More questions raised about Site C construction compliance with provincial and federal fisheries/water regulations

Despite a number of unresolved and ongoing court cases challenging Site C, preliminary construction is underway and moving at a rapid pace. ( Remember Clarks vow to get it past the point of no return)

New questions are again being raised by several visitors to the area,on whether contractors are in compliance with provincial and federal regulations with respect to that ongoing construction.

BC Hydro is in possession of a number of provincial and federal authorizations with respect to working around the waterways in the area,including not only the Peace River but the Moberly and other side tributaries. https://www.sitecproject.com/document-library/permits-and-authorizations

Those authorizations are very specific to what can and can’t occur when working around waterways and BC Hydro’s contractors actions have already been called into question once last year by Ken and Arlene Boon – both named in the suit initiated by BC Hydro  against campers at Rocky Mountain Fort site. You can read about those violations and how that was handled – or not- by BC Hydro. http://theecoreport.com/environmental-degradation-at-site-c/

These photos show what appear to be a number of potential violations. Buoys without a light on top or signage – these same buoys were also recently photographed and posted to social media, as free floating down the river.

The photos taken also show dirt being dumped and placed into the river, sediment flowing clearly in the water stream and no visible mitigation efforts in place to prevent it-visitors to the area were concerned these could be potential violations of the conditions of the federal DFO guidelines that are designed to protect and mitigate harm to fish and fish habitat.

These guidelines are cited in both provincial and federal authorizations as a condition of approval. ( see Erosion & Sediment Control, Operation of Machinery ) http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/pnw-ppe/measures-mesures/index-eng.html

This is the Federal authorization: https://www.sitecproject.com/sites/default/files/Fisheries%20Act%20Authorization.pdf

Page 32 of BC Hydro’s own Construction Management Plan also indicates sediment mitigation efforts that must be in place, including a condition that in stream work must be isolated from flowing water,except where allowed by the Environmental monitor. https://www.sitecproject.com/sites/default/files/Construction%20Environmental%20Management%20Plan.pdf

It is also worthy to note their own construction management plan was just recently revised on February 4th, 2016.

Calls to DFO and the provincial Habitat officer had not been returned at the time of this posting. Click on any photo to see full size and scroll through.

Part two of this post, will be out shortly,pending completion of research. I have created a new page accessible at the top of this blog, that I will be posting all Site C posts and link to in chronological order, for easy reference.

And if you haven’t, check out my most recent post on why Premier Clark should act now to prevent another fiasco like Newfoundlands Muskrat Falls dam project

 http://lailayuile.com/2016/02/08/muskrat-falls-fiasco-provides-example-for-british-columbians-of-potential-future-of-site-c-why-premier-clark-must-send-project-to-bc-utilities-commission-independent-review/

 

 

“Deception and privileged secrets are common facets of politics.” – Transparency & accountability on Site C lost at both provincial & federal levels.

There’s a common thread among many of the biggest and best stories I’ve covered here: lack of government accountability and transparency.  I recall contacting a BC government ministries media contact for a comment on a story I was doing once, only to get a clear denial back refuting everything. I sent him the internal documents that had been passed onto me from a company that engineered the project, contradicting his statements and others that even went into depth explaining all of it.

He stuck to the governments line. Didn’t exist, no such thing, And that’s happened more than a few times. It’s hard not to be completely cynical in the face of story after story, scandal after scandal and still see the same old politicians smiling through it all.

The fact is that most governments rely heavily on the disinterest or distractions of it’s citizens to continue to operate without scrutiny into their activities – a lack of attention from voters actually enables bad government. Most of us are so busy just living life, raising families, working 9-5 and if you are lucky enough to relax a bit here and there even better- who wants to wade into politics?!

Its often not until people start to find out what is happening right under their noses that they start asking questions and sometimes it’s too late. But it’s not too late with Site C, the contentious project to flood another portion of the Peace River Valley is underway with logging and a work camp in place.

Over the past two weeks I’ve been covering the events as they unfolded after BC Hydro posted a 24 hour eviction notice at the camp on New Years Eve. BC Hydro has yet to evict the campers, who are a combination of mainly women but a few men, who are members of Treaty 8 exercising their right to be on Treaty 8 land. They are supported by locals who are also opposed to the dam,some of whom who will lose land, or homes, and others who have been longtime critics.

It’s been interesting to see voters reactions to some of the items I’ve posted, in particular the post in which I refute Energy Minister Bill Bennetts statements on Global TV, that the province conducted 7 years of due diligence. It’s a prime example of what they don’t tell you being more important than what they do tell you.

Let’s talk about that again for a moment in the context of public trust. When you are an elected official, the voters have essentially said: “We have chosen you to represent us,and we trust you will act in good faith.”  But the reaction by many to hearing that the BC government had exempted a 9 billion dollar + project from the proper regulatory review, was complete and utter shock. No, it was not well known and because it happened 6 years ago, it’s not widely come up in most stories on SiteC.

I still feel strongly the province failed the public trust by not allowing the BC Utilities Commission to do it’s job. Not only that, I say this government is failing it’s inherent fiduciary duty to voters as well in even contemplating such a project knowing full well the state of BC Hydro’s finances: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Hydro+paid+most+dividends+using+borrowed+cash/10723965/story.html

“BC Hydro has borrowed most of the billions of dollars in dividends it has been forced to pay the provincial government over the last two decades.

The cash-strapped Crown corporation has been locked into returning a share of its profits to the provincial treasury based on an old formula that was increasingly unaffordable, said Energy Minister Bill Bennett.

~Snip~

The Crown energy corporation has paid $5.4 billion in dividend payments since 1992, of which 60 per cent was borrowed money, energy ministry data shows.

The government uses the Hydro money to reduce what it has to borrow for its other provincial capital projects, such as highways, schools and hospitals.

Bennett said it’s an unsustainable practice that he’s committed to change in 2018 — a year after the next provincial election.

Critics, including B.C.’s auditor-general, have long accused the provincial government of being addicted to Hydro’s annual cash windfall, and have warned that Hydro is racking up debt and deferring costs in order to meet government’s financial expectations.

