Kitimat chemo clinic closes for up to a year, staff shortages across the Northwest hampering cancer treatment

The Kitimat General Hospital Chemotherapy Clinic will be closed for the next nine to twelve months due to staff shortages and a proposed restructuring of cancer care across the northwest, Northern Health tells Northwest Coast Energy News.

northernhealth100Contrary to local rumour that the complete oncology clinic had closed, other aspects of the cancer clinic will continue to operate, according to Dr. Jaco Fourie, the Terrace-based medical lead for Northern Health oncology. Other cancer care procedures including blood work and other tests and local care by trained general partictioners will continue in Kitimat for the next year.

Dr. Fourie said that the chemotherapy clinic at Kitimat General actually closed about three months ago when the oncology nurse left due to health reasons. Kitimat patients are generally treated in Terrace or Prince George and sometimes in Prince Rupert or Smithers. Sources in Kitimat’s medical community says that in the spring a nurse would drive to Kitimat from Terrace for some chemotherapy procedures but that nurse is now not available.

Dr. Fourie said that staff shortages are a chronic problem in cancer care across Northwestern BC. Last week chemo procedures in Terrace had to be postponed or transferred due to a staffing problem at Mills Memorial Hospital.

Two sources on District of Kitimat Council confirmed to Northwest Coast Energy News that council has been discussing the problem of the chemotherapy clinic privately for the last couple of weeks and have requested a meeting with Northern Health in early September.

In the Northwest, the problem is that with just one oncology nurse in many locations qualified to administer chemotherapy, there is no back up in case that nurse is not available. As well, to maintain qualifications the nurses have to administer a minimum number of procedures and in some cases re-qualify as procedures are changed and updated.

The work pressure due to staff shortages is also intense across the northwest and many staff leave the northwest due to burn out, Dr. Fourie said.

Northern Health is now working on a new system where there would be at least three nurses in each location, one full time, one part time and one casual who could be on call. Some of those nurses would likely also have to work in other fields of medicine.

District of Kitimat and local medical sources say that the call for two nurses to be available is part of a province wide plan to upgrade cancer care and bring the northwest practices closer to the system used in the Lower Mainland and across Canada.

Dr. Fourie said that Northern Health is studying the cancer care situation in the northwest and will issue a report in the coming months.

At least one Kitimat medical source questioned the need for two nurses, especially given the problem of attracting staff to the region, noting that using one nurse has worked well for years (when staff was available). The source added that one oncology nurse in Kitimat would be better than none if the province insisted on having two or none at all.

The source also questioned the safety of sending chemotherapy patients to Terrace, especially during the winter months, given that for those without access to drivers, public transportation is not always an option to get to appointments in Terrace and back to Kitimat.

Dr. Fourie noted that Northern Health is concerned about the situation in Kitimat with a possible growing population if industrial development goes ahead and is looking at expansion of services in the District to meet those growing needs.

District of Kitimat calls for plebiscite on the Northern Gateway project

Phil Germuth
Councillor Phil Germuth listens as District of Kitimat Council debates his motion that would have required Enbridge to enhance monitoring of leaks on the pipeline in the Kitimat watershed. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

District of Kitimat Council voted Monday night to hold a plebiscite on whether or not the community supports the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway project.

District council and staff will decide the actual question for voters and the date for the plebiscite in the coming couple of weeks.

A staff report described a plebiscite as “a non-binding form of referendum,” as defined by the BC Local Government Act.

The council decision comes after the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel released its decision on December 16, that approved the pipeline and tanker project along with 209 conditions.

After the release of the Joint Review decision, the District of Kitimat issued a news release saying, “Kitimat Council has taken a neutral stance with respect to Northern Gateway. Council will take the necessary time to review the report in order to understand the content and reasons for the decision.”

On January 16, 2012 the council adopted a resolution “that after the completion of the JRP process, the District of Kitimat survey the residents of Kitimat regarding their opinion on the Enbridge Northern Gateway project.” After the JRP decision, the District reaffrimed that it would “undertake a survey of Kitimat residents to determine their opinions of the project now that the JRP has concluded its process.”

District staff had recommended hiring an independent polling firm to conduct the survey, pointing to a pollster’s ability to craft the appropriate questions and provide quick results.

Council quickly shot down the idea. A motion by Councillor Mario Feldhoff to use a polling firm did not get a seconder.

Councillor Rob Goffinet, who made the motion for the plebiscite, noted that even as a politician he doesn’t answer phone calls from unknown numbers. He said, “People do not want a pollster to phone them and do a check list how do you feel on a project. How can we be assured if someone in or out of their home will answer a call from a pollster? I would give total responsibility to every adult citizen of Kitimat who has a point of view to express it in a yes or no ballot.”

Councillor Phil Germuth added, “Those are the same companies that went out prior to the last provincial election and said one party was going to wipe it out and we know what happened there.” Germuth was referring to BC Premier Christy Clark’s come from behind majority victory which was not predicted in the polls.

Germuth told the meeting he believed an unbiased question could be posed in the form of a referendum on the Northern Gateway project. “I have full confidence in our staff that they will be able, along with some assistance from council, to develop questions that are not going to appear biased. It should be very simple, yes means yes, no means no.”

Councillor Mario Feldhoff, who earlier in the evening had, for the first time, declared that he is in favour of the Northern Gateway project, told council that he preferred using a polling firm because it could come back with a “statistically significant” result.

Council voted six to one in favour of the plebiscite. The lone dissenter was Councillor Edwin Empinado who told his colleagues that a mail-in ballot, another of the options presented by staff, would be more inclusive.  Empinado said he was concerned that a plebiscite would mean a low voter turnout.

Warren Waycheshen, the district’s deputy chief administrative officer, told council that the plebiscite would have to be held under the provisions of BC’s Local Government Act which covers elections and referenda, but with the plebiscite the council would have more flexibility in deciding how the vote would take place. The act would still cover such things as who was eligible to vote and the use of campaign signs.

Mario Feldhoff
Councillor Mario Feldhoff reads a statement at council, supporting the findings of the Joint Review panel on the Northern Gateway project. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

The neutrality that council had maintained for at least the previous three years began to break down during Monday’s meeting meeting when Germuth proposed a motion that would have required Enbridge to install within Kitimat’s jurisdiction a detection system capable of locating small volumes of leakage from the pipeline, a measure that is likely beyond the recommendations of the JRP decision.

It was then that Feldhoff became the first Kitimat councillor to actually declare for or against the Northern Gateway, telling council, saying he agreed with the JRP, “The overall risk was manageable and the project was in Canada’s interest. On the whole I am in favour of the conditions and recommendations of the JRP… Not only am I a District of Kitimat Councillor, I am a Canadian. To my mind, opposition to the JRP Northern Gateway report at this stage is yet another case of NIMBY-ism, not in my backyard.”

In the end, at Feldhoff’s urging, the council modified the original motion, so that it called on the District to meet with Enbridge to discuss an enhanced pipeline leak detection system where a leak could “impact the Kitimat watershed.”

