Voice Special Report Thursday December 3 2009
Breakfast of Champions
A Critical Need
The Chilliwack General Hospital expansion fundraising campaign is roughly $23,500 better off today after the "Make It Happen Breakfast" at the Coast Hotel on Tuesday. The money is part of a final $600,000 needed for the $5 million that Fraser Valley Healthcare Foundation (FVHF), organizers pledged to the $30 million renovation project.
According to Wayne McAlpine, Director of the FVHF who was emcee at the affair, everyone involved is working hard to reach their goal. "We're having a campaign for healthcare excellence in Chilliwack," said McAlpine. "We're very close, at about $4.4 million and the last $600,000 is very hard to get, so we're having a number of events including this breakfast," said McAlpine and adding that "we're just getting wonderful support from the citizens of Chilliwack."
The redevelopment will come in three parts. Part 1: a New Emergency Department triple the size of the current facility, accommodating growth from 37,000 to 45,000 patient visits per year. Part 2: Expanding and Integrating the Ambulatory Care Department (Outpatient Services) which will shorten patient visits and wait times and; Part 3: Consolidating Laboratory Services and Diagnostic Imaging adjacent to the emergency and acute care departments by providing patients and physicians with more convenient access to these vital services.
As Chilliwack grows in population, the hospital project should reduce gridlock in ER rooms. According to the Excellence in Healthcare website, the ER at CGH has a new patient every 6 minutes which comes out to about 37,000/year. Projected numbers indicate that by 2016 the number of visits will jump to 45,000/year. The hospital will serve citizens in outlying areas like Hope and Boston Bar as well.
Bracing against the frosty morning, Coast Hotel employees John Fiorini and Julia Horn huddled under a portable propane heater and poured Starbucks coffee for commuters at the makeshift drive-thru in front of the hotel. "It's slowly starting to pickup this morning," said Fiorini, who has been working for Coast Hotels for about 3 years.
Tess Lojstrup and Carlo Villanueva with the Filipino Association of Chilliwack were at the breakfast to present a cheque from their own fundraising activities for $500. Approximately 250 members raised $2600 and the group decided to give $500 to the CGH redevelopment project. The balance of the money raised will be going to those people affected because some members had family affected by severe flooding after typhoons hit the island chain.
"We are donating some money because we had fundraising November 7th and part of that will go to the Chilliwack Hospital. We went to the hospital and asked them where and when we could give the donation. We got $2600 from the fundraising and so we are giving $500 to the hospital."
Mayor Sharon Gaetz addressed the diners and indicated that they are nearing the $5 million mark. "We are so close to reaching our goal and we are absolutely thrilled with the response today so thank you very much for coming," said Mayor Gaetz.
Chilliwack Bruins defenseman, Brandon Manning, was wearing the mascot outfit and busy getting people pumped. "It's a good situation here to come and help out," said Manning. "We also do Books for Bruins where all the kids get tickets to the game and we sign autographs and hang out." Manning said that they also work with the Salvation Army every Monday also helping out at the Ann Davis Transition House and Meals on Wheels.
The Chilliwack Senior Secondary hand bell choir "Jubilation" were on hand to ring in the morning with their unique type of music.
89.5 The Hawk Radio's Glen and Sadie were live on location and spent the morning interviewing people involved with the Campaign for Health Care Excellence.
Food was donated by the Coast Hotel and prepared by Executive Chef Tony Crisafi. Door prizes of $50 gift certificates for Preston's restaurant at the hotel and passes to events in 2010 from the Chilliwack Community Arts Council were drawn throughout the morning.
Sponsors of the "Make It Happen for Health Breakfast"
Coast Chilliwack Hotel
The Chilliwack Progress
89.5 The Hawk
Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation
The City of Chilliwack
The Chilliwack Bruins
Downtown Chilliwack BIA
The Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce
Save On Foods
Donations can be made at the website: www.ilovecgh.com or by calling: 604-701-4051
For the photo gallery go here
© Copyright (c) The Valley Voice
Voice Special Report Monday November 30 2009
Kids Caught In The Crossfire
Closure At Hospital Seen As Shortsighted
New Health Contact Centre Will Help
When adults are broken and falling to pieces there are others willing to help work to put them back together. When a kid becomes addicted to drugs who is there to help? It becomes society's problem because the kid generally turns to petty crime or prostitution to support their habit. Many end up in jail while others have their young lives abbreviated.
Chilliwack was dealt a serious blow to it's drug addiction services at CGH last week for both adults and youth when the Fraser Health Authority (FHA) announced plans to close the detox unit's 10 withdrawal beds and move them to Creekside Withdrawal Management Unit in Surrey. It made the move as a cost-cutting measure in an effort to tame their massive budget overrun which could be as much as $160 million. With the cuts in place that whopper might be down to about $10 million.
The savings from the closures will be reinvested into home detox services in communities in the Fraser Valley and used for transportation for clients who need to travel to Surrey. Home detox will also be available as a viable and preferred option for some some addicts who don't want to be displaced and away from their personal support networks of family and friends.
Fraser Health is also spending on increased access to a Stabilization and Transitional Living Residences in Fraser East for homeless clients who need a safe and stable environment to detox and then get into ongoing rehab programs at Queen’s
Park Care Centre (QPCC) which will close Creekside Withdrawal Management Unit in Surrey.
in a month on December 31.
