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Vernon B.C. Community Comments


LAST UPDATE February 14, 2015

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Vernon Morning Star - July 17, 2010

I for sure cannot speak for anyone else, however, I can speak how I feel about Richard Rolke's article, "City hall records higher payroll."

No doubt people need compensation for jobs well performed.

I served seven years as a Director on hospital/care board back in the late '80s and early 90s and most of those on this particular board were former government bureaucrats who when it came time to ante up more money for the CEO and top non union staff I would hear the same line pined as Councilor Jack Gilroy; "I look at it and go, Wow, but it's the cost of doing business. If we want the people in proper positions, we have to pay a certain level or you'll lose them."

At that time the CEO of this particular facility was making $85,000 plus perks annually. I was the only person who voted annually against their pay raises. I maintained then and maintain today that most families if they live within their means can live nicely on an income of $7,000 a month. That goes for those earning $75,000 annually. If you can not support your family on $6,000 a month plus perks then you have a lifestyle problem.

I for one do not buy into the philosophy more money gets you better personnel. I'm sure there are hundreds of top, well-qualified professionals in the municipal "industry" that would gladly come to our city for less compensation.

To hear Mayor Wayne Lippert chime in behind this comment that the city is not top heavy with staff and council is being responsible disappoints me as I know this man. Sometimes I think he has lost his business compass and is sipping the bureaucratic kool-aid and is following instead of leading.

I appreciate Councillor Spiers efforts to keep us informed.

As I said I do not speak for anyone else but that's my opinion.

Joe O'Hearn


Joe ... agrees with you whole heartedly.

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Recession? What recession?
Vernon Morning Star - July 15, 2010

Regarding the recent article on the $3,000,000 increase in one year bringing the city hall payroll to $18,800,000, and the addition of 58 people to the staffing level since 2007. Incredibly, this all happened while the private sector (read taxpayers), was going through a terrible recession with many cutbacks and job losses.

In answer to your reporter's questions, Coun. Jack Gilroy and the mayor came up with the old bromide that you can't get good people unless you pay for them, etc., etc., etc.

Nowhere was any mention made of trying to cut costs to stay in line with taxpayers' reduced ability to pay, or even to see whether there was any "empire building," for which the civil service is famous, going on.

Indeed, when Bob Spiers and Patrick Nicol suggested that we should follow Penticton's lead and have an efficiency expert check Vernon's bloated payroll, it was voted down by council, with the same two gentlemen shrugging it off and saying "It would send the wrong message!"

If Penticton can reduce their staff by two senior supervisors and 10 other staff and still function, it is worth a look.

Regarding Gilroy's remark of sending the wrong message, how right he is, only the message has gone out to the taxpayers, that another $3,000,000, or so, isn't worth getting excited about.

I know the only two councilors that I'll be voting for in the next election!

W. Crosby

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Fire ban in place for the City of Vernon - by Contributed - Story: 55982 - Jul 27, 2010

The City of Vernon has joined the rest of the province and placed a ban on all fires within the municipal boundaries.

This is due to anticipated extreme fire conditions and continuing hot weather.

The ban comes into affect Thursday, July 29 and includes the following:

•As of noon on Thursday, July 29, the City of Vernon will follow the request of the Ministry of Forests by prohibiting fires of any size, including campfires, fires with a special permit and industrial burning, fireworks, tiki torches and burning barrels.

•This ban applies to all areas of the City of Vernon including the Foothills and Blue Jay subdivisions, Predator Ridge, Canadian Lake Estates and the Okanagan Landing.

•This ban will remain in place until further notice.

•This ban does not apply to metal, ceramic or masonry barbeques with a grill and an enclosed flame fuelled by propane or briquettes which is being used for the purpose of cooking.

Vernon Fire Rescue Services urges everyone to be careful, be safe and have fun while enjoying the pleasures of our spectacular Okanagan summer!:

I don't see the difference between a propane flame and a wood burning flame, do you?  They can both cause a wildfire.  One time I moved the BBQ and the burner got knocked from its seated position without my knowledge, and my entire BBQ started on fire just after I started it.  I guess the BBQ was moved so that it was laying on its side and that is how the burner came off its position.  The burner was not screwed down and it just sat in its spot ok until the BBQ was moved and the burner got knocked off its spot.

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Fire ban in effect throughout zone as of Thursday
Vernon Morning Star - July 27, 2010

Starting Thursday at noon, all open burning, including campfires and fireworks, will be prohibited across the Kamloops Fire Centre, including the North Okanagan.

The fire danger rating is currently high to extreme across the fire centre, making the risk of a campfire sparking a wildfire a concern to forest officials.

This ban applies to open fires of any size, including campfires, fires with a burn registration number and industrial burning, fireworks, tiki torches and burning barrels.

Within this area, the ban covers all B.C. Parks, Crown and private lands, but does not apply within the boundaries of local governments that have forest fire prevention bylaws and are serviced by a fire department.

The ban will be in place until Sept. 30, or until the public is otherwise notified.

The ban does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or to portable campfire apparatus with a CSA or ULC rating using briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel, as long as the flame is kept under 15 centimetres in length.

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Water quality facts explored
By Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star - Published: January 15, 2009

Fears that sewage effluent could be streaming into Greater Vernon’s drinking water are being discounted.

The Society for the Protection of Kalamalka Lake is the latest organization to raise concerns about the spraying of sewage at Silver Star Mountain.

