Great ideas starting to flow


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Last week, I wrote about the widespread perception that our city’s political leaders lack the vision to guide Brandon into the future. I also reminded readers that we all have the opportunity — the responsibility even — to participate in that process.

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Last week, I wrote about the widespread perception that our city’s political leaders lack the vision to guide Brandon into the future. I also reminded readers that we all have the opportunity — the responsibility even — to participate in that process.

I ended that column by inviting readers to submit their ideas to our mayor, their city councilor, or even to me for forwarding to city council.

The response has been amazing. The emails I have received over the past few days illustrate that many of you care about the future of our city and, just as importantly, have great ideas that would really make a positive difference. Here are a couple that really caught my attention:

Reader M wrote this: “Lorne Avenue is a ‘share the road’ thoroughfare for east-west bike travellers. However, it’s riddled with potholes, parked cars with doors swinging open at a minute’s notice, and traffic that doesn’t know how much space to leave a bicyclist.

“It could easily become an incredibly beautiful stretch for bike commuters and walkers. I regularly bike [in the area], and I enjoy the smell of lilacs in spring, the sounds of children playing at recess, and the sound of pickle ball players enjoying their afternoon. Even in winter, it’s a pleasant place to walk or ride.

“I would like to propose an increase in safety so that I can bring my children with me on this thoroughfare, and so that it is more safe for everyone. I would like to propose that parking spaces be removed from one side (very few cars are parked on this street anyway, on both sides) and barriers or curb be added so that one side of the road can have a protected two-way bike lane.

“This would allow for safer biking, which is a green mode of transportation and cost-effective for people, too. The road is already intended for bikes, and adding a barrier would allow us to do so more safely.”

This is a great idea. It would be neither expensive nor disruptive to create a dedicated bike lane on Lorne Avenue from First to 18th streets. There is already a “share the road” corridor on Lorne, but it isn’t protected from traffic and is often blocked by cars.

Barriers would protect cyclists and skateboarders from vehicles, and moving bikes to that corridor would protect pedestrians and their pets from bikes on the sidewalks. Beyond that, such a corridor would likely encourage more people to bike to work downtown and, secondly, encourage core area residents of all ages to ride their bikes more often.

This idea could be a strong “win,” at a minimal cost. It’s absolutely worth trying next summer as a pilot project.

Reader P wrote to me “about the absence of urgent health care in Brandon on weekends and holidays. I believe city council should put some pressure on Shared Health to come up with a solution. My suggestion for a 24-hour urgent care clinic to take a lot of pressure off the ER is but one possible solution, but the citizens of Brandon certainly deserve better than they have now.”

This is also a great idea that addresses a serious problem in our city. Many of us have experienced an after-hours health problem that really isn’t serious enough to require a visit to the ER at the hospital, but the city’s walk-in clinics are closed and there is nowhere else to go. As a result, the ER ends up being jammed with people who have nowhere else to go. This causes longer wait times and needless stress and suffering.

It’s a problem that should have been solved long ago; a problem that previous mayors, city councilors and other leaders should have been fighting to have fixed. Reader P is pointing us in the direction of the obvious solution.

Brandon needs a 24-hour alternative to the ER at the hospital. Brandonites suffering from a non-emergent health issue need a place to go to other than the ER.

One simple solution is to create a 24-hour walk-in clinic at or near the hospital that could treat non-emergency health problems and also act as a “gatekeeper” (or triage centre) for our ER. That facility would be the entry point for all (non-ambulance) patients, with only those genuinely requiring the attention of ER doctors and nurses being sent to the ER for care. The rest would be treated at the walk-in clinic.

With such a facility, patients would get the care they need and the ER wouldn’t be clogged with patients who don’t really require the attention of ER staff. Non-urgent patients would have a viable 24-hour option, and ER wait times would likely be shortened.

Such an approach could save lives and improve Brandonites’ quality of life. That’s a win-win for our mayor, city councillors and other leaders to fight for in their discussions with Shared Health and Prairie Mountain Health.

Those are just two of the great ideas I received this week. Keep them coming. It’s amazing how much good can be accomplished when nobody cares about who gets the credit.


» Twitter: @deverynross

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