ASK Salt Spring with MLA Adam Olsen - Bravely Diving Into Complex Issues like Health Care

Fifteen joined the ASK Salt Spring Zoom gathering to welcome Adam back as our MLA. We had all missed him as he was forced into that candidate role again. Throughout the gathering, joy was repeatedly expressed that he can now get back to work to address those issues most important to us. He was pleased to introduce a new member of his team - Kate O’Conner - disappointed the she did not win in her riding but committed to providing her a wonderful experience serving our community. In the meantime, Adam and we all will benefit from having her on our team. Welcome, Kate! After a heartfelt territorial acknowledgment, we spent the first half hour learning more about the newly-released report, In Plain Sight, Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care and discussing its implications. Among the shocking findings, we learned that 84% of the Indigenous British Columbians surveyed reported experiencing racism while seeking medical attention. Wh…
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COVID-19: Lady Minto Hospital Medical Staff Association - This Year Must Be Different

As COVID-19 rates have been surging across BC including in Island Health, we have been so grateful to see our community members adopting the recommendations of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) and other Public Health officials to keep us all safe. Practicing hand hygiene, wearing masks, practicing physical distancing and shrinking our “social bubbles” are all essential actions in controlling the spread of COVID-19 and protecting us all. Thank you! Doing this is not easy at times, and certainly the upcoming winter holidays will be one of the times when the restrictions necessary to control the virus will feel particularly painful. The PHO has been very clear and has issued province-wide restrictions because of the compelling need to control transmission of COVID-19: there are to be no gatherings of any size at your residence with anyone other than your current household and no travel other than travel which is essential for work or health reasons. We love to connect at …
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New Air Ambulance Now in Service for Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands

BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) new helicopter and plane, both based in Nanaimo, have just begun responding to patients up and down the island, as well as for patients on Salt Spring Island, the Gulf Islands and Sunshine Coast. BCEHS air ambulances respond to critical hospital transfer patients as well as emergency 9-1-1 medical calls. About 90 per cent of air ambulance responses are interfacility transfers, from hospital to hospital. BCEHS has traditionally called in air ambulance response from Vancouver, or to contractors on the Island to assist when a patient requires an air ambulance transport to hospital, now that emergency air response begins mid-island. This dedicated helicopter and plane allow BCEHS to quickly transport patients in rural and remote communities to places with higher levels of care. The BCEHS air ambulance program is made up of a dedicated fleet of 16 air ambulances: six helicopters and 10 planes. Helicopters are based in: Vancouver, Nanaimo, K…
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COVID-19: BC Ferries Encourages Essential Travel Only This Holiday Season

Delivery of goods and holiday packages remain a priority - BC Ferries is advising customers to avoid non-essential travel over the holiday period, in keeping with direction provided by the Province of British Columbia. The company continues to transport commercial traffic, delivering essential goods and services to coastal communities. Commercial traffic, in fact, is as strong or stronger across all routes than for this same period last year. For customers who need to travel for essential reasons, BC Ferries offers the following advice to support safe travel this holiday season: Plan in advance. Priority will be to keep essential goods, groceries, holiday letters and packages moving. Book in advance. This guarantees passengers travel on the sailing of their choice. BC Ferries recently launched a new mobile-friendly website that makes it easier for customers to book and manage their bookings online. For full schedule information, current conditions and bookings, pleas…
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Listen: Salt Spring Island Aloha! The Hawai'i of Canada

This is a story about the Hawaiian Islands, but most of it takes place in Canada. I was born and raised in Hawai'i. Now I live in the Canadian Gulf Islands. These little islands lie off the mainland of British Columbia, just south of the 49th parallel, almost three thousand miles north and east of the Hawaiian Islands. Getting to the Gulf Islands requires perseverance, plus a ferry or maybe a floatplane. They’re prone to ocean fogs, they have epic tides, and the hills are forested with cedar and fir. The island I live on now is called Salt Spring. It’s a friendly place, full of artisans and farmers, snowbirds and digital nomads. As you drive from the ferry terminal to town, there’s a handmade sign at the side of the road that reads “You got this.” The flip side says, “We need each other.” Like many places in Canada, Salt Spring’s streets are named for early settlers. There’s Stark Road, Robinson Road, Roland Road. When I first moved here, people would tell me I had com…
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Making the Case for Safe Cycling with Alternative Options

