Shawnigan Lake: 3.5 years of protesting soil dump

Our neighbours down the road in Shawnigan Lake have been trying to stop a contaminated soil dump in their watershed for the last three and half years. The residents are concerned about toxins leaking into their drinking water from the site.

Here are the highlights from their video: “We Thought It Would Be Enough”

  • 300 people attended a public meeting; all opposed the contaminated soil dump except two
  • CVRD, CRD, VIHA and Cowichan Tribes all sent letters to the BC government outlining their opposition to the contaminated soil dump
  • 9 expert witnesses gave statements to the Evironmental Appeal Board  backing up Shawnigan Lake residents’ concerns
  • 15,000 signatures on a petition were delivered to the BC Legislature
  • 1,600 people attended a demonstration on the lawns of the BC Legislature
  • detailed documents revealing secret agreements were submitted
  • water samples showed toxins in the water
  • Malahat First Nation asked the BC government for a stay of the Ministry of Environment’s permit for the contaminated soil dump until more testing was completed

So far, these collective actions have not gained the ear of the BC government which is allowing the contaminated soil dump to continue its operations. The worst part is yet to come; the company may sue the residents’ for lost revenue.

Watch this Shawnigan Lake  video:

Bankrupting BC Hydro: the death nail for BC

The following is from a presentation by Damien Gillis in 2013 called “Bankrupting BC Hydro” regarding the hazardous level of debt forced onto BC Hydro:

“…Our  provincial debt has two parts.  The debt we see and the debt we don’t see.  Let’s call the debt we don’t see “secret debt” …this “secret debt” category represents taxpayer liabilities which are now up to $100 billion dollars.

…included in the “secret debt” is the debt for the  infrastructure  and other projects done under a private public partnership model.…These debts have been swept under the rug so to speak but it makes no difference; they still have to be paid back.

…What is contained in that “secret debt” is lease obligations to private operators such as the $55 billion owed to private river power operators [independent power producers IPP] and other private power projects [whose electricity] BC Hydro is being forced to buy at rates way above market value.

The reason BC Hydro is in debt is in part because it took on the smart meter program and infrastructure investment but…the biggest debt for BC Hydro comes from the private river projects

BC Hydro’s $20 billion dollar debt

We have gone from taking in $500 million to $1 billion in revenues (a good year) from BC Hydro and having the lowest energy costs in North America…to massive debt…

…BC Hydro’s debt is climbing upwards towards $20 billion.…The bad news is BC Hydro’s earnings are going down.…This is the road to bankruptcy. Why is this happening? This is not happening by accident.

…You have heard about the Northwest Transmission Line which cost ($716 million) and went over budget by approximately $312 million. Plus the $55 billion of private power contracts for the run of the river projects.

…BC Hydro now has a $1 billion dollar a year operating deficit.

Over estimation of electricity needs

The last two CEO’s who raised issues about over estimation of our power needs were fired. The first was Bob Elton in 2009 and then Dave Cobb in 2011. Both were run out when they challenged the [fake] numbers…

Anyone who goes against the BC government’s privatization agenda is sacked.

Now the problems are arriving fast. The BC government is going to have to raise power rates in order to deal with the debt.…[It is] estimated rates would need to go up right now by 35 to 40%  just to break even.

Eventually BC Hydro will have to be sold off to the very same private sector people that bankrupted it in the first place. This is how it has happened around the world in such countries as Indonesia, South America, Africa…we are next…

LNG and Site C Hydro Dam

Now we are being told that LNG is going to save us. But the problem is that LNG requires enormous amounts of power. Where is that going to come from? From the sold off BC Hydro? What about the residential customers?

Wait, now there is Site C Hydro Dam to pay for…taxpayers will have to pay more than $10 billion for Site C on the Peace River to power the LNG industry. …20,000 acres of farmland and other lands are to be flooded.…All of this cheap power for industry.…Then BC Hydro will be privatized.”

Don’t forget BC Hydro is a big union employer which provides liveable wages to many BC residents in small towns province-wide.

