Wednesday, February 29, 2012

BREAKING NEWS - BC Teachers vote to strike

Just a few minutes ago (Source: CBC) - the BC Teachers Federation announced that 87% of those who voted said they wanted to escalate the current job action

Break-down of votes:

Yes - 27,946 - 87%
No -    4,263 - 13%

Total votes cast - 32,209

Update - Press Release from BC Teachers Federation:

Members of the BC Teachers’ Federation have voted overwhelmingly to resist the unjust actions of the provincial government in yet again moving to impose a contract on the province’s 41,000 public school teachers.

A total of 27,946 teachers voted yes in a province-wide vote conducted February 28 and 29, 2012. In all, 32,209 teachers cast ballots, of whom 87% voted yes.

“Teachers are determined and united in their opposition to Bill 22 and to the bullying tactics of a provincial government that has deliberately underfunded public education for a decade,” said Susan Lambert, president of the BC Teachers’ Federation.

Bill 22, tabled yesterday in the Legislature, seeks to impose a net-zero contract, to restrict the ability to negotiate improved learning conditions, and to eliminate fundamental civil and labour rights for teachers.

“The results of our province-wide vote are strong evidence of the unity and determination of BCTF members in rejecting this government’s provocative and damaging legislation,” Lambert said.

BCTF Executive Committee members will meet Thursday to review the vote results and discuss the next steps in the job action.

Rick Mercer on 'Robocall' Scandal

Via Huffpost Politics - Rick Mercer 'rants' on the 'Robocall' scandal inflicting Ottawa.

I believe this issue will play out in Ottawa for a period of time to come or at least until the Federal Budget comes out...


George Abbott on Bill 22 (Education Improvement Act)

Courtesy of Government of BC:

BC's Minister of Education, the Hon. George Abbott today issued the following statement:

“Yesterday I introduced Bill 22 - the Education Improvement Act, legislation designed to suspend the current job action by teachers, set a ‘cooling off’ period, appoint a mediator to facilitate bargaining, and implement a new $165-million Learning Improvement Fund.

“Most people are characterizing the bill as a ‘measured, thoughtful, balanced and constructive’ approach to a dispute that has been going on for almost a year with little chance of a resolution.

“If you look at the history of the relationship between the teachers’ union and the government in this province, you’ll soon realize that in almost 20 years of provincewide bargaining the BCTF has only successfully concluded one negotiated agreement. You will also realize that Bill 22 is a measured and appropriate response to the current situation.

“I am disappointed by the initial comments coming from the teachers’ union. In the most frustrating example – the union has been asking for mediation. Now, they are rejecting the idea simply because the mediator is required to strike a genuine balance in the discussions by looking at what both parties want so we can put the needs of students first.

“It is simply inaccurate for the BCTF to claim that Bill 22 eliminates job security rights, professional autonomy rights and rights to due process. In fact, the bill makes no changes to any of these matters. What it does do is simply get the parties back to the table with a mediator to deal with the issues at hand in a constructive and thoughtful way.

“I am always concerned that the statements by the teachers’ union will get in the way of teachers receiving accurate and factual information about the legislation. It is one of the reasons why I hosted a Twitter chat to talk to teachers about the new bill. I enjoyed the opportunity to communicate directly with many teachers via Twitter.

“I hope the teachers’ union will drop the rhetoric and help us move forward. I’m hoping that cooler heads will prevail and that people will engage in the very meaningful mediation process that has been set out in this bill.

“I also hope that, for the first time in a long time, we'll be able to get the kind of engagement that produces an agreement among the adults in the room so that kids in the classroom benefit.”

City of WL CAO blasts Forseth

This past Sunday, I suggested to Williams Lake Mayor Cook & the City of WL CAO that a 'Letter of Appreciation' be sent to both Wildwood/150 Mile Fire Departments for their timely assistance to back up our local Fire Department with the fire at the former Williams Inn & the 'chlorine incident' at the Sam Ketchum Pool

Read the above blog post with the response from City of WL CAO Brian Carruthers from Feb 26th at 8:58pm here

It was my opinion that my blog readers' wanted to hear what his response to my request was.

In the meantime - I have not replied to his email of Sunday evening as there was no point of doing so and nothing positive or good would have been gained, from my perspective

If he had simply said "Thanks, we'll take your suggestion under advisement", there would have not been an issue and this is confirmed by one reader who commented on Sunday's blog post this past Monday evening.   In the course of my discussions of various items with other local governments - this is the usual response I receive, regardless from School District #27, the City of Quesnel or the Cariboo Regional District.

However, the City of WL CAO elected to send me the following yesterday morning (with copies to all members of Williams Lake City Council & City of Williams Lake Management Team & the local RCMP Detachment Commander)

I am extremely disappointed to see my recent correspondence with you posted on your blog. Anyone who hides behind a computer screen and throws barbs at people without ‘looking them in the eye’ has no credibility with me. I do not believe you have any credentials as a Chief Administrative Officer or any other capacity in local government administration nor have you been successful in getting elected as either a City Councillor or CRD Director. I appreciate you have opinions about how the City is operated and governed. However, your method of communicating your opinions and criticism is cowardly. I have been nothing but respectful to you over the years, in spite of some of the less than flattering attacks and statements you have made about me on your blog and in the media. I have no doubt you will post this message on your blog and all the power to you. From this point on, please pass on any comments, concerns or suggestions you may have to one of our elected officials. I have no interest in hearing them.

I profoundly regret his last email to me however I respect & acknowledge his right to do so.

I'm not sure why he felt the need to copy City of WL Senior Staff on this email but I understand and appreciate the need to copy all members of WL Council on the email to me.   In addition, I fail to see the need to refer to previous civic elections while commenting on the merits or demerits of suggesting a course of action to the City of Williams Lake elected and appointed officials

Some readers' have expressed sympathy with Mr. Carruthers' frustration but agree a simple 'Thank You' would have sufficed while others express support of Mr. Carruthers' email to me of Sunday, Feb 26th at 8:58pm and I had deserved the response of Mr. Carruthers.

In the meantime, Williams Lake City Councillor SPS Rathor has contacted me and indicates that he'll be requesting a meeting of Williams Lake Council to discuss this issue

Finally - despite this hiccup, I still plan to take an active interest in municipal affairs in Williams Lake in addition to the rest of the Cariboo-Chilcotin region with the elected officials, but this shows how much the 'power of the word' can have with individuals.... either rightly or wrongly and it shows how careful you have to be in phrasing 'suggestions' to others and whether or not it is worth the effort


Quesnel/100 Mile News.. Feb 29th edition

In Quesnel:

a) West Fraser Mills CEO predicts higher lumber prices - read here
b) Quesnel boy still in hospital after Sunday's 'Chlorine Incident' at CMRC in Williams Lake - read here.  In addition, WL City Councillor Surinderpal Rathor paid a visit to this boy at the Cariboo Memorial Hospital.  Read details here

c) Could the 'chlorine incident' that occurred in Williams Lake happen in Quesnel?  Quesnel City Staff say 'no' - read here
d) 'Dark Day for Education' says Teri Mooring - President of Quesnel Teachers' Association - read here

In 100 Mile House:

a) South Cariboo Meat Co-op to be formally dissolved by mid-August - read here
b) CRD funds upgrades to Rolf Zeis Memorial Arena - read here
c) Donna Barnett: 'No more money for education' - read here
d) Charlie Wyse: BC Liberals 2012 BC Budget 'fails' - read here
e) Future of 'Gateway' Water System - read here
f) BC Health Coalition: 'BC Budget irresponsible' - read here

Rick Hansen Monument Fundraiser on March 10th

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

There will be a fundraiser on Saturday, March 10, to raise funds for the new Rick Hansen Monument at New World Coffee and Tea House. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., New World will serve coffee and tea by donation. All proceeds will go to the funding of the monument at the Tourism Discovery Centre. The monument will be in place in time for Hansen’s arrival March 25th as part of his 25th Anniversary Tour.

Fundraising for this project is nearly complete, and we invite anyone interested in helping fund this monument to a hometown hero to join us at New World Coffee and Tea House for a cup of coffee or tea,” says Councillor Surinderpal Rathor. “This has always been a community project, and we’d love to build on the generous support of our donors so far.”

The monument will be unveiled Monday, March 26 at 11 a.m. at the Tourism Discovery Centre. A community celebration is planned for March 25, beginning at 4 p.m. at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex.