It’s not clear what Council will do with the result of the plebiscite, since it is “non-binding.”

 In the past two years, Terrace, Prince Rupert and Smithers councils, together with Kitimat Stikine Regional District and the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District, all voted to oppose Northern Gateway. Those were all council votes, taken without surveying local opinion.

Most of the decisions are in the hands of the federal government which has 180 days from the release of the JRP report to approve the project.

 

Joint Review Panel confirms closing arguments to begin in Terrace June 17

The Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel has confirmed that final, closing arguments for the controversial Enbridge pipeline project will take place in Terrace for approximately two weeks, beginning on Monday, June 17, 2013.

The Panel says the purpose of closing arugments is to provide Parties Northern Gateway, intervenors, and government participants the opportunity to:

    • tell the Panel their views and opinions about the Project including whether Parties believe it is in the public interest;
    • persuade the Panel to recommend approval or denial of the Project;
    • make their case about the relevance and weight of any evidence on the Panel’s public registry;
    • discuss the merits of conditions that the Panel might place on any Certificate that may be issued for the Project;
    • suggest additional conditions should the Project be approved

.

As is common with National Energy Board and Joint Reivew procedures, final arguments argument should be in writing, followed by oral responses. Only one arugment document is permitted.

The written final arguments must be based on JRP evidence that is on the public record. No one can introduce new evidence in either the written argument or in their oral response.

The “aids to cross-examination” used during the questioning phase of the final
hearings cannot be used unless they were admitted onto the record by the Panel as evidence.
However a witness’ answer to questions given when an aid was used is evidence and can be
relied upon.

The absolute deadline for filing the written arugment is noon Pacific Time (1:00 pm Mountain
Time) on 31 May 2013.

Participants can take part either in the hearing room or remotely via a conferencing system.

A party of the proceeding cannot make an oral argument unless they have filed a written arugment.

The purpose of the oral argument is to let one party respond orally to the written argument filed by others. A party may also respond to the Oral Argument of other Parties who have presented Oral Argument before them and whose arguments they disagree with.

Participants are expected to have read in advance all the written arguments they may wish to challenge and are restricted from repeating arguments made by others but are allowed to indicate they agree with the earlier argument.

Top Down Bottom Up

There are very specific rules for how the closing arguments will proceed, which the JRP calls “Top Down Bottom Up”

In order to allow all Parties to respond to all of the Oral Arguments of other Parties, they will be given two opportunities to provide Oral Argument in what is referred to as a “Top Down –Bottom Up” process….

During either the Top Down or Bottom Up portion, parties may simply state that they adopt the position of specific parties who have gone before them.

In the Top Down portion, Northern Gateway will first provide its Oral Argument in response to the Written Argument of other Parties. This will be followed by the Oral Argument of intervenors and government participants in the order set out in the Order of Appearances (alphabetically, A-Z). During the Top Down, Parties will respond to the Written Argument of Parties they are opposed to as well as the Oral Argument of those who have argued before them.

Intervenors and government participants will have up to one (1) hour each to provide their Oral Argument. Since Northern Gateway has the burden of proving its case and will be responding to all other Parties, it will have up to two (2) hours for its Oral Argument.

After the Top Down Oral Argument, Parties will have the opportunity to very briefly reply to any new matters that were raised in the Oral Argument of other Parties who presented after them. This will proceed in a Bottom Up format where the Panel will start at the bottom of the Order of Appearances and proceed up from there (alphabetically, Z-A), ending with Northern Gateway.

During the Bottom Up Oral Argument, Parties can only reply to new matters that arose in Oral Argument after they presented their Oral Argument. For this reason, the Bottom Up Oral Argument should be very brief. Parties who do not have any reply comments specifically related to arguments they have not had the opportunity to address should not provide Bottom Up Oral Argument.

The tsunami, Twitter and the Zones: Did social media amplify government generated confusion?

Kitimat, BC and New York City had one thing in common this week, the misuse and use of social media, Twitter and Facebook, that spread both accurate warnings and dangerous misinformation about an impending disaster. In the case of New York and the surrounding area, it was Superstorm Sandy that caused widespread devastation. For Kitimat it was the tsunami warning after the 7.7 earthquake off Haida Gwaii and no damage but a lot of worry for residents.

New York has a population of millions, it is the media centre for the United States, and much of the U.S. Northeast coast is still recovering from the horrendous damage from Superstorm Sandy.
Kitimat has a population of about 8,000 and my home town is off the media radar except when the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline issue pops up on the national assignment desks. If the October 27, 2012 tsunami from the Haida Gwaii earthquake did come up Douglas Channel to Kitimat harbour, it was so minimal that any water rise was scarcely noticed.

In one way New York (the state and the city) plus New Jersey and other states were ahead of Kitimat. In the US, there were numerous official sources on Twitter and Facebook, as well as those ubiquitous live TV news conferences with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg or various state governors.

On October 27, neither Kitimat nor the nearby town of Terrace had any official emergency outlets on social media. In Kitimat, that may change as early as this Monday when District Council considers what happened last Saturday night.

It has been documented that there was no official response from Emergency Management British Columbia (still largely known under its former name Provincial Emergency Program) until an hour after the first earthquake report from the US Geological Survey. Only sometime later did BC’s provincial emergency officials hold a short conference call with reporters. (At the time the BC Liberals were holding a policy convention at Whistler. After the conference call, TV reporters at the convention in Whistler were doing live reports with taped clips of Attorney General Shirley Bond. It should have been easy for Bond and other senior government officials, including Premier Christy Clark–who is plummeting the polls– to hold a live news conference just as US state governors and mayors did later in the week when it came to Superstorm Sandy)

So in that hour of silence from the BC government, one question that has to be raised is: Were the tsunami warnings so completely uncoordinated–at least as far as the public is concerned– that that was one cause of the misinformation and inaccurate information on Twitter and Facebook? Or did confusing information from authorities simply compound and amplify the social media misinformation that was already spreading across British Columbia and around the world?

Here in the northwest, the two area fire chiefs Trent Bossence of Kitimat and John Klie of Terrace have said after the quake that landline phones and some cell phones were out, in some areas up to an hour after the first shock. Klie told CFTK’s Tyler Noble on Open Connection that after the landline phones came back up the Terrace fire department was flooded with calls from people “who wanted it now.” The ability of firefighters to get information was then delayed “because so many people were trying to get through.”

Kitimat has the advantage of being a small town. Emergency services already had scheduled a volunteer recruiting session last Monday night (October 29) for Emergency Social Services–the folks who run, coordinate and work in reception centres during an emergency–so it was easy to turn that meeting into a earthquake/tsunami warning post mortem. (Imagine that happening in New York?)

The most important issue on Saturday night was the false information on both Facebook and Twitter that the Kildala neighbourhood was being evacuated due to the tsunami warning. Other false information on social media indicated that the giant Bechtel work camp at the Rio Tinto Alcan Kitimat Modernization Project was also being evacuated.

