Wednesday, September 26, 2012

UBCM reputation

Their reputation isn't great.

Seems more and more people are noticing that.

         "Many UBCM issues are

          just for media attention"

Political observer, Norm Ruff, explains not all of this year's 200+ resolutions will actually be considered, says a story by Jesse Johnston.

"Ruff says the convention is often more about gaining public support for an idea than swaying the BC government to take action," notes Jesse.

So we'll take a look at the IDEAS that are being presented by North Okanagan elected officials in Victoria this between lavish dinners and taxpayer-funded hotel accommodation.

Resolutions submitted by our area:

Regional District of North Okanagan, 4 resolutions: 
Vernon, 5 resolutions: 
Spallumcheen, 1 resolution:
  • B102 COMMUNITY WATER SERVICING. their credit, they sent neither representatives, nor a resolution to the UBCM!
Coldstream, 1 resolution:
  • B35 BUY BC.
The full UBCM document (183 pages) of 200+ resolutions, by number, is available here:

So let's have a look at what Coldstream's Mayor and Council have decided to send to delegates for their consideration:

     "B35 BUY BC Coldstream
WHEREAS the former BUY BC program has been the most successful food and beverage advertising
program every jointly undertaken by the provincial government and private industry;
AND WHEREAS the current economic climate has created challenges for our agricultural sector:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the provincial government of BC reinstate and fund the BUY BC
program for agricultural products.
The Resolutions Committee notes that the UBCM membership has consistently supported the promotion of local BC agricultural products (i.e. tree fruits) as well as the promotion of BC products, generally (2007-B175, 2002-B98, 2010-B100). In 2011, members endorsed resolution B56, which called upon the Province to honour its commitments from the BC Agriculture Plan, “Growing a Healthy Future for BC Families”, to invest $2 million annually in an industry-led marketing program that would increase public awareness and branding of BC grown and processed food; and increase support for agricultural extension services by $500,000 annually. In response to the 2011 resolution the provincial government stated (in part):
“The Ministry of Agriculture (Ministry) recognizes the benefits of increased promotion and marketing of local production, both to producers and the public. The BC Agriculture Council (BCAC) and the Ministry have extended the current Buy BC licensing agreement to 2015. In addition, the trademarks associated with this program have also been re-registered for another 15 years. The Buy BC licensing program forms the foundation of the branding program and clearly demonstrates government’s commitment to this initiative. Ministry staff are currently reviewing options to re-instate this program.”
The Province has highlighted promoting BC products abroad as one of the elements of its recently released BC Agrifoods: A Strategy for Growth as part of BC’s Job Action Plan. (March 2012)
Conference decision: __________________________________________"

Why "yawn"?

Because right here at home...not 400 km away from the UBCM meetings, someone is actually DOING something.  The Armstrong Food Initiative Society is hosting a Food and Farm Celebration Tour this Saturday.

Not lobbying bureaucrats and officials on the Coast!
They're promoting local farms!

"This is a chance for residents and visitors to see where our local food comes from," states AFIS rep Lisa Scott.

Today's Morning Star reports: "Among the farms slated to take part in the tour are the Armstrong Community Garden, Village Cheese, Chocoliro Finest Chocolates, Armstrong Farmers' Market, Maw's Orchards, The Tree Farm, Pilgrim's Produce, Roger's Foods and the Pumpkin Patch.  Also included will be stops at Hullcar Hall for an old-fashioned breakfast, followed by the North Okanagan Ploughing Match.

Each stop is free and tours are self-guided.  In addition to the Food and Farm Celebration Series, AFIS hosts two community gardens in Armstrong, facilitates its Food Exchange Program and Gleaning Program and offers an almost-monthly Speakers Series."

Now that's being effective at promoting farming, not asking for a marketing program to be resurrected, as Coldstream's elected officials are doing!

Congratulations, AFIS, on your efforts to promote farming!

Back to the UBCM Resolutions:
Other resolutions that may be of interest to local residents are:
So these are the resolutions our elected officials are contemplating during the annual UBCM, as well as ministerial meetings.

"They're spending our money schmoozing on the Coast," sniffs Kia.

Coldstream's Mayor and Council are good at that.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thanks, Brent, for the Good News

It was wonderful to see Brent Pederson again the other day.
Really wonderful!

Brent and his wife (and his mother-in-law) came to play golf.

So what's so special about that?

Brent said to me after their golf round:  "You know, your neighbour Todd Schwartz, was in my barber shop the other day and I asked him 'how are 'things' going with the golf course next door'?"

I held my breath at that.

Are you sitting down?

Brent smiled at me as he replied:  "Todd said to me 'it's perfect now, no problems at all'."

For the first time since the troubles began--and there were many, many challenges--I actually felt a weight removed from my shoulders that had been present for years (and frequently resurrected in the media, public hearings, and with the municipality's mayor, etc.)

Thank God, I thought.

