Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bureaucrats Just Don't Get It


"We need to review and consider why there wasn't the political support," David Sewell, boss at RDNO was quoted as saying in today's paper ("Pressure placed on politicians", Morning Star).

Because politicians listened to their constituents, that's why!

This is two months since the $70 million water referendum was defeated.

Sewell needs to be told by politicians--who initially were nearly unanimous in favour of the Master Water Plan--what constituents have told elected officials:  We will not approve a plan that continues to put chlorinated water on acreages and farms--soon to be filtered water if bureaucrats' master water plan is allowed to proceed.

Sure, residents turned down the $70 million cost.
That was the lone question on the referendum.

But in so doing, residents also turned down the projects of the master water plan.

That's something the bureaucrats haven't yet gotten used to.
They probably listen only to each other.

"It's a shitty plan," offers Kia.

There.
Somebody had to say it.

 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

GVAC Directors Disappoint


Communication failure.
Deferring to bureaucrats.
GVAC directors are failing the public.

Imagine my surprise when--as part of my invoice from the District of Coldstream--last quarter 2014 water invoices arrived for my three water meters (residence, clubhouse and irrigation) and a new charge appeared on my Irrigation invoice:  $560.00 Unmetered Fire Main 150mm.

So what, you say?
Well, a refresher on the fire hydrant history is probably needed.

The last I heard, after I made a personal presentation to the Regional District of North Okanagan's Greater Vernon Advisory Committee back in September or early October, was GVAC chair Juliette Cunningham's comment about the "exorbitant" rate, and that the issue would be reviewed.

How idiotic of me to presume the exorbitant rate would be reviewed (and I would be advised of the outcome of the "exorbitant" rate) at the same time 2015 water rates were being considered by the Board!

Yes, the hydrant was a Development Permit requirement during the Highlands Golf planning stage.  Nobody ever said that there'd be an annual tax on the bloody thing.
And what for?
It's never been serviced by the RDNO; hell, they never so much as looked at it after they approved its installation as part of the DP approval.


So...it was:
"moved and seconded by Director Sawatzky and Alternate Director Garlick that it be recommended to the Board of Directors, staff be directed to bring forward all relevant information regarding private fire hydrant fees and to review what is done in other jurisdictions with recommendations and options for the committee to the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee" page 5 of 82 here.


Where's the "recommendations and options for the committee"?
Where are the minutes of GVAC's discussion on what they decided?
Bureaucrats likely were blunt in their suggestion:  "yes we screwed up, but now we have previously un-invoiced private hydrant owners to invoice...thanks to this applicant for 'procedural fairness'."

Look at it this way:
Also included in the DP was a Landscaping requirement, duly completed, along Highlands' roadfront.

"Expect an invoice for an annual tax on EVERY TREE/SHRUB that you planted," scoffs Kia.

The fact remains GVAC let me down.
This isn't the "procedural fairness" I was (rightly) requesting.

So did the District of Coldstream for not providing a letter stating under what authority the RDNO has now transferred the unmetered fire main invoice for $560.00 to the District.  To be fair, they probably don't have a clue.  They just do what the Regional District bureaucrats tell them to do.

GVAC communication failure?

There's still no justification of why the annual tax goes up by ~$100 each and every year.
And where is the discussion among Advisory Committee members?

"An invoice is how elected officials and bureaucrats communicate," offers Kia.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Water Usage vs. Allocation


In 2014, Highlands Golf used 2,819 cubic metres of water (including domestic use at the residence) on the property.

Our allocation is 10.0035 acres water = 22,275 cubic metres allowed annually.

Results over the last few years are as follows:

2011      2,986 cubic metres used    =    13.4% of allocation

2012      2,953 cubic metres used    =    13.2% of allocation

2013      3,162 cubic metres used    =    14.2% of allocation

2014      2,819 cubic metres used    =    12.7% of allocation

Costs?  2014 costs were $3,901.85, up from $3,343.92 in 2013.

Since 2008, water costs have increased by 219%.

In the 14 years since Highlands Golf opened, water costs have increased by approximately 400%.

