Sunday, September 30, 2007

We'll be right back after this short commercial message Sept 30

The chase, is it more rewarding than the catch?

It may be light cola, but perhaps there still is a bit too much sugar here.

Concerns over BC Ferries safety policies and secrecy continue

The Globe and Mail ran an expansive four page piece over the weekend, exploring ongoing concerns about the safety of the two remaining vessels with single compartment hull construction.

Justine Hunter examined a number of points about the BC Ferry fleet and how they and Transport Canada are handling the issues about safety on the waters off the West coast.

Concerns continue to be raised about the state safety of both the the Queen of Prince Rupert and the Queen of Chilliwack, sister ships to the ill fated Queen of the North which sank off of Gil Island last year.

An ominous report has been rediscovered from 1998 which stated: "I feel very strongly that we should not be sailing this vessel in her present state."

It reviews the concerns of the day about the stability of the vessels and seems to forecast the worst possible scenario that took place eight years later off of coastal British Columbia.

Since that time, the Globe reports that the Ferry Corporation never acted on the key recommendation of the 1998 report and how Transport Canada continues to certify the two ships in question for service, all the while as it was drafting new regulations to improve their safety. Those regulations are to take effect this week, but there is a five year grace period planned before there is a need to bring existing vessels up to standard.

Even more interesting is the the sense of secrecy that has Hunter discovered since the Ferry corporation changed from a public to a semi private operation: "Since the former Crown corporation became a quasi-private enterprise in 2003, the company will not release its regular safety audits. And while it does publicly report on major accidents, there is no public access to details of the hundreds of minor incidents that occur each year."

Hunter provides a fascinating piece, comprehensive in detail about not only the BC Ferry system but that of our neighbours on the west coast and the operators of Atlantic Canada ferry systems.

It examines every aspect of how the ferry corporation and Transport go about their business. Many of the details unearthed by the Globe will no doubt be mentioned frequently by those that continue to be concerned about the state of the Ferry fleet not only along the North coast, but in the province as a whole.

Design of two ferries under scrutiny
Ships have same structure that prompted warnings about Queen of the North years before it sank

Globe and Mail
September 29, 2007

VICTORIA -- The striking image shows the passenger ferry Queen of the North capsized, a chilling warning of the potential for a huge loss of life.

But it's not 2006; it's 1998. The "what-if" scenario was produced by marine engineering consultants who studied the stability of the ship in case of an accident. The analysis, obtained by The Globe and Mail, was delivered to the vessel's owner, B.C. Ferries, to prompt safety upgrades.

"I feel very strongly that we should not be sailing this vessel in her present state," the marine engineer who commissioned the report warned his bosses at B.C. Ferries at the time.
But the company did not follow the key recommendation and the 1998 report languished.
And Transport Canada continues to certify the ships while it drafts new regulations to improve their safety.

Now, with a final report on the Queen of the North's fatal 2006 sinking expected as early as next week, the safety of two other B.C. Ferries ships - the Queen of Prince Rupert and the Queen of Chilliwack - which also have a single-compartment hull construction, is being called into question.

The Transportation Safety Board is set to deliver its findings on the Queen of the North next month, in a report that will shed light not only on the 2006 accident, but on how the ferry service that moves 22 million people every year manages risk.

The Queen of the North was vulnerable to disaster because it had an outdated hull design, according to the 1998 risk analysis by S.H.M. Marine International, a Victoria marine engineering firm.

The analysis concluded that with a brisk wind, the Queen of the North could easily capsize in an accident with a significant hull breach and just minutes or seconds would be available for emergency response.

"The existing ship, when launching lifeboats and life rafts in a 22-knot wind, possesses no or dangerously inadequate stability," the report said.

The report called for the addition of external buoyancy devices called sponsons, but they were never added.

The April, 1998, safety report, with its graphics showing disaster scenarios in vivid red, was left to collect dust in B.C. Ferries' archives. The company says it did make other structural upgrades to the ship in response to the report, but over all it maintains that its ships are safe because they meet the regulatory requirements of Transport Canada.

But regulations, modern navigational equipment and safety management failed to prevent the unthinkable in the early hours of March 22, 2006, when the Queen of the North rammed into an island and sank to the ocean floor.

While the ship did not capsize, it sank too quickly to save everyone on board. Two people are missing and presumed drowned. And the accident could have been far, far worse.
The collision occurred in calm seas, and only 101 people were on board - far from the ship's capacity of 650 - putting less strain on rescue resources.

"They were lucky," said Robert Beadell, a marine engineer who spent six years at B.C. Ferries as a safety expert. He commissioned the S.H.M. Marine report and later quit in frustration over B.C. Ferries' approach to risk management.

Mr. Beadell argues that the sinking highlights a crucial flaw in B.C. Ferries' safety regime. By relying on regulatory compliance and not exceeding federal standards, the company is taking unnecessary risks, he said, citing its decision to continue using the two vessels with single-compartment hulls despite concerns.

"The Queen of the North was vulnerable and they knew that. The Queen of Prince Rupert and the Queen of Chilliwack are also single-compartment vessels and it's strange to me the other shoe hasn't dropped yet," Mr. Beadell said in an interview.

The single-compartment hull refers to a safety standard that if one watertight compartment is flooded, a vessel should remain afloat and stable long enough to evacuate.

Ferry disasters in Europe, such as the one in which the Herald of Free Enterprise capsized near Belgium in 1987, killing 193 passengers and crew, led to new regulations restricting such vessels in European waters.

But Transport Canada, which has spent more than a decade drafting new regulations to improve the safety of one-compartment passenger ferries, continues to certify the ships in domestic waters.

"We at Transport Canada are late at putting this standard into place because of the further consultation with smaller passenger vessel operators," said Victor Santos-Pedro, director of design equipment and boating safety in the Marine Safety Directorate of Transport Canada. "We wanted to put it in place earlier."

That consultation is finished, for now, and new regulations will take effect on Oct. 1. Still, Canadian ferry operators will have up to five years to bring existing vessels up to standard.
For B.C. Ferries, it will mean the end of the line for the two remaining single-compartment vessels. Instead of installing sponsons to improve stability, B.C. Ferries will retire the Queen of Prince Rupert in 2009 and the Queen of Chilliwack in 2012.

Mike Corrigan, B.C. Ferries chief operating officer, said the sponsons haven't been added because the regulations do not yet require them.

So why are the two ships, which run on some of B.C. Ferries' most challenging routes, considered safe now but will not be good enough in 2012?

"We're replacing the systems as quickly as we possibly can; we've identified the need to replace the vessels," Mr. Corrigan said, adding: "They always were and still are in full compliance with Transport Canada safety regulations."

The Queen of the North was certified by Transport Canada but that didn't comfort Mr. Beadell, the former head of B.C. Ferries' international safety management program.

"We have spent the last three years telling the fleet that safety is our No. 1 priority, but apparently this is not always true," Mr. Beadell said in a 1998 letter to B.C. Ferries' head of corporate safety after the risk analysis was delivered. Mr. Beadell said he quit because the corporation dismissed the report's conclusions, reasoning that a collision was unlikely. He is now a marine safety consultant with Invicta Marine in Victoria.

However, the warnings about the Queen of the North did lead to some design changes on the vessel in 1999 - additional watertight doors on the vehicle deck - which likely bought enough time to get 99 of the 101 passengers and crew off the ship when it went down seven years later.

After the impact at Gil Island, the Queen of the North took 78 minutes to slip below the water in a calm sea due to "rapid progressive flooding along the entire length of the hull," according to an internal inquiry by B.C. Ferries. Subdivision doors on the main car deck - the ones that were added after Mr. Beadell's report - were closed, helping to slow the flooding and keep the ship on an even keel for most of the evacuation.

