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THURSDAY January 16, 2020

The Mackenzie Matters march from the forestry offices to the Mackenzie Rec Centre last August.

Why the province’s working forests aren’t working Nelson BENNETT Glacier Media


nyone who has ever flown from Vancouver to Prince Rupert, Prince George or Fort Nelson and looked out the window may have wondered to themselves: “How can B.C. possibly be running out of trees to cut?” B.C.’s forest sector was beaten to a pulp in 2019, as a “perfect storm” of market, policy and natural forces converged, triggering multiple sawmill closures and curtailments, and spurring anger among laid-off workers towards politicians and conservationists. When the Sierra Club and Wilderness Committee tried to hold an event in Campbell River on November 25, it was shut down by the city and police, for fear of confrontation. What was supposed to be a town hall talk on old-growth forests and climate change turned into an impromptu pro-logging rally, according to

the Campbell River Mirror. “It’s not a very popular time to be an environmentalist,” said Mark Worthing, a climate and conservation campaigner for the Sierra Club. Nor is it a popular time to be a BC NDP cabinet minister in ridings where sawmill workers and loggers are now struggling to meet mortgage and car payments. There, the general downturn in forestry is aggravated by a prolonged strike by Western Forest Products (TSX:WEF) workers. When Claire Trevena, NDP MLA for North Island, held a recent town hall in Campbell River, angry, out-of-work loggers accused government of indifference to their plight. B.C. forestry companies have gone from making record profits in 2017 and 2018 to posting losses in 2019. “The companies are bleeding,” John

Desjardins, forest products lead for KPMG in Canada, said at a recent Greater Vancouver Board of Trade talk on forestry. “They’re in the red.” Six sawmills permanently closed in 2019, and with shifts that have been eliminated at mills that are still operating, it adds up to the equivalent of eight sawmills. Thousands of sawmill workers, truck loggers and related service workers were laid off in 2019. Employment and Social Development Canada confirms that unemployment insurance claims went up in B.C. by 1,170 between September 2018 and the same month in 2019. The effects are most immediately felt in Interior towns like 100 Mile House, where forestry accounts for one out of every four jobs. But forestry accounts for one-third of B.C.’s exports, and even in Vancouver, the economic impact will be felt, because more

sawmill closures are inevitable – possibly followed by pulp mill closures. “More than 40% of forestry jobs are located in Vancouver and in the southwest part of the province,” Susan Yurkovich, CEO of the BC Council of Forest Industries, recently told the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, adding that forestry in B.C. accounts for 100,000 direct and indirect jobs. Forestry is cyclical, and B.C. is used to downturns. “This time it’s different,” Yurkovich said. Other provinces, like Quebec, have not seen the wave of sawmill closures that B.C. has. Whereas B.C. used to be “the last man standing” when a cyclical downturn came in forestry – owing to the fact it was a lowcost jurisdiction – that’s no longer the case. One of the biggest problems has become a lack of economically harvestable timber. continued on pg 3

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continued from pg 1

In a province with 55 million hectares of forest – an area roughly three times the size of the U.K. – how is that possible? The most visible answer is the toll taken by the mountain pine beetle, and by forest fires. But it’s not just pests and natural disasters that have eaten up B.C.’s timber supply. Pressure to preserve forests for conservation or yield them to recreation and increased urbanization have resulted in a significant shrinkage of the workingforest land base. “We need to invest in and protect the working-forest land base,” Yurkovich said. “We should decide on the size of the working-forest land base, and then we should lock it in.” She added that the industry is burdened by a “jungle” of regulations that increase operating costs. “We need to thin out that jungle,” she said. But drawing a moat around B.C.’s working forests is easier said than done. For one thing, it’s not likely to win the support of conservation groups, which continue to press for less logging, not more. “I can see what [Yurkovich] might be gunning for there,” the Sierra Club’s Worthing said. “We’d never particularly stand behind super checkerboard, blackand-white sacrifice zones and conservation zones that have discrete lines in that way, because that’s not really how ecosystems work. “I would say that the timber-harvesting land base hasn’t been chewed away at by other interests. It’s been really heavily logged on really short rotations. And I would argue that the large tenure holders and the major logging corporations have basically run through a resource far too fast and have not been managing their existing timber-harvesting land base sustainably.” On paper, B.C. should theoretically still have sufficient working forests to supply

Natural resources survey underway

mills. In reality, some of the timber deemed working forest is too costly under the current system to log. Jim Girvan, an independent forestry consultant, points to the Prince George timber supply area (TSA) as an example. At eight million hectares, it is the single largest TSA in B.C.

