Wednesday, July 31, 2013

FortisBC admits inaccurate maps in Quesnel Gas Leak

On CBC British Columbia's website - they report that FortisBC admits that the contractor doing work in Quesnel that led to a gas leak on Monday did not have access to accurate gas line maps but did follow the right procedures prior to commencing digging work - read more here and here

Meanwhile, in other Quesnel news....

Yesterday - the City of Quesnel announced that the 'John Steyck' lawsuit was being withdrawn.  Read more here.  One of the proponents of the lawsuit, Sylvia Battley, speaks to the Rush why they agreed to withdraw the lawsuit - read here while Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom bemoans the fact that her Council has faced a number of lawsuit during the 2011-14 term and feels strongly that opponents are using the courts to "extend the 2011 Election fight" - read here

I personally regret her choices of words in this regard - as an "outsider", use of the Courts for what appears as legitimate purposes does not, in my opinion, constitute use of the Courts time as "frivolous" as these cases before the Supreme Court where the first time the Court took up these matters.  It would be "frivolous" if the case where the same matter or similar matters.... In the meantime, I hope that we'll all get back to work because I believe that solving disagreements at the local gov't level is always more preferable that in the Courts...

-- SBF

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Campfires banned in Cariboo Fire Centre - Aug 1st

Courtesy of the Government of BC:

Effective at 12 noon on Thursday, Aug. 1, all campfires are banned in all areas of the Cariboo Fire Centre.

A map of the area covered by the campfire ban is available online at:

This step is being taken to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect the public. The fire danger rating is currently high throughout the Cariboo Fire Centre, with scattered pockets of extreme.

With the current trend of warm and dry weather, wildfires in the region have the potential to display aggressive behaviour and require additional fire suppression resources. Human-caused wildfires can divert critical resources and crews from responding to naturally occurring wildfires.

Open burning is prohibited throughout the Cariboo Fire Centre. This prohibition applies to open fires of any size, industrial or backyard burning, fireworks, tiki torches, sky laterns and burning barrels.

This prohibition does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or to portable campfire apparatus with a CSA or ULC rating that uses briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel, as long as the height of the flame is less than 15 centimetres.

The open burning prohibition covers all BC Parks, Crown and private lands, but does not apply within the boundaries of local governments that have forest fire prevention bylaws and are serviced by a fire department. Please check with local governments for any other restrictions before lighting a fire.

Anyone found in violation of an open fire ban, including campfires, may be issued a ticket of up to $345. Anyone who causes a wildfire through arson or recklessness may be fined up to $1 million, spend up to three years in prison and be held accountable for associated firefighting costs.

This prohibition will remain in place until Sept. 30, 2013, or until the public is informed otherwise.

To report a wildfire or noncompliant open burning, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or dial *5555 on a cellphone.

For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit the Wildfire Management Branch website:

For more information:

Greig Bethel

Fire Information Officer

Wildfire Management Branch

Cariboo Fire Centre

250 989-2665

Stecyk Lawsuit dismissed

Editor's Note - I'm glad this lawsuit is now behind and Mayor Sjostrom says -- Let's get back to work improving the needs of Quesnel and that of the Cariboo-Chilcotin region

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel:

The Court Petition brought by a number of residents against Councillors Brisco, Cave, Coleman, Elliott and Roodenburg, and later Mayor Sjostrom, is to now be dismissed by Consent Order. The Court Order that has been consented to by Legal Counsel for the petitioners and the City, provides as follows:

“that such dismissal be for all purposes and to the same force and effect as if judgment dismissing the whole of the Petitioner’s claim in the proceeding had been pronounced at the hearing of this matter upon its merits”.

The case hinged on the legality of the payout of a severance payment to the former City Manager. The petitioners alleged that the payout was illegal. The members of Council maintained that their decisions fell within their mandate as Councillors, and that the payment was specifically considered when the employment contract with the former City Manager was developed. This conclusion of the suit has confirmed that Council acted appropriately.

Mayor Sjostrom commented that “Council is pleased to put this matter to rest. As members of Council we are often called upon to make difficult decisions that may not be well received by everyone. I am proud that the Councillors named in the lawsuit have the courage to make the tough decisions for the good of the City. The Council members named in the suit have agreed to the consent dismissal of the case, because that is the most cost effective solution for our taxpayers. As a Council we need to keep looking ahead. This City and region face some big challenges in the near future, but also some real opportunities. We are encouraging new business developments while we are actively working to improve our community sustainability and livability. There is a lot to be positive about in Quesnel, and we want to move forward.”

'Small Town Love' program comes to 100 Mile House

From Prince George Citizen:

A Quesnel marketing invention is now being used by small towns across the region to keep local money inside the local economy.

A buy-local program called Small Town Love was designed by Quesnel entrepreneur Amy Quarry and tested in Quesnel. According to statistics shared with Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT), the all-local retail catalogue got the buy-in of 50 Quesnel businesses, with all copies sold out in less than four months.

Based on those indications, six new communities will try out the Small Town Love concept with the help of NDIT. The north's independent economic development agency invested $75,000 to build a comprehensive Internet system to go along with the printed guides that will be produced.

The intention, said NDIT spokesman Joel McKay, is to "deliver buy-local campaigns to strengthen local businesses, local competitiveness and keep more dollars in the local economy."

The six communities are 100 Mile House, Burns Lake, Fort St. James, Logan Lake, Valemount and Vanderhoof. NDIT's business development manager Renata King said the six communities were chosen because they each have less than 5,000 people.

"While buy-local campaigns can be self-funded by merchants in communities and cities with populations over 5,000, it is very hard for a high quality initiative to be sustainable with the low numbers of independent business owners in most small towns," she said. "This buy-local program is designed to strengthen businesses in small communities."

Although his hometown is not among the six, NDIT's board chair said everyone stands to benefit if the chosen locations improve their internal economies.

"There is solid evidence that successful buy-local campaigns in smaller communities help the economy thrive," said Evan Saugstad. "We believe this pilot program celebrates and supports the growth of fantastic homegrown businesses throughout the region."

Community leaders from these locations are excited to have the opportunity. For example, Vanderhoof mayor Gerry Thiessen said his town "has many unique, independently owned businesses and this program will help shine a new light on them," while Fort St. James mayor Rob MacDougall said the Small Town Love program would "strengthen the resilience of our local economy."

City of WL receives funds for Storm Water System (Phase 5)

Courtesy of the Government of Canada:

Construction is set to begin on the fifth phase of a project to improve the City of Williams Lake's storm water system. This project, with a total cost of close to $1.2 million, is part of a bigger initiative to improve the water quality of the Williams Lake River. The Government of Canada is contributing over $1 million from the federal Gas Tax Fund, while the City of Williams Lake will provide $170,000.

"Proper storm water management is not only important for local residents, but also for the health of the region's streams, rivers, ponds and lakes. This phase of the project will reduce the flow of pollutants, as well as lessen erosion along the river's banks," said Richard Harris, Member of Parliament for Cariboo—Prince George. "We are proud to invest in infrastructure projects, such as this one, as we focus on creating jobs, promoting growth and building strong, prosperous communities across Canada."

The project will include the construction of an infiltration and detention pond system to reduce the amount of pollutants entering Williams Lake River, as well as minimize erosion resulting from the release of storm water. The new system will improve the aquatic habitat of the river, which is home to several fish species. The project also provides a vital step in bringing the City's storm water system into compliance with the federal Fisheries Act.

"This project would not be able to go ahead without the federal Gas Tax Fund," said Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook. "It will enhance the environment and improve recreational experiences in the River Valley, a jewel of our city."

"It's very good news to see Williams Lake benefit in such a practical way from gas tax funding," said Cariboo—Chilcotin MLA, Donna Barnett, on behalf of the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Coralee Oakes. "This funding will help boost water quality in Williams Lake by ensuring the storm water system is upgraded and environmentally sound."

"This project demonstrates why aging infrastructure is a critical matter for communities," said UBCM President Mary Sjostrom. "I am very pleased to see federal support through the Gas Tax Fund to help improve this core service in Williams Lake."

The federal Gas Tax Fund provides long-term funding to municipalities across the country to build and revitalize their local infrastructure. The Government of Canada has invested over $10 billion to date in municipal infrastructure through this program, and passed legislation to make it a permanent transfer of $2 billion per year. As part of Economic Action Plan 2013, the Government committed to index the Gas Tax Fund to provide additional funding for communities, starting in 2014. Between 2006 and 2014, British Columbia will receive more than $1.56 billion from the Gas Tax Fund to improve local infrastructure. The Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) administers the Gas Tax Fund in BC, in collaboration with Canada and British Columbia.

