Monday, 5 March 2018

Nelson Community Solar Garden

Quite conceivably the project as is now/there - since mid-June 2017 - won't survive another 10 years.

Not to get into deep-tech here - the average local can only find bewildering - this post keeps it short, simple and reasonable, based on the images presented - not necessarily in order of chronological pro/regression.
The general lack of awareness has been nurtured at/around City Hall with an unwillingness to open all relevant data, held close to the chest by Alex Love, Nelson Hydro; Carmen Proctor, Consultant and Kevin Cormack, CAO.

The following does not go into projected or realized financial results.
Good grief ... no!

The Garden's Improbability
Council approving without understanding it - or trying to;
The usual Nelsonites eager to see themselves/be seen at the forefront of daring new-whatever: Where do I sign, take my money! Please! 
An unsuitable environment;
Cost-cutting measures prompting flawed installation by an inexpert contractor: disregarding crucial engineering requirements.

Unsuitable Environment
a. Fog
Because of the dam fog is a given in the area during spring and summer. Lessening the yield of sunlight harvested in the Garden's solar panels - fog burned-off by about 11:00am.

b. Site
While not the original/only choice - this is too small. Where engineering plans stipulate a space of 6 meters between 2 rows of panels - the space here is cut by/to 3 meters. Meaning: one row casts a shadow on the next. The lower the sun - the more shadow.
Then - there's the dancing power-pole, preventing absorption wherever it dances!
The first/very-top image is from Dec 17, 2018/10:00am: with still no sun at the site, while already strong in the background. 

So - all-in-all - it's not that the sun isn't trying: the choice of location and installation is just not inviting it in.

Power-yield from the Garden-as-is-where-when - here transposed into sun-hours to make it visual:
Dec '17 - 10 sun-hours
Jan '18 - 12 sun-hours
Feb '18 - 27 sun-hours
The total, while this power can only be available in received fits and starts. Yet with prior due diligence - choosing an appropriate location/installation - there could be substantially more. Even during winter months.

In a private solar-panel set-up - not far from the Garden - installed on appropriate galvanized metal-mounting and concrete sono-tubes below the frost-line - the necessary alignment faces no frost-heaving or movement such as that occurring in the Nelson Garden. It also is completely open to the sun all around, all day long.

While the Garden's solar panels should be installed by experts on metal-mounting similar to that above - below it is done by a timber-working company on wooden frames, resting on concrete mount-blocks. 
These blocks are set on unsecured gravel-beds flattened with a basic hand-push plate-tamper, instead of the engineer-specified somewhat costly 1800 lb vibratory compactor.

Any misalignment of panels thus far - visually exemplified here in uneven spacing between them and at their bottoms - is due to mount-blocks settling individually, with warping of frames through that as well as moisture-saturation.
Causing pressure-and-pull on panels, their fastenings - each other - to probably have them fall off and/or explode.

There usually is no manufacturer's warranty on inexpertly installed panels. 

Because of the interconnect of all construction components: there is no way to stop the move down the gravel-pit.
Only starting all over again expertly in a suitable location would do.

An overall lack of visionary depth of the project, unreasonable financial projections and the poor - mostly cost-quashed - planning and installation are certain to prevent the Nelson Community Solar Garden from producing a bountiful harvest for investors - ever.

Oh well...

Without me "belonging" to any social media: number of visitors to this post -


Alex Love, Nelson Hydro

Kevin Cormack, CAO

Deb Kozak, Mayor

City Council  

Saturday, 17 February 2018

High-School Confidential

West Kootenay teacher reprimanded for threatening, shaming students
                                                    Tyler Harper - Nelson Star, Feb 1, 2018

Following is a letter to the Star, in response to online comments/commenting on this article being closed to readers after only a few days.

The letter ends up published almost unrecognizable. Observations critical of the Star's reporting are omitted; much of what is left has been reworked off-point. 
Gary Poignant's uberediting lacks journalistic integrity.

