Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Agency impacted by dumpster removal

By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star Published: June 02, 2009 7:00 PM

An organization that feeds the hungry and cares for the poor believes city hall is dumping on it. The Salvation Army could see costs rise after it removed dumpsters from outside of its 29th Avenue thrift store to conform with a new bylaw that eliminates containers from the public portion of alleys. “We’re doing our best to make it work but I’m not sure if it’s do-able,” said David MacBain, community ministries director. Instead of placing garbage into a dumpster in the alley, a driver and assistant will now pick up the waste twice a day and transport it to the 32nd Avenue food bank where there’s a dumpster on private land. “There will be wages and gas. This is on top of regular business and that will be several thousands of dollars annually,” said MacBain. The Salvation Army has a limited budget and additional expenses take away from funding available to provide programs for the less fortunate.The thrift shop has one dumpster of cardboard a week and one-and-a-half to two containers full of waste daily. The store relies on donations to re-sell but not everything is in good condition. “We don’t produce the waste. It’s given to us and it’s waste,” said MacBain. The Salvation Army has asked the city to exempt the thrift shop from the bylaw.

Mayor Wayne Lippert isn’t sure what the city will do with the Salvation Army’s request. “We’re always willing to listen to any business,” he said. “But the program was advertised and a survey of merchants was done and I wish they would have given us some input earlier instead of later.” No immediate enforcement of the bylaw is occurring. “We will give everyone a couple of weeks grace,” said Shirley Koenig, operation services manager. Once the phase-in period is over, anyone who hasn’t removed their dumpster will receive a warning letter and if it continues, a fine of up to $100 per day. “We are seeking co-operation. We don’t want to go down the line of enforcement,” said Koenig, who defends the decision to remove dumpsters.“It’s for a better downtown and it’s to everyone’s benefit. It’s about safety and cleanliness.”

Blasting Rocks Middleton Mtn. Homes

Starlee Speers- Vernon 107.5 SUN FM:

The city of Vernon has shut down blasting work at a site on Middleton mountain after work being done Tuesday dislodged large boulders, damaging two homes Ed Stranks with the city's engineering development services says the developer will be responsible for covering the costs of the damage. "They can't do any more blasting work up there until we get a report on what happened, on what they're going to do to deal with, and they're going to have to deal with all the property owners up there who have any type of damage from what happened. Mt. Ida Drive Home owner Aaron Mackie and his young son were home this morning when he heard the large rock hit the side of his house. Another large boulder crushed part of his neighbours outdoor dog kennel, which was empty at the time. Jock's blasting and Sons" was contracted to do the work for Calgary based company "Alderbaran Homes"In March, a backyard a few homes up was damaged after a mudslide ripped down the hillside.
Rocked by explosion
CHBC Web posted on Tuesday, 02 June 2009

It's no wonder the neighbours are nervous living next to a construction site where rock blasting is underway.

What rights for property owners?

By Phil Melnychuk - Maple Ridge News Published: June 02, 2009 2:00 PM

Nancy Cunningham didn’t know what to do when a homeless person started to use her property for a camp site. And while the man has since vacated the premises, she’s still not sure of where her rights end and another’s begins, even when it comes to protecting one’s private property. The man showed up in the middle of last week, set up a tarp and brought in a pile of old clothes, bikes and bicycle parts and made himself at home on at the edge of her one-acre property near Fern Crescent. So she called the RCMP, who came and talked to the man. He promised he’d be gone the next day, but he never left, Cunningham said. She called police the next day who told her they couldn’t send an officer unless the man actually was on the property. She didn’t want to venture over to the campsite to see if it still was occupied. An officer eventually did attend, found the man wasn’t home and told her to call the District of Maple Ridge bylaws department.

It was there she was told, the municipality can’t remove people from private property, only from municipal property. “If he’s on municipal private property, the city can remove him. This is what is so shocking.” So Cunningham came up with another strategy. When the camper was absent on Saturday, Cunningham had a friend come by and clear up the man’s possessions. She told the bylaws department where they were relocated, so the man could retrieve his possessions. “I basically had to take things into my own hands. I didn’t throw the man’s stuff away, I relocated it.”

But property owners do have rights, explained Brock McDonald, bylaws director with the District of Maple Ridge. What they have to do is talk directly to the trespasser and ask him or to leave. That’s usually done with a police officer present, he said. “The request has to come from the property owner.” He said while district bylaw officers can remove people from public property, they can’t evict people trespassing on private property. Nor can police. The request must come from the landowner. “It’s clearly trespassing when that person has not been invited on to the property by you.” McDonald said police usually negotiate with the person to give him or her time to clear off. Ridge Meadows RCMP concur with that method. According to an RCMP spokesman, the owner must tell the trespasser to leave the property in the presence of an officer. “That way the owner has made it very clear the officer is assisting him in having the unwanted person removed from privately owned property.”Police confirmed, anyone who resists an attempt by a homeowner to remove a trespasser is considered to have committed assault by trespass.

According to the Criminal Code, Sec. 41.(1) “Every one who is in peaceable possession of a dwelling-house or real property, and everyone lawfully assisting him or acting under his authority, is justified in using force to prevent any person from trespassing on the dwelling-house or real property, or to remove a trespasser therefrom, if he uses no more force than is necessary.”

Band Cuts Comments On Road

Peter McIntyre Tuesday, 02 June 2009 107.5 KISSFM:

The Okanagan Indian Band is clamping down on the information it releases about the fate of Lakeshore Road in Vernon. The band has been threatening to close down a portion of the road near Kin Beach, as part of a land claim dispute. The band's council was supposed to decide today whether the action would go ahead, but after the meeting, chief Fabian Alexis had little to say. He tells KISS FM,"Council has advised me at this time to (say) a simple no comment to any of the questions you may have."Alexis did say the road is open at this point, and the band will let the media know if there's any change to that.

Mayor Wayne Lippert says the city is prepared in case the road is closed. "The fire department, particularly the Okanagan Landing department, have identified alternate routes to use if they need to in the case of emergencies. The RCMP are definitely aware of it so we've taken all the precautions that we can that way." Lippert says the most inconvenience would be to people who live in that area ---and to people trying to get to Kin Beach. He says all the documents indicate the city has the right of way on the road, which he says was signed over to the city by the province when the Landing was annexed in 1993.

By-election Set

Glen Morrison Tuesday, 02 June 2009 107.5 KISSFM:

The days have been picked and Lumby voters may be having a by-election for mayor. On Monday night, village council set the wheels in motion to chose a successor to Eric Foster, now the Vernon Monashee Liberal MLA. Nominations will open June 30 and close July 10. If there's more than one candidate, voting day will be August 15, a Saturday, with an advance poll on Augusut 5. The election will cost village taxpayers about $5,000.

Lakeshore Road Showdown

Peter McIntyre Tuesday, 02 June 2009 107.5 KISSFM:

A legal showdown could be brewing between the city of Vernon and the Okanagan Indian Band. The band's council will meet today to decide if they will go ahead with closing Lakeshore Road in Okanagan Landing. Chief Fabian Alexis tells KISS FM his council will likely be in favour of proceeding, and he'll have more to say this afternoon. Alexis says his band has never surrendered title of the road. Vernon mayor Wayne Lippert says the city has legal right of way, and would challenge the issue in court. The dispute started last week after the band rejected a city project to address safety issues along Kin Beach.

City more than $3M in the black

Wayne Moore - Jun 2, 2009 CASTANET:

The City of Kelowna has a budget surplus of nearly $3.1 million for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2008. Special Projects Manager, Lynn Walter, says the 2008 surplus amounts to 3.5% of the total 2008 tax demand. "The city is not allowed to budget for a deficit, so we try and budget for a surplus less than 5% of taxation," says Walter. Walter told council Monday three main areas contributed to the surplus, including $1.5 million in higher than anticipated investment income, $700,000 in savings from Works, Utilities and Engineering projects and $800,000 in savings in salaries and wages. "The report also explains where surpluses are being expropriated to as recommended by the audit committee. It should be noted those recommended appropriations are consistent with the 10-year capital plan and the 2009 financial plan."

