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INSIDE Biodiversity regulations outdated

PG 4

B.C. economy forecast to lead provinces

PG 6

Broadband Internet services expanded in rural areas

PG 7

PG 8 Tech, marketing firms make the business case for diversity

Petrochemical complex to head PG 12 back to BCR Industrial Site B.C. miner wins exploration tax PG 14 appeal Local company honoured for inclusivity

PG 15

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Biodiversity regulations outdated: Forest Practices Board

Conservation North held a rally in front of Mr. PG in September to call for more protection of the province’s primary and old-growth forests. — Citizen file photo

Nelson Bennett, Glacier Media

he Forest T Practices Board is recommending

regulatory changes, following a review of logging in the Prince George area that it found to be technically compliant but outdated. Basically, the existing regulations need

updating to better protect biodiversity, the board states in a recent report. The review of logging in the Prince George timber supply area (TSA) was prompted by a complaint, and conservationists are hailing the board’s report as confirmation that biodiversity in old growth forests is not

being well-managed. Conservation North is calling for a moratorium on logging until the regulations can be updated. The group also says that the recommendations being made don’t go far enough, as they do not appear to address a “loophole” that allows logging companies to log old growth in exchange

for “recruitment” strategies. Recruitment is defined as younger patches of forest that are not old growth, but which logging companies preserve as a kind of “IOU” since they will, over time, become old growth. “Put another way, licensees are using recruitment strategies as ... cont. on pg 5



... cont. from pg 4

giant loopholes through which to log remaining old growth by setting aside younger forests as potential future old growth,” Conservation North states in a press release. After reviewing logging practices in the Prince George TSA, the board found logging companies are complying with the Forest and Ranges Practices Act and a special “order” within it that addresses biodiversity specifically within the Prince George TSA. But the order is nearly 20 years old and predates a mountain pine beetle epidemic, which allowed for accelerated salvage logging of dead or dying pine. “The investigation found that licensees were complying with the legal requirements for

managing biodiversity,” the report states. “However, those requirements were established almost twenty years ago and have not been formally reviewed or revised. “In that time, the land base was severely affected by the MPB and salvage logging that followed, creating conditions that could not have been fully understood when the order was established. The investigation identified several actions that can be taken to improve management of biodiversity. “The board is calling for amendments to the Forest and Range Practices Act to incorporate tactical planning as a means to establish clear objectives for our forests and their many values.” The board makes two


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recommendations: Map old growth management areas in the TSA, and review and update requirements for managing biodiversity. But the biodiversity of younger forests is not the same as in old growth forests, and unless it ends the “recruitment strategy” that allows companies to log old growth stands in exchange for younger forest “IOUs,” Conservation North says old growth biodiversity in the region will continue to be degraded. “Recruitment strategies are fraudulent because they allow licensees to circumvent the intent of the biodiversity order,” Conservation North director Michelle Connolly said in a press release. “Unfortunately we have a district manager who has been signing off on them left

and right.” “This report makes it clear that there are terminal problems with how licensees are operating in the PG TSA,” said Jenn Matthews, outreach coordinator for Conservation North. “Industrial-scale logging must be put on hold until the recommendations of the board report are fully implemented.” The Council of Forest Industries (COFI) says it agrees the order needs to be updated. “As this review is undertaken, it’s important that the process is collaborative and includes government, First Nations, labour, community leaders, industry and others,” COFI CEO Susan Yurkovich said in a statement.


