Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lake Country and the Goldilocks Dilemma

I write a personal blog on a regular basis (if you are interested you can read me at In my very first blog, I wrote about what psychologists call "The Goldilocks Dilemma". You know the story about the family of bears that goes out for a stroll before dinner and the little rude girl called Goldilocks. She enters their house unbeknownst to them and makes a mess out of it. The girl's dilemma, in the story and while she explores her new environment, is to find what is comfortable or suitable to her. The chair is too big or too small, the soup is too cold or too hot, the bed is too hard or too soft. Goldilocks always finds the middle ground and chooses one of the three chairs, or one of the three soups, or one of the three beds that are suitable to her level of comfort. Dr. Steven Berglar, author of the book "Reclaiming the Fire", which explores the Goldilocks Dilemma in professionals, tells us that, "as time goes on, professionals usually become creative and self-directed. Ultimately, though, everyone of them reaches a point where the need for eustress (positive stress or healthy stress) and the predilection to feel in control and protected from the embarrassment or shame of failure achieve a perfect balance." At this point, according to our good doctor, the Goldilocks dilemma ensues, which is: endure an already mastered task whose challenges are too cold (under stimulating and likely to precipitate frustration and ennui), take on challenges that are too hot and threaten to disrupt self-esteem, or find a mechanism that will free them from remaining between two undesirable alternatives.

Lake Country, as a community, like all other communities in Canada and many others in the World, is facing this very same quandary. The dilemma is with respect to what to do with our aging infrastructure. The reality is that we own circa $250 million of infrastructure, which includes roads, water and sewer systems, parks and facilities. We know that in the next 20 to 30 years, we will need to spend $120 million to keep this infrastructure from deteriorating to a point of no use. Where is the money coming from?

The District and all other municipalities are left with the problem and the following limitations:

  • Limited access to revenues. Basically, the only source of revenue is the property tax, which is applied on the assessed value of a property. The District has no control over the assessment, which is done by the Province through BC Assessment.
  • Limited value for taxes collected. Only $8 out of $100 of taxes collected go to municipalities. The rest go to federal and provincial governments.
  • Limited tax base. There has been very little growth in the last two years, so we are not gaining much new growth value.
  • Requests from the residents to keep the same level of services provided (if not better or more). This is becoming more and more costly. Just in 2011, it will cost the District $460,000 more due to inflation increase and contractual obligations. For instance the RCMP contract will cost $135,000 more next year.
  • No industrial tax base. We have no industry (or very limited) and so the overwhelming majority of our taxes comes from residential properties. This is not good as population ages and financial resources decrease.

In order to keep our infrastructure from reaching an unacceptable level of deterioration, we need to spend $4.2 million every year. Again, where does the money come from? As the answer is obvious, the dilemma becomes quite complicated. Council heard about this on December 14th and asked staff to work on a budget that would meet at least three requirements:

  • Maintain the current level of service provided to the community and residents. Councillor told staff that they heard from the taxpayers that they do not want any reduction in services. We cannot go backward but forward.
  • Replenish the current reserves, which have been depleted in the last two years.
  • Address the issue of aging infrastructure, as I explained it before.

We are working on solving the dilemma. Any options must be sensitive to the impact of any increases to individuals and families. However, the community owns its assets and needs to understand that they should be kept to a reasonable level of enjoyment not only for the time being but also for future generations. And people in the community need to be prepared.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lake Country Budget Meetings

On Tuesday December 14th at the Special Council meeting, Council began their budget deliberations with a presentation from the CAO outlining the alignment to the Council Strategic Priorities and the Corporate Business Plan to the District finances and account allocations.

Staff presented some policy recommendations and will provide a draft budget and 5-year financial plan to Council at the beginning of 2011 for a second budget meeting to be held on January 25th.

In a nutshell, Staff requested Council if they agreed on three main objectives: maintaining the current level of service provided to the community and residents; replenish the current reserves, which have been depleted in the last few years; and address the issue of aging infrastructure that the District, like all other municipalities in Canada, is facing. Council agreed that these three objectives are a financial priority and gave Staff the green light to prepare a budget based on them.

In order to maintain the current level of service provided to its residents, Council needs to deal with a number of increases from other agencies, contractual obligations, and inflation, which in itself is 2.4% alone. For instance, RCMP costs will increase about $135,000. The total increases can be covered with a 4% increase in taxes. Staff will work on options for Council to consider. The effect of a 1% increase for each 100,000 of property value is $2.75 (two dollars and seventy five cents). The average property is assessed at $502,000, so a 1% increase would be a total of $13.80. “To put it in perspective, that would be the cost of a Chai Latte and a packet of cigarettes” said Alberto De Feo, District Administrator, to Council, “a tax increase of 4% would result in the average taxpayer paying around $55, which is the equivalent of a nice dinner. This is very good value for what we get back from the municipality and it’s an annual cost.” In the last five years, Council approved tax increases ranging from as low as 3.2% to as high as 4.9% or an average of 4%.

To replenish the reserves, Staff have recommended that the portion of property taxes that goes into reserve accounts be increased from 4.5% to 5%. This is not a tax increase but a transfer of money from what is collected to those reserves.

