OPINION

Write: letters@ok.bc.ca

Culture attracts vibrant people

Dear Editor:

Kelowna city council is deliberating on RFPs (request for proposals) for an 80-year lease of the old RCMP lands on Doyle Avenue for commercial development.

On the adjacent land, the city has a consultant’s report that there is enough space to build a new 1,200-seat theatre to replace the old one built in 1962, on the same footprint as the old theatre. As the actual construction would take 2-3 years, and there is no comparable performance venue in Kelowna, this would effectively kill the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Kelowna and Opera Kelowna, the professional organizations that perform there.

These organizations cannot be on hold for 2-3 years or perform in smaller venues without adequate facilities. As well, organizations that stage events from out of town in the theatre, would not have a large enough alternative to make their ventures financially viable. So the city would lose all of the revenue from users of the theatre for 2-3 years.

I request that Kelowna city council not award the current RFP and consider the entire piece of land — the existing theatre footprint and the old RCMP land together — and hold a national competition for architects from across the country to submit a visionary plan for a Performing Arts Centre and commercial development. This can enable a new concert hall to be built adjacent to the old one, while the old one is still in operation. This can be achieved if the Art Walk, which as currently planned will slice the property in half, is moved further east.

This is an opportunity for signature architecture in the core of city which announces that Kelowna is an important centre for professional performing arts. Such centres are valuable civic resources that provide education, access, exchange of creative discourse, opportunities for cultural expression and awareness.

If we aspire to attract younger, better-educated, more-worldly, and more-socially engaged people, we need to provide cultural centres of excellence to match their aspirations.

The Performing Arts Centre can be a vibrant regional hub that energizes the community and captures the cultural and economic vitality of live artistic performance.

Patricia Ainslie

Kelowna

Worst fears are now happening

Dear Editor:

It was interesting and heartbreaking to read of Mayor Colin Basran’s invitation to Kelowna residents to join him for a luncheon to voice their suggestions on such subjects as “how to improve the city’s quality of life.”

We only wish he would show concern for our quality of life — those of us living in Rutland and around Agassiz Road. But, the truth is that he and his partners at BC Housing have spent the last few years destroying the quality of life in Rutland neighbourhoods and are about to do the same to the Agassiz Road neighbourhood.

When we, around Agassiz Road, were first told of the planned “wet facility” in our neighbourhood, we told mayor and council we feared that parachuting a large group of illegal drug users into our quiet and safe neighbourhood would result in open and public drug use, trafficking, prostitution, rampant property crime and a drop in the value of our homes.

We begged Basran and council to safeguard our quality of life. Instead we were criticized as hysterical, fear- mongering NIMBYs and told that past studies show no such negative impacts on neighbourhoods when low-barrier housing is established.

Now, 17 months later, all of our fears have been realized. No, the “wet facility” has not yet opened on Agassiz Road, but many of our neighbours have already suffered from a drastic loss of property value when they have attempted to sell their homes.

And, the rest of our fears have now played out in front of our eyes in the neighbourhoods closest to Hearthstone and Heath House.

The residents in those neighbourhoods have had their lives turned upside down and are being terrorized by residents of those two buildings and the associated “hangers on” who now control their streets.

Public drug use — Yes.

Public drug trafficking — Yes.

Public prostitution — Yes.

Rampant property crime — Yes.

Loss of property value — Yes.

And worst of all, loss of quality of life and loss of peace of mind and sense of security. Please imagine this playing out in your neighbourhood.

Mayor Basran, please look at the “study” that is happening right now in Kelowna and change course on this “low-barrier harm-reduction supportive housing” that appears to not be working in accordance with past “studies.”

Perhaps a new approach is required. Perhaps today’s homeless population requires something different.

We beseech the rest of Kelowna to call on our leaders to help those of us who are paying such a painful and drastic cost for BC Housing and city council’s vision of the solution to homelessness.

It is disproportionately affecting certain areas of our city, but will eventually affect all of Kelowna.

Helmut and Susan Herwig

Kelowna

Haunted house helped food bank

Dear Editor:

Congratulations to all who visited the Grenfell Road haunted house.With the addition of more non-scary days for those who didn’t want to be frightened, we surpassed all of last year’s record numbers and expectations.

This year, we had 5,022 people passing through the haunted house.Those who did attend left donations of cash and/or food donations, which went to the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank.

The final donation count was $4,059 in cash and 4,420 pounds of food, which filled six bins at the food bank.

The combined value of cash and food was equivalent to $15,109.

“Our hearts are so incredibly filled with gratitude,” said Tamie Williams, communications at the food bank. “The donation of food and funds collected during this year’s Grenfell Road haunted house will enable us to continue to provide nourishment for our clients, now and as we head into Christmas operations.

“Thank you so very much to everyone who visited the haunted house and to Paul, Staci, Clarence and their team, who created an incredible opportunity for the community to support those who face food insecurity.”

With house owner Paul Coxe’s health not being as good this year, the endeavour wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the support of family, friends and the community itself.

Special thanks to Gareth, Cal, Candace and many others — too numerous to mention — who worked tirelessly for many hours helping with the setup and tear-down of the haunted house.

