Saturday, November 29, 2014

MLA's Week November 24-27, 2014

The final week of Legislature proceedings for the near future took place this week, with the MLA's wrapping up their Legislature work on Thursday heading into the Holiday break.

With the end of Thursday's morning session, the Legislature rose with no definitive timeline in place as to when they will next sit in the House.

It's expected that Government House Leader will provided further information on that timeline for the resumption of the Legislature sessions at some point early in 2015.

For the final week of work heading into that break, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice made three contributions to the proceedings of the week of November 24-27 in the  Legislature Chamber.

Ms. Rice spoke on issues related to BC Ferries, the renewal of a peace treaty between the Haida and Heiltsuk Nations and provided a petition from Dodge Cover residents regarding LNG development on Digby Island.

From the six sessions of the Legislature in the House, or Committee work listed for the week of Nov 24-27, MLA Rice appeared three times during the archives of the proceedings of the week.

Speaking in the House on Monday morning, the North Coast MLA rose during Question Period to ask Transportation Minister Todd Stone a question regarding the required payment of an extra thirty dollars on cabin fares on BC Ferries, for those that require the use of a wheel chair.

As she relayed later in the week, her question and concern was reviewed by the Minster with a resolution to the situation apparently delivered.

On Tuesday, Ms. Rice outlined by way of a Member's Statement the renewal of a peace treaty between the Haida and the Heiltsuk Nations, providing some background to the Legislature on the treaty and a short overview of her attendance at the September event to bear witness to it.

Thursday morning, the North Coast MLA presented to the Legislature a petition from the residents of Dodge Cove, who expressed their concern over a proposed LNG terminal to be developed on the southern tip of Digby Island.

Our  items of review on MLA Rice and her discussion points in the Legislature can be found below:

MLA Rice wraps up busy week, by presenting Dodge Cove petition against LNG Terminal proposal to the Legislature

North Coast MLA finds success in bid to remove extra charge on BC Ferries for wheel chair users

MLA raises issues of wheel chair fees on BC Ferries

As for committee work, MLA Rice is a member of the Standing Committee on Children and Youth.

That Committee held a Monday evening meeting, as it was listed as In Camera, no details regarding the topics of discussion or attendance listings were provided  to the Legislature website.

We have more background on the North Coast MLA available from our MLA's Week archive as well as our General Archive on the Legislature.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Friday, November 28, 2014

MLA Rice wraps up busy week, by presenting Dodge Cove petition against LNG terminal proposal to the Legislature

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice has had a fairly active final week of the Fall session, tackling a number of items as the Legislature prepares to take its Christmas/New Year and beyond break.

As we outlined earlier today, Ms. Rice's efforts in the Legislature regarding what was a unfair charge from BC Ferries for those who require wheel chairs found a successful conclusion. As Transportation Minister Todd Stone confirmed for the MLA  on Thursday, that the practice of charging 30 dollars extra will be stopped.

Tuesday, the North Coast MLA rose in the Legislature to herald the renewal of the peace treaty between the Haida and Heiltsuk First Nations, providing a short history lesson for the Legislature about past events and the ongoing significance of it's renewal.

As part of her statement on the treaty Ms. Rice reviewed her participation this September, as a witness to the renewal of the treaty.

This September I was privileged to bear witness to a modern-day renewal of this peace treaty. I travelled on B.C. Ferries from Prince Rupert to Skidegate with 75 Heiltsuk who had just made the long journey north from Bella Bella. The ferry was filled with Heiltsuk of all ages, from babies to elders. Kids were out of school for this monumental event — although a few teens did tell me that they had to write papers about their experience to get out of class. The boat hummed of drumming and powerful voices. A sea of red regalia filled the passageways of the ship. 
Heiltsuk Hereditary Chief Harvey Humchitt invited me to walk off the ferry with the Heiltsuk when we landed in Haida Gwaii. We were greeted by singing and drumming and welcoming Haida on the shores of Skidegate. It was a sight to be seen. The B.C. Ferries crew commented that they'd never participated in anything like this before. An exchange of singing and drumming echoed across the waters as we exited the ramp off the ferry and walked onto Haida territory.

You can review her full commentary from Hansard of Wednesday afternoon, with her comments arriving at just before the 10:25 mark

The Legislature Video Archive hosts her presentation to the Legislature as well, it can be found at the 10:25 mark from the Tuesday Chamber video option

Yesterday, Ms. Rice presented a petition to the Legislature which outlined the opposition of residents of Digby Island regarding any proposed development of an LNG Terminal on the southern tip of the Island.

Shortly after 11:15 in the morning session of yesterday's proceedings, the MLA outlined the objections of those living in the Dodge Cove area.

I rise to table a petition from every member of the community of Dodge Cove living on Digby Island. The people of Dodge Cove feel that the Aurora-Nexen LNG project, which is proposed to be situated half a kilometre from their homes, will alter their lives and community irreparably.

The notice of the petition can be found in the Thursday morning Hansard review.

You can review her delivery of the petition to the Legislature from the Thursday Morning Chamber Video, it starts at the 11:16 mark

As we reviewed earlier this week, it was announced that the Aurora Project would focus on development plans for Digby Island, with the Chinese energy company CNOOC and it's Canadian subsidiary Nexen  selecting the Digby Island option for further site evaluation, choosing that location over its previous development option of Grassy Point.