Review of Prov. Electoral Boundaries

In his column today - Vancouver Sun political columnist Vaughn Palmer looks into an upcoming provincial electoral boundaries review which is mandated after two full general elections (2009 and 2013).  Read more here

Once again - northern residents' will have to fight, like provincial electoral boundary reviews before, to hang on to existing provincial MLA boundaries for areas like Cariboo-Chilcotin and Cariboo-North

Finally - I agree with Mr. Palmer that there is no need for additional seats in the provincial legislature so the challenge becomes how to balance that against the right to voters' to be properly represented in the provincial House

-- SBF

Kamloops Poli News - July 30th edition

1) On July 24th - Kamloops Councillor Donovan Cavers, on Twitter, called the recent hiring by KGMH Ajax of former Kamloops RCMP Yves Lecasse, former Kamloops Daily News editor Robert Koopmans and former Kamloops Councillor John O'Fee as "‪#‎sellsouts‬". Fair comment or another mean-spirited comment by Councillor Cavers? Me: if you dislike Ajax, keep it in the public forum but leave Lecasse, Koopmans and O'Fee out of it. They are not "fair game".  CBC Kamloops looks at this issue here

2) CBC Kamloops looks into the issue of a 'Car Share' program in Kamloops with Kamloops Councillor Arjun Singh.  In my view - a very progressive idea for the City of Kamloops and I would likely take advantage myself... listen here

Kerry Cook on New Prosperity

In today's Vancouver Sun - Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook writes and explains why the City of Williams Lake and that of the Central Cariboo region needs to have 'New Prosperity' approved

Read the op-ed by Mayor Cook here

The one comment I disagree with:

"We continue to build and enhance working relationships with First Nations, recognizing that respectful and enduring relationships with aboriginal communities provide a foundation for constructive dialogue"

Contrast that with a comment Mayor Cook said to the Williams Lake Tribune last week:

“I respect their position and I just hope they respect the city’s position as well.”

I would respectfully suggest that Mayor Cook did not, at the time, appreciate how badly that comment will have been taken by our First Nation communities

Regardless if 'New Prosperity' is approved or not -- I can easily see how First Nations will be upset for months or years by a push by their non-aboriginals neighbours for a project local First Nations can't support for various reasons including cultural and water ones...

Local governments would have been better served by sitting on the sidelines...

-- SBF

Monday, July 29, 2013

Gas Leak in Quesnel

4:19pm update (Mon July 29th) - Highway 97 now re-opened, reports Drive BC.  Downtown area in Quesnel, as per below, still off-limits

4:42pm update (Mon July 29th) - Quesnel Councillor L-A Roodenburg, on Facebook, reports that tonight's Quesnel Council meeting has now been re-scheduled for later on this week.  As soon as I have a date, I'll post the information here

5:27pm update (Mon July 29th) - Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom reports, on Facebook, that tonight's Quesnel Council Meeting has been re-scheduled for Thursday evening at 7pm

This afternoon, the downtown core of Quesnel was shut down due to a damaged gas line.  The precise area is:

"The Downtown area, from the Front Street to Kinchant, East-West, Shepherd to Carson, North-South, is closed down. Neither pedestrians nor cars are allowed in the area"

Highway 97 is shutdown at the 2 Mile Flat area and at the top of Dragon Lake hill until further notice

Finally - tonight's Quesnel Council meeting has been cancelled as a result of this gas leak.  I was looking forward to several items on Quesnel Council's agenda tonight.  No word on when the meeting will be re-scheduled

-- SBF

Week 2 of Fed Review on New Prosperity

With Week 1 of the Federal Review Panel's environmental review of the New Prosperity proposed mine, west of Williams Lake behind us.  The Panel will continues its' 'Topic-Specific' sessions today where it'll consider 'Aquatic Environment' for today and Tuesday, then on Wednesday, it'll consider 'Terrestrial Environment' and on Thursday, it'll consider 'Human Environment' and then the Panel will break until August 6th to start the 'Community Sessions' in the various First Nations communities impacted by 'New Prosperity'

Meanwhile, you can read the various Hearing Documents here

Finally - Taseko Mines has compiled a short video outlining Week 1 of the Federal Environmental Review process which you can view below:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Are Local Governments Producers of Packaging & Printed Paper?

On June 24th - the Union of BC Muncipalities or UBCM notified its' members that the Province & MMBC (Multi-materials BC) that it considers local government to be producers of packaging and printed paper under the under the Recycling Regulation, as they will be distributors of brochures, calendars and other materials that will end up in residential waste streams while UBCM has a legal opinion from Lidstone & Company that contests the view of the Province and MMBC

Frankly - I'm disappointed how the whole issues of recycling and MMBC & local governments has been handled.  Local governments in the Cariboo-Chilcotin have been given until Sept 16th to accept a proposal from MMBC to handle recyclables and the financial incentives that come along with it or local governments would be forced to go it alone.  The first time I heard of this. as an Alternate Director, was at the Cariboo RD June 27th meeting.    Cariboo RD Staff reported at the June 27th that MMBC presented this item on June 7th on a webcast (same day as Cariboo RD Board meeting in Lac La Hache).  Read the staff report here.  MMBC will be presenting to the Cariboo RD Board at its' August 23rd meeting

The Central Cariboo Joint Committee agreed to the proposal on July 10th and the Cariboo RD Board ratified the Joint Committee's recommendation on July 12th.  I understand the North/South Joint Committees will meet to consider MMBC's proposal by the September deadline

I feel that the whole issue was akin to having a 'gun to your head'.  Of course, local governments would jump at the chance to get financial rewards for recycling, but it would have been preferable not to be forced into a decision by way of a short and arbitrary deadline, but a decision that was arrived at after a proper analysis by Staff and a recommendation from Staff to their respective local government.

I suspect all local governments will accept the offer of MMBC as it is better to get a financial reward for recyclables than not

Read more on this item from UBCM here

Friday, July 26, 2013

2012 Crime Severity Index - City of WL

Just a little while ago - Welcome to Williams Lake reports that the City of Williams Lake has issued a media release on the 2012 Crime Severity Index stats from Stats Canada (note - I have yet to see the media release from the City of Williams Lake myself)

According to the City's press release from Welcome to Williams Lake - Crime has decreased overall from 2008-2011 inclusive.  The CSI for 2012 - City of Williams Lake was 241.2 in 2012 while it was 330.5 in 2008.  The City was ranked #3 for overall crime with a population of 10,000+ and #2 in violent crime for a population of 10,000+

While I haven't been able to see the "raw data" for the 2012 CSI - I would suggest that the Central Cariboo region (and not just the City alone) has much work to do to get these results in the right direction but I agree with Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook that more work remains to be done...

Read more here

Quesnel Council meets Monday

With the Boards of Education for School Districts #27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin) and #28 (Quesnel) off until September, Municipal Councils from Wells, 100 Mile House and Williams Lake on break until mid-August and the Cariboo Regional District on break until late August.

Quesnel Council is the only local government to meet next week on Monday, July 29th at 7:00pm in Quesnel Council Chambers (410 Kinchant St)

Items on the Agenda include:

a) Outgoing Director of Public Works Ken Coombs to be presented with a retirement award from Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom

b) Quesnel City Manager Byron Johnson to present the City's 2nd Quarter Report
c) Update on Moffat Bridge Repairs
d) Request to appoint Byron Johnson as Approving Officer for the City of Quesnel
e) Parking Variance request for McDonalds on North Star Rd
f) Request from Lhtako Dene Nation (Red Bluff Band) for Water Services
g) Follow-up re: Enbridge Delegation questions from June 3rd
h) Quesnel Council to discuss UBCM Minister meetings
i) Request from Councillor Thapar to attend 2013 UBCM Conference (as per his 3rd Censure Motion)

Editor's Note - last year, this same request was rejected by a tie vote (3-3).  You can read the blog post I did on that here.  Really tough to say right now which way Quesnel Council will lean.  Personally - I hope they let him go

You can read the full Agenda with the listed items above here

WL Business Facade Prgm

Via City of Williams Lake Facebook page:

The City of Williams Lake’s application to the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) for a $20,000 Business Façade Improvement program grant has been approved by the NDIT. The funds will be delivered through a local Business Façade Improvement Program to improve retail and commercial building facades in the City’s downtown and highway commercial corridor. A primary purpose of the program is to assist in improving the physical appearance and / or functionality of commercial buildings for the betterment of business viability and service to the public.

Downtown revitalization is an important goal area of the City’s Official Community Plan (OCP). The City sincerely appreciates the Northern Trust’s approval of this grant,” says Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook. “This investment will help our City address OCP objectives to help enhance the community as an appealing, interesting, and friendly place to do business, visit, and live.”

By facilitating improvements to business facades, business areas can become more appealing to consumers, thereby increasing the marketability of commercial spaces and assisting business viability and retention.

Existing buildings in the Downtown and Highway Corridor Development Permit Areas of the City of Williams Lake are eligible for the program. Building owners or business owners with written authorization of the property owner can apply to the City for a 50% reimbursement grant up to a maximum of $5,000 for approved façade improvement projects. Examples of eligible improvements include exteriors works such as decorative and architectural details, signage, accessibility and entranceway improvements, and lighting.

