An inspiring event took place in Ashcroft last Saturday: a ceremony to unveil the “Harmony Bell” project, a monument erected on the site of Ashcroft’s Heritage Park to celebrate the coming together of the various ethnic groups that since the beginning have been the heart of the community of Ashcroft. The artwork of Marina Papais and her husband Daniel Collett—and all others who assisted them—is much to be commended. Kudos to all.
But this was not the only inspiring event that happened. As if to highlight the truth of the Harmony Project — that deep down we do care about each other — this happened:
My son Stefan and his girlfriend Mary Anne were visiting us from Seattle and joined us at the Heritage Park for the unveiling ceremony. While there, Mary Anne lost her wallet containing credit cards and a fair amount of cash, and above all her green card, without which she would have had more than a bit of trouble re-entering the U.S. We searched everywhere for the missing wallet, but it was nowhere to be found.
In the end we decided to contact the local RCMP in the hope that they might provide some sort of temporary pass for Mary Anne to get back to Seattle. On contacting the local RCMP, my wife was told to hold on for a moment. An instant later the officer came back on the phone with the news that the wallet—cash, cards, and green card included—had just been turned in. Huge relief, of course; but it was more than that. It was a confirmation that there is honesty out there, that there is goodness, that the principles underlying the Harmony Project are embedded in our nature.
Thanks to the anonymous persons who found and returned the missing wallet—and thanks Ashcroft.
This letter is an invitation for readers to think about something else that could enhance our lovely community of Ashcroft. The topic is downtown seniors’ housing: do we need it, and how can we go about getting it downtown?
There are many benefits to having housing downtown, not the least of which is the convenience of having everything within walking distance. Think about it: in five minutes you can walk from your home to purchase almost anything you may need at a variety of local businesses, do your banking, get your mail, ask a question at the Government office, get a massage, or take a peaceful walk through Heritage Park. We are very fortunate to have these stores and services available to us.
We will be asking people in a more personal way over the next few months about your ideas and to find other groups who may be interested in working together on downtown housing so that we are able to keep our seniors in Ashcroft.
Interested? Got ideas or suggestions? Contact one of us from our ad hoc committee.
The government has recently announced a brief online consultation process with small businesses, to gather feedback on issues that are affecting you. I encourage all small businesses to participate, as this may be your only opportunity to let the NDP know your thoughts on taxes such as the Employer Health Tax, increases in the minimum wage, and other unique rural issues that impact your businesses.
The Employer Health Tax (EHT) will come into effect on January 1, 2019. If your payroll is over $500,000, you will be required to pay the EHT, and for those businesses that pay MSP for employees, you will also be paying 50 per cent of MSP premiums until January 1, 2020.
This tax is on top of the minimum wage increase to $12.65 that occurred on June 1 with further increases annually, and the heightened carbon tax that is no longer revenue neutral and that is increasing year after year. In addition to these increased costs, many of the businesses in our area are dealing with the aftermath of the Elephant Hill wildfire and the enormous impact that it had on their businesses.
Small businesses are the backbone of B.C.’s economy. They make up 98 per cent of businesses within the province and roughly 34 per cent of B.C.’s GDP. There is no question that the NDP’s tax changes will create untold negative effects in our province.
I am urging business owners to complete the survey and share your concerns with the tax increases and other issues impacting businesses.
The link to the survey is https://engage.gov.bc.ca/smallbusiness/.
July 1, Canada Day, is a good day to reflect on what it is to be Canadian.
For me, being Canadian means being part of a diverse society of people, languages, and of course, food.
We share a love of nature, and are proud of our universal health care.
We pride ourselves on being tolerant and respectful of each other, in spite of our differences, be they our economic status, ethnicity, or our sexual and/or political choices.
Sure, we may grumble about each other, but for the most part, we work together, we live in the same neighbourhoods, and we get along just fine.
That’s a good thing, because respect and tolerance are important—essential—to any civil society.
But as we all know, the political world is becoming a scary place. To the south of us, Trump’s actions horrify many of us. In Ontario Doug Ford, a virtual political novice, is in charge of Canada’s biggest economy.
Perhaps, even worse, their divisive, highly inflammatory rhetoric is hurting us. Instead of uniting us, it is dividing us and poisoning our society at large.
That is why I think we need proportional representation. Under a proportional voting system, Ford would have 40 per cent of the power, not all of it, and Trump would not be the president. Under a proportional voting system, politicians from across the spectrum would have to work together, for the greater good.
First past the post has served us, but it is time for a change. It is time for proportional representation.