Saturday, May 31, 2014

One final question from Jennifer Rice before the Legislature session ends

The topic of the need for a shuttle bus along Highway 16 made one more appearance at the British Columbia Legislature this week, with North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice taking one more opportunity to ask the Liberal government as to their progress on the issue that has been at the forefront of her time in Victoria.

As she outlined her latest question on the theme to the Minister of Justic during the Thursday morning Question period, Ms. Rice recounted that by her math, she had raised the concern to the Liberal government ten times previous during the recent sitting, without receiving what she believes was a satisfactory answer.

Commissioner Oppal said the need for a bus along the Highway of Tears is clear and the support for these services "is so broad and undisputed that no debate or further discussion is needed." I have asked the Justice Minister this straightforward question ten times this session, and every time she has side-stepped. 

The minister's refusal to simply answer the question is a disservice to every missing woman, to their friends, to their families and to the countless women who can be kept safe in the future if the bus services are in place along the Highway of Tears. 

To the Minister of Justice, for the 11th time this session and on behalf of the victims, their friends and their families, will she implement safe and affordable bus service along the Highway of Tears? Yes or no?

We suspect that the reply from Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton, which touched on many of the Liberals past talking points won't tide her over until the Legislature next meets.

Among the usual points of rebuttal on the topic from the Liberals, Ms. Anton once again recounted the current transportation options on the highway corridor, as well as steps taken to improve policing methods and communication options for those that travel through the region.

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry went to the north in British Columbia and heard from people in the north. It heard about the need for safety on all of the northern highways, because there were tragedies for women in many northern highways. 

That is why the recommendation is for safer transportation options on northern highways in British Columbia. That's why. It has to be looked at from two sides of that question. One is how much transportation and what kind of transportation, and the second is: what about safety on the highways the rest of the time? Indeed, there is transportation on Highway 16. 

There is bus, and there is train…. There's a health bus for people who need appointments. 

But, more important, all the rest of the time…. That is why it is important to have safe highways. That's why there is a partnership with Telus to have increased cell phone coverage. Now 70 percent of that highway has cell phone coverage. 

That's why our police in British Columbia have better communications between themselves than any other police department in North America — because it is safety at all times on those roads which is important. 

It's unfortunate for Ms. Rice that the Legislature session came to an end before a pair of writers from the Globe and Mail had posted the latest examination of the issues of Highway 16.

On Friday, Globe writers Sunny Dhillon and Ian Bailey outlined a fairly damning overview of the work of the Liberals when it comes to the Highway 16 corridor and the concerns that have been raised about it over the last decade.

As part of that review, the Globe article offers a startling, if not alarming, statistical review as to the nature of unemployment and poverty from Prince Rupert through to Prince George from recent years. 

And while those numbers from 2011 may have improved slightly in recent years, the work by the Globe shows that participation rates still make for a troubling aspect of the Highway 16 story, one that impacts on social issues in many communities Northern BC.

The review highlights many of the frustrations for those that have yet to benefit from the talk of boom times and how those frustrations have yet to be addressed, leaving many disillusioned at the lack of progress on any of the issues.

For those that may have given the topic just a cursory glance in the past, the Globe story makes for a good place to rejoin the discussion on the issues.

You can read the full article here.

Such work, outlining the many themes of concern in Northern BC, would have made for a powerful addition into the debate inVictoria.

However, the Legislature is now adjourned until the fall and with that,  MLA's and Government Ministers are returning to their various home constituencies.

Leaving the Globe article, as useful as it may have been to the discussion, be featured more as a thing of blog postings, twitter retweets and email forwards, before it may be entered into the Legislature debate at some future date.

The short exchange between Ms. Rice and the Attorney General can be found on the Legislature Draft minutes from Thursday morning it runs from the 1100 mark to 1105 on the timeline.

You can review the video Archive from the House Question period for Thursday from the Legislature Archive page. The Question and answer session starts at the sixty minute mark of the video player timeline.

For more items of note from developments at the British Columbia Legislature see our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Friday, May 30, 2014

The City of Prince Rupert provides its response to Watson Island case

The much anticipated City of Prince Rupert reply to the legal proceedings initiated by the Watson Island Development Corporation, has finally been delivered to the British Columbia court system.

A thirty four page response from the City's lawyers, that offers up a fair amount of background on the longest running story of the North Coast, with a good portion of the response featuring the City proclaiming the phrase "the city denies"...

In fact, over those 34 pages, that phrase is highlighted over thirty times. Covering off pretty well every item from the Watco Claim.

As the 48 points that make up the City's response to the legal issues come to its end, the key declaration has the City stating that "The City denies that Watco is entitled to the remedies claimed in the Notice of Civil Claim"

As well the filing concludes with the City seeking a discharge of the certificates of pending litigation registered by Watco on the lands, and costs incurred by the City as a result of the registration of the certificates of pending litigation.

As its final point, the City advises that it is seeking special costs or alternatively costs.

The Court document of Tuesday is the foundation of a recent story in the city's weekly newspaper, which uses much of the background from it for their review of the latest developments regarding Watson Island.

However, for some reason that story appears to be focused on one comment from 2009, reportedly from the Lax Kw'alaams Band.

Which as the city outlines in the court filing, states that the Lax Kw'alaams Band "threatened conflict".

That aspect of the review of the court document appears in the headline of the Northern View story, as well as a good portion of the opening paragraphs of the story.

It makes for an interesting focus for that review, considering that five years have almost passed since that original talking point. And for the most part, its relevance to the current situation that the city finds itself engaged in is never really made clear.

And while the remainder of the article touches on a few points to be found in the court filings, it's that theme of "threatened conflict" that most will probably make for the major take away from the article.

Neither the court document, nor the article however, provides any background as to what shape that potential for conflict may have taken. Making for a topic that Lax Kw'alaams representatives might wish to clarify for their neighbours at some point.

