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Jack Bennest owns this website and is responsible for its content
The website is also an archive of ODN articles and other posts for about five years.
Much of the clutter will be cleared away over time with pictures and items of historical interest kept.
Board, councils seek common front and attempt to heal old wounds
By ROY WOOD
At least two themes will likely emerge later this month when the Okanagan-Similkameen school board holds it annual spring confabs with members of the local town councils.
The first will be an effort to present a united front focusing attention of the candidates in the current provincial election on the chronic problems faced by rural school districts in offering quality education.
The second will revolve around whether Osoyoos council and the school board can get past the heated and often acrimonious relationship that emerged last spring when the town’s high school nearly closed.
As to the provincial campaign, board Chair Marieze Tarr said a recent interview: “The purpose of the meeting is the board feels very strongly about keeping public education at the forefront of everyone’s mind in the upcoming election.
“(And) we want to meet with (the councils) to discuss some strategies about how we can work together to make that happen.”
Osoyoos Councillor Mike Campol is sympathetic, but points out that education “doesn’t seem to be a hot-button issue in the election so far.”
“It’s all political,” said Campol, who serves as council liaison to the school district. “It appears they want to discuss our views on sustainable quality education and the purpose seems to be to get messaging out to the political candidates. … I think the collaboration of the municipality and the school board is really what they are trying to show.”
Oliver Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger, who shares liaison duties with Councillor Petra Veintimilla, said it may be “a little late in the game” to attempt to influence the provincial election.
The campaign officially gets underway on April 9, with the election scheduled for May 9.
“So to try to get some sort of consensus and figure out how you’re going to get that to the public … in my mind would take more than a month, but I’ll be interested to see what they have to say,” said Schwartzenberger.
As for the rift between Osoyoos council and the board, there has been considerable healing since the closure of OSS was averted last summer with the last-minute infusion of cash from the province.
Campol regularly attends board and education committee meetings and other functions. “They’ve allowed me to speak. They’ve interacted with me well,” he said.
“Historically (council) didn’t play a big part. We didn’t attend meetings and stay in the know as a municipality. They seem to welcome (the change) … the relationship feels a lot better,” said Campol.
Central to the animosity that arose last year when OSS was on the block was the contention by the town that it was caught off guard and that there should have been some warning from the board.
Chair Tarr argues that the board warned of the dangers associated with the “structural deficit” the district was operating under and the continuing peril of declining enrollment and its further impact on the financial situation.
These issues were raised at the April 2015 meeting with councils, including two members from Osoyoos, and in the regular “board reports” that Tarr publishes on line and sends to mayors and councils.
In a story published on ODN in June 2015 Tarr warned that, in the face of the structural deficit, the board “would look at every facility” in the district.
Campol concedes that council should have been paying closer attention.
“I’d be the first to argue that councils should have been more engaged, including this one,” he said. “That’s why I’m taking the position I am now of being there and not missing a meeting.
“(But) I’m not going in there with a chip on m shoulder. I quite openly celebrate when I think they’re doing something well and I challenge when something needs to be challenged,” he said.
“I think we’ve learned from (events of the past) and we’re in a far better place as far as not being caught off guard.”
The board will meet with representatives from both councils in separate meetings on April 12. The Osoyoos Indian Band will join the meeting with Oliver council.
A meeting with Keremeos council hasn’t been scheduled yet, but Tarr expects it to occur later this month.
British Columbia youth and young adults struggling with serious substance use problems now have access to Ashnola at The Crossing, the re-opened and re-named 22-bed residential treatment program in Keremeos.
The new treatment program provides individuals aged 17 to 24 years with access to specialized, evidence-based treatment, education and support tailored to their unique needs in a natural environment. The comprehensive programming includes group, individual and family therapy, therapeutic recreational activities, life-skills training, high school completion, psycho-social education and aftercare planning and support.
The program was developed in consultation with regional health authority representatives, Indigenous groups, community service providers and local groups in Keremeos. It serves a unique age range of clients who are at a critical stage in their development and life path.
