Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tyax Wilderness Resort Rezoning & Other Items

REZONING:  Tyax Wilderness Resort
First & second reading were given by SLRD Board on May 26.  Tyax has put up notification signs.
Unofficially, the public hearing will be held on July 3.  Notices etc. will be out shortly.

Here is the information on the current rezoning:   Tyax Wilderness Resort Rezoning - information link

At the same time (July 3) will be a public hearing for some housekkeeping changes to the Area A Zoning Bylaws.  Link to that information is at:   Area A Zoning Bylaw Changes

OCP Change & Rezoning:  Gun Lake - Kier Property
The staff have been directed to prepare the bylaws on this one.
Link to Information:   Kier Property Information

Gun Lake West Rec Site Campground - Douglas Fir Bark Beetles Infested Trees
It was brought to my attention that there are several trees (probably more now) infected by Douglas Fir Bark Beetle in the campground on Gun Lake.  Neighbors were concerned because these beetles could fly and infect/kill trees on their property.

I followed up first with the Rec Site & Trails Technician for the area, was not satisfied with his response so went to his manager.  Here is the response:

"From talking to Bruce Morrow, this is the situation with the large dead fir at Gun Lake West:
-          The trees are infested with fir bark beetle but there many more trees in the area similarly infested. Treating these 4 trees to kill the bark beetle would not have a significant impact on the population of bark beetle in the area.
-          The fir bark beetle flight is expected to happen in July. The infestation has been erratic, and its spread is unpredictable. It is very strange that the beetles attacked such large old trees with thick bark.
-          The dead trees will become danger trees, mainly because of the huge branches. Bruce confirmed that addressing this issue will be complicated and expensive, and require a high level of expertise.

So we have a serious but not an urgent issue to deal with. Ed will be back to work later this work; I will touch base with him and we will look at the options available to us. I would appreciate if you could keep us informed of other forest management work taking place in the area."

In other words they are in no hurry to do anything at this Rec Site.  I have followed up with him and he now advises (May27) that he will send out someone to have a look.  I also put him together with the Entomologist.    If you are not happy with this response and feel there should be a higher priority response here is the contact info:

Bruce Petch
Regional Manager
Recreation Sites and Trails BC
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
3rd Floor, 441 Columbia Street, Kamloops BC V2C 2T3
tel. 250-828-4441

Douglas Fir Bark Beetle Infested Trees
Links to previous information shared

Gun Lake Ratepayers Assoc. has also done some homework with the Regional Entomologist, Lorraine MacLaughlin on this and has provided some excellent information at:

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Our favorite topic...the road issue that never ends & More

As I post this blog, Sunday May 11 I know everyone including myself would like to know exactly the details of the future maintenance and upkeep of the Hurley River Rd.  When I know something factual and complete (i.e. not little birdies chirping) I will update this blog.  
May 12.  The official word is out, see it and take survey and say what you think.  http://isurvivedthehurley.com/?p=1329


The Electoral Area Directors of the SLRD have approved the initiation of a household roofline sprinkler program.  Roofline sprinklers have been shown to be very effective during interface wildfires.  The suggested approach would allow residents to order sprinklers either in person, from  the SLRD office in Pemberton, or online, using the SLRD website and a PayPal overlay. Once a number of orders has been received, the  SLRD would then bulk order sprinkler units from a local supplier, at a reduced cost-by-volume, and  residents could pick them up from the SLRD office along with simple, step-by-step installation instructions. Local fire halls could also be designated as pick-up locations. 

Information from the SLRD meeting here:

Lots more information to come!

Regional District Services cover specific taxpayers or areas.    They may take a number of forms to raise revenue, taxation via an amount/$1000 of assessment, a parcel tax and/or user fees amongst other mechanisms.

When I came on as Regional District Director in 2011, a new water system had been installed.  I almost immediately received many phone calls about the degree of chlorine in the water, the smell etc.