While those items make for an interesting side story to the topic, when it comes to the current setback on the Watson Island files, careful reading of the court filing might suggest that the clock perhaps starts a few years after that correspondence.

With late 2013 as the trigger point for the latest events that have us all heading back to the courtroom.

It's in December of 2013 where the two parties appear to find themselves on different pages when it comes to the future of the Watson Island, particularly when it came to interpretation of the status of the proposed sale of the industrial site.

Those disagreements on events moved through January and into March, with legal counsel representatives exchanging correspondences regarding a range of issues related to the Agreement under discussion.

All of which led up to the March 27th announcement that Watco had advanced litigation to the British Columbia Supreme Court, you can review some background on that development here.

Tuesday's filing of its response by the City (two months to the day from when the issue first became known) provides its opening rebuttal to those claims and lays the foundation for what could be another lengthy stretch of time in the courts for Prince Rupert's most infamous conversation topic.

Local residents with an interest in the theme can access the document for themselves through the Court Services Office website.

The cost of learning some of the intrigue behind the Watson Island story is a six dollar charge, with similar charges for further items if desired.

Those inclined can start the process here, type in watson island where it says organization and you will reach the CSO paywall to make your payment and then settle in for a little legal reading.

The full thirty four pages do provide a fairly useful recap of the travails of Watson Island, though this particular document is presented through the prism of the City's talking points.

The document is broken down into two key segments, the background to the dispute (25 and a half pages) and the legal response to the current course of litigation (8 and a half pages).

All of it makes the six dollar fee about the best investment an interested Rupertite might make, when it comes to a historical review of the recent issues of the one time pulp mill site.

Perhaps as a course of transparency for its residents, the City of Prince Rupert might wish to secure a universal licence for the court documents and post them to its newly refurbished website.

Such a move would be a very helpful step for interested members of the community, who no doubt are concerned about how a deal that seemed to be closing in on the homestretch but seven months ago, so suddenly went off the rails.

With the City filing their paperwork with the courts, the prospect of any kind of negotiated settlement between the two sides would appear to be slipping far beyond the horizon. Leaving us all to wait for the court dates to be set and then to stand by, as the drama of Watson Island once again plays out in a court room.

Perhaps while we wait, Council might offer up some background information for the community when it comes to this latest development.

As we've seen in the past, this Council is never shy to weigh in on topics of community interest (of late topics have included, the Port, Pinnacle Pellet and Environmental issues on LNG to name a few).

We would hope they might be equally engaged when it comes to the status of the current impasse over Watson Island, as well as to the ongoing costs of maintenance and legal fees regarding the current situation.

You can  re-familiarize yourself with the talking points of the past with our items of interest on the Watson Island files from our Archive page.

Cross Posted from North Coast Review

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lax Kw'alaams launches Marine Use study

With a growing number of LNG and other industrial projects proposed for the North Coast region, the Lax Kw'alaams Band is seeking consultation with their community, in order to document the ways that their members use and value the marine areas of their territory.

Towards that goal, the have begun the process of a Marine Use study, making use of two consultants to work with a team of researchers to get a better understanding of any issues of concern to
members of Lax Kw'alaams.

The two consultants, Julie Gardner and Tim Wilson, will be focusing on communicating the stories of the community by way of story documentation, pictures and maps.

To put together those information pieces, they will be conducting meetings with members of the Lax Kw'alaams in Prince Rupert, Terrace and Vancouver.

The finished product will be part of a report that the Band intends to use to assert their rights and title in any future negotiations and to ensure the protection of the Lax Kw'alaams marine environment over the long term.

You can review more on the project from the Lax Kw'alaams website.

For more items on developments with Lax Kw'alaams see our archive page.

Cross Posted from the North Coast Review

North Coast MLA joins debate on Bill 24 with thoughts on democracy

Proposed amendments to Bill 24 dealing with the Agricultural Land Reserve have been high among the list of concerns for NDP MLA's in this spring session of the Legislature.

With many of our elected representatives engaging in discussion on the proposed changes to the Agricultural Land reserve and the impact that those changes could bring.

B. C. set to overhaul Agricultural Land Reserve
The topic of Bill 24 is one that has clearly caught the interest of North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, who as we outlined on the blog, spoke to the issue two weeks ago.

Ms. Rice once again joined in on that contentious discussion this week, taking part in House Sessions on the theme on both Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.

Adding her name to those that would prefer to see the issue  referred to a Select Standing Committee and with the recommendation that witnesses be invited to those sessions to assist in those deliberations.

As part of her review of the topic for the House, Ms. Rice  recalled her concerns on the nature of democracy that spurred her on to politics, first as a city councillor in Prince Rupert and then in her bid for a seat at the Legislature.

In the course of her comments to the Legislature, she offered up her overview of the disengagement of the voter to the political process in recent years.

Many of the non-voting population that I engaged during my election campaign — of any generation — stated that they felt their vote didn't matter. 

I feel that when governments fail to listen to their constituents, we witness a disengagement and an erosion of democracy. An erosion of democracy ensues. Failure to consult on this crucial piece of legislation is an oligarchic move, in my opinion. 

My hope would be that we encourage, not discourage, civic participation.

They are comments which make for some interesting observations on the theme of democracy.

Though from her short stay at the municipal level, it was a topic that perhaps didn't get a full review from her council counterparts.

At least if we judge democracy and civic engagement by the string of in cameras sessions that she was a part of during her time on City Council. Something that surely contributes to the impression that the voter doesn't matter and offers up impressions of a lack of transparency.

One item in particular comes to mind on the theme of civic engagement. That being last years City Financial discussions, where Council held a public forum to seek guidance on their Budget deliberations, only to then disappear behind the closed doors to disregard most of that consultation.

As events of the time moved forward, Council instead worked out a deal with CUPE to seemingly solve the financial concerns of the day. Though terms of that deal were never delivered to the public either before, or after the public forum, our contribution to the process apparently no longer required.

