Union Bay Pandemic Style

2020 has had its challenges, with one resigned trustee, one “retired” CAO, a postponed AGM, a postponed election of three trustees and a pandemic.

The landowners now owe at least 4.2 million dollars for a new (and much needed) Water Treatment Plant. The interest costs are additional hundreds of thousands of landowner dollars.

What about loans and municipal financing? The CVRD received almost 78% of the building cost for their WTP in grants and municipal financing! Union Bay Improvement District does NOT qualify for help.

That is why we are having the governance study done. Stay tuned, it should be released in the near future. Then we can make some informed decisions regarding UBID’s fiscal future and the risk management of infrastructure debt and future capital projects.

Union Bay Wants You, You and You!

Three Trustee positions are up for election. Conversion to become a service area of the CVRD gives UBID access to infrastructure grants and municipal financing and includes access to a broader team of experts, staff, engineers and professionals. Union Bay Board needs three landowners to run for those who believe in the wisdom of saving landowners’ money.

Bonus Good News! If the conversion to a service area of the CVRD is successful there will be no more annual trustee elections!

To Do List for 2020

1. Complete the study to examine pros and cons of merging aka conversion to the CVRD. Why? It is the only way we will qualify for infrastructure grants and municipal financing. UBID is facing multiple infrastructure costs in addition to completing our water treatment plant. Most of our water pipes needs replacing. 690 households cannot afford to pay unless we receive grants. UBID is not entitled to receive grants or municipal financing. This is why I made the motion to send the letter to the CVRD in Oct. 2017, this motion passed. However the Board refused to follow through. As a result of this delay, landowners are having to pay for the treatment plant without any grants or subsidies.

2. Review our Election Policy to ensure that every vote counts. Did you know that our “Letters Patent” signed in 1960 allows for a spouse of a landowner to be elected as Trustee? It follows, therefore, that if a spouse of a landowner can be a Trustee then surely they can also vote in elections! UBID will be having an election of two trustee positions in April 2020 as well as a historic referendum on merging (conversion) to the CVRD. It is time to ensure that everyone has a say in these critical decisions which will have a serious impact on our wallets.

No Quorum, is no Reason to not post the 2020 budget!

The 2020 UBID budget was approved in October. Why the delay in posting this information for the landowners? Could it be that, once again, landowners must vote “blind” on Saturday November 23? Seems like a repeat of the April AGM which was held after the April election. It is just plain wrong and unfair. This is not how a responsible, accountable and transparent government works. Another reason to covert to the CVRD we would then have staff trained in local government who know and follow legislation, understand Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy. As well, we would qualify for Infrastructure Grants and municipal financing well below the RBC rates we currently have.

Please get out and vote for Ian Munro if you care about your wallet, your water and our community.

UBID ELECTION!

Great to see a choice of candidates. Based on saving landowners money, my vote will go to Ian Munro, who has experience and understands the benefits of becoming a service area of CVRD and the need for making decisions based on facts.

This is a good time to announce that I will not be running for re election as Trustee in April 2020. There will be two trustee positions available. (Bitten and Kaljur)

Right now, is the time to get involved in local government. Union Bay is facing massive infrastructure upgrades beyond the Water Treatment Plant. Currently, we do not qualify for infrastructure grants or municipal financing. Instead, 690 households are paying for everything. Both your parcel taxes and water tolls will have to increase significantly every year. If we convert to CVRD we would get grants and municipal financing (which is 2% below prime). It just makes Cent$!

VOTE for Ian Munro UBID Trustee. Advance poll Tues. Nov. 12 and election day is Saturday November 23, 2019

Who will Be Trustee?

Nominations close Nov. 5, 2019. The letter from UBID to CVRD was sent on September 20, 2019 to initiate the study of the pros and cons of becoming a service area of the CVRD (conversion) and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs is in full support.

Union Bay can not afford to delay any longer. Why? We can NOT access municipal financing and infrastructure grants until UBID becomes a service area of the CVRD.

What’s flying out of your wallet will be revealed whenever UBID decides to post the 2020 Budget, which the Board approved on October 17, 2019. For the record, as Trustee, I did not vote in favour of the 2.5 Cost of Living (COLA) increase in Administrative salaries. We can not afford it at this time especially when administration wages have doubled in the last 2 years.

We have not had administrative support at any Board meetings since May, 2019. This has had a clear impact on how the meetings are conducted. Supporting documents are not included, agenda items are placed ‘in camera’ when they are not, agenda items are dropped or not carried forward etc. It is unfair, in my opinion, to a volunteer Board to operate this way manner as it affects our ability to make informed decisions.

The case of the missing FOIPPA request(s)?

