Wednesday, December 31, 2014


 

 Year End Wrap Up 2014 …

I believe it is fair to say the year 2014 was a year of transition and growth across our region and our country. With the recent changes in local government representation being the most obvious example, some other important shifts in our culture also took place, but may not be as obvious. From my vantage point, the big local story in 2014 was the great awakening of the electorate and their increased participation in not just elections, referendums etc… but community participation in general. The turnout at local markets, community events and election debates- along with other “hands on” activities was noticeably greater in 2014. The advancement of recently formed community  groups like “West Kootenay Women in Business", the "Glenmerry Residents Association" and the newly created in 2014 “Downtown Business Group” in Trail, are all examples of this shift. The common thread which is woven through the increased community participation  and the groups mentioned has been the driving force behind them; they are all citizen led. This level of citizen engagement is key to their ongoing success and local government should be supporting these initiatives across our region. While the residents of Greater Trail have always been known for their steadfast volunteerism, we have also just come through a period where our core group of volunteers has experienced somewhat of a renewal among its ranks. The recruitment of some fresh faces has afforded our longest serving community advocates a rest and in some cases, a well-deserved and hard-earned retirement. Their service to our greater community is truly appreciated.
Along with this renewal, some other changes will likely follow. Previously successful ventures and long standing institutions may pass away. Perhaps slowly, or in some cases they may just cease to exist as their supporters seek new ways of serving their community. This too can be a healthy change, as long as we view the passing away of the old as a graduation of sorts (not simply as loss) and welcome the new institutions with as much energy and enthusiasm as we had with their predecessors. One key driver in these changes is the ever increasing and proliferating advances in technology. As they occur, it brings with them social changes, across all strata of our society. Volunteerism is but one area. Changes in how we do business, how we educate ourselves and how we communicate are all results of changes in the technology we use to navigate our daily lives. 2014 brought us new ideas like the website Ed-X, an online education website that offers free university level courses to anyone who has an internet connection. Ideas such as this are game changers for a society. Leveling the playing field, by allowing those of modest means access to world class education at no cost, is a giant leap forward for our culture in my view. As we celebrate these leaps forward, we must also keep in mind that once again, advances such as this one, will have unintended consequences.
On a more somber and sobering note, the most significant event/tragedy of the year for all Canadians (in my view) would have to be the terrorist attack in Ottawa of October 22nd, which claimed the life of Cpl. Nathan Cirrillo, Canadian Forces. It brought home the very real fact that the now almost 14 year-old War on Terror is a fight that knows no boundaries. Not only was this heinous act unprovoked and executed in a cowardly fashion, it was carried out at a location that I, along with many other Canadians - would deem sacred, our National War Memorial. This total disregard for the normal conventions of war further highlighted the fact that the battlefield in such an asymmetrical war could very well be a parking lot in a suburb, or a busy shopping mall in downtown (any city) Canada. Although this act of terror was carried out by a lone mad man, we cannot ignore the fact that his actions were ideologically driven. We learned in the worst way possible on October 22nd, that such a battle must not only be fought differently, it must also be defended against differently than any of the other conflicts in our history as a nation. This again, has the potential to change everyday life for all of us. While the odds of any one Canadian being a victim of such an attack are a statistical anomaly in the extreme, the odds of such an event changing how we live - are much greater. One only needs to look back upon the tragic events of September 11, 2001 to see the type of cultural changes that can occur as a result. Although the two attacks are not comparable in scope, what they do have in common is that they both exposed fatal flaws in our defense mechanisms. Now we must examine these gaps and rectify them without delay. 

Still, I look to our collective future with great optimism. We as Canadians are in many ways the envy of the western world and are perhaps too humble to admit it. Certainly, we have our challenges to address, but we have much more to be proud of. Canada is consistently ranked in the top five countries to live in worldwide .The Economist magazine recently conducted a study on livability and 3 of the top 10 cities in this global ranking were Canadian; Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary. What does this all mean you ask? Well, I will conclude my annual diatribe with this question that answers yours.

In spite of the challenges this generation faces (as all generations before and aft - have and must), where else would you rather be?

Happy New Year!

Kevin Jolly
  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

T2 ...

The beginning of a second term (T2) in any politician's career provides both an opportunity for reflection, and in some respects a fresh start. In my own case, there will also be three new faces staring back at me from across the table/room every fortnight. Each of them bringing new ideas, strengths and different perspectives. The content and context of our deliberations will most certainly change as a result. I have to say that I am more than pleased with the new group. We have quite a diverse mix of experience, skills and talent encompassed among this new team. I am further impressed with the caliber of new representatives across our region. By all accounts, the expectations of the public are that this next term - should be a "game changer".

Looking forward, there will be opportunities afforded to the Council of 2014-18 that did not exist for the last group between 2011-2014. It is my sincere hope that these opportunities are viewed as such by our fellow politicians across the region (and I believe they will be). Chief among them; the opportunity to put the past behind us and start anew. Working together to resolve outstanding issues such as recreation funding and boundary expansion will be an early test of our collective resolve to find a better way and come to agreements that are mutually beneficial. I believe this is eminently possible and have high expectations that it will come sooner than most anticipate.

