Letter from a Community Member

Hello,

I write this letter to request caution, not criticize anyone or their ideas.

My name is Dean Corbett and our family has lived in the Sidley area since 1982.  We moved from the city in search of a place with wide open spaces, friendly people and a fine sense of community.  We found a wonderful combination of those values on this mountain.  I believe that the search for those same values brought many of you here.

I was impressed by the turn out and quality presentations at the AMCS AGM last Thursday.  I appreciate the work that you all have done in your organizations, committees and interests.  I am, however, concerned with a general trend that seemed to be coming out in the meeting.  I hope that everyone will take time to consider the changes that some of the ideas would bring to our mountain.

I am dismayed with the idea of creating more signage and lighting at the various subdivision entrances.  We live higher up the mountain.  We can see the amount of light pollution that comes from Osoyoos, Oroville and Oliver.  It really does light up the nightime sky.  I know it is foggy on Hwy 3 sometimes and turnoffs can be missed, but when you go slowly, note the distance from the bridge at Osoyoos on your odometer, you should know where you are.  That information would be convenient for your visitors to find your turnoff.  The amount of money, energy to fundraise for lights, the electricity consumed and all those extra things could be avoided by knowing how far your turnoff is from the bridge.   If you still believe that lights are needed, some small solar powered garden lights around the statues may work.  Please don’t pollute our night sky with more street lights.  There are plenty of signs cluttering up the highway and making the area look semi-urbanized.  Again, the amount of energy expended in creating and erecting more signs could be used to further other projects like FireSmart and the AMFD.

I am not a great fan of Fortis Inc, their methods or rate structure.  Compared to our prior electricity companies though, they have provided us with far more dependable service.  I appreciate Nick Marty’s input regarding electricity rates, but one fact was missed out.  Those people who have access to natural gas have to pay for that energy.  If that cost was calculated into the total energy cost of heating and running your home, I believe that total cost would be less alarming than presented.   Natural gas has never been available around here, and I don’t think there have ever been plans to provide it.  That should have been considered prior to building and more energy efficient home designs could have been employed.

It seemed that the general tone of the meeting was to make this area a better community which is great, but with more people and thus more services.  Please take minute to consider why you moved here in the first place.  More residents will want more citified services, which if delivered, will again mean more people moving here.

Do you want to turn this into a more urbanized area like what you left behind or do you want to keep it more like the place with the values you were searching for and that brought you to our mountain in the first place?

Dean Corbett
800-661-9114
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2 Responses to Letter from a Community Member

  1. Marci says:

    Dear Mr. Corbett,

    As you are a long time resident of this mountain, I respect your experience and your comments. And I do recall Mr. Newton from the Observatory B&B mentioning the importance of keeping the area dark, after his presentation last year.

    We are not from the city, although we lived on a prairie acreage with plenty of light pollution. I personally appreciated the diffused light as I moved from house to car, chicken coop etc. Where we live now, on Grizzly Place without a view lot, the sun rises later, sets earlier and I cannot see the end of my nose on a moonless night. It has been an adjustment, but we still believe that we live in paradise.

    I am always grateful that the little sign of the firetruck is lit up by my headlights, even in the deepest fog, so that I recognize my turn off; as well as the fire hall light (that apparently shines into living rooms) that lights up part of our subdivision road. I do tell visitors how many clicks we live up the highway, as it feels a very long way in the dark. Rather than having lights that use power, solar or otherwise, perhaps a small two sided sign with the reflective name of the subdivision (no larger than the firetruck sign) might be enough to assist other residents and visitors with their turn off, without creating light pollution?

    We are also members of the “Fortis is not on my Christmas Card list”, group. We had to pay over ten thousand dollars for a power pole on our property that apparently isn’t even ours. Therefore, I can appreciate the concerns of other residents about power bills. As we had enormous power (& gas) bills in Alberta, we chose a more energy efficient home this time, and got rid of our beloved hot tub. We are interested in solar power and are waiting for some of the new and improved innovations to make it to market. We are also waiting for the government to provide decent grants for solar power. Electricity conservation is a joke if the government does not encourage solar and wind power to those who don’t have alternatives. Perhaps that is where we might focus some of our efforts?

    Regarding the attraction of citified folk to the mountain, I think the horse is already out of the barn. They are coming…slowly perhaps, but our friends and families (we call them Alberta refugees) are certainly talking about it. Things will be lost but there will also be gains. If mountain folk are as hardy as I’d like to believe, we will make the necessary adjustments using effective communication just as you have here. In the meantime, I agree that we should keep this mountain quiet and peaceful, for as long as we can.

    Sincerely,
    Marci Moroz

  2. Nick Marty says:

    Dean:

    Re Fortis’ electricity rates, I think you missed the point of my presentation. I’m not complaining about rural energy bills being higher than those in urban areas. Indeed, I knew they would be when I moved here because there is no access to natural gas which is a much cheaper way to heat your water and house than using electricity. Fair enough. My complaint is that BCUC required Fortis to implement this Residential Conservation Rate (RCR) which, because it is improperly designed, has placed a major surcharge on those residents that use electricity for space and water heating, and redistributed the resulting revenues to those residents that use natural gas, effectively subsidizing electricity rates to those customers. Hence, our electricity rates increased more than 10%-20% (more in winter) compared to the previous flat rate system while rates for most urban customers decreased. This is both unfair and less effective at encouraging conservation than a properly designed system (which would have increased the price of electricity to all customers compared to the flat rate system — as opposed to just 8% of customers — but by a smaller amount). So, my complaints are specific to the RCR.

    Concerning Naga’s comments about using propane. This fuel is a lot more expensive than natural gas because it’s a liquified petroleum gas that isn’t shipped around by pipeline. So, propane is not a cost-effective alternative. Solar can be cost-effective in certain applications but not, as far as I know, to heat your home in our winter conditions. The only cost-effective alternative for home heating (other than electricity) is wood. And, of course, most of us have already invested upfront in our electrical heating systems (my geothermal system required a significant initial investment), so we’re not about to convert to another system anytime soon.

    Sincerely,

    Nick Marty

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