Saturday, June 30, 2007

Podunkian Music Club

The Clash-London Calling

With all the excitement in the UK over the last few days, we felt it was time to bring out one of England's best exports of the late seventies and early eighties.

While their music was formed in the tumult of England of seventies, an era of class warfare to extreme measures. Things weren't as complicated as they seem today for that part of the world.

As for the Clash, they represented the underclass of England, struggling for a bit of respect, a decent job and a spot in the line with the rest of society.

The music was fast, angry, urgent and simply wonderful. They ruled the punk and rock world for a short time before the inevitable differences would slay their sound like many other bands of the era, but while they were kicking out the sounds, there were few that could keep up the pace with them.

Artist-The Clash
Recording- London Calling

All you need to know about Canadian television.

I found this on the ole intertube tonight, it's a pretty funny bit featuring Toronto Argonaut running back John Avery (who once again has a bit more spare time on his hands this season it seems) who doubles as a stand up comedian.

In this episode, Avery learns some history about Canadian television.

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

It's all in the way you organize your notes.

The meter's running and you have nowhere to go!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Mother sets out to walk the Highway of Tears

Sunday, will see Audrey Auger and a group of young people begin a 722 mile walk down the Highway of Tears, a commemoration of the life Auger's young daughter Aielah Katherina Saric.

Saric was 14 when she disappeared along that infamous stretch of highway, subsequently found dead east of Prince George in February of 2006. Nine women, most of them of First Nations ancestry have disappeared on that highway since 1990, while the investigations continue there has been little progress yet made on their cases.

A website has been developed to keep the message alive and provide updates on developments along the Highway of Tears.

Ms. Auger and her group leave Prince Rupert on Sunday morning. The CBC featured her story and her plans on their website Friday.

Mother walks 'highway of tears' in memory of slain girl
Last Updated: Friday, June 29, 2007 12:33 PM PT
CBC News

A woman plans to walk 722 kilometres along the "highway of tears" between two northern B.C. communities to help herself heal after losing her 14-year-old daughter in a highway killing in February 2006.

Audrey Auger said her daughter, Aielah Katherina Saric, went missing last year and was later found dead along Highway 16, east of Prince George.

Aielah Katherina Saric's body was found along Highway 16, east of Prince George.

Since 1990, nine women, most of them young and aboriginal, have vanished or turned up dead on the stretch of road from Prince George to Prince Rupert, known as the highway of tears.

Auger described the last time she saw her daughter.

"She waved at me and blew me a kiss and said, 'I'll be back, mom, I'll be back, don't worry, I'll phone you,'" Auger said.

Since Saric's death, Auger turned to alcohol and has been living on the street, she said. Last month, she woke up and decided to get her act together.

Auger hopes the journey will "help me live again, to find my strength and know who I am in the role of a woman.

"I'm not there yet, but I'm getting there — baby steps, they say, and that's what I'm taking right now."

Auger and a group of youths will start their 722-kilometre journey this Sunday in Prince Rupert.

Prince Rupert Nursing shortage has Northern Health walking a tightrope

It's going to be an anxious summer for patients, medical professionals and administrators in Prince Rupert.

Opinion 250 has posted a story on its website , detailing the concerns over nursing shortages at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital, a situation that could possibly lead to patient transfers over the summer months.

Prince Rupert Nursing Shortage Could Force Patient Transfers
250 News
Friday, June 29, 2007 03:55 AM

While Northern Health is making some progress in filling vacant nursing positions at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital, the facility will be walking a tightrope over the summer months.

"We want our patients to understand that in the event of a nursing shortage during a particular time, due to a sick call or unexpected staffing vacancy, we may need to conduct transfers to other facilities to ensure our patients receive certain procedures," says Sheila Gordon-Payne, Interim Health Services Administrator for Prince Rupert and the Queen Charlotte Islands.

"We are hopeful this will not happen. Even so, we're advising patients, such as expectant mothers, to discuss their birthing plan or alternative arrangements with their physician, in the event a transfer has to happen."

Northern Health's Director of Communications, Mark Karjaluoto, says two new staff members will bring the Maternity Ward at PRRH up to its full complement, as of August 1st. And by the fall, he says, "The hospital will have a nursingrotation that provides three registered nurses on the patient care unit (emergency and the operating room are staffed separately), two of which will have maternity training."

However with vacation time and the potential for staff sick days, Karjaluoto says Northern Health is working to bring nurses from outside of Prince Rupert to work at the hospital for shifts through the summer. He says recruitment for vacant medical/surgical nursing positions also continues.

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

New names, same old, same old.

Ghosts of campaigns past.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

All about "The crazy old person running that country"

Jon Stewart tempts the Gods (and maybe some secret US government organization) with his continued examination of Vice President Dick Cheney and his suggestions that he may be a tad above the fray (and some say maybe the law?) in matters American political.

Cheney this week seemed to imply that he was not part of the Executive Branch of American government and thus not required to submit to requirements that his office comply with requirements the National Archives' charting of the classification and declassification of important documents.

Expressing a point of view that most grade school kids studying politics might dispute, the Vice President seems to think of himself as more of a lawmaker (just you're average politico) as opposed to a member of the Executive Branch of the system. It's a claim that has raised the ire of politicians and citizens alike in the US, many of whom are always a tad suspicious of the VP at the best of times.

All week Stewart has been running a feature called "You don't know Dick", tantalyzing little facts about the VP which leave you rolling in the aisles. If you haven't been tuning in to the show (you're missing out on some of the best satire there is), check out the Daily Show website, they have frequent archive items posted including some of the fine video eviscerations that they have offered up this week.

The Daily Show website

There are others willing to help out Mr. Cheney with his confusion, Doonesbury wades into the political waters with a straw poll to help the VP out about his place in the American system.

But for the Veep, there's a lot more to worry about than just the comedic stylings of a master satirist or cartoonist, the real world is starting to ask questions about the Imperial Cheney and the lightning rod effect that his comments seem to bring to him from America.

Time to reel in the arrogant 'Angler'

Cheney's statements show signs of arrogant leadership

Reagan Lawyer: Impeach Cheney

Feingold on Cheney: “I Think He’s Confused"

Cheney's great irony

Don't underestimate that pitcher of warm spit

Dick Cheney's own branch of government

Cheney puts himself above the law

Thanks for Dick Cheney

Wanting it both ways

The Imperial Vice Presidency

Impeach Cheney

The latest bit of controversy surrounding the Vice President brings back echoes of the 1970's and the days of Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon. Which historians might note didn't end particularly well for either of those principles at the time.

As if on cue, the Washington Post is once again in the forefront of examining a presidency and the second banana of the bunch.

Angler: The Cheney Vice-Presidency

Cheney unbound

It will be interesting to see if history repeats itself in the very near future. Hollywood likes sequels, perhaps we may soon see All the President's Men II: Wrath of Dick. Featuring Barton Gellman and Jo Becker as this era's Woodward and Bernstein.

Hey, you, get off of our snow!

Russia has decided that it owns a whole hunk of the Arctic Circle, having tasked his scientists to declare that Russia can claim an underwater ridge near the North Pole as, according to the Russian's it's really part of Russia's continental shelf.

Oil and Gas apparently are the twin reasons for Mr. Putin's sudden interest in staking a claim to Santa's Village and a good hunk of the back forty there as well.

Canadians and Americans have expressed shock at his sudden declaration while world environmentalists suggest it would not be a good thing for the world should the Russian's have their way.

