Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Budget Meeting #2 - WL Council

Present: Mayor Cook (Chair) with Councillors I. Bonnell, G. Bourdon, D. Hughes, SPS Rathor, L. Walters and S. Zacharias

Staff Present:

Brian Carruthers - CAO
Geoff Goodall - GM of Planning and Operations
Pat Higgins - Director of Finance
Kevin Goldfuss - Director of Municipal Services
Geoff Paynton - Director of Community Services
Alan Madrigga - Manager of Economic Development
Ken MacInnis - Communications Coordinator
Tom Chung - IT Manager

Others Present:

Media (2) - Greg Fry (Rush/Wolf) & Monica Yorski-Lamb (WL Tribune)
Public - 6

Meeting called to order at 6:02pm


1) Fees and Charges

Motion by Councillor Zacharias, seconded by Councillor Bourdon:

That Council request a comprehensive review of City Fees/Charges including comparisons from similiar communities
                                                            CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

2) Gov't Transfers

A general discussion ensued thereon

Motion by Councillor Bonnell, seconded by Councillor Rathor

That Council review the Development Cost Reserve in 2012

                                                      Carried with Councillor Bourdon opposed

Motion by Councillor Zacharias, seconded by Councillor Bourdon:

That $400,000 policy be maintained in General Surplus Reserve & Staff be requested to create a "Capital Reserve" and Staff come forward with scenarios, based on discussions by Council

                                                                                CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

3) Utilities

Motion by Councillor Bourdon, seconded by Councillor Bonnell:

That Council review utilities rates  with Staff to report back to Council

                                                                                CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY


1) Debt

Motion by Councillor Bourdon, seconded by Councillor Walters:

That Staff be requested to bring forward "Debt Borrowing" Policy

                                                                  CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

2) Service Levels

Motion by Councillor Walters, seconded by Councillor Bourdon:

That current service levels be maintained

                                                                CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

3) Capital - Council had discussed this earlier in the evening

Legislative Budget:

Motion by Councillor Rathor, seconded by Councillor Bonnell:

That Council Renumeration (Pay) be maintained at current levels

The Chair calling the question, the above motion was approved by the following vote:

Affirmative - Mayor Cook & Councillors Bonnell, Hughes and Rathor (4)
Negative - Councillors Bourdon, Walters and Zacharias (3)

General discussion ensued thereon in the Legislative Budget....

Motion by Councillor Bourdon, seconded by Councillor Bonnell:

That this meeting now adjourn at 8:45pm

                                                 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

Editor's Note - Wednesday, I'll give my own take on this meeting including why Council should be ashamed as to how this meeting was conducted including skipping the "Public Input" portion of the meeting...

Quesnel Council Highlights - Jan 30th meeting

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel:

City to conduct pilot project

Council approved a pilot project to implement weight restrictions on commercial vehicles during break-up 2012. The
project would involve restricting gross vehicle axle weights to 70% of legal load during the same time frame used by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on Hydraulic Road. Restrictions would target residential streets only, not industrial or commercial routes.

New at the municipal landfill

Effective April 1, 2012, electrified fencing will be erected and maintained around the perimeter of the landfill such that wildlife are prevent from accessing waste. In accordance with the City’s Amended Operational Certificate issued by the Ministry of Environment, Council gave early approval to the expenditure of approximately $60,000. The fence is mandated by the Ministry of Environment directive.

Artist alert

Council received information from the Multi-Centre Fundraising Committee that a colouring contest for young artists is underway until February 17. Forms will be available at the Winter Carnival on February 4 and currently available at the following offices: Observer, Visitor Information Centre, City Hall, Arts and Recreation Centre and the Library.

Big step forward to sustainability

Quesnel is about to take a big step forward advancing their sustainability initiatives with the help of the QuickStart Integrated Community Sustainability Planning (ICSP). The program, offered by the Whistler Centre for Sustainability was supported by Council and will be submitting an expression of interest for additional innovation funding.

Calling City Hall home

City Council gave approval to renew a one-year license of occupation (expired November 30, 2011) for the Central Interior Kennel Club. They utilize the space in the basement of the City Hall building. This agreement will generate revenue of approximately $5,500 per year for the City.

Celebrating our volunteers

The 2011 Volunteer Citizen of the Year theme is “You’re worth your weight in gold”. Nomination applications will be published in the Observer on February 17. Nominations will close at 4:00 p.m. on March 16, 2012.

Other news

• Council received information on the fifth annual Child Care Awards of Excellence in which the Ministry of Children and Family Development is celebrating outstanding individuals, local governments, facilities and organizations delivering exceptional service to BC’s children and families. Deadline for nominations is March 5, 2012. For further information, click here


February 2012 - Heart Month in the City of Quesnel
Week of February 20, 2012 - Rotary Week in Quesnel

Important Dates

February 1st at 7:00pm - CRD Town Hall Meeting (Quesnel Council Chambers)
February 4th - Winter Carnival (West Fraser Timber Park)
March 7-8 - Northern Interior Aboriginal Health Conference (Quesnel & District Seniors’ Centre)
March 8 - West Quesnel Land Stability public meeting (Voyageur Elementary School)
April 17 - Volunteer Citizen of the Year Award Banquet (Royal Canadian Legion)

Future Meetings:

Next Budget 2012 Meeting:
Monday February 6 at 6 p.m

Next Regular Council Meeting:
Monday February 13 at 7 p.m.

Next North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee Meeting:
Tuesday February 14 at 5:30 p.m

Next Delegation/Committee of the Whole Meeting:
Monday March 5 at 7 p.m.

All above meetings in Quesnel Council Chambers - 2nd Floor, 410 Kinchant St.

WL/Kamloops News - Tuesday Jan 31st edition

In Williams Lake:

* Alkali Lk Chief Fred Robbins seeks cultural funding - see here
* Study into funds used by Anaham Band between 2004-2009 - see here
* EDITORIAL: Parents talk to your kids about drugs, like ecstasy - see here
* Letter writer says Victoria should fund public education only and not private schools - see here

Finally - don't forget that tonight - Williams Lake Council will be holding its' 2nd Budget Meeting at 6pm in Williams Lake Council Chambers with a Public Comment Period following consideration of all business.

Also - at 7pm in the School District Boardroom - the Board of Education for School District #27 will be holding its' regular meeting.  The Agenda for tonight's meeting can be found here

Meanwhile in Kamloops:

The local Kamloops Voters Society and Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar clash over holding "strategic planning sessions" In-Camera - see here

Meanwhile - Kamloops Councillor Marg Spina looks at the issue of Strategic Planning Meetings - see her column here

The whole issue of holding strategic planning session behind closed doors or In-Camera isn't one that applies to Kamloops but to all local governments (School Boards, Municipal Councils and Regional Districts) in British Columbia.  In these sessions - matters relating to staffing and new services are usually discussed and as such, the Community Charter does permit either a municipal council or regional district board to hold these meetings (Strategic Planning Sessions) "In-Camera" or behind closed doors - provided that you pass the appropriate motion to close the meeting to the public first

But, in all honesty, the best solution to the public criticisms' to the holding of strategic planning sessions' is to release the Agenda for these meetings, similiar to the City of Castlegar releasing its' In-Camera Agenda to its' residents, which shows what items are being discussed and under what "In-Camera" section of the Community Charter - Section 90(1)(...)

This is the best way to show that a local government is transparent and open - even with its' Strategic Planning Sessions


Monday, January 30, 2012

Seniors' split apart....again?

On tonight's Global BC: News Hour - they interview a couple from Penticton who were seperated by Interior Health because of the immediate health needs of the wife.  Watch the video below:

When this situation was last in the forefront in 2006 - then-Minister of Health George Abbott decried the same situation by stating:

"Frankly, I'm sorry... this is not the kind of experience that people should have with elderly parents.. we all go through that at some point in life"

It is sad to see six years later, history repeating itself... as someone who watch his elderly grandfather die in a hospital bed, rather than at home with family around... this is a situation that is heart-breaking to observe and without changes to health-care delivery in this country, this will become more commonplace

With seniors' slated to become the biggest portion of the Canadian population - our health care system simply must become more compassionate for the needs of elderly couples and get away from its' cold, corporate mentality of "my way or the highway"


Top Ten on "Mining Round-up Conference"

Courtesy of Hon. Pat Bell - BC Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation:

1. A new agreement with First Nations in the north that provides certainty around resource development along with a reduced backlog of mining permits will help create jobs in the mining sector, Premier Christy Clark announced in her speech to Round Up 2012. The plan also includes a government-to-government Strategic Land Use Planning Agreement with the Kaska Dena Council that will guide future resource development within its traditional territory, but outside the new plan area. The agreement covers more than 7.4 million hectares from the Dease-Liard region to Mackenzie.

