Tuesday, July 29, 2014

With Northwest Transmission Line now live, Northwest development proposals may spring to life

Considering the high profile that BC Hydro gave to the project when they first announced it and as progress was made in its construction, the turning of the switch that activated the Northwest Transmission Line appears to have come and gone with little in the way of public celebration.

The word that the NTL was now active came through a press release last week, the notice of the energizing of the transmission line, mentioned almost in passing as part of an information package for Prince Rupert Council.

The project started up in January of 2012 and features 1,100 transmission structures and 2,100 kilometres of wire starting north of Terrace and continuing up through Nass and then on towards Meziadin Junction  for some 344 kilometres.

The cost of the first phase of the project is 746 million dollars, with 310 million received from the Federal Green Infrastructure Fund and from Alta Gas.

Plans are in place for a  further 92 kilometre extension of the project north to Bob Quinn Lake.

The electrification northwards is anticipated to help service the growing mining and exploration industry which is developing in areas of the Nass and north beyond Stewart.

Some background on the Northwest Transmission Line can be found from the BC Hydro site, which has this blog item on the project.

For other items related to Hydro Electric developments in the Northwest see our Archive page

Past items related to mining activity in the region can be found here.

 Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Monday, July 28, 2014

Petronas seeks out some Federal incentive before final investment decision

At the moment, the one LNG proposal for the North Coast that appears to have the most momentum is that of the Pacific Northwest LNG project, a major industrial terminal development that is proposed for Lelu Island.

 Petronas the Malaysian based energy company has been a presence in the region since the prospects of terminal development first started to be drawn up. Since Pacific Northwest LNG opened their downtown office on Third Avenue, Prince Rupert has seen a string of other proposals from a wide range of proponent outlined for the region.

However, for many, the Pacific Northwest LNG proposal seems to be the one that is the most advanced along the Environmental review process and the Petronas project is the one that appears to have lined up the right amount of partners in investment, clients for product, pipeline providers and gas field deposits.

All of which would seem to offer up some sign that they are getting close to their final decision on the reported 11 billion dollar investment required for the Lelu Island project.

Before they get to that point however, it would seem that Petronas is waiting for a sign from Ottawa that their investment is welcome on the North Coast.

The Financial Post outlines the nature of discussions that will take place in Ottawa this week, as a consortium led by Petronas seeks to obtain capital cost allowances for LNG development. Changes to federal agreements that could provide for a significant jump in the amount of tax concessions and allowances that the LNG proponents could realize for any projects that may get underway.

The full article on the Petronas push for the Feds and the many aspects required before the Federal government can consider the changes can be found here.

It isn't the first time that Petronas officials have issued a cautionary note towards government officials in Canada.

During a high profile LNG summit in May, the CEO of Petronas warned of the potential to break investment models through any excessive tax regimens.

We highlighted some of those discussions from the May conference here.

Part of the frustration for the International investors for the range of British Columbia LNG proposals is the nature of Canadian bureaucracy and the unknown tax situation that they might face, should they decide to move forward with their investment plans.

While on the other side of the fiscal argument, both Provincial and Federal governments are looking to find some financial reward to their coffers from the accelerated level of development of Gas reserves and the placement of terminal facilities in British Columbia.

The province in particular has made much of the financial windfall that LNG could bring to the province, though it appears that their financial notes and those of the proponents of the industry may feature a bit of a difference of fair value.

The discussions and negotiations that seem to be taking place at the moment offer up a glimpse into the many factors that go into such high stakes investment decisions and how we for the most part are just observers to the process.

Somewhere we imagine, is the sweet spot of an agreement, whether both sides find it will probably in the end decide as to whether any of the North Coast LNG proposals ever make it to the construction phase.

You can review our extensive listings of items related to LNG development here, for a more detailed review of the Pacific Northwest proposal for the North Coast see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

When it Comes to Watson Island proposal, few details yet to be delivered

Perhaps it's just a matter of asking the right question, or maybe with the first opportunity of a public forum, the City may volunteer a bit more background when it comes to the July 16 exclusivity agreement with a company that wishes to develop a small scale LNG terminal at Watson Island.

The topic does not appear on the Agenda of items for Tonight's Prince Rupert City Council session, but the evening could offer two opportunities for a bit of disclosure from the Mayor and Council if they are inclined.

The first through the Committee of the Whole session, which allows for public questions. Where perhaps an inquisitive citizen may pose a question that allows for the City to shed a bit of light on the plans of Watson Island LNG and what that company offered that made their proposal so tempting for the City of Prince Rupert.

If Rupertites remain shy during that public opportunity, there is always the Regular Council session where perhaps one of our six elected councillors may wish to act as our advocates in the quest for just a bit more information.

When it comes to the proposal and the exclusivity agreement that was first announced last week by way of a press release from the City, there really hasn't been much in the way of expansive review of what to expect moving forward.

The plans of WILNG as the proposed developer is called, seem fairly limited for the moment when it comes to their proposal for a small scale LNG development on the Watson Island site.

That small scale of project on its own might raise a few eyebrows, considering the cost recovery issues related to the large scale proposals already in the works for the region. Many might wonder how a small scale LNG project would generate enough revenue and provide for a high level of employment in an industry where it seems that large and expensive is the norm.

Perhaps Council might be able to advise if or when the proponents behind WILNG, are preparing to provide for an open house or public presentation on their proposal,  similar to many of the other LNG proponents that have done so.

A review which would better outline their project and what the region may anticipate from it.

The July 16th media announcement does seem to provide for the need of more information, particularly when it comes to such issues as a timeline of development, financial backing for the project, export contracts for the LNG when shipped or supply of gas to feed the terminal, just to name a few of the many questions that pop into mind when it comes to LNG.

