Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lawsuit against B.C. Hydro? Co-defendant B.C. Utilities Commission?

Is a group action lawsuit the only way to get their attention?...


It's time to get serious.

Last October's implementation of the electric utility Step 2 Conservation Rate had onerous implications for folks in predominantly rural areas.

Why? Because natural gas isn't available in their area--or on their street.
Deregulation in other industries such as telecommunications has led to choice for consumers. Not so with customers of B.C. Hydro who have no access to natural gas!

It's impossible for this writer to ascertain just how many British Columbians have no access to gas but since the massive switch by consumers to natural gas over the last 20 years, we are undoubtedly in the minority.

Using my residence as an example--where natural gas is available both east and west of my location (but not at the roadfront)--Step 1 is billed at just shy of 6 cents per kilowatt hour to a maximum of approximately 1,376 kilowatt hours monthly. Usage beyond that is charged at one-third more...at .0827 cents.

This abuse of B.C. Hydro's monopoly, sanctioned by the B.C. Utilities Commission via their approval of rates, is tantamount to an abuse of authority. Not noble efforts to stem the impact on climate change!

You'll ask "have you contacted hydro and the utilities commission to resolve the issue?" Representatives either don't have the authority to even pass along a concern--or don't know to whom it should be passed to--or feel it remains a fair system in their opinion.

The little guy has never felt smaller than when wondering how to convince the big guys of such a travesty of procedural fairness and justice.

My contention is that Step 2 is an erroneously applied penalty rate because customers who have no access to natural gas cannot possibly keep electrical usage within the narrow confines of Step 1.

Now to find somebody to run the gauntlet...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Coldstream allows firearm discharge next to Golf Course!

Listening for more than where your golfball lands...

Coldstream Municipality's Weapons Regulation Bylaw 1550, 2009 is a fait accompli.

Highlands Golf--whose zoning is Commercial Recreation--is now located smack in the middle of two firearms zones.

The golf course's north and south boundaries are abutted by the new Green Zone, in which "...open to discharge of Weapons subject to compliance with the terms and conditions of this bylaw and any Provincial or Federal regulations or restrictions."

The golf course's east and west boundaries are abutted by the new Yellow Zone, where "...limited to the discharge of Weapons with a muzzle velocity less than 152.4 metres or 500 feet per second and a muzzle energy less than 5.7 joules or 4.2 foot pounds, shotguns with shot only, and archery equipment for target practice only."

...adjacent to a commercial recreation facility?

"Sounds like it's Open Season on golfers...maybe those rocket scientists can tell me what MY muzzle velocity is", muses Kia.

Coldstream Municipality "cherry-picks" data to support 5% tax increase

"Municipal operating expenditures in British Columbia continue to increase at an unsustainably high rate. This overspending comes at the expense of families, small businesses, and other commercial ratepayers through property tax increases, user fee hikes, and higher transfer payments from senior levels of
Source: B.C. Municipality Spending Watch, 2nd Edition (Heather Tilley, Policy Analyst B.C.)

So, grab an air-sickness bag and settle into the Lazyboy for the spin, which even the local media can't seem to resist.

A Morning Star article December 16, 2009 headed "Coldstream braces for tax hike" stated the chief reason for the increase is "to fund infrastructure projects and the legal fees from the ongoing water devolution disagreement with the City of Vernon."

Seems road improvements top the list. "That will pay off in the long term not only in terms of road rehabilitation, but we won't have to spend money (in the future)," Coun. Pat Cochrane is quoted as saying.

So, before taxpayers can argue the point, we'll have to wait and see if Coldstream plans to spend money on roads in a year or two, or three. Hmmm, note to self...mark the calendar "no roads spending in future!"

Arguable now, however, is Coldstream's cherry-picking of data contained in the Canadian Federation of Independent Business report published in November, 2009, that noted Coldstream was the least-taxed municipality of its size.

What the CFIB reported in its entirety should be of concern to Coldstream's 10,218 inhabitants.

While Coldstream's per capita spending of $501 is the lowest of 25 similar-sized communities, its Fiscal Sustainability Gap of 2.28 indicates spending growth increased more than two-and-a-quarter times as fast as population and inflation. Note also that the $501 does not include spending on capital infrastructure, adds the CFIB.

But roads (see above) are capital infrastructure!

Where IS that incredulity smiley??

The Spending Watch document adds: By law, municipalities cannot run a budget deficit. In order to pay for the 43% increase in
operating spending between 2000 and 2007, municipalities across British Columbia have increased revenues 62% to cover both the growth in operating and capital spending.
Property taxes are up 42%, user fees up 95%, and transfer payments from governments are up 121% between 2000 and 2007. These increases are far above what would have been necessary had municipalities held operating spending to population and inflation growth.

Naturally the CFIB didn't tell Coldstream to stop cherry-picking its report, but they did have quite a few recommendations for municipalities in B.C.:

• Introduce taxation and expenditure limitation laws to constrain the growth in government operating spending to no more than population and inflation growth.

• Introduce zero-based budgeting with meaningful performance targets.

• Focus on core municipal services.

• Restrict full-time-equivalent employment and wage growth by limiting the growth in employees to the growth in population.

• Ensure that capital projects are fully financed up front by including lifetime operating and maintenance expenses in the initial cost estimates.

And didn't the Federal government's community infrastructure fund (your taxpayer dollars again) kick money into Coldstream's coffers for roads and bridges as capital improvements?

Four levels of government, one taxpayer...

"It makes me dizzy," intones Kia.

Monday, December 7, 2009

This Democracy...

Feeling guilty about global warming yet?

Reprint of an article by Mischa Popoff that appeared in Dec.09 issue of Okanagan Business Examiner

World leaders will soon meet in Copenhagen to take another crack at getting between you and a hot shower. If global warming science makes you feel guilty for keeping your home at room temperature and driving a car to work, fret not; it’s not science.

