Two very important issues for Area P at UBCM convention

Two issues that are very important to Electoral Area P will be up for discussion during next week’s annual meeting of the Union of B.C. Municipalities in Vancouver.

I learned today (Sept. 20, 2017) that both my requests for meetings with cabinet ministers have been accepted by the government. One is on the issue of rural cellphone service; the other is on access to gas-tax funding for not-for-profit strata corporations and not-for-profit private utilities.

The meeting on cellphone service will be with Minister of Citizens’ Services Jinny Sims, at which I’ll outline the importance of expanding cellphone service to rural areas including Heffley Lake and Pinantan Lake.

As I’ve said many times before, cell service isn’t just a convenience; it’s a necessary safety measure for rural communities. The Heffley Lake Community Association has been doing an outstanding job in attempting to get cell service for the valley. As well, the Pinantan community, especially the fire brigade, emphasizes the importance of cell service in rural fire protection.

The gas-tax issue around stratas and private utilities run by societies is one I’ve been fighting for more than two years in co-operation with the Rivershore strata council and MP Cathy McLeod. Director Ronaye Elliott of Area J is also in support.

Obtaining a clear interpretation of the federal government’s intentions finally came this past spring, and the answer wasn’t the one we wanted.

However, I’m absolutely convinced that not-for-profit stratas and private utilities should be granted access to gas tax funding for important upgrades and repairs in the same way that TNRD utility service areas are. They all serve communities and deserve support.

There are two possible ways of achieving this: a new (and, in my view, proper) interpretation of existing criteria, or changes to the criteria. The latter is the approach I’m taking at the UBCM in asking the convention to support a request to the feds for changes.

I expect some lively debate at the convention, but here’s hoping.


Heffley association discusses lake concerns at AGM

The always-popular ice-cream line at the annual HLCA AGM on Sunday.

When you own a little piece of Paradise, you want to protect it. Stewardship of Heffley Lake was a major topic for discussion at the annual general meeting of the Heffley Lake Community Association attended by about 70 residents Sunday (Aug. 6, 2017).

The meeting was held outdoors on the beautiful grounds of the home of Mary and Glenn Johnson, followed by a delicious picnic-style dinner, ice cream and awards presentations for the annual photo contest. President Fergus Alexander presided over the proceedings.

Due probably to the elevation, smoke from the wildfires wasn’t nearly as thick as down in the valley, though the sun was hangin’ like a red rubber ball (to borrow from the ‘60s song).

Continue reading

No problems with Heffley dam during spring flooding

Heffley Lake dam at spillway. (Image: Mel Rothenburger file photo)

HEFFLEY LAKE — There were no problems with the Heffley Lake dam during spring high water, says Darren Bennett, senior regional dam safety officer with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Bennett provided an overview of dam safety monitoring to the TNRD’s Emergency Management and Protective Services Committee this week.

He said their are 450 private regulated dams in B.C. and the owners of dams are responsible for their safe operation. The Heffley dam is operated by the Heffley Irrigation District.

“We do depend on the public for their observations,” Bennett said.

His job is to enforce regulations and make sure dam safety reviews are carried out on schedule.

I asked him specifically about the Heffley Lake dam and he replied that while there was some increase to seepage, water from the lake didn’t over-run the top of the spillway and there were no concerns.

“All dams leak,” he commented, because none is water tight. The issue is the degree of seepage.

Bennett said a safety review of the Heffley dam scheduled for this year will be done as planned. Owners of dams now pay for the costs of periodic safety reviews, which are done by independent engineers.

Boaters asked to observe voluntary speed limit on Heffley Lake

HEFFLEY LAKE – High water is a concern to residents right now and with the long weekend upon us it’s doubly worrisome.

Long weekends mean more activity on the lake, including power boats and wakeboard boats, which cause potential damage to property when water is high. The Heffley Lake Community Association asked if there was a way to encourage boaters to take it easy so, after consulting with TNRD staff, I arranged for signage to be provided.

The signs warn boaters of the risk to wildlife as well as to property and ask for their cooperation in slowing down and following a “no-tow” rule until the lake level goes down.

Heffley Lake association holds annual meeting

Heffley Lake property owners listen to reports from directors.

Heffley Lake property owners listen to reports from directors.

HEFFLEY LAKE — More than 50 property owners attended the 13th annual general meeting Sunday (July 31, 2016) of the Heffley Lake Community Association at the home of Glenn and Mary Johnson.

President Fergus Alexander presided as directors reported on a variety of issues such as community mailboxes, lake stewardship, invasive weeds, fire protection and the dam.

Tor Schmidt told residents increased logging activity continues to be a concern because it causes faster spring runoff. He said there used to be six to 10 weeks between the freshet and high water, but now it’s only two to three weeks. Continue reading

Rural communities out of luck on cell service

Bert Braybrook (standing) of Telus speaks to Community to Community forum.

Bert Braybrook (standing) of Telus speaks to Community to Community forum.

CLEARWATER — The expansion of cellphone service hoped for by so many rural communities isn’t going to happen any time soon, says a Telus spokesman.

Bert Braybrook, general manager for Telus in the Kamloops-Cariboo region, told a group of North Thompson community leaders this week that his company is focusing on enhancing existing cell corridors and has no plans to expand off the beaten path to rural communities.

I represented Electoral Area P at a Community to Community forum in the Dutch Lake Community Centre in Clearwater on Friday (Jan. 29, 2016), at which Braybrook spoke. Neither Pinantan nor Heffley Lake in Area P have cell service and residents there have been asking for it for several years.

It was clear at the meeting that other regional directors and municipal councillors are unhappy about the lack of cell service in their areas as well. Continue reading

Heffley Lake holds AGM, BBQ

Click to enlarge photos.

HEFFLEY LAKE — The Heffley Lake Community Association has a new executive after its annual general meeting Saturday, Aug. 1. About 70 people attended the meeting at the home of Glen Johnson on Lake Bay Road and elected a new slate that includes Fergus Alexander, Jim Davies, Tor Schmid, Rod Andrew, Sally Wilcox and Frank Pryce.

Afterward, members enjoyed a wonderful pork roast buffet and ice cream bar, and voted on entries in a photo contest of scenes from around the lake. Bonnie Pryce won first prize and David Cooper won second.

Sincere thanks to the association for inviting me to this event — it was terrific.