Friday, July 21, 2017

Victoria Viewpoints: Friday, July 21, 2017

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Provincial scene:

BC Wildfire emergency in Cariboo/Interior

An archive of notes from the BC wildfires 

BC Hydro shuffles leadership as NDP government prepares review of Site C
Vancouver's latest affordable-housing strategy still missed the mark
BC Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald fired
Not too late for LNG projects: B.C. LNG alliance responds to criticism
NDP government pledges to make good on BC Ferries and BC Hydro election promises
Horgan goes headhunting to fire, hire Hydro leader
Severance packages for fired B.C. Liberals cost taxpayers millions
The challenges facing the new cabinet
NDP paying $11.3 million in severance to 133 fired Liberal-linked staffers
BC Hydro president Jessica McDonald fired
B.C. Education Minister suggests using Vancouver's by-election to elect new school board
B.C. NDP government says it will take several months to develop a poverty reduction plan
B.C. state of emergency hits two week mark
B. C. Hydro president and CEO Jessica McDonald fired
B.C. cabinet includes bright minds, but there are political potholes to avoid
Pacific NorthWest LNG project encounters legal hurdle
BC's LNG industry dealt another blow as regulator forced to re-review gas pipeline
Residents near Mount Polley Disaster Fear Time running out for Justice

Ottawa Observations: Friday, July 21, 2017

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Federal scene for Thursday, July 20, 2017

BC Wildfires

Our archive of notes from the weekend can be found here

It's not Jagmeet Singh's turban that's the NDP's problem in Quebec
Free traders of the red states
Trudeau urges opposition to leave 'domestic squabbles' at home
As Conservative Party deputy leader, Lisa Raitt hopes women will 'see themselves' in her
Agriculture ministers reach five-year, $3-billion deal to boost farm sector
Chinese firm expelled from trade association days before takeover of Canadian high-tech company
Illegal border crossings by asylum seekers decline in Manitoba but spike in Quebec
Many Indigenous families not applying for Canada child benefit: documents
Khadr's war crimes appeal could hinge on bin Laden propagandist's case
Pierre Poilievre's golf shirt a faux pas, elections watchdog rules
Judicial watchdog finds no problem with judges attending sponsored cocktail parties
Liberals quash NDP push to question Justin Trudeau on NAFTA
Illegal crossings at Quebec border hit new high, drop in Manitoba
Between the devil and the deep blue sea
Not even Europe's tumult can distract from what's happening in Trump's America
Trudeau slams Conservatives for taking 'domestic squabble' over Khadr to U.S.
Everything you will need to know about income sprinkling an dhow it will affect you
What does it mean to be Canadian? David Johnston knew
Canadian military aircraft have not flow in Syria for weeks: commander
Federal government still battling chronic backlog of appointment vacancies
Angus heads to Singh's backyard in attempt to win support from Muslim community
Justin Trudeau urges opposition to leave 'domestic squabbles' at home
BC's LNG industry dealt another blow as regulator forced to Re-review Gas Pipeline
Pacific Northwest LNG project encounters legal hurdle

City of Prince Rupert clarifies Local Burn Prohibitions

While a Provincial Fire Ban remains in effect across most of British Columbia, the Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue Department has some good news for those within the City of Prince Rupert looking to roast a few hot dogs and marshmallows this weekend and beyond.

In a notice posted to the City of Prince Rupert website today, the City advised that small backyard cooking fires are still permitted within City limits, citing a provision in the regulations that note that municipalities with full-time Fire Departments have the right to set standards within their own communities based on the risks associated with local conditions.

Residents are encouraged to proceed with extreme care and caution and to strictly abide by the fire ban on Provincial lands.

To provide some geographical context to that situation, the City notes that Oliver Lake is within the city limits for Prince Rupert and the cooking fires would be seemingly be allowed there.

However Prudhomme and Diana Lakes, as well as Kloiya Bay are all Provincial lands and still under the provincial fire ban.

In addition to the notice related to the local burn prohibitions, the city also indicated that at the moment fire resources have been redirected to address fires through the rest of the province.

Not indicated in the city's official release is if the City of Prince Rupert has offered assistance to the wildfire efforts in the Cariboo, as other municipalities have done.

(Perhaps a task for Monday for the Communications Department)

With the current emergency situation in the province, a number of Northwest city council's have either sent units to the Cariboo, or put members from their respective department on stand by for use in the fire stricken regions of the province.

Terrace, Thornhill ready to help combat B.C. Wildfires
The Telkwa Fire Department is ready to fight wildfires
Smithers Fire Department to fight wildfires in Cache Creek

More notes related to the Cariboo Wildfires can be found on our archive here.