The bugbear of global warming began as a shameless political gambit. Maurice Strong, a Canadian living in China, wanted us to feel very guilty for our standard of living in the West so he worked with the United Nations to organize the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro that laid the groundwork for the Kyoto Protocol of 1997.

Here are Strong’s words from before the summit:
“What if a small group of world leaders were to conclude that the principal risk to the Earth comes from the actions of rich countries? ...So, in order to save the planet, the group decides: Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”

Instead of raising living standards in poor nations, the efficiency of Western economies would be undermined through cap-and-trade schemes and carbon taxation.

Still feel guilty?

During President Bill Clinton’s second term, the United States Senate voted unanimously to reject Kyoto on a motion made by a senior Democratic Senator to reject all such treaties in perpetuity. Canadians meanwhile have a hard time remembering the Canadian vote on Kyoto. I’ll come back to that.

We’re told the evil oil lobby killed Kyoto down south. Think about that for a second. A second-term Democrat in the White House with an idealogical environmentalist as his vice president, none other than Al Gore, and we’re supposed to believe oil companies killed Kyoto? It’s more likely the Democrats just didn’t feel guilty.

Guess where all the CO2 trapped in fossil fuels comes from? That’s right, the earth’s atmosphere, which once held ten times more CO2. Any farmer can tell you that increasing CO2 levels boosts agricultural yields; scientists estimate 15% of the earth’s population exists thanks to rising CO2 in the last century. (You’re supposed to feel guilty about that.)

The atmosphere stopped warming in 1998 in spite of rising CO2. In fact in 2005 the much-ballyhooed “hockey-stick graph”, which Al Gore claims shows we’re living in the warmest period ever, was shown to produce its hockey-stick shape even if random data were used. Now who’s guilty?

What if all computer models used to support Strong and Gore’s doomsday scenario were rigged? Surely the UN would never go along with something like that. Well yeah, they did.

Then it emerged that temperature records themselves are skewed because cities are naturally warmer than surrounding landscapes. Temperatures rise as cities grow, but (oops!) the UN’s scientific panel failed to take that into account.

Strong and Gore will never debate global warming. It’s more expedient to pitch this social-engineering agenda as a good versus evil battle that any elementary school kid can understand, or be brainwashed by, which brings us back to how Canada came to be a signatory to Kyoto.

Clinton and Gore stood by while ltheir Democratic allies united with Republicans to kill Kyoto. But what about the vote in Canada’s Parliament? Was it close? Do you remember?

There was no vote in Canada. Jean Chretien ratified the Kyoto Protocol at a brief ceremony in his office in 2002. That’s right ... in his office. Preston Manning and his Reform caucus criticized Chretien, but the media let him get away with it and has badgered the right ever since for not drinking Strong and Gore’s suicidal cool aid.

Forget elected members of Parliament. Never mind Chretien’s own cabinet or David Anderson, Canada’s longest serving Environment Minister, who was not even consulted. One man, a man who happens to be chums with Strong, signed us all up to do our part to bring about the collapse of industrialized civilization.

Go ahead and have a hot shower, keep your house at room temperature all year long and drive to your heart’s content. Guilt and Copenhagen are for losers.

Mischa Popoff is a freelance political writer with a bachelor’s degree in history.

So can we go for drives again?" begs Kia.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Six Months on, Six Months off

I always miss golfers over winter, but it's time for Time Off. The golf course closed for the winter on September 30th. October was a great month to rekindle my plant passion in earnest.

This zone-pushing devotee finally planted the 33+ year old Trachycarpus fortunei in the ground.

And there in the enclosure is the palm, finally planted where adventitious roots can develop in rich soil.

In the Okanagan? Yup, but winter protection was needed, especially if we have another winter like the last, where temperatures plummeted to -24C (-11F).

To meet other zone pushers, visit "http://palmsnorth.com/forum/"

That's Hugh doing a fine job of building the winter protection. One-inch friction-fitted styrofoam lines the prefab panels. Each vertical panel is connected to the adjacent panel with three screws. A clear plastic roof allows light in (but not direct sunshine, which could overheat the enclosure). A 1500 watt utility heater, on a 14 gauge extension cord plugged into a GFI plug, will protect the palm on the coldest nights.

Holy crow, I thought he was building a dog house," admits Kia, relieved.

Sadly, this little palm on Vernon's East Hill--photographed two weeks ago--will succumb before true winter even arrives unless serious effort is made to protect it for winter.

"I'm good at digging," offers Kia, ready for the rescue. I suggest we return next week to see how the palm is faring.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Season ends with fine weather

The season's last day at Highlands Golf Short-Game Excellence was Wednesday, September 30th.

Sunshine and warm temperatures greeted regulars, followed by lots of hugs and handshakes and wishes for a good winter.

Aeration of greens took place Friday.

"All that talk about curling made me cold," quips Kia, adding "...but I am going to miss all those pats on the head."

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Liquor Primary licence received

An email from Victoria, B.C. at 4 p.m. August 18th, 2009, confirmed that the Liquor Primary Licence has now been granted by the B.C. Government.

At the same time, the 7-year old Food Primary Licence was cancelled as there was no need for two.

The last time I waited nine months resulted in a bouncing baby girl!

I could've had how many pups in that time?" quips Kia.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

TV feature on Wind Turbine

Shaw Cable TV came out on August 19th to interview Energy West Power Solutions principal, Paul Wende about the 10kW Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine installed at Highlands Golf.

"They're not doing a German Shepherd special?" muses Kia.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Never too young to take up golf...

Tiger was proof of that.

These five youngsters--visiting from Calgary--will be Tiger's competition in future.
The two proud Dads will happily lose a golf game to these kids in a few years.

And here's sixteen-month-old Denver who learned to diligently cover his bunker tracks.

"Sheesh", stammers Kia,
"He could'a just asked if I was a boy-dog or girl-dog!"

