Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Compelling Presentation by Citizens...

Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan's powerpoint presentation viewed by Vernon and Coldstream councils on Monday, March 23rd, 2015 can be viewed by clicking on this link

(The link is SAFE to open).

Easy to view.
Easy to read.
Easy to understand.

The most compelling presentation you're likely to see if you're a 2015 customer of Greater Vernon Water in the North Okanagan.

"Easy to be concerned because the public hasn't been sufficiently vigilant to prevent what GVWater has produced," offers Kia. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Decent Coverage

Great to see the Morning Star do stories on presentations from Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan to the Vernon and Coldstream mayors and council.

Since Jennifer Smith wrote the best story, we'll print it first:
"Group lobbies for Utility Changes"

"A fresh look, a fresh source and hopefully a drop in rates is what some Greater Vernon citizens are hoping for.

The Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan made its case to Coldstream council Monday.  The group is asking for an independent review of the Greater Vernon master water plan.

'Ultimately, we feel there should be a new master water plan that returns rates to an affordable level,' said spokesperson Eric Jackson, who served as Vernon's director of water reclamation for 25 years.

Coldstream has agreed to further discuss the plan at an upcoming committee of the whole meeting and bring the issue to the Regional District of North Okanagan, which also has plans for discussion and public input.

'We have been sitting there (at RDNO) for six years now trying to have a debate on water system rates' said Coun. Gyula Kiss, who has championed for change. 

The cost of water has tripled in the last dozen years, according to the group, which says in 2003 residents were paying about $300 for 350 cubic metres of water.

'That same amount now is costing $900,' said Jackson, not including the two per cent cost increase on tap for water users.  'It (water) has become a hardship.'

The group says residents are getting hosed by high rates, especially when compared to other communities.

Annual water bills, based on the same 350 cubic metres, for 2014 for Kelowna were $291, Penticton was $427, Port Moody is $371 and Langley residents pay $433.

The group also says rising costs, along with treating mainly agricultural water, is what led to the defeat of the Nov. 15 defeat(sic) of the master water plan borrowing referendum.

Water use data from the Duteau Creek treatment plant in 2011 and 2012 shows that only four per cent of the treated water was used for domestic during peak summer days.

'The balance, 96 per cent, of the treated water was used for agricultural irrigation,' said Jackson, questioning why Duteau Creek water is being treated to supply mainly irrigation.

Kiss suggests transferring the array of existing water licenses in the area to Okanagan Lake.

'Treatment cost is significantly lower," said Kiss, who applauds Jackson's ideas.  'I think you are on the right track.'

Meanwhile others took some offences(sic) to Jackson's presentation.  'There's decisions made from the 1960s to present day,' said Coun. Doug Dirk.

''We're in the unfortunate situation of determining how to go forward.  It's not fruitful to discuss how things could have been done'."

"So Dirk supports continuing on," sniffs Kia, "because he's tired of looking at it."

Now Richard Rolke's story, followed by his editorial:
"Public input part of water plan"

"The future of Greater Vernon's water utility will involve the public.

That promise came from Vernon politicians as a group of residents pushed for changes to the master water plan Monday.

'I'm glad some citizens have come forward,' said Coun. Catherine Lord.

'We will open up the plan and take another look at it.  The plan at the regional district is to have public input and consultation.'

Coun. Juliette Cunningham, who is Greater Vernon Advisory Committee chairperson, says the Regional District of North Okanagan will create a strategy for public input on how the water utility should evolve.

'We want an opportunity for all of the public to express their views,' she said.

After the meeting, Cunningham admitted that GVAC must look beyond just the suggestions coming from Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan, which presented Monday.

'We can't assume one group is speaking for all of the community,' she said.

Citiziens for Changes to the Master Water Plan formed after a majority of Greater Vernon voters show down borrowing $70 million for water plan projects.  'We need to take a fresh, new look at the master water plan,' said Eric Jackson, group spokesperson. 

'People on fixed incomes are finding it difficult to pay their water bills.'

A primary concern for the group is where Greater Vernon is accessing its water.

'We chose the wrong water course to treat,' said Jackson of Duteau Creek, adding that it should only be used for irrigation and domestic water should come from Okanagan and Kalamalka lakes.

The group is also pushing for an independent consultant to review the master water plan and develop affordable rates."

"The group speaks for more of the community than GVW bureaucrats or directors have been," offers Kia.

Now Rolke's editorial of the same date:
"More Voices Required"

"A basic principle of democracy is the direct involvements of constituents.  It may come in the form of votng, providing input on key issues or simply keeping elected officials on their toes.

