School Board Ventures Into Affordable Housing

November 18, 2017

This little article probably tells the entire story of how far the Gulf Islands school board got into affordable housing.

Not too far at all as far as I know.

Salt Spring Village Views

April 30, 2004

School Board Ventures Into Affordable Housing

by Tanya Lester

University students researching affordable housing for the school district’s Drake Road property on Salt Spring could be the silver lining in a storm cloud which has unleashed Phoenix Elementary building closure and a Gulf Islands four-day school week probability.

Salt Spring school trustee Mike Krayenhoff, who was elected to the school board’s Task Force on Land Development at its April meeting, is in the initial stages of discussing this possibility with a Washington, D.C. public policy professor who would like to send his graduate students here.

Krayenhoff said the sutdents, who would be taking a Sustainable Communities and Organizations course, could gather information on sustainable housing. At little or no salary cost to the district, she said they could research optimum density and how to maintain social health in such a housing development.

From George Washington University’s School of Business and Public Management, the students could also look at other communities who have done similar projects successfully while delving into practicalities such as water and sewer. “It’s about how to keep the flowers growing (in affordable housing),” said Krayenhoff. “It’s keeping it socially healthy and not (having) a ghetto.”

To this end, Krayenhoff suggested the development would provide housing for families as well as seniors and those in other walks of life. She stressed the task force is in its embryonic stage and members are open to community input. This includes interest in hearing from sustainable developers.

Krayenhoff indicated School District 64 has other property which could be used for housing, She pointed out the school division office at 112 Rainbow Road is in a prime Ganges location. Future school closures could open up the Salt Spring Middle School location at 120 Rainbow Road near Park Drive.

When asked why the school board did not become involved in affordable housing years ago as declining enrollment started to become evident, Krayenhoff said the school community was focused on other financial generating measures at the time.

There include the international students program and secondary learning centres on the outer Gulf Islands. Creating these school components helped the district avoid school closures when other districts were closing theirs, she said.

Phoenix Elementary School now conducts its alternative program in a building on the Drake Road property. Phoenix parents believe a school in the affordable housing development would be an asset for families inhabiting it.


To read more posts in this blog of eclectic stories and other forms of writing go to and

Tanya has now works for years as a psychic doing tea leaf readings and tarot as well as mediumship and gypsy cards in which she instills reiki energy. She is also a reiki master and housesits fulltime. For more on Tanya, text or phone her at 250-538-0086 or email her at Her website is

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader and Friends I Never Knew as well as Dreams and Tricksters besides Women Rights/Writes.


Poet reflects four stages of life

November 14, 2017

I know many, many, many, MANY people in North America, and around the world, have never gone to an author reading at a public library. Some of you reading this, may not even realize that this occurs.

Why is this?

For some reason, even though these public readings are free, the public usually steers clear of them as they would with the plague.

Think of it: it takes four years, on the average, for an author to produce a book manuscript. Much longer than a film or television director to create a movie or television series or for a play to be launched or for a music concert to be set up and performed but it seems that author are often shunned when they go public and do a reading from his or her work.

Add to this the fact, that writers usually write alone. To break their hermit lifestyle and venture out into the public is often a scary thing for them to do. When no one shows up, then, in some ways, it might be a relief but even more so, it is a humiliation.

Trust me on this: I am an author.

Here is an article I produced when a poet came to a public library to do a public reading in the 1980’s in southern Saskatchewan, who actually had a large audience: for a writer:

Borderland Reporter

Wedsnesday, March 2, 1983

Poet reflects four stages of life

by Tanya Lester

Moose Jaw Poet Gary Hyland took his 30 member audience through the four stages of life in his reading at the Coronach Library last Thursday night. He began by saying his poetry is “reality with humour.”

Mr. Hyland, who was invited to read his poetry as part of the new library facilities public opening celebrations, started the evening with selections for children which included poems from his first published book called “Home Street.”

