Thursday, May 31, 2007

Plans announced for occasional one lane, alternating traffic for Highway 16 east of Terrace

They’ve made some progress on the wall of mud east of Terrace and with a little luck Friday morning will see scheduled windows of opportunity to travel east and west through the gap that has been carved out.

Drive BC’s website announced at 4pm that Friday will see three opportunities through the day for motorists to make the scramble east or west. From the website, here is the 4 pm update:

Closed in both directions 37 kilometers east of Terrace because of Rock Slide.
Openings for single lane alternating traffic are planned for the following times: 7 am to 9 am, 2 pm to 3 pm, and 8 pm to 10 pm Friday June 1st.
Next update at 7 pm Thursday May 31st.
Cranberry Forest Service Road is open and available as an alternate route between Terrace and Kitwanga. It is an active single lane logging road, and is not recommended for general traffic. Updated on Thu May 31 at 4:02 pm. (ID# 47220)

Northern BC Economy improving, but unemployment still troublesome

The economic growth on the North coast is improving, thanks mainly to a number of large projects currently underway, however unemployment still is higher than any other region of the province and has actually increased in the last year in the North Coast Nechako region.

As of Dec 2, 2006 there was construction underway on 816 million dollars worth of projects on the North Coast, with another $15.5 billion proposed for the years to follow.

While that indicator presented a picture of an area on the move, the present unemployment stats presented one of an area in quest of jobs, the official recorded unemployment rate for the North Coast for April was 8.6 per cent, up from last year at this time when it was 7.7 per cent and well above the provincial rate of 4.4 percent

The numbers make for contradictory indicators, but are all part of the scenario that has been put together by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia who have released a report called the B. C. Check Up, Regional Edition.

The Daily News provided details from the report in Tuesday’s paper.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Page three

Economic growth in the North Coast Development Region continues to improve, driven by major capital projects, according to the B. C. Check Up, Regional Edition, released last week by the Chartered Accountants of British Columbia.

The B. C. Major Projects Inventory estimates, that as of Dec 2, 2006, construction had started on $816 million worth of projects on the North Coast, with another $15.5 billion proposed. This represents nearly one-quarter of proposed major project spending in B. C.

“We’re seeing a resurgence of economic activity in this area, and a larger part of that reflects the capital investment being made in infrastructure transportation, and mining facilities,” said Praveen Vohora, CA, partner with Vohora and Company. “The overall business climate is improving and people are feeling optimistic again.”

There are 34 major projects either proposed or underway in the North Coast Development Region, with more than 90 per cent in transportation and warehousing facilities, mining projects, and utilities. In 2007, the construction of more than $7.2 billion worth of capital projects is expected to start.

“Last year, the North Coast saw its first population gain in a decade, and that’s a very encouraging signal that people are taking advantage of emerging opportunities in the region,” said Vohora. “We now have to ensure our young people are properly trained and educated so they can fill the skilled jobs that will be required in the coming years.”

According to the CA report, rising numbers of business incorporations and fewer business bankruptcies marked another year of improved investor and entrepreneurial activity in the region. Between 2001 and 2006, growth in business incorporations was up 13.9 per cent, while the number of bankruptcies declined by 25 per cent.

The North Coast Development Region (NCDR) comprises the Skeena-Queen Charlotte and Kitimat-Stikine Regional Districts, and accounts for just over one percent of the provincial population.

However, a recent report by Statistics Canada, shows the region continues to lag behind other areas of the province when it comes to employment levels.

In April, the unemployment rate in British Columbia was 4.4 per cent with fewer workers in health care and social assistance as well as in accommodation and food service.

However, unemployment in the North Coast Nechako region is almost twice the provincial rate, at 8.6 per cent up from 7.7 per cent at the same time last year.

Feds restore funding to historical sites but reduce amount promised

The North Pacific Fishing Village out in Port Edward received a bit of good news this week, there has been a change of heart with the federal government and HRDC funding will be made available to the Cannery museum for staffing purposes.

The only drawback for the local attraction is that they will have to work with less money from the feds and find new ways to provide for funding locally in order to make the season as successful as possible.

HRDC has provided North Pacific with $12,246 for the season, significantly less than what they were expecting, but enough to help take some of the pressure off and give the Fishing Village some time to work out other funding plans. Which they are already busy working on, mostly in a musical vein making the tourist attraction along the old cannery road a summer school of rock of sorts.

The Daily news examined the funding issue and what is planned for the summer of 2007 at North Pacific as well as providing details on this weekends Rollin’ on the River music festival at North Pacific.

By Patrick Witwicki
The Daily News
Tuesday, May 31, 2007
Page three

The government changed its mind. Sort of.

After museums and national historic sites all over Canada were turned down for HRDC funding a matter of days ago, the outcry that followed quickly caused the federal government to reverse its decision, and go back to offering grants to the organizations as it had done in the past.

That meant locations like the North Pacific Fishing Village in Port Edward, which had originally been turned down for funding and which was concerned it would lose approximately $15,000, will be getting funding to help pay for summer students after all.

“I was excited,” said Karin Ljungh, manager for the North Pacific. “I think a lot of people called in. That’s why we ended up with what we got.

“It was very surprising.”

The only problem is that instead of the $24,000 the HRDC has issued in the past, it is only forwarding a grant total of $12,246, based on summer students getting paid a minimum wage amount at 30 hour work weeks, as opposed to full-time hours and higher wages.

Still, it’s a much more upbeat situation than a week ago when the cannery believed it was not going to get a dime.

“Something is better than nothing,” said Ljungh.

The summer period weeks were also cut from 16 to 13 and in some cases, nine, which is also why the amount is less.

But the North Pacific has already hired its four summer positions, and so the cannery is looking at other alternatives to raise extra funds to ensure it doesn’t run a deficit.

With that in mind, the cannery will be hosting a North Pacific Summer School of the Arts, using summer camps hosted by talented North Coast musical staff.

These camps will include a “Theatre Boot Camp”, which is described as “having fun learning the basics of acting, and staging a play that will be performed by your group at the end of the second week.”

Elizabeth Thomsen and Anne McNish will host this camp.

There will also be a “Kids Wanna Rock” camp featuring Ljungh and Mark Ciccone. This will be a ‘basic’ and also ‘intermediate’ rock n’ roll camp for kids who are interested in singing or playing in a band.

Finally, the cannery will also host a jazz guitar camp, painting and art classes, clayworks with Jean Gardiner, and kids camps.

The camps will run around the city bus schedule and take place during the summer months (July and August).

The North Pacific is also currently seeking separate funding to help offset the potential budget shortfall, said Ljungh.

Rollin’ on the River is set for this Sunday at the North Pacific. Watch for a full preview in Wednesday’s edition of the Daily News.

Music fans ready to roll out to cannery for festival
By Patrick Witwicki
The Daily News
Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The early bird gets the worm.
Or, in the case of the North Pacific Fishing Village, organizers are hoping the earlier date for Rollin' on the River means favourable weather, and of course, bigger crowds.

After all, the weekend before Seafest traditionally is sunny, although that trend has somewhat been tainted by two consecutive sunny Seafests in 2005 and 06. But North Pacific manager and organizer for the event, Karin Ljungh, is also confident that the earlier date catches the local crowd before people start heading out of town for their summer holidays, which is why she chose Sun., June 3, as the date for this year's event.

"There's going to be a variety of music, lots of food vendors, and a lot of fun," she said.
The musical entertainment will consist mostly of bands with a local flavour, including two of Ljungh's acts: Hotflash as well as Lil' Kiki, Peter and the Wolf.

The two main headliners will be the Grifters (inside the North Pacific Event Room) and Kory Botz, with both shows starting at 7 p.m. sharp. Mermaid Cafe will play a teaser set just prior to that starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Blyth Theatre.

Other well-known local acts include Freedom 35, Mudcat Joe, and the Ditto Sisters.
That said, there will also be three out-of-town musical acts taking to the stage this Sunday, headlined by Radix Bloom, an original percussive acoustic-electric band from Terrace, that includes the twin brother guitar tandem of Aaron and Adam Alander.
James Powell, from Dr. Fishy, will also play a set at the show, without the rest of the band, however.