October 18, 2019

Re:  The Sept. 19, 2019 FOIPPA request made by Susanna Kaljur (now past due)

To:  Acting Chair Hein Vandenberg, UBID Trustees, Admin., Ministry and Privacy Officer:

The FOIPPA  agenda item was sent out on Oct. 2, 2019 to the entire Board (and yes I can see now that Hein’s address is incorrect however, I was not told until Oct.17 Board meeting) this meant it was left off the Agenda. 

The October 9, COW meeting was postponed until the October 15, 2019, and the FOIPPA motion was on the agenda, however, the supporting documentation, namely a “legal letter” from P. Johnson UBID’s lawyer) was not included. There have been at least 3 FIOPPA requests from various landowners which have been unresolved due to the prohibitive cost estimates given by our Admin. to produce the records ($1300.00 and $3000.00)!  The administrator in both cases refers to “a legal letter” from UBID’s lawyer Peter Johnson as the basis for his estimates regarding costs of releasing UBID records.  As a trustee the Board must review this legal opinion in order to proceed with my FOIPPA request.  Thus far this letter has not been provided to the Board, despite multiple requests.  When asked about the letter in September, then Chair Paul Healey stated that the Administrator had ‘misunderstood the legal letter’, however, it is clear that the Administrator continues to rely on this ‘misunderstood’ legal opinion which not one (Trustees) has seen or reviewed?! 

That is why I requested at the Oct. 15 COW meeting that my motion be moved to the Oct. 17 Board meeting along with the missing legal legal letter, so that all the facts would be available to the entire Board in order to make an informed decision about the release of Public information which is of public interest, namely anything to do with the new 4.2 million dollar Water Treatment Plant, paid for entirely by 690 households.

This entire FOIPPA request process for myself and other landowners has been flawed and must be corrected or UBID risks having legal action taken against Union Bay for wrongfully with holding public information.

Both the Sept. 19 FOIPPA request and the still missing legal letter means request is now overdue and in violation of the FOIPPA Act 1996.

I move that UBID release and post on UBID’s website all;  Executive Board Meeting minutes, COW meeting minutes, In Camera meeting minutes, Board Executive Reports/Summary’s from January 2017 to present as per FOIPPA Act [1996].”

This motion does not include 3rd party reports unless they were paid for by UBID.”

Therefore I am re submitting my FOIPPA request as written above.  I am also filing a formal complaint with the FOI and Privacy Officer, regarding the mishandling of this request which remains unfulfilled and without explanation.

The UBID Board recently passed a motion requiring the Admin staff to take FOIPPA training. 

On Oct. 2 Admin sent out the following info:

I will be asking the UBID staff to complete the following FOI online training. If you are interested in this training please let me know and I will get all who is interested registered for the course.

Unfortunately, this is the wrong FOIPPA Training course!  UBID is a Local Government which levies taxes. UBID is not a “Service Provider or Contractor”. It is alarming that both the Administration and the Board misunderstand the need for appropriate and timely training. Here is the correct course as sent to me by Chris Quon Privacy Advisor on October 8, 2019 which I forwarded to the entire Board:

Oct. 8, 2019 Hi Susanna,

From your email, I am assuming that the Improvements Districts Administrative staff are from a public body (you mentioned local government employees) and I’ve listed some resources below for you. If that is not the case (and they are internal BC Government employees), please let me know as there are also some additional internal training options available.

As a public body, here are some training resources:

IN-PERSON/WEBINAR

ONLINE:

If I can clarify anything for you or you would like your name added to the distribution list, you can contact me (or Elizabeth Throp who is cc’s here) directly.

Thanks,

Chris

Chris Quon | Privacy Advisor (he/him)

Privacy, Compliance and Training Branch (PCT)

Corporate Information & Records Management Office (CIRMO) | Ministry of Citizens’ Services

As of this date it is not clear which one of the FOIPPA courses the Administration has signed up for, if any? 
However it is evident from past transgressions that training is needed.  I understood from reading the information that Administrators of local governments are REQUIRED to have completed the appropriate training at the beginning of their tenure.
Acting Chair Vandenberg,  it is now your responsibility to find out has UBID’s Administrator fulfilled this requirement?  If so, when did it occur and with what institution?  It is also now your responsibility to carry out the now overdue FOIPPA request or provide specific legal reasons why my FOIPPA request can not be honored by the Union Bay Improvement District as is required by law.
Sincerely,

UBID Trustee Susanna Kaljur

CVRD AGREES To Governance Study!

https://www.comoxvalleyrecord.com/news/comox-valley-regional-district-agrees-to-union-bay-governance-study/

The Comox Valley Regional District has agreed to take part in a process to look at governance in the community of Union Bay.

