Wednesday, February 20, 2019
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Interior Health eyes plan for local doctors

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(File photo)

Lyonel Doherty
Oliver Chronicle

Interior Health is saying it is optimistic that several strategies will ensure stability and fair remuneration for Oliver doctors. But those strategies remain a secret for now.

In a letter to Town council, Interior Health’s vice-president of medicine and quality, Dr. Michael Ertel, said they have met with several physicians to explore options for financial compensation and improving the work environment at South Okanagan General Hospital.

The recent meeting included a discussion on the denial of the alternate payment plan that local physicians were counting on. Doctors say there is no financial incentive to cover emergency department shifts at SOGH, so they applied for better compensation through an alternate plan (paid per hour, not per patient). But the Ministry of Health did not approve the application.

Local doctors now fear the emergency department will fall prey to more closures.

Ertel said most physicians working under Interior Health are independent practitioners who manage themselves as private enterprises.

 • Read more: Doctors fear more changes at SOGH

Ertel pointed out there are currently 22 physicians privileged to work in Oliver, but only 11 are available to provide emergency department coverage, which is creating staffing challenges.

“While it is important to recruit physicians to communities like Oliver, it is also important to recruit the right kind of physician; one who has an interest in the full scope of practice.”

Oliver physician Dr. Peter Entwistle could not be reached for comment. But Interior Health communications officer Susan Duncan said they will share further details when they are able, noting the priority is having those talks with physicians.

Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger said he hoped that Interior Health would have expanded on the strategies that were identified.

Councillor Petra Veintimilla said that was the same thing she noted, but recommended sending Interior Health a letter thanking them and reiterating that 24-hour, seven-day- a-week access to the emergency department is important to the community, and that council looks forward to hearing about these strategies.

“You kind of want to believe that things are happening the way that they say they are happening, but without any sort of priorities attached, we don’t know,” she stated.

Veintimilla said Interior Health seems to be saying the same thing over and over, but local doctors keep saying they are unhappy. So she is “cautiously optimistic” that these priorities will change the course of action.

Councillor Dave Mattes suggested  “nailing” Interior Health’s feet to the floor by asking when they expect to share and implement these strategies.

  

 

Last call for Murphy’s

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Dan Walton
Oliver Chronicle

Jesus! Murphy’s Irish Sports Bar & Grill is no more.

It’s hard for anybody cruising down Main Street in Oliver to miss the five big red letters that spell out ‘H-O-T-E-L.’

But underneath that big-city signage was actually a beloved saloon. The type of tavern with shabby lighting, poker tournaments and a scratch ticket machine. Where the TVs would be tuned into sports, pool balls were cracking, and a menu that came with all the favourite pub grub – chicken wings, mozza sticks, burgers, chicken fingers, etc.

Some people even found love in the hopeless place, changing the course of history for people like Ross Mackenzie. Years ago, while traveling through Oliver for work, he stopped at Murphy’s for a beer. And that’s how he met his now-girlfriend, who he eventually moved to Oliver to be with.

“It’s been a seven year ordeal,” he said.

How did they spot the chemistry?

“I used to try and tease her but she would always have these good comebacks that were making me think. Who is this girl? I had to investigate a bit more.”

 • Read more: Murphy’s criticizes smoking ban

Murphy’s was a comfort zone to many, perfect for anyone to hang out, kick back and be themselves.

“Shame when they close places like this,” said Glenn O. He was there on Friday night eating some fish ’n’ chips. “Aw (beep) it’s got good (beep)in’ character, right? Lots of character, charm, history – gonna miss all that.”

Staff were even known for sometimes driving their patrons home at the end of the night. Bartender and manager Gabby Campbell said Murphy’s was like a big family.

“It’s just like CHEERS, everybody knows everybody,” she said.

“Gabby’s like my second mother,” said Marianne Huffman, who claims Fridays (karaoke night) were the pub’s best night of the week. 

“Everyone goes a little nuts.”

Huffman and her father were both regulars at Murphy’s, and with the doors now closed, they figure they’ll be spending more time at the Firehall.

Another regular, Don Tucker, said he’ll be migrating over to the Elks Club.

