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LOCAL, B.C., and CANADA GOVERNMENT SPENDING

COMMENT FORM

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This web page was last updated January 26, 2015

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Here you will find some articles from the local Okanagan newspapers regarding Government spending.  You can comment on "Government Spending" using the comment form below and your comment will be posted to the internet here.

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Wages concern Spiers
Vernon Morning Star - By Richard Rolke - June 26, 2010

Residents can attend an input session at Vernon city hall Monday at 5 p.m. about the city’s 2009 annual report.
morning star file photo

A Vernon politician is urging taxpayers to speak out on what he sees as soaring wages at city hall.

A public input session on the city’s 2009 annual report will be held Monday at 5 p.m. in council chambers. It includes remuneration paid out to members of council as well as staff.

“I’m hoping people will read the report and give their input on the future of the city,” said Coun. Bob Spiers.

According to the report, $18.8 million was directed towards earnings, expenses and allowances for employees in 2009. Of that, there were 63 that took home more than $75,000 in earnings.

The gross number of employees in 2009 was 299, compared to 267 in 2008 and 241 in 2007. The net cost of salaries, wages and benefits was $15.6 million in 2008.

There were 41 employees who earned more than $75,000 a year in 2008.

Spiers says the increase in employees has far outpaced population growth in the community.

“It’s like a straight line to the sky,” he said.

“Seventy-eight per cent of the net taxes are going to salaries whereas it was 60 per cent in 2005.”

Spiers continues to push for a core service review, saying it would determine if there is a better way of providing services to residents of Vernon.

“Our workforce has to be examined. It’s our biggest expenditure,” he said.

“The only way you can sustain something is to have revenue coming in and the main source of revenue is taxes.”

The City of Vernon’s 2009 annual report is available at www.vernon.ca.

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CORD granted funds to fight West Nile virus
Kelowna Capital News - By Alistair Waters - May 21, 2010

The province has cut the number of areas it funds to fight West Nile virus.

And while the Central and South Okanagan areas remain on the list, the north Okanagan has been dropped.

According to Central Okanagan Regional District spokesman Bruce Smith, CORD has received $274,500 to fight the virus, an amount that includes an additional $45,000 so CORD can monitor and treat areas on the Westbank First Nation land.

In addition to the Central Okanagan and Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Districts, the Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver were kept on the funding list for this year.

The change was made because the province says it wants to concentrate on the areas deemed to be at highest risk from West Nile virus, a disease that is carried by mosquitoes and can be transferred to humans.

Last year, the provinces first two cases of the virus found in humans were detected in the South Okanagan.

Smith said locally there are 10,000 catch basins used to check and treat for West Nile virus in mosquitoes, most of which are located in Kelowna. Others are in Peachland, Lake Country, West Kelowna and the two electoral areas of the regional district.

Now there will be one set up on WFN land as well, he added.

In the Central Okanagan, the regional district operates the mosquito control program on behalf of its member municipalities ad the WFN.

Concerns have been raised by representatives in the North Okanagan about leaving that area off the funding list as mosquitoes know no boundaries when it comes to their movement. They argue a valley-wide approach is needed and one-third of the valley should not be left out.

While the Central Okanagan and Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Districts deal with West Nile virus measures differently—regional district staff and summer students are used here and a contractor is used down south—Smith said the two regional districts do share in an advertising campaign to raise awareness among private property owners in both areas.

The provincial funding pays for mosquito control only on public land.

Last year, Smith said, funding extending that to Crown land in the area was cut.

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Interior Provincial Exhibition (IPE) gets $273,000 for improvements

"It would take us several years of good fairs and rainy day funds to come up with money like that," said Burns.

Interior Provincial Exhibition (IPE) Armstrong BC gets $273,000 for improvements

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There is no link for this information below because it was sent by email

Another spectacular town hall last night - in White Rock!

Over 800 people packed the Star of the Sea Hall and signed the petition to defeat the HST! Patricia Enair and her team were totally organized and able to handle the massive crowd that lined up for two city blocks to sign the petition!

Several people in the audience asked about a Vancouver Sun column that is trying to portray our efforts as a waste of time (surprise, surprise).

Below is an Letter to the Editor that we sent to the Sun refuting their bogus claims. The only good thing one can say about such dissembling is they must be getting very worried! Keep up the great work folks - we are going to do it!

Bill
------------------------------------

Dear Editor,

Regarding Vaughn Palmer's column concerning the legality of the Fight HST Citizen Initiative.

Mr. Palmer suggests that our initiative to recind the HST in BC will be off side with federal legislation, and therefore can't work. He is only half right.

