Thursday, December 6, 2007

Rising dollar and slumping resource sector

Times are going to be getting tougher for the rural communities of BC. With the suspension of the Galore Creek project last week and announcements of more layoffs in forestry Canfor and Tolko, things are not looking good.

The coastal forest industry has been in bad way for some years now - much of it self inflicted in my opinion - the interior has been doing fine. But with the dollar rising and falling lumber prices, even the state of the art mills in the interior are going to have trouble keeping in the black.

A few years ago lumber prices were in the high 300 US dollar range, now they are at $250 to $260 US. At the same time our dollar has gone from $0.65 to about parity. In Canadian dollar terms this means the price has gone from close to $600 to less than half. I know that a lot of the mills can operate at a profit at around $300 CDN, but we are under that.

The dollar has also made a lot of the new mine projects in development become unrealistic. Whereas three years ago one could have seen 20 or so mines open over the decade to come, now I suspect we will see only a handful. Galore Creek was one of the largest development projects underway anywhere in the world. NovaGold and TeckCominco sunk a lot of money into that whole. The development was core to the highway #37 electrification. I wonder now if that will be going ahead.

With the loss of more forestry jobs and no new mining jobs, the demographic trend is going to continue to be towards the cities and away from the small towns. The trend has been slowed in some areas over the last few years because the forest industry was doing well in the interior and mineral exploration was booming, but with those gone I see towns declining further.

Some things I wonder about:

If the mills slow down, what is going to happen to all the beetle wood?
What happens to land use decision making if the population falls further?
What value is the land to First Nations if there is a general rural economic collapse?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Drawing Knowledge Workers to Rural BC

The technology exists now so that it is possible for someone to live almost anywhere and be a knowledge worker. Given this state of affairs, what is it that rural communities in BC can do to attract these people?

The starting point has to be showing people what the small town advantages are:
  • Lower housing costs
  • Safer feeling community
  • Better outdoor rec
  • Closer connection to the natural world
  • Feeling of community
  • Less pollution

All in all, there is a lot these communities have going for them. What they do not have are the amenities of the big city.
  • Movie theatres
  • High end foods
  • Good restaurants
  • Live music
  • Cultural institutions
  • Universities
  • Sports facilities
  • Better shopping

There are many things you can not get in a rural community, but as I look at the list above I can see that the amount of time I use any of them is actually very limited. I would love to spend more time in high end restaurants, but that costs a lot of money and being in Victoria the selection is not that good to start with. I have seen very little live music.

So the allure of the urban amenities are things that most people with children simply do not make a lot of use of.

As to the shopping, from a rural community in BC it is not that long a trip to get to an urban centre to shop there.

But how do you sell these advantages?

I have thought that various small towns should do innovative marketing campaigns to make people aware of them. One idea I had was to have a pickup load of fresh new apples driven down from the Fraser Canyon and then given away at the SeaBus terminal to the various commuters coming into Vancouver. You had out the apples and some info on inexpensive real estate and the wonders of a place like Lytton or Lillooet. You have the mayors there to hand out the apples. Get people to notice the town, get them to build up an image of Arcadia in their minds. Sell the dreams people have of getting out of the urban rat race. You can also sell people on the dream of financial freedom.

The biggest single debt anyone will have is their house. Buying one in Victoria will set you back around $500 000. Buying a house in a small town will run you about 1/3 that price for more house. You can pay out the house in rural BC in 10 years and be living debt free. You can afford a lot more to do in your life once you no longer have to pay for housing.

Monday, August 20, 2007

From the Citizen in PG

Electoral reform unites rural B.C.

(Opinion) Friday, 17 August 2007, 23:01 PST
by city editor Randall Heidt
You know something is a bad idea when every politician in northern B.C. -- regardless whether they are NDP, Liberal, municipal or regional -- unanimously speaks out against it.

But that's what happened when The Citizen talked with mayors, MLAs and regional district directors about the proposed changes in a B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission report that says the Prince George area and others should lose a seat in the legislative assembly.

"I'm absolutely and totally appalled," Prince George Mayor Colin Kinsley said in a Citizen story Friday.

That was pretty much the message from everyone else as well.

The report suggests the Northern Interior, Central Interior and the Kootenays should each lose one MLA, and the lost rural seats are to be redistributed among urban centres where population growth has occurred. There would also be the addition of two urban seats in Lower Mainland metropolitan centres.

We understand if population growth in the Lower Mainland necessitates the addition of seats, but it shouldn't be done at the expense of rural B.C.

The move would see the riding of Prince George-Omineca disappear. Most of its territory would be included in a new Bulkley-Nechako electoral district. A seat would also be lost in the Cariboo area.

In other words, if you think the North gets less attention than the ugly girl behind Paris Hilton on the red carpet, it's only going to get worse.

But you can do something about it.

The proposed changes will be discussed at a public hearing Sept. 5 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Coast Inn of the North. Go and make your voice heard. Or, log on to the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission website at http://www.bc-ebc.ca/ and download a participation form. You may also phone the commission's office at (604) 660-1203.

Just do something.

The squeaky wheel is going to get the grease on this one, so let's make sure the North makes such an annoying amount of noise that it cannot be ignored.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

From the Prince George Citizen

City should lose one of its MLAs, report suggests
Comment on this article (0) Print E-mail
(News) Thursday, 16 August 2007, 00:00 PST
by Citizen staff

Prince George will be represented by only two ridings, if suggestions in a report released Wednesday the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission are implemented.

"The Central North currently has five electoral districts," the commission says in a summary from the report. "Three originate in Prince George, splitting the city among them and stretching far to the north, northwest and southwest.

"The commission has concluded that Prince George should be divided between only two electoral districts."

The proposed changes will be discussed at a public hearing Sept. 5 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the Coast Inn of the North.

