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Local Okanagan BC Community Comments
Index for Kelowna BC
February 14, 2015
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Castanet.net poll Dec 14, 2010
Kelowna`s tax hike for next
year is just under 2%. Is it reasonable to expect municipal tax
increases every year?
Total votes: 899
City of Kelowna owed over $500,000 it will never get, say staff
Kelowna Daily Courier - Sunday, 02 February 2014 -
by Ron Seymour
Unpaid debts totalling more than half a million dollars could be
written off Monday by the City of Kelowna.
City staff say there is no reasonable prospect of collecting on the
debts - some of which date back several decades - and that it is a
prudent accounting move to drop the accounts from the books.
Almost $400,000 of the debts relate to unpaid fees for various city
services, while the rest is made up of never-paid property taxes.
"The periodic purging of delinquent, uncollectible general
receivables is a fiscally responsible method to ensure an accurate
position of the city's expected revenues," finance department
official George King writes in a report to be considered at Monday's
city council meeting.
Virtually all of the unpaid property taxes proposed to be written
off are associated with a failed development on a portion of the
Okanagan Indian band's reserve that's within the city's far northern
Under provincial law, property tax exemptions are granted for a
property owner who has native status.
"As a result, staff are recommending that 10 properties totalling
$94,889 be written off, as these properties were occupied by a
person of native status and/or the company leasing the property went
bankrupt or had no assets to collect on," King says.
Of the $390,000 in unpaid fees, about $30,000 of them relate to
events before 1996. Since then, the annual amount of unpaid fees has
However, there was a dramatic spike in unpaid fees in 2009, the year
after the onset of the recession, when the total jumped to more than
About half of all the unpaid fees relate to real estate
transactions, most of which are deemed to be uncollectible because
those involved declared bankruptcy.
There are also $59,000 in uncollectible revenues associated with the
Glenmore dump, many racked up by haulers that have gone out of
business, and $67,000 that relate to the operation of Kelowna
International Airport, some of which are unpaid landing fees owed by
owners of private planes not based in Canada.
is a non-profit, broad group of regular citizens who are concerned about the
current direction of city council.
City to get tough on noise
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 62905 - Jun
The City of Kelowna is finished listening about noise complaints -
specifically loud motorcycles, boats and car stereos. Now they are
going to act.
RCMP Superintendent, Bill McKinnon, told Councillors Monday current
rules at the provincial level concerning excessive noise are
McKinnon points to a new bylaw in Edmonton as the answer.
"I am asking council to consider drafting a new bylaw similar to one
put in place in Edmonton last August," says McKinnon.
"The Edmonton bylaw means police can issue a $250 fine to anyone
with a motorcycle louder than 92 decibels at idle or 96 decibels
when the engine is revving. The same would apply to boats and
motorists with loud stereos."
The bylaw would also work for car stereos of parked vehicles as
McKinnon says the RCMP receives several complaints on a daily basis
about excessive noise.
He says it's time a new, more effective, bylaw were put in place.
If such a bylaw were introduced, McKinnon says police would need to
purchase decibel meters and train members on their use.
He says it would be worth the cost.
Councillor Robert Hobson, who lives on Okanagan Lake, says some
boats are so loud that even when a boat is on the other side of the
lake and his windows are closed it's hard to carry on a
"This is something that has been on the agenda for a long time and
there has been some confusion as to how this could best be tackled,"
added Councillor Luke Stack.
"You're bringing forward a practical solution to give it a whirl and
I'm very supportive of it."
Council voted unanimously to have staff draft an amendment to the
current noise bylaw to include specific decibel reading and also
report back on the effectiveness of the Edmonton bylaw.
Is Kelowna 'Snoozeville'?
Castanet.net - Feb 20, 2011 - Story #60283
To the editor:
On Wednesday February 16, one of our staff on their day off received
a warning from the City of Kelowna that they had broken a bylaw by
parking on the same block twice in one day.
Their car was not parked all day on the same block, but rather on
two separate occasions.
This person was doing business around 11am then left downtown
completely. She returned at 3pm and parked on the same block (since
that’s where the business she wanted to visit was) and much to her
surprise received a warning telling her that she had broken a bylaw.
The meters are our only clues to the parking restrictions and they
say there is a 2 hour maximum in the meter but this bylaw is not
This bylaw is not shopper-friendly at all and does not support the
I was curious why so many merchants were choosing to leave the
downtown core, now I understand it. Why would shoppers want to
support these businesses if they are going to get a ticket for doing
If the City of Kelowna is this desperate for revenue (with a
property taxes already higher than many similar size Canadian
cities) and this is how they want to generate it, the current Mayor
and Council needs a shake up and some refocusing.