But neither government nor Hydro has previously admitted the extent to which Hydro has borrowed money to meet its provincial demands.

Others have accused the province of over-milking Hydro’s profits, which pushed the corporation to hike consumers’ electricity rates to afford its continued operations. Hydro rates are set to rise 28 per cent over the next five years.

Former auditor-general John Doyle noted Hydro has simply deferred costs into future years, which “creates the appearance of profitability where none actually existed”

Interestingly enough, this first came up when I was contacted by a Chetwynd resident recently,asking where all the money went from BC Hydro. I sent her both the above link, and this one: http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/op-ed/comment-debt-subterfuge-will-cost-b-c-hydro-ratepayers-1.2092192

Ratepayers in B.C. can expect dramatic electricity-rate increases for years to come.

Those rate increases will be needed to pay off B.C. Hydro’s soaring long-term debt and other costs the company has shunted to future ratepayers to make itself seem profitable and offset the impact of its spending on current customers.

Meanwhile, residential ratepayers — who have been cutting back on electricity consumption in recent years — will consume less, yet pay more each month.

B.C. Hydro has increasingly issued debt to finance its activities, with the company’s long-term debt having increased from $6.8 billion in 2004 to $16.7 billion last year — an increase of 146 per cent. The amount spent each year in interest payments alone has increased 35 per cent since 2004 and now amounts to $685 million, up from $507 million.

It’s all a shell game.To many financial analysts it’s a recipe for all intents and purposes, bankruptcy. The province is fully aware of this, the premier is aware of this and for damn sure Bill Bennett is aware of this since he claims he’s going to fix it all…. after the next election: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-hydro-preps-for-rate-review/article26556170/

The B.C. Liberal government, no fan of the independent B.C. Utilities Commission, has pushed aside the regulator of Hydro rates to suit its political needs since 2012 – conveniently, before the last provincial election. And the cabinet has approved billions of dollars’ worth of pet projects without the regulator’s scrutiny.

~snip~

Mr. Bennett is adamant that government should determine energy policy, and he is likely to exclude another two major projects from a regulatory review before this year is out. Although a public consultation is still in process, Mr. Bennett is very much leaning toward bypassing the commission again, to fast-track a pair of transmission lines that would bring electric power to natural gas operations in the province’s northeast.

But there is opposition, on the grounds that ratepayers will have to pick up the tab at some point for all these government-driven decisions. Critics – chiefly ratepayers – argue the best way to ensure that Hydro is spending only what it needs, is to let the independent regulator do its job as the watchdog.

The BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre has been calling for the commission’s role to be restored for that reason. Now the group is taking advantage of the rate structure review to propose new relief for low-income residents who make up about 11 per cent of Hydro’s residential customers. BC Hydro’s residential electricity rates have increased by 47 per cent over the past decade, they argue, while social assistance rates and the minimum wage have been almost frozen.

The group is just one of the stakeholders that will be lining up to try to influence the shape the coming rate increases. They know there is a reckoning due for all the years of government tinkering and “rate smoothing.”

Mr. Bennett says he has a 10-year plan to keep rates low, but there is undeniably upward pressure. The Crown corporation’s capital plan calls for spending $2.4-billion each year for the next 10 years. Because rates haven’t kept up with Hydro’s real revenue requirements, the corporation has been amassing debt in what it calls “deferral accounts” – those accounts will reach more than $5-billion by 2018. At the same time, demand for Hydro power is falling short of its forecasts, and the cost of producing energy is climbing

That someone like me, has to sit here and piece these bits and pieces together to show you what your elected officials will not, is appalling. Alone, these articles were perhaps surprising,but not many read them.Together, a year later matched with other pieces of information, a worrisome look at what happens when no ones watching.

BC Hydro has been borrowing money, to pay the government dividends, which the government uses to fund its pet projects, among other things. The debt at BC Hydro is mounting, the government has blatantly exempted several BC Hydro projects from review by the regulatory agency responsible and plans to exempt more.

The BC Utilities Commission is essentially the only check and balance taxpayers have to ensure there is some control over what BC Hydro and government get up to. But because government doesn’t like have any control asserted over it’s decisions, it often stops the BC Utilities Commission from doing it’s job.

But don’t worry. Government has got it all handled…

It’s bad enough that so much is kept hidden, or never mentioned or that our Energy Minister, knowing all of this full well, would go on Global and state 7 years of due diligence has been done ( Still a lie in my opinion).

But not only that, they put bids out and  finalized contracts while there are three court cases pending from First Nations  in the province.

With yesterdays news that the BC Supreme court  ruled the BC government had failed to consult properly with First Nations on the Enbridge proposal, one wonders how this will impact the court cases involving Site C.

The province now finds itself in a tenuous position, stuck between a legal rock and a hard place…appeal the BC Supreme court decision on Enbridge  which implies the province feels they did consult First Nations and sends a defiant message to Coastal First Nations… or don’t appeal and have a standing ruling that may be used as a helpful precedent in the Site C cases.

And speaking of being stuck between rocks and hard places, Justin Trudeau and his cabinet are in a similar position with regards to Site C.

As Trudeau mentioned last year, he plans to develop a new relationship with First Nations across the country: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/justin-trudeau-afn-indigenous-aboriginal-people-1.3354747

“It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations peoples, one that understands that the constitutionally guaranteed rights of First Nations in Canada are not an inconvenience but rather a sacred obligation,” said Trudeau to loud applause from First Nations chiefs this morning.

~Snip~

Where measures are found to be in conflict with your rights, where they are inconsistent with the principles of good governance, or where they simply make no public policy sense, we will rescind them,” said Trudeau.

Good to know. Because both First Nations and critics opposed to Site C are calling on  Trudeau to reveal the reasons for approving the Site C Environmental certificates, that the Harper cabinet invoked secrecy on – a practice used far too often by the Harper government – and honour the treaty. http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/Opinion+First+Nations+oppose+Site/11647693/story.html

 

There can be no doubt left, that this is all wrong.It needs to be halted. And the spotlight will continue to shine on both  Premier Clark and Prime Minister Trudeau: Halt construction, honour the Treaty and send this project to the BC Utilities Commission for a full review.

