Saturday, March 23, 2013

New Blog Launched!

This blog has been migrated to All posts have been moved and newer posts are available as of March 23, 2013.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Libertarian View

Freedom of speech is a fundamental right for all people. The hardest thing to do is protect that right for people you don't agree with.  Even if the statements of others are directed as hate against me,  I will put my own life on the line to defend their right to speak their truth. Censorship is a very slippery slope.  The voice you silence today might be the only one listening when you speak tomorrow.

Freedom of expression in Canada is guaranteed by section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: 2.

"Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: ...

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication"

Everyone has this right.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

SkyTrain - Broadway Corridor

March 10 I attended an open house meeting with Mayor Gregor Robertson and councillor Geoff Meggs.  The meeting was filled to capacity and there were some great people in the audience.  NDP politician Mike Harcourt was there as was Constance Barnes.

Before passing any opinion on this matter, I would like to say thank you to all the citizens who gave up a few hours on their Sunday to come down and express their opinions.  This is indeed how democracy needs to work and it is great to see so many exercising their rights.  I appreciated hearing from the people for and the people against the plans.

The presentation went very well and I thought Councilor Meggs made a very eloquent and data driven presentation that would have lead anyone to the logical conclusion that the SkyTrain is needed and the best option is to tunnel under Broadway, primarily to reduce the devastation of the cut and cover techniques used on Cambie.   Based on the congestion alone, it appears we need to invest into the future.  I myself have been passed up on the 99B or very near the last person allowed on a totally packed bus.  I was surprised to find a very sizeable opposition to the project in the hall and listened to hear their concerns.

NIMBY - the Not In My Back Yard opposition is very typical and for those living right next to the projects, is justifiable.  During the construction of the Cambie street line (Canada Line), the local residents had major problems, several businesses failed and more.  I noticed some patterns of activity that I will elaborate on later.  A second set of concerns concluded that along with Skytrain we will get a lot of big box retailers displacing the local businesses.  A tangent on this is the worry that with the prosperity promised from Skytrain, the local real estate prices will continue to soar, something that does worry a lot of people in this riding.

By far the the most compelling reason against is the cost.  When asked directly, Mayor Robertson told the audience that the cost is $2.8 billion for a tunnel approach.  I took the liberty of checking the official Translink website ( I am a data geek) and found that the projected cost is actually $3.2 billion.  There are conflicting bits of information on this.  For example, this page ( ) states the cost is $3.0 billion for the RRT version.  This page paints it at $2.8 billion ( while the Globe and Mail pegs it at #2 billion. I also had seen another number of $3.2 billion which seems to have since been removed from the Translink website but the Vancouver Sun, of which I would believe the reporters did proper homework, reported the $3.2 billion number too at  This really doesn't matter as much as the fact that BC is now at record levels of debt.  Still, asking how we will pay for this is a very just question and one that needs to be answered honestly.  We are broke and in debt.  You cannot borrow your way out of debt.

I am running for office and one of the things I will promise you is that if elected, I will never take what I am told for granted and will do my homework.  I find it worrying that the raw data of the budget is not public and that there is a $400 million discrepancy.

So where do I stand?  This is a complex issue and here is what I would like to see.

1. Some research to understand the real cost and also the track records of those who are doing the estimates.  I would welcome an understanding of whether of not the estimates are provided by people and processes that have proven accurate or inaccurate.   If these people have been wrong in the past, we, the people , have a right to know.  One of the core policies of the BC Conservative Party is that we believe government must be transparent and accountable to the people.  We are all expected to balance our budgets in a given fiscal cycle.  Is this too much to ask of our elected officials?

2. I would like to understand the tendering process (the process by which we award the contract  and understand how many BC jobs are involved.  Are we sole sourcing it?  If we are, why and are we locking out local companies?

3. I would like to understand the options for private funding and operation to see if they are acceptable. Maybe private enterprise can help cushion the costs?  This needs a lot of work before it could be proposed but it does seem to be a valid question.

4. We, the BC Conservative Party, actually listen to people when they speak and share concerns about the potential to disrupt the character of the neighbourhood.  In particular however, the re-zoning and number of re-development applications is a separate issue.   Saying yes to SkyTrain does not equate directly to allowing big box stores to take over small family run businesses.  I also want to see a contingency fund in place to help any businesses hurt by the process.  I also want to understand why there seems to have been an acceleration in development along the corridor prior to the SkyTrain being formally approved?  On the few blocks around my house I have seen many new development signs going on and it does make me a little uneasy.

5. I would like to understand the full environmental impact.  Many people complain about the fact that our government is no where near meeting its' 2020 GHG obligations and the SkyTrain project may actually have the capacity to help meet that target.  The Canada line, for example, carried 38 million passengers last year which is a lot less car trips.

In general, despite the high cost, it is a project I think can be beneficial to the entire corridor but there are some conditions that need to be met.  Politicians must listen to their constituents and I applaud every politician who took time to attend and listen.  I believe we have learned from Cambie and the Canada Line experience and can mitigate many of the concerns.

I remain in favor of the SkyTrain, contingent upon the concerns of residents being satisfied.  We need to reduce GHG emissions, the existing system is at capacity and the future needs to be planned for now.  For anyone who does not believe the system is at capacity, please experience boarding a 99B bus between 8-11:00 AM or 3-7 PM.

I am doing some more research on this and will post it on this blog as it becomes available.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Higher income tax for Vancouver - Point Grey

I had just written about my concerns with the new Provincial budget and the propensity to tax the high income earners.  While I thought this would come from the NDP, it turns out that it is coming from the Liberals.  According to Mike DeJong, if you make a higher amount of income, you will pay more.

He also says Doctor's can expect less income, schooling will remain flat and a number of other measures.  Family friendly?  West Point Grey- Kitsilano residents are the key family demographic.  Of course our Premier sends her kids to private schools but most of our kids go to public schools that have Asbestos in the main hallways and are at the highest risk of collapse in a seismic event.

We, as British Columbian's, must pay close attention to this budget.  This is our children's futures we are talking about.  This is our future.  If our children are not given a proper education and are relegated to menial labour jobs, how can we expect a tax base to support our retirement?  We will be at the mercy of large multinational corporations who seek our resources.    So how do we do that without raising taxes?

Smarter spending is part of the answer.  Our children do not need smart meters or fast ferries.  We do not need $15 million taxpayer funded government advertising campaign.  We do not need a Carbon Tax that neither reduces carbon or invests in renewable energy.   We do not need to subsidize special interest groups or business.  

We do need asbestos free environments for our children to go to school in.  Is prioritizing this too much to ask?

March 8 - International Women's Day

Today, Friday March 8, 2013 is international women's day.  This is a globally observed day of recognition of the history, contributions and plight of women around the world.  People celebrate it differently in different countries.

In some countries women are celebrating the right to get an education.
In some countries they are celebrating their right to be equal.
In BC, some women will be preparing to March for equality.

