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.