“Apple peels, apple peels, I get lots of apple peels when Mom makes pie,” Mr. Hyland read. The nonsensical poem went on to describe what he did with the apple peels. For instance, he “stuck one in a car exhaust.”

“Back then you didn’t have a lot of toys,” Mr. Hyland joked before reading his next poem called “Sma;; Fry” which was about a little boy who hated bullies but did everything to tempt them into tormenting him.

Another poem called “Mrs. R. waits for the Bus” almost landed Mr. Hyland with a lawsuit because, as he explained it was inspired by an actual woman that he had known in his boyhood. After the poem was published, Mr. Hyland got a phone call. “Is that supposed to be me?” the caller asked without even identifying herself.

It turned out to be Mrs. R and Mr. Hyland ended up having tea with her for a couple of hours until he finally persuaded her out of taking him to court.

It was the picture which ran with the poem that bothered Mrs. R. although the poem, too, was far from flattering. “Her face is like a war zone,” was how Mr. Hyland described the woman who scared him so much when he had to wait beside her for the bus as a boy. “The bus is late. There may be bloodshed,” is the way the poem ends in reflecting the young Mr. Hyland’s terror of Mrs. R.

For the adolescent stage of life section, Mr. Hyland read exerts from the latest of his three published poetry boos. One poem in the book, called “Just Off Main”, which is a series of poems about teenage boys growing up in Moose Jaw during the 1950’s, outlines the nicknames the boys have given each other.

They are names like “Scrawny”, “Zit, and “Bumper” which are “taboo to teachers” and are “sure to repel parents” but sound much better than their real names which are “Lawrence” and “Russell”, etc.

Another poem described the Elvis Presley hairstyle look. Mr. Hyland made sure not to exclude the several children in the audience by telling them that this hairstyle is similar to Fonzie’s on Happy Days. In the poem, one line which emphasizes Mr. Hyland’s sense of humour and talent for description says “even in a blizzard, your hair freezes like a helmet” with the grease stuck on it.

Yet another poem was about a teenager who hangs a brassiere on his car aerial and tells his friends it is the remnant of his first conquest. His friends are impressed until the boy’s mother comes along and claims the brassiere as her own.

For the poems about adolescence, Mr. Hyland had to add the occasional “bleep” in order to not offend the younger audience members. But his quick wit did not mellow a bit for the adult and senior citizen stages in his reading.

For the adult section, one poem described two kissing lovers as “knawing at respective crooked dentures.” Even the poem about an old person contemplating death, in his last life stage, is funny.

It starts out sober enough talking about the old person who will “remove my shoes and feel the cool crush of death.” But then: “Someone will bring me a dark rum and coke and I’ll say rum and coke? Who was rum and coke?” brings the poem back to humour.

Mr. Hyland is also a teacher at Riverview Collegiate in Moose Jaw and worked as a radio announcer in the past. He told the audience that there is no poet in Canada who can financially survive from his writing alone.

Mr. Hyland explained that a Canadian poet has a best selling book if it sells 2,000 copies but, even then, the poet only gets 10 per cent of the book sales profits.

For example, the winner of the $1,000 poetry book contest presently running in Saskatchewan will have probably had to work so many hours that the prize money would amount to about a $2.00 an hour rate of pay for the book, Mr. Hyland said.

The poet has been writing for about 20 years and started writing in grade 7 or 8 when he used to write poems for his fellow students to hand in to the teacher. His first poem was published in a university newspaper, but he still gets rejections from publishers.

Mr. Hyland has worked extensively with the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild and is also involved with Thunder Creek Co-op and Coteau Books, which is a publishing company. He suggested that people might like reading Lois Symie who authored “They Shouldn’t Make You Promise That” and Edna Alford’s “A Sleep Full of Dreams” about her experiences working in a northern Saskatchewan senior citizens’ home. A new book of Mr. Hyland’s poetry will be published in the fall and another is also being made ready for publication.

Mr. Hyland closed in saying Saskatchewan writers are better known in Eastern Canada than any other authors in the Western Canadian provinces.                                                                                                                             -END-

Tanya Lester’s book are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew (both available for purchase from the author or from as well as Women Rights/Writes and Dreams & Tricksters. Her books are also available in some library systems.

