Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year to all ye Podunkian browsers

We'll take a break for the night from the blogosphere to wish one and all a very Happy and safe New Years Eve, our hope is that 2008 is a very good year for you and yours.

Now as a public service for those that get stuck at midnight wondering just what the words are to that silly New Years Eve Song, here suitable for memorization (or calling up on your browser at the last minute) are the words to the perennial favourite tune as the midnight hour approaches...

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

Chorus: For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes
And pou'd the gowans fine.
We've wandered mony a weary foot,
Sin' auld lang syne.

We twa hae sported i' the burn,
From morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin' auld lang syne.

And ther's a hand, my trusty friend,
And gie's a hand o' thine;
We'll tak' a right good willie-waught,
For auld lang syne.


We'll be right back after this short commercial break December 30

What other sport can combine exercise, drinking and house cleaning.

Come get swept off your feet!

Almost game time at Buffalo's neighbourhood backyard rink

It's traditional in many parts of North America that the first day of the New Year is greeted with a polar bear swim, where hearty souls jump into a lake, harbour or river for a brief invigorating splash and then dash.

On New Years Day the NHL version of the Polar Bear swim will be a regular season game played outdoors at Ralph Wilson Stadium, located within a gust or two of the lake effect winds and elements of Lakes Ontario and Erie.

The two teams have been preparing as best they can for such an experience, perhaps trying on the latest in Stanfields and ordering in those heated therma blades suddenly all the rage, rewiring them for a more all encompassing glow.

The game which has been in the preparation stages for a few weeks now will be played on a finely crafted sheet of ice, which has been undergoing the kind of attention that most Canadians would understand from their days of outdoor rink making. Layer upon layer of ice is almost in the final stage for the outdoor spectacular, which now is left in the hands of Mother Nature.

The latest reports for the Buffalo area on New Years Day have for temperatures near the freezing mark with the potential for several inches of snow and wind by game time to make things a little on the cool side, though nowhere near as frigid as the last time this outdoor experience was made in Edmonton in the Heritage Classic of November 23.

During that game it was said that the best seat in the house was the one on the bench beside the heaters, it very well may be the in demand seat once again on Tuesday when the Pens and Sabres take to the ice at the largest neighbourhood rink in Buffalo.
NBC--Tuesday, January 1, 2008 1 pm ET, 10:00 am PT
CBC--Tuesday, January 1, 2008, 1:00 pm ET, 10:00 am PT

NBC Sports--Winter Classic blog
Sports Illustrated--On Frozen Pond
Pittsburgh Tribune Review--A Readers Guide to the Winter Classic

The above post first appeared on my HockeyNation blog, for more items on hockey check it out!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The final word on flatulence

Need an ice breaker for your New Year’s Eve party, then Dr. Michael Levitt has just the statistics to give your talking points an air of authority.

Dr. Levitt is one of the world’s foremost authorities in the world of flatulence, those bodily aromas that can empty a room in record time or break the sound barrier of good taste.

The doctor who self admits that “I know a lot about gas” has an endless flow of statistics to help us learn much, much more about farting that we may ever have hoped to have known.

There are countless numbers of factoids for our education and for some enjoyment, found in a report that was posted to the CTV News website this weekend, with one in particular tweaking our interest.

Dr. Levitt, quotes statistics gleaned from an Australian panel of judges who surveyed numerous captured scents from all walks of life, male and female.

From those findings it has been determined that women, not men have the uh, most aromatic of flatulence.

The conclusion: "Women had more sulphur gas and were judged to have more potent odour.''

This will make for wonderful chit chat as you and your special New Year ’s Eve beau prepare for the New Year. We do suggest however, that perhaps you wait until after the traditional New Year’s Eve kiss before sharing this very important bit of scientific knowledge.

Otherwise your New Year ’s Eve experience is going to be a very lonely, lonely one we suspect.

Trail becomes proactive in crime fighting

In Trail, in BC's southwest corner, they've decided that in order to gain results in the fight against crime you have to be willing to spend a little money.

They've impressed upon the criminal element of the city that unless they keep clear of trouble they will find themselves under the watchful eye of the unit, that or they of course have the option of relocating to a more welcoming community less concerned with public safety.

So far Trail is quite happy with their 180,000 dollar investment, Councillor Robert Cacchioni, who holds the public safety file for the city of Trail calls the unit a "great investment", pointing to drug house busts, increased surveillance and the arrest of many in the criminal culture that were wanted on outstanding warrants.

Compare their efforts in Trail to other communities in the province that are currently working with a reduced police force or have reduced their funding and you can understand why the crooks are looking for greener pastures that Trail these days.

Hazelton's suicide crisis gains province wide attention

The Vancouver Sun featured concerns for the youth of the Hazeltons, with an explosive front page feature story in this past weekends Saturday paper.

It's an eye opening account of the troubles that are walking among the young and not so young of that northwest community, where since January of this year police, doctors and health officials have struggled to respond to a staggering 111 suicide attempts and eight deaths. A total that is four times higher than reported figures of just one year ago.

The article holds nothing back as it explores the causes of the regions troubles, the problems of the local residents to cope and how they hope to turn around the despair and try to provide a bit of hope for a troubled part of the region.

It by no means is the only community in the northwest with problems, the concerns that are being found in the Hazeltons can be found in many of the communities along Highway 16, but by sheer volume of numbers they seem to be the epicentre of distress at the moment. The story opens a window to a topic that far too many don't wish to address and delivers an important message that there is a need to work for a solution.

The article is quite a powerful account and one that should provide eyewitness testimony to the stages of despair that can suddenly spiral out of control, leaving a community in shock and seemingly helpless to address the issues that overwhelm them.

Vancouver Sun, Saturday, December 29, 2007

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

The office can be a very competitive place.

Anything you can do, I can do better..

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ok, they're pretty good!

Perfection, that was the word that the hype machine that is the NFL was pushing earlier today.

Setting the scene of a one game showdown that could vault the New England Patriots into the upper echelons of NFL lore, a team ready to claim the title from Don Shula's remarkable Miami Dolphins of 1972.

Heading into Saturday's game in New Jersey against the Giants, the coronation had all but been made, the Giants expected to be mere tackling dummies on the way to the accolades for Bill Belichick and his finely tuned football machine.

Normally Saturday night around the Podunkian tube is given over to Hockey Night in Canada (though a recently arrived Wii machine seems to be making its muscle felt of late), however with the woeful Toronto Maple Leafs on one channel and the Washington Capitals laying a surprising early waste to the Ottawa Senators (who at least fought back unlike the Leafs) on another, we decided to settle in and watch what many said would be NFL history Saturday night.