Pink Shirt Day / BC Anti-Bullying Day

Today (Feb 29th) is Pink Shirt Day & BC Anti-Bullying Day ...

Pink Shirt Day got its' start in Nova Scotia due to a bullying incident because a student wore a pink shirt

Today - school students are asked to wear a 'pink shirt' to symbolize a stand against bullying in all forms... see the 'Pink Shirt Day' website here

At the Feb 21st Williams Lake City Council Meeting - a delegation presented seven (7) 'Pink Shirts' for members of Williams Lake Council  to wear today...

I congratulate all students in our local School Districts for standing up for bullying.  I have some personal experience in this regard as I suffered through bullying when attending both Williams Lake Junior Secondary/Columneetza Senior Secondary and like many victims - I never reported it but just accepted it

Finally - yesterday, there was an Anti-Bullying "Flash Mob" at the BC Legislature.  See video below:

However, some took exception to the Anti-Bullying 'Flash Mob' - read here

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New WLCTV Episode...

Rick Roy, from, has uploaded the most recent episode

In the latest episode:

1) Interview with former WL City Councillor Tom Barr
2) Interview with Steelworkers Local 1-425 President Paul French
3) Poetry at the Gecko Tree

BCTF responds to Bill 22 (Back to Work Legislation)

Courtesy of

The BCTF has harsh words for Bill 22.

And a full scale walkout is not being ruled out.

BCTF President Susan Lambert is blasting Bill 22, calling the document highly political, and the worst possible outcome.

She says the union hasn't had a chance to completely look over the bill at this point.

That will happen by the executive at some point tonight.

As for the chance of a full scale strike, despite the threat of some hefty fines placed upon teachers and the union, Lambert says it's up to the membership and she isn't ruling anything out.

She says the bill completely ignores the needs of students, calling it a further assault on the profession.

NDP leader Adrian Dix says the opposition will not support Bill 22.

Dix says the bill is simply an admission of Liberal failures, and does not present a chance for "real" mediation.

Meantime BC Liberal House Leader Rich Coleman says it may take up to two weeks to fully debate the bill---and teachers can legally strike until it's passed.

Update (Feb 28th at 4:40pm):    

Global BC               

CFJC-TV Kamloops

Budget Meeting #3 - Quesnel City Council

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel:

Quesnel City Council met for the third time on the budget to:

-Conduct the formal public input session.
-Review the Legislative, Community Support, and Fees for Service portions of the budget.

As of last night's meeting, a tax increase of 4.34% is being considered. Council will deal with a number of other budget items in March and April that may affect that increase, including:

-Setting tax rates for the various classes.
-Determining tax shifting between classes.
-Determining appropriate reserve allocations.

Dollar figures or percentages referred to in Budget 2012 news are subject to change and should not be considered final until the budget process is complete.

Public provides budget input

Council hosted the formal public input session, and while the gallery was far from full, some valuable input was received. One individual voiced his displeasure with the prospect of a tax increase and rising costs, while another said he was happy with the taxes he pays and thanked Council for their commitment to the job. Lastly, a representative from the Quesnel horseshoe Pitchers Club asked for help in sourcing a new lawnmower to maintain their grounds. That request was referred to future budget discussions.

Council approves legislative budget

Council reviewed their 2012 legislative budget, approving a number of changes. The budget for 2012 is $266,542, which includes $7,500 for Council training that was added this year.

That funding was split so that the Mayor and each Councillor received an additional $1,000 in their travel and training budget, with $500 added to the Council Lobby Travel account. Each Councillor now has a $5,000 allocation for travel, conferences and training.

The increase in Council's pay for 2012 is 2.4% ($340/year for each Councillor, $993 for the Mayor.)

Community supported in budget

Council also gave preliminary approval to a list of Community Support and "fee-for-service" items. These budgets are assigned to groups and organizations that provide a service or manage facilities on behalf of the City of Quesnel.

See full list of Community Support & "Fee-for-Service" here

'Back to Work' for BC Teachers' Introduced (Bill 22)

Courtesy of the Government of BC:

Government introduced Bill 22 today, the Education Improvement Act, that suspends the teachers’ strike action and sets a “cooling off” period, appoints a mediator to facilitate bargaining, and implements a new $165-million Learning Improvement Fund and other enhancements to K-12 education. See the full bill here

Editor's Note - Rich Coleman (Government House Leader) this afternoon noted that it could take two (2) weeks to pass/adopt Bill 22

Bill 22 imposes a cooling off period and suspends the teachers’ union strike action while calling on the assistance of a mediator. The legislation does not impose a new contract. Rather, it extends the previous collective agreement to cover the mediation period, with the goal of reaching a negotiated agreement by the beginning of summer. If there is no agreement, then the mediator will issue a report by June 30, 2012 with non-binding recommendations.

The mediator will work to balance the interests of employers and employees and their mandate includes the ability to help find agreement on manner and consequences of class organization and the local-provincial split of bargaining issues. Their mandate also requires that any proposed solutions must not result in net new costs for school districts.

The Education Improvement Act also includes several initiatives that will benefit teachers, including the Learning Improvement Fund to help teachers meet complex needs in their classrooms and the restoration of class size and related matters to the scope of collective bargaining. The legislation streamlines and sets the stage for more effective consultations between teachers and administrators on class organization matters and mandates additional compensation for teachers where class size exceeds 30 students. Collectively, the improvements serve as the government’s response to last year’s B.C. Supreme Court decision on Bills 27 and 28.

Hon. George Abbott, BC's Minister of Education says –

“We’re putting more money into the classroom, we’re improving supports for students and teachers, we’re providing additional teacher compensation where class size exceeds the student limit, and we’re restoring the opportunity to bargain class size and related matters. Taken together, these are significant gains that recognize the important role and contribution of teachers.”

“We are not prepared to see a school year pass without every parent in B.C. getting a full accounting of how their children are progressing in school. We are particularly concerned about the impact on vulnerable students. Using legislation to resolve stalled negotiations is never the preferred option, but we need to end the disruptive strike that’s creating a strain in our schools and classrooms.”
“We are hopeful that a mediator can help the parties achieve a negotiated agreement, in keeping with the more than 100 agreements already achieved under the government’s bargaining mandate.”

“The employers are prepared to talk about how to improve benefits for teachers, how to ensure the right teachers are matched to the right jobs and how to support good teachers so they can become great teachers. We hope that mediation can also re-engage the parties in a discussion of how we can make a great education system even better.”

“We hope the teachers’ union will take a constructive approach and respect the cooling off period. However, if they choose a different path, the legislation includes stiff financial consequences for illegal strike action.” The fines are $475 for every teacher per day, $1.3 million for the BC Teachers' Federation per day and for the BCPSEA (BC Public Schools Employer Association) it will be $200,000 per day

LRB rules Teacher may conduct 'Limited Strike'

Earlier today - the Labour Relations Board or LRB ruled that BC Teachers may conduct a 'Limited Strike' in that teachers' may strike for "3 days in a 7 day period" and then strike one day for subsequent weeks, provided two (2) days notice is given

More details here

Editor's Note - no word on local response yet.... but the "back to work" legislation will be tabled this afternoon so it'll be interesting to see what George Abbott's staff have put together... is it the same legislation as in 2005 and will the political debate in the BC Legislature follow the same path as it did in 2005.  As well - it'll be interesting to see how mediation will truly work - when 2 billion gap on wages... mediation on 'non-monetary' issues is probably doable.  Hope the government/BC Teachers' Federation will mediate on 'non-monetary' issues... 

WL News - Feb 28th edition

In the news today...

1) Local teachers prepare for strike vote Wednesday - see here
2) Xeni Gwet'in goes 'international' to point out its' plight - see here
3) Success story at TRU - read here
4) A look at 'Potato House' and its' success story - read here
5) Child still in hospital after Sunday's "Chlorine Incident" - read here
6) 'Overwhelming' response for assistance to fire victims' in last week's fire at former Williams' Inn - read here and here
7) Donna Barnett: BC Budget 2012 'responsible' - read here
8) Audrey MacLise: More work on mobility required in City of WL - read here
9) Herb Nakada: Climate change 'not a hoax' - read here

Monday, February 27, 2012

Quesnel on 'West Coast Escapes' TV

On Jan 25th, 2011 - The City of Quesnel and area were the subject of a episode of "West Coast Escapes TV" - see their website here and they did an excellent job putting Quesnel & Area in a very good/positive light...

