Ottawa gives conditional approval to giant LNG project for B.C. coast

By GEMMA KARSTENS-SMITH,

RICHMOND, B.C. – The federal government gave conditional approval Tuesday to the massive Pacific NorthWest LNG project planned for British Columbia’s northwest coast.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr and Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc travelled to Richmond, B.C., to announce their government’s acceptance of what is expected to be one of the largest infrastructure investments in Canadian history.

There are 190 legally binding conditions attached to the approval, including for the first time the imposition of a condition placing a maximum cap on greenhouse gas emissions, McKenna said.

“This project was subject to a rigorous environmental assessment and today’s announcement reflects this commitment,” she told a news conference, which was interrupted by three hecklers from the Lax Kw’alaams First Nations band as the ministers spoke outdoors on the waterfront near Vancouver’s airport.

The Petronas-led $36-billion liquefied natural gas project on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert, B.C., would ship 19 million tonnes a year of liquefied gas to markets in Asia while pumping more than five million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually into the atmosphere. That would make it one the largest single greenhouse gas emitters in Canada, according to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

The government’s conditional approval sets the table for an autumn of more crucial decisions on a national climate change plan and energy sector infrastructure.

But it doesn’t necessarily mean the massive LNG project will ever get underway.

Low global oil prices and an increasing supply of natural gas have depressed international prices for LNG, making the economics of the project less certain than they were when it was first announced in 2013.

Pacific NorthWest LNG said in a statement Tuesday that it was pleased with the government’s announcement.

“Moving forward, Pacific NorthWest LNG and our shareholders will conduct a total project review over the coming months prior to announcing next steps for the project,” said Adnan Zainal Abidin, president of Pacific NorthWest LNG.

Despite the market uncertainty, the decision by the cabinet of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signals the course the new Liberal government will navigate among competing interests on the energy and environment files.

“The only way to get resources to market in the 21st century is if they can be done in a responsible and sustainable manner,” McKenna said in a news release. “This decision reflects this objective.”

The government says the conditions it is placing on the project are aimed at minimizing effects on fish, fish habitat, marine mammals, wetlands, migratory birds and human health.

But environmental groups saw a contradiction in the government’s approach.

“Approving this project is inconsistent with the federal government’s commitments to lead on climate change and clean innovation,” said Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada. “The conditions that come with this approval set the bar too low.”

Karen Mahon, national director of Stand Earth, said the group expected a different approach from the Liberals.

“How can Prime Minister Trudeau claim to be a climate leader on the international stage, while approving this new project that will become the single largest source of climate pollution in the country,” she said in a news release.

Carr said the facility will add nearly $2.4 billion per year in Canada’s GDP.

“This project further plants the Canadian flag on the world stage of natural gas exporters. Positions us to supply dynamic emerging economies while contributing to the fight against climate change.”

He said for the first time ever, there will be environmental monitoring committees watching over the project, in partnership with indigenous communities to share information on compliance and enforcement.

He said both First Nations affected by the project have been invited to be part of the committee.

But not all indigenous peoples in the area are pleased with the government’s decision.

“It’s a sad, sad day for our community,” said Christine Smith-Martin of the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation, who was at the announcement and has concerns about the impact the project will have on salmon in the region.

The consultation process has been flawed because the government has been speaking with elected officials who don’t necessarily represent the views of the entire community, she added.

The community won’t stop fighting the project now, Smith-Martin said.

“When you talk about salmon, this is gold to our people. This decision isn’t going to go by lightly. There’s going to be a lot of people heading out to Lelu Island to protect it. I can guarantee that.”

Even before the government said it was pulling the trigger Tuesday, a group of six First Nations from the Skeena corridor issued a release saying the project “does not meet the test” for respecting indigenous rights and would be challenged in court.

“Providing a green light for this project at this time will only lead to protracted litigation which benefits no one,” said the Skeena Corridor First Nations, whose traditional lands include Lelu Island where the project will be centred.

Ottawa says an estimated 4,500 jobs would be created during the construction phase of the project, and 630 workers would be needed to operate the facility.

Environmentalists and First Nations have denounced the Pacific NorthWest LNG project due to concerns over salmon habitat as well, while pro-development advocates, including the B.C. government of Christy Clark, have called it a key economic driver for the country as a whole.

At Tuesday’s announcement, Clark said B.C. has as much natural gas as Alberta has oil in its oil fields.

