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Castlegar has bigger worries than a luncheon of Campbell's Coup

 I think most of us can safely bet the farm on which news story will be dominating B.C. media in the coming weeks – but I hope it doesn't distract Castlegar from the huge looming issues our community will face over the same timeframe, regardless who holds power in Victoria.

Truth be told, with the Liberal government in power for another two years yet, I'm not sure Campbell's resignation will really make much of a difference to us Kootenay folks anyway – the HST will remain an albatross around the neck of a government too deeply committed to see a clear way out, and while Campbell's resignation provides a convenient scapegoat, it doesn't really solve the problem, now does it?
So, while the heads roll and the repercussions cause shockwaves throughout the legislature, it's pretty much business-as-usual here in the 'Gar ... and make no mistake, we have important business ahead.
For example, tonight the school district will very likely be deciding on an altered timeframe for community consultation regarding the “Planning for the Future” document, which proposes the closure of Blueberry Community School and the repurposing of the Castlegar Primary School, not to mention moving the bus yards to an as-yet-undetermined, central location (and I wonder, by what light is Castlegar NOT central? The logic escapes me, it really does.)
Watch the Castlegar Source for postings with dates and time for these meetings, because we all need to be there – city council has (wisely, I think) decided against the tack they took last time, of quietly respecting the decisions of other locally-elected bodies and allowing the residents to speak against district decisions, should they choose to do so.
As Councillor Kirk Duff put it, “I think we shouldn't avoid the microphone on this.”
Or, in Councillor Deb McIntosh's even-more-succinct summation, “It's unfortunate, but it seems the community that screams the loudest gets the most stuff. Some very pointed questions need to be asked.”
Council's pointed questions, though, won't mean much without the weight of strong public opinion. School board trustees are elected, too, and each council member represents just one vote ... it's the residents standing behind and beside council who will dictate how carefully trustees must consider the city's position. Also under the heading of 'planning for the future', I know lots of the people I've spoken to think the district's desire to change the composition of trustee representation is merely housekeeping that doesn't concern them ...when, in fact, it will weaken Castlegar's representation at the district level and leave us even more vulnerable to closures and funding cuts. We need to say “no” now, because if we wait until it's a done deal, what we say won't matter much at all anymore.
Moving along, there's also the Interior Health ultrasound issue. IH has learned, I think, much what any government body does over time – that community uproar is a short-lived creature with finite energy reserves. Which is why, I think, they've promised only to keep our ultrasound here until February ... by which time they can reasonably expect our fickle attention to have turned elsewhere, thus allowing them a pretty free hand in doing whatever they may please.
I hate to be so cynical about the whole thing, but I still find their arguments dissonant, which leads me to believe absolutely that there's some back-door politics at a work and an agenda they choose not to share with us. That being the case, I have trouble trusting any rationale put forth by IH ...when they say they're looking at the interests of the entire region while at the same time supporting an ambulance policy forcing Castlegarians in-extremis to be transported to the Castlegar hospital instead of to the KBRH in Trail, where IH is openly concentrating all the region's resources.
Well, you do the math. We need to keep the pressure on, and make keeping Castlegar residents alive as politically imperative as whatever agenda has IH perennially cowtowing to Trail.
Last but not least is the Nov. 6 referendum on the proposed $25-million recreation expansion.
I'll say right now, I think it's going to be a 'no' vote ...and I'll say right now, that disappoints me.
Here's why: recreation is a critical underpinning to a variety of other community issues, health being just one (and if IH continues on its current track, we'd better all get in shape and stay healthy ... or else). We have a growing senior population that can remain active and healthy and contributing – or become a drain on our infrastructure and resources. Much of that choice is ours, when we decide how accessible healthy lifestyles will be for our residents.
Keeping kids of all ages busy and physically active reduces health issues and crime rates within the community, not to mention increases youth community engagement, which means a greater volunteer pool for the future, and better citizens in the years to come.
All of this, done on a community scale, costs big money, sure – but it's an investment with enormous long-term payouts, both fiscally and socially. Those who wish to see our recreation/health infrastructure continue to age, crumble, and be rendered inadequate by a growing population are short-sighted, to say the very least. It's akin, on a community scale, to keeping your money hidden under your mattress because you don't trust banks.
Other than money, the only critique I've heard regarding the expansion is that all the details have not yet been ironed out, so the plan shouldn't be approved.
Speak of fiscal responsibility out of one side of your mouth, then demand, out the other, that council spend a fortune in staff hours, engineering specs and consultations to come up with a plan they don't even know we WANT?
How is that fiscally responsible? In fact, how is that not downright stupid?
Anyway, you can agree with me or not on any of these issues – but I'm guessing that, even if you're so opposed to my perspective that you burn me in effigy in your off time, we can at least agree on this: these are important issues.
Regardless who ends up assuming the reins provincially, Castlegar is where we work, eat, sleep, live ... and we'd do well avoid being distracted by a Victoria-n shuffle. Or maybe I should call it the Campbell's Coup. Call it what you will, where Gord ends up is, at this moment in our history, the very least of our concerns.