Letters to the Editor: March 3

User fees don't work; In gratitude; A tale of two elephants; Wildlife in trouble

User fees don’t work

Tom Fletcher is wrong again (Making health care ‘free’ again/Bulletin/Feb 28). In reference to the proposed reduction of the MSP payments in the Provincial budget he states: “A better signal would be a modest user fee on visits to hospital emergency rooms and clinics, but that offends the rigid Marxist model of Canadian health care.”

There are strong evidence based, peer reviewed reports that refute the usefulness of user fees. Besides being a devil to implement at all levels of health service, user fees are counter productive and cost us all far more in the end. They are not cost effective and they don’t work. Karl Marx has nothing to do with it but Tom Fletcher likes to toss his name about like confetti at a wedding when he’s wound up about government services.

Our health services are not perfect and need adjustments. Introducing user fees (and the MSP) is not the answer.

Doug Kittle


In gratitude

To all the caregivers in the Cranbrook Hospital and Green Home:

So often we tend to take for granted all the dedicated people who have chosen to serve and help others.

I would like to give a sincere heartfelt thank you to all who helped me in my recent sickness:

• The ambulance attendents for your very fast response;

• All the staff and doctors in Emergency;

• The very caring and thoughtful doctors, nurses and support staff in the I.C.U.;

• To all the nurses and therapists and the third floor in the hospital — thank you, thank you;

• And last, but not least, all the very dedicated people who work in the Green Home.

If not for everyone’s sincere help, I would not be here today.

Once again, thank you so very much everyone for your marvelous care and service.

Sam Zackodnik


A tale of two elephants

What is it about Cranbrook and elephants?

First there was “Charlie Ed,” a circus elephant that escaped while performing with a carnival in town in 1926 and was captured in the bush six weeks later alive and well and renamed “Cranbrook Ed” by jubilant town folk who were joyous that the roaming pachyderm survived his ordeal. Unfortunately, Cranbrook Ed came to a tragic end eight years later when he was executed by a firing squad after goring his trainer.

Surely there’s a metaphor here for another Cranbrook elephant, one distinctly white in color otherwise known as Western Financial Place.

Let’s face it folks. That’s what we have at the corner of 17th Ave. and 2nd St. N, a colossal white elephant with a leaking roof that has to be replaced to the tune of more than $3 million in taxpayers’ money, equal to the City’s road budget in a normal budget year, and the prospect that 15 years hence the taxpayers will be digging into their pockets to do it again because of the roof’s questionable design.

No kidding! In fact, I’ve been talking to City officials and I’ve filed a Freedom of Information application to get to the bottom of this horrendously expensive mess, but in the meantime some things are glaringly obvious.

Like it or not, we’ve been had, but I hasten to say, not by the current council. They’re just the poor shmucks that are going to have to bail us out of this mess. No, we were had by a cabal of lawyers, businessmen and politicians almost 20 years ago that somehow in their lust to land a Canadian Hockey League team convinced a gullible public to believe in their cockamamie scheme to bring a CHL team to Cranbrook. We’re a great hockey town in our own right, but maybe not quite big enough to support a CHL team. Then they housed the team in a building designed by a “three P” public/private partnership, which included an outfit out of Cincinnati that didn’t know or care a hell of a lot about hockey, nor it appears building design, if you consider the leaky roof and the loading bay that’s too small for the big rigs that service the few major concert acts that we’ve been able to bring to our fair burg.

The referendum vote was close, but we fell for it hook, line and sinker and now it appears we’re going to lose our no longer so loved hockey team attracting paltry crowds of 1,700 or less in a building that seats over 4,200. As for the building itself we’re going to have to decide whether it’s really worth spending another $3.5 million on at the expense of the taxpayers’ already tightened belts and the City services that may have to be cut for our over-sized and costly white elephant.

And you know what’s really sad about this already sad affair is where is that group of lawyers, businessman and politicians that brought us this debacle? Where is the “Save the Ice” committee raising money and selling T-shirts to save our once beloved team? Well, I’ll tell you where they are. They’re nowhere! Not a peep out of them while the fate of The Ice and the fate of our White Elephant, I mean Western Canada Place, twists in the wind. And in their place, what do we see? Former Ice players writing mature and articulate letters to the newspaper pleading for the team to remain in Cranbrook. That’s the saddest part of all.

I don’t envy the task facing the current council to somehow salvage something out of this stinking manure pile we’re now in. Will a White Knight come forward at the last minute and save Cranbrook’s most famous team? Would community ownership be the answer? Could the former Rec Plex be sold to a private owner if the price was right?

None of these are easy possibilities, but let’s face it Cranbrook, we’re all responsible one degree or another for this unholy mess and we’re all in it together.

Gerry Warner


Wildlife in trouble

The snow is deep and elk, deer, moose and sheep struggle to survive and now the snow has crusted and the wolves and cougars will have a field day.

Unfortunately, our ungulate numbers are way down from historical numbers and yet there is no plan in order to bring the numbers back up. Under a variety of governments over the past 50 odd years, ungulate numbers have gradually declined with little or no intervention by government to stop the bleeding.

Hunters made a concerted pitch to the traveling finance committee that is made up of MLAs from all parties to provide a new funding model for the wildlife branch to attempt to stop the downward trend. That new funding model supported fully by the finance committee was rejected by the Premier and Liberal Caucus. The East Kootenay at one time was called the Serengeti of North America wildlife but is fast becoming the Sahara Desert.

Years ago wildlife numbers would drop and then bounce back. When we had some 30,000 elk and if we lost 5,000 in a bad winter we still had 25,000 elk. Numbers of wildlife have ebbed and flowed with minimum numbers of staff to monitor. Times have changed and day to day wildlife management requires more staff to deal with the complexity of the issues facing our biologists. Today we have 8,000 elk and if we lose 5,000 elk in this poor winter we are in major trouble. Without funding we have no way of knowing what the impact is. Hunters are telling me that moose in the EK are like the Sasquatch, you hear about them, but you never see them.

We desperately need a new funding model that gives us more biologists and technicians on the ground. Inventories are once every five years for some species and never for other species. Wildlife have become a political football and it is time to create the same type of management regime as government did with provincial fisheries with major funding increases. A wildlife branch without major funding changes will result in a province with few wildlife. The amount of increase needed is well within the projected surplus in Budget 2017.

As wildlife numbers shrink, both ungulates and predators are at risk. We will need more biologists and more powers to protect critical wildlife habitats or all our wildlife will be placed at risk.

Not only are we seeing depleted wildlife numbers for hunting and lost viewing opportunities for non-hunters. Ungulates provide a major food source for cougars, wolves, black bears, and grizzly bears and as ungulate numbers drop, so will our predator numbers.

We are all losing our wildlife and our loss will be catastrophic, if politicians do not change their support, thinking and attitudes.

We do have an MLA that hunts and supports better wildlife populations, for both hunting and viewing, but he is a single voice in the Legislature and he can only do so much. We now need his support and I would suggest he needs ours as well.

Larry Hall

President, East Kootenay Hunters’ Association