And an example of that grassroots effort is the Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan, an affiliation of residents and former politicians and public servants.

'I'm glad some citizens have come forward,' said Coun. Catherine Lord after the group presented to Vernon council Monday.

'We will open up the plan and take another look at it.  The plan at the regional district is to have public input and consultation.'

Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan, or CCMWP for short, was borne out of the fiasco that occurred last November when a majority of Greater Veron residents refused to approve borrowing $70 million for capital projects.  The Interior Health Authority had mandated the works to conform to drinking water standards, but the Regional District of North Okanagan's sales pitch was weak, and speculation about the cost, water sources and operational practises was allowed to fester.

With RDNO officials still reeling from the referendum loss, CCMWP has tried to fill the void.

'We need to take a fresh, new look at the master water plan,' said Eric Jackson, group spokesperson.  People on fixed incomes are finding it difficult to pay their water bills.'

Among the proposals coming from CCMWP is using Duteau Creek strictly for irrigation and shifting all domestic water use to Kalamalka and Okanagan lakes.

'Water use data for 2011 and 2012 on peak summer days shows only six megalitres or four per cent of the 150 to 160 megalitres of treated water being used for domestic purposes.  The balance, or 96 per cent, of the treated water was used for agricultural irrigation,' said Jackson.

'Why are we treating the Duteau Creek water to supply mainly irrigation water?'

CCMWP is pushing for an independent consultant to review the master water plan and develop a conceptual design for future works and a cost analysis.

'We want a new look at the whole master water plan to see where we went wrong,' said Jackson.

Obviously that's fair comment, but who do local politicians take direction from?

'We can't assume one group is speaking for all of the community,' said Juliette Cunningham, a Vernon councillor and Greater Vernon Advisory Committee chairperson.

That is also fair comment as members of CCMWP are well-intentioned and bring some expertise to the table, but their mandate and concepts may not represent the broader community, including those who voted against borrowing $70 million.

What if another group of residents makes a completely different set of demands regarding water?  Should CCMWP be considered more relevant because it was formed first or because it includes a former Vernon mayor and former councillors from the city and Coldstream?

And while the CCMWP insists voters repudiated the technical merits of the master water plan, that may not be the view for some residents.

'We can't assume to know what failed -- the plan or funding for the plan,' said Cunningham.

The regional district is currently looking at its next steps for the master water plan, including a strategy for public input.

'We want an opportunity for all of the public to express their views,' said Cunningham.

Ultimately, members of Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan deserve praise for taking an active role on a critical issue that will impact the long-term future of Greater Vernon."

"....can't assume to know what failed?  Wouldn't that have been considered when the decidedly-narrow referendum Question was formulated and agreed on by the very politicians now asking? In which everybody had a say at the time?", queries Kia.

Ultimately, the decision to change some players will need to be made.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Three Times Kelowna's Water Rate!


That's what North Okanagan residents today pay for water from the Greater Vernon Water system.
How's that for a growth management strategy?

Citizens for Change to the Master Water Plan made two 10-minute presentations yesterday...the first to new Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund and Council, the second to District of Coldstream acting mayor Pat Cochrane and Council. 

Not surprisingly, area reps to the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee were reluctant to revisit the Master Water Plan, voiced vociferously by Councillor Doug Dirk from Coldstream.

But numbers from the presentation spoke volumes...and 15 or so members of the public were frankly shocked to learn of the disparity.  Hushed comments were often heard from both public galleries.

Eric Jackson addresses Vernon council with a spellbinding presentation.

Terry Mooney, Chair of Citizens for Change introduces plans from the grassroots group.

"Otherwise we can apply to participate in Communities in Doom, versus Communities in Bloom," suggests Kia.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Bureaucrats' New Fire Hydrant Rules for Private Hydrant Owners

Greater Vernon Water bureaucrats have been chastised for exorbitant annual taxes on private fire least the ones that were actually billed.

So--in typical fashion--bureaucrats produced, literally, scads of pages in several reports for the Advisory Planning Committee to mull over.  They begin on page 38 here.   And all the verbage concerning backflow prevention devices to protect the public water system, colour-coding hydrants re flows, etc. and that only their Operators may use fire hydrants (other than the Fire Service), etc. 

Yadda yadda, they go on and on.

If a picture says a thousand words, here are two thousand words showing public hydrants in use:

PASS!  March 20.  Coldstream, with meter box and backflow prevention.  Colour coding for flows?  

