Coal Trains still coming back to Vancouver Island?

Certainly looks like it.

A few months ago there were some articles online about a company looking to get the rights to and then mine coal near Courtney here on Vancouver Island. It caused quite a stir, particularly in the rail community as the company directly mentioned the close proximity to the E&N and the deep sea port at Port Alberni in its literature.

Well, even though the economy has gone in the tank, it seems as though things are still proceeding.

In February and March, Compliance Energy Corporation went through and signed a partnership in the project with I-Comox Coal Inc a subsidiary of ITOCHU Corporation and LG International Investments (Canada) Ltd. a subsidiary of LG International Corp. They also signed a deal with West Fraser Mills, the original holders of the land to purchase around 29,000 hectares near Buckley Bay and Courtney.

Below is an overview map of the area… with the “Bear” area just south of Cumberland and Comox Lake and the “Raven” area nearer Buckley Bay.

View Larger Map

The Main find that includes Metallurgic (iron/steel) grade coal is in the bottom middle of the image, near where it says “Comox Strathcona A”. This terrain view is easiest to see where the claim is as it relates to surrounding communities. The entire flat area between the water and where the mountain hills start from Fanny Bay in the South to Comox Lake in the North is the general area of the plot.

Here is a slide from a recent presentation given by CEC.

Presentation Screen Cap of VI Coal interests
You can see the various interests CEC has, with Raven being the one considered most profitable.

Their latest filings show that they are still actively pursuing the Raven project.

CEC has provided $7 Million to its Asian backers to “fund all of the activities necessary to reach a production decision on the Raven Coal Project.”

Notice that they said “production decision”, which is quite different from production itself. That said, they seem very optimistic on both the quality and marketability of the project. Other documents say they are hoping to have their first shipments in 2011 or 2012… but this little paragraph in their latest filing indicates there are financial pressures coming to bear that are not unrelated to the wider economy.

The Company will continue to require funds and as a result, will have to continue to rely on equity and debt financing. There can be no assurance that financing, whether debt or equity, will always be available to the Company in the amount required at any particular time. Management is of the opinion that sufficient working capital will be obtained from external financing sources to meet the Company’s liabilities as they come due.

So we’ll see what happens here. The partners in the project, ITOCHU and LG, are multi-billion dollar players in the asian coal and steel industry, so their financial well being is not in doubt. What is in doubt with whether this small company, lead by CEO John Tapics (out of Alberta electricity/coal sector, click for more on the Board), can make this happen, and more importantly, sell it to Island residents.

Source of Swine Flu might be found.

And it is a familiar refrain. In this story detailing what looks to be the first cases of swine flu hitting a village named La Gloria in Veracruz, Mexico the possible source, a large production pork factory.

A La Gloria resident who spoke to the Guardian on condition of anonymity yesterday described how illness swept through the village. “Some people started getting ill in February and an eight-month-old baby died,” she said. “After that another baby died on 21 March. Suddenly most of the village got ill. It was weekend and the tiny clinic here was closed. The state health authorities then did send doctors and nurses to look after us, and give us medication. About 60% of the village were ill and we asked them what it was and they said it was a severe and atypical cold. We talked about influenza and they said that was impossible, that influenza had been eradicated from Mexico.”


the US owner of an industrial pig production facility around 12 miles from La Gloria said it had found no clinical signs or symptoms of swine flu in its herd or Mexican employees. The world’s biggest pig meat producer, Virginia-based Smithfield, said it is co-operating with the Mexican authorities’ attempts to locate the possible source of the outbreak and will submit samples from its herds at its Granjas Carroll subsidiary to the University of Mexico for tests.


Smithfield, which is led by pork baron Joseph W Luter III, has previously been fined for environmental damage in the US. In October 2000 the supreme court upheld a $12.6m (£8.6m) fine levied by the US environmental protection agency which found that the company had violated its pollution permits in the Pagan River in Virginia which runs towards Chesapeake Bay. The company faced accusations that faecal and other bodily waste from slaughtered pigs had been dumped directly into the river since the 1970s .

