Category Archives: Local Issues

Coalmont Community Bulletin Board

The New Bulletin BoardThe new Coalmont Community Bulletin Board is already much used, which shows that it was something we really needed here. It was provided courtesy of the Mozey-On-Inn.

Although (as one person reports seeing) it would appear to be a problem with people from out of town, it is clear that not everybody shares the Coalmont spirit of community. Of course the board is for everyone, but regardless of where you’re from, good manners apply here. This prompted the following letter to the Coalmont Courier.

Bulletin Board Etiquette

Most have probably noticed the new Coalmont Community Bulletin Board that we placed near the mailboxes. We felt it would be a nice addition since it was becoming more and more difficult to read the notices which were being put up. Unfortunately, with the Pool Referendum around the corner, some have decided that their point of view is more important than others and have been removing notices and replacing them with those showing a different point of view.

We would remind everyone that we are a community, and as such are made up of individuals who will have different points of view. Your point of view is not more important than those of others, and you have no right to remove their notices from the board. The only time it would be appropriate to remove notices from the board is when they are obviously expired.

We hope everyone will practice bulletin board etiquette. Please show respect for your friends and neighbours and set an example for the children in our community. This is a perfect opportunity to teach our children how democracy works and that everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Your Neighbours,
Diane and Bob Sterne
The Mozey-On-Inn

Not One Community

There was an information meeting for the Princeton Aquatic Centre project 10 am this morning at the Tulameen Community Hall. Notably, there were quite a few people there from Coalmont.

Lyle Thomas led the meeting and started with a presentation. The key point of departure, as on the information sheets we were sent in the mail, was the “public process” as contained in their 1998 Master Plan. Presumably this shows support for an aquatic centre in all communities and that we are actually “one community”.

Moving on, Thomas explains “it’s easy to sell the benefits”. Indeed, it was easy to convince people there that a fancy pool would be nice, but other points about economic benefits to “the community” appeared to be met with some scepticism by those present.

As for the funding, Thomas, to his credit, did make it clear that the maximum that could be charged on the parcel tax is $361. Nevertheless, he seemed over confident that it would not go over $301. The explanation of how it would eventually go down also seemed a bit shallow as it included an expectation of the population going up – something which does not bear out well statistically. In the end, the economic feasibility still comes down to hoping for the same number of grants being available as there have been in past years, and a hope for donations. As well, the financial impact on both the RDOS and Princeton of using this much money, regardless of where it comes from, on a non-critical project was not clarified. In fact, it was carefully avoided.

When it came to asking questions at the end, it became obvious that the Princeton Aquatic Centre is quite a controversial project. There was a lot of harsh criticism as well as some good insights and suggestions from the audience. In the end, it became clear that we really are not “one community”. Certainly, judging from the people present, there is little support for such an expensive facility, particularly if we have to pay for it and it is located so far from where we live. §

Community Plan Open House

Draft Electoral Area ‘H’ Official Community Plan and Bylaw

Princeton Fringe Area
Date: Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011
Time: 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Location: Riverside Centre
Address: 148 Old Hedley Road

Tulameen
Date: Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011
Time: 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Location: Community Centre
Address: 2595 Otter Avenue

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS), with the assistance of the Electoral Area ‘H’ Official Community Plan (OCP) Review Committee is updating the Princeton Rural OCP & Zoning Bylaws.

A Draft Plan and Zoning Bylaw have now been prepared and, in order to provide members of the public with an opportunity to learn more and provide feedback on the proposed bylaws, a number of Open Houses have been organised.

Residents are invited to drop in at their convenience during either Open House at the Riverside Centre in Princeton, or the Community Centre in Tulameen. Each Open House shall run from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm with a short presentation to be held at 5:30 pm.

The OCP will help direct the future of communities found within the plan area such as Allison Lake, Coalmont, Eastgate, Missezula Lake, Tulameen, and the Princeton Fringe area. §

Princeton Aquatic Centre Voting

There will be a public vote on whether or not property owners in Area H want to borrow $6 million dollars which will be put towards building a $9 million dollar aquatic centre in the Town of Princeton. This will result in a property tax increase of up to $360.79 per parcel. The source of the remaining $3 million dollars is not yet determined but will likely also impact the finances of the area.