If the 97th Inaugural meeting of Trail City Council is any indication, the level of community engagement also portends to be very high throughout this term. Given the higher than normal turnout at the polls this year, I was not surprised to see such an impressive turnout for the inaugural meeting. Over 135 residents and guests (including local officials from neighboring communities) crowded into The Riverbelle Monday night, to witness the swearing in of the new council, say goodbye to our three departing Councillors and hear Mayor Bog's final proclamation bringing his 27 year career to a close. The anticipation amongst the crowd was palpable. There was a sense in the air that a new era in local politics had begun. The Hon. Judge Sperry presided over the ceremony as we all took our respective Oaths of Office individually and we proclaimed to God, country, and Queen to dutifully uphold the office to which we were elected. Mayor Martin closed the ceremony with his first address to the people of Trail, where he re-iterated his vision for the future of the Silver City, along with  plans for new partnerships and teamwork that will be required to accomplish that vision.

It was in fact a new beginning. An evening filled with promise for the future and a type of sincerity that is uncommon at political events. I left the gathering with a swelling sense of community pride and great optimism for what I believe we are capable of achieving together over the next four years.

Now we must roll up our sleeves and the hard work begins ...

Sincerely,

Kevin Jolly
Councillor

Friday, November 14, 2014

Closing thoughts...

I want to thank the residents of Trail for enduring the last few months of election fever and everything it brings with it. Signs, social media and events seem to dominate our landscape for a few months and then it all culminates in one final night of mixed emotions and the will of the people is brought forth.

The support and encouragement I received from our residents and surrounding communities throughout the campaign is truly appreciated. Working for you over the past three years has been both a rewarding and humbling experience. I also thank my council peers for their efforts during this past term as we have endeavored to carry out the wishes of the public. Seeing our community advance and accomplish our collective goals has been the true reward.

Giving back to the community is a core value that I embraced at a young age and have passed that value on to my own children. To have a resilient and thriving community, we all must participate in building that culture. I believe that we can continue to improve and strengthen our community in a way that supports all of our citizens, if we each do our part. I would be honored, if once again, you chose me to continue to help lead our community over the next four years.

On November 15th, please take the time to vote and let’s keep moving forward… together Trail.

Sincerely,

Kevin Jolly

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Platform Position 13 ...

During my time on Trail council, I have supported the expansion of programs at Selkirk College. I have met with Selkirk's administration and expressed a desire to see our Selkirk campus better utilized and geared more towards our industrial job base. I will continue to lobby Selkirk for more programs at the Trail campus. I am a strong supporter of the college and community colleges in general. I have previously volunteered as a judge in their annual business competition, and have also appeared as a guest speaker at their annual career fair. The expansion of higher learning opportunities in any community is critical to its long term sustainability.  

** Authorized by Mike Konkin, CPA,CGA, Financial Agent, 250-368-1278

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Platform Positions 11 & 12 ...

11)  I still support the establishment of a car share service in Trail. There are several easy to duplicate models that are already proven. A co-op program or a pay as you go cost recovery system both make sense. Car share services provide another option for those with temporary transportation challenges or those who simply choose not to own. It is a modest investment for a municipality to support and it creates greater mobility to support our commercial sector and easier access to health care services for residents.

12) There has been a lot of talk recently about youth engagement and suggestions that there should be a form of youth government in our area. I think what makes more sense is to ask our youth what they want instead of telling them what they want. It would be great if our youth had an interest in municipal affairs, but if they find it to be boring, inaccessible or not of interest to them, their engagement in the political process will most likely be limited. Perhaps we could learn a few things by just asking them what they think they need to feel connected to their community, government, etc... A "youth specific" online community engagement survey might be a good start.

* My definition of youth means teens and young adults up to the age of 21.

** Authorized by Mike Konkin, CPA, CGA, Financial Agent 250-368-1278

Friday, October 31, 2014

Platform Positions 9  & 10 ...

9) In 2013 the City approved a tax exemption by law (five year window) that allowed businesses in the downtown to receive up to a 10 year tax exemption on improvements to their buildings that increased the taxable value of the property in excess of $10,000.00. The City then expanded this program in early 2014 to include all businesses across the entire City of Trail for the balance of the bylaw term. I support the revitalization of our communities business real estate assets and this bylaw is a tangible way of doing that. For those who are looking to renovate and improve their business properties in Trail - the time is NOW.


10) I had a conversation last weekend with a few residents about the All Wheel Park (skate park) and their comments really got me thinking about the process this project has gone through and what will be required to get the park built. Although I have only considered this project once while on council and did vote in favor of the cost sharing arrangement 50/50. I am now convinced that the City will have to shift/reorganize some other projects and increase its financial participation to get the All Wheel Park built in this next term.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Platform Position 8 ...

I believe in the Getting to Home program and the great work they have done in our community to reduce homelessness. Since inception a little over two years ago, the program has assisted in finding permanent shelter for over 200 people. That is over 200 women, children and men in our community that now have a better and more secure quality of life because of this program. I will continue to support the program because I know it works. Thank you to the team at CDS who are so committed to this work; Sheila, Gail and of course Jan, as well as the many other volunteers who give of their time to make it happen.


This one is short, simple and effective...

