"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." --G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Flowers to Eagle Ridge Manor residents

Our volunteers for 2014: (l-r) Dora, Catharina, Jaci, and Irene.
In the late winter of 1994, a small group of parishioners from St. Joseph's Parish in Port Moody gathered around a meeting-room table in the church to brainstorm about what could be done to promote their and their church's life-affirming philosophy--the respect for all human life, from conception to its natural end.
I put forward the idea that it might be nice to show our respect for the sick and aged by visiting them over the Easter weekend (a time of the year in which we celebrate life, of course!), presenting them with flowers and greetings.
Everyone agreed that it would be a good idea, and then one of the group looked at me with arched eyebrows and said, "Well...."  I took that to mean that, since the flowers-project was my idea, I would be responsible for making it come to life. And the rest is history.
For 20 years now, I've been organizing a group of parishioners every Easter to visit the residents of a long-term care facility, Eagle Ridge Manor in Port Moody, bringing them a little Easter cheer of flowers and fellowship. Over the years, we've seen some of the participants grow from little children to young adults. Some others have moved away. A few others have passed away. But every year, we have no difficulty attracting between a half dozen and two dozen volunteers to keep our Easter Flowers project alive.
The Manor's Charlotte Stewart and volunteer Irene Munro, 83.
It was a bit more difficult this year, though, because the Manor asked that all visitors either be vaccinated or don a surgical mask when interacting with the residents. Nevertheless, four volunteers--Irene Munro, Catharina Gani, Jaclyn Dube and Dora Yee--joined me for the 20th-anniversary event this morning.
I've just returned home now from Eagle Ridge Manor and it was another memorable morning, as the flowers, cards (made by children in the parish) and visits really cheered the residents. Family members and staff also expressed their gratitude for our visit.
I'd like to thank Charlotte Stewart, the Manor's recreation therapist, for helping make our visit run smoothly this year, and for taking to a microphone at the end of the morning to give us a special "thank-you." After 20 years, it feels pretty good!
I'd also like to thank Wim Vander Zalm, of Art Knapp's in Port Coquitlam, for faithfully donating the plants each year. The total is now well over 1,500 flowering plants, by my reckoning. Thanks, Wim; we couldn't have done it without your support.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Come July 1, recycling will still be weekly

Big changes are coming to the way trash (aka "garbage"), green waste and recyclables are picked up in Coquitlam. But, despite the fact the City has put a lot of time, effort and expense into explaining how the system will change on July 1, the information has a rather large gap in it relating to recyclables. To get right to the point, the information that is missing on the City's website*, in the pamphlet it sent to every household in Coquitlam this month, and in the four-page FAQ flyer is this: your "blue box" will be picked up every week, on the same day that it is currently picked up now.
Current garbage and recycling system in Coquitlam.
I need to point this out because the pamphlet does not refer to the frequency of recycling, and the FAQ flyer states confusingly that recyclables will be picked up on the same day as household garbage is picked up. And since household garbage is being picked up every second week, and not weekly, this information has led many to conclude that recyclables will be picked up every second week as well.
I have talked about the information-gap with City managers and communications staff, and they have told me they will move quickly to clarify to issue. The reason the problem arose in the first place is directly related to the fact that the City will no longer be picking up recyclables as of July 1. Instead, the contractor will be hired by Multi-Material B.C. (MMBC), a manufacturers' organization working under provincial law that has been tasked with the responsibility for recycling.
The City did not find out until quite recently who that contractor would be, what schedule the contractor would operate with, and what exactly MMBC would enable the contractor to pick up.
The good news is that the City learned within only the past few weeks that MMBC has awarded the recycling contract to Smithrite, the same company the City now has under contract to do recycling pickup.
Furthermore, MMBC says Smithrite will adhere to the same weekly schedule that it has with the City, and that it will pick up the same mix of newspapers, other paper and cardboard materials, plastics and even glass, the latter having been up in the air for several months. I understand that glass might have to be placed in a separate container, however, and might also be picked up less frequently. That's still to be determined.
As for all the other changes, including bi-weekly (every second week) trash pickup, weekly green-waste pickup, cart-selection options, etc., please refer to the City links I have provided above. Note: you have until April 25 to let the City know whether you want to increase or decrease cart size.

*After I raised the issue yesterday afternoon, the website was updated with current information about recycling.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Some action on chronic, prolific offenders

Justice Minister Peter MacKay was busy today defending his victims'-rights legislation, which will give to crime victims some statutory rights in the criminal-justice system. With justice reform in the news, I thought it would be a good time to update my campaign seeking tougher laws against chronic, prolific offenders.
Photo: The Tri-Cities Now
As you might recall, council supported my motion last November asking the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the federal government to heed a request from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police calling for such action. I drafted the motion after hearing repeatedly from our local detachment of the RCMP about the huge amount of time and expense the police have to devote to countering the criminal activities of just a handful of bad guys. Here's a link to a recent statement, from our detachment, about the problem.
Well, since then, we've heard from both the FCM and Mr. MacKay himself in response to the motion. First, on April 1, the city received a letter (dated March 17) from Mr. MacKay informing us that his office had received the motion, and that he had shared our correspondence with "appropriate departmental officials."
"I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Council for its efforts to help ensure the safety of residents in the Coquitlam community," Mr. MacKay continued. "Our government is committed to strengthening the criminal justice system. I can assure you that Department of Justice Canada officials work closely with their provincial and territorial counterparts, as well as municipalities and police services, to address the issue of chronic offenders."
He then went on to explain how Ottawa is currently reviewing the bail regime in Canada. However, he did not specifically say he would embark on any new initiative designed to define "chronic, prolific offender" in the Criminal Code so that the current revolving-door in the courtroom can be slammed shut. When a chronic, prolific offender with 100 theft convictions gets the same slap on the wrist that someone with half a dozen convictions receives, it's just not right. Let's hope that that tackling the chronic-, prolific-offender issue is high on Mr. MacKay's to-do list.
Meantime, on March 24 Coquitlam received an e-mail from Diane Belanger, the FCM's administrative and resolutions coordinator, who advised us that our resolution was considered by an unspecified FCM committee which, in turn, recommended to the board in March that the resolution be sent back to staff for further analysis. The board concurred, and the motion will now be brought back to the September board meeting.
All in all, it's about as much action as I would have expected at this point. I'm pleased that both the FCM and Mr. MacKay have considered the motion seriously and have responded to us. Frankly, I don't expect to hear much more from the federal government on this, but will keep my fingers crossed that, in September, the FCM's board will decide to move the motion to the floor of the next FCM convention.