You can review some of that discussion at the Council chambers from our timeline of May 13, 2013, though the contributions at the time from our now MLA were rather limited to the theme. Her thoughts perhaps focused on her quest for provincial office that was taking place last year.

Beyond that rather stark reminder of dis-engagement, near as we remember there were more than a few other issues to that theme during her time on Council.

Items that local residents perhaps might have wished to have seen a bit more transparency on from the local government that she was a part of at the time.

You can review her talking points on democracy to the Legislature from Tuesday at the 1820 mark of the Draft minutes of the Legislature session from Tuesday.

Her contribution from Wednesday can be found at the 1510 to 15 30 mark.

For more items on developments in Victoria see our Archive page.

Cross Posted from the North Coast Review

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

North Coast Health issues raised at Legislature committee session

Topics ranging from concerns over levels of midwife availability on the North Coast, to the impact of BC Ferry cuts to medical health access on Haida Gwaii made up a good portion of a Legislature Committee session on Tuesday,

During the course of her speaking time in the Health Estimates Committee, North Coast MLA Jennifer rice raised the issues to Health Minister Dr. Terry Lake.

She began her review of Health issues on the North Coast and Haida Gwaii by addressing maternity issues across the region.

"In a study by the Rural Physicians of Canada, which looked at four rural northern B.C. communities, it was found that "maternity care can affect the physical, cultural, spiritual and economic makeup of a community" and that "it is not a service that can be removed or altered without having some effect on a variety of other sectors of the community."

My question is: what is the ministry doing to address the worrisome trends of a decrease in maternity care providers and an increase in birth rates in the northern B.C. communities?"

Minister Lake outlined a number of the initiatives regarding that issue that are currently ongoing,  referencing a government paper called "Primary Maternity Care, Moving Forward Together" as one such consultation.

Also among her discussion points for the Tuesday session was a number of questions on the theme of paramedic services to rural and remote communities.

"Local governments, regional districts and paramedics themselves have been calling for solutions to paramedic shortages in rural and remote communities, with new models of service delivery, such as the community paramedicine model that the minister mentioned earlier. [1425] Can the minister provide an update to the government's intentions when it comes to community paramedicine?"

The Health Minister provided a short review of the evolving nature of delivering those services to rural communities and some of the challenges that the government is finding in securing recruits for those regions. He further advised that the Health Ministry is working with Northern Health to address such concerns as those recently expressed both in Stewart and on Haida Gwaii.

On health concerns for Haida Gwaii, Ms. Rice also outlined the growing concerns there when it comes to issues related to recent cutbacks of BC Ferry service and the impact that those cuts are having on medical care on the Islands.

As part of her review of the medical concerns on Haida Gwaii, she read out a letter from a doctor on Haida Gwaii, which highlighted the nature of the transportation issues that Island residents face when trying to access further medical care in Prince Rupert and beyond.

That correspondence and a full account of Tuesday's Committee Session can be found from the Legislature Draft minutes, the Health aspects of Tuesday's discussion can be reviewed from the 1415 mark  to the 1510 mark of the timeline.

The Video Archive of the Committee Session can be found from the Index page of the Legislature, the video review of Tuesday's Committee session is listed as Committee A.

Ms. Rice's contribution to the discussion starts at the 35 minute mark and carries on through to the 93 minute mark.

For more items on developments at the BC Legislature see our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Jennifer Rice raises concerns on "systemic issues" from oil and gas industry

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice provided for one of her longer topic reviews on Tuesday, as she outlined a string of questions for Minister of Health Dr. Terry Lake at a Committee session on Health Estimates.

The Tuesday afternoon session, provide the MLA an opportunity to make a number of inquiries on a range of topics related to LNG development both at the source of the gas of the Peace region and for potential development of terminals on the North Coast.

Speaking to the theme of rural health concerns, Ms. Rice offered up questions when it comes to risk assessment on oil and gas development. .

"Today I'd like to start with some questions on the human health risk assessment in regards to the oil and gas in the northeastern part of our province. During the public engagement phase the Fraser Basin Council received over 300 submissions from stakeholders outlining their health concerns as a result of oil and gas development. Of these, several questions were raised about gas flaring, as these pollutants can wreak havoc with human health. 

A Finnish study found an increase in spontaneous abortions among populations chronically exposed to low dosages of H2S, and multiple studies have found that chronic exposure is linked with depression, fatigue and reduced mental function. 

My question is: how will the Ministry of Health work with the Ministry of Natural Gas to address these health concerns directly related to flaring?

The Minister offering up the replay that public engagement on the topic is using a three phase approach,
with the first phase having recently come to an end, he advised her that the review of  the health aspects of LNG development are part of the second phase.

Ms. Rice then outlined a string of concerns when it comes to the prospect of development of the oil and gas industry and the impacts that it can have on family and social issues in those communities that will be at the centre of that development.

"How will the ministry work with the other ministries to address the widespread systematic issues that arise from this industry? For instance, we know that there is an increase in prostitution catering to cash-rich oil and gas workers in these communities, and we know that the shift work can severely disrupt family life and lead to an increase in domestic violence, strain on children, marital breakdown and so on. 

How will the ministry work with other ministries such as the Ministry of Children and Family Development or the Ministry of Justice to address these widespread effects of the oil and gas industry in northern B.C. communities?

She also raised a number of discussion points on work camps and the Government's oversight on the prospect of widespread growth of those camps in the forestry, mining and oil and gas development sectors across Northern BC.

Among her questions, the distribution of the camps across Northern BC, the number of workers at the sites currently in place and how many of those facilities may be required for camps that are expected to be developed.

You can review the full exchange on the health and social concerns of industrial development from the Legislature archive page. Ms. Rice offers up her questions from the 1345 to 1415 mark of the draft minutes timeline.

The video archive of the session can be found from the Legislature archive page, the Committee session took place on Tuesday afternoon and is listed as A on the video listings. Ms. Rice outlines her concerns from the 8 minute mark to the 35 minute mark on the video player timeline.

