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.



Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thought of the Week: The Time Downward Spiral

I recently read the following statement from an Anonymous writer: "Because we don't know what is really important to us, everything seems important. Because everything seems important, we have to do everything. Other people, unfortunately, see us as doing everything, so they expect us to do everything. Doing everything keeps us so busy, we don't have time to think about what is really important to us." The book where I took this statement from calls this "The Runaround Dilemma". I call it "The Downward Spiral". The two definitions may be similar for all intents and purposes. However, I see some differences.

The runaround dilemma is very clear. We get so imbued in the busy-ness of life that we lose focus and gradually, we also lose perspective. It's like running around a circle. After running so much you are assailed by a thought of loss, a sentiment that "I've been here before", in fact a feeling of desperation, which increases if we continue running around. In addition, this feeling creates a sense of un-fulfillment and lack of purpose. Without a clear course in mind, it's very easy to be swayed by everybody's opinion.

My approach to the dilemma is that, if left unattended, it will become a dangerous downward spiral. To use the words of the great German author, philosopher and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe "things which matter most must be never at the mercy of things which matter least." Time is precious. Benjamin Franklin said "Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that's the stuff life is made of." Having said all that, we should ponder over the meaning of the words "important" and "urgent" and appreciate the differences between the two. Important, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means "of much import, carrying with it serious consequences; weighty, momentous, grave, and significant." Urgent, on the other end, means "pressing, compelling; calling for or demanding immediate action; anything characterized by urgency." Too many times, we confuse important and urgent and we are lead to believe that which is urgent is always important. Nothing is so far from the truth. Certainly some urgent things are not important and so is the opposite. What do we need to do then?

First of all let's make an inventory of what is urgent and not urgent, but more so of what is important and not important. Stephen Covey put all this in a Time Matrix of 4 quadrants where the quadrants are divided according to priority. This is the quadrants' division:

  1. Important/Urgent – These are crisis we come across, pressing problems, deadline-driven projects, meetings, reports
  2. Important/Not Urgent – This is the quadrant of preparation, prevention, planning, relationship building, re-creation, and values clarification
  3. Not Important/Urgent – These are needless interruptions, unnecessary reports, unimportant meetings, some phone calls, some mail and some e-mails, and other people's minor issues
  4. Not Important/Not Urgent – Trivia, busywork, irrelevant phone calls, mail and e-mail, time-wasters, "escape" activities, excessive TV, internet and relaxation.

We can't do much about quadrant 1, especially when the boss comes in our office and asks to prepare a report for later in the afternoon. But if we spent more time in quadrant 2, many crises would be avoided and the pressing problems would really become routine. The stress, in other words, would leave space to a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. Try! If we think of firefighters and how much time they spend in quadrant 2, then we can appreciate their reaction in the face of crisis. Become the firefighter of your life. Set aside more time to plan and prepare, to create balance in your life, and the downward spiral will become a more normal journey through beautiful peaks and valleys.

To finish with a quote, Hyrum Smith stated: "When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace."


Lake Country Council Meeting Highlights

Council held its Regular Council Meeting on Tuesday, October 19th, 2010. There were a number of recommendations and reports and some important announcements that we wish to summarize for our readers.

Important Announcements

  1. The Water Bills are due October 29th. If you miss this deadline, you will be charged a 5% penalty. You can pay by coming to the Municipal Hall. One of our Customer Service Clerks will be happy to assist you.
  2. Halloween in Lake Country will be celebrated in Oyama and Beasley Park. The Oyama festivities will be held at the Oyama Community Hall from 6pm to 8pm and it will be packed with activities, hot chocolate and goodies. The Beasley Park event will be host to the Annual Fireworks and Bon Fire and will commence at 7:30pm. Come and celebrate with all of us.


Roger Bailey from the BC Fruit Growers Association, made his annual report to Council. We have learned a few interesting things. For instance, Transit busses from Vernon to Oyama were extensively used by seasonal workers during the summer harvest. Just the ones going to Roger's farm numbered 120. Fruit flies are causing some issues with our beautiful fruit. The interesting and somewhat shocking part is that mainly the problem comes from international import stocks. In other words, Canadian regulations are very strict when it comes to our own fruit being inspected and exported but very lax when it comes to fruit being imported from other countries. Hence, infested fruit from other parts of the world comes through and can be found in our supermarkets. The suggestion was made that the federal government be approached to review this issue. We think it is very important for the health of our consumers and our own grown fruit. Finally, there was some discussion on campgrounds and RV parks on agricultural land. It can be an issue as we assist to the proliferation of those throughout our orchards. On one side they can help the economy of farmers with an alternative source of income. On the other side, though, they can 'take over' pieces of productive land and create problems to the orchardist when the occupants are left unattended to use the hosting grounds. This would be a discussion for our provincial government.