The growing community south of Courtenay is part of Area A in the regional district. However, the Union Bay Improvement District (UBID) looks after a few specific services provided to the community – water, fire protection and street lights. Other services and programs are administered by the CVRD.

“Their jurisdiction is limited to those three things,” says Area A Director Daniel Arbour.

However, the board that governs UBID has faced discord in recent years, and during the summer, then-chair Paul Healey sent a letter to the Province about reviewing governance. According to a letter on the UBID website, the Province responded saying it will consider a review with the participation of the CVRD. Healey then sent a letter to the CVRD asking about the willingness of Arbour, as area director, and the regional district to take a lead role in the process.

RELATED STORY: Union Bay Improvement District board lacks chair

At a committee of the whole meeting for the regional district on Oct. 8, board members passed a motion to work with Union Bay on the study.

“What we’ve committed to is having a governance study,” says Arbour. “It’s a study that usually takes about a year to complete.”

The CVRD staff report notes that the regional district in partnership with UBID can apply for a restructure planning grant and infrastructure planning grant from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to facilitate the process. This process should include looking at all the assets of UBID in terms of what services it provides and what would be involved should the community choose to convert services to the CVRD. It would assess UBID assets and liabilities, as well as analyze governance options and develop a communications plan. The study could begin later this year, with much of the condition assessment and community engagement work happening in 2020. The report also says if Union Bay opts to convert the services, a decision would have to happen by next September.

Initially, there had been an option for the community to consider incorporation as a municipality. The Province, in its response to Healey and UBID, said that incorporation can be a “contentious” issue for a community and that it would be “prudent” for Union Bay to look solely at whether to convert UBID services to the regional district at this time and perhaps consider incorporation at a later date.

“We will have to abide by that,” Arbour added.

The Comox Valley Record has contacted the UBID office about the upcoming process but has not heard back.

(The article has been edited to correct an error concerning the electoral area.)

What’s in Your wallet?

Letter sent Sept. 14, 2019 by Trustee Kaljur;

Dear Chair Healey, Trustees, and Ministry;

Where is the FULL report from the Public Works Superintendent of an overview of the water pipe infrastructure in all of Union Bay, highlighting areas or sections where pipes might vulnerable and need to be repaired or replaced?? 

The motion requesting this report was passed unanimously by the Board 2 meetings ago and still no report?!  The Board needs this info in order to make informed budget decisions and increases to taxes.  This motion has been blatantly ignored by Admin and Staff.  Why?

I request a written explanation for missing reports, missing accompanying documents (FOIPPA Regs, Legal opinions etc.)

The Administrator has not attended any Board meetings since June 3, 2019. The Public COW meetings are not being video recorded, with no video record and no administrator to write down the motions is putting too much pressure on a voluntary Board Trustee who is also the Chair.

Our Administrator makes an excellent salary, why is he not doing his job? 

The Administrator has provided ZERO verifiable evidence that Board meetings are ‘unsafe’ other than a statement saying so with no proof.  Opinion is not evidence.

If the safety concern is a reference to the suspended Inaugural Meeting of April 23, the only two people in the room who presented a serious safety threat or an atmosphere of intimidation was, UBID Administrator, who set things off by shouting “What did you say!” in a loud and aggressive tone to 3 landowners who were talking quietly among themselves just before the meeting began. Things escalated significantly when then Chair Haraldson got up and marched over to the three seated landowners while holding a large 10 pound bright orange construction hammer (which he likes to use as a gavel) and proceeded to loom over them, his body and face inches from them in a menacing and threatening manner. One landowner began to film this assault on his phone. For proof just watch the video. Both myself and the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, another woman, tried to get Chair Haraldson to sit down and calm down.  Instead Chair Haraldson walks menacingly towards me, still holding the hammer.  That is when staff left.  It was a terrible and unnecessary provocation.  The Administrator has no right to demand to know what people were saying amongst themselves. He could have simply asked them to quiet down. 

I am formally requesting Administrator’s resignation immediately unless he can provide specific proof that current board meetings are so unsafe that he can not perform his job.  The proof must be more than his words or hearsay.

It has cost landowners close to $16,000. in training which trustees willingly attended and benefited from.  We are improving as a Board and have already made numerous democratic decisions for the benefit of Union Bay. The UBID Administrator did not even attend most of the training and no other staff were present.

In order to be a functioning Board we need staff who are willing and able to do the job.  Our current Administrator continues to struggle with the basics of local government, FOIPPA, and principles of transparency and accountability.

I hope the full water pipe survey report will be made available on Sept. 19 Board meeting.[it was not.] I also request a reply to my resolution that CAO Mason resign immediately if he can no longer fulfill his duties or attend meeting and take accurate minutes.

UBID Trustee Susanna Kaljur