So while we tried to ignore Bryant Gumble as best we could (on three channels no less), we watched and must admit we shared a certain amount of contrarian glee as the New York Giants led by Eli Manning (little bro to Peyton) suddenly appeared to be more than ready to challenge the Pats for the right to steal away Shula's glory. (We should have known better!)

For three quarters, the Giants played some amazing football (well for them anyways), normally given to fumbles and interceptions during the year, they marched down the field numerous times to take a surprising twelve point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

And then the roof caved in as they say, Tom Brady, who will not doubt lay claim as one of the best ever quarterbacks in NFL history went to work. He turned a twelve point deficit into a twenty two point swing, as the Patriots solidly turned the game around in less than fifteen minutes.

With pinpoint passing, suddenly crushing defense and a will to win that you could almost taste through your television, they quieted what was once a boisterous crowd, trouncing the Giants in those final fifteen minutes and securing their place in the NFL archives for many years to come.

It was a most remarkable performance and the thing is, you could see it coming well before it actually began. Brady has become the master of the never say die drive, if there's a deficit on the board he'll erase, need a cushion he'll provide it. Desperate for a last minute drive, he's the guy to give the ball to.

If an upset was in the air at halftime, the result seemed never in doubt as the gun sounded to end the final game of the regular season for both teams. Despite a close looking score of 38-35, the fourth quarter comeback by the Patriots really is larger than the narrow margin of victory, by the games end it was pure domination by a team that has been in control for most of those 16 games.

16-0 a remarkable record by all accounts, made even more impressive by the fact that it is two more than Shula's team needed back in 72. And compiled in a completely different era of football.

It was a record that seemed only in peril twice this year, once with the Indianapolis Colts and then in a surprisingly close affair in Baltimore, in both cases, Brady was the genesis of the comeback, the win and continuation of the streak. The Giants made a game of it, but in the end they couldn't stop the genius that seems to be Brady's trademark, he sees the game on a different level than most and on Saturday he once again found the way to win, when it was needed the most.

The Patriots now will benefit from their hard work with a first week bye in the NFL playoffs, a chance to rest up, recover from nagging injuries and begin to work on the plan off attack for the playoff run. The three quarters of Giants success a warning sign that there is still much preparation to be made for the road to the Super Bowl.

However, they can take a day or so to enjoy their success, 16-0 is by far an amazing accomplishment, yet for some it will mean nothing really should they stumble in the playoffs. Somehow, you get the feeling that is not something that seems likely.

This could be the best assembled football team in NFL history, each part a compliment to the next, each player keenly aware of the mission at hand. They've conquered those ghosts of 1972 and made a record their own, with three more wins they'll be carving their own legacy in the NFL tablets.

Judging by the way they came back from near disaster on Saturday, it's probably time to make sure that the chisels are sharp and the stones are ready!

Podunkian Music Club

Amy Winehouse—Rehab

While 2007 may be known as the year of the Britney Spears implosion, not to be left off your list of bad girls gone wrong is Amy Winehouse.

Winehouse, the British gossip gal is finishing off the year in fine style with arrests in England and summons to appear in Norway; clearly trouble has a way of finding the gal.

Google her name and you’ll find a list of troubles that would keep any PR agent busy for years, yet musically this may have been her finest year.

While she ponders the ways of change that surely must be made to her lifestyle (with or without legal assistance), a listen to her single Rehab of this year is a worthwhile venture for any fan of soulful confessionals.

With a catchy hook intro and one cookin’ house band (every apartment dweller should have a band like this in their bathroom) we are lead through the trials and tribulations of a damsel in denial. You can hear mixes of jazz, soul and r and b in the tune, which highlights her voice well and moves along at a nice little clip.

It’s a song reminiscent of some of the greats of early sixties, with that Phil Spector feel to it and some great musical atmosphere to go with her stylishly delivered lyrics.

She first appeared on the British music scene in 2003 and has been on the cusp of stardom through to this year, only to have personal issues seemingly sabotage her career at almost every turn. 2007 in particular while proving to be a breakout year for her in North America, also seems to have been a most self destructive year, which is proving to be a larger issue for her than she may think.
While normally the music industry gives a fair bit of latitude to those that run into trouble, being unavailable to support your breaks to larger markets isn't always the best strategy. With six Grammy nominations for 2008, her troubled 2007 could prove to be problematic for the follow up introductions.

Considering her recent bouts with the law in England, Her plaintive declaration that they want to send her to rehab but she says No, No, No is more than slightly ironic, perhaps a sequel is in the works, where she says Yes, Yes, Yes…

If she’s hopeful to keep recording, it might be the only thing that keeps her on track. With material like 2006's Rehab to work with, you have to hope that she gets it all together.

If she can chase her demons there may be a much more rewarding future for her after rehab, both the institution and the song!

Artist--Amy Winehouse
Recording--Back to Black

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

Public protest should be so enjoyable..

Bringing out the heavy artillery!

Opening communication on the north coast

Prince Rupert, Port Edward and the local First nations communities of the North coast recently got together to go over shared issues in the area, taking part in a dialogue that local officials hope will prove to be a template for future sessions.

The Daily News provided some of the details on the conference which identified some common interests to work on for the good of the entire region, the front page story examined the findings of the conference and where it may lead to in the future.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, December 28, 2007
Pages one and three

Prince Rupert and Port Edward ended the year by hosting a community-to-community conference, and it hopefully will set the stage for good things to come.

The city and district invited their First Nations neighbours to sit down and talk, with few goals in mind, just as a way to open the lines of communication.

"Invitations were extended to four communities: Lax Kw'alaams, Hartley Bay, Metlakatla and Kitkatla," said Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond.

Both Metlakatla and Kitkatla were well represented.

"We had a hard time scheduling it, so we finally just set a date and said whoever can come can come and we will start there," said Pond.

He said he hopes representatives from the other communities will be able to participate in future talks.

"We are certainly interested in bringing them in as we move forward."

There was nothing formal on the agenda for the forum.

"It really was a blank slate. I think that was part of why it worked. We agreed, all of us, if all that came of the day was that we talked ... then that was an OK outcome. Because of that I think it far exceeded everyone's expectations."

Pond said they explored the ways in which they relate to each other and the obstacles that keep them from working together more closely.

"We relate to our neighbours on a level of government that has to provide similar services: sidewalks and streets and recreation facilities," said Pond.

And they also recognize they all share the same hub of services.

