Dry Creek Update

I was down getting some tires in the area yesterday so I thought I would take some more pictures of the work at Dry Creek.  Things are definitely moving along.  The gallery below will have the pictures I took earlier in the month (and posted here) as well as pictures from yesterday so that you can get an idea of the progression.  Amazing that it has already been almost a month!  The creek behind the businesses on the West side of 3rd is looking very good especially.  Check out all the slideshows below!  And please let me know if the slideshows don’t work on your device.  This is the first time I’ve used them on this page.

First From the 4th Avenue Bridge looking East (upstream) which hadn’t really gotten started in July (and I didn’t take a pic then doh!) :)

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From the 4th Avenue Bridge looking West (downstream)

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From the creek bed behind the Jade Restaurant.

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And the trenching of the rest of Dry Creek

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The next council meeting isn’t until September 17 so things are pretty quiet.  However, there is a Solid Waste Management Committee meeting at the ACRD tomorrow that I will be attending in place of Councillor McLeman.  Good times talking about Garbage and especially what to do with Organics!

Posted in Environment, Pictures | Leave a comment

Hello, this is the Voter Outreach Centre

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A step away from Municipal affairs for this post….  the featured image is from this 2012 canada.com article on Robocalls.

So a ‘funny’ thing just happened…. but first a little background.  On August 4, 2015 (a couple days after the Federal Election was called), I was called by an organization called the “Voter Outreach Centre”. (from 250-275-4682)  From my recollection, the call went like this:

“Hi, this is the Voter Outreach Centre for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. We would like to know if we can count on your support for Stephen Harper in the upcoming election”

I gave them my answer, they said thank you, and hung up.

When I got the call I immediately thought about the robocalls scandal.  But I figured I was just being overly political.  The strange thing is I don’t know how they would have got my phone number as I am not on any mailing lists that I know of.

Then I got a call from Glen McGregor at the Ottawa Citizen.  He has been following this issue closely since last election.  He produced an article this week about this year’s calls including my experience.

So that brings me to today.  I was called by CHEK to talk about the Voter Outreach Centre (I guess this is going to be thing?). Not 2 minutes after hanging up with CHEK, my wife Theresa​ answers the phone and it’s the Voter Outreach Centre again. (from 250-275-4682) For the record, this is what they said to her:

“Hi, this is _name of person_ with the Voter Outreach Centre. We would like to know if we can count on your vote for Stephen Harper in the upcoming election.”

Note the difference from my call?  They didn’t specifically identify the Voter Outreach Centre as being a part of the Stephen Harper campaign.

They are walking an extremely fine line with these robocalls.  The “Fair Elections Act” limits Elections Canada (a non-partisan “umpire” for Elections) from communicating with the public. It has been challenged in court but that won’t be resolved until after this election.  It was also supposed to tighten rules on robocalls.

If you get a call from these call centres (from any party), I would highly recommend writing down exactly what they say. We just don’t know where this is going to end up.  I do not like robocalling and I do not like many things about the “Fair Elections Act”.  I would much rather candidates talk to me personally either in person or online or on the phone.  I get to talk to enough of call centres whenever I have a problem with my media conglomerate owned phone or Internet service.

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Less Fires in the City, More Water in Dry Creeks (where and when it’s supposed to be), and in Dunk Tanks!

A few interesting things happening in City Business.

Big changes to Fires in the City

Over the past couple weeks the City has gone through a bit of a sea change on the fire prevention front and it all comes down to improving Air Quaity.

#1: Backyard Burning Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 8.53.39 AMbanned yearround starting April 16, 2016.

This will not affect campfires but does affect any burning of yard debris on properties in City limits larger than campfire size (1/2 metre).  Burning of land clearing debris and of anything but clean, dry wood has been banned in City Limits for a number of years already.  The ban specifically refers to fires of up to 1 metre that are hand-piled.  Alternatives to this final step will be to bring all your yard waste to the dump (it is generally free or very inexpensive) or hopefully in the intervening year the City will be able to start up a Kitchen and Yard Waste program or otherwise provide a yard waste pickup day for residents to put out their yard clippings in spring and fall.  Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 8.53.14 AMThe reason for the ban is Air Quality.  Backyard bunring in the fall especially contributes to very bad air quality and has led to multiple Advisories over the past few years including the two in November and December shown in the pictures on the left and right.  We ar
e stuck in our beautiful little Valley with inversions that trap the smoke from peoples fires and stoves.  While stoves can be upgraded to burn very efficiently (more on that below), backyard burn piles cannot.  Many other communities like ours have banned backyard burning for the same reason.  I would not be surprised to see it grow to a Valley wide ban through the ACRD in the near future.  Emissions from fires cause major health problems especially for the young and elderly.

