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   BC Refuses the Enbridge Northern Pipeline !

MPs Murray Rankin and Nathan Cullen hold a public forum in Victoria with guests from many organizations to discuss the strategies and successes for saving BC’s environment from catastrophe.

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    Dominion Brook Park

DominionBrookParkby Ed Johnson and Penny Boone

The Friends of the Dominion Brook Park Society are celebrating another year in their ongoing restoration of an area of North Saanich familiar to generations of local residents.  The park, originally part of the Dominion Experimental Farm, which is actually more like a botanical garden, was established at the turn of the last century with plants sourced from around the world making it a unique destination for tourists.

The park fell into disuse in the early 80s when the Federal Government, on whose land it is located, began to neglect the upkeep due to economic concerns.  Seeing the brambles and ivy take over the park was too much for neighbours, Katie and John Dawson, and soon thereafter the Friends were established.  Many hours of volunteer work over the years have gained the appreciation of all who have come to enjoy the 11 acre park.

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One long-time volunteer, Stu, puts it this way. We moved to Saanichton 10 years ago and quickly discovered DBP as a beautiful place to run our two Golden Retrievers.  After reading the pamphlet at the park we felt we would like to give something back, and have enjoyed working with the wonderful group of people who come out every Wednesday morning.  It’s exciting to see the changes we help to make in the park.

Besides its namesake, the Dominion Brook which channels water from the heights of John Dean Park, there are also several ponds of note, a sunken garden and a ravine that once bragged of a multitude of rhododendrons.  It is this particular ravine that the Friends are calling the ‘jewel’ of the park, as efforts are underway to restore its grandeur once more.  Now in the midst of ‘phase 2’, the current chair, David Lye, looks forward to the completion of a geotechnical study to determine the stability of the ravine slopes, and an aquatic habitat assessment.

According to past chair, Joan Gibb, “the completion of the rhodo ravine project will see a path extending the length of the ravine and a bridge crossing to the other side, revealing a profusion of rhodo blossoms in the spring, and a cool respite during the summer months.

Today the park continues to play a role in the social fabric of the community.  It is a place where people gather to enjoy picnics, weddings, Easter egg hunts and the simple joy of a walk with friends and pets.

The Friends produce a thrice-yearly newsletter for its members and will be celebrating their accomplishments at their upcoming AGM, April 16, 7:00 pm, to which the public is invited.  The event is held annually at the Pavilion, The Centre for Plant Health, 8801 East Saanich Rd.  Refreshments are provided.

For more information and to join the Society, call David Lye at 250 656 0318, or visit www.dominionbrookpark.ca for directions.

 

Democracy, North Saanich Style

by Ross Campbell

I encourage all citizens to attend North Saanich council meetings and to play a part in our democracy, writes North Saanich Councillor Craig Mearns in a letter to the editor in the Peninsula News Review of February 20 2014.

Apparently the invitation does not extend to all citizens, as local resident Springfield Harrison recently found out.  At issue was the presentation of a professional report by University of Victoria professor, Dr. Brock Smith on the merits of the recent North Saanich Housing Strategy Implementation Plan (HSIP).  Mr. Harrison was struck from the agenda with statements such as “I don’t care what Mr. Harrison says,” from Councillor Dunstan Browne.

Councillor Ted Daly initiated the motion, supported by Councillors Brown, Mearns, and McBride, overruling Mayor Alice Finall’s plea to respect a basic right guaranteed all citizens. But this was only one act in a multi-act play being performed for the benefit of those who take an interest in such affairs in the council chambers.

The HSIP got its start early in 2012, when CTQ Consultants of Kelowna was retained at a cost of $ 16,800 to initiate a process of public consultation related to the prospect of possibly introducing higher density housing in the District.  The Terms of Reference state that “the District is taking a proactive approach to identify and address local housing needs.”  In  fact, housing needs had been on the radar since at least 2007 when the District decided on public meetings to allow residents to opine about potential higher density housing.