FAIL!  Vernon, March 23.  An empty white bucket instead of a backflow prevention device/meter box. (photo submitted)

"Maybe Vernon didn't get GVW's memo," offers Kia.

GVW was too busy nailing private fire hydrant owners.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ordinary People Take a Stand

Thank goodness for grassroots groups.
Especially when bureaucrats and a majority of politicians within an entrenched system resist public will.
Stubbornly resist.

Tomorrow, March 23rd, 2015, at 1:30 pm will see a presentation to Vernon City Council, followed by a 6 pm presentation at Coldstream Municipal Hall's council chambers.

"Current domestic, commercial, agricultural and recreational water bills are unsustainable, a disincentive to new business locating in our region, and are creating a problem for the entire water user base." T.Mooney

Both meetings are open to the public.
So...for everyone who has expressed frustration and concern about the path that Greater Vernon Water is taking despite the failed $70 million referendum this Fall...go listen to the presentations.

See whether YOUR elected official supports your views.
Hold your politician to account.
Especially since the majority of politicians said they would vote "NO" to the borrowing referendum.

Listen for constructive solutions to the ever-widening chasm between residents and the water bureaucrats who refuse to even consider revisiting the plan.

Citizens for Change to the Master Water Plan are doing this on behalf of North Okanagan residents who have seen outrageous increases to water invoices since the original Master Water Plan was shelved.
The group will present an alternative to the MWP.

And an alternative is demanded by residents who pay three times what Kelowna residents pay.

CCMWP's chair, Terry Mooney says there's a need to revisit the direction of the Master Water Plan because officials continue to have faith in Duteau Creek as the chief source for drinking water in the region.  

The Morning Star newspaper today printed:  "This results in the continuation of providing filtered and chlorinated water for agricultural activity and while we use this water for fields and crops, the cost of drinking water escalates."

"We will recommend reverting the Duteau Creek water supply to agriculture as was the original intent.  Our recommendation will be to evaluate the use of both Okanagan and Kalamalka Lakes as the primary source for drinking water for the region," offered Terry Mooney.

The newspaper continues:  "Current domestic, commercial, agricultural and recreational water bills are unsustainable, a disincentive to new business locating in our region, and are creating a problem for the entire water user base."

"Perhaps Guide Dogs are permitted into tomorrow's meetings?" asks Kia.

Bill Luchak and Morris Alger Oppose GVW's Path

Two water issue Letters to the Editor in today's Morning Star, reprinted verbatim here.

"Water woes must be addressed", by Bill Luchak

"Since moving back to Vernon in 2005 (born and raised here in the '50s), we were quite disappointed with how behind we are with our water utility.

Both the potable water and the irrigation systems should have been separated years ago.  I blame in part the past mayors and councils for ignoring this vital asset, along with the powers in today's councils.  It seems each term in office has shrugged it off to the next council, and so it goes.

We cannot afford every upgrade at the cost of $70 million.  But we should look at what should be done first at a reasonable cost.

First and foremost, separate potable from irrigation.  Prior councils should be commended for their insight on using effluent irrigation, but be given a failing grade on the upgrade to a downtown sewage plant.  Shame on you.

After line separation, one can effectively install and afford sand and charcoal filters for potable water.  The water turbidity should be 0.1 to 0.5 parts per million micros, total dissolved solids instead of 1.0 as a limit.  Never mind the organic compound.  A reading of 1.0 is too high of a turbidity for the chlorine to sufficiently kill all the bacteria.  Hence, water alerts.

Build settling ponds with a weir system before the water reaches the utility plant.  The ponds would be large enough to give a 24-hour retention time to effectively treat the water.  Alum would then have sufficient time to drop out the suspended matter.

Perhaps the folks in Lumby, Lavington and Coldstream could draw on Duteau Creek water only.  Also, stop the contaminated run-off entering Kalamalka Lake.

Extend the Kal Lake water intake further out by 500 metres.

Large lines are installed similar to this in industry every day.  We are currently short circuiting our flows.

In order for the utility to become a viable operation, we seriously need to look at expanding our infrastructure, to encompass a good part of the North Okanagan.  This can only be done through local and provincial politicians.

This would mean incorporating outlying areas under the Vernon umbrella (yes, I mean amalgamation).  The higher the customer base/revenue, the more affordable this will become.

We are past the age of kingdoms and fiefdoms.

Some will fear losing their crowns.  A ward system would replace this and give all of the Regional District of North Okanagan folks an equal say.  A council member or two from each surrounding area, under one mayor, for a stronger voice in Victoria."

