Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Letter to the Editor, Idlewild Dam

Letter to the Editor
In light of the flooding disaster in Cache Creek last week, I‘m calling on the City to release the Urban Systems safety study on the Idlewild Dam and the letter from the Regional Dam Safety Officer to the City. I’ve read both documents and believe every Cranbrook resident should have access to them because they raise grave concerns. I say this in light of the fact that the safety officer said in her Jan. 27, 2015 letter to the City that only one of the 11 safety recommendations made in the Urban Systems’ report had been carried out by the City at that date and that the recommendations “must be implemented and cannot be continually deferred.” She also said the City should complete “high priority” items within a year such as investigating the geotechnical stability of the dam and making improvements to the dam’s spillway capacity. Has the City allocated money in the 2015 budget to do this or is the City just looking for grants to do these critical projects sometime in the future? Public safety is at stake here as well as liability for the City. The officer also pointed out in her Jan. 27 letter that the City had not submitted its Operation Maintenance and Surveillance manual for the dam and was therefore out of compliance with provincial legislation. Has this situation been rectified? Is the lake being drained “to protect the public” as Mayor Pratt said in the City’s Feb. 24, release. If that’s the case, is anything being done to save the fish, turtles, waterfowl and wildlife that depend on the lake habitat? How long are Cranbrook residents going to be deprived of this prime recreational asset? Did Council consider Urban System’s recommendation to “armour” the downstream face of the dam to increase its safety in the event of water spilling over the top? If this was done, the dam likely wouldn’t have to be “decommissioned” (removed) nor the lake drained and we wouldn’t be in this mess now. After beginning to drain the lake, the City asks for input. But how can the public provide informed input when it doesn’t know the facts because of a Council decision made behind closed doors? In conclusion, I believe the City has nothing to lose and much to gain by being more forthcoming with the public about the Idlewild Dam issue. After all, we all live downstream of this critical facility.
Gerry Warner

The editor notes:

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever”

Thanks for asking the questions Gerry.

What's Happening....

Friday May 29th and Saturday May 30th

Kootenay Dance Academy Year End Showcase
Key City Theatre
Adults $22:75, Students, $17:50, Child under 5 $12.25

Sunday May 31st

Great Lake Swimmers
with The Good 'Ol Goats and Weather Station
Key City Theatre
$30 and members $25

Smelling the roses and so much more

These excerpts are from a beautifully written piece by Wendall Berry about how farming has changed.

The great and characteristic problem of industrial agriculture is that it does not distinguish one place from another.

When people begin to replace stories from local memory with stories from television screens, another vital part of life is lost.

Within three paragraphs I have twice quoted farmers who used “walk” as an approving figure of speech: Grain leaving a farm hereabouts should walk off; and the rainwater fallen upon a farm should walk, not run. This is not merely a coincidence. The gait most congenial to agrarian thought and sensibility is walking. It is the gait best suited to paying attention, most conservative of land and equipment, and most permissive of stopping to look or think. Machines, companies, and politicians “run.” Farmers studying their fields travel at a walk.

The landscapes of our country are now virtually deserted. In the vast, relatively flat acreage of the Midwest now given over exclusively to the production of corn and soybeans, the number of farmers is lower than it has ever been. I don’t know what the average number of acres per farmer now is, but I do know that you often can drive for hours through those corn-and-bean deserts without seeing a human being beyond the road ditches, or any green plant other than corn and soybeans. Any people you may see at work, if you see any at work anywhere, almost certainly will be inside the temperature-controlled cabs of large tractors, the connection between the human organism and the soil organism perfectly interrupted by the machine. Thus we have transposed our culture, our cultural goal, of sedentary, indoor work to the fields. Some of the “field work,” unsurprisingly, is now done by airplanes.

Monday, May 25, 2015

City of Cranbrook 2014 Financial Statements

Corporation City of Cranbrook Financial Statements for 2014 in draft form can be found at:

and to see the complementary schedules of staff salaries and more financial information go to:

Council Meeting Tonight 6:00pm, Council Chambers, Open to the Public

The full agenda for the Council meeting of May 25th 2015, 6:00pm can be read at:

Please, Don't Fence Me In

The fence designed to keep people out at Idlewild can be seen to be a problem for turtles who need to get out.  Word has it, the problem is under discussion - let's hope it is resolved soon.