"Thank goodness you didn't use that other 87.3 per cent of paid-up allocation," avows Kia.

Since no provision exists in Regional District water bylaws to refund (buy back) unused allocation, wonder who is using that 87.3 per cent?




Nobody's Sayin' Nothin'


Double negative, sure.
But the fact remains that following November's public rejection of the $70 million borrowing referendum of the Master Water Plan, there's been nada issued to the public.
Despite lots going on with the regional district's water/engineering department.

Lots going on?
Such as 2015 water rates?
Nope, not new water rates, despite public eagerness to find out what water rates will be as of April 1st, 2015.

Those who rely on the Morning Star to keep them informed of timely issues will be dismayed and disappointed in the newspaper's ability--indeed apparently, desire--to fill the perennially-vacant position of Devil's Advocate.   Rolke and Smith prefer to schmooze in safe territory.  Safe territory where the public is seldom warned of significant goings-on among the bureaucratic enclave.

Also silent is coin-toss winner Juliette Cunningham, a Vernon councillor, who fills the GVAC Chair role for her second term.






So if not new water rates, what's happening that the public needs to know'?

The Regional District of North Okanagan engineering department, still smarting from the slap of the failed referendum, have put demands forward to the beleaguered Greater Vernon Advisory Planning Committee, none of which even remotely resemble what the public wants:  that NO chlorinated--and proposed filtered--water is applied to farmlands, fallow acreages or golf courses.

Freshly re-armed after their lengthy--and compensated--Christmas/New Year's break, water engineers have come out swinging at the first GVAC meeting of the new year.  With no approved budget (as yet), they appear hell bent on "designed confusion" at the table.  And certainly with little explanation forthcoming, that the majority of directors (save perhaps three, in my opinion) see through the smoke 'n mirrors of the department's recommendations.

A succinct analogy may more accurately represent the decidedly dysfunctional relationship between professional engineers at the regional district and the elected members of the Advisory Committee:  two 12-year olds needing to get permission for their actions from two 6-year olds.
That in itself doesn't bode well, methinks.

Having not been warned of the continuing (and continual) need for diligence, the public continues to doze while water engineers have submitted the following requests in their typically-lengthy (this time 127 pages) agenda at this first meeting of the year:

1.  To expand on Thursday, January 8th story ($2,270,000 NOW), bureaucrats are requesting "Early Budget Approval" for these 5 projects, requested on page 2 of 127 here:

  • Claremont water utility $700,000.
  • Highway 6 water main replacement $660,000.
  • Pleasant Valley Road water main replacement $490,000.
  • Aberdeen low level outlet $400,000.
  • Bleach tank at Mission Hill water treatment plant $20,000.
Plus a conveniently Late Item, consisting of two heretofore unknown (to the public, anyway) plans:
  • Water Metering Improvement Program to install radio read meters;
  • Raise Aberdeen Dam including height for flood protection for Lumby and to support fisheries flows.
The last two are eligible for grants, and approval is sought to apply for the grants.
Engineering states:
  
"The Engineering Department has compiled a preliminary list of long-term capital projects required for the services that it manages and have identified two projects within the Greater Vernon Water (GVW) utility that best meet the criteria of the grants above. Other projects for other services managed by RDNO Engineering have also been identified, but they are generally smaller in scale and other grant funding sources have been identified that will be pursued for these projects."  

So it seems to the uninformed writer here that suddenly the Aberdeen Dam is eligible for (partial) grants because it mitigates Lumby flooding (which Lumby mayor Kevin Acton had requested for several years, all with no response) plus it protects fish.

That while residents not having sufficient access to reasonably-priced water to support our own activities was not eligible...ever.

Thanks!

Especially since the first grant opportunity...the New Building Canada Fund-Small Communities Fund allows for one-third funding from each Federal, Provincial and Local Governments.  Wait a minute.  That means we residents would kick in one-third the cost, so we pay...again.  And since our tax dollars also go to the Federal and Provincial governments, yup, we residents would've provided the two-thirds as well.



