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.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Does the NDP have a death wish or are they just more principled than the rest of us? Gerry Warner

Does the NDP have a death wish or are they just more principled than the rest of us?
“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner
You gotta hand it to the NDP! When it comes to the art of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, no other political party can touch them. What better proof of that could there be than the last BC election?
And now they’ve done it again.
Look no further than the riding of Columbia River – Revelstoke. If ever there should be a safe seat for BC’s socialists, it’s that one. The highly respected teacher and former mayor of Golden, Norm Macdonald, won it three times beginning in 2005 and with majorities of more than 50 percent in every victory, an outstanding record indeed.
Known to everyone simply as “Norm,” Macdonald taught school in Africa before becoming principal of a small elementary school near Golden. He served one term as mayor of Golden and held several cabinet critic portfolios for the NDP in the legislature and was a cinch to become a full-fledged cabinet minister in 2013 if once again the NDP hadn’t fallen on its sword and lost the election. As a result, it’s hard to imagine a safer seat for the NDP in the 2017 election considering the legacy Macdonald left for his successor. Not only this, there were two strong candidates vying to succeed Macdonald, one the current mayor of Invermere and the other a former city councillor.
Then all hell broke loose.
The BC NDP, you see, has something called an “Equity Seeking Policy” that few people are aware of outside the party. According to the policy, when a male NDP incumbent steps down, is defeated or retires as was the case with Macdonald they are to be replaced by a candidate that belongs to an identifiable equity-seeking group such as women, First Nations or a LGBDT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, disabled, or trans-gendered) group. (My apologies if I left any equity-seeking groups out such as redheads.)
The policy appears well-intentioned, but between the policy itself and its execution, there’s an awful lot of room for things to go sideways as, indeed, was the case when the NDP got around to picking Macdonald’s successor for the hitherto safe NDP riding of Columbia River-Revelstoke.
There were two candidates in the race; Spring Hawes, a popular two-term councillor, who met the NDP equity-seeking diktat on two grounds, being female and disabled. The other candidate was current, three-term Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft, who first became a city councillor at the tender age of 20 and has a female partner and a young son, as perfectly normal as things could be for an ambitious, young politician. A nomination meeting was held two weekends ago and Taft won handily, which should have been the end of the story except for one small detail understandably raised by Hawes and her supporters – how did Taft meet the NDP’s rigid equity mandate for new candidates?
How indeed!
Well, it appears that prior to the nomination vote Taft disclosed to the NDP’s Equity Search Committee that he was a bisexual – no, I’m not making this up – and asked that his equity-seeking status remain confidential. However, in the uproar that followed the nomination vote, Taft felt he owed NDP members  – not to mention the general public – an explanation so he issued a statement announcing he was a member of a discriminated against group, namely bisexuals.
That’s when the poop really hit the fan.
The obvious question in the minds of many in the aftermath of Taft’s startling revelation is not hard to figure out. Is the Invermere mayor a for-real, genuine, hitting from both sides of the plate bisexual or is he a bisexual of convenience in order to gain candidate nomination status with the oh so socially conscious NDP?
That one dear reader I’ll leave to you. But this much I know. The hitherto “safe” NDP seat of Columbia River-Revelstoke is now “in play” and may not be safe at all. But that’s hardly a big deal for the BC NDP because they’ve been there many times before.
After all, the BC NDP has always been a party that puts principle ahead of being elected.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who has principles, but has no wish to legislate them. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Letter in response to Daily Townsman article re AAP:

Letter in response to Daily Townsman article re AAP:

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

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

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

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

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

Do we need the roads done in two years, when they can be done in five at the current rate of taxation?  The 1% dedicated road improvement tax, implemented many years ago, has been used by every sitting Council since.  To say that the previous Council “did nothing about the infrastructure and that's part of the problem of what we have today” is incorrect and spiteful.

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

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

Standing for democracy,

Sharon Cross

Thursday, October 20, 2016



OTTAWA – NDP MP Wayne Stetski (Kootenay – Columbia) has successfully lobbied the federal government to introduce regulations to keep high-powered motorized boats off the main channel of the Columbia River.

“The need for this kind of protection has been discussed in the Columbia Valley for more than a decade, and I promised voters to get results from the federal government,” Stetski said. “I am proud to have been part of today’s resolution.”