The major concerns are that this is happening too close to the headwaters of Coldstream Creek and Vance Creek. Coldstream Creek flows right into Kalamalka Lake, a major source of drinking water for Greater Vernon. Vance Creek is also a water source, in the Lumby region.

“Should we be alarmed? Is this raw sewage?” asked Louise Christie, one of the society’s directors.

The concerns were presented to Coldstream council Monday, where Christie pointed to You Tube videos, posted by the Citizens Coalition to Save Silver Star Provincial Park.

“It showed quite a disturbing event happening on Silver Star Mountain,” said Christie, of images of a sewage lagoon excavation and treated effluent being sprayed.

Silverhawk Utilities actually manages and operates the water and wastewater system at Silver Star.

Plant operator Jim Huffman says concerns being raised are lacking in facts.

“They use the word sewage a lot. Because sewage gets people’s attention,” said Huffman. “We do not dump raw sewage into creeks. I would go to jail.”

Huffman adds that everything the company does has to go through the Ministry of Environment.

“We’ve got nothing to hide.”

He has even tried to ease previous concerns by inviting local representatives as well as concerned citizens on a tour of the site.

Rick Fairbairn, Area D representative, went on that tour, along with another sample tour in October.

“Now we’re not scientists and how are we to say that what they’re spraying out meets the levels?” said Fairbairn. But, he says: “We were led to believe that it does meet certain criteria and it was safe.”

Huffman explains that the acceptable level of fecal matter is 1,000 parts per million.

The levels taken from the sample tour, with an analysis date of Oct. 15, are well within the safe range.

At two sample sites at the Vance Creek headwaters the numbers are less than one and 13. Down the creek at Trinity Valley Road, two sites have readings of two and 15. At Vance Creek Ranch the number is 30.

Along Coldstream Creek the numbers are as follows: Noble Canyon Road - 44, near Coldstream Lumber Sales - 860, Coldstream Cemetery - 140 and Kirkland Drive - 380

While the numbers are relatively low further up the mountain, Huffman explains that the higher numbers below can usually be attributed to a form of fecal that is not human.

“There can be 200, 300, 400 head of cattle in the creek,” he said of certain sampling sites.

But further up the mountain, the numbers show that the water is clean.

“The water that comes out of this creek is pristine,” said Huffman. “I would drink it.

“The water is cleaner than the water that goes into the lake by Coldstream Ranch.”

In response to public concerns, Sarah D. Yewish has provided The Morning Star with information on behalf of Silverhawk Utilities director R. L. Sukovieff.

The submission reads: “If any contamination occurs it has been proven to have nothing to do with Silver Star or its wastewater treatment facility.”

In response to concerns about spray irrigation, the release states: “At Silver Star, due to a general lack of public acceptance to dispose of the treated effluent into a stream, the wastewater is treated then disposed of by an approved irrigation method. The treatment system and the disposal system have all the necessary approvals and are operated and monitored as per B.C. Government Guidelines and Regulations

“The City of Vernon treats their wastewater and then disposes of the treated effluent in the same manner as Silver Star; that is, by spray-irrigation on the hillsides and pastures above south Vernon called the Commonage. This method of disposal is widely accepted and very common.”

The Ministry of Environment failed to return Morning Star phone calls by press time.

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Digging deep
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - April 16, 2008

It was likely just a simple mistake, but the placement of a staff report may have people questioning transparency at Vernon city hall.

And certainly my eyebrows were raised when I delved into Monday’s council agenda looking for the report on library complex costs. Anticipating that it would be near the front, I was shocked when I kept digging deeper and deeper into the 343-page document.

I found myself going past the report on a special sign to honour sister cities, the appointment of the chief election officer and a letter from Senator Mobina Jaffer on World Malaria Day. But the costs for a controversial complex that was shot down twice by residents was no where to be found in the main body of the agenda.

Eventually, though, the staff memorandum surfaced on page 285 — tucked under the catch-all category of information items.

For those of you not familiar with council agendas, information items is the elephant’s graveyard. It is littered with insignificant letters from a multitude of government agencies and the eye-closing minutes of advisory committees. Nothing important is generally found there and rarely is there any discussion about them. They are received, filed and forgotten.

But there was the report on complex costs, right along with a letter from the B.C. Egg Marketing Board on consumer choice and the City of Vancouver on funding for municipal police forces (Vernon uses the RCMP).

With the civic complex issue dominating Vernon politics for almost a year, and $373,538 in taxpayers’ money being forked out, one has to wonder why the report was placed in the agenda the way it was. Critics swear up and down that council was trying to hide something.

“It really says transparency be damned — ‘We’ll get something out and hope no one sees it,’” said Coun. Barry Beardsell, the lone elected official to oppose the civic complex plan.

Mayor Wayne Lippert, who puts the agenda together with staff, denies there were any tricks involved.

“It was an oversight more than anything,” he said.

Lippert went on to say about the report that, “it was an information item that council requested.”

And yes that is technically true. But in my years of covering city hall, I can’t ever remember such an important memorandum being handled in this way.

And it should have been considered important not only because of the substantial dollar figure involved, but because council has taken a significant public relations hit over openness during the past year.

Many residents accused council of originally trying to slide the civic complex through the back door with the alternate approval process, and simply wanting residents to approve paying for a design that had already been determined by bureaucrats and consultants.

Not for a minute am I suggesting that there was anything under-handed about the placement of the staff report or that games were being played.

But the fact that it was virtually at the back of the agenda will certainly give conspiracy theorists something to talk about.

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