Comox must apologize for breaches of Mack Laing Trust

Comox must apologize for breaches of Mack Laing Trust

Archive photo

By George Le Masurier

Thanks to four brave new councillors, there is an opportunity to draw to a close the Town of Comox’s long history of breaching the trust of Hamilton Mack Laing and misappropriating the funds the famous naturalist left in his Last Will for the community that he loved.

Comox Town Council voted against Mayor Russ Arnott this week and set aside court proceedings to modify Mack Laing’s trust “for up to three months so that council may have discussions with all interested parties.”

Arnott cast the lone vote against the motion, contradicting statements he made during the fall municipal election campaign promising to settle this matter out of court. But new councillors Alex Bissinger, Patrick McKenna, Nicole Minions and Stephanie McGowan all spoke in favor of giving out of court discussions a chance.

Once it was clear the vote for negotiation would win, councillors Ken Grant and Maureen Swift got on board, despite voting for the court action during their previous terms.

That left Arnott alone in wanting to proceed toward an expensive court trial.

The Mack Laing Heritage Society has garnered broad community support for restoring Shakesides as a unifying and heritage-based town project. Some of those supporters believe the town will lose in court, at a minimum being ordered to submit to a forensic audit of the financial matters and forced into mediation.

The vote also put Arnott at odds with the new majority of councillors, who had campaigned for a negotiated settlement out of court.

But the question facing council is how to stop bleeding money on legal expenses — estimated by one observer to have neared or topped $100,000 — with a plan that satisfies the Laing society and is financially sustainable.

Finding that way forward won’t be easy, and yet that’s the task to accomplish in the next 90 days.

But nothing good will happen if council appoints another flawed advisory committee like former mayor Paul Ives did several years ago. That group failed to follow its own terms of reference. The outcome was so incomplete that two members of the committee wrote opposing minority reports.

And that’s why Arnott’s lone vote against at least trying to negotiate a win-win resolution is disappointing. The mayor is obviously entrenched in his position. He has now stated so for the record.

How is that going to help facilitate any open-minded and meaningful conversations over the next three months? At least returning councillors Grant and Swift had the decency to support an opportunity for positive discussions.

Here’s the problem.

Laing left money and his property to the town in a trust that specified the gifts be used to create a publicly accessible natural history museum at his home, called Shakesides.


If the CVLT had existed in 1982, they would have had legal power via a covenant to compel the Town of Comox to keep up its end of the bargain. Mack Laing deserves the same respect as Father Charles Brandt


But now, 37 years after Laing’s death in February of 1982, the town has done nothing to fulfill Laing’s wishes, even though they accepted the terms of the trust when they took his money and property. Over a year ago, the town admitted that it spent Laing’s money inappropriately for years, but only because the Mack Laing Heritage Society had amassed a mountain of evidence detailing the town’s mishandling.

Undaunted, the previous Town Council applied to the BC Supreme Court to tear down Shakesides and spend Laing’s money elsewhere. But the outcome of court actions are always uncertain. And, based on the comments of two Justices so far, the court believes the Laing society has an important case to make.

To prevent further dividing the community, the town needs to make a formal and public apology of its historic wrongdoings. Why? Answer: Because this is a moral issue.

If the town had no intention of abiding the terms of Laing’s trust, it should never have accepted the money and property. But once it did, the town had a moral obligation to follow through. And if the town can behave fast and loose with Laing’s money, what reasonable person would leave the town any gift in the future?

Comox has, so far, proven itself untrustworthy.

The Comox Valley Land Trust, and other similar conservancy organizations, were created to address this exact problem. And the CVLT is currently creating security for the wishes of Father Charles Brandt, who plans to leave his house and property on the Oyster River for a regional district public park.

If the CVLT had existed in 1982, they would have had legal power via a covenant to compel the Town of Comox to keep up its end of the bargain. Mack Laing deserves the same respect as Father Charles.

Can you imagine if the Comox Valley Regional District someday tries to alter the terms of the Father Charles covenant? The public outcry would be overwhelming. There should be no less of a voice in protest against the Town of Comox, if it follows Mayor Arnott’s example and pushes this case through the courts.

