Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Council Approves 2011 Budget

Lake Country, BC – At a Special Council Meeting held on February 22nd, the District of Lake Country Council voted unanimously to adopt the 2011 Annual Budget.

The process for the budget approval was different from other years and focused on the new Corporate Plan adopted in the Fall of 2010. The purpose of the Corporate Plan is to identify Council’s priorities. Although the process was longer than usual, the District has accomplished two things this year. First, the budget was approved early in the year rather than closer to the traditional Spring deadline established by legislation; and second, the budget better reflects capital and operational priorities established by Council in the new Corporate Plan.

Staff received direction from Council to prepare a budget that would keep the current level of services and begin to address infrastructure aging issues that are becoming more pressing.  In addition, Council was faced with increased costs for services provided by external agencies, such as the RCMP and BC Transit, and a number of contractual maintenance obligations.

“I am satisfied with the process and its result,” said Mayor James Baker. “We had to deal with increase costs and an inflation rate at 2.4%, but staff was able to put together a reasonable package that meets Council priorities and expectations.”

The capital budget totals about $10,000,000. Council approved phase 1 of Lodge Road improvements for a total of $1.3 million, which will see the road rebuilt and a pedestrian pathway provided. There will also be pedestrian and safety improvements to Davidson Road and Lake Hill Drive, in the new “Lakes” subdivision. Finally, the District will continue to work on the $5 million Kal Lake Interconnect project, mostly funded by the province and the federal government, which will address water quality in Oyama. The 2011 phase of this project will cost in excess of $1 million for the construction of booster pump. The District has spent $400,000 to date for this project.

Property taxes are going up 3.9%, which means that taxpayers will pay an extra $11 per $100,000 of assessed value of their property. Water bills will increase an extra $19 per year. All other fees will remain the same.

For more information contact: Stephen Banmen, Chief Financial Officer, District of Lake Country. Tel 250-766-5650 or

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lake Country Adopts a New Brand

The last few weeks have been very busy while we are working on many fronts to improve our community and to provide the foundation for the best quality of life in the Okanagan. We have been working on the budget and there will be another meeting on February 22nd to discuss further and hopefully to come to some decision on our targets and projects for 2011 and following years. We are also addressing the issue of asset management, which, in other words, is our infrastructure management, and we will be engaging the community in the next few months to address this big issue – a common one for all Canadian municipalities and, for that matter, for the rest of the world. We have signed a new protocol agreement with the Okanagan Indian Band and this will open great opportunities for both the Band and the District. I will address all these at one point. However, I wish to focus today on the new brand for the community.

Council, after a few months into the process, has unanimously adopted the new brand, logo, and tagline for the community. I find extremely exciting that we have come to this point and that, at last, we can project ourselves in a coherent approach to the rest of the world. Too many times I have heard the question, "where is Lake Country?", and also heard the usual answer, "it's the place between Kelowna and Vernon". We are, in our own right, a community of communities that have specific historical, political, and social connotations that are neither those of Kelowna nor those of Vernon.

The branding exercise we have gone through has addressed this very same issue. When you work on a branding exercise, narrative and stories are the most important element of what the brand will signify at the end of the process. I believe that all those involved, from the consultants to the various individuals and committees that worked to come to this point, contributed much to the identification of Lake Country as the ideal place to be in the whole Okanagan. The logo and tagline certainly mean that, and the story behind the brand architecture provides an even more critical description of whom we are and why we are different from our neighbouring communities. Will everybody like the new 'style'? Of course not, but the feedback we received and continue to receive from those who are going to use it, see it, and feel it is very positive and encouraging. They know the new brand will open doors to more sustainable living in our community.

The process included a discovery session where the participants identified the brand story. They told of Lake Country being creative and forward-thinking, and they described a number of qualities that were incorporated into the brand. First, they indicated that Natural Beauty is what we have and what draws people here. They then said that this community draws people because of the Lifestyle we offer as a foundation to their desire to achieve Happiness. The things that allow this to happen are the Economic Drivers. I will not belabour on the rest of the process, which was intensive and included a wide variety of stakeholders. Rather, I wish to describe the logo and the tagline. One notable mention is the photo contest we had, which was a huge community success.

The logo reflects the four seasons, as well as the agriculture, wine, lakes, and sunshine that are part of our lifestyle. The concept also reflects the four distinct communities within our boundaries that are fluidly connected together. The consultants presented a brief video of the concept using images from the four communities: the 'golden' Oyama, the 'green' Winfield, the 'burgundy (wine/grapes)' Carr's Landing, and the 'blue and azure' Okanagan Centre. The tagline is 'Life. The Okanagan Way.' It summarizes the brand story. Lake Country is a place where life has a rhythm with nature – a place where one can find happiness. In order to keep the brand dynamic and meaningful to a variety of audiences – specifically those that are attached to economic drivers – secondary marks have been incorporated by substituting the active words 'Experience' (for tourism, sport and cultural audiences) and 'Business' (for the economic development audiences) for the primary brand of 'Life'.