"Water Plan", by Morris Alger

"When I voted in the referendum against borrowing money, of course I was also voting against the master water plan.

Treated water should not be used for farm irrigation or golf course purposes.  Duteau Creek sounds like a lost cause.  I paid double in 2014 for the same amount of water I used in 2009.  There is something wrong with this picture.

I propose enlisting Kelowna's Interior Health Authority to oversee our water plan.

We don't hear water complaints from Kelowna, do we?"

"Bill and Morris for water board directors..." suggests Kia.

"Grandfathering" ... Only When It Suits RDNO

The RDNO picks and chooses where--and to what--they apply the common term "grandfathering".
It's actually more accurate to state that they shy away from even using the term.
More importantly, when to comply.

Wiki describes the grandfathering clause as:  "a provision in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations while a new rule will apply to all future cases."

That's easy enough to understand.

Yet when applied to how the North Okanagan Regional District views "firm rules regarding gravel pits in rural areas", they pick and choose whether they will or won't comply with the principle. 

According to the Morning Star today, "the regional district...has adopted a soil removal and deposit bylaw for BX-Swan Lake ("B" area) and BX-Silver Star ("C" area) doesn't prohibit but it regulates soil removal and deposits." 

But "the bylaw doesn't apply to existing operations," the article concludes, "and the impact of gravel pits--particularly with noise, dust and hours of operation," is mute.

In a maneuvre now increasingly common at the Regional District, existing (grandfathered) operations are ignored when it comes to the water category "Commercial Non-Potable Irrigation".  Seems it doesn't suit Greater Vernon Water at the Regional District to comply with their own bylaw's rules.

The six businesses that use large quantities of (supposedly non-potable--but unchlorinated isn't available) water are Atlantis Waterslides, Art Knapp's Nursery, Swan Lake Nursery, Hillview Golf, and Highlands Golf, as well as Tekmar Industries on Silver Star Road.
(Coldstream Corner article here).

By 2019--with the total elimination of the grandfathered category of Commercial Non-Potable Irrigation--we six businesses will not receive non-potable irrigation water (as we had been promised 10 to 15 years ago).  More importantly, we won't receive the rate of that category.

In an-about face that threatens the viability of the six businesses (one has already closed...Art Knapp Nursery, and Hillview Golf is apparently drilling a well), bureaucrats at Greater Vernon Water have coerced the Advisory Committee and Board members that we remaining businesses will be subject to a phase-in period and then lumped into the catch-all category of Non-Domestic and Mixed Use by 2019.  (see item 6. i page 14 of 48 here.)

Draft 2015 Water Rates/Bylaw are here...

"The only constant among bureaucrats is change," sighs Kia.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Press Worthy?

North Okanagan politicians--and bureaucrats--won't have to concern themselves with rampant population growth in the North Okanagan, and can toss out the Growth Management Strategy.

Not when prospective future residents learn that we pay three times the water rate of Kelowna residents.

You'd think there would be more press coverage.

Found an image that accurately portrays the failed November borrowing referendum for $70million conducted by Greater Vernon Water.

"Aha, thank you, Mr. Churchill," offers Kia.

Strategy succinctly deployed.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Some Communities Care About Water "Affordability"

Pemberton BC for one.

Their 33-page Water Rate Study Report in 2008, conducted by consultants Earth Tech,  referred to the need for "full costs" (Study quotations) to eventually be funded by water rates.   But a refreshing proviso was included:  "this will need to be balanced with considerations of affordability and practicality for residents."

And they discuss other areas' decisions:  In Surrey, for example, Agricultural water users are not distinguished from other ICI (Institutional, Commercial, Industry) and charges are based on meter size.or size of connection.

Kelowna has a flat fixed charge per hectare based on B.C. Assessment farm designation.

Salmon Arm uses property taxes from Agricultural and others to raise all water funds.

The District of Saanich, where full metering exists, charges agricultural users 25 per cent of the volumetric rate charged to residential customers.  A fixed charge based on meter size also applies.

Here's a question that no community water system's bureaucrats (including GVW) have posed, let alone attempted to answer, so let's ask it now.

Why is Institutional lumped in with the
Commercial and Industrial water category?

Institutional is government-funded residential care homes, hospitals, universities and schools, agencies (such as People Place in Vernon), and many other such facilities. 

"We are sure getting sliced into countless little pieces," affirms Kia, "especially when we have to pay taxpayer-funded Institutions' water bills too (added to paying to construct them in the first place)."