We need to invest in and protect the workingforest land base

But once all the exclusions for recreation, wildlife habitat conservation, old-growth preservation and other measures are accounted for, it leaves just three million hectares that can be logged, Girvan said. “They identify the land base on paper, but it’s not a circle on a map because you still have landscape restrictions,” Girvan said. If the Prince George TSA is further apportioned as First Nations tenures, as has been proposed, it would reduce the allowable annual cut (AAC) a further 3% to 4%, Girvan said.

“There’s another shift gone, just because you’re drawing different lines on a map,” Girvan said. The coastal cut has shrunk by 8.5 million cubic metres since the 1990s. That is enough to supply 10 coastal sawmills, Girvan said. The Great Bear Rainforest alone took 6.4 million hectares. Only 295,000 hectares were preserved for logging. “In that 295,000 hectares, now you’re very restricted on what you can log.” Increased log exports have been blamed, in part, for the shortage of timber on the B.C. coast – something the NDP government has been trying to address with new regulations. Girvan doesn’t think any of the regulations that the government has adopted will address the fundamental problem of access to timber. “It’s not log exports – it’s because the cut went down,” Girvan said. “The cut’s going down because they’re systematically preserving more and more timber for a variety of reasons.” While he agrees that declaring workingforest boundaries with regulatory goalposts that don’t move would go a long way to ensuring the long-term viability of forestry in B.C., Girvan said the pressure from urban development is unrelenting. He cites controversy over a plan to log in the Mount Elphinstone area of the Sunshine Coast as an example. Despite having set aside 15,400 hectares for parks and conservation, and 2,900 hectares of old growth, the province is under continued pressure to stop logging in the area that is still designated for harvesting. It has reduced the logging area on the south slope to just 27 hectares per year – half of what the AAC for that area would support. And just recently, the B.C. government called a halt to all logging in the Skagit

River valley in an exclusion zone between Manning and Skagit provincial parks called the “doughnut hole.” “The problem with putting a circle on a map and saying ‘This is logging’ is that it never gains traction because of this growing urban interface,” Girvan said. “Eventually somebody will move next door to it and say, ‘Oh no, no, you can’t log in my backyard.’” While an ever-shrinking land base is part of the problem in B.C., the cost of harvesting is also a challenge. There are stands of trees that could be cut but which simply do not provide an economic return. And there are plenty of trees in the northern half of B.C., which could be opened up to logging, but the distance and remoteness would add to the cost of harvesting and transporting logs. “You could move further north, but you run into economics,” said John Innes, the dean of the faculty of forestry at the University of British Columbia. He added that the working forests are not being managed in a way that maximizes the timber resource, the way they are in northern Europe. “We could be growing our trees more intensively, we could be growing them faster, we could be producing a higher volume from the same area,” he said, adding that that would be a very long-term project. He also points out that it is the big forestry companies in B.C. that have been hit the hardest by the lack of timber, increasing costs and falling lumber prices. “It is still possible to make money with trees in British Columbia,” Innes said. “We have the big mills focusing on dimensional lumber, and those are the ones that have been suffering. But if you look at the smaller specialty mills, they generally have been doing OK still.”

more than most that even if you aren’t working directly in the resource sector the prosperity of your community and family is connected to it.” The survey is a joint effort which also involves the BC Chamber and the research company, Abacus Data. Results will be revealed at the 17th annual BC Natural Resources Forum, Jan. 28-30, at the Prince George Conference and Civic Centre. C3 Alliance president and CEO Sarah Weber said the main objective is to “really take the pulse of the industrial sectors of the province, and gather a solid baseline data-set,” both for an understanding of today’s forestry, mining, energy, agriculture and other natural resource fields, but also to have a basis for comparison as future surveys are conducted. Useful long-term trends will

emerge over time as more surveys are completed. Survey questions were compiled by a steering committee of industry leaders from across the spectrum of natural resource sectors. The goal is to reach at least 1,000 respondents and to have input from all areas of the province. “We will have an on-stage presentation of the results,” Weber said. “We also expect to use some of the data in the lead-up to the conference, to help shape the themes of the discussions. There will also be a comprehensive report with easily digestible information, so that the findings can be put to good use.” Premier John Horgan is one of the keynote speakers booked for the three-day conference, which will also feature cabinet ministers and resource sector leaders.