The Business Façade Improvement Program application and guidelines are now available on the City’s website at

For more information about funding programs and success stories of the Northern Development Initiative Trust, visit their website at

South Lakeside Dr Update 4

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

The installation of new stormwater works continued this week on South Lakeside Drive, and will continue next week. Work scheduled to be undertaken next week includes the stripping of topsoil on the north side of the road, and the installation of a fire hydrant.

Traffic will continue to be single lane alternating with delays. Traffic control has been enhanced to allow for better traffic flow. The public is asked to be patient when driving in the area of South Lakeside Drive, and to pay close attention to traffic control personnel.

South Lakeside Drive will be repaved from Hodgson Road to the Cariboo Adventist Academy, the merge lane from Hodgson Road will be extended to Pioneer Drive, and a pedestrian/bike lane will be added from Hodgson Road to the Cariboo Adventist Academy. Work on the project is expected to continue through September.

Friday News Wrap - July 26th/13 edition

a) Tolko Industries Ltd starts up $20 million capital investments for its' Soda Creek and Lakeside divisions.  Read here and here.  Meanwhile on Welcome to Williams Lake's Facebook page - some Tolko workers have written lamented the upcoming changes as less workers will be required.  Tolko says workers will not be let go but rather that attrition will be used.  Tolko also says upgrades at Soda Creek will be completed by this November while upgrades at Lakeside will be done by the spring of 2014

b) Quesnel residents' need to conserve water - read here

c) House Fire in Williams Lake this morning on Yorston Street - read here and watch a video from Welcome to Williams Lake here

Day 2 of New Prosperity Topic-Specific Session (Geology/Hydrogeology)

Update - you can listen to audio from Day 1 of the "Topic-Specific" session on 'Geology/Hydrogeology' session here/here

On today's roster for the New Prosperity "Topic-Specific" session of 'Geology/Hydrogeology':

Delegations from 8am - 5pm:

a) Dr. Leslie Smith,Independent Expert
b) Dr. Alexandre Desbarats,Natural Resources Canada
c) Dr. Erik Eberhardt,Independent Expert
d) Dr. John Meech,Share the Cariboo-Chilcotin Resources Society

This will be following up by Taseko giving a response to the earlier delegations, a closing ceremony and adjournment

New Prosperity General Sessions conclude

Update - Listen to audio from Day 4 of the General Public Hearing Session here/here (Morning Session) and here/here (Afternoon Session)

After 4 days of divisive and passionate pleas for and against 'New Prosperity' - the 3 member Federal Review Panel reviewing 'New Prosperity' has concluded its' General Public Hearings and last night commenced the 'Topic-Specific' sessions starting with Geology/Hydrogeology which will wrap up Saturday at 5pm

Meanwhile - yesterday, TNG Tribal Chair Joe Alphonse presented to the Panel and said, in part (courtesy of Taseko Mines):

"We have to bring pride back to our people. We have a long ways to go. We have come a long ways, other communities are probably already there but I don’t come from other communities.” He added that he “believes the process has been manipulated. I’m here to tell you, you watch every more you make from here on in. Everything that’s recorded and every step from here on in I’m here to tell you, you make sure you follow your mandate to a tee. They’re already got their mind made up what they’re going to do with this project (New Prosperity. “

While the Cariboo Regional District expressed its' support for the project which you can read their brief to the Panel here

As far as media coverage goes:

Vancouver Sun - Columnist Barbara Yaffe on July 23rd called for 'compromise' for this project saying that 'environmental protection and jobs can go hand in hand'.  Read her column here

Global BC - Reporter Geoff Hastings visits Fish Lake.  Watch below:

Sun News - Hard hitting journalist Ezra Lavant 'rants' on New Prosperity.  Watch below:


PG Citizen  - TNG rep Joan Kuyek calls approval of 'New Prosperity' environmental racism - read here

Taseko Mines:

Quote of the day: “It is an honor to be here to talk about what I consider an outstanding project” – Dr. John Meech, Professor of Mining Engineering at UBC, Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering

Prosperity is the Goal for Cariboo Business

The Chambers of Commerce from both Williams Lake and 100 Mile House strongly endorse New Prosperity. Jason Ryll, President of the Williams Lake Chamber of Commerce, says, “Prosperity is our goal at the Chamber, and we believe it [New Prosperity] has many positive implications for all our communities.” In describing the region he said, “Our communities in the Cariboo are shrinking because the people are moving away because the jobs aren`t here. People go where the work is, which means the burden becomes heavier, and the choices get fewer for those who remain.” Mr Ryll urged the Panel to consider the message that would be sent to other potential investors in our province if this mine is turned down. “I fear that message would be that BC is not open for business and that would be devastating to our entire provincial economy, no matter where you live.”

Largest Cariboo Communities Support Project

Quesnel, Williams Lake, 100 Mile and the Cariboo Regional District have each now appeared before the Panel expressing support for New Prosperity.

Industry Associations Talk Value of Sustainable Mining (continued from Day 3)

Pierre Gratton, MAC (Mining Assoc of Canada) , and Zoe Yougner, MABC (Mining Assoc of BC), spoke to the environmental practices of the industry and the strict regulatory compliance the Canada and British Columbia demand. “Canada is one of the safest and most responsible mineral suppliers in the world”, says Mr. Gratton. New Prosperity is a responsible project, based on proven science that will deliver on the industry standards MAC and MABC have set out for mining companies in Canada and BC.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Reminder: Williams Lake Sprinkling Regs

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

During these hot days of summer, the City of Williams Lake is reminding residents to obey lawn sprinkling regulations in order to preserve water, a precious resource for everyone.

Watering of lawns within the City of Williams Lake is not permitted between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Residents are reminded that watering days are in accordance with residential addresses (odd-numbered addresses waters on odd days, even-numbered addresses water on even days).

In the case of mobile homes in mobile home parks and strata developments, watering days are determined by bay numbers or unit numbers. Properties that have automatic sprinkler systems can water grass between 12 and 4 a.m. The sprinkling regulations are in effect until September 30.

The regulations are to ensure there is enough water supply during peak daytime hours, and non-compliance can carry a $100 fine. The City’s bylaw enforcement department will enforce the regulations.

The community’s cooperation is appreciated.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 3 of the New Prosperity General Pub Hearing

Today a number of municipal politicians from 100 Mile, Quesnel and Williams Lake expressed their support for Taseko Mines' proposed New Prosperity as did Jason Rylll from the WL and District Chamber of Commerce

Meanwhile - those like Sadie Parr and Micheal Atwood expressed reasons why New Prosperity should be defeated, once and for all

With 1 day remaining for the general public hearing session prior to the Panel switching to 'Topic-Specific' Sessions - I don't expect the divisions between those for and those against 'New Prosperity' will die down

For media and other coverage:

WL Tribune:

By the end of Wednesday more than 30 presenters, some of them very passionate, appeared before the New Prosperity Gold-Copper Mine Project federal review panel in Williams Lake.

On Tuesday the panel heard from Amnesty International campaigner Craig Benjamin.

“I urge the panel to look at International Human Rights law as a crucial source of document to the task you have before you of assessing the significance of the proposed project’s impacts and determining whether such impact is justified,” Benjamin said.

Amnesty International is not against mining, but has seen some of the most tragic human rights violations associated with resources development around the world take place when projects are imposed against the wishes of the affected indigenous nations and communities, he said.

Faltering at the microphone, and admitting it was emotional for him to make a presentation, Len Doucette of 100 Mile House described a town suffering from the economic downturn of the Cariboo region.

“We’re starving in 100 Mile House,” Doucette said, adding the mine will help sustain the economy.

Presenting on behalf of the Tailhqot’in National Government, Joan Kuyek said the New Prosperity Mine will not save the region

“I lived in a mining community, Sudbury, for 30 years and my kids left home to find work elsewhere too,” she told Doucette. “I would remind you there are already two mines in this area that don’t seem to have stopped the young people from leaving the communities.”

Part of Kuyek’s presentation covered taxation considerations and public costs associated with the mine project.

“Taxes from metal mines are less than one percent of all revenues in the province of B.C.,” she said, adding tax subsidies often exceed taxes paid.

During a presentation on behalf of the city, Mayor Kerry Cook said the project has garnered more attention than any other project in the region.

“From the city’s perspective the project presents an opportunity to develop the region’s economy.”

There are currently two mines operating near Williams Lake and a third mine could enhance the city’s ability to be a mine training and servicing centre, Cook said.

Local author Sage Birchwater challenged Cook to address the “cultural genocide” that would occur if the mine landed in the middle of the Xeni Gwet’in people’s community.

“I think that as a city and mayor I’ve demonstrated the importance of working in relationship with First Nations and will continue to do that going forward,” Cook said.

“I respect their position and I just hope they respect the city’s position as well.”

Speaking in her traditional language, Tsilhqot’in elder Fanny Stump said the First Nations do not need Williams Lake.