My public thanks to Quesnel City Councilor Scott Elliot for pointing this episode out on Facebook


Heckling in provincial/federal legislatures

As a matter of political discussion - often you will see government/opposition MLA's and MP's heckling, in good, clean fun but, from time to time, heckling will degenerate into 'shouting matches' and can bring the BC Legislature or the House of Commons into 'disrepute'

Last week, the BC Liberals 'Chief Heckler' (and member of Kamloops-South Thompson) Kevin Krueger came very close to be ejected by BC Legislature's "Deputy Chair - Committee of the Whole" Doug Horne (Coquitlam - Burke Mountain, BC Liberal) after 'pushing the limits' heckling at Ind. MLA for Delta South Vicki Huntingdon and BC NDP MLA for Alberni-Pacific Rim Scott Fraser

Read a blog post on this from BC Conservatives' Kamloops Regional Director Alan Forseth here

For myself - heckling can be good and clean fun, if done in moderation and done appropriately but as last week's case shows - it can make you look bad if done inappropriately  and I hope Kevin Krueger (who I like as a MLA, although not my local MLA) took the time to review his actions of last Thursday and hopefully there'll be changes to how he heckles in the BC Legislature in the future...


Challenging idea 'vote for BC Conservatives is vote for BC NDP'

On his blog today - Alex G Tsakumis writes a good op-ed on the idea that A vote for the BC Conservatives equals a vote for the BC New Democrats in 2013

Read his interesting blog post here

Future of BC's Carbon Tax

Earlier today - CBC: Daybreak North interviewed Cariboo-North MLA (Ind) Bob Simpson, Hon. Terry Lake (BC Environment Minister) and Todd Wickham (former NDP Candidate & Associate Professor of Chemistry - UNBC) on the future of the Carbon Tax

The interview is 10 mins long and includes debates around impacts of the carbon tax on various parts of the province (impact on residents in Metro Vancouver vs impacts on residents in Rural BC).  Bob Simpson predicted that the Carbon Tax will stay and challenged those (ie: BC Conservatives) who say the Carbon Tax should go and asks Where will the $1 billion to 'ditch' the Carbon Tax come from? In addition, Mr. Wickham challenged the notion that the Carbon Tax is 'revenue neutral' by explaining when the carbon tax costs 'him' more than government, then it should be revenue 'positive' for the provincial government

And I, for one, think Bob Simpson asks the right question.. If those, like BC Conservatives', want to dissolve the Carbon Tax - then they'll have to eventually explain where/how they'll make up the $1 billion in lost revenue

Listen to the full radio interview here

Investigation into 'Chlorine Incident' underway

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

An investigation into the cause of the Feb. 26 chlorine incident at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex is underway.

A number of City personnel, as well as an independent health and safety consultant are currently at the Complex conducting the investigation. The pool and the fitness centre will remain closed until the investigation is complete. The ice rinks remain open to the public. The Gibraltar Room will re-open Tuesday.

The City will notify residents when the investigation is complete and when the closed areas of the Complex will re-open to the public. The City will not speculate at this time as to the causes of the incident, preferring instead to await the outcome of the investigation.

Information will be released as it becomes available. Updates will be posted to,, and at

'New Prosperity' Exploratory Work recommences...

Courtesy of Taseko Mines:

Taseko Mines Limited announces that the temporary injunction preventing the Company from undertaking routine exploration work on the New Prosperity site pending a BC Supreme Court Judicial Review, has been vacated by court order.

On (Tuesday) February 28, 2012 Taseko will commence a reduced scope of work that will be undertaken for the sole purposes of obtaining information required for the Federal environmental assessment of the proposed New Prosperity Project. On this basis, the parties have agreed not to further pursue existing legal actions.

For further information on Taseko, please see the Company's website

Editor's Note - I'm pleased to see all parties come to resolution on this file to do the routine exploratory work for the 'New Prosperity' project.  Now - only if the parties could agree on 'New Prosperity' itself....

WQLS Open House on March 8th

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel:

An Open House dealing with the West Quesnel Land Stability 2012 Work Plan has been scheduled for Thursday March 8 in the gymnasium at Voyageur Elementary School. The session will begin at 6 p.m., with City staff and engineering contractors on hand to speak with residents in a one-on-one setting. This will be followed by a formal presentation at 7 p.m., which will outline the work that is scheduled to take place this year.

"City Council pledged to keep our residents, property owners and business community informed regarding the West Quesnel Land Stability Program. This Open House is another avenue that allows us to reach out and let people know about the progress we're making," said Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom. "I encourage people to attend the Open House, speak one-on-one with our engineers and learn more about the 2012 Work Plan."

As part of an ongoing public information campaign, the City recently sent two newsletters to all residents and businesses within the City boundaries, as well as out-of-town property owners. The first, sent in early January detailed plans for the upcoming year, and provided a brief look at the progress to date and some next steps. The second newsletter, sent in mid-February, publicized the Open House while also answering some frequently asked questions.

The full-scale dewatering program is designed to help reduce land movement in the West Quesnel Land Stability study area. Work is already underway on the $4.7 million project that will see the installation of 14 pumping wells, nine horizontal drain sites consisting of more than 70 drains, and storm water system improvements for West Quesnel and area residents.

Information about the West Quesnel Land Stability Program is found at More than $3.1 million was provided by the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia, through the Building Canada Fund-Communities Component program, part of Canada's Economic Action Plan for this project. The City of Quesnel also contributed more than $1.5 million to pay for the full-scale dewatering program. In addition to the federal and provincial contributions, the City of Quesnel has invested more than $2.1 million on the West Quesnel Land Stability Program since 2000.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A message of thanks to Wildwood/150 Mile Fire Departments

Over the weekend - members of the Wildwood & 150 Mile Volunteer Fire Departments (VFD) were called upon not once, but twice! to emergencies in Williams Lake (Friday night's fire at the former Williams Inn and Sunday's Chlorine Incident at the local Recreation Complex) to help out the local Williams Lake Fire Department

While true the City has a 'Mutual Aid' agreement with both of these Fire Departments - this past weekend's emergencies could have turned out worse if these two Fire Departments had emergencies in their response areas...

As such - this City of Williams Lake resident is deeply appreciative that members of both the 150 Mile House & Wildwood VFD's were able/willing to respond to two emergencies in a time span of 2 days... and I've sent an email this evening to Brian Carruthers - City of WL CAO & Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook encouraging them to do the same - both from an Staff and Political perspective to show our (Williams Lake resident) appreciation for 'having our back' as I'm confident that our residents would do the same for our rural neighbours in the Cariboo Regional District...


Update #1 (Sunday Feb 26th at 10:09pm) - 'Anonymous #1' earlier tonight told me that I forget to thank the Williams Lake firefighters and other emergency personnel, city workers, or the people who are helping the fire victims and of course, we should.  But I felt when I blogged the above - that it would be stating the obvious however I thank him/her for reminding me to thank the WL Fire Department, all city workers who assisted with the 'Howard Johnson (old Williams Inn) fire and the chlorine incident at the Sam Ketchum Pool, or those who assisted or have provided assistance to the fire victims (Howard Johnson fire) either this past Saturday or today (Sunday) by way of clothing, food, money, or other forms of assistance... if you want to help out the victims of the Howard Johnson fire, see more information here

Update #2 (Sunday, Feb 26th at 10:12pm) - As I noted earlier - I had suggested to the City CAO/Mayor Cook that a 'Letter of Appreciation' be sent to the Wildwood/150 Mile VFD's for their assistance for the two emergencies in Williams Lake this past weekend.  The bulk of the email that I sent was:

I know the last couple of days probably have been hectic with the fire at the Howard-Johnson Hotel and now the chlorine incident at the CMRC earlier today…

As it has been reported by the local media that the City’s Fire Department has called upon both Wildwood/150 Mile House Fire Departments for assistance for back-to-back emergencies (as per our Mutual Aid agreements) – I think it would be appropriate and prudent to send a “Letter of Deep Appreciation” to these two Fire Departments. Certainly – if there had been emergencies Friday night and today in Wildwood/150 Mile – the City could have easily found itself overwhelmed responding to these two emergencies…

As they say – easy to become complement with our emergency services until they are maxed to the limit with compounded emergencies in a short time span…

My suggestion would be two letters – one from administration (CAO) thanking Wildwood/150 Mile VFD’s from a ‘Staff’ perspective and one from Mayor/Council thanking, again, 150 Mile/Wildwood VFD, on behalf of the citizens of Williams Lake for backing up City emergency crews… especially in such a short time span… this could apply as well to the WL RCMP who have responded to a fair number of emergencies in the last 10 days including the fire Sat am, the chlorine incident today, and the 2 ‘false’ bomb threats in the last 10 days

I have received the following response from Brian Carruthers:

Steve, I appreciate your support of our emergency services. However, I will be frank in telling you that I really don't require you telling when and how a letter of appreciation is required from the CAO. I am very capable of knowing when and to who letters of appreciation are required. I have no issue if you want to pass on praise and support of our emergency services and I know you are trying to help but I do not require an 'arm chair' CAO. Please refrain from sending me e-mails suggesting how to do my job as it is somewhat insulting.

