B.C. Views Taxing times for B.C. government. p6
Policy sought to protect gay teens. p3
Heritage Old buildings, social media get heritage awards. p14
www.mapleridgenews.com Wednesday, February 29, 2012 · Serving Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows · est. 1978 · 604-467-1122 · 50¢
Teachers’ right to strike taken away by R o b e r t M a n g e l s d o r f staff reporter Teachers had their right to hold a legal walkout taken away Tuesday as the provincial government tabled legislation putting them back to work and ending their ongoing six-month job action. The provincial government introduced Bill 22 Tuesday afternoon. It suspends the teachers’ union strike action, while calling on a mediator to help the two sides reach a negotiated agreement. The legislation extends the previous teacher contract to cover the mediation period, with the goal of reaching a negotiated agreement by the beginning of summer. If there is no agreement, then the mediator will issue a report by June 30 with non-binding recommendations. See Teachers, p11
Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS
Drug bust RCMP officers seized 800 marijuana plants and were investigating after potentially hazardous materials found at a property in the 22500-block of 136th Avenue in north Maple Ridge on Tuesday. Police arrested three men. See story, p13.
Irving back behind bars The man who drove his pickup truck into a Maple Ridge sushi restaurant, killing two people and injuring six others, is back behind bars for another year, a B.C. Review Board decided Monday.
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closely the brain damage Irving suffered in a January 2008 fall and whether that affects his judgment. Lovett said there was a high likelihood of relapse and the January reading was the third instance of Irving drinking. Crown prosecutor Lyle Hillaby pointed out that Irving made it through the first year of conditional release because of tight supervision and family support. See Irving, p4
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alcohol limit for driving. He had not been driving at the time. Deborah Lovett, representing the hospital, asked for the yearlong sentence because of Irving’s alcohol dependence and his problems with withdrawal. Irving had no alcohol in his blood at the time he crashed into Halu Sushi at Westgate mall, but experts agreed he was suffering from delirium tremens, caused by alcohol withdrawal. The hospital is awaiting further tests to evaluate more
Opinion B.C. Views Letters Anti-bullying Arts&life Sports Classifieds
6 6 7 15 23 29 32
by Phil M elnyc h u k staff reporter
Brian Craig Irving, 55, had been found not criminally responsible for the August 2008 crash and initially was sent to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam. He was released in January 2009 under tight community supervision in Cranbrook, but against medical advice. But this January, in one of his regular blood samples that he was required to provide to the RCMP, his blood level read 0.4 – about five times the legal blood/
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Driver in Halu Sushi deaths started drinking again
MRSS hosted its annual Battle of the Bands competition on Thursday. See photos, p10
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www.mapleridgenews.com - THE NEWS -- Wednesday, February 29, 2012 -- 3
‘Fag’ is a four-letter word S tor y by Rober t Mangelsdor f
ndrew Van Baarsen cringes when he hears those hateful words so many gay teens dread. Sometimes they are directed at him, sometimes they are just part of the everyday conversations between students that ﬁll the halls of his school, and many others like it. In either case, the affect is the same. “Every day, you hear the word ‘fag’ tossed around, or ‘gay’,” Van Baarsen says. “People use these words, and they really don’t get the implications.” For many gay students, the ﬂippant and derogatory use of those words reinforces the belief that there is something wrong with being homosexual, he explains, and leaves them feeling ostracized and alone. Van Baarsen, a Grade 12 student at Thomas Haney secondary in Maple Ridge, came out as gay three years ago. He is one of a couple dozen students at Thomas Haney who make up the Fruit Salad Organization. The group is a place of refuge for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, as well as their “straight allies.” Today the group will be participating in Pink Shirt Day anti-bullying campaign and encouraging fellow students to stop using hateful language, and stop the bullying of gay teens. Bullying is a way of life for many gay teens, explains Fruit Salad member Nathan Knowles, as he found out ﬁrst hand. When one of his friends posted on Facebook about gay rights, Knowles commented to show his support. That sparked an angry tirade of abuse from an older relative of the friend. “Here’s this 47-year-old adult telling me that he hopes I get AIDS and calling me a fag,” said Knowles. “Why do I deserve to get some disease that would most likely kill me because I’m willing to stand
Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS
The Fruit Salad Organization is encouraging the school board to adopt a policy to help protect gay teens at local school schools; earlier this year the group collected signatures for its Lemon Pledge, for which students promised to be tolerant and accepting of all fellow students, regardless of sexuality or gender.
