High winds throw Comox spit trimaran aground near park

High winds throw Comox spit trimaran aground near park

BY GEORGE LE MASURIER

A Trimaran named Kyst that had been moored in the lee of Goose Spit Regional Park for about a year has broke its anchorage and gone aground near Mack Laing Park.

The owner, friends and family members were out early this morning to make an attempt to float the vessel on high tide. Several inflatable bags had been placed under the boat to life it off the gravelly beach.

Recent high winds must have caused the mooring to pull loose sometime on Tuesday, Dec. 11. About a half-dozen boats are moored in a relatively small area of deep water on the inside of the Spit. Some appear abandoned there.

A catamaran was anchored in the same general area for several years until it was busted apart and disappeared two years ago.

CVRD trades water for hatchery, for treatment plant land

CVRD trades water for hatchery, for treatment plant land

BY GEORGE LE MASURIER

The Comox Valley Regional District issued this press release today.

The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) and the Courtenay and District Fish & Game Protective Association (Fish & Game Association) have reached an agreement that will see the CVRD acquire a key piece of land and statutory rights-of-way needed for the construction of key infrastructure for the new Comox Valley Water Treatment Project. In exchange, the CVRD will provide the raw water needed for the Fish & Game Association’s proposed hatchery project.

“This land acquisition marks a significant milestone for the Comox Valley Water Treatment Project following the recent federal-provincial grant funding announcement,” said Bob Wells, Chair of the Comox Valley Water Committee. “This agreement is a win-win for the community, enabling construction of key infrastructure for the project while providing the Fish & Game Association with the means to move its environmentally significant hatchery project forward.”

“Our plan is to produce 100,000 Coho annually once our hatchery is operational; half for the Trent River and half for the Puntledge River to provide sports fishing opportunities for the Comox Valley long into the future. Access to the cool water from the depths of the lake is crucial to this program” said Wayne White, Chair of the Conservation Committee for Courtenay and District Fish & Game Protective Association.

Fish & Game Association members clip the adipose fins from Trent River Coho fry before they are released. This mark lets anglers know these are hatchery fish, which can be kept where regulations allow.

The agreement provides a location for the raw water pump station, marine pipeline, and raw water pipeline for the Comox Valley’s new water system. In lieu of receiving money for the property and rights-of-way, the Fish & Game Association will receive raw water from the pump station for their proposed hatchery project and fire protection system, as well as an emergency access point to their campground and boat launch area.

“We are members of the  Comox Valley community and are pleased to assist in the stewardship of the watershed while promoting conservation practices that will benefit the community,” said Fred Bates, President, Courtenay and District Fish & Game Protective Association.

The Courtenay and District Fish & Game Protective Association has been a long-term partner on the Comox Valley Water Treatment Project. The Fish & Game Association hosted CVRD water testing equipment on its property for over eight years, which has been critical in developing the specifications for the new water treatment plant. The CVRD is pleased to continue this partnership by providing raw water to the new hatchery. After 20 years, the Fish & Game Association will assume responsibility for the cost of raw water and any maintenance or replacement of infrastructure required to supply the hatchery and fire hydrants with water.

The CVRD Water Committee approved the agreement in principle in July 2018. The necessary legal agreement is now executed, which allows the CVRD to complete the necessary surveys to officially transfer the parcel of land and register the rights-of-ways.

The Comox Valley Regional District is a federation of three electoral areas and three municipalities providing sustainable services for residents and visitors to the area. The members of the regional district work collaboratively on services for the benefit of the diverse urban and rural areas of the Comox Valley.

 

No word yet on the promised new long-term care beds

No word yet on the promised new long-term care beds

Photo by George Le Masurier

BY GEORGE LE MASURIER

As a strike by care workers at two Comox Valley assisted living facilities enters its sixth day, many people are wondering what happened to the 151 additional long-term care beds promised by Island Health last year?

The critical shortage of long-term care and respite beds in the Comox Valley continues to cause problems for at home caregivers, many of whom are exhausted and in crisis. And it causes overcapacity issues at the Comox Valley Hospital, where patient s who need long-term care are stuck in acute care beds.

The contract award for new beds is already three months late and, according to an Island Health spokesperson, no announcement is imminent.

Island Health issued a Request for Proposal for 70 new long-term care beds over three years ago, but cancelled it a year later, and issued a new RFP this year. The health authority said it would award contracts by Aug. 31 of this year.

When it missed that deadline, Island Health said the contracts would be announced later in the fall. Now, three months later, the contracts have still not been awarded.

Asked what is holding up the awarding of contracts, Island Health spokesperson Meribeth Burton said, “Awarding a long-term care contract is a complex, multi-stage process. We want to ensure we are thoughtful in our decision because this facility will serve the community for decades to come.”

Island Health could give no date when the awards would be announced.