Read more posts on this eclectic blog of newspaper articles, poems and stories by Tanya Lester when you go to and

Tanya Lester is a psychic who specializes in tea leaf reading, tarot and also mediumship and gypsy card reading all instilled with reiki energy as she is a reiki master. She has done 1000s of readings in Canada, the United States and Europe.She also housesits fulltime. To contact Tanya, phone or text her at 250-538-0086, email her at or go to her website at

Equal Times — Feb. 2, 1983

November 3, 2017

When I was working on the Gravelbourg Gazette in Saskatchewan, I was starting to make contacts with editors on the bigger daily newspapers in the province.

Destiny intervened and, in the end, I am glad it did as I spend everyday now giving psychic readings instilled with reiki to people. It is incredibly enjoyable and a spiritual high for me to help people in their problem solving and healing in this way.

But in the following editorial, I write about a path I could have taken if my editor/publisher had not decided to load his printing machine on the back of his pick-up truck in the dark of night and leave his unpaid bills behind.

Such are the turning points in life:

Gravelbourg Gazette

February 2, 1983

Equal Times

by Tanya Lester

Journalists are a funny breed of people. We are often taught or learn or told to be competitive. The idea, especially for journalists on larger newspapers, radio stations and television stations, is to get the ‘hot’ news story first.

Sometimes this is fine. If Woodward and Bernstein had let other journalists know that they were working on the President Nixon Watergate scandal, they never would have become so famous.

And from a news point of view, if other journalists had found out about the story before Woodward and Bernstein were ready to publish it, the story would have come out before all the facts were gathered. This would have given Nixon and his aids time to arrange a cover-up and possibly Woodward and Bernstein could have even been brought to court for libel.

But let’s get back to reality here. Reporting in small town Saskatchewan is a long way from reporting in big city Washington, D.C. Often journalists working in a small town are the sole reporters on their newspapers. Story ideas, whether ‘hot’ news or human interest, can be difficult to find.

This is why myself and a number of other rural reporters have got together to form a rural reporters’ association. One of the aims of the association is to serve as a vehicle for reporters to exchange story ideas.

For example, when I wrote the story about the federal government constituency boundary changes, I worked on it with some help from a radio news reporter in Swift Current. Having met him through the association, he phoned to get some information about what the Member of Parliaments in this area thought about the changes. I was able to give him the MP’s Ottawa phone number.

In exchange, he was able to tell me who the present MP in the Swift Current area is as this was important to my story because the proposed changes would mean Gravelbourg would be part of the new Swift Current-Assiniboia riding. We also exchanged details concerning what the government bureaucrats involved in making the changes were saying to the press.

These are small details but you would be surprised how much less time it takes to write a story when a reporter can work with another journalist on it.

The story also ended up in the Borderland Reporter as it had implications for readers in the Coronach area. Since then, Jeff Rosen, who is the editor of that paper and also a member the Rural Reporters’ Association, has run other stories of mine including one on MLA Allan Engel’s opinions on the Power Plant and CPR rail line closure hearings as well as another story of the increase of students enrolled in French immersion programs. Both those stories pertained to his readership area just as much as they had to our newspaper readers.

Of course, it hasn’t been a one-way street. Jeff’s stories have sometimes been run in the Gazette and some of the stories that he gets from me are changed, and run with both my and his byline, so they will better relate to his readers. I’ve got a lot of story ideas from him, too.

Often I also get my article ideas from Gazette readers as well. Some of you will drop around to the office with names of people to interview. Often these lead to some nice human interest stories.

Then, there are the story ideas I get from people I am interviewing as the subject of another story. Recently, Norma Dreger, who also used to work on a small newspaper, gave me several story ideas when I was over at her house interviewing her for last week’s Beta Sigma Phi article.

I hope to use a few of Norma’s ideas over the next couple of months.  One, I want to use in the very near future, if I can get your help in supplying me with information.

