Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lake Country is being Proactive – Part 2

Following up on the fable of 'The Ant and the Grasshopper' I cannot help but think of the wasteful attitude of the latter. Well, today, many people in many developing countries seek out clean drinking water with much difficulty just like little ants try to store food for the winter because they know food will be scarce as water is scarce in many regions of the world. But developed nations such as the US and Canada behave like grasshoppers spending billions of dollars to buy bottled water even though their respective countries provide clean drinking water from the tap or are making considerable effort to do so. Our water is envied by many in the world and yet we prefer buying commercial water. I think people need to be made aware of some basics facts that may help them understand the implication of not supporting a water infrastructure management plan. Here it goes.

  1. Bottled water is in many ways a North American obsession, with North Americans drinking annually 10 billion gallons. Not only do they drink vast amounts but they are willing to pay 10,000 times the cost of tap water for the privilege of drinking an arguably inferior product. We get the 10,000 times number from the fact that on average bottled water cost $10 per gallon compared to tap water which costs $.0015 per gallon or about a tenth of a penny (North American average). What is more is that the plastic bottles that this water comes in create billions of pounds of oil based trash destined to live out a thousand year lifespan in a trash dump.
  2. Globally some 53 billion gallons of bottled water are consumed creating a $63 billion dollar industry. One the most peculiar facts is that 40% of this bottled water is actually taken from municipal water sources also known as "tap water". Another strange element of this puzzle is that far less testing is done on bottled water than on tap water. It turns out that unlike tap water, bottled water isn't tested for e. coli. More still is the fact that it can be distributed even if it doesn't meet the quality standards of tap water. Unlike tap water, bottled water isn't required to produce quality reports or even provide its source.

  3. Comically, the bottled water production process is fairly resource intensive. It actually takes 17 million barrels of oil to produce bottled water which is enough oil to fuel 1 million cars for a whole year. Oil isn't the only necessary resource. Luckily tap water is very cheap because it takes about 3 times the amount of tap water to produce and fill 1 bottle of bottled water.
Sadly, it isn't just expensive and potentially lower quality to drink bottled water but there is an environmental impact that should be considered. Even though most major cities in North America have made recycling available, only 1 in 5 water bottles ever get recycled. Instead, 4 go to the trash dump to create about 3 billion pounds of waste just from all of the discarded plastic.

By properly looking after our infrastructure, just like little ants gather their food for the winter and accumulate resources with an eye to the worst to happen, we will have cheap, clean, drinkable and affordable water, and we will not need to spend money in expensive bottled water. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Council Meeting Highlights from July 19th

The Turtle Bay Crossing Development at 11850 Oceola and 2855 Woodview Road proposes an OCP amendment to change the property from Urban Residential to Mixed Use Commercial and amend the Zoning to a Direct Control zone. The development is located near various Lake Country communities and proposes to include approximately 44,000 sq ft of retail and office space. Members in the gallery requested that the development ensure inclusivity for the mobility impaired and noted that the development will help create employment in the community.

Bylaw 794 proposes to rezone the property located between Main Street and Vernon Creek to allow for eventual development of a mixed use commercial/residential complex consistent with the District’s OCP.  There were no letters received and no comments from the gallery at the Public Hearing.

Approximately 6 people spoke against the proposed Juniper Cove OCP Amendment Bylaw 769, 2011 which proposes to amend the property at 17520 Juniper Cove Road for the eventual development of a 168 unit urban residential development. Residents requested that Council respect the Carr’s Landing Sector Plan and deny first reading of the proposed bylaw.

RCMP 2011 strategic priorities identified for Lake Country include grow ops & drug trafficking, road safety, community relations and water safety.  From April to June four grow ops & drug trafficking search warrants were executed with over 5,500 marihuana plants seized and 7 people arrested.  In the road safety division there were 27 accidents during the quarter which is a 51% reduction over the same period last year. There was a 61% decrease in impaired driving cases for the period which is a direct result of the new Immediate Roadside Prohibition program.  On June 1st Lake Country members were working on community relations at Tim Horton’s, although on this day, the constables were serving the coffee and donuts in support of Tim Horton’s Children’s Foundation! Water safety and noisy boats are a big issue in Lake Country during the summer months and the detachment has been stepping up small vessel enforcement in the community in conjunction with Transport Canada and Lake Country Bylaw Enforcement. Click here to view the complete report with all the details.