As a long time island cyclist it is very encouraging to hear Capital Regional District (CRD) Director Gary Holman announce new cycling infrastructure to be built in the next year. Especially notable is a 1.5 meter shoulder going up the Ganges Hill from Seaview Avenue to Beddis Road, and while I applaud such moves, much is still needed to make our island safe for cycling. I have seen lately a big increase of cyclists on our island roads and with ebikes making hill climbing much easier, I believe we are going to keep seeing more cyclists for the next few years. Many are rediscovering the joys of bicycling because of COVID and social distancing; it is an activity that remains safe, that is as long as no one gets hit by a car. The reason there is poor cycling infrastructure on Salt Spring is that for many years, local cyclists have been told that bike paths are very expensive and in this part of the world, where bicycles are often looked at as a toy rather than a viable mode …
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COVID-19: RCMP - Be Kind to Each Other and Retailers

Local retailers on Salt Spring Island have been the subject of ridicule and abuse as they ensure that masks are worn by patrons entering their store. Presently, the wearing of masks is mandated by the province and retailers are merely following the rules to keep patrons and their staff safe. Businesses have the responsibility due to the recent public health order to ask their patrons to wear face coverings or non medical masks while on premises and to refuse service for non‐compliance. Individuals have the right not to attend the business if they decide not to wear a protective mask to help prevent the spread COVID‐19. We highly encourage everyone to respect provincial health orders for their safety and the safety of others. Although we would hope not to issue violation tickets, people found in contravention can be fined $230 for abusive or belligerent behaviour and/or failure to wear a face covering (mask). Sgt. Clive Seabrook pleads, "Please respect our local reta…
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COVID-19: Community Member at Salt Spring Centre School Tests Positive - School Closed

Salt Spring Centre School on Salt Spring Island was closed early today for the holiday break after a confirmed COVID-19 case in the school community. In a letter given to the school by Dee Hoyano, MD, FRCPC, Medical Health Officer with Island Health, the school administrators were informed of the case. The dates of potential exposure in the school community occurred December 3, 2020. The community member is isolating and are being followed by Island Health. The notice does not identify the community member, however school administrator Shauna Klem came forward on social media with the following statement early this evening: "Okay, I am saying it here because I would rather people heard it from me than spread misinformation. Today, I received a positive COVID test result.The kids and I are quarantining. Please wear your mask." ~ Shauna Klem, Salt Spring Centre School She went on to add in a separate note with the Exchange that she "...hoped more people will choose to…
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Photos: Ganges Lights Up

While many of the events our community has come to enjoy over the holidays have been postponed, or cancelled outright, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, at least one trusted source of cheer has now reliably lit up Ganges. Holiday lights, installed by the CRD PARC team now grace Centennial Park, along with lights installed by many local community minded businesses. Those of us that are venturing outside in the evenings these days can enjoy the lights and a little reminder of the holiday spirit that we might all yet again enjoy this season. And you can always also enjoy the lights courtesy of our Ganges Fire Hall live cam as well.
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Obituary: Melvin Norman Topping

Melvin Norman Topping - September 3, 1943 - November 16, 2020 - It is with much sadness that we announce the passing of Mel a wonderful Husband, Father, Grandfather, And recently a Great Grandfather. Mel passed away peacefully with family by his side, after his battle with ALS. Mel was born in England and raised in Nanaimo BC. After Graduating from High School Mel drove an Ice Cream Delivery Truck up and down Vancouver Island and his love for ice cream never ended. After that he worked as a Butcher with Overwaitea Foods in Lake Cowichan. In 1967 Mel and Lorraine moved to Salt Spring Island where they bought Alex’s Meat Market. A few Years later he started his career in real estate and over the years owned his own real estate offices both on Salt Spring and on the Outer Gulf Islands. He developed many parcels of land on the island, and enjoyed that part of the business especially the interactions with his clients, and the many acquaintances in the accounting, banking, excavat…
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COVID-19: GISS Community Member Tests Positive - Contact Tracing Completed

