Thursday, September 17, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Thursday, September 17, 2009

Homelessness becomes a talking point again in the city, Highway 37 gets electric tidings and the City has a new Fire Chief. Some of the highlights of the Thursday news cycle.

HIGHWAY 37 TRANSMISSION LINE GETS THE GO AHEAD--The much discussed Highway 37 corridor electrification project received a signifcant boost on Wednesday, as the Prime Minister announced federal funding for the Northwest Transmission Line. The feeback from northwest politicians and stakeholders was reviewed with a front page story. (Daily News Archives see article here)

The homelessness issue once again returns to the top of the discussion list in Prince Rupert with a call for funding proposals issued by the Prince Rupert Steering Committee on Aboriginal Homelessness. A look at the needs of the homeless in Prince Rupert and those that know of the issues first hand was provided in Thursday's paper. (PG Citizen link) (Daily News Archives see article here)

The departure of the province from overseeing of the fish farm industry was examined with further details on the shift of responsibility from the province to DFO. (PG Citizen link) ( No Daily News Archive item posted)

The City of Prince Rupert has a new Fire Chief, as the former Deputy Chief Dave McKenzie was promoted to the top post, having served three years as the number two man at the fire hall. He replaces Fire Chief Ron Miller, who retired from Prince Rupert Fire Rescue after thirty three years of service, seventeen of them as Chief. (Daily News Archives see article here)
Another successful Terry Fox run in Prince Rupert, as over 23,000 dollars was counted from last weekends run (Daily News Archives see article here)

The Sports section previews the upcoming Duffers tournament this weekend, which as seems to be the norm for this event will be played under some challenging weather conditions.

Mayor welcomes transmission line, but MLA questions provincial commitment--The announcement of funding for the Highway 37 electrification project is greeted positively by local officials (see story here)


Highway 37 transmission line gets the go ahead
By Patrick Witwicki

The Prince Rupert Daily News
Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Stewart-Cassiar Highway is going to get wired.

It's a project the provincial government has been talking about since 2004, but with the announcement coming from Stephen Harper's Conservatives Wednesday morning, it looks as though the proposed Northwest Transmission Line will finally go ahead.

Harper made the announcement in the midst of meetings with U.S. President Barack Obama, and suggested that this could be one way in which Canada can connect with Alaska.

Here in the Northwest, local authorities are just happy to hear it's going to happen.

"It's a good story for the communities along Highway 37," said Prince Rupert Mayor Jack Mussallem. "It will cut their costs for electricity. That electrification will make everything more affordable.

"And it's a good opportunity for the entire region. It's going to enhance trade and commerce opportunities."

The new 287-kilovolt line will extend 335 kilometres from Terrace, up to Meziadin Junction, and all the way north to Bob Quinn Lake, servicing all areas along Highway 37.

While the community of Stewart won't be serviced by this new line, Stewart's Mayor Angela
Brand-Danuser said that the people of the region have been waiting for this announcement.

"It has been in the works for a long time, but this is pretty good," she said. "The provincial government has been faltering with it a little bit, but the federal government is picking up where Nova Gold left off.

"It should signal to us for the project to continue."

The community of Stewart used to thrive off the mining industry, but the economy there, like much of the Northwest region, has been in decline for the past few years, so the prospect of jobs in the area is a welcome one indeed, said Brand-Danuser.

"There will be hope for jobs with construction in it, and then hopefully jobs in the mines," she said. "A good 10 properties up there need the power."

Thanks to the money promised at the federal level, the provincial government on Wednesday also announced that the project could now proceed.

"We are pleased that the Federal government has recognized the importance of the NTL and we are pushing ahead with the $404 million NTL that will open mining and energy opportunities in the northern part of the province," said Blair Lekstrom, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum.

"NTL will help communities in the region transition away from diesel generation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

The federal government echoed those statements, stating that the NTL will provide the area with cleaner energy, but in the same breath, should assist in opening up the northern corridor.

"Our government is pursuing joint projects with President Obama and his administration. Our government is taking action to promote cleaner energy use," said Harper.

"The British Columbia Northwest Transmission Line will build a more efficient electricity grid, increasing our use of clean and renewable sources of energy generation in the years to come."
Mussallem said it's a win-win for everyone in the Northwest, whether it's Stewart, Terrace, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, or any other community along the Highway 37 corridor.

"It creates employment opportunities, trade, and commerce for everybody," he said.

As with most major projects in B.C., the proposed transmission line has its opponents, many of whom are concerned about the environmental issues that may arise as a result of its installation.

"This transmission line is about electrifying coal and metal mines mines more than it is about clean, green energy," says Eric Swanson, Dogwood's Corporate Campaigner."

"Research shows that there are a variety of much less expensive options for reducing the carbon footprint of diesel-dependent communities in the region," says Swanson. "Canadians have real cause for concern if money for green energy is being used in such a disingenuous way."

But the number of accolades seemed to be rising above the protests as the BC Chamber of Commerce added their voice to the many who are welcoming this decision.

"Support of British Columbia's infrastructure like this is obviously never more welcome than during difficult economic times," said John Winter, President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. "And this particular project is paramount to the province's development. Its development will open up so many possibilities."

"This is possibly the single biggest thing that can be done right now for energy and mining," commented Winter. "Not to mention how the surrounding communities will benefit - and the economy of Northern BC as a result. The Northwest Transmission Line will create a ripple effect of improvements throughout BC."

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