The news you need. The fun you want.
Ski pros at home in the Peace By Bruce Lantz Marit Rjabov can be found most days smiling behind the counter of Fort St. John’s Whole Wheat & Honey Café, while boyfriend John Parry makes the rounds in the PeaceCariboo-Northern Alberta region, selling for his father’s salon supply distribution company. They’ve been here since September. Pretty normal, right? But what many don’t know is that they each have careers as worldclass cross-country skiers behind them. Both started early, at 3-4 years old - Marit in her native Estonia (a former Russian state) and John in Whitehorse. They met at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks where both were attending on skiing athletic scholarships. But the road to Fairbanks was different for each of them. “My Dad was a skier in the
Contributed photo Marit Rjabov, left, and John Parry, world-class cross-country skiers who now call the Peace their home, on vacation in Estonia last summer. USSR and skiing was so big in the pared to, say, Fort St. John, with 70s and 80s I never considered other average winter temperatures being sports,” said Marit, who was on the minus 5-7C. “That’s good weather Estonian national junior team for for kids to be out in and skiing was a five years before college. She said really nice sport for them.” Continued on Page 3. the weather in Estonia is mild com-
Denny Morrison excels at Olympics Fort St. John and, indeed, the whole Peace region are basking in the reflected glow of local speed skater Denny Morrison’s two medals gained at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Morrison, who hails from Fort St. John, won silver in the 1,000-metre race, his first individual Olympic medal, and bronze in the 1,500-metres. His team placed fourth in the team pursuit after capturing the gold in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Contributed photo After falling in the Fort St. John speed skater Denny Morrison national qualification
event, Morrison got to race in the 1,000-metres when teammate Gilmore Junio gave up his pace in the even because he thought Morrison had a better chance at medaling. He then captured bronze in the 1,500-metres. Morrison is now Canada’s most successful male long track speed skater. With four total Olympic medals, he shares the record for the most medals of any Canadian male long track speed skaters with Gaétan Boucher. He held the world record time of 1:42.01 from March 14, 2008 to March 6, 2009 in the 1,500-metres. He has also won nine medals at the World Championships: two gold, four silver, and three bronze.
A narrow vision
Fort St. John and Dawson Creek are in enviable positions. Our politicians and developers are making much of the region’s strong economy and bright prospects. But they are missing a key point: Where will people live? For many years our political leaders have touted the need to offer amenities that will encourage our seniors to live here after their work years are done, instead of retiring to warmer climes. For years we have encouraged people to move here from all around Canada and, indeed, the world. And for those fortunate enough to be young, strong and working in the oilpatch, the streets can be seen that way. But who’s looking after the others? Who is working to create affordable housing for those who don’t happen to work in the oilpatch, those working in retail stores, as office clerks, in the hospitality industry, etc. for $12-$14 an hour? Who is working for affordable housing for seniors who, perhaps, didn’t make millions when they sold the farms they could no longer operate but want to move to a small house or apartment in town? This isn’t glamorous stuff. Developers would much prefer to build high-end properties bringing the best return on their investment dollars. Thus we have half-duplexes selling for $464,000 and apartment rents that start above $1000 a month. And politicians who would rather travel around touting our wonderful economy as if it was somehow their doing, than ensuring we have affordable housing for those who need it. They perhaps have forgotten that they were elected to represent all the people, not just the high-income earners. It is fine to enjoy the benefits of a strong economy. But a truly strong society is one that has a place for
everyone. If the current scenario continues unabated, then we will soon be a society of the haves and the have-nots. Consider the likely outcome: As the cost of living rises, workers in every business need and demand higher wages. But many businesses in the retail sector cannot pay those wages; they don’t have the kind of profit margins that allow it. So, inevitably, those small businesses are forced to close. As more of them do, the downtowns start to resemble ghost towns, with far too many empty storefronts once occupied by thriving businesses that added both character and shopping convenience to our communities. Then even more shoppers will cross the border to Alberta, and our retail communities will shrink. An offshoot of this will even affect the oilpatch; after years of convincing employees it made sense to come here because we had lots to offer, recruitment of families – as opposed to bringing men in to live in camps – may become a problem. Welcome back to the days of fly-in, fly-out. This doesn’t have to be our future. There are affordable housing initiatives available. For example, what if a municipality took a few parcels of empty land . . . land we’ve been sitting on for years in some cases . . . and offered it free to developers who agreed to build affordable apartment complexes? There are also favourable financing programs available through BC Housing. And there are likely more options available if only our municipal and even provincial governments would look for them instead of focusing only on those sexy economic projects. Is anyone pursuing these? Apparently not. Will we suffer as communities because of it? Without a doubt. - Bruce Lantz
