Big bucks going to City Hall staffers
It is interesting that much attention is given to salaries and expenses of School District 23 employees such as board chair Moyra Baxter and superintendent Kevin Kardaal.
It certainly would be interesting to examine some of the inner workings at Kelowna City Hall.
Doug Gilchrist, former planning manager who became city manager in April 2018, drew a salary last year of $221,000. The full-year salary for the manager of the City of Regina was $262,000. Regina has a population of 229,000, compared to Kelowna’s population of 132,000.
Robert Fine shuffled over to the City of Kelowna from the Central Okanagan Regional District to assume the position of director of business and entrepreneurial development. What does Fine really do?
I’m glad The Daily Courier has reported several times that Kelowna city councillor Gail Given receives another $40,000-plus a year as chair of the Central Okanagan Regional District board, that quite often has so little to do that its meetings are cancelled.
Other things of interest: Why does the city do business with numbered companies? How much do taxpayers subsidize the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce?
Lots that the citizens of Kelowna should know about. It would be great if the local media would keep us informed about more than house prices, rental rates, and the current unemployment numbers.
Poor location for new Costco
Costco is a destination big box store, the key word being destination. How many of you go to Costco and only to Costco?
The usual scenario is an isolated location where it can “spread its wings.” Sometimes a growing city spreads out and around them and also other businesses begin to take advantage of their draw.
Costco has presented the city a great opportunity and I don’t think they understand why.The site Costco brought forward is unacceptable and should be rejected. That property is far better suited to the high-density residential that presently surrounds it. It has the amenities that people like to live close to — groceries and shopping within walking distance. It has access to parks to play in and trails to walk and hike. It is a perfect site to tender designs for a planned residential community.
Further, Springfield Road can remain the respite that locals use to avoid the congestion of Highway 97.
The opportunity Costco is presenting in its desire to expand is the chance to get them out of the city proper entirely. The city should aid Costco in its search for a spacious location and have better accesses, perhaps across from the airport.
I believe that in so doing the traffic bottleneck that occurs at that area of Highway 97 (and down to Orchard Park) will be relieved and traffic flow will be greatly improved.
West Kelowna Council, stop raising taxes
West Kelowna may need infrastructure tax. Really?
West Kelowna Coun. Jason Friesen, stated:
• Taxpayers shouldn’t bemoan the lack of city services and also decry possibility of tax increases,
• That a levy in addition to regular property tax increases be added to beef up municipal reserves to pay for upgrades to city infrastructure,
• That fiscal responsibility isn’t always just saying no to taxes.
Lack of fiscal responsibility goes far beyond what we expect. Case in point: The the soccer dome. Original maximum budget: $1.5 million. Residents believed the City was being played by the soccer association. Our city council approved the project because the association brought some $670,000 to the table (the majority of which was provincial-taxpayer funds). Some residents advised that the proposal was incomplete which was dismissed by the city. The city was going to build the soccer dome no matter cost.
The final cost of the Dome totaled $4.1 million, plus the cost of the land which was never disclosed to the public but had an assessment of some $600,000 making the actual cost of the project in excess of $4.7 million. At least six capital projects were cancelled because of our city council’s decision to proceed with the dome.
It appears the fiscal responsibility stated by Friesen stops the minute the city council gets our taxpayer dollars.
I have been an area sports director for over 20 years and on a sports and multi- cultural review board. Having been involved building an entire sports complex, to watch how this Soccer Dome project progressed sent chills up my spine.
Couple the soccer dome’s wasted spending with the wine trail wasted spending, then adding that our council now wants us to pay more taxes and user fees just goes too far. We taxpayers expect wise and careful spending of our money for needed infrastructure — not wasted on the wants of council.
There is only so much money that we are willing to pay, whether you call it taxes, user fees, levies, or parcel taxes — it all comes out of one pocket. Perhaps it is time to put a levy upon or increase our developer cost contributions. After all, they are the ones placing increased pressures on our infrastructure systems.
Coun. Friesen, you can consider this an official moan and outcry. Do not increase our taxes.
Baited traps kill dogs every winter
As the festive season draws near, I would like to share a lesson learned from the many cats I have had the privilege to serve.
That lesson is simply this: Never let your guard down.
Dog guardians (a.k.a. dog owners) and their dogs often let their guard down. Goofy freedom is one of the reasons people love their dogs and why they don’t take their cats for walks — unless said cats
follows furtively to see what their odd human and dog are up to.
There is one season, however, when a cat’s inner guardian voice needs to be heeded, and that season is winter, when the coats of fur-bearing animals are thick and at their best. It’s the prime season for traplines.
While house cats stretch out by the warmth of a fire, the family dog is eager to run through snow, to enjoy off-leash freedom on a familiar trail it knows intimately. What is the harm in that?
Perhaps cats, though not most dog owners, know that approximately eight pet dogs per year die in snares or other killing traps in B.C. That number does not include dogs who die in traps that are never found by owner or reported by the trapper.
Wildlife (and unintended species) caught in traps may have to wait as long as 72 hours, the maximum time the trapper has to inspect his traps (the timeline varies) and finish off his pray if it is still clinging to life.