Development Services Reports

Council adopted a Temporary Commercial Use permit for a property located at 15130 Highway 97, in Oyama, for a pet grooming operation. The site used to be the location for a cheesecake factory and has changed owners and activity a variety of times. The permit is good for 2 years and is subject to a renewal at its expiration for an equal period of time. The operators will now be able to obtain a business licence.

Council also discussed at length the installation of a boxwood hedge adjacent to a statutory right-of-way on Woodcreek Lane subdivision. The trail is on Vernon Creek and is a long-standing project of the District. The Strata of the subdivision was requesting that the project be delayed as the hedge is encroaching on their property and there is an obligation to maintain the buffer. They would prefer that the planting be done when the trail is constructed and that be placed on the actual right-of-way. The discussion was lively, as Council disagreed with the Strata and confirmed previous resolutions on this matter. In other words, the requirement was part of the original development permit issued to Trek Development, which developed the site. Council maintained also that the Strata members were aware of the development permit conditions at the time they purchased their property and for all this time.

The Planning Department introduced the Carbon Neutral Plan the District is working on. We will write more specifically about the plan in the next week or so and a copy of the presentation can be viewed at the following web link:

Other Reports

A Notice on Title was placed on a property located at 12796 Cliffshore Road. The property was the location of a marijuana grow operation that was busted during the summer. The concern is mainly with the conditions of the electrical system, which was modified for the purpose of the criminal activity. Mould and humidity levels are a concern, too. A Notice on Title warns all potential purchasers of the property of the building issues discovered by District inspectors.

The Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw, an initiative taken on by all municipalities in the Okanagan was approved and will provide a way to dispute contraventions to the various bylaws. More information to come as the bylaw is implemented. A Tax Exemption Bylaw was also passed in favour of the Oceola Fish & Game Club. There was a mistake made by BC Assessment that needed this Bylaw to be adopted. The Club can now continue with its activities without needing to worry for a large tax bill that had been issued to them by mistake.

Council endorsed a request from staff to hire a Strategic Services Manager. The issue of capacity and understaffing, as compared to other municipalities, came up and Council felt that they should continue with their visionary approach to strategy for the benefit of the community. Much more is added on a regular basis to staff to work on and the need for this position has become evident in the last few months with the addition of a number of functions to the already busy plate of the community and the organization. Specifically, this position will be responsible for special projects, especially grant applications, economic development, social development, public communications and social media, First Nations liaison and youth liaison. The issue of grant opportunities from other levels of government is huge for Lake Country. Much needs to be done and much is out there to be tapped into. Current resources are not sufficient to explore all the opportunities and this position will be able to do that. There will be very minimal impact on the budget in 2011. The full impact will be borne in 2012. Staff are confident that, by then, the economy will be back to full activity, as it is already showing much improvement. The new growth for this year alone will abundantly cover for the costs of the new position and more.

Finally, a grant-in-aid request from the Lake Country Food Assistance Society was approved to a maximum of $380 to cover rental fees at the Creekside Theatre on December 11th for the Lake Country Big Band Christmas Musical.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thought of the Week: Tolerance is a Strength not a Weakness

First of all, I wish to share the following thought that I received the other day. This is called a “30 seconds speech” and it was given by Bryan Dyson, former CEO of Coca Cola.

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. They are Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you are keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, wicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.”

I like the image of the rubber ball as opposed to the glass ball. It is so true. Although work is a very important part of our life, yet it is flexible, even replaceable. As difficult as it may be sometimes, a job can be found after one is lost (I know people that change their job every so often). What you cannot replace is a moment with your kids, your companion, your inner self, or taking care of yourself physically and mentally. Stephen Covey calls this ‘Sharpen the Saw’. If you do not take the time to sharpen the saw, it will become dull and eventually useless or broken. So it is with us. If we do not take care of ourselves (spiritually, mentally and physically) and our valued relationships, we will become strained, tired, and maybe ill. I don’t know of any job that is worth a break in a good relationship or an illness. So work efficiently during work hours and go home in time and spend the rest of the day doing those important things you need to do to make sure the glass balls do not fall down and break irreparably.

On another note, I came across some issues of tolerance and judgement lately, which led me to reflect on the world we live in today. I strongly believe that the cause of most of the troubles we have today in the world, in fact the major cause, is intolerance or the lack of tolerance. Think about it: all is well with us until there is argument, confrontation, or disagreement. In a nutshell, when our ideas are different and we become defensive. Although this may be more evident when different cultures confront themselves, it is something that happens on a daily basis even among people that share the same background. The sad thing is that intolerance can become a poisonous dart that effects relationships, destroys friendships, and, in the extreme, blow up into a full conflict that could degenerate in violence.

