Thursday, January 31, 2013

CRD Rural Fringe Fire Survey Says....

On Jan 17th - the Cariboo Regional District asked residents' in portions of Areas D, E, F abutting the City of Williams Lake to fill out either an online or paper survey as to 'next steps' in relation to the fight between the City of Williams Lake and the Cariboo Regional District over fire protection services for affected residents' with a deadline to fill out the survey this past Monday

The results indicate that 60% of those surveyed wish the Cariboo RD Board to go back to Court in April and ask a Supreme Court Justice to force the City to honour its' October deal... the same deal that CRD residents' nearly unanimously endorsed on November 24th with 25% asking the CRD Board to develop their own fire department for the Central Cariboo while 15% want the CRD to go back to the City to continue to negotiate.  Hard to see mediation working here when 60% of those surveyed want the City to do what it should have done in the first place - honour the agreement it made with the Cariboo RD in October and the subsequent vote by residents' on Nov 24th, 2012

Meanwhile - the survey also indicates that 205 of those surveyed are prepared to pay up $63/$100,000 for fire protection services, given this is roughly the same rate that City taxpayers' pay for an equivalent service (and rightly so and I don't blame rural residents' for feeling this way)

One interesting stat - 200 residents' indicated no interest in becoming a volunteer firefighter while 42 indicated interest in doing so.  Those 42 potential firefighters should be more than enough to maintain a firehall certification, if needed - which in this case, the vast majority want the City to honour its' original fire protection offer of October 2012

Read the full survey results here
Read residents' letters to the CRD Board here
Read meeting notes from the Jan 17th Fire Protection meeting in the Gibraltar Room here

The CRD Board and the Rural Fringe Fire Protection Standing Committee (one and same) will meet on Monday, Feb 4th at 11:00am in the CRD Boardroom

Outcome of Kamloops Ideas Festival

As a result of the Jan 12th "Kamloops Ideas Festival", the brainchild of Kamloops Councillor Arjun Singh, he reports on this blog "Your Kamloops" - some of the ideas from that event under two categories:

1) What would Kamloops look like, at its' best, in 2013 - read more here
2) What are the components of an amazing transportation network? - read more here

With the City of Kamloops soon to get set to update ts' OCP (Official Community Plan) or "KamPlan" - I certain the residents of Kamloops would hope to see some of, if not, all of these ideas in their next City of Kamloops "KamPlan" (OCP).

Finally - as a suggestion to Kamloops Council, they might want to ask their Staff to contact their counterparts in Williams Lake with regard to the development of our OCP which included "Coffee Tables" in discussing various parts of an OCP to which Williams Lake won an award from the Federation of Canadian Muncipalities for its' OCP development process, away from the traditional OCP Development Process.

By Kamloops using the same OCP development process that Williams Lake used from 2007-2011, I believe Kamloops would be well-served by a broadly-discussed and publicly assented-to OCP which covers a variety of community development requirements (social, economic, environmental, etc) over the short, medium and long term needs for the City of Kamloops

-- SBF

Gov't of Canada seeks comment on PFOS

I received this from an anonymous commentor yesterday as follows:

The Chemicals Substances arm of the Government of Canada has put out this call for public comment:

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate

A consultation document regarding the need for the ongoing exemptions under the Perfluorooctane Sulfonate, its Salts and Certain Other Compounds Regulations was published for a 60-day public comment period, ending March 5, 2013.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cariboo RD weighs Mediation Option for Rural Fire dispute

As I suspected would happen - CRD CAO Janis Bell speaks on the mediation option, as proposed by the City of Williams Lake, to resolve the Rural Fringe Fire Protection dispute and the need to think about the best way to move forward.  As submission of surveys has now expired, I expect that CRD Directors J. Sorley, B. Kemp and D. Bischoff and CRD Staff will review the results & hear from the Cariboo RD lawyers' and then take those tabulated survey results to the CRD's Feb 12th meeting with rural fringe residents as to decide the next step forward

From the Rush:

The Cariboo Regional District will contact it's lawyers in response to a recent vote by Williams Lake City Council.

The vote which passed stated that the City of Williams Lake would support an independent mediator taking part in talks between it and the CRD on the Fringe Fire Protection Program.

Janis Bell, Chief Administrative Officer for the CRD, says she thinks it is a bit premature to commit to mediation at this stage.

Bell says they haven't compiled the results from the public meeting that they had a week or so ago and she says they are certainly interested in where the public wants them to go and in taking those recomendations to the Board for consideration.

Bell says they aren't going to rule out any options like mediation at this point but she says they certainly can't make any commitments either.

She says she is encouraged however, to see that the city is interested in resolving the issue.

External Review of BC's 2013 Budget

In light of the 2009 BC Budget and subsequent election and related criticism of that budget after the May 2009 Election - Mike De Jong has elected to ask nationally renowned economist Dr. Tim O'Neill to review both the economic and revenue projects as part of BC Budget 2013.

I think that this is a very smart political move on the BC Liberals' part and it should 'shield' them from any political attacks that the BC Liberals' are attempting to 'cook the books' for the upcoming election in May

Read an article from Justine Hunter of the Globe and Mail here
Full information from the Government of BC here

From the Government of BC:

The B.C. government has appointed nationally respected economist Dr. Tim O'Neill to review and assess the economic and revenue projections contained in the upcoming provincial budget, Finance Minister Michael de Jong announced today.

A former chief economist and executive vice-president for the Bank of Montreal, O'Neill will review the work undertaken by finance ministry staff as Budget 2013 is finalized, with a specific focus on the underlying methodologies, processes and material assumptions the government has used in preparing its economic and revenue forecasts.

O'Neill will have the opportunity to review and evaluate all material supporting the Province's economic and revenue forecasts for the 2012-13 through 2015-16 fiscal years, and he will have complete access to Finance ministry staff as needed.

O'Neill will provide the Minister of Finance with a written assessment of the minister's economic and revenue forecasts. He will also be available on budget day to speak about this review. In 2005, following an 11-year stint with BMO, O'Neill founded his own consulting firm, O'Neill Strategic Economics, and has since provided expert economic and forecasting advice to the Canadian government and the governments of Ontario and Nova Scotia.

O'Neill was the first Canadian economist to be elected to the board of the Washington-based National Association for Business Economics, serving as its president from 2002 to 2003. He is also a visiting professor at Duke University in North Carolina. He now lives and works in P.E.I.

Micheal deJong - BC's Minister of Finance says:

Given the ongoing economic uncertainty both in Canada and around the world over the past few years, I believe an external review of our economic and revenue forecasts makes sense at this time. It will also provide British Columbians with added assurance that Budget 2013 is based on sound revenue and economic forecasts."

"Dr. O'Neill's analytical skills and outstanding reputation will help uphold our longstanding commitment to fiscal transparency."

Harry Lali didn't get the memo

Update on Jan 31st -- Harry Lali has now apologized for accidentally putting out a 'partisan' press release from his constituency office and has sworn it will not happen again.  Read more here

After Adrian Dix swore that his Party would keep the upcoming election 'clean' and free from 'negative attack ads' -- obviously, Fraser-Nicola MLA Harry Lali didn't get that message but I wasn't surprised as Lali loves attacking the BC Liberals at any time for a cheap political point or two... I wonder if Lali will be penalized for his comments or will Dix simply say one thing and allow his MLA's and the NDP's "friends" (aka BC Fed of Labour) to do another...

Fraser-Nicola NDP MLA Harry Lali says “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” referring to the appointment of Jackie Tegart as local BC Liberal candidate almost two weeks ago.

“Though I welcome the entry into the provincial realm by the Liberals’ appointed candidate in Fraser-Nicola, she will have to answer for the destruction of the social and economic fabric of British Columbia by the Campbell/Clark Liberals during the last decade,” said Lali.

“The appointment of the Liberal candidate by Premier Christy Clark is further evidence of the BC Liberals’ “top-down”, heavy-handed approach when dealing with local constituency nominations,” said Lali. “Their news communique about the appointment (dated January 16) that appeared in The Vancouver Sun was released out of BC Liberal Party headquarters in the Lower Mainland by Sam Oliphant, Communications Officer from the BC Liberal Party in Vancouver.”