Citizen staff

hink the government is doing enough to encourage investment in B.C.’s energy Tsector? Would you want your son or daughter to pursue a career in the forest industry? The natural resource sector wants to hear from you. An online survey being conducted by the C3 Alliance Corp. (the group that hosts the annual BC Natural Resoures Forum in Prince George) offers northern British Columbians a chance to have their opinions heard by the powersthat-be making decisions which affect development of our province’s natural resources. “If you’re living in the north – your voice needs to be heard,” said Val Litwin, president and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. “Northerners appreciate

The survey can be found at https://www.bcmindreader.com/c/f/nfr-survey-2019-c3alliance

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Angela Naeth of Prince George breaks the tape at the finish while winning the Little Debbie Chattanooga Ironman triathlon, Sept. 29 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Naeth overcame a two-year struggle with injuries and Lyme disease to qualify for the 2020 Ironman world championships in Kona, Hawaii next December.

Triathlete fights off Lyme disease Ted Clarke Citizen staff


ngela Naeth doesn’t play baseball but it would not be a stretch to call her the queen of the curveball. The past two years of her life as a worldclass professional triathlete have been hit with a devastating series of pitches that threatened to end her career but she stubbornly refused to step out of the batter’s box and has returned to the top of her game.

Her triumph over the torturous effects of Lyme disease, which at one point left her virtually unable to walk, was confirmed Sept. 29 when the 37-year-old from Prince George won the Little Debbie Chattanooga Ironman in Tennessee, qualifying Naeth for next year’s Ironman world championships in Kona, Hawaii. Naeth’s symptoms first cropped up late in 2017. She was feeling overly fatigued, had headaches, anxiety and depression

and couldn’t seem to shake her intense leg pain. The pain was in her bones and it got so bad she thought she had broken a femur and her hips. She went through MRIs and other medical procedures and a test for Lyme disease came back negative. Believing it was a virus, Naeth was told by one of her doctors to take a year off. A few months later in April 2018 she went to the doctor who had fixed her foot injury and he referred Naeth to a Lyme disease specialist. After a series of tests it was confirmed she had the tick-borne disease, which also gave her bartonella and babesia co-infections.

The great thing about this sport is you can be a professional for a long time. I started in my late-20s and you really have an avenue to make a living and have fun with it.

“I must have gotten bitten by a tick at some point, I do remember scratching something off the back of my head,” Naeth said. She was put on heavy does of antibiotics and her symptoms eventually disappeared. She returned to racing and in 2018 had five podium finishes in Ironman and 70.3 (half-Ironman) races and won the Lobsterman and Boston triathlons, which led into the Ironman world championship in Kona, Hawaii. “I felt great, I placed eighth in Kona, honestly, the most fulfilling race of my career,” Naeth said. In January she went to a training camp in Florida and felt her symptoms coming back. “Sometimes what happens with Lyme is the bacteria gets in your system and it’s sometimes not known if you get rid of it all,” she said. “So when you go through stressful periods there’s a chance for Lyme to build back up and it will take over your system again and basically that’s what happened.” She was put on another intense round of antibiotic treatments. One of the drugs affected her blood pressure and in late-May she fainted while training, fell and broke her wrist. It was not a clean break and required emergency surgery, but two weeks later a doctor in Colorado determined she needed another operation to fully repair the break. Forced to wear a bar to immobilize her arm, Naeth missed most of the summer race season and still hadn’t qualified for Kona. She raced in Denmark at Ironman Copenhagen in August and finished fourth but needed to place at least third to earn her qualifying spot. However, her Chattanooga win means she will get to race in Kona next December. “It’s just a sigh of relief in a sense that now I have a full year to get ready for this race and do the best I can,” she said. “It was an amazing experience (in 2018) and I’d be happy just starting again so continued on pg 5