Last week, the weekly paper reviewed that there may even be questions when it comes to access to the site by LNG ships, something that if not addressed, would probably bring the export terminal project to a fairly quick end.

From the City side of the discussion, other than the usual statement as to the goal of returning Watson Island to the tax rolls and its hoped for return as an active economic engine, there had been little in the way of an update on that file of many layers.

The Mayor touched on the ongoing legal proceedings regarding the site, but did not provide any timeline or update on progress on those issues.

Likewise, the City mentions that they are seeking assistance on the wish to remove some of the environmental problems from the site, yet again there is no particular listing of the steps they are taking to address the situation.

No mention of the results of any meetings with government officials, or even if Jennifer Rice, the region's NDP MLA has been enlisted lend a hand and to try and find some movement from the provincial government on the issue.

The media release of last week seems to have left us with more questions than answers when it comes to the developments from every one's favourite coffee shop topic of "what's going on with Watson Island".

Public sessions of Council and the opportunity for more information seem few and far between in the summer months, tonight's is the first gathering of our elected officials in three weeks, with the next one not scheduled until the third week of August.

If City Council is looking to engage the public in their approach to the issues of Watson Island, Council's session of tonight offers up the podium for a timely explanation of the City's side of the latest news from the island.

There are more items on the Watson Island file available on our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Friday, July 25, 2014

Environmental Groups launch Skeena 2050 survey process

Two environmental groups are sending volunteers across the Northwest this summer, seeking opinion and information from area residents about the future of the region.

With a wide range of industrial projects from the Bullkley Valley through to the North Coast currently in the development or proposal stage, the survey provides an introduction of sorts for the two groups to start up a discussion with those that live in the Northwest.

The project which has been put together by the Skeena Wild Conservation Trust and Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition  appears to be designed to engage Northwest residents in some discussion points on development in the region.

Through the ongoing door to door campaign, residents from Houston to Prince Rupert will be offered the opportunity to provide answers to seven questions.

What's important to you and your family?

How do you get your voice included in decisions that affect you?

Do you feel the community and region are heading in the right direction>

Do you think there is a tipping point regarding development?

Do you eat food harvested from the surrounding land and waters?

Is there an outstanding land question in BC?

Considering the future, what do you want for this region?

You can review some of the feedback thus far from their work as of late June from this update page.

Those who may wish to participate but fear they may miss their opportunity can arrange for a visit by contacting the organizers by phone or text at 250-975-0963 or through a contact form on the  Skeena 250 website.

A video presentation that outlines what the process is all about can be found here

You can learn more about the initiative from the Skeena2050 website

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

North Coast MLA retains critics' roles under new NDP leader John Horgan

John Horgan, has put together his shadow cabinet team of  critics for the NDP opposition in Victoria and for North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, there won't be much of a learning curve required.

In a letter to Ms. Rice from Tuesday, Mr. Horgan outlined her appointment as Official Opposition Spokesperson for Northern and Rural Health and Deputy Spokesperson for Children and Family Development, both roles that the MLA had experience with under the leadership of Adrian Dix.

Mr. Horgan is splitting his collective of opposition members into two categories when it comes to their tasks in Victoria. A new approach to provide the NDP with a more direct approach to the policies and initiatives from Premier Christy Clark's government

Ms. Rice and thirteen other MLA's are being directed to what is called the Stronger Communities Team, while eighteen other MLA's, including Skeena's Robin Austin, have been placed in the Economic Sector of the Horgan shadow cabinet.

Mr. Austin is Mr. Horgan's selection as Official Spokesperson for Northern Economic Development.

In his correspondence to Ms. Rice, the NDP Leader outlines the expectations that come from a position in the shadow cabinet and touches on the focus that he intends to bring to Victoria in the fall when the Legislature resumes sitting in October.

As part of that focus, Horgan will be keeping a close watch on the handling of the LNG file, which the NDP believes the Liberal government of Christy Clark is mismanaging.

I expect you to spend the period leading to the fall legislative session reaching out to and meeting with individuals, businesses and organizations in your portfolio area. I recently completed a tour of the Interior. 

I was told repeatedly by business and community leaders that they feel ignored by a Premier and government entirely fixated on LNG development and unable to dea! with other problems or help other people. You know my opinion that LNG exports present an opportunity that the Premier and government are mismanaging. 

Equally concerning is the Premier's apparent inability to listen to or act for anyone else at the same time. This makes it imperative that we work to understand what is important to people in sectors and communities across the province and to advocate on their behalf in the legislature and beyond. -- John Horgan introducing his new shadow cabinet 

In his correspondence to MLA's, Mr. Horgan also provides a checklist of sorts for shadow cabinet members to follow, as they take up their duties in their role as critic.

The Shadow Cabinet has been meeting as part of a two day caucus in Vancouver this week, outlining their plan ahead for the Fall session and what key issues they intend to take to the BC Liberals.

More on what the NDP Leader and his shadow cabinet will be working on for the fall can be found in this media release from the NDP 

Some North Coast residents that might have been hoping for a higher profile for their MLA and with it an opportunity for a larger presence within the opposition ranks, will no doubt be a bit disappointed with the announcement of Tuesday.

Perhaps observing that even after two years of service in the Legislature, Ms. Rice has yet to be tasked with a higher profile portfolio that might have more resonance to the North Coast.  One that might have offered up the opportunity for her to deliver to the Legislature more of an overview to issues of importance to the region that she represents.

You can review Mr. Horgan's letter of confirmation to the North Coast MLA here.

For a full review of his shadow cabinet appointments see the mandate letters delivered to each NDP MLA here.

