Grand Forks Mayor says he is not permitted to do his job

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Frank Konrad is the elected Mayor of Grand Forks – he repeated an earlier comment of a witch hunt today on a CBC daybreak radio show. “I am not being permitted to do my job ” said Konrad. I was elected on a platform of transparency.”

The mayor of Grand Forks refuses to explain turmoil at City Hall says CBC.

A recent legal opinion from Young Anderson claims Konrad is in a partial conflict and one councilor is in a total conflict of interest on the subject of water meters being installed in this Boundary country community.

When asked why he refuses to explain the situation Mayor Konrad says he must respect the Charter and all information was discussed in an in-camera meeting. Only two press releases were made public by the City staff.

Here is the one not yet published on ODN:

Grand Forks, BC – In their commitment to the public to be transparent and open Council would like to advise the public that the City of Grand Forks sought a legal opinion, from the organizations lawyers Young Anderson, regarding a conflict of interest that Mayor Konrad and Councillor Julia Butler are perceived to be in.

The opinion received advised that Mayor Konrad has an indirect pecuniary conflict of interest in relation to the Water Meter Work, and Councillor Butler has a direct pecuniary interest in relation to the Water Meter program. Both Mayor Konrad and Councillor Butler have been advised that they should recuse themselves from any further participation in relation to the respective matters in respect of which Young Anderson believes they have a conflict of interest and has advised both parties that they should obtain independent legal advice on the issue.

Young Anderson further advised that the remainder of Council should encourage Mayor Konrad and Councillor Butler to recuse themselves from any further participation in relation to the respective matters.”

Council subsequently launched a supreme court action to have a declaration made that Council Butler is in conflict and should be removed from office.

Mayor Konrad ended his CBC interview today with this “Would you move to Grand Forks?” “Would you really think this is a great community to live in with what is going on with city government?”

A Syrian family for Oliver

The Catholic church community in Oliver has been considering the idea of assisting a Syrian refugee family to move to Oliver. Local church folk don’t feel that we have the resources to manage the task on their own and would like to gauge the interest from the rest of Oliver.

From the information gathered thus far, the federal government would support the family for 6 months to the tune of 1500.00 per month. Months 7 – 12 would be taken on by the sponsoring group if the family has not managed to become self-sufficient by that time. Aside from financially assisting them, the greatest task is helping them with paperwork and adapting to Canadian life. We would need to find affordable accommodation and assist in job search.

Other groups in the valley are doing the same organizing. There is a group from the United Church in Summerland as well as 3 groups in Kelowna that have “adopted” families.

In Kelowna a Syrian family of refugees is preparing for life in the Okanagan after arriving this week.

The two parents and five children escaped Syria soon after the civil war broke out there in 2011. The Alshahoud family has waited four years in Jordan for approval to immigrate to Canada. They found out last week they fly to Kelowna.

The volunteers sponsoring them spent weeks looking to rent a house that’s big enough for seven people.

The family will be the second from Syria to settle in the Okanagan since their country became a living hell.

Volunteers with Summerland United Church found a small house for the Arabic-speaking parents and three kids. They’ve started taking English lessons and going to school in Summerland.

Three Catholic churches have applied to sponsor more families: St. Charles Garnier, St. Pius X in Kelowna, and Christ the King Parish in Oliver have asked to bring in one group each.

What could we in Oliver do to help? Accommodation, support, education, recreation etc. ? Think about it.

Wally’s world

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Was suprised to see this Vulture – he or she was feasting on a run over marmot – Wally Brogan

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Rural report with Laird Smith

laird smith bigger22The volunteering that Wally and Auntie Kay did was either church related or fruit farm related. I don’t recall them doing anything outside of those theaters. In their day there wasn’t the thousands of charitable organizations that we have today.