2. The latest provincial safety statistics show the B.C. mining industry has not experienced a mine operations fatality since September 2009, the longest period of time without fatalities since 1898.

3. B.C. experienced its second consecutive year of rising mineral exploration expenditures in 2011, as the mineral exploration and mining industry continued a dramatic upward trend. The preliminary regional estimates for exploration expenditures are $463 million in 2011, up 35 per cent from $341 million in 2010. It also represents a 1,500 per cent increase over the 2001 figure of $29 million.

4. Today, two major mines are under construction in the province – Mt. Milligan copper gold mine between Fort St. James and Mackenzie and New Afton copper gold mine near Kamloops. The Province also recently permitted Barkerville Gold Mines Ltd.’s Bonanza Ledge property in December 2011, with construction expected to start this year.

5. The mining industry and related minerals sectors employed over 29,000 people in 2011. The ‘Canada Starts Here: BC’s Job Plan’ commitment to expand nine mines and open eight additional mines by 2015, is expected to generate an increase of mine-operation revenue estimated at $1.6 billion per year once these projects are fully operational and create about 1,800 new and sustain more than 5,000 jobs because of longer mine lives.

6. If you’re interested in a fairly detailed map of mining activities in BC the most current one is available here

7. The Mining Association of BC has a great Career website at http://www.mining.bc.ca/min_careers_consider.htm if you know of anyone looking for work.

8. There was a great editorial in the Vancouver Sun on our Jobs Plan as it relates to Mining. http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Editorial+Jobs+plan+Clark+family+first+agenda/6064567/story.html

9. Did you know that 8 years ago Gold was less than $300 per ounce and today it’s averaging $1,650 per ounce?

10. Total mining revenue revenues for 2010 was $7.9 billion with 8,195 direct employees earning and average of $108,100.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Draft 2012 City of WL Capital/Operations Budgets...

Friday afternoon - the Meeting Agenda for Tuesday's 2nd Budget Meeting for Williams Lake City Council was made available.  Please note - numbers are preliminary until Williams Lake Council makes decisions around the 2012 Capital/Operations Budgets

Find the Agenda and Budgets here

Right off the bat - I want to say that, though I'm happy with the thorough information provided, one mistake was made -- Public input should be before Council deliberates the Draft Budgets and not after - otherwise there really isn't much point of asking the public to comment at these meetings

Staff will be asking Williams Lake City Council to deliberate the following questions:

a) Revenue:

• Fees & Charges – Does Council wish to review our current fees and
charges? Does Council have specific objectives or guiding principles
for fees and charges?

• Government Transfers – Does Council wish to allocate unconditional
grants for specific purposes?

• Reserves – What should we be doing to help protect ourselves against
uncertain future? What level of reserves are appropriate for a cushion
against assessment appeals, funding cuts from senior government and

• Utility Rates – Does Council wish to review utility rates?


• Debt /Borrowing - Does Council wish to set a limit on the % of debt
servicing? Does Council have specific objectives or guiding principles
for incurring debt? How will upcoming projects – Western Avenue
Extension/Westside Connector (to support new residential
development), Hwy 97 North Corridor, Recreation Complex
Improvements be financed?

• Service Levels – Does Council wish to maintain current levels of
service - Increase? Decrease?

• Capital – How does Council wish to finance the maintenance and
replacement of the City’s physical infrastructure?

c) Review of 2012 Draft Capital/Operations Budgets and related matters

Personal Observations:

1) The Draft 5 Year Financial Plan should include projected tax increases for the current financial year (2012) and the subsequent four (4) years

2) Downtown Parking Tax should be discussed for elimination (Consult local BIA Board) - could help with business advantage for Williams Lake downtown core...

3) The Capital Budget Requests/Supplementary Budget Items Request Forms seems a bit "stale".  To freshen them up - it should include the City's Logo, whether they are a Priority 1, 2 or 3 & how they relate to the City's Integrated Community Sustainability Plan or ICSP and finally an estimated percentage of tax increase, if the money is coming from the General Fund (property taxation)

3) On Page 14 - I'd like to see the City move forward this year for Internet Broadcast Cameras. As City Staff note - without it, it is very difficult to get previous meetings and in addition, it'll allow people who don't necessary have SHAW TV but have an interest in WL Council business to watch meetings when their schedule allows.  This project was successful in both Prince George and Kamloops.  The best one I've seen is in Prince George where you can watch the meeting video and see the Agenda Item at the same time so you know exactly what Council is deliberating at that moment

4) On Page 15 - City Staff have asked for $50,000 for 2012 to purchase a variety of IT equipment including iPad2 tablets for Council plus 1 spare iPad2.  The question that this request raises in my mind - while the iPad's having been purchased already and are in use.. what if Council formally rejects the capital item request.  The old saying of - "Closing the barn door after the horses are gone" applies here.  I would be interested in hearing how the purchase of iPad's were done in the City's budget lines in 2011 (can not find where money was authorized to pay for iPad's in 2011) and why this request to authorize is coming forward...

5) On Page 20 - City Staff have requested a Capital Item for $55,000 for a new "First Response" Fire Truck.  While I don't dispute the need - I wonder if Staff have shopped around (including the Lower Mainland) to get a better deal.  $55,000 sounds a bit too high for a pick-up truck.  Sure - taxpayers' might want their tax money used locally but I think the higher principle of 'best use of taxpayers' $$$" applies here

6) On Page 21 - City Staff have requested a Capital Item for a replacement of the 1981 Fire Apparatus, Unit 011. Again - I don't dispute need but given this unit would be used by both City residents' & CRD Residents (Rural Fringe) for fire services - perhaps funds for this come from the upcoming City of WL-CRD Fire Services Agreement

7) On Page 26 - Station House Gallery Project.  Funds allocated as follows:

* Community Works of $160,000
* Gaming of $100,000
* Grant of $375,000

I've heard from a few who think that this project should be "paused" and I agree.  In the meantime - Council should use all Gaming money for next 3 years to put into City "Rain Day" Fund (Surplus Reserve) and top it up for next 3 years.  If that was done (assume $300,000 in Gaming Funds per year) - the Surplus Reserve would have a balance of $1,298,000 by the end of 2014 (with City Policy stating that $400,000 must remain in the account at all times)

8) On Page 29 - Instead of purchasing a new vehicle (Hybrid SUV at cost of $45,000) for a City Department Head (ie: Kevin Goldfuss/Joe Engelberts) position- why not cover a portion of his operating costs for his personal vehicle for City business.

9) On Page 41 - Electronic Speed Signs - I wonder if we can't ask "SpeedWatch" for use of their electronic speed signs instead and save taxpayers' $40,000

10) On Page 44 - Retaining Wall failure by Jelco Supplies - as Staff note - the retaining wall was constructed by the Ministry of Transportation at the time and wonder if the City should not be aggressively pursuing funds for replacement from the Ministry.  If that turns out to be a failure - then, with regret, the project should move forward...

11) On Pages 51 and 52  - Land Acquisition- Oliver Street Trailhead - I'd like to see this project deferred until 2013 and in the meantime, use the $150,000 Gaming funds for this project & put into the City's "Rainy Day" account

12) On Page 65 - Woodland Drive Water/Sewer - unless the City gets a grant of some kind for this badly needed project.  I'd like to see us either try to partner up with the Cariboo Regional District for their water system needs in the Mountview area or borrow the money ($3,500,000) via a full referendum but prior to the vote - that the "Local Service Tax Area" be established first, as per Sections 210-214 of the Community Charter - read here

13) On Pages 84-91 -- the proposed Travel Budgets for Mayor/Council are discussed.  With regard to Mayor Cook - I question the need to spend $300 in 100 Mile House for a hotel room for 2 days for the NCLGA (North Central Local Gov't Association) Conference when she can easily drive back and forth between WL-100 Mile and still save money.  $268.80 for meals for Mayor/Council at NCLGA  - Seems to be a bit high for a 2 day conference  - I personally think that this amount should be a quarter of that - more like $50 or $60 for a two day conference by finding cheaper meals...  As for UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities) - $ 600 for a 5 day conference which works out to $40 per meal seems really and I can't see how that you can't find a meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for saying $15-20 each.  Also note -- Had Mayor Cook and Councillors Bourdon, Walters and Zacharias had skipped the Local Gov't Leadership Academy (as they should have) - City taxpayers' would have saved $5,003.20.  Also note - City CAO Brian Carruthers' total travel budget in 2012 will be $7,886.71 with Councillors Bourdon, Hughes, Walters and Zacharias having a total travel budget of $6,071.76 with Councillors Bonnell /Rathor having a total travel budget of $4,820.96 and Mayor Cook having a total travel budget (suggested) of $12,500 with confirmed travel budget costs of $9,806.71

14) On Page 93 - Mayor Cook put in for reimbursement for a number of items including Safeway, former Beeotcheese Restaurant, Cariboo Ski, Joey's Grill, Signal Pt Restaurant, Sushi/Steak totalling $173.38.   The financial reporting structure in this case should be improved by showing date, time, location, purpose of reimbursement, whether or not Council Policy permits it to be reimbursed and who signed off on it (this applies to all members of WL Council & senior WL City Staff)

15) Bottom of Page 97/Page 98 - Luncheon and Business Meetings - A couple of noteworthy items.  $814 for appys at the Dec 6th Inaugural Meeting of Council and then $300 for a Council dinner at Ming's on Dec 29th, 2011 - no purpose given.  Many thousands of dollars would be saved if people (Committee or Council members) had to bring their own dinner to Committee/Council Meetings.  As an aside - I do not get any meal at a Cariboo Regional District APC Meeting except 1 dinner per year (if the Area Director takes their APC out for lunch/dinner) with the Director being allowed to cover a meal of $20 per attendee.

