Attitude adjustment would solve our homeless problem

Our attitude towards the homeless is a barrier to solving the problem. The old notion is that the poor deserve to be so:  if people would just apply themselves, they wouldn’t be homeless.

image: KamloopsThis Week

Finland’s experience shows how a shift in attitude makes a difference.

In 1987, Finland had a homeless population of about 20,000 out of a population of five million –a rate of four homeless per thousand.

To address the problem, Finland adopted a “Housing First” philosophy, said Juha Kaakinen (Globe and Mail, August 13, 2021).

 Kaakinen, chief executive officer of Finland’s non-profit Y-Foundation, was addressing a panel convened by The Canadian Urban Institute.

Another panelist, Leilani Farha, said that part of Finland’s success is the result of shift in mindset. For Finns, homelessness is not an option.

“People have a right to housing as part of their constitution.” said Farha,

Finland’s solved the problem with a partnership between federal and state governments, lottery corporations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The Y-Foundation, a non-profit organization, started buying private apartments in 1985 with grants obtained from the government run Finland Slot Machine Association.

In turn, the Y-Foundation subleased the apartments out to municipalities and NGOs. The rent plus the grants paid for the apartments.

Finland’s homeless rate is now one-fifth of what it was.

It’s tempting to think of housing the homeless as an expense when, in fact, it’s savings. Housing for all everyone has proven to be the most effective remedy for improving lives and saving money.

A study published by Journal of the American Medical Association in 2009 found that costs to Seattle’s public health system dropped by 60 per cent in the first six months after chronically homeless people with severe alcoholism were found homes.

Canada is not beyond hope. Our homeless rate is just above what Finland’s was in 1987 –about six homeless per thousand.

All levels of government are working on the problem.

The City of Kamloops’ Affordable Housing Reserve Fund allows for up to $150,000 per project for low income earners.

The B.C. government built 3,200 new affordable housing units last year and more are being built this year. (Full disclosure: I am the president of a non-profit organization that will take possession of the largest project in the interior built by BC Housing, opening in downtown Kamloops this fall.)

The federal government is working with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to build affordable housing. This year’s federal budget provides an additional $2.5 billion over seven years to CMHC.

Dignity and financial security are restored when the homeless are given homes.

Tina Dawson, 52, from Victoria, told the Institute’s panel about being homeless for first-time in the past year:

“Being newly homeless, I am gob-smacked at the way things are out of sight, out-of-mind, and the machine that is in place to keep people homeless. How on earth am I going to get out of this position? I’ve managed my entire life. I’ve raised three children. And I have no address. The problem is [putting together] the damage deposit. I’m on permanent disability. That’s hand to mouth.”

Those who work full-time at minimum wage jobs should be able to afford a place to live.

Surely that’s not too much of an adjustment in attitude to make.

Don’t confuse all the homeless with Kamloops’ street menagerie

A few deranged, mentally ill and brain-addled addicts on Kamloops’ streets get a lot of attention. But don’t label all the homeless as troublemakers.

Image: Mel Rothenburger, Kamloops

Kamloops RCMP superintendent Syd Lecky shares in the frustration of residents and business owners who notice the same people committing crimes repeatedly.

“When you have them back on the street in a short period of time, it is frustrating,” said Lecky. “And it does challenge us in terms of being able to manage the risk… whether the risk for these offenders to continue offending, whether it be violence or property crime. It’s really going to create some pressure on us to be able to put an end to that.”

Some of the homeless are just regular folk who choose to live outdoors. I get that.

I first met my neighbour Paul when he was living in a river bank one block from my house in Westsyde. I say “my neighbour” because, except that he lived outside, he was friendlier than some of my neighbours.

Although he lived nearby, Paul was hard to find.

I discovered his campsite when I noticed that the grass had been disturbed down a steep river bank. Curious, I carefully descended the bank and found myself in an almost impenetrable thicket.