In its report then, CitySpaces Consulting Ltd. noted that there was strong support for keeping North Saanich’s rural landscape intact. Therefore it recommended secondary suites and secondary dwellings be considered, along with recognition of locations where “smaller lots and multi-family housing would be acceptable…preferably in the form of dwelling units affordable to moderate income households.”  This “moderate income” was defined in 2008 as a family with an income between $70 to $90,000 annually.  Affordable housing became “rental or ownership housing that is attainable by a household without spending more than 30% of their annual gross income on housing.

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Further it stated, “A North Saanich couple family earning $91,099 (median income 2007) can afford to pay $ 2,429 monthly on housing without spending more than 32% of their income.  At this income, the couple could afford to purchase a home of $453,390, assuming a 10% down payment.”  A single income worker with a median annual income of $35,500 was limited to a purchase price of $177,000.  These figures have not changed much in the intervening years, according to CMHC and TD Bank figures in the later CTQ report.

With a population of 11,000, it is important to note that the public input consisted of three information sessions attended by between 25 to 40 people, and similar numbers were contacted by telephone, attended the open house, or the community workshop.  “The participation level was similar to housing strategy processes in other communities,” the report stated.

Fast forward to 2012 and yet another consultant, CTQ, hired for the task of identifying “housing needs and community values.”  Again stakeholder focus groups, a public open house town hall type meeting as well as an ‘exit’ survey were used to gauge public sentiment during the first three months of the year.  The report recognized the need to “balance these new dynamics (growing industrial hub, diverse employment node, growing ferry terminal, more highway traffic and pressures for development) while maintaining a community character for future generations to enjoy.”  And, “the agricultural land base (ALR) and farming area helps define what North Saanich is all about for many residents,” leading the consultant to repeatedly describe ALR land as “sacrosanct.” Protection of property values and the environment were also strong considerations.  In spite of this the Sandown Racetrack lands were suggested for comprehensive development because, it stated, “although these values are important, they must be considered in unison with other planning principles…”  The complete report is at: http://tinyurl.com/oguz93o.

By the time this was completed, the consultant’s bill to the taxpayers for this exercise had risen to over $68,000.

Several professional responses to this report came from the public-at no cost to the District.  The first, written by Dr. Natasha Caverley in September, 2013, was accepted without discussion by council.  Her remarks questioned the vagueness of terminology and the use of terms, such as “anti-higher density” to seemingly cast aspersions on groups of residents.  As well, “a series of statements, often provocative in nature, are noted in the HSIP final report without any source material referenced/cited,” Dr. Caverley adds.  The complete letter can be read here: http://tinyurl.com/caverley.

Dr. Brock Smith, Professor of Marketing & Entrepreneurship at UVic’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, and CEO of Cordova Bay Consulting Ltd. was asked by Mr. Harrison and a group of concerned citizens to “assess the validity of the HSIP Exit Survey.”  Dr. Smith has done similar survey-based research for Tourism Victoria, the Victoria Airport Authority, Clipper Navigation, among others.

In his critique, Dr. Smith also took issue with the limited numbers sampled, “The sampling approach was, at best, a convenience sample…the weakest samples from a perspective of representativeness….It would be inappropriate to generalize findings beyond the sample.”

He concludes with, “In my opinion, this convenience nature of the sample, and significant limitations in the question wording and measurement scales (answer choices) in this particular [exit] survey warrants significant caution in making key administrative or policy decisions based on the results of this survey.”  The entire document can be found here. http://tinyurl.com/ok2t9ua.

In his letter of March 3rd, Mr. Harrison takes certain council members to task.  “There is ample evidence that your group has no interest in a level playing field when it comes to public discussion…..Section 8 of the Procedures Bylaw requires [council members] ‘to consider the well-being and interests of the District and its community.’  Shutting down free expression does not align with this directive.” He adds, ‘this evaluation leaves the HSIP process, its recommendations and conclusions and all policies flowing from them, resting upon a very weakened foundation.” The complete letter can be found here:  http://tinyurl.com/oen5g37.