As Kitimat’s Emergency Plan Coordinator Bob McLeod told the earthquake post mortem about the information on Facebook and Twitter:

Kitimat Emergency Coordinator Bob McLeod
Kitimat Emergency Coordinator Bob McLeod at the earthquake postmortem Oct. 29, 2012 (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

“Your aim is to be saving people, and you’re not saving people. There was one case where someone was going around banging on doors in Kildala, telling them to get out. I think it was over when he was in the lockup that night. But this is the type of foolishness that goes on. You have people going on Facebook saying ‘Alcan’s been evacuated. they’re evacuating Kildala.’ I am going to be generous and say it is misinformation… It was a blatant lie. And that does not help.”

 

 

(For those outside Kitimat you can check the town on Google maps) As seen on this screen grab, Kildala is a low lying part of town. The area north of  Highway 37 is higher on a hill. Closer to the ocean at Douglas Channel are the Bechtel/RTA Kitimat Modernization Project work camps.

Map of Kitimat

Walter McFarlane of the Kitimat Daily recounted his experiences at the post mortem. (We were both at a Haisla dinner at Kitamaat Village when the quake struck. See my earlier story here and McFarlane’s Kitimat Daily story here).

After driving from the village to the town, McFarlane told the meeting that he stopped at the town viewpoint where “people were telling me they had already been evacuated out of the Kildala neighbourhood, so my first stop after that was the fire department.” The fire hall is about a couple of blocks from the viewpoint, so it was easy to get accurate information from the fire department.

McFarlane continued, “I found the night of the earthquake that no information is just as bad as wrong information. People were calling me on my cell saying why does the Kitimat Daily say we have to evacuate.” That is because the Daily republished a warning from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre that “said tsunami warning, evacuation for the north coast. People were saying we’re on the north coast, we got to go.”

I was about fifteen to twenty minutes behind McFarlane in reaching town. (I did not leave Kitamaat Village until after we heard the first tsunami warning.)  As soon as I got to back in cell  range, my cell phone started to beep with saved messages from my TV and radio news clients calling for information. When I got to my home office, my landline was still dead and would be for about another twenty minutes. The only source of information at that point was Google News, Facebook and Twitter.

I saw the initial, and it turns out general, warning from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Soon I was also getting what I hoped was more specific information  on my marine radio from the Canadian Coast Guard Prince Rupert communications station.

But that, too was somewhat confusing. That Coast Guard advisory mentioned various zones, for example, Zone A and Zone B, but there was little specific context and that point I had no idea what Zone A meant. Prince Rupert Coast Guard Radio then went on to say evacuate low lying coastal areas. (transcript below)

With that confusion, and mindful of “when in doubt, leave it out,” I did not mention the zone system in any information I posted on Facebook and Twitter that night. I only retweeted official information or tweets from reporters I knew and trusted (and I did not see any tweeted official information from the province with a link to the page that identifies the official tsunami zones)

From the interview on CFTK, it appears that both the Kitimat and Terrace fire departments were also getting inadequate information.

“We went to our normal place to look EM BC (Emergency Management BC) and there was nothing there,so we went to Plan B to get information and went on from there,” Bossence told Tyler Noble.

Klie said: “We struggle with that every disaster big or small. Social media, I think emergency organizations are trying to tap into more and more. Up north we may be a little behind the eight ball but sure enough Twitter and Facebook information is out there instantly. Looking at Facebook with my son, I saw that they were evacuating whole cities and I knew that was not true. Because of my experience I can filter some of the information, but there is so much information out there that it’s hard to filter what’s real and not real. It’s an area where emergency coordinators have to get into because its the fastest way of getting information out.”

“Once the phone system came back online at the Fire Hall we got a flood of phone calls,” Bossence told CFTK, “it was nonstop and it was people wanting to know. ‘What’s going on? What are we going to do? Are we leaving?’ and they’re giving us ‘This is what is what I’m reading, this is what I’m being texted, on Facebook they’re saying we’re supposed to evacuate’ adding to that we had an individual going around claiming he was a fire department, he was going door to door and telling people to evacuate. That was the added issue we had to deal with. It was definitely misinformation and a sense of urgency that was coming out through the social network (and eventually the media) was big problem for us.”

In Kitimat, I was told about the man going door to door with inaccurate information and as soon as I confirmed it with reliable official sources, I posted that on both Twitter and Facebook, emphasizing there was, at that time, no evacuation order.

But every situation is different. In contrast, in Superstorm Sandy, another story about men going door to door in Williamsburg, a section of Brooklyn  was not true, as can be seen in an article summing problems with Twitter in New York, where Jared Keller of Bloomberg reported

I experienced this firsthand during Hurricane Sandy. After retweeting a message warning about muggers in Williamsburg dressed as Con Ed workers as an experiment, I received two sceptical responses checking the claim within 15 minutes, both from people who work in the media industry and spend a significant amount of time on Twitter. Within an hour, I received a mass text message from friends of mine who aren’t completely plugged into the social Web with the same warning: “I just read a news alert of two separate reports of people posing as coned workers, knocking on people’s door and robbing them at gunpoint in Williamsburg. I just want to pass along the info. Stay safe and maybe don’t answer your door.” Two other friends responded with thanks.

Keller goes on to stay “I know a lot of people, especially on Facebook, who end up believing whatever they see first,” says Kate Gardiner, a social media journalist. “It’s almost impossible to track something back to its point of origin there.”

You can read Keller’s complete article How Truth and Lies Spread on Twitter  here.

See also How to Tweet Responsibly During a Breaking-News Event by Garance Franke-Ruta  a senior editor at The Atlantic

With the earthquake and tsunami warning Saturday night, Twitter misinformation spread internationally. The first hashtag I saw was #bcquake, but as the the tsunami warning gained traction (especially after the warning was extended from BC and Alaska to Washington, Oregon and California and then to Hawaii) the more common hashtag #tsunami became prominent. As people outside BC began tweeting, they began using #Canadaquake and soon #prayforcanada also began to trend. Completely inaccurate information spread on #prayforcanada (believed to have originated in Indonesia) that it was Vancouver, not the north coast that had been hit by the 7.7 magnitude earthquake.

Are you in the Zone?

At this point, one question has to be asked. The spread of information, first the well-intended but wrong, second just rumour and third, the deliberately misleading, has been seen in social media not only during the earthquake and tsunami on the West Coast last weekend, and during Superstorm Sandy on the East Coast but all the way back to the 2004 Christmas tsunami in Southeast Asia.

For the west coast in 2012, however, how much of the problem of misinformation on social media during the earthquake and tsunami warning was the fault of confusing information from the authorities? Just how were people going to interpret such general terms as “north coast” and “low lying areas.”?

From the BC Provincial Emergency Program you have to ask “What is Zone A?” It turns out by checking a day or so later that the province of British Columbia has created Tsunami Identification Zones.

Emergency Management Tsunami Zones
Before October 27, it is likely no one outside of the provincial bureaucracy had ever heard of the provincial tsunami zones. At that time no one in BC, either on Twitter or Facebook or through the media was identifying the BC Tsunami Zones for the public. Later on, the television networks put up maps showing Zones A and B —but that was only good if you had power and were watching the right channel. Kitimat Daily and Terrace Daily posted an official update at 10:42 long after the danger was past explaining the Zone system. It was no good at all if you were listening to news reports on radio or to Prince Rupert Coast Guard Radio on a fishing boat and had no access to the actual maps.

