If you have been following what has been going on in my life the past several months, you will know that I have been recovering from congestive heart failure. There is no easy, fast fix for this condition and I expect to be dealing with it for quite some time. However, I am getting better. Both my wife, Brenda, and I have been proactive in my treatment and I am making the kind of progress that my doctors have admitted they don't typically see in patients who were as sick as I was back in November 2019 or this past April. I provide this information to you as an introduction to this month's blog I have titled, "Are You Still On Council?"
That is a question I have been asked more than a couple of times over the past month. As it turns out, yes, I am still on Town Council. It is an elected position that lasts for a four-year term. In November, we will be at the halfway point. I did miss a couple of regular meetings due to hospital stays when I first started my recovery and I attended three meetings (two regular, one special) remotely via telephone. Since this past May, I have been physically attending all Town Council meetings. While I missed a few of my committee meetings, I am back on track with all of those now with a few COVID-related exceptions.
How COVID Changed My Meeting Schedule
I have not attended an out-of-town meeting since before March. With COVID-19, either the bulk of my committee meetings were either canceled or rescheduled to a later date. The few committee meetings that I continue to attend that are not out-of-town are either via an online platform or held in a meeting place that can meet the physical distancing and the maximum number of attendees protocols that have been put in place related to COVID.
August 2020 In Review
Here is a quick look at the meetings I did attend in the past month as part of my role as a Town Councillor.
Tuesday, August 4 - Special Meeting of Town Council
The most significant item to come out of this meeting, which included some variance requests, was the rescinding of Bylaw No. 984, 2020 (Glenview Park). The actual motion read this way:
"THAT Bylaw No. 984, 2020 (Glenview Park) a Bylaw to remove the park dedication and authorize the disposal of the park for the purpose of a residential subdivision first, second and third readings be rescinded."
Monday, August 17 - Regular Meeting of Town Council
There was an interesting zoning issue dealt with at this meeting. The motion was:
"THAT Bylaw No. 988, 2020, a bylaw to amend the Zoning Bylaw to create a Site Specific C2 zone to add a "cannabis retail sales establishment" rezone for N1/2, Lot 6, Block 25, KAP55, DL 706, YDYD (255 Vermilion Avenue) be adopted."
There were several other meetings I attended during the month. Here is a breakdown of what they were:
Tuesday, August 18
Princeton Healthcare Steering Committee (Zoom Meeting) - 3 PM *
Princeton Exhibition Association (PXA Grounds) 6 PM *
Wednesday, August 19
Princeton Arts Council (Riverside Centre) - 5:30 PM *
Thursday, August 20
Princeton Museum, (Museum Building) - 5:30 PM *
Monday, August 24
Meeting with Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson (Town Hall) - 8:30 AM
* denotes meetings attended alone. All others include other members of the Town Council and/or Town Staff.
So as you can see, I am still very actively involved in Town Council activities. I am fortunate that my recovery has taken place during COVID as I have days where my energy levels are low and I'm not sure how I would fare in an all-day out-of-town meeting in Kelowna or a late afternoon one in Penticton. For now, I am happy to be able to attend the odd one via online platforms and being in attendance physically at as many local meetings as possible. I would also like to thank everyone for their kind words of support and encouragement. I have a long way to go, but I know things are getting better as I get stronger. Thank you, again.
To bring you up-to-date on what has been happening with me lately, I have to go back to April 2020. Both Brenda and I were getting pretty good at self-isolating by this time as we were already a month into the COVID-19 pandemic. Meetings for me as part of my duties for Town Council were getting canceled left and right and we just got used to spending most of our days indoors at home. One such afternoon, Saturday, April 18, I was sitting on the bed watching a DVD with Bren when suddenly my right arm fell asleep. I noticed right away that it wasn't the typical "pins and needles" feeling and quickly all feeling from my shoulder down to my fingertips was gone. I told Bren that she should take me to the Princeton ER as soon as possible.
Lights and Sirens
We got there at 5:00 PM and by this time my arm and hand were cold to the touch. The ER staff could not locate a pulse and determined I had a blood clot. This instantly put me on an ambulance to Kelowna leaving Princeton at 7:15 PM. The ride on Highway 5A was quick and by the time we reached Westbank and Highway 97 the ambulance was using lights and siren to get me to Kelowna General Hospital as fast as they could. I had what was termed a "life or limb" transport. By the time we got to Kelowna, I had limited feeling in my shoulder and my fingers moved slightly. I was on the operating table at 11:00 PM and spent the night in recovery - the only person in the 20+ bed ward.
Cardiac Cocktail of Pills
The next day I relaxed and although I had been warned that I may not have complete use of my arm, it recovered to about 100% function. Speaking of function, the following day I had a cardiogram that revealed what was going on. My irregular heartbeat (known as Atrial Fibrillation, or AFib for short), from November, had either returned or had not been resolved. I had 50-60% heart function in November. A normally healthy person can have up to 70% heart function. Mine in April had dropped to 10% and as a result, my heart wasn't pumping properly. It was producing blood clots and one was still in my heart. Medications were prescribed to work on this - blood thinners in particular, and I went home Thursday, April 23.