"The neighbour could've picked up the phone and told you that himself," admonishes Kia, unimpressed.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Job Change from Bureaucrat to Realtor Equals Dose of Reality

Before becoming a commercial realtor, Craig Broderick was director of development services at Coldstream municipality.

Now that he's the listing agent for a two-acre C-2 zoned parcel on Kal Lake Road, it's his job to promote the land to the widest market possible.

That's where the problem arose.

Turns out the parcel had a couple of covenants on the title--placed by the municipality.

Back in 2008, the owners wanted to construct 24-foot by 24-foot cabins for tourism rentals, so they applied for rezoning from C-1 General Commercial to C-2 Highway and Tourist Commercial.  See Application for rezoning 07-017-ZON on page 2 of 4 here:

Advisory Planning Commission members raised concerns regarding full basements, full-time occupancy, length of use, ownership structure, and enforcement.  The zoning change was initially not supported, based on the proposal as presented.

A further Motion, by APC member Paul Christie, seconded by Wayne Samland, stated support for the concept of using the property for tourism-related campground use and that staff and Council be encouraged to work with the applicant to achieve that.

Subsequently, two covenants were placed on the property to address the stated concerns, which Council approved.

Fast forward to 2012.
Tourist cabins were never built, the property is for sale, and Craig Broderick is the listing agent.

Turns out these covenants (allowing tourist cabins) are barriers to the development--indeed the sale--of this property by prospective owners.
Whether a property is listed as C-2 Highway and Tourist Commercial, or C-1 General Commercial, a new owner will want the same opportunities here as he would receive with a similarly-zoned property in another community. 

In other words, natural justice ad procedural fairness.
Words foreign (especially) to this Mayor and Council.
And their Bureaucrats.
And the Advisory Planning Commission.

Nobody cared about the ramifications. In their collective minds, they were "working with the applicants".

I'm reminded of the covenant on the title of Highlands Golf.
Back in 2001 when Highlands was ready to open (after almost a year and a half of red tape), there was a hue and cry from some residents about hours of operation, and a covenant was placed on the property (1) can only operate during the golf season, and, (2) must close to the public 2 hours after sunset daily.

It was the "2 hours after sunset daily" that was unfair and inequitable, so I petitioned Mayor Postill and Council who, by the way, were the last good government this municipality has had).

In my request I stated:   Laws in B.C. covering local governance allow a Covenant to be legally removed without a new public hearing, which is the avenue Mayor Postill and Council elected. During a Council meeting in October of 2002, after discussion on the inequitable impacts of the Covenant (versus other golf courses' hours), a Resolution was passed which legally removed the Covenant.  All the details are here.

Six years later, imagine my surprise when I discovered the covenant was still in place! 

So I sought to have Mayor Garlick and Council remove it so that Highlands Golf wasn't in conflict with the liquor license which stated closing of 11 p.m. 

Coldstream's slide into quasi-socialism was evident as Mayor Garlick and his Council reinstated the "2 hours after sunset" closing.  Full details here:

So...go ahead, Craig Broderick, and get the covenants removed on that 2-acre parcel to make it more attractive and equitable and fair to a prospective purchaser.

Because Mayor Garlick and this Council ONLY understand issues when there's a legal quandary.

"Especially a precedent-setting quandary," offers Kia.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Coldstream Awash in Plans

...and obviously money, too, as new plans indicate.

The contentious Coldstream Agricultural Plan--with its RU10/RU30 proposed zoning--has neither been changed, cancelled nor completed despite harsh criticism from Coldstream Acreage Owners.  It's simply fallen off the radar.

Despite the unfinished Ag Plan business, this Council's Strategic Planning Session on July 30th, 2012 identified a new project:  reviewing the nearly 20-year old Official Community Plan for $61,000+ (not including mapping) and $12,550+ for Communications (+$5,000 contingency). 

Perhaps they're planning to include Ag rezoning into the rehashed OCP; perhaps not.
Nobody's saying.

But, frankly, Coldstream Acreage Owners are so upset that they hope to never hear of RU10/RU30 again.  And if their Communications Plan is as effective as their Mayor and Council's communication skills, perhaps we can hope for the same result? 

Let's look at Coldstream's rationale for an OCP review:

"Several incremental changes have been amalgamated into the plan to incorporate different planning initiatives and new Provincial legislation; for example, the "Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan" and the Provincial "Fish Protection Act" and "Riparian Areas Regulation".  A major amendment was processed in 2007 to consider the implications of major utility upgrades along Kal Lake Road and in particular, the ramifications for proposed expansions for the Coldstream Meadows retirement community development."

Also requiring consideration in a revised OCP is the Regional Growth Strategy from the Regional District of North Okanagan, the Memorandum of Understanding to which Coldstream is already a signatory.

But there's more:  "...several recent planning initiatives, completed studies and Provincial regulatory changes require consideration in the OCP, among them:  hazard lands assessments, sensitive ecosystems and terrain suitability for development. Also, Provincial legislative changes have initiated a requirement that the District of Coldstream must consider greenhouse gas abatement strategies in the OCP." (wasn't that the application grant claim for the Bike Path????)