“It was ten more days before local Liberals would be invited to so-call ‘nominate’ their candidate in Ashcroft,” said Lali. “The Liberal communique even admitted that local Liberals would do the “formality” of candidate anointment in Ashcroft on January 26th.”

Lali said: “There is a clearly-established pattern of the BC Liberals’ heavy-handedness with local nominations. Liberal MLA John Slater, from Boundary-Similkameen, was unceremoniously dumped by Premier Clark from running as a Liberal in favour of another person. In Abbotsford South, BC Liberal brass also dismissed Abbotsford city councillor, Moe Gill, from seeking the Liberal nomination in favour of someone else.”
Adrian Dix, Harry Lali and the New Democrats believe that the true essence of democracy is when respective constituency association memberships are allowed to elect their candidates through democratic nominations free from any interference from Party Leaders and Party brass.

“Unfortunately for BC Liberal members in many constituencies like Fraser-Nicola the rubber-stamping of candidates appointed by Premier Clark and Liberal Headquarters is the order of the day,” said Lali. “There are many questions the appointed Liberal candidate needs to answer, such as:

- As a former School Trustee why did Ms. Tegart remain silent when Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark, as Education Minister, closed over 200 schools, especially in Rural BC, including Fraser-Nicola?
- Where was she when Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark, as BC Children and Families Minister, cut 42% funding for BC’s needy children and families and closed 50% of women’s shelters in the province?
- Why didn’t she speak out against the massive cuts to Health Care by Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark that resulted in multiple emergency room closures, including ERs in Ashcroft, Lytton, Princeton and Logan Lake?
- Why was she silent when the Liberals’ punitive forest policies closed over 90 sawmills and laid-off 42,000 workers across the province, including in Merritt, Lillooet, Lytton, and Boston Bar?
- Why was she silent when the Liberals’ BC Rail corruption scandal, investigation, and court case took place?

For their part - the BC Liberals say:

Two days after Adrian Dix said he would launch a “positive” campaign, one of the BC NDP’s highest profile MLAs has launched a personal and negative attack from his non-partisan constituency office.

"We all knew it wouldn't last, but I thought they'd keep the spin going for at least the first week," said cabinet minister and campaign spokesperson Mary Polak. "Did Lali just not get the Dix memo on being positive, or is Mr. Dix trying to take the high road, while his MLAs throw stones from their constituency offices?"

Lali’s personal attacks, which are incorrect, are in stark contrast to the type of local campaign that Jackie Tegart is putting forward to Fraser-Nicola voters. Tegart has a proven record as a longtime school trustee and Ashcroft municipal councillor.

"I’m running because I believe Premier Christy Clark’s vision for a strong, resource economy is vital for our region," said Tegart. “I’m focused on jobs and the issues that matter to people in my riding."

"It’s wrong to launch negative, personal attacks from a constituency-based MLA office," added Tegart. "We need representation that puts our communities first."

New Invest Cariboo-Chilcotin-Coast website

Courtesy of the Northern Development Initiative Trust:

Quesnel Budget Brief - Jan 28th

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel;

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Water Wise program helps water use reduction

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

A report from the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society received by Council last week shows that the total amount of water being consumed by city users has dropped 20% since 2006. The report was prepared to assess the work of the Water Wise education program, a partnership between the City and the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society.

In the summer of 2006, the City of Williams Lake entered into a fee for service agreement to educate the public on the benefits of conserving water in the community. The Cariboo Conservation Society achieved this by hosting large public events, such as Earth Day, radio and newspaper ads, displays set up at public buildings including the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex & City Hall, children’s day camps, and provided a very comprehensive education program in the public school system with emphasis on the primary grades three and four. Through this educational program the City and the Cariboo Conservation Society’s intentions were to reduce the amount of water the community was using for its day to day use, which in turn would reduce the stress being put on the aquifer that the City draws its water from.

In order to assist the conservation effort, the City has offered residents rebates on low-flow toilets and water-efficient washing machines and dishwashers, which have seen a high rate of interest.

The reduction in water use is among all users (industrial, commercial, institutional, and residential), but it cannot be determined where the largest reduction in daily usage is, as not all water services are metered. However, as with most communities, it has been suggested that the industrial, commercial, and institutional sectors of any community do not use any more water than they need to complete their operation. Assuming this is correct, the lion’s share of water reduction is from the residential users.

It is clear from the water reduction numbers that this educational partnership is working,” says Williams Lake Mayor Kerry. “Council thanks the Cariboo Chilcotin Conversation Society and City staff for all their work on the Water Wise program, and to all water users who have reduced their consumption in order to protect this most precious resource.”

Monday, January 28, 2013

BC Political Ads for '13 BC Election

Over the last week, both of the two major political parties in BC - those being the BC Liberals and BC NDP have released their first political ads as follows:

Today's BC Liberals:


As I reviewed both ads over the weekend - while the BC Liberals' contained information about their vision/priorities for the Province, should they get the opportunity to remain government past May of 2013... the BC NDP was vague on their priorities and there was something missing in their ad to make their genuine connection to the average voter that isn't or hasn't voted for a political party in the past but is looking to vote in this election

Postmedia News looks at this item as well here

Meanwhile - Alan Forseth, Kamloops/Thompson Regional Director for the BC Conservatives, gets in a 'shot or two' at the BC Liberals' over its' recent BC Jobs ads which you can read here

Finally - while the initial round of TV ads for the BC Liberals/BC NDP seem to be positive so far, it remains to be seen this far in advance of the provincial election if the "positive" ads will continue... and will the BC Conservatives have TV ads of their own?  Their publicized finances to date suggest that they may not have the finances to do TV ads but remain focused on newspaper/radio ads instead, in addition to use of social media tools (blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc)


WL Council receives 2012 Crime Outlook

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

Crime rates in 2012 remained below 2008 rates, which are a baseline for the previous 10 years, City Council heard at its Jan. 22 meeting.

RCMP Inspector Warren Brown and Safer Community Coordinator Dave Dickson presented Council with a 2012 Crime Statistics Overview, which shows crime rates up over 2011, but down significantly from the baseline level represented by the 2008 numbers.

Calls for service declined by roughly 2,600 calls between 2012 and 2008, and were just slightly higher in 2012 than 2011. Insp. Brown attributed some of the reduction to the False Alarm Bylaw Council passed in 2011. False alarms have fallen from nearly 900 in 2008 to less than 600 in 2012.

Theft of vehicle declined to roughly 100 in 2012, down from more than 250 in 2008, and up from roughly 30 in 2011. Break and enters to both business and residences also declined from 2008.

Domestic violence incidents have increased since both 2008 and 2011, to nearly 100 reported cases from just over 80. It is believed increased awareness and education may be leading to more victims reporting domestic violence than previously.

“As Inspector Brown told Council, these are not numbers to be content with, but they show we’re going in the right direction,” says Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook. “Council is exploring more initiatives to help reduce crime and increase safety even further.”

The RCMP’s 2012/2013 Annual performance Plan calls for continuing to improve and enhance police and aboriginal relationships, contributing to safer youth, and contributing to community safety.

Volunteer programs such as Restorative Justice, Business Watch, and Operation Red Nose have also had successes in 2012, with 125 businesses participating in Business Watch, and Operation Red Nose providing 280 rides to more than 639 riders over the 2012 holiday season. The program also accepted $8,000 in donations.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

City of WL Union workers give strong strike mandate

In a move that I personally expected - 95% of the IUOE (International Union of Operating Engineers) workers that work at various City buildings have voted to go on strike, if necessary, to back their contract demands

On Welcome to Williams Lake's Facebook page - one person expressed concern that a shutdown of the local Rec Complex, by striking IUOE workers, would potentially have on future hockey tournaments.  In my view - that would be a very good move by the IUOE to 'pressure' City of WL Management into a fair deal, given the economic impact of out of town hockey teams for the City

Williams Lake is not the only muncipality in the Cariboo-Chilcotin with labour problems as the City of Quesnel's collective agreement with CUPE is up for renewal later this year.  The last agreement was arrived at through mediation

See the story from Williams Lake Tribune below:

The union representing city workers in Williams Lake has voted 95 per cent in favour of going on strike.

