Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Road 40 Funding Announcement & more

Sal and I just had our 3rd grandchild, a boy and also took a trip to Moab, Utah.  This is the first opportunity I have had to distribute information on Road 40 repaving.  I apologize if you have seen this already, there may be some new information to you in here.  But before I go there, I'd like to announce my new alternate.

New Alternate

I'd like to announce that I have appointed Pat Dahle as my Alternate for the SLRD Board of Directors.   Pat is a full time resident in Gold Bridge, a full time employee at Tyax Resort, a board member of the Bridge River Valley Community Association, and most importantly a lover of the outdoors and the Bridge River Valley. 

I had five different people offer to be the Alternate and I'd like to thank each of them for putting their names forward.  

And finally, a huge huge Thank you to Norm Verner.  He decided to "retire" and he will be missed.  His previous experience in local government and particularly on the SLRD Board was very very reassuring and useful.  

Road 40 Funding Announcement

A very good day for the Bridge River Valley.

On March 22, Jackie Tegart our MLA drove out here to make a big funding announcement on Road 40.  On her way, her vehicle's windshield fell victim to a rolling rock off the bank side of Rd. 40. So our MLA knows our challenges with this road.

The announcement is at this link:  https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2017TRAN0096-000767

This repaving has a value of nearly $9 million.  

Basically, the funding for this repaving comes from the rehabilitation pot of money.  I have been asked is there any "new" paving or other improvements and the answer is no.  New improvements will come from the capital pot of funds...harder to make the case for.  I will keep everyone up to speed about when/what as I get details.

Special thanks go to the BRVCA Economic Development Committee who used some of their funding to develop a Business Case for the repaving and submitted it in December 2015. Also to Suzanne Denbak, who actually did the work.  

Maps:  Road 40 East   

Maps:  Road 40 West  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz8bmBXIlkCOLTYyaWZYNUJBRmM/view?usp=sharing

Maps:  Seton Lake

We are left with the ongoing challenges with maintenance on this road.  Sal and I, and particularly Sal, has been working really hard to get the Lillooet & Region Transportation Advisory Committee set up and operating in a manner that will produce some results.  Our hope is that the work this group will do going forward will assist in understanding between all the stakeholders, prioritize issues and bring changes that improve the maintenance of our roads in the entire region.

That said, there is something VERY IMPORTANT you can do.  When you see a maintenance issue report it!  Go to www.interiorroads.com and click on feedback, fill in the form.  You can also call 1.800.842.4122.  These reports are responded to by IRL and also MOTi does audit them to determine if response was made.  This is what the form looks like:

I see many people post pictures and complaints on Facebook about Rd. 40.  I get the frustration - I drive the road all the time - and I get that it makes us feel better to share.  But, it doesn't bring change.  Change and improvements come by putting in the feedback frequently and regularly.  I'd also note that those photos go far and wide, never go away and influence perceptions of people we want to come here frequently and regularly.  Give it some thought. 

I truly believe it was all the letters from property owners and businesses in our area that brought attention to the need for repaving, you can do it again on the maintenance side. Complain, complain, complain using the IRL feedback system.  Each one of you can take credit for this announcement for the repaving because you wrote and you emailed and you signed petitions.  You drew attention to the issue and all I can say is please, please keep going! 

Pretty nice spot for an announcement!
I want to say, as well, knowing there is a provincial election coming, that I have indicated to MLA Tegart twice that an issue was critical to our area.  First in 2012 with the Hurley FSR debacle when FLNRO turned over the middle section to MOTI and the maintenance went straight down hill. The second time, regarding the condition of Road 40, starting in early 2016.  Both times, MLA Tegart has listened and done what she could through the Ministries to bring relief.  All that we need on both roads? - no - but certainly significant improvements that underpin our efforts to sustain ourselves as a community in this area.   I want to be clear, it would not matter to me what party this MLA represented, she has done everything she could in these two critical situations and we have seen improvements. I know folks get all wound up about the parties, however a good constituency MLA for a remote, underdog area like ours is very very important.   Consider that when you vote.

Friday, March 10, 2017

And the survey says!!

