Dec 12, 2013 / 5:11 am
West Kelowna taxpayers are facing a tax increase slightly less than in past years.
On Tuesday, Council was presented the draft 2014-2023 financial and 10-year capital plan which proposes a tax increase of 2.95% in 2014 with growth expected to be 1.25%.
Within the budget, $457,509 is available for council’s discretion.
In past years, council has used some of those discretionary funds to lessen the tax burden.
Increases to the library budget account for 0.45% of the tax increase and contractual increases for police and fire services have also impacted the increase.
Increases in the district’s operating budget have resulted from cemetery improvements, which will be funded through user fees, and additional contract and maintenance work in parks due to newly-developed parks and capital projects.
The district is also considering pursuing radio advertising and will be taking on bylaw enforcement related to noxious pests and weeds.
Two full-time staff requests have been submitted to Council, to create permanent positions for existing temporary staff, and Council is being asked to consider hiring two summer students as parks ambassadors.
The plan includes $10.5 million in capital projects for 2014 and $4.6 million has been budgeted to put into reserves.
Speaking with Castanet Wednesday, Mayor Doug Findlater indicated he did not anticipate the tax increase number to rise past the 2.95% proposed.
He did indicate funds could be found for projects that could lessen the tax impact.
Next steps in the 2014 budget process are:
- Jan 21, 2014 - Council to have detailed review of the Financial Plan for 1st reading
- Feb 2014 - Public presentation, date and location to be confirmed
- March 2014 - Financial Plan presented to Council prior to drafting bylaw
- April 2014 - Financial Plan and tax rates bylaws to Council for 2nd and 3rd reading
- April 2014 - Financial Plan adoption
In other news from Tuesday's West Kelowna Council meeting:
Regional Growth Strategy - Council agreed not to accept the Regional District of Central Okanagan’s Regional Growth (RGS) Strategy due to concerns with requirements for professional studies that the District does not currently require in its Official Community Plan (OCP). Since OCPs must be consistent with the RGS, this requirement could trigger amendments to existing West Kelowna bylaws. Council also agreed that the District was willing to accept the RGS on the basis that the section in question does not apply to the District of West Kelowna.
Bridge Inventory Status - Council received a report from Stantec Consulting regarding the state of bridges in the District of West Kelowna. The consultant conducted an inspection of the District’s bridges in 2013. The District maintains six vehicular bridges and two pedestrian bridges and the report recommends a repair budget of $181,664 for 2014.
Major Roads Projects - Council was presented with conceptual plans for two major road projects; Gellatly Road Upgrade Phase 4 and Westlake Road Upgrade. Council intends to upgrade both roads from the current rural standard to an arterial cross-section road as defined in the District draft Master Transportation Plan. Both projects were presented to Council with staging options should Council wish to consider upgrading the roads in phases rather than all at once. The total estimated cost for the Westlake Road Upgrade is $5.98 million if phased, $5.66 million if not phased. The total estimated cost for the Gellatly Road Upgrade Phase 4 is $5.35 million if phased, $4.95 million if not phased. Council will consider this work and staging options during its upcoming budget deliberations.
Transfer of Service – Noxious Plants & Pests - Council adopted the District of West Kelowna Noxious Insect Control Bylaw and amendments to associated bylaw enforcement and ticketing bylaws, officially taking over this service from the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO). Earlier this year, the District requested withdrawal from the RDCO’s program and has developed its own program, coming into effect January 1, 2014. The bylaw outlines the procedure to be followed when a complaint is received regarding noxious insects, responsibilities and penalties. The program consists of enforcement and education. The District’s Good Neighbour Bylaw already contains language addressing noxious weeds and no amendment was needed, but educational information will be presented to the public. Funding transferred from the RDCO requisition to the District for these programs is $2,599 for noxious insects and $12,723 for noxious plants which is proposed to be included in the Bylaw Enforcement account for 2014 to administer the programs.
3700 Inverness Road Rezoning - Council adopted a Zoning Bylaw amendment for 3700 Inverness Road from Rural 3 (RU3) to Compact Housing (RC1) to facilitate a future subdivision in Glenrosa. The applicant addressed zoning conditions outlined at third reading on December 11, 2012 including ensuring that environmentally sensitive features and steep slopes are protected and a future pedestrian connection secured.