For more items of interest on developments from Victoria see our Legislature archive page.

Cross Posted from the North Coast Review

Monday, July 21, 2014

Woodside seeks export permit for proposed LNG terminal at Grassy Point

Add Australia's Woodside Energy to the list of those actively moving forward their plans for an LNG presence on the North Coast.

According to the National Post, Woodside made its application to the National Energy Board on Friday, seeking permission to export 20 million tonnes of LNG for a period of 25 years from their proposed terminal location at Grassy Point.

Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman was quick to highlight the development as yet another milestone in LNG development in the province and today offered up comments as to what Woodside brings to the province when it comes to the province's LNG strategy.

“This is a company with experience operating natural gas projects around the world, and they have chosen British Columbia to invest in tomorrow’s energy potential. 

 “We look forward to working with Woodside to create jobs and economic prosperity in our province as part of a sole proponent agreement signed last year.”

As of today, the full filing has not yet been added to the inventory of listings at the National Energy Board.

When the Woodside filing is updated the listing will provide a short term blue print as to the process ahead for the Woodside application.

We have more on the background to the Woodside proposal for Grassy Point available on our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Friday, July 18, 2014

Imperial Oil sets July 24th for Public Presentation on Tuck Island LNG proposal

Mark Thursday, July 24th on your calendars and electronic devices, that's the date that Imperial Oil and Exxon-Mobil has chosen to outline the scope of their proposed LNG Terminal development for the east side of Tuck Inlet, providing for the first public overview of the project for Prince Rupert residents

As we outlined on the blog last week, City Council already received a thumb nail sketch of the project, when Imperial Oil officials provided a short overview to Council at last week's regular council session.

During their presentation to Council, officials from the energy group highlighted their plan to provide for the Community Information Session, offering up the prospect of more technical information for community residents who may have questions regarding the project.

That public information session should also be of interest to Mayor Mussallem and the six Council Members.  Council will soon launch their review of the zoning issue and then vote on the zoning provisions for the  parcel of land in Lot 444 that has been proposed for the development.

Last Monday's Council session offered a fair amount of back and forth on the topic of the Lot 444 zoning issues, despite the fact that three of the council members were absent from the night's proceedings, you can review the Lot 444 discussion here.

The upcoming public session will also provide the opportunity for local residents and Imperial Oil/Exxon-Mobil explore more of the proposed plans.  As well local residents can offer up some feedback and guidance to the companies, with suggestions as to how the community wishes to be engaged as the project moves forward.

The Community Information Session will take place from 5 to 8 PM at the North Coast Convention Centre on 1st Avenue West, which is part of the Chances Gaming Centre complex.

Residents who may wish to learn more about the Information Session can contact Imperial Oil toll free at 1-855-338-9931

We have more information of interest regarding the Tuck Island LNG project available on our LNG Archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Nathan Cullen's summer projects

Summer vacation as we all know is dedicated to a fair bit of relaxation, combined with a bit of work around the home front.

The political version of tending to the work around the home riding for the NDP's Nathan Cullen, would seem to include a pair of high profile issues.

While Mr. Cullen takes advantage of the Bulkley Valley sunshine during the summer break from his duties on Parliament Hill, his office is making sure that some his themes continue to stay among our thoughts during the summer season.

And if our recent household mailers are any indication, the Member of Parliament for Skeena-Bulkley Valley is set to rally his constituents to save a pair of high profile organizations.

The first mailer sought the help of constituents in the goal of preserving Canada Post services across the nation, that project was outlined in the late spring, with a short item delivered door to door through the Mail.

The second in the NDP's summer awareness campaign arrived with last weeks mail, as we learned more of Mr. Cullen's wishes to see the the Conservative Government provide better opportunities for financial security for the CBC.

More background on the Postal Service mission can be found on the MP's website, which offers up a few talking points to the theme.

Along with the information review, the link also features a petition for those Canadians that share the NDP's views on the importance of Canada Post to our daily lives.

The NDP campaign to "Stand up for the CBC" appears to still be somewhat in the early stages of development. With the household mailer following up on Mr. Cullen's comments of April on the theme of how the CBC cuts impact on rural communities.

Much like the Post Office campaign, the NDP website provides a link to a petition to seek out multi year financing for the public broadcaster.

Our archive of past items on Mr. Cullen's work in Ottawa can be found here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Amakusa Island grounding provides Enbridge opponents with a visual aid

Photo of Amakusa Island courtesy of 
Transportation Safety Board of Canada Twitter feed

As word of the grounding of the Amakusa Island began to spread beyond Prince Rupert by

Wednesday, those who have long offered up their concerns on the theme of oil shipments along the North Coast found much to review from the incident in Prince Rupert harbour.

For those opposed to the Northern Gateway proposal, the focus of the grounding of the coal ship has shifted,  offering a visual aid for the what if scenarios.

The picture of the listing Amakusa Island providing opponents with an opportunity to once again warn of their concerns over the prospect of bitumen or refined oil shipments from any proposed terminals on the North Coast to World markets.

The theme of environmental  concern was the subject of items from a number of media outlets yesterday, with the Vancouver Sun leading the way with a focus article featuring comments from a range of opponents to the Enbridge proposal.

CFNR provided a short piece on the incident as well, highlighting the concerns of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation which used the Monday incident as a cautionary note.

As we outlined on the blog on Tuesday, the incident took place in the late evening hours of Monday, the vessel was re-floated at high tide in the early hours of Tuesday, after which  it then proceeded to anchorage.

Port officials continue to monitor the situation at the anchorage position.

