Penticton Letters

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How will the hidden homeless be counted?

Dear Editor:

I know someone who operates two businesses and after selling their family home several months ago is unable to purchase another because there is nothing available in their price range, so is having to live in an RV with teenagers.

I have three college students who’ve gone from stable housing that changed overnight through no fault of their own, to not having anywhere to go, so are having to sleep on friends’ couches.

I have a colleague whose living in substandard housing with an elderly mother, but if they complain about the unhealthy living conditions and Interior Health evacuates the building, they have nowhere to go.

My elderly neighbour is allowing her two adult children to live with her in her apartment because they haven’t been able to find a house to rent for the six months they’ve been looking.

Another business owner I know just lost not only his business space, but the suite he and his wife were living in above the business.

These are our hidden homeless. Are these numbers being counted in the “homeless count”? I’m very concerned to know — how will the hidden homeless be counted?

The risk data on the long-term mental and physical impacts of homelessness — of all kinds — is clear. It leaves people vulnerable.

If I alone know of these seven situations, 17 people in total who are in precarious, unstable situations, how many others are there in similar situations?

I wonder if we have even more hidden homeless than those living rough or in shelters? What are we doing to remedy this too? How soon until they also end up in already overflowing shelters, or sleeping in the parks?

I appreciate that Summerland Council has worked diligently toward the approval of a new housing project for lower income earners ... in a year or more? Thank you!

And, we’re in the midst of a housing crisis that is becoming increasingly alarming — so I’d like to know what else is being done, what is the plan to address this critical issue?

Certainly housing should be the easiest problem to solve. And it intersects with the addictions, and mental-health crisis, as well as the pandemic crisis, so is a foundation for the improvement of the other crises.

Housing is a protective factor for physical and mental health, a human right.

What is the South Okanagan leadership doing to be responsible for getting ahead of this problem so we don’t end up spending far more on health services for increasing numbers of people who will continue to be negatively impacted?

Prevention is always better for the well being and dignity of citizens.

Victoria Laine


Put homeless shelter in Kozakevich’s area

Dear Editor:

According to the Herald (April 20), nine RDOS board members support homeless shelters in Penticton. In a recent meeting when the mayor asked for the RDOS board to write a letter supporting Penticton’s position on closing the Victory homeless shelter, these nine RDOS directors voted against supporting the City.

Karla Kozakevich said, “We are a product of the province and it does feel like we’re being put in a difficult situation here, UBCM would be a good forum.”

Apparently Kozakevich doesn’t think the RDOS system was set up to serve our area it was set up as a representative of the political interests of the province.

Good to know as I expect she is waiting in the wings to replace Dan Ashton as MLA.

As Kozakevich apparently thinks Penticton’s homeless shelter should be supported, I suggest that she get funding to set up a homeless shelter in Naramata.

It should work out very well. The homeless living in a rural community would cut down on victimization by others. Here in Penticton, if the shelters are full they sleep in the alleys; under bridge abutments; shopping centres and defecation is a problem.

If they were in Naramata, they wouldn’t have to worry about sleeping out in the wild when shelters are full. There are lots of garden sheds and porches available. It should work out very well as Naramata is a small friendly town, they could ask the homeowner to use their bathroom instead of defecating under the porches or in the garden sheds. It would be a much better solution all around.

The above also applies to the other RDOS directors that support homeless shelters. Bob Coyne, Princeton Rural; George Bush, Cawston; Erin Trainer, Summerland; didn’t Summerland just turn down subsidizing housing? Tsk tsk. Did they know their RDOS director supports the homeless?

Manfred Bauer, Keremeos mayor; Ron Obirek, Skaha East and OK Falls; Spencer Coyne, Princeton Mayor, Sue McKortoff, Osoyoos Mayor; I suggest they build a homeless shelter down on the beach near their bandshell.

Tim Cottrill, alternate director for Okanagan Lake West/West Bench; West Bench would be a good place for a homeless shelter they along with Keremeos and Cawston they have lots of room.

Goodness there would even be lots of food for them to snack on.

They probably already have porta potties for their fruit pickers.

Elvena Slump


Does everything need to revolve around alcohol

Dear Editor:

The sun is providing a little more heat, trees are putting on their green and everyone is ready to burst out of that bubble.

Perhaps this is the time for a sober reflection before we just go for it.

Over the past few years, local governments have been easing the regulations on alcohol and its sale.

It started, here in Penticton, with designated areas in parks, for consumption , then the request to carry open alcohol from location to location, then a request to sell liquor in a park, then a request to have a licensed restaurant in Skaha Park.

With the vending hub idea offered up for the parks , just what will they eventually be selling? Alcohol?

The latest brain child is restaurants offering picnics with booze to go. While I understand the attraction to businesses, take a moment to think about this further step.

Think of the emergency services that are now picking up the pieces of people behaving badly.

Now we have an application to open a brewery beside the KVR trail.

Do you want alcohol to be involved in every aspect of your daily life?

Ask Pathways how well that works out.

Lynn Crassweller


Basic history of Black Lives Matter

Dear Editor:

In light of what is happening in the States regarding black males versus the cops, and the concurrent injustice in the courts, many people will say, “What about white lives?”

Sure, white lives matter, but then they always have, while black lives never have — in white societies, anyway.

Joy Lang


Compassion is first step to solving an issue

Dear Editor:

In response to Tom Isherwood’s letter “Unsympathetic for self-inflicted harm” (Herald, April 17), I would suggest he read Jesse Thistle’s book “From the Ashes” which was selected for Canada Reads this year. There is a solution to homelessness and addiction and it is compassion and connection.

