Monday, July 30, 2012

Issue #4: Disaster Preparedness

This election is, at one level, being billed as a one-issue election, that issue being Healthcare, but it is much more than that. This election is taking place at a watershed moment in the history of Princeton, on several levels;
  1. The world is watching as Greece struggles with long-standing dept problem. It is likely that within the next few months, the country will slip into a full-on economic collapse and an untimely withdrawal from the Euro. If Greece collapses, Italy, Spain and even France may not be long behind and this will draw in not only the USA, but Canada. In fact, the world faces the possibility of a global recession that could rival the Great Depression.
  2. China is teetering on the brink of its own recession, and if the glut of cheap, disposable products from DVD players to food products slows significantly, all these products will suddenly become at the least more expensive, and at the worst, unobtainable for periods of time in an isolated location like Princeton.
  3. The USA is experiencing the worst drought since the Dust Bowl of the 1930's. If the corn crop fails as expected, food prices will skyrocket, and some items may become virtually unobtainable. With corn a prime ingredient in a vast array of daily use products, the effects could be devastatingly real - as early as this winter.
  4. Tension in the Arabian Peninsula continues to rise. If Israel decides to take out Iran's nuclear program, all hell will break loose, and fuel prices in Canada could skyrocket. Worse, fuel shortages could hamper timely deliveries by the fleet of 18-wheelers that Princeton depends on for everything from fuel for the local gas stations to stock for the supermarket shelves.
  5. Climate Change resulting from Global Warming threatens more severe weather events as the norm in coming years. 100 year events could easily become 20, or 5 year events. These could rival the Big Snow of 1935-36 that brought six feet of snow down on Princeton in the space of 48 hours, or the Flood of '48 that still stands as the worst regional disaster in the history of many areas of BC. Either of these events could also disrupt eighteen-wheel deliveries to Princeton for significant periods of time. Worse, these disruptions could coincide with extended grid-down power outages, or even disruptions of the natural gas supply here.
  6. Domestic and/or International terrorisim is widely expected to cause significant disruptions to global infrastructure as some time in the near future. Any or all of the above effects could result. And this could happen tomorrow...
With the above in mind, I believe it behooves the Princeton Town Council to ensure that our Disaster Preparedness is at an all-time high. When I asked at Town Hall to see the current Disaster Preparedness Plan, I was given only an edited version of the plan (for confidentiality reasons), but this one seemed to have a number of omissions and errors. The list of contact people, for example, has not been updated since before last fall's civic election. By now there should have been at least two updates to the position held by the town mayor. The question is, how many of the provisions of this plan are incomplete, incorrect, or dated. If we had full-scale disaster tomorrow, are we prepared?

If I am elected to Town Council, I assume I will have full access to all Disaster Preparedness Plans for the Town of Princeton. I will make it a priority to ensure that all such plans are up to date, that any errors or omissions are corrected, and that recommended and required Planning sessions, Tabletop exercises and full-on Disaster Exercises have been and will continue to be conducted in a timely manner.

With my Regards to the People of Princeton
Rob Rubis, Candidate for Council

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Issue #3: Economic Development

Learning about and trying to make sense of current and future plans for the Economic development of the Princeton area has been a challenge. It would take years to become fully aware of all the nuances, and I've just begun this quest. Add to that the gaps that seem to have developed through the incomplete transitions that have taken place over the past year and trying to make sense of it all is daunting, to say the least.

To start my research, I went to Town Hall to ask about Princeton's latest OCP (Official Community Plan). The staff here have been very helpful in identifying where I can access the information I think I want. In this case, however, I made the mistake of asking for an "Economic Development Plan" instead of an "Official Community Plan" and this led me somewhat astray. Much of my earlier information on Princeton's needs, current problems, and plans for the future was based on personal interviews with individuals around town.

Thank goodness for the Internet. It's all there, between the Town of Princeton site and  the rdos site. From here there are links to dozens of regional district overview plans, along with specific plans for individual communities within the rdos. The "Welcome to Princeton" homepage has a Quicklink to the latest OCP (2008) , along with several other very helpful QuickLinks.  Check it out yourself. Thank you again to the staff in Town Hall for the proactive work to keep the public informed!