You can review more details on the Digby Island proposal here.

The delivery of the petition will mark the last bit of business for the North Coast MLA in the Legislative Chamber for the foreseeable future. With the end of the Legislature sitting shortly after the noon hour on Thursday, the province's MLA's adjourned for the Christmas Holidays and perhaps much further into 2015.

No indication was given by Government House Leader Mike de Jong as to when the Legislature may sit next, with the timetable to be determined upon advice of the Government.

For more items related to developments at the Legislature see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Pacific NorthWest LNG offer up comments regarding Environmental Assessment Certificate for Lelu Island Terminal

With another step along the regulatory process complete, Pacific NorthWest LNG  and parent company Petronas have offered up some comments on the recent news of the granting of an Environmental Assessment Certificate by the Province of British Columbia.

A short note on the Pacific NorthWest LNG Facebook page outlines the observations from the company regarding the provincial approval notice of Tuesday.

Today, Minister Polak and Minister Coleman announced the approval of Pacific NorthWest LNG's BC Environmental Assessment application. 

We would like to thank everyone who provided their important feedback regarding our project. 

Pacific NorthWest LNG continues to consult and engage with local First Nations, stakeholders and residents as we move to successfully complete our federal environmental assessment and secure all necessary permits from all levels of government.

As we outlined on the blog yesterday, the Environmental Assessment Certificate was one of a flurry of LNG related announcements of Tuesday, with the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project also receiving its Environmental Assessment Certificate at the same time.

That pipeline project will provide the method of transporting Natural Gas from British Columbia's Northeast Gas fields, to the Lelu Island Terminal should the project move into the development stage.

The Final Investment decision regarding the Lelu Island proposal, is anticipated to be announced in
mid December.

At that time the Malaysian Energy giant Petronas, will outline its plans moving forward, regarding the 11 billion dollar LNG project for the North Coast.

Towards that decision, a Malaysian Business publication, The Malaysian Reserve, is reporting that Petronas CEO Shamsul Azhar Abbas will travel to Vancouver this weekend for meetings in Vancouver with British Columbia government officials.

As the Malaysian paper puts it, the nature of the meeting is "to sit down together and discuss firmly so that clarity is given," adding that "We have the balance of one quarter of issues at hand. We reckon we can sit down and strike a solution"

The full article on the path ahead for Petronas can be found here.

You can review more information on the Pacific NorthWest LNG proposal from our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Alaska Marine Highway Terminal renovations find a bit of international controversy

Earlier this week, we outlined the increasing levels of percolating discontent among some of Canada's Industrial suppliers, who have been quick to outline their objections on a Buy America provision, when it comes to the upcoming renovation project for the Alaska Marine Highway Terminal at Fairview in Prince Rupert.

Since we posted our item of Tuesday, we've been watching with interest as the national media grabbed onto the story of those Buy America provisions of the Alaska Government project and how it is being received across Canada.

Some of those reviews can be found below:

Globe and Mail-- "Buy America" shuts out Canadian Iron and Steel from ferry Terminal overhaul
Vancouver Sun-- Buy America policy means Alaska ferry terminal in Prince Rupert to be built with U.S. products
Vancouver Province-- New Prince Rupert Ferry Terminal must use American iron and steel
CTV News Vancouver-- B. C. to Alaska Ferry hits "Buy America" snag in construction plans
CTV News Vancouver -- Canadian Materials not welcome
Business in Vancouver-- Buy America rules shut B. C. companies out of B . C. project
Business News Network-- Buy American shuts out Canadian Iron and Steel from B. C. Ferry Terminal overhaul (video)
Wall Street Journal-- British Columbia Port Upgrade Subject to U. S. policies
National Post-- Buy America... in Canada: Ferry terminal on B. C. coast must be built using U. S. materials

Yesterday, the issue became a bit of a political item for the B. C. Government, with both Transportation Todd Stone Minister and Premier Christy Clark weighing in on the controversy.

Vancouver Province-- Christy Clark lambasts U. S. over "Buy America' rules at Prince Rupert Ferry Terminal
CFTK-- Cullen, Clark angered over "Buy American" Policy for Construction of Ferry Dock in Prince Rupert
CKNW-- Premier Challenging "Buy American" policy for new ferry terminal in BC
CBC-- Christy Clark Slams Buy America policies at Prince Rupert Ferry Terminal
Huffington Post-- Enforcement of 'Buy America' Provisions in B. C. called ironic
Stockhouse-- U. S. Not Friendly on B. C. Ferry Terminal: Clark
Journal of Commerce-- Clark Says American not behaving as "friends" in Prince Rupert Terminal Project

As we outlined on Tuesday, we're not sure that the City of Prince Rupert will be quite as energized by the issue, as the province and national media has been over the last three days.

In fact, we imagine that the City might be watching the rhetoric with a fair bit of interest and perhaps a small amount of trepidation. Hopeful, perhaps that the growing tempest doesn't end up scuttling the project completely.

The growing controversy, could end up being something which once again may give the Alaskans cause to re-consider Prince Rupert as their southern terminus, which as long time Rupertites know, has been a discussion point that has been mentioned in previous years whenever issues between BC and Alaska flare up.

Perhaps it's a topic that the incoming Mayor may wish to to be in touch with the Premier about, highlighting some of the past history when it comes to anything to do with the Alaska Marine Highway and Prince Rupert.