“It’s wherever people feel at home is what counts,” he said.

And don’t forget about Ye Olde Welcome Inn just north of town.

Although one of Oliver’s favourite pubs has finished its run, there is optimism among the patrons that another owner will come along and breathe new life into the 76-year-old building.

 

 

Town of Oliver scrutinizes vacation rentals

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Lyonel Doherty
Oliver Chronicle

The Town of Oliver is putting “vacation rentals” under the microscope as it prepares to regulate these uses in a neighbourhood near you.

Council recently discussed the issue, including a staff recommendation for public consultation on allowing vacation rentals as permitted uses in low-density residential zones.

In a report by contract planner Chris Garrish, it was stated these rentals are an important form of tourist accommodation in many communities, and allow homeowners to generate revenue. But they are also the subject of “concerns and complaints,” he pointed out.

These include: changing the character of the neighbourhood; increasing the cost of housing; contributing to a reduction in long-term rentals; creating conflicts via noise and parking congestion; and creating unsightliness and fire hazards.

The report noted the big challenge is striking an appropriate balance between regulation and enforcement. But it was noted that vacation rentals are already occurring within the Town and appear to be more prevalent than traditional B&Bs.

 • Read more: Vacation rentals under scrutiny by RDOS board

Of the 24 properties identified as potentially comprising a vacation rental, nearly 96 per cent were in a zone that only permits single detached dwellings as the principal dwelling unit.

Council discussed two options. One is to prohibit vacation rentals in all zones other than the RC (resort commercial) Zone. (All existing vacation rentals must cease via enforcement action.)

The other option is to permit these rentals in certain residential zones, requiring an amendment to the Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw. New regulations could include limiting the number of patrons and rooms per rental site.

Under the Official Community Plan, home occupations are supported in residential areas.

The report indicated that only 10 per cent of vacation rental operators will voluntarily comply with a licensing scheme. But that figure increases to 90 per cent if operators believe they will be caught through enforcement action.

Garrish said B&Bs are structured to require property owners to be present in the dwelling unit, while vacation rentals do not.

Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger said council has already allowed vacation rentals in the community.

 • Read more: Town to amend bylaw to include short-term rental provisions

Garrish said if council decides not to permit them, those existing licences would lapse and the operations would no longer be allowed.

Schwartzenberger said there are two types of vacation rentals, one where the owner stays there, and one where the owner doesn’t.

“I’m more in favour of the first kind where there is somebody there.”

Councillor Aimee Grice said her concern on vacation rentals is the impact on affordable housing and rental vacancies in general. She cited cases where homes are rented out for six months during the summer and sit vacant for the rest of the year.

“Using up these secondary suites or carriage homes which could be a rental for somebody else, I think is a concern.”

Mayor Martin Johansen said a lot of municipalities are struggling with this issue, but whatever council does there should be some policy or bylaw in place.

“We need to hold people accountable. I can think in my own neighbourhood, it wouldn’t be the best if somebody rented a house there, brought their truck and parked a boat out in front of it and took up the street.”

Councillor Dave Mattes wondered if you had a tenant in a carriage house, could the tenant rent out that accommodation?

Mattes said if you have a business licence you would have funds for enforcement for problems such as noisy tenants.

Garrish said the main issue municipalities are faced with is compliance, noting they have very few operators who come in to formalize the use of their rentals.

“In the absence of an active enforcement program, you’re probably only going to get 10 per cent compliance.”

He noted that some issues include building additions and extensions without permits and sufficient parking spaces.

“Take this with a grain of salt, but we’ve had some people say that we should be mandating a minimum stay of a week because you don’t get the weekend partiers coming.”

Mattes said Penticton and Nelson allow short-term rentals with owners on or off the site. 

“If you allow, there’s an opportunity for revenue. If you don’t allow, there’s an opportunity for expense,” Mattes said.

Grice said she still has a concern about this having effects on long-term rentals.

A Merlot Avenue resident addressed council by saying she and her husband have a vacation rental (secondary suite) with a business licence, noting they have followed all of the rules and regulations.

“We’ve never had any complaints,” she said, adding that all of their guests are vetted.