Everyone in the Comox Valley who values heritage, and honorable actions by locally-elected governments, should support a negotiated settlement.

That doesn’t mean the solution is simple. But it is possible if everyone comes to the table with an open mind and good intentions.

Mayor Arnott was asked for comment for this opinion article at 3:45 pm PST, but had not responded by 8:35 PST when it was posted. 

 

 

 

 

WHO WAS HAMILTON MACK LAING?

Hamilton Mack Laing was an important Canadian naturalist, photographer and writer. He moved to Comox in 1922, cleared his land and built his home from a “Stanhope” Aladdin Ready-Cut kit. In 1927, he married Ethel Hart of Portland and they established a successful and commercial orchard which included walnut, pecan, filbert, hazelnut, apple and plum trees. They also grew mushrooms and vegetables. After his wife, Ethel, died in 1944, he sold his original home, Baybrook, and built a new home, Shakesides, on the adjoining lot. He bequeathed the waterfront property to the Town of Comox and it became Mack Laing Nature Park

— excerpted from content on the Mack Laing Heritage Society‘s website

 

Click here for more on Hamilton Mack Laing and the issues with the Town or Comox

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The Week: housing issues, sure, but this study is nonsense

The Week: housing issues, sure, but this study is nonsense

No, the sky is not falling on the Comox Valley nor are people being attacked by birds  /  George Le Masurier photo  (undoctored, only tonal adjustments)

By George Le Masurier

So yet another ill-constructed study has maligned the poor Comox Valley. We can now add “Fifth Most Unaffordable Housing Market” to our designations as “Highest Crime Rate” and “Worst Air Quality.” Well, maybe there’s some truth to that last one.

The latest study — concocted by Wendell Cox on his website Demographia.com — compared median house prices to median household income in nine countries, and then ranked cities or regions for their housing affordability. The Comox Valley ranked fifth worst in B.C.

There’s no doubt the Comox Valley has a housing affordability problem. Prices have never been higher. Rental vacancy rates have almost never been lower. It’s a problem that affects almost every community on the BC coast.

But as Courtenay Councillor Melanie McCollum has pointed out, the study is flawed.

“There is no doubt we have serious affordability issues in our community – however that study is seriously flawed and written by a pro-greenfield expansion/urban sprawl think tank that uses some questionable methods for its data analysis,” McCollum wrote on social media.

Real Estate Wire has called the study “nonsense” for five important reasons, which you can read about here. Though we should mention that Mr. Cox is an urban planner who promotes private automobiles over public transportation.

But the Comox Valley’s housing issues are real. Prices are high and partly driven by out-of-town buyers from even more expensive markets. There’s little incentive for investors to build apartment buildings, but when they do local governments rarely use tools to require a percentage of the units to rent at below-market rates.

Courtenay has two affordable housing projects on the go. The Braidwood Housing Project (35 units) and a supportive housing project (46 units).

Election polls aren’t any more reliable than flawed housing studies.

BC pollsters predicted a Liberal Party win in the Nanaimo provincial byelection, estimated that Liberal Tony Harris had an eight-point lead over NDP candidate, Sheila Malcolmson. The NDP won by a 10-point margin.

It appears not every NDPer is willing to throw Premier John Horgan to the wolves over the Site C Dam project.

  Who was it that said there was no danger from sewage pipes and pump lift stations near or in our foreshores? No one in Sechelt would believe them after a pump station failed and 10,000 litres of raw sewage dumped into the Salish Sea.

Fortunately, the Comox Valley Regional District is in the process of taking a long look at the best options for delivering and treating sewage. That could, and should, include moving sewage pipes out of the K’omoks Estuary and taking an overland route to the Brent Road treatment plant.

  Congratulations to the Comox Valley Regional District parks department for widening trails and improving access to Nymph Falls. We’re sure this isn’t a direct response to 3L Developments’ attempts to block public access to Stotan Falls, but it couldn’t come at a better time for those wanting a river swim this summer.