A voice came from my left: “Come around this way, it’s easier,” as he welcomed me to his humble abode. Paul, in his forties, had notched a level spot in the river bank and strung a tarp over his shelter; his modest belongings arranged around him. He introduced himself and I sat down to chat.

Years ago, Paul had been a sheltered neighbour just a few blocks away. After his divorce, he lost his house and wandered around from town to town before returning to Kamloops. He was outgoing and happy to tell me his life story. We exchanged cell phone numbers and I left.

When I went back a few months later, Paul was gone.

I understand the appeal of living outside. When I hitchhiked in Australia, I used to set up camp in the bush near small towns. I’d walk into town; my gear stowed in what I hoped would be in an undetected spot.

It was a great way to travel. I’d buy groceries and hang out with locals in the pub.

However, being homeless and living on the street is not so idyllic. It can be a living hell. According to the most recent survey of Kamloops’ homeless, 40 per cent of those surveyed were first homeless from ages 10 to 19. Many of those “aged out” of foster care with few survival skills.

Almost one-half of respondents indentified as indigenous.

Not only do many of these teenagers have few life skills, they can have disabilities such as Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). That leaves them vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous individuals. They become a resource in the quagmire of street life; in prostitution and dealing drugs.

For indigenous street people who have aged out of the foster care system, the loss of identity is debilitating. They are doubly resentful of a system that is rigged against them –stripped of their culture and exploited by a toxic street culture.

If young people weren’t mentally ill and addicted to begin with, the gritty street life will soon make them so.

Regrettably, low-cost housing will not solve their devastating problems. At one time they might have been cared for in institutions such as Tranquille.

Now their future looks bleak.

BC Housing should value their friends in Kamloops City Council

City councillors support public housing but the recent announcement by the B.C. government took them by surprise. In a press release, BC Housing said that they had purchased the Fortune Motel on Kamloops North Shore.

Fortune Motel, image: Agoda

BC Housing is a crown corporation that finances subsidized housing for low income families.

“What the hell is this?” was a common reaction at City Hall, Councillor Dale Bass told me. The lack of communication represented a “disconnect of our relationship” with the provincial government.

While staff at City hall were apparently aware of the purchase, councillors were not Bass said.

Consultation is needed because Council has plans for the North Shore and BC Housing’s purchases may not fit. Of course, consultation would have to be done in confidentiality since real estate purchases are sensitive.

In a press release, Attorney General and Housing Minister David Eby said that BC Housing and the City of Kamloops will work together to determine a permanent plan for the property. That’s a fine thing to say but just when did BC Housing plan to start working together?

It’s Councillors who take the flak from the public over public housing. Some citizens are “genuinely afraid” of homeless people, Bass said.

Kamloops homeless are often characterized by the actions of “street people” who sometimes appear menacing.

Encounters with mentally ill people can be frightening. A friend of mine was approached by a stranger, apparently in a psychotic state, as she shopped in a thrift store on Tranquille. “You’re going to fucking die, bitch,” he shouted angrily. The verbal assault left her shaken.   

Mental health of homeless people is a problem and it’s exacerbated by their lack of secure shelter. While mentally ill people are more likely to injure themselves than others, that’s little comfort to those are accosted by the unstable mentally ill.

Street people are also blamed for an increase in crime. Yet the perception doesn’t always match reality.

Kamloops RCMP Supt. Syd Lecky told City Council on June 11, 2021, that crime was actually down in some parts of the city compared to last year. Property crime was down in North Kamloops by eight per cent, the same in Valleyview, and up 11 per cent in Westsyde.

But last year was unusual because of the pandemic, Lecky added, and that property crime was up everywhere from 1019.

Homeless people represent a fragile sector of our population.

In a survey done by BC Housing of Merritt’s homeless in 2020, one-quarter reported a brain injury and 70 per cent had two or more health concerns. Seventy-eight per cent suffered from addiction.