You can review the city's information release from the City website here.

More notes related to Northwest emergency responders can be found on our archive page here.

Further background on City Council can be found on our Council Discussion archive page

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

City Council to consider expropriation of Watson Island land

Watson Island is back in the news and back on City Council's agenda
for their only Council session this Monday

Another twist in the Watson Island story will be revealed at Monday's upcoming City Council session, with the City Manager, Robert Long set to deliver a report related to the proposed expropriation of lands related to Watson Island.

In his 28 page documentation for Council, which includes a number of attachments, Mr. Long recounts the City's filing of an expropriation Notice for an area on Watson Island known as Lot 4, which is owned by Sun Wave Forest Products Ltd.

Documentation from a City report on plans
for expropriation of land on Watson Island

A map from the City report that makes note
of the land slated for expropriation on Watson Island

The City Manager's report for Council, also provides the revelation that on May 5th, Sun Wave had served a Notice of Request for Inquiry, with the forestry company alleging that the proposed expropriation by the City was not necessary to achieve the objectives of the City; or that the City's objectives could be met using other portions of Watson Island, a smaller portion of the western portion of Lot 4 or taking less than fee simple interest, such as a leasehold statutory right of way.

From Mr. Long's review for Council, we also now learn that the requested public inquiry took place in Vancouver on June 13, 28 and 29th, with Ms. Corrine Bomben, CFO and Deputy City Manager and Treasurer of Prince Rupert Legacy Incorporated presenting evidence at the Inquiry on behalf of the City.

The result of the inquiry was delivered on July 13th.

On that date, Alan Hincks, who was appointed by the Province of BC to serve as Inquiry Officer under the Expropriation Act delivered his recommendation that the City approve the proposed expropriation subject to an exclusion of the PNG statutory right of way that is found on the Watson Island property.

The conclusion from an Inquiry into plans for expropriation
by the City of land on Watson Island

As Mr. Long's report notes, under the Expropriation Act, City Council, as the approving authority, must consider the Inquiry Report and either approve, approve with modifications, or reject the expropriation and must serve his or her decision, with written reasons, on every participant and every owner of the land expropriated within thirty days of receiving the July 13th 2017 Inquiry report, that deadline is listed as August 11, 2017.

The report to Council, which is now available on the City website (see the Regular Council Agenda for Monday, July 24, page 13) will come with three recommendations for Council to review on Monday evening:

That Council accept the recommendation of the Inquiry Officer

That Council amend the Expropriation Notice to exclude the PNG Statutory Right ofWay

That Council approve the expropriation of a fee simple interest in Lot 4, excepting the PNG Statutory Right of Way. 

The report also provides some extensive history on the City's efforts related to Watson Island and what plans they have for the Lot 4 area.  

Among some of the notes related to the industrial site and the area under review:

A plan of Watson Island is attached as Attachment E. Lot 4 consists of two parts that are separated by the CN rail line, a triangular portion on the waterfront and a rectangular portion upland of the CN line. The triangular portion of Lot 4 has a dock that is at the end of its service life, rail spurs, and a portion of road that navigates all the way around the perimeter of the Island. Watson Island only has two crossings over the CN line to access the waterfront, one of which leads to the road on Lot 4, which is now private property and not accessible by the City. 

On the rectangular portion, there is a large hog fuel pile that covers a large portion of the rectangular portion ofLot 4 and crosses the boundary onto the adjacent City lands. To make more efficient use of the lands, the hog fuel pile should be moved. 

 In order to redevelop Watson Island, it is anticipated that the City will consolidate Lot 4 and then subdivide the Island into parcels that support the needs of future tenants. 

The City needs a fee simple interest in Lot 4 to be able to accomplish this. There is no present plan to lease any portion of Lot4. The City will maintain control of this access to the waterfront and rail area. 

The full scope of those plans for Watson Island can be found on pages 14 to 17 of Mr. Long's report.

Ms. Bomben's comments for the inquiry also offered up some notes on the current status of the city's ambitions for Watson Island.

In cross-examination, Ms. Bomben acknowledged that there was or were: no report or study in relation to the use of Watson Island for import/export  terminal operations 

No plan for consolidation or subdivision of lands on Watson Island

No tenants for land on Watson Island; 

No business plan for the redevelopment of Watson Island; 

No estimate of revenue from the redevelopment of Watson Island; 

No determination of the take-up rate or costs (other than for the cost of rail lines). 

Also in cross--examination, Ms. Bomben testified that the City's costs of redeveloping Watson Island (and the expropriation itself) were not in the City's 5 year plan - although in re-examination she testified that the plan could be amended once the costs were known. 