Sledding on the Hurley Survey Results

Please see my previous post for full explanation:

Here are the results of the survey:

Several comments about the E.(East) Hurley FSR.  The E. Hurley from the turnoff to the steel bridge is actually an unmaintained PUBLIC road not an FSR.  Which means in terms of sledding, you will need an operation permit issued by the RCMP in order to legally be on it with a sled.  I will be meeting with the new Area Manager for Ministry of Transportation when they are in their position to see if we can get them to provide some designations for the E. Hurley. Unfortunately we would still need operations permits for the operation of sleds on it.  Here is the link to the information on this:


I am going to be working with the Bridge River Valley Snowmobile Club and other interests to come up with a shared BRV point of view on the Hurley matter and will get back to everyone on it.

Don't forget to "LIKE" the Bridge River Valley Snowmobile Club on Facebook!

Do you feel safe in your community survey?

Very interesting responses.  Have a read.  I had to redact one comment as it mentioned specific people and situation.  Interesting comments on Road 40.

Survey responses:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz8bmBXIlkCOMi0xREVWbktBWTQ/view?usp=sharing

I have been and will be following up with the RCMP to confirm their plans for this summer. It is my understanding that they plan some increased presence in our area.

You might be interested in the RCMP stats for Area A for 2016:

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Do you feel safe in the Bridge River Valley?

Personal and Property Safety in the upper Bridge River Valley

In 2016 , through a number of phone calls and at meetings, concerns were expressed to me regarding personal and property safety.  The concerns cover a variety of areas and issues with varying degrees of seriousness.

In order to more accurately gauge the level of concern and in what areas,  valley-wide, I have put together a short survey.  It is anonymous.  I will publish the results so everyone can see.

If you could please complete this survey it would be much appreciated.


Sledding on the Hurley - Survey

See my previous blog with information on Hurley FSR re sledding:

Link to survey:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3FVZX25

Please complete by end of February.  We have had good response so far.

I will be publishing the results and also forwarding on to Rec. Sites and Trails for their consideration of how to proceed.

Invasive Mussels Move Closer to BC Borders.

On November 30, 2016, the Governor for Montana declared a state of emergency for Montana's water bodies because invasive mussel larvae had been detected in the Tiber and Canyon Ferry Reservoirs.  An Incident Command Team was set up for this emergency and has been working on the situation.  As the crow flies, this means that mussels have been found 50 miles from the Columbia River watershed that flows from Alberta into BC and Washington.

Two, back to back, emergency meetings were held on December 9th to inform BC partners about the situation in Montana and to discuss plans for the western provinces and US states.  It was co-hosted by the Pacific Northwest Economic region (pnwer.org), the Invasive Species Council of BC and the Alberta Invasive Species Council. Each meeting had a call to action as a response to the Montana situation:
·         Western Canada Meeting: With invasive mussels closer to Western Canada, there is a clear call for increased diligence on prevention and readiness for immediate response. This meeting will review what worked in 2016 and what more is needed to avoid invasive mussels arriving in Western Canada. 

·         BC Partners Meeting: With invasive mussels closer to BC, there is a clear need for immediate action. This meeting will review what worked in 2016 and suggest what more is needed to avoid invasive mussels arriving in BC. 

Over 50 people participated in these meetings and recommendations were developed based on the calls to action.

There were recommendations as a result of both meetings. The BC Partner recommendations are summarized generally below:
  • ·         A call for the Provincial and Federal Governments work together to ensure 100% of high-risk watercraft entering BC are inspected.
  • ·         Review and update regulatory tools to enable invasive mussels to trigger an environmental emergency.
  • ·         Host an emergency response scenario with partners to rehearse a response and identify gaps.
  • ·         Establish a monitoring and sampling plan for water bodies in BC that includes Government and non-government organizations.
  • ·         Increase voluntary compliance-certification of boaters and fresh water users.
  • ·         Undertake immediate research to determine the impact of invasive mussels on salmon and salmon fishery.
  • ·         Review regulatory framework to consider boat registration on BC waters.
  • ·         Increase funding support.

LRISS is keeping abreast of the Montana situation as well as the Provincial response.  We are on email lists for updates from Montana and BC.  The LRISS Board will also be discussion our Aquatics program in the coming months and how we can continue to do our part to prevent Aquatic Invasive Species from establishing in our region and BC.  Our partnerships with the Bridge River Community Association and the SLRD are key to our 

New Downloadable Graphics To Help Citizens Navigate Their Trash

Friday, January 27, 2017

Sledding on the Hurley and more

Winterfest is on the Family Day weekend, February 11.  This is the 8th Annual Winterfest.  Bring your families and have a fun fun day!  And hey, you don't even need to cook, with a fun Mardi Gras Themed Roast Beef Dinner on Saturday night.    

