ELECTION 2014: Candidate Q and A: Oyama ward incumbent Owen Dickie

District of Lake Country: Dickie, Owen - Council candidate for Oyama ward

1. What is the biggest issue facing Lake Country in the next four years.

Continuing to develop long range plans for maintenance and necessary expansion of infrastructure.  Our road network is deteriorating faster than we are budgeting to repair and replace it.  We have a comprehensive water plan in place but need to ensure that it is implemented and our water sources are protected.  Work is currently being done on a Waste Water Mater Plan, however in the interim many areas are held at a standstill due to lack access to wastewater treatment facilities. These are the cornerstone services that the District must provide to its residents.  Regardless of any other services the District provides, if we can’t drive on the roads, get potable water from the tap or manage our wastewater, we as a District and a Council have failed our residents.

2. What is the biggest issue facing your specific ward?

I would have to say there are two issues.

First, the on going and accumulating effects of the new highway is the most pressing.  Insufficient highway signage to identify the Oyama turn off has had a detrimental effect on business and individuals as people now have difficulty finding our community.

Under continued Provincial government ownership, Pelmewash Parkway is becoming a significant thoroughfare with increasing traffic and vehicle speeds.  The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure makes changes to traffic flows without consulting the District while continuing the practice of deferred maintenance and reduced service.  This “jewel in the rough” has become a safety hazard and is evolving into a detriment to our community.

The Ministry continues to push the District to assume maintenance and control of the parkway but refuse to acknowledge the extremely poor condition of the road surface and rock faces.  We cannot accept a stretch of road that is in need of such major maintenance and repair that it would immediately be a significant financial liability to the District.

The second issue is waste water/septic.  Interior Health has estimated that 50% of the septic systems in Oyama are is some stage of failure.  Also sub-dividable land is being held up due to rules and restriction regarding smaller package plants.  We are repeatedly told that “small local sewage plants” are more expensive to operate than running a sewer line to the main plant in Winfield, but running a line to Winfield is too expensive!  So Oyama is caught in a Catch 22 circular argument.

3. How do you think Lake Country should go about attracting business?

We should continue to do what we have done over the past term, streamline the process and remove unnecessary red tape and ensure that applications are dealt with fairly and in expedient manner.  I have already heard, while door knocking, how much easier it is for businesses to deal with Lake Country since restructuring.

4. Do you support the restructuring that took place in the last municipal term in Lake Country municipal hall? Why or why not?

As I have stated before, I support the restructuring at the Lake Country Municipal Hall. Once again, I repeat the reasons for my support:

Summary

The District was over staffed and the there were too many departments which were not communicating with each other.  As a result, there was extensive, and expensive, duplication of activities in the District structure which resulted in significant delays and poor service to the public.  As well there was under utilization of staff, the inability to move staff where they were needed as well as a waste of time and resources.

Building Inspections

Since Jan 1, 2011 to the end of June 2014, the Lake Country Building Inspection Dept had a total of 6,548 appointments/meetings/consultations (taken from summaries supplied by the dept to Council and public in various Council meeting agendas).  There are about 248 working days in a year.  That works out to  approximately 7.6 Appointments/Meetings/Consultations a day.

In 2011, prior to any restructuring, we had 3 full time Building Inspectors.  7.6 divided by 3 is just over 2 1/2.  The District was paying 1 head building inspector and 2 full time inspectors to each perform 2 1/2 appointments/Consultations/Meetings a day!  This would leave more than 75% of the typical day per inspector!

After the initial restructuring in 2011, we eliminated one building inspector position.  This left us with two full time building inspectors who where now averaging 3.5 inspections appointments/Consultations/Meetings a day.

During the 2014 restructuring, we eliminated one more full time building inspection position and added a plan checker/inspector position.  So we now have one full time building inspector and one person who spends time doing  plan checking and, when needed, can perform inspections as well.  Plan checking and building permit issuance was the primary concern of builders and developers.

We are one of the few jurisdictions where the building inspectors performed the plan checks as well.  This is for several reasons.  One is the plan checker needs a lower certification (thus lower salary) and second, it provides a balance.  If only one person looks at each file, the chance of the same item being overlooked multiple time increases.

Was there a period of time where we only had one inspector who didn’t work every day?  Yes, there was.  However this was only a few days till the plan checker/inspector position was filled.  We now have, as I have pointed out, one full time inspector and one plan checker who can do inspections when demand warrants it.

Parks

In this area we are again following typical protocol and creating a single department that looks after infrastructure, be it cleaning snow or mowing the grass in the soccer field.

What had happened in the past was each department would have its own equipment, staff, supervisors and directors.  As a result, we would see, for example, was two pieces of property adjacent to each other, one “belonging” to Parks & Rec, the other “belonging” to Engineering.  The personnel and equipment from one department would only mow the property “belonging” to them while the patch beside it was mowed by personnel and equipment from the other department.

With the amalgamation of parks maintenance with engineering maintenance, the District has the ability to allocate personnel where they are needed as opposed to one department hiring temporary staff while the other department has little work for their staff.

As the District progresses, it is anticipated that Parks Planning will function under the Planning Department.  This again is a logical step as the need for recreation facilities relates directly to the future development of the community.  And again, hiring a qualified individual to plan parks will assist the existing Planning Department with policies and procedures that provide for recreation facilities in a fair and consistent manner.

Finance

Again, this department had an excess of supervisory level staff while other staff members were being under utilized.  It should be pointed out that Mr Banman resigned his position as Chief Financial Officer.

Remarks

Most people who are unhappy about the changes are people who were involved in creating the inefficient, top heavy organization that had evolved.  While no one likes to see something they have helped create dismantled, there comes a time when the choice is obvious if you look at the reality of the structure.  That time has come for the District of Lake Country.  It is a vision for an evolving community.

5. Why should voters vote for you over any of the other choices available on the ballot this year?

For the past 3 years I have worked hard to represent and stand up for Oyama.  Many Oyama residents have contacted me with concerns and I have done all I can to help them.  I am proactive, trying to see issues and problems before they surface and work to mitigate them in advance.  I will be here for the next 4 years and will continue working for Oyama residents.

I live in Oyama now and have for 25 years.  While I believe everyone should have a choice about where they live, I also believe that if you are going to decide where the boat is going, you should have a paddle in the water.  My opponent chooses to live outside of the District of Lake Country.