” When someone shows you who they are, believe them. The first time.” ~ Maya Angelou

The sun feels luscious and warm today, that low angle of the sun cuts the intensity and gives me the same kind of feeling waking up on late on Sunday morning in a pile of warm pillows does. But walking into the shade under the giant maple, that feeling disappears quickly and it feels cool the second the sun no longer makes contact with my skin. Kicking through a layer of crispy orange leaves,the slightly resinous, sweet-sour scent of fall fills my nostrils suddenly and I breathe deeply, hair falling back as I tip my face up to a sky so blue it hurts my eyes …

It’s a heady, sensory bounty…the wine like fragrance of  dripping blackberries fermenting on the vine, mingles with the earthy umami scent of a constellation of mushrooms that popped up across the lawn. The trees shed their chlorophyll laden green hues to reveal the true colours they kept hidden all year in a riotous display of reds,yellows and orange….I love it, and spend as much time outside as I can. Winter is coming.

I wonder what else autumn has in store for us, deep into this election season. The leaves aren’t the only thing showing their true colours this fall. In the lead up to and through the incredible climate strikes of last Friday, I’ve seen masks fall among some who I thought were progressive. I have seen grown men and women attack Greta Thunberg, the youth and anyone else marching with spitting vitriol. And I have watched how Canadian politicians reacted to the hundreds of thousands of people marching across Canada.

Some were excited.

More were concerned. And I’m certain even more felt fear.

There is nothing more disconcerting to any political party right now than an angry, motivated electorate realizing we all need to change… particularly if they stay motivated. This is why Justin Trudeau suddenly started spewing promises like they are going to plant a billion trees…

Oh puhlease. Dude, you bought a pipeline. Sit down.

Did he not learn from Clark being mocked for her claims of a trillion dollar LNG windfall?  Or Horgan who doubled down on LNG, promising billions for British Columbia? 

It was because of how Horgan defended LNG that led me to post this on facebook Friday, after the climate march photos started coming in. And because it really gets to the heart of the issue, I’m reposting it here:

“I cant help but wonder what John Horgan is thinking today, seeing the massive show of climate strikers across the country, right as the UBCM passed resolutions to ask the federal and provincial governments to stop subsidizing fossil fuels.

Why?

Because Premier John Horgan once made a statement – in the midst of the fires that followed the floods of 2018 – that left me wondering how great of a priority he thinks climate change really is.

In a press conference, Horgan stated how concerned he was…..and during the scrum a reporter asked Horgan a very compelling question.

His answer was stunning, for all the wrong reasons.

” From flood to fire to flood and then again to fire,” he said. “And we have had two states of emergency. That’s unprecedented.”

“That speaks to the changing environment we live in and the ravages of climate change.”

When asked how the province can justify supporting a proposed LNG energy project and simultaneously try to curb greenhouse gas emissions, Horgan said B.C. is just 4.5 million people sharing a planet with seven billion others.

“We have to be realistic about what our impacts would be,” he said. “

From :

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-wildfires-2018-1.4792952)

That one statement stayed with me. I’ve written  about it a few times because that is not the attitude needed to combat climate change.

That is a big part of the attitude that got us to where we are now and perhaps explains so much of why the BC NDP abandoned so many of their old plans for solar and wind expansion, and carried on with site c.

We hear Horgan praise the youth, say we have to put aside our differences and make solutions, all while actively pushing gas well expansion he knows is in opposition to his placating words. He speaks of wealth for British Columbians, but whose wealth is he referring to exactly? The corporations laughing as they use their royalty credits?

Worse yet, against the NDP’s own report which says independent science cant even confirm that fracking is safe for the environment...( forget humans, the NDP exempted the review from examining any impact on human health.)

Keep up sustained efforts to make change my friends. Because it’s a problem when the politicians who got us into this mess, suddenly start pretending they are going to give us solutions to the problems they created when trying to get elected again.

The Union of BC Municipalities resolution to push our provincial and federal governments to stop the subsidies to fossil fuel companies will have lasting power here in BC, with a provincial election in 2 years.

The timing is excellent. Nothing worries politicians trying to get elected more than an engaged, protesting public…I don’t see this movement dwindling.  But what will Horgan do? Will he listen to the UBCM? Will he stop the massive subsidies to gas producers?

