Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Stand up for our beautiful coast

This is a picture of Coles Bay about a week ago as the tide came in over the flat beach and warmed the water up so families could splash around in the water. Can you picture this scene with the water covered in oil?

Here's another beach, this one at Malcolm Island, a place where Humpback whales have recently been congregating. And below it the the ferry dock at Sointula at the north end of Vancouver Island.

Up Next is Hornby Island. Have you ever been there? It's stunningly beautiful.

I just can't bear to think about an oil spill here. Or even worse diluted bitumen which is sludge that sinks combined with toxic chemicals. You know I'm talking about Kinder Morgan's pipeline plan. And we need to stand together to stop it.

Here are some photos from my beloved Saturna Island.  This channel is particularly vulnerable to oil spills as most of the tankers go through here.

Maybe you think that because BC now has the NDP in power that it's going to be stopped. Premier John Horgan campaigned on using every tool in the toolbox to stop it, but he's under enormous pressure from big oil companies to back down. He needs to hear from everyone who cares about our coast that we support him in stopping Kinder Morgan.

Maybe you have a beach you like to visit....  Like Willows Beach where you can see geese with goslings swimming around.

Or maybe you live in Vancouver and like to sail or visit the harbour and walk along Spanish Banks.  If you do, please consider writing a short note to John Horgan to tell him how important this issue is to you.  I'll give you details of how to do this at the end of this post.

If the pipeline is built it means a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic on our coast. That means seven time more chance of an oil spill. 

Last night I went out rowing on the Gorge Waterway here in Victoria. As the sun set a seal popped its head out of the water to say hello and again I thought about what an oil spill would mean to Victoria. 
I thought of how it would affect the sea birds, the orcas, the seals and otters, not to mention the fishing and tourism that depend on our ocean.  

I woke up at 3:00 am and wrote a letter to John Horgan telling him how important this is to me and to hundreds or thousands of others in British Columbia.  I volunteer with Dogwood, a group of people who are working to stop Kinder Morgan. They've been talking to MLA and to the premier and it seems that people have not been showing much support for his efforts to stop the pipeline. We need to let him know how important it is to us.

It's easy to do. Here's a link to a page where with one click you can write an email to him.

And here's the letter I wrote. It's short and supportive.

Dear John Horgan,

First of all, thank you for keeping your promise and getting intervener status for British Columbia to oppose Kinder Morgan’s pipeline plan.  Just this evening I was out rowing in the Gorge waterway as the sun set and a seal popped its head out of the water and was reminded again what a beautiful coast we have here on Vancouver Island.  I know that I speak for hundreds, if not thousands, of people here who cannot bear the idea of a bitumen spill and what it would do to our beaches and our marine environment.

I know that it’s hard to stand up to concerted lobbying efforts from oil interests, but I hope you know that we are behind you all the way. We want to stop Kinder Morgan and other oil interests from putting our coast at risk but it’s not just about protecting our waters. We want to see British Columbia leading the way in making the shift to renewables rather than expanding shipments of dirty oil. 

There are so many people counting on you to take the steps needed to stop the pipeline. Some of them don’t bother writing letters but we are all hoping that you can be strong enough to be the leader we need at this time and show a new way forward for British Columbia and the world.  Please don’t let us down.


Joanna Pettit

I urge you to take a few minutes today to write to him yourself and let him know that you're supporting him in this effort. Maybe you could include in your email a photo of a beach or the ocean here that's special to you. He really needs to hear from everyone who cares about our coast.

For final inspiration I give you a few more photographs.

Thanks for reading through to the end of this long post. You can tell it's close to my heart. I hope you feel the same way and will take the time to contact John Horgan.  Here's the link again to send him an email:

We can't let the fossil fuel lobby be the only voices heard by our new provincial government.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Victoria's upper harbour

This week we moved out of our house into our little studio at the Janion so we could welcome a family from France on a home exchange. The Janion is a small (300 square feet) studio that we've set up for Air B&B this summer. It's been fun welcoming people from all over the globe to our small city. This week we've been enjoying some of the tourist in the summer downtown activities like dining out, walking around, window shopping and enjoying the view from our studio.