Wednesday May 27th
The fence has apparently been raised to allow for turtle movement.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Donate to Nepal and receive 'Heart of the Himalaya' by Pat and Baiba Morrow

IN LIGHT OF THE TRAGEDY THAT HAS STRUCK NEPAL AND THE PEOPLE OF THE HIMALAYA, Pat and Baiba Morrow (and Bungalo Books) have decided to make Heart of the Himalaya, their multimedia portrait of the Himalaya people, free to everyone until May 31st. We hope that our readers will donate $10 or more to one of the charities involved in the rescue effort. We recommend donations be made online to the Canadian Red Cross effort.
We are not sure what financial impact this offer will have for the relief cause but the gift will provide a small reward for people’s generosity — and give donors some insight into the Himalayan people they are helping. Thank you for your generosity.
Frank B. Edwards, Publisher

Heart of the Himalaya is a rich photo tribute to the people of the world’s highest mountain range by Pat and Baiba Morrow, two photojournalists who have travelled extensively through it for the past 33 years.

What's Happening...

Saturday May 23rd

Cranbrook Farmer's Market
10 - 1:00pm outside at the Ktunxa Gym

Sunday May 24th

Aspire Dance Recital
Key City Theatre
Key City Theatre

Sunday May 31st

Great Lake Swimmers
Good "ol Goats and The Weather Station
Key City Theatre
Tickets Key City Theatre

Frivolous Spending

Frivolous spending
Six months ago we had a city election where the candidates put forth their positions.  Many listed deplorable roads and the need to address our broken infrastructure.  A number were concerned with wildlife roaming city streets.  Wesly Graham wanted to look at the possibility of an overpass (Townsman, Aug. 29, 2014).  Lee Pratt said, “I’ve seen a lot of frivolous spending on unnecessary projects when our infrastructure, our roads, are just crumbling.”  (Townsman, Oct. 2, 2014)
Now the City sees potential opportunities to enhance and redevelop Idlewild Park. (Townsman, May 8, 2015).  The public input deadline is May 25—a whopping 17 days.  What’s behind the rush?
The City “sees opportunities to enhance and redevelop Idlewild Lake.”  Where did these spending opportunities come from?  Is this a round-about way to more frivolous spending by City Hall?
Idlewild Lake was not an issue for any candidate during the recent city election, and I haven’t heard of people in the streets marching for “enhancement and redevelopment” of Idlewild.  The City’s suggestion that we turn Idlewild into an off-leash dog park or that we add a beach area—requiring endless truckloads of sand—is unwarranted.  Idlewild is a gem the way it is; and if we need more frivolous spending, do it elsewhere—and not on other Cranbrook jewels, Elizabeth Lake and the Community Forest.
The Conservative government is scattering $150 million all across Canada for park enhancement and development.  The deadline for applications is June 27, so announcement and photo ops can occur on the eve of the October federal election.
The City Council needs to realize that chasing federal grants skews the mission and goals of the City, and it ties the City to future maintenance costs forever. 

William G.Hills
Cranbrook, BC


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Blast from the Past

Chamber Dreamed Big.
Sam Wormington was a well-known figure in the area and he eventually moved south to manage Schweitzer Ski Hill near Sandpoint.

Cranbrook Courier October 17th 1962
click to enlarge

Portraiture of Cranbrook's Historic Figures

The Sam Steele Society and the Cranbrook and District Arts Council are sponsoring the first Historic Figure Portrait Contest for Sam Steele Days 2015. We would like  you to use your talents to produce an original portrait of one of the local historic figures from the nineteenth century. It could be Sam Steele or Kootenay Brown or Chief Isadore or any of the other famous people who helped to develop our area.

Pick your favourite character from the rich history of the Kootenays and illustrate him or her in the visual medium of your choice. 
There will be prizes offered for the best portraits in four categories: 
Junior, Secondary, College and Adult.

Entry forms will be available at the CDAC office located at: 135 - 10th Avenue South.  Entries close and should be brought in to the Arts Council on Friday June 12th at 5pm. There will be a display of entries in the CDAC gallery during the week of Sam Steele Days (June 16th – 19th) and then in Rotary Park on Saturday, June 20th.

