Only safe source will curb overdose crisis

Only safe source will curb overdose crisis

Courtenay parents, nurse petition Ottawa for system to prevent opioid deaths

BY SHANYN SIMCOE

Over 7,000 Canadians died of opioid overdose in 2016 and 2017. Courtenay parents John and Jennifer Hedican’s eldest son, Ryan, was one of them.

He was 26-years-old and a third-year electrician. He had completed eight months of recovery, returned to work, experienced a relapse, and was found unresponsive on his job site in Vancouver during a lunch break on April 24th, 2017.

Relapse is a normal and anticipated stage of the recovery process and the Hedicans believe that if he had access to a safe source of narcotics, Ryan would not have died by fentanyl-poisoning that day.

In Ryan’s honour, the Hedicans have partnered with me to author a petition to the House of Commons demanding that a system be created to ensure a safe source of substances so that people who use drugs experimentally, recreationally or chronically, are not at imminent risk of death due to a contaminated source.

FURTHER READING: How could this happen?

The Hedicans and I believe that access to a safe, regulated and monitored source is the only solution to prevent overdose and fentanyl-poisoning deaths.

We are astounded at the lack of aggressive action by our federal government in response to such devastating, preventable and continuing loss. We are asking Canadians to join their call to action by signing the petition and pressuring their MPs to demand that our prime minister and government make the policy changes needed to save lives now.

We recently held a signature drive in downtown Courtenay, Campbell River and Cumberland, collecting 781 new signatures.

We are also asking that personal possession be decriminalized to reduce the stigma resulting from the criminalization of substance use. They want our government to adopt a model similar to that used in Portugal, which treats problematic substance use as a health, rather than criminal justice issue. Fear of stigma and punishment currently prevents people from accessing health care services and treatment.

The third ask is that the opioid crisis be declared a national public health emergency.

The number of preventable overdose deaths to date has far surpassed the total number of deaths of all other public health emergencies in the last 20 years including SARS, H1N1, and Ebola, yet the crisis has not achieved national emergency status. Despite the expansion of the Take Home Naloxone program and the establishment of Overdose Prevention Sites, approximately four people die each day from opioid overdoses due to fentanyl-poisoned sources.

Males aged 19-49 are at the highest risk. Sixty-three percent of overdose deaths occurring in private residences. 120 Canadians are dying every month, each one a child, sibling, spouse, parent, colleague, client, friend.

Our online petition has over 2,100 signatures and many paper versions have been mailed in.

FURTHER READING: Sign the online petition here.

MP Gord Johns tabled the petition in the House of Commons for the first time before the summer sitting. You can see his speech here

The online petition closes July 25th and the government is required to respond within 45 days. This petition has recently been endorsed by the British Columbia Nurses’ Union.

Shanyn Simcoe is a Comox Valley nurse activist. She wrote this article for the Comox Valley Civic Journalism Project. She can be reached at shanyn.simcoe@gmail.com

 

Furstenau Sets Tone at Green Party AGM

Furstenau Sets Tone at Green Party AGM

Comox Valley Green Party members hear about sustainable futures

BY PAT CARL

More than 30 people attending the North Island-Powell River Green Party AGM in Campbell River on June 16 heard from the David who defeated the provincialGoliath and saved the Shawnigan Lake watershed.

Not so David-like anymore, Sonya Furstenau, Deputy Leader of the provincial Green Party and the MLA representing the Cowichan Valley, held listeners enthralled as she related a conversation she had with her 12-year-old son.

When asked by Furstenau how he was feeling about his future, her son responded “not so good.”

“Why not?” Furstenau asked.

“Because of pollution,” he said, “and climate change, and Trump.”

A sobering assessment for one so young. His response, though, prompted Furstenau to think of her own experience in organizing community members. Such organizing in Shawnigan was successful and taught Furstenau the value to hope.

While the federal government continues to “look backward by doubling down on the decreasing returns” associated with resource extraction, Furstenau claims new approaches rooted in education must encourage the development of innovative technologies to secure a healthy, sustainable future for our child and the planet.

To refuse to embrace such a future is to “download the cost of climate change onto local communities” leading to the numerous forest fires and the catastrophic flooding that plagues Canada and the rest of the globe.

Most worrisome for Furstenau is the Trumpian tendency of our elected representatives in provincial legislatures and parliament to “mistrust” each other and to avoid “working together across party lines.” Good ideas die on the vine because our elected representatives see collaboration as a weakness.

The lack of collaboration leads to polarization. Observing this at first hand fuels Furstenau’s support for proportional representation. The provincial referendum, scheduled in six months, gives voters a chance to reform BC’s electoral system.

Such reform will lessen the “community fractures along party lines” as candidates will “no longer seek to destroy the opposition” because they will need to work together, if elected, to develop long-lasting policies that benefit British Columbians.

