Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

BC’s Next Transit Referendum (& One You’ve Likely Never Heard Of)

with one comment


Lawn sign on Gabriola Island


We all know what happened with that rather unfortunate (insert additional adjectives of your choice here) transit referendum that occurred last spring in Metro Vancouver.

What you may not be aware of is that there’s another transit referendum happening right now on Gabriola Island, BC, a 20 minute ferry ride from downtown Nanaimo in BC’s Gulf Islands archipelago. Between now and general voting day next Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, islanders are set to head to the polls to say whether they support establishing an ongoing contribution from property taxes to fund transit in their community.

Read more on Connecting Dots the personal blog of Tania Wegwitz, who also happens to be the Manager of Planning for BC Transit. I have only just become aware of her blog and, from the quick glance through it so far, I am very happy to add it to my blogroll.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 12, 2016 at 8:07 am

Posted in transit

Tagged with , ,

There’s nothing clean about the Site C dam

with one comment

There is something wrong in BC. There is a provincial general election coming up (May 2017) and the premier seems to be determined to secure her legacy by building mega-projects of dubious or even negative value before she gets kicked out of office. Hopefully, the new government in Ottawa will do something to restrain this effort to change the face of BC before more damage is done.


Copied from Amnesty International

Open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:
Canadian organizations condemn Peace River hydroelectric mega-project for human rights violations

Dear Prime Minister,

Our organizations are profoundly concerned that construction of the Site C dam is being pushed ahead despite the conclusion of a joint federal-provincial environmental assessment that it would severely and permanently undermine Indigenous peoples’ use of the land; harm rare plants and other biodiversity; make fishing unsafe for at least a generation; and submerge burial grounds and other crucial cultural and historical sites.

The Site C dam is not just another resource development project. It is one of the largest such projects currently underway in Canada. For First Nations such as West Moberly and Prophet River, which continue to challenge the project in court, flooding the Peace Valley would take away one of the last remaining places where they can still practice their cultures and traditions. In other words, it would violate fundamental rights protected by Treaty 8, the Canadian Constitution, and international human rights law.

When the federal and provincial governments approved the project, they claimed that the severe harm that would be caused by Site C was ‘justified’ by the energy and the jobs it will produce. We strongly disagree.

Ignoring the rights of Indigenous peoples can never be justified. Furthermore, in this day and age there are far less damaging and less costly methods that could be used to meet British Columbia’s energy needs – many of which would create more jobs than Site C.

Last month, Canada played a crucial role in achieving an historic global accord on climate change. The Paris Agreement calls on governments to increase the use of renewable energy but also reaffirmed the obligation of all governments to acknowledge and respect human rights, including the rights of Indigenous peoples.

In other words, energy projects that violate human rights are not clean or green.

Prime Minister, we urge you and your Cabinet to put the principles you championed in Paris into practice in Canada. We urge that construction of the Site C dam be halted immediately, that all permits be rescinded, and that the previous government’s approval of this project be re-examined. It is crucial that the federal and provincial governments work collaboratively with the Indigenous peoples of the region to reach common agreement on a long-term plan to protect Indigenous land use in the Peace Valley.

The people of Treaty 8 have said no to Site C. Any government that is truly committed to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, to respecting human rights, and to promoting truly clean energy must listen.


Alliance 4 Democracy
The Anglican Eco-Justice Unit, Diocese of New Westminster
Amnesty International Canada
Blue Planet Project
BC Women’s Institute
Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion – BROKE
Canadian Federation of Students
Canadian Friends Service Committee
Council of Canadians
Christian Peacemakers Team, Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Project
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) Vancouver
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS)
David Suzuki Foundation
Greenpeace Canada
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Peace Valley Environment Association
Peace Valley Landowner Association
RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs)
Skeena Wild Conservation Trust
Sierra Club BC
West Coast Environmental Law
Wilderness Committee
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

Written by Stephen Rees

February 11, 2016 at 8:34 am

Posted in energy, Environment, politics

Tagged with

You still have five days left to comment

with one comment

Massey Bridge

The last post to this blog was about the proposed replacement of the Massey Tunnel by a massive bridge. A small group of people have been getting together to try and co-ordinate activity opposing the province’s proposal. This is what we have so far:

Urgent Deadline for Public Comments on George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project

Please Act Now                     DEADLINE FEBRUARY 15, 2016

The B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) is requesting public comments on the valued components in the environmental assessment for the Massey Tunnel Replacement Project.