Monday, July 27, 2009

Turbine Component Damage from Massive Storm

Saturday's storm damage
The picture looks innocuous enough before the storm's onslaught. It may not sound like much, but an inch of rain in 20 minutes--in the North Okanagan--is unusual indeed. One could feel it in the air...and at around 2 p.m. Saturday, July 25th, the storm hit.

Plastic patio chairs and patio umbrellas went flying across No.1 Teebox. Lightning pierced the suddenly-formed clouds, where only moments before it had been a clear and hot day. Thunder was deafening and felt as though it came from the attic.

Four golfers--stranded on #2 green--braved incredibly strong winds for a few minutes and then wisely chose to return to the clubhouse to wait out the storm.

I panicked when I saw the wind turbine blades spinning as though a plane were taking off on the runway...it was spinning at 220 RPM.
The wind turbine's program was turning it out of the wind.
But on a hunch, afraid of damage to components, I activated the "Brakes" lever.

And then the hail hit.

We watched from the clubhouse as hail covered the putting green beside the clubhouse, melting only after a full five minutes in the 30C temperatures. It was as though ice cubes had fallen.

Rainwater--driven by wind--entered the clubhouse around the kitchen door and quickly left an inch of water in the kitchen area. The shop-vac was immediately employed to remove the encroaching water.

...lightning and thunder continued for the next 10 hours.

And wind turbine damage did occur.

Hail knocked out the sensor's delicate bearing on the wind turbine.
The turbine can still send electricity to the grid, but its direction must be on "hand" control until the part is replaced. On "Automatic", it would not now turn into a new wind direction, and lose considerable production.

But on the manual setting, there's a risk of the blades freewheeling if the "hand" setting is too straight into a strong wind...it'll be a case of raw nerves until the part arrives sometime next week.

"That storm scared the fur off me," confirmed Kia.

U P D A T E : POSTED August 17/09

Dogvane damage?" asks Kia, "I wasn't anywhere near it!"

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wind Turbine ceremony

MLA visit

Highlands Golf was pleased to welcome Eric Foster, MLA for Vernon-Monashee to commemorate the completion of the wind turbine project.

From the left, pictured are Bill Kennedy of Capri Insurance, Gerald Raboch and Phyllis Raboch, retired, formerly of Riverside Forest Products Ltd., Paul Wende of Energy West Power Solutions, Barb Mitchell, Eric Foster MLA Vernon-Monashee, Denny Wallace, Highlands Men's Night Manager.

Paul Wende detailed the growth of green energy in British Columbia, adding that the Highlands turbine is the largest in B.C. Hydro's net metering system (currently numbering 15 customers throughout the province).

The luncheon was followed with a visit to the Shop to view the two 6 kW inverters, the controller, and other electrical components.

As luck would have it, the event was held with nary a breeze to turn the blades!

"...just wait till I find 'Murphy' who turned the wind off during the ceremony," offers Kia, adding "seems that I spend half my summer chasing patio chairs."

A sincere thank you to Paul Wende for his presentation, and attendees for helping Highlands mark this special day.

...and Monica Duncan for a wonderful luncheon.
"...must've been good, I didn't get a crumb," whines Kia.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Man Walks on the Moon 40-year Anniversary

A framed print from the clubhouse:

A Small Step for Man, a Leap for Mankind.
The Miami Herald, Monday July 21, 1969

To Aldrin, it's 'Magnificent Desolation'
by the Herald Space Bureau
HOUSTON - "Magnificent desolation."

That was astronaut Buzz Aldrin's observation as he stepped on the moon's surface Sunday night to join Neil Armstrong in the historic climax to an epic journey from earth.

That was at 11:16 p.m. 20 minutes after Armstrong had placed his left foot on the dusty surface and said "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Thus America's moon-landing astronauts expressed themselves as they began their mission on the moon.

ARMSTRONG, after he had placed both feet solidly on the surface, had begun the pair's dialogue about their experiences.

"Looking up at the I.M., I'm standing directly in the shadow now, looking up at Buzz (Aldrin) in the windows. I can see everything quite clearly," Armstrong said.

ARMSTRONG MOVED slowly in the strange world of gravity only one-sixth as strong as the earth's, but he appeared to have no difficulty.

He said the moon surface appeared hard and very cohesive.

"It has a stark beauty all its own. It's much like the desert of the United States. It's different but it's very pretty out here," the astronaut said.

"Ready for me to come out?" Aldrin asked at 11:10 p.m.

"Stand by for just a second," Armstrong replied.

"OK, you saw what difficulties I was having," Armstrong said as he guided Aldrin out of the ship's hatcheway.

"Hey, Neil, didn't I say we would see some purple rocks?" Aldrin said a few minutes later.

"Find a purple rock?" Armstrong asked. "Yep," Aldrin replied.

PRESIDENT Nixon, following the flight on television like millions of others around the world, called the two astronauts after they planted the American flag.

"Because of what you have done the heavens have become part of man's world," Nixon said.
"Thank you, Mr. President."
this front page story reproduction ends here.

Landscape's Like Southwest U.S., Armstrong says
by Robert S. Boyde, Chief of our Washington Bureau
HOUSTON -- Man landed and walked on the moon Sunday.

The fragile spaceship Eagle deposited American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin in the barren southwest corner of the Sea of Tranquility at 4:18 p.m., and six and a half hours later, at 20 seconds past 10:56 p.m., Armstrong planted his left foot on the moon.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind ..." were his first words.

In his normally calm voice tremulous with excitement, the first man on the moon radioed a graphic account of history's greatest adventure back to earth while a TV camera beamed live pictures of the eerie lunar landscape to a spellbound audience of millions.

Twenty minutes later, Armstrong talked Aldrin down the ladder of the Eagle onto the firm, powdery soil of Tranquility Base.

Thus was completed an epic journey charted eight years ago but dreamed of since man first lifted his eyes towards the heavens.

For two hours, 10 minutes Sunday night, there WAS life on the moon. Two-legged creatures from the plant Earth talked, walked, ran and worked on the crust of an alien world. They returned to the lunar module at 1:09 a.m. today. At 1:53 p.m. today, the astronauts will fire the big ascent engine to send them off the moon's surface to rendezvous with the command module.