According to Furstenau, “Fear drives the anti-proportional representation campaign. The antidote to fear is hope.” Despite challenges, Furstenau continues to be hopeful about her son’s future.

Accompanying Furstenau to Campbell River was Sonia Theroux, the Green Party of Canada Director of Mobilization, who describes herself as loving governance, but not politics. She encouraged Green Party members to step-up their organizational and volunteer efforts within their communities. Don’t look to others to do the work. “If it’s your idea,” Theroux said, “it’s your project.”

Business conducted at the AGM included the election of a slate of candidates to the North Island-Powell River’s Electoral District Association.

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PHOTO: (Left to right) Members of the Green Party of Canada North Island-Powell River Executive: Doug Cowell, Terry Choquette, Jay Van Oostdam, Mark de Bruijn, Guest Sonia Theroux, Megan Ardyche, Mark Tapper, MLA Sonya Furstenau, Blair Cusack, Cynthia Barnes, and Gail Wolverton.

Pat Carl is a Citizen Journalist with the Comox Valley Civic Journalism Project. She can be reached at patcarl0808@gmail.com

 

 

“Unbelievable accusations” move water bottling to public hearing

“Unbelievable accusations” move water bottling to public hearing

The CVRD moved a rezoning application for a water bottling plant in Merville to a public hearing later this summer after the applicant complained the process has not been fair or transparent

 

UPDATE, 10:30 am June 18 — In a surprise move, the Comox Valley Regional District Electoral Areas Services Committee did not take a vote this morning (June 18) to reject a rezoning application for a water bottling plant in Merville.

Instead, following complaints by the applicant, Christopher Scott Mackenzie, that his rezoning application process has been unfair and not transparent, Area C Director Edwin Grieve made a motion to take the application to a public hearing. No date has been set.

The CVRD staff recommended the committee deny Mackenzie’s rezoning application — see original story below.

At this morning’s meeting, Mackenzie said the staff report contained “a lot of derogatory comments that lack any real substance.” He called them a “barrage of unbelievable accusations” that have “spiraled out of control.”

Mackenzie submitted documents to the CVRD that he says show fears about depleting the aquifer from which he would draw up to 10,000 litres per day are not true.

“It’s not going to happen,” he said. And he briefly noted claims in his submitted documents that the aquifer is actually a catch basin that recharges every year.

He said water levels in the aquifer have increased by 3.2 cm in the last 14 years — the equivalent of more than 300 million litres of water — despite  92 years of water extraction by neighboring property owners.

Before being cut off by the committee chair, Mackenzie alleged that neighboring farms and homesteads had multiple wells into the aquifer, including some that are “free-flowing artesian wells.”

Mackenzie said he doesn’t like how his “simple application” has been represented and that he’s gotten no support from Director Grieve, the Area C representative. 

In making his motion for a public hearing Grieve said, “The applicant is concerned about the protection of his process. I don’t want him to think he isn’t getting a fair shake.”

The public hearing is likely to be held sometime this summer.


The original story ….

The Comox Valley Regional District staff has recommended denying a rezoning application for a Merville area property that would permit a water bottling operation.

But the fight to stop the extraction of up to 10,000 litres of groundwater per day is not over.

The Electoral Services Commission is expected to rely on the staff report at its meeting this morning (June 18) and reject the rezoning application. But that only means the applicants cannot operate a water bottling facility on the Sackville road property.

The water license issued to Christopher Scott Mackenzie and Regula Heynck by the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) remains valid.

They can still extract the water and, with an amendment to his license, can sell it by some method other than a bottling facility on the property.

If the couple attempts to truck water off the property to sell and deliver, the case could end up in court over whether “trucking” falls under the CVRD’s rezoning authority.

FURTHER READING: Ministry stalls FOI request; Farmers urge CVRD to reject Merville water bottling operation; Water Bottling project raises aquifer concerns

So the fight to protect the aquifer for nearby farmers has, for now, shifted to the Environmental Appeal Board and a citizens petition.

Bruce Gibbons, who owns and lives on ALR land about 300 metres from the Sackville Road site, has filed an appeal under the Water Sustainability Act (WSA).

Gibbons expects a decision any day on whether he has the right to appeal, meaning whether the merits of his appeal meet the criteria of the WSA. If the board rules in his favor, then he can makes arguments in front of the board for withdrawing or altering Mackenzie’s and Heynck’s water licence.

The Merville Water Guardians, a group of neighboring landowners formed to fight the water bottling operation, is circulating a petition for the BC government to stop approving groundwater licenses for bottling and commercial sales.

“The petition focuses on groundwater,” Gibbons told Decafnation. “With fresh water licences, you can see the effect — a stream goes dry. But with groundwater, you can’t see the impact on an aquifer.”