“We understand the community needs these additional resources and is anxious to learn when the contract will be awarded. We will be able share more details with the community once a project development agreement is finalized with a proponent,” she said. “We don’t have a firm date, but we will let you know as soon as we can.”

Burton said Island Health still pins the timeline for opening the new long term care beds at 2020.

In the meantime, 21 long-term care patients were relocated back to the former St. Joe’s Hospital, which reopened and renovated its third floor to create an additional and temporary long-term care facility. St. Joe’s already operates The Views for about 120 long-term patients. The new facility in the old hospital is called Mountain View.

The move was planned in part to relieve overcapacity issue at the Comox Valley Hospital.

41% of voters cast ballots as of this morning

41% of voters cast ballots as of this morning

BY GEORGE LE MASURIER

Update Friday morning, Dec. 7

Elections BC reported this morning that it has received 1,356,000 ballots in the electoral referendum as of 8.20 am this morning. That is a 41 percent turnout of BC registered voters.

More ballots should arrive throughout the day, until the cutoff at 4.30 pm this afternoon.

Saanich North and the Islands still lead all areas with a 52.4 percent turnout of ballot screens so far, with Parksville-Qualicum close behind at 51.4 percent. The Comox Valley isa 46.8 percent.

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Update Thursday morning, Dec. 6

Saanich North and the Islands and the Parksville-Qualicum area continued to lead British Columbians in electoral reform voting. 50.3 percent of Saanich North’s register voters have had their ballots screened by Elections BC, and 49.2 percent of Parksvile-Qualicum registered voters. So far, 45.5 percent of Comox Valley registered voters have returned ballots that have passed through the initial screening.

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As of 8.20 a.m. Wednesday morning, Elections BC had screened the ballots of 34.2 percent of registered voters in British Columbia. But they have received ballots from about 40 percent of voters.  

The rate of return has been high in some communities like Parksville-Qualicum, where 47.7 percent of voters have returned the ballot package. The top voting region so far is Saanich North and the Islands with a 48.8 percent return.

The Comox Valley also topped the 40 percent mark, at 43.9 percent this morning.

Other top voting communities include: Oak Bay-Gordon Head at 45.5 percent, Nelson-Creton at 42.7 percent, Powell River-Sunshine Coast at 43.5 percent and Saanich South at 42.1 percent.

The lowest number of returned ballots so far have come from the many Surrey ridings, with Surrey-Green Timbers ranking the lowest of the low at 20.2 percent.

Only ballots received by Elections BC by 4.30 pm on Friday, Dec. 7 will be counted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hanukkah: celebrating the promise of hope in dark times

Hanukkah: celebrating the promise of hope in dark times

BY RABBI SETH GOLDSTEIN

Tonight marks the beginning of Hanukkah, that eight-day celebration when we bring light into the darkness by lighting the menorah each night.

The story of Hanukkah is retold and well known—the Hasmoneans (Maccabees) lead a revolt against the assimilationist forces of Antiochus and the Syrian-Greeks and emerge victorious. When they go to rededicate the ancient Temple—the most sacred site of the Jewish community—they find a small vial of sacred oil to light the Temple lamp (menorah), a light that was meant to burn continuously. As the story goes, there was enough to last for one day only, when lit however it burned for eight days. That provided enough time for new sacred olive oil to be produced.

There are a lot of complications with the story. The sides of the conflict were not clear cut, and it was in many ways an intra-Jewish battle between religious zealots and Greek sympathizers. The story of the oil and the story of the battle appear in different sources and are brought together later. The length of the holiday has as much to do with the 8-day Festival of Sukkot as much as the story of the oil. But told as it is, it provides a powerful narrative of the confluence of divine light and the light of the human spirit.

A question that ran through my mind recently is, what would have happened if they didn’t find any consecrated oil at all? If as tradition teaches, it took eight days to make consecrated oil, then would the Hasmoneans simply had to wait eight days before they could finish dedicating the Temple?

Presumably so. And yet, they did find the small vial, and then rather than wait until more oil was made, a condition in which they could have been assured of a constant flame, they decided to go ahead and light it anyway.

As I have shared in the past, perhaps the miracle of Hanukkah is not that a day’s worth of oil actually burned for eight days, but that the Hasmoneans recognized that they did not have enough, but decided to light it anyway. They knew in that moment that they could not do it all, but they decided to do what they could, hoping that it would be enough.

And that is another way to think about this holiday. The Hasmoneans knew they needed to move beyond the recent past of destruction and desecration. At the same time, they did not know what the future would hold. Thus the lighting of the small vial of oil is an act of being in the present, of doing what one can do right now, with the resources one has in the situation one finds themselves, without certainty about what comes next.

One can imagine each day watching this flame, not knowing whether that day was the day it would finally burn out. A precarious situation that reminds us that each day was a victory, each day a success, each day a step to celebrate.