Instead of this type of petty money grab by the City they should
work on changing the city into a fun place again by welcoming and
encouraging festivals, gatherings and concerts downtown.
Wake Fest was awesome and is sorely missed. Festival goers and
partiers spend money and inject revenue into downtown businesses. We
should be encouraging these type of events rather than chasing them
Cancun, Munich, Fort Lauderdale, Leavenworth, Whistler and others
don’t! They encourage fun seekers and so should we.
Many of our international students already think Kelowna is boring
compared with similar sized or smaller cities around the world so
let’s ramp things up and really make this into a world class fun
destination instead of ‘snoozeville’.
Kelowna set to expand fire protection
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 60269 - Feb
The City of Kelowna's fire protection zone is set to get a little
City Council is expected to agree to enter into an agreement with
the Regional District to expand both the June Springs and Lakeshore
Road protection areas.
The Regional District board approved the arrangement February 11.
Fire departments are not allowed to fight house fires in areas
outside of its fire protection area.
If the agreement goes through, the city would receive additional
revenue of approximately $25,000 per year based on a levy rate not
to exceed $1.35 per $1,000 of the assessed value of land and
Outdoor rink set for December opening
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 58341 - Nov
Get your ice skates ready - Kelowna's only public outdoor skating
rink is scheduled to open next month.
The rink constructed at the new Stuart Park across from City Hall is
expected to open in early December.
Park and Public Space Projects Manager, Andrew Gibbs, says they are
scheduled to put the ice in during the first week of December with
an opening date sometime around December 10.
It takes about a week to make the ice.
The forecast through much of next week calls for sub-zero
temperatures, however, Gibbs says things aren't quite ready yet.
"This week we put the header boards in and we still have some
mechanical and electrical work to do inside the Zamboni building.
That won't be ready in time to make the ice next week," says Gibbs.
He says the plan all along was for the rink to have ice during the
months of December and January and possibly longer if both weather
and budget allow.
"Weather dependent and money dependent. Have to pay somebody to
drive the Zamboni and stuff like that. There is an operating cost to
Gibbs says creating and maintaining outdoor ice is always weather
He says temperatures don't have to be at or below freezing, however,
there is a threshold.
"Worst case is probably five above, but not for a long time. If we
have a day that's five above it won't be a problem but it we get
multiple days of five above it would be a problem."
You're reminded that the outdoor rink is a skating rink only.
Because the rink is not regulation size and there are no boards,
hockey is prohibited.
AM1150 - Mon, 2010-07-26 - Local News
Fines for excessive noise in Kelowna are going up.
City Council gave the first three readings yesterday to a by-law
that would increase the fine to a maximum of one thousand dollars.
Mayor Sharon Shepherd says the idea is to discourage people from
hosting loud parties.
The by-law will come into effect once it receives final reading.
The move would bring Kelowna's by-law in-line with the noise by-law
currently in place in West Kelowna.
councillors high risers
Kelowna Daily Courier - Ron Seymour - 2010-06-28
Salaries for Kelowna‘s mayor and councillors have risen twice as
fast as the average British Columbian‘s earnings over the past
The city‘s elected representatives have had a 50 per cent pay
increase since 2000, while average wages across the province have
risen 25 per cent.
"I think I get fairly paid for the work I do, in comparison to other
communities of similar size," Mayor Sharon Shepherd said Sunday.
"Actually, if you looked at it on an hourly basis, I‘m probably down
to a very minimum wage," she said.
Shepherd earned $87,422 last year, one-third of it tax-free. In
1999, then-mayor Walter Grey drew $59,038, also with one-third of it
Since 1999, the pay for councillors has increased from $19,500 to
just over $30,000. Again, one third of their salaries are also not
subject to taxation.
In 2000, the average weekly wage in British Columbia was $639,
according to Statistics Canada. By last year, that had increased to
mayoral and councillor salary increases to outstrip those of average
people by a two-to-one ratio is "way out of line", said Maureen
Bader of the BC Taxpayer‘s Federation.
"It‘s wrong for them to be giving themselves these outrageous salary
increases when they‘re helping to create an economic climate in
which working people are seeing their incomes stagnate, or only
rising very slowly," Bader said.
Recent practice in Kelowna has been for a three-person citizen
committee to be created by council every three years to examine the
pay for elected representatives.
The most recent adjustment was made in 2008, when a committee
chaired by retired military officer Jack Dangerfield suggested pay
increases for the mayor and councillors be linked to changes in the
Consumer Price Index.