Get all the information here:  http://www.bridgerivervalley.ca/winterfest/

We will see you there!

Sledding on the Hurley FSR

This past week I received calls of concern regarding the Pemberton Valley Snowmobile Club charging people to sled over the Hurley. I have done some fact finding and here is what I have found out.

Rec Sites & Trails, a division of FLNRO is currently in the preliminary vetting stage of legally establishing a section of the Hurley FSR.  The proposal is to legalize it to Donnelly Creek from the Lillooet River FSR junction (this is approx. 42% of the entire Hurley FSR)  They would then provide authority to the Pemberton Valley Snowmobile Club to collect fees on their behalf.  Those fees would be used for maintenance and grooming of that section of the Hurley.  

It should be noted that once past the summit heading east (i.e. towards Gold Bridge) the Electoral Area changes, the provincial constituency changes, the Forest District Changes and the Snowmobile Club's informal area changes to the Bridge River Valley Snowmobile Club. 

Rec. Sites & Trails advises this is being considered in order to assist in managing various conflicts that have been occurring between tenure holders.   This is currently at a preliminary stage with Rec. Sites and Trails and they have not yet decided to proceed further in the process.  If they do decide to proceed, there is a process that includes referral out to First Nations, local government, the general public and a variety of other stakeholders for comment and input. 

Once all of these parties have had an opportunity to comment RSTBC will decide whether or not to proceed with the establishment and what special conditions that must be put in place to mitigate the problems and impacts that have been identified.  

Ray Mason photo, Xmas Eve
The Pemberton Valley Snowmobile Club have a groomer which they plan to use to groom the above mentioned section of the Hurley.  I have confirmed that at this time the Pemberton Valley Snowmobile Club may only request a donation for any travel.  ie. you do not have to pay a trail fee, or a membership fee or actually a donation.  That is entirely up to you.  

The PVSC has had some confusing communication both in private and public on this matter, so please be assured this is the current situation.

I have prepared a survey so that I can understand the views of property owners, residents, family members of, and businesses in the upper Bridge River Valley on this topic.  The results will be shared with the Rec. Sites and Trails staff and on my blog.  I am requiring your name to verify you are one of the above categories however the information shared from the survey will not include names.

This is on my task list now so I will be following up with all involved to stay on top of this and will provide updates as needed.

Road 40 update:
Please see this post:  http://www.debbiedemare.com/2016/12/road-40-story-continues.html

The SLRD Board Chair, Mayor of Lillooet, myself and the Area B director will be meeting with MLA Tegart, and the Minister of Transportation Todd Stone on February 17 to continue raising the profile of the need to invest in road insfrastructure in this area (Lillooet-Pioneer Rd. 40, Hwy 12, Hwy 99 N etc).  For us the key request is the repaving of the 25 km stretch either side of the junction with Tyaughton Lake Rd.  It has to happen....trying to maintain this, fix potholes, address the base is putting good money after bad.

Sal has been working with MOTi on getting the Lillooet & area Regional Transporation committee operating in a planned manner.The LRTAC held its first meeting on November the 29th. It was a meeting for the Committee members to meet and get a general feel of the Committee’s future direction. The next meeting will be held in February and will incorporate a 2 year Strategic Plan. I will be facilitating the Strategic Plan. Since the Committee members will be from across the Region a lot of the work will be done online to get it to the point where when we meet it will be to finalize on the details on the Committee Purpose, Terms of Reference, Goals, and Action Plans for the next two years. Once developed they will be shared via the BRVCA media sources.

I have travelled the road often this winter.  It is actually in not bad shape because it is frozen, pot holes filled by ice and Interior Roads do a great job of maintaining it in the winter.  We have had some bad weather (ice storm) and they really got at it and whipped it back into driveable condition very fast.   Winter Safety Tips can be found at: http://shiftintowinter.ca/

Still Seeking an Alternate

Speaking of my Alternate!   Norm Verner has been my Alternate for a number of years now.  Norm will be "retiring" as my alternate . I am looking for a new Alternate.  An Alternate fills in meetings (in person/phone) when for some reason I cannot attend.  This hasn't happened much in the years, an alternate is required by law in case something happens.  If an Alternate needs to fill in, they are paid the meeting fee, travel time and expenses.  It is a great way to be of service to your community and also learn alot about local government and how it works.

