Thursday, February 27, 2014

Recycling Smoke-n-Mirrors?

As of May 1st, a new recycling "agency" is slated to shift the cost of recycling from taxpayers to producers of that waste.

At least that's what's being touted.

But even local governments--who supposedly will benefit--aren't sure what's going on.
So it's no surprise that taxpayers know even less.
Recycling as a topic isn't likely to stir strong feelings among the public.
Because we are recycling.

Just think:
A new "agency" will take over recyclables in the entire province, ostensibly to reduce what still goes into landfills.
Admittedly that's a good thing.

But a new "agency"?
To sweeten the deal, the new "agency" will give each of 18 regional districts in B.C. one million bucks.
Nice payola.
Rather than wondering how $18 million is to be used, let's wonder where does that $18 million come from?

They're called Multi Material B.C. and they've convinced the provincial government that they are an agency made up of producers of that packaging.

Convinced government with a cheque for $18 million.
They call it a "collection incentive".
Yup, that'll do it.
Every time.

Apparently it was a hot topic at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting last September, enough so that it became a Resolution.

MMBC has issued a list of Frequently Asked (and Answered) Questions.

Resembling B.C. Hydro's "Team Power Smart" ("with 344,000 members, and counting"), MMBC has promoted "Pledges" of community groups who've signed on, heart and soul, jumping in with both feet.

One unlikely to sign up quickly is Spallumcheen's former mayor, Will Hansma, who is crying foul about this program's effect on originators of packaging and printed paper waste in his area -- print and wood fibre companies who are taxpayers in Spallumcheen.
That's the first hint of smoke-n-mirrors:  wasn't it said that MMBC is created by and comprised of producers/industry?

Guess the originators forgot to invite Tolko to the meeting.
You can bet Tolko has an opinion on these "industry-borne costs".
Maybe one day a newspaper, any newspaper, will ask Tolko, one of the largest wood products employers in British Columbia.

Tolko has packaging and printed paper?
Well, yes, sort of.
Lumber wraps come to mind, plastic load covers that surely are recycled, and perhaps reused at the receiving end's storage areas.

But MMBC obviously wants to include wood fibre as a packaging and printed paper waste.
Abject nonsense.
Wood fibre degrades and disappears completely as anyone who has ever gardened with "what's at hand" will know.

Anyone remember Ruth Stout?
She was an old lady 40 years organic gardening guru, who used spoiled hay to prevent weeds and conserve water around plants in her vegetable garden.

For many years, I used "books" (multiple layers) of newspapers (but never shiny, coloured magazine or flyer sheets) as mulch in my vegetable garden to prevent weeds.  Then I used wood chips in the garden's walk-paths to prevent weeds and conserve moisture.  I used whatever I could get easily and cheaply, or free.
And today's newsprint, which uses vegetable-based printing processes--versus the years-ago lead-based--is truly renewable.

Those mulching products worked, and didn't harm the soil or the people who ate the products grown in that soil.
Those mulching products helped the soil by keeping its top layer moist and shaded from the sun which, in turn, allowed earthworms to do their magic around vegetable plants' roots.  Earthworms are never found in the top 12 inches or so of sun-baked, unprotected, soil.
And those mulches decomposed.

Will Hansma is correct when he states that the wood products are natural and do not pollute the environment.
Even in a landfill's bulk, given enough time, wood products totally disappear.
Paper, newspaper, all gone with time.
So, including wood products is, frankly, absurd.

But May 1st is just around the corner.

What assurance is there that current recycling employees in our communities won't lose their jobs if masses of recycling--under MMBC's program--perhaps head off via truck or rail to one giant recycling gathering area somewhere in the province?  The second hint of smoke-n-mirrors:  Nary a word about that.

The third hint of smoke-n-mirrors: 
When costs to any producer (of products that we buy) increase, don't we have the costs passed onto us via the retail price?

The fourth hint:
If Ruth Stout were alive, she'd be laughing at the nonsense of paper products being included.

"The Mafia doesn't have a sense of humour," suggests Kia.

