Live Blog of a Webinar with Ministry of Environment on new Open Burning Smoke Control Regs

I am about to join a Webinar on the OBSCR regs.  This webinar is directed toward large forestry users. Refresh to see updates.

Here’s the description:

The B.C. Ministry of Environment is currently working on proposed revisions to the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation. The ministry would like to share details of the current proposal with stakeholders, seek feedback and answer questions. This webinar is aimed at large forestry operators who hold large tenures and burn large amounts of debris as part of their operations.

This should be pretty interesting!  Hopefully I can share what is said widely. I’ll share what I can. I figured this would be easier on the live blog than taking notes and compiling later…

1PM Start!  Updates down the page…
MOE is making the presentation.
Open Burning is the largest source of fine particulate matter pollution in BC.

“Open Burning has been identified has been identified as a significant contributor in the communities” in certain communities (Port Alberni is one of the 3 on the Island).

A little history on the OBSCR:


OBSCR is not meant to forbid but rather limit and prescribe where, when and how open burning can happen.

New regulation is about “tweaking the requirements” rather than adding to.

Not all types of open fires are covered under OBSCR:

Mostly “pile burns” are what are regulated by OBSCR.

“In particular the communities mentioned  exceeding the national standards… are making efforts [Port Alberni has been pushing! :))] and province should in their purview as well”.

“We are now back to a push to bring changes to our Minister [Heyman]”



Here we go to see what is being proposed:


Mapping is not yet completed yet. [But we can assume Port Alberni is likely to be in a HSSZ).

“It’s really where people live” in terms of HSSZ or MSSZ.


1.5 to 2 times more “burn days” in Low Smoke Sensitivity Zone.

[Comment from Chris:  This is concerning to me, they are basically talking about making it easier in low sensitivity zones. This might be fine, if the zones are large enough that it truly does not impact communities.  It will all come down to the maps they generate!]

2018 is actually harder on low sensitivity areas than 2016. This is good!

Next Part looks a little more like some bureaucratic detail that is less relevant to communities. More geared to remote areas/forestry.

Important slide for communities below!

Important addition below… taking into account Community Wildfire Protection Plan.


Directors powers:


Important change! OBSCR will now apply to any burn with burn greater than 10cm… bylaws from local government can further restrict if able under other legislation.

Reporting is not required currently… and is not proposed to happen yet.  This is done for emissions calculations. There is a carbon pricing mandate at the Ministry of Environment so they want to ensure they are not “counting twice”.



“many things could delay this timing”…

That’s it for the presentation.

“There is definitely a tension between air quality and wildfire goals… but we are not working cross-purposes”.


“A significant amount of the burning that wildfire service undertakes is outside the scope of OBSCR already”, so no effect from these changes.

Why are setbacks not ‘ an order of magnitude larger’.

“The setbacks are one of a suite of tools… in concert with venting requirements… limits”.

Final maps will be very detailed topographically and so take into account air sheds and communities within them.

I am going to end it there.  Great to see this moving forward!  I guess we just have to wait a little longer until fall hopefully to actually see new regulation. It sounds like we will have to go through one more open burning season before new rules take effect.


AVICC 2018 – Conference Live Blog Friday to Sunday

FINAL UPDATES.  Post is from Friday to Sunday, Top to Bottom.

Another year another AVICC conference!

This one is shaping up to be very busy again.  I will semi-live blog it throughout the weekend.  Which means posting updates here throughout the next three days.

Just yesterday given development in the news I asked that we bring forward a late motion to the floor on Sunday morning titled:



Here is the full text that we will be handing out:

Check out the poll on the side of this page to register your opinion on this question!

Aside from that, there is the usual wide array of conference sessions and materials to consider.  Things are already getting underway this morning but I am at VIU until at least 1PM this afternoon before I’ll be driving down with Councillor Minions.  I believe Councillor Sauvé and Washington are already there, Councillor Paulson is coming today and Mayor Ruttan is attending Saturday/Sunday.

Here is the Convention Program, we hope to be there by 4PM for Premier Horgan’s address this afternoon at 4PM.

You can see all of the materials from the conference including the resolutions being considered here. 

I haven’t gone through them all yet. Will have to do that later this evening. The next update will likely come Saturday morning as we start into sessions and the business of the Convention.  See you soon!  Also watch out for live video feeds. Depending on WIFI performance and battery life on my phone. 🙂

Lots has happened since I arrived here around 2PM on Friday.

Councillor Minions and I carpooled down Friday afternoon. We arrived in time to catch some of the afternoon sessions as well as the address by the Premier.

As we arrived, the Keynote from Charles Montgomery, author of Happy City was just wrapping up. From the wikipage:

Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design is a 2013 book written by the Canadian author Charles Montgomery. Gathering insights from the disciplines of psychology, neuroscience, urban planning and Montgomery’s own social experiments, the book makes the case that the manner in which we build our cities alters the way in which we feel, think, and behave as individuals and as a society. Montgomery argues that the happy city, the green city, and the low-carbon city are the same place, and we can all help build it.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7

There were great questions from the floor, this is something that needs to be on our collective reading lists.