2013 Breakfast With Business - Council was provided information on the results of the 2013 Breakfast With Business held November 15. 1,516 invitations were sent out to all District business license holders and 105 attended. Participants were asked:
- What community amenities do you or your staff regularly use and what are you/they looking for?
- What training or educational programs or services would you like to have access to in West Kelowna?
- What do you see as the biggest opportunities for West Kelowna business in the next year?
- What will keep you up at night in the next year?
Feedback received indicated that businesses and their staff use public facilities and want an enhanced experience; businesses are looking for more training opportunities for both staff and themselves and for ongoing opportunities to continue to reach out to small businesses. A survey of participants indicated 89% rated the event as “Excellent” or “Very Good”, 94% feel the District is proactively engaging small business, 100% feel they could actively participate and 100% would like to see this event held again next year. Council agreed to host the event in 2014.
Recreational Trails Master Plan - Council adopted the District of West Kelowna Recreational Trails Master Plan. The plan guides improvements to the community’s trail network on District lands. The plan does not dictate what happens on Crown, RDCO or private lands. The plan recommends short and long term improvement recommendations. The short term recommendations exist in the District’s 10-Year Capital Plan at $100,000/year.
CNR Wharf – Phase 1 Upgrade - Council awarded the construction contract totaling $536,541 to Burton Marine Pile Driving Inc. for the CNR Wharf Upgrade Project – Phase 1. This project involves the demolition of the wharf and construction of an upgraded facility including a three-metre platform, one metre platform and swim raft and slide. Construction is expected to be complete by June 2014.
Pritchard Park Plan - Council authorized staff to tender Phase 1 construction of the Pritchard Park Plan and directed staff to monitor the use and concerns associated with Pritchard Park and report back to Council in Fall 2014. Council was presented with key decision points that resulted from a meeting with residents of Pritchard Drive and District staff to discuss concerns with use of the park. that could affect the plan and associated costs as a result of that meeting. Council agreed to increase the size of a wrought iron fence fronting the park from four-feet to six-feet high, ensure improved parking infraction enforcement, and to put an additional $32,000 towards landscape buffering.
Zoning Bylaw - Council gave third reading to the Draft Zoning Bylaw and associated amendments to the Official Community Plan. The current Zoning Bylaw was inherited from the Regional District of Central Okanagan and was last substantially reviewed in 2000. A public hearing was held November 26. As the public hearing has concluded, Council cannot receive any new information on the subject. The Zoning Bylaw will now be referred to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for written approval as per the Transportation Act. Afterwards, the bylaw will be brought to Council for consideration of adoption.
Dec 11, 2013 / 8:59 pm
Winery and orchard owners came together Wednesday in West Kelowna for the BC Government's announcement of their first 12 Liquor Law changes. The changes were recommended by MLA John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Review.
Clark spoke at Volcanic Hills Winery about the recommendations, but one of most talked about suggestions, that being the sale of liquor in grocery stores, was missing from the list.
When questioned on its absence Clark made clear she does support the notion of beer and wine in BC grocery stores, but that the government has public safety concerns they have to work out.
"I'm concerned about the public safety aspect of that, we need to pay real close attention to that, but at the same time we are making sure that BC products do benefit from it," said Premier Clark.
She said she believes the introduction of BC liquor products in grocery stores would increase the foot traffic for the products four fold.
She also says she is well aware that private liquor store operators have argued tooth and nail that selling beer and wine in grocery stores threatens their livelihoods, but she believes when the final plan comes to light she will have changed their minds.
The 12 recommendations going into place are focused on BC products and getting them out to the most people in the most convenient way says Clark.
She says the dozens of benefits will directly affect her West Kelowna riding and the rest of the Okanagan producers by expanding consumers' choices, open up new development opportunities for BC businesses, promote local products and cut red tape.
"We promised to bring British Columbia's liquor laws into the 21st century - to give consumers more choice, give BC businesses more opportunities to grow, while ensuring health and safety," says Clark. "These changes are a step towards that."