Walter says funds will be distributed as following:
  • $95,000 - General Fund Surplus
  • $600,000 - Arterial Roads Reserve
  • $100,000 - Non-Arterial Roads
  • $500,000 - Snow Removal
  • $400,000 - Civic Facilities
  • $100,000 - RCMP Building
  • $500,000 - Parks Purchase and Development
  • $400,000 - Off-Road Bikeway
  • $200,000 - Financial Major Systems
  • $200,000 - Fringe Benefit Load.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Homeless report ready for council

Wayne Moore -Jun 1, 2009 CASTANET:
A much anticipated draft report on ending homelessness in Kelowna has finally been released. The report outlines a number of strategies aimed at ending homelessness in the city within 10 years. Among the strategies outlined in the draft report are initiatives to provide permanent housing to people as quickly as possible, address the root causes of homelessness through housing, income and supports, increase the community capacity to end homelessness and to prevent people from becoming homeless. "This report is to create a committee of council to carry out a clear action strategy based on the draft Ending Homelessness plan. This report is the continuation of work that has been underway for quite some time," Community Planning Manager, Theresa Eichler told City Council Monday. "The intent of the committee is to come forward with very specific actions and implementation of those actions so we just don't have another document on the shelf." Despite not receiving a full copy of the report in time for Monday's meeting, Council did agree to adopt Terms of Reference to establish a Council Committee to End Homelessness and provide that committee with $1,700 to cover routine expenses.

"This is an issue that has been perking away without having come to council to be enshrined within our committee system. We need to give it our support and provide the leadership," says Councillor, Robert Hobson. "I very much support the direction the committee is going. I am very much a supporter of housing first as a solution to a lot of social issues. We have to achieve that." The budget for the initial report was approximately $100,000. Close to half of that was obtained through private donations while the provincial and federal governments also contributed. Hobson, also Chair of the Regional District, says regional funds were also contributed. "I think some of the regional partners will want to be involved in the next step of the process. We really need a regional solution to housing. I know the committee doesn't want to take on the world, but housing has to be dealt with at a regional level." While the committee will report back to council on a regular basis, Eichler says it's not clear how long they will need to bring back a final report. "Once their work is complete, they will end."

View complete draft report. (This is a PDF File)

Rise lots focus of liquidation

Morning Star Published: May 30, 2009 12:00 PM

A Vernon resort has accelerated attempts to overcome financial challenges. The Rise continues to seek a purchaser, and a liquidation sale for the existing real estate inventory will be held in June. “With the financial situation the developer is in at The Rise, now is the time for great deals,” said Greg Lowe, president of Land Launch Project Marketing, which will oversee liquidation of lots. In October, the 735-acre Rise development was listed for sale at an undisclosed price with CB Richard Ellis in Vancouver. “We have a number of qualified buyers seriously considering the opportunity to acquire The Rise,” said Marshall MacLeod, the realtor involved. MacLeod expects to have a contract to purchase the property in place within the next 30 days. In December, The Rise was awarded protection from its lenders and creditors by the Supreme Court of B.C. using the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act for a period of nine months. The developer is currently operating the resort and the completed golf course while it works through its financial issues. More than $14 million has been invested on the golf course and a total of $105 million in the resort community to date.

Ecstasy found in teen's purse

Castanet June 1
A teenage girl is going to have a lot of explaining to do after police found ecstasy in her purse. Officers doing a routine foot patrol on Kal beach in Vernon came across a pair of purses around 3 p.m. Friday. RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk says the purses were found on the dock, next to a large amount of liquor. “The liquor and purses were seized and the officers attempted to locate the owners of the purse. What they discovered when they looked in one of the purses was 40 ecstasy pills,” says Molendyk. He says they learned that the purses were owned by a pair of 16-year-old girls. “The police have been in contact with the families and the file remains open.” Molendyk says police will be doing foot patrols throughout the summer to check for liquor infractions.

B.C. halts use of older-model Tasers

The B.C. government has ordered the province's RCMP to pull all 578 older-model M-26 Tasers from service. Testing showed the same models used by municipal police forces, sheriffs and corrections officers didn't meet manufacturer's specifications 80 per cent of the time, Solicitor General Rich Coleman said Monday. An independent laboratory in Ontario tested in May 128 Tasers used by the B.C. municipal police, sheriffs and corrections officers. Of those, 102 failed the test. Coleman said none of the M-26 models can be put back in service until they've been repaired and re-tested.

Baby Geese Slain In Park

Peter McIntyre Monday, 01 June 2009 107.5 KISS FM: PolsonParkbirds
RCMP have no idea who may have attacked and killed a pair of baby Canada Geese near the pond in Polson Park The discovery was made by people walking in the park Saturday morning around 7:15, and was reported to police by local wildlife expert Pete Wise. One of the goslings was decapitated while the other was stabbed and clinging to life, and efforts to save it were not successful RCMP spokesman Gord Molendyk says the incident is "disturbing" and police are asking anyone with information to contact the Vernon RCMP or Crime Stoppers.

Tumbler Ridge - One Dead After Residential Explosion

2009-06-01 09:32 PDT RCMP News Release:

At approximately 2:30 AM on Sunday May 31, 2009, a large explosion occurred in a residential area along the first hundred block of Wolverine Avenue in Tumbler Ridge, BC. RCMP and the Tumbler Ridge Fire Department responded to the area immediately and found one home had been completely destroyed and two others severely damaged. Both hydro and natural gas to the area were disconnected to aid in the firefighting efforts. The Rocky Mountain Rangers were also called in to assist.

As a result of the explosion, one person has been confirmed deceased, but no others are believed to have suffered serious injuries. The name of the deceased is not being released at this time.

In all, twenty-six homes have been damaged due to this blast. The debris field is extensive and covers the neighbourhood. All residents affected by the blast have been given access to local victim and emergency services and are being accommodated by relatives and friends.

All indications at this time, are that a natural gas line had been tampered with. This is believed to be an isolated incident and there is no reason to believe any other members of the public are in danger. The BC Coroner's Service and RCMP continue to investigate this tragic event.

If you have any information on this or any other file, please contact your local detachment of the RCMP or call Crime Stoppers at (800)222-TIPS (8477).

Border protest planned

Don Plant 2009-06-01 Kelowna Daily Courier:
Native people are holding a demonstration at the American border today to protest tough border regulations requiring them to carry passports when they travel to and from the U.S. Starting today, B.C. travellers need either a passport, a NEXUS card or an enhanced B.C. driver‘s licence to cross into the United States. Native people from the Okanagan, the Similkameen and the Colville Confederate Tribe plan to gather on both sides of the 49th parallel south of Cawston to show their opposition to the new rules. Leaders argue the documents required at the border impose another “prohibitive, colonial-style restriction” that divides a people that used to enjoy free, fluid movement between Canada and the U.S. “We‘re what‘s known as a trans-boundary nation,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, chairman of the Okanagan Nation Alliance. “Our territory extends beyond the 49th parallel. Consequently, many of our relatives live south of the 49th parellel.”

American officials are pushing for tighter security along a border they say allows terrorists easy access to the U.S. from Canada. Many still believe the fiction that some of the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Centre in 2001 travelled to New York from Canada. Until today, native people living in Canada could travel south of the border by showing a driver‘s licence or an Indian Status card, Phillips said. The changes preclude the “vast majority of our people” the ability to cross the border, he said. “In many, if not most cases, people don‘t have passports. Unfortunately, the harassment of our people moving north and south continues.”