  Finally, a recent budget decision by the Comox-Strathcona Regional Hospital Board might shed some light on why there were serious design flaws in the new Comox Valley and Campbell River hospitals. Board Chair Charlie Cornfield says the board plans to spend $100,000 on decorative water fountains.

Whaaaaaat?

If the hospitals really need some visual improvements, how about commissioning some of the north Island’s excellent sculptors for eye-catching entry features?

Better yet, forget the idea altogether — although we do support public art — because there are bigger problems at the hospitals, which the hospital board has done its best to deny and ignore.

 

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The Week: Where’s the moral leadership on Comox Council?

The Week: Where’s the moral leadership on Comox Council?

It’s hard to see the forest for the trees sometimes  /  George Le Masurier photo

By George Le Masurier

he silence of Comox Town Council members for the plight of Mariner apartment dwellers is deafening.

A broken town water main flooded 17 first-floor units, displacing single parents and mostly low-income tenants who have limited alternate housing options. The town acted quickly to shut off the water, but the damage had already been done.

Now, instead of taking responsibility, Town Council has done nothing, nor intends to. Mayor Russ Arnott said as much in a statement before this week’s council meeting. The town, he said, supports other people and businesses trying to help, but won’t do anything directly to help its most vulnerable citizens.

The town is playing CYA — Cover Your Ass.

The insurance company’s agreement with the town gives the insurer absolute control in such matters. And the insurer no doubt fears financial assistance or any other form of help would amount to admitting liability. And it curtails councillors’ free speech.

It’s dangerous, and undemocratic, when an insurance company places restrictions on the rights of elected officials to communicate with their constituents.

Besides, the town is responsible. And the town has a moral obligation here.

But, so far, morality doesn’t seem to resonant at Town Hall.

The town won’t take responsibility for misappropriating Mack Laing’s money, or committing several breaches of trust. Nor will it take responsibility for stormwater flows that have caused erosion of property on Golf Creek. The town is happy to spend tens of thousands of dollars on Vancouver lawyers to fight its own citizens, but it won’t help people the town flooded out of their homes.

The town brags about its low debt ratio and builds multi-million dollar buildings at the Marina that sit empty most of the time. But when it comes to doing the right thing for its citizens, the town hides behind lawyers and insurance companies.

That has been the town’s modus operandi for years. So when Arnott made an election promise to continue the direction the town was pointed, he apparently meant its underlying moral code as well.

We’re disappointed. The town should be taking the lead.

Some Decafnation readers had suggestions about what the town should be doing.

“I have to add my view. We have HMCS Quadra at Goose Spit sitting empty. We opened it up for refugees, yet when local residents are desperate for shelter, the mayor flat out said “No.” Desperate is desperate period.”

“We have St. Joseph right next door with floors empty. This is our community … I have lived here all my life and I am extremely disappointed in our own mayor for not stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for our seniors, family and friends.”

“When floods, hurricanes or other natural disasters occur, governments have provided temporary housing for people displaced from their homes. The town could open up the Comox Rec Centre gymnasium. It could pay to put people up in area hotels and motels. It could negotiate an agreement with St. Joe’s or Providence to convert abandoned hospital rooms into temporary housing. There’s so many things the town could do. It’s shameful they don’t.”

Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells was quoted to say that during boil water advisories, small plastic water bottles are the only option or the best option for drinking water.

Really? Ignoring the fact that with the implementation of UV treatment and ultimately a $110 million water treatment plant, there shouldn’t be any more boil water advisories, isn’t the better solution contained in the name?

Rather than encouraging people to purchase more plastic that’s fouling our oceans and sickening our aquatic life, how about just boiling the water?

Given its other pressing needs — Mariner apartment residents? — why would Comox spend $20,000 to study whether the town needs an off-leash dog park? The recent bear spray incidents have provided sufficient justification.

That view was shared by another Decafnation reader, who writes:

“Al Fraser is your expert on parks and fencing. Trust his judgement. As a council you were elected to represent us. We trust you to make good decisions on our behalf. Please sit down with Al. Listen to what he has to say. Discuss it among yourselves. Decide on what is the best location. Build a fence. Make the area dog friendly. Job done! Blowing away 20 grand on consulting is a waste of my tax dollars.”