Wednesday, March 18, 2015

This Rose's Name is Pollock

"When we do give input, it's mostly to no avail," states Rose Pollock in a Letter to the Editor today.

Her case in point:

"The water referendum for $70 million was rejected, but the powers-that-be will not give it up.  Throwing more money in after bad?"

"Thank you, Rose Pollock," says Kia "for saying what residents think."

Officials Told Water Consultants "NO" to Okanagan Lake

Everything has history.

Did you know that natural settling clarifies/filters water?
Yup, and Mother Nature does that for free! 

When the public learns of the one folly (of telling water consultants "NO" to Okanagan Lake/Kal Lake for all domestic use), they'll be livid.

"...they (water consultants) all concluded that NOWA (now Duteau Creek) water was the least desirable for domestic use.  Kalamalka Lake, followed by Okanagan Lake, water was found to be much more desirable."

Yup, and pertinent excerpts from newspapers have the historical record to back it up.
With one or two exceptions, it wasn't elected officials who made the decisions!

It was chiefly bureaucrats/unelected people who told water consultants what to do.
Then water consultants were tasked with figuring out how to do it.

"The real villains are those whose dereliction of duties
led to this disastrous (water) situation."
  G. Kiss

So let's look at historical Letters to the Editor, beginning with this one 13 years ago, June 30, 2002:
(Bold/highlighting:  blog author).

Water Woes Reach the Boiling Point, by Gyula Kiss
Greater Vernon residents are being warned that the only way to avoid future boil water advisories is to buy into a multi-million dollar plan (Morning Star, June 5).

Are my eyes deceiving me?  Could this be for real?  
The boil water advisory involved 3,000 customers of NOWA (formerly VID).  The rest of the 40,000 customers who are getting their water from Kalamalka Lake were fine.  How come the solution for the 3,000 customers would be to change the source of water supply for everyone else at an exorbitant cost?  

The $100 million (and probably much more by the time it's completed) plan involves the filtering and disinfecting and distributing of NOWA water to all Greater Vernon customers.  My question is:  Would it not be cheaper to disinfect, if necessary, and distribute Kalamalka or Okanagan Lake water to all domestic customers?  Disinfection will be either by ultra-violet irradiation or ozone treatment -- either of which would kill all micro-organisms including Giardia (beaver fever) and Criptosporidium.  No filtration would be necessary for the lake water as natural settling achieves that.  

In the 26 years I have lived in the Greater Vernon area, the only time I had trouble with the water occurred when the source was from NOWA.  Turbidity, sometimes odour, colour and micro-organisms were the main problems with the water.  Some years we also had water shortages when even agricultural users were put on rationing (many of us may remember the time Grizzly Swamp was drained, resulting in major fish kill and rationing).  I wonder how we could provide adequate water to our customers if we were to use NOWA sources.

Numerous earlier water studies have been commissioned for the North Okanagan and they all concluded that NOWA water was the least desirable for domestic use.  Kalamalka Lake, followed by Okanagan Lake, water was found to be much more desirable.

Compelling arguments may convince me (although not likely) that "bottled quality" (and close to bottle priced) water may be the best for my lawn, toilets, dishwasher, etc.  It would be a lot more difficult to convince me that NOWA water is the best to treat for domestic use.

Politicians seem to think that we all have bottomless pockets.  Having just spent $25 million on the Multiplex and the Performing Arts Centre, and another million on the new Coldstream Municipal Hall, I am in no mood to spend $100 million on a new water treatment plant when it appears that better alternatives are available.  Perhaps local politicians' priorities have been skewed all along.
G. Kiss

Want more historical proof of the water authority's idiocy?
The next 18 pages are valuable correspondence and Letters to the Editor, all provided  here.  

Then this second set of links provide yet more compelling comments, some from the public, in particular, see "Four Reasons to Say No" by Tom Skinner, Letter to the Editor dated May 12, 2004.

"Otherwise what would the $70 million have been for?" quips Kia.

Indeed, what was the $70 million for? 

Time to change the roster at the camp?

The grassroots group "Citizens for Change to the Master Water Plan" was recently formed to remind officials at Greater Vernon Water that the public said NO to the six projects of the Master Water Plan when they voted overwhelmingly against borrowing the $70 million for the Plan.

Greater Vernon Water bureaucrats, via their mouthpiece, director Mike Macnabb, don't see it that way.

"That's ludicrous," says Kia.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Unintended Consequences

Governments generally don't get it (obviously) from the point of view of the taxpayer.

