Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Duteau Water Storage at 117 Per Cent

Good news for residents.
Bad news for water shortage alarmists.

"Local water supply above average" begins a Morning Star story August 28th, 2013.

Not surprising considering the eight inches of rain that registered in Highlands' rain gauge in June.  Eight inches!  That's almost two-thirds of this area's annual precipitation!

The purple line on Greater Vernon Water's graph indicates the mid-August 2013 reading at the Duteau Creek storage reservoir.

The Fall weather forecast, from the Almanac, indicates below normal precipitation and seasonal temperatures for September.

"Environment Canada seasonal weather forecasts are indicating an increased likelihood of hotter than normal temperatures for August and September", continues the newspaper story.

"...and don't forget higher and higher prices from the water authority," reminds Kia.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mincing Words

Today's Morning Star story was headed "Warren Road limitations sought".

It began:

"Some Lavington residents want to close down their road to the public."

The four private residences on Warren Road,+Coldstream,+BC&hl=en&ll=50.233673,-119.133124&spn=0.006931,0.021136&sll=54.112352,-126.555646&sspn=13.030519,43.286133&oq=Warren+Road&t=h&hnear=Warren+Rd,+Coldstream,+North+Okanagan,+British+Columbia&z=16
aren't seeking to close their narrow road to the public.

They are concerned about the narrow road being used by tanker trucks to access a cow pasture in the Keefer Gulch area for the disposal of biosolids and waste juice onto Coldstream Ranch lands from the Sun-Rype juice facility in Kelowna. 

Three thousand three hundred and seventy tanker truck runs to be specific.
Yup, 3,370 tankers.
Each year.

Those four residents have seen firsthand the destruction inflicted on Buchanan Road from more than a year of tanker truck traffic onto other acreages in the valley.  And even during spring thaw, not one Legal Axle Load Restriction sign was placed by the District of Coldstream anywhere on Buchanan Road.  None.  So the tanker rumbled along, fully laden, day after day, often two or three times a day.

Buchanan Road's condition is a result of the District of Coldstream not restricting axle limits during spring thaw.

Yet a few of these signs appeared...long after the fact.

The stuff inside the tanker trucks stinks to high heaven--personally experienced last year--as boom sprayers spread the black muck (that day on frozen, snow-covered fields) south of Buchanan Road.

Nobody's against the Coldstream Ranch fertilizing their fields.
Not at all.
But this stuff smells like, well, shit.
Yes it does.

Plus we know that it'll be residents--not Sun-Rype in Kelowna--who end up paying for the road reconstruction when premature failure occurs.

But Warren Road, in particular, is narrow and residents fear either the tankers or their own vehicle -- one or the other -- will have to back up if and when they meet.
With 3,370 tanker truck runs on Warren Road each year, that scenario will indeed exist.
Probably often.,+Coldstream,+BC&hl=en&ll=50.227936,-119.132137&spn=0.027729,0.084543&sll=54.112352,-126.555646&sspn=13.030519,43.286133&oq=Warren&t=h&hnear=Warren+Rd,+Coldstream,+North+Okanagan,+British+Columbia&z=14&layer=c&cbll=50.229837,-119.137295&panoid=o1Iv1X73mBUotQaz77ZUHA&cbp=12,0,,0,0

And what consideration has been given to the safety of children waiting at the roadside for the school bus?

The Coldstream Ranch has received Ministry of Environment approval to dump 3.9 million U.S. gallons of biosolid and 15.6 million gallons of waste juice each year.
"Obviously it's not built for that kind of traffic," said Councillor Kiss.

Missing entirely was Councillor Besso's concern on impact to water quality at Coldstream Creek, which is downslope from the application sites.  Coldstream Creek drains into Kalamalka Lake, the drinking water source for many of Vernon's residents.

Those four Warren Road residents aren't the only ones to raise a stink about the stink.
Properties adjacent to the Ogogrow facility have had their fill too.