In a survey done in Kamloops in June, 2018, one-half of respondents first experienced homelessness as youths. Probably, as in Merritt’s case, many were formerly in foster care.

The profile of homeless people is one of addiction compounded by desperation, mental and physical health. They are often youths thrown out on the streets with few life-skills.

Kamloops doesn’t need a big-stick approach by BC Housing to get affordable housing in Kamloops. Not like that other Interior city, Penticton, where City Council is taking the province to court over a dispute involving BC Housing’s locations.

Kamloopsians sensibly realize that you can’t complain about homeless people on the street while also complaining that they are being housed.

The graves of Indigenous children cry out for justice

The discovery of children’s graves at the Kamloops residential school was not a surprise to many. What made the findings so graphic was the stunning detail of the remains as revealed by ground-penetrating radar.

image: Inside Edition

Deceased children as young as three, sometimes wrapped in a blanket, sometimes just buried in shallow graves, were buried in the grounds around the school.

While the discovery was startling to national and international audiences, it was no surprise to former residents of the school.

“It is a great open secret that our children lie on the properties of the former schools,” said Sol Mamakwa, an Indigenous member of the Ontario legislature.

And the graves were no secret to those who dug them, such the former students of the Edmonton Indian Residential School. One such student, Jackie Williams, remembers being hired to dig some of the graves when he was a child.

As long as the remains of children remained hidden under often grassy fields, out of sight, we didn’t have to face the horror of this open secret.

Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) has brought details of the remains to the surface and to anguished scrutiny.

GPR may be revealing but the process is not as simple as, say, X-rays. First, a GPR machines about the size of a toaster on wheels are pulled around the area to be surveyed. Initial scanning only takes about as long as it does to walk the grounds being searched.

Then data is downloaded and processed by computers. The set-up cost about $35,000 and requires training to interpret the images.

While the GPR images may look like little more than “blobs” to the untrained eye, experienced researchers can recognize details.

A bit like ultrasound images, I imagine. I watched as an ultrasound was done on my abdomen. Fuzzy images floated into to view on the screen. What I saw as fuzzy blobs, the trained health professionals saw as my liver, kidneys and spleen –and measured with great accuracy.

Dr. Terence Clark is skilled in the use of GPR. He used it to discover gravesites at the former residential school on the Muskowekwan First Nation in Saskatchewan in 2018.

Cark, a University of Saskatchewan researcher and professor who specializes in community-based archeology, said: “It seemed like this was a validation that their memories were real, this really happened, and they wanted to see it on the screen. They wanted to know that what they experienced was true.”

As researchers view the underground images, it must be like an under-earth diver swimming through rocks, bones, and other artifacts. As details emerge, the children come to life and cry out for justice.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a lawyer and former judge who is of Cree and Scottish descent said: “To me, the dead children themselves in this Kamloops school, and others, have human rights. We have an obligation to them to provide respect for the deceased and take practical steps to address the indignity that might’ve been done to them and their bodies.”

Kamloops is now the focus of global attention in a way that I would have not have preferred. But there we are, and now we need to cooperate with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation to see that justice is not only done but seen by the world to be done.

Animals organize to take back cities

I’m sitting on the banks of the North Thompson River, not far from my house in Westsyde. People walk along the river, not far away, but they seldom notice me high on the river bank. I’m listening to music and not paying much attention. It’s a cool winter day and I’m wrapped in a blanket; enjoying my lunch and thermos of tea.

image: Government of Yukon

A dog wanders by, just five metres away, and I wait for the dog’s owner to follow. When no one arrives, I do a double-take and realize it’s not a dog but a lynx. The lynx doesn’t see me, or doesn’t seem to care that I’m so close.

This is the first time I’ve seen a lynx in Westsyde and I get to thinking “What’s going on?” There have been other sightings of lynx and cougars in the city, which is strange.

Then the thoughts start to swirl. These animals must be organizing to take back the cities. And they must have animal leaders: the New World Order of Animals (NWOA).