Cook responded it was an unfortunate statement.

“As neighbours, the city has appreciated the economic benefits of all First Nations communities,” Cook said.

General hearing sessions wrap up Thursday, July 25, and top-specific hearings begin Thursday evening and run through to Thursday, Aug. 1.

Taseko Mines:

Quote of the day: “I’m in favour of the project and I am here to express this support. I’m on the side of former Chief Ervin Charleyboy” – Geoff Garland

Williams Lake Mayor and Council support New Prosperity
Representatives from the largest Cariboo communities spoke at the hearings in support of the project.

Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook says, “As a local government, we have a duty to seriously consider economic development opportunities that are put before us.” She continued, “This project is a community development vehicle.”

Williams Lake benefits from Taseko’s nearby Gibraltar mine which employs nearly 700 people. Ninety-six per cent of the wages earned at the mine are spent in the local Williams Lake economy.

Councillor Spence Henderson representing the District of 100 Mile House spoke in favour of the project. In addition, Quesnel Councillor Ed Coleman will be speaking this afternoon in support.

South Cariboo Chamber of Commerce and Williams Lake Chamber of Commerce support the mine
Rick Takagi, Director of the South Cariboo Chamber of Commerce, stood in favor of the project and spoke on behalf of the diversified business community from 100 Mile House. “Adding a bigger mine to the mix, will help strengthen the viability of our local economy.” He continued, “The economic and social benefits will be felt in our local economy.”

Leon Chretien, Vice Chair of the South Cariboo Chamber of Commerce and local business owner, provided the perspective of his own, his family and the many others in the community that feel similarly to him. “I represent the people who want to be able to live the dream; the dream where your work and play meet. I vote yes to Prosperity.”

Could a Municipality go bankrupt in BC?

In light of the City of Detroit filing for bankruptcy in court - read more from the Globe and Mail here

The question some have asked is:

Could what happened in Detroit occur here by a municipality in BC?

The short answer is no -- as BC Municipal debt is covered by checks and balances to ensure what happened in Detroit doesn't occur here

Watch a video below from CKPG interviewing Prince George City Councillor Cameron Stolz on the subject:

Meanwhile - Saanich Mayor and Chair of the Municipal Finance Authority Frank Leonard writes a thoughtful two page memo to all local governments on this subject which you can review here

West Fraser VFD Solar Lighting Installed

Courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District:

The Cariboo Regional District’s West Fraser Volunteer Fire Department has confirmed that installation of the first solar, LED street light in the region is now complete. Earlier this year, the department received a $5000 donation from BC Hydro to help increase safety through zero energy street lighting at the intersection of West Fraser and Jackpine Flats Roads.

A crew installed the solar powered light on July 8, 2013 in front of the West Fraser Volunteer Fire Hall on Jackpine Flats Road. The new street light will assist the volunteer firefighters arriving and departing to emergencies in the dark and make their job much safer in the process.

The CRD’s West Fraser Fire Department would like to thank BC Hydro, Allteck (Rush) Electric, and Purmal Excavating for their contributions to bring this project to fruition.

Everyone who travels this stretch of road will now benefit with improved visibility as a result of these generous contributions,” stated West Fraser Fire Chief Phil Megyesi.

This new lighting system will increase public safety at the intersection adjacent to the fire hall, in particular whenever firefighters and fire apparatus are responding to emergencies.

BC Hydro welcomes applications to our donations program from across the province to assist projects that align with our goals of environmental sustainability, youth and lifestyle and community leadership” says BC Hydro Community Relations Coordinator, Dave Mosure.

Further information about this program is available online at

Day 2 Review -- New Prosperity General Hearings

Update - Hearing Transcript from Day 2 of the 'New Prosperity' General Session here

Update #2 - Video from Taseko Mines on Day 2 of the General Session:

Yesterday, with a smaller crowd than Monday, the 3 member Federal Review Panel heard from delegations concerning 'New Prosperity'.  Delegations raised concerns with New Prosperity or cited the need for new economic growth that 'New Prosperity' could bring

Watch the Global BC video here

There was a heated moment after Dennis Christianson gave his presentation, both Xeni Gwet'in (and Cariboo RD Area J Director) Chief Roger William and Patricia Weber challenged Mr. Christianson's statements and the Panel Chair had his hands full keeping the process moving forward which shows the level of division over this project

Meanwhile - you can listen to the audio from last night's session here and listen to the day delegations -- Part 1 here and Part 2 here

In the roster for today's session from 9am - 5pm at the Gibraltar Room:

a) Opening Ceremony
b) Opening Remarks by the Panel Chair
c) Delegations:

1) Geoff Garland
2) Sandy Parr (Valhalla Wilderness Society)
3) Herb Nakada
4) Jack Monk
5) Councillor Spence Henderson - District of 100 Mile
6) Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook
7) Zoe Younger - Mining Assoc of BC
8) Canoe Creek Band
9) Micheal Atwood
10) Pierre Gratton - Mining Assoc of Canada
11) Jason Ryll - President of WL and District Chamber of Commerce
12) Councillor Ed Coleman - City of Quesnel

d) Taseko response to delegations heard earlier today
e) Closing Comments by the Panel Chair
f) Short Closing ceremony
g) Adjournment

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Donna Barnett on Resource Development

Yesterday while the Federal Review Panel heard from delegations on 'New Prosperity' -- the BC Legislature was sitting for its' final week prior to rising for the remainder of the summer.  As is practice on Monday mornings (while the House is sitting) - Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tagart rose to start debate on her private members' motion (Motion #3) as follows:

"Be it resolved that this House supports taking a principled stand on responsible natural resource development and seize the opportunities available so we can continue building communities and planning for future growth across British Columbia."

The MLA's for Fraser-Nicola (BC Lib), Cariboo-Chilcotin (BC Lib), Skeena (NDP), North-Coast (NDP), Maple Ridge-Mission (BC Lib), Stikine (NDP), Abbotsford-South (BC Lib), Vancouver-Kensington (NDP), PG-Mackenzie (BC Lib), Juan de Fuca (NDP), and Peace River South (BC Lib) all particpated in debating the above motion

My local MLA and the Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development, Donna Barnett spoke to the motion put forward by her colleague from Fraser-Nicola Jackie Tagart as follows:

Today I would like to talk about a mine in the Cariboo-Chilcotin that is being proposed. As we all know, our resource industries are the industries that build strong communities, as my colleague across the floor has just said. We have an opportunity in the Cariboo-Chilcotin that will take the Cariboo-Chilcotin back to where it was. It was once very vibrant and had a strong economy.

As we all know, due to the pine beetle in areas like the Cariboo-Chilcotin we have devastation and industries that are still vibrant but not as vibrant as they used to be. We have a mine, now proposed for the second time, which starts its environmental assessment panel hearing process today in the Cariboo-Chilcotin.

I have followed this mine for approximately 20 years. Prior to being the MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin, I was mayor of the district of 100 Mile House for approximately 18 years. I became involved in this process when it first started. I fully supported the project then, as did my community and council, and I support it today.

We continue to hear about child poverty throughout the province of British Columbia and in some of our rural communities. In my opinion, there is no such thing as child poverty. It is parental and adult poverty. The unemployment statistics in some of our small communities and, unfortunately, in some of our First Nations communities are astounding. We must give these people, our young people, the opportunities that are out there and the jobs that will bring our communities and these young people forward.

We cannot continually say we have child poverty and yet say no to good resource development projects. I've even taken the time to monitor the environmental concerns around this project. These concerns, in my opinion, on this second round have more than been taken into consideration. While I appreciate the concerns of some, I appreciate and respect our First Nations communities. I believe that through a consultation process, this new project, the revenue-sharing opportunities for First Nations, will come together and be successful.

We have now gone through some turmoil. We have a chief who was chief for 20 years of the Alexis Creek Indian band. He was tribal chair of the Tsilhqot'in National Government. He was opposed to the first project. He now supports it. He understands that what the concerns were of the First Nations people are being addressed in this second proposal. He understands the needs of the young people in his communities. He understands the opportunities.

We talk about training and trades. Through the British Columbia Aboriginal Mine Training Association we have a great, great training centre in Williams Lake and we have many, many young First Nations people training and working now in Gibraltar mine, which is also a project that has just hired another 200 people and spent millions of dollars in the area supporting our communities.

I would also like to pass along a comment about the company that is proposing this mine. They are a great corporate citizen. They are working with some of our local First Nations bands, have signed an agreement with one and have given over 20 young people recently, in one of our First Nations communities, great opportunities.