For more on developments at the BC Legislature see our Archive page.

Cross Posted from the North Coast Review

No open door to oil for Lax Kw'alaams

Mayor Garry Reece of Lax Kw'alaams has made things pretty clear to the Federal Natural Resources Minister, the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation will welcome some discussion on issues of LNG and other energy projects, but when it comes to oil, the door is closed.

Mr. Reece spoke on Tuesday following the announcement of two new initiatives from the Federal and Provincial governments over energy development on the North Coast.

However in this article from the Globe and Mail, he makes the point that his community will not support heavy-oil projects such as Northern Gateway.

Some time in June it is expected that the Federal Government will announce whether that pipeline project will go forward, the National Energy Board review panel offered up approval of the project with some 200 conditions to go along with it.

Since then, opposition to the project has been steadfast, with a recent referendum in Kitimat providing a result that provided another public setback for the Enbridge proposal.

And while Mr. Reece clearly outlined the opposition of his community to the Northern Gateway pipeline, there has as of yet been little comment from Lax Kw'alaams or Metlakatla, to the proposal of an oil refinery and shipment terminal at Grassy Point.

That project has been promoted by the North Coast's Calvin Helin, who has been providing much background on his Eagle Spirit Energy Project  for almost a year now.

Recently Eagle Spirit announced that the Aquilini Group would provide financial backing for the ambitious project, which would refine Alberta oil and ship it from a proposed Grassy Point facility.

While Mr. Reece has firmly shut the door on the Northern Gateway concept, supporters of Mr. Helin's proposal most likely will continue to point towards their project, as perhaps something that may yet find favour with local First Nations.

With a renewed focus on energy projects on the North Coast, the prospect of an oil refinery and shipment terminal is something that the local First Nation leaders should offer up some guidance on.

Providing an overview for the region, as to how they are receiving Mr. Helin's proposal and how it fits in with the  vision of First Nations on energy projects progressing on the North Coast.

Cross Posted from the North Coast Review

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Federal and Provincial governments to work with Coastal First Nations on energy engagement

As we outlined on the blog earlier today, representatives of the Federal, Provincial and First Nations governments all gathered in Prince Rupert on Tuesday afternoon.

Providing background on a pair of initiatives that will provide easier access  and engagement on energy infrastructure issues for First Nations of the North Coast.

Greg Rickford, the Federal Minister of Natural Resources outlined the nature of the twin approaches to community involvement.  With local participation in the Major Projects Management Office West, which serves to coordinate activities on energy infrastructure with BC First Nations.

As well, First Nations on the North Coast will become participants in a Tripartite Forum, sharing information with Federal and Provincial levels of government and identify common interests on issues that directly impact on Aboriginal participation in the development of energy and Natural resources on the North Coast.

Both Mayor Gary Reece of Lax Kw'alaams and Chief Harold Leighton of the Metlakatla First Nation heralded today's developments as a welcome addition to the dialogue between their communities and both Federal and provincial governments.

As part of the discussion on today's announcement, the success of the Rail-Utility corridor at Ridley Island was presented as a blue print of sorts.

Highlighting the cooperation and opportunities that First Nations on the North Coast are looking to continue on with, as they look for access to  energy infrastructure projects that are preparing to move forward in the region.

"Today's announcement by Minister Rickford is an important step forward in strengthening the relationship between the federal government and First Nations, including the Coast Tsimshian, on energy projects. Members of our community want to ensure projects are safe for the environment, our marine resources, and generate business opportunities and jobs for our members, as we have done successfully on initiatives like the Road-Rail Utility Corridor Project." -- Mayor Garry Reece Lax Kw'alaams First Nation . . . 

"We are pleased to see the federal government recognizes the importance of working with First Nations on issues related to energy infrastructure. The Coast Tsimshian are proud of its record as business partner on the Road-Rail Utility Corridor Project. Most of the workers on the construction site are from the region and about one half are from local First Nations communities. They are bringing the project in on schedule while gaining valuable work experience." -- Chief Harold Leighton Metlakatla First Nation.

Details of today's announcement can be found here.

You can review some background on the Major Management Office for the West from the Natural Resources Canada website.

Also available from that portal is a review of the Tripartite Forum process announced at today's media conference in Prince Rupert.

 Cross posted from North Coast Review

Prince Rupert Port Authority introduces new member of Board of Directors

The Prince Rupert Port Authority is adding one more name to its listings of the Board of Directors, announcing that Mr. Kenneth Clayton of South Delta has been appointed to the Board.

Mr. Clayton,  graduated from UBC's Public Civil Engineering Program in 1971 and has provided leadership on a number engineering projects in the province through the decades.

Since 1990, he has served as President of Humphrey Construction, providing general contracting experience to the fishing and port industry in the province.

“Engineering and construction have been a lifetime commitment and career, one that I have enjoyed — and one that I remain totally involved in and passionate about,” ... “It will be a privilege to be able to use my experience to help guide the Port of Prince Rupert’s growth and development in concert with its Directors and employees.” -- Kenneth Clayton on what he will bring to the Board of Directors of the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

His announcement was made by Mr. Bud Smith, Chairman of the Board of the Prince Rupert Port Authority, you can review the list of other members of board here.

Details on yesterdays appointment of Mr. Clayton can be reviewed here.

For more items of interest on developments at the Prince Rupert Port authority see our archive page here.

 Cross Posted from the North Coast Review

Monday, May 26, 2014

LNG "Boot Camp" comes to Prince Rupert June 2nd and 3rd

“We’re working to ensure that B.C. businesses can participate in the opportunity LNG offers. Workshops and seminars will provide practical information including specific tips on what proponents look for in a contractor and the steps small- and medium-sized companies need to do to be ready to take part when these global proponents start looking for B.C.-based suppliers. 