Compounding the confusion is that the US system appears to be very different from the Canadian.

Also the US system has two levels of warning. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center sends out general warnings but hands over for a more specific warning map from the Alaska -based West Coast and Alaska Pacific Tsunami warning centre. It uses its own system of lettered and numbered zones for the west coast of North America. (See the Oct 27 tsunami advisory here  Note it is a Google maps plugin.)

 

Alaska BC tsunami warning map
Possibly adding to uncertainty for those who sail the coast of British Columbia, is that usually when the Canadian Coast Guard talks about zones on marine radio, it is talking about the fishing zones as defined by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which are numbered not lettered 

 

DFO Management areas
Fisheries management zones as defined by the Department of Fisheries and Oceams (DFO)

 

So in case of a tsunami warning, Kitimat is in Zone B for the province of British Columbia and the Provincial Emergency Program and in Zone BZ921 for the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Centre. For the much more familiar fisheries management areas Kitimat is in Zone 6 (which of course has nothing to do with a tsunami, it’s simply the coastal zone system everyone is familiar with)

Tsunami warning map
Adding to the confusion is the fact that the EM British Columbia map shows Terrace, far inland up the Skeena River is considered in Zone A, along with Prince Rupert for tsunami warnings (if a tsunami was big enough to reach Terrace along the Skeena River valley, then I can only assume that much of the west coast of North America would have already been wiped out).

Tsunami Zone A

 

The Monday Post mortem

Warning brochuresAt the Monday, October 29 post mortem, when McLeod outlined the events of October 27, he began by looking back three weeks, saying, “I have feeling of frustration about a couple of things. October 7, I took 4,000 brochures [How Prepared Are you if Disaster Strikes?] down to the post office to mail out to the residents of Kitimat, They were all delivered by the post office. On Sunday, I had people coming to me and saying what are we supposed to do in the case of an earthquake? It is really, really difficult to get people interested.”

McLeod said that after he felt the earthquake, he went online to check information and then went up to the fire hall, which is Kitimat’s emergency coordination centre. There he met Fire Chief Bossence, his deputy, the RCMP detachment commander Staff Sergeant Steve Corp and representatives from Bechtel and the Rio Tinto Alcan modernization project.

“For the first little while we were going on line trying to get information. The usual method of dissemination getting information it comes from the West coast and Alaska tsunami warning system, then it goes to Victoria, Victoria gives it to the geophysical specialists and they will confirm or deny what ever the information and then it goes to the Provincial Emergency Program and they shoot it out to coastal communities.

“While in this case you’re working with what you find out from different sources and you are trying to determine how reliable these sources are.”

“In our case, for me the first thing you do when you get word of an impending tidal wave [tsunami] action is check the tide. If you’re on a high tide, it’s a different situation than a low tide

“The movie version of a tidal wave is this 50 foot mountain of water roaring along and this is not what is going to happen particularly in Douglas Channel because of the depth. So you are going to see a surge such as we saw in Japan and it will be an increasing surge of water.

“We were told that potentially some sort of surge hitting Langara  [the northern most island in Haida Gwaii) at 9:16, 9:16 came and went and there was no notification of a noticeable surge of water. So were down to a non event and we were on a receding tide.” (See advisory below)

“Misinformation going out is not helpful,” McLeod said. “You’ve got to set up a stream of how you get information out to people and it’s a valid point. The District Website, the Facebook page, something like that can get information out. But again if you lose power where do get it? Text can work even locally with cell phones. if you’re in a dead area with a cell phone, you can still get text”

McLeod then asked the audience, mainly people ranging from their thirties to seventies if they text. Only four or five people put up their hands. “You people are going to be saved, the rest of us…” McLeod quipped.

If a conclusion can be drawn from the earthquake and tsunami warning in the Kitimat region on October 27, it’s not just that in an emergency inaccurate, incomplete or malicious information can spread a the speed of light on social media, it’s worse that incomplete, inadequate and confusing information from the authorities is amplified and distorted by rapid posting on social media. That concept is not new for anyone who has tried the phone chain game where the outcome is often completely different from the start.

If Gardiner is correct when she says “I know a lot of people, especially on Facebook, who end up believing whatever they see first,” the BC government delays made everything worse. People Tweeted the first thing they saw and the first thing people saw came from multiple and often conflicting sources.  Add that to those Tweets that were exaggeration, rumour and lies.

The problem in 2012 it is not one person talking to one person talking to one person, it is a Tweet or Facebook posting that go out to thousands, or millions of people and that’s a lot more dangerous.

McLeod said the post mortem who said emergency services is trying to get more information out to public, but he added. “The unfortunate part is that if you publish it this week, by Christmas no one will remember. If you start throwing it out every week, it becomes like a stop sign at the end of the street. Nobody sees it.”

(Coming next. If Kitimat had to evacuate)

Transcript of Prince Rupert Coast Guard Radio tsunami warning.

Pan pan. Pan pan. This is Prince Rupert Coast Guard Radio, Prince Rupert Coast Guard Radio. Warning for coastal British Columbia issued by Environment Canada on behalf of the British Columbia Provincial Emergency Program at 2057 Pacific Daylight Time Saturday 27 October. Tsunami warning for Zone A, the north coast and Haida Gwaii,Zone B, the central coast and including Bella Coola, Bella Bella and (unintelligible). A tsunami warning has been issued, if you are in a low-lying area coastal area, you are at risk and must move to higher ground or inland now.
Do not return until directed to do so. Closely monitor local radio stations for additional information from local authorities. Please minimize phone use in affected areas, for further information contact the provincial emergency program at website www. papa echo papa period bravo charlie period charlie alpha.Prince Rupert Coast Guard Radio over.

General warning from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre

000
WEPA42 PHEB 280341
TIBPAC

TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 003
PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS
ISSUED AT 0341Z 28 OCT 2012

THIS BULLETIN APPLIES TO AREAS WITHIN AND BORDERING THE PACIFIC
OCEAN AND ADJACENT SEAS…EXCEPT ALASKA…BRITISH COLUMBIA…
WASHINGTON…OREGON AND CALIFORNIA.

… TSUNAMI INFORMATION BULLETIN …

THIS BULLETIN IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY.

THIS BULLETIN IS ISSUED AS ADVICE TO GOVERNMENT AGENCIES. ONLY
NATIONAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE
DECISIONS REGARDING THE OFFICIAL STATE OF ALERT IN THEIR AREA AND
ANY ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN IN RESPONSE.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

ORIGIN TIME – 0304Z 28 OCT 2012
COORDINATES – 52.9 NORTH 131.9 WEST
DEPTH – 10 KM
LOCATION – QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS REGION
MAGNITUDE – 7.7

EVALUATION

NO DESTRUCTIVE WIDESPREAD TSUNAMI THREAT EXISTS BASED ON
HISTORICAL EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI DATA.