Hopefully, some form of accommodation will be found on the issue before things get too heated between the province and the State, with no concerns locally when it comes to any potential disruption to one of the key transportation links between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan.

For more items related to Transportation on the North Coast see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

North Coast MLA finds success in bid to remove extra charge on BC Ferries for wheel chair users

Earlier this week, we outlined the efforts of North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice in her bid to call attention to an unfair charge on BC Ferries, an extra fee that affected those who require the use of  a wheel chair.

On Monday, the MLA rose in the Legislature to review the current situation in place, where BC Ferries charges an extra thirty dollars for cabin space for those who use wheel chairs.

During that Monday morning session Ms. Rice called on the Transportation Minister to address the issue and eliminate the extra charges.

Wednesday, her office confirmed that the Mr. Stone had contacted Ms. Rice to advise that he was committed to remove the price difference that currently exists for those travelling on BC Ferries.

It would appear to be a follow up to his comments of Monday, stating that the goal of the government is to make British Columbia one of the most accessible jurisdictions in North America.

His confirmation  and commitment towards action for Ms. Rice on this issue, would seem to deliver a simple solution to a situation that never should have existed in the first place.

You can review her correspondence with the Transportation Minister on the issue from this link from the MLA's announcement.

For more items related to the North Coast MLA's work in the Legislature see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Council members make their farewells at final City Council Session

The last ten minutes of Monday evening's council session provided for some emotional moments, as members of the outgoing City Council provided for their farewell thoughts as their time on Council came to an end.

With Mayor Mussallem, Councillors Ashley and Garon all leaving council after Monday evening and Councillor Carlick-Pearson shifting to new challenges with the School District Board, the final moments for the evening were filled with remembrances of the work that this Council was engaged with over the last term.

Councillor Ashley led off the comments, reviewing her time on Council over the last two terms and how much she enjoyed working with the current group.

She offered up her thanks and appreciation to those that she served with, while also making mention of the high voter turnout of the last election and how she hopes it is a sign of new engagement on civic issues to come from the community.

Her thoughts were similar to the reviews on the theme expressed through the Monday session from Councillors, Garon, Thorkelson, Cunningham and Carlick Pearson, who all outlined their thoughts on the work accomplished and sense of commitment that they brought to the Council chamber.

City Manager Robert Long made a short presentation on behalf of the City, providing plaques of recognition to the outgoing Council members in recognition of their service to the community.

The Mayor brought the evening and his time in office to a close with his own farewells, highlighting the work and efforts of the City Staff and employees, as well as his time with this Council and those that he served with through previous years.

He offered up some thoughts for the new council to come, reviewing some of the challenges that this council has faced over the years and how Council never backed away from anything that they faced.

He even provided a final thought on the topic of Watson Island, offering up a cautionary note for the incoming Council as to challenges that can arise when situations are forced upon the community through Local Government Legislation. Observing as to "what a hell hole it can be", referencing the Watson Island file and the long running nature of that issue.

He praised the work of those that work for the City, reviewing their contributions to the civic scene, calling the strength of the municipality that of the work of Council and the efforts of those that work for the City.

His final thoughts were directed to those who supported him over the years, some of whom have passed away. The Mayor recounting some of those past conversations and the guidance he had received over the years from members of the community.

You can review the farewell observations from the final session through the City's Video Archive starting at the 2 hour 21 minute mark.

For more items related to events at City Council see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Work Camp proponents may provide partial answer to City's ongoing Housing concerns

One of the interesting side stories to Monday's discussion on the proposed work camp for the Wantage Road area, was the way that topic at times morphed into the discussion related to the City's concerns over social and affordable housing.

The issue of housing in the community first came up during the Public Hearing phase of the evening, with one participant in that process, offering up observations on the proposed lay down area of the Wantage Road proposal and how it once was a trailer park site.

She suggested to Council that the location would make for a potential solution to the City's affordable housing concerns, with the observation that the area once again be zoned to allow for mobile homes or small housing to be placed there.

Later in the evening, Councillor Ashley brought that suggestion back to Council's attention, asking City Manager Robert Long if it that concept is one the City could consider.

Mr. Long advised that the nature of the decline of the infrastructure in that old trailer park area made that prospect an unlikely one at this time, and was one of the reasons that the original trailer park site was closed by the City.

Turning her attention to the discussions with the work camp proponents Horizon North, Councillor Ashley then asked Mr. Long if the City had had any kind of discussion on how that company, which produces modular housing, might be able to assist the city with its social and affordable housing issues.

While the topic would appear to not be much more than an in passing kind of conversation to this point.  Mr. Long advised that it was something the City might be able to address with the proponents should they go forward with their larger project for Wantage Road.

Later in the Council Session, Councillor Cunningham returned to the Housing issue, making a motion to have representatives of both BC Housing and the local social housing operator M'akola Housing appear at Council to review the current situation and answer a number of questions regarding the status of many of the units in their housing stock.

Councillors Ashley and Thorkelson also offered up some observations on the issues related to housing and local options in the community.

Council voted to adopt that motion for the meeting, though no timeline was provide as to when it would take place.

You can review some of the housing discussion from the City's Video Archive from the 2:14:00-2:19:00 mark.

