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Archive for June, 2014

Meeting with Moira Stillwell MLA

by on Jun.15, 2014, under Projects, Writing and Editing

 On Tuesday, I will meet with Moira Stillwell MLA who represents Marpole in the Provincial Legislature. We met previously at a Marpole Residents Meeting that was focussed on the re-zoning of our neighbourhood. Moira Stillwell is trained as a doctor and has held many responsible positions in the medical industry. I was impressed by her intelligence and approachable manner, so I can only hope that what I will say will make a difference. I still have some work to do to prepare my submission, but here is a preliminary look.

Five Issues 

1. Oil and Gas

Our Premier, Christy Clark, is closely associated with the oil and gas industry and is heavily promoting the development of natural gas in the province using fracking. The LNG industry is the new gold rush — with the same level of sustainability. Have you seen ghost towns in BC?  Source: http://shalebubble.org/ Northern Gateway pipeline referendum is now being supported by many BC residents because it is still being promoted by our Prime Minister as a “done deal” despite opposition. plus, Expanded pipelines through Vancouver  (see more below)

2. The Agricultural Land Reserve

Agricultural Land protected under the land reserve is less than 5% of all land in the province of BC.  Now changes to the Act have made it easier to use land in that reserve for other purposes.

Established in 1973, the ALR has successfully halted the conversion of, on average, 6000 hectares of agricultural land per year into residential, commercial and industrial uses – a transformation that is largely irreversible.

A quote from West Coast Environmental Law on a page that contains a great deal of information praising our former Agricultural Land Reserve Act. The changes to the Act have made it easier to do oil and gas exploration on agricultural land in Zone 2, that is central and northern BC.

But farmland advocates are concerned such changes will lead to more development because it will be easier for oil and gas companies to use Zone Two land for activities like drilling for oil and gas. Source: CBC News 

The Site C Dam will flood some of the best farm land in the north of the province of BC. Who is paying to build the dam? BC taxpayers will pay an estimated $8 billion. Who will benefit? The oil and gas industry. BC Hydro reports tell us that BC can meet our on-going energy needs with conservation.

BC Hydro says it is because we need the energy, but we don’t: Hydro’s own reports say we can meet current demands through energy conservation. Site C is not about meeting the electricity demands of British Columbians; it is about subsidizing BC’s oil and gas and mining industries. It’s an $8 billion taxpayer subsidy to a dirty fossil fuel industry that needs cheap energy to expand. Source: Wilderness Committee

3. Water Sustainability Act

Tied in with the oil and gas industry needs is our new water act. We need an Act like this one in BC because water will become increasingly scarce as we loose our glaciers to global warming. Right now, we are lucky to have clean water in this province, but many of us are wondering where the water will come from for fracking and who will pay to clean it after it is contaminated with a cocktail of unknown chemicals?

In April, the government granted the energy industry regulator — the OGC — authority to issue long-term water licences to natural-gas companies, making the fossil fuel industry the only entity in B.C. with its own dedicated water regulator, a regulator established by the province to speed approvals of industry development applications. Source: David Hughes, Post Carbon Institute

Oil and gas exploration use huge amounts of water that is contaminated and half of the fracking chemical soup is left in the ground to contaminate water in future. Other industries also use huge amounts of water, but contribute very little to support the province or to clean the water after they are finished using it.

4. Development in Vancouver and Affordable Housing

Belacarra cottages — eviction of long term residents Provincial Social Housing in Vancouver

5. The Arts as an Industry for Full Employment

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OIL and GAS IN British Columbia

Our Province is embroiled in a teachers strike that is affecting many student’s education and the livelihood of our teachers. Although the government insists there is no more money in the budget to pay teachers, there is money to help the LNG industry bring northern students to an expensive industry conference.

The provincial government and companies working on developing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry spent approximately $60,000 taking nearly 60 Coast Mountains School District secondary school students, teachers and chaperones to a Vancouver LNG conference last week.