HOWEVER – THE WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER HAS
ISSUED A REGIONAL WARNING FOR COASTS LOCATED NEAR THE EARTHQUAKE.
THIS CENTER WILL CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE SITUATION BUT DOES NOT
EXPECT A WIDER THREAT TO OCCUR.

THIS WILL BE THE ONLY BULLETIN ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT UNLESS
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.

THE WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER WILL ISSUE PRODUCTS
FOR ALASKA…BRITISH COLUMBIA…WASHINGTON…OREGON…CALIFORNIA.

A more specific warning from the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Centre

 

WEAK51 PAAQ 280334
TSUAK1

BULLETIN
PUBLIC TSUNAMI MESSAGE NUMBER 2
NWS WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER PALMER AK
834 PM PDT SAT OCT 27 2012

THE MAGNITUDE IS UPDATED TO 7.7. THE WARNING ZONE REMAINS THE
SAME.

…THE TSUNAMI WARNING CONTINUES IN EFFECT FOR THE COASTAL
AREAS OF BRITISH COLUMBIA AND ALASKA FROM THE NORTH TIP OF
VANCOUVER ISLAND BRITISH COLUMBIA TO CAPE DECISION
ALASKA/LOCATED 85 MILES SE OF SITKA/…

…THIS MESSAGE IS INFORMATION ONLY FOR COASTAL AREAS OF
CALIFORNIA – OREGON – WASHINGTON AND BRITISH COLUMBIA FROM
THE CALIFORNIA-MEXICO BORDER TO THE NORTH TIP OF VANCOUVER
ISLAND BRITISH COLUMBIA…

…THIS MESSAGE IS INFORMATION ONLY FOR COASTAL AREAS OF
ALASKA FROM CAPE DECISION ALASKA/LOCATED 85 MILES SE OF
SITKA/ TO ATTU ALASKA…

A TSUNAMI WARNING MEANS… ALL COASTAL RESIDENTS IN THE WARNING
AREA WHO ARE NEAR THE BEACH OR IN LOW-LYING REGIONS SHOULD MOVE
IMMEDIATELY INLAND TO HIGHER GROUND AND AWAY FROM ALL HARBORS AND
INLETS INCLUDING THOSE SHELTERED DIRECTLY FROM THE SEA. THOSE
FEELING THE EARTH SHAKE… SEEING UNUSUAL WAVE ACTION… OR THE
WATER LEVEL RISING OR RECEDING MAY HAVE ONLY A FEW MINUTES BEFORE
THE TSUNAMI ARRIVAL AND SHOULD MOVE IMMEDIATELY. HOMES AND
SMALL BUILDINGS ARE NOT DESIGNED TO WITHSTAND TSUNAMI IMPACTS.
DO NOT STAY IN THESE STRUCTURES.

ALL RESIDENTS WITHIN THE WARNED AREA SHOULD BE ALERT FOR
INSTRUCTIONS BROADCAST FROM THEIR LOCAL CIVIL AUTHORITIES.
EARTHQUAKES OF THIS SIZE ARE KNOWN TO GENERATE TSUNAMIS.

AT 804 PM PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME ON OCTOBER 27 AN EARTHQUAKE WITH
PRELIMINARY MAGNITUDE 7.7 OCCURRED 25 MILES/40 KM SOUTH OF
SANDSPIT BRITISH COLUMBIA.
EARTHQUAKES OF THIS SIZE ARE KNOWN TO GENERATE TSUNAMIS.
IF A TSUNAMI HAS BEEN GENERATED THE WAVES WILL FIRST REACH
LANGARA ISLAND BRITISH COLUMBIA AT 916 PM PDT ON OCTOBER 27.
ESTIMATED TSUNAMI ARRIVAL TIMES AND MAPS ALONG WITH SAFETY RULES
AND OTHER INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND ON THE WEB SITE
WCATWC.ARH.NOAA.GOV.

TSUNAMIS CAN BE DANGEROUS WAVES THAT ARE NOT SURVIVABLE. WAVE
HEIGHTS ARE AMPLIFIED BY IRREGULAR SHORELINE AND ARE DIFFICULT TO
FORECAST. TSUNAMIS OFTEN APPEAR AS A STRONG SURGE AND MAY BE
PRECEDED BY A RECEDING WATER LEVEL. MARINERS IN WATER DEEPER
THAN 600 FEET SHOULD NOT BE AFFECTED BY A TSUNAMI. WAVE HEIGHTS
WILL INCREASE RAPIDLY AS WATER SHALLOWS. TSUNAMIS ARE A SERIES OF
OCEAN WAVES WHICH CAN BE DANGEROUS FOR SEVERAL HOURS AFTER THE
INITIAL WAVE ARRIVAL. DO NOT RETURN TO EVACUATED AREAS UNTIL AN
ALL CLEAR IS GIVEN BY LOCAL CIVIL AUTHORITIES.

PACIFIC COASTAL REGIONS OUTSIDE CALIFORNIA/ OREGON/ WASHINGTON/
BRITISH COLUMBIA AND ALASKA SHOULD REFER TO THE PACIFIC TSUNAMI
WARNING CENTER MESSAGES FOR INFORMATION ON THIS EVENT AT
PTWC.WEATHER.GOV.

THIS MESSAGE WILL BE UPDATED IN 30 MINUTES OR SOONER IF
THE SITUATION WARRANTS. THE TSUNAMI MESSAGE WILL REMAIN
IN EFFECT UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION STAY TUNED
TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO… YOUR LOCAL TV OR RADIO STATIONS… OR SEE
THE WEB SITE WCATWC.ARH.NOAA.GOV.

$$

Did the media over react to the earthquake and tsunami warning?


There were also numerous Tweets on October 27, accusing the media of over reacting. The Haida Gwaii quake was 7.7 magnitude. Compare that to the Haiti earthquake on January 12, 2010 which was 7.0. The Christ Church, New Zealand earthquake on February 27, 2011 which caused major damage was 6.3 magnitude. So the Haida Gwaii earthquake was a major event. The tsunami warning that eventually reached as far off as Hawaii had to be taken seriously.

Fortunately Haida Gwaii is sparsely populated and there was minimal damage largely because most of the houses and buildings are wood and can absorb some of the shaking from an earthquake.

Given the tsunami damage in Southeast Asia in 2004 and in Japan in 2011, no media organization could ignore the developing story.

If there is justifiable criticism, it is that some media over hyped the story in the beginning, rather acting to reassure the public in a responsible manner. But the media that over hyped the earthquake and tsunami are the kind that would over hype any story. That is generally the result of management listening to “TV doctors” and media consultants who urge over hyping to increase ratings. (It often works). But those who,  quite early in the event, who tweeted that the media was overreacting, were themselves guilty of overreaction in their Tweets.

Kitimat-Stikine Regional District votes to oppose Enbridge Northern Gateway

Map Regional District Kitimat Stikine
Map showing the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine (RDKS)

The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine voted on Sept. 14, 2012, to oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. Eight of the twelve Regional District Directors of Kitimat Stikine voted to both to oppose the Northern Gateway project and to support resolutions of the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) on the pipeline.

