Sunday, May 29, 2016

Open Season on Aggressive Blackbirds


We've always tried to nurture nature and its creatures here at Highlands Golf.

But enough is enough.

After years and years of tolerating--albeit barely--throngs of these birds pooping on patio tables and chairs, harassing swimmers in our pool, dive-bombing our 14 year old dog or anyone trying to mow a lawn, or even myself while sitting quietly on the residence patio while trying to enjoy an early morning coffee, recent observations have led to a commitment of war with them.

Those recent observations include their increased aggression towards other nesting birds here, including Orioles and Bluebirds, Sandpipers (Killdeer) and Mourning Doves.  The last straw was when their numbers increased so quickly and radically that they've now taken over the nest tree of hummingbirds in front of the clubhouse.  They even dive-bomb golfers teeing off on number 1!

A male Brewer's blackbird.  They are indeed as mean-spirited as they appear...

Some people call the Brewer's blackbird a Starling.  Perhaps they're related, perhaps not.  But apart from the damage that starlings do to tree crops such as cherries and peaches, I don't recall starlings ever dive-bombing people.

Similar species are the following: 
The real "clincher" for me was when a golfer told me these aggressive birds often lay an egg in another bird species' nest!  How's that for guaranteeing a brood.

And speaking of broods, the many many we have here are now mating to create their second brood of the spring...all the while the birds they've been terrorizing are still trying to rebuild damaged nests and maintain a clutch of viable eggs.

So what are we going to do?

We'll phone a friend who is an accomplished marksman with a pellet gun...

And, despite my love of all things nature, I won't bat an eyelash as he hits his mark.
Hopefully time and again.

"We can get back to friendly skies," offers Kia, "if blackbirds discover it painful to hassle adults, children, pets, and other valuable birds here."


Read more about birds here.




Friday, May 27, 2016

Putting Off Until Tomorrow What Should Have Been Done Yesterday


...or more precisely, in 2002.
That was when the 2002 Master Water Plan recommended separating agricultural lines from domestic water lines.

And you can bet that the reason ("very expensive to separate ag lines") is a moot point.
They seem to believe it might, by some miracle, be cheaper in years to come.

Really?
Wow!

It was with considerable interest this letter to the Morning Star editor was read today:


"Water plan approval detailed:

"As a member of the Greater Vernon Stakeholder Advisory Committee, I was a bit taken aback to read that it was suggested we had 'rubber stamped' the recommendations of the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee's master water plan.

Following the failed $70 million referendum on the 2012 MWP, GVAC and the Regional District of North Okanagan decided to form a stakeholder advisory committee to perform an independent review of all options considered in the MWP, as opposed to bearing the cost of yet another set of plans and engineers.

This SAC was made up of representatives from the business community, agriculture and the hospital.  In addition, several residential representatives were on board, including some with engineering backgrounds.  Years of experience was brought to the table with this committee, a representation of Greater Vernon.

The committee has met for the past eight months, often as much as three times a month.  We have had the benefit of engineers taking us through each option of the MWP, in addition to discussing the viability of new options.  We also had presentations from the financial officers involved in the MWP, furthering our understanding of the financial process with respect to costs, grants and future rates.

In addition, members of Interior Health educated us all on the legislation regarding our water quality and the required steps still needed to achieve that quality.

Our committee worked as one unit and in small groups.  We asked many questions and, yes, had more than one heated debate regarding what would be the most viable option for the MWP.  The majority of us came to this committee with open minds, hoping to understand the MWP in its entirety and to ensure RDNO chooses the most viable and cost-effective water plan for all of its users, including business, agriculture and residential.

In eight months of going through virtually the same process GVAC went through in rating the various MWP options, this committee, with totally different backgrounds, has also recommended the same option for the MWP.

Without going into the details of the process, this option was recommended for a number of reasons.  Total separation is cost prohibitive, with those options costing upwards of $50 million more than the recommended option.  While applied for, RDNO does not actually have the necessary water licenses on Okanagan Lake.  The MWP must address our needs now and the foreseeable future and cannot base a MWP on an option relying on a water source which we don't have adequate water licences for.

The option we recommended (also in 2012 MWP) has partial separation with the potential to fully separate the systems if that avenue ever becomes viable cost wise. (bold emphasis by blog author)  In addition, the recommended option has the ability to incorporate less costly treatment options should they become acceptable.  This option also has the highest benefit to cost based on life cycle costs.

Two treatment facilities allows for greater redundancy and ensures our area can avoid any boil water advisories and meet the required, by law, water quality standards of Interior Health.

So, yes, this committee did give our stamp, which was one of approval and not rubber."
          Monique Hubbs-Michiel


Separation of agricultural lines ... might be cheaper tomorrow?