#2 Non-EPA Woodstoves phased out by 2017

old_stove_versus_new_stoveDid you know that the City has been in the throes of a five-year sunset clause on all Non-EPA wood stoves?  That means, by January 1 2017, all non-EPA wood stoves must be removed from City residences.

Non-EPA Woodstoves are already required to be removed from properties at the time of a sale.  There have also been exchange programs through the Air Quality council for a number of years where people can get discounts on new stoves by bringing in their old ones.

 

#3 When is the Tsunami Warning System actually used?

Ever wonder what it actually takes to have our Tsunami Warning System actually used?  Well, it is in our new Fire Control Bylaw in the July 13 Agenda.

  1. (xiii)  activate the Tsunami Warning System in the following situations:(A)  a tsunami warning affecting the Port Alberni area has been issued by Emergency Management British Columbia;(B)  a tsunami warning affecting the Port Alberni area has been issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Warning Center;(C)  An earthquake affecting the Alberni Valley occurs, the magnitude of which makes standing difficult.

Work Begins on Dry Creek Project (while fish being moved too).

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 9.27.20 AMWork has begun on the Dry Creek Mitigation project.  There has already been digging work done in the channel between 4th and 3rd Avenue and behind Smitty’s.  More significant work involving the bridges, culverts and buildings in the area that had to be bought by the City will be happening very soon as well.

Here are some ‘before’ pictures from the Dry Creek Mitigation Study done in 2013. Click for full size.

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 9.31.01 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 9.28.16 AM

And here are some current pictures from this morning.

As you can see, it’s a big project!  This is all to try to mitigate the flooding on 3rd avenue and also will provide some better fish habitat.  The original stream of course did not conveniently curve around the industrial properties but rather empty pretty much straight from 4th Avenue into where the fisherman’s harbour is now.  But this is an attempt to improve the situation both structurally and environmentally.  Soon, many of the buildings along the creekside between 3rd and 4th will be demolished to make way for the larger stream bed and the added culvert under third avenue.

Dunk Tank!

And last but not least this Sunday, August 2 between 4:30PM and 5PM you have the exciting opportunity to drop me in the dunk tank at the Blue Marlin (former Arlington)!

(Click the picture for the Blue Marlin’s Facebook Event PageScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 11.10.19 AM)

 

 

They are raising money for Ty Watson House.  The event runs from 4PM to 9:30PM.  So come on by dunk some councillors and other community folks and enjoy what they have to offer.  All for a great cause.

4:00-A rep from Ty Watson
4:30-Christopher Alemany (City Council)
5:00-Denis Denis Sauve (City Council)
5:30-Nancy Wilmont (Shaw TV)
6:00-Kevin A Wright (SteamPunk Cafe and Coffee House)
6:30-Sproat Fire Hall
7:00-Cathy Braiden (Remax)
7:30-Beaver Creak Fire Hall

Stuff happening:
Live Music “The Enablers”
Dunk Tank
Lots of Kids activities
Pony Rides
Horse & Carriage Rides
Free Hot Dogs for kids 6 & under. Over that age $5.00 and includes a cold beverage.
Pork Roast Dinner, Corn on the Cob, & Salads – $12.95
Proceeds to the Ty Watson House in memory of Ed Walcot.

 

Posted in Climate Change, Environment, Family, Politics | Comments Off on Less Fires in the City, More Water in Dry Creeks (where and when it’s supposed to be), and in Dunk Tanks!

The Double Edged Sword of the Politics of Fear

In the past two weeks we have had two very separate but similar instances where fear has played a large role in decision making.  I’m going to start with the most recent one.

Fear wins over contracts and trust

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At the just completed council meeting on Monday July 13th (Agenda) Councillor Minions and I brought forward what looked like a complex motion on the surface, but was really simple at its core.  Here is the motion:

WHEREAS the City of Port Alberni entered into a Lease of Lot A and B of the “Plywood Site” with the Port Alberni Port Authority on July 1, 2014.

WHEREAS the terms of the Lease state that during the first year of the Term the Tenant must commence “industrial activity on the land” or the Lease “will be terminated upon 90 days written notice”, and also “provide landscaping improvements” and these milestones and covenants have not been met,

WHEREAS the terms of the Lease also included non-binding expectations of:

– Shared use of the Parking on Lot B for users of the Beach
– Construction of stairs from Lot B to Lots A/C which public may access to beach
– PAPA provision of utilities required to Lot A

BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Port Alberni give the agreed 90 day notice of termination of the Lease beginning July 15th, 2015.