It’s too bad that Comox Mayor Russ Arnott has reneged on a hand-shake deal to keep the Shakesides issue out of court, because it means that some creative and potentially win-win compromises will never be examined.

For example, a Decafnation reader wonders if the Mack Laing Heritage Society has considered pushing the town to purchase the adjacent private property and house, which bisect Mack Laing and McDonald Woods parks, as an alternative to putting money into Shakesides?

“This would consolidate the park that is Mack Laing’s heritage and provide a waterfront building in good condition that would be much more suited to the museum task.

“I would think that some of the people who currently oppose the museum would be willing to support an approach that would consolidate the park, which is at risk as long as the the central property between Mack Laing and McDonald Wood remains in private hands. Although the current owners have been very gracious, unless it is bought into the park there is no guarantee of the intentions of future owners.

“The purchase of that property into the park would guarantee Mack Laing’s wish of a nature park as well as providing a much better maintained and situated building at virtually the same location. I imagine that the land conservancy people and Project Watershed would be on board in a heartbeat.

“I know that I would be willing to donate to such a project. The other advantage is that it offers an alternative route to the building that does not go through the local subdivision, and would not require construction in a sensitive marsh plain.

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The Week: No 29th Street bridge? Check. Only 60 ‘new’ beds? Check

The Week: No 29th Street bridge? Check. Only 60 ‘new’ beds? Check

A pair of ponies  /  George Le Masurier photo

By George Le Masurier

The City of Courtenay can cross another potential third-bridge location off its list. Golden Life Management company will build its 120-bed seniors residential home on a vacant lot at 29th Street and Cliffe Avenue, on the estuary side of the road.

During this summer’s 21st Street bridge proposal — which turned out to be a bogus plan by an ignorant consultant because it cut a swath through the Courtenay Airpark and a critical appendage off the Kus-kus-sum restoration — some people suggested 29th Street made a better bridge site. It could funnel Comox traffic straight off the Inland Highway connector.

Believe it: no bridge will cross the K’omoks Estuary in our lifetime. But now, with a seniors facility in the way, you can bet your life it won’t happen on 29th Street.

  Health Minister Adrian Dix might have expected his announcement this week of 151 long-term care beds to send the Comox Valley into a jubilant frenzy. We’ll welcome any amount of new beds, even though we’re sore that it took so long.

But some people aren’t dancing in the streets.

Core NDP supporters wanted the beds, or a majority of them, to be publicly operated, not put into the hands of a private operator. The family-owned Golden Life Management company promises a well-run, quality home for seniors — what else would they say? — and we should give them the benefit of the doubt.

But Comox Valley skeptics can be forgiven because we’ve had a bad experience with private operators. Retirement Concepts made similar promises before they sold to a Chinese company, which has since been taken over by the Chinese government. Workers have struck. Horror stories rumored. Quality has suffered.

But the big elephants in this room are whether we really got 151 “new” beds, and whether they solve the Comox Valley’s problem.

Let’s do the math: 21 of the 151 beds are already in use at the old acute care hospital — so these aren’t new. We’re down to 130 “new” beds.

There are also about 70 admitted patients parked in acute care beds at the Comox Valley Hospital who really need long-term care beds. So these beds are already spoken for. Does that mean the province is adding only 60 “new” beds?

There are at least that many people (60) receiving care at home from family members, while they wait for long-term beds to open up. By the time these new facilities open their doors in 2020 (we hope), the Valley’s population growth and aging baby boomers will have added scores of people to that wait list. And we predict this announcement will not completely solve our hospital’s overcapacity problem.

Still, it is something. And the BC Government has similar needs all over the province. They also have a budget to balance.

 The two best parts of the health minister’s announcement were: 1) four new respite beds at the new Providence facility. Caregivers deserve a break; and, 2) Island Health committed to a redevelopment of The Views at St. Joseph’s, including a dementia village concept.

Everything St. Joe’s has planned, since they learned several years ago that the acute care hospital would move, will go into the redevelopment of the Comox site. And there’s little doubt they could have pulled this off without Providence. In fact, we suspect the Health Ministry was waiting for the new Providence Residential Community Care Society to form and acquire St. Joe’s before awarding the long-term care bed contracts.

