Sunday, December 2, 2012

Health Care, BC Hydro Money & Followups

Health Care in the Bridge River Valley

Please take a moment to fill our the survey below.  I am trying to find out how people in or visiting the Bridge River Valley access Health Services.

Click here to take survey

We are part of Interior Health Authority Area and the Thompson Regional Hospital District. Therefore our taxes go to medical services provided in that area - primarily Lillooet and Royal Inland Hospital (Kamloops).  Taxes on an average residential assessment will increase $21 next year.  Please see information on this at the two links below.

https://tnrd.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=71002

https://tnrd.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=71001

Most interested in any and all feedback on this particular issue to inform my positions on Health Care in the BRV (Area A) going forward.


BC Hydro Payment In Lieu of Taxes - Lillooet wants $300,000

BC Hydro pays over $1,000,000 to the SLRD for payment in lieu of taxes.

Other than some generating capacity in Area D (rural Squamish/Whistler), all of the generating capacity and dams/resevoirs related to this payment are in Area A (ours) and Area B (rural Lillooet, Seton/Shalath, Yalakom).

A number of years ago, the SLRD board came up with a way of dividing the benefit of these funds.  Many long time residents in our area do not agree with the amount of benefit we receive which is approx. $50,000 directly and further indirect benefit through general government and planning services.

This fall, Lillooet has submited a letter and a report requesting $300,000 of these PILT funds go to their community, and in their calculations they have also provided for Area A and Area B (see two options p. 32/33 of the report).   Lilloet argues that the original order in council and subsequent provincial government guidelines for allocation of the PILT funds were to be 40% to the Northern SLRD (Area A, Area B, & Lillooet)

Lillooet letter and report requesting $300,000 of PILT funds
(this is a big file give it a few minutes to download)

At the Board meeting in November, the Municipality of Whistler indicated that if such funds went to Lillooet et al, they would not support increasing taxes across the rest of the region to make up for what has been taken out of general government/planning services.    Pemberton's rep to the board, Mayor Jordon Sturdy basicly indicated that Pemberton would not support and would encourage Lillooet to pursue the satellite boundary expansion to take in the dams and the Bridge River generating complex.  The interesting part of this, is that because this a "money/budget" vote, it will be a weighted vote, meaning the municipalities which have more "votes" due to population, will basically be in control of what happens here.

If you are BOTH a resident of Area A and either Squamish, Pemberton ,Whistler, Area C or D, I would most certainly read the report, become informed and express your opinion to  local councillor, Mayor or Area Director.  This will affect you the most financially in both jurisdictions and if something is not done to assist the Northern SLRD, the potential is to eventually impact your property values and resale ability in Area A.  

For my part, my opinion is the the taxpayers of Area A, B and Lillooet have been subsidizing the Sea-Sky corridor taxpayers for many years by the current allocation of the PILT funds and it is time to re-write the equation.  My current thinking is:   1) at least the same financial benefit to Area A must be maintained and possible additional as I feel our area, with 70 sq. kms of resevoirs and two dams is the MOST impacted and should receive a signficant piece of the PILT funds and 2)  the SLRD board MUST take steps either through the reallocation of PILT funds or other strategic initiatives to strengthen the Northern SLRD (Area A,. B & Lillooet)  While increasingly Area A is tied to the Sea-to-Sky corridor, it is still very important for us to have a strong and healthy Lillooet as the main gateway to our area.

This is an evolving issue and so is my thinking on it, so please feel free to let me know what you think.

At the November board meeting, the SLRD staff were requested to bring back a report (in January) that includes information on what the provincial government guidelines for distribution are and also implications financially on various options for distribution of the PILT funds.


Followups

1. Crane Creek Engineers Report In
I have placed a link to the report from the engineer on the Crane Creek debris flow.
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bz8bmBXIlkCOTDYyU2hycXVNTkk
(again a large file, give it a minute or two)

I would draw your attention to the recommendations in the report.  The SLRD board passed the following resolution:

THAT the Tyaughton Lake Debris Flow - As-Constructed Summary Report be sent to the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure, along with any other pertinent Ministries, along with a letter encouraging implementation of the recommendations prior to next Spring’s freshet.

