Stop reading this blog and go outside.

These last beautiful days of August  bring shorter days, but the angle of the sun in late afternoon paints everything it touches gold. The sunsets seem more intense.. or maybe we just appreciate them more knowing soon September will whisk them away.

So please, enjoy them when you can and make an effort to do something that makes your soul happy. I’ll post again next week with an update on the sea to sky highway story and another tidbit on the Port Mann.

happiness

 

Posted in Laila Yuile | 4 Comments

BC Hydro says halting Site C would cost taxpayers $500 million? Not building it at all will save us over $8 billion dollars.

Sometimes, one woman can only take so much. And when I saw yet another headline last night blaring: 

“BC Hydro says halting Site C would cost $500 million”

I really and truly, had enough.

“A stop-work order for the Site C dam will cause “extreme prejudice” to BC Hydro at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars and a one-year delay in the construction schedule, the utility’s lawyer says.

Mark Andrews told a B.C. Supreme Court judge that critical milestones will not be met if an injunction is granted to a pair of First Nations.

“This injunction is going to drive a truck into the schedule of the project at this stage in particular,” Andrews said Wednesday.

The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations are challenging the nearly $9-billion project by arguing they were not properly consulted before permits were granted for Site C, the third dam on the Peace River.

The Treaty 8 Tribal Alliance members say they will suffer “irreparable harm” if BC Hydro is allowed to start clearing thousands of hectares of old-growth forest.

They’ve asked a judge to block work authorized by specific permits.”

~snip~

“The project is in the public interest because the dam’s power will flow to British Columbians, he said.

BC Hydro has said the dam is expected increase its energy supply by eight per cent, enough to generate electricity for about 450,000 homes annually.”

This kind of stuff makes my blood boil. Let me tell you why.

Site C is a project that has been on the books for longer than many British Columbians will remember. Over the years ,the reasons for it have changed a few times in order to try and justify the project. Then Premier Clark picked it up and said  LNG plants will need the energy, so we must build Site C.

However when it was revealed that LNG plants could burn their own gas to generate power – Clark admitted to Bloomberg Site C was not needed to power up those LNG plants we still don’t have – the reason for building it changed again. Now, Clark said, British Columbians will need that clean energy! We must build Site C!

It’s also been said we could sell the energy elsewhere… but read on.

What it comes down to, is that we still don’t need the electricity from that project,and there are still very serious questions  about the rationale and the costs associated with it.

Site C was already turned down once by the BC Utilities Commission in the eighties because it simply wasn’t needed.

Not surprisingly, last year the  federal-provincial joint review panel recommended  that the B.C.  government send the project to the B.C. Utilities Commission for review on the economics and cost of the project. That is what the BC Utilities Commission exists for. It reviews all the evidence provided and determines if it is accurate and if the benefits outweigh the negatives.

But no, the province  did not, and will not send the project to the BC Utilities Commission and actually exempted it when they passed the Clean Energy Act in 2010. The province knows full well that there stands a very strong likelihood the BC Utilities Commission would say the project still isn’t needed at this point in time, or that the costs associated with it outweigh any rationale for building it.

The BC Utilities Commission might also ask the province why  it still hasn’t investigated alternatives to the dam as was recommended the last time this project went before them.

The provincial government has ignored not only the federal-provincial review panel, but politicians,industry experts and the people whose homes and land will be flooded if the project proceeds.

Each of you should be asking yourselves why this project is being pushed through without this review being done.

This is why the BC Utilities Commission exists!!  There is so much concern over this project that now the BC Auditor General will be conducting a review “to investigate “whether BC Hydro’s recommendation and government’s decision to build Site C was supported by sufficient information and analysis to demonstrate that it would meet government’s economic, social and environmental goals.”

In an exclusive interview earlier this year, the chair of the review panel had this to say:

“In his first interview on the Site C dam, the chair of the federal-provincial panel appointed to review Canada’s largest current infrastructure project said the B.C.government was unwise to green-light the project without a review by the B.C.Utilities Commission and would have been better off to delay the decision by a few years.

There’s a whole bunch of unanswered questions, some of which would be markedly advanced by waiting three or four years,” Harry Swain told DeSmog Canada. “And you’d still be within the period of time, even by Hydro’s bullish forecasts, when you’re going to need the juice.”

~snip~

You shouldn’t take decisions before you need to,” Swain said. “That means you’ll have much more information when you finally have to take a decision. Building electricity facilities in advance of need only costs money.”

The panel’s report predicted that in the first four years of production, the Site C dam would lose at least $800 million because BC Hydro would generate more power than the province needs at a cost of $100 per megawatt hour — when the market price for that power is currently $30 per megawatt hour.

Wisdom would have been waiting for two, three, four years to see whether the projections they were making had any basis in fact,” Swain said. “And they would have been able to make a better-informed decision and not necessarily a more expensive one.”

