Letters to the Editor: October 28

Party nomination rules; The democratic process; Glass recycling in Kimberley; and more …

Party Nomination Rules

I am writing this letter in response to an article which I read regarding the selection of Gerry Taft as our NDP candidate for the Columbia River-Revelstoke riding.  I have no issue with Mr. Taft as the candidate, but do have a real issue with what was written in the article explaining the equity rules for candidates who are replacing the existing MLA.

The article quotes: The equity rule states if a man retires from an NDP-held seat in the province, the man’s replacement must be a woman or an “equity seeking” man; for example, a man who is a visible minority, a person with a disabilty or someone from the LGBTQ community.

I guess the most qualified person is no longer acceptable to the NDP. I know it’s 2016 but if this is not an example of discrimination, I do not know what would be. I can only imagine if the equity rule stated that if a visible minority was retiring, he or she could only be replaced by a white heterosexual male. In order to qualify, Mr. Taft admitted to being bi-sexual after he had accepted the nomination. His sexual orientation is of no concern of mine, nor should it be.

I believe in equal rights for everyone but the NDP’s stance on this issue is about as inequitable as anything I have ever seen in government. It makes Mr. Trudeau’s policy of a 50/50 men/women cabinet look almost reasonable. I would love to see a cabinet of 100 per cent women who are of any ethnicity, any sexual orientation, and any disability, provided they are best candidates for the job. Picking anything based on gender or race in this day and age was supposed to be taboo, I thought.

It is idiotic thinking like this by the different political parties that are pushing people to support someone like Donald Trump. I guess you always think you have seen it all but are constantly surprised by the things our politicians can come up with.

Harry Caldwell/Kimberley

NDP runs into democracy

Brian Hutchinson in the National Post, Oct. 19:  “Want equity status in British Columbia’s NDP?  You can’t keep mum about why you fit the criteria.”

Mike Smyth in The Province, Oct. 19:  “NDP’s equity mandate backfires as mayor forced out of the closet.”

Comedy or farce, we have a mayor claiming to be a minority but not willing to state what his minority is, though it is a qualifier to enter the candidate selection process.

The Columbia Valley Pioneer, Oct. 18: “The party in their equity mandate allows people to make confidential disclosures.”  If so, it’s time the party woke up to democracy.  Gerry Taft’s belief “that an MLA should represent all people led him to keep his equity status private.”

How does an MLA ever represent all the people while choosing a path of sneaky confidentiality over transparency?  A politician unable to distinguish public from private is hardly ready for the big house.

Taft, in the Cranbrook Townsman, Oct. 21:  “I am choosing now to disclose so that we can turn our attention away from the equity mandate towards issues that really matter to this region.”  Equity mandate—a form of quota and a side show to the big event—will remain an issue, while transparency and character needs a lot of work.

According to the National Post, Spring Hawes, who ran against Taft for the nomination, expressed concerns to BC NDP brass, asking for clarity and some transparency.  She received no reply.  Central Soviet Planning is not there to handle issues percolating up; it’s there to dictate.

Les Leyne in the Victoria Times-Colonist, Oct. 20 (NDP quota policy theatre of the absurd):  “How can someone represent a minority if they won’t state the minority to which they belong?”

To some, facts and logic and history don’t matter.

William G. Hills/Cranbrook

Let democratic process unfold

It appears that Mayor Pratt, who ran on a platform of fixing our roads, and not raising taxes, is very concerned with citizens having a different opinion than his on the matter of the a $10 million, 20 year tax burden.

Rather than hosting a public information session, he chose to hold a closed media event so that he could point fingers and malign any resident using the only available democratic process to oppose an unnecessary tax. This is confrontational, divisive and disrespectful.

‘Coming out swinging’ against citizens and threatening to spend $50,000 on a referendum regardless of meeting the AAP requirements, is an attempt at undermining the democratic process. He may as well have said “it’s my way or else.”

Mayor and Council should have expected some unhappy taxpayers on such a large loan. Friends of mine are expecting a $500 per year tax increase on their business, which is hardly as Mr. Pratt stated “a package of cigarettes, it’s a glass of beer, it’s a cup of coffee” each month. He attempted to trivialize the impact of this 20 year tax burden.

The young man organizing residents opposed to this potential tax burden, was meticulous in getting a fact sheet prepared for those who agreed to help get signatures opposing the $10 million loan. There are others collecting signatures on their own.

Do we need the roads done in two years, when they can be done in five at the current rate of taxation? The one per cent dedicated road improvement tax, implemented many years ago, has been used by every sitting Council since. To say that the previous Council “did nothing about the infrastructure and that’s part of the problem of what we have today” is incorrect and spiteful.

Couldn’t Council use reserve funds towards roads? Mayor Pratt said they are applying for the $120 billion federal fund and $148 million provincial fund. Why not wait for those and alleviate this potential tax burden?

The Mayor appears unable or unwilling to meet with the public, allow democratic processes to unfold, and accept the outcome.

