Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fire Protection in Lake Country gets 'thumbs up" and other good things happening

The Fire Underwriters Survey (FUS) is a national organization that provides data on public fire protection for fire insurance statistical work and underwriting purposes of subscribing insurance companies. Subscribers of Fire Underwriters Survey represent approximately 85 percent of the private sector property and casualty insurers in Canada. FUS conducted an assessment of each area of Lake Country 'fire defenses'and found our fire services to be in very good shape.

Business Licenses in the District have maintained steady notwithstanding a bad 2009 in terms of economic growth. The number of full licensed business in 2008 was 638 and in 2009 621. This seems to indicate that businesses in Lake Country have developed the necessary resiliency to overcome the difficulties of the recession/depression. The District hopes to work with the Chamber of Commerce, through its newly formed Economic Planning & Development Committee, to increase those numbers and attract good quality business to our community.

Council will hold a Regular Meeting on May 4th. The new OCP bylaw will be discussed with the intent to give first reading to the bylaw and send it to Public Hearing, which will provide the District with feedback from the public. The Budget/5-Year Financial Plan will also be submitted to Council along with the Tax rate bylaw to conclude the 2010 budget cycle. The tax increase is 3.48% or about $9.5 for every $100,000 of assessed value of our property. The average assessment in the District is $502,000. If you have a property assessed at that value then your increase will be a total of about $48 for the whole property.

Kate Berniaz, our resident intern, has completed her internship and had a baby boy just last week. She has done a great job for us and we wish all the best for her in all of her future endeavours, including and especially that of mom.

Finally, Council members are participating to the annual Southern Interior Local Government Association, a chapter of the Union of BC Municipalities. During the conference, members will discuss many resolutions in preparation of the annual UBCM conference in September and also discuss issues and potential solutions for a number of matters. The Water Simplification Act draft legislation will be a hot topic that we are going to observe very closely.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Drought Management in Lake Country

Our new Operations Manager, Greg Buchholz has just finished the District's Drought Management Strategy. I found the document and the points very interesting and useful. Please take the time to review the whole document, which will be posted online in the next few days at In the meantime, I have a couple of paragraphs from the document in this blog entry.

"Snow pack levels are down across the province, sparking concerns that drought conditions may arise later in the year for many regions. The Province and various stakeholder groups are taking action in the form of education and drought management preparation workshops.

At the end of March, the snow pack feeding the upper level lakes upon which the District relies for its water supply was approximately 74% of normal. Oyama Lake is currently 10% lower than normal for this time of year while Swalwell (Beaver) Lake is at normal levels.

Based on experience, District Operations project that Swalwell Lake will reach or approach full pool subsequent to freshet, but Oyama Lake will not.

It is prudent to take early proactive action to safeguard against longer-term water shortages. The key is to prevent problems from arising, as opposed to having to take large-scale actions after water storage has diminished to perilous levels.

Water conservation and drought preparedness are interrelated and our best tool to manage potential water shortages as a reactionary measure is demand side management. The following point-form list details our drought preparedness/water conservation action plan for 2010.
1) Check agricultural irrigation dole valves and measure actual consumption rates to ensure water usage matches allotments. Work will be performed by water operations staff as part of their regular duties. Cooperative follow up with farmers to rectify any issues and help educate will be an integral part of this task.
2) Improve on existing protocols for ongoing water supply turn on/offs on the Oyama Lake source to better control demands as a shared resource.
3) Enforce water regulations per District bylaws to ensure negligent water use is not occurring. Every effort will be made to educate and cooperate with water users to achieve voluntary compliance.
4) Monitor supply status on a continuing basis and keep water users informed through the District website and special means (advertisements, brochures) as necessary.
5) Public outreach and education. Perform field audits and monitoring of residential neighbourhoods. Provide educational materials to water users found watering during restricted times or in an improper fashion.
6) Oyama Lake Supply Irrigation Allotment. Provide early notification to farmers of potential reduction in the number of watering days, from 120 to 110. Provide updates over time as information becomes available or the situation changes."


Monday, April 12, 2010

"Fish Stuff" on Wood Lake and Okanagan Lake

I was copied on the following e-mail and thought it may be of interest to some.

Good Morning Mayor Baker (James),

Re: An Appeal for Volunteers Interested in Helping with "Fish Stuff" on Wood and/or Okanagan Lake - > Boat counts and creel survey

I thought the following might be of some practical interest to you and perhaps, to some others, in the District of Lake Country.

Wood Lake, because of the efforts of volunteer community stewards, including residents like yourself and others, over the past 30 or more years, has now become a "preferred" angler destination, mostly for Kokanee. In 2003, a Lake Country Calendar article estimated that the annual contribution to the "local" Lake Country economy from the Wood Lake Kokanee fishery was $250,000 - $350,000/year. "We" can safely say that annual economic contribution is considerably higher in 2010.