In its report, the panel wrote that it couldn’t conclude that the power from Site C was needed on the schedule presented, adding: “Justification must rest on an unambiguous need for the power and analyses showing its financial costs being sufficiently attractive as to make tolerable the bearing of substantial environmental, social and other costs.”

Some of the questions that still need to be answered, according to Swain, include the real cost and availability of alternatives, how B.C. should use its Columbia River rights, how British Columbians will react to increased electricity prices (which could decrease demand) and how the province’s liquefied natural gas industry will develop.”

That interview is a must read and you can read part 1 here: http://www.desmog.ca/2015/03/10/exclusive-b-c-government-should-have-deferred-site-c-dam-decision-chair-joint-review-panel

And part 2 here: http://www.desmog.ca/2015/03/11/dereliction-duty-chair-site-c-panel-b-c-s-failure-investigate-alternatives-mega-dam

This matters.

Homes are going to be flooded,some that have been farmed and owned by three generations of the same family.They are harvesting  musk melons right now – this is fertile land, ready for crops and in this day and age the government should be promoting it, not trying to flood it.

The valley and river is also used by many including First Nations, for hunting and fishing. It has archaeological significance. Even the BC government Parks has designated the Peace River as one of its Heritage Rivers,extensively sharing how unique and diverse the river below the other two dams really is: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/heritage_rivers_program/bc_rivers/peace_river.html

site C heritage river

It really matters that when the province or a crown corporation undertakes any big project, they ensure every check and balance is done and that has not been the case with Site C. And while this time it is Site C being rammed through, next time it might be a project that impacts your life more directly.

So, when I see news reports with BC Hydro warning that costs will increase by $500 million if work is halted, I see a scare tactic designed to sway the public into pressing for this project to move ahead.

What should be said is that not building it will save taxpayers far more than $8.5 billion dollar cost of construction… but also the  potential yearly loss of $800 million because the cost to produce the energy is more than current rates. Our hydro bills would likely go up.

It’s just wrong on so many levels. I urge everyone to write the premier and every Liberal MLA and demand this project be put before the BC Utilities Commission for the full review it should have had in the first place.

Posted in Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

“Good morning Laila, My name is Derek and I’m a very rare man.” or ” How left and right politics are fabricated.”

As a writer, I get a lot of interesting emails. In fact, I sometimes imagine putting together a book one day of the  amusing and sometimes, downright odd ones that people send me. Don’t get me wrong – 98% are great tips and comments and I love getting them-it’s the 2% that raise my eyebrows!)

So, when I first checked my emails today,I quickly scanned one that said:

"Good morning Laila, 

My name is Derek and I’m a very rare man.
I’m utilizing my uniqueness to raise an equally uncommon message...."

I’ll be honest. At that point my eyes were rolling back in my head so far my chair nearly fell backwards and I had a bit of fun with this opener on Facebook.

But after meeting the deadline for this weeks column, I went back to read it again and found something that actually really mattered.

I’ve written a lot about why I think partisanship –  in particular blind and extreme partisanship – turns people off politics. and as a result, voting.

You can find those posts HERE..http://lailayuile.com/2015/03/19/left-right-and-the-space-in-between-conquering-the-great-divide-in-politics/

…and over HERE: http://lailayuile.com/2013/04/21/how-partisan-politics-is-killing-democracy/

…and even right HERE: http://lailayuile.com/2015/08/11/the-only-way-to-change-it-is-to-vote-people-are-responsible-paul-wellstone/

For me, it’s always been about trying to engage people and bring them back into the process. I’ve tried to make that direct connection between what happens in and around their personal lives, to the need to pay attention and get involved at some level of engagement. On many issues, it’s no longer enough to just sit and watch the news and go ” That’s terrible!” Or ” That shouldn’t happen!

So when I watched Derek’s video, I saw something that resonated deeply with what I have written in the past and what I intend to keep trying to do in the future: Get people engaged and get them to vote.

And yes some of my deeply partisan friends will once again sigh deeply as they silently curse my efforts, but oh well. It won’t be the first time and certainly not the last, I promise.

So Derek, good snag in that email. You caught my attention, hook, line and sinker. Health and humour, Laila :)

Posted in BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Politics, Federal politics, Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Letter from a reader: “Is there anyone looking out for the interests of the general public here???”

Catching up on the emails from my contact page here on the site today, and received this letter from a reader in Delta, who has cancer and is forced to travel to Surrey for treatments – via transit. I rarely post letters from people here, but this one really struck me.

He has noticed something that needs some attention in the city of Surrey, and he is not happy about it. And although I have noticed the sidewalk had been out for a very long time as well, I did not think of the impact it would have on those going to and from the many health care resources located just a couple of blocks down by the hospital, in particular as he writes, you are not aware of this in advance.

He makes some excellent points.