Prince George currently is split among the Prince George North, Prince George-Omineca and Prince George-Mount Robson ridings. Each includes a portion of the city, but also a large area of the surrounding region.

In its report, the commission calls for a Prince George urban riding that includes most of the city and a Fraser-Fort George riding that includes a portion of the city's outskirts.

The riding of Prince George-Omineca would disappear, and most of its territory would be included in a new Bulkley-Nechako electoral district, which would follow the boundaries of the Bulkley-Nechako regional district.

"As B.C.'s largest city north of Kamloops, Prince George has many urban economic, social and cultural issues that would benefit from an MLA being able to focus on these community interests," the commission said. "The commission is proposing a new urban electoral district be created completely within the City of Prince George.

"The proposed electoral district of Prince George comprises the downtown area of the City of Prince George. The Fraser and Nechako rivers form its eastern and northern boundaries, respectively. UNBC and Highway 16 form part of the western boundary."

The commission has also proposed that the new Fraser-Fort George electoral district include the remainder of Prince George. "Its outer boundaries will correspond exactly to the Fraser-Fort George Regional district," the commission said.

People wanting to participate in the hearing Sept. 5 may download a PDF version of application and mail it to the commission's office at Suite 601, 700 West Georgia St., Vancouver, BC V7Y 1B6 or faxing it to (604) 660-1207 (toll free 1-877-660-1207). You may also phone the commission's office at (604) 660-1203.

If you're unable to register in advance, attend anyway. The commission says it will make every effort to accommodate everyone who wants to speak, after the pre-registered scheduled participants have been heard.

Elsewhere in its report, the independent panel has recommended adding two new seats in the B.C. legislature, bringing the total number of MLA's to 81 from 79.

The preliminary report of the three-member B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission calls for four new ridings in the Vancouver region and one new one in the Okanagan.

At the same time, the Cariboo-Thompson, Columbia-Kootenay regions, like the North, would each lose a riding.

The commission was also asked to draw proposed electoral boundaries under the single transferable vote system in case the system is approved in a referendum set for 2009.

Under STV, in which voters can select more than one MLA in each riding, there would be 20 ridings, containing from two to six MLA's in each electoral district.

A round of 27 public meetings to discuss the preliminary report is set to begin with the one in Prince George Sept. 5 and the panel will submit a final report to the legislature in mid-February.)

From the Terrace Standard

Liberals would drop one seat

THE LIBERAL party would lose one seat if the redistribution of northwest ridings takes place as proposed by the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission.

Currently the North Coast and Skeena ridings are held by the NDP and the Bulkley Valley-Stikine and Prince George-Omineca ridings are held by the Liberals.

The proposal would keep the North Coast riding name but take parts of it and add it to the new Skeena-Stikine riding.

Most of the voters to be added are in the Nass Valley and Stewart which cast 601 ballots for current North Coast NDP MLA Gary Coons and just 131 for Liberal Bill Belsey in the 2005 provincial election.

If that spread stayed the same, it would help current Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin who topped Liberal Roger Harris by 359 votes in the 2005 election.

Also helping Austin would be the Hazeltons which could also be part of the new Skeena-Stikine riding.

That area posted 1043 votes for NDPer Doug Donaldson in 2005 compared to 243 for Liberal winner Dennis MacKay.

Heading into Smithers and then on to Vanderhoof for a riding to be called Bulkley-Nechako, the Liberals have a lot of support and would continue to beat the NDP provided current voting patterns stayed the same.

In any event, the loss of a northern seat wouldn't hurt the Liberals oveall if its current pattern of winning in more urban areas continues

Is it time to break up BC?

Since the Electoral Boundaries Commission Report came out I have been thinking about the situation in BC and how rural BC is losing more and more influence.

The nothern 2/3s of the province produce much of the wealth of BC but will now have less MLAs than Surrey. The ability to make decisions about the land in the North will be in the hands of people from the urban south. The time is coming for a major change. Time for the north to separate.

If one were to create a Northern BC province from Clinton north, then the population would be in control again over their lands and destiny.

  • This new Northern BC would have a population of about 260 000.
  • It would be the single biggest producer of lumber in Canada.
  • It would be a major oil and gas producer
  • It would be able to focus on the development of Prince Rupert as a real alternative to Vancouver
  • It will be a major coal producer
  • Also a major source of metals, both precious and base
  • Also a source of a lot of hydro power.
  • It could develop the transportation links to Yukon and Alaska

I think the case is there for the creation of this new province.

This new province would also get 4 senators and 4 MPs, up from 0 Senators and 3 MPs

At the moment it would be the 10th largest province with respect to population, but about 15 years it will have passed Newfoundland and Labradour in population and could catch New Brunswick in just over a generation.



It would

From the Williams Lake Tribune

N. Cariboo could lose an MLA

By Jeremy Deutsch
Tribune Staff Writer

Boundaries commission proposes new, larger riding

A commission set up to re-examine B.C.’s electoral districts has recommended one district for most of the Cariboo Chilcotin, including Williams Lake and Quesnel in one riding.

Gone would be the Cariboo North and South ridings, in favour of a single Cariboo-Chilcotin riding that would extend north just short of Hixon, south to Gang Ranch, and west just short of Hagensborg.

A second riding, Cariboo-Fraser, would run just south of Williams Lake and include Dog Creek and Alkali Lake and stretch as far south as Merritt and Lytton.

The proposed changes would now see four ridings in the Cariboo-Thompson regions instead of five.

City in one riding

The B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission, which released its report Wednesday, has made a number of other recommendations which include adding two new seats in the B.C. legislature for a total of 81, and another vote on single transferable vote.

The current commission, after hearing objections from the public who did not like Williams Lake split in two, decided to put the city into one riding.

“During our public consultations, some people said splitting Williams Lake was not a welcome decision, while residents of communities west of Kamloops expressed frustration at having to travel to Williams Lake to meet with their MLA,” Commission chair Justice Bruce Cohen, says.

