Archives for July 26, 2017
Our provincial parks are in trouble
BC Parks stewards some of North America’s most spectacular and diverse landscapes and seascapes. Our parks are at the core of our identity as British Columbians and are vital for supporting our health and economy. Our parks system is the largest provincial system in Canada, and yet it is one of the worst funded per-hectare in the country.
Adequate funding for BC Parks is essential to ensuring the integrity of our parks, including hiring enough park rangers and conservation officers to look after them, and providing visitors with a positive experience. Over the past two decades, the provincial parks system has increased in size significantly, as has the number of visitors, but the operating budget for BC Parks has remained stagnant.
BC Parks’ annual budget so far has failed to keep up with the cost of maintaining and protecting these treasured places. Currently $31M, this hasn’t changed much since 2000, despite a 4.2-million hectare expansion of our parks system in that time. Inflation and a rapidly increasing population spread this amount even thinner.
In November 2016, the provincial government released a new plan called the BC Parks Future Strategy, which broadly outlines a framework for improving the management and operation of our protected areas system. There are some promising components to the strategy, but overall it is largely lacking in details. Without many of the details about funding increases and additional rangers, among other things, it is unclear how this plan will change the current trajectory our parks system is currently following.
One thing we know for sure: without adequate funding, our parks will continue to suffer and run the risk of becoming nothing more than “paper parks” – protected in theory, but not in practice.
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
An Okanagan Falls resident was charged under the Wildfire Act and fined over $1,100 for having an open fire in his backyard.
Sgt. Andrew Baylis said RCMP, the B.C. Conservation Service and Okanagan Falls Volunteer Fire Department all responded to an open burning complaint July 18.
The fire department extinguished the fire. All open burning is banned due to the dry conditions and Baylis said contravening the act “will not be tolerated.”
Source: Black Press digital
From Nick Marty
My concerns about Fortis presentation to be made today:
In their June presentation they listed their “rate design principles” which included “fair appointment of costs among customers”, “price signals to encourage efficient use” and “avoidance of undue discrimination”. And I wrote in saying they should add impact on the environment to this list which is a clearly stated priority of the new government.
In this presentation, they don’t mention any of these principles (presumably because the two-tier system wouldn’t actually meet any of them) coming up instead with a different set of “guiding principles” including:
– 95% of customers should have bill increases no greater than 10% as compared to existing rates
– promote conservation
On that basis, Fortis rejects the flat rate option because it has “unacceptable bill impacts”. They then go on to examine some changes that might be made to the two-tier rate system including adding time-of-use rates but given their starting principles they are clearly intending to maintain a system where the minority continues to subsidize the rates of the majority.
It will be key to question Fortis hard on their “guiding principles”. What’s the basis for the 95% principle? Did they come from BCUC? From the new NDP Government? And why is this the most important principle and the basis of all their “analysis”. Why are they now ignoring the rate design principles outlined in their June presentation? Is this because the RCR doesn’t meet these principles? “Promote conservation” is very different from “price signals to encourage efficient use”. What happened to “fair appointment of costs among customers” and “avoidance of undue discrimination”? In fact, their 95% principle guarantees discriminatory rates? It would appear that Fortis’ sole guiding principle is actually to maintain the shifting of the burden of rate increases onto a minority of customers even though this is resulting in incorrect price signals not related to cost and discriminatory rates. How come there is no “environmental” principle? “Promoting conservation” of zero-emitting, renewable hydro by charging higher rates provides no social benefits but increases greenhouse gas and other air emissions (including harmful particulates from wood burning) by encouraging customers to switch to fossil fuels such as natural gas, heating oil and wood.
The Chair of the BCUC told me that BCUC would not be directing Fortis to come up with any one option (which is what happened in 2012 when Fortis was ordered to switch to two-tier rates). Which means that Fortis can no longer deflect our criticisms by pointing to someone else. So we need to demand answers to these questions. Good luck.
Fortis BC is holding a “rate design consultation session” on Wed. July 26, 6:00 pm at the Watermark Beach Resort, Vineyard Room, 15 Park Place, Osoyoos.
West Kelowna – A pair of Mounties, one from West Kelowna and the other Kelowna, conducting boat patrols on Sunday say “a real tragedy was avoided” on the waters of Okanagan Lake when the officers located two youths adrift in the midst of strong gusty winds.
On July 23, 2017 at approximately 2:30 pm, officers heading south on Okanagan Lake, towards Peachland, located two youths floating across the lake on an inexpensive rubber dinghy. The pair were fishing together along the shoreline when sudden strong winds, gusting up to approximately 50 km/hr, pushed the boys into the middle of the lake, an estimated half a kilometer from the shore.
Both the 12-year-old and 13-year-old boys were safely brought on board the RCMP vessel and transported back to the beach in Peachland, where their parents were notified of the mishap.
“Our officers took the time to discuss the peril the youths had placed themselves in,” says Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey. “Those officers wanted to remind the public to ensure they are always prepared when they venture out on the water, that they wear proper life jackets, bring a sound signalling device or other means of communication, as well as carry a means of propulsion such as a paddle or oar if at all possible.”