Bylaw 795, 2011 for a property at 9614 Chase Road, proposes to amend the zoning from RU-1 Single Family Housing to RU-6 Two Dwelling Housing which is consistent with District OCP objectives and only changes the form of development from single family to duplex. Council gave 2 readings and forwarded Bylaw 795 to a public hearing.

Almost 65 residents were in attendance opposed to the proposed OCP Amendment. As staff’s recommendation for the Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw 769, 2011 was to deny 1st reading, the applicant was provided an opportunity to address Council and outline the request to amend the OCP.  The OCP amendment Bylaw, which is the first step in the development application process, proposes to amend the property at 17520 Juniper Cove Road to a future growth area for the eventual rezoning and subdivision for a 168 unit urban residential development.  Arguments were made that the development design is well thought‐out and fits well on the property although its location at the perimeter of the community brings forward concerns of sustainable growth. Staff recommended against the bylaw because the costs to maintain a development of this scale in this area of the community are excessive when compared to similar developments closer to available infrastructure and services. Council unanimously denied 1st reading of the OCP Amendment Bylaw 769, 2011.

Transit fare increases take place approximately every four years with the last change in September 1, 2007 increasing fares by $0.25. Council approved the recommendation from the Regional Governance and Services Committee to support a transit fare increase of $0.25 effective January 1, 2012. West Kelowna recently approved the same increase and which is also subject to approval from the District’s regional transit partners. Click here for a complete list of the fare increases.

Council supported the grant application to the UBCM Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative for $165,000 which, if successful, will be used for fuel modification on Spion Kop Mountain which is outlined in the Regional District Fuel Management Prescription (Spion Kop Crown Lands). The District will provide overall grant management if the application is successful.

Council adopted the Water Master Plan Capital Projects, Financial Strategy and Proposed Water Rates in principle allowing due process for deliberation of water rates bylaws during the budget process which begins in September.

Council also directed staff to mail out a community wide public information and feedback package which will be distributed with the Utility Bills in September, in order to help gauge community support and gather a better understanding of residents’ opinion on the Water Master Plan. The Plan is intended to set the District of Lake Country’s direction for water servicing in the community for the next number of decades.  The short but intensive communications program saw the majority of customers giving positive feedback with the feeling that the Water Master Plan is something we have to do.  Although there are some specific concerns, there is general acceptance that it needs to be done. Click for the full report to Council and click for the Water Master Plan webpage.

At the July 5th Council meeting, Mr. Hans Karow made a presentation to Council expressing concern about health issues resulting from the proposed BC Hydro Smart Meter Program.  Mr. Karow requested that Council lobby the Minister of Health to place a moratorium on the mandatory installation of wireless Smart Meters and submit a resolution to UBCM requesting the same until the major issues and problems are identified and are addressed.  Council will hear a presentation from BC Hydro on August 16th that will provide more information on the Smart Meter Program.

The BC Bottle Depot Association requested that Council consider joining the efforts of the Bottle Depot Association in placing a deposit on milk containers and requiring all milk containers to be recycled at the bottle depot rather than being included in the curbside recycling program.  Staff are working with the Regional Waste Reduction Office on this issue and will keep Council apprised of any updates.

The Public Art Advisory Commission recommended that Council amend the Parks and Recreation Department name to include Culture, becoming Parks, Recreation & Culture.  The Commission suggested that new name will bring the cultural part of the community to the forefront on a regular basis, eradicate potential bias or forgetfulness of another segment of the population and accurately reflect the responsibilities of the department.  The CAO will make the operational change as requested.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Lake Country is being Proactive – Part 1

For some, summer is a season to lay back and relax. Schools are closed until September and tourists populate resorts and other amenities to recharge and prepare for a busy winter. However, mindful of the moral lesson in the Aesop's fable 'The Ant and the Grasshopper', the District of Lake Country has been very busy working on assuring that its long term vision of a community known for the best quality of living in the Okanagan and in BC continues to produce the results we are striving for and that are beginning to materialize.

As it goes, Aesop's fable tells the story of a merry grasshopper that spends the summertime singing and seizing the day without any particular care for what tomorrow is going to be while the ants are hard at work gathering supplies for the winter. The grasshopper mocks the ants and invites them not to waste time in hard work but to enjoy themselves, but the ants continue their work knowing that the winter will come soon and with it very little food. When the winter comes, the grasshopper has no food and, starving almost to death, he goes to the ants and asks for a bit of food. The ants have enough for them to last through the winter and so they have no choice but to refuse to assist the grasshopper that dies of starvation soon after.