The commission used a complicated formula to re-draw the boundaries, with a riding population quotient of 50,784, but allowed for a deviation of up to 25 per cent above or below.

The estimated population in a newly formed Cariboo-Chilcotin riding would be 45,104, a deviation of -11.2 per cent.

The Cariboo-Fraser electoral district would have a population of 42,170, a deviation of -17 per cent.

North Cariboo MLA Bob Simpson cautions that it’s just a report with recommendations.

While he thinks the reunification of Williams Lake into one riding makes sense, the size of the new riding and loss of representation is a concern

“There is a loss [to Williams Lake] because they don’t have two potential voices,” Simpson says.

He’s also concerned about the balance of rural representation and the shift towards more urban representation.

“In a province where the wealth is still generated in those rural areas which make up a large majority of the province’s geography, that shift towards urban representation is troublesome,” he says.

Cariboo-South MLA Charlie Wyse did not have a chance to really look over the recommendations before press time, but his initial reaction was that it was a double-whammy, by adding more seats in the Lower Mainland and taking away from rural areas.

The commission is holding public hearings in Williams Lake on Oct. 22, so members of the public can voice their opinion on the electoral-boundary proposals.

The final report will be complete by Feb. 15, 2008. From there it is up the legislature in the spring session to decide whether it wants to adopt the recommendations.

The commission also proposed boundaries for 20 B.C. single transferable vote electoral districts with between two and six members for total of 81 MLAs.

Electoral Boundaries Commision

Their report is out. They suggested that going to 85 MLAs would not make much difference to the rural representation, but in looking at it, I think it does.

Once one moves to 85 instead of 81 MLAs, the district population quota falls to 48394, at -25% this is 36295. The three Kootenay ridings have a population of 144827, divided four ways this is 36100, just under the population needed to have four ridings. If one moves the boundary country back into the Kootenaies, well, only Area 'C' of the Boundary Kootenay regional district. This would move over 1450 people and allow there to be four Kootenay ridings.

The Cariboo-Thompson has a total population fo 189128, divided five ways this is 37826, so within the -25% limit. How does one achieve this? I would centre three ridings around Kamloops taking Merritt, Logan Lake and TNRD Area 'M' and 'N' into the Kamloops riding. The other two ridings you would have to take more lands from Williams Lake and move them south, about 7500 people, but this is not unrealistic.

In the North it is hard to figure out how to add another riding without dropping the population much too low in all of the ridings. I like the fact that they only chose to allow two special circumstances ridings.

The total population is 256579 people, over 8 ridings this would be 32110 people, well below the -25%. If one factors out the two special circumstance ridings, this leaves 209863 for an average of 34977 over 6 ridings, still too small.

The only way to achieve an extra one in the north is to create one more special circumstance riding of about 25 000 people. I would argue that Skeena Stikine should be the other special circumstances. By moving the Hazeltons to Bulkley Nechako this could be achieved. You then move some of the area around Vanderhoof to the Prince George area. Prince George and region would then have three ridings.

I realize that suggesting this for the north is stretch.

You would have to make some changes elsewhere in BC once you move to 85 ridings. Richmond Steveston would be marginally too high in population, but a small change there would drop the into the correct range.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Disenfranchisement of Rural Communities

Management of natural resources has disproportionately fallen into the hands of experts (the civil servants) that have no direct connection the land or the natural resources. They do not need to consider the implications to the communities in which the decisions play out.

When one compares this to someone that operates a small one town mill operation, they have a social license with the community “I can not screw up because everyone can find me and lynch me” There is a stronger interest/incentive to keep the jobs going because the investment the small owner has in the town.

No one is saying to MoF or MoE “Oh don’t make the decision because you are going to have a negative impact on the small town”

Where is the social license of the government to be allowed to extract the tax value form the land?

To have engagement of the community in a meaningful manner in how the decisions are made in relation to natural resources you have to get the people that have the real decision making power – forest industry and mining industry executives in downtown Vancouver and the civil servants to engage with the communities. You need to have them live in the small rural towns, they have to engage with the First Nations – get out the board rooms, get onto the land. Given our technology today, there is no earthly reason to base any of the resource companies in Vancouver (if you think capital markets are the reason, then you have to remember the money people are in Calgary now as part of that flight of big money and investors during the NDP era)

There is no relevant reason for a company like Alcan not to be based out of Kitimat In the case of Lillooet, there is no earthly reason what Ainsworth could not be based in Lillooet instead of downtown Vancouver. Ainsworth did start off with a couple of Ainsworth brother’s being gypo loggers in the Cariboo, but they became West Vancouverites.

Most people see First Nations as having had significant input into land use decisions over the last years and yes it has improved, but it is not because industry or government wanted to do First Nations any favours - it is because the First Nations have fought tooth and nail to get something, anything. This has meant going to the courts to get the decisions that give them the rights to make government pay attention

Every small town across this province should be sending letters of thanks and letters to support to the First Nations leaders that have taken the risk and pushed the issue against all the government and corporate might. These decisions on consultation with First Nations will also apply to the rest to the rural residents. The First Nations decisions set the stage for a new era in consultation with all rural residents and all people out there

Consultation is more than just letting people know what you are doing, it is process to get your information out in manner that is understandable with those that you are consulting with and then taking the comments that come back in making use of them or justifying why you would not use them. It is an iterative process that promotes an interest based approach and not a positional one.

Unfortunately government has rarely had any interest in consultation because it will not give people the information that they need, will not show how input is used and comes from a purely positional basis. That classic We have out statuary decision maker – we can not fetter the minister and bullshit like that. If it is wrong, it is wrong, it is wrong. Moving us into this feudal model is utterly wrong where we the residents of rural communities, aboriginal and non aboriginal have no ability to have any proper say or input into our land is fundamentally wrong. We have become feudal like serfs on our own land and this is message the First Nations have been trying to tell people for 100 years. And I think in the last few years rural communities are beginning to learn the harsh truth themselves.