Wonder if these signs will pop up everywhere:

"Maybe a photo of a nose?" offers Kia.

How about these two guys holding their noses?
Maybe a photo of Sun-Rype's owner, Jim Pattison.
Or former NDP's B.C. Premier, Glen Clark, a board member of Sun-Rype.

The latter has been know to mince words too.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Clutching at the 20 Year Old Idea of a Town Centre

1993 was a different time than now, especially in the North Okanagan.

Consumers Glass was 4 years from its permanent closure.
Bigfoot Industries was 15 years from its permanent closure.

While 1993 was only a few years after the recession, it was still a better time than now in 2013, especially here.  In the early 90's Wal-Mart and K-Mart were discount stores that drew an ever-increasing number of shoppers looking to stretch their dollars.  K-Mart is gone, Zellers is gone, Wal-Mart and Target are here.
Ask the Mom-and-Pop shops in Vernon how the economy (and the American retailers) are affecting them...

Twenty years ago was when the concept of a District of Coldstream "Town Centre" was first proposed.
And today's Coldstream Mayor and Council continue to clutch tightly to that concept, having just rezoned lands surrounding the municipal hall to allow for Mixed Use Town Centre Commercial development.

Likely born -- as so many of these projects are -- at a senior-bureaucrat-presented session at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting, these community plans read almost verbatim, whether it's Fleetwood, or Surrey/Cloverdale, Maple Ridge, etc.

Yet the typical government red tape has threatened to even "scare business away".
That's not necessarily a bad thing.
A dose of reality.
Because Coldstream doesn't need a Town Centre.
Because only 4 km down the highway is the City of Vernon.

Vernon's economy continues to slide in 2013, despite all the smoke-n-mirrors about improved housing starts (mostly retirees or well-heeled new arrivals from the Coast and/or Alberta).  One would lose count of the storefronts in Vernon that offer Commercial facilities "For Lease", "For Rent", "For Sale".

But today, 20 years after the town centre concept was proposed, Coldstream's Mayor and Council have now completed the Zoning for the Town Centre.


"I, for one, can't see the use for a town centre.  How many years has this been going on?  I don't see the need for one," said ... resident Angie Kitcher in a letter to council, as reported by the Morning Star on August 16, 2013.

Attagirl, Angie!

To which Councillor Kiss replied that it's not a new idea for Coldstream.  "It goes back 20 years almost."

So what?

Twenty-year old ideas should be in the recycling can in 2013!

"It's empire building," suggests Kia.

Seems nobody noticed the empire is crumbling.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

"Stumpage-free" Nestle Waters

"Everyone should pay", says Nestle Waters.
We residents do pay.
But they don't.

Because of a 104 year old Water Act in this province, Nestle Waters doesn't have to pay to extract water from a British Columbia aquifer in Hope, B.C.

Yet other corporations--multinational forestry companies--pay for timber they harvest from our province.
Imagine getting their timber for free!

Nestle Waters' annual water extraction in Hope is reported to be 230 million litres, which is 230 thousand cubic metres. 
I bet Tolko Industries, Canfor, West Fraser Timber, Western Forest Products, Catalyst, etc. would love to get free timber!
So Nestle Waters is basically saying they're above the requirements of the forest industry which also extracts a resource from the province...the timber that is owned by the citizens and taxpayers of British Columbia.

British Columbia is the only province in Canada that doesn't charge corporations for water extraction!

Good corporate citizen or greed-driven corporation run by bean-counters?
Nestle Waters is also being accused of wanting to drain water out of a town in Ontario. 

And for Nestle Waters -- a multinational corporation -- to say that if they have to pay to extract water--for resale--from the aquifer at Hope BC, then "everyone should pay."

How magnanimous of Nestle.
Since 2008, Nestle Waters is the largest bottled water company in the World.
But they don't want to pay tax on the resource.

Nestle says they have a partnership with public authorities.
Yeah, we see how they'd come to that conclusion with our lax laws.
Partnership indeed!

