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Forums —» General Caching —» General —» Open Letter to the BCGA Membership
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Open Letter to the BCGA Membership
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Philatsea



Joined: Jun 17, 2008
Posts: 118

PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:56 pm    Post subject: Open Letter to the BCGA Membership Reply with quote

I want to write this to clear a few things up that have been asked on this forum or emailed to me regarding the MOT Highway thread.

First off in all my talks with my MLA or Groundspeak I have made it my first sentence to say I do not represent the BCGA the Official body for Geocaching in BC. I am just a geocacher who is a private BC citizen. At this point I have no intention of running for the BCGA board. I may post more on this later.

It has been suggested that I have my own agenda or I want to take the reins. I do not have an agenda nor do I want to take the reins of the BCGA. What I do have is a passion for caching and to help and make it better and help solve the current MOT problem that has come about.
Reading the forums it was sure clear that not much had happened since August when the complaint arrived at Groundspeak (GS). GS talked to complainant on about September 5th and it became clear that the complainant was not happy with caching.

There wasn’t much happening since that and members were asking questions. Calls from the BCGA to GS were going unanswered.
I looked at this and knowing how boards work they can be slow. Then there is GS which is in the USA and unfamiliar with law in Canada specifically BC.

I have had dealings with the Minister of Highways before and thus have a working knowledge of how they work. Looking at this as a whole I figured that GS was talking to an Area Office of the MOT and not the Ministers Office regarding policy. I know from my past dealings that only the Minister can make policy. It was likely that an official letter or email with MOT Letterhead or email address arrived at GS and they took it as official. This was later taken as the case when GS talked to the complainant and asked if he spoke for all of the MOT and his reply was yes. (I didn’t know the last sentence till just last week.)

I was also frustrated because the two reviewers had different interpretations of the new directive from GS. Some caches were being published and others were denied.

I have been working with Pemberton Tourism help set-up the family friendly caching in Pemberton, and there were 3 caches that were being help up along a non MOT road there were 3 caches that were published along Highway 101 on the Sunshine Coast. One was a mere 5 m from the Highway (under normal rules this cache should be placed) and yet it was approved on the new rules, but how?

It turns out that the cache owner went to his local MOT Area Manager in Powell River and presented the caches to him and he approved them.
I then thought how best to deal with all this was to go to my MLA and talk to her and ask her for help. As I do not belong to the board (BCGA) I can make this request as a private citizen. Going through my MLA also speeds things up; basically it moves your request to the front of the line. If I had sent an email directly to the Minister it can takes 2-3 months for a reply. I received an email within days of my request.
In that email from my MLA the Minister says it is only his Office that can make policy and it is Section 62 of the ACT that needs to be followed.
I managed to clear up two things within a few days of my request. The only other problem was what a Highway is. I have posted about the LKI, but this could cause a problem as it contains Provincial Parks and Picnic areas in it in some cases. So rather than taint the Ministers reply to my question I just asked what a highway is under section 62.
I now await the Ministers letter to myself.

Katcogo posts on October 29 2011 a whole bunch of emails etc to show what was going on between the BCGA and GS. In the end not much was going as GS was not responding to anyone. She writes at the end of that post “The executive now has some basis with which to proceed and we shall.” Yet the line before says GS has closed the file. So please outline how to the members how you plan on doing this?
On October 27 2011 Wizard of Ooze posts on her web page the new rules are the “old rules” with the exception of Quesnel Highway District. In case you haven’t figured it out this is where the complaint came from.
Now take a moment here to understand it. Quesnel Highways district goes from south of Prince George to north of Williams Lake out to the coast and east on Highway 26 to Barkerville.

One should ask ask why Quesnel was singled out.

As the complaint came from there GS asked me how it should be dealt with. I had suggested that in my prior jobs we made onsite visits talked to the complainant and then in this case I would take the time to visit a cache near a highway or a cache that the complainant might have knowledge of that caused the complaint. Discuss the rules and then explain how the Province of BC has spent thousands of dollars on having the BCGA place caches in BC Parks over the last several years. This would show that Victoria supports caching.

Once this was done report back to GS and that could be done on the phone or in person. I said another cacher would be joining me and we would pay all our own expenses.
This proposal was present to Kelly at the BCGA and the only thing he said he would like to see a member of the board join us, otherwise it was a great idea.

GS also thought it was a great idea and would be in contact with me in the next 48 hours.