Jackie Miller, president of the Ferry and Marine Workers' Union, says her members still worry about the safety of the remaining two ferries with single-compartment hulls.

"We don't believe they should be sailing with a single-compartment hull, [but] Transport Canada has given B.C. Ferries a dispensation to continue sailing the ships," she said.
However she bristled when asked whether her members feel safe sailing on the Queen of Prince Rupert and the Queen of Chilliwack today.

"That's a really obnoxious phraseology," she responded. "Do they feel there are safety issues, are they raising safety concerns? The answer is yes. Do they feel safe? Probably. Otherwise they wouldn't be sailing."

But she said things may change. The Transportation Safety Board review on the sinking may not deal with hull design, but a joint union-company safety management review is taking a broader look.

As part of that internal review, safety management consultants from Europe toured the northern routes earlier this month to look at the union's concerns, she said.

"We have some concerns and some of these things are being addressed and some issues are still outstanding, some are design flaws, some are fundamental flaws in the ongoing delivery of safety management," Ms. Miller said.

Notwithstanding the overhaul of the safety management program, B.C. Ferries maintains that its ships are safe and its safety record is excellent.

But confirming the details isn't easy. Since the former Crown corporation became a quasi-private enterprise in 2003, the company will not release its regular safety audits. And while it does publicly report on major accidents, there is no public access to details of the hundreds of minor incidents that occur each year.

The service is one of the biggest passenger ferry operators in the world, and has about 250 safety incidents a year, from collisions to cut fingers.

David Hahn, president of B.C. Ferries, noted that his company releases the results of "divisional inquiries," which are internal investigations into major accidents. There are, on average, two each year.

"It's probably the opposite of what most other organizations do; they give you the little stuff and hide the big ones," he said.

Mr. Hahn said he doesn't track how his company compares with other ferry operators on safety, but pointed to a recent safety audit by former B.C. auditor-general George Morfitt as proof that the company is doing a good job and passengers should feel safe.

B.C. Ferries commissioned Mr. Morfitt to look into safety after the Queen of the North sinking. His report last January concluded that, over all, the company is offering a safe service despite a dysfunctional relationship between the company and its workers.

Mr. Beadell said both sides will have to work together to change the currentapproach to risk management.

"If you sit back and rely on compliance as your main safety principle, you are going to have problems. It's like looking in the rear-view mirror and saying, 'I haven't hit anything,' instead of looking through the front windshield. If you do that, you are a fool."

The safety of two other ferries that have a similar, single-compartment hull construction as the Queen of the North is being called into question.

The Queen of Chilliwack

Built in Norway in 1978, it has a capacity for 700 passengers and crew, although B.C. Ferries now lists its capacity as 400 people. It operates between Port Hardy and the Bella Bella area in the summer, and the Horseshoe Bay-Langdale run in the winter.

The Queen of Prince Rupert

Built in Victoria in 1966, it has a capacity for 544 passengers and crew. It services the Port Hardy-Prince Rupert route.


Pages of 1998 report come to light

In April, 1998, S.H.M. Marine International Inc., an independent naval-architecture firm based in Victoria, produced a 34-page report for B.C. Ferries assessing the stability of the Queen of the North in the event the hull was damaged. The report looked at various scenarios, depending on where the hull might be damaged and how many interior compartments might be flooded, but none of the scenarios matched the extent of the damage the ship suffered when it ran into Gil Island in March, 2006.


In one scenario, with a single compartment flooding after damage to the forward portion of the ship, the Queen of the North was considered only "marginally deficient" in its range of stability. If two compartments flooded, however, it was considered "severely deficient." When the ship sank eight years later, witnesses reported flooding in at least three compartments.


The 1998 safety report recommended the addition of exterior buoyancy devices called sponsons. Instead, B.C. Ferries installed subdivision doors on the main car deck, which helped slow the flooding once the water reached the car deck, giving crew more time to evacuate the ship.

B.C. Ferries

System description: One of the largest ferry operators in the world, carrying almost 22 million passengers a year and 8.5 million vehicles. Its 36 vessels range in size from the Mill Bay, which can carry up to 16 vehicles, to the Spirit of British Columbia, with a 470-car capacity.

Governance: The company was a provincial Crown corporation until 2003, when it became a quasi-private company - an independent commercial organization with some public funding.

Sea conditions: The sea conditions of its 25 routes vary, with the majority running in the busy but protected waters between the mainland and Vancouver Island. The northern routes also offer challenges with some narrow passages and extreme weather conditions from the Queen Charlotte Islands to the mainland at Prince Rupert.

Safety philosophy: The company is in the midst of an overhaul of its safety management system after the 2006 sinking of the Queen of the North. The company's most recent annual report states: "At BC Ferries, we put the safety of our customers and crew first. This past year was no exception. With more than 9,700 days of safety training last year, our employees are there to prevent emergency situations before they happen and ready to respond quickly and efficiently if their skills are required."

Accident record: Seven accident-related fatalities in the past 15 years:

In 2006, the Queen of the North slammed into Gil Island at full speed and sank. Ninety-nine passengers and crew were rescued but two people are missing and presumed drowned. An internal inquiry blamed human error; a separate investigation by the Transportation Safety Board is expected in October.

In 2000, the Spirit of Vancouver Island and a small pleasure craft, the Star Ruby, collided, killing the elderly U.S. couple on board the power boat. The ferry's bridge crew spotted the fibreglass-hulled boat in a narrow channel but elected to try to overtake it.

In 1992, the Queen of New Westminster pulled away from the dock in Nanaimo while a van was still on the ramp. Three people died. An inquiry found that the ferry left prematurely from the berth because crew members were preoccupied with maintaining the schedule, and because the portable radios used by staff at the terminal had glitches.

Washington State Ferries

System Description: It runs about 500 daily sailings with 20 ports of call, and moves about 26 million passengers and 11 million vehicles a year. Its 28 vessels range from the Jumbo Mark II class that can carry 2,500 passengers and 202 vehicles, down to the Kalama, a high-speed passenger vessel that carries 250 passengers.

Governance: Washington State Ferries is part of the state's Department of Transportation, designated with the same status as an interstate highway. It is the largest ferry fleet in the United States.

Sea conditions: Its service concentrates mainly on short commuter runs in the protected waters of Puget Sound and its inland waterways, where busy marine traffic often poses the most challenging hazards.

Safety Philosophy: The ferry operator calls passenger safety its No. 1 priority, and is completing a five-year review with the U.S. Coast Guard on lifesaving practices. The ferry operator was forced to make dramatic changes after a 1998 exposé in the Seattle Times highlighted the shortage of rescue boats on the ships. Safety also means a focus on potential terrorist attacks, resulting the presence at ferry terminals of Washington State Patrol troopers and explosive-detection dogs.

Accident record: There have been no fatal accidents in recent history but the system has had some costly "hard landings," the term ferry operators use when a ferry hits a dock hard enough to do damage.

In 1999 the ferry Elwha hit the Orcas Island dock and caused $3.6-million in damage. A malfunction in its propulsion system was blamed.

In a similar incident in 1998, the propulsion controls failed on the Sealth, causing that vessel to ram into Seattle's Colman Dock, slightly injuring seven passengers and causing $2.9-million in damage.

Marine Atlantic

System description: The system offers two routes, one is a year-round service between Port aux Basques, Nfld., and North Sydney, N.S. The other is a summer service between Argentia, Nfld., and North Sydney. The fleet includes four ice-class vessels, including the Leif Ericson, the Caribou and the Joseph and Clara Smallwood. The Atlantic Freighter is a dedicated commercial freighter.

Governance: A federal Crown corporation providing a passenger and commercial marine-transportation system between the Island of Newfoundland and the province of Nova Scotia.

Sea conditions: High winds, pack ice and extreme storm surges are features in the Cabot Strait that can interrupt service.