 

BACKPOSTS/HISTORY:

1) BC Hydro issues eviction notice under cover of  New Years Eve http://lailayuile.com/2016/01/02/bc-hydro-issues-rocky-mountain-fort-campers-at-site-c-a-24-hour-eviction-notice-on-new-years-eve/

2) A litmus test for ‘Real Change’ : where is Justin Trudeau on Site C? Why isn’t new federal government investigating why Harper invoked cabinet secrecy on Site C decison? http://lailayuile.com/2016/01/04/the-litmus-test-for-real-change-where-is-prime-minister-justin-trudeau-on-sitec/

3) ( photos of demonstration here)  Separate demonstration at Site C BC Hydro gates results in three arrests, including Arthur Hadland- long time former Peace River politician http://lailayuile.com/2016/01/06/longtime-peace-river-politician-and-site-c-opponent-arthur-hadland-arrested-at-site-c-demonstration-today

4)  UBCIC issues press release one day after Treaty 8 does, asking BC Hydro to stand down.  http://lailayuile.com/2016/01/07/first-nations-prepare-for-arrest-to-stop-site-c-dam-ask-prime-minister-to-suspend-federal-approval/

5) Debunking Energy Minister Bill Bennetts misleading statment on Global BC http://lailayuile.com/2016/01/08/cutting-through-the-spin-of-energy-minister-bill-bennetts-statements-on-global-bc-news/

6) Powerful and compelling words from a Treaty 8 elder : http://lailayuile.com/2016/01/11/powerful-and-compelling-words-from-treaty-8-elders-at-rocky-mountain-fort-campbut-is-anyone-in-government-listening/

**The most telling comments from Bennett came in this Globe and Mail article from a while back. The last two paragraphs, are alarming.
bennettSiteC

Cutting through the spin of Energy Minister Bill Bennett’s misleading statement on Global BC News.

Sitting down with a cup of tea before bed last night, I watched a bit of TV, flipping through the channels before settling on the 10 pm news on Global BC 1. Early on, a segment came up on the arrests at the Site C demonstration outside the BC Hydro gates, and a brief mention of the Treaty 8 campers at the heritage Rocky Mountain Fort Site.

Next thing you know, a gruff Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy & Mines is onscreen talking about Site C.
This was his statement:

” We’re a duly elected government that took seven years to do our due diligence, to determine that this was the best way to acquire new electricity at the lowest price, clean electricity , uh, that is with Site C. We made that decision,uh, we’re going to have to get this project built on time,otherwise it will go over budget.”

It starts at the 1:06 mark  at this video segment, but do watch the entire clip – the energy lawyer at the end say this could still all go sideways : http://globalnews.ca/video/2441396/site-c-controversy

After so many years of writing this blog, or during the years I wrote the debate column in 24Hours Vancouver, the stuff that comes out of politicians mouths really shouldn’t surprise me anymore, but yet, it still does. I guess it’s just the optimist in me that still believes people who are elected should stand with a bit more integrity than this.

My outrage simmering again despite the vanilla chai tea,  I took to social media to quickly share why his statement- unquestioned- was just so outrageous:

And off to bed I went, firmly resolved to blog again in the morning.

Honestly Bill, just because you said it, doesn’t make it true. But of course for many politicians truth is highly subjective.

The truth is that in 2010, under former premier Gordon Campbell, the BC government made sure Site C and many other energy projects,would never face the scrutiny of the public or the BC Utilities Commission. Andrew Nikiforuk sums it up so well, right here:

Bypassing the public’s watchdog

Given the huge cost to taxpayers and so powerful arguments against it, such a project deserves to be adjudicated by an impartial body with the public interest as its mission. That would be the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC).

The specific public mandate of the BCUC is “to ensure that ratepayers receive safe, reliable, and non-discriminatory energy services at fair rates from the utilities it regulates.” The only time the BCUC vetted the Site C project was back in 1983, and it rejected it.

This time around, the B.C. government excluded the project for any such due diligence, explaining “only duly elected officials have a right to make” such monumental decisions and not regulatory bodies specifically designed to provide checks and balances on political decision-making.

Economist Marvin Shaffer told The Tyee that “In my view, the government didn’t want the BCUC to review the merits and in particular the timing of Site C because it could well have been rejected by the Commission.”

“Virtually every ratepayer group including large power users and the wide range of general (commercial) users as well as the Public Interest Advocacy Centre would argue against building Site C at this time,” added Shaffer, a professor at Simon Fraser’s School of Public Policy.

Long story short, if this government doesn’t like the rules of the game, they change them. And we will all pay the price if the federal government does not see fit to intervene and pull approval :

Panel warns of ratepayer hit

But even a 2014 joint federal and provincial environmental assessment panel couldn’t find any real need for the project. Their 473-page study dramatically concluded that the BC Hydro had “not fully demonstrated the need for the project on the timetable set forth… For a number of reasons set out in the text, the Panel cannot conclude that the power of Site C is needed on the schedule presented.”

The panel pointed out that in most places around the world, energy intensive liquified natural gas (LNG) terminals usually provide their own energy needs by burning natural gas. In addition the dam wouldn’t be generating power till 2024 or several years after most proposed terminals were to be built.

As a result the panel recommended that the BC Utilities Commission conduct a thorough review of the project as well as future provincial electrical needs and societal costs if the government decided to proceed with Site C.

The panel also made many other key points. For example, it concluded that a number of energy alternatives such as geothermal were “competitive with Site C on a standard financial analysis” but found the province hadn’t carefully explored the option.

The panel also noted that “a failure to pursue research over the last 30 years into B.C.’s geothermal resources has left BC Hydro without information about a resource that BC Hydro thinks may offer up to 700 megawatts of firm, economic power with low environmental costs.”

The panel added that the province’s Clean Energy Act gave the province and BC Hydro the mandate to investigate these matters.

The federal assessment also questioned the high cost of the project and the risks for ratepayers: “BC Hydro projects losing $800 million [from the dam] in the first four years of operation. These losses would come home to B.C. ratepayers in one way or another.”