As I delved into the history and issues with this service a multitude of challenges started to crop up.  I want to say from the outset that this is not casting any shadow on Russ Oakley.  He lead the appropriate and needed process to put a proper water system in place.

Here are some links to detailed information regarding this service and its issues.
Info on New Pump (2012)
Info from SLRD Dir. Utilities on previous water pump
Information on Gold Bridge Water
Last year, the SLRD Board in its application for regionally significant Gas Tax Funds applied for and received about $45,000 to install a larger pump.  This has occurRed.  This seems to have rectified the chlorine issues and should decrease some operational costs and that has been budgeted for.

The challenge remains the overall financial viability of this service.  As you may be aware, Regional Districts can not move money around as municipalities can.  Money that is taxed for for a service must remain and be used by that service.  So money in has to cover the money out.  The problem with this service is that, as of today, where we stand it is barely breaking even and there are no funds going into reserves.  We have instituted user fees which will help on the revenue side and I have been successful in getting the Board to agree to set aside the increase each year in BC Hydro PILT funds to a fund for Area A, B & Lilllooet's use. Unfortunately they have been as yet unable to agree on how to divide this fund up between the 3 of us, however it is fully my attention that $5,000 a year of this fund will go to this service for some time to build up the reserve.  This will eliminate the necessity to increase either the parcel taxes or the user fees or both.  Please stand by on this.  In the meantime I am looking at other funding sources to top up the reserves even if it is just this year or for a couple of years.  Please bear with me I am working on this.

  As always let me know what I or the SLRD staff can do.  We are more than willing to explain and listen.

Gold Bridge School Field Completion
As a result of a meeting with the Board of Education last year, I committed $5,000 SLRD Area A funds to partner with a funding application to the School Connections Fund ($15,000).  The School District also used some of their maintenance budget. The School Connections fund is primarily intended to link local government and school districts to work on projects that benefit both the public and students.  The entire project was funded including removal of trees and installation of an irrigation system.

Some people asked me if it was being left as it is, so I called the School Principal, Patrice Barth who advised that the School District Maintenance department will be reseeding the field this spring.

Tyax Wilderness Lodge
Tyax has revised and resubmitted their rezoning application.  It will come to the SLRD Board Meeting at the end of May.  If readings are given, a public hearing date will be set.

I have asked staff and will be asking the Board to support:
1. Signage be required on the site immediately
2. One month's full notice of the Public Hearing be given

As this has not gone to a Board meeting yet I cannot provide any detailed information, other than to say that Tyax has removed the main lodge site from application as well as lot 6/.  The new application contains just Lot 5 directly south which will contain a multi-unit staff accomodation.  The same types of restrictive convenants as were being required on the previous application are likely going to be, where still appropriate, required.

As most of you know Helen Kier passed away last year.  The family has brought forward an application to subdivide the property for each child.  This will require an OCP amendment as well as a rezoning.
Please see the map at this link: Map - Kier Property OCP and Rezoning
If you have any thoughts/questions let me know.  

Bralorne Water System:
The last of the historic wood stave water piping will be replaced in Bralorne this summer. The replacement program includes replacing up to 330m of pipe along Hawkes Avenue and installing new service connections and valves to the property lines. Currently the project is in the design phase, with TRUE Consulting providing this service. The next phase will be the production of tender documents and procurement of a contractor. The project should be completed by October 31, 2014. 
Bralorne Sewer System:
An investigation into the state of repair of the sewer pipes in Bralorne will happen this summer. We plan to do a closed circuit television (CCTV) inspection. Results from this inspection will provide the SLRD with an overall state of health of the system which can be used to strengthen future grant applications. Approximately $25,000 has been put aside to do this funding.  The federal government has announced that Gas Tax Funding will be available once again; an announcement with details regarding the next application uptake is expected soon.

