Youth ‘Keep the Beat’ for charity: [Final Edition]

By Sarah Ripplinger, Nelson Daily News
31 July 2007: 1 / FRONT

Student organizers do their part to help war-ravaged children overseas by hosting event featuring local artists

A group of young human rights activists from L.V. Rogers will be putting on a 10-hour-long, show-stopping concert in Nelson’s Lakeside Park to support humanitarian assistance in war torn countries this Wednesday, August 1, from noon to 10 p.m.

All funds raised from the charitable event will go towards War Child Canada, an international aid agency founded in 1999 that provides assistance to children suffering from the effects of war. Keep the Beat concerts are youth-run, youth-driven initiatives that raise funds and awareness to support War Child Canada projects.

Zoey Ockenden, 17, and Laura Metcalfe, 17, along with 15 other key female student leaders first organized a Keep the Beat concert last year, raising approximately $6,000 that went directly to War Child Canada.

Ockenden said she and some friends first heard about the organization at a Red Cross youth symposium on global issues held in Vancouver.

“That kind of opened our eyes to everything and we heard about War Child and the Keep the Beat campaign while we were there and we just kind of decided we wanted to do something.”

The group of youths started up a War Child branch at their school and now have 15 female members that meet once a week throughout the school year and more often in the summer to organize fundraising events.

The success of last year’s concert has Ockenden pumped about this year’s venue and the possibility of increasing the visibility and charitable clout of the annual musical event.

“I think maybe it will be even bigger this year,” she said. “All the musicians are donating their time and everyone involved is donating their time, and so it’s a good chance for the community to come and support that and donate money to support it and have fun.”

The concert features DJ Adham Shaikh – who plays world, fusion and tribal/trance dance music – and What It Is – a 10-piece-band made up of local musicians (and four horns), playing rhythm and blues/funk music.

“We just want to be part of the excitement and be part of the contributing force, make everyone feel like they’re a part of the event and just make a party, you know, that’s our job,” said What It Is bass guitarist, Mark Spielman.

“I think every musician in town wants to do a gig in the summer in the park, because most of the time events start after 10 p.m. This is the one time that my kids can be there and just a whole different group of people can see us when we play outdoors in the park.”

Ockenden will also be performing her unique, folksy piano and vocals with harmony from Metcalfe.

“The young people are really doing all the work,” said Gary Ockenden, adult sponsor and helper of Keep the Beat. “I think that these young women are really motivated to make change in the world and their first motivation was to do something for War Child Canada.”

The funds needed to cover concert expenses came mainly from a grant from the Columbia Basin Trust and two house concerts, Ockenden said.

“So none of the donations from people at the event [on Wednesday] actually go to paying for [concert costs]; it all goes to War Child.”

There will be a silent auction to raise funds for the charity, a War Child and local Amnesty International information booths, CDs and T-shirts sales and a group mural that everyone can participate in.

The Keep the Beat concert will run from noon to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, August 1. For more information about Keep the Beat and War Child Canada visit online.

Photo: Sarah Ripplinger / Zoey Ockenden (left) and Laura Metcalfe (right) are two of the young women responsible for putting together the Wednesday concert. Mark Spielman (middle) bass guitarist for What It Is is one of the acts.

Citizen group threatens legal action: [Final Edition]

By Sarah Ripplinger, Nelson Daily News
09 Aug 2007: 1 / FRONT

“We have to reassert our empowerment as citizens,” said Daryl Secret to a crowd of over 50 people at the Nelson Citizens Empowerment Society meeting in the downstairs of the Nelson Library that began at 7:00 p.m. Thursday evening.

The NCES is threatening legal action against the City of Nelson saying council did not follow proper procedures before approving of the five-story Kutenai Landing Development project scheduled to be built on waterfront property in Nelson.

Secret, who is Chair of the NCES, said he feels council did not listened to the voices of the community before making its decision to pass the third reading of the proposed project.

He and three other presenters at the public meeting said they want to see more transparency and accountability from municipal government representatives to members of the public.