So let's look at the second grant "opportunity":  Strategic Priorities Fund.
It's a Federal program (so we contribute(d) to that) under renewed Gas Tax Agreement (so our gas taxes paid for that).  While this grant is up to 100% funding, we residents should be prepared to chip in more, especially when you consider how Engineering's quotes are so out to lunch, as is the vernacular.

Recalling the failed referendum in November, let's look at engineering's "preliminary list of long term capital projects":  Seems Greater Vernon Water spent $50,000 in 2014 to undertake a review of equipment, meter reading methods, compatibility and cost of software and equipment and purchase the equipment needed to collect meter readings with radio transmitters and install approximately 100 radio transmitters on RDNO meters that are classified as "difficult to read".
They spent $50,000 on that "review"?

Seems a hell of a lot of money just to review what amounts to basically paperwork they either already had in their files or could get by asking a supplier.  Presumably bureaucrats already get paid for every eight hours they're at work, so why was there $50,000 for a review?  Did people work overtime to do the review?  Why was there a need for $50,000 when hourly employees, presumably also paid, were already in place?

Why the heck are radio transmitters needed?  "Difficult to read" meters.  Why are they difficult to read?
Weren't they installed by GVW (to specifications) when the water meters were installed?  (Ours were, all three of them).  So why are they--today--difficult to read?  To make matters worse, GVW is looking at a 3 to 5 year term for a fixed radio read system, presumably for ALL water meters.

They state it costs $250,000 annually to read water meters.
Huh?

Are they suggesting to lay everyone off and have water meters mirror Hydro's smart meters?
Of course not!
Then what was the purpose of that information?  Filling the page?
 
Are you sitting down for the next revelation?
Turns out GVW says water meters over 15 years of age will likely need to be replaced!
PLUS:
A preliminary estimate for the full implementation of the Meter Improvement Program is
as follows:  Note that approximately only one-third is eligible for any grant!!!
• Infrastructural renewal portion (not eligible for grant)     $5,950,000.
• Remote reading equipment and fixed communication system  $2,400,000 (eligible portion $800,000.)

Where does engineering plan to find the two-thirds not covered by the grant?
Yup, you guessed it.
The $1.6 million will come from residents, whose tax dollars have ALSO funded the other grants (Federal, Provincial and Local).  Plus the amount we (will) pay for the 2015 water rates.

Is this the payback residents should expect for shooting down the borrowing referendum?


The ONLY item above even remotely connected (pun intended) to the failed referendum is raising the Aberdeen Dam, whose 2022 implementation is being fast-tracked because of the sudden grant eligibility as mentioned earlier.

While many residents would agree that the dam likely needs to be raised, it won't make water cheaper.  Nor will any additional volume be available to users. 

But it's the abject disparity between the MWP's planned Raising Aberdeen Dam cost in 2022 and what engineering is now proposing it will cost TODAY that will make residents gasp (as it did me).

The failed, but undead, Master Water Plan


Here's an example of how Engineering does their "quotes": 
Seven years from now, the MWP 2022 budget was $6.4 million to raise Aberdeen Dam 4 meters.

That plan for 2015 will now raise the dam by 5 meters.

Doing the work 7 years earlier at 2015 (un-inflated) costs,  4 meters would cost $6.5 million PLUS a further $3 million for the 5th meter of height for a total cost of $9.5 million...a One Hundred Forty-Six per cent increase over what Engineering said it would cost in seven years, but the work would be done now!

Based on that, I don't think it would be unreasonable, had the work waited until 2022, to believe their $6.4 million proposal would've probably been shy by 600 per cent!

No wonder no-one's sayin' anythin'.



"The public will hit the ceiling when they learn of this," warns Kia, adding "the GVAC Chair needs to each month provide a public statement to apprise people of what's happening at the table."

Sorry, Ms. Cunningham.
But Rolke or Smith could publish it in the Morning Star. 


Friday, January 9, 2015

Politicians' Continuing Myopia


Faced with "a future course of action (being) in limbo" with the November defeat of the $70 million borrowing referendum, GVAC director Mike Macnabb was today quoted in The Morning Star's story "No direction yet for water plan" as saying "We have to talk to the Interior Health Authority...and the provincial government".