But the resident said it seems that council is picking on vacation rentals as opposed to long-term rentals, “which to me have far more demands on emergency services and bylaw services.”

She noted she had to call bylaw services on several occasions regarding the long-term rental next door to her.

The woman said if she wasn’t allowed to operate a vacation rental in an RS1 area, she would not do it long-term, so it would be empty.

She noted that vacation rentals bring in a lot of money to the community, citing that one person who stayed in her rental for four nights spent $2,500 on wine.

Schwartzenberger said he has never had a problem with the vacation rental next to him where he lives.

Council approved the recommendation to offer public consultation with options.

Our upcoming visitor guide is compiling business listings

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We are compiling information for our 2019 Imagine Oliver Travel and Relocation Guide!

It will be found in visitor centres, accommodations, and retail operations across B.C.

All we need is your Business category, company name, address, email address and phone number. If you would like to be added to our listing, for FREE, please Call Diane at 250-498-3711 or email ddownes@oliverchronicle.com

Year-end report shows hike in violent crime

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Superintendent Ted de Jager (Lyonel Doherty photo)

Lyonel Doherty
Oliver Chronicle

A year-end statistical report from January to December 2018 shows violent crime against persons in Oliver (correctional centre only) increased 230 per cent.

The report shows 20 incidents in 2017, compared to 66 in 2018.

In Oliver alone, violent crimes against persons increased 93 per cent (from 89 to 172). Domestic violence is also up 50 per cent, from 12 to 18).

Theft from vehicles also increased by 97 per cent (from 75 incidents to 148).

Property crime in Oliver increased 23 per cent (from 536 incidents in 2017 to 658 last year).

Mental Health Act incidents increased 14 per cent (from 129 to 147), and residential break-ins increased nearly 20 per cent (from 31 to 37). Auto theft increased by seven percent (from 75 to 80).

The only decrease (18 per cent) is seen in business break-ins (from 33 to 27).

The top 10 calls for service in Oliver last year were: assist police/fire/ambulance (361), traffic incident (334), abandoned 9-1-1 (318), theft (277), assault (209), alarm (169), suspicious circumstances (159), disturbance (144), assist general public (132) and property (131).

The total calls for service in Oliver was 4,530, with 124 charges forwarded to the Crown.

Under traffic enforcement, there were 11 immediate (90-day) roadside suspensions in Oliver for impaired driving.

 • Read more: New Crime Watch vehicle to act as deterrent

RCMP gave 43 talks to school children in Oliver last year, and held 45 community events. There was one restorative justice program carried out, and 53 referrals for victim services.

Under major investigations, there were two homicides in rural Oliver in 2018, however, no information on charges has been released.

Police also investigated an Oliver man in the high profile murder of a Belgium tourist.

The year-end report also mentioned investigations on an attempted murder in Oliver and “suspicious death files” in the community.

RCMP Superintendent Ted de Jager said the Community Active Support Table (CAST) will expand in the region this spring, covering the entire South Okanagan-Similkameen. CAST helps at-risk individuals affected by mental health and drug addictions by referring them to the proper agencies.

De Jager said CAST is not the only solution to the region’s social problems, but its strength lies in bringing all partners together to support “vulnerable” people.

He added his support for local housing initiatives that have a large impact on the perception of homelessness and vulnerable populations.

De Jager noted an additional police officer will be added to the Community Support and Enforcement Team with the primary focus being on youth. 

Stunning student exhibits at semester end celebration

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Kaitlyn Nemeth admires the achievements of SOSS students

Dan Walton
Oliver Chronicle

Before embarking upon the next step in their high school journey, the students of Southern Okanagan Secondary School took a moment to relish in their accomplishments during the Semester End Celebration of Student Achievement.

The school was bustling last Thursday night with students performing live music in the hallway, robot wars in the library, cooking challenges in the cafeteria, and art displays all over.

One of the art exhibits came from Grade 11 student Kara High, who was sharing her recent paintings, drawings and photography.

Grade 11 student Kara High takes a moment to reflect on her many works of art over the past semester

“This is one of my first one’s I did in September, some of these are my more recent ones,” she explained.