The fifth hint.

Where does that $18 million for the regional districts come from?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Employees Know Best

...even former employees.

Like many cities, Vernon's tourism booths that welcome visitors are at the City's two entrances -- North and South ends in this case.

"Who the heck is going to pull in there?  And if they have a large rig or trailer, how can they turn around?"
N.Roman (formerly with the Greater Vernon Tourism Assoc. in the 1990s)

And who the heck convinced Vernon City Council that one--yes, only one--tourism booth should be located in the middle of town.  
Actually, a block or two off the middle of town.

Many recreational vehicle drivers seek out easy-angle pullouts for obvious reasons.
And many RV drivers--on their family's annual two week vacation--find it stressful to get the hang of it every year.  Some have stories to tell.

Let's look at Vernon's two current tourist booths, both on Hwy 97.

The first Google photo shows the current tourism pullout coming into Vernon from the North, via an easy exit.  The second photo, entering Vernon from the South, also with easy exit from the highway, both offering sufficient space to turn around.  Ample visibility, both from a distance and up close, is a real bonus for visitors who may be here for the first time.

Before illustrating where the lone tourism booth is to be located, it may be helpful to imagine oneself behind the wheel of one of these:

or maybe one of these:

So let's have a look at where the City of Vernon plans on putting their lone Tourist Booth to welcome visitors to the North Okanagan.'re NOT seeing things.  Impossible 90-degree turn into the lane (say goodbye to that hydro pole), impossible because there's NO exit.  Plus, just beyond the hydro pole at the left is a railway crossing.  Imagine visitors sitting there waiting for a train because they're trying to get to 27th Street (do they even know that is one way to get out of there?), as there's no way to turn around and get back to Hwy. 97.

The next picture is an aerial shot of where Vernon wants to put its lone tourist booth.  A block and a half away from Highway 97.  (Click on SAT view).  See the big white roof?  That's the old civic arena.  See all the cars parked there (it's still in use).  See the little building just north of it, with 3 vehicles parked abutting the building, and 4 vehicles parked alongside the sidewalk?  You may even recognize the hydro poles.  That's the proposed new lone tourist booth.  How does this location even begin to replace either of the existing tourism booths?  How on earth! 

And, yes, Highway 97--from whence the tourist has come, if he happened to be in the correct lane to turn onto this street in the first place--is one block away, totally out of sight.  And even a snazzy Tourism sign on the highway would get lost in all the gas station, restaurant and motel signs.

Unless the tourism sign is 40 feet tall and has flashing lights.
But that would violate sign laws... 

Tourism is down, so the powers-that-be have stated these reasons to reduce to one booth:

So let's read what the former Tourism Association employee wrote to the editor:

"I have been reading with interest, many letters about the tourism booth relocation and feel I must also speak.
Looking at the Tourism Vernon website, it states, "conveniently located" on Highway 97.  That's right, highway exposure and access, easy for all.

Why do you think all of the hotel chains and restaurants want on the main strip?  

Accessibility, brand recognition and convenience.  I happened to drive down the avenue that the booth is to relocate to.  I was shocked at the location.  Who the heck is going to pull in there?  And if they have a large rig or trailer, how can they turn around? (to get back onto Hwy 97).

They'll have to take a scenic tour over to 27th Street and head north or south and try to get back to the highway.  

Moving the renowned Watson House to its current location was a major expense and it is serving its purpose well.  Why change it?

And the north end booth has great access as well.  How many cities offer two tourism booths?

Not many, at least not in our area.  We are lucky to have two of them, both being very identifiable and at convenient locations.

How insane to even think you should reduce to one booth and move it out of eyesight.  And what to do with the renowned Watson House?  Want to move it again?

Hello Vernon, goodbye tourists.  Give your heads a shake." 
         Nancy Roman, (formerly with the Greater Vernon Tourism Association in the 1990s).

Oh, and they're going to spend $290,000 to fix up the new digs.
Plus x-dollars to probably move the Watson House again.
Plus x-dollars to probably pave the new digs all the way back to the Civic Arena.
Plus x-dollars to relocate those pesky hydro poles (right after they've been knocked down).

