Thursday, December 20, 2012

Saanich South Diamond Jubilee Recipients

RCMP Cpl, MLA Lana Popham, Det. Paul Spencelayh, Katy Madsen, Rebecca Jehn & Haji Charania

Dear Saanich South,

This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the Throne of England. In commemoration, the Governor General is awarding sixty thousand Diamond Jubilee Medals. A range of institutions and offices are helping to select recipients all year long. Each Member of the Legislative Assembly of BC was given the privilege to select four individuals in his or her constituency to receive the medal.

I asked all the Community Associations in Saanich South to appoint one person to participate in committee to select the recipients. In this way, there would be no appearance of partisanship and those actively volunteering at the local level would themselves decide who should receive this honour. This committee took their work seriously: they carefully considered over thirty nominations and used a formal process to determine the recipients.

Earlier this week, all the south Island MLAs came together to present the medals at a ceremony at the Legislature. It was a very special afternoon, with family proudly watching. The picture above includes the four Saanich South recipients. What a great bunch! Here is a little information about them:
Haji Charania gained distinction for his 26 years of service with the BC Buildings Corporation, first as a Project Manager and then as a Director. Since retiring in 2003, he has volunteered countless hours to improve the quality of life in Saanich. Contributions include serving on the Saanich Police Board, the Saanich Board of Variance, the Victoria Airport Authority Board, the Saanich Volunteer Services Society and the North Quadra Land Use Protection Association.

Rebecca Jehn is a founder and driving force of the organic and local food-first community on the south Island. She helped start the Moss Street Market in 1991 and co-founded “Saanich Organics” in 1994. She has educated hundreds in small-scale food production and in food preservation methods. She continues to farm organically and inspire the next generation of farmers on the Saanich Peninsula.

Katy Madsen is 91 year old artist, teacher, environmentalist, and activist. Her oil paintings have hung in galleries across North America and she has taught art from Walnut Creek California to Summerland BC. She was a founding director of the Sierra Club of BC and founded the Okanagan Similkameen Parks Society. She played pivotal roles in the creation of several important parks in BC and led the opposition to uranium mining in Summerland in the 1970s.

Paul Allan Spencelayh has worked as a police officer since 1997, including 10 years on the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team/Tactical Unit. He currently serves as a detective in the Major Crime Unit. He has been recognized for risking his life to help others, including the rescue of a violent suicidal male from drowning and helping to save a disabled couple from a house fire. He has also donated many hours to volunteer work, such as coaching youth sport teams and supporting the BC Special Olympics Torch Run and the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock.
Best, Lana

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Give the gift of blood!

Dear Saanich South,

During the holiday season there is an increased need for blood donations.

Canadian Blood Services has a donation center at 3449 Saanich Road (map).

The center is open today and tomorrow from 10:30am - 6:00pm, and also on Saturday December 29th, from 9:30am-4:00pm

Regular hours are Tuesday to Thursday, from 10:30am - 6:00pm and every other Saturday, from 9:30am - 4:00pm. 

Appointments are preferred, but they can accommodate walk-ins. To book an appointment call 250 382 2213.

More information is available at

A few good reasons to give blood:
  • Blood transfusions save lives. 
  • There’s no substitute for human blood. 
  • Every three seconds, someone needs a blood transfusion. 
  • About 1 in 7 people entering a hospital need blood. 
  • A pint of blood, separated in to components, can help up to three people. 
  • Do something that truly helps the community. 
  • You’ll learn your blood type.  (Adapted from Blood Centers of the Pacific)

Best, Lana

Friday, December 14, 2012

Recent media about Gordon Head Farmland

Saanich hands decision on Gordon Head farmland to Agricultural Land Commission

Gordon Alberg stands on the property at 1516 Mount Douglas 
Cross Rd. that he owns with his siblings. Saanich council sent 
an application to the Agricultural Land Commission on Monday, 
which will give the provincial body the power to determine 
whether the land should continue to be protected or whether it 
could be developed. Kyle Slavin/News Staff
By Kyle Slavin - Saanich News
Published: December 11, 2012 1:00 PM

The fate of an unused parcel of agricultural land in suburban Gordon Head is now in the hands of the Agricultural Land Commission.

The four-acre property at 1516 Mount Douglas Cross Rd. was recently slated to become a 12,000-hen poultry operation or, failing that, a cattle farm with 100 cows.

But neighbours, outraged that Saanich council painted the landowners into a corner where farming was the only remaining option, rallied against the aggressive farm plans and asked council Monday night for reconsideration of a residential subdivision instead.

Instead, council voted 8-1 to send the owner’s application to remove it from the agricultural land reserve to the ALC, without comment from council, putting the decision squarely in the hands of the provincial agency.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Geese, deer cut deep into Galey Farms

Geese, deer cut deep into Galey Farms

Rob Galey of Galey Farms in front of a wet lot on the family farm
where hundreds of geese congregate every day. The farm is
reducing its crop production in the wake of continual damage from deer and geese.
Arnold Lim/News staff
By Arnold Lim - Saanich News
Published: December 06, 2012 8:00 AM

Ray Galey fires a cap gun into the air above hundreds of geese loitering on his farm.

