Friday, May 20, 2011

Lake Country Continues to Raise Its Profile

At the Local Government Management Association (LGMA) Annual Conference and AGM held at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre this week from the 17th to the 19th Alberto De Feo, the District’s Chief Administrative Officer was successfully elected as the 1st Vice President of the Association.  Following Councillor Noreen Guenther’s recent appointment as the new SILGA President (Southern Interior Local Government Association), Lake Country is definitely putting the community on the map. Mr. De Feo says he “ is honoured to be considered for the position which will help foster relationships with federal and provincial partners and assist in funding future projects”.

The LGMA is an association governed by a 13 member Board of Directors with the presidential positions, Secretary-Treasurer and Directors at Large being elected at the Annual General Meeting each year. The LGMA encourages the interchange of ideas, promotes professional management and leadership excellence in local government and works to create awareness of the local government officers’ role in the community. 

The 2011 LGMA theme was Building Leaders, Building Community and focused on topics such as holding not for-profit organizations accountable, engaging aboriginal stakeholders, integrated asset management and of course, balancing work and life.

Lake Country was showcased several times for their initiatives in working with aboriginal neighbours, the Okanagan Indian Band and also for demonstrating leadership in Asset Management. 

In March of 2011, the District and the Okanagan Indian Band reaffirmed their existing Protocol Agreement, “Respecting Government to Government Working Relationship” and have been actively continuing to build upon the existing strong relationship and collaborating together in a spirit of neighbourliness.  A CommUnity Working Group was established and meets regularly which is guided by the Protocol Agreement and explores, innovates, cooperates and collaborates on activities that enhance an environmentally conscious sound and sustainable self-sufficient community where all beings, bio-diversity and community service is encouraged and supported.

In Asset Management, Lake Country was showcased not only at the LGMA but at the Canadian Network of Asset Managers Conference in Burnaby and has received invitations to present to both national and international audiences on the Asset Management Roadmap Project.  The project is a collaboration between Lake Country, Powel River, Merritt and Tofino under the guidance of Asset Management BC with funding through the Provincial Infrastructure Planning Grant. The Roadmap will provide small and medium size communities with a practical guide for navigating their way through Asset Management and shows others that it can be done.

Lake Country is demonstrating leadership and forging good connections for the future of the community.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Council Meeting Highlights from May 17th

Local Government Awareness Week is being held this week province‐wide. Drop in to the Municipal Hall and view our panels about what the District does for you, where District revenue comes from and where it’s spent and an overview of what’s going on in the District.

The District is excited to announce that we have registered in the well‐known Communities in Bloom program and the City of Kelowna, the past national champions, have agreed to be our mentor in our first year of the program. Communities in Bloom is much more than just flowers (although that is part of it). We will be evaluated in many areas. See our webpage at for more information.

The District of Lake Country Parks and Recreation Department is proud to be the recipient of the 2011 BCRPA Parks and Open Space Award for Swalwell Park.  This award recognizes innovative spaces that have, or could have, a significant impact in the Recreation and Parks field.  These spaces will have demonstrated excellence in concept, design and development.  “Swalwell Park is a great place for people of all ages to enjoy a variety of community activities” says Mayor James Baker. Click here to see some pictures of Swalwell Park.

Carol Ellison, Success by 6 Coordinator, United Ways of the Central Okanagan got Council out of their seats and involved in building a brain.  The demonstration showed how the brain architecture of children is affected by emotional, social, cognitive and physical skills and the importance of early childhood development.  Success by 6 is an initiative dedicated to providing all children with a good start in life and helps ensure that children ages 0 to 6 develop the skills they need as they enter school.  After building a brain, Myrna Kalmakoff, Community Coordinator for Community Action Toward Children’s Health (CATCH) presented Council with information on the Child Friendly Communities Project that encourages Local Governments to include priorities for young children in planning for the community.  Click here to view the full presentation to Council.