It's not the first time that the Russians have attempted a polar land grab, five years ago, a Russian claim to the Arctic was rejected, but this time Moscow plans to make a far more serious submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

The U.S. state department said the Russian claim was completely unacceptable. "It's an extraordinary idea and I can't believe it will go anywhere," an official said.

A Canadian official called the move a complete surprise.

Some observers say that the Russian plan is one of flawed logic and that by using the Russian's own argument then Canada could lay claim to a good portion of Russia as well as Eurasia.

Guess we'll have to pull out that old board game of Risk, make it easier for us to decide what parts of Russia and Eurasia we would like to take as our own!

Putin's Arctic invasion: Russia lays claim to the North Pole - and all its gas, oil, and diamonds
The Daily Mail
Last updated at 00:37am on 29th June 2007
Comments (6)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is making an astonishing bid to grab a vast chunk of the Arctic - so he can tap its vast potential oil, gas and mineral wealth.

His scientists claim an underwater ridge near the North Pole is really part of Russia's continental shelf.

One newspaper printed a map of the "new addition", a triangle five times the size of Britain with twice as much oil as Saudi Arabia.

The dramatic move provoked an international outcry. The U.S. and Canada expressed shock and environment campaigners said it would be a disaster.

Observers say the move is typical of Putin's muscle-flexing as he tries to increase Russian power.

Under current international law, the countries ringing the Arctic - -Russia, Canada, the U.S., Norway, and Denmark (which owns Greenland) - are limited to a 200-mile economic zone around their coasts.

A UN convention says none can claim jurisdiction over the Arctic seabed because the geological structure does not match the surrounding continental shelves.

But Russian scientists have returned from a six-week mission on a nuclear ice-breaker to claim that the 1,220-mile long underwater Lomonosov Ridge is geologically linked to the Siberian continental platform - and similar in structure.

The region is currently administered by the International Seabed Authority but this is now being challenged by Moscow.

Experts estimate the ridge has ten billion tons of gas and oil deposits and significant sources of diamonds, gold, tin, manganese, nickel, lead and platinum.

A Russian attempt to claim Arctic territory was rejected five years ago, but this time Moscow plans to make a far more serious submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. A British diplomatic source warned that Russia was planning to secure its grip on oil and gas supplies "for decades to come".

He said: "Putin wants a strong Russia, and Western dependence on it for oil and gas supplies is a key part of his strategy. He no longer cares if it upsets the West."

The U.S. state department said the Russian claim was completely unacceptable. "It's an extraordinary idea and I can't believe it will go anywhere," an official said.

A Canadian official called the move a complete surprise.

Green groups warned that the Kremlin claim could devastate one of the world's last unspoilt areas.

John Sauven, director of Greenpeace UK, said: "We think nations should stop searching for new sources of fossil fuel and focus instead on the alternatives - renewables, energy efficiency and decentralised energy systems.

"Only then will disputes over natural resources become a thing of the past."

Ted Nield, of the Geological Society in London, branded Russia's claim nonsensical.
"The notion that geological structures can somehow dictate ownership is deeply peculiar," he said.

"Anyway, the Lomonosov Ridge is not part of a continental shelf - it is the point at which two ocean floor plates under the Arctic Ocean are spreading apart.

"It extends from Russia across to Canada, which means Canada could use the same argument and say the ridge is part of the Canadian shelf.

"If you take that to its logical conclusion, Canada could claim Russia and the whole of Eurasia as its own."

Northern Health hears first hand of problems with local health care

People falling through the cracks, long standing issues and a lack of shelter for those in the most need were some of the key concerns brought to a forum about the state of treatment for mental health and addictions.

City councillors, local officials and citizens raised a number of concerns about the issue a long standing problem in the city and one that seems to keep getting pushed into a corner or swept under a rug.

The many issues that plague the city have been long standing ones, but lately seem to be getting worse and far more noticeable to the average citizen, the real question is whether Health officials are noticing and more importantly will they take action.

The Daily News featured the developments from the session in Wednesday's paper.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Prince Rupert has a hospital with no psychiatric ward, yet it has psychiatric patients. It has people rummaging through trash cans to find pop bottles to pay for cheap liquor, but no detoxification centre. And it has teenagers moving nightly from couch to couch, but no homeless shelter.

That was the message health care providers, politicians and the public brought to Northern Health during a meeting about the state of treatment for mental health and addictions.
Coun. Joy Thorkelson said the issue of a lack of a detoxification facility has been problematic for decades.

"The biggest addiction in this town is alcohol," said Thorkelson.

"Things have not changed. It seems to be harder now for people to get treatment."

She said that when people have to wait weeks to get into an out-of-town facility for detoxification, most of the time they don't make it to the detoxification centre.

"I passed two young men in their late 20s, early 30s on their way here who used to hold down decent jobs in the fishing industry who now are just down and out, digging in the garbage for pop cans," said Thorkelson.

"These used to be people who could make a living but they could never make it on the bus to Prince George."

Other health care providers noted the lack of beds available to the homeless, and the lack of programs to get them back on their feet.

Coun. Sheila Gordon-Payne said she is most concerned about the people who fall through the cracks.

People who come into the emergency ward with a mental health problem in a life or death state receive treatment at the hospital, but if they can make it through the night on their own, they are sent home.

In addition, participants noted police and the hospital often use each other's beds (even in the cells) to house those who need someplace to sleep it off.

Police often become the health care system for those struggling with severe mental health and additions problems after 5 p.m. There is no one in town trained to deal with HIV patients, a lack of outreach services to the villages and the current staff at Northern Health Mental Health and Addictions are stretched to the limit, said participants.

Joanne Bezzubetz, Northern Health's regional director of addictions and mental health, agreed they need to provide more training for front-line health care providers such as those at the hospital to help them deal with mental health problems.

Nor do they offer prevention when it comes to mental health problems, but it is an area they do need to get into.

The public meeting was part of a consultation Northern Health is holding on mental health and addictions service.

Northern Health is holding 35 community meetings across the North from May 23 to July 5.
For those who did not attend Monday night's meeting, people can still submit their comments either by phone, mail or email. "Let's Talk About Addictions & Mental Health" comment forms, and discussion guides, are available at, as well as at local health units, health centres and hospitals.

"People can still respond on comment forms until July 7," said Sonya Kruger, communications officer for Northern Health.

Port's potential promoted at aboriginal conference

Delegates to the National Aboriginal Capital Corporation Association’s, received a comprehensive briefing about the progress of the Fairview Container Port project and preview of what is coming down the line over the next seven years for the Prince Rupert waterfront.

Shaun Stevenson of the Port Corporation and Doug Hayden-Luck of Canadian National Railways, outlined the current status of the project, what is planned for the future and how aboriginal people and first nations based businesses could benefit from the transportation link to the world.

The presentation was covered by the Daily News with a full article in Wednesday's paper.

By Christian Webber
The Daily News
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Page One

Dozens of financial experts from aboriginal communities throughout Canada got to hear first-hand yesterday about the potential of Prince Rupert's developing container port.

The general managers and chair persons from aboriginal financial institutions, in town for the National Aboriginal Capital Corporation Association's (NACCA) 11th annual general meeting being hosted by Tricorp, packed the meeting room at the Crest Hotel for the opening event, a presentation about the port.