Letter to the Editor
As reported - the reprimand of Dec. 2017 is for "several confrontations in classes that left his students feeling threatened and embarrassed."

It is not clear if all "his" students felt threatened and embarrassed or just the 5 who seemingly complained, 2015-16.
This is crucial - yet clearly no students were interviewed for this article.
Neither was the teacher.

While he may have been somewhat over the top in the listed incidents, mechanics and hockey-players feeling threatened, embarrassed, humiliated, shamed in them seems somewhat over the top as well.

Whining teenagers and frustrated teachers are all-too-familiar characters in today's high-school drama - but the article completely fails to develop these.

It is so poorly researched - and not at all reasoned - that readers were possibly lining up with comments.
But within days, (according to Harper) - "Comments were closed because several were defaming both the teacher as well as affected students."
If "several" were defamatory - others obviously were not, and those should be posted as long as it takes.

(To the public) The Star just chucked in the whole thing because it was too-rocking-the-boat for them, while Facebook - paid for dealing with Black Press commenting ... actually is behind this bit of censorship in Smallishtown.

End of letter

Sharing Your Locker!
The Facebook connection works like this:
Non-believers can't post Star comments unless they become Facebook converts. Once in the fold, logging in below the item to be commented on will allow this and having the comment appear on Facebook as well.
Facebook is in charge, and a commenter posting something determined crossing-the(ir)-line is identified and filed away in Zuck's mind-palace: there forever!
"Several" crossing-the(ir)-line comments led to the programmed decision to discontinue commenting altogether on this article at very out-of-town Facebook Central, according to very out-of-town criteria. With the Star not really there there.

Facebook manipulating the Nelson public's opinion!
Facebook censoring what we read and write! 

Also see posts
Facebook Intimacy 
13 Mar, 2017
4 Oct, 2016

My Teacher Doesn't Like Me! 
Heavily leaning towards EW!!! BAD TEACHER!!! - while not taking into account the reality of high-school life today (Anti-Bullying Day in Nelson!?) - the article itself - dealing with stuff from 2 years ago - is actually "defaming" and "shaming" the teacher widely in our area through Black Press: it presents neither independently sourced evidence nor his own story.

It seems highly irresponsible of SD8 Superintendent Christine Perkins to have superficially discussed - thus the post/letter - with Reporter Tyler Harper the teacher's official "... signed consent resolution agreement with the BC Commissioner for Teacher Regulation in which he acknowledged 5 instances of improper conduct ..." and both having no qualms in sensationalizing this obviously no-way-out confession of sins - in public.

All around - what about privacy concerns, what about empathy? 
What can students learn from this?

Also - leading the article with a large photo of L.V. Rogers automatically points at the school as a place where this stuff happened (happens?), while not identifying it as such-or-not specifically. 

Where is the editing in this write-up?

I Hate School!
While the above article is presented as a singular aberration - a context for it may be found in the article below, 2 weeks later. Although the same reporter fails to see/produce a connection publicly.

          Number of students graduating from Grade 12 on the decline 
                                             Tyler Harper - Nelson Star, Feb 14, 2018

Reading this one might imagine rampant frustration among teachers. Plural!

Because what we do learn is that the SD8-Kootenay Lake graduation rate has dropped 3% to 69% - while during the same period the provincial rate has risen from 83% to 84%. More perplexing yet is the contrast between SD8 and SD20 (Trail, Castlegar), with a graduation-rate there of 93%.
Graduating aboriginal students here decreased 10% to 58%, and special-needs students were down 9% to 49%.

Granted - Perkins only recently inherited this mess from Jeff Jones, yet there are records, reports; admin staff supposedly has not changed. Mind you - the latter could also be part of the problem. She now being "shocked" shows a lack of preparedness for the job here, and "we want to go from average to amazing" is unrealistic P.R. - we need to move up towards average first!

Perkins saying "there's no one reason for the declining numbers" - and promptly providing none at all - seems to mean she doesn't have a clue. And Harper doesn't pick up on this.

