TAKE 5 Dec-Jan 2023

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Letters Shopping Local

Your November issue stressed the importance of shopping locally. Probably most people in Ladysmith want to, but there are evidently very many who can’t.

In particular, people like me who are elderly and/or have health issues have to use vehicles when shopping, but time and time again, we fi nd that THERE IS NOWHERE TO PARK.

We can drive back and forth repeatedly through town, only to find no parking spot anywhere, so we’re unable to pick up mail, visit the bank, get some toiletries, purchase clothing, meat, pet supplies and so on — all the while using up precious gas and what remains of our energy and patience. So, defeated, we have to drive to another town to shop where parking is freely available.

Many people can’t stagger up and down the steep High Street, for instance, perhaps carrying shopping bags, after leaving their vehicles in a Town of Ladysmith parking area: they’re lucky if they can fi nd a parking space there anyway. There are only five parking spots allocated to disabled persons in the downtown core too. Incredible but true. Meantime, three or four in-demand parking spots have been taken over for two restaurants’ clientele who wish to eat outdoors in all weathers. And I’ve learned that business people and retailers customarily use curbside parking, thereby preventing many clients and cus-

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tomers, on whom ironically they rely, from accessing their places of business.

And where, oh where, downtown will there be additional parking for the steady in flux of people who purchase newly-built condos and townhouses? Of course, they won’t fi nd any parking either and will have to shop elsewhere. Shouldn’t providing adequate downtown parking have been addressed well before residential developers ingratiated themselves with the mayor and Town Council and got permission to build?

As for buying products at the two supermarkets in town, their outrageous prices for produce, for example, include the considerable cost of shipping from or via the USA. Many staples such as apples, pears, onions, cauli flowers, lettuces, cabbages, cucumbers, carrots ($1.09 for just one? No, thank you!), even parsley are shipped from the States, yet there are BC farmers, including those on Vancouver Island, who grow and can supply these items. (Wasn’t the carbon tax supposed to act as a deterrent to long-distance shipping and a way to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollutants too?)

So, though wanting to be loyal to the many kind and friendly shopkeepers and businesses in this lovely little town and though undoubtedly eager to purchase local products, I think a signi ficant number of people reluctantly fi nd that they have to do their shopping elsewhere.

New directors

Ladysmith

I am sure that it has just been a oversight on Jessica’s behalf to not include a contact number or an email contact for the director of Area A in her recent article in TAKE 5. In her article, she quotes of the very low voter turnout of 14.3 per cent — well, I am sure I am not alone when I would like to forward to her how she can better serve all of Area A. Looking forward to helping to improve our wonderful area. — Mark Fiddick

Ed Note: Email is included at the end of this month’s column. Thank you.

Letters to the editor on community topics and concerns are welcome. Opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of TAKE 5 and its affiliates. Send letters to editor@take5.ca or Messenger on Facebook.

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Tired of battling crowds for mass-produced items every holiday season?

Step off the wheel and shop close to home! Options for quality, meaningful gifts and pretty holiday décor abound within the communities of Cedar and Ladysmith. So, replace your parking lot frustrations and lineup woes with a stroll along the Festival of Lights, a chat with shopkeepers, a scenic country drive and refreshment stops along the way.

Neck of the Woods General Store in Ladysmith is a great place to start.

Although somewhat small in acreage, this shop is immense in scope and whimsy: there are beautiful, one-of-akind items from more than 140 artisans in just one place!

From gorgeous pottery to unique jewellery, art cards, body products, wall hangings, glassware, wire art, decorative throw pillows and quality food items, Neck of the Woods has it all.

Owner Kathleen Hayden laughs when she explains her purchasing procedure.

“Is it West Coastish? Is it cute? Does it resonate with me? And does it either tell a story or come with one?” she says. “Customers enjoy hearing about the

artists, and much of what I carry here represents the beauty of living on the coast.”

Need a delicious tea to go in that pottery mug? Look no further than Black Door Décor, a long-standing area favourite for luxury blinds, bedding and bath products.

New owners Bailey Hill and his mother, Melanie, have started their own line of loose leaf, ethically-sourced teas, including their popular Moon Tea, which is a delicious bedtime tea and calms the body. They also carry Wakocha Black, Sweet Berry Rooibos and Chocolate Chai, among others. With an ever-

changing array of seasonal offerings, Black Door Décor could become your go-to for soothing teas.

The shelves at Black Door Décor are lined with items of beauty and comfort to see you through any season: crisp linens, organic flannelette sheets, duvets, pillows, house coats and scrumptious towels in every conceivable colour.

Hill stresses the conscientious nature of what he and his mom carry.

“We love this planet and care that things are ethically sourced, sustainable and manufactured in responsible countries,” he says. “We’ve also brought in more local items, like shampoo and conditioner bars from Fernie that have minimal packaging but work beautifully and last a long time.”

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Black Door Décor new owner Bailey Hill. Photo: Kerith Waddington Neck of the Woods owner Kathleen Hayden. Photo: Kerith Waddington

Decorative touches for the home and luxurious bath products round out the shop’s selection. As both Hill and his mother are woodworkers, however, customers can expect to see live edge pieces and reclaimed furniture in Black Door Décor soon.

Speaking of wood, how about a stunning charcuterie board? Or rustic wood products and hand-crafted home décor? Yonder Wood Country Store in Yellow Point boasts all of that and more, including live-edge tables, steampunk lamps, paintings, fi ne jewellery and much more.

Owner/operators Linda and Bill Thompson are ready to welcome you.

“I think people are starting to feel a little more comfortable about socializing,” says Linda, referring to the dwindling effect of the recent pandemic. “There seems to be a lot of pent-up energy and money. One thing the pandemic did is make people aware of the importance of shopping close to home if they want to keep their favourite local shops open. So, we are anticipating a very busy season.”

Bill acknowledges that both he and Linda get up and get to work most days

not because they have to, but because they want to. “We love what we do,” he says. “And wood is a wonderful medium to work with. It is always surprising. We may approach a piece with an idea in

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James Graham, horticulturalist and Master Organic Gardener who works seasonally at Kleijn Nursery. Photo: Catherine Kleijn Linda and Bill Thompson, Yonder Wood Country Store. Photo: Kerith Waddington

mind, but it often changes as the wood reveals itself.”

When asked what his favourite kind of wood to work with is, Bill laughs and says, “Free!” Joking aside, he says it isn’t unusual for friends and neighbours to show up with interesting pieces they’ve salvaged. “Mother nature is our inspiration,” he says.

Finally, head to Kleijn Nurseries and Garden Centre in Cedar for the plant lover on your list. Owners Catherine and Nol Kleijn — along with horticulturalist and Master Organic Gardener James Graham — have been busy creating seasonal Christmas planters, which can be broken apart and planted in your garden. “Everything we have is grown here and for here,” says Catherine. “Our products are local, reasonably priced and get high results.”

Shoppers will also fi nd a large number of amaryllis bulbs, flowering poinsettias, quaint ornaments, specialty food products and some of Catherine’s own paintings at the nursery.

With so many options so close to home, shoppers can make Christmas a little more magical — and a lot more personal — by shopping in their own community.

Gift Ideas

Gift certi ficates are always practical. Many local businesses offer them so it’s a great way to support locals and not worry about sizes! From décor shops such as Whitespace Living, and Black Door Décor to Art of Brewing watch for in-store specials plus stocking stu ffers and gift cards for whatever amount you’d like. Gift cards to cultural events are also appreciated. Think theatre tickets or a course for youth from Ladysmith Theatre.

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Museums are great places to shop and Nanaimo Museum offers unique gifts and gift certi ficates. Ladysmith Museum’s new gift shop also has gift certi ficates available and is GST free. A good feeling knowing you are shopping and supporting local art and heritage.

Give the gift of good health!

Ladysmith Health Food Store has lots of gift ideas in store from salt lamps, di ffusers and essential oils, honey candles, soaps, lotions, bath products, gift sets, and more!

Pharmasave Ladysmith always has a wonderful selection of gifts. You can check out their holiday gift guide magazine with their specials – www.pharmasave.com

Pharmasave is one of Canada’s leading independent pharmacy and drugstore retailers. Visit them in-store or online .

The Healing Nest Gift Certi ficates offers 2-Hour Healing Starter Package includes an analysis of your overall energy field and functional state of your body with recommendations, plus a customized, powerful experience that bathes your body in a 360-degree vortex of sound, light, and colour frequencies.

Gift a gift of being active! A pass to a gym, aquatic center or a new sport. The Nanaimo Curling Centre offers Christmas Shopping available at the Pro Shop Sunday 11 – 3; Mon & Fri 10 – 6; Tues, Wed, Thurs 11 – 4. Gift items such as clothing, equipment, shoes, and gift certi ficates. Watch their Facebook page for Santa Specials!

Put a little bling on for New Years’ or just because. Earth & Sky Connection is offering jewelry at 25% off if you mention their ad in TAKE 5 during December and January. Half Hour Psychic Sessions are 15% off

And who doesn’t enjoy a tasty gift? Restaurants offer gift certi ficates and takeaways. From fi ne dining Mahle House, vegan-friendly Plantitude or your local pub, these gifts are always appreciated. And don’t forget your local farms. Yellow Point Farms has tons of unique local gift ideas for hosts, teachers, friends, and families, such as honey, blueberry leaf tea, wool socks, and goat milk soap. “This is the last chance to stock up for the year as the farm will close for the season after Christmas and then reopen in the spring,” says owner Rebecca Dault.

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Historic Hotel Getting Renovated

Honouring the past while preparing for the future—that’s what Sally-Christine Rodgers and Randy Repass are doing with their plans for the Island Hotel in Ladysmith.