Not their only mistake...
...but probably the first one of 2015.

MLA Eric Foster was already quoted as saying residents shouldn't rely on the provincial government to step in with money for health authority-mandated water upgrades. Nothing new there. 

And the health authority was recently quoted as saying they might not impose an Order to do the work.
Has anybody (other than Councillor Kiss) figured out that the health authority works for us?
Yes, they are to take direction from residents!
We said "no" and the health authority should back off...immediately.

So where does that leave the engineering department's plans to upgrade the water system so that not only chlorinated water is delivered as irrigation for farms and domestic use at residences, filtered water would now be delivered as irrigation for farms and domestic use of residences. 
Yes, hay and corn fields would soon be watered with BOTH chlorinated AND filtered water.

Dumbest idea ever.
And the public will have none of it!
Got it, politicians?

Then in another story in the same issue, there's a big hue and cry about how to improve safety at two admittedly dangerous intersections...Highway 97 at Birnie Road (the garbage dump turnoff south of the city) https://www.google.ca/maps/@50.2156049,-119.304136,519m/data=!3m1!1e3  , and Highway 97 at Stickle Road https://www.google.ca/maps/@50.2975703,-119.2548365,259m/data=!3m1!1e3

Sure, safety is a problem at both.

But politicians are blathering about confidential meetings with the Ministry of Transportation and the Regional District.  Probably so that they can all wring their hands and wonder what to do.  They'll probably have to strike another committee of stakeholders!

Why the hell--if safety is so important (and it is)--don't any of those people have the idea to fix it immediately.

How?  Easy peasy.

Especially Stickle Road (the Squires Pub and Art Knapp Nursery turnoff).
Construct barriers so that Stickle Road (both east and west) can only TURN RIGHT onto Hwy. 97.

No left turns permitted.

See?
Easy peasy.

That solution isn't quite as effective at Birnie road, but it is possible as an interim measure to ensure safety.
While the bureaucrats and ineffective politicians continue meeting to hash over their non-ideas.

Wikipedia defines myopia as "trying to see like a mole".


"...Nothing new in the North Okanagan in the New Year," admits Kia, pondering the ineffectiveness of both bureaucrats and politicians.

Accurately portrayed.
Move over bureaucrats to allow for politicians' likenesses.

Help Wanted:  Someone...anyone...with the cojones to tell engineers, consultants AND politicians what residents will and won't accept.

Prerequisite:  Eyes and Balls.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

RDNO Water Wants $2,270,000 NOW


...despite the failed water referendum?

Or is the money "in the bank"?

Today's Agenda for the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee includes a request "for early 2015 budget approval" for five projects that total $2,270,000. (Recommendations 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 here on page 2 of 127 pages).  The five projects are listed at the link provided.

GVAC directors are deliberating the request now...

"Are they putting the cart before the proverbial horse," muses Kia, "or were those projects not part of the Referendum question?"

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Satire Died Today


Freedom of speech is entrenched in the Constitutions of democracies.  At least where democracy is strong.  At least until now.

To honour satirical expression--and mourn its loss today--Coldstream Corner is reprinting in its entirety an anonymous document currently making internet email rounds:  






CANADIAN HEADLINES FROM THE YEAR 2050


Ozone created by electric cars now killing millions ....

White minorities still trying to have English recognized as Canada's third official language.

Children from two-parent, married, heterosexual families bullied in schools for being 'different'. Tolerance urged.

Brampton schoolgirl expelled for not wearing a Burqa: Sharia law must be enforced.

Japan announces that Japanese will no longer consume whale meat as whales are now extinct and workers in the scientific research fleet are unemployed.  Canadian Government has told the Japanese that Grey and Black Squirrels taste like whale meat.

Canada now has ten Universities of Political Correctness.  Professor Goldman Of U of T says there is still a long way to go in the fight to stop people 'saying what they think'.