In a letter posted for families with students at Gulf Islands Secondary School (GISS) late this afternoon, school administrators have confirmed that Island Health contact tracing and communication in regard to the confirmed case of COVID-19 reported yesterday of a GISS community member has been completed. "We are pleased to share that Island Health actions (contact tracing and communication) in response to the confirmed case of COVID-19 have been completed. Island Health has identified and notified all close-contacts and has provided them with specific guidance regarding a self-isolation period." "We wanted to share with everyone a common misconception in regard to viral transmission; that it is tied to a place, rather than to an individual. This exposure is not connected to the school itself, as our building and classrooms are regularly cleaned and disinfected. Our school continues to implement the strict protocols and procedures set by the Provincial Health Officer, Wor…
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COVID-19: GISS Community Member Tests Positive - Contact Tracing in Progress

Medical Health Officer Dee Hoyano from the Office of the North Island Medical Health Officer with Island Health, has issued a notice to the parents, guardians, families and staff of Gulf Islands Secondary School (GISS) on Salt Spring Island that a member of the school community has tested positive for COVID-19. The notice indicates that the date of the potential exposure for others at the school as November 26th, 2020. Island Health is completing contact tracing to identify any staff and students that need to self-isolate or self-monitor for symptoms. Note: The first version of this story incorrectly identified the confirmed case was a student, but that has not been confirmed. The confirmed case in this notice was identified simply as a 'member' of the school community.
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Greenwoods Eldercare Society Receives $16,100

The 100+ Women Who Care Salt Spring Island held its sixth meeting on November 18th on Zoom. Members voted to give the collected donations of the meeting—which totalled about $16,100—to Greenwoods Eldercare Society. Also drawn from the charity basket during that meeting were the nominated charities were Gulf Islands Families Together Society (GIFTS) and the Salt Spring Island Branch of the BC SPCA. Three members gave informative and inspiring presentations over Zoom about why their nominated charity should receive the collected donations. Dorrie Ferster, who presented the winning pitch for Greenwoods, said, “It was a new experience to join the 100+ Women Who Care on a virtual call format. I must admit, I missed the energy of everyone’s presence.” Members cast a secret online vote for one of the three, and for the first time ever, there was a tie vote. Members were asked to cast their votes again, this time for the two tied charities. Greenwoods was the winning charity. …
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Last Chance to Save Mt. Erskine - Manzanita Ridge Connector Trail

We have a very short window of opportunity to save a well-loved trail on Salt Spring, and if we don’t act, now, it will soon be forever split in two. Walkers, hikers, runners, adults and kids all love Mount Erskine’s trails with their stunning views of beautiful forest. Accessible from Toynbee Road, Collins Road, and Trustees Trail, they all interconnect on public land. Or so we thought! We now know that the short connector between the Conservancy’s Manzanita Ridge Nature Reserve and Mt. Erskine Provincial Park is on private land, and there is no alternative for a safe trail. This land is part of a strata that will soon be developed. It’s quite possible that a future owner will build a house right on the existing trail, which most people now believe is public land. The Salt Spring Island Conservancy acquired Manzanita Ridge Nature Reserve from Martin Williams in 2003, and two years later it fundraised to buy the centrepiece of Mt. Erskine Provincial Park in partne…
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Obituary: Eli Rian Johnson

We are devastated to announce the birth and the death of our son Eli Rian Johnson. He was born at lady minto hospital on November 21st, 2020 at 10:38 am, weighing 8lb 4oz. He passed away in my womb and the cause is still unknown and may never be known. It is so heart wrenchingly painful. He was pure perfection, nothing has ever smelled so sweet. He had fine dark hair, kissable pouty lips, and a perfect button nose. He took after his daddy and was very tall. He was 22 inches long and had big Johnson feet... I cherish the time I had with him in my womb, he was so deeply loved. Everyday I talked to him and told him how loved he is. Every night at bed time Emmi would say goodnight Eli I love you. Our hearts are so deeply broken and our loss is unimaginable. We are together at home trying to navigate this grief while caring for our Emmi who is grieving the loss of her baby brother and trying to understand why everyone around her is so sad. I never want Eli to be forgott…
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An Opportunity to Help Protect the Forest on Lot F of the Larmour Lands

A dedicated group of islanders is working to ensure over 8 acres of mature coastal Douglas fir, Western redcedar, and Bigleaf maple forest remains standing. This healthy mixed forest is on the upland portion of Lot F of the Larmour Lands, and ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­its future is threatened. The community is invited to join us in this effort to prevent Lot F from being clearcut or developed. Through the generous support of many donors, the adjacent forest and wetlands of Lot H have recently been saved and will be preserved in perpetuity! Now the focus is on extending this and creating a larger protected area to increase and enhance the health and function of this important ecosystem. With conservation covenants already in place on nearby properties, the forest on Lot F is the missing puzzle piece. Connectivity is key to increasing biodiversity, and protecting Lot F’s forest will create 46 acres (about 18.5 hectares) of pristine natural habitat, now and forever.…
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COVID-19: New Health Orders, Not Complicated... But It Is Hard

