All posts by De Clarke

De Clarke is a sailor, photographer, retired software engineer and intermittent author who since the late 70’s has published both technical writing and essays on various topics ranging from feminism to technology and environmental issues. She has lived on Cortes since late 2011.

UBC Team: BC Sponge May Provide Covid Cure

UBC researchers have identified three biological compounds sourced in Canada that prevent COVID-19 infection in human cells. All three are derived from marine organisms, including a sea sponge native to Howe Sound.

The discovery paves the way for the development of new medicines for COVID-19 variants based on natural sources. BC’s ocean and forest ecosystems may contain a wealth of new antivirals waiting to be discovered.

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More Than Just A Store: Cortes Natural Food Co-op

“One of our mandates is to create good employment for Islanders who are here full-time year round. And for our youth returning in the summer as well. It’s a great place for people who move to the island to start out and get to know the culture of the island by working with us.” — Mary Lavelle

The Cortes Natural Food Co-op is one of the top five or six employers on the island, an attraction for tourists and visitors, and the go-to grocery store for many year-round residents. Active members enjoy several benefits, but membership is not required to shop there — so the store serves many times more people every year than its approximately 360 active members.

Employing 20 people even in the off-season, and with over $2 million in sales each year, the Co-op is a significant island business. But it also makes a conscious effort to be a good neighbour. As General Manager Mary Lavelle put it during our interview, “Staff, board, management — we’re always considering the community. That is one of the factors that we always consider in our decision making: our community. And I think that’s part of what makes us so special.”

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Housing on Cortes: an Interview with Mark Vonesch (part two)

Currents interviewed Mark Vonesch in early December. This is the second half of that interview, in which we dig a lot more deeply into issues related to housing on Cortes and in the local area: homelessness, employment, property values, AirBnB and much more.

We present here some excerpts from nearly 30 minutes of audio. Our interview covered quite a bit more ground: homelessness in Campbell River, and their approach to it; property tax structures and how they could be made more equitable; the related issue of a real estate market in which, as with rent, locals cannot compete with tourists and rusticators; the fundamental problem of treating housing as a speculative investment commodity. We recommend listening to the entire podcast for the most complete information.

Continue reading Housing on Cortes: an Interview with Mark Vonesch (part two)

Interview with Mark Vonesch, new Regional Director (part one)

In mid-November, Currents ran an article on the novel Finnish approach to homelessness, “Housing First,” and three local communities where low-cost housing had been created for those in need. We invited the new Area B Regional Director (Mark Vonesch) to comment on the housing issue generally, and on “Housing First” as a concept. Mark wasn’t able to respond in November, but agreed to an interview in early December.

The interview will be broadcast on CKTZ in two parts. The first part (airing on Monday Dec 12 at 8am) is a more general check-in with Mark; we ask him about his first few weeks on office, the three percent short-term rental tax which he successfully proposed at SRD, and his perception of the atmosphere at SRD with regard to Cortes business. We also begin to discuss the housing crisis on Cortes. In the second part (Tuesday Dec 13 at 8am) we discuss the housing issue in greater depth.

Continue reading Interview with Mark Vonesch, new Regional Director (part one)

When the Invisible Hand Fumbles: The AIRBnB Phenomenon

It’s pretty common knowledge that we have a housing crisis on Cortes. In fact, there’s a “housing crisis” in many — perhaps most — popular or attractive places in North America and Europe right now. One of the factors often mentioned is AirBnB. This phenomenon (AirBnB now has global impact and qualifies as a Phenomenon!) vividly illustrates the predicament of “good for one is not necessarily good for all” — also sometimes known as “smart for one, dumb for all”.

Continue reading When the Invisible Hand Fumbles: The AIRBnB Phenomenon