Shaun Stevenson, the vice-president of marketing and business development with the Prince Rupert Port Authority, and Doug Hayden-luck, sales director for CN Rail's International Indermodal operations spoke about the benefits of the new Fairview Container Terminal Development in Prince Rupert for aboriginal businesses.

There were 60 delegates on hand from around Canada and parts of the United States for the general meeting.

Stevenson said that right now the cruise ships coming in to Atlin Terminal are bringing in $10 million and 120,000 passengers a year.

He said among the advantages of developing the Fairview Container Terminal are its proximity to Asia, the fact that Prince Rupert has one of the deepest harbours in the world, CN Rail is on board and capable of delivering, and the fact that Prince Rupert's capacity for growth and exports is huge.

Stevenson said their strategic direction is cruise ship and industrial development and containerization.

The first phase of Fairview will cost $160 million, and it has an estimated capacity of 500,000 20-foot equivalent containers, compared to Vancouver's two million TEUs.

"Construction is progressing well and it is on time and on budget," said Stevenson.

He said the future expansion plans include phase 2, to be completed in 2011, which is hoped to have a capacity of 1.5 million TEUs and 150 more acres of space, as well as a second berth. Terminal 2 is the next phase after that, it will include a capacity of yet another two million TEUs and the port hopes it will be under way after 2011.

So far, phase one is on time to be ready for operations in October of this year. Phase 2 will be ongoing from 2009 to 2011, and Terminal 2 is expected by 2014.

"To meet Pacific Gateway's projected demands, they must work non-stop until 2014," said Stevenson.

Stevenson said the total West Coast capacity is 23 million TEUs, and British Columbia's current rate is 2.1 million, and is expected to be doubled by 2020.

"Prince Rupert is critical and optimal for operations," said Stevenson.

The export side to the port has not been talked about as much as the import potential, but is half the reason why this is happening, he said. Alaska seafood will be the main export through Prince Rupert, then pork from Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The port exports will have a capacity of 75,000 to 100,000 TEUs. Also the new Prince George Inland Port will ship out 60,000 40-foot equivalent containers of forest products annually to Asia.

Another plus for Prince Rupert and the aboriginal community is the number of youth that will be able to work, whether as longshoremen or for the authority.

"The young population is one of the strongest assets for the Port Authority," said Stevenson.
Doug Hayden-Luck of CN pointed out that Prince Rupert is 1,000 nautical miles closer to Asia than Los Angeles, which works out to a two-day sail.

From Hong Kong, Prince Rupert is 5,286 miles, Vancouver is 5,768, Seattle is 5,777 and L.A. is 6,380.

Hayden-Luck said CN will also be able to travel faster than their competitors through to Prince George, saving them valuable time getting to places like Chicago, Memphis, Detroit, Toronto and Montreal.

CN is responsible for $30 million of investment in the project, along with the Canadian Government's $30 million, Maher Terminals' $60 million, the Port Authority's $25 million and the government of British Columbia's $30 million.

"We really believe this will be successful," said Hayden-Luck.

CN also announced that Cosco, an Asian shipping company is on board. It is supplying nine vessels with a capacity of 55,000 TEUs that Hayden-Luck said are bigger than most cruise ships that dock in Prince Rupert. With Cosco, export out of Canada will be possible to anywhere in Asia.

Exporting will be a big part of the container port because as Hayden-Luck pointed out, there is hardly any money made by the shipping boats in the Asia-to-Canada aspect.

"Carriers need to make money on both trips," said Hayden-Luck.

Since Prince Rupert does not have very much local cargo, the exports will have to come from away. The primary growth in exports will be grain and specialty wood, and that is expected to double by 2015.

Pond pounces on questions of making DFO "cave in"

The outcry from environmentalists and sports fishing lobbyists isn't getting too warm a reception from Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond. The Mayor came to the defence of DFO bureaucrats on Wednesday, suggesting that "the good men and women at the DFO are being so maligned by people that are just seeking their own self-interest."

The Mayor was accused by the two groups of interference with the government department last year, when DFO allowed a one day opening late in the season to take advantage of a larger than expected run of sockeye arrived on the north coast.

City councillor and UFAWU representative Joy Thorkelson also stepped into the debate with claims that the two groups were being self serving in their criticism of DFO.

The Daily News had the full story on its front page Wednesday.

By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Page one

It would have been insanity for the commercial fishing industry to let a record sockeye run swim by its door without trying to get the fleet in the water, say local politicians in response to allegations they interfered in last year's fishery.

On Monday, the Watershed Alliances and the North Coast Steelhead Society accused local politicians and the United Fishermen and Allied Workers' Union of politically interfering with Fisheries and Oceans Canada's (DFO) management of the 2006 fishery by pushing for more days for the commercial gillnet fleet. And they allege that the additional sockeye fishing caused harm to the steel head stocks.

Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond, who flew down to Vancouver last summer to stand on the steps of DFO headquarters in a lobby effort, said yesterday that DFO made the right decision, given the changing data on fish as the season unfolded.

"I think it's atrocious that the good men and women at the DFO are being so maligned by people that are just seeking their own self-interest," said Pond.

"They did what was right last summer, when an unprecedented amount of sockeye showed up late in the season, after all of the species of concern had gone, they opened up some opportunities, and good on them."

Although the fishing season was only extended by one extra day of fishing, the conservationists and steelhead lobby groups claim overfishing practices occurred that may have endangered future steelhead runs.

Joy Thorkelson of the United Fishermans and Allied Workers Union-CAW says that the self-serving campaign by the commercial steelhead guides is shameful.

She said they are interested in increasing their wealth at the expense of the rest of the Skeena users.

"I hardly think the DFO could be characterized as caving-in,'" said Thorkelson. "We wished that they had caved-in. If, in fact, they had caved-in, we would have been fishing six days after [August] 24 because there was plenty of sockeye for us to catch at that time."

What the UFAWU-CAW, the city of Prince Rupert and local politicians were lobbying the provincial and federal governments to do was allow them to fish above their 24 per cent steelhead cap, in order to allow the commercial sockeye fishers the chance to take advantage of the larger than normal sockeye run.

"These are plans that are set in stone in the middle of winter based upon best available information," said Pond.

"We need to give DFO officers some tools to give them good, scientific knowledge to manage our resource. We need to back off, and let them manage.

"And quite frankly, it's not any of the steelhead lobby's business how we conduct our fishery," said Thorkelson. "The agreement with the Steelhead Society is that we fish to 24 per cent, the agreement with DFO is 24 per cent, and the agreement with the Ministry of Environment is that we fish to 24 per cent. We fish to 24 per cent."

On sockeye, the limit is 41 per cent, but they only caught 34 per cent, well below what commercial fishermen are allowed to fish.

"Most of the fishermen that I know are very careful to release steelhead and coho alive," said Thorkelson. "But until DFO increases their enforcement, there will always be bad apples in every fishery."

"There are fishing families that are interested in conserving and preserving the resource, but they also want to make a living," said Pond. "And they've been hard hit over the last number of years, so when an opportunity comes up for them to fish and not damage any of the other stocks, it's insane to me that we wouldn't encourage local fisheries managers to do what they know is best for everybody."

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

You'll never look at your iPod the same again, Not so fast there Canada!

Coming to an apple store near almost everyone.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

BC's baddest bug looks further down the forestry menu

The Pine Beetle, that nasty little critter that has laid waste to a large swath of pine forests in British Columbia, has apparently developed a taste for spruce and that has BC Forestry officials quite worried.

