Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lake Country Discusses Water, Infrastructure Management and Active Living with Provincial Ministries

The District of Lake Country Council had another busy and productive day at UBCM in Vancouver.

In a meeting with the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Ida Chong, Council discussed the need for infrastructure grants as the issue of maintenance and replacement of water, sewer and roads is becoming urgent in the community. The Minister assured Council that if the Federal Government initiates new infrastructure programs the Province will match their contribution and support the programs. The UBCM Gas Tax fund is currently still available to municipalities and the District has submitted an application to fund the upgrade and expansion of the Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is almost at full capacity. The Wastewater Treatment Plant project is also sponsored by the Regional District of the Central Okanagan as the plant also functions as the regional septic facility.

Council also talked about the need for a new Active Living Grant Program with Minister Chong, who noted that past programs such as the Senior Parks Equipment program were initiated by the Province. Notwithstanding the fact that there are no current programs available, the Minister encouraged Council to write a letter requesting that the Province consider creating new Active Living opportunities, especially in view of the aging population.

Following the meeting with Minister Chong, Council met with the Minister of Health, Mike De Jong, to address issues of water infrastructure and coordination of water standards throughout the Province. The Minister acknowledged the need for coordination of departments at the provincial level in dealing with water policy and issues and reiterated that grant programs could only be available through federal initiatives. He added that his ministry is willing to work with the District to find solutions that can be effective and less costly in order to provide the best options for all residents.

“It was a very positive day” said Mayor Baker, “we felt that progress was made, especially with respect to the implementation of our Water Master Plan, which, without the assistance of the Province, cannot be fully sustainable.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lake Country Council Brings Municipal Issues to the Attention of the Provincial Government

The District of Lake Country Council is in Vancouver along with all BC local governments to participate to the annual Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention.  In addition to the Annual General Meeting and policy sessions where various motions are discussed and adopted for advancement to the Provincial Government, Mayors and Councils meet with ministers in order to solve local issues on which the provincial government has authority. On Tuesday Lake Country Council met with two ministers and the Premier and participated in a number of workshops and policy sessions of interest to the community.

 The first meeting was with Minister Mary Polak, Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation. Council discussed Lake Country and the Okanagan Indian Band concerns for the protection of water sources on crown land and also requested further assurance that lease lots not be sold to private individuals, as announced by Minister Bell last year. Minister Polak reiterated that lease lots will not be sold and congratulated Council for its exemplary and successful relationship with the Okanagan Indian Band.

Council met with Premier Clark to discuss the proposed Municipal Auditor General and also the District’s recommendation to create only one department for water affairs as there are currently at least four different ministries with conflicting views on management and protection of water resources. Minister of Environment Terry Lake, who was at the meeting with the Premier, confirmed that the government is already looking at options realizing that the complexity of water service delivery requires proper attention. Minister Lake also offered to meet with Mayor and Council to further discuss their proposal.

 Finally, Council met with the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Blair Lekstrom to follow up on the future maintenance and use of the current Highway 97 corridor along Wood Lake once the four laning project is completed in 2013.  Both the Minister and the District acknowledged the value of the new highway stretch under construction and the old corridor, which will be devolved to the municipality once the new highway section is in operation.  Minister Lekstrom will request that his staff work with the District to finalize the terms of the transition of the old corridor from the Province to the municipality.

 “So far, this has been another successful UBCM convention” said Mayor Baker, “I feel that our concerns are being taken seriously and that our collaborative approach is paying off.  I also wish to acknowledge the hard work of MLA Norm Letnick who is always a strong advocate for our community and has the ear of Cabinet members.”

On Monday evening the District was recognized by Clean Energy BC for its Hydroelectric Generating Station and received the ‘Project of the Year’ Award. The City of Surrey was also recognized as the Clean Energy Community of the Year for its efforts in planning for green energy.

On Wednesday Council will meet with the Minister of Community, Sport & Cultural Development, Ida Chong and the Minister of Health, Mike De Jong.  On the same day Lake Country will be also showcased for its proactive approach to asset management.

Neighbouring Cities Bloom Under Mentoring Program

Community participation and the use of public art have won the District of Lake Country its first award at the provincial Communities in Bloom Awards Ceremony last week. The City of Kelowna also received recognition for mentoring the District through its debut into the international beautification program.

“Lake Country is such a beautiful and diverse place, filled with natural landscapes, tended fields, vibrant gardens and community art. We are so pleased to be recognized for the hard work and dedication of the community,” says Lake Country Councillor Noreen Guenther.