Before the U.S.-Canada border was established in 1846, the Sylix First Nation lived in northern Washington and southern B.C., according to the Okanagan Nation Alliance. Leaders from the Alliance and Colville Confederated Tribes met in Omak, Wash., three weeks ago to discuss the passport issue and other grievances. Spiritual leaders who cross the border often face guards who seize their spiritual bundles, Stewart said. The new rules represent the latest obstacle to what should be free movement for indigenous people, he said. “The border-crossing issue has been of concern for our people for a very long time in B.C. and across Canada. In some areas (in Eastern Canada) they‘ve set aside one day a year for cross-border protests.” The Assembly of First Nations and the federal government are working on ways to enhance Indian Status cards, which would allow First Nations people to travel back and forth without a passport. Protesters aren‘t expected to cross the border at today‘s demonstration. Stewart predicts hundreds of people to show up on both sides of the line. Thousands more are affected, he said.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

City and band focus on channel

By Wolf Depner - Penticton Western News Published: May 26, 2009

The city will look for ways to co-operate with the Penticton Indian Band in maintaining the Okanagan River Channel. Penticton council made that decision after receiving a letter from the band, reminding the city that the maintenance of the popular tourist attraction benefits both partners and falls under a cost-sharing agreement that sees the city provide in-kind support. Coun. Mike Pearce opposed the decision, citing financial concerns. The channel draws hundreds, if not thousands of daily users during the hot summer months. Using floatation devices of all sorts, users can be seen floating down the channel during the height of the tourism season. The path running along the channel also draws thousands of users year-round.Coun. Judy Sentes pointed to heavy use during her remarks in favour of working with the band. She also reminded council that Penticton is a tourism town whose reputation depends in part on cleanliness. Coun. Dan Albas agreed. “There is money we can find,” he said.

But Pearce said he is not sure that the city can afford the band’s request. The city’s in-kind support translates into real dollars and staff time, he said, noting that the channel and the path along it are outside city limits. “We have to stop somewhere,” he said. He also suggested that if the band had concerns about maintaining the channel, it should take their complaints to Coyote Cruises. The company runs a shuttle service from the north end of the channel to designated stops along the channel.This drew critical remarks from Mayor Dan Ashton. “It (the channel) is enjoyed by all,” said Ashton, noting that the band actually owns and operates Coyote Cruises. He also suggested that working with the band on this issue would go a long way towards deepening and improving relations with the band.

Recession puts bite on food bank

By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star Published: May 30, 2009

The recession has dominated headlines and political debates, but for a growing number of Vernonites, the downturn is cold, hard reality. During the first three months of 2009, 1,825 people walked through the door at the Salvation Army food bank, a 24 per cent hike over last year. “It’s difficult times for people in our town,” said David MacBain, community ministries director. Perceptions abound about who shows up at the food bank, but those views are shattered daily. “We see people who have no income because they are waiting for Employment Insurance to come in,” said MacBain. “They’ve been laid off and they’re not used to coming to us. It’s very humbling.” Specifically in March, the number of people helped climbed 40 per cent from 582 to 814. “We’ve never seen that kind of jump in clients before,” said MacBain. Of those, 61 per cent were on social assistance/disability, nine per cent receive a pension and eight per cent were on EI.

Even having a job doesn’t prevent people from needing help. Ten per cent of the recipients in March were employed. “They just can’t make ends meet with the dollars they are paid,” said MacBain, adding that many people are paying more for rent, transportation and utilities and that leaves them little if nothing for food. The number of children assisted in March climbed to 248, up from 187 during the same month in 2008. While demand is swelling, the average cost for a food hamper has jumped 133 per cent in the last five years. That places significant pressure on the Salvation Army’s limited financial resources. “It’s onerous on us. The kettle (fundraising) campaign didn’t increase 133 per cent but we still need to serve people,” said MacBain. That’s why the Salvation Army is urging residents, businesses and service clubs to donate non-perishable food items or money. “We’re still counting on the public to see the need and respond,” said MacBain. “Donations have increased but the number of people needing assistance has increased more so.”

Food and money will be collected at the 33rd annual Creative Chaos from June 5 to 7. “Without the generosity of the Creative Chaos organizers, and those attending this craft event, the food bank would most certainly run short of a sufficient supply of nutritious foods to offer those in need,” said MacBain.

The Salvation Army food bank is located at 3303 32nd Ave. in downtown Vernon.

PROLIFIC SUCCESS: Mounties stick to chronic crooks — and crime rate collapses

By Tim Petruk - Kamloops This Week Published: May 30, 2009

It’s 1 a.m., and two Mounties pull up outside a Kamloops home. They park on the street, get out of their vehicle and walk to the door. Raising a gloved fist, one of the cops knocks loudly three times. A few moments later, a man comes to the door and talks briefly with the officers.Within seconds, he goes back to bed and the cops leave.

He’s a career criminal and the Mounties are checking to make sure he’s abiding by his court-ordered curfew. It’s all part of the prolific-offender management program — and part of the dramatic reduction in crime in Kamloops. “Basically, we identify people who are repeat offenders in our community through statistics and convictions in court,” Kamloops RCMP Insp. Yves Lacasse said. “This group of people that we have, called the prolific offenders, are closely monitored by the police.” The prolific-offender program started in Kamloops in 2007 with 32 chronic crooks. A year later, another 15 were added to the list. This month, 10 more criminals were labelled prolific, bringing the total number to 67. Lacasse said the program involves plenty of work for Mounties, but the payoff is worth it. “Three-hundred and sixty-five days a year, we go and knock on these doors. And we’ll knock on them more than once,” he said. “If the curfew’s 11 o’clock, we might knock at 11 and again at midnight if we think that person is playing with police. “Maybe we’ll knock at two or three o’clock — then we know they aren’t going to leave to go and do a break-and-enter. It’s about being proactive.”

And that approach has had a serious impact on local crime, according to a well-known Lower Mainland criminologist. “It’s hard to imagine — and I’m not exaggerating in the slightest here — that any jurisdiction on the entire planet has been as successful at reducing crime as Kamloops,” Darryl Plecas, professor at University of the Fraser Valley, told KTW. “Basically, over the last year, Kamloops has damn near cut crime in half.” The statistics are staggering. In 2006, before the prolific-offender program was implemented in Kamloops, local police received 3,853 reports of break-and-enters, theft of vehicles, attempted thefts of vehicle and thefts from vehicle — the four main categories used to gauge repeat offenders. Last year, there were 1,866 calls, a decrease of 51 per cent.

Plecas said he uses the Kamloops policing model — including the prolific-offender program — as an example for efficient crime reduction. “Kamloops is just an outstanding example of being intelligence-led,” he said. “I would say, if anybody wants to do crime, Kamloops is the last place you want to do it. It truly is an inspiration for an ability to turn around a crime problem.” But, it’s not as easy as throwing labels on criminals and knocking on their doors. Kamloops Mounties have a full-time intelligence analyst, who monitors crime and looks at a variety of statistics before deeming crooks prolific. There are 12 categories considered, including the number of negative contacts with police, number of charges, number of convictions, history of property crime, history of substance abuse, employment situation and associations with other criminals.Lacasse said it all comes back to being proactive.

“What we used to do as a police force is we would wait for the phone to ring,” he said. “We would say, ‘OK, ma’am, thank you for your phone call.’ Then we would go out and try to solve your problem. “Now, with the prolific-offender program and what we’ve done with our crime-reduction model, we’ve decided to be proactive. We’re going after the bad guys — quite often before the crimes are being committed.” Most people wouldn’t like being woken up by a knock on the door at midnight — and again a few hours later.But Lacasse said it comes down to protecting the community. “It’s not harassment,” he said. “If you’re a good citizen in this community, you’ll be happy with what we’re doing. If you’re a criminal, you’re going to feel the heat because we’re going to be after you — and we’re going to be after you until you change.”

