Friday, November 30, 2007

Thank you for being a friend!

Mercy, Mercy a little Mercy please, that’s the state of the Lord Conrad Black trial as his Lordship, through his lawyers, asks for the judge to exhibit some compassion and not send him off to the Big House

With judgment day less than two weeks away, all that is left is to portray the defendant as someone who may have gone off track in his business dealings, but at heart is just a fellow trying his best on a daily basis to live a decent life full of compassion and.... well you get the drift.

The National Post has presented the latest legal workings of the Black side of the case as his Lordship produces glowing testimonials from friends and family to hopefully sway the judge towards a more enjoyable outcome for the former press baron. Included on the list of famous Canadians, beyond the immediate family, are journalists, publishers, business leaders, Lord Black's receptionist and a priest.

And if the judge does have a compassionate feel for the case, how could she not take into account a testimonial from the ex husband of Mr. Black's current wife.

Below from the National Post, some of the missives made on his behalf to Judge Amy St. Eve, all part of the fifty three page presentation that Lord Black’s lawyers made on his behalf in hopes of a “just result”…

(National Post)

Barbara Amiel Black, Lord Black's wife
"Conrad always sees the best in events and people. For Conrad, the glass is always half full, no matter what life dishes out for him. "I could not have gotten through a week of the sort of assault we have now taken for the past four years without the strength and love [Conrad] has given me."
The documents also state, "Barbara describes the manner in which Conrad taught her of love, acceptance and the possibility of real happiness."

Alana Black, Lord Black's daughter
"My father sees the world through rose-colored glasses and fresh eyes -- no matter what problems or issues arise, he finds something positive to focus on. He sees and believes the good in everything and everyone." The documents add, "Alana writes of a childhood filled with reading, games, biking, badminton and diversions, which helped an eight-year-old tolerate 75-minute Latin Masses."

Brian Stewart, a CBC journalist and lifelong friend
In the 1970s, Mr. Stewart learned that, "Conrad was spending a great deal of time studying religion as he wrestled with his innermost beliefs. Eventually this period of introspection would lead to his conversion to Roman Catholicism, but it was a long process to which he devoted enormous effort."

Father Raymond J. de Souza
"During the trial itself, I heard from numerous people who had encountered Mr. Black at parishes in Toronto and Chicago, all of them reporting a man quietly going about his worship, one parishioner among others, and unfailingly gracious to all who approached him about his legal troubles."

Gerald Schwartz, Onex chief executive
"He has always been courteous and helpful -- not just to friends and acquaintances of high rank but to everyone I have seen him come in contact with in the course of daily life."

Heather M. Reisman, chief executive of Indigo Books and Music
Conrad, "is gender blind in creating relationships and essentially motivated to be with and around people who he finds intellectually stimulating ...
"My personal experience with Conrad is of someone who reaches out to people he finds interesting, irrespective of apparent social position. This might be a new recruit to the political arena, an aspiring writer, a young but compelling journalist, or a reader just interested in history and political science."

Joan Friel, receptionist at 10 Toronto St.
On Lord Black's portrayal in the media as arrogant, Ms. Friel wrote: "NOTHING, in my opinion, could be farther from the truth. Mr. Black cared about all his staff members from the top rung to the bottom rung."

George Jonas, author and columnist
National Post columnist Mr. Jonas said that Lord Black's life was marked with "many acts of unheralded charity, altruism and kindness."

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

Sometimes a storyline needs a little ooomph

A whole new meaning to the term flipping the bird!

Cats and Dogs control city’s agenda for a night

Who ya gonna call?

It was revenge of the tax paying pet owners at city council Monday night, as Rupertites went to the barricades over proposed animal control bylaw regulations.

From cat to dog owners, each group provided their case for exemption or reconsideration of the proposed plans to licence pets and limit the amount of those pets that an owner could have inside city limits.

In what at times seems to have been a debate over which animal should have the most controls placed upon it, the council was left to pick up the pieces of a bylaw that appeared to resemble that old couch in the basement that has been scratched apart by a nervous kitten, or chewed up by a skittish dog.

It made for one of the feistiest of city council sessions in a long time, indicative of the wide swath of residents that the changes would have a direct impact on.

From suspicions of the moves being a cash grab by the city, to thoughts that the city hasn’t really thought the issue out very much, council was faced with the vision of angry taxpayers riled up by an issue that could cause misery for the current council come the next election.

Budget miscounts of some five million dollars may be one thing that might be forgiven, but get in the way of a pet owner and their homebound accomplices, well that’s just playing with fire for an elected official.

The Daily news covered the story with two stories one of which claimed front page status in Wednesday’s paper.

By Patrick Witwicki
The Daily News
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pages one and three

Prince Rupert cat owners were scratching and clawing their way to the front podium to have their say during a packed house in council chambers Monday night regarding the controversial proposed animal control bylaw.

The problem that has haunted Rupert for a few years now has been the feral cat issue, but the majority of residents who attended Monday's public meeting didn't believe the new bylaw properly addressed any of those concerns. In fact, many cat owners took offence at the possibility of having to licence their cat, especially by having to put their pets in a collar.

"To tell me I have to put a collar on my cats to make them law-abiding citizens is wrong," said Arnold Nagy.

"And how are they going to enforce it? How are they going to catch these cats? Yes, there is a feral cat problem, but I'm not going to pay for it all on my own."

Nagy also pointed out that the proposed bylaw would only punish the responsible cat owners, and could also make the feral cat problem worse through the licencing of cats.

"For many of the unemployed people in this town, a pet is the last luxury they have," he said. "If they have to fork out the extra 50 or 60 bucks, those cats are going to be abandoned.

"You're going to have more money wasted trying to enforce this bylaw than dealing with the issue of feral cats."

Unlike dogs, cats can jump, climb and roam, which makes wearing a collar very dangerous for the felines, according to several Rupert residents.

"I have reservations about putting a collar on a cat," said Dave Fisher. "You're going to hang a cat."

Sterling Langille added: "When you see a cat with a collar hanging there ... we need a lot more sensible thinking here."

Coun. Joy Thorkelson agreed that putting a collar on a cat isn't a good idea, but she asked aloud what residents might suggest as a better option.

"It's trying to determine the difference between a feral cat and a pet," she said. "The city needs to be able to identify what is a feral cat and what is a house pet."

Resident Karen Faith suggested that noticing the difference between a house cat and a feral cat isn't necessarily that difficult.

"If you get a cat that's truly vicious or totally wild, that's a feral cat," she said.

However, Faith said the main problem is that sometimes house cats go missing for long periods of time, and she voiced concerns about the bylaw's proposed 96-hour time period for someone to claim a lost pet at the SPCA.

"That disturbs me," she said. "There are problems with miscommunication with identifying animals. I don't think you can have someone identify an animal in 96 hours."

Other residents disagreed with council's proposal to limit a residence to three pets per household - although those currently with more would be grandfathered in.

"I don't think you want to stop people from moving here because they have four pets," said Chad Cunningham.

Faith added: "A restriction on three animals should be revisited. You're punishing the people who are the most responsible."

Both Kim St. Pierre and Chantal Cornwall had issues with the language of the bylaw, which stated that the funds collected from licencing and enforcement "may be used" to fight the feral cat problem.

"'May be' helped? No, that needs to be changed," said St. Pierre.

Cornwall added: "It has to be addressed. We can't have a situation like we had at Atlin Terminal this summer when feral kittens were getting ripped apart by ravens right in front of the tourists."

Many of the residents said that council should instead be trying to come up with a spay and neutering program because, currently, many pet owners can't afford to have it done, while the responsible owners have already done it.

"In the U.S., every dollar spent on neutering and spaying ends up saving $10," said Cynthia Spillstead.

Mayor Herb Pond said that this part of the bylaw regarding cats had also come up via various complaints from Rupert residents, and while he agreed it is very difficult to keep a cat out of someone's yard, coming up with some sort of system to police it would help.

"We're not going to have bylaw squadrons running around chasing cats," he said. "But it gives you something where you can say you need to neuter or spay your cat."

Coun. Ken Cote added: "You have to find bad owners. It's not the animals, it's the people.
"And as people of Prince Rupert, we need to be good owners."

Find out in Thursday's edition of the Daily News about what happens next for the proposed bylaw.