"Right now the plan, according to Perkins, is to take a close look at each student individually to make sure they are on track to graduate."

Towards an excellent supermarket job? And who will take this individual close look but - of course! - the teachers: now to become specialists in raging hormones with no matter how much MORE skill, time and patience that takes. In not enough classes for ever-plugged-in, predictably feckless teens.

While teachers are just trying to make it through one more day: who is going to take a close look at their individual needs?

A close look should be a given at any time, and presenting it as an epiphany places local education back in the dark ages. With Perkins seemingly not grasping: any permanent positive changes need to be based in a complete system-overhaul. Cleaning house: without that the graduation-rate can't move anywhere but further down. 

Readers'/parents'/teachers' comments/responses on both seriously wanting Star write-ups are crucial. Generally for the sake of area-education - and specifically for one of them as a mindless hatchet-job, liable to destroy an unsupported while stressed-out teacher's life.

This Star don't twinkle!


Tyler Harper, Reporter

Gary Poignant, Editor

Eric Lawson, Publisher

Board of Education       

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Bridging The Gap

Jaques Cartier Bridge 
Montreal, Canada

For some time the idea for this has been facing me every morning I walk in Lakeside Park. Those who drive may ignore the bridge as such - those who walk certainly don't.

Also - a recent report in the Star lists the 20 most promising Canadian places to visit in 2018. No - not Nelson. All represented by a single picture - the one of Montreal is the lit Jaques Cartier Bridge above.

Han River Bridge
Danang, Vietnam

Despite the often over-the-top claims to being special: Nelson's urban attractions are few.
And we lack a visually distinctive core-structure - marker - to identify the City to outsiders - tourists. Before they come.

Nelson's Eiffel Tower sort of thing. Unique!

Our "heritage" buildings are visually generic, varying little from those of other BC towns. We have also known for some time that Nelson never actually wins the title of "most arty small town in Canada" - this claim "phoned-in" from here to the author of the infamous book claiming so. At the time he has never been to Nelson.

Astrid Heyerdahl, Touchstones - stating this most-artiest as a fact in her recent budget-proposal - shows the paucity of outstanding urban attractions.

This central space to possibly become the visual/cultural heart of Nelson turns into a condo/supermarket development. Its image now the single-item background of one of the City's web-pages. This also is telling.

While the CPR Station redo is commendable - the building as such is not special, and similar renos have been done elsewhere. Fernie does it with volunteers as a socio-cultural multi-discipline development to give itself a beating heart - 27 years ago.
See post
Fernie: The Arts Station and How It's Done 
8 Feb, 2016

A multi-purpose cultural center for Nelson's Railtown - THE HEART - is first (and several times since) proposed in
14 Dec, 2015
but has yet to be actively considered within the Railtown development.

So - be honest - what's truly unique in this town?



Iron Bridge 
Shropshire, UK 

While the basis of any major undertaking here should - at all times - be creative focus on the economy - we have been comfortably dawdling over coffee. With good enough being good enough inviting stagnation.
Stuck in self-satisfied/limiting local possibilities, any sustainable development for Nelson needs to come from tourism. In the current climate - there has been little movement past whitish heritage ad nauseam, minimal discretionary shopping - and many, many cups!

(I'm not talking snow-bunnies: a different time and place.)

So we must push ourselves and each other into spaces where nothing short of excellence will do - as a way of life! 
Breaking out of our comfy comfort-zone!
Daring to think big! 

International Peace Bridge 
Canada/US Border 

A visually daring statement-structure is a start - not only visible within Nelson but also when approaching it from either end. Remember the saw-mill's inevitable plume of smoke? Like that - but positive!

It's already there and frequently used in advertising as symbol of Nelson: the (incorrectly referred to as) Orange Bridge.

Shabby-looking in faded two-tone pink, it's currently just a habit needing to be crossed coming/going at the City's north-end.