2014 promises to be a very busy year By Mike Bernier 2014 is definitely ramping up to be a very busy year in the South Peace and the entire province. I was pleased join the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure for the announcement of the change to the maintenance classification for Highways 16 and 97 in northern BC to a Class A level. These highways are critical corridors supporting natural gas development and other industrial growth in the North. Currently Highway 97 North has a classification level of B for the portion between Prince George and Chetwynd. After the change, the entire northern section of Highway 97 from Cache Creek to the end of provincial jurisdiction for the highway north of Fort St. John, will be Class A. These changes represent a significant increase in the maintenance commitment for both highways and will result in more frequent patrols, quicker response times, and more plowing, snow removal, and salt and sand applications. The changes were expected to be in effect by mid-to-late February. I recently attended the Premier’s BC Natural Resource Forum in Prince George with Premier Clark and my caucus colleagues. It was a very informative and well attended conference with presentations by leading experts from First Nations communities, Governments, the oil and gas, forestry, minerals and mining, natural gas sectors and service and supply sectors. This forum was a great reminder of the importance of our resource sector to British Columbia’s economic future. I was honoured to be asked to chair one of the sessions during the forum around the natural gas sector as well. Here is our chance to recognize the great people of the South Peace. Nominations for the province’s highest recognition of excellence and lifetime achievement - the Order of British Columbia for 2014 - are being accepted until the first Friday in March. Any person or group is welcome to nominate a deserving
Mike Bernier individual as candidate for appointment to the Order of British Columbia. Request a nomination form by email at orderofbc@gov. bc.ca (250 387-1616), or submit online at: www.orderofbc.gov.bc.ca/ nominations. On Thursday, Feb. 6 I hosted a ‘Meet your MLA’ event at my secondary constituency office in Chetwynd. This type of event is something I hope to do on a fairly regular basis in Chetwynd, Dawson Creek and Tumbler Ridge. Watch for dates to be advertised on my Facebook page for future dates. If you do not wish to wait for one of these dates you can always contact my Dawson Creek constituency office to arrange a meeting with me. Finally, we are holding our 2014 Spring Session from February until the end of May so, while I will be in Victoria a great deal during that time, I am going to make sure I am available for constituents via telephone, email or Facebook, and I am hoping to be in the riding most Fridays and Saturdays. Please be sure to contact Cindy at the office (250-782-3430) to arrange a time if you would like to meet with me or have me attend any function. Thanks again for the opportunity to represent you. Mike Bernier is the MLA for Peace River South.
Contributed Photo MLA Mike Bernier addresses the Premier’s BC Natural Resource forum.
Still skiing for fun Continued from Page 1 “I chose skiing over hockey,” said John, acknowledging that was a little unusual in North America where hockey rules in winter. “It was just a social thing at the start and I didn’t get really competitive until I was 16 or 17.” But once in, they excelled. In college, both raced at the professional level in NCAA competitions, with Marit favouring sprints while John was better at the middle distances of 10-15 kilometres. “When you’re in good shape it doesn’t matter if it’s classic (style) or skate, short or long,” said Marit. They had success in the NCAA, with Marit winning two races and John one in the Central Division. Then they competed on the pro circuit for two years after leaving college and the Contributed photo NCAAs. Marit Rjabov wins her last college They retired from competition race, a sprint, in 2013 in Michigan. last Spring. “If you want to be comShe made her move early in the petitive you need to do it year race and held it over the entire 1.6 round,” John said, “practicing twice km course. a day even in summer. You can’t
work. If you have a job your training will just be half-assed. You should make the commitment if you’re going to do it at all.” Now, John said, they ski for fun, although they still want to join ‘fun’ races. “You get addicted to the feeling.” Both are members of the local Whiskey Jack Nordic Ski Club and want to give back by coaching. “It’s important,” said John, “to give people the sense that skiing is cool. It’s not just a geeky sport you do in a field. For me it was cool to see guys and girls from Europe where it’s a mainstream sport.” Whitehorse has 1,200 members in the local ski club and a network of trails of all lengths even within city limits. Marit and John would like to see that in their new home: groomed, lighted trails – 1-5 kilometres is plenty long – in the community so people can easily ski after work and take their families out for a turn. “It can be a social activity, too,” said John.
Contributed photo John Parry skis to victory in regional competition. While he and his partner no longer ski competitively, they want to improve cross-country skiing opportunities in this area.
Grant Abbott photo David Greer photo Contributed photo John Parry racing in the 2012 World Cup in Marit and John summer skiing in the Marit pulls away on the uphill in the A final to Yukon. win a sprint skate in 2011. Canmore, AB. WATT’S HAPPENING
POWER SHIFT: Snapshots from around the world By Don Pettit The biggest, most dramatic and fastest power shift in human history is happening right now. It’s just amazing how little we hear about it in mainstream media. Today I’ll do my part in correcting that oversight. We’ll travel the world and take a few snapshots of what’s REALLY happening out there. It’s amazing. First a quick note: Peace Energy Co-operative, based in Dawson Creek, is looking for a renewable energy (RE) equipment sales person. The Co-op has moved into RE sales for home, farm, ranch, and business, but demand has far outstripped its ability to cope. For the right person, this will be a golden opportunity to move into the rapidly expanding
retail market for renewable energy in the Peace Region. Call the Peace Energy Co-op office at 250-7823882 to find out more! SOLAR COSTS PLUMMET The cost per watt of solar cells in Canada dropped 24 per cent in 2012, and by an astonishing 90 per cent since 2000. (I recently ran across an old invoice for a solar panel I bought for my home system in 1989. The 80-watt panel cost $800. Today, the same panel, with higher quality and a better guarantee, costs about $100 – an 800 per cent drop!) Thanks to efficiency innovations and low-cost mass production in Asia, the International Energy Association predicts that solar will reach cost parity with traditional power sources within five years. Wind power has already reached cost parity with an energy source that used to be the cheapest, coal. CHINA GOES RENEWABLE China, already a world leader in renewables, is planning to more than double its wind capacity in the next six years, from the current installed Contributed photo 75,000 megawatts to an astounding As solar power reaches cost parity 200,000 megawatts by 2020! That’s with conventional energy over the the equivalent of 125 Site C dams in next five years, lots of workers will six years! This is the biggest be kept busy installing solar renewables push in history. Why? panels. Here, a solar roof is being It’s cheap to mass produce, its fast to installed in Dawson Creek. install, and its very, very clean.