There are outstanding court cases involving Treaty 8 members, who are currently exercising their rights at Rocky Mountain Fort camp, one of the oldest and most historic sites in the province, trying to prevent it from being logged. Rich in history for First Nations and non-indigenous people, history is again being made right now at that site. http://blogs.theprovince.com/2016/01/07/sarah-cox-with-site-c-protest-history-is-again-being-made-at-the-rocky-mountain-fort/  ( a must read, even I had no idea of the history of this site. )

But still, Bill says, we must move ahead and build this dam ( we don’t need) or it will be over budget. ( which history shows is likely to double by the end of construction http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-03-10/large-dams-cost-double-original-budget-oxford-researchers-say)

Why?

It is a legacy project, pure and simple. They knew it would not be approved by the independent review of the BCUC. They did nothing to pursue the alternatives suggested the first time it was rejected. And then they changed the rules, when the rules didn’t work in their favour.

This is not about good policy. It’s not even about clean energy anymore.  It’s about being able to say ” We built the largest infrastructure project BC has ever seen.”

 

 

BACKPOSTS/HISTORY:

1) BC Hydro issues eviction notice under cover of  New Years Eve http://lailayuile.com/2016/01/02/bc-hydro-issues-rocky-mountain-fort-campers-at-site-c-a-24-hour-eviction-notice-on-new-years-eve/

2) A litmus test for ‘Real Change’ : where is Justin Trudeau on Site C? Why isn’t new federal government investigating why Harper invoked cabinet secrecy on Site C decison? http://lailayuile.com/2016/01/04/the-litmus-test-for-real-change-where-is-prime-minister-justin-trudeau-on-sitec/

3) ( photos of demonstration here)  Separate demonstration at Site C BC Hydro gates results in three arrests, including Arthur Hadland- long time former Peace River politician http://lailayuile.com/2016/01/06/longtime-peace-river-politician-and-site-c-opponent-arthur-hadland-arrested-at-site-c-demonstration-today

4)  UBCIC issues press release one day after Treaty 8 does, asking BC Hydro to stand down.  http://lailayuile.com/2016/01/07/first-nations-prepare-for-arrest-to-stop-site-c-dam-ask-prime-minister-to-suspend-federal-approval/

**The most telling comments from Bennett came in this Globe and Mail article from a while back. The last two paragraphs, are alarming.

bennettSiteC

 

*Update Jan.8th-First Nations prepare for arrest to stop Site C dam, ask Prime Minister to suspend Federal approval

UPDATED January 8th-2016 – new release by Grand Chief Stewart Philip 

NEWS RELEASE
January 8th, 2016

UBCIC Calls on BC Hydro to Back off from Peaceful Site C Protestors in Treaty 8 Territory

(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C.- January 8th, 2016) The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is denouncing BC Hydro’s deliberately provocative and reckless attempts at fast tracking construction on the proposed Site C project despite the legal uncertainty of the project moving forward.

Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land have been camped out at the historic Rocky Mountain Fort Camp since late December to defend their traditional territory in the face of the proposed $9 billion Site C dam, which would flood 107 kilometers of the Peace River and its tributaries. Local landowners have also joined in the fight.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of UBCIC, stated, “We are absolutely outraged that BC Hydro is working at the proposed dam site when critical court proceedings are in motion and a decision on Site C proceeding has yet to be determined. Yesterday, BC Hydro moved equipment in toward the camp, despite publicly saying they are speaking with Site C dam protestors and local authorities to try to peacefully end the standoff. The RCMP made three arrests at the north bank entrance of the project yesterday morning including a former regional district director. We are deeply concerned that BC Hydro’s actions are increasing tensions on the ground.”

Through formal resolutions, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs fully supports the efforts of Treaty 8 First Nations to ensure that their Aboriginal and Treaty Rights are honoured and preserved.

Grand Chief Phillip concluded “We continue to urge the provincial and federal governments to immediately cease proceeding with the proposed Site C dam project until such time as the Site C court proceedings are complete and the Site C Dam proposal is properly reviewed by the BC Utilities Commission. Further provocations on the part of BC Hydro will only serve to escalate tensions in an already volatile situation.”

For further information, contact:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
President, Union of BC Indian Chiefs
Phone: (250) 490-5314

January 7th,2016

http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/first-nations-prepare-for-arrest-to-stop-site-c-dam-564495361.html

Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land call on Trudeau to stop megadam in B.C.’s Peace Valley

ROCKY MOUNTAIN FORT CAMP, BC, Jan. 7, 2016 /CNW/ – First Nations members camped out at an historic fort site slated for destruction by the Site C dam say they are prepared to face arrest to protect their traditional territory.

Joined by local landowners, Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land say they will not permit BC Hydro to proceed with plans to clear-cut forests around the Rocky Mountain Fort site on the west side of the Moberly River. The site, selected by explorer Alexander Mackenzie, was the first trading post in mainland B.C. and is situated in the traditional territory of Treaty 8 First Nations.

The $9 billion Site C dam would flood 107-kilometres of the scenic Peace River and its tributaries, including the traditional hunting and fishing grounds of Treaty 8 First Nations. In late December, despite three on-going First Nations court cases against the dam, BC Hydro built a bridge across the mouth of the Moberly River in preparation for logging in the proposed reservoir area.

In addition to its legal, economic, political and archaeological significance to indigenous and non-indigenous people, the camp is the gateway to the rest of the threatened Peace Valley. BC Hydro has served notice that the camp must be dismantled.

“Logging and flooding this part of the Peace Valley will irreversibly harm our ability to hunt, fish, trap and exercise other constitutionally-protected Treaty Rights, especially since much of the rest of Treaty 8 Territory has been devastated by other hydro-electric, oil and gas and industrial developments,” said Art Napoleon, “To have any meaning, these treaty rights require a land base and waterways where there are wildlife and fish, and which is capable of supporting a diversity of plant life. Treaty rights also include management level decision-making to protect moose calving grounds, medicine harvesting and berry picking, and spiritual practices – all of which will be obliterated by Site C.”

A delegation of First Nations chiefs told Prime Minister Trudeau’s key Cabinet members in December that suspending federal approval of the Site C dam is a critical litmus test of his government’s promised new relationship with Indigenous Peoples.