Purchasing the property in January of 2022, Rodgers and Repass have spent the past year looking into how to best preserve the historical building while expanding its occupancy and bringing the century-old building up to code. Their goal?

“To add badly needed rental inventory and contribute to the economic vitality and sense of community of the down-

town,” says Repass.

The hotel is currently a three-storey structure that hasn’t seen many changes since it was remodeled in 1913: it houses 13 small apartments and 2 commercial spaces. Currently, there are 11 tenants.

Repass and Rodgers plan to preserve the elegant facade of the building in keeping with the heritage heart of the town.

Behind that façade, however, they will rebuild the Hotel as a five-storey struc-

ture housing up to 20 apartments. The top two floors will be “stepped back” to maintain the streetscape; the fourth floor would be set back 2.7 metres; and the fifth floor would be set back another 2.7 metres. The two commercial spaces on the ground floor will be retained.

The town’s draft Official Community Plan allows for an increase to five storeys in the downtown core for residential buildings.

And what of the current residents of the hotel?

Repass and Rodgers are going above and beyond to help them out.

Within Ladysmith’s rental bylaws, there are provisions that outline compensation for renters affected by “renovictions.” Repass points out that the circumstances of the Island Hotel renovation-rebuild provides an exemption to these provisions.

However, with sensitivity for the Island Hotel’s residents, and in light of the current housing situation, the owners will be providing compensation—as outlined in the bylaw—to provide assistance to tenants in their transition to other accommodations. “It’s the right

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Artists rendition showing proposed changes to the Island Hotel. Courtesy of AYPQ Architecture

thing to do,” says Repass.

Due to the complexity of the project and the current state of economy, the timing and fi nal expenditure are uncertain.

Repass and Rodgers applied to the Town for re-zoning this past spring and remain in discussion with staff. They are, however, hopeful the application will go before council early in the new year, with construction starting as soon as the end of next year.

Negotiations for Ladysmith Maritime Society

Ladysmith Maritime Society may soon have a new landlord.

The Town of Ladysmith and the Ladysmith Maritime Society support reconciliation and the transfer of the water lot lease DL2016, the site of the Ladysmith Community Marina, to the Stz’uminus First Nation (SFN). This transfer is part of the reconciliation agreement signed between SFN and the Province, in March 2022, and establishes commitments to work together on community priorities and future land transfers, providing support for economic development and funding for future environmental remediation activities in Ladysmith Harbour.

The relationship between LMS and the Town is governed by two agreements, both of which expire in 2029 and have an automatic renewal clause.

Negotiations with the Town of Ladysmith, SFN and LMS have been underway since mid-summer, with the goal of advancing the timeline of the transfer. Discussions currently underway between the Town of Ladysmith, Stz’uminus and LMS include the possibility of a new operating agreement and licence.

A provision in the agreement allows for an assignment by the Town to another party. Alternatively, there could be a new agreement entered into by LMS and SFN. LMS and SFN are currently exploring these alternatives.

By way of clari fication, the licence agreement between LMS and the Town speci fies that all marina facilities and improvements are the property of LMS. Further these facilities remain the property of LMS in the event that the water lot lease is not renewed.

The LMS Annual General Meeting is on Friday, December 9, in the Welcome Centre, where this issue will be on the agenda.

“We look forward to a strong and beneficial partnership in the continued operation of the marina, our community events

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District Lot 2016, location of Ladysmith Community Marina will be turned over to Stz’uminus First Nation as part of Reconciliation agreement. Photo: Town of Ladysmith

and the development of the Waterfront Area Plan,” says LMS President Kelly Daniels.

“We’ve certainly been told by the town and SFN that they see LMS being highly involved with the operation. And from the Waterfront Plan, the long-range expectations is the expansion of a marina that would be in the dog patch area and potential for LMS to be assisting in that operation as well. We are optimistic that we see a very long-term future for LMS on the waterfront and have entered into discussions with that expectation.”

LMS owns the assets and would continue to operate as a tenant but with a new landlord. They have had a 30-year lease, which expires in 2029. In their current agreement, LMS pays the Town of Ladysmith 5 per cent of its moorage revenue — approximately $35,000 a year. The Province gets 3.5 per cent.

Daniels is hopeful negotiations with the Town of Ladysmith and Coast Salish Development Corp., the economic development arm of Stz’uminus headed up by Ray Gauthier, will result in a new agreement soon.

Reaction from LMS members has been positive, but there has been a lot of “what does that mean for us?” says Daniels.

“And of course, at this point, we don’t exactly know. We’re still in discussions around that, but we don’t see it as a negative thing. In fact, we see it as a positive thing.”

While negotiations between the three parties continue, development around the marina has been put on hold, including a grant received last year to expand the floating museum and erect a Welcome Pole.

“We see it as just a delay until things sort of get sorted out,” says Daniels. “We hope, and expect, that those will be able to move forward, certainly by next summer.”

LMS is a charitable non-profit society that doesn’t just operate a marina but promotes Ladysmith’s maritime heritage through the operation of a maritime museum, restoration of heritage boats, public education, promoting tourism and access to the waterfront.

LMS hosts activities such as Kids’ Pirate Days, the Heritage Boat Festival, Sea Life Festival and Dine on the Docks along with live music events.

And of course, there is the work still ahead on the proposed development of Ladysmith’s waterfront.

“We have as a strategic priority, and proposed to the Town and SFN earlier this year, that all three parties work together to develop a 20-year plan for the marina to support the Waterfront Area Plan, SFN’s vision and the needs of the community and our moorers.”

Magic of the Season Returns!

Following the success of last year’s “Magic of the Season” exhibit, it was only natural there be a second chapter. On November 24, 2022, “Magic of the Season Chapter II — Our Tiny Town” opened at the Ladysmith Museum. The exhibit continues until January 7, 2023, coinciding with the Festival of Lights.

Sponsored by the Ladysmith & District Credit Union, here you can embrace the spirit of the season with a child-size approach to fun. This colourful miniatures exhibit has something for all and is guaranteed to delight the young and young at heart. Marvel at the working ferris wheel, visit the wooden Christmas tree lot and take your Christmas 2022 photograph

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in the main “Magic” gallery.

While the kids are having fun, the new gift shop and gallery, featuring local arts and crafts, is open. The shop has affordable items for kids (including free sparkly rocks), plus for adults stunning jewellery, home-town painted signs and scarves, exclusive “Christmas in Ladysmith” cards, hand-crafted totes and a wide range of quality items made right here in Ladysmith. And don’t forget books on local history. Proceeds from the gift shop supports local artists and museum operation, including exhibits and acquisitions.

The Ladysmith Museum is operated by the Ladysmith & District Historical Society volunteers. If you would like to get involved, please contact the museum at 250-245-0423 or museum@ladysmithhistoricalsociety.ca.

The museum is currently open Fridays noon to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesday to Thursday from 5 pm to 8 pm. Watch for additional openings or call to book a visit outside regular hours.

Cedar Farmers’ Market wins big

Cedar Farmers’ Market, a not-for-profit farmers’ market located in the small village of Cedar, Nanaimo, has been awarded “Most Outstanding Community Impact” among large farmers’ markets in BC.

The award was presented to Cedar Farmers’ Market at the annual BC Farmers’ Market Conference, hosted by BC Association of Farmers’ Markets in New Westminster from November 3 to 5, 2022. This once-a-year event brings together farmers’ market managers, farmers, vendors and community partners from across BC.

The prestigious award recognizes the impact of this muchloved local market, which has managed to scale up operations while remaining true to their rural roots. The award comes at a time when the market has persevered through many setbacks, including a relocation in 2019, a global pandemic and a large robbery this past August. Despite challenging conditions, the market grew their operations, broke both customer and sales records and expanded its community service projects.

“We never forget who we are, and we want to make sure that

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Ladysmith & District Credit Union CEO John de Leeuw hands cheque to Ladysmith & District Historical Society’s President Quentin Goodbody. The $1500 will go towards the Magic of the Season exhibit on now at the Ladysmith Museum. Photo: Marina Sacht

everyone who comes to our market is treated like family,” says Cedar Farmers’ Market Executive Director Kate Poirier. “We are an agricultural village. In small communities like ours, you know how to help your neighbours and take care of each other. That’s what I want people to think of when they think of the Cedar Farmers’ Market.”

The award celebrates the value that this market adds to their local community, including a wide range of vendors, weekly entertainment and accessibility options, including special shopping hours for marketgoers with physical and neurodevelopmental challenges and plenty of accessible parking.

“Cedar Farmers’ Market is home to Vancouver Island’s best makers, bakers and growers, and this award celebrates the community spirit that is at the heart of this BC market. Alongside their impressive commitment to inclusivity and equity for attendees, Cedar Farmers’ Market also offers an Indigenous track for budding Indigenous entrepreneurs and is a member of the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, providing coupons to lower-income families, pregnant peo-

ple and seniors,” says BCAFM Executive Director Heather O’Hara.

This year, Cedar Farmers’ Market provided over $25,000 in food to lowincome residents, organized regular donation drives for vulnerable communities, such as collecting necessities for unhoused people in Nanaimo and completing toy drives for the Great Nanaimo Toy Drive, as well as organizing volunteer community clean-ups in Cedar.

“The market might not be operating today at all in this community, if not for the support of the Snuneymuwx First Nation. During our crisis of venue in 2019, it was the SFN that stepped up and offered us space,” says Poirier. The two organizations share a land agreement that allows Snuneymuwx creators and entrepreneurs to participate freeof-charge and fast-track their approval process into the market. “We have seen some incredible artists and food makers come into our market through this agreement. We would love to see more participation and encourage those interested to contact us,” says Poirier.

“Our farmers produce healthy local meat, veggies, fruit and plants. We have such a varied and interesting array of products that bring folks back. Between the community spirit felt here and the staff, who are so involved, interested and invested in this community … this place rocks!” says Board Director of Cedar Farmers’ Market Carol Fornelli.

