The Week: local bag bans support nation, global effort; these politicians go low

The Week: local bag bans support nation, global effort; these politicians go low

We’ve got an eye on you  /  George Le Masurier photo

By George Le Masurier

The City of Courtenay is poised to pass a single-use plastic bag ban next week that will go into effect next March 31. The city joins the Village of Cumberland, which already approved a bag ban in March to go into effect next January.

Still to come, perhaps, is similar action from the Comox Valley Regional District and the Town of Comox, which is still waiting for a report from its staff.

Although Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau announced a nationwide ban “as early as” 2021, the same year a bag ban goes into effect in the European Union, it is important for small communities like the Comox Valley to keep banning the bags in their jurisdictions.

And it’s important for consumers to embrace this change now. Everyone can start using reusable bags, and refusing plastic whenever possible. Don’t buy plastic water bottles. Buy sodas or juices that come in cans, not plastic containers.

Trudeau’s announcement is only a promise. He might not win the next election, or he might not follow through. He’s ditched campaign promises before, notably electoral reform.

So, congrats to Cumberland and Courtenay, and what are you — Comox and CVRD — waiting for? The public tide has already turned against plastics. And for good reason.

Less than 10 percent of all plastics are recycled. Think about that, about all the plastic wrapping you see and consume in grocery and other retail stores. The rest plugs up our landfills and pollutes our waterways, eventually breaking down into tiny bits that get eaten by fish, birds and other animals. That plastic makes it way into our own bodies through the food chain.

 

How low will they go?

It’s been obvious for some time that Comox Councillors Ken Grant and Maureen Swift, along with Mayor Russ Arnott, care little about giving a fair hearing to legitimate public concerns.

Now, it appears, they are willing to disrespect their own elected official colleagues to carry out petty vendettas.

It was clear to everyone at this week’s sewage commission meeting that the three Courtenay directors wanted to wait until the next meeting when CFB Representative, Major Delta Guerard, was present.

But Grant and Arnott made a motion anyway, one they opposed, just so they could defeat it. Clever political maneuver, but a knife in the back of their colleagues around the table.

The meeting showed how low Arnott, Grant and Swift are willing to sink.

It’s not a coincidence the trio votes against every request for Area B representation on the Courtenay-Comox Sewage Commission. They also vote in a block to support all attempts to locate sewer infrastructure in somebody else’s backyard.

It would be more useful if Comox commissioners came up with valid reasons to deny Area B representation. To date, they’ve claimed that it was against the Local Government Act — which it wasn’t — and then that our previous Area B director had lied to the commission — which he hadn’t.

Now, the best Arnott can muster is that it’s an “emotional” issue.

There’s a reason the Town of Comox faces the potential for two costly defeats in BC Supreme Court over the next six months, but Arnott, Grant and Swift just don’t get it.

Comox shellfish contaminated

Did you know the entire Comox Harbour area is permanently closed for shellfish harvesting? Sanitary contamination of the area means that consumption of shellfish here presents a serious health hazard. There have already been two emergency notices issued by the DFO about illness from contaminated shellfish.

Probable sources of the fecal contamination include the Town of Comox’s stormwater management system, marinas and boaters and pets and wildlife.

That makes Comox an ironic choice to host the BC Seafood Festival, which is highly supported by fish farms and other aquaculture industry interests.

 

Creating smoke-free public parks

Congrats to Courtenay Councillor Melanie McCollum for proposing a citywide ban on smoking tobacco, cannabis and vaping products in public parks.

Other BC communities, such as Duncan, Metro Vancouver and North Vancouver, have already taken this step.

McCollum points out the danger of wildfires from carelessly discarded of lighted products, but the health risks of second-hand smoke and hampering the ability of people to enjoy a smoke-free outdoors experience also justify her proposal.

 

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The Week: bizarre backstory; great news on sewage planning

Good morning. We’re writing about the tragic backstory of a water valve, the state of happiness in Comox, new (and thankfully) long-term sewerage plans and the strength of women like Jody Wilson-Raybould speaking truth to power

The Week: Strange attitude in Comox and perils of logging in watersheds

The Week: Strange attitude in Comox and perils of logging in watersheds

George Le Masurier photo

By George Le Masurier

There’s a classic ironic saying — “We’re from the government, and we’re here to help you” — that seems to describe the Town of Comox’s aloof and often confrontational attitude toward some of its constituency. It’s a peculiar mindset that the town has developed in recent times.