Over the past semester, High said she’s gained a deeper understanding of how art can communicate beyond words (thanks largely to Lindsey McVicar, one of her favourite teachers).

“One thing I’ve learned, in everything you do you can express who you are. I didn’t really see that in the beginning, I was just kind of laying it all out,” she said.

“It can show a lot of meaning. Someone can look at a piece of art and see one thing themselves, but everybody can see a different thing or have a different emotional reaction.”

High’s art is for sale and in alignment with her Social Justice class. Proceeds are donated to a local women’s shelter.

Grade 10 Hayden Lake pictured chopping up some cookies – he claims to have “the best Foods teacher”

Editorial: Something fishy here about inmate letters

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It’s a little suspicious when a prisoner shares accolades of the prison that’s holding them captive. 

Let alone twice in one week.

Earlier this month I contacted BC Corrections in regards to our story in this week’s Chronicle – I explained that I was writing about allegations of mistreatment at the OCC.

A few days later, the Chronicle received a letter from OCC inmate Mike Harfman.

“The food is second to none, the guards (although new) actually seem to care,” reads his letter. “I find (the OCC) to be above average.”

Right on. 

Shortly after that, editor Lyonel Doherty contacted the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), asking how a creepy letter written from behind bars by the notorious Ronald Teneycke went under their noses and managed to reach the home of his victim. A staffer with CSC said she needed an extension until Tuesday to come up with an answer. When she finally responded on Wednesday – well after the paper went to press – her lousy explanation read, “CSC has the authority to intercept inmate communications when it believes on reasonable grounds that the safety of the public or of the institution will be jeopardized.” 

Okay. We already knew the government has the ability to prevent jailbirds from mailing their victims. Our question is why wasn’t Teneycke’s letter intercepted? 

Most government staffers respond to inquiries with vague jargon – rather than anything meaningful or specific. Journalists are very accustomed to it. But it’s hard to understand what took a professional communicator an extra two days to dodge a question.

For anybody who missed last week’s front-page story – Teneycke’s half-hearted, narcissistic, apologetic Christmas card was presumably screened and approved before it was sent to the man who he shot and robbed. And we have no way of holding anybody to account. 

My guess is that the letter was able to reach its destination because of an honest mistake by a staffer with CSC. Human error happens all the time and it’s easy to forgive.

But this shouldn’t be a mystery. Privacy concerns are a weak excuse for why we can’t get answers about a breach in privacy. The lack of transparency from our public institutions makes it difficult to have complete faith in the system. 

A day after we received that garbage response from the CSC, we happened to get another glowing review from another inmate.

“My name is Jeremy Royer and I am at the fine jail of the Oliver correctional facility. This is one of the best jails I have ever been in.”

Something’s fishy. 

What would motivate a prisoner to defend and compliment the cage they’re confined to? And why did that happen two times while we were poking our noses around?

So here’s another thumbs down to our “injustice system” that continues to allow criminals to run the show while forgetting all about the victims. 

 

Dan Walton
Oliver Chronicle

Harold’s heart keeps ticking

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Harold Cox (middle) shares a moment with hockey pals Jeff Crowley (left) and Bryan Coles, both of whom helped save his life five years ago in the Oliver Arena

Lyonel Doherty
Oliver Chronicle

What does it feel like to die and come back to life?

Harold Cox would love to tell you, but he can only count his blessings five years after his heart stopped beating while playing hockey in the Oliver Arena.

“The way I look at it is . . . I’ve got extra days, 1,825 days (to be exact),” he said while suiting up for yet another game with the boys.

“I would have missed a whole pile of things. I would have missed 62 extra hockey games. I would have missed my grandkids growing up. I would have missed visiting another seven countries.”

The 79 year old from Osoyoos has five men to thank for allowing him to see many extra sunrises. Those men are Jeff Crowley, Bryan Coles, Marty Whiteman, Doug Hume and Steve Arstad. They were the ones who brought Cox back to life with CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED).

In talking to fellow player Al Brandt, Coles will never forget the moment Cox hit the ice.

“Do you know what happened first, Al? He was skating towards the bench to replace you when his eyes went first. Harold’s eyes . . . his eyes went blank.”