But now British Columbia's Water Act is finally undergoing review after more than a century.

Yet--as is typical of anything that government bureaucrats do--there's such monumental crap that occurs for years that nothing gets accomplished for a long, long time.    Government conducts focus groups and stakeholder meetings, and steering committees...yabba yabba yabba ad infinitum.

While our government has created a huge website on the modernization of the water act--notice that the illustration on this page shows Vernon in the Okanagan Valley, where we pay plenty for water--there's nary a mention of actually charging corporations, especially a non-Canadian corporation like Nestle Waters (though their registered name is Nestle Waters Canada) who extract water from British Columbia's aquifer for resale as bottled water, by the cubic meter or U.S. gallon.

A comparison would be that our forested lands are harvested, without log scaling (measurements) and stumpage payments (tax) to government for the raw cost of the resource!  Outrageous!

The B.C. Government says it will regulate groundwater use in priority areas and large groundwater withdrawals. You'd think that government would get on that immediately!
Especially since the B.C. government is so desperate for tax dollars.

Akin to the Wild Wild West, British Columbia's government has been dragging their heels for nearly 20 years!

Daily thousands litres of water are being extracted by multinational Nestle Waters while our bureaucrat-heavy government sits on its hands and conducts meetings year after year after year.

Doesn't government realize they're giving our water away to commercial corporations--who then resell it to us?  Apparently that's not high on the list, despite the government webside stating "B.C. uses more groundwater than any other province except Ontario. Much of it is actually used for sustaining the province’s economy (e.g., commercial, industrial irrigation and aquaculture uses)."

Duh!  Ya think?

Annually, Nestle Waters Canada extracts 230 million litres of fresh water from the aquifer in Hope, B.C., the same aquifer used by residents. 

Nestle appears to believe that 75 full-time jobs at the plant are sufficient payback for getting our water for free.  The food and beverage giant is not required to pay for the water because of B.C.’s lack of regulations on its use.

And while the Water Act undergoes its years-long tweak, there's no indication from our government that there'll be a retroactive tax payment for extraction when the updated Water Act is finally approved by the legislature.
So it's a free-to-Nestle water resource.

Our government blathers on about our getting involved in our own communities.
Typical smoke-n-mirrors from our B.C. government.
Residents in Hope have been contacting Nestle Waters and having meetings with their council for years, all without any change as the Nestle plant continues to grow and increase their extraction of our resource...for free.   The government is saying they will come out with a water sustainability act next year but they’ve not indicated whether the act will charge companies like NestlĂ©

So what should Nestle Waters pay to the British Columbia government?

How about the same as residents!

We pay 51 cents for a cubic meter of water (a cubic meter of water equals 1,000 litres).
Nestle Waters' annual extraction in Hope BC  is reported to be 230 million litres, which is 230 thousand cubic metres.
At 51 cents a cubic meter, Nestle's "stumpage" (water tax) would be $117,300 annually.

A drop in the bucket.

"How about boycotting Nestle Water until they understand that they SHOULD pay water extraction stumpage," suggests Kia.

Join THAT hydration movement.

Turns out that elite families all over the world are buying up water sources.  Jenna Bush, the daughter of former U.S. President, George W. Bush, bought land in Paraguay...conveniently above an aquifer.
So did Billionaire T. Boone Pickens, among others.

"Water is the oil of the 21st Century," stated the CEO of DOW Chemical Company.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Skewed Water Numbers?

Joel van der Molen has a point.
And he's tracked his family's usage.

"First of all, our reservoirs are full." 
Joel van der Molen

In a letter to the editor, he dismisses the doom and gloom of the Okanagan Basin Water Board's dire warnings regarding residents' water consumption.

Here's Joel's letter, published August 11, 2013, in the Morning Star:

"Recently The Morning Star published a story of a young woman encouraging citizens to stop watering their lawns.