Telegraph Creek director David Brocklebank, who originally proposed the motion, was supported by Dease Lake alternate director Joey Waite, Terrace municipal directors Dave Pernarowski (mayor) and Bruce Bidgood (councillor), Nass director (and regional district chair) Harry Nyce, Hazelton village mayor Alice Maitland, the Hazeltons and  Kispiox/Kitwanga director Linda Pierre and Diana Penner (who was sitting in for the director Doug McLeod) for the rural area around Terrace and Kitimat.

Brocklebank had proposed the motion at the August meeting. It was tabled to allow for the directors who represent the various regions and municipalities time for consultation.
Voting against were Kitimat municipal director Corinne Scott, New Hazelton mayor Gail Lowry, Thornhill’s Ted Ramsey and Stewart municipal director Billie Ann Belcher.

Scott said she was voting against the motion, continuing the Kitimat council’s position that it remain neutral until the report of the Northern Gateway Joint Review panel. Ramsey also said Thornhill wanted to also remain neutral.

Other directors pointed to what they called the politicization of the Joint Review and how they believed it had been influenced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

While the District of Kitimat remains neutral, the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District, Prince Rupert, Terrace and Smithers have all voted to oppose the Northern Gateway.

Fishing report site calls on anglers to boycott towns, including Kitimat, that don’t stand against Enbridge

The Pacific Northwest Fishing Reports website is calling on anglers to boycott all communities, including Kitimat that haven’t taken an official stand opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

The site run by someone called “Old Jake” covers DFO Region 6 and Region 7a “in an effort to give sport fishing enthusiasts more options when it comes to our wonderful sport.”

Its about page says:

What makes this website unique is that it is not run by professional fishing guides or anyone who profits directly from fishing, we are local sports fishing enthusiasts here simply because we love the sport. Why is this important to you? Because we don’t have to make a sale on our fishing reports.

The boycott notice was first posted by “Old Jake” on March 31, but only came to wider attention in the past weekend when the link was widely circulated among the angling and guiding community  and by environmentalists on social media in northwest BC, some of it in reaction to the oil spill in Sundre, Alberta.

In the post, “Old Jake” says in the introduction:

[T]he deck is really stacked against our pristine lakes and rivers.

Support our boycott on all business in communities which are not willing to protect our environment in hopes of getting a financial handout from Enbridge. Let us send a clear message to communities who don’t respect our environment enough to protect it.

Please do not boycott small fishing businesses that reside outside of any community boundary, because they are as much a victim of those who support oil for greed.

The letter says, in part:

Greetings fellow sport fishing enthusiasts, I am writing this to all of you, all over the world because we desperately need your help on two major fronts, both could permanently extinguish fishing as we know it for our generation and that of our children’s and possibly much longer.

The first and foremost problem is the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project which the Prime Minister of Canada appears to be declaring a project that will go ahead regardless of the National Energy Board Hearings.

The second is Fish Farming, and its unregulated ability to hide scientific facts, its attacks on free speech and attempts to silence those who dare to speak out against them.

First Nations have done their part, they stood up and spoke, all against Enbridge and Alberta’s need to cash in on the horrific oil sands that are killing the Athabasca River, and sending this toxic mess into the Arctic Ocean….

Here is where we have a problem, the cities, towns and villages appear to want it both ways, they want your tourist dollar, and they also any dirty Oil Dollar they can get as well.

We need you; the people of the world to write to the majors of each community and ask them why tourists could come to a community that won’t protect its natural resources. Why should tourists come and spend their money if the leaders of these communities don’t take a stand in protecting our lakes and rivers from the worst threat ever in the history of British Columbia.

Ask these majors (sic probably means mayors) how many people will come to visit if we end up with a mess like they did on the Kalamazoo River.

 

Here is the list, where the author equates opposing Enbridge with supporting the environment

Prince Rupert – Supports our Environment (Visit this great community)
Terrace – Supports our Environment (Visit this great community)
Kitimat – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)
Kitwanga – Supports our Environment (Visit this great community)
Hazelton – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)
Kispiox – Supports our Environment (Visit this great community)
Moricetown – Supports our Environment (Visit this great community)
Smithers – Supports our Environment (Visit this great community)
Telkwa – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)
Houston – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)
Granisle – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)
Burns Lake – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)
Fraser Lake – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)
Vanderhoof – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)
Prince George – Does not support our environment. (Boycott)

BC NDP formally opposes Northern Gateway in letter to Joint Review Panel

The British Columbia New Democratic Party has written to the Northern Gateway Joint Review panel formally opposing the controversial pipeline project, while at the same time supporting the Kitimat LNG projects, as long as there are strong environmental controls on those projects.

Adrian Dix
NDP leader Adrian Dix (BC NDP)

A long letter from NDP leader Adrian Dix to the panel concludes by saying

as the Official Opposition, we have carefully weighed the risks and benefits of the NGP to British Columbia, and to Canada. After much consideration and consultation, we have come to the conclusion that the risks of this project far outweigh its benefits. We believe that the NGP will cause significant adverse economic and environmental effects and is not in the public interest. Therefore the NGP should not be permitted to proceed.

The letter also calls on the federal government to legislate a permanent ban on tankers for the west coast. The letter goes over the history of the Exxon Valdez spill

Eight of 11 cargo tanks were punctured, releasing about 258,000 barrels of crude oil, most of which was lost in the first eight hours. There were widespread ecological and economic impacts….To this day, vital shore habitats remain contaminated, the herring fishery has been closed for 15 seasons since the spill, and herring are not considered recovered. The clean-up costs alone are estimated at $3.7 billion…Wildlife and natural resource damages range from $8.5 billion to as high as $127 billion…. Related to the economic hardship felt by families and communities, a wave of social problems followed – alcoholism, high divorce rates and even suicides swept through the Sound’s small towns….

We simply cannot let this happen in British Columbia: the risk is just too great. Therefore, we are calling on the federal government to legislate a permanent moratorium on oil tankers and oil drilling activity on B.C.’s north coast to ensure the ecological integrity and economic and social vitality of the lands and waters of this unique region.

The letter also takes Premeir Christy Clark to task for not taking a stand on the Northern Gateway Issue

The Government of British Columbia agreed to the Joint Review Panel (JRP) process, limiting its ability to give voice to B.C.’s interests. In addition, the Province did not seek government participant status and has failed to exercise its intervenor status to fully represent the interests of British Columbians.

We note that other government agencies including an Alberta municipality, the Province of Alberta and Alberta’s Transportation Ministry, as well as the federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, Department of Justice, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada have registered as government participants in the JRP.

We also note that the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, and a number of local
governments have passed motions opposing the NGP. These include: the Village of Queen Charlotte, Sandspit, Masset, Port Clements, Prince Rupert, Terrace and Smithers.