If you are interested in possibly taking over from Norm, please let me know.

And to Norm Verner, Thank You!  Your service is appreciated by us all.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Road 40 - The story continues....

I'd like to wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  

Just a reminder Norm Verner, my SLRD alternate wants to retire.  The alternate fills in when I cannot attend due to scheduling issues, illness etc.  You DO get paid and all expenses covered.  My efforts on our board also now make it possible to attend meetings by phone.  You don't have to know much and I will help and support you knowing what you need to know.   Everyone on the SLRD Board is very kind to Alternates:-) in meetings. Please let me know if you "might" be interested.  

Road 40 - The story continues

Here is my last blog post link on this topic from September 6:  http://www.debbiedemare.com/2016/09/road-40-i-hope-everyone-has-had.html

On October 13, the meeting MLA Tegart put together was held.  Sal Demare, Scott Holden and myself attended the meeting. Unfortunately I can not say that any immediate concrete actions came that will change things on Road 40 came out of this meeting. District Manager did mentioned that they are looking at paving in the area as part of rehabilitation however that that would be subject to available budget and priorities.  

1    The key action item that came from this meeting was to establish a ‘Lillooet Rural Transportation Advisory Committee’ made up of relevant stakeholders to provide input to MOTI on matters related to rural roads including, but not limited to, maintenance, rehab and capital improvements.  "The Committee will recognize the importance of rural roads to provide safe, daily year-round access to communities, and to support local economic development. The Committee will develop short and long range capital plans for Road 40 in order to provide certainty for residents of the Bridge River Valley (Ron McCormack)" is how the MLA's office describes the purpose of the committee.

      On November 29, the first LRTAC committee meeting was held.  Sal Demare and I attended, as did the Chair of the SLRD Jack Cromption, the Mayor of Lillooet Marg Lampman, the Area B Director Mickey Macri, various MOTi, School District, RCMP, Commercial Vehicle Inspection officials and a representative from Aspen Planers. There was no Interior Roads official present.   This meeting lacked a clear focus and was not facilitated.  There was no agenda presented.  MOTi appears to be modeling this committee on other RTACs it has in other areas of the Cariboo Highways District and when I questioned, it seems in these other areas the issues discussed at RTAC meetings are very specific i.e. putting a bus stop in a specific location for safety.  This meeting was billed as a meeting to develop a Terms of Reference for the committee - however we were given that Terms of Reference at the beginning of the meeting and little if any discussion about the purpose of the committee occured until I started to questioning the gap between the description by the MLA of the purpose of the committee and what was happening in this meeting.   Here is a link to the documents we were provided:  Meeting Materials

      Following that meeting and after discussions between the SLRD Elected Representatives that attended, our SLRD Chair, Jack Crompton placed a call to MLA Tegart.  He basically communicated the same as I have in the above paragraph.  Our goal as the SLRD as a whole is to ensure there is signficant investments made in our area roads - Hwy 12 (paving, shoulders) and Road 40 (repaving 22 k stretch either side of Tyaughton Lake Rd. junction & improved maintenance) and the Highline Road. Pleased to see that the government has announced $60 million to provide long term fix for the 10 mile slide!  Awesome.    Our view is that the government must provide a larger investment, which the fix for the 10 mile slide is a terrific start,  more quickly as these roads have not had this nvestment over many years needed to keep them to appropriate standards.  The current condition of all these roads is impeding the status quo state of Lillooet, Gold Bridge, Bralorne, and everywhere in between and hampering the development and growth of these communities. And, as you all know, the safety of travelling on these roads is a very real concern for all of us.  

      My hope is that the LRTAC Committee and an additional potential "summit" between our SLRD Board of Directors, our MLA Tegart, the Minister of Transportation and senior ministry staff may net out in improvements to our infrastructure and an improved level of maintenance.  I want to say, that our MLA IS listening and trying to move this ball forward.  Full marks here.