In the past, when the complexities of local governments were less pressing than today, some municipalities had a grasshopper approach to services and infrastructure. No need to set aside money for road repairs or replacement: when the time comes we'll find the money and the work will be done. Progressively, though, federal and provincial funding has become scarce and sparse and municipalities are left to fend the dilemma of how infrastructure and level of services can be proactively addressed for future betterment. It is not an easy answer. We can either let infrastructure gradually degrade and adapt to this, or we need to set aside sufficient funds to be prepared for when the need will come up.

In this spirit, the first phase of our asset management plan, which deals with our water infrastructure, is going through a number of proactive action steps that will ensure that Lake Country is prepared when the time comes. First, the District has prepared a Water Master Plan that has been prepared with the assistance of Council, staff, community members, the Water Advisory Committee, and consultants. It took a bit more than 2 years to draft the plan, finalize a number of options and, for Council, to choose the option we need to pursue. Since then (November 2010), we have been working on addressing the prioritization and long term funding of the projects that need to be done to keep our infrastructure functional and insure that when our residents turn the taps on they get water that is clean in a sustainable and affordable way.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that over 80% of the people that responded to our survey have told us they are pleased with the District taking the initiative to do this and pursue it full head on, and that they are not concerned with the cost increase of $114 per year. The actual cost to the taxpayer will be $1.33 per day: pretty good for a reliable, affordable and clean use of water. If you buy a bottle of commercial brand water, that would be cost of only one half a litre bottle. Not only that, but our residents investment of $1.33 per day will buy a $79 million in projects over the next 20 years. Only a few municipalities in BC can say they have accomplished as much.

Having a plan will also be useful to present a concrete approach to provincial and federal funding as we can show we are more prepared than others and we are making the effort to contribute. Only the City of Cranbrook and the City of Grand Forks are adopting similar strategies and those municipalities are working with Lake Country to show our provincial government our level of preparedness and foresight.

It is true life. The Okanagan way.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lake Country Launches Website to Further Support Tourism and Economic Development

The District of Lake Country has recently launched a brand new website to support tourism and economic development in the community. The website emerged as a top priority from the branding exercise conducted by the municipality last year. “With the ever increasing role that having an online presence plays in current tourism and economic development decisions, the District is pleased to see this website in place so that we may further stand out in these highly competitive areas” says Chair of the Economic Planning and Development Committee and District Councillor, Geoff Greenwell.
Development Services Manager, Mark Koch notes that “the website was a highly collaborative effort, with input from various District stakeholders and the Lake Country Chamber of Commerce”. The District intends for the site to be a living entity, with regular updates on events happening in the community. The site was completed by both Zapp Worx and Reputations, two Vancouver based consultants that specialize in design and public relations. The website also ties in the District’s existing social media program, by connecting directly to existing Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and You Tube feeds. 

The website is divided into three primary sections, Visit, Live and Work, speaking to the different audiences that will use the site, while the What’s Happening and Blog sections will keep those seeking current information attune to the latest events happening in Lake Country. Mayor, James Baker adds that he is “especially happy to see this website in place to help support existing and future Lake Country businesses, and to promote further investment in our fantastic community”.

The website is now live, with the District welcoming appropriate links to the site from other related websites in the community.   

For more information contact:
Mark Koch, Development Services Manager
t: 250-766-6674 or
Alberto De Feo, Chief Administrative Officer
t: 250-766-6671 or

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Council Meeting Highlights from July 5th

ZONING AMENDMENT (THOMPSON) BYLAW 789, 2011 Bylaw 789 amends the zoning of the property at 3386 Woodsdale Road from Neighbourhood Commercial (C2) to Town Centre Commercial (C1) to accommodate a greater amount of development on the property including both residential and commercial.  Bylaw 789 received 2 readings on May 17th and at the public hearing, residents expressed concerns about commercial development outside of the Town Centre area, taking away from potential development in Town Centre. Council expressed concerns about adhering to the neighbourhood plan that was created for the area and the proposed height of the buildings.  Staff’s recommendation was for 3rd reading and adoption of the bylaw. Zoning Amendment (Thompson) Bylaw 789, 2011 was read a 3rd time with a restrictive covenant to be placed on title restricting building height to 4 stories.