Safety philosophy: "Safety is Marine Atlantic's number one priority," the company literature says. In 1996, Marine Atlantic announced it was the first ferry operator in North America to gain International Safety Management Code certification. It also adopted a Marine Evacuation System program after a fire aboard the Joseph and Clara Smallwood in 2003.

Accident record: No fatalities but in 2003, a fire started near a tractor-trailer truck on the lower level of the ferry Joseph and Clara Smallwood. The vessel was about eight nautical miles (15 kilometres) from its destination, Port aux Basques, when the fire broke out at about 11 p.m. The vessel was evacuated when it arrived in Port aux Basques shortly after midnight. The Transportation Safety Board found several deficiencies in Marine Altantic's response to the fire. The fire alarm was not sounded in the passenger areas, passengers were unaccounted for and they were unnecessarily "exposed to a potentially unsafe environment" when they were directed to retrieve their vehicles when the ship docked.

Alaska State Marine Highway

System description:

Its fleet of 11 ships range from the 55-metre-long Lituya, with capacity for 149 passengers, to the 124-metre-long Matanuska, with room for 499 passengers. The routes range from the Inside Passage out to the Aleutian Islands and as far south as Washington state. It transports an average 300,000 passengers and 100,000 vehicles a year.


An extension of the Alaska Department of Transportation, the ferry operator is considered part of the U.S. national highway system.

Sea conditions: The service covers a vast area of the Pacific coast but harsh weather conditions shut down some routes in winter. In all it serves 32 communities in Alaska, plus Bellingham, Wash., and Prince Rupert.

Safety Philosophy: The department's safety protocols rely on the inspection and certification provided by the U.S. Coast Guard. As well, ships sailing to Prince Rupert comply with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.

Accident record: No fatalities but in 2004 the fleet's ship LeConte caused $6-million in damages when it ran aground on Cozian Reef in Peril Strait, about 48 kilometres north of Sitka. While the damage was significant - with flooding in five sections of the vessel - 86 passengers and crew were evacuated with only two minor injuries. The accident was blamed on operator error.

SOURCES: B.C. Ferries; Washington State Ferries; Marine Atlantic and Alaska State Marine Highway

It’s a full staff complement at PRRH Maternity

Mothers to be can rest a little easier heading into the fall and winter moths with the knowledge that the maternity ward at the hospital is back to full strength.

Northern Health’s director of Communications Mark Karjaluoto advised that; “All of our maternity nursing lines in Prince Rupert are now filled, staff have finished their individual orientation, and two of the nurses are fairly experienced in the More OB program.”

The return of a full staffing situation at the maternity ward should help alleviate any future problems that at times resulted in Rupert mothers having to be shipped off to Terrace or other locations to have their babies due to the staffing shortage at PRRH.

With the unpredictable fall and winter weather soon to arrive that’s one less worry for a mother and father to be to have to think about as the delivery date nears.

The Daily News had full details on the announcement in Friday’s paper.

Maternity nursing crisis ends happily
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, September 28, 2007
Page one

All of the vacant maternity nursing positions at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital have now been filled, officials announced last week at Northern Health's board meeting in Fort St. John.
Medical staff informed the board that work will continue to keep the service fully functional by offering continuing medical education to increase the number of medical staff providing C-section services and supporting the More OB maternal care quality program.

"All of our maternity nursing lines in Prince Rupert are now filled, staff have finished their individual orientation, and two of the nurses are fairly experienced in the More OB program," said Mark Karjaluoto, Northern Health's director of communications.

More OB is a voluntary program designed to increase patient quality improvement for obstetrical services in the region. Developed by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, More OB aims to try to cut the risk factors that go along with labour and delivery by building relationships between different care providers, enhance communication skills, and provide staff with ongoing practice to enhance skills needed in an emergency.

Northern Health also announced at the meeting that it is operating with a small surplus through the first quarter of the 2007-2008 fiscal year, equaling $1.4 million. However, when taken into account that NH has a $558 million annual operating budget, that amount is only a small fraction of one percentage in the budget.

"Our financial staff have projected a break-even position for the current budgetary year," said Dr. Charles Jago, NH board chair. "We are expecting greater hospital activity in the winter months, along with higher energy costs which will affect our financial position."

The board received an update on the Let's Talk About Addictions and Mental Health community consultation program, which involved a number of community forums being held in municipalities and First Nations communities in the spring and early summer. The final report will be drafted and available within the next few weeks, and its recommendations will help guide improvements to NH's addictions and mental health systems.

Prince Rupert Company expands into Prince George

As of this weakened there are now two locations to purchase the “funky items” that have mad Homework famous in Prince Rupert.

Opinion 250 in Prince George is reporting that the Prince Rupert based store will set up shop in the Central Interior moving into Prince George‘s downtown core, taking up residence in the old Royal Bank building at 3rd and Quebec Streets.

Homework partner, Anthony Voitic is a former Prince George resident and he is returning home to open up the Homework store, a business that many hope will help to rebuild the rather dowdy looking downtown area that Prince George has.
Moving into the old bank building which has been vacant for a number of years, there is over 6000 square feet on two floors to showcase many of the items that have made Homework one of the main attractions of Cow Bay.

David Smook, along Voitic both see great potential for the Prince George operation. And there’s a very good chance for success for the two, Prince George with a large college and university population could be just the right demographic for the variety of clothing, accessories, and furniture that Homework features.

It will be of interest to see if they bring a bit of life to Prince George’s downtown area as well, which has seen little in the way of commercial development since the Pine Centre Mall and Big Box Villages opened up.

New Business Moving IN to Downtown P.G.
250 News
Sunday, September 30, 2007 04:54 AM

It’s a departure in the city, this weekend a brand new retail store opens in downtown Prince George.

It is called Homework and is the product of a couple of Prince Rupert residents who are coming to town to set up a shop in the old Royal Bank Building at 3rd and Quebec.

David Smook, along with his partner Anthony Voitic, will open their new, as they call it, "Funky" store in the down town. Anthony Voitik who has lived in Prince Rupert for many years is returning to his old home town of Prince George. As David Smook put it, "Anthony used to live in PG and loved the city. We both think the city has great potential and he is heading there while I look after our business in Prince Rupert which has been operating for the past five years."

According to the two , Homework has a high end vibe "We are going to offer clothing, accessories, and furniture with a modern slant to it."

The store will occupy 6,000 sq feet in total on both floors of the old Royal Bank building.
The building has sat vacant for many years.

Elder’s conference planning underway

While the actual conference is not scheduled until next summer, The Kaien Island First Nations Elders are already busy getting things organized so they can welcome the 2500 elders to the city next summer.

The first phase of their preparations involved a weekend meeting at Northwest Community College to form the various committees that they will need to help bring the conference together in a smooth fashion.

There’s a need for volunteers to help get things started and the details of what they are looking for and how you can help could be found in Friday’s Daily news.

Planning already begun for '08 elders gathering
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, September 28, 2007
Page one

Although the 2008 British Columbia Elder's Gathering will not be happening until next summer, planning for the event in Prince Rupert is already getting underway.

The Kaien Island First Nations Elders are holding their first public meeting this Sunday at 1 p.m. in the Northwest Community College, to begin forming committees that will oversee various aspects of the gathering.

"What we're looking for is volunteers to help put together a proposal and a budget," said Friendship House's George Sampson.

"We need to have a gathering of minds to draft up a proposal and decide all the topics that we're going to include in the gathering such as health, justice, Aboriginal Affairs and whatnot."

Once a proposal has been outlined, an operating budget needs to be put in place so it can be forwarded to the federal, provincial, and municipal levels of government, as well as to societies, unions, businesses, churches and all the other organizations that will have to play a role in funding the enormous event.