Specifically the government is supporting:
- Local manufacturers by cutting red tape on licensing.
- The promotion of BC products and producers, both in-store and by exploring the potential for a quality assurance program for craft breweries and distilleries.
- The growth of the wine, craft brewery and craft distillery industries by allowing the sale of products at locations like farmers' markets and secondary tasting rooms
"Offering out-of-town visitors as well as regular market shoppers the option to taste-test and purchase locally made wines, ciders and craft beer, while they shop for local fruits and vegetables will ensure support for a vibrant farming sector in BC," said Jon Bell, president of the BC Association of Farmers' Markets.
"It's also a great way for small local businesses that use BC grown farm products in alcoholic beverages to reach new customers, while providing increased selection and convenience."
The changes will also allow manufacturers to expand their on-site tasting venues to include, for example, picnic tasting areas in a vineyard.
“Imagine grabbing a bottle of amazing local wine, heading down to the lake and having a picnic,” said Clark.
Clark says there will also be a new and enhanced focus on branding and promoting BC products.
To do so the province will develop new tools, such as smart-phone apps, maps and brochures on BC's wealth of wineries, breweries and distilleries.
"These recommendations are about advancing BC products, building strong opportunities for the small business sector and offering even more compelling reasons to visit and explore British Columbia," said John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform.
"Whether it's enjoying après ski in the mountains, sipping a cold beer at one of our championship golf courses or tasting wine at one of our more than 200 valley wineries - these changes reflect modern marketplace realities and will help us all attract even more visitors to the Thompson Okanagan, and to British Columbia as a whole.,” said Michael J. Ballingall, board chair of Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association and senior VP at Big White Ski Resort.
The BC government's support for these recommendations follows on the heels of the now-completed BC Liquor Policy Review. It is anticipated that the full report will be publicly released in the new year, once Cabinet has had the opportunity to fully consider its 70-plus recommendations.
Here are the 12 recommendations:
- The Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) should improve its marketing of BC liquor products in stores, developing new opportunities for product placement and innovative promotional and educational materials.
- Government should work with industry and tourism associations to develop promotional materials such as maps, apps and brochures on BC wineries, breweries and distilleries.
- Government should work with other Canadian wine-producing jurisdictions to jointly develop thematic wine promotions in each jurisdiction's liquor stores to promote Canadian wine.
- Government should discuss establishing a quality assurance program for BC craft beer and artisan-distilled spirits (similar to the VQA wine program).
- Manufacturers should be able to establish low-risk tasting venues such as a picnic area as part of their existing licence without the need to apply for a specific endorsement. Government should work with industry, local government and First Nations to increase flexibility for tasting options for manufacturers while being sensitive to potential negative impacts, such as noise, on the community.
- Allow manufacturers to offer patrons liquor that was not produced on site (e.g., a winery could sell a beer to a visitor).
- Government should consult with the Agricultural Land Commission about amending the Agricultural Land Commission Act regulations to allow manufacturers operating within the Agricultural Land Reserve to allow more people in consumption areas (e.g. lounges) and to sell liquor that was not produced on site.
- Government should consult with industry and review the minimum requirements to obtain a brewery, winery or distillery licence. Government should also consider how these requirements are regulated by LCLB and LDB to ensure transparency and an effective regulatory system.
- Government should permit BC liquor manufacturers to offer products for sample and sale at temporary off-site retail locations (e.g., farmers' markets), with appropriate conditions. The decision about whether to allow vintners, brewers and distillers to showcase their products at a particular location will be left to the location management (e.g., farmers' market association).
- Allow patrons to buy bottles of liquor to take home that are showcased at festivals or competitions. Consider amending SOLs issued to festivals and competitions, or allow BC Liquor or private retail stores to operate a temporary store on site as the means to provide for these sales.
- Allow manufacturers to have off-site locations where they can sample and sell their products to the public (e.g., permanent tasting rooms in a downtown store).