CFNR's Steve Little will also make an appearance, while Terrace's Tree Bomb AC also will dazzle the stage.

And it's the new stage at the cannery that has Ljungh excited.

"We have a brand new stage, and it's got great acoustics," she said. "It sounds fantastic."
Three stages will be used throughout the event. Other acts include Lachlan Clement, the Skeena Jazz Express, and Celtic Raindrop.

There will be the usual Music Works for kids as well early on in the event.

A beer garden will also be available on-site from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Due to the lack of parking available out at the cannery and for safety reasons, shuttle buses will be running all day to and from the Aero Trading parking lot. Only those with proper North Pacific passes will be allowed to drive directly to the cannery.

Tickets are available at Teddy's, and will also be sold at the gate on the day of the event, which gets underway at noon and runs until the final bands are done at around 7:45 p.m.

Cranberry Connector an option, but not one recommended

It’s a one lane forestry road, complete with pull offs, potholes and precipitous drops, it adds four hours to your travel time and at the moment it’s the only road access between Terrace and points east. And by the way, it’s not particularly recommended that you travel along it.

The Cranberry Connector is a roughly cut road through the wilderness that requires at least a four wheel drive truck for passage. Estimates have it that it would cost some 50 million dollars to upgrade the road to two way travel on a gravel base, a cost that the Ministry of Highways doesn’t feel is warranted considering the anticipated light rate of travel on those days when Highway 16 may be open.

It’s an opinion that isn’t shared by a number of people in the Northwest who point out that the Highway seems to suffer more and more frequent closures of late lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Having an alternative route in and out of the region many feel is something that is needed.

Trucks have apparently been making use of the road to move material from east to west, but for the average car driver the road is not considered as a suitable alternative to the now closed highway.

While crews continue to work on the giant mud and rock slide east of Terrace, there still has been no estimated time provided as to when even one lane access may be secured.

Motorists are advised to consult the Drive BC website frequently for further updates, keeping a mindful eye on the recommendation that travel on the Cranberry connector is done at their own risk.
No upgrade for Cranberry Connector
By Tom Fletcher
The Northern Sentinel
May 30 2007

The province isn't going to upgrade the Cranberry Connector, a logging road serving as the only alternate route to Highway 16 east linking Terrace and other northwest communities with the rest of the province.

A huge landslide covered Highway 16 about 37 kilometres east of Terrace early Monday morning. As of Wednesday noon there was still no target set for reopening even one lane of the highway, because concern about further instability was slowing cleanup work, Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon said.

The ministry has graded and graveled a 50 km stretch of logging road from Cranberry Junction on Highway 37 through the Nass Valley as an emergency option for drivers, but Falcon said there won't be any further upgrading on the one-lane radio-assisted route to make it more accessible for vehicles.

"It would be extraordinarily expensive, probably in the $50 million range, just to provide a graveled, two-lane road," Falcon said. "We did a business case analysis in 2004, and there is just no justification for the dollars that would need to be spent, especially given that it would have very, very low volume of traffic."

Falcon encouraged people to stay off the road unless absolutely necessary, adding that it shouldn't be attempted without a four-wheel-drive truck.

Ridley Terminals adds Pellets to the shipment mix

Wood pellets are now being shipped out of the Port of Prince Rupert, as Ridley Terminals exported the first load of pellets on Sunday. It’s a new addition to the shipment mix on Ridley Island and one that could expand quite quickly in the years to come.

The Daily News provided a review of the project and a look down the road in Tuesday’s paper.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Page one

On Sunday, Ridley Terminals shipped out its first load of wood pellets from Houtson Pellet Inc., marking the beginning of another new product being handled at the terminal.

Greg Slocombe, CEO of the bulk handling facility, said he believes this is the beginning of very good partnership.

“This is a brand new business and we think we are on the right end,” said Slocombe. “There is huge opportunity on the supply side in British Columbia.”

The pine beetle epidemic in the Interior is causing elevated harvesting levels as forestry companies rush to bring in the timber before it is completely useless.

While the wood pellets from Houston Pellet Inc. are manufactured from a byproduct of wood being put through a mill, the rush to harvest wood from the Interior could result in additional wood pellet production.

“Two or three years from now we may see them harvesting trees just to make pellets,” said Slocombe. “We are in at the right end.”

Slocombe believes it could go from a 100,000 tonne business annually to 1.1 million tones business in five years.

Houston Pellet is a partnership of Canadian Forest Products (Canfor), Pinnacle Pellet and the Moricetown First Nations. The 6mm pellets are manufactured from planer shavings and sawdust from the Canfor Houston sawmill. The pellets will be sold both overseas and into the domestic pellet market for home heating.

CN Rail is transporting the pellets from Houston to Ridley, where they will be stored in a 105-metre wide silo and loaded onto ships able to hold 8,000 to 9,000 metric tones.

The first shipment is destined for the Netherlands and from there will be transported to Belgium.

Ridley Terminals is operating the new loading facility that was built by Houston Pellet.

Ridley Terminals, a federally-owned corporation, has struggled financially and has only recently begun operating without government assistance.

Partnerships such as this give the terminal the opportunity to continue to diversify the products it handles and provides stability for the long term from the ups and downs of the coal market.

“We are having to share the benefits but we are tied in with an excellent company,” he said. And the arrangement between the companies is structured so other small operators can move their product through Ridley.

The new equipment at the terminal to handle wood pellets includes a pellet rail car unloading building, rail car hopper gate opening equipment, a pellet unloading conveyor designed to move the pellets to the storage silo, the pellet storage silo itself, and a pellet silo unloading conveyor that goes out to the ship.

Coast Tsimshian ready their plans to protest lack of progress on port discussions

The Northern View is reporting on its website that the Coast Tsimshian members are preparing to take their own action in order to make their concerns over the development of the Fairview Container Port heard. Included in their thoughts apparently are preparations for blockades in the region. They were quick to add they were hoping that there would be no need for that step in the end, while at the same time reminding the stakeholders in the project that all transportation lines run through Coast Tsimshian reservations.

The long simmering dispute has occasionally flashed up over the last few months, with discussions apparently continuing on, though not to any resolution of the main issues of contention for the Coast Tsimshian, those being inadequate consultation and compensation during the development of the Fairview Container Terminal.

The Northern View outlined the thoughts of Metlakatla Chief Harold Leighton, who expressed his frustration at the current situation and suggested that the time may be near to implement their plans of action.

Coast Tsimshian stepping up activity
By Arthur WilliamsBlack Press
May 30 2007

Anger is still brewing amongst members of the Coast Tsimshian First Nation over what they say was inadequate consultation and compensation during the development of the Fairview Container Terminal.

In April the First Nation, comprised of the Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams Bands, issued a statement threatening to, “not allow phase one [of the container terminal] to commence operations unless our concerns have been addressed.”

“Basically things haven’t changed,” Metlakatla Chief Harold Leighton said.

“There has been no progress with the federal government or Port of Prince Rupert. We met with Minister [for the Pacific Gateway David] Emerson in late February and he said, ‘Give me 10 days to two weeks to respond to you.’ But we haven’t heard anything. Nobody is talking to us – the frustration is building.”

Leighton said First Nation members are preparing to take their own action to make their concerns heard.

“The First Nations have put a plan together and are moving forward to implement that plan. It will include a rally with an invitation to all First Nations in B.C. – after that, a series of actions,” Leighton said.

“Provincially we’ve received a fair amount of support. The issues we’re dealing with here are the same across B.C. and Canada.”

Leighton hinted that blockades may be in the works for Prince Rupert unless their issues are resolved.

“Hopefully we won’t have to go that far to get recognition. But I expect it will be considered,” Leighton said.

“The only thing I call tell you is all transportation corridors go through Coast Tsimshian reservations.”

Prince Rupert Port Authority president and CEO Don Krusel said port officials are working with First Nations to resolve their issues.

“There are activities behind the scenes taking place to accelerate the discussions with the local First Nations regarding the development,” he said.

“As that process unfolds, we remain confident that these issues will be resolved.”

As long as that discussion is happening, Krusel said, he doesn’t expect any Caledonia-style blockades of the port.