The detox closure in Chilliwack came as a surprise to most because addiction isn't going to go away and in fact the system should be bracing for more damage control not shifting it's responsibilities to other jurisdictions.
Chilliwack's addicted kids need to know that they have support mechanisms in place so it's there when they are ready to seek help. Addicted youth need local specialized medical treatment and rehabilitation programs that offer more than just the promise of help or it will just be a revolving door and instead of saving money, which is the point of the closure, the system will more than likely see a surge in demand for resources as addicts leave and come back repeatedly.
In closing the facility, the FHA seems to be oblivious to the perils facing addicted youth and the people doing the budget snipping are not doing the community a favour by closing the unit. As long as drugs are dealt with as a criminal activity and not treated as a medical condition then barriers to health programs will continue to be thrown up to those in the community who need them.
If you've ever watched someone doing "the chicken" (convulse and have seizures) then you'll know that drug treatment is in fact a healthcare issue.
Some people object to detox treatment saying it's the addicts fault and taxpayers shouldn't be forced to foot the bill. The same ones who should also object to tax dollars being spent on smokers lung cancer treatment, sports injuries or even type 2 diabetes, which like drugs, are all lifestyle choices.
The Pacific Community Resource Society works on the frontlines with drug addicts. They have 2 youth and 2 adult outreach workers plus an HIV-AIDS prevention outreach staffer in Chilliwack. The agency provides special education, employment and
addiction counseling, prevention services, housing
search support and cultural enrichment services for children, youth, adults
According to the PCRS website, their vision is to be "committed to community-based research, advocacy and community development to identify service gaps and strategies to address social problems such as poverty, child abuse, mental health, substance abuse, violence and homelessness."
PCRS Addictions Manager for Chilliwack, Tom Heatherington, says difficulties will arise with service delivery because of the detox closure for the 200 youths and families they provide intervention services to every year. "There will be some impact for youth in the Eastern Fraser Valley seeking detox," he said. "There are not many of these youth at any one time, less than 2% of the intakes, however this is a step backwards in the development of local continuum of youth care."
Heatherington said the new FHA plan would see a reinvestment "in a home/mobile detox program and within that program provide transportation to youth and adults to Creekside."
As far as program cancellation is concerned, Heatherington doesn't see a lot of that happening to youth services here. The "immediate organizational impact will not be great as we don’t provide residential youth addiction services." But he is interested in how the cutbacks will effect staff working in the trenches. " I am curious however, in spite of Fraser Health plans, what the impact may be on existing outreach workers," he said.
PCRS outreach workers provide counseling, advice, support, clean needles and educate about programs available to youth addicts.
Relocating youth into the Creekside program might not be as easy as one thinks because "as minors they need a lot regulated services, licensing etc. and therefore setting up youth resources can be more difficult (and/or) expensive and requires Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD) involvement," said Heatherington. "Hence, the justification for FHA reinvestment in home detox and MCFD will need to be approached to provide residential care for youth not in safe environments for home detox to be comprehensive." and adding that "I am not sure to what degree MCFD has been involved in planning."
As an alternative to residential detox, the "Daytox" program was established as a medically monitored, non-residential form of out-patient detox care which is tailored for more stable clients who do not require intensive residential withdrawal management services and who have a "safe, supportive living environment. "The program provides an alternative support option to detox or hospitalization and they also support assessment, individual and group counseling, psycho-educational groups, acupuncture and other alternate therapies, as well as medical management for clients on supervised prescription withdrawal protocols. The Daytox program was created through capital funding of $387,000 and has an annual operating budget of $525,000.
Heatherington says that people can drop-in to the Addictions and Detox clinic which they operate but they need an appointment for any one-on-one counseling.
Currently in the works for Chilliwack is a "Health Contact Centre" where people can go for help with addictions and mental health issues. PCRS is one of the main partners in the project. "We have been actively promoting this concept for four years and we are the designated as the lead agency in this initiative" said Heatherington. "The exact nature of our role is under negotiation."
Heatherington feels that the drug problem in the Valley is bad now. Youth alcohol and drug related problems are rampant throughout the region. "Accurate statistics are difficult to obtain. We do know that early intervention speeds up the time that people live in addiction," he said.
For more information visit the PCRS website: www.pcrs.ca
© Copyright (c) The Valley Voice
Chilliwack November 2009 Archives
Voice News Wednesday November 11 2009
City Hall Has It's 2009
Chilliwack City Hall has selected a winner of it's Christmas card design contest. (See also "Christmas In October" Voice report from October 25th.)
The chosen card has some modern elements as well as some nostalgia woven into the design depicting downtown Chilliwack at Five Corners and also featuring the clock tower, the Paramount Theatre neon sign and traffic on Yale Rd.
The card's designer is local artist, Randy Lamont, a 42-year old Multimedia Specialist who was born and educated in Surrey, BC and later moved to Chilliwack in 2002. Lamont is involved in volunteer work for a local church which includes short mission trips. Currently he works creating websites and multimedia presentations for local clients and organizations. He also enjoys all types of music including Zydeco and Big Band. Lamont is known to have a good sense of humor and can always be found making light of any situation.
See "May the best card win" below for related story.
© Copyright (c) The Valley Voice
Voice Editorial Saturday November 21 2009
Second Class Citizenry
From Poor Corporate Citizen to Poor Citizen In One Fell Swoop
Local businessman fails to make good
Car wrecked in City Hall parking lot.
