Massive problem: illegal garbage dumping in Nanaimo Regional District

How frustrated are Mid Vancouver Island residents with illegal garbage dumping?  Extremely frustrated.

Illegal dumping raises significant concerns with regard to public health and safety, property values, and the environment. If not addressed, illegal dumps:

  •  attract more waste
  •  attract rats
  • spread disease
  • pose a fire risk (become targets for arson)
  • serve as magnets for other criminal activities (dumping stolen items)
  • contaminate drinking water
  • harm fish habitat
  • spread invasive plants

In lower income areas, residents have difficulty affording trash pickup and disposal fees. The problem tends to be worse in areas with a high population of renters who have less stake in the community or absentee property owners who do not respond to problems. At the same time, illegal dumping is given a low priority by local governments.

The City of Nanaimo apparently has a budget of $20,000 a year to deal with illegally dumped garbage out of a $200 million dollar budget.

Volunteer clean up Nanaimo from illegal dumping
Volunteers clean up Nanaimo from illegal dumping

Recently, residents had enough of an illegal dump site behind Rosstown Road in Nanaimo and 27 people came to clean up the area. They removed 4.14 tonnes of garbage.

The facebook site “Stop Illegal Garbage Dumping” where these pictures are from shows the great efforts people have taken to do something about illegal garbage dumping locally.

Little Mountain Errington illegal garbage dumping
Little Mountain Errington illegal garbage dumping

The facebook site also highlights illegal garbage dumping at Little Mountain in Errington and the unusual odors emanating from this illegal dump. Over the years people have raised their concerns but so far the regional district hasn’t made any plans to clean it up.

According to the Regional District of Nanaimo’s website in 2012 they recovered 42 tonnes of  illegal garbage spread out over more than 60 locations.  But has anything been done recently?

Those who dump waste illegally will be subject to a fine of up to $200,000 in the RDN.

It doesn’t appear from their websites that the communities of Nanaimo, Lantzville, Ladysmith, or Parksville have any fines for dumping illegal garbage. Nor do they have any page on their websites where someone can report illegally dumped garbage such as this online form from the City of Richmond.

Cassidy and Errington have a garbage problem
Despite the fact that garbage collection is a service provided by the RDN in Cassidy and Errington, it appears by all the dumped garbage in the backwoods and roads in the area that a LOT of residents “dump or lose” their trash.

Cassidy Illegal Garbage Dump
Cassidy Illegal Garbage Dump just down the road from the new dump

Volunteers removed eight to ten tonnes of illegally dumped garbage on logging roads from Cassidy down to Peerless Road in Ladysmith (near the new dump, ironically).  According to the facebook site volunteers have cleaned this same stretch yearly for the last four years,  collecting about eight tonnes per year.

**Representatives from the RDN must canvas these areas to find out why the residents are dumping and what can be done to address this issue.

Nanaimo Visitor Centre across from illegal garbage dump
On Northfield Road, directly across from the Nanaimo Visitor Centre, sits piles of illegally dumped garbage. Let’s remember tourists are in the process of deciding if they want to visit downtown Nanaimo and enjoy our beautiful harbour city.  Will this pile of garbage turn them off?

Over a million dollars for bird contract at garbage dump
In 2013, PK Bird Control Services was awarded a three-year, $649,500 contract “to keep the skies clear” at Nanaimo’s regional landfill (8 birds & 6 handlers). Over the years this has added up to over a million dollars on bird control services.  There should be no food waste to attract birds anymore so is this really necessary? The contract is set to expire early next year. Could this same amount of money be applied to cleaning up the Nanaimo area?

Still no yard waste collection in Nanaimo
There are currently 26,414 households that receive garbage collection.  There are still no plans to start yard waste collection in Nanaimo. Other communities have it. Why not here?

The cost of dumping yard waste at the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange is:
$5 minimum (even for a small grocery bag)
$10 car or van
$15 regular truck or trailer (overload rates apply)

Taxes are going up every year, the governments are growing and people are seeing less and less services. Why should people spend their spare hours cleaning up after thoughtless people? Let’s demand service from our local governments to get the mid island cleaned up.

Threats to the Salish Sea

The fuel spill in English Bay this week and the slow response time as a result of government cutbacks show that the Coast Guard is not prepared to meet the challenges presented by the new supertankers that will soon arrive.