Christmas Lights Cruise

On Saturday, December 10, 2022, at 6 p.m., the Christmas Lights Cruise will depart from Ladysmith Marina and go to Transfer Beach, where there will be

a town campfi re celebration for spectators watching from the shore. Then the boats will sail as far as Boulder Point, just beyond Lagoon Bridge, and return to Fisherman’s Wharf in Ladysmith. The Christmas Lights Cruise is an annual event led by the Fisherman’s Wharf Mariners.

Town Appoints New Manager of Protective Services

The Town of Ladysmith is pleased to introduce Chris Geiger as the municipality’s new full-time fi re chief/ manager of Protective Services. Geiger has acted as the Ladysmith Fire/Rescue (LFR) chief since April 2020 and has been a fi refighter locally since 2007. During his tenure with LFR, he has served as lieutenant, captain and chief training officer. Geiger has also been with CFB Esquimalt Fire/Rescue since June 2018.

The new manager of Protective Services role, approved by Council as part of the 2022 Budget, was created to ensure the delivery of quality fi re protection, rescue, prevention and inspection services for the Town and area. Geiger will liaise with Town staff, public safety and emergency response agencies, as well as the public on strategic and operational aspects of fi re and rescue operations and prevention. He will also coordinate Ladysmith’s local emergency management response efforts in cooperation with the CVRD and local partners.

Storybook Stroll Downtown Returns on December 7

The fi rst of four books will launch December 7 with Santa Baby by Jonathan Stutzman, followed by The 12 Days of Christmas by Greg Pizzoli on December

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14 and Who Will Pull Santa’s Sleigh by Russ Willms on December 21 and fi nally, the winter classic, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats on December 29.

Holiday Storybook Stroll maps are available online or at the Ladysmith Chamber and Visitor Centre (Number One on the map this year) and the LRCA offices on Second Avenue. Downloadable maps are available online under the AEL program page at www.lrca.ca.

The map showcases participating business and features a QR code that can be scanned for a chance to win a basket of book featured on the stroll all funded by Paci ficCare Childcare Resources and Referral.

Another sponsor supporting the stroll this year is Ladysmith Community Health Care Services with the book, Who Will Pull Santa’s Sleigh?

The Holiday Storybook Stroll is free, self-guided and book pages will continue to be displayed after hours to accommodate family schedules.

For the latest information about the Holiday Storybook Stroll and other Storybook projects around town, join Ladysmith Storybook Walk group on Facebook.

Fiscal Update Shows BC WellPositioned Amid Economic Uncertainty

British Columbia remains well-positioned to continue supporting people and navigating emerging global economic headwinds with an improved second-quarter fiscal update. Consistent with other jurisdictions, the Second Quarterly Report con fi rms a fast economic recovery has led to stronger-thanexpected revenues in BC.

The Province’s operating surplus is $5.7 billion, an improvement of $5 billion over the First Quarterly Report. The change was primarily driven by a significant update from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for 2021 personal and corporate income tax results.

“The Second Quarterly Report shows that we have experienced a faster economic recovery than private- or publicsector economists initially forecasted,” says Selina Robinson, minister of Finance. “The changes we’re seeing are primarily due to updated income tax revenue data from the Canada Revenue Agency here in BC and across the coun-

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try — far beyond what was forecasted when we built our budget.”

BC continues to introduce new cost-of-living measures, including the new BC A ffordability Credit. The total cost-of-living measures rolled out since the summer cost approximately $2 billion: $395 million for ICBC rebates delivered in summer 2022; $64 million for the School A ffordability Fund in fall 2022; $1 billion for Climate Action Tax Credit and BC Affordability Credit increases in October 2022 and January 2023; $320 million for a one-time BC Hydro bill credit for BC Hydro customers this winter; and $100 million for enhanced BC Family Benefit payments from January to March 2023.

In addition, families will begin saving up to $550 per month in child care costs starting in December 2022.

RDN Welcomes New and Returning Directors

The Regional District of Nanaimo’s (RDN) 2022–2026 directors were sworn into office at its inaugural board meeting on November 8, 2022. A total of 19 elected officials representing the RDN’s seven electoral areas and four municipalities took oaths of office and became its Board of Directors for a fouryear term.

Director Vanessa Craig was elected chair of the RDN Board and Director Tyler Brown was elected vice-chair by acclamation. Provincial legislation requires regional districts annually elect a chair and a vice-chair at the fi rst meeting of the Board after November 1. The chair and vice-chair positions are held for a one-year term. To view the new RDN Board of Directors, visit the RDN website.

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Guatemalan Fashion Show and Gift Sale Fundraiser

You are invited to the Rotary Club Guatemala Fashion Show and Gift Sale Fundraiser on Saturday December 10 at the Ladysmith Eagles Hall from 1pm to 4pm. Tickets are available at the door by donation.

A fantastic fashion show begins 1:30pm featuring the Ladysmith Secondary School students involved with Rotary’s Interact Leadership Club walking the runway to show you the traditional Guatemalan hand made out fits, and at 2:30pm a second show will feature the wonderful volunteers strutting their stu ff down the walkway! “Come and applaud the young and young-at-heart volunteers during the shows,” says Event Coordinator Elly Smith.

On display and for sale will be authentic handmade Guatemalan items such as Christmas stockings, beaded ornamental birds, clothing, pillow covers, jackets, scarves, jewellery, and pottery. Gerry Beltgens, president, of Access to Education Collaborative and the 2023 incoming president with the Ladysmith Rotary Club will have his most recent one-month trip to Guatemala on slide show along with demonstrating the RACHEL digital library. RACHEL stands for Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning.

Tea and cookies will be served.

“Your participation will help the club continue with the work of giving the children access to education,” says organizer Gerry Beltgens, recently returned from Guatemala and Honduras.

Here is his story.

After my earlier trip to Guatemala in January 2022, I returned last month with a new respect and love for the wonder-

ful people and their beautiful country. I also had a much better understanding of the deep systemic problems facing poor, rural and indigenous people, especially when it came to access to education. That is when I formed the non-profit Access to Education Collaborative.

This time I spent close to half the time in Guatemala and the other half in Honduras. Honduras was another revelation, with warm people and great local support for our Access to Education projects. In Honduras we have been working with the Rotary Club of Comayagua for around 15 years, a truly amazing Rotary Club where we work with our local project coordinator Fernando Martínez.

I had encountered a Rotary Club in Guatemala City that was using the RACHEL Digital Library system to provide access to information that no other systems were matching. (RACHEL stands for Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning.) It is basically a digital library containing the entire Ministry of Education curriculum for schools as well as access to thousands of documents, videos and books that create an amazing learning environment and tools for teachers. The teachers are fully trained using in person and online sessions. All of the materials are in Spanish and culturally appropriate.

The word has gotten out to teachers and community leaders about these systems as they are very cost effective and relatively easy to install. Costs for a small school can be as little as $3,000. The average is closer to $5,000 in Hon-

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duras. On this trip we installed three systems and provided 40 laptops with 5 held in reserve as replacements. All the projects were fi nancially supported by the Rotary Clubs of Comox, Ladysmith and Victoria Harbourside as well as grants from Rotary District 5020 and the Mid Island Group of Rotary Clubs.

My two weeks in Guatemala had been equally successful due to collaboration with the Rotary Club of Vista Hermosa Satellite Uwara, the NGO Opportunities for Guatemalans and friends in the Municipality of Pastores.

In San Lucas Tolimán, on Lake Atitlán I was able to visit the Women’s Directiva and see the progress on their mushroom growing project and their building. They also outlined their plans for the RACHEL system we donated and providing roofi ng sheets for local community members experiencing leaks.

In San Antonio Palopo I met with Sandra, a local weaver and craftsperson and purchased locally made jewellery and beaded birds for our upcoming fashion show and gifts sale. This supports local crafters and then in turn the profits from the show go back into our community projects.

Back in Antigua I visited several local communities. In San Antonio Aguas Calientes Vicki Horsfield and William García have set up local access to a RACHEL system in a primary school with our help and we are working together to form a computer support and technician program. So far, we have provided 50 laptops for those projects and two RACHEL plus units.

I was also led to an NGO working with local women in difficult circumstances. They are trained in sewing skills using traditional materials and creating new and exciting products. They made six custom pieces for our fashion show.

Working with the incredible support of sisters Corina and Milly Arana of Pastores, we set up RACHEL systems in the remote towns of Segundo Cruz and Santa Maria de Jesus. In the city of Pastores the three of us met with the mayor and helped him with a donation of 24 chromebooks and a RACHEL plus library. This project is coordinated with local teachers and the municipality of Pastores. This is a big system that will provide computer classes to the two schools next door to the TEC building where the systems are located. We also provided 500 one-pound bags of nutritional supplements called Incaprina to malnourished children and mothers. That adds to the previous 600 pounds delivered to San Antonio Palopo.

Please show your support to Access to Education Collaborative and Rotary projects in Central America by attending this fundraiser. Gracias amigos! gbeltgens@gmail.com

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New Book by Daryl Ashby

If you enjoyed 85 Grams: The Story of Art Williams — Drug Czar, then you’ll be thrilled with Daryl Ashby’s latest Book, Nobody’s Boy: Ralph Harris the Northern Connection, a great read.

Introducing part of the Island’s dirty little drug secrets, 85 Grams left many questions about what ever happened to Art Williams and his wife. Well, Ashby’s new book answers at least one of these questions while introducing the reader to more endeavours involving the Island chapters of the Hells Angels. The book follows the life of Ralph Harris, a man who filled the void created by Art Williams’s disappearance and how he became involved with international drug smuggling and murder. It leaves the reader questioning how those involved in both murder and drug trafficking could escape prosecution, even after being caught red-handed with shiploads of drugs.

