Saturday, March 14, 2015

Paradise City, Gun Lake Logging, Gold Bridge Water, How to have your say

HEADLINE:  "Ghost Town Will Be Transformed To Paradise City (Tian-Fu City)"
Click here for my previous posts on this topic.  Much more to come of course.
Some of you may have seen Social Media posts of this newspaper front page. Here is an accurate translation, thanks to new local Bralorne property owner, Margaret Zheng for doing this for us.  




Journalist Yijing Ni / Burnaby

"Before and after August 2014 this newspaper (World Journal) has reported, BC ‘Ghost Town’ Bradian on the market for sale.  Ultimately, it is purchased by a Chinese company for under a million dollars.  According to news this company has given ‘Paradise City’ as the name to the development project which is launching its planning stage – build a comprehensive business, sports, resort and recreational facilities in the premise of retaining the little town’s historic characters.



"Bradian was first listed for sale in 2010, but has attracted minimal attention from investors.  The Listing real estate brokerage even produced a YouTube video marketing the property; unfortunately it obtained very little interest until a Chinese buyer purchased it for $945,000 before the end of 2014.

            Executive Vice President Ms. Huizhen Wang of Royal Pacific Realty who assisted China Zhong Ya Group Hebei Canada-China Co. in this real estate transaction revealed during an interview on January 12, 2015:  Bradian was difficult to sell not only because of the financial impact of the entire economy, also due to potential buyers’ consideration for future investment.  Because it involves construction of roads, water, electricity, sewer and other large infrastructure as well as commercial and residential project development, future capital investment is huge.  Buyers require courage in addition to financial strength.

            Bradian is located in the Bridge River Valley north of Whistler Ski Resort.  Gold mining started in the area in the mid-1800s.  When gold rush receded, the mines closed down, miners gradually moved away.  Originally a noisy gold mining town slowly became a deserted ‘ghost town’, now with 22 houses of barely acceptable condition.

Replication of Whistler
           
            According to Zhong Ya Group’s current planning of the Bradian development project named ‘Paradise City (Tian-Fu City)’, the historic features of the town will be retained while using Whistler’s successful model creating an one-stop smart resort for gold panning, jade picking, skiing, rafting, mountain sports, sight-seeing, vacationing and other recreational activities.

            The total project development area of 53 acres will include residential, commercial and green belt areas.  The first phase of the project will focus on infrastructure such as making applications to the government for land rezoning to build hotels, shopping malls and other commercial development; phase two and three will focus on retaining Bradian’s historic sites with its mountainous geographical advantages while integrating elements of Chinese customs of countryside development for leisure and recreation.

            The company is currently working to organize land surveyors, urban planners and related engineering and technical consultants to make further improvements on the government land use development program, and actively seeking for potential business partners.  The specific amount of capital investment and the time to start construction are still unknown.

            Michael Mills, a local developer responsible for the project said that after the completion of the real estate transaction, Bradian’s future attracted enormous attention.  The local government’s numerous questions about related development plans; the lingering nostalgia of some gold prospectors’ descendants of this little town; and the most ideal geographical location of being only 2 hours driving distance away from Whistler are all contributing factors for the development project’s optimistic outlook.  The immediate main task is to build infrastructure, to restore the vitality of the little town.  If the construction is smooth, trust British Columbia’s employment and economic development will be enhanced. "

LOGGING AT GUN LAKE

So...what do you think about Logging at Gun Lake.  Take the survey here   (Gun Lake property owners please)

This is the latest image of where they will be logging next week. They will have two contractors working as the one contractor has finished what they can do at the Plateau ponds area for now. The logs from CB G17 will go up around to Slim Creek FSR and the rest down Vandenburg hill. They have completed the harvesting on CB G4 and G12 and will be doing the clean up in the area and hauling logs from there starting Monday. The site plan for G17 can be seen at this link below. To see site plans for the other 2 blocks see the previous post below this one: http://www.brvca.ca/GunLakeLoggingCommunication/2015.03.14.AspenSitePlan713Blk17.pdf

All the meeting notes from the beginning of planning  and site plans can be viewed here: 
http://www.brvca.ca/GunLakeLoggingCommunication/ 

On Monday the log hauling will begin, with approximately 200 loads from the first cutblock. The committee of citizens from Gun Lake has been working with Aspen Planers and has developed a road safety plan.

