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Posts Tagged "address"

14Jul

Tiny Village of Deep Cove needs big solution to address ‘growing problem’ of crowds

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Hundreds, if not thousands, flock to the tiny Village of Deep Cove each day in the summer to enjoy the area’s picture-postcard beauty.

The crowds in recent years have increased so much that officials had to introduce new parking rules and a limit on how many people can use the local trail.

But some businesses and locals believe more measures are needed to handle the influx of visitors.

“The locals, for lack of a better word, have resigned to the fact that they have no ownership of the cove for six to seven months of the year,” said Arash Memarzadah, who runs the family-operated Pomegranate Grillhouse and Café.

Memarzadah said many of his regular customers avoid the village in the summer because of parking and overcrowding issues.

He said the experience isn’t always a positive one for visitors, either.

“You spend 20 minutes trying to get down into the cove. You spend another 20 minutes trying to find parking. You get out, it’s way too busy. There’s no corner store, there’s no tourism centre, you go down to the restaurants and everyone has wait times.”

The District of North Vancouver has been trying to combat the overcrowding on its popular hiking trails.

For the second year in a row, it introduced a restriction on the number of hikers for Quarry Rock.

It also implemented new parking rules, including adding more permit parking spots and overflow parking lots; limiting how long people can stay in some lots; and increasing enforcement.

District Mayor Mike Little said the issue is not unique to Deep Cove.

“It’s a growing problem. It’s a growing concern. It’s something that we’re going to have to manage traffic in more than just Deep Cove — in several sites across the District of North Vancouver,” he said.

But Memarzadah said parking is just one of the issues and businesses are finding themselves having to deal with other tasks.

“We just have people walking in needing an ATM, needing cigarettes, needing washrooms, needing to know which direction is Quarry Rock,” he said. “We didn’t sign up for that. It’s not Pomegranate Café and Public Washroom.”

Little said none of the recreation destinations on the North Shore have publicly funded information centres, including Grouse Mountain and Capilano Suspension Bridge.

He said many of the visitors are from other parts of the Greater Vancouver Area and a long-term solution would require collaboration from the region and the province.

“We’re seen as the backyard playground for much of the Lower Mainland. It’s something that’s going to take a regional response,” he said.

Memarzadah said he would like to see a big-picture solution that changes the dynamic of the village.

“It’s not that we don’t want people coming down to the cove. We have to decide, what do we want to be? The infrastructure was not built to handle this many people,” he said. 


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13Jan

Housing agency aims to address rental squeeze in Merritt, B.C.

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While large metropolitan areas such as Greater Vancouver often steal the spotlight as the epicentre of the province’s affordable housing crisis, it’s not an issue confined by municipal boundaries.

In fact, in 2017, the city of Merritt, B.C., about three hours east of Vancouver, had a vacancy rate of 2.2 per cent, lower than the national 2.4 average, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). 

The municipality’s need for affordable housing caught the attention of the Anhart Housing Community, non-profit society committed to preventing homelessness, which intends to build two buildings with enough space for 76 units in the heart of the Merritt.

If its development permit is approved, Anhart expects the property to be open for rentals within two years.

Anhart project manager Larissa Muir says getting people housed is crucial because it can provide a broader impact on the local community.

“When people are housed they feel safe, they feel secure,” said Muir.

“That then has a considerable impact on people’s mental and physical health that can then trickle down into economic impacts in the community.” 

Although it’s now branching out into smaller Canadian towns, Anhart began its first housing operations on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside securing low-income rental units for those at risk of homelessness.

In Merritt, to determine whether there was a need for affordable housing, the organization conducted a survey of 400 people.

Muir notes that almost 50 per cent of respondents expressed complete dissatisfaction with their current accommodations. She says respondents complained of living in old, rundown rentals.

“It’s the aging rental stock that hasn’t been maintained,” said Muir to Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce.

She says the survey showed that both the senior and student population have had difficulty finding housing they can afford and which also meets certain requirements, such as accessibility.

Once completed, the housing to be built by Anhart, would be targeted at renters with an annual income below $40,000.

The organization has applied for financing through the CMHC to develop a 1.6 hectare property at 3757 De Wolf way, Merritt B.C.

Muir says the team has already had meetings with both the current and the previous mayor, as well as a number of other stakeholders.

Next, Anhart will apply for a development permit and present its plans to city council.