Conservative interim Leader Rona Ambrose said in Ottawa that Trudeau had only one decision he could make on the project, and the prime minister now needs to “champion the project” to help make it a reality.

“He needs to make this project important, not only for British Columbians, but for all Canadians,” said Ambrose, citing the job creation and investment potential.

McKenna will carry the Pacific Northwest decision into a meeting with her provincial and territorial counterparts next Monday in Montreal, where they are set to begin negotiations on a strategy for meeting Canada’s international climate commitments.

Canada has pledged to reduce its emissions 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, but the country’s greenhouse gas output has been on a slow but steady rise for the last five years.

A draft assessment of the Pacific NorthWest project released in February found that it would emit 5.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year for 30 years, not including another 6.5 million to 8.7 million tonnes produced from natural gas collection and transportation.

“This will increase the B.C. and national emission totals by 8.5 per cent and 0.75 per cent respectively, based on 2011 levels,” said an early project assessment.

The Liberals added an additional three-month assessment period last spring to gather more information, and the final Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency report was delivered last week.

It won’t be the first difficult call for the Liberals this fall.

The government must decide by mid-December whether to approve the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C., while also negotiating a climate policy with the provinces and territories that McKenna has said will include a national floor price on carbon.

Vancouver proposes licensed short-term Airbnb rentals to increase supply

THE CANADIAN PRESS

VANCOUVER – Vancouver is proposing a new business-licence system for short-term rentals through websites like Airbnb to deal with “dangerously” low vacancy rates.

Mayor Gregor Robertson says the new regulations would allow short-term rentals in principal residences that are either owned or rented.

But the proposed changes would make daily or weekly rentals illegal in homes that aren’t principal residences or are structures like boats or trailers.

Robertson says the lack of long-term rental housing has reached a crisis point and the aim of the changes is to get at least 1,000 housing units back on the market.

He says current regulations requiring a minimum 30-day rental period will be amended so residents can rent part or all of their principle homes on a short-term basis.

General manager of building and licensing Kaye Krishna says city staff has reached out to all major companies operating short-term rentals online to come up with what is believed to be a balanced approach.

Sperm donor who fathered more than 30 kids turns himself in to police over lies about his background

Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press

An American who fathered more than 30 children through sperm donations, including at least three in Canada, has admitted he lied to a sperm bank about his background, police said

.An American who fathered more than 30 children through sperm donations, including at least three in Canada, has admitted he lied to a sperm bank about his background, police said

An American who fathered more than 30 children through sperm donations, including at least three in Canada, has admitted he lied to a sperm bank about his background, police said.

Police in Georgia say James Christian “Chris” Aggeles showed up at a police station in Athens-Clarke County last week, saying he wanted to turn himself in.

“I was contacted about a male in the police parking lot that said he had committed a fraud,” Det. Brigitte Menzel wrote in the report. “He informed me that he had falsified paperwork for a sperm bank, Xytex.”

 

Aggeles is at the centre of multiple lawsuits against the Georgia-based sperm bank Xytex Corp., including three suits from Ontario families that allege they were misled about their sperm donor’s medical and social history, which they claim included a criminal record and a mental illness.

Menzel’s report said Aggeles told her he “was not truthful” about his college degree status, and about some other information which was redacted in the report obtained by The Canadian Press.

 

Three-time surrogate mother not in it for cash: ‘I can use my life and health to make a positive impact’

“Aggeles said that I could ‘Google’ his name and there would be ample information available,” Menzel wrote. “It is unclear if Xytex has or is going to file a report against Aggeles.”

 

Menzel noted that the case was “information only” at the time, which means no charges have been laid against Aggeles.

A lawyer for Xytex said the company currently has no comment on the information in the police report.

Earlier this year, in statements of claim filed in a Newmarket, Ont., court, three families alleged Aggeles lied about his mental health history and his education — which included a claim about working towards a PhD in neuroscience engineering — when he filled out a Xytex questionnaire, but was never questioned by anyone at Xytex.

 

The families all allege Aggeles was promoted as a highly educated, healthy and popular donor.

But in reality, the documents alleged, Aggeles had in fact been diagnosed with schizophrenia and narcissistic personality disorder, had spent time behind bars for a residential burglary and did not have the degrees he claimed to obtain.

The statements of claim alleged Xytex failed to properly investigate the donor’s education claims and his medical history, and misrepresented him to customers, including suggesting he had the IQ level of a genius.