Our "HST Extinguishment Act" will recind the Comprehensive Integrated Tax Coordination Agreement (CITCA) that BC signed with Ottawa. That means the HST legislation passed by Ottawa will be effectively voided, since the CITCA agreement requires the valid authority of British Columbia to stand in both BC and Ottawa. Once that authority is recinded by BC, the agreement is no longer valid, and the federal government would not be able to legally collect a "harmonized" sales tax in BC anymore. In other words, it would no longer be a "harmonized" sales tax collected with provincial agreement, it would only be a federal tax.

Of course, if the federal government wished to continue to collect a 100% federal sales tax at a rate of 12% in BC, they would have to deal with the political fall out of such a decision, which would likely result in the loss of not only the government in the next election, but likely the loss of their party for another two decades, as happended the last time they tried a tax like this (remember the GST?). But the Prime Minister has said repeatedly the decision to Harmonize is a provincial one only, and they will not impose an HST where it isn't wanted - so its a moot point anyway.

Further, the HST may already be unconstitutional and illegal as it clearly contravenes Section 92 of the Canadian Constitution which assigns direct taxing authority for provincial purposes to the provincial Legislatures only. It may also contravene the federal Excise Tax Act, which forbids the unequal application of a federal tax within the provinces. In other words, you can't have different percentages for a federal tax in each province. They must be the same. The HST already violates this principle, and it would be even more offside with an exclusively, "unharmonized" 12% federal tax in BC and a 5% rate in Alberta.

The federal law creating an HST in BC is subject to authorization by the Province in the CITCA agreement. If that agreement is recinded by BC, which is what our Act does, then the federal law implementing the tax in BC is null and void.

It seems clear that Mr. Palmer is only trying to scare canvassers from going out and getting the signatures, and that is contrary to everything our democracy stands for.

Bill Vander Zalm
Fight HST Leader

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HST weighs on B.C. Liberals
Kelowna Daily Courier Staff - 2009-12-17

A recent poll conducted by Innovative Research Group for the Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association shows the B.C. Liberal party support is collapsing under the weight of the proposed harmonized sales tax.

The poll, conducted Nov. 14 to 19, shows the NDP leading with 25 per cent approval, with the B.C. Liberals at 22 per cent. The B.C. Conservative Party has 14 per cent support.

The poll also showed a majority or 54 per cent of British Columbians believe B.C. is on the wrong track.

Wayne McGrath said the poll is much more reflective of what he is hearing on the street from ordinary British Columbians.

“This is exciting news,” said the B.C. Conservative Party president, who makes his home in Vernon.

“If an election were held today, there would be a minority government in B.C. with the B.C. Conservatives holding the balance of power. We would be able to hold the government to account and help kill the HST,” McGrath said.

“Many people in B.C. have had enough of the Liberals, but fear the emergence of the NDP. With a strong B.C. Conservative Party as an alternative, we would be able to stop the NDP from getting a majority. Without a strong third party like us, Liberal voters will stay home and the NDP would get a majority. The B.C. Conservatives are not prepared to let this happen,” said McGrath.

Voter disenchantment is widespread and deep, according to McGrath, beyond just the introduction of an unpopular tax to a myriad of issues that affect British Columbians. He gets the sense that more and more people think they are being dictated to rather than served by their provincial government.

The party will hold a policy development convention in May, followed by a leadership convention to elect a new leader in the fall.

 

 

An example of money wasted:

The BC Scrap It Program offers qualifying vehicle owners incentives to scrap their older vehicle. The incentive values are based on the greenhouse gas reduction that occurs when an old vehicle is scrapped and an incentive is used as a replacement.

Incentives valued at $2,000 or more are offered for the incentives with the highest greenhouse benefit. These incentives include very low emission vehicles, transit passes, or the transit pass / bicycle combination.

The Central Okanagan Regional Board has authorized the allocation of transit passes as an incentive option for participants in the BC Scrap-it program. Up to 150-three year passes for the Kelowna Regional Transit System (Regional District of Central Okanagan Board Meeting– November 24, 2008) would be available. The new province-wide Scrap-it program is co-funded by the Provincial Government and the BC Scrap-it Society and replaces the local Cash for Clunkers program, which provides incentives when owners of older high emission vehicles permanently take them off the road in exchange for more environmentally friendly modes of transportation. The Society will pay half the value of the transit passes provided to program participants that choose this option.