The plight of First Nations is the same plight of rural communities – there is a common cause of disempowerment and disenfranchisement from any meaningful input into land use planning

We need to have the rural communities and First Nations go out and reclaim the land.

There has to be a fundamentally respectful and two way process.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Good News for the Port of Stewart

=======================================================================
Western Keltic Signs MOU with Stewart Bulk Terminals Ltd.
=======================================================================

Vancouver, Canada, April 30, 2007. Western Keltic Mines Inc. ("Western
Keltic" or the "Company") is pleased to announce the signing of a
memorandum of understanding ("MOU") with Stewart Bulk Terminals Ltd.
("SBTL") in Stewart, BC. The MOU commits both parties to start
discussions leading to an agreement for the provision of concentrates
storage and loading facility in the port of Stewart for the Kutcho
project.

"In our experience, Stewart Bulk Terminals is a very progressive
business that is planning for the future," said John McConnell,
President and CEO, "We look forward to finalizing this agreement and to
a long term working relationship with the SBTL management team".

Western Keltic foresees producing approximately 118,000 tonnes of
copper concentrate and 89,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate annually for
shipment, beginning in late 2009. The concentrates will be hauled by
truck from the mine site to Stewart for storage before being loaded for
shipment to various destinations on the Pacific Rim. By signing this
MOU, SBTL will ensure that it has the ability and capacity to handle
Western Keltic concentrates during the Kutcho Project's operational
phrase. SBTL will immediately place the storage and loading of Western
Keltic concentrates in its development plans so any required personnel
and/or infrastructure changes can be completed by the fourth quarter of
2009.

The Port of Stewart & Stewart Bulk Terminals Ltd.

Located on the BC-Alaska border, the port of Stewart is the
northernmost deep-water, ice-free port in British Columbia, capable of
handling deep-sea traffic.

Stewart Bulk Terminals Ltd. is a privately-owned company operating a
bulk product storage and loading facility in Stewart. The facility has
modern upgraded dock that permits the loading of concentrates for
shipment around the Pacific Rim. SBTL has been serving the shipping
needs of the Northwestern BC since 1993.

Western Keltic

Western Keltic is a mineral exploration and development company and is
the 100 per cent owner of the Kutcho Project, a proposed copper/zinc
mine located 100 km east of Dease Lake, BC. The Company is currently
completing a Pre-feasibility study and has entered into the BC
Environmental Assessment process seeking an Environmental Certificate
and related permits for the construction, operation, closure and
reclamation of the project.

The Kutcho property hosts three massive sulphide copper-zinc deposits:
Main, Esso and Sumac:



Deposit Tonnes Copper % Zinc % Silver Gold
g/t g/t
Main
(Measured & Indicated) 14,200,000 1.86 2.44 33 0.4
Esso (Indicated) 2,000,000 2.93 5.5 69 0.6
Sumac (Inferred) 4,200,000 1.35 1.85 21 0.2


Current planning foresees the construction of a 2.0 million tonne per
annum mine in 2008 with production beginning late in 2009. Annual
production is expected to approximate 36,000 tonnes of copper, 39,000
tonnes of zinc, and 42,000 kg of silver and 340 kg of gold in
concentrates. Metallurgical test work has demonstrated 90% copper
recovery and 75% Zn recovery, producing a 31% copper concentrate and a
54% zinc concentrate. It should be noted that the Company has not yet
completed its economic study with respect to the potential production
from the Kutcho Property. As a result the above production figures are
projections only, and as such are subject to risks, uncertainties and
other factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from
those projected.

Western Keltic is traded on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol
WKM.

For further information:

John McConnell
604-682-8414 or 1-800-501-1201
www.westernkeltic.com
On behalf of the Board of Directors
WESTERN KELTIC MINES INC.
"Signed"
John McConnell
President and CEO

The TSX Venture Exchange does not accept responsibility for the
adequacy or accuracy of this release.

THIS PRESS RELEASE, REQUIRED BY APPLICABLE CANADIAN LAWS, IS NOT FOR
DISTRIBUTION TO U.S. NEWS SERVICES OR FOR DISSEMINATION IN THE UNITED
STATES, AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN OFFER OF THE SECURITIES DESCRIBED
HEREIN. THESE SECURITIES HAVE NOT BEEN REGISTERED UNDER THE UNITED
STATES SECURITIES ACT OF 1933, AS AMENDED, OR ANY STATE SECURITIES
LAWS, AND MAY NOT BE OFFERED OR SOLD IN THE UNITED STATES OR TO U.S.
PERSONS UNLESS REGISTERED OR EXEMPT THERE FROM.

=======================================================================
Copyright (c) 2007 WESTERN KELTIC MINES INC. (TSX-V:WKM) All rights
reserved. For more information visit our website at
http://www.keltic.com/ or send mailto:invest@westernkeltic.com
=======================================================================


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

First Nations Ag Meeting in Victoria

Aboriginal Agriculture :: Growing culture, honouring tradition
Indigenous Farm Conference & Tradeshow

Aboriginal Agricultural Education Society of British Columbia

--------------------------
News Release

Wednesday, April 25, 2007 -- For Immediate Release

Victoria Hosts National Aboriginal Agriculture Leaders

Victoria - A national conference and tradeshow focused on Aboriginal
agriculture will be held at Laurel Point Inn in Victoria on May 2-3, 2007.
The event will range from the practical to the visionary and will draw
together farmers, leaders and innovators across Canada from as far away as
Nunavut. "Aboriginal Agriculture: Growing Culture, Honouring Tradition"
will seamlessly link cutting-edge practices with traditional knowledge.