As the Official Opposition, we take our responsibility to represent and to protect the interests of British Columbia and British Columbians seriously. We have listened to the concerns and diverse perspectives of constituents throughout the province and we have met with stakeholders and experts about the NGP.

The letter also expresses concern about the fairness of the Joint Review Process

Four New Democrat MLAs are actively participating in the JRP, as intervenors or as presenters. Three of these MLAs represent constituencies that will be directly impacted if the NGP proceeds. The fourth MLA is our environment critic. All of them, like the thousands of other British Columbians who are participating in the JRP, are doing so in good faith.

We are very troubled by statements of the Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources that have caused several commentators and JRP participants to question the objectivity of the process and ask if its outcome is predetermined.

Dix is quick to point out that the New Democrats are not against sustainable economic development.

The importance of sustainable economic development International trade and responsible resource extraction are essential to B.C. and Canada’s economy.

International trade creates good-paying jobs and vital communities. To this end, we are committed to building on our tradition of further developing trade relations with China and other Asia Pacific markets to build a strong B.C. economy.

Further, we have been clear about our support for the Kitimat liquefied natural gas project while emphasizing it comes with the serious responsibility to ensure strong environmental protections. We acknowledge that all resource development and extraction has inherent risks.

Other points in the NDP letter were:

  • The tanker traffic to ship Alberta oil to Asian markets will require lifting of the current tanker moratorium and the Tanker Exclusion Zone, and will put the British Columbia coastline at serious risk of devastating environmental and economic damage from potential oil spills;The NGP will traverse remote and highly valued areas of B.C., and will cross almost 800 streams. The risk of spills from the proposed pipeline will put these valuable
    environments and species, such as salmon, at risk;The impact of an oil leak or spill would be most severely felt by First Nation
    communities. As has been affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada, First Nations must be consulted effectively and be respected on a government-to-government level;• The greenhouse gas emissions generated by NGP-related oil sands development will
    contribute to the economic, social, and environmental costs of climate change;
    The NGP provides few long-term and sustainable economic benefits for British
    Columbia, while shipping raw bitumen forgoes important value-added economic
    development opportunities involving upgrading and refining the oil in Canada;• The NGP is forecast to increase Canadian oil prices for Canadian consumers.

 NDP BC news release 

BC NDP caucus letter to Joint Review Panel (pdf)

NDP BC backgrounder on the Northern Gateway  (pdf)

Government move has “utterly destroyed” JRP, no excuse to wait for final report on Gateway, Cullen says

Nathan Cullen
MP Nathan Cullen makes a point during an NDP leadership campaign stop in Kitimat, Nov. 11. 2011 (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

The Northern Gateway Joint Review process has been “utterly destroyed” by the Conservative government, Skeena Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen told reporters Friday, April 20, adding a warning those who were waiting for the JRP to complete its hearings before making up their minds, “all those people like the premier and others who said there’s a good process in place, that excuse has been ripped away.”

Earlier that week, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver announced that the government that would introduce legislation to “streamline” the review process for major resource developments that would include such provisions as limiting the time and the number of participants and allowing the cabinet to overrule any decision or recommendation from the National Energy Board.

Cullen, who was just named Opposition House Leader, was holding his regular conference call with northwest BC reporters.

He called the changes proposed by the Conservative government for environmental assessment, ”brutal,” adding, “the already weakened rules have become fundamentally more weak.” He said it seems that the government is going to further weaken the role of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in checking environmental impacts.

The bill, which has yet to be tabled in the Commons, will download federal responsibility for the environment to the provinces, which Cullen said could be subject to a constitutional challenge.

On the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway project, which would see twin bitumen and condensate pipelines from Alberta to Kitimat, Cullen said, while the government’s Northern Gateway policy was not mentioned in the news conference or briefing documents, it was buried deep on the website and that indicated “it will not be up to the NEB anymore, they will retroactively apply these new rules it will now become a purely political decision. The prime minister, with all his wisdom, is going to make the final decision on the pipeline, totally undermining the process we are in now across the region.”

(The key bureaucratic phrase actually reads:  “Establish clearer accountability for decisions on major pipeline projects in the national interest by giving government authority to make the “go/no go” decisions, based on the recommendations of the National Energy Board.” )

 

Cullen said he is already hearing that people in the northwest are frustrated and angry by the announcement. “They feel that they’ve been duped and the credibility of the panel has been destroyed by this government. And so all those people like the premier, who said the process was what they were waiting for, that process has now been utterly, utterly, destroyed.”

Cullen was inferring any decision to support or oppose the pipeline is now back in the courts of BC Premier Christy Clark and groups like District of Kitimat Council and Terrace Chamber of Commerce who have, up until now, remained neutral, waiting for the final report from the Joint Review Panel.

The Terrace Chamber of Commerce, for example, said:

We want the objective panel of experts to assess the concerns of affected parties and contrast them with procedures and equipment being positioned to mitigate any and all perceived risks. It is important that all voices are heard and all questions are asked and answered.

“The process was always threatened, a lot of people suspected that Stephen Harper would not accept a ‘no’ when it comes to this pipeline and now that’s been made explicit. And all those people like the premier and others who said there’s a good process in place that excuse has been ripped away,”  Cullen said.

Cullen said he believes that people should still participate in the hearings but the panel now has to justify its existence.

“At the same time.“ Cullen said, “the government has shut down the oil response group in Vancouver and moved it 5,000 kilometres to Quebec, they’ve cut funding on our ability to protect the coast, even after the auditor general has pointed out that the current ability to protect our waters is lacking, so it looks that they are going to do everything and anything to approve this pipeline and put at risk so much of what we care about. It’s a shame but I don’t think it will lessen the resolve of people.”

Cullen called Joe Oliver’s statement that there would be more money for enforcement of environmental regulations a “shell game.”

“They cut they cut $80 million and put back $13 million and tried to pretend that’s an increase.
There is less protection for our ocean environment. At the same time, they’re pushing two major pipelines to the west coast and increasing the risk dramatically. Shutting down the operations in Vancouver, while trying to put a pipeline right into Vancouver, smacks of some sort of hypocrisy or arrogance. I mean they’re claiming budget cuts, but the prime minister is spending more on is own office, and they’re not making a single dollar cut to the F-35, which are in the billions. It’s peanuts they’re pretending to save here and it’s putting very important things at risk in our oceans.”

He expects the bill changing the rules for resource development to be introduced next week. But, Cullen added, that it is clear that government has been planning this for sometime, a fact that further undermines the credibility of the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel. “What the government has just said is, ‘We simply don’t care. We’ve already made up our minds before hearing any testimony.’ I think they’ve made up their minds in advance of this but now it’s obvious that it was always true. You don’t put legislation like this together in a week. The bill that they are going to introduce and the press conference they had last weekend were months in the making. I know how Ottawa works. This has been around for a long time and they knew this for a long time. It’s entirely cynical.”

He expects the government will try and ram the legislation through the House and one of his jobs as NDP and Opposition House leader will be to slow it down.