"We had high voter turn out. It's a strong message our members want to send to management," John Dube, Union of Operating Engineers 882B representative said Sunday evening half an hour after a day of voting by members closed at the Coast Fraser Inn.

The next step for the union will be to go to the Labour Relations Board because the employer plans to ask for a mediator, Dube said.

"We are not in favour of going with a mediator," he added.

If the union does decide to go on strike, they will have to serve the city 72 hours notice.

Previously Dube told the Tribune there are between 105 and 110 union employees working for the city.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

WL Council Bus - Jan 29th

For those in Williams Lake - your City Council, on Tuesday, in Committee of the Whole will review the following items:

a) Review of Mobile Vendor program - read here

b) Director of Municipal Services (K. Goldfuss) to report Ottawa prepared to give funds to Williams Lake to resurface 5,000 of the 7,000 feet of the WL Regional Airport runway and that has raised concerns among some of the major users of the WL Airport.  Read here

c) WL City Staff to request $95,000 from the Water Fund in 2013 to replace a water main at 134 Yorston - read here.

Editor's Note - I wonder if the time has come to implement, like Quesnel, a dedicated tax levy for a yearly replacement of all infrastructure with an accompanying work plan that prioritizes *all* infrastructure by way of Priority 1,2,3 rather than a 'piecemeal' approach like many municipalities take to infrastructure renewal because of fiscal restraints imposed on these municipalities (wages, etc) and not because they don't want to invest in their infrastructure

d) Revised 'Whistleblower' Policy - read here

Editor's Note -- I received this comment this morning about the Revised 'Whistleblower' Policy:

I see the city of Williams lake hasn't changed its policy on keeping everything internal and covered up: their revised Whistleblower policy is a joke. who in their right mind would come forward with an allegation of wrongdoing by management or council when the process allows for management and council to determine if it was malicious or done in bad faith?? just like the RCMP,they'd be investigating themselves! And we all know how that turns out. Not guilty! Kangaroo court! Obviously Council has learned nothing from the corruption that was exposed by city auditors in May 2012. The message is clear ... keep your mouth shut!
e) 'New Prosperity' letters from TNG/Friends of Fish Lake. Both ask WL Council to withdraw/refrain from publicly endorsing 'New Prosperity.  Read here (TNG) and here (Friends of Fish Lake).  I don't expect that these letters will dissuade WL Council from publicly advocating for the 'New Prosperity' project 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Local Gov't Mtgs - Wk of Jan 28-Feb 1

A number of local governments are meeting this upcoming week as follows:

Quesnel - Committee of the Whole (2013 Budget - Operations) meeting to be held on Monday, Jan 28th at 7:00pm in Quesnel Council Chambers (2nd Floor - 410 Kinchant St).  View the Agenda here

Williams Lake - Committee of the Whole meeting to be held on Tuesday, Jan 29th at 6:00pm in the Rick Hansen Boardroom (450 Mart St in City Hall basement).  View the Agenda here

School District #27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin) - Regular Board of Education meeting to be held on Tuesday, Jan 29th at 6:30pm in the SD 27 Boardroom (350 2nd Avenue North, Williams Lake).  View the Agenda here

Cariboo Regional District (2013 Budget Consultation Meetings):

Jan 30th (Wednesday)
- Creekside Seniors' Centre (501 Cedar Ave) in 100 Mile House.  Meeting starts at 7pm

Jan 31st (Thursday) - Royal Canadian Legion Branch 94 (262 Kinchant Street) in Quesnel. Meeting starts at 7pm

Station House Gallery Renovations?

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

Council recently received the Williams Lake Railway Station Building Condition Assessment and Redevelopment Options report, which assesses the Station House Gallery’s structural condition, review fire and life safety conditions, develops two schematic redevelopment options for the building, and provides cost estimates based on the schematic design drawings.

The report found that overall, the building’s structure is sound and adequate for its intended use as an art gallery, and included three potential site plans for the building. Estimates for restoration of the building, either at the current Station House gallery site, or at a site previously identified, the Royal Bank parking lot at the corner of 4th Avenue and Borland Street, are approximately $1.1 million. A number of heritage and community grants have been identified as possible funding sources.

In 2010, as the City was evaluating the costs of stabilizing the building in its current location, the question arose if it made sense to spend funds to construct a new basement and undertake repairs to the building on the current site or move the building to a more visible location in the community. In March 2011, a grant application for provincial funding through the Towns for Tomorrow program was denied, and as such, no work was completed on the gallery.

At its January 22 meeting, Council resolved to refer this issue to the Community Services Committee to develop a set of goals and objectives for the Station House Gallery building, and to present them back to Council.

“This project remains an important one, but it will require a partnership with a senior level of government to make it a reality,’ says Mayor Cook. “I look forward to the report from the Community Services Committee as we look for ways to move forward.”

Quesnel Council begins to tackle 2013 Budget

Quesnel City Council, at 7pm Monday in Quesnel Council Chambers (2nd Floor - 410 Kinchant St), will begin the process to deliberate/decide its' 2013, starting with reviewing its' Operating Fund budget

View the report from the City's Director of Financial and Corporate Service (Kari Bolton) here

Also view:

1) Budget Overview - here
2) Council Travel Budgets/Community Support Overview - here
3) 2013 Supplementary Request List - here
4) 2012 Tax Rate Comparison List - here
5) Updated 2013 Budget Schedule - here

In reviewing the above items, a number of things stood out for me:

a) City of Quesnel long-term debt currently at $8.2 million but a number of projects threaten to push that figure higher including future Phases of the West Quesnel Land Stability program and the re-decking of the Moffat Bridge

b) On Tax Rates (Higher number means worse ranking while lower number means better ranking)

Residential - Quesnel ranks #120 of 161 communities ranked in BC while Williams Lake ranked #91 of 161

Major Industry - Quesnel ranks #5 of 78 communities ranked in BC while Williams Lake ranked #2 of 78

Light Industry - Quesnel ranks #20 of 134 communities ranked in BC while Williams Lake ranked #10 of 134 communities

Business - Quesnel ranks #56 of 161 communities ranked in BC while Williams Lake ranked #59 of 161 communities

c) Quesnel Councillor Ed Coleman, like former Quesnel Councillor Peter Couldwell, spent little on travel... just some $20 while Councillor Elliot spent the most at $4,666 of the total $5,000 available.  All proposed travel budgets for Councillors are currently set at $4,000

Finally - Quesnel City Staff recommends that if this 'proposed' budget stands - Quesnel Council will need to raise property taxes by 3.4% in 2013 to fully implement it

Aud-Gen John Doyle speaks out

In a story/headache that refuses to die for the governing BC Liberals' with just under 3 months prior to the start to the 40th BC General Election - current BC Auditor-General John Doyle is speaking out on the process to appoint a new Auditor-General including speaking out on the ability of the current Chair (Eric Foster) of the Legislative Committee, remaining impartial, which will recommend a name to hold the office of Auditor-General

View video and read more here and here.  For myself - it is completely unheard of in British Columbia for an independent officer of the BC Legislature to lash out at a Legislative Committee deciding his/her fate.  I agree the process needs a re-write which is why I agree with proposed changes to the BC Auditor-General to align with Ottawa's process for a single-term A-G.  In Ottawa's case, the Federal Auditor-General serves for a single, 10 year term while in BC, BC Premier Christy Clark proposes the BC Auditor-General serve for a single 8 year term.  I wonder if BC Liberals' internally are asking themselves if they should have allowed Doyle to remain for another term in the first place.... methinks so

Global-BC video:

McRae defends 10 year Teacher Contract

Courtesy of the Hon. Don McRae - BC's Minister of Education:

Editor's Note -- Mr. McRae also chides the BC Teachers Federation for spreading 'false' information on the 10 year proposed teacher agreement.  Read more here

This government has announced a proposed new framework to bring about 10 years of labour peace with B.C. teachers. We have a great education system in this province, but wherever I travel in B.C. people tell me that it is time we put students first.

The last round of labour negotiations was difficult and prolonged, and as usual students and classrooms were disrupted across our system. This is nothing new in the history of our negotiations. I believe our children deserve better than this. It is time to set this behind us and embark on a more collaborative way of doing things.

We are proposing a new framework with bold, new ideas designed to give us a fresh start.