CN Rail mountain region general manager Tom Bourgonje said he currently isn’t concerned about the possibility of rail line blockades in the Prince Rupert area.

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

Back from an era when anyone could sell anything..

When cartoon characters don't know when to say enough.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Citywest begins local preparations for the digital universe

They launch their digital service in Terrace this week, an opportunity to trade in the 60 channel old wave for a brand new era of television viewing, featuring the 300 plus digital world of expanded cablevision.

For those that held out from the satellite dish revolution, the change will be a rather amazing experience, channels before considered but mere rumours will magically appear on their television screens on an expanded tier of available channels. And of course it comes with an expanded tier of pricing to go with it.

Now that CityWest has finally taken care of Terrace and Thornhill, they can turn their attention to Prince Rupert which is expected to enjoy the digital wave later this summer.

The Daily News featured the details in Wednesday’s paper, about the newest addition to the available options for your free time.

Rupert to tune in to digital cable
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Page one

CityWest is making inroads into new markets by launching its digital cable service in Terrace, with the Prince Rupert launch scheduled for later this summer.

The launch of CityWest Digital Cable TV means that cable customers in Terrace and Thornhill will now have two options, they can continue to subscribe to regular cable service like they do now, or choose to upgrade to the new digital system.

"Over the past year, CityWest has made a large investment in building infrastructure in Terrace - first with the fibre-link that interconnected Terrace with Prince Rupert, and second with the upgrade of the local fibre and cable network in Terrace and Thornhill. These upgrades mean better quality services, but also mean new cutting edge services," said Rob Brown general manager with CityWest.

Earlier this month, CityWest announced it was getting ready to make use of its new fibre optic cable connection along Highway 16 to bring 300 new channels to its customers and began an upgrade of its local cable television plant.

The upgrade project in Prince Rupert will run at least two months from start to finish. Once the cable plant upgrade is finished, CityWest will offer the same service locally that it just launched in Terrace.

Ledcor Technical Services (LTS) spent last summer installing the casing and cable underground along the length of Highway 16 in order to be able to provide residents with state-of-the-art technology.

The project was completed last November.

The 150-kilometre fibre link spans some very rough terrain, but now stands as the only fibre link along the Terrace-Prince Rupert corridor.

Fortunately, it was installed underground so it was not impacted by the recent mudslide.
And should the Highway be open for the weekend, anyone heading to Terrace can preview the new service at an open house at the technical office located at 2709 Kalum St. The open house runs on Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on Saturday from 11a.m. to 5 p.m.

In order to subscribe to Digital Cable Tv, customers will need to rent or purchase one of the CityWest Digital Cable Terminals. The Digital Terminals are manufactured by Motorola and come in three varieties - a standard digital terminal, a digital terminal with built in digital recorder, and a high-definition terminal with built in recorder. Customers who have a terminal on one TV in their home would also have the regular 60 channel cable line-up on all of their additional TV's at no extra charge.

World Business comes for a look

The word about the development of the Prince Rupert port, is beginning to attract the business class anxious for a first hand look at what may be their future for shipping goods world wide.

Prince Rupert Economic Development hosted a six-member team of business experts here to look at investment opportunities in the Northwest and explore the Fairview container port and look at its possible place in the world of international trade.

The Daily News had a review of their visit to the city,

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Page one

Six international business experts tasked with promoting the Pacific Gateway overseas got a first-hand look at the potential of the Northwest corridor on Monday.

Prince Rupert Economic Development hosted the six-member team as they heard about investment and trade opportunities in Terrace, Kitimat and Prince Rupert.

"Our international trade representatives, every year, sometimes twice a year, we bring them to B.C. to indoctrinate them more firmly in the message that B.C. is ready to do business internationally and there is a lot more to B.C. than what you see in the Lower Mainland," said Troy Machan, of the B.C. Ministry of Economic Development Marketing, Trade and Investment Team.

He said the new Fairview Container Terminal development plays a large role in attracting international business because it provides the infrastructure to move goods in and out of the country.

"We make a concerted effort to brig the team members to a different region of B.C. each time and Prince Rupert is certainly a region that gets talked about a lot and it's a big part of our mission, especially on the international logistics side," said Machan, director of marketing for the NAFTA Region and European Union.

Members of the trade team visiting Prince Rupert included: Bjarne Jensen from Odense, Denmark; Dr. Rainer Giersch from Hamburg, Germany; John Morgan from Rottweil, Germany; Rolf Fyne from London, England; Gordon Smythe from Palo Alto, United States; and John McDonald from Shanghai, China.

The team met with economic development organizations from Kitimat, Terrace and Prince Rupert before touring the container port, Prince Rupert Grain, Ridley Terminals and Port Edward. In the afternoon, representatives from the port authority, the grain and coal terminal all spoke to the delegates about their operations.

Bjarne Jensen of Odense, Denmark, said the additional development of container capacity in Prince Rupert brings opportunity for other shippers to look at investing in the region.

"For a year and a half now we have all been part of promoting the Gateway and not having seen it ourselves we have been sending companies over here without knowing exactly what they come back with," said Jensen.

He said one of the companies from Denmark, the international shipping company Maersk, was disappointed when they visited eight years ago.

They came back then to talk to the Port of Prince Rupert about investment in a container port development. However, at that stage, the new terminal was still just a far off vision.

"I can see now we sent them over a little early but in the last year and a half you've built a solid base for investment. Now we just have to figure out the time to send them back," he said.

Speaking on behalf the Northwest region in B.C. and Alberta, Graham Kedgley of the Northwest Corridor Development Corporation encouraged the representatives to talk to businesses in their countries about the potential for manufacturing.

"It's very important as the new boy on the block to get the profile of this corridor raised worldwide," he said.

Controversy, what every blogger dreams of.

Having your blog mentioned by name as some kind of unscrupulous appendage that seeks to wreak havoc on the community, ah tis the thing of a million hits.

A Windsor, Ontario councillor is in the spotlight in the border city after he presented details of Windsor city council meetings on his blog, the details revolved around negotiations with the Detroit River International Crossing team, about a new border crossing between the Ontario city and Detroit, Michigan.

Coun. Alan Halberstadt is the guy under attack, as one of his fellow councillors, Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr., claims that his blog, is undermining the city's official position by suggesting that a compromise plan could be worked out rather than the hard and fast plans for a tunnel by the Windsor council.

It would seem that the Windsor City council is a rather secretive group that don't like to talk too much in public, something that they seem to have in common with many city councils that we can think of. Must be a secret oath that they all take or something, like Barney and Fred would take at the old Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes lodge meetings just without the fancy hats.

Things got rather testy in the last Windsor city council meeting, so heated in fact that Laberstadt decided to walk away for a while to cool down after the accusations, most likely he just wanted to go check his site meter.

Thanks to Lewenza he's probably raking in the hits.

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

Let your fingers do the walking before the sharkie gets to biting.

Sometimes you can be too particular!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

No re-opening yet for Highway 16

Heading into Wednesday there is still no definitive word on when the highway between Terrace and Kitwanga will be re-opened after a massive land and mud slide that has left the road blocked.

Pictures from the scene show a mountain of debris stretching far and wide which must leave the highways and forestry crews with but one question. Where to start?

It’s a time consuming process ahead, one that is limited by daylight, weather conditions and stability of the area so as to provide for the safest work environment possible. There is hope of an announcement on Wednesday, but time will tell as to when the road re-opens to traffic between the coast and Prince George.

Drive BC website

Below is some of the regional and national coverage of the story.

CTV News-Northern BC Town still cut off after landslide
Prince George Citizen-Highway 16 probably closed for another day
Global BC-Highway 16 reopening long way off, residents fear
CBC News-Highway 16 remains closed until Wednesday
Opinion 250-Crews Working on Terrace Area Slide

The Daily news had details on the slide in Tuesday’s paper.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Tuesday, Many 29, 2007
Page one

Crews are venturing into the rocky landscape created by the mud slide that closed Highway 16 Monday morning, however loose debris is hanging on the slide chute above them and if anything moves on the mountain side, they will have to stop working to clear the road.