2. Spruce Budworm followup
I asked Lorraine MacLaughlin for an update on the Spruce Budworm.

She has kindly supplied a map of the proposed spray area for next spring.
DRAFT map of spraying in our area
She advises:
*map is draft only, boundaries/lines have not been totally confirmed
*consultation is underway with affected First Nations
*ministry has  purchased enough B.t.k. for approximately 62,000 hectares of treatment (to be shared amongst the Cariboo and Thompson Okanagan regions).
*Lorraine's area has  40,000 to 45,000 ha of this allotment.
*Funding for 2013 is still not certain but it is likely we will get enough to treat the 62,000 ha.
*If the area around Gold Bridge-Gun Lake proceeds, we will use the airstrip as our staging site.
*there may be another information session in March 2013 or send out letters to locals.
 
3.  Our Favorite Topic:  Roads
I have sent the following letter to the General Manager, Interior Roads.  Interior Roads is the maintenance contractor for the section of the Hurley Rd. from the steel bridge to just the other side of the summit.
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bz8bmBXIlkCOUC1Ea3JnTXNjMUU

Area road crew - night shift.  I had some questions about there not being a night shift this winter with our local Interior Roads crews.  I contacted the operations manager and they are currently backfilling the night shift with overtime/Lillooet crews, they have hired for the night shift but are /were having a hard time getting accomodation for them.  Last I heard they had 1 person looked after. 

I also heard yesterday that local residents are currently getting a petition going regarding the ongoing condition/maintenance and paving of Rd. 40.  Go for it!!!  I'd also remind everyone that the single most effective method to complain about Rd. 40 or any public rd for that matter is to go to www.interiorroads.com, click on feedback and fill it in.  Do it lots for things that are not right.  These feedback forms are sent to a number of Interior Roads management as well as the Ministry of Transportation managers.  My experience is that these forms get attenti

I will stay on touch, this is ongoing advocacy on my part and that of the SLRD board.

Change of Alternate
Teri Anderson, who has been my alternate for 2012.  She has decided not to carry on for 2013.  In her own words:

"I would also like to give my resignation as the SLRD Alternate.  As we first discussed, you noted that if this did not work out for me, I could resign in December.  In order for me to be a success at all that I endeavour, I need to focus my time and efforts as mentioned above.  This is hard for me to step back, but necessary.  "

I would like to thank Teri on behalf of the taxpayers and residents of Area A for her willingness to be the alternate.  Her committment to and love of this area is signficant and long standing.

I started out thinking that if I had alternates come and go I'd try and move around the Valley, and so the next alternate will be Norm Verner. 

Norm is a part time Gun Lake resident, and in a past life was a City Councilor, so that will be helpful.  Norm also has some background and experience with the entire PILT discussion above.  Thank You Norm for your willingness to do this, your committment and love of this area is also signficant and long standing.




Interesting News Coverage

Sustainability Plan Sparks Debate
 I am idealistic I guess. I think a regional board should seek ways to enhance, protect and carefully nurture the entire region.  Below is just one example of how that isn't happening at the SLRD. How it got to this point in the process without a committment to true regional alignment is beyond me.
 
 
Exploring beyond Sea - to - Sky
I would like to see more regional thinking at the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District board level.  I also think this regional thinking needs to be in balance, of course, with taxpayer load and municipal territorial issues.  Right now I have to say that the tone of this board is very much weighted to territorial and monetary squabbles and issues.
 
Then along comes Clr. Patricia Heintzman, Squamish councillor and one of two Squamish appointees to the SLRD, with this initiative.   This is the kind of thinking and initiative we need to think regionally. It isn't always about slicing up the pie.....it can be about working to make the pie bigger!!! Bravo Clr. Heintzman & Squamish Council!!!

 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wood Waste Disposal Continues and other items

Free Wood Waste Disposal at the Gold Bridge Transfer StationThe Bridge River Valley Firesmart committee has given the appropriate disposal of wood waste top prioritiy. 