Premier Christy Clark made a commitment to help B.C. companies connect with the opportunity of LNG and these boot camps and workshop are part of meeting that commitment.” -- Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skill Training and Labour, on the the LNG Boot Camp experience

An opportunity for local businesses to learn more about accessing the hopeful tide of LNG development comes up next week in Prince Rupert.

The Northern Development Initiative Trust is bringing its popular LNG Boot Camp sessions to Prince Rupert, setting up shop at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre on June 2nd and 3rd.

For local business owners and contractors, the Boot Camp project provides background on the many proposed industrial projects for the North Coast region, providing some helpful advice on how to work the procurement process for those developments.

Some of the main points to be reviewed during the sessions include:

What supplies and services will be required by project proponents.

How local businesses can take advantage of the major projects and become part of the supply chain of goods and services.

Understanding the bidding process.

Understanding more on the opportunities and obstacles that could be part of the process.

Make contact points with those who can your business get prepared for LNG development.

The Contractor Boot Camp takes place from 5 to 8 PM on Monday, June 2nd.

Tuesday provides for more background for those interested in preparing to make a bid on LNG opportunities in the region.

The Tuesday morning session starts at 8:15 features a workshop as well as a Question and Answer period.

In addition it provides for a good opportunity for local contractors and business leaders to conduct some networking with those that may be able to assist them in accessing the LNG industry and the requirements that will come from development.

Attendance to the both the Contractor boot camp and the Proposal and Bid workshop is by registration, those looking to secure a spot in the Boot Camp should contact Paul Venditelli at the Prince Rupert and Port Edward Economic Development Office, he can be reached at 250- 627- 5138.

After the Prince Rupert events, the LNG boot camp program moves on to Kitimat on June 4 and Terrace on June 5.

You  can learn more about the two days of events on LNG development from the NDIT website.

Some background on the program can be found from the BC Government website.

For more on LNG development on the North Coast see our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Friday, May 23, 2014

Over 2.8 million dollars in infrastructure funding available to Prince Rupert from Federal Gas Fund

The shovels can hit the ground shortly for any number of Prince Rupert infrastructure projects, as an agreement has been reached on funding through the Federal Gas Tax Fund.

Thursday, the Province of British Columbia outlined the terms of a renewed agreement on the Federal Gas Tax Fund, which will provide local governments across BC with the opportunity to choose and plan infrastructure projects based on their priorities.

“Renewing the Gas Tax Agreement sustains support for key local infrastructure projects in British Columbia over the next ten years. Achieved by a partnership between the Government of British Columbia, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the Government of Canada, the agreement provides significant funding to help B.C. communities continue to prosper as great places to live, work, invest, play and visit.” --  Coralee Oakes, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development speaking to the Gas Tax funding agreement with the Federal Government 

James Moore, the Federal Minister of Industry, Provincial Minister Oakes and Rhona Martin, President of the UBCM all heralded the agreement as a key aspect of municipal funding for infrastructure concerns across the province.

The news will be a welcome development for the City of Prince Rupert, which has a long list of projects to address some of the aging infrastructure in the city.

According to the table distributed yesterday by the UBCM, Prince Rupert will receive $2,873,131.74  in funding over the next five years.

2014-15 -- $552,519.10
2015-16 -- $552,519.10
2016-17 -- $580,145.38
2017-18 -- $580,145.38
2018-19 -- $607,802.78

Port Edward has been allocated $373,772.31 over the same five year period.

2014-15 -- $71,855.64
2015-16 -- $71,855.64
2016-17 -- $75,448.44
2017-18 -- $75,448.44
2018-19 -- $79,162.15

The full list, featuring amounts for other Northwest communities can be found here.

Details on the Gas Tax Fund Announcement can be found here.

The UBCM explains more on the program through this item in the Compass.

The nature of infrastructure requirements in Prince Rupert have been a frequent discussion topic at Prince Rupert City Council, the short list of what's in the works for the year ahead can be found below.

City Engineering Department outlines its "To Do" list for 2014

For more on developments at City Hall see our Archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

CEAA reportedly requests more information regarding Petronas Environmental Assessment

PacificNorthwest LNG will apparently have to do a bit more research when it comes to their bid for environmental approval for their Lelu Island Terminal Proposal.

According to an item posted today from the Bloomberg News Group, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has asked Petronas/Pacific Northwest LNG to provide further details regarding questions about the impact of the proposed project on marine resources, air quality and how it may affect aboriginal groups in the region.

The request was reportedly made by way of a correspondence to the company on May 9th.

The time that is required by PacificNorthwest to compile the additional information will not be held against their 365 day time limit for the assessment.

However, the need for more information by the CEAA could mean a delay when it comes to any final approval decision from the Federal Regulator.

You can review the Bloomberg News item here.

The CEAA page for the Pacific Northwest LNG Project can be found here.

Our archive of items on the Pacific Northwest LNG proposal can be found here.


By way of his twitter feed, Globe and Mail reporter Brent Jang, provided some background on the  response by Petronas/Pacific Northwest LNG to the CEAA developments.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Calvin Helin reviews his Eagle Spirit Energy project for VICE

For television viewers looking for cutting edge news documentaries these days, HBO Canada's VICE contributions are making for must watch television.

With the reporters from VICE taking on stories and offering background that sometimes is missed by the more traditional media groups.

Beyond their weekly productions for HBO Canada, VICE also hosts a website  and YouTube site full of much of their work and other items that their editorial and reporting staff have found to be worthy of follow up.

One item we came across on the Vice website this week, is the proposed pipeline and oil terminal project proposed by Calvin Helin through the Eagle Spirit Holding Group.

Discussion on that proposal has started to percolate in recent months, particularly after the vote in Kitimat that provided for a less a rejection of the Enbridge project by those that voted.

Mr. Helin touches on the Northern Gateway proposal and the Kitimat vote as part of his interview, providing his observations on the setbacks that the project has faced in communities across Northern BC.

He also makes mention of the term "social licence" the new talking point it appears when it comes to any form of development in Northern British Columbia.