Don Ramsay, area manager for the Ministry of Transportation and Highways, said they’ve started removing the slide that covered 150 feet of highway with a river of rubble 40 feet deep. However, safety of the work crews is the number one priority.

“We’ve been given the go-head to begin removing material subject to weather conditions,” said Ramsey.

The slide took place yesterday near Legate Creek, which is 37km east of Terrace, closing both east- and west bound traffic.

The Ministry has a spotter in place to view the slide chute and closely monitor the lose material still on the hillside.

“If any material moves or the visibility of the spotter declines because of rain, we will have to shut it down,” said Ramsay.

If all goes well, at the earliest, the highway may be open late on Wednesday, he said.

Geotechnical engineers from Prince George were brought in yesterday to assess the stability of the slope and they gave the go-ahead to begin removing the debris.

Crews will be working to clear the road from both sides of the slide. However, many thousands of truckloads of rock, mud and trees will have to be removed, as much as 25,000 cubic metres of material.

The slide may have been triggered by the heavy rain that fell near Terrace on Saturday afternoon, or by the significant run off from this year’s record level snow packs, or a combination of the two.

The Ministry of Transportation has also been working with the RCMP at the slide site.

“It’s not absolutely definitive that no one was caught in the slide but we have been in touch with the RCMP and they have advised us they have not received any reports of missing persons at this time,” said Ramsay.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is also involved in the clean-up effort, working with the province to identify sites where the material can be safely moved without impacting fish habitat.

So far, one site has been identified on the west side of the slide and other is being explored for the east side.

And the transportation ministry sent a grader to smooth out sections of a logging road known as the Cranberry Connector. It is 50 km long and the only east-west route now connecting the Northwest with the rest of B. C. However, it is not a recommended route.

A sign of the digital times

Their Boxing Day sales were the thing of Canadian legend, a time when Canadians willingly lined up for hours to buy their music on vinyl or tape at greatly reduced savings.

And soon Sam the Record Man’s historic flagship store in Toronto will close its doors for good, bringing to an end an unparalleled era in Canadian music.

Beyond the frantic Boxing Day spectaculars, Sam’s provided a chance for then unknown Canadian artists to find a little respect and maybe some sales and the chain’s founder Sam became a Canadian icon in the booming music industry of the seventies and eighties.

Sam’s opened in Toronto in 1961 and by the end of the decade would be the “in” place to go in Toronto for music, set to catch the music explosion of the seventies and eighties, the Yonge Street location became the definitive beacon of the Canadian music industry, the flashing neon record a lighthouse that attracted rather than warned all those that approached.

The decision to shut the doors on the store really was a no brainer, heck the place had already gone into bankruptcy once only to reappear a few years later. It was no doubt a touchstone of an era that saw the dedicated record store as a quaint seventies and eighties, kind of historica, in an brave new digital era of iPods, cel phone tunes, MP3’s and Satellite radio, the sales were plummeting and the foot traffic was nowhere near the heady days of the Cancon explosion and the days of multi million dollar vinyl sales.

Still, for a long time music buyer (far too many replacement formats than I care to count) it’s a reminder of the changing times we live in. My vinyl collection old, musty and unused as it is these days, features many copies of the featured LP of the week from the local Sams of my youth.

Much has been replaced by the trendy iStore selection downloaded in the blink of an eye and loaded onto a music player no larger than your average chocolate bar. Still there was something about ripping the plastic off of the latest LP and tossing it onto a turntable, clicks and hiss and all.

It didn’t make much of the music any better, but at least you felt part of the process, feeling a sense of ownership if you will, now it seems all so disposable, you can’t see it, you can’t feel it, you can only hear it.

In the end it’s all that really matters, but still change is a hard thing to accept sometimes.

It seems like only yesterday (but it was actually more than a few of them) that I rushed home with the new Springsteen album, and cranked up the volume as Bruce and I raced down that highway jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive.

The journey started at a Sams.

Class of 2007 celebrated in print (east side edition)

With computer malfunctions out of the way and all information retrieved, (see comments on yesterday’s west side edition story) the Daily News provided the full details on Friday’s farewell to Charles Hays Secondary School for the Graduating class of 2007.

Good news for east side carriers, who can now resume their duties back in the good books of grad parents east of McBride.

School’s principal says students are set to become ‘great citizens’
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Pages one and three

Ninety-one Grade 12 students from Charles Hays Secondary School left their grade school days behind them Friday night during their Commencement Ceremony at the Lester Centre.

Sandra Jones, principal, said the school is proud of the 2007 grads as they move forward into the next stage of their lives

“It’s an awesome class, they are a really super group of kids,” said Jones.

“They came in all shapes and sizes and have chosen all different career paths but they are the kind of kids you would want to be your own kids. They are good people and going to be great citizens.”

This year’s grad class includes the school’s first three students to go through the ACE IT trades program and they will all be going into welding, as well as many students going on to college and university.

“They are pretty focused. They seem to know what they want,” said Jones.

The students also spoke on their own behalf with Nicci Wright and Patrick Byrne offering student vignettes and Sunni Fahlman and Alexander Volney providing the valedictory address.

The address to the commencement class came from Hondo Arendt, a Northwest Community College instructor, who encouraged the students to rebel in the good sense.

“The rebellion of every generation is needed because they have good values, admirable values and despite the fact every generation looks down on the one coming up, things look better in the past, there is much to be admired in this generation’s values,” said Arendt.

“They are perhaps less greedy, much better educated and much more tolerant than any generation before, so they must rebel and ensure their values become embraced.”

As students walked onto the stage to collect their diplomas, numerous presenters passed a total of $60,000 in scholarships and bursaries from 66 different organizations.

The same amount was also handed out to the graduates of Prince Rupert Secondary School at its commencement ceremony earlier in the day.

“It blows me away, our community can put forward $120.000 along with everything else they do,” said Jones.

City councillor Kathy Bedard was also impressed with the send-off for the graduates.

“It was just amazing how our community supports our graduates,” said Bedard. She noted two students from the city, one from each school have received full guaranteed scholarships to the University of Northern British Columbia.

Brandon Haldane of Charles hays Secondary and Patrick Law of Prince Rupert Secondary were each awarded $6,000 or $1,500 per year to cover four years of schooling at UNBC. They are among three students to receive the award in its first year of inception.

Each is planning to attend UNBC in September in pursuit of Bachelor’s degrees.

Check your own ticket, sign the back, or your jackpot may get hijacked…

Following in the footsteps of an Ontario investigation, the BC government has discovered that there may be some discrepancies in the way our lotto games are handled on the retailer level as well.

Ombudsman Kim Carter released a damning report on the lotto business in BC, suggesting that it’s open to fraud and requires more safeguards to make sure that those playing the lottery aren’t being duped out of their winnings.

Solicitor General John Les announced that from that report the BC government will have an audit conducted on the lottery system in the province. Carter found four particularly disturbing examples of things looking rather fishy for the Lottery Corporation

--Retailers that appear to be winning unusually often, with 21 B.C. Lottery Corporation retailers or employees turning up as multiple winners.

--One retailer won 11 times in five years, collecting more than $300,000 in prizes.

--Another ticket seller claimed $10,000 in prizes every year for four years, and a third person won 13 prizes worth more than $3,000 in a year.

"Most notable," she said, was the lack of scrutiny involving wins under $10,000.

The issue of lottery fraud first came to light through the CBC Newsmagazine program the Fifth Estate which investigated Ontario’s lottery system last year and found numerous problems with the way the industry was regulated.

BC decided that the time was at hand for an investigation of its own business and from the Ombudsman’s report we move now to the audit phase and perhaps after that criminal prosecution.

While British Columbians await further details on how trustworthy the legalized gambling scene is, they can protect themselves with a few simple things. Check your own ticket from an official source, fill in your own ticket on the back regardless of size and always ask for your losing tickets to be returned to you should you be told you don’t have a winner.

And if you’re local retailer is taking frequent vacations, has purchased a large house and suddenly is driving fancy cars on a regular basis, maybe change retailers just to be on the safe side.

B.C. lottery system slammed by ombudsman
One retailer won more than $300,000 in 5 years
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 29, 2007 3:48 PM PT
CBC News

The B.C. government will conduct an audit of the province's lottery system, following the release of a damning report Tuesday by the province's ombudsman that found it's open to fraud.

