The fluoride revolution that was not to be

Over the past year I have had the pleasure of covering many interesting stories. Here are a couple of my favourite stories of the year:

Over the past year I have had the pleasure of covering many interesting stories. Here are a couple of my favourite stories of the year:

Bear cub rescue

A group of local hikers came across two young bear cubs up the Bull River Road. After some time they surmounted that the mother bear had abandoned them or died. The story about the rescue of the two cubs and their journey to the Northern Lights Wildlife Society shelter in Smithers, B.C. got my byline on a Canadian Press newswire story and then the Huffington Post, Vancouver Sun and others.

The stories also brought to my attention the amazing work that the Northern Lights Wildlife Society does.

The bears were caught by captured by Cranbrook residents working on behalf of the Northern Lights Wildlife Society. They were dehydrated and starving, so the vet was called in to give them vitamin shots and assess their health. Once it was confirmed that the mother had indeed died, the bears were taken by Stephanie McGregor and Colleen Bailey to Golden, where they met a volunteer who drove the bears to Jasper. There they were picked up by shelter staff and driven the rest of the way to Smithers.

Angelika Langen, manager at the shelter, noted that the bears handled the May 19 trip relatively well .

“They are starting to gain weight and they are looking better physically,” Langen said Smithers.

The bears both recovered despite a few health scares over the next months.

“We couldn’t believe how everyone came together for these bears,” said Stephanie McGregor, who was one of the hikers that found the bears. “It’s so amazing.”

Council sits on backyard chicken debate

Could the hens come back to roost on Cranbrook backyard chickens?

That’s what twelve-year-old Sierra Colman hoped when she approached city council on the sometimes contentious issue of backyard chickens. The Highland Elementary Student sent a letter to the city on the topic with the hopes that the topic could be revisited.

In the letter, Sierra argued that it doesn’t much make sense that people in Vancouver are free to raise up to four hens in their backyard, while in Cranbrook the municipal bylaw prohibits it.

The letter spawned a number of follow-up letters from students in Cranbrook. It also brought the issue into focus for many for and against allowing chickens to be raised in backyards. Many letters came in to the editor of the Townsman citing problems with raising chickens, while others said the concerns were unfounded when chickens are raised responsibly.

In Vancouver, for instance, residents are not allowed roosters, other fowl or livestock.

At the time, Mayor Wayne Stetski noted city council had had a discussion on the topic years ago when a resident brought forward a request to raise, not only chickens, but other animals in Cranbrook and it was voted down.

City staff were working on an urban agriculture strategy that would look at backyard chickens, though it remains to be seen how friendly the new council will be to the idea.

What are your thoughts on backyard chickens?

The fluoride revolution that was not to be

The push to remove fluoride from the drinking water of the few remaining municipalities in B.C. seemed to hit a running stride in the run-up to the Nov. 15 referendum. But of the three municipalities that had similar referendums, Cranbrook stood alone in continuing fluoride additions. Sparwood and Prince George residents opted to remove the chemical leaving Cranbrook one of four in the province — along with Fort St. John, Prince Rupert and Terrace — that still fluoridates the water.

The debate on the merits and dangers of fluoride got quite heated, with a coalition of dentists and doctors campaigning to keep it in the water, while a those worried about potential harmful effects campaigned against it.

However, despite the outcome of the referendum, which was a close 53 per cent to 47 per cent, comments and letters about fluoride have continued to come into the Townsman office over the month November and December. Some commenters noted they were confused by the wording of the referendum question and may have voted either “yes” when they meant “no”, or “no” when they meant “yes”.

Others argued that fluoride is a form of mass-medication and therefore should not be left to democratic process for a decision. As it is Cranbrook spends $30,000 a year on adding hydrofluorosilicic acid to the drinking water. The fluoride is added by a small metering pump at the Phillips Reservoir and is set at a concentration of 0.8 mg/l.

Are you bothered by the fluoride in the water?