"With a mighty swing of his sword heathen heads did roll." This should be the new slogan for Mat Ball, Owner/President of Johnston Meat Packers in Chilliwack. An odd thing happened at City Hall the other day. I was there to cover the Kids & Cake event for National Child Day and later stayed over for the council meeting.
At about 4 pm I left the
building, got in my car which was parked in the lot in the front and backed
up to leave. At the same time Ball had been at the council meeting regarding
his company's problems dealing with sewage discharges.
Ball had left council chambers 10 or 15 minutes earlier and was still sitting in his truck yattering on his cel phone when I got in my car to leave. I backed up and for some reason Ball decided to back up his big black GM Sierra Tonka toy at the same time. He didn't back up far enough and I couldn't back up because he was there so I tried instead to make the turn to come around and exit the lot.
My turn fell short without any room ahead because of the curb and I turned around to look behind me to back up and try it again when Ball zoomed forward in his pickup. He probably thought that I had already exited but all I could do was watch him smash into the rear of my car.
Here we are in the City Hall
parking lot playing smash-up derby. In the pouring rain. My day began early
and at that point I just wanted to get home.
Ball got out of his truck and we exchanged information. There was no damage to his truck. His bumper was almost in my rear view window at impact. It has been 30 years since I've had to go through an accident claim with ICBC and was quite naive about the whole process.
At any rate while standing on the steps, Ball repeatedly said he was "sorry" and also added that "we'll get your car fixed right away."
I asked him what he planned on doing about my car and he asked me if I had heard of a certain auto body shop to which I answered I hadn't. Then he asked me if I wanted to follow him over there and have his pal look at the damage. At this point I just want this to go away and want my car fixed so I followed. His auto body pal gave an estimate to Ball and I like I have something to do with paying for it.
My not-so-beloved car has been maintained for many years now. It's getting on in age and is older than many of the Voice's readers and hence requires more maintenance. I've poured money into it and sometimes every cent I have to keep the old wheels turning.
I took it into ICBC after booking an appointment and was told by an adjuster there that the car was a write-off. This came as a shock because I had kept the car in good shape and the damage didn't seem to be too bad even though the trunk was smashed and bent and I can't get into it and the lights are all bashed and smashed. The adjuster even mentioned that the car was one of the better maintained cars like it on the road.
Two or three days later I got a call from ICBC and they came up with a figure for the car. Of course it was far less than I thought the car was worth given the work done to it recently but without collision on the car, what was I to do?
I told ICBC I'd let them know and hung up. A few minutes later they called back to say that the other party was denying liability for the accident.
This came as a shock as you can well imagine because the guy had already apologized to me several times for slamming into my car. The whole event has been a disruption in my life and he had ruined my car. Then I find out that this Ball character, is lying about what happened. A fine upstanding citizen, right? Right.
It's unreal and the more I think about it the more absurd it becomes. I wonder how many times in the past Ball has taken people in tow with smashed vehicles to auto body buddy?
The honest and decent thing to do from the start was to ensure that my car was fixed. He told me at the scene that he gets one bump for free because he's such a good driver and later said he was going to take the hit on his insurance probably because it was cheaper than paying his buddy to fix my car.
So he took off my finger and now he is chomping at my elbow.
If Ball were such a good driver then he would put down the cel phone and pay more attention to the road instead. It's bad enough that his pathetic and dangerous driving caused an accident in a parking lot let alone the bloody City Hall lot. What if it were a kid he ran over instead? There were plenty of children there that day because of the Kids & Cake event. He should be ticketed for driving with undue care and attention.
What makes this intolerable is his lying about it and so now all of a sudden it's my fault and its going to go on my record and against my insurance?
Here we have one of the worst corporate citizens now being one of the worst citizens. He gets a huge break and is treated fairly by the city and almost in the same motion slashes and burns me. This guy is bad news. If Ball would lie about an accident that cost a few hundred dollars, then would he lie about something that affects his business worth a million dollars? Take a guess.
Instead of owning up to slamming into my car, Ball is a liar and apparently a scammer. To Matthew Ball I say; So sue me already. You've already ruined my life as much as you can and it's nothing a semi truck hasn't done already.
Update: Apparently Mr. Ball reconsidered his responsibility and owned up to the damage. Case closed.
© Copyright (c) The Valley Voice
Voice H1N1 Report Monday November 16 2009
H1N1 Clinic Wraps Up Round one
Chilliwack Caught Up
Photos Craig Hill/Voice
Lineups at the Chilliwack Flu Clinic were non-existent Monday as workers finish the vaccine clinics for children, caregivers and seniors. Later that list was expanded to included teenagers up to18-years old and first responders like police officers, firemen and ambulance attendants.
It looks like Chilliwack is all caught up in the first round of vaccinations which was expanded to include teenagers up to 18-years old and first responders such as the police, fire and ambulance attendants.
The H1N1 Flu Clinic Monday at the Landing was almost devoid of people and in complete contrast to last Friday where orderly chaos and long lineups faced people wanting shots. Zero waiting was a good indicator that most people at the top of the list for vaccinations got theirs.
Part-time volunteer Nancy was assisting people at the door and wasn't surprised to see such light traffic for the clinic.
"It looks like we got most of them on Friday," she told the Voice Monday.