Click on the RealMasseyTunnelHearings link below.  There is a form for you to submit your comments.  You can write your comments there or prepare ahead and copy and paste into the space provided.  The site provides some information for you consider and there is more below.


Visit Real Massey Tunnel Hearings to get a quick overview of some of the concerns people have identified with this project. You can send your comments to the EAO directly through the website, and they will be automatically forwarded to our municipal, provincial and federal elected representatives.  This is our best chance for building awareness of public concerns about this proposal.

Some Points:


  • The impacts of this Project are far-reaching and should include a Review Panel federal environmental assessment.
  • More information is needed and there should be a future opportunity for input on Scoping and Valued Components before the Application is allowed to proceed,
  • The Project is too large and too expensive
  • Traffic Congestion will increase at the Oak Street and Knight Street Bridges
  • The Project information fails to recognize the national and international significance of the Fraser River Estuary for salmon, sturgeon, eulachons, endangered whales and migratory birds of the Pacific Flyway.
  • A 45% percent increase in truck traffic in this region is unacceptable and credible alternatives are available.
  • The Project will have a negative impact on regional air quality.


The following are more specific points for your information.


Definition of Valued Component


“For the purpose of environmental assessment in BC, Valued Components (VCs) are components of the natural and human environment that are considered by the proponent, public, Aboriginal groups, scientists and other technical specialists, and government agencies involved in the assessment process to have scientific, ecological, economic, social, cultural, archaeological, historical, or other importance.”


Page 4: EAO: Guideline for the Selection of Valued Components and Assessment of Potential Effects



Valued Components Commentary


  • The Open Houses and public information document, ‘Project Description and Key Areas of Study’ have failed to provide sufficient information for the public to make informed comments on the Scope and Valued Components of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project (GMTR).


  • The B.C. Environmental Assessment process states scoping should be prepared by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office prior to request for public input on the scope and valued components:


“Issues scoping should begin early in project planning, before initial regulatory submissions, such as the Project Description and draft AIR, are made, as the information gained during issues scoping will inform not only the selection of VCs but also the determination of the scope of the assessment…”

(Note: AIR – Application Information Requirements)


Page 8: EAO: Guideline for the Selection of Valued Components and Assessment of Potential Effects

  • There needs to be a future opportunity for public comment on a credible document which clearly outlines the Scope and Valued Components as identified by the Proponent; the BC Ministry of Transportation; the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office; the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency; Transport Canada; the Canadian Ministry of Environment and Climate Change; and Health Canada; and Public Safety Canada.


  • While the document claims engagement has taken place with Provincial and Federal regulatory agencies, no information is provided as to Scope and Valued Components.  It states that will come later.  The public and municipalities cannot be expected to comment on Scope and Valued Components without any substantive information from the government agencies.  As Scoping and identification of Valued Components are essential to the environmental assessment, the public must be afforded an opportunity to provide comment once these have been credibly identified with supporting documentation.


  • The information is incomplete as it does not include the requirement of environmental assessment pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Due to the importance of the Fraser River Estuary and the cumulative impacts of this Project and several other past, current, and planned projects, a Review Panel Environmental Assessment should be required., Some reasons for the requirement of a federal assessment:

Ø  Decommissioning of the Massey Tunnel

Ø  Length of the new bridge

Ø  Requirements under the Fisheries Act, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, Navigation Protection Act, Species at Risk Act, Migratory Bird, Environment Protection Act etc.

