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Writer-s-Bloc

Lemon or lemonade?

By Peter Enns

The Stats Canada number can be discouraging: 13.7 per cent of Canadians have a physical or mental disability that interferes with their daily activities.

However, the expression says, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I would like to honour one Kelowna resident who made lemonade out of his lemons.

His name is Mike Haines and he has cerebral palsy. His speech is hard to understand and he is confined to a wheelchair.

However, he is one friendly, happy dude. He likes to go to the mall and strike up conversations with strangers. He told me he likes himself.

When he moved to Kelowna with his parents in 1981, he decided he was not going to be dependent upon government handouts. So, after the Lions Club gave him a three-wheel bike, he decided to start a courier business.

He began delivering documents from one downtown business to another for $3/envelope. He was downtown 8-10 hours a day, 7 days a week.

One day, a stereo shop asked if he would put their advertising sign on his bike. He began charging $30 a month to advertise on his bike.

After his bike wore out, he got an electric scooter. This allowed him to have more signs. At any one time, he had 35-40 signs making money for him.

Mike and his signs were a fixture in downtown Kelowna for 25 years. (As a point of interest, one of his YouTube videos can be found by going to bit.ly/KelownaFixture.)

One of Mike’s passions is getting the public to treat people with disabilities better. He has given a number of talks to various restaurant staff, teaching them how to treat customers with disabilities.

One restaurant manager said that Mike brought some of the staff members to tears.

A year or two ago, he began creating an ebook about how to treat customers with disabilities. Earlier this year, he teamed up with a writer and a nurse to finish the ebook. It took  three months, but it was worth it.

The book, How to Serve Customers with Disabilities, is an amazing teaching manual that some local businesses are beginning to buy.

Today Mike is still an entrepreneur. This time, he is selling his ebook.

To see a three-minute YouTube video of Mike’s entrepreneurial history, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK591TqnNUg





A new measure of success

From success to significance: Why giving back is the new measuring stick of success

By Jody Pihl 

A growing number of successful individuals feel that giving back to society is an important part of their lives and their legacies.

According to a U.S. study, more than half of America’s “one per cent” deemed giving back an "essential" component to a life well lived. 

This suggests that the wealthy are not only driven by a desire to succeed, but also recognizing that what makes their lives most fulfilling is not wealth, but what purpose and positive social impact they can do with it. 

There is a growing acceptance that a bigger home, more money in the bank or a more expensive car is not correlated with more happiness. 

There is a growing recognition that giving back benefits the donor (and his family) in unexpected ways, by offering authentic and meaningful payoffs that traditional displays of wealth can’t offer.

Philanthropy and the impact that follows also afford successful retirees starting the next phase of life new and deeply meaningful purpose. This shift from building wealth to “changing the world” has been coined, “moving from success to significance."

This offer donors a new challenge, renewed purpose and the opportunity to make use of their valuable skills and connections. However, perhaps most profound is the unique opportunity it affords to leave an ongoing legacy long after they are gone. 

Many of us have heard about the “death bed test” – where you imagine facing the end of your life in a hospital bed, reviewing your life and reflecting on the big questions. 

The idea is that in that moment you ask yourself what you are really glad you did during your life and what you regret not doing — including your relationships, how you spent your time and how you contributed to the world. 

This idea is to use the answers to these questions as a guide and filter for decision making today, when faced with a choice in your life.

This popular test is used all the time by many people. But few people are aware of the new “beach chair test."  The idea is this: consider a retired executive sitting on the beach at a resort, striking up a conversation with a similarly positioned guest in the chair beside her. 

What isn’t apparent is that both are a little restless and directionless, having slowed down their pace of life and lacking the influence, relevance and purpose they held in the past. 

They both amassed significant wealth, but they are now questioning whether they will really leave a lasting impact on the world. They are wise enough to know that buying more stuff won’t contribute to their legacy or bring them any more happiness. 

They are tired of talking about their past accomplishments as their past contributions fade in significance as business and industries grow and change under new leadership.

What if this woman were able to share something new with her neighbour: her passion for the environment and our oceans and the success she has had raising funds to fight the battle against plastics.  