Princeton's Official Community Plan is a masterful document. It shows that thorough consideration has been given in recent years to the economic, cultural and social future of the town. It is a 58 page tome, chock-full of official Policies on every imaginable topic related to Princeton's future. The table of Contents is a virtual laundry-list of topics on which there are specific directional recommendations.

There's a link to a 10 year feasibility study for the Princeton Airport. There is reference to a Memorandum of Understanding between the Town, the Upper Similkameent Indian Band and the RDOS to, among other things, "work towards a vibrant, diverse and sustainable local economy."There's even a five page section on Environmental issues, including a nine-point Climate Action Plan. My hat's off to the people who worked on this project.  The OCP is now 4 years out of date (although the Climate Action Plan is only a year and a half old), and clearly needs review, but it's a wonderful starting point for the next steps in determining Princeton's future.

One small note here. The version of the OCP that I have been able to access at the Town of Princeton site ends at page 58 with an "Appendix A"which lists the Official Community Plan maps. I was, however, unable to see the maps themselves. Luckily, there is a complete version of the Princeton OCP on the RDOS site.

So what's wrong with this picture? Well, it's all about perception. For example;
  • With all this good work, why do we not seem to be on track to achieve the "Vision" outlined in the OCP, Section 2.1, a vision that sees Princeton as a "energized, vibrant and thriving" five to ten years from now (2008)
  • Why have many of the Policies embedded in the 2008 OCP apparently not been implemented?  (Princeton Airport initiatives (with the exception of the fuelling facility), Parks and Recreation Master Plan, Solid Waste Management Plan) (to date, I have no confirmation of substantive followup on these. I would be pleased to be informed that the weakness has been in my research and not in lack of action)
  • Why does it seem that few of the Climate Action Plan policies been implemented  (include GHG reduction targets, and policies and actions to address the targets (33% reduction from 2007 levels by 2020) in OCP  by May 31, 2010 (Sec. 9.8), achieve carbon neutral local government operations beginning in 2012 (Sec.9.8) (note: the Climate Action plan does include an Audit (Section 9.6.2), a "Corporate Energy and GHG Inventory" (Section 2) but the above action steps SEEM not to have been carried out.)
  • Why do people on the street seem so pessimistic about the direction we're headed? 
  • Why is there a perception that the populace is folding up their tents and leaving town?
Much of this perception may be just that. I'm new to local politics, and the deeper I dig, the more layers I find. There is a glut of  information out there, and digging it up then sifting through it has been an exercise in urban archeology. I came into this project knowing that I was naive about local affairs, but the more I learn, the more of a babe in the woods I realize I am. Clearly, a lot of very smart people have been thinking about Princeton's future for a very long time.

A second reason for the current situation is likely to be the number of transitions the town has gone through in the past two years. Beginning perhaps with the lobby against one or more potential (but perceived environmentally unfriendly) development ventures here, then with the debate about the Aquatic Center and the failed referendum, Princeton seems to have entered a "no-go" mentality. Then the civic election and the untimely passing of the newly elected mayor introduced a prolonged period of relative inaction on "non-urgent" issues. The fact is, Princeton has been, it seems, somewhat rudderless for the past while.

There are also many external factors at play here right now. The economic meltdown of 2008 came immediately following the release of this OCP. The global recession we've been in for the past four years has obviously impacted on the potential for moving ahead on issues requiring venture capital or entreprenerial spirit. We're currently in a bunker mentality which focusses on circling the wagons rather than striking out in new directions. And as I've stated in other venues, I believe that things are likely to get worse before they get better.

So what to do?
  • First of all, I need to spend a LOT more time with the 2008 OCP to get my head around the many ideas and recommendations there. 
  • Then I need to sort out where I think our economic development priorities should lie for the immediate future (within the context of the four priorities I have already laid out: healthcare, resident seniors, economic development and disaster prepareedness).
  • I need to determine if economic development ideas that have occurred to me but don't seem to be reflected in the OCP (developing industrial uses for the Granby tailings, promoting the Similkameen hydro proposal, expanding our Sister City program to include foreign (ie overseas) exchanges) have been considered and found wanting, or if I'm on to something new. 
  • And finally, I need to become much more informed about the background, the current realities and the potential for the future regarding any actions I will champion should I be elected to Town Council.
  • I need to talk to more Princeton residents, planners and present and past council members about their experiences, their understanding of the issues, and their hopes and plans for the future.

