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Posts Tagged "local"

24Jul

Port Alberni rocked by national manhunt for local teens after first believing the pair was lost in the bush

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PORT ALBERNI — The blue sky and lush greenery surrounding the chalet-style home across the street from beautiful Sproat Lake belied the pain, confusion and fear that must have been felt by the people inside.

It’s the home of 19-year-old Kam McLeod, who with his friend, 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky, is the subject of a manhunt that has now moved to remote northeastern Manitoba, almost 3,000 kilometres from where the bodies of two tourists were found on July 15 that sparked a Canada-wide search.

Set in an idyllic, rural and recreational setting, Sproat Lake is a 20-minute drive from central Port Alberni.

Inside the home were McLeod’s parents and, judging by the number of vehicles parked outside the home, supportive family and friends. Phone calls to Keith McLeod, Kam’s dad, went unanswered and private-property signs warned unwanted visitors to stay away.


CP-Web. Alan Schmegelsky, father of Bryer Schmegelsky, poses for a photo.

Laura Kane /

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Keith McLeod had earlier issued a statement saying the family felt trapped in their home, worried about their son, trying to wrap their heads around the head-spinning developments of the past three days, and praying Kam would come home safely.

Even the FBI had visited, according to a friend of the McLeods, who asked not to be identified — 24-year-old Chynna Deese of North Carolina and her boyfriend, 23-year-old Lucas Fowler of Australia, were the first two victims of murder the RCMP have said two Port Alberni teens are wanted for.

A third victim was identified by police on Wednesday as Leonard Dyck of Vancouver. Police have formally charged the Port Alberni duo with his second-degree murder.

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Phone calls to the home of Caroline Starkey, maternal grandmother to Schmegelsky and with whom the teen had been living for the past two years, went unanswered.

Three passing vehicles slowed down to look menacingly at a Postmedia reporter and photographer. “Leave them alone!” one elderly man who had stopped his pickup truck yelled.

“Everybody I’ve talked to is in shock,” said Susie Quinn, editor of the Alberni Valley News. “This went from being two kids who were missing, to overnight being suspects in three deaths, that’s the sense I get.”


Security camera images recorded in Saskatchewan of Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are displayed as RCMP Sgt. Janelle Shoihet speaks during a news conference in Surrey, B.C., on July 23, 2019.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

A street poll of residents showed a community unsure of what to say or how to feel until the ordeal plays itself out.

“It could happen anywhere,” a cashier who said McLeod’s parents are regular customers said.

“They seem like nice people,” added her colleague. “I don’t know anything about their son.”

Employees at the high school the two attended (Alberni District Secondary), at School District 70 headquarters, and at Walmart (where the two boys briefly worked) had all been instructed to say nothing.

One waitress downtown said she had known Kam McLeod, but hadn’t seen him in at least two years.

“I remember him as a nice kid,” she said. “I’m shocked.”

Added a customer inside a fast-food-joint: “What can you do? I’m just glad they didn’t do it here.”

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11Jun

People facing homelessness to get local support from grants

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People facing homelessness will receive help through grants that support strong, sustainable planning for local groups and organizations working on the front lines in British Columbia communities.

The Province is granting $6 million to the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC) for a Homelessness Community Action Grant to help groups address homelessness in their towns and cities. The grants will also support organizations with a provincewide focus to explore better ways of meeting the needs of particular groups of people that have a higher risk of experiencing homelessness.

“Preventing homelessness is a critical part of TogetherBC: BC’s Poverty Reduction Strategy,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Through these grants, we will build partnerships with local organizations and help people facing homelessness to prevent it from happening in the first place.”

SPARC BC will distribute the Homelessness Community Action Grants to groups and organizations over the next three years as a one-time grant to successful applicants. The chosen projects will build on local resources and knowledge about homelessness and its causes, increase public awareness and support, and respond to gaps in services for people experiencing homelessness. 

“Local organizations and non-profits are at the front lines of the homelessness crisis, and they have been doing great work creating partnerships to address homelessness at a local level,” said Lorraine Copas, executive director, SPARC BC. “This grant will support the sustainability of the work as they continue to make positive change.”

Through the Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program, the Province is investing $291 million to build 2,000 homes throughout B.C. and providing annual operating funding to provide 24/7 staffing and support services. Nearly 1,400 of the homes are complete.

