Top News

Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 14:32 • Judith Lavoie
Third Beach, Stanley Park

Nothing is better than splashing around in the water on a hot summer day, but B.C. residents should be questioning whether that refreshing dip is going to make them sick, says Lauren Hornor, executive director of Fraser Riverkeeper, a non-profit organization working to ensure B.C. waters are safe for swimming, drinking and fishing.

This week, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority issued a “no swimming” advisory for three West Vancouver beaches due to high levels of E.coli, which can increase risk of gastro-intestinal illness.

Due to high levels of bacteria in the water swimming is not recommended at Ambleside, Dundarave and Sandy Cove beaches,” the health authority said.

While some B.C. health authorities immediately post fecal coliform bacteria levels online after receiving test results for beaches, others either do not receive regular information or do not make those figures public unless levels are dangerously high, Hornor said.

That means people do not know pollution levels at some of the region’s most popular beaches, including White Rock, Cultus Lake, Crescent Beach, Alice Lake Park Beach in Squamish and Camp Jubilee on Indian Arm, Hornor said.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 11:59 • Judith Lavoie
Enbridge head office Edmonton

The newly appointed head of the B.C. government’s communications branch is a former lobbyist for Enbridge Inc., the company that hopes to build the $7.9-billion Northern Gateway pipeline stretching 1,200 kilometres from the Alberta oilsands to Kitimat on the B.C. coast.

John Paul Fraser, who DeSmog Canada has learned became acting deputy minister in charge of Government Communications and Public Engagement (GCPE) earlier this month, worked as a lobbyist for National Public Relations from 2008 until shortly before moving to the B.C public service in 2011.

He previously worked for Burrard Communications Inc. — a company founded by Premier Christy Clark’s former husband Mark Marissen — where he was registered with the Federal Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada as a lobbyist on behalf of Enbridge Inc.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 07:00 • Carol Linnitt
margaret atwood, pen canada, charity audit

Pen Canada, a Canadian charity that fights for freedom of expression and represents more than 1,000 writers and supports is the latest group identified for a political-activities audit by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

The group has been a vocal opponent of some of the Harper government’s recent policies, including the muzzling of federal scientists and the alleged surveillance of Canadian citizens as revealed through the Edward Snowden leaks.

Follow revelations of mass state surveillance, Pen Canada advocated for an adoption of “International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance.”

The organization also spoke out against restrictive communications protocols, implemented by the Harper government, that prevent federal scientists from speaking with the media about their research. “The federal government’s restriction on media access to publicly funded scientists have become a serious infringement on the right to freedom of expression in Canada,” the group wrote on its website.

Federal auditors appeared at Pen Canada’s offices yesterday, asking to review internal documents, the Globe and Mail reports.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - 12:04 • Carol Linnitt
Rich Coleman, bc LNG, climate

Last year B.C. joined Washington State, Oregon and California in an effort to limit the causes and effects of climate change. A new poll released today shows British Columbians are eager to see the government keep its commitments under the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy.

The climate plan was designed to respond to “the clear and convincing scientific evidence of climate change, ocean acidification and other impacts from increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which threaten our people, our economy and our natural resources.”

The plan was signed in 2013, with little fanfare. Yet, residents of B.C. strongly support the initiative, and the government’s commitments to limit carbon pollution.

But with the B.C. government’s big ambitions to develop and export liquefied natural gas (LNG), there appears to be a conflict brewing within the province’s own objectives.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - 09:45 • Emma Gilchrist
Peace River SIte C dam

A third hydroelectric dam proposed for the Peace River would flood 83 kilometres of the Peace Valley in between Fort St. John and Hudson's Hope, B.C. Dubbed the “Site C” dam, if built, it would put more than 3,800 hectares of Agricultural Land Reserve farmland — an area nearly twice the size of the city of Victoria — under water.

DeSmog Canada recently visited the Peace Valley for the ninth annual Paddle for the Peace, which attracted hundreds of paddlers from across North America. While we were there, we met with the farmers and ranchers who stand to be impacted if the dam is built.

Check out our photos below and learn more by reading our in-depth series on the plight of the Peace Valley and the Site C dam.

Monday, July 21, 2014 - 11:37 • Carol Linnitt
public opinion research, northern gateway pipeline

The average Canadian doesn’t place the economy above other concerns like education, health care and environment according to a a public-opinion survey analysis performed by the Privy Council Office (PCO), a group of the Prime Minister’s top advisors, in January.

As the Canadian Press reports, the research suggests major federal government policies don’t line up with Canadian priorities.

The analysis followed public opinion research of 3,000 survey respondents and 12 focus groups, conducted by NRG Research Group, on behalf of the Finance Department. The PCO is not obligated to routinely make its research public.

The research showed Canadians have “little enthusiasm” for the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, “even among supporters,” the January 25 PCO report on the findings states. Since then the pipeline was federally approved.

Friday, July 18, 2014 - 19:57 • Carol Linnitt
kitimat airshed, pollution

The Kitimat airshed can “accommodate” increased industrial growth and pollution according to a new Kitimat Airshed Study released Friday.

The study, commissioned by British Columbia last year to assess the impact of industrial pollutants on the Kitimat airshed, was released one month after lawyers representing Kitimat locals asked the Environmental Appeal Board to force the province to make the report public.

The province previously claimed cabinet privilege and refused to release the report to two women, Emily Toews and Elisabeth Stannus, who are fighting to overturn a 2013 ruling to allow increased sulphur dioxide emissions from Rio Tinto Alcan’s smelter ‘modernization project’ in Kitimat.

The government-funded report concludes the Kitimat airshed, if properly managed, can safely accommodate industrial expansion, including the expanded aluminum smelter expected to increase levels of sulphur and nitrogen oxide in the area.

The study took into account Rio Tinto Alcan’s existing smelter, the smelter’s modernization project, four proposed liquid natural gas (LNG) facilities, one proposed oil refinery, a potential BC Hydro gas powered turbine facility and increased emissions from tanker traffic.

Environment Minister Mary Polak, attending a press conference in Vancouver today, said “the study tells us that with proper management there is significant capacity in the Kitimat airshed to safely accommodate industrial growth, while still protecting human health and the environment.”