HALTING CLIMATE CHANGE Recent studies suggest that in order to limit global warming to two degrees and avoid the worst effects of climate change, the world needs to invest about $1 trillion dollars per year for the next 36 years in renewable energy. Currently, the world pays about $6 trillion dollars per year to burn fossil fuels. Which is the better deal? SOLAR BREAKS ALL RECORDS Deutsche Bank predicts that the global solar industry will bring online 46,000 megawatts of solar in 2014, followed by another 56,000 megawatts in 2015. Wow. LNG SHOULD GO GREEN A recent Tides Canada report proposes that the BC provincial government direct LNG (liquefied natural gas) producers to power their planned facilities with clean energy instead of fossil fuels. This would generate 400 more permanent jobs, cut pollution by a third (the same as removing one million cars from the road), leave a lasting RE legacy along the coast that will endure long after the gas is gone, and would not reduce but improve the gas sector’s competitiveness. Anybody listening? FRANCE PRICES CARBON In its 2014 budget, France revealed that it will tax carbon at an
initial rate of CAD$10 per tonne. This will raise about $500 million per year, which France will plow directly back into its transition to renewables. COAL – GOING, GOING, GONE An Edmonton Journal op-ed by a Calgary ER doctor, an Edmonton physician and the head of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment urged Alberta to phase out coal power as quickly as possible. Under Ontario’s new Green Energy Act, their last coalfired plant, and the continent’s largest, will be closed down before the end of this year. IT’S HAPPENING We started our energy history with renewables: think human power, animal power, water wheels and Dutch windmills. The next big transition was to coal, spawning the industrial revolution. Then came oil and gas and another revolution in technology that brought us to the world of today. Now we are coming full circle back to renewables, but light years ahead in sophistication, power and reliability. Don’t be fooled by lack of media attention. This grand power shift is happening, its happening right now, and like all the other energy revolutions, it will change everything.
Bruce Lantz photo Caitlin Royendyk shows her opposition to bullying by wearing her pink Bruce Lantz photo anti-bullying shirt to work at Whole Wheat & Honey in Fort St. John Stephen Ferris of Fort St. John has completed his first show, titled The Feb. 26 on National Anti-Bullying Day. Maze, at the North Peace Art Gallery. His mixed media art are of “psychic landscapes” that evolve as he creates them, an organic art form he calls “spontaneous controlled chaos”. This surely won’t be his last showing.
Bruce Lantz photo Entrepreneur at work: Russell Eggleston is deep in his laptop computer, working on his new wedding services website, TownWeddings.ca and his site for Fort St. John event listings, TownWall.ca. Contributed photo South Peace MLA Mike Bernier met recently with Tara Mayoros, Tammy Schmidt, Erin Oliver, members of the local KidSport Chapter, to present them with a $1,000 provincial government grant from ViaSport. These funds continue to help with registration fees for local children to join organized sports and clubs.
Contributed photo Pembina Pipeline supports United Way Northern BC by raising funds through their annual workplace campaign. Above, Avi Sinclair and Duane Jaschke present a cheque to Niki Hedges, United Way Northern BC Campaign and Community Development Officer. “I am fortunate to have the kinds of people who are community minded citizens and working with employers and workplace volunteers such as Pembina Pipeline in Fort St John each year,” said Hedges. “United Way invites people to donate to United Way to help advance the common good and create opportunities for a better life for all.” Pembina is a strong supBruce Lantz photo porter of United Way throughout all their operating communities, Things are livening up at Remedies Lounge in Fort St. John’s allowing Pembina to assist as many organizations as possible because of Northwoods Inn with jam sessions every Saturday from 4-8 pm. Hosted United Way’s reach into the communities. Each year, Pembina matches, by Gidd Hampton, right, the sessions attract musicians like, from left, dollar-for-dollar, the funds donated to United Way by their employees and contractors. Naomi Shore, Bettyanne Hampton, Lindsay Pratt and Joe Rocca.
