Archive for April 2016
The following items arrived in my inbox today from Greg Knox of skeenawild.org
Instead of trying to convert the pdf documents into text that is then pasted into the blog engine, I am posting them as pdf files which you can either download or read in many browsers.
The issue is the proposed construction of an LNG terminal on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert: I got the map from fisherynation.com
Transportation Minister Todd Stone did a presentation recently to the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. The government then put out the following Fact Sheet
I must admit that when I read it I became almost incoherent with rage. I think Myth #3 is the one that really did it for me. But then I have written more often about induced traffic more than any other topic I think. Seems that way to me. But fortunately I have found a fresh voice on these issues.
I am not going to take credit for the following letter to the editor which has been submitted by N. Herman of Richmond. He has generously allowed me to publish it here in case the mainstream media decide to ignore it.
No one disagrees that the Massey Tunnel is a traffic bottleneck. In many respects however, choosing the right solution can be a “life or death” proposition.
To replace the Massey Tunnel with a bridge has been a questionable proposition recently, and in fact (not a “myth”), it contradicts the same provincial governments own previous, public decision to add another tunnel. And make no mistake, the bridge is huge, in fact (not a “myth”), it will be the biggest bridge of its kind in North America. Think you are going to enjoy a quiet summer BBQ in the backyard ? How about a quiet night’s sleep? Aside from diesel particulate and other pollution blown down on your property, the din of bridge traffic noise, elevated above the river, may be heard miles into Richmond and Delta, and it will be relentless, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Stability of the bridge? It will be built in an area that is proven to have the highest risk of liquefaction during an earthquake. Think the “Fast Ferries” were a disaster? This liquefaction risk alone could turn $3.5 billion into worthless rubble in minutes. Has the provincial government completed its soil analysis ? Of course not, but its already spending your hard earned taxpayer money installing pilings.
We should also be clear that the real purpose of the bridge is to allow massive ocean going freighters to ship carbon based fuels on the Fraser River, which they cannot get access to now because of the tunnel. And contrary to Minister Stone, it is not a “myth” that the Port of Metro Vancouver repeatedly petitioned the provincial government to raise the bridge for this purpose. And what of those fuels? First we have LNG. Not a “myth” as claimed by Minister Stone, did you know that placing an LNG plant so close to a populated area is actually illegal in the United States due to EPA safety rules? If any LNG is spilled on the Fraser, the explosion radius can be measured in miles. If the USA has made it illegal, and it is against international industry regulations, why is the provincial government putting your life and the lives of your loved ones at risk?
And what about coal? Well as it turns out, it’s not even Canadian coal. The coal will be shipped from Wyoming in the United States. Again ask yourself “why” when Seattle and Portland both have good ports. Again, the answer is simple. Coal dust is carcinogenic: coal trans-shipment is banned in both those states. It’s not a “myth” that Premier Clark and Transportation Minister Stone seem to think its “a-ok” to put your life at risk doing something that is so dangerous, that it’s illegal in the USA. It currently appears that the Port further intents to pave over 2,500 acres of the Gilmore Farm right beside Steveston Highway in Richmond. So much for healthy local food.
[moderator: the location and size of the Gilmore Farm is the subject of some questions on another forum where Harold Steves clarifies: “The Gilmore Farm in East Richmond was bought by the port for port expansion. It is about 218 acres not 2,500. The Gilmore Estates is 324 acres south of Steveston Highway and has nothing to do with the port. Port Metro Vancouver wants 2,500 acres for port expansion and the Gilmore Farm is part of it.” ]
Then we have an expanded “jet fuel” tanker farm near the #6 Road entertainment complex, serviced by barges. So let’s ask ourselves what pervasive reason exists to use barges instead of just pumping the fuel from the Cherry Point refinery in Washington State? Again, it is a task of looking behind the real “myth” perpetrated by the provincial government. The moment fuel enters a pipe at the refinery, it must be paid for. When shipped by barges, it is not paid for until off-loaded. This allows the Airport consortium to therefore play the commodities market on fuel, which can amount to millions of dollars of profit a year. With no on-site personnel, and no dedicated fire station, how long do you think it will take for a disaster such as a massive firestorm to occur while they profit from playing the markets? Again, call your Liberal MLA and ask them why they think that’s ”a-ok” for the government to put our lives at risk.