Better yet, what if the second woman then responded by sharing her passion for helping developing countries educate their young girls and details about her family foundation that allows her, her kids and grandkids to work together now, and after she is gone, to continue to drive change.

This scenario presents the opportunity for these women to use their lifetime of skills to create change they are passionate about, to leave a legacy of positive impact, and creating joy and purpose for themselves.

This is what it means to move from success to significance.

In my practice as an estate lawyer, I see additional benefits of philanthropy, including confronting client concerns about the next generation inheriting significant wealth and fears that this will feed a sense of entitlement in their children and grandchildren. 

Many of my clients share some type of concern about instilling in their families gratitude for their family’s opportunities and good fortune and the importance of giving back to those less privileged.

Family based philanthropy, where the family works together in their efforts to give back, not only curbs this sense of entitlement, but offers families an opportunity to build a positive and healthy family culture of gratitude and social responsibility.

I can speak from experience about the meaningful opportunities that come with philanthropy centred family travel. My family’s experience travelling to Kenya to meet the students, families and communities impacted by our donations was life changing for all of us. 

For most families, this type of experience plants the seeds of a life time of contribution by next generations to help build a better world and also promises families the building of strong family connections and healthier and happier families.

I’m no longer surprised when I hear clients almost sheepishly confide that their family may have benefited more from their philanthropy than the charities they support. 

If you are inclined to make a charitable donation in your estate plan, it is always smart to discuss your intentions with your trusted advisers. 

Ask your financial adviser to assist you to include charitable giving as part of your financial plan. Then work with your estate lawyer to ensure your wishes are fully thought-out and appropriately documented.

Jody Pihl is senior counsel at Pihl Law Corporation and offers clients a full range of legal services in the area of wills and estates. Her relaxed and considerate approach helps her understand each client’s unique circumstance and specific planning needs and helps families navigate the complexities of the probate process. For more information, contact Jody at 250-762-5434, [email protected], or find her online at www.pihl.ca.



Another piece of the puzzle

Adding Another Piece to the Puzzle in the White Lake Basin

By Judie Steeves

Yellow monkey flowers scattered along the pathway through tall grass tell a tale of the dampness hidden at root level and rustling aspen leaves whisper the invisible location of a creek meandering through this grassland.

Clumps of grey sagebrush are accents on the grassy hillsides that rise on both sides, but they’re also dotted with stately red-trunked ponderosa pines — both releasing distinctive aromas evocative of the hot, dry climate that is typical of the South Okanagan’s desert ecosystem.

This diversity on the 32-hectare Park Rill Creek property is what makes this land critical to so many, often-endangered creatures and their habitat.

These range from the Half-moon Hairstreak butterfly to the Blotched Tiger Salamander, the Brewer’s Sparrow to the Badger.

Park Rill Creek is an infill property within the White Lake Basin Biodiversity Ranch, which is managed by The Nature Trust of B.C. with the Clifton family.

“We are integrating livestock management with endangered species protection and habitat conservation,” said Dr. Jasper Lament, CEO of The Nature Trust of B.C.

Acquisition of this unusual property by The Nature Trust of B.C. would add another piece to the puzzle which, when complete, will show a picture of a very diverse and representative cross-section of Okanagan natural ecosystems.

This property will connect to other protected areas, expanding conservation in the South Okanagan.

The White Lake Biodiversity Ranch is one of the largest intact grasslands in the region. East of it is B.C. Parks’ White Lake Grasslands Protected Area, which links with the Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area of the Canadian Wildlife Service and more Nature Trust holdings on the west side of Vaseux Lake.

Lament notes that the Park Rill Creek property includes riparian floodplain, wetlands, ponderosa pine, rocky outcrops, sagebrush steppe, broadleaf woodlands and grassland, all of which have been protected to a large extent by the family who has been managing the land until now.

Bryn White is manager of the South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program. She notes this is a hot spot for species at risk and includes three of four bio-geoclimatic zones that are of concern in this province — Bunchgrass, Ponderosa pine and Interior Douglas fir — while 30 per cent of B.C.’s listed species at risk are here.

Penticton Indian Band knowledge-keeper Richard Armstrong calls the basin “a breadbasket for us. We still dig roots and pick berries, even though we are not so much dependent on them for our food.”

His people are part of the health of the land, as are caretakers such as The Nature Trust, he adds.

