Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Palm Trees Protected for Winter

...and not a moment too soon, with a -10.7C low at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 20th.

Hughie the carpenter had some extra help this year...Hayden and Patrick...and the Trachycarpus fortunei's panels went up quickly.

After electric heater and T-3 Thermocube were installed and hooked up to the GFI, the palm is all set for winter.

Now for the two Washingtonia filiferas and three Yucca rostratas...A more substantially-insulated covering (than shown below...a stop-gap measure) will be needed for the five-month winter ahead. 


 The first Washingtonia is heated with two strands of C-9 Christmas lights, set on a T-3 Thermocube, again into a GFI...the light string continues on the ground (un-needed bulbs are unplugged) to the three Yucca rostrata (about 10 lights each) , concluding with the last two strands of lights at the last Washingtonia filifera.

Topped off with waterproof covers after setting black garbage bags filled with leaves (for additional insulation near roots), the electricity is plugged in and ready to go.  Remote sensors register temperatures in all the palm enclosures, and display it in the residence.

Fortunately, this unappealing set-up isn't visible from the road!

And then there are the tropical, indoor palms. ...some require a rather cool temperature during winter, so they're in the clubhouse:
And then there are the warm-winter loving tropical palms...back into the residence.  So that's what a foyer is for!!!

The seven-foot Wodyetia bifurcata (Foxtail) above is one of about a dozen large tropicals that overwinter in the residence.  Others are Hyophorbe verschaffeltii (Spindle palm), Hyophorbe lagenicaulis (Bottle Palm), Cocos nucifera (Coconut palm), Phoenix roebellenii (Pygmy Date Palm), three (yes, 3) Dypsis decaryi (Triangle palm), Strelitzia nicolai (Bird of Paradise), as well as Cycas debaoensis and Wollemia nobilis among others.

"Did you apply for a building permit for the outdoor palm huts?" quipped Kia.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kelowna's "Servicing Bylaw"

"We'll be looking to an example from Kelowna," said Jim Garlick, reaffirmed Coldstream mayor.
Kelowna's bylaw will be viewed by Coldstream officials--and tweaked for use in Coldstream--after the recent off-site servicing fiasco in our community where homeowners were designated as Developers and subject to servicing costs.

(To recap, from recent blog entry:  So, Mr. Purchaser from the coast...pay attention.
Think that 5-acre parcel on Hill Drive, complete with quaint cottage that you've been hankerin' to own is fairly priced?  Perhaps.  Imagine that you purchase it with help from the bank.  You and the Missus take your drafted renovation plans to the Municipality to apply for a building permit.  You'll add a three-car garage and enlarge the home's footprint with an additional two bedrooms.  Maybe a pool in a few years.  You soon learn that the building official, accompanied perhaps by a senior bureaucrat, will visit the property to ascertain what off-site works are necessary....on your dime! 
Shell-shocked?  Probably, as off-site works could escalate to $300,000 if you have a large road frontage.  You know you cannot go back to the bank for more money...because you can't get a loan (or insurance for that matter) on something that you don't own (which--to the bank--cannot be repossessed), i.e. road frontage owned by the District.)

A face-value look at what this blog author considers are pertinent clauses, to what will undoubtedly be remembered as the Coldstream Fiasco, within Kelowna's Subdivision Development and Servicing Bylaw:

The first mention of applying for a building permit occurs on page 10 of 22, and deals primarily with developing land/subdivision, presumably for multiple dwellings:
"6.1 Application for Building Permit. An Owner who wishes to Develop land must make an Application for Building Permit in accordance with the Building Bylaw and provide the City with such other information, documents, agreements, covenants, bonds and Fees as it requires to consider the Application for Building Permit. The Building Inspector may impose such conditions on his approval of the Application for Building Permit as are required by the City in connection with the Development including, without limitation, the requirement that the Owner provide Works and Services, and that the Owner provide the City with a Servicing Agreement. If the City advises the Owner that Works and Services are required, the Application for Building Permit must include..." (list follows in their PDF file)