 "She DID say not everyone on SAC was an engineer," suggests Kia.

That's obvious.


Besides, if ag lines were separated from domestic lines, who would pay for the maintenance of agricultural water lines?  Certainly not agriculture!

So they need domestic customers to keep paying for agriculture to put chlorinated--and soon to be filtered--water on crops and farmlands!




Saturday, May 21, 2016

SAC Recommendation to GVAC


What does it mean?

Well, the following is an anonymous comment that dissects what the Stakeholders' Advisory Committee is going to recommend to GVAC and, presumably, have GVAC recommend to the Board of the Regional District:

* For 20% of domestic water supply,
we'll spend tons of money
to treat agricultural irrigation water
for the next 40-50 or more years!

* We'll spend $3.5 million to increase the
size of the agriculture main...in case
we do total separation
 which of course will never happen
(due to costs)!

*We gamble on a
 small watershed competing with agriculture
to supply 20% of domestic water
for those
who never paid for the domestic supply.



So, how will 1,000 signatories to the CCMWP petition react?  
How about the ~8,000 people who voted "NO" in the water referendum?  Ooops, reduce that number by the number of politicians who swore they also did not support the $70 million borrowing referendum!  You no doubt remember who they are.
Many people will remember at the next election.





"So the SAC windup is more accurately called the SAC blowup," offers Kia.

Yessireebob.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Help for the Monarchs is at the Roadsides


I've today sent a request to the District of Coldstream to help us protect the Monarch butterflies.
There's a plant, unflatteringly called Milkweed, that makes up a group of plants that these beautiful butterflies need to complete their lifecycle.

Monarch Butterfly


The important plant grows wild below the east and west of 8123 Buchanan Road...but unfortunately the area is mowed by the District of Coldstream contractor to help motorists' visibility when travelling the road.
I believe these stands should be protected.

Visibility is most important near road intersections, not necessarily a straight stretch.

Here's the stand:

Looking west, below 8123 Buchanan Road


There's a symbiotic relationship, as Monarch butterflies need the milkweed's particular nectar to complete a part of their life cycle, including the laying of eggs.
This site is very very informative.  

So help is available.
But only if we don't mow the stands, which are approaching their bloom stage now.

At Highlands Golf, we have a milkweed variety called Asclepias growing near the little pond at the clubhouse.  These plants are a favourite of Monarchs as well, and the real benefit is that--while they do self-seed--they never become invasive.  In successive years, two or three more plants will pop up within a 20-foot area.

Here's a photo of Asclepias:



The District of Coldstream has submitted my request to Mike Pethick, their Public Works Foreman.

Hopefully Mike will see the benefit to advising their mowing contractors.
Thanks in advance, Mike, for caring.

Oh...and look at the gorgeous Swallowtail Butterfly on the petunias yesterday!


Not a Monarch, but a Swallowtail Butterfly, just as lovely!

With everyone's help, these beauties can grace our yards and provide hours of amazement for our grandchildren.

"Please protect all Milkweed plants," asks Kia.

Yes indeed.
It's worth it!


Foregone Conclusion


It wasn't unexpected.
But members of Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan and area water customers are pleased that the results have come with a twist.

The last SAC meeting concluded this week with committee recommendations to GVAC, which will likely be adopted and forwarded to the RDNO Board, that include a few things that would not have occurred had CCMWP not responded to 1,000 signatories who opposed water rates under GVW, not to mention the majority of residents who denied a $70 million borrowing referendum in November of 2014.

The items SAC recommended -- that vary from bureaucrats' and consultants' original plan -- are:
  • the east Coldstream partial separation of agricultural from domestic water will eventually lead to additional separation.
  • filtration is recommended to proceed at Mission Hill Water Treatment Plant first, and then at Duteau Creek (following the hoped-for deferral or exclusion at Duteau).
  • a role for the public may continue as the master water plan unfolds.
Naturally, bureaucrats and GVAC sitting politicians will put pressure on Interior Health because they all want filtration to proceed first at Duteau.  That is expected (by many people) to occur behind closed doors, as have many of the decisions and manipulations and biases since the referendum failed.  Including discussions on how to remove Gyula Kiss, the 2012 MWP's nemesis, from having his opposition published, meeting after meeting.

Even Interior Health should know how irate the public is.
Ignore the public wish at your peril.
Considerable quality improvements can be made to the upland water source simply by getting off their butts and supporting government agencies who can stop mud-boggers, illegal campers without bio-toilets, etc. etc. from contaminating our water source.

So will there be another referendum?
Sitting politicians don't want a two-peat (repeat) failure; neither does GVW.  Apparently, "funds could also come from reserves and existing revenue", as reported in the article reprinted below.