Ombudsman Kim Carter said the government-owned B.C. Lottery Corporation did not have adequate procedures in place to ensure that correct prize amounts were paid out to the rightful owners of winning tickets.

The ombudsman says the lottery corporation needs to track all wins by retailers.(CBC)
In announcing the audit, Solicitor General John Les said Carter's report raises questions about how the system became vulnerable to fraud.

He said it defies belief that the lottery corporation didn't know there was likely criminal fraud going on against the public.

"You don't need to be a rocket scientist to put two and two together and figure out there's something fishy going on there. They should've gone down there like a rat down a drainpipe and figured it out."

Carter launched her inquiry after a CBC News investigation late last year found widespread problems in Ontario's lottery system.

Ontario's ombudsman concluded in March that province's lottery corporation was "fixated on profits rather than customer service."

B.C. ticket retailers won repeatedly

In her report on the B.C. situation, Carter said that a few retailers appeared to be winning unusually often, with 21 B.C. Lottery Corporation retailers or employees turning up as multiple winners.

She noted one retailer won 11 times in five years, collecting more than $300,000 in prizes.
Another ticket seller claimed $10,000 in prizes every year for four years, and a third person won 13 prizes worth more than $3,000 in a year.

"Most notable," she said, was the lack of scrutiny involving wins under $10,000.

Carter said the corporation, which is responsible for lotteries and gaming in B.C., should have been interested in finding out why some retailers were winning so much.

She also noted there was no process to track and analyze the rates of play and wins by retailers and their employees.

The B.C. Lottery Corporation did its own investigation late last year, but Carter said it was inadequate.

"At the beginning, in their first set of trials, when they sent out their mystery shoppers, they didn't send them out with winning tickets to check. They sent them out with ones that weren't winners. And that was one of the things the investigators from our office picked up on right away."

Carter says the best thing the lottery corporation can do is track all wins by retailers.

The lottery corporation says it accepts all of the ombudsman's recommendations.

So far, no one involved in the multiple winnings in B.C. has been charged with a criminal offence.

Glad tidings from City Hall coming to a mailbox near you

It's Property tax time in Podunk, as the city has finished off its calculations and sent out the happy salutations to its anxious tax paying public.

This is the first year for the new tax system in Prince Rupert, your utility taxes were assessed (and increased) earlier this year and the real true Podunkians rushed to their cheque books to make sure the city remained solvent until July 3rd.

This year the property assessment is a stand alone charge, which interestingly enough still manages to go up every year, though it may seem a little gentler this time on paper. What with your water, sewer and garbage charges tapped on the earlier utility bill, which is now paid off and long forgotten, right?

The current tax levies on the assessments this year, increased in every category for most Podunkians. School levies, General Residential, Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District, Regional Hospital, BCAA and Northwest Regional Hospital charges all went up as did our General Municipal charges and other taxes. Only MFA Residential (whatever that may be) held the line with no increase this year.

Whatever MFA is we clearly need more of it, as it seems to be the only fiscally responsible item on the list.

Regardless, the due date will arrive with or without our bleating out in the fields; Taxes are due to be paid to City Hall by July 3, 2007.

There are three ways that the tax paying class can take care of their civic responsibilities.

We can pay in full (surely the preferred method for the folks at city hall)

We can pay in installments, the pre authorized Tax and Utility plan (delaying and spacing out the inevitable, but keeping some cash in your jeans to jingle)

Or we can pretend we’re a moribund pulp mill and let the financial debts fall where they will...

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

A faithful pet is a wonderful thing.

Rex is putting in some OT.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Class of 2007 celebrated in print (west side edition)

The Daily News featured Prince Rupert Senior Secondary’s graduation celebration as their front page story in Monday’s paper, a review of the big night for eighty six students that commemorated their graduation from high school at the Lester Centre celebration on Friday afternoon.

From their achievements this year to their future plans, the paper covered it all, including featuring a number of pictures of some of the happy grads and their families at Friday’s event. Sure to be a keepsake for a number of the class of 07.

Mind you we wonder what today’s paper might do for future circulation on the east side of town, Charles Hays which also celebrated achievement from the educational beach head of the Prince Rupert Boulevard school didn’t make the cut on Monday, with nary a story or a picture, just a lonely little advisory that their big day will be captured on the pages of Tuesday’s paper (surely Charles Hays commencement wasn’t that long??).

We’re not sure why both school’s events couldn’t have been reviewed on the same day, the optics of it all aren’t very good, letting one side of town bask in the glory first, leaving the other side of town to stew in its juices for another 24 hours.

Perhaps the paper really needed the extra time for a proper presentation; if so why not hold off on both schools until Wednesday and free delivery day. That way parents wouldn’t have to buy extra copies for granny and the aunts and uncles, everyone would have their very own copy delivered to the door (most times anyways).

We’ll provide the Monday showcase of PRSS below and as soon as we have that CHSS review, we’ll share it with the wider Podunkian world.

Students gather before parents and friends to start ‘new beginning’.
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Monday, May 28, 2007
Pages one and three

Eighty six students from Prince Rupert Secondary School celebrated the end of one stage of their lives and the beginning of another during the Commencement Celebrations Friday afternoon.

Wearing formal caps and gowns, the graduating class of 2007 were honoured by their families and friends at a celebration at the Lester Centre.

Sheila Wells, PRSS principal, described this year’s graduates as talented and passionate, but with personalities that are all little different.

“You are a class of individuals with huge hearts, your patience with the younger students is noted and appreciated,” she said.

When asked, the faculty agreed this year’s group of grads “are passionate they love to laugh and can work when needed.”

“As a class of procrastinators, I am pleasantly surprised by your feats,” she teased. As they collected their diplomas, the students were also presented with some $64,000 in scholarships and bursaries that will carry them forward to many different educational goals.

Quite a few of the students are interested in pursuing careers in medicine, while others are looking at teaching or the RCMP. Quite a number will be continuing their studies next year at Northwest Community College in the trades programs.

“Judging by your faces you are as surprised as we are this day has come,” said Sara Rowse, who spoke with J. T. Ward during the Valedictory Address.

“It’s impossible not to have fond memories of Prince Rupert Secondary School.”

They thanked their parents, teachers and coaches for inspiring them in competition, on the stage and in the classroom.

“We are finally ready to embark on a new adventure,” said Ward. “We have only just begun. This is clearly not an end but a new beginning.”

As a gift to the community for all its support, the students made donations to the Prince Rupert Wildlife Rehab Shelter and Prince Rupert Regional Hospital.

Speaking on the graduates’ theme, “We’ve Only Just Begun,” former PRSS teacher Peter Northcott said the students are in an amazing position as they move forward to change the world for the better.

“Life is a whole sequence of bifurcation points. It’s like coming to a fork in the road – which path with you take,” said Northcott.

“There will be some occasions when you realize you are at a critical junction in your life… and some you won’t.

“The most interesting bifurcation points are those when you think about what is in your heart and make a conscious decision,”

While the last few generations have not made the best choices and not left the world in a better state for their children, Northcott encouraged the students to make good decisions at every key point they encounter.

“Your class motto speaks to a willingness to address the challenges of the day,” he said.

“Everything in your lives has the potential to change the world.”

--See tomorrow’s Daily News for a full account of the CHSS grad.

Believe it or not, a group of Parliamentarians even dumber than ours really exists!

Frankly I thought we had won this competition hands down, walking away earlier this month when our Members of Parliament wasted valuable governing time on the hot issue of whether Shane Doan should be captain of Canada’s hockey team in Russia.

A total waste of time that only portrayed a large number of our MP’s as childish, out of touch twits, who were apparently not in the loop as far as what Canadians were really concerned about.

But, what are you gonna do, you wait long enough and somebody comes along and takes your title.

Thanks to Poland’s elected officials, waste of time investigations are no longer the private preserve of Canada’s MP’s, in fact the latest obsession from Poland makes our crew look absolutely intelligent.

Poland’s government officials have recently ordered a psychological evaluation for Tinky Winky, the purple Teletubbie who frequently seems to find him/herself in the front of the line when it comes to controversy.

