Details on how an ‘Adopt-a-Tree’ program could get under way quickly in the County, are being presented at Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.
Emily Cowan, Grants and Special Projects Co-ordinator, is to present the report to councillors that could allow volunteers and agencies to plant trees on public lands.
At the October meeting of Committee of the Whole, council directed staff to report on expediting the program.
“By creating a simple policy which allows citizens to plant trees on public properties and right-of-ways, the County can continue to grow its tree canopy,” Cowan notes.
The policy would allow mutual approval of site and tree species, indemnify the County from liability during planting and maintenance, allow memorial plaques and ensure the tree is cared for by the resident or agency for the first two years.
“There are agencies which will provide low-cost seedlings and facilitate planting on municipal property with volunteers,” states Cowan. “Staff believes the Tree Policy Ad Hoc Committee would be best placed to ensure the tree policy includes taking advantage of programs… and includes provisions for organizing such initiatives.”
In October, Lise Bois, a member of the PEC Horticultural society, Tree the County and PEC Field Naturalists, as well as the Ad Hoc Tree Policy Advisory Committee, made deputations to the Committee of the Whole, encouraging council to create a committee to increase and manage the County’s tree canopy.
Boise noted the community’s desire to mitigate climate change by increasing and managing trees and noted several Adopt-A-Tree programs throughout the province and nation to expedite the process.
Trees would be chosen from a list of species indigenous to the County, (and others recommended) and ensure a mix of trees to avoid eradication due to a single species disease.
Residents, or agencies would agree to care for trees planted for a minimum of two years to give it the best chance of survival, then the municipality would take over care of the tree. SOURCE
Canadian fossils ended the year bracing themselves for closer scrutiny after departing Bank of England Governor Mark Carney declared that half of the world’s oil and gas reserves could become stranded assets, leaving millions of peoples’ investments “worthless”.
Appearing on a guest segment of the BBC’s Today program guest edited by #FridaysforFuture founder Greta Thunberg, Carney said the financial sector is “not moving fast enough” to divest from fossil fuels, and has not yet woken up to the looming crisis it faces, The Independent reports.
Carney, who previously served as governor of the Bank of Canada, is set to become the UN special envoy for climate action and finance in February.
In the interview, Carney was asked whether pension funds should dump their fossil holdings even if their returns are looking good at the moment, The Independent says. “Well, that hasn’t been the case, but they could make that argument,” he replied. “They need to make the argument—to be clear about why is that going to be the case if a substantial proportion of those assets are going to be worthless.”
Carney added that, “if we were to burn all those oil and gases, there’s no way we would meet carbon budgets. Up to 80% of coal assets will be stranded, [and] up to half of developed oil reserves.”
Which means financial firms “have to make the judgment and justify to the people whose money it ultimately is” in relation to divestment, he told BBC. “A question for every company, every financial institution, every asset manager, pension fund, or insurer—what’s your plan?”
Carney’s comments raised concern among Canadian fossil companies that his call for “further climate disclosures and climate risk assessments from global banks could increase scrutiny of investments in the Canadian oilsands and nascent liquefied natural gas sector,” the Financial Post writes. With the world’s third-largest oil reserves, “the Canadian oil and gas industry has long been at the centre of the debate about financial institutions and climate change, thanks in part to major European banks such as HSBC Plc and BNP Paribas announcing they would not invest in new projects in the oilsands. Large pension funds in Europe and North America have also signalled plans to divest their holdings in heavy oil companies—moves which have hurt the Calgary oilpatch.” MORE
The future for a large part of downtown Belleville and beyond starts Monday night, the city’s mayor says.
Mayor Mitch Panciuk said Friday that city council’s decision regarding the future of the Memorial Arena and Legion properties – regardless of what that decision is – opens the door for progress in many other areas.
In particular, he said, it allows the city to start moving forward with the Downtown Commons, the parking lot areas across from City Hall, and along the city’s riverfront.
