Tag Archives: Gabriola Island

Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project and Gabriola Island

What does the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project (TMX) have to do with Gabriola?

If approved, Kinder Morgan will expand the Trans Canada pipeline system from Alberta to Burnaby, with a slightly different route than the original system which was built in the early 1950s.

Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion route
Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion route

A brief timeline

1953:  The original pipeline (shown in black) had a capacity of 150,000 bpd (barrels per day). Some people claim that the system has run flawlessly ever since but there was an incident in January 1985 when there was an oil spill near Edmonton. Back then, they were shipping flowing oil through those pipes, not the thick sludge that has to be diluted.

2005: Kinder Morgan, the largest pipeline company in the world, founded by two ex-Enron executives, bought Trans Mountain pipeline in 2005.

2006-7: Kinder Morgan reactivated another 160km section of unused pipeline that went through Jasper National Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park between Hinton, Alberta and Hargreaves, BC. This brought the pipeline’s capacity to 300,000 bpd.

2010: Kinder Morgan started to plan for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX). They wanted to raise money to build the TMX. So they began charging the oil companies a fee per barrel which passes through the existing pipeline. This surcharge isn’t considered revenue for Kinder Morgan. Also, those same fees are expensed by the oil companies using the pipeline.  That reduces the oil companies’ taxes payable.

So who is subsidising the TMX? The Canadian taxpayer. So far we have funded this project by almost $150 million.

Kinder Morgan Canada President, Ian Anderson, told investors: “there’s $29 million a year coming in for Firm 50 fees [the surcharge] that is being used to offset all of the development costs for us in the [TMX] project…there’s no risk to us.”

Kinder Morgan has a debt load of $49 billion. They’ve rolled over $10 billion of debt every year, and they’ve done that for the last five years. Is this convenient accounting in case there is an oil spill? Then who will pay for the clean-up?

2013: Kinder Morgan applied to the NEB for approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

How did the Trans Mountain Expansion Project get approved?

2015: In a conference call to investors in December 2015, Kinder Morgan CEO Steve Kean told investors that even with the changeover in the federal government he fully expected the National Energy Board to give them “our permit” in May 2016, with approval from the federal cabinet later in the summer. Is he a psychic? Or did he get reassurances from the new Liberal government that his project would get the go ahead?

2016: The NEB (National Energy Board) approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project (TMX) in May 2016 with 157 conditions. About half of the conditions such as engineering and safety apply throughout the lifecycle of the project and may have no specific filing requirement. Only 40 of these involve the environment.

Even though the expanded pipeline system has a capacity of over 1.1 million bpd, the NEB restricted its review to the applied-for capacity of 540,000 bpd. The NEB did not allow interveners to cross examine Kinder Morgan officials, instead opting for a written format to test evidence.

Here are just a few things that the NEB said were irrelevant:

  • Kinder Morgan pays almost no Canadian corporate taxes
  • no Emergency Management Plan (EMP) in case of an oil spill
  • no environmental impacts of tanker traffic

Oil tankers parked off of Gabriola

Not only are Gabriolans faced with the possibility of LNG supertankers scraping up the rare glass reefs off the shores of Gabriola Island, but there is a very real possibility that some of the TMX oil tankers will park there too.

The Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby would also be expanded. Oil would be loaded onto tankers in Burnaby and shipped through the Salish Sea to Washington State, California and Asia. They estimate this expansion will bring 35-40 tankers a month to Burnaby.

Another panel to ‘hear’ the public

In January 2016, the Federal government announced the Ministry of Natural Resources would create a new panel to conduct additional consultation on the TMX.

On May 17, 2016, just two days before the NEB announced its recommendation to approve TMX, the Minister of Natural Resources announced that Kim Baird, Tony Penikett and Dr. Annette Trimbee would comprise the TMX Ministerial Panel.