Nobody’s Boy is available at Salamander Books and Ladysmith Archives and Museum.

On Sunday, December 11, 2022, author Daryl Ashby will be making a presentation of Nobody’s Boy at the Ladysmith Museum at 1 pm. Limited seating requires pre-registration; email museum@ladysmithhistoricalsociety.ca.

Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery

Plan a visit to the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery at 444 Parkhill Terrace! Unravel the festive fun in the December exhibition, “Magical Threads,” and then visit the gift store.

Check out the hallway display by Bev Herriott on now until December 22 at the Waterfront Gallery. If you’re a fan of nature, adventure or animals, then there is something in this collection that will speak to you! Born and raised on Vancouver Island, Beverly Herriott is a mixed-media artist whose favourite medium is soft pastel. Inspired by the land and seascapes surrounding Victoria and the South Island, her works draws from a lifetime of memories at landmarks close to heart and home.

Watch for the Arts Council of Ladysmith and District biennial juried Fine Art Show. Submissions open January 2 - 15, 2023 online.

Ken Lavigne’s Snowballs & Mistletoe

With special guests Festival Brass and singer Kristina Helene, Ken Lavigne hits the stage at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 9, 2022 at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo — his only Island concert this season.

It’s not often that you can get hit in the face with a snowball only to be carried away on a musical journey with one of Canada’s most celebrated tenors. This is Ken Lavigne’s fi rst live in theatre Christmas concert in two years, and he is excited to be back.

Ken was a founding member of the Canadian Tenors and co-founded the successful tenor trio Romanza, which toured throughout Canada and the United States, presenting hundreds of concerts. Bringing voice to the holiday season, he will treat audiences to classical favourites, such as “Jingle Bells,” “Let It Snow,” “Adeste Fideles” and “O Holy Night.”

In addition, Ken will share a new arrangement of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” adding drama and intensity with cinematic scope to the heartfelt urgency of the piece.

For more information, contact the Port Theatre at 250-754-8550 or visit www. porttheatre.com.

Holiday horns

The Cowichan Performing Arts Centre presents The Festive Brass’ Holiday Horns! on Tuesday, December 20 at 7:30pm. This acclaimed Victoria-based brass ensemble brings us a festive concert as their fi rst tour of Vancouver Island.

Featuring over 1.5 hours of holiday favorites Holiday Horns! will have audiences feeling the spirit of the season. Brilliant and quirky arrangements of classic holiday tunes performed by a 11-piece brass ensemble with some bold, big, jazzy fun!

Tickets to The Festive Brass’ Holiday Horns! are $38 regular and can be purchased online, by calling 250-746-2722, or by visiting the Ticket Centre.

For details visit www.cowichanpac.ca.

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Author Daryl Ashby with his new book. Photo submitted.
TAKE5 take5.ca 27

Hopes for the new year

As one year draws to a close and another beckons, it is not uncommon for people to reflect on what has been and ponder what might come.

In the spirit of taking a community pulse, TAKE 5 approached area leaders and citizens alike and asked for their thoughts.

Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, says he is “pleased to see many of our favourite events coming back and allowing people to safely gather and connect again as we recover from the impacts of COVID-19.”

On a professional note, Routley is anticipating the positive impacts of the government’s efforts to strengthen the healthcare system, support forestry workers as the industry transitions to more sustainability, build more affordable and accessible housing and further efforts towards reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

Personally, Routley’s hopes for the new year include “spending time with my family, as well as travelling and getting the chance to see more of this beautiful province in my personal time and

through my work as your MLA.”

Vanessa Craig is the RDN Area B director and RDN Board chair. Acknowledging that the new year brings opportunities for rest and renewal, she wishes for all “many moments of contentment spent with family, friends, pets or in places that bring you joy.”

Craig admits that 2022 was another challenging year, what with the continued impacts of the pandemic, damaging extreme weather events and fi nally in flation.

She is, however, looking forward to “working with the new RDN Board and staff as we strive to provide excellent service while implementing actions to meet our ambitious goals for solid waste diversion, transit service, tackling climate change, providing amazing parks and recreation opportunities, and advancing the hospital projects, amongst other goals.”

Quentin Goodbody, president of the Ladysmith and District Historical Society, had no trouble articulating his hopes for the new year.

“Continued recovery, both in health and economy, from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he says. “For the people who live here, I wish a safe, happy new year for all characterized by a continuation of the caring volunteer spirit that personi fies our community.”

Goodbody hopes too for increased awareness

DEC/JAN2023
Clockwise: MLA Doug Routley, RDN Chair Vanessa Craig, LDHS President Quentin Goodbody. Photos submitted.

of the value that preserving local heritage brings to the community, “not only through instilling a sense of uniqueness and pride, but also in attracting visitors which supports local businesses.”

For the LDHS in particular, Goodbody is excited about the launch of the museum’s “Treemendous — Our Fabulous Forest” temporary exhibit in February, and completion of “The Beat Goes On — A History of Ladysmith and District Through Music,” a project done in partnership with the Virtual Museum of Canada.

On a personal note, Goodbody’s wish for the new year mirrors that of many others: “health and happiness.”

Guy Dauncey of the Yellow Point Ecological Society (YES) has one overriding hope for 2023: that we act rapidly to end the distress so many people are experiencing as they struggle to fi nd an affordable home.

“The long-term solutions are clear: end exclusive single-family zoning, and massively expand the rental housing supply with an emphasis on public and non-profit housing, and cooperatives.”

TAKE5

In the more immediate future, Dauncey believes mayors, councillors and regional directors could help by allowing mobile homes on private property, provided they follow health and safety standards; by telling their by-law officers to stop ticketing and evicting people living in unapproved suites or dwellings (at least until the rental vacancy rate rises to three per cent); and by writing Tiny Homes Village zoning bylaws and encouraging landowners to apply for rezoning.

“These things could be done in a matter of months if our councillors and regional directors decided to act with the urgency that the housing crisis requires,” says Dauncey.

Meanwhile, residents pinpointed good health, less anger, more peace, a raise in pension rates and local development (that facilitates a sense of community) as their top picks for 2023.

Ladysmith Maritime Society (LMS) President Kelly Daniels is hoping 2023 brings a stronger commitment around the world to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He also wishes “a future for our children that is more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive and compassionate.”

On that note, he hopes to have more opportunities to play with his kids and grandkids, and to get back to running with Sally, his neighbour’s English Shepherd!

As far as the LMS goes, Daniels says 2022 was a good year as “we started to emerge from the pandemic with a growing slate of events and attractions for the public.”

He hopes that 2023 sees a record number of Ladysmith residents discovering, or rediscovering, the marina and all it has to offer, alongside more and more tourist boaters visiting. Finally, he wishes all “a safe and glorious boating year.”

Message from MLA Doug Routley

As MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, I’m looking forward to taking part in many fantastic community events and gatherings in the new year. I have been pleased to see many of our

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Above: LMS President Kelly Daniels. Photo: Marina Sacht Left: YES President Guy Dauncey. Photo submitted.

favourite events coming back and allowing people to safely gather and connect again as we recover from the impacts of COVID-19. I’m particularly excited about the return of the Ladysmith Festival of Lights, which is always a highlight during the holiday season – I’m so grateful to the team who worked so hard to ensure its return for 2022.

I also am anticipating seeing the impacts of our government’s efforts to strengthen our healthcare system, including a new payment model option for family doctors coming into effect in February to allow an alternative to the fee-for-service model which we’ve heard no longer works for some doctors. We also are continuing our work with the College of Pharmacists of BC to expand pharmacists’ powers to allow them to prescribe contraception and treatments for minor ailments starting this spring.

Recently, I was selected to Chair the Forestry Workers Supports and Community Resiliency Council. As the council undertakes our work, I’m looking forward to working with communities locally and across the province to

ensure our forestry workers are supported in the transition towards more sustainability in our forestry industry.

I know that our new Premier, David Eby, is keen to champion the creation of more housing. We’ve already had hundreds of units of affordable and accessible housing created in our community in recent years, and I’m looking forward to working with our provincial organizations and municipal partners to build more so that everyone can fi nd housing, afford housing, and stay in their homes.

This year, our provincial government continued our work on reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. This included releasing the Declaration Act Action Plan, which guides the speci fic actions that each Ministry will take to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People Act. I know we all are eager to continue this work into the new year.

Personally, I’m looking forward to spending time with my family this year, as well as travelling and getting the chance to see more of this beautiful province in my personal time and through my work as your MLA.

TAKE5 take5.ca 31

RDN Area A Cedar, South Wellington, Cassidy & Yellow Point

With one week between inauguration and the submission of my “Director’s Notes,” I can only report a lot of reading and a bylaw update. I fear people will stop reading at the word “bylaw.” However, it is an important one and given the concerns I heard about development and permitting during the election, I’ll report on it briefly.

Bylaw 500 regulates land use, buildings and structures. Translation: it affects what you can do on your property and the process and requirements of doing those things. It includes development rules and other guidelines about secondary suites, home-based businesses, landscaping, off-street parking and so on. The update is intended to improve clarity and consistency, and to

reduce processing and time delays (and hopefully frustration). The draft bylaw is available for your feedback. Please go to the RDN “Get Involved” webpage for background information and ways to provide feedback on the proposed changes or on what is missing (www. getinvolved.rdn.ca).

Are you still with me?

Moving from the land to those who live in our community, I want to talk about economic diversity in Area A. With the holiday season approaching, I am aware that this is a time of big expectation, excitement and stress. For some, the fi nancial challenges of Christmas can feel overwhelming. This year may be particularly tough for some.