What the dickens is former CVRD director Rod Nichol up to?

Arzeena Hamir defeated Nichol for the Area B seat in the fall election. Now, Nichol, who chaired a select committee investigating potential waste-to-energy technologies, is working behind the scenes to push his pet project forward. That’s fair enough. He’s passionate about the cause and fully invested in it.

But his actions are raising more questions than providing answers.

For instance, in a letter to Decafnation (an exact copy of a comment he posted on our website), Nichol says our story “needs clarification.” But he doesn’t clarify anything. Nothing needed clarification. What he’s really doing is lobbying for a company called Sustane Technologies.

Hamir and other directors have questioned the work of Nichol’s advisory committee. They ask whether Sustane’s technology will actually reduce the north Island’s carbon footprint, as claimed, and want the committee’s terms of reference updated to examine that aspect more closely.

That seems reasonable, especially because Sustane doesn’t have a proven track record yet. It’s first Canadian operation is just coming online.

Now that’s he’s no longer an elected official, Nichol can promote whatever business he wants. But by doing so, is Nichol attempting to preserve the legacy of a committee he chaired? Or is he out-and-out lobbying for Sustane? This line seems blurred. Especially because Nichol is only a couple of months out of office. And, in Nichol’s letter to Decafnation, he copied in a Sustane corporate executive. Why would he do that?

And Hamir alleged at a recent solid waste management board meeting that a director met privately with Sustane. She did not name names, and we’re not suggesting it was Nichol. It could have been any of the committee’s directors. Charlie Cornfield, of Campbell River, for example. We don’t know. But if someone did, in fact, meet privately with Sustane, they are ethically bound to declare it.

¶  Finally, congrats to Comox Council for getting started on an off-leash dog park. It’s obviously needed. And Courtenay should have one, too. We hope these off-leash parks also come with enforcement of keeping dogs leashed in other parks.

 

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The Week: Providence, Dutcyvich, Socialism and Blueberries

The Week: Providence, Dutcyvich, Socialism and Blueberries

It’s not quite this warm in the Comox Valley, but unseasonably so, according to local blueberry plants  |  George Le Masurier photo

By George Le Masurier

This week’s announcement that a new entity called Providence Residential & Community Care Services Society (PRCC) has assumed ownership of The Views at St. Joe’s changes the long-term care picture in the Comox Valley. Providence, a nonprofit Catholic organization operating in the Lower Mainland, has more resources to fund the vision for a seniors ‘campus of care’ developed by the former St. Joe’s Board or Trustees.

Whether or not Island Health awards any of the promised, but much-delayed, new 151 long-term care beds to The Views, the PRCC will move forward with its redevelopment plans, including a dementia village concept.

But the larger question still remains: where are those promised new beds? As we reported a year ago, the shortage of long-term care beds is critical. In fact, 151 still won’t be enough to fulfill the Comox Valley’s immediate needs.

On that topic, a recent letter from a local group called Senior Voices had this to say:

“The money wasted on using hospital beds instead of residential care has increased to the tens of millions of dollars. Worse, the suffering (agony would not be too strong a word) of Comox Valley elders and their caregivers, with inadequate home care and needing residential care, has deepened, since the Valley probably needs at least 225 beds and more, with an ever-aging population. Where are the beds? Ask your government and your MLA. We deserve better.”

¶ I stand with the BC nurses in demanding written guarantees from the provincial government that more nurses should be hired for understaffed hospitals. For example, most Island Health facilities, but especially Comox Valley and Campbell River hospitals are not only understaffed they are chronically overcapacity with patients. That’s a double-whammy for nurses.

¶ David Dutcyvich, the wannabe Riverwood developer, is throwing another tantrum because the Comox Valley Regional Growth Strategy doesn’t allow him to build 1,300 homes on a hunk of rocky ground between the Puntledge and Browns rivers. He’s set up barricades armed with employees to make sure nobody sneaks onto his vacant property.

To a casual observer, it appears that in Dutcyvich’s world, a developer should be allowed to do whatever he wants, and people who deny him this God-given right should be singled out and shamed. And then sued in court.

