Thursday, August 20, 2009

PG City Councillor Charged with violating the Privacy Act

From the "what was he thinking" department:

All the Prince George local media is reporting on Prince George City Councillor Brian Skakun being charged with violating the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

The story is here

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Committee of the Whole Meeting - August 18th

Committee of the Whole Proceedings

Present: All Members of WL Council

Staff Present: Alberto DeFeo (CAO), Brian Carruthers (GM of Community Services), Geoff Goodall (GM of Planning and Operations), Darcy Lazzarin (GM of Corporate Services), Cindy Bouchard (Corporate Services - Records Management Coordinator)

Meeting called to order at 6:30pm

Minutes from the COW Meeting of August 4th approved

Delegation - Council of Canadians (CoC)

The CoC presented information about the CoC and some of the things they were concerned about including:

1) Council support for Water Advisory Committee, Sustainability Committee and the Social Planning Council (For the record - only the Water Advisory Committee reports directly to Council, the Sustainability Committee reports directly to the Central Cariboo Joint Committee - the Joint Committee is made up of all 7 members of WL City Council + Directors' for CRD Areas D, E, F, J, K) and the Social Planning Council is a "community" Committee

2) Council support for Prosperity Mine and the information they used to evaluate their decision

3) Council's work to investigate a separate water source for industry - perhaps making it a higher priority

Also, the CoC presented Council members' with 8 Questions to be answered

The Delegation left at 7:30pm

Council received a report from the CAO re: Best Practices to City Operations. The CAO intends to bring forward 2 Reports (1 to Council and 1 to COW) over the next few weeks

Council received a report from the GM of Corporate Services regarding Interim Financial Statements for the period of Jan 1 - June 30. 2 Projects are over budget but the financial position of the City remains strong

Council received a report from the GM of Corporate Services regarding Budget Public Consultation Guidelines. Council directed Staff to include public consultation on initial budget requests in November in each year (I'll be blogging on this report and why I believe Council's decision on this is wrong)

Councillors' gave verbal updates on Portfolio Activities

Committee of the Whole adjourned to re-convene In-Camera, pursuant to Section 90(1a) of the Community Charter

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Arts and Culture Function and a Flawed Process

In today's Tribune, letter writer Brad McGuire, who's President of the local Studio Theatre Society takes aim at my letter of August 4th when I expressed serious concerns as a result of the press release of the Cariboo Regional District dated July 31st, 2009 entitled "Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Service Delivery Plan - Consultation Meeting Schedule and some of the statements contained therein

Some of Mr. McGuire's comments include:

* He is completely incorrect in his statement suggesting that Mrs. Walters was not in attendance at any arts and culture focused town hall meetings between 2007 and 2009, when, in fact, she was. - The CRD/City of WL hosts a Joint Town Hall meeting in February of each year to discuss the CRD's Budget and its' intention for local government programs in each year and not in 2007 to 2009 inclusive did I personally see Councillor Walters in Council Chambers, as a City resident, telling the CRD about its' budget and what she wants to see the CRD do as a local government for rural residents' in the future on Arts and Culture or any other subject

* It seems that Mr. Forseth just wants to be the devil’s advocate, putting a negative spin into every possible event or process in which any form of government is involved - I've never opposed any project that has gone through proper public consultation that meets the "smell" test and that is open, transparent and democratic. In this case, public consultation done in the summer and by a group who originally asked for the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Function does not meet the test I've laid - it is neither transparent, open and democratic

I understand that the local Arts and Culture community does not like or agree with my position on the newly established Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Function but I have no intention of backing down on this subject or any other project in which Public Consultation, in whatever form it takes, is neither open, transparent or democratic. That is the minimum I require for Public Consultation to be accepted prior to having a tax in place or a project to proceed to completion

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Steve Rant - Calling of In-Camera Meetings'

Last night, Committee of the Whole in Williams Lake had their usual meeting and then was required to meet In-Camera with no reason given. The Public Notice Posting Place, which is the bulletin board in the Foyer Area (1st Floor) at City Hall had no info posted on Council's intention to have a Closed Meeting. Although Council does have the power to have a meeting (Special/Closed) with no advance notice to the public, it does not meet with the principles of notifying the public at the most earliest opportunity possible (including during a meeting, the intention of Council to hold a closed meeting later and for what purposes)

Having a Closed Meeting can only be done for 3 primary reasons:

1) Labour
2) Land
3) Law

I hope that this Council ensures in the future that it announces, whether beforehand or at a meeting (if it intends to move to a closed meeting immediately following a open/public meeting) its' intention to move to a closed meeting and state the purposes of the meeting. Not doing so is contrary to democratic principles.