A larger overview on the theme of housing can be examined from the City Council Timeline.

More background related to Housing issues in the community can be found here.

For further background on issues from Prince Rupert City Council proceedings see our Archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Councillor Cunningham seeks update on Airport renovation timeline

Councillor Barry Cunningham is looking for some answers when it comes the status of the renovation project at Prince Rupert Airport.

At Monday's council session, Mr. Cunningham made note of the seemingly stalled state of progress when it comes to the work currently underway at the Digby Island Airport.

Expressing some frustration at what appear to be delays with that project, he put forward a motion that would see the Chairman of the Airport Authority come to City council to offer up an explanation as to the current situation regarding the ongoing renovation project.

The Airport Renovation project started up in mid summer with extensive work on the runways and surrounding area of the airport.

As for the Terminal work, progress so far seemingly has been limited to the installation of large volumes of plywood blocking views to the runway area.

City Council first moved the project forward in November of 2013, when Council announced the success of its Airport Loan Approval process.

The most recent update that the City received on the project came in September of this year.

Councillor Cunningham's motion for a request to meet with the Airport Authority Chair was approved, however no date was set as to when that session would take place.

You can review Councillor Cunningham's comments from the City's Video Archive, his contribution to the discussion starts at the 2 hour 19 minute mark

For more items related to Transportation in the Northwest see our Archive page here, for more background on Prince Rupert City Council sessions see our Council Discussions feature here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Bid to increase Salaries of Mayor and Council stalls in final session

As Prince Rupert's Council sat in final session before the newly elected members take their seats in early December, one bit of final business didn't make it much past the suggestion stage on Monday evening.

Highlighting her soon to be status as a departing member of Council, Councillor Gina Garon introduced a motion to have City Staff provide a report to amend the current bylaw, regarding pay for Councillors and the Mayor.

The report for the incoming Council would provide background and offer up for review, the possibility of increasing the salaries for Prince Rupert's Mayor and City Councillors.

As part of her proposal Councillor Garon outlined her proposal that would have seen the stipend for Councillors increase by 8,000 dollars a year, while the Mayor's position salary would be increased by 15,000 dollars per annum.

Currently City Council Salaries are listed at 13,180 dollars per year,  While the Mayor's salary is listed at 42,274 per year.

Council Members can also claim a number of expenses as part of their duties.

The most recent review of Civic Compensation was provided in June, as part of the Spring financial reviews (see item here)

Further to her motion, Councillor Garon outlined some background on her impressions of the job that Councillors have. With a focus on interactions with the public beyond the Council chambers, wrapping up her presentation with some observations as to the amount of time that Council members sacrifice for the community.

Each councillor in attendance spoke to the topic, some such as outgoing Councillor Ashley inclined to allow for the report, though suggesting that the compensation level might be a little high, while others such as Councillors Cunningham, Carlick-Pearson and Thorkelson spoke to the timing of the suggestion as being a concern.

Key to those observations, Councillor Cunningham highlighted  the fact that the City has recently reduced a number of grants and struggled to adjust budget requirements in the last year.

While Councillor Thorkelson suggested that if the new council wanted to address the issue they could, but that with the City currently involved in contract negotiations with CUPE members, the prospect of any salary proposals wasn't something to consider at this time.

Most of those that spoke to the issue seemed in agreement that the Mayor's position should offer a higher compensation package, pointing to the work load and amount of time that must be dedicated to the Mayor's position.

In the end, the motion went down to defeat, meaning that if the subject is to come up again in 2015, it will be up to those members of the incoming council to make the case and hold discussions related to an increased salary plans.

You can review the full discussion from the City's Video Archive it takes up about ten minutes starting from the 2 hour five minute mark.

For more items related to City Council Discussion see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Council pushes ahead with Work Camp plans for Wantage Road, despite rough reception at Public Hearing

Overview of Land under
consideration for work camp
and lay down area off Wantage Rd
A few weeks back, when City Manager Robert Long first reviewed the plan to turn the old Garbage Dump on Wantage Road into a work camp site, the project was described by city staff as something that was thinking that was a little out of the box.

Highlighting the possibility for the City to make use of land currently not developed and in return, take advantage of an opportunity to re-purpose the area in ten to twenty years for other civic uses.

During Monday's Public Hearing into the zoning aspects of that proposal, a meeting held prior to Monday's City Council session, a number of residents reviewed the City's plans.

Offering up comments and observations on the topic, and providing for a perception that suggests that for them, perhaps the idea was one that the City might want to put it back in the box.

However, while Council listened carefully to many of the concerns of the eight residents who took to the microphone on Monday, when the time came to vote on the zoning proposal later in the Council session, Prince Rupert City Council decided to move forward on the proposal anyways.

To get to that decision required the input from the public through that Public Hearing, one which featured a presentation from the City Planner, Zeno Krekic.

As part of his review, he outlined the City's view of the project, making mention that the Public Hearing was but one phase of the proposal, with much of the discussion to come on issues related to the proposal would be addressed during the Development Permit process still ahead.

Mr. Krekic's observations were followed by a presentation from the representatives of Horizon North, the proponents of the work camp project.

They offered up a snapshot of what they have in mind for the Wantage Road project, which would call for Two main housing units, designed to hold 1,250 person each, with the camp site to be used to accommodate the work force for any LNG projects that may arrive on the North Coast.