There are two ways to properly dispose of wood waste from your property:   1) dispose of it on your property or now 2) take it to the Transfer Station on Sunday November 11.

Taking your wood waste and putting it on piles around Gun Lake, or along roadsides, or on piles at Gold Bridge or any other place other than the Transfer Station, aside from being illegal, is creating a fire hazard.
Additional fire hazards like this our area Does Not Need!!!  There is noone going to come along behind You to take care of these piles of wood.  So please either dispose of the wood waste on your property or take it to the Transfer Station - free.  This Sunday will complete the Pilot Project and the SLRD will assess for continuance next year.

In partnership with the SLRD and MOF, the piles that have been created everywhere will be burnt this one time only and signs and other forms of protection will be installed.

Please respect this important priority and help keep our properties safe from wildfire.

CanBio to hold workshop on bioenergy for rural and remote communities

 

The Canadian Bioenergy Assocation (CanBio) will be presenting a workshop entitled Energy Independence for Rural and Remote Communities, in partnership with the University of Northern British Columbia. The workshop will take place from 1 – 4:30 pm on November 27, 2012 in Vancouver BC.

This would be a very possible direction for Area A.  As I have a budget meeting I cannot attend.  I am looking for someone who is also interested in the topic who could attend and relay back - in detail - what they learn.  I will find funding for the registration fee and travel (if necessary).  Please let me know if you are interested and can attend.

Remote and rural Canadian communities face immense challenges when it comes to meeting their energy needs. “Energy security is perhaps the most critical issue facing rural, remote, and in particular Aboriginal communities in Canada,” explains JP Gladu, President and CEO of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. With natural gas service being virtually non-existent, the vast-majority of these communities are dependent on dirtier and more expensive fossil fuels such as diesel and propane, at a huge cost to local residents and Canadian taxpayers, not to mention the environment. In fact, many communities have to have diesel flown in when supplies run short and are under constant pressure to ensure stocks remain available.

Meanwhile, a clean, sustainable, and readily available source of energy and economic growth sits largely unused in the backyards of many rural and remote communities across the country. “Biomass can play a key role in dealing with the energy issue, but it can also be a source of significant economic growth for these communities,” explains Gladu, who will speak at the workshop about the economic development potential of sustainable biomass utilization.

Other topics that will be covered include: the advantages of biomass utilization; system design, implementation, and maintenance; feedstock and supply chain issues; and food security. Relevant case studies will also be presented.

Communities and other key stakeholders are encouraged to attend Energy Independence for Rural and Remote Communities, which is being held as part of CanBio’s 2012 Annual National Conference and Trade Show, taking place on November 27-28 in Vancouver BC. For more information, including details on how to register, visit http://www.canbio.ca/article/2012-annual-national-conference-and-trade-show-355.asp.

Our favorite topic:  The Hurley :-)
I have been in steady communication with the Ministry official responsible for the Hurley Road on the Pemberton side of the summit. 

As many of you may have notice the road from the Lillooet FSR up to the bridge where the Squamish Forest District sign is was graded shortly after Thanksgiving.  They put a much larger and slightly different machine on it with an experienced operator.  You can definitely see and FEEL (yahoo) the difference.

Unfortunately,  the piece from that bridge, up around the corner where the Tenquile Lake/Old Hurley joins and up the next piece towards the summit is nasty.  When I saw it had not been graded (again) I gave the official a call and it seems as if there is some confusion as to where their piece ends and this is why it hasn't been done.  He is going to liase with MOT to get this clarified.   The change over is actually at km21 from junction with Lillooet FSR.    If any of you are coming up that way in the next day or so can you take a picture where the yellow ribbons are on the right hand side, looking down and email it to me at demare87@gmail.com.

The official is now saying that the road should be graded 3 times next year and might I tell him appropriate dates:-)  I won't have any problem with that!!!!!  

Hopefully we are making some progress, through steady and pleasant (lol) communication, at least on that piece of the Hurley Rd.