It includes a new structured and transparent bargaining process that would draw on professional mediators and conciliators to help resolve impasses. We would seek a relationship with teachers built on transparency, collaboration and openness to new ideas.

The proposed framework also includes an Education Policy Council with representatives from government, the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and school-board trustees to advise government on public education policy priorities, including a proposed new $100-million Priority Education Investment Fund.

We are also prepared to index teachers’ compensation on par to their fellow B.C. public-sector colleagues, like nurses, college faculty and government employees. Had we used this model over the past 10 years, teachers' salaries would have increased by an average of 2.0 per cent, as opposed to the 1.8 per cent average teachers have received. In other words, teachers would be farther ahead today than they were in the last system, without all the heartache that's gone on with all the labour disruptions that we've seen in the last decade.

Our proposed framework is the start of a conversation and represents our commitment to long-term stability and a more effective relationship between teachers and government. With a signed ten-year agreement, the government will offer B.C. public school teachers a voice in funding education priorities and an official role in education policy decisions.

We are standing on the threshold of a wonderful opportunity for the future of education and we can’t afford to let it pass us by. Teachers and government can use this opportunity to reflect the ideals of cooperation, acceptance and respect for our children. It can be a new relationship that we can all be proud of.

Just imagine what this framework would mean for students and families. Imagine an education system where it is normal for a student in Grade 2 today to graduate in 10 years without his or her classroom ever being disrupted by job action. Imagine what this would mean to teachers – to be able to focus on their students in a stable learning environment, and at the same time, have a real voice in their relationship with government.

B.C. families deserve an education system without interruptions caused by labour disputes. On behalf of all British Columbians, I believe teachers and government can work together from our shared passion for youth and education and choose to do things in a new way. Together, we can imagine a decade of labour peace - and then achieve it.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

WL Council seeks mediation on Rural Fire Protection Dispute

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

Editor's Note - watch for the Cariboo Regional District to hold its' options open until after rural residents' report what option they wish the Regional District to pursue (legal option, negotiate with City of WL or start their own Fire Department).  Also, Mayor Cook talks about "open and respectful communications".  This should have occurred long before we got into legal proceedings and certainly, we would not be here now, had it not been for Council's Dec 11th motion of a 1 year fire protection agreement which not only angered elected officials with the Regional District but also its' residents

The City of Williams Lake values its relationship with the Cariboo Regional District, and as such, will ask the District to enter mediation with the City on the rural fringe fire protection issue as soon as possible.

The City is eager to meet with the CRD to come to a solution, rather than have the issue proceed in court. The CRD filed a Notice of Civil Claim in B.C. Supreme Court Jan. 15. The City has 21 days to respond to the Notice of Civil Claim. Entering mediation as soon as possible would save time and allow for plenty of discussion before the April 30 court ordered injunction is set to expire.

“It’s very important that we are able to sit down at a table and work on issues together,” says Mayor Kerry Cook. “Open, respectful communications are key.”

Canim Lk Band signs forest agreement w/BC

Courtesy of the Government of BC:

The Province has issued a First Nations’ woodland licence to the Tsq'escenemc people of the Canim Lake Band, enhancing economic opportunities and forest stewardship in the region, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson announced today.

The licence allows the band to harvest up to 20,000 cubic metres of timber a year –about 5,000 logging truckloads -- from a 21,400-hectare parcel of Crown land next to the Canim Lake Reserve.

The agreement is the second First Nations’ woodland licence signed under a new program designed to provide long-term, area-based logging rights to First Nations. The length of the licences, which provides a minimum 25-year tenure, makes it easier for First Nations to secure investment and loans for forestry operations.

The agreement supports ‘Our Natural Advantage: Forest Sector Strategy for British Columbia’, which identifies First Nations’ partnerships as a priority when it comes to advancing economic and environmental sustainability in B.C.’s forest sector.

More information on this can be found here

A Decade of Labour Peace with BC Teachers'

Editor's Note -- if all sides in BC's Education System were to agree to a collective agreement for 10 years (decade), I think that it would be very good stability for students, parents, the BC Education System and the Province overall.  Here's hoping it happens :)

Update: BC Premier Christy Clark takes to YouTube to speak on this possible arrangement:

Courtesy of the Government of BC:

The B.C. government is proposing a series of bold and innovative changes to achieve labour peace and a ten-year agreement with the province’s public-school teachers, Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Don McRae announced today.

“The goal of a 10-year agreement is simple and ambitious - give Grade 2 students a chance to go their entire school career without a disruption,” said Clark. “Imagine the opportunities for students, parents and teachers in the classroom knowing classrooms would always be open. We need to work closely with teachers on our shared goal of improving B.C.’s education system, and we’re prepared to make some fundamental changes that put students first. This isn’t about the adults - it’s about what’s best for students.”

Government’s proposal, Working Together For Students: A Framework For Long Term Stability In Education, specifies that in return for a 10-year agreement, the government is prepared to offer public school teachers:

a) A formal role in education policy decisions.
b) A voice in allocating a $100-million Priority Education Investment Fund, available in the third year of an agreement.
c) Salary certainty and fairness by indexing public school teacher salaries to increases in the B.C. public sector.

The framework also sets out a structured and transparent process that calls on professional mediators and conciliators to help resolve bargaining impasses.

“As a teacher and as minister, I know how beneficial it is for teachers to have a voice in the future of education,” said McRae. “Through this framework, we can strengthen that voice in matters such as funding and policy decisions. With a ten-year agreement, we can move past the strife and disruption of the past and focus on what matters most – working together for students and families across British Columbia.”

To learn more:

1) Working Together For Students: A Framework For Long Term Stability In Education, Toward A 10-Year Agreement With Public School Teachers - read here

2) Framework for a 10-year Agreement with Public School Teachers, presentation - read here

3) Stakeholder Submissions: read here

4) Full Government of BC press release with Backgrounder info here

City of WL releases Housing Demands/Needs Study

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

Williams Lake City Council recently received the completed Housing Needs and Demand Study for information. The City contracted with City Spaces Consulting in early 2012 to complete a Housing Need and Demand study to assist the Cariboo Lodge Site Redevelopment Task Force.

The report has been received and reviewed by the Cariboo Lodge Task Force. As described throughout this needs analysis, low-income singles (working singles and those living on fixed incomes, including seniors), individuals with special needs, and aboriginal households of all ages face the greatest challenges in finding and maintaining housing that is affordable, adequate and suitable. For some low-income individuals, particularly those that have complex health and substance issues, finding and keeping any form of permanent housing is especially challenging.

The study found that Williams Lake has many caring and compassionate individuals, organizations and faith-based groups, and a number of existing housing providers. Future partnerships and collaborations, together with the support of the City and BC Housing, will be required to comprehensively address current and emerging housing needs. The Cariboo Lodge Task Force will be using the study to inform their recommendations with regard to Cariboo Lodge. The report is available on the city web page at

The City would like to thank the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia for funding to assist in completing the study.

City of WL/Union Negotiations break-down

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

The City of Williams Lake Collective Agreement negotiations with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 882-B, which represents all of the City’s unionized staff, have broken off after the Union left the negotiating table on January 21st. The City has been advised that the Union will be taking a strike vote on Sunday, January 27th.

The City of Williams Lake is hopeful that a strike will not occur and that the Union will come back to the table so the parties can continue negotiating a new collective agreement without disruptions to the community. In the event of job action, an essential services plan will be in place to minimize the impact to the community.

The City recognizes that it has excellent employees and is aware that these processes can create uncertainty and stress within the workforce. The City is looking to negotiate a fair package for both sides and has made its position very clear to the Union that it is willing and able, to negotiate on all items.

In an effort to keep negotiations moving forward the City will also be applying to the Labour Relations Board (LRB) for mediation.

Call for Members: Bouchie Lk Rec Comm.

Courtesy of Cariboo RD Area 'B' Director Heloise Dixon-Warren:

The Bouchie Lake Recreation Commission / BLRC is a volunteer group whose responsibility is to manage Bouchie Lake Hall and Recreation Grounds, Claymine Trails, and Pioneer Park. The Commission is governed by a Cariboo Regional District (CRD) Bylaw and plays an active role in providing direction and setting policy on issues pertaining to the above properties. This includes security, setting rental fees and hours of operation, overseeing contractors, ensuring groups have adequate liability insurance, risk management, short and long term planning, budgeting, and paying all costs associated with management and operation. The BLRC is part of the North Cariboo Recreation and Parks Service and receives its funding from the Cariboo Regional District.