The descent stage of the lunar lander will serve as the launch platform during blastoff from the moon.

THE ROAD to Tranquility Base was a quarter million miles long, but the last 200 feet were the worst.

In a heart-clutching finale to an otherwise phenomenally smooth flight, Armstrong snatched control of the Eagle from a computer and flew it to a safe landing on a level, rock-strewan plain pocked with thousands of small craters.

If Armstrong hadn't taken the helm, the Eagle would have fallen into a crater the size of a football ....end of page..."Turn to page 27A Col.1"
Note: This front-page edition ends here.

I'll howl at the moon tonight in their honour," offers Kia.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Liquor Primary Licence Site and Community Assessment Granted

After 7 months since applying for the new liquor licence, it's almost over.

A July 6, 2009, letter from the Deputy Manager of LCLB indicated that the Site and Community Assessment for the Liquor Primary Licence has been granted.

The last step is to "set the person capacity".

Since there will be no changes to either structural or seating capacity under the new licence,(clubhouse and patio seating remain at 49 and 80 respectively), this is likely simply a technical point to conclude all the steps of the process.

A great big thanks to Highlands' supporters for hanging in with me during some very trying times!

I'll dig up some of my fav chew bones to share with them," offers Kia.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wind Turbine is up!

Wind turbine raised June 17/09.
The B.C. Hydro inspection went very well!

"I could howl with excitement," affirms Kia.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Nottingham, England visitors

Long distance referral

While touring Banff--some 428 km distant--and saying their next stop was Vernon, honeymooners Graham and Emma said they liked to play Par 3 golf courses.

"Highlands Golf in the Coldstream Valley just east of Vernon," was the suggestion.

Graham is a butcher; Emma a software programmer.

"Thanks, Banff!" adds Kia.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Highlands receives BCGA letter of support for new licence

Thrilled to receive this letter recently:

"The British Columbia Golf Association applauds what you have done for the sport of golf in British Columbia in creating a facility that is both fun to play for a novice golfer while providing for a great practice session for the accomplished player.

We were impressed with your facility when you hosted the best amateur players in B.C. at your facility during the play of the BC Amateur Championship in Vernon.

If every facility was exactly the same then this wonderful sport might lose some of its allure. It is a well accepted fact that the major barrier for people trying the sport is a lack of time. Short courses such as Highlands provide a real experience with the sport without the huge time commitment championship courses require.

We wish you well in the 2009 golf season and support your applications for the necessary approvals to make your business successful.

Yours truly,
Kris Jonasson, executive director"

"I'd share my kibbles with Mr. Jonasson," beams Kia.

Friday, June 5, 2009

10kW Wind Turbine progress

Months of planning are now coming to fruition.

A two hundred metre length of tech cable was trenched, inverters and associated components were installed, and wiring is nearing completion. Concrete core tested out at 31.8 mpa (over 90 per cent) within 7 days; a second core test is scheduled for Monday and will hopefully achieve 35 mpa. Update June 8th = 36.5 mpa. Perfect!

"The thing reduces me to the size of a squirrel," laments Kia from the shade.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Golf course aims for parity

by Jennifer Smith, Morning Star Staff.
The Morning Star, Wednesday, May 27/09

Highlands Golf course is one swing closer to being on par with other area courses.

The Coldstream course is hoping to gain a liquor primary licence, which would allow golfers to take their beverages out on the course.

All other area golf courses currently have the proper licence to allow customers to enjoy a drink on the greens. But at Highlands, without such a licence, many golfers smuggle alcohol onto the course.

"All this is, is finally, after seven-and-a-half years, I get parity with other golf courses," said owner Barb Mitchell.

The District of Coldstream has forwarded the liquor licence application to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch -- which will make a decision on whether or not to permit the licence.

Initially Coldstream had laid out a list of comments to go with the application, but now council is keeping its mouth shut and leaving the decision up to the LCLB.

"There's no doubt it should be sent off, but I don't think it should be weighted one way or another," said Coun. Pat Cochrane.

But Coldstream is sending in all staff reports and public correspondence -- including 29 letters of support for the application and six against, as well as a petition opposed to the application signed by 92 residents.

"Here is all the information and do with it as you will," said Coun. Bill Firman, who was opposed to forwarding the application, along with councillors Gyula Kiss and Richard Enns.

Enns and Kiss raised some issues with the zoning of the site, which determines the hours of operation. It allows the business to operate until two hours after sunset.

Mitchell says that has and always will be the case, adding that the course is closed at dark and during the winter.

"Everything will be closed and shut down, doors locked, two hours after sunset. I promise."
But it's not the current operator that concerns some councillors.

It's the subsequent operator I'm concerned about," said Enns, who would like to see the zoning changed to ensure year-round operations aren't permitted.

"A subsequent operator??? "I'm worried about a meteorite," sniffs Kia.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hold the Presses...

I've discovered that Council will indeed forward the LP Application to Victoria
"Without Comment"

You're likely wondering "Gee, were you really present at that meeting?"

I'm beginning to wonder that myself.

It was so confusing, with motions and amendments and discussions and votes.

After 5 months of this gut-wrenching process, seems my sanity is down a pint.

"No Comment," chuckles Kia.

Council condones alcohol smuggling...