 

Option 3: TransLink Monthly Passes and Bicycle / Electric
Bicycle Combination

Scrap your qualifying vehicle with the Scrap-It program and receive one of the following TransLink monthly pass incentives:

12 months one zone
9 months two zone
6 months three zone
18 months concession

AND

Your choice of one of the following:

$1,200 toward the purchase of a new bicycle, or
$1,300 toward the purchase of an electric bicycle

http://www.scrapit.ca/incentive_choices.htm



NOTE* Transit passes are $53.00 per month for an adult ... so $53 over 3 years an adult transit pass is worth $1,908.00
http://www.bctransit.com/regions/kel/fares/

so 150 transit passes worth $1,908 = $286,200

They are only going to help 150 people out of how many people who live in Kelowna?  $286,200 or even half that, would have helped buy a few carpooler vans for Westside Roaders or other rural areas who maybe want to chip in and help pay for the vehicle to share to and from work rather than paying fuel and wear and tear on their own vehicles.  It is a 45 minute drive for some and carpooling would have made a bigger difference and would have helped more people.  Maybe a special insurance system could be worked out by ICBC for vehicles with say RDCO as the owner but the actual drivers have the responsibility.  Maybe just drivers with their own insurance on their own vehicle would be permitted to drive and this persons own insurance would cover damage to RDCO's vehicles if there were an accident? Maybe people without vehicles and insurance could tag along for the ride?  Maybe the person driving pays less and the person without insurance pays more?

The cost of sharing a car from Zip Car Co-operative Auto Network in Vancouver.

This note below was posted on the Scrap It Programs website Jan 17, 2009:

 

Due to the high level of public interest in the Scrap it program we are experiencing unprecedented call volumes. We apologize for any delays in our service levels. We ask for your patience and understanding as we work hard to expand the program across the province.

 

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Regional District of Central Okanagan Regional Board Minutes Nov 24, 2008
(from page 9)
i) Approval of Transit Passes for new BC Scrap-It Program (All Directors - Unweighted Vote)
#283/08 REID/BAKER
That the Regional Board authorize the Transportation Manager to allocate up to 150 three-year transit passes over a three-year period, to participate in the new vehicle scrappage program co-funded by the Province of BC and delivered by the BC Scrap-It Society.
CARRIED

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Westside councillor told to step down
By Jason Luciw - Kelowna Capital News - Published: October 10, 2008

Rookie Westside Coun. Heather Pilling has been forced to resign from office for releasing confidential information to the media.

She told the Capital News that it wasn’t her intention to leave office early, although she was not planning to seek reelection this year for personal reasons.

Meanwhile, Pilling wouldn’t repeat the information that landed her in hot water.

According to a radio station, however, Pilling said that council had approved a 16.4 per cent wage increases, plus 22 per cent benefit improvements for management staff who had been with the district anywhere between three weeks and nine months.

The decision was made at a Sept. 30 in-camera meeting, she said.

According to B.C.’s community charter, a councillor must keep confidential any information discussed during an in-camera meeting until such time as council passes a motion to make the information public.

The district referred all media comments to Westside Mayor Rosalind Neis, who could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

 

Note from okanaganlakebc.ca
Isn't that nice that council voted pay raises of 16.4% and 22%.  To top it off this councillor is being kicked out for letting out councils secret of this pay raise before it was to be released to the public.  There should never be secrets.... what for???  Eventually the information will come out, so why can't everyone be told when it happens?  Ludicrous!  I am really upset at the older generation who permitted such an undemocratic government to develop like it has with secrets and in camera sessions.  There are such high wages paid to staff.  Should there be such a wage gap between the members of the board and staff like that?  Do you feel staff are overpaid in some instances?

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About the roundabout
Vernon Morning Star - Letters - Published: September 25, 2008

Mr. Frank Campbell’s letter has inspired me to write this letter so that his question can be answered: How many accidents have happened at the intersection of 32nd and PV Rd.

In mid-July, I asked the ICBC Statistics Department if they could please advise me how many accidents they had on record that have occurred at that intersection. The answer came back a few days later that “Fewer than 10 in the last five years." I phoned Patrick Nicol and gave him the information, but I believe by then the decision was made to go ahead no matter what.

Now, my question is this. Who on the nebulous “city staff” came up with the idea that there was some inherent and immediate danger traveling through that intersection?

What kind of information was imparted to council to convince them to consider such an undertaking? I, along with how many others who live in the area and who have traveled through there, can hardly believe that after all the public outcry and inconvenience being perpetrated on the adjacent properties how the city council has the audacity to go through with their plan to construct a roundabout. Someone around there must be benefiting from it because no one else seems to have a problem with it.

If this is an example of what our “staff” does, I’d like to suggest they don’t have enough work to do if they have to create this kind of upheaval in the community.

I, as a taxpayer, believe the city council owes the public a clear explanation as to the particular reasons they insist on going against public opinion.

My understanding about the way government works is that the councillors are “hired” by us taxpayers to represent our interests. It is our tax dollars being wasted on building this unnecessary disruption to the lives of many, and I believe we have a right to an absolutely clear reason for their going ahead with this after so much opposition. If not, well – this should be remembered when the next election comes along.

Linda Bricker

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Terrible transition
Vernon Morning Star - Letters - Published: September 02, 2008

We see a world in turmoil and disintegration as greed, corruption and denial dominate our political, corporate, economic and financial leaders.