In February, Stetski wrote to the Minister responsible and urged him to restart the regulation process to restrict high-powered boats beyond 20-horsepower in the main channel of the Columbia River. In the spring Transport Canada published the proposed regulation and on Wednesday it officially came into force.

“The Columbia River is a world-renowned ecosystem that supports thousands of birds, fish, and other species,” Stetski said. “These regulations will help to mitigate degradation of the river’s habitat and the negative impacts that high speed boats can have on wildlife.”

The regulations will not impact motorized use of Columbia Lake or Lake Windermere.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Stetski calls for Federal Leadership on Housing Issues on World Homeless Day

Stetski calls for Federal Leadership on Housing Issues on World Homeless Day

Cranbrook – On World Homeless Day, October 10, Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski is calling on the federal government to recognize the right to housing in Canada and to take concrete measures to remove barriers to the full realization of this right. 

“Challenges related to accessing housing are very real in communities across Kootenay-Columbia,” said Stetski. It’s unacceptable in a country as wealthy as ours that an increasing number of Canadians are experiencing a housing crisis. Many First Nations are living in third world conditions and homelessness continues to rise.”

In 1976 Canada ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, recognizing the right to adequate housing, but this right is still not officially recognized in Canadian law.

In March 2016, Canada was reprimanded by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for its failure to meet housing needs. The Committee was particularly concerned about the lack of a housing strategy, sufficient funding and social housing.
“Earlier this year, my NDP colleague Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet tabled two bills in the House of Commons to include the right to housing in the Canadian Bill of Rights and implementing a national strategy for secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing, as well as a motion to maintain federal funding for social housing,” said Stetski.   “The Liberals have since begun consultations to finally establish a housing strategy and I am hopeful they’ll seize this opportunity to recognize the right to housing and put in place the measures necessary for its full realization.  Support for the people and our communities struggling with housing cannot come soon enough.”

For more information, please contact:
Laura Branswell – 250-417-2250

Et tu, Brutus says Segarty and who can blame him? by Gerry Warner

Et tu, Brutus says Segarty and who can blame him?
Perceptions by Gerry Warner
A Shakespeare character famously said in Hamlet, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” I’m sure if the Bard was alive today he would be saying something is rotten in the Liberal Party of BC and that rottenness is being manifested in Cranbrook.
Terry Segarty, one of our best-known citizens and respected member of the business community has been cruelly denied the opportunity to be a Liberal candidate in the May 2017 election in what can only be seen as a brazen act of political injustice perpetrated by a person or persons unknown.
Some things we do know. Officially the dirty deed was done by the Candidate Approval Subcommittee (CAS) of the Liberal Party of BC, a faceless group of anonymous lawyers, which cruelly stabbed Segarty in the back by denying him candidate status without a reason. In fact, they didn’t even have the backbone to tell Segarty to his face about their vile act. Instead, it was done by phone from a “very apologetic” party official, says Segarty, a former Cranbrook MLA and cabinet member of the former Social Credit Party, the predecessor party to the party now throwing him to the wolves.
In a column, last week, respected Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer says Segarty told him by phone he initially paid MLA Bill Bennett a courtesy call to let him know he would seek the Liberal  nomination.  Bennett expressed reservations about Segarty’s age (69) and health and said the party was seeking candidates of high moral character and noted the Top Hat affair of 1985. However Bennett also told Palmer “I accept that he (Segarty) wasn’t involved” and only mentioned it to him out of concern that re-airing it might embarrass Segarty’s family.  
Despite this, Segarty said in a letter to Bennett he didn’t buy his explanation “I left your office totally offended with your comments and absolutely certain that you had every intention to thwart my attempt to seek the Liberal nomination. Shame on you.”
Shame, indeed!  But was Segarty correct in blaming Bennett?
In his column, Palmer said he put the same question to Bennett and the soon-to-retire politician replied: “Personally, I have zero reservations about Terry Segarty running for us . . . He’s a good community person, a solid citizen, a caring individual.” Bennett also said he had “nothing” to do with the candidate selection process, but the fact remains that somebody or some member of the Liberal Star Chamber committee did Segarty in and doesn’t have the decency or integrity to acknowledge it, In doing so, that individual or individuals  have cast an ugly slur against the entire Cranbrook community. If Terry Segarty can’t make the Liberal “fit to run for office list” then who in this town can?
And when you think about it, there’s hardly been a peep out of the local Liberal party establishment questioning the party’s disturbing silence. But there’s been lots in the media by concerned Cranbrook residents, not afraid to go on record with their disgust. “Shame on them,” says Gerald Hudson in the Townsman. Also in the Townsman’s digital edition, Carole Haberman says she’s “shocked and so disappointed.” Jonathon Eaton says “Awful . . . I believe Terry Segarty is a (man) with exceptional moral fiber.” And Bill Baerg adds “terrible news.” In the Vancouver Sun, Sharron Billey says “Terry Segarty is an amazing individual.”
So now it’s up to the court of public opinion on who you want to believe, but for what it’s worth I think it’s far more likely that the villains or villain in this piece live in Cranbrook rather than Vancouver where Segarty is little known, if known at all.
This is one of the nastiest pieces of political skullduggery to hit our town in a long time and it’s a shame that no one is willing to fess up.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist who has seen a lot of political skullduggery in his time.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Nature's Gold