Adjacent to this property, efforts are underway by the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society to re-introduce captive-bred Burrowing Owls by digging the burrows they would normally inhabit to raise their young and then releasing a pair of owls there to nest.

Acquisition of the Park Rill Creek land would conserve important sites for the owls to hunt.

Park Rill Creek is the newest property in the Okanagan which The Nature Trust is working to acquire and it’s necessary to raise $1.15 million by Sept. 30 this year for that dream to come true.

“We need a lot of partners to achieve our goal,” Jasper adds.

The South Okanagan Conservation Fund is overseen by the Regional District of the South Okanagan and provides grants for conservation.

The Nature Trust’s Park Rill Creek received one of the first grants to be awarded from this program in the amount of $200,000. And local naturalists from the South Okanagan stepped up with a donation of $1,150.

If you would like to help conserve this important property or to learn more about The Nature Trust of B.C., go to the website at: www.naturetrust.bc.ca



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B.C.'s enviro hypocrisy

By Danielle Smith 

All right, British Columbians. I have had it up to my eyeballs with your wilful blindness to environmental issues in your own province.

So, as of now, I am a charter member of the Facebook Page Save BC’s Environment — the purpose of which is to highlight the many real and pressing environmental issues that your political leaders refuse to take action on.

Let’s start with Thursday’s investigative report from Star Metro, which found that British Columbia is the nation’s worst offender when it comes to allowing untreated sewage into enter Canadian rivers and oceans.

Of the 120 million cubic metres per year in Canada as a whole, British Columbia is responsible for nearly one-third of the problem. That’s right. That’s 45 billion litres of sewage filled with toxins, heavy metals, micro-plastics, pharmaceuticals, bacteria and pathogens being dumped into clean water. That’s about 1,900 tankers worth.

It doesn’t include the deliberate dumping of raw sewage by places such as Victoria. This is because of co-mingled storm sewer and sewer systems getting overwhelmed because of too much rain and runoff.

In Calgary, the equivalent measure is zero. That’s because Calgary made the decision to separate its two systems back in the 1960s.

This is something British Columbia doesn’t intend to complete until 2050. And what are the consequences of failing to treat raw sewage?

  • Mussels get contaminated with pharmaceuticals.
  • Residents get sick from eating contaminated oysters. 
  • Cholera starts turning up in coastal communities.

But untreated sewage may be the least of B.C.’s environmental problems.

B.C. has created an international incident with its embarrassing handling of mine management and cleanup. Alaskans have asked their government to deal with the Tulsequah Chief Mine in northwest B.C., which is leaking acid waste into one of the richest salmon runs in the region — and has been for 60 years.

Or how about the ongoing problems from the Mount Polley mining disaster? That’s where the mine’s tailings dam broke and spewed 24 million cubic metres of mining waste into adjacent lakes and rivers.

And who will clean up the toxic mess left behind in B.C.’s 1,800 abandoned mines?

What about current polluters?The top 10 polluters in B.C. are spewing out nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter; all of which can impact human health and aggravate respiratory conditions.

The Prince George Pulp and Paper and Intercontinental Pulp Mills are the biggest polluters of water with sulfur and manganese. Teck Metals Ltd. emits lead, selenium and arsenic.

That’s not all. How many of those regions with 1,000-year-old trees targeted for clear cutting will ever be effectively reclaimed?

British Columbians: should ask all those foreign-paid environmental activists why they are spending all their time focusing on the minuscule risk of a tanker spill when they have all these other issues they could be rallying support to address.

Perhaps it’s because the opposition to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion isn’t really about protecting the environment at all.

Update: and for those who say that all this is irrelevant because the real issue is climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, well, you have your own problems there too. 

B.C. is the single largest exporter of coal in North America. The volume of exported coal is so huge, it will ultimately produce an estimated 99.8 million tonnes of CO2.

That’s 150 per cent more than B.C.’s entire annual carbon footprint.

Danille Smith is a former Alberta politician and current talk show host in Calgary.



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About the Author

Welcome to Writer’s Bloc, an opinion column for guest writers to share their experiences and viewpoints with our readers.

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Drop a line. [email protected]

Opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of Castanet. They are not news stories reported by our staff.



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