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Writer-s-Bloc

Let's re-imagine our parks

By Adam Wilson

Kelowna’s new Official Community Plan drives home the point of increasing the supply of townhomes and condos, which for the most part don’t have backyards.

Coupled with the pushes from public health that we need to spend time with friends and families outside, it’s time Kelowna took a serious look at our parks.

The City has been aggressively buying lakefront properties to increase the availability of waterfront parks such as the new Pandosy Waterfront Park.

These endeavours are costly for the City, but with the lack of waterfront access and overcrowding on our beaches, they are much needed.

Waterfront parks provide people with countless possibilities to enjoy the space, from swimming to paddle boarding to building sand castles to tanning and more.

However, during Kelowna’s typical tourist-heavy summers, if you’re like me, the overcrowded waterfront parks aren’t exactly where you want to spend all your time.

Kelowna also has plenty of city-owned green space off the lakeshore area, but these parks effectively come in two different shapes.

There are parks dominated by some sort of sports field - typically a soccer field, baseball diamond or tennis court — while the other kind features open grassed area and a playground. Both are important in any vibrant community, but they don’t exactly serve as an outdoor destination in the same way that a beach park does.

If you walk by our downtown waterfront parks any warm weekend, you’ll see them crowded with people doing all sorts of activities. Our neighbourhood parks on the other hand are not as busy with some people playing soccer, picnicking or just spending time together.

Sometimes they’re just empty.

It’s easy to understand why a waterfront park with a view of the lake in downtown Kelowna is popular, but it’s possible to make neighbourhood parks just as desirable for the local neighbourhood.

Trinity Bellwoods in Toronto, Gorky Park in Moscow and Hyde Park in London are three examples of extremely popular parks that are not located along the waterfront of their respective cities.

With Stuart Park, the City tried something new with a park and it was successful, albeit better in the winter than in the summer, with the outdoor skating rink providing an urban getaway Kelowna is not used to.

But what if we could apply the same principles to our parks beyond the waterfront, and make them a destination within their own neighbourhoods, so people nearby can walk to a unique park, rather than drive downtown.

Toronto’s newest park that caught wide-ranging attention is Love Park, which features a heart-shaped water feature, small rolling hills, space for pop-up markets, an off-leash dog park, tree-lined sidewalks and ample seating - all within two acres.

Not every park needs to be as over-the-top as Love Park, but with the growth of condos in Kelowna, we will see a demand for these spaces.

Even if we don’t consider the growth of condos, it would be nice to live in Glenmore or Rutland and have access to a park that gives you something more than a field without needing to hop in your car and drive downtown.

We need our waterfront parks, sports fields, and playgrounds, but what if we added bocce courts, performance spaces, splash pads, seating areas or space for markets in our neighbourhood parks?

Adam Wilson is the former director of communications and issues manager to Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. He has a Master of Urban Planning, and is from and currently resides in Kelowna.



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Volunteering is for everyone

By Dorothee Birker

When someone has volunteered 76 of their 85 years, you can believe that they value the opportunities it gives them.

For Irene Draper, starting at a new school in a new town left her feeling lonely and disconnected from her community.

“I never forgot the horrible feeling of being an outsider in a world that was unfamiliar to me,” Irene said. “That experience became a part of who I am.”

Irene, 85, continues to volunteer, helping at her church, Mission Creek Alliance, and at the Kelowna General Hospital and with those who are new to the area, including international students and newcomers settling in Kelowna.

For Irene, volunteering is simply fun and a way to keep her motivated and getting out into the world.

Irene is one of 20 volunteer ambassadors helping KCR Community Resources to share the message that volunteering is not only a benefit to the community, but also to the individual who is sharing their time.

All the ambassadors are 55 and older, have lived full lives and now share their skills, knowledge, passion and community spirit with a variety of community non-profit organizations.

As part of National Volunteer Week (April 18-24), KCR launched our Volunteer55 Program to highlight these great volunteers and the opportunities that exist for the many other seniors in our region who have so much to share with our community.

Cleo Ruffle is another ambassador who was born in Trinidad, pursued nursing in the UK and immigrated to Canada in 1984, finally moving to the Okanagan in 1990.