Council accepted those recommendations and received pay increases on
Jan. 1 in 2009 and again this year. A similar salary review
committee will likely be created before the 2011 civic election,
"I think there has been a fair analysis done every few years on the
salaries paid to mayor and council," said Shepherd, mayor since
2005. "Serving on council is a lot of hard work."
But she doesn‘t expect pay for herself or her councillors will
change significantly as a result of the next salary review. "There
would likely be a recommendation coming forward based on these
economic conditions to not change the amount," Shepherd said.
Mayor defends city payroll
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 55395 - Jun
Kelowna's mayor says its citizens are getting a good bang for their
buck in terms of staff salaries.
Sharon Shepherd made the comments as City Council gets ready to
accept the city's 2009 Annual Report on salaries and expenditures.
The report which will be tabled Monday shows staff salaries reached
$54.1 million in 2009, an increase of 10%
over 2008 staff salaries of $49.2 million.
"Our city has a staff of over 800,"
"Things have slowed down in the economy and we have had to hold the
line on staff vacancies. We have been working with less people when
times are tough."
Shepherd says the were no management salary increases in 2009 and
there will be none in 2010.
She says several salaries went up in 2009 after increases were
agreed to late in 2008.
The mayor adds that union negotiated contracts for firefighters and
CUPE employees also increased significantly because of contracts
negotiated several years ago.
The city is currently into negotiations with CUPE on a new contract.
Negotiations with firefighters will begin after the CUPE deal is
The city is obligated through the municipal act to publicly report
all salaries over $75,000.
The number of staff earning $75,000 or more reached 209 in 2009, up
from 153 the previous year.
That number includes 93 members of the Kelowna Fire Department.
"Any firefighter who works over four years will make over $75,000
and that's a fact," adds Shepherd.
"That was part of the collectively bargained agreement."
A portion of the salaries for Kelowna firefighters represents
overtime as a result of wildfires in West Kelowna. Those monies will
be reimbursed by the Provincial Emergency Program.
Once again, City Manager, Ron Mattiussi is
at the top of the pay scale, earning $254,904 in 2009.
The rest of the top 10 salaries includes:
•Community Services General Manager John Vos - $189,232
•Strategic Initiatives Director David Graham - $188,726
•Corporate Sustainability General Manager Paul Macklem - $188,557
•Corporate Development Director Rick Baker - $163,023
•Community Sustainability General Manager Jim Patterson - $162,332
•Fire Chief Rene Blanleil - $139,933
•Airport Director Sam Samaddar - $138,111
•Human Resources Director Charlene Covington - $137,374
•Civic Operations Director Joe Creron - $133,562
"We are a major corporation and we manage millions of dollar every
year. We require scrutiny and have high expectations from our
citizens," says Shepherd.
"We have a new management structure which is working very well, we
have good people and we have to pay those people well."
Rumours surround fire chief’s exit
Kelowna Capital News - By Jennifer Smith - May 27,
Former fire chief Rene Blanleil’s surprise departure
from the City of Kelowna’s employ has lips at city hall sealed.
Neither the mayor nor the city manager returned phone calls for
comment Thursday, choosing to defer public statements to human
A news advisory that Blanleil would be leaving after just four years
as fire chief was released to the public at the close of business
Wednesday and the decision was initially referred to as mutual.
“It’s not performance related,” Charlene Covington, director of
human resources, said in the immediate aftermath of the press
But by Thursday morning, Mayor Sharon Shepherd confirmed for a local
morning radio show that Blanleil had received a severance package as
a result of the decision, and messages on local blogs and other news
sites indicated the chief had been ousted due to extreme malcontent
within the department.
The city will not release how much money the chief, who earned
$140,000 annually, will receive, although local lawyer Keri Grenier,
who works in employment law with Doak Shirreff, said Kelowna
taxpayers can expect to see a substantial dollar figure, should the
information come to light.
“One month per year of service does not apply. That’s sort of a
myth, if you will. To know what he’s entitled to you would have to
look at the case law,” she said.
With an 18-year service record, including the four as chief, Grenier
would expect the settlement would exceed a year’s worth of pay and
possibly even two.
She cautioned, however, that the presence of a severance itself does
not automatically indicate someone has been fired.
For some, a severance may simply be written into an employment
contract as an automatic payout should employment end, she said.
Covington confirmed this is not the case with the City of Kelowna as
the municipality does not enter into contracts with severance terms
The other options typically include either a decision where there’s
a mutual benefit to the parties, such as an agreement that an
organization needs someone new timed with a decision from the
individual to move on or retire.
Or, in cases where an organization has decided to fire someone
without cause, the severance can be used to stave off a wrongful
The former chief himself has yet to comment on exactly what brought
on this parting of ways beyond a couple of sentences in the city’s
statements. He did not return messages from the Capital News.
