Monday, January 24, 2011

Water Goes Uphill in the North Okanagan

...Judging by yet another round of rate increases.

On Friday, the Regional District of North Okanagan issued what they term a "preliminary review".

It can't be preliminary if the rates have been enacted and are merely subjec to budget ratification.
And it can't be a review when new rates are taking effect now.

That aside...three areas of water billing are affected:
  1. The first 20 cubic metres--the "allowance"--of water consumption in each of four Quarters is gone.  You will pay 60 cents per cubic metre as soon as the first drop hits your sink.
  2. The Base Fee--the amount you would pay if you used no water at all in each Quarter--has risen to $66.20, an increase of $16.03.  Through 12 months, that equals $64.12 more for not using any water.
  3. Bureaucrats--likely feeling the growing public chill--smartly chose to eliminate the 2010 third quarter surcharge of 18 cents per cubic metre.  Third Q--you know--when it's really really really hot and we need to water more).
  4. Then, just to prove these gougers have left no stone unturned in their search for, they get you coming or going with the sliding block increases: Block 1 is 0-10 m3 = 60 cents/m3.   Block 2 is 10 (shouldn't it be "11"?) to 40 m3 =75 cents /m3;  Block 3 is 40 (41) to 80 m3 = 90 cents/m3;  and Block 4 is any quarterly usage over 80 (81) m3 at $1.10 /m3.
One cubic metre (m3) equals 1,000 liters which equal 220 Imperial gallons, far too much for one bath unless you have at least a few people sharing that bath with you.

All joking aside, this isn't about conserving a scarce resource--or people's taps would automatically be turned off at a maximum per year usage for that household.  It's about getting the maximum revenue that the public can bear so that the water utility doesn't have to address the slippery issue of having too many engineers on staff.  Engineers who hire work out to other engineers, acting as consultants, so the first engineers can be at arms-length (blame) from decisions that go sideways.

Bureaucratic professionals are overseers, they don't do the work themselves, which adds up to a whopping 45 to 50 per cent of what we pay going to wages and benefits. 

Increasingly, committees of unelected people make decisions that affect you and your family.  You cannot vote them in--or out.  They've been appointed.  Noteworthy in this category is the Okanagan Basin Water Board, who now give grants to communities!  But only if those communities jump through the OBWB's hoops.  Heaven forbid the OBWB would actually focus on something meaty, like increasing reservoir storage at the Duteau plateau for a growing community!   Or Interior Health (beats me why they insist on adding the word "Authority" to that handle, as though they lack clout!)...who are mandating water quality changes that would make Abu Dhabi proud.  But unlike the OBWB, they don't bring a penny to the table.  Neither do they prevent mudboggers and unauthorized access to the Duteau Creek water reservoirs, with nary a sign or improved fencing planned.  Nope, they simply demand what we must do. 

The result of this latest flash through family wallets is that rich people can use all the water they wish--because they can well afford to pay whatever the bill says.  The waning middle class--and poor families--simply cannot conserve the resource any further than they already have, especially today with the focus on growing your own food.  What's next for them?  Not washing clothes?  Not bathing the children?

It'll soon be cheaper to truck water in from Aunt Martha in Winnipeg. 

"We have an Aunt Martha in Winnipeg?", queries Kia.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

...the only place you'll see videos of Viper Hockey Games and Stars of the Game.

Free classifieds.  Great local restaurant features with Phantom Foodie.  Tips on getting--and keeping--a job.  Hugh and Kathy's Excellent Adventure.  Physio advice. 

And lots more.

Welcome to the community,

"Any classifieds for dog treats?", asks Kia.

So what do you do all winter?

That's the question I'm asked most often when I run into Highlands' members in town throughout the winter, generally followed by: "...must be nice to have six months off."

Yes, it is nice.
No, we don't go away (bin der, dun dat, as the saying goes).
The world's a different place nowadays, so travel has less appeal for us both.

My reply generally begins with "Do you recall how crowded it was on the patio during golf season?"  People nod in agreement, laughing, when I say:  "I'm making more..."

More what?  Palms.  Palms...oh yes...those lovely, swaying-in-the-breeze and whipping-you-in-the-face thingys on three sides of the clubhouse patio all summer long. 

And there's always room for a few more, so here we go:

Cocos nucifera, under lights during winter

Wodyetia bifurcata (Foxtail palm) seedlings are growing nicely

Nannorhops ritchiana, Pritchardia hillebrandii, Chamaerops humilis   

...with more still to germinate. 

There's also the Trachycarpus fortunei in the heated palm hut to look after.

33+ (yes!) year old Trachycarpus fortunei

"I'm so bored, I'm waiting for this Roomba to move so I have something to play with," moans Kia.

...winter!  (yawn)
...did you see it move?  think I did...

It'll soon be late-March, and the start of the golf season...