This story idea appeals to me because often people who don’t have a special hobby or profession or who are not involved in politics never have a article written about them even though they may have a very interesting story to tell. It’s just that its difficult for me to find them.

So, the story idea is this: I want to interview, take a photograph, and write a story about the grandparents, or grandfather or grandmother who has the most grandchildren.

This is what I want you to do: send me or phone me with the name or names of the grandparent(s) who you might think has the most grandchildren.

This is what I want you to do: either send me or phone me with the name or names of the grandparent(s) who you might think has the larger number of grandchildren. It could be you or your parents or someone you know….

The grandparent or grandparents should be living within the Gazette readership area which runs about as far north as the Shamrock area, west to the Ponteix area, south to the Mankota area, and east to around Mazenod and Melaval. Anyone who lives within these general boundaries could qualify for the story.

The grandparent or grandparents with the most number of grandchildren will be asked to tell me a little bit about their own lives, their children’s stories and their grandchildren’s stories…..

The grandparents will get enough copies of that issue of the Gazette to send to their children and grandchildren.

I hope to hear from you with those entries soon!

Next week: Equal Pay in “Equal Times”.


Tanya Lester is now a psychic who specializes in tea leaf reading and tarot. She is also a reiki master and housesitter. For more on her work, go to her website:

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader and Friends I Never Knew that can be purchased from the author or from   She has also authored Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes. These books are also available in some library systems.

More posts on this blog of eclectic stories can be read by going to and




In the name of those with PAWS

September 17, 2017

Animals in our homes add so much to our lives.

Those who work to make sure that dogs and cats as well as others that have pet potential are given a place to stay in a home environment do wonderful work. Often it takes one person with a vision and passion to begin such a group.

The following is a story about one such organization:

Gulf Islands Driftwood — Penders Edition

Wednesday, August 9, 2000

In the name of those with PAWS

by Tanya Lester

Despite Karin Campbell’s recent appearance around the Driftwood Centre and at the Farmer’s Market with a little creature in a baby sling, there is not a new addition to her family.

The fuzzy little one was only a temporary visitor at Campbell’s home on its way to being adopted. Still, for the short time it was fostered by Campbell, there is no doubt it got lots of tender loving care.

The creature was not a human baby but a kitten. Campbell, as a founding member of Pender Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), firmly believes that all animal species are equal and should be treated with the same respect.

When two kittens were found at the Corbett Farm, PAWS paid for their medical check-up, vaccinations and deworming. Members then fostered them while a search for a permanent home was conducted.

The shyer of the two spent four days with Campbell. During that time, the family worked hard to socialize with the animal. Campbell took the kitten with her in a sling as she went through her daily routine.

“When she first came home with me she could cower in her cage and growl at me,” Campbell said. “By the end of her stay here she would come out of her cage by herself and explore and play and sit around with us on the couch and purr. It was the first time I have done any fostering and it was very rewarding.”

Campbell added that she is happy a home was found for the kittens and grateful for donations made to PAWS by the Penders community. “If no one had adopted them or we didn’t have the funding we would have been forced to take them to the SPCA in Victoria where they would not have had a very good chance of being adopted.”

Founded in 1996 by a former Penders veterinarian, PAWS fills some of the functions the SPCA meets in more populated areas. The non-profit organization’s mandate is to help domestic animals , which have no apparent owners, and wildlife in distress.

It also assists animal owners who are financially or physically unable to care for their animals. PAWS’ third goal is to seek the reduction or prevention of harm to animals through education.

Over the last year, PAWS — whose directors are Campbell, Marti Tilley and Maureen Stone — has assisted in the medical care, spaying, neutering and adoption of 19 cats and dogs as well as eight wild animals including birds.

PAWS urges animal owners to spay or neuter pets because “one plus one equals six.”

The organization has also helped pay for the euthanization of injured deer when the veterinarian is called to give the animal lethal injection.

Also, it brought in Linda Wells from the Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre on Salt Spring to give a presentation and made a small donation to the group.