Ø  Ecological and social upstream and downstream effects – scour and infill processes

Ø  Endangered and threatened streams critical to viable fish habitats and migratory birds

Ø  Watercourses that support fish and fish habitat

Ø  Effects on the salt wedge

Ø  Impacts on interactive, interdependent riparian habitats between the shoreline and the Fraser River critical to viable fish habitats and species at risk

Ø  Impacts to water quality of the Fraser River and adjacent communities

Ø  Permits and approvals that are required for the Project – need to identify and list

Ø  Effects on navigation in the Fraser River and the shipping route to the open Pacific

Ø  First Nations interests, information,  land use, Fraser River use and claims

Ø  National, provincial and international designations recognizing international ecological significance of the Fraser River Estuary

Ø  Cumulative effects of past, current and planned Projects on the South Arm of the Fraser

Ø  Hydro technical impacts

Ø  Health of fisheries and potential impacts on commercial fishing

Ø  Need for a risk analysis to address uncertain residual effect predictions


  • National and international significance of the Fraser River Estuary for fish species, migratory and resident birds and endangered whales needs to be included.  The lower Fraser Estuary is a declared RAMSAR site which means it is an internationally- recognized Wetlands.  The area is also a designated site in the Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network as well as the site of the top three Most Important Bird Areas in Canada.


  • The information is incomplete as it does not identify federal, provincial, regional and municipal land plans, codes, regulations, standards, and initiatives such as Official Community Plans, Regional Growth and Sustainability Strategies, Climate Action Plans, archaeological information and numerous other initiatives.  The document states it is reviewing some of these documents but no specifics are provided.


  • The information is incomplete as it does not identify effects on cross boundary agreements and initiatives which may be affected by the Project.


  • The Project Rationale should include information on alternative options – continue upgrading and retaining the Massey Tunnel; twinning the tunnel; or building a much smaller bridge.


  • The section on traffic congestion claims truck traffic will double by 2045.  This reason should not be supported in terms of air pollution and safety.  Alternatives to increased truck movements (such as inland transloading at Ashcroft) should be presented to the public.


  • The section on traffic congestion should include the problem of moving congestion from the Massey Tunnel to the Oak Street and Knight Street Bridges.


  • Project Benefits are just descriptive.  They need to be substantiated with credible studies.   They ignore many public valued components such as clean air, protection of farmland, and use of tax dollars.


  • Impacts of Bridge Height should be included – safety, ice, interference with migratory birds of the Pacific Flyway, Sandhill Cranes, night hunters and the largest number of wintering raptors in Canada.


  • Impacts of preloading, highway construction, and decommissioning of the tunnel are descriptive and fail to identify valued components.


  • Specific information on the installation of pilings and potential impacts should be included – depth, procedures, safety, noise pollution and impacts on fish and wildlife habitat.


  • A safety risk assessment for the Massey Tunnel during construction needs to be included.  Continuous drilling and vibrations have the potential to impact the tunnel making it potentially unsafe.


  • Project costs of $3.5 billion should be itemized with information of how the Project will be funded.  A Cost/Benefit Analysis and a Feasibility Study should have been provided at the earliest stages of this assessment.  Use of tax dollars is a valued component that needs to be transparent.


  • While the document claims Aboriginal Group Engagement, no information is provided for the opportunity to comment on valued components.


  • Changes in Fraser River hydraulics, water quality and sediment are identified.  These valued components should include permits required by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the need for a federal environmental assessment.


  • Fish and fish habitat are not correctly identified.  This section should include studies done over the years by the Fraser River Estuary Management Program that include habitat classifications.  Areas of the bridge project include important riparian habitats.  These are coded red which are shoreline areas having highly productive habitat.  Credible evidence needs to be provided for blanket statements of “low aquatic habitat values.”


  • Species at Risk such as the White Sturgeon and Coho Salmon should be identified and included.  This should trigger a federal environmental assessment.


  • Underwater noise may affect marine mammals.  This section should include recent studies that find noise effects whales more than previously understood.


  • There will be negative Impacts on wildlife from noise and light pollution during construction and as a result of the Project.  Night hunters will be permanently impacted.  This is a valued component.


