Evacuations of elderly were very professional

Dear Editor:

In the wee hours of Monday morning Aug. 16 our mother was evacuated from the care home she had moved to just a few weeks previously.

She was one of more than 800 long-term care seniors experiencing this stress in Interior Health over this difficult summer. It was done with the utmost care, kindness and professionalism by all the staff. They were tireless and consistently thoughtful in their care despite being doubled up in another facility for nine days. The return last week also went smoothly, despite the staggering statistics involved and we were able to visit the next morning. Everyone was very happy to be home.

As our elderly mother has proceeded through the health support system, we have had reason for gratitude at every step. Thank you to all the staff and the organizations involved for their care of our vulnerable elders.

Barbara Cochrane, West Kelowna

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­COVID loving our behaviour as it spreads, mutates

Dear Editor:

Only a reduction in active cases and ongoing infections can slow the world-wide COVID mutation machine.

Only responsible behaviour and consideration for others can do that, not insisting that you are being wrongfully inconvenienced in some small way you have suddenly decided to make the ideological fight of your life. That behaviour can cost you and the lives of others you care about. We are at a moment in human behaviour where the inconsiderate actions of a few can clearly doom the many. Rights and freedoms have to also include the rights of others to stay healthy, alive, and uninfected.

There’s been a war for the control of public thinking. As it turned out, everybody lost that war, because while we argued, COVID kept spreading, infecting and mutating, generating a global wave of new variant victims. It doesn’t care what we think, only how we act. And right now, it’s loving our behaviour. CNN reported today that ICU hospitalizations are higher today than they were a year ago, fueled by unvaccinated patients. This is a profound warning.

Health professionals tried to clarify the risks ahead, but politicians and skeptics were not having it. The disease mechanics are simple: since it is most easily spread by airborne contamination, then distance, large spaces and masks all help control the spread. These things are about limiting infection, they are not a political statement. Only adding an active agent like a vaccine that stimulates internal antibodies against the disease itself can actually prevent or reduce the harm of infection, so all the tools are needed for us to survive.

The length of immunity is unknown (even those previously infected and recovered got sick from delta), and mRNA vaccines with 91-96% initial effectiveness have suffered under the delta variant. Recently published UK research shows that the Pfizer vaccine effectiveness now drops to 74% after five to six months, and the AstraZeneca vaccine drops to 67% after only four to five months. This means that significant breakthrough infections will inevitably occur, making masking essential.

The world is now interconnected as it has never been before, both physically and virtually. Bad information and viral infection can spread worldwide overnight, and people are quick to believe what they wish to be true, regardless of facts. But opinions do not alter reality, only our reaction to it, and sometimes that reaction is incredibly dangerous. It only took a few months for the delta variant to appear worldwide, and shortly after that, it displaced all others, raising the threat threshold dramatically. Viral loads in delta patients increased an astonishing thousand-fold before most people even realized it existed, yet behaviours were either unchanged or even more permissive in concessions to economic recovery and a desire to return to a “normal” that was no longer possible.

This is the moment for responsibility, not for politics, or posturing or denial. As R. Buckminster Fuller said, “Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment.”

Walter Shawlee, West Kelowna

In a perfect world, Trudeau would get the boot after vote

Dear Editor:

The CBC poll tracker currently shows the Conservatives with 32.9 percent of support versus 31.8 percent for the Liberals, but because of one of Justin Trudeau’s many broken election promises from the past, we still have first past the post representation rather than proportional representation. So those numbers would likely transform into 143 seats for Liberals and only 129 seats for the Conservatives because of where the support comes from.

The good news is that it takes 170 seats to form a majority government, so if the status quo doesn’t significantly change, Trudeau will not be able to become the dictator he truly wants to be.

The bad news is that regardless of the outcome due to Trudeau’s self-centered thirst for power he will have cost the taxpayers over half a billion dollars in holding this needless election less than two years into his four-year term.

In a perfect world the Liberals come out of this election with fewer seats than they went in with and Trudeau gets bounced from being the party leader; you can’t believe what he promises anyhow so call it justice for putting all Canadians health at risk by calling a snap election during the fourth wave of a pandemic.

Guy Bissonnette, Lake Country

Vegetable garden fight overblown on paper’s front page

Dear Editor:

Re: ‘Raising Hell: Plots becoming ground zero’ (Courier front page, Aug. 19)

For the past 18 months, the Daily Courier’s front page has been packed with actual life-and-death events: a deadly disease, a collapsed crane, heat wave, drought, and wildfires.

On Aug. 19, your front page grabbed us with a photo of garbage bags, a broken fence, and the hair-raising title: ‘Raising Hell: Plots becoming ground zero.’

Ground zero? Really?

This was the story of a barney that broke out in a community garden between residents and vandals who threw tomatoes and insults at each other.

Since no one died in that vegetable patch, the real misfortune might be the additional layer of negativity you added to the contentious issue of homelessness.

In trying to name the culprits responsible for the damage, you called upon Carmen Rempel, Executive Director of Gospel Mission, to defend residents of the Doyle Street shelter, a facility that gives people a bed for the night and keeps them off the streets.

Her main point, which seemed to get lost in the drama, was that more shelters, not less, could have prevented the clash. This professional opinion was shared on page 2 by Darren Caul, the city’s community safety director.