Next was Premier Horgan’s adress. I live streamed it on Facebook, you can view it here, no login required.

Housing Session 4:45PM — This session was an update from BC Housing

$7B over 10 years in 2018 budget is the most in one province ever. Federal bilateral agreement coming soon. The stars are aligned.  Must create housing that matches need on the ground. In past has not matched.

This is one of the biggest issues in our province and country and the revenues are now being directed for a huge push.

To Zone for Rental. Property tax exemptions. –  Revitalization tax bylaw required first. The housing continuum… far left gets most press. Also working on far right important for fental and home ownership.

Need to get in on Housing Hub for Port Alberni. BC Housing is hiring additional staff for the staff to meet need. Tiny homes are not a panacea… they take a lot of land. 

BC Housing can’t mortgage them when they come in on wheels. Working on a Homeless Action Plan – from a prevention program perspective. Housing Agreements :  Peer to Peer program will be created to help Local Government work with tools like housing agreements.

7AM Saturday Morning – Social Procurement

Town of QB Social Procurement Policy 6000-3. Using the polivy to re work their Memorial Drive with a pedestrian and cycling separate path and realign dangerous intersection.

Social procurement is something we are working hard on in Port Alberni.  The Canadian Mental Health Association has had a farm on Beaver Creek Road (across from COOP) that has adhered to these principles. They are a great example.

The really interesting part about the AVICC presentation was the notion that it is about more than just helping the disadvantaged in any particular town and building that into every city project. It is about all sorts of different “social” values that the community can set that would ensure that no matter what project is ongoing at the City, the outcome reflects the community more deeply than just paving a street.

More notes from the presentation:
VICA is training, 6 weeks class 3 weeks on site.  100% of contractors said they would use potential individual if trained and available.

Social value is about more than just employing people. It is about what the community values, indigenous, environment, people.
POSSIBLE MOTION Bring membership in social hub forward to council?

Resolutions Saturday!

The rest of Saturday morning was taken up by the actual business of the conference which is mostly considering and debating motions.  It was actually quite an active session (You can see all the motions at the links at the top of the page).  The most contentious one that got the most debate was whether we should ask the BC Government to put Local Government councillors, mayors and directors back on a 3 year rotation rather than 4 years between election.

After lots of good points on both sides… most of which I agreed with on both sides, we had a close vote to keep it at 4 years. The argument for 3 years boiled down mostly to ensuring people were not scared off by the longer commitment and to give more opportunity for voters to have a say.  The argument for 4 years was that there was a much better chance to get things accomplished, particularly for new people (like myself) and it provided more ability for the community to see what a council actually could achieve before “silly season” of an election year hit.

I personally lean toward the 4 years for both of those reasons. Also this is only the first term that we have had 4 years between local elections. I think it is worth giving it another term or two before we go back to the Province and say it was a mistake to try this out.


Later on Saturday we got an update from the outgoing ICF CEO.  There was not a lot of new information, but it is good to hear the entire report from the source. There was no lack of interest. The small room it was confined to was packed.

Sunday Early Morning!

Sundays are always difficult after a long evening of networking the night before! But we hunkered down at 8AM to get back into it.  We heard from Minister Selena Robinson who is “our Minister” for Local Government. She is Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing]. Apologies, no video feed as my phone was acting badly.

She spoke of the need to address the housing crisis among other things. I was also very impressed to hear her mention climate change in our remarks and the fact that the impacts of climate change will affect local community infrastructure the most. That is where we will need to focus a huge amount of senior government dollars in order to adapt to the changes that are already here and coming soon.  I like to think that the little bit of pushing we at the City of Port Alberni did at the UBCM last September to highlight the impacts of recent flooding that has occurred more frequently, likely due in part to climate change, maybe played a role in her making that mention.

After all the talking was finished, we finally got back to the Resolutions. There was a lot of concern we would not have time to get to the one that the City of Port Alberni wanted to bring forward about Oil Spill Response but lo- and- behold we got there with just 20 minutes left in the morning!

A huge thanks to Councillors Sauvé and Minions for helping distribute the papers on all the tables on both days and also to Councillor Kirby from Oak Bay who was very active and helped both distribute and talk to people abut the importance of the motion.

The great thing about these conferences is the people you meet and learn from and the friendships you build.  This was a great example of one of those friendships helping to pass an important resolution for our community.  I hope the AVICC writes that letter soon and we see some movement from the Governments of BC and Canada to guarantee those oil spill response bases on our coast.

And that… with about 5 minutes to spare… was it!!


Vancouver Island Economic Alliance Summit report – 2017 – Updating Wed/Thurs

I am here for the VIEA Summit 2017 on behalf of Council.  I’ll be doing a report like I have done for UBCM.  It is just a two day conference with just three or four sessions that I’ll be able to attend but I have always found it to be very valuable.  Below is my schedule:

It is now 3:30PM and I’ve already had a number of great conversations with folks, from a solar installer in Nanaimo, to Sheila Malcolmsen NDP MP for Nanaimo about derelict vessels and a rep from the Coastal Community Credit Union about community funding of local agriculture!

