Letters to the Editor: April 16

The long hallway to health; The WIHL; Old Fire Hall/Cranbrook Council; Old Fire Hall/Arts Council

The Long Hallway to Health

It is time for Interior Health and the BC Cancer Agency to take the elevator to the third floor of the the Cranbrook Regional Hospital and walk down the anything but life enhancing hallway to oncology Room 322 where you must pass the two rooms designated for the dying; the palliative Rooms 321and 323. Cancer and all it’s connotations are difficult enough to digest without the added trauma of walking through palliative care’s hallway of pending doom.  Nor should those poor folks awaiting the inevitable be subjected to those of us who are unable to fight off infection due to the chemicals coursing through our bodies, virtually holding our breath as we pass them transversing to and from Room 322. All parties feel bad enough already.  As compassionate as we want to be, self preservation is a powerful incentive not to be in anything but a rush, barely able to withhold the terror in our eyes as we try to quickly move through this admittedly depressing corridor. Part of the Hippocratic medical oath is “do no harm”.  I have very real concerns about how forcing patients with seriously compromised immune systems down a hallway where even the healthy nurses need to wear masks, can remotely meet this ethic. It is a conundrum at best, on one side of this hall the patient is struggling for a cure while across the hall the cure is not to be found, leaving only the care.

Surely Interior Health and the BC Cancer Agency can come up with a better alternative to this situation. On the other hand, to simply make a statement and expect solutions to magically appear is a pipe dream none of us can afford. Statistically, 1 in 3 of us will develop some sort of cancer in our lifetime. Perhaps now with the construction of the new ICU unit and the Paediatric wing here in Cranbrook, a less hazardous location for the very busy Oncology unit could be incorporated.

I have since learned that there is donated money, restricted to oncology, in the East Kootenay Foundation. Additionally, there are further funds that could be made available from other local philanthropists which would also help assuage this significant concern. Gratefully, I have been made aware of the following plans. The East Kootenay Foundation of Health does have funds designated for oncology. This is outside any major capital campaign that could be staged for the cause. I have been told that the ICU is the priority as the number of patients sent elsewhere for numerous reasons is very high. That being said the present ICU will become an extension of the PAEDS with the proper lock down doors (security) and the ability to treat sick children. Room 318 is presently a PAEDS room but will become part of Oncology once PAEDS is relocated to the second floor. This area will then be the enlarged Oncology with the entrance by the main desk avoiding the walk through the hall of doom. EKFH does want the Oncology area to be addressed as they have repeatedly heard about the hall of doom and consider the comments to be truly justified.

Based on this information I trust that a dangerous journey will soon be less so.

Thanks to all for their help and concern,

Roy Stromberg/Cranbrook


Anthony Dransfeld’s article on former Cranbrook Royal’s star Ron “Spike” Huston was a real walk down Memory Lane and I thank the Townsman for running it.

Although I’d left the area by the time Huston became a star, I remember well the league he played in, the Western International Hockey League, or WIHL as it was commonly known, one of the longest running and most illustrious senior hockey leagues in Canadian history.

The WIHL produced three world senior amateur champions, the Kimberley Dynamiters once and the famed Trail Smoke Eaters twice, the only team in Canada to win this distinction and the team of my long, lost youth. Oh, the memories!

The league also produced numerous Allan Cup champions, emblematic of Senior Hockey supremacy in Canada and a predecessor to the Stanley Cup. Many talented players like Huston played out their careers in various senior leagues across Canada and never made it to the NHL simply because there were only six teams in the top league and there simply wasn’t room for all the talent. But leagues like the WIHL had many skilled players that would have easily made it to the “bigs” today and provided a highly entertaining brand of live hockey that you have to pay a small fortune to see now.

As a three-time MVP in the WIHL, Huston must have been an amazing player and I regret never seeing him flash down the ice. And just how did he earn the sobriquet “Spike?” There must be a story there.

Gerry Warner, Lifetime Trail Smoke Eater fan/Cranbrook

Fire Hall/Council

I attended the April 13, 2015 Council Meeting at City Hall.  During the Council’s Report portion of the Agenda, the Cranbrook Arts Council and Fire Hall were brought up — again.