This institutional rot permeates every facet and level of our society.

There seems to be no corrective solutions allowed to be put forward by a still sane and aware minority of people.

The mass media, dominated by a handful of profit and power-oriented moguls, has effectively blocked public awareness on crucial issues.

The common people of our country have virtually no ability to decide the course of their lives.

Traitorous, ignorant, out-of-touch political leaders sell off our common inheritance as if it was just another market product.

Our very lives are being put at risk as our ability to provide even the most basic necessities of nutritious food and adequate shelter is being made more impossible by the day. Tyranny is overshadowing our lives.

Through all of this, people are slowly awakening to this nightmare.

The inevitable chaotic scenario that seems imminent is frightening to contemplate, as the wealthy will fight to protect its privileges from a deprived, marginalized mass of people.

Eventually, we must pass from this madness.

But I think the transition will be terrible. I envision much violence, irreversible damage and no certainty of a desirable outcome.

Don Nordin

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PREMIER STANCE
July 4, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

Let's have a look at how our Premier and his government are using our hard earned tax dollars wisely.

The new bridge at Golden is indead a wonderful example of architecture and without a doubt was sadly needed. When the construction company was ready to re-route the traffic over half the bridge, they were told by the government that the premier couldn't get there for the opening and that he was to be the first to go over the bridge even though hundreds of workers went back and forth on the bridge every day. As a result of this edict, the construction company had to build temporary roadways to the approximate value of half a million dollars to skirt around the bridge until the premier could grace them with his presence.

Total waste of our money and then we had to pay for the premier's entourage to fly in by helicopter, drive over the bridge and then have a lavish picnic and party on the lookout all at our expense. This could have all been prevented by having the mayor of Golden and his wife do the opening and buy them a nice supper at a tiny fraction of the price.

To rub salt in the wound, the premier flew all the way back out to Golden, again at our expense to receive a check from the prime minister, who was also travelling at our expense. This could have been remedied by either mailing the check for approximately 60 cents or transferring it by computer for absolutely nothing. The bridge is wonderful but you didn't see either of these "leaders" risk their lives by actually driving in the deathtrap they call the Roger's Pass.

Next the premier was off to Prince George to open the new wing of the hospital. Before he arrived the hospital was told to move all of the sick people out of the hallways and hide them so when the premier arrives to have his pictures taken, it wouldn't look so bad when he told everybody what a wonderful job he and his government are doing for health care.

Would have been a lot cheaper to have the mayor of Prince George officiate and once again we could pay for dinner for him and his wife.

I don't know the mayors of Golden or Prince George and I appoligize if they are members of the female persuasion.

Now let's toddle off to Kelowna where the premier and his entourage opened the Kelowna bridge. I believe the highways minister Kevin Falcon stated,and I hope I have the words right, "if that bridge isn't open by May 25, 2008 I will jump off it". When it was obvious the bridge wouldn't be open by May 25, the government told the construction outfit that they would pay double time, on top of the bid price to build the bridge, to have it open on time. As of May 31, it was only partially open southbound, even after adding on who knows how many hundreds of thousands of our dollars to prevent the highways minister from having to jump in the lake.

Well Mr. Premier, you wasted a whole bunch more of our money trying to push this through and it still didn't work so will you let the citizens of B.C. know when Kevin Falcon is going to launch into the lake. And I think he should travel to Kelowna at his own expense and have to drive over the Coquihalla Highway. Maybe after he breaks a rim in one of the potholes on the Jokeahalla he might be able to scrounge some pavement off the super highway to Whistler you are building for people to come play in the snow for 2 weeks in 2010, and fill in some of the holes.

I shudder to think what it cost for the premier and his minions to come to Kelowna to open a bridge that wasn't ready to be open. The Mayor of Westbank and Kelowna could have met in the middle of the bridge, shook hands and they likely wouldn't have charged anything. To hear the premier boast about what a good job his government did in building this bridge rubs me the wrong way. He had nothing to do with it as we, the residents of the Okanagan are paying for it through a special fuel tax levy.

As for the naming of the bridge, we should have had a say in that. To name it after a former premier who collected a very good wage for doing what he was hired for and since retirement has been collecting an over inflated pension as all mp's do is totally ridiculous. There is already a monument constructed to Bill Bennett. Every time we travel the Coquihalla we are reminded of it when we pay a toll. Name the Toll Booth after him and name the bridge after a real hero like Rick Hanson.

Now we can see how the premier and his ministers have a total disregard and lack of responsibility when dipping into the publec coffers. All this money he spends is for his own benefit as he flits about the province getting his mug in all the papers. Don't forget when the mayor of Vernon used public money for his own use, he went to jail. How does this guy get away with it and is it any different.