This past week-end, Nelly and I volunteered for a charity at a casino. The charity provided the staffing for the transaction end of the casino, positions such as banker, cashier, chip runner, and cash counter ( an end of the night position). Any positions unfilled by the charity are filled by “angels” who regularly volunteer at any casino where ever they are needed. All the positions are over seen by paid casino employees.

Every day of the week for three months, different charities provide volunteer staff and the casino shares the accumulated winnings with those charities at the end of the three months. The last time I volunteered at that particular casino, the charity I worked for received $80,000.00.

Because there are so many charities clamoring for volunteer space, each one is only allowed to send volunteers every 2 years.

The larger charities will work a week-end while the smaller ones work less during the week.

My portion of the shift was from 11 PM to 3:30 AM. I was in the cash counting room with 7 others, 4 being “angels”. The “angels” were all people who don’t sleep much at night so they volunteer instead and are happy to do it.

One other thing that each charity does is to provide a meal to each volunteer. The casino food is priced low. For example, Sunday night I had prime rib at a cost of $10.00. Even though the food was served at the end of the night it was still very good. The portion was not overly large, but then there was no waste.

When I consider how I spent my week-end, I find myself wanting more of a sense of community, which is something I haven’t found in a casino. When Wally and Auntie Kay volunteered, they had that sense of community, for they knew the people they worked with and they were committed to supporting those people.

My outlook has changed and I want more than casino volunteering can give me. For me it is less about the business end of the charity and more about developing friendships. I think that is what Auntie Kay and Wally saw in their volunteering too.

Grand Forks – water meters and conflict of interest

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The city’s web page was down earlier and is now back up with no current news releases. The corporate officer has not return the calls from ODN.

Here is letter from Councillor Julia Butler published in the Boundary Sentinel and the GF Gazette

Over the past few months, Grand Forks City Council has received a few complaints directed towards myself and the mayor, suggesting us to be in a conflict of interest with regards to the water meter program and water rates committee.

As we both had a strong objection to the program during the campaign period, it isn’t surprising that proponents of the commodification of water should object to our involvement.

In January, our acting CAO, at an open public meeting, accused the mayor of being in a conflict of interest with regards to any discussions around water meters. Mayor Konrad denied such an interest and stated in the Gazette that it was “a witch hunt.”

Should these complaints be followed up with legal action it would prove costly for all involved. I take these accusations very seriously and as such, have retained the municipal law firm Baker and Baker at my own expense. Their findings, in alignment with the Community Charter state,

“The conflict of interest provisions of the Community Charter would not apply to you.

“Section 104 (a) of the Community Charter provides that if an interest of the council member is a pecuniary interest in common with electors of the municipality generally; restrictions on participation in matters which otherwise might be considered a conflict do not apply because your interest would be deemed to be in common with the rest of the community.

*For a councillor to be precluded from participating in a matter before the council, there must be a pecuniary interest held by that particular member which is different in kind,- not merely in degree, from any pecuniary interest held by electors affected by the matter generally. In this respect, it is not the matter which is the key issue in determining whether there is an interest in common, but rather it is the issue of a pecuniary interest in the matter.

“In our opinion, you do not have, through your business, a pecuniary interest that is different in kind.”

To further remove myself from the perception of a conflict I have dissolved my personal yard care business and taken work with another company.

I plan on following through with the promises I made to the public in November, to help keep water affordable for all members of our community and to minimise unreasonable government intrusion into residents’ homes.

Julia Butler, Councillor, City of Grand Forks

***

Thanks to DELLA MALLETTE

Editor / Production Manager, Grand Forks Gazette

***

dybreak south

Council Digest by Roy Wood

Recharging at Visitor Centre

The Oliver Visitors Centre will be the site of a dual-outlet charging station for electric cars. Two other options – Town Hall and a Parks and Recreation site near the lawn bowling facility – were rejected in favour of the old CPR building. Operations director Shawn Goodsell told council he believes that the charging station could be installed within the $7000 budget allocated earlier. The initial recommendation from staff was for one stand-alone charging station that could service all makes of electric cars, rather than accept an offer for a free Tesla-only station offered by Tesla Motors.
Council instructed staff to pursue the idea of installing one all-vehicle outlet as well as the free one from Tesla.