Finally, the total value of Lake Country infrastructure is about $250 million. Half of it needs to be replaced in the next 20 to 30 years as it is aging and deteriorating. This is prevalent in all Canada and all municipalities have been or are going to raise money, specifically to address this issue. It is called infrastructure deficit, in the sense that money is needed to be set aside for future repairs or rebuild. In the case of Lake Country, in order to adequately address this issue, the District needs to spend an average of $4.2 million in capital projects on roads, water, sewer and other infrastructure annually. In 2010, only $500,000 from property taxes, parcel tax, and direct fees were spent for this purpose. Staff are recommending that a long term solution be sought to achieve the appropriate level of funding. “We have a responsibility to create a long-term strategy” Councillor Geoff Greenwell said during the meeting.

“Staff have outlined our options in a very informative manner” Mayor James Baker said, “we need to look at the future and we need to expand our tax base to make our budget and quality of life sustainable in Lake Country and what we heard is the right way of doing it.”

De Feo closed his presentation by telling Council that options will be provided with the intent to look at a fair distribution of the burden. “Although, we do not have control over the assessment of property values, we are sensitive to the impact of any increases to individuals and families” De Feo said, “However, the community owns this infrastructure and it understands the need to keep it to a reasonable level of enjoyment and use, not just for the time being but also for future generations.

Again, Council will review a detailed budget and 5-year financial plan at its January 25th Special Meeting.

Click here to view the full report to Council that outlines the current financial situation (revenues & expenses), comparison revenues (expenditures), allocation of property tax and user fees and an analysis of the 2010 budget.

For more information contact: Mayor James Baker, Phone: 250-766-6670 email

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Council Meeting Highlights from December 7th

A Selfless Act

Mayor Baker presented Mr. Steve Swetlishoft with the Governor General's Certificate of Commendation Award for his selfless actions in rescuing a man who had fallen through the ice last winter. Click here to view the full news release.

Tis the Season!

Skate with Santa on Sunday, December 12 from 3 to 4:30 pm at the Winfield Arena! Admission is free! The Salvation Army Christmas bus will be at the Municipal Hall parking lot from 5 to 7 pm on Tuesday, December 14th, and the Municipal Hall will be closed on Friday December 24th and will re-open on Monday January 3, 2011.

The Prison Issue

Rich Coleman, BC’s Solicitor General announced today that they are once again looking for a new home for a prison in the Okanagan. Consultations are underway with the Okanagan Nation Alliance and the Solicitor General is asking local governments for their feedback by April 2011. Click here to view the Castanet news item for more details.

The District wants to hear your thoughts and opinions on this issue! In the previous discussions regarding locating the prison on Jim Bailey Road, no supporting comments were received for that proposed location. We will keep our website up to date with as much information as possible for you. Email, call 250.766.6670 or drop your written comments off at the Municipal Hall. Please make sure to let us know if you would like a response. We will make sure that all comments are forwarded to the Solicitor General.

Historical Markers Unveiled

The first of four Historical Markers, that were a combined effort by the District, the Lake Country Museum and a whole bunch of volunteers, will be located in each of Lake Country’s wards: Carr’s Landing, Okanagan Centre, Oyama and Winfield. Each of the markers recognizes a unique heritage site and includes a view of one of the nearby lakes as seen from that ward. Each marker links each of the heritage sites, includes a map of the District and information about the municipality’s beginnings and formation under a ward constituency system. Click here for the full news release!

Regional Growth Strategy

The Regional Growth Strategy is a planning tool that will be used to guide growth and create an action plan in order to reach the region’s vision over the next 20 years. The RGS is not a land use document but is a common vision of values for the region. The RDCO wants to raise the level awareness of the RGS and will be conducting early and on-going consultation to determine the future regional vision. They will have information available on their website and in their newsletters. Click here to view the presentation from the RDCO to Council.

Early and On-going Consultation

The Development Services Department presented several items for Council’s consideration under Section 879 of the LGA. This section requires that Council consider the need for early and ongoing consultation with residents of the community, organizations and authorities such as adjoining municipalities, the local school district, and senior government affected by OCP bylaws.

Council agreed with staff’s assessment that the consultation undertaken to date has been appropriate for 2 of the 3 OCP applications. Those are, The Lakes to fix minor discrepancies between the surveyed plans and concept plans, and Compass Developments (Oceola Road) to change the future land designation of 2500m2 of land from Urban Residential to Mixed Use Commercial. These bylaws will now be forwarded to a public hearing.

The third OCP amendment which creates a new growth area applies to the Juniper Cove neighbourhood requires additional public review and will be presented to the community at an open house at the Carr’s Landing Fire hall. After the open house staff will prepare the bylaw for Council’s consideration. Keep checking our website for details on the open house!

Youth Councillors

Earlier this year, Council asked staff to investigate the idea of having a Youth Councillor attend Council meetings and help add another perspective to Council’s discussions. This has gone over well in other communities and will help to increase the youth involvement in the District. The principal of GESS recommended that 2 grade 12 students participate alternately so that they can balance their Council commitment with their academic commitments. The Director of Corporate Services will help the new Youth Councillors with background information and answer any questions they have. Keep an eye out at the first meeting in January for our new Youth Councillors!