"Volunteering is very important to me, it is a way for me to give back to my community,” she said. “It's motivating and rewarding to know I make a difference in someone's lonely life.

“My passion has always been helping others.”

As a volunteer at Lake Country Health and Lake Country Seniors Housing Society, Cleo is making a difference, especially during these isolating times during the pandemic.

Cleo’s best advice is “There are many ways to volunteer, choose one that is suitable for you, one which brings joy to your heart and fills a void for someone else."

As with Cleo, many volunteers are often serial volunteers – making a difference at several organizations at the same time.

Dwight Foster, who has been volunteering for more than 25 years, moved to the Okanagan six years ago and has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, The Boys and Girls Club and the United Way.

He is also a volunteer at KCR helping with the resettlement of newcomers.

"Volunteering is a learning experience for you and others. You learn from the experience by being open minded and participatory. The benefits to yourself include self-awareness, boosting your well-being, and knowing that you are helping someone else."

Whether you want to light your passion, enjoy learning, or have fun, volunteering can be a great way to help you achieve your goals. Even during COVID times, there are ways to volunteer that are safe for everyone.

To find out more about volunteer opportunities, get in touch with KCR Community Resources and we can help you get started and to find the perfect opportunity.

Don’t let age get in the way — there are opportunities for those younger and older, and everyone in between. There are hands-on, safe opportunities and there are great virtual or volunteer-from-home opportunities.

The best thing is just to get started. You can find out more at www.kcr.ca or call us at 250-763-8008.

Dorothee Birker is the communications and development co-ordinator for KCR Community Resources, a multi-service agency offering projects and programs in four areas: community services, employment services, immigrant services, and family and adoption Services. KCR is also home to the Volunteer Centre of the Central Okanagan. Dorothee can be reached at 250-860-4911 or [email protected].



Planning for the future

By Lee Davidson

Death is never easy to discuss, and often funeral arrangements are left until there is no way to avoid dealing with them.

This can be stressful and can pull attention away from the grieving process for family and loved ones. A better alternative is to make pre-arrangement plans and have these plans in place with a funeral home, so your loved ones don’t have to make them.

What is a pre-arrangement plan?

A pre-arrangement plan is you taking the time to put your wishes in place and make payments on your funeral arrangements. Pre-arranging your funeral will make certain that your choices are respected and carried out, without leaving your family to wonder what your wishes might have been.

An advanced planning director will help you prepare a plan to outline for your loved ones what type of ceremony you would like, where you would like to be in-urned and even important details such as the music you want played or poem you might wish to be read at your service.

There are numerous decisions to make and the more you have in writing ahead of time will make the process much easier for your loved ones at the time of passing.

Do I need a funeral?

Whether you are planning for yourself or for a loved one, the funeral service is one of the most important elements of a person’s final arrangements. With the opportunity for great personalization, the funeral service can truly reflect the uniqueness of the life it honours.

Whether you or your loved one have opted for burial or for cremation, the funeral or memorial service fills an important role. It can honour, recognize, and celebrate the life of the deceased, allow friends and family to say their last good byes, provide closure after the loss of a loved one and allow friends to console the family of the loved one.

So, what is a funeral? In general terms, it is a gathering of family and friends after the death of a loved one that allows them the opportunity to mourn, support each other and pay tribute to the life of the deceased.

It often consists of one or more of the following components:

  • Burial plans,
  • Funeral service,
  • Visitation or viewing,
  • Memorial or tribute service
  • Graveside service
  • Scattering options.

There is no one, right way to plan a funeral service; we believe that each funeral should be as unique and memorable as the life it honours.

When should I make pre-arrangements?

As the word implies, you should make these arrangements in advance of passing. This is referred to as
“pre-need.” There is no age limit, so the sooner you begin to put a plan in place the better.

Even if a passing is imminent, it is recommended to speak with an advance planning director to begin to put plans in place. This simply helps reduce the stress involved around the time of passing.

Pre-arrangement plans are not only for the elderly, having a pre-arrangement policy in place is a prudent financial decision and a vital part of estate planning.

