Wednesday, January 10, 2018

High Overdose Case Load In Vernon

Vernon, BC, Canada / 1075 Beach Radio Vernon Pete McIntyre January 10, 2018 07:00 am
Vernon Jubilee Hospital had to deal with the second most opioid overdoses in the Interior Health region last year. The agency says 316 were reported to medical officials, trailing only Kelowna General with 371. I-H notes that only includes the reported cases, and doesn’t reflect the overall number in the community. There was 17 fatal overdoses in Vernon last year, to the end of October.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Vernon In The Red For Snow Control

Vernon, BC, Canada / 1075 Beach Radio Vernon Tom Mark January 09, 2018 11:10 am
It’s been a snowy winter and the City of Vernon is paying the price. The city’s snow and ice control budget for 2017 went into the red. Public Works Manager James Rice says the budget for last year was 670 thousand dollars. “As of today, just checking the numbers and we do still have a few costs rolling in, though they’ll be minor, we’re currently sitting just over 700 thousand dollars, so about a 35 thousand dollar overage for 2017.” Although we got a big dump of snow early in November, much of the reason for going in the red goes back to the start of the year. “January and February of last year were very busy. We did go over on our snow removal amount of that budget by about 30 thousand dollars.” The cost will be covered through a reserve fund that has been built up over the years and it can be used for 2018 as well. “Obviously it’s very early for 2018 and typically January and February tend to be our busiest months for snow and ice. So, usually around April – May we do a quick check of the budget and we have a pretty good idea how we’re going to sit for the rest of the year.” People living in Vernon’s residential areas waiting for the city to do snow removal won’t see that happening. Public Works Manager James Rice says there’s no money in the budget for that. “It’s a very expensive process. Plowing snowto the sides is one thing, but when you have to remove snow, it’s a totally different function.” The city concentrates its snow removal program in the downtown core and the highway. Already in 2018 we’ve tackled 48th Avenue, the downtown core, 27th street. We are closely monitoring the highway right now. Even though we don’t plow the highway through town, we are responsible for snow removal down that section.” Rice says the warmer weather this week is helping to melt some of that snow. A system may be moving in that could bring snow Thursday and any snow removal along the highway likely wouldn’t happen until Friday or Saturday

Council Debates City Pot Ban

Vernon, BC, Canada / 1075 Beach Radio Vernon Pete McIntyre January 08, 2018 07:26 pm
Vernon council has had another debate on the legalization of marijuana — this time about whether municipalities should have the right to ban the sale of the drug, if they want, once it becomes legal across Canada. Councillor Scott Anderson made a motion to ask the province for that type of community ban, even though he says, he’s not against pot dispensaries.“I think that municipalities should have that jurisdiction. We’re the ones most affected, we’re the ones who have to pay the price and reap the benefits. I think we should have that jurisdiction,” Anderson told Beach Radio News. Anderson says it’s a matter of principal. “I am not trying to close down marijuana dispensaries. What I want is for the city to retain the jurisdiction — the ability — in the future; that they should be the ones to say if marijuana is sold here or not.” Anderson’s motion failed to get enough support, falling in a 4-2 vote.
Councillor Dalvir Nahal supported Anderson’s motion to write the province on the issue. “I feel that municipalities should have that jurisdiction to close some down. As I’ve stated before, I’m not against them, but I feel like we have way too many in this small community, so it would have been nice to have that option,” says Nahal.

However, four other council members like Juliette Cunningham opposed the motion. Cunningham says a majority of Canadians support legalizing cannabis, and it doesn’t make sense to allow 4 members of council to decide if it’s allowed in the city or not. Councilor Bob Spiers says the city can control where the operations are located through zoning, and through business licenses. “We could say that we will not allow a marijuana retail operation using our zoning laws. Whether that would pass within the city, who knows? But we’ve got adequate control, as far as I’m concerned,” Spiers tells Beach Radio.

