The Premier is ghosting the Mayor and wondering about a vet school
Plus a good Spider-Man meme about air quality and fixing downtown isn't rocket science. And did you lose your goat?
The good news is the Tamarack fire yesterday doesn’t appear to have resulted in any injuries. The bad news is the number of comments I saw assuming it was drug or crime related because “it’s a street with a tree name.” There were far more offering up support and — to be clear — no cause has been released, at this point. But it bothered me that if you live on a street named after a tree and something bad happens to you, there are a sizable number of people who will assume it was your fault, somehow. Anyways, onto other things.
(The meme is at the end and I do think it’s very good)
More vets but… what about a vet school?
The other day I saw a desperate nighttime post in a Prince George Facebook group. Their cat was choking and they couldn’t figure out what to do. Were there any vets available?
The answer, as it has been for nearly a year now, is no. Last June, vets from multiple clinics in the city, held a press conference announcing they were ending overnight care. Pet owners with an emergency after 10 p.m. were told they would have to use telemedicine or seek 24-hour emergency care elsewhere — nevermind that the closest places to get that are Edmonton and Kelowna, which would take all night to get to.
And Prince George isn’t even the worst off. Other northern communities don’t have vets at all — they just have locums who travel in every week or month to check in. If you have an emergency there, you’re hooped.
Plus, vets are needed for lots of other things: They make sure livestock is safe to eat and investigate things like avian flu spreading through bird populations and into others.
In response, the province announced yesterday a permanent doubling of the number of veterinary seats it will subsidize at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon — one of just a handful of vet schools in the country, and the spot where B.C. residents tend to go to get trained:
B.C. has been funding 20 seats at the university, but [Minister] Robinson says the new money will allow for 40 students from the province to meet the growing demand for veterinarians, especially among farmers and ranchers in the Fraser Valley and northern B.C.
The college has been training B.C.'s veterinarians for five decades, and Robinson says the multi-year funding boost will give students "certainty'' while addressing the need to train and retain vets in communities essential to B.C.'s food security.
So how quickly will this help?
Well, last year the province made the same one-time announcement, funding 40 seats and this new announcement simply makes that permanent. And while last year’s news was welcomed in Prince George, it wasn’t seen as something that would help much in the short term:
[Casey] Bockus [of Prince George Veterinary Hospital] said he is glad to hear about the expansion, but it will be years before the new students will be able to help.
"I don't see this, unfortunately, being a quick fix," he said.
Bockus said he would like to see a college for veterinarians in B.C. to serve only British Columbians.
And there has been talk of that. The best report on it is in the Prince George Post, where Jack Moulton dove into the efforts to start the school, the challenges it would face and the length of time it would take for an impact to be seen — as well as other potential short-term solutions. The city also recently received a complete non-answer about a vet college from the province. I understand the Minister responsible will be on CBC Radio this morning after the newsletter comes out, and I’m sure she’ll be asked about this, so I’ll be listening!
This is amazing:
Fixing downtown “doesn’t feel like rocket science”
There’s an interesting report going to council on Monday, titled Designing a way to Evaluate Safety, Cleanliness, and Inclusion Initiatives in Prince George. It’s the result of a multi-year consultation process talking to people about their perceptions of downtown, its problems and possible solutions. Reading the presentation isn’t quite the same as watching it so I’ll wait til after it happens to talk too much about it, but a couple of things jumped out at me. One is: People are really divided on whether bylaw officers are doing much good.
Another is… people don’t get why a lot of this is so complicated. There’s a section on page 41 here where the report authors summarize some of the general comments they received and the lead heading is Overcomplicating solutions with comments like
Honestly some really simple solutions e.g. garbage cans don't have enough space, crows pulling out the trash. It doesn't feel like rocket science. We need to do more fast solutions. This process has been very useful but just give us the money and let us do the work.
We need to stop studying and get working
Related to that there is also a breakout section on bathrooms — the TOP call for service is for cleaning up biohazards (ie poop), and yet:
You see people going to the bathroom right downtown in back alleys.
Bathrooms are locked up
Lions share (pending disaggregation) is biohazards. And we know what a solution is...bathrooms.
There’s also interesting stuff in the report about using data to figure out better services — ie, better needle disposal in places where they are frequently discarded and I’ll be curious how it’s received/what action is taken as a result.
The premier is ghosting the mayor
Monday’s council meeting also includes the reveleation that premier David Eby isn’t writing back to mayor Simon Yu. As longtime readers may recall, there was a big discussion at one of council’s first meetings, over whether they should send a letter to Eby inviting him to come to Prince George to discuss the various social issues facing the city. The final decision was yes, but although Eby and Yu have had some impromptu discussions, Yu’s letters inviting Eby up for formal discussions have gone unanswered, according to this report from him to council:
No response to my letter of January 3, 2023 was received, but Premier Eby did meet with me in late January during his attendance at the Natural Resources Forum. Following this meeting I sent another letter, dated January 31, 2023, a copy of which is attached to this report, reiterating the City’s interest in hosting an in-person session with all involved Ministers and key community leaders to discuss how we could work together to address shared public safety, health, and housing priorities. No response has been received to my letter of January 31, 2023.
There’s a resolution on the table to send another letter.
Earlier this week I noted that the development of hydrogen activity in Prince George is lowkey one of the more interesting stories happening here and the province is hoping to invest some $$ in studying the industry’s potential here.
In perhaps the least surprising political development possible, John Rustad is running for leadership of the B.C. Conservative Party.
This is a fascinating feature on how logging may have reawakened ancient landslides around Quesnel, where homes, businesses and roads have been thrown into disarray.
More from the First Nations Health Authority's Northern Addictions and Engagement and Knowledge Exchange Forum: Northern B.C. First Nations say they need more resources to deal with the illicit drug crisis, NHL alum’s message in PG calls for end to suicide cycle within Indigenous communities and Art playing a key role at forum.
In the Vancouver Sun (and other PostMedia papers), Daphne Braham writes about the cost of chaos at a local government level — leading with the Prince George school board and moving onto Kamoops, Lion’s Bay and others.
Btw, if you really want to see how bad things can get.
Every year UNBC poli sci students conduct a public survey. This year’s questionnaire on homelessness received a record number of responses. Results are traditionally presented to city council later in the year.
New funding for the Prince George Humane Society and the Prince George Recycling and Environmental Action and Planning Society.
The B.C. Wildlife Federation is holding a three days outdoor skills course — hunting, fishing, photography — for women, out at Ness Lake.
Nazko First Nation Chief worried about loss of bio-diversity in nation’s ancestral fishing grounds.
Local nurse suspened for “inadequate documentation, unsafe medication and blood product administration” and more.
I don’t understand this hockey tweet but people seem to like it.
People also seem to like this commercial for Chun Chun Rice Hot Dog.
Here’s a good meme about air quality:
Northern Capital News is a free, daily newsletter about life in Prince George. Please consider subscribing or, if you have, sharing with someone else.
Send feedback by replying to this email. Find me online at akurjata.ca.