Later, I tell a friend about the sighting of the lynx and how the animals seem to be organizing. Are these animal leaders part of a New World Order of Animals? Something about them has to be special. They must be descendants of Noah’s Ark, she suggests. Yeah, that must be it.

Animals are not just retaking Kamloops, but cities and countries all around the world.

Wallabies, a smaller version of the kangaroo, are establishing themselves in the United Kingdom. Anthony Caravaggi, a lecturer in conservation biology at the University of South Wales told CBC’s Quirks & Quarks:

“The news reports are often accompanied by things like, ‘I can’t believe what I saw’ or ‘wondered what I was seeing. We do have some areas where wallabies have attained a kind of celebrity status. So they have Facebook pages, web pages, and people in some areas are not accustomed to seeing wallabies.”

The animal operation conducted by NWOA is clearer to me now.

The mainstream media is complicit in a conspiracy; saying that COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China. That’s just fake news.

The New World Order of Animals released the deadly coronavirus in order to clear the way for the return of animals. True, millions of humans will die but why would animals care when humans have killed many more animals by destroying their homes?

The headquarters of NWOA, the direct descendents Noah’s Ark, are closer than you think. They are located at the Centre of the Universe.

‘And where is the Centre of the Universe?’, you might ask. It’s at Vidette Lake in Deadman Valley, just 60 kilometres NW of Kamloops.

The Centre of the Universe was first located in 1980 by the Rinpoche, or Master Teacher, located in San Francisco. He sent a white-robed disciple to Vidette Lake to find the spot. Then, in 1984, the Master Teacher himself visited the spot and confirmed that, yes; this is the Centre of the Universe.

But don’t try to find it. It’s guarded by electromagnetic waves that project the illusion of pastoral landscape.

It’s amazing what revelations are spawned by just sitting by the river.

Canada’s housing agency tries to slow the exodus from big cities

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is attempting to curb the outflow from big cities.

iamge: HuffPost Canada

Toronto saw a net loss of 50,375 last year as people moved to surrounding small cities; places such as Oshawa where the population increased by 2.1 per cent according.

Municipalities around Montreal also experienced growth with Farnham seeing an increase of 5.2 per cent.

People are migrating out of Vancouver to small Interior cities, as well. In Kamloops, home sales totalled 3,044 units last year, up 6.4 per cent from 2019. Sales were brisk with homes on the market just of 2.6 months on average, compared to 5.8 months the previous year.

The pandemic has resulted in millions of new workers from home. As of December, 2020, 4.8 million Canadians worked from home. For 2.8 million of those, working from home was a new experience.

The influx of highly successful, mid-career professionals and knowledge workers has an effect on the character and culture of a small city. On the plus side, professionals have more to spend and support the arts making small cities more vibrant. Conversely, they drive the price of houses up making them less affordable for low-income wage earners.

CMHC, a Crown Corporation responsible for affordable housing, is promoting big cities. In a two-page ad in The Walrus magazine, they point to the advantages of living in denser communities:

“CMHC is also increasingly recognizing that intensification, or creating denser communities, can play a positive role in addressing not only housing affordability but other challenges — such as access to services, health status, and climate change — that factor into where people choose to live.”

Part of the appeal in moving out of a big city, it seems, is the seemingly lower rates of COVID-19 infection. But most infections in big cities have been among those working in high contact jobs, not home-work environments. And the Kamloops region is now experiencing a spike in infections.

It might seem like commute times are less in smaller cities but Vancouver isn’t much different than Kamloops. In Vancouver, the average commute time by car was 26 minutes last year. While I don’t have averages for Kamloops, most drivers had a commute time of 15 to 29 minutes according to Statistics Canada. And fifteen per cent of Kamloops drivers had commute times longer than 30 minutes.