  • Vegetation in the area of the Project is varied.  Ditches, old streams and water courses support rare or at-risk species.  These valued components should have been identified in this section.


  • Habitat for endangered Pacific Water Shrew and Barn Owl will be impacted.  This project will add to the ongoing loss of critical habitats in the Fraser River Estuary.


  • The following statement on air quality is an opinion:

“The Project is expected to result in an improvement in air quality, especially in the vicinity of the Tunnel, as a result of improved traffic flow, since vehicles driving at highway speeds consume less fuel and generate lower emissions. In addition, the new bridge is elevated above ground level, allowing airflow over the top and beneath the bridge, which contributes to improved dispersion of pollutants.”


Congestion will move to the Richmond bridges causing pollution in other areas.  Doubling truck traffic by 2045 is not going to improve air quality as stated in this section.

  • Air quality is a valued component that needs more information than is provided here to the public.  With all the studies and work over the past few years, the public deserves specific, credible, referenced information.


  • Impacted farmland and environmentally sensitive areas should be specifically identified.  Anticipated no net loss of farmland and expected benefits are meaningless without substantive information.


  • Impacts on human health should include stress with ongoing construction: congestion, air pollution, light pollution, noise pollution.


  • An environmental risk assessment is a valued component that should be included.


  • The information provided to the public fails to meet the principles of transparency, participation, credibility, and purpose that have been established by the International Association for Impact Assessment.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 10, 2016 at 1:03 pm

Posted in Transportation

Tagged with

The Case for Replacing the Massey Tunnel

with 32 comments


You will understand that I approach this with a background in trying to integrate transportation and regional planning. It is what I have been doing for the last 50 years, one way and another. Experience has shown us that simply building freeways as a way of dealing with traffic congestion is ineffective. As the capacity of the system is increased, the traffic gets worse, simply due to the almost immediate impact of induced demand, but in the longer term by the changes brought about in land use. Essentially expanding road capacity encourages more car trips, most of which are made in single occupant vehicles. This is about the most inefficient use of transportation infrastructure we could possibly devise. A lane of freeway can move 2,000 vehicles per hour – or 2,500 people more or less. Car occupancy in this region has been generally higher than the rest of North America – but not by very much. The same width of lane used for transit increases the potential capacity to 20,000 people per hour.

The Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) was designed to tackle this issue, by controls on land use and changing the priorities for transportation provision. We said we would build a compact urban region, with complete communities that would protect green space and increase transportation choice. The province of BC was part of that agreement but in the last ten years has decided unilaterally to behave as though it did not exist. The freeways have been widened, land owned by the provincial government has been released for development and resources for better transit have been almost but not entirely restricted to one or two major projects.

Replacing the Massey Tunnel and widening the freeway from the Oak Street Bridge to the US border was never part of the RGS. It spoke about increasing the utilisation of the existing highway by promoting the use of higher occupancy vehicles. It is no coincidence that the man most responsible for getting car sharing going here was a cranberry farmer, Jack Bell. Arguments about how to define an HOV were key to the establishment of Translink: the then Mayor of Delta insisted on 2+ for Highway 17/99 or she wasn’t going to sign on.

I think it is fair to say that most people were surprised when Christy Clark announced her plan for a massive new bridge. Most people were unaware that this was in the works – and had been for some time. But that had little to do with the conventional land use transportation framework or the regional growth strategy. It was driven by the Port of Vancouver. In fact the process has been remarkably similar to the one than led to the widening of Highway #1 and the new Port Mann Bridge. The Gateway Council was front and center – but as we now know the trucks are not using the new tolled crossing so much as the grossly overloaded and inadequate Patullo Bridge – pouring more traffic onto city streets in New Westminster. Everything that the RGS was supposed to avoid.