There is no word yet when the H1N1 vaccine will be available to the general population but there will be night clinics to make it easier for people to access the inoculations.
© Copyright (c) The Valley Voice
Voice Report Friday November 13 2009
Chamber In Brief
Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce
An Update With Lisa Caruth
Lisa Caruth spoke recently on local radio station StarFm regarding news from the CCC. The following excerpts are from that interview.
On The Chilliwack Business Excellence
The nomination process is now closed. We've got well over 100 nominees and some of those nominees have been nominated up 15 times, so it has been a banner year. We have 20 committees together all chaired by members of our board and they look at each individual category and scour over the applications of the nomination forms that we've received back and now they are into the interview process. We don't take this (process) lightly. This is quite something. This is the event of the year and the Chamber takes it very seriously as do our members.
I'm looking forward to January 23rd. It's going to be unbelievable this year. Tickets are on sale at our website at www.chilliwackchamber.com
or you can stop by our office on
On Casual Connections Networking Luncheons
The next lunch is Tuesday, November 17th at the Coast Hotel from 5 pm to 8 pm. Come on down. It's a business mix so everyone is welcome. yeah, come on down and have something to eat and mix and mingle with other business owners in Chilliwack. This particular event is sponsored by Setco (sp).
On the Community Update at the Coast Hotel
Mayor Sharon Gaetz is going to be giving a "Community Update" at the Coast Hotel November 24th from noon until about 1:30 pm. Tickets are on sale on our website as well. So if you're interested in finding out what's going on in our community, come on down and listen to Mayor Gaetz.
On the business Community outlook in Chilliwack
Businesses are very excited about what's going on (at Christmas). We're stepping up into a really high spending time of the year and everyone is getting prepped up and ready to go. Our Chamber Report newspaper has just put out a special "Advertising Guideline Price Sheet." It's for members only so if you're interested in becoming a member of the chamber you can get some great, great deals on advertising in the Chamber Report and it's a nice way to showcase your business and what you have to offer people.
For membership information you can call Lisa's direct line: 604-793-4326
Voice Art Report Thursday November 19 2009
The Artsy Side of Chilliwack
"All Aspects Of The Soul"
The thunder of hooves at City Hall
Craig Hill/Voice photo
Stephen Man-Fai Cheng's detailed oil painting of stampeding horses on display in the City Hall art gallery. His show 'All Aspects of the Soul' which features many paintings by Cheng will available for public viewing until December 31 2009.
"When I start painting it is like a new discovery for me, with each picture taking on it's own unique personality and soul". Stephen Cheng paints portraits, horses and flowers, applying a variety of techniques.
Voice Report Thursday November 26 2009
Spreading the warmth of the
holidays to Chilliwack's less fortunate
15th Annual Realtor Blanket Drive Staff writer
If you were to ask the Dalai Lama what the meaning of life is, he would tell you that "The meaning of life is to try and make other people's lives and creatures lives better" and a group of Chilliwack realtors will be doing just that.
From November 30th to December
7th Chilliwack realtors will be accepting donations of new and gently used
blankets and winter clothing at their offices around town to assist local
As the temperatures dip this winter, those people exposed to the elements will be reaching out to the community for help.
Local realtor and Chilliwack native, Mark Anderson, is coordinating this year's drive is familiar with the needs of the city's homeless. "We have a real need." said Anderson. "Just in our community alone we have close to 200 people who either live on the street or are fairly close to living on the street that just can't afford to pay rent and buy some of the necessities they need to stay warm." Realtor Mark Anderson.
Last year 500 bags of donations were handled by the group and that was just enough to get through to the warmer months.
"Supplies ran out last year just at the start of summer which was perfect," he said. "We went into the warm weather and a lot of the stuff was not needed. So now we need to replenish the stores of our community partners."
The drive is not just for homeless adults but it's aim is also to help kids living in poverty, assist the working poor, disabled parents and single parent families. According to stats from Campaign 2000, BC has the highest rate of child poverty in Canada at 18.8% this year which is well above the national rate.
"Kids are the silent ones that suffer in our community." said Anderson. "We often see kids coming to school with without jackets and we need to look after them as well. Any ages we'll take it all.
If you have any blankets, sleeping bags, winter coats, warm clothing, scarves, hats, gloves, hoodies, sweatshirts, new socks and underwear for both adults and children then you can drop it off at realtor's offices around Chilliwack until December 7th.
Drop-off Locations in the Upper Fraser Valley
101-8615 Young Rd.
Royal LePage 8 - 8337 Young Rd.
HomeLife 8387 Young Rd.
RE/MAX 1 - 7300 Vedder Rd.
Landmark 100 - 7134 Vedder Rd.
Stratatech 7105-B Vedder Rd.
RE/MAX 2 - 1824 No. 9 Hwy. Agassiz
RE/MAX 366A Wallace St. Hope
© Copyright (c) The Valley Voice
Voice Special Report Friday November 6 2009
A Wordsmith Beckons
Kinsella Sells At The Bookman
If He Reads It, They Will Come
by Craig Hill/Voice
photo by Craig Hill
W.P. Kinsella, author of Shoeless Joe, which was later made into the movie "Field Of Dreams", visited the Bookman on Friday for a reading.
W.P. Kinsella made an appearance at The Bookman on Wellington Ave. Friday night for readings from a selection of his stories. And for just under an hour, Kinsella, complete with gesticulations, read to about 30 people.