 ** Authorized by Mike Konkin, CGA, CPA, Financial Agent, 250-368-1278.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Platform Positions: 6 & 7

6) Development of the city owned Esplanade lands is a key component in the revitalization of our downtown. I support the construction of a riverfront mixed use condominium project with some retail and service business space incorporated into the design. If built in a phased approach, and priced correctly- these units should not be difficult to market. The Columbia River is our city's greatest natural asset and we need to make the most of it. More to follow on this project soon.

7) The current City of Trail "Booth" that you see set at markets and other events is council's first foray into improving citizen engagement with in person contact. I believe there are more ways that council can stay engaged with the community on an ongoing basis. Town hall meetings are a more traditional method of engaging the public and social media is a more modern, but less personal method. I am of the opinion that focus groups with very specific objectives can also be an excellent way of gathering community feedback on important issues.

Authorized by Mike Konkin, CPA,CGA, Financial Agent 250.368.1278

Friday, October 24, 2014

Platform Positions 3,4,& 5

3) I believe that in order to secure the long term sustainability and safe access to KBRH, a second access road must be built. If re-elected, I will continue to advocate for this improvement and vote accordingly. KBRH is a critical part of our community and our region. We have to do everything we can... to make it a better facility and ensure we are providing the best patient care possible.

** UPDATE:10-24-2014- IHA has proposed a 40 Million dollar upgrade to KBRH as a result of their recent facility study. While no final decisions have been made. I strongly believe this is the direction we should be moving in. This would include improved access and expanded parking facilities for patients, visitors and staff.

4) If re-elected, I will move to increase the responsibility and scope of the Protective Services Portfolio with a greater focus on public safety and information sharing. This will include closer co-ordination with all Emergency Responder Groups (Police, Fire, Ambulance, Emergency Management and DND). I will also promote an enhanced public reporting structure that improves the timeliness and access to information when significant events occur.

5) Lastly, I strongly support the proposed Regional Fire Training Centre and our current system of full time and volunteer firefighters. We need to give our firefighters the tools and training to do their very difficult and dangerous jobs safely and effectively.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Platform Position 2 ...
 
I support the construction of the Riverfront Centre Project. Ultimately it will be the voting public that decides the future of this project on Nov 15th. The cost to residential taxpayers on the construction of the facility works out to be just over $20.00 dollars per 100K of property assessment per year. This facility will be a modern gathering place with multi use spaces, up to date technology and it will be a place to celebrate our rich cultural heritage. Once constructed, it will form the centerpiece for the civic plaza on the waterfront. I am hopeful that we have the collective vision to see the anchoring effect a project of this nature could have on our downtown. Lastly, I wish to point out that the concept design drawings of the facility located on the City website are just that, conceptual. There have been no final decisions made as to what the external fa├žade of the structure will look like at this time. That process will take place at a later date, if approved.
 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Platform Position 1 ...
 
The Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital is one of our community's greatest assets. Our residents rely on it not only for the excellent health care they receive, but also as a major employer. It is a key amenity that is carefully considered when families are looking to relocate to our area. The current two site facility model in conjunction with Kootenay Lake Hospital in Nelson, is the model that the Interior Health Authority supports and is committed to for the foreseeable future. While there continues to be calls by some for the construction of a new facility, the reality is that a new facility is not in the plans for Interior Health any time in the near future. My position remains unchanged from 2012. We need to spend our health care dollars on improving health care services for our residents today, not endless studies or money parked in an account waiting for something to happen that isn't a part of the long term capital plan. See below for the motion passed by Trail Council #168-12, from our General Meeting on March 12, 2012. It is worth noting that all of council stood to their feet to register their votes as this motion was passed unanimously. It was the first time during this session of council and the last time a standing vote was recorded. I stood for KBRH then and I continue to do so now. Let's end the bickering between neighboring communities and put more resources into patient care and state of the art equipment today.

168-12  


Moved: Councillor Jolly

Seconded: Councillor Cacchioni

 "That Trail City Council unanimously and unequivocally support the retention of the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in its current location and the maintenance of its Regional Hospital status in perpetuity, and further that all capital funding for our region be dedicated to the refurbishment, upgrading and support of the existing facilities currently operating in the region in order to deliver the highest level of patient care to those in need of health care services today; and that a letter be sent to the Interior Health Authority and the Minister of Health indicating so."

 Carried unanimously.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Round 2 ...

As we prepare for the next civic election and a new four year term, every incumbent elected official has to ask themselves a few questions. First, what have I/we accomplished over the last three years? Really, this is about the effectiveness and ability of the individual and their council group to accomplish their objectives. The second question we need to ask ourselves is – can we do better? Well, I do believe that much has been accomplished in the three years since this council took office. Some immediate wins of note would be; the purchase of the Regional Airport, Phase One and Two of the Downtown Plan were implemented and council has the blessing of the electorate now to move ahead with the construction of a new pedestrian/utility bridge across the Columbia. Initiatives still awaiting completion as we head into the next four year term are; the finalization of the inter-municipal agreement on the bridge construction, the Boundary Expansion at Waneta into the Industrial Park and  the Economic Development & Tax Agreement with Teck. During the past three years the City has also taken some other progressive steps forward by revamping our website, launching a Facebook and Twitter presence as well as engaging with the community at local events through our public information booth. Our technological leap forward in the social media realm is overseen by Andrea Jolly (no relation) the City’s Community Promotions & Events Coordinator - a position that did not exist prior to this council term. Many would argue that these steps were overdue, and perhaps some of them were, but more importantly – they are now done.