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B.C. economy forecast to lead provinces in 2021 B.C.’s economy is expected to lead the country’s economic recovery this year, as consumers look to spend money saved on travel and dining out on goods. — Citizen file photo

Tyler Orton, Glacier Media

he Boxing Day sales T might be over but it looks like Canadians will be

ready to keep the economy chugging along well into the new year, according to forecasts from BMO. “British Columbia continues to look like an outperformer,” senior economist Robert Kavcic wrote on Jan. 4 note. The province’s real GDP is pegged to expand 5.6 per cent year-over-year over the course of 2021 — the highest among all provinces and above the national average of five per cent growth. The five per cent projection for Canada would be the highest rate of expansion for the country since 2000. The B.C. government, typically much more cautious in projections than private sector economists, pegs the province’s growth at three per cent for 2021. Unemployment on the West A6

Coast is also expected to be the lowest in Canada by the end of the year, running at 6.5 per cent. BMO pegs this year’s national unemployment rate at 7.5 per cent, while other big provinces such as Ontario (7.5 per cent), Quebec (seven per cent) and Alberta (9.1 per cent) are all expected to lag behind the West Coast. Economic growth will get off to a slow start, however, as first-quarter growth “will likely slow to a crawl” nationally during the colder winter months before bouncing back with eight per cent annualized growth in the second quarter. The Canadian economy managed to expand five per cent (annualized) in the fourth quarter of 2020. “Major downside risks include a possible glitch in vaccine rollout (say, due to safety concerns), a more adverse mutation of the virus and the unwinding of fiscal stimulus later this year. One

threat we probably won’t need to worry about is a spike in inflation (and interest rates), given the dynamic duo of lofty unemployment and advanced automation. More likely is a correction in asset prices if they run too far ahead of fundamentals, which could slow spending,” senior economist Sal Guatieri wrote in a separate note. “Unlike last year, however, there is more upside for the economy. A smoother rollout of vaccines could lead to early herd immunity. As well, flush with savings, consumers could ‘let loose’ after spending a year in COVID prison.” The optimistic projections come the same day as a new variant of COVID-19 forces the U.K. into a new lockdown expected to last weeks. Canada suspended flights to and from the U.K. last month in response to concerns over the variant that appears to be far more contagious. Guatieri said that with diminished desire to travel

or even dine out, Canadians are now buying more goods “with anything tied to homes or recreation flying off the shelves.” “Although some hard-hit service industries will struggle until most of the population is inoculated (likely in the summer), the goodsproducing sector will continue to expand. Record home sales are bound to simmer down, but residential construction should stay aloft given recordlow resale availability,” he stated, referring to national trends. BMO also anticipates the loonie strengthening to $1.25 (US$0.80) vs. the greenback by late 2021. “This is near purchasing power parity, limiting its impact on the economic recovery though keeping the trade deficit large. The loonie should benefit from firmer resource prices … as global demand improves,” Guatieri said. INDUSTRY & TRADE | WINTER/SPRING 2021

Broadband Internet services expanded in rural areas

Citizen staff

ore residents in rural M areas in north-central B.C. will have access

to broadband wireless internet services, thanks a project funding by the B.C. government and ABC Communications. The company, with funding from the Connecting British Columbia program, completed service expansions in Clucluz Lake, Pilot Mountain, Francois Lake, Fraser Lake, Lone Butte, Lac La Hache

and rural areas around Quesnel, Vanderhoof and 100 Mile House in December. Work on the service expansion began in the spring of 2020. Service expansions in rural areas around Prince George were completed earlier last year. “While the internet is something that many people take for granted, the Connecting BC program reminds us that many rural and remote areas don’t have high-speed access,”



Northern Development CEO Joel Mckay said in a press release. “This first step will provide increased economic opportunities for these communities and many other communities in the near future.” A total of 31 areas in the region were upgraded to broadband service this year. “Earlier this year, we heard from communities that were experiencing increasing demand for internet access,” B.C. Minister of Citizens’ Services Lisa Beare said in a

press release. “Networks were being pushed to their limit as more people stayed home to work and learn remotely. The Connecting British Columbia program helps internet service providers like ABC Communications with the costs of making quick upgrades to improve internet performance and reliability, so people have the connectivity they need to help navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Tech, marketing firms make the business case for diversity Tammy Tsang is the co-founder of AndHumanity. Submitted photo