  • Kim Baird is the former Chief of the Tsawassen First Nation and has been called out for her conflict of interest with Kinder Morgan.
  • Tony Penikett is a former Premier of the Yukon Territory.
  • Dr. Annette Trimbee was a deputy minister in the Alberta government. Currently she is the president of the University of Winnipeg.

The panel was scheduled to hold rountables in seven communities across BC. Victoria is the only community on the oil tanker route being consulted. Some say that this is worse than the NEB hearings. The majority of people in attendance so far have been personally invited by the government. There is no official recording of the meetings.

There will be one Public Town Hall meeting in Victoria on Tuesday, August 23, 2016 from 4pm to 8:30pm at the Marriott Inner Harbour Hotel, Pacific Ballroom.

If you can’t attend, you can send an email with your comments to the panel  nrcan.ministerialpaneltmx-comiteministerieltmx.rncan@canada.ca.

Panel members submit their report to Minister Carr in November 2016. The Panel’s final report will be made public.

Trans Mountain Expansion Project Status

Trans Mountain Expansion Project Approval
Trans Mountain Expansion Project Approval

There are currently seven applications to be heard by the Federal Court of Appeal contesting the NEB’s approval of the TMX. Will all seven be heard by December 2016 when the Federal government makes its final decision?

85 Orcas need your help!

There are only 85 Southern Resident Orcas left in the Salish Sea. They only eat Chinook Salmon which currently under duress because of the warm sea temperatures. The whales’ acoustic bubbles will be further diminished because of the increase in underwater noise from tanker traffic.

What will happen when there is an oil spill? Will there be any fish to swim up the Fraser River?

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


Regional District of Nanaimo taxes to increase by 32%

It’s not every day that our local daily newspaper asks people to revolt – yes stand up and scream! Why?! Regional District of Nanaimo taxes are to increase 32% over the next five years.

The RDN directors will vote on the 2014 -2018 Financial Plan at the next  board meeting  February 25, 2014. The RDN is anticipating to collect $52.8 million a year by 2018; last year they collected $40.1 million.

What does the RDN do? RDN is responsible for administration, local governance, and local services such as transit, solid waste, recreation facilities, water and parks.

What’s the money for? Major infrastructure projects are for:

  • $18 million sewage outfall pipe in Nanaimo
  • $1.5 million for firehall upgrades
  • $15.5 million for transit expansion
  • $12 million to convert old landfill to a park

Where can the RDN save money? Cut the number of transit mangers. They don’t need a manager for every zone. Get more buses and more drivers. There is no bus from Ladysmith to Nanaimo. Also, does the City of Nanaimo need to have 7 representatives on the Board? There seems to be an over-representation from the City.

Who are the directors at the RDN? The RDN is governed by an elected Board of 17 Directors. They are the following:

Alec McPherson: Electoral Area A Cedar
Howard Houle: Electorial Area B Gabriola
Maureen Young: Electorial Area C Extention

George Holme: Electoral Area E Nanoose Bay
Julian Fell: Electorial Area F Errington
Joe Stanhope: Electoral Area G French Creek
Bill Veenhof: Electorial Area H Deep Bay

Dave Willie:  Mayor of Qualicum
Marc Lefebvre:  Mayor of Parksville
Jack de Jong:  Mayor of Lanztville

Cityof Nanaimo
John Ruttan – Mayor of Nanaimo
George Anderson
Bill Bestwick
Diane Brennan
Ted Greves
Diana Johnstone
Jim Kipp

Does Nanaimo pay taxes to the RDN? 9% of the taxes collected from Nanaimo residents go to the RDN.

Taxpayers of the RDN saw an increase of taxes this year of 5.2 %. Living on Vancouver Island there are many issues causing people to revolt; expensive and unreliable ferry service, closing schools in CedarParksville, and Qualicum, water worries, burning  Vancouver’s garbage.