Brandt, from Osoyoos, recalled that Cox had just put his stick up to indicate he was coming off the ice when he suddenly went down.

 • Read more: Heart attack survivor thanks buddies with beer and pizza

“He went flat down on his face, so I went down and got on my knees. He was already grey. One guy, Doug Hume, started pumping on his chest, and another guy started giving him mouth-to-mouth.”

The arena had recently purchased an AED, which Crowley quickly hunted down because time was of the essence.

“I play hockey down in Osoyoos, and we had a little bit of training on that thing about a week before,” Crowley said.

He recalled the AED was initially locked in an office, but now it’s out in the foyer for easy access and staff are all versed on how to use it.

In fact, anyone can use an AED successfully without training because the machine talks you through the steps. 

Crowley admitted there was stress and panic during the moment, but everyone rallied together and did their part to make it work.

“I mean, I don’t take credit for it. I don’t think any of us do. If I was by myself or Bryan was by himself, or somebody else, maybe I wouldn’t be drinking his (Cox’s) beer today.”

In any event, the incident prompted a lot of change in the community by bringing awareness to the AED, Crowley said.

 • Read more: Oliver senior’s story told by Hockey Night in Canada

Now, more facilities have this tool, and more people are trained on how to use it. The machine is operated by attaching two electrodes to the patient’s chest and shocking the heart back into a rhythm.

Reflecting on Cox’s ordeal and the fifth anniversary of his near death, Crowley couldn’t help but offer this: “Well, I just think he hasn’t changed his attitude; it’s still bad,” he laughed.

“No, he’s just a good guy, a good community member, good father and good husband . . . just an all around super good guy and I was happy to be part of that day.”

Crowley said he isn’t surprised at the least that Cox is still around.

“No, no, no. Harold is one of those guys that I think will be here until he can’t.”

Coles said he wasn’t aware of how well known Cox was in Oliver.

“What we found out,” Crowley interjected, “was that Harold used to be an old Chippendales dancer.”

 • Read more: Kudos to paramedics

“He is so well respected in Oliver,” Coles continued.” It was like, holy mackerel . . . the connections!”

In retrospect, Coles said something “phenomenal” occurred that day after Cox went down.

“How did this all happen? Apparently the odds of recovery are not real high. How did we luck out?”

Crowley likened it to winning the lottery.

He recalled the sheer emotion of it all, admitting that he sobbed about it in the dressing room afterwards.

Cox is still fearful for his health whenever he steps onto the ice.

“Yes, I worry about it every time I go out . . . but it’s not going to stop me in life and enjoying things.”

Cox said there were a lot of miracles that day, referring to the arena having a new AED and the ice attendant being present, along with Hume who knew CPR.

“In total, as far as I can gather, I was gone (dead) for eight minutes.”

Cox said his doctor told him the chances of resuscitation via a defibrillator outside of hospital are very slim.

“Luckily these guys (my buddies) looked after me.”

Today, Cox tries to remain as active as possible and enjoys every day a little more.

“I appreciate things a lot more than I ever did before, and I’ve got a reason to.”

Now where’s the beer and pizza?

Food bank thrilled with huge donation

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Three pallets of food is unloaded at the Oliver Food Bank courtesy of Buy-Low Foods. (Photo by Lyonel Doherty)

The Oliver Food Bank was thrilled this morning by the donation of 100 boxes of food from Buy-Low Foods.

Store manager Tyler Gludovatz and his crew delivered three pallets of food that came from the company’s warehouse. He noted the warehouse sets aside product that is delivered to various stores for donation to food banks in their communities.

This is the first time for Oliver, he says.

Food bank treasurer Jim Ouellette says this donation will go a long way in feeding the less fortunate in Oliver.

OES cooking class with Hester Creek

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The Grade 7 class at Oliver Elementary School had a cooking class with Hester Creek director of hospitality Roger Gillespie today. The recipe was handmade ricotta gnocchi

Council opts back in on liquor application

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Lyonel Doherty
Oliver Chonicle

From opting out to opting back in, Town council is getting more involved in the Venables Theatre liquor license application.

Last summer council voted not to comment on the application but changed its mind at a recent meeting.