Your Worship Ms. Linda M. Hepner
And Members of Surrey Council
13450 104 Avenue
Surrey, BC V3T 1V8

Coast Capitol Credit Union
Board of Directors
4th Floor, 15117 101 Avenue
Surrey, BC V3R 8P7

Hon. Tod Stone
Minister of Transport
PO BOX 9055
STN PROV GOVT
VICTORIA, BC
V8W 9E2

Dear Madams and Sirs

For the Last Month I’ve had the Curse of Cancer and the Treatments to Battle the disease .

Which take me unfortunately to Your Community .

I’m forced to travel by transit to the Surrey Cancer Centre .

The curse has robbed me of a portion of my sight my ability to drive!

What I’ve found that is absolutely amazing is that the whole time period that I’ve been attending the Cancer Clinic and BEYOND THAT I’ve Been reliably informed .

There has been a EXTENSIVE closure of the Side walk along King George Highway STARTING on the Eastern Side of the Roadway for what appears to be Several Blocks Heading to the South . Thus Blocking off Pedestrian access to the King George Skytrain Station from the South for a Prolonged Period .

Forcing Hundreds of Pedestrians SOME Of Whom are Elderly and Infirmed , On Wheel chairs, with other Health Issues that are using this Route to get to the Main Hospital in the area .

One would THINK that the Developer Especially a ” Community Oriented Organization LIKE Coast Capital Credit Union Would Put the Interests of the Members of the Public FIRST and foremost ??? And expedite repairs and construction that Interfere with the Use of a IMPORTANT PUBLIC ACCESS ????
This incident further confirms a pattern here in the Lower Mainland Where DEVELOPERS and Speculators seem to have FREE Rain with are PUBLIC STREETS and Access they seem to have e NO PROBLEM blocking off roadway and public amenities and denying access to Public Properties at Will THIS is a Prime Case in Point .

HOW ?? Can this Extensive Shut Down Be JUSTIFIED ??? IS THERE ANYONE LOOKING OUT FOR THE INTERESTS OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC HERE ???

We have all sorts of Contractors and Business organizations Lobbying for the Industry’s WHOM is Looking after the Interests of the PUBLIC HERE ???

AND THIS IS A EXCELLENT DEMONSTRATION OF THE ABUSES’ OF ARE PUBLIC ACCESS ROUTES IF THERE WAS ANY
During My frequent passes of this sight I have YET to see anyone actually WORKING to resolve this Blockage of a Important safety and access route for Pedestrians .

There is a Problem here as This Creates a Long and Laborious detour to Infirmed People Especially IF they are Not aware of the Detour in advance .

It forces people to make long waits on NUMEROUS Traffic control Lights and pass over a Major Highway several times Depending on How they Make there approach .

For Healthily Individuals with TIME on there hands No Problem !

For the elderly and sick it is a Impediment to access.
Just WHOM is looking after the interests of the PUBLIC when it comes to these Projects ? WHY has this been permitted to continue ??

PLEASE JUST HOW DO YOU JUSTIFY THIS ?? ARE WE SOLELY CONCERNED WITH THE DEVELOPERS RATHER THEN THE INTERESTS AND COSTS TO THE PUBLIC WHICH I guess YOU SERVE THIS IS SO blatant

Yours Richard Swanston

Delta BC V4M 2H2

I’m sincerely hoping Coast Capital as an involved community member, can address this situation. Richard is but one person who took the time to write- how many others have been in this situation but have not been able to do the same?

While ambulatory patients can use the Fraser Health employee shuttle, it is only if space allows and you have a doctors note- employees etc are given preference. And, I’m not entirely sure how many people are even informed this exists. http://www.fraserhealth.ca/your-stay/amenities-and-services/shuttle/

That shuttle however,doesn’t help people who are not patients,but simply needing to get to the doctors office,have tests, visit patients etc. who still may be elderly or infirm.

**Update. Coast Capital has advised they are looking into this and speaking with the developer and the city to see what can be done. I will keep this post updated as I learn any new information.

Posted in Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

This weeks column for 24Hours Vancouver: BC keeps Richmond in the dark on Massey

With all the pet projects, contentious developments and questionable spending happening in cities across Metro Vancouver, it’s a rare day I find myself feeling sympathetic for local mayors and councils.

However, when it comes to how the provincial and federal governments seemingly steamroll local governments with their own projects and, at times, leave them out of the loop on critical issues that impact their communities — they have my full sympathy.

One case in point is the George Massey Tunnel Replacement project. Anyone who has driven that stretch of Highway 99 during morning or afternoon rush hour can attest the congestion is a nightmare and it’s not limited to the highway. Steveston Highway and all feeder routes are clogged as well, as drivers try to save a few minutes and dodge the bulk of the congestion.

It’s a critical issue not only for the city of Richmond and its residents, but for the region as well. So it only makes sense for the province to get it right and work closely with city officials to ensure the best result is achieved. That, however, doesn’t seem to be happening.

Recently, Richmond asked the province, once again, for more details on the project that have yet to be divulged to them, or the public.

City hall is still in the dark when it comes to how the bridge will be funded — whether there will be tolls or not — nor have they received the project definition report.