The dates of the Elder's Gathering have already been decided. It is scheduled for July 7 to July 9, with pre-registration taking place on Sun., July 6. The gathering will be a two-and-a-half day event, with Monday and Tuesday being the main event days, and Wednesday morning serving as a time for closing ceremonies, and an opportunity for giving thanks to all those who were involved.

"If you look at who benefits the most out of this, it's the community that will, more than everything else," said Sampson. "So, we have to get all the stakeholders involved in this, and volunteers for all the various committees that will need to be operating in preparation for the event, and especially while its going on."

This Sunday's public meeting will hopefully decide official financial officers who can take responsibility for operating withing the budget.

A safety and security team will be needed at all the events to assist in any problems and to guard elders who may vulnerable to theft or other crime. A first aid team will operate a station that will address any issues that occur among the elders, such as providing food and water for those with diabetes. Entertainment for the gathering also needs to be organized, as well as transportation services to shuttle people around the city.

Lastly, a billeting committee will be needed to find families that are willing to donate extra beds to visitors, because hotels will only have room to accommodate a portion of the elders expected to be coming.

The gathering's official Master of Ceremonies has also been chosen, and it will be none other than Prince Rupert's own Murray Smith, who has accepted the responsibility of entertaining 2,500 elders from across the province.

"I've done a lot of MCing, weddings and gatherings, and I enjoy doing what I do, there's no tension or pressure for me," said Smith. "When we were at the gathering in Vancouver, what the elders liked was the sense of humour that the gentleman had down there. So, they asked me at a meeting last week if I'd do it, because that is what I present when I MC."

Smith is genuinely thrilled to be able to contribute to the gathering by lending his own sense of humour, since one of the things he enjoys is working with people and getting a good laugh out of them.

"What I usually do is make up my own songs, which is what I did when we were in Vancouver vying to host the next event, and I got their attention," said Smith. "I hope I can do justice for the elders, because they work so hard to raise money and get funding together, and with all their wisdom combined they chose me."

We'll be right back after this short commercial message Sept 29

There's a time to talk and there's a time to listen.

Not everything is as it appears.

A tale of two ports

While Prince Rupert prepares to receive the first container ship at the new Fairview Container port in late October, across the continent they're bemoaning the decline of shipping at one of Eastern Canada's longtime ports.

In an Editorial page piece, the Halifax Chronicle Herald traces the decline of shipments from their container port, which is losing traffic to Montreal and the US Eastern seaboard, a fact that they suggest has not been lost on CN Rail, given their support and investment in Prince Rupert.

It's an interesting look at how trade patterns can change quickly in these modern times, where one day a port can be rendered to a back up role, seeking out a new markets and a new purpose all due to the whims of a change in the trade winds.

So much for new strategy
Halifax Chronicle Herald
Editorial Page
September 30, 2007

WHAT’S MOST galling about the Port of Halifax’s stagnation is the fact it comes when other ports are booming.

Halifax continues to lose business to ports in Montreal and along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. The most recent figures show container cargo through the port was down nearly three per cent in the first six months of this year. (Halifax’s two existing container terminals are sitting idle almost half the time.)

Many promoters hoped Halifax could be the North American launch point for cargo coming from China and India through the Suez Canal, to avoid the backlogs building on the West Coast.

Since there’s plenty of overcapacity at the Halifax terminal, there is little wonder the Crown agency has been focused on China as the solution to the dwindling containers being unloaded in Halifax.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened. Even annual container cargo growth of three to four per cent, considered to be industry norm, isn’t happening in Halifax. So what is the Halifax Port Authority doing?

The Halifax Port Authority was born under disgraceful circumstances back in 1999, a creation of former prime minister Jean Chretien, who stacked the board with well-connected Liberals.

Sure, there’s lots of travel to be had. In its most recent semi-annual report, it noted officials travelled to 12 countries trying to sell the Port of Halifax.

It’s tempting to blame the patronage-ridden board for the lack of business being attracted to the port. But the fact is, Halifax is experiencing a tectonic shift in global trade – a shift to the other side of the world.

Earlier this month, a new container terminal on the West Coast opened; it basically circumvents any cargo coming to Halifax from Asia. The Prince Rupert terminal has become the Gateway for Pacific trade, reducing shipping times between Asia and Chicago by two days.

Last week, at the annual Halifax Port Days conference, a senior representative with CN Worldwide, Paul Tonsager, said Halifax needs to change its marketing strategy and not focus on China. Halifax faces several hurdles in attracting cargo business from Asia, including the long distance and lots of competition for China’s business. Plus, it’s getting more expensive to do business there, he said.

Mr. Tonsager described containers coming to Halifax from China as "a stretch."
CN knows this. The proof is it invested $25 million in the Prince Rupert terminal, not in Halifax.

Election winds begin to blow

The first sign of a potential election came earlier this week with the announcement by the Conservative government of a large surplus in federal finances, which may see small returns of money to Canada's overburdened taxpayers.

Another potential sign, some divisiveness on the Liberal caucus, as the associates of Stephane Dion fend off attacks from the dis-satisfied backroom and backbench supporters of former candidates. For the Conservatives a sudden and ugly internal war among the Liberals may provide enough of a distraction that the Conservatives could make use of to try and reach the lofty goal of a majority government.

However, the latest poll results show that voters may still entrust their vote with Mr. Dion's vision should an election be called soon. Something that the Prime Minister will no doubt study quite intensely as he waits to see what kind of reaction his speech receives.

The first test for Stephen Harper's government comes up shortly as the politicians prepare to head back to the rigorous days of Parliament starting with the speech from the throne, the normally lengthy blueprint of what the Conservatives will wish to achieve during the next session of Parliament.

That session is on the mind of Skeena Bulkley Valley MP, Nathan Cullen who outlined some of his thoughts on the upcoming session and what it may portend for a return to the ballot box.

MP weighs election prospect
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, September 28, 2007

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen believes the chances of a federal election being called next month are about 50/50.

It all hinges on whether opposition parties support or reject Prime Minister Stephen Harper's throne speech on Oct. 16.

"My instinct is there's a 50/50 chance," said Cullen. "The Liberals and Bloc Quebecois are in a lot of political trouble right now, so they will be unwilling to call an election and Mr. Harper's government is also polling deep into minority government territory."

Both the Conservative stance on Canada's participation in Afghanistan and its environmental policies continue to be points of contention with Canadians, keeping Harper away from a majority, he said.

"Although in New York this week, Mr. Harper said he expects a minority government, so maybe he has lowered his expectations," said Cullen.

However, Cullen said his focus remains working on projects in the riding not preparing for an election.

Most of the parties in the riding do have candidates. Cullen will stand again for the NDP, hoping for a third term. Mayor Sharon Smith of Houston has been nominated for the Conservatives, while Prince Rupert resident Corinna Morhart has been nominated for the Liberals. Rod Taylor will again stand for the Christian Heritage Party. The Green Party is yet to officially announce its candidate.

If an election goes ahead, this would be the second winter election in a row.

In the last election, candidates in Cullen's northern riding faced wind and snow storms, flight delays and a narrow brush with injury as Conservative candidate Mike Scott totaled a truck after running into a moose on a dark, windy night.

"I don't think the brain trust in Ottawa gives a lot of thought to northern MPs and candidates. It's not ideal," said Cullen.

Prince George-Peace River MP Jay Hill said a federal election comes down to whether Liberal leader Stephane Dion decides to "roll the dice" and force an election by refusing to support the throne speech or whether he abstains from the vote to buy more time and get ready for a campaign.

Holding 126 seats in the 308-seat House, the Conservatives have stayed in power for more than 500 days, largely thanks to the support of the Bloc Quebecois, which has 49 MPs.

But the Bloc has issued a set of "non-negotiable" conditions for continuing to support the government and it is likely the Conservatives will refuse to comply with all the demands.
That means the final decision rests with Dion.