Word has it that there's $19 million in reserves...plus the ever-increasing rates.
GVW would do well to start using the reserves, as existing customers are already tired of paying for the area's future customers. 

Here's the Morning Star story today:

"Master water plan moves ahead", by Rolke:

Greater Vernon's master water plan has overcome a major hurdle.

On Wednesday, members of a stakeholders advisory committee unanimously agreed to recommended(sic) a direction on the master water plan to the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee.

'It's the most viable option,' said Monique Hubbs-Michiel, a SAC member. 
The group has recommended that Duteau Creek and Kalamalka Lake be maintained as drinking water sources and that two treatment plants remain.  It also wants partial separation of agricultural land from treated water primarily in eastern Coldstream.

GVAC is also being urged to proceed with filtration at the Mission Hill treatment plant before the Duteau Creek facility.

Terry Mooney, a SAC member, levelled criticism at the process Wednesday but ultimately he raised his hand in favour of the final recommendation.

'There's no point in opposing it because the majority of the committee decided otherwise,' said Mooney, who represented Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan.

'I didn't achieve 100 per cent of the objectives my group wanted, but it's headed in the right direction."
Mooney is pleased there will be a role for the public as the master water plan unfolds.

The Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan had pushed for a peer (blog:  professional consultant) review of the water plan, but that request was denied by the SAC.

'I've looked through all of the numbers and I don't see anyone magically coming up with another conclusion," said Don Gibbs, SAC member.

The full scope of the master water plan is about $108 million over 50 years but the cost could depend on factors such as government grants and filtration being deferred or not occurring at Duteau. While a referendum is possible, funds could also come from reserves and existing revenue.

The SAC recommendation will now go to GVAC for consideration and finally to the Regional District of North Okanagan board.

Jim Garlick, SAC chairperson, is confident that the process will continue.  "We need to make some decisions and move on.  It will never be perfect but it will be an improvement," he said.
     Morning Star newspaper, May 20, 2016

"Wonder if Garlick remembers the Adopted Motion(s) from a GVAC meeting last year," says Kia.

Good point.

In case Garlick et al have forgotten...here they are again:
Adopted Motions:

1.  Councillor Lord asked that a Communications Strategy for dealing with the Review be adopted such that the public could be informed on each question. Adopted

2.  Coldstream Mayor Garlick said the defeat of the Referendum bought valuable time for a review to be undertaken.  And that Standards for water quality, pricing and delivery have changed and are in the process of change, that the review incorporate these changes in its process.  Adopted

3.  Councillor Kiss requested the review focus on a MWP that addresses the future needs of the water user base, and that as Okanagan Lake is the most reliable water source where the least amount of treatment is needed, that the review include the viability of the OK Lake as the principal water source. Adopted

4.  Filtration exclusion and deferral issues were discussed and GVW management explained the current situation with respect to IHA and that it should be included in the review. Adopted

5.  Bob Spiers asked if a review could include the cost of treating the entire volume of Duteau water as compared with other treatment options. Adopted

6.  Mayor Garlick asked that public involvement in the review follow the model set and adopted by the Municipalities at the provincial level whereby a public committee was struck to provide feedback into decision-making relative to MWP allowing politicians and staff to have maximum input to direction.   Adopted

7.  Director Fleming asked if  "current demand levels" projected to 2020 and on, be considered in the review. Adopted
 
8. A question respecting the differing levels of supply by Quarter be included in the review.  Adopted

9. Redundancy of sources and the management of supply should be reviewed as Duteau, Kal, Coldstream Creek, King Edward Lake, and Okanagan Lake all are in the picture. Adopted

10.  Whether one treatment plant could supply all needs from all sources. Adopted

11.  Mayor Garlick proposed that the principle of  "need of supply type" be adopted to guide supply management.  In other words, if a user needs potable water, user pays for potable water.  Adopted.

12.  Question to minimize the use of treated water on agricultural lands.  Adopted

13.  Councillor Cunningham advised everyone to take a "step back" and work with the public on developing a new MWP that serves the needs of the entire community.  Adopted

14.  Mayor Garlick proposed that staff investigate hiring a communications specialist. Develop a communications strategy to facilitate the flow of information to and from public and press throughout MWP review process. The intent is to draw people in to the process.  Adopted

 


 


Kia has another comment:

"Had SAC's 'seat warmers'--and the odd 'mole' not been on the committee, citizens would've seen considerably more changes..."

You've got that correct.


Garlick should re-read #11, "need of supply type".
Highlands Golf needs non-potable water to irrigate the course, but it's not available.
So non-potable rates should apply to the irrigation water meter consumption.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Kevin's Correct!