The District’s new economic development focused website created by Zappworx & Reputations was presented to Council and is now live! Check out!

David Widdis, Regional Growth Strategy Coordinator outlined the regional growth planning process including public consultation and participation, identified issues and what the next steps of the process include. Click here to view the complete presentation to Council. 

Council adopted Building Regulation Bylaw 709, 2011 which establishes the roles and responsibilities of District Building Officials and the process by which building permits are issued. A review of the Building Regulations Bylaw was identified as one of Council’s strategic priorities and Bylaw 709 is a move to say current with BC Building Code and Community Charter requirements. The Bylaw clarifies the application process and also includes small rebates for highly environmentally friendly dwellings in order to encourage green development. As a result of the Building Regulation Bylaw, several other District bylaws needed to be amended to ensure their enforceability as they reference sections of the previous Building Regulation Bylaw. Council adopted Municipal Ticketing Information Amendment Bylaw 775, 2011, Bylaw Notice Enforcement Amendment Bylaw 776, 2011 and Land Development Fees Amendment Bylaw 777, 2011.

Council gave 3rd reading and adopted Bylaw 793 which removes agri-tourism accommodation as a permitted use from the zoning bylaw. Staff will begin an intensive public consultation process beginning in late August, early September to hear the public’s comments on what the new regulations should include. More information on the proposed changes can be obtained from the Development Services department at the District of Lake Country Municipal Hall or from the District’s website. Click here to view the News Release on the Agri-tourism Accommodations process.

Council and the affected residents of the proposed Development Variance Permit held a lengthy debate about the construction of a retaining wall that is above the permitted height requirements. Council approved Development Variance Permit DVP2011-004 varying the height limitation to 5 metres for the retaining wall on the property at 2612 Lake Breeze Court which is subject to a $2500 landscaping bond.  The $2500 bond will ensure landscaping work is completed to help mitigate the visual impact to the adjoining properties.

Rather than a grant-in-aid, Council sponsored the Lake Country Customs & Classics Car Show to be held August 27th, for the requested amount of $380.80 from Council Contingency to cover the costs of renting Swalwell Park.  The requested grant-in-aid is contrary to the District’s policy and the $7,000 grant-in-aid budget has been fully allocated for 2011. From the proceeds of the event, the Lake Country Customers & Classics Car Show will make a donation to a Lake Country charity.

Council passed a resolution requesting that Canada Post change the preferred municipality name to Lake Country.  Canada Post currently uses Winfield, Oyama and Okanagan Centre as the preferred municipal name. With Lake Country’s new branding it is critical that there be consistency in the way the community is identified. The change will also amend the way other agencies identify the community such as Google Maps, ICBC and Land Titles. But don’t worry! Oyama, Winfield and Okanagan Centre will still be considered alternative addresses for sending and receiving mail.

Council adopted Municipal Ticket Information Amendment Bylaw 791, 2011 and Bylaw Notice Enforcement Amendment Bylaw 792, 2011 which add the ability to enforce Section 2.31 of Parks, Public Spaces and Recreation Facilities Regulations and Fees Bylaw 717, 2009 which prohibits the possession of illegal drug paraphernalia in a park or public space.  This Bylaw allows the RCMP greatly flexibility to address drug related issues within municipal parks through the ticketing process.

Following Council’s June 28, 2011 Strategy Session, Council passed a resolution requesting that the Regional District of Central Okanagan apply to the federal Navigable Waters Department for funding to dredge the Oyama channel between Wood Lake and Kalamalka Lake. The canal is very busy being used for tourism, recreation and commercial purposes. At low water levels, the canal can be difficult and even dangerous to navigate.

The construction of the Apex Drive Park is underway and unfortunately, the recent tender bids left the project with a budget shortfall of $20,000.  The project has included planning with the Lakes Neighbourhood Association, Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PARC) and other members of the community, capital contributions from the District, in-kind donations arranged by the Neighbourhood Association and Okanagan Land Developments and a BC Hydro Tree Canada Grant.   Council approved staff’s recommendation to move the project in-house and maintaining the 2011 project budget of $75,000.  The project completion date may be slightly delayed by doing so although there is the potential for cost savings and additional donations or in-kind contributions.