Big cities attract medical talent to specialized clinics, making health services superior in dense urban centres. Michel Tremblay, VP at CMHC says:  “You simply can’t offer the same level of service in smaller centres; it is just not economically justifiable,”

Everyday needs such as groceries, libraries, and community support services are not only more numerous and varied in a big city, but also easier to get to by walking, cycling, or public transit. People prefer to go on foot, which is the basis for an inherently healthy, active approach to living, CMHC argues.

Personally, I’m not convinced. Despite the disadvantages of living in small cities, Kamloops was a big draw for me when I moved to here from Calgary. I like the slower pace of life and living close to nature.

But I wonder what motivates CMHC, a housing agency, to promote big cities? Is it because they are worried about a collapse in big city housing markets where they insure the mortgages?

Prohibition of drugs was a mistake but decriminalization will not stop deaths

How many more people have to die because of a half-baked idea from a century ago?

It all started at the turn of the twentieth century when concoctions of opium were commonly found in medicine chests to treat toothaches, diarrhoea, and coughs. Before antibiotics, doctors used opium to treat diseases such as dysentery, cholera, and tuberculosis.

Many of these concoctions, such as Laudanum, were highly addictive.

laudanum ad in Sears. image: 12 tomatoes

There were two paths that governments could have taken. One would have been to control the potency and purity of opium and sell it through licensed outlets. The other was to make opium illegal.

The choice to make opium illegal was political and racist.

Prime Minister Laurier was looking for his fourth majority in a row in 1908. He heard of the “race riots” in Vancouver and sent his minister of labour, William Lyon Mackenzie King, to investigate.

King found resentment and anger towards Chinese workers. They had been brought to British Columbia to build the Trans Canada railway. With the railway complete and Chinese workers unemployed, white Canadians claimed that they were taking jobs away.

Also, Chinese Canadians were demonized for leading good, white Canadian women astray in “opium dens.” The Chinese were the perfect scapegoats: too many, too shady. Laurier played the race card, was returned to power, and passed the Opium Act in 1908.

The prohibition of substances, such as alcohol, has been a failure ever since.

Drug addiction is a serious problem but it is not criminal. The Opium Act placed the possession of opium in the same category of criminal acts as murder and rape.

Criminal acts are the most serious offenses against society. But drug abuse is an offence against an individual, not society. While drug pushers have bad intentions, drug users don’t intend to do anything criminal.

The state is to blame for not controlling the purity and potency of drugs made available. If not in a fit of moral outrage and attempt to control behaviour that mainly affects personal choice, governments would have made the rational choice to leave drugs legal.

The government’s impulse to control behaviour by making drug use criminal is misguided. Throwing people in jail for trying to ease their emotional or physical pain is a mistake.

So here we are a century later with these anachronistic drug laws. What are we to do?

Vancouver is asking the federal government to approve a plan to decriminalize simple possession of illicit drugs in the city. Mayor Kennedy Stewart said:

“Personal possession and use of drugs is not a criminal justice issue; it is a health issue,” said Stewart. “It is time to end the stigma around substance use, help connect more of our neighbours to health care, and save lives.”

But decriminalization does not make drugs legal. It does not guarantee the purity and potency of drugs, nor does it make them available from licensed vendors. Decriminalization simply makes the offence of drug possession less serious. The drugs are still as deadly.

It was a mistake to make drugs illegal in the first place. It’s a mistake we are living with today. This year, Kamloops has had the highest number of deaths from drug overdoses on record: double the 25 deaths recorded in 2019. And the year’s grim tally is not yet complete.

Stop using Inks Lake as a dump

A couple of weeks ago I drove to Inks Lake for the first time, expecting to have a pleasant picnic lunch by the lake. It’s a lovely drive, only one hour south of Kamloops on Lac Le Jeune Road.

Inks Lake. Photo by David Charbonneau

What I found was anything but pleasant. Debris and garbage littered the pretty little lake. Beside an abandoned car, a makeshift outhouse had been assembled. Beside the outhouse was a bucket but I didn’t have the stomach to look inside. Between the car and the roofless outhouse was a firepit heaped with refuse.

