COVID-19: B.C. launches restart plan to safely bring people back together

With more than 60% of adults vaccinated with their first dose and COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations steadily declining, British Columbia is moving forward with the cautious first step of a four-step plan for a careful and safe restart. “British Columbians have sacrificed so much over the last 15 months to help keep people and our communities safe,” said Premier John Horgan. “We have made tremendous strides with our vaccination program, and we are now in a position where we can move forward with a plan to slowly bring us back together. As we have done throughout this pandemic, we will be closely following the guidance of public health and supporting people and businesses as we take the next steps in putting this pandemic behind us.” BC’s Restart – a four-step plan to bring B.C. back together will be a slow and gradual return to a more normal life, with safety and health protocols such as mask wearing and physical distancing remaining in place and mandatory during t…
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Capital Regional District Approves New Mountain Biking Guidelines

On May 12, 2021, the Capital Regional District (CRD) Regional Parks Mountain Biking Guidelines and short-term actions to support the Mountain Biking Advisory Committee Advice and Guidance Report were passed by the CRD Board. In addition, the Board directed that the CRD Regional Parks Mountain Biking Guidelines be reviewed in the context of the Regional Parks Strategic Plan update. The Mountain Biking Guidelines will play an important role in the enhancement and growth of sustainable quality mountain biking experiences in the regional parks system where deemed appropriate. Implementation of the guidelines is forward-looking. The Mountain Biking Guidelines apply to all mountain biking activities taking place within the CRD regional parks system. This includes mountain biking as an activity as well as the construction and maintenance of mountain biking trails and related facilities and infrastructure. The guidelines are forward-looking and intended to be applied by CRD st…
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Island Health thanks nurses for answering the call

It is fitting that the Canadian Nurses’ Association theme for National Nursing Week May 10-16 is “We Answer the Call.” From day one of this unparalleled and extraordinary COVID-19 pandemic that has enveloped our world for over a year, nurses have continued to stand where they always do – caring for patients, families and communities when they need it the most. Nurses are in every part of our health and care system. In hospitals, long-term care homes, public health units, clients’ homes, testing centres, vaccination clinics, undertaking cutting-edge COVID-19 research, and leading pandemic response from boardroom to point of care, nurses unique contribution to the health and wellness of our region is ever-present. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light more than ever the professionalism, wisdom, knowledge, skill, and compassion that nurses bring to work everyday and the important roles they play in our communities. “While the pandemic has been a challenge for everyone, …
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Salt Spring Island Foundation Announces 2021 Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants

The Salt Spring Island Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 Neighbourhood Small Grants. These grants (up to $500) support projects that fit the grant priorities: respect and celebrate diversity, connect and engage residents to increase community resilience, foster creativity and wellbeing while sharing skills and knowledge, and tackle social isolation. There are 32 projects taking place on Salt Spring Island this summer as part of the Neighbourhood Small Grants program. All project leaders are required to follow BC public health orders, recommendations and guidelines to ensure physical distancing protocols at the time that the project occurs and are encouraged to deliver their projects online. Anti-Racist Summer Reading A project to support teachers in furthering their education by supplying summer reading materials about anti-racism, social justice, diversity, and inclusion principles. A small lending library will be set up in the Gulf Islan…
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Here's the poop

As chair of the Capital Regional District (CRD) Liquid Waste Commission for the last few years, I’ve come to realize that there’s more to  flushing than meets the eye. It seems easy enough: just throw things down your toilet or sink and they magically disappear! Not so! It’s really important to pay attention to the rest of the story. Here on Salt Spring your drains either go to a septic tank or a sewer treatment plant. In both cases, what you put into the system matters a lot. Firstly, only poop, pee and toilet paper should go down the toilet. Please don’t throw wipes, hygiene products, condoms, cotton swabs, or dental floss down the drain. Even if it says flushable on the package, our systems can’t handle it! (The same goes for grease down the kitchen sink.) Secondly, only green cleaners should be used when they are going to enter the system, either septic or sewage.  (As a veterinarian and animal welfare consultant I encourage you to use only non-tested-on-animals pr…
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Island Health overdose awareness campaign aims to reach men who use drugs alone