I sincerely believe that with Listeriosis from Maple Leaf Foods, Salmonella from California, and Avian flu on Chicken farms… and now this…. well, shouldn’t we see this as a sign that Mother Nature is catching up to us? We are clearly tempting fate here with our gigantic food distribution networks.

It is time to relocalize in a big way. Grow locally, store locally, and only import luxury items that you can not produce at home.

This would not stop the spread of disease, but it would limit the waste, scale down the size of any operations making them more manageable and force those operations to maintain much higher standards of practice.

And just one more note before I finish. I discovered this link through a search for “swine flu” on twitter. I have discovered that Twitter really is an incredible way to find new information, fast, often long before it hits the airwaves.

And if you would like to see a Map of possible and confirmed Swine flu cases here you go. It was last updated around 5:30AM PST.

Transition Town Port Alberni first gathering!

7:57:30 PM: We’re talking about what Transition Towns is…

8:01:23 PM: Went through the Transition Primer and the Principles in the Transition Handbook (

8:07:27 PM: the global problem is just too much to consider…

8:07:42 PM: have to act locally because that’s the only change we can make anyway

8:07:59 PM: you can be a role model in your own community

8:08:45 PM: it’s just a matter of being a role model to Transition to a low-Energy pathway.

8:18:24 PM: Talking about creating a local currency for Port Alberni area businesses to encourage the business community

8:24:56 PM: Modelled after the Saltspring Island Dollar.

9:21:34 PM: The meeting just ended. Had a great discussion about what the next steps will be

9:21:46 PM: There will be another meeting on or around the 6th

9:22:04 PM: Dan is going to create a Port Alberni Transition mailing list

9:23:05 PM: We all agreed to try to bring 2 more people that might be interested to learn about what starting a Transition Town involves

9:25:17 PM: Throughout the meeting Guy kept bringing us back to the principles of Transition Town list in the book and on the primer (linked before)

9:26:12 PM: It naturally matched up with what we were chatted about during the meeting

9:26:55 PM: So… that’s it I guess. Next meeting, May 6, Dans place, you can email me to get on the mailing list if you’re not already.

9:30:45 PM: The short term goal is to get enough interested people in order to get a Transition Town Steering Group together.

The NDP should Axe the Tobacco Tax.

Carole James

Yes, they should. It adds $37 to a carton of cigarettes. Canadians have pumped $138 Billion into government coffers since Louis St. Laurent levied the first tobacco tax in 1950.

And where has that gotten us? Censorship. Certain companies can’t advertise in certain places… or at all? Discrimination. Folks, stuck outside, 5 metres from everything, trying to lite up in the cold Canadian wind.

Is this the Canada we want to live in? Where habit is treated like a threat rather than a comfort? Where businesses are sued instead of embraced? Where hospitals are filled with the sick and needy… rather than the terminally happy?

In 1965, 60% of Canadians were loving life in Marlboro country, now only 25% enjoy that priviledge.

Carole James, thousands of British Columbians are counting on you to keep fighting against these repressive regimes. Not since “Colonel” Drew stood in the House against another giant taxgrab in 1950 has there been someone to fight against these grave injustices. Good Luck.

George Alexander Drew


Pick Fruits with the least Pesticide!

EWG FoodNews just found a very handy document (PDF download here)… it’s a list of the 12 worst, and 15 best, fruits when it comes to pesticides:

What’s the Difference?
EWG research has found that people who eat the 12 most contami-
nated fruits and vegetables consume an average of 10 pesticides a
day. Those who eat the 15 least contaminated conventionally-grown
fruits and vegetables ingest fewer than 2 pesticides daily. The Guide
helps consumers make informed choices to lower their dietary
pesticide load.
Will Washing and Peeling Help?
Nearly all the studies used to create these lists assume that people
rinse or peel fresh produce. Rinsing reduces but does not eliminate

The Worst

Bell Pepper
Grapes (Imported)

The Best

Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas
Sweet Potato

So now you know… and now can you find that stuff locally… *and* without pesticides!? Might be a fun challenge