The Commission consists of the Director of Area B and a minimum of six and a maximum of 10 community members, of which 2/3rds must be residents of Electoral Area B living within the North Cariboo Recreation and Parks taxation boundary. All commissioners are appointed by the CRD on recommendation of the Director.

Although no previous recreation commission experience is required, volunteers with the following skill sets are needed: Book Keeping / Financial Management, Policy Development, Construction (cost calculations), Fundraising, Volunteer Recruitment, Forestry / Botany, Proposal / Grant Writing, Interior Design, and Landscaping / Beautification. Most important is enthusiasm and an interest in rural, community based recreation.

The Commission meets quarterly or as business requires. There are currently 3 vacant seats on the commission. Letters of interest will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Please include a brief explanation outlining your specific interest in becoming a member and any applicable training and experience you have that could be considered beneficial. Letters can be emailed in or sent in to the address below. For additional information please contact Heloise Dixon-Warren, Area B Director at 250.249.5329 / email or Angela Mezzatesta, BLRC Chair at 250.249.5445 or

Even if you are unable to become a commissioner, there are many ways to volunteer.

WL Council Highlights - Jan 22nd mtg

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

WL City Council chides CRD Directors'

At Tuesday's Williams Lake City Council meeting - Council dealt with a number of matters including requesting mediation for the CRD Rural Fire Protection file and receiving a Jan 18th letter from Cariboo RD Area 'F' Director Joan Sorley, in her capacity as Chair of the CRD Central Cariboo Rural Caucus/Co-Chair of the Central Cariboo/City of WL Joint Committee, advising that the Jan 23rd meeting of the Joint Committee would be cancelled, as CRD Directors' would not show up for that meeting and final adoption of the Pool Task Force would be deferred until such time as the Rural Fringe Fire Protection file is resolved

On Joan Sorley's Jan 18th letter to WL Council - read here

While Councillors' Bourdon, Bonnell, Walters and Mayor Cook asked CRD Directors' (Bischoff, Kemp and Sorley) to focus on the 'regional picture' and Councillor Walters/Bourdon made mention of the 'positive' things that the CRD/City of WL did together like Arts/Culture/Heritage and Recreation.  Councillor SPS Rathor went on the attack and said if any one was bullying here, it was the Regional District and made mention of comments made at the Jan 17th CRD-hosted Fire Protection meeting where some from the rural areas said the City's recent action on Rural Fire Protection smacked of 'greed'.  Of course, contrary to Rathor's belief -- residents and not CRD Directors' made those 'greed' comments.

Meanwhile - the underlying tone of the comments of most of WL Council was one of:

Central CRD Directors' are being childish/irresponsible by not showing up to Joint Committee meetings and things get resolved 'at the table' and not away from it

Personally - I profoundly regret the tone used by WL City Council members launched at CRD Directors'.  Council should have simply agreed to receive the letter and requested them to return to the Joint Committee to hammer out any disagreements...

Council has formally asked for a meeting with the CRD Chair/Vice-Chair (A. Richmond/T. Armstrong) to resolve this issue ASAP.  This will be a first in that a municipality has , in the time that I can remember, where requested the Cariboo RD Chair/Vice-Chair help resolve a dispute on a sub-regional level between a municipal government and CRD Rural Directors'.  This option was not even used during the City of Quesnel/CRD Directors' fights between 2003-2008.  Mayor Cook stated that she'll be meeting with Director Sorley soon on this item and seek resolution to see the Joint Committee active once again.  Stay tuned - we'll see if intervention by Al Richmond/Ted Armstrong can help get the Central Cariboo Joint Committee meetings resume once again

On Mediation to resolve Court Fight -- City of WL v Cariboo Regional District: read here

As I expected - Mayor Cook warned Council to keep very close control of their comments as the Civil Action limits what Council can say in public.  All of Council agreed mediation is the best option to get a resolution on the CRD Rural Fringe Fire Protection.  Councillor Hughes did ask about who a mediator potentially might be.  City Acting CAO Geoff Goodall stated that agreement between the City/CRD would need to be had on a mediator but it was probable that a mediation (whoever he/she is) would come from the Lower Mainland

The motion for mediation was agreed to unanimously

As I've stated previously -- I don't expect the CRD to consider mediation which they are going through a survey process with CRD Areas D, E,F residents' which concludes Monday at 4:30pm.  After the results are in and the meeting on Feb 12th occurs -  then the results from the Feb 12th meeting will dictate what CRD Directors' Sorley, Kemp and Bischoff do next.  My gut feeling on the surveys will bear out that rural residents' will ask their elected officials to seek a Court order to have the City provide fire protection until a VFD (Volunteer Fire Department) to cover rural fringe areas (CRD Areas D,E,F) just outside the City of WL boundaries is up and running

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

City of WL runs into more negotiation problems

Update - Welcome to Williams Lake has more on this story here

If a disagreement with the Cariboo Regional District over a contract issue for rural fringe fire protection was a headache enough for Williams Lake City Council, now IUOE, the union that represents City workers at various City buildings including City Hall, Airport and the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex is accusing the City of 'bargaining in bad faith'

See more below:

The City of Williams Lake's unionized workers will be taking a strike vote.

John Dube, the Service Agent for the International Union of Operating Engineers local 882, says contract talks with the city broke down on Monday.

Dube says the problem is that the employer wants to basically tear up their existing agreement.

He says the City is trying to negotiate things out of their collective agreement that they've had in place for years.

Dube says they haven't even begun to talk about wages.

He accuses the city of bargaining in bad faith and says they are considering going to the Labour Board.

Dube says a strike vote will take place on Sunday.

Dube says they represent just over 100 members including workers in Public Works, Firemen, Clerical staff at the R-C-M-P and at City Hall as well as workers at the airport and the Cariboo Memorial Complex.

CRD Budget Consultation Mtgs next week

Courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District:

The Cariboo Regional District will be hosting three meetings next week as part of the 2013 Budget Consultation process. It is extremely important for residents to attend their sub-regional budget consultation meeting and have the opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions to the CRD’s Board of Directors about the proposed budget and business plans before they receive final adoption on March 22, 2013. Be sure to have your say!

Meetings will take place as follows:

South Cariboo

Wednesday, January 30 - 7 p.m.
Creekside Seniors’ Centre – 100 Mile House

North Cariboo

Thursday, January 31 – 7 p.m.
Quesnel Legion Hall - Quesnel

Central Cariboo & Chilcotin

Saturday, February 2 – 1 p.m.
The Pioneer Complex (Room 119) – Williams Lake

The meetings are designed to explain the CRD’s budgets for the services that it provides to Regional District residents. Traditional Town Hall meetings will now take place in September and October.

Once all three meetings have taken place, the presentation will be posted on the CRD website at along with the preliminary budget booklet and the budget consultation survey. If you cannot attend your local session, please feel free to view the information online, and fill out a survey online or return it to your local CRD office. Further information is also available by calling 250-392-3351 or toll free at 1-800-665-1636.

The Cariboo Regional District currently provides more than 100 local government services to taxpayers including fire protection, land-use planning, solid waste management, and invasive plant management as well as access for residents to libraries and recreation facilities.

Quesnel Council Highlights -- Jan 21st mtg

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel:

CRD Budget 2013 - North Cariboo

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

SD #27 Board decides to close 4 Schools

Courtesy of School District #27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin):

After much anticipation and a year of countless board meetings and months of consulting with parents, public, staff and students, the Board of Education has made its decision on how to balance the budget while keeping the education of students in the forefront.

"With declining enrolment and dwindling budgets, the Board has made some very difficult decisions tonight. We believe the process we used resulted in excellent feedback and ideas from all our stakeholders. We also recognize that there is not a single option out there that would please everyone. But the Board has listened and tonight's decisions were not made lightly," says Will VanOsch, Chair of the Board of Education.

The Board of Education adopted the Initial Options Report with amendments as its comprehensive long term plan. The final document will be made available on the District's website ( over the next couple of days.