Tyler Orton, Glacier Media

Tammy Tsang and her fellow co-founder had two years of prep ahead of them leading up to the spring 2020 launch of their marketing agency, one aimed at targeting demographics too often overlooked or marginalized in most marketing and communications campaigns in Canada. “What we were doing was actually collaborating and learning from DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] experts at that time, and we didn’t want to launch until we felt our internal team were experts,” said the brand

value strategist at AndHumanity (a subsidiary of My Loud Speaker Peer to Peer Marketing Corp., which Tsang also co-founded). “It was coincidental that we had launched exactly the same weekend Black Lives Matter [BLM] campaigns started to take off or go viral on social media.” Over the spring and summer, the BLM movement ignited a sense of awareness over institutional racism facing racialized and marginalized communities that had frequently been disregarded. Since then, Tsang said organizations have been tapping her firm’s expertise in DEI as they’re walked through inclusion

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audits and gaps in services, while messaging is translated into different languages and underrepresented groups are prioritized for more effective communication campaigns. Even if some organizations may not feel as if there is a moral imperative to engage with underrepresented groups, Tsang said they should recognize there is a business case. “Demographics are changing all the time, and yet targets have not adapted to this ever-changing diversity that’s happening in Canada and Vancouver,” she said, adding companies stand to lose out on market share if they don’t recognize these shifts in demographics and adjust their messaging. Made-in-B.C. technology is also adjusting to recognize those shifts. Prior to the 2020 racial justice protests, Thoughtexchange (Fulcrum Management Solutions Ltd.) was best known for developing a platform that crowdsources ideas from groups ranging from 10 to 100,000 people. The platform allows leaders of organizations to ask open-ended questions to groups, which in turn provide anonymized answers that can be rated by those who may agree or disagree. Clients have included major corporate players such as American Airlines Inc. and McDonald’s Corp. The Rossland, B.C., tech company’s platform is now facilitating efforts from businesses to address systemic racism through anonymized engagements with employees. “The last thing you want to do is stand up publicly and talk about how they’ve experienced being marginalized in your company. It has consequences for them when they’re standing up, making

statements publicly,” said Karen Craggs-Milne, head of anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion at Thoughtexchange. “It helped me understand how important this tool is to changing the way we do DE&I because a lot of DE&I work right now done by experts and done by companies is top down. Experts tell you what you need to teach, and experts tell you what you should have in your policy strategy when really the challenge today is for us to really create authentic, open and trusting spaces where we listen to our own employees, or we take actions that’s based on what’s most important to everybody and not just to three people at the top, or not just to the five people in the DE&I committee.” CEO and co-founder Dave MacLeod said growth at the company is up 600 per cent year over year, in part spurred on by the protests that had begun unfolding in the wake of this year’s racial justice movements. Meanwhile, a May 2020 McKinsey & Company report bolstered findings from 2015 regarding the financial success of businesses that are ethnically and gender diverse. Companies with more than 30 per cent female executives were 25 per cent more likely to be more profitable than the national industry median, and ethnically diverse companies were 36 per cent more likely to be profitable than the national industry median. (McKinsey’s survey was based on a broad range of nations.) But both Craggs-Milne and Tsang said businesses must be earnest in their efforts to change. “A lot of organizations who tend to talk about it and not follow through tend to get called out a lot,” Tsang said. “It’s not authentic. It’s called performative.” INDUSTRY & TRADE | WINTER/SPRING 2021

Dear Premier Horgan and Minister Fleming Let’s #Get2Yes on a new

Taylor Bridge

British Columbia has a new Transportation Minister, Victoria’s Rob Fleming. Northeast B.C. has an old Taylor Bridge that desperately needs upgrading or replacement. So how do we get this old bridge on to the new minister’s radar, when they are nearly 1,300 kilometres apart? For more than 60 years, the Taylor Bridge has been the glue that has kept the North and South Peace regions connected, but it’s coming to the end of its lifespan. Many of the bridge’s major problems have been outlined in numerous reports: • Deck and catwalk deterioration

• Localized corrosion issues • High maintenance costs • Major route, long detours The Taylor Bridge replacement is an important piece of the economic puzzle for northeastern B.C. and ICBA Energy’s newest #Get2Yes project. ICBA Energy has launched BuildTaylor.ca, a website where British Columbians can send a message to the Premier, Transportation Minister, and Finance Minister about how important this major infrastructure project is to our community and province. It all starts with you. Please visit BuildTaylor.ca and add your support to the effort to #Get2Yes on this vital Peace River project.