“The Prime Minister says that Canada’s most important relationship is with its Indigenous Peoples and that he promises to uphold and respect Treaty Rights,” said Helen Knott, “This is what we are trying to do at a grassroots level.  I speak as Great Great Granddaughter of Chief Bigfoot, the last to sign Treaty 8 in 1911, and I am trying to honour my Grandfather’s original intent and uphold those rights he meant to protect.  I ask Prime Minister Trudeau to also honour that original intent.”

“We applaud the court cases being brought by West Moberly, Prophet River and others, but they take time to wind their way through the courts.  Meanwhile, before the court cases are even heard, BC Hydro is destroying the very valley that these court cases are intended to protect.  The way I see it, they are stealing from future generations, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.  We are not here just for us but for the ones that will come after us,” said Helen Knott. “As individual Treaty 8 First Nation members, we cannot stand by. Do I want to be arrested? No, I am here peacefully doing what I believe is right and needed but this land is a part of who I am and I will take a stand for it. Prime Minister Trudeau can stop BC Hydro from destroying the Peace Valley. Until he does, we will”.

SOURCE Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land

For further information: Helen Knott, Prophet River First Nation member and Treaty 8 Steward of the Land, at (250) 280 2277; Art Napoleon, Saulteau First Nations member and Treaty 8 Steward of the Land, at (250) 818 5626

 

BACKPOSTS/HISTORY:

1) BC Hydro issues eviction notice under cover of  New Years Eve http://lailayuile.com/2016/01/02/bc-hydro-issues-rocky-mountain-fort-campers-at-site-c-a-24-hour-eviction-notice-on-new-years-eve/

2) A litmus test for ‘Real Change’ : where is Justin Trudeau on Site C? Why isn’t new federal government investigating why Harper invoked cabinet secrecy on Site C decison? http://lailayuile.com/2016/01/04/the-litmus-test-for-real-change-where-is-prime-minister-justin-trudeau-on-sitec/

3) ( photos of demonstration here)  Separate demonstration at Site C BC Hydro gates results in three arrests, including Arthur Hadland- long time former Peace River politician http://lailayuile.com/2016/01/06/longtime-peace-river-politician-and-site-c-opponent-arthur-hadland-arrested-at-site-c-demonstration-today

 

Longtime Peace River politician and Site C opponent, Arthur Hadland arrested at Site C demonstration today

***Updated with demonstration photos below. 

Today, those opposed to Site C held a demonstration outside BC Hydro gates. Arthur Hadland was arrested and I’ll have more details as I get them later on.

http://www.alaskahighwaynews.ca/regional-news/site-c/former-prrd-director-hadland-arrested-at-site-c-protest-1.2145055

This is the view of the traffic backed up from that demonstration, largely Alberta vehicles with trailers.

IMG-20160106-01139

This is not the location of the Rocky Mountain Fort Camp where Treaty 8 members are exercising their right to be on the land. http://lailayuile.com/2016/01/02/bc-hydro-issues-rocky-mountain-fort-campers-at-site-c-a-24-hour-eviction-notice-on-new-years-eve/

As reported earlier, that location is a 1793 heritage site the province has had no interest in protecting, that is scheduled to be logged. It is being reported that BC Hydro is evaluating the situation but campers vow to continue to exercise rights under Treaty 8 to be there. http://www.alaskahighwaynews.ca/regional-news/site-c/bc-hydro-evaluating-options-on-protest-encampment-1.2144933

These are three of the campers at that site-hope to have a story shortly on one in particular:

camperssitec

And this is another, Helen, the woman behind the post that resonated with thousands of Indigenous and non-indigenous people across North America: https://reclaimthewarrior.wordpress.com/2016/01/02/for-the-love-of-the-land-keeping-the-peace-river-from-the-site-c-bc-hydro-dam/

helen

Updates later. Shawnigan Lake also had a big demonstration today,very well attended, media tours of the contaminated fill site but I wasn’t able to attend- watch for those stories too.

But until then, check out these storified tweets. There’s a story here. And it’s not being told. BC residents deserve to know why Harpers cabinet invoke cabinet secrecy on the environmental assessment certificates. So why isn’t the new PM investigating this?  https://storify.com/lailayuile/why

BC Hydro issues Rocky Mountain Fort Campers at Site C, a 24 Hour Eviction notice – on New Years Eve.

Rocky Mountain Fort site eviction notice

 

There’s a lot about this incredible province I know about, and still so much to learn. And in the Peace River region much of that will be lost forever if the project continues. Places like Rocky Mountain Fort, the oldest fur trade post in British Columbia that dates back to 1793 are going to be flooded.

Since mid December, campers have been set up at the site of the historic trading post and they don’t intend to leave. It is located on Crown land aka public land. A survival trailer was brought into the site and Treaty 8 First Nations have been staying along with other locals fighting to stop the construction of the dam.

The site is not just significant to the trading history of the region, but to local First Nations as well – the entire valley is a wealth of cultural and archaeological treasures,not that the province has been very interested in marking it. There’s very little to tell anyone where or how to get to the site and the province has shown no interest in protecting it – of course. Long story short, this site is scheduled to be logged this week, and on New Years Eve, when the world was celebrating or relaxing, a rather unofficial looking eviction notice was posted – the first photo at the top of this blog post.

A photo of that notice quickly made its way to me and I immediately posted it to Twitter,including BC Hydro’s twitter account in that tweet. How typical for any kind of action like this to be done in a cowardly manner, under cover of a major distraction, with 24 hours notice of intention to remove. Not unlike how government often unloads terrible news late on a Friday afternoon – particularly on long weekends, because three days is all it takes for people to forget and the media to move on.

But I digress.

The note was posted and quickly shared. And there was no eviction New Years Day, but security did show up and stop campers from going onto a bridge moved into the area to facilitate their work camp. They also gave the campers verbal notice, but Treaty 8 campers posted No Trespassing signs of their own.

I spoke with one of the campers who is only there this time for a few days, and she told me she was going to do a blog post on her experience there, and why this matters. When she sent it to me, I felt her words and pain truly as my own. I know what this area is like… was like before all this began. It hurts to look at these before and after photos. It’s just all wrong.  And it hurt me to read many of this courageous,brilliantly talented young woman’s words just the same:

“You remember that story that the elder told us? Down the way where the Pe1014188_10151512297076627_1280210942_nace River meets the Halfway River?” I asked her, referring to the camp we had over three years ago.