"This year, the conference and tradeshow will emphasize green food
production and explore issues like food security, niche marketing and small
scale processing," said Chief Harold Aljam of the Coldwater Band. "The
purpose of the conference is to share stories, present model solutions,
network, and showcase producers and youth innovations."

"We, as First Nations people, have always lived off the land whether it is
hunting, fishing, gathering or farming. Let's continue that and find ways
to help our youth take on that lifestyle," said Maynard McRae Jr.,
nominated for a young farmer award.

"The event will cover everything from cows to clams and many other
value-added products, including industrial hemp, biodiesel and eco-farming
technologies," said Lesley Dale, program manager of the Aboriginal
Agriculture Education Society of British Columbia.

The Victoria event, May 2nd and 3rd, is expected to attract hundreds of
leaders including chiefs and councillors, economic development officers,
Aboriginal farmers, organizations interested in food security issues, and
small food processors.

Lead sponsors of the event include the First Nations Agricultural Lending
Association, BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, and Coast Capital and
Vancity credit unions. Services were also provided by Diana's Monogramming
of Armstrong, BC and Menzies Printers of Kamloops, BC.

Featured speakers include Josh Duncan of the Native Brotherhood of BC.
Awards will be presented to distinguished senior and youth farmers by the
Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Agriculture and Lands.

- 30 -

Monday, April 23, 2007

regular email newsletter from Brandon Hughes

Brandon Hughes, of the federal government and located in Nelson, regularly sends out an email newsletter of interest for rural BC issues. Here is the latest one.

This e-mail is one of an ongoing series of information updates from Rural Team BC issued by Brandon Hughes (Canadian Rural Partnership/Service Canada). Any input or update ideas are welcomed. If you wish to be added to the list or taken off or for more information on the Team's activities mail me. Please feel free to forward this information to others who would be interested.


1. New Horizons for Seniors – Call for Applications - The Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program funds community-based projects that encourage seniors to participate in and contribute to their communities through volunteerism, mentorship and civic leadership. Eligible applicants include voluntary and non-profit sector organizations, municipal governments, band/tribal councils and other aboriginal organizations, as well community-based coalitions, networks and ad hoc committees. For more information call(604) 988-1880 or toll free at 1-866-317-8555 or visit

http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/isp/horizons/cfa/cfa0407/bc0407.shtml

2. BC Rural Network Newsletter – The Network is an umbrella group of rural organizations and rural representatives formed to enhance the capacity of rural British Columbia to develop responses to rural and remote community issues. The Network works in close partnership with the BC Rural Team and is partly funded by the Canadian Rural Partnership. The newsletter has articles on the Network’s AGM in Smithers, the next Rural Summit in the Cariboo, and Learning Initiatives for Rural and Northern BC http://www.bcruralnetwork.ca/node/141

3. Breakfast For Learning BC – Breakfast For Learning nutrition grant applications are now available on line. Breakfast For Learning nutrition grants start and sustain child nutrition programs in schools and community setting. Deadline for applications is May 15, 2007 Click here to access the online application http://dashbc.org/article.asp?c=43

4. Food Guide for First Nations, Inuit and M├ętis - Canada's Food Guide has been tailored nationally to reflect the unique values, traditions and food choices of Aboriginal populations. The tailored food guide includes traditional food from the land and sea, and provides the best, most current information for eating well and living healthy. For more information visit http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/nr-cp/2007/2007_44_e.html

5. Wathershed Workshop - Williams Lake has been selected to host the British Columbia Community Workshop 2007. Registration is open for this biennial conference that brings together both professionals and volunteers involved in watershed management and protection, stream restoration, and fish enhancement in BC and the Yukon. Workshop 2007 is scheduled for May 18, 19 & 20, 2007, and the theme this year is “Stewardship in Transition: Impacts & Adaptations in a Changing Climate”

This year’s event is sponsored by Thompson Rivers University, Community Futures Development Corporation of the Cariboo Chilcotin, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Salmon Foundation, Baker Creek Enhancement Society, Pacific Streamkeepers Foundation, Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society, and Scout Island Nature Centre. http://workshop.pskf.ca/2007/index.html

6. New Fact Sheets on Youth Health in BC (2007) - New research from the latest Adolescent Health Survey is now available for downloading. Topics include: sexual behaviour; connections to school; safety and violence; harassment and discrimination; emotional health; and injuries. McCreary encourages the use and duplication of these Fact Sheets. For more information or to download Fact Sheets, visit http://www.mcs.bc.ca/rs_facts.htm

7. Canada Business - Canada Business is a government information service for businesses and start-up entrepreneurs in Canada. Canada Business reduces the complexity and burden of dealing with various levels of government by serving as a single point of access for federal and provincial/territorial government services, programs and regulatory requirements for business. The site is searchable for audiences such as rural, First Nations, Women, and Persons with Disabilities. The site provides information on business start up, exporting, contracting with the Government and more. http://canadabusiness.gc.ca/gol/cbec/site.nsf/en/index.html

8. Business Strategies in Historic Sites - If you are involved in the Heritage sector, join Fraser Basin Council and the Cultural Resource Management Program at the University of Victoria at the Helen Dixon Centre in Quesnel on May 14 and 15th, 2007 for the following exciting learning opportunity. Heritage organizations, as ‘social enterprises,’ have the capacity to develop innovative and sustainable revenue-generating strategies while also protecting and celebrating the unique heritage values of their structures, landscapes, collections and mission. At this two day forum, workshops will provide a framework in which you can conceptualize a range of heritage business opportunities that have the potential to generate essential revenues and strengthen the services that you provide within your community. The cost is $30 + GST, fee includes lunch and refreshment breaks daily. For information on travel and accommodation bursaries please contact the Fraser Basin Council at 250-392-1400 or e-mail mlebourdais@fraserbasin.bc.ca This workshop is offered in partnership with the Heritage Branch, Ministry of Tourism, Sports, and the Arts, and the Fraser Basin Council. For more information on the event phone 250-472-4747 or mail register@uvcs.uvic.ca or vist http://www.uvcs.uvic.ca/WebSite/CourseDetails/index.aspx?sectionid=37202&SectionCourseID=37190

