Friday, February 26, 2010

Water Rate Gouging

Yes, water rates should increase.
Yes, the snowpack is the lowest in recent history.

But--and it's a big but--what is evident in the last few years is the insidious and increasingly unchecked control that bureaucrats and committees of unelected citizens have over issues that affect our lives.

First things first...

Greater Vernon Advisory Committee Feb. 11, 2010 Budget Workshop
  • that an across the board water rate increase of 9% be approved;
  • that 20 cubic metres of consumption be included in the quarterly base fee at a rate of 92 cents per cubic meter;
  • that the rate per cubic meter be increased to $1.10 for the third quarter billing cycle (July to September).
  • that the base fee be charged to all properties with a service connection whenever the property is not served by an approved alternate potable water source.
  • that the rising block rate concept be approved in principle and that staff report back with a proposal to implement rising block rates for 2011.
  • that staff consult with the farming/agricultural community and report back with a recommendation on the appropriate criteria to qualify for the irrigation rate.
  • that staff ensure that appropriate notification is provided to GVW water customers regarding 2010 rate changes.
B.C. Hydro did it a year ago through the arms-length B.C. Utilities Commission, when the Step 2 "conservation rate" (more correctly, the penalty rate) was implemented.   What does Hydro's Step 2 have to do with our area's proposed water rate increases?  Well...see the second point above, concerning 20 cubic metres...doesn't that sound like a Step 2?

Now the Greater Vernon Water Authority (GVWA) is doing it through the Greater Vernon Services Commission (GVSC), under the North Okanagan Regional District's purview.  The common denominator?  None of these people are elected by us.

Ratepayers are routinely gouged to mitigate the effects of planning deficiencies (and downright bungling) by bureaucrats, all under the guise of either the environment or the global common good or whatever is the catchphrase of the day...

The people we do elect are powerless to stem the might of the bureaucracy.  The people we do elect are not without blame however.  Our councillors are very quick to appoint committees ("stakeholders", neighbourhood groups, workshops, and the like) to chew on a subject and spit out recommendations to Council.

All above board and, well, very transparent, in the opinion of elected officials as "the ultimate decision remains ours."  Not so, because once a stakeholder/community recommendation is offered, councillors have--time and time again--lacked the intestinal fortitude to go against the group's recommendations.   

The days of politicians making decisions for us because they represent us--are gone.

And to prove the adage the only constant is change,  today's Morning Star newspaper headlines--albeit on page 17--Changes to Water Act (is) focus of workshops to (among other things) "explore proposals for change".

Residents appear to have no recourse to decisions made by unelected groups.  Perhaps this is the crux of the governance debacle that has plagued the North Okanagan in recent years.

You may recall that former B.C. Minister of Municipal Affairs, Ida Chong, instituted the process of governance review in our area.  It went nowhere--not entirely because Ida Chong was an ineffectual minister, which she indeed was--but the governance review failed because of the power of bureaucrats whose minions are protected by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the B.C. Government Employees' Union.

While the hated--or loved--"A word" (Amalgamation) does pop up every few years as a result of just such examples as above, love it or hate it, amalgamation would hopefully get rid of an entire level of government.

Which level?  Your guess is as good as mine, but this stakeholder and uninvited committee member would celebrate the demise of the North Okanagan Regional District.   What of the regional areas such as BX, Cherryville and others, you ask?  Plunk 'em on the laps of their nearest City or Municipality...either Coldstream or Vernon.  Those communities would love the tax dollars.  We residents would be eternally grateful for no more expansions to the NORD building (twice in eight years), and all those salaries and desks and computers...and committees of stakeholder groups.

Elected officials would, once again, be responsible to voters for their setting of water rates and conditions.

Water...a finite resource.  Elected representatives...powerless today.

"So I'll resume my digging," offers Kia, adding "I might find water."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Who will light the Olympic Cauldron at B.C. Place tonight?

My guess is Dr. Roberta Bondar, Canadian astronaut.

Enter your guess under Comments, below.
(No entries after 5:30 p.m. Pacific time Friday, February 12, 2010)

We were all incorrect...
Torch bearers at B.C. Place were Rick Hanson (Man in Motion), Catriona LeMay Doan, Nancy Green Raine, Steve Nash and Wayne Gretzky.  The indoor cauldron was lit.

Wayne Gretzky then rode to the outdoor cauldron and lit it among cheers from onlookers. 

It was a great opening ceremony...Congratulations Vancouver!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Warm Winter 2009/2010

Minimum temperatures for Coldstream, B.C., Canada this winter, using Bios remote weather station: 
Dates omitted indicate similar temps to the last date listed.

Oct. 27/09        .4C
Oct. 28          -2.2C
Oct. 29          -0.2C
Nov. 11         -5.0C
Nov. 12         -5.0C
Nov. 13         -2.0C
Nov. 14         -5.0C
Nov. 15          1.0C
Nov. 16          2.0C
Nov. 18          2.0C
Nov. 27         -1.1C
Nov. 28         -0.6C
Dec.   1         -5.0C
Dec.   2         -8.0C
Dec.   3         -7.9C
Dec.   4         -6.0C
Dec.   5         -5.5C
Dec.   6       -12.0C
Dec.   7       -15.0C
Dec.   8       -16.0C
Dec.   9       -12.3C
Dec.  10      -10.0C
Dec.  11      -12.0C
Dec.  12      -  8.9C
Dec.  13      -13.4C
Dec.  14      -20.6C
Dec.  15      -14.0C
Dec.  16      -  7.0C
Dec.  17      -  3.1C
Dec.  22      -10.3C
Dec.  23      -13.1C
Dec.  24      -12.5C
Dec.  25      -10.1C
Dec.  26      -13.2C
Dec.  27      -10.5C
Dec.  28      -10.2C
Dec.  29      - 0.6C
Dec.  31      - 7.0C
Jan.1/10     - 3.2C
Jan. 2         - 3.0C
Jan. 3         - 1.4C
Jan. 4           0.0C
Jan. 5         - 1.0C
Jan. 6         - 8.8C
Jan. 7         -12.5C
Jan. 8         -  6.7C
Jan. 9         -  5.2C
Jan. 10       -  2.8C
Jan. 11          1.0C
Jan. 12          0.6C
Jan. 13          0.7C
Jan. 14          0.8C
Jan. 15        - 1.6C
Jan. 18        - 0.3C
Jan. 19          1.8C
Jan. 20          0.0C
Jan. 23        - 6.8C
Jan. 24        - 1.4C
Jan. 26          2.0C
Jan. 27        - 4.0C
Jan. 29          0.5C
Jan. 30        - 0.5C
Jan. 31          1.0C
Feb.  1           1.0C
Feb. 2          - 0.6C
Feb. 3            0.0C
Feb. 4            1.2C
Feb. 5            1.0C
Feb. 6            3.1C
Feb. 7          - 0.7C
Feb. 8          - 0.5C
Feb. 9          -1.0C
Feb. 10        -1.0C
Feb. 11         0.5C

"Is it any wonder I'm shedding?", muses Kia.

Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.