In addition to the progress noted above, the City has spent a significant amount of time and effort engaged in regional negotiations that have been challenging to put it mildly. I do have renewed hope however that some of these regional issues are resolvable in the near term. We were heartened to finally reach agreement with Warfield on Recreation and Library funding for the immediate future and I am proud to have been a part of the negotiating team that brought the two communities back together. Some issues remain outstanding within the region that will come to the fore of this next council term .Chief among them would be a new Economic Development Services Agreement in the Lower Columbia and the composition of the service participants. Last but not least is the often discussed issue of amalgamation, which could spell the beginning of the end to these sub-regional squabbles if handled with the proper care and  attention it deserves.
The change we have experienced over the last three years in our city has been a long time coming and has been welcomed by most, but not all. It was and still is necessary though. If we wish to remain competitive and viable as a community that families wish to relocate to and call their home, we must accept the reality of the very competitive place we find ourselves in and adapt to a new way of community building. Simply put – we must embrace these changes, not fear them or pretend they don’t affect us.
There is much to consider as the world around us grows more complex by the day. New challenges regularly arise that local government must deal with and the cost of implementing new strategies and plans never goes down. This changing and evolving set of circumstances demands a creative type of leadership that looks forward to what we can accomplish and how. Investing in infrastructure is one of those priorities that is critical to the renewal of our city and should not be viewed as just another expense.  Community investment and renewal helps keep property values growing and has a positive impact on population growth for small communities. We must invest in our collective futures by building a community that we can proudly call home today, instead of hearkening back to a different era when the world was a different place and so was our place in it.

I sincerely believe Trail’s best days are still ahead of us. And we all need to believe that in order to make it a reality.  That is why I am running for re-election to Trail council. I look forward to meeting and talking with you over the next 40 days to hear your thoughts and ideas on how we can improve our great city.

Let’s move forward together Trail…

Sincerely,
Kevin Jolly

 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

Public Service & Democracy ...

   After almost three years serving the residents of Trail, I took the opportunity a week of vacation provided to reflect upon my time in office and all that it had entailed.  The first thing I learned once in office is that the job of a Municipal Councillor is much more challenging that it appears from the outside looking in. Prior to running for council I had served on many boards and committees serving a wide range of interests from the political realm to the charitable sector and everything in between. While most were centered on a single purpose, they all fit the bill as public service and the more global goal of bettering one’s community. That being said, none of them presented an equivalent challenge to serving as an elected official. What I also learned early on, is that I enjoy the challenge and find the very serious responsibility of being a Councillor fits well with the skills and knowledge base I have developed over my working career. I’m not sure there is such a thing as a “natural politician”, (not sure it would be a compliment either), but I certainly do feel comfortable in my skin while doing the job.
   The job of a Municipal Councillor is primarily to ensure the operations of a municipality are consistent with the community’s official community plan (wishes of the public) and that those actions are carried out in an efficient, cost effective manner – within the bounds of legislative authority granted by the BC Municipal Charter. While this sounds simple, many things can get in the way of the best made plans. Bureaucracy within other levels of government is chief among them and can certainly slow down progress. At times, it can cause opportunities as uncommon as Haley’s Comet to sail right by just the same. Public opinion can also change quickly, particularly when results develop slower than anticipated. Fiscal constraint balanced against taxation policy is the one constant that underpins all decisions. In spite of this, we carry on and pursue the goals outlined by the majority. This too brings its own challenges, while pursuing those goals – opposition is guaranteed. Both externally and on occasion from within. This is of course how democracy works. I heard it said once that democracy is the best flawed system of government we have discovered to date. We can thank the 6th Century Greeks/Athenians for giving us the foundation of a system better than monarchical or despotic rule. I’ve also heard it said that democracy is two wolves and a sheep arguing over what’s for dinner. Compared to monarchical or despotic rule… I choose lamb every time.
   Over the past three years, I believe the current council has taken on more challenging projects and tackled more longstanding issues than it had in the past twenty years. The acquisition of the Airport, Regional Sewer Agreement, Recreation and Culture Agreement with Warfield, Boundary Expansion (pending) and a host of others combined for a complex and very busy legislative agenda. Most of the choices involved trade offs and compromises that in the end were necessary, though not always preferred. Herein lays the rub. As a Municipal Councillor you will not always get your way, or even the ideal solution. What you will get though is the solution that is possible (legally, financially, etc...) and hopefully achieves the greatest good for the community as a whole. This is the art of politics within the democratic system; to do the most good, benefiting the most people with the resources you have and within the confines of the laws of the day.
   During my tenure on council I have put much thought and considerable deliberation into every decision I have participated in. Confident each time (With only one exception – See blog entry – Choices, March 4, 2013) that given the options available, the vote cast was the best choice in those circumstances for the residents of Trail. I read ALL of the voluminous material provided in staff reports and correspondence and consult with peers and citizens alike when uncertain about a course of action. Challenging staff recommendations is not something I have shied away from when required, however I can honestly say that the caliber of staff reporting provided to Trail City Council has been on the whole, excellent. I believe these qualities are what are expected of any elected official in local government. Ultimately, we are the final decision makers and Ambassadors for our community. We own the decisions and their consequences, both intended and unintended. I have done my very best over the last few years to live up to the expectations outlined above and wholeheartedly believe that the City of Trail has made significant progress during this time. There is more work to be done though and more tough decisions ahead. That is why I will be asking for your support once again on November 15th, when I allow my name to stand for the position of … Councillor.