In a letter to council, Oliver Community Theatre Society president Tom Szalay requested the Town opt back into the process by undertaking public consultation, subject to a processing fee paid for by the society.

The consultation would gather input from nearby residents on how they feel a liquor license would impact the community.

Chief Administrative Officer Cathy Cowan said if concerns are raised the Town would go through the public hearing process.

Councillor Dave Mattes said he was a little concerned when he first saw the application because it’s not a Town property and it is in a school zone, therefore the public should be aware of what’s going on. He added there would be additional expenses to the Town such as advertising and staff time.

But Cowan said an additional $500 from the society would cover these expenses.

 • Read more: Theatre society seeks primary liquor license

Mayor Martin Johansen said the consultation process wouldn’t be onerous on the Town, so “you would think it would go through fairly smoothly.”

Councillor Petra Veintimilla said she doesn’t have an issue with the application at all.

“From our original conversation it seemed like we were in agreement that having a liquor license there seems like a bit of no brainer.”

Veintimilla asked if it was a lot easier for the Town to undertake the consultation process than it would be for the society.

Cowan said the only difference is the Town would not be required to erect signage on the property because the newspaper advertising would cover that.

Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger moved that the Town opt back into the process, a motion that was carried unanimously.

Councillor Aimee Grice did not vote because she previously declared a conflict of interest since she works at the theatre.

Buddies reflect on saving hockey pal five years ago

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See 2014 coverage here

Inmate critical of segregation practices at OCC

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Dan Walton
Oliver Chronicle

Matthew Hamm has spent many years in prison but he’s never gotten used to solitary confinement.

Last year, while he was at the Okanagan Correctional Centre awaiting trial, he said he attempted suicide as a means to get out of segregation.

On one occasion, he said he tried to kill himself by swallowing five grams of the party drugs MDMA and MDA. Another time, he said handcuffs weren’t taken off when he was placed in solitary, so he stood atop his sink and jumped head first onto the concrete floor. He also said he used a razor blade to cut his wrists and throat.

“I hurt myself really bad,” he said. “Had to be sent to the emergency room at the hospital.”

In 2016, while serving at the Edmonton Institution, Hamm was subject to prolonged segregation – 43 days. He said he was diagnosed with PTSD because of his experiences in prison (his mother, Dale Hamm, attests the diagnosis came during his sentence in Edmonton), which are “directly related to the years I spent in solitary confinement.”

Along with two other inmates, he sued the Attorney General of Canada for $1.87 million each. And they won.

While he was serving time at the OCC last year, he was punished again with solitary confinement.

“The staff here in certain circumstances have been doing the exact same thing as was ordered to me in Edmonton,” Hamm said. “They didn’t like that I got special treatment because of my illness.”

 • Read more: Prison guard union boss brings up safety concerns

He said he would refuse to leave his cell if he knew he was going into solitary confinement. When this was the case, he said guards would act deceptively as a way to get him to leave.

“They tricked me by saying I was going somewhere else.”

There are “lots of good officers and lots that aren’t,” he said of the Oliver prison.

Hamm, who turns 40 next month, said he was first put in solitary confinement when he was 12 or 13 years old (in a juvenile detention centre.)

“To be honest the whole time back then as a child was even worse than it is as an adult. And I remember all of it. You don’t see stuff like that in real life, only in the darkest of places. That’s why they call it the hole.”

He argues the punishment of segregation does the opposite of rehabilitating a prisoner.

When he would try to see a doctor, he said many guards would be skeptical about the seriousness of his complaints, as a visit to the doctor can come under suspecion as a way of getting out of solitary confinement.

 • Read more: OCC faces lawsuit over strip search

“Imagine you were in your bathroom. Not a big one, just a normal sized bathroom with a tub. The tub would be your bed and the toilet would be in there and a sink. There’s a little bit of room to walk in circles, like a caged animal at the zoo. And that’s your room.”

Hamm said prisoners can listen to local radio, and they’re lucky if there’s a TV in the cell.

“You don’t leave that little bathroom. You get your meals in it.”

When he would get to see a doctor, he said directions are not properly relayed to the guards.