Woodstove Exchange Program Extended

Just wanted to write to let you all know that the Wood Stove Exchange Program for Area A and B has been extended until February 28th, 2013. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

New Water Pump for Gold Bridge and other items: October 2012



Gold Bridge Water System Improvements

$45,000 has been approved under the Regionally Significant Project (RSP) Fund have been approved for federal Gas Tax funding by the Gas Tax Management Committee, composed of representatives from the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), Infrastructure Canada, and the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

Canada's Gas Tax Fund provides stable, long-term funding to local governments to help them
build and revitalize public infrastructure. The UBCM administers the Gas Tax Fund in BC, in
collaboration with the governments of Canada and British Columbia.

The funding for Gold Bridge will allow a badly needed, larger pump to be installed so that residents will have an effective water system and will allow opportunity for growth in the system.

Link to SLRD press release:
http://www.slrd.bc.ca/siteengine/activepage.asp?NewsID=300


Will the Spruce Budworm be back next season???

The answer is yes, the big question is how severe will next years defoliation be?

Lorraine Maclauchlan,  Forest Entomologist, Thompson Okanagan Region gave us a presentation on the Spruce Budworm on September long weekend.  You can see information on that presentation on this blog at this link:  http://www.debbiedemare.com/2012/09/woodstore-exchange-and-other-items.html.

Lorraine promised information once they had done some egg mass sampling and here it is:

Summary of fall 2012 egg mass sampling surveys in the Gun Lake area
Western spruce budworm (WSB)
No. SitesPredicted 2013 defoliation by WSB
4 siteslight defoliation predicted
18 sitesmoderate defoliation predicted
6 sitessevere defoliation predicted
Broad geographic locationDetailed LocationElevation (m)# eggmasses per 10 m2 foliagePredicted defoliation for 2013
Downton LkS side Downton Lake - 14.5 km Bridge R Main837 m214severe
Downton LkS side Downton Lake - 10.5 km Bridge R Main851 m25light
GoldbridgeS side Downton Lk - 2 km Bridge R Main909 m52moderate
GoldbridgeStart of Bridge R Main916 m21light
Goldbridge1 km Hurley724 m58moderate
Goldbridge4 km Hurley951 m102moderate
Goldbridge2.5 km Hurley828 m153severe
GoldbridgeGoldbridge - Start of road to Bralorne808 m77moderate
GoldbridgeGoldbridge - Bralorne Rd949 m117moderate
Goldbridge0.5 km Kingdome Lake Rd1,073 m95moderate
GoldbridgeGoldbridge - Bralorne Rd1,078 m208severe
GoldbridgeHurley R Rd near Bralorne978 m76moderate
Gun Lk1.5 km Slim Cr Main875 m130moderate
Gun Lk3 km Slim Cr Main876 m129moderate
Gun LkLajoie Cr877 m55moderate
Gun Lk6.5 km Slim Cr Main1,042 m151severe
Gun Lk8 km Slim Cr Main1,165 m160severe
Gun LkSumner Cr1,160 m115moderate
Gun Lkoff Slim Cr Main1,182 m53light
Tyaughton Lk0.2 km 5 Mile FSR894 m155severe
Tyaughton Lk0.2 km 5 Mile FSR1,029 m121moderate
Tyaughton Lk5 Mile FSR1,115 m37light
Tyaughton LkTyaughton Lk Rd - S end Tyaughton Lk1,011 m64moderate
Tyaughton LkTyaughton Lk Rd - N end Tyaughton Lk1,143 m132moderate
Tyaughton LkTyaughton Lk Rd - Cinnabar Cr1,118 m96moderate
Tyaughton LkMud Cr1,176 m60moderate
Tyaughton LkMud Cr1,112 m85moderate
Tyaughton LkTyaughton Lk Rd - N of Tyaughton Lk1,209 m72moderate

Lorraine says:   " To summarize briefly, there seems to still be a population present in the area and defoliation will continue in 2013 in many of the same and a few new areas.  Most sites came out as moderate with about equal number predicting light or severe defoliation for 2013.