According to police, 17 prolific offenders have sought rehabilitation for drug addictions since the program began, while another 20 have left town. “If you can change and if you can get back on the right track, that is a wonderful thing,” Lacasse said. “But, if you don’t, and if you’re not willing to do that, then you’re going to get picked on by the police. “If you’re a criminal — and we hear it from many of them — many of them are saying that they want to leave town because they find the pressure from the police almost unbearable.” Lacasse said the prolific-offender program isn’t about the criminals — it’s about the safety of Kamloops. “Our primary goal is to make sure that this community is a safe community,” he said. “That’s our number one objective.“We’re not going to solve every crime, we can’t be everywhere at every time, but we are trying extremely hard to make this a very, very safe community.”

And, according to Plecas, Kamloops Mounties are succeeding. “I can’t say enough good things about Kamloops,” the criminologist said. “If somebody were to ask me if anywhere else in the world had crime dropped as much as it has in Kamloops, the answer would be a resounding no.”

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Net pushes crime out of parks

By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star Published: May 30, 2009 12:00 PM

The information highway has become the latest tool to fight criminal activity in downtown parks. The City of Vernon and Telus will launch free wireless Internet service at Cenotaph Park and the area in front of the library/museum starting Monday. “We want people to use proper activities there,” said Wayne Ikesaka, the city’s information services manager. Ikesaka believes that an increased public presence will lead to less crime and drugs at the two locations. “Businesses can have meetings there or students can do research or download music there,” he said. The six-megabite Freenet connection will be available at the two sites from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. seven days a week.

But Ikesaka expects the busiest time will be lunch when workers abandon their offices. “They can check their e-mail or browse the Internet on their break,” he said. Freenet will be in place for a six-month trial period. “If the public is using it, we can investigate having it more. If they are not using it, it was a good try,” said Ikesaka. The city installed wireless antennas at both parks, and if the service becomes permanent, operational costs could possibly be shared by the city and Telus. “Telus has been very supportive,” said Ikesaka of the initiative.

Budget cut: Aberdeen WA police lay off K9 Nitro

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ABERDEEN, Wash. -- The Aberdeen Police Department has laid off its K-9 dog Nitro due to budget cuts. The Daily World reports that police Officer Steve Timmons is raising money to bring his partner back after the German Shepherd was cut from the force earlier this month. Police Chief Bob Torgerson says laying Nitro off saves the department $12,000 a year. That's mostly in overtime the city pays Timmons to care for the dog during off hours. Timmons says he wants to work with the city and union to eliminate the overtime. He also wants to donate his time but says federal rules and labor laws won't allow it. Timmons is also seeking donations to cover Nitro's food if he returns to work. Six-year-old Nitro has helped nab between 35 and 40 suspects since he joined the force in 2005. The dog has been with Timmons since he was laid off.

Closure could delay fire crews

By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star Published: May 30, 2009 12:00 PM

Emergency crews are concerned a potential road closure could impact their ability to help those in need. The Okanagan Indian Band council has stated it could close a portion of Lakeshore Road as part of an ongoing land dispute. “If it’s cut off, that changes a lot of things for us,” said Ed Forslund, Okanagan Landing fire chief. Presently, Lakeshore Road is the most direct route from the fire hall on Okanagan Landing Road to Tronson Road and adjacent subdivisions. If Lakeshore was closed, fire trucks would be forced to travel up Okanagan Landing Road and access Tronson Road by the airport. “It would add a lot of extra time to responding to that side of the Landing,” said Forslund. Closure of Lakeshore could also create challenges for the RCMP and B.C. Ambulance Service. Both sides of Lakeshore from Tronson to the creek, including the beach (not Kin Beach Park), are part of the Indian reserve.

No timeline for a possible closure has been established, but Chief Fabian Alexis believes such a move is still possible. “We are going to review action Tuesday,” he said. “Council wants to see what is being planned.” Alexis says the band never extinguished ownership over the land the road is on, and he is hearing mixed opinions about a closure. “Some of our band members living there say, ‘Close it.’” The band’s actions come after it asked the City of Vernon to abandon a $733,000 project that would have addressed safety concerns along the road and beach.

The city is watching the situation closely and it vows to fight any attempts at closure. “We’ve looked at the paperwork in terms of the right-of-way,” said Mayor Wayne Lippert. “Everything we have shows it’s clearly city right-of-way.” Information on the road’s location and reserve boundaries are being sought from the federal and provincial governments, but Lippert hopes a legal battle can be avoided. “We will try to work with the band and keep the communication lines open,” he said.

Coldstream taxes lower than Vernon !

My fellow blogger Coldstreamer had an interesting comparison of taxes for a property in Coldstream when compared to the same valued Property in Vernon. (Click on link for full details.) Compare your Coldstream taxes to City of Vernon taxes!

He has now updated the tax comparison to include the 2009 tax year.

His calculations are that for a house valued at $457,000 ( with Land at $260,000 and Improvements at $197,000) that:
  • 2008 Municipal Taxes would be 41% Lower in Coldstream and total taxes would be 12.36% Lower in Coldstream. ($ difference on total Taxes would be $ 295.71)
  • 2009 Municipal Taxes would be 43% Lower in Coldstream and total taxes would be 13.28% Lower in Coldstream. ($ difference on total Taxes would be $ 331.25)
You can use the Vernon City tax calculator to calculate the taxes for any property in Vernon and then use the tax rates in Coldstream from the tax comparison sheet to compare taxes.

Band land?

CHBC VIDEO Web posted on Friday, 29 May 2009
An ownership dispute between Vernon and the Okanagan Indian Band could result in a road closure.

Struggles muddy upgrade waters

Don Plant 2009-05-30 Kelowna Daily Courier:
Power struggles over water are flaring up in Kelowna and Vernon, and taxpayers could get soaked by higher distribution costs. The conflict over whether to amalgamate four irrigation districts within Kelowna city limits and the push by the City of Vernon to acquire more control over the water utility it shares with neighbouring communities will change the ways water is delivered in the Okanagan. Driving the urgency is the fact more people are moving each year to a valley that has the lowest per-capita availability of freshwater in the country, according to Statistics Canada. New drinking-water requirements demanded by Interior Health have made the stakes higher. IH has set rigorous standards for water quality so people don‘t get sick. To comply, Valley water utilities must spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build treatment systems and install new distribution lines. Everyone‘s goal is to reduce the number of boil-water notices and water-quality advisories that utilities issue every time the tap water gets cloudy. How to get there is where leaders disagree.

In Kelowna, about 55,000 people receive their water from four independent districts not governed by city hall. Those districts supply 72 per cent of the city‘s total water supply to ratepayers and almost all its farmland. They‘re public utilities with elected boards that fall under the province‘s jurisdiction. To improve their water quality, the irrigation districts for Glenmore-Ellison, Black Mountain and Southeast Kelowna are asking the province and Ottawa for two-thirds of the $57 million they need to build a new reservoir, pump station, disinfection facilities and 80 kilometres of pipeline. Managers asked city council in March to support their lobby efforts, but the discussion soon veered to a debate over whether the city should take over the districts as one big utility. Councillors eventually proposed a joint study on whether it‘s feasible to fold the irrigation districts into one large utility operated by the city. District managers are now frustrated and confused about their future. Bob Hrasko, administrator for Black Mountain Irrigation District, says discussions over amalgamating with Kelowna pushes them four steps backward. “The public doesn‘t want a navel-gazing exercise on governance,” Hrasko said. “We need a support letter from council and a commitment that they‘ll leave us intact as organizations. “Why not get our projects and protection in place for people first? Why does governance have to happen first?”