The fact, not a “myth” is that Premier Clark, Transportation Minister Stone and the Port of Metro Vancouver have all flown to Ottawa to advocate for a project that according to a recent FOI request has zero documentation for a business case. Perhaps it was “triple deleted” or “verbal only”? Whatever happened to the provincial government’s pledge of honest disclosure and transparency? If a bridge is such a good idea, where is the report? Where is the independent environmental review”, and why should that even be an issue to them, if the idea is so good? The Mayors Council is demanding that the provincial government “come clean”, and stop this cynical illusion of public consultation that ridicules the publics intelligence with publicity stunts like the ” Debunking the Myths ” presentation that Minister Todd Stone tried to sell last week. Two pre- vetted “questions” were asked at the end of his presentation, and then he disappears faster than a magician.
People are “fed-up” of the government playing fast and loose with the truth. As the Transit Tax referendum results demonstrated, people are “done” with wasted tax dollars spent on pet projects to feed a political ego. The public is also “done” with false statements made regarding a bridge proposal with purported “massive public support” when investigative reporter Vaughn Palmer discovers that of 1,000 “consultations” only 140 were in support. This is as troubling as the Richmond Chamber of Commerce claiming “a majority of Richmond businesses support the bridge option” when they do not represent all businesses in Richmond, and another investigation reveals that in fact (not “myth”) over 80% of their members never even voted on the survey. Does every Mayor in the province realize that their own city’s budget for infrastructure has been slashed by 1/3 by the provincial government in order to build this one bridge? If not, they should be writing the Premier.
It is time to revisit the previous transit plan that Minister Kevin Falcon had developed that built a solid business case for an additional tunnel, and admit that a bridge has never been the best solution to relieve Massey tunnel traffic congestion. An expanded tunnel would economically, and with minimal environmental impact, allow for better traffic movement and an expanded rapid transit corridor.
The Province needs to listen and learn from the Metro Vancouver governments who are strongly united in their opposition to a bridge for good reason, and learn from them how best to create a transit corridor that will move us forward in a modern and effective way. The only real “myth” right now is the provincial government has been transparent and open. Enough of the Todd Stone flim-flam, and waste of our hard earned tax dollars.
Enough with unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats destroying the world heritage Fraser River with dangerous, life threatening over-industrialization that is illegal in other parts of North America. its time for citizens to take control of this foolishness before living in Richmond or Delta becomes a “life and death” situation.
Postscript : New Westminster Councillor Patrick Johnstone has now published a comprehensive debunking of the Ten Myths “Fact Sheet” on his blog – which in itself is well worth following
I came across this story by clicking on link bait “Something else Donald Trump is wrong about” on Vox. But I decided not to simply retweet that, firstly because we have all seen far too much about that fake tan monster and secondly this is important in both a Canadian and a BC context. (And I thought the people I wanted to reach might be less interested in that attention grabbing headline – “here’s some good news about the planet” seemed better to me!)
The Sarah Palin of BC politics currently occupying the premier’s chair is convinced that LNG is both an economic saviour and a way to reduce GHG emissions. It is, of course, neither.
Our newly elected Liberal government in Ottawa – elected on promises to reduce GHG and committing in Paris to hold global warming below 1.5℃ – is now wavering. Not only because they allowed the Woodfibre LNG plant to go ahead, despite the very obvious shortcomings of the current (i.e. previous Conservative, Harper driven) EA process. But also because of the re-election of Brad Wall, which was obviously what Catherine McKenna must have been worried about when she started talking about national unity as being more important than the survival of life on earth.
So what Vox did was reprint a table from the World Resources Institute which shows that 21 countries have managed to reduce their GHG since 2000 while at the same time as increasing their GDP.
By the way, the stated reduction in US emissions is has been shown to be wrong, mostly because of the way they have counted methane.
You will notice, of course, that Canada is not among them. BC, of course, had been following a somewhat different track thanks to its adoption of the carbon tax. But that progress has been slowing, as the carbon tax has been stalled, and so much attention is now devoted to exporting fracked gas. Not only is the market for LNG now swamped, so that finding a customer for BC LNG will not be easy despite our generous tax and royalty regimes, but the way that methane leakage from fracking and LNG processing is measured has been updated with better data to show that it has little advantage over coal in reducing GHG.
There is no one answer to how this decoupling has been achieved – but there are some useful pointers in the article you just have to scroll down below that big table. But also there is, in BC, at present, a really good analysis of just how BC can improve its performance. And if you suppose that it might just be possible that none of the proposed LNG plants actually get built, and we elect a government in BC that is actually serious about reducing both CO2 and CH4 emissions – as opposed to just taking credit for past success – then progress does actually seem possible. Although if we try to do both, it’s very unlikely.