There’s no better example than the story of Ken McDonald and Golf Creek, which Decafnation first reported back in January when it was a simple Small Claims Court case. This week, we broke the news on Tuesday that a civil court judge granted an escalation of the law to the BC Supreme Court and multiplied the amount of damages tenfold.

Read the full story here, and the original story here

The town could have settled this matter for $25,000 or less three years ago just by taking a helpful and sympathetic approach to a resident’s problem. But instead of trying to assist this taxpayer, the town basically told him to buzz off, and then actually added to his financial burden by paying high-priced lawyers to fight him in court.

By the time this case is resolved, the town will have spent tens of thousands more of taxpayers’ money than if they had empathy for one of their own citizens and helped him out. And the bill will grow to hundreds of thousands more if the town loses the case.

The good news out of this example of the town’s pitiful proclivity for bullying people is that this citizen has the means to fight back. And because of McDonald’s refusal to just let it go, some of the town’s other sins have come to light: flushing toxic stormwater into the harbor, repeatedly ignoring warnings from more than one professional consultant, failing to monitor water quality in the creeks it abuses and more.

It’s hard to ignore the irony of Comox hosting a week-long seafood festival that starts today, knowing that the town bears a huge responsibility for the pollution of Comox Bay that has killed aquatic life and closes the area to shellfish harvesting.

Comox is also embroiled in another legal case that could also cost its taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, this one over the mishandling of the Mack Laing Trust and the fate of his heritage home, Shakesides. Instead of sitting down face-to-face and working out a solution, the town again has taken a confrontational approach, spending large amounts of money on lawyers to prevent Mack Laing’s supporters from having a voice in court.

There are good examples of local governments — in Cumberland and Courtenay — that when faced with citizen-based problems, municipal staff and elected officials actually try to resolve them in a win-win manner, rather than attempt to beat a citizen into submission. But Comox is apparently not that kind of town.

 

DECODING POLITICAL SPEAK

One of the frustrating aspects of the Town of Comox’s current legal battles is that elected officials refuse to talk about them. Mayor Russ Arnott is famous for hiding behind the words, “It’s before the courts, so I can’t talk about it.”

Literally, that’s not true. Elected officials have the freedom to talk about court cases, and defendants and prosecutors do it all the time. There is no law against this.

What Arnott really means is that he’s afraid to say something that could hurt the town’s legal case.

Municipal insurance companies have a big thumb on freedom of speech. So instead of transparency, we usually get silence based on a fear of liability.

 

BIKING IN COURTENAY

Here’s some good news: the City of Courtenay has received $227,655 from the provincial BikeBC program to expand its cycling network on both sides of the river. The grant amounts to about half of the cost of projects on Fitzgerald Avenue and the Hobson Neighborhood.

Courtenay is really pushing toward a cycle-friendly community.

For its next step, we humbly suggest some kind of infrastructure — overpasses?, physically separated lanes? — that would allow students of Vanier and Isfeld secondary schools to cycle more safety from their homes on the west side of the river.

 

LOGGING AND WATER TREATMENT

There is an excellent recent story in the online publication, The Narwhal, about how clearcut logging is driving a water crisis in some interior communities.

While the story focuses on the Okanagan region, there’s a similar story about logging in the Comox Lake Watershed, the drinking water source for most Comox Valley residents. And the results of this practice are similar.

Due to upstream logging, large quantities of sediment flow into Peachland Creek and eventually wash into Okanagan Lake. That has forced the town of Peachland to spend $24 million on a new water treatment plant to filter out the fine sediments, disinfect it with chlorine and ultraviolet light.

Sound familiar? That’s exactly what’s happening in the Comox Lake Watershed. Because the BC government allows logging in the watershed, sediment flows into all the little creeks and streams, and into the bigger rivers, such as the Cruikshank, causing turbidity.

The Comox Valley’s $110 million price tag for water treatment is more than four times higher than Peachland’s.

Why doesn’t the province only permit selective logging in watersheds? Why does the province prioritize logging over drinking water? And one wonders how much of the watershed the Comox Valley could have purchased for the cost of its water treatment plant.