Support a new Taylor Bridge at


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Petrochemical complex to head back to BCR Industrial Site

West Coast Olefins president Ken James says the company has returned to its original plan to build a petrochemical complex in the BCR Industrial Site, after considering moving the project north of the city. – Citizen file photo

Mark Nielsen

The massive West Coast Olefins Ltd. petrochemical complex is returning to Prince George. Originally proposed for land on the BCR Industrial Site, proponents began looking north to sites near Summit Lake and Bear Lake in response to public pressure. But speaking on a webcast hosted by the B.C. Resources Coalition in December, WCOL president Ken James said the project is heading back to the city. He attributed the decision a combination of steadfast opposition from a “vocal minority” no matter where it was to be located combined with pleas from the “silent majority” to bring it back to the original site in Prince George. “We didn’t get the objectives we wanted by going north,” James said. “But what we did discover is those in opposition were never going to be satisfied unless we were


willing to just roll up our project and give up. “But when we moved north, that was actually (when we got) the most positive feedback we got for our project. People disappointed to lose the jobs, people disappointed if they were going to have to do 45-minute commutes each way for people that did get jobs out there, so there was a lot of positive actual messaging we got when we left.” First announced in July 2019, the complex is to consist of a natural gas recovery system that would take feedstock from the nearby Enbridge pipeline and transport it to a 120-hectare (300-acre) property zoned for heavy industrial on the BCR to supply an ethylene plant and an ethylene derivatives plant. The ethylene plant would produce about one million tonnes per year of polymer-grade ethylene. At the derivatives plant, it would be further refined to produce

polyethylene - essentially plastic in pellet form - and possibly monoethylene glycol - used as antifreeze and heat transfer fluid - mostly for export to Asia. In all, the works would cost at least $5.6 million to build and generate 2,000 to 3,000 jobs at its peak and employ about 1,000 people once completed. The natural gas recovery system would account for about $1.3 billion of that total, the ethylene plant for $2.8 billion and the derivatives plant for $1.5 billion. James said a significant portion of the construction work will go to local contractors and, in an interview, he said about 20 acres of the site has been set aside for a fabricating shop that BID Group will operate. He said the work would start with the recovery system. The hope is to start construction on that part in early 2022 and have it completed six months to a year ahead of

completion of the ethylene and derivatives plants which James hopes to see up an running by as soon as early 2024. Next steps include reviving an application to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office for the ethylene and derivatives plants and guiding an application for the natural gas recovery system through a process set out by the provincial Oil and Gas Commission. As well, negotiating an impact benefits agreement with the Lhiedli T’enneh is on the list. Meanwhile, James said long-time city councillor Don Zurowski and Dennis Schwab founder of Western Industrial Contractors Ltd. and IDL Projects Inc. have been added to the company’s board of directors. “I think we’ve got a couple of good leaders who are well connected with the community,” James said.


