Monday, March 29, 2010

A Bold Idea

What would happen if the Canadian Forces moved the Pacific Fleet headquarters from Esquimalt to Prince Rupert?

In the Greater Victoria area there is low unemployment and a shortage of affordable housing. The CRD also has a crisis with available industrial land.

Prince Rupert is transitioning to be a a significant port on the west coast but is suffering from the vagaries of the resource industries. A naval base would offer a strong and consistent economic backing to the region.

With the naval base in Rupert, there would be a need for a drydock in Prince Rupert. With the new container port there will be major ships that need repairs from time to time, the naval base makes the economic case for the repair facility.

The Canadian Forces have close to 200 hectares of land in Esquimalt and 250 hectares in Colwood. The sale of these lands would net the federal government several billion dollars, enough to buy new lands in Prince Rupert and build the base there with money left over.

A new base in Prince Rupert would also have state of the art buildings and docks making it a better base than what we have now. The Canadian Forces would also have the chance to build decent quality on base housing. The quality of the houses the military has in the CRD is not exactly great.

Prince Rupert places the Canadian navy closer to Asia.

A navy base in Prince Rupert would also be the only NATO navy base on the north coast. The US has no navy bases in Alaska and having a NATO base in Prince Rupert would likely be of benefit to the Americans.

Having the base in Prince Rupert would also be of benefit to the ordinary seamen in the Canadian navy as housing would be much more affordable.

The idea is bold and has many upsides, but I am sure it will be shot down because it involves change and people are inherently conservative and resistant to change.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cassiar, just one of many rural towns that are gone.

There was a time when a mine opened a community was built to house the people that worked there. There was a time when government promoted the idea of rural communities. We are slowly but surely going towards a time when there will be no small rural towns. One town that disappeared was Cassiar BC.

Cassiar was founded in 1952 for the asbestos mine that opened. The mine operated for 40 years and closed rather quickly in 1992. The town had up to 1500 people living there at one time. The community had a ski hill, schools, churches, ice arena, and a swimming pool. After the end of the mine it was all pulled down.

The area had been the site of a gold rush in the 1870s, the Kaska Dene have lived in this region for years but even their community is dwindling. Good Hope Lake is a few kilometers from the old Cassiar townsite but only has a population of 32 people now.

Cassiar was once the largest community in the whole Cassiar country, it was half the population of the country.

The Cassiar country is currently under consideration for numerous mines and has a timber resource available. Located right at the Cassiar access road and the Cassiar Stewart highway is the Table Mountain gold mine of Hawthorne Gold Corp. There is also a placer mining operation in the area. In general the area has a high potential for various different mines - Kutcho Creek, Turnagain, Cassiar Moly, Nizi/Cry Lake, and Red Chris are some of the ones in the region.

The lack of a local population makes the ability to hire staff for a mine harder. It also makes it harder to make good land use decisions when there are almost no people personally connected to the land.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Foerst Industry could be recovering.

Several BC companies recently released their latest results.

West Fraser Timber
reported a much better fourth quarter for 2009 than the rest of the year, in fact if you remove one the charges, an assest write down, the company made money in the fourth quarter.

Interfor reports much the same sort of improvement in the fourth quarter.

Canfor meanwhile did not have as good a quarter, though did better with pulp. Things are looking up enough that they are re-opening their Chetwynd sawmill after a two year closure.

The fact these three companies seem to be doing better should improve the market for logs in the interior. Higher prices means better times for First Nation timber harvesting businesses.