up for kids who don’t have a voice of their own?” The abuse many gay teens suffer is beyond mere bullying, says Knowles. “We’re talking about people getting picked on for who they are, for something they have no control over,” he says, likening it to racism. Unlike homosexuality, homophobia is a choice, Van Baarsen stresses. “No one is born homophobic,” he says. “Someone has taught them that. Someone has taught them to hate.” For many gay teens, grow-
ing up means pretending to be someone they aren’t. It means changing the way they talk and how they act and how they dress, so they don’t attract attention. It’s about survival, says Van Baarsen, and the abuse can come from all corners, including one’s own family. While Van Baarsen and Knowles’ parents were both supportive of them coming out as gay, many other teens in their position aren’t so lucky. Earlier this year, Van Baarsen was approached by
a Grade 9 student at another school who came out to him as gay, and asked him for his advice. “Given his situation, I told him it was safer for him to stay in the closet until he’s done school,” he says. “It sucks I have to tell someone that, but he was safer that way.” For some, the bullying can be so destructive, that it leads to suicide. Van Baarsen admits he had suicidal thoughts when he was younger and struggling to come to grips with his own sexuality. “You think there must be something wrong with you,” he says. And the bullying just reinforces that belief. According to the University of Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, close to a third of all lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth will contemplate or attempt suicide,
compared to just seven per cent of all Canadian youth. In all, close to 600 youth between age 10 and 24 die by suicide every year in Canada. “Kids are dying,” says Van Baarsen. “But some people just block that out.” Kathryn Ferguson is an English teacher at Thomas Haney, and founded the group last year. Ferguson said she watched one of her best friends get bullied mercilessly in high school for his perceived homosexuality, and wanted to offer gay teens at Thomas Haney a safe haven and a chance to advocate to make life better. “There’s safety in numbers,” she says. “Here they can be who they are and feel comfortable and safe. “These kids are incredibly brave, I’m super proud of them.” Earlier this school year, the
Fruit Salad Organization collected more than 200 signatures for its Lemon Pledge, where students at the school pledged to be tolerant and accepting of all their fellow students, regardless of sexuality or gender. This week, the Fruit Salad Organization, along with similar groups from Samuel Robertson Technical and Maple Ridge secondary schools, are encouraging Maple Ridge-Pitt MeadowsSchool District trustees to adopt a policy to help protect gay teens at local school schools. Knowles says that speciﬁc policies have already been adopted by more than 15 districts across the province. The Fruit Salad Organization is currently circulating a petition at the school supporting the proposed policy, and hope to bring hundreds of student signatures to the school board’s meeting Wednesday. “There’s more and more people standing up and saying they support us,” says Knowles. Van Baarsen, for one, says the group efforts have helped to improve the culture at the school by helping students realize gay teens are people too, and deserve respect. “It’s deﬁnitely better, especially with younger students,” he says. “Not so much in the community.” Fruit Salad member Leah Bedford says that for the bullying of gay teens to stop, everyone has to do their part. “If you see someone being bullied, stand up, do the right thing, and say, ‘Stop, this is wrong’,” Bedford says. Unfortunately, the stigma of being gay is so great, that it discourages many to intervene. “There’s a worry someone might question their sexual identity,” says Knowles. “And people don’t want to put the energy into dealing with the problem, that would mean they’d have to look at their own behaviour.” Ferguson hopes to see a day when the Fruit Salad Organization isn’t necessary, when the question of one’s sexual identity is irrelevant. “It takes a strong person to do what’s right, as opposed to what’s popular,” she says. “But our numbers are growing ... and that makes it a little more difﬁcult for bullies.”
Visit pinkshirtday.ca for more information about Pink Shirt Day. • For more anti-bullying stories, see pages 15-21.