To give Council a bit of an idea as to what their camps offer, they described the facility as along the lines of a four star hotel, with fitness, recreation and food services, as well as facility management and Security.

Proposed work camp development
for Wantage Road area

Overview shot of one of Horizon North's existing
work camps sites
taken from the company website

To address concerns over camp activities, the proponents advised that the Wantage Road project would be designated as a Dry Camp, with zero tolerance for alcohol.

Council members the asked a number of questions of the camp proponents, seeking more details on the camp project itself, as well as the proposed lay down area to be located at the old Trailer Park site on Wantage road.

As part of the question and answer session, Council members made inquiries regarding such issues as noise, safety, traffic, resident containment and access to Wantage road by the public seeking recreation activities in the area.

Council members also explored what kind of employment opportunities would be made available to local residents as part of any camp site development, as well as to what kind of training local residents could expect to access should the project move forward.

Following the line of questioning from the Councillors and Mayor, the public was invited to participate in the hearing, providing their own observations and questions regarding the proposal.

The eight participants provided for a mix of those living in the Haysvale Community adjacent to the proposed camp site, as well as others in city who had concerns over the larger social issues of the camp proposal.

For many, key concerns involved the issues of noise, traffic and the proximity of a large work camp being located so close to the urban area of the city. As well participants had questions and observations when it came to the environmental impact that the development may bring, as well as access to recreation options beyond the camp site in the Mount Hays area.

Some had concerns over the potential added costs to the City in the way of Police, Fire and other services, while residents of Haysvale in particular expressed their worry over the potential effect on the property values in the immediate area.

One submission to the Public Hearing phase came from the School District. With the District's Cam McIntyre providing a number of items for review for Council related to their research on camp developments in other communities.

As well, Mr. McIntyre provided a review of some of the concerns that the School District had in relation to the camps proximity to some of the schools in the city.

Once the public hearing process came to an end, Council would then revisit the topic as part of their Consideration of Amendments to the Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw provisions.

During that portion of the discussion, all of those Council members in attendance spoke in favour of the proposal, voting to re-zone the land in question.

As part of their review of the process, many highlighting the potential opportunities to the city that developing the site may offer should the proposal move forward. Adding that many of the issues outlined by the public could be addressed as the project moves forward.

For her part, Councillor Joy Thorkelson also addressed what she described as the vilification of camp workers, reminding Council that many of those that work in camps are there to do just that work and that some of the fears outlined in during the course of the public hearing were doing a dis-service to those that work in the camps.

The final comment on the proposal came from Councillor Cunningham who observed that Council was going around in circles on the issue, with the topic of the night mainly one to re-zone the land in question.

Further issues related to the project can be examined during the development permit process which will follow in the weeks and months to come.

For a full account of the Public Hearing and subsequent Zoning discussion as part of the City Council session of Monday see our City Council Timeline here.

You can learn more about what the Horizon North Camp concept offers other communities, from the company website here.

More background on the City's proposal can be found from the Agenda package of Monday's session, the subject of the Wantage Road proposal can be found from pages 22 to 47.

You can also view both the Public Hearing and the Zoning discussion from the City's Video Archive,
the Public Hearing runs from the 9 minute mark to the one hour twenty minute mark.

While the Zoning issue is up for discussion starting at the one hour thirty one minute mark through to the two hour five minute mark.

The video player can be found below.


For more items related to developments at Prince Rupert City Council see our Archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

City provides outline and environmental report regarding Lot 444 plans

Prior to last evening's Public meeting held at the Highliner Inn regarding Lot 444 and potential LNG Terminal development for it, the City of Prince Rupert provided a pair of reports on the topic, presenting them on the City website.

The first was an overview of the proposal from City Manager Robert Long, who detailed the work done thus far on the file. Highlighting some of the environmental notes related to the proposal, as well as the economic benefits to the City from any proposed development at Tuck Inlet.

The City document which is part of the process ahead for re-zoning of land at Lot 444, stresses that even if the zoning process is approved, any proposed terminal from Exxon/Mobil still would require the need to go through the Environmental Assessment Process and receive all of the required permits from various levels of government.

As for potential benefits for the City,  according to Mr. Long's report Job creation could provide between 1,000 to 6,000 workers on site in the construction phase depending on final development plan, with expectations of permanent employment for 50 to 150 people upon any Terminal completion.

** Note of clarification: the above 50 to 150 people reference, is in relation to contract employment associated with the Terminal. During the initial phase of the development, permanent employment opportunity levels for the proposed Terminal are anticipated to number 300 across a range of positions (see page 2 of Mr. Long's report)

Direct economic benefits include the prospect of the proponents of the Terminal paying to the city 18 million dollars over 2 years for investigation purposes, included in that amount a 1 million dollar non-refundable deposit already paid on the transfer of title to Prince Rupert Legacy Incorporated.

As well the report highlights the potential economic revenue stream that the City may enjoy from any Terminal development, with estimates that the City could receive tax revenues in the range of 66 million dollars annually once the Terminal would be in operation.

Additionally, the report offers up the prospect that the value of lease payments or a purchase payment, will likely reflect an additional hundreds of million dollars to the taxpayer of Prince Rupert.

City staff also provided a range of recommendations for the City and the would be proponents of the LNG Terminal to consider.