Tomorrow morning a large group of us will be marching for our rights and equality.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Carbon Tax does not reduce GHG nor does it Invest in Renewables.

I believe strongly in protecting the environmental.   I have been advocating using less petroleum for decades.  I have argued for better alternatives for Canada and other countries, working within various organizations    We have alternatives and we have better ways to reduce pollution of all types.  I commute on bikes more than cars and do everything I can to leave a smaller footprint in terms of energy used.

This week I have started looking at the 2012 BC Budget and the Carbon Tax and made a startling realization.  The Carbon Tax, as written, is:

1. Not reducing carbon or GHG emission (this is an eye opener for sure);
2. Not causing any investment into Renewable energy sources; and
3. Is merely a tax that "redistributes" wealth.  It is "revenue neutral" meaning it does not put money into government coffers.

In fact, the 2012 BC Budget actually budgeted more carbon to be spewed into the air hence more revenue.   Don't believe my interpretation however.  Read the 2012 budget at  Here is an excerpt:

Carbon tax – as announced in Budget 2008, the carbon tax rate per tonne of CO2 - equivalent will increase by $5 each year to $30 per tonne by July 1, 2012. The forecast  assumes that purchased volumes of natural gas will grow by 2.0 per cent annually,  while consumption of gasoline is expected to remain constant. Revenue is expected  to increase in line with these higher rates and assumed volume growth.

I went to read the rest of the Carbon tax propaganda and found the projections for 2012-2015 (use this link and look at page 68).

So are other political parties telling us that the carbon tax is working when it is not?  Or are the 2012-2015 BC Budgets based on flawed assumptions?   Either one of these statements could be true but they cannot logically both be true.  It appears the worst case scenario has happened and neither one is true.

Most of the claims that it works come from three studies, of which I will contend may be flawed.   The costs of which will inevitably be passed off to you and I, the consumers of anything that is affected by the rise in the price of petroleum.  Additionally, this carbon tax will put BC businesses at a disadvantage in a global economy yet will not stop the emissions of carbon.  I am not the only one to notice this.  People are waking up all over.

While the government is claiming that we have let less GHG's into the air than other provinces between 2008-2010, even accounting for some of the general economic recession, they never factored in the completion of the Canada Line of Skytrain that carries really 40,000,000 riders per year (source: Translink)  and the ceasing of cement production when our Olympic Infrastructure was completed.

Some Facts:

The claim is that between 2008-2010 the GHG gas emissions fell by 4.5% in BC.

The facts do not support this.  Greenhouse gases are measured by volume and are correlated to various GHG emitting products manufacture or consumption.  The algorithm used is linear.  While it is possible that the manufacture of concrete and use of fossil fuels actually did fall by 4.5% in that period, the general economy sank by 2.3% in 2009 alone, construction went from a 6.4% growth in 2008 to a 5.3% reduction in 2009 alone and retail sales fell by almost 5%.  This chart is from Statistics Canada data.

Again - go and look at the source -

It might be time to start over.  BC is part of a global economy and a global environment.  We have a commitment to everyone on this planet to help reign in pollution.  Using less energy in our daily lives can have an impact and we need proactive programmes that actually develop renewable energy policies.

I have been lucky enough to work with the US Department of Energy and visionaries like Saul Griffith.  If you want to get some facts, watch Saul's talks on Climate Change Revisited.

Saul Griffith: Climate Change Recalculated from The Long Now Foundation on

Saul is bright and has done a lot to change the world for the better.  One thing we discussed at great length was where change is most effective.  The problem is that change is often not most effective at the National level.  The Provincial level, for large infrastructure projects, is where change may be best directed.  Some examples of this are Sky Train and Hydro-electric power projects.   The myth that solar energy can save BC is just that.  Doing the net calculations on manufacturing the solar panels will often show a less than favorably return, certainly short of our needs.  We are blessed with an abundance of cheap, renewable energy sources and a smart and innovative population.  Wind, Hydro, Geothermal and Solar used in combination can be very effective but reducing GHG's requires a reduction in the use of hydrocarbons period.  Replacing cheap and plentiful Hydro-electric power with solar power may actually cause more pollution given it is the energy produced is replacing green energy and not targeting hydrocarbons.

We have the ability to also develop Geothermal energy.  While serving on the US DOE's National Geothermal Data System as a technical monitor, I noticed that the heat flow potential for Geothermal energy seems to increase as it goes northward into BC.

What can you do?

We can do this.  If done correctly, based on the input of organizations like the BC Sustainable Energy Association (BC SEA), we can create ways to develop renewable energy source, green cement and build green industries.

Join the BC SEA

Vote BC Conservative Party on May 14, 2013.  We will try to repeal the Carbon tax and replace it with public policy that actually reduces carbon and/or creates renewable energy sources.

Join the BC Conservative Party (Note: we are not the Canadian Progressive Conservative party) -

Do not believe the parties that tell you the Carbon Tax is working as it is.  It is clearly not.

Be a scientist!  Ask questions and educate yourself.

We have alternatives.  No more faux taxes.  Let's take real action.

Help us fix this.  Join our cause and donate.  Be part of a solution.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Why Spending Smarter Matters

Today the BC Conservative Party launched a news release entitled Spending Smarter.  The news release lightly describes three fundamental initiatives that will give provincial legislators, and hence the people of BC, the tools they need to rigorously examine government spending both before and after public monies are spent.

Here is the text from the news release.

1. The BC Conservatives will reverse the trend of reducing the number of ‘votes’ in the Budget Estimates each Spring, and re-institute a thorough analysis of financial outlays before they are made. In recent decades, the number of Estimates votes has fallen from around 250, to as low as 58. The Ministry of Health – which this year will spend $16.5 billion – has dropped from 16 votes to just one. The number of Estimates votes in each annual Budget will be significantly increased under the BC Conservatives, thereby increasing scrutiny.

 2. A new Legislative Budget Office will be established. The office will provide MLAs with independent analyses of complex financial and economic data, thereby giving them greater means to scrutinize public expenditures.

3. The BC Conservatives will fundamentally revamp the Fall sitting of the Legislative Assembly. Focus will shift from passing or amending legislation, to reviewing and overseeing the expenditure of public monies by the government, Crown corporations and the SUCH sector – schools, universities, colleges and hospitals.


Why is this important?

The Spending Smarter initiative is intended to eliminate the persistent deficits that have plagued Victoria in recent decades, and begin the long, slow process of reversing the growth of B.C.’s debt.  At the same time, I personally believe that it gives more parties the necessary input and holds government accountable for their actions.

I am not by nature a mud-slinger but the current status quo needs to be challenged.  This is our money, not theirs, and you and I have a right (not a privilege but a fundamental right) to have our duly elected officials scrutinize and oversee the BC Budget.  The more input we have, the better.