The process by which we have got to the present has been carefully documented by Douglas Massey: the son of the man for whom the tunnel was named. He has given me permission to place his work here as a pdf file. The Vision to Build the George Massey Tunnel & the Road to its Removal Jan 19 2016. [Please note that on February 2, 2016 I replaced the file with a revised version that contains the complete document] Here are a couple of key paragraphs to show you why you need to read the whole thing.

The intention of this document is to show the intent from day one that any crossing of the Lower Fraser River, from the Gulf of Georgia to New Westminster, shall not and will not be granted approval unless it meets the approval of the present and future needs of Harbour Boards and industry, never mind the needs of the people, their environment, or the sustainability of the Lower Fraser River for fish and wildfowl.

Port Metro Vancouver, Vice President Duncan Wilson, was quoted in a letter to the editor of Richmond Review on July of 2015, “The depth of the river is also a limitation. While the removal of the tunnel may create greater depth at that point in the river, the amount of dredging required on either side of the former tunnel would be extensive and potentially cost prohibitive.”

The facts are: that in order for the proposed 14.5m depth to be achieved and maintained, the George Massey Tunnel would have to be removed along with GVWD 30” water main (costs yet to be determined) along with a one- time dredging cost of $200 million, and an estimated annual dredging costs of $30 million. There would be other costs, before any dredging to deepen the Lower Fraser River could take place:(1) The cost of a full hydrological study that would have to be undertaken, to determine what effects this would have on the sustainability of its ecosystem to support fish and wildlife. (2) The effects it would have on the existing dikes and the costs to rebuild them if necessary. (3) Determining if the deepening would result in the salinity advancing too far up river and affecting the ability of the farmers to use the water for irrigation.

All during these discussions there has been little to no discussion about the need for a new river crossing to alleviate the congestion for people and their vehicles. The, emphasis of all previous and present discussions has been on the moving of bulk cargo. Any new crossing of the Lower Fraser River should be to improve the movement of people and not just to make it possible for the complete industrialization and dredging of the Lower Fraser River, at the expense of the river’s ecosystem, that is so vital for its sustainability and ability to preserve its fish and wetlands that are so significant to the survival of the wildfowl and mankind. Prepared by: Douglas George Massey

It seems to me that we are repeating the same pattern we saw with the Gateway. The arguments to justify the expansion of the freeways – and the building of the South Fraser Perimeter Road – were always about trucks. But the real agenda is to encourage the typical pattern of suburban sprawl that the RGS was supposed to deter. It is clear that the BC Liberals care very little about sustainability: transit, walkability, greenhouse gas reduction get verbal acknowledgement – mostly PR fluff – but the actual decision making is always based on business as usual. And not even growth based on what we can do, and are doing well. But rather the things that we have always done – which turn out to be both of little economic value and also come with huge environmental costs.

We can see why they wanted to improve the Sea to Sky – it opened up land for development in places where the regional growth plan had been careful to restrict reliance on long distance commuting into Metro Vancouver. The Port Mann Bridge is tolled, and is carrying less traffic than the old bridge as a result, but none of the rest of widened highway #1 is tolled. The Golden Ears opens up Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge in a way that the ferry never could have coped with. The SFPR and now a widened Highway 99 clearly will promote more sprawl in Delta. It is already apparent and will increasingly threaten the ALR. But as we have seen with Site C, the BC Liberals care not at all about the ability to grow our own food, now or in the future. Their treatment of wolves and bears shows how little ecology is understood.

Port expansion and the reliance on LNG are dangerous nonsense. Climate change is the most important challenge we face, but it is also an opportunity to develop new ways of being. The old model of ripping out resources and disposing of waste carelessly cannot continue. But we already have far more of our GDP coming from a new economy that could potentially be supported by renewable resources. We have huge potential for wind, wave, geothermal and solar energy. We do not need Site C – nor is there a viable market now for LNG. We do need to reduce the use of fossil fuel powered single occupant vehicles. We can grow much more of our own food. California is not going to be able to feed itself let alone us. We must protect the ALR and we do need better ways to get around than driving ourselves for every purpose. We know how to do that. Why does Christy Clark not understand any of this and why is she stuck in the 1950’s? And how can we make sure she never gets elected to anything again?