Why is the city most impacted by the province’s decision to build this bridge being left in the dark? In particular, since Richmond council would like to keep the tunnel — which has many more years of life left — to utilize for another purpose.

Between the Surrey Fraser Docks plan to ship U.S. coal directly from their facility, and the Tilbury Island LNG plant expansion, this project is more about accommodating tankers up the Fraser River than it is alleviating congestion in Richmond and Delta…

READ the rest of this weeks column, and vote on the poll, at this link: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2015/08/12/bc-keeps-richmond-in-the-dark-on-massey

Posted in BC Liberals, BC Politics, Civic Affairs- 24Hrs Vancouver, Laila Yuile, LNGindustry/fracking, The China Connection, The Environment | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“The only way to change it, is to vote. People are responsible.” ~ Paul Wellstone

power

Settled deep into the halcyon days of summer, mid-August triggers a sense of urgency for many Canadians regardless of where you live. Every day is a tick of the clock counting down the coveted days of  a northern summer that for many, is all too short.

And while most of us will use every free second of this month to simply relax with friends and family,others are already preparing for winter – cutting and stacking wood,harvesting gardens to freeze,pickle and can everything they can. Even a look into my deep freezer would show you bags of IQF local berries and fruits, and the blackberry harvest is ongoing. When you plan for 6 months of fall and winter, it takes a significant amount of your time and energy.

But in offices and certain homes all across Canada, there is a different sense of urgency developing as political parties move into high gear in the wake of  Prime Minister Harper’s early election call on August 2nd. And while most of my followers will already know this, I also know that there are thousands more Canadians who truly are not aware yet that an election is even happening this year,sad as it is.

This will be one of the longest and most expensive election campaigns in the history of Canadian politics,and every political party would be wise to pace themselves to avoid over-bombarding Canadians, which is likely to increase voter apathy. Indeed voter apathy is perhaps an even bigger threat to the future of this country than Harper when you look at the turnout in recent federal elections.

In 2011, the population of Canada was 31,612,897 million people. Only 24,257,592 were registered to vote and on the electors list.

And of those electors, only 14,823,408 people actually took the time to vote- it works out to 61.1%. A look back at the chart from Elections Canada shows the low voter turnout still is a really big issue.

electionturnout

Now don’t get me wrong – I am firmly in the ‘Harper needs to go’ camp – from the treatment of veterans to silencing of scientists, from his turnabout on the Chinese government to ‘quiet’ meetings with propaganda ministers and now Bill C51 -there is ample reason for pragmatic if not partisan objection to his governments actions and policies.

But when only 60% of people who are registered to vote actually do, it brings a perspective to the campaigns I think is often overlooked in the quest to win. Let me tell you why I feel that way.

I recently posted a link to http://www.votetogether.ca/ to my Facebook page and asked: “If the goal of this election is to defeat the Harper government, would you vote for the candidate in your riding that is most likely to defeat a Conservative, if that candidate was not of the party you are a member of, or support? ”

Surprisingly, for the very few willing to even answer that question, even fewer were honest enough to admit that they would not. So is this about getting rid of Harper, or is this about power?

The premise of the VoteTogether initiative is to vote strategically to oust the Conservatives, and they promote voting for whichever candidate has the best chance of doing so in your riding,regardless of the party they represent.

Now, if all the rhetoric we have heard about Stop Harper were true and meaningful, one would think the federal Liberals and NDP must come to some sort of an agreement to ensure that happens. But no, that’s not happening.

Why? Because while both parties will ultimately resort to some kind of gobbledygook about not being able to support the policies of the other and how they alone are the only viable option to undo the mess the Conservatives have created, it’s really about power.  The intense yearning for power not only at the top but in the backrooms behind the top. Trudeau has nixed an alliance outright while Mulcair says while they are aiming to replace the Conservatives,when the votes go down he will not support a Tory minority.

But why not unite now, to get the job done before the election?

This is something touched on in a column by none other than Martyn Brown, who was lauded and elevated to near celebrity status by those on the left recently,for his columns bashing Christy Clark and her LNG dreams.

But today- not surprisingly -those same people are silent as his recent post heralding Green Party Elizabeth Mays performance in the Macleans debate, strikes a nerve for some and appeals to others.

For me, this is where he gets to the heart of the matter, because I too found May’s debate performance compelling:

May has also proved that her participation stands to change the entire tenor and content of any debate that might take place—and decidedly for the better.

Set aside that, as the only woman in the field, she alone stands to temper her competitors’ macho tussle of ideas and insults with some much-needed gender balance and a unique perspective.

Why the Globe is prepared to discount that imperative is as mystifying as it is glaringly inexcusable.

The larger benefit of May’s involvement is the option for change and democratic representation that her party stands to offer Canadians. It is an option that will be aided by her participation in the debates and that will be unconscionably suppressed if she is excluded.

Whatever the practical challenges may be in translating the Green party’s ideas into action and its often-lofty positions into workable policies, May’s views are important for another less obvious reason.

