A caged canary, once used to detect dangerous gases in underground mines, is featured on CUPE's Workers Day of Mourning flag which flew outside town hall last Saturday (April 28). Greg Amos photo.
By: Greg Amos, Editor
A day of mourning held last Saturday (April 28) for workers across B.C. was especially poignant in light of the recent explosion and fire at the Lakeland mill in Prince George.
A Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Day of Mourning flag flew at half mast outside of town hall in Tumbler Ridge, as a sawmill safety crackdown is underway across B.C. in the wake of the April 23 disaster and the January explosion at a Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake.
“Every worker has the right to go home in the same condition they showed up in that morning,” said United Steelworkers local 1-424 business agent Don Iwaskow, who marked the occasion as one of nearly 300 attendees at a ceremony in Burns Lake. (The United Steelworkers represent workers at Walter Energy’s Wolverine mine, and would represent workers at Teck’s proposed Quintette operation.)
“It was very quiet,” he said of the ceremony. “We had several speakers talk about safety and the direction they’d like to see WorkSafeBC take in the future.” Continue reading
A campaign battle between the incumbent Progressive Conservatives and the upstart Wildrose Alliance Party will wrap up in just three days, as Albertans are heading to the polls for a provincial election on Monday (April 23).
The outcome will be relevant to the entire Peace Region, as Alberta’s next government will determine the scale and rate of resource industry growth in much of Western Canada in the years to come.
Tumbler Ridge is located just 60 kilometres west of the Alberta border.
Read more here.
By: Liz Brown, Chetwynd Echo
CHETWYND – An update to the ongoing site C proposal released by BC Hydro is welcoming feedback from Peace River residents, stakeholders and the general public.
From April 17 until June 1, stakeholders are encouraged to send written comments on the proposed site C Clean Energy Project. The proposed dam and 1,100 megawatt hydroelectric generating station will operate on the Peace River, making potentially drastic changes to the landscape in the surrounding area.
Esther Pedersen, a resident of Fort St. John has been an active voice and attending meetings for the proposed Site C Clean Energy Project. She recently learned the project is expected to cost upwards of $7.9 billion.
“Chetwynd, do you want to pay for that?” she said. “BC hydro is so far in debt and they’re deferring their debt and still talking about $7.9 billion. Who do you think is going to pay for that?” Continue reading
Geologists atop the summit of Roman Mountain at Peace River Coal. A new system of environmental assessments could speed up the review process for some proposed coal developments around Tumbler Ridge. Dave Thompson/AME BC photo.
Updated: April 17 at 4:30 p.m.
By: Greg Amos, Editor
Mining projects near Tumbler Ridge may stand to benefit from proposed changes to the federal environmental assessment process that were announced in Toronto this morning (April 17) by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver.
“It will help prevent the long delays in reviewing major economic projects that kill potential jobs and stall economic growth by putting valuable investment at risk,” he said of the government’s two-year, $165 million proposal, which was first laid out in the federal budget presented in late March. Continue reading
Former UNBC president Charles Jago. Submitted image.
The Peace River South Teachers Association (PRSTA) is concerned about last Tuesday’s (March 28) appointment of former UNBC president Charles Jago as the government-appointed mediator between teachers and their employers.
“One of our concerns is his lack of experience as a labour negotiator,” said PRSTA president Loraine Mackay. “Most of the appointments that he’s had in the past that relate to education have been made by the government – so you question whether he’s going to be able to look at this role in an unbiased way.” Continue reading
A meteorological tower placed on Finavera's Tumbler Ridge project site, as seen last April. Greg Amos photo.
There will be a new feature on a ridge just 10 kilometres southwest of the town centre, after Finavera Wind Energy’s 33-turbine Tumbler Ridge project was awarded an environmental assessment (EA) certificate by the province today (March 29).
The 49-megawatt wind project was given approval by Environment Minister Terry Lake and Energy Minister Rich Coleman after each was given up to 45 days to assess the application, as per the usual rules in B.C.
Finavera has had an electricity purchase agreement (EPA) with BC Hydro for two years, after winning four separate EPAs during the most recent power call in early March 2010. Those two items are the key pieces needed to build a wind project in B.C.
The green light on the environmental side means Finavera is now looking to complete financing, build the project, and begin selling power, Finavera CEO Jason Bak told the Vancouver Sun.
The EPA allows the project to deliver electricity into the grid as soon as this November, though it could not likely be built by then. Finavera has targeted a completion date of November 2013. Continue reading
By: Greg Amos, Editor
The nearest hearing to Tumbler Ridge for Enbridge’s proposed $5.5 billion Northern Gateway project has just begun in Grande Prairie.
Those wishing to follow the hearing via a live audio broadcast can find it here. As of this posting, a member of the Kelly Lake Cree Nation (located east of Tumbler Ridge) was addressing the panel.
Three days of hearings are taking place at the Quality Hotel and Conference Centre, starting today (March 26) and continuing tomorrow and Wednesday. The start time was recently moved up to 2 p.m. Pacific time, from the previous announced starting time of 6 p.m. Continue reading
By: Naomi Larsen, Chetwyndâ€ˆEcho
with notes from Canadian Press
CHETWYND â€“ Fraser Stuart laughed out loud when he heard the British Columbia government wants to train welfare recipients and then fly them north to fill badly needed jobs.
Stuart, who lives in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and is currently receiving social assistance, doesn’t want to work in the north, but he wants a job and he’s more than willing to take the training to get it.
