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on my business plan was, after all, the basis for my 2002 appeal to council in asking that the Covenant be legally withdrawn.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 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 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