But what Dutcyvich desperately needs is better advisors, especially in the public relations department. His various retaliations to the publicly-elected Comox Valley Regional District board’s rejection of his subdivision proposal puts him in the same category as Donald Trump shutting down the U.S. government over a hissy fit about a border wall. That is to say, he’s making more enemies than friends.

Dutcyvich says he’s cut off easy access to Stotan Falls to mitigate any risk or liability. But if he’s hoping the move will also apply public pressure on the CVRD board to cave, he’s dreaming. It might have the opposite effect.

People should just ignore the dude. There are other ways to get to Stotan Falls, if you really need to do that. But there are fun swimming holes on other local rivers. And, honestly, swimming at Goose Spit or Comox Lake is a heck of a lot safer.

¶ The CVRD and 3L were originally due in court on Jan. 17 and 18 in Vancouver, but sources tell us that’s not likely to happen, and new dates have been set.

¶ Somebody call Ontario Doug Ford ASAP! According to a North Island director on the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste Management board, using social procurement policies to leverage municipal spending amounts to SOCIALISM! So Premier Ford needs to know right away, because the City of Toronto practices social procurement.

¶ CVRD Area B Director Arzeena Hamir, who is also an organic farmer, reports the local blueberry plants budded in January, due to the unseasonably warm weather. That could have been good news for a long growing season, except for a short cold snap.

If the Comox Valley experiences another, longer cold period frost in the next month or two, it could mean a short growing season for blueberries. If temperatures stay above freezing, there will be a long season, and a bounty crop.

Other people have reported similar out-of-season growth. Garlic already 6 inches high. Cherry trees blooming in Vancouver and Snow Bells in Victoria. Some Rhodos, Witch Hazel and Lavender have bloomed. People have also noticed tent caterpillars.

¶ Most people don’t often think about how wastewater travels from their bathrooms to a septic field or, if you live in Courtenay, Comox, the K’omoks First Nation or CFB Comox, how it gets to the Brent Road treatment plant. Nor should you have to.

But how we convey our wastewater is important. Right now, people who live in the Comox Valley’s rural areas rely on septic systems, and Cumberland has its own system.

But the Courtenay-Comox sewerage system relies on a 35-year-old sewer pipe located in the K’omoks estuary, Comox Harbour and along the beach below the Willemar Bluffs. The way our climate is changing, this is a recipe for disaster.

The Comox Valley Regional District, which manages the sewerage system for Courtenay-Comox, is in the process of creating a Liquid Waste Management Plan that will design a future vision for conveyance and treatment of sewage in the Comox Valley. That plan could, and should, include abandoning the sewer pipes in our foreshores, and rerouting them overland.

That’s why you should think about wastewater now. Your input can influence this plan.

There are two information sessions coming up at the end of this month. The public and technical advisory committees will present an early and long list of system design options. Make sure your voice is heard.

¶ I’m proud that Canada has taken the world lead on cannabis legalization. Because of us, cannabis will finally be studied scientifically; not just for breeding and genetics as the world’s first Cannabis Innovation Centre will do, although that’s critical. But also for the science that others will do about potential medical benefits and other effects on humans.

But it baffles the mind that, three months after legalization, there are still illegal pot shops operating all over the 10 provinces. There are more than 20 illegal shops in Vancouver alone. 

If legal cannabis has any hope of eliminating the black market or even reducing it to insignificance, which we know is a process that will take years, they have to eventually close the illegal operators down. We don’t allow unlicensed breweries or other moonshiners. Why do we tolerate illegal pot shops?

 

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The Week: Tolls on the Fifth Street Bridge, and quieter coffee shops, please

The Week: Tolls on the Fifth Street Bridge, and quieter coffee shops, please

George Le Masurier photo

By George Le Masurier

Four people died every day in BC last year from a drug overdose. One hundred, twenty of them died in November, 13 percent more than last year. We lost 1,380 people in 2018. Two decades into the opioid epidemic and these numbers are still shocking.