Click Here: Road Safety Plan

Aspen's contractors and each driver has gone through this plan.  If you see a problem with a logging truck you need to report it to the RCMP in Lillooet.  I have had many discussions with the detachment and they along with Commercial Vehicle Inspector are aware that Road Safety, particularly on Rd. 40 and particularly as it relates to commercial vehicles is a large concern of this area.  If you don't report it they will have no idea there are issues.  



GOLD BRIDGE WATER SERVICE

This is a local service area service for Gold Bridge property owners.  It has been a troubled service with many issues including some caused by the Regional District.  Last year this service ran a deficit of about $225 and a very small capital reserve about $3,500.  So the financial health of this service is not good.  

In order to make this service sustainable (revenue in equal expenses plus build a reserve) the user fees were increased over the last couple of years and all of the tax revenue came from parcel tax.   We heard from many that they felt this parcel tax was an unfair way to generate revenue as it unfairly put the bulk of the revenue generation equally no matter what your property was assessed for.

So this year we are collecting basically the same revenue, except $18,799 will come from a tax requisition based on assessment, $5,000 based on parcel tax and $7890 based on user fees. 

Additionally I have contributed $5,000 from the new BC Hydro Payment In Lieu of taxes arrangement of funds coming directly to Area A to this service.  That will help build a reserve without having to increase user fees or tax requisition.  You can see it come in on line 43000 and transfer into reserve on line 5300.

Here is a link to the budget.   Link:  GoldBridge Water Service 2015 Budget

Please Gold Bridge property owners if you have input please let me know.


How to have your say with the Regional District?
From time to time you may want to have your say with the Regional District?  This could be a question, something you disagree with, something you don't understand etc.  This is normal and it is even normal to feel a little upset or mad sometimes.  So, how to have your say?

1. Regional District Director (me)
I am pretty used to people being concerned and upset, it sort of goes with the territory.
You can phone me (250)238-2248 or you can email me demare87@gmail.com. I know many of you have done this on various issues and I have tried to help even on things that are Provincial Government responsibilities (not Regional District).  I always take your point of view into consideration along everyone else that talks to me. I will follow up with you and with the Regional District to see what can be done.  Because it is sometimes difficult to judge what the majority wants, I will do a survey to see if others of you agree or not (did this on the dog issue recently and we did a big one on the Hurley, currently doing one on Bralorne TV).  

2. SLRD Board or Electoral Area Meetings
Citizens can appear as a delegation at Board and Electoral Area Meetings.  You get 10 minutes.  You can arrange to do this by phoning the office 1-800-298-7753.

In the past you actually had to appear in person.  I found this to be really impractical given so many of our property owners live elsewhere or live here, its tough to make a daytime meeting in Pemberton.  So I advocated for, and our board has recently changed the policy, so you can now appear by telephone as a delegation.  This provides increased accessibility for citizens to have a voice directly with their local government.

This year, also as a result of a policy I suggested and the board went along with, in June the SLRD Board will have their meeting here in Gold Bridge on June 24 (Wed.).  This is an opportunity to request delegation status and also to come and watch your local government in action.  The plan is also for the board to be doing a tour of Area B, Lillooet and our area and I will see if there can be any informal opportunity to meet and talk to the Board members.  Each year of the four year term, the Board will meet in June in a different Electoral Area, we are first up!

3. Correspond with the Regional District
Letters can always be sent to the Regional District Board of Directors.

4. Public Community Meetings or Townhalls
In the last three years we have had several different types of meetings that anyone can come to, the last one being last spring.  That meeting was an ask anything , put forward anything type of meeting with SLRD staff and myself to answer questions.   The hot issue that day was the Gold Bridge Water service.    We will do this again this year probably in the fall given the Board is here in June.

How NOT to have your say with the Regional District and their elected officials?



When individuals attempt to influence, threaten or force an elected official(s) by using any of the these bullying methods, the focus will be on the inappropriate and unacceptable bullying tactic rather than the often valid concerns and questions and issues laying underneath their anger. Let's encourage and support our friends and neighbors to choose the methods listed above on "how to have your say" rather than non productive bullying tactics.



Friday, March 6, 2015

Budgets, Dogs and Mines!!!



I'd like to welcome a new business to the community, Bralorne Adventure Lodge.