This is what we see from the west window looking onto
 Victoria's upper harbour. It's a view of the upper harbour, further up past the famous "inner harbour" where the parliament buildings sit. In this photo you can see the little harbour ferries that criss-cross the water in the summer. And across the water is the working part of the harbour. There's a drydock and loading facilities.Note the rowing sculls out there. They come up and down between the bridges every morning.  And I'm super interested in them right now because I'm learning to row along with three other women.  I'll tell you more about that in another post though.

It's fun to see the boats going back and forth and the paddle boards and kayaks and outriggers. We were surprised at how active this part of the harbour is. Here's another view showing some of the docks across the way.

The weather has been gorgeous with sunny skies and calm air. We've really enjoyed staying in our tiny apartment and drifting out onto the street right in the heart of Victoria's old town. Here's our living area and a view of the restored stairs that were original in the 1891 building.

The family from France is having a wonderful time visiting here. They are on a six-month family adventure and we're their first stop. Last night we had a wonderful salmon dinner together in the back yard and this morning my sister brought her dog Toby by for a little visit. The children loved him. Next year we're planning to visit their town, Albi, in the south of France.

One last view of the little harbour ferries for you.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The pleasures and perils of isolation

One thing that's wonderful about our cabin on Saturna Island is the sense of being alone at the top of the world. When we go up there for a weekend we see only a few hikers along the Brown Ridge Trail and if we're lucky the herd of feral goats that lives up there. But the isolation of the spot also comes with risk--as we learned this weekend.

We gathered up at the cabin on Saturday afternoon with plans for dinner together, with my brother and his wife and daughter and their two cats, plus my sister and her dog Toby. After a pleasant walk along the ridge we ate barbecued salmon and corn and Greek salad, drank wine, and then enjoyed a desert of chocolate brownies from a Victoria bakery.

My sister Jan, who is allergic to almonds took one bite of a brownie and immediately realized that it contained almond flour. Usually when this happens Jan disappears for a while to force herself to vomit up the offending food, but this time she was unable to get that to happen. This time the reaction was much worse than she's ever experienced before and we became alarmed when her tongue and lips swelled and she became short of breath. That's when my brother called Saturna's volunteer ambulance crew.

There is no resident doctor on the island so the ambulance crew and a helicopter off the island is the only recourse in a medical emergency. It's at least a half-hour drive up to the top of the ridge. It was a long half hour waiting, and we were fortunate that when the ambulance arrived they came with a doctor from West Vancouver who happened to be visiting on the island.  The volunteer ambulance coordinator knew that this doctor was on the island and arranged for her to attend with the ambulance. (It's a small island!)

The doctor was able to immediately give Jan a life-saving injection so her airway wouldn't close. Oxygen was started and eventually an IV. They couldn't get the helicopter to the island because it was busy on another call so they called out the Ambulance boat from Victoria. After about an hour when she was starting to stabilize the ambulance bumped its way down the rutted road to the dock. This had taken more than two hours. Then we waited for the ambulance boat to arrive. The BC marine ambulance service serves all the gulf islands and remote coastal communities on the south end of Vancouver Island. It's has all the equipment and medics that a regular ambulance carries and it's a very fast little boat.

Here's Jan on a stretcher being loaded into the ambulance boat.  I was able to accompany Jan on the trip to a private dock at Swartz Bay  where we were met by an ambulance from Victoria that took us to the nearest hospital. By then the drugs had stopped the allergic reaction and Jan was starting to feel better. We waited a while to be checked out at the hospital but by then the emergency was over.

In all it took about four and a half hours to get to the hospital, with the help of at least six volunteers from Saturna plus the boat crew and the ambulance on the other side.  It was remarkable how professional and kind everyone was. Not a single person asked Jan why she didn't carry an epi-pen with a known allergy. The answer was that she had been able to manage the reaction herself until this time.  By the way, she'll be carrying one from now on.

So our family dinner turned into quite another experience, one where we saw how people in an isolated community can work together in an emergency. I am so grateful for the volunteer ambulance crew on Saturna and the doctor who just happened to be able to come up the hill with them. And I can't say enough about the professionalism and kindness of all staff on the marine ambulance.  We are going to make sure there is an Epi-pen always there at the cabin.