Canada's deficit $20 trillion and rising. Government declares return to surplus in 100 years which is 300 years ahead of time. Prime Minister Mohammed Yousuf claims increased growth through more immigration is the secret to success.

Baby conceived naturally! Scientists stumped.

Iran still quarantined. Physicists estimate it will take at least ten more years before radioactivity decreases to safe levels.

Jose Manuel Rodriguez Bush says he will run for second term as US President in 2052.

Canada Post raises price of stamps to $28 and reduces mail delivery to Wednesdays only.

After a ten year $175.8 billion study, commissioned by the Liberal Party, scientists prove diet and exercise are the key to weight loss.

Average weight of a Canadian male drops to 252 lbs.

Supreme Court rules punishment of criminals violates their civil and human Rights. Victims to be held partly responsible for crime.

Average height of professional basketball players is now nine feet, seven inches.

New Canadian Liberal government law requires that all nail clippers, screwdrivers, fly swatters and rolled-up newspapers must be registered by January 2055 as lethal  weapons.

Revenue Canada sets lowest tax rate in decades at 75 per cent.

Toronto Maple Leafs won this year's Ontario Senior A cup final beating the Brampton Hindu Hornets  
4-1.


 

"You omitted something...that your hardhat has corners," grins Kia.


Je suis Charlie
Jesus Charlie

Monday, January 5, 2015

Latecomer to Public Opinion


He actually used the words "peer review might be possible".
Yesirreebob, that's what Coldstream mayor Jim Garlick was quoted as saying.

Councillor Gyula Kiss must be wondering why the contagion (of asking for a peer review) took so long to have an effect.

That was one of the comments of Coldstream mayor Jim Garlick in The Morning Star story January 4, 2015, with a few excerpts reprinted here.

Garlick theorized about why the public turned down the water referendum.
"Some were upset over the $70 million or using treated water on agricultural land."

Or?
Did he say "or"?

Read our lips, sir!
The public is upset, actually angry over BOTH the cost AND applying treated water to agricultural land.
Got it?
BOTH.

And the public will not approve...repeat...WILL NOT approve a minor tweaking of the master water plan.
We demand no chlorinated water be used on farm lands!

And heads should roll that the Duteau Creek Water Treatment Plant was built in the first place!
$29 million (of which $12 million was a Federal grant) has been wasted.

It could have been applied to increasing the capacity of the Mission Hill Water Treatment Plant so that it handles ALL domestic accounts.

Garlick added:  "...Greater Vernon Advisory Committee must find a model that meets the guidelines but is acceptable among taxpayers.  There is no way this will move forward without public support for borrowing.  We have to build public support, adding that a peer review of the plan's technical components could be possible."

That's right, mayor.
There is no way this will move forward...
...if chlorinated water continues to be applied to farm lands.

The public won't allow it!
So change it.



And, remember that it still can't cost $70 million.

...So the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee--the group that approved this doomed water plan after recommendation from engineers and consultants--is now tasked to find a new model? 

"Do you really think that the same people (GVAC) that engineers and consultants convinced to bring this to the public will find a new model?"

Kia is incredulous at the mayor's optimism.
And that it took him so long to realize what the public is upset about. 


Kitchener Gas Prices


Almost fell out of my comfy chair when I heard regular gas was at or below 87 cents a litre this weekend.  But not in Vernon of course.

http://www.cbc.ca/kitchener-waterloo/features/commute/

Here's a sampling of prices across the country:

http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/gas-canada/interactive-page.html

So...Vernon's at 102.9, with Centex in Coldstream at 101.9.

And, once again, Kamloops has the lowest price in the Interior at 91.9 per litre:

http://www.cbc.ca/bc/gasprices/

In the Okanagan, we're continuing to fee, well, discriminated against.


"The sunshine tax again," we're reminded by Kia.

The rate at which gas prices increase:





And the rate at which they decrease:



Snow-mageddon


Holy toodles.
This is the way winter used to be back in the 70's.
Snow started on Saturday and here it is Monday...hasn't quit snowing.

Buchanan Road was nigh impassable at dinner time last night.
Felt sorry for the folks who work afternoon and evening shifts in the service industry, as they'd have had a hell of a time driving home--or even TO work.