Island Health has launched an awareness campaign for men who use drugs to help prevent overdose deaths and support men to break the silence about their drug use. “People use drugs for many, complex reasons, and often even the people closest to those who’ve overdosed didn’t know they were using,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “That’s why breaking down stigma about who uses drugs is so important. Let’s have open conversations that encourage people to break the silence and reach out for help.” Last year in the Island Health region, 263 people died from illicit drug toxicity. Of those people, 225 were men - and 126 of them were in a private residence when they overdosed. “We know that among those who die from toxic drug poisoning, men who use alone are at greatest risk,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s Vice President, Population Health & Chief Medical Health Officer. “We want them to know their lives matter - and there are sup…
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Nearly 500 British Columbians lost to toxic illicit drugs in first three months of 2021

As the province’s public health emergency regarding substance related harms enters its sixth year, the BC Coroners Service reports that toxic illicit drugs have claimed the lives of 158 British Columbians in March 2021. This raises the total number of deaths in the province for the year to 498. “Once again, we are reminded of the incredible toll that the toxic drug emergency is having on communities throughout our province,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner, BC Coroners Service. “The illicit drug supply in British Columbia is volatile and unpredictable, and anyone using a substance from this unregulated market is vulnerable to serious injury or death.” The 158 deaths represent a 41% increase over the 112 deaths recorded in March 2020 and ties the previous high for March established in 2018. For the third consecutive month, more than five British Columbians lost their lives to illicit drugs every day, and the yearly total to date surpassed the previous high of 401 deat…
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Protect Lot F’s Forest: Protect Groundwater, Reduce Forest Fire Risk, and Mitigate Effects of Climate Change

Our own survival depends on the survival of our forests. All of Salt Spring’s water comes from rain. Without forests, wetlands and watersheds will not work, and potable water sources are negatively affected. Salt Spring is at greater risk to wildfire with fragmented, dried out, unhealthy forests that lack biodiversity. BC has had 111 forest fires already this year. Healthy forests also mitigate the effects of climate change, which islanders will feel more and more in the coming decades. For all of these reasons and more, a dedicated group of islanders have been working hard to protect what remains of the Larmour Lands on Beddis Rd. — and what remains to be protected is the mature coastal Douglas fir, Western redcedar, and Bigleaf maple forest on Lot F. Located on the upland portion of Lot F of the Larmour Lands on Beddis Rd., this healthy, mixed forest is threatened with being clear-cut or developed. This portion of Lot F has two significant forested wetlands…
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Salt Spring Health Advancement Network launches new Mental Wellness Initiative

The community health network on Salt Spring, the Salt Spring Health Advancement Network (SSHAN), began eight and a half years ago as a doctor recruitment committee. It was soon realized that issues related to the recruitment of doctors were closely connected to issues related to community health. Over time the committee evolved into a community health network, with two main focus areas of concern - seniors and mental health. Since Salt Spring is a retirement community, seniors are a primary focus. Mental health is another focus because it is the most common health issue in our community. In 2019, the Salt Spring Community Health Society conducted a Community Health Needs Assessment survey. Results identified mental as health as the most prevalent issue faced by community members. Non-emergency mental health services have long wait times or are unavailable to half of the people who seek them. 39% of respondents say emergency mental health services are unavailable certain hour…
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Community support makes new Day Surgery Facility possible at Saanich Peninsula Hospital

New and expanded day surgery unit which supports Gulf Island residents opens at Saanich Peninsula Hospital - On Monday April 12th, at 10:00 am, staff at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital celebrated the opening of a new and expanded Day Surgery Unit. As a part of the opening ceremonies, local First Nations elders May Sam, Patti Underwood and Barb Henry conducted a blessing for the new facility. “Without the support of our generous and dedicated donors, this project would not have been possible”, says Shelley Mann, Chair of the Saanich Peninsula Hospital & Healthcare Foundation. “These friends and neighbours of ours on the Saanich Peninsula contributed the entire cost of the project – $3.5 million dollars. We are so grateful to them for helping our hospital continue to meet the needs of our growing and changing community.” “We are grateful for the ongoing support of the Saanich Peninsula Hospital and Healthcare Foundation and the many donors who supported this project and …
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COVID-19: Health-care workers make appeal for help

