Area G report

Angelique Wood - RDOS Area “G” Director gives an overview of the past year.

  • Dec. 31, 2013 2:00 p.m.

The end of the year always brings with it a pause for reflection, particularly when inclement weather forces us indoors, huddled by the fireplace, slowing down from the hectic activities of summer and fall.  It’s not yet winter and we’ve already seen a few cold snaps – many of us are particularly conscious of the fact that our power bills will jump, particularly those of us who rely on electricity for heat.

Elected officials throughout the province of British Columbia continue to call for a better strategy than the conservation rate imposed by Fortis and BC Hydro.  This rate was applied at the call of BC Utilities Commission, conceived as a way of making British Columbians more conscientious of our energy use.  Fortis has just completed a report to the BC Utilities Commission: this report outlines the overall effects of the conservation rate on consumers and points out that 70 per cent of B.C. residents will be only marginally affected by the billing change. This report uses a comparison of a $300 bimonthly bill as its average baseline.

The anecdotal stories I have heard, along with bills which I have been shown, contradict these numbers.  People have approached me with horror stories about bills that were $900 every two months which are now $1,200. The highest bill, for an elderly couple in their 80’s living in a house on acreage, was $2,839.32. This was for a two month billing period in 2013, and it is likely that the rate increase, paired with the conservation rate, was a driver in the increased bill – but what is reasonable?

Many residents in the Similkameen have participated in the Energy Diet, which is a program delivered by Fortis to make our homes more energy efficient and more comfortable.

I think most of us participating in the program can see the value in sealing drafty windows and doors, and identifying problem areas of leakage- but the fact remains that many tenants are not eligible to make significant changes to rental properties, and landlords are also not eligible to apply for the grants to make their rental properties more comfortable for tenants.  So a single-wide mobile home built in the 80’s will remain cold unless extra heat is supplied- and the bottom line is that is expensive.

Our MLA’s Dan Ashton and Linda Larson have indicated that people who are suffering hardship from these conservation rate increases can make application to Fortis for consideration.  I have not seen a published mechanism for this to happen, but if your bills are making you choose between food and warmth, or medicines and heat- you may qualify for some exemption. Fortis toll free number is 1-866-436-7847.

This year, the tiny hamlet of Hedley lost more people than anyone can remember in a single year.  Our population hovers around 350 -380 when one includes the town, the Upper Similkameen Indian reserve, and the residents scattered along Highway #3 to Princeton and Keremeos.

2013 saw 13 people pass away in Hedley.  We were shocked by a murder, a motor vehicle accident, the loss of strong community members, and the deaths of many elderly. In a community of our size, this toll has been numbing and saddening. Many residents are worried and have vowed to work on a buddy system to check on one another.

In fond memory, we acknowledge the passing of:  Tom Cummins, Monty Doucette, Art Hayward, Nellie Halverson, Thom Leslie, Shirley Powers, Steve Roy, Myrtle Sawiuk, Peggy Sheppard, Doug Smith, Greg Sykes, Gene Tillotstrom, and Karl Withler.

This winter, please exercise caution travelling through snowy and icy road conditions. There is no point in rushing to your own accident.  Please be sure to assign a designated driver if you plan on drinking and don’t become a statistic over the holidays.  Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year!

Angelique Wood – RDOS Area “G” Director

 

 

Just Posted

Festival goers at the 27th annual Roots and Blues Festival

The Observer asked: Where are you from and what brought you to the festival?

Summerland cannabis shop receives approval in principle

Inspection now required before Green Gaia may sell cannabis

Kelowna Rockets prepare for biggest rookie camp in years

The 2019 rookie camp starts Aug. 19 with over 150 players

New way to connect with South Okanagan-Similkameen family physicians

Patients who do not currently have a primary care provider can add their name to a centralized list

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Summerland’s downtown has gone through numerous changes

Main Street has been commercial hub of community for many years

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Okanagan climate advocacy group protests against Tolko

Group to demonstrate outside Vernon head office Monday over plan to log close to water supply

Okanagan Cultural Connections live venue tour kicks off in Vernon

Two dozen promoters, national booking agents, and music reps to visit venues from Vernon to Oliver

Most Read