Researchers at the University of Northern British Columbia say that the beetle which until now was satisfied with a steady and unrelenting diet of pine trees has begun its march on the provinces' spruce stands.

Since it was first noticed back in 1993 the pine beetle has eaten its way through a huge tract of BC's pine forests from Prince George south to the US border, killing an estimated 530 million cubic metres of lodgepole pine and sending the BC Forest industry into a near crisis situation in some communities.

The disturbing revelation that the beetle is now targeting the spruce forests will be cause for concern, as pine and spruce are the one and two products in BC's forest industry.

Mark Hume of the Globe and Mail explained the development quite well with this piece from the Globe website today.

Pine beetle developing a taste for spruce
From Thursday's Globe and Mail
June 27, 2007 at 7:35 PM EDT

VANCOUVER — The small beetle that has already eaten its way through about nine million hectares of pine forest in British Columbia with devastating environmental and economic impact is developing new appetites.

Researchers at the University of Northern B.C. in Prince George say the pine beetle, which since 1993 has unleashed an unprecedented natural disaster destroying about 40 per cent of the province's lodgepole pine, is now killing spruce trees as well.

“There were rumours before that pine beetles were not only killing spruce but successfully reproducing in spruce, and we have now observed that in Prince George and we have been trying to document what's going on,” Staffan Lindgren, a professor of ecosystem science at UNBC, said Wednesday.

Dr. Lindgren said that while the pine beetle appears to be branching out, creating even more of a threat to B.C.'s beleaguered forests, it doesn't point to an ecological disaster on the scale of the current attack. If adaptation does occur, as it appears to be, it will happen slowly and the new beetles initially would likely attack only weak spruce trees.

“I don't foresee any risk to the spruce forest that would be immediate. But that's not to say that we couldn't see something in the long term that potentially could do [what the pine beetle has done],” Dr. Lindgren said.

He said the pine beetle appears to be involved in a “speciation event,” in which a new type of beetle is evolving.

“Over a long period of time, if we get a speciation event, we essentially get a mountain pine beetle biotype, or new species, that focuses on spruce,” he said.

Pine beetles have long been known to attack spruce trees, but the chemical composition of spruce – which contains the main volatile ingredient used in turpentine – has been able to kill off the invading insects.

Dr. Lindgren said pine beetles now appear to be developing a resistance to the harsh chemical environment in spruce and are able to breed and multiply to such numbers that they can kill the trees.

Researchers don't yet know whether pine beetles have killed any healthy spruce trees, or whether all the victims have been dead or dying. This summer investigators are “baiting” some healthy trees to attract beetles so they can monitor the results.

Since 1993, the pine beetle has killed an estimated 530 million cubic metres of merchantable lodgepole pine in B.C., turning vast swaths of forest red from north of Prince George to the U.S. border in the south.

While lodgepole pine is the predominant tree species in B.C., with enough to cover a forest area of about 14 million hectares, the spruce forest is second, accounting for about 13 million hectares.

Dr. Lindgren said UNBC researchers first became aware some pine beetles were shifting to spruce last summer when it was noticed that spruce trees were dying along with pines around the city.

Dr. Lindgren thinks the phenomenon is occurring because of the massive numbers of pine beetles in B.C.'s forests.

“It's possible that huge outbreaks like the one that we're experiencing now may provide the conditions by which speciation can occur in insects like this,” he said.

In any given pine beetle population there are bound to be a few insects that are better adapted to dealing with spruce trees. Because of the pine beetle epidemic there are now enough of those beetles that they are able to start breeding.

“There have been studies that suggest we've had these kind of host switching events in the past,” Dr. Lindgren said.

He gave as an example a subspecies of pine beetle that is believed to have evolved from spruce beetles. That insect feeds only on stumps or downed lodgepole pine.

Regional District selects a new leader

The selection of John Holland as the new Chief Administrative Officer for the Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District was examined by the Daily News in Tuesday’s edition.

The article also examined some of the outstanding issues of the Regional Government office, including the controversial termination of Janet Beil and increases to their budget to take care of the severance due and for the new workload of the new Administrator and a soon to be hired Operations Manager.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Page one

The Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District has hired the former Chief Administrative Officer from the City of Stewart to take the over at the local regional district office.

Barry Pages, chair of the regional district board, said that after a Canada-wide search, the board hired John Holland as the new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District.

“He’s got a lot of experience in municipal government and worked quite a few years in Stewart,” said Pages. “Previous to that, he had experience in Nunavut and the North West Territories working for the municipal government as well as working quite a bit with smaller First Nations communities.”

Holland has an MBA from York University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of British Columbia.

Holland and his family will relocate to Prince Rupert and he will commence his duties with the Regional District on July 16.

According to the job posting, the salary range for a Chief Administrative Officer will be in the $80,000 to $90,000 per year range and “commensurate with qualifications.”

The regional district is also expected to hire an operations manager. However, Pages said the district is yet to post this position because it was waiting for the new CAO to arrive.

“We wanted to see what qualifications would fit in best with Mr. Holland.”

The district previously posted for the position but was unable to find a qualified candidate.

Tana Lee Hesse has been filling in as the interim CAO and will remain with the regional district until July 13.

The district began seeking a new CAO after it terminated former administrator / planner Janet Beil in what was a controversial decision that split the board. Three directors out of 10 voted against Beil’s termination.

The board has budgeted for the termination which was ‘without cause’ and will result in Beil receiving severance for her 19 years with the regional district. The severance comes for a reserve fund set aside for such instances.

The district included the cost of the new staff in this year’s budget.

Projected audit and legal expenses are expected to increase $87,000 in 2007 (up from 13,067 to $100, 000,) plus an increase in salaries of $100,000 for the new position (from $196,145 in 2006 to $300,000) with staff benefits also doubling (from $26,000 to $54,000.)

The amount of money the district requisitioned from member municipalities – including Prince Rupert, Port Edward, Masset, Port Clements and the village of Queen Charlotte – is up from $180,000 to $266,978. These municipalities in turn ask taxpayers to foot this bill, $86,000.

Use of technology gains fishery monitoring company an award

Archipelago Marine Research Ltd., the Victoria based fishery monitoring company that works on the North Coast has received the accolades of its industry, for the way it uses technology in the fishery industry.

The Daily News featured details of their success in Tuesday’s paper.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Pages one and three

Archipelago Marine Research Ltd., a Victoria-based supplier of fishery monitoring and data reporting services, has won an award for its use of technology in the fishing industry.

The company, which has an office in Prince Rupert, won the “Innovative Excellence” category at the VIATeC (Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Centre) Technology Awards in late May.

The awards ceremony was held at the Victoria Conference Centre on May 31.

“For many years, Archipelago has been known as local experts and leading service providers in their field”, said Dan Gunn, executive director of the VIATeC.

“This company has taken almost 30 years of expertise and translated it into an innovative technology product that addresses an important environmental issue while streamlining processes and reducing costs for local commercial fisheries operators.

“Archipelago is an excellent example of why Victoria’s technology sector has surpassed tourism to become the leading non-government revenue provider.

Archipelago received the award for the electronic vessel monitoring system it developed to remotely collect fisheries data – known as the Electronic Vessel Information system or ELVIS.

In the Prince Rupert region, Archipelago has worked closely with the Area A Crab Association on the development and refinement of their electronic monitoring technology.

Shawn Stebbins, president of Archipelago Marine Research Ltd., said it was their work with the association that prompted the first version of the at-sea monitoring technology.