Some telling comments related to the City's relationship with Sun Wave come from Ms. Bomben's testimony to the inquiry which  is  found on pages 30 to 45, with the City's Financial Officer providing the city's background on pages 32 to 36

Part of her presentation as part of the Inquiry process noted:

Ms. Bomben testified that the City wishes to acquire a fee simple interest in Lot 4 for a number of reasons including flexibility, control and security. She also stated that given the history of dealings between the City and Sun Wave, the City did not wish to have to deal with Sun Wave as a landowner on an ongoing basis.

One final observation from Mr. Long's report comes towards the end of the document and provides a sample of some of the frustration that the ongoing dispute with Sun Wave has provided for. 

Further, it is preferable for the City not to be involved in a long term relationship with Sun Wave, given its history of litigation. Sun Wave has a history of non-responsiveness and requiring the City to take steps to enforce agreements through Arbitration and in Court. Therefore, a leasehold interest is not a feasible option.

Council will review the report, offer up any comments that they may have on the issue and then make their decision related to the recommendations from the City Manager, all as part of their only City Council session for July taking place on Monday.

For more notes related to the ongoing story of Watson Island see our archive page here.

Further background related to Legacy Corporation files can be reviewed here, while City Council issues can be found on our City Council Discussion page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

NEB report notes that next several years critical for Canada's LNG ambitions

A late entry by Canada into the LNG sweepstakes means that the next several years are going to be critical towards any development of a Canadian LNG industry, that is the main thrust of a new report from the National Energy Board.

The NEB which oversees the Canadian energy sector released its report "Canada's role in the Global LNG market" with the document exploring the fast changing LNG market dynamics, including the shifting nature of pricing towards the lower end of the spectrum and the increased level of global competition in the development of the industry.

The report traces some of Canada's past history in the development of LNG and the shipment of the resource from Canadian ports, noting that to this date there is only one facility in the nation that can handle LNG, and that facility, the Canaport LNG terminal located in New Brunswick is actually one that imports gas from North Sea and the Caribbean for use in Atlantic Canada.

As for the prospects of Canada becoming a global exporter, the NEB report traces the recent export plans for British Columbia, with the majority of the proposed terminal locations set for the North Coast.

The report makes note of the prime location for those terminals providing access to Asian markets for the gas resources of Northeast BC and Alberta.

There are more proposed LNG projects on the West Coast than on the East Coast. This is because there is significant gas supply in northeast B.C. and Alberta and many of the largest LNG project proponents are also gas producers in western Canada aiming to maximize the value of their producing assets by seeking alternate markets. 

 Secondly, the West Coast is a shorter distance to the primary target market of Asia. Consistent with this, many proposed Canadian LNG projects have investors from countries such as Japan, Korea, China, and India. Some of these Asian proponents have already entered into long-term contracts with their project partners to buy a portion of the Canadian-produced LNG.

The report also notes that not all of the proposed LNG projects are likely to be built and acknowledges how despite regulatory approvals, most proponents are waiting for market conditions and project economies to improve before issuing any final investment decisions.

The report also explores how the US and Global industry has grown and the challenges that those recent development pose for the still incubating Canadian industry.

As for the forecast for the Canadian industry, the final section of the report offers up a checklist of sorts of the Advantages, Challenges and Uncertainties that the Canadian industry faces.

Advantages -- proximity to prolific gas supplies, low cost production, proximity to overseas markets, Government LNG tax incentives

Challenges -- Historically low global natural gas prices and ample global supply, competition from Asia Pacific sources for potential Canadian markets

Uncertainties -- Lack of final investment decisions, LNG project economics, role of natural gas in addressing global climate change concerns.

To this point, there has been only one major project in the Prince Rupert area that has seen any forward momentum, with the Pacific NorthWest LNG project having received Federal approval in September of 2016.

Petronas, the Malaysian energy giant which is the parent company for Pacific NorthWest LNG is still working through its internal review process, with little information released by the company since September as to when a Final Investment Decision  will be made and if the much discussed go ahead for the project may be made.

The report did not explore the role of politics in the future of Canada's still developing LNG industry, the recent change of government in Victoria could also be one area that could best be listed under Uncertainties.

How Premier John Horgan addresses the issue of LNG development, while seeking to continue to hold the support of Green Leader Andrew Weaver and his two MLA"s in the Legislature may be a wild card when it comes to how the new NDP government will approach LNG proposals in the province.

You can review the full report from the NEB here.