Highlights from the meeting include:

100 Mile House Area:

PSO Secondary reconfigured to 8-12
100 Mile House Jr. Secondary recommended closure (final bylaw to be adopted 29 January 2013)
Buffalo Creek Elementary School recommended closure (final bylaw to be adopted 29 January 2013)

Williams Lake Area:

Columneetza and Williams Lake secondary schools reconfigured to a one school, two campus model, grades 7-12 (one campus will be predominantly grades 7-9, the other predominantly grades 10-12)
Glendale Elementary School recommended closure (final bylaw to be adopted 29 January 2013)
Kwaleen Elementary School recommended closure (final bylaw to be adopted 29 January 2013)
Balanced and regular calendars will run in Cataline Elementary School
Wildwood Elementary School to remain open reconfigured to K-6
All current Kwaleen Elementary School students to attend Chilcotin Road Elementary
The remaining elementary schools reconfigured to grades K-6

"With big changes come opportunities," says Superintendent of Schools, Mark Thiessen. "I'm confident that our team will hit the ground running tomorrow to begin a solid implementation process. Our priority will be helping our students and staff to make the smoothest transitions possible into their new situations next year."

School District #27 Special Board Mtg - Jan 22nd


Chair W. Osch and Trustees T. Guenther, C. Pettman, J. Austin, S. Boehm, D. Neufeld and J. Cooper


M. Thiessen - Superintendent
B. Roller - Secretary-Treasurer
C. Newberry - Executive Assistant to Secretary-Treasurer
M. Wintjes - Director of Instruction (Human Resources)
K. Matieshen - District Principal of IT
J. Beauchamp - District Principal
H. Manhas - Assistant Superintendent

Meeting called to order at 6:31pm
Agenda approved (Guenther/Austin)

Question Period (Part 1) - 4 Questions asked re: Closure of Lac La Hache Elementary requesting that the closure motion be defeated and 1 Question asked re: Grade 7-12 "1 School, 2 Campuses" proposal

Superintendent M. Thiessen and Secretary-Treasurer B. Roller presented a PowerPoint presentation on the Initial Options timeline

Motion: "That the Board adopt the 'Initial Options' Report as a long term capital plan" (Guenther/Austin)

Debate by Chair Van Osch and Trustees Guenther, Austin, Neufeld and Cooper on 'Initial Options' Report adoption and amendments made to the Report

Amendment #1 - That Elementary Schools in 100 Mile be configured as K-7 with Grades 8-12 going to PSO (Peter Skeene Ogden) (Guenther/Petter) - Carried Unanimously

Amendment #2 - That the decision of sale of 100 Mile Jr Secondary be deferred to May 31st - Carried

Amendment #3 - That upgrades to 100 Mile Elementary be struck from the 'Initial Options' report but remain in the 5 year capital plan - Carried

Amendment #4 - That the 'One School, Two Campus (Gr 7-12)' option from the 'Initial Options' report (Austin/Boehm) - Defeated

Amendment #5 - That the 'Initial Options' report be amended to transfer the 'Balanced Calendar' from Glendale Elementary to Cataline Elementary as 'one track' (Boehm/Austin) - Carried

Amendment #6 - That the Initial Options' Report be amended to remove 'Wildwood Elementary' from closure on June 30th, 2013 (Guenther/Austin) - Carried

Amendment #7 - That the Initial Options' Report be amended to set Wildwood Elementary as a K-6 School for the 2013/14 School Year (Guenther/Boehm) - Carried Unanimously

Final Motion: "That the 'Initial Options' Report be adopted as amended - Carried Unanimously

Boehm/Austin -- "That the 1 School, Two Campus Option be configured as 7-9 at one school and 10-12 at the other" - Carried Unanimously

THAT, in accordance with Section 68(4) of the School Act, the Board of Education unanimously agrees to give School Closure Bylaws No. 13-SC001,2,3,4 of the Board of Education of School District No. 27(Cariboo-Chilcotin) all three readings at this meeting. Defeated

The Board gave 1st/2nd Reading to School Closure Bylaw No 13-SC001 (100 Mile Jr Secondary)
The Board gave 1st/2nd Reading to School Closure Bylaw No 13-SC002 (Buffalo Crk Elementary)
The Board gave 1st/2nd Reading to School Closure Bylaw No 13-SC003 (Glendale Elementary)
The Board gave 1st/2nd Reading to School Closure Bylaw No 13-SC004 (Kwaleen Elementary)

Boehm/Austin -- THAT the Board of Education invoke the 90 day school closure
consultation process in accordance with Policy 1711 for Lac La Hache Elementary School to be closed effective June 30th, 2013. -- Defeated

Public Participation (Part 2 -- Items NOT on the Agenda) --- 1 Question around implementation/timelines around 'One Campus, Two Schools' option.  1 Question on PAC Funding.

Meeting adjourned at 8:53pm

D-Day in School District #27

At a Special Board Meeting tonight at 6:30pm - the Board of Education for School District #27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin) will formally decide to close up to 5 schools (Wildwood, Glendale, Kwaleen Elementary in Williams Lake and Buffalo Crk Elementary/100 Mile Jr Secondary in 100 Mile) and decide to launch closure proceedings for Lac La Hache Elementary, all part of the 'Initial Options' report and its' public consultation sessions

SD #27 Staff have outlined the following procedures at tonight's meeting:

1) The Board will consider adopted the following Resolution (Motion):

THAT the Board of Education adopt the Initial Options Report as a comprehensive, long range capital plan

2) The Board consider any amendments to the above Resolution that Trustees see fit to propose

3) Should #1 carry without amendments or with adopted amendments, then the Board would proceed to consider School Closure Bylaws for the closed schools decided by the Board with all readings possibly being done at one meeting as per Section 68(4) of the School Act

4) Once #3 is done, then the Board would proceed to amend Catchment Areas for the closed schools to the new schools

5) Once #4 is done, the Board would proceed to consider a "Notice of Motion" from Zone 5 Trustee Sheila Boehm as follows:

THAT the Board of Education invoke the 90 day school closure consultation process in accordance with Policy 1711 for Lac La Hache Elementary School to be closed effective 30 June 2013
I am expecting a very full house tonight so if you are going to the meeting, show up early like myself.

The Agenda for this meeting can be viewed here

Negative Attack Ads & 2013 BC Election

Update -- Vancouver Sun political columnist Vaughn Palmer looks at this topic here

In his column today - Vancouver Province political columnist Mike Smyth reports that the BC Liberals are intending to continue their TV ads, in light of the recent Angus Reid poll which indicates that the BC Liberals are on the way up even from 2011 while the NDP are starting to come down but still hold a commanding 15 point lead but as Mr. Smyth points out:

Big leads rarely hold up in B.C. politics. It always gets closer.

Even former BC NDP Leader Carole James (Victoria-Beacon Hill) has recently said herself that the current lead over the BC Liberals will come down, in her opinion, as we get closer towards writ day (April 13th)

Read his column here

Mr. Smyth also made mention that the BC Liberals are, according to his sources, looking at the last Manitoba election ad campaign by the Manitoba NDP.  Even though most members of the general public don't like it -- there is plenty of evidence that negative political ads do work.  One example is how long Stephane Dion lasted as Federal Liberal Party Leader after being hounded by negative ads by the Federal Conservatives'

Even though BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix has said his Party will not go negative and he had hoped that his supporters' within the labour movement won't do the same - I expect "Third Parties" to launch ad campaigns in support of their favorite political party.  In the case of the BC Fed of Labour - I firmly expect them to launch negative, pro-NDP ads while the group "Concerned Citizens for BC" will obviously be campaigning to have the BC Liberals' in office for a 4th term

View one such ad by the Manitoba NDP against then-Manitoba Progressive Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen below:

Civil Action: Cariboo RD v. Williams Lake (City)

As I noted last week - the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) has launched a civil claim against the City of Williams Lake last Tuesday (Jan 15th) and filed in the Vancouver Court Registry.

In their claim, the CRD seeks the following:

1. A declaration that the RFPA (Rural Fringe Fire Protection Agreement) is valid and binding;
2. An order for specific performance of the RFPA (enforce the original RFPA);
3. In the alternative, general and special damages for breach of contract;
4. An extension to the interim injunction requiring the Defendant (City of Williams Lake) to continue to provide fire protection services until the Plaintiff (Cariboo Regional District) is able to implement a satisfactory alternative for its residents in the Rural Fringe Area;
5. Interest pursuant to the Court Order Interest Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 79;
6. Costs; and
7. Such further and other relief as this Honourable Court deems just.