.     Regular travellers on Road 40 are noticing an improvement in amount/timing of grading in the last two months, we hope this continues.  We are told, after a bunch of work on Sal's part digging this information out, that a paving machine is now stationed full time in Gold Bridge and that potholes will be filled year around.  This is a good thing given they are already returning on our favorite 22 km stretch of road.  Sal pursued red bump signs at either end of that 22km stretch so there is some warning to unsuspecting travellers.
       YOU NEED TO DO YOUR PART to keep our Road 40 on the top of everyone's mind.
             1. When you travel Rd. 40 and there are concerns such as potholes, poor grading, rocks or other hazards please go to www.interiorroads.com, click on feedback and fill in the Public Communication Record.  You can also call 1-800-842-4122.  Be specific and provide as much detail as possible.

           2. It is no good talking to each other or venting on Facebook about "near miss" accidents  as officials tell me our road 40 is safe because there are no statistics showing otherwise.  Near miss accidents need to be reported to the RCMP in Lillooet, again with as much detail and information as possible.  

           3.If after you have travelled this road you say to yourself, this road needs to be fixed. WRITE our MLA Jackie Tegart and copy your own home MLA, include the Minister of Transportation and copy me too.  Please don't spam them and launch off on partisan tirades, this does not help us achieve the repaving of the key section of road, be real and polite and specific. This is very very important to keep REAL communication happening.

       Email addresses:  Jackie.Tegart.MLA@leg.bc.ca  and Minister.Transportation@gov.bc.ca
       I think are goals for Road 40 are (in priority order):
       1. Ensure the maintenance of the road provides as safe a travelling experience as possible - this includes grading when the road needs it, filling potholes in a timely fashion, appropriate rock removal control, mowing in a timely fashion so travellers know where the edge of the road is, more ditching, more debris flow proactive management
      2. Repaving the road from 17km east of Tyaughton Lake Rd. junction to approx. 5 km west of same junction

      Please let me know if you have additions to this urgent/priority list or have different priorities than these two.




      There is much more to report on this topic and I will do more blogs over the next few weeks to catch everyone up both on this Road 40 issue and many other issues of interest and concern to our area.  I'd like to thank Sal Demare who has been following up on some specifics which helps me focus on the political aspects.   The proactive communication by MOTI and IRL beyond items like road closures and hazards reported on Drive BC,   with this community,  is very minimal.  Sal's work has at least surfaced some information which he and I will share and he continues to let them know the communication issues must be fixed.

      Finally, I want to say and continue to say, this ruckus over Road 40 in no way reflects on our local Interior Roads crew.  As you all know, this crew goes above and beyond in doing the best job possible based on the direction and resources they are given.  They have big hearts, great knowledge of our area and excellent skill sets about what they do.  Don't forget to say thank you to them and express your appreciation to these workers who take care of our roads every day.  

Photo: Michelle Nortje.  Lest we forget, Lillooet-Pioneer Rd. 40 is an absolutely spectacular trip that transverses climactic zones and where wildlife (including this eagle) abound.  Snow Geese, Swans, Mountain Sheep, Mountain Goats, Deer, Moose, Black Bears, Grizzlies, Wolves.  Pretty Typical to spot these on a trip in.  Lets remember what an asset this road is to the province and the Bridge River Valley.  Come on up, its an experience like no other.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Our Power Outage and Seeking an Alternate

45 hour Power Outage - followup with BC Hydro

Many property owners and businesses had some questions following the 45 hour power outage we had in July.  

I followed up with BC Hydro with some questions - here are the questions & the BC Hydro answers in red.

      1. BC Hydro updates through phone-in system were not updated for almost 24 hours.  Our community is expressing concern that they would have made more all encompassing plans had they known sooner the difficult circumstances and the possible length of the outage.  These updates did improve from approx.. 24 hours on. Unfortunately we were challenged to first identify the location/nature of the problem, then gain access to the site. Both of these challenges, plus a lack of cell service in the area limited our ability to establish and convey a more accurate restoration target earlier on. That said, we appreciate the point and we will look at how we can improve this moving forward.  

