Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Updated Wildfire Threat Analysis and More

Updated Wildfire Threat Analysis

The BC Wildfire Service recently issued an update to the Provincial Strategic Threat Analysis (PSTA), a collection of datasets that are used together to identify interface areas that may be at risk of wildfire.
Local governments, First Nations, natural resource management agencies and resource-based industries use the datasets to prioritize community wildfire protection planning, and to guide mitigation of wildfire in areas identified to be at risk. The mapping layers include vegetation types, historical wildfire data, forest fuel classification, fire behaviour patterns, geography and other factors.
The PSTA 2015 Wildfire Threat Analysis presents these relative wildfire threats at a provincial scale only. In an area where a high risk is indicated, a qualified professional should confirm the actual rating at the forest stand level.Click here for the: 2015 Wildfire Threat Analysis and associated maps . If you have a look at this map closely, you will see areas in the upper Bridge River Valley range from high to extreme and many of these are in interface zones with residential areas.
The PSTA informs the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative (SWPI) and the government’s landscape fire management planning and fuel treatment programs. Fuel treatment is the process of modifying forest or rangeland fuels.
Since 2004, the SWPI has provided funding to local governments and First Nations for wildfire protection planning and fuel treatment. The SLRD has obtained funds to undertake a fuel mitigation project in and and around Gun Lake (see previous post)
While wildfire is a key process and component of ecosystems in British Columbia, the present wildfire situation in British Columbia presents challenges:
  • Continued growth of the wildland urban interface (WUI) and the expansion of infrastructure related to energy development (and other industries) on the forested landbase
  • Suppression of naturally occurring wildfires has contributed to unhealthy forest and range ecosystems and unnaturally high fuel loads
  • The effects of climate change are resulting in longer and more extreme fire seasons.

Terzaghi Dam Spill Notification
Thanks to BC Hydro for providing this information.  If you have been by on Rd. 40 downstream of Terzaghi Dam you will notice the release.   Please be careful, the river is now moving quite quickly and in one spot only metres below the road bed.   Note below on the chart that the release will almost double in volume in future periods and then gradually decrease again. 

BC Hydro definition of a Spill Release condition:
- Occurs when water is released in a controlled manner from the reservoir ("spilled") through a dam's spillway or other outlets to reduce the rate of rise inflow and water level. In so doing, the flows along the Bridge River system are expected to change.
- Considered routine operations for BC Hydro to manage reservoir levels and not an emergency event for BC Hydro.
- No flooding is anticipated but rivers may be flowing up to the tops of banks.



























South Chilcotin Mountain Park Management Plan Process continues
A revised draft management plan will be released for additional public comment in the future. 

For additional information on the management planning process, please visit the BC Parks website at http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/planning/  On this webpage, there is an RSS feed mechanism that allows users to sign up for messages regarding management planning stages.  A notice for the next stage of public input into the South Chilcotin Mountains Park will be sent out via the RSS feed mechanism upon release of the draft plan for public input. 

HIGHLINE RD. TRAVELLERS, keep an eye on this
SLRD ENGAGED IN RESPONSE PLANNING FOR ELEVATED FLOOD RISK ON ANDERSON LAKE DUE TO SPRING FRESHET




MacGillivray Pass Trail Exploratory Process

The MacGillivray Pass Trail was original constructed between 1885 and 1945 as a public highway and maintained by public expenditures.


Parts of the original road are passable now, with other parts grown over and otherwise obstructed. The original route is clearly visible.

I initiated a process aimed at addresings issues/conflicts and establishing a process/plan to revitalize this legally gazetted trail.  ,Along with the Electoral Areas  B and C we each are contributing $2,000 from our respective Select Funds (total $6,000) for initial staff time to provide support/research into the proposed plan to restore the McGillivray Pass Trail as well as potentially hire a contractor/facilitate a meeting and provide an outcomes report regarding same.

My report to the Board is here and has some good info re the trail::
https://slrd.civicweb.net/FileStorage/5ED866DE52A34DFEB2FDA996A1B2BA01-DRMcGillivray%20Pass%202016Optimized_DemareMack.pdf

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Indigenous People and the upper Bridge River Valley

Indigenous People and the upper Bridge River Valley

I want to share this information so that the people that live and own property in the upper Bridge River Valley understand the current context of territorial claims and processes underway that potentially could impact our area.  

St'├ít'imc 

The St'at'imc consider the upper Bridge River Valley to be part of their territory.   The St'at'imc are not involved in the treaty process and to date, are not involved in any legal proceedings regarding their territory.

You can find more basic information on the St'at'imc at www.statimc.net.