Gold Bridge Transfer Station:
1.    RV Sani-Dump Access: Soon there will be RV access to the septage pits at the Gold Bridge Transfer Station. After exploring a number of alternatives and engaging the Ministry of Environment, the SLRD has confirmed that the septage pits can accommodate the expected volumes from recreational vehicles. Provided the volume remains below 100m3 per year, the transfer station will be operating within its permit. SLRD Staff will be required to monitor the disposal rates and collect user information. 

2.    The Printed Paper & Packaging (PPP) Stewardship Program starts May 14, 2014: The Lillooet Landfill is registered as a designated collection facility. This means that the landfill will receive payment from the program service provider, Multi Materials BC (MMBC), based on the weight of material collected. The Gold Bridge Transfer Station will receive a portion of that funding for all properly sorted and clean PPP materials that are taken from the transfer station to Lillooet. Watch for pamphlets and signage that will be appearing soon at the Transfer Station. The more recycling collected means lower costs to landfill, and more funds flowing back into the operating budget.

A note from Kara Socket provided the following information: 
      The recycle program will continue to evolve, the response has been fantastic and although I don't have hard statistics to offer, I know that the trailer when loaded, holds about a ton or 2,000 lbs of recycling.  In summer I'm hauling at least monthly, sometimes more and in winter, about every 6 weeks.  I'd say that we're probably recycling up to 25,000 lbs a year!  Awesome!

BC Hydro announcements regarding LaJoie Dam and Downton Reservoir

I have talked to BC Hydro officials and we are hoping to have a community meeting to provide more information soon.

BC Hydro is in the process of evaluating what to do about the LaJoie Dam.  Once that is decided it will be a medium-long term process to do the operational planning/budget etc.  
This year, if approved, there will be some operational modifications.
In addition, planning is under way as per the link to reduce the level of the Downton Reservoir.
Please be cautious in drawing conclusions from the Lillooet News article and I am attempting to get our business owners/operators and others the ability to speak to BC Hydro officials directly at a meeting.
More to come!

GUN LAKE:  Mowing Vanderburgh Hill , Lakeview Rd. & W.Gun Lake Rd.
Last year I pursued Interior Roads to mow Lakeview Rd. &
W. Gun Lake Rd. due to the invasion of Canada Thistle (invasive)
 we found the previous year.  At first told not in their contract, they found the budget to ensure the road was mowed and mowed early.  Thank You Interior Roads!
Then later in the year, oh my goodness the weeds along the side of Vanderburgh Hill were really bad and I contacted IRL again.  They dealt with it.

I was back at it questioning again this spring and received this response;
"The mowing of Gun Lake West road up to Lake View including Vandenberg hill and Lakeview road to Saddle road will be done by our mowing contractor.  This is what we eventually did last year and this will be scheduled every year from now on.  I will have Don McMahon watch to make sure they do this area."
A small bit of progress.  Smile.

GUN LAKE:  Slim Creek Connector to Rd. 40
The bottom part of that road where it joins Rd. 40 has a slide on it and it covers up that road, makes it somewhat impassable every year.
That part of the road is a Licensee Road - Aspen Planers.
The SLRD Emergency Program Manager and the RPF that did the  Fuel Mitigation strategy have both indicated that a 2nd emergency exit from the Gun Lake area would be a good thing. This is because the highest likelihood of a fire comes from the south/south-west right where the road leading into Gun Lake is.
So I talked to the MOF Roads guy who talked to the Aspen Planers roads guy and voila (sort of):
      "I have asked Tom Illidge to run out and clean up the slough along the lower portion of the Slim creek road and get it open for the long weekend. As you have most likely heard from Ken, this is a road permit road and Aspen is not obligated to maintain it to a two wheel drive standard or keep it open for the general public all year long and if it closes throughout the seasons, we may not want to open it, we may just post it as closed.