Because the City of Vernon already owns that building.

"Thank goodness the City doesn't own a rendering plant," sighs Kia.

Lone tourist booth.
Lone tourist. 

Bad Citizen HSBC

It isn't that I just discovered the news.
It's just that this news has angered me since I heard it nearly three months ago.

Small business owners were "good enough" when the lender was known as the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank of Canada, when the interest on small business credit lines would help propel them to their current ranking as the second largest bank in the World. 

I can consider myself lucky, I suppose.
A couple of years ago, I moved all my banking to a local credit union.

Just a simple thing really.
The lock on the door that accesses the ATM vestibule was frequently broken.
In the habit of making night deposits, I often felt uneasy as "undesirables" stumbled past the building.

After complaining once, I complained again.
I was told that "during winter, some people force the door open, breaking the lock, to sleep in the warm vestibule, and we got tired of fixing the lock, so we just leave it unlocked now."

Strange strategy for keeping their customers safe.

So I was one small business owner who did not receive the letter that other small business owners received in the mail around Christmas.
That HSBC was cancelling their small business account because, as the HSBC letter stated: "“The profitability of (that) small business is not high enough for the bank to consider maintaining the service..."


The bank said it was changing its strategy.

Affected business owners were given 60 days to find a new bank.

Not just here, either.
It's worldwide, as this story from the United Arab Emirates proves.

But at least, there was a 60-day grace to find a new bank, versus what happened to this guy in the USA when he tried to use the debit card for his business.  It didn't work.  When he called the bank, he was told his business account was closed.  Just like that.  No letter, nothing.  Brett King is a blogger on the financial system...wrong guy to piss off by closing his account.  This is a blow-by-blow description of what occurred.

Because HSBC is so big, they believe they're untouchable with $2.7 Trillion in assets.
Bigger than our government?
Bigger than other governments?

HSBC is a second tier bank in Canada (not one of The Top Five), and is on the bottom rung when it comes to dignity and respect.

Their jettisoning of small business accounts is disgusting and repulsive.
We Canadians should not put up with being treated that way.

But even in the United States, where the government is being blamed for not pursuing charges against HSBC for...are you sitting down?...refusing to prosecute ... for laundering hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of alleged terrorists in the Middle East and drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia, the Department of Justice is sending the message that Big Banks are above the law. 
But HSBC got a $1.9 Billion dollar fine...(nobody at HSBC goes to jail, and new shareholders will pay the fine as it's simply another entry on their balance sheet).

And there are investors who are mad at HSBC. 

So will our government show HSBC that their new "strategy" isn't the way to treat the small business category in Canada?
There's no indication that anything will happen, unfortunately.

"The Canadian government should pull their Charter," offers Kia.

That'd teach HSBC the Canadian government doesn;t like the way small business owners have been treated.

“Who controls the food supply controls the people;
who controls the energy can control whole continents;
who controls money can control the world.”
Dr.Henry Kissinger 

For more reading on banks, here are stories you won't see in a newspaper...any mainstream media for that matter.  Pity.

ADDED March 1/14:    Timely video entitled  Bugger The Bankers here.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Economic Un-Development

"Other jurisdictions could be far more attractive," Maria Besso, Coldstream councillor, stated in response to yet another round of water rate increases.  Base fee increases of 24 per cent and consumption increases of 30 per cent to be exact (for my category.)  Her comment would lead readers to believe that water plan screw-ups are synonymous with only the North Okanagan.
Perhaps that's true.

But no matter the topic, it seems we can always rely on director Mike Mcnabb for a pie in the sky comment, and he didn't disappoint on his agricultural rate (last year's increase was a paltry 3 per cent) comment:  "We have to protect agriculture because it's economic development."

Oh, for heaven's sake, agriculture is NOT economic development!
Never has been.
(We know of which we speak, because we farmed for ~18 years).

Economic development is a segment--any segment--of society that pays its way, or that of others.
Farming does neither.