"Social Licence" was a term that first came up last fall through a household mailer sent out by NDP MP Nathan Cullen.

Since that time, the concept of the Social Licence has been used in discussions ranging from any number of proposed developments in Northern BC, focusing mainly on the mining, forestry and LNG extraction proposals of late.

How that Social Licence concept may impact on the large scale projects proposed for the region has yet to be fully outlined thus far however.

As for the Eagle Spirit Terminal project that is proposed for the Grassy Point area of the North Coast, Mr. Helin provides much the same background on it as he has in previous interviews. Highlighting the Grassy Point option as a better location than what Enbridge had proposed in Kitimat.

He also reviews for VICE the concept of the proposed synthetic crude oil upgrader that would be built to ship the processed product to world markets.

The interview doesn't offer up much in the way of new information on the project, nor does it outline the fact that not everyone in Northern British Columbia is on board with the Eagle Spirit proposal.

However, it does suggest that the project is gaining some interest beyond the Northwest, which should serve to move the conversation further in the months to come.

You can review the full interview from the Vice website here.

For some of our background items on the Eagle Spirit Holdings project see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Prince Rupert Mayor Jack Mussallem wants region to stay in the LNG Race

As LNG proponents and government officials continue to outline the future of LNG for the province at the LNG in BC convention this week, Mayor Jack Mussallem it would seem has made note of the comments from the CEO of Petronas Energy on Wednesday.

As we outlined on the blog yesterday, the Petronas CEO issued a warning shot of sorts on LNG Suggesting that the LNG industry needs a bit of certainty over the province's plans on taxation and for good measure, gently suggested that the price point from the province should not be at a level that will drive investment away.

Mayor Muasslem picked up on the theme of those words for Vancouver radio station CKNW,  expressing the opinion that Prince Rupert has a bit of interest in the ongoing conversation, offering up the thought that moving LNG forward should take place in a seamless manner.

The Mayor's comments have been replayed through this morning on CKNW, you can listen to his observations from the Audio player for Friday morning ( the first sample of the day can be found at 6AM see 1 minute 55 seconds)

"There is a window of opportunity here, this is a great amount of awareness, and I don’t think anybody wants to miss that.” -- Mayor Jack Mussallem, speaking to CKNW about LNG development for the North Coast.

In recent months, the Mayor and Council have spent a fair amount of their council sessions discussing the potential impact of LNG terminal development and how it could make for a major shift in the economic fortunes of the region.

For now, the prospect of LNG development appears to be the main planning option that the City has been focusing its future towards.

To have some cautionary words provided by the main proponent of the project which many believe is the most advanced on it timeline, probably is providing for a fair bit of interest and maybe even a bit of concern from City Hall this week.

Background on the proposed Petronas project known as PacificNorthwest LNG can be found here.

You can review more of the developments from the LNG in BC conference from our archive page here.

Cross Posted from the North Coast Review

Thursday, May 22, 2014

BCTF responds to employer's salary rollback and lockout plans

BCTF President Jim Iker pointed the finger of blame directly at Premier Christy Clark on Thursday, providing his response to the latest developments in the ongoing labour dispute.

The temperature of those negotiations jumped significantly with the release of this letter to the BCTF, as the British Columbia Public School Employers' Association outlined what steps they intend to take in their response to the rotating strikes by the teachers set to start next week.

Those plans, as announced by the BCSPEA would see wage rollbacks put in place with the start of rotating strikes next week, as well as the announcement that secondary school teachers would be locked out as June 25 and 26.

A General lock out would then follow on June 27th.

The lockout will not take place if an agreement is reached and ratified before the 25th of June.

As part of the letter to the BCTF, the employers once again confirmed their offer of a settlement bonus of $1,200 per bargaining unit FTE which would take effect if an agreement is reached and ratified by the end of June.

Mr. Iker provided a stern rebuke of those moves, highlighting the anger that many in his membership have towards the Premier and her Government's approach to labour negotiations.

As we outlined on the blog on Tuesday, the rotating strike schedule announced earlier this week will see School District 52 in Prince Rupert behind picket lines on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, School District 52 posted an advisory to their website, providing background on the local aspect of the dispute and how the School District plans to deliver more information to parents.

During the course of his reply to the employers association, Mr. Iker took aim at the lock out plans of the Government, suggesting that extra curricular activities, concerts, final marks from final exams and graduation ceremonies could all be affected as part of the lock out declaration from the Government.

He also outlined how the lockout declaration for the end of June would result in teachers no longer being able to help students at lunch and would limit their ability to talk to parents.

He expressed his frustration with the current state of discussions and the impact that the government moves will have on teachers and students:

"Christy Clark is stripping students of the valuable one on one time that they have with their teachers "  ..."This Government is so desperate to attack teachers, that now they are putting student academics, well being and extra curricular activities at risk"

The BCTF clearly has decided to target the Premier, frequently referring to the latest shift in the labour dynamic as "Christy Clark's lockout".

A shift of attention that is not surprising, as past discussions have indicated that the Premier is a lightning rod for a significant number of the BCTF membership.

As he was closing out his remarks, the BCTF President again touched on the frequent theme from the Teachers, that of seeking a resolution to the "real issues of education, underfunding, cuts to specialized teachers, class size, class composition" 

He called on the Provincial government to: "own up to their mistakes, their record of bad faith bargaining and put a fair deal on the table, smaller classrooms, more supports for children with special needs, extra one on one time with all kids and a fair wages"

The two sides return to the bargaining table later this afternoon, though the current escalation of emotions might make for little in the way of progress in the short term.

The BCTF head urged parents to contact their MLA to put pressure on the Liberal government to review its bargaining stance and the impact it will have on students.

A video archive of Mr. Iker's response can be found here. When the BCTF posts an information release on today's talking points, it will be posted here.

In follow up questions from reporters following his presentation, Mr. Iker also outlined how his membership had concerns over the growing gap in salaries between British Columbia and other provinces.