First session I attended was on Trade and Transportation.

Here are my notes:

Keynote – Dan Tisch

Mr. Tisch spoke about the fake news phenomenon and how to manage communications with customers and clients and constituents in that new world.

He emphasized the need to create trust and how the (social) values of an organization has become extremely important to their overall reputation and success.

Openness, willingness to listen, and willingness to take and maintain principled stands will lead to success for the organization as a whole.  This is definitely something that applies to Cities as well.

VIEA Trade and Transportation Session

Short Sea Shipping –

Peter Amott – Pacific Basin

They moved log shipping (export) from Fraser port to Nanaimo because of shipping costs, delays, etc at Lower Mainland. Realized major volume increase in Nanaimo, 60 jobs.

Tabare Dominquez – DP World – Major Container Shipping (10% of world shipping). Only lift on/off (no dreyage, no trucking) on Vancouver Island for import/export to Asia.

Adam Cook – CN Rail

“Truck like service at the cost of rail” Partners with Southern Rail of VI at Annacis Island to Welcox Seaspan – BC Ferries – DP World – Steamship Lines

Alison Boulton Small Business BC – Export Navigator Pilot (also in Port Alberni through Community Futures). Facilitates communication with exporters. Export Advisor in each community…


To DP World —

Infrastructure is a significant constraint. It is fragmented.  It would be good to concentrate volume. We are ready to invest if there is more volume.

Q: Nanaimo/Alberni or Prince Rupert is place for expansion if Vancouver is maxed?
A: vancouver capacity is tight. Rupert and Island do not compete.  He sees opportunity for direct calls to the Island.


Renewable Energy Session

Solar energy installation in the world is currently at “one Site C per month”. In 10 years, world will install 1 Terawatt per year. In US, grid parity has been achieved (solar is as cheap as coal or gas) in 27 states.

Price for utility solar is now $1 per watt. Residential in US is about $2 per watt (installed). Resource on Vancouver Island is good in SE, plus Port Alberni and Comox Valley.  Maps available here.

Gave an example of Sooke first Nation for net metering (which is similar in payback to WCGH installation)

The cost needs to be below 11c/kWH to beat BC Hydro and achieve a payback.  The grah below shows the potential.  2 axis refers to the solar panels being able to track the sun horizontally and vertically.  Most installs, like WCGH are fixed (blue dots).

Nanaimo, Tofino and Comox are listed and are indicated to be just above the threshold. Port Alberni should be as well.

Renewable Natural Gas – Fortis BC

“Carbon Neutral option”. “Biogas” is injected into the conventional natural gas stream.

Take gas from landfills, farms. 200,000 GJ of NG in 2017. City of Surrey is doing a biofuel plant in 2018 that will take organics.  Will provide 120,000GJ. City of Surrey uses CNG for their garbage trucks, will potentially use RNG for their trucks will reduce their carbon footprint.

Percentage RNG – is currently 0.25% of installed capacity of traditional gas. Fortis can move up 5% or 9 petajoules per year to RNG. (How likely is this??)

VIU Allan Cumbers -Geo Exchange utilizing old Mine shafts

Water is 12°C year round.  Will be used for multiple buildings on a 3 loop system for both heating and cooling. Health and Sciences centre (being built now) will be first building.  Then Gathering Place and Building 205. Then HSC 2.  If pilot project is successful should be able to expand district system to all buildings where it makes sense to retrofit for geo-exchange.

Expect to save 320 tonnes of CO2 on first building on Phase 1, payback is 18 years.

We will be hearing from the Premier at dinner tonight. He is addressing us by video link from Victoria (due to needing to be in the Legislature for votes in the house).  Will report back tonight or tomorrow.

Thursday morning.

We started with a breakfast and keynote focusing on Earthquake preparedness and risk management and then that continued into the first session of the morning.  Here are notes from that:

  • At LA International Airport they focused on what was needed to operate. Only two things… runways and communications not buildings.  So they focused on hardening those.
  • Nothing in BC is designed to survive mega earthquake

  • Japan earthquake. Nuke damage was done by tsunami, not earthquake. The company built a 7m wall when data said it should have been 15m. Has cost Japan $1 Trillion.
  • Another nuke plant, Onagawa… undamaged. Had a 15m wall. The ground dropped in earthquake (much closer to epicnter) by 1m. Tsunami was 13.5m.  Largely undamaged and safe.

  • The risk in Vancouver Island is very high.. as high as any japan, mexico, just less frequent. Studies are often too academic.  Frequency is almost irrelevant. Focus on simple study of elevation and practical steps to harden buildings. For houses… keep them on their foundations. Bolt them down.

BC Code should be closer to Chile and California, we need to compare Canada and other codes to learn from their experience.

  • Municipalities – do a strategic risk – find the most critical pieces.
  • The building code is not always the end all be all… building code is for life saving, not business interruption. Low bidders may be life saving minimum code only… higher cost, possible business interruption which is key.