Elementary school pupils can be involved, too. There will be T-shirt painting on a Sam Steele theme in Rotary Park on Saturday June 20th starting at noon. Kids can apply at the CDAC booth for a free T-shirt and spend part of their morning doing their best illustration of Sam Steele on their own shirt. There will be a limit on entries depending on the time and number of shirts available. So sign up early!

Marisa Phillips
CDAC Administrator

Cranbrook & District Arts Council
P0 Box 861, Cranbrook, BC V1C 4J6
Tel: (250) 426-4223

Fire Restrictions in Effect

Effective at 1pm MDT this Friday, Category 2 and 3 Open Fires will be prohibited in the Southeast Fire Centre.

This does NOT apply to campfires that are a half-metre high by a half-metre wide or smaller, and it does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes. 

The activities that WILL BE prohibited include:
·         the burning of any waste, slash or other materials.
·         stubble or grass fires of any size over any area.
·         the use of fireworks, sky lanterns or burning barrels or cages of any size or description.
·         the use of binary exploding targets (e.g., for rifle target practice).
·         the use of air curtain burners (forced air burning systems).

This prohibition covers the RDEK (including all 6 of our Electoral Areas), all BC Parks, Crown lands and private lands, but does not apply within the boundaries of municipalities that have forest fire prevention bylaws and are serviced by a fire department.

I’ve attached the news release and a poster from the Southeast Fire Centre that provides an overview of the different categories of fires.

It is extremely dry out there this year. Even though campfires are still permitted, please make sure you keep them small and ensure they are fully extinguished (cool to the touch) before leaving them.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Running From Office

TIME speaks with Jennifer Lawless, whose research on young Americans' political ambition is revealed in a new book
 Political science professors Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox asked more than 4,000 high school and college students if they would be interested in running for political office in America someday: 89% of them said “no.”
That finding is the crux of a new book based on their original research, Running From Office. In it, the authors argue that the dysfunction of Washington has turned the next generation off politics in historic fashion. Unless behaviors change, American University’s Lawless says, the country’s brightest stars are going to pursue just about anything but one of the 500,000 elected offices America needs filled each year.
Here is a lightly edited transcript of TIME’s interview with Lawless, in which she explains who’s to blame, what’s to be done and why she earnestly believes parents should be convincing their kids to become politicians.
It’s an old, old thing to lament the youth’s lack of interest in politics and a rancorous political climate. What is happening here that is new?
There are two dynamics. The first is that lamenting young people’s engagement has previously always stopped at their interest or their participation. [Researchers have] never actually considered whether they’re interested in running for office. The other is the young people that we’ve surveyed, who are high school and college students now, have grown up only amid the dysfunction that currently characterizes the political system. They have known nothing else. And this is really the first generation where that’s the case.
But is this a historic brand of dysfunction?
We know that polarization is stronger now than it’s been and it’s continued to increase. We know that effectiveness—if we measure that in legislative productivity—has been lower in the last several Congresses. And look at some of the high-profile examples of dysfunction that we’re not accustomed to seeing. The government shutdown is the most obvious one. Debates over raising the debt ceiling. The U.S. having its credit rating decreased. The constant worry over the course of the last year that there might be another government shutdown. That’s new to this generation. We saw dysfunction but not at the same level in the 1980s and 1990s.
For the whole article go to the link above.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Touchstones Nelson wins national award for ‘innovative, brave’ exhibit

Touchstones Nelson wins national award for ‘innovative, brave’ exhibit

Touchstones Nelson has just won a prestigious national award for an exhibition that has not yet been shown in Nelson.

‘Roll on Columbia,’ a multi-format exhibit about the Columbia River Treaty was shown for three days at a conference in Spokane last fall, and will be mounted in Nelson in the fall of 2015.

The Canadian Museums Association (CMA) has given Roll on Columbia its 2014 award for Outstanding Achievement in Exhibitions, in its category for museums with an annual budget of less than $1 million.