Yes, a past council allocated $500,000 to Arts & Culture, not specifically to the Cranbrook & District Arts Council.  Over the past six years the City of Cranbrook has already given the Cranbrook Arts Council $104,000!  The City has also contributed significant dollars  to other arts and cultural needs throughout the community during that same period.  So it can’t be said that past and present Councils have not supported arts and culture in Cranbrook!

According to an Engineering Report done two years ago, the cost to upgrade the Fire Hall to meet Provincial Codes would be at least $1.2 million of taxpayers’ hard earned dollars.  I have always been concerned that whichever group took over the Fire Hall, they must prove they also had the funds to maintain the building and that it wouldn’t default back to the City for expenses.

City Council is elected to manage and be fiscally responsible for Cranbrook’s operations through  taxpayers’ dollars.  Cranbrook’s infrastructure is in dire need of upgrades which must come from those same taxpayers’ dollars.  Ask any Councillor and I’m sure they can give you a list of needed City projects.

During the last election, Cranbrook citizens made it very clear, by voting in a totally new council, that they wanted a change to a more fiscally responsible leadership at City Hall.  Making the decision to remove or replace anything in the budget is always a tough one and this Council has made some very hard decisions on our behalf.

I applaud Council for making the hard decisions that a few may not like but I’m standing behind them.  They are making decisions for all of Cranbrook, not just one group.

Denise Pallesen/Cranbrook

Fire Hall/CDAC

Ms. Dodgson’s comments seem to reflect the views of some in the community regarding the repurposing of the fire hall as an arts centre. Unfortunately, her views are based on misinformation. Perhaps, the following facts will help.

Never has the Cranbrook and District Arts Council (CDAC) asked the City to give them the fire hall. We believe it should remain a public building. Never has the CDAC asked the City to give them money for renovations. City Council put $500,000 into their Five Year Plan to bring the building up to code if it was to be repurposed.  This sum was not borrowed by the City. It was simply in the Five Year plan so that it could be considered along with the other possible future demands on the City budget. That $500,000 has since been removed, but its removal has not saved one cent because the money was never borrowed.

The Arts Council is not a business. It is a not-for profit society dedicated to the advancement of arts and culture.  It promotes the arts through the presentation of exhibitions and competitions, runs educational programs such as workshops and demonstrations and distributes funds to other organizations in the area. It is like all the other arts councils in the province operating under the aegis of the British Columbia Arts Council, a branch of the Ministry of Community, Sport and Culture. Check www.bcartscouncil.ca.  All arts councils are funded by the province, local governments, and the Gaming Branch. This is as it should be, because no one else can provide such facilities as art galleries, libraries and recreational complexes, none of which make money.

Here is breathtaking comparison. The City “gives” the CDAC $20,000 annually to help with operating expenses. The Rec-plex costs roughly four million each year and brings in one million. We bring in other funds to run our gallery and we always balance the books. The City’s grant to us is tiny in comparison with the cost of running Western Financial Place.

Ms Dodgson advises us, and I’m paraphrasing, “Hold fund-raisers to renovate the building.” For more than forty years the CDAC has raised thousands of dollars to continue to provide a service to the community. We have worked tirelessly to raise funds from granting organizations for projects in the area. This brings in new money.  If the CDAC didn’t receive these funds other communities certainly would.  In receiving non taxpayer funds from Columbia Basin Trust, for example, Cranbrook lags far behind all other towns in the valley. We stand ready to bring in more funds to renovate the fire hall at no extra cost to the City.

We are capable of raising significant sums. Last year we raised $20,000 for an engineering study and $50,000 for an elevator for the building. These monies are being held in abeyance at this time and we run the risk of having to send them back if we can’t move forward on the project. This would be a shame and a potential embarrassment to both the CDAC and the City.

Finally, we are not a group of artists selling our own art work. That would be an artists’ co-op, which is a business. We are a not-for-profit council dedicated to providing support for arts and we are seeking the support of the City in doing that. Almost every community I know of provides that support. It is what successful communities do.

Bill McColl/Cranbrook