Harbour Bridge
Sydney, Australia

But imagine it painted: one strong, clean color emphasizing its structure during the day!
Imagine it lit in a brilliant multi-color design at night! And the buzz of crossing it day-or-night, being inside it!
Imagine walking/sitting in Lakeside Park in the evening, listening to intimate live-music performances on the beach - the bridge providing a splendid background!
Imagine its magic even in the rain, a snow-storm!

"At the bridge" becoming a destination. For locals and tourists.

Its image (and imaginative use) recognized far-reaching. And taken home - advertising Nelson - on t-shirts, postcards, trinkets.
An economic blast(-off)!

Picture yourself looking at a single image each representing 5 BC tourism-towns. Heritage-whatever and hanging flower-baskets.The usual. Except one showing a colorfully lit bridge. Which draws your attention?

Enough already with mud-puddle-colored repression: a bright high-energy spark brings the local psyche alive. To eventually even lighting heritage-buildings downtown. Forget Xmas lighting - it's all in the year-around streetscape! 
(Another story!)


Tower Bridge
London, UK

While the Rotarians have earlier considered lighting the bridge - this should be taken on collaboratively with the City, it having access to resources the Rotarians haven't. With the bridge run by the Ministry of Transportation, and its highway thundering through town: there is the possibility of a beautiful friendship with benefits between floors in the White Building.


Big Four Bridge
Louisville KY, USA

How Much 
Of course - the predictable initial response for not wanting to act (on this) is: there's no money! This reason is the excuse for countless wonderful ideas out there never seeing the light of day.
Mental sluggishness coupled with fear of succeeding!

Which by the way and conceivably could become the reason for Nelson never growing further than it has: a town with pretensions, aiming for solid mediocrity.

Some time ago the figure of 100K+ is mentioned as a possible price-tag for lighting the bridge. Even if it should be more: what is Nelson's sustained future worth to Nelson?

For some perspective: consider the way over 100K already sunk into (remember the?) Cottonwood Market we have yet to see and probably still not finished paying for.

The door to a focused future: willingness to be exceptional!


Bin He Bridge
Yinchan, China

Deb Kozak, Mayor

City Council

Pam Mierau, Manager - Development Services

Alex Thumm, Development Analyst

Sydney Black, Executive Director - Nelson and District Arts Council  

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Parking (the) Lot!

There has been much tweaking of Nelson's parking-spaces/fees for some time: most meeting with a strong backlash from those who park. Or want to.

Now we are to have commuter-parking for a fixed fee on Cedar. With this concept arguable: the only public input possible - while indirect and late - is after the City's presentation to Council, in comments following online write-ups in both local papers. There and probably on facebook.

Some days later, this item in the Star has mysteriously disappeared - together with its comments. The explanation is unsatisfactory. 

These comments - emphatic and poignantly questioning - ought to be real-time food for thought to the new wave at City Hall in charge of re-configuring parking for Nelson. Deja voo all over again!

Following are examples of what has increasingly irked the public parking-wise over years. To make them less receptive to new parking-bits. 
Just rearranging the furniture won't do any longer.

While all those outside City Hall could get behind a parkade!


Park This! #1
When - Mar, 2014 - the Co-op applies to Council for a Nelson Commons parking-variance: this is a mere formality - because Dave Wahn, Manager of Development Services & Sustainability and Approving Officer, as well as the Co-op's enthusiastic flag-bearer at City Hall, has been working on this for a considerable time prior to the application. Ostensibly (coincidentally nudge-nudge!) reworking downtown-parking.

But really just running a show of smoke and mirrors. Seeing that the Co-op is going to ask for the required almost 200 parking-spaces to be cut by half - he will simply make spaces downtown shorter and narrower all the way down the rabbit-hole. Thus create more spaces elsewhere. The genius of it!
Council happily clucks its no-questions-asked approval. Followed by Wahn's so-there! comment after the fact: people will just have to buy smaller cars; this is the trend anyway. Cross my heart - he does say that!

Today's statistics have it: the demand for larger SUVs/trucks has been increasing steadily, so there!