- Provide a more streamlined and time-sensitive application process to allow facilities such as ski hills and golf courses to temporarily extend their licensed area to another part of the property (e.g., a patio near a ski-hill gondola lift or a temporary patio near a golf clubhouse).
Dec 11, 2013 / 7:14 pm
District of West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater talks with Castanet's Wayne Moore, as seen live on Castanet at 3:15 p.m. Dec. 11.
Dec 11, 2013 / 4:52 pm
A frustrated Shannon Lake man rushed Premier Christy Clark today while she visited the Volcanic Wines Vineyard. The man voicing his concern about BC Hydro’s plan to cut power in his neighbourhood for eight hours on Sunday.
A very shocked Clark tried to remain composed while her staff eased the man a few feet back from her. He was able to speak his mind before being ushered outside.
The man, Graham Stevens, is furious over the planned outage that will leave 471 homes without power.
“Christy Clark says we have to do these things and have planned outages, but I say, plan it better,” shared Stevens with Castanet outside the meeting.
“There has been no planning, no one has checked to see if people have home dialysis units or defibrillators for heart conditions. Someone with the local government told me they weren’t even advised of this,” shared a frustrated Stevens.
BC Hydro will cut power to 471 homes from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday December 15. They say they have to have the down time so crews can install new cables and ducting underground. Ten specific houses on Shannon way will also have their power cut again on Tuesday December 17, at 9 a.m.
“Apparently BC Hydro thought this would be a good time to re-lay the power cables, this project has been dragging its ass since the beginning of November,” says Stevens. “I mean what are we supposed to do for eight hours? It’s going to be freezing cold and dark.”
Stevens argues that those with electric heaters will have no options and those with gas furnaces won't have working blowers either.
Clark mentioned to Stevens that temperatures are supposed to rise on Sunday to three degrees, but Stevens found her answer dissatisfactory.
“She dodged it completely, she was all hugs and kisses when she wanted our votes and now I have to go home and make sure my power is on,” says Stevens.
The forecast for Sunday in Shannon Lake calls for a high of four degrees and a low of two degrees.
BC Hydro is insisting the power outage has to occur now while The District of West Kelowna is building new sidewalks in the Shannon Lake area allowing them to take the opportunity to upgrade their underground system.
BC Hyrdo says ads were put out reminding customers of the power outage and to turn off major appliances and unplug electronics before the outage begins, but Stevens doesn’t believe everyone will get the message.
“All these people will have forgotten to unplug all their items, the power will come back on, everything will turn at once causing a surge and the power will be out even longer. Not to mention the possibility of it burning out their high def TVs."
He says the premier has the ability to stop the power outage.
“She has the power to say reschedule this to the spring and she won't do it,” says an angry Stevens.
He says BC Hydro and the government have not considered the time of year nor the risk they are putting citizens in. Not only will many be without power and heat, he also says anyone not on a Telus home phone line will loose their service as well, leaving them unable to call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
Stevens has approached the District of West Kelowna, as well as the province, Interior Health and now Premier Clark in person.
“I am considering getting an injunction on this, this is absolutely bull****,” said Stevens.
We called BC Hydro asking for their comment on Stevens' concerns, but they did not return our call.
Dec 11, 2013 / 1:51 pm
BC Hydro will be leaving nearly 500 customers in the Shannon Lake area of West Kelowna in the cold and dark Sunday.
A planned power outage is scheduled for Sunday, Dec 15 from 8 a.m. until about 4 p.m. to allow BC Hydro to replace some equipment.
The outage will affect 471 homes in the following areas:
- Hihannah View
- Upper Sundance Drive
- Sandstone Crescent
- Sandstone Drive
- Sunset Place
- Shannon Way
- Westville Place
- Sundance Drive
- Sundance Court
- Sagebrush Court
- Ridgerock Place
- Ridgerock Way
- Shannon Place
- Shannon Court
- Woodstock Drive
If you are in the affected area send your thoughts to [email protected]
Dec 11, 2013 / 12:36 pm
Photo: Contributed - RCMP
Photo: Contributed - RCMP
Police are releasing composite sketches of two individuals believed to be involved in a pair of break-ins last month. They hope the public can help identify them.