As of now I still cannot say anything about our budget for 2013.  Therefore, whether or not MFLNRO will entertain a spray program in the area is still questionable.  I am going ahead with the assumption we will be spraying (arranging meetings with First Nations, submitting plans to MOE, delineating DRAFT spray blocks etc). "

Debbie's Note:  Please remember that any spraying done by MFLNRO would be on crown land.  I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this so please feel free to email me at demare87@gmail.com, also any questions you have, I will get Lorraine to answer and publish here.


School Board meets at Gold Bridge School


The School Trustees of the Gold Trail School District met at the Gold Bridge school.
Two other important points came out of that meeting for me:
1. The school field is in terrible condition.  As a result of that meeting, I have committed $5,000 SLRD Area A funds to partner with a funding application to the School Connections Fund. This fund is primarily intended to link local government and school districts to work on projects that benefit both the public and students.  At this writing, I am uncertain if the School District has moved this application forward to the funder.  A local person has donated used of excavator and operator and also the Parent Advisory Committee has committed volunteer labor.  Fingers crossed!!!
2. Planning for the future of the school must be done by the community.  School District may partner but cannot initiate this.  With 4 students and challenges continuing around this aspect of our community, this is something we need to work on.  If you would like to be part of a small committee to work on this let me know.  Jim MacArthur (current School Trustee Lillooet) said to call him as well.  We will need to find funding and hire someone to help facilitate, involve community and come up with a plan. 


UBCM Convention - September 2012

The Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) is an organization that all the cities, regional districts and now some First Nation communities belong to.  Every year they have a week long convention and this year there were representatives there from every local government.  The convention is considered very important to attend. Why?

Ministerial Meetings.  This year I took part in 3 meetings.  Two with the Premier – one related to increasing our bandwidth coming into the Bridge River Valley and one related to Economic Development in Pine Beetle affected areas. Both of these meetings were very positive and I felt the message was understood.     


I also attended a meeting with the Minister of Transportation and Forests.  Unfortunately this meeting, 10 minutes long, had too many SLRD “road” topics on it including the Hurley and Hwy 40.  I am going to request a follow up meeting with the Assistant Deputy Ministers of both these ministries.  The Minister’s were very receptive, there just was not enough time for the “discussion” piece.  I did find out though in a meeting with the Premier, that Min. Ben Stewart (who looks after the high speed internet file) new about our area and the Hurley Road.  Bonus!  I caught up with him at a reception later and it turns out he has camped in our area and is well acquainted with the Hurley.

2. Workshops, Panels and Forums.  The first of these started at 7:30 AM!!  I attended workshops on:

         Impact of grow ops on houses and the lack of a standard for remediation of these houses
  • 13,500 estimated grow-ops in BC in 2010, which works out to approx. one in every 137 houses being a grow op
  • Average  home grow op has 27.5 lights and is 24 times more likely to catch fire
  • Damage to homes from grow-op activity can be signficant and include altered support structures, wiring defects, mold, and pesticide residue
  • Legal or not homes were never designed to be grow ops
  • If a home has been a grow-op it affects insurability
  • There is no standard for remediation of homes that have had a grow-op in them
  • Link to RCMP Marijuana Grow Initiative:  http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/drugs-drogues/mgi-ircm/index-eng.htm    This is an excellent and comprehensive website.
  • Link to Vancouver Sun interactive map of discovered grow-ops:  http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Interactive+grow+busts/6562696/story.html
Decriminalization of marijuana and the impact of organized crime in our communities (see a theme yet?)