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4 -- Wednesday, February 29, 2012 -- THE NEWS - www.mapleridgenews.com
Public Notice In accordance with a District of Maple Ridge Policy under Section 67 of the Community Charter, the District of Maple Ridge intends to return the following items to the ďŹ nders if unclaimed by 4:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 7, 2012: â€˘ Handheld gaming system â€˘ Womanâ€™s ring The rightful owners may claim these items by contacting the Clerkâ€™s Department and correctly describing the article to our satisfaction. Amanda Allen Legislative Clerk 11995 Haney Place Maple Ridge, B.C. V2X 6A9 Tel: 604-463-5221 local 5279 Dated the 29th day of February, 2012. 11995 Haney Place, Maple Ridge, BC V2X 6A9 Tel: 604-463-5221 â€˘ Fax: 604-467-7329
Irving did drive while intoxicated: case manager Irving from front But he said Irving has shown that he canâ€™t be relied upon to manage his risks, and he was â€œastonishedâ€? that Irvingâ€™s driverâ€™s licence has been reinstated. Irving said his brother gave him a truck, worth about $3,000. Hillaby wanted a prohibition against Irving on owning or operating a vehicle. But the custody order issued Monday by board chair Ann Pollak, only said Irving wasnâ€™t to drive a vehicle and not consume alcohol. Irving consented to the one-
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Builders Forum Date: Thursday March 8, 2012 Time: 5:00 pm â€“ 8:00 pm Place: Fraser Room, Maple Ridge Public Library 22470 Dewdney Trunk Road, Maple Ridge, BC The District of Maple Ridge Building Department is hosting a Builders Forum. All Maple Ridge area builders, contractors, designers and developers are invited to attend. Due to limited seating please register on or before 4:00 pm Friday March 2, 2012. Participation will be on a ďŹ rst come, ďŹ rst serve basis. We will discuss new Building and Electrical Codes, Solar ready, Rain screen products, the status of the Districtâ€™s new Zoning Bylaw and more. Your input and participation is appreciated. A light dinner and refreshments will be provided. Please register at the Building Department front counter, 11995 Haney Place, Maple Ridge, BC, OR telephone Jaci Diachuk at 604-467-7391, or e-mail email@example.com.
11995 Haney Place, Maple Ridge, BC V2X 6A9 Tel: 604-463-5221 â€˘ Fax: 604-467-7329
year term. Under the order, Irving could also have 28 days leave within that year, when he would be placed in a supportive living facility in order to see if he would be suitable for later placement in the community. While under that trial period, heâ€™d have to undergo daily testing for alcohol use. He could also get unsupervised access outside the hospital, depending on his risk assessment. Irving said he was â€œextremely sorryâ€? for what happened. â€œI know I have changed their lives.â€? But Hillaby said the victims remain devastated. Maija-Liisa Corbett, 19, and Hysehim Oh, 46, were killed in the Halu Sushi crash when Irvingâ€™s truck plowed through the restaurantâ€™s front window. Irving sat facing the Review Board panel, dressed in jeans, T-shirt and white running shoes with Velcro fasteners, ďŹ‚anked by his lawyer and caseworker. He said that when he drank in the past year, he â€œdecided to drink.â€? â€œI donâ€™t have cravings.â€? He said he doesnâ€™t drink in public, but in his own home. â€œI get bored. I get lonely. I donâ€™t know what to do with myself. I guess thatâ€™s my outlet.â€? He wanted to travel across Canada and said heâ€™s been working for 30 years. â€œSo itâ€™s time to see the world. â€œI just wish it would be over so I can get on with
life and just continue with life and be happy. Iâ€™m just sad now.â€? During the hearing, Irvingâ€™s psychiatrist in Cranbrook, Richard Magee, said a CT scan of Irvingâ€™s brain showed an injury the size of a quarter, adding that under Irvingâ€™s ďŹ rst year in the community he was closely supervised and had close family support. â€œThere was considerable surveillance on him. Under these conditions, we were able to maintain sobriety.â€? But once supervision relaxed in 2011 in the second year of his conditional discharge, â€œhe went back to it [booze] fairly easily and fairly readily.â€? The Review Board heard that Irving has since been kicked out of his brotherâ€™s house and both his brother and mother believe hospital is the best place for him. Under the Criminal Code, for someone considered not criminally responsible, a Review Board can order an absolute discharge, a conditional discharge or detention in a hospital. Hillaby pointed out the initial order wasnâ€™t for someone who was drinking and driving. â€œThis is a disposition of a guy who was trying not to drink.â€? Magee said Irving had two lapses in October and another at Christmas, when his supervisors knew he had a bottle of booze. As for the incident in early January, when Irving tested for a blood-alcohol level of 0.4, Magee called that