Presumably on the ninth day, everything would have been back to normal. The lamp in the Temple would have been continuously lit, enough oil would be in store to keep it going, and the community would press on as it had before. The eight days of Hanukkah therefore celebrate the “in between”–the days between destruction and return to normalcy.

And by celebrating these days of “in between,” our tradition teaches that ultimately, they are not the “in between,” but simply, what is. Hanukkah teaches us to celebrate the here and now, the small victories won each day. We hope for a better future, but we also live each day as best we can, nurturing the flame that we have.

In these dark times, it sometimes feels that we can not generate enough light to sustain us. But we know we are never in complete darkness, there is always a small vial of oil, of promise, of hope, even if we don’t see it at first. And no matter what, when we find it, we light it, doing what we can in this moment, on this day, to bring about a new reality.

Rabbi Seth Goldstein serves Temple Beth Hatfiloh and may be reached via his website, Rabbi360.com

 

 

 

About Hanukkah

Chanukah is the Jewish eight-day, wintertime “festival of lights,” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers and fried foods. The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication,” and is thus named because it celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple. Also spelled Hanukkah (or variations of that spelling), the Hebrew word is actually pronounced with a guttural, “kh” sound, kha-nu-kah, not tcha-new-kah. — From Chabad.org

Back in 139 BCE, the Maccabees returned to Jerusalem to liberate it. In the Temple, they built a new altar and made a new menorah. When they wanted to light it, they found they only had enough oil to light it for one day. But that lamp kept burning for eight nights and was considered a miracle. Since then a festival of lights has been celebrated every year to remember the occasion. Candles are lit for eight nights, and families eat foods cooked with oil and exchange presents. — From CBC


 

Read more or contact the Central Vancouver Island Jewish Community Society in Parksville here

 

 

The week in review: new councils make their own first meeting statements

The week in review: new councils make their own first meeting statements

It’s a long and lonely road to the top. George Le Masurier photo

BY GEORGE LE MASURIER

Voters meted out the biggest changes to local government this fall in Courtenay and Comox with a sharp shift toward younger and more progressive councillors. But it’s still the Cumberland Village Council that, so far, has delivered on the progressive agenda.

Mayor Leslie Baird’s crew needed just a couple of meetings to approve two marijuana dispensaries, agree to a prohibition on water bottling and start the ball rolling on a village-wide plastic bag ban.

Of course, Cumberland already had the most functionally progressive council in the Valley, and had only one change after the election — Vickey Brown for Roger Kishi. Courtenay has three new councillors and Comox has four.

— Kudos to Comox Councillor Patrick McKenna for casting the lone vote against awarding council members what many will see as a pay increase. It’s not, of course. The increase merely covers the loss of tax-exempt status on council expenses. And the remuneration for elected officials wasn’t overly generous to begin with.

But the optics were bad. Whoever decided to put that decision on the table at the new councils’ first meeting, did the disservice of putting them all in a bad position.

— No one ever doubted that funding for the $125 million water-filtering plant would materialize. It’s being built as a result of government (Island Health) mandated standards and, environmental cynics would say, because of provincial policies that allowed logging practices in the Comox Lake watershed that caused most of the turbidity problems in the first place.

Still, the $63.9 million for the project announced this week was comforting. The feds threw in $34.3 and the province gave $28.6 million, $7.5 million of which goes to the K’omoks First Nations. Comox Valley taxpayers will buck up the balance of $54.9.

And for that $125 million about half of Comox Valley residents get no more boil-water advisories. The other half will continue to drink from their wells and other water sources.

— What a difference a year or so makes. The Mack Laing Heritage Society asked Comox Council to put a tarp on the roof of Shakesides, the famous naturalists last home on Comox Bay back in April of of 2017 and never got a formal reply. The issue was never even brought to council for a vote.

But the new council (four new, three incumbents) discussed and approved the request at its very first meeting. What changed? Did the three who served on the previous council suddenly get religion? Or, did they and certain staff members just realize the majority of four new council members had no interest in playing the “I can’t hear you game” with Shakesides supporters?

Whatever the reason, the council did the right thing. Until the court rules on the town’s petition to alter a generous man’s gift to his community or some other way forward is adopted, the building in Mack Laing Park must be protected.

— Who doesn’t want to live in a community where the City Council bikes to its meetings? Well maybe the Comox Valley Taxpayer’s Alliance. But many of us do.

Yeah, we know, it was nothing more than a PR stunt hastily arranged when Courtenay council members gathered at a downtown bike shop and rode together to their first council meeting. And, yet, it meant something important. It represented an attitude and a vision for how this council will address transportation and related issues. 

City councillors aren’t all going to bike to every council meeting. They just took an opportunity to make a simple, positive statement. Now they need to back up that message with policy.

— Overheard at the Comox public input session regarding the Comox Valley Sewer System redesign, which primarily serves Courtenay and Comox residents …

“Know why Courtenay should pay the full cost of odour control measures at the treatment plant? Because in Comox, our s–t doesn’t stink.”