Meanwhile, Covington confirmed an independent contractor has been
hired to assess the state of the department’s administrative
The contractor, she said, was hired after Blanleil began talking
with the city about his departure. The work is said to include a
routine look at how the department’s business operation is being
handled with an eye to how it should be handled moving forward.
Rumours have also surfaced stating Blanleil’s management has caused
some firefighters to jump ship, including assistant chiefs.
Covington put a portion of the rumour mill to rest stating there is
only one assistant chief position vacant at the moment.
Assistant fire chief Bryan Collier left the department this spring
to take a position on the Westside, although to the best of
Covington’s knowledge it was due to “personal reasons.”
Assistant chief Lou Wilde has been with the department since 1987
and in his current position since June 2003, she said.
Jason Brolund became an assistant chief in October 2008 after a four
year stint with the department while Tom Doherty joined the
department in 2006, accepting a position as assistant fire chief in
Covington says the full severance details will not be released
unless a Freedom of Information Request is filed, forcing the city
into a legal review of the file.
Steve Kinsey has been appointed acting chief effective June 10.
Kinsey retired from the Kelowna Fire Department in 2004 after 30
years of service, the last 14 as assistant chief.
The search for a new chief will be national and is expected to take
four to six months.
jsmith "at" kelownacapnews.com
No full-body scanners at Kelowna Airport
Kelowna Capital News - By Jennifer Smith - January
Kelowna International Airport is out of the loop as the new
full-body scanners roll out across Canada.
Tuesday afternoon Transport Minister John Baird and Minister of
State Rob Merrifield announced the federal government will implement
the controversial devices in eight major airports across the
As Kelowna is ranked 10th for passenger volume, the news means the
city will miss out on the first phase-in of the technology despite
hosting the pilot project to test the equipment last year.
“It’s the top eight airports included, which they are Level I
airports,” said Jenelle Turpin, airport communications. “ So they’re
passenger level is 3.4 million; we’re at 1.4 million.”
Kelowna is ranked just behind Victoria in passenger volume;
although, even the capital city of this province will not receive
one of the scanners.
Turpin said the number of times security issues crop up in Kelowna
is very minimal compared with the larger facilities, so the decision
to awarded the upgrades to Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg,
Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax makes sense.
News reports on the results of the pilot project, suggest local
passengers may not be missing out on much more than another
Although the official report on the pilot project was not be
released, Access to Information Requests conducted by the Ottawa Sun
reveal the new system has several drawbacks.
Some 95 per cent of passengers who used the millimetre wave scanner
in Kelowna reported they preferred the scan option to a full-body
pat down, but the scanner did not actually meet the Canadian Air
Transport Security Authority’s expectations for either speed or
effectiveness, the Sun reported.
“CATSA’s 60-page report shows the scanner took much more time to
process travellers than a regular pat-down or metal detector and
left blind spots over the head and feet,” the article states.
Efforts made by the Capital News to obtain the pilot project results
from Transport Canada last week went unanswered, but passenger
reports quoted in the Sun show, many of Kelowna’s passengers walked
away feeling the scan violated basic privacy rights despite the fact
they had to volunteer to participate in the scan under the pilot
“I call it Airport Strip and the guy behind the screen could be a
Peeping Tom,” one passenger is reported to have commented in
follow-up surveying conducted as part of the project.
The machines use a millimetre wave to scan passengers, producing a
black and white line-diagram of the body. The image will detect
anything with a line to it, revealing hidden objects the person may
be carrying on their body; but groups like the B.C. Civil Liberties
Association have voiced concerns the image reveals too much of a
person’s naked form, becoming an invasion of personal privacy.
On the other end of the spectrum, the minister’s statement suggests
the government believes it is responding appropriately to the level
of threat which exists following the attempted bombing of a
Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day.
“Given the recent terrorist incident on December 25, our government
is accelerating its actions to protect air travellers,” Baird said.
“The new full body scanners are the next generation of technology
and balance safety and security with safeguards to privacy. They
will allow for additional flexibility and enhancement to the
security screening process.”
The technology is in use in a dozen countries around the world at
airports, border crossings, in prisons, courthouses, military
checkpoints and commercial applications, information included with
the minister’s statements to media said.
jsmith "at" kelownacapnews.com
Rate hike for city electrical users
By Jennifer Smith - Kelowna Capital News -
Published: January 27, 2009
Utility rates are on the
rise for Kelowna electricity customers.
Kelowna city council approved a rate increase of 4.6 per cent for
all residential, municipal, school and commercial customers under
the city’s electrical utility on Monday.