This RDN tax increase comes at a very difficult time when residents of Lanztville are facing an approximate 11% increase in taxes and Gabriola is undergoing a mass exodus, as people are leaving because of deteriorating ferry service. Many of these RDN Directors seem to think that people have endless bags of money. The reality is those with the resources will just pack up and move. Is the RDN is banking on a new wave of people  arriving with deep pockets?

If you would like to give your feedback on the tax increases, send an email to corpsrv@rdn.bc.ca . Also, please request that the RDN meetings be recorded on video as they are at the City of Nanaimo and other communities.  Let’s hope the RDN will work towards being more transparent.

Cutting BC Ferry Routes: Gabriola vs. Tsawwassen

A Coastal Ferries Community Engagement meeting will be held Tuesday December 10, 2013 from 5pm to 8pm at Gabriola Community Hall, 2200 South Rd, Gabriola Island regarding cutting BC ferry routes.

How can BC Ferries Services Inc. save money? They want to save $800,000 by April 2016 on the Gabriola ferry route.

What is the solution? Cut the ferry management? Cut the major routes? The Ferry Advisory Committee has the following suggestion:

The three major routes (from the Lower Mainland to Vancouver Island) include the Twsawwassen-Duke Point run which loses the most money. These major routes are not facing huge cuts like the 22 smaller routes.

Tsawwassen-Duke Point route
The Tsawwassen-Duke Point route has been losing money for at least ten years. In each of the last five years it has lost somewhere between $24 million to $30 million a year.

The route has an average capacity utilization of 48%. It could stand to lose one of its four shifts on weekdays for ten months a year and still have room for all its traffic. A combination of consultation and a revised reservation system could produce a schedule to accommodate the freight and commercial carriers who use the route heavily. These cuts to Tsawwassen-Duke Point alone would save $9.6 million.

Translink reduced schedule:
Starting December 16, 2013 the new Translink schedule has a reduced service to and from the Tsawwassen terminal on weekdays.  Instead of running every hour, buses will only run alternate hours to meet ferries to and from Victoria.  Weekend services will continue to run hourly.

Gabriola Ferry Terminal
Minister Todd Stone said in the cutback announcement on November 18, 2013 that over the next two years, the ministry would be looking at making $4.9 million in service reductions for the major routes, specifically mentioning the Duke Point and Departure Bay.   Could the Gabriola – Nanaimo Harbour terminal be closed and the Gabriola route be moved to Duke Point or Departure Bay?

GERTIE on the water?
Gabriola already has its own bus, Gabriola’s Environmentally Responsible Trans-Island Express (GERTIE). What would it take to put GERTIE on the water?  Why should the island economy be pushed into permanent decline because of the lack of  ferry service?

Poetry from Nanaimo’s first Poet Laureate

At the Monday, November 18, 2013 Nanaimo council meeting the City introduced its first poet laureate, Naomi Beth Wakan. The position is for three years and pays $3000. Ms. Wakan was introduced by  Mr. Bob Kuhn, Manager Recreation and Culture.  He didn’t reveal the selection process but explained that the poet came with very high accolades.

Ms. Naomi Wakan prefaced her two poems with an introduction:

I hope to live out my term as Poet Laureate, I am 82 years old and from Gabriola.  Currently, I am writing my own memoirs.  So here is a poem about Nanaimo’s memoirs. I’m reading a book on Nanaimo’s history; I didn’t know anything about it before.

If Nanaimo wrote its memoirs
when a city writes its memoirs it is no different from you or I writing ours
we tend to rest on the wreaths of glory
as the city would on the opening of the new mine or the movement of shipping
times for dancing at the waterfront or gathering in the park
When a city writes its memoirs
it comes as it does with our distortion of fair ground mirrors
the trimmings of a topiary bush and all the tricks of looking backwards places
When a city writes its memoirs
it is as if it is drawing up a ledger
here red ink
here black ink and here a blurring of the two
yet a reckoning must be done as we too must evaluate our years
and when it is no lingering in the nostalgia of good times
or the festering bitterness of regrets
no, then is the time to turn a fresh page
a page full of promise as to where the city and we might go next