I might add here that GS contacted me before they contacted BCGA and I was asked who should be the next person to be contacted as GS had 7 calls to make. I said call Kelly at the BCGA.

The next day I get an email in the late afternoon from GS with their decision, to say I felt like I had just been blind sided along with the rest of BC made me sick.

It has one line from GS concerns me and should concern all members:
Additionally, I encourage you to tread very lightly where Quesnel MOT is concerned – it seems wise to let a sleeping dog lie. I understand that he may eventually escalate his cause. If he does, it will be a task for the BCGA to handle as the official organization representing the area. I’m sure that the BCGA leaders have some ideas for managing such a possibility.

So the answer is, do not allow caches to be placed in Quesnel. For how long, it means forever. Why because as I have already said the case has been closed. Remember GS wants to let a sleeping dog lie.

Why should this happen? I have already got an email from the Minister’s Office saying that Section 62 is what applies and it his office that makes policy here. The Minister has the final say not the complainant.
What they don’t want is Quesnel District Office escalating the complaint to the Minister’s Office and really making something out of it. Then they will have to deal with at even a higher level.

So we now have area that can’t have caches placed at this time and sometime into the future. GS isn’t doing anything about it and it would appear that the BCGA’s hands are tied as GS has closed the file.

It has been my experience that when a dog woken up from his sleep months down the road the dog will even be more mad and harder to deal with.

Remember I had suggested a solution at no cost to either party yet GS in 24 hours changed their minds. I also had an email from the Minister in case Quesnel MOT Office decided to tell me differently.

In all this Wizard of Ooze also points out that one must obtain the landowner's and/or land manager's permission. This for the most part has been ignored till now. Surrey parks are a must. I have been told the caches in Pemberton must have the landowners’ permission yet so many caches are placed and published daily without this. Parking lot caches, logging road caches are a good example of this.

I am not sure how cachers in Quesnel are going to deal with but I have my idea’s all one has to reread what I have posted and figure it out.

I know this has been rather long but it needed to be said in order to explain it.
I had to cut it shorter than I had wished.

The question is is the BCGA going to do for Quesnel? We know what GS is doing.

Thank You BCGA Members for your time.

Phil
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Cuddlefish



Joined: Oct 20, 2008
Posts: 299

PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Open Letter to the BCGA Membership Reply with quote

Phil:

1. Groundspeak has asked BCGA to be a contact for this issue. They (and the reviewers) have specifically requested no individuals become involved with the MOT directly, but for our membership to go through the organisation first.

2. Groundspeak and the reviewers are bound by how much information they may release and the BCGA respects this. As much as we want to go into detail, it is not our place to do so.

3. BCGA represents all of BC. Including Quesnel. We will continue to find a resolution to this issue.

Phil, I apologise that you've felt you were blindsided. Our message to you was consistent all along. We welcomed your help, your expertise and initiative, but unfortunately, we were unable to have you proceed as an individual. I recall asking for your MLA to contact the BCGA in an email reply to you.

In addition Phil, I can appreciate you have put forth your side of the issue. The BCGA have a slightly different version of events, but it will not move this matter forward to argue with your assertions. The BCGA would like this situation to be resolved and we are working on this issue directly.
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Philatsea



Joined: Jun 17, 2008
Posts: 118

PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 10:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Open Letter to the BCGA Membership Reply with quote

Jacqueline:


Quote::
1. Groundspeak has asked BCGA to be a contact for this issue. They (and the reviewers) have specifically requested no individuals become involved with the MOT directly, but for our membership to go through the organisation first.

Yes, and this was the case when I started this. If I had taken this advise we would not have the partial resolution we have today.

Quote::
2. Groundspeak and the reviewers are bound by how much information they may release and the BCGA respects this. As much as we want to go into detail, it is not our place to do so.

I am aware of this and been very careful to not release information that I was sent till it was either released my the BCGA or GS.

Quote::
3. BCGA represents all of BC. Including Quesnel. We will continue to find a resolution to this issue.

I am not sure how you find a resolution when the parent body (GS) you need to contact says the file is closed and just let sleeping dogs lie.

Quote::
Phil, I apologise that you've felt you were blindsided. Our message to you was consistent all along. We welcomed your help, your expertise and initiative, but unfortunately, we were unable to have you proceed as an individual. I recall asking for your MLA to contact the BCGA in an email reply to you.