Apex Drive Park Concept Plan

The Lakes Neighbourhood Association and the District have been working together to develop a 1 acre parcel of land on Apex Drive into a neighbourhood park. After various meetings with committees and residents and open houses, all the input, comments and ideas were consolidated and the concept plan was approved by Council. The park will be developed in 4 phases over a number of years and includes a large flat grass area, 2 playgrounds and a small amphitheatre gathering area. Click here to see the concept plan!

Gas Tax Agreement

Council is supporting the RDCO’s request to the UBCM to move from Tier 2 to Tier 1 under the Gas Tax Agreement. What does this mean? The Gas Tax Fund provides federal funding for B.C. local governments for a variety of capital and planning projects. As a Tier 2 regional district, 50% of the funds are given directly to the member municipalities within the region and 50% is set aside for regional projects through an application process. By moving to Tier 1, this would mean that local municipalities would directly receive 75% of the funds and only 25% would go towards regional priorities. For the District, this would mean an approximate increase of $150,000 in annual funding from the Gas Tax Agreement.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Taxes and Local Governments

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has just released a report on municipal tax trends with respect to business taxpayers in British Columbia stating that local governments operating expenses are too high in proportion to two factors: population and inflation growth. Business organizations have been lobbying the provincial government for some time to pressure local governments to reduce fiscal 'burden' on business and to introduce legislation, in fact, to do exactly that.

The Union of BC Municipalities has responded that the cost of local government is increasing but for good reasons. All local governments are dealing with an infrastructure deficit. Communities have deferred capital improvements for years in order to keep tax increases down, but can no longer afford to do so. Municipalities are also faced with increasing standards for things like water treatment, wastewater treatment and climate action. The majority of British Columbians agree with these higher standards – we want clean, healthy, sustainable communities, but better standards come at a higher cost. In addition, local governments have faced increasing pressure to take on new responsibilities in areas such as affordable housing or homelessness. Expansion of service also comes at a cost, in fact new costs.

From my perspective, CFIB is missing the point altogether. I am a pro-business individual. I believe that business, especially small business, has the innovative force to create progress, change and a better quality of life. However, CFIB has the wrong target. First of all, local government is the only government legislated to balance its budget. We cannot run a deficit and if, for some reason, it happens that municipalities cannot balance their books, there are dire consequences. The business community needs to ask why the federal and provincial governments are allowed to run a deficit. This creates a vicious cycle whereas more money is needed to cover the deficit and more taxes are raised to do so. For every 100$ collected in taxes by the three levels of government, $92 go to the federal and provincial governments and only $8 to local governments. And will get worse. Is it too much to ask for better accountability at the higher levels of government?

Your local government would love to fix your roads, give you the best water systems in the world, and be green in all things, but how can it do that if the money is getting less and less? Let's do the math again: federal and provincial governments are taking more money from the taxpayers and yet downloading more responsibilities to local governments, and they do that by legislation. In addition, they can run a deficit. A triple dip at the expense of the taxpayer (there is only one in my books) and to the immediate services you need.

The District of Lake Country has an infrastructure deficit of about $120 million. If we do not do anything about it, our infrastructure will deteriorate more and more. It is already happening and it will become unsustainable in less than 20 years. The taxpayer needs to understand this and make some choices. The taxpayer also needs to ask the hard questions to the other levels of government, not just their local government.

Local governments are open, transparent and accountable. Many of our employees are taxpayers in their own right as well. They are hard workers. Our budget is discussed and adopted in public meetings. But most important, we are regulated in all we do.

I agree that the tax burden has become difficult but all need to work together for a better system. To only blame local government is not constructive and could have serious consequences for the future of our communities and upcoming generations.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lake Country's Community Family Christmas!

Come out and enjoy the warmth of the season with your friends and family!

This Saturday, December 4th from 12 noon to 3 p.m. Santa's Craft Shop will be taking place at the Community Complex. Everyone is invited to take part in this annual event for the community. Bring your kids, grandkids or neighbour kids and spend some quality time together doing Christmas crafts, decorating cookies or just the seasons activities. Our wonderful comunity student helpers have been very busy preparing all the exciting new crafts for this year.

AND Santa arrives at 1:30 p.m.!
This event is provided FREE by Lake Country Leisure Services.

Stick around after making your crafts with Santa and enjoy the Christmas Light-up from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Memorial Park. Just a hope skip and a jump down the road...well, more just a skip really. There will be a bonfire, free hotdogs, coffee, hot chocolate and of course great entertainment. Another Lake Country Lions Club community project!

On Sunday, December 12th bring the whole family out and enjoy a festive skating afternoon for free at the Winfield Arena. Skate with Santa from 3 to 4 p.m.

If you have any questions or need more information on any of these events our Leisure Services Coordinator can be reached at 250.766.1485.

Hope to see everyone there!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Let it snow let it snow!

Snow Removal Update and Information

When it snows we understand that everyone hopes their road will be plowed first but the District must follow established service routes according to priority in order to complete District-wide snow removal for all roads in an efficient effective manner.

Who to Call

Regular Office Hours

Engineering Department (250) 766-6677

Customer Service Centre (250) 766-5650

email to

After Office Hours Snow Related
Contractor’s dispatch office at 1-866-353-3136

After Hours Non–Snow Related

Roads Duty Pager at 250-317-9780

Highway 97 Problems
Argo Maintenance (under Ministry of Transportation contract) at (250) 766-3970.