Addressing mental health needs at Our Place Society

by Natasha Caverley and Ed Johnson

Not every story has a happy ending…but the discoveries of science, the teachings of the heart, and the revelations of the soul all assure us that no human being is ever beyond redemption. The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists. How to support that possibility in others and in ourselves is the ultimate question.” Dr. Gabor Maté, In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts: Close encounters with addiction

Located on Pandora Avenue in downtown Victoria, Our Place Society provides 45 transitional housing units, more than 1,200 meals a day, hot showers, free clothing, counselling and outreach services to Greater Victoria’s most vulnerable citizens. Building upon a social justice framework, Don Evans, Executive Director, and his staff recognize that many of the individuals who utilize the Society’s services are not only dealing with homelessness and poverty but they are also experiencing varying degrees of mental illness. Matt McCoy, Mental Health and Addictions Clinician at Our Place Society, stated that there are multiple barriers facing individuals who utilize Our Place Society’s services…they are often exploited and experiencing generations of poverty along with issues such as depression or anxiety.

Did you know?

Our Place Society was formed by the alliance and merging of the Upper Room and Open Door— two organizations that provided services in downtown Victoria for disadvantaged citizens. Approximately 600—800 people per day visit the drop-in centre at Our Place Society. 

For more information about Our Place Society, visit www.ourplacesociety.com.

Currently Our Place Society has staff in the areas of residential support, outreach, psychotherapy, addictions and pastoral support that provide a holistic approach to providing mental health services—bringing together psychological and spiritual influences that emphasize education, self-help and self-healing. Non-traditional approaches and services such as Vets for Pets, acupuncture and acupressure, music and art therapy, and access to warming stations during extreme weather periods provide individuals at Our Place Society with a new perspective on health and social service delivery. The holistic framework utilized at Our Place creates a more open, equal and reciprocal relationship between staff and Greater Victoria’s most vulnerable citizens. Le-ann Dolan, Director of Operations at Our Place Society, stated that we have a welcoming environment at Our Place…it is not a service/client relationship; instead, we are family.

Evans outlined that the new Psychotherapy Program being offered twice a week at Our Place Society by Dr. Bill Cooke provides a needs-based approach for individuals in addressing their unique situations and issues.Rapport building, fostering trust and taking a non-judgmental attitude towards others are key attributes for Our Place Society’s outreach workers and residential support workers who are typically the initial point of contact in making connections with Greater Victoria’s most vulnerable citizens. Peer support is another valuable service offered at Our Place Society. Approximately 40% of the staff at the Society experienced mental health/ addictions issues and homelessness.

Like a mariner’s compass, Don Evans and his staff help to navigate Greater Victoria’s most vulnerable populations through the often complex and complicated “high seas” of the current health care system and its mental health services. Dolan recognizes that individuals utilizing Our Place Society’s services are in need of the basic necessities in life (e.g., food, water, clothing and shelter), safety and a sense of belonging. As a navigator, Our Place Society staff provide referrals and/or liaise with other external associations, agencies and related organizations in Greater Victoria such as the Access Health Centre, AIDS Vancouver Island, Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team at Island Health and City of Victoria.

At present, Our Place Society has a new Director of Communications position and the Board of Directors has developed a new Social Justice Committee which will dovetail into developing a strategy for advocacy and communications—educating the broader public about mental health awareness for Greater Victoria’s most vulnerable populations. This year, Evans and his staff will be meeting with the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, Dr. Bernadette (Bernie) Pauly, Victoria Police Department Chief Constable Frank Elsner, BC Housing and Island Health as a means of collaborating on mental health, addiction and homelessness issues in Greater Victoria.

Did you know?

Through Island Health (Vancouver Island Health Authority), Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) is a mobile community-based mental health program that focuses on individual clients and their road towards recovery. This program facilitates community living, psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery for individuals who have serious mental health issues. Key services include, but are not limited to, crisis assessment and intervention, psychiatric/psychological treatment and supports, and psychiatric medication prescription and management.

