MITCHELL’S MUSINGS: A seasonal sermon

Some odds and ends from the world around us, such as it is on this weekend after Thanksgiving in the North Okanagan.....

Some odds and ends from the world around us, such as it is on this weekend after Thanksgiving in the North Okanagan…..

……although I didn’t write my usual we-should-be-more-thankful-than-we-are column for the holiday last weekend due to circumstances beyond my control (I left early for the coast), I do want to reiterate that we are way too demanding and whiny and not nearly grateful enough for all that we have and enjoy, especially in these parts………there, a short paragraph on the topic instead of the usual preachy, rambling offering, yet another reason to be grateful….

…..and speaking of gratitude, although it’s likely no surprise given the crappy summer we were forced to endure, the past forest-fire season was the slowest on record in B.C.

The province’s wildfire co-ordination centre  says there were just 623 forest fires in 2011 that torched 12,210 hectares (or 30,171 acres for those of us who never bothered to figure out how big a hectare was).

Barring any more forest fires, and it is mid-October folks and the frost is already on the pumpkin (in fact that politically correct campfire ban in mid-September only served to ruin a final weekend in the woods for many folks – were they just trying to sneak one in to justify their existence or what, give me a break), this year’s numbers are way lower than the previous record low of 711 forest fires in 1954.

Apparently the 10-year average is 1,800 fires in the province while some 334,000 hectares (or 825,331 acres, which sounds like way more by the way but then everything was bigger back in the day, right?) burned back in 2010 as a comparison.

And it’s all due to Mother Nature basically washing away July. B.C. only spent $61 million in 2011 fighting forest fires while taxpayers racked up $209 million last year and a whopping $403 million the previous year. And we even made $27 million this year lending our firefighters to other provinces and states.

So I figure we saved close to $200 million and even if you want to keep a huge contingency fund for next year that still leaves $100 million left over.

Hey, we could open up the top two floors of the Polson tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital with that money and still have some left over for a few other photo-ops. Health Minister Michael de Jong should take note and get on over to the forestry ministry asap.

Now some will say it doesn’t quite work that way, what with separate budgets for separate ministries, but you know what, it’s all from the same pockets, ours, and it ain’t exactly working well the way it’s going right now, now is it?…..

….now keeping with the grateful theme, which may have got lost somewhere along the line, if you haven’t yet toured the Polson tower I can tell you it’s an impressive building that we should all take pride in. Sometimes with the demand for more beds and more floors, the fact that we have a $180-million health facility serving the community  now and into the future might have got lost.

It’s truly wonderful and the government and the hospital foundation should be congratulated for making it a reality, and even thinking ahead so we have room for growth in the future (sooner would be better than later).

I also like how it’s a landmark standing tall above Polson Park as you drive in from Highway 6 or Highway 97, almost like a protector of the community below, cool stuff…..

…….ah, October, a sports fan’s dream time. The NHL and NFL are underway, the CFL is starting to get interesting and baseball playoffs give casual fans a reason to watch. Although in the careful-what-you-wish-for department, I was happy to see the big-money teams, the Phillies and the Yankees, get eliminated. Except now I tune in and I don’t seem to care as much who wins and the interest wanes. Luckily there’s a couple hockey games on the other channels, or those autumn chores I’ve been meaning to get to…..

—Glenn Mitchell is the managing editor for The Morning Star