As for the pending salary cuts with the start of rotating strikes, the BCTF is taking its case to the Labour Relations Board on May 29th, looking for a resolution to those concerns.

An interesting review of the emotional impact of the labour dispute can be found through the #bced twitter feed, which is providing for much in the way of information and comment on the ongoing labour dispute.

It provides a glimpse into some of the debate in the province when it comes to education and the current dispute.

We have been keeping an archive on the fast pace of developments on the Teacher's dispute.  We update that archive regularly through the day, you can review the latest news on the issues here.

For items related to education on the North Coast see our Archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Petronas Pushes for Province to consider LNG taxation plans carefully and quickly

The cool temperatures on the North Coast this week aren't all from weather patterns, with a speech at the opening session of the LNG in BC conference providing for a bit of a shiver for those on the North Coast hopeful of an economic boom based on LNG development.

The Malaysian Energy Giant Petronas, which is the leading proponent at the moment for LNG terminal development on the North Coast issued a warning of sorts to the Province on Wednesday. Outlining how delays in the tax regime to be put in place by the BC Government may derail the LNG industry in the province before it even gets off the ground.

Speaking at the LNG in BC Conference in Vancouver, Petronas CEO, Tan Sri Dato Shamsul Azhard Abbas suggested that British Columbia did not want to follow the path of Australia, which saw its percolating LNG boom begin to cool off in recent years. Mainly over delays and differences of opinion between the government and LNG proponents. As well as the increasing cost of doing business for LNG firms looking to operate in Australia.

During the course of his presentation, the Petronas CEO reviewed the timeline that his company has when it comes to making a final decision on the Lelu Island project later this year.

But he stressed that the decision will be based on whether it makes economic sense.  Suggesting that one of the outstanding issues that Petronas officials are keeping  an eye on is the Province's plans in the way of taxation on LNG.

In his Wednesday speech, the CEO offered up a gentle nudge that the Provincial Government needs to sharpen its pencils a bit when it comes to their thoughts on taxes, otherwise they may be putting their dreams of LNG development in peril.

Some of the reviews of the warning shots from Petronas can be found below:

May 22-- Petronas' CEO has warning for B. C.: don't fumble LNG like Australia did
May 21-- Petronas CEO warns BC against 'unrealistic expectations' on LNG
May 21-- B. C. told to release LNG tax regime or risk losing Malaysian business
May 21-- Petronas Says Canada Must Avoid Australia mistakes in LNG
May 21-- Petronas warns Canada not to slaughter its LNG 'Golden Egg"
May 21-- Petronas says Canada gas stocks halfway to goal for LNG investment
May 21-- BC's new LNG tax system still up in the air

The PacificNorthwest LNG project is considered to be one of the leading prospects for LNG development in Northwest BC, having made much preparation work already towards their final investment decision of the fall.

You can find more on the plans for the PacificNorthwest LNG terminal at Lelu Island from our archive page.

For a full review of developments at the LNG in BC conference see our items here and here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

LNG in BC conference 2014: Conference Notes

Our archive of news reviews of the events and topics of discussion from the Province of British Columbia's LNG conference in Vancouver from May 21 to 23.

May 22

May 22-- Russia-China pact strong signal to Canada, U. S.
May 22-- Russia-China gas deal more a threat to LNG pricing than volumes
May 22-- British Columbia can compete with Russian natural gas deal: Minister

May 21

May 21-- Petronas CEO warns BC against 'unrealistic expectations' on LNG
May 21-- B. C. told to release LNG tax regime or risk losing Malaysian business
May 21-- Petronas Says Canada Must Avoid Australia mistakes in LNG
May 21-- How to invest in Canada's LNG export boom
May 21-- BC's Minister of Natural Gas Development not worried about competition in global LNG market
May 21-- Petronas warns Canada not to slaughter its LNG 'Golden Egg"
May 21-- Premier Clark promotes BC's LNG industry at conference
May 21-- Petronas says Canada gas stocks halfway to goal for LNG investment
May 21-- BC's new LNG tax system still up in the air
May 21-- Russia undercuts B. C. with mega gas deal
May 21-- B. C. LNG off on the wrong foot
May 21-- Russia-China gas deal no threat to Canadian West Coast LNG prospects, analysts say
May 21-- China and Russia's US$400 billion natural gas deal "complicates" new LNG projects
May 21-- Russia-China gas deal puts heat on B. C.'s LNG sector
May 21-  Premier pooh-poohs massive China-Russia LNG deal
May 21-- Premier Promoting LNG at conference in Vancouver

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

North Coast well represented at Provincial LNG conference

Premier Clark kicked off a three day conference on LNG in BC on Wednesday, providing the opening address and a review of her Liberal Government's commitment towards turning the province into an LNG force in the world.

She opened her commentary as word was breaking on a major international deal between China and Russia, which some suggest could tilt the current playing field for many countries, including Canada. Still, the Premier expressed confidence that British Columbia would remain an important contributor to the energy sector and with a number of major LNG projects on the drawing board for Northwest British Columbia, those hoping to see that shift in economic fortunes in the region delivered, no doubt are hoping she is proven correct.

Premier Clark promotes BC's LNG industry at conference
Russia-China gas deal no threat to Canadian West Coast LNG prospects, analysts say
China and Russia's US$400 billion natural gas deal "complicates" new LNG projects
Russia-China gas deal puts heat on B. C.'s LNG sector
Premier pooh-poohs massive China-Russia LNG deal
Russia undercuts B. C. with mega gas deal

And while the Premier looked at the larger picture of LNG in BC, the conference will be provide for a fascinating look at where those projects may be today and what the future for them may bring.

Towards that overview, there is a fairly heavy Northwest influence in attendance at the Vancouver Convention Centre, with many participants preparing to provide some background on the pace of development over the three days of the conference.

Wednesday featured presentations from Industry participants in the region, with both major developments for Prince Rupert represented in Vancouver.