The Regional | www.pgcitizen.ca continued from pg 4

I’m super-excited about being there and trying to give it my all. “The great thing about this sport is you can be a professional for a long time. I started in my late-20s and you really have an avenue to make a living and have fun with it.” Naeth’s first world championship in 2015 came less than two weeks after tearing a tendon in her foot. She was in sixth place after the 3.9-kilometre swim and 180 km bike when her injury forced to pull out of the race heading into the 42.2 km run. Her eighth-place finish in 2018 marked the third time in her 12-year pro career she’s broken the nine-hour Ironman barrier. She first accomplished that in 2014 in her first win at Chattanooga and also dropped below nine hours in 2015 in Texas while winning the North American championship. Naeth’s battle with infection is an ongoing process. She went back to her doctor a month ago and found out the bartonella infection is still present. “Ticks can carry eight-to-10 different types of bacteria and give them to their hosts, and so many people go undiagnosed,” she said. “You could have headaches and someone treats you for headaches or you could have sore legs and someone treats you for fibromialgia or even (multiple sclerosis), it’s not something that’s wellunderstood. “The biggest thing is to be your own self-advocate. Always get more than one

opinion, get a second and third opinion and figure out all you can with it. The standard medical system does not know about Lyme. So if you have symptoms that are odd, look into finding a Lyme literate medical doctor because those guys have gone above and beyond in terms of the science and diving into the infections themselves.” Naeth and her boyfriend/coach, Tim Snow, have home bases in Massachusetts and Colorado. They came to Prince George for the holidays to spend a week with her parents, Kim and Don, and sister Miranda. The family is already making plans to head to Penticton in August to watch Naeth race in the Subaru Ironman, which returns to the Okanagan after seven years based at Whistler. Naeth, a Prince George Secondary School graduate, has started her own triathlon team - I Race Like a Girl - and now coaches more than 300 triathletes around the world. She travels around North America putting on instructional camps and offers online training programs and challenges to build a supportive network for female triathletes, which she found lacking in her own life while she was making the climb to the top of the world ranks. “I would love to coach triathletes in Prince George,” said Naeth. She can be reached through her websites - iracelikeagirl.com or angelanaeth.com.

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New course offers support for Indigenous parents Christina Draegen helped develop a online course for Indigenous parents who have gone through separations with their spouses. Mark NIELSEN Citizen staff


ndigenous parents who are going through separation or divorce can now access a free online course to help them make decisions in the best interests of their children. Parenting After Separation for Indigenous Families offers information about how Indigenous parents can honour their children while working through challenges like determining parenting time and child support. It also explains how intergenerational trauma from colonization can affect parents’ experiences of separation and provides strategies they can use to manage stress during this difficult period. Christina Draegen, the Prince Georgebased northern regional manager of the B.C. Native Courtworker and Counselling Association, was a member of an advisory committee that played a key role in putting the course together over the past year and a half. It was a matter of taking the online course already in place for the general population and looking at it through an Indigenous lens.

“Our experience with the traditional Parenting After Separation online course was that our Indigenous people were not being successful at connecting with it or even completing it with long-term

I made the decision for them to know their grandparents and their family on their dad’s side and brought them to their community to practice their culture

benefits,” Draegen said. Through a choice of video, audio or text, the course takes three to four hours to complete but is divided into eight modules so it can be done at the parent’s own pace. “There are elders and other champions that provide their wisdom, advice and personal experiences throughout the course,” Draegen said. “All of the tools inside this course are designed with the respect and mindfulness of an Indigenous compass - all the handouts, all the pictures, the completion certificate, everything.” When it comes to the value of connecting with one’s culture, she speaks from experience. Draegen’s roots are Algonquin and Ojibway in Ontario but she was adopted and raised in Prince George by a “beautiful Cree family and they raised me to be proud to be indigenous.” When her relationship with her now ex-husband didn’t work out, Draegen became a single parent raising two boys. But that didn’t stop her from making sure they took on their father’s Carrier identity.