In an odd display of musical Black Hats/White Hats, Coldstream Council last night voted against the LP licence application by Highlands Golf to allow liquor sales onto the golf course, versus the present Clubhouse and Patio licence. Councillors previously FOR the licence are now AGAINST and, conversely, one or two AGAINST seemed to have swung. They could have amended the staff recommendation for full support, they could have decided to send the application off to Victoria without making a comment, they could have accepted the staff recommendation...lots of choices. Councillor Cochrane's comment, "We're not representing our constituents (on the petition) if we allow this," was a 180-degree turn. He appeared not to care that the petition was a travesty. Sigh. So let's review the petition: the ANTI group attended 57 homes in the surrounding area and said at each door that "Highlands Golf will become a year-round pub." Council's memory appears short, as they've forgotten last month's meeting where Jeff Mellows--presumably one of two who started the petition--squirmed and back-pedalled while he was at the microphone. "You mean it won't be open year-round?" Staff reply: "no, the facility is governed by zoning to be open only during the Okanagan golf season." "You mean it will close two hours after sunset?" Staff reply: "yes, the facility's hours aren't superseded by liquor licence hours." All of which was followed by considerable "umm...er....a....oh...." from Mr. Mellows. More squirming...and throat-clearing, concluding with "oh, thank you," as he backed away from the podium. The next day I wrote an email to the neighbour Schwartz--presumably the other petition originator--asking them to revisit those 57 homes and ask the correct question. No reply. No "corrected" petition. Now to a particularly distasteful part of recent history...the comments of Schwartz the neighbour. Or, more correctly, the comments made by James Cotter, the Schwartz solicitor, during the February 23rd public hearing, where he stood at the microphone and said "people exposing themselves to the children, urinating at the fenceline." Repeated in Mr. Cotter's written submission in the agenda. Yet--on March 15th--Sheila Schwartz wrote in an email to me: "I do not see anywhere in the correspondence to Coldstream council where we have stated that men are purposefully exposing themselves to our chiildren(sic) in a criminal manner." And Todd Schwartz' comment to me during a brief telephone conversation, "It's just a couple of goons, a couple of young guys." I logged the conversation on my computer, and sent it as a "clarification" to council. Shortly after, his wife denied he had said that. And on it went: "We have never burned illegally," begins an email from Schwartzes on May 2, 2009, "yet you keep saying that we do." a communique from the Schwartz household stated. (The smoke-on-the-patio photo, taken April 27/08 around dusk, was sent to the Bylaw Officer for his records). A stroke of luck -- a firefighter was here that night, appalled at what was occurring. He took a photo of the smoke too. "Wait longer yet," suggests Kia, "and the story will change again." How many versions are there? So the Liquor Inspector's recommendation for the LP licence was ignored by Council. Now what? I don't know of any pub that has a golf course. Do you? Unauthorized liquor is everywhere...even at Coldstream Park, behind Coldstream Elementary School. Right in Council's own back yard. Council condones liquor smuggling into Coldstream Park. Council had a chance to virtually end liquor smuggling at Highlands Golf. They ignored that opportunity. Is Council concerned about the sheer volume of liquor consumed at Coldstream Park? Are they keen to check people's picnic baskets and remove illicit alcohol from the myriad family reunions for which the park's BBQ area is rented each year? Nah... It's not an airport. Search and seizure is frowned upon at a park. And at a golf course," affirms Kia.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Report to Mayor & Council for their decision/resolution

Agenda for May 25th includes the following report from the Chief Administrative Officer of District of Coldstream "Recommendation: THAT the report from the Director of Development Services, dated May 15, 2009, regarding Barbara Mitchell (Highlands Golf) Application for a Liquor-Primary Licence at 7961 Buchanan Road, be received; AND THAT the following correspondence be forwarded to the General Manager, Liquor Control and Licensing Branch regarding the application for a liquor-primary licence at 7961 Buchanan Road: 'At the Regular Meeting of Council held on May 25, 2009, the District of Coldstream Council passed the following resolution with respect to the application for the above named liquor licence: THAT the District of Coldstream Council recommends the issuance of the licence for the following reasons: the impact is expected to be nominal. The nominal impact is based on the following considerations: the existing facility is currently licenced to serve alcohol; the licence change may result in better control of unauthorized alcohol consumption; the person capacity is not proposed to be increased; and, the hourse of operation are controlled by zoning (i.e. closed by 2 hours after sunset). AND THAT the District of Coldstream Council's comments on the prescribed considerations are as follows: (a) the location of the establishment is in a rural and agricultural area and suitably zoned for a golf course and club house; (b) the proximity of the establishment to other social or recreational facilities and public buildings are not close by and, as such, not a concern; (c) the person capacity and hours of liquor service of the establishment are to remain unchanged and the hours restricted by the C.5 Zoning to 2 hours after sunset; (d) the number and market focus or clientele of liquor primary licence establishments within a reasonable distance of the proposed location is not a concern as the closest licenced facility is 5.4 km away; (e) traffic, noise, parking and zoning are not of concern as the change in licence will not affect the existing conditions; (f) population, population density and population trends are not a concern as the change in licence will not affect the existing conditions and the immediate area is not expected to grow significantly in the foreseeable future; (g) relevant socio-economic information are not of concern as the change in licence will not affect the existing conditions; (h) the impact on the community if the application is approved is expected to be nominal. The nominal impact is based on the following considerations: the existing facility is currently licenced to serve alcohol; the licence change may result in better control of unauthorized alcohol consumption; the person capacity is not proposed to be increased; and, the hours of operation are controlled by zoning (i.e. closed by 2 hours after sunset). AND THAT the District of Coldstream Council endorses the comments provided in the report from the Director of Development Services, dated May 15, 2009, regarding Barbara Mitchell's (Highlands Golf's) application for a Liquor-Primary Licence; AND FURTHER THAT the District of Coldstream Council's comments on the views of residents are as follows: the input received from residents ranges widely. Many written submissions were received in support of the licence change and a petition opposing the change was received. The main topics of concern are: increased drinking and driving; general traffic safety; increased noise around the clubhouse and on the course; impact on hours of operations; possibility of this leading to other licences or type of operation (i.e. Pub); and, impact on police costs and demands. A Public Input Session was held on May 11, 2009 to collect views of the residents. The Session was advertised in the local paper and notice was mailed to residents within 3 kilometers, fronting Buchanan Road'." "Arf, Arf!" intones Kia, adding "How d'ya spell 'Hallelujah'? 'Hallelewya'? 'Hallelooya'? Never mind the spelling... Glad to see--after FOUR months--that there ARE people who can comprehend complicated issues. Now it's up to Council on May 25th. Oh...and there was an earthquake FELT near Revelstoke today...relax, everybody, it was just Kia jumping up and down!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Course owner denies pub talk