There are a lot of whereas’s and things there but that was only to spell out the situation as clearly as possible and have it be part of the public record.

The simple explanation is this:

The City and Port Authority signed a lease (Download the full lease from 2014 Agenda here) for Lot A and B of the Plywood site with certain conditions that were to be met within a year (July 1 2014-2015).  Those conditions were not met. So the City will give the Port Authority 90 days written notice at the end of which the Lease would be terminated if the conditions were still not met.

Simple.  No animosity.  No hard feelings.  Nothing secretive or upsetting.  It was a simple contractual arrangement and carrying through with that arrangement, including terminating it when the conditions are not met, means being able to pursue the full gamut of other options, including other leases with the Port Authority, other entities, or something else entirely.

Here is where the fear comes in.  This is fear of change.  Fear of the unknown.  There are elements in this City that live in the fear that our major industries will one day leave and indeed that is a legitimate, perhaps even inevitable, fear.   However, that fear is sometimes a means for manipulation, it can and it has been used to persuade.

Council decided last night to table the motion.  That means aside from statements from Councillor Minions and myself, no debate happened, and the motion was set aside with no vote until a later date.  We had an opportunity to make a simple, justifiable and transparent decision and instead chose to delay for reasons that are largely unknown to the public.

Councillor Minions has provided this quote

If we don’t follow the terms of this contract, what precedent are we setting for future business dealings? What message are we sending to our community about what our word means? I want our community to be able to trust that our word (or in this case our legal contract) actually means something. I want to be a government that our community can rely on.

Councillor Minions is absolutely right.  I think the decision had a lot to do with fear, and that is never a good way to show leadership or transparency on any issue.

Fear wins contracts and trust

Funny how one word can change the meaning of a sentence so drastically.

The Saturday before last, a fire started on Dog Mountain.

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As anyone who wasn’t living under a rock knows, the Hawaii Mars has not been on contract with the province for 2 years now and so even though the fire was literally in sight of the base, it was helpless to do anything.

What’s more, the Wildfire Management Branch was completely over subscribed due to fires in Port Hardy, Sechelt and elsewhere in the province.  This all meant that only half of the Wildfire Management Branches mission could be completed:

Through early detection and aggressive initial attack of wildfires, the Wildfire Management Branch is able to keep the cost of fighting wildfires to a minimum.

We had the early detection thanks to multiple witnesses on the lake frantically picking up their phone and dealing *5555.  Unfortunately the aggressive initial attack came up two and a half hours too late.  By that time, the fire had spread down the mountain that all efforts by helicopter or fire retardant line laying aircraft to stop it were unsuccessful.

Thankfully, the forest service was successful in first evacuating and then defending the small number of cabins on the east side of the mountain.  But it was already too late for the fears of the public.  They had warned, including through their elected officials at the UBCM in September 2013, that without the Mars on standby to knock down fires like these before they got out of hand, there could be disaster on the Coast and in the Province. The fact this was happening almost within spitting distance of the bomber just added insult to injury.

Last summer, during a later, but also frightening fire season, a petition gathered almost 20,000 signatures in a few weeks demanding the Mars be reinstated.  This year, within hours of the fire starting, the petition was relaunched and gathered nearly 21,000 signatures in just a few days.

There are times when government needs to settle the fears of the public by taking proper actions.  It’s not about whipping up more fear for the sake of fear (like say, political election commercials featuring ISIS), but about providing encouragement and support to a public that is legitimately shaken.

The public clearly feels vulnerable with the wildfires raging in the province and across the country right now.  I believe the Government of British Columbia has wisely recognized that fear by not only granting a 30 day contract to the Hawaii Mars, but also bringing in resources from out-of-province.  I have heard the Hawaii Mars may be headed to the Interior where it will be able to provide the most help to the most people.  This is exactly as it should be.

This should not be about politics, or egos, it should simply be about using all the tools we have available.  The public was demanding exactly that, and the province listened.  Kudos to them for making something positive out of fear.

I’ll have another post soon about our water and other things.

Cheers,

Chris

Posted in Climate Change, Environment, News, Politics | 2 Comments

Long Time No Blog! Airport Processes – And Honouring Contracts – And a New Phone!

The ACRD’s Alternate Approval Process Starts for Alberni Airport Expansion

That’s a lot of A’s!