And should I be elected to Town Council, my pledge is to do exactly that.

With my Regards to the People of Princeton.
Rob Rubis, Candidate for Town Council

Friday, July 27, 2012

Issue #2: Honoring Our Elders

In the past, achieving a great age brought with it a lifetime of practical experience and the responsibility of being the keeper of the collective wisdom of the tribe. In many world cultures even today, the "Elder" is still a respected and often-consulted sage.

Sadly, in the west today, our hurried pursuit of social status and material wealth often relegates our Elders to the position of the Forgotten Generation. With Social Media now the dominant means of communication for people under 50, face-to-face interaction is on the wane. Even touching base by telephone is being replaced by the daily Facebook post or the on-the-go Tweet. As a result, our Seniors are under-represented, often unheard, and sometimes even neglected everywhere, and Princeton is no exception.

But what, exactly, does all this have to do with the coming election? Everything! Our Elders in Princeton literally hold the key to Princeton's future as a vibrant, dynamic and growing small independent community. Our Elders are, arguably, our greatest resource. Collectively, they can personally document the history of the area right back to the Great Depression. They have the experience, the commitment, and often the time to devote to pursuits that can only enrich our community. They are the glue that holds a community together, and we must honor their place here.

Encouraging our resident seniors to stay the course with us will enrich us in all the ways that really count when the going gets tough. Encouraging a new cohort of seniors to settle in Princeton would buttress our housing market, strengthen our local economy, and reverse our population drain.

In the years ahead, which may bring great economic and social challenges, the Wisdom of my parents is something I will personally tap as often as possible. Together they have more than 150 years of hands-on experience with how Princeton has become the place it is today. In everything from winter wood gathering to spring gardening and harvest canning, they are a vast storehouse of local folk wisdom and personal anecdotes. Throughout Princeton, the stories are the same. Both long-term residents and recent retirees here offer a vast repository of wit, wisdom and social values.

Thankfully, I have been able to settle back in Princeton in time to take full advantage of what my parents have to offer. After a year here, my son already has a large and growing storehouse of stories from Grandpa and hugs from Grandma. My daughter, expected in September, will bask in the combined love of an extended family modelled on the best that our blended Thai and Canadian heritage can offer. As I consider the tasks ahead, I can only conclude that whatever they demand of me, the payoff will be in knowing that I am doing my part to ensure that my family's future is in good hands.

If I am elected to Town Council, the physical, economic and social well-being of Princeton's Seniors will be foremost in my mind as we address the Healthcar issues here, review an Economic Development Plan, consider new potential Recreational opportunities in the area, and revisit our Disaster Preparedness planning.

With my Regards to the People of Princeton
Rob Rubis, Candidate for Town Council

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Issues: #1 Healthcare in Princeton...

The reality as I see it is that Healthcare in Princeton underpins every issue facing voters in this election. Furthermore, the issue is far more complex than a simple "save our ER"! Without viable, comprehensive and accessible health care here, everything else is a non-starter. For example;