Discussion focuses on making things better By Lori Slater On Thursday, Feb. 20 I attended the Disability White Paper Consultation for People with Disabilities. The consultation is a provincial government initiative that has visited communities all across British Columbia. They (the government) want to hear from the communities about concerns that surround people with disabilities. Whether living independently, looking to go to work, mastering life skills or improving quality of life people with disabilities are living independent, full lives – but there is more that can be done to reduce barriers and increase accessibility. There were six themed areas for discussion that include Innovation, Personal Supports, Work and Contribution, Housing and Accessibility, Social Networks and Asset Accumulation. Questions that we were asked to consider were: Why do you think it’s important to reduce barriers and increase accessibility; what can we do to welcome the contributions of people with disabilities, and what barriers can we remove; what would make it easier for people with disabilities to make contributions to the community and what needs to be in place; what would it look like if we want to be the most progressive place in BC and Canada for people and families living with disabilities. Our comments and ideas will inform the development of the White Paper – a document that will reflect the voice of British Columbians. This White Paper will form the foundation of a summit to be held in June
Lori Slater 2014. It was a great opportunity to meet with people living with disabilities, family members, employers, people from other like agencies and more. I found out so much more about resources we have in our community. I am excited about the idea to partner with some of them to bring new ideas and resources to our community for people with disabilities. If you would like to get involved you still can until March 11. Go to engage.gov.bc.ca/disabilitywhitepaper/ and join the conversation. If you would like a copy of the Conversation Toolkit please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can submit your feedback by, email, mail or phone. This is a great opportunity to be heard. I encourage you to get involved. Lori Slater is an Accessibility and Inclusion Advocate in Fort St. John.
The Shelter in FSJ seeking a new home to continue its work
By Bruce Lantz A Christian group that has served the needy in Fort St. John for 14 years is seeking a new home. – and increased awareness of its work. After leaving their former church, a group that came to be known as The Shelter began meeting in 1996 at the former Elk’s Hall in 110 Avenue, where they assisted the Alpha and Omega Teen Society with a vision to reach out to the city’s youth. At the request of the City of Fort St. John, the teen society, using all volunteer help, operated the city’s first homeless shelter in the basement of the old Elks building until April 1997. “Our primary purpose was to see the Kingdom of God established in Fort St. John, just as Jesus had taught his disciples in the Lord’s Prayer – through worship, prayer, the testimony of Jesus and serving the community,” said Shelter spokesman Dan McInerney. In the summer of 1998 the Shelter moved to the basement of the old Westside Pool Hall on 101 Avenue, growing their congregation to about 50 people and in early 1999 they began serving a free breakfast Sundays from 8-9:30 a.m. to street people and others – up to 100 people each week. They have supported local ministries such as the SCARS Freedom House, the North Peace Pregnancy Care Centre, Peace Country Renewal Ministries, CIAM Radio and outreach to area First Nations commu-
It’s a wonderful life! Focus on ‘Noticing’ . . . not Nothing By Sue Stark What’s New? What have you been doing? Familiar questions for sure, but the question I want to ask is, have you ever answered any of those questions with – “Nothing”. Nothing. Really? Do we say “nothing” just because we don›t want to say how little we have been doing, or we don’t have anything exciting to say, or are we just saying nothing because we really haven’t noticed what we have been doing? If you really think about it, we could - if we wanted to - see things for the first time every day, and for me, when we say “nothing new”,
then we must be doing something old - or something again - the same thing, maybe living in the past. “Nothing” actually says a lot. It is one of those words that doesn’t just fill the gap of conversation. I believe it can cut off the flow, of creativity (and much more) just as saying “I don›t know” can. Now, the reason for me for saying all of this to you is not to get you to list the thousands of things you could say instead of “nothing”. It is only to notice that you say “nothing” and probably do not mean it. There may be nothing bothering you - nothing worrying you - nothing wrong - but how about noticing . . . something. Notice that it isn’t
nothing wrong but something right that is making you smile, or that there is someone or something to appreciate. When we take our focus off nothing we can start to notice the wonder of this something we call our wonderful life. Because it’s never nothing that is right in the sense that has us feeling good. It is something. Notice it, do it more, notice the people around you, tell them you notice them and how grateful you are. Nothing? No . . . it is never nothing. Hoping you Notice . . . this Wonderful week. Love Sue xO Sue Stark is the owner of Sue Stark Consulting.
nities. In addition, they send support to the Arctic, Quebec and around the world to countries such as Colombia, Cuba, Pakistan, Jordan, Australia, Haiti, Nicaragua, Israel and several Eastern European countries. Overall, 60 per cent of their budget is spent on mission support, and for most of the last 16 1/2 years all members have served on a volunteer basis. But now they have had to leave that facility, for a temporary home in the Northeast Native Advancing Society quarters across from the old Co-op Mall. And while they appreciate that opportunity, they’re seeking a more permanent facility of 2,0003,000 square feet in size where they can continue their work. McInerney said they aren’t asking for money necessarily but they want to continue their work, which has seen God change the lives of many street people, and they need community support. He did say that, as a registered non-profit, they can offer tax receipts. “Our vision is to see the very character of Fort St. John changed from being a place where drugs, alcohol and crime are rampant to a safe place where individuals and families can live with hope and a future where God is honoured,” said McInerney. “We believe Fort St. John is a strategic city with a history of being the oldest white settlement in mainland BC and that it can be a model of cooperation between cultures, with all benefiting and enjoying the blessings of this great Peace River region.” For more information or to help, contact Oral Benterud at 250-7859151(h) or 250-263-7506(c).
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Rural resident takes mayor to task This letter to Chetwynd Mayor Merlin Nichols was provided for publication. Mr. Nichols: After reading your mayor’s report in the Chetwynd Echo Feb. 12, I realized I had to respond to remarks which I feel are sarcastic and very demeaning to farmers and rural people. When you pull your chair up to the table for breakfast in the morning where do you think the bacon, eggs, milk, potatoes, toast, etc. come from? They come from the same place as the taxes that you talk about for some of your infrastructure; the rural people help through Fair Share money and taxes. Your water supply is from the rural area and you flush your toilets onto rural land. Taking just a few things I mentioned into consideration, we sure as hell don’t need your sarcasm dumped on us as well. Having said this, don’t ever think the 1996/2011 Bylaw is a dead issue. This bylaw you took part in was not asked for, you didn’t follow the Local Government Act. You didn’t follow your procedural bylaw, you didn’t listen to your constituents.