A full marine inspection of the vessel will determine the extent of the damage and what repairs will be required to the vessel before the Amakusa Island is to set sail agin.

Officials from the Transportation Safety Board have arrived in Prince Rupert and continue on with their investigating the incident. They have posted a number of photos to their twitter feed highlighting the current status of the vessel and offering a view of the extent of the list that the Amakusa Island is suffering from.

Monday evening's incident calls to mind a similar situation from November of 2012 when the Hanjin Geneva became grounded upon approach to Prince Rupert Harbour in somewhat the same location as the Amakusa Island grounding.

Though in that incident there did not appear to be any visible damage to the container vessel, which also was re-floated at the high tide.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

City of Prince Rupert targets Watson Island for LNG development

The latest rebirth of the industrial site at Watson Island may involve the current rush towards LNG development, as the City of Prince Rupert revealed some background into discussion that it has been holding with a company now known as Watson Island LNG Corporation.

In a press release from Wednesday, the City reviewed the nature of their discussions that led to the exclusivity agreement with WILNG, that would see the Watson Island site transformed into a small LNG export terminal.

"After many months of investigation Council believes the City has found a company with the vision for Watson Island that will bring jobs and a substantial new economy to Prince Rupert,” ... “We recognize the City has gone down this road before, however, we have never given up on our vision to repurpose Watson Island and get it back on the tax-roll. We are optimistic this project will be an economic generator that will bolster the City and create new jobs in the region.” -- Mayor Jack Mussallem on behalf of Prince Rupert City Council on the theme of development of Watson Island as an LNG export terminal.

As part of the announcement, the City also outlined how they are proceeding with the decommissioning of the old Pulp mill and are also working to obtain provincial assistance for the removal of industrial chemicals and managing a number of other environmentally dangerous substances.

Little background was provided on Wednesday about the would be developer of the export terminal at Watson Island, with few details revealed as to financial backing,  where the required natural gas would be accessed from and what kind of client base has been solicited for export of LNG.

In a brief comment as part of the City's announcement , Mr. Ed Neibauer, the Director of WINLG observed as to the hope of his company to bring the plans to fruition.

“We are looking forward to establishing good working relationships with the community, First Nations and regulators to bring the company’s development plans to fruition.” -- Mr. Ed Neibauer, Director of WILNG

Still to be resolved for the city and no doubt of interest to WILNG officials will be the status of the ongoing litigation between the City and the Watson Island Development Corporation, a process that is still apparently in front of the courts and has prevented the City from selling the lands.

In their announcement, the City offered up little on the theme of the current state of those legal proceedings, other than to advise that the City continues to work to have the litigation resolved as quickly as possible.

The newest entry into the percolating LNG scene in Prince Rupert, joins six other high profile projects currently under consideration for the area.

Including a project proposed for within the newly expanded municipal boundary at Tuck Inlet, a proposal that the City has expressed much interest in over the last few weeks.

You can review the full background to the announcement from this link to the City of Prince Rupert website.

For a review of all of the proposals currently under consideration for the North Coast see our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Beedie School of Business turns focus to Northwestern British Columbia

The growth of the Northwest and Prince Rupert's placement as a major trading centre has caught the attention of the acclaimed Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University and from that attention comes a fascinating new program opportunity from SFU.

On Wednesday, officials from the Beedie School of Business will be holding an information session at Northwest Community College, outlining the background to their Executive MBA program for Northwestern British Columbia.

The program, which will be run in collaboration with Northwest Community College is designed to provide Prince Rupert residents with the opportunity to possess the advanced business skills that are required to  benefit from the increasing level of investment in the

The program follows the success of similar and popular offering in Kitimat, which was provided in partnership with Alcan and other community organizations.

Through the remainder of 2014 the Beedie School of Business will be assessing the level of interest in the communities of the Northwest, with the intention of starting the program in April of 2015.

Towards that goal, the school will be working with progressive employers in the region who see the need to help their employees grow into the new opportunities that are arriving with their organizations.

As well, the MBA program will be available to individuals, who wish to expand their knowledge through their individual study.

The school is seeking to establish an awards program that would help offset the cost of the program for those who may be well qualified, but lack the financial support of their employers.

Before the program gets off the proposal board however comes the information sessions.

The first of which takes place on Wednesday evening at the Prince Rupert campus of Northwest Community College. 

The  Overview presentation and Question and Answer session starts at 5:30.

To contact the Beedie School of Business for more information on the session call 778-782-9698,  or RSVP by email at embanorthern-inquiry@sfu.ca

To learn more about what the Executive MBA Northwestern BC program is all about see this background page from the SFU's Beedie School of Business website.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Monday, July 14, 2014

Is Prince Rupert Council overstepping its Lelu Island Observations?

Prince Rupert City Council
In recent months, whether it is through project updates, or conversation around the Council chamber, there has been a fair amount of focus by members of Prince Rupert City Council on the progress of the planned LNG development at Lelu Island.

With the Pacific Northwest LNG proposal the only one that seems to have much in the way of actual momentum at the moment, finding the right balance between economic development and attention to environmental concerns appears to be key to the economic planning for the region.

And those have been the twin themes of late, that are making for much in the way of interesting discussions around the North Coast. Particularly as both Prince Rupert and Port Edward seek to try and realize the benefits from the growing path of LNG development in the region.

With Port Edward looking to reap a fair reward from the development by way of their proximity to the Pacific Northwest LNG project, the frequent reviews by the City of Prince Rupert when it comes to the proposal within the District boundaries, may be starting to raise more than a few eyebrows around the District offices.

At the most recent Prince Rupert City Council session, Council Members heard a presentation from Dr. Barb Faggetter regarding development around Lelu Island, at the conclusion of her review Council members had a number of questions related to her presentation, covering a wide range of topics.