Make sure to provide the following information so we can track the call and respond to service requests.

Phone number
Specific location or address
Time of event (if applicable)
Other details if required
Would you like to receive a call back.

Roadside Parking
Snow accumulations can be a real challenge. Roadside parking can significantly hamper snow-clearing efforts, particularly on the narrower side roads. In our conversations with residents, we are asking that they do their best to leave as much room for the plows as possible on the side roads.

Removing Snow from your Driveway
We wish to remind all residents and businesses that snow removed from private drives, walks and parking lots is to be kept on private land and not pushed into the public roadway.

The District’s Snow-Clearing Priorities
Collector roads, school bus and transit routes and steep roads take priority over all other roads in the District. During a period of active snowfall, the contractor will remain on these priority routes to keep them cleared.

All local roads will be serviced once the main roads are cleared and have a reasonable chance of staying cleared. Many local roads are plowed at the same time that the hills are done, whenever it is practical and sensible to do so.

Local roads that are generally flat are the lowest priority. These frequently will not be serviced until the end of a snow event, as repeat-clearing of higher-priority roads during active snowfall takes precedence.

In most cases, local routes can expect to receive service within 48 hours of the end of the snow event.The goal of the snow removal program is to maintain the roads in a passable condition, which does not necessarily mean “bare pavement”. In certain conditions, the application of sand over compact snow will be performed.

On busy routes, traffic works salt and/or sand into the snow, breaking it up and causing the roads to clear with use. Many District roads do not see sufficient traffic to achieve this effect, and a certain amount of compact snow on the road surface is to be expected. Salt application is ineffective below -6C.

Make sure to drive safe out there! Here are some helpful tips from ICBC for driving in the winter conditions!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Boil Water Notice Downgraded


The District in conjunction with Interior Health has downgraded the Boil Water Notice back to a Water Quality Advisory for customers’ west of Camp and Davidson Road intersection to Okanagan Lake.

The water main repair was completed on Camp Road on November 16, 2010 and the water quality has returned to a turbidity index “FAIR” rating. All bacterial testing results and disinfection (chlorine) levels are satisfactory. Please refer to the Interior Health Authority for further details on their Turbidity Education and Notification Campaign (250)868-7835.

What does a FAIR rating mean?

A fair warning means that some customers should be careful when ingesting the water.

Who should be careful?

The following customers should be careful when ingesting the water:

· Children

· The elderly

· People with weakened immune systems

What should these customers do?

For these customers, water intended for the following uses should be boiled for one minute:

· Drinking

· Washing fruits and vegetables

· Making beverages or ice

· Brushing teeth

· Run cold water systems for five (5) minutes to flush their household plumbing

We appreciate your cooperation and patience during this time. If you have any questions, please contact the District at 250-766-6677

Greg Buchholz

Operations Manager

Council Highlights November 16th

New RCMP Members

Sgt. Rick McIsaac, who is starting his 3rd year as Sgt. in Lake Country, introduced Cst. Rosanne Vandenbilche, the new School Liaison Officer and Cpl. Tess Guay, the new Patrol Supervisor. Cst. Vandenbilche is focusing all of her time on our local schools; morning and afternoons at the elementary schools and lunch hours at GESS. She gets to know the students, does traffic patrol, presentations to students, gets involved in many of the school groups such as Parents Advisory Committee and the Safe School Committee and generally makes sure there is an RCMP presence at the schools. Cpl. Tess Guay is Lake Country’s new Patrol Supervisor who just started in August 2010, and has been a considerable asset to the detachment. Many thanks to our local RCMP for all their hard work and we hope to hear more updates from them on emerging issues in the community.

A Selfless Act

The Governor General's Certificate of Commendation Award will be presented to Mr. Steve Swetlishoft at the December 7th Regular Council Meeting for Mr. Swetlishoft’s selfless actions in rescuing a man who had fallen through the ice last winter. Click here to view the full news release.

Tis the Season!

Bring your kids, your neighbour’s kids, your grandkids, your neighbour’s grandkids (with their permission of course) and take part in Santa’s Craft Shop on December 4th from noon to 3 p.m. Stick around after to enjoy the Christmas Light-Up from 3 to 5 p.m. Goodies and hot chocolate will make the evening a fun family treat! Click here for more info!

A Zip Line in Oyama! (TP2010-001)

After a very lengthy discussion Council approved a Temporary Use Permit for the installation of a Zip Line recreational facility on Oyama Lake Road. Before going ahead, the applicants have a lot of work to do! The Temporary Use Permit is subject to receiving other permits such as development permits, septic discharges, and an approved water supply source. The facility will be absolutely no-smoking to ensure fire safety and environmental impacts will be minimized to make sure the people using the zip line enjoy the natural scenery of the area. A new innovative idea coming to the community of Lake Country!

Photo Contest

The winners of the Photo Contest were announced! Over 240 entries were received and shortlisted to the top 14. Click here to view the winning pictures! And keep your eye out for new photos that will be used in District documents and posted on the web. Thanks to all the businesses that donated prizes and congrats to the prize winners!