“A lot of things we have been waiting on has been on this particular issue going forward,” Panciuk said. “We recognized we couldn’t proceed with anything on (these issues) until we had an idea of what the use is (for the Memorial and Legion buildings.)
“Now we are going to be able to move on, and move on in particular with the parking lot areas in front of City Hall along the river where we can now come into it with a fully integrated, involved process.”
“And there is also discussion about riverfront and our waterfront development and I think this allows us to move into those next stages.”
Panciuk noted the city is also developing a parks and recreation master plan this year that will also have some impact on the riverfront and waterfront issues that the city will be addressing moving forward.
“We are trying to lay the foundation to build on,” he said. “And when you do that you can’t just jump around. So I can’t say whether it will be the first quarter or the third quarter when things start moving forward.
“The future will start on Monday night for all of that. When you are dealing with these kinds of things and you are dealing with taxpayer money, A has to come before B which has to come before C. You can’t just jump around or you end up making mistakes.”
Panciuk couldn’t provide exact numbers regarding how many people filled out the city’s online survey regarding the four proposals for the Memorial or how many sent in comments or questions.
But he said he has been hearing good responses from people who appreciate that the city has taken the time to solicit views from the public.
“People appreciate the opportunity to have a say,” Panciuk said. “They know they aren’t going to have their way necessarily but having input is really something that is a little unusual. Often times people feel we make decisions and then ask people for input.
“In this one, I really wanted to slow things down and give people a chance to have input. We only want to make this decision one time. This is one we know is a momentous decision for the city going forward.”
He added that the city also wants to treat this issue with particular respect giving the history and significance to the community of the buildings involved.
City council meets Monday at 4 p.m. at City Hall SOURCE
The WAC Bennett dam impounds the world’s seventh-largest reservoir. In 2012 a BC Hydro employee speculated a fracking operation may have caused a sudden change in the reservoir’s water levels. Photo: Jayce Hawkins.
BC Hydro has known for well over a decade that its Peace Canyon dam is built on weak, unstable rock and that an earthquake triggered by a nearby natural gas industry fracking or disposal well operation could cause the dam to fail.
Yet for years, knowledge of the dam’s compromised foundation was not shared widely within the Crown corporation. It was even kept secret from members of a joint federal/provincial panel that reviewed the Site C dam, now under construction 70 kilometres downstream of Peace Canyon in the Montney Basin—one of the most active natural gas fracking zones in British Columbia.
The disturbing revelation is among many contained in hundreds of emails, letters, memos and meeting notes released by the publicly-owned hydro utility in response to a freedom-of-information (FOI) request by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, BC office.
The documents show that BC Hydro officials knew from the moment the Peace Canyon dam was built in the 1970s that it had “foundational problems,” and that if an earthquake damaged the structure’s vital drainage systems it could be a race to stabilize the dam before it failed.
The documents also show that BC Hydro’s concerns about threats to the dam were discussed “at the highest level” within the provincial government ten years ago, but that unidentified provincial Cabinet ministers at that time rejected taking any action.
The documents have been augmented with a raft of emails supplied by a former BC Hydro construction manager, who oversaw $350 million in retrofits at the Peace Canyon and WAC Bennett dams in 2007, and who is speaking out publicly for the first time about his concerns.
A compromised foundation
Built in the late 1970s, the Peace Canyon dam lies a short distance downriver from the massive, earth-filled WAC Bennett dam, which impounds Williston Lake—the seventh-largest hydro reservoir on earth by water volume. The FOI documents show that the dam was built on top of layers of sedimentary rock, including shale—a rock known to be difficult to work with when big engineering projects are involved.
“A number of weaker bedding planes were identified underneath the dam during construction. Some of these exist directly below the dam within the foundation, and shear tests on bedrock core samples indicated shear resistance that was significantly lower than originally anticipated during design,” reads one internal report on Peace Canyon prepared by BC Hydro in 2017. “The dam is marginally stable under full uplift considerations, which does not meet modern design practice.”