Fearful that the purple one may be promoting a homosexual lifestyle, Poland is apparently going to spend far too much time examining the television characters proclivities.

If the shrink says that Tinky Winky is a threat to the nation’s children, the Polish television will apparently be ordered to pull it from the air immediately, lest wayward children follow the character off into whatever peril Poland seems to think is lurking.

One must assume that things in Poland are going quite well these days, full employment, excellent health programs, educational standards are high and life is good, otherwise why in the world would they waste their time on this silliness.

Perhaps they didn’t notice, but so far, Tinky Winky is ahead on points when it comes to coming under attack. The Teletubbie once was forced to endure the harsh spotlight of the Reverend Jerry Falwell, who like the Polish government felt that Tinky Winky was leading young people astray.

Of course, while the Reverend has gone on to his reward, Tinky Winky still remains. The Polish political types might wish to keep that in mind should they continue on with the inquisition. Better yet, perhaps the psychologist may wish to branch out and maybe take on some new paitents, the governing class of 2007 might be a good place to start.

The Police Back on the Beat

Tonight was the debut of the return of The Police to the rock and roll world.

The long dormant band of the eighties played it's debut performance in Vancouver, with another planned for Wednesday night before they head off to Edmonton for a Saturday night show.

While we await the inevitable flood of YouTube entries from the 2007 tour, above is a sample of what the renewed Police might have sounded like, taken from their performance from this year's Grammy Awards.

The Police kick off reunion tour in Vancouver
Last Updated: Monday, May 28, 2007 | 2:14 PM ET
CBC Arts

The eagerly awaited Police reunion tour begins in Vancouver Monday night, more than 20 years after the chart-topping group disbanded.

Singer and bassist Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland played a private concert for about 4,000 members of the band's fan club at GM Place Sunday night.

They will return to the venue for concerts on Monday and Wednesday nights before proceeding to an Edmonton gig on Saturday.

Other Canadian stops include two dates each in Toronto and Montreal in late July. The band will return to Toronto in November.

After reuniting in Los Angeles in February to open the Grammy Awards, the rock trio behind hits like Roxanne and Every Breath You Take confirmed the rumours that they were embarking on a tour.

Rock trio Fiction Plane, fronted by Sting's son Joe Sumner, will open for the Police on the North American portion of the tour.

The Police has also announced they will release a new, 30-track greatest hits album on June 11.

Tickets to see the reunited British rockers have sold out in many locations across North America and Europe, where the band will play in late summer through the fall. The tour is also expected to extend to other international locations.

After releasing a a string of hits in the early 1980s — including Message in a Bottle, Don't Stand So Close to Me and Every Little Thing She Does is Magic — the trio split in 1984, at the height of their popularity.

Each member's strong personality was blamed for the breakup and Copeland revealed in a recent interview that tension among the trio over their differing opinions and musical tastes continues today.

"We play nicely for two or three days, and then we start to get on each others' nerves," Copeland told Reuters.

"Then we have a screaming match, and then we hug and kiss, and then we play even better."

Highway closure information

There's not much new on the closure of Highway 16 east of Terrace, provided the following advisory, as of 5:07 pm for those looking for information.

Highway 16:

Closed in both directions 37 km east of Terrace because of Rock Slide. Road will remain closed overnight. Information will be updated by 8:00 am Tuesday May 29th. Updated on Mon May 28 at 5:07 pm. (ID# 47220)

As you can see by the photo above found on the Interior News website, the highways crews will have a rather large job ahead of them before the road is open to traffic again.

The CBC had a small item on their webpage, with a picture that shows the slide dwarfing two RCMP officers.

The CBC affiliate CFTK out of Terrace filed this report.

Global TV has a story streaming on their video webpage as well.

Sens and Ducks finally ready to drop the puck.

Well the fancy skating show at the Pond is finally over, hockey will at last be allowed to showcase it’s Stanley Cup finals, though judging by some of the comments of late, one wonders if anyone will be watching when the puck drops just after 8pm (ET) 5pm (PT).

A seven day break has dropped hockey even further off the American radar than it could possibly have fallen, not that it seems there was far to fall.

The only possible silver lining for the NHL with a Memorial Monday start is that maybe, just maybe the traffic won’t be so bad around the Honda Centre that some folks may actually make it to the 5 o’clock start.

Reports have it that most of the major newspapers in the USA are taking a pass on the finals, Ottawa seemingly to far away from the main line and Anaheim seemingly not enough of a marquee attraction for the editors to send the ink stained lads and lasses off to work. It's just another sign of a number of troubling issues that have popped up in the last waning days of this hockey post season.

Hockey Night in Canada stands ready to broadcast the games across Canada, perhaps as background at a patio party or while the BBQ sizzles. Maybe those on the golf courses will use their fancy XM satellite radio to keep abreast of the drama of the Sens and Ducks, but then again maybe not.

In the USA, Versus gets the first couple of games which means at least the games will be played until the game is actually finished, NBC with it’s three hour window takes over for the final four games, Gary Bettman had best hope that all horses near and far, are kept in the barn for that four game window .

It will be interesting to see the ratings results after Lord Stanley’s Cup has been presented after the seven day break. Hockey unfortunately can’t provide something that the NFL can, fill with two weeks worth of with endless filler before the big game. For Hockey they need to seamlessly move from semi’s to finals with the least amount of time to find other diversions, testimony that maybe the season is running a little too long.

Ideally, the Stanley Cup should be awarded before Canada’s Victoria Day weekend, one week ago. Summer arrives fast in Canada (and leaves just as rapidly), unless you’re living and breathing the Sens, there’s a very good chance you’re thinking of the sun as the teams prepare for game one.

The hockey should be fine; the two teams have survived a grueling path towards the ultimate showdown in the NHL. It’s too bad that the NHL seems to time and time again try to find ways to make sure that fewer and fewer people will be there to see the end of the trail.
The above itme first appeared on my HockeyNation blog, for more items about hockey check it out.

Road Closed east of Terrace

Drive BC is advising motorists that Highway 16 east, 37 km east of the Highway 37 South junction has been closed to traffic in both directions, due to a rock slide.

There has been no time provided yet as to when traffic can resume on the east west connection between Prince Rupert and Prince George.

Drive BC website

Drive BC Road Closure warning

Now serving number four, number four please...

Another day, another couple of suitors for Canada's aluminum giant Alcan.

As the different nations of the world ready their bids, another Canadian company may soon change hands to international investors.

It may be the Aussies, or it may be Norwegian, but we're gonna have to serve somebody...

Alcan takeover talk heats up
Last Updated: Monday, May 28, 2007 10:15 AM ET
CBC News

Speculation over more offers for Alcan ramped up Monday amid a flurry of reports on possible bidders for the Canadian aluminum producer.

Rio Tinto PLC was reported to have hired Deutsche Bank to act as advisers on a possible bid, the Sydney Morning Herald said, citing anonymous sources.

Meanwhile, other published reports had Norsk Hydro ASA, which is 43 per cent owned by the Norwegian government, possibly gearing up for a run at Alcan.

The Globe and Mail reported that Norsk Hydro is preparing a $30-billion US bid, citing investment bankers working with the companies.

Last week, Alcan rejected a $27-billion US takeover bid — or $33 billion US when acquired debt is included — from Alcoa, calling it inadequate.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week, however, Alcan said it might be open to a sweetened bid from its American counterpart.

In the filing, Alcan also said it is "continuously evaluating" all options regarding a possible "Pac-Man strategy" in which it would attempt to acquire Alcoa.

A "Pac-Man strategy" is named after the 1980s video game, in which the characters try to swallow their opponents or risk being eaten themselves. In the world of takeovers, the strategy could see Alcan buying shares in Alcoa to try to thwart a hostile takeover.

Alcan said Friday it was in talks with unidentified third parties. The Globe said last week that Alcan had been in talks with Australia's BHP Billiton.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

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

Sometimes you need to do a little research,

Perhaps a little too close to the airport.

The dog is ready to run again

Greyhound Canada expects to have its service fully restored by the end of Sunday evening, after its striking workers narrowly accepted the two year deal hammered out between their union and Greyhound management.