As reported today in Bob Spiers' blog and the Morning Star, Lumby Mayor Kevin Acton is not impressed with the Okanagan Basin Water Board which is urging residents to conserve water now in case of drought this summer.

"There isn’t a shortage of water now,” he said, adding that there isn’t a need to cut back on water use. “I am disappointed to hear their advertisements when there isn’t a drought right now.” 

Right on, Kevin!
Exactly!

The rest of Richard Rolke's story is:

Lumby officials fear the community could be washed out again. The village has sent a letter to the Regional District of North Okanagan protesting the release of water from Aberdeen Plateau reservoirs that can lead to flooding in the downtown core.

“The regional district has the ability to help mitigate the flooding situation,” said Mayor Kevin Acton. “They need to follow best practises so they don’t cause flooding.”   In 2013, significant flooding swamped businesses and homes right in the middle of Lumby.   And sandbags have been put in place this year in case the creeks overflow their banks.

“The high-altitude melt comes in mid-June and if there is rain, it could be a perfect storm,” said Acton.

“We’d like the regional district to make an educated guess on how to get the reservoirs to the top without them spilling over and causing.”

RDNO has previously stated it can’t let water out of the reservoirs early, because, depending on weather conditions in the early spring, that water may be needed for domestic supply in the summer. It also states that snowmelt spilling over reservoirs and into creeks is a natural process.  

Beyond RDNO, Acton is not impressed with the Okanagan Basin Water Board which is urging residents to conserve water now in case of drought this summer. “There isn’t a shortage of water now,” he said, adding that there isn’t a need to cut back on water use. “I am disappointed to hear their advertisements when there isn’t a drought right now.”

"The big problem is asking the regional district to make an 'educated guess'," says Kia, adding "we haven't seen that occurring historically."



And a high-altitude melt in mid-June?
It's probably half gone already.

Don't forget, folks:
  The more water you conserve, the more you pay
 for each cubic metre of it.

Also don't forget what the consultant said during one of the SAC meetings:
  "You are blessed with loads of water..." 

It's just a matter of bureaucrats and biased-to-the-nines elected officials letting us use it!

When is that next election????

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Brilliant Gyula Kiss


...always has been, and always will be.
Yes, he's a brilliant man.
A scientist, unlike many decision-makers and politicians that oversee the Greater Vernon Water debacle (old or ongoing) in the North Okanagan.

But instead of reprinting his May 16th story "Is there scientific evidence for pending water shortages in Greater Vernon in 2016?", I'll just send you to his blog (scroll to the May 16th, 2016 story if it's no longer on the title page).

Click here to access Gyula's blog.

"We shouldn't let anyone but scientists be hired as bureaucrats or to run for political office," offers Kia.



Agreed!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Stage "Normal" vs. Stage 1 Water Restrictions


It appears that Greater Vernon Water officials are contradicting their own press.

The Duteau Creek reservoir level chart is posted on the RDNO website.

But what's confusing is that we all recall GVW said--about two or three years ago--that water customers would henceforth be on a permanent year-round Stage 1 water restriction...unless more strict measures were announced.

Yet another deluge heads to the Aberdeen plateau...


Here's the new chart following heavy rainfall on several occasions in the last two weeks (the red line is 2016...click graphic to enlarge):



 "Water 'normal'?  it's akin to a silent plea to turn sprinklers on," offers Kia.





Stage "normal".
Hmmph.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Carmen Gets It


Not many people understand this stuff, most notably bureaucrats and politicians.

But I'll get to that later.
And I have a solution, which I've used myself...

Carmen Bunnah gets it, as shown by her letter to the editor of Morning Star today.
It concerns the Spallumcheen motoplex speedway which has had considerable noise issues with neighbours, despite having been allowed to be constructed.  After some time, he powers-that-be even implemented limits on the number of races the speedway could hold.

First, Carmen's letter:

Wrong Decision:
"I just wanted to comment on what is happening to our Spallumcheen speedway.
I think the courts made a huge mistake even letting this lawsuit go to court.  The municipality allowed the race track to be built and the person that owns it has invested a substantial amount of money to run this business.  Now that could be in jeopardy.
So what ends up happening there will probably be more lawsuits and eventually it will put these people out of business and gone will be our race track.
It is not like they run races every day.  It is a great way for a family to spend an evening, and I think the few times in the summer that there is noise, people should be able to put up with it.  No one should be able to take someone's livelihood away.
As far as sales being down at Lawrence Heights, sales are down every where because of our economy and I don't think the race track is what is affecting it.
Are we becoming like the U.S. where we sue for everything?  It is a very sad day when a few can ruin things for all."
        Carmen Bunnah

I agree with Carmen.
The community's red tape allowed the facility to be constructed and operated, albeit operations were reduced (the number of events that could be held) some time ago by officials.