Simply put, municipal and regional and city councils decide how much property tax (revenue) they want, and work backwards through their various tax classifications to determine mill rates.

Whether it was a result of the regional district's "growth management plan", or simply (what most acreage owners believe) because residential folks wanted their Coldstream Valley views to always remain the same is, frankly, immaterial.  Whether the council-of-the-day's "support for agriculture" convinced them that too many small--hence unprofitable--acreages would result from continued subdivision  is, frankly, immaterial.  Whether continued subdivision of acreages--some of which had been held in families' investment plans for two generations--would place "too much infrastructure demand" on the community--is, frankly, immaterial.

Growth has stalled in the North Okanagan.
Economic development officers shake their heads.
So the lack of growth obviously wasn't from a lack of economic development officers on the payroll!

Despite recent newspaper stories that the North Okanagan wasn't seeing the expected population growth forecasted, in Coldstream's case it was Coldstream itself that stymied growth in East Coldstream and Lavington with their RU10/RU30 plan!   That plan would limit subdivision of properties to a minimum of 25 acres in the proposed RU10 zone, and a minimum of 75 acres in the proposed RU30 zone.  (RU10 was deleted from the re-re-revised Agriculture Plan's adoption, in part a result of the hue and cry raised by the Coldstream Acreage Owners' Association).

Even the newspaper posed this in their Question of the Day: 

Are municipalities' economic and social policies to blame for stalled population growth in the North Okanagan?  Morning Star

They sure as hell are.
But some municipalities (unlike Coldstream) manage to avoid that.   

At 12,000 residents, Lake Country is the fastest growing municipality in B.C., which makes sense.
The simple answer is because Lake Country is a 15-minute drive from Kelowna and its international airport.
But also because their emphasis on Business is front and center, even on their webpage.

Back to classes of property tax in B.C. 
3Supportive Housing
4Major Industry
5Light Industry
6Business Other
7Managed Forest Land
8Recreational Property, Non-profit Organization
9Farm Land

At Coldstream's council meeting held Monday, March 9th, 2015, Coldstream Ranch owner Keith Balcaen appealed to council, concerned with the tax multiplier for the Ranch.  And rightly so.   Pages 3 through 14 here provide both historical and current details.  Pages 5, 6, 7 and 8 are particularly interesting!

"...maybe we should start selling off ?"   Keith Balcaen

But in order to get any relief, Council needs to increase other classes' mill rates (because of the  "required revenue" thingy).

Added to that, Tolko recently repeated its appeal that the Major Industry class should be reduced from its current mill rate.

Lucky Keith.
Because the Coldstream Ranch has up to 130 land titles, all subdivided many many years ago before the reign of our "pragmatic socialist" mayor.  Even before he was born.  Wiki provides part of the history.
Harbour Publishing has a nice book on it, unfortunately it's out of stock.  And, despite the City of Vernon website including the grey canal in its public trail offerings, Mr. Balcaen has not (and apparently, won't) given permission for the section adjacent to his grazing lands (and north of Highlands Golf property) to open to the public.  Good for him.

And, as Keith Balcaen stated "...might have to start peeling off some of the 130 titles the ranch owns in order to be viable...we're a bigger entity, maybe we should start selling off?", printed the Morning Star in this article. 

So ... advice to Keith (his business acumen assures he doesn't need advice), but here's Kia's take on the subject (conveniently the same as mine):

"Sell the subdivided parcels...start at the gravel pit at Buchanan and Vimy Roads, because it's your business plan for which you are responsible, not Coldstream's," Kia offers.

Just think, Keith...that'd sure end the dust complaints from the gravel pit neighbours.

Just think, Keith...the benefit of land title registrations that precede this and previous councils.
Unintended consequences indeed!

"Hate bureaucracy and all the nonsense that comes with it. "
 Jack Welch, former Chair General Electric 

Friday, March 13, 2015

These Guys Know Their Stuff

B.C. Hydro crew today replaced two of the four old transmission line poles.  The other two old poles will be done next workday.  Photos, in no particular order:

"What a team those guys are," attests Kia.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Another Reminder for Macnabb

So, Director you still believe (as you've vehemently stated) that the $70 million borrowing referendum held last November did not refer to the Master Water Plan itself?  That it was only for whether to borrow the money?  And that the Master Water Plan remains intact?

