LETTERS: It is us who have taken over deer habitat

Penticton Western News letters to the editor for the Nov. 14, 2014 issue.

It is us who have taken over the deer habitat

I sympathize with letter writer Mr. Meyers’ (Western News, Nov. 5, Near and deer) old dog having an unpleasant encounter with a deer.

On the other hand, the owner’s reaction, as in so many cases of such meetings with non-domesticated animals, seems largely a lack of appreciation why the deer behaved thus.

Deer are not, and never were, the sweet Disneyland Bambis Mr. Meyers, and many others, seem to believe exist somewhere in the depths of the forest.

Whether living in urban areas or elsewhere, they are wild animals.  They are also a prey animal whose response to whatever they perceive as danger is either flight or fight. And yes, prey animals do fight if they feel it necessary for their or their youngs’ survival.

Given that dogs are predators with wolf ancestors, deer perceive dogs of whatever age as a potential danger to a deer.  Their perception of humans may be more complicated. I suspect that deer living in urban areas have realized that humans there by and large aren’t dangerous; however, in the wild, deer do consider humans a predator and disappear quickly. I have semi-joked to friends that the quick way to remove deer from urban areas would be to bring back coyotes, wolves, and cougars! Even in urban areas, however, deer may consider humans, especially those with dogs, to be suspect and, if unable to easily flee, will assert themselves

Mr. Meyers talks about the deer seeming “entitled.” I think the shoe is on the other foot.  It’s not the deer who take over our habitat, require that we behave as they would like us to, or decide to kill us when we seem too numerous or become a nuisance.  These are not pieces of meat on hooves that humans are entitled to do with as we wish; they are intelligent living creatures and deserve our respect and a minimal attempt to understand how they view the world around them.

One may never understand completely why any other creature behaves as it does in a particular situation, nor do we need to approve of everything they do that affects us,  but to simply dismiss what they do as a nuisance, stupid or entitled is only to show our own ignorance and arrogance.

Since we are potential prey as well as predators, consider your reaction if you thought you were being considered as lunch!

Eva Durance


Flip-flopping candidate

At the Oct. 6 Penticton city council meeting, Coun. John Vassilaki gave an enthusiastic 100 per cent endorsement to the Main Street revitalization project. He stated that it was the first time in his history on council that he could stand up and holler “wow,” in support of a recommendation from a city committee and staff.

His vote for the project, along with those of other councillors, was appreciated by many who participated in the downtown revitalization public engagement process over the past couple of years, myself included. But now that voting day draws near, Mr. Vassilaki suddenly states that the project (which is largely being paid for by funds from senior government) should have gone to public referendum. He’s also now not in favour of proposed traffic changes. Why didn’t he raise those issues sooner?

Moreover, mayoral hopeful Vassilaki says that millions are now needed to upgrade the industrial area. If elected, will he then put upgrade costs for the industrial area to a referendum? At least he won’t have to worry about financing for street upgrades and new sidewalks in that part of town.  Penticton’s taxpayers have already forked out 50 per cent of the costs of those $2 million upgrades in 2003.

I don’t recall Mr. Vassilaki, a councillor at the time, calling for a referendum then.

On his campaign website, on the subject of, “why you should consider voting for me?” Mr. Vassilaki writes,  “…we need a mayor with vast business experience and knowledge, who has many successful accomplishments in purchasing and developing large holdings.”  In other words, he believes we need a real estate developer such as himself to be mayor of our city.  Really?

I’d rather elect a mayor who has good communication skills, who will be an articulate advocate at UBCM and its federal equivalent for the infrastructure and social service needs of Penticton, one who understands the concept of conflict of interest and doesn’t believe it’s up to staff to let him know when he should recuse himself from a vote.  And, on a more immediate issue, one who respects the decisions approved by himself and the rest of council after a solid public engagement process such as that undertaken to develop plans for Penticton’s Main Street revitalization.

Loraine Stephanson



Vote for a leader

Finally Penticton has a candidate for mayor who has a successful track record in business. One who understands profit and loss, when to spend and when to curtail spending.

John Vassilaki has, from humble beginning, become a very successful business man. Over the years John has employed hundreds of people here in Penticton. Many young people worked for John in order to pay their way through college and helping these folks to achieve their long term goals.

We are glad Penticton will be lead by someone that worked hard and became successful. There are many issues facing us over the next four years but to spend tax money on a pie in the sky wish list is unnecessary. Lets spend those dollars on much needed infrastructure upgrades. Strong guidance and an open government is paramount. Thank you for stepping up John. Good for you.