A Recovery Plan
The big difference between my hospital stay in November in Penticton and the one I had in Kelowna in April was that I went home from KGH with a binder of information and a recovery plan. We found out weeks after I got back home that there was a recovery plan with several follow-up items listed from the stay in Penticton. However, none of them were acted upon by my doctor (based in a different community than Princeton). This time around things were very different. I also changed doctors to a local one. We had a Community Nurse visit with us weekly, then bi-weekly to ensure we were doing the right things with the recovery plan. I worked on building my strength with walks around the yard.
Building My Strength
At first, Bren wouldn't let me out of her sight as I was still somewhat weak and often required up to three naps to get through a day. I wasn't eating much, either. I also found that some foods I liked before I got sick, I didn't like anymore. Certain liquids I couldn't drink anymore as I didn't like the taste. That eventually changed as I got stronger. While my AFib didn't change much, blood tests showed that all the other things going on in my body were getting back to normal. However, the list of issues that resulted from Penticton still needs to be resolved. The strength of my heart will determine the timing of the handful of medical conditions I still have to get through as part of my recovery.
I've taken to calling the future operations Phase 2 of my recovery plan. As we enter mid-July, I have a CT Scan coming up that will examine my kidneys. One of them has a growth on it that is about an inch to an inch-and-a-half long. Later that same week I have an echocardiogram scheduled. This is for my heart to determine the current function. With the walking I've been doing (recently as long as 63-minutes) I'm certain that the heart function will be much higher than 10%. Other issues that will require attention is a hernia and a gallstone. I figure I'll be recovering well into 2021 with the way things are going but I have no complaints. I have an awesome support network and that has made a difference.
Bad Timing Or Not?
As I have joked a few times that if there were a good time for this to happen to me, the COVID-19 shutdown of things has made it easier in that I don't feel bad about missing out-of-town meetings as the majority of them were canceled because of the coronavirus. Those I have been able to attend have been via video conferencing. I am strong enough to attend Town Council meetings in person and have made it to the last three that have been scheduled. What's next for me? Well, we are still going day-by-day watching my salt intake and monitoring my blood pressure and heart rate daily. Thank you to everyone who has been following my progress online. It is part of what keeps me going.
As you can imagine, the month of March 2020 has been challenging for any political figure. We are faced with some very hard decisions regularly while sitting in an elected seat and the developments that have taken place on a global scale lately have impacted all forms of government – including your local Town Council. I’ll explain that a little more later.
Regular Start To The Month
March began fairly normally for me. Here is a quick outline of the meetings scheduled for my attendance and you’ll see a pattern that developed as the month went on.
March 1 – 12 Noon - School District 58 Community Partners Meeting, PSS Commons
March 1 – 7:30 PM – Town Council Regular Meeting, Council Chambers, Town Hall
March 9 – 5:30 PM – Copper Mountain Mining Corp. Meeting, Copper Pit
March 16 – 7:00 PM – Public Hearing, Council Chambers, Town Hall
March 16 – 7:30 PM – Town Council Regular Meeting, Council Chambers, Town Hall
March 17 – Health Care Steering Committee, PGH CANCELLED
March 17 – PXA Meeting, Princeton Library Meeting Room CANCELLED
March 19 – Interagency Meeting CANCELLED
March 19 – Princeton Museum AGM, Museum Building CANCELLED
March 20 – 10:00 AM Special Meeting of Town Council, Council Chambers, Town Hall
March 21-31 All Other Meetings CANCELLED
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Makes An Impact
March changed for us in our household mid-month. We’ve had to temporarily close one of our home-based businesses as the venue it is located was closed to the public on March 16. Town Council acted quickly, following expert advice, and started taking measures to restrict public access to local facilities to slow the spread of COVID-19.
In our house, both my wife, Brenda and I are immunocompromised. This has forced us to restrict our physical contact with others to where we are currently self-isolated at home. As I have a work-from-home career, this has not affected my job much at all. We are doing our part to “flatten the curve” and I encourage you to do the same if you are able.
The News About The Aquatic Centre
It was at the March 20 Special Meeting of Town Council when the news about the grant for the Princeton Aquatic Centre being turned down was shared with us. Although it was a sad note, there can be many positives to come out of it. My feelings on the $27-million project are no secret. I thought it was too massive a project for the existing taxpayer base to keep open year ‘round. However, I do believe the community requires a “community centre” of some kind that would include an indoor pool and other facilities.
I think that with the grant being turned down – and I have to point out that the design of the project came from a different Town Council – it gives us all a chance to go back to the drawing board to design something that would fit better within the community and that the community could afford to keep open all year for the enjoyment of residents and visitors. Expect to hear more about that sometime in the future. But for now, let’s not worry about that and focus on getting back on track once the COVID-19 situation is resolved.
How You Can Help Now And Later
This means supporting local businesses as much as you can now (the ones able to operate) and into the future once they can get back to full operation. It has been a tough couple of years for local business (forest fires, road closures) and 2020 won’t be any easier. This is why I encourage you to shop locally as much as you can as we are all in this together.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly community newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.