Standing for democracy;

Sharon Cross/Cranbrook

Dig into pockets, boost revenues

Many residents of Cranbrook are scratching their heads trying to understand why the City believes it has to borrow $10 million to accelerate the road and infrastructure program.  I’m one of them.

In the 2017 budget, we are already committed to spend $4.1 million on road work.  An additional $10 million loan to expand on that same work is a lot of money that taxpayers will have to repay, at $63 a year for 20 years (based on a $300,000 assessed value).  Is this really necessary?  Has anyone at City Hall proposed viable alternatives to this massive borrowing?

Consider that over the next 20 years it’s a good bet there will be other capital projects that can’t be funded from existing tax revenues and government grants.  You can be sure council will be dipping into the well (you) more than once while we’re still paying down the $10 million.

Cranbrook municipal taxes have gone up an average of 3.4 per cent a year since 2012.  That is well beyond the average rate of inflation in B.C. and unfortunately, the B.C. government’s municipal auditor-general has failed miserably in attempting to get municipal spending under control.  Your wages and pensions, I’m pretty sure, have not increased 3.4 per cent a year.  Now council wants to multiply that burden, not for a special project that would be seen to benefit ALL residents, but for road upgrades in specified areas.

Looking at municipal property taxes payable per capita, Cranbrook in 2015 was 11th on a list of 58  B.C. cities over 10,000 population (provincial ministry sources, from the Business Council of B.C.).  Said another way, our residential tax burden is ALREADY in the top 20 per cent across the province.  Is it good management to push Cranbrook further up that list in a difficult economy, to finance ongoing infrastructure maintenance?

Mayor Pratt in the Oct. 22 Townsman trivialized the suggested $5.25 a month tax increase:  “…not even a package of cigarettes, it’s a glass of beer, it’s a cup of coffee.”  But you’re missing the point, Mayor Pratt.  You and virtually every other service provider are frequently digging into our pockets to boost revenues, at an alarming rate relative to increases in wages and pensions.  It is disingenuous to take this tax  increase in isolation and equate it to a glass of beer a month.

Pratt says this council has a clear mandate from voters to fix the roads.  If so, is it also a carte blanche to raise taxes by borrowing millions, or were we expecting a reasoned and affordable long-term approach to road repairs?  On the City website Pratt’s own words were “I want to help the citizens of Cranbrook restore their confidence in the spending of their tax dollars.”  Hmmmm…

Pratt and council appear to have a confidence problem with this tax increase — already approved, by the way, unless 10 per cent of eligible voters register their opposition.  And here’s how:  go to the City homepage at www.cranbrook.ca.  Under City of Cranbrook Links at the upper right, click on Alternative Approval Process to print the required form.  Fill it out and deliver it to City Hall before 4:30 on Monday, Oct. 31.

I have no appetite for paying higher taxes unnecessarily because this mayor and council want to build a legacy of extensive, expensive road building in their first term.  If you feel the same, you know what to do.

Steve Williams/Cranbrook

Glass recycling in Kimberley

After finding no pubic recycling bins for glass at the Kimberley locations, my household is bringing all of our glass to the transfer station.

There has not been any notification to the residents here of the withdrawal of these bins. I have contacted the RDEK office and was informed that the question of recycling glass comes down to dollars and cents.

How can such thinking be tolerated in a world that is trying to re-use and recycle? Recycled glass is an ingredient used to manufacture new glass. If transportation to a glass manufacturing facility is too expensive, perhaps the RDEK and other municipal governments could build a centre in British Columbia.

The big plastic island in the Pacific Ocean is an ecological nightmare. Glass is cleaner (but expensive to transport). What is the answer to us consumers when we have a green-earth conscience? In Creston, the local dairy now supplies us with milk in returnable bottles. Should all manufacturers bottle their food, drugs and other consumer products in the same size bottles? This would enable provincial or country-wide manufacturers to re-use the glass in their local factories.

Leadership for solutions to the recycling questions that I have raised must start somewhere. Is there an out of the box thinker out there?

Diane McGillivray/Kimberley

Sound levels at Ice games

Ice! Ice! Ice!

Cranbrook is so lucky to have these wonderful young men playing the game they love; plus, they give so much public service back to the community.

We who love our Kootenay Ice are having a huge issue with the sound system at Western Financial Place. It was loud last year, but this year it is much worse. Being as we are desperate to get more fans out, I have talked to many who are not coming. Their reason being they can’t stand the noise level of the music and announcers. When we complained, the answer was “hear are some ear plugs.” They don’t work! I bought heavy duty ones and still have to cover my ears at times.

I tell people to complain — their reply is ‘I have but nobody listens.’

It is not necessary to yell into the microphone. In many places in the arena the sound is so loud the words are garbled and can’t be understood.

I would suggest that someone who is in authority and understands the sound system to come and sit where the fans sit, to hear why we are complaining.

The players deserve to have us there to cheer them on. I yell as loud as anyone when they score a goal. I do not want to give up my great Kootenay Ice tickets.

Gloria Pickering/Cranbrook