16) On Pages 104-105: City Staff levels are discussed.  As I have stated before - a number of positions should be revisited including the Communications Coordinator, Executive Assistant,, Contract Planner, Manager of Finance and Manager of IT positions.  In addition, the City should look at amalgamating the admin positions throughout the City (from the CMRC, Airport and Fire Hall) to City Hall itself.  No one likes seeing people be let go but taxpayers' are struggling and need a break - more now than ever.  In fact - just last week, I had one reader comment saying that he felt the City does not need an Executive Assistant.  In addition, the IT Manager position was once a contract position and should be so today (in my opinion).  For the record - the CAO and his Senior Managers' propose that the Staff FTE (full time equivalent) increase from 90.75 to 91.25 or an increase of 0.5 FTE all departments wide from 2011 to 2012.  Since 2008 to proposed 2012 Budget - City Staffing has increased by 2.75 FTE from 88.50 FTE (2008) to 91.25 (proposed 2012 Budget)

17) On Page 106: The City Staff Training Budgets are discussed.  Again - it would be great if the budget revealed the training plan for 2012 and if those training session are Priority 1, 2 or 3.  For the record - 2011 Actual (General Fund) was $124,180 and propose in 2012 that this increase to $163,150 or an increase of 31.4% from 2011 - Actual (estimated) to 2012 (proposed).  Total Training Budget in 2011 (Actual - all funds) is $202,099 with proposed 2012 Budget to be $212,340 or increase of 6%

18) On Page 119: Staff have proposed that, in 2012, total principal/interest on the City's debt will be $1,269,200

Final Thoughts:

Although, there are worthy projects (Capital) proposed in 2012 by Staff and whatever Councillors/Mayor Cook may propose be done in 2012 - there is certainly plenty of room to cut and yes - a 0% property tax budget is possible with required political will.  However, I'd like to see Council propose a budget with a tax hike of 1.7% or less (less than inflation and what the CRD proposed to its' residents' before new/improved CRD services).  If this was done - it would be, in effect, a "net zero" budget to residential property owners, after the home owner grant was factored in

Will it happen ... time will tell.

Again - I strongly encourage you to come out on Tuesday at 6pm and attend WL Council Chambers and after reviewing this document - should you not like what is in it - please come and tell Williams Lake City Council so they can keep your comments/thoughts in mind while preparing this year's budget as the community is being given a very unique opportunity to help WL Council craft the budget... as it was once said -- a local government budget is not simply "a budget" but the "community's budget".

Help make the City's Budget a "community budget"


Bob Simpson: How many Sawmills at risk?

On his blog - Ind. MLA for Cariboo-North, Bob Simpson asks this question, in light of the sawmill explosion at Burns Lake:

The tragic fire at Babine Forest Products (Burns Lake) has finally brought to light the question about whether there is a long term log supply for all mills and all communities in the Mountain Pine Beetle zone?

Read more here

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Victoria pushes for jobs in Burns Lake

Yesterday, Victoria announced that former Pine Beetle Boss Bob Clark had been tasked to look  after the immediate job needs of Burns Lake - see the full BC Government press release here

BC Jobs Minister Pat Bell said the following on the appointment of Bob Clark:

“Bob Clark is a respected player in the forestry sector and has decades of experience interacting with government, private companies and First Nations. Bob earned an outstanding reputation as B.C.’s mountain pine ‘beetle boss’ a few years ago.”

“As our government’s economic ‘recovery boss’, I look forward to working with Bob as we help Burns Lake recover economically from the Babine mill tragedy.”

Meanwhile - local MLA John Rustad noted the following:

“Ensuring the economic viability of the Burns Lake region is a top priority for our government. I’m pleased we’ve been able to recruit Bob Clark to help in our efforts as he brings a very impressive track record of success and experience working in the region and developing economic recovery strategies.”

Both the CBC (see here) and Opinion250.com (see here) are covering this story...

Upcoming Committee of the Whole Items (WL Council)

At Tuesday's Williams Lake Council Meeting at 5pm (Committee of the Whole):

a) Review 2011-12 RCMP Goals - see here
b) Submission of Resolutions to 2012 North Central Local Gov't Association (NCLGA) AGM in 100 Mile - see here

Meanwhile - the Cariboo Regional District Board will be submitting the following Resolutions to the 2012 NCLGA AGM:

1. Fencing of agricultural interface
2. Fencing adjacent highways
3. Prohibiting dangerous offenders from being released into small rural communities without resources for rehabiliation 
4. Protection of aquifer and all bodies of potable water (Provincial and Federal).

c) 2011 4th Quarter Report - see here

A number of projects were completed in 2011 and the following projects are projected to be done in 2012:

a) Community Branding Program - Jan to March 2012
b) Continue pursuit of a District Heating system for the downtown core - Decisions for moving forward - Jan to March 2012
c) Collaborative implementation of key policies in the ICSP/OCP - Present Staff Report to Council in February
d) Develop a First nations language signage policy - 2012 Goal
e) Complete a affordable housing needs and demands study: Jan - March 2012
f) Social development strategy in 2012
g) Review Development Procedures Bylaw in 2012
h) Service Delivery Review for WL Fire Department: Jan-March 2012

Rafe Mair: NDP will BC Gov't in 2013, thanks to BC Conservatives

Former Socred Cabinet Minister Rafe Mair writes in today's Kamloops Daily News stating that , in his opinion, the BC New Democrats will be the provincial government in May of 2013, thanks in no small part of the actions of the BC Conservatives'

Read more here

Meanwhile - over at Political Insider - they ask: If you are a BC Liberal, you should be worried... read more here

Mary Sjostrom & Letters...

In Quesnel - a couple of letters going around involving Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom..

Firstly - former Quesnel Councillor Ron Paull continues to ask the question Why no Plan 'B' for the North Cariboo Multi-Centre & why not ask former Quesnel Councillor/CRD Area 'I' Director Mary Glassford to use her formidable fundraising/lobbying skills?

Read his letter here

Meanwhile Mr. Paull's wife, Pat Morton, writes to Quesnel City Council in regards to information that she requested on expense claims and related information - read her letter here

Editor's Note - the debate around expense claims & Mayor Sjostrom is getting old.  I can only imagine many in Quesnel, look forward to the day that this topic is put behind those in Quesnel and debate more topical matters like the North Cariboo Multi-Centre, West Quesnel Land Stability Program, etc

Upcoming School District #27 Business

On Tuesday - the Board of Education for School District #27 will be meeting and here are some of the items that they'll be considering:

Note - School District #27 will project electronically to the public the Board Agenda and the public will no longer be provided with paper copies.  Full Board Agenda here

a) Explanation of what a DPAC (District Parent Advisory Council) and PAC (Parent Advisory Council) does - see here.  Great to see this done so quickly for the 5 new SD #27 Trustees (Guenther - Zone 2, Austin - Zone 4, Boehm - Zone 5, Neufeld - Zone 6 and Cooper - Zone 7)

b) 2011-12 Amended Annual Budget Bylaw in the amount of $56,588,780 - see here
c) PAC Reimbursement (Playground Equipment) Capital Bylaw of $97,500 - see here