Let’s hope for your sake and the sake of everyone else on the (Peace River Regional District) board that we don’t retain a lawyer to show you how wrong and illegal this is. I recommend you don’t get too high and mighty. It was taxpayers that paid for your office and supplied you a very comfortable chair. I might add, you occupy this chair because the majority voted for you, contrary to your remark that in a democratic society it is not the majority that always gets its way. After your comments, resigning would be a good option because I have a feeling a win is not in your future. Something else you said in your report was right. You “made a mistake”. It happens, no big deal, everybody makes mistakes. Wrong. Knowing you made a mistake and not fixing it was a bigger mistake. On Dec. 2 you had your chance to do just that. In November (PRRD Director) Bruce Christensen made his feelings clear: The board made a big mistake and must fix it no matter what the cost. I believe he was replaced on the board for trying to get the right thing done. I ask you, if I steal your car and get caught, would that just be a mistake and we
all make mistakes, “we are not super humans”. Right! I doubt that very much. Regarding your reply to my email of Feb. 13, you ask, “What more could you ask for?”. The answer is “get rid of Bylaw 1996/2011”. Let anyone that wants a building permit pick one up at the PRRD office. If you think the people are stupid enough not to realize what’s going on, you are wrong. Let the people cool off, forget or just lose interest, like (PRRD Chair) Karen (Goodings) said. We know the bylaw is still in effect,. We have only the word of the board that it will not be enforced and this can be changed at any time. If a bylaw which has had three readings and adoption can be ignored, how can we believe in the integrity of decisions made by the board? We’re not a bunch of poor uneducated farmers, regardless of what you think. Why would you keep this bylaw if you are not going to enforce it at some future date? We are not stupid. We know your plan. Remember, this is no small mistake. It involves 63,000 people and 12,000,000 hectares of land. These are not my figures. They came from the PRRD, so that, my friend, is
removing money from the pockets of approximately 63,000 people. Apparently your interpretation of a small mistake is different than mine. I would also like to point out to you that the violations involving your lagoons in the past should be a great concern and you should be spending more time cleaning up the health hazard in your own backyard. It’s a bit hypocritical to pretend the building bylaw has to be put in for our health and safety (in the rules it says this is the only reason to impose a building bylaw) when your town has created a big health hazard for people and animals drinking the water where you discharge your sewer into the Pine River. I was going to say humans but thought you might not consider rural people human. I’m sure the people downstream from your discharge will be happy to hear this. Can you imagine someone bringing you a cup of this water to drink? Walter Stewart Charlie Lake
Mayor’s sarcasm not appreciated Editor: To all rural taxpayers in the Peace River Regional District, I hope that you take the time to read Mayor Merlin Nichols’ Mayor’s Report in the Chetwynd Echo dated Feb 12/2014. Mr. Nichols, I am writing this letter in response to your Mayor’s Report in the Chetwynd Echo dated Feb. 12. I have to say that I am disgusted and outraged by your thoughtless, callous comments regarding the rural resident taxpayers. Were you making a joke of the rural taxpayers for paying for facilities in Chetwynd and not using them, or were you just making a rather stupid statement? Shame on you for your arrogance. Mr. Nichols, do you honestly
think that the bylaw issue has been resolved? If so, I think you should give your head a shake after pulling it out of a certain orifice. This issue is not going to go away until all the legal questions are answered in a satisfactory manner. The important work is just starting, and I think you should prepare yourself for the ramifications of what is yet to come. I am glad to hear that you admit that some mistakes were made regarding the bylaw. And while I understand that everyone makes mistakes, I don’t expect such a big mistake by a whole Board of Directors that I trusted to take care of my interests. You also made a statement about the majority not always getting its way. I would like to remind you that
you won your seat by a majority vote. The whole bylaw issue was not about the rural residents getting their way, it was about the breach of trust in which the new bylaw was implemented without consultation with the residents that it affected. I was hoping that life in the 21st century included a democratic society but I guess in some eyes it does not exist. In closing all I can say is that I am glad that I do not have a representative like yourself looking after my interests. Your sarcasm and arrogance makes you a very small person in many eyes. Brenda Briggs Area B
Huge divide between haves and have-nots Editor: The evidence confirms that health inequities in BC are most pronounced among children and families living in poverty, the working poor, people living on low fixed incomes such as seniors, people with disabilities and some single-parent families. In addition to this factor are the unemployed/under-employed; those with limited education and/or low literacy, the homeless and people with addictions and/or mental illness. The rising cost of daily living in Fort St John and the region is forcing our vulnerable population out onto the street and too often are going hungry.