"... Can someone from the Okanagan Basin Water Board explain how you come up with your numbers?"

One edition previous to that there was a letter to the editor expressing the idea of diverting water from the Shuswap.

These are two ideas on both ends of the spectrum in response to the idea that we have no water in the Okanagan.  An idea proudly spread by the Okanagan Basin Water Board, as seen in some of their water wise articles.

I would like to address two main concerns:

First of all our reservoirs are full.

We do have water, and most years our reservoirs overflow for weeks on end as they did this year (notice that we have not seen any graphs in the paper this year?)

Second, according to the average Okanagan resident is wasting water by using 675 litres per day per person. If that were true, our five-person household quarterly water bill would be $567.25.

They say that we increase our personal water use in the summer to 1,000 litres per day.  If that were true, I can expect a water bill for $830.50 after the next quarter.

In actual fact my household in the last quarter used 140 litres per day per person.

Can someone from the Okanagan Basin Water Board explain how you come up with your numbers?"
Joel van der Molen

"Easy...their calculator is missing its decimal point," muses Kia.  

The operative words are "...if that were true."
Good letter, Joel!

To view a 33-page report that includes raising the storage height of the Aberdeen reservoir, click here

Monday, August 5, 2013

Bike Lanes -- Users Refuse to Pay?

Entitled Bike Lanes Aren't The Answer, this August 4th Letter to the Editor from G. Campbell appears to reflect the opinions of an increasing number of motorists...and taxpayers.

"In response to M. Lissau's letter in The Morning Star -- whoa, whoa, whoa.  Let's back this pollution-spewing bus up just a bit!

How about you think of it as 'You pay for what you use fee?'

" in 100 people who actually use bicycles on any sort of regular basis.  If my estimate is anywhere close that would amount to one per cent of the population."   G.Campbell

 You want more bike lanes and paths but don't want to be the one paying for it?  You feel the others, who are already burdened with taxes and 'fees', too long to list, that they should pay for it?  This seems also the wish of a few at city hall as well.  Who changed the rules of common sense?  Someone get me a drink!

I drive around Vernon and it is hard not to notice the many designated 'bike lanes' on many major roadways and I swear I could fire a cannon down any one of them, at any time of the day, on any day of the week and never hit a soul.

"...I'm sure city hall can figure out a hefty yearly registration system so that you can pay your fair share."    G.Campbell

My best guess would be there are one in 100 people who actually use bicycles on any sort of regular basis.  If my estimate is anywhere close that would amount to one per cent of the population.

And just what monies do you think built and maintains that three-foot lane on both sides of the road?  Well it would be partially paid by motorists' gas taxes, already.

Consider that for a moment; all that money spent and six feet of endless road space for a handful of people.

What a terrible waste of pavement. 

Years ago kids dominated the bicycling world.  Every kid had one and every kid used them as transportation to school, play and work.

Now children are bused or driven to school and if close enough they simply walk.  The school grounds have not even tenth(sic) of the amount of bicycles parked there that use(sic) to be.  Kids are apt to hop on a skateboard rather than a bicycle.

Basically, the few people I see using bicycles are not 'kids' anymore, but adults.

Bicycles are not and never will be the answer to the environment.  They were never a practical form of transportation.  As history shows, the bicycle was fairly well skipped over from the horse and buggy to the automobile. 

You then go on to say this somehow would attract tourists to town.

Well isn't that a bit contradictory?  Just how do you suppose those tourists are going to get here?  Do (sic) think that they are going to use up their limited holidays to 'bicycle' up from the States or over from Alberta? 

People, wake up.  Certainly I can't be the only person who feels like this.

The only thing that we've done for the environment to give governments, at all levels, a blank cheque.  It has turned into the greatest cash-cow in history and they're bleeding it for all they can, right along with the corporations, gutting us for cash all in the name of 'going green', 'save the planet', etc. etc.

Every time they run short of  'funds', they dream up another 'fee' (re: tax) and use the 'environment' as their argument so that we feel a 'guilt' arguing it.