Sincerely,

Kevin Jolly
Councillor

City of Trail

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Bridge Too Far ?

The title of this entry may be somewhat misleading upon first view. You probably read it and asked yourself if I was referring to the 1977 movie by the same name or the new pipe/pedestrian bridge that is being proposed by the City of Trail in cooperation with the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB). The title was written that way specifically to grab your attention, misdirect your focus and illustrate the following point. The information being circulated about this project along with the counter-petition you may have seen, is also doing the very same thing. It is factually inaccurate and misdirects the public's attention to a different question "Do you want the old bridge re-built?". Regardless of why or who is spreading this information, the public deserves to hear the truth in plain terms about what is actually possible,what is actually being proposed and what it is projected to cost...before they sign their name to a counter-petition.

FACT : The old bridge IS structurally unsound for transport and is beyond repairs that would be economically viable.

It was condemned in late 2010 due to the very real risk that the structure could fail and at 100 yrs of age it had reached the end of it's useful life. An engineering firm (Buckland & Taylor)- http://www.b-t.com/menu/home/Pages/buckland-and-taylor.aspx) that specializes in bridges and municipal infrastructure refused to sign off on the continued use of the bridge based on the expertise of a team of certified (P. Eng) Engineers. These are not people who claim to be Engineers with "better ideas". They are professionals who have completed  bridge projects all over the world. They stake their credentials on the fully informed decisions they make, knowing full well the implications of their decisions and the impacts to affected communities.This decision was not taken lightly, nor was it made in haste without consideration for the impacts.

FACT : The current sewer line on the bridge HAS failed twice and must be replaced.

The sewer line strung along the bottom of the old bridge failed in 2012, dumping thousands of litres raw sewage into the Columbia River.The Ministry of Environment did not levy a fine on the RDKB (who is responsible for the sewer line) at the time. Additional seepage was noted this past winter and a future failure of a more significant nature could result in fines to the RDKB East End Sewer Group (Trail, Rossland & Warfield) that could run into the millions. This would result in a significant and immediate tax increase for all participants of the service and it CANNOT be paid over time like the cost of a new structure can. In response to that FACT, some have said, "Just pump it back to the new bridge and string it across like the gas line". Sorry, the existing single pump house cannot handle the job.  A new one would have to be built at a cost exceeding 7 figures, just for the pump house, never mind the cost of piping, which by the way would have to hang on the river wall and be exposed to the rising river and constant current. This would never be approved by the Ministry of Environment and any thinking person can see why this should not happen. "How about digging up Bay Avenue and running a new line to the new bridge?". Again, it would cost millions, and require the construction of another pump house. Then you lose the water line redundancy and additional fiber-optic conduit. You may have also heard it said that, "They can just run it under the river bed". Simple right? In a word, no. Not simple at all. No guarantee can be made that the river bed is passable with a sewer pipeline. The digging would have to take place first and if in the middle of the multimillion dollar endeavor it was discovered to be impassable, we would be back to square one and have the cost of the new bridge added onto the sunk costs (pardon the pun) of the very expensive underwater excavation. This is a huge and irresponsible risk in my view. This is a bad bet that no responsible council should ever make with taxpayer funds.

FACT:  The cost of a new car bridge would approach 20 Million dollars as at 2011. This would effectively freeze capital spending in the City of Trail for years and the RDKB would still only be required to participate in the portion that carries the sewer lines. The province of BC will not fund the construction of a new automotive bridge.

FACT:  The entire capital cost of the City of Trail's participation in this project (both pipe bridge partnership with the RDKB and the walking deck) will be paid for by the Government of Canada's federal gas tax grant program and this will be the case until the loan is retired.

1. The total cost of the entire project would be 9.8 Million. This includes $200,000.00
that has already been invested in engineering costs for this project.

2. The Pipe Bridge portion will cost the RDKB 4.5 Million (in which Trail participates at 62% of the cost of the service). This utility bridge MUST be built and we must participate in this critical infrastructure repair.

3. Walking/Cycling Deck is 100% our cost at approximately 5.3 Million , 5.6 Million if you include our engineering and planning costs invested to date.

4. The City already has 700K available from Gas Tax revenues for 2013 & 2014 that will effectively reduce the initial borrowing down to 4.9 Million. This includes the cost of adding an additional waterline to loop Trail's municipal water system and create a back up system. It will also include fibre optic cable conduit to support further expansion of the City's Broadband connection.

* Total capital costs attributed to the City of Trail, funded by the federal Gas Tax Grant Program results in a total borrowing by the City of Trail of $4.916 Million, (interest not included).

This loan authorization bylaw #2775, was passed by Trail City Council (unanimously) on Monday April, 24,2014 under section 3.2 of the regular agenda during a public and televised meeting of council, with a pre-published agenda. This was not done in a closed meeting or an ad-hoc session as some have suggested.

This means that your City of Trail residential taxes will not be increasing as a result of this project proceeding and the federal government's Gas Tax Rebate Program will be used for its intended purpose of assisting municipalities with the upgrading of critical infrastructure and addressing the nation wide infrastructure deficit. If you have been told something different, you have been misinformed. The RDKB has the power to levy its own taxes to member municipalities for any borrowing they may do. How they collectively choose to pay for their portion of the pipe bridge is up to the elected officials that make up that governing body.