They remind us all that idealism still matters in politics.

Her positions are grounded in unyielding beliefs and values of what is right and what is wrong. They are often anything but “political” in the typical partisan sense, insofar as they tend to marginalize her own voter support base, as they also transcend party lines and their associated ideologies.

The trouble with being on the cusp of power—as the NDP now is, in lockstep with the Liberals and Conservatives—is that the power game becomes the only thing that really matters.

Ideals get thrown out the window when push comes to shove in the battle to play it safe with positions that always have the polls as their main object of focus.

The last place you want to be, if you want to be the last person left standing, is out on a ledge like May, defending your ideals with an uncompromising commitment to stand fast for right over wrong, come what may.

The parties and their leaders all tend to speak in code to their prospective supporters by saying enough to win them over and by saying nothing that is not open to constructive interpretation in wooing any target audience.

This is the real value of May’s involvement. She is inclined to say exactly what she means, as if it really matters.

And some of what she says speaks directly to voters like me, who long to hear politicians stake their claim in ideals that are more concerned with right and wrong than with the narrow confines of their orthodox ideologies….”

“The power game becomes the only thing that matters…” 

And sadly, this is what I see in the comments of some friends and acquaintances who speak to me now as if I too were the ‘enemy’ simply because I believe Canadians not only have a right to choose who to vote for, but that they deserve to hear what May has to say.

And I voice that. I’m not naïve, but nor am I a party member. I’m a concerned Canadian with no political affiliation,just like hundreds of thousands of other voters. So this matters to me.

I’ve been told that because the Green candidates aren’t ‘whipped’, they have to represent their constituents views regardless of what that is( like that’s a bad thing?)  – from a Liberal supporter.

That Green’s are actually Conservatives and vote Right – from an NDP supporter.

And all the while, the NDP and the Liberals keep telling people why they shouldn’t vote for the other parties, instead of telling people what they can do differently. And supporters of both are mocking the decisions and opinions of those who are undecided but maybe leaning towards their Green candidate?

Gee, do you think that after 3 months of this going on, we have the potential to see more voter apathy than ever? That the undecided, non-party member voters who don’t spend every moment following politics or even the news for that matter, will just say: “Forget it!” yet again and lead us to another Harper government? Perhaps – only time will tell.

Call me crazy, but telling someone their vote is wrong, that their opinion is stupid or doesn’t matter, might not be the best way to get people to vote. Something for those ‘influencers’ out there on social media to think about, if not the party brass.

I very much enjoy the diversity of opinions and thoughts of all my partisan friends whether I agree or not, but partisanship alone isn’t the problem. It’s the inability or the unwillingness to look beyond the confines of that partisan view to a bigger picture.  Please, when engaging potential voters, think about what your goal is for Canada- and not just your party. An increase in voter turnout is good for all of us.

Indeed,apathy is the biggest threat to democracy  and the Conservatives know this well…Don’t unwittingly feed the beast that allows them to get re-elected, in your zeal to unseat them.

“The job facing voters… in the days and years to come is to determine which hearts, minds and souls command those qualities best suited to unify a country rather than further divide it, to heal the wounds of a nation as opposed to aggravate its injuries, and to secure for the next generation a legacy of choices based on informed awareness rather than one of reactions based on unknowing fear.” ~ Abherjhani

Aberjhani,

Posted in Enbridge, Federal politics, Laila Yuile, LNGindustry/fracking, The China Connection, The Environment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Mount Polley tailings pond disaster. What a difference a year makes…

August 12th,2014

http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Mount+Polley+breach+environmental+disaster+Mines+Minister+Bill+Bennett/10109949/story.html

“B.C. Mines Minister Bill Bennett says the Mount Polley tailings dam collapse is not an environmental disaster, equating it to the “thousands” of avalanches that happen annually in B.C. Bennett, pointing to initial positive water readings, asserted his contention will be proven in the next several weeks.”

“Bennett acknowledged the dam collapse may be a mining industry, a geotechnical and a political disaster.

But he said that has to be separated from the environmental effects.

“Get up in a helicopter and go and look at the avalanches that happen in this province — there are probably 10,000 or 15,000 avalanches that happen every single year. Get up in a helicopter and go and look at what happened last spring with the events in the Rockies with water coming down and doing exactly what happened in Hazeltine Creek. The difference is that snow melts, (but) you are left with exactly the same (result) — it looks exactly the same as what happened in Hazeltine Creek,” said Bennett.

“It’s a mess. It’s a total mess, there’s no question about that … What’s going to happen here, is we are going to be left with this opportunity to learn from this huge, profound mistake that’s been made here,” he said.

August 4th, 2015

http://www.timescolonist.com/mining-industry-still-horrified-by-mount-polley-tailings-pond-collapse-bennett-1.2020206

“British Columbia’s mines minister says the mining industry remains horrified a year after a tailings pond collapsed at the Mount Polley mine northeast of Williams Lake.