Then there's Vernon councillor Juliette Cunningham's comment, as reported in the Morning Star February 21st:  "When you compare the cost of tap water to bottled water, tap water is a lot less."  That nonsensical ebullience doesn't even deserve a comment here.

Ya right!
Back to the non-farming know...the economy that needs no-one else in any other category to pay their way for them.

As business overhead increases, undevelopment occurs, albeit slowly at the beginning because there is (presumably) profit to dig into.  Ultimately, P&Ls show decreased profit and business owners have to make tough decisions. 

Overhead is a business expense--a cost category--that can't be decreased by working harder.
Overhead is fixed costs like hydro to keep the lights on and the food refrigerated.
Overhead is employee wages so that customers receive service that matches the need of their visit.
Overhead is maintaining and repairing equipment and facility amenities that customers expect a business to offer.
Overhead is being able to pay back the bank that helped you set up your business in 2 months versus 14 years if you had to save money to start up (thank God we no longer have those bank costs).
Overhead is property taxes, and numerous other "must pays".

Overhead is all those things.
And when overhead costs spike in a water-dependent business like a farm or a golf course, the results can be uber dramatic.

You could actually say that farming is the result of undevelopment years ago.
Farming, for years, hasn't been able to pay the true cost of their property taxes, so residential and commercial and institutional customers pay it for them.
Farming, for years, hasn't been able to pay the true cost of their water consumption, so residential and commercial and institutional customers pay it for them.
Farming, for years, hasn't been able to produce consumable products without legislation intended to keep them viable, including the Right to Farm Act in conjunction with the Agricultural Land Reserve.  And with all that, most farmers have given up.  Farmers, feeling over-regulated, state the only power left to them is to quit farming.

Is that the definition of juxtaposition?

I'm reminded of this blog's January 14th post entitled "Tom Dick and Harry", in which water treatment in Mexico is referred to:  "Even Mexico, of all places, only chlorinates water intended for consumption, not water for car washes and nurseries and golf courses, which is the American model.  But we chlorinate it all.

Chlorinating water that lands on the ground.
And now we're going to filter it all.

Even the 90 per cent of Duteau Creek water that goes onto agriculture and outdoor commercial and institutional uses.

Oh yeah...remember to remove agriculture from the true cost of water because they're subsidized.

"I'll reduce overhead by using dry shampoo," offers Kia.

So...we wonder which as-yet-unbuilt-here category will soon subsidize commercial, or residential, or institutional. 
Because of the undevelopment of the North Okanagan.

Any takers?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Gas in Wenatchee

A late-winter getaway provided some interesting revelations:

Regular gas in Wenatchee is $2.19 a gallon!
It's about a dollar a gallon more near Omak and Oroville, which is still a bargain for cross-border shopping Canadians.

$2.19 a gallon.
Holy Toledo!
Gas was $1.239 a litre here that day.

One litre =  .26 US gallons, so we British Columbians pay almost $5.00 a gallon here.

We pay 226 per cent more than folks in Wenatchee pay.
And yes, for the anal among us, it should be stated that the U.S. gallon is a bit smaller, at 3.79 litres.
And, despite the 10 per cent currency exchange, everything in the United States is still a bargain.

Yup, we Canadians get screwed here...firstly (world-wide) by the Seven Sisters (Exxon, Gulf, Texaco, Mobil, Socal, BP, and Shell: five huge American companies, one British company, and one Anglo-Dutch concern dominated the world of oil for most of the century).  Ahem...yes, Americans buy fuel from those people too.
Then there are Federal taxes.  Not to be outdone, our own British Columbia government imposed carbon taxes to assuage their western societal guilt.

More than 30 per cent of Canadian gas prices are taxes, and British Columbia cranks that number higher, being one of the worst offenders.
If you don't trust PetroCanada's numbers, here are Wikipedia's.

Yeah, but aren't there also taxes to Americans on their retail gas purchases?
Sure there are.

The American Petroleum Institute issues quarterly reports for Federal and State taxes, including state comparisons.  Washington State's taxes are found on page 48 of 51 here.