For mitigating Tsunami. Really can only build a wall (backfilled with parkland) direct the water away from downtown…. or long term plan to move people/business out of flood zone.

Film and TV Session

BC is the 3rd largest film production in North America, biggest in Canada. #1 for visual effects in the world

$2.6 Billion in production this year. $1 Billion in wages. $23 Million in wages on the Island. 50 productions on the Island, 250 filming days. Chesapeake Shores spent $5M alone. Streaming services (Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Google) will add $25 Billion to global production business.

32,000sqft of stage space in Parksville. 3-4 Million sqft of stage space in BC.  Why B.C.? -> locations. Every possible type. Episodic TV is now main source of revenue in BC.

There is no Commercial space in lower mainland. 1% vacancy. Film Commissions cannot charge fees… so are left to ask for community grants to help fund their activities.

For Film Studio space you need high ceilings,  30-40ft. Clear span no pillars. Purpose built is usually best though small productions can use smaller spaces, but are unlikely to commit long term.

Parksville is going out on a limb. Because it is a location spot, not studio.  There are numerous people on the Island and the training is key.  Need more infrastructure in terms of rentals for video and lighting and audio.  Usually if a space is built, and a long term contract found, then the rental infrastructure companies come.

Tofino was great to shoot but no hotels… so used Best Western in Port Alberni for shoots for a commercial.  Major production facilities requires 5 star hotel for the actors. So only Victoria and Vancouver currently. However, small scale commercials or TV could use production space on an interim basis.

X-Men spent $40,000 just on ferries.

Biggest takeaway is for communities to always be welcoming, not to lie or gloss over locations, and to roll with the punches.  TV Industry is extremely fast paced, last minute, and unconventional.  They respond to places that can meet their idiosyncrasies with a smile.

That’s it! It was a very quick, but very good conference.  Lots of things to take away and learn from. I’ve already sent a number of emails to a bunch of people following up about it.


My (oh my!) Mini Split Heat Pump Savings! They could be yours? :)

I just received confirmation that BC Hydro has received (by email) my application for their $800 Rebate for mini-split heat pump installs. Woot! Hopefully the cheque comes back soon. 🙂
(note the rebate is only available for mini-split not traditional heat pumps)
I could only apply for the Hydro rebate (there are a bunch!) because I got rid of my oil furnace 10 years ago when we moved into our home, but if you upgrade from an oil furnace you can apply for an extra $500 rebate from the City of Port Alberni!
The total cost was $8099.75 for the heat pump plus $163.67 for the electrical work so $8263.42 total.
It is a Fujitsu variable speed heat pump with one outdoor unit (pictured) and two indoor units.  AHRI Number 6998277.  Here is the system’s AHRI certificate.
I am super happy with the installation and the comfort level of the system compared to our electric baseboards. (or… way back when… the noisy, smelly, expensive and inefficient oil furnace!) We keep the house at a steady 20C.
The two indoor units, one larger one on the main floor and a smaller one in the basement have no trouble keeping the house (2500sqft, built 1940, EnerGuide rating 64+) warm. And both they and the outside unit are basically silent from inside the house!

We are also in the middle of replacing a roof/ceiling in our 2nd floor bathroom which means there is no insulation up there so lots of extra heat loss temporarily. (It’s chilly in there at night!).  Once that is insulated again I expect our savings to increase.

We turn the breakers off on our baseboard heaters through the summer and most of them have remained off except our two upstairs bedrooms, but those are turned down to 18C and haven’t come on yet, even with the bathroom work. 

By The Numbers

I ran some numbers comparing this time period (Oct 6-22) in 2015 and in 2016 and comparing, thanks to BC Hydro tracking average temperatures, with days of similar temperature.

I grouped days by their temperature and by year and then got an average temperature and KWh usage for that temperature for each year.

2016 is the comparable year: Average consumption since installing the system Oct 6 has been about 62% of last year: a range of between 48% and 74% of last year in kilowatt hours per day.
I used groups of temperature days at 8C, 9C, 10C, 11.5C, 12C and 12.5C… a total of about 26 days of comparison between the two years.  So differences in daily weather patterns are minimized.
If I am super conservative and take the low end savings, I get 25% off of last year’s power usage, that would be a saving on my November 2016 bill of 636kWh… all on the top tier of 12.43c/kWh which would have amounted to a savings of $79.08 on my November 2016 bill.  
If I go on the top end of the savings calculated I go as high as a 50% reduction in power usage, that would get me to 1272.5kWh less usage compared to last November’s bill which is within Tier 1. I would have saved $154.79 on that bill.

Last year was, by far, our most expensive and consumption rich year ever since moving into the house.  A combination of a very cold winter, and a family that is growing up and using more heat (kids having showers!) and finishing the basement, etc etc.

We use electricity exclusively for our energy/heating needs.  We paid a total BC Hydro bill last year between May 2016 and May 2017 of $2724.32.