an â€œextreme level.â€? â€œThis fellow is essentially a lifelong alcoholic. I donâ€™t think thereâ€™s a whole lot of insight [about the implications of his drinking] here.â€? There is â€œan extraordinarily high likelihood of relapse at this point.â€? Magee, though, couldnâ€™t say whether Irvingâ€™s frontal lobe brain injury has reduced his impulse control. Irvingâ€™s treating psychiatrist at the hospital, Dr. LeeAnne Meldrum, said his brain injury could affect his impulse control and that Irving was showing some symptoms of frontal lobe damage. Test results for which the hospital is waiting should conďŹ rm that heâ€™d need a high level of supervision, she said. She also pointed out that a blood-alcohol reading of 0.25 could require medical treatment in many people. Irving also told her last month that he wanted to get his driverâ€™s licence back, return to his apartment and travel across Canada. But Irving would require drugs to ensure he didnâ€™t go into withdrawal because of abstaining from alcohol, she pointed out. Hillaby said Irving was motivated by contrition in the ďŹ rst year of conditional discharge, but now â€œhe wants to see the world. â€œThis seems like a markedly different attitude from before.â€? His caseworker at the hospital also said recently he hasnâ€™t shown â€œa lot
of empathy towards the victims. â€œItâ€™s more focused on how his life has been affected.â€? Irving also said heâ€™d like to continue with his Alcohol Anonymous program. â€œThey understand whatâ€™s going on with my life and they can relate.â€? He said heâ€™d be interested in living in the community in a place where he can get help and â€œtry to solve this problem that I have.â€? Irvingâ€™s father died last year and Irving had permission to drive to the Lower Mainland for his funeral. His case manager said via teleconference that Irving had been drinking while driving at that time, although Irving has said he wasnâ€™t intoxicated. His licence later was revoked for a second time. While in the Lower Mainland, he also saw his children. â€œThat was quite an ordeal actually,â€? Irving said. He added that alcoholism is not an easy problem to solve and said earlier heâ€™ll do whatever he has to solve his drinking problem. â€œI donâ€™t know whether I would go out there and drive again. I have no idea. I hope I never will drink again.â€? He thinks about the crash at Halu Sushi every day, but said if he dwells on it, he gets depressed. â€œYou donâ€™t sound very conďŹ dent about your ability to stay away from alcohol,â€? replied Review Board member Kim Polowek.
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www.mapleridgenews.com - THE NEWS -- Wednesday, February 29, 2012 -- 5
Second candidate steps forward for local NDP Korleen Carreras works for BCGEU, on arts council by Phil M elnyc h u k staff reporter It’s going to be a contest in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows about who represents the NDP next election. Korleen Carreras said Thursday she’ll be trying for the nomination, against Elizabeth Rosenau. Carreras is the former owner and artistic director of the Port Moody School of Dance and currently works at the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union. She currently sits on the board of the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Arts Council and is a member of the Pitt Meadows Community Association. She lives in Pitt Meadows with her husband Diego and two sons, Mateo, age 11, and Emilio, age 6. She says she wants restore “integrity and fairness in the legislature and ultimately we need to elect a NDP government to accomplish that,” she said in a release. Constituency association president Craig Speirs is glad the nomination will be contested, saying both would make good candidates and will give the party an even chance to hold the riding in the spring 2013 provincial election, after current MLA Michael Sather steps down.