Well I for one have had enough of that ploy.  Pick pocketing us with user fees and taxes is counter-productive in getting any economy fired up.  We are the 'consumer'.  Take away our money and we can't buy things and when we stop buying things the economy stops, period.  Put more money in our pockets and we will spend it on houses, cars, holidays, TV's, etc.  Viola!(sic)  That is how an economy gets healthy and stays healthy!

Its(sic) basic economics which you would think politicians could figure out but very few of them do.  They are only good at dreaming up absurd ways and excuses to tax us more, and hence, discouraging true and real business.

This, they have found, is much easier than actually budgeting smartly.

My suggestion for bicycling enthusiasts?  You want it, you pay for it.   Enough of tagging everyone else for your hobby.

And how about coughing up the cash for the three feet of un-used pavement that already exists?  I'm sure city hall can figure out a hefty yearly registration system so that you can pay your fair share for the construction, maintenance and cleaning of the lanes reserved for bicycles.

Can't afford it?  Neither can I."

"And we wonder where the skewed sense of 'entitlement' originates among kids...look no further than their parents for the answer,"  suggests Kia.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Local Government Invades For-Profit Sector

Local government uses business taxes to compete with business.
Several businesses.

A couple of years ago, plans were unveiled to convert a defunct Vernon landfill into a Park.
The idea was welcomed by residents, as it was felt by many that parkland development hadn't kept up with growth.

But that's where bureaucracy blurs the lines of offering services to their residents and competing with for-profit business.
You see, it's not just a park--where swings and teeter totters and green grass and picnic tables and shade trees are found.

Nosireee Bob!

This park will include a disc golf course and bike skills area at a cost of $1.8 million.

Disc golf? 
Bike skills?
Bureaucrats call them "amenities".
Two local area golf course owners call them "subsidized competition".
And Silver Star Mountain, with its for-profit mountain bike area, will likely have a similar comment or two.

When I first heard of the plan several years ago, I called a Regional District bureaucrat whose name I've now forgotten.  I indicated that free disc golf at the park would be unfair competition to area golf courses.  He said "it's unfortunate you feel that way."

The Morning Star article today explained:  "The park is one of five regional projects aimed at lowering greenhouse gas emissions and creating cleaner air and water.  Each of the projects is made possible thanks to $4.15 million in federal gas tax funds."

Disc golf lowers Greenhouse gases?
Constructing a bike skills park lowers Greenhouse gases?

"We're only bringing your tax money back to you," said Member of Parliament rep Colin Mayes of the tax that levies five cents on every litre of gas we purchase.
That's not only what the project is doing; it's competing with area businesses who have also paid property tax money--and gas tax money.

Parks are a good idea.
Competing with area businesses is not.  

This area's plan for disc golf in parks isn't a first.
Kelowna has one at Knox Mountain Park.
Prince George, too.
Lots of places, all of which compete with their area for-profit facilities.

Commercial business opposition isn't simply a case of sour grapes.
Note this from the newpaper article:  "We play in the winter -- it's not restricted to spring/summer play...and we have little LED lights...glow in the dark discs," said Andrew Best, a Falkland resident with the Kelowna disc golf association.

Night-time operations?

So now is probably a good time to mention Highlands Golf's "covenant" -- imposed by Coldstream Council -- to "only during the (typical) golf season, AND must close to the public two hours after sunset daily during the golf season." 
So it seems there isn't a similar covenant on season or hours for the park's disc golf "amenity"? 
Nope, no restriction, no covenant.
No annual business license!

Neither did the park plan have the required public hearing (Highlands had two!), or development permit.
Because it's government!
Only industry has to jump through the red tape associated with development.
Not government.
Not bureaucrats.

"Chipping away at taxpayer investments," explains Kia.

...Wonder if the B.C. Assessment Authority (that sets property values for the purpose of taxation) will be able to see beyond what area bureaucrats see.