The annual Communities in Bloom program is a friendly competition that encourages municipalities to foster civic pride, environmental responsibility and beautification through local gardens, community programs and green spaces. Each year, members of the local community and city staff create a submission package highlighting the horticultural features of the community and tour judges around the area in August.

This year the neighbouring cities took their mentorship to a new level and partnered on a common presentation theme: Art & Agriculture.

“Being a seasoned Communities in Bloom participant, it’s been our pleasure to mentor a number of cities in the valley including Lake Country,” says Kelowna Communities in Bloom volunteer Suzanne Anderton. “We look forward to one day working together as a valley – from Armstrong to Osoyoos – promoting the Okanagan as a destination for horticultural tourism and setting the whole valley in bloom.”

Setting the stage for next year’s theme “Water”, the City of Kelowna was also awarded “Five Bloom” status for the un-H2O Xeriscape Demonstration Garden at the Mission Recreation Complex at this year’s provincial ceremony. Kelowna will host the annual Communities in Bloom Awards convention in 2012.

For more information on provincial Communities in Bloom program, see For local program information, visit the Communities in Bloom pages on or

Friday, September 23, 2011

Is There Anything Happening in Lake Country? Part 1

I just realized that I have been with the District of Lake Country for 2 years now. Time goes by very fast when one is busy. And we have been very busy. Last night I met with Council to talk about accomplishments and to look at the future as well. It was a very good discussion and I wish to share some points with the Community.
The feeling around the room was that we have established a firm foundation for future Councils through the creation of a vision for Lake Country. By approving a Corporate Business Plan, Council endorsed three main general objectives for the Community:
  • Put Lake Country on the map or, in other words, create a strong identity and awareness of our Community throughout BC and the rest of Canada;
  • Make Lake Country the best place to live in BC by creating a sustainable and vibrant Community;
  • Make the District the best place to work by creating an organization that is trusted and respected by Council and the Community.
These are not easy tasks to accomplish but we have strived to fulfill Council's vision and to assist our local government in moving forward on important issues and projects. As a resident of Lake Country, I too, with my family, desire the best for us and our family and I believe that Lake Country definitely fits the bill. In April we moved in the new Sage Glen subdivision on Chase Road and a couple of nights ago we, together with the other residents, celebrated our new life in an area that not only provides affordable housing but has been a successful attainable housing project thanks to the District's partnership with the Okanagan Foundation, whose purpose is helping a number of qualified families to purchase their first new home. It is all about building a Community.
Some of the things we have done are pretty self-explanatory. Let see what they are.
The two major Council priorities under 'Put Lake Country on the Map' are:
  • Community Branding; and
  • Town Centre Plan
In addition, Council identified Economic Development as a major focus.

The District has completed the Community Branding priority. As a result we now have:
  • A new Logo and Brand;
  • Recognition by Canada Post of Lake Country as a Community;
  • A new Community Portal (website);
  • Advertising in strategic publications targeted at visitors of our valley;
  • Creation of marketing material;
  • Social Media Network Participation;
  • New Banners in the Town Centre;
  • New Tourism Signs in strategic locations.
Obviously, these efforts cannot remain an isolated phenomenon and we will need to work further on marketing the Community. However, these efforts have helped so far in focusing on the other two priorities. With respect to the Town Centre, although there is still much to be done, which is mostly dependent on market conditions, progress has been made and can be summarized as follows:
  • Numerous meetings with the landowners have been held and continue to be held with Council and staff. This is providing the landowners with more confidence that there is support from the District;
  • Meetings have been and are still held with potential buyers/developers to discuss opportunities and options. Just recently we met with a corporate group that has a signed purchase agreement with one of the landowners on Main Street and they are now working on identifying needs and draft a concept for discussion with the District;
  • Council approved a Development Permit for the construction of a TD Bank. Work has begun and construction is progressing;
  • Council has given three readings to the McPhearson rezoning proposal on the south-east side of Main Street and is waiting for Ministry of Transportation approval.
In addition, Council and staff have been working in fostering further economic development and tourism. Some of the things that have happened are:
  • The creation of an Economic Planning & Development Committee, to provide advice to Council on economic development matters;
  • Meetings of staff with various developers to further plans for current land identified for growth under the OCP. Some of these meetings have moved to development applications such as the rezoning of the AMG site on Oceola Road (Turtle Bay Crossing Commercial development), the redevelopment of the Oyama Sawmill site (an application is forthcoming), the advancement of the McCoubrey Plateau Neighbourhood Plan study, whose final drafting should be ready for Council review in the next month or so, the Lakestone development, the Turtle Bay Campground, the rezoning of the Royston property on Chase Road for attainable housing just to cite a few;
  • The creation of a District Staff Economic Development Working Group, to move along economic development decisions;
  • Increased partnership with the Chamber of Commerce through a current review of the Visitor Information Centre services and direct participation to the Chamber Tourism Committee;
  • The creation of the Okanagan Indian Band and District Working Group, which meets monthly to discuss mutual economic development opportunities;
  • The creation of a District Staff Agriculture Economic Development Working Group, to further advance the District's Agricultural Plan and related economic growth opportunities.
All of this just in two years. But it is not all. Stay tuned for more information to come in the next few days.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lake Country Showcased at NABOC