On May 3, 2011 Council had a lengthy discussion about Zoning Amendment (Russo) Bylaw 784, 2011 to re-zone 8, large rural lots along Oyama Road.  The Bylaw was given 2 readings and forwarded to public hearing to hear comments from the public.  Due to some required technical corrections in the bylaw Council rescinded first and second readings and read the Bylaw again as amended. The Bylaw will continue to Public Hearing to ensure that residents have an opportunity to provide their comments.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw 789 for Thompson received 2 readings and will be forwarded to public hearing. The bylaw amends the zoning of the property at 3386 Woodsdale Road from C-2 Neighbourhood Commercial to C-1 Town Centre Commercial allowing the property owner to develop to a higher density. The new zone allows a similar suite of uses but allows construction of taller buildings to a higher density and is consistent with the District’s Official Community Plan.

Council approved an application to convert an existing duplex from rental to strata allowing the sale of up to 2 units in the building located at 15130 Highway 97, provided all required servicing is completed prior to subdivision. The property currently contains an existing duplex constructed in 1979 and a workshop that is used as a dog grooming studio.  The potential removal of 2 rental units does not pose a significant decline in available rental stock in the Oyama neighbourhood and the proposed subdivision can now proceed subject to the Approving Officer’s determination.

With the recent development of an RV Campground in Oyama concerns have been brought forward to Council relating to land use conflicts from agri‐tourism accommodation development.  Concerns primarily relate to perceived issues of noise, traffic and visual impact. Some residents also expressed concern about the potential loss of agricultural land if farm land is allowed to be used for tourist accommodation rather than agricultural production.

On April 19th staff were directed by Council to prepare amendments to the zoning bylaw to address these issues.  Click here to view the complete report outlining the proposed amendments to Zoning Bylaw 561 which include buffering, minimum setbacks, appropriate placement and restricting the number of permitted units based on lot size.

Council held a lengthy debate around the need for public consultation and the process for implementing zoning amendments.  Council gave first reading to Zoning Amendment (Agri-Tourism Accommodation) Bylaw 790, 2011 and directed staff to hold public input sessions for residents to have an opportunity to express their comments. Staff will also be examining the option of creating an Agri-Tourism Accommodation Development Permit Area.

As an opportunity for the District to set an example of how to use land in a manner that addresses sustainability, carbon reduction, staff wellness and support for local food, District staff are proposing that the lawn in the center of the District parking lot be converted into a small garden. The small lawn area currently needs regular maintenance, including fertilizing, cutting and watering; by planting a small garden the water will be used to produce vegetables and works towards reducing the District’s carbon emissions by no longer requiring mowing of the lawn. Staff will be invited to tend the garden outside of work hours and harvest the vegetables. The food can be donated to local food banks, costs will be minimal and the District will be setting a positive example for business/homeowners. It is a small step which can easily be replicated and is a positive opportunity for all involved.

Council approved staff’s recommendation for Logo use, rescinding Policy No. 11.115 and  authorizing staff to execute licensing agreements for applicants wishing to use the Lake Country logo.  Applicants can apply to use one of the three possible tag lines: “Life. The Okanagan Way.”, “Business. The Okanagan Way.” or “Experience. The Okanagan Way.”

Friday, May 13, 2011

Another Award for Swalwell Park! BCRPA Parks and Open Space Award

The District of Lake Country Parks and Recreation Department is proud to be the recipient of the 2011 BCRPA Parks and Open Space Award for Swalwell Park.  This award recognizes innovative spaces that have, or could have, a significant impact in the Recreation and Parks field.  These spaces will have demonstrated excellence in concept, design and development.  “Swalwell Park is a great place for people of all ages to enjoy a variety of community activities” says Mayor James Baker.

Swalwell Park is a key community park in the District of Lake Country. Located in the Town Centre development area, across the road from the high school and seniors care home, the park is adjacent to Vernon Creek which has high fisheries values. Prior to the District’s new investment in the space, Swalwell Park contained a ball diamond and sports field, a skateboard park, two public art sculptures, a gravel parking lot jutting into the ball diamond and some old structures containing substandard washrooms and storage space. Despite the minimal facilities, the park was frequently used for community events, sports and a weekly farmer’s market.
In 2005 the District of Lake Country Council began the process of planning and upgrading the park to make it the “jewel” of Lake Country and a major focal point for the Town Centre. The first step was the preparation of the Swalwell Park Master Plan, which involved visioning, establishing the program of activities and facilities, reviews of plan options and selection and refinement of a preferred plan. Once the plan was adopted, implementation began in phases based on the availability of capital budgets.   The estimated budget to finish the complete build out of the park is estimated to be approximately $3.3 million.