Note - Victoria had previously announced on Dec 7th, 2011 that School District #27 would be reimbursed for 4 Playground projects previously done with PAC money - see that press release here

d) A number of policies will be considered by the full School District #27 Board as the Policy Committee of the SD #27 Board has suspended meetings, due to the Teachers' Job Action:

i) Bus Fee for non-SD #27 Schools for 2012-13 School Yr - see here
ii) Transportation Assistance Rate - see here
iii) Boarding Assistance Rate - see here

iv) Tuition Rate for International Students - see here (Current tuition is $10,000 per student for full school year (Sept - June), $5,000 for half school year (Sept-Jan) and must be paid in advance and is not refundable)

v) School Fees for 2012-13 School Year - see here (Fees apply to Columneetza and Williams Lake Secondary, GROW, PSO Secondary in 100 Mile House and 100 Mile Jr Secondary

vi) Tuition Remuneration - see here (Note - current rates are $16,000 for Board Chair Will Van Osch, $13,500 for Vice-Chair Patti Bake and $12,500 for Trustees Tanya Guenther, Jackie Austin, Dr. Sheila Boehm, Dr. Doug Neufeld and Joyce Cooper).  If I were the School Board - it might  be good at least for now and let "sleeping dogs lie"

e) Review of recent "Closed" SD #27 Board Meetings - see here

Friday, January 27, 2012

Local Gov't Meetings - Week of Jan 30th to Feb 3rd

The following local governments are meeting next week:

Wells - Next meeting is Feb 7th

Regular Mtg on Monday, Jan 30th at 7pm in Quesnel Council Chambers (2nd Floor - 410 Kinchant St)
See the Agenda/Reports here

School District #28 (Quesnel) - Next meeting is Feb 15th
School District #27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin):

Regular Meeting on Tuesday, Jan 31st at 7:00pm in the SD #27 Boardroom (350 2nd Ave - WL)
See the Agenda/Reports here

Williams Lake:

Committee of the Whole Meeting on Tuesday, Jan 31st at 5:00pm in the Rick Hansen Boardroom (450 Mart St)

See the Agenda/Reports here

Budget Meeting #2 - 2012 on Tuesday, Jan 31st at 6:00pm in WL Council Chambers (450 Mart St)
View the Agenda/Reports here

100 Mile House - Next meeting is Feb 14th
Cariboo Regional District: Next meeting is Feb 17th

WL City Councillor Rathor: Take 2012 FCM Trip to Budget Process

In an article posted on Welcome to Williams Lake a few minutes ago - Williams Lake City Councillor Surinderpal Rathor defends his position to ask WL City Council to put the 2012 Fed of Cdn Municipalities (FCM) trip to Saskatoon to the 2012 Budget Process and why he disagrees with WL Mayor Cook & local City Councillors Sue Zacharias, Geoff Bourdon, Ivan Bonnell, Laurie Walters and Danica Hughes on agreeing to send Mayor Cook/City CAO Brian Carruthers to the 2012 FCM AGM at a cost of roughly $6,700

See the article here

CRD Supports Nazko Economic Development Plan

Courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District:

During the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) Board of Director’s meeting last Friday (Jan 20th), the Board agreed to provide support to the Nazko First Nations three-phase power system and their proposed Economic Development Plan for the Nazko area. The proposed plan would open up a westward gateway that would trigger significant economic development potential for the region through Nazko and into Quesnel.

The first resolution will provide Nazko with support to develop a three phase power system which will enable other components to the Economic Development Plan. The Regional District resolved to provide lobbying support in collaboration with the Nazko First Nation. Through this resolution CRD Chair Al Richmond and staff are authorized to travel for the purpose of lobbying the appropriate provincial ministers to aide in moving this project forward.

We are pleased to have the support of the CRD for this important initiative”, said Chief Delores Alec. “Extending three-phase power to the Nazko Valley is key to an economic development plan that will benefit our community, the City of Quesnel and the entire region”.

The second resolution passed during the meeting addresses the CRD’s support for the Nazko First Nation and their Economic Development Plan. Nazko is endeavouring to work collaboratively with all levels of government and private industry in order to develop a strong, sustainable regional economy.

The Cariboo Regional District is looking forward to working in collaboration with Chief Delores and the Nazko First Nation to help develop a sustainable economic future for all residents of the region,” says CRD Chair Al Richmond. “We look forward to lobbying with the Nazko First Nation and Quesnel to bring these projects to fruition.”

Further information about the Nazko Economic Development Plan is available by calling 250-992-9085. Information about the Cariboo Regional District is available online at www.cariboord.bc.ca or by calling 250-392-3351 or toll free at 1-800-665-1636.

International Day of Commemoration - Holocaust

Today, the world notes the 67th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz (Holocaust).

District of Lake Country CAO Alberto De Feo notes a personal connection to this event on his personal blog which you can read here

In the meantime - Canada's Prime Minister (Rt Hon. Stephen Harper) notes this event as well by stating:

“On this solemn 67th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration camp, I join Canadians and the international community in commemorating the millions of men, women, and children, who suffered, died and lost loved ones during one of the most heinous chapters in human history.

“Through indescribable atrocities, the fundamental and universal principles of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law were desecrated during the Holocaust.

“As we mourn those who were murdered by the Nazis more than six decades ago and honour the legacy of those who survived, let us use the lessons of the past to remind us of the importance of tolerance, and inspire us to take a stand against hatred and discrimination, including anti-Semitism in all its forms.

“We must never allow the crimes of the past to be repeated or forgotten.”

The Politics of Tax Shifting

Over the last number of years - a number of local governments including Castlegar, Kamloops and Quesnel have begun to shift the overall percentage of total property taxes paid by Heavy/Light Industry to Residential, at the request of local industry

Last week - the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that the District of North Cowichan's Tax Rates Bylaw was properly adopted.  In the meantime - the District confirms that it is looking at the possibility of tax shifting from Class 4 (Major Industry) to Class 1 (Residential).  Muncipalities that have completed some tax shifting (ie - Kamloops/Quesnel) have not suffered politically because of it.

See the full press release from the District of North Cowichan here

In the meantime - local industry here has raised concerns about rising property taxes with no increase in services.  The City's response has been that it is because of lowering industrial assessments.

Should the City of Williams Lake Council decide to do what Castlegar, Kamloops and Quesnel has done - tax shifting - I think WL Council will have to look at service cuts to ensure that the tax shift from Class 4/5 (Heavy/Light Industry) does not result in heavy increases in property taxes paid by residential property owners (as has been suggested to me by local Steelworkers' Union President Paul French)

Resign from local elected office and receive fine or jail time...?

As a result of the recent snap resignation of former Lillioet Mayor Ted Anchor and former Lillioet Councillor Kevin Taylor - Coquitlam Council is now advocating for a fine/jail to be levied at those who run and win for local elected office and then resign during their term of office

In fact - Coquitlam City Councillor Brent Asmundson has been quoted in the Coquitlam NOW as suggesting a fine of $10,000+ while his colleague, Councillor Lou Sekora (former Coquitlam Mayor) went further and said "resign before your term is up without reason & maybe you should be thrown in jail"

Coquitlam Council has referred this matter to the Lower Mainland Local Government Association and the Union of BC Municipalities for further discussion

See the full article in the Bridge River - Lillioet News here

This will be, in my opinion, a very heated discussion among local elected officials (municipal councils and regional districts) - if it lands for debate at the 2012 UBCM AGM to held later this year in Victoria, BC on Sept 24th - 28th.

I can see a fine if you resign within the first 90 days of elected office. After that - I think the bar should be high in order to fine or jailing an individual for resigning from elected office


Review of WL Council's Strategic Goals for 2011-14 Term

Yesterday - I posted on WL Council's 4 Strategic Goals, as outlined at Wednesday's CRD Joint Town Hall Meeting, which you can view in full here

Again - those goals are:

1) Implementation of the Business Expansion and Attraction Task Force Recommendations with the goal of expanding the City’s economic base.