NDP policy requires that candidates who follow a MLA’s resignation must be female, a member of a visible minority or lesbiangay-bisexual or transgendered. However, nomination dates have yet to be set. Those could take place either this spring or fall, said Speirs. He pointed out that if Terry Carreras Becker has to contest the Liberal nomination with Maple Ridge Coun. Michael Morden, there could be two nomination contests before the election. Morden has yet to make his decision on whether to pursue that.
“Korleen has a diverse background as a business owner, community activist, and as a trade unionist.” “Either of them would be good candidates from the right and we’d have a good tilt here,” Speirs said. “Korleen has a diverse background as a business owner, community activist, and as a trade unionist,” said Pitt Meadows Coun. Bruce Bell, a longtime New Democrat.
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6 -- Wednesday, February 29, 2012 -- THE NEWS - www.mapleridgenews.com
THE NEWS/opinion News Views
Bullying hurts Today is Pink Shirt Day in B.C. and other parts of Canada, an annual anti-bullying event that raises awareness of the need for action against bullying. The message of this event is that bullying hurts. It isn’t just a rite of passage and it doesn’t have to happen. According to www.bullyingcanada.ca, as many as 25 per cent of children in Grades 4-6 have been bullied and approximately one in 10 children have bullied others. A 2004 study published in the Medical Journal of Pediatrics found that about one in seven Canadian children aged 11 to 16 are victims of bullying. It is important to recognize what bullying is and that it happens in many forms – verbally, socially, physically and one (cyber bullying). Wearing pink on Pink Shirt Day shows people are making the commitment to not let bullying happen. B.C. has seen its share of bullying tragedy. Fourteen-year-old Hamed Nastoh of Surrey jumped off the Patullo Bridge and killed himself leaving a note behind blaming constant bullying he endured at school. Another 14-yearold , Dawn-Marie Wesley of Mission, committed suicide by hanging herself after relentless bullying. The province has taken steps to address bullying in recent years, including a Ministry of Education resource brochure for parents in 14 languages that can be found online at www.bced. gov.bc.ca/sco. Key elements of preventing bullying include fostering self-esteem, social engagement, academic success, inclusion, acceptance, respect for self and others and connection to community. Let’s see what we can do to eradicate this problem. – Black Press Tell us what you think @ www.mapleridgenews.com
THE NEWS Serving Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows since 1978 Jim Coulter, publisher email@example.com Michael Hall, editor firstname.lastname@example.org Carly Ferguson, advertising, creative services manager email@example.com Brian Yip, circulation manager firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Reporters: Phil Melnychuk, Monisha Martins, Robert Mangelsdorf, Colleen Flanagan Advertising Sales representatives: Karen Derosia, Michelle Baniulis, Jaime Kemmis, Marshall Mackinder, Ad control: Mel Onodi Creative services: Kristine Pierlot, Annette WaterBeek, Chris Hussey, Brian Holt Classified: Vicki Milne 22328 – 119th Avenue, Maple Ridge, B.C., V2X 2Z3 Office: 604-467-1122 Delivery: 604-466-6397 Website: mapleridgenews.com Email: email@example.com The News is a member of the British Columbia Press Council, a selfregulatory body governing the province's newspaper industry. The council considers complaints from the public about the conduct of member newspapers. Directors oversee the mediation of complaints, with input from both the newspaper and the complaint holder. If talking with the editor or publisher does not resolve your complaint about coverage or story treatment, you may contact the B.C. Press Council. Your written concern, with documentation, should be sent to B.C. Press Council, 201 Selby St., Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 2R2. For information, phone 888-687-2213 or go to www.bcpresscouncil.org. CCAB audited circulation: (as of September 2011): Wednesday - 30,744; Friday – 30,745.