The Morning Star, Friday, May 15, 2009 Jennifer Smith, reporter The owner of Coldstream's own short-game excellence course is teed off by misinformation being spread about the golf course. Barb Mitchell says Highlands Golf Course is not applying to be a year-round pub and will not be increasing capacity at the clubhouse. Instead, the course owner has applied for a liquor primary licence with the intention of allowing beverage-consuming customers to take their drinks out on the course. By permitting this, Mitchell hopes to eliminate alcohol being smuggled onto the course. "It gives me the same licence Hillview and all other courses have and it's not a pub that they have," said Mitchell. A public meeting on the issue Monday saw a mix of support and opposition to the application. Many letters were received in support of Highlands' application, while a petition against the application garnered close to 100 signatures. "I ask council to consider all Buchanan Road users (pedestrians, cyclists, motorists) who will face higher safety risks from drivers under the influence," said Sheila Schwartz, who was the first to sign the petition. Yet residents like Cora Smith feel the application will create a safer, better controlled situation on the course. "Do you want it (drinking) to continue being illegal and discreet?" Smith asked council, saying that Highlands deserves to have the same privilege that every other course has. "I can walk around at Hillview, have a beer and golf and why not do that at Highlands?" she said, admitting that she too has smuggled beer out on the course because it was not available. Coun. Richard Enns suggested allowing liquor on the course might put safety in jeopardy, and questioned whether it should be permitted since there are children on the course. Smith said it is no different than the many other courses where children are allowed, as is drinking by adults. Coldstream council is expected to make a recommendation to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch on whether or not Highlands should receive the licence. "The licence, if it does come, probably won't be until next year," said Mitchell, adding that if the licence is approved the clubhouse will not be expanded and will remain at 49 seats inside and 80 on the patio. "Plus I'm still legislated by Coldstream to be golf season only and council previously rolled back my hours to two hours after sunset." "Ain't this process fun?", grins Kia.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Liquor Primary licence Public Hearing

The world is run by those who show up... And this time, Highlands Golf supporters showed up. And spoke in favour of approving the application for the same liquor licence held by other area courses. Thanks to Dan, Al, and Cora for their insight and courage to get up in front of a microphone. And 27 others sent in thought-provoking letters of support. I'm very grateful. It wasn't all roses, though. The anti group presented a petition with approx. 92 names from 57 residences, opposed to the licence. Only one problem with their petition. They got the question incorrect. They had asked whether people were in favour of a year-round pub! Heck, I would've signed that petition myself! That wasn't what Highlands applied for. The Coldstream zoning by-law states Highlands can be open only during the golf season. And closing hours had been previously rolled back to two hours after sunset. ...Sound like a year-round pub to you? Didn't think so... Yet this petition will accompany the District's "views" to the liquor licensing branch in Victoria, B.C. for their decision. The petitioners had ample opportunity to read the entire application at the District office. What's the saying? "You can lead a horse to water..." ...but you can't ensure people comprehend what they're reading. "Should've given them an IQ test first," adds Kia.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Councillor Dirk's misleading statement in The Morning Star

So what did Coldstream Councillor Dirk say? (The Morning Star April 19/09). "The impact of this (liquor licence) is felt all the way down Buchanan Road." Abject nonsense, Councillor Dirk! Highlands Golf has had a liquor licence for 7 years. I recently asked the RCMP for a list of complaints/infractions encountered on Buchanan Road as a result of Highlands Golf operations. "In 7 years, there was one complaint, and that was for Noise," answers an official with the RCMP's Vernon office. The new licence application will allow golfers to take a beer out onto the golf course during play. It's the same liquor licence possessed by all other bona fide, professionally-built golf courses. I am disappointed Councillor Dirk appears unable to resist fear mongering. Just like the current liquor licence, the new licence means no off-sales, no capacity changes, no traffic increase, no neon signs, no clubhouse or patio renovations, no pool or shuffleboard tables, no "dancing girls", no karaoke. Perhaps this statement is indicative of the councillor's ability to comprehend difficult topics. Frankly, Councillor Dirk appears unable to separate the wheat from the chaff. Another so afflicted is the neighbour on the west, as evidenced by her comment in the same article: "This is a golf recreation facility, not a facility focused on food and liquor services." Huh?!? So now we're not to serve food or beer? asks Kia.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

"Bogies to Birdies" tournament

Despite cool weather during their annual tournament, Bogies to Birdies juniors were all smiles for their group photo on Saturday afternoon. Aided by dedicated parent volunteers, manager Indira Jacura took over the reins this year following the departure of Scott Harnett, who has moved to Edmonton, Alberta to pursue career opportunities. A barbecue for the kids and parents concluded the event.

Friday, April 24, 2009

10 kW Wind Turbine arrives on site!

After travelling more than 9,000 km, it's here! Contractor is Energy West Power Solutions of Falkland, B.C. Interested in a wind turbine for your site? Call Paul Wende at 250.306.7697 or email powernow@telus.net Stay tuned for installation photos.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Liquor application no longer collecting dust on Council's desk

The Morning Star story Sunday, April 19/09, by Jennifer Smith Highlands Golf has taken another swing at landing a new liquor licence. The Buchanan Road golf course had previously applied to Coldstream for a change in the hours of operation, but was denied. Now, the course is seeking a liquor primary licence from the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch. The short course currently has a food primary licence, which restricts alcoholic beverages to the food facility. In a letter of intent, applicant and Highlands Golf owner Barb Mitchell states: "The benefit to Coldstream with my LP (liquor primary licence) would be that golfers are able to take a beverage with them onto the course, as they can at other courses." Having had golfers smuggle alcoholic beverages onto the course previously, Mitchell says the new licence would give her better control of consumption on the entire property. The application shows that hours of operation requested are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily as well as one beverage cart on site. But at least one neighbour to the site is concerned about the impacts if this licence is approved. "This type of change does not fit in the neighbourhood," said Sheila Schwartz. "This is a golf recreation facility, not a facility focused on food and liquor services." Coldstream will be seeking input to the application at a public hearing expected in approximately one month. Neighbours within three kilometres of Highlands Golf on Buchanan Road will be notified of the hearing and newspaper ads will be published to give as many residents the opportunity to speak. "The impact of this is felt all the way down Buchanan Road," said Councillor Doug Dirk.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Season opens Saturday April 4th

