Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Podunk Below the Masthead (Tuesday, June 29,2010)

Enbridge fails to sway Haida Gwaii to the cause of tanker traffic, Telus hangs up the phone on long distance plans in the city and the Ministry of Transportation puts an eye on Haida Gwaii traffic, some of the items of interest from Tuesday.

Daily News, front page, headline story
HAIDA GWAII UNITED AGAINST - CITY AND DISTRICT ON THE FENCE-- Haida Gwaii officials have come out against the Enbridge Corporation's Northern Gateway plans, turning attention towards the City of Prince Rupert and Regional District to make their inclinations known to the public.

Telus turns off the long distance switch on July 20th, as the communications company brings an end to its long distance plans for the region on that date, for the most part turning the long distance competition over to City owned CityWest.

The Daily News continues on with its series of items on the soon to be implemented HST regimen in British Columbia

The Sports section features a review of recent KISL action from around the city's diamonds

(Daily News archive for Tuesday, June 29, 2010)

Haida Gwaii united against - City and District on the fence 
Telus ceasing long distance in Rupert
Baptist church ministers build relationships
Photography - a unique experience
HST - It's all about the money

The Northern View
Ministry of Transportation adds Haida Gwaii cameras to website -- Folks on Haida Gwaii may be getting the feeling that someone is watching as the Ministry of Highways adds the Islands to its Highway camera inventory (see article here)

The Northern View 
CFO discusses City employee pay increases -- The City's Financial Officer Dan Rodin, outlines some of the background on recent staff salary disclosures (see article here)

The Northern View
Liberal leader backs tanker ban, reaction comes swiftly -- Federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff puts his party on the side of an oil tanker moratorium on the North Coast and Haida Gwaii (see article here)

The Northern View
UNBC, Northern Health sign MOU-- Northern Health and UNBC continue to develop links and programs to enhance health care in Northern British Columbia (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
School is officially out in Prince Rupert-- Another school year comes to an end for SD 52 (see article here) (Sahar Nassimdoost provided this report for TV 7)

CBC News Northern BC Daybreak North
Daybreak North is only posting selected items on their website now.

The most recently posted items can be found on the archive page for Daybreak North click here 

Daily News, front page, headline story
Haida Gwaii united against - City and District on the fence 
By George T. Baker 
Staff Writer 
Prince Rupert Daily News
Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and any proposed oil tanker traffic along the North Coast has officially received the thumbs down from municipalities on Haida Gwaii.

After protocol meetings with the Council of the Haida Nation and community members from Sandspit in the south of the archipelago to Masset in the north, municipal leaders have said “no” to tanker traffic.

It has put the ball in the court of the east side of Hecate Strait, where Prince Rupert council and the District of Port Edward council have yet to take a position on the proposed project and tanker traffic in general.

Mayor Carol Kulesha of the Village of Queen Charlotte said the discussion during the protocol meetings showed a united opposition to the Northern Gateway project and oil tankers.

“I think people are very concerned and they can see what is happening with the Gulf of Mexico. That has increased the anxiety about what the Islands have to lose in all of this,” said Kulesha.

Kulesha added that while she didn’t expect a resolution to go forward from the island communities asking the SQCRD board to support their official position, she did say they would be putting forward motions at September’s Union of British Columbian Municipalities annual meeting.

She hoped the Board would support those motions.

Enbridge has been trying to convince residents of the north that their pipeline will be safe and that super-sized oil tanker traffic will be adequate for the North Coast waters. In fact, they have argued that by allowing them to operate, they will increase safety on the coast.

However, they appear to be losing the public relations fight with environmentalists and Coastal First Nations, who oppose the project on several grounds, not the least of which they say is the liability they would take on if they approved of the project.

North Gateway Alliance Chair Colin Kinsley said one of the reasons that proponents for the project have fallen behind in the PR game is because the company has been focused on spending money and time on passing through the regulatory process.

 “Our hands were kind of tied from talking about all the things, so we talked in general about jobs and couldn’t even talk about what the tax benefits would be. We have had three weeks to do a few things and we are also waiting for the Joint Review Panel [to take] their 60 days to look at our submission,” said Kinsley.

The former Prince George Mayor said in the meantime the Gulf of Mexico spill has increased awareness about the oil industry.

 “There are people who are in opposition jumping on board about that sort of thing. What our job will be going forward is to make sure the public is informed about the steps that Enrbridge is prepared to take to make this the safest infrastructure project of its type ever,” said Kinsley.

Another reason proponents haven’t come out swinging against opponents is that before the submission had been handed in, anything Enbridge said regarding the project would have to be in the environmental assessment documents.

Kinsley added that he expected a more rigorous PR battle from Northern Gateway supporter now that the application has been filed. But the Haida Gwaii municipality position has also placed the region’s politics in an awkward position. 

The effect of political opposition from the islands is that half the Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District has taken a position on the tankers, while half have not.

Enbridge has sent delegates to meet both with City Council and the Regional District board. During the council meeting last week, Enbridge representatives Michelle Perret and Kevin Brown faced some difficult questions regarding the project, especially from councillor Joy Thorkelson, who has already voiced her personal opposition to the project.

When Enbridge visited the Regional District, they faced few questions about the project, but Port Clements Mayor Corey Delves said, during that meeting, that one of the ironies about the opposition to the project was that Haida Gwaii was barging lots of fuel across the Strait each week.

But Delves’ community also now officially opposes the project. Yet, no formal position from either of the mainland councils or the SQCRD has been announced.

“There hasn’t been any discussion since and there was no real discussion then,” said Area ‘A’ director Des Nobels about the Enbridge meeting with SQCRD board members.

“I would suggest the reason the islands have moved so quickly [in comparison to the mainland communities] is that there is absolutely no benefit to them and all the risk.”

Nobels also represents conservation group T. Buck Suzuki, and said that, as a rep for that group, the news that the municipalities had taken such a position was welcomed. He’d like to see the North Coast mainland communities follow suit.

“I think it is time for communities to begin to have a very sound and rational discussion around the issue. I think there are a lot of people who are opposed to the issue. And as such, we can no longer sit on the fence.”

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