Dog owners get their teeth into bylaw debate
By Patrick Witwicki
The Daily News
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Page three

Prince Rupert dog owners are convinced that city council is barking up the wrong tree when it comes to the new animal control bylaw.

And the overwhelming sentiment shared by many at this week's public hearing into the proposed bylaw was that the only people who are going to be punished by the bylaw are the responsible pet owners.

"There are bad people who train bad dogs," said Kelly McCrae, who owns a pitbull cross. She was one among many showing her displeasure that city council had come up with a "restricted dog" list that included pitbulls, while other breeds like doberman pinscher and rottweiler, were not included on that list.

"There are lots of dogs who attack who aren't those breeds," she said.

Doug Mackereth, another pitbull-cross owner, added: "I think putting money out there to discriminate against one person or another just isn't right."

Other residents asked how council had come up with the dangerous dogs list, and Doug Jay said it was based on lists that other communities around the province have accumulated.

But Coun. Ken Cote had a hard time believing that pitbulls are not a vicious breed.

"(Saying that) a pitbull is the same as a lap dog ... you would have a hard time convincing me that pitbulls aren't vicious," he said.

Donna Russell said that specific breeds are not the problem, but the problem comes from how dogs are being brought up by owners.

"A dog who has been properly socialized is fine," she said. "I can't say my dog will never bite, because I don't know how it's being provoked.

"But how come the city doesn't have applications for owners?"

Dan Russell added: "Any dog can be vicious. As a dog owner, I feel this is unfair to a lot of people."

But there were also letter carriers present at the meeting, who suggested that council should not weaken on the issue, and change the bylaw regarding dogs.

"You can't enforce something you don't have," said Kathleen Palm, a long-time local letter carrier. "Any dog can be a problem if it has teeth.

"Even the little yappers can startle a child."

Palm also said that specific breeds are not the problem, but the general size of a dog.

"I would rather be attacked by a jack russell than a golden retriever, because I can't be knocked down by a jack russell," she said.

Edith Michael, a superintendent with Canada Post, agreed with Palm.

She cited 20 incidents in 2007 where a local letter carrier has either been bitten or unable to deliver due a loose dog either in the street or in a yard.

"Most owners don't think dogs will bite, but they're wrong," she said.

Michael added that tying up a dog in the yard all day is not a good idea either, because it simply makes that canine more stressed.

"One of the worst things a dog owner can do is tie the dog up all day," she said. "It makes it more aggressive.

"That's what we need - more responsible owners."

Dave Fisher, one of the Fourth Avenue West residents who initially started the process that led to the proposed bylaw following concerns about pitbulls in his area, sided with Cote.

"I applaud (council) for taking this action and moving forward," he said. "I believe those breeds should be registered with the RCMP.

"RCMP are first responders ... it would be terrible if they're going in to save a life, and they're attacked by a dangerous dog."

Even concerns regarding the off-leash issue were discussed.

"I'm worried about Moresby," said Larry Golden, regarding one of the proposed off-leash areas for dogs. "There are kids going there.

"A (better) area would be one where everyone can see it from a block away, so it's safe."

Cote reminded people that the reason the bylaw had been drafted in the first place was due to the numerous complaints councillors receive on a daily basis from upset residents regarding dogs.

"This has evolved from complaints from citizens about unruly dogs," he said.

Mayor Herb Pond added: "If a neighbour and a neighbour end up in a dispute, we have something here we can work with.

"If only you knew how much money is going in to deal with neighbours fighting with neighbours ... right now, we have nothing we can do about that, and we don't want it to come to where someone says, 'I'm going to take care of this myself.'

"It's the owners that should be licensed ... that's an interesting comment."

Find out what is in store for the bylaw in Thursday's edition of the Daily News.

Mine project sidelined

As we outlined in this spot on Tuesday, the Galore Creek mining project has been suspended owing to spiralling costs and a high Canadian dollar, a move that will sideline a fair number of northwest residents who were preparing for the full development of the project.

The Daily News provided details on the shutdown plans in the Wednesday paper.

Rising costs bury mine project
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Pages one and three

Higher than estimated costs and the soaring Canadian dollar were both factors in the decision to halt a massive mining project in Northwestern B.C.

NovaGold Resources and Teck Cominco announced their decision to halt construction on Monday because of an anticipated $3 billion cost overrun.

More than 400 people are currently working on the Galore Creek project north of Smithers.
The announcement comes after an independent review of the Galore Creek feasibility study indicated "substantially higher capital costs" and a longer construction schedule.

It is a huge loss for business in the Northwest, including transportation companies such as Hawkair and Bandstra that were running services to the construction site.

It also puts into question the Northwest Transmission line, a new power line that was going to be partly funded by the mining company, and that would have opened the region up to other projects, such as hydro electric power plants and other mines.

In October of last year, a feasibility study conducted by engineering firm Hatch Ltd. determined a capital cost for Galore Creek of about $2.23-billion.

Teck and NovaGold now believe the capital cost of the project could be as much as $5 billion.
Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse, chief executive of NovaGold, said one factor is rising labour and material costs that are growing throughout the industry. The other is that the cost of building the tailings dam and water diversion structures at Galore Creek was grossly underestimated.
"Clearly, there was an underestimation of the amount of labour man-hours necessary to complete that work," he said.

But both Van Nieuwenhuyse and Teck CEO Don Lindsay maintained that they are fully committed to this project and expect it to go forward in the future. Teck plans to invest $72 million during the next five years to try and come up with an alternative development strategy for Galore Creek in the next five years.

"I believe this project is going to be built and we're just going to have to figure out the right way to do it. I'm a big believer in hanging onto resources, particularly in this next 20-year period," Lindsay said.

The Galore Creek partnership will conduct an orderly suspension of construction activities and will work with employees, the Tahltan Nation, local communities and other stakeholders to minimize the impacts of this decision.

NovaGold has spent a little more than $400 million on Galore Creek so far, and Teck will have invested $265 million by the end of the year. Both companies expect to announce write-downs related to the project, and said they are working to determine the amounts and timing.

Smithers Mayor James Davidson called the decision to suspend development of Galore Creek the biggest blow to mining in the region since the early 1990s when Tatshenshini-Alsek, the site of a potential mine, became a protected area.

However, Davidson added that he understood the mining firms' decision to suspend work on Galore Creek after cost estimates ballooned to $5 billion from about $2 billion.

"You can't argue with good judgement," Davidson said. His biggest concern, though, is that the Galore Creek mine project was a key element in justifying construction of a proposed $400-million power transmission line into the region.

Davidson said the power line is necessary for other potential projects, such as the Red Chris copper-gold mine and run-of-river hydroelectric projects that "without the transmission line, may never come to be."

This is the second huge blow to mining in the Northwest in recent months. The first was the decision by the joint provincial/federal environmental review panel not to allow Northgate Minerals to proceed with the Kemess mine expansion.

-With files from CanWest News Service

Rupertites help Prince George celebrate new terminal

Prince Rupert sent a contingent of 11 to help CN and Prince George open up their new inland shipment terminal, destined to be an important link to the Fairview Container Port.

Last Saturday, representatives of the Port Authority, Chamber of Commerce, Ministry of Economic Development and the Daily News were flown into the Central Interior to attend the grand opening of the Prince George terminal.

High on the agenda of speech making for the day was an acknowledgement of the importance of CN Rail to the development of the transportation corridor from Prince Rupert through to the southern United States, a corridor that now will benefit Prince George, by making it a distribution and loading centre for containers of BC and Alberta goods destined for Asia.

The Daily News featured the day’s activities as the front page story in Tuesday’s paper.


By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pages one and three

PRINCE GEORGE - Prince George on Saturday morning offered quite a change of scenery and climate for the 11 Prince Rupert representatives who attended the grand opening of CN Worldwide's new Distribution Centre and Intermodal Terminal.

But even the snow and negative temperatures couldn't keep members of the Prince Rupert Port Authority, Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce, Ministry of Economic Development and The Daily News from attending the event that took place inside CN's 84,000-square-foot warehouse facility.

Some 160 other invited guests also braved the frigid conditions to be a part of the noon-hour ceremony, joined by CN staff members as well as local and provincial politicians.