“Homelessness touches virtually every corner of our province and affects at least 8,000 individuals on any given night of the year,” said Jill Atkey, CEO, BC Non-Profit Housing Association. “Combined with the historic investments in affordable housing now rolling out and a rapid response to homelessness through new supportive housing, this additional $6-million investment has the potential to help communities co-ordinate their supports for people experiencing homelessness.” 

TogetherBC, the province’s first poverty reduction strategy, was released in early 2019 and included a newly created Homelessness Coordination Office that will work with partners across government and in the community to deliver a co-ordinated and proactive response to homelessness.

“Homelessness is a complex issue that requires many solutions. The issues people face are different across communities and demographics,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Poverty Reduction. “We can only prevent homelessness by working together. This grant supports communities and organizations on the ground who are dedicated to finding local solutions to preventing poverty.”

Addressing poverty is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Quick Facts:

  • The Homelessness Action Grant application form will soon be available on the SPARC BC website.
  • TogetherBC, the Province’s first poverty reduction strategy, was released in March 2019 as a roadmap to reduce overall poverty by 25% and cut child poverty in half over five years.
  • Through the Building BC program, the Province works in partnership to build homes for people individuals and families, seniors, students, women and children leaving violence, Indigenous peoples and people experiencing homelessness.
  • More than 20,000 new homes are completed, under construction or in the approvals process in communities throughout B.C. as part of a $7-billion investment over 10 years in housing affordability.

Learn More:

Find out more about SPARC BC: https://www.sparc.bc.ca/

TogetherBC, B.C.’s first poverty reduction strategy:
ttps://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/initiatives-plans-strategies/poverty-reduction-strategy/togetherbc.pdf

Homes for B.C., a 30-point Plan for Housing Affordability in British Columbia:
https://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2018/homesbc/2018_homes_for_bc.pdf

Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program:
https://www.bchousing.org/partner-services/Building-BC/rapid-response-homelessness

A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is available online:
https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC


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11Dec

Assisted death transfers now declining: B.C. local health authorities

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Vancouver Coastal Health spokeswoman Carrie Stefanson says VCH does not allow publicly funded facilities to deke out of medical assistance in dying responsibilities unless they have a religious exemption:


Vancouver Coastal Health spokeswoman Carrie Stefanson says VCH does not allow publicly funded facilities to deke out of medical assistance in dying responsibilities unless they have a religious exemption:

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Local health regions are making significant progress in boosting the number of patients dying in place rather than being moved to facilities to obtain medical assistance in dying.

The Fraser Health region, where palliative care hospices have been especially resistant to providing medical assistance in dying (MAiD) on site because of philosophical opposition, has drastically reduced the number of patients transferred to other facilities on their last day or days of their lives, going from 27 transfers in 2017 and part of 2016 to only six in 2018, according to new data provided by the health authority.

“In each case, we carefully consider how to offer MAiD in the most patient-centred way we can as we strongly support the patient’s right to choose to access these services,” said Fraser Health spokeswoman Jacqueline Blackwell.

It has been one year since Fraser Health told hospices and other care facilities to stop transferring clients out for MAiD services. While some like the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner remain defiant, the latest data on the distressing, disruptive transfers that were occurring with much regularity last year show it is now becoming a more infrequent occurrence.

“We have been able to limit the number of transfers by understanding our patients’ end-of-life wishes and ensuring they receive care in a facility that can support them,” said Blackwell, referring to facilities that receive taxpayer funding.

“We believe hospice care is a critical part of the continuum of care, and we value those who provide this vital service, including the care providers, the volunteers and the administrators. We understand there are controversies surrounding this legal obligation and where and how to implement this. (But) we also respect that individuals and faith-based health care organizations can conscientiously object and not participate in the direct provision of medically assisted deaths, while providing safe and timely transfers for patients for further assessment and discussion of care options, if required.” 

Between the time when MAiD was legalized midway through 2016 to Oct. 31, 2018, 257 medically assisted deaths were provided in Fraser Health. Half of those were conducted in 2018.

While there are still some holdout hospices in the Fraser region, hospices in the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) region are providing MAiD except for those that are faith-based facilities; from those, 17 patients have been transferred so far this year.

Overall in 2018, there have been 131 provisions of MAiD within Vancouver Coastal, including the 17 affected who wanted it but had to go elsewhere.