Hill said the Liberals, who have 96 seats, could abstain from voting on the throne speech, something the Conservatives did back in 2005 to keep the Paul Martin government in power because Canadians did not want an election at the time.

But Hill said he's also heard rumblings that Dion may vote against the throne speech at the request of his own party following the poor performances in the recent Quebec by-elections.
Traditionally, Liberals don't change leaders until they've gone through a nationwide election.
"I think he's under intense criticism, so he might end up capitulating to the views of many in his party," he said. "If it's a widely-held view that he's not going to dramatically improve and therefore become more popular with Canadians, they might as well roll the dice now and get it over with."

With files from the Prince George Citizen.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Podunkian Music Club

Paul Brandt—Didn’t even see the dust

One of Canada’s best known country troubadours is back on the road as Paul Brandt takes a new collection of tunes cross country. The seventh album in a collection which he first

Brandt has just released RISK, his was released on September 11th and features the debut single Didn’t even see the dust our selection for tonight.

Brandt has become one of the most recognizable of Canadian country artists over the last few years, from hosting awards shows, to his wide ranging trips across Canada and to the developing world through his charity work, Brandt has found fans at almost every stop.

A strong supporter of the Canadian military, he is frequently found on the support the troop shows that take him to the places where Canadians have been sent into harms way, to bring a bit of the familiar to them. It’s a gesture that surely puts his recordings on the top shelf at the local Canex store providing they have anything left it stock.

He has approached his career on his own terms, leaving the Nashville scene after nine years to return to his roots in Alberta and to make the music that he wants to make and one that resonates with not only his home province but across the land. He was one of the first Canadian country artists to embrace the MP3 revolution and his latest project has been featured prominently on the iTunes website over the last two weeks.

The latest video offering provides and unusual setting for a country song, the winding roads and back lanes of Spain, and seems to fit the tone of the song quite well. The song starts out in a slow, studious manner and then kicks into a rollicking trip, a perfect road trip song that makes you want to hop into the car and hit the highway, much like Brandt has done.

The Risk tour continues through November with the closest that Brandt will be to Prince Rupert being November 27th at the CN Centre in Prince George. It’s part of an ambitious time on the road, taking him from Ontario through to British Columbia.

Artist-Paul Brandt

We'll be right back after this short commercial message September 28

A can of beans brings back the memories.

Because some things never change

Seeking Safer Streets

A giant map set up at the Museum of Northern B. C. on Thursday night marked street after street of areas that women feel unsafe in. Showing an undercurrent of concern about safety in this city and highlighting a perception that there needs to be something done to make our street safer for all.

The map was set up by the Take Back the Nigh campaign and participants in Thursday nights gathering at the museum were asked to place a sticker on the map in areas where they felt particularly vulnerable or unsafe.

The East side of town was tagged as unsafe along Drydock Road and George Hills Way, with Hays Cove Circle and Seal Cove areas also neighbourhoods of concern.

But for the most part the most troublesome areas indicated by dots on the map were found in the Western half of the city, westward from McBride Street. Particular concern was expressed about the pathways around PRSS and for many blocks in the downtown core.

Participants were also asked to provide details or comments about areas of concern and the majority of the respondents expressed concerns about drunks, drug users in the downtown area and poor lighting and suspicious people walking the streets at night. There was also a perception provided that there were far too infrequent patrols of those areas of concern.

Full details on the evenings program and the scope of the dangers that women feel exist in the city can be found in Friday's Daily News.

Violence fear stalks many women across city
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, September 28, 2007
Page one

Last night's meeting for Take Back the Night highlighted the fear of violence some women feel in certain parts of town.

The event, put on the Prince Rupert Transition Society, saw a solid turnout of concerned residents from both genders who want to see an end to the violence against women in the community.

The large map of Prince Rupert that was covered with stickers gave a good indication of those areas in which women felt safe, and the places where there was a perception of moderately or even extreme danger.

The east side of town was given a clean slate for the most part, with only a few green stickers indicating extremely unsafe areas in spots like George Hills Way, Dry Dock Road, Hays Cove Circle, and the general area of Seal Cove.

The West side was another story, with green stickers popping up all over the map, and being heavily concentrated in numerous areas.

The trail by Prince Rupert Secondary School was felt by many to be unsafe, as was the area around the skateboard park and civic centre.

However, there was barely a block anywhere on the west side of McBride Street that didn't have at least one green sticker, and the downtown core was marked as an overwhelmingly problematic area in many women's eyes.

There were many forms posted at the event in the Museum of Northern B.C.'s Ceremonial Room that women had filled out anonymously expressing why they felt safe and unsafe.

The most frequent answers given for feeling unsafe in certain areas were because of drug users and drunks, previous violent or sexual crimes known to have been committed, little or no lighting, unknown or suspicious people hanging out at night, and infrequent police patrolling of trouble areas. Perhaps more telling was that many women stated the only place they felt safe was in their own neighborhood or even within the four walls of their own home.

Murray Smith had some moving and heartfelt words to share with everyone about his past and how he was able to make a change for the better in his life and that of his family.

"It brings tears to my eyes thinking about how mean I was, and the terror I brought to my wife and kids back then," said Smith speaking about what he described as his former abusive lifestyle.

"When I was asked to do this the memories all came back to me, and I stand here before you in honor of you women. I take responsibility for my actions, so I'm proud to be here and proud I was able to stop the abuse all those years ago," said Smith.

Local Tsimshian dancers performed several songs, including a song of peace, a blanket dance, the Spirit of the Lord, and ended by offering their support and gratitude for being able to contribute to the Take Back the Night event.

"In our culture and media, being strong and in control is identified as what it is to be a man," said Take Back the Night organizer Leigh Murphy. "We need to change that, so to be a man can mean to be caring and compassionate and all those things that are important."

Many people present engaged in a discussion about what can be done to make Prince Rupert a safer place for women. The issue of children being out on the streets until late into the evening was also brought up, as was the societal problem of people being unwilling to come forward and report crimes and the anonymity faced by residents, even in a city as small as Prince Rupert.

Simulation hopes to avoid real situation

A demonstration this weekend should highlight the havoc that would be brough to the north coast in the event of an oil spill.

The Living Oceans Society is in town this weekend to provide two days of information to locals on how our ecosystem could be at risk in the event of an oil spill. The society has set up shop at the Crest Hotel as part of the World Wildlife Federation's two day conference that gets underway Saturday night at 7pm. The Sunday session starts at Noon and continues on until 4 pm, both sessions are open to the public.

The Daily News featured a preview of the upcoming information weekend as part of the Friday paper.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, September 28, 2007
Page one

The Living Oceans Society will be in Prince Rupert this weekend to demonstrate an online computer-generated model that shows how oil spills would harm ecosystems and communities on the North Coast of British Columbia.

The demonstration is part of a two-day conference being hosted by the World Wildlife Fund Prince Rupert.

It is open to everyone and takes place on Saturday, from 7 to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Crest Hotel.

The oil spill animation, built using leading edge computer modeling software and the most up to date oceanographic data available, is able to generate oil spill scenarios from oil tankers and drilling platforms in coastal waters.

"The oil spill model clearly demonstrates that Canada and the province of B.C. must strengthen and enforce the moratorium on oil tankers and offshore oil and gas in order to maintain the wealth of marine resources on B.C.'s coast," said Oonagh O'Connor, Living Oceans Society energy campaign manager.
"There is considerable pressure to open the coast to oil tanker traffic and offshore oil and gas. The federal government is already turning a blind eye to the tankers that are sailing into Kitimat to deliver condensate, a highly toxic petro-chemical product used to thin oil extracted from Alberta's tar sands."

However, oil spills are not the only way oil can get into the marine environment and the two-day forum will also focus on the impact of chronic oil on the marine environment, said Mike Ambach, WWF-Prince Rupert.