1) The threat of future ER closures, which continue to hang like the sword of Damocles over us in spite of recent efforts to attract Locums through accomodation incentives, will ensure that;
  • The cohort of Seniors who came here in the '90's for affordable retirement will continue to leave - if they are able to sell their homes here. Or as they pass on, few new recruits will be found to take their places. Population will continue to decline.
  • A new cohort of Seniors, who could provide much-needed economic stimulus for the area (in the form of home purchase, daily living expenditures and family visit tourism), will not be induced here solely by (becoming again) affordabe real estate and the ready access to recreational opportunities.
  • New business startups will be influenced by medical services uncertainties, and all things being equal, will locate in areas with more reliable emergency and specialty medical systems in place
2) Even if 24/7 ER is reinstated successfully, the dearth of other healthcare services in Princeton will continue to influence people's decision to relocate here, or even to stay here. For example;
  • Generations of Princetonites still residing here were born in either the "old" or the "new" PGH. The sense of belonging instilled in someone by being born there cannot be underestimated in creating and fostering a successful community. I was born in the "old" PGH, and through 26 years of international living, I never forgot where I came from. I doubt that my daughter, who will be born in Pentiction General, will have the same emotional connection to Pentiction.
  • The lack of a functioning operating room means that victims of home, industrial or traffic-related accidents from any age-group face the prospect of long ambulance or time and weather-dependent helicopter evacuation.
  • People with chronic health problems, young couples planning families, and new retirees looking for a secure retirement home, will all think twice about locating in Princeton.
  • The lack of any specialty medical services in town means that our local GP's will outsource cases in growing numbers to the centralized services in Penticton, Kelowna or Vancouver.
3) The possibility of continued decline in services offered at PGH will contribute to the area's growing downward economic and population spiral.
  • Seniors now living here will continue to seek alternative retirement havens.
  • Newly retiring seniors will give little consideration to Princeton as a place to retire to.
  • Young families will prioritize employment searches to areas with better medical and social support systems than Princeton.
  • Entrepreneurs from any specialty area of production, marketing or tourism conducting market analyses will look for population centers showing signs of stability or growth rather than the stagnation and decline which characterize Princeton today
In summary, the issue of 24/7 ER service in Princeton is only a single salvo in a long-running war of attrition of medical services in Princeton. Perhaps more importantly, the provincial government seems hell-bent on centralizing medical services in BC and the Princeton ER closure is just one of many similar stories throughout the province.

The question for Princeton residents is not, "Can we save 24/7 ER", but "How can we offer viable, comprehensive and long-term solutions to the medical services shortfall for Princeton residents". It's not just about 24/7 ER. It's about the right to be born and, if we choose, to die here. It's about the ability to seek specialy care without having to mount an expedition to a centralized facility. It's about turning Princeton General Hospital back into the vital community resource it once was. It’s about revitalizing, not just PGH, but the Town of Princeton

There may be an option we should consider, and that would be to withdraw completely from the tyranny of the IHA. It is my understanding that several BC communities even smaller than Princeton have done this and are doing far better under their own management than under the Big-Brother supervision of the IHA. I am at an early stage of learning the logistics and ramifications of such a move, but it I am interested in the following questions around this;
  1. What are the specific steps necessary to withdraw from the IHA?
  2. Do we have an appropriate agency in Princeton to sponsor such a move?
  3. If we withdrew from IHA, would Princeton be eligible to receive the same provincial funding for healthcare in the area that IHA now receives on our behalf?
  4. If so, would this funding allow for the rejuvination of our hospital to include 24/7 ER, a functioning Operating Theatre, birthing facilities and  limited specialty care (eg. joint, oncology or paliative care specialties)?
  5. If not, are there alternative funding arrangements (e.g. additional business and industry partnerships) that could be explored to raise necessary funding for the above, and
  6. Could Princeton attract the professional expertise to staff such an expanded facility?
If the answer to the majority of these questions is "Yes", if there is truly another option to a continued uphill battle with the IHA for modern, comprehensive and accessible healthcare for Princeton, I will be unstinting in my efforts to support those who have already been engaged in this battle for some time.  The Save Our Hospital Coalition and the people behind this who have achieved so much to this time deserve more than lip service in the future.

If elected as your new Town Councillor, I will make investigating the overall situation of medical services in Princeton and contributing to a comprehensive medical services strategy for Princeton a major focus for my tenure as Councillor.