Over the next five to 10 years, Evans and his team are keen on expanding the Society’s hours of operations to seven days a week including early mornings and late evenings, enhancing their professional development for staff (particularly in the area of mental health) and providing pre-employment and skills development programs—recognizing that access to funding through donations, philanthropic organizations and support from the provincial government are important mechanisms for building mental health capacity within the Society.

For Evans, he views his work as Executive Director not as a job but as a spiritual ministry to help individuals whom he considers as “family” in advocating for their equity and human rights through education, skills development, consciousness-raising and related program/service delivery at Our Place Society.

Did you know?

From May 7—9, 2014, the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) will be hosting its annual conference in Victoria, BC. Dr. Gabor Maté, a Hungarian-born Canadian physician who specializes in the study and treatment of addiction is one of the keynote speakers at this event.

Cookie Monsters Run Amok… in Central Saanich?

by Vivian Corban

7:00 PM, Monday February 3rd, 2014. Just another Monday night.

All quiet on the home front. Everyone just going about their business, unaware of the attack about to happen.

The grandfather was watching his wrestling, waiting for dinner.

The grandmother was putting the finishing touches on the dinner.

The granddaughter was setting the table for dinner, not realising that elsewhere in Central Saanich, strange events were happening, and she was about to become the latest victim of the mysterious Central Saanich Cookie Monsters.

And then came the warning; the grating sound of a gate in need of adjustment, scraping across the deck. It was the first clue that this was not going to be just another Monday night.

Expecting a family friend to drop by, K….. , who prefers to remain anonymous, opened the door, but to her surprise, there was no one there.

So what actually happened?

“Honestly, I have no idea what happened. There was a flash of teeth, and a flash of fur, and a ‘k-kunk’, and then there was nothing,” the victim, K….. , exclaims with dramatic flair.

“Actually,” she confesses moments later with a cheeky grin, “there was no fur and no teeth. I didn’t see anything or anyone by the time I got out there. Just a car, driving away up the road. I don’t even know if it came from our place.”

Mystified, she went back into the house.

“And then,” she adds, “my grandfather said, ‘There’s something on the ground.’. So I went out to pick it up, and there was a

 plate of cookies.” (Three cookies. Home-baked chocolate chip on a Chinet plate. With a list of ingredients, in case of allergies.)

“Automatically I wondered, ‘What the h— just happened?’”

Deepening the mystery, there were two clues.

1. A note tucked under the list of

cookie monsters-1

ingredients.

“Congratulations, K….. You have just been cookied. We hope you like cookies. We bet you’re wondering who this is. We won’t tell you. Not yet. Only after we have delivered the last plate (there are 202) will we reveal ourselves. Oh, and if you figure it out, try and keep it to yourself. Thanks :)”

2.  A note in green felt marker on the plate.

“K…..!!!

“You are a fantastic artist!!! Seriously, you have superb talent. You’re also very kind and friendly :) Enjoy! – The Cookie Monsters.”

So! It was a personal attack; nothing random about it. These Cookie Monsters choose their victims and strike under the cover of darkness.

It would appear the question now is, has the victim figured out who the mysterious Cookie Monsters are?

“Not a clue,” she admits sheepishly. Not even any guesses as to who it could be, although there was plenty of guessing going on at the dinner table that night.

If you’re wondering, true to her kind nature, K….. shared the cookies; it worked out perfectly – three cookies, three family members. Did the Cookie Monsters know, or was it just a serendipitous coincidence? They’re not telling.

But who are these Cookie Monsters? Is Central Saanich their home stomping ground, or do they roam further afield? And how did they come up with the idea of spreading kindness and joy and mystery mixed in with a whole lot of fun and a whole lot of cookies? Two hundred and two plates! That’s a lot of baking – and a huge commitment!

If you see these Cookie Monsters, please keep your distance and don’t try to catch them. They are obviously timid and you wouldn’t want to scare them away. In time, with patience, all will be revealed.