The discovery was a bombshell. Since the shale rock underlying the dam was more susceptible to shearing or breaking than previously thought, it was vital to prevent any industrial activities nearby that could possibly trigger earthquakes.
But that knowledge was not widely shared within BC Hydro itself, even when disturbing tremors started to be felt at the dam in 2007—more than 30 years after problems were first detected. MORE
Methane is 70 to 80% more powerful than CO2. Methane traps 84 times as much heat as carbon dioxide while in the atmosphere
Process releases methane and polluting and carcinogenic chemicals into the atmosphere.
Many of us living in urban centres in southern B.C. are blissfully unaware of how much fracking is taking place in the northeastern part of the province. DAVID MCNEW / GETTY IMAGES FILES
It’s a long weekend and we’re returning from the Gulf Islands on the new B.C. ferry, the Salish Eagle. Along the inside corridor on the main floor, we come face to face with a large mural created by FortisBC extolling the virtues of the natural gas that powers the boat we are on.
One panel assures the reader that CO2 emissions will be reduced by 15 per cent to 25 per cent annually by this new “clean” fuel, and another panel promises a “cleaner, brighter future” through the use of natural gas.
What the ad doesn’t say is that the Salish Eagle’s fuel is fracked gas and that over 85 per cent of our province’s natural gas now comes from fracking, mainly in northeastern B.C.
Fracking is an industrial process used to extract underground natural gas deposits from shale rock. The technique involves drilling a shaft vertically for up to four kilometres into the rock, and then horizontally for up to three more kilometres.
Massive amounts of water, combined with sand and chemicals are injected under high pressure into the well, inducing micro-cracking and fissuring of the rock to release the natural gas known as methane.
The ad fails to inform the reader that the fracking process results in a considerable amount of methane escaping into the atmosphere.
Once released, methane traps 84 times as much heat as carbon dioxide while in the atmosphere. And so far, the technology has not been able to prevent these leaks. Because of this, scientists are concluding that fracking natural gas is actually worse for global warming than oil or coal.
The province recently introduced its new targets for greenhouse gas emissions: a reduction of 40 per cent below 2007 levels by 2030, 60 per cent by 2040, and 80 per cent by 2050. Yet unless an immediate moratorium is declared on new fracking developments, B.C. will fail to meet its own targets.
Then there is the effects of fracking on water use. Each fracking procedure uses more than 10 million litres (36 Olympic-sized swimming pools) of clean water. In parts of the U.S., drinking water wells have dried up due to withdrawals for fracking.
The ad also fails to mention that the chemicals added to frack fluid to help maximize methane extraction have the potential to cause cancer and disrupt hormonal activity in both humans and animals, through the release of polluting and carcinogenic chemicals into the atmosphere and water.
Fracking also produces large amounts of contaminated wastewater containing both the carcinogenic and hormone-disrupting chemicals initially added to the frack fluid, but also radioactive chemicals and heavy metals released from deep underground. One study showed radium levels (a chemical known to cause cancer) in fracked water 200 times greater than background levels. Some of this contaminated water will eventually leak into the water table.
Higher rates of leukemia have been found among people aged five to 24 living near fracking operations. More babies born with congenital heart defects and higher rates of pre-term birth have been found in people who live close to fracking sites. Research has shown an increase in hospital visits among asthmatics living close to fracking sites.
For all these reasons, a recently published article in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine called for policy makers to reject the false promise of natural gas.
Fracking also causes earthquakes. 62 per cent of significant earthquakes in western Canada between 2010 and 2015 were induced by fracking and 31 per cent by the disposal of fracking wastewater into the ground under high pressure.
In fact, many countries, including England, France, and Germany, have banned fracking, and at least three Canadian provinces have declared various levels of moratoria on fracking because of its known harms.