The majority of them related to the findings of Dr. Faggetter, the local oceanographer hired by the City's Legacy Corporation to conduct a review of the environmental aspects of the proposed development area.

Among some of the key items:

Keeping a detailed, current and ongoing baseline for air quality monitoring

Develop an Air Quality Management Plan

Use gas turbine technology to delver the best available emissions.

Acquire detailed water chemistry for Shawatlans and Woodworth Lakes and if required the City will have to alter its water treatment process to mitigate any changes of Prince Rupert's drinking water.

Mitigate any noise and light nuisance from the proponent's LNG Terminal

Advocate for the inclusion of renewable energy sources into the Proponent's proposed project.

Advocate for the concept with the lowest air shed impact.

Consider the Raw Water Supply Line Replacement Project and have it take place before industrial development of Lot 444, reducing the likelihood of having to use water from Shawatlans Lake.

Take a precautionary approach towards any industry which might further increase ocean acidification of regional waters used by the shellfish industry in the region.

The second document posted to the City's website was the review of that  report compiled by Dr. Barb Faggetter.

Through her company, Ocean Ecology, Dr. Faggetter delivered a rather comprehensive overview of the environmental aspects of the project.

Offering 43 pages of scientific review, observations, graphs and maps, all of which expand significantly on the short talking points offered up by Mr. Long's report.

The report, provides a focus on two areas of concern for Lot 444, based on air shed impacts and watershed impacts.

Though as she states on page nine of her opening review, the report is limited in scope and does not address a number of issues which may be important towards any decision regarding the development of lot 444.

The preamble to more substantive review of air shed and watershed impacts, provides a comparison of some of the more prominent LNG projects suggested for the region and the overview that should the Exxon/Mobil proposal for five LNG trains move forward towards development, it would potentially be the largest project built in the region.

The bulk of the review is a scientific tutorial of sorts on a number of items of interest related to air shed impacts and pollutants and impacts that the proposed LNG project might have on Prince Rupret's air quality.

Dr. Faggetter also provides comparisons to emission levels from the days of Skeena Cellulose and offers up recommendations on how to reduce emissions produced by LNG plants.

The watershed review deals with acidic issues in the water related to production at the proposed LNG Terminal facility, reviewing any potential impacts on the City's water supply, on vegetation and  soil in the region, as well as on the marine environment in the area.

Her conclusions, which appear on pages 37- 40 of her report, were the genesis of much of what Mr. Long's overview provided for, though in a fairly more expansive approach.

With Dr. Faggetter providing far more detail on the impact of potential pollutants on the Prince Rupert airhshed and a more detailed analysis of how the City may wish to address it's drinking water requirements,  so as to reduce the likelihood of using water from Shawatlans Lake.

As Dr. Faggetter mentioned, her report was limited in scope to the review of the air and water concerns from any development of Lot 444.

Not mentioned in either of the reports were thoughts on any other topics of potential concern.

One item not addressed in these early days, was the proposed travel route of those LNG tankers which would be calling on any Terminal development along Tuck Inlet.

A transit which would see the LNG shipment vessels travel from the entrance to Prince Rupert Harbour South of Digby Island, working their way across the entire length of Prince Rupert harbour with a turn then into Tuck inlet before returning back down the Inlet to the Terminal location proposed for the east side of the shoreline there.

From South of Digby Island to that location, those vessels would be transiting the same area as a fleet of fishing vessels from the Canfisco Fish plant on the city's east side. As well along the way there would be the range of vessel traffic of the anchorages along the harbour, pleasure craft at the Yacht club and associated floats at Rushbrook and Seal Cove. In addition, there is also a fair amount of activity in that area related to the Sea plane traffic landing and taking off from the Seal Cove air terminals.

Making that particular route one of the more congested of transits that the haroubur waters of Prince Rupert may have to offer.

Potential issues we imagine, which may be investigated further through any of the Environmental and other review processes required for the project to move forward.

Then there are what could be the potential concerns of those living on the east side of the City.

An area of town where residents may prefer that any industrial development of LNG terminals take place at industrial sites located away from the urban area.  Such as those current proposals currently listed for the Lelu Island site, Ridley Island, Grassy Point and even the south shore of Digby Island.

Tuesday's information session provided an interesting review of the city's plans, a good portion of it offering the focus as to how much revenue the City could gain from such a development.

An important aspect for the City, which could raise much needed tax revenues from the large industrial development to direct to any number of civic issues.

A shift in the current revenue model when it comes to large projects, which would see the City be able to avoid such financial constraints as the PILT  (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) requirements that many other industrial sites in the region are subject to.

However the plan for Tuck Inlet and the process ahead still raises any number of questions that have yet to be answered, or addressed by Council. Making for much that residents may wish to stay up to date on, as Council considers its options for Lot 444.

You can review both of those reports from this link to the City's website.

For more background on the Tuck Inlet proposal and Lot 444 issues see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Province issues certificates for Lelu Island Terminal and pipeline project

Tuesday was announcement day for the Province's Ministry of Environment, as the Environmental Assessment Office issued three Environmental Assessment Certificates for projects related to LNG development on the North Coast.

As we outlined earlier, Spectra Gas has been issued a an EAC for its proposed pipeline project, which featured the BG Gas proposal for Ridley Island as a destination for Northeast gas for shipment to world markets.