As you no doubt know, the ACRD is looking to upgrade the Airport by lengthening and widening the runway, adding a GPS route and adding lights.  You can read the justifications (business case) and full details for these expansions on their website.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 9.46.20 AMI personally support this expansion.  We have a corporation that is wanting and needing to expand their work at the facility and is already doing that work out of country.  We have an airport that, due to our weather, cannot operate most of the year with the facilities that it currently has.  The added runway, lights and GPS will mean more ability for flights to land and takeoff in more types of weather and to do so safely.

The ACRD has committed to borrowing up to $6 Million for the completion of the project.  Depending on whether the project receives grants from the Province or Federal Government it could be less than that amount.

Have your say on the Airport Borrowing

As of last week, the ACRD entered into the Alternate Approval Process in order to approve the borrowing of up to $6 million.  Personally, I would have voted to have a referendum as I have never really liked the AAP, especially when dealing with borrowing decisions, but this is a legitimate process.

If you are a resident of the City of Port Alberni, Beaver Creek, Sproat Lake, Beaufort or Cherry Creek and do not want this borrowing to take place then you can register your disapproval at the ACRD office by signing a Elector Response Form. The details are here. The form looks like this:

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 9.59.33 AM

 

If 2,050 (10% of the total electors in the areas) or more valid elector responses are received by the deadline, the ACRD Board must obtain assent of the electors by way of referendum before proceeding with the bylaws. Forms must be completed and handed in by 4:30PM August 5th.

That Canal Beach Thing

So, Canal Beach is in the news again… and not just because I fell in on my first attempt at a paddle board.  (thank you Councillor Sauvé for the encouragement :P)

11412380_10155735520180204_7021791299187782115_nThe ACDC event was exceptional and a huge success.  However, it was also a bit of a launching point for the question of what to do with the lease with the Port Alberni Port Authority that is nearing its 1 year anniversary on July 1.  To my mind, the question was answered when the contract was written.

That 1 year mark is very important.  It marks the first milestone in the contract.  Here is that milestone:

If, during the first year of the Term of the Lease, the Tenant has not commenced industrial activity on the Land to the satisfaction of the Landlord, the Lease will be terminated upon 90 days written notice by the Landlord to the Tenant, and if the Tenant has not caused the commercial activity to commence during such notice period the Tenant shall return the Land to the Landlord in the condition required upon expiry or earlier termination of this Lease. For certainty, if the Tenant has subleased the Land or a substantial portion of the Land to Canadian Alberni Engineering Ltd. or other approved subtenant  (with the exception of any tenant already occupying a portion of the Land as of the reference date of this Lease), and that subtenant has submitted a satisfactory proposal to the Landlord for the operation of the site, the Landlord will consider this satisfactory commencement of industrial activity on the Land.

The “Landlord” of course is the City of Port Alberni, and the “Tenant” is the Port Alberni Port Authority.

While it is a bit of a mouthful, I find this milestone to be quite clear and concise.  If there is no new commercial/industrial activity approved by the City on the Lot A/B lands before July 1 then the Lease will be terminated after 90 days notice.

At the June 22nd council meeting I introduced, with the support of Councillor Minions, a notice of motion that will appear at the next meeting on July 13th that would authorize the City to give said 90 day notice as of July 15th.

I don’t believe the debate about whether Canal Beach should be expanded needs to enter into it right now.  This is a much simpler matter of adhering to the contract that both the City and Port Authority signed.  It is unfortunate that Canadian Alberni Engineering was not able to secure the contracts from the Federal Government.  However, this is precisely why the milestones were set in place in case that occurred. If we choose to ignore our own milestones and conditions then the City will lose a huge amount of credibility in both the public eye and in the eyes of anyone the City signs a contract with in future.

What do you think?

Should we expand the Airport?

Should we honour our contract?

Post a comment or send me an email or call me!

One more thing! Chris has a mobile phone!

It finally happened.  After 6 months it became quite clear that between VIU, the City, and home life, not having a cellphone just was not working.  So I broke down and got a cellphone.  Note that neither the City nor VIU outright pay for this phone, though VIU may pay for some of the purchase cost, we’ll see.

So now, in addition to stopping me on the street, or email, this blog, twitter, or Facebook, you can reach me or leave a voicemail anytime at: 250-731-7930

Please don’t phone my home number.  I’ll be redirecting any phone calls about the City from there to this new number.

I’m on vacation from VIU until August so I will be out and about in town a lot more.

Have a great week!  And I do hope to post more often.

 

 

 

Posted in Environment, Politics | 7 Comments