“All of us at CN are proud of our new facility. It used to be an old diesel shop, is’ sure changed,” said Jim Vena, senior vice-president of the western region for CN. “The new facility is a sign of CN’s commitment to this community and recognition of what it offers.”

The facility is the result of a $20 million investment by CN. Products will arrive at the facility either loaded in boxcars on rail tracks that enter the building, or by truck through any of the warehouse’s 38 bay doors. Goods that are destined for Prince George and the surrounding area are unloaded and Canadian products to be shipped overseas to Asia will then be stuffed into containers.

CN is able to move the loaded outbound containers to the container terminal here in Rupert in 15 hours, before they will be loaded aboard ships destined for Asia after brief stops at the ports of Vancouver and Seattle.

“In essence, CN, along with many of you here today have created a supply chain without any weak links,” said Vena. “For us at CN, it’s a dream we’ve had for a number of years, and it took a lot of work to get the terminal in Prince Rupert open. But now that it is, the opportunity is for Prince George and the surrounding communities and the service we can provide for Northern B. C.”

The Distribution Centre and Intermodal Facility will provide rail service daily, and operate from 5 a. m. to 9 p. m. seven days a week. Using lifts and yard tractors, the facility comprises the 84,000 square foot warehouse along with another 10 acres of outside storage.

The facility will be able to accommodate an annual capacity of up to 25,000 containers, with the potential for expansion. The products handled at the distribution centre will include, lumber, panel, wood, pulp and paper, as well as various palletized and bagged goods.

“Today, there’s a new corridor opening up, a corridor opening up between the fastest growing economies of the world in Asia and North America, and Prince George is going to play a very important role as we expand the new Asia-Pacific Gateway,“ said Kevin Falcon, B. C. Minister of Transportation. “If we are truly going to see this gateway materialize and benefit all of our communities, we have to make sure our entire transportation network is operating in sync, so that British Columbia, will, in fact, become the great gateway to Asia from North America.”

Prince Rupert Port Authority President and CEO Don Krusel also spoke to the guests, and began by acknowledging that there would be no trade corridor today without the work of CN Rail.

“Without that ribbon of steel rails that extends from the Port of Prince Rupert through Prince George and all the way to destinations in the heartland of North America, we would not be able to begin talking about importing Asian goods and exporting Canadian goods,” said Krusel. “This rail system, the best-operated rail system in North America, has allowed us to even dream of having this trade corridor, so thank you CN.”

The opening of the Prince George container facility marks one of the last developments to be completed, in what will be the first of many stages for container trade expansion between British Columbia and Asia.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Slowly back to the Podunkian script

Astute readers of the blog will have noticed a decline in production over the last week, owing entirely to some vicious flu like bug (perhaps just a bad cold but I'm nothing but a big baby) that has infested my throat, nose, chest and other sundry tributaries of my body.

It's been a nasty little thing that renders one mostly to a NyQuil haze of consciousness and nowhere near capable of stringing together anything worth reading. I'm sure that at one point I saw a fellow with a scythe waving a finger at me whilst he wandered around the house, but I could be mistaken.

My condolences to others that may have come across this plague, as it's not an enjoyable experience that's for sure. Somehow I'm not sure that all the handwashing in the world would be keeping it at bay. Perhaps a flu shot would have been a wise choice after all...

The fog of this thing is slowly starting to lift, so hopefully we get to a more reliable bit of commemorating on this space in the near future, and a whole whack of catch up to be taken on.

As they say in television, technical difficulties are temporary, please stand by...

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

A good night's sleep comes with a glass of milk

From a glass of milk many great things can come...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Suddenly the Cabinet wanted to break out in song...

Australia's new Labor Government elect is out of the blocks running, with a number of high profile appointments to the new cabinet of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

One name that has jumped off the pages is that of Peter Garrett, the nation's new environment minister and a former rock star in the band Midnight Oil.

They were an eighties sensation with their mixture of hard rockin' riffs and environmentally and socially aware lyrics.

It's perhaps the first time that a pop culture icon has crossed over to the establishment, while Bono, Bob Geldof and such all dance around the peripheral of politics, Garrett could very well be the first that will be able to actually implement what he has long been preaching.

The election of the Labor party in Australia is seen as major shift in direction for Australia's political scene, less inclined to walk in step with the United States and looking more towards its own sphere of influence in the Asia Pacific theatre.

Of particular concern in Australia during the election was the seemingly out of touch nature of former Prime Minister John Howard, who seems to have missed the change of direction of his nation regarding international issues and the environmental concerns in Australia.

One thing is certain, the new minister will bring a dandy positioning statement for the ministry.

The time has come
To say fair's fair
To pay the rent
To pay our share...

Somehow you get the feeling that the environment is about to get a whole new agenda in Australia...

Power corridor plans for Northwest to be left on the drawing board?

With the Galore Creek mining project in a suspended state, so to may be plans to electrify the Highway 37 North corridor.

The 400 million dollar plan approved last month to hook up that corridor into the BC Electrical grid is considered on hold now.

And without a major private sector investor to step up and invest into it, there’s a good chance it will stay on the shelf for the foreseeable future.

Besides becoming the main user of the electricity to be generated by the project, Galore Creek were scheduled to inject 158 million dollars into that 400 million dollar price tag.

Without their participation, the government has its doubts that the feasibility of the project.

The Vancouver Sun has posted to their website some background on what led to the second look at the project.

Collapse of Galore mine project leaves transmission line in limbo
Without private sector investment, B.C. won't fund electricity link
Scott Simpson
Vancouver Sun
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A $400-million plan to link northwest British Columbia to the province's electricity grid is indefinitely "on hold" without a major private sector investor to provide seed money for the transmission project, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Richard Neufeld said Tuesday.

Galore Creek Mining Co. was supposed to put up $158 million to get the transmission line started, but that commitment evaporated on Monday when Galore principals Teck Cominco and NovaGold announced they were halting development of their northwest B.C. mine project due to a stunning increase in development costs.

The northwest transmission line is regarded by the mining industry as the catalyst to development of several promising metal and mineral deposits in the area -- those deposits are effectively stranded at present by lack of access to the BC Hydro grid.

Northwest communities now rely on diesel generators to produce electricity.

Only last month, Premier Gordon Campbell announced at a mining conference in Vancouver that the transmission project, to run along the Highway 37 corridor in the vicinity of Telegraph Creek, had been approved.

But B.C.'s approval was contingent on substantial contributions from the private sector, and Galore's suspension meant there was no longer money to get the project started.

The Mining Association of B.C. expressed the hope that the provincial government would find a way to keep it moving.

"It wasn't just about Galore although that was a significant anchor for it," association president Michael McPhie said in an interview.

But Neufeld noted that without Galore, there wouldn't be a customer for the large volume of power that the planned 247-kilovolt, 335-kilometre line would bring into the area.

"Our immediate response obviously, unless we hear something different from Galore Creek, is that the transmission line would be put on hold," Neufeld said.

"They were the main contributor -- $158 million. But also the only consumer -- other than to get some of the communities on to the electricity grid immediately.

"Until we get some sense that there is maybe someone else out there who would maybe want to consume that kind of electricity and actually contribute substantially to the construction of it, I think it's prudent for government to say, 'Well, why would we build a line up there that's not going anywhere?' "

Last May, Teck and NovaGold announced a partnership to develop Galore Creek at a projected cost of $2 billion, with employment for 1,000 workers for four years during the construction phase, and 500 permanent mining jobs lasting at least 20 years.

However, a new study of costs associated with building an earthen tailings dam and rerouting a waterway came in far higher than anyone had anticipated -- a projected total development cost of $5 billion.

Association for Mineral Exploration BC president and CEO Dan Jepsen said members are "deeply concerned" about the fate of the transmission project.

"People are quite discouraged right now," Jepsen said in an interview. "There is no doubt in my mind that if the power commitment was carried out we would see an escalation in exploration interest in the area and hopefully the discovery of some additional deposits up there.

"The exploration community certainly wouldn't be in a position to provide financial support to the powerline. Some of the other projects that would benefit, that is the [proposed] mines, are probably running numbers right now to see how their whole project fits together."

Anxious times again in Kitimat

Just what are Alcan’s intentions? That is most likely the number one topic in Kitimat these days.
Last weeks testimony before a B. C. Utilities board has left more questions on the table than it has answered, with a Hydro official admitting that a proposed new power sales deal does not necessarily bind Alcan to an upgrade of its smelter in the aluminum (for now) city.