Funding was given to the school districts at $800 per student to attend an industry conference about natural gas from an industry point of view. The industry sponsored admission to the conference, priced at $1,680 for a full pass.

“The provincial government offered funding to all school districts from the north to attend this conference, and that was the impetus for industry to sign on and fund the rest,” said Coast Mountains school board chair Art Erasmus . . .”

They were among 110 students, teachers and chaperones from the northwest at the May 21-23 provincial government-sponsored conference attended by 1,400 delegates. taken from http://www.terracestandard.com/news/260549231.html

Other individuals and groups also are suspicious about this “educational” opportunity . . .

But one local environmental group raised concerns that the students would not receive a balanced view of the LNG industry and its potential impacts. “Students are young minds and easily moulded and they’re forming opinions, and when industry offers an all expenses paid trip to an industry conference when 90 per cent of the speakers are pushing industry, I don’t think they’re getting a very balanced view,” said North West Watch representative Anne Hill. “I think it’s much more than a field trip.”

I agree that this is more than a field trip! As evidence mounts that fracking is an irresponsible practice, Christy Clark is making sure that the industry has an opportunity to make a huge impression on these students. Somehow, I am sure that no research on birth defects caused by fracking, methane leaks, groundwater contamination and other problems were presented. In fact, here is a review of the conference as an opportunity to sell investors on the projects, surely not a time to mention that fracking is BANNED IN FRANCE. Here is a list of other areas that have banned fracking as a potentially dangerous practice.

Clark is focussed on the LNG export business as being an economic saviour, but she is ignoring all the evidence that points to the exact opposite conclusion.

The massive push to frack our pristine wilderness and productive farmlands is creating anger and resentment in BC.

People are seeing the actual jobs they have in farming, tourism and other industries threatened by the mythical jobs that may or may not be created by natural gas. First Nations tribes see this development as further destruction of their ancestral rights. We all worry about contaminating our drinking water and pollution causing climate change. Although natural gas has always been considered a “clean” fossil fuel, studies show our emissions would be 2/3  that of the Alberta tar sands development. What is the royalty for natural gas that goes to the BC government? Only 7% on the PROFIT.

So, in 2012, Premier Clark amended BC’s Clean Energy Act by order-in-council (no debate), to exempt LNG-conversion emissions from being reportable. Source: http://www.nomorepipelines.ca/Start.html

With leaks from fracked sites that contaminate ground water and cause health problems, how can we allow industry to go ahead with this destruction of our drinking water?

In a report to the Council of Canadians, Dr. Theo Colburn found that 94% of the fracking chemicals in her database are associated with skin, eye and respiratory harm, 93% with harm to the gastrointestinal system, and 83% with brain and nervous system effects (p.14). Only an average of 50% of frack water is recovered. The other water remains underground.  The concern is when people come in direct contact with these fluids or when these chemicals get into freshwater supplies.  The new fractures can connect with other geological conduits. http://www.bcwi.ca/hydraulic-fracturing-of-natural-gas/

Citizens of BC are so upset with decisions that favour the oil and gas industry that we are requesting a referendum to block Enbridge’s Northern Gateway. Source: CBC News

People are protesting the expansion of pipelines through Burnaby and Vancouver and the increase of tanker traffic.

DESTRUCTION OF PROVINCIAL PARKS

Recently, a law was passed in BC to allow oil and gas exploration and pipelines in our Provincial Parks! Yes, unbelievable, but true. The Park Amendment Act will open the last vestiges of wild areas to the destruction of our last wild spaces. Tourism as an industry? Not in BC. No thought is given to the impact of this industrial expansion into our last remaining protected areas.

Conclusions

It is time for BC to move away from the boom and bust resource based economy. Given the current climate change scenario on our planet, it would be best if the government of BC recognizes that the train has left the station. There will be no amazing revenue stream from exporting natural gas. China has signed an agreement with Russia to obtain natural gas, plus they have some of the world’s largest reserves. Who are the clients? By the time we have the infrastructure in place to export fracked gas, the flow from the wells may have already declined as geologists have confirmed, initial wells provide much more gas than subsequent fracking. Please see Snake Oil: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future by Richard Heinburg.