Also announced on Tuesday, were Environmental Assessment Certificates for the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Pipeline, a cross province conduit, which would feed Natural gas to the proposed Pacific Northwest Gas Terminal project at Lelu Island.

The Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline will run from the District of Hudson's Hope to the Lelu Island facility, should Petronas make a final investment decision to move that project forward.

That decision is anticipated to be made one way or the other sometime in mid-December, with any number of factors still be reviewed before the Malaysian energy giant announces it's plan..

The capital cost for the Pipeline alone is 5 billion dollars, with the province anticipating 23 full time jobs to be created upon its completion.

And while the announcement is another step towards the process of LNG development for the region, there is still a fair amount of work ahead for all of the projects that received their certificates on Tuesday.

As the province's information update outlines, various Federal, Provincial and Local government permits are still required for the projects to move forward and in the case of the Pacific NorthWest LNG facility, there is still the Federal Assessment Process that is currently under way to be heard from.

You can review the full announcement from the Provincial Government from this information Bulletin from Tuesday.

More background from the province on all three projects can be reviewed here.

For further items of interest on the Pacific NorthWest LNG Terminal and Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline project see our archive items here.

More information on the Spectra project can be found from our Prince Rupert LNG Terminal archives here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Spectra Energy receives Environmental Assessment Certificate for LNG pipeline project

For the moment they might be wondering where to deliver their product, but if or when an LNG Terminal project comes to the North Coast, Spectra Energy is now one step closer to delivering natural gas from the Northeast to the Northwest.

Yesterday, the pipeline company outlined the receipt of the environmental Assessment certificate  from the province of British Columbia, moving ahead the process for the company's Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission Pipeline.

You can review some of the key aspects of that application from this backgrounder from the company

One concern for the company, might be the status of the BG Terminal project for Ridley Island, Spectra is a partner with the BG group on that development, and they like many in Prince Rupert will be waiting for further word from the British head office when it comes to the pause that BG recently put on their plans for the North Coast.

Still, Spectra also has hopes to partner with other potential LNG developments in the region and will no doubt be making use of its Environmental Assessment Certificate announcement towards that quest as the months move forward.

Spectra's announcement was one of three released from the provincial government on Tuesday, with both the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Pipeline project and the proposed Lelu Island Terminal for Pacific Northwest LNG also receiving their EAC's yesterday.

You can review the Environmental Assessment Office information statement here, more background on the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Pipeline can be examined here, the relevant documentation for that project can be reviewed from the Provincial government site here.

We have more items related to the BG Group proposal and the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Pipeline available on our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Aurora LNG to move forward on site evaluation of Digby Island site for LNG Terminal development

Should Aurora LNG, the joint venture of CNOOC/Nexen, Inpex and JGC Exploration Canada move forward on the North Coast, the preferred location for an LNG Terminal will apparently be found on Digby Island.

Aurora has requested that the Province of British Columbia transfer their sole proponent agreement from the Grassy Point location to the Digby Island option, a request that has been agreed to by the Province.

Aurora believes that the Digby Island location is a more suitable location for its planned export facility and will now move forward with its site evaluation work for that proposed terminal site.

The Aurora project would proceed in phases, with the first stage calling for two LNG trains and Terminal facilities to be developed with a timeline of 2021 to 2023 shipments, with expansion plans for two addition trains and additional storage facilities to come beyond that 2023 date.

As part of the move by Aurora, the province has collected two non refundable payments totalling 18 million dollars related to the proposed projects.

More information regarding the shift in focus for the Aurora project can be found from this item from the Province's Natural Gas Development website.

For more background on the Aurora proposal see our archive page here.

Cross Posted from the North Coast Review

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

MLA Raises issues of wheel chair fees on BC Ferries

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice closed out the Monday Question period in the Legislature with an inquiry for Transportation Minister Todd Stone, seeking some answers on the topic of extra fees for wheelchair users on BC Ferries.

Ms. Rice called attention to the increased cost of sleeping quarters accommodation on BC Ferries which normally cost 90 dollars, but apparently feature the need to provide an extra 30 dollars if you require the use of a wheelchair.

Citing the unfair nature of the extra cost, as discrimination against those who use wheel chairs, she sought clarification on the issue from the Minister.

The Inside Passage and Haida Gwaii to Prince Rupert ferry routes are often overnight trips. For sleeping quarters it's $90, but if you use a wheelchair, it's $120. The Minister of Transportation has claimed he is trying to do what he can to "ensure that the fares are as affordable as they can possibly be." To the Minister of Transportation: why are people who use wheelchairs being discriminated against with this unfair extra fee?  -- MLA Jennifer Rice on Monday afternoon at the Legislature

Mr. Stone's response did not exactly address the issue very well, offering up some positioning on the nature of Transportation and accessibility themes.

The Minister on Monday, was not seemingly inclined to comment on the specific item of note raised during the Question Period, without receiving further background from Ms. Rice.

Though he did stress the attention that the province has towards accessibility issues. Something that it would appear is coming up a little short when it comes to travel on BC Ferries vessels.

 Let me say that in our efforts as government to position British Columbia as being one of the most accessible jurisdictions in North America and certainly in Canada, there is a huge role for transportation, obviously, to play in that. 