Revamping the fall sitting to provide greater fiduciary insight into the budget is also a direction I favour.      While the details around the Legislative Budget Office are vague

Final thoughts?

Remember, Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA's), by definition, must represent the people.  May 14, 2013 is a General Election in BC.  The government spends our money.  If you are unhappy with the way our province has been governed and want to change it, or want more of the same, this is your time to vote.  Register to vote at

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Get Involved with the Broadway SkyTrain Discussion

The facts:

Translink, the Provincial and Municipal governments and others are contemplating building a Skytrain extension to UBC from the Vancouver Community College station.

The projected costs will be around $3.2 billion for a ~12 km extension.  

Projections and benefits:

According to Translink, the Broadway - UBC corridor extension to the Skytrain will carry over 75,000 riders per day.  The Broadway corridor has North America's busiest bus line according to the Vancouver Vision Party.   Currently the corridor takes over 100,000 riders per day via bus.

Keeping people moving in a green and efficient manner is a challenge with large benefits to our economy.  The status quo of clogged, congested traffic arteries is not going to work for the long term. 

Get involved:

Mayor Gregor Robertson and Councillor Geoff Meggs are hosting an open house on Sunday March 10 from 2pm to 4pm at St James Community Hall to discuss this topic.  They will invite questions from the audience to begin a dialogue about how to get the Provincial and Federal governments on board with a Broadway Subway.

What: Public Forum on a Subway along Broadway
Where: St James Community Hall - 3214 W 10th Ave
When: Sunday March 10, 2pm-4pm


Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - Anti Bullying Day

Today is Pink Shirt day.  It made me feel good to take my kids to school to a sea of pink.  To understand the impact of bullying, use Google and search for Amanda Todd.  Also visit .

Rather than write, this brilliant songs from one of my all time favorite Canadian bands, Billy Talent says it all.

Nothing to Lose
(c) Billy Talent -

Need more friends with wings
All the angels I know
Put concrete in my veins
I’d always walk home alone
So I became lifeless Just like my telephone

 There’s nothing to lose
When no one knows your name
There’s nothing to gain
But the days don’t seem to change

 Never played truth or dare
I’d have to check my mirror
To see if I’m still here
My parents had no clue
That I ate all my lunches
Alone in the bathroom

 There’s nothing to lose
When no one knows your name
There’s nothing to gain
But the days don’t seem to change
There’s nothing to lose
My notebook will explain
There’s nothing to gain
And I can’t fight the pain

 Teachers said "It's just a phase"
When I grow up my children
Will probably do the same
Kids just love to tease
Who'd know it put me underground at seventeen

 There’s nothing to lose
When no one knows your name
There’s nothing to gain
But the days don’t seem to change
There’s nothing to lose
My notebook will explain
There’s nothing to gain
And I can’t fight the pain
There’s nothing to lose
When no one knows your name
There’s nothing to gain
 But the days don't seem to change
 There’s nothing to lose
When no one knows your name
There’s nothing to gain
And I just died today

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Feb 24, a Dark Day in History for Canada

It was February 24, when Japanese Canadians were denied some very basics rights.  On this day in history, the Canadian government, under the leadership of Prime Minister King, brought forth a number of orders to immediately gather all persons of Japanese origin to “protective areas."  Even those who were 2nd and 3rd generation Canadians, who had fought for this country, were denied the right to own property.   Ten days later, the British Columbia Security Commission removed the first 2500 Japanese to Hastings Park. They were also denied the right to own land or grow their own food.

Within our own province, Ian Mackenzie (Liberal) returned to Cabinet as Minister of National Defence where he had the responsibility for pre-war rearmament.  World War II began in 1939 and MacKenzie was moved to the position of Minister of Pensions and National Health.   This was partially done because of his role in a scandal involving the awarding of a contract to manufacture the Bren Gun (seems to be a pattern within our provincial government). The ultimate shock for me though is that in 1944,  the increasing pressures of war led Prime Minister King to decide to delegate some of his responsibilities in the House of Commons to the new position of Government House Leader, he chose Mackenzie as the first MP to hold that responsibility. During the war, Mackenzie pandered to anti-Japanese sentiment in British Columbia by declaring to his constituents at his 1944 nomination meeting "Let our slogan be for British Columbia: 'No Japs from the Rockies to the seas.'"

This sounds like fiction from another country three centuries ago.  The fact is that we must never forget our basic humanity.

In a second year on this date, an ironic twist happened.  Tommy Douglas died of cancer on 24 February 1986 at the age of 81 in Ottawa.  Douglas was one of two MP's who opposed the introduction of the War Measures Act in 1970, believing that it took away some basic rights and liberties of Canadians.  The act was introduced and passed in response to the Quebec FLQ crisis.

Both of these events had a similar effect.  We disenfranchised many people for the small actions of a few.  We must recognize that liberty and freedom apply to all in Canada and that it is non-negotiable.  It is a slippery slope when a government starts limiting the rights of it's constituents.  Government must learn to act and no re-act without reason.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

11 Tips for Saving Energy in House Design

I got an email asking about solar and wind options for housing. Since I am planning to build an energy efficient house north of 49 degrees (in Canada) and have done a lot of thinking on this topic, I decided to share the following and now make it available as a blog post.

1. House design is essential. I plan to re-route all hot air evacuations (bathroom fan, kitchen fan, clothes dryer (if we get one) exhaust etc.) into either a thermal bus or to tie them directly to a year round greenhouse to use the thermal energy for growing food.

2. IMPORTANT: Always do the “Net” energy calculations. For example – having cheap, Chinese made solar powered, LED lights to power your walkway instead of investing in a proper system is a waste of time and an affront to the environment if you have to throw out something that broke in one year and took 25 times as much energy to make as it saved. For example, I bought these little solar powered lights at Home Depot, which lasted only about 250 days. When I took them apart, I discovered the culprit – a single AA rechargeable battery was the only power source. These usually do not last more than 250 charging cycles and if you connect one to a daily charge routine, it will burn out in less than a year. Net result: I actually polluted more by buying cheap products to save energy.

3. I also plan to use wood heating with a proper catalytic converter (avoids most carbon pollution) to warm the house on winter days as we have ample wood for cooking etc. The house we are choosing has a small horizontal footprint and is 2.5 stories high, which allows thermal energy to be more efficient.

4. I'm putting the shower and kitchen on the top floor then using a diverter valve to reroute the entire waste water into the flooring for either keeping the house cool in summer or heating in the winter.

5. After the electrical inspectors give the final OK, I am moving to 12 or 24 VDC power for all lighting in the house and possibly some USB outlets. All lighting will be 12/24 VDC LED indirect. This saves tons of energy over trying to convert a 12/24VDC battery array into 110 AC (or in your case 220 VAC, which would be less efficient). Most solar and wind systems use 12 or 24 VDC as the charging output. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed and it is a lossy process to convert energy. The biggest culprit is usually thermal energy as an unwanted byproduct (think of hot transformers). If you must convert, try to capture the byproduct (place the converters in a place that needs heating).