The next page, 11, qualifies--and appears to separate Homeowners (without mentioning it)--from Developers of multiple units, to ensure that lakes/waterways are protected by city-wide hook-up to sewer:
"BL8572 amended Section 6.1(h):  (h) The Owner of any land or parcel on which exclusively a Building Permit is desired, and which is not being Subdivided or otherwise Developed, must service the building with a sanitary sewage collection and disposal system, including a service connection, designed and constructed in accordance with the Works and Services Requirements. In the absence of a Sewer collection system in the area, an on-site sewage disposal system will be considered, if:
 the on-site disposal system complies with Schedule 4, Section 2.18, AND
 If the parcel is within 150m of Okanagan Lake or Mission Creek, the Ministry of Health Special Conditions for placing septic systems within Environmental Control Zones will apply;"

This important sentence follows:  "and if the Works and Services include Excess or Extended Services:
(i) Design Drawings as referred to in Paragraph 11.1(a);
(ii) an estimate of the cost of Excess or Extended Services as referred to in Paragraph 11.1(b); and
(iii) subject to Section 11.2, a Latecomer Agreement duly executed by the Owner; ..."

"If", would indicate that exceptions exist, otherwise the word "when" would have been substituted. 

The next section deals with Performance Bonds--typically not required for a Homeowner applying for a building permit for, say, a garage addition to a residence.

"BL8680 amended subsection 7.1:  7.1 Performance Bond. If the Owner wishes to submit an Application for Subdivision Approval or Application for Building Permit to the City before a Certificate of Substantial Performance has been issued in respect of Works and Services, the Owner, in accordance with Paragraphs 5.2(o)(xi) and 6.1(k), must provide the City with a Performance Bond..."

Works/services not necessarily used to service the property / not immediately required is covered on page 13:
"8.1 Design and Construction of Works and Services. The City may elect to design and Construct all or certain parts of the Works and Services (other than Excess or Extended Services) that are otherwise required to be designed and Constructed by an Owner pursuant to this bylaw. These Works and Services would be part of a larger project being planned by the City and are not immediately required to service the
development. In such an event:
(a) the City will advise the Owner of the specific Works and Services that it has elected to design and Construct;
(b) the Owner must pay the City, in cash, 125% of the cost, as estimated by the Consulting Engineer and approved by the City Engineer, of designing and Constructing such Works and Services; and

(c) such Works and Services will be designed and Constructed as and when required by the City..."

Or, if the property connection to services is involved, same page:
"8.2 Connection to City Works and Services. The City may elect to connect all or certain parts of the Works and Services to the City’s Works and Services. In such an event:
(a) the City will advise the Owner of the specific Works and Services that it has elected to connect to the City’s Works and Services;
(b) the Owner must pay the City, in cash, the cost, as estimated by the City Engineer, of connecting such Works and Services; and
(c) such Works and Services will be connected following confirmation that the
provisions of Section 9.7 have been satisfied..."

Here's (page 14) where Kelowna's bylaw gets interesting.  Is it a Subdivision? or Development?  A stand-alone building permit may be splitting hairs, but in the general sense of a development or subdivision, a building permit for a renovation to a residence would not, in my view, be included. 

"BL8993 amended sub-section 9.3:
9.3 Required Works and Services
(1) (a) The Owner shall design and construct such Works and Services as are required by the City, which are:
(i) in the case of a Subdivision:
 all onsite Works and Services, and
 all offsite Works and Services on that portion of a highway(s) immediately adjacent to the site, up to the centre line of that adjacent highway(s), insofar as their requirement is directly attributable to the Subdivision.
(ii) in the case of a Development via Building Permit:
 all onsite Works and Services, insofar as their requirement is directly attributable to the Development; and
all offsite Works and Services on that portion of a highway(s) immediately adjacent to the site, up to the centre line of that adjacent highway(s), insofar as their requirement is directly attributable to the Development.
(b) The determination of which Works and Services are required, in the case of a Subdivision shall be made by the Approving Officer, and in the case of a Development via Building Permit shall be made by the Building Inspector.
(c) The Approving Officer or Building Inspector, as applicable, in determining whether a directly attributable impact is present shall have regard to the guidelines outlined in Schedule 7 to this Bylaw “Guidelines for Determining Servicing Requirements for Certain Developments Having a Directly Attributable Impact on Infrastructure”.
Where a determination has been made that certain Works and Services are required either at Subdivision or at Building Permit, those Works and Services shall be designed and constructed to the applicable standard for the zone or proposed zone in which the parcel or proposed parcel is located, as set out in Schedule 1 to this Bylaw “Works and Services Requirements."