It's nature's way and it is beautiful.  The leaves fall, blanketing the ground, replenishing nutrients to the ever evolving life we take for granted, that below the surface; the ecosystem that feeds us, warms us, cools us and on which we depend for our own lives. So why do some people vacuum up those leaves and wrap them in plastic to be hauled away to a prison for plastic and old mattresses?
Raked into a pile or left on the ground, nature will make nature's gold. It is black beautiful and valuable.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Bob Dylan, a rare genius and a most deserving Nobel Prize winner, Gerry Warner

Bob Dylan, a rare genius and a most deserving Nobel Prize winner
Perceptions by Gerry Warner
Yes Virginia, there’s some justice left in a Donald Trump world – Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize.
This news hit me like a sledgehammer yesterday. The man that I have venerated since the early 60’s has finally gotten his just dues. When I first heard it on CBC, I fairly whooped with delight.
Good Lord, Creator God you gave us one when we needed it the most. Here we have this crazed bigot running amok spreading hatred, racism and lies, which for a while looked like it might make him President and now a languorous ray of pure sunshine has broken through. The poet that wrote “Blowin’ in the Wind,” the greatest anti-war anthem ever, has been recognized for what he is – a troubadour of truth at a time when we most need that rare commodity.
And to you naysayers who say Dylan is no poet, I say shame on you: "Gonna change my way of thinking, make my self a different set of rules. Gonna put my good foot forward and stop being influenced by fools." And God damn his poetry rhymes, the most powerful and difficult form of poetry. And it’s beautiful, haunting and hurting like that other great singer/poet, Hank Williams: “The guilty undertaker sighs. The lonesome organ grinder cries. The silver saxophones say I should refuse you. The cracked bells and washed-out horns. Blow into my face with scorn. But it’s not that way. I wasn’t born to lose you . . .” 
And Dylan speaks truths that are so powerful, yet so obvious, your reaction is why didn’t I think of that: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." Or: "Some people feel the rain, others just get wet." Or; "Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you’d like to act." And the classic:  "When you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose."
But most of all, Dylan has got guts and the courage to say things that would be unsayable by anyone else. Witness these incredible lines out of “Hurricane:” “All of Rubin’s cards were marked in advance. The trial was a pig circus. He never had a chance. The judge made Rubin’s witnesses drunkards from the slums. To the white folks who watched, he he was a revolutionary bum. And to the black folks, he was just a crazy nigger. No one doubted that he pulled the trigger.”
Who else but Bob Dylan in a nation torn apart by race could get away with using the ultimate racist epithet “nigger?” Dylan got away with it because he did what every poet does – he spoke the truth.
If only we heard it more often!
I could go on, but I think you get my drift. In awarding Bob Dylan The Nobel Prize for Literature, the Nobel Prize Committee made a courageous, thinking out of the box decision. The Swedish Academy congratulated Dylan’s music for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” And all I can say is Amen to that.
I doubt that Donald Trump is a Dylan fan. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he doesn’t know who Dylan is. Trump is kinda ignorant that way. But it’s a dangerous ignorance that can’t do anything but harm to the world. Thank God there’s people like Dylan in the world because he does what every artist, poet, novelist and singer does to some degree or the other.
They speak truth to power, beauty to pain, laughter to sorrow, and most of all, they make us feel good about ourselves and our often miserable world.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and life-long Dylan fan and was one of the first in line when Dylan came to Cranbrook.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Poisonings in Community Forest







Monday, October 10, 2016

and Happy Thanksgiving Monday

Thanks to democracy, Council’s decision to borrow $10 million could be overthrown or confirmed by Gerry Warner