However – if you do find out who the Cookie Monsters are, or if you happen to be a Cookie Monster, Saanich Voice Online would like to know. Write to editor@saanichvoiceonline.ca

And to the Cookie Monsters out there, on behalf of Saanich Voice Online and the residents of Central Saanich, “Thanks.” Of all the reasons why monsters of any ilk might be skulking around residential areas in the dark, cookies would not normally make the Top 10 list.

The last word goes to the befuddled victim, K…..

“Who ARE you? And thanks for the cookies – and for putting a little spark in my life on an otherwise dull Monday night, and for the mystery, and the headache. I’m going in for a bath now – and I’m taking my cookie.”

     Chief Don Tom – A New Direction

by Natasha Caverley, Citizen Journalist

NewDirection

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

For Don Tom, the newly elected Chief for Tsartlip First Nation (W̱JOȽEȽP), these words from Barack Obama serve as a guide both personally and professionally.

Born and raised on the Tsartlip First Nation reserve in Brentwood Bay, Don, traditionally named Kwul’thut’stun, describes himself first and foremost as a member of the Saanich (W̱SÁNEĆ) People.

Chief Tom speaks both English and Hul’q’umi’num’, as his late grandmother, Nora Tom was originally from Chemanius in the CowichanValley. His ancestral lineage also extends to Ahousaht, BC with cultural connections to the Nuu-cha-nulth (Nootka) People. The Chief frequently references Nora as an important role model in his life.

She led by example and was a hard worker. Growing up in an alcoholic family, my grandmother gave me strength and supported me…  in being the same person you are at home as you are in the community. She taught me to be accepting of others and value the importance of continuing your education” states the Chief. The late Nora Tom was a ResidentialSchool survivor who worked on Michell Farm in Central Saanich.

A graduate of Stelly’s Secondary School, Don’s career path was always focused on community service with emphasis on supporting children and families. His first job was a summer student at Tsartlip First Nation serving as a day camp leader. From there, he went to CamosunCollege completing the First Nation Family Support Worker Program. A practicum placement at Pauquachin First Nation in North Saanich, led to the dual position of Assistant Health Director and Housing Coordinator.

In 2005 at the age of 23, Don was elected as a Tsartlip First Nation Councillor. Chief Tom reflects on the experiential learning that he gained from handling a range of community issues alongside the Chief and fellow Councillors such as the Health Centre strike. “Governance is about knowing how to make effective decisions…how to work with people’s strengths and setting healthy boundaries as part of the elected leadership for our Nation” states the Chief.

During a second term in office from 2007 – 2009, Don was one of 15 Aboriginal Youth selected from over 80 applicants to participate in the inaugural Aboriginal Youth Internship Program, providing him with an opportunity to work as a Youth Engagement Coordinator for the Ministry of Children and Family Development and the former Vancouver Island Aboriginal Transition Team.

After completing the Internship Program, Don was a Community Implementation Manager and Family Advocate at the South Island Wellness Society located in North Saanich, assisting  southern Vancouver Island First Nation communities in developing and supporting community-based and culturally relevant approaches for the delivery of child and family services.

C:UsersRonnieDocumentstsartlipstellys-site base.pdf

On December 8, 2013, Don was elected as Chief along with nine councillors to Tsartlip First Nation Council. Located on the Saanich Inlet. Tsartlip (W̱JOȽEȽP), part of the Saanich (W̱SÁNEĆ) First Nation, means “the land of maples” in SENĆOŦEN. The Tsartlip First Nation territory is centred on the Saanich Peninsula (Brentwood Bay) and southern Gulf Islands (Mayne Island, along Active Pass) with property in the Highlands that are a part of Tsartlip First Nation (TFN) holdings​.Over the next two years (December 2013 to December 2015), with approximately 1,100 community members who reside either on or off reserve, Chief Tom and Council will serve as the elected representatives of the largest First Nation community on southern Vancouver Island. During Chief Tom’s career and life journey, the role of social support from community Elders, mothers, fathers, former Chiefs and Saanich (W̱SÁNEĆ) Nation leaders (both current and former) has been both humbling and rewarding. His father, Chris Tom, is a former Chief of Tsartlip First Nation, serving as an elected Councillor and subsequently as an elected Chief for the Nation from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s. Chief Tom shared that, “my father reminds me of being true to one’s self. He gives me the necessary space to carry out my leadership role… providing encouragement and support at arm’s length and keeping me grounded.” It is through this social support from Tsartlip First Nation and the broader Saanich Nation that Chief Tom hopes to “lend a helping hand and develop relationships with neighbouring communities to both serve and give.”