As requested by Mr. Carruthers - I will no longer send him or Williams Lake City Council any emails in regards to how to move the City forward on various issues... as it appears that my input is no longer welcome at Williams Lake City Hall but it would have been a good thing on his part if he had only said "Thanks for the input and we'll take it under advisement"

Chlorine Incident at Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex

Earlier today at 8:20am - there was a chlorine 'incident' which caused 70 people (including 41 children) to go to Cariboo Memorial Hospital/Health Site to be looked over.  I also understand that 2 people will stay overnight to be observed.  The rink side of the CMRC is open however the Sam Ketchum Pool/Fitness Centre & the Gibraltar Room will remain closed Monday

Lastest media information:

Welcome to Williams Lake - here/here
The Province - here

Global BC:

Christy Clark's First Year as Premier...

Around 6:30pm a year ago today - Many thousands of BC Liberal Party members' including myself took to online voting and through multiple rounds of voting selected Christy Clark to become Leader of the BC Liberal Party

Let's see her victory speech one year ago today:

She was then sworn in by the Province's Lieutenant-Governor - the Hon. Steven L. Point on Monday, March 14th, 2011 - see the story from CTV here.  She showed respect to her "opponents" by appointing them to key posts including appointing Kevin Falcon (who came 2nd in last year's BC Liberal Leadership Race) as Deputy Premier/Minister of Finance

Since then - she's been busy on trade mission, opening up the BC Government and other initiatives that was part of her election platform to become Leader of the BC Liberal Party

In the meantime - she reviews what she's done between Feb 26th, 2011 - Feb 26th, 2012 which you can read here

Finally - she does has some upcoming tasks, in my opinion, that'll need resolution..

a) Calling of By-Elections in Port Moody/Chilliwack
b) Pass legislation to impose a contract on teachers, as a result of a failure of negotiations between BC Teachers' Federation & BC Public School Employers' Association


c) My personal request -- hold a Town Hall Meeting here in Williams Lake in 2012 (she's held these in other places in the Province).  It would be good for her, the BC Liberal Party and the local MLA -- Donna Barnett (Cariboo-Chilcotin, BC Liberal) to discuss with local their issues, be it budget or other issues like (my personal request) bringing the operations of the BC Legislature including more use of Standing Committees to consider bills (both private members' and government) to allow members' of the public to have a more direct and proactive way to influence legislation which isn't allowed under the current rules in the Legislature when it is considering legislation from 1st Reading to Adoption

I, for one, look forward to her 2nd full year as Leader of the BC Liberals' and Premier of British Columbia


Saturday, February 25, 2012

BC Conservatives establish a Facebook page for Kamloops Region...

BC Conservatives, in the Kamloops-Thompson-Fraser-Nicola region, have established a Facebook to keep their supporters' aware of their activities...

See the Facebook page here

A look at Grant-in-Aides to QCF & CRD Area 'B'

Today, on her blog, Cariboo Regional District Electoral Area 'B' Director Heloise Dixon-Warren looks at Grant-in-Aide funds in CRD Electoral Areas 'A', 'B', 'C' and 'I' & how the Quesnel Community Foundation or QCF is involved... (see the QCF website here)

A very good read for those in CRD Electoral Areas 'A', 'B', 'C' and 'I' who are interested in where their Grant-in-Aide funding is going and how it is being used by the QCF

Read more here

City of WL comments on fire at Williams Inn

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

Just before 10 p.m. Friday night, the Williams Lake Fire Department received a report of a fire at one of the buildings at the Howard Johnson Hotel, directly across from Safeway on 5th Avenue.

Firefighters were initially able to start a search of the third floor of the structure, but intense fire conditions forced them out.

Thirty-one firefighters from the Williams Lake department, as well as personnel and apparatus from the 150 Mile House and Wildwood fire departments fought the fire, which destroyed the building. The main hotel and other buildings were not affected.

No building tenants or firefighters were injured in the fire. Firefighters were on scene for more than six hours fighting the fire. Emergency Social Services personnel relocated affected tenants to another building of the hotel. The cause of the fire is undetermined at this time, but does not appear suspicious.

Our thanks to the RCMP, who did an incredible job in accounting for each tenant, Emergency Social Services, who were instrumental in taking care of tenants, and to the Wildwood and 150 Mile House fire departments, who assisted for the duration of the fire,” says Fire Chief Randy Isfeld.

Caring for youth a community-wide effort

Courtesy of the Government of BC:

Sometimes it takes an entire community to make a difference. That’s the approach being taken to prevent risky youth behaviour in Williams Lake and Anahim Lake, two of only 500 communities across the globe taking part in the Communities That Care program (CTC).

Initially funded as a pilot project by the Ministry of Children and Family Development in 2009 in response to a spike in serious crime by youth, the program has just received $80,000 from the ministry so it can continue to make a positive difference in both communities.

Communities That Care brings together community members to understand and address the issues faced by their youth such as substance abuse, violence and teen pregnancy. Communities are then able to focus on prevention efforts and target resources so they can be most effective.

The Ministry of Children and Family Development, along with the Ministry of Health, the City of Williams Lake, the community of Anahim Lake, local schools, Aboriginal leaders, Williams Lake RCMP and community agencies, have worked together to identify and understand the risk factors affecting youth in these communities.

A report surveying more than 1,200 youth in 2009 included several key findings:

· A significant number of students are struggling with school.
· There are serious concerns about the early age at which young people experiment with and begin using alcohol on a regular basis.
· The community has high levels of tolerance toward anti-social behaviour.

As a result of the challenges identified, two evidence-based programs – Positive Outcomes and Roots of Empathy – were implemented in schools in the fall of 2010 and expanded to more schools in 2011. With funding in place for the year ahead, these programs will benefit more than 1,600 youth.

Minister Mary McNeil recently visited Williams Lake to meet with some of the other partners in the Communities That Care program. The Williams Lake and Anahim Lake program is one of two CTC programs funded by the ministry in B.C. The program has also been implemented in the Sea-to-Sky region.

Mary McNeil, Minister of Children and Family Development said –

The Communities That Care program is a great example of how governments and communities can work together to ensure that vulnerable children and youth grow up in a healthy and safe environment. These collaborative, community-based approaches are what make real differences in communities.”

Donna Barnett, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA also commented –

The CTC program has brought everyone together to support young people to reach their potential. I’m proud of the work being done by all of the dedicated partners in Williams Lake and Anahim Lake.”

Kerry Cook, mayor of Williams Lake further stated –

I am so pleased that Minister McNeil was able to recently visit us in Williams Lake and see first-hand the positive results of the wonderful work Communities That Care performs, and the collaborative approach that leads to successful outcomes.

Will Van Osch, Cariboo-Chilcotin board of education chair says –

The school district is starting to see some reduction in high-risk behaviour and is encouraged with the level of community commitment to improve the prospects for youth in the district. The funding support received from the provincial government will help continue to build a better future for our youth.”

Peter Bowman, principal of Sxoxomic Community School says –

The teachers use Positive Action at the beginning of the school day and they’ve noticed that it really focuses and grounds the kids. They actually have more instructional time in the classroom because they’re spending less time on managing behaviour.

Warren Brown, Williams Lake RCMP inspector finally stated –

One of the greatest outcomes to date of the CTC program, in addition to creating a positive learning and social environment for youth, is the strengthened and reinforced relationships amongst the community stakeholders. The program model has encouraged the community ‘contributors’ to speak openly, share information and ideas, and trust each others’ opinions and input. This engagement has also benefitted other committees and projects.”

Quick Facts:

· CTC is a community-based, prevention-focused approach to promoting positive, healthy behaviour among youth while understanding the root causes of negative behaviour.

