be easy to correct. However, it cannot be corrected because:  
"The question was established by Bylaw (2628) – and that is the correct wording. "
Perhaps that is the problem with the MWP itself as well. Once it's approved by the Board no man can change it.

The other interesting part of the question is that it keeps referring to Phase 1. Below is a table from the 2004 Addendum identifying the various phases of the Master Water Plan. According to that table the current phase is Phase 2. Oh well, who is counting?

Note also the estimated costs: $35 M phase 1 + $53.60 M phase 2 total of $88.6 . Reality if the referendum is approved: $66 M plus $70 M = $136 M. The next phase, whatever that is called, will require a currently estimated $41 M more. Grand total barring additional unexpected costs: $177 M, a tidy some for irrigating agricultural crops.


Greens make history in New Brunswick

Green Party of Canada

Greens make history in New Brunswick

(Ottawa) September 23, 2014 – Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands, today congratulates David Coon, Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick, on his historic win in the New Brunswick provincial election. 

David Coon has won his seat in the riding of Fredericton South, defeating PC incumbent Craig Leonard, the province’s former Minister of Energy, to become the second-ever Green to win a seat in a Canadian provincial legislature. The New Brunswick Greens also increased their share of the popular vote by almost 50% over the 2010 election, with strong third-place finishes throughout the province.

"With David Coon's historic win, we now have Green MLAs on both coasts and Green MPs in Ottawa,” said Ms. May. “The Green Party's growth is now beyond doubt, but yesterday's win is David's triumph. He is enormously thoughtful, ethical, caring and will bring much-needed civility to the NB Legislature. This election showed that voting Green is not a protest vote – Voting Green is a vote for something you want."

“Throughout this campaign, the Greens showed that they were a party of strong principles and bold ideas for the future of the province," said Green Deputy Leader Bruce Hyer, MP for Thunder Bay–Superior North. “David Coon offered New Brunswickers a meaningful alternative to an economy based on fracking and clear-cutting, and all his hard work and dedication have paid off. This victory is an important step forward for New Brunswick and for Greens across Canada.”


Coldstream Launches New Communication Initiatives



Monday, September 22, 2014

Garden waste days at Coldstream transfer station.

For your information!


GMO - the doctors speak! Watch the show today!

The popular Dr. Oz TV Show airing today Monday Sept. 22, features the dangers of GMO crops and their toxic pesticides - see a preview and please share this widely.

Seems something has to hit popular culture for people to believe it. Maybe this will do it.
The show will air at 5 PM on Cable 5, CTV. Click on the image for a sneak preview!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Unsolicited comments for the Borrowing Referendum.

As mentioned before my opinion is that borrowed funds for water infrastructure costs should be repaid through general taxation just like any other infrastructure loan. It is more justifiable to use taxation for water infrastructure than it is to use it for ice rinks or performing art centres because our homes water infrastructure is directly connected to municipal infrastructure unlike he above mentioned facilities.

In 2004 the majority of taxpayers approved the borrowing of $35 million. The annual cost of servicing that loan is about $2.45 million or a mill rate of about 0.25. A property worth $400,000 would pay a tax of  $125 annually. 

Did you know that to impose a tax of $399.20 your property would have to be worth about $1,600,000?

Why do I say it is a tax? It's because the $399.20 base fee (tax)  is not related to either unit cost of water nor to property value. You pay it regardless of what your property value is or how much water you consume, if any.

This is a unique idea of a user pay system where one user pays $104.80 for 10 cubic meters of water for a unit cost of $10.48 while another pays $242.30 for 100 cubic meters for a unit cost of $2.42. At the same time we are encouraging customers to lower their usage so they would get a bonus of further rate increases.

Industrial, Commercial and Institutional customers also pay the base fee but only pay $1.50 per cubic meter even though their water fees are part of doing business and are tax deductible. 

Furthermore grazing lands, hay fields, fruit and other crops enjoy the same quality water with less restriction than domestic customers and at a fraction of the price at about $0.07 per cubic meters.

This is another reason to support the $70 million borrowing referendum. We will have the pleasure of paying even more unfair water rates in the future!


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.