Obviously, the key phrases (above) would appear to define the exceptions...whether the application for a permit  has any impact on infrastructure AND/OR whether the determination has been made that Works and Services are required on that application, i.e. some applications would be exempt if works and services are not required and/or infrastructure is not impacted (or, presumably already exist).

The next pertinent section, on page 17, obviously (to this blog author, anyway) refers to City infrastructure...big systems...hooking up the development or subdivision to City Systems...presumably natural gas hook-ups, sewer/stormwater hook-ups, light standards, etc.:

"9.7 Connections to and Use of City Systems.   Subject to the City’s election to perform the work in accordance with Section 8.2, the Owner must connect the Works and Services to the City’s Works and Services; provided that the Owner must not connect the Works and Services to any of the City’s Works and Services or use the City’s Works and Services until:
(a) the Approving Officer or Building Inspector, as the case may be, has approved the Owner’s Application for Subdivision Approval or Application for Building Permit;
(b) the Owner has registered in the Kamloops Land Title Office all documents required by the City to be registered therein;
(c) the Owner, in his capacity as a Latecomer wishing to use or connect to Excess or Extended Services, if applicable, has complied with the provisions of Section 11.3 of this bylaw; and
(d) the Owner has made a Service Application, paid any assessed charges and the Service is installed..."  

It'd be a decidedly severe stretch of the imagination (even for Coldstream) to view page 17 to include a multi-use/bicycle path as any city's Works and Services.  More like an imagination gone insane...

The next section, #6, EXCESS OR EXTENDED SERVICES AND LATECOMERS is the fuzzy one.
Could this section of Kelowna's bylaw be what triggered the Coldstream fiasco?  Judge for yourself:

From page 19:  Here's the word 'IF' again...
11.1 Information Requirements. If the City requires the Owner to provide Excess or
Extended Services
, the Owner, in addition to providing the information set out in Part 2 of this bylaw, and prior to Constructing any Works and Services, must provide the City with such information, documents and agreements as may be required by the City Engineer, including without limitation:
(a) Design Drawings for the Excess or Extended Services showing:
(i) the size and length of the Excess or Extended Services required by the City; and
(ii) the size and length of the Works and Services, prescribed by Part 2 of this Bylaw, that would be required to serve the Subdivision or Development if Excess or Extended Services were not required by the City;

While I scratch my head at what might denote an Excess or Extended Service, I cannot believe this section could even remotely include a Multi-Use/Bicycle Path...sounds as though it would be something that the owner of that property required, something unique to that property so that permit work could be completed, or something required if its absence would prevent the work from being completed.

And latecomers?  Aren't we all, in a sense, latecomers to our communities? But as it relates to Services (true and necessary infrastructure) such as sewers and waterlines, it does make sense that whichever property  benefits should pay a proportion of the cost of what someone else has put in place. 
Kelowna's bylaw explains here, on page 19, again qualified with the word "IF" and also, in this case, "WHETHER":
"...11.2 Latecomer Agreements. If the City determines that all or part of the costs referred to in Paragraph 11.1(b) are excessive and should be paid for by the Owner, the City will:
(a) determine, by Council resolution:
(i) whether all or part of the costs of the Excess or Extended Services referred to in Paragraphs 11.1(b) must be paid for by the Owner;
(ii) which lands are Benefiting Lands;
(iii) which part of the Excess or Extended Services would benefit each of the Benefiting Lands; and
(iv) the Latecomer Charges that would apply to each of the Benefiting Lands;

Sounds as though Kelowna is insisting that lands that benefit, later, must (correctly, in my view) follow the User Pay philosophy, which supposedly Coldstream also supports (at least in lip-service).  How does that relate to Coldstream?

I'm reminded of Judy Paterson's application for a garage building permit on her 80-year old residence which triggered the "off site Works" of a ~$300,000 multi-use/bicycle path along her substantial Kidson Road frontage.  At first we heard from Mayor Garlick during an All Candidates' Forum that "600 people on Kidston Road approached us...", then an Anonymous comment on this blog stated it was "370 people and a couple of dozen emails...".  Even long-serving councillor Dirk espouses User Pay as fundamental.