Pandemic barely slowed construction industry A four-story apartment building and parkade at 4413 Glen Shee Road was the most-valuable private-sector building permit issued by the City of Prince George in 2020. The project is worth an estimated $14 million. City of Prince George handout photo

In 2020 the city issued a total of 532 permits with a combined The COVID-19 pandemic value of $219.02 million, didn’t have a significant chilling compared to 611 permits worth effect on the construction $223.45 million in 2019 and industry in the city. 515 permits worth $186.66 According to a report to city million in 2018. council on Jan. 11, the City “Council is extremely pleased of Prince George saw a less and impressed to see these than two per cent drop in the important economic indicators value of building permits issued for Prince George are in 2020 compared to 2019’s continuing at near record levels record year. even through the pandemic, Citizen staff

which has had such a negative impact for the economy,” Mayor Lyn Hall said in a press release. “We are very pleased and thankful that investors, businesses, and developers are continuing to recognize the potential of our city. Certainly, the city is always more than willing and eager to work with investors and developers.” The top-five biggest projects approved in 2020 included

the new downtown pool ($35 million), a four-storey apartment building with parkade on Glen Shee Road ($14 million), Primex Properties’ new commercial building on George Street ($9 million), a four-storey, 75-unit apartment building on Recplace Drive ($5.9 million), and the Elizabeth Fry Society’s threestorey social housing project on 14th Avenue ($5.6 million).

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B.C. miner wins exploration tax appeal

The Galore Creek copper-gold project is being developed by Teck and Newmont. — Galore Creek Mining handout photo

Nelson Bennett, Glacier Media

Teck Resources is entitled to claim 100 per cent of its exploration expenses on the Galore Creek mine development project and apply it to another one of its mines for tax purposes, the BC Supreme Court ruled earlier this month. The dispute over how much of its exploration expenses Teck could claim arose when the BC Ministry of Finance determined Teck was eligible to claim only 50 per cent of its exploration expenses on Galore Creek because it was not the sole owner. During the period in question A14

– 2010 and 2011 -- Teck was in a partnership with NovaGold Resources on the Galore Creek project in northwest B.C. Newmont Corp. is now Teck’s new partner in the Galore Creek Mining Corp. While NovaGold contributed mineral claims and all related infrastructure as part of its contribution to the partnership on the project, it was Teck that incurred the exploration expenses – about $9.9 million over two years. Under the Mineral Tax Act (MTA), a company that owns more than one mine is permitted to claim exploration expenses for one mine and apply it, for tax purposes, to

another mine. In Teck’s case, the company claimed 100 per cent of the expenses for Galore Creek but claimed the expenses for its Highland Valley copper mine, which it owns outright. But the Ministry of Finance denied the claim, saying Teck could only claim 50 per cent of its exploration expenses for Galore Creek, since it was not the sole owner, but a partner. However, as the court pointed out, NovaGold, did not claim any exploration expenses for Galore Creek for the period in dispute. “The evidence is that NovaGold has not claimed any of the costs funded by the petitioner,” the court ruling

states. “For the years under review, the petitioner (Teck) elected to allocate its proportionate share of the Galore Creek Mine exploration costs from 2010 and 2011 to the HV Mine for its 2011 and 2012 fiscal years,” Justice Laura Gerow’s decision reads. In her ruling, Gerow concluded that Teck was responsible for 100 per cent of the exploration expenses on Galore Creek for the years in question and was therefore entitled to claim 100 per cent on its taxes. She ordered the matter be referred back to commissioner of mineral tax for an adjustment. INDUSTRY & TRADE | WINTER/SPRING 2021

Local company honoured for inclusivity Westcana Electric vice president Doug Engstrom talks about what it took for his company to win a third Builders Code Champion Award in a video produced by the Builders Code program. — YouTube video capture image

Citizen staff

Prince George-based Westcana Electric was one of six B.C. businesses to be honoured with a 2020 Builders Code Champion Award in December. The awards were launched in 2019 to recognize construction companies taking proactive measures to eliminate discrimination, hazing, bullying and harassment on worksites in B.C. Westcana Electric was named the 2020 Loyalty Champion. Since the Builders Code program was launched in 2018, the number of women working in construction trades in B.C. has grown from 4.6 per cent to six per cent of the workforce. “Builders Code sets the foundations, the building blocks for a positive culture. It’s something we strive to follow, and I recommend other companies strive to follow it,” Westcana Electric vice president Doug Engstrom said in a press release. “Open up your doors, be inclusive be respectful, hire more women, be diverse, it’ll have a positive effect in your company.” It’s the third Builders Code Champion Award for the company, which won two last year. Westcana is a member of the Prince George Nechako WINTER/SPRING 2021 | INDUSTRY & TRADE