Next to that site was an abandoned trailer in one spot, and ratty camping gear left behind in another. Piles of human excrement were everywhere, flagged by toilet paper.

If you want to see what I mean, take a look at Janice LaPlante’s photos that she sent to CFJC Today. You can find them by searching the CFJC Today website for “Inks Lake.” 

LaPlante regularly walks her dogs near Inks Lake and says campers have left the area a pigsty. She told CFJC Today:

“It’s a beautiful area for walking and a great family lake for skating. I’d love to see it cleaned up.”

 LaPlante is being generous in calling them “campers,” “ignorant slobs” would be more fitting.

Inks Lake is ready for use and abuse by skaters, partiers, freeloaders, boaters, and copper miners. It might as well have a sign at the entrance saying “Dump.”

Samuel Kirk, apparently a visitor to Canada, actually liked camping at Inks Lake for free. He found it on freecampsites.net and posted a review:

“Quite beautifully located in between grassy hills and next to a lake. Very few other campers around so it was super quiet. In the morning, just before taking off, we spotted a pig roaming around. This must be the Canadian wilderness they talk about ;)”

Others like to party on the weekend. If partygoers are anything like I remember as a student, while attending SAIT in Calgary, respect for nature is probably not at the top of their minds. Getting drunk and disorderly were paramount, I now regret to admit.

While I was there, dirt bikes and quads tore up the shores of Inks Lake.

It is not just popular with motor vehicles but mountain bikers as well. The Kamloops area has been promoted as a destination for mountain biking for decades. Mountain biking enthusiast Andy Warren told Kamloops This Week in 1997: “This is my favourite place. It’s a 150-square kilometres of vastness. You can lose yourself for a day or two.”

Boaters like it as well. Doug Smith likes paddling at Inks Lake because it sits in a recessed bowl, protected from the wind. On his blog at kamloops.me, he says: “The back bays are quiet except for a few ducks dabbling in a sheltered area.”

The greatest insult to the lake was thankfully forestalled by Kamloopsians who protested the building of KGHM Ajax Mine. Owners of the mine proposed a tailings pond that would cover an area including Jacko and Inks lakes. While Ajax promised not to drain Jacko and make Inks a fishing lake, I have to wonder. The area would resemble a moonscape where not even the most ignorant or well-intentioned users would care to visit them.

Is there anyone who can save Inks Lake?

Tearing down and vandalizing statues is barbaric

Now that we are enlightened, we clearly see the errors of the past. Such is the case with every generation. Regrettably, that enlightenment doesn’t seem to distinguish systemic racism from the value of art from the past.

image by comradejaggi (Instagram) August 29

Statues are works of art. As an artist, and as someone who has studied sculpture at the University of Alberta, I am keenly aware of the hundreds of hours that go into producing a sculpture. Sculptures are particularly difficult to produce because they are made of materials durable enough for future generations to appreciate.

Also, I sit on a committee mandated by the city of Kamloops. We review applications for funding and creating public art. The job involves evaluating the application and allocating meagre funds for artists to make public works.

I’m a strong believer in public art. Art is more than decorative; it inspires and makes a statement about a place. Public art gives testimony to the vitality of a city.

Have you seen Kamloops’ largest piece of public art? It’s truly awesome. Artist Bill Frymire assembled a shimmering mosaic of 80,000 aluminum tiles on a parkade, transforming it from a grey concrete tomb into a mirage that ripples in the sun at the slightest breeze.

I imagine being on a Regina city arts committee in 1966. We’ve received an application for a statue of John A. Macdonald to be built at a park entrance. The plaque is to be placed underneath the sculpture is to read “John A. Macdonald, Father of Confederation.”

I suspect that support for the Macdonald statue would have been unanimous. Because we were not yet woke it’s unlikely we would consider how inappropriate it to be, considering Macdonald’s role in the assimilation of Indigenous people and his racist views of Asian immigrants.