The rapid growth of mega-refineries is prompting a new class of oil supertankers – mirroring an earlier revolution in crude oil shipping – as traders look for scale that was previously not economically viable.

Vitol, Total and Shell have already booked crude oil tankers such as ‘Overseas Laura Lynn’ with a weight of 441,585 tons. In comparison, the MV Marathassa, the bulk container ship responsible for the bunker fuel spill in English Bay, carries a weight of 80,635 tons.

In addition to oil spills, vessels are also responsible for another hidden threat: ocean noise pollution.

How ocean noise pollution affects whales

Whales, dolphins and porpoises use sonar to detect, locate, and track prey.

For a blue whale that was born 70 years ago, its ‘acoustic bubble’ – the distance
over which its vocalisations can travel and the vocalisations of others can be
heard – has shrunk from 1,600 kilometres at its birth to just 160 kilometres today.  Whales have been forced to increase the volume and frequency of their calls to defeat the cacophony of underwater noise.

The acoustic bubble of whales
The acoustic bubble of whales

A 2012 study found a correlation between shipping noise and chronic stress in whales. whales have lost, on average, upwards of 70 percent of their communication space. Whales have shorter diving periods and lower respiration rates.

Leila Hatch, NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary marine ecologist reports that “large whales, such as right whales, rely on their ability to hear far more than their ability to see. Chronic noise is likely reducing their opportunities to gather and share vital information that helps them find food and mates, navigate, avoid predators and take care of their young.”

Increases in shipping traffic associated with coal exports will bring increased noise pollution to the Salish Sea.

The loudest 10 per cent of vessels contribute the great majority of ocean noise from shipping – according to some estimates between 48 and 88 per cent.  Much of this is generated by inefficient propeller design and function; improvements in propeller design for new ships and adjustments to the flow of water into propellers on existing ships, could result in substantial noise reductions.

If ships were to reduce their speed from 14 knots to 12, it would reduce the total acoustic footprint for the world’s cargo fleet by 66%.

Looking for oil and gas with airgun arrays

A seismic or seabed survey involves directing a high energy sound pulse into the sea floor and measuring the pattern of reflected sound waves. The main sound-producing elements used in oil and gas exploration are airgun arrays, which are towed from marine vessels.

Such arrays are almost unfathomably loud; Cornell University researcher Christopher Clark has stated that, by lowering  hydrophones (underwater microphones) into the water, he can hear “seismic exploration activity … 2,000 miles away  in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the same way I can hear one off west Africa or Canada or the west coast of Ireland. And it’s not for a week, it’s for months.”

seismic
Seismic testing with airgun arrays are used to locate oil and gas deposits below the ocean floor.

In 2012, Shell and BP used three seismic ships in the Arctic carrying 40 air guns some of which fired simultaneously for 24 hours a day.

Alternatives to airguns exist such as marine vibroseis, which is capable of gathering seismic data at volumes 100 times quieter than airguns, would result in a 10,000 fold reduction in the area of impact. But the oil and gas industry has been too cheap to make the change. Airgun design has not changed in 30 years, even though the electronics of operating them has.

Humpback whales exposed to explosions associated with construction off Newfoundland were subsequently much more likely to become fatally entangled in fishing nets.

Military Excercise Areas:

A map of Vancouver Island shows it is completely surrounded by military exercise areas (most of them start with the letter ‘W’ which stands for Whiskey).

Canyons are key feeding grounds for whales but military excercise areas such as Whiskey Golf in the Ballenas Basin is also the location of weapons testing and naval exercises, for at least 3 days (all day long) per month. These exercises include some using mid frequency active sonar, by vessels operating out of Nanoose Bay. Post-mortem examinations of dead whales have revealed haemorrhaging around the brain and in the inner ears, the result of acoustic trauma. This noise doesn’t include the presence of navy helicopters which hover close to the surface of the water for hours at a time and can be heard on shore in Nanaimo.

Race Rocks near Victoria falls within military exercise areas Whiskey Quebec ‘WQ’ and Whiskey Alpha ‘WA’. This ecological reserve and Marine Protected Area is home to endangered Stellar sea lions as well as a habitual spot for salmon-eating orcas. Blasts from Bentinck Island Demolition Range at Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot (CFAD) Rocky Point continues to disturb the sea lions at Race Rocks. Although the DND is spacing out their explosive testing by ten minutes and claim to watch out for nesting birds and seal pups, the close proximity of Bentinck Island to Race Rocks has scientists concerned. They have warned that the Stellar sea lion populations will keep dropping and have asked the Department of National Defense to find another area to use.