Communications, community engagement and active listening are pillars of Chief Tom’s self-identified leadership style. Though Tsartlip First Nation (W̱JOȽEȽP) Council is currently engaging in strategic planning to determine their collective focus and set of priorities during their two year term in office, Chief Tom is committed to introducing himself to the Tsartlip First Nation (W̱JOȽEȽP) Elders, particularly as it relates to seeking initial guidance and direction on answering the following question, “how do we bridge and integrate our own (cultural) practices and governance processes to aid us in our community decision-making?

Chief Tom is mindful that there is a substantial gap between governance and cultural practices in terms of how decisions are made on various community matters ranging from economic development, education to health and housing. “I would like to see Tsartlip First Nation reclaim its decision-making beyond the Indian Act…where we integrate our traditional governance structure of family representation in engaging the community…where heads of households invite ideas, share information and make decisions on community matters like the new Tsartlip First Nation Gas Station and Convenience Store…the reclamation of our traditional governance structure and protocols can aid in greater transparency and accountability back to the community” said Chief Tom.

Looking ahead, Chief Tom will be continuing the economic development opportunities that have been discussed and agreed upon through referenda—including the Tsartlip First Nation Gas Station and Convenience Store that is anticipated to open in Summer 2014. Identifying and utilizing new ways of engaging members through the use of social media, newsletters and community engagement planning with all facets of the community (e.g., Elders, Youth, parents, community members both on and off reserve) are areas of focus for Chief Tom as he and the Tsartlip First Nation Council look at how to get community members involved in various Nation-led initiatives. Also, finding ways to better support Tsartlip First Nation (W̱JOȽEȽP) community members in exercising their (Douglas Treaties) hunting and fishing rights as well as reclaiming the Nation’s child welfare system are top of mind for Chief Tom over the next two years.

Overall, Chief Tom is excited and optimistic about the future of Tsartlip First Nation— “we have a lot of potential in our Nation to tap into…we can be a role model of the future.

 

Did you know?

The four Saanich (W̱SÁNEĆ) Nations are Pauquachin, Tsartlip, Tsawout and Tseycum.

 

Did you know?

In 2006, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed in a 4-3 decision that the Tsartlip First Nation’s (W̱JOȽEȽP) right to hunt was protected by the North Saanich Treaty of 1852, commonly referred to as one of the Douglas Treaties. This Supreme Court of Canada decision was based on the Ivan Morris et al. v. Her Majesty The Queen case. The Douglas Treaties allowed signatories and their descendants to retain existing village sites and fields for their continued use, the “liberty to hunt over unoccupied lands” and the right to “carry on their fisheries as formerly.”

 

Did you know?

The Aboriginal Youth Internship Program was first announced in May 2007 by the Government of British Columbia. The program was based on a commitment made in the 2006 Throne Speech to create and implement an Aboriginal Youth Internship Program in the BC public service.

 

Did you know?

Located on the Saanich Inlet, W̱JOȽEȽP (Tsartlip) is part of the W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) First Nation. Tsartlip (W̱JOȽEȽP) means “the land of maples” in SENĆOŦEN. The Tsartlip First Nation territory is centred on the SaanichPeninsula (Brentwood Bay, BC) and southern GulfIslands (Mayne Island, BC along ActivePass) with property in the Highlands that are a part of Tsartlip First Nation (TFN) holdings.