"It's called the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital but it's really the North Coast's hospital. It's as much Kitkatla's hospital as it is Prince Rupert's hospital," he said.

Oddly, some of the challenges that keep them from working together are the agencies that each community deals with at the federal and provincial levels, he added.

At the end of the day, Pond said they did come up with some ideas they would like to work on for the future.

"I believe we could see some of those rolled out in 2008," said Pond.

Building stronger relationships with its First Nations neighbours has been identified as a priority for the city both in past plans and, most recently, in the city's official community plan.

However, it is not the first meeting the city and district have had.

Last January, the Metlakatla Band Council kicked off 2007 by hosting the Prince Rupert Stakeholders monthly meeting in Metlakatla.

Metlakatla extended the invitation as a means to build positive relations with the Prince Rupert service providers and to update the group on the current activities of the Metlakatla First Nation.

The stakeholders represent an informal group of Prince Rupert and region service providers and local politicians who meet to share information in order to reduce possible duplication of programs and services as well as to create partnerships within the communities.

The Metlakatla venue provided an opportunity for each of the participating organizations to meet the Metlakatla Band Council and administrative executives.

Charles Hays troubles continue to echo in the community

The shocking story of alleged sexual misconduct involving a teacher at Charles Hays Secondary School was featured on the front page of Friday's Daily News. As the paper provided a recap of the story that was reported here earlier this week as well as in the Vancouver media and beyond.
The Daily kept to the simple facts of the story with a short sidebar item in Friday's paper.

School is rocked by sex charge for teacher
The Daily News
Friday, December 28, 2007

Page one

Another Prince Rupert teacher, the second in 2007, has been formerly charged with three counts for the alleged sexual exploitation of current and former students at Charles Hays Secondary School.

Dana Allison Monteith was arrested on these charges on Dec. 22 and appeared before a justice of the peace on Dec. 23. He was later released on nine strict conditions, which include not having contact with any female person under the age of 18 at his residence; and not being in the company of any female person under 18 except in the company of an adult over 25 years.

The offences allegedly took place between June 2005 and July 2007, and it is alleged that he used his position as a teacher to facilitate relationships with his victims. The investigation is ongoing. Police say they are concerned that there may be additional victims and/or witnesses who have not yet contacted RCMP.

Anyone with further information is asked to contact the police at 627-0700.

Monteith is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 14 at 9 a.m.

Earlier this year, another Hays teacher, Michael Kolesar, a special needs teacher and athletics coach, was charged with two counts of alleged sexual assault and two counts of alleged sexual exploitation of a person with a disability.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Working for kibble to keep you safe

If a chocolate lab parks itself in front of your car or house, it might be best to think about finding a lawyer.

Since July, crime fighting has had an extra set of eyes, ears, nose and paws as Canadian Border Services Agency introduced Bailey and her handler to the North Coast.

The CBSA website has a section dedicated to their canine unit and dog handlers, an informative look at their duties as well as a photo gallery of pictures featuring a cuddly but effective bunch of dogs ready to seek out any kind of contraband.

The Daily news had a front page story in Thursday’s paper detailing the success of Bailey, the cost effective crime fighter for the Rupert area and how much work is involved to keep her fit for duty.


By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pages one and two

While Prince Rupert RCMP await the arrival of a new inspector and a staff sergeant, the community is fortunate to have two newly-arrived law enforcement officers already busy taking a bite out of crime.

Canadian Border Services Agency officers James Scott and his partner Bailey got to town in July, and they have settled into their new home and job quite nicely.

The two have been together since April, when Scott completed a 10-week training course in Quebec where he was partnered with Bailey. And they are nearly inseparable, except at night when Bailey sleeps in her kennel in the backyard.

"Our relationship is just like a family pet, but with different types of training," said Scott. "We're partners every day, 24/7.”

One of only 72 human/canine partnerships in the CBSA, Scott and Bailey are a drug and firearms detection unit that has been highly valuable in their service to citizens of Prince Rupert and Canada.

The two are active in inspecting vessels and passengers that dock locally, whether cargo ships, container ships, cruise ships or ferries.

“In addition, we do work, with the RCMP and other government agencies, like U. S. Customs,” said Scott.

“We’re also involved in executing search warrants, and of course training every day. Bailey has been very successful in her short career in Prince Rupert so far.

There are some ongoing investigations, so I can’t give out any details. But she’s been successful detecting firearms and drugs in Prince Rupert since July,”

Bailey is a playful two-year old chocolate lab, and her partner is a university grad with an education in political science and sociology.

Scott says that going from being a regular CBSA officer to a dog handler was a large lifestyle change because of the responsibilities that accompany the job.

“You have to be dedicated to your job to be a dog handler,” said Scott.

“You have to be willing to always be on-call, you have to travel on short notice, you have to take care of the dog and maintain them at home. It’s been a big lifestyle change for me, but it’s worth it when you get to see your dog progress and advance.”

While Scott’s relationship with Bailey is similar in many ways to that of the average dog owner, once a year the pair is evaluated by CBSA officials to ensure Bailey is progressing in detection and Scott is fulfilling his training duties.

“At the same, she’s fully integrated to me, my family and my life, with a few exceptions – I can’t treat her like a regular dog, like let her in the house or give her treats. She’s on a strict diet and needs very specific training every day,” said Scott.

The CBSA uses labs as the breed of choice for drug and firearm detection due to their size and social nature, since a majority of their job involves inspecting small areas and working with people. Labs are also best suited for the job since detectors need to fit into small spaces – labs are agile and have enormous amounts of energy.

While it’s obvious that narcotics would have distinct smells, the common smell of most guns is something humans can’t easily detect. Bailey and other detector dogs are able to become familiar with the scent of a firearm due to the gun powder, gun oil and blueing agent common among all firearms.

“It’s a very distinct odour, as all guns that come out of the factory have been fired at least once and carry the odour” said Scott.

With drug training, the dogs are introduced to the scent of what are referred to as ‘soft drugs’, such as marijuana or hash, which carry a strong scent. When they locate the drug, they are taught to notify the handler with a reflex, such as sitting in front of the suspected area. That successful behaviour is rewarded through positive reinforcement, in Bailey’s case getting to play with her Kong toy for a short period, running around and having fun.

“After the basic training, we’ll make the hides harder and get the dog to a search pattern,” said Scott. “Through repetition and training, they gradually learn to look for that odour in order to get their praise and reward.

As much as Scott might like to think of Bailey as his dog, she is the property of the CBSA. The partnership does come with some perks aside from the obvious companionship, such as Bailey’s food and vet costs being covered, and the custom outfitted SUV with a kennel built into the backseat for traveling.