Albert Head Training Area (CYR 156) near Metchosin is also used for demolition exercises. Whiskey Hotel ‘WH’ on the west side of Vancouver Island is another area used for ‘live firing’.

Orca L112 - killed by acoustic blast from sonar in 2012
Orca L112 – killed by acoustic blast from sonar in 2012

Sonar and small underwater explosive activity was confirmed by the Royal Canadian Navy on February 4, 5, and 6, 2012  off Vancouver Island and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

K  and  L  pod  members  fled from the military activity and were found in  Discovery  Bay  on  February 7th.  Apparently not all the whales made it to safety.

Orca L112 washed up on the beach a few days later. Scientists who examined the whale noted:

“the right cerebral hemisphere and cerebellum were completely mushed (axonal shearing and cellular disintegration?) and there was evidence of hemorrhage in the calvarium, both significant findings of brain damage from a blast impact. The observations are consistent with blast trauma, and significance should not be discounted!”

Colliery Dams: money, fear, deadlines

At the March 16, 2015 Council meeting there was visible tension between members on Council and the Mayor.  Was it because of the Colliery Dam issue?

That night nine residents spoke about their concerns regarding Colliery Dams — here are some them:

  • the pool of chlorinated water stored above the dams
  • lack of data on spillway capacity
  • flawed data that led to bloated estimates
  • City generated its own reports
  • possible conflict of interest
  • climate change and lack of water

At the meeting MLA Doug Routley was invited to speak by Councillor Bestwick. Routley assured people he had spoken to  Steve Thomson the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources who was aware of the residents concerns.  Routley encouraged Council to take time and listen to their citizens.

Colliery Dams showing alternate drainage course
Colliery Dams showing alternate drainage course flow into Harewood Creek in Nanaimo

After Routly spoke, the City Manager objected to Routley’s comments, implying doing nothing was not an option and the City must move ahead with repairs.

Councillor  Yoachim invited Chief White to speak at the meeting .  Mayor McKay objected, saying that White was not the current Chief.

That night Council discussed two choices to fix the dams put forward by City staff:

  • Install an auxiliary spillway for the Lower Colliery Dam
  • Build a labyrinth spillway  or add more fill for an overtopping option

During the debate it was clear that council didn’t know the full estimates of these projects.  Approximately $8 million was suggested by City staff. Both options were defeated.

The original estimate in October 2012 was for $30 million when the City first proposed to fix the dams.

Councillor Yoachim’s motion
At the February 2, 2015 meeting Council voted 5 to 3 in favour of Yoachim’s five-step motion:

  1. not proceed with any design work or expenditure for the alternate drainage
    course/swale for the Lower Colliery Dam;
  2. consult with and engage other primary stakeholders including Snuneymuxw First Nation, the Colliery Dam Park Preservation Society, and the general  public in order to revise as deemed necessary the Dam Safety Management  Program (latest version February 2013) which revision will reflect the recent  change in classification and in addition to revise the emergency plan and  measures, including signage and monitoring measures;
  3. report on the revisions determined from the above and to seek Council’s
    further direction at that time;
  4. consult and engage the primary stakeholders named above in any and all
    future process and planning, including any proposed remedial measures
    regarding the Colliery Dams Park;
  5. amend the Schedule for Remediation to reflect the current lowered
    classification to permit more time to investigate and prepare a revised plan
    for any required remediation when determined and to inform the Dam Safety
    Section of the above direction by Council.

No action was taken on Yoachim’s motion. Why was his motion ignored?

Following Council’s Meeting of Feburary 2nd the City wrote to the DSS (Dam Safety Section) advising Yoachim’s motion had passed.

Threats and more threats
On February 25th DSS wrote to the City and asked that they prepare a revised plan and timeline and requested a response by February 27th (later it was extended to March 27th).

Outlined in the letter  from DSS were warnings that failure to comply would result in:

  • potentially an offence under the Water Act
  • cancellation of water licences
  • City could lose control over decision making for the dams
  • the dams could be drained

Mayor McKay expressed his concern about being personally liable at one council meeting. McKay mentioned that at a dinner party he spoke to a well known politician and lawyer, who advised him he could be in legal trouble if he didn’t support fixing the dams.