Phases 1 and 2 involved the construction of a pavilion with washrooms, a multi-use stage/picnic shelter, concession and storage.  Environmental considerations, long term durability, maintenance and site accessibility were significant factors influencing the design. The pavilion features contemporary, sustainable architecture, with a green roof with native plants partially watered with grey (recycled) water from the sinks and a butterfly garden.  The pavilion creates a welcoming, safe and accessible space for community gatherings and events in the park.   The Pavilion was partially funded through a $215,000 BC Spirit Square grant and has received two other awards:   Masonry Institute of BC – 2008 Masonry Design Award of Excellence – Small Project and; 2009 Lieutenant-Governor of BC Medal from Architecture Institute of BC.

Another phase of the project involved riparian restoration and environmental enhancements along Vernon Creek. The Lake Country Environmental Society was consulted and children from the local Boys and Girls Club assisted with the planting of approximately 1200 trees and shrubs, increasing the width of the riparian area beside the creek.

In 2010 the District continued its investment in Swalwell Park with the development of the Trethewey Splash Park. The design is a fruit theme based on the strong fruit farming industry in the District of Lake Country.   The Trethewey Family contributed $350,000 to the splash park which had an overall cost of approximately $700,000.

The department hopes to complete the parking lot and farmers’ market re-build in 2012.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Walking with WALC

The following article was prepared and written by Deb Youngest of our Engineering Department. Deb is working with Greg Buchholz, our Manager of Operations, on this very important project for us. I also wish to extend a huge thanks to WALC volunteers for their great community spirit and their wonderful cooperation and assistance.
"Lake Country is a great place to live – but not always the easiest place to get around. Effective planning for improvements to our transportation network means working with the community to determine current and future needs for all members of the community. Transportation planning must look at more than just "roads" and include components of Active Transportation (that is, any form of human-powered transportation – walking, cycling, using a wheelchair, in-line skating or skateboarding). As part of the planning process, the District of Lake Country has engaged in dialogue with the local citizens group, Walking Around Lake Country (or WALC, for short), as well as gathering feedback from other local pedestrians.

What is the need?
Here are some of the reasons we hear for wanting to improve our Active Transportation Network:

Healthy living. These ladies see a need. Walking routes provide opportunities for exercise as well as a social outlet.

Accessibility. These guys see a need. They rely on the transportation network to commute to shopping and transit.

The Environment. These girls see a need. When asked why they are walking to school instead of being driven, they respond without hesitation: "We don't want to kill the environment."

Safety. These students see a need. Sharing the road is their only means of getting to and from school.

What are we working towards?
Lake Country's Active Transportation Vision is "Making Lake Country easy to get around in safe and enjoyable ways." The Active Transportation Guiding Principles state that all transportation solutions must consider multiple users, including pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders and vehicle traffic, as well as considering issues of accessibility. A first priority will be to focus on connecting neighbourhoods to schools and parks in a manner that enhances safety for all travellers. The development of cost-effective solutions that consider the community's environmental, economic and social sustainability will move Lake Country towards its goal - to develop a transportation network that promotes and enhances a vibrant, livable community. The transportation network is such an important component of a community – it is the physical link that connects all of us together.

Although tight budgets and cost-effective solutions will help to mitigate costs, there's no escaping the fact that improvements come at a price. Currently, about 50 cents per day per household goes towards maintaining the existing transportation network. In order to maintain and improve the transportation network, the cost will need to rise to $1.50 per day.

Current projects
Lake Country has budgeted funds for several transportation improvements to take place in 2011 and 2012. These include:
  • Lodge Road Multi-Modal Transportation Corridor
  • Davidson Road pathway
  • Camp Road pathway (Seaton to Bond)
  • Lake Hill/Shoreline intersection improvement

Celebrating Community Involvement
Lake Country is blessed to have numerous volunteer organizations that work very hard to help make our community great. WALC is one of these. This group is involved in the planning, creation and maintenance of numerous walking paths in and about Lake Country. The District recognizes and values WALC's contributions.
A special note to thank Dev Fraser for his excellent work in the role of liaison between WALC and the District of Lake Country. We thank him for the countless hours he has invested, and for his passion and enthusiasm for making Lake Country a great place to live… and walk."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Scholarship Award & SILGA Appointment

Lake Country, BC – At the Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA) convention held in Merritt from May 4th to 6th, celebrating the community’s 100th anniversary, Councillor Noreen Guenther was successfully acclaimed as the new SILGA President.