Campbell is involved in PAWS volunteer work simply because she cares about animals. When she lived in a boarding house while attending university in Victoria, she kept a pet rat as she was not allowed to have a bird or cat.

Probably her most unusual pets were two Amazon parrots which she has adopted out with one still living on the Penders. Her family cat is more suitable for Campbell now that she has two small children.

“For me, I just find them absolutely fascinating and good company and they always love you,” said Campbell.

“They’re much better listeners than people are. I believe it’s absolutely necessary to have pets. They provide emotional support that humans don’t. Also, I really believe that animals have every right to be here and have to be respected as much as people are.”

Sometimes, Campbell thinks she would like to own a hobby farm. Then she remembers that caring for an animal is a big responsibility. For example, Amazon parrots live to be 80 or 90 years old.

PAWS has received donations from many individuals, who often give money after being aided by the organization. The Pender Island Community Services Society has also generously contributed to PAWS…..etc.




Fire hall occupies fire society’s time

September 16, 2017

Anyone who has ever seen a Douglas fir or Sitka spruce will immediately understand why fire fighters and fire halls are of great interest to anyone who lives on B.C.’s Gulf Islands.

One of those trees catches on fire on any of the Gulf Island and that island has to be evacuated quickly; extremely quickly before the entire island goes up in flames.

Here is a story about possible fire hall construction on North Pender Island:

The North Pender Fire Protection Society has hired one contractor, partially declined a volunteer offer and started the search for a construction manager.

According to society chairman Dave Wightman, the call has gone out for a construction manager in the event that residents vote in favour of a new fire hall building in the September referendum.

“This person would be our agent to look out for our interests because we don’t have the expertise on the board,” Wightman said.

Six individuals have been asked to bid on the job. Three are based on Pender; the others are from the Mainland.

Wightman speculated that it is likely that local contractors will opt to wait for contract work on the fire hall as whomever is hired as manager will not be eligible to bid on that work.

The manager would be there to “protect the budget” for the society.

Wightman said Ian Heslop’s offer to head up a volunteer crew to construct the new fire hall, after being seriously considered, has been partially declined. The society has to use a registered coordinating professional because it is using tax revenues and must build to earthquake preparedness standards.

It is hoped the volunteer crew can be used in some aspect of the project.

In the meantime, Stonebridge Construction Ltd., on South Pender has been awarded a contract to do $4,600 worth of repairs on the existing North Pender fire hall.

In compliance with a Workers Compensation Board inspection order, a door frame to one of the equipment bays must be repaired. A supporting post will be installed in the hall’s main room under one of the beams and a staircase outside the hall will be torn down and removed.


To read more of the posts in this blog of eclectic stories and subjects, go to and

Tanya’s books are: Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew (both are available for purchase from the author or from, Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes. There are copies of these books in several libraries.



Friends I Never Knew

September 9, 2017

I have written four books. I have self-published three and had one published by a publishing company.

Anyone who thinks this is ‘a piece of cake’ has never attempted to write a book.

Trust me on this one.

Here is the promotional blurb that gynergybooks/Ragweed Press personnel used for my book,  Friends I Never Knew:

New Books by gynergy books

Spring 1992

Friends I Never Knew

Tanya Lester

Tara has exiled herself on an island, away from all that is familiar. She is resolved to finally write about the extraordinary women she has known through her work in the women’s movement, and whose stories she has jotted down, over the years, in her green notebook. But as she pieces together and labours over the scattered fragments and sketches, she finds herself telling another, unexpected story: her own. ‘Friends I Never Knew’ is an eloquent testimony to the power and necessity of storytelling.

Tanya Lester’s stories, reviews and articles have been widely published, and she has worked as an editor and playwright. ‘Friends I Never Knew’ is Tanya Lester’s first novel. She lives in Winnipeg with her son Luke. (Blogger’s note: I did at the time of publication).


Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader and Friends I Never Knew (available for purchase from the author or from as well as Dreams and Tricksters and Women Rights/Writes. These books are also available in many library systems.