WL Committee of the Whole Meeting - August 4th


Mayor Cook and Councillors SPS Rathor, L. Walters, N. Montoya, G. Bourdon


Councillors T. C. Barr and S. J. Zacharias

Meeting called to order at 6:30pm

New Animal Control Bylaw

Discussion on this item resolved around breed-specific language and dangerous dog language. The Committee agreed that it wasn't interested in including breed-specific language in this Bylaw. Accordingly, the Committee directed Staff to strip the breed-specific language out of the Bylaw and asked Staff to have the Bylaw ready for three (3) readings at its' next Council meeting on August 11th

Meetings with Provincial Cabinet Ministers' at UBCM

The Committee discussed a prioritized list of potential meetings with Cabinet Ministers' at UBCM next month. The top 3 meetings, as designated by Council, are:

1) Solicitor-General Kash Heed around crime/police issues

2) Municipal Taxation Issues with both the Finance/Community & Rural Development Ministers' Hansen and Bennett

3) Transportation Issues in Williams Lake - Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Shirley Bond

OCP Review Process

The Committee received an update on the OCP Update Process including the playing of a video from the City Planner (Ms. L. Dragowska). The video and the information gather to date will be released for the public's information. Check it out at either or

Curb Cut Bill Dispute

The Committee received a verbal report from Deputy Mayor (Councillor) Rathor and written report from Staff on this file. The Committee was concerned about the amount charged after the 1st written estimate and the amount of time elapsed for the applicants' 2nd bill on the curb cut job. Councillor Rathor recommended that the applicants' 2nd bill be reduced by 50%, due to the City's mistakes' on this file. Councillor Walters/Montoya did not agree with that, but instead suggested that a 25% reduction was more appropriate. The Committee agreed, with Councillors' N. L. Montoya and L. Walters opposed, to reduce the applicants' bill by 50% from $587.47 to $293.74

Kitchen Equipment at Cariboo Lodge

The Committee agreed to a set of established criteria allowing for non-profit to acquire the kitchen equipment at Cariboo Lodge

Community Garden at Cariboo Lodge

The Committee agreed to allow a demonstration community garden at Cariboo Lodge

The meeting adjourned at 8:05pm with the Committee to resume In-Camera

Next Committee of the Whole Meeting --> August 18th, 2009 at 6:30pm

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Update - Kluskus First Nation State of Emergency

From the Cariboo Regional District -

Yesterday, a State of Emergency was declared for the Lhoosk’uz Dene Nation also known as the Kluskus First Nation. The Evacuation Order remains in effect for Kluskus Reserve #1 as a result of the wildfire.

An Emergency Social Services (ESS) Reception Centre, for affected residents was set up in the North Cariboo Recreation Centre, 500 North Star Road in Quesnel, BC. A total of 51 evacuees have been registered and received the help required in this type of situation. The Reception Centre has now closed. However, ESS volunteers will be on standby throughout this fire event.

Alexis Creek Evacuation Order Lifted

Williams Lake Tribune is reporting on their website ( that the Evacuation Order for the Alexis Creek area, due to a wildfire burning nearby, was lifted at 11:00am this morning. The wildfire at Eagle Lake that forced the evacuations at Alexis Creek is now 100% contained

Update: From Cariboo Regional District

People living in or travelling through the affected areas should use caution as some hazards, such as dangerous trees or hot spots, may still exist. Please be aware that fire fighters will still be working in the area and access will still be monitored by RCMP until evacuees have returned home. The State of Emergency remains in effect and Highway 20 west of Anahim Lake remains closed until further notice due to the fire nearby at Bella Coola

Monday, August 3, 2009

New Provincial Political Party

Rumblings afoot about a new provincial political party that could defeat the BC Liberals' from the Globe and Mail last Monday by Justine Hunter