Now the Co-op's 37 aboveground spaces frequently are full, while its underground-parking - entered/exited only driving east on Vernon - is cumbersome and disliked by customers.

Meaning: aboveground parking is overflowing into the neighborhood. Who would have known! Possibly even onto the just one block away Cedar stretch, now to be turned into fixed-fee commuter-parking.

Wahn's scheme to make downtown parking-spaces shorter and narrower dies quietly with Council's approval of the variance. So - when the current Development Services team talks about a general parking-redo: they are stuck with significant Co-op parking-reverberations in the downtown-core.

Almost 100 parking-spaces gone - thanks to City Hall!

Also see post
Dave Wahn, Prince Variant 
4 Mar, 2014

Park This! #2
A price-increase of the seniors' parking-pass is approved by the current Council, without regard for those seniors - 20 Feb, 2017. This creates a s**t-storm of major proportions. Mayor Kozak's comment "Although some seniors live on fixed incomes, others have more money than many young people" is not helpful. A definitive "some" and "many".
Showing the disconnect between City Hall and this rapidly growing segment of Nelson's population. Duly noted and loudly expressed. By seniors. Who promise to remember come election-time.

Also see post
Seniors' Parking-Pass Increase
21 Feb, 2017


Park This! #3
After the sort-of completion of Hall St Phase 1 - the very downtown-core stretch of Hall between Herridge and Vernon has free parking for 42 cars, over the course of about 1 year. Meaning a significant loss of revenue, which could be applied to the same road-repairs the seniors' parking-pass increase supposedly is meant for - but who cares! Not City Hall!
Also meaning: just around the corner from Hall - on Baker and Vernon - people not only have to feed meters: seniors do it with their increase and the general public with an upped to $1.25.

Again see post
Seniors' Parking-Pass Increase
21 Feb, 2017

Park Council
While parking in Nelson has been a - literally - fundamental issue for decades, it has never been acknowledged constructively as that by City Hall and/or any Council. For the sake of future economic viability of the City - with increasing tourism a vital part - this must change consciously: growth on any level necessitates more cars, buses, trucks - and places for them to be left. 

When Hall St Phase 2 is presented to Council for approval-or-not - even though the presentation is superficial and incomplete - Council shows few concerns and little interest. Approval of this thing seems yet another foregone conclusion. Until a couple of parking-spaces down there raise their energy-level righteously. They claim those spaces and promptly approve Phase 2
Everybody happy now?

Yet certainly not these feelgood-lite spaces nor even the 21 on Cedar address current and inevitably larger future transportation concerns - private or commercial. 
Our geographic urban constraints demand a parkade downtown - nothing less. With willingness as step one: a vision will coalesce, and the money will follow. 

Everything else - no matter how well intended - is just more tweaking of already locked-in-for-good (for-bad, really) circumstances.

Also see post
Park(ade) This!
27 May, 2016


Image Credits -

Alex Thumm, Planning Analyst

Pam Mierau, Development Manager

Deb Kozak,Mayor

City Council

Kevin Cormack, CAO      

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Chamber of Doom

"Fifty-two local businesses signed a letter to city council asking to put a pin in its downtown revitalization plans until several issues, including parking congestion, panhandling, drug-use and graffiti, were addressed."

"Competing with online shopping and chain stores is made extra difficult, the letter said "if our customer (1) struggles to find parking, (2) is accosted for money by an aggressive panhandler, (3) trips over people sleeping on the sidewalk and then (4) walks through a cloud of marijuana smoke, all the while observing (5) the general decay of the ambience on their way to a store."

                     2017's top stories No. 6: Businesses decry downtown plans
                                               Tyler Harper - Nelson Star, Dec. 28, 2017

(6) "We are not indifferent to the plight of marginalized people."