Food banks across the country report dramatic increases in use, with BC experiencing a 25 per cent increase in food-bank use since 2021. Thirty per cent of BC food-bank users are children

and 12 per cent are seniors. In Area A, a measure of child vulnerability (the EDI) indicates that 53 per cent of children living in our community have one or more indicators of vulnerability compared to 37 per cent across the school district and 33.4 per cent across the province. Some in our community struggle more than others.

As always, it is important to look for the helpers, and Area A is full of caring, generous and community-minded people. For example, Cedar’s own Christmas angel Tracey Hoff organizes a Christmas cheer fundraiser that helps make the season bright for families that are struggling. She and her elves assisted up to 38 families in previous years and are already collecting gifts and donations for this year. Please see www. cedarcares.ca to help bring some cheer and merriment to our community.

For those struggling with the high food

34 take5.ca DEC/JAN2023

prices, please know that Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank operates locally at St. Philip Anglican Church (1797 Cedar Rd.) on Tuesdays between 3 to 4 p.m. Please see nanaimoloavesand fishes.org for details.

For those of us with extra, this is your chance to experience that the true joy of the season is bringing smiles to the faces of others. For those of us with not quite enough, please know that your community cares and wants to support you.

May your days be merry and bright.

Jessica Stanley (Jessica.stanley@rdn. bc.ca)

CVRD Area H North Oyster/ Diamond

The Modernization of the Official Community Plan

How would you plan your community? What if there are ecological concerns such as a vulnerable aquifer? Would you want planning similar to Langford? Or would you prefer the Salt Spring Island approach? What is our community’s balance?

In the February 2021 TAKE 5, I wrote about the Official Community Plan (OCP). Since then, the harmonization of the nine electoral areas OCPs has been completed. The next step is to make the OCP current (or modernized) and community circles were held across all electoral areas to get community input. An Ideas Book has been created from this input. I thank all those who got involved. However, the number of people providing input from our electoral area has been very low. I can’t emphasize enough that this is an incredibly important document, and over the next few months, it needs your input. This is an opportunity that will not come about for another 20 or so years. If we pay attention today, we can direct the right land use for the next couple of decades.

So, why is the OCP so important? It is basically the plan for the entire jurisdiction (community) and, as such, needs to reflect the community goals, the land base and the environment.

The OCP is such an important document that there is legislation to direct what goes in it. The Local Government Act (LGA: Part 14 Division 4; 473, 474) requires certain topics be covered by the OCP: residential development; housing needs; restrictions on land subject to

hazardous conditions or environmentally sensitive to development; the location of sand and gravel deposits; and targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The LGA also states what policy statements may be included. The topics range from social needs, affordable housing and GHG to the preservation and protection of the natural environment.

The benefits are considerable: community health and safety; greater certainty and security about the future; reduced con flict between different land uses and community members; maximized use of community resources to the benefit of the majority; minimized public expense for infrastructure and responding to natural hazards; maintenance of land values; sustainability; livability; and economic stability.

What can you do?

Go to the project website www.planyourcowichan.ca. Please read the Ideas Book and learn about the modernization of the OCP. Mark on your calendar the date for the open house about the Local Area Plan. For Area H, the open house will be held at the North Oyster Com-

munity Centre on February 24, 2023, from 4 to 8 p.m. (presentation at 6 p.m.). Let’s all be there!

In closing, I would like to take a moment to wish everyone the best for the holiday season and a Happy New Year! ben.maartman@cvrd.bc.ca 250-510-5930

CVRD Area G Saltair/Gulf islands

CVRD Aeea G Director Jesse McClinton’s submission was not available by press time. Please check in the next TAKE 5

TAKE5 take5.ca 35

The power of x’pey

A small fi re gives off welcome warmth as we walk beneath the forest canopy towards the circle. Seated there are Coast Salish Artist, Educator, and Knowledge Keeper Beau Wagner, Stz’uminus Elder, Hul’qumi’num speaker, Knowledge Keeper, and Storyteller Squtxulenuxw whose English name is George Seymour, and Knowledge Keeper, Song Composer, and Cultural Supporter Xwaluputhut whose English name is Patrick Aleck.

Behind them lies the stately x’pey (Western red cedar) to be carved into a beautiful canoe. But it isn’t just about the end product here, it’s about its transformation – the medicine of cedar they tell me.

The Healing Canoe Program and Cedar and Me are two Indigenous-led programs offered at Wildwood Ecoforest, an 83 acre old-growth forest stewarded by the Ecoforestry Institute (EIS) in Yellow Point.

Available to school and community groups, Cedar and Me is a 3-hour workshop that begins with a song. Students learn the importance of x’pey and gain valuable insight on a forest walk, learning teachings from the Land. There’s an option of making a cedar rope, bracelet, headband or medallion or spending time in the forest and connecting with the Land.

The Healing Canoe Program is a 7-month Land-based cultural program developed and delivered by Coast Salish Knowledge Keepers based on Coast Salish teachings of respect, accountability, commitment, humility, honour, generosity, and above all, love, kindness, joy and belonging. Over the course of the school year students participate in the transformation of x’pey (cedar) into a traditional Coast Salish dug-out canoe. Led by Canoe Carver Beau Wagner with Squtxulenuxw (George Seymour), and Xwaluputhut (Patrick Aleck), the program teaches through carving, forest walks, x’pey bark weaving, songs, stories, and ceremony with Hul’qumi’num language teachings woven throughout. Beginning with a blessing and brushingoff ceremony, students then embark on experiential workshops throughout the school year. Hul’qumi’num teaching resources and video updates keep students connected with the progress of the canoe culminating in the transformation ceremony and the launch, naming and gifting ceremony in the spring.

Both these programs support the BC Curriculum and the First Peoples’ Principles of Learning. The Healing Canoe Program is free of charge to students thanks to a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. Cedar and Me is open for bookings now and the Healing Canoe Program will reopen for applications in August. For more information contact keilih@ecoforestry.ca

The moisture hangs heavy in the air. We lean closer to hear the stories being shared by these remarkable men.

Beau overcame a difficult childhood and understands the importance of belonging and being loved. He was inspired by the Sampson Master Carvers in Stz’uminus. Their kindness, generosity and humility transformed his life. Beau’s apprenticeship with the master carvers was seven days a week, from the time the sun rose to the time the sun went down, all four seasons for five years. “There was always a job to do, and preparing for the next season.” Along with the tasks were life lessons taught by his mentor.

“I’ve never witnessed someone with that kind of strength --that really profound connection to the land.”

Beau recalls one morning seeing a log drifting ashore. It was about 60 feet long. Although it was half submerged, at least five feet were sticking out of the water. It had floated hundreds of feet past the islands towards Saltair but had found its way ashore at Thuqmin (Shell Beach) and when the tide went down it stayed.

When they come up to the log, it’s way up over his head. It’s straight all the way through its 60 feet. When the master carver said, we are going to move this log. Beau asked what crane company.

“He says to take that shovel and dig a hole right there. So I take the shovel, and I dig a hole. Now take that stone and put it in that hole.” Beau didn’t know what he was doing but he did it. “He said, go around the backside now and give it a little push.” The log weighed thousands of pounds. When it moved you could hear the whole earth shaking, crushing everything underneath it. The log rolled on that pivot point with the top pointing up. The beach is shaped like a big crescent moon, but this log rolled in a perfectly straight line and stopped right in front of the canoe shed. Like it knew where it was going. Like it was a being.

From June until September it was transformed into a traditional dugout canoe in Musqueam and gifted to the band. During the carving process the children would take the wood chips and gift them back to the forest. They sat around the circle to share songs, stories, and their language. When it was fi nished the carver was sad but happy that he had been able to see children and adults sit down with the Elders, and share those moments together.

When his mentor passed, Beau was grateful to be able to share his stories with the youth and echo those teachings that he had received and are now key elements in both the Healing Canoe and Cedar and Me Programs.

“It’s a really important program, says Patrick. “We’re trying to paddle together, you know, and it’s important work, the teaching of the next generation… And if we work together like that, imagine what we could do?” He believes programs like this are part of the important work of bridging two worlds. EIS is committed to this work which is how the programs came to be hosted at Wildwood Ecoforest.

Language specialist and Stz’uminus hereditary man Squtxulenuxw (George Seymour) has his masters in linguistics from Simon Fraser University with a focus on Hul’qumi’num. He knows multiple dialects and shares his knowledge through oral history and story, some of which are thousands of years old. He is pleased the project provides opportunities to learn about cedar and the different things that our people actually use it for. “There’s so much information we have in our little group here,” he says.

As our time in the forest ends, I have come to realize that the canoe is a metaphor for life. As Beau puts it, “I can carve a canoe by myself. But it’s when you bring a whole community together, the canoe has so much more power.”

Canoe Carver Beau Wagner. Photo: Marina Sacht

Let’s Talk Curling!

From small town beginnings to an international and Olympic sport, curling is a Canadian treasure!

“Scottish miners brought the game to the interior of British Columbia toward the end of the nineteenth century. The fi rst club was formed in Kaslo in 1895, and within three years, the Kootenay Curling Association played host to a bonspiel that drew eighteen teams from Rossland, Sandon, Revelstoke, and Kaslo.” Excerpt from Canada Curls: The Illustrated History of Curling in Canada by Doug Maxwell (Whitecap Books, 2002)

Closer to home, the Nanaimo Curling Centre has had a tradition of community involvement since 1947.

The NCC offers regular league play for men’s, women’s and open teams. Members as young as nine are curling at the facility on Wall Street, near Bowen Park. With the introduction of stick curling in 1998, now members up to 99 years old who can no longer squat down to throw because of physical restrictions can still stay active and in the game by using a stick that extends from the curler’s hand and attaches to the rock handle. This enables the curler to push and release a rock from a standing or sitting (in a wheelchair) position.