 

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The Week: bizarre backstory; great news on sewage planning

Good morning. We’re writing about the tragic backstory of a water valve, the state of happiness in Comox, new (and thankfully) long-term sewerage plans and the strength of women like Jody Wilson-Raybould speaking truth to power

The Week: violations at Seniors Village, applause for Wendy Morin, solving homelessness

The Week: violations at Seniors Village, applause for Wendy Morin, solving homelessness

George Le Masurier photo

By George Le Masurier

This week, Decafnation reported a story that other Comox Valley media have been afraid to tackle: the endemic problems of regulatory non-compliance at Comox Valley Seniors Village, and the failure of Island Health to properly supervise this privately-owned long-term care facility.

Three residents died as an indirect result of a recent norovirus outbreak at Seniors Village and the facility, which was lacking supervisors in senior management positions at the time, did not follow required cleaning protocols during and after the event.

It took a small group of family members of Seniors Village residents to raise awareness of the outbreak, even to Island Health, and demand corrective action.

Privatization in the healthcare industry too often results in extreme cost-cutting to boost profits for shareholders and puts patients and residents at risk. There are some good private operators, although nonprofit organizations, such as Glacier View Lodge and The Views at St. Joseph are better suited to provide reliably quality care for loved ones.

Island Health needs to either take over Seniors Village, as the family members have requested, or step up its regulatory supervision of the facility.

They could start down that road by discontinuing the ludicrous practice of telling care facilities when they plan to do inspections. Inspections should be a surprise in order to see the facility in its everyday state without the advantage of several weeks to shine things up.

 

Did Russ Arnott not read the letter from KFN?

Many weeks ago, K’omoks First Nation Chief Nicole Rempel wrote a letter to Comox Mayor Russ Arnott and council members expressing disappointment and concern that the town had made plans for replacing Mack Laing’s heritage house with a viewing platform without any prior consultation.

But the council has apparently ignored Chief Rempel’s concerns.

At a recent meeting, council members went ahead and approved revisions to the town’s plan for a viewing platform at the site, which is sacred First Nations ground, including middens, without including KFN in the redesign process.

Mayor Arnott was quoted as saying that presenting the finished redesign to KFN would be acting as “friendly neighbours and showing what we’re doing.”

Did he not read the letter? KFN wants prior consultation. They want to be involved in what the town hopes to do with Mack Laing’s house, called Shakesides. They do not want to be disrespected by being shown a redesign as a fait accompli.

KFN doesn’t want to be ‘friendly neighbors.’ They want to be active participants.

We anticipate that due to the mayor’s and council’s blind spot that another letter from KFN may be forthcoming.

 

Applause, please, for Courtenay Councillor Wendy Morin

When the Youth Environmental Action (YEA) group made a presentation to the Comox Valley Regional District board about climate change and the need for urgent action, they received an unusual response from several directors.

We won’t name them, but these directors responded to the presentation by nitpicking the students’ PowerPoint slides. They made all kinds of suggestions about how to improve the readability and attractiveness of their slides, without so much as mentioning the content.

Thankfully, Courtenay Councillor and CVRD Director Wendy Morin took the microphone and admonished her colleagues. When have we ever critiqued a delegations PowerPoint slides before, Morin asked?

Her question got the board back on track to consider the students’ important message.

 

What it would take to solve homelessness?

Jill Severn, a friend of Decafnation and a pioneer in the US micro-housing solution for homelessness, recently wrote an article about the real causes of this problem. We’re reprinting excerpts of her article today, most of which applies equally to Canada.

As long as we are only talking about how to “respond” to homelessness, we are caught in a trap, because our society is churning out more homeless people faster than we can provide even the most elemental humanitarian responses to their suffering. Somehow, we need to tackle the challenge of how to prevent homelessness.

The big picture of prevention would start with a lot more housing and a lot less poverty.

That would require a reversal of decades of cuts to federal housing programs, and a national shift toward a dramatic reduction in income inequality, starting with a higher minimum wage and significant investments in free, effective job training and safety net programs.