Whatever the number of petitioners was, the petitioning residences are benefitters of the works, as the path certainly was not an Excess Service required to build a garage on the property.  Successfully constructing a garage did not depend on a multi-use path fronting the property. 

While the above excerpts are just that -- excerpts -- from a bylaw that reads akin to an insurance policy and could be a drug-free remedy for insomnia, the excerpts do seem to prove Kelowna's sensibilities when officials state "we don't do that (to homeowners)"...

ADDITIONAL LINK (POSTED 2:51 P.M.) This is Kelowna's list of determining factors for impact on infrastructure.

Sounds as though Kelowna and Coldstream officials should get together for lunch...soon.

"Lunch?" awakens Kia.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Abyssmal Voter Turnout

With approximately 33 per cent turnout by Coldstream's eligible voters -- down 19 per cent from three years ago -- some would point to complacency as the cause.  "My friends say that nothing will change, so why go?" intones a resident in the parking lot outside the voting station yesterday. 

A high voter turnout is generally seen as evidence of the legitimacy of the current system, according to political scientists and economists, as this Wikipedia definition explains.

The article continues:  "Assuming that low turnout is a reflection of disenchantment or indifference, a poll with very low turnout may not be an accurate reflection of the will of the people. On the other hand, if low turnout is a reflection of contentment of voters about likely winners or parties, then low turnout is as legitimate as high turnout, as long as the right to vote exists. Still, low turnouts can lead to unequal representation among various parts of the population."

VernonCentral.ca published a quote from Coldstream's mayor Jim Garlick that may--or may not--be a factor:  the contentious homeowner-as-a-developer debate.  "We'll be looking to an example from Kelowna," admits the mayor.  But tweaking it to Coldstream, apparently. 

Candidates' votes received:
In Coldstream incumbent Mayor Garlick 1578, Hrabchuk 829.
Councillors:  Dirk 1668, Cochrane 1630, Besso 1602, Kiss 1451, McClean 1299, Enns 1263.

An even lower voter turnout was experienced in Vernon...just 31 per cent.
in Vernon:  new Mayor Sawatzky 4421, Lippert 2538, Davies 1858.
Councillors: David 5634, Cunningham 4019, Lord 3829, Spiers 3714, Quiring 3413, O'Keefe 3353

in Lumbyincumbent Mayor Acton 306, McEwan 229, Green 133.
Councillors:  Ostafichuk 500, Mindnich 403, Fisher 337, Hodge 299.

And, since Mayor Garlick wishes to look at Kelowna's subdivision bylaw for guidance, here are the numbers for candidates there, you may wish to know names of their elected members...they might have tips how their servicing bylaw affects Kelowna homeowners:
in Kelownanew Mayor Walter Gray 13995, Shepherd 13574, Condy 1000, Chung 749, Ouellette 370.
Councillors: Zimmerman 18857, Given 13111, Basran 13073, Hobson 12413, Blanleil 12081, Stack 10279, DeHart 10206, Singh 10077.

Whether or not your personal candidate(s) were successful...all who let their names stand in this election deserve thanks from those who did vote.

"I'll arf that sentiment," adds Kia.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Homeowner as Developer

One last chance to reach voters, states The Morning Star today, ahead of tomorrow's municipal elections.

Or to deceive them, as in Coldstream's case.

Replying to the question "What is the No. 1 issue in Coldstream and why should residents vote for you as mayor?" incumbent Garlick provided a litany that covered four paragraphs.  And he left nothing out in those four paragraphs.

Hedging his bet, he included all the right "stuff", stopping just shy of actuallly wearing out the cliches.
But one phrase should've caught in his throat:  "...ensure fairness to all parties..."

How can Mayor Jim Garlick -- and indeed, incumbent councillors -- look in the mirror each morning while brushing their teeth and not cringe at the abject prejudice that triggered a $300,000 "charge" of a multi-use path for a Kidston Road homeowner's building permit application for a garage? 


Residents of Coldstream not only HOPE for fairness, we DEMAND it.
Ignore it at your peril.

It was your job to be fair...

Tomorrow night as the votes are tallied, reflect on it.
Because it may also be your legacy.

You and incumbent councillors have said you will not rescind the "Homeowner as Developer" designation--which triggers unpredictable off-site works. 

"Is this available in a bumper sticker?" queries Kia, and adding "there's no space on the tag for the consecutive numbers of Coldstream people that'll need one."  