Touchstones’ executive director Leah Best initiated and oversaw the project and enlisted two local guest curators, writer Eileen Delahanty Pearkes and visual artist Deb Thompson

Monday, May 18, 2015

Warner's Corner

City should make Idlewild Dam report public
Perceptions by Gerry Warner
This week, thanks to a request I made to City staff, I obtained copies of the Idlewild Dam Breach Inundation Study prepared by Urban Systems for the City as well as a letter to the City from Sarah Crookshanks, senior regional dam safety officer.
 I commend City staff for making these documents available to me because they are critical in understanding the work the City is carrying out now on Idlewild Dam which could result in the dam being in a reduced state of operations for two years or more and Idlewild Lake being lowered and possibly completely drained for the same period of time.

This, of course, would be a major loss of one of the City’s prize recreational assets for more than 50 years, a decision not to be made lightly. Were there other options? Unfortunately, we’ll never know because City Council chose to make the decision secretly in camera and not let Cranbrook residents and taxpayers in on the discussion.
Perhaps there was a good reason for councillors to have their initial discussion in camera until they understood all the implications of the engineering study and the safety officer’s letter. That way they could have prepared themselves for an informed discussion in public and a public vote. That’s good governance. Council could also have recommended both documents be made available to the public at City Hall so that taxpayers and residents could examine the documents themselves and raise questions they had at a future council meeting.
Instead of doing this, the City issued a press release saying Council made its in camera decision based on the “findings and recommendations” of the engineering study, but did not say what those findings and recommendations were. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to read the engineering report, I can tell you that one of its recommendations was for “information to be shared with the general public.”

So much for accountable municipal government!  

Anyway, I’m no engineer, but I am a journalist with more than 30 years experience informing the public of what their politicians are doing – and not doing in many cases – and I’d like to inform you now of some of the key information I found in the documents.

The dam has a concrete, internal spillway without the capacity to handle the maximum flood possible referred to as an inflow design flood (IDF). This could lead to water spilling over the crest of the dam and eroding the downstream face of the structure leading to a complete dam failure and significant flooding in the city and possible loss of life. The report goes on to say: “The City should consider either increasing the spillway capacity to accommodate the IDF or armouring the downstream face of the dam to prevent erosion of the downstream embankment in the event that the dam is overtopped.” This would reduce the Dam Consequence Classification currently rated as “high” and “significantly reduce the probability of a dam breach due to overtopping,” the report says.

Whew! Do you really think this information shouldn’t be shared with you who live downstream of the Idlewild Dam? Are you satisfied with the dam danger being “significantly reduced” or should the whole damn dam be replaced?” Would it not be possible to simply increase the height of the dam and reduce the danger completely? Could an emergency ditch be constructed around the dam to reduce the flood danger like the diversion ditch the City constructed around the Phillips Reservoir? What are the cost numbers? Were other options considered? How long will we be without a lake?

These are only a few of the questions that occur to me and they may not even involve lowering the lake. I’m sure Cranbrook residents, being the intelligent people they are, could think of many more. Too bad Council doesn’t trust us to think for ourselves.
Given this, like me, make a modest suggestion. I suggest Cranbrook Council call a public meeting to receive input on whether the City should proceed on its current course regarding Idlewild Dam.

In my opinion, it’s the least Council should do. 

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and former councillor.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Walk in the Wigwam




Larkspur and Death Camas

Homestead Lilac

Homestead cookstove


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mayor Pratt, Please Reconsider

Please Mayor Pratt and some of Council, reconsider your decision on the Fire Hall.  It really does belong to the public.

TRURO, N.S. - The federal government is making $150 million available to renovate and expand public buildings that provide community and cultural benefits.
The Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Fund promoted Friday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Truro, N.S., is expected to help 1,800 projects through federal regional economic development agencies.
Projects that get funding will be completed by the end of the 2017 construction season for the 150th celebration of Confederation.
Buildings that are eligible include community centres, Royal Canadian Legion branches, museums and recreational facilities. Applications for funding can be made by local organizations, municipalities and non-profit groups.

"Curling rinks, arenas, walking trails and bike routes, theatres and community halls in small towns and big cities alike, these are places where people come together," Harper said at recreational centre. "They are literally the beating hearts of the communities we live in."

Go on, Laugh

Friday, May 15, 2015

What's Happening....