Aboriginal and Education Training Associations (PGNAETA) Women in Trades Program. Their workforce is 30 per cent female – five times the provincial average participation rate for women in trades. The company is based in Prince George, with locations in Terrace, Fort St. John, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nelson and Penticton. “This award category recognizes companies that value their employees and hire with retention top of mind. Their managers and supervisors work hard to create a safe, positive, and productive worksite and are invested in the development and success of all employees,” a statement issued by the B.C. Construction Association said. “(Westcana Electric) offers progressive benefits such as flexible schedule, family leave, access to childcare, and other competitive advantages that keep your workers loyal. Their local leadership proves their proud commitment to building a construction industry that works for everyone.” Judging for the awards by done by Minerva BC, the B.C. Construction Association and the Builders Code governance committee. The awards ceremony planned for this month was cancelled, due to

the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s other recipients were Chinook Scaffold Systems and Mazzei Electric – both based in Nanaimo – and Houle Electric, RAM Consulting Ltd. and Lafarge Canada of Vancouver. Houle Electric, Chinook Scaffold and Lafarge

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Underground gold mine proposed for Wells Arthur Williams


illy Barker may be back in business. Last fall, Barkerville Gold Mines Ltd. applied to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office for approval to build a new underground gold mine in the District of Wells. The proposed mine would employ roughly 250 people during the two-year construction period and 460 people during the 16-year life of the mine, Barkerville Gold Mines vice-president Chris Pharness said during a presentation to the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George board. “Our goal is to hire as many local people as we can,” Pharness said. “We’re preparing to do a lot of training.” People with work experience in the forestry section are a natural fit to transition into mining, he added. Currently, the company employs many underground miners from Saskatchewan at its operations, Pharness said, but they hope to take advantage of government training funding to train people from Wells, Quesnel and Prince George to work at the proposed Cariboo Gold Project mine. The majority of the employees at the mine will work on a two-weeksin, two-weeks-out schedule, and live in a planned 200-person


camp on site when working. The proposed mine site is just southwest of the Wells townsite, between Wells and Jack of Clubs lake – roughly eight kilometres from the Barkerville Historic Town and Park. The Cariboo Gold Project is expected to be a “lowenvironmental impact” project, Pharness said. “All of these sites are previouslydisturbed, with the exception of our transmission line,” Pharness said. The mine site has already been disturbed by a historic gold mine and the waste rock will be stored at the existing Bonanza Ledge Mine, located four kilometres away. Pharness said the company is looking to relocate and preserve a mine head building dating from the 1930s on the site. The company plans to upgrade the existing Quesnel River (QR) Mill and haul the ore 115 km from the mine to the mill, located 20 km northwest of Likely. The project will use existing roads, he added, including a section of Highway 26, Nyland Lake Road, Quesnel Hydraulic Road and 2700 Road. “With the QR Mill, there is an existing tailings storage facility,” he said. The existing tailings facility is a tailings pond, he said, similar to

the one used at the Mount Polley mine that failed dramatically in August 2014, spilling contaminated water into Polley Lake and Hazeltine Creek. When they upgrade the mill, they plan to upgrade the tailings storage facility to a “dry-stack” facility, he said. The water will be treated and drained from the tailings pond. “We take the water out of the tailings, then make clay-like bricks and stack it,” Pharness said. “The idea is you’re not maintaining dams with water behind them.” The tailings bricks are covered with a clay cap and soil, then replanted, creating a landform similar to a natural hill, he explained. A 69-km-long high-voltage transmission line linking the mine to the Barlow Substation, near Quesnel, is proposed to power the mine operations. The project is estimated to cost $306 million and Barkerville Gold Mines hopes to receive regulatory approval this year and begin construction in 2022, with mine operations to begin in 2024 and run until 2040. Once the deposit is exhausted, there will be a two-year reclamation period to close the mine. “The geologists think there could be more than 16 years there,” Pharness said.