1st: Jose Larochelle $300 cash & $100 gift certificate for Lake Country Builders Mart;

2nd: Conny Gregori $200 cash & Ex Nihilo Vineyards Private Tasting ($160 value);

3rd: Conny Gregori $80 cash & $100 gift certificate for Lake Country Builders Mart;

4th: Rawsthorne $50 cash;

5th: Chrissie Cole $20 cash.

BC Hydro Improved Service to Lake Country

Mr. Dag Sharman is the Community Relations Manager for BC Hydro and will be Lake Country’s primary contact for emergencies, community projects or any issues that arise. He gave a brief presentation on some of BC Hydro’s current initiatives including the growing electricity needs, the clean energy strategy and BC Hydro’s commitment to be electricity self-sufficient by 2016. In regards to improving the service to Lake Country and future projects that will increase reliability and capacity, two of the four lines to Lake Country from Vernon will be upgraded from 12kv to 25kV. In addition power will soon be fed from Fortis’ new Duck Lake substation under agreement between BC Hydro and Fortis. Click here for the full presentation. Upgrades to be completed by next winter!

Corporate Business Plan for 2011-2015

Council approved the Corporate Business Plan which provides a general direction and the tools needed to accomplish the vision of Mayor and Council, based on their priorities and general vision. It includes the Corporate Mission Statement and the Corporate Values, which represent the foundation of our business culture. The Plan is structured to include a profile of the organization, a description of its services and the major accomplishments realized since incorporation. It then provides the Corporation and Departmental main priorities and their financial implications with the intent to facilitate the Corporate Budget Process and 5-Year Financial Plan. Click here to view the Corporate Business Plan.

Okanagan Transit Advisory Committee

That District will be participating in an Okanagan Transit Advisory Committee along with Kelowna, Vernon, West Kelowna, Peachland and the RDCO. Because the transit system in the Okanagan continues to grow, it becomes more complex and the governance is becoming increasing challenging under the current model. The committee, which was modeled after a similar committee in the Fraser Valley, will make recommendations to Councils and provide a coordinated approach on transit issues such as service changes, fares, improvements, efficiencies, funding and governance. Mayor Baker was appointed as the Lake Country representative and Councillor Guenther was appointed as the alternate.

Lake Country Flag

The concept of a District flag to be used at events like UBCM, SILGA and other ceremonial events, was originally brought to Council in March. From there it was forwarded to the Public Art Advisory Commission (PAAC) for help in developing the flag and enlisting the support of youth in doing so. The flag that was proposed in a tight timeline to be ready for UBCM was met with some resistance and Council felt more community and youth input was needed. Last night Council approved a new process suggested by PAAC, which includes 4 phases that will engage the public for ideas, compile and shortlist the submissions and hire a graphic artist to complete the final version of the flag. $2,000 was allotted to cover the costs of the honorariums and the graphic artist.

Water Master Plan

A huge step forward towards the Water Master Plan but there is still a long way to go! Council endorsed Water Master Plan Option 2 as the preferred water quality improvement option and directed staff to evaluate the details and begin preparing a financial strategy. The Water Master Plan is intended to set the District’s direction for water servicing in the community for decades to come. IHA has requested the plan be done and Mould Engineering was hired to help complete the updated plan. The initial work plan began in the summer of 2009 and in June 2010 the WSAC reviewed and endorsed the 4 short listed options. Click here to view the complete report that went to Council.

The New Communication Era

This is self-explanatory. Enjoy it!

What Leader Are You?

This week I had the pleasure to participate to the “Building Sustainable Communities” conference organized by the Fresh Outlook Foundation in Kelowna. The Conference was extremely interesting and varied, something that has become rare in these occasions. There were a number of courageous moves by the organizer on the variety of subjects offered to the delegates. First of all there were 130 speakers. This is something that other organizers would tell is a bit ambitious and could create some headaches. But it worked. However, the most courageous move, for me, was to see that one of the workshops was about spirituality and its connection to sustainability. Actually spirituality and religion. It was very refreshing to see that, in a world of aseptic politically correct topic delivery, the delegates were given an opportunity for real debate. It turned out to be one of the best well attended sessions and I did not see any ‘fireworks’ going on. The content was also very interesting and presented in a professional, scientific manner. Joanne De Vries, the organizer, had a lot of courage to stand and introduce the speaker by validating her personal Christian belief and, at the same time, the openness to other spiritual ideas. I have written many times, in my blog, about the balance you need to have in life in four areas of renewal: physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual. So, I was extremely pleased when I was given the opportunity to choose something different at the conference.


All this made me reflect on the type of leaders we are. Joanne is certainly a leader. She takes action and she is not afraid to take a stance or to stand for what she believes. Some leaders are content oriented, they are focussed on the message and put a lot of value on the strength of what they propose. They believe that the message itself carries the strength to gain momentum and gather support. Other leaders are action oriented, they take the initiative because they believe in the message and desire that others could see it that way. Their message could change and their ideas evolve. I would suggest that a true leader has a holistic approach to life and sees all its facets. A true leader is also someone who sees things as they should be by valuing what they are. And you? What kind of leader are you?