The families all allege Aggeles was promoted as a highly educated, healthy and popular donor

The allegations in the lawsuits, which involve families from Port Hope, Ont., Ottawa and Haileybury, Ont., have not been proven in court.

 

Xytex has said Aggeles was interviewed about his health, indicated he had no physical or mental impairments, and underwent a standard medical exam. The company said it made it clear to the families that Aggeles’ information could not be verified for accuracy.

A lawsuit one the Ontario families filed against Zytex in the U.S. was dismissed last year.

In that case, a judge said that while the lawsuit claimed fraud, negligence and product liability, it is “rooted in the concept of wrongful birth,” which isn’t recognized under Georgia law.

A lawyer for Xytex said Tuesday the company looks forward to “successfully defending itself.”

Cost of passengers’ food and drinks on Trudeau flights to Philippines, Turkey — $1,300 per person

OTTAWA — Passengers who accompanied Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his first two international trips were apparently well fed.

The government has revealed, in response to a written question by the Conservatives, that the cost of food and beverages supplied aboard a government Airbus used for the trips amounted to just over $1,300 per person.

Conservative MP Blaine Calkins calls the price tag “outrageous.”

But a spokesman for National Defence, which is responsible for the government’s fleet of air craft, says the total includes the actual cost of catering and delivering multiple meals on each round trip, as well as related costs such as disposable cutlery, napkins, dish washing, airport administrative fees and security charges and local taxes.

Daniel Lebouthillier said the defence department “tries to keep costs to a minimum” when choosing items from a catering company’s menu. But the department’s options are “sometimes quite limited” when dealing with caterers at overseas airports.

Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian PressPrime Minister Justin Trudeau departs after attending the G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey on Monday, November 16, 2015., en route to the APEC Summit in the Philippines. The government has revealed, in response to a written question by the Conservatives, that the cost of food and beverages supplied aboard a government Airbus used for the trips amounted to just over $1,300 per person.

The total also includes the cost of feeding and watering journalists who covered the trip, which would have been wholly or partially recovered since media outlets pay hefty fees for a seat on the prime minister’s plane.

Given the number of legs in each of the lengthy trips and the number of meals served, the Prime Minister’s Office said the cost actually works out to $54 per person for each meal — which compares favourably to the $41.70 per person the previous Conservative government acknowledged spending in 2009 on meals during trips on Challenger jets, smaller air craft which are used only for short-haul flights within Canada and occasionally the United States.

Calkins was not mollified by the explanation.

More than $1,000 for food and beverages per passenger per trip “is more than the average Canadian earns in two weeks,” he said.

“Again, I’m just not sure anybody’s minding the store when it comes to remembering that it’s taxpayers who are on the hook for all these things.”

Calkins said the meal tab is part of a “pattern” of excessive spending by the Trudeau government, which has been plagued for weeks by the disclosure of generous expenses claimed by political staffers, including the prime minister’s top two aides, for relocating to Ottawa and by ministers for limousine and photographers’ services.

Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian PressTrudeau arrives in Manila, Philippines on Tuesday, November 17, 2015, to attend the APEC Summit. The Prime Minister’s Office said the cost actually works out to $54 per person for each meal — which compares favourably to the $41.70 per person the previous Conservative government acknowledged spending in 2009 on meals during trips on Challenger jets.

Some of those expenses, including a portion of the Trudeau aides’ moving expenses, have been reimbursed.

The latest disclosure shows that $72,040 was spent on food and beverages for 55 passengers — including almost two dozen journalists — aboard the prime ministerial plane during a trip to Turkey and the Philippines last November for a G20 summit and an APEC leaders’ summit.

Another $81,383 was spent on food and drink for 62 passengers — including more than a dozen journalists — aboard the prime minister’s plane for a trip later the same month to London, where Trudeau met the Queen, Malta, where he attended a Commonwealth summit, and Paris, where he participated in a United Nations climate change conference.

For security reasons, the prime minister is required to fly only on a government plane, even for purely personal trips.

By Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

Delta holds fentanyl forums to warn community of the deadly drug

BY TIFFANY CRAWFORD

In response to the fentanyl health crisis in B.C., two forums are being held in Delta this week to educate the community about the dangerous synthetic opiate showing up in a variety of street drugs.

The first of two fentanyl forums, hosted by police, city officials and the school district, will take place tonight at 6 p.m. at the South Delta secondary school. The second forum will be held Thursday, also at 6 p.m., at North Delta secondary school.

