Originally published by the Comox Valley Record on Mar. 20, 2018 3:30 p.m.

The Arden Ambassador Team appeared before Courtenay council Monday

Six elementary students comprising the Arden Ambassador Team appeared before Courtenay council Monday to appeal for a sidewalk on Lake Trail Road.

The Grade 4 and 5 leadership students asked council to consider installing a sidewalk/bike lane.

They note the road is busy and narrow, with a ditch on one side. They also note many cars speed through the school zone.

“With more families in our area there will be more need for sidewalks and bike lanes, as there will be more cars coming to our school,” Jacob said.

The team has gathered 170 signatures on a petition.

Council commended the students for their presentation.

“I think this is something that our whole community can be proud of, you guys coming and presenting, and letting us know how this impacts you,” Coun. Bob Wells said.

“We always talk about our young people being the leaders of tomorrow, but I think you guys are the leaders of today,” Coun. Erik Eriksson said.

Later in the meeting, council approved a motion from David Frisch to include $28,000 in the 2018 budget for surveying, concept design and options analysis for a safe pathway between Arden and Lake Trail schools.

Watch video of the Arden Ambassadors speaking to Council

•A local group hopes council can follow the lead of Burnaby and become a dementia-friendly community.

The group, dubbed Making Dementia Matter to All of Us, has initiated a letter writing campaign to improve dementia care in the Comox Valley. The goal is to keep loved ones at home as long as possible.

Group co-chair Melanie Olson said there is a need for greater access to adult day programs — which are fun for clients and a respite for caregivers.

In terms of respite beds, there are just three in the Comox Valley.

“This puts a terrible strain on our hospital,” Olson said. “We are already at a crisis point as the baby boomers are now entering the system.”

The situation will become disastrous if government money set aside isn’t soon used to expand services, she added.

Olson said 40-plus people in hospital are awaiting placement in a residential care facility.

According to the 2017 Seniors Advocate report, there’s been an eight per cent decrease in the number of funded adult day programs offered in B.C. — which has one of the highest rates of caregiver distress in Canada.

The group hopes council can lobby Island Health to ensure future facilities for residential care include rooms for respite beds and space for adult day programs. It’s also requesting a designated person to source grants to support a dementia-friendly community, which is inclusive, connected and supported.

•Council approved a recommended 2.5 per cent property tax increase for 2018, an approximate $36 impact to the average homeowner, based on an average assessed property value of $440,000. The tax rate bylaw is not adopted until May 7. Before then, there is a public engagement period running until April 12.

•Council voted unanimously to postpone a recommendation to close part of the east side of Harmston Avenue in conjunction with the development of a new administration building for the regional district. The CVRD requires the closed road to accommodate parking.

“This is an issue I brought up a year-and-a-half ago, and no one listened,” Mayor Larry Jangula said.

SCOTT STANFIELD

Reporter, The Comox Valley Record