And beyond that, there’s a long list of very specific unmet needs that target intergenerational poverty. For example, we need:

— universal early childhood education, starting with visiting nurses who help new parents bond with their babies and understand what babies and toddlers need to thrive;

— a child welfare system that is fully funded, with social workers who are well paid and not overworked to the point of burnout;

— public schools where all adult relationships with students are based on deep caring, cultural competence, respect, and high expectations;

— easy-to-access mental health services for people of every age, without stigma; addiction treatment on demand, and robust harm reduction programs for people who aren’t ready for treatment;

— criminal justice reforms that focus on rehabilitation, and expand rather than foreclose future employment opportunities;

— an end to racism, gender discrimination, and homophobia;

— a spiritual renewal based not on dogma, but on the simple, universal value of loving our neighbors – all of them – not just in theory but in practice.

Achieving these goals would result in a better educated, healthier and more prosperous society. And that’s the only kind of 21st century society in which homelessness will not be a chronic problem.

To create that society, we need to do more than sit at the bottom of a cliff talking about how to help the ever-growing number of our neighbors who have fallen off.

And we need to have realistic expectations about how much of this problem can be solved at the local, regional, or even state level. The scale of growing homelessness – which is the most extreme result of the hopelessness that poverty engenders – requires a national response from a functional, purposeful federal government that makes reducing poverty a top priority.

Our local measures do make a difference. Even if the city and its local partners cannot solve the problem of homelessness, we can (and already do) make an immense difference in the lives of those who are helped to find housing and reclaim their lives.

And even those who remain homeless benefit from the services, meals, and shelter provided by the city, and by our local network of nonprofits, faith communities, and big-hearted volunteers.

 

 

 

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The Week: bizarre backstory; great news on sewage planning

Good morning. We’re writing about the tragic backstory of a water valve, the state of happiness in Comox, new (and thankfully) long-term sewerage plans and the strength of women like Jody Wilson-Raybould speaking truth to power

The Week: Courtenay declares climate emergency; rainforest rhinos

The Week: Courtenay declares climate emergency; rainforest rhinos

George Le Masurier photo

By George Le Masurier

Climate change seems to dominate the news with growing frequency. This week, the City of Courtenay joined many other governments in declaring the planet faces a climate emergency.

Courtenay Councillor Will Cole-Hamilton, a champion of the city’s declaration, explained to Decafnation why he put this resolution forward.

BY WILL COLE-HAMILTON

“The IPCC tells us that Canada is heating at twice the rate of the rest of the world. Last week the UN reported that 1 million species are at risk of extinction due to climate change

“Climate change is clearly a global challenge, so what does this mean to us as a local government? Local governments have been leading the way world-wide because we are the ones who see its impact most directly.

“In Courtenay climate change will impact us in many ways. Sometimes it will be greater damage to our existing roads, buildings and other facilities – as fires, windstorms, extreme rainfall events, prolonged dry spells and increased summer temperature result in greater wear and damage. Other times it will be a matter of building new infrastructure like greater storm water capacity and flood prevention. None of this is optional, and we need to ensure that our residents and our infrastructure are adequately protected

“As a government our main challenge is to find a way to pay for this. As I mentioned in the introduction to my resolution local government is responsible for building, maintaining, repairing and upgrading two-thirds of all the government infrastructure in Canada but we receive only $.08 of each tax dollar to do it. This is a challenge at the best of times, but climate change is going to increase the burden and the costs considerably. It is simply not fair, nor is it possible, for local taxpayers to bear the full burden of these unavoidable expenses.

“Senior levels of government are providing some assistance. Just last Thursday the province committed $150,000 in provincial emergency preparedness funding to support flood risk assessment, mapping and mitigation planning. This is a start and it is appreciated. This grant will help with planning, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to the cost of doing the work itself. To provide a single example, in 2013 a study by the City suggests that a ring dyke to prevent climate related flooding in central Courtenay would cost $5.8 million (a number which would surely be significantly higher today).

“Other communities throughout BC are also declaring climate emergencies and climate crises in order to emphasize the need for action. It’s not just big cities like Vancouver and Richmond, but local communities like our neighbours in Nanaimo, Powell River, the Comox Valley Regional District, Comox and Cumberland.

“Just last month a resolution was passed at the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities conference with more than 90% support. The resolution emphasized local governments’ inability to shoulder the costs of climate change. It advocated that the province declare an emergency and support local governments in their efforts to adapt to and manage ongoing climate change.