Remember to ask for a volume discount. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Occupy the Voting Booth

So says Tom Fletcher, columnist at Black Press.

And he's right.
Stating "local government elections are always overshadowed by louder events," such as the Occupy movement, teachers' strike, and the economy, local government elections are often relegated to the complacency bin.  Do your eyes glaze over at the sight of yet another grouping of "Elect me" roadside signs?  Has it been three years?  Feels like much, much longer in some communities.

Tom adds:  "Public indifference to local government has left it mainly to self-serving politicians and special interest groups.  Community newspapers soldier on through the three years between elections to highlight issues and choices, but few people join the debate when it's time to vote."  (Coldstream's electorate turnout at 2008 civic elections was 51 per cent). 

Complacency comes at a price, to which Coldstream residents can most fervently attest.

"The recent Union of BC Municipalities--(this blog author's absolutely favourite thing to hate)--convention demonstrated this," he states, "as local politicians love to tell senior governments what to do.  They'd much rather debate smart meters or bad old Ottawa's RCMP costs than talk about their own performance."

Tom says "Most of the mayors and councillors on hand were unhappy with the province's plan to appoint a municipal auditor-general to examine the efficiency of municipal spending." He continues:  "There is much that is not discussed and it goes beyond technical details like performance auditing.  How about amalgamation in places where there are clearly too many municipal boundaries...and administration is duplicated?"

Tom Fletcher must've spent some time in the North Okanagan--specifically Coldstream.

"Candidates don't want to talk about the fact that B.C. municipal spending, adjusted for inflation, is now growing almost four times as fast as population growth.  Pay and benefits for municipal employees grow much faster than private sector rates."

The link to the November 2011 release of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business Municipal Spending Watch is here.   Last year's municipal spending watch is here, and that year's blog story is here.

Little tiny Coldstream--with its ~10,000 residents and over half the land locked within the Agricultural Land Reserve--may smugly pat itself on the back for being far down on the "bad list" of per capita spending of $541 in 2009 versus $566 in 2008 and $501 in 2007, but the 60.7% increase in per capita operating spending from 2000 to 2008 should ring some alarm bells when a community isn't -- or can't -- growing.

What the municipal spending report lacks, in my view, is debt accumulation.

With the upcoming referendum on the Mechanic's Shop, where residents will vote on whether to borrow $1.3 million, little tiny Coldstream's debt will total $5.3 million if the referendum passes.

Businesses know what debt means.
Families know what debt means.

Ominously foretelling of debt yet to come to Coldstream's residents, an incumbent councillor said during the October 28th event "The legislation limits debt to $19 million."

Gee, thanks, B.C. Government, for setting a limit.
Thanks a pantload, too, B.C. Government, for allowing our municipalities to do this to their residents.

Municipal spending is growing at almost four times the rate of population growth.

A family--or business owner--might ask, so how can debt be repaid without things completely grinding to a halt in the years to come? 

Perhaps this Mayor and Council plan to not reside in Coldstream to help residents repay the debt...  Almost seems so, as their modus operandi was obviously learned from another industry -- Baffle them with Bullshit.

North Okanagan amalgamation won't occur in time to reel in the rod of debt.
So bring on the municipal auditor-general.

"People have to clean up in Dog Parks," muses Kia, "but who cleans up after bull?"
That's why we have to Occupy the voting booth.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mayor Garlick's comment

The comment occurred during the All Candidates forum at OUC last week.

Ostensibly offering a reason for the now-obvious singling out of Judy Paterson's building permit application--which triggered the contentious Servicing Bylaw for off-site works of a Multi-Use Path along her roadfrontage--the Mayor stated "six hundred people on Kidston Road approached us..."


Do six hundred people even live on Kidston Road?
Click on the link and have a look for yourself.


Six hundred people?

The incumbent Mayor qualified the nearly $300,000 cost to Judy Paterson for off-site works with that statement, offering that any group of people, on any road in the area, could "get a petition together" to submit to Council asking for improvements to the area that would, unknowingly (until it was too late), trigger the bylaw to a single homeowner? (Judy Paterson has now, understandably, cancelled her permit application).EDIT*  5:55 p.m. Judy Paterson has not cancelled the building permit application.

Holy cow, to put it bluntly.