You know, this opportunity that we have in the Cariboo-Chilcotin…. I encourage everyone to listen, to not say no, to listen to the benefits, the opportunities. In this province, in British Columbia, we have some of the most stringent environmental regulations there are. I know that once the shovel goes in the ground, and long before it does, the environmental assessment review panel, the province of British Columbia, the monitoring that will go on through this whole process will be the strongest and the toughest there is, I believe, in the world today

Wrap on Day 1 of 'New Prosperity' General Session

Update - Hearing Transcript from Day 1 of 4 of the 'New Prosperity' General Session

Yesterday kicked off 4 days of general public hearings on the 'New Prosperity' mine proposal from Taseko Mines.  Before the Federal Review Panel commenced just after 1pm yesterday - both sides, for and against, held its' own 'rallies' from 11am - 1pm

An official aboriginal welcome was held, led by Cecil Grinder, then a reciting of O Canada was led by mine supporter Lorne Doerksen and finally welcome comments by Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook and acting WL Indian Band Chief (Coun.) Willie Sellars and opening comments by the Panel Chair -- Bill Ross, the Panel heard from its' scheduled delegation including Taseko Mines, as the proponent and from others, like Lorne Doerksen, who has supported Taseko's proposal from 2010

Given the commentary from many -- it seemed to me that speakers' weren't necessarily addressing the Panel which can only consider the environmental aspect of 'New Prosperity' but were sending a message to Prime Minister Harper's cabinet who ultimately decides if 'New Prosperity' goes ahead.  I didn't hear anything new said yesterday that wasn't said back in 2010 (need for project to go ahead for economic reasons) when Taseko was proposing then-'Prosperity' to Ottawa

Find below the media coverage from yesterday's proceedings:

Williams Lake Tribune:

The environmental assessment panel hearings for Taseko Mine Ltd.’s New Prosperity Mine got underway in Williams Lake Monday afternoon.

More than 350 people filled the Cariboo Memorial Complex’s Gibraltar Room.

Some of the crowd wore bright blue sashes, signifying their support of the project, while others, like Tsilhqot’in member Cecil Grinder, who led the First Nations procession into the hearings, wore regalia.

The First Nations sang and drummed three songs, including one in honour of Fish Lake. Once they were done, local GM manager Lorne Doerkson started off the singing of O Canada, to which several of the First Nations drummed along to.

After thanking the First Nations for the opening, panel chair Bill Ross said the panel is independent of the Government of Canada and has been appointed by the federal minister of the environment to conduct an environmental assessment of the proposed mine project.

Encouraging involvement and participation from everyone in the region, Ross said the panel will rely in part on the information it receives through the hearings.

“We also believe that it will be helpful to Taseko and other participants,” he said. “We recognize that the conclusions and recommendations that we will provide to the federal government will have an effect on the participants here today and of those who live in Williams Lake and surrounding communities.”

Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook welcomed the panel and said she is proud of the city’s relationship with local First Nations and the work done during the recent St. Joseph’s Residential School Commemorative Project.

“As a city and a region we have started the process of healing and reconciliation,” Cook said. “The leadership demonstrated by our First Nations people was an example for us all. We have done good work together and I’m committed to seeing that great work continue outside of and after this panel review process.”

Local governments have a duty to seriously consider all economic opportunities, Cook said.

“The New Prosperity project is the largest undeveloped gold-copper deposit in Canada and the seventh largest gold-copper deposit of its kind in the world.”

Acting Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Coun. Willie Sellars said stewardship is crucial.

“We support the right of First Nations and their leaders to protect their territory,” Sellars said. “I was at a fundraiser to protect Fish Lake last week and I noticed there were just as many non-First Nations as First Nations people. This suggests that there are many people critically concerned about the impact of the New Prosperity proposal.”

Sellars said First Nations populations are growing, language and traditional practices are being reinvigorated, but the heart of the people is still the land.

“We hope and pray the panel will act wisely and carefully,” he said and asked the panel to consider not only the economics and science, but the stories of the people who have inhabited the area since time memorial.

The hearings continue in Williams Lake until Aug. 1, followed by community sessions in First Nations communities.

The hearings will culminate with a closing remarks session on Aug. 23.

Ross said after the hearings the panel will prepare a report for the minister of environment and submit it within 70 days.

Welcome to Williams Lake - read here
Global BC - click here
Prince George Citizen - story on reclamation work ongoing at Taseko's 'Gibraltar' site - read here

Short video from Taseko Mines on Day 1 wrap:

Finally - today's Agenda (Day 2 of 4) for the General Session shall be:


a) Opening Ceremony
b) Opening Remarks from the Panel Chair
c) Delegations:

1) Craig Benjamin - Amnesty International
2) Leonard Doucette
3) Joan Kuyek, TNG
4) Fish Lake Alliance
5) Chief Garry John - St'at'imc Chiefs Council
6) Ann Marie Sam - Nak'azdli Nation
7) Allan Roberts

Dinner break from 5-7pm

7-9pm Session

c) Delegations, cont

8) Dennis Christensen
9) Chief Bob Chamberlin & Marilyn Baptiste - Union of BC Indian Chiefs
10) Dr. Marc Pinkoski
11) Peter Gunville
12) Frank Dobbs

d) Taseko Mines response to delegations
e) Closing Comments from the Panel Chair
f) Short Closing Ceremony
g) Adjournment

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ervin Charleyboy: "New Prosperity" for the Chilcotin people

Yesterday - former Alexis Creek Band Chief and TNG Tribal Chair Ervin Charleyboy wrote an op-ed (Opinion Editorial) in the Vancouver Sun on his view of the New Prosperity project, as proposed by Taseko Mines

Find the op-ed below:

A new way forward for First Nations people in the Chilcotin and for the future of our grandchildren can be found in training opportunities and jobs. We need something more than what we have right now, something more than nothing.

That is why I support the New Prosperity mine project.

For 20 years, I was both chief in my community of Tsi Del Del (Alexis Creek) and tribal chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government. I’ve been talking to different people from each community out in the Chilcotin, in the Cariboo region and there’s nothing here to offer our people. They want jobs. They want to be able to support their families and have a future in the area.

At first, I took a strong stance against the original proposed project due to environmental and cultural concerns, and we stopped the project. Taseko went back to the drawing board and came up with a new plan. That plan, New Prosperity, no longer harms Teztan Biny (Fish Lake). Taseko listened and provided a new option so that our traditional lands can continue to sustain our people for generations.

So now I support what Taseko Mines is planning to do. It is a better plan and it will provide jobs and a future for our people. That’s what I’m looking at this mine for — a future for our younger generation.

This mine is going to create a lot of jobs, which our people don’t have right now. The logging industry is not going to be there much longer. In five or 10 years, there’ll be no logging left and what then for our young people?

I ask our First Nations members outright: What do you want to see for your future regarding this mine? With New Prosperity there’s going to be a lot of employment opportunities and these young people need to be trained. And I know that there is support in the community for this project. I encourage those who support the project to speak out. Don’t be afraid to speak up and let your leaders know. If you stand up for what you believe in it will go a long ways.

If you look at Taseko’s Gibraltar mine, there are many First Nations people working there and they’re happy because they’re making good money and supporting their families. New Prosperity will offer the same kinds of opportunities.

I say to our people, having the mine here close to home doesn’t mean losing our culture or disrespecting our traditions. Having the chance to work near where we live helps keep our young people from moving away in search of employment and gives us the potential to strengthen our communities. Stronger communities mean a greater ability to maintain important cultural practice and tradition. On the other hand, communities that are shrinking and losing members because there is little or nothing to do weakens us all.

I look at what the Gibraltar mine has done for Williams Lake and surrounding communities and see opportunities for work, for training and for business. I see New Prosperity doing the same for our communities and I think we should give it a try.

New economic opportunity and preserving our traditions can go hand in hand. We can have both.

'New Prosperity' Panel Hearings start today

After rejection of the original 'Prosperity' Mine proposal by Taseko Mines in November of 2010 - a newly submitted 'New Prosperity' mine proposal will be considered by a 3 member Federal Review Panel which starts its' work today in Williams Lake at 1pm in the Gibraltar Room

Prior to this - both supporters for 'New Prosperity' and those against 'New Prosperity' will each hold its' own rally from 11am - 1pm before attending the 1pm Panel Hearing.  TNG in Boitanio Park and the WL Chamber of Commerce from 11am - 1pm in the back parking lot at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex (525 Proctor St in Williams Lake)

The General Hearings go from today until Thursday, then the topic specific hearings start on July 26/27, resume on July 29-31 and August 1st.  The local community hearings start August 6-8 in Nemiah Valley (or Xeni Gwet'in), have a site visit at Fish Lake on August 9th, then move to Alexis Creek on August 12th, then off to Tl’etinqox (Anaham Band) on August 16/17 and then off to Dog Creek on Aug 19th, Alkali Lake on August 20th and a site visit to Little Dog Creek on August 21st.  Visits to Toosey and Stone Bands along with Alexandria are planned but no dates are provided at this time

The speaking list for those registered today at Day 1 of the General Session are:

1 - 5pm:

a) Welcoming remarks by Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook
b) Grand Chief Stewart Phillip - BC Union of Indian Chiefs
c) Taseko Mines Ltd
d) Phillip Hochstein - Ind. Contractors & Business Association of BC
e) Gavin Dirom - Association for Mineral Exploration BC
f) Lorne Doerksen
g) Patricia Spencer - Friends of Fish Lake

Dinner break from 5-7pm


a) Daryl Anderson
b) Craig Benjamin - Amnesty International
c) Taseko Mines responds to information presentation earlier this day

Closing Remarks by the Panel Chair
Short Closing Ceremony

Unlike in 2010 - where there was no video coverage permitted - the Panel has ruled that video taping will be allowed if requested beforehand and approved by the Panel.  I expect that the Williams Lake Tribune and Welcome to Williams Lake may have already applied for this privilege so watch their websites for video coverage on top of the usual print and website coverage by all of the local media

You can find all of the documentation before the Panel here

Finally - in a related matter - you can read about last Friday's "Fish Lake Alliance" fundraiser here

Sunday, July 21, 2013

10 Reasons why 'New Prosperity' should be rejected

Via Friends of Nemiah Valley:

1. “New” Prosperity, same old devastating impacts for First Nations. An independent Panel reviewed the original Prosperity proposal, and concluded that this mine would have a “high magnitude, long term, irreversible effect on the Tsilhqot’in” and that “the loss of the area for practicing their current use, spiritual and cultural activities would be significant and unmitigable” ( Panel Report 2010 , pp. iii, 203).

Nothing in the new plan changes these impacts. The previous Panel made this clear when it said “the proximity of the open pit and associated mining facilities would be close enough to Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) to eliminate the intrinsic value of the area to First Nations even if another alternative were chosen” – including the alternative that is now proposed as “New” Prosperity ( Panel Report 2010 , p. 50).

2. Already reviewed and rejected. “New” Prosperity is actually based on an alternative mine design that was considered – and rejected – in the previous Panel review. In 2010, the independent Panel, federal regulators and the company itself described this alternative as an “even greater long-term environmental risk” that would likely contaminate Teztan Biny over time ( Panel Report 2010 , p. 50).

3. Proven Aboriginal rights. The project is proposed for one of the few areas in Canada where a First Nation has successfully proven Aboriginal hunting and trapping rights in court. The previous Panel described impacts on these proven Aboriginal rights as significant and immitigable ( Panel Report 2010 , pp. 218, 245). The B.C. Court of Appeal recently affirmed these Aboriginal rights, stating “he recognition of such rights will serve to prevent incompatible uses of the land”: William v. British Columbia , 2012 BCCA 285, para. 233.

4. The Company’s disrespect for the Tsilhqot’in Nation. The Tsilhqot’in Nation flatly rejects any claims that the company has engaged in meaningful consultation. We perceive the actions of the company as failed attempts to cause division within our community through divide and conquer tactics. The company has also demonstrated disdain for our culture and spirituality by asking the federal environment minister to ban our ceremony and prayers from the proceedings. The request was immediately turned down, but the fact that it was made speaks volumes.

5. Unified First Nations Opposition. First Nations across BC and Canada have vowed to stand with us in defence of our lands, as expressed through resolutions of the Assembly of First Nations, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the First Nations Summit. The AFN resolution warns that approval of this project would create mistrust and fuel tensions with the federal government and mining industry.

6. Public Opposition. First Nations are not alone in opposing this project. Local and provincial groups that are wholeheartedly engaged in the effort to save this area include: Friends of the Nemaiah Valley; Chilko Resorts and Community Association, Friends of Fish Lake, RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs); Fish Lake Alliance; MiningWatch Canada, Williams Lake Chapter of Council of Canadians; Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society; Wilderness Committee; Valhalla Wilderness Society and the Sierra Club B.C.

A poll conducted on behalf of the Sierra Club of BC in November 2011 indicated 73% of British Columbians had serious concerns about the Province’s fast-tracked approval of the first Prosperity proposal, which was subsequently rejected federally in 2010 because of “scathing” and insurmountable problems, including damage to culture, water, fish and fish habitat and grizzly habitat to name a few.

7. Poster Child for Bad Mining Practices. This project would not be a success for the mining industry if approved, and instead would set back any efforts to improve relations. We agree with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, who has repeatedly described Prosperity as “the poster child for everything that is wrong with the mining industry in BC.”

8. Serious deficiencies in the company’s work. On the environmental front, the company submitted an Environmental Impact Statement that was so deficient that it resulted in over 40 pages of information requests from Federal Departments, and one deficiency statement after another , after another , after another , from the independent Panel. In the end, the Panel decided to proceed to hearings after the Proponent simply refused to answer direct information requests from the Panel about issues as critical as the rate of seepage into Fish Lake and other water bodies from the Tailings Storage Facility (see NRCan submission, June 14, 2013, pp. 5-7, 10).

9. Environmental risks and uncertainties. Hearings are now proceeding despite the fact that the company refused to answer direct requests from the Panel concerning the results of test drilling that raise concerns about Fish Lake water levels lowering as a result of draining into the mine’s open pit. Provincial officials have questioned the water treatment methods proposed by the Proponent, noting that these methods are “ not widely used in mining applications ” and are “considered to be very high cost”, which could pose long-term liabilities for the public. A recent report submitted by Natural Resources Canada estimated that contaminated seepage from the Tailings Storage Facility would be “ 11 times th e value estimated by Taseko ” with 18% of this seepage going to the deep groundwater system, where it could not be intercepted or captured at all.

10. Economic Risks. On the economic front, the company’s feasibility studies were conducted in house and have not been independently verified. The company claims it can proceed on existing prices, even with dramatically increased costs. However, as the world’s biggest mining companies are now scaling back and watching profits plunge, the Tsilhqot’in are not convinced by the company’s in-house claims. Nor are others: some analysts are now classifying Taseko as a “ strong sell ”.

Dead "Mine" Walking

Courtesy of the Tsilhqot'in National Government:

The Tsilhqot'in Nation is preparing today to participate in the Public Hearings for the controversial “New” Prosperity Mine proposal, and is calling on the Federal government to listen to community members, scientists and the public who are condemning this proposal for what it is: an environmental and cultural disaster that cannot proceed.

The Harper government did the right thing in November 2010 when then-Minister of Environment, Jim Prentice, rejected the mine proposal based on what he described as one of the most “scathing” independent panel reports ever written. The report documented both significant environmental and cultural impacts, many of which the first Panel noted could not be mitigated with the alternative option that the company is now presenting to this new Panel.

“We look forward to the opportunity to share with this new Panel all the reasons that this new proposal is just as unacceptable as the last one , regardless of the name or spin thrown out there by this company,” said Chief Roger William of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation, “Scientists and First Nations agree that this is a terrible project that cannot be approved, and we feel strongly that the evidence against this project will lead this Panel and the Federal Government to do the right thing and say ‘no’ once again.”

"For myself, family, and community that has grown up with the memory of the region and its history, it is difficult enough that our Nation is forced to enter the EA process again, but it is even more difficult that our people have to witness another ill-conceived proposal that blatantly threatens our past, present and future vision of our home ,” said Chief Russell Myers Ross of the Yunesit’in Government, “As Nenqayni – ‘people of the earth’ – we are intricately bound to protect Nabas, not just for ourselves, but for everyone who shares the value of preserving the water, fish, animals and all facets of our culture."

“Only weeks after the rejection in 2010, this company claimed it had a new plan that would save Teztan Biny,” said Chief William, “Well, now that all the reports are in, we know that this is a completely unfounded claim that only the company is making. If they had listened to us, they would know that Teztan Biny is intricately linked to Yanah Biny (Little Fish Lake), Nabas (the surrounding wetlands) and the Taseko River, both culturally and ecologically.”

Chief Myers Ross: “This company chose not to consult about proceeding with this new proposal, chose not to listen, chose not to answer the Panel’s direct technical questions, and now we are faced once again with a proposal that cannot be approved. It’s a sad day for our communities, but we won’t back down and certainly won’t be silenced by a company who tried to ban our prayers, our culture, and our values from this process”.

Chief William: “This is being proposed in one of Canada’s only areas where Aboriginal rights have been proven in court. Given that the previous Panel found significant adverse effects to Tsilhqot’in rights, regardless of which version of the mine being proposed, this is truly a test case for all First Nations across the Province and Canada to see if this government takes its commitment to First Nations seriously, and whether the revamped environmental assessment will have any credibility going forward.”

The proposed mine is so low-grade, at a time when even major mining companies are suffering extreme setbacks, that it creates serious doubt that the company can actually deliver the extremely elaborate environmental mitigations being proposed , like putting Teztan Biny on ‘life support’ and using unproven and expensive water treatment for the long-term, perhaps forever. If the mine were approved and built, many of these long-term liabilities would be borne by future governments, taxpayers, and most certainly future Tsilhqot’in.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Quesnel/WL Councils meet next week

With the Cariboo RD Board and Wells/100 Mile House Councils' on break until August and with both School District #27/28 Boards on break until September - only Quesnel & Williams Lake City Councils are meeting next week, as follows:

Quesnel - Special Council meeting on Monday, July 22nd at 7:00pm in Quesnel Council Chambers (2nd Floor - 410 Kinchant St).