SILGA consists of 37 members and is represented by elected officials from cities, towns, villages, districts and 6 regional districts in the South Central BC.  The SILGA Board consists of a President, 1st Vice-President, 2nd Vice President and 6 Directors.

Councillor Guenther previously served two terms as Director at Large and one term as 1st Vice President on the SILGA Board. She was a Director at Large for the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) and served as Vice Chair for the UBCM convention committee. She is currently the Vice Chair of the Okanagan Regional Library Board and serves on the District’s Public Art Advisory Commission, Parcel Tax Review Panel and Liquid Waste Management Plan Amendment Committee.

As President of SILGA Councillor Guenther says “I will continue to work hard on behalf of SILGA to present the issues and concerns of communities and their leaders throughout the region.”   Councillor Guenther trusts that SILGA resolutions send a strong and united voice to UBCM, the province and beyond.  Congratulations Councillor Guenther!

Mayor James Baker (Left), Councillor Noreen Guenther (Centre), and Councillor Barbara Leamont (Right) at the 2011 SILGA Conference in Merritt
Also this week, a $1,000 Community Safety Scholarship was granted to Lake Country Fire Department Lieutenant Eric DeGelder to attend Incident Command System Level 400 Training (ICS-400) at the newly-constructed Emergency Management Division’s disaster simulation centre in New Westminster.

Community Safety Scholarships were created to increase the level of response capability within BC communities by making advanced ICS training more accessible.  The Lake Country Fire Department provides a high level of training and certification to all paid-on-call volunteer firefighters; however the high financial cost and the need to attend the course at the lower mainland facility to access the technology required makes this course difficult to fund.

The ICS Level 400 course is the most advanced Incident Command training provided by the Justice Institute of British Columbia and builds on top of the ICS 100, 200, and 300 Levels of study.  ICS-400 uses immersive simulation technology to learn management in large and complex emergency incidents and explores methods for managing activities and resources in a supervisory role in both multi-agency and multi-jurisdictional settings. 

It has been Eric’s personal ambition to complete this advanced course and the Scholarship will cover the cost of the course travel, accommodation and expenses.  To date the Fire Chief and both Assistant Fire Chiefs have completed ICS 400. Lieutenant Eric DeGelder will be the 4th Lake Country Fire Department member to complete this high level of training. Congratulations Eric!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Council Meeting Highlights from May 3rd

Emergency Preparedness Week (EP Week) is an annual event that takes place each year during the first full week of May. Is Your Family Prepared? If an emergency happens in your community, it may take emergency workers some time to reach you. You should be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for a minimum of 72 hours. In an emergency, if phones don’t work or families aren’t together, what will you do? Know the Risks  Make an Emergency Plan Watch this video on Making a Family Emergency Plan and preparing an emergency kit at

Peter Rotheisler, Manager of the Regional District Waste Reduction, presented Council with an update on the annual results and plans noting that the revenue generated from the recycling program has increased and is allocated back to Lake Country. Good job residents! Lesley Dieno from the Okanagan Regional Library updated Council on activities since the fall of 2009, strategic planning and future directions and the services in Lake Country.  In 2010 the Lake Country Branch was visited by over 780 people per week and the Oyama Branch was visited by a total of 4,500 people! Click here for more information.

Council adopted Development Applications Procedures Amendment Bylaw 786, 2011 which received 3 readings on April 19th and removes the ‘Bundled Process’ option from the Procedures bylaw.  Click here to view the full report to Council on April 19th.

Council approved staff’s recommendation to resubmit an application for exclusion from the ALR on Okanagan Centre Road West.  The application needs to be resubmitted because some of the supporting documents are no longer valid due to the length of time that transpired between the time the material was produced and the time the application was considered by Council.