“I think the very cynical anti-democratic move by the government is only going to increase the number of Canadians that will be opposed to this. So getting the message out specifically, getting people rallied around this cause and letting the government know they’re not going to steamroll us…. Continuing to try to bully us into submission is about the dumbest tactic imaginable, but I guess that’s the only one available to them. If the only tool you have the toolbox is a hammer, I guess every problem is a nail.

“Fundamentally this is a question of trust, do we trust that this government will protect the environment when it comes to oil and gas projects? And I can’t imagine an oil pipeline that Steven Harper doesn’t love. Maybe if the project went right through his living room, he may have some questions about it, but outside of that, there isn’t been a single thing that the oil industry has wanted from this government that they haven’t got, not one thing. So do you trust them to protect fisheries, do you expect them to protect us from oil spills? The answer has got to be no.”

Strains from northwest boom brings expansion at Kitimat Terrace airport

A corporate jet over Terrace
A corporate jet on approach to Kitimat Terrace airport on July 19, 2011 (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

 

The boom in construction in the Kitimat area, together with future energy projects, means Northwest Regional Kitimat Terrace Airport is straining beyond capacity, District of Kitimat Council was told at the regular meeting Monday, March 5, 2012.

The airport is looking for $966,000 for works alone to expand the current aprons at the terminal building. The airport is also looking for money to improve the runways, which date from the Second World War.

The airport says that in 2010, traffic to the Kitimat Terrace airport accounted for 48 per cent of all passenger traffic in northwestern BC and 47 per cent of all total aircraft flying in the northwest.

From January 1, 2011 to September 30, 2011, air traffic at the Kitimat Terrace airport increased by 20 per cent. Total passenger traffic in 2011 increased by 14 per cent.

After hearing a presentation from airport manager Carmen Hendry, Kitimat council voted to put $34,000 of its Northern Development Initiative Trust Funding toward the project.

Service to the Kitimat Terrace airport by the airlines was cut back a number of years ago due to declining passenger load, with Air Canada dropping 737 service in favour of the current turboprop  aircraft.

Now with increased traffic, the apron at the terminal is beyond capacity, just with the current Air Canada Jazz and Hawkair traffic. The current airport configuration allows for two aircraft parking stands within the restricted area. That means aircraft from the third commercial line to use the airport, Central Mountain Air must park in an area considered not secure and that requires extra security personnel on at the terminal apron. This area is also used for courier and ambulance/medevac aircraft.

Traffic from corporate jets is also increasing beyond the current capacity, with overnight parking slots for two medium sized and one small aircraft. Hendry says with the number of both Gulfstream and Learjets now using the airport the apron is often full.

Hendry says that the airport has had discussions with KBR, the prime contractor for the KM LNG project and he says the company has told him that during the construction of the LNG terminal, KBR expects that as many as 600 passengers could be flying in and out of the airport each week, meaning 70,000 additional passengers will be flying in and out of the airport a year during the construction.

That also means that the airlines could upgrade the aircraft serving the Kitimat Terrace airport to a Boeing 737-800 or an Airbus 320. The means the apron must be enlarged to accommodate the aircraft so there are no “wingtip to wingtip conflicts.”

The project would add a third aircraft stand within the restricted commercial operations zone and one aircraft stand outside the restricted area that could accommodate large cargo and corporate traffic. The overnight parking area would also be increased. The airport would then have a capacity for two large Gulfstream 500 series large corporate jets and a number of smaller Learjets

Hendry said that the airport has not heard officially from Air Canada has any plans to increase the capacity of its aircraft flying into the airport to the 737 series. There is also a possibility that Westjet might add service to the Kitimat Terrace airport. Mayor Joanne Monaghan said she had had discussions with Air Canada and was told that Air Canada might send a team to evaluate the situation sometime in late summer. “No one is ready to commit,” Monaghan said and Hendry nodded in agreement.

Legacy of World War II

The last time there were major improvements to the airport runways was in 1990. The current plans call for replacement of asphalt and the creation of a safe area for snowplows so that clearing the runways during the heavy snows can be faster.

The biggest problem facing airport runways is a legacy of the Second World War, when the airport was built in 1943. Worried about a possible Japanese invasion, the runways were built with “demolition ducts” every 100 to 150 metres. The ducts were constructed using two by ten wood braces, and filled with explosives that could be detonated in case of a Japanese landing.

Divots from old ducts at Kitimat Terrace airport
This image shows the "divots" on the runway at Kitimat Terrace airport, a legacy of explosive ducts from the Second World War. (Northwest Regional Kitimat Terrace Airport)

 

The explosives were removed at the end of the Second World War, but the ducts remained.
“The wood is decaying and dropping down, creating bad divots on the runways,” Hendry said. The plans now call for ripping out the now 70-year-old rotten wood. The “divots” would be filled and compacted and then repaved. The runway improvement phase would cost $149,500.
Asked by council members if there would be any airport improvement fees, Hendry said the complete cost of the upgrades will be covered by NDIT and other grants.

The strain on the Kitimat Terrace airport brought controversy last fall, when the airport, together with Kitimat and Terrace Councils asked Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to station the Canadian Border Services Agency at the airport and allow the airport to use the CANPASS system for corporate aircraft. Without CBSA and CANPASS at Terrace Kitimat airport, executives from energy and other companies have to land at another airport to clear customs and immigration before going onto YXT, increasing fuel and other costs for those companies and also increasing flying time.

Toews, in a letter to Kitimat in December 2011, said that the CANPASS office at Prince Rupert is 52 kilometres too far away from the airport to service the pass system. As well, Toews said “actual demand” at the airport does not support the need for CBSA, without citing the date of any figures that would support that position.

Read Vic Toews letter to Kitimat Council  (pdf)

Plans for the new airport apron at Kitimat Terrace airport.

New apron at YXT
Plans for apron expansion at Terrace Kitimat airport. (Northwest Regional Kitimat Terrace Airport)

Kitimat group launches anti-Enbridge petition/referendum

Danny Nunes
Danny Nunes at the District of Kitimat Council meeting, March 5, 2012. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

Danny Nunes, a candidate for mayor of Kitimat in the fall election, together with a group of volunteers, is launching a petition/referendum opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project.

Nunes was a gadfly candidate for Kitimat mayor in the fall election, gaining 85 votes. He is  a Kitimat and Terrace based video producer and comedian, also known as Matt Mask.

Nunes pointed to a vote by Kitimat council on January 17, 2012, not to hold any council vote or referendum on the Enbridge project until after the Joint Review Panel has reported, sometime in  2013. In the meantime, Prince Rupert, Terrace and Smithers councils and the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District have all had votes opposing the Northern Gateway project.

“If they won’t hold a referendum, I will,” Nunes told Northwest Coast Energy News, referring to the District of Kitimat council.

He plans an old style paper petition, getting signatures by going to events or door to door, making sure that as many signatures as possible can match the voters’ list in the last municipal election. Matching with the voters’ list is one reason why Nunes says he is not going to use an online petition site.

Once he has signatures from all those Kitimat residents who oppose the Northern Gateway project– “we’ll know if the town is opposed or just a small minority” — he plans to present the petition to District of Kitimat Council, probably sometime in April.