Saturday, December 13, 2014

One More Resident Pens Disgust

Bob Patmore penned a letter to the editor of the Morning Star, succinctly expressing what everyone is feeling regarding water rates here:

In regard to your article about the Greater Vernon master water plan defeat, I can sure see why.

"...voters have lived their lives struggling to pay
their living expenses."
Bob Patmore

For a start, the authorities came down again, like Big Daddy, saying: 'We will do this for you.  All you have to do is grant us $70 million for our plans.'

The citizens of the area, still reeling from recent high expenditures, are saying, 'Enough is enough.'

And now, Eric Foster, MLA, points out that money will not likely be forthcoming from government coffers, as they are spending the money we have given them on locations where there are more voters.

He also includes a veiled threat to put in the water system anyway.  So then we would no doubt have to pay for it.  Thanks a lot Eric.

Many of our voters have lived their lives struggling to pay their living expenses.  A figure of $70 million for a water system is beyond our belief.  The suggestion by Gyula Kiss seems to make sense, and if we used more water from our lakes, we would not have the usual run off problems of muddy surface water from the creek."
                            Bob Patmore

"We should all be grateful to Gyula Kiss...he's encouraging us to think for ourselves...a good start," offers Kia. 

Baaaaah, baaaaaah.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Choking on Vernon Gas Prices

Update: December 12, 2014:

Winfield gas price $1.039 while Vernon gas price $1.099
No wonder everybody shops south of Vernon!

Sputtering, actually, in disgust that Vernon gas prices are still $1.179 a litre.

A barrel of oil today is listed at $60.94 on BNN.

Toronto gas price is $1.066
Halifax is $1.084
Calgary is $0.958
Edmonton is $0.88 a litre.

The Canadian average price is $1.07 a litre.

Click here to find the lowest gas prices.

"I suppose we're going to do some Christmas shopping in Kamloops," says Kia.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

RU 10 Disappears from Coldstream's DRAFT OCP

Well, hallelujah, if Coldstream's Official Community Plan--as presented to the Committee of the Whole at tomorrow's meeting--makes it.

And congratulations to the Coldstream Acreage Owners' Association, whose fierce opposition to the RU10/RU30 zoning was heard loud and clear by officials.

That doesn't usually equate to elected officials backing off, but perhaps it will this time.

It's only a draft...actually one of several begun over a year ago.

But the 72-page document dated December 3, 2014 appears to have axed RU10 wherever it previously appeared, though RU30 will remain.

It appears that Mayor and Council have ticked the "Responsive" and "Participatory" boxes.

"It's not written in stone yet," warns Kia, "so curb the ebullience."

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Penalty for Conserving Water

That's exactly what it amounts to.
A hit for using 20 per cent less water.
Compliments of Greater Vernon Water and the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee members that  approved Greater Vernon Water's rate sheets...yes, sheets (plural) (rates begin on page 9 of 14).  (Remember that the Black Mountain Irrigation District has ONE rate sheet, and it's double spaced).

Don Graham's letter to the editor was printed in the Morning Star December 5, 2014:

"I recently received my third quarter utility bill and the water cost portion of this bill is enormous.  

Last year when I received the same third quarter bill (which I also thought was enormous), I decided to do something about it and adjusted my water consumption, bringing my water usage down by almost 20 per cent.  

Guess what?  My bill this year was almost the same as last year!

A review of what has happened here has brought me some interesting results.  On March 19th, the Regional District of North Okanagan board approved a new tiered fee structure, including the infrastructure base fee, increasing the cost to domestic (residential users) by almost 20 per cent.
Yes, almost 20 per cent.

This in the face of inflationary guidelines of two per cent.  I guess the cost of water is not included in the calculations for inflation."
          Don Graham                                       

A timely water issue excerpt from The Rotarian, December 2014, issue:

"...I wondered whether maintaining and improving infrastructure is the right approach, and thought about the significance of flushing our toilets and watering our gardens with potable water.  In some countries, like China, tap water is not fit for human consumption or is of dubious quality, while potable water is delivered through water dispensers.  In places like Hong Kong, toilets are flushed with seawater, and potable water is delivered through a different set of pipes..."
Christian Kober (Shanghai, China)

" improving infrastructure the right approach?" muses Kia.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Failed Referendum Doesn't Lead to Peer Review

No, it doesn't.
And the referendum never said it would.
Although Coldstream Councillor Kiss wished it had.

Thoughtful letter from Terry Mooney today, in The Morning Star's letters:

Water plan peer review required:
Following the Regional District of North Okanagan presentation at the Schubert Centre, I am even more convinced of the wisdom of the no vote in which the electorate, by a two to one margin, opted for a peer review of the Greater Vernon water plan.  From the reaction of Greater Vernon folks attending, it is evident that most came away, firm in this position.  Here's why:

1.  Out of hand dismissal by RDNO and water advisory staff of the history and many years of toil and struggle by past mayors and councils to develop the foundation of a safe, dependable and cost-effective water system that served residential, commercial, agricultural, industrial and recreational needs of the Greater Vernon family.