Surprised to NOT see local city ploughs out, getting a handle on the work, before snowlevels became too deep.  Crews must've been waiting for the snow to stop...well, city of Vernon and district of Coldstream, snow continued through the night and all day today so far!  Not wanting to brave Buchanan Hill last night, headed down Ricardo to access Highway 6.  At least that's level ground.

Highway 6 was brutal until two snowploughs, working the road in tandem, happened along.  An hour later on my return trip the road had six new inches of snow.




"It's difficult for a girl-dog to pee uphill," sniffs Kia.

Oh...and a dozen thorns for the total arsehole--obviously a four-wheel drive "expert"--who rode my bumper all the way home along Buchanan Road last night.

There's one on every street, it seems.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Councillor Kiss Stays On Topic


It's the benefit residents receive from "continuity" in politics.
Thank goodness he was re-elected.

A big thank you to him for getting residents out of their lazy Christmas holiday mode and back to reality with his letter to the editor, published December 31, 2014, printed after this preamble.

The majority of residents obviously share his opinion on the 2012 Master Water Plan's shortcomings, voting mid-November to defeat the $70 million referendum.

Had he not been re-elected, the lone voice in the area's water drama would've faded to black.
Likely the scenario that bureaucrats (and directors) at the Regional District of North Okanagan had secretly hoped for.

But did bureaucrats realize what the "no" vote meant?
Of course not, as they scramble -- hats in hand -- to Provincial bosses, feigning wounds from the voter attack.  They just don't get it!


Bureaucrats have yet to "get it" that the failed referendum is not just a denial of their plan to borrow $70 million, it means (...wait for it) that their six projects, as presented, are rejected and are not to proceed.

RDNO bureaucrats probably want to teach us all a lesson...and issue everyone a $1,000 invoice for the First Quarter 2015 water base fee/consumption.  Just to prove what the result of the failed borrowing referendum is.

Debt that would've simply compounded the initial problem.


OK, enough preamble.
Gyula Kiss' letter to the editor:

"Master Water Plan:  Early residents of the North Okanagan developed the Vernon Irrigation District system for irrigation.

It was perfectly capable of supplying all of its irrigation customers with agricultural-quality water.  It needed no alteration to satisfy irrigation needs.  A mistake was made when domestic water supply was connected to the irrigation system from the late 1960s to present.  It should have been obvious that domestic customers could only receive raw irrigation water through this system.

"This is just compounding the original mistake."
                          G.Kiss                                            

The remedy should be to have the domestic water customers separated from the irrigation (Duteau) system.  This was clearly stated in the master water plan 2002.  All domestic supply should be provided from the Mission Hill (Kalamalka Lake) treatment plant by extending that supply to the current Duteau Creek customers.

Instead, we have spent about $45 of $66 million (68 per cent) on altering the perfectly functioning irrigation system.  Even after this huge expenditure, the majority of the mixed system remains and the cost of water increased exponentially.  

"Duteau water is the most expensive to treat and most of that treated water is used for irrigation."
G.Kiss                                 

We are still delivering high-cost, treated water to both domestic and agriculture customers and our water rates have increased more than threefold since 2002.  We did not resolve the problem we intended to resolve, we made it more expensive.

The 2012 MWP proposed to spend an additional $58.3 million on further altering the irrigation system.  That would make the expenditure on the Duteau system a grand total of $103.3 million by 2022.  This is just compounding the original mistake.  Those funds should be spent on the total separation of the two systems.

The Duteau irrigation system should be left for agriculture.  The above sum is only for the initial infrastructure financing.  In addition, there are the annual treatment costs at Duteau Creek between $2 to 3 million.  Duteau water is the most expensive to treat and most of that treated water is used for irrigation.

There is also the maintenance and infrastructure replacement costs of the mixed water system and the new raw water system delivering untreated water directly to agriculture crops.  That is all paid for by the domestic customers.

Another problem is the competition for water in low snow pack years between irrigation and domestic customers. 