This is why, on a regular basis — whether it's involving transit buses, whether it involves B.C. ferries and other facets of transportation — we have as a matter of requirement to ensure that when new assets are replaced and retrofits are done, to the maximum extent possible we take into account accessibility requirements. 

Now, if the member has some specific information about a specific route, I would be more than happy to look into that further. Our goal is to be the most accessible jurisdiction in North America. -- Minister Todd Stone in response to MLA Rice's question of Monday

You can find the discussion in the pages of Hansard for Monday Afternoon Ms. Rice poses her question at just before the 1430 mark.

The question from the North Coast MLA to Minister Stone and his reply can be viewed below.

For more items related to developments at the Legislature see our Archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

AMHS Terminal project on the radar for Canadian Business Group

The upcoming Alaska Marine Highway dock renovation project for Prince Rupert is attracting a bit of attention from Canadian business interests.

With the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters organization, outlining its concerns over Buy American provisions for all projects funded by various levels of government in the United States.

The State of Alaska is currently taking bids for replacement of the Prince Rupert Terminal for their Ferry Service, and it's the Buy American limitations related to supplies for State and Federal projects in the US, that is of concern to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.

The Manufacturers Group highlighted how the Buy America provisions are in effect for projects that normally take place within the borders of the United States, which they suggest in the case of the Prince Rupert Terminal could see Canadian businesses shut out for a project taking place within their own borders.

The issue of  gaining access to the bidding process for US Federal and State projects on US territory has long been on the minds of the CME, going back to when the program was introduced in 2009.

Alaska Gov't review of
AMHS Terminal Project
for Prince Rupert
With the near 13 million dollar improvement project in Prince Rupert (click on photo on right) taking place on land leased from the Prince Rupert Port Authority,  CME is raising its concerns over the nature of the US Buy American program and it's impact on this particular project in British Columbia.

Towards seeking some relief from what the organization calls protectionism, the CME is looking to the City of Prince Rupert to take the issue up and approach other levels of government to taken action on the issue.

“An issue as contentious as Buy American protectionism appearing on federal land in BC demands our attention ... All municipalities across BC, and especially the city council of Prince Rupert, should adopt a reciprocity policy for all their infrastructure procurement contracts.” -- CME BC vice-president Marcus Ewert-Johns.

More on their concerns related to the Buy American Provisions can be found here.

The issue raised by the CME makes for an unusual situation for the City,  considering the importance Prince Rupert has placed in the past on the AMHS Terminal and Alaska Ferry service to the North Coast.

Not to mention, the prospect of local jobs being made available in the community during the life of the project ahead

All of which will make it interesting to see if the concerns of the CME, which may be laudable in overall aspiration, find much traction locally with Prince Rupert's City Council.

In June, we outlined that the first stage of the Terminal replacement project was about to get underway with release of the Environmental Management Plan,. The project was approved on September 16, 2014 as part of the Alaska Government's Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan for the Southeast region.

You can review our past items related to the plan for the Ferry Terminal replacement project from our Transportation archive page here.

Update: Tuesday afternoon the Prince Rupert Marine Highway Terminal story became a national item, starting a bit of an avalanche of coverage of the issue.

Globe and Mail-- "Buy America" shuts out Canadian Iron and Steel from ferry Terminal overhaul
Vancouver Sun-- Buy America policy means Alaska ferry terminal in Prince Rupert to be built with U.S. products
Vancouver Province-- New Prince Rupert Ferry Terminal must use American iron and steel
CTV News Vancouver -- Canadian Materials not welcome
Business in Vancouver-- Buy America rules shut B. C. companies out of B . C. project
Business News Network-- Buy American shuts out Canadian Iron and Steel from B. C. Ferry Terminal overhaul (video)
Wall Street Journal-- British Columbia Port Upgrade Subject to U. S. policies
National Post-- Buy America... in Canada: Ferry terminal on B. C. coast must be built using U. S. materials

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Monday, November 24, 2014

From Federal Government point of view; No change in mandate to sell Ridley Terminals

Ridley Terminals is once again the focus of a new item of note today from the  Globe and Mail, this one which features a look at the status of the process involved in selling the Crown Corporation to private interests.

Yesterday, as part of an overview of developments in the coal industry and the impact that they have had on Ridley Terminals, the Globe observed as to the declining volumes of coal shipments in recent months out of the North Coast Terminal and how those conditions may have played a role in a decision to hold back on further expansion of the terminal.

Today's Globe features a follow up article from Business reporter Brent Jang, who reviews the plan by the Federal Government to sell the Terminal.

Providing some background on the current status of that plan, with a statement from the Canada Development Investment Corporation, which is tasked with seeking a buyer for the North Coast coal terminal.

With CDEV Vice President Zoltan Ambrus delivering the update on those plans for the Globe:

“The sale process has faced numerous internal delays, but we continue to work to prepare for the sale of Ridley Terminals,”

“There have been no changes to the mandate given to CDEV by the government, which is to sell RTI through a competitive process in order to achieve best value from a purchaser who will operate Ridley Terminals on a long-term sustainable basis and with open access,”

Some background on that mandate from the Federal Government can be reviewed from this archived item from the Department of Finance website

More on what the CDEV is all about can be reviewed from their website

As we outlined on the blog yesterday, Mr. Jang provided a fairly expansive overview of the recent events at Ridley Terminals in the article that was published yesterday.

For more background on items related to Ridley Terminals see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review