· CTC focuses on bringing the community together to address six problem behaviours among youth:
o Substance abuse
o Delinquency
o Violence
o Teen pregnancy
o School drop out
o Depression and anxiety

· The CTC model was developed at the University of Washington by the Social Development Research Group.
· It promotes a data-driven approach to decision making about addressing risk factors that increase the likelihood that youth will be involved in problem behaviour.
· The program is tailored to the needs, issues and resources of each community.

Dissatisfaction 'at boiling point' with Interior Health...

In reviewing the minutes of the Cariboo-Chilcotin Regional Hospital District (CCRHD) Board Meeting of Friday, February 17th (Minutes here) - I noted the following Resolution:

Moved Director Al Richmond (Electoral Area 'G')
Seconded Director Mitch Campsall (100 Mile):

“That a request be sent to Northern Health and Interior Health requesting the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District be included entirely within Northern Health’s jurisdiction.”

The above Resolution has been deferred (no date given for renewed consideration).  This was opposed by 100 Mile Director (and Mayor) Mitch Campsall and CRD Electoral Area 'E' Director Byron Kemp

In plain English - the above Resolution means that the CCRHD Board is requesting that all operations of Interior Health in Williams Lake and 100 Mile House be moved from Interior Health to Northern Health

My opinion was confirmed in an email from CRD Chair & Area 'G' Director Al Richmond in which he states:

That would be the idea. I expect it may be difficult to get them to agree to it but the discussion might assist us in bringing to the forefront the growing dissatisfaction we have with IH

Now - this is not the first time this area has had this type of discussion.  In fact in 2010 - residents' in CRD Area 'D' asked Director Deb Bischoff about the possibility to move Interior Health operations in Williams Lake to Northern Health.  See more information on this here

I, for one, fully applaud Al Richmond for this initiative and just maybe Interior Health will wake up and smell the coffee and fully understand/appreciate that people (and their elected representatives) are truly dissatisfied with how our local health-care system is being operated

If the status-quo remains with Interior Health - I hope that the CCRHD Board & Municipal Councils' in Williams Lake/100 Mile House will then have a discussion with Mike De Jong (provincial health minister) allowing Williams Lake & 100 Mile Health Services to be forcibly moved from Interior Health to Northern Health and should that happen - I doubt there would be any complaints from local residents'.  

Finally - there seems to be less complaints with Northern Health in Quesnel than complaints from Williams Lake/100 Mile House with Interior Health

Story Update: Fire at Williams Inn site

Welcome to Williams Lake is reporting that one building (Building 'D') at the Howard Johnson Motel (old Williams Inn) is completely destroyed

See the updated story with pictures here

Also - check out their Facebook page with the 'online conversation' and more pictures/videos here

Major Changes to SD #27 Agenda forthcoming...

At their Tuesday meeting - the Board of Education for School District #27 will be making some dramatic changes to its' Agenda Structure as follows:

Meeting time - At 6:30pm, down from 7:00pm


a) Call to Order
b) Approval of Agenda
c) Approval of Minutes
d) Receipt of Closed Meeting Report
e) Public Participation (no longer than 30 minutes)
f) Action Items
g) Discussion Items
h) Information Items
i) Public Participation continued... (no longer than 15 minutes and must complete before 10:30pm to allow the Board to adjourn)
j) Adjourn

Under Public Participation - there will be 2 periods (1st period of 30 mins and 2nd period of 15 mins) to address the Board.

Read the New Procedure Bylaw here and the New Public Participation Policy here

I fully applaud the Board of Education for School District #27 for this initiative and I only wish Williams Lake City Council/Cariboo Regional District Board had something like this for their meetings...


Update Story - Use of Breathalyzers' in School District #27

Yesterday - I wrote on my own thoughts around use of breathalyzers' in School District #60 (Fort St John) and work being done on policy regulating use of them in School District #73 (Kamloops) - read that here

I also noted that on Friday, Feb 17th - I wrote to Diane Wright (Superintendent of Schools - School District #27) requesting information on use of breathalyzers' in School District #27

Since then - I wrote to the Board of Education for School District #27 yesterday (Feb 24th) on this subject and requested that they formally look into this issue and consider referring this to their Policy Committee & in addition requesting a report from their Superintendent (D. Wright) on this subject - you can read my letter to the Board here

Finally - I received a response from Diane Wright on my email inquiry on Feb 17th late yesterday as follows:

Good day Steve,
I have been reviewing me email correspondence this afternoon. I see that you have sent a letter regarding this matter to the Board of Education chair. Therefore, I will not reply as your question has been forwarded. Diane

Friday, February 24, 2012

DEVELOPING STORY: Fire at Williams Inn

Earlier this evening - RCMP and WL Fire Department responded to a fire at Williams Inn, however since then, WL Fire Department has called for backup from 150 Mile and Wildwood Fire Departments, as per the 'Mutual Aid' agreements with these fire departments...

See more pics/video here

Quesnel Council/SD #27 Board Meet next wk

On Monday at 7pm in Quesnel Council Chambers - Quesnel Council will have Budget Meeting #3 which includes a formal Public Input Session.  Have concerns or suggestions about the 2012 Budget for the City of Quesnel - come out and let your elected officials in Quesnel know them

Read the Agenda/Reports here

Then on Tuesday at 7pm in the SD #27 Boardroom - the Board of Education for School District #27 will meet

Read the Agendas/Reports here

Government, Spending and John Cummins...

Over at - former BC Attorney-General Geoff Plant says: Lots of people will bring forward lots of spending ideas but we must ask - how will we, as a society, determine which ideas go forward and which ones will be deferred to future years - read here

Meanwhile - veteran Vancouver Sun political columnist Vaughn Palmer says if John Cummins wants to cut taxes like the Carbon Tax and reduce spending and be taken seriously as a 'government-in-waiting' like the opposition BC New Democrats - his party (BC Conservatives') will have to have, like the BC NDP, a fully costed platform to show to the voters' of BC for the 2013 Provincial Election -read here

Finally - former NDP MLA David Shreck looks at the narrow focus of Christy Clark's government - read here

Editor's Note - on John Cummins and his promises to reduce spending -- given health-care/education comprise nearly 70% of the total BC Budget -- I think his government (should that be the decision of voters in 2013) are going to have an extremely difficult time making ends meet, given all of the various other needs that come up at budget time.  The only way I can see Mr. Cummins and his party make in-roads on the provincial budget is to ratchet the move towards privatization of health-care and that has been rejected by average BC'ers to date - with both NDP/BC Liberals' provincial governments in place over the last 30 years...

Expanding Tourism at Burns Lake

Courtesy of the Government of BC:

Over the next few weeks, staff from the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation will begin to consult and work directly with a team of community leaders and tourism stakeholders from Burns Lake on tourism planning to strengthen economic opportunities for the area.

Working closely with members of the community, business leaders, the Northern British Columbia Tourism Association and Aboriginal Tourism British Columbia, ministry staff will refresh planning previously undertaken in 2009 through the Province’s Community Tourism Foundations program to help identify any existing tourism development challenges and prioritize opportunities to support the local tourism industry.

The Village of Burns Lake currently participates in co-operative tourism marketing initiatives funded in part by the Province and co-ordinated through the Northern British Columbia Tourism Association. For fiscal 2011-12, Burns Lake has been approved for up to $9,200 in co-operative tourism marketing funding to assist in the production of a community trail map and mountain bike brochure, and to updating their photo image bank.

Since the Babine Forest Products mill accident, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Pat Bell and ministry staff having been working with local MLA John Rustad, mayor and council, First Nations chiefs, union leaders and industry representatives to help the community recover as quickly as possible.

The Province established a cross-ministry leadership group that is co-ordinating the provincial government’s response and recovery efforts. Forest industry veteran Bob Clark, vice-president of forestry consultants J.B. Clark and Co., is leading the provincial government’s on-the-ground Burns Lake economic response.

Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation stated –

We have committed to develop strategies for Burns Lake to recover economically from the Babine mill tragedy. Burns Lake is a beautiful area and is making great strides as a mountain bike destination. Therefore I have asked ministry staff to take a closer look at tourism planning for the area and work with industry stakeholders and community leaders to increase tourism opportunities.”

John Rustad, MLA Nechako Lakes also commented –

The challenge that Burns Lake is facing over the short term cannot be overstated. But the key is to look at multiple options for moving the community forward and tourism has an enormous potential to help diversify the economy.”

Finally, Anthony Everett, CEO of Northern British Columbia Tourism Association says –

"Burns Lake and the entire Lake's District is recognized by travellers for its unique beauty and activity based experiences such as mountain biking.”