Oh, but our gas tax money comes back to us.
Yeah, sure....two billion annually at last count?
The B.C. government must have one hell of a daily interest savings account!

But the Union of B.C. Municipalities seems to be unable to do without gas taxes...all that funding for their members, albeit with considerable jump-through-the-hoops strings attached.

It couldn't be the sunshine tax, because Wenatchee has plenty of sun too.
"How would you spend 200-300 sunshine days?" ask several Wenatchee tourism booklets.
Visitor's guide is here.

Sure, Canadians earn higher wages, most dramatically the public sector.
However, I doubt the $2.35 monthly increase in Canada Pension payments will have seniors shouting off the rooftops just how much better off we are.

Oh...and did I mention there are no parking meters?
And 3 hours parking is
One bylaw officer drives around chalking tires on South Mission Street.
And unlike in Vernon, you never see him again.

The City of Wenatchee, much like Vernon, has grown northward with Wal-Mart and Target locating there.
But their "old" downtown is completely different from Vernon's.

They have angle parking in the older section of town, with senior's apartments for rent signs.  The angled parking spots are chock full...and NOT with cars of employees of the businessfronts either.   You can tell, because every third or fourth parking space seems to be signalling to back up, all while one or two cars ahead are entering an angled spot.  Their old downtown area is a hive of activity!  Lovely older brick buildings, lots of people walking on the sidewalks, in and out of stores.  And yes, there was only one lane of traffic in each direction.  An old red and black trolley car--converted with pneumatic tires--slid easily among the downtown traffic.   People were considerate, block after block, letting cars back into lanes.  Didn't hear one horn being tooted to hurry someone up...!

Oh, and did I mention that Americans are better drivers? 
Yup...Americans do not speed, whether on city roads or highways.
They simply don't.
Not one mile an hour faster.
And when travelling on a two-lane road, cars always use it only for passing and move into the curb lane, especially on highways.

Even their highway signs are more considerate of Canadians.
Just south of the Canada/US border, the American sign is very considerate of visiting Canadians (similar to one of these):

Yet, returning north across the Canadian border, we Canadians have fallen down in the "consideration" department, with this first sign that greets Americans:

How inconsiderate of us...

Note to Golf Nuts visiting Wenatchee: 
Stop in at The Golfer's Edge and say hello to PGA Golf Pro Ed Paine.
Great little retail shop, repairs, custom clubs, lessons as well as indoor golf from a nice mid-Century house at 218 South Mission (Mission is a one way road, heading south to north, so drive south on Wenatchee Avenue (from near the convention centre) about a mile or so, then turn right, and turn right again...the next street is South Mission).  Ed's place is on the left.

Need a place to stay that's clean?
Try the Wenatchee Comfort Inn, 815 N. Wenatchee Avenue, within a short walk to the convention center.
Near 9th Street (for the east-west orientation).  Sara Baum, general manager, is a great hands-on manager who can meet your every need.  Breakfast (included) takes a bit of getting used to, flipping your own waffle in an iron contraption in the bright and spacious breakfast area...endless coffee and sausages and eggs and toast and bagels and cereal and yoghurt and...The room was $89 plus $7.12 state tax, $3.56 city/county tax, and $1.00 "occupancy tax".  Swimming pool, plus well-appointed rooms complete with HD television, hairdryer and coffee maker, iron and ironing board (what are those?).  Thanks for making my stay enjoyable, Sara!   Hope you enjoyed your time off this weekend!

Bye bye, Wenatchee.
Great place.
Great gas prices.
Great people.

"Maybe Americans pay 10 times what we do for water," suggests Kia.

The wager:  a bowl of dog kibbles that Americans do not pay more for water than we do.
The odds are with me.

Monday, February 10, 2014

B.C. = Bring Cash

Small business owners can only work so hard...

We can--and now do--work longer hours, reducing otherwise higher labour costs.