While my facility, Highlands Golf, differs from the speedway in that I've never been sued in 15 years of operations, I have a suggestion that Carmen should take to the owners.

Next year (and every year until they succeed) the speedway should appeal their B.C. property tax assessment.

On what grounds?  Prove to the assessor two things:

  • that no other racetrack in B.C. has the limits on the number of events that can be held there, affecting their revenue potential.
  • that the municipality of Spallumcheen issued a covenant to restrict the number of events annually, after the speedway was permitted to be constructed and open.
The result?
The speedway will win in receiving a lower assessed value.
That means reduced property taxes.

Politicians and bureaucrats, in their omnipotent manner,  don't give a rat's derriere what they do to a business--all in the interests of what the neighbours say during public hearing stage--but politicians and bureaucrats need to see that their own wishy washy, make-a-friend-of-everyone attitude that accedes to the wishes of NIMBYists will cost their municipality money...in lower property taxes!

I did.

Politicians and bureaucrats of the day had a covenant placed on the business to limit my operating hours (and season) to placate neighbours.

It stated something along the lines of "must close two hours after sunset daily, and only be open for the typical golf season, i.e. 6 months a year."

So one year, I appealed my property tax assessment.
The B.C. assessor agreed with me when I told him that no golf courses have that type of restriction on their earning ability (not allowing Christmas parties/New Years banquet room rental, etc.) 

And to have to close two hours after sunset?
The assessor told me that other golf courses don't have that either!
Sheesh. 

But that's OK.

So the Municipality of Coldstream gets less money for property taxes annually because their rule (the legal covenant) restricts my business' ability to earn revenue.





"The only way to make a politician think twice before his Council imposes something onerous on a business is to get him in the general revenue wallet," grins Kia.



Priceless.

Carmen Bunnah should phone the owner of Spallumcheen Motoplex Speedway and tell him.



 

Vernon Competing with Silver Star?


Seems the City of Vernon wants to find a site for a bike skills park.

No matter that Silver Star Mountain has spent megabucks to develop bike trails all over the mountain.
Bureaucrats--and most politicians--don't see that a city's desire to build a facility should not compete with existing commercial operations.

It's not the first time either.

The Regional District a few years ago announced they would be building a new park on the old garbage dump site at the East BX/Coldstream municipality boundary.
What's the matter with that?
Well, they decided they'd construct disc golf

And don't forget the old Lakers' Golf clubhouse on Cummins Road, now owned by the City of Vernon.
The building was reportedly built without a building permit years ago, had myriad water problems as a result.  But the City of Vernon spent taxpayer dollars to fix it up and now rents it out for meetings/weddings/banquets, etc.
All in direct competition with other such facilities, i.e. golf courses that rent out clubhouses for events.

And don't forget the Municipality of Coldstream.
They bought the old Women's Institute building and do the same thing as Vernon.  They rent it out for meetings/weddings/banquets, etc., again in competition with other such commercial rental spaces available!




"Pirates of the Okanagan," suggests Kia.

Yup.



Sunday, May 8, 2016

Virtual Water Referendum?


Following this week's announcement that the Stakeholders' Advisory Committee would be making a recommendation to GVAC on May 19th to, essentially, maintain the existing Master Water Plan following the failed referendum to borrow $70 million in 2014, Kiss-FM Radio in Vernon has a poll.

Its online question is: 

"Do you agree with the Greater Vernon master water plan review recommending the current system remains the way it is?"

As of today, results are as follows:

 Yes      12.1%                           No        87.9% 


Check KISS-FM Radio website to see numbers. 

"I predict those numbers are virtually the same as results in the next election for incumbents," grins Kia.

 

 

It appears that thinking people have voted.

Maybe a few sheeple too. 

 

(Hmmmm...seems even the font is seeing RED).

Friday, May 6, 2016

RDNO Challenges Merriam-Webster


...on the definition of consensus.

No matter that Merriam-Webster has been in the dictionary business since 1831.
The Regional District of North Okanagan disputes the learned enterprise's definition of consensus.

Merriam-Webster's definition:  "a general agreement about something : an idea or opinion that is shared by all the people in a group".

All the people in a group.
Not some.
Not most.
All.

You decide.
Here's the Morning Star's story today, by Rolke.

"No changes for water plan"

Greater Vernon's master water plan appears to be largely unchanged.

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee was told Thursday that a stakeholders' advisory committee (SAC) is recommending Duteau Creek and Kalamalka Lake by maintained as drinking water sources and that two treatment plants remain.