“The Northern British Columbia Tourism Association, partnered with the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation and Burns Lake stakeholders, will work together to further enhance the community's tourism goals by building upon this solid foundation. Tourism is a great way for Burns Lake residents to celebrate their pride of place and further efforts to help the community recover."

Quick Facts:

· The Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation works with the B.C.’s six regional destination marketing organizations (RDMO) and communities throughout the province on tourism development initiatives.

· Two community-based programs work closely with groups looking to develop tourism in their area for both the long and short-term.

· The Community Tourism Foundations program assists communities to develop a comprehensive multi-year tourism plan. By providing a range of tools, proven resources and customized destination and market development assistance, the program can accommodate the needs of communities in various stages of tourism development.

· Community Tourism Opportunities is a provincewide program that provides co-operative funding for eligible tourism activities in communities throughout B.C. The program is designed to assist communities that are in a position to implement their own tourism building initiatives.

BC Teachers' denounce "legislated contract" (Updated)

In response to George Abbott's announcement that a Bill(s) will be forthcoming to the BC Legislature to impose a contract on teachers' - BC Teachers' Federation President Susan Lambert called the forthcoming bills "bullying legislation" - see more from CBC-BC here

In addition -- BC Teachers' will be holding 'A Day of Action' on Monday - read more details from CBC here

The last time the BC Legislature imposed a contract on teachers' in 2005 -- the BCTF went on a 2 week strike and I think it is highly probable that they'll do so again when the BC Liberal controlled BC Legislature adopts a Bill(s) to impose a contract on BC's Teachers...

However - I am concerned about the language used by the BCTF yesterday.  With 'Pink Shirt Day' (Anti-Bullying) next Wednesday and given teachers' are "Leaders" in our school communities - I'm sure that they could have found other language to express their extreme disappointment of another contract imposed on them without making references to having 'bullying legislation' imposed on them

Finally - as has been noted - the BCTF conveniently forgot to note... all other BC Public Sector Unions' have a "me too" clause which means if teachers' got a pay hike then all other public sectors' would be up for similiar raises as well.  And as I noted yesterday - the economic circumstances do not permit us to give raises to all of our public sector workers (teachers' included) at this time but when/if economic circumstances permit it - I hope the government will be fair in paying fair wages/benefits to those working on behalf of the public...


Update (Feb 24th at 3:11pm) - Teachers in Williams Lake to hold 'information picket' before/after school at Marie Sharpe Elementary on Monday ... read here

Bulk Water Station in WL 'Ready for Operation'

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

The City of Williams Lake would like to inform residents that the Smart Card Bulk Water Dispensing System at the Stampede Grounds is ready for public use.

The station, located next to the sani-station at the Stampede Grounds, uses a smart card system. The user will pre-purchase credits for bulk water on a reusable card at the front desk at City Hall. Users can then go to the bulk water station at any time and swipe the card to access water. The system will allow users to dispense the amount of water desired and give a remaining card balance. When the card credits have been exhausted, users can simply take their card back to City Hall and repeat the process of purchasing additional credits. Cards are free, but a fee of $12 will be charged for lost or stolen cards. The cost of water is $0.01 per litre.

I’m pleased the City can provide this service, as it became apparent during the wildfires of 2010 that the City required a method for bulk water haulers to be able to have access to a water source to fill their large volume potable water tanks 24 hours every day,” says Councillor Sue Zacharias, chair of the Planning and Operations Committee. “Now that the station is established at the Stampede Grounds, the City will save time and money by no longer having to service water haulers at the municipal works yard.”

The bulk water system includes a transaction log to monitor the users, amounts and times the station is being used; cross connection control devices to keep the City’s water supply safe; a water meter, and will have two sizes of water connections for bulk water to be dispensed. The sani-station will be restricted to the filling of recreational vehicles only, and bulk water haulers and other businesses that require water will be required to utilize the new bulk water station.

New Ice Rink coming to Williams Lake

Total Ice (Ice Training Facility) plans to open at the end of March

More details here

Dry Grad Committee needs volunteers ASAP

The Williams Lake Dry Grad Committee desperately needs volunteers for Dry Grad 2012 or they indicate the whole Dry Grad will be cancelled

Meeting Details:

Place - TRU Cafeteria
Time - 7:00pm
Date - Wednesday, Feb 29th, 2012

For more information, call 250-392-7121

Miocene Fire Depart. celebrates expansion...

Welcome to Williams Lake is covering the open house held by the Miocene Fire Department, in which they celebrate their expanded fire hall

Read more here

2nd Bomb Threat in a week...

Williams Lake Tribune is reporting on last night's bomb threat at 7-11 around 7:30pm which caused the shutdown of nearby businesses - Movie on the Go & Red Tomato Pies

Read more here

As the RCMP note - these acts are taken extremely seriously and charges will be laid, regardless of the reason given.  

These "false alarms" takes emergency personnel away from more serious emergencies... and I hope the person that is doing it gets caught & gets a lengthy sentence to show the general public that causing false "bomb threat" calls are taken extremely seriously by the RCMP & other emergency personnel and initiating false "bomb threat" calls comes with serious consequences...


Breathalyzer Policy for School District #27??

Last year - a Fort St John high school principal got caught using a breathalyzer in enforcing the drug/alcohol policy for secondary school students in School District #60

In the meantime - Superintendent Terry Sullivan in School District #73 heard this story and realized that his School District had no policy governing the use of breathalyzers' and as a consequence - the Board of Education for School District # 73 is looking into a policy amendments to its' existing Drug/Alcohol Policy to help govern the use of breathalyzers' - read an article from the Vancouver Sun here

The draft policy (use of breathalyzers') for use in School District #73 is, as proposed:

For greater certainty in enforcing these Regulations, school staff may conduct breathalyzer tests to confirm whether a student has used alcohol, as follows:

a) Breathalyzer tests shall be conducted by school staff who have been properly trained to do so.
b) School staff shall have reasonable suspicion that a student has used alcohol, for example due to a student’s odour or behaviour, or information provided to the administrator by other students.
c) School staff may conduct breathalyzer tests during normal school hours and extra-curricular activities.
d) If a student refuses to take the breathalyzer test, school staff may rely on such refusal to conclude that a student has been using alcohol, and the student shall then be subject to the consequences outlined in this Regulation

Read the full SD #73 Agenda Item here

In the meantime - the Board of Education for School District #73 has deferred a decision pending consultation with local parents - see the article from the Kamloops Daily News here

When I read the Kamloops Daily News story - I decided to take a look at School District 27's current policy on drug/alcohol & use of breathalyzers' which you can read the policy yourself here

When I learned it contained no language, with regards to breathalyzers' - I contacted Diane Wright - Superintendent of Schools for School District #27, as follows last Friday:

I was wondering if I may inquire as to if use of breathalyzers within School District #27 is permitted, at the moment…?

The reason I ask is that School District #73, as I understand it, is looking at policy governing the use of breathalyzers in that School District and I also understand that a school principal in Fort St John was criticized for the use of one in that school district

While I’m aware of SD #27’s Policy regarding Alcohol/Drugs on school property – I’m wondering if our School District ought to be proactive in this regard, given the proliferation of these devices (breathalyzers) and the need to ensure SD #27 Administration is not “caught off-guard” by the potential use of these devices and the potential negative media that could result if it were revealed that a principal in our school district had use one… just like the case in Fort St John

As of 4:30pm yesterday - I had not yet heard from Ms. Wright.  I think the Board of Education for School District #27 should seriously look into this issue including whether or not to include a clause in the existing Drug/Alcohol policy regarding use of breathalyzers' in secondary schools' in School District #27, lest we find ourselves in similar circumstances found in Fort St John (School District #60)

Former City of WL Finance Director hired in Tumbler Ridge

Former City of Williams Lake Director of Finance Candie Laporte has been hired by the District of Tumbler Ridge as its' Chief Financial Officer

See more here

I wish Ms. Laporte all the best in her new post and hope it works out well for her :)


Terry Lake looking at 'retirement" in 2013??