We can utilize "just in time" ordering, reducing the high cost of having inventory sitting on a shelf gathering dust.  Unfortunately that system's result--stress--can't be claimed as an expense under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

While nary a small business owner isn't aware of increasing costs, it's Year End when those increasing costs--more correctly, what comprises them--becomes very clear.

"All the people who could afford to leave Ontario", a decidedly tongue-in-cheek depiction of British Columbia.

The culprit is overhead.
It doesn't decrease if business owners work harder.
Or work smarter.

A six year comparison (2008 through 2013) for Highlands Golf:

Water taxes:  119.2% increase
Hydro:  52.964% increase
Phone (telus):  14.52% increase
Vehicle (six-month) insurance:  62.245% increase
Property taxes (3-year comparison due to a reclassification by B.C. Assessment):  28.329% increase

Any business owners out there who saw their revenues increase by 119%?  By 53%?  By 14%?  By 62%?  By 28%?

I didn't think so.
I'm left grateful for small mercies:
Highlands Golf isn't open in February when British Columbia's newly-proclaimed new Statutory Holiday, called Family Day, is observed.

"One less Stat Holiday to pay an employee," offers Kia.

Thanks for that, Christy Clark.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Two Faces of the Ratepayers' Association

Granted, it's not Bernie Madoff.
But duplicity just the same.

In a recent letter to the editor, Coldstream Ratepayers' Asssociation acting president, Steve Heeren, blathered on about having invited a member of the Society for the Governance of Greater Vernon to speak to the ratepayers' meeting, and that they apparently didn't make it that snowy night.  He said the same during the meeting.

frightened sheeple

It's not difficult to recognize the face of duplicity: 
One side denotes a victim, whose lifestyle--its very being--is threatened by even the prospect of change.
The other side is a Doberman, happiest among familiar smells, but not averse to shitting a mile away.

Manipulators and Machinators?  Welcome at the Ratepayers' Association.

"Your views received ample coverage from the sympathetic media, thus people are well aware of your views."  councillor G.Kiss

Today's letter to the editor from Bruce Shepherd of the Greater Vernon Governance Society removes the wool from public eyes.  (highlighting:  blog author)

"Re: the Jan. 29 letter to the editor from Steve Heeren, of the Coldstream Ratepayers Association.

Mr. Heeren claims in his letter that he "had informed one board director ...of the society, who lives in Coldstream that he was welcome to attend, along with the others, to ask questions and provide information which he thought (their) ratepayer members needed to know."

Well, Mr. Heeren, what you actually said was totally different.  And Councillor Gyula Kiss, in writing, told the society not to attend.

After the governance society announced it had signatures to its petition from 11 per cent (816) of eligible Coldstream voters, Kiss announced on his Internet blog that a Coldstream Ratepayers' Association meeting would be held Jan. 9.

The governance society asked Kiss if it was appropriate for our members to attend and provide information and answer questions.

The e-mail response from Kiss, Dec. 17 stated, 'I don't think your association's presence (the society) would be advisable.  If you wish to disseminate your views you should call a meeting of your own at your association's expense and convince people of your views.  Wasting time and money of the ratepayers' meeting would not be in the interest of their organization.  Your views received ample coverage from the sympathetic media, thus people are well aware of your views.'

So the same question was put to Mr. Heeren.  On Dec. 23, his e-mail stated:  'It is not the policy of the Coldstream Ratepayers Association to entertain the appearance of external delegations to our meeting.'

On Jan. 8, Mr. Heeren was quoted in The Morning Star as saying, 'We have such a good council now that I personally don't feel that we need a watchdog group at this time to watch out for the public interest.'

Heeren went on to say that the actions of the governance society have 'churned us into action' and this is 'potentially a fighting issue.'

Only after 816 eligible Coldstream taxpayers asked to have a current study completed by a non-biased third party does Mr. Heeren's 'watchdog' group churn into action?

The society thought the ratepayers and all Coldstream taxpayers would want to know the facts regarding why costs in the area (including Coldstream) have increased at a far more rapid pace than population growth and inflation.

And subsequently, is there a more economical and efficient way to govern the area?