The City, under BC Supreme Court rules, has 21 days to respond.  The City, as of this writing, has not filed a response (to the best of my knowledge) to the CRD Civil Claim and the allegations contained within the Claim are unproven in Court

In a report authored by the City's Acting Administrator Geoff Goodall - when the City files a response, the City could intiate mediation which is then binding on the Cariboo Regional District, although he hopes that both sides agree to mediation to speed up the process.  As I previously noted, I don't see the CRD agreeing to mediation immediately while their fire protection survey is still out until Jan 28th and certainly no action on mediation can occur, in my opinion, until after Feb 12th when CRD Directors/Staff and residents' from parts of CRD Areas D, E,F review the survey results and decide on a course of action which ranges from -- renegotiate a fire protection agreement with the City of WL, continue legal proceedings (as per above) or start up a fire department to cover the rural fringe areas, just outside the City of Williams Lake boundaries

Like many City and Rural residents, I'm sure - I will be interested to see what type of discussion is allowed on this at tonight's WL Council meeting, given that I'm sure WL City Council has been instructed (by the City's lawyer) to say as little as possible to protect the City's position in Court.

Read the civil claim document below for yourself:

Cancelling of Joint Committee Mtgs questioned?

Earlier this month - the Central Cariboo Rural Caucus adopted a motion recommended by its' Chair (Cariboo RD Area 'F' Director) Joan Sorley to cancel regularly scheduled meetings of the Central Cariboo/City of WL Joint Committee until resolution of the Rural Fringe Fire Protection issue.

A letter, dated Jan 14th, was forwarded to the City of Williams Lake, advised them of the Rural Caucus motion.  However, on Jan 18th, the Cariboo RD Board refused to endorse the recommendation of the Rural Caucus which then caused Director Sorley to author another letter on Jan 18th advising of the Board's action but indicated that the Jan 23rd Joint Committee would still be cancelled and that the Cariboo RD Directors' for Areas D, E, F (Bischoff, Kemp and Sorley) would not participate in any more discussions regarding the Pool Task Force until such time the full tax implication of Rural Fringe fire protection are understood

However, in a report authored by City of WL Acting Administrator Geoff Goodall, his staff can find no mechanism that would permit the CRD (current host for Joint Committee meetings until June) to cancel the meetings on their own, as per the Terms of Reference for the Central Cariboo/City of WL Joint Committee, signed in 2001 by then Mayor Ivan Bonnell and then-CRD Chair Ted Armstrong

Although I am a little uncomfortable with the tone of the report -- the CRD's only option at this point to comply with the Jan 18th letter of the Regional District is to not show up for the Jan 23rd Central Cariboo Joint Committee meeting and all future meetings which would, due to quorum issues, prevent any Joint Committee meetings' from occurring

View the full report here

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Cost of Rural Fire Departments

In his 2nd posting on his blog - local Cariboo RD Area 'E' resident John Cantelo makes a very compelling argument as to why his fellow Area E residents' as well as those in Cariboo RD Areas D/F should authorize the setting up of a 'Central Cariboo VFD (Volunteer Fire Department)', rather than have the City of Williams Lake provide Fire Protection

Also - in talking with WL City Councillor SPS Rathor last night, he has advised me that the City of Williams Lake Council will not make public comment on last Thursday's meeting held in the Gibraltar Room, in regard to rural fringe fire protection, based on advice given to WL City Council by City of WL lawyers

Read Mr. Cantelo's 2nd blog posting here

Concern raised re: Dangerous Cargo Transport.

In light of last Thursday's 'dangerous cargo' incident in Wildwood - McLeese Lake resident Tom Schoen expresses a concern regarding the transportation of dangerous cargo near McLeese Lake and Highway 97

I share his concern, given the nearest 'certified' fire department is Wildwood, although there is a 'independent' fire department at Tyee Lake, it is for that local community and even Wildwood Fire Department, I believe, does not have Hazardous Materials or HazMat training and we should be ensuring our local rural fire departments are trained to do HazMat incidents', given mines in Cariboo Regional District Area D (Gibraltar Mines) and Area 'F' (Mt. Polley) and the potential for a mine (New Prosperity) in Area 'K' (Hanceville)

Some of the materials transported on our highways and local roads to these mines are so potentially dangerous, for public safety reasons, the public interest requires that our rural communities are prepared, should a spill occur... both with well-trained rural fire departments and maybe even looking into 'dangerous cargo' bylaws for rural roads adjacent to a mine...

Tom's "Letter to the Editor":

I am writing to you in light of the recent accident on Highway 97 in Wildwood that caused a 24 hour highway closure and the evacuation of over 40 homes.

As a McLeese Lake resident who uses Sheridan Hill in McLeese Lake daily, I have been concerned about the transportation of dangerous goods for a few years now. At the exact time of the accident in Wildwood I was visiting with a group of concerned neighbors to discuss the very issue, only to hear the next morning of the highway closure and the resulting evacuation. Every driver who uses the commonly called “mine hill road” in McLeese Lake knows of the steep grade, the often poor road conditions and has witnessed stalled transportation trucks, forcing traffic to pass on the hill.

I have been made aware of the transportation of dangerous products to Gibraltar Mine and wondered if protocols or regulations are in place. Ammonium nitrate is hazardous to inhale or touch, and can be extremely explosive when in contact with heat or an ignition source. When mixed with diesel fuel you get ANFO which is what took down the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

In December of 2011 the Canadian Auditor General's office released a report about the transportation of dangerous goods. The report found, among other concerns that:

• Transport Canada lacks a consistent approach to planning and implementing compliance activities. In particular, it has not established a “risk based” approach to monitoring companies involved in transporting dangerous goods.

• There is a lack of follow-up on reported deficiencies. Corrective action is not consistently taken when violations are discovered. Documentation of corrective actions is often missing or incomplete.

• The system for approving and overseeing Emergency Response Assistance Plans (ERAPs) is slow, and many plans are given merely “interim” approvals, but never progress to full approval (some have been designated interim as long as ten years).

• Inspectors lack detailed guidance on how to enforce and monitor compliance.

Some members of the community can not agree that dangerous goods should be traveling on a busy highway without making us aware of the risk and implementing better safety regulations. In Prince George city stakeholders and citizens have been expressing concerns about dangerous goods transportation, which led to a new city bylaw.

I don’t believe accidents are avoidable, but the recent event has shown, we need to be aware and prepared.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

NDP selects candidate for Cariboo-North

As expected -- the BC NDP Party members' in Cariboo-North have selected former Cariboo RD Area 'F' Director Duncan Barnett (1999-2010) as their candidate for this May's provincial election.  Mr. Barnett will run against current Ind. Cariboo-North MLA Bob Simpson and BC Liberals' candidate (and former Quesnel Councillor) Coralee Oakes.  As Mr. Barnett says - I think the battle between him and MLA Simpson will be tough, thereby possibly allowing Ms. Oakes to 'walk up the middle' and get the riding in May.  Although the BC Conservatives' have said that they will run candidates in Cariboo-North and Cariboo-Chilcotin, I would think by March (when they plan to have both candidates in place) it would be a case of "too little too late"

See more below:

The N-D-P now has a candidate in Cariboo North.

Duncan Barnett, a former Cariboo Regional District Director, defeated current Quesnel City Councillor Shushil Thapar at a nomination meeting in front of a large crowd.

More than 150 people packed into the Royal Canadian Legion including N-D-P Leader Adrian Dix.

Barnett acklowledged in his victory speech that it will be a tough battle in the riding.

He says they will have to campaign because it is going to be a tough three-way race but Barnett says if you want to change government you're going to have to vote N-D-P.

Barnett will be up against Incumbent M-L-A Bob Simpson, a former N-D-P representative who is now an Independent, and Coralee Oakes who is carrying the Liberal Party banner.

