Doctors link flu outbreak to sewage leaks in estuary

Re: Current outbreak of flu potentially linked to leaky force mains in estuary

News Reports in the Vancouver Island media suggest a serious stomach flu this winter caused by the norovirus has been linked to eating raw or poorly cooked oysters. Oysters are one of the hardest working animals in the ocean. An adult oyster is capable of filtering 25-50 gallons of water a day which could concentrate the virus particles.

TV reports suggest that seniors have been hit especially hard with these symptoms this year. On its website, the Public Health Agency of Canada suggests that raw sewage is one of the sources of the spread of the virus.

Those of us who live in the Comox Valley should be particularly concerned about these observations. Our estuary and Baines Sound are important to our local economy and are one of the prime oyster growing areas in the world. Despite this, our local Sewage Commission continues to support and maintain leaky force mains in the foreshore and is suggesting the construction of a large sewage pump station in Beech Street, an area that is not serviced by sewer. This would be unfair to affected residents and would create significant risks for wells and aquifers in the area, which is close to the sensitive ecosystem of the Goose Spit.

These environmental, health, and safety issues could easily be avoided by moving the sewage infrastructure overland. This would involve upgrading the ageing Courtenay pump station (see CVRD engineer comments in recent media)and force main rather than pursuing an unnecessary and stop-gap measure in Beech Street. This approach would also be cost-effective. Specifically, an analysis has determined that it would save taxpayers between seven and twelve million dollars over the current proposal.

Is it not time to get all force mains out of our coastal waters and on land?

Yours sincerely,

DR. PAUL HORGEN, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto (retired microbiologist)

cc. Charmain Enns Medical officer

Shakesides adviser releases letter sent to Mayor Ives

May 4, 2016

Town of Comox Office of the Mayor

1809 Beaufort Avenue Comox, B.C., V9M 1R9

Attention Paul Ives, Q.C.

Dear Sir,

Re: Mack Laing Nature House Advisory Committee – Terms of Reference (TOR)

As our Committee rather abruptly concluded its meetings on Friday and they have previously agreed that email discussions are not acceptable I’m left with some outstanding questions and no one to talk to.

So I thought I would write you a note that you can (if appropriate) help me with. I’m not confident that we have satisfied the Terms of Reference that you assigned us. I am also left wondering if we perhaps strayed from the intent of the TOR as my construction expertise was rarely called on. Our chairman will be circulating his draft report to council for us to review at or just before our May 13 meeting to discuss it. As time is of the essence perhaps after your review of our April 29, 2016 meeting minutes you may wish to redirect our focus and put us back to work on the TOR.

In brief, here is where I feel we came up short:

1. Goals: a. We did not review in depth the potential of converting the existing Mack Laing House into a natural history museum. The SWOT process looked at it from a high level but did not look at it in detail. The fear of most committee members of operating and capital costs caused them to dismiss the possibility without drilling deeper into your request to examine its potential. b. I prepared a list of heritage funding organizations from an easily accessible website and then supplemented that list with private funding methods. Your second goal of the TOR (fundraising opportunities) was never raised and discussed to any extent at a meeting. So I have to conclude we have not properly achieved that goal.

2. Deliverables: a. We did not discuss or develop an action plan that would be submitted to council for potential implementation. We did come up with four options that underwent a SWOT process. During the SWOT we discussed three options related to the preservation of the house and a fourth option that did not include the house. Last week we voted that the third option Virtual Museum was the preferred option. Although I fail to see how that option applies to your TOR as a committee member I have to accept the majority 1 opinion. Discussion has ended. An action plan is still required to implement this option. That has not been completed.

3. Scope/Jurisdiction: a. As an advisory body we have not discussed (documented) how the preferred goal (or for that matter any of the options) could be met with the limited financial resources that are available. This circles us back to your second goal of identifying funding. I believe as a committee we should produce a business plan with timetable attached for each of our preferred options. That plan may bring clarity to the feasibility of the options as well as their weighted acceptability with respect to Mack Laing’s will and Trust.

In summary, I would appreciate your thoughts on the above items. I have truly enjoyed the project and as stated at our first committee meeting, I’m there to help as required and I remain so.



CVRD engineer made a shameful statement

This letter represents the concerns of over 60 households who signed a petition against the proposed Beech Street Sewage Pump Station.