A large number of citizens seemingly want to be informed by a non-biased third party to make the decision at the ballot box.

Mr. Heeren and Mr. Kiss, the ratepayers (all 60 of them) and Coldstream council seem to want no part of the process.

Why?  Perhaps the answer lies in the indisputable fact that 816 Coldstream residents signed a petition in favour of having the question asked and both the ratepayers and council are afraid of what the answer might be."                   Bruce Shepherd, on behalf of the Greater Vernon Governance Society.

"Look up the definition of duplicity," offers Kia, "and find the CRA's membership application." 

Right after the Bernie Madoff listing.

Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city,
it might be better to change the locks.
~Doug Larson (English middle-distance runner who won gold medals at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, 1902-1981)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Lone Voice Drowns in Water Debacle?

Seems so anyway.

District of Coldstream councillor, Gyula Kiss' letter to the editor today is worthy of attention--indeed alarm--despite his omission of how to fix the water debacle in the North Okanagan.

Seems somebody spent a crapload of our money doing things wrong.
With more that needs to be spent just to satisfy Interior Health's filtration demand.

"Imagine the public reaction if we would spend 90 per cent more...they (public) would be furious."
  DoC councillor Kiss

So how did we get to this point?
Even Kiss doesn't place blame on decision-makers.
He apparently knew all along that the master water plan had cracks, but we can only surmise that it was Mayor Garlick who didn't give councillor Kiss the authority--until recently--to be at the decision-making table.   (See October 19th posting here, and June 28th posting here, and March 10th posting here).  And one more from Councillor Besso, in a letter to the CBC.

So who the hell was at the decision-making table?
Some dummkopf that shouldn't have been on the committee in the first place?
Likely several dummkopf...

But--in my view--unless you know just who did what incorrectly in the maze of the North Okanagan's bureaucracy, you won't begin to understand how to prevent costly foibles from again upon another...and another.

Was it the city engineers?  If so, we can fix that.
Or the consultant's engineers?  If so, we can fix that.
Or the consultant?  We can fix that too.

Kiss' letter today:  (highlighting:  blog author)

Water Plan History Detailed:
"Master Water Plan 2002 (MWP 2002) was produced 12 years ago.  It was going to revolutionize our water distribution system.  The plan recommended total separation of domestic and agricultural water.

MWP 2002 would have cost water customers $72 million ($5,040,000 annually for a 20-year period).  No need for the Duteau Plant as all crops would have been irrigated with raw water.  Only one treatment plant would be needed.

Two years later MWP 2002 was basically trashed.  Addendum 2004 was produced.

This Addendum was a total reversal of MWP 2002.  It was a return to the old VID model with mixed domestic irrigation water delivered in the same pipe.  The irrigation water was now more expensive.  The $28-29 million Duteau Plant's annual debt servicing cost is about $2 million.  Treatment cost in 2011 at Duteau Creek was $1.7 million (for a combined annual cost of $3.7 million).  Domestic customers only used about 1.5 million cubic metres in 2011 of this expensive water.  The remaining 80 per cent of domestic water was supplied by the Mission Hill (MH) plant.  (Blog author:  The Federal government contributed $12 million towards Duteau Creek's construction).

The MH treatment plant was upgraded to double its capacity and provide additional treatment by way of ultra violet irradiation.  Cost of the upgrade was $7.5 million (annual financing cost is about $525,000).  In 2011 treatment costs were $625,577 for a total annual cost of $1,150,577.

Using the above figures, MH water was costing about $0.25 per cubic meter, Duteau Creek's water about $2.14 per cubic meter.

If all of the domestic water was treated at MH, the total cost of treatment for all domestic water would have been about $1,600,000 instead of the 2011 combined cost of about $4,900,000.

This huge expenditure did provide some benefit to the DC customers.  However, there are many more who have absolutely no benefits.  I will use my situation as an example.

My water source prior to 2002 was Kalamalka Lake (KL) from the Coldstream Creek Road pumphouse.  It provided me with chlorinated KL water for which I paid about $0.56 per cubic meter.  In 2013 I paid $1.83 per cubic meter for DC water which is the same quality that I have received from KL:  chlorinated DC water.