The mini Ice Age appears to be over at last! For the first couple of weeks, #8 will be closed until the new and taller Pole-and-Net system has been installed. A $1.00 greens fee discount will be offered until the new system is up. Greens look beautiful, having overwintered well. Fairways look awful, likely a result of spending 5 months under the crushing weight of snow and ice. "Nothing that a few thousand dollars worth of fertilizer and water won't fix", offers Kia. Full clubhouse services available approx. mid-April. See you soon!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rookie council swayed by drama

Does time go too fast for you?

Are there not enough hours in the day?

Come to Coldstream...where time not only stands still, clocks turn backwards.

In a public meeting to re-re-consider closing hours at Highlands Golf, council voted 4-2 against the application to close at 11 p.m.

Councillor Cochrane—who heads the community’s Economic Development committee—and Councillor Kiss saw through what I can only describe as a smoke-and-mirrors presentation by a neighbour’s solicitor and the group’s allies.

Not wanting to place any Highlands’ patrons in the line of fire, I discouraged—with thanks—supporters from speaking on behalf of my application, which one brave soul ignored.

If I rebutted every comment, I knew it would ultimately prove that this—like many relationships with neighbours—had not grown beyond the pissing match level.

Yet if a defensive response wasn’t adopted, the reputation of Highlands Golf—indeed mine as owner operator—would surely be severely compromised.

Catch 22 if I’ve ever seen one.

So I rebutted, which served to relegate the pissing match to new heights.

Because I had to...for me, for my reputation...for Highlands Golf.

The next morning, when Councillor Enns telephoned me I thanked him for his call and admitted no surprise at the hearing’s outcome. In fact, I told him council as a whole was a “good mix” of people. I resisted the urge to add that Council needs more experience.

The effect on Highlands Golf of again having to close “2 hours after sunset, based on Canada Meteorological charts” will be substantial. Despite written text in the zoning bylaw that clubhouse operations are ancillary to a golf course operation, neighbour issues against clubhouse increased hours were: “why? So the party can continue and more alcohol served?”

The effect on my business plan was, after all, the basis for my 2002 appeal to council in asking that the Covenant be legally withdrawn. Hours were increased to 11 p.m. for six years. Or were they? Round and round we go, where this will stop nobody knows.

While I won’t feign surprise, having to publicly admit—on several occasions in the last two months—that Highlands Golf was in contravention of business hours was a strange and altogether foreign sensation.

The only analogy that springs to mind—and a bad one at that—is to have a child, and then set out to destroy its health...consciously. Waning vigor would be proof of success.

Councillor Enns concluded our phone conversation with “You can re-apply”.

(note to self: where is that incredulity icon? Is there an icon for self-mutilation?)

So, is the District of Coldstream open for business?


If the business is slaughtering lambs.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Tournament Bookings...phone 250.545.5300

Staff tournament? Family reunion? Social Club event? It's easy...
  • select either 10 oz. Striploin steak or boneless Chicken breast for each person in your group.
  • select a tournament date and time.
  • same reasonable prices as last year (debit, Visa and Master Card).
  • phone 250.545.5300 to reserve.
"Book early to avoid disappointment," says Kia, the official greeter.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

We won't be golfing anytime soon...

...according to Kia. It's February 14, 2009, yet the typical Okanagan early spring is nowhere to be seen...or felt. The recent 10-day spell of valley fog--with no sun at all--was hard to bear after December's Siberian arctic outflow plagued the region. But daylight is now noticeably longer, a consolation. Snowmelt remains slow with highs that seldom exceed +1 Celsius. Winter is a good time to lavish attention on plants. Mine are mostly palms that overwinter indoors. Some palms love a warm winter, and spend this time in the residence. Some actually prefer cooler temperatures (than a house) in winter. The barely-heated clubhouse is perfect for them. Palm Pictures: Doesn't everybody's foyer look like this? A few more indoors...the sunny day was mid-September: Here's the clubhouse where most of the plants spend winter:

Friday, February 13, 2009


Avalanches...numerous horizontal "rips" (shown in the lower half of photo). Small enough to more accurately be called slippage taken Jan.8/09