Why doesn’t the City of Nanaimo have a lawyer on staff?

At the March 16th Council meeting delegates spoke asking the Mayor and any council members to bow out of voting on the Colliery Dams topic if they thought their assets and interests were in conflict with the City.

Who asked for the report?
This entire mess started with the City of Nanaimo paying for its own engineering report.  The DSS asked: what does the City intend to do to address the potential safety hazards identified by engineering consultants hired by the City?  It appears that so far the City has employed only one engineering company to study the problem. It has already been determined that the initial data used was flawed.

Is this a make work project? $2.5 million has already been spent on consultants to study the Colliery Dam issue. In the meantime the overflow drainage hole to release water has been plugged with concrete.  No water can escape.

Councillor Fuller’s motion:
At the March 16, 2015 Council meeting Councillor Fuller made his first appearance back.   After hour and half Councillor Yoachim interrupted the meeting to welcome back Fuller.  Clearly there was a lot of tension beween Mayor McKay and Councillor Fuller that night.

Councillor Fuller’s motion passed 5 supporting and 3 against. The Mayor, Councillors Pratt and Thorpe opposed. The motion read:

That staff work with the Colliery Dams Technical Committee:

  1. to develop and implement a revised and comprehensive Colliery Dams Emergency Preparedness Plan that describes the actions to be taken in the event of an emergency at the Colliery Dams, and to submit the plan for acceptance by the Dam Safety Officer by March 27, 2015;
  2. to develop and implement a Colliery Dams Surveillance Plan by a date to be determined in cooperation with the DSS that allows the City to track potential flood events and measure water flow and volume in the Colliery Dams;
  3. to develop and implement a Colliery Dams Flood Routing Capacity Action Plan, including the stockpiling of necessary materials to be utilized in accordance with the Action Plan, by a date to be determined in cooperation with the Dam Safety Branch to prevent risk of overtopping of the Colliery Dams in the event of a significant flood;
  4. to confirm with the DSS Comptroller of Water Rights that the combination of revised and comprehensive plans listed below provides an acceptable approach to issues identified in his letter of February 25, 2015;

a. Colliery Dams Emergency Preparedness Plan;
b. Colliery Dams Surveillance Plan;
c. Colliery Dams Flood Routing Capacity Action Plan

Correspondence with the BC Dams Safety Branch Comptroller of Water Rights is forwarded to Mayor & Council prior to being sent.

Dams are just fine
While the current Mayor was campaigning for votes during the last civic election he was quoted as saying, “the dams are just fine”. What has changed?

Councillor Kipp raised the issue that there are at least 20 other sites of concern around the City of Nanaimo. Old coal mines throughout the City have left huge potenial sink holes.

The March 27th deadline set by the DSS has passed. What happens now? The Colliery Dam story is not over.

Austerity budgets
The Council has voted to bring in a Core Review and control the budget. Will anyone look into how much is being spent on consultants?

Bill C-51 and the Stasi State of Canada

This past weekend people across Canada took to the streets to express their disagreement with Bill C-51. Why are people upset?

What is Bill C-51?

Bill C-51
Bill C-51 protest

Bill C-51 creates a new crime of ‘advocating for or promoting terrorism’. By using the terms ‘advocating’ and ‘promoting’ the federal government is expanding the definition of illegal activity to something that is way beyond the scope of the Criminal Code.

The Criminal Code is very specific about the definition of terrorist activities; violent crimes such as hostage taking, seizure of aircraft, bombings, etc.

In 2001, after the events of 9/11, the government thought about enacting a new anti-terror law which would only allow ‘lawful’ protests. Many experts told the government that this would take away the ability for citizens to gather spontaneously. As a result, that amendment was struck down.

Now, in 2015, the federal government is once again pushing for a greater crackdown on citizens’ rights to express themselves by introducing Bill C-51.

Legal experts question the vague wording of Bill C-51 such as “unduly influencing a government in Canada by…unlawful means” and “interference with critical infrastructure” as the word ‘unlawful’ includes anything not officially sanctioned by the government. Interference could also include a peaceful rally with no violence or criminal activity involved or intended.

If Bill C-51 is passed, C.S.I.S. (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) could have the capacity to do the following and more:

  • remove web postings or sites it finds threatening*
  • drain bank accounts
  • engage in disinformation campaigns
  • bypass traditional police channels in order to detain suspects

*Recently, a community advocate for the protests against the Kinder Morgan pipeline at Burnaby Mountain was faced with a SLAPP (strategic litigation against public participation) lawsuit because he posted dates of gatherings on his website. Such lawsuits would not be necessary in the future, because the government could remove the website and take action against the author.