5. My wife and I are investigating thermal heating systems. These seem to make a lot of sense as they can be used in both the summer and winter. In North America, there is an relevant organization that has members; there might be a similar system in the UK -

6. In order to use wind energy in a micro manner, there are lots of manufacturers and the kits are not that hard to figure out. The first thing you have to do is check out the MET office to find out if it will work in your location. Wind speed must be at a minimum of 5 metres per second to work. The Canadian map showed us that in our case, we have sufficient wind.

7. Solar kits are also not that complicated. Study up on it and note the major components – collectors/charge controllers, battery array/inverters or converters then do the calculations. You have to figure out what you want to use the property for before you can plan a system. In our case, assuming we only go there on the weekends, we can go with less collections and a bigger battery array as the battery array will recharge during weekdays. If we lived there full time, we would have to use more collectors. Most manufacturers of repute (Siemens, etc/) will have all the calculations available. There are some good resources online for this too. Here is one:

8. Look into evacuated solar tubes. These work in very low temperatures (as low as –40 degrees Celsius) and can deliver off grid water at 65 degrees Celsius. They work by having no gas (a vacuum) in between the outer tube and the inner collector. This collects energy radiated from the sun without the atmosphere moving the heat away and harvests it via the manifold. These can take care of big things like hot water tanks.

9. If you use your property for weekends only like me, you might want to consider a Linux micro kernel running a small routine that can be used to “wake up” the house. For example, if you have a grid tied-hot water system, you could invoke a cron job that turns your hot water heater on and off remotely so you’re not paying for energy you don’t need. Another option is to move to a EU style JIT hot water heater (tank-less system).

10. For certification, The SRCC (Solar Rating and Certification Corporation) is the key solar collector certifying body for the US and Canada. Make sure everything you use has passed the minimum criteria for this.

11. My thoughts on this are that when I buy my supplies, I want to do it with a company that has been around, been certified and is backed by a manufacturer with a warranty and good history, and someone who has a physical office I can identify and walk into. Too many snake oil vendors on the web.

Help March for Equality - March 9

Equality. This is the subject of today's blog post.  It is only fitting as this day in 1969, Réjane Laberge-Colas was appointed to Quebec Superior Court for the district of Montreal.  She was a Montreal lawyer and became the first woman named to the bench of a Superior Court in Canada.  At the time this was considered a monumental achievement in gender equality.  Later, gender equality was written into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically article twenty eight:
 Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

I support those who stand up for Women’s Equality, Pay Equity, and Child Care.  As such, I am supporting the march to draw attention to the value of child care and to insist on equitable pay for child care professionals and affordable fees for families.    Saturday March 9, a large group will march for women’s equality, pay equity, and child care. The Women’s Labour Committee with the BC Fed, CUPE, and BCGEU are organizing a march to show solidarity with families and early childhood educators through the province.  They are insisting on gender pay equity for UBC’s early childhood educators. This calls for wages that reflect the: Qualifications, Responsibilities, and Value of the work provided by UBC’s child care professionals.

We are all afforded the right to peaceful assembly. Use this right to change what needs change.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sad day for Vancouver

Today I had been hopeful that the letters I and others have written to Stephen Harper would have some effect.  I was surprised to see this notice:

P-0216(2013) CANADIAN COAST GUARD KITSILANO Activated:1419 19 Feb 2013 Effective 1300PST February 19 2013 Search and Rescue services from Kitsilano Canadian Coast Guard Station have been discontinued. The Canadian Coast Guard and its search and rescue partners will continue to provide mariners in the Vancouver Area with a full suite of search and rescue services. Mariners in need of assistance should continue to contact the Coast Guard through VHF channel 16 or through the Joint Rescue Centre Victoria at 1-800-567-5111 or 250-413-8933
Seven lines of text closes a Canadian Coast Guard station after fifty continuous years of operation.   No fan fare, no big end celebration of all that has been achieved, just seven lines of rather dry text.   We must hold the government accountable for this.  Lives will be lost.  Environmental issues will be left unchecked.  Our National and regional security just got weaker and once again, for what?

Mr. Harper, if you are listening, Vancouver is a year round boating city.  There will be lives lost from this and I urge you to reconsider.  While it may look good on a spreadsheet, this is one of the busiest waterways in Canada.  We have oil tankers running in and out of some of the narrowest passages in the country.  In fact, look the the Coast Guard's compiled traffic heat map.

Please re-open the Coast Guard now.  The heaviest traffic is exactly where the Coast Guard station is.

Vancouver Point Grey Summer Events

For families -  Looks like a great summer for our village!   See you there!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

More Taxes for Kitsilano - Point Grey Residents.

I recently came across a great article written by Tom Syer from the British Columbia Business Council.    I think anyone from the Vancouver - Point Grey riding should take a look at this.   Tom noted that recently, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) released a study entitled “Progressive Tax Options for BC”.   For the record, I believe an independent body like CCPA that challenges government to be transparent and provides well thought out options to be tabled is a positive force in a democracy.   People who genuinely care about some of our more complex issues have every right to step up and suggest alternatives.  Of course there will be disagreements but through dialog, we can find common ground.

I write this blog post though to find out if others feel this is really in the best interests of British Columbians.   Without going into a lot of detail, the study claims we have desire amongst British Columbians to pay more tax.  It also advocates that the 6% who have incomes higher than $100,000 a year per family should be paying more tax in an escalating manner.  This is coupled with a second need and desire to redistribute the wealth to address inequality.  For those of us who live in Vancouver - Point Grey, we are in that demographic.

Tom writes:

"The basic premise of the study is that there is both a serious need and a significant desire among BC citizens for sizable tax increases to fund more services and re-distribute wealth to address inequality. In their words, BC has “plenty of room” to raise taxes. While this has been a common refrain from the CCPA for some time, this position is now backed with further research and the results of an on-line survey. While the CCPA cites a single relatively obscure US study comparing US state taxation levels on economic performance to buttress its position, there is in fact an extensive body of academic research that looks carefully at the long-term consequences of taxes on the economy.[1] The preponderant conclusion is that relatively open, trade oriented economies need to pay attention to taxation rates and burdens. This is not to say there is no room to debate taxation issues or the appropriate balance between state and private sector in society. However, particularly for a small jurisdiction like BC, it’s important to ponder the economic implications of major tax policy changes – such as sharply hiking marginal tax rates on entrepreneurs and highly skilled workers, which is the key recommendation advanced in the CCPA’s study."

I urge you to read the rest of his post here.  Tom has wisely called out some misrepresentations and also discusses some of the consequences.

I also looked at the CCPA document to verify the facts.  While reading the document, I found this.