There are no provincial regulations requiring trappers to post warning signs of traps along popular walking trails (or on private properties).
Winter wonderland quickly loses its charm when your dog disappears in response to the smell of a baited trap.
Private healthcare is all about profit
Re: As Brian Day’s court case ends, future of healthcare hangs in the balance (The Tyee, Dec. 2).
Dr. Brian Day’s team has a strong financial interest in the outcome of this case. The betterment of our healthcare system is not their goal — future profit is. We need to revamp our system not destroy it.
Picture yourself in a boat on a river
Being from the small town of Salmon Arm, it wasn’t until recently I learned about the healing properties of psychedelic drugs. For years I had assumed that, much like specific other drugs, they were simply not a substance I would typically want to encounter. However, throughout the last year I have academically dove into researching the therapeutic properties of psychedelic substances to discover their uses go far beyond a method of simply getting high.
Over the past year, I have followed research on their therapeutic purposes of easing the symptoms of mental disorders such as anxiety or depression. What research has shown is that the use of psychedelics promotes neuroplasticity within the brain, meaning with the help of these drugs, one’s brain demonstrates the increased ability to repair neural connections and change positively more within an individual’s lifespan. What really perplexes me the most is why these substances are not being advertised and harnessed for healing purposes; why psychedelics are not being talked about more as an alternative to heavy pharmaceutical drugs.
Much to my disbelief, these drugs are proven to technically be “non-addictive” and cause remarkably less overall harm in comparison to other substances on the market. In fact, micro-dosing, a technique of consuming small amount of psychedelics on a semi-regular schedule, has shown to increase levels of creativity, help manage symptoms of mental disorders and improve the quality of life in terminally-ill patients. This discovery of their therapeutic properties and relatively harmless consequences makes me question why, in Canada, these drugs are not legal, at the very least, for research and medicinal purposes.
Granted, I do not have any research of my own, but when countless studies are pushing their readers all in the same direction, one cannot help but be forced to look at the facts.
Canadians have long contributed to oil sands
The new voices of western alienation, Wexit in Alberta and Brad Wall’s Buffalo Project in Saskatchewan, both use revisionist history.
They claim Confederation is unfair; because their resource sector does not receive enough consideration for the billions of dollars it contributes to the rest of Canada. No mention of the disruptive economic consequence felt in the rest of Canada, because of Alberta’s boom/bust
cycles and its own failure to diversify.
Westerners seem to forget that from 1961 to 1973 under the National Oil Policy, eastern Canadians paid a $1.50 more for Alberta’s $3 dollar a barrel oil — a 33% premium to help develop Alberta’s oil sector. After the 1973 OPEC oil-shock, oil went from $3 dollars to $40 a barrel overnight.
A fight began, when Pierre Trudeau’s government wanted a fairer distribution of these windfall-profits; because Alberta’s oil industry was still receiving huge annual federal subsidizes. The fact is all Canadians have a long history of contributing to Canada’s oil-patch.
Westerners do not call for separation from Canada, but rather a new deal from Confederation. But, Confederation is based on a representation of Canadians. Canada’s energy sector account for 11% of Canada’s total GDP and both provinces represents 14% of Canada’s population. It seems to me, the call for a special deal based on the belief that western resource money multiplies their representation and political-weight within Confederation, so as to somehow leap-frog ahead the rest of us; is a classic tyranny of a minority over the majority.
After all, oil is a Canadian resource.
Jon Peter Christoff
Ignoring OCP, no back-up plan
I watched with interest the presentation to Kelowna mayor and council by Professor Curt Griffiths regarding policing in Kelowna. This was an overview of the report and two facts caught my attention.
There is a lack of planning and documentation for the strategy between the two parties (city and RCMP) and within the RCMP. He said their first step in doing a study is to look for documentation, a plan. His initial finding, “there is no plan.’’
He then talked about special situations relating to each city, and went on to mention Winnipeg and some of their particular issues. Moving on to Kelowna, he briefly noted the impact of tourism and how a city can take hits ‘’here and there’’ which require police attention. He cited the “hit” from BC Housing, “that comes in and does supportive housing and then takes off. You say where does that fit? If there was a plan you could say ok, we will do supportive housing, then we will do the wrap around services, etc. This is generally missing.”
This last point is critical to the residents of Kelowna and particularly Rutland, something we have all been mindful of. With no accompanying services on location for supportive housing the local residents become the front lines for the socialization and integration of the homeless population. According to the report, issues then become police responsibility, adding to file loads of the officers.
Clearly, either allowing temporary tenting sites for the homeless, most of whom have addiction issues, or dropping them into buildings, many in Rutland, without necessary services, just piles the work onto RCMP officers.
Mayor Colin Basran constantly boasts about how well he and council work with their partners like BC Housing. This is a smoke screen for seat-of-the-pants management. It is also evidenced in their focus on development of the city.
As Darrren Walker, president of the philanthropic Ford Foundation stated recently about New York City; how can a city continually grease the wheels for developers of expensive condominiums, at the same time providing them with financial incentives, while there are so many individuals and families, as well as homeless crying out for affordable housing?