It is important that Coalmontians get out to vote for this as failure to do so could have serious consequences. Your vote counts! Here is what you need to know: Continue reading Princeton Aquatic Centre Voting

Petition Changes Referendum Voting

Area H will now be able to vote independently of Princeton in the upcoming referendum.

As you will recall, our votes were to be lumped in with those of Princeton and even if we all voted no and they all voted yes, we would get to borrow 6 million dollars to put towards building an aquatic centre for them. Whether the project would be a success or not, we would still be on the hook for 6 million and a huge increase in our taxes. It appeared as if most people in Area H were in favour of an aquatic centre but saw red when they heard about the financing and lopsided voting scheme.

The result was a petition circulated the week before yesterday’s (August 4) RDOS board meeting. The petition stated simply that the undersigned wished to have their votes counted separately from those of the Town of Princeton. The response was overwhelming and 833 signatures were collected in the various Area H communities. Apparently it was a wakeup call for the Referendum Committee and elicited a particularly strong response from Randy McLean, the mayor of the Town of Princeton.

Brad Hope, our regional representative, who presented the signatures to the board, informs us that there are still late responses coming in and that he is up to almost 900. He also tells us that the Referendum Committee and Town of Princeton intend to go ahead with the referendum and that Area H will work with them in that endeavour.

On behalf of the Princeton & District Aquatic Centre Referendum Committee, a letter has subsequently been sent out with updated information by Nadine McEwen, Princeton Community Recreation & Cultural Coordinator Riverside Centre. You can read the letter in full on the Outram Echo.

Coalmont residents, along with the other communities, will be able to vote on September 24. The actual questions on the referendum will be announced at a later date. §

Community Plan Consultation

Consultation Opportunity until September 9th

Following extensive community consultation in 2009, and input from the Electoral Area ‘H’ OCP Review Committee through 2010 and 2011, DRAFT Official Community Plan & Zoning Bylaws have been completed. The community is now invited to provide preliminary feedback on these documents prior to their consideration by the Regional District Board (later this fall).

Please send any responses by email to planning@rdos.bc.ca. If you have any questions with respect to these bylaws, please do not hesitate to contact the planner, Christopher Garrish, directly at 250-490-4101 or cgarrish@rdos.bc.ca.

It is anticipated the Open Houses will be held towards the end of August of early September (exact dates and times will be posted to this site shortly), with a review of the representations received by the OCP Review Committee at a subsequent meeting later in September.

Please visit the RDOS web site for the draft, more information, and an explanation of what an OCP is all about. §

Princeton Aquatic Centre Referendum

As an Area H resident who has spent some time gathering and disseminating factual information about the Princeton Aquatic Centre Project, it has come to my attention that some people don’t quite understand what is wrong with the Referendum. Everybody gets to vote and that’s democracy – right?

No it is not. There is more to democracy than just having an opportunity to vote. The outcome of the vote should be representative of what most people would like, and people need to know what they’re voting for. In this case the voting is set up in such a way that Area H will be very poorly represented by any outcome.

Of course almost everybody is in favour of having an aquatic facility, regardless of where they live or whether they will make use of it or not. The arguments start when we discuss cost and who will pay for it. That is what the referendum is about – not if we want a pool.

Let me start by pointing out that if everybody in Area H votes “no”, and everybody in Princeton votes “yes”, then the referendum passes. That is because there are more voters in that town. Another disparity is that there are many, possibly eight times, as many people in Princeton who won’t pay the tax, regardless of the outcome. They probably won’t object to an aquatic centre.

But the question is, why is Area H involved to begin with? Five years ago the statistically rising median age was 56 years and there are very few children. Add the fact that 46% don’t live here and come mostly in the summer to enjoy outdoor activities, and it becomes clear that the demographic is not likely to be one that will participate much in any indoor aquatic activities taking place in a neighbouring municipality. Especially if it involves spending an hour in a car.

Regardless, if this passes and we have to pay for a pool then the people in Princeton, who arguably have better access to this proposed facility, would only be paying 39% of the cost. This referendum simply does not ensure a match of the benefits and costs which is legally required in regional districts. If you care about the democratic process you will want Area H to vote for themselves and if you are also a resident there – you will demand it.