The latest notes on the many proposed LNG projects for the North Coast can be reviewed from our LNG archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Busy first few days for Jennifer Rice as BC's wildfire battles continue

Premier Horgan, Solicitor General
Mike Farnworth and Parliamentary
Secretary for Emergency Preparedness
Jennifer Rice during an update
on the BC wildfire situation
Right from the get go, the work on the government side of the Legislature is making for some busy days for North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice.

Ms Rice, who was recently named Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness, has been quickly put to work assisting with the government response to the BC Wildfire concerns in the Cariboo and areas of the Okanagan.

Ms. Rice and her government colleagues were in Kamloops earlier this week to get an assessment of the fires and the response from area communities for those that have been evacuated.

NDP cabinet ministers visit Kamloops, stress wildfires remain number on priority
More military on the move into wildfire zones

Thursday,  the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth outlined some of the latest moves that the province has taken in response to the Wildfires.

He took note that additional support has now been put in place with a further deployment of members of the Canadian Armed Forces arriving in the Williams Lake area to help assist the RCMP in securing evacuated areas of the Highway 97 corridor.

Military sends extra help for exhausted police officers dealing with B.C wildfires
Soldiers from Edmonton head for fire zone
225 Canadian Armed Forces members headed to B.C.
Military arriving in BC today to aid in Wildfire efforts
More Canadian Forces deployed to Williams Lake to assist RCMP in Emergency Efforts

On Wednesday, the new Parliamentary Secretary posted some of the comments from Premier Horgan to her Facebook page, who provided further background on the province's response.

As for Ms. Rice, her work will continue on into the weekend as she, the Solicitor General and Forests Minister Doug Donaldson meet with federal ministers to review the federal response to date and where additional support may be required.

You can review the status of the ongoing work to quell the Wildfires from our archive page here.

More notes on the work of the North Coast MLA at the Legislature is available from our Legislature archive here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Delays ahead for Pacific NorthWest LNG project as National Energy Board receives court order to examine PRGT pipeline route

The NEB has been ordered by a
Federal Court of Appeal to review
its findings on jurisdiction for the
Prince Rupert Gas Transmission line
which would bring natural gas to a
proposed LNG terminal at Lelu Island
Another hurdle has been put in the path of the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG project as the National Energy Board has been instructed to re-examine the jurisdiction of the pipeline, and whether it should be federal as opposed to provincial.

The pipeline route, known as the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission line would supply the proposed LNG terminal at Lelu Island with natural gas from Northeastern British Columbia's resource fields.

The court order, released on Wednesday, comes as a part of a 28 page judgment from Justice Donald Rennie and in part comes from the efforts of a Smithers environmentalist who has long been opposed to the proposed pipeline and LNG terminal in Prince Rupert.

Mike Sawyer, who received funding from the Skeena Wild Conservation Trust in the Smithers region had asked the NEB during a 2015 hearing to conduct a full hearing related to the jurisdiction of the pipeline and whether it should fall to federal rather than provincial overview.

The NEB rejected that 2015 request setting the stage for the legal challenge and results delivered on Thursday.

Two elements of the decision highlight how the Court viewed the challenge and where the NEB failed to meet the test of oversight.

(74) The Board did not ask itself whether an arguable case for federal jurisdiction had been made out. Rather, it imposed a burden of persuasion on the appellant that it did not have and it engaged in a weighing of evidence on the merits. It made three errors in its application of paragraph 92(10)(a). It did not apply the required constitutional test of functional integration, and it assumed that a project that was different could not be functionally integrated as part of the undertaking as a whole.  

(75) The Board then looked at factors which might displace a prima facie case and, in the course of which, it took into account a constitutionally irrelevant factor—the business arrangement—and it ignored a vast amount of evidence with respect to the management and control test integral to the constitutional analysis.

You can review the full judgment document here.

Following the court order, the NEB advised that it is reviewing the court decision and would consider its next steps.

TransCanada pipeline has sixty days to apply for leave to appeal on the ruling should they wish, the national pipeline company has not issued any comments to this point related to the Court order of Wednesday.

It's unknown to this point as to what impact the delay will have on the Malaysian energy company Petronas, which is currently reviewing its proposal for the Lelu Island development before making a Final Investment Decision.

Some background on Thursday's shift in direction for the LNG story can be reviewed below:

Judge rules that NEB must reconsider B.C. natural gas pipeline jurisdiction
Court orders NEB to examine proposed TransCanada pipeline's Jurisdiction
Pacific NorthWest LNG hits road block as Gas Pipeline Sent back to National Energy Board by Federal Court
TransCanada's Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project faces another hurdle

The court action of Thursday, was just one of a number of court challenges that have been put in motion since the September 2016 approval of the project.

More notes on the Pacific Northwest LNG proposal can be found on our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review