Former mayor supports ward system

Dear Editor:

I have also been a long-time advocate for Kelowna residents to consider changing to a ward system, as suggested in a letter by Jeff Frank.

Another concept is having candidates in four (versus five) wards (Glenmore, Rutland, Mission, and downtown) and four (versus three) at-large representatives, with the mayor also being an at-large position.

I also believe, as Jeff does, that candidates who represent the wards would be knowledgeable about their areas, would be accountable to the citizens of the ward, as well as be accessible to those they represent. This system would also enable newer candidates interested in politics to campaign in a smaller portion of the city.

However, I also believe that candidates chosen for wards must recognize they are also serving the larger community. Our neighbour, Lake Country, implemented a ward system in 1995 and other communities such as Surrey have discussed this option.

For Kelowna to consider changing to a ward system from the present at-large system would require public interest, likely a referendum and a proposed timeline of implementation.

Is there even an interest in debating this concept by the majority of the present council? The next municipal election in 2022 could have this question as a referendum if the citizens of Kelowna promoted and supported the concept.

Another option is to select a majority of council members in the next election who support a review of implications to changing from an at-large to a ward system while seeking public input.

It is never easy to consider change, but it is certainly worth the conversation.

Sharon Shepherd, former mayor of Kelowna

Make roads election issue

Dear Editor:

There are two roads I have travelled on this year in West Kelowna that scare the heck out of me and I have a pretty robust vehicle.

Westside Road is still in need of major improvements to straighten out tight curves and shore up sliding embankments. And a few more guard rails would be nice.

The Glenrosa escape route, in case of wildfires, is a 35-kilometre gravel road adventure full of potholes and washboards.

Anybody with a small car could never escape in needed haste. Here the cost to provide a safe exit isn’t that much. A grader, some gravel and regular maintenance.

People’s lives are at risk and it’s going to get worse.

In advance of the Oct. 24 upcoming provincial election, ask the candidates what they are going to do about this.

Steve Burke, West Kelowna

Vaccinate your bubble

Dear Editor:

Right across Canada, more than ever, we need people of all ages and walks of life to get vaccinated against influenza.

The more we reduce the presence of respiratory illness this winter, the better positioned we are to continue fighting against COVID-19.

When we assess a patient’s respiratory symptoms, our job is easier if they have had the flu shot because it helps us determine if the illness is more likely influenza or COVID-19.

So far, Interior Health has been fortunate that our health-care system has kept up to the demands of COVID-19. But I can share with you,we are seeing challenges in some places, such as testing sites and labs, and we have entered a fragile time with the cooler weather.

We need to avoid the influx of really sick patients with influenza, which, combined with COVID-19 pressures, could push our health-care system to the edge.

I know from more than 30 years of experience in health care that getting the flu shot helps prevent the system from surging over capacity.

If you are under 40, you may think influenza and COVID-19 are nothing to fear, but we need everybody to think of others during this difficult time. While the symptoms for you may be mild, as with COVID-19, you could unknowingly pass the flu to loved ones and it can be fatal.

Our seniors and elders have been there for all of us and they need our support today. I can’t think of a better way to show appreciation than by taking advantage of any defence that will protect their health when they need us the most.

The flu shot is a tool in the tool box. The choice is yours to decide whether to use the tools to protect yourself and the ones you love.

Over the next few weeks, you will hear more about Interior Health’s public campaign to encourage vaccination. We will be working with many different providers to promote our influenza campaign this year.

The flu season typically ramps up in November, but before it reaches our communities, talk to your bubble, your neighbours’ bubble, and your social media bubble. Encourage everyone to get their bubble vaccinated.

Even if you have never felt the need to get the flu shot before, please do it this year. Help protect each other and the health-care system we all need.

Susan Brown, president and CEO, Interior Health

Editor’s views informative

Dear Editor:

Re: “Goodbye downtown Kelowna, we might not miss you,” Oct. 9.

I read, with fascination and amazement, David Trifunov’s Kelowna Courier editorial describing his experiences in downtown Kelowna. His description was grim, enlightening, uncomfortable and profoundly sad. It wasn’t a Kelowna I recognized.

However, I don’t spend much time in this area, and I am grateful Trifunov accepted the responsibility of telling us, his readers, what he was seeing and experiencing.

I’m also astounded by the vitriolic condemnation of him for doing so. This is a case of attacking the messenger because you don’t like his message. Why are we not directing our anger where it rightly belongs?

At the provincial government for closing mental-health facilities, promising community care and never delivering — and perennially underfunding those resources.

Or that same government which only funds ‘wet’ residential facilities, where residents continue to feed their addiction and create chaos in various Kelowna neighbourhoods, but refuse to fund ‘dry’ facilities that more readily and peacefully, become part of existing residential neighbourhoods.

Why aren’t we, as a community, speaking out against Kelowna’s existing homeless strategies where funds are funnelled through the Journey Home organization, removing them and the responsibility for them, away from city council to a third party who links and plans but doesn’t actually provide services to those in dire need.

Perhaps Kelowna is no different than many other cities our size. Every municipality is struggling to deal with an avalanche of social problems, and many of us live in areas where we are not, daily and directly, confronted by mental illness, socially abhorrent behavior, addiction and the chaos and mess they bring in their wake.

Trifunov described a Kelowna we don’t want to acknowledge, don’t want to deal with, and choose not to live or work amidst. There is great human tragedy unfolding in our downtown. The editor can well take care of himself and doesn’t need my support, but I thank him for describing what he was seeing with his readers. I suspect he knew well that it would create outrage, but I am grateful to him for describing a downtown I didn’t recognize and don’t personally know.

Our anger would be much better directed toward those who are ultimately responsible and press them to make the issues of our homeless, mentally ill and addicted a higher priority on their political agendas. We are in the midst of an election campaign. What better time?

Sharron J Simpson, Kelowna

Editor’s views were horrible

Dear Editor:

Re: “Goodbye downtown Kelowna, we might not miss you,” Oct. 9.

The article by Dave Trifunov, is honestly horrible.

I am shocked an article calling human beings “crack heads,” “vagrants,” “mentally unstable” and “undesirables” would even make it through the first round of approvals.

I understand and respect that the media should be used as a tool for advocacy and spreading information that would not otherwise reach many people. It should not be a place for one individual to spread his hateful, biased opinion on the lives of others.

I understand stressors that can arise as a business owner or employee in an area with a significant amount of homelessness. However, that should cause for an even stronger desire to understand and educate oneself on the situation around them.

The news is a tool to educate. Don’t squander the amazing opportunity that is available through your platform, your employment and your position in society.

Quite frankly, it’s 2020, an editor at a Canadian news platform should not have to be reminded that hateful speech, degrading another human being should not be allowed, let alone published.

Jeneya Clark