Check them out at:    http://bralorneadventurelodge.com/.   
  All the best to Blake, Chris and Darren in this new venture.

Taxes and Budgets 
Sorry for all the words below, however it is the only way to give you all this info.
The major revenue sources for regional district services include property taxes, parcel taxes and fees and charges.  In electoral areas, such as ours, regional district taxes are collected by the BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue.  Each year, the regional district submits tax requisitions for each service to the Ministry through the Inspector of Municipalities.  The Ministry applies a rate against assessed property values within each relevant service area to raise the revenue required.  Once collected, the revenues are paid to the regional district.

Your property tax notice will list a tax rate beside each of the listed services.  The amount owing is determined by multiplying the tax rate by the property's assessed value. The challenge comes in, I have found, in that they lump a whole bunch of the services in this area together on one line, and other services they show on a single line, so you really can't see exactly what you are paying for what.  This year, the SLRD is hoping to produce a newsletter that explains Area A's Tax breakdown in more detail.   I support this as it provides more transparency and accountability to the community. If you are left to try and understand the Regional District portion of your taxes from the Tax Bill, good luck.

When you do get your tax notice you will see that the vast majority of your taxes each year go to school taxes and then smaller portions to the provincial government for general services and an even smaller portion goes to the regional district. If you have any questions about your tax notice please call me and I'll walk you through the part of your taxes that relate to the Regional District.

We have a number of services in Area A.  Some of them tax everyone in the Valley for Area A services, such as the Transfer Station, Library, Museum, Economic Development, Cemetary, Haylmore Site, Amenity Preservation.  Some of them tax specific taxpayers in certain areas, Bralorne Sewer, Bralorne Water, Gold Bridge Water, Bralorne Street Lights, Gold Bridge Street Lights, Gun Lake Fire Protection, Bralorne Fire Department.  There are also some services that everyone in the Regional District (Britannia Beach to Pavilion Lake and everywhere in between) pay into such as General Government and Planning.  We also have some services that our area, Lillooet and Area B share such as the Lillooet Rescue Service and the Lillooet Landfill.

Each of these services are taxed and MUST be managed within their own little silo.  The regional district cannot by law, move money between services.  So each is like its own little business, and also by law, none of these services can run a deficit for any length of time.  So we must tax for what it costs to run them.  Additionally, the way and process that tax requisitions can be increased is strictly controlled by the Provincial Government by the Inspector of Municipalities.  The rules around how to increase tax requisitions would blow your mind and regional district's pretty much need one staff member who is an expert on all this stuff to navigate them.  However, the long and short of it is, the rules are for your protection as a taxpayer so that you can be assured that there is a process that goes along with each and every budget increase.

This year the total assessment for Area A is up by about 7.8%.  While many of the individual residential type property assessments have decreased the addition of a couple of large taxpayers such as the Boralex Run of the River project has made for the increase.  This is very unusual in BC this year as many many place have a decline in their total assessment base. (not good).

Some highlights of this year's budgeting are (if I don't mention something its because the tax requisition, parcel taxes or user fees are staying the same).

General Government and Planning - tax requisition will remain flat to last years.

Asset Amenity Preservation - is a new service, this will bring an increase

Gold Bridge Water - we have reversed the way we tax on this and are now generating most of the revenue via a tax requisition (based on assessment) and the user fee portion of the total revenue will drop.  I am going to provide more specific info on this in a future blog.

Bralorne Water - this service will see an increase in user rates this year.

Gold Bridge Transfer Station, Bralorne TV, 911 Service all have decreases in the tax requistion for that service.

Museum, Haylmore and Economic Development will see increases in the tax requisition.

Additionally with the new BC Hydro Payment In Lieu of taxes policy I negotiated and the board approved last year, I am committing $5,000 of those funds each to the Bralorne Sewer Service, the Bralorne Water Service and the Gold Bridge Water Service.  We are WAY BEHIND in accumulating reserves in these services to help pay for the big capital expenditures that will be required in the future.  This new allocation of PILT funds will help build reserves without taxing you!!!!  Bonus, I love it!!!     Information on this new arrangement can be found at:  Previous Post: New arrangement BC Hydro Payment In Lieu of Taxes.  This previous post also contains a link to all my other posts on this topic.  This fiscal year this arrangement will bring approximately an additional $33,000 under our direct control, this amount will increase over the next number of years to an additional yearly amount of approximately $200,000.  It will be used to apply to services, such as I am doing here, or for special projects, such as the Museum Move and Collection Management this year, or to other types of infrastructure needs.  It will not be used for the tradiitonal grant-in-aide type requests, as this is what the Area A Select Funds is primarily used for.