 Meantime, council has passed a motion, to seek 50% of the tax revenues from pot, that the BC government gets.
Don Quixote Comment:

The amendment to zoning bylaw for the zoning restrictions for a Canadian Licensed Marijuana Production business was passed Aug. 11 2014.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Local Assessment Roll Values for Local Areas. (Your Assessment Notice is in the mail )

Assessment average %age changes for Vernon will be posted when available after Jan 2, 2018.

If your assessment percentage change is close to the average, then this year's assessment will not mean much to your tax bill. Any increase in your municipal taxes will be solely due to increased municipal spending, not the share of the tax burden that you personally carry.
If your percentage change is below the average, then your tax bill will be proportionately smaller than it was last year.
And if your percentage change is above the average, then your bill will be proportionately higher.
Despite these calculations, of course, the final determinant of the size of your 2018 tax bill will be how much your municipal council decides to spend. Your assessment in relation to others only determines the proportion of the total tax burden you'll pay. That total is in your council's hands.
To check 2017 property assessments online go to
The summary below provides estimates of average 2017 versus 2018 assessed values of residential homes throughout the region. These examples demonstrate market trends for single family residential (or strata where noted) properties by geographic area: 

True Leaf to build pot plant

By Jon Manchester - CASTANET Jan 2, 2018 / 6:46 am 
A Vernon-based medicinal marijuana company is doubling down on its Lumby operation by purchasing the 40-acre property. True Leaf Medicine International Ltd. has exercised an option to purchase land at a cost of $3.3 million. An up-front fee of $100,000 was paid to the vendor to secure the option. True Leaf now has 30 days to complete the purchase. The company launched a public offering qualified by the Securities and Exchange Commission on Nov. 30 to raise $10 million. It will use a portion of the funds to build phase one of a production facility. Ownership of the land will allow it to demolish an existing building and construct a 16,000-square-foot hydroponic grow building and 9,000-square-foot building housing offices, extraction facility, laboratory and packaging areas. Site and foundation work is expected to begin in coming weeks with completion by summer. True Leaf anticipates that the first phase of the build will include annual production of 2,500 kilograms of dried cannabis once the facility passes Health Canada’s inspection and the company becomes a licensed producer. The company's application to produce and distribute cannabis under Health Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations has completed the security clearance stage. “In addition to purchasing the 40 acres of land to build our facility, the proceeds of the ... offering will also be used to acquire the best talent and technology available to help us fulfill our commitment to producing premium products," says CEO Darcy Bomford, The company has received the support of Lumby Mayor Kevin Acton and expects to become a significant employer in the community of 1,700.
Also see:

Monday, January 01, 2018

Vernon Newsmaker of 2017

By Darren Handschuh - CASTANET Jan 1, 2018 / 5:00 am
Juliette Cunningham is a strong believer in social justice.And the three-term city councillor has used her political post to rally for the marginalized residents of Vernon – with measurable success. Cunningham has been partnering with various agencies throughout her time as a councillor to champion the cause of the city's homeless and working poor. Her stance was not always a popular one with the community and even some of her council colleagues, but the 68 year old never wavered, making her the 2017 Castanet Vernon Newsmaker of the Year. Homelessness has been a topic of heated discussion in Vernon for months.Some want to drive them out of town, while others, like Cunningham look for a more caring solution to the problem. “One of the biggest motivators for me around the issue of housing is everyone should have the dignity of a roof over their head,” she said. “That's just a fundamental to me. You can't expect anyone to be successful while dealing with mental health, addictions and poverty if they don't have a roof over their head. It's not realistic.” Cunningham has come under fire at times for her stance, with some chastising her for being part of the problem, but Cunningham believes the work she has done benefits the entire community. “Not doing anything costs us a lot more than housing people. It's a proven fact that the cost to the health care system, the penal system, the costs are far greater. “The benefit of housing people is we created a better, safe community because sometimes those marginalized people do desperate things in order to meet their needs, or whatever. I have never condoned that, but I understand why it happens.” Cunningham admits it can be very challening at times, but she is inspired every day by the people she works with. “There are so many great leaders in the community. There's John Howard Society, Social Planning Council, North Okanagan Youth and Family Services, native housing – we have all of these. I am just one person that is part of a group that are really passionate about this,” said Cunningham, adding she uses her political post to champion the cause. And the hard work of Cunningham and the various agencies in town is seeing from success. Last month, the province announced it would invest $11 million in two affordable housing projects in the city. Almost 100 modular-housing units will be built in Vernon starting in the New Year. One is a new, permanent modular-housing project to be located on land owned by BC Housing at 27th Avenue and 35th Street which will provide 53 supportive housing units for people transitioning out of homelessness. These will be self-contained units with personal kitchens and washrooms. As well, a new permanent modular shelter with approximately 45 beds will be constructed at 2307 43rd Street to expand capacity of the current homeless shelter and transitional housing development at Howard House. Cunningham will continue to press for more affordable housing in Vernon and will keep working with various agencies to reach that goal.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Career Opportunities RDNO