Cranbrook Public Library Display
Celebrating VE Day

Cranbrook and District Arts Council
Youth Art Exhibit 
continues until the end of the month

Saturday May 16th

Cellar Notes
Jeff Faragher and Alex Nichol
Knox Presbyterian Church
Entry by donation

Thursday May 21st

La Cafamore
Angela Snyder, Alexis Moore, Carolyn Cameron
Knox Presbyterian Church
Tickets $15 and $12 at Key City Theatre

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What’s behind the New Democratic Party’s surprise win in Alberta?

A perspective from Jacobin:

Alberta’s Orange CrushWhat’s behind the New Democratic Party’s surprise win in Alberta?

The New Democratic Party’s (NDP) surprise landslide victory in last week’s provincial elections in Alberta sent a shockwave through Canadian politics. With over 40 percent of the vote and an outright majority in the provincial legislature, the NDP has broken the Conservative Party’s decades-long dominance of Alberta politics and lifted hopes that Stephen Harper, Canada’s right-wing prime minister, might be ousted in this fall’s federal elections.

The NDP’s victory in the heartland of Canadian conservatism is cause for celebration. However, there is little indication that the party’s success at the polls marks a fundamental shift to the left in provincial or federal politics. Alberta remains a deeply conservative province dominated by powerful oil and gas companies, and the NDP’s neoliberal record in other provinces raises questions about its willingness to follow through on its election platform’s progressive demands.

The NDP was formed in 1961, as a project by the Canadian Labour Congress and a political party called the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). The CCF was the country’s premier social-democratic party, founded in 1932, in Alberta of all places. It championed many of the social welfare reforms associated with that movement, and although it never was elected federally, the CCF government of Saskatchewan, elected in 1944 under the leadership of Tommy Douglas, initiated North America’s first public Medicare program.
The CCF, unfortunately, engaged in red-baiting during the Cold War, and with the mainstream Liberal Party co-opting many of its traditional demands, it ran out of gas by the late 1950s. Also, the party was never successful in developing deep roots in the labor movement. A project to create a new party (partly to move it more to the political center at the time), with the active participation of the Canadian Labour Congress was begun and resulted in the creation of the New Democratic Party. Its first leader (1961–1971) was the celebrated Douglas.

Western Painted Turtle Day

An informational celebration of Elizabeth Lake's turtles and all area Western Painted Turtles was held on Tuesday May 12, with local naturalists in attendance for interpretation of the turtles' life cycle.  Unfortunately the high water at Elizabeth Lake over the last summer took a toll the turtle's nesting grounds and many babies did not survive as the young drowned while hatching. Further, the lack of areas for the turtles to lay their eggs resulted in many  eggs being laid in strange places such a driveways of local properties. Western Painted turtles are considered a species at risk. There is hope for some recovery of the turtle community this year at the Elizabeth Lake.

The following photos by Stewart Wilson of more Western Painted Turtles were taken at Campbell Lake just north of Fort Steele.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Kick-Off of Resort Municipality Initiative Project in Golden

Monday, May 11, 2015
Kick-Off of Resort Municipality Initiative Project in Golden
By Town of Golden
GOLDEN - The Town of Golden is pleased to announce the official construction start of the community’s largest Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) project to date, the Highway 1 Corridor Enhancement.

Valued at over $500,000 in this initial phase, the project includes significant landscaping improvements to the Highway 1 public boulevards adjacent to Boston Pizza on the east and Tim Horton’s on the west, with substantial completion anticipated by early July.

“This project represents the essence of what the RMI program is about for us”, said Mayor Ron Oszust. “It provides us the ability to fund improvements in our community that the destination traveler has come to expect and we could otherwise never afford.”

Administered jointly between town staff and its retained engineering consultant MMM Group, the construction is under the competent management of Sierra Landscaping based in the Lake Country area of the Okanagan, which intends to include some local hires on the job.

“We had a fantastic visioning and participation session with tourism sector businesses in the area for this project”, said Jon Wilsgard, Chief Administrative Officer for the town. “It’s a year behind because we needed to ensure we received value for money, and it’s great to finally be at this point.”

“This is one of those great projects where everyone is excited to see it happen”, said Joanne Sweeting, Marketing Manager for Tourism Golden and member of the RMI Advisory Committee. “This project will provide wonderful aesthetic improvement to the entry points of our highway corridor area, giving tourists a great initial impression of our community.”

The Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funding program is managed by the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and intended to assist small, tourism-based municipalities to support and increase visitation.

Since these municipalities typically have a small tax base due to their size, the demands of their tourism activity often strain the resources available to provide infrastructure and event programming. RMI funding allows these communities to dedicate resources to improving tourism-based infrastructure and amenities to attract more visitors and encourage longer stays.

Monday, May 11, 2015

BC Climate Change Progress Stalled, Critics Say, Tyee

BC Climate Change Progress Stalled, Critics Say

'We know we need to do more,' says environment minister.
By Andrew MacLeod, Today,

Lately, Premier Christy Clark has been bragging about British Columbia's record fighting climate change, but observers say that pride is misplaced.
"They're talking a lot about being a world leader in climate action," said Jens Wieting, a campaigner with the Sierra Club of BC. That's misleading considering the province's recent record on carbon emissions, he said. "We are currently moving in the wrong direction."
A B.C. government press release dated April 13 trumpeted the "world-leading standard B.C. has set for climate action" and challenged other jurisdictions to meet or beat the province's standard. It noted Clark was set to speak to meetings of the World Bank-International Monetary Fund on April 17 about the B.C. carbon tax, "which sets a powerful example for the world."

But as the Sierra Club's Wieting points out, the hot air from Clark and the B.C. government comes as the province's climate change record has slipped.
While B.C. claimed to have met its interim target of a six per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2007 levels in 2012, a year later they had gone back up by 2.4 per cent to 63 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, Wieting said. He cited recently released figures from the National Inventory of greenhouse gas sources and sinks.
"We can't afford to move in the wrong direction and see our emissions increasing," he said. "The science is clear we're running out of time."

Council Meeting for May 11th 2015, 6:00pm

The complete agenda for the Council meeting can be found at:

Friday, May 8, 2015

Gordon Terrace School Celebrates Art, Mother's Day and raises funds for Nepal

The Annual Gordon Terrace Art Show was held on Thursday May 7th and the sale of jewelry, flowers and hand made gifts raised over a $1000 for Nepal.  The day celebrated poetry, music and dancing as well as the visual arts including some work of the staff.  The school in Nepal,  built with funds raised by Gordon Terrace students, is currently housing families who have lost their homes due to the earthquake.

What's Happening...

Thursday May 7-10

Mt Baker School presents
The Drowsy Chaparone
a Musical
Key City Theatre

Saturday May 9th

Cranbrook Farmer's Market
10:00am - 1:00pm
Ktunaxa Gym

Children's Festival
10:00am - 4:00pm
Mt Baker Secondary School

Cranbrook Go Go Grannies
Glitz and Glamour Luncheon
Heritage Inn
Tickets $25 Lotus Books

Quilt Show
Alliance Church

Cranbrook and District Arts Council Gallery
Tanya Lipscomb and Maddi Keiver

Sunday May 10th

Fort Steele Mother's Day Tea & Fashion Show
Treat your Mother or that Special Lady to a wonderful day at Fort Steele Heritage Town.
Fine Loose Leaf Teas, Tasty Delights, Vintage Fashion Show,  Etiquette Lessons, & More!
Reservations are required.
Please call for more information ~ 250-417-6000
Location: Fort Steele Heritage Town, Coventry Opera House

Tuesday May 12

North Star Rails to Trails Society meeting
Heritage Inn

Thursday May 14th
Art Reception
Cranbrook and District Arts Council
Youth Arts Exhibit
7;00 -9:00pm
Cash Awards will be presented.