On Nov 25 at 12:41 pm, West Kelowna RCMP received a report of a break and enter in the 3100 block of Twin Place. Entry had been gained through a ground-floor window and nearly every room in the house was ransacked.
The police investigation identified a second residence just a few doors down that had also been broken into.
Earlier that day, police had received a report of two suspicious men in the area. They were apparently going door to door saying that they were searching for their lost dog. Witnesses were able to provide a description of the suspects and police are now releasing their composite sketches.
Suspect 1 was described as:
- About 5'7" with a slim build
- Brown hair
- Full beard
Suspect 2 was described as:
- 6' tall
- Clean shaven
- Wearing jeans
Anyone with any information is asked to call the West Kelowna RCMP, Cst MOUNSEY at 250-768-2880.
Remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, leaving a tip online at www.crimestoppers.net or by texting your tip to CRIMES (274637) ktown.
Dec 11, 2013 / 11:37 am
Update - 11:30 a.m.
Kelowna RCMP say no charges were laid after officers discovered the 'weapons' in question were actually air soft guns that were recently purchased.
Original story - 10:30 a.m.
An arrest in West Kelowna Tuesday night got the attention of shoppers at the Westbank Towne Centre Mall after two young adults were ordered out of a vehicle at gunpoint.
Sources say a man and a woman were sitting inside a vehicle parked out front of the government liquor store and brandishing a gun, around 7p.m. last night.
“There was a green pickup truck and two teenagers in the back seat, in plain view, that had a large caliber handgun,” says Jordan, who did not want to provide his last name.
“I made eye contact with them, then just put my head down and kept going.”
He says the gun appeared to be either a .44 caliber or .357 Magnum, but Jordan is not sure if it was real, conceding that it may have been a replica handgun.
After getting into his vehicle, Jordan says he noticed a marked RCMP vehicle across the parking lot and drove over to inform the officers of what he saw. He says they told him they were aware of the situation and were ‘all over it’.
Less than one minute later, he says it was as if every RCMP member of West Kelowna descended on the scene and the two people were taken down at gunpoint.
“I saw a male and female being arrested. They were probably in their late teens, early 20’s,” he says.
“It’s not the kind of thing you see here everyday in (West) Kelowna. It was your typical police walkout, ‘Hands up’, ‘Walk back towards my voice’ type of thing.”
Jordan also says three occupants in another vehicle that parked beside the original truck were also ordered out, but he does not know if those people were arrested as well.
Calls to the RCMP have yet to be returned, but employees at Starbucks and The Dollar Store also confirm a police incident with one person commenting that half a dozen RCMP vehicles were on scene and ‘lit up the night sky’.
Send pictures or video to [email protected]
Dec 11, 2013 / 5:00 am
Calgary based Wholesale Sports Outdoor Outfitters has confirmed it is taking over the old Future Shop location in West Kelowna.
The store, dedicated to hunting, fishing, camping and the great outdoors, will move into the 20,000 square foot store.
The West Kelowna store is the fifth BC location for the Canadian retailer based throughout Western Canada.
"The Kelowna area is obviously a great fishing market but it is also the second largest hunting market in the province. With its proximity to such great hunting, fishing and camping geography, this area really is a sportsman's and sportswoman's paradise. It is a natural fit for a retailer dedicated to the outdoors," says WSS Chief Operating Officer, Glenn Bingley.
"We have a very aggressive building schedule so that we can open as quickly as possible," says Bingley. "The West Bank First Nations council has been excellent to work with. Without their collaboration and cooperation this would be an impossible task. We are very appreciative of their support in working through all the details from lease agreements to building permits and everything in between."
Bingley says the Kelowna area has been on the company's radar for several years.
"It is an ideal outdoor market. It's close to a vast area that is known for great hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits. It fits our business model. It's a growing, yet affordable economic center with a business friendly council and administration. We could not be more excited about coming in to the market."
Future Shop, one of the anchor tenants in the Synatan Shopping Centre on Highway 97, closed its doors January 31 of this year, just 16 months after it opened.
Dec 10, 2013 / 7:07 pm
The District of West Kelowna is looking for a new Chief Administrative Officer.