A Letter to the Mayor, Council and Residents
can be found in the
May 5, 2017
Page 28  

Following are thoughts on the 6 salient points above. The rest of the letter goes on and on, with reasonable-us signees - in a roundabout way - blaming the City and customers for all that ails them in their downtown-world. Yet one must wonder how many of them actually read, digested and retained this. 
We've had most before in chunks, over time. 
Even though 52 may look impressive - a large number of familiar downtown-names are not listed. Neither is the origin of this proclamation - really - stated formally or referred to in the text.
So - even if Mayor, Council and Residents wanted to communicate: what's with this group?

1. Parking - A Human Right
Until all Railtown is turned into a parking-lot, or a parkade is built at Baker/Fall: Deal with it, drivers! There is parking - just not always exactly in front of where you want to go. That you find at the mall!

With shopping/parking often a twin-issue - a rhetorical question: Why doesn't the Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce (NDCC) once-and-for-all get out of its entitlement-mode and promote developing a doable model, instead of just whinge about this age-old fatburger inconvenience.

Parking-yoga at its CP Station? Parking Anonymous? A walk in the park?

2. Aggressive Discrimination
There is no aggressive panhandling! Never has been! Even non-aggressive panhandling - considering social iniquities province-wide - has been minimal and low-key.

The NDCC started this bit of fear-mongering with an initiative hatched by its top-tier decision-makers - not the general membership - promptly followed by Kevin Cormack, CAO, putting a panhandling-bylaw to Council. Without any factual documentation whatsoever from the NDCC/City substantiating a need.
Council rightly shelved such bylaw until - while not questioning its dubious origin and path.

This has never been about panhandling but the CAO's obsessive Euw!!! towards our unndesirables - who don't shop much either, wink-wink - to cleanse Nelson of them by any means.

3. Sidewalk Slumber
This is particularly creepy: A delightful shopping-experience could be marred by the happily spending shopper having to step over some undesirables guilty of not having any money for shopping - or food or shelter.

Nelson's haves (wanting more!) and have-nots (needing some!).

4. Blowing Smoke...
The rare whiff - from local desirables, too - but no "clouds". And not to forget - today's Nelson is totally based in quite recent, highly lucrative (trickled-down to the same 52) area dope-cultivation.
Marijuana has given this city whatever momentum it has. And clearly is in the process of losing, with no decisive grand vision to propel it forward.

Will the NDCC court marijuana dispensaries to become dues-paying members?

5. Ambient Decay
Are they talking Blade Runner here? Granted: downtown facades and awnings have needed painting and washing for years. But building-owners among the 52 are responsible for that. We are not going to rerun the '80s with all kinds of funny-money!

Signees even admit their own complacency by writing "Without exception every business and person listed below feels that we have let downtown incrementally decay in recent years." Like - thus far have attempted absolutely nothing towards improving the ambience of the area in which they do business. The ambience they are complaining about.

Hyperventilating in numbers now may make them feel good for a while. But ultimately: if everybody is responsible - nobody is responsible. The NDCC clearly is not ready to run the show.

There was an appropriate time for thoughtfully constructive input before the revitalization-plan was given more formal shape. 
Where were the intrepid 52 then?

6. We Love Street People! Really!
According to Points 2 - 5 it is obvious that they indeed "are not indifferent to the plight of marginalized people". To the point of largely blaming them elsewhere in this exhausting letter for downtown's "decay".

Now What - So What!
Businesses have reason to be worried about "online shopping and chain stores": thanks to their NDCC still waiting to see profit-margins magically upped, those including their customers' - fools they! - tax-dollars.

Most recent example: the NDCC's disinclination to decisively push downtown shop-owners into a concerted Xmas-cheer effort.
Even though for their own benefit!

None of these businesses are in the business of employing locals and paying taxes. They're in it to make money for themselves. The more successful they are - the more minimum-wage help they need, and the more taxes they pay.
That's how that works!

One hopes Council will remember the NDCC's here at best repetitious and at worst offensive posturing when it comes to next-time funding!

Shop Local?


Tom Thomson, NDCC

Deb Kozak, Mayor

City Council

Kevin Cormack, CAO

Pam Mierau, Development Services