"The majority is satisfied all feasible options have been considered," said Juliette Cunningham, GVAC chairperson who also sits on the SAC.

A bulk of the SAC also agreed that partial separation of agricultural land from treated water should occur.

Jim Garlick, GVAC director and SAC chairperson, supports having two water sources because of the flexibility it provides.

"There is no consensus..."  Terry Mooney, CCMWP

"If there is an emergency or repairs that need to be done, we can take care of that more easily," he said.

Terry Mooney, a SAC member, is blasting the actions of most of his colleagues.  "The majority wanted to rubber stamp what the consultant recommended," he aid, adding that he wasn't the only member opposed to a string of recommendations April 21.  "All of our objections were shot down.  There is no consensus."

"So any input from an opposing view was eliminated."  Gyula Kiss

Mooney insists total separation of agricultural land from treated water should occur.

"Duteau should be strictly for irrigation.  All domestic water should come from the Mission Hill treatment plant (Kal Lake) and eventually Okanagan Lake," he said.

Gyula Kiss, a Coldstream councillor, isn't surprised with the process' outcome.

"They wouldn't allow me to get on to the committee and then they eliminated me from GVAC," he said.
"So any input from an opposing view was eliminated."

Garlick says all information was provided to the SAC and the group was not forced to maintain the status quo with the master water plan.

"They didn't allow themselves to be pushed around.  They chose their own path," he said.

A 2014 referendum to borrow $70 million for the water plan was shot down by residents, and Garlick isn't sure what would be borrowed now.

"We have reserves and there could be other money to tighten it up," he said.

The stakeholders advisory committee will meet May 19th to discuss its final report, which will then go to GVAC for consideration."  Morning Star newspaper


"So Garlick admitted there was 'pushing around' when he stated that SAC didn't allow themselves to be pushed around...not for lack of trying" adds Kia.

Interestingly, in the same newspaper today there's a quotation in a letter to the editor (on an unrelated topic) that appears to sum up GVAC's and RDNO's year-long strategy of how they dealt with not only Gyula Kiss, but Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan's Terry Mooney:

"Before the opening of hostilities enlist the support of the masses
by first demonizing the enemy."

 


Of course there's a conflict of interest...the politicians that support the status quo were the politicians that approved it in the first place!  A face-saving strategy.

Aided and abetted by consultants and the media...


The outcome of the Master Water Plan's "review" wasn't unexpected.

The interesting thing is that there'll likely be another water borrowing referendum.
Perhaps the public's "consensus" will again be more pronounced than at SAC meetings.

Politicians should look up how Merriam-Webster defines the phrase municipal elections.


 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Impeccable Timing


If you have a chance to read Okanagan Life's April/May 2016 issue, do so.

There's an article -- contained in a Special Report -- that'll be of considerable interest to Greater Vernon Water customers in the North Okanagan.

More specifically, to SAC and CCMWP members.
And some politicians.
Why only "some" is evident later.

The story's lead-in promises that two UBCO professors will "change the way we understand deception".

Good timing, huh?
Especially timely as the Stakeholder Advisory Committee's last meeting at RDNO--following the November 2014 failed borrowing referendum--looms.

Before quoting from the professors, John Paul Byrne's editorial that accompanies the story is a most appropriate intro.  He titled it "The truth about liars".

"It has been said that 'all truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
  Third, it is accepted as being self-evident'."

He continues, in part:  "The UBCO research found within these pages tells a story of a group of social psychologists who have arrived at the precipice of a world that needs to change and must stop incessant lying."

"...The UBCO truth team shows us how easy it is for psychopathic people to manipulate and deceive regular trusting folk.  It is fascinating when we are able to understand the science on how politicians obfuscate and lie to start illegal wars and invade peaceful countries....an absence of integrity by the supposed leadership(s) of the free world."

Sure, not everyone's a psychopath, I say.
But the degree to which lies and deception rule our lives today is, well, frankly staggering.

Think of the water issues in the North Okanagan, and politicians and bureaucrats ganging up on Coldstream councillor and GVAC director Gyula Kiss to virtually guarantee that his scientific--and honest--mind didn't contaminate the bureaucratic biases that would deliver the desired outcome for the Master Water Plan stakeholder review.

OK.  
Back to lying and deception.
Back to comparing the following with GVW and politicians' tactics.
 
John Paul Byrne closes his editorial with:

"...high stakes politicians are lying to all of us."

UBCO researchers Michael Woodworth and Stephen Porter are a team of "lie busters...attaining worldwide acclaim by seeking greater understanding in the fields of malfeasance, untruth and secrecy."

"...why do humans lie, how pervasive is our lying
and why do we fall for it?"