So...apart from one level of government initiating paperwork revisions/plans to other levels of government, what's ahead in Coldstream?

Of interest to acreage owners:

"A comprehensive review will also enable a new dialogue with the residents and property
owners in the District of Coldstream. For example, there has been more than one
occasion over the last few years where residents are raising the issue of density of
development; most recently, the appropriate size of a duplex lot. Coldstream Council is
of the opinion that it is timely to enter into a dialogue on land use matters generally in the
District and to develop new or improved policy directions that could address the issues
being raised by residents and property owners.(blog emphasis)

 "Part 26 - Division 2 of the Local Government Act outlines the required content of an Official Community Plan as well as other matters that Coldstream may consider.  Municipal policies outside of these parameters are non-enforceable and essentially have no meaning.  Therefore, these terms of reference are specifically pointed towards only matters where Coldstream has some authority and jurisdiction." (blog emphasis)

Here's what Part 26 Division 2 says:

Required content

New dialogue with residents and property owners? 
We property owners know all about dialogue with Coldstream's government, and the lack of trust that resulted.

We also know of all the backroom dealings with "homeowners as developers" and the "requests for gifting" of land or money which, by the way, continue today!

No communications program, no matter how spiffy, can rebuild the trust we've lost in Coldstream's Mayor and Council. 

Forget plans to change Coldstream's logo, folks.

But you can change Nulli secundus to Primum non nocere:  

It means: First, do no harm!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

UBCM's uselessness

Soon to be the UBCLG's uselessness.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) has struck a sour note with legislative reporter, Tom Fletcher, as evidenced in his September 12th, 2012 article "Towns tackle modern problems" in the Morning Star.

About time too.

First, Tom's story, parts of which are condensed:

"Local politicians are preparing for their annual convention, to be held September 25 to 28 here in the provincial capital.

One of their first orders of business this year will be a vote to raise the dues paid by local governments to the Union of B.C. Municipalities, to cover rising travel costs for staff to serve on provincial committees.  The plan is also to change the name to Union of B.C. Local Governments, to reflect the participation of the regional districts and aboriginal communities.

So what do these committees and conferences accomplish?  The UBCLG, as it will soon be known, is mainly a lobby group for local politicians to seek changes to federal and provincial laws to keep up with changing times.

The resolutions offer a snapshot of modern problems facing local governments.  A major theme is public safety..."

(condensed list):  "Columbia Shuswap Regional District wants more provincial policing money for rural communities;  Surrey wants better notice and control of a growing number of medical marijuana licenses issued by Ottawa.  Pitt Meadows, home to a Hells Angels clubhouse and drug-related crime familiar to most urban communities, wants B.C. to follow Alberta's lead and give police authority to remove known gang members from bars and clubs.  Metchosin is seeking support to decriminalize marijuana ... and make Ottawa's sex-offender registry public for convicted repeat offenders; Ashcroft wants to give emergency services authority to deal with...hoarding...little or no authority (at present) to enforce compliance with health and safety standards when a building is owner occupied."

"delegates voting with wireless devices to condemn smart meters..."

"Other resolutions tackle complex and important issues, such as the effect of hydro development on municipal water supplies.  But alas, most will be lost in the convention noise, overshadowed by political posturing over matters best left alone."

"Last year's convention featured the low comedy of delegates voting with wireless devices to condemn smart meters..."  (blog: absolutely hilarious!!!!)

"This year, in addition to factually challenged railing about oil tankers, there will be a tough stance taken against shark's fin soup, which will no doubt strike fear into the Chinese fishing fleet."

"Once delegates vote themselves more taxpayers' money to run this show, perhaps they should keep their grandstanding to a minimum. 
Tom Fletcher" 

The UBCM's Mission Statement shows they want to be all things to all people.
Get a load of this: 

The values we want associated with UBCM as an organization are:
  • Credibility and accuracy in what we do
  • Timely and effective in how we respond
  • Valuing teamwork and respecting diversity in everything we do
  • Being non-partisan and objective in how we present ourselves
Our vision is to most effectively represent and serve all local governments in BC.
Guided by our values and to achieve our vision the purpose of UBCM is:
To represent and serve all local governments in BC by:
  • Being the recognized advocate for their common interests
  • Meeting the members' common needs
We will be the recognized advocate for local government in BC in:
  • Policy development and implementation
  • Government relations
  • Communications externally
  • Liaison with other groups
Our priorities for meeting the members' common needs are through:
  • Communication to members
  • Advice and training for local government officials
  • Convention
  • Information sharing
We strive for continuous improvement in all that we do."

And all that striving for continuous improvement has led to a resolution on hoarding. Oh my God!

Taxpayers are continuing to realize how useless the UBCM actually is.  Many people have said the best thing to do is to kill elected officials' attendance.

"Or maybe the UBCM itself," offers Kia.

And the UBCLG.