Council approved Temporary Use Permit (TP2011-004) on 6948 McCoubrey Road to expand a home-based fruit processing business. The current use is permitted but the applicant would like to hire some additional staff for the summer months and needs a Temporary Use Permit to do so. The home-based business supports local economic development and agricultural diversification in the community and has minimal impact on the local neighbourhood.

Council had a lengthy discussion about Zoning Amendment (Russo) Bylaw 784, 2011 to re-zone 8, large rural lots along Oyama Road.  Currently all District Official Community Plans recommend a minimum subdivision area of 30 ha (70 acres) in the area, essentially prohibiting subdivision. Staff recommended that a site specific zone be used to pre-plan subdivision in the area allowing landowners the option to subdivide, but not opening the door to configurations.  Council expressed concerns about a minimum lot size and servicing requirements to the area. 

Council gave the bylaw 1st and 2nd readings and forwarded to Public Hearing in order to hear comments from residents on the issue. Concurrent to proceeding with the Zoning Bylaw, Council gave 2 readings to Subdivision and Development Servicing Amendment Bylaw 785, 2011.

In 2008 the District signed on to the BC Climate Action Charter committing to becoming Carbon Neutral in operations by 2012. The first part of the project involves inventorying District emissions, identifying major sources and trends and preparing an inventory that details those trends.  The inventory presented by staff shows a rise in District emissions from 2008 to 2009 but a slight fall during 2010. Some of the reasons for the District`s changing emissions are due to colder weather in 2009 which increased natural gas usage, and the opening of the District`s Spray Park.

As part of bringing Parks contractual services in-house, the new Parks Foreman, Shaun Lesowski did an assessment of the services levels, park land inventory and current equipment in the Parks Department. The existing equipment is limited in providing the best quality product of turf and parks maintenance and could easily be improved with an investment in the purchase of 3 pieces of equipment. Council approved staff`s recommendation increasing the budget by $38,000 from the Capital Works Reserve allowing for the immediate purchase of a turf mower, a sweeper and a utility vehicle.  The new mower will reduce the time it takes to cut by half, mow more acres per hour and mow in areas the current mowers cannot access.  The new equipment will free up staff time to be spent on soccer and ball field maintenance, line painting, beach maintenance, volleyball, tennis courts and water park maintenance.

The Chief Financial Officer presented the 2011 Financial Bylaw 787, 2011 for 3 readings. Council held budget deliberations on December 14th, January 25th, February 3rd and February 22nd and approved the 2011 Budget with a 3.9% municipal tax increase.  The increase results in approximately $54 for an average single‐family house assessed at approximately $500,000 or about an $11 increase for each $100,000 of residential assessed value. Some changes were made to the 2011 Budget since Council’s approval because of some new information; although none of the changes impact the proposed municipal tax increase. For instance, new information received from the BC Assessment Authority negatively impacted the 2011 Budget because the property assessment appeal process lowered the tax base growth from new construction from 2.1% to 1.6%, resulting in a loss of tax revenue of $40,000.  This loss of revenue was offset by a transfer from reserves. 

When factoring in taxes paid to other taxing authorities, the increase in the provincial home owner grant, and increases in water user fees, the average single-family house will pay $160 less in property taxes in 2011, or an overall decrease of 4.6%.  Click here to view the full report to Council.  Click here to view the Financial Plan Power Point Presentation which uses graphs to detail the operating expenses, capital funding and budget, property tax distribution and property tax comparisons.

Council also gave 3 readings to 2011 Tax Rates Bylaw 788, 2011 which has to be adopted prior to May 15th of each year. This bylaw provides the tax rates necessary to raise the revenue as set out in the 2011 Financial Plan, tax requisitions from the Regional District, Regional Hospital District and Okanagan Regional Library. The Province of BC, the Municipal Finance Authority and BC Assessment Authority set their own tax rates. Total property tax revenue for municipal purposes will be $8.3 million and the total taxable assessment of the District of Lake Country is $2.6 billion. Click here to view the full report to Council.

The Fire Chief presented his annual report to Council outlining total incidents (818), average response time (10 minutes, 21 seconds), burning permits sold, prevention and inspection programs, public service events and recruitment and training.  Click here to view the full presentation to Council and all the details!