Jerry Muir, BC Hydro Community Relations Rep & me walking and talking at the Haylmore Heritage Site. 
2. The SLRD staff contacted you about 16 hours into this outage and you  were wonderfully responsive.  However, the question has been asked, given the assessment of the situation and the length of time it was going to take to restore power, why BC Hydro did not proactively contact local government so their systems of contact etc. could be initiated. Per above, we faced challenges early on in scoping the nature of the problem. Once the problem had been identified from an aerial survey on Monday morning, I was in the process of drafting a notification (email) when the phone call from SLRD was first received. From that point, I relayed all new info to numerous contacts at the SLRD – which was used to update social media channels as well as epact (emergency) notifications.

     3, There are questions, given the obvious difficult site assessment and the apparent, and to residents obvious length of time it was going to take to restore power, why generation was not rerouted from La Joie Dam generation.  Residents made the point that BC Hydro has made a huge impact in our area and it is their expectation that this would have happened once the difficulty of the situation are known;
Under normal circumstances, we would have been able to use Lajoie to restore service in the area much sooner. Unfortunately we are in the middle of a significant maintenance project there which excluded its use during the outage. This project has now completed.

4   4.   Residents were told, via updates, at end of day Monday that the old pole had been extracted from the mud slide.  Residents are asking why the first priority, given the assessment, was not to put in a new pole and get power restored.
I think there was a miscommunication/misinterpretation of the update on Monday. The update below was provided at the end of the Monday. The conductor was removed from the old pole but the challenge was finding a stable location to set the pole up.

Crews were able to reach the structure and remove the old pole from the conductor. Unfortunately they were not able to place the pole back in the same location because of the large washout. The plan for tomorrow is to set the new pole and anchor on stable ground across the washout. At this point, our best estimate is that we should be able to restore power by tomorrow afternoon. Site conditions continue to be a challenge and we appreciate your understanding.  (9:19pm, July 18th)

The existing pole was simply moved to the staging area for inspection. At the same time, crews continued to prep the new site. Once the site was fully prepped, the old pole was reused.  

Please remember to join the SLRD emergency alert system:  http://www.slrd.bc.ca/services/emergency-management/slrd-alert-sign
Additionally you need to get a phone that is non-electric (corded) or has battery backup.  If you use an answering machine, it will not work in a power outage and thus receive the alerts on that machine unless you have a battery backup answering machine as well.

This system was used twice in this incident and worked well.

Being an Electoral Area Director in the SLRD

Yes that's me.  The current term goes until December 2018.

The Electoral Area Director receives a yearly stipend of $12,259.  

In addition, for the Standing Committee and Board Meetings you receive $156/meeting.  This amount covers preparation for and participation in these meetings.

Aside from meetings and meeting prep, I generally spend about 3 full days per week working on SLRD and community issues/concerns.

Being elected is not a job per se, so you do not receive holiday pay or benefits, however you do receive a small amount for travel time and mileage/other expenses in travelling to SLRD meetings etc is covered.

My practice has been to take approximately 7 weeks "off"  per year.  Normally I take a one month period of that after the July meeting (3rd Wednesday) to before the August meeting (3rd Wednesday).  In August we do not have any committee meetings, so it is a good time to do this.  Most of the month of August I usually am at home and have always made myself available during that month for emergency and other critical matters.  This summer that includes responding and assisting on the 45 hour power outage, the issues with the conditions on Road 40 and several other critical matters.  During all of my time off, either my Alternate , Norm Verner or our staff at the SLRD are available (1-800-298-7753) to assist with issues that come up that relate to local government.  Most other issues are Provincial in nature and outreach can be made to MLA Tegart's office.

Speaking of my Alternate!   Norm Verner has been my Alternate for a number of years now.  Norm will be "retiring" as my alternate in December.  I am looking for a new Alternate.  An Alternate fills in meetings (in person/phone) when for some reason I cannot attend.  This hasn't happened much in the years, however you need that backup in place in case something happens.  If an Alternate needs to fill in, they are paid the meeting fee, travel time and expenses.  It is a great way to be of service to you community and also learn alot about local government and how it works.

If you are interested in possibly taking over from Norm, please let me know.

And to Norm Verner, Thank You!  Your service is appreciated by us all.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Gun Lake Items

Gun Lake Items

The Saddle Rd. (Lakeview Ave. over to transfer station) has been graded.  Thanks to Tony Maida (Gun Lake property owner) for bringing this my attention.  I had some communication with IRL as it had not been graded for two years.  For future reference this is a road whose classification (6) means it should have a scheduled grading yearly.  