Let’s challenge ourselves and the assumptions and labels we put on others. We may not always understand a person’s situation. Most families living in poverty have some employment at minimum wage jobs with no benefits. After paying for daycare, utilities and rent, there is little to no money left to put food on the table. Despite BC’s average health status, there is still a large gap between the average British Columbian and those are most vulnerable in our communities. These pressures are having an impact on families and residents in Fort St. John and taking a toll. Welfare is only $610 for a single person and $906 for a person
with a recognized disability. Most people are living 1-2 paycheques away from a personal or family disaster, because life can change so quickly that even though you may have laid down careful plans in case of an event, it is not always cut and dry. It’s about ‘Getting It Together’ on how community can work together to ensure that we don’t go back to a Victorian society where there is a huge divide between those who have and those who don’t in our region, and that we understand and demonstrate concern for other who are struggling to make ends meet. Niki Hedges Fort St. John
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
MP ‘outraged’ at RCMP action
Shame on both of you
Dear constituents: I was outraged to learn that, on Feb. 26, 2014, the RCMP had reclassified the Swiss Arms Classic Green rifle from a non-restricted firearm to a prohibited firearm. I am a gun owner, and used to own that particular firearm, and I know full well that the RCMP decision to reclassify it was wrong. Our Conservative government remains committed to standing up for the rights of law-abiding gun owners. In my personal opinion, this is another example of bureaucrats
abusing their power. In a single action, the RCMP took a firearm that had been sold legally for 12 years, and has never been used to commit a crime in Canada, and arbitrarily declared it illegal. Law-abiding men and women, who have owned this rifle legally for years, are considered criminals as of today. As soon as I heard about this issue, I wrote to the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Justice, and the matter was addressed in the House of Commons the next day. The Minister has ordered an
urgent review of this unfortunate decision. Our government is committed to ensure firearms owners are not penalized as a result of this illinformed action. We have delivered on our promise to abolish the LongGun Registry, a measure that respected law-abiding firearms owners across Canada, and we will continue to respect the rights of law-abiding Canadian firearms owners. Bob Zimmer MP, Prince George-Peace River Chair, BC/Yukon Caucus
Setting the record straight By Bob Zimmer The issue of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) service locations is once again grabbing headlines, and it is doing so because of the amount of misinformation out there about the changes being made by our government. The fact is that Canada’s veterans will be better served now that employees at any one of 600 Service Canada locations across the country will be trained and equipped to provide those services in smaller communities. A veteran living in Dawson Creek or Mackenzie will be able to access service locally, instead of traveling to Prince George or Edmonton to visit a VAC office. Veterans who did receive service from the now-closed VAC offices will not have to look for their new service point, as all of those cities have Service Canada locations in the same building or across the street. Veterans will receive face-to-face service from a real person at any Service Canada office, or go online if they wish to do so. Also, my constituency offices are more than willing and able to provide help to veter-
ans in need of assistance. The Public Service Alliance of Canada, or PSAC, is spearheading the campaign against Veterans Affairs Canada. When the union launched their campaign in July 2013, they failed to note that the Veterans Affairs office in Prince George had been closed for six months! They simply lump our community in with eight other offices that closed on Jan. 31, 2014. The union also does a grave disservice to their own members. They imply that Service Canada employees, who are also represented by PSAC, are incapable of putting the training they have received from Veterans Affairs Canada to good use. Since 2006, our government has invested nearly $4.7 billion in new funding to enhance veterans benefits, programs and services. Close to 90 per cent of the department’s budget goes toward direct service and support for veterans services. In order to support Canadian veterans, Veterans Affairs Canada delivers a number of personalized benefits such as home visits by a registered nurse or case-manager, in addition to
grass cutting, snow clearing and home cleaning services. We have also made improvements, increasing the number of case workers in the regions where veterans need them most, and opening and maintaining 17 Operational Stress Injury Clinics and 24 Integrated Personnel Support Centres near Canadian Forces Bases and in major city centres right across the country. I have family who are veterans. I truly care about them and the quality of service they, and all veterans, receive. Our government has been extremely supportive of our veterans through several initiatives such as the Helmets to Hardhats program as well as doubling government contribution rates to the Burial Services Fund. Our government is working hard to serve our veterans as well as they have served Canada. The campaign by PSAC only serves to disrespect their own members working at Service Canada, and keeps veterans in the dark about the services available to them. Bob Zimmer is the MP for Prince George-Peace River and Chair of the BC/Yukon Caucus.