For their part Alcan representatives testified that they are at the hearings because they still have a plan in place to build in Kitimat

"If we weren't planning to do anything with the plant, with the smelter, we would not be here,”

That answer in response to the questions over power sales to the province and the impact they may have on any upgrading of the Kitimat Works plant.

Yet the uncertainty continues in the long running drama, especially in the eyes of the District of Kitimat who have long been suspicious of Alcan’s motives.

Trafford Hall of the District, summed up their concerns with the thought that power sales seem to be the main focus of Alcan’s moves of late.

“The commercial incentives are not really there to build a smelter," Hall said.

"It's very concerning from a commercial standpoint for the community. Every time they've had a choice between metal and power sales, they've chosen power sales."

Added to the mix of late has been the fact that Alcan’s new owners, an Australian mining group known as Rio Tinto has itself been the target of a takeover bid, giving the drama of the northwest a very international flavour all of a sudden. And one that very well may be beyond the grasp of the BCUC, the Province of British Columbia and the people of Kitimat.

The Vancouver Sun published an interesting examination of the latest developments in the Saturday Business section of the Sun.

New Alcan-Hydro deal questioned
Kitimat's future uncertain after disclosure firm is no longer bound to modernizing smelter
Scott Simpson
Vancouver Sun
Saturday, November 24, 2007

The economic future of Kitimat grew more uncertain this week, based on testimony at a hearing into a new power sales deal between BC Hydro and Alcan.

Alcan's aluminum smelter is Kitimat's main employer, and an executive with the company said it is still planning a $2-billion modernization of the B.C. north-coast facility.

However, a Hydro official acknowledged this week in testimony before the B.C. Utilities Commission that a proposed new power sales deal will not bind Alcan to a smelter upgrade.
An earlier, failed deal between Hydro and Alcan included a commitment by Alcan to undertake the modernization -- as well as a long-term power sales agreement involving surplus Alcan power that Hydro wants to buy and put onto the B.C. grid.

The earlier deal committed Hydro to pay Alcan about $72 per megawatt for surplus power from the 50-year-old Kemano hydroelectric facility that Alcan uses to power the smelter.

At peak, Alcan would be selling enough power to light 200,000 homes.

The agreement was announced by Premier Gordon Campbell.

But the BCUC tore up that deal, ruling that Hydro was going to pay too much -- it costs Alcan only about $5 per megawatt to produce electricity at Kemano.

The revised deal, which was the subject of a BCUC hearing this past week, starts out with a standard payment to Alcan of $46 per megawatt for its steady electricity supply -- but goes up three per cent per year, and is accompanied by payments of $82 per megawatt beginning in 2010 for the last 15 per cent on each delivery of steady or "firm" power.

Hydro is looking for firm power as a means of augmenting run-of-river and other green electricity sources such as wind power, which are usually available only on an intermittent basis. .
Kitimat estimates the new deal commits Hydro to pay an average, in the near term, of about $60 per megawatt -- lower than the amount proposed in the previous contract.

In testimony before the BCUC, Alcan spokesman Paul Henning noted that the company already has a contract in place with Hydro that runs through 2015 -- and it is only because of the modernization scheme that the contract is being reopened.

"If we weren't planning to do anything with the plant, with the smelter, we would not be here," Henning said.

He said Alcan plans to have in place "a much bigger smelter" by 2012, and the existing contract simply doesn't leave the company with enough power for the modernized facility after it meets its commitments to Hydro -- although Alcan will continue to have surplus available for sale to Hydro.

But Kitimat Mayor Richard Wozney, in Vancouver for the hearing, said in an interview that he is troubled by the absence of a firm Alcan commitment to modernize the smelter.

Wozney said the deal proposed by Hydro and Alcan is "just basically a power sales agreement, and there is no commitment whatsoever by Alcan to build the modernization project. That is still the concern to us as a community."

Wozney noted that Alcan promised in 1998 to undertake a modernization to double the smelter's capacity, but never followed through.

This time around, there's nothing on paper to commit Alcan -- and the formerly Quebec-based company is now owned by an Australia-based multinational mining company that is itself a takeover target.

"Alcan is more interested, as far as we are concerned as a community, in doing power sales than they are in doing the modernization.

"We will have to wait and see if they are actually going to do anything.

"And of course [that is] complicated by the fact that Rio Tinto has taken over Alcan."
Kitimat district manager Trafford Hall said in an interview that the commercial incentives to build a smelter, as opposed to simply selling power, "are not really there."

Hall noted that earlier this year the district lost a B.C. Supreme Court case arguing that Alcan had a long-standing contractual obligation to use water from the Kemano River to generate electricity for aluminum.

Instead, the court ruled that the original 50-year-old contract between Alcan and B.C. allowed the company to use the water according to its own needs -- including eschewing smelter operations in favour of power sales.

"The commercial incentives are not really there to build a smelter," Hall said.

"It's very concerning from a commercial standpoint for the community. Every time they've had a choice between metal and power sales, they've chosen power sales."

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

How Sonny Bono became a Republican?

Law and Order and that whole drug thing

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Have your say on highway concerns

If you have any questions about winter driving on the North coast, Wednesday night will be when you could get the most information in one place on the issue.

The Ministry of Transportation, ICBC and the RCMP will be hosting an information session at the Crest on Wednesday night, from 7:30 to 9 p. m.

Road conditions and the way they are approached in the winter seems to be the main aspect of the evening’s discussion, though it seems to be a rather informal affair so perhaps other concerns regarding winter travel can be addressed as well.

We suspect however that asking about such things as the location of radar enforcement zones and Christmas road check locations might raise an arched eyebrow from the panel, likewise suggesting you all get together for a night cap in the lounge might be a little against the topic of the road safety of the night.

The Daily news featured details on the session planned for Wednesday in Monday’s paper.

Highway safety concerns drive call for meeting to air the issues
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Monday, November 26, 2007
Pages one and three

The Ministry of Transportation, Insurance Corporation of British Columbia and RCMP are inviting the public to have their say on winter road conditions in the Northwest.

"There's some sentiment on our part that we should be talking to the public about what we are doing, what ICBC is doing, what the RCMP are doing and what the maintenance guys are doing to make sure we deal with winter the best possible way and encourage drivers to do the same," said Don Ramsay, district manager for the Ministry of Transportation.

The groups will be hosting a public forum in Prince Rupert Wed., Nov. 28, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Crest Hotel. Representatives from the three groups will speak about their roles and responsibilities in promoting winter safety on Highway 16 as well as answer questions.

“We will be talking about staying prepared and driving appropriately in winter conditions,” said Ramsey.

This is third in a series of presentations. Other forums took place earlier this month in Kitimat and Terrace.

“We have had a number of complaints, not many from Prince Rupert, but in the Northwest in general there have been a lot of concerns after last year’s extremely difficult winter,” he said.
“We set all kinds of snowfall and rainfall records, records for how many times we crossed the freezing mark, up and down.

Road conditions around the Northwest last year prompted city councilors to bring the issue forward at the North Central Municipal Association’s annual general meeting.

The Northwest Highway Watchdog Committee put out the petition to call for improved snow-clearing and winter maintenance of Northwest highways because the road conditions this winter, particularly between Smithers and Terrace, were dangerous endangering commercial traffic and the general public alike, the committee said. Snow was going uncleared for hundreds of kilometers and icy roads were not being salted or sanded.

They received 7,000 signatures from around the Northwest.

The calls for action included the Bulkley-Nechako Regional District asking the North Central Municipal Association to write to the Minister of Transportation requesting a review of road maintenance classification specifications in order that roads and highways receive adequate levels of service to ensure that they remain open and safe for communities, businesses, and the traveling public.

And the District of Kitimat asked the North Central Municipal Association to urge the Government of British Columbia to ensure sufficient funding is available to provide an adequate service, and to ensure an appropriate transparent process of both performance and financial auditing is instituted to ensure that proper performance is delivered.

And the nominations are…

The award season is about to arrive on the North Coast as the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce seeks out candidates for its 2007 Business Excellence Awards.

Member businesses can download the nomination forms from the Chamber of Commerce website at and they must be returned by December 14th to the chamber office.