Sister cities hand-off

The Town of Oliver has delegated the management of its Sister Cities Program to the Oliver Tourism Association (OTA). The association will oversee the sister city agreements with Lake Chelan in Washington state and Bandai, Japan, including the money in the town’s budget for the program. The OTA becomes responsible for hosting delegations from the two sister cities and purchasing corporate gifts related to the visits. As well, one-third of the cost of airline tickets or youths and chaperones traveling to Bandai are covered. The town grants are $1000 for the Lake Chelan program and $2500 for Bandai.

Seamstress shop OK’d

Oliver council agreed to “think outside the box” Monday as it approved an application for a seamstress shop in the building currently occupied by Okanagan College. In recommending the temporary use permit, Chief Administrative Officer Heidi Frank told council that staff has been encouraged to think outside the box in efforts to attract an encourage businesses in the town. The seamstress shop is not an allowable use under the current zoning of the property, but council approved the temporary usage.

Gallagher Lake plan
The perils of highway traffic zooming through the community of Gallagher Lake is a key issue that needs to be addressed in the current development of an Official Community Plan for the area, Mayor Ron Hovanes said Monday. Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen development service manager Donna Butler told council Monday that such a plan is under way and should be completed later this year. She appeared to inform council of the plan’s development and to invite “preliminary comments … ahead of the envelopment of a Draft Area Plan.” Hovanes pointed to the traffic on Highway 97 street lighting as “the biggest issue I’ve heard.”

Loss of mall tree lamented – by Roy Wood

In an emotional lament to council and staff on Monday, Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes mourned the recent removal of three stately trees from the boulevard of the Oliver Place Mall.

Upon noticing the recent disappearance of the trees, Hovanes instructed staff to prepare for a discussion at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting about the town’s tree management policy. Operations director Shawn Goodsell told council that mall management approached the town asking if it would remove the trees. They were concerned about the trees growing into the adjacent power lines and blocking signage at the mall.

Told that the town doesn’t offer that service, the mall went ahead and had the trees taken down. “I was surprised they took them down so fast,” he said. Goodsell said the mall had been responsible for the costs of maintaining the trees.
Hovanes told council that when he saw that the trees had been removed, “I had never been so upset.”
The mayor conceded that the mall was within its legal rights to remove the trees, so long as it followed the Town regulations and plant two other trees, one on the same site and one somewhere else. Hovanes said he is concerned about the long-term outlook for trees in Oliver. “They say the best time to plant a shade tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now,” he said. Goodsell responded that the current tree policy left his department powerless to prevent the removal of the mall trees.

“Unless there are some teeth I can use (some regulation) that we can enforce,” there is nothing the town can do in such a situation, he said. There is much that is being done, however, regarding the 2011 Oliver Tree Inventory and Management Plan, said town horticulturalist Mark Jamieson.

About half of the town’s inventory of more than 800 trees have been pruned to international standards. Twenty-seven trees have been removed because of poor structure or health. A pest management program has been partially completed along with soils analysis. Council took no action on the trees issue.

Loose Bay gets $2500 by Roy Wood

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Acknowledging the value of the Loose Bay campground to the town, Oliver council agreed Monday to grant $2500 to help with operating costs for the year.

Several councillors insisted, however, that an accurate accounting of operating costs would be required in order for the town to continue helping the operation in the future.

The campground, established to accommodate itinerant fruit pickers, is the spring and summer home to fluctuating groups of from a couple of dozen to hundreds of agricultural workers, mostly young and from Quebec. It opened for this season on May 15.

The campground came into focus for council two weeks ago when a staff report indicated that water, provided free by the town to the campground, was not being used efficiently. The report indicated that the water consumed last season was worth about $4300, had the fees not been waived.