On the Agenda:

a) Consideration of Admin Rpt #90/2013 - Development and Building Variance Review of Proposed Southgate Square Planned Service/Retail Commercial Project (Chew Rd)

View full Agenda here

Williams Lake - Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, July 23rd at 6:00pm in the Rick Hansen Boardroom - WL City Hall

On the Agenda:

a) Resume consideration of CAO-WL Council relationship

View full Agenda here

Please note that a Special Closed Meeting has been scheduled on the same night as the above meeting.  The closed meeting will be done first at 6pm, then the open meeting at around 6:30pm 

WL Council will close the meeting to the public at 6pm Tuesday under the provisions of Section 90(1)(j) of the Community Charter (prohibition on disclosing information per Section 21 of the FOIPPA Act).  Read the formal Closed Meeting notice here

South Lakeside Update #3

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

The installation of new stormwater works was begun this week on South Lakeside Drive, and will continue next week. Work scheduled to be undertaken next week includes the stripping of topsoil on the north side of the road, and the installation of a fire hydrant.

Traffic will continue to be single lane alternating with delays. The public is asked to be patient when driving in the area of South Lakeside Drive, and to pay close attention to traffic control personnel.

South Lakeside Drive will be repaved from Hodgson Road to the Cariboo Adventist Academy, the merge lane from Hodgson Road will be extended to Pioneer Drive, and a pedestrian/bike lane will be added from Hodgson Road to the Cariboo Adventist Academy. Work on the project is expected to continue through September.

Fruits/Furniture come to Punky Lake Camp

CBC Daybreak: Kamloops did a story in regards to the Punky Lake Wilderness Camp, west of Williams Lake, where they report as follows:

A load of handmade furniture and bundles of home-grown vegetables were delivered to a youth camp in the Cariboo this week.

They came from prisoners.

It was the first delivery from a Corrections Canada program launched a year ago.

The goods were dropped off at the Punky Lake Wilderness Camp, a place for youth at risk.

Sarah Jackman is the camp society's executive director.

Listen to the story here

John Cummins out as BC Conservative Leader

Yesterday - various provincial media reported, as I suspected would need to happen, that John Cummins stepped down as Leader of the BC Conservative Party.

Read here (CBC), here (National Post) and here (Globe and Mail)

You can read the official statement from the BC Conservative Party here

Meanwhile - former BC Conservative Party candidate for Nechako Lakes Dan Brooks has confirmed that he plans to seek the leadership of the BC Conservatives, whenever the leadership process starts

Mr. Brooks would be of that 'younger' generation that would be needed for the BC Conservative Party, if they want to be taken seriously in the 2017 BC Election, as I've noted previously.

An even better thing for this Party, again if they want to be taken seriously in 2017, is to have multiple candidates that talks about policy and a vision for BC that they can take to the vast majority of BC'ers if they have any dream of governing BC

Finally - I didn't agree with Mr. Cummins views, especially on First Nations, however I thank him for advancing ideas for making BC better and wish him well in his future endeavours

-- SBF

Social Media and Local Gov'ts

Yesterday - I noted a story that CBC Daybreak North did where the City of Prince George confirmed that they had disabled their social media accounts (Facebook/Twitter) while the City undergoes an 'evaluation' for their effectiveness for the City's communications needs - read that blog post here

I brought this story  to the attention of PG City Councillor Garth Frizzell who said he was unaware of this and would look into the matter.  Meanwhile, Councillor Frizzell has made me aware this morning  of a paper that the Local Gov't Management Association or LGMA wrote on the subject of Social Media a few years ago, prior to the advent of Google+.  Read that here

For the record - the LGMA is made of professional civic servants in our local governments (municipal/regional district) like CAO's (Chief Administrative Officers), CFO's (Chief Financial Officers), Corporate Officers, etc

Finally - I'd like to see, as I noted yesterday, the City of Quesnel and the Districts of Wells/100 Mile House get onto the social media bandwagon, like their colleagues in the City of Williams Lake and the Cariboo Regional District as it would expand upon the transparency that these local governments in Quesnel, 100 Mile House and Wells already demonstrate

-- SBF

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cariboo RD will speak to 'New Prosperity' project

In today's Williams Lake Tribune - they report that the Cariboo RD Board, by a majority of the Directors, will seek an opportunity to speak to the 'New Prosperity' project as public hearings on the project start Monday

Read the Tribune article below:

Those Cariboo RD Directors' who argued in favour of speaking at the public hearings for 'New Prosperity' included Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom, Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook, Area 'E' Director Byron Kemp, Area G Director (and Cariboo RD Chair) Al Richmond and presumably 100 Mile Mayor Mitch Campsall as he has made previous public comments in support of this project

Meanwhile - Area D Director Deb Bischoff, Area F Director Joan Sorley and Area J Director (and Xeni Gwet'in Chief) Roger William attempted to convince their colleagues to take a 'neutral stance' for the 'New Prosperity project

Director William stated that he believed no one around the Cariboo RD table knew precisely how their constituents felt on 'New Prosperity' and I believe Roger William speaks the truth here

Meanwhile both Quesnel and Williams Lake Mayors' Mary Sjostrom/Kerry Cook argued the need to speak in favour citing the economic boost that 'New Prosperity' would bring to the region

While I congratulate and associate myself with the comments from Directors' Sorley, Bischoff and William and would have said the same as these Directors, had I been at the Cariboo RD July 12th meeting - I am profoundly disappointed that their colleagues are being incredibly naive by saying there is no risk to our First Nations relationships by speaking in favour of this project as I feel strongly that speaking in favour of this project in light of FN opposition would set back FN relations many years.

In fact - I would argue that the Cariboo RD Board is being hypocritical on this topic as they previously said they would maintain a neutral stance on "New Prosperity" in the spring of 2012 after Director Roger William brought forward a request to register opposition to 'New Prosperity' at that time

Finally - if Directors (and Mayors') Sjostrom, Cook, Campsall, Richmond and Kemp support this project - they can do so provided they don't use their political offices to do so and to make it clear that they express their support for 'New Prosperity' as private citizens and not on behalf of their respective municipalities, electoral areas or of the Cariboo Regional District as a whole as they clearly have no mandate from their electorate to speak in favour of 'New Prosperity' at this time...

--- SBF

Quesnel's Facade Improvement Program

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel:

The City of Quesnel was successful in their grant application for $20,000 for commercial façade improvements. The Façade Improvement Program, offered for the first time in Quesnel through Northern Development Initiative Trust, provides the opportunity to make commercial areas more inviting and visually appealing to visitors and residents; increase assessed property values; promote private sector investment; build civic pride; and to stimulate the local economy.

“A sincere thank you to Northern Development Initiative Trust for their continued investment in the north. We are extremely pleased that our grant application was successful and that we are able to provide this type of assistance,” says Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom. “I would encourage all eligible property and business owners to take advantage of this opportunity.”

The program offers assistance to property owners and business owners to improve the physical appearance of buildings. The guidelines are intended to maximize the benefit for improving the aesthetics of commercial areas.

The City of Quesnel will provide a 50% reimbursement grant up to a maximum of $5,000 per building/
project to improve the facades of commercial buildings. The building must be located in one of the following Development Permit Areas: Downtown Core, West Quesnel, South Quesnel Highway, or Highway Frontage. Each building or business within the area is eligible for a one time grant. Projects must have a minimum total cost of $2,000 in order to qualify.

Eligible improvements may consist of but are not limited to new lighting, architectural features, new windows, facade painting, new siding, murals, entrances and doorways, signage, and awnings. Only buildings used for commercial or offices are eligible; residential buildings are not eligible. To apply, you must be the property owner or have written authorization from the property owner. There must be a current, valid business licence for the property (unless currently vacant or otherwise exempt) and there must be no outstanding permit matters.