The Aberdeen source is supplied by small, shallow lakes totally dependent on annual snow and rainfall.  There were years when Grizzly Lake almost totally dried up.

In the meantime, there are unused water licenses on BX Creek that could be utilized from Okanagan Lake (more than nine million cubic metres).

One of the recommendations contained in MWP 2012 is to reserve 50,000 mega litres (50 million cubic metres) of water licenses on Okanagan Lake.

It is obvious that the final direction is to utilize Okanagan Lake as the main water source like Kelowna does.  If that happens, all of the investments in the Duteau system will become redundant.

The taxpayers expressed their opinion on the current MWP.  We must develop a new paradigm for our future water plan.  The new direction must come from the taxpayers through their elected representatives."
Gyula Kiss, Coldstream councillor


Fortunately, Gyula has support where it counts:  residents who voted down the referendum.
But he lacks support from even his own mayor, Coldstream's acclaimed (and self proclaimed pragmatic socialist) Jim Garlick and others on the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee.

Despite this:  "We want to reconfirm the objectives about what we hope to achieve with the plan," said David Sewell, chief administrative officer, RDNO, December 14, 2014.

So what'll it take to get the bureaucrats and other elected officials to change their opinions?
Probably a task not unlike that of a dissenting jurist...or judge.

"Dissenting opinions hold a unique place in our legal system. Practically speaking, they mean nothing. They are not the law, they hold no binding precedents, and rarely have any impact. Occasionally, a dissenting opinion will become vindicated by a future majority of the same court when attitudes or societal norms shift, however, this is rare. For the most part, they go unnoticed." 
2010 Albany Law School, Albany Law Review

But still worth doing.
Because common sense must prevail.

Residents are in charge, even though residents need to be occasionally reminded of that.

A few have written their own letters (excerpts follow):

"The new water rates in my opinion are nothing short of extortion for everyone in the Greater Vernon area."  (W.J. (Bill) Ridgway, published November 12/14).

"Surely a viable water supply is a necessity to Greater Vernon and should be a top priority".  (Brian Willows, December 7/14).

"Voters rejected the projects...a lot of people presented a lot of ideas which were not included in the very limited list of options that the water board had considered and then put forward to you.  Why were the terms of reference given to their experts so limited in scope?" (Dana Mills, December 21, 2014)

"Due to unfair and extreme hikes in water from the RDNO, I am outraged that 'they will look into this'!  (Sally Gorby, October 29/14).

"What has to happen is local government has to take the power away from Greater Vernon Water...some members of council more interested in getting free medical and dental benefits than looking after the people who elected them in the first place.  When your water bill for the year is higher than all of the taxes you pay on your house and another rate hike is forthcoming in November, hello GVAC chairperson, do you get the point?"  John Hegler, October 26/14).

"Kiss also notes that Interior Health rep Gordon Moseley has stated that if the (referendum) vote fails, upgrades won't necessarily be forced."  (Jennifer Smith, The Morning Star October 22/14).

"(Mayor) Garlick...approaching the provincial and federal government for funds to assist in (water) improvements, as well as taking a 'sober second look' at the plan."  (Jennifer Smith, The Morning Star November 19/14).

"Water rates could climb"...(Richard Rolke, The Morning Star, February 16/14)

"Water rates going higher" (Richard Rolke, The Morning Star, February 21/14).

"We are already paying $2 million a year for that plant up there (Duteau Creek), now they want $26.5." G.Kiss, February 14/14.

"Could the onerous water upgrades imposed by the Interior Health Authority have been appealed (at the UBCM convention" in September/14), October 2/13, Shawn Lee.





"Doesn't feel like a Happy New Year, does it?" notes Kia.


Anyway, thanks to Gyula Kiss for waking residents up...now if only we could achieve something before bureaucrats wake up from their lengthy (and well-paid) holiday slumbers.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

One More Resident Pens Disgust


Bob Patmore penned a letter to the editor of the Morning Star, succinctly expressing what everyone is feeling regarding water rates here:

"WATER WOES: 
In regard to your article about the Greater Vernon master water plan defeat, I can sure see why.