Rick Riddall and Gail Riddall



Like father, like daughter

I did not know Toni Boot when she grew up in Summerland but I did meet her father when I returned to my home town in 1978 to practice law in this area. Todd Lee was a senior probation office working out of the Penticton Courts in those days. Because a good percentage of my practice was criminal law, I had considerable contact with him. It quickly became apparent  why Mr. Lee was held in high regard in the legal community. He treated each of his clients as a diamond in the rough and attempt to fashion an  outside the box solution to turn a life around. He then used his considerable energy to sell his idea at sentencing proceedings before the court.

It was some time after I had met Toni as a customer at her business that I became aware that Todd was her adoptive father. It immediately became apparent to me that all the positive character traits that were so admired in her father had been instilled in her. She took a woebegone piece of land and through foresight and a tenacious work ethic turned it not only into the viable business of Grassland Nursery, but also a valuable  educational facility for water sustainability and home food production.

I write this letter because Toni not only has deep roots in this community, but has shown she reflects the ethics that she adopted from a very positive family environment. I know that with a seat on Summerland council she will be able to use her considerable talents to help formulate policies to take the community into a sensible future.

Brian Adams



Do You Vote?

Have any of you out there that don’t bother yourselves to vote ever stopped your brain and asked yourselves,”what would our country be like to live in, if none of us got out and voted?”

Has the person you wanted to see get in got your vote?

If you don’t vote, and your preferred didn’t get in, just remind yourself at the end result, you contributed.

How do you feel now?

Joan Johnson



A platform for all

One obvious answer was missed as candidates were asked “How would you go about making the city more attractive for people to move their families to?” Summarizing Ryan Foster’s platform yields three main pillars: food, fuel and funds.

We’re in an agricultural region with a century-old heritage. Supporting small-scale food production, processing and distribution by and for young families and others right here in the Penticton area is a critical employment and business opportunity.

Ryan Foster is a director of the Penticton Urban Agriculture Association, which has provided courses in food growing with a teaching garden downtown. Now other individuals and initiatives such as Incredible Edible are taking up the cause of using urban land for food growing.

Okanagan College distinguishes itself as a tech teaching centre, but why not expand its offerings to teach ways of producing food in small-scale plots scattered within and around urban areas. Curtis Stone has pioneered Small Plot Intensive (SPIN) farming in Kelowna and makes his living not only farming in urban spaces, but teaching the concept. With city and college support for expanding and enhancing the food-producing ability of this region, young families could supply nutritious, affordable and readily available food for all while teaching their children the joy of local food abundance.

Fuel is another of Ryan Foster’s platform pillars. Renewable energy from solar, wind, hydro and ground sources has already been embraced at the Centre of Excellence at Okanagan College. Young people can be encouraged to stay in Penticton, or move here, to develop their skills in these technologies and have solid, satisfying, well-paid employment as they decrease our dependency on fossil fuels and cost of living and also help create more energy efficient, affordable housing.

Funds is a third pillar of Ryan Foster’s platform and this means good jobs that enhance the quality of life for everyone in the region. The City of Penticton must support local initiatives to promote affordable, sustainable living. The basics of life – food, clothing, shelter, transportation – plus communications technology can all be produced in Penticton.

If residents experience quality employment, bountiful local food, and low energy costs, abundance in terms of local spending and municipal revenues will enhance community resiliency.

Ryan Foster’s platform offers all Penticton residents the opportunity to develop and benefit from a localized economy that will create a strong community that can weather whatever changes, internally or externally, that buffet it in future.

Merle Kindred



Learn from past actions

The Summerland municipal election campaign appears to have generated a great deal of discussion around the removal of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve, communication and openness.  We would like to remind residents of Summerland that the Advisory Planning Commission (APC) of Summerland at their Jan. 31, 2014 meeting unanimously moved and passed that the APC recommend not removing the proposed 87 hectares out of the Agricultural Land Reserve and further unanimously moved and passed that the APC does not accept the plan as presented.  The plan that was rejected was the OCP Amendment – Growth Strategy report.

One of the areas the APC reviews and advises the council on is the removal of land from the ALR along with amendments to the official community plan. Of the incumbents that are running in this election councillors Orv Robson, Marty Van Alphen and Rob Hacking did not heed the advice from the APC and voted to accept the report and request removal of the land from the ALR. Councillor Bruce Hallquist recused himself because he has land that is within the 87 hectares. Councillor Peter Waterman voted to retain the land in the ALR.

If you care about the ALR, local food production, and ensuring maintenance of our food supply please take these past actions into consideration when casting your vote.

Frank Kappel



Advice from former mayor

In my last term as mayor, 2005-2008, the city reserves when I took office were at $33.8 million. When I left office the reserves were at $39.1 million.