In January, the SLRD and the St'at'imc had a community to community forum. You can see the report and follow up actions of the board at: https://slrd.civicweb.net/FileStorage/032F785EF15C4469978899E58D8025BC-C2C%20Forum%20Relationship-building%20-%20RFD.pdf

In mid-March I also attending a facilitated workshop that had considerable and elected St'at'imc representation as well as many community groups including our Bridge River Valley Community Association.  When I have the report on that I will share it with you all.

I have found both these forums very educational as we learnt the history of the St'at'imc from their perspective.  When you view the facts from their vantage, you are able to more deeply understand where we find ourselves today.  The harder question is how to move from here.  Both forums were good opportunities to ask questions and explore common issues and concerns.  

Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw (NStQ),           

These communities are in the Treaty Process and are in the process of voting on an agreement in principle.   If it is approved, they will then move forward to negotiate the final details of the treaty.   You can find out more basic information about the NStQ at:  http://northernshuswaptribalcouncil.com/

Here is the Statement of Intent map for their treaty negotiations.

If you look carefully at the southern end of this map, you will see that it takes in signficant areas that overlap with Area A and Area B of the SLRD and of the St'at'imc identified territory.

Tsilhqot'in and the Nenqay Deni Accord

On June 26, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered a historic judgment in the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s Aboriginal title case. All 8 judges agreed with this decision. Aboriginal title declared – for the first time in Canada.

On February 11, 2016, the B.C. Government and the Tsilhqot’in Nation signed a five-year framework agreement (attached) that establishes a shared vision, principles and structures to negotiate a comprehensive and lasting reconciliation between the Nation and the Province. This agreement, named the Nenqay Deni Accord (or the “People’s Accord”), outlines 8 pillars of reconciliation to be negotiated in a holistic manner, including: 1) Tsilhqot’in Governance 2) Strong Tsilhqot’in Culture and Language 3) Healthy Children and Families 4) Healthy Communities 5) Justice 6) Education and Training 7) Tsilhqot’in Management Role for Lands and Resources in Tsilhqot’in Territory 8) Sustainable Economic Base

This is a very new and unique type of negotiation—a first of its kind in Canada. It is not a treaty, although it vaguely resembles one. The Nenqay Deni Accord (hereinafter “The Accord”, attached) is a framework for continued/ongoing – 2 – negotiation with the ‘bigger-picture’ being an outcome of ‘reconciliation’ whereby the Tsilhqot’in are redressed for all past grievances effected by the Government of British Columbia. The Accord will likely set a precedent for reconciliation with the Indigenous people

Of interest, is the map taken from the Nenqay Deni Accord.  Note that this territory is much much larger than the area the Tsilhqo'in Nation was awarded aborginal title to in the court decision.  You will also see some significant overlap with the NStQ Statement of Intent Treaty Map above.


Again, take a look at the southern end of the outlined Territory.  Portions of Area A and Area B and St'at'imc territory included in this map taken from the Nenqay Deni Accord.  

You can read "what this means"  at the SLRD staff report (it is short and clear) and the accord itself here:  https://slrd.civicweb.net/FileStorage/058B8AAA379C45C19994528D5B3F739D-Nenqay_Deni_Accord_03092016-IR.pdf

I would note that the SLRD, local government was not made aware or so far consulted on either the NStQ treaty negotiation or the Nenqay Deni Accord or the territory it maps out.   I want to assure you all that we are monitoring and asking questions.  I will keep you as informed as I can.




Monday, March 7, 2016

Budgets and Taxes

2016 Budgets for Area A

Links to budgets:
The Area A specific budgets are at this link:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz8bmBXIlkCOQ2pDVlRiN0pfR3M/view?usp=sharing
These are the services that only Area A property owners pay into or a part of Area A property owners pay into. (i.e. Bralorne Sewer is only 103 connections in the two townsites).

The entire SLRD financial plan is at this link.http://www.slrd.bc.ca/inside-slrd/notices/other-notices/draft-2016-2020-financial-plan-invitation-public-consultation   Please note this includes all services for all areas, services that combine one or more areas (called shared services) and the services that everyone pays into (General Government, Planning & Solid Waste Management).

How it all works - budgets and taxes:
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, for the second year, the SLRD will include a notice in your taxes 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.