The contract was accepted by only 51% of the drivers, mechanics, baggage handlers and ticket sellers who had been out on strike since May 17th.

Prince Rupert has two buses a day on most days providing transportation to the towns eastward to Prince George, with connections from there to the rest of the country.

Greyhound bus service resumes after labour deal reached
Last Updated: Saturday, May 26, 2007 2:07 PM PT
CBC News

Greyhound's bus service in Western Canada will be up to speed by the end of the weekend, the company said Saturday after workers agreed on a deal to end a week-long strike.

Up to 95 per cent of the company's bus service was operational as of the morning, said Stuart Kendrick, Greyhound Canada's vice-president of passenger service.

Greyhound's bus service in Western Canada will be up to speed by the end of the weekend, the company said Saturday.(CBC)

Service in areas west of Ottawa was suspended May 17 after contract talks between the union and the Calgary-based company broke down.

The ensuing strike forced thousands of commuters to shuffle their travel plans for the Victoria Day long weekend.

Representatives of the Amalgamated Transit Union said the two-year deal, announced late Friday, will provide wage hikes of three per cent each year.

Just 51 per cent of the drivers, mechanics, and ticket and baggage handlers who voted were in favour of the deal reached late Wednesday. About 1,150 unionized employees were eligible to vote.

Kendrick said passengers who have other questions should phone the Greyhound ticket information centre at 1-800-661-8747.

Northern Health stays local for new executive

Northern Health has decided to hire from within for its new president and chief executive, Friday's paper had the complete details on the decision.

Strength from within for Northern Health
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, May 25, 2007

After an extensive search, Northern Health has chosen one of its own employees to take over the position of president and chief executive officer.

Yesterday, Northern Health chair Jeff Burghardt announced that the board has appointed Cathy Ulrich to the position, effective June 15.

"In recruiting our new CEO, the board's goal was to select a strong leader who would engage Northern Health's capable staff and maintain and build upon our partnership with Northern physicians," said Burghardt.

"We want to ensure that we strengthen our open relationship with Northern communities, and enhance on-going efforts with our many partners to build better health services across Northern British Columbia. We're confident that Cathy will provide exceptional leadership as Northern Health continues to develop."

Ulrich takes over from Malcolm Maxwell, who is leaving Northern Health for a position at a hospital in Ontario. Since 2002, she held the position vice-president of clinical services and chief nursing officer with Northern Health.

She has spent the majority of her career in rural and northern locations where she gained a solid understanding of the nature of rural and northern communities, their health needs and concerns, and the unique approaches required to meet these needs.

Burghardt added she has a proven track record of successfully garnering and engaging resources specifically for rural and northern initiatives.

She has also been actively engaged in health services research, teaching and graduate student support.

"I believe Northern Health is well positioned to be a provincial and national leader in the delivery of high quality health care services to rural and northern populations," said Ulrich.

"I look forward to leading the implementation of Northern Health's strategic directions and working with our many partners to develop creative and innovative solutions that will ensure a sustainable system of health services in the North."

Ulrich said she will spend her time between now and June 15 bringing herself up to speed with the many projects already underway at Northern Health.

Burghardt said that during the coming years Northern Health needs to migrate away from acute care and Ulrich can help in this goal.

"We need to move to healthier communities and so much of that requires program development," he said. "Largely in Cathy's role to this point, she's been responsible for the direction of program development. Malcolm relied heavily on Cathy in the last few years."

He added they wanted to hire someone who could accept and work with goals and objectives already being implemented by senior staff.

A field for the sharing

Port Edward officials are a tad puzzled over the lack of interest in using their recreation facilities, with a relatively new and well kept field available for the community the amount of requests for time is rather low.

The Daily News provided details on what is causing the lack of interest and how Port Edward hopes to have their field better utilized by the area's residents.

‘Sports field on the level for everyone’
By Patrick Witwicki
The Daily News
Friday, May 25, 2007

Years ago, the district of Port Edward opened a brand new sports field that arguably is the best facility on the North Coast. Yet years later, that potential field of dreams isn't being accepted as a reality by North Coast residents.

At this week's Port Edward council meeting, Coun. James Brown brought up the touchy subject that even today, residents in both Port Edward and Prince Rupert complain about all the fees involved with using the field.

"I'm getting approached by a lot of people about the field, and they're not happy," said Brown.
The overwhelming response from both Mayor Dave MacDonald and Chief Executive Officer Ron Bedard was "what fees?"

They say we're hindering them, and they're completely wrong," said MacDonald. "I want people to use that field."

Bedard said that the only time the district requires a fee is if it involves league play or a tournament.

But even then, for such events as a day tournament, all the district requires is a damage deposit, which is paid back if the field is cleaned up after.

"The deposit, you get back as long as you clean up, and don't wreck the field," said Coun. Ed Wampler.

In the past, council has heard that Rupertites have declined to use the field because it is too far to drive, said Bedard.

MacDonald added that recently, a Rupert slo-pitch team wanted to use the field for a practice, and he said that was fine.

"I just told them to call the office to book a time, so they got it, and that was all," he said.
Bedard said that it is obvious there is confusion on the North Coast about the availability and cost of the Port Edward field, and that for the next council meeting, he will bring a report for council to read that should clear up any confusion.

Brown, who currently is hosting soccer drop-in nights every Tuesday and Thursday at the field, agreed with the plan.


Port Edward is considering redoing its Official Community Plan.

Bedard notified council that a new Community Assessment Grant of $5,000 is now available.
"Our report is 13 years old, but in reality, it should be done every five years," said Bedard. "But with our financial situation, it wasn't possible to do so."

The plan would cost approximately $40,000, and would bring in an outside engineer to come up with a new report. This would also give Port Edward residents a chance to speak up about what they would like to see happen in the district during the next few years as the North Coast continues to move forward with economic engines such as the new container port.

"I think it's well worth it," said MacDonald. "We know what we feel is good for Port Ed, but we'd like to hear from the residents what they want for Port Edward.

"What type of community do we want?"

Council then okayed Bedard's motion to apply for the grant, but Bedard added that if the grant was turned down, they would wait until a later date to review the Official Community Plan.

Perhaps they can teach the city how to fix Fulton street!

Some required reading for the engineering department over at the city yard.

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

A babe, a beer and a bathtub

How's that for a mood breaker!

With growth, will come the swindlers

Consider it a warning of what may be to come.

Bilkers, flim flamers, fraud artists, scammers and swindlers, they’ll all be hearing the news of the potential of Prince Rupert and be looking for their share.

Patricia Bowles of the B C Securities Commission was in Prince Rupert this week, speaking at a Rotary Club function Thursday where she issued the warning that with growth will come the arrival of those looking to fraudulently separate you from your money.

Ms. Bowles enlightened the audience to the fact that only 14% of all frauds are reported, with the remaining 86% of those affected suffering their losses in silence and in many cases it’s a burden that takes its toll on their families. She offered some advice on how you could avoid becoming one of the more than a million Canadians victimized every year by disreputable people with nothing but their own self interest at heart.

The Daily news featured a review of her presentation in Friday’s paper.

‘Prepare to meet the fraudsters as Rupert grows’
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, May 25, 2007

Page one

Close to a million Canadians a year lose money in financial frauds and scams and on average, more of that is happening in British Columbia than other provinces, say representatives of provincial government agency that regulates securities trade.

Patricia Bowles, director of communications with the B.C. Securities Commission, said while the national average is four per cent of the public who are defrauded, in B.C. that rate is about five per cent.

"We seem to have a much higher per centage of these folks here in British Columbia," she said, speaking to the Prince Rupert Rotary Club on Thursday.

"The effects of losing all your savings is as serious as violent crime - people lose families, develop health problems and can't put their kids through school."

She said that today's financial fraudsters are sophisticated - they play on people's hopes and fears to swindle them out of their money.

Of the 900,000 Canadians that are swindled each year, 12 per cent of the victims lose more than $25,000 and 70 per cent of the time, none of that is recovered.

Many of those who are defrauded are not likely to report the incident because they are embarrassed or ashamed.