Bill Bennett said no one thought a crisis on such a scale was possible but that even now he can’t guarantee that another breach of a tailings pond won’t happen because only some of the risk factors can be eliminated.

“We didn’t eliminate enough of the risk and we have to figure out, and we are figuring out, how to eliminate the rest of that risk,” he said of the Aug. 4, 2014 accident.

About 24 millions cubic metres of waste spilled into area waterways, causing an environmental disaster.”

“The provincial government has spent $6 million on the cleanup, and Imperial Metals was granted conditional approval to reopen last month, although it still needs further permits before it can operate fully.

Bennett said water and sediment testing will have to continue for decades.”

Yes… you read that right… decades. And why? Because maybe profit was more important than safety,than heeding the warnings,than doing the right thing?

What a difference a year makes to the comments of those with the power to make change. But where will Bill Bennett,Christy Clark and Mary Polak  be decades from now,when all this testing is still going on?

Will they even remember Mount Polley?

Now watch this. One year later. Mount Polley. Because this matters to all of us.

https://ricochet.media/en/539/a-crime-scene-mount-polley-one-year-after-mining-disaster

Backposts:

http://lailayuile.com/2014/08/06/one-tough-question-for-the-bc-government/

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/laila-yule/mount-polley-water_b_5660882.htm

http://lailayuile.com/2014/08/29/our-posterity-will-wonder-about-our-ignorance-of-things-so-plain-seneca/

http://lailayuile.com/2014/08/17/been-to-hell-alexandra-morton-on-mount-polley-visit/isit/

Posted in BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Politics, crime, Federal politics, Laila Yuile, The China Connection, The Environment | 13 Comments

Summer catch-up: Last two columns for 24Hrs Vancouver.

Yes, I know…. but there is only so much summer and not enough time to get it all done. And considering I generally dedicate about 10 months of the year to politics, summer is a welcome reprieve.

So, as this weeks column comes out later today, here are the links to the last two!

Last week:

http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2015/07/29/monster-homes-shadow-richmond-council

A headline caught my eye, but not because of the heated language used by a civic politician — it was the resurrection the mega-homes issue in Richmond.

By no means is this a new issue, nor is it limited to one city. As has happened in other communities, when the issue is left ignored or unresolved, emotions and resentment fester. The resulting rift doesn’t build communities, it builds walls.

At the heart of the matter are complaints from many residents that the massive homes are not in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood, and they are built so close and so large to property lines the sun is often blocked in neighbouring yards.

Richmond is a city surrounded by dikes and because basements aren’t possible, mega-homes are built up in addition to out — often to three-storeys high.

In an attempt to resolve growing discontent and complaints from the homeowners who feel increasingly hemmed in, council was to vote on an amendment to the residential zoning bylaws in June.

Citing the need for more public consultation, the majority of councillors opted to postpone the vote and separate public forums were scheduled — one for the general public, and one intended for builders and developers.

In light of my recent column on how residents across Metro Vancouver feel developers have too much influence on city governments, that developers were given their own forum is interesting in itself.

After considering public input, all but two council members voted in favour of a new set of bylaws on Monday, intended to reduce the size of mega-homes but ultimately giving builders the concessions they wanted.

It was then that Coun. Carol Day called the process and bylaw “half-assed,” partly because council ignored the advice and recommendations of their own city planners on how best to amend the bylaws…. READ the rest at the above link.

 

And the week prior:

http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2015/07/22/vancouver-lacks-vision-for-campaign-finance-reform

In last week’s column, I called again for a ban on corporate and union donations after readers across the region shared that they felt big campaign contributions have too much influence at city hall.

Following that column, I was advised that Carr already had a motion on notice that would significantly reform financing and spending in Vancouver elections.

In response to the inadequate changes recommended by the provincial report on spending limits for municipal campaigns, Carr’s motion called not only for limits on spending, but a ban on corporate, union and out-of province or country contributions as well.

In addition, her motion asked that elector organizations be required to release annual income and expense disclosure forms, including donor lists in the years between elections. This could shed some light on the aptly named “dark money” that comes into civic parties in between reporting periods.

These are all great changes and in a TV interview prior to the council vote, Carr expressed hope that the motion would pass.

Council has expressed that they are in favour of such reform, but they clearly don’t agree enough to make it happen.

Instead of voting in favour of her motion as is, Coun. Andrea Reimer presented a motion to refer the issue back to committee, which was supported by council with only three votes opposed.

This move has city watchdogs alarmed…. READ the rest at the above link.

 

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“The art of being happy,lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things…” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

It was the kind of summer day dreams are made of… no schedules,no destination in mind,just loading up a picnic and taking off with no expectations.

The highway led us towards Squamish, a natural and instinctual response to the calling of the mountains and the sea, the road not too crowded but still full of people looking far more stressed out than they should be for a long weekend in summer.