Highlights Budgets and Taxes - 2016This year the total assessment for Area A is up by about 4%.  
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):
  • the 911 service (shared) tax requisition will DECREASE (yes go down!) by almost half
  • for the first time in 4 years the Library tax requisition will go up just over $1,000. Special thanks to Jean Shaw, Betty Weaver (overall system librarian) and Regan Dixon (Area A Library Trustee) for doing such a great job with our library.  We are also going to try to find ways to assist them with small capital using funds generated by the solar grid tied system on the roof.  We do not tax requisition for the building they are in, it self generates revenue (tenants).
  • Bralorne water, Bralorne sewer and Gold Bridge water services, although I have worked to gradually increase the revenue in these services are still far from collecting enough to put away a healthy capital reserve.  You can expect to see these services to have small increases every year in tax requisitions, user fees and so on.  To help build those reserves, I have recommended to the Board that $6,500, $3,500, $5,000 respectively be committed to each of these services from the re-allocated PILT funds.
  • Lillooet Rescue Service is shared between Area A, B and Lillooet.  This year the tax requisition will increase by about $8,000.  Area B director, Mayor Lampman and myself are going to meet with this society this year to review in detail their operations and their future plans.
  • The services that everyone in the SLRD pays into General Government has no increase , while the planning service has a very small increase in tax requisition.
Everything else is pretty much the same.

If you have any questions or comments please email me or give me a call in the next week.


Recognizing Russ Oakley - Area A Director for 15 years
Russ Oakley is the type of person I want to highlight as an example of the people who live in our area. Hard working, resilient, determined and honest. You may not always agree with an elected official, however you cannot deny their service and character. Thank you Russ for your service to our community.


The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District Board has supported my efforts to recognize the service of Russ Oakley both to our community and the entire Regional District.


Simon vs. the United States
On July 30, 2015, Bruce Simon, Bralorne Resident and business owner of Sally's Pub and The Mines Motel was arrested for transporting marijuana and MDMA into the United States.  Bruce was indicted on August 26 and denied bail.

Bruce initially pled non-guilty. However he changed his plea to guilty on November 3, 2015.

On February 19, 2016, Bruce was sentenced to 4-1/2 years in prison.

Sally's Pub and The Mines Motel is currently for sale.  Sally's Pub is closed.  The Mines Motel remains open.

I have included some key COURT documents from Washington State in roughly chronological order. They are not difficult to read or understand.


Complaint:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz8bmBXIlkCOY0JJNlAtVnhYeFE/view?usp=sharing


Indictment:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz8bmBXIlkCOcmhjU25tRUtlT2s/view?usp=sharing



Defendant's Memorandum at Bail Hearing - includes support letters  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz8bmBXIlkCOODhFUWo5Q2RtQlU/view?usp=sharing

Plea Agreement:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz8bmBXIlkCOeERWdGlPWXRBcXc/view?usp=sharing

United States sentencing document:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz8bmBXIlkCOSnlmaXVMb1h5Nmc/view?usp=sharing


Defendent sentencing document:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz8bmBXIlkCOYUF6VmUtclRZX0k/view?usp=sharing

Defendent sentencing Support documents (letters of support from Bralorne community members, friends and family) :  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz8bmBXIlkCOUFYyNUlWWmVWSDg/view?usp=sharing


Bralorne Sewer
If you missed all the hullabaloo about the funding announcement for the Bralorne Sewer you can find it here:  http://www.debbiedemare.com/2016/02/cue-happy-dance-bralorne-sewer-system.html.  Sewers are a local government responsibility (i.e. SLRD).  I have had some folks wonder why improvements in the roads were not funded. Roads are a provincial responsibility - the person you need to bug about the roads is Jackie Tegart your MLA. ( http://jackietegartmla.ca/contact/)  BELIEVE ME :-) if I, as your local government rep had any control over funding/budgets going to roads, there would be improvements in both maintenance, safety & infrastructure improvements of our two access routes - Road 40 & the Hurley River FSR.  Report after report, person after person indicates our road access hampers our ability to sustain ourselves as a community.

I digress.  The SLRD staff have also send out an information letter to residents of Bralorne and everyone that receives mail here in the Valley..  If you did not receive it, you can read it here:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz8bmBXIlkCOam53eE1DeVJqYm8/view?usp=sharing

A lot of work goes into communicating about big news.  Here is what our staff did at the SLRD on our behalf:
*         Press release sent out on Friday 12 Feb, after the announcement
*         Facebook and twitter posts announcing grant and linking to our news release. (That reached 3216 people, inspired 412 clicks, and 96 likes, comments and shares as of February 19)
*         Mail sent to residents (attached letter)
o   132 copies of letter sent as unaddressed mail to Gold Bridge PO
o   75 copies sent via direct mail today to property owners who, according to BC Assessment Roll, had mailing address outside Bralorne

This is such positive news for the future of Bralorne, I want to express my thanks and highlight  our SLRD Communications and Utilities staff.  They do a great job for our rural community!


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