Despite its success, the Doyle Street shelter is constantly targeted as a public scapegoat for all problems homeless. Their lease expires Sept. 30, with no place to go.

I’m not a bleeding heart for the homeless, and I truly sympathize with the gardeners who were absolutely justified in protecting their plots and calling the police. But if professionals on the front line tell us that shelters actually reduce crime and vandalism, your article has done nothing to help the cause.

By putting the image of a war zone in the minds of readers, you dumbed down the conversation, ginned up fear, and widened the gap of understanding.

Like a heat-seeking missile, you built your own personal disaster with interviews from people who shared grumbles, opinions, and ‘scary stories’ about the homeless that seemed unrelated to the event. Sadly, the splash you made on the front page is now part of the problem, not the solution.

I’m not suggesting you bury the news, but when a contentious issue divides a community, you have the power to widen the gap with drama, or balance the tension with an equal amount of informed and level reporting.

Instead of throwing gas on the fire, why not cool it down with a few stories about what’s being done to help? There is a vast network of dedicated helpers, paid and unpaid, who work hard at managing this complicated problem. I think the public would be amazed, interested, and reassured to know how much is actually being done.

There are hundreds of great stories in Kelowna, and some of them don’t even mention the word ‘hell.’

Jo Warren, Kelowna

Many lives hurt by conversion therapy tactics

Dear Editor:

Re: “Unfair attacks on Tracy Gray” (Courier Letters Aug. 24)

I must write to address some appalling statements in a recent letter.

Firstly, let me be clear: I have never met Tracy Gray, and I have every reason to believe she is a kind and caring individual. My concerns with her have nothing to do with her person, but with stands she takes in her position as an MP.

I am assuming also that, as a politician, she knows that people will challenge her positions – it’s the nature of the position.

Next, Alan Niebergal (the author of the letter) speaks about so-called Conversion Therapy and challenges us to “go back to morality and ethics that are grounded in truth and not just speculation.”

Let’s. All serious scientific and medical studies of “conversion therapy” (a not-so-great term for the various procedures used to convince members of the LGBTIQ community that they can change their identity) have condemned the practice without question. It is harmful – the facts (that would be numerous statistics, taken from numerous studies) are present for all to see. Specifically: young people who undergo “conversion therapy” are eight times more likely than other youth to attempt suicide; six times more likely to report high levels of depression; three times as likely to use illegal drugs; and three times as likely to be at high risk for contracting HIV and other STDs.

Wow.

And Niebergal writes that we should support this on “moral” grounds? No. Absolutely not.

My morals are based on scripture (wherein Jesus repeatedly affirms human worth and dignity, even of those society wants to treat as outcasts) and reason (which among other things seeks out scientific and medical data). Clearly, this sort of procedure is extremely harmful.

Gray has said she is opposed to it, yet she (and most Conservatives) voted against the bill, and used numerous parliamentary tricks to stall the bill in the senate. Then, when parliament was prorogued, they tried to say the government had killed the bill by calling an election. No, not true. Conservative Senate Leader Don Plett said he was “very supportive of a well-defined ban on coercive conversion therapy,” saying the practice is “unconditionally wrong, and it needs to be banned.” Yet he would not allow it to come for a vote.

The Conservatives have waffled on this, and too many lives are in the balance.

I am not attacking Gray’s personality. But I am happy to condemn her politics. You simply cannot have it two ways.

Rev. Dr. Donald Schmidt, Kelowna

City’s animal control officers have power of life and death over dogs

Dear Editor:

A Kelowna city survey some five years ago found that 38% of residents have at least one family dog.  Since COVID arrived in 2020, my guess is that a similar survey would find dog ownership has risen above 50%.

Recently, a retired couple close to my neighbourhood had their standard poodle deemed “dangerous.” The poodle was seized about 21 days later. Less than a week following the seizure, dog control took the poodle to a veterinary hospital suffering from severe diarrhea, nose-bleed, and head trauma.  

Ignorance may be bliss sometimes, but it is no excuse under the law. To bring myself up-to-date with dog bylaws, I Googled “Responsible Dog Ownership Bylaw number 1,343 (amended Jan. 16, 2014). Here are a few points which impressed me, even though I no longer have a dog:

• Animal Control Officers (ACOs) may determine a dog “aggressive”;

• Animal Control Officers (ACOs) may determine a dog “dangerous” in accordance with Section 49 of the Community Charter (and its amendments);

• Licence fees for aggressive dogs are $100 if spayed or neutered, $150 if intact;

• Licence fees for dangerous dogs are $500.

Bearing in mind the power granted to Animal Control Officers to determine a pet dog aggressive or dangerous, dog owners need to be know their responsibilities under Bylaw 1343. 

Above all, in my opinion, dog owners need to be respectful toward ACOs who have the power of life and death over dogs in trouble.

A $500 licence fee for a dog deemed dangerous, is as good as a death sentence.  Even if the owners believe their dog has been wrongly accused and convicted, a $500 annual licence is more than a family’s budget can easily absorb.

P.S. – I am the author of Diesel – Four Days to Kill a Dog – “On a Balance of Probabilities” published in Kelowna in July 2021.

Helen Schiele, Kelowna