The fourth and final reading of the Kutenai Landing project has yet to be heard in council, but Nelson mayor John Dooley says there’s little reason to believe that council will change their minds after making a four-to-two decision in favour of adopting the rezoning application.

“I’m very confident that we’ve done due diligence to this project, I’m confident in the decisions made by council and I’m confident that it will move forward,” he said.

Dooley said council’s deliberations so far on the Kutenai Landing project have been “very open and straight forward” and included two public meetings headed by council and two more with the developer.

“I’ve been on council now for eight and a half years and this is the most public participation and open process that I have seen on any project while I’ve been on council,” he said.

NCES representatives say they are gathering signatures from citizens opposed to the development project and will be presenting a petition to council.

David Aaron, attorney for NCES, said they will consider legal actions if necessary after reviewing documentation from the Kutenai Landing proceedings.

He says that if they determine that council’s decision goes against the aims of Nelson’s Official Community Plan, they will have reason to proceed with court action.

“One of the most important laws that are relevant to this situation is in the local government act says that a municipal council cannot enact any bylaws or undertake in any project that is inconsistent with the vision of the people,” he said. That vision should be one that is voiced and determined by members of the public. If not, he says, council is overstepping its bounds.

Calculating the costs

Mayor John Dooley said Nelson City Council has received several Freedom of Information requests for documents pertaining to the Kutenai Landing project proceedings from legal representatives for the NCES. Requests, he says, that could be costly to taxpayers.

“I think it’s unfortunate because it’s going to cost the tax payers and the community money to come up with the information that they’re requesting; and they have a lawyer in place now, which means we’ll have to do the same,” he said.

“It’s all a cost to the taxpayer and I don’t believe there’s any real reason for it.”

Andre Carrel, Director of NCES, says that costs born by the organization to request information and start legal proceedings against Nelson City Council are too high.

“It’s $1,300 just to get copies of documents to see whether your rights have been infringed,” he said.

The group will have to raise money from the community to proceed with the case, a price, Carrel says, that will not be easy to pay.

Linda Tynan, director of corporate services with the City of Nelson, said that the $1,300 fee is an estimate for the time and labour it will take to compile the documents requested by the NCES. The citizen’s group has requested copies of almost all of the official documents pertaining to the Kutenai Landing Development, she said.

The charges follow provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act guidelines that stipulate how much the city can charge for information requests, Tynan said.

“Under the act itself, there’s no cost in making the request. The costs that are involved are staff time to prepare the records for disclosure, so that’s based at $30/hour and then the photocopying is $0.25 a page.”

The fees reduce the burden on tax payers who would otherwise have to bear the costs necessary to complete the request, she said.

Considering the large volume of documents and the nature of the request, Tynan said, the cost is not high. In fact, she adds, tax payers will still have to pay the difference for staff wages, above and beyond the $30/hour wage fee born by the NCES, for the approximate 30 hours it could take to gather the requested information.

“Most of the people will be making more than $30/hour,” she said, which would mean a significant portion of the cost needed to complete the request could be born by taxpayers.

“A request like this needs to be taken very seriously,” she said. “It’s expensive for the city and it is a right of individuals to ask for it.”

Trailer explodes on ferry: [Final Edition]

By Sarah Ripplinger, Nelson Daily News
24 July 2007: 1 / FRONT

‘IT COULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH WORSE’: Massive blast rocks MV Osprey as it docks at Balfour on Sunday night; minor injuries suffered but emergency workers amazed that nobody was killed.

Four people were injured and several shaken up after a huge explosion on the MV Osprey ferry Sunday night.

The explosion – which is believed to be triggered by a propane tank in the back of a U-Haul trailer – spewed shards of glass, refrigerator pieces and food across the deck of the vessel. The incident occurred as the Kootenay Lake ferry was unloading vehicles and passengers onto the dock at Balfour.

“It was a U-Haul that exploded off the ramp and there was food everywhere… there was buns everywhere, the appliances were all exploded, there were little kids with blood all over them,” said eyewitness Pamela Bublitz.