A dozen or so honk and scatter into the air, before flying a loop and returning to the farmland once more. Most of the Canadian geese barely flinch, they aren't scared of the sounds anymore.

Galey's son Rob, runs his fingers through what is left of his raspberry bushes. Normally seven or eight feet high, the tender branches have been nibbled away to the nubs, along with what he said would have been his profits. Farming isn't as fun for the Galey's anymore.

"We are the last commercial farming family in Saanich," Rob said. "There were hundreds of families farming 50 years ago, we are down now to three. We don't want to downsize."

With reluctance, the Galeys are letting leases expire on two farming parcels. Next season Galey Farms will drop 25 acres from production on Hastings and Interurban roads, as they can no longer protect the land from geese and deer, which eat through crops on a daily basis. The farm now plays home to deer that live on his property year-round and geese that no longer migrate.

"We took a loss again this year. We had a choice of dropping those properties and cutting those losses or the family was going to lose the farm," Rob said. "We are utilizing all the resources we have to protect the property in Blenkinsop."

When Ray and Rob chase geese away, they fly from one of his properties to another. Scaring them off the family's Blenkinsop properties only pushes them over to one of his other farms and back again. Rob's daily routine includes scaring deer and geese of his land while his children wait in the car on their way to school.

"I went to scare a buck out of my strawberry field and he put his horns down and ran me," Rob said. "It was the first time - it made me think twice. What if it wasn't me, what if it is one of my kids?"

He was able to raise his hands in the air, make himself as big as possible and eventually scare it off, but he fears safety will increasingly become an issue as the deer population is growing rapidly.

"Five point bucks shouldn't be walking around in Saanich. If mother nature sends a cougar to Saanich to kill the buck, people come to kill the cougar and leave the buck behind," he said. "They have removed all the predators of the geese and deer and no longer replacing the job mother nature did. If you want to play God, you better realize how big of a job he has before you do it."

His family has spent more that $100,000 in fencing their properties, an ongoing project, but he says that don't help. The deer find ways through, and fences trap them in more than keep them out. Deer are learning to dig underneath fencing and teaching their young to do the same, Rob says.

He has been forced to get his staff to stop working, come out into the field to form a human chain to walk them back out the way they came. It is a cost of time and resources he can scarcely afford.

Galey Farms has worked with the the Capital Regional District deer committee for two years – "a waste of time" Rob says. He looks at farming colleagues in Central Saanich who can apply for permits to cull deer and geese and wonders why a solution can't be found to help him or smaller farming operations like nearby Dan's Farm.

"People have to see it for themselves, what kind of damage can be caused. (Deer and geese) can wipe out large fields in a matter of days," said Danny Ponchet of Dan's Farm in Saanich and Central Saanich. "(Crops) don't grow back the same way. They just don't respond in the same way growing back."

The farmer of 30 years says he has it easier than the Galey's due to his much smaller operation - but he spends more and more money to protect his crops each year, and wonders if the cycle will ever end.

Saanich South MLA Lana Popham, a former farmer, says she understands the plight of the agricultural community and hopes a balance can be found.

"I would hold a public meeting on it and have a panel with both sides so we hear from the community," Popham said. "It would include farmers consumers and animal welfare representatives. I am a farmer in my past life and I have had many instances when the deer have gotten into my field and destroyed my whole crop. The frustration is real."

The former commissioner of the Peninsula Agricultural Commission has even volunteered to help mediate the public meeting.

"The economic devastation is huge. If we support a local food movement and want farmers to stay in business we have to co-operate together with the agricultural community," Popham continued. "I know in other agricultural communities there are licenses given out to hunt deer and geese that are a problem in agricultural areas. I would support that."

British Columbia Wildlife Federation director of strategic planning Al Martin said there is no "silver bullet" and hopes the proper balance can found.

"In Saanich and Saanich Peninsula, we have to ask ourselves what level of goose population is sustainable, considering agricultural lands and public safety concerns. It is all about balance. If they continue you will end up with subdivision or more urban land," he said.

"This should be an area approach. You would put (the farmer) out of business if he needs to solve it himself. Is it in the public interest to have that agricultural area in the Blenkinsop valley? I would strongly say it is, but we are saying 'this is your problem you solve it.'"

The full article can be found by clicking here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lyme Disease in BC

Alex Lippert, 2012
The four young people featured in this blog post all live in our community and suffer from chronic Lyme disease. They all continue to struggle to get the health care they need.

What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is spread by ticks, some no bigger than a speck of pepper. They travel from animal to animal, feeding off blood. The bites can be painless and leave only a tiny mark that may not last very long.

Ticks on Vancouver Island may infect people with Lyme disease and the consequences can be very serious. [VIHA] The first sign of infection is usually (but not always) a circular rash. Stage 1 common symptoms include: fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint pain and swollen lymph nodes. If untreated, the second stage of the disease can last up to several months and include: central and peripheral nervous system disorders, multiple skin rashes, arthritis and arthritic symptoms, heart palpitations, extreme fatigue and general weakness. Stage 3 - Chronic Lyme - can begin days or weeks after infection and if untreated or improperly treated, can persist for years or indefinitely.