Stick curling is becoming so popular, the NCC is hosting the 17th Annual Canadian Stick Curling Championships on March 30 to April 2, 2023. Seventy-two teams from across the country will be competing; the event is open to the public to watch at no charge.

Each year, the NCC welcomes students from the School District 68’s international student exchange program, and this year there were over 100 students from around the world learning the game of curling. Daytime, three-week programs for Grades 4 to 8 classes also run regularly throughout the curling season. In addition to school programs, NCC offers an afterschool juniors program, with certi fied and volunteer coaches who mentor young curlers in technique, protocols and sportsmanship to develop skills and comradery.

Getting started is super easy! Introduction to Curling pro-

grams (for adults from 17 years plus, and youth from 9 to 16 years) provide a two-hour workshop that covers the basics of how to deliver (throw) a curling rock, sweeping and rules of play. After orientation, practice time on the ice with the coaches provides new curlers that thrill of sliding down the ice and sweeping the rock. As well, the club has programs for individuals with special challenges (wheelchair, special Olympics and visually impaired). Truly something for everyone and what a great stocking stu ffer idea!

Newly hired, General Manager Mathew Boll brings his wealth of expertise in member and club management from southern Ontario, along with his Level II Ice Maker and Technician certi fications. Matt’s vision is to grow awareness about the club, increase membership and the leagues and have a greater presence in the community. He would also like to see more year-round events at the NCC. The club has a large banquet/meeting facility, onsite caterers and bar to facilitate groups for meetings, weddings, staff parties, workshops and celebrations of life.

President Mary Ellen Konyer (2022–2023) has had curling in her veins since she was 16 years old and was on the ice at the Gibbons Curling Club in Alberta. Mary Ellen is no stranger to the NCC, serving in various board positions for the past six years, club member for the past nine years and NCCP club coach. As president, she would like to see greater outreach in the community by having a presence though expanding the Learn to Curl program, for which she is the lead coach. She plans to include more people in the NCC community by initiating a new league for new curlers offering a transition from learn to curl to playing games.

Konyer is in favour of a supported play approach, where the new curlers have the assistance of more experienced curlers as they are learning.

The Learn to Curl has two programs — Curling Basics and Beyond the Basics — offered in the fall and in January (beginning January 10 or 11, 2023) for four weeks. What a great Christmas present from Santa!

Contact the NCC for more information on upcoming events, programs and leagues please visit (www.nanaimocurlingclub. ca). And, for Christmas shopping, gift certificates, clothing, equipment, shoes and so on, come and visit the Pro Shop; they carry Olson, Balance Plus, Asham, Goldline, and Hardline supplies.

TAKE5 take5.ca 37
Nanaimo Curling Club. Photo: Elly Smith

Give Bees a Chance

Have you ever wondered what happens to the bees in winter? They seem to disappear, but in fact, they haven’t actually gone anywhere. Most of the worker bees die, but they do have many strategies to survive the winter. This article will look at honey bees, our native bumblebees and native wild bees.

Honey bees, Apis mellifera, have a perennial year-round colony. Honey bees must actively generate heat and keep themselves warm during winter. They are unlike our native bees, who don’t hibernate or go into a paused developmental state with chemical changes in their bodies to keep them from freezing during cold winter weather. The fact that they are generating heat is because bees are cold-blooded. The bee colony produces workers late in the season, called winter bees, that have extra fat stores. Their sole purpose is to protect the queen until spring, when she can begin to lay eggs again. They live for months, not weeks. The bees cluster around the queen and vibrate their flight muscles to generate heat. The centre of the cluster can be 32 to 35 C when it’s freezing outside. Similar to Antarctica penguins in

a huddle, the bees also rotate from the outside to the inside. The stored honey fuels them through the cold months. Here’s an infrared photo of a hive shows the tightly packed winter cluster. The bright yellow indicates the warmest part or the centre of the cluster. The colour darkens, as the temperature is lower away from the cluster.

Bumblebees, on the other hand, have seasonal nests and all the bumblebees die, except for the queens. After queens have reared their young throughout the spring and summer, they die and newly mated queens and unfertilized queens, called gynes, abandon the nest and hibernate over the winter just below the soil beneath leaf litter, at the base of bunch grasses or in other sheltered locations. People have been known to fi nd them in flower pots.

Above:

Photo:

Left: Infrared photo of a hive

Photo: Bee Culture

Our native wild bees are solitary. That means when a female bee is fertilized, she lays one egg in bee bread (a pollen loaf of pollen and nectar) and seals it off from the elements and other insect pests. Remarkably, she works tirelessly for the next generation over the summer months. Most of the wild bee species (70 percent) live in the ground using tunnels, and the rest nest above ground in plant stems, hollow holes and beetle tunnels. The eggs develop and feed on the bee bread, grow to maturity, overwinter in their cocoons and will remain there until spring, when they emerge as adults. There is one exception: the leaf cutter bees don’t have enough time to develop into adults, so they overwinter

40 take5.ca DEC/JAN2023
Don’t disturb Bumblebee nests. Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

in the larvae stage and pick up their life cycle development in the spring.

You can see that our wild bees get a fresh start every year, one female at a time — which makes our role as stewards of the land particularly important. Together, one garden and backyard at a time, we can give bees and other insects a chance for a safe winter passage.

Leave the leaves. This is the most valuable thing we can do to protect bees and other insects with winter cover. We are always so quick to tidy up the garden — stop it! When trimming dead plants, leave hollow stems 30 centimetres tall for the above ground wild bees; they need to be left for next summer’s use as a nesting site.

Leave logs and rocks where they are for the winter. Winter is not the time to tidy up when bumblebees and other insects have found a safe place to overwinter.

Postpone pulling up your dead annuals and perennials until spring. They’ll trap whatever leaves blow by, creating their own enriching mulch while shielding insects throughout the winter.

Don’t disturb areas of bare soil, where many wild bee species, including bumblebees, overwinter in small tunnels and nests.

Certified Vancouver Island master gardeners are volunteers who provide education to the home gardener using current, science-based horticultural knowledge that exemplifies environmentally responsible practices and stewardship.

TAKE5 take5.ca 41

Keeping Warm!

As the nights slowly draw in and the temperature falls, the rhythm of the for-

est changes. The vibrant fall fungi wilt and puddles amongst the leaves begin to freeze. The crunch of frosty leaves are underfoot, and the smell of wood smoke fills the air. As a naturalist, this is one of my favourite times of year. Animals are slowly tucking themselves away in all the wonderful crevices and homes

Above: Black bears in hibernation. (left) Humming bird in torpor. Photos: Splash

they have created throughout the year, with stores of food to keep them and their families safe until the spring. Here on Vancouver Island, temperatures can

42 take5.ca DEC/JAN2023

plummet to well below freezing, so every animal needs a special way to stay warm and survive those quiet winter months.

One of the ways some animals cope is by going into a state of overnight torpor. Torpor allows the animal to reduce its body temperature, rate of digestion and water balance so that it can keep its energy levels up and not freeze. Torpor is often undertaken by smaller organisms who cannot afford to stay inactive for long periods of time. An example of this is the Anna’s hummingbird, which at around three grams in weight, needs to eat and drink every day to stay alive. During overnight torpor, hummingbirds drop their heart rate from four hundred beats per minute to forty beats per minute. If that wasn’t amazing enough, they also reduce their body temperatures from 40 C to only a couple of degrees above their surroundings. When daybreak comes, they quickly warm up again and immediately start looking for food to replace what has been lost overnight.

While some animals go into overnight torpor, others go through a period of torpor for days at a time. A classic example is the American black bear. While many people think bears go into a period of hibernation — this isn’t actually true. Unlike the hummingbird and small mammals such as chipmunks, the bear’s body temperature in winter doesn’t drop. Instead, deep underground dens and a good layer of fat put on in the fall means bears can stay warm and can often go for significant periods undisturbed. Interestingly, bears do wake up regularly during the winter months. Female bears will wake up to give birth and tend their young throughout the winter.

True hibernation is only achieved by a few species and is characterized by signi ficant physical changes to the animal as well as often long periods of almost complete inactivity. At Wildwood, our neighbourhood little brown bat enters true hibernation. In the winter, the little brown bats congregate in the thousands in large caves to prevent individuals from freezing. Although bats do occasionally wake to drink and pass waste, they quickly return to their hibernated state.

So next time you put your woolly socks on and light the fi re, spare a thought for our woodland critters, who, whether it’s for a night, a few days, or weeks at a time, are doing their best to stay warm too!

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Bats in torpor. Photo: Splash

Gift Ideas for Nature Lovers

The perfect accompaniment for any outdoors adventure? A picnic backpack. Everything you need for noshing outdoors, even a blanket to spread out! All you have to do is visit your nearest deli, load up on freshly made salads and breads to put in the backpack and choose a beverage for the bottle holder. Choose the best view available and make magical memories with a loved one.

When you go picnicking, don’t forget to take a pair of binoculars, another practical gift for a Nature lover. This way you can study the ocean and the forest far away, and be delighted at what appears.

Birds like to nosh outdoors too, so they will relish fi nding a bird feeder or a bird bath in the garden. This is the ideal way to bring Nature closer. During the pandemic, I spent many happy hours watching birds splashing in my bird bath and hanging from the (squirrel proof!) feeder. This was followed by a family of juncos nesting in my flower baskets, making it challenging to water them but a joy to observe the hardworking parents flitting to and fro. The Backyard Wildbird and Nature Store (6314 Metral Drive, Nanaimo) is where you’ll fi nd every kind of bird food, bird feeder and nesting box (www.thebackyard.ca).