Meanwhile,as noted above, BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix was in attendance as Barnett was selected as the NDP Candidate for Cariboo-North.  Here is what Mr. Dix had to say:

The Leader of the Opposition and possibly Premier in waiting paid a visit to Quesnel on Sunday. (Jan 20)

Adrian Dix was part of the crowd at the Cariboo North N-D-P nomination meeting.

He told the crowd that his party planned to run a positive campaign in every riding including in the North Cariboo.

Dix was asked if he would honour the Liberal committment of 4-million dollars for the proposed Multi-Centre in Quesnel.

He says there is no concern there saying his party is very supportive of the project and would work to see it happen.

Dix also noted in his speech that the Cariboo ridings are very important to his government saying the party has never been in power without holding at least one seat in the Cariboo.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lac La Hache Elementary to close??

On Jan 8th of this year at a Special School District #27 Board meeting -- School District #27 Zone 5 Trustee Sheila Boehm filed a notice of motion that, if passed, would invoke SD #27 Board Policy to close Lac La Hache Elementary on June 30th, 2013.  Keep in mind that Lac La Hache Elementary was not on the list of 5 schools slated for closure, as part of the 'Initial Options' report released in September of 2012

The motion will be considered on Tuesday as part of the formal 'Initial Options' discussions at their Special Open Board meeting

If adopted and the school closes - the students' would be transferred to 108 Mile Elementary and it would lead to the biggest numbers of school closures (6) done at once by any one SD #27 Board in the entire history of School District #27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin)

The current schools' slated for closure are:

a) Williams Lake -- Glendale, Kwaleen and Wildwood Elementary
b) 100 Mile -- Buffalo Creek Elementary and 100 Mile Jr Secondary

The exact wording of Trustee Boehm's motion is:

THAT the Board of Education invoke the 90 day school closure
consultation process in accordance with Policy 1711 for Lac La Hache
Elementary School to be closed effective June 30th, 2013.

-- SBF

WL Council Bus. - Jan 22nd

For those in Williams Lake - your City Council will consider the following matters:

a) Local RCMP Inspector Warren Brown and Safer Communities Coordinator Dave Dickson to appear before WL Council to give an update

b) Jan 18th letter from CRD Area 'F' Director Joan Sorley - read here (Editor's Note -- City Staff indicate that a Staff report is forthcoming for this item and is not available, as of this writing)

c) Report of the Acting CAO re: Mediation to resolve impasse for CRD Rural Fringe (Areas D,E,F) Fire Protection.  (Editor's Note -- again, no report as of this writing.  Also, I don't expect the CRD to agree to mediation until after Feb 12th when the CRD Directors for Areas D,E,F meet with their residents' regarding the current survey that is out for completion.  After that, we should have an indication if CRD Residents' are willing to go another round with WL City Council . My guess -- CRD Residents' will tell their elected officials to tell the City to shove it and build an ind. Fire Department and thereupon costing City taxpayers' $500,000+ in annual fire protection revenue which would translate into an immediate 5% tax hike unless Council decides to implement drastic service cuts that total $500,000 or a combination of a tax hike and service cuts that total $500,000+ and that's before Council decides on what they want to accomplish in 2013 and keep in mind, the 2013 Budget already has a $300,000 deficit that needs to be fixed for the 2013 Budget  to be fully balanced

d) Residential School Commemorative Project & Monument in Boitanio Park - read here

Finally - WL Council will receive its' Cheque Runs from Jan 4th, 10th and 17th and an interesting cheque was sent was to "Young Anderson".  They are a law firm in Vancouver that specializes in Local Government Law.  Given the invoice dated Jan 8th, 2013.  It is a very sure bet that they acted for Williams Lake in the recent court case of Cariboo Regional District v. City of Williams Lake where the BC Supreme Court gave the Cariboo Regional District a 120 day (4 months) temporary court injunction requiring the City to provide fire protection to CRD Rural Fringe residents' in Areas D, E, F.  The cheque amount was $12,691.45 which now sees both City/CRD taxpayers paying lawyers $27,691.45 so far to fight this issue in Court and I don't think that it is the end of it.  It is conceivable that both CRD/City of WL taxpayers' could be on the hook for as much as $50,000 before we are done here.  Not exactly a good use of taxpayers money, I would argue

Quesnel Council Bus - Jan 21st

For those in Quesnel - your City Council will consider the following noteworthy matters:

a) Adopt Recommendation from Jan 14th COW Mtg re: 2013 City of Quesnel Budget.  Read more here
b) Renew SPCA Contract - read here (Staff rpt), here (Contract) and here (Financial Details)
c) Approval of 2013 Strategic Plan - read here
d) Residential Garbage in South Quesnel - read here and here
e) Appointments to new Tourism Committee - read here
f) Change to City Auditor - read here (Staff report) and here (Letter from Mr. Rasmussen)
g) Quesnel Council to adopt new "2 Mile Flat" Fire Protection Agreement w/Cariboo RD - read here

Editor's Note - Interesting that Quesnel Council/CRD can get an agreement together over 1 year for fire protection with affected CRD Rural Fringe residents' in Area B, but yet with the same type of situation in Williams Lake, elected officials (CRD/City of WL Council) here fight like cats/dogs.... :(

Friday, January 18, 2013

Local Gov't Mtgs - Wk of Jan 21-25

Quesnel/Williams Lake City Councils' and the Board of Education for SD #27 will meet next week as follows:

Quesnel - Regular Meeting on Monday, Jan 21st at 7:00pm in Quesnel Council Chambers (2nd Flr - 410 Kinchant St).  View the Agenda here

Williams Lake - Regular Meeting on Tuesday, Jan 22nd at 6:00pm in WL Council Chambers (450 Mart St).  View the Agenda here

School District #27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin).  Special Meeting on Tuesday, Jan 22nd at 6:30pm in the SD#27 Boardroom (350 2nd Ave).  View the Agenda here

CRD Board Highlights - Jan 18th mtg

Courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District:

Spectra Energy

Steve Henderson, Manager, Community and Aboriginal Relations, and Joanne Metz, Community Coordinator, from Spectra Energy Transmission, appeared before the Board to provide information relating to Spectra's operations throughout the region. Discussions focused on socio-economic opportunities, stakeholder outreach programs and strategic giving programs.  Other areas of discussion included Public Awareness and Emergency Preparedness as well as Spectra’s new Natural Gas System. Further information about their programs is available online at    

Election of CRHD & CCRHD Chair and Vice‐Chair

The Cariboo Regional Hospital District (CRHD) and the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District (CCRHD) elected their Chair and Vice Chair for 2013. Area C Director, John Massier was re-elected as Chair while Vice‐Chair duties will be carried out by Area H Director, Margo Wagner.

Solid Waste Management Plan Update

The Cariboo Regional District endorsed the final draft of the Updated Solid Waste Management Plan. The plan had recently been presented to the municipalities of 100 Mile House, Quesnel and Williams Lake for their review and to provide their comments and approvals. The Solid Waste Management Plan will now be submitted to the Ministry of Environment for legislated approval and final adoption by the province.

Area B Director Initiative Funds Approved

The Board authorized up to $1,200 of Electoral Area B Director Initiative Funds at the request of Director Dixon-Warren.  The funds will be used for the Area Director to attend the Central BC Agriculture Advisory Committee Workshop in Langley on March 13.

Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative Funding      

The Cariboo Regional District will be applying to grant funding programs for plan, prescription, demonstration and operational fuel mitigation projects in 2013.

The Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative (SWPI) is a suite of funding programs managed through the Provincial Fuel Management Working Group – including the First Nations Emergency Services Society (FNESS), Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations and the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM). The initiative supports communities to mitigate risk from wildfire in the wildland urban interface. The wildland urban interface is any area where combustible wildland fuels (vegetation) are found adjacent to homes, farm structures, other outbuildings or infrastructure.

      Detailed information about the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative funding program and applications for funding can be accessed on the UBCM website at

NCLGA Resolutions

CRD Directors discussed a number of potential resolutions for the North Central Local Government Association's (NCLGA) annual general meeting and convention. Topics under consideration include resubmission of an item regarding noxious weeds rancher authority, moving heritage week to later in the year, impaired driving, and taxation from the sale of pet foods to support animal protection. The annual NCLGA event will be taking place in Quesnel May 1 – 3, 2013.

Next CRD Board Meeting

Friday, February 8, 2013