"As professor of psychology and director of the Centre for the Advancement of Psychological Science & Law (CAPSL) at the Okanagan campus of UBC, Porter heads up an inspirational team of dedicated scientists that are determined to answer age-old questions--why do humans lie, how pervasive is our lying and why do we fall for it?"

"When asked how often people lie to themselves, Porter admits, "It's impossible to quantify, but I would argue almost continuously, in terms of defense mechanisms like being in denial, rationalizing and avoiding the truth."

Porter is also looking at how emotion can serve to enhance memory, but also increase memory's susceptibility to misinformation, including widely publicized events from the media.

While Porter and co-researcher Michael Woodworth understand that little white lies and half-truths are necessary for honest people to coexist in today's society, for them, high stakes lies are a completely different animal. 

As a psychology professor at UBCO and one of Canada's top lie detectors, Woodworth has focused on three main areas of research:  psychopathy, criminal behaviour and deception detection...careers are blossoming in psychopathy, says Woodworth, who watches as the worldwide trend in lying expands.

"Today humans are not only lying and cheating more, they are getting away with it," he says.  "Downright deception has increased from being clever, which was the norm 20 years ago."

(For example), Woodworth can't hide his amazement that no Wall Street bankers have gone to jail for the subprime fiasco.  Single-handedly Wall Street bankers lied, cheated and defrauded millions out of trillions of dollars.  They ran the entire world economy over a cliff and then, unbelievably, were bailed out by their government for doing so."

'it is easier to fool a man than to
 convince him that he has been fooled'.
Mark Twain 

"Porter claims that honesty and all other virtues are expendable if deceit, treachery, and force would be more expedient.  This axiom appears to be embossed on the foreheads of Wall Street bankers, yet the courts fail to act....a shining spotlight on this human gullibility."

"Humans do not think or reason through problems or challenges, but instead embrace the first story or the popular narrative.  Mark Twain explained it thusly: 'it is easier to fool a man than to convince him that he has been fooled'."

Also included is a frank conversation with author Dan Ariely to underscore the topic.
Mr. Ariely wrote "Predictably Irrational", has spoken at TED conferences, and done seminal research. 

The editor's phone interview with author Ariely included:

"...the public wants and expects our politicians to be dishonest.  The reason for that is people view politics as a means to an end.  If you want your agenda being implemented--you want your politicians to deceive to achieve it."

Still thinking of SAC and GVW?
Ahem!

The editor stated:  "We live in a world where scientists are marginalized and trivialized by politicians who effectively lie and fabricate arguments, just to discredit good science..."  The author replied:  I think that the dismissive nature of data is a problem.  I don't think that people should say, here is a piece of data, let's just accept it.  What I believe is people should be updating their beliefs....(otherwise) you are idealogical rather than logical, and that is terrible."

Dan Ariely concluded:  "There is no question that you can create a (false) story and get people to believe just about anything.  It is shockingly easy to do that."

Gyula Kiss is aware of that.
So are GVW customers in the North Okanagan.
So are CCMWP members.
So are some SAC members...unfortunately an insufficient number of them.

Even the May 2016 Rotarian publication touches on the topic with this quote from a G.Tijani of Nigeria:  "There seems to be an urgent need for individual and group psychological repair so we can improve the human condition."

Indeed.
This story therefore, as it relates to the political and bureaucratic "scene" at RDNO/GVW, needs two graphics to underscore deception, thanks entirely to the Master Water Plan 2012 supporters.






"Think of the Senators 'getting off', think of how Gyula's scientific proposals were undermined--and in a recent case--actually falsified, think of the backroom deals being made to keep Greater Vernon directors in lockstep with bureaucrats, think of how engineering consultants have been leaned on to not accept anything but the status quo, think of the abject lack of researched media coverage on the topic here" offers Kia, "and it makes me sick."

Only the little people and old dogs tell the truth.

Because the others will do anything to save face.
That referred to "some politicians" from earlier on in this blog entry.



Saturday, April 23, 2016

Learned It From GVW



He sure got it right!

"Unfortunately, politics has gotten in the way of this thing," said Gordie Ivans of Black Mountain Irrigation District, referring to what's going on south of us as Kelowna attempts to "amalgamate" numerous irrigation districts.

Vernon councillor Bob Spiers' blog explained it in more detail:  The city and the irrigation districts are at odds over a 2012 water plan for the entire city that all five groups signed off on.  It calls for more than $360 million of improvements to the existing water systems over the next 15 years.