"Maybe they counted the cows," offers Kia.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

In Coldstream, it all comes down to one word

Since Coldstream homeowners are now considered Developers by the incumbent mayor and council, election signs appear to underscore what has otherwise taken (how many??) previous Blog pages to convey.

But "developers" isn't the word...not today.

"My" or "your" Coldstream...the crux of the issue.

."My" or "your" Coldstream...what philosphy would you support a Mayor possessing?

For our incumbent mayor, it appears to come down to the first-person possessive.
That Coldstream is his.

Candidate Hrabchuk's "your" denotes plural ownership.
That Coldstream belongs to all who reside here.

"My, my..." sighs Kia, adding "primum non nocere." 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Buying a house in Coldstream? Check Mayor Garlick's "Have/Have Not" list before you buy.

...especially if you plan to renovate the home.

And don't count on your realtor to advise you...the list will likely only be available at Coldstream Municipal Hall.

"What list?", you ask.
Let's back up a bit to answer that.

At last night's third--and thankfully, final--All Candidates' meetings at Okanagan University College, all candidates except incumbent Doug Dirk were present.  One audience-posed question was:  (for each candidate) "Yes OR No...will you remove the Homeowner as Developer designation?"(which triggers the off-site servicing/works bylaw if the building permit amount exceeds $50,000 in supplies and labour in any consecutive five-year period).

Saved the banality of speeches, the audience of ~55 heard:
NO:  from incumbents Mayor Garlick, Councillors Besso, Enns, Kiss, Cochrane
YES:  from new candidates: for Mayor:  Hrabchuk;  for council: Taylor, Hegler, McClean.

Is that the list? 
No, but we're getting there...

Referring to the incumbent mayor's remark from the last meeting:  "We may have to look at certain roads/areas in Coldstream where work is needed". 

And the list is born. 
"Have" areas will, understandably (because they were built recently), start with the subdivisions on Middleton Mountain, some older areas such as Priest Valley and Long Lake Estates, as well as Kalavista and Coldstream Estates.

It's the "Have Not" list that should pique a purchaser's interest.  And interestingly, this list would include what the incumbents would have you believe is their chief priority these days...rural areas, including farmlands.  Whether it's rural Kalamalka Lake Road East, Warren or Buchanan Roads, Hill Drive or Springfield Road, all are decidedly rural, but they share another commonality:  no sidewalks, no curbs, no sewer, no cable TV (and only recently, highspeed internet, no kids-n-pony-n-bike paths (which isn't infrastructure anyway!), no streetlights, no mail or newspaper delivery, etc.

So, Mr. Purchaser from the coast...pay attention.
Think that 5-acre parcel on Hill Drive, complete with quaint cottage that you've been hankerin' to own is fairly priced?  Perhaps.  Imagine that you purchase it with help from the bank.  You and the Missus take your drafted renovation plans to the Municipality to apply for a building permit.  You'll add a three-car garage and enlarge the home's footprint with an additional two bedrooms.  Maybe a pool in a few years.  You soon learn that the building official, accompanied perhaps by a senior bureaucrat, will visit the property to ascertain what off-site works are necessary....on your dime! 

Shell-shocked?  Probably, as off-site works could escalate to $300,000 if you have a large road frontage.  You know you cannot go back to the bank for more money...because you can't get a loan (or insurance for that matter) on something that you don't own (which--to the bank--cannot be repossessed), i.e. road frontage owned by the District. 

Enraged that your realtor didn't warn you?  Your realtor isn't at fault.  Realtor Carla Dahlen advised during the last meeting "I don't know what to say to prospective purchasers of land in Coldstream!" She received no reassurance whatsoever.

Is Mayor Garlick and his entire council so naive as to not see the potential for abuse during the bylaw's enforcement?  What abuse, especially if this bylaw was enacted four years ago and, according to Mayor Garlick "has only been employed once."  Candidate McClean reminds him "no, it's been more than once, twice to my knowledge."  Maybe three times...apparently the raving-mad contractor and his client have  contracted the contagion "loss of clarity".  Their about-face likely means neither are well health-wise.

Warning of the potential for abuse and corruption doesn't mean it exists now, it's merely a warning that it CAN (and probably will) occur.  Human nature being what it is...will we wait for the bylaw official to be on an all-expense paid cruise before the Homeowner as Developer bylaw is relegated to the shredder?  Will postcards to the District from Japan, penned Wish you were here, prompt a hasty rollcall to see which bureaucrat has been absent for two weeks?