The third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is here and like all of us, our health-care teams are ready to put the pandemic behind them. For more than a year, public health teams, medical staff, staff and care providers across Island Health have focused their energies on preventing and managing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, and keeping you and your loved ones safe. This unprecedented effort continues, in addition to other important, everyday health-care needs beyond the pandemic. You can help by following public health orders and guidelines. As the detailed April 16 presentation from the Province showed, COVID-19 cases remain high in our communities and we are seeing an increasing presence of the new Variants of Concern. Our Public Health teams are working long hours in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our communities through testing and collection, case and contact management, and vaccinations. But our health-care teams are tired. Many are on the verg…
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ASK Salt Spring: Vaccine rollout, housing challenges, climate change, childcare and more

Twenty-three gathered via Zoom to welcome all of our elected officials: MP Elizabeth May, MLA Adam Olsen, CRD’s Gary Holman, and Islands Trust Local Trustees Laura Patrick and Peter Grove. After Laura’s heartfelt Territorial Acknowledgment, we began by asking each of our guests what was on their minds and the issues that they hoped would be explored in our two hours together. (Elizabeth had to leave us at about noon.) Elizabeth began by expressing her frustration at not being able to get to Ottawa sooner due to COVID but also her anticipation of soon reading the federal budget. She shared her joy at getting her vaccination soon. She has high hopes for President Joe Biden’s upcoming Earth Day Summit. Her optimism is tempered slightly by the disappointment that this year’s expected allocations for the climate emergency are expected to be less than fossil fuel subsidies. Elizabeth also expressed her delight at seeing so many of her friends virtually at ASK Salt Spring. Ad…
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COVID-19: New vaccine schedule invites those 18+ to register this week

More than 1.8 million British Columbians will be invited to register for their COVID-19 vaccine in the week ahead as B.C.’s Get Vaccinated program moves forward. A new schedule for age cohorts to register ensures people know when it is their turn. To preserve system capacity, please wait until your age cohort is eligible to register: Monday, April 19 – Registration opens for people aged 40 and up Tuesday, April 20 – Registration opens for people aged 35 and up Wednesday, April 21 – Registration opens for people aged 30 and up Thursday, April 22 – Registration opens for people aged 25 and up Friday, April 23 – Registration opens for people aged 18 and up The fastest way to register is online. To register, people need their personal health number(found on their CareCard or on the back of their driver’s licence or BC Services Card), their postal code, first and last name, date of birth and an email address that gets checked regularly or a phone number tha…
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COVID-19: Local Impact and Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Individuals

The COVID pandemic has entered its third wave in BC, and Salt Spring is not immune to that trend. The good news is that immunizations continue at an increasing pace with the community vaccination clinic at ArtSpring providing vaccinations to adults based on age and other eligibility criteria. All adults can now register to be vaccinated although actual bookings for vaccination appointments are based on age cohorts. Information on registration for vaccination is available on the Island Health website. Individuals who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) due to specified underlying health conditions should have received individualized letters inviting them to register for prioritized booking for vaccination. The list of designation conditions to qualify as CEV is available on the Island Health and BC government websites. If you believe you qualify and did not receive a letter, please follow the instructions on the website to contact the registration and booking center to …
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Local Group Seeking Help Mapping Spread of the Invasive, Noxious 'Gorse' Weed

The Native Plant Stewardship Group on Salt Spring Island has launched a new initiative to map the spread of the invasive, highly-flammable plant called Gorse. Gorse is a designated noxious weed that has been spreading on Salt Spring Island for many years. Its high oil content and unusually large amount of dead plant matter make it a serious fire hazard, and the dense growth prevents native plants from flourishing. Mapping the spread of gorse will be a valuable tool in seeking help from both islanders and government in future, and understanding its extent will help prioritize local efforts to deal quickly with small patches before it spreads further. The group is asking for photographs of areas where Grose has been spreading on Salt Spring Island by submitting those photographs to iNaturalist. Participants will also be able to see what has been mapped so far, and they are hoping that with many users they will be able to cover areas not publicly visible, in private propert…
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Update on Primary Health Care on Salt Spring Island

The Salt Spring Island Chapter of the Rural and Remote Division of Family Practice, on behalf of your local family doctors, would like to provide an update on our primary care provider shortage and how we are working to resolve it. We recognize the importance of Salt Springers having access to longitudinal primary care and realize that Dr. David Beaver’s recent retirement left more residents without a family physician. Unfortunately, this means that many of you are accessing your primary care needs through the emergency at Lady Minto Hospital, travelling to walk-in clinics off island or increasingly through virtual primary care clinics. We are working with our health authority, community and Ministry partners to find ways to attract and keep family doctors on the Island. Island Health and Health Match BC have been actively recruiting physicians and a nurse practitioner for the Island. Recently, the Salt Spring Island Chapter formed a Recruitment and Retention Working Group t…
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COVID-19: What are the 3 steps to getting the vaccine on Salt Spring Island?