In the late 1990’s, Archipelago realized there were a growing need to collect data from smaller vessels at sea, vessels that may not necessarily be big enough for an at-sea observer, he said.

At that point, they were approached for the Area A Crab Association to develop a system to monitor trap limits as well as who was hauling what traps.

“That’s what motivated a lot of the first version of this technology that was produced.”

A computer video system on board is connected to sensors that know when a boat is fishing. Radio Frequency identification tags identify traps being hauled, allowing for the fishery to be monitored for conservation purposes and keeping track of lost or stolen gear.

It’s been in place every year since 200. It allows boats in the association to meet their reporting requirements to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans without having to bear the cost of an on0the grounds charter patrolman.

“It was a cost-effective solution for them,” said Stebbins.

With permanent offices employing staff in Victoria, Ucluelet, Port Hardy and Prince Rupert. Archipelago employs a province-wide corps of more than 50 at-sea observers. The company provides dockside and electronic monitoring and at-sea observer services to local ground fish trawl and hook and line, shrimp and geoduck fleets.

Steelhead put at risk

The heat is definitely on DFO over last year’s fishery as some of the fallout from a Monday press conference begins to attract more and more media attention.

On Monday, we featured a story found in the Vancouver Sun over the findings of The Watershed Watch Salmon Society and North Coast Steelhead Alliance, they both released documents that they suggest show that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans “caved in” to political pressure to force a late season one day opening, an opening that they say put steelhead stocks at risk.

The Tyee is the latest media source to take a look at the issue with this feature piece on their website today.

The Daily News provided its interpretation of the developments stemming from Monday’s press release, with a front page story in Tuesday’s paper.

Groups say one-day Skeena fishery hit stocks because of bycatch fatalities
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Pages one and three

Environmental groups and sports fishermen from upriver are alleging that Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) allowed over-fishing during last year’s commercial sockeye opening.

The groups claim that pressure from the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union and City of Prince Rupert encouraged the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to extend the commercial sockeye season to the point were it endangered steelhead runs.

“We think the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ failure to responsibly manage this fishery is endangering the long-term health of Skeena wild salmon and the economy of the entire Skeena watershed,” said Vicky Husband, who is with the Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

The groups are now calling for an independent investigation to determine what happened in 2006.

During a press conference in Vancouver on Monday, the Watershed Watch and North Coast Steelhead Alliance released documents that show Fisheries and Oceans Canada biologists were concerned about the impact of the sockeye fishery on steelhead and other bycatch.

“The real issue for me is that we said that we would fish selectively to minimize harvest impacts on non-target species and we caved under pressure,” wrote Steve Cox-Rogers, a senior biologist in a memo obtained by the group through the Freedom of Information Act.

The 2006, Skeena commercial sockeye fishery was extended by one-day after the city lead a charge to have bycatch limit for steelhead expanded so the gill-net fleet could get access to a unusually large sockeye run.

The city, MLA and MP got involved last year after it was determined that there was better-than-average steelhead escapement and the pre-season forecast of sockeye had swelled from 1.8 million to more than three million.

Based on the pre-season fisheries plan, the local fleet lost nearly half a million dollars in less than a week when Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the B. C. Ministry of Environment each claimed it was the other agency’s responsibility to decide whether the steelhead by-catch could be increased.

There were more than 130 gillnetters fishing the mouth of the Skeena last year, feeding the shore-based canneries.

However, the conservationist groups allege that the fleet had more than twice the number of days fishing than the 10-year average, up to 29 days.

They added that the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan originally called for commercial openings to end in early August.

They further showed documents that suggest the commercial fleet was not co-operative with DFO guidelines that allow for higher rates of recovery for by-catch like steelhead. This includes using revival boxes and shorter sets as well as weedlines, that sink nets lower and allow those fish that swim along the surface to pass above the nets safely.

“None of the boats we sampled had functioning blue boxes on board… in fact, all of the fishermen I spoke to expressed little desire to participate in reviving steelhead or Coho and were just throwing them back dead or alive as they hit the boat… The proportion of boats using weedlines seems to be very low to non existent this year…“ wrote Steve Cox-Rogers to David Einearson, DFO North Coast Area Chief.

Watershed Watch is an organization aimed at protecting wild salmon while the North Coast Steelhead Alliance, represents sports fishermen in Northwestern B. C.

Little interest in recent Fish Farm session

A Friday afternoon apparently wasn’t the best day to choose to try and get information out about the controversial fish farming question in Prince Rupert.
A scheduled meeting put on by the Ministry of Environment for last Friday was poorly attended by the community, with far less than the expected 40 to 50 participants taking the time to drop in.

The hot button issue has been percolating along the North Coast for a number of years now, but last week you wouldn’t know that it was controversial at all, as the five members of the Ministry from Nanaimo and Victoria nearly matched those few Rupertites that bothered to come out and learn more.

The Daily news reviewed the day’s events in Monday’s paper.

Only a handful of people turn out to offer their input
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Monday, June 25, 2007

The scheduled community meeting to discuss fish farming practices, put on by the Ministry of Environment (MOE), was a poorly attended affair this past Friday afternoon.

Instead of drawing a crowd of 30 or 40 Prince Rupert residents as expected, the five MOE members from Nanaimo and Victoria nearly matched the six people who showed up at the Crest hotel to take part in the meeting, and two of those were from the media.

A planned three hour session at 3 p. m. was meant to be a chance for the public and other stakeholders to voice their opinion on changes they would like to see in the Finfish Aquaculture Waste Control Regulation, under the Environment Act. The ministry had extended invitations to industry and First Nations people, NGO’s, local government officials and the public.

The regulation, that determines the rules for waste disposal created by fish farms, has reached its five-year clause and must undergo review before being amended. What the ministry hoped to achieve at this meeting was to “engage stakeholders early on in the amendment process and to solicit their input on the proposed changes to the FAWCR,” according to the e-mail sent out to Mayor Herb Pond and city council.

The FAWCR is the document that encompasses acceptable rules and limits for dealing with all kinds of garbage and waste that is produced by fish farms, including sewage disposal, fuel storage, mortality storage and disposal, antibiotic and disinfect disposal, refuse, feces, feed, metals, litter and metabolites.

This means that the document outlines how many toxins are allowed to be in the water surrounding the fish farms, as well as what is to be done with the rest of the waste that fish farm is able to extract from the water.

With some 130 fish farms already on the coast of British Columbia, and an average of 500,000 fish in each farm’s “growing crop,” the waste and toxins released into the surrounding environment and ecosystem may be of some concern to the province’s residents.

Similarly disconcerting is that any farms above hard-bottom ocean floor have no compliance standards with any of the current regulations, largely because the ministry does not have the means to collect floor samples. What was also revealed by the ministry at Friday’s meeting was that as of yet there is no research into, or limits upon, fish farms’ impacts outside of the few kilometer range in which testing is currently done.

While Prince Rupert doesn’t have an established fish farming industry, it may be something residents will have to deal with in the future.

Raid the North launched with opening ceremonies

The Raid the North extreme race competition officially got underway on Friday with a festive opening at the Lester Centre.

The competition which has had to see a last minute change made due to the floods of early June now sets its compass for the Charlottes and a grueling course destined to test the stamina of all participants. The Daily News featured the opening night ceremonies on the front page of Monday’s paper.

By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Monday, June 25, 2007
Page one

The Lester Centre was packed Friday night for the opening ceremonies of Canada’s most notorious adventure race, Raid the North extreme.