Written by Stephen Rees

January 29, 2016 at 9:53 am

The “Forces of No” are Market Forces

with 4 comments

Christy Clark is worried about the opposition her increasingly inappropriate policy direction has created

“There are people who just say no to everything, and heaven knows there are plenty of those in British Columbia,” said Clark.

Well, she has been pretty good at saying no herself: no to doing something about child poverty, for instance, or funding transit expansion. The real big issue she faces is the one she created for herself by going all in on LNG. The opposition to that is mainly due to local environmental impacts, but what is most likely to stop these projects is the way that demand for LNG has dropped while supplies are flooding on to the market. The prospects for any of the BC proposals being financially viable are somewhere between slim and none. Don’t take my word for it: read this report from The Brattle Group.

increasing competition has significant ramifications for the many LNG export projects now in development across North America and for buyers of LNG that have signed long-term contracts for export capacity from new North American LNG export projects. Many of the proposed projects that are not yet under construction are already facing an uncertain future due to the collapse of global oil and LNG prices. Additionally, the start-up of several new LNG projects in the next few years is likely to result in an over-supplied LNG market. LNG export developers and buyers of LNG that have signed long-term contracts for LNG export capacity are hopeful that the worldwide LNG supply glut is temporary and that market conditions in the post-2020 time frame will improve.

The Brattle Group are not in business just to say No to projects in BC.

And Scotiabank agrees with them, too!

And it is not just that the costs of wind and solar generation are falling, it is also that the problems of storing that power are getting solved too.

“Solar storage will become more competitive as new battery technology drives prices down, and wind storage more attractive as technical advances in areas such as composite materials enables the power generated by wind turbines to increase.”

That report is mainly about how to evaluate batteries, but there are other promising energy storage solutions too – like pumping water uphill, or pumping air into gas bags under a lake. There’s a good summary at The Guardian examining the options, from a UK perspective, of course.

And if the market forces are not convincing enough, there is also the impact of that agreement we signed in Paris to try to reduce global warming to no more than 1.5ºC. The physics of that mean that there cannot be any more new fossil fuel based power generation added by 2018.  It is not just the LNG plants and the pipelines that cannot be built if we are to hit this target.

Well-established science that says global CO2 emissions need to peak and decline before 2020. Wait until after 2020 and the costs of reducing emissions rise rapidly, as does the risk of exceeding 2°C. The 2018 deadline is consistent with this. It just happens to be a more meaningful way of looking at where we stand, and the consequences of the decisions being made today to build a school, a data center, or 10,000 diesel-powered farm tractors.

UPDATE And it would seem that the same Brattle report is inspiring Merran Smith to write about the possible impact of renewables too.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 28, 2016 at 10:05 am

Vast majority of carbon reserves must stay in the ground to meet 1.5C target.

with 13 comments

The current news about the PM and the Mayor of Montreal having meetings about pipelines – and the not public hearings into Kinder Morgan’s desire to exapnd the TransMountain pipeline – both miss the most important point. These things must not be built. They are both designed to increase the use of the tar sands, and thus are not consistent with the undertakings Canada made in Paris. The following is a News Release put out by GreenPeace which I doubt will be printed by much of the mainstream media, so I am putting it here.


Seventy-four North American groups call on the prime minister and premiers to take swift action to meet Canada’s new climate goal.

Vast majority of carbon reserves must stay in the ground to meet 1.5C target.

January 27, 2016

On the eve of a meeting of Canada’s environment ministers in Ottawa to talk about the national climate strategy, 74 organizations – representing millions of people in Canada and the U.S. – sent an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canada’s premiers outlining the steps Canada needs to take to fulfill its international commitment to limit global warming to 1.5 C, as agreed to by 195 countries at the Paris climate summit.

The letter explicitly states that new tar sands pipelines like Energy East and Kinder Morgan cannot be built if Canada is to meet its commitment. Instead, the prime minister and the premiers must work to decarbonize Canada’s economy and speed the rapid uptake of renewables, efficiency and sustainable transportation options.