Will this turn Canada into a Stasi State?

From 1949 to 1989, the Ministry for State Security in East Germany commonly known as the Stasi, spied on its citizens. They employed over 100,000 full time staff and used a vast network of citizens who spied on people using every way possible. The Stasi opened mail, monitored bank accounts, wire-tapped phone lines and bugged private living quarters. The result was over 40 million index cards and 100 miles of documents that detailed the activities of everyday people.

With the passing of Bill C-51, the Canadian government could easily turn Canada into a country where people are under intense surveillance and no longer free to express their opinions.

Profiling and Tracking Canadians

The internet has made profiling and tracking people so much easier and cheaper.

When you use your bank card,  text with your mobile phone,  log onto a computer, drive a vehicle, or even enter a store, you are leaving behind ‘data tracks’ and ‘data exhaust’. Even energy use data from ‘smart’ meters is being collected and analyzed. All this metadata can be easily combined to determine your habits, your social networks, and even your thought patterns.

For example, if a person anonymously rated half-a-dozen movies out of the top 500, it is possible for that person to be accurately identified 84% of the time, and if the date of the rating is available, almost 100% accurate.

Private Contractors and Other Groups

Entire industries have sprouted up analyzing, gathering, sorting, and reusing personal data. As storage costs keep going down the size and scale of data collection will only increase.

Now peoples’ data is being tracked by private companies beyond the government’s oversight. Edward Snowden was working for a private contractor with access to huge volumes of private information. There are hundreds of thousands of contract workers working with confidential data these days.

Who are they selling this information to? This is where abuse of power comes in.

Like the Stasi, the government can use societies and groups to physically track and follow ordinary citizens as they go about their daily activities. Citizens who irritate the petro-client are subject to heavy surveillance.

Are certain citizen groups assigned to physically follow people in Canada? Is it possible that these groups are under the direction of the RCMP and CSIS?  Who is paying for this? Are taxpayers’ dollars being used to fund this?

Living in a client petro-state

The problem is when Canadians are living in a client state, the client decides who and what is a problem.

All the information gathered can be very useful to the client to use for repression and to maintain power. In wartime this can have a horrible result.

Imagine if the Stasi had the information gathering abilities of today.  Back then there was no GPS, or mobile phones, and they did not know were people were at all times without physcially following them. They could not predict who was going to become a dissident without infiltrating social networks. Now information can be streamed into algorithmic models and people are being patrolled based on these findings.

In the old days the government was more specific on who they monitored. Now it is everyone. The U.S. government was collecting 1.7 billion emails and phone calls a day in 2010, according to the Washington Post. Imagine five years later.

Canada is becoming less and less of an independent country—culturally, economically, and politically. It is a client state. The energy resources in Canada are a key part of this integration.

Nanaimo’s Watershed guardians sound alarm

Nanaimo’s watershed was a hot topic at last Monday’s Nanaimo council COW meeting. There were four speakers who made presentations regarding the Nanaimo watershed. These concerned citizens want to start a process to make the Nanaimo community drinking watershed a publicly owned and controlled asset.

Two speakers raised the following questions:

  • Could the City of Nanaimo find a way to purchase Nanaimo’s watershed?
  • Could the City of Nanaimo set up a ‘Nanaimo Watershed Board’?
  • What sub-surface activities are allowed to take place in Nanaimo’s watershed?

A petition was presented to council with over 1,300 names asking for the City of Nanaimo to take action to purchase the watershed.

Here are some of the highlights from the speakers’ presentations:

The new provincial Water Sustainability Act contains a section dealing with Watershed Governance. The regulations surrounding this section are in the process of being developed.

Due to the E & N Land Grant of the 1800’s, the land contained within Nanaimo’s watershed is, in fact, stolen land…. stolen from First Nations and is now being challenged by the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The ultimate goal is to ensure sufficient, clean fresh water now and into the future. Water is the foundation of both resilient communities and a robust economy.

How to protect Nanaimo’s drinking water

Three options are available to protect Nanaimo’s watershed and have clean drinking water for a growing population.