"The overwhelming majority of British Columbians (90%) think there should be income tax increases for those at the top. A clear majority (57%) believe that should kick in at $100,000 per year of income. A majority (67%) also think major corporations are asked to pay less tax than they should.
These responses cut across party lines. It is not just those who would vote NDP or Green in a 
provincial election who think high-income individuals and corporations should pay more tax.

The idea to impose stiff taxes on those of us who own homes that are valued at over a certain amount is something I am also concerned about.  A socialist group or socialist political party wanting to impose "an annual property surtax, progressively applied, beginning with a 0.5% tax rate on values in excess of $750,000, then 1% on value above $1.25 million, and 1.5% on value in excess of $2 
million" might be something Point Grey and Kitsilano residents should have a say in.  Our real estate has jumped in value due to a number of factors beyond our control.  In many cases the houses in this area are no larger than houses anywhere else.

CCPA author Naomi Klein wrote at the bottom of her introduction "British Columbians deserve a thoughtful and open conversation about the need for tax reform," says Klein. "They core questions we need to consider are: What programs should we pay for together through taxes, and how can we raise the money needed in a way that ensures everyone pays a fair share? We hope this report can help kick-start that conversation."

For the record, Naomi Klein is someone I respect for being a vigilant watchdog on government policy. According to the Sunday Times, she has stated she supports the moderately leftish NDP in her home country and does not rule out standing for election one day.

I agree with one statement Naomi made.  I think it is time to have a bigger conversation about a fair and equitable tax system that does not unjustly hurt British Columbians, including being fair to those who have worked hard to build businesses here and/or have disciplined themselves to achieve higher education and higher income. People in Vancouver - Point Grey are in many cases upper middle class working families.

I stand for transparency in government and accountability.  I invite your opinions on this topic.

Monday, February 18, 2013

恭禧發財 Chinese New Year - Year of the Snake

Vancouver is a multicultural city and I love the fact there always seems to be some cause to celebration.  Congratulations and Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) or Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese)  恭禧發財 to ring in the year of the snake!  Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation.  New Year celebrations are not one day events.  They run from the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month of the lunisolar calendar.

Fifty thousand strong showed up for the Chinese New Year's parade complete with Dragons, Firecrackers and some great costumes.  Enjoy these additional photos,  courtesy of The Province newspaper.

Photos: Chinese New Year parade

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Schools - Kitsilano, Point Grey's Urgent Need

In Vancouver, Point Grey and Kitsilano,  we have many old schools that are in extreme danger of collapse in a moderate to high seismic event.  My own children's school, Bayview Community School, was built in 1914. It’s a Heritage A building, which means it has significant historical value.  Bayview’s age has led to both maintenance concerns (lead pipes, asbestos, outdated heating systems, etc.) and to seismic concerns. The Vancouver School Board ranks Bayview at high risk for structural damage in the case of an earthquake. Engineering reports have identified poor brick and concrete quality. The school doesn’t come close to meeting current building codes.  The bathrooms look worse than the one's I encountered at a public bus depot on my last trip to Bangalore, India.  Don't believe me though, watch this video.  I guarantee you will be horrified.

Why are our children near Asbestos?  This is not the only school in Vancouver, Point Grey and Kitsilano either.  To see the problem in it's completeness, study the chart below.  The engineers have categorized schools into five categories, H1 being the highest risk.

Now take a look at this list.   It turns out that the Vancouver, Point Grey, Kitsilano areas have the following schools in H1 and H3.  These are the most dangerous in terms of being at risk for structural damage during a seismic event.

Bayview Elementary
Henry Hudson
Charles Gordon Elementary
Lord Tennyson Elementary
Point Grey Secondary
Prince of Wales Secondary
Quilchena Elementary
Southlands Elementary

Carnarvon Community Elementary
Lord Byng Secondary
Queen Elizabeth Elementary
Queen Elizabeth Annex

As part of its ongoing Seismic Mitigation Program, the Province has committed more than $122 million to address structural upgrades at 14 high-priority schools. The 14 projects are spread throughout 12 B.C. school districts. Schools were selected from most-recent district capital plans and represent top-ranked projects based on an updated assessment of seismic safety risk. School projects approved for funding:

Aberdeen Elementary, Abbotsford (SD 34)
South Delta Secondary, Delta (SD 37)
Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith Elementary, Vancouver (SD 39)
Dr. George M. Weir Elementary, Vancouver (SD 39)
Sir Wilfred Grenfell Community School, Vancouver (SD 39)
Alpha Secondary, Burnaby (SD 41)
Banting Middle school, Coquitlam (SD 43)
Argyle Secondary, North Vancouver (SD 44)
Quadra Elementary, Victoria (SD 61)
Sangster Elementary, Sooke (SD 62)
Deep Cove Elementary, Saanich (SD 63)
Georges P. Vanier Secondary, Comox Valley (SD 71)
C.E. Barry Intermediate, Fraser-Cascade (SD 78)
École des Pionniers, Conseil scolaire francophone (SD 93)

While I applaud this action on these schools, politicians needs to make the rest a priority and pull out all the stops.  Why are the Liberals spending $15,000,000 on ads claiming our job programs are working instead of creating jobs through the infrastructure upgrades?  True, it is a complex logistical problem involving temporary relocation of students, compliance with proper tender processes, engineering and feasibility studies and even municipal government interactions.   The fact is that this process is not happening fast enough.  We have BC companies willing to bid on this work and a highly skilled workforce.  The investment into this infrastructure will pay for itself (educated children become tax paying citizens) and our legacy must be higher education for our children.

I also found out that apparently our Premier Christy Clark sends her son Hamish to private school.  While I cannot verify this with an absolute accuracy,  it seems to have substance.   I live in Vancouver - Point Grey - Kitsilano with my children.  They attend a public school and will continue to attend a public school.   Parents in other school districts want their schools upgraded too.  This cannot wait any longer.

What can you do?

Please sign this petition.  These buildings are also an important part of our community and serve as safe havens in the event of a disaster.  Every school needs to be standing and equipped not only to teach our children, but to also be an integral part of our community.  There are no shortages of construction materials or labour and investing into schools pumps money into our local economy.  Tell you MLA that you want these schools upgraded now.  We deserve this.

Talk to your neighbours.  Raise awareness.

Share the video.

Write a letter to our Premier.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Free Technology Training

I am a huge fan of technology and believe for BC to prosper into the future, our schools need to be updated with cutting edge technology.  We need to follow India and China's leads to start our children programming at an early age.

This is a lofty goal and will be something I will continue to push forward.  In the meantime, our city is rife with an abundance of free training.  I myself will be co-presenting at an event on Feb 25, 2013.  Anyone can attend and it is free.  The session is:

Neo4J 101: What it is, How to Get Started and Whispr, a Case Study

An incredible opportunity to hear Neo Technology's Pernilla Lindh provide an overview and introduction for Neo4J. Pernilla is a Community Manager with Neo Technologies, the company behind Neo4J, the world's most popular graph database. Pernilla self describes herself as "An Hippie-Information Architect who works with graph databases, will save the world through technology and open data" which will resonate well with Vancouverites.