Karen Krout


Will North America become the next Syria?

Dear Editor:

Re: NATO to redeploy its troops from Afghanistan and Europe to North America to quell civil unrest and maintain law and order.

No doubt Russia and China would be happy to contribute assistance to NATO as a gesture of goodwill.

Is North America to become the next Syria?

Stay well.

Joe Schwarz


Not impressed with mayor’s behaviour

Dear Editor:

Dare I say it, Mayor John Vassilaki’s behaviour around the recent homeless shelter dispute leaves something to be desired.

Peter Benson


For the world’s sake, vaccinate for COVID

Dear Editor:

Seventy years ago a killer Myxoma virus was released in Australia to curb a massive overpopulation of European rabbits. 99% of Australia’s rabbits died.

The Bubonic Plague, (The Black Death), wiped out large segments of populations in the Middle Ages.

The "Spanish Flu" of 1918-20 killed 50 million plus. Now the coronavirus has spread worldwide killing or maiming, while starting to evolve into variants, each in some ways worse.

Anti-Viral Vaccination was started by Edward Jenner in the 1790s with smallpox. In the last century other vaccines were perfected that rid us of polio, diphtheria, scarlet fever, measles, whooping cough, etc. Fortunately we have learned from the past, and once COVID-19 arrived, immediately researched, developed, tested, and manufactured anti-COVID vaccines.

These will evolve in time into ones that are the most effective, the least harmful, and the easiest to distribute. Eventually these will be distributed world wide and hopefully COVID will follow polio and the other killer viruses oath: To oblivion as long as a sufficiently large percentage or the world’s population continue the necessary vaccinations.

There have been, and always will be vocal anti-vaccination groups, despite medical and historical evidence. Religion, fake medical studies, political or financial motivation, or just plain contrariness drive the protestors. Even Jenner, 220 years ago, was assailed by anti-vaccinationists.

For the world’s sake, vaccinate.

Bradley Houston


Stroke turned dad’s world upside down

Dear Editor:

I found your two-page story on the future of stroke care in Saturday’s Herald to be bittersweet for me.

I will donate in memory of my dad, and also with the hope that the fundraising will continue to help others get the help they need to recover. My dad had a stroke Feb. 23, 2006. He got the buster drug, which I believe saved his life, but he was still left with paralysis on his dominant side.

I was fortunate to be able to spend every day of the last 10 months of his life with him. Like Rachel Skinner, my dad’s stroke turned our world upside down. I can understand the statement in the story — "Still one of the most deadly and debilitating medical crises of our time."

My dad went from being a very active man to needing assistance to get out of bed, literally, overnight. The late Dr. David Novak was exemplary in his care of my dad, but unfortunately the effects of his stroke were lasting. He didn’t want to live in a body that no longer worked for him.

Imagine going from playing tennis in the 55-Plus Games to needing help to stand up and take steps. He was scheduled to go to rehab early in the new year, when enough staff were back from holidays, but unfortunately he lost his battle on Christmas morning of 2006.

It wasn’t until his autopsy that we found out that he died from a large blood clot in one of his lungs, the result of being so sedentary because of the paralysis. I will always miss my dad and I remember him as the vibrant and strong man that he was before his stroke.

This article showed me that whether you’re 74 or 47, it can happen to you!

Heather Jackson

Okanagan Falls

Skaha Estates paying freight for OK Falls

Dear Editor:

Once again, Okanagan Falls aspires to become a town while expecting to use the tax bases of Skaha Estates, Lakeshore Highlands, and Heritage Hills to pay for it.

But these three subdivisions are suburbs of Penticton, not suburbs of Okanagan Falls, a village which offers us only two things, Tickleberries and the library.

For decades, these three Penticton suburbs have paid taxes to support services which benefit only Okanagan Falls, like its plethora of parks which we do not use.

My community of Skaha Estates paid for its own lakefront park, and we alone pay for its annual maintenance. Not a dime of Okanagan Falls taxes has ever been contributed to our park. Skaha Estates is a community where tax dollars flow in only one direction — out to the benefit of Okanagan Falls.

When former RDOS director Tom Siddon wanted to finally provide Heritage Hills with a park, he knew that just asking Okanagan Falls residents to do the right thing after decades of Heritage Hills paying taxes for parks that they do not use in OK Falls would not pass in a referendum. So, to ensure that the vote would pass, he tempted OK Falls residents by proposing to buy even more parkland for them on the same referendum.

Siddon’s other accomplishment was to protect his own village of Kaleden by removing it from RDOS Area D, where it might be beyond the avaricious grasp of Okanagan Falls.

Watch out Kaleden, the province might decide that you should become part of the new town to help pay the bills.

After all, if the province can assemble a town of 4,500 people, then that town will have to pay all policing costs by itself with no help from the province. (Osoyoos just crossed that 4,500 person threshold, and has to pay much more as a result.)

Gee, if Okanagan Falls becomes big enough, maybe the province will even give it its very own homeless shelter to increase the crime statistics and justify more police.

As Okanagan Falls seeks to increase the taxes on its neighbours for things that will only benefit the Falls, they might remember the parable of killing the golden goose.

Or, here’s a novel idea: how about Okanagan Falls paying for things that benefit only it instead of taxing us?

Alan Whitman

Skaha Estates