Saturday, June 24, 2017

The "Person Interviewed"?

Before reading this blog story...get a load of the Mayor's comment taken from the 2016 District of Coldstream Annual Report:  "...Coldstream representatives at the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) have been reassessing the Greater Vernon Master Water Plan and water rates..." (underline by blog author).  page 7 of 66 here.

Okay, read on...

The "person interviewed?"
...why not say who it was?
We'll say was Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick.

The mayor just happens to also be a years-long member of the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee--the group of elected officials who routinely accede to Greater Vernon Water bureaucrats' demands for water rate increases.

"...the board of directors
 are not held accountable,
 could care less
 and seem oblivious
                 to the world around them."  Bob Johnston

So it wasn't like the Mayor didn't know!
Know what?

Let's let Bob Johnston's letter to the editor, published in the Morning Star on June 23rd, 2017, explain it:

"Water Woes:
Have you been contacted by one of those annoying not-for-profit organizations that promise the world, yet seems to fall flat when the time comes for action?  So, if you were dumb enough to donate to such a nefarious organization and felt duped, did you ever delve into their background and discover the donations disappeared into a giant, black hole?  Sadly, the board of directors are not held accountable, could care less and seem oblivious to the world around them.

It turns out while reading the Morning Star the other day where a certain business had to close because it was forced by a large increase to their water rates, we have our own version.  

The water board/authority is trying to emulate the not-for-profit status mentioned earlier.  Ever try to find out where the money goes?  It is virtually impossible.  Ever try to find if anyone cares?  Virtually impossible!

Ever wonder why every year the rates go up even though how much water is or isn't in the system doesn't seem to make a difference?  By the way, wasn't that a nice touch when the person interviewed was shocked the rates had doubled in five years?

I guess there's no point in beating a dead horse."
               Bob Johnston

...Giant, black hole.
Good description!

Giving money and power to  
government is like giving whiskey  
and car keys to teenage boys.  
-- P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian 

See:  Addendum to Mayor's Dumb Comment, June 10 blog story, and
         Mayor's Dumb Comment, June 4 blog story here

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Addendum to "Mayor's Dumb Comment"

As is customary--and sincerely appreciated by residents--Gyula Kiss has some comments that follow the newspaper story, entitled Mayor's Dumb Comment, on a dry cleaner's permanent closure because of the area's ridiculously-high water rates.

Here's Gyula Kiss' "take" on it:

Surprisingly, nobody seems to know the reasons for the high price of water. Those in charge are not interested in my opinion but I might be able to shed some light on the reasons for the high cost of water. Here are some of the reasons:

1.     Wasted too much money on altering the recently improved VID system. It needed no changes. Wasted infrastructure cost about $40-45 million.

2.     Overestimated water demand and sized the capacity of the MWP accordingly, significantly increasing costs.

3.     Procrastinated with the MWP. 15 years passed since the original plan was announced in 2002 and it is still not finalized.

4.     Doubled the 2004 Referendum approved borrowing by collecting cash over and above the approved $35 million during the past 12 years.

5.     Ignoring the results of the 2014 Referendum and continuing to collect direct cash from customers in order to avoid going back to ratepayers for their approval.

Those are some of the reasons for the high water rates. Keep watching: those rates will continue escalating and reaching to the stars. 

In contrast, Kelowna is going to solve their identical problem by removing domestic customers for the South East Kelowna Irrigation District (SEKID) irrigation lines and extending Kelowna's domestic water supply from Okanagan Lake to the current SEKID domestic customers. Total estimated cost: $64 million. Learn more about Kelowna's plan here.

GVWU's estimated cost: over $200 million. Wasted time over 15 years. 

More wasted money: continue treating water for agricultural irrigation estimated to be $1-2 million annually. You, the domestic customer foot the bill. The agriculture community does not need treated irrigation water.

Could it be improved? I say yes. Staff say no. An independent reviewer is needed to review the plan and possible alternatives. Kelowna will do it's plan for less than a third of the cost and no wasted water on agricultural irrigation.

Just my opinion now!"

And Gyula just did!
Thank you, sir! 

Rail Trail's "Bad Inhabitant"

Speaking to a golfer this morning, I learned that the new Rail Trail is "loaded with poison ivy, and it's creeping in from the sides now that the railway company isn't controlling it".

He didn't have any photos of it on his phone, but here are some from the internet (click on photos to enlarge):

There are apparently up to 10 natural remedies for Poison Ivy exposure/rash.

This website should be bookmarked by people who walk or bike the Rail Trail.

And how about your four-legged hiking companion?  See this website to learn of symptoms your dog may exhibit, i.e. an itchy rash.

"There's a need for some photo/sign warnings on the Rail Trail," Kia would've said.

The new-to-the Okanagan golfer added another comment..."back east, we witnessed areas that were expropriated to provide 'rail trails', and then years later, politicians realized light transit would've served the highest purpose.  Trails were converted back to commuter rail huge cost."

He said that politicians here will learn that too.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Mayor's Dumb Comment

"It seems like a considerable change -- a doubling (of the cost of water)," said Coldstream mayor and GVAC member Jim Garlick.

A considerable change?
Ya think?

"...water prices are rising astronomically.
  The average quarterly bill was about $1,500
 when the business opened five years ago it's about $3,000."
Michael Parent, Sunshine Laundry Express owner

Maybe as a GVAC member, Garlick's been asleep during GVAC's annual water rate setting meetings.
Whatever it is, like a typical politician with tunnel vision, he's simply blind to the political inefficiencies that exist in the North Okanagan...and the problems they themselves create.

At issue is the Morning Star's story today, headed "Laundromat Drowns" which indicated Sunshine Laundry Express closed its doors Thursday...permanently.  The owner stated "...water prices are rising astronomically.  The average quarterly bill was about $1,500 when the business opened five years ago and it's now about $3,000."

Think back to the KPMG-recommended governance review from years ago...which was summarily rejected by all the local politicians.  It recommended consolidating the various governments into one--or two.  That in itself would've provided a ton less of administrative and bureaucratic costs.  Why?  Well, just think of the proximity and administration of Vernon City Hall, five minutes drive there's the Regional District of North Okanagan, five minutes from there is the new Municipal Hall at Coldstream.  And don't forget the MLA's office somewhere in the middle of all that government.  They--and their bevy of bureaucrats--cost a whack of money.  Year after year.

Today's editorial states, in part, "...increased water rates can't be avoided as Greater Vernon's utility needs to replacing(sic) aging infrastructure as well as meeting evolving water quality standards enacted by government agencies.  GVAC officials weren't aware of Parent's (laundromat owner) challenges but they insist they will investigate."

What the hell is there to investigate?
We have among the highest water rates in the Okanagan...and there's no indication those increases will stop.

The editorial concludes:  "...GVAC needs to always consider how utility rates impact all businesses and particularly high-use users of water, whether it's a laundry, car wash, brewery or golf course."

Ah...the voice of reason.
Unless, of course, those types of businesses are no longer welcome in the North Okanagan.
Many owners of those businesses suspect that's not far from being true!

Sleepy Garlick concludes:  "are there efficiencies we could help them out with?  Is there (efficient) equipment that could be used?"


Maybe there's a robot mayor available...

How about the sheer numbers of high-priced engineers running into one another at all these bureaucratic levels?
And all the consultants they hire to do their jobs...also high-priced engineers.

"Yeah, Garlick could help load the moving truck," Kia would've said, "as it heads south to a more business-friendly community."

Sorry to see you close, Sunshine Laundry!