Attendees will also be provided with a business decision for using Neo4J.  This will be in the form of an overview of Whispr. is a Decision Management and Analysis platform supporting RACI/DACI models that is built on Neo4J and the reasons why Neo4J was chosen will be illustrated.

Finally, there will be an overview of how to get started with Neo4J and then provide code samples.

More on:
Neo4J -
Pernilla -
Whispr -

New Bike Lanes in Point Grey - Debate

Recently I have been hearing rumblings about yet more bike lanes being retrofitted into Vancouver's West Side (Vancouver - Point Grey).   For context, I am a former UCI World Cup Mountain Bike Professional athlete.  I have represented Canada at the World Championships and believe I have probably cycled more kilometers than I drove a car for each of the last twenty years.  I used to commute from Coquitlam to Yaletown daily using the Adanac/Union Street bike route.  I LOVE cycling.

I am not in favor of more bike lanes in Point Grey without sound evidence.  Why?  For starters, we have one of the best networks of bike lanes in the area already.  In fact, if you look at the map below, you will note that there are many established bike lanes.   Keep in mind there are also paved paths within the park at Kits Beach and a secondary alternative route that can be used instead of Cornwall (shown in pink).

The bike lanes have been retrofitted all over Vancouver and evidence suggests some of them may not be well thought out.  I am generally in favor of the Burrard downtown lanes, the Richardson street lanes and along Pacific Avenue.  The Hornby and Dunsmuir bike lanes I consider too dangerous as pedestrians and the two way nature of the traffic seem to be a step backwards in safety.

The way any bike lane should be studied is to use a scientific method to find out how many people will ride bikes instead of cars solely due to the existence of a new bike lane. If evidence exists to support a hypothesis that adding a bike lane will result in more people riding, then the number crunching should begin.  The overall goals must be clearly understood too.  I see three main objectives:

1. Getting people to use bikes for transportation is more environmentally friendly;
2. For those who already ride, increasing our safety is important;
3. A fit and healthy population requires less demand on health care. 

Let me use the Burrard Street bridge to illustrate what needs to be considered.

One must factor in the number of existing cyclists using a route already.  For the sake of this argument, let's say that 1500 people per day crossed the Burrard Street bridge on bikes.  Once you put in the new bike lanes, you must measure how many new people are riding.  This should be averaged out over several years perhaps to account for seasonal changes.    Now you have established a baseline and a new number.  Again for sakes of argument, let's say that since the bike lanes go in, there are now 2,000 people using the bridge daily.  

The next step is to poll them to ask them how they were traveling before.  Lets presume that all 500 of them drove cars an average of 15 kilometers per day.  At an average speed of around 30 KPH, this means 7500 / 30 or about  250 car hours.  That is a serious dent in pollution.  Or so it seems.  

Now let's factor in the other side of the equation.  According to Vancouver city archives, around 65,000 cars use the same bridge daily.  City Hall has released some data suggesting that the bike lane fixtures have resulted in a 5 minute wait during rush hour in both directions.  Since rush hour covers around 8:00 - 9:15 and 4:00 - 5:45 (roughly 3 hours a day, let's make an assumption that during this 3 hour period 15,000 cars are on the roads.  Of course we should be given the real data to interpret.  This assumption could be wrong so I would ask that the raw data be presented by Vancouver City hall.

This would mean that you are now adding 15,000 cars for 1/12 an hour each belching more pollution back into the air.   That is around 1250 car hours that are being used additionally each day.  This results in  a 5 fold increase in net pollution.  I won't even get into the economic costs.

Please do not use the numbers above as fact.  They are not.  They are fictional only to provide examples.   Since none of this data has been released by City hall, we can only speculate what the numbers are.  I want to see the real data (Andrea Reimer, David Eaves can you find?) so we can then have a discussion about it.    The answer to satisfy both groups may be to bite the bullet and pay the full $60 million cost to properly retrofit bike lanes on the outboard side of the bridge.  The cement is crumbling anyways and has to be replaced as many pillars are down to the rebar.

What about safety?  ICBC just released some data suggesting that car/bike accidents are up 500% at the north end of the bridge.   Before you jump on that and say "hah!", please remember that if there was a 800% increase in cyclists using the bridge, that number is actually a positive outcome.  Of course if less than a 500% increase is happening, then we are losing to safety too.  

This illustrate the type of meaningful thinking that has to be done when considering more bike lanes.  There are also some very damming reports from civil engineers in European nations warning about retrofitting two way bike lanes.   As reported from the 604 commuter blog:

Quotes from research carried out world wide and including organizations that actively promote cycling, like the City of Copenhagen, reports that “A decline in road safety at junctions has undoubtedly taken place after the construction of cycle tracks [separated bike lanes]”

“Proportion of junction accidents significantly higher with cycle tracks [separated bike lanes]”
- German Federal Highways Institute Report

“Separation of bicycles and motor vehicles leads to blind conflicts at intersections.”
Institute of Transportation Engineers (WashingtonDC)

“Cycle tracks [separated bike lanes] cause major safety problems at signalised junctions.”
- Danish Road Directorate

“... cycle tracks [separated bike lanes] increase cyclists' risk at junctions.”
- Transportation Research Board, study based in GöteborgSweden.

“In Helsinki, using a road-side cycle path [separated bike lane] is nearly 2.5 times likely to result in injury than cycling on the carriageway with traffic. At junctions the relative risk rises to more than 3 times. In those countries and cities which are just beginning to build cycling facilities, two-way cycle paths [separated bike lanes] in particular should be avoided in an urban street network.”

 “42% of the collisions were localized at normal roadways, 44% at bicycle tracks [separated bike lane] and 9% at paths or at the pavement”
Odense Univ. HospitalDenmark.

“Separated bicycle facilities are particularly troublesome in intersections involving automobile traffic and do not necessarily appear to be safer.”

What about extending the seawall?  Unfortunately, that cannot happen without the Canadian Federal Government input as the shoreline is protected.  This is not a municipal issue.

In conclusion,  I believe that our existing bike lanes are safe and effective.  I personally have not seen any data that suggests we need or want more bike lanes on Point Grey road or Cornwall.  I will grant that Point Grey road is harrowing to cycle down and I generally try to avoid it.    If new bike lanes are going to be planned, let's have some reasonable scientific evidence to support their existence before we rush in and spend money.   

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Living in your own riding?

Someone just stated to me that our Premier Christy Clark does not live in the riding in which she is elected.  I was shocked when I heard this and after some research, have found no evidence that she spends much time in this riding.

I am going to have to agree with one statement I saw from Graham King, a fellow developer in Vancouver.   Graham left a comment "Wouldn’t the best person to represent us actually _live_ here?".