“I’m liking the job up here, and I have plans to stay as long it’s exciting up here,” said Scott. “Right now, it’s a great time for CBSA. In the past few months I can see we’re making a difference and helping keep the community safe.”

Rogers wireless service is still weeks away

The third would be cellular provider for the North Coast has run into a few delays in its plans to introduce service to Prince Rupert and area.

Rogers Communications which originally had hoped to be up and running by November has revised its forecast and hope to have their popular service in operation on the North coast in the first quarter of 2008.

The Daily News had details of the company’s delays and its hopes for the future in the Thursday edition of the Daily News.

Weather has Rogers pushing its start date into ‘08
By Leann Ritchie
The Daily News
Thursday, December 27, 2008
Pages one and three

Having already missed their November goal of having wireless services in Prince Rupert, Rogers Communications Inc. is now shooting to have the service up and running sometime within the first quarter of 2008.

"We were working to a very aggressive timeline, and had hoped to turn the network on before Christmas," said Gordon Nelson, vice president and general manager for Rogers Communications Inc. in B.C.

"However, given the scale of this type of construction project and the fact that it involves multiple partners and inclement weather, we will be bringing Rogers wireless service to these areas by the end of the first quarter of 2008. The good news is that the building phase in these two communities is almost complete, as residents will no doubt have noticed."

From installing towers on tall buildings downtown, to working on installing cell towers next to Highway 16, there has been a significant amount of infrastructure work needed to bring the Rogers service to the Northwest.

Rebecca Catley, spokesperson for Rogers Communications, said their original timeline was quite aggressive and the weather has not been kind.

"The construction is almost completed. We are just finishing that piece off. Then, there is testing that needs to be done and then we will be flipping on the switch," she said.

"We are being quite conservative (with the timeline) with the weather being the way it is right now."

Rogers is the third cellular provider to enter the region. CityWest and Telus already provide cell service in the area.

CityWest is in the process of switching over from its former provider to NorthWest Tel, a division of Bell Canada in order to offer a wider range of text and data services for cell phones.
Meanwhile Rogers' network build along the Prince George-to-Prince Rupert corridor of Highway 16 is slated for completion in the summer of 2008. This will bring services to all the communities between Prince George and Prince Rupert.

The cost of bringing the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) wireless voice and data network service along Highway 16 is $10 million.

Rogers announced in September that it would be entering the region.

The first phase of the network expansion will bring Rogers Wireless service to Prince Rupert and Terrace in the first quarter of 2008 with the towns of Smithers, Kitimat and Hazelton set to follow later in the year.

When they officially flip the switch, Rogers will be making a full announcement to let the community know that the service is available.

Province’s port tax policies leave cities short of cash

With the provincial government proposing to extend the Ports Property Tax Act by another ten years, some politicians are concerned that municipalities may end up on the short end of the financial straw when it comes to revenues gained from taxation.

North Coast MLA Gary Coons fears that the current policy as it exists may in the long run be detrimental to cash strapped local municipalities (hmm anyone have any ideas about who that may be?) who require revenue streams, but will be trapped in a financial plan stuck in 2003.

His concerns and an explanation of the port tax policy was found in Monday’s Daily News.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Monday, December 24, 2007
Pages one and three

North Coast MLA Gary Coons is concerned that North Coast municipalities might lose in the long term under the provincial government’s proposed tax cap for ports.

“While I believe it is important to support the development and expansion of ports, it should not be done at the expense of cash-strapped municipal governments,” said Coons.

The province is proposing to extend the Ports Property Tax Act by 10 years, which was initially brought in in 2003, caps the amount municipalities can tax port properties and then provide compensation from the provincial government based on 2003 property assessments.

For the past three years, Prince Rupert has been receiving the biggest top-up from the province of all eligible municipalities, $1.38 million.

But Coons said the province is planning to extend the act for 10 years, but continue basing the compensation on 2003 assessments. While there will be some adjustment for inflation, he said the formula fails to adequately address the funds that municipalities would have received based on assessment increases.

“Municipal governments around the province are becoming increasingly concerned about the 10-year extension to property tax caps on ports throughout the province,” said Coons.

“The Ports Competitiveness Initiative is an egregious example of the provincial government downloading costs on to municipalities, unlike the provincial government with its multi billion surplus, can ill afford.”

He said the municipalities already must manage hazardous materials and provide policing for ports.

“These costs were downloaded onto communities by the federal government, and now the provincial government is denying them the ability to leverage the revenue they need to meet these obligations,” he said.

“Yet they have fewer revenue streams than senior levels of government, really their only tool is property taxation, said Coons. “The compensation being offered is insufficient. And since it is not indexed to property value, every year it becomes even less adequate.

“It doesn’t cover even half of the potential revenue losses most municipalities are absorbing currently.”

Delta recently sent a letter to the province outlining what it estimates it will lose. ”That city will get $300,000 from B. C. but lose $600,000 based on property assessment values.
“Municipalities such as Delta will now need to make up for this loss in other ways, which could lead to an increase in financial pressure on individuals and small local businesses in the community,” said North Delta MLA Guy Gentner.

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

A little power is a dangerous thing

Making Dad you crash test dummy

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fairview Harbour to ring in the New Year with upgrades

It was light reading in the Christmas Eve edition of the Daily News, a paper that appeared on news stands well before the noon hour, leaving one to believe that perhaps the Daily News of Monday was actually the Daily News of Saturday.

However, not to begrudge the hard working employees of an early exit we’ll not dwell on the timeliness of the news, rather we’ll just feature the front page story of the day for our archives.

Extensive upgrade to commercial harbour will result in much more space
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Monday, December 24, 2007
Pages one and three

Anyone accessing Fairvew Harbour in the coming weeks and months can expect to see a lot of work going on at the facility.

The Port Edward Harbour Authority commenced construction at Fairview Commercial Fishing Harbour earlier this month in a project that will improve safety and access for all marine users.

As Broadwater Industries began construction back on December 3, it was advised that as a result of the ongoing construction, harbour users would experience disruptions of access to the gang ramp and vehicle lane, as well as disruptions to power for vessels and to harbour lighting.

The work may be an inconvenience for many harbour users, but Port Edward Harbour Authority Manager Rick Hill said the project will benefit everyone when it’s completed.

“The Prince Rupert harbours service the community as a whole because they are the only ones available, and this particular harbour is strategically of great importance to Metlakatla, Oona River, Dodge Cove, Kitkatla, because all of those people use it as a corridor for coming and going to Prince Rupert,” said Hill.