If you missed this news release from last week…

The District of Lake Country was showcased at the National Aboriginal Business Opportunity Conference (NABOC) in Osoyoos for its advanced branding and First Nations relations.

The new brand and website were portrayed as a successful business story of a local government reinventing itself and putting the community 'on the map'. Lake Country is becoming widely recognized for its individuality thanks to its marketing efforts, which are bringing more development opportunities in the community and its Town Centre, and its extensive social media network. The District's Facebook page, Blog, and Twitter, together with its new community portal, are creating awareness and a positive energy about the community.

In addition, Lake Country was recognized for its progressive leadership in its partnership relations with the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB). The District and OKIB signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2005 and at the beginning of this year, the relationship was taken to a higher and more active level with the recognition by the District of OKIB traditional rights and the creation of an Action Working Group, with members from both governments, to tackle partnership opportunities, especially in the areas of economic development and community services. The Working Group meets monthly and is actively pursuing a number of ideas.

"We are very pleased with the progress our community has made in the last two years" Mayor Baker stated, "Notwithstanding the difficult economic environment, the District of Lake Country has shown proactive leadership in Economic Development and we are beginning to see the fruits our labours."

The District will be recognized for its Hydroelectric Generating Station project, which will bring revenue to the municipality, by Clean Energy BC at its annual conference in Vancouver on September 26th.

Community Input on Agri-tourism Accommodation

The District of Lake Country would like to invite residents to attend an open house on October 5, 2011 from 3pm to 7pm at the Municipal Hall. The purpose of the open house is to obtain public input to aid the District in developing possible policy amendments to better guide agri-tourism accommodation.  

Based on public feedback, the District has recently curtailed new Agri-tourism operations in the community while it undergoes a public consultation process. Council wishes to give the community and stakeholders time to participate in a meaningful manner and create new Agri-tourism policy criteria that will meet the needs of both residents and farmers alike.

District staff will be presenting a brief background on Agri-tourism in BC and the District along with presenting possible options to amend Agri-tourism as permitted use within the community. The District is looking for public feedback to guide the development of future Agri-tourism policy.

Should anyone not be able to attend the October 5, 2011 open house, the information boards and copies of the open house survey will be on display at the District Municipal Hall until October 13th, 2011.

For more information contact: Development Services staff at the District of Lake Country. Tel 250-766-5650 or

Sept. 20th Council Meeting Highlights

The Public Hearing for Zoning Amendment (Royston) Bylaw 795, 2011 was held and there were approximately 8 people in attendance.  Bylaw 795 proposes to rezone the property at 9614 Chase Road from single family to duplex.  No letters were received and no comments were heard from the gallery at the public hearing for the rezoning.

On June 7th Council discussed concerns around the development of Agritourism accommodation on ALR Land and recommended that the agritourism accommodation provisions in the zoning bylaw be removed until significant public consultation had been undertaken. Council directed staff to initiate the consultation process suggesting that a meeting be held in each ward of Lake Country.  Staff proposed that one centralized meeting be held at the Municipal Hall on October 5th allowing a greater breadth of conversation and larger attendance to discuss issues related to Agritourism. One centralized meeting will also allow the attendance of outside stakeholders to attend one meeting rather than a several meetings, saving time and money. Council suggested the possibility of holding the meeting over several days allowing more options for residents to attend.

Council adopted Building Bylaw Forms Policy No. 11.118 which simply standardizes the forms, permits and applications that are a part of Building Regulation Bylaw 709, 2011.  By adopting these forms as policy, rather than as part of the Bylaw, the forms can be easily updated and changed through policy amendments rather than through Bylaw amendments.

The applicant for DVP 2011-005 initially commenced construction of a 2-storey deck off the rear of the house without applying for a building permit and was requested to stop work.  It was then determined that a variance was required as the rear yard setback was being encroached upon. The property slopes downward from Dakota Road to the rear property line and is rather unusable due to the slope.  One neighbouring resident spoke against the proposed variance suggesting that the deck would reduce the surrounding views. Council discussed a potential allegation of an illegal suite in the home and after some discussion, approved Development Variance Permit DVP2011-005 varying the required rear yard setback from 6 m to 4.38 m.