In his latest blog post today - Alan Forseth (BC Conservatives' Regional Director for the Kamloops region) looks at recent public statements of Terry Lake (Kamloops-North Thomspon) in regards to the carbon tax and whether he is looking to get out in 2013 before eventual defeat by his voters'

See the blog post here

End of Week News-Wrap -- Feb 24th edition

In Quesnel:

* Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom explains, and with good reason, why she refused to take a $2 million loan from Northern Development Initiative Trust - read here.  In the meantime - she says a decision on the $ 7 million that the City of Quesnel/Cariboo Regional District jointly applied for to go towards funding the construction of the North Cariboo Multi-Centre is expected in mid-to-late March

In Williams Lake:

* Full-time pediatrician coming to Williams Lake - read here
* 1 person breaks into 60 vehicles this past Tuesday early am - read here/here
* Big Creek 'watershed issue' must be resolved says Lana Popham, the BC NDP critic for agriculture - read here
* State of Canadian economy discussed at yesterday's Chamber of Commerce meeting - read here
* Charlie Wyse (NDP Candidate for Cariboo-Chilcotin) speaks out on 2012 BC Budget - read here
* Local industry & School District #27 partner to offer hands-on training at TRU for SD #27 students - read here
* 'Revitalized' Dog 'n Suds Restaurant re-opens - read here

In 100 Mile House:

* 100 Mile RCMP on look-out for a silver hatchback after a male offering to perform an indecent act in the presence of a female - read here

Thursday, February 23, 2012

WL City Hall to get a Dropbox??

On January 25th - I wrote WL City Councillor Geoff Bourdon, in his capacity as Chair of WL Council's General Governance Committee recommending that certain changes be made to the Council Procedure Bylaw/Council Agenda & that Council give consideration to installing a "Dropbox" to allow members of the public to drop off utility & property tax payments and other important documents so they are secured in a safe area, after office hours - read the full letter here

Meanwhile - I have a response from the City of Williams Lake, dated Feb 23rd, as follows:

The General Governance Committee met on January 31st to consider your letter which resulted in the following:

"That the letter from Steve Forseth dated January 25th, 2012 regarding his suggested changes for consideration during Council's 2011-2014 Strategic Plan Process be received and referred to future reviews of the Council Procedure Bylaw"

Please note that your recommendation on page two of your letter regarding a 'Dropbox' for City Hall has been referred to Pat Higgins, Director of Financial Services, for her investigation. If you have any questions in this regard, do not hesitate to contact the undersigned (C. Bouchard - Manager of Legislative Services) at (250) - 392-1773


CRD hands off Forest Capital designation to Province

Courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District:

On Wednesday, February 22 the Cariboo Regional District handed off the Forest Capital of Canada designation to the Province of British Columbia to celebrate the centenary of the BC Forest Service in 2012. For the past two years, the Cariboo Regional District has proudly served as Canada’s Forest Capital, hosting a celebration of our forest resources.

A ceremony took place at the Association of BC Forest Professional’s Convention in Victoria with the Honourable Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, accepting the Forest Capital plaque from CRD Chair Al Richmond and CRD Area 'C' Director John Massier.

Throughout its reign as the 2010-2011 Forest Capital of Canada the Cariboo Regional District brought awareness to the Cariboo Chilcotin forest land base through a number of different projects and events. The CRD’s Forest Capital program focused on five key industries: non-timber forest products, value-added wood products, bio-energy, eco-tourism and agriculture.

With the decline of the forest industry as a result of the US housing recession and the impact of the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation, the Regional District saw the Forest Capital of Canada program as an opportunity to look to the future and promote new, non-traditional industries emerging in forestry,” said CRD Chair Al Richmond.”

The CRD’s reign as the Forest Capital of Canada got off to a great start as it was launched during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics at the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast pavilion at BC Street. This venue showcased the many facets of our region’s forests to 475,000 spectators. 

Throughout the past two years, the CRD published a commemorative magazine Our Backyard – Forests of the Cariboo Chilcotin, which focused on the various non-traditional aspects of the forest industry through stories, poetry and photography for travellers, investors and residents wanting to learn more about local initiatives. The CRD also hosted a Forest Capital Speaker Series and hosted National Forest Week activities throughout the region, planting seedlings, and sponsoring various community events.

We consider the last two years to have been a success; our holistic approach to forestry looked at all of the economic opportunities the forest land base offers”, continued Richmond. “Even with our extremely limited budget, and small-scale projects, we were able to reach a large audience with our message.”

The Cariboo Regional District would like to thank the Canadian Forestry Association, the more than 65 community partners and sponsors who made the Forest Capital program possible, and the CRD Forest Capital Committee Chair, former Electoral Area E Director, Steve Mazur.

Further information about the Forest Capital of Canada can be found online at For more information on the 2012 BC Forest Service’s centenary celebrations, visit

TNG states 10 Reasons why 'New Prosperity' should be rejected

Earlier today - Welcome to Williams Lake reported on the attendance of Xeni Gwet'in First Nations Chief Marilyn Baptiste in Switzerland presenting a report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) 80th Session - read here

Meanwhile - the Tsilhqot'in (Chilcotin) National Government has released its' "Top Ten" reasons why 'New Prosperity' should be rejected by Ottawa:

1. The CEAA review panel process was very different from the BC EAO rubber-stamp decision. Its report found immitigable, devastating impacts to the local fish stocks and endangered grizzly populations, and to the existing and future rights of the Tsilhqot'in and its youth. Then Environment Minister Jim Prentice described the report's findings as "scathing" and "probably the most condemning I have ever read."

2. The company knows its new option is worse than its first plan. TML's V.P. Corporate Affairs, Brian Battison, was clear in his Mar. 22, 2010, opening presentation to the CEAA hearings, when he stated: "Developing Prosperity means draining Fish Lake. We wish it were otherwise. We searched hard for a different way. A way to retain the lake and have the mine. But there is no viable alternative. The lake and the deposit sit side by side. It is not possible to have one without the loss of the other."

3. The point was emphasised by TML's VP of engineering, Scott Jones, who stated: "What happens to the water quality in Fish Lake, if you try and preserve that body of water with the tailings facility right up against it, is that over time the water quality in Fish Lake will become equivalent to the water quality in the pore water of the tailings facility, particularly when it's close."

4. This proposal does not address the issues that led to the rejection of the first bid last year. Fish Lake will be affected by the toxic waste and eventually die, and it will be surrounded by a massive open pit mine and related infrastructure for decades. The Tsilhqot'in people will not have access to their spiritual place, and the area will never be returned to the current pristine state.

It is not even new. It is "Mine Development Plan 2." TML states on page 20 of its project submission: "Option 2 is the basis for the New Prosperity design …The concepts that lead to the configuration of MDP Option 2 have been utilized to develop the project description currently being proposed."

5. This option was looked at and rejected last year by the company, Environment Canada and the CEAA review panel. For example, page 65 of the review report states: "The Panel agrees with the observations made by Taseko and Environment Canada that Mine Development Plans 1 and 2 would result in greater long-term environmental risk than the preferred alternative."

6. The new $300 million in proposed spending is to cover the costs of relocating mine waste a little further away. There is nothing in the 'new' plan to mitigate all the environmental impacts identified in the previous assessment. TML states in its economic statement: "The new development design, predicated on higher long term prices for both copper and gold, would result in a direct increase in capital costs of $200 million to purchase additional mining equipment to relocate the tailings dam and to move the mine waste around Fish Lake to new locations. This redesign also adds $100 million in direct extra operating costs over the 20-year mine life to accomplish that task." In fact, this new spending is actually $37 million less than the company said last year it would have to spend just to go with the option that it and the review panel agreed would be worse for the environment.

7. The federal government is required under the Constitution to protect First Nations, which have been found to be under serious threat in this case, and is internationally committed to do so under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. These duties are every bit as clear regarding this resubmitted proposal.

8. Approving this mine would show the Environmental Assessment process is meaningless, and would demonstrate that governments are ignoring their obligations - as the Assembly of First Nations national chiefs-in-assembly made this crystal clear this summer in their resolution of support for the Tsilhqot'in.

9. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans has opposed this project since it was first raised in 1995. It soundly rejected it again last year. It has no reason to support it now. Nor does Environment Canada, which, as the CEAA report noted last year, also found option 2 to be worse than the original bid.

10. There are many other more worthy projects to be pursued - the vast majority of which, if not all will require working with aboriginal communities. Natural Resources Canada estimates there is $350 billion-$500 billion worth of such potential projects in Canada. Governments, industry and investors do not need to go backwards by pushing this confrontational proposal and rebuffing efforts by First Nations to find a way to create a better mining system that would benefit everyone in the long run.

