Photo George Le Masurier: Illustrating the power and importance of human touch.

 

What was the most important occurrence this year in the Comox Valley? Was this the Year of Women in politics? You can certainly make a case that it was. More women ran for public office and were elected than the prior year in all branches of Comox Valley local government.

The School District 71 Board of Education leads the way with six women and one male board member. Cumberland has a 4:1 ratio and Comox is 4:3. Lagging the field are Courtenay at 2:5. and the Comox Valley Regional District rural areas at 1:3.

Was this the Year of the Progressive movement? You could make a case for that, too. Courtenay council certainly shifted toward progressive thinking by rejecting former Mayor Larry Jangula and the many former councillors and mayors who tried to make a comeback out of retirement.

Was this the Year of Youth in local politics? Comox Town Council certainly got younger with three new councillors (all women) in their 30s, and first-time councillor Patrick McKenna trimed a year or two off both Hugh McKinnon and Marg Grant, incumbents did not seek re-election.

Courtenay dropped a couple of years, too, by replacing Jangula and Erik Eriksson. Cumberland stayed about the same, but new CVRD rural area directors Arzeena Hamir and Daniel Arbour are younger than their predecessors.

Was this the Year of Grassroots Activism? That’s a difficult one because the Comox Valley has a long history of engaged citizens fighting for perceived just causes. So maybe the strong and successful opposition to a water bottling operation in the Merville area and a 1,000 home subdivision in the Puntledge Triangle are just continuations of a long tradition.

Was this the Year of Legal Marijuana? We don’t think so. Canadians have been unabashedly consuming cannabis in various forms for years. But becoming the first G7 nation to legalize recreational use of marijuana is significant, and primarily for a reason that directly involves the Comox Valley.

Legalization means that scientists can finally officially study the cannabis plant and its effects on human consumers. And Canada’s leading cannabis scientist is Jonathan Page, who grew up here, and he is building the world’s first laboratory dedicated to the breeding and genetics of cannabis in his home community.

What was the highlight of the year for you?

Several hundred people jumped into the somewhat colder water off Goose Spit on Boxing Day for the annual Polar Bear Swim. But, was the water really that cold? Actually, water in the Strait of Georgia fluctuates only about 3 or 4 degrees Centigrade between summer and winter. So, it’s not really that much colder in December than it was in July.

Some Cumberland folks — incited by Meagan Coursons — have been talking about a New Years Day swim in Comox Lake. That would likely be colder than Goose Spit, especially if they jumped in at the mouth of the Cruikshank River.

That’s pretty much what Magali Cote did before Christmas. The commercial diver started at the west end of the lake and swam to the Cumberland boat ramp. So, she passed by the mouth of the Cruikshank flowing with icy glacier water. Cote was wearing thermal diving gear, but still ….

Our favorite scientific study of 2018 was done at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Researchers found that when women subjected to mild pain held hands with their male partner, the intensity of the pain diminished by 34 percent. We’re not sure why they only used mixed-sex couples. Brain scans showed the couple’s brain waves became synchronized while holding hands, and to a greater degree when pain was applied.

The lead researcher said the study “illustrates the power and importance of human touch.”

 

George Le Masurier

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