Exchange of oil bilge water and oil coming from motors are other sources, as well as shore-based oil entering the marine environment.

"The effects are cumulative, although a lot less catastrophic than the oil spills, but they are none-the-less significant," he said.

The impact of chronic oil spills on wildlife is something that has received more study on the Atlantic Coast because of the history and the larger ship volumes, he said.

Sarah Patton from Canada Parks and Wilderness will focus on what has happened on the Atlantic Coast while Patrick O'Hara from the Ministry of Environment be speaking about the impact of chronic oil spills on B.C. seabirds.

Then on Sunday, Peter Davidson from Bird Studies Canada will be conducting a hands-on workshop about shorebird surveys and beached bird surveys designed for citizen participation.
"For all those birders out there, this will be a great opportunity," he said.

The federal government is beefing up its enforcement arsenal in British Columbia to deter ship operators from illegally dumping oily bilge waste into the ocean - a practice that could be killing hundreds of thousands of seabirds every year.

This fall, Transport Canada's new $10-million Dash 8 began flying surveillance runs over B.C. waters and the western Arctic, as the government also peers at the Pacific using special satellite images supplied by the Canadian Space Agency's RADARSAT-1.

The new forms of surveillance, already in use in Eastern Canada, are meant to scare off unscrupulous bilge-dumpers trying to avoid the cost of disposal at port. The accumulated oil - a little here and a little there - creates chronic oil pollution, devastating for fragile seabirds, and likely, for other marine creatures.

Friday, September 28, 2007

We'll be right back after this short commercial message September 27

When you don't have to scramble for a fare.

The line forms on the left

Today’s terror threat level is Red, as in the Red Maple Leaf!

It must be appropriations season in the US congress; as once again that scourge of the North is on the mind of American legislators.

Spurred on by a report by an investigative team, American politicians heard Thursday that the northern flank may be problematic in the fight against terror. A border that according to a number of US Senators is in need of immediate reinforcement and new technology to counter the menace from the North.

Our work clearly shows substantial vulnerabilities in the northern border to terrorist or criminals entering the United States undetected. That quote is from a presentation to the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday.

Ever since 9-11, more than a few American politicians have cast a nervous eye on their northern flank. Some have gone so far as to incorrectly remind Americans that the 9-11 terrorists originated in Canada, it’s a point that has been rebuffed time and time again by Canadian diplomats and politicians, but seems to get dragged out every time the need for more money for border security is needed.

This time it was a Government Accountability Office exercise which has once again called into question the Canadian frontier. Government investigators were able to cross from Canada into the United States carrying a duffle bag with contents that looked like radioactive material and never encountered a law enforcement official.

The lonely looking operative was seen criss crossing the Canadian border at a number of locations hauling his duffel bag across the line each time. It appears that he easily avoided the 972 Border Patrol agents that are posted across the northern border.

Senator Ken Salazar (D-Colorado) for one sees far too many terrorists under Canadian beds, as he demanded tighter security along the northern border.

"With the possible exception of the United States, there are more international terrorist organizations active in Canada than anywhere else in the world," said Salazar.

We’re not sure how he came to that conclusion, but it makes a dandy sound byte and revives the old Canada is a threat theme.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) joined in on the fears of the Northern nation; his contribution to Thursday's hearing was a scenario of uncontested operative’s carrying along dirty bombs across the vast frontier.

"They're simply wide open, waiting to be crossed by anyone carrying anything, even a dirty bomb or a suitcase-type nuclear device."

Both Stockwell Day and Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried to counter the brush fire on the southern range, but it’s not expected that their words will provide much relief from the fear mongering of the politicians.

Perhaps the net result will be more US border agents, more drones, more cameras and other high tech spy gadgets to keep the 49th parallel under constant observation. Maybe even one day, a fence or a moat.

While they have legitimate concerns over their security in the wake of 9-11, the simple fact is that horrific incident evolved from terrorists that were already living in the USA, as have a number of other high profile incidents before and after September 11th. All, with the exception of a Seattle bound would be terrorist Ahmed Ressam in December of 1999, for the most part have involved, mostly homegrown operatives and not interlopers from the frozen north.

The troubles may be a lot closer to home than the outposts on the northern border, but then it’s sometimes better to have someplace to point a finger at after all.

In fact, it all brings to mind a little Robin Williams number from a few years ago.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Vandalism still a problem for School District 52

With a new school year just nicely underway, School District 52 was proudly listing off some of the improvements made over the summer to the local centres of education.

From improved drainage, to new boilers and roofs, the summer months proved to be productive ones for the maintenance branch of the school district.

However, while there have been many new improvements made to area schools and old problem has continued to plague the School District that of vandalism to school properties, vandals and troublemakers had a busy summer as well as they wreaked havoc at a number of school properties across the city.

The Daily News featured details on all of the summer season positives and negatives in a front page story in Thursday's paper.

By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Pages one and three

Thoughts of what has gone on in Prince Rupert schools during the summer months is probably the last thing on most people's minds when they drop off children for class in September.

Yet there's a tremendous amount of work that needs to take place in schools between the end of June and beginning of September, most of which isn't possible when hundreds of kids are running around five days a week.

School District 52 Director of Operations Frank Shale is the man who oversees all of the work that happens in District 52's schools, and there was plenty of it to keep him and his staff occupied all summer.

"This year there were four roofing projects, one of which still has to be done because of weather conditions," said Shale. "The big painting jobs we did were painting all the hallways at Charles Hays and Prince Rupert Secondary School. The renovation at the science prep-lab at PRSS was a decent-sized project too, because of all the chemicals and acids that have been used in there over the years it needed a really good clean-up and renovation."

The number of projects that were completed is hard to fathom when looking at a detailed list of each school in Prince Rupert. Many schools had their windows cleaned and gym floors refinished, and all schools received their annual Fire Protection Services inspection to ensure all fire alarm systems, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers were operating properly.

Charles Hays had its lighting system upgraded to the new B.C. Power Smart Lighting system, Kanata had one of its raw sewage pumps repaired, and Roosevelt received a drainage system on the main entrance road courtesy of the city, which will help alleviate washouts.

"One project that I would say was a real benefit to a school would have been the replacement of the old gas furnaces in the old kindergarten and Grade 3 room at Conrad Elementary," said Shale. "It was a new small boiler and fresh air ventilation system that was put in there, so it's going to significantly cut gas costs, and as far as air quality goes it's far better and will eliminate all the old problems they were having."

One thing that has continued to be a problem for nearly all schools in the district is vandalism. Lax Kxeen had graffiti removed twice in August, Port Ed had two areas cleaned for graffiti at the back of the school, and the district's blue cube van was vandalized twice in the month of August.

In July, vandals did extensive damage to the Conrad playground by setting parts of it on fire as well as damaging a school surveillance camera.

Pineridge had an outdoor surveillance camera damaged by youths, and PRSS was the victim of extensive vandalism in July, when the school was paintballed, had three skylights cracked and smashed, and two doors broken. Vandalism cost District 52 $6,000 in materials and labour for the month of July, something Shale was obviously dismayed about.

"Nobody can remember vandalism around the schools the way it's been since this spring, and the Civic Centre can also attest to that," said Shale.

"We clean the graffiti off, but it stains the surface of the buildings, and the only way you can correct that is by painting. We ran out of time and weather this summer to paint it all, and we just couldn't keep up with graffiti removal."

Naikun prepares to seek out BC Hyrdo contract

Next month BC Hydro is expected to put out a call for independent power producers to provide the provincial hydro company with 5,000 gigawatt hours of energy per year.

When they do, Naikun Wind Energy is ready to put in their bid for a share and hopefully secure a firm comittment to market their wind generated power supplies from the Queen Charlotte Islands.