With my Best Regards to the People of Princeton
Rob Rubis

The Issues As I See them

I see as four key issues for the next Princeton Town Council, and they are all important to the long-term health of the community. In my view, in order of urgency, they are;
  1. Hospital and medical issues (to expand on the medical metaphor, we need to "stabilize the patient (permanently solve the ER closure issue), and then move on to treating the symptoms (lack of services), offering followup therapy (redeveloping capacities) and finally to exploring preventive measures for the future (research a new provision model)
  2. Stopping (and then reversing) the "Gray Drain". If we can keep the seniors already here we could stop the population decline. If we could attract a new cohort of seniors to some of the 450 properties on offer in the area, we could reverse it.
  3. Revitalizing the area by revisiting Princeton's Economic Development plans, rebooting our Recreational Master Plan and fully exploiting the Tourism potential of the area.
  4. "Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst". I've asked at Town Hall to see Princeton's Disaster Preparedness plan. I was pleased to find that we have one, but not surprised to find that it is sketchy on some scenarios (regional or mass disaster, terrorism), and out of date in important areas (contact people, changing event expectations, etc)
I plan a comprehensive post on each of these issues before next Tuesday's all-candidates forum. Look for the first one later today...

With Regards to the People of Princeton
Rob Rubis, Candidate for Council

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Pledge to the People of Princeton

"Who I Am and What I Believe" is fully outlined in "Running for Civic Election" below. Included there is "I Pledge", but it bears restating:

If elected as your new Town Councillor, I pledge to:

·         Work diligently within the current Town Council structure to move forward on current issues including;
o   Resolving the Emergency Room dilemma & Related PGH Issues
o   Addressing the Urban Deer Problem

·         Advocate for and contribute constructively to action on “Next” Council Priorities including;
o   Updating the Economic Development Strategy for the Okanagan Similkameen
o   Reviewing and Revising a Recreational Master Plan

·         Support initiatives that;

o   Enhance the area’s economic viability in the event of widespread economic recession or depression
o   Reverse our population decline by enhancing the social support systems for an aging citizenry
o   Ensure Disaster Preparedness Planning is in step with global economic and environmental realities.

Vote RUBIS if you're a SENIOR because... parents are both Octagenarians, and I see daily the issues that confront them (healthcare, home management, retaining personal mobility, maintaining independence, fixed income issues). I'll make representing their interests a priority with Town Council.

Vote RUBIS if you're UNDER-Employed because...

...I share your pain. I've been underemployed for 14 months, and I'm digging deep to ensure long-term economic security for my family. Representing your needs on Town Council is a given.

Vote RUBIS if you're a Gen-X'er because...

...I've worked with your generation through your growing pains to adulthood, and I understand your frustration with the excesses of the Boomers. I'll work hard on Council to support your hopes and aspirations

Vote RUBIS if You're A Boomer...

Because I'm a Boomer too. I understand the issues that drive you (environmental, social, economic).  I'm committed to pursuing all available avenues to represent you on Town Council.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Who I Am and What I Believe...

I'd like to be elected for who I am, rather than on campaign sound-bites. For those so inclined, hosting my election bid here lets you dig deeper than the immediate campaign planking.

I've temporarily rebranded this blog "Rubis for Council" and here I'll address the issues that drive you. Dig through the archives and you'll find the issues that drive me.

And so, to kick off , here's "Who I Am" and "What I Believe"

Rob Rubis, Candidate for Councillor for the Town of Princeton 
A Local Boy:
  • Born (in the old PGH)
  • Raised on the family farm down the Old Hedley Road
  • Educated from K-12 in the old Princeton Elem/Sec School (the “new” Strip Mall)
A Family Man, with;
·         A supportive wife and partner of 15 years.
·         A five-year-old son starting Kindergarten in the fall and a daughter expected in September.
·         Long-term Princeton ties (Mother Elsie a 3rd-gen Princetonite; Father John arrived in 1932).
·         A political legacy here (John Rubis served as Councillor 1987-90 and Mayor from 1990-93)

A Global Citizen, having;