In addition to the band office and a number of community facilities such as the new Tsartlip First Nation Health Centre, the LÁU,WELNEWTribalSchool, the W̱SÁNEĆ School Board and the offices of the First Peoples’ Heritage, Language, and Culture Council are located on Tsartlip First Nation traditional territory.

For more information about Tsartlip First Nation, visit www.tsartlip.com.

Is There A Doctor In The House?

by Ed Johnson, Citizen Journalist

Some readers may remember Premier Gordon Campbell’s health care initiative back in 2006 when a “Conversation on Health” was launched province wide in anticipation of improving access to health services.  Many suggestions to decrease wait times for surgeries, increase primary care with family doctor clinics, and methods to determine outcomes were proffered.

Unfortunately hardly any of this translated into government policy, and here we are today with the same issues which have only become worse. According to The College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC, the number of general practitioners in BC who are accepting new patients declined by almost 70% between 1999 and 2006 while the BC population grew by 7.5%.

During a recent forum entitled “A GP For Me”, attended by over 160 people, including physicians, nurses, municipal leaders and members of the public (but no one from the Ministry of Health), it was discovered that one-third of the audience had no physician at all.  And of those that did, many had to travel some distance for their appointments – becoming a hardship for the elderly.

Doctors are getting older too. In one case a local general practitioner suddenly took early retirement leaving hundreds of patients without recourse.  It is estimated that 40% of the current practicing physicians will retire in the next 15 years. As well, many doctors are only working part time. Substituting walk-in clinics is the only avenue left for those unable to source a doctor accepting new patients.

The GP For Me forum, organized by the newly formed South Island Chapter of the Divisions of Family Practice, which boasts 98% buy-in by local doctors, was another attempt to shine a light on the realities of present day health care.  This is the first time family physicians are coming together to work collaboratively with the community to develop better ways to improve access to health services,” reported Dr. Robin Saunders, Chair of SIDFP.  Andrew Hume, Executive Director, adds, “As physicians retire or reduce their workload as they move toward full retirement, the problem of people being able to find a regular family doctor is going to get worse over time unless we can attract new doctors into the community and create more attractive work options that will help the doctors we have stay in active practice longer.

Several solutions, although a repeat of past recommendations, where developed by the forum.

It was suggested by many that the most obvious solution was to establish collaborative medical clinics, staffed by several doctors, nurse practitioners (NP), and other services.  Simple issues, such as vaccinations, treatment of cold and flu symptoms could be treated by NP’s, leaving the doctors free to treat more serious conditions.

As well, the loss of a doctor in these clinics would not be catastrophic for the patients.  It would be up to the clinic to replace or add to their staff as required.

That this would reduce visits to emergency clinics, and thereby saving health dollars, is not disputed.  “We need to look at developing new models to deliver primary care such as larger group practices where cross-coverage can be provided within a group of doctors, and clinics that can act as a medical home where individuals and families can access a range of services from family doctors and other providers,says Mr. Hume.  In addition, Moderator for A GP for Me, Linda Nehra, emphasized the need for incentives for recruitment of graduating doctors for the lower island.  Why would new grads come here and stay here and what can we do to make that happen?   New grads come out of school with debts of $250,000.00 and find that the highest paying positions are in the north.

We need to collect information to better understand the extent of the problem and to help us to plan physician recruitment and retention to address future needs,” according to Mr. Hume. Through things like the community forum and health surveys, we are beginning to pull this type of information together.

 AmbroseMarshDr. Ambrose Marsh, Chief of Staff, Saanich Peninsula Hospital, gave an update on the local hospital.  We opened a new Operating Room in 2012, and the Post Anesthetic Recovery Room just started a few weeks ago.  The new Emergency Room in 2003, the new OR and the PARR came from you.  This is the strength of this community.  Needs were assessed and the community came together.  We need to be very proud of that.

Success for me in this initiative is that we will have quality of life, and quality of care on the peninsula.”.