Once work begins underground, they’ll be better able to determine the extent of the gold deposits on the site, he said. “I’m sure it’s pretty exciting for the District of Wells and Cariboo Regional District,” regional district chairperson Art Kaehn said. “I’m sure the benefits will ripple out our way.” The company has been engaging and plans to continue to work with the community and local Indigenous groups, Pharness said. In October, the company signed an agreement with the Lhtako Dene Nation for the life of the project. “The Cariboo Gold Project is located within the territory (the Lhtako Dene Nation) have traditionally used and occupied,” Lhtako Dene Chief Cliff Lebrun said in a press release. “The protection of the land, water, resources and our way of life has guided our negotiating team. This agreement confirms our relationship with (Barkerville Gold Mines), to ensure we will work together to provide meaningful training, employment and business opportunities for (Lhtako Dene) people.” The deal also includes provisions for the First Nation to participate in the economic opportunities created by the project, Lebrun said. INDUSTRY & TRADE | WINTER/SPRING 2021

This map shows the proposed location of the Cariboo Gold Project mine site, transmission line and related locations. — Barkerville Gold Mines Ltd. handout image

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City council supports pot store applications Arthur Williams

City council lent its support to four separate applications for cannabis retail stores in November. Council approved a three year temporary-use permit and supported for Epik Products Inc., and supported the company’s application to the B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch for a retail cannabis licence. “I will support this. It’s a legal business selling a legal product,” Coun. Brian Skakun said. “It’s a group of individuals who are investing in the downtown.” It was the company’s second time before council seeking a temporary-use permit for its proposed shop at 356 George St. Council rejected a previous application on Sept. 14. Mayor Lyn Hall said he toured the site, along with other members of council, and came away with a different viewpoint. Hall voted against the application on Sept. 14, raising concerns about the number of cannabis stores downtown, A18

including Grasshopper Retail Inc., located a block away. “I was very interested in having my safety concerns alleviated, which they were,” Hall said. He was also happy to see the company intends to provide educational information about cannabis use at the store. Coun. Kyle Sampson said council’s responsibility is to make decisions on land use and there is nothing within provincial regulations or city bylaws prohibiting cannabis retailers from being located near to each other. Coun. Cori Ramsay was the only member of council to vote against the application the second time, arguing that the city’s policy for cannabis retail stores should be in line with liquor stores. Under B.C. regulations, liquor stores are typically required to be be at least one kilometre apart, and the city’s bylaws stipulate a distance of at least 1.6 km. “If these were two liquor stores, it wouldn’t be allowed,” Ramsay said. “It’s really tough to go on a case-

by-case basis, and not have some standard. I really want us to be consistent on this.” Grasshopper Retail Inc. was also before council in November, requesting a rezoning for its location at 421 George St. The company has operated a store at the site since receiving a temporary use permit from the city in April 2019. That temporary-use permit would have expired in 2022. Rezoning the property to

allow cannabis sales means the company will not have to reapply to the city to continue operating at the location. Acting deputy city manager Ian Wells said the RCMP and city’s bylaw services have had no issues regarding the store. In a brief presentation to city council, Grasshopper co-owner Sandy Przysieny said the company has now purchased its building

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location and employs 15 people. Coun. Terri McConnachie congratulated the owners for their success. “Starting a new business, it’s not easy at the best of times – especially with a new substance and during a global pandemic,” McConnachie said. Council approved the rezoning unanimously. Council also approved rezonings and supported applications for cannabis licences for proposed cannabis stores at 2626 Vance Rd. and 6055 WINTER/SPRING 2021 | INDUSTRY & TRADE

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