In addition Phil, I can appreciate you have put forth your side of the issue. The BCGA have a slightly different version of events, but it will not move this matter forward to argue with your assertions. The BCGA would like this situation to be resolved and we are working on this issue directly.

Jacqueline, there is no need for you to apologize as it was GS that blindsided me not the BCGA from the information I have.

I explained that I would not get my MLA to contact the BCGA and the reasons why. I still stand by that. My MLA has all the information they need and sent a further request to the Minister. The facts have been explained to me by Jenn and I have sent those off.

The question is who are you working on this issue with? As far as I know GS has told both myself and the BCGA to let sleeping dogs lie. It will be dealt with if a further complaint is received. Has a further complaint been received?

Currently as it stands the reviewers are breaking the MOT Policy for Quesnel as laid out my the Minister.

I can say this I could go place a cache in Quesnel and ask that it be published. It would then be turned down under the new rules. I would then pull out my letter from the Minister and that would be the authority to publish it. Jenn has asked me to not do this by the way.
If it really be known anyone could do this because the Minister makes policy for all of BC and this letter has been provided to GS so they are aware of the policy.

What has been decided is to ignore what the Minister has said and this opens the BCGA to problems down the road. Why, because you along with GS didn't listen to his first request so he makes a further policy change, will you listen to that?

What I am trying to do is show both the BCGA and the members the pitfalls of the choice that GS has made. This isn't meant to start an argument but no one can make good choices without the facts.

I have the impression for the last several years that no matter who is on the board it ends up being micro managed each time. So the question is how do we get away from this? I have some ideas, the board members are split and run for two year terms to try and keep some continuity in things. As it stands now each year the board starts fresh and has to learn all over again. So we elect half the board each ear, the only exception would be that the President and Vice president would be on the same two years.

I have nothing against the current board and I have met several of them including you. I have no hard feelings towards any of them. I just think it has become a poisoned pen type of board. No matter the new blood, it appears to end up with the last two months of term with board members saying I am a volunteer and I didn’t take this on to take all the stuff that goes with it.

It is a thankless job. I do appreciate the effort they make and I say Thank You.

The question is how do we change this?

I think once we solve this we can better solve the issues. GS may see the BCGA as a poisoned pen board and thus why they don't contact the board as soon as the board would like them to.

Phil
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jangor



Joined: Jan 05, 2007
Posts: 144
Location: Surrey, BC

PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 12:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Open Letter to the BCGA Membership Reply with quote

After reading all the threads regarding this issue, it would seem to me that Phil has made the most progress towards a solution. It also seems that the BCGA and GS seem to think that the BCGA should be the one to work towards a solution. GS is obviously not too interested as they have closed the file.

That being said, I would suggest that the BCGA form a committee, appoint Phil as the chairman and let that committee deal with the issue. That would preserve the contacts made by Phil and the work done to date. All further work by that committee would fall under the auspices of the BCGA. By doing it this way, the committee would continue to exist beyond the AGM and the continuity of the contacts and the work would be preserved.

Seems like a workable idea if Phil is willing.
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HuggyFamily



Joined: Apr 07, 2007
Posts: 44

PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Open Letter to the BCGA Membership Reply with quote

jangor wrote:
That being said, I would suggest that the BCGA form a committee, appoint Phil as the chairman and let that committee deal with the issue.

Now that is the best idea I have heard yet. No wonder jangor's puzzles are so good. He is a man of logic and clear thought.


Mr. Huggy.
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Philatsea



Joined: Jun 17, 2008
Posts: 118

PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Open Letter to the BCGA Membership Reply with quote

jangor wrote:
After reading all the threads regarding this issue, it would seem to me that Phil has made the most progress towards a solution. It also seems that the BCGA and GS seem to think that the BCGA should be the one to work towards a solution. GS is obviously not too interested as they have closed the file.

That being said, I would suggest that the BCGA form a committee, appoint Phil as the chairman and let that committee deal with the issue. That would preserve the contacts made by Phil and the work done to date. All further work by that committee would fall under the auspices of the BCGA. By doing it this way, the committee would continue to exist beyond the AGM and the continuity of the contacts and the work would be preserved.

Seems like a workable idea if Phil is willing.

I would like to think that the original idea I suggested to Jenn and Kelly was along the same lines but not as far. I had said I report back to both of them.

I am open to the idea.