The Bridge

LydiaAliceIvesby Lydia Alice Ives Toorenburgh

Grade 12 Stelly’s Secondary

Honourable Mention : Humanitarianism

I walk for a long time. My hands lost in my pockets. My eyes lost in the bubbling horizon. Without the excitement of Christmas, and without the reckless joy of New Year’s the streets are cold and grey. It’s just January: all the children are back in school, the loud, button-up Hawaii shirts are back in their dressers, the shops have taken down the “clearance” signs.

I hope mom has calmed down now; if we get another noise complaint we could get evicted. She only had about ten minutes in her when I left, and fortunately, this time, the slap had more cigarette ash and Captain Morgan’s than force. I try to turn off the rerun of the fight playing in my head. I drift past couples and families, all bundled against the cold. I follow the pull of my stomach. It brings me to the bridge.

Every car that blows past is a great palm pressed against my back, pushing my diaphragm into the frosted metal bar. I wedge the scuffed toes of my rip-off Converse between the iron spindles and curl the flesh of my stomach around the rail, letting my head hang. Tar coloured tendrils writhe in front of my face like snakes. Gravity pulls my cheeks towards the river, which rages underneath me like a stampede of moviegoers from a burning theatre. Tumbling and churning, it crashes against the banks and throws itself toward the ocean – as if it is afraid to freeze. I sigh, watch the cloud of condensation tangle. A stale scream that is too tired to make sound, stumbles out of my oxidized vocal chords. I close my eyes and I’m back in the darkness of my bedroom:

I’m sitting on the floor, peeking through the inch wide gap between the door and the frame. Beneath the yelling I can hear the soft whistle of Hayley’s breath, muffled by the distressed blanket she’s pushed into her mouth. Her legs wrap around my hips, her cheek flat to my chest. Jacob sits beside me, fingering the cuff of his Scooby Doo pajamas. I smooth Hayley’s knotted hair with one hand and gently press Jacob’s head into my side with the other, trying to keep him from seeing our parents unravel. Though, maybe if I hadn’t, he would understand why Dad left. Lizzie hadn’t been born yet; I’m glad.

I thrust my palms against the rail and stumble backwards. My lower back hits the rail behind me, sending vibrations through my spine. My hair explodes around my head, detonated by a speeding car. I hear it stop. A voice reaches across the snow encrusted ground, calling for me to get in.

“I thought you were gonna jump!” He laughs and leans into the turn. “But that’s ridiculous; I should stop watching so much TV… So how’s life? We haven’t hung out since like… Middle School or somethin’.”

“Yeah it’s been a long time.”

“Hey… Are you going to the winter prom with anyone?” He’s holding his breath. The heated air trapped in the cab of his 2012 Mercedes is made thick with old memories of us as children playing together after school, and the phantom scent of plastic toys in the afternoon sun.

“No, I’m not going.”

“What? Why not? Do you not have a date?”

Tickets cost $75.

“No, I am away… on a spa trip with my mom… ‘cuz my dad is going away for business.”

“Oh… That’ll be fun… Yeah, I was just asking to like, see if you wanted to like, tag along… With me and my date… Y’know.”

“Hey, thanks for the ride, you can just drop me over there in front of that boutique.”

“Oh, uh, yeah! It’s getting dark though, I could just like, drive you home or somethin’.”

“Ahh… It’s okay, I just…”

“It’s pretty cold, why don’t you let me buy you a coffee or something. We can just talk, catch up, y’know?”

I glance at the dashboard, its 7:30. The complex will be hushed and dim. Mom will be lying limp in front of a Murray rerun. Hopefully, the kids will be asleep.

“Sure, that’d be nice.” I ease back into the leather seat. “It’s been a long time.”

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When the Crystal Garden Conservation Centre closed 10 years ago, Animal Care Supervisor John Creviston had a problem. Where to place the more than 300 animals, several of which were on the endangered species list? Read the rest of this entry »

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From its first issue in Feb 2011, Saanich Voice Online had a clear mandate: to provide residents of the Saanich Peninsula with an alternative source of local news and stories of interest written by local residents – Citizen Journalists (CJs). Read the rest of this entry »
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