“The benefit will be directly to them, and give safer and improved access to everyone. But there’s a little inconvenience that happens whenever there’s construction happening on a throughway.

Eventually, what’s being done is an expansion of the concrete service area and wharf that will span nearly to the entrance way of the airport ferry roadway, which could eventually amount to four times the amount of docking pace that already exists.

This portion of the work being done is referred to as Phase 2 of a multi-phased project plan for Fairview Harbour, which should see completion in the first weeks of April 2008.

An official announcement from all the funding partners is expected to be made in early 2008, including all the detailed aspects of the improvement project.

“In the past, access to the harbour from the roadway has been very confined and restricted and what we’re doing is creating a surface area to allow for much easier access,” said Hill.

“It should not be mistaken for a parking lot, but it will create the potential for having a far more professional and safer venue for entering and exiting the harbour.”

Hill said that Prince Rupert has been blessed to receive funding for an improvement project such as this, with money being as short as it is on the Pacific coast. The end result of the multi-phased project will not only improve safety and access, but will be a more professional site for the partners working out of it, namely Port Edward Harbour Authority, Small Craft Harbours and Canada Coast Guard.

BC’s floods the number two weather story of the year

With a subtle assist from Prince Rupert’s less than best hour, the floods of 2007 were listed as the number two weather story of the year from Environment Canada. Only the melting polar ice could wrestle the number one spot away from the Skeena, Nechako and Bulkley Rivers.

Prince Rupert gains mention in the Environment Canada story for our hoarding of fuel and food in the face of nature. It proved to be a moment that didn’t exactly showcase our city as the kind of place to keep a level head during an emergency. As the days during the high water saw Rupertites flock to the gas stations and grocery stores to empty the shelves and tanks of all essentials.

The Environment Canada synopsis of the floods of 2007 examined all corners of the province which were left to feel the full wrath of nature and some areas like the Lower Mainland which just missed disaster thanks to a changing weather pattern.

The ten weather related stories showcase the effect that the weather has on our day to day lives and how Canadians deal with them. Sometimes we come out of the storms with flying colours and sometimes with less than laudable intentions.

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

Every day depends on your hairstyle.

The little dab that will do you and a lot more!

Oh Alaska, we stand on guard for thee!

For three weeks in November, Canadian CF-18s filled in for the F-15s over Alaska. Several times, the Canadian fighters scrambled to "do an identification" of Russian bombers flying exercises outside U.S. airspace near Alaska, said Maj. Mike Lagace, a Canadian military spokesman for NORAD.

For a few weeks there, Canada was the Northwest's last line of defence, as Canadian Forces F-18's took over for American fighters over Alaska, as the American squadrons of F-15's were grounded due to some structural problems.

As part of our Norad duties during that period, Canadian fighters scrambled to meet Russian fighters, bombers and recon planes that are apparently straying closer and closer to American and Canadian air space these days.

Our days of aerial domination over Alaska however have come to an end, as a brand-new squadron of F-22s based in Alaska is standing in for the state's grounded F-15s, said Tech. Sgt. Mikal R. Canfield, a spokesman at Elmendorf Air Force Base.

A move that has left the Canadian F-18's to return to their regular duties.

However, three weeks of fame in the skies must surely be good for a CBC mini series we would think? Something along the lines of Canada having stared down the Russians in some Cold War like showdowns..

Hey, you can lose your bags all on your own!

Just in time for the busy Christmas and New Year's travel season, come word that the march of automation continues for Canadian airlines. Both Air Canada and West Jet are making plans to introduce automatic baggage kiosks, where you can tag your own bags, load them onto a conveyor belt and wish them luck on their journey, hopefully to arrive with you at the destination.

In Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, those same kiosks that print out your boarding card information are being programmed to do much the same for your luggage, letting you do a lot of the work that used to be handled by those desk attendants at the airport.

The Globe and Mail detailed some of the project that is still in the test phase.

Passengers arriving at an airport would go to a kiosk and enter their booking reference number. After printing out boarding passes, consumers can press the screen to print tags and attach them to luggage handles. Once that's done, they walk over to the drop-off area and place their bags on the conveyor belt.

From there we guess you're on your own (even though it seems you've been on your own all the way so far), crossing your fingers and hoping against hope that somehow your bags and you share the same flight and are reunited a few short hours later.

However, the question remains now if the bags don't arrive with you, do you blame yourself?

December 26-Globe and Mail-Airlines want to help you help yourself – by having you check your own bags

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

RCMP lay charges against Charles Hays Secondary School teacher

"Our superintendent is conducting an investigation for the district alongside the RCMP conducting their investigation," she said. "We're all obviously very concerned and await the conclusion of the investigation."--School District 52 board of education chair Tina Last

It's the kind of news that will once again shake the staff, students and parents of those who attend Charles Hays Secondary. As another instructor at the east side high school has been charged with sexual exploitation offences by the RCMP. The latest charges which were made on December 22nd, mark the second time in a year, that an instructor at the east side high school will appear in court over alleged sexual exploitation.
Dana Allison Monteith, a 37-year-old physics teacher at Charles Hays Secondary School, was arrested December 22nd and appeared before a justice of the peace on December 23, to face three counts of sexual exploitation of a young person. He was released under a number of stringent conditions and will make his next court appearance on January 14th.
In the interim as the investigations continue, the court has ordered a publication ban on the names of the witnesses and alleged victims.

The most recent alleged incidents leading to charges, are reported to date back to 2005, with some as current as July of this year.

Prior to this weeks arrest, the school district and staff of Charles Hays were working their way through the impact of the arrest of a special needs teacher at the school last March on various charges of sexual assault and sexual exploitation.

School District 52 board of education chair Tina Last (quoted at the top of this page) told the Vancouver Province that the school board and the RCMP are looking into the most recent allegations.

The story first began to make news on Christmas day, as various news services provided brief mention of the charges and incidents.

Wednesday's Vancouver Province featured more background on the story on page A13.

That story and links to other news sites can be found below, as well as the information released by the Prince Rupert RCMP on the provincial website:

Vancouver Province (Dec 26)--Second teacher arrested at Prince Rupert school
Opinion 250--(Dec 26)--Prince Rupert Teacher Back To Court Charged With Sexual Exploitation
Globe and Mail(Dec 24)--High school teacher in Prince Rupert faces sex charges involving students
Vancouver Sun (Dec 24)--Prince Rupert teacher charged with inappropriate sexual behaviour
Vancouver Province (Dec 25)--Prince Rupert teacher facing sex charges involving students

Second teacher arrested at Prince Rupert school
Sex-exploitation charges against 37-year-old man
Jennifer Saltman
The Province
Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Page A13

A Prince Rupert school where a special-education teacher was the subject of sex-abuse allegations in March has been hit again.