The applicant for DVP 2011-008 requested a variance to reduce the required side yard setback from 3 m to 2 m to build a 2938 sq ft accessory building with a games room/gym and garage, behind the existing dwelling. Approximately four neighbouring residents submitted letters opposed to the variance.  Council denied the variance noting that there are several modifications that can be made to the building whereby it would meet the required setbacks and eliminate the need for a variance.

Owners of 10 properties along Stubbs and Ottley Roads in Lake Country made application to have their properties rezoned from Rural Residential 2 to Rural Residential 3 to allow for future subdivision. The bylaw received first reading on Aug. 16, 2011 which included a requirement for the property owners to work with staff to develop a conceptual servicing model of the area before second reading was considered. Staff recommended that the detailed servicing concerns be addressed as part of the larger McCoubrey Plateau planning process and after a lengthy discussion, Council referred the bylaw back to staff and the applicant reiterating the requirement for a conceptual servicing model of the area before presenting the bylaw at a public hearing.

Council placed a Notice on Title on a property at 11039 Deldor Road for construction of a building without the required permits violating Building Regulation Bylaw 709, 2011. The property owner has not responded to date and was not in attendance to speak to the item.

Grant Thornton LLP, and its predecessor Rutherford Bazett, have been the District of Lake Country’s auditors since incorporation, as well as the auditors for the former Winfield Okanagan Centre Irrigation District. The firm has an extensive background in serving as auditors for local public sector organizations, including several irrigation districts, the City of Kelowna and the District of Peachland. The existing 5‐year contract has expired with the completion of the 2010 year‐end. Council approved staff’s recommendation and appointed Grant Thornton LLP as the District’s auditors 2011 to 2015.

Council authorized the Annual Operating Agreement for transit service between the District, BC Transit and FirstCanada ULC for April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012 as part of Lake Country’s participation in the Kelowna Regional Transit System. Annual Operating Agreement (AOA)’s with BC Transit and the transit operating company are standard agreements which provide the annual budget, payment schedule from BC Transit to the operating company, the service hours, and fares.  The total cost of the Kelowna Regional Transit System is $18.0 million, with Lake Country’s share being $789,000, or 4.4% of the total. After accounting for fare revenue and BC Transit’s contribution, the 2011/12 AOA estimates the District’s net cost to be about $325,000.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) has agreed to install advanced left turn signals at the intersection of Highway 97 and Beaver Lake/Glenmore Roads. The total cost of the project is $70,000 with construction and installation costs split 50/50 and MoTI absorbing the design costs of about $5,000. Council amended the 2011 Financial Plan to include the District’s portion of $35,000 in the capital budget funded by $27,654 from Council Contingency and $7,346 from Prior Years’ Accumulated Surplus. Installation should be complete this fall.

The Lake Country Fire Department has embarked upon a program to develop a Strategic Plan to guide its activities over the next five to fifteen years. The intent is to establish a direction for the Department to follow as it faces the challenges inherent in any public service agency in this day and age. The Strategic Plan does not deal with direct operational matters such as fire ground activities but rather focuses at a higher level on internal administrative matters, long term financial requirements and sets a course aimed at addressing the way the District manages the fire service. The Fire Chief also presented the Second Quarter Report including stats on incidents, recruit training, inspections, capital projects and more. 

The Human Resources and Skills Development Department of Canada is accepting applications under their Enabling Accessibility Fund Small Project Component with a deadline of September 23, 2011.  The maximum funding for a project is 75% up to $50,000 supplied by the federal government.  Over the past three years, both PARC and the Access and Age Friendly committees have mentioned the idea of an accessible ramp that would allow access to one of the lakes in the community. The exact location hasn’t been decided although Beasley Park beach may prove to be suitable as it is not a fish spawning ground and the depth of the lake is gradual.  Council approved the submission of a grant application and a $12,000 capital expenditure in the 2012 budget contingent on the grant application being successful representing the District’s 25% contribution. If the grant application is approved the project must start by March 31, 2012 and be completed by March 31, 2013 and Council requested that staff engage in discussions with Committees and other community stakeholders before a final location is determined.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lake Country Hydro generation Plant is a Winner…Again!

We have been just notified that the District of Lake Country is the recipient of the 2011 'Project of the Year Award' for the 2011 Clean Energy Awards. This is an annual competition held and administered by Clean Energy BC, which is a not-for-profit provincial organization whose mandate is to develop a viable independent power industry in British Columbia that serves the public interest by providing cost-effective electricity through the efficient and environmentally responsible development of the Province's energy resources. 