The Award winners will be chosen by a committee and handed out at the Chambers gala event on January 26th.

The Daily news provided details on the categories and nomination criteria in the Monday paper.

Chamber looking for best in the business
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Monday, November 26, 2007
Page one

The Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce is seeking the cream of the crop for its 2007 Business Excellence Awards.

"These awards are membership driven," said Wendy Prystay, president of the chamber. "Please take five minutes to look over the nominations and fill them in."

The nomination period closes Dec. 14 and the award winners will be recognized during a gala event Jan. 26.

"Be ready to pull out your tuxedos and beaded dresses for this gala event," she said.
Categories include Business of the Year (in business for longer than three years with more than 25 employees,) Small Business of the Year (in business longer than three years with less than 25 employees,) Rookie Business of the Year (in business less than three years), City Ambassador Award (for a business, organization, individual or group that demonstrates enthusiastic support for and promotion of the community,) Non Profit of the Year, Customer Service Award, Community Involvement Award (presented to a business that contributes significantly to recreation, amateur sports, arts, education, business development or the promotion of Prince Rupert) and Looking Good Award (presented to the owner of a commercial or industrial property that has been renovated or restored to the extent it has a positive impact on the community.) The winners are chosen by a committee and kept a secret until the night of the red carpet gala.

Nomination forms can be downloaded from the Chamber of Commerce website at and returned to the chamber office or faxed to 624-6105.

Wanted: undercover operatives with a sweet tooth!

"We are conducting searches and gathering evidence to determine the facts.”

Sounds like it could be another major fraud from the financial sector. Or perhaps more skulduggery from the Outlaw motorcycle gangs or old time Mafia families.

But no, the full weight of the law is set to come down on the world of the chocolate makers, an apparently secretive world of supply and demand and one in which Canadians annually spend some 2.3 billion dollars on tasty and sweet confections.

Price fixing is the concern of the Competition bureau and they're hot on the trail, trying to determine if there's more than the secret to the Caramilk bar that Canadians apparently need to know about.

According to a story in the Globe and Mail, Federal regulators have launched an investigation into allegations the Canadian divisions of Nestlé, Cadbury, Hershey, Mars and others have teamed up in a price-fixing scheme in the multibillion-dollar Canadian business of chocolate bars.

Talk of conspiracies and cartels are being mentioned as the investigations get underway, investigations that they say could take more than a few years to complete. John Pecman, the Competition Bureau's assistant deputy commissioner was quick to stress that: “There are no conclusions of wrongdoing at this time,” concluding that the Bureau is just at the investigative stage of the process.
Still when you think of the cocoa plant and its byproducts, the term cartel certainly wouldn't come to mind about your favourite chocolate bar, then again it's an addiction and one learned from an early age, so perhaps it is the perfect product ripe for the taking.

Just think that chocolate Santa you chomp into on Christmas morning could be nothing but the product of unrequited greed, kind of runs counter to the spirit of giving now doesn't it!

They say that chocolates can make you fat, but it would seem that the consumer may not be the only one living large off of the confection...

Shop around the clock or until you drop!

Have a craving for socks and underwear at 4 am? Well if you want to plan ahead and make a drive you can fill your nocturnal hour wishes

Wal Mart Canada is taking the Christmas shopping experience to 24 hours beginning December 1st, with 80 of their 278 locations staying open around the clock until Christmas.

In a press release issued yesterday Wal Mart's Canadian senior vice president of Operations Syvain Prud'homme suggested that "One way to get into the holiday spirit is to take the stress out of shopping," stress that apparently can be relieved by all access shopping whenever the urge strikes we assume, "We hear again and again, the single most meaningful change we can make for holiday shoppers is to deliver convenience. What's more convenient than a store open whenever you're ready to shop?"
Cynics might answer have enough cashiers to get a customer out within 24 hours but we digress..

So far the closest that the North Coast can get to a 24 hour Wal Mart experience is the Prince George store, which begins its round the clock openings on December 1st.

Wal Mart suggests that shoppers consult their up to date list after December 5th, to see if the Terrace operation joins in on the round the clock frivolity.

So whether you're a last minute shopper, one of those procrastinating shoppers or just someone with a little too much time on your hands, there's now a Wal Mart greeter (perhaps Jack Bauer) with your cart at the ready whenever you are.

Nisga’a celebration welcomed all to share in their traditions

Last week the Nisga’a nation held a Feast of Blessing at the local Nisga’a Hall, as its members gathered to celebrate their traditional work that has been accomplished in the last year.

It was a ceremony of continuity as the youngest members of Nisga’a continue to guard their culture and the traditions passed on from their elders.

The Daily news featured details of the celebration as their front page story on Monday.

By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Monday, November 26, 2007
Pages one and three

With nearly 60 new sets of drums, 40 pieces of regalia, moccasins and eight button-blanket replicas, there were plenty of items for Prince Rupert's Nisga'a community to celebrate and bless on Thursday night.

The all-ages community Feast of Blessing at Nisga'a Hall last week was a chance for the community to gather and celebrate all the traditional work that's been done over the past year, as well as welcome other residents of Prince Rupert to witness the blessing ceremony.

"It didn't take a whole year to work on all of the stuff, but it was all made through the whole year," said Carol Smythe Doolan, Gitmaxmak'ay Nisga'a Society programs and services coordinator. "Basically, everything that hasn't been blessed since the last Feast of Blessing was brought in. It takes a lot of time to make everything, but also to get all the people together. You're lucky if you can get them all out on one night," she said.

The Feast saw a great turnout, and everyone who attended had a chance to fill up on seafood or beef soup and fired bread and other foods before the ceremonies began. New Horizons Committee member Max Haines made a speech in which he thanked all the volunteers, women and young men who made the night a possibility through their hard work, as well as everyone who created the traditional items.

“It’s really encouraging to know that the youngest person to make a drum was only three years old, and the oldest was 92,” he said. “To know the younger generation is preserving the culture, because we almost lost it at one point.

Creating the drums and the regalia is a hands-on learning experience for all the Nisga’a people who take part in making something, as they are guided by the chiefs and matriarchs throughout the creation process.

Many people sew their own regalia, and the elders were able to teach the correct colours or crests to use, since they have to be specific to the house that a person belongs to.

“I’m very pleased to see this night happening, because we almost did lose our culture at one point,” said Sim’oogit Hay M’aas, who also addressed those gathered to explain the significance of the blankets, drums, and regalia.

“But there’s so much pride in the origins of our culture, and it is getting a lot stronger now that we have control of it and it is respected,” said Sim’oogit Hay M’aas.

The drums were put together during seven workshops, with 10 drums made at each meaning there were anywhere from 65 to 70 new sets introduced into the community. Unfortunately, not everyone who put together traditional pieces was able to attend the feast, since many people had to leave town at the end of summer for education or employment.

After Reverend Peter Nelson conducted the blessings and led everyone in prayer, gifts were given out to all those who came to witness the blessing, while tables were also cleared from one half of the Hall to make room for a drum and dance performance.

After numerous songs, dances and drum drills, many people who gathered were exhausted from their emotional evening, and ready to head home for bed.“I believe the Feast of the Blessing may have begun as just a thought, but now it’s a reality,” said Rev. Nelson. “They could have called it many things, but I think they were moved by the Creator to call it a Blessing.”

Prince Rupert Historica--November 27

It was a long time landmark in the city holding down the lot where Northwest Community college staff, students and faculty now park their cars.
The Savoy Hotel a favourite watering hole for the fishing industry workers, was destroyed by fire in one of the infamous fires of Prince Rupert history.
This photo goes back to the early days of its construction in 1910.
You can view the wide selection of photos from the early days of Prince Rupert from this archives web page link.

A night of Timbits Terror at the Tourney

Minor Hockey took a black eye on the weekend in Ontario, when eight year old players at a tournament in Guelph emptied the benches and began to brawl, all while their parental coaches were busy arguing with each other and reportedly in one instance spitting at each other.

Guelph police were called on Friday night to investigate the end of the game incident when an organizer of the weekend tournament turned to the Zamboni driver to call them to the arena. The on ice brawl took place at the end of a match featuring the Niagara Falls Thunder Novice AAA team who had just lost 8-1 to the Duffield Devils. On ice chippyness and hard feelings boiled over rapidly leading to the unbelievable display of eight year old kids going toe to toe on the ice.