A Little Background Trivia...should you be asked:
Winfield Creek, Middle Vernon Creek (MVC) and Upper Vernon Creek (UVC) are "nursery" streams for Wood Lake Kokanee. Recall that in 1983, before the Oceola Fish & Game Club(OFGC) volunteer lead Kokanee incubator enhancements kicked in, the "official" Kokanee stream spawner count in Middle Vernon Creek (MVC) was (9) nine fish... Last fall's Kokanee stream spawner count in MVC was around 5,000...down from previous years, mostly because of beaver damming and re-damming activity above Beaver Lake Road, preventing access for successful Kokanee stream spawning in upstream sections of MVC and UVC...

Any help you provide, to help "us" to focus on this "appeal", will be genuinely appreciated.

Rick Simpson.

Good Afternoon, All,
Re: An Appeal for Volunteers Interested in Helping with "Fish Stuff" on Wood Lake & Okanagan Lake - > Boat counts and creel survey

For those "fishy" people interested in helping out with Wood Lake, in particular, and/or Okanagan Lake, please see the following Email from Dr. Paul Askey, MOE Fisheries, Penticton asking for our help.If you are interested in participating, please contact me for additional details.

Paul is looking at starting this fishing observation and counting initiative in May 2010 on a pilot basis to see how it goes. For those people interested in general background information on a "creel" survey, please refer to: Module # 13 Creel The Streamkeepers Handbook: A Practical Guide to Stream & Wetland Care.
See: I look forward to hearing from those people, particularly regular anglers, who might be interested.

Thanks for your help.
Rick Simpson
volunteer chair, fisheries committee, Oceola Fish & Game Club, Winfield, BC

Hi Rick,

Re: Boat counts and creel survey

I am looking for help to estimates of angler effort and catch rates on Wood and Okanagan Lakes this year. I was hoping we may be able to collaborate with clubs in the area on this. Potential ways to help are:
1) Club members provide boat counts for Wood Lake. I have set series of standard weekend days over the summer when flights normally occur. I would like to replace those flights with ground based counts (with binoculars).
2) Angler surveys. Interview anglers at boat launches and take catch and fish data. This is a bit trickier, requires some training and commitment to ensure data quality. I would only like one or two individuals to work with on this to provide consistency and quality of data. There would be a minimum commitment of 6 survey days to make it worthwhile. I would get Jason Webster (Chara Consulting Ltd., Vernon) to train the person(s).
3) Funding.
I will be able to provide some creel coverage of Wood Lake because of Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) funds and student involvement. However, I am still waiting for a response on funds to cover Okanagan this year. If there is any available funding with the clubs we would put this directly to fishery monitoring on Okanagan or supplementing Wood. Feel free to call me to discuss this further.
Paul Askey, Ph.D.
Stock Assessment Biologist – Okanagan Region
102 Industrial Place
Penticton, B.C.
V2A 7C8
Tel: (250) 490-8267
Fax: (250) 490-2231

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Something worth noting

If you are interested in the future of transit in our area and region, and you should be, there will be a Master Plan Open House on Friday, April 9 from 10am to 3pm at the Orchard Park Mall. Here's your opportunity to contribute to the future of sustainable transportation in the Central Okanagan. Attend and say what you think.

Here's something that is required by law but often overlooked by the taxpayers. Under the requirements of provincial law, the District of Lake Country will be holding a Review Panel in regard to parcel tax assessment rolls. Notices were mailed out to registered owners of properties being added to an assessment roll. In addition, a notice has been published in the community paper advising of the parcel tax review panel date. In order to address any issues, the District must receive a written notice of any complaints before 4:30pm on Friday, April 16, 2010. The correspondence should be addressed to the attention of the Collector. The Panel meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 21, 2010, in the Council Chambers at the Municipal Hall. Finally, the parcel tax assessment rolls are available for public inspection at Municipal Hall during regular office hours, from 8:30am to 4:30pm.

As society is becoming more 'senior', age-friendly communities projects are becoming a need. The District has received a grant of almost $20,000 from the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM)to study and plan for age-friendly communities. This grant program is funded through the Seniors' Housing and Support Initiative in partnership with the provincial government. The District will use the grant to study housing and social participation of seniors within the community to develop age-friendly social and physical design guidelines and support zoning review and revisions for living communities. The study will be undertaken by BLUEGREEN Living Communities Inc., a local development company that promotes living communities that are supportive and sustainable. The study will be undertaken over the next 12 months and engage seniors and other members of the community with a final report to be submitted to Council with recommendations for planning and implementation.