2) Implementation of the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) and the Official Community Plan (OCP)

3) Partnering with First Nations on matters of mutual interest

4) Financial stability, with focus on long-term planning

Now - I looked at Goal #1 previously - which you can read here.  There are a few goals worthwhile pursuing but simply "educating" developers on City policies/procedures will not elicit the kind of investment dollars we seek.  If the City ask the question "What City policies/procedures are an impediment to you developing your properties in our City?" and have a thoughtful "give and take" situation - it would go a lot farther.  Also - with regard to the rail car situation - it too would go further - if it was a joint process between Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House as the whole rail car issue is not just a Williams Lake issue

On Goal #2 - implementing the ICSP/OCP is something this Council and future Williams Lake City Councils' would have had to implement, given the amount of public input into the ICSP/OCP, but an OCP is just a "vision" and the ICSP is something that is contemplated over a long period of time (over 10-20 years) and certainly by then, Councils' change and certainly peoples' idea for the community change which is why the ICSP was intended to be a "living document" which is long term financial plan can not be done beyond a 5 year period, given the legislative constraints, but in any event, once a 10 or even 20 year financial plan is adopted by a sitting Council, a future Council can come along and say "this is our new long term financial plan", notwithstanding whatever the public says at that time to the sitting Council of the day

On Goal #3 - Partnering with First Nations is the right thing to do, given the political atmosphere and of recent court decisions.   However - I question whether it is a good idea of a Youth Safety Committee when the current Junior Council could be asked this same question and I have no doubt that they could/would put many positive/useful ideas forward for consideration

On Goal #4 - I'll be reviewing these, one by one:

• Competitive tax rates - Council will have to be careful with this one, given residents' pay close to 40% of the total property tax bill and based on comments I've received in the last few days - there is absolutely no appetite for perpetual tax increases, unless it relates to the very core basics (Police, Fire, Water/Sewer or Snow Removal).  Also - Council will find, I believe, tax shifting to be extremely tricky to handle especially if it means, say, a 0.5 or 1.0% tax shift from Major or Light Industry to Residential.  In theory - an idea worth discussing but tax shifting won't matter to residents unless when tax shifting, City services are on the table to be cut to ensure the tax shift proposed has little or no tax impact, after the homeowner grant is applied

• Adequate reserves - again, a good idea but Council will have to find a way to accomplish those without burdening too greatly the taxpayer to accomplish this goal

• Investment in infrastructure - good in theory but if Council can link how good infrastructure is good for taxpayers' (relates to basic rather than "feel good" projects) then it'll receive voter support, if not - Council may have a challenging time this term to accomplish this goal

• Management of debt - with $18 million in debt on the books between now - 2030: Council will be hard-pressed to do anymore borrowing in this term, in addition Council/CRD Directors' for Areas D, E and F will have a very large hill to climb in order to receive voter assent, especially as it relates to the future of the Sam Ketchum Pool - a conservative estimate puts the replacement of the pool at between - $10 to $15 million and there may or may not be appetite for voters' to borrow that amount, especially if no grants from Ottawa/Victoria are forthcoming in the short term (2011 - 2014 term of local government)

• Cost-efficient operations - I believe the time has come to ask: Should we look at contracting *all* City services except the basic core ones (ie: Water/Sewer and Fire) and that is a question that needs proper investigation - pros vs cons & a "cost benefit analysis" - ie: cost to contract out all City services minus core services vs maintaining the status quo

• Transparent financial planning - while Mayor Cook and her Council have made a good start with the Open Budget Meetings (reminder of Tuesday's Budget Meeting #2 at 6:00pm in Council Chambers), they still have a long way to go including:

* Meetings at 7pm, instead of 6pm - imperative that the process can stand up to any scrutiny...
* Have a dedicated Facebook page to allow residents' to input to Mayor/Council and City Staff directly on the Budget (ie: Budget ideas, etc)
* Allowing a period of time (15 minutes) to provide oral input prior to Budget Meetings of Council
* Surveying of City residents - both in the City and those on the rural City/CRD Fringe (via Survey Monkey - a free survey program) about Budget ideas (status quo of services, increase or decrease services or new community projects) prior to giving initial direction to City Staff on the forthcoming budget

Chilliwack-Hope by-election news....

In today's Vancouver Province - political columnist Mike Smyth looks at a promise by BC Conservative Chilliwack-Hope candidate John Martin to make the issue of burning garbage by Metro Vancouver one of the major issues in the upcoming by-election in Chillwack-Hope (whenever it is called by BC Premier Christy Clark) - see the article here

Meanwhile - Mr. Martin blasts Attorney/Solicitor-General Shirley Bond for allowing a guilty child molester of 4 children from ages 7-14 over a two year period to get "house arrest" and 3 years probation - see here

Also - in your Vancouver Sun - veteran political columnist Vaughn Palmer looks at the provincial political parties (BC Conservative, BC Liberal, BC NDP and BC Greens) maneuvering in the upcoming Chillwack-Hope by-election (whenever it is called) - view here

Finally (and speaking of BC Conservatives) - BC Conservative Regional Director in Kamloops (and my uncle) Alan Forseth - does a follow-up on an earlier blog post regarding gaming in BC and asks: Is there a way out as far as gaming in BC goes?.  Thought-provoking when I read it... read it for yourself here

Thursday, January 26, 2012

CRD Town Hall online input!

Just a friendly reminder that if you can not make your local Cariboo Regional District (CRD) Town Hall meeting - that you can view the Town Hall presentation online which you can find here.  At present - the Town Hall presentations for Electoral Areas 'A', 'E', 'F', 'G', 'H', 'I', and the City of Williams Lake are available for your viewing pleasure

After reviewing the Town Hall presentation - ensure you leave feedback with the CRD, by way of a short survey which you can fill out online here

The CRD Board will adopt the 2012 Budget at its' Friday, March 30th meeting


WL Council Strategic Initiatives - 2011 to 2014 Term

As announced at last night's joint Cariboo Regional District-City of Williams Lake Town Hall Meeting - here are your Williams Lake Council Strategic Initiatives for the 2011-2014 Term:

Strategic Initiative #1:

Implementation of the Business Expansion and Attraction Task Force Recommendations with the goal of expanding the City’s economic base.

Strategic Initiative #2:

Implementation of the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) and the Official Community Plan (OCP)

Priority Areas:
• Social Well-Being
• Lively Downtown
• Active and Convenient Transportation
• Affordable Housing and Livable Neighbourhoods
• World Class Recreation
• Cherished Local Ecosystems
• Distinctive Arts, Culture, and Heritage
• Partnering with First Nations
• Resilient Economy
• Local Food and Agriculture

Strategic Initiative #3:

Partnering with First Nations on matters of mutual interest:

• Community Forest license application
• Transit service to Sugar Cane
• Protection of archeological features
• Youth Safety Committee

Strategic Initiative #4:

Financial stability, with focus on long-term planning:

• Competitive tax rates
• Adequate reserves
• Investment in infrastructure
• Management of debt
• Cost-efficient operations
• Transparent financial planning

Over to you, Williams Lake voters! - do these 4 Strategic Initiatives represent what you believe the Council of the City of Williams Lake should be working on this term

Interested in your thoughts.... :)


Draft 2012-2016 City of Kamloops Financial Plan available

The City of Kamloops Draft 2012-2016 Financial Plan has now been released for public review.  You can review the 5 parts to the Plan here

Also - the kick-off to the public engagement for the 2012 City of Kamloops Budget Process starts on Tuesday, Feb 14th at 9am in Kamloops Council Chambers (#7 Victoria Street West)

Additional meeting dates as follows:

Tuesday, Feb 28 at 7 pm
Parkside Lounge, Interior Savings Centre, 300 Lorne Street

Tuesday, Mar 6 at 7 pm
Parkside Lounge, Interior Savings Centre, 300 Lorne Street

Tuesday, Mar 13 at 7 pm
Parkside Lounge, Interior Savings Centre, 300 Lorne Street

Tuesday, Apr 3 at 9 am
Kamloops Council Chambers, #7 Victoria Street West

Broadcast Times

Budget Meetings can be viewed on Shaw Cable at the following times:

Meeting of Feb 14 broadcasts on Thurs Feb 16 - 9 pm
Meeting of Apr 3 broadcasts on Thurs Apr 5 - 9 pm

Interior Savings Centre Budget meetings:

Meeting of Feb 28 broadcasts on Sun Mar 4 - 2 pm
Meeting of Mar 6 broadcasts on Sun Mar 11 - 2 pm
Meeting of Mar 13 broadcasts on Sun Mar 18 - 2 pm

Meanwhile - in Williams Lake, the Draft 2012 Capital/Operations Budget documents should be available this Friday afternoon at the City of Williams Lake website - click here

Williams Lake Council will meet Tuesday at 6:00pm in Williams Lake Council Chambers (450 Mart St) to discuss the above 2012 Capital/Operations Draft Budget

If you live in either Kamloops/Williams Lake - please take advantage of your community budget meetings - your input will effect what your local elected official says your property taxes will be in 2012!


Quesnel Winter Carnival is more than fun!

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel:

There is just a little more than a week to go until the fourth annual Winter Carnival at the West Fraser Timber Park on Saturday Feb. 4 starting at 1 p.m.

And what better way to take part than to participate in the Adult Winter Fun Challenge. This very casual challenge involves people completing three winter activities. Be it cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tobogganing, skating, women's and men's hockey, and more, we'll have equipment for you to use. And new this year is Frisbee golf.

The reward for trying out all these activities? You could win a signed, framed Phil Esposito Team Canada photo from the 1972 Summit Series, donated by Odds and Glenn's Collectibles. Some of the other prizes up for grabs include a $50 gift certificate from Rocky Peak Adventure Gear, and passes for the Arts and Recreation Centre and Troll Ski Resort.