There were conflicting reports as to how the incident started, with one witness suggesting that the coaches were trying to hold the players back, while at the same time others insisted that not only were the coaches involved in the caustic atmosphere they were urging their young charges to fight.

Sergeant Cate Welsh, spokeswoman for the Guelph police put the weekend events into perspective including the unusual nature of the call. "We've certainly been sent to the arenas for disturbances, but generally it's involving parents or fans,"; "But not sending kids at that age level onto the ice [to fight]. That's the allegation made at this point, that they both cleared their benches, and, wow, it's a pretty young age."

The fingers are pointing with most of them directed to the visiting Niagara Falls squad as the instigators of the dark night for minor hockey.

So far in the minor hockey investigation the Niagara Falls coaches and trainers have been suspended pending further investigation of the events. Sadly while thousands of games take place over the course of a weekend without incident and in the spirit of fair play and sportsmanship, it will be the events of Guelph that once again draw attention to the way that the national game is being taught to the youngest of players.

They already have an intensive coaching program for minor hockey coaches, but it would seem that more work is required to emphasize the fun and eliminate any of the nonsense that took place on Friday night.

Clearly over the weekend somebody was missing the point of playing the game for the love of the sport, it’s a lesson that hopefully the Ontario Minor Hockey Association will make all participants aware of with any number of sanctions up to and including suspending the coaches for their lack of control.

There’s hardly any place left in the game in the pros for the bench clearing brawl, but when the eight year olds are clearing the benches then there’s a fair amount of work that still needs to be done with the game.
The above post first appeared on my HockeyNation blog, for more items about hockey check it out!

Galore Creek mining project shut down for now

One of the larger projects in the northwest of late is in a suspended state today, after the Galore Creek copper-gold mine project was suspended by Nova Gold and Teck Resources due to ballooning costs.

Originally budgeted to come on line for two million dollars, recent estimates to put the project into operation were tagged at five million dollars, a rather risky prospect it seems for the mining company.

Another potential casualty of yesterday's announcement could be the plans to increase the power delivery capability to the area which was on track for a major expansion in the next few years.

The news was greeted with regret in a number of northwest communities who felt that it was one of the few “sure things” on the way for the local economy.

The Tuesday Vancouver Sun had further details on Monday’s announcement.

Galore Creek project on hold - for now
Backers say it could be revived if economic conditions change
By Scott Simpson
Vancouver Sun
Monday, November 26, 2007

VANCOUVER - Work on a landmark British Columbia mining project came to a screeching halt on Monday after its Vancouver-based proponents decided a projected $3 billion cost overrun made the massive Galore Creek copper-gold mine development in northwest B.C. too expensive to proceed.

The chief executives of Galore Creek proponents NovaGold and Teck Cominco expressed deep regret about the decision, which will affect hundreds of workers, members of the Tahltan First Nation, and also threatens a $400-million plan to connect the northwest to BC Hydro's electricity grid for the first time in history.

Only six months ago, NovaGold and senior Canadian miner Teck Cominco announced a partnership to build Galore Creek for $2 billion - based on calculations in a 2006 feasibility study of the project.

On Monday, the president-CEOs of the respective companies cited a number of factors including a stronger Canadian dollar, "rapidly escalating" construction and material costs, and unanticipated higher costs for a mine tailings dam and waterway modifications for pushing the cost of the project from $2 billion to $5 billion.

The value of NovaGold shares plummeted more than 50 per cent on the Toronto Stock Exchange while Teck, down five per cent, was relatively unscathed.

Teck had warned in late October that Galore Creek would go significantly over budget but did not specify by how much.

The companies said the project is going on what they described as "care and maintenance" while they review their engineering options for the dam - and perhaps wait for both the Canadian dollar and B.C.'s thriving construction industry to cool down.

Galore Creek is considered the flagship for a new generation of B.C. mines, a property boasting a rich, world class resource in a remote wilderness area linked to the rest of the province by a spectacular tunnel under a glacier-covered mountain.

It was projected to provide 1,000 jobs during a four-year construction phase and 500 full-time mining jobs lasting at least 20 years.

It was also a triumph for relations between first nations and the province's resource industry, with NovaGold and the Tahltan forging a strong and unique relationship in support of development of the mine.

The Tahltan in particular were counting on the mine to provide a transition for their members working at the Eskay Creek gold-silver mine that will run out of ore next year.

The decision is also a blow to the B.C. mining industry, which has been waiting since 1997 for a major, all-new mine to open in the province.

The industry was also counting on a Nova-Teck contribution of $158 million, announced last month, to jump-start a $400 million transmission infrastructure project in the northwest.
The area has several promising mineral and metal properties,but no legitimate mining opportunities without a link to the electricity grid. Galore Creek was supposed to change that.

"I think this points to a bit of a larger issue in the sense that mining isn't immune to the economic pressures that every industry in this province is facing in terms of upward pressures on cost, the Canadian dollar, labor issues and all the rest of it," said Michael McPhie, president of the Mining Association of British Columbia.

"Galore is a big, complex, remote project that was one of the larger mining projects anywhere in the world. We've been seeing cost overruns and escalations in prices in the oil sands now for several years."

McPhie said it's not surprising that similar inflationary pressures emerged in B.C.
"The difference is that everyone in the industry is surprised that the numbers went up so fast and so high. That I think is a surprise to all of us."

McPhie said he is hopeful that the B.C government will find a way to enable the transmission project to proceed, even without seed money from Galore Creek.

NovaGold president-CEO Rick Van Niewenhuyse said cost increases for the tailings dam and water diversion structures were the biggest factors in the decision.
"We are not happy with the risks we'd face if we went forward with the current plan," Niewenhuyse said in an interview.

"We've jointly come with Teck Cominco to a decision, we think it's the right decision, to suspend construction, do an orderly shutdown, an orderly suspension of the operations and put it on care and maintenance - then direct our engineering teams to reassess the project and to look at alternative ways of constructing the in-valley [dam and water] works."

Asked if it was unusual for a mine feasibility study - typically undertaken by an expert mine engineering firm - to grossly underestimate the true cost of the project, Van Niewenhuyse said other mines have seen similar jumps.

But he didn't anticipate that Galore Creek would be one of them.

"The magnitude of the change certainly came as a surprise to ourselves and to Teck," Van Niewenhuyse said, adding that NovaGold will look for ways to lower the costs of developing the mine.

"This is a very major project for B.C. and for Canada. We want to do it right. We are committed to building the project to the highest environmental standards.

We will continue to work with the Tahltan First Nation in finding a new approach that will make it economically viable."

Teck president-CEO Don Lindsay said the companies believe a cautious approach will be better in the long run.

"Certainly we've seen other instances in the industry where people kept charging ahead and spent a lot of money, then found out later they'd spent it in wrong places or in ways that weren't productive. I think the prudent thing to do, for both NovaGold and ourselves, is to step back and re-engineer, and figure out the right way to develop this," Lindsay said.

He said Teck expects the project will eventually be built.

"You have to put it in context. The worldwide mining industry in the last three or four years has spent $20 billion on exploration and it hasn't really found that much. It hasn't been that successful. Most of the projects you see talked about in Powerpoint presentations are things that were known of before.

"It hasn't really discovered another Galore Creek, so this resource is valuable and we want to hang onto our share of it and I know NovaGold does, too, because we believe it will be developed.

"But at the same time, to the extent that the capital costs have gone up so quickly it means your level of confidence in what the ultimate number is, is reduced and it's more prudent to slow down, step back, and make sure you've got the engineering absolutely right."

Biggest blow to the area since the 1990s, mayor says
Derrick Penner
Vancouver Sun
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

News on Monday that development the multibillion-dollar Galore Creek copper-gold mine in B.C.'s remote northwest is being suspended sent the region reeling.

The Galore Creek mine was the biggest sure-thing, mega-project fuelling economic development from Smithers to the tiny villages of Telegraph Creek and Dease Lake. It promised hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars worth of procurement.

"I think [the Galore Creek mine] was the focal point of a lot of the optimism going on here with real estate and housing and business expansion," said Phil Bandstra, manager of Bandstra Transportation Services Ltd. in Smithers, a major transportation company in the region.