But fret not, existing homeowners and property sellers in the Have Not areas of Coldstream.
You can always appeal your property tax valuation with B.C. Assessment come January.
Because valuations will drop like a stone once the "lists" are published.
Or maybe not published.
Just held in a vault.

We residents know in which Have/Have Not Coldstream area we reside.
Purchasers will, however, be blind-sided if this Mayor and Council have their way.

"Have Not seen a dog biscuit this week," Kia attests, adding "I may move...but first I'll vote on November 19th."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Nulli Secundus

The District of Coldstream's motto--Nulli Secundus--needs to be changed.

Translated from Latin meaning "second to none", it's now become a sad reminder of this Mayor and Council's term.

They just don't seem to get it.

When communities such as adjacent Kelowna and Armstrong state "we don't do that to residences," Coldstream's elected officials are not prepared to let go of this newly-found Golden Goose.  Stating "no, we won't rescind the bylaw (designating residential homeowners as Developers and triggering unpredictable and varied off-site works charges)," incumbent mayor Jim Garlick appeared frustrated during the second All Candidates' Forum at Coldstream School on Tuesday night, presumably because such a hue and cry from building contractors and their association, realtors, and homeowners had resulted.

Ignoring his own councillor's twice-uttered statement "This is a public relations nightmare," (Councillor Cochrane), Mayor Garlick stated that the bylaw was under review...again.  This even after Council and the Mayor in October gave third reading to the $50,000 "trigger point" at which--in any consecutive five-year period--a homeowner's building permit application could, and would, trigger off-site works charges.

"We may have to look at certain roads/areas in Coldstream where work is needed", Mayor Garlick offered as a consideration to the audience of 100+ attendees on Tuesday. 

As though that would provide any predictability!

He's obviously forgotten Carla Dahlen's presentation to council in October, where she indicated she was a Realtor and asked Council "what do I tell prospective buyers of property in Coldstream?...how do you tell someone that the District may require costs/gifts for off-site works?"  Neither her question, nor summation, and indeed not her occupation were recorded in the minutes of the meeting, as she offered "Or do I just tell people not to buy in Coldstream?"

So how was Mrs. Dahlen's presentation recorded?  Judge for yourself whether Carla Dahlen's comments were accurately reflected in the minutes:  "Carla Dahlen (address removed by blog author) expressed her concern that the Subdivision, Development and Serving bylaw was too subjective overall. She also requested that Council consider a threshold greater than $50,000 as proposed in Bylaw 1595" (reprinted from Council Agenda, page 2 of 138 here.


If those "minutes" reflect the accuracy of Council's recorded meetings, perhaps residents should donate a tape recorder for future meetings.

Back to the All Candidates' Forum:
Incumbents and new candidates were asked--by way of an audience-posed question on a card--whether they would rescind the homeowner as Developer designation (Yes or No).  Some didn't listen to the question, and stated they would NOT rescind the BYLAW (that wasn't the question, folks...the homeowner as a Developer was the question!).  Other candidates squirmed and waffled and offered a speech. 

The incumbents seem to want it all...a sports field at the College, "because our (regional) partners are requesting it," offered Jim Garlick.  Whether or not a sports field is of prime importance during an economic downturn never came up, neither did the necessity of "making do" (as many residents have been forced to accept during these times) with a retrofitted Mechanics Shop--utilizing the old Fire Hall and the existing Shop, neither did the feasibility of incurring further debt with the Shop referendum...and on and on, including the much-touted Town Centre.  It seems the old Fire Hall was rented out in May of 2011 to Friends of the Library (pages 15 and 16 of 294 pages) for the budget-balancing and whopping tune of ~$480 a month.  Sigh.

The incumbents simply aren't doing what we elected them to do, which is to "look after the municipality".

Yes, Nulli Secundus is no longer something to brag about.

Coldstream's new motto?  Primum non nocere.
First, do no harm.

The next All Candidates' meeting, prior to the November 19th election, is slated for:
7 p.m. Monday, November 7th, at Okanagan College, Room D310.

"Do no harm?  I'm not allowed to bite people," reminds Kia.