“The city’s cost for purchasing bulk power has increased,” says
Cindy McNeely, City of Kelowna infrastructure operations.
“The city supplier, FortisBC is seeing an increased demand for
electricity and is investing in capital upgrades to ensure long-term
reliable power for all customers,” she said.
With the increase, an average residential customer using
approximately 730 kilowatt hours of electricity per month will see
an increase of about $2.89 monthly.
Charges for new connections, upgrades and relocations will increase
to $725 for overhead service, $750 for underground connections from
the service box and $1675 for underground service from the pole. All
residential service greater than 200 amps will be considered
commercial and will pay 100 per cent of the actual cost.
The rate increase follows a similar increase by FortisBC approved by
British Columbia Utilities Commission in December 2008.
The city’s electrical utility boundary extends from Okanagan Lake
north to Poplar Point Drive and Glenmeadows Road, east to Golfview
Road and south along Highway 97 to Gordon Drive and K.L.O. Road.
The new rates take effect with the first billing cycle in March
Covenant fight cost city $75,000
Kelowna Daily Courier - by J.P. SQUIRE -
The city‘s legal battle against the Simpson covenant cost taxpayers
more than $75,000.
In a news release Wednesday, city officials revealed the legal fees
between 2004 and 2008 include $36,800 in court costs and $10,240 to
appeal a B.C. Supreme Court decision. The appeal was abandoned in
The balance, about $18,000, was spent on obtaining ongoing legal
advice from city solicitor Barry Williamson or having him attend
some of the dozens of meetings over five years between Sharron
Simpson, lawyer Tom Smithwick, city staff and city council members.
The city paid an additional $10,275 in costs to the Save the
Heritage Simpson Covenant Society after losing a B.C. Supreme Court
lawsuit filed by the society to retain the covenant.
According to the news release, “council decided to release the costs
as there will be no appeal and the court-awarded costs have been
paid to the society.”
However, when The Daily Courier sought the release of the legal
costs in late October, the newspaper was told to file a Freedom of
Information request with city clerk Stephen Fleming.
The Nov. 3 request was denied by the city on Dec. 15 on the basis
that legal costs are a matter of solicitor-client privilege. The
Daily Courier then wrote directly to council members asking for the
release while considering an appeal to the provincial Information
and Privacy Commissioner.
“There was a lot of public interest in knowing (the legal costs). It
had to come as a council decision. Council analyzed it and nobody
had an issue with it being released,” said Mayor Sharon Shepherd.
“It is unfortunate whenever things have to go to court to try and be
Council has accepted the reasons for judgment and is now focusing on
the construction of Stuart Park between Queensway and Kelowna Yacht
Club, she said.
“The City Hall block will be planned through a comprehensive public
consultation process recognizing the charitable trust conditions
The rezoning of Stuart Park in 2007 and the creation of a future
Civic Centre zone will help to ensure the goal of preserving public
ownership and access to the City Hall site and to Okanagan Lake from
City Park to Knox Mountain Park is achieved, she said.
“I‘m just glad it‘s over,” said Smithwick, a former alderman who
donated his time to the society.
“I, too, am glad it‘s over,” said Simpson. “But I wish it was a
figure that better represented the true costs of this. And that
would have been to include the staff time that had been spent over
the five-year period in discussing it.”
“The time costs over the five years have been considerable,” added
Stanley Simpson sold two parcels of land between the lake and Ellis
Street containing his Kelowna Sawmill to the city in 1946 on the
condition that the 12-acre properties not be sold, used for
commercial or industrial purposes and be retained for public
The $55,000 price was essentially cleanup costs after the sawmill
burned down, argued Sharron Simpson, his granddaughter.
However, the city got a legal opinion that the covenant was never
properly registered and was not enforceable.
The city quietly got a Yukon company, the legal successor to Kelowna
Sawmill, to discharge the covenant while discussions were underway
with Sharron Simpson
Call it Westbank
From Kelowna Capital News March 02, 2008
To the editor:
One often wonders how the editor of this newspaper chooses to publish stories
and editorials submitted by writers.
Some lengthy articles are forever appearing with little interest pertaining to a
name change for the new municipality across the lake.
Most of those persons do not realize that low and behold should a name change
take place that would result in costs to hundreds of citizens to change their
respective addresses and, especially costly to businesses to print new letter
heads, business cards, etc.
As suggested before by numerous persons, leave the name we have known for years
and are familiar with—namely, Westbank.
Just let us know if you would like to see any other comment forms that are on
your mind, and we will add to this list above.
To be updated by email on the latest news regarding
any of these subjects, please send your email address to
We will let you know when there are updates, so stay
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