  • Purchase the lands around Jump Lake
  • Expropriate the entire watershed
  • Work towards a local watershed governance structure

The land within Nanaimo’s watershed is currently said to be owned by Island Timberlands and TimberWest Forestry Companies.  It is only because of the goodwill of these logging companies that water is available.

There is no agreement between the City of Nanaimo nor the Regional District of Nanaimo and the timber companies, for usage of or access to Nanaimo’s watershed.

This lack of foresight is of heightened concern as logging companies morph into development companies, having the ability to sell off watershed lands.

There are only two cities in British Columbia that own their watersheds:  Victoria and Vancouver.  Neither of these cities has had to install expensive water treatment plants at a huge cost to the taxpayers. Why is this?

The forests within the watersheds of both Victoria and Vancouver do not allow any trespass, human activity, development or industrial activity within them. The watershed lands have been brought back to their natural state.  Trees and undergrowth have established root systems that act as natural filters for clean drinking water.

When land is cleared  in watersheds, excess water rushes down hillsides taking the earth with it and contaminating drinking water. This is what Nanaimo experienced in December 2014 with a boil-water advisory.

New Water Filtration Plant

The City of Nanaimo is currently spending approximately $84 million on building a new water filtration plant to improve the quality drinking water. Would this have been necessary if the watershed was not disturbed? Why spend all this money when the watershed lands could be sold to whomever?

The City of Nanaimo plans to add a $100 million new water storage facility near Jump Lake.

The Vancouver Island Water Watch group recommends all stakeholders come together  and begin creating a Nanaimo Watershed Board in order to protect Nanaimo’s watershed.

What if Nanaimo’s watershed was sold? Where would citizens get their water?

Nanaimo's Watershed is 83,000 hectares or 341 square miles
Nanaimo’s Watershed is 83,000 hectares or 341 square miles

Two professional foresters  gave a presentation on behalf of the timber companies.

Councillor Pratt asked if they knew how much the watershed lands were worth. The reply was no idea and the land is not for sale.

Mayor and council discussed for approximately 45 minutes if they should set up a Nanaimo Watershed Board. The City Manager suggested that City staff could put together a report so Council would have more information to make a decision.

Lessons from Shawnigan Lake

The Shawnigan Lake watershed was originally owned by one owner.  The land was sold,  clear-cut, subdivided, and sold again. Now there are many landowners, engaged in many activities, including four mining operations. One owner has a permit from the Ministry of the Environment to fill a rock quarry with toxic contaminated soil. This contaminated soil dump is approximately 15 meters from Shawnigan creek, the main tributary to Shawnigan Lake, the drinking water supply for 12,000 people.

At question period a speaker from Shawnigan Lake spoke about their watershed problems.  The residents have launched a million dollar lawsuit to try and protect their water from toxic waste contaminating their drinking water. The speaker encouraged others to lobby the provincial government for watershed lands to be protected throughout the province.

Nanaimo Watershed after 20 years 1994-2014
Nanaimo Watershed after 20 years 1994-2014 clear cut logging slowly coming back

There are 20 sub-watersheds that make up the Nanaimo watershed which drains into the Nanaimo River system.

86% of the Nanaimo Watershed has been logged and second growth forest is gradually coming back.

Nanaimo River Watershed Roundtable began in 2011. It was the start of a conversation but Councillor Yoachim commented that Snuneymuxw First Nation was not invited. Councillor Kipp replied that several email invitations were sent to the SFN but no one was available to participate. It was not clear at the council meeting as to what progress the roundtable had made.  Weyerhaeuser once owned the lands in Nanaimo’s watershed which were then sold to Island Timberlands. Apparently, the logging in the picture above was done under Weyerhaeuser ownership.

Brookfield Asset Management

Brookfield Asset Management, along with two Canadian institutional partners, established Island Timberlands in 2005 with lands from Weyerhaeuser’s coastal assets.

In 2008, Brookfield Asset Management, which owns 50 percent of Island Timberlands, sold its timber and power assets to a Bermuda-based partnership.

Island Timberlands has 14,000 hectares of Vancouver Island identified as “higher and better-use” properties that could be developed or sold. In the nine months ending September  30, 2007,  Island Timberlands  sold $14 million of those properties for a net gain of $7 million.

LNG and watersheds

With new LNG plants planned for Port Alberni and Campbell River could fracking in Vancouver Island watersheds become a reality?

Here is the Nanaimo Watershed video presentation that was made to City Council on Monday night.