Of course he won’t. Nor will Trudeau. Or Scheer.

In BC, lng & natural gas subsidies are so massive that we lose billions in revenue to the province because of the credits used by resource corporations. If they are going to let them take our resources, they should at least make them pay for it and put the funds toward climate mitigation efforts.

We also hear tremendous whining from pro oil and gas supporters about tax credits and grants for green energy, for EV’s etc. “Corporate welfare” they cry….” If it’s so great why do they give incentives to get people to do it?”

But those same naysayers turn around and quickly justify the subsidies and tax credits given to gas and oil producers as a necessity to doing business in BC to be competitive in a market with a glut of LNG flowing from everywhere but here.

 

The changes the ndp made since coming into power, now means almost 99% of gas producers qualify for credits they really don’t deserve or need.

 

There is a better way. Don’t buy their greenwash that LNG will help China get off coal…China is very busy funding and selling their coal power plants to developing countries eager for cheap power. They have signed deals and have access to more than enough LNG.

Its time to turn the tables and change the way this game is played my friends.

 

Push for better. “

There really isn’t much more to say. A recent release from the BC govt shows our emissions have only dropped less than 1 % between 2007 and 2017. That’s not feeling good when I see the government urging us all to change while making allowances for industry to continue.

We have a long way to go in a society consumed with consumerism, wealth and privilege on one side, with a growing gap as poverty creeps up into a middle class treading water in an increasingly unaffordable province.

Greta Thunberg is right. Change is coming whether you like it or not. Even the most right wing oil workers can see something needs to be done.They too want the best future for their children. And so do  we all.

The hostility comes from fear of the unknown, fear of losing jobs, fear of not being able to feed their families… and these are fears we all have regardless. The attacks come from a fear that Greta, in all her stark,unwavering honesty, will motivate people to change their habits, and motivate people to demand more from the politicians they elected.

Meanwhile the sun is still shining here onto my table. Trudeau and friends are still telling voters we can have a pipeline and LNG and planting a billion trees will make up for it, Scheer is planning an energy corridor across Canada and Horgan insists we can have our LNG cake and eat it too…

Me? I’ll leave you with this, which applies to life sometimes, to love more often than we care to admit, and to election promises too….😉

 

 

 

Why the NDP must walk back the decision to reallocate Rural Community Dividend Funds & inject new funds from contingency to Forest support plan

Having been born and raised in a northern forestry dependent community, I’m still very sensitive to the plight of forest workers across BC. My families been there. My friends have too. Many forestry related jobs are physically demanding, dangerous and thankless…and yet forestry, along with mining, has been the backbone of this province for years. It’s supplied revenue on a number of fronts that allowed this province to grow to what it is today.

Which is why I have been disappointed at how the NDP drove this particular file since taking over in the last election. They were highly critical of the BC Liberals handling of forestry ( rightly so, the Liberal policy is why the forestry industry has been such a mess) and without a doubt, it was well known for years to politicians on both sides of the legislature, that this crisis was coming.

It was known even before the massive fires in recent years burned through swaths of marketable timber all across BC in areas that the pine beetle hadn’t already killed, and in areas replanted.

One would think with forestry being such a big economic driver ( if not the only one)  in many communities, the NDP would have been out of the gate with a plan, but it’s been painfully slow coming.

Now this latest plan seems to have been rushed together, and its clear that communities weren’t consulted because if they had been, the NDP would not have taken the rural dividend funds for 2019, and reallocated them to the forestry communities in the interior of BC without determining the impact of turning down all those applicants from everywhere else.

Those rural dividend funds help small communities across BC, build infrastructure, diversify their economies, and create new initiatives to better serve residents.
Here in the Comox Valley, one well known local initiative was among those denied funds this year because of the reallocation. And in Port McNeil, it was mayor Gaby Wickstrom who initially outed where the funds had been taken from and questioned why only interior communities were eligible. She hopes funds will be reinstated as other small communities hit with challenges struggle to upgrade and diversify.This program has been put to good use in small communities all over BC, including the one I now call home.

I absolutely agree with a transition plan, and in fact called for a faster response to the forestry crisis earlier this year via a dedicated task force in this open letter to John Horgan. 

Yes, these mill dependent communities need funds, but taking funds from the rural dividend program that many other small communities and First Nations in BC rely on to fund community projects, is not the way to do it.