“The people … must demand … immediate action to stop approving groundwater aquifer licences for bottling and commercial sale to ensure we all have access to good, clean water for our personal needs, to grow our backyard gardens and to supply the farms that grow our food,” the petition reads.

The CVRD staff report echoes that sentiment.

“The proposed land use is incompatible with the surrounding area, and once such land use is permitted through zoning, the CVRD is potentially enabling the use of this property for water bottling at a much greater scale in the future,” the report reads.

K’omoks First Nation

The CVRD reached out to numerous stakeholders and other regulatory agencies for feedback on the rezoning proposal, including the K’omoks First Nation.

In a strong letter to the CVRD, Chief Nicole Rempel noted that KFN had originally opposed the application back in 2017 when the ministry considered the water license.

“I wish to advise you that in addition to the matters that we have raised in our various communications with the province, we are concerned that the actual license has been issued unlawfully,” Rempel wrote. “It is obvious to us that the consultation with K’omoks on this matter has not been meaningful and our substantive concerns have not been addressed.”

FURTHER READING: Read the 206-page staff report, which includes the feedback from K’omoks First Nation and agencies, as well as the public feedback.

 

A caregiver’s hard decision: help wanted

A caregiver’s hard decision: help wanted

Is it okay to strap a loved one into a wheelchair?

BY DELORES BROTEN

So we have come to a point where my love is walking … meandering, staggering … around with his eyes sometimes closed. His legs are buckled, he leans sideways or backwards and it is truly scary. It looks like he could fall any minute, and he could. Not all the time but a lot. And he sometimes does fall, and quite often nearly does. He usually won’t sit down for long.

The care home aides and nurses want … or suggest, that he needs to be strapped into a wheelchair. To prevent falls. They are as terrified as I am when walking beside or behind him. He could hurt himself or them.

And he has fallen a few times … kind of sliding to the ground in confusion when his legs don’t work. No injuries yet. “I don’t know what is wrong with my leg,” he says.

Neither does anyone. It is a guess but probably it is a possible bout of sciatica, part the pain meds, possibly the dementia closing down another segment of the mind, but mostly because he can no longer orient vertical, up and down. That was an early problem. Now he doesn’t know where is upright and can’t tell his legs what to do. The dementia is taking away even that.

Top photo: Don Broten at Miracle Beach in better days. Above photo: A more recent image

So it is a safety issue. But I cannot see the advantage or the care in strapping him down like the worst kind of tortured prisoner and I am refusing to sign the paper.

It is illegal to restrain him without my okay.

And I am NOT okay with this.

Over the two-and-a-half years we have been there I have seen this. The patient starts strapped down for safety but is taken out and up on their feet for a walk 20 minutes a day. At most. Soon of course they can’t walk at all and life becomes a Brody chair. Where they lie swearing and trying to get out, while the care machine rolls on around them and staff gossip and go for breaks.

Then, unlike when they were mobile, the patient-victims really ARE swiftly parked and ignored. Oh fed and cleaned and cooed at from time to time, but that’s about it. No interaction except with family. Even the recreation aides don’t have much to offer once they are parked.

I want to puke. This is not humane.

Many of the parked recognize that I am a friendly face and make some kind of happy contact. But like everyone, I walk on by, with other things to do.

Part of me thinks wildly that i could bring him home, transform our house … foam on the floors and clear out the furniture such as it is, and extra care aides. Let him wander and fall safely in his strange fragmented world. Bring him home.

But foam doesn’t clean well and it is not that simple. It is the 36-hour job.

We don’t have family willing or able to take shifts and we don’t have that much money to get a suitable house, transform it and hire help. That is for the one percenters. For us, we are beyond lucky to have public care. Many don’t.

There is also my own slowly eroding remnant of a life to consider – although at moments like this it doesn’t count for much, and those who depend on my work. That must count too.

On the other hand my own mother was strapped in a chair because she kept trying to walk when she was totally paralysed on the left side, with resultant dementia. And there was no other choice. But she was not drugged and never parked. She had my father with her 24/7.

I have no idea what kind of love and determination that took. After she died he regained a huge amount of mental capacity and resilience. He did see what was coming for my love and me and told me not to do as he had done.

Comments and advice are welcome, here (on her blog), on Facebook, or by personal email. I need some help with this.

Delores Broten is one of British Columbia’s many thousands of unpaid caregivers. She is the editor of the award-winning Watershed Sentinel magazine published in Comox. She wrote this for her blog “CaringCV,” and is reprinted here with permission. She may be contacted at editor@watershedsentinel.ca. 

 

FURTHER READING: Read Delores Broten’s blog, “CaringCV”  

 

An alternate reality: Clark pumps PR

An alternate reality: Clark pumps PR

Christy Clark supported PR in 2009 CKNW broadcast

By PAT CARL AND MEL McLACHLAN 

Upon winning the BC Liberal leadership, Andrew Wilkinson, a long-time party fixture, lost little time in reminding his people that the party’s most important goal is the defeat of proportional representation in the upcoming provincial referendum.