The source of the blast was a U-Haul trailer, pulled by a white Chevy truck, containing cooking supplies that were being sold by a vendor at a nearby festival in Crawford Bay. Witnesses on board the ferry reported smelling gas, which may have been the cause of the explosion that flattened the trailer and caused severe damage to nearby cars.

“I heard this huge bang. I thought that we hit against the dock or something and… I saw a big hunk of metal flying,” said Peter Moll who was a few cars back when he heard the explosion. “To my understanding, it was propane had been leaking and it was just going onto the on ramp… and something must have set it off, like a spark… when it blew.”

Moll and Bublitz said many passengers on board believed that ferry workers had not properly checked cars for propane and other dangerous items.

Terry Walton, senior managing engineer with Western Pacific Marine Ltd. said a staff member had checked the vehicle at Kootenay Bay terminal before he was allowed on board.

“He asked the owner of the vehicle if he had any fuel on board,” Walton said, to which the driver responded that “he had no fuel, but that he did have two propane bottles that were turned off,” the maximum permitted by Transport Canada.

“The common practice is that [workers] speak with the owner/ operator of the vehicle and inform them of the regulation and that [propane tanks] must be secured and shut off and that the owner shuts the propane off,” he said.

Walton said the exact cause and nature of the blast is still under investigation by the Nelson RCMP.

“The common theory seems to be there was a leak [in the propane tanks]… that something wasn’t properly turned off and there was a leak into the trailer and then something ignited it, whether it was just a chain on the deck or whatever, as [the driver] was offloading.”

Bublitz, who is a nurse at the Trail hospital, said after seeing “flames or… a big flash” she immediately ran to the detonation site to assist any injured people.

She and two other health workers assisted two young girls suffering from minor injuries until ambulance and fire crews arrived.

One little girl sustained cuts and bruises to the head and scalp and suffered from shock, she said.

“The one little girl was covered in blood and I think the other little girl was covered in her sister’s blood, you know, because I think the blast came from the side.”

“The back window got blown out,” Bublitz added, so “their whole car got smashed with debris.

“It was such a huge explosion.”

The blast was so strong that it managed to flatten the U-Haul trailer, sending large chunks of debris into the air that cracked windshields and caused significant damage to two of the adjacent cars, one of which contained the little girls and their parents.

“There was a piece of debris, the size of the top of a little car, [similar to] the siding on a house, a piece really thick with jagged edges [that] flew through the air almost to the back of the ferry,” Bublitz said. “It could have taken off the top of a car, it was so big.”

Two ferry workers also showed signs of injury from flying debris, she said.

“One guy got, the debris hit him in the shoulder and face and then he was kind of sore, and another other guy got kind of like a blast, like his chest hurt.”

Many passengers and onlookers also experienced ringing in their ears and temporary hearing loss.

Bublitz said she and other passengers were lucky the ferry was near shore when the incident took place and that more people weren’t injured.

“It could have been so much worse,” she said.

Ambulances from Trail, Nelson and Kaslo along with firefighters and RCMP workers arrived on the scene to assist injured passengers and remove potential hazards from the area.

“We received the call about 23:02 about an explosion,” said Chris Mason, superintendent for the B.C. Ambulance Service in charge of the West Kootenay.

Passengers on board the ferry had to leave their cars and wait until emergency workers completed an inspection of the ferry and assisted victims.

“We transported three patients to the [Kootenay Lake Hospital] with non-life threatening injuries,” Mason said.

“Based on the information about the explosion, I think we were very fortunate.”

Moll said it wasn’t until about 2:30-3 a.m. before passengers were allowed to re-board the ferry and drive home.

“The one thing that was really great was the [nearby] pub there stayed open, just let everybody in there, the bakery stayed open and some local people brought coffee out to people.”

Moll said the blast shook the home of nearby residents and that there were calls from as far away as Woodbury from residents reporting hearing an explosion.