Even though Yale is no Walden Pond, Kinsella has been described as a bit of a Henry David Thoreau now living in an isolated area there but he still makes it in to Chilliwack to play scrabble at Glad Tidings Church on Thursday nights.
The mark of a great writer is one that can make the reader smell and taste things. See, hear and feel what he wants them to. Kinsella talked about a romance between a pair of old buses in Texas. "Buses are only as good as their last tune-up," he said. "He was a greyhound. Strong and virile. Rear diesel, halogen headlights. A cavernous luggage compartment. In his younger days he traveled to India in search of wisdom and universal truth. He found nothing existential about having boxes of live chickens roped to his roof. Cloven-hoofed goats soiled his plush upholstery. Even now in the desert in his declining years he waits to start in the night, the odor of goats and curry fresh to his senses."
In another abbreviated story called "The Job", he deftly puts the reader into an oily, stinky motorcycle shop. "The building was in the warehouse district. Brick long ago painted white. Paint freckled now and curling like untended fingernails. The door said merely 'Personnel.' No company name. The ad in the newspaper read 'Person with driver's license' followed by the address. Inside, the building was like a hangar. Three stories high with windows at the second and third levels suffering from occasional broken panes. In the ceiling were skylights muffled by years of cobwebs. The whole place smelled of oil and bird droppings."
His readings were interspersed
with humor. For example he was talking about alcohol and described one
type as "logging-boot-to-the-head".
I must admit that I am not big on sports books of any sort and have never read more than a few pages of Shoeless Joe, however I was thrilled to meet Kinsella. Later on in the evening I had a chance to ask him if he would sign an old Shoeless Joe book I had and he did so graciously. It had been kicking around gathering dust and hadn't been opened in many years.
The old dog-eared paperback copy is special in that it was given to me by Randy Greenwood, a fan of Kinsella's and lifelong pal of mine, who killed himself a couple of years ago. It was a moment I wished my old friend was around for.
Thinking that the Kinsella got his start someplace, I pounced on the opportunity to ask if he was interested in reading a pilot I'd written for a TV miniseries about the gold rush. "I wrote this and am wondering if you'd be interested in having a look at it," I said while thrusting the enveloped disk into his slender hand. It became clear in that moment that I wasn't just there for his reading and the mood suddenly shifted to a more austere one. He recoiled, promptly shoving it back at me. "I don't know anything about screenwriting nor do I know anyone in the television business. I work alone and don't collaborate," he said from beneath glowering eyebrows.
'Well, so much for that idea and
the networking opportunity,' I said to myself.
After the reading he flogged some of his books to an adoring crowd for a flat $10 each. A nice price for some good reading. Judging from the pile of bills on the table his fans were of the generous sort and also avid readers of Kinsella's work. He scraped the money up from the card table and stuffed it into his pocket.
Delicious coffee was courtesy of the Bookman and scrumptious pastries were provided by Adrian and Louise of Birdies Bakery on Mill Street. Mrs. Short of The Bookman said Birdies baking is "heavenly" (and I'll vouch for that) and she encourages people to drop in and try some of their treats. Birdies is located at 9371 Mill Street. For catering enquiries call (604) 793-1993
© Copyright (c) The Valley Voice
Voice Report Monday November 2 2009
Around And Around We Grow
Evans Rd. Roundabout Overpass Opens Craig Hill/Voice
CHILLIWACK – Despite monsoon-like weather last Friday government officials, city councilors, residents and media gathered to celebrate and witness the opening of the new Evans Road connector and roundabout. People huddled together under two large white canopies set up on the bridge deck while the Fraser-Cheam Pipe Band and a dozen vintage automobiles waited to make the first crossings.
There was a lot to celebrate on the
$48M overpass not only because
the ramp is now open but also due to the project being completed on budget and months ahead of schedule.
Standing near the newly planted grass and perfectly painted lines, Mayor Sharon Gaetz opened the ceremony by sharing her appreciation the overpass is finished and ready.
"This transportation project was first formed in the minds of people in 1982 in our official community plan. And of course because this is an expensive and complicated project its taken this 27-years to come to fruition," she said. "It's a dream that has been long awaited and we're just so excited to be here today. 27-years after, it's complete and
ready for traffic this
Honourable Chuck Strahl, MP Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon and Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs was on the overpass Friday and told the Voice that he was pleased to see the road open.
"It's going to be great for transportation and traffic flow and so on in Chilliwack but it's also a great thing for the development for the First Nations on the north side," he said. "Whenever I see that happen in my ministry I am delighted and like to see business development and jobs and this is
going to help make that happen."
The north side is ideally suited for development and Strahl is optimistic about the future of the band's land.
"First Nations is making decisions on their own involving government money in my ministry because its such an ideal location for commercial, light industrial and residential options that wouldn't have been available otherwise. Good on them and I look forward to seeing what they've got coming for us."
Member of the Legislative Assembly representing Chilliwack John Les was also on hand for the opening and was equally enthusiastic about the project. He also had some had some interesting historical facts regarding the original road.
"It's a thrill to be here, as I was sort of reflecting on what this means today. You know the point to remember is that this is not the first time that there has been a crossing at Evans Road, the highway was built back in the 1950s and there was actually a level crossing here and that level crossing stayed open until I believe it was 1969 when the Lickman Road overpass was put in to place. At that point a decision was made that the crossing was no longer needed," said Les.