To date Greater Vernon Water has spent ~$67 million on MWP infrastructure.  The referendum of 2004 only approved a maximum of $35 million.  We spent $32 million above the approved maximum.  Imagine the public reaction if we would spend 90 per cent more on the referendum-approved sport fields at the college site.  They would be furious.  Yet there was no public outcry about the 90 per cent overspending on the MWP referendum funding limit."  (Blog author:  so where was council's 'united' outcry????)

"The simple reason for this overspending was the fact that there was no set plan.  Requests for little projects of $2 million here, another project for $2.5 million there till we got to a point where the consultants and staff were basically stuck with the over-sized DC treatment plant.  The sad thing is that the $67 million is only a down payment.  The newest "plan" is proposing an additional expenditure of about $111 million.  This would include two filtration plants to the tune of $57 million (judging from previous experience a whole lot more).  Even with this additional investment an estimated 9,000,000 cubic meters of filtered water would be used for farm and orchard irrigation.

That is more than the total domestic consumption, all at the domestic customers' expense.  It would also create a triple distribution system:  one for domestic use only from the MH treatment plant, one for raw water distribution to some agriculture properties and one for a mixed agriculture/domestic use.  This is the system that would use the filtered water on crops.  You can read more on my blog:  "coldstreamernews".
                                  Gyula Kiss, Coldstream councillor

And, perhaps oblivious to further dullling the public's now-numbed sense and sensibility, this article from the same newspaper issue:

"Referendum taps into $70-million water plan, R.Rolke:

"Greater Vernon residents are being asked to fund big ticket water upgrades.  The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee decided Thursday to ask voters in November to approve borrowing up to $70 million for phase one of the master water plan.

'I have read all of the technical reports and I believe we are getting a fair compromise by keeping costs down as much as possible but meeting the requirements the Interior Health Authority keeps putting on us," said director Mike Macnabb.'

"Directors Bob Spiers, Gyula Kiss and Maria Besso voted against the motion, largely because the plan includes $26.5 million for filtration at the Duteau Creek treatment plant.

'I am not convinced Duteau filtration should be part of the package,' said Spiers.  'It should be at Mission Hill, where 80 per cent of the people get their water.'

"Besso pointed out that much of the Duteau water goes to farm crops and not residents."  'We are going to put filtrated water on agricultural fields and it will be a waste of money,' she said. 

"But Dale McTaggart, general manager of engineering, says there is more pressure to meet regulations with the Duteau system and the IHA has initiated orders to force the matter.

If the November referendum were to fail, direction would be sought from IHA.

'They may order us to do the work," said McTaggart.

"In terms of crops receiving filtrated water, Macnabb insists IHA sets the tone for any work."

'We have no control over some things like the future requirements of IHA,' he said.  'They may say that every drop of water, even agriculture, has to be treated.'  (Blog author:  and Macnabb seems OK with that, with nary a squeak of disgust!)

It was suggested by director Bob Fleming that IHA is driven more by reducing potential liability than improving water quality.

'Filtration is dubious at best.  We provide good water,' he said.

Other aspects of the water plan's phase one are $6.4 million for Aberdeen dam improvements, $9.9 million for domestic distribution investments, $19.5 million for separating domestic and agricultural water in Lavington, $3.5 million for twinning a transmission main and $2.6 million for an Okanagan Lake pump station."

"The moral of the story is don't trust Addenda," offers Kia, donning the Clint Eastwood expression, "hang 'em high."

Maybe Gyula Kiss should speak French...would he get through to them then?

And where's Mayor Garlick in all this? 
It's the mayor that appoints councillors to committees and they report back to council, and to him directly.

Wishy-washy mayor, especially when it comes to the really important stuff.

"He's probably mapping out another bike path," defends Kia.

Kudos--albeit long overdue--to Michael Stamhuis, the architect of the sensible Master Water Plan.
The plan that's now in tatters.
He should've carried a very big stick.