To read more posts on this blog of Tanya’s stories on a wide range of topics go to and

Tanya works as a psychic specializing in tea leaf reading, tarot and mediumship and instills her divination with reiki energy as well as housesitting. For more information, go to her web site: or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and Twitter. Her email is and her phone number is 250-538-0086.


Single parents: A societal realit in need of support

August 22, 2017

I think in a lot of ways, it is still quite difficult to be a single parent and to not be lumped in with criminals.

What I mean by this is that while society might now be okay with having sex outside of marriage, it is not okay if there is visible proof of it in the form of a child.  Then, the single mother’s morals are questions and can be even confused with her seen as being a criminal.

Bizarre, isn’t it?

Read on:

Canadian Dimension?


Single parents: A societal reality in need of support

by Tanya Lester

On a recent CBC Radio Sunday Morning report, a journalist repeatedly lumped single parenting among Chicago’s black “underclasses,” together with social problems such as poverty and drug addiction. Yet one single parent said she decided to become a mother because she believed it would make her life more stable and help her stop taking drugs.

Whether the young woman was able to meet these personal goals was not explored in the report.. But the point is: in an age when sex outside of marriage and divorce has become  quite acceptable, an increasing number of women and men are not ‘ending up’ as single parents; they are choosing this role. Lone parent families reached 853,640 in 1986, which is up 139,630 over the 1981 Census of Canada figures. For many of us, the choice we made is not the problem; society’s failure to accept us is. This lack of support is a key factor contributing to our isolation, overwork and poverty.

When we decide to listen to the ticking of our biological time clocks or free ourselves from partnerships that are no longer working, single mothers are confronted with the question: ‘But what about a male role model?’ We even ask it of each other.

Male Role Model?                                                                                                                                    My father is my child’s male role model. He sees my son, Luke, regularly once a week. That is m’ore often that I sometimes saw my father when I was growing up. One single mother pointed out to me that male role model should not be confused with ‘positive’ male role model. Another said he husband never parented their six children when they were married. Some find the father lives up to the parenting image more effectively in a joint custody situation. One told me she spent a lot of energy protecting her children from her partner’s physical abuse when they were together.

But somehow the picture of the family is not complete without a husband. “The only thing I noticed that bothered me during my pregnancy was people not accepting I was a single mother,” says Suzanne Mitchell in Being Pregnant by Daphne Morrison. “Like telling people I was pregnant, in stores…they’d say ‘what do you and your husband want? and I’d say, ‘I’m not married,’ and they’d say, ‘Oh, ‘ that sort of quiet, ‘Oh, I see.’ End of conversation…In the hospital , calling me Mrs. Mitchell, constantly, even though I would correct them and say my name was Suzanne Mitchell…that I wasn’t married. They totally ignored me.”

For me, it was when I took Luke on holidays last summer. The travel agent insisted on “Mrs. Lester and infant” for the airplane tickets. Single mother Pat Rawson mentioned the irritation “Mrs. Rawson” from telephone solicitors.

“…Just from watching my parents fight, and my mother’s friends and their fights,” Mitchell continues. “They’d come over and cry on each other’s shoulders about their shitty, rotten husbands, and how they wished their husbands would die. So I decided that I would have kids… and that I would never get married. I didn’t feel bad about that part, I just wanted people to accept it.”

So let’s accept single-parent families and let’s admit that the perfect family: two parents with 2.5 kids living in harmony in the suburbs– never has been the reality for most of us…


Tanya’s books are: Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew (for purchase from the author or from, Women’s Rights/Writes and Dreams and Tricksters. All these books are available in some library systems.

Tanya now works as a psychic and is a fulltime housesitter as well as reiki master. To getting a reading or find out more about her work , go to or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google. You can also contact her directly at or 250-538-0086 cell.

To read more posts in this blog of eclectic previously published writing, go to and















This is blog of the many articles published by and about me over several decades as a freelance writer and a tealeafreader/tarot reader/psychic.