Animal rights activists did their best Wednesday afternoon to upstage the launch party at City Park for the upcoming third annual Kelowna Ribfest.
Representing both Okanagan Animal Save and Kelowna Animal Activists, about a dozen protesters lined the City Park boardwalk as Rotarians and civic officials gathered to unveil what’s in store for Kelowna Ribfest taking place Aug. 24 to 26 at City Park.
Of particular attention to the animal activists was the state of the pig farming industry.
Jodey Castricano, an associate professor at UBC and research fellow with the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, said the three pillars behind the protest are animal advocacy for the treatment of pigs, environmental devastation caused by factory farming and the cost to human health resulting from mass produced meat products.
“It is kind of ironic that the Rotary Club is working to support the JoeAnna House project at the hospital, the very place where people eating mass produced meat today have to go in dealing with all kinds of resulting degenerative diseases we now suffer from,” Castricano said.
She called the pig processing industry heartless in that pigs suffer greatly from being harvest exploited, often dieing when squeezed into transport trucks en route to the slaughterhouse, and not initially fatally killed when stun-gunned or gassed at the meat plant.
“They are often put in tanks and boiled alive basically,” she said.
The factory farming aspect, she says, is tied to climate change due to the release of methane gas from these farms into our atmosphere. Some scientists are now saying emissions from the animal agriculture sector surpass those of the transportation sector.
The expansion of the livestock inventories, expected to double by 2050, in intensive production systems contribute to the methane emissions from both the animals and their manure.
“That coupled with deforestation to clear land leads to the hothouse condition we see our planet evolving into,” she said.
The human health concern, she added, comes from the processed feed given to animals and genetic species cross-breeding that occurs. She said health issues such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease are increasing, which is partly blamed on the beef, pork and chicken products we consume today.
“In particular with pigs, it is ethically indefensible in 2018 to see this happening,” she said.
But Rotarians and their supporters didn’t let the protest overshadow the Kelowna Ribfest launch or from drawing attention to the main charitable beneficiary of this year’s event—JoeAnna’s House, a 20-room accommodation for out-of-town family of hospital patients.
The complex is in the midst of a city approval process for the targeted location at the northwest corner of KGH which is currently parking space.
“JoeAnna’s House will be a home away from home with a joint cooking area, joint living area, a place where people can feel safe, stay at an affordable place and connect with other people who are facing the same (medical issues) they are facing,” said Doug Rankmore, executive director of the Kelowna Hospital Foundation.
The foundation is leading a $4.5 million fund-raising drive with the support across the Southern Interior of the Prestige Hotel & Resorts chain, which committed $1 million to the project.
JoeAnna’s House is named after the Prestige founders Joe and Anna Huber.
Rankmore noted that one in every four patients admitted to KGH are not from the Central Okanagan, which amounts to about 100 people every day.
“A lot of these people are families with babies that are sick or born prematurely, and you can remember in your own lives when you were younger and facing a mortgage and everything was more uncertain, how stressful dealing with a health emergency can be,” Rankmore said.
“That is one of the most challenging times a family can face so JoeAnna’s House will be such a comfort to those families who need this kind of support.”
Bill Reynolds, chair of the Kelowna Ribfest, said planning for Ribfest started last October and will involve about 250 volunteers over the Aug. 22-24 event.
One major change from the previous two years was moving the event from mid-September to August, something Mayor Colin Basran endorsed at the launch as a positive family friendly addition to the downtown.
“Events like these bring people in our community downtown for all the right reasons,” Basran said.
Reynolds said other Rotarians, friends and family will step up to support the lead Ribfest organizer, Kelowna Sunrise Rotary supported by the lead corporate sponsor Interior Savings Credit Union.
Besides the opportunity to eat barbecued ribs, Kelowna Ribfest will also include live stage entertainment daily from noon to 9 p.m.; Kids Zone activities from noon to 7 p.m. on Aug. 23 and 24; and Family Fun Day on Aug. 24 with a host of fun activities and a free goodie bag for the first 500 families. For more information, check out the website www.ribfestkelowna.com.
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