While Liberal opposition to proportional representation is no secret, there is a BC Liberal insider whose thoughts regarding proportional representation they probably wish didn’t exist in the public domain. But they do exist, and the words are from none other than Christy Clark.

Yes, you read that right. Clark articulates a thoughtful, informed case for changing our voting system and, at the same time, levels a powerful indictment against the politicians who are fighting tooth and nail to keep first past the post.

FURTHER READING: Listen to Clark’s 2009 broadcast

In this rather confessional 2009 CKNW radio broadcast, Clark, who at the time was not in politics, admits, that while in the Gordon Campbell government, she avidly supported first past the post because it worked for her, was in her own interest. She confides, though, that since she has “left politics my views have changed,” mainly because she hears from her CKNW listeners who are “sick to death of the way our political system works.”

She agrees with listeners’ grievances, which include having their votes “thrown in the garbage,” politicians who “ignore what their constituents want” and an “relentless vitriolic” war of words during question period that “poisons us all against our democratic process.”

Clark’s indictment of those who fight against proportional representation is stark:

“When I look at the people who are actively campaigning against [proportional representation]” I see “people whose interests and, in many cases, whose income is dependent on keeping our system the way it is. People who … relish the ugly realities of the first past the post system.”

Clark believes that electoral reform actually frightens them.

Clark continues by saying that in proportional representation, all politicians will need “to compete for all of your votes,” they’ll need “to listen to their communities first and their leaders and their parties second,” and that voters can choose a representative they “think is the smartest, the one you think is most ethical.”

Further, according to Clark, “all politicians will have an incentive to get along,” which means a return to “civility in politics.”

Listening to this broadcast for the first time is like stumbling into an alternate universe. Certainly, not the same old, same old Liberal position.

We never thought we would say this: Listen to Clark, and vote for proportional representation.

Pat Carl and Mel McLachlan are members of Fair Vote Comox Valley

FURTHER READING: Fair vote BC; 

 

 

Is Site C a Done Deal?

Is Site C a Done Deal?

Dam opponents share concerns at a Comox Valley town hall meeting

PHOTO: Arlene Boon,on the Boon’s farm in the family for three generations, points out the proposed flood line if Site C dam goes ahead. Note the yellow stakes, raising funds for the First Nations’ court challenge. Photo by Sally Gellard

 

BY SALLY GELLARD

Last Friday evening 150 people gathered at the K’omox First Nation Band Hall for a powerful inspiring evening of speakers who proved that the fight to save the Peace River Valley is far from over.

The attentive audience heard from Ken Boon, farmer and member of the Peace Valley Landowners Association; Steve Gray, Site C Summit co-chair; and Wendy Holm, agronomist.

All three speakers explained why Site C is a boondoggle.

Boondoogle, a word rarely used before Site C, is defined as “unnecessary, wasteful and often counterproductive.” It is also a leather cord worn by Boy Scouts. There is no mistaking which definition Rafe Mair refered to in his latest book, “Politically Incorrect,” published shortly after his death in 2017.

“Site C, perhaps the most monstrous of them all, because we have the opportunity with a new provincial government to rid ourselves of this massive destruction of farmland and desecration of First Nations heritage in order to build a dam to provide power we don’t need, to customers we don’t have, just to satisfy the Gordon Campbell/Christy Clark/Fraser Institute-inspired mad energy philosophy. The cost of this giant boondoggle to date has been massive, the environmental damage gross,” he wrote.

That about sums up all the significant arguments against Site C, with the exception of the geotechnical issues, the soaring cost over-runs, the massive debt and land destruction we are leaving for future generations and the exciting new advances in alternative energy sources emerging globally which we, in BC, are not investing in.

Without a change of heart by our provincial government, we look for hope to the Moberly Lake and Prophet River First Nations as they go to the courts to defend their homeland, their way of life, their historical and sacred sites and the recognition of Treaty 8 and the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples.

As well, two new books emerge this month in the fight to save the Peace.

“Breaching The Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand Against Big Hydro,” written by Sarah Cox, award-winning journalist; and, “Damming The Peace: The Hidden Costs of Site C Dam,” edited by Wendy Holm.

Both these books will be “a powerful resource for the resistance to the travesty called Site C,” says Maude Barlow.

There’s lots we can do to stop this boondoggle.

Donate funds for the First Nations court challenge at www.stakeforthepeace.

Locally we are holding monthly Stand For the Peace vigils in front of our MLAs office on Fifth Street in Courtenay, on the 11th of each month, the anniversary of the announcement by a sour-faced premier on Dec. 11, 2017.

Sally Gellard, a Comox Valley resident, wrote this article for Decafnation. For more information about how to get involved, she may be contacted at sallygel@gmail.com.

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