2.  We were presented with phase one of the master water plan with a price tag of $70 million which perpetuates the over-reliance on the Duteau system to provide safe, affordable water to our user base.  Conspicuous by its absence was any reference to phase two, which follows the six-project itinerary and we would again be asked for an additional $38 million for future upgrades.  So then we would be forced to face funding of $108 million.  But that's not all.  Add to this, the $61 million already spent on the Duteau system, and an additional $38 million required to maintain and service the system over the next five years and we are on the hook for close to $200 million.

3.  Conspicuous by its absence also, in the master water plan, is any reference to what easily could have been presented as option 10 in the plan.  We were presented with nine options that were considered by a multitude of experts to be the best solutions to our water problems going forward.  These nine options were focused primarily on continued development of the Duteau system, and the Duteau/Kalamalka combination supply scenario at the expense of applying the same due diligence to option 10 which is development of the Kalamalka/Okanagan Lake system.  When asked why this important option was not included in the master water plan, we were told that the experts didn't think it worthy of their consideration.  Yet, option 10 uses the best of all resource possibilities, these being two great deep lake water sources which by their nature would require the least filtration, the safest, time-tested quality drinking water, the easiest reclamation process, and less reliance on the tenuous, unpredictable and cost-intensive Duteau system.

4.  We were told that our licensure holdings for Kalamalka Lake are maxed out and that we could not expand our licensure for Okanagan Lake because the province favors fishing licensure over the need for water supply to our community.  The licensure issues can be addressed at the political level by seasoned negotiators on behalf of all of us to affect(sic) compromise so that sport fishing interests, and fish and wildlife habitats are safeguarded as well.

5.  Through the term of RDNO's quest for public funding, there has been a threat of fear-based rhetoric emanating from RDNO management, water advisory management and staff, and some local politicians that Interior Health would and will force us to accept the proposed water plan because we have "no alternative" plan in place to meet 2014-15 federal water standards.  An Interior Health official was at the public meeting and reassured the audience that IH had no intention to force any action if a no vote prevailed.  A reasoned response by Interior Health in the face of a fear-based attempt to sway voters calls for dialogue with all stakeholders to develop a plan that addresses all present and future water safety issues.

6.  And finally, fear of mussel infestation into our two deep lakes was voiced by water advisory management as a rationale for not using Kalamalka/Okanagan as the principal drinking water source for our community.  We were told that it was not a matter of "if" but "when" this will occur.

This fear-based approach fails to take into consideration the resources that were mustered and brought to bear by Okanagan citizens, working together with provincial and local law enforcement personnel to counter and ultimately defeat the milfoil scare of the past 20 years.  Why wouldn't we do this again if it were needed?

To address all of these questions, what's needed is a peer review of the entire referendum question.  This can only be accomplished in the days ahead by marshaling the no vote so loudly and wisely voiced in the referendum.

I am at a loss to explain why in the face of an overwhelming rejection of the Greater Vernon water plan as presented, RDNO and water advisory personnel continue to use the media to install fear and to obfuscate, instead of leading the way toward review which is the public will.  Perhaps the new mayor and council who lead the way in opting for peer review, will consider cleaning house and reconstructing a water advisory board that is at a minimum responsive to public input."
Terry Mooney


"The water authority and their consultants create fear-mongering in spades," suggests Kia, "it's up to us to see through it."

A water advisory board that is--at a minimum--responsive to public input?  (coughing)...

Money for Frivolity

Seems they can always find money for that.
During tough economic times, frivolous stuff is the stuff that you can't eat, sleep in, wear, or live in to stay warm.

So, yes, a rail trail for recreation is frivolous.

This time bureaucrats from Kelowna to Vernon and Coldstream, including the North Okanagan Regional District, are all ga ga (keen) to purchase Canadian National's 47.5 kilometre rail line for $22 million, despite 2.5 kilometres of it being smack amid the Okanagan Indian Band's reserve. 

And there's a refreshing comment--sadly missing from Coldstream and NORD administration--as Chief Byron Louis admits " may not fit into our (membership's) needs". 

Congratulations, Chief Byron.
You're considering whether your membership--residents--as a whole, would benefit.
Not just a few people here and there.
Unlike our area's administrators...

But there's apparently not a penny available from any government, at any level (including Interior Health) to put towards the $70 million Stage One water plan (its borrowing referendum failed three weeks ago).

Regional district director Bob Fleming was quoted in The Morning Star today as saying "Canadian National still has to salvage the rails and the signals." 

Yet he added that "...possible uses are for a commuter rail service or a recreational corridor".

The Okanagan Rail Trail people will be upset if they lose it as a planned recreational corridor.

But a commuter rail service?
AFTER CN salvages the rails?
So we taxpayers would have to pay for laying down new rails after CN tore up its rails? 

"I smell a bureaucratic SNAFU," says Kia, rolling her eyes at the future cost.

A rail trail. 

"What we wanted was a continuous corridor..." said Coldstream Mayor and self-described pragmatic socialist Jim Garlick.

"To aid people gettin' out of Dodge," offers Kia. 

 Looks like Canadian National's the winner with this plan.

Okanagan Rail Trail photo (2013)