A few excerpts from Greater Vernon Drowns Master Water Plan, from the November 15, 2014 issue of the Morning Star as a reminder, beginning with Rolke's introduction:

"Greater Vernon officials are uncertain about what will happen now that voters
have overwhelmingly shot down
the master water plan." 
The entire article is here:

The story concludes with Mike Macnabb saying:

"During the election, most Vernon and Coldstream candidates stated they would vote against borrowing, including those who had authorized
the master water plan and the borrowing bylaw.
I hold the politicians calling for its demise to account. It (plan) was used for political purposes." Mike Macnabb

Macnabb fools no-one but himself.

Referring to our March 5th, 2015, blog story "The Macnabb Water Authority", where Macnabb stated: 

"We have a water utility to operate;
we have a Master Water Plan”  Mike Macnabb

"Apparently Macnabb's looking for a communicator," says Kia.

Tough job description if Macnabb writes it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Water Referendum Results

Sure, the water referendum was held back in November.
But it appears that directors Macnabb and Fleming need a reminder how their residents voted during November's water referendum.

Electoral Areas "B" and "C"                YES   198              NO   417

City of Vernon                                    YES 3134              NO 5869

District of Coldstream                         YES   667              NO 1632

Director Macnabb said the referendum defeat doesn't affect the Master Water Plan...that the plan remains intact.
But the question should be asked: 

  "If the $70 million wasn't for the six projects of the Master Water Plan, what was GVW going to use the $70 million for?"

The Turbidity issue:
And, as of yesterday March 10th, 2015, turbidity improvements at Kal Lake equates to Mission Hill Water Treatment Plant customers being back online after the source switch to Duteau Creek on February 24th, 2015.

Kelowna's turbidity numbers are provided on their webpage.
The North Okanagan's two sources--Duteau Creek and Kalamalka Lake--are on the Regional District website here

The press release advising that customers are returning to the Kalamalka Lake source is here.

Today's news story has the Okanagan Basin Water Board "extending appreciation" to the Greater Vernon Water authority for transferring customers to the Duteau Creek source while they completed their milfoil harvesting.  More likely that GVW is appreciative of the Board's aiding and abetting!

"That's the benefit of GVW having two water sources and a good management plan," postulates OBWB's James Littley.

"Yup, the benefit of two scheming bureaucracies," sneers Kia.

Working together to cover both butts.

"Thank goodness for Milfoil," was heard through one door.

So...what does Kelowna do in a "turbidity emergency" to prevent issuing Boil Water Advisories?

"They don't spend money circling the wagons," states Kia.

At  three times  the water rate that Kelowna residents pay, Greater Vernon Water customers just bought a new wagon.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Talking to Themselves

Sunday's Morning Star article entitled "RDNO looks at communications" quoted BX-Silver Star director Mike Macnabb saying "There are many issues the news media would like comment on...comments go out but they're not necessarily unified or solidifed or even appropriate."

The media?  Forget the media.
There's a pantload of questions the public would like answers to.
Beginning with:

Why do residents on the GVW utility pay twice what Kelowna residents pay for water?


An answer is demanded by the public.

Even if it's divided, splintered or inappropriate.

"We want a clear message," says Macnabb.

"So does the public, minus the smoke and mirrors," suggests Kia.

Pity the communications manager that RDNO hires...despite the humongous salary they'll offer.

Truth is easy.
The prerequisite for lies is a thick coating of smoke, aided by mirrors.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Macnabb Water Authority

Never mind that he’s only one director at Greater Vernon Water. 
The North Okanagan world revolves around the Macnabb Principle!

At least that's the way it a one-man show.

Of course, regional district bureaucrats are thrilled that Macnabb—the director they appointed to head their own water committee—conveyed their thoughts verbatim.

“We have a water utility to operate; we have a Master Water Plan” he stated petulantly during today’s Greater Vernon Advisory Committee meeting at North Okanagan Regional District.

Barely containing his irritation that there had been a Motion and Second (Spiers and Kiss) for a moratorium on the six projects contained in the Master Water plan—until further discussion could evaluate perhaps more prudent options—he stated that the $70 million referendum was only to borrow the money…nothing else (referring to the craftily-worded referendum question). 
One reason for the motion was because one of the plan’s projects—Raising Aberdeen Dam $6.4 million—was scheduled for 2022 during the Master Water Plan's "communication" with the public scarcely four months ago.  Yet plans are apparently underway to move that project to this—or next—year. 
The consensus of the grassroots Citizens for Change to the Master Water Plan is that the public denied the referendum because the public denies the water utility the six projects of the Master Water Plan – indeed the plan itself.