Phil
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grafinator



Joined: Nov 12, 2006
Posts: 195
Location: Coruscant

PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Open Letter to the BCGA Membership Reply with quote

Maybe BC geocachers not renewing their premium memberships would get some attention, I am assuming 30,000 dollars in lost income would mean something to Groundspeak. But maybe BC is insignificant to the money making machine Groundspeak has become.

Thanks for your work Phil.

It is interesting how fast a resolution was found to get E.T. Highway up and running again.

_________________
I find your lack of faith disturbing. - Darth Vader
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Fonty Family



Joined: Nov 15, 2009
Posts: 149
Location: Kelowna

PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Open Letter to the BCGA Membership Reply with quote

jangor wrote:
After reading all the threads regarding this issue, it would seem to me that Phil has made the most progress towards a solution. It also seems that the BCGA and GS seem to think that the BCGA should be the one to work towards a solution. GS is obviously not too interested as they have closed the file.

That being said, I would suggest that the BCGA form a committee, appoint Phil as the chairman and let that committee deal with the issue. That would preserve the contacts made by Phil and the work done to date. All further work by that committee would fall under the auspices of the BCGA. By doing it this way, the committee would continue to exist beyond the AGM and the continuity of the contacts and the work would be preserved.

Seems like a workable idea if Phil is willing.

This sounds like the best case scenario for BC...as Phil seems to have strong contacts and a good understanding of the issue
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IRLPGUY



Joined: Mar 01, 2007
Posts: 174

PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Open Letter to the BCGA Membership Reply with quote

The disturbing position taken by someone at a Regional Office of the MOT and delivered to Groundspeak as Policy on behalf of the MOT still seems far short of being resolved. Why Groundspeak has closed their file and taken the stance they have, is bewildering to say the least. We are left in the dark to speculate on that.

I congratulate Phil for his work in proceeding in a manner that indicates his knowledge and understanding of how best to deal with issues concerning a Government Department.

Were it not for his hard work the BC caching community would not have been presented with the information he has so far provided regarding policy and the formation of policy within the MOT. From his diligent work we know a couple of important things.

1) Policy cannot be established at the Regional level and only the Minister is responsible for setting policy.

2) There has been no change to MOT policy made by the Minister, and there is no policy specific to Geocaching, however there is a certain section of the act that governs “all” activity within the control of the MOT. This would include Geocaching.

Early in September I was told in confidence why this directive was formulated and subsequently sent to Groundspeak. I have kept that information confidential, however in light of what has now taken place I feel I should speak out. I was informed that Groundspeak was working diligently on this issue and I was asked to assist if necessary in “calming the waters” should it become necessary. I made a couple of posts suggesting everyone allow Groundspeak time to deal with this issue in support of what I “assumed” was taking place. At that time I was under the mistaken impression that Groundspeak was working hand in hand with the BCGA, and had engaged the BCGA as an equal partner in resolving this issue. It soon became apparent that was not the case, and I am very upset that at least a few very important things were not established at the outset.

1) If it was mutually determined that Groundspeak would take the lead in dealing with this issue, then the official representative from Groundspeak should have been working with the President of the BCGA and all communication regarding this issue should have been shared with the President.

2) As the “official” representative for it’s membership and Geocaching in BC, the BCGA should have either lead the investigation or at the very least insisted that they be kept abreast of all aspects of it. It is my opinion they should have been leading this since it is those in BC who are affected. It is the BCGA who works with Agencies in the Province to establish Geocaching policy, it is not and has never been Groundspeak. We must remember this in the future.

3) Establishing some means of communicating progress to the membership through the President with respect to this issue appears to have been impossible because the BCGA was not being kept abreast by Groundspeak. Communication was seriously lacking, and caused serious concerns among the membership.

This directive to Groundspeak came from the Quesnel District Office. Since I knew what took place that initiated the issue, I assumed Phil and the BCGA knew as well. If I read what Phil is saying correctly I believe he has made the suggestion that he would be willing to go and meet with the appropriate person from the Quesnel office at his own expense in an attempt to work further toward resolving this issue.
I think this is an excellent idea. Any discussion would obviously need to be handled very carefully, but I think Phil has demonstrated that he is capable of doing this without further damage to the cause of Geocaching.

I would guess that the Manager from the Quesnel Office acted in the way he did due to perceived or imagined concerns when he was presented with information on one or more possible problem caches. I believe it will be important to identify and address those concerns and assure him that they will be managed to the satisfaction of the Ministry and the Act as it now stands province wide.