Planner (Regular, Full-time) Competition No. 17-21

We have an immediate opening for the full-time position of Planner. The successful candidate will have a university degree in Planning or related field, experience in land use planning, preferably in a local government setting, a membership in or eligibility for membership in the Canadian Institute of Planners and a valid Class 5 driver’s licence.

Job Posting
Closing Date: Monday, January 15, 2018 - 4:00 pm

Saturday, December 30, 2017

MSP cut kicks off the new year right for British Columbians

Kris Sims, British Columbia Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CASTANET)
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) has released its annual report crunching the numbers on new year’s tax changes for Canadians. Many Canadians will only see minor changes to their tax bill, but thanks to the Medical Services Premium (MSP) cut, British Columbians will be some of the largest beneficiaries come Jan. 1. The MSP is being sliced in half as of Jan. 1, 2018. This move saves an average two adult home $900 per year in mandatory healthcare taxes. The government has promised to eliminate the MSP completely within their four-year mandate. The CTF has long argued that this unfair, inefficient fee needed to be axed, and will maintain the pressure on government to get rid of it altogether, saving an additional $900 per year per average household.“The CTF campaigned hard for a cut to MSP, so we’re very pleased this unfair tax will be halved on Jan. 1,” said the CTF’s B.C. Director, Kris Sims. “With housing and fuel continuing to be less and less affordable in B.C., this significant tax relief is most welcome.”

There is some bad news coming later in the year, however, which will eat into the MSP tax savings. B.C.’s carbon tax will jump to $35 per ton in April, making it the highest carbon tax in Canada. That means the carbon tax price at the pumps will go up to about 8.5 cents per litre of gasoline and more than 10 cents for diesel. That means it will cost you more than $5 extra in carbon tax every time you fill up your car and nearly $10 tacked on if you drive an SUV. The carbon tax is also applied to natural gas and home heating oil. Starting this year, the B.C. carbon tax will no longer be labelled as “revenue neutral” and the money will pour into government coffers without earmarks or tracking as to where it’s spent. With more than 5.7 billion litres of gasoline sold in B.C. last year, that means the provincial government will rake in an average of $490 million in gasoline carbon tax, and when the diesel carbon tax is included, that jumps to more than $600 million in tax revenue taken from motorists in one year.“The carbon tax is going to cost us even more and now we have no idea where it’s going,” continued Sims. “If you have two vehicles in your family this means the carbon tax now costs you about $360 per year just to drive your kids to school and get yourself to work and the grocery store. This doesn’t include the costs of all those goods that need to be trucked in. We will pay for that too.”

Federally, Employment Insurance (EI) premiums will rise slightly, costing employees and employers an additional $9 and $13 per year, respectively. The indexation of the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) will also come into force on July 1, 2018, leading to a slight decrease in payments to eligible families on January 1st. “There are no dramatic income tax changes on the federal side,” said CTF Federal Director Aaron Wudrick. “Canadians can for the most part breathe easy, but they shouldn’t expect to have much more money in their pockets.”