Jason Johnson informed council today (Tuesday) he has accepted the City Manager's job with the City of Victoria.
He will be leaving his current position with the municipality effective mid-February next year.
“We accepted this news with heavy hearts, but I know all of council is very pleased for Mr. Johnson and the exciting new opportunity he has accepted,” says Mayor Doug Findlater.
“Council has enjoyed an excellent relationship with our CAO during the past six years, he has helped us achieve more than we thought possible and his advice and counsel will be greatly missed.”
Johnson was the first Chief Administrative Officer hired by the newly-incorporated municipality in January 2008.
West Kelowna Council will begin work immediately to find a suitable replacement.
“We will work quickly to begin the recruitment process for a new Chief Administrative Officer, keeping in mind the best interests of the community and District staff as we seek to fill this key municipal position,” says Mayor Findlater.
“I have enjoyed my years at the District, helping to build the new municipality from the ground up with leadership from Mayor and Council and the tremendous help of the municipality’s strong, dedicated staff team,” says Jason Johnson.
Dec 9, 2013 / 7:43 pm
After a summer of diverting water out of their swampy back yard and cleaning up a flooded basement Lana McCaw and her family were still shocked to find the ice age that recently took over their front lawn.
McCaw had been dealing with ground water issues since she moved into the house on Scott Crescent in West Kelowna just over two years ago.
She says she was told by the District of West Kelowna that because her problem was an issue with natural flowing groundwater she should build a trench or some sort of culvert to divert the water.
"I did build a trench and I attached a little bit of a pipe so it would direct away from my house and go on to my lawn not thinking there would be too much water, because it has never flooded my backyard completely or I've never seen it, until it decided to freeze and turn my front yard into a glacier," says McCaw, exasperated after a morning of moving pipe to redirect water away from her lawn.
"I know the issue is with ground water but they tampered with the natural disbursement of the way it drains down the mountain and it became a man made stream."
McCaw says earlier in the year her and her spouse decided to find where exactly the water was coming from, after it destroyed their garden shed.
"We decided to hike up the mountain through our back yard to see where the water was coming from. And that is where we found this storage drain."
The alleged pipe causing issues is located inside Rock Ride Park, (undeveloped land between Griffiths Place and Scott Crescent) managed by the DWK, according to McCaw.
She explains that when she asked the District about the pipe they claimed they conducted a dye test, where dye was added to the stream to see if it ran down through McCaw's property and it did not.
"I don't know when they conducted this test, I asked to see the results and they never showed me. I also asked if they could do it again with me present, but they never did. But when I followed the water it was coming from this pipe on the District's property."
McCaw isn't the only West Kelowna Estate Resident dealing with ground water issues.
Ryan Gurney, who moved to the area two years ago and lives above McCaw, has had problems since his basement was flooded by ground water last November.
"A retaining wall that was brand new at the time started to buckle because of the pressure of the water. The problem just got worse over time," he says. "We had to eventually call in contractors and engineers to ultimately fix the problem, which is still in progress."
After thousands of dollars spent Gurney was told by his contractor that they could only speculate, but they believed the ground water was following the District's utilities line.
In response the District of West Kelowna did not feel it was appropriate to speak with Castanet on camera at this time, but did issue this statement:
"The District’s Engineering Department is very aware of the serious issue a resident on Scott Road (Crescent) is experiencing with drainage. The area of concern, Scott Road, is an area which has historically had groundwater issues, pre-dating the District’s incorporation over five years ago. In fact, the entire West Kelowna Estates area has its share of drainage issues which the District is working to address.
This particular concern is being investigated by the District as we speak. An engineering firm was hired to conduct a study and report back findings and potential solutions. This report will be reviewed by our Engineering Department to determine the appropriate course of action."
Besides frozen lawns and flooding basements, McCaw is also concerned for people's safety after groundwater spilled onto Scott Crescent pooling and freezing.
"Someone could be walking along, slip and hurt themselves or driving along and run into someone," she worries.
DKW responded by staying they are aware of the pooling water on the roads and says a maintenance contractor has been on notice for the area.
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