Mayor Mussallem took advantage of the presentation, to inquire as to her recommendation as to what may be acceptable locations for LNG development in the region.

Her reply in response to the Mayor's question, observed as to how she was against development of the Pacific Northwest project at the location proposed near Flora Bank, offering up Ridley Island and Grassy Point as other locations that might be a better choice for LNG development.

As a followup to last Monday's review, the Mayor expressed the opinion that the topic is of interest to all, but with a reminder that the proposed project site is located in the District of Port Edward. And towards that observation, he asked if Dr. Faggetter had been invited to Port Edward council to deliver her report as she had done for Prince Rupert.

She advised that the subject has come up and that he is hopeful of having that opportunity sometime in the future.

Questions of concern regarding the Lelu Island site have not been an unknown discussion point at City Council in the past, with Councillor Joy Thorkelson first commenting on the issue much earlier in the process.

Back in 2012, she and then Councillor Rice (now MLA Rice) as well as Councillor Ashley used a city council session to offer up their observations on the development, when word of the proposal first was delivered by Pacific Northwest LNG.

Port Edward Council
All of the attention and suggestions from the neighbours, both past and present, might be raising a bit of concern in Port Edward.

Perhaps even offering the opportunity for some, to suggest to their counterparts from Prince Rupert Council that they may be wading into issues outside of their municipal overview.

More to the point, Port Edward  Council may find it rather interesting that Prince Rupert council continues to provide for much in the way of overview and contribution on the topic of a major development in Port Edward.

Especially of note for Port Edward officials no doubt, is the fact that the City remains hopeful for progress when it comes to the BG Group proposal for Ridley Island and Imperial Oil's Tuck Inlet project for land that the city recently obtained at Lot 444

Both of those proposals fall within the City of Prince Rupert municipal boundary, though the Ridley Island proposal is located on Prince Rupert Port Authority land.

Prince Rupert's interest on other matters from Port Edward has already been mentioned in passing at the District office.

Port Edward Councillor Knut Bjorndal recently expressed some concern over Prince Rupert's thoughts on the theme of camping at Taylor Lake.

We imagine that when it comes to their economic development plans, Councillor Bjorndal and others in Port Edward, will continue to keep an eye on the frequent attention coming their way by way of Prince Rupert.

The nature of all that focus and council's frequent observations on the theme, could soon prove to be yet another growing source of irritation between the two communities.

At some point, Port Edward Council might even offer up some advice to their counterparts in Prince Rupert, suggesting that they to stick to their own knitting when it comes to matters outside of their own boundaries, expanded as they've become.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Friday, July 11, 2014

Bylaws, Buffers and differences of opinion for Lot 44

Lot 444 proved to be a popular topic of interest at Monday's council session, grabbing a fair share of the attention on the night.

In addition to a presentation from Imperial Oil regarding their plans for a development of an LNG plant on a parcel of shoreline along southern Tuck inlet, City Council members also had some civic housekeeping matters to attend to regarding their newly acquired land.

Monday, the short bench of City Council (three of the six council members were not in attendance on Monday) tackled the process of putting the finishing touches on their expansion of the city boundary to include Lot 444, as Council considered Bylaw issues related to their acquisition of the land that includes the City's watershed.

The process provided for a bit of a difference of opinion among the usually collegial council members, as they gave consideration of the bylaw amidst a bit of confusion as to when a public hearing on the topic would be held.

City Planner Zeno Krekic outlined a report on the bylaw requirements, stating that the public hearing would take place on July 28th, a suggestion which would have the land bylaw issue included on the schedule with a number of other public hearings on zoning issues for that night.

That prospect did not sit well with Councillor Cunningham, who outlined his thoughts on the need for an separate public hearing on the Lot 444 process, a theme that the Mayor was in agreement with.

At that point City Manager Robert Long provided some guidance on the situation, suggesting that Mr. Krekic perhaps had his dates incorrect and that the plan all along had been for the issue to go to public hearing in September.

A date of September 15th was then put aside for the public hearing regarding Lot 444.

Councillor Cunningham also had a few questions on the nature of Lot 444 and proposed development options for it, in particular seeking clarification  on whether there would be a buffer zone required between the Watershed and any land for development adjacent to it.

That would be a subject which will require further review from staff and the Mayor outlined that with the public hearing now planned for September, staff had some time to report back on the topic further.

However, so concerned was Councillor Cunningham about the process and the need for clarification on the buffer issue that he sought to delay the process of the introduction, first and second reading of the applicable bylaw, until Council had more information on the theme.

That was a recommendation that the Mayor and Councillors Garon and Carlick-Pearson chose not to accept, moving forward the motion to adopt the introduction and first and second readings of the bylaw.

Following that vote, the Mayor outlined that Mr. Krekic's report on the questions raised on the evening should be provided at the next council session.

The issue of Lot 444 in the past has been a rather passionate discussion point, not only for Councillor Cunningham, but for both Councillors Ashley and Thorkelson as well.

And as both were absent on Monday, the process of moving the bylaw forward might have best been deferred until they too could offer up their thoughts on the bylaw proposal and process.

The nature of Councillor Cunningham's concerns on the topic not only in the Lot 444 discussion, but during the Imperial Oil presentation for the LNG proposal, suggest that there may still be a number of issues to be resolved when it comes to zoning for the land across from Seal Cove.

A suggestion that wait until they have more information in hand (and a better attendance at Council on the night), is perhaps a course of action that might have provided for a better review of what is shaping up to be major discussion point for Council.

You can review the conversation of Monday night from the  City Council Video Archive page, it starts at the one hour forty three minute mark and continues on until the two hour point.