At the time of writing, there is still time to make yourself heard as part of the consultation on the BC Climate Leadership Plan. But even so, the table above ought to enough to silence the people who keep talking about growing the economy and saving the environment as though they were at odds with each other.
UPDATE From The Tyee interview with Nancy Oreskes, Harvard climate professor and co-author of Merchants of Doubt
Oreskes said Canada cannot seriously address climate change while also building more giant pipelines to deliver Alberta’s oil sands bitumen or British Columbia’s fracked natural gas to proposed export terminals on both coasts.
“If Trudeau can say we’re going to do all these things,” she said, “that says to me that they have not truly assimilated what is at stake here.”
Trudeau raised eyebrows when he told a Vancouver sustainable business summit last month that “the choice between pipelines and wind turbines is a false one. We need both to reach our [climate] goal.”
B.C. Premier Christy Clark similarly promotes liquefied natural gas as a climate solution: a “bridge fuel” to help China get off dirty coal power.
Oreskes called their positions dangerously “wishful thinking.”
There is a story today in the Vancouver Observer which brings to an end the sorry tale of the many small businesses that failed due to the cut and cover construction of the Canada Line under Cambie Street. Some of these merchants will be able to recover a little of the money they lost as compensation is limited to “injury to their leases”. Not nearly enough, and far too late, but mostly due to the intransigence of the constructors. And, of course, the province of BC though they were not named in the suit but they are in my blog post. I did try to document what was happening and some of the outcome. But you might find the Siskinds Law Firm a bit more authoritative on the Canadian law.
To claim compensation, former merchants and landlords affected by the Canada Line construction are urged to contact the Cambie Village Business Association before May 1, 2016, as the deadline for filing with the Court is May 31, 2016.
And, as most people know, winning a legal case is not the same thing as getting justice. My impression is that there are other places who deal with such cases in a more generous fashion, but perhaps that is going to require more historic research, as the world has steadily become less concerned about the people in general as opposed to the very few People Who Matter.
I thought I wrote more about this – as I also thought it would be easy to find better examples. But then maybe I am using the wrong search terms or the wrong search engine.
Metro Vancouver calls for a Federal Environmental Assessment of the Massey Tunnel Replacement Project
The following is the text of the letter approved by the Metro Vancouver Board today
Planning, Policy and Environment
Tel. 604.432.6350 Fax 604.432‐6296
The Honourable Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change
200 Sacré‐Coeur Boulevard
Gatineau, QC K1A 0H3
Re: Request for a Federal Environmental Assessment of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project
On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Greater Vancouver Regional District (‘Metro Vancouver’), I am writing to advise that at its April 1, 2016 regular meeting, the Board adopted the following resolution:
That the GVRD Board send a letter to the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change requesting that the Minister, pursuant to section 14(2) of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, order a federal environmental assessment of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project.
Metro Vancouver is the regional government for the southwest region of British Columbia and is comprised of 21 municipalities, 1 electoral area, and 1 Treaty First Nation. We provide regional planning, regional utilities (including liquid waste, solid waste, and drinking water), and political leadership to a total population base of approximately 2.4 million in the greater Vancouver area.
Given our broad responsibilities in delivering regional services and in protecting the ongoing livability of this region, our Board is requesting a federal environmental assessment of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project. We are requesting that a federal environmental assessment be referred to a review panel on which Metro Vancouver and other key stakeholder groups would have an
opportunity to participate.
Federal Environmental Assessment Review Request
Metro Vancouver’s specific concerns with respect to the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project are related to our legislative responsibilities in the areas of regional growth management and planning, air quality and climate change, environment, regional parks, and regional utilities.
The Province of British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s proposal to replace the existing George Massey tunnel with a 10‐lane tolled bridge has the potential to cause significant adverse environmental effects. Potential impacts include:
1. Changes to Regional Transportation Patterns which Affect Regional Growth Management.
Although two lanes of the 10‐lane tolled bridge are to be dedicated transit/HOV lanes, the project as a whole represents a major ($3.5 billion) expansion of car‐oriented infrastructure.
If implemented, it will create growth pressures that may impede the realization of Metro 2040: Shaping our Future, the regional growth strategy, which promotes compact, transit oriented development patterns, the efficient use of land, and an efficient transportation network.
The potential impacts of this project on surrounding agricultural land, which the regional growth strategy strives to protect, and the potential to shift traffic congestion to adjacent communities, are of particular concern.
Transportation decisions and future land use are inextricably linked and have direct and far reaching effects on the environment. These decisions will influence, if not determine, whether human settlement patterns are compact or sprawling. A project of this magnitude requires an understanding of its impacts on future growth in the region to determine its potential to cause significant adverse environmental effects.
2. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change
Metro Vancouver and its member municipalities are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and taking action on climate change. Metro 2040: Shaping our Future, the regional growth strategy, encourages land use and transportation infrastructure that reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and improve air quality. It contains strategies to help Metro Vancouver and member municipalities prepare for, and mitigate risks from, climate change. In addition, municipal official community plans include provincially mandated greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Project Definition Report for the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project anticipates lower idling‐related greenhouse gas emissions, but contains no information related to the potential greenhouse gas emissions that will result from the project as a whole, which may be significant. The Project Definition Report omits any mention of climate change.
Through the Province of British Columbia’s environmental assessment review process thus far, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has committed to an evaluation of potential project‐related changes in greenhouse gas emissions, but only in response to the demands of stakeholders. With respect to climate change specifically, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has indicated it will examine how climate change may impact its project, but will not consider the potential contribution of the project to climate change.
The potential for this project to increase greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to climate change is of concern given the commitments of local, provincial, and federal governments to address climate change impacts. Minimal information is provided on the potential long‐term significant adverse environmental effects related to greenhouse gas emissions and therefore, this project requires a more thorough evaluation on these impacts.
The Fraser River estuary is the single most important area of aquatic bird and raptor habitat in British Columbia. The intertidal marshes found in the estuary provide critical rearing areas for juvenile salmon. Metro Vancouver has a legislative responsibility to consider the regional and cumulative impacts of projects on the region’s ecology.
In addition, the current George Massey tunnel and the proposed new bridge bisect Metro Vancouver’s Deas Island Regional Park, having a direct impact on habitat for which Metro Vancouver is the public steward.
A federal environmental review would, we hope, involve a more comprehensive and complete look at the Fraser River estuary than the current provincial environmental review entails. The public concerns related to the potential significant adverse environmental effects on the Fraser River and the Park, in our opinion, necessitate a federal environmental review.
Metro Vancouver believes that the concerns raised in this letter highlight the potential for significant adverse environmental effects and, in Metro Vancouver’s view, provide a compelling case for a federal environmental review. Metro Vancouver therefore respectfully requests you use your discretion, pursuant to section 14(2) of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, to order a federal environmental assessment of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project. Metro Vancouver requests, as well, that you consider referring the federal environmental assessment to a review panel on which key stakeholder groups, including Metro Vancouver itself, would have an opportunity to participate.
Thank you for your consideration of these requests.
Chair, Metro Vancouver Board
cc: The Honourable Mary Polak, BC Minister of Environment
The Honourable Todd Stone, BC Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure
UPDATE to which should be added
From: Eliza Olson [*******]
Sent: Saturday, April 02, 2016 3:23 PM
To: ‘firstname.lastname@example.org‘ <email@example.com>
Cc: ‘firstname.lastname@example.org‘ <email@example.com>
Subject: Attention: Greg Moore, letter to Hon. Min. McKenna
Greg Moore, Chair Metro Vancouver Board,
Congratulations on a very insightful letter sent to the Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, requesting a Federal Environmental Assessment of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project.
Under Section 3 Habitat, there is no mention of the potential impact of the replacement of the tunnel on the Fraser Delta Ramsar Site, No. 243, specifically the South Arm Marsh.
In 2012, the Fraser Delta Ramsar site was proclaimed. This is an international designation bestowed upon wetlands of international importance at the request of the originating country. This includes all levels of government within that country. In the case of the Fraser Delta Ramsar Site, the request began with the Corporation of Delta, then Metro Vancouver, the BC Government and finally the Federal Government.
I am bringing this to you attention because it appears that since the great celebration that took place in 2012 that the moral obligations that go with asking and accepting the Ramsar designation of the Fraser River Delta as a “wetland of international importance” appears to be forgotten.
Failure to honour our international obligations regarding the Fraser Delta Ramsar Site No. 243, regardless how unintended, can bring dishonour to all levels of government.
The following wetland areas included in the Fraser Delta Ramsar Site No. 243, are Alaksen, Burns Bog, Boundary Bay, Serpentine, South Arm Marsh and Sturgeon Bank.
I am sure that this was not the intention of your letter. I am bringing this to your attention as a humble servant.
Eliza Olson, LLD., B.Ed
Burns Bog Conservation Society
Did you know that an area of peatland the size of a soccer field stores the equivalent of CO2 that your car produces going around the world 3 times? Help us save our peatlands. Give today. www.burnsbog.org