If the Gun Lake association or SLRD is willing to maintain this road, we could enter into a Road Maintenance Agreement that would allow a secondary user to complete maintenance legally. This would mean that Aspen sets the minimum standards which would include requirements of the maintainer to be covered by worksafe bc, have general liability and comprehensive insurance including firefighting coverage of $250,000 minimum and also be approved by aspen for this type of work. It is important to note that the maintainer does not create any environmental or safety hazards and is cognizant of the Highway junction  and the hazards associated with this. We cannot have the material pushed over the bank onto the edge of Highway 40 and expect the MOTi to manage it for us. And to work on the travelled portion of Highway 40 requires permits and approvals from the MOTi representative"

This work was done this last week and the bottom part is in good driveable condition.

Big thanks to Aspen Planers for this donation to assist the safety of the Gun Lake community.  It is much appreciated!  Now to figure out next year......

Marshall Lake Area :  Forestry Concerns
I went out last week to support an Area A property owner in his effort to work with Interwest to mitigate his concerns regarding harvesting immediately in and around his property.

     . It has been a month's long effort with the property owner repeatedly communicating his concerns to Interwest. Meeting started out very testy with the Interwest rep saying that Interwest had done what they "have to" and thats it.

After some pretty darned direct conversation, the Interwest rep agreed to do a tour and committed to some specific mitigations in the key problem areas. Later on he also said he could have communicated in a more open manner and told the owner long ago that he would come out and work on specific issues/mitigations.. Geesh, so much effort and needing to go cap in hand and beg , something is wrong with our forest policy when it leaves a property owner in this situation. Anyways it turned out well so thats the main thing and I hope this forms a better basis for understanding on Interwest's part going forward. The proof will be in the pudding all around

Marshall Lake:  Log Hauling Starts Soon
We have known all winter that log hauling was going to commence this spring on the Marshall Lake Rd.
Property owners are super concerned about that bottom part of the road before it joins Rd. 40.
I and John Parrott, MLRA president and others have been working hard to bring awareness of the safety issues to the MOTi, the road contractor IRL, Interwest and their contractors.  We even had a video made (thank you Kenneth Walker) that we circulated to the ministries and so on.
It has been a continuous process of followup.  So far property owners are still not completely satisfied, but I can say Interior Roads has done an absolutely stellar job of preparing that road for the hauling.  They have found every way to eek out some width.  The road itself has been graded and honed into fantastic condition.  Well done Interior Roads, well done!
We have asked for signage, any kind of signage warning folks of the danger.  And I have sent emails to property owners encouraging them to slow down and take care this summer.  We are hoping MOTi can do something and just this past week Interwest has indicated they will put up signage if MOTi doesn't.

I was very pleased and honored after all this to be extended an invitation to attend the Marshall Lake Ratepayers Picnic this summer - thank you so much- and I received this very nice email from one fellow-
"Debbie—on behalf of myself and my family, I would like to thank you for all your time and attention to the issues brought on by the logging in our little piece of heaven (Marshall Lake). And I agree that Interior Roads has done an outstanding job on the road to Marshall Lake.
Our family has been on the lake since 1962, and like you, just love every minute that we can get at the lake.
We have followed your blogs to date, and want to thank you for your very professional, concerned efforts to ensure that our voices have been heard with the logging contractors, elected  provincial officials, and public employees. Thank-you again, and please continue to keep us informed through your emails"

I don't do this for thank you's, I do it for satisfaction that I can help this area.  But its nice all the same to get this very nice thought.  

Change.org Petition.
You may have recently seen a Petition on Change.org making some requests of me as the Area A Director on a personal matter of an individual who resides in this area.  I am not going to go into a lot of details other than to say this involves a period of time about 3 years ago in which I was appointed by the Bridge River Valley Economic Development Society as their executive director (which I removed myself from several months before taking on the Regional District Director role).  The matter is therefore, if needed, for comment by that organization and not by me personally as I was acting on their behalf.
I called the RCMP and they advise that the file mentioned was closed in September 2011 after the actions agreed upon with the RCMP were taken by the Bridge River Valley Economic Development Society.