In summary, I will say this. The counter petition process is a piece of legislation that exists for two reasons.

1.) It is a legislative tool that allows municipal councils to expedite projects that require borrowing when tax revenues for the current year are not sufficient to pay for the entire project. It allows government to proceed in an orderly fashion,consistent with stated and published community objectives. It also prevents governments from having to go to referendum each time a decision is required to invest in critical infrastructure. This is of course why councils are elected in the first place, to represent constituents when these decisions are taken. If a referendum were required every time a major expenditure was planned or required, nothing would ever be achieved and the wheels of government would effectively grind to a complete halt.

2.) The province of BC put this statute into the Community Charter (The Act that empowers local governments) as a democratic check against abuse of power at the local government level. It allows citizens the opportunity to have their voice heard when they have not been consulted or had opportunity to offer a dissenting viewpoint. The key point being that an absence of consultation should be present to legitimize the use of the counter petition tool. To put a finer point on that last statement, refer to the outline below for the communication and feed back that the COT has provided and received on this project prior to voting on this loan authorization by-law.

Consultation:

Since 2012 -the future bridge has been covered extensively by local media (radio, TV, social media, online papers and discussion forums). It has been discussed by Mayor and Council at several Regular Council Meetings. Public consultations have taken place on numerous occasions during the Trail Market on the Esplanade. The information was also made available to the public at Waneta Plaza and on display at the Trail Regional Airport  An up-to-date information sheet was provided at the aforementioned consultations and has been available for review at City Hall. The project is also prominently available on the City’s website and was highlighted in the City’s autumn 2013 and spring 2014 newsletters, distributed to every resident in Trail and also remains available online for the public to view. For anyone to suggest that the public has somehow been kept in the dark about this project  is patently false.

Lastly, what is absolutely critical to this initiative and for the democratic process to be effective, is for the citizenry to be accurately informed when they choose to either participate in any counter petition or not. I am hopeful that the information provided here is of some assistance to you if you are still undecided on whether or not this project should proceed or if you feel that you have been misinformed. The implications of this project if unsuccessful could be grave for our community. The risks of not proceeding are high, as are the increased costs of kicking the can down the road for a future council to deal with this issue. If you only remember one thing I have said in this entire communication, let it be this;

*** There will not be any new City of Trail tax levy on your property as a result of either the pipe bridge or the walking/cycling deck being built. Our portion (for both components) is being funded by Federal Gas Tax Grant Revenues. If anyone tells you otherwise, ask them to prove it.

Thank you

Kevin Jolly
Councillor

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Facts on Recreation & Culture ...

As a local reader of this blog you will no doubt be aware of the recent decision by the Village of Warfield to withdraw from their most recently expired recreation services agreement and longstanding library contract with the City of Trail. I can imagine that you were surprised to hear of this drastic move that seemed to come out of nowhere. Well, I can tell you that you were not the only ones that were surprised. The negotiating committee for the City of Trail was equally perplexed when we learned of this decision. For several months leading up to the announcement of this decision, the City was engaged in discussions on several options for the renewal of recreation and culture agreements with Warfield. Several options were explored with the shared view that a worst case scenario (failing any new solutions) would be a short to mid-term renewal of the existing arrangements, which by the way were not "two tiered" in any way.

The existing agreement on recreation provided complete equality of access to all  City of Trail  facilities for all Warfield residents and Trail residents alike. This model is predicated on a fixed annual fee $74,446,00 +2% inflation. This payment supports operational costs only (no capital) and includes all recreational facilities within the municipal boundary of the City of Trail. It also gives Warfield credit for their contribution of the outdoor pool facility and takes into account the Village's ability to pay. In fact, the 74K only represents a cost of $42 /per capita. The City of Trail is paying $424/per capita to absorb the 3.29M deficit on the total cost of operating the recreation services provided. This is not only a fair method of cost attribution for partner municipalities, it's a bargain. It is also based on a fundamental principle that underlies the viability of all large scale government owned and operated facilities. Every party to the agreement must pay at least their fair share of the cost to operate a facility in order to participate in the benefits of the service being provided. This is how hospitals, libraries, roads, parks, schools and every other shared government service must operate in order to remain viable. To suggest that a "user pay system" is somehow more "fair" is ludicrous. If we chose to pursue this route on the other services noted above, they simply would not exist. It would be financially impossible to create, maintain and operate such facilities on an unpredictable and highly variable cost recovery model.

If all of this "user pay" and "requests for numbers" talk sounds familiar, it is because this current impasse is almost an instant replay of what took place with regard to the BV P.A.R.T.S. group and their recent withdrawal from their now expired recreation agreement with the City of Trail. After much post withdrawal talk in the public realm about the concern over costs and getting "value for the dollar", it was discovered in a letter to the editor of the Trail Daily Times- that one of the motivations for the review was the belief that the COT was not being a good neighbour with respect to their current efforts to expand the boundary of the City into Area A. This begs the question, if the impasse isn't about money (because that is being mitigated) and boundary expansion is the underlying issue, then what is actually being lost and by whom,if  boundary expansion proceeds?