Teachers' to have (again) legislated contract

This morning - the fact-finder that Victoria appointed to look into the possibility of a negotiated agreement between the BC Teachers' Federation and the BC Public School Employers' Association has reported back and stated that it is 'unlikely' that a negotiated contract would be forthcoming - see the press release from the Government of BC here

Meanwhile - on Twitter, George Abbott announced that legislation to impose a contract on teachers' would be drafted over the weekend and presented to the BC Legislature on Monday.  George Abbott is sad that a negotiated contract could not be arrived at

Of course, this will not be the 1st time that a contract has been imposed on BC Teachers' - this act has been done by the current BC Liberal government, it was also done by the former Glen Clark NDP government as well

Finally - one individual I talked with this morning said "Why not binding arbritation or mediation?" The real problem with this is Victoria has upcoming negotiations with the BCGEU, HEU, etc this year and if Victoria did, in fact, give a wage increase to the BC Teachers' Federation, the BC Liberals' would be bound, at least morally, to give the same to all other unions

In my humble opinion - we simply can not afford wage hikes for our public sector workers (incuding teachers') at this time.  That is not to say we, as a society, don't value their work (we do!) but the economic circumstances dictate that we can't afford their requests, at this time, but if/when economic circumstances permit it - then yes, we should afford our public workers' wage/pension hikes..


Update: George Abbott on CKNW talking about a legislated contract for teachers - read here

Link between Health and Local Recreation

In a new blog post - Cariboo Regional District Area 'B' Director Heloise Dixon-Warren looks at the idea of a link of having healthy communities through local government policy and overall public health

Read here

She does raise a good point - increasingly, there is evidence that those who lead a healthy lifestyle (and yes, local government can assist in that regard with affordable recreation opportunities) do cost the provincial health system less


WL News - Feb 23rd edition

1) Duncan Barnett from the Cariboo Cattlemen's Association expresses 'disappointment' at recent visit by Steve Thomson - Minister of Natural Resources Operations - read here

2) Workshop planned for Woodland Dr residents for future water services for that area - read here

3) 'Status Quo' for Zellers in Williams Lake - read here
4) Operation: Red Nose presentations - read here
5) Cariboo Regional District submits five resolutions for May's North Central Local Gov't Association AGM in 100 Mile House - read here
6) Local MLA's Donna Barnett (Cariboo-Chilcotin.. BC Liberal)/Bob Simpson (Cariboo-North.. Ind) speak out on BC Budget 2012 - read here

7) Money distributed for Environmental Assessment process for Spanish Mountain Gold mine project near Likely - read here
8) WL Mayor Kerry Cook breathes new life into previously defeated grant-in-aide application from local Dry Grad Committee - read here

Editor's Note - Commentor 'Jim' is not likely to be happy on this development... there is a political danger that the City/CRD could see a flood of other groups whose grant-in-aide applications were rejected and want reconsideration as well, given the precedent that Mayor Cook proposes that be set in the case of the Dry Grad 2011 Grant-in-Aide application

Update at 10:47am - Lots of discussion on this topic on the Welcome to Williams Lake Facebook page which you can read here

9) And speaking of Mayor Cook - check out her weekly column this week where she speaks about compassion - read here

Editor's Note - I was a little disappointed with this column.  The column itself didn't talk about what WL Council was up to.  Hopefully next week, she'll return to weekly columns on what Council is up to

10) Liz Twan (Tribune columnist) looks at the work local ranchers are up to - read here
11) Carole Ann Cole of Toronto looks at the movie 'Pink Ribbons' - read here
12) Finally - as I said I would - Tribune runs my letter to the editor calling upon the Cariboo Regional District Board to reject a 'Social Planning' Function for the Cariboo Regional District - read here

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CC Joint Committee Highlights - Feb 22nd meeting

Present from City of Williams Lake: Mayor Cook (CCJC Co-Chair) and Councillors Hughes, Rathor, Walters and Zacharias

Present from CRD: Director J. Sorley (CCJC Co-Chair) and Directors Bischoff & Kemp

Staff Present:

J. Bell - CRD CAO
D. Campbell - CRD Manager of Community Services
B. Crowe - CRD Executive Assistant

B. Carruthers - City of WL CAO
G. Paynton - City of WL Director of Community Services
D. Radolla - City of WL Manager of Active Living

Meeting started at 5:03pm

Agenda approved with addition of Late Item - discussion on reconsideration of 2011 Grant-in-Aide application from Dry Grad Committee

Item B2 - Project/Operating Grants from Central Cariboo Arts/Culture Function

By Consensus - Joint Committee recommends to the CRD Board that Project/Operating Grants , as recommended by the Central Cariboo Arts/Culture Society, be approved

Minutes from the Jan 25th CCJC Meeting approved

Item B1 - CMRC Operations on Stat Holidays in 2012

The Manager of Active Living reviewed her report with the Joint Committee
Discussion ensued

By Consensus - CMRC operate on Stat Holidays in 2012, as was done in 2011 -

Councillor Danica Hughes opposed

Item B3 - Invitation to Bid for 2016 or 2018 BC Summer or Winter Games

The Director of Community Services reviewed this item with the Joint Committee
Discussion ensued

By Consensus - Item received

Item B4 - Pool Task Force Terms of Reference

The Director of Community Services reviewed his report with the Joint Committee
Discussion ensued

By Consensus - That the Pool Task Force Terms of Reference, as proposed, be adopted

CRD Area 'D' Director D. Bischoff opposed

Item B5 - NDI Application for "Community Kitchen" at Xeni Gwet'in:

The Manager of Community Services reviewed this item with the Joint Committee
Discussion ensued

By Consensus - That the NDI Application, as proposed, be supported by the Joint Committee

Item B6 - 2 Reps from Junior Council on the Pool Task Force

The Director of Community Services reviewed this item with the Joint Committee
Discussion ensued

By Consensus - That two seats on the Pool Task Force be reserved for members of WL Junior Council

Item B7 - Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay Event Update

The Manager of Active Living and Councillor Rathor reviewed this item with the Joint Committee
Discussion ensued

By Consensus - Report of the Manager of Active Living received

Action Page

By Consensus - Action Page received

Late Item - Reconsideration of 2011 Grant-in-Aide application - Dry Grad Committee (as requested by City of WL Mayor Kerry Cook)

Mayor Cook reviewed this item with the Joint Committee
Discussion ensued

By Consensus - Staff requested to bring forward options to fund 2011 Dry Grad Committee's $5,845 Grant-in-Aide application to March 28th Central Cariboo/City of Williams Lake Joint Committee meeting

Meeting adjourned to In-Camera Session, as per Section 90(1)(a) of the Community Charter relating to appointments

Editor's Notes:

1) Councillor Laurie Walters asked if CRD Area 'D' Director Deb Bischoff would explain her opposition to the adoption of the Pool Task Force Terms of Reference.  Director Bischoff refused.  As a rule - once the vote is taken, you move on to the next item and don't ask those voting in opposition to explain their no vote after the vote is taken.  Those who vote no to items are under no obligation to explain their vote.  Note - no one asked Councillor Danica Hughes to explain her opposition to the CMRC being open during Stat Holidays in 2012

2) I was shocked with the Late Item request from City of WL Mayor Kerry Cook for the Dry Grad Committee 2011 Grant-in-Aide request be reconsidered for a 2nd time.  This, after the Dry Grad application was rejected, as per the new Grant-in-Aide policy (that Mayor Cook herself agreed with) in late October 2011 and reconsidered at the Jan 25th, 2012 CC Joint Committee meeting and again was denied (Mayor Cook was absent at the Jan 25th CCJC Meeting).  

As CRD Area 'E' Director Byron Kemp noted, if policy stated that the Dry Grad Committee grant-in-aide application did not "pass muster" on Oct 26th - then let's stick with policy now. 

Mayor Cook, in defence, stated that she had received emails on the subject, a letter to the editor was submitted and was concerned about the perception that "local politicians do not support Dry Grad"

The real political danger here is others, who were denied grant-in-aide requests, will ask for similiar treatment and refusal to do so when land the politicians into considerable "hot water" because it'll seem they are "picking favorites".  In addition, when you rely on policy, especially well written policy (like the new Grant-in-Aide policy is), you either stand by policy, no matter how upset the public gets, or throw out policy and just fund everything and figure it out later

Councillors Walters/Rathor also agreed with Mayor Cook and her sentiments on this request.  Councillor Zacharias wanted to make the decision at tonight's CCJC however Director Sorley wanted to wait until Staff reported back on options.  The report on this item will be presented at the March 28th Central Cariboo/City of Williams Lake Joint Committee meeting and a formal decision will be made at that time as the CRD Board must adopt its' budget on Friday, March 30th