Workplace diversity good for business Are these names familiar to you: Stevie Wonder, Stephen Hawking, John Hockenberry or Helen Keller? What do you think when you hear these names? I think famous singer, physicist, an American journalist and author, four-time Emmy Award winner and three-time Peabody Award winner, one of the most successful journalists of all time, political activist and lecturer. Did you know that all these people have disabilities? Stevie Wonder is blind, Stephen Hawking has a neuro-muscular disorder, John Hockenberry a spinal cord injury, and Helen Keller was deaf and blind. When you talk about their findings and successes, do you label them by their disability or their accomplishments? At the Fort St. John Association for Community Living we believe everyone belongs and we believe everyone is entitled to ‘real work for
real pay’. We do not label people by their disabilities. We assist in helping them strengthen their abilities. Our Careers program helps adults who have developmental disabilities to be a valued part of their community. We believe that everyone has something to contribute. Many companies are increasingly realizing that diversity in the workplace makes good business
sense. Research shows that workers with a disability benefit employers by improving their operations and by strengthening business links in the community, as well as improving morale within their staff teams. Have you considered hiring someone with a disability in your workplace? Do you have extra tasks that your team doesn’t have time to complete, or a position you just can’t seem to keep filled? Please let me know if you’re interested in hearing more about this program or hiring someone with a disability. I can be reached at the number noted below and would be happy to discuss this further. Fort St.John Association for Community Living Employment Coordinator Sheri Ashdown 250-787-9262 ext 234 or 250-7872889
Editor: Is the Peace River Regional District ever going to stop giving me reasons to write these letters? I know I am getting tired of having to vent my frustration at their inappropriate actions. I have to say after attending the Peace River Regional District meeting of Feb. 27, I am appalled at the lack of professionalism displayed by two board members, one being Karen Goodings, the Chair, and Lori Ackerman, board member representing the City of Fort St. John. Several times I witnessed Karen Goodings snickering at comments made by a board member who had the floor. The second one was Lori Ackerman, Mayor of Fort St. John, who made a loud angry outburst at one of the board members. As a present and a past board director, president and vice-president, I am well aware of the appropriate behaviour that should be displayed by every board member. Maybe a people skills course is in order for both of you. It really doesn’t matter how frustrated you get with someone, there is a code of conduct that should be followed when you sit on a board. It is mutual respect for each other, whether you agree with their opinion or not. I have to wonder how your behaviour is behind closed doors if you are willing to embarrass yourself like that in front of the public and media. As public figures you should be setting an example and not making a mockery out of another member’s opinion. Shame on both of you for your unprofessional conduct. Brenda Briggs Area B
Local News Briefs Hiebert elected Leonard Hiebert has been chosen as the new Director of Electoral Area D on the Peace River Regional District Board. He won convincingly Feb. 21 over Bud Powell by a margin of 355-76 votes. The election was called after former director Wayne Hiebert (no relation) resigned. The term ends in December, 2014.
778-256-2451 or pmgreg1@yahoo. com or Linda Nielsen, Literacy Outreach Coordinator, North Peace Literacy Alliance 250-793-2884 or email@example.com.
Youth charged with porn
Fort St. John RCMP are recommending a charge of Distribution of Child Pornography against a 13-yearold male youth. In late December police learned that a photo of a 13-year-old female, Grants available showing partial nudity, had been The RBC After School Project has posted on the internet. Upon investiannounced a call for applications for gation, police found that the female community-based organizations that had sent the photo to the suspect, offer after school programs. A total who was an acquaintance, who then of $3 million in grants will be posted the photo on Facebook. available for the 2014-15 school “This is a serious issue that needs year. to be addressed with all youth,” said RBC After School Project grants Cpl. Jodi Shelkie with the Crime of up to $40,000 are provided by Prevention Unit, “Young people take the RBC Foundation to programs for and then send intimate pictures of at-risk or underserved communities themselves without thinking of the that offer structured, supervised consequences. First, the youth who activities in an environment that pro- is in the picture must face the consevides what RBC has termed the ‘3 quence of knowing that many peoSs’: safety, social skills and self- ple…friends, family and strangers esteem. are viewing their body and the To qualify, organizations should potential bullying that may result. offer after school activities five days Second, the person who posts the a week and include a variety of pro- picture faces the consequence of grams such as computer instruction, arrest, criminal charges and dealing sports, literacy, music and art leswith the possibility of a criminal sons, nutritional guidance and help record.” with homework. The suspect, from Fort St. John, The deadline for applications is has his first court appearance in March 14, with results communicated to recipients by June 6. Interested early March. organizations may submit their Medical clinic closing The District of Taylor is closing application online at www.rbc.com/ its medical clinic March 10 due to a afterschool. doctor shortage. Seniors need computers The clinic was operated through The FSJ North Peace Seniors a staffing agreement with the Fort Drop-In Centre is currently seeking St. John Medical Clinic since 2009 new or refurbished computers or laptops for their new program, but the departure of several doctors Connecting Older Adults: Seniors’ from the Fort St. John clinic caused them to terminate the agreement. Computer Literacy. The District will continue to try This program connects seniors to recruit a physician by providwith the tools they need so they can ing recruitment and retention incenstay connected with family, friends, community activities and informa- tives, a ‘turn-key’ medical clinic, tion to help reduce isolation. Older relocation assistance and housing. adults are not immune from the Duo busted flood of technology in today’s world The Fort St. John RCMP Drug and are eager to get on board. Section executed a search warrant in Programs like this are going on the 8400 block of 92 Avenue Feb. across the country. Libraries, litera- 21. There was a 28-year-old male, a cy programs, websites, and youth 16-year-old female and a 13-yearare all looking at ways to help seniors old male in the residence at the time. to figure out what a computer can The 28-year-old male and the female and can’t do, which can be a some- youth were arrested. In the residence what daunting experience. police officers found 300 Fentanyl Seniors are the fastest growing pills, approximately $4000 in cash, a segment of the population – and the half-ounce of prepackaged powfastest growing user segment on dered cocaine, marihuana and Facebook and are quickly embracing ammunition for a handgun. interactive technology in new ways. The male faces two counts of In some cases it is thanks to a teen Possession of a Controlled Substance training seniors program. for the Purpose of Trafficking; one This program is in partnership count of Possession of a Controlled with students from the Bert Bowes Substance; and three counts of Free the Children student group and Possession of Ammunition contrary students from the Christian Life to a prohibition order. The female School have offered to volunteer faces two counts of Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purpose their time to assist the seniors. Questions can be directed to of Trafficking and one count of Pierre Gregoire - President, The Possession of a Controlled North Peace Seniors Drop in Centre Substance.