Wildwood is a 77-acre ecoforest nestled along the shores of Quennell Lake, just north of Ladysmith. On the third Sunday of each month, Wildwood offers guided tours where you can learn about the trees, wildlife, mosses and mushrooms that thrive in the forest. A gift certi ficate for one of these tours would make a welcome surprise for a Nature lover ($20/adult; $10/child; www.ecoforestry.ca).

There are many great books to choose from for a gift. One of our favourites is A Year on the Wild Side: A West Coast Naturalist’s Almanac, by the Salt Spring author and artist Briony Penn. Each of her entries is written with humour, charm and deep ecological insight. As well as being a delight to read, each is illustrated with one of Briony’s artistic gems, so endearing that YES has printed greeting cards as a fundraiser (see “Feeder Birds” example on this page). You can fi nd these unique Nature cards at Black Door Décor, Yellow Point Farms and at Champagne Hill Botanicals in Cedar or order them online at www.yellowpointecologicalsociety.ca.

Speaking of fungi, at this time of year the forests are full of them. The Royal BC Museum has published the wonderfully written and photographically illustrated Mushrooms of British Columbia, by Andy McKinnon and Kem Luther, who live in Metchosin. BC has more species of fungi than any other region in Canada, and this mycological treasure would be a great gift for any fungihunter.

Unplug from technology and plug in to Nature through the wonder of your senses. The Book of Nature Connection: 70 Sensory Activities for All Ages, by Jacob Rodenburg, makes a perfect resource for anyone wishing to stimulate children’s connections with the natural world. Invaluable for classroom teachers, parents and outdoor educators.

We‘re moving into winter, but come spring, the pollinators will be out seeking the native plants they love, ready to play their role in the cycle of life. Here in BC, there are over 450 species of bees alone, plus all the butter flies, moths, flies, wasps, beetles and hummingbirds, which act as pollinators. So here’s another gift idea: create your very own backyard pollinator paradise, using the Nanaimo Area Nature Trust’s Pollinator Toolkit. Fifty dollars will get you started at NALT’s Native Plant Nursery, near the airport (www.naltpollinatorproject. ca).

The best way to entice folks outdoors to interact with Nature is to gift them seeds to grow a food garden. Check out the seed racks appearing in your local garden centre now or treat your loved ones to IncrEdibles! open-pollinated seeds saved at Deep Roots Farm in Yel-

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low Point in 2022. Choose from some unique offerings: Crimson flowered broad beans, Brazilian snow peas or Blue Celeste Exhibition sweet peas. Available now at Yellow Point Farms store. Grab a copy of The Zero Mile Diet: A Year-Round Guide to Growing Organic Food (by me!) for any wannabe food grower in your life. You can’t buy more local than this!

Be sure to make time to put your boots on and go exploring in Nature. Happy holidays, from everyone from YES!

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Greeting Cards fundraiser for YES are inspired by A West Coast Naturalist’s Almanac, by author and artist Briony Penn.

Don’t Spill the Beans

This is an open letter to the world’s coffee producers, those of you using vacuum packed bags. First, congratulations are in order. You have done a wonderful job of providing us with a fresh product. What you haven’t done is make it easy to access that product. Keep in mind, most of us are faced with opening the bag while still half asleep. If you’ve ever tried to disarm a landmine in your pajamas, you’ll understand.

You’ve solved the freshness problem but totally ignored accessibility. This is like designing a plane that takes off but can’t land, a submarine that goes down but doesn’t come up. Packaging material is part of the problem. As far as I can determine, it’s some variety of impenetrable kryptonite foil, probably sourced from NASA. Drug dealers who can’t afford Kevlar use recycled coffee bags to make protective vests, which explains street names like Mocha Java Road or Kona Bud Boulevard.

I make these observations at 6:45 in the morning, with ground coffee on my hands, forearms and chest. Not to men-

tion on the floor and up my nose. The sound thumping down the hall is my wife, who has just been awakened by a wail of anger.

The ringing phone? Just our Neighbourhood Watch captain wondering if anyone was shot and, if not, would we pipe down.

To prevent this from happening again, I break a cardinal rule of my gender and read the bag for opening instructions. There, the roast master assures me that the coffee cherries were picked on ethical farms by pampered workers who laughed through most of their shift because they knew some old sucker would be wearing the coffee before long.

These same workers return home at night to large video collections of the world’s funniest videos, all featuring people trying to open vacuum-packed coffee, videos guaranteed to get Juan Valdez himself wetting his pants.

But mysteriously, there are no opening instructions. It’s every old guy for himself. Worse, there’s absolutely no warning to the consumer about potential hazards should certain personality types try to open a bag.

Stern warnings should be issued to: (a) people who have thrown a waffle iron, with sticking waffle, through a kitchen window; (b) anyone who has ever thought of urinating on his computer; and (c) those with the patience of a gerbil on crystal meth.

Common decency suggests that such types should never be allowed to open a coffee bag without a properly trained

emergency-response team in attendance, fully equipped with restraining devices, should they be required. Anger management counselors should also be deployed to protect coffee producers from retaliation.

Compounding the problem, coffee beans have feelings; they don’t want to be ground up. Worse, they have legs, and when liberated, they come sprinting out like a pack of convicts, seeking refuge in every dark corner of the house.

Fortunately, all this can be prevented using the proper opening technique. Which is why, with help from a team of engineers, I have developed an effective, if not sure-fire method to open a bag of coffee beans.

First, take the bag out to your shop and place it upside down in the vice. Upside down is important because it takes the beans by surprise. Hitting them where they least expect gives you that extra split-second to control the situation.

Next, and this is the important part, you must wear protective clothing and safety goggles. Coffee beans may be small, but they can be mean and lash out at you when you least suspect it. This is called “getting beaned.”

Use your smallest drill bit — keeping in mind that the bag will tear off like a rat if given a chance — to vent the bottom. Next, insert your tin snips into the hole and cut a two-and-a-half-inch X. While standing in a six-foot diameter kid’s swimming pool, carefully shake the beans into a regular coffee can. Keep a coal shovel handy if you miss the can.

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Here at Slightly Corked, we’re really big on emergency preparations. That means having an alternate source of coffee filters ready for active service should you run out of regular filters. We’ve had good luck with men’s underwear. That’s why we recommend keeping a clean pair of Stanfield’s in your emergency preparation kit, right next to the flashlight that doesn’t work. Size 34 fits well with your standard no. 4 filter, and makes an effective conversation starter for overnight guests.

Beware of Tempranillo

Once upon a time in Spain, I purchased a few lower-priced Tempranillos in a smallish mercado. Approximately 2-3 euros -- so only $3-5 CAD. Thin, lean, simple, and mean. Never again.

In BC we can fi nd these “entry level” Tempranillos in the $9-12 range; many often go on monthly sale at our BC (govt) Liquor Stores at $1-2 off

Buyer beware, most are not worth looking at in this lower price range.

Tempranillo is a fi nicky grape from Spain. It’s name is the diminutive of the Spanish “temprano”, meaning early, as it ripens about two weeks earlier than most other Spanish red varieties. It’s fi nicky because of it’s unique growing-climate needs. Despite the fact that it’s an early ripener, ironically perhaps Tempranillo needs warm-to-hot days to sugar-ripen, but requires very cool nights to retain su fficient balancing acidity, elegance, and aroma/flavour character. In northern Spain, we see these climates at mostly higher elevations, classically in the Rioja and better yet in the Ribera del Duero.

Back in Canada, start looking in the $12-15 price range, but this will still be hit-and-miss. Safer to start at $15, and hope for the best value wines from here to $30.

Salud! (and Buena Suerte)

Pick up a copy of Delbert’s Slightly Corked for some great reading. $20 at the Mahle House, and the TAKE 5 office. What a deal! Slightlycorkedandmore.wordpress.com

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Tempranillo grapes. Photo: Francisco Martinez Arias Flickr

Feeding the hungry

We hear about food banks, and perhaps some of us drop off cans or items, and we assume that magically somewhere the items are sorted and given to those who are in need, but if you are like me, do you really know about the process and what’s involved? Have you wondered where the bruised, not sellable food items go that are not purchased at the grocery store? Or what about the food from restaurants?

Most of us are very blessed to have the warmth of a home, food on the table and cash in our jeans to buy the things we need or want. For many, this is not the case. We saw some of the hardships during the two years of COVID, where folks lost their jobs, their lives turned upside down, some coming out of the pandemic better off and others not so much.

There is something about this time of year when we reflect, realize how fortunate we are and think how can we help others? It does not need to be huge — sure donating your time is awesome —

but if you don’t have time, you can help in other ways, and the food bank let’s us do just that!

Nanaimo

Loaves and Fishes Food Bank in Nanaimo got its start in the charity work with the people of St. Paul’s Anglican Church and Archdeacon David McKay. The work to create the independent charity of the Loaves and Fishes Food Bank Foundation was begun by Mr. Bill Purdy and Reverend Dawn Braithwaite in 1996. Currently, over 15,000 people in more than 30 communities across Vancouver Island benefit from the food Loaves and Fishes provides for free.

Over the years Loaves and Fishes has relied upon the efforts of many dedicated volunteers and staff members, and since 2008, they have opened 11 satellite depots, ensuring food is accessible throughout the community. In 2013, the hamper delivery program was started for people with medical mobility issues.

In August of 2012, the Food 4U Food Recovery program was launched and

became highly successful as they partnered with local grocery stores to ensure that perishable food that they normally threw out was instead directed to those who need it. This program has dramatically changed the way Loaves and Fishes delivers its services — by showing that there is an abundance of food available that doesn’t need to be wasted.

In 2011 (one year before the Food 4U program began), approximately $800,000 worth of food was sourced and distributed. In 2016, that changed to $3,000,000, and in 2021, it jumped to $6,500,000 worth of food. The increase is due to the Food 4U Food Recovery Program and their position as the National Food Sharing System Distribution Hub for all of Vancouver Island.

