Top of the Malahat  /  George Le Masurier photo

The Week: dangers for kids, where’s the bylaw, chuck the gas tax … and more

May 9, 2019 | Commentary, News

By George Le Masurier

PARENTS CONCERNED — What kind of weirdo hangs out of a moving truck to take video of Valley View Elementary school students walking home from school? It happened recently, and it’s not an isolated case. The Courtenay RCMP have received five reports of suspicious behavior around local schools.

Parents of school-age children have a lot to worry about these days. If it’s not adult pervs, then it’s bullying from other students. The digital era has added cyber bullying, sexting and inappropriate sharing on social media to the list of concerns for parents.

Perhaps, more thorough sexual health education programs in our schools — and at home — could help children and teens navigate this new and treacherous landscape.

WHERE’S THE NEW BYLAW? — Rural Comox Valley residents are taking an interest in proposed updates to the zoning bylaw. But they’d like to see the actual bylaw.

The CVRD has held one public open house to explain the proposed changes, and there are two more to come this month, in addition to a public hearing scheduled for August. But residents can only see the bylaw at these meetings. It is not available online.

This has irked some rural residents. They say if people could review the bylaw before going to the open houses, they could prepare questions and converse more intelligently about the proposed changes.

DO YOU VALUE OUR HERITAGE? — The Courtenay Heritage Advisory Commission is looking for some new members. Perhaps they could steal some from Comox … oh, wait, Comox doesn’t have a Heritage Commission, or a Heritage Register and, if the town has its way, no remaining buildings of heritage value.

But if you want to volunteer in Courtenay, contact Tatsuyuki Setta at or call 250-703-4839.

THEOS HAS IDEAS — Picking up on a challenge from Mayor Bob Wells to offer ideas to lower Courtenay taxes, rather than just whining about them, Councillor Mano Theos came armed to this week’s meeting with a few ideas.

Unfortunately, Theos is a little late to impact this year’s financial plan. And he didn’t offer any ideas about how to cut expenses. But he did suggest some revenue-generators that Councillor Doug Hillian’s new select committee on revenue could consider.

If the city has its own economic development officer focused on such matters — as does Cumberland, Campbell River, Powell River and Port Alberni — they might come to fruition sooner.

IT AIN’T OVER UNTIL I SAY SO — The Union Bay Improvement District elected two new members to its board recently, but they can’t assume their positions until the chair of the board calls an annual general meeting. And he’s not doing it, apparently because the chair’s views apparently differ from the new board members.

But there are legal question about how long the old board can continue to serve and make decisions without an AGM.

In short, Union Bay politics appears spiteful and crazy.

CHUCK THE GAS TAX — How does it feel to be leading the nation?

No, our roads have just as many potholes as Ontario and our sports teams aren’t winning anything. But, hey, we have the highest gasoline prices of any other province. Thanks, Alberta.

So, maybe it’s time to review our reliance on the gas tax.

More people are driving electric, hybrid and other highly fuel-efficient vehicles today than ever before. That’s good news for the environment, but it’s causing concern, not just at the pumps for consumers, but at the BC Ministry of Transportation over how to pay for upgrading and even maintaining our roadways.

As the number of fuel-efficient vehicles increases, including those that don’t require any gasoline at all, the provincial gas tax revenue will begin a similar and dramatic decline.

But, as the gas tax revenue decreases, the need to repair the province’s roads and fund new projects will remain the same, or more likely grow with population gains.

The state of Oregon has already ditched the gas tax for a miles-driven funding model. LIcensed vehicles in Oregon have a black box plugged into their data ports that records how far it travels on state roads.

Drivers pay on the basis of their road usage, not for their gasoline consumed.

That idea is spreading to other state and now is gaining traction in Washington DC. It’s something for Canada to consider on a federal and provincial level.

We want to encourage fuel efficiency to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gases and save our planet, not to mention the dream of ending Alberta’s economic dependence on extracting dirty oil from the tar sands.

But we also need to maintain and improve our roadways.

IMMUNIZE YOUR KIDS — There was another reported case of measles on Vancouver Island this week. It’s alarming how many new infections have occurred here, in BC, Canada and the US lately.

Measles was declared eradicated in 2000. But there have been more reported cases and in a greater number of individual communities in the last few years than for the past 17 years.

The resurgence of a disease that just a decade ago was killing nearly half a million people annually around the world, stresses the importance to remain vigilant about vaccinations. In particular, parents must continue to immunize their children.

That’s alarming because immunization is so easy and accessible, and proven effective.

Health experts estimate that immunizations have prevented more than 100 million cases of contagious diseases in the last 100 years. Vaccines eliminated smallpox, which killed more than 500 million people. Before the whooping cough vaccine was created in 1940, up to 10,000 people were dying every year from the disease in America.

Parents who don’t immunize their children are gambling on more than their own child’s risk of contracting highly communicable diseases. They are putting others at risk, too, including children medically ineligible for immunization and cancer patients on chemotherapy.

In some states, kids can’t attend school without having received the full package of immunizations. BC should adopt that policy.

The reasons for not getting vaccinated are specious. Fighting medical falsehoods is the bane of every public health official’s existence. An English doctor concocted one of the most egregious deceits in the 1990s that linked the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism. Scientific studies have since debunked the link and Britain’s medical association disbarred the doctor from practicing medicine.

Vaccines are one of humankind’s great achievements, eradicating once unstoppable communicable diseases. But the bugs are persistent, and will return if future generations go unvaccinated.

THE BC LIBERALS WANT YOU — BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson came to the Comox Valley recently to start the search for a provincial candidate.

Hint for former candidate Jim Benninger: you’re out. Losing by a handful of votes to Ronna-Rae Leonard isn’t good enough for this hard-charging, education-cutting party.


“Brooklyn Creek is a small creekshed whose hydrology and ecological services have been altered and degraded by decades of land use impacts,” — Tim Pringle in the preface to Assessing the Worth of Ecological Services Using the Ecological Accounting Process for Watershed Assessment: Brooklyn Creek Demonstration Application in the Comox Valley.




Ecological Accounting Process — “The EAP approach begins by first recognizing the importance of a stream in a natural state and then asking: how can we maintain those ecological values while allowing the stream to be used for drainage,” says Jim Dumont, Engineering Applications Authority with the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.


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