Heat or Eat

You are starting to see the effects of BC Hydro’s debt;  your energy bills are going up and ultimately you will see the effects on the future stability of BC.

There was an article in the Cowichan Citizen this past Christmas of people desperate for help with their BC Hydro bills. A Duncan minister sounded the alarm after an influx of people came to his church seeking relief due to the seemingly ever-increasing BC Hydro rates.

BC’s new election rules – Gabriola

BC’s new election rules are now in effect. Gabriola will vote on Saturday, February 13, 2016 on whether they want to fund a public transit system and how much tax they’re willing to pay for this service, here is the question:

“Are you in favour of the Regional District of Nanaimo adopting Bylaw No. 1734 to provide for the following:

  • establishing the “Transit Contribution Service” within Electoral Area ‘B’ to provide for a contribution towards a system of public transit in Electoral Area ‘B’; and
  • annually requisitioning up to a maximum of the greater of $250,000 or $0.25 per $1,000 of net taxable value of land and improvements to pay for the service?”

Elections BC posted the following notice to warning those who might consider talking about this subject. This ban on unregistered expression is in effect from January 14th to February 13th and applies even if you’re not in the business of advertising or even out to make any money from your opinion.

Elections BC - new advertising rules
Elections BC – new advertising rules


Future of Journalism: monopoly vs indie

What’s does the future of Journalism look like? 2016 will be a year of many changes.

The Canadian media industry is facing an uncertain future. There have been many journalism jobs lost. Traditional media is facing increased competition from digital alternatives. Plus, soon people will have more control over which channels are included in their TV packages which will mean even less Canadian news.

Just recently, Toronto Star announced it intends to close its main printing plant in the Greater Toronto Area. Apparently, The Star is planning on attracting more tablet readers by the end of 2016.

Shaw Communications just announced it is selling its media division which includes Global TV and Shaw TV outlets to Corus Entertainment for $2.65 billion.

Guerilla Journalism

Young journalists entering the field will have to find a new way to survive. Here is an intervew conducted by a Mohawk College journalism student with indie journalist Joey Coleman. Based in Hamilton, Ontario, Coleman has found his niche covering city hall politics for his blog “The Public Record”.  He talks about the four different types of news media models.

Canadian Press Clubs

The National NewsMedia Council is now up and running. The new council is the union of the Ontario Press Council, the Atlantic Press Council and the British Columbia Press Council and was constituted officially on September 1, 2015.

Absolute ban on unregistered expression

A new law has been passed in BC which could shut the door on bloggers.

BC is the only province in Canada that requires a person or group to register with authorities in order to discuss election issues – even if they spend little or no money.

If you neglect to register with Elections B.C. before engaging in these acts of so-called “political advertising”, you could be looking at a year in jail and/or a $10,000 fine. (Other forms of “political advertising” targeted by this law include public facebook posts and  handwritten political signs).

FIPA (BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association) is in the process of challenging this new law in the Supreme Court of Canada to argue that this absolute ban on unregistered expression is unconstitutional, as it applies to communications with a value of zero.

Ma Murray – BC Journalist

“Ma” Murray was a pioneer in BC journalism when print news was king.  Margaret “Ma” Murray was born in 1888 and died in Lillooet in 1982 at the age of 94.  Ma and her journalist/ politician husband started the Bridge River-Lillooet News in March 1, 1934 and later the Alaska Highway News in Fort St. John. Both of these newspapers are now owned by Glacier Media which operates more than 50 community newspapers across Western Canada.

Ma Murray was critical of the Premier of British Columbia for continuing a coalition with the provincial Tories. She ran as a Social Credit candidate in Peace River in the 1945 provincial election, where she was editor of the Alaska Highway News.

Ma Murry political cartoon 1967
Ma Murry political cartoon 1967

“Ma” Murray wrote in 1967:

“The press of Canada by and large in our opinion have let the people of Canada down …The Canadian Press ought to take a readin’ on itself. What good is it if it isn’t keeping watch for the people who read it…”

The cartoon shows “Ma” Murray going after “Wacky” Bennett who was premier of British Columbia history for almost 20 years and won elections in 1952, 1953, 1956, 1960, 1963, 1966, and 1969. His son Bill Bennett was premier from 1975 to 1986.  Between the father and son they ran BC for over 30 years.

