Monday, May 2, 2011

Coldstream Councillor Gyula Kiss needs a Dictionary

It could be pre-election posturing by Councillor Kiss.
It could be that he needs a refresher / reminder of historical water decisions here.
Or get a dictionary and look up what subsidy means.

Or maybe he just needs to believe Al Cotsworth, water utility manager, when Al stated "These six businesses don't need treated water," referring to the fact that chlorinated water is all that is available from the water utility to two golf courses (one of which is Highlands Golf), two nurseries, a light manufacturing facility that uses water for cooling, and a tourist attraction. 

Councillor Kiss' objection to the six businesses being billed about one-third of the cost the public is levied could be an attempt to garner residential votes for the November election.

Or maybe he needs a reminder that in 2005 we six businesses were faced with (former Vernon mayor) Sean Harvey's demand to the North Okanagan Regional District board that the non-potable commercial irrigation water category be eliminated in its entirety.  We six companies obtained a solicitor's services to represent us at the NORD board meeting and proved that while other communities were increasing the number of categories based on their users' needs, then-Mayor Harvey sought to reduce this area's to two:  "residential or farm", he was quoted as saying.  Ultimately the Board voted down Sean Harvey's request.  And ultimately Vernon elected a new mayor.

Now, six years later, the rest of the Board today seems tongue-tied, and Councillor Kiss' admonishment "(other) commercial and domestic customers are subsidizing the use of this water," was printed in The Morning Star on April 24, 2011, under the heading Water Use Charges Questioned

Okay, Councillor Kiss, so you want to talk about subsidies?

Pull up a chair and listen.
Highlands Golf C-5 commercial zoning is calculated by your Council as a multiplier of the residential rate of 2.95 to 1.
Highlands Golf pays three times the mill rate of residential property taxes.
Does that meet Councillor Kiss' definition of subsidy?

And until recently (before C-4 screamed bloody murder), major industry paid four times the residential rate.  The district of Coldstream is striving to reduce the class 4 tax rate by 2.5% per year in future; likely because they want to prove communities aren't built "on the backs of business". 

You also may be interested, Councillor Kiss, that Highlands Golf received a letter from NORD dated March 7, 2011, that confirmed this property's annual irrigation use and maximum flow available based on this property's allocation.  In 2010, irrigation water totalled 2,117 cubic metres.  The allocation on this property is -- are you still listening, Councillor Kiss? -- 22,275 cubic metres. 

As your "subsidy" comment proves you need help with math, Councillor Kiss, allow me to spell it out for you this way.
In 2010, Highlands Golf used less than one-tenth of its annual water allocation.

I'd say that was damn commendable.

Back to golf courses.  Let's compare golf course water sources and competition for the retail golf market.
Of 15 golf courses surveyed by NORD research in 2005 in an area covering about 100 miles, only two (Hillview and Highlands) are on a metered system through the Greater Vernon water utility.  Predator Ridge and Vernon Golf are on meters, but use spray effluent, under contractual low-cost agreements with the city.  Seven other golf courses--including Royal York in Armstrong--are on "self" (wells).  The same is true of the two nurseries here:  Swan Lake and Art Knapp are on Greater Vernon water utility, while their competition (Bylands) is on a flat rate in Westbank.

So has it now come down to a case of wishing we had built our commercial facilities in another jurisdiction?
We commercial irrigation users would've been treated considerably better in Armstrong, Kelowna (both Glenmore and Black Mountain districts), Spallumcheen, Salmon Arm, Kamloops, Osoyoos and Westbank. 

Thirty-five years ago--when water allocation began to be purchased for the property that would one day feature Highlands Golf--taps spewed beige water, sometimes even containing lumpy organic debris.  Perfect for irrigation.  Today, irrigation water is chlorinated and additional demands by Interior Health to disinfect water at the new treatment plant is still "on the table".  The Greater Vernon Water Utility has plans to separate drinking water from domestic via dual lines, but the earliest (and unlikely) forecast for separation is 2015.

I'll happily bet a water official that separation does not occur by 2015.

And I'll also bet that Councillor Gyula Kiss will not regain his council seat in the November municipal election in Coldstream.

And I bet the other five commercial ventures wish they had located elsewhere.

"So we're moving?" queries Kia.

It's difficult to move a golf course.
But six-to-one say Councillor Kiss should move out of his director and councillor seats if he continues to lean whichever way the wind blows that week.