Frustrated by the performance of B.C.'s New Democratic Party, Vision Vancouver strategists are looking at turning their landslide civic electoral success into a centrist provincial party that can beat the B.C. Liberals.
The concept of a Vision B.C. party, still in its infancy, has been rumbling through political backrooms since the spring election consigned the NDP to the opposition benches – for the third time in a row.
By contrast, the fledgling Vision Vancouver swelled to one of the largest civic parties in Canada last November when former NDP MLA Gregor Robertson swept into the mayor's office with a centrist platform.
“I'm aware of the rumblings of ‘Is it time for a Vision B.C.?' ” said NDP MLA Bob Simpson. It is born, he said, out of questions about whether the NDP can be fixed: “One of the questions everyone legitimately has is, can you revamp and rebrand the NDP?”
In Vancouver, the traditional slates of left and right were largely discarded in last November's civic election. Mr. Simpson said both of the province's mainstream parties are threatened by the notion of a “third way” party.
Once the provincial election ballots were counted on May 12, the Liberals and the NDP found themselves deadlocked in their share of popular support – the results were virtually identical to the 2005 election.
Another key catalyst for the creation of a new party was that both mainstream parties lost voters by the tens of thousands as the province marked record-low voter turnout.
“I think all of us, every MLA in both parties, need to think hard and adjust, or we make ourselves vulnerable to a third party coming up the middle, capturing that disenfranchised vote,” Mr. Simpson said. “And they get government and we get the backbench.”
In the wake of the election, NDP Leader Carole James vowed to stay on as leader to reshape the party and reach out to disaffected voters.
Marcella Munro, an activist and former executive with Vision Vancouver, and a former communications strategist for the NDP, said the New Democrats could learn something from the civic party's success.
“There is room in this province for a voice that says the balance has tipped too far toward what's good for private enterprise, but we don't want to go back to just what's best for the unions,” she said.
Ms. Munro said the lesson from Vision Vancouver's success was that the voting public is looking for another option.
“It's about having a positive agenda. And I am not hearing it from the NDP.”
She said Ms. James has done little to reach out and learn from the success of the civic team, but that she and other Vision activists will go to the NDP's convention in November to see if they can “inject some of that Vision energy” into the party anyway.
The convention is not a leadership review, but it will be a chance to change the party's look. The NDP will elect a new party president and make other key executive appointments.
If that Vision effort doesn't take, she said, a third party will start to look more viable.
Senator Larry Campbell, the former Vancouver mayor who laid the foundation for Vision Vancouver, said talk of a provincial offshoot of the party is premature.
“I see, eventually, a central party in B.C.,” he said. “But you have to wait and see what happens at the next leadership convention for the Liberal Party of B.C.”
Gordon Campbell has not signalled he is stepping down after winning his third term as premier, but the senator – and he is not alone – suspects the Liberal leader will make way for a successor after the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
The B.C. Liberal party is founded on a coalition of federal Liberals and Conservatives. If the Premier makes way for a new leader who can't hold federal Liberals in the tent, the senator said, B.C. could be ripe for a repeat of 1991, when a revived B.C. Liberal party, led by Gordon Wilson, came out of nowhere and almost formed government. (The party would eventually be taken over by Gordon Campbell, absorbing the old Social Credit party and B.C. Reform.)
“You may find yourself in a Gordon Wilson moment, where you go from nothing to 17 seats,” Senator Campbell said. “That's not that far off.”

State of Emergency - Kluskus First Nation

A State of Emergency has been declared for the Lhoosk’uz Dene Nation also known as the Kluskus First Nation. An Evacuation Order has also been issued for Kluskus Reserve #1 as a result of the wildfire.

An Emergency Social Services Reception Centre for affected residents will be set up in the North Cariboo Recreation Centre, 500 North Star Road in Quesnel, BC.

Approximately 40 to 50 residents of the Reserve will be affected by this evacuation. These residents are asked to report into the centre where trained ESS members will be available to help.

For up to date fire information, please contact the Cariboo Fire Centre at 250-989-2628. For more information regarding evacuations, please contact the Cariboo Regional District at 250-392-4283

Update #2 - State of Emergency at Alexis Creek

The State of Emergency declared by the Cariboo Regional District for the Alexis Creek area on Sunday, August 2nd, 2009 is still in effect and Highway 20 is still closed and access to Highway 20 beyond Alexis Creek is still subject to RCMP approval. No structural damage has been reported at this time

As of 4:30pm, Monday, August 3rd - 21 families totalling 49 people have registered with the local ESS (Emergency Social Services) Registration Center in Williams Lake where trained ESS Members are there to assist with evacuees, as they come in

More information will be provided, as it comes in from the Cariboo Regional District

My thanks to Shelly Burich (CRD Manager of Communcations) to keep me up to date on the situation out at the Alexis Creek area

Update: State of Emergency at Alexis Creek

Yesterday, the Cariboo Regional District declared a State of Emergency for Alexis Creek, due to a wildfire nearby. As of 8:45am this morning, 34 evacuees have registered at the ESS (Emergency Social Services) Reception Center that was established in Williams Lake Sunday evening. No structural damage has been reported in the Alexis Creek area

Highway 20 at Alexis Creek is now closed and will remain so until further notice. Those requiring access to Highway 20, west of Alexis Creek may be piloted through, subject to RCMP approval. No access to Alexis Creek itself is being permitted, at this time

Sunday, August 2, 2009

State of Emergency Declared at Alexis Creek Area

The Cariboo Regional District has declared a State of Emergency for the Alexis Creek area near Eagle Lake, due to a wildfire and has activated its' Level 2 Emergency Operations Center in Williams Lake at the CRD Office.

Local residents who are affected by the wildfire in the Alexis Creek area are requested to report to the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex at 525 Proctor Street in Williams Lake where a Emergency Social Services Reception Center has been established for the Alexis Creek area residents'.