“I like to read my thank you poem so I can catch a few more people in my net”

Thank you friends
Thank you Poetry Gabriola and the League of poets for keeping the wolf at the door
and the Sounder for touting such writing skills as that I have
and to the CBC for allowing my voice to occasionally get on the air
and to the folks who come to my workshops for they help pay the mortgage
and the folks who come to my readings who keep me alert so I that I can keep them alert
and thank you to the folks who buy my books
and even the folks who don’t buy my books and who borrow them from the library
and to the folks who stand around in book stores and read my books and put them back on the shelf with the face outwards, they too do me a service
and thanks to my twin who is often the butt of my wit
and to my daughter who lays out my books when she feels like it or when I visit
and although I have to remind her that I had to change her diapers whether I felt like it or not
and to my son who calls on birthdays and the day after Mothers Day with a few words
and thanks to my husband who criticizes many aspects of my being thus keeping me in the here and now when I tend to stray to other times he points out the typos and other details like the fact that he prefers the toilet paper put back so that it rolls from the front rather from the back
and thank you to my lucky stars, Cancer what ever Cancer rising
and my moon in Virgo and from the stars it is a mere hop skip and jump to
thanking the galaxies at the ends of the universe where apparently the big bangs is to be followed by the big crunch meanwhile providing me with just the right amount of oxygen and just the correct degree of gravity to allow me to sit on the deck musing on life
and writing poetry of a modest significance.

It is unclear how many poems she will be writing each year for the City of Nanaimo. It is curious they chose someone who lives on Gabriola Island and not in Nanaimo.  Could this be so there won’t be poems forthcoming that complain and moan about about rising taxes or an unreceptive council?

Campaign for National Marine Conservation Area to include Nanaimo Estuary and Gabriola

Mid Island Sustainability & Stewardship Initiative (MISSI) is leading a campaign to include the Nanaimo estuary and Gabriola Island coastal waters in the Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area (SSG-NMCA).

Why is the Nanaimo Estuary so important?

The Nanaimo River Estuary is the largest estuary on Vancouver Island and the fifth largest in British Columbia.

Estuarine areas like the Strait of Georgia are among the most productive marine ecosystems in the world due to fresh water and ocean water mixing and upwelling to create a nutrient-rich marine environment.

The Nanaimo Estuary supports five species of pacific salmon, two species of trout, rockfish, dungeness crab, shellfish, juvenile herring, smelts, capelin, flatfish and halibut. It is also among the finest areas globally for scuba diving, whale watching, sea kayaking and coastal cruising.

There is an opportunity to include the area in orange: the Nanaimo estuary and the northern perimeter of Gabriola Island.

Nanaimo Estuary
Proposed extension to include Nanaimo Estuary and the northern half of Gabriola Island

On October 13, 2011, the governments of Canada and British Columbia announced a proposed boundary for the Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area, which you can see below (dark blue area).

Proposed Marine Area
Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area

The area covers about 1,400 square kilometres. The proposed boundary extends from the southern tip of Gabriola Island to Saanich Inlet and Cordova Bay, just north of Victoria.

Nanaimo not included:

On Monday, October 29, 2012 the Nanaimo City Council voted to take no position regarding Mid-Island Sustainability and Stewardship Initiative’s request for the City to support an extension to the proposed Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area.

Give YOUR FEEDBACK on Parks Canada’s proposed National Marine Conservation Area

Feasibility Study for the Proposed Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area Reserve

Contact your representative at the City of Nanaimo or Member of Parliament, to express your thoughts on the proposal for a northern extension to the Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area.

Wine and Cheese: the Mid Island Sustainability & Stewardship Initiative (MISSI) is hosting a Wine & Cheese evening. Come and show your support on November 8, 2012, from 7-10pm, Thistledown Farm, 2689 Cedar Rd (near Haslam Rd).  For more information or to RSVP, please call 250-722-7223.