1858 to 2058 Predicting the Future of BC

In 2008 British Columbia celebrated its 150th birthday. In 2058 BC will celebrated its 200th birthday! What will the future of BC look like then? First looking back:

→ The British colonial office established the mainland as a crown colony on August 2, 1858, naming it the Colony of British Columbia.

→ British Columbia joined Confederation on July 20, 1871 and became a province.

In 1888 people feared Canada would be Annexed by the United States

1888 Map of Canada after Free Trade

“How the map of the United States would look with Canada Annexed” reads the political cartoon above. Interesting to note the names in the different regions.

The Canadian Manufacturers’ Association and the Canadian Pacific Railway opposed free trade with the United States arguing that the commercial union would lead to the United States taking over Canada. The beginning of annexation. Even today people are still talking about Canada joining the United States.

That same year in 1888 there were reports of native people starving in the Edmonton area. Approximately 3,000 First Nations people starved to death because they were forced off their traditional hunting lands and into reservations. Edgar Dewdney was the Lieutenant-governor of the North West Territories at the time, which included Alberta at the time.

→ Edgar Dewdney was the fifth Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia and the builder of the Dewdney Trail which is named after him.

The Church, The government and starving natives

This 1888 political cartoon reads: “Christian Statesmanship”
(Prime Minister) Sir John: Indians starving? Oh, well, they’re not “friends of Dewdney,” you know. I’ll see that you don’t come to want, though, Mr. Contractor.”

Meat contractors were paid by the government to provide food rations for the First Nation peoples. The meat that was provided was inadequate or tainted. Because the buffalo was virtually extinct, there were no hides to make clothing and therefore, many Natives were in rags and perished in the cold winter as well. This was all part of the government’s plan to ‘clear the land’ and make way for new immigrants.

Twenty years later in 1908 immigration was from Europe was in full swing. Land was being purchased by Europeans and farming communities were established.

In 1908 people feared an Asian Invasion

In January 1908 the federal government decide to retrict immigration from Asia.

1908 Asian Invasion

The government of the day required immigrants to come directly from their countries of origin by a continuous passage.  At the time there wasn’t a direct steamship which ran from India to Canada, so this law stopped immigration directly from India.

In agreement with Canada, at the time, Japan placed emigration restrictions on their citizens. Also, a tax was placed on all incoming Chinese immigrants.

This political cartoon of the day reads:

“We have here gentlemen positively the last specimen of a white man known to exist in BC. It was captured after great trouble and expense in the interior of the province. If you will listen gentlemen it will now sing a comic song…..Rule Britannia. The sign reads, Homo Albus (white man) at one time very numerous in this province – may still be found east of the Rocky Mountains.”

In 2016 fears of a slowing economy, homelessness and racism are still hot topics.  What does the next 42 years hold for British Columbia?

In 2058 people will have no fears!

By the time BC celebrates it’s 200th birthday will the government respect its people?

Top 12 posts for 2015

This has been the first year of Nanaimo council’s four year term.  The major highlight in local politics has to be the Colliery Dams project.  The $80 million water treatment plant is now up and running. Not much to report on regarding the core review. Food trucks could soon be coming to Nanaimo. More small lots developments have been approved and the infilling is proving painful for many neighbourhoods.

Here are the top 12 news items for 2015:

At the beginning of 2015 some topics were discussed, including:

  • a bridge to Gabriola
  • a garbage incinerator at Duke Point
  • Morden Mine
  • two new hotels for downtown Nanaimo
  • metered street parking in downtown Nanaimo

What will 2016 bring? Will the new Trudeau government help Nanaimo get a new foot ferry or a passenger rail service? Will the Chinese government decide to sponsor a new Nanaimo sports arena and hotel to train future Olympic athletics and travel ambassadors?

Who has a crystal ball that isn’t cracked?