“While adaptation is important, we are also working to reduce our city’s carbon footprint. The single-use plastics bylaw is an example, as are the four electric vehicle (EV) chargers planned for downtown Courtenay and the improvements to active transportation infrastructure like the complete street project on 5th St. But we need to do more.

“The greatest impact that we can have on carbon emissions relates to where we live and how we move around. Our new Official Community Plan (OCP) will have a lasting impact on both of these. For that reason, this resolution ensures that we consider climate change at all stages of development of the OCP.

“The resolution that was passed unanimously by Council acknowledges the real challenges facing our City as a consequence of climate change and takes concrete steps to: lobby senior governments for greater resources; ensure that we are prepared for specific emergencies such as floods and fires; authorize staff to work with other local governments to identify specific tangible actions that the city can take to address the crisis; and ensure that climate change in considered at all stages of the development of our key planning document, the OCP.

“It is said that we need to think globally and act locally. I am proud to see the City of Courtenay show determination and leadership in addressing the world’s greatest local crisis.”

 

Island has lost its old trees

Sometime this summer or fall, the City of Courtenay will adopt its Urban Forest Strategy as a means of protecting and enhancing its tree canopy. And many other Island communities either already have a similar strategy or are in the process of creating one.

But at the same time, our Vancouver Island rainforest is quickly disappearing, at the rate of three square metres a second. Each year, more than 10,000 hectares are clearcut. In the last 10 years, according to the Sierra Club, old growth trees were logged off an area equivalent to the size of Greater Victoria — or about 2.6 percent of the entire Island.

The Island once had about three million hectares of old growth timber. Less than 10 percent remains.

Urban Forest strategies are important and urgent. So is preserving and protected the canopy and rainforests of the entire Vancouver Island.

 

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The Week: A little hypocrisy from Comox at the Sewage Commission

The Week: A little hypocrisy from Comox at the Sewage Commission

George Le Masurier photo

By George Le Masurier

CCAN YOU SPELL HYPOCRISY? — At last month’s Sewage Commission meeting, Comox Director Ken Grant took a swing at former Area B Director Rod Nichol.

Grant tried to persuade the Courtenay-Comox Sewage Commission to not allow the Area B rep to sit on the commission, and he used two arguments.

First, he said, the Local Government Act doesn’t allow representatives from non-participating electoral areas to sit on committees or commissions. He cited a couple of sections.

Second, he said when the commission allowed the previous Area B rep (Nichol) to sit at the table in a non-voting capacity during debate about a pump station in Croteau Beach, he (Nichol) made a lot of statements that weren’t true. Grant implied this created confusion and made it hard to make good decisions.

(We can agree that the previous sewage commission made many bad decisions about putting a pump station in Croteau Beach. It’s an idea the CVRD staff eventually, and wisely, abandoned.)

So fast forward to this month’s commission meeting where we learned that Grant himself had mislead his fellow directors with a statement that wasn’t true.

There is nothing in the Local Government Act that prohibits the regional district from including representatives of non-participating electoral areas to sit on any commission in either a non-voting or voting capacity.

And, of course, Nichol denies ever making false statements at any sewage commission meeting.

It’s interesting when an elected official states a belief to which his own behavior does not conform. And is unrepentant.

 

WHERE ARE THE BIKE RACKS? — That’s what some Decafnation readers asked this week after they noticed a couple bike racks had been removed from the Courtenay downtown area. A city that promotes cycling should provide ample facilities for parking the bicycles, don’t you think?

 

SCRAP THE STOPLIGHT! — When will the Town of Comox remove the unnecessary and traffic congesting stoplight at Rodello Street and Comox Avenue?

The stoplight originally provided safe passage across Comox Avenue for students walking to Comox Elementary, located behind the Port August Motel. That school has been closed for years.

When pedestrians press the ‘walk’ button now, cars sit and pile up on Comox Avenue for what feels like hours (slight exaggeration) after the pedestrian has crossed. Idling cars waste fossil fuels and pollute the atmosphere.

Why not replace the stoplight with the flashing light system used up the road at the Berwick pedestrian crossing? It works fine there.