The camp was about reclaiming our right as young Indigenous people to be in our territory, in this Peace River Valley, tucked far into the North East corner of British Columbia. We did not want the proposed Site C Hydro Dam then, we do not want it now.

“No I don’t remember,” Emily replied.

We stood on the soft snow on our way back to camp. We had just put a sign up to notify Hydro workers that this was Treaty 8 Territory and they were trespassing.

“He told us about how when he was young he remembers camping somewhere while they were travelling by horse. At night they heard weeping coming from the forest around them and they didn’t know who it was,” I said, as I stopped to watch snow gently fall from the branches of a nearby spruce tree.

“He said that when they went back to that spot again, maybe a year or so later, that forest was gone. It had been cleared for a road. It was the forest crying because it knew what was coming.”

Emily nodded her head, “The forest is alive”.sunrise

“Yeah. Yeah it is.” I echoed her words.

We had just left where BC Hydro started to clear on the West side of the Moberly River. We walked over to the crude bridge that they had built to cross the frozen river with their equipment. I had to see it up close for my own eyes and I had to lay an offering of tobacco for the land, for its suffering and loss.

I know a lot of people don’t understand what all the fuss is about. It’s a dam, we need it, it’s clean energy after all, all you green tree huggers ought to love that, right?  No.

Because it’s not just wrong for all these very right reasons – this land is truly one of the most beautiful, wild and free places left. The Peace river has even been designated a Heritage river under the BC Parks and Conservation own website- which apparently, means absolutely nothing. Looks good on the BC government website, but not good enough to prevent flooding more of the valley.

heritageriver

It’s wrong because there is no need for this dam. It’s wrong because it’s being rammed through despite a very long list of opponents who have asked the province to stand down and send it to the BC Utilities Commission for the review it never had. Even the BC Union of Municipalities – representatives from every city in the province- called for a halt. But Victoria has deaf ears and eyes that are wide shut.

The Liberal government was so intent on pushing this project through,it exempted it from review from the BC Utilities Commission,the agency deemed with reviewing all projects to ensure they are in the best interests of Hydro ratepayers and the province:

bennettSiteCYet while Site C was exempted… the overdue repairs to the WAC Bennett dam still has to go through that oversight process, and rightly so,despite the blatant hypocrisy. 

 

I leave everyone at the bridge,and walk into the lost forest. .The tears are welling up in my eyes, I see, I feel how real this is and I am filled with a great sorrow. It is a sorrow your spirit feels, and a part of me wants to break down and sob into the earth. Let my tears mix with the soil. But a part of me says that doing so is acceptance of what they are doing, and what they are doing must stop.

~snip~

…as I talk, I watch the shock of the Native Lone Rangers face and he moves slowly behind the White man.

I don’t know if that shock is that I am there or that he feels that he is on the wrong sidehonour treatyand wants to hide. I feel sad for him, because I know that work is work and it puts food on the tables of our people. But for how long? Until the job lasts and then what? Our children and great grandchildren will feel the ramifications of these actions. I think of my Asu’s (grandma) words about how the Dreamers spoke about hard times to come and how he feels sorry for us that will be alive. What if that is preventable to some measure? This is not just about us and hydro and being right or wrong… it’s about the future we are stealing for those who come after us.

How deeply this resonated with me, I can’t say. I know all of my long time readers will recognize that feeling, that same sorrow and sentiment in so many things I’ve written.That connection to the land, the need to do things right because sometimes we only get one chance…

As of this blog post, the campers have still not been evicted. More signs have been posted stating no cutting allowed – hope to have more of those shortly. And as I write, I can’t help but think of the similarities between this and Shawnigan Lake, a story I’ll be writing about next week.

I can’t help but wonder whose backyard will be the next target when someone in Victoria wants to leave a legacy. Who will stand up for you, and with you, then?

securityonbridge

2015 ends with a bang… so it’s time for the Top ten posts of 2015, from LailaYuile.com

partylights (4)

For us here down on the southern West Coast, we’re shaking off 2015 with gusto, thanks to a short but rather violent jolting earthquake last night. Or was that the sound of Premier Clarks LNG Dream bubble bursting?

Ah well, 2015  has been a really interesting year for politics, for people and for the blog!

According to official WordPress stats, there were 94 new posts in 2015, bringing the total archive of this blog to 1,185 posts!! And that’s down from prior years, thanks to a busier than usual schedule and my former 24 Hours column.

Once again, the power of social media wins again with the top two referrers to my blog consistently listed as Facebook and Twitter. Some repeatedly like to say Twitter is for ‘Twits’ but sadly that’s just not true. It’s still a powerful forum for sharing links and information- well used it’s a valuable tool and savvy influencers know it.