LNG in BC: petro-state politics Part 3 – LNG Money

This is part 3 of a 3-part series based on a presentation by investigative journalist Andrew Nikiforuk to Squamish residents last year on LNG in BC.

Natural Gas is expensive in Asia and cheap here in BC.  So the plan is we are going to make a bunch of LNG money.

The problem is Asia owns the terminals and the fracking companies. What does BC have left?

Japanese and Korean firms are partners in several projects and the pricing for those projects will have to satisfy the Natural Gas buyers. Where is the revenue?  Here is the value chain:

  • Upstream: drilling/fracking for the gas
  • Midstream: liquefying the gas and shipping
  • Downstream: re-gasifying

Most of the money normally comes from royalties from the ‘upstream’ activity of drilling and fracking.

So far, Natural Gas revenue has dropped from approximately $1 billion in 2007 to less than $300 million in 2013 even though we are producing more gas than we did in 2007.

Why are we making less money now when we are producing more gas?

In the United States they collect the money up front for their fracking projects. But in BC we are NOT collecting the money up front. According to Cambridge Energy Investments this is the most risky way to go about it.

With non-renewable resources you want to collect the revenue up front because of price volatility and you never know what is going to happen next in the markets and in the world.

Prosperity Fund

BC made a promise to get $100 billion dollars in a ‘prosperity fund’ by 2034.

How is this possible? The plan is to tax Natural Gas after the companies have recovered their capital investment. The government proposes to tax it 1.5%.  Ultimately, BC will have a royalty tax rate lower than Australia for LNG.

LNG Tax breaks

Pressing Ottawa for tax breaks are the four major LNG firms.  What are the subsidies and incentives provided by BC?  How is the BC government actively facilitating investment for shale gas? BC has assured the following for LNG investors:

  • lower royalties
  • reduced regulations
  • road access
  • geoscience information
  • access to well sites

BC government assures cooperation from:

  • federal agencies
  • provincial agencies
  • prescriptive regulations
  • interest groups

Since 2004, the BC government has provided:

  • $840 million in royalty credits for roads and pipelines
  • 2,434 miles of roads
  • 1,304 miles of pipe

Which works out to approximately a $1 billion subsidy to shale gas sector.

Site C and LNG

LNG projects need a lot of energy to operate all of their natural gas wells, pipelines and LNG terminals which is the reason why the Site C Dam is being pressed forward at this time. The Site C dam will cost taxpayers a minimum of $8 billion. Premier Christy Clark’s advisor is Glen Morgan the CEO of Encana, who once was the chairman of SNC Lavalin, but left when it was discovered that there were accusations of graft and corruption.

How much LNG to export?

The NEB has approved LNG projects that would allow for 14 billion cubic feet a year. Is this too much to give away?

The NEB admits that Canada will become a net gas importer by 2017 and remain so thereafter. In its reference case, the NEB suggests Canada will have no more than 4.5 bcf/d (billion cubic feet a day) of export capacity by 2035.

LNG in Australia

Australia currently has three LNG terminals in operation. Another six LNG terminals are under construction and nine are proposed for a total of 18 LNG terminals.

The Agorgan project in Australia had cost overruns. The project was to cost $9 billion and ended up costing $50 billion.

The Natural Gas that they produced had a 14% CO2 content.

In Australia they never did any proper environmental studies, as industry pushed hard against it. People are now finding methane bubbling up in fields and in rivers, and with so much gas in well water that people can light their water on fire from the faucet.

Australia now exports 90% of its gas. It has caused the collapse of the manufacturing sector and the retail sector is paying through the nose for electricity. Australia is paying very high domestic prices for energy yet it is ‘gas rich’.

LNG in BC

The end result for BC is that your average homeowner will see energy prices skyrocket.  The BC government’s approach is invite all the foreign LNG experts to:

  • build LNG terminals in modules in Asia
  • use foreign labour to assemble the LNG terminals here in BC

In return, the BC government will provide:

  • infrastructure
  • water
  • very low tax and royalty rates

BC taxpayers are not active participants in this type of plan. BC residents have to think and act like owners of a resource.

“Slow Down: behave like an owner”  Peter Lougheed

“…every region in the U.S. which has had shale development provides a cautionary tale. Economic stabilty has proved elusive. Environmental degradation and peripheral costs, however have proved very real indeed.”  Deborah Rogers, Investment Banker