"But of course time moves on and Chilliwack has grown over the years and we're now at a place where this is a very important piece of infrastructure, that Chuck has pointed out, is going to open up some industrial land to the north of us here but also allow traffic to flow from the west side of the downtown area more easily to the freeway and into the Sardis area and of course this provides a very great link to the university campus that we're developing at the Canada Education Park."
The first group to lead the procession after the ribbon was cut were the Fraser-Cheam Pipe Band followed by a small contingent of vintage cars in which council members rode in.
For the full transcript of Mayor Sharon Gaetz's speech
and photo gallery go
© Copyright (c) The Valley Voice
Voice Breaking News Tuesday November 24 2009
Vedder CFB Fire
Fire Burns Abandoned Buildings on Ex-Chilliwack Force Base Craig Hill/Voice
Fire broke out early Tuesday morning in a large abandoned building on the closed Chilliwack Forces Base before spreading to adjacent structures in the middle of demolition. The four-alarm blaze had Vedder Rd. closed in both direction for hours. Dozens of firemen attended to the burning structures while police set up traffic control on streets surrounding the scene. No injuries were reported.
Police are treating the fire as suspicious and say it may have been ignited by metal thieves and scavengers. Cpl. Lea-Anne Dunlop said they had problems with metal scavengers in the past.
"Police have received a number of complaints while the building was in the demolition stage of break-ins to steal wire and other items from the site," said Dunlop.
Gas and electricity had previously been cut off to the building. All drywall had been stripped out so the fire traveled quickly.
Police are asking anyone that witnesses suspicious activity, or anyone coming or going from the property in the overnight and early morning hours, to call the Chilliwack RCMP at 604-792-4611.
For more photos of this go here.
© Copyright (c) The Valley Voice
Voice Special Report Friday November 13 2009 Memorial Day Services
From Boy Scouts to
CHILLWACK – The rain stopped suddenly and the sun's yellow fingers poked through a gray blanket overhead giving a much needed break Wednesday to hundreds of service people, wreath dedicators and spectators who gathered for Memorial Day services at the newly rededicated cenotaph in All Sapper's Memorial Park.
The park located at Garrison Crossing (Vedder and Keith Wilson), recently underwent a $1.5M renovation and buried in it's heart is the unifying force of a 42-ton engraved granite obelisk which was barged in from Harrison Lake 22 miles away.
Every type of service uniform imaginable under the Canadian flag was represented there and backed by hundreds of local residents who took a chance on the weather and advantage of the national holiday to witness the first service in the re-vamped park.
BC's history has been written in part through many efforts from Royal Sapper Engineers who first created engineering spectacles like the Cariboo Road in 1865 and who also averted a possible American takeover from troops stationed just over the border in Washington in 1858 when Governor James Douglas sent 22 Sappers to Yale in a successful effort to quell anti-British riots, later dubbed "The Fraser River War."
Brigadier General Bjornsen spoke to the crowd thanking them for sharing their appreciation of Canadian soldiers past and present. "Thank you all for coming here today and showing your support for our veterans Canadian Forces to all those who have served, and to all those who have laid down their lives for our country, for all those who served and continue to serve our country in wars of the previous century and this present century," he said. "I am glad to see that all across this country, in particular here in Chilliwack, home to many in the military community and the citizens of Canada continue to wholeheartedly support and embrace our veterans. Thank you."
For the Voice Photo Gallery of the Memorial Day Ceremony go here
© Copyright (c) The Valley Voice
Voice Report Friday November 27 2009
Local people making big differences
Skowkale Hatchery 2009 salmon release. Voice file photo.
CHILLIWACK – Bryan Foster is trying to save fish by making them his own. Foster is entering his Adopt-a-Fish project idea in the Aviva Community Fund competition. His project is in the "Preserve the Environment" category.
The contest is giving people an opportunity to present their idea that will "create a lasting change in the community." The most popular ideas, as voted on by Canadians, will have a chance at sharing in the $500,000 Aviva Community Fund.
There will be 3 opening rounds where people enter their ideas and vote on their favorites. The 20 top ideas from each round are selected to move on to the semi-finals where 62 finalists will compete with their project. Idea's not picked are put back in the hat to be voted on again for two more chances to win. The competition closes to new entries on November 29th, 2009
Foster is looking for under $10,000 to start a website designed to educate.
"Our Pacific salmon are disappearing at an alarming rate, but you can help," he said.
The project proposal is being partnered with the Chilliwack School District, Skowkale First Nation, Department of Fisheries & Oceans, and City of Chilliwack partnership known as SHREP (Skowkale Hatchery Revitalization and Education Project) young Coho salmon are raised Alternate Education students at the hatchery and released into the wild in an effort to increase the ever-dwindling salmon populations along the BC coast.
"We plan to use awarded funds to transport students to/from the hatchery daily and create a website complete with informational text and interactive graphics on the life cycle and plight of Pacific salmon. An optional 'adopt-a-fish' web-based sign-up feature will provide users with a series of automated time-response emails about the development of their 'adopted' fish from the fertilized egg stage to fry," said Foster on his contest page.
April 22 is Earth Day and the Skowkale Hatchery at 7450 Chilliwack River Road will release 'adopted' salmon fry in the Little Chilliwack River. How many fry will make it back as adults to spawn in the Little Chilliwack River in 2 1/2 years' time? Play the 'Wheel of Life' game to determine the possible fate of your adopted salmon!