The background of the Hydro request and Naikun's proposal was found in the Thursday edition of the Daily News.

NaiKun plans to answer call for green power
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Pages one and three

When B.C. Hydro holds a call for clean energy proposals next month, the NaiKun Wind Energy project off the Queen Charlotte Islands will answer.

On Wednesday, B.C. Hydro announced its next call for energy proposals will be a green call, seeking up to 5,000 gigawatt hours of energy per year - enough to power 500,000 households in B.C. - through a competitive process involving independent power producers across the province.

If NaiKun's project is chosen, it would give the company a guaranteed purchaser for the wind farm's power.

"We were particularly pleased and delighted that this call will focus only on clean energy sources. This signals to us that large scale wind energy projects, such as NaiKun, will be necessary in order to meet the aggressive targets and timeline suggested by the Energy Plan and this announcement" said Ray Castelli, president and CEO of NaiKun Wind Development Inc.
"NaiKun looks forward to providing input into the draft terms of the clean call and are currently preparing our bid."

NaiKun is proposing to build a five-phase wind power project in the Hecate Strait. The first phase will be for 320 megawatts and is currently under development. Construction is expected to commence in 2009.

A key aspect of the proposed project is HaidaLink: Haida Gwaii's interconnection to the main energy grid via NaiKun's wind farm. This initiative is being developed jointly by NaiKun and the Haida Power Authority.

Richard Neufeld, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, said by issuing a call for clean power, B.C. Hydro is playing a leadership role in developing clean energy alternatives to make the province energy self-sufficient while taking responsibility for the environment and climate.

The B.C. Energy Plan set out a goal that 90 per cent of all electricity generated in the province must continue to come from clean or renewable sources and all new electricity generation projects will have zero net greenhouse gas emissions.

Currently, BC Hydro is a net importer of electricity and demand for energy is expected to grow by up to 45 per cent over the next 20 years.

The Clean Power Call will target clean energy from larger projects using proven technologies - for example: hydro, wind, solar, and geothermal energy, among others.

To achieve a clean distinction, a power facility would have to meet the province's guidelines for clean energy, which are currently being updated.

The Clean Call process begins with the issuance of draft terms and conditions next month. Independent power producers, First Nations and stakeholders are invited to provide input and comment on the draft terms prior to their finalization.

If NaiKun bids and is chosen as a power producer, B.C. Hydro and NaiKun would then sign an agreement for the province to purchase power from the Vancouver-based company.

In B.C. Hydro's 2006 call for independent power producers, some $230 million-worth of power projects on the North Coast that will generate enough 'green' electricity to power 81,000 homes got the thumbs up.

B.C. Hydro agreed to purchase power from Katabatic Power - which is proposing a 14-turbine wind farm on Mount Hays - and the Anyox Hydro Electric Corp - which is restoring the old power generation facilities around the old company towns of Anyox and Alice Arm.
Both are now under construction or in operation.

Province-wide, B.C. Hydro accepted 38 contracts from independent power producers in order to meet the growing demand for electricity.

Prince George cancer centre will benefit the north in many ways

The travel debate will most likely go on as far as cancer treatment plans for residents of the Northwest are concerned, however the expected opening of a cancer centre in Prince George by 2012 should still provide great benefits for all communities of the Northern Health Authority. At least that's the opinion being offered from Prince George in the days following last weeks announcement by Premier Gordon Campbell.
Aware of the concerns from the farthest away communities about the potential travel problems associated with a trip to Prince George, especially in the winter, proponents of the Prince George centre are boosting the knowledge base benefits that the centre might provide to outlying regions such as Terrace and Prince Rupert.

The Daily News provided details on how the issue is being presented in Thursday's paper.

Cancer centre brings expertise
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Pages one and three

The new cancer centre to be built in Prince George by 2012 doesn't solve the travel issues faced patients, say medical professionals, but it does bring expertise closer to home.

The new facility will provide radiation therapy to patients, eliminating the need for many cancer afflicted individuals to travel south for that particular treatment.

However there are still concerns that some communities won't benefit as much as anticipated from having a centre in Prince George.

"If you listen to the arguments that people give for a centre there, such as being able to get treatment and stay at home, that's fine for the people in Prince George, but those are really the only people," said Terrace physician Dr. Geoff Appleton.

"Everyone outside of there still has the problem of travel. For Terrace and Prince Rupert it will still be easier to access Vancouver by a two-hour flight, and that should still be allowed."

Retired nurse and Prince Rupert resident Peggy Davenport believes that the creation of a cancer centre in the North is going to be helpful for many people, but that it should not take attention away from recognizing the transportation problems that still exist for many rural patients.

"As it stands, there isn't a direct flight available from Prince Rupert to Prince George, and people who are under treatment for cancer cannot tolerate the long bus ride, because it's too long and it's very hard to do," said Davenport.

"If it was easy to do, I'm sure that people from Northern Health who live in Prince George would be riding the bus when they make their trips West."

There are talks between the Canadian Cancer Society and the provincial government of creating a cancer lodge for patients and their families, similar to what currently exists in Vancouver.

Whether a similar lodge will be built to complement the Prince George facility is yet to be determined, but regardless it will still leave many rural patients with the hardship of getting there.

"We've always been concerned with access issues when it comes to cancer services, and we know that people in the North have real difficulties when it comes to transportation," said Barbara Kaminsky, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Cancer Society B.C. and Yukon Division.

"Frankly even to access Prince George from Prince Rupert in the winter months can be a problem."

Aside from physically visiting the Prince George centre, there will still be other ways that rural cancer patients can benefit from the creation of a Northern centre.

Dr. Ronald Chapman is the executive director for the Northern Cancer Control Progam, and notes that communities like Prince Rupert, who have already been administering systemic therapy to cancer patients, will benefit greatly by having local doctors supported by those working at the Prince George centre.

"The most positive development out of this is the centre will supplement the regional cancer centres in all of British Columbia, and it brings a facility much closer to the North than there has ever been before," he said.

"We're getting experts in the North which we previously haven't had, and it becomes a regional resource since those people will also have a responsibility to support community cancer clinics around the region."

RCMP updates status of Tamara Chipman investigation

The Terrace detachment of the RCMP posted an update on the province wide website today, providing some details in the ongoing investigation of Tamara Chipman, a disappearance that observed its second anniversary this week.

Her disappearance was one of a number of puzzling disappearances of young and mostly First Nations women along the Highway 16 corridor, dubbed the Highway of Tears.

Included in the press release today was confirmation of an RCMP search east of Prince Rupert on the weekend, the September 22nd search had been the topic of conversation around the city over the last few days as locals driving the highway had noticed increased police attention in the area.

The search as it would turn out revealed no new evidence in the case, though the RCMP is continuing with their investigation and ask the public to contact the Terrace or Rupert detachments should they have further information that could be of assistance.

Tamara CHIPMAN Investigation - Two Year Anniversary Update

The investigation into the disappearance of Tamara Chipman has remained an ongoing and active investigation being handled by the Terrace Detachment with the assistance of Prince Rupert Detachment and the Terrace Regional GIS section.

In the past year, investigators have made significant progress in eliminating a number of tips as well as concentrating on some more compelling leads. On September 22, 2007, a trained Ground Search & Rescue Team assisted police in searching a wooded area east of Prince Rupert. The search did not uncover any meaningful evidence.

Information has been shared with the Highway 16 investigative review team who are currently examining files of women who have gone missing or murdered along the highway. While the investigation into Chipman’s disappearance continues to take positive steps, it is too early to know if this information will be of any assistance to the Highway 16 review team.

On September 21st, 2005, Tamara CHIPMAN was last seen hitchhiking on Highway 16, east of Prince Rupert, BC. The police are still asking for the public to contact either the Terrace or Prince Rupert Detachments with any information related to this investigation.