Many of the teams, their sponsors and supporters were in attendance anxiously waiting for the grand unveiling of this year’s course. Some teams and members were not able to make it, either still making their way to Prince Rupert or sidetracked by the hospitality of one of the city’s establishments.

There were many laughs to be had throughout the night, starting as Tourism Prince Rupert’s Bruce Wishart opened the ceremony.

”I’ve been trying to figure out for the past year and a half, why are you guys doing this? said Wishart. “I thought, They’re really crazy’ But I’ve figured out many reasons why you’re going out for six days with little sleep, and busting your butts, and trekking through uncharted terrain. It really sank in for me when Geoff explained to me, ‘For many people, this is their holiday.”

After Wishart thanked everyone gathered, Frontier Adventure Racing President and race director Geoff Langford took over as the night’s MC, first thanking everyone who helped make this year’s Raid on the North Extreme possible, even after learning their original plan was no longer an option.

“There were times I was sitting here, looking at the weather and thinking about the situation, wondering, ‘How are we going to pull this off?” said Langford. But I’ve been completely blown away by the support of the community and our partners here. In under two weeks, we were able to change everything around, logistics, trucks, cars, safety plans, rescue boats, everything to make this race happen.”

More laughs came as Langford began introducing the 20- plus teams and their local sponsors, especially when he came to local foursome Coastal Disturbance.

“And we’ve got the local team here, who we didn’t give a sponsor because the whole town is their sponsor really,” said Langford.

“Five bucks says they get lost first!” someone immediately yelled from the crowd, causing an eruption of laughter.

Before the course was finally revealed, Langford had one final thought for all the visiting teams and their supporters.

“The community has supported us in so many ways, they’ve just been all over the map to make this event a success for you guys. So I really encourage you to support local businesses, go out and drink and eat and buy stuff, and leave a great mark on the community. Because we really want them to be excited to have us back some day so we can use that other course we didn’t use this time!”

The came the moment everyone had been anticipating, and the course was finally revealed on the large screen, using Google earth technology to virtually ‘walk’ through the terrain,

Course designer Lawrence Foster took the mic, and began explaining the logistics of the intense six day course. The first four days of this year’s race begin with a fairly long paddle through the Queen Charlotte Islands, followed by a significant trek up to roughly 3,500 feet, crossing a ridge that will give racers a 360- degree view of the island, from where, on a clear day, they will be able to see Prince Rupert. After descending the mountain, racers will grab their bikes for a really long ride down old logging roads, taking them eventually through every community on the island. For more information on the race and the new course, the public is encouraged to attend the pub night at Breaker’s tonight, where photos and video of each team’s progress will be available.

Keep checking the Daily News this week for regular updates.

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

Ron spoke slower in the early days.

chop, chop, chop o matic!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Thick skins a priority

ESPN's Bill Simmon's sat down and jotted out a few notes on Friday, after stumbling across the NHL draft on that Versus channel, (somehow we think his boss will be talking with him about his viewing habits).

While entranced with the coverage those notes became a diary if you will, of his impressions of the television presentation as brought to the world by TSN. It's a rather quick and witty review of the first round of the draft (well right up until Angelo Esposito heads for Pittsburgh) but Canadians with thin skins may wish to have a good strong Moosehead before reading his review.

If Molson's is ever looking for a new character to pack away in a cargo hold or lock in that car trunk, Mr. Simmons might be available and requested for personal appearances.

And for the folks at TSN, best to hide the cafeteria knives for a few days, just in case. Remember, he frequently reminds us of our sense of humour... we're going to have to live up to his expectations.

Kudos to Canada and the NHL Draft

This first appeared on my HockeyNation blog, my depository for all things hockey.

Landslides, floods and firearms

If it’s not one thing, it’s another for Highway 16.

The Yellow head was closed west of Smithers this afternoon for a period of time today, while the RCMP dealt with an undisclosed incident.

Opinion 250 is reporting that the highway was closed due to an incident with a firearm.

It has since been reopened to traffic, but no further details on the incident have been released.

Incident Closes Highway 16 This Afternoon
250 News
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 06:46 PM

RCMP are on the scene of an incident on Highway 16 , west of Smithers.
The highway was closed for a period of time today during what is believed to have been an incident involving a firearm.

As of 6:45 tonight the police from at least two detachments, Smithers and Hazelton remain on the scene, although the highway was reopened late this afternoon.

Other details are not yet available.

For Pie and the win...

Q---Who claimed he came up with the idea for Trivial Pursuit, but failed to convince a Nova Scotia judge of his story.

A---David H. Wall

File it away for the next edition of Trivial Pursuit, Wall the Cape Breton man who spent thirteen years trying to prove his claim that he came up with the idea for the game has lost his lawsuit for a share of the millions of dollars earned since the game was created.

He claimed that he first mentioned the idea while a passenger in a car after being picked up hitch hiking in Cape Breton by Christopher Haney, Haney went on to develop the game with a number of friends in Montreal.

Lawyers for Haney cited a number of inconsistencies in Wall's story, a sentiment apparently shared by the court as it came to a decision to bring the trial to an end.

Review of Regional District operating practices complete

The Queen Charlotte Observer continues its good work on the Regional District file, posting on its website a story on a recent review of the accounting practices at that suddenly controversial governmental body.
Their latest story details some of the findings of that accounting review as well as a couple of cryptic comments from the investigating auditors about the still percolating issue of Janet Beils dismissal from the Regional District offices.

All of this attention certainly leads one to wonder just what is going on with that level of government and if perhaps more public answers are needed from those that are spending public funds. There seem to be far too many unanswered questions about the dealings from Regional District and maybe the taxpayers should be asking for a complete and public review of the way it conducts its business.

By far the Observer is one news gathering organization in the area that at least seems to be on the ball on this issue. And while the bulk of their work focuses on developments on the islands, they still raise issues that all on the North coast should be concerned about.
They have been providing some interesting articles on the developments at RD over the last six months or so and help to keep some form of light on a governmental level that seems to slip under the radar quite a bit.

The latest from their website is provided below.

Accounting review completed at regional district
The Queen Charlotte Observer
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

An accounting firm hired by the regional district has recommended that the board take several steps to improve financial controls, but say they found no evidence of any wrongdoing or fraud during a two-day investigation. The board hired BDO Dunwoody, a Vancouver firm of chartered accountants, to conduct a financial review of certain operations, and to recommend whether or not a forensic audit was needed.

Board members voted in March to have a forensic audit done, shortly after voting to terminate the employment of administrator Janet Beil. In a letter to the board last month, BDO Dunwoody partner Bill Cox wrote that the company conducted a two-day onsite review at the Prince Rupert office, with subsequent follow-up and discussions, focusing on the financial operations of the regional district between 2004 and 2007.

"We did not find any indication of fraudulent activity or reckless spending," Mr. Cox wrote. "

Our procedures were very high-level and were not designed to be able to provide an opinion as to the existence of fraud. However, given the existence of budgetary controls, board oversight, and other factors; it is reasonable to conclude that the likelihood of the existence of a material fraud having occurred in the 2004 to 2007 period is low."

The work done by BDO was a financial review, not a forensic audit, and Mr. Cox said that in their opinion a forensic audit is not needed. Instead, he wrote, regional district directors should improve governance, hire the right staff and start planning for the future. The nine-page BDO report lists several recommendations, including hiring a full-time, experienced administrator (which the board has just done) and an experienced financial officer (although it notes that the regional district's auditors do not believe a senior financial position is required).