Delta police say speakers will discuss a range of topics including what fentanyl is, why it’s dangerous, how prevalent it is, and how it can affect recreational users and their families. Members of the community can also ask the speakers questions.

Two weeks ago, a group of nine friends overdosed within 20 minutes in Delta after snorting cocaine believed to be laced with fentanyl. They all survived after paramedics administered the opioid antidote naloxone.

Police believe the 20-something revellers were casual cocaine users and not habituated opiate users.

Delta police chief Const. Neil Dubord has said despite the ongoing fentanyl warnings, many drug users still appear to be unprepared to deal with opioids like fentanyl or W-18 in the drugs they are using.

Delta’s forums are part of a massive provincewide effort to stem the increasing number of deaths from overdosing on drugs tainted with fentanyl. In July, the B.C. government announced it was creating a task force, headed by provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall, to combat the rise in overdoses.

In April, Kendall declared a public health emergency after 201 overdose deaths in the first three months of 2016. Despite efforts to curb the rising death toll with the increased distribution of naloxone, 371 fatal illicit-drug overdoses had been recorded by June 30, with the synthetic opioid fentanyl detected in 60 per cent of cases, according to B.C. Coroners Service data.

If Canada Post finds it too hard or costly to deliver mail, let someone else do it

By Andrew Coyne

The job of a post office, one might reasonably suppose, is to deliver the mail. That was surely somewhere in the vicinity of what those who established it had in mind, or they wouldn’t have put “post” in the name. The 1981 Canada Post Corporation Act sets out as its primary objective “to establish and operate a postal service.”

And yet, although it now charges a minimum 85 cents per letter — five times as much as in 1981 — and maintains about 64,000 employees on its payroll, the post office seems increasingly unwilling to do the job for which it was established, the job that it alone is allowed to do: deliver the mail.

This is not new. The decline has been going on for decades. Saturday delivery was the first to go. The overnight delivery standard was next: as of 1986, two days within the same city was acceptable. Over much of the country, in the years that followed, home delivery was eliminated in favour of community mailboxes. In effect, much of the public now deliver the mail to themselves.

You would think, then, that it would be a matter of some urgency to the post office’s political masters to somehow cajole it into doing the job we pay it to do. Yet whenever Canada Post comes in for one of its periodic public reviews, the focus is always the same: not, how can we improve mail service for Canadians, but how can we make life easier for Canada Post?

The latest report, from a panel headed by former broadcasting executive Françoise Bertrand, is no different. Thought it comes with the usual rah-rah about “transformational change” and “hard choices,” the options it presents amount to doing less, charging more or both. If Canada Post won’t deliver the mail, officialdom’s answer is that no one should get it — or that they should get it on alternate days, or should pay an extra annual home delivery fee, or should bloody well go and get it themselves.

Never having known any alternative to Canada Post — unable even to imagine an alternative — we are too prone to accept this logic. To be sure, Canada Post’s finances are in a dire state, notably its $8-billion pension deficit. Given the costs of restoring home delivery — another $1.2 billion annually, according to the panel — it sounds hard-headed and businesslike to say it has to go. Two-thirds of the country already uses community mailboxes; why shouldn’t the other third have to suffer the same fate?

But this has the issue back to front. The point is not to make the level of service contingent on Canada Post’s finances, nor is it the job of the post office’s customers to serve the needs of Canada Post. If Canada Post finds it too hard or tiresome or costly to deliver the mail, the only sensible response is to let someone else do it. Between the false alternatives of shutting down service or handing the keys to the treasury to the postal workers, there is a third: open the mail to competition, as many other countries have done.

This may puzzle some readers. Isn’t there already competition? What are all those private courier companies about? But the competition in this case is between two different sorts of business. By law (Section 14 of the Canada Post Corporation Act) Canada Post possesses the “exclusive privilege” to carry letter mail. Competitors are permitted to carry letters of “an urgent nature” — but not for less than three times the price of a stamp.

This never made much sense, and makes even less sense now. If people are willing to pay someone else to deliver the mail that Canada Post won’t, why should they be prevented from doing so? Why on Earth are we still protecting Canada Post’s monopoly on a service it refuses to provide?

National Post

Surrey RCMP host fall Neighbourhood Safety Meetings

This fall, the Surrey RCMP will continue to host Neighbourhood Safety Meetings to provide residents with the information they need on crime and nuisance issues to enhance the livability of their communities.