The BC Corner reported that the numbers of deaths on the North Island went down from 38 to 25, but it doesn’t feel like something to celebrate. Especially not when Courtenay RCMP announced last month that they had seized a potentially lethal combination of drugs, including fentanyl, from a man who was still in custody.

Not one of last year’s drug-related deaths occurred at a safe consumption site. But, please, people, let’s stop calling these live-saving facilities “drug overdose prevention sites.” Even trained professionals supervising these sites cannot prevent someone from overdosing. They do not know what’s in the concoction someone injects. But they can, and do, prevent that person from dying of an overdose.

Two clever Decafnation readers have independently suggested the “perfect” solution to the City of Courtenay’s Fifth Street Bridge problem. The bridge desperately needs a renovation that’s expected to cost up to $6.3 million. The city doesn’t have that much laying around, and, anyway, why should Courtenay residents have to foot the whole bill when it’s used by a lot of people who don’t live there?

Our reader’s obvious solution: toll bridge.

At $2 per crossing, it would take 8,630 crossings per day for one year to pay the bill. Okay, so there’s lots of practical problems with this idea, but …

It only took a couple of days into 2019 to issue the year’s first boil water advisory for the Courtenay and Comox water system. It’s not a coincidence the advisory came after this week’s big rain events. But, of course, no one dares mention logging above Comox Lake in this discussion, or how restoring the watershed to a natural state could reduce the need for a $100 million dollar water treatment plant. Did you also notice the color of waters in the Courtenay River and K’omoks Estuary had turned Sediment Brown?

Some Cumberland die-hards started a New Year’s Day swim in Comox Lake this year, and the “my water was colder than your water” arguments have already heated up with the Goose Spit swimmers. Cumberlanders want bragging rights.

What they don’t have is a unique name. The Cumberland “Black Bear Dip” has been tossed out, but it’s kind of lame, right? A reference to the village’s coal history? Who knows. What name do you suggest?

If you weren’t that worried about climate change before, this might tip your scales. New research published in Nature Plants, a nature research journal, predicts climate change will cause a worldwide beer shortage.

According to the study, expected droughts and extreme temperatures will diminish barley crop yields by three percent to 17 percent. And since most barley goes to feed livestock, beer producers will get even less than a proportionate share of the declining yields.

That means the price of beer would double and global consumption would decline by about 16 percent. Consumption would decline by as much at 32 percent in some of the poorer countries, while more affluent countries might see less of an impact, according to the researchers.

And without beer or BC wine, what are Albertans going to drink?

We read this important New York Times article — ‘How to be a better person in 2019’ — so you don’t have to. Here’s our Cliff Notes summary: More sex and CBD, less screen time and consumer spending. 

When did Comox Valley coffee shops get so loud? Didn’t they used to be a place of quiet refuge, where someone could go for a moment of reflection? Not any more, and we blame the interior designers.

Not all coffee shops are noisy, but those that are have a particular style in common: sleek, hard surfaces, slate, shiny wood, and a noticeable absence of soft, sound-absorbing materials like tapestries or upholstery. The grinding and whistling of the espresso machines mix with a rattling of cups and human conversation to bounce around the room in a cacophony that is not just audibly annoying, it can become a barrier to thoughtful conversation.

Can we get back to coffee shops where you don’t have to shout to be heard and where you leave without a post-rock concert ringing in your ears?

 Happy New Year to the Decafnation. Spring is coming and the days are getting longer!

 

LIST OF TOLL BRIDGES IN CANADA

A. Murray MacKay Bridge
Ambassador Bridge
Angus L. Macdonald Bridge

Blue Water Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge
Confederation Bridge

Deh Cho Bridge

Fort Frances–International Falls International Bridge

Golden Ears Bridge
Gordie Howe International Bridge

Lewiston–Queenston Bridge

Ogdensburg–Prescott International Bridge
Olivier-Charbonneau Bridge

Peace Bridge
Port Mann Bridge

Rainbow Bridge (Niagara Falls)

Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge
Seaway International Bridge
Serge-Marcil Bridge

Thousand Islands Bridge

Whirlpool Rapids Bridge

Yukon Suspension Bridge

— Wikipedia

 

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