As well, the board needs to make long-term financial plans, and the report pointed to the islands landfill as a particular source of concern. "We found no evidence of any long-term financial planning," Mr. Cox wrote. "A good example is the landfill operation which is expected to have significant closure and post-closure costs occurring within the next few years. Yet garbage pick-up rates have remained flat for years. There is a small reserve available, but we were unable to determine how the regional district intends to fund the closure and post-closure costs."

Additionally, billing for garbage pickup on the islands is creating too much administrative work. Some of the extra work is caused by residents starting and stopping their pick-up and expecting their bills to be adjusted. BDO recommended that the regional district consider whether stopping and starting garbage service should be allowed.

Another concern raised in the report is Ms Beil's settlement agreement. "We did not have the opportunity to view this first hand while on site, but several of our interviewees mentioned that the former administrator may not be fully abiding by a requirement of the settlement agreement that she not publicly discuss her removal from the position or the events leading up to it," the report says.

"We feel that it will be very difficult to quickly bring about the governance improvements that are necessary should this continue. We suggest that she be reminded of her responsibilities under the agreement. This is a complex legal area though and we strongly recommend that you take no action here until you first discuss with your solicitors."

created June 26, 2007 12:58 PM

Grampa, what’s a radio?

The iPod generation is on the rise and the traditional radio industry is going to suffer its effects in the years to come.

The Globe and Mail has some bad news for the radio industry on its website today, as they report the findings from a report courtesy of Statistics Canada, which used BBM radio ratings as benchmarks, has found that young people are listening to over the air radio less and less these days.

According to the Statscan report, Canadians spent less time listening to the radio last year than in previous years, tuning in for 18.6 hours during measured weeks of autumn, compared to 19.1 hours a week the year before. That has dropped almost two hours since 1999. Much of the change comes from 12- to 24-year-olds, with teenagers only deigning to bother with radio for an average of 7.6 hours a week.

But young people aren’t tuning out music, they’re just finding it from other sources, downloading it off the net or listening to internet radio stations that don’t appear in BBM measurements from their local towns.
It’s been a trend that has been building for the last few years, with radio becoming the staple of senior Canadians; women in particular are the most faithful of listeners logging in some 22 hours a week, while men dropped slightly to 19 hours a week in the survey.

The folks in the upper age brackets tend to enjoy the national broadcaster more than other age brackets, frequently listing it as one of their favourite on air destinations. But for the younger generations the CBC doesn’t resonate at all, coming in at dead last for their options for entertainment.

If the young do listen to radio, its most likely to a local college station, which are a thriving niche in the world of radio, but not recognized due to the cost of participation in the ratings structure. College campus stations provide not only an on air presence but frequently an on line presence as well, combining music and information that is relevant to that demographic. That could explain the widespread disappearance of the young from the radio ratings, they may still be there, but they’re just not being counted properly.

But even if they do listen in to the local college outlet, young people spend far more time with their iPods, finding their music from a variety of sources, many of which may not have even existed five years ago.

One such destination however may soon be no more, Internet based radio stations; a still developing industry have run into a copyright roadblock in the USA that threatens to shut down the business completely. As a shift occurred for many radio listeners many turned off the transistor radios and simply surfed the net for a wide variety of sounds that weren’t available in their local communities. The entire industry is a threat due to legislation in the US and the fight has just begun to try and turn things around before its too late for many of the still developing stations.

Regardless of how that fight turns out, it’s a given that the youth of today will find their music somewhere, somehow. But if you’re a local radio executive you had best expect them not to be coming back to the safe and frequently stale offerings of the small town station.
They’ve found their niche elsewhere, it’s doubtful that they’ll be satisfied with what is being offered up today by mainstream radio, they very well may be the lost numbers of today and even more disturbing for a radio executive, they could be a generation gone for tomorrow.

Keep your eyes on the road

With school about to end for another year, the local detachment of the RCMP and ICBC are reminding motorists that the younger ones may not necessarily have road safety on their minds.

It’s a situation that requires close attention to the sides of the road, aware that a child may dart out at any time. As well, they are reminding parent’s to go over the rules for safety near the road with their children to help make the summer as safe as possible.

By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Monday, June 25, 2007

Page one

It’s the last week of school, and that means it is a time of excitement for all school age children. But it’s also a time for drivers to be especially vigilant.

With thoughts of summer on the minds of many children, they may be pre-occupied and forget the regular rules of the road. So parents are encouraged to remind kids about how to behave whenever they are playing near a street, and walking next to or crossing a road.

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia is also issuing a friendly reminder to all drivers to use extra caution when driving through and around school zones.

“Pedestrian safety is a two-way street; motorists need to be alert and scan for pedestrians, while pedestrians need to use designated crossing points and obey traffic signs and signals,” said Nicolas Jimenez, director of road safety and loss prevention.

“Please take a little extra time to help out one another by watching out for each other.”

Since class times can vary during the last few days of the school year, kids may be walking home and playing outside earlier that usual. When school is in session, a 30 km/h school zone speed limit is effect between 8 a. m. and 5 p. m.

During the summer months, school zone limits may change but playground speed limits remain in effect throughout the year.

A few pedestrian safety tips that everyone in the family should be aware of are always making eye-contact with drivers, so drivers know you have seen them. Walking on the inside edge of the sidewalk is the place to be, so pedestrians have the least exposure to moving vehicles. If walking outside after dusk or in bad weather, wearing bright colours or reflective material clothing is best, so drives can identify pedestrians easily. And of course looking in both directions before stepping out into the road is most important for pedestrians to remember, to make sure there are no oncoming vehicles.

By following these and other road safety rules, everyone can stay as safe as possible during this final week of school, and hopefully throughout the summer.

BC Ferries gets a break

The Daily News catches up to the recent developments on the waterfront. Last Friday saw the Federal Government decide not to charge BC Ferries a 13 million dollar import tax from purchasing the MV Sonia, now known as the Northern Adventure overseas.

Firm told it will not have to pay tax on Queen of the North replacement
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Monday, June 25, 2007
Pages one and three

The federal government has decided that BC Ferries will not have to pay $13 million in import duties associated with the purchase of the MV Northern Adventure, the replacement of the sunken Queen of the North.

On Friday, Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance said the federal government is playing its part in re-establishing a vital transportation link to coastal communities in British Columbia by remitting $13 million of customs duties paid by British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.

The passenger-vehicle ferry was imported into Canada in December 2006 to restore full service along B. C.’s Inside Passage.

“By remitting these duties to BC Ferries, our government is recognizing the challenges faced by those living in northern B. C. following the ferry’s sinking and the increased costs they would have shouldered to replace it,” said Flaherty. “The ferry services are essential if communities all along the northern coast are going to continue to grow and prosper.”

The loss of the MV Queen of the North left BC Ferries with only one vessel capable of providing service to northern communities. As BC Ferries did not have any other suitable vessels available within its own fleet, a world wide search determined that the MV Northern Adventure (formerly MV Sonia) was the only available vessel then available for use on the Inside Passage.

BC Ferries paid a little more than $17 million in duties when the vessel reached Canadian waters.

Chuck Strahl, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and B. C’s Senior Regional Minister said the announcement shows the importance our government places on ensuring that ferry fare hikes are kept to a minimum for B. C.’s coastal communities.