At the May 11 meeting, Water Councillor Andre Miller said, “We should tell them we’ll charge the full rate and they’ll fix it.”

Loose Bay spokesman Greg Norton appeared at council Monday to plead the case for Loose Bay, saying there had been technical difficulties involving the high-pressure water system.

He said a sprinkler that had been running 24 hours per day will not be used this year and that there will be “a significant reduction” in water consumption this season.

loose one22Councillor Jack Bennest told council he favours helping Loose Bay to continue operating, but through a grant-in-aid rather than a direct contribution to operating costs.

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen Director Area C Terry Schafer said the ideal solution would be for the town and the RDOS to share the burden of supporting Loose Bay.

Mayor Ron Hovanes said council has always seen the benefits of Loose Bay, particularly to town parks where the transient pickers often congregated before the campground opened.

Council unanimously approved the $2500 grant, which will allow for accurate data collection around the operating costs of the campground.

 

Record breaking weekend races

a vega22Dan Hodson D9 Images.com (copyright)

Grand Forks’s Victor Kienas launches his super-charged 1973 Chevy Vega from the starting light at Wine Country Racing Association’s first drag race of 2015.

Last Sunday, May 24, the drag racers and spectators showed up in droves at the Osoyoos airport.

74 cars put on a record-breaking 275 races, which brought the following people to the winners’ circle:

Sportsman Bracket

Kayle Shaw (black 1975 Chevelle), from Penticton, fought his way to the top over 43 other vehicles defeating Westbank’s David Scherk (blue 1986 Chevy pick-up).

Pro Bracket

Oliver’s Shana Cachola (pink 1972 Chevrolet Nova) drove to the top of the pack when she defeated Summerland’s Taylor Dean (grey 2007 GMC diesel truck).

Super Pro

Michael Stewart (white 1967 Chevy II) of Cloverdale, BC drove a long way to take the trophy from Sicamous, BC’s Brad Heppner (black 1989 ED Quay Dragster).

Bike/Sled

Steve Clement (red and black 2006 Yamaha snowmobile), from Penticton, defeated Oliver’s Duane Hamm (orange 2009 Suzuki motorcycle).

Fastest Reaction Time

To get a perfect reaction time off of the starting light is an honour. This weekend two drivers get to boast about earning this trophy.

Elvis Glenn of Osoyoos, BC (black 2001 Ford Mustang)

Ben Dominato of Kelowna, BC (white 1981 Ford Mustang)

Be prepared for more racing. The next event is only two Sundays away. The entire weekend of June 5, 6, and 7 can be filled with cars. Cactus Jalopies (www.cactusjalopies.ca) and Wine Country Racing Association (www.winecountryracing.ca) make for a car-lover’s dream weekend.

Gates open at 9 a.m. Drivers interested in racing need to show up early for registration. Cars start flooding the track at 11 a.m. Final elimination event starts at 1 p.m.

 

Okanagan – hot spot for bats

bats22The BC Community Bat Project network is gearing up for another busy year. The “Got Bats” initiative is a network of community bat projects established to raise awareness about bats.

A toll-free phone line and website provides information on managing bats in building, encounters with bats, and how to attract bats. Visitors to www.bcbats.ca will be linked to Okanagan regional coordinator Margaret Holm.

“The Okanagan is definitely a hot spot for bats,“ said Holm. “Last year there were calls from people who had established bat colonies in their homes and summer cabins and were happy to see the bats each year, while others wanted information on excluding bats. We offer information on both topics.”

Of the 16 species of bats in the province, over half the species are declining and could become endangered. Recently the Little Brown Myotis, a species that often roots in buildings, was listed as Federally Endangered due to the devastating impacts of White Nose Syndrome in eastern Canada. This introduced fungus has killed approximately six million bats in North America. Since the disease is not thought to be in western Canada, community bat projects are doing all they can to promote bat conservation prior to its arrival.

Funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and federal Habitat Stewardship Program, and supported by the BC Conservation Foundation, the Okanagan Community Bat Program is soliciting information on bats roost locations and can provide site visits and advice to residents with bats in buildings.

“We are encouraging people to report their bat colonies to the BC Bats program and to help by doing bat counts. This can provide important information on whether local bat populations are going up or down,” stated Holm. Just relax in a comfortable lawn chair and count bats exiting a building just before it is fully dark. The bat program will provide count sheets and instructions.

If you need help with bats on your property, would like to start a bat count, or want more information on bats, visit www.bcbats.ca or call 1-855-9BC-BATS (922-2287).

Give it up – for one day – you need to practice.. a lot

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Lil Rusch, BC Lung Association Volunteer Director for the Osoyoos/Oliver region encourages British Columbians who smoke to give quitting a try for 24 hours for a chance to win $250.

British Columbia has the lowest smoking rate in Canada – just 11.4 percent — and so has much to celebrate this World No Tobacco Day (May 31). The BC Lung Association believes we can do better still, and is calling on the 500,000 British Columbians who continue to smoke to commit to a 24 hour quit by signing up for the Tobacco Free Tuesday contest on June 2nd.

Held on the first Tuesday of every month, Tobacco-Free Tuesdays provides aspiring quitters the challenge and incentive to quit smoking for 24 hours for their chance to win $250 cash – about the equivalent a pack-a-day smoker will save a month by quitting. The contest is open to all British Columbians who are current or recently-quit smokers and 19 years or older.

“Today, there are more than twice as many former smokers than there are current smokers. Quitting smoking may not be easy, but clearly it can be done,” says Lil Rusch, BC Lung Association Volunteer Director for the Oliver region.

“The goal of the contest is to give people the extra motivation they need to overcome their fears of failure, the incentive to commit to a day, and ultimately the confidence of achieving that first 24 hour milestone,” explains Rusch. “The trick to quitting smoking is that there is no trick. You’ve just got to go for it – and stay persistent!”

Time to jive

jive22OSOYOOS – The first phase of improvements to the waterfront Gyro Beach area in Osoyoos is complete in time for the summer season. The $600,000 Phase A includes construction of a lighted stone walkway, boardwalk, extended grassy areas, tables, benches, trees and extensive landscaping.

Phase B of the project, an extension of the stone walkway, is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2015. The improvements will be enjoyed by both locals and visitors to the town of Osoyoos, where tourism is a major economic driver.

The $10.5 million a year Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funding program managed by the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training helps small, tourism-based municipalities attract visitors. This is the largest RMI project to date in Osoyoos.

Linda Larson, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen –

“Tourism is a major driver of the economy in Osooyos and these improvements to Gyro Park will greatly enhance visitors’ perceptions of the community. Making our tourism amenities even more attractive and enticing ensures many more visitors will come and see what our region has to offer.”

Sue McKortoff, Mayor of Osoyoos –

“The Gyro Park Phase A project is a needed improvement to our waterfront/Gyro Beach area. Thanks to the RMI funding, we are happy to have this portion completed for the 2015 summer season. It will be enjoyed by locals and visitors who use the beach, and enjoy the special events scheduled there – including Cactus Jalopies Car Show, Canada Day Cherry Fiesta and Music in the Park.”

Kyah Allen of Oliver

Kyah April 2015 (2)

Kyah Allen wins second prize in music contest

FRESH BC TALENT QUEST – SEASON 3 Winners

Group A – 1st Place – Neveah Dyson, 2nd – 9 year old Kyah Allen, 3rd – Sorren Linder, 4th – Candace John

Thanks to all of our performers from Vernon. Lake Country, Kelowna, West Bank, West Bench, Summerland, Penticton, and Oliver communities who took part in our March (first ever) Performers Workshops and the SEASON 3 Talent Quest showcase.

C-Me Live Productions
Fresh BC Talent