Thanks to democracy, Council’s decision to borrow $10 million could be overthrown or confirmed
Perceptions by Gerry Warner
God bless democracy! It may not be a perfect system as Winston Churchill once said, but democracy could save Cranbrook tax payers and property owners millions of dollars this month if they get off their butts and use it.
What am I talking about? Glad you asked. I’m talking about the Alternative Approval Process (AAP) now in place until the end of the month that could over rule City Council’s decision to borrow $10 million to jump-start spending on the crumbling road and infrastructure system in our city
But how many good Key City residents even know the AAP is happening or have bothered to pick up their form at City Hall? Not many. Media coverage has been light. There seems to be no buzz around town about the AAP unlike the East Hill boundary extension proposal that galvanized voters in 2009 and almost led to rioting in the streets. So as a public service, I’m going to explain what’s going on and try to do it as fairly and accurately as I can.
After all, it’s your money and mine.
The AAP form can be picked up during business hours at City Hall. It sets out what the City wants to do, namely approve a bylaw to borrow up to $10 million over the next 20 years to accelerate road, and infrastructure development in the city. Council has already voted unanimously to do this. But because it involves borrowing money, a lot of money in addition to the taxes we already pay, the AAP  provides taxpayers with the rare opportunity to overrule a decision by their elected councillors. The way it works is if 10 per cent of registered voters, which is 1,499 in this case, sign the AAP form and return it to City Hall before the deadline 4:30 pm Oct. 31, it will overturn the bylaw passed by Council and trigger a referendum as happened during the East Hill controversy.
Serious stuff for sure. Serious enough that all residents and property owners in the city should be aware of it and exercise their right to sign the AAP if they oppose the bylaw or refuse to sign if they support it. This reminds me of a famous quote by former US President John Kennedy: “We hold the view that the people come first, not the government.”
As usually is the case, there are many issues surrounding the bylaw. The City rightly points out now is a good time to borrow because interest rates are historically low. However, it could also be argued that we already pay taxes to provide services such as roads, sewer and water and our taxes aren’t cheap and borrowing would only add to the burden. Nevertheless, some may be tempted to support the City’s bylaw and not sign the AAP because our roads are in such atrocious shape, especially 2nd St S. one of the main arterials serving the residential south side and sure to take one of the biggest bites, if not the biggest, out of the $10 million borrowed.
But do we need to borrow $10 million now when this will cost residents a tax increase of $31 per $100,000 of assessed value? And will interest rates stay this low much longer? Some say the the $4.1 million annually the City is spending now on roads and infrastructure should be spread out over a longer period eliminating the need to borrow and raise taxes. But others say we’ve waited long enough to fix our roads and borrowing now makes sense.  However, still more feel Council should lobby Ottawa more vigorously for Cranbrook’s share of the $120 billion Federal Infrastructure Fund, which would make borrowing unnecessary. Personally, I feel the City should have held an open house on the issue to better inform the public before they make their fateful decision on this issue.
So that’s it folks.It’s an extremely important decision for everyone in the city and one deserving thoughtful consideration. If you want to know more, check the City’s web page or go down to City Hall and get a copy of the AAP form.
But if you just ignore it you’re showing little appreciation for the hard-won benefits of democracy.

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

The Math

Do we need a $10 million, 20 year tax burden?
The City of Cranbrook proposes to borrow $10M for road and infrastructure improvements. There is no question that improvements are needed but is this the best time? What are the implications for your taxes? Are there alternatives? You have only until October 31st to register your concern by signing a petition. The election promise was to fix our roads and not raise our taxes - an objective that can be met in 5 years without a loan that overburdens taxpayers unnecessarily. 
What you’ll be paying:
          A total of 5.36% tax increase for 2016.  The projected 2017 tax increase could be a 6.78% tax increase.  A 20 year tax burden on seniors and young families.
          The proposed $10 million loan would be paid for by taxpayers over 20 years.  That is an automatic 2.1% increase per year.  $31 per $100,000 residential assessed value.  Tax increase for business owners will be $56 per $100,000.
          Plus regular annual tax increases.  The general property tax increase for 2016 is 2.26% or $16.84 per $100,000 of assessed value. The projected tax increases for 2017 = 3.68%, 2018 = 4.01%, 2019 = 3.72%, 2020 = 2.42%. 
          Plus the additional yearly 1% Road Improvement Tax equates to about $7.45 per $100,000 of assessed value for residential property in 2016.
What’s the rush?  Let’s keep our tax dollars here.
          It is estimated that the 1% Road Improvement Tax will fund just under $10 million of the $32.7 million in capital road projects planned for 2016 through 2020.  So we don’t need a loan.
          The City already allocates $4.1 million/year towards roads and infrastructure The $10 million load would fix the same amount of roads in two years instead of five years.  Five years isn’t unreasonable.  Let’s take our time.
          Stretching the work over five years would allow the City to be able to contract with local businesses rather than those from out of town.
         A recent announcement through the Union of BC Municipalities indicates that money for roads would be available to municipalities over the next two years.  (
What can you do?