Dana Allison Monteith, a 37-year-old physics teacher at Charles Hays Secondary School, was arrested Dec. 22 and charged the next day with three counts of sexual exploitation of a young person.

Police say the school contacted the local RCMP detachment on Dec. 20 to report an incident of inappropriate sexual behaviour involving a teacher.

The allegations involve both current and former students and the alleged incidents are said to have occurred between June 2005 and July 2007.

Prince Rupert RCMP spokeswoman Const. Krista Vrolyk said, "Dana Mon-
teith is alleged to have used his position as a teacher to facilitate relationships with his victims."
On Dec. 23 a justice of the peace released Monteith on strict conditions that include not being in the company of any female under 18 years of age except in the company of an adult over 25, and not to have contact with any female under the age of 18 at his home.

There is a publication ban on the names of the witnesses and alleged victims.

School District 52 board of education chair Tina Last said the district and police are working together to look into the allegations.

"Our superintendent is conducting an investigation for the district alongside the RCMP conducting their investigation," she said. "We're all obviously very concerned and await the conclusion of the investigation."

Last said Monteith, who was appointed the science department head for the 2006/2007 school year, was "by all accounts a fairly well-liked teacher."

"I'm sure this was a shock to everyone," Last said. "I know he's been a very active teacher and a great supporter of school activities."

She said that, to her knowledge, Monteith has no previous disciplinary issues.
Monteith is currently suspended with pay.

The high school, one of two in Prince Rupert, serves about 600 students in grades 8 to 12.
When asked if any special consultation will take place with students regarding the allegations, Last said, "They've just recently done it, so I'm sure all supports are in place for students."

Last was referring to what happened following the March arrest of another Charles Hays teacher.

Michael Anthony Kolesar, a 57-year-old special-ed teacher and coach, was charged with two counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual exploitation of a person with a disability.
The assaults are alleged to have occurred between September 1997 and March 2007. Kolesar ran the Life Skills program, teaching students with special needs in grades 8 to 12.

Monteith is set to appear next in Prince Rupert provincial court Feb. 14, 2008. He could not be reached for comment.

RCMP Regional Web site
December 24

Prince Rupert School Teacher Arrested for three counts of Sexual Exploitation of Young Persons

On December 20, 2007 Prince Rupert’s Charles Hays Secondary School contacted Prince Rupert R.C.M.P. to report an incident of inappropriate sexual behavior of a teacher from within their school.

Prince Rupert RCMP General Investigations Section immediately entered into a Criminal Code Investigation.

On December 22, 2007 at 10:17 P.M. 37 year old male, Dana Allison MONTEITH was arrested for the Sexual Exploitation of current and former students of the Charles Hays Secondary School.

Dana MONTEITH appeared before a Justice of the Peace on December 23, 2007 and has been formally charged with three counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Young Person under Section 153.a of the Criminal Code of Canada.

The Justice of the Peace released Dana MONTEITH on nine strict conditions which include, but are not limited to, the following: - not be in the company of any female person under 18 years of age except in the company of an adult over the age of 25 years - not to have contact with any female person under the age of 18 years at his place of residence.

** A publication ban has been issued prohibiting the disclosure of the names of the witnesses and victims.

The offences are alleged to have been committed between June 2005 and July of 2007.

Dana MONTEITH is alleged to have used his position as a teacher to facilitate relationships with his victims. The Police investigation is ongoing. Police are concerned that there may be additional victims and witnesses who have not yet come forward.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the Prince Rupert RCMP at 627-0700. Dana MONTEITH is scheduled to appear in Provincial Court, on January 14, 2007 at 09:00 A.M..

All media related inquiries can be directed to Cst. Krista VROLYK (cell - 250-622-7700)


Krista Vrolyk, Cst.Media Relations Officer
100 6th Avenue WestPrince Rupert, B.C. V8J 3Z3
Phone: (250)-627-0700Fax: (250)-627-3013

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good nap!

There are toys to look at and assorted Christmas duties (ie: putting things together) to be attended to, so Podunk is on hiatus for a day or two while we recharge our cheer.

May you have a most enjoyable Christmas Day and here's hoping that you're first in line for the Boxing Day sales and returns festivals...

Christmas Holiday Countdown

Four more songs to set the Yuletide fires burning and guide Santa to his final destination.

John Mellencamp-I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Bon Jovi-I Wish every day could be like Christmas

Stevie Nicks-Silent Night

Band Aid-Do they Know it's Christmastime

Monday, December 24, 2007

Santa's on the way

1 am Pacific time, saw Santa begin his annual trek around the world, with the NORAD Tracking site following the liftoff from the North Pole as he headed for Russia.

Through the day NORAD will be updating their web page with the latest destinations of the bearded on as he checks his list to see who's been naughty and who's been nice.

This year the NORAD site features a three dimensional Google earth graphic to give you a better idea where the Big Red suited guy is and how close he is to your neighbourhood!

Norad official site
Norad Tracking channel on YouTube

We'll be right back after this short commercial message December 23

Every Christmas morning should start off with a delicious breakfast.

Sugar, sugar, a suitable snack for Santa on the big night

Christmas Holdiay Countdown

The Twelve Days of Christmas have many interpretations, here are just a few of the more famous ones over the last few years.

John Denver and the Muppets

Disney's Twelve Days of Christmas

Donkey's Shrekabration

Jeff Foxworthy reworks the twelve Days redneck style

Bob and Doug bring glad tidings Hoser style

Sunday, December 23, 2007

March of the pine beetle reaches Terrace

Terrace officials have identified four areas of the city that have begun to show their first stages of a pine beetle infestation.

Skills Park, Elk Park, Redsands and the Airport all have patches of forest that are reported to be under attack from the bothersome pest that has ravaged forests further east in the province.

The TV 7 website outlined the developments, including hopes that the diversified forests of the Terrace area may help to slow down the bug in this corner of the province.

Pine Beetle in Terrace
Fri, 2007-12-21 14:21.
Local News

The City of Terrace has come across some areas around town that are infected by the pine beetle.

Right now the city is busy identifying where the problem areas are in conjunction with the Kitselas Forest Operations. The four areas in town affected are Skills Park, Elk Park, Redsands and the Airport.

As soon as the snow melts in the spring the sick trees will be removed from around town. The city hopes this will stop a further outbreak in our area.