9. Measuring Up Accessibility and Inclusion Fund - The Measuring Up Accessibility and Inclusion Fund, managed by 2010 Legacies Now, will provide approximately 70 grants of up to $25,000 in support of community projects that are aligned with the Measuring Up initiative and the 10 by 10 Challenge. The Province is investing $2 million to support community projects aimed at increasing accessibility and inclusion for persons with disabilities, Employment and Income Assistance Minister Claude Richmond announced today. The Measuring Up initiative, led by 2010 Legacies Now, focuses on creating fully accessible public spaces and promoting employment and community involvement for people with disabilities. Similarly, the Province’s 10 by 10 Challenge is targeted at increasing the employment of persons with disabilities in communities by 10 per cent by 2010. For full program details click on Measuring Up or contact Cynthia McEwan, Director, Measuring Up Project - Accessibility and Inclusion Initiative at 778-840-5169 or via email at Cmcewan@2010legaciesnow.com

10. Community Flood Preparedness Tool Kit. Is your community at risk for flooding? Are you prepared? By planning ahead and taking precautions, you can do your part to minimize personal risk and property flood damage. The Provincial Emergency Program has published a comprehensive Flood Information Tool Kit which contains important safety information, fact sheets and articles to help you: flood proof your home and property; identify what to do if rising waters threaten your property; understand procedures for evacuating your home; and much more. If you live in a flood risk area, the information in this tool kit will be very helpful to you.

http://www.pep.gov.bc.ca/Community/tool_kit.html

11. Stroke Identification - "During a BBQ a friend stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) and just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food - while she appeared a bit shaken up, Ingrid went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Ingrid's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - at 6:00pm, Ingrid passed away. She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ - had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke perhaps Ingrid would be with us today."

It only takes a minute to read this-

Recognizing A Stroke

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed and getting to the patient within 3 hours which is tough. Please take the time to remember these "3" steps. Read and Learn!

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions: The mnemonic is STRoke - the first three letters of stroke

*S* Ask the individual to SMILE.

*T* Ask the person to TALK – To REPEAT A SIMPLE SENTENCE Coherently (e.g. . . It is sunny out today)

*R* Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call 9-1-1 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

Widespread use of this test could result in prompt diagnosis and treatment of the stroke and prevent brain damage.

A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people; you can bet that at least one life will be saved.

Be a friend and share this article with as many friends as possible, you could save their lives

Here's a link to the report from the American Heart Association referenced above making the same point: a potential stroke needs immediate attention
http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3008841

Friday, April 20, 2007

Aesthetics and the Environment

It is interesting how much aesthetics is tied up with environmentalism - if it looks ugly to the observer, then it must be bad for the environment. I have two interesting examples in relation to this.

1) Last September I was in Germany and in the northern part of the province of Hesse there are a lot of wind turbines. They sit in the middle of a rural farming region. The turbines are in the middle of fields. I have had a number of people look at the pictures I took and comment on how ugly the wind turbines are - I ask them why. The answer is that they wreck the viewscape of a natural environment, it is the industrialization of a natural spot, that they are harming the natural state. All this in an area that has not been in anything approaching a wild state in over a thousand years. In our western society we have decided that farming and farmer's fields are part of natural environment and are a beautiful thing to see. This ignores that the fields are monocultures and have destroyed all the orginal habitat.

2) Clearcutting in forestry - once again, they look ugly and therefore must be bad. But when one compares the amount of land that is impacted by forestry each year versus the amount of land being permanently impacted by farming. In BC about 200 000 hectares of forests are harvested each year. If the land is considered to be fuly unavailable as habitat for ten years, then this means there is about 2 000 000 hectares on a rolling basis that are not available as wildlife habitat - about 2% of BC. About 5% of BC is farmed - this land is effectively not available at any time for wildlife habitat, and this of the best lands in BC.

But clearcutting is seen a villain and farming is not.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Farmland in BC and the ALR

There is an ongoing fear by some people in BC about the loss of farmland in the province. A fear that the agricultural land in BC is quickly lost, this is simply not the case.

The public is made to believe that great tracts of farmland are being lost to development in the province. Yes, land is being taken out of the ALR, but other land is being put in. The net loss of agricultural land has been almost zero. In 1974 there were 4 700 000 in the ALR, 33 years later the number is about the same.

The public is made to believe that the best land is being taken out of the ALR. Yes, some of the land on the island, in the lower mainland and in the Okanagan is of high value, but then so is the land in the Peace Country and in the Thompson Nicola region. As an example, the farm land in the Capital Region District is not of the best quality - lots of rock, not flat etc....

The public lead to believe that we will need this land to produce our food in the future. This argument simple ignores reality. The cost of labour and production of food elsewhere in the world is so much lower that we simply can not compete. Even if oil runs out and have to change to other modes of transportation, it will still be cheaper to use ships to send food over long distances.

The public is said to want local food. Great idea, but how much are you willing to spend? I feed a family of 5 half the time (2 people for the other weeks) - this means about 5lbs of vegetables or grains for a dinner. At $1 a pound, the meal can be done for under $10. Raise it to about $3 a pound and the meal gets much close to $20. Over a year this is an extra $2500 for dinners alone. Buying all my food local would add about $10 000 to my annual food bill. I would have to earn an extra $15 000 to be able to pay for this.

Much of the farm land in BC is under used and sitting quasi idle. You only need to go through the Cariboo and see how much land is not being used. This is land that can be used to grow onions, carrots, potatoes, garlic, grains and a lot more. right now it is sitting mainly in hay. Though the crops we can grow are not the more exciting ones.