stats

The top 10 posts of 2015

  1. Why exactly, is the Mars Bomber sitting idle?   39 comments- While the province burned,questions as to why the contract with the Mars Bomber wasn’t in use, led to a public campaign to get it back in the  air – and it worked.
  2. 100 + reasons the BC Liberals must go  244 comments – a long time favourite- watch for a massive update in 2016 as the never ending list of scandals under the Clark government continues to face a loss of public trust in her leadership
  3. 50 shades of wrong: Why the BC Liberal government has lost all moral authority to govern #resignChristy   44 comments – following the tragic suicide of Rod MacIsaac, it was revealed the government had misled not only the fired health workers, but the public and RCMP. I and others, called for Clarks resignation,asked voters to demand answers from their MLA’s and said this government had lost its moral authority to govern.
  4. Why I am ( still) voting No in the Transit Tax Vote   106 comments – I believe in good transit but I independently campaigned a No vote- and that didn’t go over well with fellow progressives!
  5. Who’s the Scrooge at Real Canadian Superstore?  106 comments – this post still hits home as food prices increase and Superstore faces ongoing accusations of trying to prevent card holders from redeeming points – something that even happened to me, more than once!
  6. It’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news  60 comments – an inspirational call to citizens to get engaged in their communities, and see how politics directly impacts their lives. Well shared and received across Canada.
  7. Sometimes losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding the truth II  40 comments –  Despite the incredible relationship with my readers at 24Hours Vancouver and years of developing that, I left this year, to protest PostMedias death of its own papers by a million little cuts. The story behind that.
  8. “Every absurdity has a champion to defend it.” ~ Oliver Goldsmith aka “The day politicians closed a bridge to do yoga.”  42 comments –  Sigh. All this scenery and the premier wants to close a bridge for yoga fo what seemed like a prime photo op for Lululemon,while an international event was staged nearby.
  9. BC Hydro says halting Site C would cost taxpayers $500 million? Not building it at all will save us over $8 billion dollars.  50 comments – we didn’t need Site C years ago and we don’t need it now. So why is it being pushed through despite not having been reviewed by the BC Utilities Commission? Because what Clark wants, Clark gets. Even if it makes no economic or environmental sense.
  10. Complicit… or incompetent? Questions continue to pile up for the premier who continues to ignore them all 27 comments – The premier continues to face questions,most recently for the hiring of Laura Miller who has now stepped down following charges related to a deleted records scandal in the Ontario government. But even before that, the premier was dodging questions and giving glib denials of everything and anything that’s gone wrong under her watch.

Who were my most opinionated readers?

commenters

2016 promises to be busier than ever as here in BC  political parties are already in campaign mode : The Liberals have been handing out cash at photo-ops like crazy in past weeks and the NDP are in full opposition mode – for once.

Federally Trudeau will be shortly on the hot seat as the silly season of Christmas and New Years passes and reality hits.

I’ll be back into the full swing of  things the first week of January with a post on the late Christmas gift given to the Clark government: The settlement of two lawsuits initiated by the fired health care workers. Non-disclosure anyone? Will we ever know the full details of the governments horrendous and callous actions that led one man to take his life? Somehow, I don’t think so.

We’ll also take a look at the Shawnigan Lake contaminated soil site and the truck parking proposal in South Surrey – both contentious and somewhat related for the manner in which residents concerns and objections have been completely ignored.

It’s been a blast and I’m very happy that so many readers from 24Hours follow along here now, on Twitter and Facebook. We’ve shared personal moments, struggles, challenges and successes – and I appreciate them all.

What these stats, my twitter analytics and the tremendous success of these stories in travelling far and wide tells everyone, is that this is a team effort. All of you, are the biggest force behind this blog, and these stories.

One cannot succeed, or make a difference the way we can, without  doing it together,particularly as an independent blogger and commentator. 2016 brings another chance to try and get it all right again. Thank you so much for being a part of it.

Happy New Years!

From: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2014/12/new-years-wishes-and-gifts.html  I couldn’t say it better myself. <3

neilgaiman

 

 

 

Let’s talk about priorities, and doing what needs to be done now, not at next years budget.

The BC Liberal government just announced this: $100 million dollar fund to boost B.C’s tech sector 

tech

 

 

 

 

And this: Government leads the way with $50 million for health research
terrylake

 

 

 

 

 

Yet even having acknowledged that the Ministry of Children and Family Development has been starved for resources for years-YEARS-and a stated need for at least $50 million to hire and train new staff….

This is the governments response:

Cadieux said she’ll study the report for the next few months and has asked Plecas to remain with the ministry to help implement the recommendations and provide a six-month update.

She promised no immediate specific funding, saying that is a matter for the budget, to be tabled in February.

Now let me say this. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been saying the same things Bob Plecas has said in this new report, for years. ( this link is from October 2014. Nothing was done.Think about that.)

So have others.

It’s not a surprise to anyone,least of all this government that something has needed to be done for far too long. They have chosen to ignore those prior recommendations and with every single tragic death pledge again and again, to ‘examine the issues and find out what went wrong.” It’s one show of concern after another with absolutely zero results. Kind of like the Highway of Tears #MMIW recommendations.

How many children and youth deaths does it have to take for some action? It’s just not right to wait until February to make a firm commitment to get that money out, when $150 million was just handed out like an election was happening tomorrow. 

But I get it. Those kids in care don’t vote.  And they sure as heck don’t make for a good smiley photo opportunity for anyone in this government.

Just for once, please, do the right thing, right now. Because we don’t want to see even one more tragic story appear in a list that grows longer every year. 

 

 

There are some investments you can’t afford not to make…so why aren’t our governments doing so?

I woke up early this morning as usual, and sat down with my coffee to catch up on the news. And sadly, this was the first thing I saw:

Danny Francis takes own life while in ministry care, roommate says: Body of 18-year-old Danny Francis found yesterday in Port Alberni

Alex Gervais, Nick Lang, Paige…and countless more.While increasingly friends and family of these kids are coming forward to bravely share their heartbreaking stories,how many more do we never hear of?

Throughout all of the investigations and reports that inevitably result, there is a common thread that can be seen and it is never addressed. The failures go beyond a ministry of children and families so overloaded with the increasing demands of not only kids at risk,but the vast numbers of children and teens facing mental health challenges.

MCFD doesn’t just deal with kids in  foster care, they deal with a myriad of complex issues and services.Children with different disabilities and their families go through MCFD as do many kids suffering from mental health challenges – the wait list can be long. And all of these different areas are suffering because of a long time lack of investment in families and children on a variety of fronts.

Quite frankly,it’s a failure of not only our government, but a commentary on our society for allowing this to continue and this is why.

It is well known and documented that an investment in our children,our youth and families is an investment we can’t afford not to make. It is a direct investment as a province, and  in our collective future. When families and children cannot get the services and support they desperately need, they fall through the cracks and often begin a downward spiral that costs society and government far more than addressing the issues would have in the first place.

Take a look at the criminal justice system. Last Monday I took the bus route in Surrey that goes by the court-house, at around 10:30-10:45. Locally that bus is referred to as the court run,for good reason. When people who were arrested and held in custody over the weekend get their Monday morning hearings, many take this bus to get back to Newton exchange. And last Monday the number of young men getting on the bus at the court-house, filled it completely. Some were already stoned. One guy had a portion of his head shaved and sported some nasty stitches in a fresh would behind his ear. All were Caucasian that Monday.