I wish to share a video that may help you decide and act accordingly. Enjoy it!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Corporate Business Plan

I am pleased to present my first Corporate Business Plan as the new Chief Administrative Officer of the District of Lake Country to Council, the Public and all Staff.

Since beginning with the District in November 2009, I have had an opportunity to observe the District’s operations and decision-making practices and policies and I have been able to identify some strategies for the organization that should be able to drive Lake Country through a prosperous and sustainable future with the support of Council, Staff and the Community.

Council and Senior Staff went through a prioritizing process and identified a number of initiatives that need to be addressed and tackled in the next few months. The top five priorities are:

The completion of our Water Master Plan. This is very timely also in view of recent drought initiatives and conservation needs.

The creation of a Transportation Action Plan, in order to address the need for more sidewalks and road improvements and determine a number of solutions to pedestrian and alternative mobility in the District.

The creation of a plan for the development of our Town Centre. This will try to assist landowners and developers in bringing mixed commercial-residential on Main Street.

The creation of a Community Brand, which will help Lake Country to be identified easily and will assist businesses in the area to foster investment and spending in our community.

The exploration and possible creation of an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan. This is considered a foundational document with a high level of engagement of community members and would provide the vision for Lake Country in the areas of Environment, Social Development, Economic Development, and Land Use Development, including long term infrastructure needs.

From an organizational perspective, we will work on instilling a culture of Customer Service but also a ‘Can Do’ attitude with an eye at providing solutions for our residents or working with them to find solutions to their needs. We will also work on a strategic based Budget Process, tied to this document and based on the goals and objectives of Council.

Our commitment is reflected in the expectation that Lake Country will be a regional leader in the provision of the best quality of life in the region and the province.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Water Main Break

There was a water main break early this morning in Okanagan Centre, near Davidson and Camp Roads. Crews are working and will hopefully have water service restored by this afternoon.

A Water Service Interruption due to a water main break and Boil Water Notice have been issued for users in the vicinity of Okanagan Centre area. Effected customers include users west of Camp Road and Davidson Road intersection to Okanagan Lake.

The District of Lake Country in conjunction with Interior Health has issued a BOIL WATER NOTICE for these customers. Service is expected to be resumed by late afternoon. However, the Boil Water Notice will remain in effect until water is deemed safe and a Boil Water Rescind Notice is issued.

The District of Lake Country and Interior Health recommend that ALL customers in the affected area drink boiled water or a safe alternative. Water intended for drinking, washing fruits and vegetables, making beverages or ice, or brushing teeth should be boiled for one minute. Boiled water should then be refrigerated in a clean, covered container. Customers could also choose to use bottled or distilled water, or water that has been filtered through a well-maintained treatment device.

In accordance with Interior Health requirements, owners of all public facilities must post “Boil Water Notices” at all sinks or drinking water fountains accessible to the public. We appreciate your cooperation and patience during this time.

If you have any questions, please contact Greg Buchholz, Operations Manager, 250-766-6677 e-mail:

Monday, November 15, 2010


The Central Okanagan Community Gardens (COCG) Society recently received a grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation for the purchase and installation of an art piece in one of their 8 community gardens in the Okanagan.  The Sol Art piece by Ed Goodon will be installed in the Winfield Community Garden which is located at 11187 Bottom Wood Lake Road on Monday, November 15th at 11:30 a.m.

The art piece, by Ed Goodon of Vernon, is a large metal carrot with a collection of gardening tools as the meat of the carrot.   The Sol’ Art will become part of the District of Lake Country’s Public Art Collection.

The Kelowna District Society for Community Living (KDSCL) assisted with the preparation of the site and will help with an addition to the art piece in the spring.  The COCG will continue to apply to the Central Okanagan Foundation for grants to continue to add art pieces to the other 8 community gardens. The COCG is a non-profit society that works with local governments to develop and maintain community gardens with a mission to promote sustainable green spaces, community activities and fun educational opportunities.

Lake Country’s community garden was created in 2005 on land provided by Paul and Judy Shoemaker. The Winfield garden offers 40 large plots of varying sizes at the cost of fifteen dollars/season (March to November) to help cover the cost of the garden’s upkeep. A shed, tools, water access and compost bins are supplied and now art will be incorporated into the garden design!

For more information contact:

District of Lake Country: Steve Schaffrick, Director of Parks and Recreation, Phone: 250-766-6670 Email

Central Okanagan Community Gardens: Bob McCoubrey Phone: (250)766-4406

SOL Art information: Roxana Adams Phone: (250)548-3477 Email:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Award for Selfless Actions

At the December 7th Regular Council meeting Mayor Baker will present Mr. Steve Swetlishoft with the Certificate of Commendation awarded by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, in recognition of the rescue of a man who had fallen through the ice on Wood Lake on March 27, 2009.

A survivor’s story:

(Summarized from the Lake Country Calendar article “A survivor’s story” Published April 7, 2009 by Roger Knox)

Peter Gallant, 60, from Vernon, credits the efforts of three fellow Wood Lake ice fishermen he knows only by first names – Steve, Grant and Klaus – for pulling him from the frigid lake after he and a fellow fisherman named Elmer, 70, fell through the ice while walking out from the shore to a pre dug hole shortly after 6 a.m.