To their credit, Loaves and Fishes has been recognized as a provincial leader in food recovery, and as result, they were asked to help Food Banks BC develop their Food Recovery Guide to help other food banks in the province set up a food recovery program of their own.

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Loaves and Fishes Food 4U Food Recovery Program picks up surplus food from 26 food recovery partners in Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Nanoose and collects from 13 grocery partners seven days a week. They also accept pet food to distribute when available.

Food that does not meet Food Banks Canada standards is made available to local farmers or composted through local industrial composting facilities.

In 2021, over 2.4 million pounds of food valued at $6.5 million was distributed to people directly or via the over 100 Indigenous communities, other non-profits, food banks and schools they serve. Weekly deliveries to Chemainus Harvest Food Bank and Cowichan Neighbourhood House Soup Kitchen add up to 2,600 pounds of food valued at $6,500 per month. Weekly deliveries to the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association add up to 400 pounds valued at $1,000 per month.

Over 850,000 pounds of food valued at over $2.2 million was given to other organizations free of charge! In total, Loaves and Fishes drivers and trucks travel over 5,300 kilometres each month, keeping Vancouver Island supplied with free food.

During December, the Christmas Hamper Program is another service offered by Loaves and Fishes, and they are always in need of volunteers for the food sorting and preparation; distribution of Christmas and supplementary food hampers; and sorting of donated empties. Check out the site if you are interested (nanaimoloavesand fishes.org/ volunteers/christmas-volunteering/).

Chemainus

Harvest House Food Bank in Chemainus has been working with the 49th Parallel Grocery for many years in re-

covering their excess bread and buns. Since 2018, Kentucky Fried Chicken in Ladysmith has been providing their leftover chicken each day. All food safe protocols are maintained. In March of 2020, the local SPCA joined to help their clients’ furry friends, and in 2020, Harvest House partnered with Nanaimo Loaves and Fishes. They also partner with Chemainus Neighbourhood House, who make soups, preserves and homemade lunch items for their clients (chemainusharvesthouse.com).

Ladysmith

The Ladysmith Resource Centre Association currently supports more than 100 Ladysmith families each week. Their food bank is supported by donations from local businesses, the community, Loaves and Fishes, Food Banks BC, Food Bank Canada and the Province of BC. The food is then redistributed by the volunteers at the LRCA. On their website, they have a wish list for items that are most needed, and naturally, they will accept cash donations (www.lrca.ca/programs/food-security/ food-bank/).

“There is simply no reason for food to be going to waste while there are people in need who can use it, ” says Loaves and Fishes, Nanaimo.

Let’s all check our cupboards for donations or purchase an extra jar, tin or boxed item to drop off at our local food bank location not only in December — if you can, start your 2023 off by doing this each month, as there are continuous shortages, and a little effort by us can make a huge difference to a family in need. Stop by TAKE 5’s office, we have a box here for donations. Happy Holidays from our table to yours!

Got news? Email Elly info@take5.ca

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FOR SALE

FISH FISH FISH. Buy direct from the guy who caught it! High-quality salmon, lingcod, rock fi sh. All fi sh blast frozen at sea. Satisfaction guaranteed! Contact Jim at oceandancer. wallace@gmail.com or 250-245-5957/250-7391123.

FOR RENT

APARTMENT AVAILABLE. Downtown Ladysmith, newer 2nd fl oor, fully furnished, open concept design. Large master bedroom with queen, 10 ft. closets, linens and kitchen wares included. $1,795 per month, includes utilities. Call 604-880-2538.

BUSINESS

I CAN EDIT. Copy editing, proofreading, structural editing and more. Fiction or non fiction, web content and eBook prep. For more information, editican@gmail.com.

FARM FRESH

EMPRESS ACRES FARM. Pasture-raised pork ready for Christmas season; pork sides on sale at $4.90/lb, Comfort Food Boxes, hams, smoked chops, specialty sausages, bacon, ind. cuts, eggs and more at farm store; 2974 Haslam Rd.; www.empressacres. ca. Email marlene@empressacres.ca; or for sides & boxes, call or text Simon at 604-5780646.

GAMES & ACTIVITIES

DUPLICATE BRIDGE. Join us at the Cedar Heritage Centre, 1644 Macmillan Rd., Cedar; Tuesdays at 12:45pm. Cost $5. per session. Everyone welcome — come alone or with a partner. Info 250-390-3773.

TAKE 5 ads work. 250-245-7015.

HEALTH & WELLNESS

TAI CHI for mental & physical health. Beginner class Monday mornings. Ongoing class every Wednesday morning. For class time and location and more information, visit www.taichinanaimo. org or call Sara 250-245-1466.

HOME & YARD

KB HANDYMAN AND YARD WORKS. Minor carpentry work, decks, fences, power washing, tree pruning, yard clean up, lawn fertilizing, mowing. Seniors discount. Contact Karl kbhandymanandyardworks@ gmail.com or 250-714-2738.

HEART LAKE ROOFING. For all your roofing repairs; 250-668-9195.

QUALITY RENOVATIONS. Big or small. 25 years’ exp/journeyman, affordable. For free estimate, call Lars 250-616-1800.

ALL ACRES. Providing all aspects of tree work. Pruning, falling, hedging, dangerous tree removal. Fully insured. Professional work at reasonable rates. Call 250-246-1265.

MAKE IT NICE. Qualified, experienced, gardening and fruit tree pruning. Available for private, residential gardens. Please call 250-754-9346.

CONCRETE RESULTS. Foundations, retaining walls, patios, driveways, walks and stairs. Full forming and finishing. 40 years’ experience. Email Gord concreteresults@ live.com.

ART CLASSES

EXPERT FINE ART CLASSES. “My fine art practice makes me fully alive and gives my life meaning and purpose.” Is this what you want? If so, or visit www. strasbourgthomsponstudio.ca or call Barry at 250-210-2237.

PETS

PROFESSIONAL PET CARE SERVICE. “Leash ’em & walk ’em” with Marlena. I have Animal First Aid, CPR and criminal record check. My service for all pet includes dog walking, home care visits, overnight in your home and much more. As my love is yours! Call 250-246-9368.

THE PET NANNY is back. I have cared for animals for the last 7 years. I offer overnight care at your home or daily home visits for pets or home security. Email sburchard@hotmail.ca, call 250-924-8809.

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Seasoned Greetings

If we’re not meant to have midnight snacks, why is there a light in the fridge? — Unknown Author

Once again that magical time of the year is upon us. For many folks, Christmas and New Year’s is all about friends and family and ... FOOD, glorious food — my favourite four-letter word that starts with F.

Come to think of it, it appears to be the common denominator in all of life’s celebrations. Let’s name a few: Thanksgiving with turkey, stu ffing, mashed potatoes, squash and, the grand fi nale, pumpkin pie; then Christmas with more turkey, ham, Brussel sprouts. But here, my memories go wild ... mincemeat tarts, gingerbread cookies, gingerbread houses, butter tarts, haystacks, freezer cookies, and fruit cake that had been hidden from Dad’s grasp for the previous month, wrapped in brandy-laden cheesecloth.

My food addiction grew exponentially after leaving home and being in the company of a true Scotsman. Enter January’s birthday boy, the Bard Robbie Burns and the traditional feast of haggis, neeps

and tatties (that’s turnips and potatoes), culminating with delectable tri fle and shortbread. Doing some world travel enhanced my taste buds even more. All the di fferent countries with their special celebration meals drew me in like a moth to light, especially the sweet sweet light. If you’ve ever participated in Diwali, you know what I’m talking about ... I love Indian foods, but when it comes to the Mithai (sweets), I cannot get enough ... the milk fudge and the bur fi. As soon as we returned to Canada, I sussed out the closest East Indian deli and became a dedicated customer.

Recently, I had another birthday (yeah, it happens every year), and I was reminiscing about my mom, June, and how special she always made my (and my two sisters’) birthdays — we’re all Scorpios, born a year and a week apart. She was a consummate baker, so I come by my sweet tooth honestly. We always had dessert, that is if you cleaned your plate fi rst (no problem with that one!). It could be butter tarts, Chelsea buns, pies or any manner of cake. But I digress — the magic event: birthdays. For our parties, she would bake bread of all colour — blue, green, pink, purple — and make wee sandwiches with them. But it was that birthday cake that I remember the most; it was a money cake. She would wrap pennies, nickels, a few dimes and one quarter in waxed paper and stu ff the baked cake, then cover the whole thing with icing.

Humm, it does seem that for me all the year’s celebrations culminate in gastronomical delights. That’s the upside. And the downside? Four words, almost

like a mantra to me: bread basket, sugar thighs. Luckily Thanksgiving, Diwali, my birthday and Christmas all lead closely into New Year’s and the dreaded resolution conundrum. So, the question is, can I just wait for New Year’s to swear off breads and sugars? That gives me a month to savour the seasonal sweets while gathering my courage and resolve for 2023. Yes, it’s doable. Which means that I can do up a batch of my newest treat, an old recipe with a twist: a special mincemeat tart so easy and yummy that I’m going to share it with other like minds right now.

Bessie’s Christmas Freezer Tarts

Ingredients:

300 ml Eagle Brand condensed milk

1 cup sour cream

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 cup mincemeat

1/4 cup rum

20 tart shells

Recipe: Combine condensed milk with lemon juice. Fold in mincemeat, sour cream and rum. Spoon into baked shells and freeze. Remove 20 minutes before eating.

Well, I just eat them direct from the freezer!

*****

Jackie Moad is wishing all you TAKE 5 readers a happy, healthy and delicious holiday season, as she juggles baking and farming on that 20-acre slice of Paradise in Cedar, along with this post-script message: Dear New Year’s Resolution, Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Sincerely, January 2nd

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