A map of Eligible Properties, Eligibility Requirements and complete Application details are now available on the City’s website at

To view the funding programs and success stories of Northern Development Initiative Trust, visit their website at

City of Prince George disables its' social media tools

In a story by CBC Daybreak North today - they report that the City of Prince George has deactivated its' social media accounts - Facebook & Twitter - while the City evaluates the current use of these social media tools.  Read more here

Meanwhile - it is my opinion that this move is a step backwards for the City of Prince George.  Yes - you should evaluate all of your communication tools (social media, traditional media, etc) constantly to ensure you are communicating with your residents in the best manner possible, but deactivate your social media tools to undergo a 'evaluation' period is not the way to go

Finally - here's a look at Cariboo local governments and their use of social media tools:

Wiliams Lake  - Facebook/Twitter & YouTube
Cariboo Regional District - Facebook and Twitter
Quesnel - no social media accounts
Wells - no social media accounts
100 Mile House - no social media accounts

I applaud both the Cariboo Regional District & the City of Williams Lake for their willingness to make use of social media tools to communicating with their residents', in addition to traditional communication methods, and hope that the City of Prince George will resume use of their social media accounts in the not too distant future

-- SBF

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Community Energy/Emission Stats - Cariboo-Chilcotin Region

This past Sunday (July 14th) - PG City Councillor Brian Skakun, via Twitter, made me aware of 2010 CEEI or Community Energy and Emission Inventory stats for the Province of BC

For the City of Williams Lake - read here
For the City of Quesnel - read here
For the District of 100 Mile House - read here
For the District of Wells - read here
For the Cariboo Regional District - read here

For the most part - the reports indicate that emissions from vehicles are on the rise from 2007 - 2010 however emissions from buildings are on the decrease with the exception of the District of 100 Mile House which shows that emissions from vehicles actually decreased from years 2007 - 2010

Good job, District of 100 Mile House!

In the meantime - I suspect the local governments of the Cariboo-Chilcotin will look at the CEEI data and see where improvements could be made to get those vehicle emissions down, but realizing that we do live in a rural environment where conventional bus transit options are not an easy thing to implement but I support looking at transit options, where appropriate (bike lanes, etc), for those living in the rural fringe areas of Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.  Meanwhile - the CEEI data suggests local governments do a good job on building emissions and I suspect this work will continue, where local government resources allow building emission improvements to occur on a year to year basis

-- SBF

WL Junior Council has openings

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

Williams Lake high school students interested in offering their ideas for Williams Lake and learning about local government are invited to apply to serve on Williams Lake Junior Council for the 2013-2014 term.

The Junior Council of Williams Lake is a group of high school students from Grades 10-12 that suggest ideas that could enhance life for youth in our city. Junior Council members are appointed by City Council and provide a youth voice to decisions made by the city. It is an opportunity to learn about and participate in the process of local government.

Each year Junior Council sets learning goals and then chooses a project to work on. In 2011/12 Junior Council received group facilitator and leadership training and then led a workshop for adults on youth engagement and hosted a full day youth forum. In 2012/13 Junior Council has been working on planning to develop a public outdoor ice rink for the community to use. They hope the next Junior Council will continue to work on this project.

“Williams Lake City Council has been impressed by the enthusiasm and ideas of our Junior Councils,” says Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook. “I encourage anyone with an interest in local government with ideas to share to apply. We’re looking forward to the next Junior Council term!”

Those interested are asked to submit an application explaining why you are interested and why you think you would be a good choice for Junior Council. Include your name, address, phone number, school, and grade (Sept. 2013). Send your letter by August 2 to:

Junior Council Applications
City of Williams Lake
450 Mart Street
Williams Lake, BC
V2G 4E5

Applications can also be dropped off at City Hall. Application forms are available at City Hall, school offices, from a current Junior Council member or on the City website:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

WL Council Highlights - July 16th mtg

Council present: Mayor Cook and Councillors Bonnell, Bourdon, Hughes, Rathor, Walters and Zacharias

Staff present:

Darryl Garceau - CAO
Rena Schill - Corp. Services Records Mgmt Coordinator
Ken MacInnis - Communications Coordinator
Anne Burill - Social Development Manager
Chris Hutton - Planning Technician
Tom Chung - IT Manager

Meeting called to order at 6pm
Meeting agenda adopted/Minutes from July 2nd/9th meetings of WL City Council approved


1) David Majcher - Manager, Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition appeared before Council to discuss the 'Rural BC' project. Council approved a letter of support for the 'Rural BC' project


1) Council received for information the cheque runs for the period ending July 11th

2) After receiving no public input - Council adopted the 2012 Annual Report

3) Council received the 2013 Second Quarter Economic Indicators Report for information

4) Council endorsed science based reviews of land use objectives associated with old growth management areas, mule deer winter ranges and areas with visual quality objectives in order to mitigate mid-term timber supply issues in the Cariboo Region and a letter will be sent to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in this regard

5) Council endorsed the Declaration of Commitment for a Respectful Workplace

6) After receiving no public input - Council approved DP #4-2013 (Chevron Bulk Fuel Plant)

7) Council gave 2nd Reading to Bylaws #2174/2175 and 2182/2183 (Backyard Hens and Bees) and set the public hearing for September 24th, 2013

8) Council gave 1st/2nd Reading to Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2191 (Kathleen Wittenberg - 2008 2nd Avenue North) and set a public hearing for August 13th.

Meeting recessed at 6:59pm for Public Hearing on Bylaws 2187/2188
Meeting resumed at 7:06pm

Councillor Hughes declared a conflict on the next item and left the meeting at 7:07pm

9) Council gave 2nd Reading to Bylaws #2185/2186 (Shirley Cameron - 905 Proctor St) and set a public hearing for August 13th

Councillor Hughes returned to the meeting at 7:08pm

10) Council agreed to forward a Grant for Assistance application form to the WL Field Naturalists so they can seek financial help for an energy upgrade project for the Scout Island Nature Centre, as per the recommendation of the Planning and Operations Committee

Mayor Cook declared a conflict on the next item as she is a resident of Woodland Drive and left the meeting.  Acting Mayor Ivan Bonnell assumed the Chair at 7:10pm

11) Council approved the installation of wireless communications from the Woodland Drive Reservoir to the Westside Booster Station for an approximate cost of $25,000 from the Water Fund on the following vote:

Affirmative - Councillors Bonnell, Hughes, Rathor, Walters and Zacharias
Negative - Councillor Bourdon

Mayor Cook returned to the meeting and re-assumed the Chair at 7:14pm

12) Council approved a budget amendment of $85,000 in order to commence engineering design for all phases of the River Valley sanitary trunk redundancy upgrades due to increased sub-consultant costs.

13) Council accepted the proposal to close Oliver Street from First Avenue South to the laneway between First and Second Avenues, leaving access to that laneway, and instructed Staff to prepare and enter into a License of Occupation Agreement with the Oliver Street Market for a term ending October 12, 2013.  Council also instructed Staff to meet with representatives of the Oliver Street Market and downtown businesses to discuss positives and negatives of the 2013 season and work through the winter to determine a long-term location and fee structure, if applicable.

14) Council received the revised Highway 97/Toop Road intersection design from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and a letter from Mr/Ms. Moon and requested Staff to work with MOTI/Moon's prior to Council giving its' support for the Highway 97/Toop Rd intersection project

15) Council gave 1st, 2nd and 3rd Reading to City of Williams Lake Lane Closure Bylaw No. 2190, 2013 (Lakeview Crescent) and Staff were directed to complete the process of public notification. This item is related to the Audiotronic development at 1148 Broadway Ave by the following vote:

Affirmative - Mayor Cook and Councillors Bonnell, Bourdon, Rathor, Walters and Zacharias
Negative - Councillor Hughes

16) Council received for information an update on the progress of the working group addressing issues in Boitanio Park

17) After a public hearing - Council approved 3rd Reading to Bylaws 2187/2188 (1148 Broadway Ave South) by the following vote:

Affirmative - Mayor Cook and Councillors Bonnell, Bourdon, Rathor, Walters and Zacharias
Negative - Councillor Hughes

Bylaw #2188 will now be forwarded to the Ministry of Transportation for approval, as per Section 52 of the Transportation Act

18) Council adopted a recommendation from the Committee of the Whole to approve amendments to the Travel Expense and Council Compensation Policy

19) Council received a letter from Sheila Gibson re: Hanging Baskets on Mackenzie Ave and denied her request for hanging baskets along the Mackenzie Avenue corridor by the following vote:

Affirmative - Mayor Cook and Councillors Bourdon, Bonnell, Hughes, Walters and Zacharias
Negative - Councillor Rathor

20) Council referred the letter of Sheila Gibson to the Communities in Bloom & Community Services Committees for consideration

21) Council received a letter from Brandy Nasuszny regarding issues with traffic safety at the Tim Horton's and Sun Valley Gas Highway 97 access and referred the letter to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for their comments.

22) Council approved the 2013 Williams Lake Kidney Walk for August 25th
23) Council endorsed the submission guidelines and promotional poster for the "Branding the City with Art" 2013 Street Banner Project

24) Council received a letter from Cathy Arruda in regards to Request for Reversal of Charges on Tax Bill and requested Administration to report on the process for tax certificates and bring the report to the next Committee of the Whole meeting

24) Council received a letter from the Seniors Advisory Council regarding the importance of a wheelchair accessible taxi for persons with disabilities and referred the letter to the Planning and Operations Committee

25) Council received both Mayor Cook's bi-weekly activity report and the Council Information Package as follows:

• June 8, 2013 - Sensible Policing Act: Legislative Proposal to Decriminalize Cannabis Possession in BC.

Councillors Rathor, Walters, Zacharias, and Hughes orally gave reports on activities that they were involved in

The meeting adjourned at 8:47pm