Friday, July 29, 2011

The North Okanagan...over-governed and under-served

And today's Morning Star headline story "Mayor draws sharp attack" (by Richard Rolke) is simply more proof.

Jim Garlick, Coldstream mayor, says he is increasingly frustrated with Wayne Lippert over the future of water and parks and recreation.

"The main instigator of virtually every service review or the instigator of disruption (at meetings) is Wayne Lippert," Garlick told the Morning Star.  "I don't believe anyone can get along with Wayne Lippert.  We've seen that with the fire dispatch at the regional district."

Garlick is particularly upset with comments Lippert made about Coldstream not supporting Vernon withdrawing from water distribution.

"It just shows they can't hold to an agreement, so if you can't hold to an agreement with someone, what kind of partnership can you expect to have?"  Lippert told Kiss FM (radio station).

Garlick says Coldstream has been consistent about keeping the water utility intact and has been part of the negotiation process.

"Wayne Lippert has a way of turning everything into a fight,"  he said.

Garlick claims the ongoing disputes may be Lippert's way of encouraging amalgamation of Greater Vernon's jurisdictions.

"That's his main goal.  I don't think it's the City of Vernon, it's Wayne Lippert.  He wants to bring the Ontario amalgamation model here,"  said Garlick.

Lippert denies he is forcing amalgamation.

"Amalgamation will happen eventually if it's something citizens want," he said.

Lippert stands by his concerns about Coldstream's handling of the water utility.

"We all agreed to sit down with the province to work out an agreement and look at the best models.  Coldstream agreed to that but never signed the agreement.  They stalled it," he said.

Garlick opposes amalgamation and says the current governance structure allows his council to address the specific interests of Coldstream and to be financially accountable.

"In the case of amalgamation, service in the area would go to the service levels and costs of the city.  This would include garbage pick-up, transit and other departments that would have little if any benefits to the outside areas.  There will be the need to take on the costs of roads in the electoral areas from the province with increased expectations of service by the residences for those roads," he said.

However, Lippert says residents in all jurisdictions are considering amalgamation because of the disputes over water and parks.

"People are talking to me about it," he said.  "Areas B and C should be amalgamated with Vernon or Coldstream or incorporated as a municipality on their own.  In the long run, (amalgamation for) the whole North Okanagan should be looked at."  (end of Morning Star article)

 "...the current governance structure allows his council to address the specific interests of Coldstream and to be financially accountable. "

Allows?  to be financially accountable?  Allows?  Hmmm again!

"Maybe Coldstream's Mayor Garlick has spent too much time over an open formaldehyde jar in his lab," suggests Kia.

So typical of Garlick to not fathom the dollar savings of amalgamation...just think....we would save millions of dollars annually if Coldstream and Vernon amalgamated, if the Regional District were "gone", and Areas (affectionately named) F'n'G were absorbed into the nearest City. 

There might even be money left over to disinfect drinking water at Duteau Creek...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Emery Bardock off to Simon Fraser University

We first met Emery when she was just a teen, and the Kal Tire Junior Linkster Tour played Highlands Golf as part of their Okanagan circuit.

She's all grown up now, and this September is off to join the highly-touted golf team at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

Emery Bardock, all grown up    
Emery shot a 61 at Highlands today..."...took a double on number seven", she grinned, adding "great practice for my short game."

As a youngster, Emery participated in the Junior Linkster Tour under the leadership of Scott Harnett.

We'll be watching for your success at SFU, Emery!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Premier Christy Clark and the Liberals damaging Small Businesses

Occasionally a compelling Letter to the Editor warrants reprinting.

Mr. Jeff Wuolle--a small business owner in the North Okanagan--wrote the following, printed in The Morning Star on Sunday, July 3, 2011.

"Small business takes a hit, again
I had to wait so I could collect my thoughts on your most recent action plan announcements contained in The Vancouver Sun, in regards to the food and beverage industry being required to provide nutritional information on menu lists.  This, Madam Premier, is the final straw for many small businesses.

I am going to list some salient points that you and your cabinet members just don't seem to comprehend or deem important enough to consider.  I am but one operator in this province who is feeling the onerous and excessive weight of your policies while you pander for the votes of the general populace.

Since HST was introduced (Ed.note:  July 1, 2010), or should we say shoved down our collective throats, I have experienced the following:
  • Closed one of our three operations and reduced our workforce by seven staff members at a payroll impact of over $85,000, plus their spending in the local economy of a 2.5-to-1 ratio impact as an economic generator.
  • Returned our provincial liquor licence at a loss to the province of liquor tax and HST.
The increase of the minimum wage, while justified, could have been spread out over a longer impact period.  While I currently pay well over the new pay scales, I have now been approached by some staff to ascertain my plans to increase their wages because "they are now experienced staff members."

The possibility of your raising the small business tax by two per cent to cover the HST rebates to the general populace, and of course, that tax increase may never be rescinded in the future.

The ongoing increases in operating costs experienced daily (that are almost impossible to pass on daily to our customers and would they pay the rising costs anyway?) -- food, B.C. Hydro, telephone and all other operating expenses.  Oh, and let's not forget the increasing municipal costs from taxes to water to utilities, local assessments and on and on.

All of this while indexed pensions, salaries and expenses to our elected officials carry on unabated.

And then recently, I am being told that you are going to require nutritional contents on menus.

Notwithstanding daily efforts to provide home-cooked quality, meals and baking, we also provide all information that we have available when infrequently requested to do so.

The cavalier attitude of the president of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservice Industry that "it only costs $500 per menu item to have your menu analyzed for content" is absolutely a ridiculous scenario.

As of today, that would be approximately $32,000 to cover off our basic menu items, not including ongoing daily specials and other products.  The upside, of course, would be that it would generate additional revenue for you to so wisely spend in the province.

Our industry sector is being flagellated to death with your policies and taxes.  I and everyone else would like to know where you and your staff are obtaining information that proves we have recovered from our recent recessionary economy, to the degree that we should be inundated with additional costs at this time?  I would dearly love for you to take some time out of your schedule and come put on a small business owner's hat for just one day and experience the pleasure of currently conducting business in this province.  Have you even asked about the number of food and beverage operations that have closed or are on the edge of the abyss of doing so?  How much are you and your colleagues prepared to pay for your daily food intake, without it coming out of taxpayers' pockets through reimbursed expenses?

As you slowly but inexplicably grind the provincial economy to a halt, I and most others would like to know when you will step back from these cavalier policies and also take your hands out of our financial pockets?"
Jeff Wuolle

"I don't need nutrition info on my kibbles," suggests Kia.

Thanks, Kia.  
And thanks, Jeff Wuolle, for perfectly expressing my own feelings as a small business owner.  The province's new Premier continues to shift policies decidedly to the left.