Here are the 3 steps for getting the COVID-19 vaccine on Salt Spring Island. The hours of operation at the ArtSpring clinic are Sunday to Thursday, 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM. Step 1: Register Register online, by phone at (833) 838-2323 or in person at any Service BC office. First, you register and get a confirmation number. You need that number to later book your vaccination appointment. Registering also helps health authorities request the right amount of vaccine doses for each community. Once your age group becomes eligible, you will receive an email, text or phone call advising that you can book an appointment. Step 2: Book an appointment You will be contacted to book a vaccine appointment when you are eligible based on your age and our Immunization Plan phases.

You will book your appointment online or by phone. You will select a location, date and time.

Step 3: Get the vaccine Visit your local vaccine clinic to get vaccinated. …
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COVID-19: People aged 55+ invited to register for vaccine

A new vaccine registration schedule will provide certainty for more than 1.3 million British Columbians aged 40 and older, as B.C.’s Get Vaccinated program moves forward. A new schedule for age cohorts to register ensures people know when it is their turn: Monday, April 12 – registration opens for people aged 55 and up Wednesday, April 14 – registration opens for people aged 50 and up Friday, April 16 – registration opens for people aged 45 and up Monday, April 19 – registration opens for people aged 40 and up The fastest and most effective way to register is online. Registering online takes approximately two minutes. People need their personal health number (found on their CareCard or on the back of their driver’s licence or BC Services Card), postal code, first and last name, date of birth and an email address that gets checked regularly or a phone number that can receive text messages to register. Registration is the first step. Once registered, peo…
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Watch: New Film About Creating a Resilient Salt Spring Released Online

Salt Spring Solutions is a group of volunteers who care about protecting our incredible natural environment while ensuring we maintain a vibrant, diverse, and fair community for all. Like many, we care deeply about ensuring our island is resilient in the face of the many big challenges facing us in the 21st century. Yet in order to get there, we need to first talk about the sometimes big gap between what we think we are as a community - green, progressive, fair, and low-impact - and what the reality is. We made this short film, ‘Making A Stand in the Salish Sea’, to highlight some amazing local leaders and thinkers working on solutions, explore what’s standing in their way, and spur discussion and action. We want to invite us all to imagine new ways of thinking about how Salt Spring can be a beacon of hope and action, and ignite a collective fire to work together to create the solutions our community needs to become more equal, more just, and truly sustainable. We n…
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COVID-19: Province shifts to Phase 3: millions to book vaccine appointments online

All eligible adults in B.C. will soon be able to follow an easy, three-step process to register and book their vaccine appointments online, as the Province moves to Phase 3 of B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan ahead of schedule. “British Columbians faced the countless challenges of this past year with incredible courage,” said Premier John Horgan. “Today marks a major milestone in our fight against COVID-19, and we ask everyone to wait their turn and follow three steps to help put this pandemic behind us.” There are three easy steps to register to book your vaccine appointment: Register: First, register when it is your turn and get a confirmation code. Book: Book a vaccine appointment when you get an email, text or phone call telling you you are eligible to book, based on your age. Get vaccinated: Visit a vaccine clinic to get your vaccine dose. Starting at 8 a.m. (Pacific time), on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, people born in 1950 and earlier (71 and older), Indi…
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COVID-19: Easter Weekend and Troubling Island Health Case Trends

As spring days bring beautiful weather and Easter weekend brings hope of new beginnings, we need to remind ourselves that COVID continues to be a real and present health risk in our community. The start of the COVID vaccination program has brought new hope for the end of the pandemic. However some troubling trends are developing in Island Health’s fight against COVID-19. All three variants of concern have now been identified in Island Health. The number of variant cases across Vancouver Island are increasing. Contact tracing has shown that the variant cases were brought to the Island Health region through non-essential travel to other areas of B.C. and beyond. Public health teams have also noted a significant jump in the number of close contacts for COVID cases. On Salt Spring, we have not had any major outbreaks since the start of the pandemic. However we have had, and continue to have, the ongoing presence of COVID in our community. The variants of concern are more transmi…
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