"Only 14 per cent of fraud attempts are reported," she said. "But as Prince Rupert grows and the port grows, they (fraudsters) will be here."

The B.C. Securities Commission is focused on prevention through their Invest Right program, featuring a Red-Flags communications campaign designed to alert investors about popular fraudulent schemes.

Investors can educate themselves about common scams, learn what questions to ask when investing and run opportunities through a scam metre' that helps them identify red flags all on the InvestRight web site,

Valerie MacLean, executive director of the B.C. Crime Prevention Association, said prevention is really the key to stopping fraud.

"Once that money goes offshore, you are not going to get it back," she said.

One of the newer scams businesses should be aware of is the overpayment scam.

In this scam, a business is contacted for a large purchase and sent a United States cashier's cheque to pay for those items or services. The business deposits the cheque in anticipation of the transaction occurring, however that cheque can take up to five weeks for the bank to cash.

In the meantime, the fraudsters contacts the business to say they have over booked or over purchased and asks for a refund of half the cheque.

The business sends the refund before the original cashier's cheque is processed fully, then the original cheque bounces and the business is out thousands of dollars.

In one instance, a hotel lost $15,000 after being scammed this way when a fraudulent company booked $30,000 in rooms.

She added that anyone who wants to eliminate the possibility of having pre-authorized credit card junk mail used in identity theft or who wants to get telemarketers off their backs can register for a no call' list at, the Canadian Marketing Association's web site.

If people do get calls after they have registered, all they have to do is notify the company calling that they are on the no call' list and the calls will stop.

First to the pump, first to your wallet, Saturday, May 26 edition

A welcome surprise for the weekend for Podunk, not only has the price held but in the case of one retailer the price of gasoline has actually dropped.

Petro Can in a surprise move, reduced it's market leading price of gas from 129.9 to 125.5, bring it in line with the rest of the local gas retailers.

It's not the halcyon days of 86 cents a litre. but hey at least it didn't spike upwards (yet!)

Saturday's price snapshot

Petro Can 125.5
Husky 125.5
Esso 125.5
Chevron 125.5
Race Trac Gas 125.5

An officer’s account of a night of tragedy

The Prince George website Opinion250 has published a transcript of the statement by RCMP constable Paul Koester. It is an 18 page typed account of the night of October 29, 2005 and provides the constables account of the events that led up to the tragic shooting of 22 year old Ian Bush in the Houston detachment’s interview room.

The statement was recounted three weeks after the incident, taken from an assortment of notes that the officer made in relation to the shooting, he stated in testimony this week that he put it together with the assistance of his wife the lawyer that he has retained since the events of October 29th.

It’s an interesting review of the night in question from the perspective of the RCMP officer, which traces the mundane tasks of regular patrol, detachment duties and the eventual tragic shooting. An event has been the subject of this week’s coroner’s inquest and has been the topic of conversation in Houston since that fateful October night.

The full report from the Opinion 250 website can be found here.

BC Ferries and Transportation Safety Board will share black box data

The case won’t make it to court after all, as the Transportation Safety Board decided that it will allow BC Ferries access to the computer data that it recovered from the wreck of the Queen of the North off of Gil Island.

Earlier in the week, the Ferry Corporation had commenced action to take the Safety Board to court after the federal agency refused to turn over the data disks from the bridge of the Queen of the North. The data provides chart information from the navigation system on the ship and might help shed some light on the reasons for the disaster in March of 2006.

The board was declining to release the material recovered from the sunken vessel because it said B.C. Ferries would not provide assurances it would not publicly release the material before the release of a final board report into the accident, board spokesman John Cottreau said.
It’s an issue that apparently has been resolved with the announcement yesterday that BC Ferries will have access to that information.

If nothing else at least it removes one more roadblock from the eventual release of the report from the Transportation Safety Board. A lengthy court case over such silliness as access to data is the last thing the people of BC need, what they would like and should be demanding is prompt and complete information on the tragedy.

They deserve to know what happened on that fateful night, and having the two principles in the matter sparring over access is not at all in anyone’s interest. Thankfully we’re to be spared than unseemly show, now if we could only get some clear and truthful answers as to what happened that night, we might be able to bring a bit of closure to a tragic moment in BC’s maritime history.

B.C. Ferries, TSB to share ship's data
Deal comes after disclosure of lawsuit seeking access to computer hard drive from ferry's electronic chart system
The Globe and Mail
May 26, 2007

VANCOUVER -- B.C. Ferries and the federal Transportation Safety Board yesterday agreed to share data gathered from the sunken Queen of the North ferry.

The deal, negotiated by lawyers, came soon after disclosures that the Crown-owned ferry company had filed a lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court seeking access to a computer hard drive from the electronic chart system of the ferry, which ran aground near Prince Rupert in March of 2006.

The board was declining to release the material recovered from the sunken vessel because it said B.C. Ferries would not provide assurances it would not publicly release the material before the release of a final board report into the accident, board spokesman John Cottreau said.
With the agreement, however, the data were to be provided to B.C. Ferries today.

The data record the vessel's final movements and could provide new evidence about its motions before it ran into trouble.

Two of 101 passengers and crew aboard the ship remain missing.

B.C. Ferries president David Hahn said lawyers for two parties reached the deal yesterday, capping weeks of negotiations.

The company, Mr. Hahn said, was maintaining its option to go to court, but was satisfied now to be able to review the material.

"We still leave our options open to pursue court issues in our petition should we deem that necessary," Mr. Hahn said.

He said, as an example, that B.C. Ferries would resume its lawsuit if there was a safety issue highlighted by the material that the company wanted to release to the public.

"The main thing is we start tearing into the data and try to dig through as to what may or may not be there," he said.

"It's one of the more critical pieces of the puzzle because it's objective data. It's not human beings. It's machines talking and machines will give you very objective, statistical navigational references that are indisputable. They are unique in this situation."

Court documents suggest B.C. Ferries also wants the board's report delayed until it has a chance to analyze the electronic data.

The safety board recovered the material within two months of the ferry's sinking.

B.C. Ferries, which has fired three bridge crew based on its own investigation, also wants to analyze the material to help it respond to the board's report into the accident.

Podunkian Music Club

Carrie Underwood- Before He Cheats

Tonight on the Music Club we explore that always popular theme of country music, the cheatin’ song.

But unlike the days of the past, today the ladies of country music won’t sit back and stand by their man, nope, they have payback on their mind. And in the world of country music there’s nothing more dangerous than a Carrie Underwood scorned.

Underwood, a former American Idol alumnus (the Queen of 2005 as a matter of fact), has moved onto the country stage in a big way with a couple of country hits over the last year or so. But none have found the cache that Before He Cheats has found.

In the lingo of the music world, she has a monster of a crossover hit. Not only a rising song on the country charts but finding success on the Adult Contemporary and Pop world as well. Her debut album, Some Hearts has met with a warm reception from the critics and it would appear that radio, video and retail are rather fond of her as well.

As for Before He Cheats, It would seem that everyone loves a lady ready for revenge, and Carrie is one chick you had best not cheat on.

Just to give you an idea, here’s a sample of the sass of the lass, a lady who wields a mean set of keys and has a pretty good swing with her Louisville Slugger.

I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped up 4 wheel drive,
carved my name into his leather seat...
I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights,
slashed a hole in all 4 tires...
maybe next time he'll think before he cheats.

I might've saved a little trouble for the next girl,
cause the next time that he cheats...
oh you know it won't be on me!
No... Not on me...

It’s available at the iTunes Store for those that have revenge on their minds and need a soundtrack for their rage.

Or if you're in a good relationship at the moment and in a travelling mood, hop into your souped up four wheel drive and head for Merritt for the Mountain Music Festival or head for the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, just don't cheat while you're there!

Country music has long been the home of the heartbroken, a genre that the country industry has parlayed into millions maybe billions of dollars over the years, but none have provided the kind of stand up and take no, uh trouble, as the monster hit for Underwood.

She could be the Queen of the country revenge songs with this one and no doubt will have legions following her ways.

Best to go check up on your souped up 4 wheel drive right now, especially if you’re of the straying kind.

Artist- Carrie Underwood
Recording- Some Hearts