 

CUMBERLAND COUNCIL IN THE LEAD — After spending a sunny spring Saturday at the Cumberland Wetlands Conference last weekend, Decafnation learned about two more ways that the Village Council is leading Comox Valley municipalities.

First, the Cumberland Council has made it a strategic priority to develop a village-wide ecological asset strategy. They are the first in the Valley to initiate such project on a broad scale. The village is currently looking for funding for the project.

Second, While all jurisdictions require Environmental Development Permits in specific areas — for example, steep slopes in the regional district, or around streams in the City of Courtenay — Cumberland requires them broadly, the most comprehensive in the Valley.

But Cumberland also goes a step further. In all municipalities, a developer can build closer to streams or wetlands by hiring a biologist to verify that by doing so would pose no danger to fish or rare birds, etc. Municipalities usually accept that finding, even though these biologists are hired and paid by the developer.

In Cumberland, however, the village hires their own biologist(s) to review the work submitted by the developer’s biologist. This peer-review keeps everyone honest and gives the Village Council greater certainty in its decision-making.

All Comox Valley jurisdictions should adopt this approach.

 

FINALLY, SOME FINE JOURNALISM — The National Post newspaper wrote an in-depth report about the release of the transcript of a conversation between two US Navy pilots flying with the Blue Angels, an American equivalent of our Snowbirds. The Navy pilots had drawn male genitalia in the sky.

You can read the report for yourself.

Just guessing here, but we probably won’t be seeing this from the Snowbirds above the Comox Peninsula.

 

 

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The Week: bizarre backstory; great news on sewage planning

Good morning. We’re writing about the tragic backstory of a water valve, the state of happiness in Comox, new (and thankfully) long-term sewerage plans and the strength of women like Jody Wilson-Raybould speaking truth to power

The Week: dangers for kids, where’s the bylaw, chuck the gas tax … and more

The Week: dangers for kids, where’s the bylaw, chuck the gas tax … and more

Top of the Malahat  /  George Le Masurier photo

By George Le Masurier

PARENTS CONCERNED — What kind of weirdo hangs out of a moving truck to take video of Valley View Elementary school students walking home from school? It happened recently, and it’s not an isolated case. The Courtenay RCMP have received five reports of suspicious behavior around local schools.

Parents of school-age children have a lot to worry about these days. If it’s not adult pervs, then it’s bullying from other students. The digital era has added cyber bullying, sexting and inappropriate sharing on social media to the list of concerns for parents.

Perhaps, more thorough sexual health education programs in our schools — and at home — could help children and teens navigate this new and treacherous landscape.

WHERE’S THE NEW BYLAW? — Rural Comox Valley residents are taking an interest in proposed updates to the zoning bylaw. But they’d like to see the actual bylaw.

The CVRD has held one public open house to explain the proposed changes, and there are two more to come this month, in addition to a public hearing scheduled for August. But residents can only see the bylaw at these meetings. It is not available online.

This has irked some rural residents. They say if people could review the bylaw before going to the open houses, they could prepare questions and converse more intelligently about the proposed changes.

DO YOU VALUE OUR HERITAGE? — The Courtenay Heritage Advisory Commission is looking for some new members. Perhaps they could steal some from Comox … oh, wait, Comox doesn’t have a Heritage Commission, or a Heritage Register and, if the town has its way, no remaining buildings of heritage value.

But if you want to volunteer in Courtenay, contact Tatsuyuki Setta at tsetta@courtenay.ca or call 250-703-4839.

THEOS HAS IDEAS — Picking up on a challenge from Mayor Bob Wells to offer ideas to lower Courtenay taxes, rather than just whining about them, Councillor Mano Theos came armed to this week’s meeting with a few ideas.

Unfortunately, Theos is a little late to impact this year’s financial plan. And he didn’t offer any ideas about how to cut expenses. But he did suggest some revenue-generators that Councillor Doug Hillian’s new select committee on revenue could consider.

If the city has its own economic development officer focused on such matters — as does Cumberland, Campbell River, Powell River and Port Alberni — they might come to fruition sooner.

IT AIN’T OVER UNTIL I SAY SO — The Union Bay Improvement District elected two new members to its board recently, but they can’t assume their positions until the chair of the board calls an annual general meeting. And he’s not doing it, apparently because the chair’s views apparently differ from the new board members.