~ Ole Juul

Tulameen Days Number 35

The Magic Tree on Tulameen Days weekendWhere’s the party? Of course the whole world knows because this popular event has been going on for years. Thirty five to be exact. You can get a program (pdf) from the Tulameen web site. There will be carnival games, cake walk, parade, horseshoes, street vendors, schoolyard games for kids, and beer garden. Oh, and don’t forget the cleanup event at the end.

This BC day weekend is already well on it’s way and we’ve seen a lot of campers trundling through Coalmont all day. It looks like the area is going to be hopping. As the picture of the Magic Tree might indicate, the consumption of beer is a pastime enjoyed by many, but at it’s heart, the Tulameen Days event is very much a family affair. Have a safe and happy weekend!

Princeton Aquatic Centre Tax for Coalmont

On Saturday, September 24 a referendum will be held asking residents of Princeton and Area H for approval to borrow 6 million dollars to build an Aquatic Centre in Princeton. If the referendum passes, it will mean that annual property taxes will go up by $287.00.

The tax increase will be a “parcel” tax which means that each property will pay the same amount regardless of the assessed value of the property. Only properties with improvements on them will be taxed. Vacant lots will not be subject to the parcel tax. However, if someone owns more than one lot with a house on it, they will have to pay for each lot.

The proposed Aquatic Centre will be built adjacent to the Riverside Community Centre and will cost over $9 million to build. The estimated building costs are as follows:

    construction $ 6,430,100
    site development $240,000
    Engineering/soft costs, contingencies $1,668,000
    HST $145,900
    escalation to estimated start date $848,000

    Total $ 9,332,000

It is hoped that federal grants, provincial grants and donations will raise $3 million. The remaining amount will be borrowed by the Town of Princeton and Area H. The loan will be amortized over 20 years with a projected annual rate of 4.25% for the first 5 years.

It’s important that your voice is heard in this important referendum. Information regarding polling stations will be made public at a later date. There will also be arrangements for advanced voting and a Mail in Ballot for all residents that meet certain criteria.

For more information please visit www.PrincetonAquaticCentre.com
If you have any questions please contact Brad Hope at RDOS or email info@princetonaquaticcentre.com

~ Nienke Klaver

Fire Department Says Thanks

The Coalmont Centennial Party got some donations which went to our Tulameen Fire Department. The same evening there was a dance in Tulameen set up specifically for the purpose of fund raising for much needed equipment which will help us all stay safe. The Coalmont Courier just received this letter of thanks from Chief Jody Woodford.

The Tulameen & District Fire Department would like to thank all of the people who donated to our Equipment Fund.

Our Goal was to Fundraise for 6 sets of Turnout Gear. From your generous donations and the funds raised at the dance, we have enough for 4 sets of turnout gear. We are on our way towards the next 2.

Thank you as well to the volunteers that helped set up and run the dance. A special Thank You to Judy and Bill Wallace, Mike & Rachelle Sanderson, Bobby Hughes, Marty Hassell, Tom & Kelly Reichert, Marg & Ed Reichert, James Eisnor, Daniel Wolowidnyk, Robert LeDuc, Tony Ellis, Colleen Burke, Janet Scotland, Maryanne Woodford, Frankie Reichert, Josh Sanderson, Bill & Candace of the Tulameen Trading Post, Chris Ng and family, Coalmont Centennial volunteers and the Tulameen Community Club.

Jody Woodford
Chief
Tulameen & District Fire Department

Centennial Party July 9

Magic Tree with 100sAfter putting up the Coalmont Centennial pages there has been more interest in this historical event. It was hoped that the Centennial Guestbook would generate some talk about what we could do to celebrate. Indeed, someone came to the rescue – Coalmont Energy Corporation. They have offered to sponsor a party for us here. Thank you CEC!

Every year there is also a Blakeburn reunion dinner held for the last survivors of that era. Those events have been organized by Lillian Young who grew up right here and knows how it was in the heyday of the town. This year she will organize the reunion dinner in Coalmont and we will have that together with our Centennial Party.