“Canadian decision makers have the opportunity to be real climate leaders in the clean energy era – but they must accept the science to do it. There is simply no room for major new pipelines in a safe climate future,” says Steven Guilbeault of Équiterre. “The science is demanding we keep the carbon in the ground and start the transition. That is a reality that our premiers and the prime minister need to embrace.”

“We’re reminding the Canadian and provincial governments of the tremendous work that needs to be done for Canada to meet its global climate commitment,” said Mike Hudema, Climate and Energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. “One and a half degrees Celsius is a level vital for the survival of millions of people and the safety of all life on the planet. We don’t have much time to make the transition to 100% renewable energy and we can’t afford to build new pipelines that send us in the opposite direction.”

As the federal and provincial governments collaborate on the design of a new national climate plan in the 90 days following the Paris Agreement, the repositioning of Canada as a global climate leader has never been more important. An ambitious, just, science-based plan aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees will require all provinces and the country to decarbonize their economies and keep the vast majority of remaining carbon reserves in the ground.

“To have a decent chance at limiting global warming to even 2 degrees, 80% of fossil fuel reserves globally must stay in the ground. The 1.5 degree limit requires us to go even further faster,” says Hannah McKinnon of Oil Change International. “This is especially true in a country like Canada that is home to the third largest oil reserves in the world. We cannot lock ourselves into decades more of unwanted pollution by expanding pipelines and production in places like the Alberta tar sands. Instead, we need to move the other way.”

“What we need now is leadership on a pathway towards energy and economic diversification, not more short-sighted attempts to force pipelines across our country – Canadians didn’t stand for it before and we won’t stand for it now,” says Graham Saul, Executive Director of Ecology Ottawa.  “Canada has exceptional opportunities in the clean energy economy. We could completely redefine ourselves as a renewable energy superpower, create tens of thousands of jobs from coast to coast to coast, and show the world what it means to responsibly transition to zero-carbon within a few short decades. This is what will build a strong economy, not saddling ourselves to decades more of last century’s dirty energy.”

The letter concludes with the signatories stating their commitment to working with federal, provincial and municipal governments, along with First Nations, Metis and Inuit leaders and the growing climate movement to meet these challenges and move beyond oil.


The full letter and signatories can be seen here

Written by Stephen Rees

January 27, 2016 at 7:42 am

The Duty Free Swindle

leave a comment »

I have always believed what my father told me. “Just because it says ‘Duty Free’ does not mean it’s Profit Free.” The Guardian has an article that shows how duty free shops in England have been pocketing much of the VAT rebate that people travelling to places outside the EU should be getting.

Practice varies in other countries, but at least many airports now offer free wifi. So if you are whiling away the time and find the Duty Free shop to be a relief from the crowded departure lounge you can at least check on prices back at BC Liquor stores of things you might want to buy. On our last trip back through Kingsford Smith (that is the name of the Sydney International Airport SYD) I was pleasantly surprised to find Australian vintage port. This, of course, is not on offer here. But it was attractively priced compared to what is – and it tastes remarkably good. Equally Dalwhinnie 15 year old single malt was on sale, and at a price for one litre what we pay for 0.75 litre here.

BUT the price of a bottle of alcohol in any retail store is still mostly tax and markups of various kinds. There is some analysis on this page but it is in Euros and is a bit out of date. But the principle holds. There is a direct correlation in the mind of the consumer between quality and price: if it is that cheap, there must be something wrong with it. For many consumer items, price is used as an indicator of quality and this is also the case in Duty Free shops!

As an aside, I do want to praise YVR for changing their policy. At one time, whenever on my way to visit my family in England I was disappointed to find that the shelves in the international terminal duty free shop did not carry BC wines. There was Canadian wine, but it came from the Niagara region of Ontario. That is no longer the case, perhaps because enough people like me complained.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 30, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Posted in Air Travel, airport

Tagged with


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,506 other followers