The city does support the districts‘ applications for infrastructure funding – to an extent. Council wants them to make short-term improvements so they no longer have to issue boil-water advisories. However, if the districts need the city‘s support for anything more, they must participate in the governance study, said Coun. Robert Hobson. The reason, he said, is that the city and water districts are competing for the same grants from the Building Canada program – Ottawa‘s new $33-billion infrastructure fund, a major source for Kelowna‘s capital projects. “If . . . the utilities seek funds from the same pots of funding the city is applying for (to build) large projects, you have to address governance issues,” Hobson said. “We asked them to agree to do that as a condition for us to sign off on their applications for additional funding.”
The study may find the status quo works just fine, he said. Kelowna is unusual, however, in that it has several water purveyors servicing one large urban population. Irrigation districts created decades ago to supply farmers with water are now largely overrun by residential neighbourhoods. “If a system is no longer primarily an agricultural system, maybe it should be managed by an entity that also manages land use and subdivisions, since most of the demand for water comes from changes in land use and subdivisions,” Hobson said.

To upgrade their water quality, irrigation districts must split their transmission lines so domestic users get treated, more expensive tap water and farmers get untreated water for irrigation. The advantage of keeping the districts independent is that its directors focus solely on providing water to their customers at affordable rates, said Hrasko. “Black Mountain Irrigation has a policy to get someone out to the house in 15 minutes if there‘s a serious problem. Could the City of Kelowna match that level of service?” Hrasko said. Joining all water systems under one utility could be expensive. Hrasko estimates the transmission costs could reach tens of millions of dollars. How big the bills are for ratepayers depends on how efficient the governance structure is. “It depends on who runs it, how much they care about the costs and how good they are at their jobs,” Hrasko said. The districts are now designing their own improvements. They could circumvent city council and lobby for the infrastructure money themselves. However, B.C. Community Development Minister Kevin Krueger would be more sympathetic if they had the city‘s backing, Hrasko said.

The dynamics in the North Okanagan are somewhat similar. Vernon is trying to break up with its partners and take over control of the region‘s water utility. If successful, the cost of water would likely rise for everyone else. Vernon council complains its three partners – Coldstream and Electoral Areas B and C – have the same number of votes as the city when making decisions about Greater Vernon Water Services. If one of the partners refuses to budget money for works needed in Vernon, the works don‘t get done. Mayor Wayne Lippert said the city provides 70 per cent of the funding for GVWS projects and subsidizes water that supplies the agricultural lands. He knows rural ratepayers would be on the hook for higher water costs if the city pulls out.

The city wants its partners to contribute more money to offset water-distribution costs. However, the system of “fiefdoms” makes the partnership inequitable, Lippert said. “We want flexibility to determine how we service our customers. The Electoral B representative wants to look after his customers the way he sees fit. Same with Electoral C and Coldstream.” One solution is to have everyone share the bulk supply of water infrastructure – the treatment plants and main trunk lines – and have each partner look after its own distribution. Lippert‘s answer is to have the City of Vernon take over the water utility without the political boundaries. “It would knock down the political walls of those fiefdoms because the city would have direction on it. It would give each of the partners a voice, but the ultimate ownership is through the City of Vernon,” he said.

The rural districts have fewer customers and greater areas to service. When residential users dilute the agricultural community‘s influence over water, farmers could see their prices rise. Worse, they could lose more during water shortages. “Restrictions due to water shortages cut back on their income. There‘s a need in the agricultural community to keep a close watch on a water utility that a city council doesn‘t provide,” said Al Cotsworth, manager of Greater Vernon Water. The Vernon system is managed through the North Okanagan Regional District – a big difference from the Kelowna utilities.

While Vernon must decide how to dance with its neighbouring municipalities, Kelowna is trying to work out how to provide water to its own family. “We‘re looking at providing water within a single municipality,” said Hobson. The Kelowna study is expected to take a few months.

Friday, May 29, 2009

B.C. pot grower won't forfeit her house, Supreme Court rules

Canadian Press May 29:

A convicted marijuana grower won't lose her house as crime-related property, the country's top court ruled Friday. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled 5-2 that Judy Ann Craig, convicted of growing pot worth more than $100,000 in her Vancouver home, does not have to give up her house. It's the first time the high court has tested federal drug laws that allow confiscation of assets related to crime. Prosecutors said the laws are a powerful deterrent against home-based grow-ops. But Craig's lawyer said the law should target organized traffickers and that it unfairly punishes home-based growers. Lower courts had issued conflicting rulings on when it's appropriate to order the seizure of grow-op houses as proceeds of crime.

Homeless report ready for council

City Council will receive a draft of the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness at its regular meeting Monday and consider formalizing an existing community-based committee as a Council Advisory Committee to continue progress on the issue. The draft report provides guidance on how to proceed toward the goal of ending homelessness in Kelowna. Home For Good: Kelowna’s Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness was prepared for the Committee to End Homelessness in partnership with the Poverty and Homelessness Action Team of the Central Okanagan (PHATCO). PHATCO will now take this draft report and use it to focus its ongoing efforts to increase the supply of affordable housing, address the root causes of homelessness and develop prevention strategies.

The Committee to End Homelessness is a community-based group of prominent leaders who are passionate about this cause. The committee has operated at arm’s length from the City of Kelowna since its creation in 2008. Council will now consider bringing the group into the City’s committee system, with up to two members of Council and two citizens from the broader regional community joining the group. The Council Advisory Committee would establish priorities and a timeline within which to implement its plan to end homelessness with input from Council and City staff. The City has made progress on addressing the needs of Kelowna’s homeless and at-risk residents since the Mayor’s Event to End Homelessness was held in 2007. The Cardington Apartments on St. Paul Street opened in the autumn of 2008 and a funding partnership with the provincial government will see three new social housing projects built in Kelowna.

Lying civic politicians face recall, professor says

By Jeff Nagel - Surrey North Delta Leader Published: May 28, 2009 11:00 AM

Can a mayor or city councillor knowingly tell voters a lie without potentially being turfed out of office? That’s the question now percolating in city halls across the region after the surprise unseating this week of White Rock Coun. James Coleridge. His election victory last fall was quashed this week by a B.C. Supreme Court ruling that he deceived voters. “It’s a huge wake up call for everybody,” Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said Wednesday. “Maybe we should be held to a higher standard.” Coleridge, a 20-year councillor, lied when he claimed no knowledge of an e-mail his wife circulated during the campaign under the phoney names “Alison and Tom Baker” using material he had gathered that may have influenced voters. In fact, he did know the source of the contentious e-mail, but denied it when the Peace Arch News questioned him.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Laura Gerow didn’t rule on the contents of the e-mail, which alleged several candidates running against Coleridge were part of a pro-highrise “real estate slate.” Instead she found that by denying his involvement – and using the deception to bolster his own campaign – Coleridge contravened the Local Government Act section prohibiting candidates from gaining votes through fraud, because he campaigned on a promise of giving voters “straight answers.” Coleridge didn’t simply keep his mouth shut when he knew his wife was responsible, the judge observed. He went on to invent background for the phoney couple, the Bakers, and claimed others in the community agreed with them. Coleridge then lied again when a Peace Arch News reporter confronted him with Internet evidence tracing the e-mail to his house, claiming he must be a victim of identity theft. The councillor admitted his deception only after the election, when failed candidate Matt Todd challenged Coleridge in court.

The judge ruled Coleridge would have likely lost support if voters knew “he did not in fact give straightforward answers to questions, but rather engaged in deceit and lies about what he considered to be immaterial matters, and used the deceit and lies to support his own political ends. “If a candidate puts his character in issue and runs on his integrity and honesty, then his character, including his integrity and honesty, is a material fact.” Coleridge must pay $20,000 of the costs of a byelection – estimated to be as high as $37,000. The city must pay for Todd’s court costs, and is entitled to recover those costs from Coleridge.