A 25% savings on that would be:


A 50% savings on that would be:


per year.

Subtracting the $800 rebate, the cost of the Heat Pump would be paid for in 5 to 11 years.
I suspect that the savings will be somewhere in the middle of that range on a percentage basis, but it is of course difficult, if not impossible, to predict the monetary savings given annual weather and hydro rate variables.  It does seem certain that hydro rates will rise, and so with them, savings. A 5-10 year payoff seems quite likely and I’m OK with that. 🙂

UBCM 2017! So many Meeting with Ministers and Staff. Stay tuned all week.

The Full UBCM 2017 Report is done!


We have a ton of meetings this year with Ministers! Here is my calendar right now!

In order the meetings we have are:

  • Ministry of Environment – on Climate Adaptation measures, flooding, and setting up further meetings and on support for new Open Burning Restrictions
  • Ministry of Public Safety – A meeting our CAO will be having with Ministers
  • Sean Grant from the Ministry of Finance
  • Brian Bennet of Infrastructure – discuss grant opportunities
  • Ministry of Forests Lands Natural Resources and Rural Dev. – on Open Burning Restrictions and on Community Forests.
  • Jackie Hunter of Small Business, Jobs and Trade Ministry
  • Scott Fraser Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation


Sunday September 24

Here is the policy booklet to see all of the resolutions.

Monday September 25  meeting with George Heyman Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

We got started bright and early this morning 9:40AM with a 20 minute meeting with Minister Heyman.

We addressed issues around sea level rise, particularly planning for how our major infrastructure assets like the sewage lagoon, will be protected from rising sea levels. We also mentioned the flooding that has occured along the river from recent extreme weather events that have become all too common. Thanks to the raising of highway 4/river road after the Tsunami, the city has been protected mostly….. more coming….

…. back from a quick Taco Time lunch! ….

Minister Heyman and his staff were very receptive and of like mind.  They reminded us of the federal and other grant funding available, particularly for emergency management. This is something the City/ACRD has already been in the process of doing so that was well received.

I won’t say more than that because you want to be sure that you don’t say things ‘out of turn’ when Ministers are involved. But suffice to say I think it was a short (they are all short!), but good meeting.


There were a number of morning sessions held. I was only able to attend a small portion because of the meeting with the Minister. However, I did get to the Marijuana session (on legalization for recreational use). I heard from what appeared to be someone familiar with the upcoming legal issues.

Basically we will have two regulations going forward, Medical, and Recreational Marijuana.

The crux of the advice from the individual speaking was that getting an early start on the regulations for Recreational marijuana would be a good benefit for local governments.  That means going through our bylaws, much like we did for medical marijuana, and ensuring they are appropriate and ready.

One thing he made very clear was that constitutionally, Medical and Recreational marijuana are very different.

Medical Marijuana use is protected by the constitution so we cannot make bylaws that would limit that use (even though currently, sale of medical marijuana from store front remains prohibited and is likely to continue to be).

Recreational Marijuana use is unlikely to be so protected by the constitution. So municipalities *will* have the option to prohibit sale outright.

I asked a question to the person relating to the fact that for all intents and purposes, the current Medical Marijuana retailers in Port Alberni and elsewhere are selling to recreational users. This is an open ‘secret’. So how can we have two regulatory regimes when on the ground, the public is treating the issue really as one and the same.

The problem here is the limitation of selling medical marijuana by mail order only.  As long as that limitation exists, it will create this strange situation where current dispensary are either going to be selling medical marijuana to recreational users illegally. Or, when it becomes legal to sell marijuana for recreational use, the dispensaries will change their signage, and sell marijuana legally, recreationally, but more than likely still be effectively supplying the medical market as well.

It really makes no sense. The speaker answered that he didn’t see a way around that at this point and it would be a matter of building a case to show that a marijuana dispensary was breaking the rules.  I difficult, and costly, course to take.

Personally I think we need to advocate that marijuana be treated the same across the board. Legalize the retail selling of it for all uses, then we can properly, and consistently regulate it on a local level.

That’s it for Monday morning.

Afternoon session:

Advancing Local Government and First Nations Relations

This was an excellent session where we heard of experiences by two government and first nation partnerships, one around Alert Bay and the other around Metchosin.

The Alert Bay example was about how the village and adjacent First Nation have formed an extremely close relationship. Since they are literally on an small island together they have developed a very practical working and even personal relationship where the Village and Nation staff and council work nearly as one.

They have joint council meetings several times a year where issues of concern are discussed, joint committees, joint planning, joint problem solving

Everyone on the Island (population under 1000) has a voice no matter if they are in nation or village.

The second example was Metchosin and Beecher Bay FN. They described a land swap and development agreement they reached along with Langford. Beecher Bay wanted to build/develop a residential project somewhere on their lands but the land they were considering was highly valued forested land the Metchosin community wanted to protect. Metchosin identified a parcel of land that was adjacent to Langford that was more suitable for development that they could swap with Beecher Bay. However Metchosin also is a completely rural community and does not support development so Langford offered to extend their boundaries to include the the developing parcel and then shared tax revenue with Metchosin.