Many of us living in urban centres in southern B.C. are blissfully unaware of how much fracking is taking place in the northeastern part of the province, where some rural and Aboriginal community members have described themselves as living in a “sacrifice zone.”
Natural gas is not a clean fuel and the misleading advertising on B.C. Ferries should be removed immediately. SOURCE
The report about caribou protection was sent anonymously to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The audit, conducted in 2014, looked at whether oil and gas companies near Fort Nelson were following provincials rules put in place to protect declining caribou herds. (Brennan Linsley/The Associated Press)
VICTORIA — A leaked audit of oil and gas practices in northeastern British Columbia suggests rules to reduce the impact of industry on caribou habitat are being routinely ignored.
“The audit identified a number of issues with the (interim operating procedures) and a trend of non-compliance with the measures contained within it,” says the 2014 audit conducted for the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission.
The audit was never released and only came to light after it was leaked to Ben Parfitt, an energy researcher with the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives think tank.
The information’s release comes as the province continues its fight against the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Alberta on environmental grounds.
“I think there’s a great deal of inconsistency here,” Parfitt said Monday. “There is real ongoing ecological damage being done in the northeast, and the province, so far, has failed to do anything about that.”
The audit examined dozens of wells, pipelines, roads and seismic lines in the Montney area around Fort Nelson. It used aerial surveys and on-site visits to find out how closely energy companies were following guidelines developed by the province and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers for development on caribou habitat.
The guidelines are part of the province’s caribou recovery plan for what is considered a species of special concern. They govern the size of well pads, width of roads, seismic lines, sight lines for predators and treatment of shores and banks.
A commission spokesman said the audit wasn’t released because it was undertaken before some of the new rules were brought in. Phil Rygg said it also didn’t distinguish between the size of multi-well pads and single-well pads, although the document clearly addresses that issue.
“The commission continues to actively work to protect B.C.’s boreal caribou habitat using evidence-based practices that support wildlife protection while meeting the province’s energy plan goals,” said Rygg.
Almost $8 million has been invested in caribou research over the last four years, he added.
The audit said it was limited by its short time span and weather conditions. Performance also varied in different areas and between different companies, it noted.
But, overall, the audit found none of the pipelines or roads and 38 per cent of well sites followed guidelines.
Well pads routinely exceeded the two-hectare limit. Although the auditors were told those pads were for multiple wells, few had more than two wells and those were often suspended.
Pits were often dug immediately adjacent to the pads, making them as large as seven hectares. The auditors found little evidence of interim remediation at the sites.
While seismic lines were conforming to the rules, roads and pipelines were built side by side, which created long, straight lines through the forest up to 80 metres wide. Developments ran right up to water bodies with no buffer zones.
The audit also found the rules had no way of measuring or limiting development’s cumulative effects.
“Not only was compliance low in general, but often these measures were not prescriptive enough, allowing companies to avoid them or seek exemptions from them,” the audit said. “Long-term cumulative effects are not addressed and cannot be addressed as the current (regulation) is laid out.”
Parfitt pointed out the audit isn’t the first document to raise questions about B.C.’s environmental sincerity.
He said his research has found 92 unlicensed dams operating in the area to store water for fracking. Some are as tall as seven storeys. In another case, a report on how drilling and fracking for natural gas was contaminating groundwater near well sites was posted on the commission’s website the day after a reporter with a leaked copy started asking about it.
“This is the third instance where information has come to light where it appears rules were being broken and not much was being done about it,” Parfitt said.
“We have a government here that is making an awful lot of noise about the environmental impact of a proposed pipeline. Meanwhile, ongoing significant ecological damage is occurring and we have a government that is encouraging even more of that activity.” SOURCE
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, secretary-treasurer of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, pictured in 2018. Photo by Alex Tétreault
A prominent First Nations leader says Alberta’s energy minister “needs to be more educated” on Indigenous land rights, after an urgent warning by a United Nations committee provoked the province’s anger.