Coleridge is unreachable in Alaska and his lawyer, Jonathan Baker, could not yet say if he will appeal. He noted there are “no economic reasons” to appeal. Baker said the case could have major political ramifications in civic campaigns. “Any lie of almost any nature would open you up to being removed from office,” he said. Plenty of truth-stretching goes on in many election campaigns, Baker suggested, adding statements made by Vancouver council candidates surrounding the cost overruns for the Olympic Village might be grounds to challenge the outcome. “You’d find some real whoppers in that,” he said. Baker compared Coleridge’s case to incidents where politicians get their friends and supporters to stack radio call-in shows or write letters to newspapers pretending to be unaffiliated ordinary voters. “Politicians fabricate support,” he said. “That’s simply done all the time.”

He argued there’s a more pressing need to block mayors and councillors from taking gifts, often from developers, that can verge on corruption. “Politicians exaggerating their platforms and telling what varies from white lies to real whoppers is one thing. But it’s another when you’re being paid by people and not disclosing it.” SFU political science professor Kennedy Stewart said he can’t believe the “bizarre” ruling won’t be overturned, predicting politicians around B.C. would line up to help fund an appeal. “Not appealing this is so dangerous – not just to the people involved in the case, but to politicians at large,” he said. Instead of politicians scrupulously telling the truth from now on, Stewart envisions candidates compiling dossiers of evidence against their opponents during all future campaigns and unleashing their lawyers to challenge the results if they lose. “You have your lawyers all revved up and if you lose the election, you file,” he said. “I could see this happening right across the province.” In that scenario, Stewart said, B.C. civic politics would have something like their own Recall Act, the little-used method of removing provincial MLAs. “It’s a recall by judges,” he said. “You’re going to have judges deciding election proceedings. That’s a highly unusual way to run elections.”

An application to overturn an election result under the Local Government Act must be filed within 30 days by any candidate, the chief election officer or by at least four voters. Baker said the high cost of going to court to unseat a candidate might be a deterrent – but he noted it may mean the tool gets used mostly by well-heeled third parties with the most at stake in civic elections, such as developers.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cosmetic pesticides

Web posted on Thursday, 28 May 2009 CHBC

There is plenty of confusion, and some controversy, with a new Vernon bylaw regulating pesticide use.

Band threatens to close road

By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star Published: May 28, 2009 6:00 PM

Traffic on a busy Vernon road could grind to a halt because of a land dispute. On Tuesday, members of the Okanagan Indian Band council voted to close Lakeshore Road from Vernon Creek to Tronson Road. “We have a specific claim to that area and ownership of the road has been an issue,” said Chief Fabian Alexis. “We have never extinguished ownership of it.” The band’s actions come after it asked the City of Vernon to abandon a $733,000 project that would have addressed safety concerns along the road. Both sides of Lakeshore from Tronson to the creek, including the beach (not Kin Beach Park), are part of the Indian reserve. Alexis could not say when the road could be closed, but stated planning must be done first. “We could do it to correct some of the abuse of band lands there,” he said. The beach has long had a problem with vandalism, noise and vehicles driving on to the sand.

The City of Vernon is not pleased with the band’s decision to possibly close the road. “From my understanding, that road right-of-way was established long before the reserve was set up,” said Mayor Wayne Lippert. “It became a legal road for the city when annexation of Okanagan Landing occurred in 1993.” If the band attempts to close the road, Lippert says the city will consider its options. “The city has legal title to the right-of-way. We would challenge it,” he said. The previous band council had agreed to work with the city to address ongoing concerns at the beach by installing a retaining wall, parking and walkways.

However, that situation ended when the band’s leadership changed last month. “Some support was lost on council because of the election,” said Alexis. That view is also held by Lippert. “There were significant changes on band council and the focus will be on land claims and not so much on partnerships with other communities,” he said. The $733,000 Lakeshore Road project has been suspended and a $132,183 provincial grant could be lost. The remainder of the money included $554,000 from the city and about $47,000 in sand and gravel from the band. “We wanted to clean it up and make it better for everybody,” said Lippert of why the city was pursuing a project outside of its jurisdiction. Alexis says he is concerned about activities at the beach, but points out that the band doesn’t have a tax base to fund enforcement. “The RCMP are to monitor all Okanagan lands.” Alexis added that the band also needs to look at long-term land uses along Lakeshore Road because of potential development there.

Lippert hopes the city’s relationship with the band isn’t falling apart, but he advises residents with complaints about noise, parking and safety issues on the road and beach to call the band. “We have no jurisdiction over that area,” he said.Alexis doesn’t believe relations between the band and the city have soured. “I’m not worried about it. It’s not in jeopardy to the point where we won’t talk again,” he said.

City Partnership with TELUS Provides “FREENET”


The City of Vernon, in partnership with TELUS, will provide free wireless Internet on the grounds of the Vernon Public Library, and at Cenotaph Park, effective June 1, 2009. “Freenet” will be available from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., 7 days a week. This initiative is to encourage the business community, students and the general public to use the grounds for useful and productive activities. The project is on a 6-month trial to gauge interest, and will be re-evaluated in the fall.

The City appreciates the generosity and cooperation of TELUS in providing the 6 MB connection for the businesses and residents of Vernon, and it is hoped that many will take full advantage of this free service.

Left Out of D-Day Events, Queen Elizabeth Is Fuming


LONDON — Queen Elizabeth is not amused.

Indeed, she is decidedly displeased, angry even, that she was not invited to join President Obama and France’s president,Nicolas Sarkozy, next week at commemorations of the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, according to reports published in Britain’s mass-circulation tabloid newspapers on Wednesday. Pointedly, Buckingham Palace did not deny the reports.

The queen, who is 83, is the only living head of state who served in uniform during World War II. As Elizabeth Windsor, service number 230873, she volunteered as a subaltern in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, training as a driver and a mechanic. Eventually, she drove military trucks in support roles in England.

Matthew Hickley and Rebecca English Mail ONLINE MAY 27:

D-Day snub to Queen: Palace fury as Sarkozy refuses to invite royals to 65th Anniversary

Buckingham Palace voiced anger last night after the French snubbed the Queen over next week's D-Day commemorations. Aides said senior royals had repeatedly made clear their eagerness to support the historic 65th anniversary events in Normandy. But last night French officials crushed any remaining hopes, admitting they had never had any plans to invite members of the British Royal Family. They said President Nicolas Sarkozy was focused on the 'main event' of hosting U.S. President Barack Obama. There was also anger at the British Government for failing to secure a Royal invitation from their French counterparts. Protocol means they cannot simply invite themselves. The failure to invite the Queen - who is head of state of both Britain and Canada - will be seen as an insult to the memory of the 17,556 British and 5,316 Canadian troops who died to free France and are buried there.

TB Risk

Written by 107.5 Kiss FM Thursday, 28 May 2009
Health officials in B.C. and Alberta say passengers who took two Greyhound buses from Lethbridge, Alta. to Kelowna on Monday may have been exposed to tuberculosis. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control and the Interior Health Authority, as well as health officials in Alberta, are trying to identify passengers who were on Greyhound buses 5164 and 5155 on May 24. They say a person with an infectious case of TB took Greyhound bus 5164 from Lethbridge to Calgary on May 24, and then bus 5155 from Calgary to Kelowna that same day. The sick person is now getting treatment in Kelowna and health officials want to track down other passengers on the buses to screen them for the disease. They say passengers who were on both buses may be at some risk of exposure and should call health agencies for testing, although the officials say there's no health risk to the general public. Tuberculosis can appear gradually, with symptoms including fever, cough, loss of appetite, night sweats and chills. (The Canadian Press)

MULRONEY named ambassador to CHINA.