“For the doctor to relay this information to them and expect it to actually get passed on is naive,” he said.

Hamm feels as though many other prisoners are mistreated, but said many inmates often lack the education and resources to hold prisons to account, and also there is little sympathy for prisoners from the general public.

Last month, Hamm was released from OCC on bail. He had been there since June.

 • Read more: Public safety minister addresses violence in Oliver jail

With his freedom and a seven-figure cheque both expected in the near future, Hamm wants to help other inmates in similar predicaments.

“I’ll be putting a huge portion of my settlement into allowing other inmates to do what I’ve done, to teach them what I know.”

He’s looking at setting up a toll-free number with access to attorneys, legal resources, and somebody to listen to them.

“Things that have happened to me, I’m going to make sure don’t happen to others – make sure I can provide support to the lowest of the low.”

Hamm’s account cannot be corroborated through BC Corrections because they will not comment on anything related to an inmate’s health records or status.

But in a response to a request from the Oliver Chronicle, the Ministry of Public Safety says there is a “robust screening and assessment process” for all new prisoners.

“Separate confinement is one tool that enables BC Corrections to maintain the safe operation of its centres,” reads the email. “The Correction Act Regulation guides BC Corrections’ use of segregation and separate confinement.”

However, one reason why a judge awarded Hamm a $1.87 million settlement is because the Corrections Act regulations were not followed while he was serving in Edmonton. While there, Hamm was confined to solitary for 43 days, despite the Act stating that inmates cannot be placed there for more than 30 days.

 • Read more: Residents examine risks of correctional facility

BC Corrections also explained that within 24 hours, inmates are seen by a nurse and a mental health screener, and inmates will receive further treatment if required.

Hamm said when he last saw a psychiatrist via video screen, “I was just a number on his docket, he had no time for me.”

“Separate confinement” is permitted through the Correction Act regulation as a tool to maintain safe operations of the prison, the email reads. Solitary confinement is only used “as a last resort if they are believed to be a danger to themselves or others.”

But Hamm disagrees, saying segregation is the first resort for many guards.

BC Corrections says prisoners are given a written reason as to why the decision is made to house them in separate confinement, and they’re allowed to request a review of the decision by an independent body.

Whether or not Hamm’s criticisms are taken any further, prison reforms are likely on their way. BC Corrections began reviewing its practices involving segregation in 2016.

“As part of that review, BC Corrections has worked closely with partner agencies and stakeholders to help inform action items that support segregation reform,” reads the email from BC Corrections.

At the federal level, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale introduced legislation (Bill C-38) last October to “eliminate the use of administrative segregation and disciplinary segregation” by authorizing “an area in a penitentiary as a structured intervention unit for the confinement of inmates who cannot be maintained in the mainstream inmate population for security or other reasons,” according to openparliament.ca.

Bill C-38, if it passes, will also oblige prison guards to “support the autonomy and clinical independence of registered health care professionals.”

Police urge motorists to move over

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(File photo)

A motorist received a violation ticket today for failing to move for an
emergency vehicle.
Sergeant Blaine Gervais of the Oliver RCMP reported that the driver of a
vehicle did not move for emergency personnel while members were
dealing with a collision scene on Highway 97 at Gallagher Lake this
morning.
“Oliver RCMP would like to remind other drivers to slow down when they
see emergency vehicles with lights activated on the roadway,” Gervais
said.
The commander explained that police attended a two-vehicle collision
between a semi truck and a small car. The semi was in the passing lane
heading north while the car was in the slow lane, also heading north.
Weather conditions included deep slushy snow on the roadway, Gervais
noted.
A collision occurred between the semi unit and the car, with the car
crossing the oncoming lanes and striking a concrete barrier on the west
side of the highway, causing extensive damage.
No injuries occurred as a result of the collision.

Friday’s garbage pickup has been delayed due to snow

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Garbage day has been delayed.

Due to the recent heavy snowfall, residents on the south side of Fairview Road and Park Drive will receive pick-up services a day later than usual on Saturday, January 26th.

Anybody along that route is asked to leave garbage and recycling bins ready for at 7 a.m.  Waste Connections may have an additional truck out on Saturday to assist with the pick up.