But there are legal question about how long the old board can continue to serve and make decisions without an AGM.

In short, Union Bay politics appears spiteful and crazy.

CHUCK THE GAS TAX — How does it feel to be leading the nation?

No, our roads have just as many potholes as Ontario and our sports teams aren’t winning anything. But, hey, we have the highest gasoline prices of any other province. Thanks, Alberta.

So, maybe it’s time to review our reliance on the gas tax.

More people are driving electric, hybrid and other highly fuel-efficient vehicles today than ever before. That’s good news for the environment, but it’s causing concern, not just at the pumps for consumers, but at the BC Ministry of Transportation over how to pay for upgrading and even maintaining our roadways.

As the number of fuel-efficient vehicles increases, including those that don’t require any gasoline at all, the provincial gas tax revenue will begin a similar and dramatic decline.

But, as the gas tax revenue decreases, the need to repair the province’s roads and fund new projects will remain the same, or more likely grow with population gains.

The state of Oregon has already ditched the gas tax for a miles-driven funding model. LIcensed vehicles in Oregon have a black box plugged into their data ports that records how far it travels on state roads.

Drivers pay on the basis of their road usage, not for their gasoline consumed.

That idea is spreading to other state and now is gaining traction in Washington DC. It’s something for Canada to consider on a federal and provincial level.

We want to encourage fuel efficiency to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gases and save our planet, not to mention the dream of ending Alberta’s economic dependence on extracting dirty oil from the tar sands.

But we also need to maintain and improve our roadways.

IMMUNIZE YOUR KIDS — There was another reported case of measles on Vancouver Island this week. It’s alarming how many new infections have occurred here, in BC, Canada and the US lately.

Measles was declared eradicated in 2000. But there have been more reported cases and in a greater number of individual communities in the last few years than for the past 17 years.

The resurgence of a disease that just a decade ago was killing nearly half a million people annually around the world, stresses the importance to remain vigilant about vaccinations. In particular, parents must continue to immunize their children.

That’s alarming because immunization is so easy and accessible, and proven effective.

Health experts estimate that immunizations have prevented more than 100 million cases of contagious diseases in the last 100 years. Vaccines eliminated smallpox, which killed more than 500 million people. Before the whooping cough vaccine was created in 1940, up to 10,000 people were dying every year from the disease in America.

Parents who don’t immunize their children are gambling on more than their own child’s risk of contracting highly communicable diseases. They are putting others at risk, too, including children medically ineligible for immunization and cancer patients on chemotherapy.

In some states, kids can’t attend school without having received the full package of immunizations. BC should adopt that policy.

The reasons for not getting vaccinated are specious. Fighting medical falsehoods is the bane of every public health official’s existence. An English doctor concocted one of the most egregious deceits in the 1990s that linked the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism. Scientific studies have since debunked the link and Britain’s medical association disbarred the doctor from practicing medicine.

Vaccines are one of humankind’s great achievements, eradicating once unstoppable communicable diseases. But the bugs are persistent, and will return if future generations go unvaccinated.

THE BC LIBERALS WANT YOU — BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson came to the Comox Valley recently to start the search for a provincial candidate.

Hint for former candidate Jim Benninger: you’re out. Losing by a handful of votes to Ronna-Rae Leonard isn’t good enough for this hard-charging, education-cutting party.

 

“Brooklyn Creek is a small creekshed whose hydrology and ecological services have been altered and degraded by decades of land use impacts,” — Tim Pringle in the preface to Assessing the Worth of Ecological Services Using the Ecological Accounting Process for Watershed Assessment: Brooklyn Creek Demonstration Application in the Comox Valley.

 

 

WHAT IS THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS (EAP)?

Ecological Accounting Process — “The EAP approach begins by first recognizing the importance of a stream in a natural state and then asking: how can we maintain those ecological values while allowing the stream to be used for drainage,” says Jim Dumont, Engineering Applications Authority with the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.

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Cumberland workshop steals the spotlight from bullies

A Village of Cumberland workshop addressed bullying in the Comox Valley, where it comes in many disguises, such as mayors or other elected officials, nonprofit board members, popular high school students or managers of businesses large and small