The 59-year-old worked for eight years in a homeless shelter in Montreal, and he wants to do the same in B.C. But he’s been unable to pry the $1,600 for certification course from the provincial government, and his $610 monthly welfare cheque doesn’t come close to covering it. Continue reading
The green diamonds mark the approximate area of HD Mining's Murray River project area. Greg Amos photo illustration.
By: Greg Amos, Editor
After more than a year in the application process, Huiyong Dehua (HD) Mining has finally received its permit to carry out a 100,000 tonne bulk sample this spring on its Murray River underground coal mine project southwest of Tumbler Ridge.
With that in place, the company is now seeking permission to bring in 201 foreign workers from China, in order to fortify its workforce with the underground mining skills needed for the job.
The permit to carry out the work was issued on March 15, after HD submitted more information to the Ministry of Energy in January. More data on geochemistry, waste rock management, reclamation, equipment and engineering was submitted, explained Jody Shimkus, HD’s vice president of environmental and regulatory affairs.
HD Mining submitted two labour market opinion (LMO) applications with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) just before that permit was issued: one on March 5 seeking 84 temporary foreign workers, and another on March 13 seeking 117 workers. Continue reading
BCTF president Susan Lambert speaks at yesterday's (March 21) press conference to announce the union's plans. Video capture from CBC.ca .
Three days and nights of debate at the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) meeting that started last Saturday (March 17) have produced a plan: legal action soon against Bill 22, and a vote on whether to walk out later.
“We believe that this bill has all the hallmarks, all the characteristics of previous bills that have been found illegal by the United Nations, illegal by our Supreme Court, and so there will be a legal challenge,” said BCTF president Susan Lambert.
Those previous bills are Bill 27 and Bill 28, introduced by then-Education Minister Christy Clark in 2002 to strike issues like class-size maximums and class composition from the provisions of any future collective agreement. Continue reading
Fribjon Bjornson's remains were discovered almost seven weeks ago in Fort St. James. Photo provided by RCMP.
Almost seven weeks after the remains of a Vanderhoof man were discovered in Fort St. James, his family is looking for the public’s help in solving the mystery behind his death.
The remains of Fribjon Bjornson, 28, was was discovered in a vacant property on the Nak’azdli reserve in Fort St. James after he was reported missing on January 21.
While the RCMP’s North District Major Crime investigators were able to confirm the identity of those remains, the body is still missing.
“The nightmare for this family is not over and we hope someone can leave an anonymous tip as to where we can find Fribjon Bjornson,â€ said RCMP North District Media Relations Officer Cst. Lesley Smith. “We are asking for a location or to be directed to a certain area where we can recover a much loved son so he can be properly laid to rest.” Continue reading
By: Greg Amos, Editor
After 15 months of work in northern B.C., a federal RCMP task force has seized nearly 120,000 marijuana plants, putting a significant dent in marihuana production in the region.
The Cariboo Region Integrated Marihuana Enforcement task force (CRIME) seized 119,606 plants – nearly 11 tons of marihuana – on 70 properties, resulting in criminal charges against 78 people.
Superintendent Brian Cantera, the officer in charge of the RCMP’s Federal Drug Enforcement Branch, described the results as â€œvery substantialâ€ in today’s (March 16) press release. Continue reading
Avalanche debris in Windy Ridge area near Tumbler Ridge last January. Greg Amos photo.
The coming weekend may be a good one to do anything but head into the backcountry, warns the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC).
A prediction of large and destructive avalanches after recent snowfall has prompted the special warning, issued yesterday (March 15). With clear blue skies predicted, temptations will be high for snowmobilers and skiers to take advantage of the weather â€“ but there’s a real risk of increasing the province’s death toll from avalanches this season, which now stands at eight.
â€œWhat concerns us is an expected lull in the stormy weather this weekend, which will give backcountry users an opportunity to get up into the alpine,â€ explained Karl Klassen, manager of the CACâ€™s Public Avalanche Warning Services. â€œBut thereâ€™s up to two metres of new snow in the high country that has not yet stabilized, on top of those same deeply buried weak layers weâ€™ve been concerned about for the past month.â€ Continue reading
Swiss miner Xstrata has formed a joint venture with Japan's JX Group aimed at developing newly acquired coal properties between Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd. Greg Amos photo illustration.
Updated: 3 p.m. on March 15
By: Greg Amos, Editor
Just days after agreeing to purchase a metallurgical coal deposit from Talisman Energy for $500 million US, Swiss mining giant Xstrata announced today (March 15) it has sold a 25 per cent stake in the operation to a Japanese company.
JX Nippon Oil and Energy Corporation will pay $435 million US to acquire its stake in a new joint venture between the two companies, to be called Xstrata Coal B.C. (XCBC). The joint venture will be managed by Xstrata, which is seeking to develop three coal properties it recently acquired between Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd.
â€œJX and Xstrata Coal have had a strong and successful partnership for many years through the Oakbridge joint venture in Australia,â€ said Xstrata Coal chief executive Peter Freyberg in a press release. â€œWe are pleased to work with JX again as our long term partner in building a substantial metallurgical coal business in Western Canada.â€ Continue reading
By: Greg Amos, Editor
Prince George-Peace River is among a handful of federal ridings facing allegations of â€œrobocallsâ€ during the 2011 federal election campaign.
While Elections Canada is yet to make any confirmations, it appears the Peace Region may have been the target of misleading phone calls that tried to direct voters to false polling station locations.
An NDP complaint alleges an election day news story from Dawson Creek’s CJDC radio station had advised voters that strange calls were telling voters their voting station had changed. CJDC’s report also noted Election Canada did not know who was calling the voters â€“ only that the calls were definitely not from Elections Canada. Continue reading