Posts Tagged "Wild"


Daphne Bramham: B.C. addictions minister targets province’s ‘wild, wild West’ recovery houses

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B.C. Addictions Minister Judy Darcy has no illusions about the current state of British Columbia’s recovery houses and the risk that the bad ones pose to anyone seeking safe, quality care.

Nor is she alone when she calls it “the wild, wild West.”

Anyone able to build a website and rent a house can operate a so-called recovery house. Like a game of whack-a-mole, even when inspectors try to shut down the worst ones, they spring up somewhere else.

That said, the regulations they’re supposed to enforce are so vaguely worded that it’s easier for bylaw inspectors to shut places down for garbage infractions than for failure to provide the most basic of services like food and a clean bed to people desperate for help.

Even the most deplorable ones have never been taken to court by the province, let alone fined or convicted which makes the penalties of up to $10,000 moot.

It’s taken two years, but this week Darcy — along with Health Minister Adrian Dix and Social Development Minister Shane Simpson — took the first steps toward bringing some order to the chaos and overturning years of neglect.

In two separate announcements, what they’re offering is both the stick of tighter regulations and enforcement as well as the carrot of more money for operations and training staff.

The carrots announced Friday include $4,000 grants available immediately to registered and licensed recovery home operators to offset the costs of training for staff before tougher regulations come into force on Dec. 1.

On Oct. 1, the per-diem rate paid for the treatment of people on social assistance will be raised after more than a decade without an increase. Recovery houses on the provincial registry will get a 17-per-cent increase to $35.90, while recovery houses licensed by the regional health authorities will jump to $45 from $40.

The sticks are new regulations that for the first time require things like qualified staff, which common sense should have dictated years ago as essential. Recovery houses will have to provide detailed information about what programs and services they offer. Again, this seems a no-brainer, as does requiring operators to develop personal service plans for each resident and support them as they transition out of residential care.

As for enforcement, the “incremental, remedial approach” to complaints has been scrapped and replaced with the power to take immediate action rather than waiting for a month and giving written notice to the operators.

Darcy is also among the first to admit that much, much more needs to be done to rein in bad operators whose purported treatment houses are flophouses and to provide addicts and their families with the resources they need to discern the good from the bad.

More than most, the minister knows the toll that poor funding and lack of regulation is taking both on addicts who seek help and on their loved ones. She’s haunted by meetings she’s had with the loved ones of those who have died in care and those who couldn’t get the services they needed.

“It’s the most difficult thing that I have to do and, of course, it moves me to my core,” she said in an interview following the announcement. “People say, ‘Do you ever get used to it?’ Of course I don’t. If you ever get used to it, you’re doing the wrong job.

“But I try and take that to drive me and to drive our government to do more and to move quickly and act on all fronts and having said that, there’s a lot to do. There’s really, really a lot to do.”

Among those she’s met are the two mothers of men who died within days of each other in December under deplorable conditions in two provincially registered recovery houses run by Step By Step.

B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy shares a laugh with Scott Kolodychuk, operations manager of Surrey’s Trilogy House One recovery home where Friday’s news conference was held.

Mike Bell /


It was four to six hours before 22-year-old Zach Plett’s body was found after he overdosed and died. On Christmas Eve, a 35-year-old man died at a different Step by Step house. It was two days before his body was found by other residents.

Two years before those men died, the provincial registrar had received dozens of complaints and issued dozens of non-compliances orders. Both houses remained on the registry until this summer when owner/operator Debbie Johnson voluntarily closed them.

After years of relentless advocacy Susan Sanderson, executive director of Realistic Recovery Society, was happy to host the ministers’ Friday announcement at one of its houses. She wants to believe Darcy that these are just first steps since the per-diem rate is still short of the $40 she and others lobbied for and remains a small fraction of what people who aren’t on welfare are charged — charges that can run up to $350 a day.

Having taken these long overdue and much-needed initial steps, maybe Darcy and her colleagues can take another logical next step to support working people getting access recovery who — without access to employee benefit plans — can’t afford the cost of treatment.

They shouldn’t have to wait until they’re destitute to get care, any more than someone on welfare should be deprived of help.




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The herbicide glyphosate persists in wild, edible plants: B.C. study

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Lisa Wood, a forester and assistant professor at the University of Northern B.C., is the author of a study on the impact of aerial spraying of the herbicide glyphosate in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research.

Lisa Wood, a forester and assistant professor at the University of Northern B.C., is the author of a study on the impact of aerial spraying of the herbicide glyphosate in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research.


Edible and medicinal forest plants that survive aerial spraying of glyphosate can retain the herbicide and related residues for at least a year, a new study has found.

“The highest and most consistent levels of glyphosate and AMPA (aminomethylphosphonic acid) were found in herbaceous perennial root tissues, but shoot tissues and fruit were also shown to contain glyphosate in select species,” according the study published in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research.

Herbicides containing glyphosate are used by forest companies to kill aspen and other broadleaf plants in areas that have been logged and replanted with trees of commercial value such as Douglas fir and pine, according to the Ministry of Forests.