Wudrick noted that while 2018 did not hold many large tax changes, Canadians can expect further changes in 2019. “The Trudeau government has delayed imposing its national carbon tax until 2019, and Canada Pension Plan premiums will begin to rise annually as well,” said Wudrick. “There is still considerable uncertainty on the business tax front, both with respect to the Trudeau government’s controversial small business tax proposals, and due to recent dramatic tax cuts south of the border which will impact Canada’s competitiveness.”

  CTF calculations for the tax changes that will be occurring on Jan. 1 for 44 different income and family scenarios can be found here.
Carbon Tax The federal government says it will implement a federal carbon tax in any province that does not have carbon pricing — that meets their standard — by the end of 2018. If provinces don’t have a qualifying system in place, the federal government says it will impose a $10/tonne carbon tax in that province. However, in some provinces the governments are imposing even higher carbon taxes.
 • British Columbia: April 1st, 2018 the carbon tax rate will increase to $35/tonne from $30/tonne.
• Alberta: January 1 st, 2018 the carbon tax will increase to $30/tonne from $20/tonne.
• Saskatchewan: No plans for a carbon tax.
• Manitoba: Plans to introduce a $25/tonne tax sometime in 2018.
• Ontario: Has a cap-and-trade system and on January 1st, 2018 it joins the Quebec-California carbon market.
• Quebec: Has a cap-and-trade system. • New Brunswick: Plans to shift 2.33 cents per litre of the provincial gas tax to be a carbon tax in 2018. With the funds directed to programs to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
• Nova Scotia: Plans to implement a cap-and-trade system on large emitters in 2018.
• Price Edward island: Plan expected in early 2018.
• Newfoundland and Labrador: Plan expected in the spring of 2018.
Don Quixote Note: The carbon tax in B.C. is also subject to the 5% GST. This will add to the cost of filling up t he car or home heating (Natural gas). Also Gst will be applied to the carbon tax for cremations.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

First Nations eye pot biz

The Canadian Press - Dec 28, 2017 / 6:34 am CASTANET
Canada's marijuana industry is expanding rapidly, and some First Nations are looking to cash in on the emerging economic opportunities – including in the North Okanagan. Phil Fontaine, an Indigenous politician turned marijuana executive, has spent the last year travelling the country and talking to First Nations about jobs, wealth and training opportunities the burgeoning marijuana business could bring. One such business is in Armstrong. "Everywhere we've been, it's been the same reaction, interest, excitement. First Nations are speaking about possibilities and potential. So it's been very encouraging," said the former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Marijuana businesses represent "tremendous potential" for First Nations, partially because communities are able to get in on the ground floor, instead of fighting to catch up years later as has traditionally been the case, Fontaine said. "This is a unique opportunity. This sector is different than any other the Indigenous community has experienced. Everyone is starting off at the same point," he said in a telephone interview. Fontaine is the CEO of Indigenous Roots, a medical marijuana company operated by and for First Nations across Canada. The company is a joint venture with Cronos Group, a medical-marijuana grower licensed by Health Canada. Once Indigenous Roots is operating, its profits will be split evenly between partner First Nations and Cronos. Though recreational marijuana is set to become legal this summer, Indigenous Roots will focus on supplying prescription pot to First Nations communities, which Fontaine said have traditionally had lower access to the drug. "We want to make sure that this particular service is made available to our communities in every part of the country," he said. Plans are in the works to build an Indigenous Roots growing facility next to an existing Cronos facility in Armstrong with the aim of serving patients by the end of 2018, Cronos CEO Mike Gorenstein said in an interview. Current Cronos workers will train First Nations employees to run the Indigenous Roots operation, he said. "Long term and medium term, this is meant to be an Indigenous-operated company," Gorenstein said. "Our commitment is to make sure that any knowledge that we have or we continue to gain, that we're sharing and we're always there to support.” The new facility will create between 30 and 50 jobs, plus other opportunities in marketing, sales and accounting, Gorenstein said. Future operations will likely be even bigger, he added.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Sterile Insect Release (SIR) Program

Below is a data analysis of the SIR Tax Requisition. All participating areas at RDNO (Vernon, Coldstream, Armstrong, Spallumcheen and Areas B & C are charged on the basis of land value assessment only. That is how it arrives on your property tax bill. (Nord1 assessed land only in Vernon.) Total in 2017 $294,272. Vernon's share in 2017 $191,367 (65.03%). My personal share on my property was $11.99 in 2017.