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, secretary-treasurer of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, told National Observer that she felt Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage was misguided when she slammed a UN directive calling on Canada to halt construction on energy projects.
“I think that she doesn’t understand what the proper title-holders are,” Wilson said. “I think she needs to be more educated on that.”
Alberta NDP energy critic Irfan Sabir also told National Observer that Savage’s remarks show the UCP government in Alberta refuses to respect Indigenous rights.
The UN directive calls on Canada to stop construction on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, the Site C dam and the Coastal GasLink pipeline until the government can properly carry out its constitutional duty to consult and obtain free, prior and informed consent from Indigenous people.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said it was concerned large projects in Canada could cause “irreparable harm to Indigenous peoples rights, culture, lands, territories and way of life.” It also said it was disturbed by law enforcement’s “harassment and intimidation” and alarmed by the “escalating threat of violence.”
After news broke Tuesday of the December directive from the UN, Savage issued a statement criticizing the international body as “unaccountable” and “unelected” and suggesting it was “beyond rich” that its work would “single out Canada.”
“We wish that the UN would pay as much attention to the majority of First Nation groups that support important projects such as Trans Mountain and Coastal GasLink,” Savage wrote.
“First Nations leaders increasingly recognize that responsible natural resource development can serve as a path from poverty to prosperity for their people. Yet this UN body seemingly ignores these voices.”
With all the atrocities in the world, many committed in other oil producing countries, UN efforts would be better directed there than at Canada…
My full statement on the UN Racism Commitee calling for the halt of major resource projects:
But the issue of which First Nations leaders are speaking is precisely what is at stake, countered Wilson. “Only the proper title-holders of the land have that decision-making authority,” she noted.
In the case of Coastal GasLink, the proper title-holders are hereditary, Wilson said. While the company has indicated it has signed agreements with all elected First Nations councils, five Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs are demanding the province suspend permits for the pipeline.
The hereditary chiefs have cited Wet’suwet’en trespass laws when they sent an eviction notice recently to the company. Hereditary chief Na’moks even cited the UN directive in comments: “The world is watching; the United Nations is watching. This is not just the Wet’suwet’en,” said Na’moks, according to CBC News.
Alberta NDP energy critic Irfan Sabir said in a statement that “we believe the economy, environment, and Indigenous rights can, and must, go hand-in-hand.” The former Alberta NDP government led an anti-racism initiative and formed the Indigenous Climate Leadership Initiative, he noted.
“As a result, we were able to move much needed resource development forward in a responsible manner,” said Sabir. “The current UCP government’s dismissive attitude towards the environment, refusal to respect Indigenous rights, and lack of vision will only lead to further delays and more projects being questioned.”
The UN directive is not the first time that the organization has cast a critical eye on Canada’s relationship with Indigenous people and its pursuit of fossil fuel and energy projects, in the context of discrimination.
In June 2019, Baskut Tuncak, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes, concluded that Indigenous communities in Canada are “disproportionately impacted” by toxic industrial byproducts to the point that it raised questions of discrimination.
In addition to its warning about resource projects, the new UN directive recommends Canada “establish, in consultation with Indigenous peoples, a legal and institutional framework to ensure adequate consultation” and to incorporate free, prior and informed consent into domestic legislation.
In British Columbia, the province passed legislation in November to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It has not yet been passed federally.
The UN body also urged Canada to “prohibit the use of lethal weapons, notably by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, against Indigenous peoples.” RCMP were “prepared to shoot” land defenders blockading Coastal GasLink construction, the Guardianreported in December, citing internal police documents.
“Canada needs to heed these international bodies, international law, and they keep talking about upholding the rule of law, but Canada isn’t doing that as a country,” Wilson said.
“The rule of law is very clear with regards to discrimination, we should be moving as a country past that. We should be working on a better direction, instead of reinforcing the old fossil fuel and oil industry. We’re wasting a lot of time because of climate change.” SOURCE