Enjoy Ribfest... or don't

Two & Out
By James Peters
August 11, 2017 - 2:30pm Updated: August 11, 2017 - 5:12pm

KAMLOOPS — Dr. Michael Mehta is a reasonable man.

An expert in his field of environmental studies, he presents a unique perspective that not all of us hold, but he deserves to be heard nonetheless. 

He's not off his rocker, as some online comments seemed to suggest after he recommended this week that the Rotary Ribfest planned for this weekend in Riverside Park be called off

Mehta believes we aren't taking this thick smoke seriously enough, and Interior Health isn't doing enough to drive the message home. 

Having the local health authority flex its muscles, according to Mehta, might snap the public to attention. 

He's concerned too many people lured to Riverside Park by the promise of world-class, fall-off-the-bone grilled pork will have their health put at risk by the choking smoke. 

Will the organizers of Ribfest call it off? 

No they won't, and they really shouldn't have to. 

Even with this major fundraiser running, you can guarantee Rotary will already experience a challenging year. 

Because of the wildfire crisis and subsequent widespread evacuations, there will be volunteer burnout in Kamloops and donors will be tapped out as well. 

Ribfest as an event won't fare as well as usual, thanks to those same reasons, and the possibilities ribbers, exhibitors and entertainers will pull out due to the air quality. 

It will all add up to bad news for Rotary, and we should all consider that if we are looking for good targets for our donation dollars in the future. 

And attendees will stay home in droves, too. 

That's their right, and that's their decision. 

Given the full and complete information, people will make their own decisions about their own health, and whether standing in the smoke for hours at a time is a good idea. 

Mehta has done the community a great service with the awareness he has provided both through comments to the media, and through the network of air monitoring stations he oversees. 

More and more people are using those monitoring stations to make decisions about outdoor activity, not only during this unprecedented wildfire season, but every other day of the year.

Arming oneself with the right information is just as important as arming oneself with the right mask to filter out the smoke.

After that, we're all free to make our own choices about our own safety, even if that choice is ultimately a dangerous one.