Jonah Gowans will run for Liberals in Courtenay-Alberni

Jonah Gowans will run for Liberals in Courtenay-Alberni

Jonah Gowans

Jonah Gowans will run for Liberals in Courtenay-Alberni

By George Le Masurier

The Courtenay-Alberni Federal Liberal Association has announced Jonah Gowans as their candidate for the Liberal Party of Canada in the Courtenay-Alberni riding in the 21 October Federal
Election.

Jonah was born and raised in Powell River. He has a strong connection to the Courtenay-Alberni electoral district, having spent much time with his grandparents in Port Alberni and frequently camping
and playing high school sports throughout the district. Jonah is passionate about the outdoors, with a great love for the lakes and mountains of Vancouver Island. His other big interest is in volunteering. He
has coached high school basketball for the past three years.

Jonah has been interested and active in politics at various levels since an early age. In his high school years, he was the founder and fund-raiser for the Powell River Youth Resource Center. He has a degree
in Political Science from the University of Ottawa, and during his time in Ottawa he regularly volunteered on Parliament Hill, gaining an in-depth look at the inner workings of our Federal Government and an appreciation for both the process of government decisions and their importance for the well-being of Canadians.

Jonah has three main concerns. First, use the infrastructure money the federal government is investing here locally to support local governments. He knows from his time in Ottawa this is a constant battle to keep Courtenay Alberni in the minds of decision makers at all times.

Second, support the creation of more local jobs to help keep people in local communities for the long term.

Finally, a commitment to protecting the environment both locally and nationally.

Jonah currently is employed at the BC Legislature in Victoria and will be on leave to be available in the Courtenay-Alberni riding throughout the campaign period.

 

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The Week: Courtenay Liberals without candidate days into the Oct. 21 federal election

The Week: Courtenay Liberals without candidate days into the Oct. 21 federal election

It’s nearly the end of the season for this grove of banana trees on the Comox peninsula  /  George Le Masurier photo

The Week: Courtenay Liberals without candidate days into the Oct. 21 federal election

By George Le Masurier

UPDATE: The Liberal Party just announced their candidate at 2.48 pm today. See the story here.

Three days into the federal election campaign and the Liberal Party in the Courtenay-Alberni riding still has not chosen a candidate.

Last week, riding President Ken Richardson told Decafnation that he expected to announce their candidate early this week. But this week has come and gone. And the federal Liberals did not have a candidate as of this morning.

It’s not like they didn’t know a federal election writ would drop this fall. Everybody knew that and the other three main parties — Conservatives, NDP and the Greens — had candidates ready and already campaigning.

So, what’s going on with the federal Liberal Party?

Maybe nobody is stepping up in the riding that most people think will be a battle between incumbent Gord Johns of the NDP and Byron Horner of the Conservatives.

Or, maybe there’s a backroom deal in the works.

There’s enough ideological overlap between the provincial Liberals and the Federal Conservatives to engender suspicions of a deal. The Liberals promise not to run a federal candidate so as not to take votes from the Conservatives, giving Horner a better chance against Johns and the NDP. In turn, the Conservatives promise not to run a candidate in the next provincial election, giving the eventual BC Liberal candidate a better chance against Ronna Rae-Leonard — who only squeaked into office by a handful of votes.

But that’s delving a little too deep into conspiracy theories. Or is it? What is the alternative reason for the federal Liberals to lag so far behind?

The CBC won’t host a federal election debate focused on climate change, but a group of Comox Valley organizations have planned one for the Courtenay-Alberni riding.

The candidates forum to talk about the climate crisis and what our role is to fix it is being sponsored by the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership, Comox Valley Youth Environmental Action, Cumberland Community Forest Society, Dogwood, K’omoks First Nation, Project Watershed, Unitarian Fellowship and World Community.

(Full disclosure, I will be moderating the event)

The debate is scheduled for 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm on Friday, Oct. 4 at the Florence Filberg Centre – Upper Conference Hall located at 411 Anderton Ave Courtenay.

Comox resident Ken McDonald warns people not to let their dogs drink water from Brooklyn Creek. He sent Decafnation a photo of the creek this week. Here’s what McDonald says:

“You will notice that the water is “sudsy.” It gets that way during a first-flush (rainfalls after a dry period). I didn’t take a water quality sample of Brooklyn Creek (just Golf creek to gather evidence), but I know that when the creek looks like that, it is very contaminated, usually with large concentrations of fecal contamination and heavy metals.