The Winter Carnival includes a wide variety of winter activities, crafts, music and snacks, not to mention the Crazy Toque contest. With the ice surface being lit up this year, there will be skating on the pond right up until the day concludes with entertainment from the Correlieu Choir and fireworks at 5:30 p.m.

To help everyone join the fun that day, Quesnel Transit buses will stop outside West Fraser Timber Park. For more information, call 250-992-8200, visit www.quesnel.ca, or check out the Quesnel Winter Carnival page on facebook at www.facebook.com/activeliving.quesnel

For more information, please contact:

Diane Rogers - Recreation Manager
Quesnel & District Leisure Services
Ph: 250-992-8200
Email: drogers@quesnel.ca

Thursday Political News - Jan 26th edition

In your Vancouver Sun today, veteran political columnist Vaughn Palmer looks at the recently submitted report of BC Ferries Commissioner Gordon Macatee on several issues facing the BC Ferry system and possible solutions including:

* allowing less profitable ferry runs (ie: Gulf Island runs) to be subsidized by more profitable runs (Vancouver-Victoria)
* Focus on protection of ferry users/communities and the taxpayers
* More regulatory powers for the BC Ferry Commissioner

You can read the full column here

Meanwhile in your Vancouver Province - political columnist Mike Smyth looks at the huge cost (estimated at $13 billion, based on an Australian study) on bullying in the workplace and what he thinks BC Premier Christy Clark should do about it

Read more here

Also - BC Premier Christy Clark promises to cut red tape to allow for more quicker mine expansions - read here

Finally - Cariboo-Chilcotin BC NDP Candidate Charlie Wyse weighs on the HST issue once again, challenging the BC Liberals and local MLA Donna Barnett to rid the Province of the HST right now and not months from now - see his letter to the editor in today's Williams Lake Tribune here 

Editor's Note - I wonder if the NDP and the anti-HST forces know how incredibly naive they sound by calling for the reversal of the HST forthwith when going from HST back to PST/GST has never been done in this country and because we are talking about tax law here - a thought-out return to the former provincial tax scheme is necessary

CRD hosts Emergency Planning Open Houses

Courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District

Editor's Note - if you have time, please attend these series of meetings' and help provide the Cariboo Regional District staff with the best information in your local rural community so they can design/implement a well-thought out Emergency Plan for your local community

The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) is launching a region-wide series of open house style meetings which will be used to collect community knowledge and emergency operations information from the people that live, work and play in those communities.

Following the forest fires of 2009, the CRD listened to input and feedback from communities that were impacted by fires. Many residents clearly voiced their desire to share community knowledge, have input into the process and be part of emergency operations planning and solutions in their immediate areas.

The CRD is seeking specific information from communities and their surrounding areas about resources including hazards, road accesses, land uses, recreation areas, active ranching operations, and equipment/operators available for hire in the community and surrounding areas. The Regional District is looking for information from people of all walks of life such as:

• Volunteer Fire Departments
• Search & Rescue groups
• Community Groups & Associations
• Citizens on Patrol
• Tourism Associations & Operators
• Stockmen, stockyards, ranchers
• Service Clubs

CRD staff will be available to take this information and answer questions about emergency planning, operations and recovery. This is also an opportunity for the CRD to recruit people that may be interested in being volunteer emergency contacts (VEC’s) for their community or area or to learn how to become involved in emergency operations or social services.

A survey will be available at all meetings and online through the CRD website at www.cariboord.bc.ca

Some of the questions will help us learn more about the best ways to communicate with residents during emergencies, consider and/or address resident’s ideas and concerns about emergencies. Literature about how to plan for emergencies and what to do if under evacuation alert and/or order will be available at the Open Houses.

A list of the 19 Community Response Capacity Open Houses scheduled for the end of January and concluding in February is posted on the CRD website. Please check the website at www.cariboord.bc.ca, the CRD Emergency Operations facebook page (www.facebook.com/crdemergencyoperations), or the CRD corporate facebook page at (www.facebook.com/caribooregion) to find out which meeting will cover the area you live in.

Members of all communities are invited to attend – anyone and everyone with local knowledge can make a difference.

The Meeting Schedule is:

Date                Time                                   Location

Jan 26th       3:30 - 5:30pm                  Wells Council Chambers
Feb 1st         5-8pm                               Bouchie Lake Fire Hall
Feb 2nd       1-3pm                                Nimpo Lake Community Hall
Feb 3rd        1-4pm                                Tatla Lake Community Hall
Feb 4th         2-4pm                                WL Sportsman Club
Feb 5th         1pm?                              Parkland Elem (to follow adjourn. of Town Hall Mtg)
Feb 8th         5-8pm                                Forest Grove Community Hall
Feb 9th         6-8pm                                Lac La Hache Community Hall
Feb 11th       9am - 12pm                      Lone Butte Community Hall
Feb 11th       2-4pm                               Deka Lake Fire Hall
Feb 13th       5-8pm                               108 Community Hall
Feb 14th       5-8pm                               Kersley Community Hall
Feb 16th       5-8pm                               West Fraser Community Hall
Feb 18th       12-3pm                             Nazko Community Hall
Feb 21st        5-8pm                               McLeese Lake Community Hall
Feb 22nd       5-7pm                              Wildwood Fire Hall
Feb 23rd        5-8pm                              Big Lake Community Hall
Feb 25th         9am - 12pm                    150 Mile Community Hall
Feb 25th         2-5pm                              Miocene Community Hall

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mid-Week News - Jan 25th edition


* Local Ramada Hotel owner asks for compensation over lost business during St. Laurent Ave construction - see here

Note - Quesnel Council will formally vote on the request at their Jan 30th meeting but Quesnel's City Manager has recommended Quesnel Council deny the request as per Section 25(1) of the Community Charter - prohibition of municipal councils' to financially assist businesses

Williams Lake:

* Anti-HST crusader Eric Freeston says HST repayment deal with Ottawa unfair to BC'ers - see here

* Ida Chong: Multi-Year Gaming Funds agreements are being actively pursued - see here
* Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett/Taseko Mines VP Brian Battison to speak at Thursday's WL & District Chamber of Commerce luncheon - see here
* Literacy opens many doors for people  - see here
* Old Slumber Lodge converted into Affordable Housing?? - see here
* Bragging on Facebook regarding ICBC payout has cost local $20,000 - see here
* Ind. Cariboo-North MLA Bob Simpson "calls out" BC Liberals over "BC Jobs Plan" Ads - see here - see here
* Bob Simpson: Getting ready for next month's BC Legislature Session - see here
* Weekly City of WL Mayor's Column  - see here
* Debate over 0% property tax hike between senior WL City Councillor SPS Rathor vs WL Mayor Kerry Cook - see here

Editor's Note - In posting the above article yesterday on my personal Facebook page - it seems a tax hike of even 2-3% for some WL residents' is a "non-starter".  Also, concerns were raised about lack of building inspection services from the City (especially after the recently-signed Building Inspection Services agreement with the Cariboo Regional District) and also a concern was raised regarding tax shifting from Heavy Industry to Residential.  You can read those comments for yourself here

100 Mile House:

* Local concern expressed over new Health Care funding deal - see here
* Look at CRD Area 'G' Town Hall meeting held earlier this month - see here
* New Christian school in 100 Mile House gains steam  - see here
* Jordan Bateman - Victoria must tighten spending further or BC Liberals' face "electoral defeat" in 2013 - see here
* Poll on attendance at CRD Town Hall Meetings - see here.  Interesting that 85% of those polled or 23 people say that don't plan to attend while the remaining four or 14% of those polled plan to attend... With these numbers, perhaps the CRD will have to look at additional tools to survey the public on a proposed CRD Budget...
* 100 Mile local realtor says "We need jobs desperately or our lifestyle will take a big hit" - see here


1) The Central Cariboo Joint Committee is meeting tonight at 5pm in the CRD Boardroom.  Agenda is:

* Graham Kelsey (President of local Arts/Culture Society) to give an update on his organization's activities

* 2012 Meeting Schedule
* 2 NDIT (Northern Development Initiative Trust) applications
* Reconsideration of Grant-in-Aide applications from Rotary Club/2012 Dry Grad (as requested by CRD Area 'D' Director Deb Bischoff)
* Update from Pool Task Force

2) At last night's WL City Council meeting - Councillor Surinderpal Rathor voted against authorizing Mayor Kerry Cook and City Administrator Brian Carruthers from travelling to Saskatoon for 2012 FCM (Fed. of Cdn Municipalities) Conference/AGM.  But before the vote - Councillor Rathor attempted to move a motion to refer the item to the budget as the FCM Conference was not until June however Mayor Cook blocked the attempt by citing that Rathor's motion was "contrary to the Main Motion".  However a look at the City's Procedure Bylaw states: (Section 21.5 (a)) - motions permitted during consideration of a question before the Council

(a) to refer to committee, other body or staff department

Mayor Cook, at the very least, should have shown a little respect to those who voted for Councillor Rathor by putting his motion of referral to Budget Process to the Council and see if it gained a seconder, and then have the subsequent vote upon it (likely - it would have failed).