Released by: S/Sgt. Eric Stubbs Terrace OPS NCO (250)638-7416


-->RCMP Media, /Communications"E" Division
5255 Heather StreetVancouver, BC
V5Z 1K6Phone: (604)264-2929Fax: (604)264-3200

Mr. Harper takes a compliment for us.

Ahmadinejad got a University, Harper got a think tank.

It's UN field trip week for most of the world's leaders, as they take part in the annual speechifying contest down Manhattan way. In their spare time the world's Prime Ministers and Presidents found some sideline activities to kill the time, Mr. Ahmadinejad took on the faculty and student body of Columbia University, while our Prime Minister attended a more genteel debating society of New York.

Part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's travels in New York this week have taken him to an American think tank, where the Council on Foreign Relations examined the major issues of the day.

One question posed by famed author and Kennedy biographer Ted Sorenson, asked Mr. Harper why Canada was not as hated as the United States is on the world stage.

Uh, Stephen, we believe this was a compliment...

Prince Rupert council still on the sidelines of minimum wage debate at UBCM

City Councils from Terrace and Kitimat have jumped on board the movement in British Columbia to increase the minimum wage in the province from 8 to 10 dollars, making the case for the change during the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention this week.
Joining the two northwest municipalities is North Coast MLA Gary Coons, who has been part of the chorus for change that is looking for the increase for minimum wage workers.

Thirty municipalities have so far endorsed the plan to increase the minimum wage by two dollars, though interestingly enough the city of Prince Rupert is not one of them. They have yet to debate the issue, or sign up with those that are pushing for change. The Rupert contingent will get another chance to take a look at the proposal this week, when the idea comes up for debate during the final days of the convention.

You would think that they would be quick to offer their support, after all an increase of two dollars while not much in real terms, would still provide for a revenue stream for citizens of the city. An added bit of cash which may trickle down into city’s coffers through licenses and other such things.

And after all, when you’re losing track of the millions, you might think that perhaps every penny could come in handy…

The Daily News had details on the proposal in Wednesday’s paper.

Northern cities push for wage increase
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Page one

Both the District of Kitimat and City of Terrace have joined a push to see minimum wage raised from $8 to $10 an hour.

Speaking at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities Conference (UBCM) in Vancouver, Kitimat Mayor Rick Wozney said his Council voted unanimously to back the higher minimum - in part because all other provinces have done so this year.

Given Premier Campbell's standard pitch about B.C. being the best place on earth, Wozney urged Victoria to raise the wage to $10 "so that minimum wage earners can live in the best place on earth," he said.

Already supported by about 30 municipalities, a resolution calling for an increase to $10 will be debated during the UBCM convention this week.

If it passes, it will be forwarded to the provincial government

Wozney was joined at a press conference by four other counselors and B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair to get support for a raise to minimum wage.

This included Coun. Debora Munoz of Prince George who said raising the minimum wage will help take the burden off local government, which relies primarily on the property tax to raise revenue.

"It's just not sustainable when we have to also deal with homelessness and affordable housing and poverty and policing costs," she said.

"And I reiterated that in my view that a healthy economy should equal healthy communities.
"People on $8 an hour are not making a wage they can live on, so in some cases they're actually at soup kitchens and food banks because they can't afford to rent a place as well as buy groceries."

Prince Rupert city council has not yet endorsed the motion, although North Coast MLA Gary Coons is in full support.

Munoz, who spent a night on the street with the homeless in Prince George last November, said Tuesday she would also like to exempt from income and payroll taxes people who fall below the poverty line.

Sinclair said raising the minimum wage is a "no-brainer."

"Eight dollars an hour has been a frozen wage for six years," he said. "And even $10 isn't high enough to make it livable, but at least it's a step in the right direction."

An aesthetics problem for the US Navy

Google earth has uncovered a rather unfortunate building design that has the US Navy scrambling for ways to quickly redesign a barracks complex in a less ominous symbol.

The building which was constructed back in the 1960's was designed with four L shaped wings sharing a joint corridor, which unfortunately meet at just the right angles to create a symbol from history that isn't particularly welcome any more.

For the last forty some years there was no problem as nobody actually noticed the peculiar design created by the design, it's not noticeable from the ground and was not under any overhead air corridors, so was never on the radar before. But now with the dawn of Google Earth, any building in the world can be viewed from above giving never before shots of the world's architecture. Warts and all, the worlds less enjoyable architecture is now there for display.

The Coronado, California barracks is exhibit number one for embarrassing design for the US Navy, a problem which they hope to resolve with 600,000 dollars worth of additions and landscaping.

There's no truth to the rumour that the architect firm of Goebbels and Himmler developed the original site...

We'll be right back after this short commercial message September 26

Long before her legal troubles, Paris had a career...

The woman is a master of her lines...

Crab fishery still concerned over off shore wind farm location

Naikun Wind Energy Group is proceeding with its plans to construct an large off shore wind farm to harness the North coast winds for energy purposes, with phase one of the project occupying approximately 30 per cent of traditional crab fishing grounds in the area.

It's an incursion that many in the industry feel will be just the beginning of a forced relocation of the crab fishery and ultimately may lead to its demise on the north coast.

The progress of the project has alarmed crab fishermen in Area A of the coast, who outlined their concerns for their livelihoods in Wednesday's Daily News.

Wind farm project advances, but angers crabbers
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Pages one and three

The company building an offshore wind farm off the coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands has recently installed a marine meteorological station, but not everyone is happy the project is proceeding.

Naikun Wind Energy Group, a Vancouver-based energy company, is engaged in the development of a major offshore wind project off the coast of British Columbia in an area known as the Haida Energy Field, which is home to some of Canada's best wind regimes.

The first phase of the project involves the recently installed marine meteorological station, which is equipped with several high-tech instruments that will measure and collect data pertaining to atmospheric conditions, wave and current climate, wind speed and direction and air and sea temperatures. The measurement data will also play an important role in pre-engineering the project and identifying the optimal siting of the wind turbine locations.

This is the first offshore measurement station of its kind on the west coast of North America, and happens to be located in an area used by Dungeness crab fishermen in Area A.

The location of the wind farm in this area has been a point of contention for many crab fishermen who have voiced their concerns over the past year, such as Area "A" crab fisherman Mitch Vermeer.

"The proposed first phase of the Naikun Wind Farm project will cover approximately 30 per cent of traditional crab fishing grounds in Hecate Straight," said Vermeer in a recent letter to Fisheries and Oceans Canada Minister Loyola Hearn.

"Fishers will not be able to set gear near the area during or after construction. Phase 1 will severely reduce the fishing grounds, forcing fishers to be more concentrated in the remaining available area, resulting in less production per vessel, more trap loss and navigational hazards."
Vermeer estimates that if the remaining 4 phases of the proposed project were to be completed, the entire fishery would almost assuredly come to an end.

"To my knowledge, the Department has no stand on the proposed Naikun Wind Farm project," continued Vermeer.

"The location of this project does not have to be positioned on traditional fishing grounds. Hecate Straight is a large area, and the area fished is only a portion of it."

Vermeer and the rest of the Area "A" Crab Fishery feel that immediate action on behalf of DFO is necessary in order to preserve the existence of the Area "A" Crab Fishery, and believes that it is the responsibility of the government to intervene before further approvals of the Naikun project are made.

"My question to you, Honourable Minister, is this: why does it appear that the DFO wants this fishery, a fishery that polices itself with very little involvement by the DFO, and has excellent conservation measures in place and is still viable for the existing users, to come to an unnecessary demise?" asks Vermeer.

"The Department has the ability and, more importantly, the duty to preserve and protect this way of life for myself and hundreds of others. DFO must take the appropriate action to protect the Area 'A' Crab Fishery, and assure that it will not end in vain."