I concur with Graham.

Kitsilano Coast Guard Station Must Stay Open!

John Cummins, a former Member of Parliament and leader of the BC Conservative Party held a press conference yesterday and read out loud his letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper urging reconsideration of the decision to close the Kitsilano Coast Guard station.
Photo credit: CKNW (J. Cummins, J. Bridges, Myself)
I stand firmly beside the honorable Mr. Cummins and as a boater and father, believe that closing the Kitsilano Coast Guard station will result in tragedy. Rather than act on raw emotion, I chose to do some fact finding on the topic.
 According to the spokesperson at the press conference yesterday, the Vancouver waterway is Canada's busiest waterway and the Kitsilano station handles roughly 350 calls per year. It has been staffed continuously for over 50 years and is ready to respond with trained experienced staff 24 hours a day, 7 days per week non stop. The complete staff list according to the Coast guard official site at The Kitsilano office serves a very large area.

 They can be under the first narrows bridge in less than ten minutes.

While many people believe the CoastGuard is strictly mandated with boating safety and marine distress calls, it is imperative to understand that they are also covering many other important work programs including Environmental protection.

The Canadian Coast Guard's Environmental Response (ER) program mission is to ensure an appropriate level of preparedness and response capability for all ship-source and mystery source pollution incidents in waters under Canadian Jurisdiction. (Reference - Security is also a primary mandate. Following the events of 9/11, the Government of Canada reassessed vulnerabilities in Canada¹s transportation systems and evaluated the capacity of departments and agencies to address gaps in its security structure. The resulting National Security Policy (NSP) identified the Canadian Coast Guard¹s (CCG) on-water resources and maritime information collection capacity, as well as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans¹ (DFO) aerial surveillance capability, as having key roles to play in supporting national security.

 Protecting Canadian national interests is important. The Canadian Coast Guard has taken a leadership role in the development and deployment of what is one of the most effective new tools in global maritime security, namely the Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) system. In the wake of 9/11, the International Maritime Organization spurred the creation of a satellite-based system that would give participating governments (Flag States) the ability and time to evaluate the security risk posed by Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Class vessels (ships of 300 gross tonnes or more on international voyages) intending to enter their ports or passing within 1000 nautical miles of their coast. Without scare mongering, several international think tanks have raised the issue of terrorist activities that may use commercial maritime traffic as a means to inflict mass destruction on the environment and in terms of human safety.

The BC Conservative party believes both the Coast Guard and the Marine merchants are important pillars of our safety.

The letter from John Cummins to Prime Minister Harper:

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:
 I write to you today with regards to the impending closure of the Canadian Coast Guard search and rescue station at Kitsilano.
 You have demonstrated over the course of your career, as both a Member of Parliament and as Prime Minister, a clear understanding of, and sympathy for, issues of concern to British Columbians. It is with that knowledge in mind that I request you reconsider the federal
government’s decision to close the Kitsilano station.
 All of us are aware, of course, of the great fiscal challenges that today face the Government of Canada. We also are fully supportive of the efforts initiated by you and your government to keep
spending under control, to eliminate the deficit and to reduce our national debt.
 It is my sincerest hope that provincial governments across the country – including my own province of British Columbia – follow your lead in having the courage to make difficult, and sometimes unpopular choices so as to restore Canada’s fiscal health and prosperity.
 That said, some public services are so vital, so essential to the safety and well-being of Canadians, that they should receive special consideration when funding reductions are contemplated and implemented.
 One such public service, I believe, is the Canadian Coast Guard station at Kitsilano.
 There are many compelling reasons why the Kitsilano station must remain open and operating.
 They include:
 1. The Kitsilano search and rescue station each year responds to an average of 350 distress or emergency calls, saving many lives.
 Moreover, tens of thousands of British Columbians who traverse or otherwise utilize the waters of False Creek, English Bay, Burrard Inlet and/or the Strait of Georgia on a daily basis have reassurance for their safety because of its presence with a professional rescue
crew and vessels available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
 2. The public – and particularly mariners whose livelihoods depend on the sea, as well as recreational boaters – are overwhelmingly supportive of keeping Kitsilano Station’s
lifesaving resources intact.

 They do not agree with the senior management of the Canadian Coast Guard’s view that a hovercraft based on Sea Island in Richmond – approximately 35 minutes travel time away from Vancouver – is an adequate way of protecting Canada’s busiest harbour.
 In favourable conditions, a delayed or lengthy response by Sea Island hovercraft can easily be the difference between life and death.
 3. The travel-time between Sea Island in Richmond to False Creek English Bay, Burrard Inlet or the Strait of Georgia is vitally important – and especially so during ‘out-ofseason’ months – because of the low survivability rates in extremely cold water.
 Many fatal boating accidents occur in the winter when boating or water-accident victims find themselves suddenly plunged into water at temperatures considerably lower than those in summer-time.
 Individuals in distress are hit quickly by panic and shock, and many succumb to cardiac arrest or hypothermia. Cold water, it has been noted, can rob the body of its’ heat 32-times faster than cold air.
 Accident victims and their rescuers are advised that all efforts must be given to getting out of the water by the fastest means possible.
 The hovercraft based at Sea Island in Richmond, which does not have all-weather capabilities, is incapable of responding as promptly to accidents or other events of distress as the existing Kitsilano station.
 4. It has been argued by your government that part-time members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary – aided by summer-students with two months of training – are an adequate substitute or replacement for the highly-skilled and professionally-trained personnel with the Canadian Coast Guard search and rescue force.
 This is patently untrue. Moreover, the proposed replacement of a year-round, professionally-trained, 24-hour search and rescue service, with a May-to-September, three-person inshore rescue team is plainly inadequate to the proven needs of British Columbia’s boaters, mariners and other water users.
 5. Will there actually be any cost-savings achieved by the closure of the Kitsilano search and rescue station? This assertion is highly-debatable – and even if true, small potatoes in
the grand scheme of things.
 Some estimates are that the station’s closing will be as little as $700,000 – before accounting for the costs of the May-to-September part-time service. And that means actually savings for Canadian taxpayers may be as low as $500,000.
 Yet even that estimate does not include additional expenses – operating and capital – for the new hovercraft based at Sea Island in Richmond. It not only is possible, but very likely, that closure of the Kitsilano station will have no – I repeat, no – cost savings for
Canadian taxpayers.
 You and your government – our Government of Canada – has done much for B.C. in recent years. Across our great province, British Columbians are deeply appreciative of the federal government’s stewardship of the national economy, as well as your personal and on-going attention to the needs of British Columbians.
 But the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station has become an enormous concern for our province, with political representatives from all B.C. parties united in calling for it to remain open.
 Prime Minister, I urge you to as you have done in the past, in the best interest of British Columbia, intervene and keep the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station open. I believe the B.C. public will thank you for it and time will show that it was the right decision.
 I would be pleased to speak to you privately about this issue at anytime, with you or your staff.
 Yours Sincerely,
 John Cummins
 B.C. Conservative Party

Friday, February 1, 2013

I am a BC Conservative Party Member

I am a BC Conservative Party member. That is correct. Moi! Why did I choose this party over the Liberals and the NDP? Simple. I read their mandate and it makes sense for British Columbia. The BC Conservative Party's guiding principles are easy to believe in. The Party is founded on and will be guided in its policy formation by the following principles:

1. A belief in clearly defined public policies and programs that are affordable, effective and accountable to the people. To me transparency in government is something that I stand for. Any politician must be accountable to the public.