There will be a tent set up for the event, and a BBQ with burgers starting at noon. The dinner will start at 4:30 pm. This is a late date to be planning this sort of thing, but hopefully we will find musicians who will want to come and jam. We welcome other ideas for entertainment as well. Watch the Party Page for updates. Questions and suggestions can be directed to party@coalmontcentennial.com See you there!

Centennial banner over Walt's sign

HAPPY BIRTHDAY COALMONT!

Centennial buttonIt was June the 6th 1911 when the Columbia Coal and Coke Company registered the town plan in Kelowna. After getting off to a rocky start because of the intervening First World War, Coalmont took off and, as advertised, became “the centre of the coal and mining belt and the hub of business enterprise in the Tulameen valley”. Our little town thrived until the mine (by then in Blakeburn) closed in 1940. We nearly became a ghost town, but we’re still here!

Visit WWW.COALMONTCENTENNIAL.COM which was set up to commemorate our centennial. There you will find a pictorial “then and now“, links to more detailed history, and a GUESTBOOK for anyone to sign. The Guestbook has already garnered a few interesting stories and hopefully before the year is out will become an interesting little narrative. If you live here, grew up here, have visited here, or are simply a Coalmont wannabe, please add your two cents worth.

As many know, there is no grant money or funding for anything in our little town, but it is still possible that we can have some kind of celebration if we put our minds (and hearts) to it. Our 100th year has just begun! §

We have confirmation that there will be a celebration on Saturday July 9. Everyone is invited. This party is made possible by the generous sponsorship of the Coalmont Energy Corporation. More details to follow.

Tulameen Volunteer Fire Department Here

Tulameen Volunteer Fire Department burning grassLast night we witnessed the Tulameen Volunteer Fire Department in action here. They were burning off the grass on the old school ground along the highway. This greatly reduces the chance of a fire starting there during the summer. We are lucky to have this service available.

This being the time of year for cleaning up ones yard, some will want to have a fire. In this area you may contact the fire department to get a Burning Permit Application Form and Open Air Burning Permit. Contact information – (250)295.6688 or email to tulfd@nethop.net. There is more information on the RDOS site. §

RDOS Solid Waste Management Plan

Open House May 11

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is conducting a series of open houses in Penticton, Summerland, Osoyoos, Keremeos, Oliver, Princeton and Okanagan Falls in early May. The open houses will explain our proposed Solid Waste Management Plan which lays out the future of garbage, recycling and composting for the next 20 years.

The RDOS needs to hear from residents and businesses about their thoughts on proposed programs for future recycling, composting and landfill programs. It’s all part of updating the region’s Solid Waste Management Plan. Seven open houses are being held across the region where people can learn more.

Hours for All Events: 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm with a presentation at 7:00 pm

* Penticton, Tue. May 3, RDOS Boardroom, 101 Martin Street
* Summerland, Wed. May 4, District of Summerland Council Chambers, 13211 Henry Avenue
* Osoyoos, Thu. May 5, Sonora Centre, 8505 68th Avenue
* Keremeos, Mon. May 9, Elks Hall, 504 8th Avenue
* Oliver, Tues. May 10, Oliver Parks and Recreation Community Hall, 36003 79th Street
* Princeton, Wed. May 11, Princeton and District Community Skills Centre (Wellness Centre), 206 Vermilion Avenue
* Okanagan Falls, Thu. May 12, Okanagan Falls Elementary Gymnasium, 1141 Cedar Street

For more information, email us at beintheloop@rdos.bc.ca or call toll free 1-877-610-3737. Be in the loop and attend an open house near you!

Argo – Call Before You Dig!

Phone Cable Dug Up Oct 25 2010In the morning of Monday, October 25, 2010 Argo Road Maintenance were digging along the base of the slide area just outside of Coalmont to make a place for the ineveitable rocks to land instead of as many ending up on the Coalmont Road. Unfortunately, somebody at Argo forgot to “Call Before You Dig” ! When we came home from Keremeos at 11:30 AM we noticed a Telus truck stopped right at the new “No Jake Brake” sign entering Coalmont from Princeton, and two men working on a rat’s nest of cables sticking up out of the ditch. Telephone service was out until sometime in the afternoon.