Since 1992, the Clean Energy Association of British Columbia (formerly the Independent Power Producers of British Columbia) has been the voice of Clean Energy Producers in BC, to government and the public - when the members (and non-members alike) have chosen to send a collective signal. Also, government policy makers invite Clean Energy BC's input as they prefer principle-driven (versus project-driven) perspectives and the efficiency and fairness of finding an industry consensus position. Clean Energy BC has been active in advocacy with government electricity policy formulation, regulatory processes, permitting procedures, BC Hydro procurement, BCTC services, media coverage, informing the public, local and First Nations governments and resource users throughout BC.

The District is very proud of this accomplishment and for good reasons. This is the second provincial award given to the District on this project: the first time, the Hydro Generation Plant received a Union of British Columbia Municipalities award in 2009.

Once the bills are all paid, the revenue generated by the sale of electricity to BC Hydro will go to a reserve to assist with capital projects with 'green' blueprint. We are estimating an average of $350,000 a year, which equates to a bit more than a 4% tax increase. Not bad for return on investment in the public sector and no wonder the project has won two awards already.

I wish to thank Council, Jack Allingham, who worked on this project since the beginning, and Randy Rose, the Administrator at the time, for their vision and effort to make this vision come true.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

September 6th Council Meeting Highlights

Nominations packages for the 2011 General Election are now available at the Customer Service Centre at the Municipal Hall during regular business hours. Nomination documents can be submitted to the Chief Elections Officer from October 4 to 14, 2011.

Mr. Ron Volk thanked Council for their grant-in-aid contribution to the Custom and Classic Car show that was recently held at Swalwell Park. There was a great turn out with people coming from all over BC and Alberta to see over 200 cars with the oldest car from 1928! The Custom and Classic Car Show was such a success that they were able to donate $2,000 to the Lake Country Food Bank and hope to be back next year with a bigger and better show!

Council approved the 2012 Annual Budget and 5 year Financial Plan guidelines & timelines which supports Council in meeting their objectives and provides direction to staff for the budget process for the upcoming budget cycle. The budget cycle will be more ‘on-time’ being approved as early as possible in the year.

Staff have been involved in negotiations with property owners on Greenhow Court regarding the transfer of ownership of a strata common property. Staff worked with the owners to determine necessary upgrades and the owners submitted a petition to have the area established as a Local Service Area. Council approved the petition and gave 3 readings to Local Service Area Establishment Bylaw 797, 2011 & Greenhow Court Local Improvement Expenditure Bylaw 798, 2011.

Council placed a Notice on Title on a property on Pretty Road where a garage addition has been constructed without a Building Permit. The addition encroaches into required separation space between mobile homes and requires a Development Variance Permit and a Building Permit for the construction. The owner was advised that the matter was to be presented to Council but no response was received prior to the meeting.

The six‐month financial results indicate that overall the District is within budget but some departments are struggling due to negative variances in revenue.  Overall, the operating budget is under budget which is an improvement from the same period last year. The operating budgets of General Revenue, General Government, Engineering, Parks & Recreation, Development Services, Transit and Sewer are over‐budget. Managers are working diligently to make adjustments where possible. All other departments and functions are under budget. Most departments have operational items and projects whereby expenditures are not made evenly throughout the year. While there has been a serious attempt to account for these seasonal influences in the figures above, a department’s final year‐end figure could be dramatically better or worse. In addition, since the operating results are only to the middle of 2011, there are many future factors that could impact the bottom line negatively or positively. See all the details in the complete report to Council.

The Winfield Curling Club has leased the Winfield Recreation Centre facility for many years in order to operate the club, lounge activities, ice making and janitorial duties.  The club continues to provide a valuable service to the community and the District enjoys a solid working relationship with the board and their staff.  Council approved a 5 year lease agreement with the Winfield Curling Club from April 1, 2011 to March 30th, 2016 which will continue to allow the club and the District an opportunity to offer a good facility and programming to the club’s members and public.

Council endorsed the proposed Regulation Regarding Relations between RDCO Board, Electoral Area Directors and Partner Municipalities.  Earlier this year the Regional District of the Central Okanagan (RDCO) Board drafted an internal & external Regional Relations Code of Conduct that sets out guidelines for dealing with regional partners and promoting the development of effective working relationships. Council endorsed the Proposed Regulation Regarding Relations between RDCO Board, Electoral Area Directors and Partner Municipalities to ensuring that quality and effective services are continued to be provided.