By Andrew Mayeda, Canwest News Service OTTAWA

Senior bureaucrat appointed China ambassador

The Harper government has appointed one of the public service's most senior bureaucrats as Canada's ambassador to China, a move that signals the government's desire to improve relations with the emerging Asian superpower. David Mulroney, currently deputy minister of the government's Afghanistan Task Force, will become Canada's new top diplomat in Beijing, the Prime Minister's Office announced Wednesday. He replaces Robert Wright, the current ambassador.

The incoming ambassador to China is not related to former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

Stinson Surgery

Betty Selin & Starlee Speers - Vernon 105;7 SUNFM

One of the Okanagan-Shuswap's feistiest politicians is preparing for another battle. Former MP Darryl Stinson says cancer has returned five years after he was diagnosed with bladder cancer..this time it is a rare form of kidney cancer. He'll undergo surgery next month to have one kidney removed.He says the return of his cancer has given him an insider's perspective into the health care system. Stinson says governments need to be more accountable to making health care a priority. He has no complaints about the treatment he's received but knows doctors and nurses are frustrated with the system.

Stinson was MP from 1993 until 2005.

OKIB On Closure

Starlee Speers - Vernon 105.7 SUNFM:

The Chief of the Okanagan Indian Band says they may end up closing off a portion of Lakeshore Road in response to concerns about risks to public safety. Fabian Alexis says he's aware the city of Vernon secured grant funding to make improvements to the area in light of the complaints, but their land claims are a bigger priority. He says it's unfortunate the project couldn't continue. Work was already started on lakeshore Road at the South end of Kin beach when it was announced the project would be cancelled on Tuesday. The City of Vernon had secured grants to construct a retaining wall at the beachfront to deter vehicles from driving on the beach, as well as more parking and public walkways. Alexis says in response to concerns about risks to public safety, the band will create an action force to look into closing a portion of the road.

Canada to seek partners for nuclear reactor firm

OTTAWA, May 28 (Reuters)

Canada said on Thursday it wanted major international firms to buy some or all of the nuclear reactor business run by government-owned Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt told a news conference she accepted the conclusions of a official review that said AECL could not thrive in its current form.The review said the alliance would run the commercial activities of AECL's Candu nuclear reactor division, which it said was too small to survive by itself. Ottawa could retain either a majority or a minority stake, it added.

It listed Areva Westinghouse , GE-Hitachi , Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Russian state-owned Rosatom as major international firms.

The review recommended splitting off AECL's Chalk River nuclear operations, a major source of medical isotopes, into a separate entity.

Fines increasing for noisy boats

Wayne Moore - May 28, 2009 CASTANET:

A recent change in legislation will increase the amount people can be fined for operating noisy boats on inland lakes. Prior to changes within the Canada Shipping Act and Small Vessel Regulations, boat operators faced a maximum fine of $115 for operating boats without a muffler.
Kelowna-Lake Country MP, Ron Cannan, says those fines have been increased to $250 for people operating a boat without a muffler and up to $500 for boats with exhaust diverter systems that send exhaust into the air. Cannan says the feds are also working with the province to step up enforcement of houseboat operators who illegally dump sewage into the lake. "We're trying to clean up the lake and protect it from pollutants and also from irresponsible boat owners. It's only a few boat owners who create havoc for the majority and those handful of people make it very miserable for a lot of people," says Cannan. He says he understands the whole situation has been frustrating, but says it's a start.

Lake Country Mayor, James Baker, says the new fines and initiatives are a start but agrees they need to get tougher. "At least it's a start, but it's going to be an issue of enforcement. We have to get a Coast Guard presence and RCMP presence and something that they can use to deal with these guys," says Baker. He says boaters can also be fined up to $10,000 for excessive speeds as well. "Problem is, we don't have speed limits on the lake. What constitutes excessive speed isn't something that can be determined." Baker says there are provisions in the act which allow for incremental fines for safety violations. He says he hopes within time, that same type of incremental system could be used for nuisance violations such as noise.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Road block

CHBC Web posted on Wednesday, 27 May 2009

The City of Vernon is not happy with the Okanagan Indian Band for reneging on a road work deal.

New Road Rule

Peter McIntyre Wednesday, 27 May 2009 107.5 KISSFM:

New rules take effect on BC roads Monday to protect emergency workers. Vernon RCMP spokesman Gord Molendyk says drivers will be required to slow down when passing parked emergency vehicles with their lights flashing. He says, "If the road is posted at 80 km-h or above, you must slow down to 70 km-h and move over into the other lane if possible. If the road is posted at 80 km-h or less, you must slow down to 40 km-h."

Molendyk says the death of a tow truck driver hit by a car near Vernon a few years ago, was one reason for the new law. "It is to protect those individuals out there." It will apply to drivers passing police, fire, ambulance, towing, and other safety vehicles. Drivers who don't slow down can be fined $148, and assesed three penalty points on their license.

Kin Beach Project Cancelled

Peter McIntyre Wednesday, 27 May 2009 107.5 KISSFM
The city of Vernon is advising residents with future concerns about Kin Beach to contact the Okanagan Indian Ban. Mayor Wayne Lippert says the band has put a stop to a city project along Lakeshore Road, aimed at reducing complaints like noise, vandalism and vehicles driving onto the beach. Lippert tells KISS FM, "We originally had an agreement with the Band to put up some barriers put up and improvements done on the beach to stop people from driving on it. There was going to be pedestrian walkways, parking, just essentially to clean it up, making it more pedestrian and people friendly, and make it safer for everybody. But the new band council changed it's mind on that and will not let us go ahead with that." Lippert says the new band council is disputing the road right of way for Lakeshore Road in a land claim with the province. The mayor says it means the problems at the beach will continue, such as noise, vandalism and animal safety issues. He says the project termination also means the city will lose out on using close to $400,000 in government grants. The total cost was around $680,000."It has killed the project so the grant funding can't be used and we will not be putting city funds into that project." The Band was going to provide sand and gravel.

City hopes video promotion will help tourism take flight

By Wolf Depner - Penticton Western News Published: May 26, 2009

Local officials hope that tourism will take off as the city will get some airtime as part of a promotional video leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics. The video will run on selected screens throughout Vancouver International Airport before and during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Penticton is among 15 communities appearing in the video and will now hire a videographer to shoot a three-minute piece through Penticton’s Spirit of B.C. Committee after receiving a $10,000 grant from the Vancouver Airport Authority. Mayor Dan Ashton said Penticton’s inclusion in the video will benefit the local tourism industry. “It brings the Okanagan to all the travellers coming through the airport,” he said, after a ceremony at City Hall, where YVR officials presented the grant. Spirit of B.C. Committee co-chair Nora Haft said Penticton’s inclusion in the video represents a “great opportunity” for the city. “It is a huge opportunity for us to showcase (Penticton) to the world,” she said. The committee will now go about selecting a videographer to produce the video, said Haft. “That will be our next step,” she said, adding that the final piece will likely include a combination of new and existing footage.

The piece’s premier is scheduled for sometime in September at YVR, said Paul Levy, vice-president and planning 2010 Olympics and Paralympic Games for the Vancouver Airport Authority. Levy said the authority chose Penticton to be part of the promotional feature because it wants to promote all parts of British Columbia as part of its mandate to generate tourism.

City aims to expand housing options

May 26 Penticton Western News:

The city is considering additional steps towards increasing the supply of affordable housing. A committee has recommended that council approve new measures that would allow residents to make their basements and garages more habitable. The recommendation calls on council to permit kitchen facilities in basements and toilets, sinks or showers in garages. Council is expected to consider the recommendation at its next meeting. The recommendation follows the recent legalization of secondary suites and appears to pave the way towards carriage homes already approved in several other communities, including Kelowna. While several reports have identified carriages homes as affordable housing alternatives that may also double as mortgage helpers, they are not without controversy. A 2005 provincial government report titled Secondary Suites: A Guide for Local Governments notes that carriage homes are not necessarily affordable rental housing. “In some cases the accessory suite carriage house rents for more than the main dwelling,” the report notes, pointing specifically to the Kelowna experience. The report also identifies design concerns. “It is important to deal with design issues up front,” it states. “The visual impact of carriage house development has been a factor in negative reaction to the secondary suite program and a push to down zone in some areas.” The report also identifies other issues faced by communities as they expand alternative housing options. They include building code standards, bylaw enforcement, parking and liability. The recommendation is part and parcel of a larger package of recommendations designed to streamline local developments.