Bandstra said he was shocked to see the news as he had his morning coffee.

"I had no expectation this was coming down the pipe," Bandstra added.

His company had established daily freight transportation service for the mine. Bandstra said they were contemplating the need to expand and add equipment as mine construction proceeded and opportunities to bid on contracts increased That work will no longer exist.

Smithers Mayor James Davidson called the decision to suspend development of Galore Creek the biggest blow to mining in the region since the early 1990s when Tatshenshini-Alsek, the site of a potential mine, became a protected area.

However, Davidson added that he understood the mining firms' decision to suspend work on Galore Creek after cost estimates ballooned to $5 billion from about $2 billion.

"You can't argue with good judgement," Davidson said.

In the meantime, however, there will be lost jobs. Davidson noted that the Galore Creek operation currently has an office employing about 20 people.

Smithers is also a hub for delivering services to northwestern mine sites, so those in transportation, bridge and road building will also be affected.

His biggest concern, though, is that the Galore Creek mine project was a key element in justifying construction of a proposed $400-million power transmission line into the region.
Davidson said the power line is necessary for other potential projects, such as the Red Chris copper-gold mine and run-of-river hydroelectric projects that "without the transmission line, may never come to be."

Davidson now fears that with the huge Galore Creek project on hold, the impetus to build the power line will diminish, "and it may well be, I hope it isn't, but it may well be the most significant casualty."

Curtis Rattray, chairman of the Tahltan Central Council, said that in a region where employment has traditionally been seasonal and jobs ranged from hunting and guiding to working for B.C. Parks, the Galore Creek development offered his communities a significant payroll.

"This [mine] was the most important [project]," Rattray said.

"We had a participation agreement and our people had ratified that participation agreement."
That agreement offered up to 200 jobs in Tahltan communities in the northwest -- home to about 1,500 of the first nation's 5,000 to 6,000 members.

The agreement also called for payments into a Tahltan heritage trust fund, which would have been used to support cultural initiatives in the first nation's communities.

"What happens now is we wait and get more information," Rattray said.

He added that the communities now have to focus on the less certain options of other proposed resource developments in the region.

We'll be right back after this short commercial Message November 26

One way to battle second hand smoke

Filtered or unfiltered only his laundromat knows for sure!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Taxi, Taxi er oops make that just taxi..

In Podunk it sometimes seems like the cabs outnumber the regular cars when you're driving around the downtown area, that however is not a problem that they have in Fort St. James.

The Town's only Taxi was stolen earlier today, taken out on a road trip of sorts and found at a motel parking lot in Prince George.

Someone would have yelled out follow that car, but there wasn't another cab around to make the chase practical..

We've heard of one horse towns before, but a one cab town?

Taxi Stolen In Ft St James Recovered In Prince George
250 News
Monday, November 26, 2007 06:53 PM

4 people are in custody after the only Taxi cab in Ft St James was stolen earlier today in Ft St James and recovered later in Prince George

The cab was spotted shortly after 1.30 this afternoon in the parking lot of a Motel on Central.

A local resident followed the stolen taxi and police nabbed the four persons riding in the vehicle.
2 females and two males have been arrested in connection with the theft. They range in age between 22 to 27 and all are known to police.

Mount Oldfield slide still stirs memories for one Rupert family

Last Thursday we went back to 1957 and the memorable Mount Oldfield slide of November.

The Daily News had an interesting look at that slide in its Friday paper, with a review of the events from the perspective of a couple that had their wedding plans coincide with the regions best known natural disaster.

Anniversary of tragic day still a fresh memory for local couple
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, November 23, 2007
Pages one and two

Although you wouldn't guess by the sunny weather, yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of one of the worst natural disasters in Prince Rupert's history, when a mudslide down Mount Oldfield claimed the lives of six people.

The North Coast of British Columbia is famous for its November storms, but few inflicted such damage and took as much from the city as the storm that blew through Prince Rupert on Nov. 22, 1957.

In the 18 hours leading up to the noon hour slide, 3.9 inches of rain had fallen with the accompaniment of gusting winds, a combination that eventually brought trees, mud and rocks down the hillside in what witness Jack Krug described "as [if] the whole mountain was moving".

In less than six minutes, the slide had killed four men and two women, including 64-year-old George Henderson. Young married couple Tom and June Perry perished, along with fisherman John Jordan Vandal, as well as longshoreman John Murray, and his wife, Merle. The Murray's 18-month-old daughter, Selma, was the lone survivor, and, after being treated at the Prince Rupert General Hospital, she was adopted by her uncle, Gene Rheaume.

Two Prince Rupert residents who remember the day well are Norman and Madeline Craddock, whose wedding day was scheduled for the day before that catastrophe. During that horific, but typical, Rupert storm, Madeline had a hair appointment at the House of Beauty that she diligently kept.

"Peggy, just put my hair in pin curls. I'll comb it out before the ceremony," she said to her stylist. "If this weather keeps up, my hair will be as straight as a poker before the night is over."
Her home phone was ringing when she returned with calls from friends asking if they were going to cancel the wedding due to the weather.

"Of course not!" she replied. "Since when did a little Rupert rain stop a wedding?"

The day had more obstacles than simply weather to throw at them. Mrs. Husoy had agreed to bake the cake and mistakenly thought the wedding was on the Saturday, instead of Friday, and Norman's best man had a allergic reaction that would keep him from being in the wedding party.
Fortunately everything came together and the ceremony at the Sons of Norway Hall proceeded as scheduled.

"During the ceremony, the minister would pause as the gale would try to snatch our words away," said Mrs. Craddock in a story she recently wrote about her wedding day. "Norm seemed to think the storm outside was tame in comparison to facing the crowd. He tried to hurry me out."

After a sleepless night in the Savoy Hotel, acting as an alternative to their original destination, the Parkside Motel, at which the manager had somehow "forgot to reserve a room," the happy couple were escorted to the plane that was supposed to whisk them away for a honeymoon. But it wasn't meant to be, as the airline attendant explained, the cloud ceiling was so low that no planes were landing. Not even a bus driven by Freddie Switzer could get the newlyweds past Kloiya Bay and on to Terrace, where there was some hope of catching a flight. The bus gave out, leaving passengers Maddy, Norm and his mother (who was supposed to 'see them off') to hop in a truck that took them and their soaking wet luggage to Miller Bay, where a city taxi then took them the rest of the way home.

"Well, that was a short honeymoon!" joked Madeline's father when they walked in the door.
By noon of that day, a thick fog had fallen and suddenly there was a terrible roar, leading everyone to believe that in fact a plane had taken off. But later in the day when the fog lifted it was clear that sound was that of mud sliding down Mount Oldfield, smashing through a small cabin and continuing down to Wantage Road.

"It smothered homes and shanties," said Madeline. "Several lives were snuffed out, but miracle of miracles, someone had found a wee babe."

After much discussion, it was decided they would travel to Vancouver by steamship on the SS Coquitlam for their much-needed honeymoon. They booked two rooms, one of which was supposedly the 'honeymoon suite,' and boarded at midnight.

"To this day, we will never know if there was a honeymoon suite, or if Norm's mom was given our cabin, but when we opened the door we were overcome with giggles; our honeymoon suite had two single beds!" Madeline remembers. "Needless to say, when the room steward came to do the cleaning, he had only to make up one bed!"

The Craddocks have since moved back to Prince Rupert for their retirement after spending many years on Vancouver Island, and Wednesday marked their 50th wedding anniversary, although they celebrated over the weekend with friends and family.

"Over the past 50 years, we have learned to dance through the storms together, knowing the One who watches over us has promised to take us to the other side."

The Daily News would like to thank the happy couple for sharing their wonderful story of that day that they've entitled The Torrential Tango for Two, as well as honour the memory of the six souls who perished in the tragic mudslide 50 years ago.

City councillor picks up the torch on Highway of Tears

Prince Rupert City Councillor Joy Thorkelson has picked up on the concerns of the areas MLA Gary Coons, by urging the city to follow the lead of other Northern communities in placing a sign on the city outskirts to discourage hitchhiking, the common denominator in most of the disappearance on the highway.

Thorkelson who attended the Prince George symposium two years ago is concerned about the lack of progress on the issue and feels that many of the concerns raised two years ago have fallen by the wayside.