Small communities have extremely limited revenue sources and helping one sector should never involve punishing another that is also vital to rural communities that aren’t forestry driven. This isn’t equitable, and it isn’t right.

Ndp partisans have been defending this move now “because you can’t criticize the NDP for trying to fix what the Liberals broke” but sadly they aren’t seeing the bigger picture.

Reallocating funds was one the BC Liberals biggest tricks when it came to responding to similar issues when they were in power. Announce something new and great.. then watch people figure out the money was taken from something else, or funded over 10 years, or, or… I could go on but the point is clear.

Just because the BC Liberals created so much havoc in this province, doesn’t mean the NDP are exempt from examination of their failures, or that they get a hall pass ” because the Liberals were worse”

Do better Doug Donaldson. No one expects you to fix this overnight, but we do expect you to do better than using the same old tricks as the Liberals when it comes to finding money. There are funds in contingency. The budget for wildfires was underused. This is a good time to use them. Anything less looks petty and punitive.

 

**I would love to hear from those who have been advised their applications are not being funded this year. What was your project? What impact would it have had on your community?

 

Rainy day thoughts from the island

At long last the rains have returned to my portion of the island – for now at least – and since I am sequestered at home today with a child contagious with either strep or mono, I find myself with a bit of rare time on my hands. Usually I am hesitant to say goodbye to summer, but this year I find the welcome cool nights and shorter days soothing after such a long, drought plagued year.

I have a few things that have been on my mind, so let’s get to it, starting with…

Site C

Over the summer I have received a few sets of photos to update on Site C, but my focus was on a family member  seriously ill in hospital so was unable to post. I thought I would wait until the long over due April-June 2019 Site C quarterly report to the BCUC was issued, but based on what I have seen and been told, that report will require a post of its own.

As many know, work is carrying on at the site with the diversion tunnels and they are beginning to create the foundations for the dam itself. Which is going to be attached to a buttress on the problematic north slope I have visually documented here for years.

The latest pics ( these already found their way to social media but worthy of posting here as well for posterity) again show evidence of water seeping through the north slope. It’s not something that can be hidden in photos- the gravel seams are high in iron, and when water seeps through this material, it picks up the iron which then rusts when exposed to air. These are the orange streaks seen on the banks in the photos below.

North bank wide shot

North bank erosion still evident
BC Hydro is on record as stating the bank is stable and monitored, however the ravine line erosion trench that I reported on earlier this summer, is still evident and likely to increase with fall rains.
Diversion tunnel entrance
This is the entrance to the diversion tunnels the river will flow through to allow dam construction. Water continues to seep along this gravel layer leaving rust stains as evidence of a consistent flow.
north axis of the dam
This is the exact location of where the dam will be attached to the buttress on the north slope. Water is seeping down the face, and pooling where the wall of dam will be situated
Diversion tunnel exit
This is the the exit of the diversion tunnels – the tunnels will divert the river around the dam construction until it is complete and the reservoir is filled. There is again, water seeping through the bank along these gravel seams and appear as rust stains everywhere water has come through.

 

That gravel seam runs the entire length of the north bank, and as I detailed earlier this summer here, acts like a wick, or a drainage channel for water within the bank. Its quite evident that the concrete slurry they are coating the bank with to stop erosion isn’t stopping water from leaching and the heaviest amount of water seepage appears on photo 3, which is the north axis of the actual dam wall itself. There is no way that ‘shotcrete’ will hold up when frost hits, freezes that water and the ice expands in every crack. I also wonder what will happen when the reservoir is filled if the banks slough into the water, exposing the gravel seam underwater. Will it follow the seam along the bank like my french drain takes water out of my yard?