The actual fruit growers acreage to which this program applies is charged on the property tax bill is a per acre charge of $139.26. Total acreage for the RDNO fruit growers is 1165.15 acres and a total charge of $162,259 in 2016. Vernon fruit growers had 135.85 (11.66%) of the total acreage and were taxed $18,919.

If the taxpayers of Vernon were charged on the basis of fruit acreage in their jurisdiction rather than assessed land values as is the present formula the taxes required would be reduced by $157,064. In 2009 the difference was calculated to be a $157,906 reduction.

Naturally if this formula changed to Fruit acreage only other areas would be effected.

Driverless legislation pushed

Darren Handschuh - CASTANET Dec 21, 2017 / 3:07 pm | Story: 214639
The BC Conservatives think the province should take the wheel when it comes to driverless cars. Scott Anderson, interim leader of the BC Cons, believes British Columbia should be at the forefront of the coming transportation revolution by proactively introducing framework legislation to allow autonomous vehicles on our roads. The party proposes legislation to allow autonomous vehicle testing on B.C. streets, similar to the legislation enacted in Ontario, but further reaching, as in the case of Virginia, where autonomous vehicles can be tested in real-world conditions. According to Anderson, automakers and some technology companies hope to begin deploying driverless vehicles around 2020, and at least one manufacturer of light autonomous vehicles is ready for deployment as early as next year. In terms of heavy trucking, Loblaw Companies Ltd. has already pre-ordered 25 electric self-driving trucks from Tesla. The autonomous programming software is already installed in them, but dormant because there is no legislation for its use. Meanwhile, as of 2017 33 US states have introduced autonomous vehicle legislation and 21 states have actually passed legislation related to autonomous vehicles. "We are at the cusp of a revolution in transportation that will rival the transition from horse to automobile in importance," said Anderson. "Autonomous vehicles are coming far faster than we think, and coupled with the cheap, clean energy that Site C and other development projects will produce, these technologies will revolutionize our existence...everything from our use of streets to how we work and live will be impacted." Autonomous vehicles are expected to save lives, lower insurance costs, and reduce injuries. Various studies have found that human error is the culprit in between 90-97 per cent of crashes, and a 2014 study found that U.S. traffic crashes cost society $836 billion annually.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

ASHLEY WADHWAN IDec. 20, 2017 10:00 a.m. Morning Star 
The B.C. government is making overdose-reversing naloxone kits more readily available for residents across the province, free of charge. About 1,900 kits have been distributed to 220 pharmacies for the first time this month, addictions minister Judy Darcy announced Wednesday. “Our most urgent priority is to keep people alive, so we’re dramatically expanding easy access to naloxone,” she said. The expansion program will allow pharmacists to also train those interested on how to use the kit, as well as detect an overdose. BC Coroners stats show that 1,400 lives are expected to be lost to opioid-related fatalities by the end of 2017.

The no-cost kits are now available at pharmacies located within London Drugs and Save-on-Foods, as well as others, for people who use opioids or are likely to witness and respond to an overdose. To ensure privacy, identifying information about the person receiving the kit is not tracked.Access to harm-reduction tools is one of the key pillars in the province’s response to combating the overdose crisis – and pharmacies can play a big role in ridding the barrier to accessing the life-saving kits, said Geraldine Vance, BC Pharmacy Association chief executive officer.“Pharmacists are trained, experienced and knowledgeable, not only in medication but in providing an essential health-care service to our patients and to our community,” Vance said.