The COT has unfairly been portrayed as a rich, power hungry government that is seeking to annex bordering communities by aggressive means. As if the COT is somehow the municipal equivalent of the Red Army. (EDITORS NOTE : 03-28-2014 - 6:20 PM: See Trail Daily Times March 28th edition for this accusation in letters to the editor . It was only a matter of time before this reference would be used.)  This is of course, a patently false narrative that is meant to take the public eye off of the real issues at hand. The simple truth is that the City of Trail responded to the wishes of a group of business owners in Area A who felt like their voices were being ignored. They came to the COT seeking relief, tax certainty and the hope for more progressive policies that would allow their enterprises to expand and flourish. Better services means greater opportunities for economic expansion. It means the possibility of more jobs for residents of the entire area, not just residents of Trail. If successful, the inclusion of this land into the COT would see almost 500K more tax dollars returned from the coffers of the provincial government to our area. This money is over and above all of the money our region is currently receiving from the provincial government for the taxes paid by the industrial users in the proposed expansion area. The current mitigation proposal would see the unincorporated Area A residents receive up to $532,000.00/year to compensate for transferred tax revenues after the boundary expansion.

 Now, fast forward to the conversation taking place this week regarding recreation services and the library agreement with the Village of Warfield. This glaring uncertainty of future revenues now jeopardizes a planned 6 Million dollar Library & Museum Complex that would again ,benefit all area residents. Instead, Warfield residents will be asked to pay first for a $75.00 library card and have their privileges of book borrowing restricted and reading program at Webster School cancelled. This is what happens when a private enterprise concept is applied to a public interest service.

User pay, pay-as-you-go systems simply do not work in the case of public facilities. Predictable, long term commitments to funding of these types of services is the only way they can be afforded and sustained. The borrowing of 6 Million dollars is not something any municipality does on a maybe or without the consent of their electors, (as it should be). We will be asking our residents to approve the borrowing of 6 Million dollars for the construction of the new Library & Museum Complex (regional asset) in a referendum on November 15th, 2014 ,in conjunction with the province wide municipal election. If this is not what it means to be a good neighbor, somebody please tell me what that looks like.

Instead of being recognized for the regional contributions and sacrifices that are regularly made by the residents of Trail, we again find ourselves wearing the highly charged and politicized label of "Bully". Politicians from days gone by, current pols and aspiring ones will (and have) cast baseless accusations against our community and our residents. Couched in community pride, these accusations are nothing more than "tax class envy".I would like to believe it is only the much talked about industrial tax base that Trail enjoys which draws the ire of others and not something more primitive.While Trail does have the benefit of a large industrial tax payer, so do all of the communities who receive regional services through the RDKB. Trail also lives with the many challenges of having a smelter in the middle of our community. The City and Teck have now come up with a creative way to mitigate some of those challenges through an agreement that supports economic development that benefits all of our communities, while providing long term tax certainty for this region's largest employer. It also bares mentioning that all of Teck's workers, regardless of where they live, will benefit from the long term employment stability provided by the tax agreement the COT is committing to for the next 20 years. If you add in the spin off jobs that exist in our region to support Teck's Trail Operations and the financial support those jobs provide to all of our communities in the Lower Columbia, the net benefit to our entire region is not only immense, but critical in these uncertain economic times.

So,the next time you read a letter to the editor blaming Trail for all of the regional political challenges, you should ask yourself two questions; first, Does this person actually understand what has taken place and why? Or is this just "community pride" gone too far? Lastly, when you see the COT seeking to invest their taxpayer dollars into infrastructure that benefits the entire region, you could also ask yourself; Are these the actions of a bully, or a benefactor?

In conclusion, what I can say to summarize the solution is this; The sooner everyone accepts their collective roles in the sustaining of our region's high level of recreational and cultural services, the sooner we can move past the parochialism and pettiness that currently divides us. The simple fact is, everyone must pay their fair share (not just Trail), if we are to have the services and facilities that our residents have come to expect. No community will make it on their own in this game and to think otherwise is a fool's errand. The future of recreation and culture in our area does not rest in the worn out slogans and platitudes of a bygone era. It can only come to fruition through a new way of thinking and a commitment from partner municipalities to focus on solutions that are equitable for all parties, in principle and in practice.

I encourage all readers to speak to your political representatives and share your views These are your tax dollars and shared services. You should have a say in what level of service those monies purchase and how.

Sincerely,

Kevin Jolly
Councillor

City of Trail

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Art & Science of Budgeting ...

 It’s that time of year again where the City prepares it’s Budget for the year ahead along with an update to the five year plan. To say that the numbers of capital projects on the horizon are “significant” would be an understatement. The projects are not only numerous, they are needed. A city that ignores the upgrading of its infrastructure and planning for future growth does so at its own peril. This is the proverbial kicking of the can down the road for other future governments to address. At the municipal level, raising taxes is the primary way (in most cases the only way) that municipalities can raise additional revenues to fund those upgrades which are the sole responsibility of local government. Think projects like sewers, sidewalks, non-provincial or non-federal roads and of course utility bridges  At the small community level, airports, libraries and museums are no exception to this mounting list of priorities. These projects are never inexpensive and with increasing safety and environmental regulations – their construction costs continue to rise. Doing projects today will almost always be less expensive overall than doing them in the future. Coupled with increasing demands for public services, many downloaded from higher levels of government the decisions as to what gets funded become even more critical to the sustainability of small municipalities. The simple fact is that if the City does not do them – they won’t get done. 

