hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Expanding to the Border

The Community Advisory Committee got its beginning when the County decided to have a committee to advise it on the gas tax monies.  Implicit in this creation was the possibility of the committee also serving as a liaison with the county on other issues.  Might have been helpful to have them in place back in the days of the trash wars.

The committee consists of a person appointed by the Taxpayers Association, a person appointed by the Voters Association, a person appointed by the Chamber of Commerce, and two people appointed by the County Administrator (currently Pete Kremmens).  Arthur Reber was appointed/elected, by the committee, as its chair.  Over the past year and half, the group has held almost monthly meetings at the Community Center, open to the public, although the committee members get to sit at the main table and the attending riffraff sit around the outside row of chairs.  Anybody can (and does) talk, but only the Committee members can vote.

Mostly, they futzed around with the gas tax moneys, although the major achievement so far appears to be in the non-use of the gas tax moneys to pave Tyee.  That, the Committee says, was achieved by forcing the County to use its own money for that project, although the gas tax money also is the County's money, in truth.  Moral force is what it is said was used to shame the County into allowing us to use "our" gas tax moneys for other purposes if we could ever figure out exactly what it is that would be both useful, appreciated, and also fit within the County's narrow definition of 'transportation projects.'

The August meeting of the Advisory Committee showed the group moving in a new direction: the border.  They have scheduled a meeting in late August with a variety of Border honchos to discuss 'issues' that we in Point Roberts have with the border.  The purpose of the meeting was to have the community advise the Committee as to what issues the community is having.

I, personally, have found that the border has not ceased to be an occasional irritant (which I can live with), but has ceased to be a daily outrage since Michelle James took over as head of the Northwest Region.  So I went to the meeting not as a suggester but just as an observer.  The suggestions primarily fell under two headings: agriculture and labor.  The short summary of the meeting is that the Advisory Committee is going to try to get the CBP to make a clear statement (a Memo of Understanding) about the "In Transit" rules from Bellingham (i.e., the Mainland) to Point Roberts, and the same for how specific labor issues are to be addressed.  One example of the latter issue is the ability of B.C. veterinarians and ferriers to come across the border both to provide emergency care and routine care for horses.  Other examples are largely problems that business people face.  E.g., if you rent an event tent in B.C., then the rental contract includes people who must be the ones who put the tent up (for liability reasons), but then they are Canadians who are not allowed to work in the U.S. and putting up the tent is working in the U.S., maybe, and the Point Roberts border people may or may not let them in.

I thought that the Canadian people were very clear last time about what could be considered "In Transit."  If the average traveller can't bring X or Y into Canada, then neither can a Point Roberts traveller, even if he/she is taking it to Point Roberts.  Oranges, potted plants, tomatoes: NO; yogurt, cheese, pineapples: YES.  About parrots, they were silent.  But maybe something broader is in the works, although I'd be surprised.

Anyway, that is whom the Committee is currently advising.  They've broadened their mandate and I wish them well.

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