I’ll say this again: Horgan will never stop this dam and one day we will be having an inquiry in BC as to why it was such a boondoggle, like they have with Muskrat Falls. I look forward then, to hearing Horgan explain why he continued like Dwight Ball had to. Continuing to post these updates now, acts as a record  of facts and is the only way we can keep things accountable. It is impossible to maintain costs and the budget under these circumstances. Particularly when I receive emails like this, from a trusted source who has assisted me on stories about other major project, but who disagrees with me on site C:

Hi Laila

Let me start with…I’m not against the Site C project.
However…there are safety issues.
Friends of mine work there.
Workplace accidents large and small are rampant.
Eg….a large haul truck hitting a parked articulating truck/ rock truck/ wiggle wagon.
Cause…. cocaine impairment.
Or…large haul truck dumps load in wrong pile…panics ..then drives with the box UP…and crashes into overhead conveyor belt.
Or.. workers, truck drivers, and excavator are getting hired for top pay… And then sitting around all day because management is disorganized..and can’t get asses into seats…to move dirt.
Good supervisors don’t last…most quit on first shift because of the chaotic management…so then the C- minus guys take over.
So…who is minding the store on the accident trends…and who is overseeing the dollars spent vs production? Will need to sidestep the corporate mantra of ” on time and on budget”
Based on the worksafe portion of the last quarterly report, I’d say his warning is to be heeded. The nature of some of the worksafe issues were boggling (like not having a method of keeping track who was in or out of the tunnels). And did I mention this?
Oh gee. That’s unfortunate timing…read his thread here: https://mobile.twitter.com/INTEGRITYBC/status/1172254738395607040
But let’s move on to…

The curious case of Dock Currie

It’s been a helluva interesting start to the federal election from what little I have seen… Justin Trudeaus media bus hit the Liberal campaign plane ( the irony of it all, since LPC members blame the media for everything ), Scheer’s faux poverty schtick is being fact checked, and the Greens seem to be self immolating… ( not so sure the ‘ not a war room fast response team’ thing is actually helping them)

And then I saw this…. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/second-ndp-candidate-kamloops-riding-steps-down-1.5279583   

The NDP campaign this election seems to be a train wreck and I haven’t paid attention enough to say why I think that might be. It’s sad because they have some exceptional candidates. But when I saw the reason Currie was asked to step down was over an interaction with pro pipeline people in which he said something about wanting to punch one of them, it didn’t surprise me, in fact I wondered why all the other stuff he said and did on twitter wasn’t mentioned.

Anyone who was or has been active on twitter in the #BCpoli stream, particularly during the 2017 provincial election, knows how nasty Curries interactions were with anyone he disagreed with. He attacked site C opponents who didn’t believe Horgan would stop it, allies working to defeat Clark, BC Greens, Green supporters, and I found myself on the receiving end of a very aggressive and vulgar attack once or twice where other twitter users stepped in to intervene. This was not an occasional, flippant instance as the pro pipeline incident is being portrayed, aggressive behavior was routine for him.

Curious as to why all those tweets weren’t mentioned ( or how they just picked those two as the worst), I went to twitter to search specific terms and instances I recalled well ( you can do this without a twitter account) and found most tweets have been scrubbed from his account. In some cases when searching specific terms, the replies to them remain which give an idea of the original content that is now gone, like this one:

 

I asked another user to look who remembered all this as well, with no luck. In fact much of 2016/2017 content is gone.

I don’t think everything one says or tweets should be held against a potential candidate if it is shown to be a rare or exceptional instance ( unless its violent, racist, bigoted). People change, learn and grow as we age and gain more life experience and I do hope Currie has in fact left those days behind, because that kind of interaction has no place in politics, regardless if you are left, right or in between. But when it’s not a rare instance then excusing those actions gives a voice for others to do so with no consequence. That wasn’t passion. That was hostility and there is a vast difference.

Therein lies the lesson for partisans involved in this federal election. Acting like an aggressive jerk on social media pushes people out of the process. You do not need to call names, threaten, be misogynistic or vile to get your point across or debate. It doesn’t help your cause, any cause. Many will disagree with me, but remember how this all looks to average people who aren’t poli geeks. Debate passionately, heartily, factually. Leave the nastiness out of it.

LNG IN BC 

I saw something pass by my feed that made me chuckle today:

I couldn’t have said it better myself.  The article he links to, can be read here and I too am glad to see this calling out of the NDP’s continuance of BC Liberal policy and direction. https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/09/11/analysis/british-columbia-critics-see-push-greenwash-natural-gas

If one had a crystal ball and could see 10 or 15 years down the road, I wonder who will have been standing on the right side of history? Those heavily subsidizing LNG shipments to Asia with ever falling royalties being paid to government coffers ( Norm Farrell has done so much excellent work on the continuing debacle)… or those who advocated, pushed and forged ahead with solar projects? https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2019/07/01/new-solar–battery-price-crushes-fossil-fuels-buries-nuclear/#217992415971

Last but not least I leave you with…

The state of forestry in BC

In one line? It’s a mess. And to be brutally honest it’s been a mess for as long as I have been blogging and probably longer. Those of us who actually followed forest policy when the BC Liberals were in power, remember exactly how nearsighted forest policy was under their leadership, and how long they were warned it wasn’t sustainable.  That’s why anytime I hear or see a BC Liberal MLA trying to grandstand on this issue talking about the NDP have neglected this, I shake my head and cringe.