We also had a very nice speech from Indigenous Relations and reconciliation Minister Scott Fraser.

“The Chilquotin decision is not an isolated decision”

The Minister spent a lot of time explaining how important the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). He talked about adopting and embracing the UNDRIP in full. The rights in undrip are human rights. He aims to realize these rights.

“Free prior and informed consent means to be involved from the start of a development process.”

Have to be included from the start. UNDRIP is not a threat to development. The minstry is working on more flexible options for treaties including shared territories.

A portion of Gaming revenue may begin to be shared with First Nations. As is done in other provinces.

Big part of reconciliation is culture and language and government will be investing in those programs.

That was it for the afternoon.


Uncivil Civic Engagement

Continuum of Incivility: Negative Behaviour —> Verbal Aggression —> Physical Agression


The causes? Increased polarized political parties and highly polarized media. USA is an epicentre but B.C. has very polarized media as well.

Leads to total policy gridlock due to lack of ability to compromise.

At local government level the engagement is much more personal and direct so can be very difficult.

—Strategy for local governments—

Procedures Bylaws that are clear and detail rules of conduct for council members and for public.

– Mayors have a statutory obligation to keep order during a meeting but there is no definition of “inappropriate” behaviour.

Absolute privilege (like an MP or MlA that can say almost anything in parliament) does not apply to City Council.

But we do have qualified privilege. As long as statements can be proven to be truthful.

There are also ways to have a court injunction against individuals if they are so disruptive and disrespectful and especislly if it is long term, agressive, and baseless.

Can Council itself pass a resolution to prohibit an individual frim attending meetings?

It is not a decided legal issue in B.C. but in Ontario the court has determined No. A court injunction is the only way.

—- More Ministry Meetings —

Later Tuesday Morning we had a meeting with Sean Grant, a director from the Ministry of Finance.

We were there to discuss what options we might have in order to address derelict or fallow buildings that plague our commercial sectors.  There was a suggestion that we might be able to advocate for a new class of tax but that tool was quickly shot down by Mr. Holmes as, in his words, the tax system is meant to be a neutral revenue device, it is not intended and it is bad policy to use it as an incentive or disincentive system.

Many of the other options are things we have already done such as tax holidays, façade improvement, bylaw enforcement, and Community Charter supported remediation (like we are doing with Arrowview).

One option that the Director suggestion was a Business Improvement Area.  This is something that, according to Councillor McLeman, has been tried in the past and not been very successful. But perhaps it is something we can try again.

There is also the option of the City beginning to borrow and invest in the City directly by purchasing buildings of concern and then redeveloping them.  This would not be a cheap solution, but it does provide the opportunity for the City and Community to engage in a fulsome planning process that we could then follow and attract developers into the City.

Tuesday Afternoon

In the afternoon we as council agreed that we would put in the effort to bring the Martin Mars issue back to the UBCM.

I’ve created the motion and FAQ that we will be distributing to the UBCM delegates before we bring it to the floor likely on Thursday.

Here is the 2017 Resolution and Fact Sheet.

Alberni Valley News has a story here.

I had 200 copies printed out and I and Council will be distributing them before the issue comes forward likely on Thursday (it ended up being Friday). On the same topic of Forest Fires I attended the “Leading Through Crisis: Flooding and Fires 2017”.  I live streamed the whole hour discussion.

It was very good. It was such an incredibly challenging summer in so many communities but what came through was the incredible work done by staff, councillors, volunteers and the public to ensure everyone was safe and supported during the crisis.

In the evening there were a number of receptions to attend most had to do with energy resources.

We went to a Coal industry reception, where they had the strangest promotional device I have ever seen.

An Apple, wrapped in a plastic box, with the tag line:
A is for Apple,
B is for BC,
C is for Coal.

Well… OK then.

We then went to the Clean Energy reception… which frankly is more my style.

The difference in marketing strategy for renewables versus fossil fuels was stark.. and more than a little humorous.  It actually turned out to be the highlight of the night.

Wednesday Morning

I started the morning at the Energy Sector Resource Breakfast which was attended by the Minister of Energy among many other ministers, MLAs and city councillors.

I have to be honest I thought it would be primarily focused on fossil fuel infrastructure, but while LNG was certainly still discussed and promoted to an extent, the breakfast itself was notably sponsored by Energex, which is a major renewable energy developer across Canada.

We had a good talk with one of their representatives about the opportunities available in Port Alberni.

Thats all for now. Meeting with Minister of Forest shortly about Community Forest.

Wednesday Afternoon

Our meeting with the Minister of Forests (and other things :)) Doug Donaldson went well. Councillor McLeman presented his concerns on our Community Forest and its need for more Annual Allowable Cut to bring it up to the amount that was originally intended (20,000m3 vs. 15,000m3).

After that we had our first Plenary session of the conference.

Here are some tweet highlights, the biggest highlight may been the silly test question.

