Benefit Concert Launches Bakerview Music Academy For Disadvantaged Kids
Music soothes the soul and stirs something deep inside of us. It triggers a range of emotions for both the hearer and those who play. Distinguished Canadian composer Stephen Chatman has stated it this way, “I cannot image a world without music, and I think a lot of people feel this way.”
As Deputy Mayor, my wife and I recently had the privilege of attending a benefit concert to launch the Bakerview Music Academy. The evening featured Calvin Dyck, Lorin Friesen, Stan Gubiotti, Mel Bowker, Johannes Weber, Paul Williamson and the Sweeney Singers.
The Bakerview Music Academy’s vision is to offer free after school music instruction to disadvantaged youth in Abbotsford, who are economically challenged, in order to encourage them to improve their academic, artistic and social skills, through the inspirational power of music and to enhance community life through the expression of music.
The Academy’s vision is patterned after Venezuela’s very successful El Sistema, a tested model of how a music program can both create great musicians and dramatically change the life trajectory of hundreds of thousands of a nation’s neediest children. Among its graduates, El Sistema Venezuela has nurtured international musicians such as Edicson Ruiz and Gustavo Dudamel and the world-renowned Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra.
The goal for the first year is to enroll 40 students, commencing instruction in September, 2013. The program will offer group lessons in piano, violin and cello and all students will participate in choir. The collaborative setting is conducive to forming friendships; creating team work, learning self-discipline and developing a life-long love of music, not to mention, the transformational life change that will occur in the lives of these students.
The Academy’s first administrator and accomplished pianist is Mr. Graham Yates. The newly formed Society will be seeking funds from private donors in order that music lessons can be provided free of charge. Meanwhile, the Society has also filed an application for charitable status, which is pending.
Sponsoring a student is one of the ways to support what is truly a remarkable undertaking. Another need is to build a strong team of dedicated volunteers. If you have a heart for this program and you are able to help, please contact Mrs.Holda Fast Redekopp, firstname.lastname@example.org, Chair, Bakerview Music Academy for additional information.
June 13, 2013
Councillor Expenses For 2012
One of the promises I made to the people of Abbotsford during the November 2011 municipal election was that I wholeheartedly supported open, transparent and accountable government. By extension, that meant that I would apply that same principle as an individual member of Council. In other words, whatever taxpayer money I spent should be open to the public for review and comment.
The Financial Information Act Report requires that every elected official must disclose the total dollar amount spent in each year. However, there is no requirement to provide any detail, which means the taxpayer has no way of knowing what the money was spent on or how much.
In an effort to be open, transparent and accountable to the taxpayer’s of Abbotsford for the money I spent during 2012, please find a detailed breakdown of the $3,932.10 that I spent as follows;
- Local Government Leadership Academy. This is a conference for newly elected Mayors and Councillors. This conference was held at the Delta River Inn, February 22 – 24, 2012. Hotel cost – $317.58 (room and taxes only), Parking $28.00, Mileage $79.50. Total Cost $425.08
- Lower Mainland Local Government Association. This conference was held at the Hilton Whistler Hotel, May 9 – 11, 2012. Registration $291.20. Hotel Cost 377.00 (room and taxes only). Mileage – $199.39. Parking $40.32. Total Cost $907.91
- Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM). This conference was held at the Victoria Conference Centre /Empress Hotel, September 24 – 28, 2012. Conference Registration – $828.80. Hotel Cost $733.84 (room and taxes only). Flights from Abbotsford/Victoria & return – $310.88. Taxi from Airport to Hotel – $55.50. Conference Meals – $58.05. Total cost – $1,987.07.
- Miscellaneous City Events – Five (5) Abbotsford Chamber Lunches – $169.12, Abbotsford Economic Symposium – $159, Two Gala’s (Run for Water & Making News Making History) – $156.72, Abbotsford Sports Hall of Fame – $60. Urban Development Institute (Fraser Valley Lunch) – $67.20. Total Cost – $612.04
Total taxpayer monies spent during calendar 2012 – $3,932.10
If any resident of Abbotsford would like to review the backup for any or all of the expenses, please let me know and I will make those available
February 03, 2013
What Should Abbotsford’s Sewer Rates Be?
Now that both Abbotsford and Mission Councils have agreed that our current water source capabilities will serve both communities for the next 15 – 20 years, based on actual data for the past 5 years, I began looking at our sewer utility and discovered some interesting facts as it relates to sewage volumes and cost of our sewage system.
Up until May of 2011, the Joint Abbotsford Mission Environmental Systems Wastewater Treatment (“JAMES”) plant processed sewage from the Aldergrove area of Langley Township via a sewer main at the Aldergrove/Abbotsford boundary. As a result of Aldergrove disconnecting from Abbotsford’s sewer system, the sewage volume at the JAMES plant between May and June, 2011, decreased by 12%. While this may not seem like a large decrease, it had a surprisingly large impact on the cost of processing one cubic metre (m3) of sewage. The sewer operating costs rose by 30% – from $0.51 per m3 in 2010 to $0.67 per m3 in 2011.
Residential sewage volumes are calculated to be 90% of the water volume measured by individual water meters. Against this calculated volume, the City applies the rates and fees established by the Consolidated Sewer Rates and Regulations Bylaw. For residents with water meters, the sewer rate in 2011 was $0.84 per m3 – this is 25% higher than our operating costs. For non-residential users, the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (“ICI”) users, sewage volumes are also calculated at 90% of their metered water usage, although the larger ICI users have separate sewage meters. The 2011 sewer rates were:
1 – 10,000 m3 $0.62/m3
10,001 – 100,000 m3 $0.57/m3
100,001 + m3 $0.49/m3
Interestingly, as a result of Aldergrove disconnecting from Abbotsford’s sewer system, all of the above ICI rates are now BELOW the $0.67/m3 processing costs. Since May/June of 2011, residential sewer users are subsidizing the ICI sector.
Recently, the Audit & Finance Committee unanimously agreed that the City cannot afford to process sewage at rates below cost. However, the increased ICI rates will be phased in over a 3 year period, which means that the residential users will continue to subsidize the ICI users by paying higher rates for 3 more years. Additionally, at the end of the 3 years, the ICI user rate per m3 will be capped at 90% of the residential rate.
The rational for lower ICI rates was explained this way at the November 13, 2012 Finance and Audit committee; “traditionally, rates were lower for industrial and commercial to encourage those businesses to locate in Abbotsford.” It would be interesting to know how many businesses located in Abbotsford because of lower ICI rates.
In my November 30, 2012 Blog entitled “What Should Our Water Rates Be”, a number of principles were listed that should be considered and applied to the sewer rates;
- Every sewer user pays the same rate per m3.
- Sewer rates must cover the cost of operating the system, including amortization (allows for capital replacement over the asset’s life).
- A utility is supposed to operate on a break-even basis. Therefore, the Sewer Fund should not be generating a $1.6 million surplus (2011), UNLESS specifically approved by Council for an identifiable project(s).
- A uniform sewer rate should be based on affordable and sustainable budgets and capital plans…which should eliminate annual rate increases of 40% (as in 2008). The City needs proper long-term financial planning which is affordable and sustainable.
Sewer rates increased by 95% since 2008 and are scheduled to rise by an additional 5% per year for each of the next 5 years. These are significant rate increases that are inconsistent with the rate of inflation and out of touch with the current state of our local economy.
This is an area that needs further review in order to understand what is driving these significant operating increases.