Until we came up behind a large head of a beast being towed on a trailer…

2015-08-02 001Debate ensued… was it a bear? Or a cougar? And who made this and what was it for?

As we passed by, the driver who had obviously seen the camera out the window  yelled: “Hope you got a good shot!”,smiled,waved and everyone laughed. (Passenger taken photo)

How often do you see something like that going down the road?

We ended up seeing this parked outside the grounds of the Loggers Sport Show in Squamish, but the driver was no where in sight so the mystery remains- unless someone out there can share some insight!

Finding every inch of Porteau Cove covered in people soaking in the sun, we simply moved onto finding something else fun to do – although, I did have a really great conversation with a charming senior who was re-visiting the area after a long absence. I won’t forget the look on her face as she looked out over the water and mountains, arms open to embrace the sun and sea air, as she exclaimed: “There just aren’t words good enough to describe how beautiful this really is.”

Heading into town, we discovered plenty of fun at this challenging, 18 hole mini-golf we discovered at an RV park ! (I thought I knew everything about Squamish since we hang out there enough, but we missed this!)

Shaded for the most part, and with that lovely wind coming in off Howe Sound, old time music playing over the speakers sometimes lead to dancing between the holes. Pink balls and purple clubs? All the more fun!

Rolling with it and being open to whatever happens or doesn’t happen, makes life so much more enjoyable. And it was later on the way home that the best part of the day arrived.

Stopping to stretch our legs and enjoy the breathtaking view, we saw a car parked in the bus zone with its doors open,the driver sitting on a blanket in front with a variety of glitter, paints and glue in front of him. He was just sitting and humming, with a bag of Mcdonalds beside him,chilling out at the viewpoint.

But like a siren calls to sailors on the sea, the car was calling too…. loudly… to all visitors walking by, although none stopped despite being clearly curious.

Walking over,my jaw dropped in reaction to the sight before my eyes – I can honestly say I’ve never seen a car like this before! Click on the first photo to scroll through in full screen,so you can really get the essence of this rolling artwork

Every single space inside this car, including the truck and engine, is covered and lovingly adorned. Meticulously covered in paint designs and dots, glitter, glued on toys, photos of the owner, photos of his heroes.

Small toys, beads and Swarovski crystals  adorn the steering wheel and the sun sparkled off the surfaces not unlike a sun-catcher hanging in your kitchen window, leaving prisms of colour dappling everything in sight.

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And we talked.

Buddy Theodore Bear aka Buddy Bear aka Buddy ‘Teddy’ Bear  is clearly a man living his life on his own terms and quite happy to continue doing so. His skin is burnished golden brown like leather, no shoes covered the worn and dirty soles of his feet and the deep smile lines and wrinkles at the corner of his eyes revealed he likely smiles heartily more often than not.

Buddy shared a lot of stories as he shared his love for his car with us,turning on the interior LED track lights. Stories of eating nothing but McDonalds for the last six years and trying to get approved to raise money for Ronald Mcdonalds house and charity. Of being a groomsman at one of his three ex-wives re-marriage and of being married three times. Of taking time and hanging out and just talking to people,which he clearly loves to do.

Now I don’t know anything about Buddy other than what came up in these moments – he’s just a fellow and his car  we saw sitting at a rest stop on the side of the Sea to Sky highway – nor do I even know if all his stories are real….but I do know this.

He loves his car.

And while many would call this labour of love crazy or nuts or downright stupid…it makes him happy. And it makes other people happy too because it’s impossible not to smile when you see this thing. It made me smile. Talking to him, having him share a bit of his life with us was a gift. And that’s all that matters.

They say that happiness is something so little understood, that it’s often mistaken for insanity. And there is more than a little truth in that I think. I think Buddy has a lot more stories waiting for people to listen to. And I hope to run into him again sometime to hear some more.

Oh and the stuffy he is holding?  Her name is Emily. Emily… Car(r). She’s kind of like his artistic mascot for the car… She goes everywhere with him.

There were a lot of people at that rest-stop, gawking at his car, clearly wanting to see it better but holding back for whatever reason. And if one of them was you,I’m really sorry you missed a chance to have a little conversation with someone outside your box who had so much happiness to share.

If you ever end up reading this Buddy, thanks for spending some time talking and sharing your passion. It was, without a doubt, a highlight of our day. :)

The worlds an amazing place, full of interesting people and I can’t help but be reminded of a quote I saw plastered on someones facebook wall once from Greys Anatomy:

” So stop for a second.

Enjoy the beauty. Feel the magic.
Drink it in. Cause it won’t last forever.
The romance will fade. Things will happen.
People will change. Love will die.

But, maybe not today. “

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“It’s not what you look at that matters…it’s what you see.” ~ Henry David Thoreau.

Driving along the gravel road to a pristine mountain lake last weekend, the sound of the white water rushing in the river that ran alongside, was as welcome as any cold cocktail on a hot summer afternoon.

