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.”

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

ROAD 40

I hope everyone has had a wonderful summer in the Bridge River Valley.    Not as hot and dry as the last couple of years however the up side was a lowered wildfire risk and lots more green growth on everything in the area.


One of our favorite topics:  Road 40


Road 40 is a very beautiful road to drive on.    It winds through canyons and along the Bridge River Valley until it opens up to the amazing and spectacular views of the upper Bridge River Valley.  On any given day you can see bears, mountain sheep, eagles, wolves, deer and other wildlife.  Road 40 ends in one of the hidden gems of BC, the upper Bridge River Valley.  The place where the Coast Mountain Range, the Cascades Mountain Range and the South Chilcotin Mountain ranges all come together to take your breath away in 360 degree beauty.


I want to thank all of our residents and visitor's who wrote letters this summer to the Ministry of Transportation about the maintenance and infrastructure issues. There is also a petition circulating which at last count had 300 signatures.  You have done a wonderful job of drawing attention to both the inappropriate maintenance levels and the infrastructure issues (the piece of pavement we all know needs to be replaced).



MLA Tegart came out to visit our community on August 20 and 21.  She met with businesses, community groups and individuals from the community.  A theme through those meetings was the maintenance and infrastructure needs of Road 40.  


MLA Tegart has committed to hold a stakeholder’s meeting in Lillooet regarding Road 40 specifically as this road is essential to the communities in the Bridge River Valley (Goldbridge, Bralorne and neighbourhoods of Marshall Lake, Tyaughton Lake, and Gun Lake) for emergency services, daily access and also to facilitate economic development. Road 40 provides year round access to the Bridge River Valley communities, via Lillooet, and community members would like to see safety and structural improvements to it; as well as a higher standard of maintenance.

The purpose of the meeting would be:

1.             To determine what short and long range capital plans currently exist for Road 40, and to determine whether those plans address the concerns, and meet the needs, of the Bridge River Valley; and
2.             To determine what standard of maintenance is set out in the current maintenance agreement, and to determine whether that standard of maintenance is being met, and whether it addresses the concerns, and meet the needs, of the Bridge River Valley;
3.             If Bridge River Valley concerns and needs are not met in the existing capital plans and/or maintenance agreement; to explore options and agree on next steps to work on having changes made to capital plans and maintenance standards to meet the needs of the residents, workers and visitors using Road 40.     


Draft list of Stakeholders to be invited:
SLRD Representatives as determined by SLRD (Debbie Demare and Mic Macri)
District of Lillooet as determined by DOL (Mayor Lampman)
MOTI as determined by MOTI (likely Todd Hubner and Brad Bushill and geotechnical engineers)
BC Hydro
MLA Jackie Tegart and Lori Pilon
Deanne Zeidler
Bridge River Valley Stakeholder (I have suggested Scott Holden)
Yalakom Valley Stakeholder (Tobey Mueller)
Bridge River First Nations representative
FLNRO 

I will keep everyone updated as I believe MLA Tegart's office plans to as well.

Want to extend a special thanks to Tom Illidge, for being the canary in the coal mine and shouting loud and clear re the condition of Rd. 40 in June and July.  Thanks also to Sylvia Surette for her hard work on the petition.    We encourage everyone to email Jackie at Jackie.Tegart.MLA@leg.bc.ca or call her office,  (250) 453-9726. (You can copy me) if you see or experience a problem with Road 40.  This way she has some sense of what is going on.

And while we are on the topic (smile), the Ministry of Transportation would like us to fill out a "customer satisfaction survey".  I encourage you to fill this out:  http://fluidsurveys.com/s/tranbc/css-2016/.

Our other favorite topic:  The Hurley

One of my pet peeves, and brought to my attention by Norm Verner, our Area A Alternate, is the signage at the corner of the Lillooet River FSR and Pemberton Meadows Rd.

We have been successful in getting one sign replaced and another sign removed.

I carry on.....could you please take the survey at the latest isurvivedthehurley.com post:  http://isurvivedthehurley.com/?p=1937   What you say will hopefully provide ammunition for a change or moving of this particular sign.

Hey and don't forget isurvivedthehurley.com is a user maintained website, so you need to send the volunteer webmaster your photos/stories related to the road, info@bridgerivervalley.ca.



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