These Neighbourhood Safety Meetings provide residents with information on localized crime trends, current policing initiatives, and how to engage with police in crime prevention and report crime and suspicious activity. The meetings will be hosted by senior Surrey RCMP officers and attended by Youth Unit and Community Response Unit (CRU) officers as well as city officials. Pre-registration is not required.

Neighbourhood Safety Meetings:

  • City Centre, Guildford, Fleetwood
    September 20th at 6:30pm (doors open at 6:00pm)
    Kirkbride Elementary (12150 and 92nd Ave)
  • Newton, Cloverdale, South Surrey
    October 13th at 6:30pm (doors open at 6:00pm)
    Woodward Hill Elementary (6082 142nd Street)

The Surrey RCMP also has plans for a number of other initiatives to engage with the community and youth this fall.

The detachment is launching its annual Youth and Citizen Police Academies next week (September 14) with 52 participants who were selected over the summer. This eight week interactive learning series aims to better foster understanding between Surrey citizens and the RCMP and give the participants a glimpse at the world of policing.

In addition, the Surrey RCMP will be continuing a number of youth engagement initiatives in local schools this fall including the WRAP program, Code Blue after school fitness program, high fives at elementary schools, and End-Gang Life presentations with CFSEU-BC. These early intervention activities gives kids a chance to talk to police officers in a positive environment and are key to preventing them from being lured into a criminal lifestyle with negative, and potentially fatal, consequences.

In October, the Surrey RCMP will also be hosting a large Community Safety Forum that will provide parents with online safety information to keep their children safe on the internet. More information and details will be released on this forum in the coming weeks.

The Surrey RCMP is committed to providing a multifaceted approach to addressing public safety concerns, says Surrey RCMP Superintendent Shawn Gill, Community Services Officer. A key component of our strategy is working together with the community on a number of enforcement, prevention, and intervention efforts aimed at supporting children, youth, and families.

This past summer, the Surrey RCMP was involved in a number of community engagement initiatives. Our new Community Engagement Teams attended approximately 50 events and engaged with over 14,000 people at various locations around the city. The teams are part of the detachment’s effort to increase positive connections with young people and families. The Surrey RCMP’s Parent Help Line (604-599-7800) also received 38 calls over the summer from parents with concerns about their children’s involvement in illegal activities.

The newly expanded Surrey RCMP Diversity Unit delivered over 40 presentations to over 2,000 residents, many who were refugees or newcomers to Canada. The presentations focused on dispelling any misinformation or misunderstanding about police that may have been acquired from their homeland or peer groups and has led to additional forums being planned in multiple languages.

The Surrey RCMP’s Bike Unit was also busy this summer making over 100 arrests for a variety of property and nuisance offences as well as taking those in custody with multiple outstanding warrants. The Unit also provided a visual police presence throughout the city and attended a number of community events.
Committed to serving the Community
Your Surrey RCMP is committed to providing a sensitive, responsive, professional policing service for all Surrey communities. For more information about Surrey RCMP Programs & Services, how to Protect Yourself, or our latest News Releases visit www.surrey.rcmp.ca.

Male Stabbed at Bar

Surrey:  RCMP in Surrey are investigating a stabbing that took place at a local bar.

On 2016-06-26 at approximately 1:15 A.M., Surrey R.C.M.P. received a call from staff of the Taphouse Bar in the 15300 Block of 102A Ave., Surrey, B.C., reporting that one of their staff was involved in an altercation with a person at the front door, and had stabbed their staff member. The suspect male had fled the scene in a vehicle. Members of the Surrey R.C.M.P. attended to the location and located the victim at the front door of the bar, suffering from stab wounds to his neck. The victim male was transported to hospital by B.C. Ambulance. Members of the Surrey began gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses to the stabbing

The suspect is described as a Caucasian male, approximately 5′ 10″ tall, with dark hair, wearing a light coloured shirt and dark pants. The suspect male got into the rear seat of a white coloured Mercedes sedan that drove away from the front door, of the bar. The White Mercedes Sedan was last seen heading east bound on 102nd Ave., Surrey, B.C. driving away from the scene.

Surrey R.C.M.P. are seeking the public’s assistance and asking anyone that may have witnessed the incident at the front door of the Taphouse Bar, or observed the white Mercedes Sedan either arriving at the bar, or leaving are asked to call the Surrey R.C.M.P. at 604-599-0502 or to call Crime Stoppers.