Somewhere, yes. But not there.
That was essentially Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA Selina Robinson’s logic for not prioritizing supportive housing at səmiq̓ʷəʔelə (formerly Riverview).
Among other problems, the land is too isolated, too tucked away and too far from everything.
Robinson’s logic, as best we can tell, is perfectly sound. But why then, was that isolated, tucked away, far-from-everything piece of land deemed the best place to put two paramedic stations charged with the emergency aid of a quarter-million people?
Our point today is not that putting the two stations side-by-side was a bad idea (though it was), our point is that we are the inheritors of a particular strain of stupidity that will cause people to die.
In Port Moody, someone complaining of chest pains and shortness of breath will likely wait nearly 12 minutes for the paramedics to arrive.
For comparison, the median response time in Victoria is almost five minutes faster. Anyone who’s been through a medical emergency understands that every minute before treatment can make a lasting difference in a patient’s quality of life and, sometimes, the difference between life and death.
Back in 2010, Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini blamed B.C. Ambulance Service for reneging on a deal that would have kept a paramedic station in the municipality. Trasolini suggested talks fell apart when the Ambulance Service refused to share the costs.
“Hold on – last time we got burned,” he said at the time.
During this summer’s heat wave, amid hundreds of deaths and a 200 percent spike in ambulance calls, one Port Moody woman pleaded for police to help after her father stopped breathing and she couldn’t get an ambulance to his Coquitlam home.
We can’t imagine how unimportant a municipality getting burned on cost-sharing felt to that woman in those moments.
Now, we’re keenly aware that many critics (and a few political opponents) unimpressed with Premier John Horgan’s we-did-our-best-under-the-circumstances self-assessment, want an independent review of the province’s handling of the heat wave. The implication seems to be that the government was incompetent.
For a moment, let’s suppose those critics are right. And then let’s acknowledge two things – one based on history and one based on science. First, this won’t be the last time we endure an incompetent government. And second, this definitely won’t be our last heat wave.
A recent scientific paper concluded climate change made the heat wave 150 times likelier than it would have been. However, one of the paper’s authors also suggested the possibility that temperatures have been and will continue to be pushed past thresholds previously thought to be unreachable.
We’re not where we need to be on reducing our use of fossil fuels. We’re not where we need to be on renewable energy. The least we can do is put paramedics where we need them. I’m not sure exactly where that station needs to go but we better put it somewhere.
Somewhere. But not there.