For more items related to City Council discussions see our Archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Environmental pushback starts up on Pacific NorthWest LNG proposal

As we've outlined on the blog in recent weeks, the Pacific Northwest LNG project appears to be the one currently with the most momentum on the North Coast.

With the Petronas backed proposal moving forward into its environmental review and with hopes of some form of a final investment decision to be made on the status of the project in the near future.

That forward momentum however, makes the Pacific Northwest project a high profile target of sorts and for many on the environmental side of the debate, the Lelu Island proposal is one that is making for much in the way of review and push back.

Yesterday we outlined the work of a local scientist on the theme, reviewing Dr. Barb Faggetter's presentation on Monday evening to Prince Rupert City Council regarding the Lelu Island development.

Her presentation and the accompanying website offerings provide her take on the risks she believes are involved when it comes to the Lelu Island site, however she's not alone it appears when it comes to offering up a view against any development in that area.

The topic of development adjacent to the Flora Bank area, has also captured the imagination of some in the Vancouver media, with a number of articles recently published on the theme of a Study from the SFU School of Resource and Environmental  management.

The Georgia Straight offered up this review of a study from researchers at Simon Fraser University, which echoes some of the talking points that Dr. Faggetter delivered to Council this week.

The Vancouver Observer also provided this article related to the SFU study, with a rather alarming headline that states a collapse of BC Wild salmon is imminent.

A copy of the current peer review of the SFU study can be found here.

Many of those issues of course will be reviewed as part of the environmental assessment process currently underway.

With that process still moving forward, we have still to be delivered any final review from both the CEAA and the BC Environment Agency regarding the proposed development.

Those with concerns over the Lelu Island project, have for the most part outlined some of the worse case scenarios that could come from it.

Though a reading of some of those findings would suggest that each and every project that has been proposed for the region, would have to move forward, to bring those dire scenarios to the forefront of the issue of development.

Considering the laborious path that some of the other projects seem to be taking, at the moment the full development theme seems rather unlikely.

So far, the only proposed development that is even remotely close to making any kind of final investment decision is the Pacific Northwest LNG proposal, something that many should keep in mind as the review continues into the impact to the area.

One imagines hat upon completion of the EA process, that Pacific Northwest LNG would be looking to look for ways to offset many of the concerns over sediment issues and damage to the eel grass  when it comes to the Flora Bank.

As part of their review for the Environmental Assessment, the company has outlined some of those plans when it comes to the issues of development of the site. Though critics of the Petronas proposal are quick to highlight the need for caution when it comes to proponent funded research on such issues.

With the Pacific Northwest LNG project the only one that seems to have much in the way of actual momentum at the moment, finding the right balance between economic development and attention to environmental concerns is key to the economic planning for the region.

There is more background information related to the Pacific Northwest LNG project available on our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Imperial Oil delivers an introduction to Tuck Inlet LNG proposal for City Council

Prince Rupert Council and those viewing Monday's session at home received the first public overview of what Imperial Oil and their partners at Exxon/Mobil have in mind when it comes to developing an LNG terminal site across from Seal Cove along the southern shore of Tuck Inlet.

Mr. Scott Pinhey, the Opportunities Manager with Imperial Oil Ltd. provided the glimpse into what an LNG development would look like, should they move forward with their plans for a parcel of land within Lot 444, the area of land north and east of Prince Rupert, part of which contains the city's watershed.

Mr. Pinhey made use of a multi-media presentation to outline the opportunity that the Imperial Oil group is considering, which if proven feasible would provide a slightly different approach to LNG terminal development than some of the other proposals for the region.

Key to their plans is the Site concept of the Marine based Barge based nature of the Terminal, with up to six Barges to be used on the east side of Tuck Inlet, with a smaller footprint to be used on adjacent land.

The Imperial Plan would start with two Marine Barges growing to a possible six in the future.

The transit map for LNG carriers would take the vessels through Prince Rupert harbour, into Tuck Inlet where they would turn and then return down the inlet to berth at the Terminal location across from Seal Cove.

Mr. Pinhey touched on the environmental sensitivities of the region, observing how Imperial believes that their proposal offers up the least impact on those sensitivities.

He also highlighted some of the consultation that they have conducted with local First Nations.

He stressed the importance of Safety and Environmental aspects of their proposed terminal development, acknowledging the proximity to the city's watershed area.

Explaining that in their opinion they don't expect any impact on that area and that the project would meet any government standards for water management and air emissions and quality.

The financial benefit for Prince Rupert was also outlined for Council, with 1000 construction jobs expected to be required during the construction phase, with 300 long term jobs and additional indirect employment created by the terminal development.

Mr. Pinhey also explained that should their Marine Barge based proposal not prove feasible, Imperial Oil believes that there is sufficient land available along the shoreline to shift towards a land based model if they have to.

He also pointed to the opportunity for Prince Rupert to become the hub to their operations, with their staff and workers locating in the region owing to its proximity to the city, reviewing the direct benefit that the City of Prince Rupert would gain from the proposed development.

As for a timeline, Mr. Pinhey stressed that they were very much in the pre-Project Description phase, with the Near Term Engagement process about to start, that would include a public community information session that they plan to hold in the city on July 24th.

Offering Imperial Oil to provide more information on their proposal and answer questions and receive input from the public.  As part of the timeline they outlined how later in the year they also will be making submissions regarding Environmental Assessment, which would require further open houses and engagement.

They also intend to reach out to individual stakeholders and the First Nations of the region as they move their engagement process forward.