Dave Jones

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By the numbers
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - June 17, 2008

It's that time of the year when all municipalities and regional districts are mandated to publish annual reports. Unless you are a bean counter, the documents are pretty dry reading.

But deep within these reports is some information that should make everyone take notice, and that is the schedule of remuneration for both elected officials and civic employees. It allows you to see exactly what bureaucrats are being paid, and how much politicians are pocketing while representing your interests.

But perhaps the most interesting aspect is to look at jurisdictions and to see how neighbours compare.

Here are some of the highlights of the 2007 annual reports:

n The City of Vernon paid out $13.8 million in wages, $56,850 in allowances and $153,941 in expenses to 248 full and 50 part-time employees, while the North Okanagan Regional District had $4.9 million in wages and $173,446 in expenses for 86 full and 304 part-time staff.

n Vernon had two employees make more than $100,000, while NORD had six (including severance for former administrator Barry Gagnon).

It should be pointed out that Coldstream — which is significantly smaller than Vernon and NORD — had two staff that earned more than $100,000 in 2007.

n In Vernon, chief administrative officer Leon Gous had a salary of $124,368, allowances of $4,528 and expenses of $8,119, for a total of $137,015. Over at NORD, administrator Brian Reardon had a salary of $153,681 and expenses of $11,141, for a total of $164,822.

n Wayne Lippert, mayor of Vernon's 35,944 people, wracked up $3,653 in expenses in 2007, about half of the $6,720 in expenses for Coun. Glen Taylor and Coun. Mary Malerby, $6,705, both from Coldstream (population 9,471).

Expenses for NORD are a little more complicated because some directors not only represent their individual constituency, but attend meetings on behalf of the district as a whole. Leading the pack in 2007 was $6,989 for Herman Halvorson, director for rural Enderby (population 4,091).

n It is interesting to note that in Vernon, all four council members elected in 2005 (Lippert, Buffy Baumbrough, Juliette Cunningham and Jack Gilroy) filed for expenses while the three longtime councillors (Barry Beardsell, Pat Cochrane and Patrick Nicol) didn't submit for any expenditures.

Obviously figures can be interpreted any way you want, but some questions arise.

How is it that two councillors from a community the size of Coldstream can have double the expenses of the mayor of the much-larger Vernon?

If these two councillors are attending conferences, are these trips resulting in policy changes or increased government funding in Coldstream?

Why didn't the city's four veteran councillors have any expenses? Are they not attending conferences, which are often a good source of information on critical issues, whether it is affordable housing, poverty or new infrastructure? Are the four newbies too vigorous about heading out of town?

Is there a reason why NORD's senior administrators are paid significantly more than those just a few miles away at Vernon city hall?

And while the administrative sector requires wages of a certain level if you want to attract and retain skilled individuals, is there a problem with such high salaries when many residents — who pay the bill through taxes — are struggling to put food on the table or are being handed pink slips?

I don't have the answers to these questions, and am loath to make assumptions without having all of the facts in front of me, but it's amazing what you can find in an annual report.

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Money shuffle
June 06, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

The Conservative flyer arrived in my mailbox recently from MP Colin Mayes and outlined on the front page was the Conservative plan to end poverty:  support the Salvation Army Food Bank.

In the same week the military is promised $30, $50 or maybe $85 billion.

I am appalled that in a country as rich as Canada 17-18 per cent (23.5 per cent in B.C.) of the children live in poverty and the government's plan is “support the food bank.“

Alice Brown,
Okanagan-Shuswap NDP

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Remember, it’s our money
May 09, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star Letters

As a taxpayer who voted on this referendum, I take exception to the inference that it is the taxpayers fault for the cost that brought the undesired conclusion that city hall was looking for.

If city hall had properly presented the referendum questions in the first place there would not have been the feeling of wasted money.

First of all City Hall didn't seem to think that taxpayers needed to vote on how money for a new complex would be attained. So they got on their high horse and scrapped the whole building when, that was probably the better choice. Then they held another referendum that did not include the first building....what did they think would happen?

The referendum should have had both choices on the ballot and then they would have achieved better results.....I blame City Hall for the added expense and suggest when they don't get what they want they look at themselves instead of assuming the taxpayers are at fault. I predict that their lack of insight will show up at the next election when they are not as well supported as they thought they would be.

Choice is what Canada is all about....it is about time government officials of all levels started giving us all choices instead of just the narrowminded choices they think we should have. Are they afraid to find out what we really want and are willing to pay for?

We are smarter than they think and we are not willing to give them what they want....they represent us and our city and need to stop their own agenda thinking.

I am proud to say I voted no on the referendum to stop them from building such an unsightly building in our city. Bring in proper choices and I will vote yes.

Remember it is my money you are asking for.

Candis Hansen

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MP denies wrongdoing over expenses
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - April 25, 2008

Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes defends campaign spending during the last federal election.