Published and printed by Black Press at 22328 – 119th Avenue, Maple Ridge, B.C., V2X 2Z3
Taxing times for B.C. government VICTORIA – Before this week’s budget debate is drowned out by the shouting over the teachers’ dispute, here’s a look at the main points and the arguments unfolding around them. The setting for Finance Minister Kevin Falcon’s ﬁrst budget B.C. Views is what he dreaded when Premier Christy Tom Fletcher Clark handed him the job. Recovery is painfully slow, with mining and petroleum growing and forest products struggling to hold and build on gains made in Asia. This and the $3 billion dismantling of the harmonized sales tax moved Falcon to limit overall spending growth to an average of two per cent for the next three years. That means little or no increase to all areas except health care, education and social assistance. Despite holding the line on public service pay and not replacing 2,000 positions over the next three years, Clark and Falcon had to postpone the elimination of the 2.5-per-cent small business income tax to get to a balanced budget by 2013. And Falcon has again dangled the prospect of raising general corporate income tax from 10 to 11 per cent, but not until 2014. Business experts applauded the hard line on spending, noting the contrast with Alberta’s big spending and Ontario’s big spending hangover. NDP ﬁnance critic Bruce Ralston says
Falcon’s two-per-cent spending target is “unrealistic,” and the whole program is motivated mostly by two by-elections this year and a general election next year. He said the proposal to raise general business taxes is a repeat of his effort to save the HST, and it won’t happen if the B.C. Liberals win in 2013. B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins made the bizarre claim that it’s an NDP-style “tax and spend” budget, and inaccurately accused Falcon of raising taxes on small business. He also joined the NDP chorus of outrage over ICBC, B.C. Hydro and medical premium increases. Some other hot topics in the budget: • Selling assets. The big one here is B.C.’s liquor wholesaling monopoly, run out of warehouses in Kamloops and Vancouver. Falcon insists the private sector does this kind of work more efﬁciently, and union contracts will be protected in a bidding process. The NDP argues that selling off a monopoly puts this government cash cow at risk, and points to private retail stores with higher prices and lower wages. The proposed sale of 100 surplus Crown properties has raised cries of “selling the silverware to buy groceries.” But land sales are nothing new for governments, and Falcon prefers that to raising taxes. • Carbon tax. The last scheduled increase goes ahead in July, adding another penny on a litre of gasoline, followed by a freeze and review of the whole climate program. Ralston says the climate plan is “in tatters,” along with dozens of other policy areas that are also under review after 11 years of B.C.
Liberal rule. NDP leader Adrian Dix vows to keep the carbon tax and its offsetting personal income tax cuts, direct carbon tax revenues to transit and rural energy-saving retroﬁts, and hike the general corporate tax rate from 10 to 12 per cent to pay for it. • HST. Asked what he would have done as ﬁnance minister, Ralston suggested getting rid of the HST sooner. Dix continues to misrepresent the HST as solely a transfer to big business, ignoring the small and medium-sized businesses that have a year left to take advantage of input tax credits.
Dix continues to misrepresent the HST as solely a transfer to big business, ignoring the small and medium-sized businesses that have a year left to take advantage of input tax credits. Simon Fraser University economist Jon Kesselman has estimated that poor people will be worse off when the HST ends, while the rest of us will see a very small net beneﬁt.
This week’s question: Is enough being done to prevent bullying in schools? @ Online poll: cast your vote at www.mapleridgenews.com, or e-mail your vote and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com (tﬂetcher@blackpress.ca).
www.mapleridgenews.com - THE NEWS -- Wednesday, February 29, 2012 -- 7
THE NEWS/letters online comments • Sarah Little: Re: Pedestrian killed by truck in Maple Ridge (mapleridgenews.com). Every commuter that uses this ‘back route’ knows how desperate this roadway is for improvements. This is the second person to be killed by a vehicle on this back road in the past six months. The road isn’t wide enough for pedestrians, cyclists and horses. All drivers commuting on this road need to remember that the speed limit is 50 [km/h], not 80. How many more people are going to die on this road before someone in a position to do something, does something? Let’s put some of those ideas that have been pushed around on paper for years into road improvements. How’s that for local job creation? • Erika De Groot · Controller at Western K9 Security Services: Re: Pedestrian killed by truck in Maple Ridge (mapleridgenews.com). Terrible news for all Maple Ridge residents. That is a really bad area for any pedestrians and cyclists, too. Maybe the [municipality] will finally do something about this. RIP to this man and sending well wishes to his friends and family.