Ghandi once said: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” How true! We see this especially today when more and more lines are drawn in the sand, reasons will not listen, and we convince ourselves that we are better than others (or is that anybody else?). In other words, problems arise when there is a lack of effort or desire to understand and work on common ground rather than highlight the divisive differences that we may have.

One of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is ‘Seek First to Understand than to Be Understood’. Think about this: how many times do we become engaged in a conversation with someone and instead of really listening we are already thinking what we are going to say or how we are going to respond? Tolerance, among other things, means listening, trying to understand what the other really means, and then trying to make yourself understood. It also means valuing differences (of culture, experience, education, upbringing, etc.). It means exercising integrity. And it means acceptance. Tolerance is not a weakness; it does not mean ‘giving in’. Tolerance is a trait of strength. It means deep desire to make a difference the right way.

I wish to finish with yet another quote from Ghandi: “Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.”

Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award Gala A Success

I was invited to participate to the 8th Annual Business Excellence Award organized by the Chamber of Commerce. I have to say that I was extremely impressed with everything about the event. The venue (Grey Monk Winery), the food, the atmosphere, but, most important of all, the people.

I was enveloped by enthusiasm and mutual support. One would think that the business world is dotted with competition. Maybe so. But I found a different environment. Not one of competitiveness, but camaraderie. My impression, in other words, was that I was in the company of friends, caring for each other and happy for others' success. What a great feeling!

There were 10 awards and a whopping 137 nominations. Certainly a testament to the quality of the business community in Lake Country.

Chamber of Commerce President, Bill Clark, did an excellent job in hosting the event and being the Master Ceremony. Yvette Mawson was superb in assisting Bill with the award presentations, and each award was accompanied by loud and happy cheering. 

The event was honoured with the presence of some dignitaries. Mayor Baker represented the District of Lake Country, and MP Ron Cannan, accompanied by his wife, and MLA Norm Letnick were also present.

I believe the epitome of the evening, though, was the creation of a new award category: the Gerry Morton Award, which was presented by Peter Whiters, the Chamber's PastPresident. I met Gerry soon after I arrived in Lake Country and it is a joy to be around him. He has a great sense of humour and exudes love and passion for this community. He is a driving force. He is a leader and the Chamber showed leadership in creating an award category in his name!


Friday, October 8, 2010

Water Filtration is not the only solution

Instead of reinventing the wheels, I am publishing an article from the 'Lake Country Calendar' on this issue. If you wish to comment or if you have any questions or you wish to discuss this further, I will be happy to do so. You can contact me at

Here's the article:

"High cost makes water filtration a pipe dream, by Chris Law

As 2015 draws nearer, municipal planning staff in Okanagan communities are bracing for a potential hit to their capital works budgets. That is the year that the Health Officer is requesting water systems falling within the jurisdiction of the Interior Health Authority (IHA) to implement water filtration in their infrastructure.

At the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention last week, Lake Country met with Minister of Healthy Living, Ida Chong, to discuss the Health Officer’s request and the local concerns that the issue raises.

For Lake Country water filtration could cost anywhere from $60 million to $100 million according to Alberto De Feo, Chief Administrative Officer for the District.

“At our meeting we told the ministry that we don’t have the funding available for filtration and that we have other capital projects that are equally as important,” said De Feo.

Further complicating the matter, is the fact that other health officers in the province do not require filtration to meet a standard of water quality. De Feo says there are other ways to achieve an acceptable level of quality.

“Our water is not bad, the pathogens are far below the permitted level,” says De Feo.

In a press release, Coun Guenther echoed De Feo’s sentiments.

“A glass of water in Lake Country is the same as a glass of water in any other part of the province,” said Guenther.

Acknowledging the irrationality of allowing different water quality standards to exist in different parts of the province, Chong said her ministry would work with IHA and the other health authorities to develop a fair solution to the issue."


Reminder - Photo Contest

I have published this before but here it is again:

The District of Lake Country is seeking photos taken in and around the District of Lake Country to include in a photo image bank. Selected photographs will be incorporated into various municipal promotional material and documents.

Photos must be submitted in the following digital format:

  • ·         JPEG
  • ·         High Quality Low compression
  • ·         Minimum 3000 pixel by 2000 pixel
  • ·         5 megabit file size limit

Photos must be delivered in the above format via email to or delivered on a compact disk in an envelope clearly marked District of Lake Country Photo Contest. The contest closes on October 8, 2010. Entrants must include their name, address, phone number, email address and a brief description of the photo subject or location.

Prizes will be awarded for the top 3 photos as selected by Council. Please see the District website for a listing of prizes that will be awarded as well as additional terms and conditions.

Photos will become the property of the District of Lake Country. Photos with images of discernable people will require a signed release by each person in the photo. Compact disks will not be returned once submitted.

For more information contact: Paul Wolanski, Planner, District of Lake Country. Tel 250-766-5650 local 226 or