Tough year in the books, hopeful forecast for 2018

Editor Tara Bowie takes a look back on 2017.

Editor Tara Bowie takes a look back at some of the bigger events in 2017 and notes some initiatives on the horizon for next year .

I think everyone can agree 2017 was one heck of a year.

On a professional note, there of course were significant changes at the Keremeos Review this year. For financial reasons we closed our office in downtown Keremeos and now handle most of the operations out of our Penticton office.

This change of course offers some logistical challenges, but we continue our commitment to local news and have even increased coverage in some areas because we now have a thriving website at www.keremeosreview.com. The website offers a chance to provide breaking news as it happens and give further reach to some of our community news as it gets shared around social media channels.

There are still many things to work out, but by-in-large the community continues to be supportive of this little newspaper that could and I appreciate everyone’s help that has Facebooked, texted or called with news tips or sent in photos.

As a community of course we’ve seen some change this year. The closure of the CIBC is a huge loss for this community.

Although I don’t personally bank there, at the meeting earlier in December I realized how much loyalty means to this community.

For many people there they’d banked at the CIBC for decades. They know the staff. They support the financial institution and don’t want it to leave it. But because they live in a small town and making more profit matters over service, they will have to either drive to Osoyoos or bank somewhere else.

The Greyhound changes, if approved, will be another big loss for this community. If the stops are discontinued in the Similkameen it doesn’t just mean people here won’t have access to direct transit to get to the Lower Mainland. It also means tourists and agricultural workers won’t have access to get here either. Hopefully. there is a way to make this service viable whether it’s the province stepping in or the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen.

Sadly, things look bleak going into 2018 with the library. Elef Christensen, director for Area G, who represents the communities of Hedley, Olalla and rural Keremeos says his constituents do not want to pay anymore taxes to keep the Keremeos library open.

The truth is, if he looked at his spending and what conferences he attends they would not have to pay a nickel more in taxes.

Regional government continuing to pay for library services isn’t a longterm solution, but when the Province has committed to looking into the issue it’s worth one more year of funding, in my opinion.

Although there seems to be loss going on in the Lower Similkameen there was a lot of gain this year as well.

Grants, grants and more grants.

Grants were received to redo the playground at Memorial Park, create a painted banner project, come up with a downtown plan and even replace the water main and construct curb flares.

The curb flares might be the most anticipated project to come to this community in quite some time. The flares will not only make the downtown more visually appealing, it’s anticipated they will slow down traffic.

There was other success like the Crossing at the Ashnola reopening, the Lower Similkameen Community Services Society tendering the affordable housing project that will see the creation of 24 new units built in 2018 and the opening of several new businesses in the community including Century 21, Three Winds Art Gallery, and several others.

The tragedy of the opiate crisis touched the lives of many in 2017. Although the Review hasn’t reported many overdoses within the community over the las year, we know just by the numbers that many families have lost loved ones to addiction.

In November the B.C. Coroners Service reported more than 1,100 overdose deaths in the Province in 2017.

We must do better for those that are struggling in 2018. Addiction is a symptom of our society and the priorities we set. We all have a responsibility to make this world better. It’s as easy as being kind to one another and if that’s not possible even the act of not being mean or putting aside judgement can make a big difference.

Thoughts are with those grieving the people they love and to those battling the monster of addiction.

The hope for 2018 is that as a global community we find better ways to help those with addiction and we finally legalize marijuana so that those that do suffer from pain have access to pain management that doesn’t include opiates and they will not be forced to fall into the hole that is opiate addiction.

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