·         Attended both UBC (B.SC, Teaching Certificate & Librarian Credentials) and SFU (M.ED, Computers in Education), as well as pursuing coursework in Educational Technology and Leadership at USC (U of S California, San Diego) and SUNY (State University of NY)
·         Held summer mining jobs on Vanc Island, in the BC Rockies and North Interior, and on Baffin Island.
·         Labored in the Forest Industry in Princeton (bush work) and Quesnel (river drive and plywood plant)
·         Lived in and assimilated the finer aspects of Buddhist culture through 25 years of life in Thailand.
·         Met the public as a waiter in Vancouver and Toronto, Ontario and a cabbie in Toronto.
·         Served as a School Teacher-Librarian in Quesnel, Abbotsford, Tripoli, Libya and Bangkok, Thailand
·         Taught elementary school in Princeton (John Allison School), Quesnel and Abbotsford.
A  “Doer”. I have;
  • Managed school libraries of up to 50,000 items with budgets in excess of $250,000.
  • Planned/implemented technological and social upgrades to library systems on 3 continents
  • Supervised (hiring & evaluating) teacher and support staffs of up to 20 over a 20 yr period
  • Administered Summer Session learning programs for over 400 students
An Environmentalist, having;
·         Promoted sustainable living practices with students k-12 throughout my teaching career.
·         Returned to Princeton from Bangkok to “walk the talk” of reducing my carbon footprint.
·         Commented on social, educational and environmental issues online at

o                      rubisr at  
o                  rubisr on

·         Written a novel based on a “business as usual” scenario with regard to the environment. “Look inside the book” & Kindle edition at; _

I believe that;
1.       Global Warming is a real and accelerating phenomenon demanding the attention of  every citizen of the planet. The effects of Global Climate Change from Global Warming will likely include higher snowfall, larger runoff, increased storm frequency and severity and greater disruption of electricity, gas and retail supply deliveries.   In view of this ;
·         Canada is the best place in the world to live, raise a family and work to restore a sustainable future. 
2.       A Global Economic Recession, possibly another Great Depression is almost inevitable, during which time communities will be pressed to meet the economic and social needs of their citizens. In view of this:
·         Princeton IS the future: a small, collaborative but self-reliant community of individualists pursuing a sustainable future for family but willing to work collectively for the greater good of the community.

3.     During the years ahead, small communities will be hard-pressed to maintain community services (e.g. ER and Hospital services), promote sustainable development (e.g. rdos Economic Development Plan, Sustainable Similkameen Project and Similkameen Valley Planning Society projects)  and research growth opportunities (e.g. Fortis Similkameen River hydro project proposal, National Park proposal, new tourism initiatives). In view of this:
·         The next Town Council will need to be collaborative, committed, creative and perhaps prescient in leadership of and responsibility to the people of Princeton.
If elected as your new Town Councillor, I pledge to:

·         Work diligently within the current Town Council structure to move forward on current issues including;
o   Resolving the Emergency Room dilemma &
o   Addressing the Urban Deer Problem
·         Advocate for and contribute constructively to action on “Next” Council Priorities including;
o   Updating the Economic Development Strategy for the Okanagan Similkameen
o   Reviewing and Revising a Recreational Master Plan
·         Support initiatives that;
o   Enhance the area’s economic viability in the event of widespread economic recession or depression
o   Reverse our population decline by enhancing the social support systems for an aging citizenry
o   Ensure Disaster Preparedness Planning is in step with global economic and environmental realities.
In short, I have;

The Experience – to serve with a fresh perspective, attention to detail and a “Big Picture” view.
The Passion to infuse Town Council with energy, enthusiasm and a commitment to completion.
The Training – to bring a Creative Intuition, a Collaborative Mindset and a Team ethic to the table.
The Wisdom  - to Listen First, think, check and evaluate next, and respond based on full understanding of the issues.

Vote Rob Rubis for Councillor

Thursday, July 12, 2012

New Directions

 I have been watching with growing alarm the US Presidential race. My view is that if the Right prevails, we will be in for a long and dark winter on the environmental front. Mr. Romney's pledge to crank up the rate of offshore drilling, fracking and coal exploitation says it all.

And that's my cue to explain today's post heading. For the next while (and perhaps the next LONG while), I'll use this site as a forum for the Newest Direction my life has taken.

I believe in the power of the democratic system, as messy as it sometimes can be, and when I learned that a single candidate was running in a By-Election for a local Town Council seat, I decided to throw my hat into the ring. The people of my small town have the right to choose who will represent them at the local political level, and by enterning the race, I am giving them that choice.

My campaign will be my first public "outing" of the forces that drive me, and it will be interesting to see if the people in this small corner of Canada will endorse my views.   I believe that I have the insights, the integrity and the intensity to engage in a little world-shaping at the level of my current "locus of control".  Let the games begin...