The clear water ran fast and frothy,tumbling over rocks and between giant boulders that looked like they were perfectly placed by some ancient giant hand until reaching deeper pools and eddies. These deeper pools took on an emerald hue, crystal clear and so inviting for fishers and weary hot hikers alike. If you knew the way of fish, you would also know that those dark pools were the preferred spot for salmon and trout to rest in between travelling the light rapids upstream and where, with a deft flick of wrist,an experienced fly-fisher could land dinner.

Opening the door of the truck, I was welcomed by ripe huckleberries growing right beside the gravel lot. Similar to a blueberry but much more intense in taste,I popped them into my mouth, savouring the pop and sudden rush of flavour on my tongue. The air was fresh and smelled… green, alive, unadulterated. Closing my eyes momentarily as we walked the path to the lake, I held my hand out to run fingertips across the ends of hemlock boughs, connecting with all that was around me. And with every step the stress, the baggage, the weight of my modern world left me in bits and pieces, evaporating into the forest around me, leaving me feeling free and new again…

I‘ve written often over the years about the connection I feel with the land around me and nearly just as much about all the things that threaten it.

Even on this trip the shock of seeing a new clear-cut and a rough logging road cut into the steep slopes was a jarring sight not only because the extreme terrain makes logging there costly, but also that it banked right up next to a provincial park. I’m not opposed to logging-my family has all worked in the forest industry-but forest practices and timber management have come under criticism often enough that it’s a concern for the future.

We enjoy the places less traveled to re-connect with the inner core of ourselves that is inherently called to nature, but on our way, we see many others leaving the cities in droves to find what connection they can.Even in Squamish and Whistler  you can see many dressed to the nines, snapping selfies in front of mountains,lakes and yes… bears… just so they can go home and tell their friends they did.

Well, perhaps that’s better than nothing. I’ve always believed that the only way to get people to understand and value what we have, is to build that connection to it. For those who have never lived outside of Metro Vancouver- or outside of most larger cities for that matter- it’s an undiscovered world. Places like the Peace River, where generations of land owners and First Nations have lived, farmed, hunted and gathered. I ask you to visit the area to be flooded, to stand and simply behold how incredible it really is… and then tell me you think it doesn’t matter.

More people than ever are paying companies to take them out camping,hiking hunting for food… on wild expeditions to experience what so many British Columbians simply call life. They are seeking not just adventure,but a feeling I think,of belonging. Of being a part of something bigger, of feeling how it is to know that nature can make you, or break you.

I know that feeling and it’s what calls me back to the forests and mountains when I’ve had enough of the galling joke we call politics in this province. Nature is the greatest equalizer, it grounds me, humbles me and leaves me in awe of her power and beauty. And in British Columbia, we have so much to be thankful for- YES, we really do- and we have to ensure those entrusted with the management of our natural areas, and our resources, are doing the best they can.

As I log off to enjoy my BC day weekend, and wish you the best for yours, I leave you with an excerpt from an older post. Consider and reflect, wherever you are in this province we  now celebrate.

 “Now that I have lived on the coast for so many years, the sea and the soil here is my heart as well. We can’t turn our back on our agricultural needs any more than we can our roots. The soil here in the Fraser River delta is so rich in silt, in sediment carried down from our mountains, from decaying wild salmon that just laid eggs in a stream not adulterated by Independent power Projects blocking their way…

This circle of life both urban and rural British Columbians rely on, is who we are as a people. It connects north and south like blood when we enjoy our baby greens in  fancy restaurants in the West End…  and when we harvest our moose in the north to fill our freezer.

Herein lies the challenge.

Do the people down here in the lower mainland consider what the impact is of salmon never reaching their spawning grounds? Do they know what it means to find moose and deer riddled with tumours, inedible, because the ticks now over winter due to higher winter temperatures?That the sickness of those moose and deer has an impact on the food chain that trickles down to levels we might not even understand yet?

Do they know that smell in spring that tells you to start harvesting fiddleheads? Do they know the feeling of being such a small part of the universe that seeing the northern lights every night, and hearing coyote packs killing their dinner at dusk gives you?

That was, and is, my British Columbia.

Even now, in my urban, suburban home, I can smell the rain coming and where it comes from. I eat lettuce, now,grown and harvested mere miles from my home that tastes worlds  apart from the imports. We embrace the rain, pick berries on the dykes, and know how precious it all is to us.We love the Canucks, even when they lose. I spent 6 hours on BC ferries to see The Tragically Hip sing Bobcaygeon ahead of schedule courtesy of a crew member on Vancouver Island.

I’ve  been broke. I’ve been flush. I’ve seen BC from top to bottom and there isn’t much I  wouldn’t endorse to anyone else looking to visit.

I think fighting for B.C is worth it. The greater good is bigger than any political agenda.

I’m not saying it is going to be easy… but I am saying it is going to be worth it.

The future is yours if you rise to the challenge. The only question is… will you?”

This is my BC. I’d love for you to share with all of us, photos of yours.

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“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

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