You can fill in a petition form at the City of Cranbrook offices, 40 - 10 Avenue S.  Or you can print off a form online from the City’s website - go to Alternative Approval Process and click on the blue link to elector response forms. DUE Oct. 31.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Cranbrook Autumn

Photos Jenny Humphrey and Stewart Wilson

US election a Hobson’s choice if there ever was one “Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

US election a Hobson’s choice if there ever was one
“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner
It’s time to think the unthinkable.
Trump could win! No kidding and as I say this I have to admit I’m whipping egg off my face as I never conceived of the possibility before.
So where does this leave us? Uncomfortable? That’s an understatement. Shocked? Maybe, but not when you consider the decline of the American Empire the last decade or two. Amazed? In a digital world, nothing seems amazing anymore. Scared? That’s the big one and one I hope we never find out.
Time to back up a bit. How did we get into this bizarre and potentially dangerous mess in the first place? In your humble correspondent’s opinion, it began almost 20 years ago and I first began to notice it on my numerous cross-border trips down South. Being a news junkie, I always have the radio on wherever I go and when I’m cruising the interstates and the backroads of the No Longer United States of America it’s no different as I wear out my dial finger looking for 60’s rock and roll or the voice of the people on open-line radio.
That’s when I discovered what I dubbed “American fascist talk radio.”
No matter if it was Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or Michael Savage of “Savage Nation” fame, the message was the same –  the American way of life was being undermined by an unholy triad of liberals, socialists and progressives and good, God-fearing, conservative Americans had to fight back or the Home of the Brave and Land of the Free was going to become a dictatorship ruled by Oprah Winfrey, Big Brother and a cabal of Marxists.
Don’t believe me? Next time you’re in the Excited States of America start twisting the dial. The barrage of anger, hate and vilification is enough to make you drive off the road. And there’s a reason for it. In 1987, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) deregulated the Fairness Doctrine of commercial talk radio which required that extreme political comment of one viewpoint had to be balanced by political comment of opposite points of view. This opened the floodgates for hatemongers like Limbaugh, Hannity and Savage to spout their bile without contradiction or retort. And who was this electronic hate speech directed at? Liberals, Wall Street, immigrants and “Islamo-fascists” as anyone from the Islamic world was labeled. And where was it most popular? The Bible Belt, the Rust Belt and rural America where unemployment was high and education levels low. And the message resonated especially strongly with seniors, especially if they were white male, and angry. Military people liked it too.
I think you see where this is headed.
It was American fascist, talk radio in the late 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s that laid the groundwork for a demigod like Donald Trump. Don’t kid yourself for a minute. The Great Unwashed cheering for Trump aren’t the so-called Washington “elites,” the academics, the intelligentsia, Silicon Valley geeks or millennials. They are the Americans who have lost their jobs to technology, or were replaced by immigrant labour or, not without reason, have come to hate and distrust politicians of all stripes and the media too. And they’re not as na├»ve as many closeted intellectuals and cultured people think. They know he’s vulgar, a liar and a cheat. But that’s how they feel about all politicians AND THEY DON’T CARE!
In other words, it’s payback time for the whole damn system, which they feel is holding them down while immigrants get the jobs and the Chinese make the profits. Like Trump, they feel the system is “rigged” against them and they’re going to teach the system a lesson and God help us if they do. And if Trump doesn’t make it, big deal. He’s just another politician. No crocodile tears to be shed for him.
To me the crowning irony of the whole damn thing is that both Hillary Clinton and Trump have financed foundations which are supposed to work for the public good yet both foundations are accused of being corrupt. Corruption by both for God’s sake! Can’t they do anything ethical?
I wouldn’t want to be an American voter trying to choose between these two.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist who hasn’t been accused of corruption. At least not yet.