I have a video of the really great Keynote given by Terry Milewski this morning all about fake news, Russia, Canada, the US and Facebook.  I will post it once I get to a place with good enough WIFI!

Here it finally is!

This afternoon I will be at the Provincial Cabinet Town Hall for Jobs, Resources, and Green Communities featuring no fewer than 6 ministers!

Wednesday Afternoon Recap

Had an excellent Cabinet Town Hall.  I was able to ask the panel of Ministers, specifically the Minister of Environment, Forests, and Jobs/Innovation, on the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation that potentially deals with smoke in communities from open burning and slash burning.

All three Ministers spoke supportively both on addressing the health and air impacts and on the aspect of ensuring that the fibre in the forest is used in innovative ways (or even left, in a fire safe way) than simply ‘going up in smoke’.

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (George Heyman) also mentioned that the Carbon Tax may begin to apply to the open burning context. This would really change the economics.

The Minister of Jobs and Innovation mentioned that they are developing an office, or a fund, (I don’t remember exactly :)) to support innovation in the forestry sector. His words were that “tech is not just in the big cities” and also happens, and needs to happen in small cities and resource management.

Efforts on the Martin Mars resolution continued.

Including with an interview with CBC, which was set up through Twitter of course… because it’s 2017.

Wednesday night was full of receptions and networking including with the  Premier itself.  I generally avoid the whole “look at me with X” thing… but Premier Horgan is a pretty affable person and I’ve talked to him at past conferences.  He’s funny and remembers you, and always has a topical issue in mind when he here’s where you are from.

And unlike his predecessor, who was literally in front staged in front of a pre-framed backdrop with people lined up like a side-show at a carnival, the Premier was here mingling, beside the food, as much as a Premier can mingle when in a huge room absolutely packed full with other politicians.

So when I saw him a little ways away from me shaking hands and taking pictures I got Councillor Minions and we went over to say hi!  He talked about his parents cottage on Sproat Lake. 🙂

Crazy BUSY Thursday Meetings and Preparations for Martin Mars!

Thursday was quite the blur.

We had three meetings with different ministry folks.  I attended a couple sessions, and there was plenary resolutions to attend as well!

7AM Early Session

Bright and Early at 7AM I attended a session titled: “Wildfire Prevention and Mitigation in BC”.  Apparently Thursday morning is a tough one for folks because I was there with only about 20 other colleagues!

There was a lot of talk of course of the just-passed fire season where $544 Million was spent on fire suppression alone. Other than that though there was not a huge amount of new information on protecting communities.  The same programs are available.

8:30AM Interim Leader of the Opposition Speech

We then went down to the main hall to hear Rich Coleman speak on behalf of the Opposition.

He made some good points on helping the needy in our province and how that often means having to push through housing projects in the face of NIMBY forces because it is good for the community as a whole and rarely leads to the problems people associate with low-cost, low-barrier housing initiatives.

He also said some stuff that I disagreed with, surprise, surprise:

He railed against the campaign finance reform and picked an unfortunate line when talking about when he was first elected, “My friends helped me get elected.”.  Indeed, that is exactly what campaign finance reform is about. It should not be about who you know and how much money they can give you, it should be about what you say, and do, and how you present yourself to your constituents.

He also came out strongly against proportional representation:

Well, a few folks disagree.  It will be a very interesting referendum on proportional representation during next years Municipal Election! (October 2018)

Thursday morning Resolutions

After the speech we had a little bit of time to participate in Resolutions.

One of particular interest to Port Alberni was a resolution on Improvement Districts (like Cherry Creek) having access to grant monies.  The resolution passed:


We then had our meeting with Jackie Hunter of Small Business Jobs and Trades on economic development strategies, particularly around succession planning for small business.

I went and checked out the trade show… which was a little underwhelming this year.  But had a great chat with Dave McCormick of PAPA about the PATH project.  I actually had a number of positive conversations with people on PATH both during the conference times and at receptions.  It definitely seems to be on people’s radar as a positive thing for BC and Vancouver Island as long as it is done right. I even had a positive conversation about it with a rep who I believe was from Surrey Docks.  He was at the coal industry reception that I attended on Tuesday night.

We then had an excellent meeting with Scott Fraser, the new Minister of Indigenous Affairs where we talked about the City’s efforts towards Reconciliation.  The minister was of course very supportive and we hope to be working closely with him as the process moves forward.

And finally after lunch, Councillor Paulson, Mcleman and I met with staff from the Ministry of Forests to talk about flooding adaptation and the open burning smoke control regulation.  Staff indicated the resources that were available to us and some of the steps we could take, like LIDAR mapping the estuary in order to have a precise idea of how things are positioned.  Given that bout ACRD and the City talked about this issue on multiple occasions with multiple Ministry staff and ministers, I think we will be in a good position to create a broad, all-stakeholder, process to mitigate the flooding issues that continue along the Somass and will get worse with climate change and sea level rise.

We also talked about Open Burning and the new Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation that the Ministry of Environment has had on the books but not implemented.  The ministry staff person indicated that the Open Burning regulation may be implemented before the end of the year.  Fingers Crossed for cleaner air!