Dock Poaching

Last fall on Gun Lake we had 3 instances of dock poaching.  In these cases, the docks were disengaged or pulled from the beach, used and then beached elsewhere on Gun Lake.

At the end of August, we had a situation where a group of people were seen on one dock and the next day on the next door property's dock.  In this case, these folks were nude and were seen to be paddle boarding in front of other people's docks.  

There are some steps you can take to make your dock less useable and your property less attractive to this sort of thing.  It appears most vulnerable times are summer and fall.
   1. Take more intensive steps to secure your dock (if possible)
   2. If your property is for sale, remove For Sale signs on lake.
   3. Install a trail cam, these are not expensive and do an excellent job of taking pictures
   4. Install motion sensor outdoor lights
   5.  Leave light (lights) on a timer in cabin/house
   6.  Talk to your nearest "full time" or "more time" neighbor and let him know when you are there and not there.

I am going to be talking to the RCMP re what advice they have on this.

Gun Lake Fuel Mitigation Project

This is the latest map for the Phase 2 Fuel Mitigation Project in the Gun Lake Area.  The hope is to get this completed late Fall 2016 or Spring 2017.

What is fuel mitigation?  See my previous blog post on this (scroll down) http://www.debbiedemare.com/2016/02/cue-happy-dance-bralorne-sewer-system.html

Fire Services Review - Public Consultation - A followup

The public consultation on the Gun Lake Fire Services options concluded on Friday, September 9.  The staff will be compiling the input received and sharing it with the Electoral Area Directors this fall.  An online question/answer derived from the input will also be posted.   The engagement from the property owners on Gun Lake has been excellent both in quantity and quality of input.  

Last week, the Gun Lake Fire Protection Society circulated to its members a proposal for an option they called:   Status Quo w/Enhancements.  Our Emergency Program Manager, Ryan Wainwright has provided the following information to in part address this proposal and to continue to educated/inform folks on requirements/etc for Fire Services in 2016.  I am sharing this as I personally found it useful in this form.  


GLFPS “Status Quo w/ Enhancements”
SLRD Option 1 for Gun Lake – Fire Brigade
Pass a new SLRD Bylaw that would allow the GLFPS to enter onto private property and ensure funds are available to cover any additional insurance and WCB costs that could arise
Requires that a new bylaw be put into place to shift to an increased requisition. Requisition to cover additional costs.

Authority to enter onto private land derived from the Fire Services Act, not SLRD Bylaw. Only available to fire departments, not Wildfire Protection Societies.
Significantly increase the funding to the GLFPS established by SLRD Bylaw 559 (1994) as amended to allow
a)       the voluntary fire chief to receive an annual stipend or a part-time fire chief to be hired
b)       replacement of aging equipment and the purchases of additional equipment
c)       additional training
d)       additional fire prevention activities including Fire Smart

As a contribution service, a Gun Lake Fire Brigade would have the flexibility to allocate its budget according to the needs of the department.

A Gun Lake Fire Brigade operated by a Society would assume responsibility for meeting the requirements of the Fire Services Act, including the Minimum Standards set by the BC Office of the Fire Commissioner Playbook, including training and equipment levels.

A fire department assumes responsibility for interface fires within its service area, and can request assistance from BC Wildfire Service

FireSmart participation would be at the discretion of the Fire Chief and Society Board.
Improved coordination with other fire service bodies to provide or plan for more efficient and/or more cost effective
a)       equipment purchases
b)       training
c)       insurance and WCB coverage
d)       administration of the services
e)       assistance to neighbouring communities in emergency situations or in other way

A Society fire brigade operated as a contribution-only service of the SLRD would have the latitude to budget and spend according to the needs/priorities of the department.

The SLRD would still charge a minimal (currently $250 pa) administration fee for collecting and processing the requisition.

The SLRD Emergency Program is available to actively work with local VFDs to coordinate deployment and assistance in neighboring communities during all types of emergencies, and covers the WCB and liability of volunteers serving in that capacity, during an event response.

