- Our Town
Local politicians hold forum at Keremeos Seniors Centre
The Seniors Centre played host to local politicians at the senior society’s monthly meeting on April 4.
Keremeos Mayor Manfred Bauer, Regional Hospital District Chair Janice Perrino, and Electoral Area Directors for “G” and “B” Angelique Woods and George Bush were on hand to discuss health and local issues with the society.
District Hospital Chair Perrino talked about the current state of affairs in health care, warning of the possibility of strike action in a couple of sectors, including nursing, before moving on to bring the members up to date on the status of Penticton Regional Hospital.
“The public buys much of the equipment needed at the hospital,” she said, further stating that the hospital was in very good shape as a result of the region’s largesse. Perrino described the latest equipment acquisition, the portable intensive care unit known as HART, as being fully funded ($180,000) through the donations of volunteers.
A plan to expand Penticton Regional Hospital to three times its present size will be put before the province for approval this fall, Perrino said, wraning the approximately 35 members of the audience that petition signing might be necessary to sway the province. She congratulated the Hedley, Keremeos and Cawston area for resident donations totalling $600,000 in the past five years towards hospital improvements.
Mayor Bauer advised that there would be no farmworkers campground this year. In discussions with Corporal Gallagher of the Keremeos RCMP detachment, Bauer said that he hoped the RCMP would be able to provide bicycle patrols in the village’s two parks.
Bauer also noted the recent closure of WorkZone, describing the contracted replacement services of the YMCA, and expressing the need for full service employment services in the Lower Similkameen.
Bauer also described the Similkameen Valley Planning Society’s plans for a Watershed study and the SVPS Tourism Advisory Council’s desire to make the Similkameen Valley a “household name” as a destination tourist area, saying that the valley has enough attractions to entice people to spend time here.
Members of the audience had questions that concerned such issues as grass fire hazards on First Nation lands, alternate plans for transient farmworkers, and the problems that continue to surround recent safety improvements to the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street.
Society members advocated increased participation in COPS (Citizens on Patrol) with one audience member recommending that council members tag along on a COPS patrol.
Several members commented on the changes to the Seventh and Seventh improvements, most of them negative. Most had fears of backed up traffic because of the new westbound stop sign. Others noted that confusion was still apparent for some motorists who did not understand the new configuration.
Area “G” Director Angelique Wood spoke of the recent 911 dispatch changes, advising the audience to remember that their 911 call would be handled by people “who don’t know the area, and don’t know you.”
She noted that part of the problem stemmed from a reliance on technology and a shift in where the service comes from.
Area “B” Director George Bush thought it was a good idea to start a dialogue with First Nations with respect to the wildfire issue. He noted that transients will continue to come here whether there is a campground or not, and hoped that someone might take on the campground as a business. He thought that a petition would be required before changes to the Seventh and Seventh intersection would get any attention from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
Mayor Bauer expressed an interest in meeting with the society bi-annually in order to keep them informed. One audience member described the politicians’ presence as having helped to create the “most informative OAP meeting we have had in a long time.”