“I warned some folks walking their dogs along Brooklyn Creek to not let the dogs drink the water when it is sudsy. Most were shocked, upset and disgusted. And people wonder why the salmon population is declining. If human beings had to continually swim in the filth that they generate, our population would be declining as well.”

Speaking of water quality … who monitors the water quality at the Comox Valley’s public swimming beaches? Not Island Health. They decided to stop monitoring — if they ever did — our Valey’s beaches and shift that responsibility onto local Comox Valley governments.

Except Island Health forgot to tell the municipalities.

When Decafnation contacted them, neither Cumberland, Comox, Courtenay or the regional district knew anything about the change. But other municipalities did. Saanich, for example, is already monitoring beaches in their jurisdiction.

Maybe Island Health doesn’t think swimmers here have any cause for concern. Looking at their website, it doesn’t appear that water quality at places like Kye Bay, Goose Spit and Comox Lake have ever been monitoring. At least we couldn’t find any data.

But when most of our creeks and streams carry contaminants into the estuary, Comox Harbour and Baynes Sound, maybe we should be monitor ocean water quality. Most of the whole area has been permanently closed to shellfish harvesting, so the water quality can’t be that good.

 

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New approach to mental health, substance issues to benefit SD71 students

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New approach to mental health, substance issues to benefit SD71 students

By George Le Masurier

Comox Valley students with mental health or substance use issues will have a new and more easily accessible pathway for help starting sometime in December.

The province has chosen School District 71 as the second of five districts to pilot a project linking health care and school resources to create a “one-care-plan” approach that will provide help when and where students need it.

BC Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy made the announcement at GP Vanier High School today. The province has allocated $22.1 million over three years to implement the project in five districts. Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows was the first.

Tom Demeo, Superintendent of Schools, Comox Valley School District praised the new concept.

“We are extremely fortunate to be part of this great initiative,” he said. “Student mental health is one of our district’s strategic focuses and through this partnership, we will be able to work collaboratively with our community partners to provide our students with resources that will strengthen and improve their mental health.”

In making the announcement, Darcy said estimated 84,000 BC children aged four to 17 years experience mental health disorders at any given time. From 2009 to 2017, there was an 86 percent increase in hospitalizations in B.C. for mental health issues among youth under 25 years of age.

She said promoting wellness, preventing mental health and addictions challenges, and intervening early in life can reduce problems as people grow and develop. She estimated that 70 percent of mental health and substance use problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence.

Ronna-Rae Leonard, Courtenay-Comox MLA, welcomed the news.

“We’ve seen a tremendous increase in enrolment over the past few years so added supports – especially in the areas of mental health and overall wellness for students – could not have come at a better time,” she said.

According to a ministry press release “integrated teams will work closely with school and team-based primary care and specialized services providers to offer wraparound care to children, youth and their families.

This means individuals experiencing mental health and substance use challenges and their families will no longer need to retell their stories to different care providers or search on their own for the supports they need.”

“For far too long, families have had to knock on door after door to get the help they need for their children,” Darcy said. “These integrated child and youth teams will make it so much easier to connect young people to the help they need, where and when they need it.”

Darcy and Leonard were in the Comox Valley today for the announcement.

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Who’s monitoring water quality at Island beaches?

Who’s monitoring water quality at Island beaches?

Island Health wants municipalities to monitor water quality at beachs like Comox Lake  /  George Le Masurier photo

Who’s monitoring water quality at Island beaches?

By George Le Masurier

The Vancouver Island Health Authority announced last month that it planned to drop a public health responsibility and dump it onto BC municipalities, but it apparently forgot to inform municipal officials.

The health authority said it has already stopped monitoring water quality at popular public beaches, and that it had told municipalities last summer that the responsibility would shift to them.

Courtenay CAO David Allen says he hasn’t seen anything in writing from Island Health.

“The City of Courtenay has reached out to Island Health to request further information and documentation about this change in their policy,” Allen told Decafnation. “City staff are also in discussions with other regional local governments to identify roles and responsibilities.”