Increase your awareness - Watch! Learn! Take Action!
Vote online for this idea: http://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf4300
© Copyright (c) The Valley Voice
Voice Report Friday November 20 2009
Poor Corporate Neighbors
Johnston's Meat Packers Operated Above The Law For Decades Before Being Caught
By Craig Hill/Voice
Something really smells bad in
Sardis at Station 39 on Wells Rd. A high-strength (industrial) sewage coming
directly from Johnston's Meat Packers on Promontory has been overwhelming
sewer line capacity and causing noxious and poisonous odors in the sleepy
neighborhood around the pump station.
Last July city staff were mystified about where a smell and high-strength sewage discharge was coming from and it was only and after extensive testing that they found the culprit.
On Monday city council wasted no time in disregarding staff recommendations and let Johnston's off the meat hook voting in favor of waiving over $8000 in monthly fees charged to Johnston's as part of a cost recovery effort due to extra maintenance and treatment costs assumed by the city.
A small price to pay considering Johnston Meat Packers has been flagrantly dumping it's effluvium onto Sardis from it's location on Promontory Rd. for decades. Each year Johnston's continues pollute with high-strength sewage it costs the city an additional $2500 more than the previous year due to cost increases.
Why would city council waive fees that they must incur anyway? They should be trying to do a cost recovery as staff suggested. The city's budget has no room to deal with Johnston's greasy waste while the company plays stupid and stalls for time. Or does the city's budget have that much wriggle room? The extra money has to come from someplace. Taxpayers.
Johnston's has also been a major hog of the sewer lines by reducing the sewer capacity to other areas simply because their outflow volume is so large. Business must be booming up there.
A slide presentation was given so that council fully understood the extent of the problem. No mention that the stuff is a bio waste soup which makes it a bio hazard which is when things like Avian Influenza virus, H1N1, tuberculosis, cholera, malaria and hundreds of other microorganisms happen. The problem here needs to be dealt with effectively at it's source.
Originally, way back in August 2009, the company was given a waste discharge permit and charged the treatment fee to help solve the problem of maintenance and gave them until March 2010 to hire a consultant, design and then install an internal pre-treatment facility at the hillside plant which might cost up to $1M according to the company.
So for nearly 50 years, Johnston Meat Packers has been getting a free ride at the city's expense and homeowners are forced to breathe toxic odors and gasses.
The young Matthew Ball, who had the reins to the company passed to him from his father Don a couple of years ago, came back to City Hall with hat in hand asking for the treatment fees to be waived saying the company couldn't afford it. Johnston's also have retail outlets selling their products and earning more than just chump change.
According to a recent Hawk radio report, Ball said he was not prepared to deal with City Hall about plans to be charged the fee and was quoted as saying that he "would have liked to have found out sooner." Records show the company was notified back on Sept 25th of the city's intent.
Ball was also quick to point out "It's not raw waste going into the sewer system, but (raw) waste water." These comments from Ball obviously aim to soft-pedal the community and attempt to make the slurry and the stink more benign than if they were churning out raw solids into the sewer system.
Ball also admitted to knowing very little about pre-treatment technology which makes the company even more negligent when it comes to environmental concerns and sound waste management practices. Barefoot Hillbilly management comes to mind with this type of mentality going on.
With a 3-second google search this popped up on top:
For Ball to plead ignorance of
pre-treatment systems as he did in the Hawk Radio news items is a slap in
the face to the community.
Additionally, Ball conveniently forgot to make mention of the city's lab results which showed each of the 3 different tests were off the map in comparison to bylaw regulations. In fact in two of those tests of Johnston's discharges into the local sewers were 10 times the allowable limits.
So since 1964, the proud establishment of Johnston Meat Packers who have made countless dollars here in Chilliwack, have operated above the law as industrial polluters up there on Promontory. They were only caught by accident due to diligent city staff and modernized equipment used to locate such discharges.
Ironically, because Johnston's is flushing such a massive amount of effluent down the hill it's forcing a $6.5m expansion of the waste treatment facility in Chilliwack years earlier than planned. According to the report, if it wasn't for the meat packers waste, the project slated for 2014 could be deferred for another 5 to 7 years which would cause less stress on the city's financial resources when stretched out over time.
They've been getting away with murder up there and council was very lenient indeed on a company that displays such a flagrant disrespect for the environment and the people of Chilliwack. Council referred to Johnston's as "good corporate citizens" despite the aforementioned items.
Ball and company left the chambers grinning triumphantly and without comment. Ball did not respond to the Voice e-mail at the time of writing this article.
© Copyright (c) The Valley Voice
Voice Report Monday November 16 2009
River Creeps Up
Pineapple Express Warming
Photos Craig Hill/Voice
View Wednesday of the rain-swollen Vedder River from the adjacent Rotary Trail. The forecast will remain the same with more showers through the weekend.
Rain and wind warnings are currently in effect for the Fraser Valley as a "Pineapple Express" swoops in on us bringing with it double-digit temperatures which may spell trouble after recent snow on the Coastal Mountains over the last two weeks.
To be in a flood-watch situation, firstly, we get a northerly outflow followed by snow on the local mountains, which we did. Then we get warm air and rain driving in from the Pacific, which we are. The good news is that the river is expected to crest Tuesday.