BG Canada, Spectra Energy and PacificNorthwest LNG representatives participated in a number of panels, featuring such topics as LNG Workforce Development, Global Markets for BC and B. C.'s LNG Advantage. The proponents of the Northwest Industrial projects provided overviews of their projects and the prospects for British Columbia in the world energy markets.

Among those making presentations today are a number of officials and industry representatives of the major proposals that we all know by name both in Kitimat and Prince Rupert.

For the North Coast the speakers list looks as follows:

Thursday May 22 --   An Afternoon Panel on First Nations' Perspectives: Featured on the Panel Garry Reece, Chief of Lax Kw'alaams Band and Ross Wilson, Executive Director of the Metlakatla Stewardship Society.

Thursday, May 22-- An Afternoon Panel on Communities' Perspectives,  Representing the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce, is Chamber President John Farrell.

Thursday, May 22-- An Afternoon Panel on BC Community Benefits, Representing the city of Prince Rupert is City Manager Robert Long.

Short snapshot reviews of all the Northwest participants can be found here, providing some background to their work and what they bring to the conference.

In addition to the dialogue, panel conferences and keynote addresses the conference features a Trade Show, with exhibits from a number of names familiar on LNG files for the North Coast.

Some of the booths and exhibits that will be showcasing the region and the prospect of development in it include:

Aurora LNG Partnership
Pacific Northwest LNG
Spectra/BG Gas
Kitsault Energy
Nisga'a Lisims Government

In addition to the industry, government and First Nations participation, there are a number of Northwest companies and organizations taking part in the trade show aspect of the three day conference.

The full listing of the 200 plus trade show participants can be reviewed here.

Rich Coleman, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Natural Gas Development, brings the conference to an end on Friday afternoon, with the closing address.

You can learn more about the three day conference from the LNG in BC Agenda page here, or for a bit more background from the conference website, or through their twitter feed which is accessed by #LNGinBC2014

We follow up the developments in Vancouver with some background pieces culled from a variety of sources over the three day event, we'll feature them in our archive page for the conference here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

An LNG Pushback?

Notice was delivered last week outlining that the comment period for the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project was now open, an opportunity for interested observers to provide feedback and express concerns over the proposed route of the pipeline to bring natural gas from Northeast BC gas fields to a terminal point at Lelu Island.

Open Houses are planned for communities across Northern British Columbia from June 16 - 25, where residents can learn more about the proposed pipeline development.

You can review their summary of their application for an Environmental Assessment certificate here.

And while the BC Environmental Assessment Office compiles that information, a much larger conversation is taking place in communities across the Northern region.

With the many proposed routes and growing scale of development in their regions, making for much in the way of discussion. Particularly among those with concerns over the entire subject of LNG and the impact that development may have on their communities.

The topic is of key interest among those opposed to the extraction of natural gas by way of fracking, or those with concerns over the proposed pipeline routes.

As both groups begin to mount pressure to slow down the frantic pace of proposed developments in their areas.

Both the Vancouver Observer news site and to a lesser degree the Tyee website, have been highlighting much of that push back in recent weeks.

As article after article provides background to some of the opposition to the plans and what it all may mean for the plethora of proposed terminal projects for the Northwest.

One article in particular, provided for what may turn into a fairly controversial aspect of LNG pipeline development.

As some members of the Gitxsan First Nation are suggesting that they're names have been used without their permission, offering up their endorsement of development when none was provided.

That concern began to gain some traction earlier this month, as the Vancouver Observer provided some background on the issue and the prospect of concerns, when it comes to past endorsements from other First Nation Communities in Northern British Columbia.

Beyond that controversial aspect of moving the pipelines forward, environmentalists and other citizens across Northern BC have also started to create awareness of their concerns and look to send their message to the provincial government that the path to LNG riches may not go quite according to schedule.

Some of those items of interest can be found below:

Without license: Many B. C. First Nations still oppose LNG
"Over my dead body": northern BC residents overwhelmed by massive LNG push
Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition unites loggers, farmers, miners against rampant LNG development
Local company harassed for LNG work
Pipeline exploration work goes unattended on Northern BC rivers
Pipelines Risk "Social Peace": UN Envoy
Dear John Horgan: Oppose the Libs' Jobs Myth
Agricultural Land Reserve Changes Make Way for Pipelines: Conservationist
BC LNG Doesn't Have to Be a Massive Polluter
Defiant Northern Chief galvanizes BC First Nations against Premier's LNG plans
LNG coming to BC, big and fast. Are you ready?
Has LNG Become Political LSD in BC?

The issue of LNG development has been prominent at the Legislature in recent weeks with both North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice and Skeena MLA Robin Austin, outlining some of their thoughts on the theme and suggesting the time has come for more conversation on development issues.

A short review of some of our past items from the Legislature can be found below:

Land, LNG issues up for discussion for MLA in Legislature
Northwest MLA's look for more conversation on LNG in region
Skeena MLA raises concerns over LNG Development planning
Skeena MLA Austin seeks more info on LNG preparation in Northwest
Rice to Liberals: Risky to put all our eggs in LNG basket

The race against the clock to get even a few of the proposed terminals for the Northwest up and running is based on the ever changing and competitive nature of the LNG industry, which finds projects around the world proposed regularly.

Some of which eventually come on line, with others left on the drawing board with any number of factors to be reviewed, as to why they never quite made it to the completion phase.

How the discussions currently taking place across Northern British Columbia may impact on the proposed developments of the Northwest remains to be seen.

With jobs and economic development of the region the key aspect of the BC Liberals agenda for LNG in the North, the growing push back from some of the key areas of that development may find that the timetable that the province was working with may need to be adjusted.

On our archive pages, we have a full review of items when it comes to natural gas and the proposed LNG Terminal development in the region.

For items of a general nature on LNG see our  LNG overview page, for items related to a particular Terminal proposal see our Archive page on LNG here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.