It’s alleged that the Conservative Party spent $1 million more than the $18 million national campaign limit in the 2006 election. Party headquarters in Ottawa were recently raided by the RCMP and Elections Canada officials.

“We have nothing to hide,” said Mayes.

Under legislation, national parties can provide funds to individual candidates, but the money must be used for local campaigns and not the national one.

Prior to the end of the 2006 election, the party transferred money to 67 candidates who had not reached their individual limits. That money was then transferred back to the party for national advertising.

The ads ran in local markets mentioning the local candidates.

It’s alleged by Elections Canada that this was an attempt to circumvent the national spending limit.

However, Mayes disagrees with that interpretation.

“It would be good if we left it to a judge to decide the interpretation of the act,” he said, adding that other parties have also taken similar action during previous elections.

“I really do believe the (Conservative) party has followed common practice.”

Financial reports filed with Elections Canada show that the Conservative Party transferred $9,989 into Mayes’ campaign Jan. 13, 2006. On Jan. 16, there was a $10,029 transfer out of Mayes’ campaign account.

Mayes says financial decisions were handled by his campaign team and he was not aware of the $9,989 transfer into his account.

“My official agent or campaign manager didn’t make me aware of this,” he said.

In terms of the $10,029, Mayes insists that money originated from donations and there was a request from the national party for funds.

“We forwarded funds to help other constituencies that were under-funded.”

Wayne McGrath, Mayes’ campaign manager, confirms that he was contacted by the national party.

“They explained that it was possible to have another $10,000 for the campaign. They said we’d have to send another $10,000 back and it would go to pay for advertising. It would go towards our maximum spending limit,” he said.

McGrath admits that he and others within the campaign team had some reservations.

“I simply didn’t know if it was possible to receive money from the national party and use it for local campaigns. But it was determined that the money could transfer back and forth,” he said.

McGrath says Mayes was part of those discussions.

“We were part of a committee and he was part of the committee. He certainly agreed with it,” said McGrath.

McGrath believes Election Canada’s allegations are unfounded.

“The party is on sound legal grounds. As the prime minister said, it’s a matter of interpretation of where the advertising had to go,” he said.

Other parties are taking issue with Mayes’ comments.

“The local NDP campaign did not transfer money to the national party, and then claim it as a local advertising expense,” said Jeff Mellows, the NDP’s financial agent during the 2006 election.

“Funds received by the Alice Brown campaign were all spent here on the local campaign.”

Elections Canada is being sued by the Conservative Party for denying the advertising expenses of local candidates.

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City’s moorage concern misplaced
Kelowna Capital News - March 14, 2008

To the editor:

I read with disgust the recent Capital News front page story (March 5) about the “poor” Mission dentist who has no where to put his boat. While I sympathize with him somewhat, Kelowna city councillor Andre Blanliel’s suggestion that the city (which means us taxpayers) should be subsidizing moorage for boats has me furious.

As a single mother supporting two children, it is a struggle to come up with my annual city taxes as it is. I will never be able to afford a boat so why on earth should I be subsidizing some rich person’s moorage?

If moorage is needed that badly, then let a private investor build it and charge the people who can afford these luxury items, not single parents and others like myself who not only can’t afford to live on the lake, but cannot afford to play on it, either.

Glenna Turnbull, Kelowna

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Basic needs slip through the cracks
Kelowna Capital News March 14, 2008

To the editor:

I am writing this letter in regards to a matter that I consider of significant importance, the issue of homeless women in Kelowna.

Although I am not familiar with this poignant social issue, last Friday I encountered a woman who didn’t have a place to sleep.

We have all faced rough situations at times during our lives, and it was evident that this woman was stuck in a rut.

She was exhausted from experiencing a bad day, and physically, she looked years beyond her age.

She needed assistance and asked for help. I, along with a few others, made a few frustrating phone calls to the various local women’s shelters where their staff informed me that there was not a single bed to be found.

I begged, pleaded, even prodded, but the answer was still the same.

They could not magically make beds appear where there were none to be found.

The staff on the phone confessed that they turn women away every night.

Every single freakin’ night a woman in the beautiful City of Kelowna, situated in this wonderful first world country of Canada, resorts to trading in her pride and the right to a warm house, for a place on the cold street.

This may sound dramatic, but it infuriates me to know that our governments can spend millions of our tax dollars on various programs, yet many, who are desperate for even the most basic needs, slip through the cracks!

This story, however, does have a happy ending. I was able to drive her to the undisclosed location of the Inn from the Cold Program, sponsored by a small church nestled in a residential area, that takes in the overflow homeless population during the frigid months.

I applaud this compassionate group of people who willingly take on the task every single night without respite.

They are Kelowna’s unsung heroes. This woman was finally able to rest her head in their humble care.