The comments we have received have been very positive, with the rare exception, which is to be expected. Mayor Baker said, "Lake Country has experienced rapid residential growth in recent years, outpacing provincial averages. We look to the new brand to tell the unique Lake Country story, assist in diversifying the local economy and help tourist operators by proudly putting Lake Country on the map." Councillor Greenwell, who heads the Economic Planning & Development Committee, which was tasked to champion and lead the project, commented, "This brand is the result of six months of hard work by the Economic Planning and Development Committee, staff and the branding consultants, Zapp Worx and Reputations. We believe it will be a great asset to the District of Lake Country, the development of Main Street, civic organizations and businesses in promoting their activities and marketing Lake Country."

In conclusion, we are very fortunate to have had the support of so many stakeholders in the development of the new brand, and look forward to implementing the required steps needed to bring it to life and further promote Lake Country. Projects like this are often contentious and it's impossible to please everyone. However, with the extensive support received from the many stakeholders involved, we look to members of the community and the media for leadership in becoming brand ambassadors for our community. We'll keep you posted.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Some time ago I wrote a blog about Malcolm Gladwell's book "The Tipping Point". He has written at least another 3 books that I know of but I have not read them yet. The reason why I am mentioning The Tipping Point is because, in the book, Gladwell identifies categories of individuals that make the difference to a 'tipping point level'.

Taking this concept a bit further, I wish to talk about the so called 'influencers' or, in other words, people that influence other people, their community, or even society. Those people are leaders but I argue that you need more than influencing ability to make a difference and leave a legacy.

You can be an influencer in your life. I am thinking, for instance, of Michael Oher. If you are a football fan, he plays for the Baltimore Ravens. If you are a movie fan, he was the main character in the movie "The Blind Side", which earned Sandra Bullock an Oscar for best actress last year.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Michael was one of twelve children to Denise Oher. His mother was an alcoholic and crack cocaine addict, and his father, Michael Jerome Williams, was frequently in prison. Due to his upbringing, he received littler attention and discipline during his childhood. He repeated both first and second grades, and attended eleven different schools during his first nine years as a student. He was placed in foster care at age seven, and alternated between living in various foster homes and periods of homelessness. Oher's biological father was a former cell mate of Denise Oher's brother and was murdered in prison when Oher was senior in high school. In 2004, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, a couple with a daughter and son attending the same school Michael was attending, allowed him to live with them and eventually adopted him. The family began tending to his needs aftre becoming familiar with his difficult childhood. They also hired a tutor for him, who worked with him for twenty hours per week. He finally emerged as a strong defense football player and the rest is history.

Piers Morgan interviewed Michael on CNN this week and asked him if his life would have been different without the help of his adoptive family. Michael's answer was unequivocal. He told Piers that it may have taken a bit longer but he was going to get where he is now anyways. He had made the decision to remove himself from the vicious cycle of desperation that all of his family and friends were riding and continue to ride, and he succeeded. At 25, he has become a role model by simply being true to his personal commitment. He also decided to share his experience for the benefit of others and wrote a book ("I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness to The Blind Side) which is already inspiring many.

The message in all this is that influencers are not just people with magic powers that are able to convince others of things they wish them to do or say, but rather they are people with the love, integrity and vision that will give them the strength to hold steadfast to the iron rod without being influenced by others or distracted by momentary illusions. They will reach the goal because they have walked the path before getting there.

Are you an influencer?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Now Is the Time

I am in Victoria at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Sustainability Conference, which, for the first time, is held outside of Ottawa. Our Mayor, two councillors and our Manager of Operations are also here, and so hundreds of delegates from around Canada. We are here to learn from each other experiences and to know more about programs available to address the quality of life in our communities. The day was intense but very insightful. The next few days also look to be as dense and productive.

As I was chatting with some of the delegates, I was told that Lake Country, in its small way, is a leader in addressing sustainability issues and very open to foster innovation the 'green' way. I replied that we are far away from where we should be but that we are taking small steps to get there. With that in mind, I approached the various sessions with a desire to see what others are doing better and why.