Gallant and Elmer met on the beach of Wood Lake at 5:55 a.m. The pair had been fishing the day before, when the ice was approximately 9 inches think. They had not heard that two fishermen fell through some ice somewhere else on the lake, but pulled themselves to safety.

After jumping from the beach onto the ice, checking its thickness, Gallant and Elmer headed to a pre-cut hole. Normally they would go about an eighth of a mile off shore. That day, they had gone only 200 yards when, without warning, the ice gave out beneath their feet. It was 6:05 a.m. and still dark.

Gallant sank in the water up to his chest. Elmer, not wearing a flotation device, went under the water.

“I grabbed my pail and took out my axe, and punched a hole in the ice to hang on to,” Gallant said. “Elmer came back up and grabbed my left arm. I told him not to panic and he let go. That was it.”

“He was behind me and I kept yelling at him, but heard nothing. I kept yelling for help.”

Hearing the distress cries was Steve, from Oyama, who came running to the beach, and he told two guys sitting in a truck drinking coffee to dial 911. Steve came out onto the ice to give Gallant a hand, but was told by the calm fisherman to go back, saying one man had already been lost, he didn’t’ want to lose another.

Grant, from Armstrong, found an old bench on the beach, turned it upside down and pushed it along the ice out to Gallant. Steve and Klaus, from Vernon, came back with a rope that had a ball on the end, tossed it to Gallant, and pulled him from the water. It was now, in Gallant’s estimation, 6:50 a.m.

Just as Gallant was being helped off the ice, rescue services arrived and headed out to where Elmer had fallen through. Elmer was found and emergency personnel worked on him, said Gallant, for an hour, but Elmer could not be revived.

“My condolences go out to his family,” said Gallant, eternally grateful to the efforts of the three fellow fishing enthusiasts, a trio he knows from time spent on Wood Lake. “I just want to say thanks to them. I’d have done the same thing for them.”

Mr. Swetlishoft’s selfless actions are an inspiration to others and represent a high form of citizen ship of which we can all be very proud. We wish to extend our warmest congratulations to Mr. Swetlishoft.

Certificates of Commendation awarded to Mr. Grant Grills and Klaus Koch will be presented to them at a future date in their respective towns.

The Certificate of Commendation is issued to those who have made significant contribution by providing assistance to another person in a selfless manner. The Certificate is signed by the Governor General and is intended for eligible candidates whose actions are deemed notable by the Canadian Decorations Advisory Committee. The Commendation is not automatic; eligible candidates are selected through a voting process.

For more information contact: Mayor Baker, Phone: 250-766-6670 Email

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lake Country Council Meeting Highlights November 2, 2010

Community Branding Project

The Community Branding project is generating a great deal of community interest! A poll was recently posted the District website asking people to select their preferred option of a logo and tagline. We received over 100 responses, our most popular poll to date. Thanks to everyone for their comments. All of the input gathered so far, from the poll, open house and others from the community, will be forwarded to the consultants, Zappworxx, for review and tabulation of the results. You are welcome to continue to submit your comments and we will accommodate them to the best of our abilities within the project timelines. Send them to, drop them off or give us a call. We hope the new brand will be original, creative and put Lake Country on the map.

Land Development

Zoning Amendment for a property located on Bond Road and owned by Jeff Oland was given third reading and will be adopted at the next Council Meeting on November 16th. The owner wishes to subdivide his land into four lots and the new zoning is for rural residential. A map change to a development at the Lakes was also given third reading. However, Council asked staff to make sure that the single width lanes in the area don’t cause any safety, parking, snow removal or emergency vehicle problems.

Open Air Performances

Grant Lawrence, founder, president and organizer of Open Air Performances, presented the highlights of the 2010 season and announced that they were awarded the Lake Country Chamber of Commerce Annual Business Licence Excellence Award in the category of Community Contributor! The 2010 performance season had 9 concerts, 21 acts and 86 performances with attendance increasing to over 1,500 people. The CAO suggested that staff discuss opportunities with the Economic Planning & Development Committee (EPDC) and the Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee to help make sure these events not only continue but prosper.

Budget Process Guidelines

Council approved and commended the budget guidelines and timelines presented in the report from the CAO and Chief Financial Officer. Council had requested that the budget process be more ‘on time’ and approved sooner rather than later. The Financial Plan Schedule attached to the report proposes reasonable timelines for preparation, discussion and meeting mandatory requirements. Some of the upcoming steps are the review and approval of the Corporate Business Plan by November 16th and the first draft budget by December 5th.

Transit Master Plan

Michelle Orfield, Senior Urban Transportation Planner outlined the proposed Transit Master Plan for the community including future plan development. Council pointed out that there is a huge demand and necessity for transit in the community for all residents. More public consultation will be held by BC Transit in regards to the Transit Master Plan during the weeks of November 29th and December 6th and BC Transit will be making another presentation to Council on November 16th to specifically address some the local service area issues that have been voiced by many residents in the community.

