From Loon Lake Road – Loon Lake is where the phone company says it is

Barbara Hendricks' monthly column of the pleasures and frustrations of living in the very rural community along Loon Lake Road.

No Telus directories

Services for Loon Lake Road residents have been historically very poor and improvements slow to come. The area is served from a number of different centres depending on the company or agency providing the service.

According to Telus, Loon Lake Road is part of Clinton – we share the 459 exchange with them and we are listed in the Williams Lake and area directory. I have written here before how Telus says it is impossible to send my bill to my correct mailing address which is through the Cache Creek Post Office because their computer says Loon Lake Road is in Clinton.

Have you looked at your telephone directory lately? Mine says “keep til January 2013” and the only reason I have that one is that I phoned and complained that I hadn’t got a new one last winter. When I phoned this year I was told I could pick up a new one in Williams Lake. After explaining to the service person at the other end of the phone in Toronto that Williams Lake was a two hour drive from Loon Lake Road and it was an unacceptable solution, she said she would mail me one.

However, on getting all my mailing details she told me that there were no more Williams Lake and area directories available in the warehouse. In other words these directories are no longer being distributed to rural residents nor are they made available for pick up at a convenient local stop.

It would therefore appear that all those businesses in the area that pay for a yellow pages listing are being cheated as the directories are not being distributed to potential customers. Personally, I think everyone who wants to connect with the residents of Loon Lake Road should place their ads in the Connector phone directory from the Ashcroft and Cache Creek Journal – at least that one is easy to lay your hands on and find local numbers.

Spring is singing

Well, spring has arrived according to the calendar, now we just have to wait to feel it. March 20 brought temperatures of minus 5 C overnight and a couple centimetres of snow and then, in the next days, temperatures went down to -15C at night which are some of the coldest temperatures we have had all winter. I say “Enough already!”.

At least we didn’t get the 26 cm of snow they got in Montreal and Edmonton last week. I won’t complain about those few centimetres that fall every couple days. There are piles of snow still in the lower areas by the creek and in shady spots. However in the sunny south slopes and along the roadside the snow has gone. Time for raking and cleaning up the mess of twigs and branches brought down off the big old firs by the piles of snow that accumulated on the branches.

The first green shoots of alfalfa are now peeking through – so watch out for the deer along the road as they are really hungry for those fresh greens right now. The little violas and crocuses are blooming in the sunny spots in the garden as well. The air is filled with birdsong now, with robins, blackbirds and chickadees leading the chorus. The repetitive “beep” of the nuthatch and the knock of the woodpecker keep up the beat. The eagles are back as well, but not the large number of immature ones as we had some years ago when you could see an eagle in nearly every tree along the creek. Owls give us a few hoots in the night. The sounds of nature and the changing sounds as the seasons change are one of the really great rewards of living in the countryside.

It’s that time of the year when people begin to wonder about when the ice will be off the lake and we have that beautiful green water surface again. Mid-April is average timing. The long range weather forecast states that April will be warmer than usual and that we will have a warmer than usual summer.

TNRD taxes are wasted

It’s also that time of the year when our local government once again raises doubts about its ability to provide good governance to unorganized rural areas.

On Feb. 27, the TNRD committee responsible for Solid Waste Management voted to examine the closure of four more transfer stations – this time the property owners of Agate Bay, McLure, Monte Lake and Vavenby are expected to gladly hand over their tax money for solid waste management services to be used to subsidize services in the incorporated towns. If the regional district cannot carry out its major mandate of providing a first level of government services in rural unorganized territories, it should be scrapped as a level of government. Right now the TNRD is just another way of taking tax dollars from homeowners in the unorganized regions to support urban based services. The TNRD is approaching 50 years since incorporation and is badly in need of some major renovations or sent to the scrap dealers.

I find it interesting to note that when the TNRD directors were discussing an increase in their pay for attending meetings, the comments made by some was that $10 was “nothing” and we could easily pay that.

The cost reduction to waste management by withdrawing services in these four communities, while still taxing them for the services will amount to $220,000 or as the staff has put it: “$6 per household” that could be redirected elsewhere. The report of course does not state how much the communities in question are paying in taxes for solid waste management. Well, if $10 is nothing and could easily be paid, I say spend the $6 in these communities; it is money well spent. Look for savings elsewhere than withdrawing services, starting with the cost of reimbursement and expenses of the TNRD Board of Directors, which was for the year ending Dec 31, 2011 a total of $583,500. This is sufficient to operate 10 rural transfer stations.

Biggest earner was P. Milobar who was paid $27,940 remuneration plus $6,469 in expenses and T.  Pennell who received $27,200 remuneration plus $19,888 in expenses for their attendance at TNRD meetings, which happen twice a month and last about two hours, plus participation in several committee meetings a month. How much an hour did you say?

After our protests in 2011 against the withdrawal of services at Loon Lake Road transfer station, the TNRD has in fact improved the facilities and the service is satisfactory, but we must not feel too secure. There is still a plan to close nine more transfer stations and Loon Lake is likely to be one of those.  Despite the clear evidence provided that the funds collected from Loon Lake Road property owners for solid waste management is almost two times the cost to operate the transfer station, there is no assurance that the TNRD won’t decide they can use all our money for providing services elsewhere unless we keep pressure on the elected representatives and make it clear that no services provided – no taxes paid.

The TNRD likes to compare itself to other regional districts when it comes to the pay of directors and senior staff. Well, let’s do some comparison with other regional districts with regard to services. The TNRD operates a total of 27 sites that collect waste, with plans to reduce the number to 18, consisting of five landfills and 13 transfer stations; the Cariboo regional district operates 14 landfills and 18 transfer stations for a total of 32 sites while the Peace River regional district has a total of 43 sites and, interestingly, 23 of them are open 24/7, unmanned rural sites. It can be done.

BC history conference in Kamloops

I know many of the readers of this paper enjoy learning more about local history. A conference of BC History will happen in Kamloops on May 9-11 with a focus on Historic Grasslands and related issues including History of Ranching, presented by the Honourable Judith Guichon, and a session on the Brigade Trails. It may seem far away but early registration is less expensive and you can register just for the individual sessions that are of interest to you. Find out more at http://bchistory.ca/conferences/2013/presentations.html , or write to Kamloops 2013 Conference, c/o BC Historical Federation, PO Box 5254, Station B, Victoria, BC V8R 6N4, or e-mail: info@bchistory.ca .

Residents of Loon Lake Road who are interested but do not have computer access are welcome to call me at 459-2406 and I will gladly print out the programme and registration for them.

Happy Easter everyone.

Barbara Hendricks

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