The Fraser River at Hope was 3.73M Monday morning and the Chilliwack River is beginning to swell also and city officials are closely monitoring the situation. Up to 70mm of rain is expected today and possibly more on Tuesday and showery for the duration of the week before temperatures begin to drop back down to season norms which might bring the first snow/rain mix to Chilliwack on Saturday.
In this inclement weather, city staff are asking people to be wary of river banks, particularly the Chilliwack River, and to steer clear of them because they may give-way and the person is instantly swept away in the high fast water.
While crews deal with dykes and drains trying to keeping the community safe, we need to think about our personal safety and readiness just in case we need to evacuate on short notice.
Acting mayor Sue Attrill was confident that Chilliwack is prepared for any flood emergency. "Although it looks like we should be floating away by now, we're actually doing very well here in Chilliwack. We haven't had any major issues with flooding yet and generally speaking at this time of year we don't. It's usually in the springtime in the freshets," she said.
Keeping the roads open, clear and safe is the major concern for city crews.
"We want to tell people to watch their speed and neighbors are looking
around at different drains in their neighborhood and making sure that they
are free of leaves and that sort of thing," said Coun. Attrill.
No one wants to be a pessimist but we do need to be ready for flooding. It's important to have a "Grab and Go Kit" on hand and to know other things that can help you stay alive until the emergency passes. Are you ready for Evacuation?
Below is a link to the City of Chilliwack website with a full information package regarding preparing for floods, alerts, evacuation orders plus other related topics.
For water level information:
© Copyright (c) The Valley Voice
Voice News Wednesday November 25 2009
There's No Angels Like Snow Angels
Have you ever seen an angel? You might just see one or two this winter cleaning snow from senior citizen's walks and drives throughout the city. The City of Chilliwack and the Chilliwack & District Seniors Resource Society (CDSRS) are looking for Snow Angels. Not the ones you make when you plop down in a snow bank and wave your arms and legs or ethereal beings but real, genuine angels. Those in the community who want to help seniors, the handicapped and people with mobility problems during snow storms this winter by doing some shoveling.
The CDSRS is seeking volunteers to assist seniors and disabled persons who may need help during snow events. This assistance would include clearing snow from sidewalks and entrance ways and helping residents with errands, such as grocery shopping.
“Helping our seniors and residents with mobility restrictions during snow events is the neighbourly thing to do,” said Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz. “We are looking forward to many of our community-minded residents volunteering for this inaugural program in Chilliwack and ‘earning their wings’ as Snow Angels.”
Snow Angels program coordinator and CDSRS Executive Director, Linda Hayden, said this was the first year the society has been involved with the snow-clearing initiative. "The Snow Angel Program is new to us this year. We are working together with the city to provide free snow removal for seniors and disabled."
The program is open to all seniors and disabled in the community and not just members of the society.
This year, depending on how much snow falls, promises to be a busy one. Even though snow isn't in the immediate forecast, Hayden is busy enlisting volunteers just the same and well in advance of any inclement weather.
"So far I am still in the process of setting up volunteers. Basically each volunteer would provide their own transportation to the home of the client and they would need their own snow shovel or use one belonging to the client. I will ask the client if they have a shovel for our volunteer," said Hayden.
On-call Volunteers fill out a short application form, have a vehicle, a strong back and they also need a criminal record check. Two references will also be needed.. When the white stuff eventually falls, the system is designed to run smoothly. "As the calls come in I will forward the client info to the volunteer," added Hayden. "We are hoping for success."
For more information or to volunteer contact Lynda Hayden at the Chilliwack & District Seniors Resource Society: 604-793-9979 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright (c) The Valley Voice
Voice Olympic News Friday November 6 2009
Torch Run Report
Paralympics Torch Relay Coming To Hope
On March 12th, almost two weeks after the 2010 Olympic Winter Games end, the 2010 Paralympics Winter Games begin as approximately 1,000 athletes and officials from more than 40 countries will take part in five sports; alpine and cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey, wheelchair curling and biathlon in Vancouver and Whistler.
But before the games comes the torch and 600 runners will carry it through 11 provinces and territories starting March 3 in Ottawa and ending in Vancouver March 12 and will be in Hope, BC on March 9th.
According to a VANOC press release, the relay will start on March 3, 2010 in Ottawa with Aboriginal-themed lighting ceremony then move on to Quebec City on March 4 and then to an as yet unnamed community in Central Canada on March 5 before moving to Victoria March 6 then over to Esquimalt before returning back to the mainland and to Squamish March 7. Then the torch will find itself in Whistler on March 8 and then up to Lytton and back down to Hope on March 9. The final leg will bring the torch into Maple Ridge March 10 and finally back into Vancouver on March 11 - 12.
"These 11 communities are sparks across this great land that shed light on and honour the remarkable athletic achievements of Paralympians and their triumphs over adversity,” said John Furlong, VANOC’s Chief Executive Officer. “As the Paralympic Flame approaches Vancouver, this light will only grow stronger as Canadians and people around the world join together with us in a celebration of what is possible if you dare to dream.”
“We encourage all Canadians,” he continued, “to come out to see the Paralympics Flame when it visits a community near you.”
We'll have to wait to find out who the Hope torchbearer is because each province and territory will name a torchbearer to participate March 3 in Ottawa.
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