One advantage Terrace has in combating the pine beetle is the surrounding forest. Which has a variety of trees that aren't susceptible to a pine beetle infestation.

The City of Terrace hopes all these factors work against stopping a major outbreak next summer.

Podunkian Music Club December 23

Continuing our countdown of the sounds of the season, four more songs to roast your chestnuts or walk in the wind terland of the North coast to.

Bowie meets Bing--Litte Drummer Boy

Chris De Burgh-- A Spaceman Came Travelling

Faith Hill--Where are you Christmas

Bryan Adams--Something about Christmastime

Alaskans slowly awaken to Prince Rupert Port potential

They're not all sold that the Port of Prince Rupert is destined to rival Vancouver, Seattle or Long Beach, but a growing number of Alaskans are beginning to wonder how the newest world port on the Pacific might be of benefit to their states economy.

The Alaska Daily News featured an article on the impact that the Port of Prince Rupert may have on Alaskan trade with not only the lower 48 but the wider world as well.

There are still nay sayers to the north of us, but more and more are looking to the future and wondering how they can take advantage of the transportation gateway on their doorstep.

Expansion of port in Prince Rupert hailed as boon
POTENTIAL: Supporters see a better link to Asia, Midwest.
By AMANDA FEHDJuneau Empire
Published: December 23rd, 2007 12:13 AM
Last Modified: December 23rd, 2007 06:59 AM

JUNEAU -- A two-year, $170 million expansion of Prince Rupert's port, and agreements with top names in shipping, has the small Canada town's officials talking about it becoming a rival for major ports on the West Coast. That's got a lot of people in Southeast Alaska's economic development circles buzzing too. While there are naysayers, some see the port as potentially a huge boon for getting Southeast's products, particularly fish, to Asia and the American Midwest.

Prince Rupert, British Columbia, has always shipped coal, timber and grain in bulk. Until this fall, it was never equipped to accept containers, which carry products from toys to clothes to motorcycles.

The biggest challenge would be getting those products from towns in Southeast to Prince Rupert, a move that would involve reconfiguring existing freight traffic or creating a new system.

Still, many see big benefits on the horizon.

"It creates a phenomenal opportunity not just for Southeast, but all of Alaska," said JC Conley, a Ketchikan businessman who is on the board of Southeast Conference, an organization that promotes economic development in Southeast Alaska.

"It gives us a direct link to Asia, and a tie in to the Midwest of the U.S. If we are shipping frozen fish, we've got a major port five hours south of Ketchikan. It puts our product about four days sooner into Asia," Conley said.

Ketchikan's Mike Round said he was the only Alaskan at the container port's grand opening this fall. Also in attendance were representatives of companies throughout Asia and businesses and municipalities from Canada, Chicago and other U.S. cities. Round is a member of the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce's Economic Development Committee.

"To me, it's incredible that you can have a world-class port being developed and nobody in Alaska is paying attention," Round said.

Port enthusiasts say one main factor to getting benefits to Alaska is the involvement of the region's two main freight lines, Northland Services and Alaska Marine Lines, both based out of Seattle.

Alex McKallor with Lynden Transport, a ground freight sister company to Alaska Marine Lines, said the port's potential effect on West Coast shipping is "minuscule."

"It's not going to have some kind of major impact, I don't think, to the whole supply chain of Alaska. It will certainly bring more transportation options," McKallor said. "It's not clear how they'd fit together. It's just way too complex to know."

The port's spokesman, Barry Bartlett, dismissed critics as under-informed.

"The critics need to kind of get with the program, because a lot of the comments are so outdated and obsolete. There's obviously people that are really not interested in seeing Prince Rupert work, because it could be seen as a threat," Bartlett said.

To make an ocean freight business work, companies seek to have their ships as full of goods as possible in each direction of trade. Ships coming from Asia are generally packed full, while two out of every three containers leave Western ports empty, according to Bartlett.

Alaska products help Northland and AML fill their Asia-bound ships from Seattle. Conley said that might be a factor in the companies' hesitance to jump on the bandwagon.

"If that's your big revenue stream is hauling it to Seattle, that's important to them. It balances the rates," Conley said. "They don't want their barges sailing empty completely on the backside."

Most of what arrives in Prince Rupert will immediately leave on a train to a distant location such as Chicago, a plan that's a departure from the business models of other major ports.

"There's a general assumption in the industry that you've got to have local markets, but we are saying, really, no you don't," Bartlett said. The remote town has a population of 14,000.
The port's main selling point is that it's three days closer to Asia than Los Angeles. It's also not as congested.

"Container traffic from Asia to the West Coast of North America is going to increase 300 percent by 2020," Bartlett said. "When you consider all the issues that are occurring in Vancouver, Seattle, L.A., Long Beach, relative to congestion, lack of capacity, and pushback from the communities, communities are saying enough is enough, we've got too much traffic; here that's not an issue," Bartlett said.

The port has agreements with the largest shipping line in China, the China Ocean Shipping Co., or COSCO, which is also the seventh-largest shipping line in the world. Another three companies from Taiwan, Korea and Japan have agreed to have goods moved through there. A COSCO ship made its first stop at the port in October, and 12 days after leaving Yokohama, Japan, the goods were in Chicago.

Maher Terminals, which operates the ports of New Jersey and New York, has signed a 30-year lease agreement with Prince Rupert Port and invested $60 million in new cranes and other equipment to allow the port to handle containers.

The port now has the capacity to accept the equivalent of 500,000 20-foot containers. It plans to spend another $600 million to expand that capacity to 2 million 20-foot containers by 2012, and 4 or 5 million by 2015. In contrast, the Port of Seattle handles the equivalent of 2 million 20-foot containers each year.

Sandy Souter is the fleet manager for Seattle-based Alaska General Seafoods, a fish processor with a cannery in Ketchikan. He said any barge line is going to have to see a good return on making a stop in Prince Rupert.

"Eventually it will be good for Southeast; I don't know how. Everybody thinks yeah, that's positive because you've got a big port closer to Southeast Alaska and there's going to be commerce going out of there to Asia and overseas. It's a 'We'll tell you in five years' type of thing," Souter said.

Asked if it could be another Seattle or Los Angeles, Souter said: "I don't think so. It will be a big port, but it's not going to rival any of the lower mainland, I don't think. That's a pretty lofty goal. To try to get up to the level of Seattle or Long Beach or Oakland, forget it, in Prince Rupert?"