However, I am concerned for those that are left with nothing when this program ends midway through March.

I guess one of our options is to pray for really good weather. This, dear editor, in my view, is unacceptable.

Kimberly Ficke,

Kelowna

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Solar powered lighting to be installed around Kelowna
Kelowna Capital News March 14, 2008

Kelowna residents will always get to walk on the sunny side of the street, thanks to some federal dollars.

Yesterday morning, Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn, announced the federal government will invest $500,000 in an outdoor solar lighting project for the city.

The one-year project, developed by Carmanah Technologies Corporation of Victoria, will install a network of 100 self-contained solar power systems to light public spaces in Kelowna.

The lights will illuminate parks, pedestrian and bike trails, accent lighting, and security and safety lighting.

The federal government contributed $500,000 to the project through Natural Resources Canada, including $20,000 of in-kind support from NRCan’s CANMET Energy Technology Centre.

“We’re thrilled to be a partner in this pilot project that showcases responsible energy management,” said Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd from the GLOBE 2008 conference where Lunn made the announcement.

“Sunlight is true “local” energy and doesn’t have to be explored, mined, extracted, transported, combusted, imported or purchased, making it the ultimate eco-friendly source of power.”

Kelowna’s topography allows it to receive sunshine during much of the day regardless of the season.

On average, Kelowna receives more than 2,000 hours of sunshine a year.

This makes it an ideal location to try out the potential of Carmanah’s EverGEN lighting system.

According to Philippe Favreau, COO of Vancouver Island-based Carmanah Technologies, Kelowna’s community-wide deployment of solar-powered area lights reflects a global shift towards environmentally friendly lighting alternatives.

The the federal government’s support for this project is part of what it says is a commitment to help Canadians reduce energy costs and be energy-efficient as part of its ecoACTION plan.

The government is putting $3.6 billion in ecoENERGY initiatives to help Canadians use energy more efficiently, boost renewable energy supplies and develop cleaner energy technologies.

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Charlie Hodge is a veteran of the B.C. community newspaper industry, having done two tours of duty with the Capital News, and with Parksville on Vancouver Island, where he served as an elected municipal council member. Charlie was born and raised in Kelowna, and today directs a good deal of energy on issues regarding the environment and the Okanagan music scene.

Solutions to all city’s ills
By Charlie Hodge - Kelowna Capital News - March 16, 2008

Seems to me that with a little ‘out of the box’ thinking (or perhaps some plain old ‘out of my mind’ fun) I may have solved Kelowna’s three head-scratching dilemmas at once.

Apparently no one can decide what to do with the ‘old ‘(how quickly we forget) floating bridge. Some want to sink it—others to preserve it.

Meanwhile, everyone except Kelowna city council has a great idea what should happen to the property that once housed my old school, KSS.

(Actually, in honesty—I seldom went in to the school, but I did know the parking lot really, really well).

As well, there is growing controversy over how much if anything should be spent on a party to celebrate the new bridge. Some suggest it is important to celebrate the new structure and suggest we need to have red ribbons, dignitaries, cake and fireworks.

All three are significant issues of concern and worthy of much gnashing of teeth, gesturing, and yelling.

Here’s my spin:

The Party: Certainly $140,000 seems like a lot of money to cut a ribbon, drink cheap wine, and watch fireworks. And now that Westbank council has agreed to buy the cake I say forget all the rest of the plans. (Heck we got the cake for free). Tell everyone to bring their own plate and fork, a bottle of their own wine, and some sparklers.

I’m sure there is some ribbon around City Hall and if not there are certainly piles and piles of ‘red tape.’ Use that, no one will really know the difference.

The bridge: I say keep it and turn it into our own version of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.

Problem is there are not many fish in Okanagan Lake anymore, least ways not many you really want to eat. But, hey, never let the facts stand in the way of a good story—or in this case a good marketing ploy.

I say we leave the bridge to pedestrians, cyclists, and rollerblading babes (remember—tourists). We can put up all kinds of funky little shops and bistros. Even if the bridge was cut in half we could still use it. In fact it would be rather symbolic of our ability to make decisions here in Kelowna.

KSS Property:

We could pile all of the old bridge concrete on the site, cover it with dirt, and build a downhill training run for skiers in time for the 2010 Olympics. I’ll bet Premier Gordo would give us a grant for that which we could then use on more studies of the property.

If that fails as an idea we could always do what’s been suggested for years now - parkland, affordable housing, shops, but that’s way too practical.

The Big Solution To All:

We combine all three issues and resolve them with one giant fundraiser.

Forget the party fireworks and spend the money on real explosives like TNT or dynamite and we simply blow up the bridge.

Prior to the big bang we sell of marked square footages of concrete and put numbers on them. Residents and businesses purchase raffle tickets with the matching numbers ahead of time.

