Personal Best: Traffic snarls through ‘Big Smoke’

Pat Black finds Toronto traffic a nightmare and said Vernon residents are lucky not to face the same traffic snarls

I am far away from Vernon as the Christmas tide approaches, in the city that used to be called the Big Smoke, now more accurately called the Traffic Screw-up Capitol of Canada. Yes, this is Toronto. Highways, roads, main arteries, side streets are clogged with cars, no matter what time of day, each car trying to beat the next one in the lineup to the subsequent tie-up 50 feet away. And we think we have traffic problems in Vernon waiting in a car lineup of six or more.

The problem is too many people, almost six million in greater Toronto, and spreading further as new housing complex after complex climbs over the fields and farms that use to be the agricultural belt of Ontario. You can take the Go train from Barrie (approximately 75 km and still a bedroom community) to downtown Toronto and many do, but it is more than a two-hour trip and others choose to drive the clogged highways trying to reduce travel time. Everyone is in a hurry and you had better be an aggressive driver or don’t drive, especially the highways. It seems to get worse every time I visit and I am reluctant to drive anywhere out of this neighborhood.

In Vernon our lack of viable land for housing may be a gift as it ensures we will never have the population problem that produces such chaos and traffic congestion in other bigger cities. However looking at the traffic problems in these cities should be a wake-up call for us in the Okanagan.

Our yearly increase of summer traffic on Highway 97 continues to rise and putting our head in the sand and continuing to ignore this problem because it is controversial doesn’t do it. Maybe our new council will take the bull by the horns and promote discussion about alternatives, perhaps another route bypassing the city might even fly this time around.

As you may be aware, the Upper Room Mission has experienced a flood and I know the people of Vernon will be doing everything they can to help out. People Place is assisting by allowing the Mission to use their space for programs and to feed the hungry. It also means that some programs have had to be cancelled or moved and Breathing Exercises/Yoga in a Chair is one of those.   Friday classes at the People Place are closed until the New Year and the last Monday class, Dec. 15 at 1 p.m., has been moved to Nexus, 102, 3201-30th St, across the street from the old library next to the BC Services building. Melissa is currently teaching a class at Schubert Centre on Fridays only, at 10 a.m. This will be the only offering on Fridays until the new year begins and things get back to normal. For information, e-mail Melissa at

Is there a difference between colds and flu and if so, what is the difference? The University of Texas at Austin Health Services website tells us that cold symptoms include runny nose with yellow mucous, stuffy nose, cough and sore throat.

A rhinovirus is the cause of a cold, and can last for a week and is much different than an influenza virus. Flu symptoms include sudden onset of headaches, sore throat and muscle ache, extreme tiredness and dry cough, with recovery taking longer. Both spread through coughing, sneezing, talking or through direct contact with an infected person.

Treatment for both colds and flu includes drinking fluids and getting plenty of rest. For more information, visit the HealthLink BC website and search the terms cold, flu and allergy.

Best wishes for a germ-free, happy and healthy Christmas season.

If you have comments or questions, email

Pat Black writes about issues of concern to seniors in the North Okanagan, appearing every other Sunday.