Chilliwack activism on the rise with Campbell’s attacks on seniors

Parkholm Lodge residents and their families rack up successes in fight to save their home

On April 23, the 85 residents of Parkholm Lodge heard that the Campbell government wanted to close down their home. Two days later, health authority and lodge officials confirmed that and tried to make the options sound wonderful at a hastily-called and emotionally-charged meeting for the seniors, their families and staff, most of whom are HEU members.

Outraged families had already contacted the media — who were barred from the meeting — to vent their anger at the closure notice. The coverage from local and provincial reporters was immediate and condemning and continues.

The media coverage was the first success for the Parkholm residents’ group which has quickly organized a very effective fight back campaign to save the lodge.

Within a week of the stunning news, two family spokespeople had joined a Seniors’ Network BC/B.C. Health Coalition news conference calling for a halt to seniors’ care facilities’ closures and launching their “Just Say No” to moving campaign.

Now, six weeks later, the Parkholm champions have held three marches, lobbied their municipal and provincial politicians relentlessly, and attracted more support from established advocacy groups such as the Old Age Pensioners’ Organization — B.C. and new, grassroots movements like the Chilliwack Coalition of Concerned Citizens (CCCC). And they’re circulating a petition to keep the lodge open (Chilliwack-Sumas MLA John Les presented the then 11,000-signature strong petition in the legislature last week).

They do have the ears of their elected representatives including MLA Les and Mayor Clint Hames who told the Chilliwack Times recently that “the 11,00-name petition protesting the decommissioning of Parkholm should tell the government something”.

“If 11,000 people signed a petition about something the city was doing, I’d be sitting up, paying real close attention,” he said.

The petition count as of June 3 was a little more than 15,000 and that was before they marched on Thursday. The CCCC will be featuring the plight of Parkholm at their rally on Saturday, June 15. That’s likely to prove another red-letter day for the Parkholm residents and their petition.