2. The BC Conservative Party believe in managing with the highest standards of integrity and transparency. Again, an extension of the first principle, integrity in government must be absolute. When you enter politics, you must accept from day one that you will make choices that offend some. To be guided by an attempt to please everyone is ill-founded. As soon as pandering begins, integrity ends. How do I know anything about integrity? It started when I was very young and a family friend who was a politician influenced my parents. He influenced the lives of my great Uncle Olaf Turnbull, who himself was an MLA in Saskatchewan for the Canadian Commonwealth Federation or CCF. This family friend became the Saskatchewan CCF's leader and then the seventh Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961. His government was the first democratic socialist government in North America, and it introduced the continent's first single payer, universal health care program. He did this with integrity and conviction. This was done before I was born but we heard stories of the man who had a dream, a vision and would not let public influence sway him from that dream. That man was named Tommy Douglas. He later was named The greatest Canadian by a CBC television program in 2004. Here he is with my mother around 1970 (left), a photo of himself he gave to my late grandfather and a letter on the right he wrote to my grandmother expressing his grief that Russ had passed. He also spoke very highly of my late grandfather, another man, like my father, of integrity beyond reproach.

3. British Columbians are entitled to full knowledge of services rendered. Again, full transparency in government is a right of those who pay for it (you and I).

 4. The BC Conservative Party believe in the rights and responsibilities of all British Columbians and that governments at all levels are in place to serve and respect all individuals and their families, including freedom from unnecessary laws and regulations. A belief that government is fundamentally in existence to serve the people is paramount to the parties mandate. Part of that mandate is to respect the rights of the individual.

 5. Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) should be empowered to best represent the interests of their Constituents. 

 6. A belief in restructuring the taxation system to maximize benefits for the greatest number of BC citizens. 

 7. A belief in a competitive free enterprise system as the basis for prosperity and growth.   Protection and management of our environment and natural resources to optimize benefits now and into the future.

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Great Uncle Kenneth MacKenzie

When Ken began working in the Radiation Laboratory, the 60-inch cyclotron was nearing completion. He became involved with the radiofrequency (RF) system which produces the D-voltage. With this beginning he became an authority on RF systems. He made a major contribution to the design of the system for the 184-inch cyclotron which was completed in 1947. It was the first machine capable of producing mesons. He also made significant contributions to the system for TRIUMF, the meson factory which was completed in 1974. RF systems can be temperamental. Ken had an uncanny knack in getting them to perform properly.

Ken contributed to the development of cyclotrons from day one. He was in Berkeley when the first tests of large-current Uranium mass spectrometry were made in late 1941. He participated in the full scale tests which were made in the recently completed 184-inch magnet, beginning in mid-1942. An accelerating voltage had to be held constant with great precision. The system developed, involving RF signals, is described in a chapter which he contributed to a book in the National Nuclear Energy Series, Manhattan Project. Ken also went to Oak Ridge where he participated in the process of getting the production plant into operation.

In 1964 Ken wrote a paper titled "Space Charge Effects and Cyclotron Beam Enhancement." Cyclotrons had been in operation some thirty years and this effect had been overlooked. Near the center of a cyclotron there can be appreciable loss of particles which are near the surface of the circulating current due to repulsion by those particles within the body of the beam. Once the effect was recognized, steps could be taken to reduce it. As a result, several large synchrocyclotron laboratories were able to increase their research output.

McMillan and Veksler, during World War II, predicted means of increasing the upper energy limit of cyclotrons. The first test of the proposal was made in Berkeley in 1946. The 37-inch magnet was modified for the test. Ken participated, not surprisingly, in the design of the RF system, which now involved frequency modulation. The prediction was confirmed.

After World War II, UCLA was interested in establishing a program in nuclear physics. It was decided to move the 37-inch frequency-modulated cyclotron to UCLA to begin the new program. After a year at the University of British Columbia, Ken joined the UCLA faculty in 1947. Over the next 10 years he and his students performed positron-electron scattering experiments, stopping power measurements, precision range-energy relationships and a final increase of the "37-inch" energy to 20 Mev protons.

In about 1960, Ken initiated the UCLA Department of Physics program in experimental plasma physics. Over the next 15 years, with various colleagues, he published some 20 papers in this field, many involving various aspects of large quiescent plasmas. Early on, Ken and his students lined the walls of a vacuum chamber with permanent magnets of alternating polarity to suppress plasma electron losses. "MacKenzie buckets" are now universally used as plasma sources. He initiated an introductory undergraduate course in plasma physics and an accompanying laboratory (which used a restaurant size cooking pot as an ion bucket). He invented simple physical pictures for a number of plasma wave phenomena usually described in complex mathematical terms.

Ken can be given much credit for the impressive status of experimental plasma physics at UCLA today. Studies of plasmas in the ionosphere (Alfred Wong); the physically largest Electric Tokomak (directed by one of Ken's students, Robert Taylor); and physically large plasmas for wave studies (Reiner Stenzel and Walter Gekelman) are examples of important work in progress.

For a period of about two years Ken was the president of a small company, Meva Corp, which was formed to build cyclotrons. After producing one for an undergraduate laboratory at Pomona College, the company was sold to Hughes Aircraft.

After retirement, Ken continued a long standing interest in Special and General Relativity. Some results are described in an unpublished monograph titled Einstein's General Relativity in Three Dimensions. He also wrestled with the dark matter enigma.

Ken made very significant contributions to the Department. In a broad sense, being one of eight new faculty appointments following World War II, he participated actively and fully in every aspect of the Department's development. Over the years he saw to it that the electricity and magnetism laboratories were kept up to date. He introduced the plasma physics curriculum. He took the course in “Physics for Non-Science Majors” seriously, devoting a great effort to make special relativity understandable. In the mid-70s he served as chairman.

What kind of a physicist was he? He could of course use mathematics to formulate and solve problems. Beyond that, he could see through the most complex situations to their conceptualization and solution. As a person, he was gentle, kind, understanding, pleasant and modest to a fault. He rarely, if ever, raised his voice. He had a considerable range of interests outside of physics, both physical and intellectual. Verna, his second wife whom he married in 1981, gave him great care during his decline. Other survivors are his children, Robert, Maryann and Wallace. They miss him dearly as do all who knew him well.