Yesterday, Dr. Bonney Henry issued a new set of public health orders increasing the restrictions on travel, gatherings, and making masks mandatory in indoor public spaces. So far, we have not had COVID outbreaks on the island and we need to keep it that way. As our Island medical health officer, Dr. Richard Stanwick has said “Until recently, the number of positive cases throughout Island Health remained relatively low. This was not by luck. It was the result of hard work by people in communities across our region who took their responsibility to prevent the spread of this virus very seriously, supported by Island Health’s staff working to control COVID-19. To everyone who has taken their responsibilities seriously to protect themselves, their loved ones, and our health-care system, we thank you.” What we have to do is not complicated … but it IS hard! We all have to follow not only the letter, but also the spirit of the public health orders and focus on the basics: avoid …
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Support Local This Holiday

It’s one of the most exciting times of year again but of course, everything is different. Winter is upon us as we lead up to the holiday season and I want to encourage islanders to make this holiday as local as it can be, especially with… Black Friday quickly approaching! Every year, this season is the make it or break it for local small businesses, especially for artisans, retailers, food and hospitality. Most businesses are not going into this season with their typical summer savings to make it through until spring and they need local help, especially with travel restrictions coming into place this week. I want to remind you of the positive impacts supporting local has - it puts food on hard working people’s plates, it employs locals, it has an economic multiplier effect in our community, you receive personalized service, you choose with your dollars who to support, it reduces the impact on the environment and it keeps our community culture and identity. This year, t…
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Mulching, Citrus Protection, Planning Ahead

As heavy rains and frequent wind storms continue we are experiencing what is to be expected of a La Niña year. La Niña conditions are forecast to last into the spring so hang onto your hats and brace for colder and wetter conditions than usual this winter. That said, the immediate forecast doesn’t show unusually cold weather for the next 10 days, which gives you time to get out and mulch the garden. Reserve some mulch to use when the first serious cold weather arrives to cover completely over the tops of root crops. Last year I wrote up pretty much everything I know about fall mulching so for more details have a look at my November 7, 2019 message; there is a follow-up message about the (non) risk of spreading pests and diseases on leaves in the Nov. 26, 2019 message. Another task to prepare for winter: Stockpile some tarps or plastic sheeting to throw over leafy greens and other above-ground vegetables in a cold spell (root crops under a thick mulch won’t need additional pr…
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ASK Salt Spring Report with CRD Director Gary Holman

Fourteen gathered at the Foxglove Nursery Greenhouse to welcome our CRD Director Gary Holman. With higher numbers this week, we needed both the speaker system as well as more seats, but, despite a bit of scurrying, all seemed pleased with the idyllic setting. After a participant’s heartfelt territorial acknowledgment, Gary began with some good news: the Capital Regional Hospital district, a group to which we contribute each year, has allocated $3 million towards Lady Minto emergency room expansion, a $10 million project. The Lady Minto Hospital Foundation has committed $4 million and plans to raise the additional $3 million in a fundraising campaign. Gary will also be exploring additional funding possibilities with the Foundation. More good news is the completion of the North Ganges Transportation Plan (NGTP), Phase Two. With the completion of this project, we finally have a safe way for pedestrians to get from Country Grocer to the village with a pathway loop that includ…
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Re-Elected MLA Adam Olsen Giving Thanks

I raise my hands in gratitude for the opportunity to continue as the representative of Saanich North and the Islands in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. Thank you! I’m honoured to be entrusted with this important responsibility and I pledge to work everyday to better understand our communities so I can more effectively advocate on our behalf. Over the past three and a half years I have established strong community networks and by continuing to work in the spirit of coordination and cooperation we will advance our local interests to government institutions and secure investments in healthcare, education, transportation and infrastructure. Together, we will speak with a unified voice when we need to seek the support of the provincial government. In the coming weeks will be moving the constituency office to a new location in Sidney. We are seeking a street level space that accommodates community engagement as well as a secure and safe environment to serve con…
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