Shelley Ashfield, the Town of Comox’s chief engineer said the Town has not received any directive from VIHA regarding sampling of any public beaches at this time.

Rob Crisfield, manager of operations for the Village of Cumberland told Decafnation with possibly a hint of irony that “The village is not currently monitoring any beaches.”

And there was no response from the Comox Valley Regional District.

Regardless of where the communications went awry, no water quality testing has apparently occurred this summer at popular north Island beaches.

An Island Health officer said some municipalities in the south Island, such as Saanich and the Capital Regional District have taken on the task, while most have not.

Island Health has a long list of north Island beaches that should be monitored. They include beaches at Goose Spit, Kin Beach, Kitty Coleman, Kye Bay, Tribune Bay, Little Tribune Bay and Whaling Station Bay on Hornby Island, Miracle Beach, Point Holmes, Puntledge Park and Puntledge River swimming areas and Saratoga Beach.

Island Health says that environmental Health Officers have reviewed water quality results from samples at popular beach areas every summer and posted advisories where swimming was not recommended.

But, a VIHA spokesperson said, they were transferring the task of taking samples and providing oversight to municipalities as all the other BC health authorities have done. Island Health will pay the cost of analysis and courier fees to testing laboratories and will continue to post the results and advisories on their website.

Water quality tests for indicator bacteria identify whether fecal contamination exists and to what degree. A “no swimming” advisory would be posted if the average of several samples exceeds 200 E. coli or 35 Enterococci, or a single sample exceeds 400 E. Coli or 70 Enterococci per sample.

 

 

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Heritage BC joins fight to save Shakesides, warns AG of dangerous precedent

Heritage BC joins fight to save Shakesides, warns AG of dangerous precedent

Is this the future of Shakesides? Photo shows the site of Mack Laing’s original home, Baybrook  /  George Le Masurier photo

Heritage BC joins fight to save Shakesides, warns AG of dangerous precedent

By George Le Masurier

Demolition of the famous naturalist Mack Laing’s heritage home could have reverberations throughout British Columbia for heritage conservation.

That’s the message from the province’s leading heritage conservation organization, which has thrown its weight behind the Mack Laing Heritage Society’s effort to stop the Town of Comox from demolishing the house, known as Shakesides.

Paul Gravett, executive director of Heritage BC, has urged BC Attorney General David Eby not to condone the “demolition by neglect” practice being used by the Town of Comox.

“If the court allows the terms of Mr. Laing’s trust to be altered, a precedent could be established that would discourage future donors, who fear their wishes could be altered or ignored, from making important gifts of real property. This poses a threat to the conservation of B.C.’s heritage,” Gravett wrote in a letter to the attorney general.

“The current state of Shakesides is a form of ‘demolition by neglect.’ this is a wholly unacceptable and irresponsible practice that results in the slow degradation of our historic environment. It should not be condoned,” he wrote.

Gravett has also filed an affidavit in the BC Supreme Court case that will decide Shakesides’ fate. The Town of Comox has petitioned the court to alter the terms of their trust agreement with Mack Laing, which would allow them to demolish the house and spend the sizable monetary trust Laing left the town in other ways.

The Mack Laing Heritage Society has opposed the town’s petition and will be a party to the case when it is heard. No court date has been set, but the case will likely go to trial this fall.

Gravett said the building, which still stands on its original site, is restorable.

“The proposal (by Comox) to demolish the structure is antithetical to heritage conservation and environmental conservation,” he wrote to AG Eby. “Shakesides should not be allowed to become landfill.”

In his affidavit, Gravett notes that he urged the town two years ago to reconsider its pursuit of court permission to demolish Shakesides. At the same time, he offered the town his organization’s “advice, capacity building training and assistance with conservation planning” to save the building.

Gravett also offered financial assistance through grants from the Heritage Legacy Fund program.

The Town of Comox rejected both offers.

“The replacement of Shakesides with the proposed viewing platform is inappropriate,” Gravett wrote to AG Eby. “The viewing platform would not stand as a memorial to Mr. Laing or the values of a community, but as the neglect of our history and heritage and the disregard of a philanthropist’s wishes.”

The BC Association of Heritage Professionals has also written to the attorney general in opposition to the Town of Comox petition.

 

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