Along the Fraser: Here’s to a better year in 2017

“Society is measured by what it does for the aged, the sick, the orphans, the less fortunate who live in our midst …"

Along the Fraser Jack Emberly

Along the Fraser Jack Emberly

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world … the Second Coming – William Butler Yeats.

Things fell apart in 2016, but there were signs of hope.

In January, federal and provincial governments cut funding for the over-night shelters for youth.

They were a lost kid’s chance to get back on track.

“Society is measured by what it does for the aged, the sick, the orphans, the less fortunate who live in our midst,” said Tommy Douglas, father of the NDP.

The idea was the centre of political thinking once.

Iron Horse – one surrogate home with a record of success, helping kids stay in school, learn life skills, develop relationships, make plans – closed its doors last January.

The public – always guided by empathy – complained.

One year later, no one in public office has acknowledged these children.

That job fell to Teesha Sharma – Blue Door Youth Society – who says these kids break her heart.

When she couldn’t raise funds for a long-term residence, she shifted efforts – with Christian Cowley of the CEED Centre – to helping with their immediate needs: food, clothing, counselling, work, and connections with caring adults.

They deserve support in 2017.

At a 2016 council meeting in Pitt Meadows, RCMP Supt. Dave Fleugel said  officers in a hospital with a mentally ill person until a doctor arrives are “money down the drain.”

There was no follow up discussion of note.

How to prevent financial drain taxpayers can’t afford? More teams of first responders? No.

Would long-term homeless shelters for youth help? Yes.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Katzie Slough got attention last year thanks to Scott Magri’s story of a bullied teen comforted by a stream much healthier then.

Lina Azeez of Watershed Watch Salmon Society made the slough a model for this group’s Connected Waters Initiative. It sees salmon in sloughs again when 207 old pumps and flood gates become fish friendly. We’ll see what government thinks in 2017.

In 2016, fluctuations from the dam stranded thousands of fry on Fern Crescent lawns.

B.C. Hydro’s Rob Harrison apologized, saying “poor reservoir management” would be corrected. This year it will have the help of watchful fishermen.

Volunteer streamkeepers at ARMS and KEEPS worked hard for fish in 2016.

MP Dan Ruimy spent a morning with some, counting chum spawners in Millionaire Creek, and later hosted a meeting of volunteers in his office.

Counting fish, monitoring and protecting steams are things DFO used to do, but doesn’t despite public sentiment and the goal of a Wild Salmon Policy gathering dust in some government basement.

DFO’s commitment has fallen apart, sped along by the Conservative government’s gutting of habitat protection in the Fisheries Act.

At the end of last year, Ottawa established a standing committee charged with re-examining changes made to the act in 2012. It will review over 100 documents submitted by scientists, and water stewardship groups, who say saving wild fish begins with a statement declaring that intent, followed by a strictly enforced act, supportive policy, and regulations.

Because that foundation fell apart, Maple Creek, a salmon stream in Port Coquitlam, narrowly escaped being dug up in August, when a private land owner wanted to build a bigger house.

DFO management – its head in the clouds – approved that idea. We’ll see what Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc really thinks when he announces what changes, if any, he’ll make to return DFO’s focus and the act’s tooth count.

Things fall apart in the absence of government serving the needs of people. That’s why the U.S. has president, Donald Trump.

But changes are cyclical, said the poet.

Things fall apart to reassemble improved. If society is measured by how well we treat “the aged, the sick, the orphans, the less fortunate who live in our midst,” we could come back to that in 2017.

Happy New Year.

Jack Emberly is a retired teacher, local author and environmentalist.


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