Besso wants say in gas tax funds

A Coldstream politician is feeling sidelined from her job to represent the wishes of constituents.

Coun. Maria Besso isn’t impressed with the structure of the regionally significant projects working group – which will be in charge of determining how more than $4 million in gas tax funds will be spent.

The group is made up of municipal administrators, UBCM staff and provincial staff, but does not include any local politicians. And the group’s meetings are not open to the public, so Besso would not even be permitted to sit in on them.

“All of a sudden when there’s a pot of money we’re not allowed to provide input on it?” said Besso.

“This is what we’ve been elected to do. This is taking away the democratic rights of the people to be represented.”

The working group’s role is advisory only and it will report to the North Okanagan Regional District board of directors.

Coldstream council is requesting that the working group’s meetings be opened to allow anyone interested to attend.

“I do take exception to Maria not being able to attend these meetings if she wants to,” said Coun. Pat Cochrane.

District ready to recycle

Just in time for Environment Week (June 5 to 11), Coldstream is advocating for eco-friendly action.

The district’s efforts include:

n pushing for increased beverage container deposits/returns

n including a per bag garbage fee if and when a universal curbside garbage collection program is considered

n sponsoring a freecycle program where used household items would be placed at the curb for reuse by neighbours

Whether it’s a chair, children’s toy or old door, a freecycle program would enable residents to keep items out of the landfill and encourage recycling.

“It would be set out at the curb and presumably there would be other people who would look at those items and possibly pick them up instead of disposing of them,” said Michael Stamhuis, Coldstream chief administrative officer.

“The program has been quite successful in other communities.”

As an alternative to cluttering the curb, Coun. Gyula Kiss reminds residents that there is also a similar program located online at www.freecycle.org.

Annual report wrapped up

A look back at the highlights, and setbacks, of 2010 is complete for public perusal.

The District of Coldstream’s annual report is now available with even more detail and insight than ever before.

The report goes over everything from projects like the grid road and Coldstream Creek improvements to economic troubles like continuing to adjust to the loss of a major industrial taxpayer (O-I Canada) and a slow development year.

It also highlights all the district’s finances and an added bonus this year is a statistical section. It includes all sorts of stats from how many employees Coldstream pays for (28.3, which is up 1.4 from 2009) to a breakdown of expenses and debt.

“This is all new information to our annual reports,” said Trevor Seibel, director of financial administration.

“We’ve never released this information previously. This information is intended to provide more information to the public to help them understand what the district is doing and how money is spent.”

Coldstream’s annual report is available at www.districtofcoldstream.ca