The key difference between Option 1, and the model put forward through the GLFPS, is that Option 1 requires GLFPS to evolve into a structural protection fire brigade, with status as a fire department under the Fire Services Act. This is the ONLY way that GLFPS would be legally able to enter onto private land at the sole direction of the Chief to fight a fire, and it is governed by provincial legislation – not SLRD bylaw.

·         Risks associated with the current model:

The SLRD Fire Services Review noted that the GLFPS was under-funded by the current requisition, and that there were liability risks that could arise if operation continued in its current model. Essentially, the risks are these:
o   GLFPS is not permitted to enter onto private land to fight a fire, unless under the direct authorization of a BC Wildfire Service representative, using the powers of the Wildfire Act.

o   If GLFPS were to enter onto private land to fight a fire WITHOUT the direct authorization of the BC Wildfire Service, the liability insurance held by the GLFPS becomes void. By entering onto private land without authorization of the BC Wildfire Service, GLFPS would have broken the law, and insurance companies will not cover illegal activities.

o   It has been suggested the GLFPS could enter onto private land with the written consent of the landowner, which may afford some liability protection to GFLPS if the landowner were injured or their property damaged. However, if a GLFPS member were injured or killed fighting that fire, WCB benefits would be void, as there activity they were participating in is still not considered within the authority of a wildfire protection society.

o   In the case above, if the injured party/deceased person’s family decided to sue, and given that GLFPS does not have the authority to enter onto private land, GLFPS liability insurance would likely be void. This means that the officers of the Society could be held personally responsible for the costs of the law suit, and any eventual award to the injured party. That injured party could additionally name the SLRD in a lawsuit related to the actions of the GLFPS.

o   There are other wildfire protection groups within the regional district, but they are not incorporated as societies. They are “neighbours helping neighbours”, and everyone assumes their own risks based on the activities they decide to undertake as individuals. These groups do receive funding from the SLRD, but by applying for grants in aid through their elected officials. Groups receiving such grants sign an agreement with the SLRD that they will only undertake wildfire protection activities, and do so at their own risk.

o   The only way that GLFPS is sustainable as a wildfire protection society, in light of the risks highlighted above, is to ONLY act with the authorization of the BC Wildfire Service, or to dissolve the Society and continue as “neighbours helping neighbours”.

The corollary of the above is that in order to achieve the current goals of the GLFPS, the service will need to evolve into a fire brigade, and receive authority as a fire department under the Fire Services Act.

·         Additional notes:

o   As discussed at the meeting, any option referring to a Combined Area A fire department would necessarily require satellite halls to provide the needed coverage for all those paying into the service. The current GLFPS building, and the Bralorne VFD site are obvious possibilities, with a main hall in Goldbridge. If this information was missed in the presentation, my apologies – however, I did discuss this with several of your members before the GLFPS meeting was held.

o   In order to have FUS recognition, a VFD requires a minimum of 15 members who regularly attend training, and a reasonable expectation that a similar number would be available to respond to a fire. No VFD can guarantee the availability of a full crew at any given time.

UPDATE (Sept 12), Questions from Property Owner & Answers from our Emergency Program Manager, Ryan Wainwright at the SLRD.

Q. Why does the Provincial Gov’t wish to prevent  our local Society from acting in a First Responder role to prevent the spread of a fire from a building to the forest interface and subsequently to other properties before the BC Forest Fire Service is able to get to the scene?

Isn’t this really counterproductive to the interests of the public in general and to our community in particular?

Does the Provincial Gov’t have a really good answer to this question?

A. “The BC Office of the Fire Commissioner is available to answer questions from the public related to the Fire Services Act, and the proposed Fire Safety Act.”

Q. Is the SLRD supportive of this BC Gov’t policy?

If so, Why?

A. “The SLRD supports communities acting to assist one another during emergencies such as wildfire, but discourages individuals or groups from reacting in a way that endangers themselves, or puts other responders or community members at risk.”

“The GLFPS may still (and has always been able to) act to protect the Gun Lake community from the spread of wildfire. However, it is advisable to do so in close coordination and at the direction of the BC Wildfire Service, and to ensure that liability protections in place for Society members are preserved. This can facilitated through cultivating a relationship with the Lillooet Fire Zone (as AL Leighton has been doing this year) so that the Fire Zone understands the equipment and capabilities of the GLFPS, and can provide direction while enroute with reinforcements.”
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