OK, that's way too much on this topic for now, hope your eyes didn't cross reading it:-)  I will post more information in the next few months.

Dogs
Previous Post on Dog Issues Scroll down to the bottom of the post.

We love our dogs, and our dogs are lucky to have a place like this to play and romp and trail run and and and.  The problem is that we are allowing our dogs to roam off our properties while not in our control, we are allowing our dogs to bark alot, we are allowing our dogs to attack other dogs.  I am very sorry to say I am continuing to receive complaints even in the Winter for pete's sakes.  I have received complaints from Gun Lake area and Bralorne area.

The vast majority of us, including me, do NOT want to bring in a dog bylaw.  PLEASE take the extra steps to keep your dog in your control at all times and as quiet as possible.  We struggle as many of you do to keep our dog on our property so we are not perfect either.  It is something to be aware of as the frequency of complaints on this issue is not decreasing!


Invasives Survey
The Lillooet and Regional Invasives Species Society is doing a very good job of serving our area.  Please see more about them at:    http://www.lriss.ca/   

Please take a minute to do this survey for them to better be able to serve us:   Survey


Bralorne Gold Mines on Care & Maintenance

The Bralorne Gold Mine has been on Care & Maintenance since before Christmas.  This link provides an update (bottom of the page) on why and what else is going on up there.

Bralorne Mine Update


The Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) and the Ministry of Environment (MOE)
have implemented a plan to ensure Bralorne Gold Mine (BGM) near Lillooet, B.C. is in
compliance with its permit conditions after another heavy rainfall in the first week of February.

Following a winter of repeated Pineapple Express type rainfall events where at times the water in the Bralorne Gold Mines tailing pond was gaining 4cm a day, the Ministry of Energy and Mines ordered a shut down of Bralorne Gold Mines near the end of 2014 until issues with the tailings pond could be addressed.  The Ministry tells me they have had a high presence at the mine site and have been monitoring the situation with the tailings pond closely. 
 Dam Safety inspection documents can be found at :  http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/topic.page?id=C8776E3707F34B8DA73A4AC703DF77F6.

The concern is of course, that an overflow could erode the dam and cause a complete collapse.

The chief inspector of mines ordered on February 13, 2015,  BGM to complete the following
actions:
Procure additional pumps as required to reduce the amount of water in its tailings
storage facility (TSF) and provide back-up pumping capacity.
Conduct a review of water balance and water-management procedures, including a
schematic of the mine’s pumps, applicable pipelines and flow volumes.
Provide daily reporting to MEM until the mine site is in full compliance. This reporting
shall include current freeboard, daily precipitation received on site, weather forecast,
pumping discharge rates and volumes as well as a predicted date when the required
freeboard will be restored.

MOE has approved BGM’s request for a by-pass authorization from Feb. 11 – March 31, 2015 to allow the mine to pump untreated water into Cadwallader Creek. Under the authorization, BGM must:
Notify the Interior Health Authority (IHA) regarding the discharge.
Keep a daily discharge record and provide a weekly report to Environmental Protection.
Submit a sampling plan prepared by a qualified professional by Feb. 16, 2015.
Immediately implement an interim sampling plan.
Undertake a human health and ecological risk assessment if water quality guidelines for
metal elements, including arsenic, are exceeded in Lower Cadwallader Creek.
IHA has determined, based on the dilution effect of the creek into Carpenter Lake, that these
elements pose no known health risks at this time. IHA will continue to monitor conditions and provide an update if required.

I have spoken to the Chief Mines Inspector who indicates the flow into the underground tunnels of water had increased exponentially to 20l/sec causing increased flow into the tailings pond.

The order, which requires continued pumping until March 31, 2015 and that a 1 metre freeboard must be maintained in the tailing pond.   The Bralorne Gold Mine has temporarily ceased operations And according to the Mines Inspector it is unlikely to reopen, at a minimum, until after this pumping period.

I am currently following up on the Environmental side of things related to the release into
Cadwallder Creek and will advise any findings on that side of things.
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