The Friday Daily News provided a front page story with details on her thoughts and what she hopes to see done to bring more attention to the issue.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, November 23, 2007
Pages one and three

One city of Prince Rupert councillor wants to follow other Northwest communities and place a warning sign about the so-called Highway of Tears.

At the last Prince Rupert council meeting, Coun. Joy Thorkelson noted that there has been little follow through on the western end of the highway following recommendations from Prince George two years ago.

"When I went to the symposium in Prince George and came back, at that time we thought the RCMP would be tasked with being a liaison between the Prince George committee and what was going to go on. My guess is that has sort of fallen by the wayside," she said.

In March 2006, the Highway of Tears Symposium held in Prince George was organized by First Nations and Aboriginal organizations to address the numerous disappearance and murders that have occurred along Highway 16 - the Highway of Tears - during the past two decades.

Thorkelson suggested the city follow the direction of the Kitimat-Stikine Regional District and put up a sign on the highway to discourage hitchhiking, given the numerous disappearances of young women over the years.

"A number of those young women came from here, worked here or were murdered just out of here. There's a highway sign now in Kitsukalum. It would sure be nice to have a highway sign here," she said.

"We could just probably copy somebody else's board, we don't have to be original."

"The two boards I have seen are pretty similar," said Thorkelson.

She added that the city, in upcoming meetings with bands such as Kitkatla, Lax Kw'alaams and Metlakatla, should also discuss the possibility of establishing protocol with the RCMP in cases where young women or children go missing.

"Maybe we could talk to them about their feelings on this issue. I am quire concerned we try to get involved in the Highway of Tears," she said.

On Oct. 12, the RCMP stated that the investigation of missing and murdered women in the Highway of Tears inquiry had expanded from nine women to encompass 18.

The review by the RCMP expanded the geographic scope of the Highway of Tears from the 800-kilometres between Prince George and Prince Rupert to now include the Kamloops-to-Prince George corridor as well.

The most recent disappearance in the Northwest was that of Tamara Chipman, who was last seen hitchhiking outside the Prince Rupert industrial park in September 2005.

The young mother was heading from Prince Rupert to her home in Terrace.

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Slurry in a hurry on the way to Rupert?

An increase in mining activity in the Stewart area may be of benefit to the Port of Prince Rupert and spread benefits around the Northwest.

Fortune Minerals which is developing the reserves in the Mount Klappan area, has set about on an economic assessment on the cost of transporting their coal products to Prince Rupert via a pipeline system leading to the CN main line.

It’s a project that could create jobs for the Northwest, if it were chosen as the transportation shipment point for Fortunes finished project.

The Daily news featured the story in the Thursday edition.

Pipe could siphon coal to Rupert
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Pages one and three

A mining company in the process of developing a new coal mine Northeast of Stewart is looking at the cost of building a pipeline to get its coal to the nearest port.

Fortune Minerals announced in late October that it has hired an engineering firm to conduct an economic assessment of the cost of transporting coal products from its Mount Klappan site by pipeline in the form of slurry - a water mixture.

The idea, according to Robin Goad, Fortune Minerals president, is to assess whether alternative methods of conveying coal to the port of Stewart and Prince Rupert would mitigate the impacts of a stronger Canadian dollar and increasing fuel costs, and reduce the environmental impacts with the use of existing transportation corridors.

"Fortune has commissioned this study in support of our commitment to aggressively manage the costs and profitability of developing our huge Mount Klappan asset, at the same time we are determined to minimize the impact it has on our environment," said Goad.
“We are confident that this independent engineering review will show us an option that will meet all of these objectives so we are very much looking forward to seeing (the) report.”

Once the coal arrives at its destination in slurry form, Fortune Minerals would then have to press the coal into briquette form for transport.

According to Goad, the anthracite pellets would then be sold for use by the global steel manufacturing industry. Notably, low ash content briquettes of suitable size, strength and quality are likely to command premium prices on the international market and would also facilitate loading and handling at the railway, port and receiving steel plant.

The capital costs, which would run into “the hundreds of millions” – Goad couldn’t be specific because shareholders have yet to be informed of the final figure - were comparable to the capital cost of linking up to the railroad,” he said.

Slurry pipelines from mines have been used before but mainly in terrain that’s inaccessible to motorized transport. The pipeline assessment asses production rates of 1.5 and three million tonnes of clean coal per year along three different route options from the mine site located 150 km northeast of the port of Stewart and 330 km northeast of the port of Prince Rupert.

The first route is west from the mine along the currently proposed truck haulage route to a load-out and dewatering facility to be built at the port of Stewart (about 250 km), the second route is south from the mine along the existing B. C. Rail right-of-way.

The pipe would end in a facility to be built at the current terminus of track at Minaret which is about 150 km from the mine) for rail haulage of product through Prince George to Prince Rupert.

The third route is south from the mine along the railway right-of-way to Minaret, and then southwest to New Hazelton (about 350 km) to a facility to be built on the CN main rail line to Prince Rupert from where it would be loaded onto vessels for delivery to international customers.

Back in 2005, the company assessed the cost of transporting coal by both truck and rail to the ports of Stewart and Prince Rupert.

However, those costs have likely increased since then, due to the increase in fuel costs and the rising Canadian dollar.

With files from the Prince George Citizen.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lack of support over Highway of Tears initiatives draws anger from opposition

The two NDP members of the legislature from the Northwest, Gary Coons and Robin Austin have raised their concerns over the lack of governmental action in the cases of the Highways of Tears.

While the investigations into the numerous disappearances continue, under a low profile, the opposition is wondering what has happened to the many recommendations of the Highway of Tears Symposium Report.

It was a much heralded discussion session that spawned the report, which has seen little in the way of follow up since it was released.

The Daily News outlined the local MLA’s concerns as a front page piece in Thursday’s paper.

By Kris Schumacher ,
The Daily News
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Pages one and three

Sparks flew in the B.C. Legislature this week as North Coast MLA Gary Coons blasted the government over their lack of support for the Highway of Tears Initiative.

New Democrat MLAs have been hounding the province for months about what they see as government inaction toward providing funding to protect women's safety and support for the families of the victims along the Yellowhead Highway 16. But Coons said he is not about to let the government ignore their responsibility to further address the issue, and proved so on Monday in Victoria.

"It is shameful that this government had abandoned women of Northern B.C.," Coons told the legislature.

“The victims’ families do not deserve to be abandoned by an uncaring government.”
Coons’ comments are the most recent in a long line of criticism by the NDP over the way the government has handled the mounting crisis of women who have either disappeared or been killed while hitchhiking along the stretch of highway from Prince Rupert to Prince George.
Skeena MLA Robin Austin and Coons also sent a letter to Solicitor General John Les on Monday requesting that the funding and support to initiatives that will hopefully improve the future safety of women in the region.

“It is time for the provincial government to take the file seriously and provide meaningful support to the Highway of Tears project,” said Austin and Coons in the letter.

“The government’s lack of support is having a devastating effect on this crucial project. The Highway of Tears has not disappeared, and neither should government funding. It’s time that we take back the Highway before another family grieves the loss of a daughter.”

In their letter to the solicitor general, the MLA’s requested immediate funding for two coordinator positions for the project, and they ask for funding for the full set of recommendations as listed in the Highway of Tears Symposium Report.

The letter also requests funding for an additional position of an event coordinator as recommended by Carrier-Sekani Family Services.

Last month, it seemed as if Lisa Krebs, who holds the only paid position in charge of implementing recommendations along of the Highway of Tears, would be out of a job after government didn’t renew funding for her salary. It wasn’t until the last minute that Carrier Sekani Family Services, out of whose offices Krebs works, announced they would be funding her salary and work for a second year. However, even with Krebs on the job, Coons and Austin are adamant that the job is too large for just one person.

“This is a tragic, ongoing story of disappearing women in our northern communities. The Public Safety Minister has forgotten all about the Highway of Tears Project and ignored requests for funding,” Coons continued in the legislature Monday. “The community has made it clear they need this project to improve both the safety of women who travel on Highway 16, and to provide real support to the families of victims who have been murdered.”

The positions and recommendations from the Highway of Tears Symposium focus on victim prevention and support for victims and families, including counseling services and a shuttle service for safe travel between each town and city along the highway.