We would also like to say a big thanks to the following businesses that went above and beyond to make the haunted house the success it was: Avalon Event Rentals, Rayacom Print and Design, My Country Garden, Moduloc Fencing, Sunbelt Rentals, Village Flowers, Milton Towing and Claremar Delivery Service.

Thank you Kelowna for making this year’s 2019 Grenfell Road Halloween Haunted House a huge success.

Clarence Johnson

Kelowna

Wartime memories from childhood

Dear Editor:

The little boy and his sister, lived next to the German border, they watched the trains go past, they heard people crying, “water, water.”

Later, they knew the people were prisoners on the way to camps in Germany.

The little boy saw people being executed because others were forced to watch.

He saw a hand sticking up in the dirt it was still moving. What could he do, he was only a little boy, eight years old?

The war broke out in Holland in 1940.

I was three years old, having been born in September of 1937. My dad went to Germany and would not be back for several years.

It was up to my mom to take care of her two children my sister Greetje and I, and find food for us all

Living in the north of Holland, only several hours away from the farmers, the first few years were not too bad for us, but that slowly changed. My mother had to sell her best linens, her gold watch and sewing machine for food.

The farmers did not care to receive money as it was worth nothing, so anything of value had to go.

A bottle of oil, a very valued commodity, would sell for $250 guilders.

My mother would bring home dried fish that stank something awful. We had to eat it anyway.

Looking back, it still amazes me how resourceful people are when they have to be.

I would go to where coal was loaded onto trains, and take with me a small broom and dustpan and bring home coal dust. We would chew tar and turned it into chewing gum. It also whitens your teeth.

You could do the same with grain. We kids would go to where the grain was being loaded onto trains, and we would pick up what had fallen on the ground.

It takes a long time to chew that grain, but believe me it will turn into gum.

Sometimes we were lucky and had a piece of real chewing gum. We kids would take some sugar to give it some flavour again after we had been chewing it for some time and all the flavours had left.

At night we wound it around the iron bed post

Jenny Donders

West Kelowna

Fatal silence for Andrew Scheer

Dear Editor:

When Conservative leader Andrew Scheer finally spoke and said he did not support abortion and that in 2019 it was OK to have that view, the press and Justin Trudeau, of course, ignored that.

Apparently of the view that, in fact, it was not OK to have that view, just as in China’s Cultural Revolution or was not OK to have a divergent opinion from that of Chairman Mao and his Red Guards.

Are we deteriorating to that level and where it can lead to in our society? Colin Thubron, in his travel book: “Behind the Wall” (1987), recalls this experience. On entering a church in Shanghai, he got into conversation with the aged sacristan. Speaking of damage done during the Cultural Revolution, the old man asked, “Do you know who broke the organ?

It was Red Guards from the Shanghai Music Conservatory. Can you understand that? I can’t. Nor how anyone could break our violin? The church was closed down.  

The Red Guards just told us to be quiet. That was easy. It’s easy to do nothing. What I don’t understand is that nothing inside those young people told them they were doing wrong. You should see Sunday mornings now, we have a congregation of 1,200.”

Thubron maintains that everywhere he went, the Red Guards were lamenting their dumb actions. Our own Cathedral in Shanghai, I’m told, had 200 baptisms on Easter Sunday 2018.

What amazes me in the attempts to discredit Scheer. Is that there was nothing inside all those pro-abortion candidates, and particularly in their leaders, telling them that it is wrong to favour and support, without a doubt, violently aborting an innocent, healthy, defenceless child of the womb.  

Is all this fatal silence worthy of political support?

Fr. Harry Clarke

Kelowna

Reader submits Remembrance Day poetry

Dear Editor:

I have submitted two poems that I penned in hopes of getting people to reflect and encourage them to get out on Remembrance Day.

THE MARCH OF TIME

They march along to the beat of the band,

These are the vets who fought in a foreign land.

There are fewer today as time goes by,

Age catches up and they die.

Shoulders stooped, limps, canes and aching thigh,

These proud soldiers march with heads held high.

Their steps are spry as they pass through the crowd,

Young once, older now, but just as proud.

They know the meaning of “Lest We Forget.”

As they remember comrades who paid the supreme debt.

On to the cenotaph rank and file,

To lay the wreaths in accustomed style.

It is a sight that pulls at the stout hearted,

As silence is observed for those who have departed.

I am grateful to these men and their mates,

“LEST US NOT FORGET” them, on this date.

MEAGER COMPENSATION

They slowly gather into a group,

And discuss the past and the route.

They’re older now and they are few,

You may ask, “What did they do?”

They are the brave, who survived the test,

With many giving lives at their best.

It is the time for us to say,

“Lest We Forget, It’s Remembrance Day.”

They proudly march to the cenotaph,

To take part and remember that,

They are the fortunate, who survived the fray,

So we may live in freedom today.

As time goes by the young don’t heed,

Or give a thought of how they were freed.

They gave their lives without being dour,

Is it too much to give them, “JUST ONE HOUR?”

John D. Grant

Kelowna