Telling the Truth is Dangerous in Alberta

Telling the truth is dangerous in Alberta
Perceptions by Gerry Warner
Catastrophic defeats like the one that toppled the Progressive Conservative Kingdom of Alberta Tuesday happen for a reason and that reason is often a careless statement made in the heat of the campaign.
Just ask former Alberta Premier Jim Prentice.
Prentice, who resigned both his leadership of the PC Party and his seat before the votes were fully counted, was careless with his words when he told Albertans during a CBC phone-in show March 5 to “look in the mirror” if they wanted to know who was to blame for the province’s fiscal plight. And it didn’t help he was telling the truth.
Albertans, after all, have been on the prosperity wagon for quite a run – at least 20 years – thanks to all those petro-dollars gushing out of the ground and 20 years should have been ample time to put something away for the proverbial rainy day when oil prices crashed and the gusher turned into a financial trickle. It wasn’t always this way. Under the astute leadership of former Premier Peter Lougheed, the Alberta Heritage Fund was set up as a kind of an insurance policy to protect Albertans when oil prices dipped as they inevitably do. But somehow or the other the Heritage Fund got frittered away and when the storm struck Albertans were left without an umbrella. So when Prentice, who spent most of his political career in hated Ottawa, told Albertans what they didn’t want to hear they got hot under the collar and let him know at the ballot box.
Prentices’ comments, sincere and as truthful as they may have been, were quickly dubbed “Blame-gate” and the Twitter universe went wild with thousands calling for him to apologize, including Wild Rose house leader Shayne Saskiw, who  called Prentice “elitist, arrogant and out-of-touch with the rest of Albertans.” Ouch! NDP leader, now Premier-elect, Rachel Notley also called on Prentice to resign after he tried to make a joke out of the incident, saying he’d suddenly developed an aversion to mirrors. But Prentice, perhaps displaying the arrogance his critics accused him of, refused to resign and only dug himself in deeper by calling the incident a “Twitter tempest.” Then when he released his budget, taxes and fees went up for everyone, but not for corporations. Obviously, Albertans got the message and on Tuesday they threw Prentice and his Progressive Conservatives out after 44 years of uninterrupted power in one of the greatest political upsets in Canadian history.
Oh, but it has happened before and I remember it well during the 1972 BC election  when the Social Credit dynasty of W.A.C. (Wacky) Bennett was rudely thrown into the dumpster after 20 years of uninterrupted power in Victoria. And what was the careless statement that time that lead to political perdition? It was uttered by one of the most colorful and controversial politicians in BC political history – “Flying Phil Gaglardi” – who said, as only Phil could, "If I'm lying, it's only because I'm telling the truth." Actually Phil dropped a few more gems like that when he referred to the stench caused by pulp mills as “the smell of money” in the air and long before junk bond king Ivan Boesky was on the scene Gaglardi spoke of the virtue of “greed” to succeed in business.
It’s a rare politician that can make inflammatory statements and get away with it. Ralph Klein could when he berated men in a homeless shelter for being homeless. Pierre Trudeau in his immortal “just watch me” before he imposed the War Measures Act and Bill Vander Zalm telling unemployed young men to “pick up a shovel.”
It worked for them, but it didn’t for Jim Prentice, who found out the hard way that the truth really hurts.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and a former politician, who has made a few inflammatory statements of his own over time.

Compost Workshop

You are here
Mother's Day Compost Workshop with Mike Dorian of Living Soils Solutions

With spring in full swing and summer fast approaching, this is the time to get your hands dirty in a rich, nutrient-filled compost pile! Join Wildsight as we welcome Mike Dorian of Living Soils Solutions for this afternoon workshop based in the Cranbrook Public Produce Garden. Come out and enjoy a great Mother’s Day activity for all levels from novice to seasoned expert and every point in between. There is always something new to learn about the composting process and how it benefits our plants, air, and soil. Mike Dorion will touch on areas such as backyard composting tips and tricks, compost tea, and vermiculture. We encourage you to bring a shareable snack to enhance the feeling of community among each other on a special day.

Mother's Day Compost Workshop with Mike Dorian of Living Soils Solutions
Sunday May 10th 2015 from 12pm - 4pm
Cranbrook Public Produce Garden
Composting has numerous benefits including:
  • creating nutrient-rich soil that increases its water holding capacity
  • acts as an organic fertilizer
  • keeps organic material out of landfills, reducing greenhouse gases
  • is a sustainable, renewable resource
  • improves soil structure
“Our business is about stepping away from the modern conventional ways of gardening and bringing traditional solutions and methods back to the mainstream.  There is much more life going on under our feet than we can even imagine, and that is what we reclaim in your soil - Natural Living Nutrients. By using high quality composts and vermicomposts, we are able to provide a large diversity of microbiology back into the soil food web and bring a state of natural balance to your backyard or back forty.  We strive to educate on the importance of the life factor that belongs in all soil.”  Mike Dorion, Living Soil Solutions.
“I enjoy working with people who appreciate and want to be educated on natural options to enhance their soil and plant life. This is where Living Soil Solutions likes to pass on those skills and share that knowledge with our clients. A sense of ease can be found when one understands the results that can be achieved in a way that is healthier all around. This is when conversation starts and people can be brought together on common ground.”  Mike Dorion, Living Soil Solutions.
May 10th, 2015 12:00 PM   through   4:00 PM
Cranbrook Public Produce Garden
18th Ave North between 6th and 8th Street
Cranbrook, BC