•Ashnola at The Crossing is available for young people aged 17-24 years in need of intensive treatment for substance-use disorders and who may also have mental-health challenges.
•About 14% of people aged 19-35 years’ experience substance-use disorders.
•Rates of mental-health and substance-use disorders are highest for people aged 15-24 years, at nearly 12%.
•Because the name of the facility is “The Crossing,” the formal name of the program is Ashnola at The Crossing.
SD 53 – Okanagan Similkameen: $172,443 (earmarked for local schools)
VICTORIA – Skilled trades students in B.C.’s rural regions will benefit from the majority of funding from a three-year, $15-million investment by the provincial government with the purchase of new trades training equipment to support youth trades programs.
The Youth Trades Capital Equipment Program enables school districts to replace or upgrade equipment for their schools’ trades programs. The program will see $7.5 million dispersed during the current school year to 59 school districts throughout British Columbia. The remaining $7.5 million will be distributed in the 2017-18 ($4 million) and 2018-19 ($3.5 million) school years.
Over the three-year program, more than $9 million of the total $15-million fund will be distributed to B.C.’s 42 rural school districts.
This investment in rural communities supports the recently announced “Building on our Rural Advantages: B.C.’s Rural Economic Development Strategy.” The strategy outlines the Province’s long-term vision to ensure British Columbians in all regions have the opportunity for well-paying jobs and a high quality of life in their community
OSOYOOS – Government is continuing to support rural communities with a $410,426 investment under the Rural Education Enhancement Fund (REEF) to help the Okanagan Similkameen School District keep Osoyoos secondary in Osoyoos open, Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson announced today on behalf of Education Minister Mike Bernier.
Under the program, a total of 11 rural schools will receive a portion of this year’s $3.4-million investment to ensure they can continue to serve their local students and community. Five schools, including Osoyoos secondary, are receiving funding for the second year. The remaining six schools are receiving funding for the first time this year under REEF.
The amount of funding each district is eligible to receive reflects the amount of money that would be saved if the school was closed. Eligibility criteria include:
* The school must be located in a rural community or sub-community outside Greater Victoria, the Lower Mainland, and Kelowna areas with a population of less than 15,000;
* The school must be the only one in the community;
* Closing the school would have a negative effect on students and/or the community; and,
* Closures where the main reason is facility condition are not included.
BCUC Issues Report to BC Government on Residential Inclining Block Rates
VANCOUVER – The BCUC has issued an independent report requested by the BC Government in response to public concerns raised about BC Hydro and FortisBC’s residential inclining block (RIB) rates.
In the report, the BCUC has concluded that:
• Most customers, including low income customers, pay less under the RIB rate than under the flat rate, even in areas without access to natural gas.
• While some residential customers will pay more under the RIB rate than under a flat rate, RIB rates do not cause a cross-subsidy, in the sense that the utility industry uses the term, between customers with and without access to natural gas.
• Both BC Hydro and FortisBC offer a range of demand-side management (DSM) programs aimed at encouraging customers, including low-income customers, to conserve energy and promote energy efficiency.
• More could be done to promote the existing DSM programs and to encourage more customers to participate. There is also potential for the two utilities to add new DSM programs, including those which could target high-use and low-income customers.
RIB rates are intended to encourage energy conservation or promote energy efficiency by charging customers a higher rate for electricity purchased above a specific point. Utilities do this by charging customers more for the electricity they use beyond a certain “step” (1,350 kWh per billing period for BC Hydro, 1,600 kWh for FortisBC), while also giving all residential customers a reduction in the price they pay for electricity below that step.
Customers can have considerable consumption at the higher tier rate and still be better off than under the flat rate. Only when electricity bills exceed a break-even point (2,300 kWh per billing period for BC Hydro and 2,500 kWh per billing period for FortisBC) will customers pay more under the RIB rate than under a flat rate. And since many customers’ bills are lower in the summer than in the winter, there are often savings in the summer that can go towards offsetting higher bills in the winter months.