All three of the service reserve accounts were also increased substantially. In 2008, I was accused of bankrupting the city. Since then, the last two terms of council have spent thousands of those reserve monies on lawyers because of poor decisions, poor staff advice, but who gave the approval for the dormitory construction to go ahead and approved the blinds on Cherry Lane Towers? The outgoing council has also awarded relief on property taxes for new buildings for up to five years. Did Landmark need relief? Certainly didn’t ask for it when I dealt with them.

Most recently, the outgoing council have provided exemption on new businesses, restaurants etc, creating a totally unfair market against well-established businesses who may now have to close their doors because they can no longer compete in an unfair market. A precedent-setting initiative by this outgoing council, which will be very difficult for a new council to reverse and recover the loss of those taxes, unfortunately, the loss will now have to be taken up by the residential property owners.

It seems because the incumbents are desperate to get re-elected they have attempted to keep taxes at zero increases, and literally give away taxes. This has now left the city with an infrastructure that is literally falling apart, especially road surfaces.

Judge for yourselves, check out Main Street, Riverside Drive, Industrial Avenue. These are just three roads that are in bad need of repair, not patching up as they have done for six years. If a road surface is collapsing it’s guaranteed the underground services will be subject to collapsing then breaking, as recently reported in the paper on the water supply pipeline from the lake.  Because this council has failed to have the courage to increase taxes, the incoming council will now have to address the need to upgrade the infrastructure. The only way to do that is to introduce a significant tax hike.

All I’ve heard from the mayoralty candidates is, “we need well paying jobs” and “we need to promote tourism.”  If you wish to achieve these objectives then spend money on the infrastructure, clean up the city, stop downloading taxes onto the homeowner.  We have the lowest business taxes verses residential property taxes in the province.

My experience while in office has shown me that investors look very closely at the image of a city as much as they do about the level of property taxes they will have to pay.

It’s also a known fact that skilled employees will move to new employment provided they upgrade their quality of life and the new city has the amenities, security and cleanliness better than where they previously lived. Tourists likewise will not return to a city if it appears run down and poorly maintained, several locals have referred this concern in letters to the editor.

My message to anyone elected into council is; be courageous enough to increase taxes and bring this city back to good roads, good services, good security. Most of all put more money into cleaning up the city especially the downtown core.

Why not powerwash the sidewalks twice a week in the summer? Downtown will look cleaner and smell better.

Oh yes, I would definitely put the brakes on the downtown upgrade if you don’t make it the same as Martin Street (sorry that upgrade doesn’t work for me), it will also look like we live in two different cities within one block of each other.

Jake Kimberley



Whoopee we landed on a comet

Well, I do not believe it, because I cannot even see a comet. Anyone can tell me he landed on a comet, which does not mean he really did so.

I did not see it and I think, that anyone person on this planet seen the probe landing on a comet. I do not believe it because, the comet, if there is one out there, must be several million miles from earth. There is not a telescope on earth, which could detect a teeny-weenie probe from earth millions of miles away. I believe that this hoax falls into the category of something funny happened on the way to the Moon, when the cameraman was already on the moon when the astronauts arrived there. Or the three trillion dollar hoax, the weapons of mass destruction hoax, or the murder of Bin Laden hoax and many more other hoaxes, too many to list here.

Over the years, I have become a bit resistant against hoaxes and I detect most of them as soon as they arrived on the stupidity accelerator. Should anyone be able to see the event personally, I would like to hear from him, but let me know how you seen the landing on the comet. Please do not tell me that you seen it on the flat screen TV in real time, like 9/11, or that you made the computer animation yourself.

Otto Sturhahn



Pre-election jab is no surprise

I wish to respond to Summerland Coun.  Christopherson’s latest attack (Western News letters to the editor, Nov .5, 2014) regarding the loss of Kettle Valley Dried Fruit business during my term as mayor.

When this issue first came to council I studied it intensely. Strangely, there was no evidence of any effort to expand  their  business on the highway. The manager had returned to his home town, St. Catharines  Ont., for “personal reasons.” This was the primary reason he left Summerland. I respected his reason for privacy then and I continue to respect that privacy six years later. Incidentally, the Ontario government provided the manager with a grant of $884,570 to form  the Niagara Natural Fruit Snacks Company. The company itself, Kettle Valley Dried Fruits, had been bought by U.S. based SunOpta in 2003, several years earlier. The American federal and state governments provided grants to SunOpta to improve their Omak, Wash., operations. Kettle Valley Dried Fruits Company was not offered any provincial grants to remain in Summerland.