Christmas Holiday countdown

An animated Christmas celebration

The Traditional look

And the Futuristic view

Increases to ferry rates raising ire of rural residents and their MLA

"I taught Grade 12 math and I still have a tough time explaining this formula to people,"--North Coast MLA Gary Coons, explaining how he has troubles explaining the latest fare increases to coastal residents from BC Ferries.

Gary Coons spent the last week on the Queen Charlotte Islands and has just wrapped up the first phase of his information gathering sessions with rural British Columbians. People who are dependent on ferry services and he says people that they are having a hard time understanding the rocketing rise of fares on the rural routes.

With changes to the Coastal Ferries Act that privatized BC Ferries the ability to increase the fares by such high margins is legal, but certainly not well explained by the Ferry Corporation or accepted by the residents of those communities that are the hardest hit.

Prince Rupert residents can add their voices and comments to the mix on January 16, when Coons holds an information session in the city.,

In Friday's Daily News, Coons explained the results of his meetings and the outrage that coastal residents have for the increases.

'Stratospheric' fare hikes anger Coons
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, December 21, 2007
Pages one and three

Having visited more than 15 ferry-dependent communities across the province in the last month, North Coast MLA Gary Coons is dismayed by stories he has heard of residents struggling to absorb increases on pre-paid fares, some as high as 11 per cent.

And just how B.C. Ferries is able to increase its fares by that much, many people are having a hard time understanding. But under the Coastal Ferry Act that privatized B.C. Ferries, it's all legal.

"These stratospheric increases are seriously impacting communities," said Coons. "An increase of 4.4 per cent a year is bad enough, but for communities like Sandspit and Skidegate, which don't have a robust economy to begin with, the continuation of these yearly 11 per cent fair hikes would be absolutely crippling."

Coons spent the past week visiting communities on the Queen Charlotte Islands, where residents use the ferry system not only to travel to and from the mainland but between communities on Moresby and Graham Islands via Skidegate and Alliford Bay.

It's part of a tour of all coastal ferry-dependent communities. Stops in the new year include Prince Rupert on Jan. 16, the Central Coast on Jan. 24, and Port McNeil, Sointula and Alert Bay on Jan. 30-31.

Many of these communities are dependent on the ferry system for their food, so even if residents choose to remain on-island, they are still being hit by higher prices at the grocery store, noted Coons.

"The ferry system was built using taxes paid by British Columbians; it is entirely inappropriate for our marine highway to be unaffordable for most citizens of this province."

Coons also echoed the concerns he heard from several members of the Ferry Advisory Committee, who believe that next April's fares will rise above the commissioner's allowance of four per cent and prepaid fare increases will also be in the double-digits.

He said BC Ferries has been using misleading numbers to mask the true magnitude of its fare increases. Out of 90 fare classifications, only three fall at or under the allowable 4.4 per cent increase.

The deception is especially clear when it comes to pre-paid fares, which are used primarily by island residents on minor routes, he said. These have seen the sharpest increases.

"I taught Grade 12 math and I still have a tough time explaining this formula to people," said Coons.

In fact, it's so complicated the B.C. Ferry Commission recently had to hold a seminar for chairs of the Ferry Advisory Committees to explain how it is that some routes are seeing fare increases of 11 per cent on prepaid fares.

The commission regulates ferry fare levels on 25 routes operated by BC Ferries and these routes are divided into seven groups.

Every three months, BC Ferries must report to the commission the actual average level of fares paid by its customers, reporting a single figure for each of the seven route groups. The figure is a weighted average for all the routes in the group, combining all the different traffic types, the different times of the week, different fares charged in that quarter, and other variables.

Secondly, the commission computes a maximum permitted level of average ferry fares for each route group. This ceiling is called the price cap for each group.

On routes outside the Lower Mainland, that price cap is currently 4.4 per cent.

According to the commission, BC Ferries must not allow the index of actual ferry fares for a route group to rise above the index of its price cap for more than one consecutive quarter.
However, within its fares structure, BC Ferries is allowed to charge different amounts for prepaid fares, weekend fares and other categories.

Coons explained BC Ferries has been losing business on full cash fares and while regular travellers in ferry dependent communities have been buying prepaid tickets that offer about a 30 per cent discount.

As a result, BC Ferries' average fare has been less than the maximum allowed average fare in recent years.

Now, B.C. Ferries is going to play catch up and it will come in the form of increases, for example in the range of 8.8 to 10.5 per cent on prepaid fares on the Skidegate-to-Alliford Bay route.
It is another example of how the Coastal Ferry Act is clearly failing the people of the province, said Coons.

"We need to freeze fares now," said Coons. "Until a Ferry Dependent Communities Strategy can be created to ensure the long-term viability of ferry routes to remote communities."

New Year brings next step for NaiKun

Canada's first offshore wind project is yet one more step closer after the federal environmental assessment office approved the terms of reference of the NaikKun wind energy project, a major step in the developmental plans for the offshore energy project.

The next step to seek out more information and data, and prepare the final analysis for the formal application submission, which is expected to take place in late 2008

The Daily News featured the details of the latest developments in the much anticipated energy project.

NaiKun wind farm takes an 'important step' ahead
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, December 21, 2007
Pages one and three

It's full steam ahead in the new year for an offshore wind farm being proposed for the Hecate Stait.

Earlier this week, NaiKun Wind Energy Group had the terms of reference for its environmental assessment approved by the federal environmental assessment office.

The terms of reference provide the company with details on the areas it will need to study during the coming months in order to get approval for its project.

"This is an important step forward for NaiKun," said Ray Castelli, CEO and president of NaiKun Wind Development Inc.

"The Environmental Assessment Office has recognized we have adequately consulted and addressed issues identified by First Nations, government agencies and the public regarding the project's environmental terms of reference.

"The next step is to continue gathering information, move ahead with the approved studies, collect the necessary data and prepare the final analysis for our formal application submission expected in late 2008."

In British Columbia, major projects require an environmental assessment (EA) process.

The process assesses the project's potential impacts and identifies ways to mitigate or minimize adverse effects.

The review is conducted and coordinated by the provincial government's Environmental Assessment Office (EAO).

NaiKun initiated the EA process in 2003 and has since held two separate public comment periods to obtain feedback on the Terms of Reference.

"The environmental assessment review is an important process which not only identifies potential environmental issues but also helps developers like NaiKun to engage the local community and focus on public outreach initiatives to ensure accurate project information is available," said Castelli.

NaiKun is proposing Canada's first offshore wind project. It will be located off the Queen Charlotte Islands. The first phase (320 MW) is currently under development for submission in BC Hydro's 2008 Clean Energy Call and is now in the pre-application phase of B.C.'s environmental assessment (EA) process.