 

The actual cost of oil and gas production is not profitable unless the taxpayers of BC invest in this industry and support it with tax dollars. BC plans to invest in building a huge mega project dam to subsidize the oil and gas industry. Damage to roads and development of transportation systems to bring in equipment is a major expense. Further subsidies in the form of cheap access to water, pollution clean up and low royalties on our resources. In addition, the cost of water contamination, leakage and spills that may never be cleaned up, will be costs that BC residents will have to live with. With the pollution, loss of farmland and the cost to human health it is not worth supporting the oil and gas industry. We should use the billions to support the farmers of BC and changing to sustainable energy instead of building a dam. With climate change an undisputed reality and the retreat of our glaciers, we will need every drop of drinking water that we can get.

Where do you think our water comes from? With groundwater being contaminated, we will be dependent on rainfall — With less snowpack, summers will be very dry. Our rivers flow in summer from snow melt, with no snow — where will we get water to drink and  water our crops?

How can we remove any land from the Agricultural Land Reserve when we have so little arable land and we are increasing the population of Vancouver so exponentially? We cannot depend on drought stricken California to feed us. We have to be self-sufficient, because it will no longer be economic to use fossil fuels to bring us food. We have a food system that is designed to rely on inexpensive fossil fuel, but this cannot continue.

Development in Vancouver is providing housing for many more people. A lot of people are expected to move to Vancouver over the next few years. Where will we get the water and food for this population increase? What kind of jobs will these people have? Job estimates from pipeline development are highly suspect. Economies will contract due to climate change and energy costs. How can we maintain a civil society and have meaningful lives without constant growth? In my opinion, the current grass roots movement to local food production, energy conservation and appreciation of nature should be supported. To create jobs, invest in the Arts. The Arts is an unlimited source of human employment that is very difficult to automate, outsource or replace.

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Inspiring Film maker – Little Mountain

by on Jun.15, 2014, under Films

Social Housing in Vancouver, Canada

There is an on-going problem in Vancouver because wealthy people are using homes as investments. In a time of stock market volatility, the super rich have decided that owning a home in Vancouver, BC, Canada is a safe and profitable investment. This has led to housing prices here that are completely unaffordable for people who actually live and work here. As City Council and the developers work hand in hand to demolish the older, affordable housing stock using the premise that the land is “under utilized”, long term residents are forced out and only wealthy people can afford to live here.

I have issues with the idea that because land is considered valuable it must be completely covered with the highest density possible or it is “under utilized”. I am interested in documentary film as a vehicle for getting ideas to the public, so I learned about The Little Mountain Project, a film project by David Vaisbord.

This film is about the destruction of a social housing project in the Mount Pleasant district of Vancouver, also known as Little Mountain because of the small extinct volcano in the area that houses Queen Elizabeth Park.  David is a film maker who lives close to a social housing project where long term residents were evicted to make way for condo development.

Does Vancouver really need more condos? The whole city is a massive condo development site with towers going up everywhere and the older housing stock being demolished to squeeze two massive houses on to a lot where one used to stand. I will write another blog post on this, but for now, please pay attention to David. Please check out his film project and donate if you can.

If you’ve landed here and want to know where you can go to fund The Little Mountain Film, here’s how.

Go to a new dedicated website at:

http://www.littlemountainfilm.com/

or directly to the INDIEGOGO crowdfunding site at:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/little-mountain-film/x/3510216

The funding campaign runs from May 9 to Jun 23rd.

Please come on board and contribute to this project.

Cheers,

David Vaisbord & and my Indiegogo Fundraising Team

It was so difficult to find this film project on the internet. I had to put in the following search string to get any results “film maker evictions social housing mount pleasant Vancouver bc”. On Indiegogo I tried searching “mount pleasant” and other related words, without results. It was only when I entered “little mountain” that I reached David’s film. So I am providing some more keywords here and I hope that the search engines start to consider these types of projects more important.

 

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