Thursday afternoon Flood Mitigation and Photocopying!

After the meeting with the Minister I went up to the session on Flood Mitigation… which was of course very topical to my just finished meeting with the staff.

I was there with Doug Holmes, the new CAO of the ACRD.

They talked about the risks, and that flooding is most expensive and most frequent of disasters and have gotten worse with extreme weather.  There has been one disaster each year in Canada since 2011 cost at least $1 Billion!

I also asked a question to the panel about whether their programs and initiatives are also focusing on the upstream effects.  The representative from the Fraser Basin Council (?) reiterated the importance of managing upstream land impacts in order to help mitigate flooding downstream.  But unfortunately they did not indicate any specific strategies on that front.

There is a “Consequence Classifications for dyking infrastructure” coming soon. They also mentioned a “Flood Hazard Areas Flood Hazard Guidelines.” which… upon some googling, looks quite interesting.  Here is the Flood Hazard Land Use Management BC website.

I left a little before the end of the session so that I could head up to Staples and run off 500 pages of Martin Mars resolutions that we would need to distribute before the Friday morning vote.

Thankfully there was time between that and the dinner to get into the hot tub at the hotel and soak some very sore feet!

The Thursday banquet was nice as it often is. I sat at a table with Councillor Minions with folks around the province including former MLA Bob Simpson who is now Mayor of Quesnel.  Sharie, he and I all had a very interesting bit of conversation on a whole host of topics from economic development to the Mount Polley mine disaster (the company is now being allowed to put its effluent straight into Quesnel Lake!!).

Friday Fun Day – Martin Mars and other Resolutions and Premier Horgan.

So Friday was the big day.  We were up very early distributing leaflets on the chairs.

We have to do that in order to ensure the delegates can be informed of the resolution before the vote. It has to have background information as well.

The UBCM delegates actually managed to power through all of the Late Resolutions, which was super impressive.  That does not happen often!

One was on allowing ranchers to assist more directly with wildfires when it affected their property and another was asking for a strategic review of fire strategy (which, who knows, may have implications for the Martin Mars.)

There was also a motion that was defeated on banning additional fracking in BC.

Finally, there was a motion that was accepted on having government consult the public to possibly end Daylight Savings Time so that the clocks never went back and forth.

With the Late Resolutions then done, I had my opportunity to present the Martin Mars motion.  I spoke first to the motion. Here are my prepared words:

Three things have changed delegates since this body last passed a motion on the Mars in 2014

Number One, incredibly, even though we all surely didn’t think the fires could get worse, along came 2015, and along came 2017  with unprecedented fire activity and impact on our province and unprecedented $544 million dollar cost in regions across the province and provincial fire resources absolutely maxxed out.

Number Two in 2014 we passed a simple resolution unanimously for government to bring the Mars back into the fold, with no expectations of change on the company’s part. This year with this resolution we can urge the government AND the company to work together. The company is willing to make the required changes that would upgrade the aircraft and address many of the concerns of government if government shows its commitment in the long term.

And the Third key fact that has changed delegates is of course the government itself.

So today I ask you to urge the NEW government of B.C. to give us all a definitive answer on whether we will be able to see these planes, upgraded, to help our province, help our communities, and help all of the other firefighting assets not because it is better but because it is one more tool in the toolbox, to help during the next worst season on record and for decades more. Thanks you for your support of this motion.

After a Con speaker came forward, the Mayor then had a chance and spoke to the sound of the Mars coming overhead and comforting those who needed it.

There were multiple speakers after that. One Con speaker brought up the legitimate concern that the UBCM was directing the province to enter into a contract with a specific company.  However, given the nature of the firefighting business, this was a big of a special case.

Director Jim Abrams (who is well known for his advocacy around BC Ferries) also spoke strongly in favour of the Martin Mars.

After a long debate, the question was called and the vote was made.  Delegates held up their hands, first for, then against. The Chair was not satisfied with the vote and so asked again for hands (cards) up for… and then against.  She then called the motion result as defeated.

That was the end of that process. It was a disappointment certainly, but it is also not the automatic end of the fight for the Martin Mars. The issue has now been raised with government so they could still choose to at least bring the issue forward.

The final event of the day, and conference, was the speech by Premier John Horgan!

I recorded nearly the entire thing, I only missed about 30 seconds of the beginning when he was making some hilarious jokes about Donald Trump and Sean Spicer.  He’s a very funny speaker. I was telling someone today that I have never Not laughed out loud when he was giving a speech.

He is also very good at bringing real policy into his speeches and he revealed a number of things that were subsequently reported in the press.

Here is his speech as it was live broadcast on my Facebook page.

That’s all I have from the UBCM for 2017. It was a very productive conference, the most productive yet. I feel like I got a lot more comfortable speaking to people and asking questions to Ministers and staff both at the mic and at the one on one meetings. I am glad we have 1 more year before the election to try to move on some of the things that were discussed at the conference.