This was an excellent panel workshop that presented skilled professionals in various fields with differing views on how to tackle the marijuana dilemna.  Some points I jotted down were:
  • 70% of marijuana produced in BC is exported to the US in exchange for guns and cocaine.  That trade is primarily facilitated by organized crime.
  • The gang violence is primarily to control the commodity trade in marijuana
  • Organized crime is highly adapative and this is why despite so much money being spent on policing of marijuana, the business of growing marijuana continues to flourish
  • Americans are getting ahead of Canada on this file on a state by state basis, many states have initiatives on this November's ballot to decriminalize and regulate (or some combo of)
  • As an American police chief described it, he is keeping the lid on the garbage can as he chases it around the block
  • Medical marijuana licences are actually a grow op.  Health Canada does not have a single inspector in BC.    The local RCMP are not advised by Health Canada (who issues the licences) where the medical marijuana licences are located.  There is no inspection of the buildings these medical marijuana licence holders use to grow pot.  In addition, some medical grow-ops are also growing illegally.
  • Approx. 525,000 BC residents identify that they are current users, that is a huge number of people disregarding the law.  That disconnect is troubling.
  • There is a relationship with majijuana use in the young and schizophrenia developing
  • Use of marijuana by young impacts in many ways, just as alcohol and other drug use does
  • American police chief believes that education and awareness raising is critical and is the only thing that will change overall use of drugs and alcohol
  • A lot of money is being spent on policing and prosecuting marijuana possession
  • Regulation and an inspection regime will take steam out of the illegal marijuana trade

Internet Voting in 2014:  Below are a couple of links to presentations from this workshop.  This may be a very good way for an area like Area A, SLRD to encourage non-resident property owners to vote for the Regional District Director. 

Other workshops I attended:

 Cabinet panel on jobs and the economy
BC Ideas (go see it at http://www.changemakers.com/bcideas)
Municipal Finance

3. Resolutions.  When an issue is important to a local government they often pass a resolution and forward it on to UBCM.  It is then considered by the 1800 or so local government representatives that attend.  If it is passed then it becomes something that the UBCM Executive (Board made up of local government elected people) and Staff start following up and working on with other levels of government etc.  UBCM has an excellent and long standing reputation for moving various issues forward in a way that is very helpful to local governments.
The newsmaker resolution this year was:  Therefore be it resolved that UBCM call on the appropriate government to decriminalize marijuana and research the regulation and taxation of marijuana.  It passed by with about 70% vote.  In talking to other elected people it was felt the vote was mostly symbolic and a statement that the current regulations are not working.  Nearly 75% of the marijuana grown in BC is exported to the US and traded for cocaine and guns.  The organized crime related activity around this has escalated to significant levels in most communities in BC. Port Moody councillor Port Moody councillor Bob Elliott said his "quaint, safe city" has seen three gang-related murders in the past six months. He pleaded for support for decriminalization.  His words really swayed me although the arguments on both sides were excellent.  We have been pouring massive amounts of money into policing to try and control this and it isn’t working.  I added my voice to the majority calling for something different to happen. 
Although this was the resolution that caused the most fuss, many other very practical and relevant resolutions covering a huge range of topics were endorsed. You can see all the resolutions and whether or not they were endosed at:   http://www.ubcm.ca/EN/meta/news/news-archive/2012-archive/resolutions-results-from-2012-convention.html


4. Receptions, Lunches and Dinners.  Every day there are sponsored lunches, dinners and receptions.  Each evening between one and four receptions.  I think I attended 13 in all!  These are excellent opportunities to make connections with other elected people, provincial and federal cabinet ministers and other lobbyists representing various industries and organizations.

So, can you imagine walking into a reception with 1500 people all talking?  It is noisy and intimidating.  




I managed to move around and made a ton of good connections and had several key conversations.   Receptions were hosted by the Government of BC, the City of Victoria, Fortis BC, Epcor, B.C. Library Trustees, the Canadian Petroleum Producers, to name a few.   To access the CPP reception there was a gauntlet of protestors on the Northern Gateway Pipeline project.  The most novel food I ran across was mashed potatoes topped with curried chicken in a wine glass!!! 

Let me tell you my bed was SO welcome after a day like these.

Both Adrian Dix, leader of the NDP and Premier Christy Clark gave major speeches.  Then, much to my shock, at the very end I won the Door Prize, a $5,000 gift certificate for a cruise sponsored by the Port of Vancouver.  The trick will be getting Sal on a boat!

Attending the UBCM convention can definitely net many benefits for our area.  Victoria was a beautiful place for it however I really didn’t see much except the Legislature, the Victoria Conference Centre and my bed in the EmpressJ  For my first UBCM convention as Area Director, I was pretty happy with how I did and will learn from this experience and next year really go for it!


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