The simple reality is that if we lost all the agricultural land in the southwest of BC and the Okanagan, we would still have in excess of 4 000 000 hectares of farm land. That land could produce enough grain calories for a population of 15 000 000. Some crop yield numbers:
  • Carrots - 40000 lbs per hectare - enough to feed 50 to 60 people 2 lbs each day for a year
  • Garlic - 20000 lbs per hectare - at 1/2 lb per family five per day, enough for 27 families
  • Potatoes - 85000 lbs per hectare - enough to feed 80 to 85 people 3 pounds a day for a year.
  • Berries - 25000 lbs per hectare - enough for a pound of fruit per day for a year for 70 people.
  • Cabbage - 90000 lbs per hectare - 2 pounds per person a day would mean 125 people.
The upshot is that we have a lot of land in BC for growing crops on and are in no danger of not having the land needed to provide for our food needs. There is no crisis at this time and there is unlikely to ever be a crisis. If we really needed to, we could produce enough food for the people in BC on 250 000 hectares in the Cariboo.

Most suburban family homes sit on about 7000 sq feet of land and could easily put 1500 sq feet of that into food production and produce 500 pounds of food in that area - add another 150 sq feet for a chicken coop and you can get close to 1000 eggs. Enough to meet the fresh produce and protien needs of a family of five for about half the year.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Alaska Canada Rail Link

Since I mentioned the rail link to Alaska, I thought I would add background on the state of the project.

There was a flurry of activity in 2005-06 - see this site. Since then it has allow gone quiet.

The number one person that is backing it is state representative Jeanette James. She has put a lot of effort into the idea.

I think the idea of the rail link makes huge sense - it makes it possible for Alaska resources to go through to the lower 48 and for the Alaska ports to become a new access for Asia. The benefit for BC and Yukon is that the rail line would open up large areas of natural resources for development. It also allows for the First Nations in northern BC and Yukon to have a lot more opportunties in the future.

Highway 37 and the Northwest






Northwest BC has a chance to have a huge amount of development along the Highway 37 corridor.

There are two mines already in operation in the area - Barrick Gold's Eskay Creek and Cusac Gold Mines Table Mountain mine which is open after 7 years being closed. Eskay produced 3500 kg of gold in 2006 and 170 000 kg silver - a value of about $150 000 000. Cusac is expected to produce abotu 750 kg of gold for a value of close to $15 000 000.

Mines that could operate in the area:
  • Red Chris
  • Schaft Creek
  • Galore Creek
  • Mount Klappan
  • Kutcho Creek
  • There are somewhere over a dozen significant exploration projects in the region
Beyond mining, the region has a huge potential from green power from run of the river micro hydro projects. But they need to have access to the grid to make any sense.

The highway 37 corridor also has a lot of timber and has seen relatively low harvesting. If one were to make access better along the highway and one were to provide cheaper power via the grid, the areas that are economical will increase. The current AAC of the Cassiar TSA is 400 000 cubic meters a year. This assumes that 50% of the forested land is uneconomical at this time.

With a mill in the region, the operable areas will increase dramatically in my opinion. Right now the Timber Harvesting Land Base is considered to be a bit less than 200 000 hectares. At the moment the timber has to be trucked a long distance to get any market. If you put a mill in the region - say one at Lower Post and one at Dease Lake, the THLB will rise dramatically. It costs about $2/hour to transport a tonne of material. A loaded truck can carry about 40 tonnes of logs or 40 000 board feet of lumber. 40 tonnes of sawlogs is a value of $2500 to $4000. The lumber is worth about $14 000.

Dease Lake to Prince Rupert is 785 km - Dease Lake to Stewart is 400 km. The first is a 20 to 24 hour round trip - a trucking cost of about $2000 and the second is a 12 hour round trip and a trucking cost of about $1000. You can see that with these prices, moving raw logs is simply only worth it if the timber has a very low cost of harvesting and high value. But moving lumber it becomes a lot more economical. The trucking the ports is not a huge portion of the costs.

One big mill in Dease Lake could produce 400 000 000 board feet of lumber from an AAC of about 1 000 000 cubic meters of timber. The value of this mill would be $120 000 000 in new lumber sales per year. The province would see an additional $20 000 000 a year in stumpage alone. But such a mill needs good electrical power and access to good transportation.

If you bring rail into and through the region, you really open up a whole set of bulk materials for the market as well. Coal, pulp and paper, industrial minerals and more.

With a better highway, a grid and rail to Yukon and Alaska, you improve the economics for everyone.

What I believe is needed is
  • A full transmission line all the way through to Alaska.
  • A first rate fully paved road to the Yukon border.
  • A plan to upgrade the port facilities at Stewart for bulk materials.
  • A rail line as was planned by BC rail many years ago to go through to the Yukon
  • A rail spur from the existing line where the Sustut enters the Skeena to Stewart - a distance of about 200 km
  • Construction of the Stewart Omineca resource road, though I would build it as a full highway which would run from Mackenzie/McLeod Lake via the Kemess mine location to Stewart.
The revenue potentials are huge for BC, but there is all this infrastructure that needs to be constructed. My hope is that people will start to consider this seriously in near future.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Mountain Pine Beetle

The numbers involved with the mountain pine beetle problem are staggering.

Close to 10 000 000 hectares of land are currently effected by MPD - this is an area not much smaller than the three maritime provinces combined.

BC has an inventory of about 1 200 000 000 cubic metres of pine. Based on the details in a provincial report, about 500 000 000 cubic metres of wood is not likely to be harvested.

That wood has a value of $30 000 000 000 fob at the mill gate. The lost economic value of the wood that is not processed is another $60 000 000 000. The loss to the Canadian economy of this wood not being harvested is about $100 billion - the tax revenue loss alone is $25 billion.

The lost timber is equal to about 9 years of the BC forest industry.