‘Cut back on spending’ EDITOR, THE NEWS:
I’ve had it with the rising costs of everything. Groceries are up, municipal taxes are up, Hydro is going up, gasoline is going up – thanks to not only oil prices, but TransLink taking another tax on our ﬁllups. When is TransLink going to stop emptying seniors’ pockets? TransLink wants to pay $70 million for a gondola up to SFU. Give me a break. If you can’t afford it, don’t build it.
Do the math on what TransLink is already getting from municipal taxes. I’m all for having an outside audit on TransLink’s books. Our mayor and council don’t seem to have the nerve to stand up to TransLink and say enough is enough. Our mayor also seems to think a raise in municipal taxes is doable for seniors on ﬁxed incomes. I say, cut back on what isn’t necessary. JOAN BEYER MAPLE RIDGE
Time for truths about teachers EDITOR, THE NEWS:
I ﬁnd it hard to believe that the public would buy into the disrespectful teacher bashing by our government. It tells stories about the lack of government report cards and meetings being so harmful to our students. It’s time for some truths. My 220 parents are better informed than they were with report cards. Through email, my parents are guided to student planners that contain the marks for every assignment for every course they are taking (unlike government report cards). The parents sign the planner to show they are aware exactly where their child is. They know what the expectations are and whether their child is on track, behind or ahead. All grade 12 marks have been posted for scholarship and post secondary needs. Meetings are still happening, Teachers meet collaboratively with each other, as well as with other support staff.
Meeting with parents has never stopped. Teachers have been in touch with many parents by phone, email and in person since September. As for doing my job, I still prepare lessons, teach, assess (two hours every night), contact parents and meet colleagues to work out plans for struggling students. My students have not suffered because of job action. As for my classes, the government lack of proper funding is hurting kids. My grade 8s are 30 to a class with special needs and international students who barely speak English. My communication 11 and 12 classes are made up of many international, SPED and teens at risk. There is no time to give each one the attention they need, so it is watered down trying to give each one their share. The international students are not kids to the boards or the government; they are big dollar bills. These kids come to a strange country,
living with strangers, cannot speak the language and have no friends. These kids arrive with the same issues (learning, emotional, social) that our kids have, but because they are not funded by the government, they do not qualify for the resources our kids get. I have several stories that would break your heart, but nobody seems to care except the home-stay parents and school staffs. Boards are forced to become businesses because of underfunding. There are many teachers changing professions or leaving the province because there is little to keep them here. They come out of university with huge debts. They can only look forward to being in a dead-end job. They have to ﬁght for respect. I have 10 years of university training and 25 years experience. Yet, I am being told how to do my job by non-educators. There has never been a negotiated contract since go-
‘You are supposed to be stewards’ EDITOR, THE NEWS:
Re: People don’t sell their cars, homes to pay bills (Letters, Feb. 24). I can relate to that with the position that we, tenants of the Legion Towers, have been put in. You mentioned that people
don’t sell their houses to pay the bills and that is exactly what is happening with the Legion and the Towers. Sell it to make repairs to other properties and be left with a surplus of $8 millions. If you substitute province for Legion,
ing to provincial bargaining in the mid ’90s. Millions and millions of dollars have been spent on an organization (BCPSEA) that has never met its purpose. Because of this, I make less and less money every year and my beneﬁts have not been improved in 20 years. I pay my premiums faithfully year after year, but get turned down for every new medication or treatment that is new since then, which included life-saving drugs I needed when I got breast cancer. Is this my reward for years of university education and service to thousands of families during my career? We are at a disadvantage because we work with children. We care about our students and have tried to make a statement about government abuse without hurting them. What choices do we have? NINA FOWELL B.A M.ED, TEACHER THOMAS HANEY SECONDARY
you are supposed to be stewards of the Legion, not the destroyers. Somewhere along the line something has gone amiss from being one of the richest Legions in the Dominion to being cash-strapped. Before the vote takes place, there should be a meeting for a vote of non-conﬁdence with regard to our present executive. BOB KERFOOT MAPLE RIDGE
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8 -- Wednesday, February 29, 2012 -- THE NEWS - www.mapleridgenews.com
HEART BEATS RCMP investigate the death of a man hit while crossing 128th Avenue at Laity Street in a crosswalk Friday morning.