If such a meeting were to take place, I think it imperative that Phil be empowered to speak on behalf of the BCGA. He might wish to be accompanied by someone from the Executive, however I do not see that as being necessary to his representing the BCGA in this matter. Phil has certainly demonstrated his willingness to share information to the extent he is able, and has indicated a willingness to report to the BCGA and it’s members. He has taken the lead in this matter and should maintain that lead going forward. I certainly feel he should be compensated by the BCGA should be decide to make this journey on behalf of all geocachers in BC.

I hope the Executive do not take my post as critical of their efforts, I feel they were put in a less than desirable position with little respect shown to them by Groundspeak as being the official representatives for Geocaching in the Province. This will hopefully never be repeated and should serve as a learning experience to the current and future Executive.

Well done Phil, I wish you good luck if you decide to proceed forward, I for one hope you do.
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Cuddlefish



Joined: Oct 20, 2008
Posts: 299

PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Open Letter to the BCGA Membership Reply with quote

The BCGA Exec met recently to discuss this issue amongst others at our monthly meeting. We have been in touch with several MOT Employees, including one who is a geocacher, and we are contacting the Minister directly. Furthermore, we have good contacts in other BC Provincial Ministries who have been very supportive of geocaching in this province.

Should our present efforts get us no further with the Quesnel situation, we may very well need to find a plan B. We are hoping that this can be resolved quickly and easily with our direct communication on behalf of our members and all geocachers in BC.

Groundspeak remain very supportive of BCGA's efforts in this matter. They appreciate having a local geocaching body to deal with the provincial ministry.
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Philatsea



Joined: Jun 17, 2008
Posts: 118

PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Open Letter to the BCGA Membership Reply with quote

Cuddlefish wrote:
The BCGA Exec met recently to discuss this issue amongst others at our monthly meeting. We have been in touch with several MOT Employees, including one who is a geocacher, and we are contacting the Minister directly. Furthermore, we have good contacts in other BC Provincial Ministries who have been very supportive of geocaching in this province.

Should our present efforts get us no further with the Quesnel situation, we may very well need to find a plan B. We are hoping that this can be resolved quickly and easily with our direct communication on behalf of our members and all geocachers in BC.

Groundspeak remain very supportive of BCGA's efforts in this matter. They appreciate having a local geocaching body to deal with the provincial ministry.

Great, NOT.

The BCGA to this point has done nothing. This may not be their fault but now we have a two pronged attack that appears to headed to the Minister. Further the BCGA are now trying to assume damage control and now try and do what I am currently doing.

I got word today that the Minister is going to issue some sort of letter through my MLA within the next several days, possibly tomorrow they were hoping.
Now having the BCGA contact the Minister before they see the ruling will only prolong this ruling.
Good we have a board that has shown no control to many items this year.
We have had a President who says he has had his fill of problems and calls this year.
We have another board member say we are Volunteers and we have lives, in other words we don't have time to deal with this.

Oh and by the way the board should know the sleeping dog has been woken from his sleep by the Ministers Office.

I would like to suggest that the board wait till I get my current ruling before contacting the Minister.

If the Board does contact the Minister this could end up being months if not years before it is resolved. It has been my experience that when a Ministers Office is hit with several requests then it is shuffled to the back burner and dealt with when he finds the time.

Just once listen to your members; based on the email I have had that sure doesn't appear to be the case so far or the posts to this thread.

Phil
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Cuddlefish



Joined: Oct 20, 2008
Posts: 299

PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:28 pm    Post subject: Re: Open Letter to the BCGA Membership Reply with quote

Actually, Phil, this has been our approach all along. We have asked that you allow the BCGA and Groundspeak to handle this matter, and you have chosen to act as an individual anyways. We heard our members from the beginning and have been working for them since August on this matter.

Furthermore, it is unfortunate that with the tone of your response you indicate that you have no intention of working harmoniously with others on this issue. In particular it seems you have taken offense with the BCGA Board. You have not furthered your own cause here with this inflammatory post. Indeed, it think it is stands as evidence as why we will be unable to work together to resolve this issue at present, despite some of the well considered earlier suggestions in this thread.
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Cuddlefish



Joined: Oct 20, 2008
Posts: 299

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 8:45 am    Post subject: Re: Open Letter to the BCGA Membership Reply with quote

This thread will remain locked, not because we do not want to share the developments with respect to the MOT roadside ban, but because the tone meant the important message was being drowned out. There is already another thread started for further developments on this matter. with a far more hopeful, positive tone.
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