Bars will be watching

By Tim Petruk - Kamloops This Week Published: May 26, 2009

A controversial program that uses metal detectors and scanners will begin soon at a number of Kamloops bars. Speaking at a police committee meeting at city hall on Monday, community and corporate affairs director Len Hrycan said it’s now up to the Barwatch program itself — led locally by Cactus Jack’s Saloon general manager Pete Backus — to determine when it will officially begin operations. “We have authorized the use of the City of Kamloops logo with the Barwatch program,” Hrycan said, noting the city logo will likely adorn signage on bar doors notifying patrons about the program. “How quickly they initiate Barwatch is up to them now, in terms of roll-out.” Kamloops RCMP Insp. Yves Lacasse said Mounties are already working loosely with bars that will be involved in the program. “At the local level, whenever there’s an issue at the bar, we usually get a call right away,” he said. Barwatch is already in place in Vancouver and Nanaimo and similar programs have been in effect in Alberta for a number of years.

The Barwatch program requires establishments to use metal detectors on patrons, check IDs and scan bar-goers into Treoscope — an electronic database of bar patrons from all Barwatch locations. It involves scanning IDs and saving photos, with room for comments about potential problems or gang affiliations. Treoscope has been the cause of some controversy in the past and is being reviewed by the B.C. Privacy Commission. Lacasse said the Barwatch program is one more way police — working closely with local bars — can help keep a lid on gangs. “What we want is to go in and have the authority to remove these people from bars,” he said, explaining Barwatch gives Mounties the right to remove people at the bar’s discretion. “I think the majority don’t want these people around and, if you’re on the outside of the bubble, we’ll be looking at you,” Lacasse said. “We don’t want these people and associates in our bars or restaurants. “If you go out, we want you to be able to relax without bullets flying.” The Barwatch program is expected to be fully functional within months.


(Treoscope Website)

Venture Kamloops still needs a boss

By Jeremy Deutsch - Kamloops This Week Published: May 26, 2009

Energetic and works well with others. These are just a couple of the qualities Venture Kamloops (VK) is looking for in its new boss. The economic-development arm for the city is actively looking for an executive director to replace former CEO Gail Scott, who was fired in March. So far, VK has been advertising for the position extensively in B.C. and Alberta. Chris Ortner, president of VK’s board of directors, said the decision to change the title of the position to executive director came out of the search for its last CEO. He said VK found respondents for the CEO position had a different expectation of salary and roles and responsibilities than the job entails. Ortner said executive director is a more realistic match for the position. “Let’s face it, an organization with four employees doesn’t really need a title similar to General Motors,” he told KTW. Ortner is expecting a lot of resum├ęs to come in, suggesting now is a good time to be looking for people. But whoever does end up getting the job, they will have to have an ability to co-operate and excite people with new ideas.

“To move Kamloops to a new place that’s well-positioned to survive the current downturn and be poised to take advantage of opportunities that do exist even now,” Ortner said. Finding a new director is just part of a restructuring for VK. The organization’s contract with the city expires at the end of the year, and its directors are putting a new strategic plan together in hopes of securing another five-year mandate. Ortner said the new VK will focus on attracting business to Kamloops, while collaborating with other business-service providers in the city.The bulk of VK’s funding — $464,000 a year — comes from the city. VK’s board is composed of members of the business community, including city councillors John O’Fee and Tina Lange.

More recycling headed to landfills

By Jason Luciw - Kelowna Capital News Published: May 26, 2009

Businesses have begun throwing more recyclables into the trash because there’s suddenly less incentive for them to recycle. Central Okanagan Regional District waste reduction supervisor Peter Rotheisler says he’s alarmed at the increasing amounts of banned materials—such as plastic, mixed paper and cardboard—that businesses are sending to the landfill. The ban is hard to enforce on businesses because dumpsters are often shared by several companies. Therefore, tracing the recycling material back to a specific business is complicated, he added. “Since the container comes in bulk and it’s disposed of at a site where there’s not somebody picking through it to inspect for recyclable materials necessarily, those regulations aren’t easily enforced,” Rotheisler said.

The problem has been worsening since September when commodity prices for recyclable materials began to fall in the face of the global economic slowdown, he stated. “For instance with cardboard, processing companies (were once) willing to take it off (businesses) hands and give them money in some cases for it,” stated Rotheisler. “Now, because of the severe drop in the value of cardboard, businesses are faced with paying for the material to be recycled, cutting into their bottom line, which they’re not willing to do at this point—the cheapest option is to landfill it.” The news was an eye opener for the Central Okanagan Regional District board Monday night. Kelowna Coun. Michelle Rule wasn’t surprised though, after having received a tip from a concerned citizen, which she forwarded to Rotheisler. “It’s really disturbing that we’re requiring our residents, as a matter of fact they can be fined if they put recycling in their garbage, and yet we don’t have a policy for commercial (operations),” said Rule.

Chairman Robert Hobson said the board should have more information from staff, however, before attempting to resolve the problem. Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd said hospitals, schools, the college and the university should be included in staff’s report to ensure those institutions fall with any changes being considered. Staff will prepare a report and provide recommendations to the board at a future meeting. Amendments to the existing regional waste reduction bylaw are likely necessary, added Rotheisler. “To find solutions that businesses are going to come on board with and use is going to be tough.” Business recycling was already at the top of Rotheisler’s priority list and was to be dealt with once all the wrinkles in the new automated trash collection system were ironed out, the waste reduction supervisor stated.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Alley dumpsters sent to the curb

By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star Published: May 26, 2009 7:00 PM

Commercial recycling will hit the streets of Vernon despite vocal opposition. Council reconfirmed Monday that curbside blue bag recycling for all businesses in Vernon will begin June 1. “This has been a long process,” said Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe of launching recycling and removing dumpsters from public lands in downtown alleys. She added that while some businesses have some concerns, three surveys have shown strong support within the downtown core for getting rid of dumpsters as a way of improving public safety. “The dumpster program won’t be possible unless we have recycling.”

On Monday, council heard from some merchants who question the city’s initiative. “We all want a better solution for downtown,” said Grant Frankiw, with Simply Delicious. One of Frankiw’s main concerns is that dumpsters will only be removed from the public portion of alleys and those on private land can remain.“We’ll be removing 30 to 40 per cent of the dumpsters and the rest will stay. I’m not sure if all of this is worth 30 to 40 per cent,” he said. Frankiw insists that stocking cardboard on non-collection days will present a fire hazard and hanging on to wet waste could lead to health issues. “We don’t have private land so our garbage will stay indoors.”

Frankiw also questions why all merchants will be charged $20.53 a month for recycling although some will have access to dumpsters on private land. “Nobody will be going to these places to pick up so where will this money be going?” he said. Frankiw believes the best alternative is to allow dumpsters with locked steel lids to prevent the spreading of garbage and illegal activities. City officials insist that the recycling program is geared towards items that can be placed into a blue bag and not large amounts of cardboard. “This has no affects on contracts for cardboard (collection),” said Leon Gous, chief administrative officer. O’Keefe believes it’s essential that all businesses in the city participate in recycling — including those with dumpsters on private property — so the costs are kept low. “If we say you can keep a dumpster on private land and we won’t charge you, it just encourages people to put dumpsters on private land,” she said.“It will lead to more graffiti and security problems.”