Spiers' story in its entirety:
"Community minister sees a way forward in Kelowna water dispute
by Alistair Waters - Kelowna Capital News posted Apr 22, 2016 at 6:00 PM
B.C.'s community minister says he's optimistic the City of Kelowna and the four independent irrigation districts that supply water to residents in various parts of the city will accept the recommendations put forward by a pair of mediators appointed by the province.  Peter Fassbender, speaking at the Southern Interior Local Government Association convention that wrapped up in Kelowna Friday, said he believes the recommendations could end the impasse between the city and the irrigation districts in their battle over the terms of reference for a provincially-mandated value planning review of a three-year-old plan for water infrastructure improvements here.

"Unfortunately, politics has gotten in the way of this thing..."

While Fassbender would not reveal what mediators George Abbott and Chris Trumpy recommended, he said he does feel the issue of future governance of the the water systems in the city should not be part of the "technical" process. That has been the position of the irrigation districts and is at the heart of the current impasse between the city and Rutland Water Works, the Black Mountain, Glenmore-Ellison and South-east Kelowna Irrigation Districts. But while Fassbender said governance should not be part of the value planner exercise, he said it must be looked at down the road. How far is now the question. Victoria, he added, is not prepared at this time to step in and order the irrigation districts to amalgamate with the city's water utility. The city wants one integrated water system for the entire city rather than the current situation where five separate and independent entities, including its own water utility, now provide water to residential, business and agriculture customers throughout Kelowna. On Thursday night, representatives of Rutland Water Works and the Black Mountain Irrigation District spoke to about 30 people at a meeting organized by the Rutland Residents' Association. Garry Zarr of of Rutland Water Works and Gordie Ivans of BMID said they believe the city has made the issue less about water quality and more about politics. "Unfortunately, politics has gotten in the way of this thing," said the BMID's Ivans.

The city and the irrigation districts are at odds over a 2012 water plan for the entire city that all five groups signed off on and calls for more than $360 million of improvements to the existing water systems over the next 15 years. 

The city now feels that the work called for in the plan could be done faster and cheaper if there was just one integrated water system serving entire city. And, it feels there would be fewer water advisories issued because of potential health problems associated with water from some of the irrigation districts because they use surface water sources. Kelowna city manager Ron Mattiussi said Friday the province ordered the value planning exercise for the water plan and the city feels if there there are to be connections between irrigation districts and the city—Rutland Water Works and BMID say they already have a connection—governance has to be addressed. Irrigation districts in B.C. are independent bodies that have taxing authority and whose ratepayers fund infrastructure improvement unless government grants can be acquired. Zarr noted because of that, the city cannot force the irrigation districts to amalgamate, that would have to come from the province.

Muddying the local waters is the fact the province, 10 years ago, made irrigation districts ineligible for applying for grants, telling them they had to have municipalities apply on their behalf. The city, which applied last year and was unsuccessful, also contends that the grants they are being asked to apply for on behalf of the irrigation districts are dollars they could apply for to pay for other infrastructure needs in the city. So, in essence, they are giving up on money they could use in order to secure water for another jurisdiction even though it would service its residents. It says that is one of the reasons it wants a single, interconnected water utility so funding decisions can be made with the entire city in mind.

After years of talking behind the scenes about this issue, current Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran went public with the city's frustrations and called for a single water system earlier this year during his State Of The City address to the local chamber of commerce. Meanwhile, on Friday, Fassbender said the province is aware that the clock is ticking on possible grants from the federal government under its new infrastructure funding program. Ottawa has promised millions of dollars to help municipalities pay to improve their infrastructure, especially when it comes to water. At Thursday's meeting in Rutland, Zarr said while his organization's water is very good because it comes from an underground aquifer—and both Black Mountain and, to a lesser degree, Glenmore Ellison have made improvements to their systems using their own money, South-east Kelowna, with the smallest population base, needs grants the most to improve its water system. And he said that's where the other three irrigation districts feel any grant money received should go first. Asked about the local situation Thursday at the SILGA convention, B.C.'s NDP leader John Horgan said his party would also not wade in on one side or the other, but would like to see the community work out a solution that they feel is best for all local residents."


 
"At least their plan is 15 years...whereas Greater Vernon Water is promoting a 50 year plan," says Kia.

Yeah...like that's going to be accurate.
Likely as accurate as long range weather forecasting.

GVW's political contagion (force-feeding!) is infecting our neighbours to the south.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Lockwood Bros Concrete Products


A tip o' the thank you hat to Richard Lockwood of Lockwood Bros. in Armstrong for the great new tabletops and seats for Highlands Golf's concrete patio tables.



We'll now stain and waterseal the tops and seats.

Richard Lockwood can be reached at 250.546-6941 or drop in to their facility at 1140 Highway 97A.

Great concrete work!
Thanks too, Richard, for delivering them.

"I see some nice shade under them," says Kia.