Photo: Peter Moll, Nelson Daily News / Glass was blown out of the windows of several vehicles that were parked near the U-Haul that exploded on the MV Osprey. ; Colour Photo: Peter Moll, Nelson Daily News / Debris from the U-Haul trailer was scattered across the deck of the MV Osprey after a huge explosion rocked the Kootenay Lake ferry Sunday night. Nobody was killed and the most serious injuries were sustained by two little children who were in the backseat of the Subaru wagon (top with bikes on roof). The investigation into the incident is continuing (2 photos).

City to control pesticide use: [Final Edition]

By Sarah Ripplinger, Nelson Daily News
23 July 2007: 1 / FRONT

Nelson could be the first community in the East and West Kootenay to pass a pesticide bylaw that limits pesticide use in the city to permit holders only says Patti Moore, community action co-ordinator with the Canadian Cancer Society.

“Once it’s adopted, Nelson will be the first in the Kootenay region with a bylaw, which is huge,” said Moore, who is also a member of the Kootenay Citizens for Alternatives to Pesticides, a non-profit organization that advocates for a ban on pesticide use.

“I think it’s really setting a good example for other communities and I think Nelson’s a bit of a role model.”

Mayor John Dooley said he was proud of the steps councillors have taken so far towards possibly passing a pesticide bylaw for the City of Nelson.

“The council showed clear leadership of bringing Nelson to the forefront and being one of the first communities in the province of British Columbia to establish a bylaw like this,” he said.

The City of Nelson pesticide bylaw would enforce a permit process for those who wish to apply pesticides to their lawns. Residents would first need to fill out an application form at City Hall and pay a $20 fee to legally apply pesticides to their properties.


Moore said members of the health community are particularly concerned about the use of pesticides because many of the chemicals found in pesticides are listed by the Canadian Cancer Society as potential carcinogens.

“We’ve taken the position calling for a ban on the cosmetic or non-essential use of cosmetic pesticides and the reason is we are very concerned about the use of potentially cancer-causing substances for the purpose of enhancing the appearance of, for example, gardens, lawns, parks, recreational facilities and golf courses,” she said.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has published numerous reports linking pesticides to forms of cancer, which worries Moore that not enough is being done soon enough to curb the potentially harmful effects of pesticide use.

“[Pesticides are] linked to childhood and adult cancers including leukaemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, brain cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer and pancreatic cancer, and that’s only speaking to cancers, you know, there’s certainly other health risks and environmental issues as well,” she said.


At least seven municipalities in British Columbia have already passed pesticide bylaws, including Maple Ridge, Gibsons, West Vancouver, Port Moody, Cumberland, Comox and Vancouver.

Fernie city councillors are currently reviewing recommendations put forward by their Integrated Pest Management Task Force on how best to move forward with placing restrictions on pesticide use in their city.

“A broad and diverse group of stakeholders of the community put in more than two years of research from experts on the subject and have achieved consensus on a recommended course of action to address the use of pesticides in our community,” said Allan Chabot, chief administrative officer with the City of Fernie. “I think a pesticide bylaw is important potentially for human health and for the health of the natural environment.”

The task force is recommending that council pass a bylaw to regulate the use of pesticides. This would include a three-step process to encourage homeowners and private-land-holders to reduce the use of pesticides on private lands and would set restrictions on the amount of pesticides that can be applied.

Education would be the first step of the pesticide reduction program, followed by a voluntary pesticide registration program implemented at retail stores to track how many customers are purchasing pesticides and how much they are buying. The third step would involve enforcing a buffer zone for pesticide free areas.

Chabot said that although city councillors are looking at potentially banning pesticide use in the city sometime in the future, there are still many hurdles that will need to be overcome before a complete ban can be properly enforced.

“It’s pretty hard to regulate people going and purchasing products such as Weed’N Feed [which contains pesticides] out of town and bringing them in the trunk of their car and using them,” Chabot said.

Fernie council will be reviewing recommendations by the Integrated Pest Management Task Force in the fall.

Nelson council will bring up the pesticide bylaw for adoption July 23 following the Committee of the Whole meeting at City Hall that will begin between 6:30-7 p.m.