Now, Canada prides itself to be a leader in sustainability and green policies. At least that is what we believe. So, it was with a humble heart that the delegates learned from a Colombian speaker that it is not the case. Gil Peñalosa is the Executive Director of the Canada-based non-profit 8 – 80 Cities (formerly Walk & Bike for Life) as well as a successful international speaker and consultant. He was born and raised in Bogota', Colombia where he was appointed Commissioner of Parks, Sport & Recreation for that city of 7 million people. As such, he and his team were instrumental in designing and building over 200 parks, of which the best known is the Simón Bolívar (360 hectares). They were also successful in opening 91 kilometres of car-free city roads on Sundays, the Ciclovia (Bikeway), where over 1.3 m. people come out weekly to walk, run, skate and bike. They also created the Summer Festival, with over 100 events in 10 days and more than 3 million people attending and since the first year has become the main recreational event in the country.

His presentation was full of energy and mesmerizing at the same time. Denmark has been a leader in sustainability since the oil crisis of the 70's. I still remember the 'Austerity' time as a kid in Italy, when certain half of the cars could circulate in odd days and the other half in even days, and when cars were not allowed to circulate during weekends at all. Denmark's record is astonishing as 40% of the population runs a bike to go everywhere, and where many others choose to walk or to run the public transit.

Gil mentioned many examples and gave us a hint of so many ideas we can use in our communities. But Gil was very frank: you have to be a real leader to get things done. Enough of thinking and talking. It's time for doing and the time is now!

Following is the link to Gil's presentation.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Highway 97 Project On Line

It is exciting to know that the Highway 97 relocation project is going ahead. It is great news for Lake Country and the whole region. If you wish to see the design of the project and other related information, you can click on the following link, which will take you to the Province web site for the project. Good reading and watching!

BC Hydro to start Duck Lake Interconnection Project

BC Hydro will soon be starting some of the work on their Duck Lake Interconnection Project. Crews will be working on Beaver Lake road doing pole replacements commencing approximately Feb 9, although an exact start date is not definite. The work will go from next week to about mid-April and will take place weekdays between the hours of 7am and 7pm with very little, if any, weekend work.  This work will have minimal impact on the public: There may be minor traffic disruptions and there will be temporary, localized power outages.


There will be traffic control on site and lane closures in effect.  Most of the work is along the north side of the road, but there are a few poles on the south side.

Power outages:

As for the power outages, they will be required at certain times during the work for the safety of the public and of crews. For safety reasons crews are prohibited from performing some of the work while the lines have live electricity flowing through them. However, through switching customers to other circuits BC Hydro will be able to limit those power outages to a very small number of customers.  The customers affected are mostly businesses and the crew is working with those customers to coordinate outages outside of business hours. There are a few residential customers that will be affected, and the crew will be doing those notifications in person.

The project:

The Duck Lake Interconnection Project will improve electrical service in Lake Country. This project was presented by BC Hydro to Council a few months ago. It involves connecting BC Hydro's Lake Country and Westside Road customers to FortisBC's new Duck Lake Substation via Beaver Lake Road.

The area is currently served by BC Hydro's ageing Woods Lake Substation which gets its power from a single powerline running 30 kilometres from Vernon. That system is vulnerable because it is ageing, because of the distance the line must travel, and because it is reaching capacity.  The Duck Lake Interconnection Project will solve all of those issues. Getting power from the substation next door will eliminate the 30 kilometres of vulnerability, also the Duck Lake substation is brand new (so going from something at end of life to something at beginning of life), and the new equipment will provide enough capacity for the foreseeable future.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Improved Accessibility for Lake Country Post Office

In early 2010, the District of Lake Country’s Access and Mobility Committee identified a primary goal of examining non-accessible public service buildings in Lake Country and comparing them to others in surrounding communities.

Working with Cathy Yochim, Local Area Superintendent for Canada Post, and MK Consultants, the Committee conducted an audit of the Post Office located on Berry Road. Improvements that have been made include adding additional railings and an automatic door opener.

“We greatly appreciate Canada Post’s quick response to the call for improvements to be made to the Lake Country post office which will make it an accessible postal outlet for all constituents,” said Ron Cannan, Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country. “We are proud of the dedication and service that Canada Post continues to provide to the community.”

“I want to thank our Access and Mobility Committee for pointing out to Lake Country Council how difficult the Berry Road Post Office was to access without automatic door openers “ said Mayor James Baker, Chair of the Committee from 2007 to 2009 and still a Committee member. Our thanks go to Cathy Yochim, the Local Area Superintendent of Canada Post, for immediately explaining our concerns to Ottawa. We also want to thank our MP Ron Cannan for ensuring that Ottawa was aware of our issues. You have all made our community just that much more inclusive.”

"On behalf of the District of Lake Country Access and Mobility Committee, we commend everyone whose efforts contributed to the project to make upgrades for wheelchair access to the Lake Country Main Post Office on Berry Road.” said Marie Molloy, Chair of the Access and Mobility Committee. “This improvement has immediate benefits for District of Lake Country citizens and visitors alike who can now more independently and safely access Lake Country's Main Post Office.”