“I made the decision for them to know their grandparents and their family on their dad’s side and brought them to their community to practice their culture,” Draegen said. Every summer, her boys would join their relatives harvesting salmon and just spending time with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. “They learned how to repair net and set net and how to take care of salmon and how to take care of a smokehouse and how to pick berries and how to respect the land and how to respect animals - the cultural values that we want to restore and maintain with our young people,” Draegen said. “And I’m so glad that I did that because now my sons are in their 30s - they’re young indigenous men who are confident and they’re solid in their identity. They know who they are and they have a solid foundation to embrace society in a good way.” To review the materials or take the course, go to www.gov.bc.ca/ParentingAfterSeparation.

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Solo wolves left alive as packs shot from air, trapped Jeremy HAINSWORTH Glacier Media

The B.C. government wolf management plan involves radio-collaring single wolves and then killing the rest of the pack while leaving the lone wolves alive. As part of 2015-18 plans to facilitate a seemingly successful mountain caribou recovery in the South Peace region, wolves were caught and radio-collared to allow their packs to be tracked. Pack members would then be tracked by helicopter and shot. “Aerial gunning of wolves was deemed the most effective and humane way of removing all the wolves from each pack,” said an August 2019 report from B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development wildlife biologist Mike Bridger. “The radio-collared individuals were often left alive following the conclusion of the winter reduction efforts in order to facilitate the location of wolves the following winter.” Between 2014 and 2017, 374 wolves were killed. The culling of wolves has been done in order to reduce their predation on

threatened Central Mountain caribou populations. The report said industrial activity in the region has led to some forest areas re-establishing themselves after human disturbance. That make such lands prime territory for moose, a primary prey species for wolves. That led to increases in wolf populations. “Wolf predation in the South Peace was occurring at rates that were unsustainable for caribou populations, leading to rapid population declines,” Bridger reported. Initially, attempts were made to retrieve wolf carcasses but the government deemed it to be “an inefficient use of time, effort and funds.” The locations were later provided to First Nations for retrievals. Those nations also assisted the cull with ground trapping. Caribou populations began to show a resurgence starting in the second year of the cull. “The overall results measured during the five-year wolf reduction program suggest that the reduction of wolves to low densities can have significant, positive effects towards caribou populations,” the report said. Protection of caribou has been

controversial in the South Peace for several years. Premier John Horgan met with area politicians, First Nations leaders and industry representatives Nov. 29 to address ways to recover low populations of southern mountain caribou in the South Peace while limiting impacts to the economy. Caribou numbers in southern mountain caribou herds around Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge have dropped from between 800 and 1,000 in the 1990s to around 230 today. While a few herds in the region have already been extirpated, biologists say the entire population likely

would have been wiped out by 2020 without predator control and maternal penning starting five years ago. Earlier this year, the province imposed what it calls temporary moratoriums on industrial activities in the MackenzieChetwynd-Tumbler Ridge areas to protect remaining herds. The moratorium was one of 14 recommendations made by Blair Lekstrom, an area MLA and Liberal cabinet minister. Now a Dawson Creek city councillor again, Lekstrom was hand-picked by Horgan to liaise with local governments and the public following a major backlash against the province’s proposed plans.

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Citizen photo by James Doyle

Woodpecker church opens again Vicar Alexis Saunders reads a passage to parishioners during the Jan. 5 service at St. Mark’s Anglican church in Woodpecker.

Christine HINZMANN Citizen staff

The sound of history sings through the pews, said one young parishioner at St. Mark’s Anglican Church, best known as Woodpecker church, built in 1939 and located 11 km north of Hixon. Kyle Gillespie,17, used those poetic words as he best described the alarmingly loud cracking and creaking that resounds throughout the church each time the 21-member congregation was asked to be seated in the little church on Sunday morning. He comes to church with his twin

sister Fionna and mom Laurel, who have lived in Hixon for years and have always wondered what the church looked like inside. “This is something special that we have to attend,” he said. “It’s part of history.” And history is alive and well in the walls of the sturdy, stained glass window building that didn’t see regular church services for most of the last 30 years. The vicar of Woodpecker, Alexis Saunders, began holding

evening services again during the summer months in 2018. Saunders then reopened the church in May 2019, with members of the congregation requesting winter services, which are now held - weather permitting - once a month on Sunday mornings. There was a special Christmas Eve service held this year that saw about 35 people in attendance. “This is a faithful community and they need a place to gather,” Saunders said. “In these very uncertain times people

need hope and they need community to maintain that hope.” With a generator thundering outside to provide power for the heaters inside the church that has no electricity or plumbing and no other source of heat that’s to up to modern building codes, those attending church were bundled in their Sunday best, including faux fur coats, thick gloves, jaunty hats and a variety of scarves to stop the winter chill. About 10 minutes before the service continued on pg 9