When you pre-arrange your funeral, you also have the added benefit of locking in today’s pricing, so the earlier you put these plans in place, the lower the eventual cost will be to your loved ones or estate.

Having a policy in place also ensures that funds are available to your family immediately after passing, which is not always the case with insurance policies or money set aside in trust.

The next step

Regardless of if you are thinking of setting up a plan for yourself or a loved one let’s have a chat. We will work together to ensure your needs are met and your wished honoured.

Lee Davidson is an advanced planning director at Providence Funeral Homes in Summerland. He can be contacted at [email protected] or 250-488-5910.



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What happened to us?

By Rob Murphy

When did Canada start settling for mediocrity?

Canada used to be a leader in the world. We built things — innovative products — were seen as important military allies.

There are monuments in Europe honouring Canadian contributions in the First and Second World Wars.

  • We invented and built the Canada Arm.
  • We discovered Insulin.
  • We invented basketball!

The list of Canadian contributions to the world could go on and on and on.

Lately, it seems we have lost that drive for excellence — we are content to be mediocre.

Why?

When I bring this up with colleagues or friends, I am told that we don’t have a large population, that we are too geographically spread out, that we are doing the best we can with what we have.

I disagree.

For example, as I write this, we are 23rd of OECD countries in COVID-19 vaccines administered
per 100 people.

Just below the middle of the pack. Behind countries such as Iceland, Estonia, Lithuania, Chile, even Italy.

If you believe federal polling, Canadians seem to be largely OK with this.

I am not.

British Columbia, where I live, the health minister was praising his governments progress on vaccinations, stating:

“We are making excellent progress with the supply we have; we are ready to receive vaccine and deliver it as quickly as possible.”

The reality is that, while there were challenges with federal shipments, the vaccine roll-out has been anything but quick.

Ask a B.C. pharmacist.

Ask a 72 year old, many of whom don’t have appointments for another month.

I’m in my mid-40s, and don’t expect a jab until at least September.

Looking to the federal picture, our procurement started late, and we have paid a price for that.

Almost all of our fellow OECD countries were signing deals for vaccines in May and June.

Canada signed its first real deal in August.

  • We were late identifying COVID as a threat.
  • We were late to restrict international travel.
  • We were late to advise Canadians to mask up.

We were late and Canadians have suffered and some have paid the ultimate price.

I could dedicate another column to our failures on long term care.

Our leaders shrug and say that we need to be OK with just being average.

  • That it isn’t their fault — it’s a federal/provincial/municipal issue.
  • That we did our best.

We didn’t do our best.

I’m not OK with being average. I don’t care about jurisdictions.

I want to see our leaders strive for excellence — to push beyond jurisdiction and obstacles.

Strive to be great, not make excuses for being average.

For example, I want to see an urgency applied to getting as many Canadians vaccinated in the shortest period of time.

Every hockey rink, church basement, gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse should be a potential vaccination site.

I want to be amazed that every time I turn around, someone is pulling their sleeve up for a needle.

The only way out of this dark tunnel is with a vaccine. We have known this for a year — so presumably we have had time to prepare.

Make it happen.

We need to feel hopeful again. We need to be proud again.

So what else can we do now?

We can demand that all of our elected leaders at every level collaborate on solutions— not just in lip service and photo ops — but to obtain tangible results.

  • Excellence on project management.
  • Excellence on our building an economy that works for everyone
  • Excellence on supporting our less fortunate
  • Excellence on protecting and sustaining our environment

We can demand excellence of ourselves too.

  • Be more vocal about the issues that matter to us.
  • Volunteer to help in our community.
  • It’s all hands on deck and Canada is counting on all of us to get involved.

Excellence does not need to be a bad word.

The world is watching — let’s put on a show.

Rob Murphy is a political staffer, and organizer who has been involved in political discussions since he could form words. He learned everything he knows about politics from his Popups and resides in West Kelowna with his wife and son.



More Writer's Bloc articles

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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.

Do you have something to say that is timely? of local interest? controversial? inspiring? foodie? entertaining? educational?

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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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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