You can listen to the full interview below;

Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce speaks with Larissa Muir, project manager of Anhart Community Housing, about bringing affordable housing to Merritt, B.C. 5:58

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2Nov

Dr. Derryck Smith: B.C. government unethical to deny patients the right to buy private care when public system fails to address their suffering

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Psychiatrist Dr. Derryck Smith argues that it is unethical for the provincial government to deny patients the right to hire private medical services when the waitlists for public care are too long. (Les Bazso/PNG FILES)


Les Bazso Bruce Edwards / PROVINCE

I recently testified at the Cambie Surgery Centre trial in B.C. Supreme Court. This legal action was against the government of B.C. to determine whether the citizens of the province have the right to pay privately for insured medical services. At issue is the unacceptably long wait lists for many orthopedic procedures. Individuals who require joint-replacement surgery often suffer excessive wait times for surgical treatment while struggling with severe, unrelenting pain and the resulting disability.

Until now, patients who are able to pay could elect to go through a private surgical clinic to have their surgery, which offers rapid pain relief, gets them moving again, and reduces their risk of other serious illness associated with inactivity. The provincial government is wanting to deny citizens access to privately funded services such as orthopedic surgery and magnetic resonance imaging. If waiting lists were reasonable, individuals would not pay thousands of dollars for a service that would be free in the public sector.

Certain groups, including the RCMP and WorkSafeBC patients are exempted from the prohibition of privately paid medical treatment and have guaranteed access to privately funded services on an expedited basis.

I am fully supportive of publicly funded healthcare, having provided psychiatric care for 35 years as part of the Canadian Medicare system. However, it has become nearly impossible for general practitioners to access timely psychiatric care for their patients. Patients who suffer from serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression and remain symptomatic for an extended period, do much worse than patients diagnosed, treated early and completely. Lengthy periods of untreated illness are associated with a greater likelihood that treatment will not be effective, increased functional impairment and heightened risk of suicide.

Access to psychiatry is limited by a number of factors. To see a psychiatrist, a family practitioner must determine if a referral is appropriate and necessary. They then send a referral to the psychiatrist, asking them to accept the patient for assessment. A large percentage of patients in B.C. do not have a family doctor and rely on walk-in clinics, where they see a doctor who has no long-term knowledge of their health. GPs working at walk-in clinics may not have a well-established referral network.

In 2006, the Canadian Psychiatric Association set ideal maximum wait times for patients with serious psychiatric illnesses. The guidelines stipulate that the most seriously depressed patients should be assessed within 24 hours. In B.C., patients in a psychiatric crisis can be assessed in a hospital emergency room, although waiting times in emergency rooms are excessive and for many, intolerable.

The association recommended that patients who are in an “urgent state” should be assessed by a psychiatrist within two weeks. Patients with depression who are in a “scheduled state” with “tolerable symptoms or disability,” should be assessed and treated within four weeks. It is my clinical experience that the current waiting list for patients to be referred to psychiatrists for major depression is frequently four to six months or even longer.

In 2011, prominent psychiatrist Dr. Elliott Goldner published his research on access to psychiatric care in Vancouver. Goldner created a fictional case of an adult male patient presenting with depression seeking a referral to a psychiatrist from their family doctor. The researchers called all 297 psychiatrists practicing within the Vancouver area. Of the 230 who were successfully contacted, 70 per cent said they were unable to accept the referral, 30 per cent indicated they might be able to consider accepting a referral after they had reviewed a detailed written referral note. Furthermore, they would not provide an estimate of the wait time, even if the patient was to be accepted. Only seven of the 230 psychiatrists offered an appointment time. Their wait times ranged from four to 55 days.

This research documents the real-life challenge that GPs and their patients face when trying to access timely psychiatric care. Family doctors do not have the time or resources to contact every practicing psychiatrist in their community to determine who will accept their patients. Typically, they try one psychiatrist, and if the referral is rejected, and it may take days or weeks to receive a response, then they move on to a second psychiatrist. There is no central registry for psychiatric referrals. Likewise, there are little or no private psychiatric services available, so patients with depression must waiting inordinate amounts of time for appropriate assessment and treatment.

British Columbia should establish a central registry of psychiatrists who are accepting patients, as well as a central intake number where GPs can refer their patients, who would then be matched to a psychiatrist who can see them in a timely fashion.

This centralized system would also allow the health authorities and the public to have access to real-time statistics related to psychiatric care. If the maximum ideal waiting time for a patient with depression is consistently exceeded additional psychiatric resources should be funded. Alternately, patients should be allowed to access private services.

I primarily discuss psychiatric services in this article. Readers should know that our government wants to eliminate any access to private health care using prohibitive fines for doctors who provide private services. This is in spite of the fact that 80,000 adult patients in B.C. are currently waiting for non-emergency surgery. This draconian measure is both unethical and constitutes a threat to our collective health.

If our publicly funded healthcare system cannot provide timely medical services, using well established guidelines for maximum waiting times, then individual citizens should be allowed to use their own funds to access appropriate healthcare. This is the case in almost every other healthcare system in the world.

We need to urgently discuss these issues with our elected representatives.

Dr. Derryck Smith is a clinical professor emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of B.C.


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