George Le Masurier photo

The Week: No gang problem here, but special RCMP unit shows up anyway

Jun 28, 2019 | Commentary, News

By George Le Masurier

There’s no violent gang problem in the Comox Valley, says Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells. But the RCMP’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of BC’s Uniform Gang Enforcement Team came to town anyway. They came because people have heard a lot of gunfire lately. They seized firearms, rifles, smoke grenades, machetes, knives and a whole bunch of drugs, but curiously made no arrests.

But, not worry says Mayor Bob, flipping his sunglasses atop his head, gangsters mainly shoot each other. Well, he didn’t exactly say that. What he said was organized crime targets its own criminal community.

NEWS REPORT: “House fire deemed suspicious.” This particular house fire occurred in Campbell River, but doesn’t the headline tweak the idea that the Comox Valley seems to have more than its share of “suspicious fires?” Houses burn down. Hotels and pubs burn down. They’re deemed “suspicious.” But the suspicions just fade away until they’re forgotten. Nobody is ever charged for intentionally setting a fire. That seems suspicious.

Here’s how bad the opioid crisis has gotten: To save students from opioid overdose deaths, Washington state schools will start stocking Narcan. The Washington state legislature passed a bill requiring public schools with more than 2,000 students to store the overdose-reversal medication. Fatal opioid overdoses among teens and pre-teens have tripled in the last 15 years, so the state wants “to prepare for the worst.” It’s difficult to fathom the context that makes that statement meaningful.

Let’s talk about mixed messages. The Comox Legion Branch 160 says it hopes to appeal to a younger demographic by flinging its doors open to everyone, not just those who served in the Canadian military. More like a neighborhood pub. The plans include a new bar that provides accessibility for seniors with mobility issues, and a more affordable menu for elderly people on pensions. And they will create more opportunities for socialization among its senior-age customers. Somehow that’s going to attract younger people.

These plans inspired Comox Mayor Russ Arnott to exclaim the legion would add to the vibrancy of the town.

Cold climate tourism: is it the next big thing? The planet Earth is headed toward becoming a hothouse, perhaps speeding back to a prehuman period when palm trees grew in Alaska. Can our species survive? We’re certainly swimming in uncharted waters, which are working up to a boil.

Most of us tend to look outside and see sunny days and warmer temperatures and rejoice. Our bodies are less stiff. Sunshine improves our mood. It’s a natural response, because as organisms that live for short periods of time, it’s difficult for us to comprehend the bigger picture. But imagine when the Comox Glacier disappears in the next 20 years and snow stops falling in the Beaufort mountains, drying up our aquifers and rivers, and making drinkable water the most precious resource.

One thing is certain: as temperatures climb over the next several decades, more people will search out cooler climates to live and possibly to vacation. When average winter temperatures in the Comox Valley go higher than 80 degrees, will the bulk of the world’s population will live near the planet’s poles.

What we’re reading: This article in Curbed, recommended by New York Times Hong Kong editor Jennifer Jett. “The bicycle was liberating for women in the late 19th century,” she tells us. “But they are underrepresented in cycling. So in some places, city planners are trying to accommodate riding with children or groceries — presumably, better for everybody.”




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