Langley-Aldergrove Conservative MP Mark Warawa.


Langley-Aldergrove Conservative MP Mark Warawa.

Adrian Wyld /

Canadian Press files

Vancouver Coastal Health spokeswoman Carrie Stefanson said the health authority does not allow publicly funded facilities to deke out of MAiD responsibilities unless they have a religious exemption:

“VCH policy, and the B.C.’s health sector generally, respects that individuals and faith-based health care organizations can conscientiously object and not participate in the direct provision of medically assisted deaths while providing safe and timely transfers for patients for further assessment and discussion of care options if required.”

Mark Warawa, Conservative MLA for Langley-Aldergrove, said in an interview that hospices providing palliative care in the Fraser Valley don’t want to offer MAiD because it is inconsistent with their mandate to provide a haven for “a natural death” process and not to hasten death.

He said he believes residential homes and hospitals are the best places to offer MAiD. “This shouldn’t be forced on hospices,” he said, referring to an edict a year ago from Fraser Health that patients should not be transferred out of their last health care setting in order to get MAiD.

Warawa said over the last 18 months, his office staff has tried to reach out to provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix multiple times to discuss the hospice issue. Dix said in an email that he has spoken with Warawa and knows about his beliefs.

Dix said B.C. has been leading the country in end-of-life matters and enabling individuals to “make choices in how they unfold.”

“We are a leader in organ donation. And through B.C.’s Representation Agreement Act, we are a leader in how we set out in our wills our wishes and instructions for key parts of our end-of-life medical care. Ensuring that MAiD can be accessed by patients who meet the stringent criteria puts the onus on us — and our health-care facilities — to ensure patients’ move to this end-of-life choice is free of friction and the additional suffering it causes.”

Warawa said provinces have been given plenty of time to build enough capacity into the health care system for “assisted suicides” and if hospitals and non-denominational facilities don’t have enough resources for MAiD requests, then it may be time to build stand-alone “centres of excellence” for MAiD services.

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29Sep

Walk in the park or road to ruin? New path in Kamloops park raises local concerns

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Some Kamloops residents are raising issues about a new $3.7-million multi-use pathway which connects a city park to a neighbourhood southwest of the downtown.

One concerned resident, Carman-Anne Schulz, describes parks as her passion and thinks the project is, overall, a good idea. However, she thinks the 1.7-kilometre walking and cycling path as built is too wide and takes up too much space of what she calls a pristine park.

She also thinks it will be too difficult for many people to use because of steep grades.

“One of the selling factors for the trail was a mother could put one of those bikes on the trail that could carry their children and could cycle up and down that trail,” Schulz told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce.

“I’m a very strong cyclist, I’m 61, and I have to work hard. I have to back-and-forth a bit in my best hill-climbing gear… I’ve tried it.”

The path is in Peterson Creek Park and connects downtown Kamloops to the Sahali neighbourhood.

Carman-Anne Schulz says there are some problems with the soon-to-open cycling and walking path. (Shelley Joyce/CBC)

Schulz is also critical of the city for going $350,000 over the path’s original $3.35 million budget and is also concerned the park is too close to a marsh that she says is leaking water into retaining walls.

City believes project will be embraced

But officials with the City of Kamloops are defending their work on the project.

Liam Baker, the project’s manager, said the park’s larger footprint is for safety purposes: engineers, he explained, wanted cyclists and pedestrians to feel they had enough space to safely enjoy it.

“I think everyone will understand that it’s a really positive project once they get up here and walk it and bike it,” Baker said.

“Once they see how many people are using it and how much more access it grants to the whole parkland area, I think it’ll be really heavily used and appreciated.”

As for the budget overruns, Baker said those weren’t “too far out of line” for a project of this size. Council approved the extra spending, he added.

He admits the cycling grades could be considered a little steep but engineers had to contend with the existing topography of the park.

He believes water leaking issues have been sorted out but groundwater will be monitored.

The pathway is officially opens at the end of October.

Listen to the full story:

Some Kamloops residents are not happy about a new 1.7-kilometre, $3.7-million multi-use pathway in Peterson Creek Park connecting downtown to the Sahali neighbourhood. They are raising environmental, safety and accessibility concerns. 13:28

With files from CBC Radio One’s Daybreak Kamloops


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