The Macdonald sculpture was built in Regina, in 1967, and cast in bronze using a centuries-old lost wax technique. It has vandalized at least three times since 2012 and is now the only one of Macdonald still standing in a major Western city in Canada.

On July 19, 2020, a group of about 30 people gathered at Ryerson University in Toronto, organized by Black Lives Matter-Toronto, and defaced another Macdonald sculpture with paint. One protester said:

“Defacing the monuments and having the art display done is actually I think a really good way of showing Canada’s long-standing history of violence of both Black and Indigenous communities on these lands.”

I find the equation of violence against people equal to violence against art puzzling. And as an artist, I find the notion of defacing a sculpture in the name of art galling.

In one hundred years, enlightened citizens will reflect on our backward ways. What we now regard as enlightened will then be seen as retrograde.

Perhaps one of our stupid ways, as seen through the lens of future woke generations, will be the way we treat animals raised for slaughter. Will they then vandalize the handsome bronze sculpture of a bull by Joe Fafard that sits at the entrance of Riverside Park in Kamloops?

Our perceived virtues are ephemeral, ever drifting into sin as seen by future generations. Art meant to last millennia should not be a victim latest expression of self-righteous barbarism.

Fears of out-of-town workers spreading COVID-19 in Kamloops are unfounded

Some Kamloopsians worry that the 50 pipeline workers from out of town will bring the Cov2 virus into our community. That number of workers will swell to 600 by August.

Pipe stored in Kamloops. image: National Post

The Site C dam site serves as an example. After concerns were raised in March, several workers went into self-isolation. Even though none of the workers had been tested positive at the time, people in the closest town of Fort St. John worried that the hospital would be inundated. Town councillor Trevor Bolin said the site should be shut down and added:

“If there was an outbreak at Site C, our hospital would be inundated with patients that we could not handle, that our health system couldn’t handle, with the seven ventilators that we have in the community.”

Months later, one case of COVID-19 has been recently indentified at Site C. That person has been isolated before having contact with other workers. Just one case. Fort St. John’s hospital has not been inundated.

No COVID-19 cases have been indentified in Kamloops pipeline workers, despite ongoing work in preparation of the new pipeline near Ord road. This month, crews will start to pull the new pipeline under the Thompson River.

Last weekend saw a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases in the interior of B.C. So why hasn’t the presence of 50 pipeline workers not resulted in an outbreak in Kamloops?

The answer is precautions. It is not in Trans Mountain’s best interests to have a skilled, expensive workforce out of commission.

After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Trans Mountain delayed construction in Kamloops for two months to ensure its pandemic safety measures were in place, including temperature checks (Kamloops This Week, June 2, 2020).

In addition, Trans Mountain will implement precautions such as one person per hotel room, spacing for dining, extra cleaning requirements and maintaining spacing during transport to worksites.

The economic benefits to Kamloops are substantial. Seventeen hotels and motels in Kamloops will accommodate Trans Mountain’s workforce. Construction spending in the Kamloops area is expected to be more than $450 million over the next two years. The workforce will spend an estimated $40 million for goods and services at local businesses.

There is no room for complacency when dealing with Cov2. Contagion is an obvious risk with this virus. Kelowna’s experience is a cautionary tale. On the Canada Day weekend an advisory for downtown Kelowna was posted after eight people had tested positive following two house parties involving visitors from other parts of B.C. That number quickly grew to 13 on July 13, then to 35, and now to 60 plus.

According to reports, those parties were not wild free-for-alls like some Texas bar scene.  The parties were mostly done with the right intent with the numbers were kept small. The mistake they made was not the high numbers at any one time but that there were different people every night.

The fact that there are no COVID-19 cases in pipeline workers in Kamloops is no accident. With careful precautions, Kamloops can economically benefit without a COVID-19 outbreak from the workers.

What will cause an outbreak is the assembly of large numbers of people who blissfully don’t practice good pandemic hygiene.