Following their presentation the Mayor offered up some thoughts on their proposal seeking a bit more background on the nature of the facility and the timeline of their initial plans for two Marine based barges, he was advised that they anticipated a start up of operations sometime late in 2023 or early 2024.

He then opened the session up for questions from the three Councillors in attendance on the evening.

Considering their recent thoughts on the theme of Lot 444 development and industrial development in the region, it was unfortunate that Councillors Thorkelson and Ashley were absent on the night, as they no doubt might have had much to ask of the guests regarding the proposal.

With the two councillors along with Councillor Kinney not available on the night, it was left to Councillors Garon and Cunningham to taking advantage of the opportunity to seek out a bit more information on the project.

Councillor Cunningham focused on the transportation aspect of the project, inquiring about required buffer zones surrounding the vessels as they transit the region and how many they anticipate arriving in the region once the terminal starts up.

He was advised that the full six train barge terminal would provide for one vessel per day, he also was advised that there would be a buffer zone required during the loading process.

Councillor Cunningham also called attention to the nature of the marine traffic in both the harbour and up into Tuck inlet and whether Imperial Oil had made contact yet with such groups as UFAWU to discuss any potential impact of their transit plan into their terminal location.

The project proponents haven't yet conducted any discussions with any user groups, though they hope to engage with them either through their open meetings, public houses or through smaller meetings.

Councillor Cunningham wrapped up his line of questions with an inquiry as to any potential impact on air emissions, he was advised that Imperial Oil would have some of their technical staff on hand for their July 24th community session.

Councillor Garon echoed those thoughts as well, expressing some hesitation when it comes to the proposed site and the impact that it may have on air emissions and other mitigation factors, she observed how it would be helpful to learn more about them at the public session.

One question not explored by Council was what impact that the Marine based nature of the proposal might have on anticipated revenue streams to the City, compared to one that is totally constructed on land within the City's boundary.

That perhaps might make for a topic for further discussion not only at the Council table, but at the public session of July 24th.

You can review the full presentation from Imperial Oil through the City's Video Archive, the overview starts at the 58 minute mark and continues through until 1 hour and 28 minutes.

For more background on the Imperial Oil proposal see our Archive page on the topic here.

For more items of interest on City Council discussions see our Council archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Presentation for Council puts a focus on Flora Banks

On Monday evening, Prince Rupert City Council members heard much on the theme of the impact of proposed LNG development at Lelu Island. As locally based scientist Dr. Barb Faggetter provided Council with a review of her recent findings into the Flora Banks region of the Skeena Estuary.

The presentation which spanned close to half an hour offered up some background on the importance of the Estuary to the salmon stocks of the North Coast, with Dr. Faggetter offering up a statistical review of the current state of juvenile salmon and their dependency on the shallow grass lands of the area known as the Flora Banks.

Following that brief overview of the ecosystem of the salmon in the region she switched her focus towards the theme of the impact that Industrial Development along Ridley and Lelu Island could have on the area.

With a particular concern addressed towards the large volume of dredging that could be required for the many industrial projects proposed for that area of the North Coast.

On the topic of the development of an LNG terminal on Lelu Island, Dr. Faggetter was clearly most alarmed about that particular possible development site.

She expanded on concerns regarding the Pacific Northwest LNG proposal, calling attention to some of her thoughts regarding the nature of some of the science that has been reviewed on the proposal.

She reviewed her observations from a recent tour of the Fora Banks region and outlined her concern over discrepancies between her findings and those that the Pacific Northwest tour had provided for in recent weeks.

One of the key points from her study is  her overview of the impact that the Pacific Northwest Project might have on the Flora Banks ecosystem.

She offered up a concern regarding the potential for high value loss of juvenile salmon habitat with a major focus on the damage that could be delivered to eel grass and fish habitat owing to sediment shifting during LNG ship berthing at the proposed site.

As for the overall impact of development in the region, Dr. Faggetter outlined how if all of the major projects that are proposed for the Ridley and Lelu island region were to move forward, the impact to the shoreline of the Flora Banks ecosystem would be at 57 per cent.

She said that considering the habitat value of the shoreline, the loss could be as much as 29 per cent or more of the current habitat of the juvenile salmon, a situation which she feared could be close to a tipping point for one or more of the species of the region.

Following her presentation, those Council members in attendance on the night (Councillors Thorkelson, Ashley and Kinney were absent) had opportunity to ask questions of their guest, with Councillor Garon leading off with an inquiry as to the nature of her funding for her work.

Dr. Faggetter outlined that the funding aspect of her studies came through a lot of volunteer work and assistance from different organizations.

And while she didn't mention those groups by name, her work  available from the Ocean Ecology website,  outlines that study on Juvenile Salmon Habitat and the Flora Banks region was supported by such groups as The Prince Rupert Environmental Society, the T Buck Suzuki Foundation and UFAWU-Unifor.

In a follow question, Mayor Mussallem asked her for an opinion as to what she would recommend as acceptable for development of LNG terminals in the region.

Dr. Faggetter observed that she was not anti-industry, but that in her opinion Lelu Island was not where an LNG terminal should be located.

She offered up the thought that she believed the BG Group proposal for Ridley Island was something that could be worked with and that Grassy Point would perhaps be the best option for LNG development, adding that anywhere away from the Skeena Estuary was preferable in her opinion.

The Mayor did call attention to the fact that the Pacific Northwest LNG project proposed for Lelu Island was based in the District of Port Edward, a statement that for the most part highlighted that the presentation to Prince Rupert Council was more of a backgrounder more than anything else.

He did ask if she had made her presentation to the District, or if they had asked her to appear to provide her overview of the site in question.

Dr. Faggetter advised that she had been in contact with the District regarding her study, but as of yet she had not yet been offered the opportunity to make her presentation.