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Citizen photo by James Doyle

Wanda Jackson plays the organ during the Jan. 5 service at St. Mark’s.

started, it was a balmy 17 C inside and that was considered warm enough. At the back of the church, Vicar Saunders reached up with both hands to pull the rope that is fed through a small hole in the roof of the church to ring the bell so everyone knew it was time to start the service. Soon, the strains of the pump organ could be heard as it was played by the experienced hands of Wanda Jackson. Then the robed vicar began the service that was participatory in nature, engaging the congregation often. “When I first saw this little church I was amazed that the Women’s Institute in Hixon and the Volunteer Fire

Department refurbished it, holding in trust its history for over 30 years before services began again,” Saunders said. “To me it speaks of strong community bonds that hold villages together. This is what they speak of in big cities like Vancouver where the young people and the old people describe themselves as being very lonely.” Saunders spent from 2011 to 2015 in the downtown eastside of Vancouver at St. James Anglican Church on Cordova Street. It’s Vancouver’s oldest Anglican church that opened in 1881. She made the conscious choice to also live in the downtrodden neighbourhood. Saunders said it was

a diverse cross-section of people who attended services, including judges, university professors and those living on the streets and she felt a strong call to service there. “That church was about providing beauty to those living in very dire circumstances,” Saunders said about the experience. After retirement, moving to Woodpecker from downtown Vancouver to be close to family offered a different perspective on the world. “The reality of this church speaks well of its people who are hard-working people who have strong connections and relationships,” Saunders said. “The church is very human-sized - it’s the right size for this community. We’ve got family and friends and neighbours and people who have historical connections to this place who still gather here. Within the walls of this church, there is tradition and knowledge and culture.” Saunders told the congregation she understands the church is a gathering place for different denominations. “The entire community is a place of sanctuary and makes this place

a source of strength and resilience for whatever the future may bring,” Saunders said with her arms wide open in a welcoming gesture. As much as Kyle Gillespie wanted to be part of the church’s recent history, Allan Thorp, 88, who grew up in Woodpecker, an area that began as a farming settlement, is now part of the church’s living history and returned to the church for the Jan. 5 service. Last summer, the church celebrated its

Citizen photos by James Doyle

Allan Thorp, 88, attended mass on Jan. 5 at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Woodpecker. He’s been a parishioner since the church first opened in 1939. continued on pg 10

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Citizen photo by James Doyle

St. Mark’s Anglican Church is nestled in the trees in Woodpecker. continued from pg 9

80th anniversary and Thorp attended that, too. One of a family of eight, he said if they didn’t show up for church back then there wasn’t a reason to preach.

“We came to Woodpecker in 1937 and the church was built in 1939,” Thorp recalled. “We lived a mile and a half away.” Anglican and United church ministers would take turns holding services.

Thorp is a dapper dresser, wearing a plaid cap, an overcoat and a thick vest over a white shirt and tie. He opened his coat for a little show and tell. “Mom always said we go to church in a white shirt and tie and so that’s what I do to this day,” Thorp said. “Coming back here brings back a lot of memories. Some of them are good.” It’s also bittersweet for Thorp, who only has one surviving sibling left. “As I look back at us hillbilly kids running around shooting rabbits and squirrels and looking for trouble, I think of my family and old friends who are all gone,” Thorp said. “I’m

pretty much the only one left from around here so it’s emotional for me. I remember attending the cornerstone ceremony (Sept. 7, 1939) and next door was a community hall and that’s where celebrations and dances were held and the school was close by, too.” Thorp said it was great that the vicar has opened the church for services after all these years. The last service before she came along was held at Christmas 1988. “It would be nice if they could spruce it up a bit,” Thorp said, looking around the old church as the snow started falling in earnest again outside. “A little light and heat would be good.”