Meanwhile - readers' here have expressed disappointed in Rathor's vote calling him a "hypocrite" after voting to go to Halifax to attend the 2011 FCM AGM

I think that Mayor Cook needs to be more open of all ideas as it pertains to the City Budget or other issues and not find reasons to shoot it down.  A great community is the one where we take/implement the very best ideas, regardless of where or whom they come from...

WL Council supports, in principle, BEAS Task Force Recommendations

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

At its regular meeting Tuesday evening, Council received the report from the Business Expansion and Attraction Strategy (BEAS) Task Force, and supported in principle its 12 recommendations.

Staff will now provide a report to Council with respect to implementation, priorities, and costs for consideration in the 2012 budget and Council’s strategic priorities for the 2011-2014 term.

I want to thank the members of the Task Force for their hard work and dedication as they produced these recommendations,” says Mayor Kerry Cook. “Council will be considering these recommendations in decision-making as we go forward as we focus on increasing economic activity in the City. That is my number one priority in this term of Council.”

The City completed the Business Expansion and Attraction Strategy in mid-2011. Based on local stakeholder interviews and market research the document provides an economic review of the City, suggests business sectors for expansion, and recommends forty strategic initiatives to assist growth and diversification of the local economy.

Mayor and Council established the Business Expansion and Attraction Strategy (BEAS) Task Force in October 2011 to develop recommendations about implementation of the BEAS. Task Force members included individuals representing business and community organizations as well as key economic sectors.

The Task Force met every two weeks from October 26 through December 31, 2011. Each meeting involved a combination of prioritizing exercises and general discussions about business development, the state of the local economy, community strengths, challenges and opportunities as related to the various Strategy initiatives. The Task Force also considered the goals of the City’s Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) and the Official Community Plan (OCP) as it drafted its recommendations.

In the course of moving forward, the Task Force suggested that the City consider these principles in its efforts to expand the local economy:

• Consider all development projects with a ‘Business lens.’
• Ensure program delivery is done in a manner that is reflective of the complexities of the economy – be prepared to adapt (the BEAS should be maintained as a ‘living document’)
• Ensure that project delivery is undertaken with a sound return on investment to the community in mind.
• Actively pursue opportunities to leverage funding and human resources when delivering projects.

For more information, please contact:

Alan Madrigga - Manager of Economic Development
City of Williams Lake
Ph: 250-392-1764 or amadrigga@williamslake.ca

Summary of Recommendations

Please note that recommendations are not listed in any particular order.

 INDUSTRIAL TAX RATES - That the City review the mill rates for industrial property in the City with the goal of ensuring the rates are at competitive levels to similar resource based communities in BC.

 MINING SERVICE SECTOR EXPANSION - That the City work with local mining companies to identify material suppliers that they currently use who are based outside of the Cariboo region and engage these suppliers to assess potential to locate offices and/or provide services from Williams Lake.

 MOUNTAIN BIKE TOURISM - That the City ensure linkages to grow Mountain Bike tourism activities in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region; with a focus on expansion of support businesses associated with mountain biking in Williams Lake.

 DEVELOPER ORIENTATION AND TRAINING - That the City develops and undertakes an information program to educate existing and potential property developers on the processes and legislative requirements to develop property in City (i.e. rezoning, development permits, engineering required, etc).

 LIVELY DOWNTOWN - That the City coordinate a strategic effort to fill gaps in downtown commercial spaces by building on the Lively Downtown objectives of the City of Williams Lake ICSP/OCP.

 THOMPSON RIVERS UNIVERSITY - That the City establish an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Thompson Rivers University to define roles and relationships in expanding post-secondary opportunities at the Williams Lake campus as a means to enhance the direct and indirect economic benefits to the community.

 WEB-BASED MARKETING TOOLS - That the City establishes web-based marketing tools to assist and market business development in Williams Lake.

 ENTERPRISE FACILITATION - That the City, in partnership with local business associations, Thompson Rivers University, and the Cariboo-Chilcotin Community Futures Development Corporation support and encourage the delivery of enterprise facilitation (business coaching) resources to increase the success of local businesses.

 COMMUNITY FOREST BENEFITS - That the City designate the City’s net revenues from the Williams Lake Community Forest to specific economic development initiatives to further activities generated from the Business Expansion and Attraction Strategy.

 COMMUNITY BRANDING AND WORKER ATTRACTION - That the City develops a community brand, and marketing and media materials to facilitate the attraction of skilled workers to Williams Lake.

 PROPERTY ACQUISITION - That the City assesses the opportunity to acquire industrial and commercial property to ensure progressive use and development of such lands in the city boundary.

 RAIL SERVICE - That the City support and lobby for the provision of appropriate rail service for industrial clients.

Members of the BEAS Task Force:

Tracey Gard - President, Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce
Glen Holling - Real Estate/Small Business
Ross MacLean - Mining
Brian McNaughton - Forestry/Small Business
Sheila Mortensen - Acting President, Williams Lake and Central Business Improvement Area/Small Business
Bryan Neufeld - Construction/Small Business
Dr. Ray Sanders - Director, Thompson Rivers University (Williams Lake)
Coun. Geoff Bourdon - City of Williams Lake
Mayor Kerry Cook - City of Williams Lake

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

WL Council Highlights - Jan 24th meeting


Mayor Cook and Councillors’ I. Bonnell, G. Bourdon, D. Hughes, SPS Rathor, L. Walters and S. Zacharias

Staff Present:

Brian Carruthers - CAO
Geoff Goodall – GM of Planning and Operations
Cindy Bouchard – Manager of Legislative Services
Tom Chung – IT Manager
Ken MacInnis – Communications Coordinator
Ann Burill – Manager of Social Development

Meeting called to order at 6:00pm
Minutes of Jan 10th, 2012 WL Council meeting approved


1) Fred Robbins – Chief of Esk'etemc First Nations (Alkali Lake) appeared before Council to present information re: Indian Residential Schools Settlement


1) Council received for information the 2011 Economic Snapshot Report
2) Council approved registration, travel and associated expenses for Mayor Cook and CAO Brian Carruthers to attend the 75th Annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Conference being held June 1 to 4, 2012 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Councillor SPS Rathor was recorded opposed

3) Council referred the Strong Regions Report to the City of Williams Lake / Central Cariboo Joint Committee for discussion

4) Council referred DVP #1-2012 (WL Seniors’ Village – Lot Servicing Exemption) to the Advisory Planning Commission for consideration at its’ Jan 31st meeting. Council will formally consider DVP #1-2012 at its’ February 7th meeting

5) Council ratified an email poll of Jan 19th/20th authorizing a letter of support for TRU's industry collaborative Logging Truck Driver Training

6) Council adopted a Committee of the Whole recommendation to receive and support, in principle, the BEAS (Business Expansion/Attraction Strategy) Task Force 12 Recommendations and Staff were requested to provide a report to Council with respect to implementation, priorities and costs for consideration in the 2012 budget and Council’s strategic priorities for the 2011-2014 term of Council. Letters of appreciation will be sent to the members of the Task Force for their work on the Task Force

7) Council received a letter from Cariboo Direct Farm Market Association requesting that power fees be waived at Boitanio Park for the Friday Farmers’ Market. Council decided to deny their request as they did not meet the Sept 30th deadline to apply for a Grant-in-Aide, as per Grants-in-Aid Policy No. 18. Council also encouraged them to apply for a Grant-in-Aide in 2013 by the Sept 30th, 2012 deadline

8) Council received a letter from Community Services Minister Ida Chong in regards to the Community Invitation for the Province-Wide Grey Cup Tour and Council encouraged the community to attend this event at 2:30pm on Feb 2nd at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex

9) Council ratified 4 Proclamations as follows:

a) International Development Week - Feb 5-11
b) White Cane Week – Feb 5-11
c) Chamber of Commerce Week – Feb 20-24
d) National Aboriginal Day – June 21st

10) Council received In-Camera Report #11-2011 regarding appointments to the Interim Board of Directors for the City's Limited Liability Partnership for the Community Forest Licence. Individuals appointed were:

a) WL City Councillor Sue Zacharias
b) WL City Councillor Geoff Bourdon
c) City of WL CAO Brian Carruthers

11) Council received the “Council Information Package” for Jan 24th as follows:

• November 15, 2011 - Letter from Minister Ida Chong re 2011 UBCM Convention Meeting
• November 16, 2011 - Letter from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor re Invite to 86th Annual WL Stampede
• December 22, 2011 - Letter from Spectra Energy re Congratulations on Elections/Re-Elections and Western Canada Operations Update
• December 22, 2011 - Letter from UBCM re 2011 Resolutions
• December 2011 - CRD Up Front Newsletter - Winter 2011
• January 4, 2012 - Letter from CN Western Region re Congratulations on Election
• January 10, 2012 - Letter from the BC Retired Teachers' Association re Congratulation on Election & Survey Summary on volunteer role of retired teachers in BC
• January 12, 2012 - Letter from CUPE BC re Congratulation on Election

Council then adjourned & re-convened their In-Camera Meeting

Monday, January 23, 2012

Victoria on future direction of Community Living BC

Last Friday, both BC Premier Christy Clark and BC Social Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux announced a new plan with respect to Community Living BC (CLBC) which includes $40 million in additional funding to 3 new funds.  All the details can be read from the Vancouver Sun article here

Meantime - BC Tourism/Jobs Minister Pat Bell, through his "Top Ten" released today summarized the new direction with respect to CLBC as follows:

1. Develop a coherent “one government” policy framework for persons with developmental disabilities. As part of this change, families can expect more consistent levels of support when they transition from MCFD to CLBC.

2. Implement a more consistent assessment platform across the Ministries of Children and Family Development, Health, Education, and Social Development, along with CLBC, to ensure consistency and clarity of needs assessment and planning for individuals and their families. This will allow for better identification of individual needs, improving individual planning.

3. Use a coherent and integrated system to track demand, wait times and service delivery across relevant ministries and CLBC. A better system needs to be developed and implemented that more clearly identifies actual, real-time need for services.

4. Improve cross-government planning for individuals who are transitioning through different types of care, to reduce stress on them and on their families. This includes engaging earlier with youth transitioning to adulthood, but also focussing on older adults who may be transitioning to seniors’ care.

5. Maintain CLBC as a Crown Agency. Implement changes to address mandate tension created by generational change, and improve approach to and relationship with families and individuals.

6. Implement new government capacity focused on transition supports. New capacity is being identified to focus on the transition to adulthood, to address the gap created when youth leave high school.

7. Increase employment services planning and supports, as well as alternative day programming options.

8. Support greater use of individualized funding. The move to individualized funding will give families a greater say in the way their loved ones are supported and provide greater stability to families over the long term. This transition, which has already begun, will be made possible through the development of community capacity and increasing funding to CLBC.

9. CLBC and Ministry of Health to assess and model needs of the older cohort of individuals with developmental disabilities and develop a three-year plan to meet those needs and ensure early planning with families.

10. Reinforce government’s accountability and responsibility for CLBC through more effective use of legislative authorities. The Province will require the development of standards for tracking and prioritizing service requests and identification of assessment tools.
a. A permanent appeal mechanism will be established for families.
b. The Office of the Advocate for Quality Service will continue to provide support to families and individuals.
c. Where the Representative for Children and Youth has been involved in supporting a young person before the age of 19 or their family, she will be given the capacity to continue supporting them through their transitioning years.

11. Recognizing the nature and growth of caseload, and the need to provide different types of programs for a new generation of individuals with developmental disabilities, government has been tracking the funding requirements in the contingency allowance, and will draw down the contingencies vote by $40 million starting in 2012/13 to implement these recommendations.

12. Support ongoing innovation in the sector, and recognize and support the innovations developed, championed and undertaken by families and individuals.

Municipal Core Services...

Every so often - your local government, whether in Williams Lake (2003) or Prince George (PG) (2012) decides to do a sit-down with consultants to decide if the services provided by local governments are in the local taxpayers' best interest

Tonight - PG City Council will receive a report from their Select Committee on a Core Services Review asking that the draft Terms of Reference/Work Plan be approved.  Read the Committee's report here

In the meantime - the Committee noted this:

categorizing services as legislated (required by law), core (fundamental to city operations), contractual, or discretionary services not affected by contract

The above definition is something all local governments (municipal council/regional district) should bear in mind when deciding to take over programs that Victoria/Ottawa has abandoned.  This also applies to existing services - whether or not to expand or continue.  In fact - CRD Area 'D' Director Deb Bischoff is looking into all Cariboo Regional District local gov't services that Electoral Area 'D' participates in including Central Cariboo Victim Services, Central Cariboo Recreation and Central Cariboo Cemetery as a few examples and asking residents' if they are satisfied with these services and if they desire to continue to financially participate or not... the principle being "continuous improvement"

Meanwhile - the City of Williams Lake should look at 2013 around an public engagement of all services provided by the City and look to the public and ask which ones the City should continue to provide and the ones perhaps the City should get out off.  When engaging the public in 2013 - the services provided should be categorized into Legislated, Core and Non-Legislated

Legislated - a service like Water/Sewer
Core - services like RCMP, Fire Department Recreation and Snow Removal
Non-Legislated - services like Arts/Culture, beautification, Park/Trail Management or Development

An exercise like this could show the public the true cost of services (ie - RCMP in Williams Lake consumes roughly 30% of City of WL's Operations Budget) and the public can determine which services they want to remain and which ones should be terminated

Finally - every local government, in the vein of "continuous improvement", should be always asking its' residents, before discussing initial budget targets for the forthcoming budget year, if they are satisfied with local gov't services and if they want them expanded or cut back... This could be done by way of Facebook page and also via a free online survey like Survey Monkey, the results of which could be presented to the local Regional District Finance Committee or related structure or the local municipal council prior to it giving preliminary direction to Staff to develop the upcoming municipal budget

I believe this would be a very worthwhile exercise with the public and probably would lead to better satisfaction levels with the local government


Alan Forseth on restoration of BC Gaming Funds...

At the request of my readers... here is my Uncle (and BC Conservative Regional Director for Kamloops area) Alan Forseth's take on restoration of BC Gaming Funds as written on Thursday, January 12th

Read here

Coaching people into political process...

Today, my uncle (and BC Conservative Regional Director for Kamloops region) Alan Forseth has a good blog post about encouraging people to become engaged in our political process... you can read his very good blog post here

Public Comment Period starts for New Prosperity Mine Project...

Earlier today, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) released the draft Terms of Reference for the Review Panel reviewing the New Prosperity Mine Project and you can read that here

As well - the CEAA has released the draft guidelines for the EIS or Environmental Impact Statement - you can read that here

Comments on both the draft guidelines for the EIS and the draft Terms of Reference for the Review Panel must be sent in by no later than Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012, as follows:

Email: NewProsperityReview@ceaa-acee.gc.ca


Livain Michaud, Panel Manager
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
160 Elgin Street, 22nd Floor
Ottawa ON K1A 0H3

Telephone:  1-613-948-1359 (Ottawa) or Toll-Free at 1-866-582-1884
Fax:  1-613-957-0941 (Ottawa)

As well - the groups getting participant funding of $90,000 are as follows:

1) Friends of Nemaiah Valley - $19,000
2) BC Sierra Club - $18,603
3) MiningWatch Canada - $15,885
4) Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce - $12,676
5) Environmental Mining Education Foundation - $12,285
6) Share the Cariboo – Chilcotin Resources Society - $11,356
7) Federico G. Osorio - $1,195

You can read the Committee report recommending the above amounts here

This puts a potential timeline (my view) of a Review Panel for the New Prosperity Mine Project being in this region by April or even May of 2012 - stay tuned!


CRD Town Hall Mtgs - Week of Jan 23-28

A number of Cariboo Regional District (CRD) Town Hall Meetings are occurring this week:

Monday - Area 'I' at 7:00pm - West Fraser Fire Hall (Director J. Glassford/CRD Staff in attendance)

Wednesday - City of WL at 7:00pm - WL Council Chambers (Director K. Cook/CRD Staff in attendance

Thursday - District of 100 Mile at 7:00pm - 100 Mile Council Chambers (Director M. Campsall/CRD Staff in attendance

Thursday - District of Wells at 7:00pm - Wells Council Chambers (Directors R. Sharpe/J. Massier & CRD Staff in attendance

Saturday - Areas 'J' and 'K' at 1:00pm - Tatla Lk Community Hall (Directors R. William and C. Mernett & CRD Staff in attendance)

If you live in Electoral Areas 'I', 'J', or 'K', the District of Wells/100 Mile House and the City of Williams Lake - come out this week to the CRD's Town Hall Meetings and provide your input on the 2012 CRD Budget and any other issues that may be on your mind, in relation to Cariboo Regional District local government services (ie: library, recreation, Arts/Culture, Victim Services, etc)