Highlands Golf Public Hearing slated for Feb.23/09

This "fun blog" is interrupted now for serious stuff... EITHER GOVERNMENT DOESN'T LISTEN, or I DON'T SPEAK LOUD ENOUGH... Feb.13/09 Notice of public hearing--to be held February 23/09--appeared in The Morning Star today. Text follows: Purpose: Highlands Golf has made application to amend Section 503.1 0.b. of the Recreation Commercial (C.5) Zone hours of operation from being closed to the public no later than two (2) hours after sunset to eleven (11) p.m. So what? With a new Mayor and Council, a new planner, combined with the administrative clerk position remaining vacant, I felt it was a good time for some background. Highlands Golf opened on July 13, 2001. During the two public hearings subsequent to the facility opening, a public hearing resulted in placement of Covenant #KP90603 and Priority Agreement KP90604. What did the Covenant say? "The Grantor covenants and agrees that any commercial use of the Land, including any premises licensed to serve alcoholic beverages, must (a) be operated only during the golf season applicable in the District of Coldstream, British Columbia; and (b) be closed to the public no later than two (2) hours after sunset; and for the purpose of this covenant, the time of sunset is determined by the Meteorological Service of Canada." About a year later, I wrote the following letter to the Mayor and Council: Sent by e-mail September 16, 2002 Mayor Postill and Council Coldstream Municipality Your Worship, As you are aware, a Covenant was registered on September 21, 2000 that contains two conditions: (1) Highlands Golf can only operate during the golf season, and, (2) Highlands Golf must close to the public 2 hours after sunset daily. I respectfully request the Mayor and Council adopt a resolution to remove the Covenant from my title because of its restriction on my business opportunities. I know of no other golf facility impacted by such a Covenant that limits their ability to conduct business. This week will mark the second year since the Covenant was registered, and I am confident you will agree that Highlands Golf is a good corporate citizen in Coldstream. Thank you for your consideration. (signed, etc.) Photocopy emailed to Tom Christensen (MLA) Laws in B.C. covering local governance allow a Covenant to be legally removed without a new public hearing, which is the avenue Mayor Postill and Council elected. During a Council meeting in October of 2002, after discussion on the inequitable impacts of the Covenant (versus other golf courses' hours), a Resolution was passed which legally removed the Covenant. I received a copy, and forwarded it to my lawyer, who submitted the Resolution to Land Titles Office in Kamloops. A letter from (undisclosed name) Lawyer dated January 20, 2003 (File No.15,418) advised the following: "Re: Release of Covenant KP90603 and Priority Agreement KP90604. We wish to advise that the Release of Covenant was accepted for registration in the Kamloops Land Title Office on December 30, 2002 under No. KT143672. We enclose: Copy of duplicate registered Release of Covenant, (and) State of Title Certificate showing the status of title as at January 14, 2003 with the covenant removed." A copy was also sent to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch in Victoria (I don't recall if I -- or my lawyer -- sent it to them). All the paperwork was done...or so I thought. Imagine my surprise six and a half years later... during a new provincial application process in November/08--where one requirement was to provide a copy of the current zoning for the property. I picked up the C-5 Zoning at the Municipal Hall and--just before popping it into the envelope holding the provincial application--scanned its text. It read: ..."two hours after sunset..." I was stunned! The legally-removed Covenant was still "on the Zoning books"! I called Mayor Jim Garlick and met him a couple of days later to give him copies of my documents. Mayor Garlick indicated he understood I had concerns about the impact on my business. As a courtesy, and to give him an idea of what had occurred in the past, I handed the mayor a copy of a 2001 survey by Jeff Mellows (neighbour two doors west), which sought to prevent my facility from opening. I also gave copies of several documents (including the new provincial application, as a courtesy, months before it would appear on his desk) to Craig Broderick, at Coldstream, during a meeting the next week at which Bob Bibby, bylaw officer was also present. Craig Broderick advised me that any and all change(s) to a Zoning bylaw must go to Public Hearing. "Even if it's Coldstream Municipality's error?", I asked. He replied "Yes." Wendy Kay had been retired the previous month (she would have remembered back to 2002), and Greg Betts was now head of North Okanagan Regional District. I visited Greg Betts on the day he "got the nod" to head NORD (being the first to congratulate him as he stepped out of the boardroom). Greg recollected the details, and added: "I'll take half the blame." I told him it wasn't my goal to place blame, simply to have Coldstream's error fixed. The issue was placed on the Agenda for the January 26/09 meeting at which time I was asked to be available to answer questions. I noted the agenda read "A bylaw to amend subsection...by deleting the words "2 hours after sunset. For the purpose of this regulation, the time of sunset is determined by Canada Weather meteorological charts", and adding (11) PM". I told Craig Broderick that the Covenant, when removed, would remove the entire paragraph (and that the 11 pm "addition" was arbitrary). I reminded him he cannot simply add something on his own, despite the liquor license hours showing I could serve until 11 p.m. At the January 26th meeting, I stood to answer questions. I indicated that Coldstream's error had placed me in violation of business hours for six years. After a couple of points, Councillor Doug Dirk asked me to explain the types of liquor licenses and recent changes. Despite this meeting NOT being about liquor, I explained that over the last 10 or so years since the end of the NDP government, nineteen licenses had been reduced to two--either Food Primary (FP) or Liquor Primary (LP), and that the Branch no longer had any interest in where a proprietor placed televisions, or how many a facility owned, that type of thing. I was more than a little upset that Councillor Dirk focussed his questions on liquor licensing when the bylaw error and requested change had nothing whatsoever to do with liquor (which would be further addressed in several months by a new provincial application). Strange indeed that no-one even mentioned "the error", but I gave them my opinion that business hours don't belong in a zoning bylaw...perhaps a function of a business license, but not zoning. I disagreed that 11 p.m. belonged there because it appeared to have been arbitrarily added, adding that if the Covenant was gone (and it was), then the paragraph was gone too, leaving no mention at all of hours. I indicated that I would prefer to be open until 12 Midnight. Strange too that Councillor Dirk was the only councillor who sat on council back in 2001 and 2002 at which time the council-of-the-day (of which he was a member) Resolved to remove it. He said he couldn't be expected to remember exact details, and that he "would really like to see it (the Resolution)." Strange also that after I emphasized I am not the applicant, the newpaper today read: "Highlands Golf has made application..." I suppose it's entirely beneath local government to state: "We screwed up, so we're having a public hearing to fix it." I think their copies of paperwork must have been lost/misplaced during the move into the new municipal office. The Bylaw amendment received first and second reading, and I spoke in more than a whisper to remind them "this isn't about liquor, this is about zoning." A public hearing date of Feb.23/09 was set. When I mentioned that to Councillor Firman as he approached me after the meeting, he asked "Are you picking a fight with us?" Sigh... (note to self...get an incredulity icon). Or is there a railroaded icon?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 12/09 Winter drags on and on

So, it's time to learn how to Blog. I should have it figured out by the time spring arrives Soon I hope to have daily updates on: My Bios weatherstation Earthquakes in BC View from the Window Palm of the Day Rocks/Fossils/Geological features