You can review the full scope of her presentation to Council from Monday night through the City's Video Archive, it can be found from the thirty minute to just before the one hour mark.

For a look at some of the past work of Dr. Faggetter on the issues of the Flora Banks and Skeena River Estuary see our blog item from Monday.

You can also access her two reviews, with her examination of the Skeena Estuary available here and her Juvenile Salmon Habitat study available here.

We have more items of interest on the Pacific Northwest LNG proposal on our Archive page.

For a review of discussion points from Prince Rupert city Council see our Archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Province provides Electoral primer for would be candidates in fall municipal election

As talk starts to heat up in Prince Rupert about this falls Municipal Election campaign, a timely bit of research material was released by the Province of British Columbia on Tuesday.

A tweet to the province's twitter feed outlined a one stop home page for items of interest for the 2014 Local elections.

A location where a wide range of material on the workings of municipal government and the path to seek elected office can be found.

Included in the package is a General Information Voters Guide on the process as well as a number of links that provide an opportunity to research such items of interest as the Community Charter, Local Government Act, Financial Disclosure Act, Local Elections Campaign Financing Act among the offerings.

Of particular interest for would be candidates are a number of links to information files on the following:

Local Elections in B. C.: What every Candidate Needs to Know
Candidate's Guide to Local Government Elections in B. C.
Elector Organization Guide to Local Government Elections in B. C.
Guide to Supporting a Candidate for Local Government Elections in B. C.

To refresh your memory on the last time we went to the Municipal polls for a full Council election, the Province has provided some archival information on the results from 2011.

As for the 2014 campaign, to date in Prince Rupert, there are only two candidates declared for the fall election.

Mayor Jack Mussallem announced his intention to seek re-election in early May and Mayoralty challenger Lee Brain outlined his quest in June, seeking to add his voice to municipal politics with his campaign for the Mayor's chair.

Our archive of items on the fall campaign can be found here, to be updated as required through summer.

 Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Steelhead LNG shifts focus away from North Coast to Vancouver Island

If you were holding Steelhead LNG in the North Coast Version of the Great Race (to an LNG Terminal) we have some bad news for you, the Vancouver based LNG proponent who had been kicking some tires around Northwestern BC has apparently settled on a site on Vancouver Island instead.

Steelhead LNG announced on Tuesday their plans to sign an opportunity Development agreement with the Huu-ay-aht First Nation which could see the two groups develop an LNG terminal at Sarita Bay near Port Alberni.

The project, if developed, would see four  production trains designed to export 30.0 million tonnes of LNG per year over 25 years.  Steelhead will work with pipeline companies to explore infrastructure options to deliver gas from
Northern British Columbia to the Sarita Bay export facility.

No timeline was provided at the Tuesday press conference heralding the new partnership, though any forward movement will require several regulatory, environmental and technical assessments and will only proceed after consultation with members of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation.

Any final investment decision is said to be at least four years away.

As we outlined on the blog back in March, Steelhead first appeared on the LNG radar earlier this year, with a string of announcements and reported intentions to explore LNG opportunities on the North Coast.

Since that time it would seem that their focus shifted to Vancouver Island leading to the announcement of today, you can learn more about those early days of North Coast tire kicking from our archive page here.

For more on the Vancouver Island project, you can review the Steelhead LNG homepage or that of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation.

Some news reviews of Tuesday's announcement can be found below:

Financial Post-- Steelhead proposed $US30 - billion LNG export facility on Vancouver Island
Global BC News-- Vancouver Island First nations Band signs agreement to develop LNG plant
Vancouver Sun-- Port Alberni, B. C. site of proposed First Nations, LNG export plant
CHEK News-- $30 Billion LNG plant planned for Vancouver Island
Globe and Mail-- Aboriginal Group on Vancouver Island signs deal for LNG project
Victoria News-- Island bid for LNG plant moves ahead
Alberni Valley News-- Huu-ay-aht ink deal to explore LNG project

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Aurora LNG project consideration requested of CEAA, invitation for comment period now open

The process of further review of the Aurora LNG project for Prince Rupert  is now underway by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

Aurora LNG is the proposal from Nexen Energy, the Canadian energy company owned by the Chinese National Oil Company CNOOC.  Their proposal would see an LNG terminal located on the North Coast to ship LNG to Asian markets.

Towards moving the process forward, yesterday the CEAA provided an update and invitation to comment regarding the proposal, posted through their website.

As we outlined on the blog last week, the Province of British Columbia had initiated a correspondence with the CEAA regarding the Aurora proposal, highlighting the request from CNOOC/Nexen to add consideration of a potential substitution LNG terminal location for Digby Island

The CEAA project page for the twin proposals for Aurora LNG can be found here.

The project is still very much in the preliminary stage for the CEAA with the need for an Environmental Assessment still to be determined.

The public comment phase of that process is now underway with Public comments now being received by the CEAA.

Public comments on the need for a federal environmental assessment and on the substitution request will be accepted by the CEAA until July 28, 2014.

The summary of the Project as provided by Aurora LNG to the CEAA can be found here.

According to the timeline provided on page five from the summary, Construction would commence in 2017 with Operations of the LNG terminal itself to start up in 2023 with a minimum operation period of 25 years.

Both the Grassy Point and Digby Island proposals are reviewed as part of the summary.

Included in the summary were conceptual Layouts of the two sites. Highlighted on those outlines were the locations for the proposed LNG trains, storage tanks and where land would be set aside for a work camp for the project.

Aurora LNG Grassy Point
Aurora LNG Digby Island

You can review more of our items related to the Aurora LNG project from our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review