Will the public raise a hue and cry when they learn of Macnabb's refusal to consider other directors' points of view?

Macnabb's water authority still isn't happy with only a 2 per cent increase in rates this year.  He had wanted a minimum of 4 per cent, but would have loved 10 per cent.  This despite there being $15 million dollars in "reserves".

Source: Coldstream Councillor G. Kiss

Nobody seems to care that the North Okanagan still pays double what residents of Kelowna pay.
Least of all director Macnabb...his residence gets water from a well.
Not all his constituents are on a well.  Wonder if they think he is representing their opinion.

"He's a disrespectful bully," offers Kia, "treating his peers with disdain."

You got that right.

Free window stickers...make your own

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

You Voted "No" in the Water Referendum

But don't leave it at that.
Or everything could fizzle, with same ole' same ole' rearing its ugly head soon.

Attend the North Okanagan Regional District this Thursday -- March 5th -- at 8 a.m.
(yes, it's early) but it's important.

Yes, it's important for you to see your elected politician--and how they vote--in a request for a moratorium on all spending by RDNO on the six water projects from the failed referendum.

The grassroots group "Citizens for Change to the Master Water Plan" agree with the way you voted when you said no to spending $70 million. 

They've committed to helping you.

Will Greater Vernon Advisory Committee members accept the Motion on a moratorium?
Listen to their discussion if the Motion is accepted.
And blame them if the Motion for a moratorium fails.
Because it means they've waffled and deferred to the bureaucrats...again.

Go see whether you should have voted "no"
when your politician was wanting your vote.

"Just be there, and bring a neighbour," barks Kia.

Consider it a Performance Appraisal of your politician...

Kissing Business Good-Bye ... 22.5% Water Increase

And the revenue they contributed to coffers.
Some of them for 40 years.

Obviously bureaucrats and many unelected officials on "appointed committees" have never heard of Economic Value Added.
Their actions prove it.

The water authority has taken a run at us before...regularly in fact since the first run in 2005.

One of the more noteworthy runs at six commercial businesses that--because of the nature of the businesses using a large volume of water outdoors--was for a 50 per cent rate increase, "learned" in May, 2013.

The six businesses that use large quantities of (supposedly non-potable--but unchlorinated isn't available) water are Atlantis Waterslides, Art Knapp's Nursery, Swan Lake Nursery, Hillview Golf, and Highlands Golf, as well as Tekmar Industries on Silver Star Road.

As an Okanagan Basin Water Board official was recently reported saying:  "they should just suck it up and pay...they're business."

Obviously because we're all making gobs of money, as quasi-socialists believe.

Buoyed with support from yet another unelected group (OBWB), the Regional District bureaucrats with approval from the Greater Vernon board will by the year 2019 entirely eliminate the Non-Potable Commercial Irrigation category.  What had years ago been accurate classifications -- developed to reflect the various customers' water usage -- would by the year 2019 realize the vision of former disgraced Vernon mayor Sean Harvey when he banged his fist on the wooden RDNO boardroom table (I was present to witness that) and stated "Farms pay 6 cents, all others pay 70 cents" (per cubic metre of water). 

Now in 2015, the net result is that a 22.5% irrigation rate increase is slated for 2015 for we six businesses, which is 60 per cent of the catch-all category called Non Domestic and Mixed Use.

That's not all, either.

In 2016, our category will be increased yet again, to result in we six businesses being at 70% of the catch-all category.

In 2017, we'll be increased yet again, to be at 80%;
In 2018, at 90%;
By 2019, we will be at 100%. 

The question bureaucrats and unelected committee officials haven't asked is:
  Who among these businesses will still be in operation?

Who indeed...

Word has it that Hillview Golf Course--faced with a ~$10,000 increase in 2014 over their ~$33,000 irrigation invoice from 2013, will drill a well this spring for their irrigation source.  Their valley-bottom location and very high water table ensures they'll succeed in finding sufficient irrigation water.  And it won't be chlorinated...or filtered!

"That's $43,000 that won't be going into the water authority's coffers," states Kia, adding "this seesaw play of attrition will see companies fail which leads to everyone else having to make up the difference.  That's called 'economic value docked'."

Because bureaucrats NEVER reduce "required revenue" to match what's happening in real life.

North Okanagan water rates:
2015 Water Rates (draft), issued to GVAC meeting of March 5, 2015 for approval.
Note:  actual rate sheets begin on page 16, but you're encouraged to read pages 1 through 48. 
Note:  the Non-Domestic Mixed Use category hasn't previously existed.