Citizen photo by James Doyle

Kyle Gillespie with his twin sister Fionna and mom Laurel at the Jan. 5 service at St. Mark’s.

The Regional | www.pgcitizen.ca

TC Energy selling stake in Coastal GasLink pipeline Nelson Bennett Glacier Media


oastal GasLink plans to resume work on its $6.6 billion natural gas pipeline this week, despite an eviction notice being served on the company by a group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in an area north of Houston. Armed as it is with an injunction and enforcement order, the resumption of work could very likely result in more arrests, although the company has said it has reached out to one of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in the hope of avoiding more conflict. The standoff between the company and protestors may have obscured some other recent developments with the respect to the pipeline: It’s being sold. On Boxing Day, TC Energy Corp. announced it is selling 65% of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project to a private equity firm in the U.S. and an Alberta pension fund manager – the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo). The National Pension Service of Korea is also an indirect investor, according to KKR, which says it is making its investment “primarily through a separately managed infrastructure account” involving the Korean pension fund. “Coastal GasLink represents our third investment in infrastructure supporting Canada’s natural gas industry,” Brandon Freiman, head of North American Infrastructure at KKR, said in a press release. “We believe the export of Canadian natural gas to global markets will deliver significant benefits for the Canadian economy and local communities in Western Canada, and enable meaningful progress toward reducing global emissions.” TC Energy also affirmed its commitment to allow First Nations along the pipeline route to acquire up to 10%. That would

bring TC Energy’s share in the Coastal GasLink project down from 35% to 25%. TC Energy would continue to build and operate the pipeline. There are currently 1,105 workers at accommodation sites along the right-of-way, the company said in a construction update. The project’s costs recently increased by $400 million. Originally estimated to have a capital cost of $6.2 billion, TC Energy recently increased the cost estimate to build the pipeline to $6.6 billion, citing “increased scope and refinement of construction estimates for rock work and watercourse crossings.” TC Energy said it expects an aftertax gain of $600 million upon the completion of the sale. The company said a partial sale of the project “was contemplated in the company’s agreements with LNG Canada.” The Coastal GasLink pipeline is a key part of the $40 billion LNG Canada project. The sale of a significant share of the project to a private equity firm underscores a point that critics of the fossil fuel divestment movement have made: While major banks, pension funds and universities bow to activist pressure to divest from fossil fuel projects, private equity firms will be more than happy to fill the void, as long as there is a profit to be made. “I think is a normal progression of events,” said Brad Hayes, president of oil and gas consulting firm Petral Robertson. “There’s more and more private equity around. They always move into sectors where they see the best potential for returns. And the fact that many other large investors are being forced out of the energy sector, because of political or shareholder concerns, means that there’s more opportunities in there. I think it makes all sorts of sense and shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody.”

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First Nation calls for solidarity as pipeline work set to resume

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This map shows the proposed route for the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline, linking northeast B.C. to the LNG Canada export terminal in Kitimat. Arthur Williams Citizen staff


group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs is calling for a week of solidarity actions in support of their fight against the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline project. The call comes after the chiefs issued an “eviction notice” on Jan. 3 for a Coastal GasLink work camp near Houston, B.C. on Dark House territory, and the neighbouring Gidimt’en, Tsayu, and Laksamshu clan territories. Solidarity events are scheduled to begin in Victoria and Toronto on Tuesday, and additional events are planned in Victoria, Vancouver, Montreal and Rochester, New York between Wednesday and Sunday. “We watched communities across Canada and worldwide rise up with us in January 2019 when the RCMP violently raided our territories and criminalized us for upholding our responsibilities towards our land,” a statement issued by the hereditary chiefs says. “Our strength to act today comes

from the knowledge that our allies across Canada and around the world will again rise up with us, as they did for Oka, Gustafsen Lake, and Elsipogtog, shutting down rail lines, ports, and industrial infrastructure and pressuring elected government officials to abide by UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). The state needs to stop violently supporting those members of the one per cent who are stealing our resources and condemning our children to a world rendered uninhabitable by climate change.” The $6.6 billion, 670-kilometre-long Coastal GasLink pipeline project would connect northeastern B.C. to the LNG Canada natural gas export terminal in Kitimat. In a statement updated on Monday, Coastal GasLink says it plans to resume work in the area this week. “Coastal GasLink continues to remobilize construction crews across the right-ofway in anticipation of work resumption and ramp up this week, beginning with