We have expressed many times the serious health, safety, and fairness issues the sewage station would create. We now want to bring to your attention the democratic deficit represented by a shameful statement made recently by Kris LaRose of the Comox Valley Regional District. When Courtenay director Erik Eriksson asked why the neighbourhood directly affected by the station has no say regarding the issue, Mr. Larose said “Permission on behalf of the residents is not required for determining the alignment of the forcemain.” (Comox Valley Echo, February 24)

It has taken several years for the CVRD to reveal its approach to democracy. It has finally done so, via an audacious admission that when it makes important decisions involving taxpayers’ dollars, “permission on behalf of residents is not required”.

Mr. LaRose and members of the CVRD, we wish to remind you that the foundation of democracy is consultation with, and permission from, voters.

We have asked the CVRD over and over for proof that our safety and our wells would not be compromised. We have asked the CVRD over and over for an justification as to why those who would be affected by the sewage pump station have no say in where it is located. We have asked the CVRD over and over for an assessment of the impact of the station on people in the area, including children, the elderly, and individuals who are ill. The CVRD has not provided us with any of this information, and now we know why: it is because it believes it can act unilaterally, without considering how its decisions affect the people of the Comox Valley.

This democratic deficit extends to the other two levels of government. We have written to the federal Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, regarding the recently announced Goose Spit sewage line but have not received a reply, despite following up in writing. We have also written to the provincial Minister of Health, Terry Lake, regarding the risks to our wells but he also has not replied to our letter or to correspondence asking for an update.

If the conduct of federal, provincial, and municipal officials on this issue reflects their approach to other matters, we should all be greatly concerned.



I’m really sick

I’m really sick

I’m writing today’s column from The Office of Medical Terror, otherwise known as my bedroom.

I’m doing this because a monster truck of influenza ran over me, then backed up and ran over me again, and afterwards dumped a load of pneumonia on me. The truck also hit my wife at the same time, and turned our house into a disease-ridden wailing ward that we might have to burn down … a popular Comox Valley solution.

I should have gone to the doctor right away, but I figured he would be busy finishing junior high school.

Instead, I self-enrolled myself in the latest scientific treatment for my current condition, which consists primarily of lying around on the couch watching the popular daytime television show called “Whatever’s On,” and drinking enough water to lower the neighborhood aquifer.

During the commercial breaks, when I was able to stay in the room, I enjoyed voluminous advertising for all kinds of new drugs, with names like Confusadril, Preventidrool, Krazyglucosamine and Miketycin.

Each one sounded like just what I needed, because I might be that one person in 200 million suffering from the distilling of my carpal femur. That made me wonder if Dr. Teenager knew about this. Or, if I should have run out and bought some of that Phenaminafenafinaphen myself.

But just as I was mustering the heroic effort required to lift my frail and lifeless body off the couch, I heard somebody who talked faster than an angry Spanish mother-in-law caution me against such rash action. He said:

“Some adverse reactions may occur. These include comas, brain tumors and, in some patients, the rapid growth of hair where you don’t want it. Ears will fall off in less than 1 percent of all users. Some patients may notice the growth of extra toes. You should not take Phenamin if you are drinking orange juice or breathing air. Watching television while taking Phenamin could trigger a hallucinogenic reaction that may cause some patients to spontaneously combust.”

Maybe it was just the high fever, but these commercials seemed to be speaking to me. They seemed to be saying, “Geooorgie, buy these drugs. They might not kill you. You might only grow an extra foot. Get up and go buy them right now, and pick up an extra pair of shoes while you’re at it.”

Call me old-fashioned, but I decided to plop myself back down and use a more traditional cure: boring myself to death … whoops, wrong result. Maybe Dr. Teenager has a study break.

MEDICAL UPDATE: Dr. Teenager prescribed antibiotics, and the travel agent wrote a script for two weeks in Mexico.


Cowboy bids at local auction

Cowboy bids at local auction

Cowboy bids at auction

I have a series of photographs taken at a livestock auction somewhere north of Courtenay in the late 1970s or early 1980s. I took this image of a man raising his hand to bid at that time. For some reason I think it took place at the Norwood Equestrian Center, but the auction involved all kinds of livestock.

Does someone know the exact location of this auction and whether it still occurs? And if anyone recognizes this man, please leave a comment on this website or on the Decafnation Facebook page.

George Le Masurier

Decafnation | Feb. 17, 2017