A number of important factors that lead to high residential electricity use were considered in this report, including customers using electricity for space heating and hot water, as well as customers’ housing types. Customers’ bills are also impacted by general utility rate increases, and seasonal factors like the colder than normal weather, which lead to higher bills whether customers use electricity or natural gas for space and water heating.
The BCUC’s role in the development of this report was to provide evidence that responds to the Minister’s questions regarding the RIB rate. In developing this report, the BCUC established an open, fair and transparent review process, which included:
• consultation with the utilities and the public on the method and process to prepare its report;
• public comments on the impacts of the RIB rates and awareness of ways to mitigate impacts; and
• public and stakeholder comments on the utilities’ reports to the BCUC.
In an effort to reach all impacted parties, the BCUC provided extensive opportunities for public comment, expanding on the usual comprehensive notification and public comment periods. During two separate public comment processes, the BCUC received 669 letters of comment. In addition, 10 parties registered as stakeholders in the proceeding, including a group that represents low-income residential customers.
The BCUC is the independent regulatory agency responsible for the oversight of energy utilities and compulsory automobile insurance in the province of BC. Our role in setting rates is to provide a balance to ensure that customers pay fair rates, and that utilities can receive a fair return on their investments.
What a year! First we would like to express our most sincere gratitude towards our annual pass holders, our guests, our staffs, management team, and families and friends. It has been an amazing year indeed. As a team, we have overcome many obstacles and presented a brand new Baldy to the many die hard Baldy fans and loyalists (thank you from the bottom of our hearts). But we are not done yet, a new Baldy is yet to come, and we have big plans for this incredible gem that has stayed hidden for too long. Vacation property development, summer programs, weddings, events etc., to name just a few.
No development plan will succeed without the right team, please allow me to take this opportunity to introduce our new Assistant General Manager, Mr. Andy Foster, who will join us beginning May, 2017. Andy comes to us from Ritchie Bros Auctioneers where he specialized in event planning throughout the US and Canada, as well as heading up field marketing and production for this global company that focuses on customer centricity. Prior to RBA, Andy spent five years with Whistler Eco Tours, based in Whistler. As someone who loves all outdoor sports and activities, he started as a guide for river canoeing, kayaking, biking, and hiking, he soon moved into the role of Operations Manager and then General Manager of the entire company.
Andy originally hails from the UK where his career path, following travel in Africa, Europe and Australia, included being a partner and director of a transportation company where he took the company into the international marketplace. He moved to Vancouver in 2007 and completed studies in Tourism Management at Capilano University before joining Whistler Eco-Tours.
Currently he sits on the board of directors of the Vancouver Chapter of the International Live Events Association, with specific responsibility for overseeing educational events. With a strong history in outdoor adventure, marketing, event planning, people management, and leading by example plus customer focus, Andy will make an excellent addition to the team as we continue to grow.
We are also pleased to announce that Kevin Rand will be appointed Manager of Resort Operations, and Matt Koenig will be appointed Manager of Resort Facilities, commencing 2017 – 2018 winter season. Both Kevin and Matt have been long time residents, operators, and managers of Mt. Baldy and their enthusiasm, history, dedication, and knowledge should prove to be invaluable to the new Baldy.
We are also currently forming a Strategic Advisory Committee, which will guide us through the upcoming development and expansion process. You will see some familiar names on this committee so please stay tuned.
Last but not least, we would like give our whole hearted thanks to Joey O’Brien, who will be leaving his full time position with us to pursue certain new exciting opportunities. Without Joey’s vision and hard work, the new Baldy would not have come into existence, and our market guru Ms. Stephanie O’Brien, who’s dedication, knowledge, and discipline helped to steer the new Baldy onto the path of success.
Again, thank you all for your efforts and support!
We have been working out of the office for a a few days, and now it’s time to kick things off together as we approach April 11th, when the election will officially be called.
Your NDP Candidate Colleen Ross will be there, along with special guests. There will also be cake and refreshments!
If you are unable to attend, please feel free to drop by during office hours to say hello.
Where: Next to Medici’s Gelateria, 522 Fairview Rd., Oliver.
When: Sunday, April 9th, 2017 2:00-4:00pm