Category Archives: government

All things related to government

Rally For Shelter Nov 20, 2019

Grand Forks has no extreme weather shelter and winter is upon us.

People are worried that the homeless will likely face life threatening conditions because of this situation.

On Nov 20, 2019 a rally was held in Gyro Park to call attention to this and plea for the currently empty facility that had been the Women’s Transition House to be allowed to be used for this purpose this winter.

The facility being considered here is on the grounds attached to the Boundary Hospital. At one point it was a nurses’ residence I believe. I’m also given to understand that currently it is not being used.

Editorializing ahead

The Committee that has been meeting on this topic since the beginning of the summer (coincidentally around the time that the city forced the shut down of the Warming Centre) has zeroed in on this location as the next-to-best possible place for the shelter. The most popular choice around that table in mid august was the previous location, the former Greyhound Bus Depot, but the city’s actions on enforcing the zoning bylaw took that off the table.

I have to tell you that the opinion around the table was not unanimous – the representatives of the special interest Facebook group Citizens for a Better Grand Forks were not really interested in that option since they had successfully pushed council to shut that down.

This topic, using the for former Transition House, was brought to council’s attention during the Councillor Report of Councillor Thompson at the last meeting of council. The video below should start playing at the beginning of her report.

I would like to point out that the property in question is owned by Interior Health.
Interior Health is Not in the business of Housing – that is BC Housing’s area of responsibility.

BC Housing supported the previous Warming Centre and may provide support for an Extreme Weather Shelter once again if one is set up. I don’t know that for sure but that’s my guess.

Even though Interior Health does not provide housing their area of responsibility is the Health of the citizens in its catchment area. The health effects of exposure to the elements overnight during the winter can range from colds and pneumonia to frostbite and limb loss all the way to death.

I understand that it’s likely not a simple process in a bureaucracy as large as IH to make a quick decision like allowing the use of the facility for this purpose. I’m sure there are all kinds of little friction causing issues to slow the whole thing down. And that most of those are there to protect the organization (and by extension the taxpayers) from malpractice, inefficiency, corruption and duplication of services. But other than malpractice the rest are not concerned with health directly are they?

So I have to ask which of the dual roles of IH, Health and Bureaucratic Government Organization is the more important one?

Floodplain Mapping Presentation Nov 18, 2019

UPDATED Nov 20 – Added PDF of handout to end of article

As a result of the flood of 2018 a new set of floodplain maps needed to be created (the previous ones had been made in the early 90s). This is important for various reasons: Safety, Zoning Bylaws, City and Land Use Planning to name a few.

Previous mapping efforts employed the capabilities of the field at that time – and the results reflected that. New technologies such as LIDAR have improved the field significantly since then enabling a more precise data set. Coupled with advances in computer systems this has made the results of simulation modeling of water flow, and where it goes, much better.

Urban Systems has been a major participant in this process and on Monday Nov 18 two of their team, Senior Planner Joel Short and Professional Engineer Cameron Gatey, came out to present the results and discuss the ramifications to the town and its land-use-related laws.

In addition Recovery Manager Graham Watt, Mayor Taylor, some council members and city staff were present to help explain and answer questions.

About 50 people attended the event in the GFSS auditorium.

Nov 15 Demonstration on 2nd Street Bridge

On Nov 15, 2019 the property owners facing Buy-outs, as a result of the 2018 flood, held a demonstration on the bridge from downtown to their area, Ruckle. After the demo at the bridge they proceeded down to city hall where the Mayor and Recovery Manager met with them.

The Mayor talked with some of the demonstrators and then the Recovery Manager, Graham Watt, took over. They talked outside in front of the cenotaph for a half hour and then adjourned to the indoors where they could sit and be warm.

One of the concerns they express is the way they have been cast as ‘victims’ in all of this.
It is felt that victim sends the wrong message – one of people with their hands out looking for help from the rest of us.

They do not see themselves that way, rather they are property owners engaged in a negotiation with the City about real estate transactions.

That they are NOT asking for a hand-out but only that they be dealt with fairly and responsibly under the laws that govern this situation. Laws that have legal considerations on estimating what they should be paid for what they are giving up. Because they are giving up a lot so the rest of the city can be safer. And the choice to do that is out of their hands.

They have many concerns about the process, how it has gone (or not) so far and how it will progress.

Their lives are in a sort of limbo while they wait for forces outside their control to decide what will happen to them. As any mental health professional will tell you that is a recipe for problems.

I’ve got video of the demo on the bridge and the conversation outside. It was felt that the inside conversation should be kept within the group – they’re beginning to experience some negative responses from citizens not in the group facing buyouts.