JL, 2012
Click here to read about what you can do to reduce your chances of contracting Lyme disease.

The Issue
I have serious concerns about how Lyme is diagnosed and treated in B.C. We currently follow the IDSA guidelines on Lyme disease. The provincial health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall has stated on the record that he believes a chronic form of Lyme disease does not exist. As CanLyme Board Member and former MLA David Cubberley argues, the available scientific studies do not support such a categorical statement.

This perspective contributes to the perpetuation of flawed policies in BC that prevent chronic Lyme sufferers from accessing treatment that could help them.

confidential report by Dr. Brian Schmidt of BC’s Provincial Health Services Authority, that released through a Freedom of Information request in 2010 states that there is “growing evidence that LD is a persistent infectious disease….” Lyme disease can persist after the IDSA treatment period and therefore longer courses of antibiotics may benefit those with persistent symptoms.

Nicole Bottles, 2012
The Impacts are real

Nicole Bottles
18 year old Nicole Bottles was diagnosed with Lyme several years ago. Her symptoms were subtle at first and then progressed to headaches, nausea, and  joint pain. The symptoms worsened to include dizziness, memory loss and muscle pain. She was diagnosed with chronic fatigue, asthma, pneumonia/bronchitis and tested for Lupus, arthritis, eating disorder and more. Despite the fact that she had over two-thirds of the classic symptoms of Lyme disease, Nicole and her family could not get medical doctors to seriously consider this as a possibility. 

Here is a statement from Nicole:

Even as I became sicker and sicker, not able to walk or remember things, and in excruciating pain, I was still being denied care in Canada. The doctors here had all but given up, and I was supposed to get on with my life and ‘start living with my disability’. My family physician actually threw up his hands in frustrating and said, “Well, all the tests come back negative and I’m not sure there’s anything else I can do…”. In a last-ditch effort, I was taken to see doctors, who would end up turning my life around, in Seattle, San Francisco, and finally Connecticut, where we lived for 10 months. There are very few Lyme-literate doctors (LLD’s) in North America, but I was very lucky to end up seeing several of them. I have no doubt in saying they saved my life, and have started to put me back on the path to health; I am ever grateful for their care and support. 

 You can read more about this remarkable young women on her blog, Bite Me.

Jean-Luc Giroux
Another young person suffering from Lyme disease is 26 year old Jean-Luc Giroux. He has suffered with Lyme disease for five years. His slideshow explains his journey and where he is at now.  

Alex Lippert 
23-year-old Alex Lippert isn't sure exactly when she was infected, but it was most likely when she was seven or eight. She lived in Southern Ontario at the time and spent her summers in Saanich. She loved riding horses and playing in the woods. Alex had many health challenges growing up, including painful and weak joints, and constant headaches. She also struggled with severe ADHD and chronic depression.

Alex graduated high school and began studying Aerospace Engineering at University in Florida in 2007. However, her health further deteriorated and she had to drop out after completing her first year and return home to Saanich.

At the end of 2009, she finally received some testing for Lyme disease and got positive results from a Elisa test. However, the BC medical system doesn’t recognize chronic Lyme and it does not allow doctors to prescribe comprehensive antibiotic treatment. This has forced many families into great financial hardship as they try to cover the costs themselves.

Alex’s family instead pursued and paid for treatment in the US, first in Washington and then in California. There have been some physical improvements, but Alex remains in constant pain and lives in a mental fog.

She and her family continues to fight for the care she desperately needs.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Helping others

Dear Friends,

As 2012 comes to a close, I reflect on this year as MLA for Saanich South. I recall successes and challenges attendant with life as an elected official trying to affect change in my community.

Another thought that arises during my reflections is that I am so grateful for all that I have in my life: loving family, rewarding work, and an ability to make a difference. None of which would be possible without the basic human needs: shelter, safety and food.

Every year, hundreds of families spend their winter months trying to meet these basic needs. We've all heard of the decision between food and heat, or between food and medicine – but few of us really understand what that decision feels like.

The solutions to poverty are complex and seemingly very distant. We can do better, we all know that and we must all continue our individual efforts to eliminate poverty.

In the meantime, we can – each of us – make poverty easier to survive in many ways. Part of my effort is to host a food bank drive, at my community office, throughout December.  I invite each of you to stop by my office; 4085 Quadra St (corner of Nicholson) with a donation for those less fortunate than ourselves.

This year, we will be collecting for two different organizations: the Mustard Seed Food Bank and Anawim House.  All non-perishable food items will be donated to the Mustard Seed. The Anawim House is always in need of some very basic items: such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and warm socks.

All donations collected at my office will be delivered on December 20, 2012.

If you cannot make a donation, please consider volunteering at food banks, meal programs, or for one of the many organizations that are combating poverty.

"You will discover that you have two hands. 

One is for helping yourself, the other is for helping others."

~Audrey Hepburn

Enjoy this song by Ben Harper, with Jack Johnson

Thank you!