Not. One. BC Liberal. Has any credibility on this issue, because nearly everyone of them was in power during the time we had in BC to actually create a sustainable plan when the pine beetle crisis first started. I am from the north and I have seen the vast endless swaths of dead trees firsthand. It made me cry the first time I was up by Babine lake when the trees were standing dead, or clear cut where cuts had started. Seriously, Bob Simpson is the most accurate person on this issue in BC, and this letter he penned is factual and accurate. https://www.quesnelobserver.com/opinion/letter-to-the-editor-forest-sector-crisis-could-have-been-planned-for/

So now that we have determined that if you have a Liberal MLA, you need to ask them about Bob’s letter and why they didn’t plan then, let’s talk about the NDP. Why are they continuing on many fronts, to allow unsustainable forest practices to continue, and why, since they have been in power for 2 years now, didn’t they begin to create and utilize a transition place immediately? They knew what was coming, they sat in opposition watching this happen. I blogged about this back in May in an open letter to John Horgan.

I know a lot of people out of work now in BC. It’s not their fault no one in government planned a sustainable future for this. The focus must now be on a transition path to second and third growth industry, and assistance to retrain if needed.

Enough said now, I’ve gone on too long again!

That’s the issue with so much time between posts, I end up having more to say than I anticipate when I start!!  Fall is coming and another group of geese has just gone over to the  salt marsh, honking their arrival in formation. And I think of Mary Olivers poem and how that’s just the perfect end to this post. Enjoy the last of summer or beginning of autumn,depending on where you are. I have a feeling winter will be wicked here on the island this year…

 

Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

20190906_210046

In praise of blackberries this BC Day long weekend

When I was a child growing up in northern BC, summers were short and as much work as they were fun. Life required that one start preparing for the next winter, pretty much right after the last winter finished, and a big part of August was harvesting and freezing/canning fruits,veggies and fish. Huckleberries were my favourite harvest berry growing up, but not the small red kind that grows on the coast and my island home now. No, we picked buckets of large deep blue huckleberries that grew in among the pine trees, berries that when crushed left a deep ruby red stain one couldn’t scrub off. Ever creative and with no access to makeup as a young girl, I remember carefully peeling back the skin and rubbing the ruby juice on my lips to create ” natural lipstick “, posing in the mirror quite happy with the result. ( it’s no surprise that this very unique and rich, deep, berry colour is still my favourite hue)

Fast forward many years to my arrival on the west coast…and the discovery of blackberries…

Imagine my delight to discover mounds of these incredible berries literally growing everywhere…in empty lots, in alleys, hanging along fences. I don’t recall the very first time I ate one, but I imagine it wasn’t much different than my reaction is now, every time I pop one of those lush morsels into my mouth…my eyes close involuntarily as the berry bursts on my tongue, sensory overload as the sweet and sometimes tart juice hits every taste bud….

That was the beginning of a love affair with this beautiful berry that many consider a pest for its overwhelming growth and ability to survive where not much else can. They make beautiful pies,( best served with vanilla bean ice cream), the most delicious jam, are perfect in muffins and of course, straight off the bush as the late Mary Oliver describes so beautifully in her poem above. In fact, blackberries are a good source for many critters, like this bee who landed on this juicy blackberry I had just picked and was about to eat! He took his share then flew off,never once concerned of my presence.

It is without surprise then, that this BC Day long weekend you would find me deep in a blackberry thicket alongside a country road, arms scratched as I reach to fill my bucket so I can freeze this ( free!) bounty for the dark wet days of our island winters. And for the record…blackberry juice works equally well as lip stain..😉

Wherever you are in this incredible province we call home, I hope you are enjoying the simpler things in life. Happy BC Day.