On-line community access information resources can be found at the District of Lake Country Access and Mobility Committee's webpage at: > Committees & Commissions > Access & Mobility Committee

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Highway 97 Improvements Get Green Light



For Immediate Release

February 3, 2011


KELOWNA – The $77.9 million Highway 97 Winfield – Oyama four-laning project has received federal environmental approval. The joint federal – provincial project will now go to tender.

“This project is a great example of the strong partnership between the Government of Canada and the province,” says Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan. “Investments such as this will improve safety and boost economic growth.”

“I'm sure many who have also driven this stretch of highway will welcome the improved safety that this project will deliver,” says Kelowna Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick. “It will also generate new opportunities in trade and tourism and demonstrate the commitment of both governments to building world-class infrastructure.”

The Winfield - Oyama project involves building a nine-kilometre four-lane highway west

of the existing two-lane section of Highway 97 between Winfield and Oyama. The Province is contributing $44.3 million and the federal government is providing up to $33.6 million through the

Building Canada Plan toward the total $77.9 million cost. Work is scheduled to be completed in 2013.

Federal funding for these investments comes from the $33-billion Building Canada Plan.

Through the unprecedented plan, the federal government will provide long-term, stable and predictable funding to help meet infrastructure needs across Canada. Building Canada will support a stronger, safer and better country.

On Nov. 6, 2007, the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia signed an Infrastructure Framework Agreement under Building Canada worth $2.2 billion for infrastructure initiatives from 2007 to 2014. The two governments also launched on July 7, 2008, a call for infrastructure projects in smaller communities to be funded under this larger plan.


For more information, contact Jeff Melland, B.C. Liberal Government Caucus Communications:

Phone: 250-356-0389


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Council Highlights – February 1, 2011


Council dealt with a rezoning application for a property on Reimche Road and Woodsdale Road. The new zone is for a multi-family residential and mixed commercial. Council has advanced the proposal and it was referred to the Ministry of Transportation for approval before it is finalized. No development application has been received for this property at this time.

A temporary commercial permit was approved for a property on Powley Court. The permit will relax zoning conditions to allow for large equipment (two full sized dump trucks and a bobcat) on the property as it is used for business purposes. Council approved a one-year permit with a number of restrictions in order to monitor the owners response to noise complaints raised by neighbours and to allow mitigation of those issues.

A soil disposition permit was also approved to allow for the filling of part of the property owned by Rainbow Gardens. The applicants will have to comply with a number of geotechnical provisions for the protection of the stability of the property.


Council were told that Lake Country Hydro Generation Plant is now Ecologo certified. Ecologo is a national environmental certification that is given to organizations and companies that meet certain 'green' criteria. This is a further recognition of the sustainable efforts the District has been fostering for the last few years. The plant generates electricity, which is sold to BC Hydro. The net of the sales will be used for capital projects to assist with the provincial carbon neutral program. In addition, the certifications provides 'green credits' that can be sold to other organizations to offset their carbon footprint.


Robert Fine, Executive Director of the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, of which Lake Country is a member, and Mike Gilmore, Chair of the Board, presented the 2011 Strategic Plan. The plan will focus on youth attraction and on addressing issues of increased aging population. It will also provide support to individual municipalities to increase awareness of economic growth potentials within the various communities.


In an effort to lobby the provincial government to change policies affecting local governments, Council adopted a number of resolutions for discussion at the upcoming Southern Interior Local Government Association Conference in Merritt and the 2011 UBCM Convention in Vancouver. Council passed a resolution to request the Province to include Development Permit infractions under the ticketing provisions of the law. This would result in many savings due to court actions which are the only way, currently, municipalities can deal with those issues.

Council also approved a resolution in opposition to a proposal from the Province to allow for trading water. This would work against conservation targets that our municipality and most of the water purveyors in the province are striving for in order to achieve sustainable communities.

Finally, in following up on the previous resolution, Council also approved a motion to encourage the Province to create groundwater regulations and agricultural water reserve systems to improve the long-term security of water supply for agricultural land.


The Rick Hansen Foundation announced the 2011 Rick Hansen Relay. The Foundation is calling for participants in the various communities and Councillor Rees has proposed that an application be filed with the Foundation on behalf of Nigel Hughes who was instrumental in the creation of the Accessibility Advisory Committee in Lake Country. The Mayor will follow up on the proposal and submit an application on behalf of the District. If the proposal is accepted, the Mayor will act as a proxy on behalf of Nigel Hughes who passed away a few years ago.