Fire Department Quarterly Report

The Fire Chief presented the Fire Department statistics for the 2010 3rd quarter. For full details check out the presentation in the Agenda package. In a nutshell, the Fire Department managed to get in a lot of valuable training this year mostly because of the great weather. They also continued to attend many of the local schools and promote the fire prevention programs which are always a huge hit and a great benefit to the community

Neighbourhood Park Development Policy

This policy was developed to encourage community groups to rally together and help develop neighbourhood parks in their communities. The policy provides a framework for creating the parks making it easier for both residents and the District to move forward in developing the park design. Council greatly appreciated the policy and adopted a slightly amended version to make sure that the neighbourhood parks are all inclusive and meet accessibility standards for impaired residents.

Increasing Reservoir Levels

The report from Summit Environmental Consultants on the environmental impacts and costs associated with increasing the reservoir levels at Swalwell, Crooked and Oyama Lakes was endorsed by Council. There is a great deal of work still to be done and recommendations will be brought forward in the Water Master Plan for Council to consider.

Future of Grade 7’s in Lake Country Schools

Anna Hunt Binkley, Lake Country’s SD Trustee, will tentatively be at the December 7th Council meeting to talk about the future of grade 7’s in Lake Country. There was a recent announcement that full day kindergarten will now be offered in all public schools in BC by September 2011 which results in some significant space demands. One of the suggested options for addressing this issue is reconfiguring GESS to accommodate grade 7s.

Photo Contest

The District recently put out a request for help in creating an image bank that will be used in the marketing and promotion of Lake Country. We received over 240 entries of stunning, creative photos in the community. What a great result! The EPDC shortlisted the top 14 photos which will be voted on by Council and the top 6 photos will be announced and awarded prices at the November 16th Council meeting! First Prize - $300 cash & $100 gift certificate for Lake Country Builders Mart; Second Prize – $200 cash & Ex Nihilo Vineyards Private Tasting ($160 value); Third Prize – $80 cash & $100 gift certificate for Lake Country Builders Mart; Fourth Prize – $50 cash; Fifth Prize - $20 cash. Here’s a sneak peak at some of the 14 that were selected.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Branding: To Be or Not To Be?

When it comes to local government activities such as branding or marketing, different stakeholders have different ideas and are very passionate about those ideas. It has been apparent throughout the branding process taken by the District of Lake Country. From a local newspaper to a radio show, from stakeholders and citizens, many have provided input and different opinions regarding both the product and the process. I have to say to all, though that we do not have a product yet and certainly the process is not over either.

Just to remind all how this came about, the District of Lake Country has received some money and a deadline from the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association and the provincial government to create a community brand and branding strategy and the Council decided to assign the task to lead this project to the Economic Planning & Development Committee. The Committee is following a typical path that is very well established when it comes to these projects, which can be summarized as follows:

  • Establish Terms of Reference for the project, including criteria for selection and a budget;
  • Issue a general call for Requests for Proposal for consultants willing to take on the project, within the budget and timeframe established by the Committee and the funding organization;
  • Receive the proposals and review them against the set criteria, and finally shortlist to those that more aptly would be able to deliver the job on time, on budget, but especially, with the best end product;
  • Select the consultant among those shortlisted and recommend to Council that the project be awarded to him/her;
  • Work with the consultant to deliver the final products.

The Committee has completed the first four tasks and is in the middle of acting on the last one, which will end with the final product being delivered and approved by Council.

The final product is twofold: 1) a logo and tagline representing the visual brand of the community; and 2) a plan to implement and make the brand successful. As this is a community branding exercise, which is funded by the regional tourism association, it is necessary that both the process and the final product be wide enough to have a strong community component but also a strong flexibility that would allow wide marketability by the tourism industry in the area. I would go a step further to say that it should also versatile enough to serve the business community in general and other activities, areas, and organizations within Lake Country.

The budget is limited to $22,000 of which half come from Tourism BC through the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, and the deadline for completion of the project is March 31st, 2011. Both of these factors are somewhat limitative to the project. It is my experience that a firm like the one we hired to do this, would probably charge in the range of $50,000 to $75,000, and that it would usually take a good 12 months to complete and deliver. Notwithstanding the limitations, which should be taken into account when it comes to process, the consultant and the District have been working hard to:

  • Complete a discovery stage of the community, which, by its nature involved a limited number of stakeholders representatives. The one-day session included representatives of the students from George Elliott Secondary School, the Agricultural Advisory Committee, the Chamber of Commerce, the Tourism Committee, the Economic Planning & Development Committee, Council, and the Public Arts Advisory Committee;
  • Issue a Public Survey and hold a Public Open House to get feedback on some very conceptual logo and taglines, which would help the consultants to work on producing some more definite ideas; and
  • Have photo contest with the idea to create an image database for the benefit of the implementation phase of the branding strategy. A selection of the best will be awarded some prizes made available through the generosity of a number of local businesses.

We had many positive comments about the process, the public involvement, even the very draft logos and taglines. But we also had some negative and some very negative comments. I am not surprised and it is part of the process. That is why we have a process and why we have an open mind until the final outcome is laid out for all of us to see. Some comments were not constructive at all, in fact, I believe, inappropriate. Others were very constructive and valuable, even if designs and taglines were not liked. More stakeholders will be involved and more ideas tossed around. In the end, I believe that although we may not all be happy with the final product, it will further create a sense of belonging and an opportunity to clearly identify Lake Country whenever we interact with others. And the fresh cookies will not feel stale.