Letters to the Editor: June 19

Thanks to communities; Auditor review in Kimberley; Finding a home; Meat Draw; Disputes, etc.

Thanks to the communities we serve

The Cranbrook and Kimberley RCMP officers would like to personally thank members of our community for your condolences as a result of the tragedy in Moncton.

Your kind words and thoughtful gestures to express your gratitude and sorrow brought a level of comfort to our officers during a very difficult time. Your cards, flowers, baking and small tokens of appreciation have been a constant reminder of the great people we proudly serve.

We would also like to extend a special thank you to the Cranbrook Alliance Church for hosting the Memorial Service for RCMP members and the community.

Cpl. Chris Newel/Kimberley/Cranbrook RCMP

Auditor review

You will rarely see me writing a letter to the editor; however I am feeling compelled as a tax payer to do so and only because I care so much about Kimberley.

Being that this is an election year, it is important that we understand the facts about the expenditures that our city is dealing with now and will be incurring in the future.

It is public knowledge that our taxes are going up and will continue to go up at least four per cent annually, as per the city plan.

It is evident that the flume costs are well over budget and only one third complete. Doing some research I have found out that the original budget was $4.25 million and the new budget is $6.8 million. The city costs to date are $3.4 million and the future cost to the city is another $1.4 million and the grants are $2 million. Cost to the city — $4.8 million.

I expect the Council to be very “transparent” with the facts and costs. I am in support of an Auditor General reviewing the flume budget, not for pointing fingers, but to get the facts and figures on what Council and operations can do to be more cost effective.

I will be and am encouraging all city tax payers to put pressure on Council to have the Auditor General review the project expenses.

This is only one of many expenditures that we are needing to pay for. How about all the other unknowns, like the infrastructure costs present and future? It appears that our city, as great as it is, will not be the “good place to be” if our costs are going up and taxes are increasing annually at a rapid rate.

It is time we start paying attention to our City finances, and put pressure on Council to be open and honest about the reality of our City’s financial state.

The gravy Cominco days are over, we can’t keep spending like we have a corporate tax giant. Especially when our largest employer is a civil service.

There is no way we can run our private households and businesses over budget and expect to maintain a quality life. I appreciate all the countless hours that Mayor and Council put into our city, however being financially accountable to the electorate is critical to the future of our city.

Janis Caldwell-Sawley/Kimberley

Meat Draw

I was surprised and sad to learn of the demise of the Meat Draw on Thursdays at the Elks. The people involved in this group are dedicated to helping others. Our home burnt to the ground in February. We lost everything. We felt devastated, alone and helpless. On top of which, we were now homeless. Saying that I was overwhelmed by our loss would be putting it mildly. I have M.S. and my husband has a kidney disease. We had more than enough on our plates before the fire.

We have insurance, but anyone who has ever had a major loss knows that insurance claims like this are a difficult process.

This group of people came forward unasked and helped us. The money they gave us was a tremendous help. It wasn’t just the money — they gave me hope. They made me feel like, “Yes, I can do this.” These people helped us when we needed a hand up and not a hand out. I was able to keep my dignity while receiving the help I needed.

It is a real shame that bureaucracy had to get in the way of good people doing good things for others. We need more people like the Thursday Meat Draw group in our lives and less bureaucratic nonsense.

I hope there is a way for them to continue their meat draws.

Leslie Taylor Lamb/Kimberley

Finding a home

Over the past six years a group of community volunteers have been working to build a homeless shelter here in Cranbrook to service the entire East Kootenay.

There are no shelter beds between Lethbridge, Alberta, and Nelson, B.C. Cranbrook is the centre for people of all needs in our region. It also meets the needs of many homeless who require a wide range of services, temporary shelter, food, clothing, social income, health care — both physical and mental, and things as simple as a bus to get around in winter. They come to our city broken; broken homes, broken marriages, broken childhoods and in some cases addictions that have robbed a lifetime of potential.

Early in this initiative we sat down with our MLA Bill Bennett and at that time asked his help in securing annual funding for the Salvation Army and the Kootenay Christian Fellowship to operate cold weather shelters. His pledge at that meeting was that if we could not find government funding that he would roll up his sleeves with us and we would phone everyone in town until we had raised the $70,000 required to run the shelters that winter.

Bill has been on board since then. We have learned to keep our focus and to adapt to new funding realities. On May 23, Bill toured the Willowbridge housing complex in Kelowna with members of our local Salvation Army. Willowbridge operates a 40-suite supported living building which will work very well to meet the needs of the homeless in the East Kootenay. It will require 35 per cent of the funds to build and 30 per cent of the funds to operate that our first proposal required.

The homeless coalition will continue to work with all community partners to realize a permanent year-round shelter in Cranbrook. Thank you to all who have given and continue to donate in support of this initiative. Thank you to all in our region who believe in the need for this shelter and to Bill for taking that need to the Legislature in Victoria. We will keep working at this.

Neil Cook/Cranbrook

Disputes

Mr. Matheson’s dislike of unions and union members that he exhibited in his last two letters to this newspaper has prompted me to write.

Strikes or lockouts are often ugly and emotional occurrences. It doesn’t matter which business or union is battling it out, one of them will inevitably be labelled greedy.

After 32 years of coal mining, I can tell you that not once did my employer voluntarily give me a raise. For one reason or another, it was never the right time. But we always worked it out.

If I read it right, his attitude seems to be that if he can’t have a pension then nobody else should get one. This should be labelled as “a race to the bottom.”

Pension envy, Mr. Matheson?

Bruce Zimich/Cranbrook

Ruthlessness

I do not want to live in the society that Neil Matheson argues for in his letter comparing the Public vs the Private sector. He highlights the private sectors abandonment of employee pensions, and notes that “wages and benefits, particularly benefits, have been badly eroded.”

He suggests we need our government to have “the courage to be as ruthless as the private sector.” To eliminate what he perceives as a class distinction between the public and private sectors. He mocks public sector unions support of the “fundamental principle of creating a more equable society.” Apparently Mr. Matheson feels that because some people in our society don’t receive decent wages or pensions then no one should. I would suggest the opposite, that everyone deserves a decent wage and security in their retirement.

My father worked for a large company that has made record profits for years but is continually trying to claw back on wages, benefits, work-life balance and pension. Corporate greed is not an admirable trait and we do not need our government to further emulate that model. We need a government with the courage to represent the citizens of this province with integrity. To be ruthless in the protection of citizens rights and generous in providing the tools society needs so that we can all be a part of the privileged class.

John Dawson/Cranbrook

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