There are of course other creative ways of raising revenues and reducing expenses. Unique partnerships such as the agreement the City of Trail is pursuing with Teck which will bring $225,000.00 a year for 20 years (indexed for inflation) into the community for economic development. Projects like the replacement of our street lights to LED over the next ten years will save the City hundreds of thousands in operating costs over their lifetime. Grants, private investment partnerships and sales of renewable assets can also add to the available pool of resources. While these initiatives are creative and forward looking, the gains only amount to a small portion of the City’s annual operating budget and the funding sources are typically not constant. Strategic partnerships with other municipalities to share the costs of major services can also bring additional revenue. These agreements are increasingly more difficult to maintain, given the increasing costs of services and the leveraged affect this has on smaller governments with lesser tax bases.This brings us back to the subject of property taxes, which are the primary way your City’s operations are funded.

A mandate of renewal and growth is not inexpensive but the long term cost of stagnation is far greater, not only in monetary terms but it can also be measured in increased risk, dashed hopes of our citizenry and eroding community pride. Those tough decisions of course belong to the politicians and each year they get more difficult. Great ideas are inexpensive, funding them is not. What is required however is the political will to make tough decisions even when it is both unpopular and necessary to maintain a progressive and balanced approach. That is why I will be supporting and seeking a property tax increase this year of 3.25%. While I am by no means a believer in wanton tax and spend policies that cannot be linked to strategic objectives, I do believe wholeheartedly in community investment that can demonstrably add value to the lives of our citizens. I also believe this is a reasonable figure that allows for a growth and renewal focused agenda, while still keeping our rates in line with other area municipalities and still lower than most governments  our size across the province. The City of Trail must adopt its budget plan by May 15th. Once Council has finished our budget deliberations a public presentation will be made to advise the community of our plans. If you cannot attend the presentation, I encourage all citizens (at your convenience) to take the time to review the budget summary that will be posted on our recently renewed website after the presentation. Look at the priorities we have identified and let us know what you think. I look forward to your feedback in the weeks and months ahead.

Sincerely,

Kevin Jolly

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Lens ...




This year I will resist the urge to spend New Years Day by routinely recapping the events of 2013 and trying to make sense of them. Instead, I will focus on the big picture learning and takeaways from the past year. I believe it is fair to say that we experienced significant change in 2013, and with that change came some discomfort. More importantly though, I think we must ask ourselves,

"What did we learn from those changes that will allow us to view 2014 through a new lens."

First, I think we need to understand that change still happens even if we choose not to participate. If we stand still, the world around us will continue to evolve and the gap between our reality and everyone else will grow. Simply put, a strategy of trying to maintain the status-quo is actually a plan that ultimately leads to devolution, the very opposite of growth and prosperity.

The world around us is a vast topic limited only by what we choose to pay attention to.My own definition includes the people whose lives I can or do affect and visa-versa. Focusing most of our energy on our circle of influence versus our circle of concern is one of the core teachings of the late  Dr. Stephen Covey. The critical distinction being that our time and efforts should be focused on the situations and circumstances that we are able to influence, yet remaining mindful of those things that we cannot impact,but could still have an influence on our lives.

One of the biggest takeaways for me in 2013, is what I learned about the subject of effective communication. The key lesson being that it (effective communication) requires both clarity and repetition. Saying something once and assuming it was understood is a fool's errand. Telling one's story is a job that is never finished. In fact, effective communication is almost always an ongoing dialogue - not a monologue that stands in isolation. Listening to honest feedback and engaging with friends and critics alike can be daunting, but it is necessary if we wish to improve our outcomes and make progress. While this may sound like a self evident fact, I am not convinced that it is as common a practice as we would like to believe. Most of us believe that we are already effective communicators, but in truth - our human nature tends to err on the side of self delusion. In my view, the greatest source for honest self reflection can only come from thoughtfully considering the sincere feedback provided by our audience... our partners in the dialogue. While soliciting and taking heed of the gift of feedback is no simple task, it can provide us with the correct impetus for change, if we have the courage to listen. With the success of our public engagement booth in 2013 ,this is something I have committed to focus on even more in 2014 and we look forward to expanding it's use in the coming year.

Looking forward into the New Year, there are many projects and initiatives that the City of Trail will be embarking upon and completing. From the takeover of the Trail Airport, joint construction (with the RDKB) of a new pedestrian bridge, expansion of our municipal boundaries - to the completion of a second phase in the Downtown Improvement Project. All of this will be capped off with another municipal election in November and a referendum on a new Library/Museum project. All of these endeavours will require mutual cooperation, understanding and an open dialogue with the residents of Trail. I believe we are equal to the challenge and the continuation of this agenda of renewal is in the long term interests of all citizens living in the Lower Columbia Valley. A strong and prosperous Trail provides benefits and advantages to all of our surrounding communities that would be otherwise unobtainable. I am of the opinion that future generations will record this period of  growth in Trail's history as not just a time of change, but a turning point that was critical to the long term sustainability of our entire region.

Please join me in welcoming 2014, full of promise and hope for a better future, as we build it together.

Sincerely,

Kevin Jolly
Councillor