Christopherson is one of the councillors who will benefit from the ALR swap land.  To take a shot at me prior to the election comes as no surprise to most of Summerland. His council did the rush job to build a new library before the election with minimal planning and maximum disruption. A five-year contract with the chamber of commerce. The pre-election propaganda district newsletter (September) that the taxpayer paid for. The rush job to strangely award a 20-year contract for gravel extraction. Who does 20-year contracts?  The Penticton Western News has already received a letter from another ALR land swap beneficiary, Don Hudgeon. He has been on at least two official community plan committees and the Advisory Planning Commission, but the public is not supposed to know about that.

Old time politics of self interest continues to hurt our town.

David Gregory



Numbers are electrifying

In evaluating data in fields not my own, particularly with apparently conflicting data, I consider expertise, credibility and motivation.

Scientists present evidence against smart meters in over 6,000 peer-reviewed journal articles. Privacy, grid security, safety and increased costs are also concerns.

According to Wikipedia, in 2005 Fortis earned a profit of $137.1 million Canadian from revenue of $1.44 billion.  The company is the largest investor-owned distribution utility in Canada. The 2013 annual report is at www.envisionreports.com. Fortis Inc.’s primary responsibility is to its shareholders.

The European Environment Agency states, “There are many examples of the failure to use the precautionary principle in the past, which have resulted in serious and often irreversible damage to health and environments. Appropriate, precautionary and proportionate actions taken now to avoid plausible and potentially serious threats to health from EMF are likely to be seen as prudent and wise from future perspectives.”

There is no benefit to scientists in opposing smart meters, except in knowing they are doing the right thing in presenting good data enabling politicians to protect their constituents. Fortis had 45 minutes to present to the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkmeen. World-renowned cancer researcher, Dr. Malcolm Paterson, was given 10 minutes to outline the scientific evidence underlying the growing concerns regarding the potential for non-thermal health impacts (e.g. latent cancers) from chronic, cumulative  exposure to smart meters. He has offered to meet any Fortis representative to publically discuss the complexities of this risky technology and the attendant adverse health effects. When is the public meeting on smart meters scheduled?

A former deputy minister of Saskatchewan, stated that SaskPower adopts a precautionary principle in protecting its customers. SaskPower is removing smart meters, reinstalling analog meters. Sixty jurisdictions in British Columbia have approved a moratorium on mandatory smart meter installations (citizensforsafetechnology.org).

The RDOS is responsible for protecting its citizens and has the authority to follow other B.C. jurisdictions.  Contact your candidates. Demand protection for your family.  Insist politicians adhere to the RDOS Mission, “to initiate and implement policies which preserve and enhance the quality of life and serve the broader public interest in an effective, equitable, environmental and fiscally responsible manner.”  Vote accordingly.

Jennifer Strong



Enough with the texting

Dear people of Penticton,

I’m sick and tired of seeing people driving while talking or texting on their cell phone. Put the phone down! Enough already.

Heather vanRyswyk



Get out and vote Penticton

I am writing this letter to the editor to implore the citizens of our fair city to get out tomorrow and vote in Penticton’s municipal election.

Voter apathy has been a problem in elections across Canada for many years now. This apathy probably stems from a feeling that every politician is the same, or that nothing ever changes by voting, or that one vote simply does not matter. The apathy may even stem from our fast-paced lifestyles, or just pure laziness.

The fact is that every vote matters in an election, especially in a small city such as Penticton. In the few Penticton elections some seats were won by very small margins. This means that every vote is very, very important.

Your vote may be even more important than you think. Your right to vote is a right and a privilege that many have had to fight for to get. Women in British Columbia were not allowed to vote until 1917. Minority groups such as the Hutterites, Mennoites, Natives and the Japanese weren’t allowed to vote until the late 1940’s.

Even in more modern history, many nations of the world have had to fight to remove corrupt regimes or fight for their basic human rights. This is demonstrated by the Massacre at Tiananmen Square in China (in the late 1980’s), or the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle-East in 2010. These events may have been avoided, if proper voting systems were in place, where citizens could add or remove the corrupt regime of politicians.

I understand that voting systems are fallible and even in Canada we have to scrutinize the votes. No system is perfect, however that is no excuse to not exercise your right to vote. It is the system that we have and must work with.

Your vote is your say in government activities. If you don’t like a politician, vote them out and try someone new. If you respect a politician, make sure to make time in your hectic life to vote for them again. Voting is our society’s way of establishing checks and balances that maintain a healthy democratic system.

There are many familiar faces (with valuable experience) on the Penticton ballot, as well as, new candidates looking to tackle the city’s problem with fresh ideas. The time to change Penticton for the better is right now! That being said Penticton, please take time to vote in our municipal election tomorrow and facilitate the positive change that you are looking for in Penticton.

Voting is at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre. Voting is from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

David MacCoubrey

Get Out and Vote Penticton