Then we load any other large, loose, heavy pieces of the old bridge onto the remaining structure and on these we mark down various ideas for the KSS property. (For example write ‘park’, ‘affordable housing’ ‘outdoor cafe’ ‘place for rich people’, and other ideas on cinder blocks, hunks of metal .... When everything is in place we have a target placed dead centre on the KSS property, direct the explosion at the said piece of land, and let her blow.

The owner of the raffle block of cement that lands closes to the bull’s-eye wins the money and the design of the KSS sight is decided by wherever the labelled hunks of junk land.

Sort of like ‘pickup sticks’ but not.

It’s a win, win, win scenario. No more worries about the money and time of planning the KSS site, no more worries about polluting Okanagan Lake, and no unnecessary money spent on a party.

In fact, it would raise money.

If we made the raffle a 50-50 draw the city could keep half the money raised. They could put it in a budget for the next new bridge we will need when we quickly discover that the brand new one makes diddly squat in the way of difference.

There you are—problems are solved.

I’m sure some readers will simply see my suggestion as being a party pooper—but I guess that’s the chance one must take to try and do the right thing and create positive change.

P.S .No brains cells were damaged during the writing of this column.

Blue Divider Line

Westside opts against seeing tax dollars ‘go up in fireworks’
By Jason Luciw - Kelowna Capital News - March 12, 2008

Although William R. Bennett Bridge is being built to connect Westside and Kelowna, Westside council isn’t willing to contribute much to the $140,000 party planned to officially open the structure.

Westside was asked to chip in $6,700, after Kelowna realized it was the only municipality pitching in local governments’ $40,000 commitment for the party.

But, Westside has opted to spend only $1,500—for a cake.

Coun. Doug Findlater didn’t see the value in contributing $6,700 because Westside hasn’t been invited to sit on the organizing committee. “We haven’t been involved in the planning and are still not involved in the planning. So I have no problem contributing a smaller portion,” he said.

Mayor Rosalind Neis defended the Bridge Celebration Advisory Committee stating it was created prior to Westside incorporation and that’s why the municipality hasn’t been involved. She called the cake contribution a “nice gesture.”

Westside’s contribution is not surprising given the fact council continues deliberate its first budget and stares huge capital and operational costs in the face. The municipality must consider hiring several more police officers and firefighters and building a new police station and main fire hall. It has also been dealt $4 million in cost overruns for its new arena, Royal LePage Place.

Coun. Gord Milsom best summed up the municipality’s money-conscious attitude when he stated $140,000 for a bridge celebration seemed a “bit excessive.” “A smaller party would have been fine,” Milsom commented.

Coun. Heather Pilling, a Casa Loma resident, expressed disappointment Westside was unwilling to contribute something more.

“There are two sides of the bridge, Westside and Kelowna. It’s important we make a contribution,” Pilling argued.

Residents of Casa Loma, Lakeview Heights and West Kelowna will be using the new bridge to access services in Kelowna just as often as they use the Lake Okanagan bridge now, the pro-join Kelowna councillor said.

“Residents of West Kelowna, Casa Loma and Lakeview Heights travel this bridge an awful lot. Maybe people from Westbank don’t as much. But, the bridge is important to Westside,” she said.

Following council’s discussion on the bridge party Tuesday afternoon, Findlater told the Capital News that he believed it was better Westside contribute to something specific, rather than just throw $6,700 in to the pot.

“I don’t want to see tax dollars go up in fireworks. Let the private sector pay for things like that,” he said.

Other municipalities and the Central Okanagan Regional District are still considering contributions to the party. So far, Kelowna’s share is down to $38,500, with Westside’s contribution factored in. The B.C. Ministry of Transportation is contributing $40,000, and BC 150 funding is providing another $10,000.

Bridge builder SNC Lavalin is contributing $30,000 in cooperation with its six subcontractors. The committee will also seek $20,000 from sponsors.

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New crossing is a bridge too small
Kelowna Capital News - March 16, 2008

To the editor:

I agree with John Powell’s recent letter to the editor (Bridge Party Shows City’s Priorities Are Goofy, Capital News, March 2).

Our politicians should not be wasting $140,000 on a party to open the William R. Bennett Bridge.

It could be much better spent on other things, such as bicycle paths.

This bridge is going to have five lanes, which means it will handle 50 per cent more traffic in one direction than in the other direction.

This makes no sense at all and shows there has been no planning for the future.


If Kelowna city council and the regional district directors had been truly representing the citizens, they would have insisted the provincial government build a six-lane bridge.

One would think that after making such a blunder, these politicians would be keeping a very low profile and not making speeches at the grand opening.

Let us hope that Westside council has the sense not to contribute any money.

E. Craig

Westbank

(Editor’s note: Westside agreed last week to contribute $1,500 to pay for a large cake for the new bridge celebration.)

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