Coming Events March 6 – Home Routes Concert by Jon Brooks at the Dawson Creek Art Gallery. Brook’s songs are underscored throughout by his gently weather-beaten voice, the singular beautiful sound of hand on guitar, and his uncanny ability to press his ear against the heartbeat and the soul of times we live in - transforming, inspiring and uplifting us as we bear witness. Tickets: $20 at the door. Advance Tickets: $15 at the Art Gallery. March 7-8 – Mission Vision 2014 is at the North Peace Mennonite Brethren Church in Fort St. John, BC (10816-106 St.) Theme: Compelled By Christ’s Love. 2 Corinthians 5:14,15. Keynote Speaker: Wagdi Iskander. Display areas open to the public: Friday: 6-9 pm and Saturday: 9 am-7 pm. Youth Event on Friday: 6:30 pm. Celebration Services on Saturday: 9:30 am and 7 pm. For more information, www.missionvisionfsj.ca, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook: MissionVisionfsj March 8 – The 2nd Annual International Women’s Day Trade Fair is being held from 9 am - 3 pm at the Kiwanis Performing Arts Centre, 1100 – 95 Avenue in Dawson Creek. The theme for this year’s event is ‘Inspiring Change’. Visit the website at http://www.spcrs.ca/ events/intl-womens-day/to find the Exhibitor Contract, Presenter Contract and Sponsorship Form. Contact: Stephanie Goudie, Community Events Committee, South Peace Community Resources Society, Ph: (250) 782-9174 Ext. 221 (Wednesday – Friday only). Email: iwddawsoncreek2014@ gmail.com (24/7), Fax: (250) 7824167. March 8 - Ladies Wine & Art Night is at 7:30 pm at the Dawson Creek Art Gallery - an inexpensive way for friends to socialize and have a bit of fun on a Saturday night. Cost is only $20 each but if you bring a friend you get $5 off your entry. What exactly do these nights entail? Well, wine is, of course, going to be available (no attendees under 19) along with dessert. As well, each night we will have a pre-arranged craft or art project for you to enjoy. Don’t worry about your skill level; the projects are designed for fun, not to gauge your art talent. So come on in. The point of these nights is to have a bit of fun. March 14 - Start March Break off on the right foot. Put on your best pyjamas, grab your favourite stuffed animal, and come to the Fort St. John North Peace Museum for a night of family fun. The evening starts at 7 pm with the short film Mary of Mile 18 (about a girl along the Alaska Highway who finds a wolf pup). We will read the story A Dog Came, Too (about explorer Alexander Mackenzie’s dog). The evening will finish with a snack and a craft. We will make Victorian spinning toys called thaumatropes. Free admission. Donations Welcome.
Fort St. John North Peace Museum (9323 100 St). For information contact Heather at 250-787-0430. March 15 – The Fandango Festival will be held at the North Peace Cultural Centre from 10 am to 4 pm. This free event provides an opportunity for browsing an array of vendors, offering goods such as health supplements, hand-made jewelry, fibre arts, home enhancing scents, the healing arts and artwork. For information contact Laurel Batterham at: 250-793-2289 or email email@example.com March 22 - The Derrick Dance Club of Fort St. John is hosting a Country Music Dance 8:30 pm - 12:30 am in the Senior Citizens Hall at 10908100th St. Music by Country Horizon Sounds. 19 and over welcome. For info call Chris at 250-785-1021 or George at 250-827-3396. March 22 - Ever wanted to see Russia? Chris Goulet and Laverna Emes take us on a trek across Russia through the lens of their camera, at the North Peace Museum in Fort St. John, starting at 7 pm. Laverna grew up here. Admission is by donation and proceeds go to support the Fort St. John North Peace Museum. March 22 – Powder King Mountain Resort is hosting Slopes for Hope for the Canadian Cancer Society from 9 am - 3:30 pm, to raise funds to assist the Canadian Cancer Society with research, cancer prevention initiatives, and support programs. The goal is for participants to make their way down the ski hill as many times as it would take to cover the vertical height of Mount Everest. There will be different levels for kids, adults and the real ski fanatics. Money will be raised through participant fundraising – those taking part will be asked to raise a minimum of $100 in advance pledges. Participants will be charged a nominal registration fee and will receive half-price lift tickets for their efforts if they have raised the $100. To register visit: www.slopesforhope.ca. For more information, email Kerensa Medhurst at firstname.lastname@example.org. ca March 28 - The Fort St. John North Peace Museum is pleased to launch our first four-part talk series. Each evening will take place the last Friday from March through May. This series is by donation for members or $5 per non-member. These evenings will feature guest speakers and presentations talking on different aspects of the night’s theme. Our first session will feature presentations, photographs, artefacts, and video clips on transportation – everything from boats to snowshoes. Join us at 7 pm and invite your friends. April 6 - Registration is now open for Mother Goose on the Loose workshop in Fort St. John. There will be a fee of $90 for community participants, and refreshments and lunch will be included. Workshop details and registration available at https://mgol-fsj-workshop.eventbrite.ca.