Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Response from Pam Goldsmith-Jones

Mayoralty candidate and incumbent Pam Goldsmith-Jones was very quick to respond to my questions with a lengthy email reply.

Madame Mayor’s comments were quite well thought out. Of course some of the material referenced projects and initiatives I have to admit I do not understand. That said, the nature of the response on a diversified tax base was very good. The response on contracting out of government services was less inspiring. My personal opinion is that the private sector, in a competitive environment, will always do a more cost effective higher quality job than the public sector. That belief would colour my view of her response.

Here are some key points of the Mayor’s response:

“Diversifying our tax base is key.”

The council is looking to develop the Wetmore site (22nd and Marine) as was done for 320 Taylor Way (across Taylor Way from the Whitespot). I’m not sure what the District did here but I intend to find out and report back to you.

“The Ambleside strategy recommends an office building for the village (height will be the issue).”

Vacancy in the existing professional office space between 13th and 19th seems to me to indicate that an office tower in Ambleside is not needed. The council should focus on initiatives that bring business to West Vancouver prior to expanding the available office space. Perhaps this is the ‘build it and they will come’ mentality.

“The new community centre board is also viewing how to rent out the space for revenue, and is working with our staff to balance community programming with revenue opportunities.”

Within reason this is a good initiative. I fully support user pay programs for the use of public facilities.

“We outsource where it makes sense, and use our crews if that is the best value for you.”

The Mayor went on to discuss how trees were reused to build a bridge in Parc Verdun and how the District negotiated a great deal on garbage pickup services. I was hoping or hear a bigger picture answer such as contracting out road services or the operation of the recreation center.

Ms Goldsmith-Jones also went on to state “as Mayor, I opened up our Finance Committee to citizens – I am pretty sure no other community is as transparent or open to a fresh look as we are. Our new Chief Administration Officer has begun restructuring to flatten the organization. He has left some retirements vacant, and has reduced a few positions as well.”

The concept of a leaner and more transparent District government is very near and dear to my heart.

We wait for responses from the other two candidates.


Tags: ; ; ; ;

Monday, October 27, 2008

Race to be West Van's Mayor

Two current councilors are running to replace the incumbent mayor in West Vancouver. The field of candidates for the 15-Nov-2008 election is:

Pam Goldsmith-Jones Web Site
Johan Clark No Web Site
Vivian Vaughan Web Site

Two questions were submitted to the candidates by email. The questions were:

What steps would you take to increase the commercial tax base within West Vancouver?

What District programs or services would you consider for contracting out?

I will post any responses I receive. (And I have received some :))


Tags: ; ; ; ;

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Eagle Lake Micro Hydro Project

Did you know that we get over half of the 9.4 million cubic meters of drinking water we use in West Vancouver from Eagle Lake?

Eagle Lake is located on Cypress Mountain. Originally it drained west into Nelson Creek and emptied into Eagle Harbour. Around 1960 dams were constructed on the west and south ends of the lake. These dams diverted the water flow into Eagle Creek which also empties into Eagle Harbour.

Eagle Lake’s history as a source of drinking water goes back to the early 1900’s. In 2001/02 the water supply system on Eagle Lake introduced a new benefit to the resident of West Vancouver. At that time BC Hydro approved a micro power generation project for Eagle Lake. A Czech designed Pelton turbine was added to the roof of the water reservoir. The turbine and harvests energy that was previously lost in a pressure reducing station. The unit has a capacity of 0.2 MW and generates approximately 1.1 gigawatt-hours of electricity each year. This ‘free’ electricity represents about 20% of the power consumed by the District of West Vancouver.

Eagle Lake micro power generation is managed by Pacific Cascade Hydro Inc for the owner the District of West Vancouver.

Residents of West Vancouver can be proud that this green project proves, under the right conditions, power generation within a drinking water distribution system is feasible as well as environmentally and economically sound. The project could be duplicated in water distribution systems globally.

Tags: ;

PS: A reader points out that the 20% of all West Vancouver's power use must be wrong. And I agree. I believe the intention of the figures presented by the District's www site was that the project provides 20% of the District's power use. See the comments for the correct intpretation.