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Calypso Time

It is Calypso Orchid time.
These delicate beauties live symbiotically with specific, soil mycorrhizal fungi.  Calypso orchids are also known as Fairy Slipper or Venus Slipper orchids.  They are so sensitive to disturbance that just picking a flower will likely kill the plant.  They cannot be transplanted and they are classified as endangered in many areas of North America. 
Calypso orchids are in flower now in their favoured woodland environments.  

Friday, May 1, 2015

Council ignoring democracy in favour of in camera decsions

Council ignoring democracy in favour of in camera decisions
Perceptions by Gerry Warner
Our City Council, elected only a few months ago, has developed a bad habit – an in camera habit – that leaves the public in the dark when important or controversial decisions are to be made and democracy goes out the window.
This was the case in February when council decided in camera to decommission the Idlewild Dam and inform the public by press release why they made the decision. Except they didn’t do that. The release said the decision was based on findings and recommendations” of the Dam Breach Inundation Study, but those findings and recommendations don’t appear anywhere in the release!   
So what’s this? Government by press release? Surely the public deserves to know what the “findings and recommendations were? Do they justify tearing down the dam and draining Idlewild Lake – the main attraction of the park – for an unknown length of time? Maybe they do. But the public will never know because they weren’t let in on the decision. Does this council not trust the public to think for itself?
At a recent Sunrise Rotary meeting, I asked Mayor Lee Pratt if the Dam Breach Inundation Study was going to be made public. He didn’t give me a direct answer, but said the “highlights” of the study were in the press release. Read it yourself. It’s on the City’s web page. But the “findings and recommendations” aren’t thereAll that appears are some fear-mongering comments about what might happen if the dam is breached which hasn’t occurred since the dam was built more than 80 years ago. Maybe the dam should be replaced on the basis of age alone. But we don’t know that because council made the decision in camera and didn’t bother to tell us the reasons.
That’s no way to run the farm! It’s also possible that the dam and it’s concrete core is still secure and the public doesn’t deserve to be deprived of Idlewild Lake for up to two years as Mayor Pratt said at the Rotary meeting. Draining the lake could also be fatal for the blue-listed, Western Painted Turtles that live in it and will be left without a home. Did council take that into consideration when they made their in camera decision?  We’ll never know, but I’m thinking of making a Freedom of Information application to find out. Stay tuned.

Fast forward to the present and we have the simmering controversy over the City’s repurposing of its unused, heritage fire hall. For the record, I would like to see the ornate, old building repurposed as an art gallery if that’s feasible, but that’s not the issue here. Once again the issue is the process by which the City made this difficult decision. And you know the rest. It was made in camera by a council that lacks the courage and integrity to discuss controversial issues in public and instead chooses to hide behind closed doors and hand out another lame press release at the end of a council meeting to cover its tracks.
So what’s the purpose of City Hall? Is it a chamber where the public’s business is done in public? Ois it medieval star chamber where the public is only fed what Mayor and Council want them to know? The Community Charter, which governs the actions of all city councils in the province, lists several clear reasons for holding meetings in camera. The fact that a decision is difficult or controversial is not among them.
I, therefore, lay down a challenge to this council. At a recent meeting of theColumbia Basin Trust’s Community Initiatives Committee, one City councillor recused himself from the meeting when a funding application was made by the Cranbrook District Arts Council to repurpose the fire hall, which indicates a potential conflict of interest. Did that councillor recuse himself again when council made its in camera decision to sell the fire hall to the private sector instead of retaining it for repurposing.
The public deserves to know.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and former Cranbrook City councillor.