It makes for interesting conversation,to say the least. Repeat young offenders. Petty crime after petty crime that if not turned around is going to lead to harder,more serious offences,more serious addiction and or death. And in Surrey the issues youth face are tremendous – but how did they go from being a young toddler to sitting on bus post court hearing?

How much does all of this cost us, as a society and a government? In policing, in court hours,in parole, in prison time? In hospital care for those with untreated mental health issues? In the inevitable costs of homelessness for many.

It all adds up. And what we fail to spend on sound investments in children and families from day one, we pay much more for down the road. There are a plethora of papers and reports documenting this with facts and figures. This one prepared by the World Bank, makes it very clear it is an investment no government should fail to make. This is a global issue and we are no different here in BC.  http://social.un.org/youthyear/docs/youth-smart-investment.pdf

Countries should make children and youth part of the national investment strategies and provide sufficient resources. The accumulation of human and social capital must start at a young age as the brain develops rapidly during early childhood and adolescence. Moreover, early cognitive and non-cognitive skills and health capabilities lead to enhanced effectiveness of later investment. As a result, by building a strong foundation, investing in programmes tailored to children and youth advances socio-economic development. Failing to invest in children and youth triggers substantial economic, social, and political costs resulting from negative outcomes such as early school drop-out, poor labor market entry, risky sexual behaviors, substance abuse, and crime and violence.

This one,from the Mental Health Commission of Canada, shares startling facts on the numbers and costs of failing to address this issue in youth,families and adults:

http://strategy.mentalhealthcommission.ca/pdf/case-for-investment-en.pdf

mentalhealth

There are more reports out there, but we don’t need them. We need action.

We need investment and I mean real investment- not just a few dollars tossed here in there for the sake of a photo opp. Long term plans. We are the only province still without a poverty reduction plan – appalling. We  are still suffering the impacts of deep cuts made under former premier Gordon Campbell, after he slashed BC’s personal income taxes by 25%. Yes, it was 25% .

Those cuts sounded great…but came with a social and economic cost the province has never recovered from. A 25% cut to any revenue source is unimaginable…and without an avenue to replace it, it resulted in sweeping cuts to programs across the board,many of which I documented here. http://lailayuile.com/100-reasons-the-bc-liberals-must-go/

While the province has tried to make up for the loss of revenue via increased MSP premiums, user fees, along with raiding ICBC coffers and more recently Legal Aid funds, it hasn’t been nearly enough. Resource revenue is dwindling. Houston, we have a problem and it could have been avoided.

Sadly, it is our most vulnerable that have paid the price and it is steep. Combine this with what seems to be an increasing disconnect and loss of a sense of community for many in our modern world and it’s every man woman or child for themselves.It needs solid provincial action and investment/partnerships with our federal government.

Kids like Paige,like Danny, like Alex… they paid the ultimate price. And I am so sorry we failed them. And that we will continue to fail even more unless government and community priorities are drastically changed. And yes, we have to pay for it somehow,but let’s do that now instead of later. Instead of having more kids take their lives because they see no other way out.

What we need is leadership, non-partisan and hard discussion on things like progressive tax changes, instead of ordering school districts to cut their already bare bones budgets as a remedy! School is a front line capture point for helping these kids at an early age!But that isn’t happening. While government defends its actions, the line of Families First is rarely heard anymore. And rightly so, as this all demonstrates.

Every citizen,corporate and private has to step up to build something better for our collective future. But I still don’t see that happening under our current government or in many segments of our society who think very little of kids in foster care or how and why they got there. Of helping those in poverty or those facing challenges.

And I wonder, how many kids have to keep falling through cracks that are no longer cracks but chasms, before these discussions and changes are made?

*a must read, that came out Friday evening.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/peter-lang/an-open-letter-to-premier-christy-clark-and-minister-stephanie-cadieux-about-mcf/10153759721592790

So about that favour BC is doing the world with clean BC LNG replacing all that ‘dirty coal’….

As we all know, Canadian politicians are over in Paris talking all things climate change. How to reduce emissions, carbon tax, clean energy…etc etc.

All good and fine. Clark has been very clear in her desire to have clean BC LNG save the world from air pollution created by dirty thermal coal used to heat homes, cook and power plants in Asia and elsewhere.

This was her stance in August 2014:

http://lailayuile.com/2014/08/30/the-world-according-to-christy-clark-keep-your-ibuprofen-handy/

This was her stance November 2015:

http://bc.ctvnews.ca/christy-clark-says-b-c-s-lng-plants-will-do-the-world-a-clean-air-favour-1.1541305

Nothing has changed. BC will do the world a clean air favour to kick coal, and get on LNG.

Except this little bit of news came out yesterday,rather ironically since the Premier has been chatting up the world about replacing coal.

Surrey coal terminal gets new green light from port

A revised proposal to build a new coal export terminal on the Fraser River in Surrey has received approval from Port Metro Vancouver.

The port authority on Monday issued an amended project permit to Fraser Surrey Docks that approves the company’s altered plan to load coal directly onto ocean-going ships, rather than first barging coal to a transfer site at Texada Island as originally planned.

The terminal would bring up to four million tonnes per year of U.S. thermal coal by rail through White Rock, South Surrey and Delta, adding one extra coal train per day.

It’s kind of hard to save the world from ‘dirty coal’ with BC LNG… when you are exporting 4 million tonnes of thermal coal,mostly to Asia.

Did anyone mention that in Paris? No? Hmmm.

Will the province be announcing that we will no longer export US thermal coal to Asia in order to back up the claim of doing the world a favour?

Or will the province hope the world doesn’t notice that while we are speaking clean energy out of one side of our mouth, we are heralding the jobs created by exporting ‘dirty’ coal out of the other side?

All you need to do is follow the money….through Surrey Fraser docks, to the ships that will carry the coal to Asia,to the very familiar name that stands to profit immensely from all of it.  

And while you are following that money, follow these $$$ signs too,because if the Fraser Surrey Docks proposal does not stand up under the current challenges, you know exactly where all that coal will be going…. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/vancouver-magnate-bets-on-coal-exports-westshore-terminals/article27522884/