"...voters have lived their lives struggling to pay
their living expenses."
Bob Patmore

For a start, the authorities came down again, like Big Daddy, saying: 'We will do this for you.  All you have to do is grant us $70 million for our plans.'

The citizens of the area, still reeling from recent high expenditures, are saying, 'Enough is enough.'

And now, Eric Foster, MLA, points out that money will not likely be forthcoming from government coffers, as they are spending the money we have given them on locations where there are more voters.

He also includes a veiled threat to put in the water system anyway.  So then we would no doubt have to pay for it.  Thanks a lot Eric.

Many of our voters have lived their lives struggling to pay their living expenses.  A figure of $70 million for a water system is beyond our belief.  The suggestion by Gyula Kiss seems to make sense, and if we used more water from our lakes, we would not have the usual run off problems of muddy surface water from the creek."
                            Bob Patmore

"We should all be grateful to Gyula Kiss...he's encouraging us to think for ourselves...a good start," offers Kia. 

                                                                                              
Baaaaah, baaaaaah.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Choking on Vernon Gas Prices


Update: December 12, 2014:

Winfield gas price $1.039 while Vernon gas price $1.099
No wonder everybody shops south of Vernon!


THIS FROM DEC.10/14:
Sputtering, actually, in disgust that Vernon gas prices are still $1.179 a litre.

A barrel of oil today is listed at $60.94 on BNN.

Toronto gas price is $1.066
Halifax is $1.084
Calgary is $0.958
Edmonton is $0.88 a litre.

The Canadian average price is $1.07 a litre.

Click here to find the lowest gas prices.

"I suppose we're going to do some Christmas shopping in Kamloops," says Kia.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

RU 10 Disappears from Coldstream's DRAFT OCP


Well, hallelujah, if Coldstream's Official Community Plan--as presented to the Committee of the Whole at tomorrow's meeting--makes it.

And congratulations to the Coldstream Acreage Owners' Association, whose fierce opposition to the RU10/RU30 zoning was heard loud and clear by officials.

That doesn't usually equate to elected officials backing off, but perhaps it will this time.

It's only a draft...actually one of several begun over a year ago.

But the 72-page document dated December 3, 2014 appears to have axed RU10 wherever it previously appeared, though RU30 will remain.

 
It appears that Mayor and Council have ticked the "Responsive" and "Participatory" boxes.

"It's not written in stone yet," warns Kia, "so curb the ebullience."

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Penalty for Conserving Water


That's exactly what it amounts to.
A hit for using 20 per cent less water.
Compliments of Greater Vernon Water and the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee members that  approved Greater Vernon Water's rate sheets...yes, sheets (plural) (rates begin on page 9 of 14).  (Remember that the Black Mountain Irrigation District has ONE rate sheet, and it's double spaced).

Don Graham's letter to the editor was printed in the Morning Star December 5, 2014:

"I recently received my third quarter utility bill and the water cost portion of this bill is enormous.  

Last year when I received the same third quarter bill (which I also thought was enormous), I decided to do something about it and adjusted my water consumption, bringing my water usage down by almost 20 per cent.  

Guess what?  My bill this year was almost the same as last year!

A review of what has happened here has brought me some interesting results.  On March 19th, the Regional District of North Okanagan board approved a new tiered fee structure, including the infrastructure base fee, increasing the cost to domestic (residential users) by almost 20 per cent.
Yes, almost 20 per cent.

This in the face of inflationary guidelines of two per cent.  I guess the cost of water is not included in the calculations for inflation."
          Don Graham                                       




A timely water issue excerpt from The Rotarian, December 2014, issue:

"...I wondered whether maintaining and improving infrastructure is the right approach, and thought about the significance of flushing our toilets and watering our gardens with potable water.  In some countries, like China, tap water is not fit for human consumption or is of dubious quality, while potable water is delivered through water dispensers.  In places like Hong Kong, toilets are flushed with seawater, and potable water is delivered through a different set of pipes..."
Christian Kober (Shanghai, China)






"So...is improving infrastructure the right approach?" muses Kia.