safety refresh meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday,” the company statement says. “Clearing, grading, workforce accommodation establishment and other activities are expected to continue as scheduled across the route. Pipe delivery also resumes this week, with continued receipt of materials are various storage sites, including north of Kitimat. Most field construction activities were paused from Dec. 20, to Jan. 5, 2020 due to the holidays, with limited security and maintenance.” On Dec. 31, the B.C. Supreme Court granted Coastal GasLink an interlocutory injunction to ensure access to the areas around the Morice River Bridge, located 47 km southwest of Houston. “The defendants may genuinely believe in their rights under indigenous law to prevent the plaintiff from entering Dark House territory, but the law does not recognize any right to blockade and obstruct the plaintiff from pursuing lawfully authorized activities,” Justice Marguerite Church wrote

in her decision on the case. In a statement, the Wet’suwet’en chiefs said Church’s ruling ignores a previous court ruling which acknowledged the Wet’suwet’en have not ceded or surrendered their title to their traditional territory. “The granting of the interlocutory injunction by BC’s Supreme Court has proven to us that Canadian courts will ignore their own rulings and deny our jurisdiction when convenient, and will not protect our territories or our rights as Indigenous peoples,” the statement said. “Hereditary Chiefs of all five Wet’suwet’en clans have rejected Church’s decision, which criminalizes Anuk ‘nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en law), and have issued and enforced an eviction of (Coastal GasLink’s) workers from the territory. The last CGL contractor was escorted out by Wet’suwet’en Chiefs on Saturday, January 4, 2020.” — with files from Business in Vancouver and The Canadian Press

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Ticks putting bite on moose population

This map shows the location and hair loss severity of moose sightings reported from Jan. 1 to April 31, 2019 during the B.C. moose winter tick surveillance program Citizen staff


he BC Wildlife Health Program is calling on the public to help track the spread of winter ticks threatening the region’s declining moose population. Tick infestations can contribute to moose population declines, especially where climate change and habitat conditions promote large numbers of ticks, a statement by the provincial government program says. “As the female ticks mature, they feed on the blood of the moose in late winter. The irritation causes moose to scratch and groom themselves excessively, resulting in hair loss and less time spent foraging or resting, which can lead to weight loss,” the statement said. “The extent of hair loss on a moose can be observed easily from a distance and is a rough indicator of how many ticks are present. There can be tens of thousands of ticks on one moose.” The province’s annual moose winter tick surveillance program relies on wildlife professionals and members of the public reporting observations of moose in the wild from January to April. According to provincial report from 2019, 42 per cent of moose observed in B.C. last winter showed some sign of hair loss due to tick infestation, up from 33 per cent in 2018. Ninety-eight per cent of the 512 moose sightings reported came from the Omineca, Cariboo, Skeena and Peace regions

– including 232 from the Omineca region, which includes Prince George. During the peak of the tick infestation in March to April, 84 per cent of the moose seen in the Omineca region showed signs of hair loss. In total, 105 moose sighted in the surrounding area from January to April, 2019 showed no sign of hair loss, 38 had slight loss, 43 showed moderate hair loss, 37 had severe hair loss and nine “ghost moose” having near-total hair loss were reported. “Northward range expansion of the winter tick is a serious concern for moose populations and other host species,” the 2019 report says. “Studies have show that winter tick can survive in regions of the Yukon and Alaska where originally, they were thought to be unable to survive due to long winters and very low temperatures. Warming climatic conditions are creating opportunities for tick survival in previously unsuitable habitat and establishment of winter tick populations in the more northern latitudes.” The survey began in 2015, as part of a provincial investigation into declining moose populations. A 2014 study found moose populations declining in the Omineca, Cariboo and Kootenay/ Boundary regions of the province, the report said. “The summation of both winter hardships and high numbers of winter ticks can be a fatal combination for moose,” the report said.

More information, an online survey and downloadable survey forms can be found online at www.gov.bc.ca/wildlifehealth/mooseticksurvey

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