This loss will be borne by one single region in the country, the interior of BC north of the Okanagan and south of the Peace. This region has a total population of about 400 000 people. the loss of GDP to the region is $250 000 per person, though that is just the value of the timber not harvested. The impact of the reduction of the Annual Allowable Cut by about 30 000 000 cubic metres a year in this region is a GDP loss $6 000 000 000 annually - or $15 000 per person per year.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Rural input into land use

Management of natural resources has disproportionately fallen into the hands of experts (the civil servants and people within larger businesses) that have no direct connection with the land or the natural resources. The people making the decisions live in urban BC and are divorced from the natural world. They do not need to consider the implications to the communities in which the decisions they make play out.

Contrast this to someone that operates a small one town mill operation. They have defacto a social license with the community. Put glibly - “I can not screw up because everyone can find me and lynch me”. There is a stronger interest/incentive to keep the jobs going because the personal and social investment the small owner has in the town.

No where in the way civil servants make decisions is there a point at which anyone realistically raises “Oh don’t make the decision because you are going to have a negative impact on the small town”. Where is the social licence of the government to be allowed to extract the tax value from the land if they are nto considering the communities?

The engagement of the community in a meaningful manner in how the decisions are made in relation to natural resources is crucial to good land management. You have to get the people that have the real decision making power – forest industry and mining industry executives in downtown Vancouver and the civil servants to engage with the communities, they have to be in the small rural towns, they have to engage with the First Nations. There has to be a serious effort to get out of the board rooms and onto the land. Given our technology today, there is no earthly reason to base any of the resource companies in Vancouver (if you think capital markets are the reason, then you have to remember the money people are in Calgary now as part of that flight of big money and investors during the NDP era)

There is no relevant reason for a company like Alcan not to be based out of Kitimat. In the case of Lillooet, there is no earthly reason why Ainsworth could not be based there instead of downtown Vancouver. There was a time when Ainsworth was much more closely connected to the interior. The company started in the 1950s with a couple of Ainsworth brother’s being gypo loggers in the Cariboo.

Most people see First Nations as having had significant input into land use decisions over the last years and yes it has improved, but it is not because industry or government wanted to do First Naitons any favours - it is because the First Nations have fought tooth and nail to get something - anything. This has meant going to the courts to get the decisions that give them the rights to make government pay attention.

Every small town across this province should be sending letters of thanks and letters to support to the First Nations leaders that have taken the risk and pushed the issue against all the government and corporate might. These decisions on consultation with First Nations will eventually apply to the rest of the rural residents of the province. The First Nations legal decisions set the stage for a new era in consultation for all rural residents.

Consultation is more than just letting people know what you are doing, it is process of getting your information out in manner that is understandable for those you are consulting with and then taking their comments and making use of them or justifying why you would not use them. It is an iterative process that promotes an interest based approach and not a positional one.

Unfortunately government has rarely had any interest in consultation because it operates from a positional basis and is not really willing to consider how to use input in a meaningful way. A classic line is "We have our statuary decision maker" or "We can not fetter the minister" and bullshit like that. Coming in from outside and saying "we have all the power" creates a feudal like relationship between all rural residents and the government. We have become feudal like serfs on our own land. The message is not a new one, it is one that the First Nations have been trying to tell people for 100 years. In the last few years rural communities are beginning to learn the harsh truth themselves.

The plight of First Nations is the same plight of rural communities – there is a common cause of disempowerment and disenfranchisement from any meaningful input into land use. We need to have the rural communities and First Nations go out and reclaim the land so as to ulitmately create a fundamentally respectful and two way process when it comes to land use.









Friday, March 23, 2007

Doctors in rural BC

I just heard on the CBC that Williams Lake is losing one of their doctors. As a town, Williams Lake is not that small, but they have reached a point where they are having trouble recruiting doctors. The situation in smaller towns is even more acute.

There towns serving populations of 5000 people with 2 doctors. This means that a doctor is on call every other night. It means if one of them goes on a holiday that the other has to be on call 24/7. This ratio of population to doctors is worse than most of developing world - it is worse that a lot of rural areas in Latin America.

It means that people needing regular healthcare need to move to another location.

Small towns not having the doctors means that people need to move out of town for a birth. A pregnant woman in Lytton has to move to Kamloops in her 8th month because there is no place that she can give birth locally.

The elders of the community also need to leave to the care they need.

The only bright point I have seen is in Lillooet BC. The medical clinic has been proactive in recruiting doctors and therefore has maintained a reasonable ratio of population to doctors. No on needs to be on call too often, holidays are possible, and the lifestyle is good.

The Lillooet Clinic manages to recruit younger doctors because it can sell them on the amazing outdoors and a low cost of living combined with a practice that is interesting but not overwhelming. They have done this without the help of any level of government.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How far the North of BC has dropped

The part of BC from Cache Creek and northwards has had a significant population drop

  • 1996 350000
  • 2001 340000
  • 2006 320000

By looking at the whole region - Prince Rupert and the whole Hwy 16 corridor, the Prince George region, the Peace and the Cariboo, you remove the individual variations of towns and look at a province sized and diversified area.

the population fall is also a problem because the relative amount of BC's population that is in this area is falling. As of the 2006 census, this region has fallen to 7.8% of BC from 9.4% in 1996.

  • This region is the heart of Canada's forest industry
  • This region has the biggest expansion in mining in Canada at the moment
  • Oil and gas is big in this area.

And the population is falling......

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Census 2006

I looked at the 2006 census results, and they are horrific for rural BC. My own town of Lillooet (which I admit I left in 2004) has fallen to 2340 people. This is a drop of 800 people in town over the last 10 years.

I am going to try and go through and look as some of the numbers for the towns in BC. But they are are not good. Prince Rupert, Kitimat, William's Lake, Mackenzie and more towns that I feel are the life and soul of BC are declining. -15% has happened.......

Rural BC is dieing.