In December, Kevin Falcon, the province’s Minister of Transportation, asked the federal government to remit the taxes due to the circumstances under which the vessel was purchased.

The $51 million MV Sonia (now the Northern Adventure), was purchased in Greece after an extension eight month search for a replacement vessel.

The ship then underwent $9 million in upgrades at a B. C. shipyard and B. C. Ferries spent a $1 million in Prince Rupert alone modifying its berths to accommodate the new vessel.

Import duties are meant to protect the shipbuilding industry and related jobs in Canada.

Earlier this year, the company said it felt its application for remission would be rejected.

The duty is mandated by Industry Canada, but a waiver involves Canada Border Services and the federal Finance Department.

During the next five years B. C. Ferries plans to add seven new ships to its fleet at a cost of $900 million.

Of those, three new Super C class vessels are being built at a cost of close to $600 million by Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) in northern Germany, to be in service early in 2008. The same German shipyard will build the $113 million replacement for the Queen of Prince Rupert.

B. C. Ferries must pay import duties on all of those ships and will apply for duty remissions.

We'll be right back after this short commercial message, June 25

Up in the sky, flaming bolts of former toys.

Your old toys come to life July 3rd.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Regional District hires an administrator

The Queen Charlotte Islands Observer is reporting that the Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District has hired a new administrator.

The new administrator is John Holland, who will replace the former administrator Janet Beil who was terminated back in February. The handling of her termination after 19 years of service, has become a bit of a scandal at the Regional District, with many local residents weighing in over the issue and the inner workings of the Regional District members.

It's a situation that still has left a bad taste in the mouth of many residents and could result in a hefty severance pay out by Regional District.

As for the new administrator Mr. Holland; according to the Observer his most recent position was that of the chief administrative officer for the District of Stewart. An interesting turn of events that may raise a few eyebrows, considering the increased interest that the usually unknown District Council has received of late.

His resume includes many years of experience in both Nunavut and the Northwest Territories as well. He takes up his duties in the Lion's den of Regional District on July 16th.

Regional District hires new administrator
Queen Charlotte Islands Observer
Monday, June 25, 2007

The Skeena-Queen Charlotte regional district is getting a new administrator. Masset mayor Barry Pages, the chair of the regional district, announced this week that the board has hired John Holland to fill the position.

Mr. Holland was the chief administrative officer for the District of Stewart and has many years of local government experience in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, Mr. Pages said. He has an MBA from York University and a Bachelor of Science degree from UBC. Mr. Holland and his family will be moving to Prince Rupert and he will start his new job at the regional district on July 16.

The position became empty in February when the regional district board voted to terminate its previous administrator Janet Beil without cause. Ms Beil had worked for the regional district for 19 years.

"Caved under pressure"

That's the charge of environmentalists, who suggest that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, chose to maintain a commercial gillnet fishery on the Skeena River late last summer despite warnings that the stocks were too weak to survive a concentrated fishing program.

Using documents acquired under the federal Access to Information Act, the Watershed Watch and North Coast Steelhead Alliance groups both expressed concerns over political pressure playing too large a role in stock management on the Skeena River.

In particular, they highlighted the efforts of Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond last year as evidence of overt political pressure on the federal fisheries department.

In a press release the two groups claimed that "They had management tools to protect endangered salmon and steelhead populations and they chose not to use them."

They are charges that were denied by local DFO officials who claimed, "that decisions in 2006 were made based on stock availability not political pressure."

The resulting media attention from today's press conference should make for a long summer of 2007 for DFO, who will now be aware that there are many eyes on their work, all seemingly pulling in different directions.

The two environmental groups are calling for an independent investigation into last years fishery, to make sure that the same thing doesn't occur again this year.

The Vancouver Sun had a full report on the story on its website on Monday.

DFO didn't protect fish stock, groups claim (12:02 pm)
By Scott Simpson and Larry Pynn
Vancouver Sun
Monday, June 25, 2007

Fisheries and Oceans Canada "caved under pressure" in 2006 to maintain a commercial gillnet fishery on the Skeena River despite warnings that many of the fish caught in the nets were from populations too weak to withstand a major fishing effort, environmental groups said at a press conference this morning.

Documents obtained by the groups under the federal Access to Information Act, and circulated to the media, suggest that fisheries department biologists on the North Coast had significant concerns about their government's decision to keep a commercial sockeye fishery open in summer 2006.

Before the season began, DFO and other groups including the B.C. Ministry of Environment, agreed that the commercial fishing season for Babine River sockeye would end in early August in order to avoid interception of coho, steelhead and other non-target species.

However, the environmental groups groups say the department buckled under to intense political lobbying to keep the fishery open, rather than hold its ground and protect weaker, non-targeted species.

According to the groups, Watershed Watch and North Coast Steelhead Alliance, DFO more than doubled the number of openings last year compared to the 10-year season average.

The gillnets, if strung end to end, would form an unbroken line from Hope to Vancouver, North Coast Steelhead Alliance spokesman Greg Knox said at a press conference.

"This resulted in excessive by-catch of steelhead and weak salmon stocks and contributed to dangerously low returns to many Skeena tributaries," the groups said in a prepared statement.
One e-mail obtained under the Access to Information Act, written by North Coast biologist Steve Cox-Rogers, attributes the protracted opening to successful lobbying by Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond.

"Our mayor flew to Vancouver to get DFO to provide more fishing time and so we ended up fishing a few more days," Cox-Rogers wrote to colleague Dana Atagi on October 11, 2006.
In another, Cox-Rogers says he does not believe the department can muster any technical information to demonstrate that it met its commitments to protect steelhead, which are the basis for a multimillion dollar sports fishery encompassing several tributary rivers to the Skeena.

"The real issue for me is that we said we would fish selectively to minimize harvest impacts on non-target species and we caved under pressure," Cox-Rogers wrote to Atagi.

The documents also reveal that gillnet fishermen chose to ignore DFO's recommendations that they gently handle, revive and release the steelhead, coho and other non-targeted species they intercepted during the sockeye fishery.

Instead, Cox-Rogers reported, none of the boats were using the "revival boxes" where non-target fish are kept in order to resuscitate them before release.

"In fact, all of the fishermen I spoke to expressed little desire to participate in reviving steelhead or coho and were just throwing them back dead or alive as they hit the boat."
He also noted that compliance with a recommendation that the gillnetters use weed lines, which keep the nets at depths where steelhead usually do not swim during migration, was "very low to non-existent."

"We think these documents show DFO mangers put politics ahead of science in making critical management decisions," Watershed Watch executive director Craig Orr said in a press release."They had management tools to protect endangered salmon and steelhead populations and they chose not to use them."David Einarson, area chief of resource management for federal fisheries, denied conservation groups' accusations, arguing from Prince Rupert that decisions in 2006 were made based on stock availability not political pressure.

The commercial gillnet fleet received more fishing time because the summer sockeye run, 90 per cent of which is headed to Babine Lake, had increased to three million from an anticipated 1.7 million and because the fish were proportionately younger than expected and boats were having more trouble catching them.

He said the commercial catch reached its target of 32 per cent of the sockeye run, as it did for the steelhead catch at 24 per cent -- a figure set by user groups years ago.

The fleet would have caught more of the weaker stocks in 2006, he said, but the catch did not pose a conservation concern. Steve Cox-Rogers, a stock assessment biologist, suggested in an e-mail obtained under FOI legislation that DFO "caved under pressure" -- which Einarson described as a personal opinion not based on fact.