After having problems with our phone service later in the evening, I emailed Telus and spent 46 minutes waiting for their “instant chat” repair service. We were assured that there was no reported service outage in Coalmont and if we were experiencing problems it must be our line. If they couldn’t repair the problem at their end, Telus would make a repair call on – get this – November 9th!

This morning, I went over and took a photo of the area. It is clear that the phone problem was not caused by our line. You can see the exposed phone cable, lying in the new ditch that Argo have dug – and there are two brand new splices.

One wonders, since Telus are not (officially) aware of the problem, if the cables will be left uncovered to be damaged as rocks continue to rain down from above. It also brings “to light” a bigger question. Should our phone line – our only way of reaching 911 Emergency Services – be buried in a shallow trench at the base of an unstable slope? In addition, is two weeks an acceptable time frame for a repair service in an area that relies on Telus for 911 service? ~ Bob Sterne

Photo Bob Sterne

Access Woes

RDOS Drops the Ball – AGAIN! – by Diane Sterne

Coalmont has been a happening place lately with new folk moving into town. One couple has purchased 1870 and 1874 Fraser Street. Where are those addresses, you may ask? Until now, there was no road access to the lots because Fraser had never been pushed through between Parrish and Campbell. This couple’s lots are located smack in the middle of the block and are zoned residential. In order for them to get to their property, they need road access.

According to the owner, he contacted RDOS and they said the road already existed. Once again RDOS doesn’t really know what is happening in our town because everyone here knows there isn’t an actual road there, it is only shown as a road on the map which was drawn in 1911. The man said he told RDOS there wasn’t a road there and they said to contact Highways to have it put in. The man told us he contacted Highways and they said they wouldn’t put in the road, but that as long as he stayed within the road allowance for Fraser Street, he could put one in. Once he put it in, it would become public access and he would have to ensure it was never blocked off. After contacting RDOS once again, the man told us he was given the go ahead to put in a road.

His intentions are to put through a narrow road approximately 15 ft. wide (within the 66 foot road allowance) and he would try to wind it around existing trees as much as possible to minimize the disturbance. Since RDOS didn’t seem to care which direction he brought the road in, he chose to come in off Campbell. As he explained to us, he thought it would have the least impact on the neighbours. His intentions were sincere and good.

Unfortunately, what RDOS didn’t do was read their own map. The Coalmont map on the RDOS website clearly shows the land between Parrish and his property is residential and the land between Campbell and his property is zoned as a park. It would have made much more sense for RDOS to have instructed our new neighbour to punch his road through the residential part rather than the park area, but it would appear that whoever spoke with him didn’t bother to look very carefully at the Coalmont map in their own database. While our new neighbours have done nothing wrong, and they explained they were unaware the area was designated a park, RDOS has once again dropped the ball. I wonder how many times someone at RDOS will “drop the ball” before anyone will actually lose their job over it? With RDOS in Penticton and Coalmont 2 hours away, problems continue to arise and no one is ever held accountable. We get a shrug of the shoulders and hear the old “I guess someone at RDOS dropped the ball again” but, personally, I am getting pretty tired of hearing it. §

Satellite view of lots and zoning

Coalmine Update

It is time for an update on the coal mine. Last month, the pending deal with the Australian company, Jameson Resources, fell through. They no longer have any interest in the mine and will conduct no further exploration.

Friday, August 06, 2010 Jameson Resources updates Basin Coal Mine Project status. Here is what they say:

Jameson Resources (ASX: JAL) has received notification that formal documentation to amend and extend the Option to Purchase agreement relating to the Basin Coal Mine Project with Project vendors Compliance Energy Corporation (CVE: CEC), could not be concluded due to the failure of Compliance Energy to secure certain waivers from Pacific West Coal Ltd (PWC), the lease holder.

The significance of the involvement of the British company (PWC) is unknown at this time. From a Coalmont perspective, the owner of the mine is still Compliance Energy.

Mining is a complicated business and there are many factors which can influence the outcome of a project. In this case there appears to have been a communications failure. Whether that was planned or not is unknown. Jameson reports:

The draft interim report shows that the project economics were severely impacted by increased operating costs largely as a result of projected processing efficiency being considerably less than that reported from the previous operations conducted at the project.

For now, the mine remains on care and maintenance and no future plans have been published. §