When herbicides are sprayed by plane, the spray can deliver non-lethal doses of glyphosate to nearby “non-target plants,” some of which may store the compound indefinitely or break it down very slowly, said author Lisa Wood, a registered professional forester and assistant professor of forest ecology at the University of Northern B.C.

Wood found unexpected levels of glyphosate in new shoots and berries of plants that survived an aerial herbicide application made one year earlier.

These findings raise concerns about forage plants used extensively by First Nations in northern B.C. where most spraying occurs, she said.

The 10 species tested were selected for their importance as traditional-use plants, because some First Nations had expressed concerns about the long-term effects of glyphosate on wild plants, said Wood.

Glyphosate is typically broken down in soil by microorganisms over a period of months, but how long it persists in living plant tissues is unknown, she said.

This image was taken May 31, 2014, about a year after the area near Baldy Hughes was sprayed with glyphosate, according to Stop the Spray BC.

James Steidle /


“If a plant dies from an application it falls to the soil and there are microbes that gobble up the glyphosate,” she said. “When they don’t die, they have interesting ways of coping, often by storing and isolating the glyphosate.”

Forest companies are obligated by provincial legislation to manage regenerating forests until the replanted trees are free-growing, which may require selective tree and brush removal and use of herbicides to delay the growth of deciduous plants and tree species that crowd or shade timber stock species.

Chemical treatments are generally less expensive than manual control methods because fewer treatments are required, the ministry said.

About 17,000 hectares of forest land are sprayed each year, around 10 to 12 per cent of the area replanted each year. The total has been trending down since 2016 when the ministry relaxed brush control requirements in the Cariboo-Chilcotin.

Improved, fast-growing seedlings have also reduced the need for spraying.

The B.C. Wildlife Federation is poised to call for tighter controls on the use of glyphosate in forestry, citing in a draft resolution its negative impact on food and habitat for wildlife and the “growing body of evidence that suggests glyphosates are carcinogenic.”

Provincial regulations encourage chemical treatment by forest companies that want to avoid the expense of replanting cutblocks when timber species don’t thrive, said federation spokesman Jesse Zeman.

“Government guidance governing the use of glyphosate is an outcome of archaic legislation that puts merchantable timber first and all other values, including wildlife second,” he said.



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Into the Wild: Renfrew Ravine premieres new walkways and staircases

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The Renfrew Ravine, a little bit of wilderness in the City of Vancouver, just got a lot more accessible.

The Vancouver Park Board and the Still Moon Arts Society have collaborated to add staircases, bridges and walkways to the East Vancouver nature spot.

The upgrade’s grand opening was Tuesday.

“It’s really amazing that it’s here. It’s just so spectacular,” said Carmen Rosen, artistic director of the Still Moon Arts Society, speaking to On the Coast‘s Margaret Gallagher.


Both Renfrew Community Park and Renfrew Ravine Park have been redeveloped in order to give residents easier access to the ravine’s habitat and Still Creek, according to the project’s master plan.

Renfrew Ravine is part of the Still Creek watershed. There are seven blocks of wild ravine near the 29th Avenue Skytrain station, says Rosen. The creek goes underground at 22nd Avenue and emerges at the Renfrew Community Park.

Carmen Rosen of the Still Moon Arts Society, left, and Alexandre Man-Bourdon of the Vancouver Park Board, right, were part of a collaboration to add staircases, bridges and walkways to the Renfrew Ravine. They are pictured here in the ravine prior to its grand opening. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC )

“We didn’t want to have too much of an impact on this ecosystem. So we built an elevated boardwalk to ensure that the water has the ability to move underneath the boardwalk,” Vancouver Park Board landscape architect and project lead Alexandre Man-Bourdon told Gallagher.

The upgrades include staircases with improved access to trails, an accessible walkway into the trail system from the parking lot on Renfrew Street, bridges across Still Creek and enhanced trails.

“[You can go] down quite deep into the ravine,” said Man-Bourdon. “From down [there], when you look around, you can’t see the houses around you. And except for a few passing cars and the rain, you really can’t hear anything except the water.”

One of the Renfrew Ravine’s new walkways. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC )

Renfrew Ravine, which is much more wild than the community park, was logged in the late 1800s, making it a second-growth forest, according to Rosen. But visitors can still see old-growth tree stumps.

“Renfrew Ravine really gives you a flavour of what the city was like hundreds of years ago,” said Rosen.

Man-Bourdon says that the park board strives to provide the city with accessible ways to explore nature.

“In the eastside of Vancouver, there are only a few locations where you get this kind of wild nature access. This is really a gem,” said Man-Bourdon.

Listen to the full story:

The Renfrew Ravine is a little bit of wilderness in the city of Vancouver. And it just got a lot more accessible. The Vancouver Park Board and the Still Moon Arts Society collaborated to add staircases, bridges and walkways to the eastside gully. 7:06

With files from On the Coast and Margaret Gallagher.

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