Other Issues

Tar Sands Forum follow-up

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The Feb. 29th forum was a huge success, with over 116 people in attendance.

For those of you who missed it, but are interested in the topic There are links below to help you learn more.  Also below – is the excellent info sheet prepared for the forum by Ann Morris.

There are many brochures and much good information available.
here are some links:


Oil Sands Truth

Friends of Wild Salmon

A Comprehensive Guide to the Alberta Oil Sands (100 pages long!)

The federal government’s Joint Review Panel is currently considering the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. You can make a written submission to the Review. To find out how:
You can submit a letter to the panel through this website – deadline is August

these were shown at the forum:
From Tar Sands to Tankers: the battle to stop Enbridge  – about 15 minutes


Greenpeace Petropolis “webisodes” (3 minutes each):

Marie Adam, Northern Alberta First Nation Elder

Dr. John O’Conner, Fort McMurray Physician

Dr. Kevin Timony, Alberta water expert

This one is good for a younger audience who have short attention spans:
The Tar Sands Blow (3 minutes)


Info sheet:
The Alberta Tar Sands

The Alberta Tar Sands, also called Oil Sands, are the world’s last large remaining oil field, containing 173 billion barrels of recoverable oil (bitumen). Its operations cover 54,000 square miles of boreal forest equal to the size of England. It is the world’s largest energy project, the world’s largest construction project, and with over $200 billion invested, it is the world’s largest capital project. The Tar Sands produces about 1.9 million barrels of bitumen a day, most of it exported to the USA. Each barrel produced requires between 3 and 7 barrels of fresh water, which ends up in gigantic toxic tailings ponds that leak or seep into groundwater and the Athabasca River, negatively impacting the health of downstream communities, such as Fort Chipewyan.

Tar sands oil is extracted in two ways: open pit or ‘strip mining’, in which the entire ecosystem including boreal forest and peat marsh is removed, and ‘in situ’ mining, where the oil is melted out of the ground by injecting pressurized steam at high temperatures. Both extraction methods use vast amounts of natural gas, but ‘in situ’ uses about twice the energy and water that strip mining does. Canadian taxpayers subsidize the cost of this natural gas with $1.7 billion annually. The tar sands are Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gases (GHGs), and the reason that Canada has not met its binding commitments to GHG reductions under the international Kyoto Protocol. Canada has now withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol, the only country of the 184 that ratified the treaty to do so.

The Pembina Institute: ‘Alberta’s Oil Sands 101’ – http://www.pembina.org/oil-sands/os101

The Polaris Institute – ‘Tar Sands Watch -Fact Sheets’: http://www.tarsandswatch.org/tar-sands-watch-issue-factsheets

‘Weaver & Swart study shows oilsands emissions still a problem’ (Pembina Institute, Feb. 27/12) http://www.pembina.org/blog/612

Taxpayers Subsidize the Tar Sands industry with $1.7 Billion annually:


‘World Headed for Irreversible Climate Change in Five Years, International Energy Agency Warns’ Any fossil fuel infrastructure built in the next five years will mean the world will ‘lose for ever’ the chance to avoid dangerous climate change says the IEA, a branch of the UN Energy Program



The Proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline

The proposed Enbridge Pipeline is a $6.6 billion twin pipeline that would carry 525,000 barrels of Alberta tar sands bitumen daily from Bruderheim, AB to a marine terminal near Kitimat, BC, where it would be loaded onto supertankers as long as the Empire State Building is high, and shipped to Asian markets. The pipeline would cross 1,177 kilometres, most of it mountainous terrain, and more than 1000 streams and rivers. Because the bitumen has to be diluted with condensate for it to flow, a second pipeline is needed to return the condensate to Alberta for reuse.

The pipeline would require a 30 per cent increase in the production of tar sands oil. Over a year, this would produce greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to the annual emissions of 1.6 million cars; consume the amount of natural gas used by 1.3 million households in Canada each year; disturb 11.5 square kilometers of forest; use the amount of water consumed annually by a city of 250,000; and result in enough tailings leakage to fill 182 Olympic-size swimming pools. It would also require a further 74 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year, equivalent to 34 per cent of British Columbia’s annual natural gas consumption. (Source: ‘Opening the Door for Oil Sands Expansion – The Enbridge Oil Sands Pipeline’ (Pembina Institute): http://www.pembina.org/pub/1950

Indigenous Nations who inhabit the interior and coastal regions of Northern British Columbia strongly oppose this project, which they say threatens their rights and livelihoods through enormous ecological devastation in the event of an oil spill. Enbridge pipelines underwent 67 spills in 2006 and 65 more in 2007. 130 First Nations chiefs have now signed the ‘Save the Fraser Declaration,’ stating: “We will not allow the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines, or similar Tar Sands projects, to cross our lands, territories and watersheds, or the ocean migration routes of Fraser River salmon.”

Save the Fraser Declaration: http://savethefraser.ca

Fundamental Justice Issues at Stake in Gateway Pipeline Debate (KAIROS Canada info)


Does anyone in government really care about Canadian jobs? The Northern Gateway Pipeline and Canadian jobs – a look at Harper’s ‘diversification’ agenda. (Trevor Harrison, Canadian Dimension, Feb. 17, 2012)   http://canadiandimension.com/articles/4512/

‘The Expert’s Report that Damns the Northern Gateway Pipeline’ – veteran energy analyst David Hughes calculates three reasons the project is bad for Canada. The Tyee, Jan. 12, 2012. http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/01/12/HughesReport/

‘Eleven Oily Questions for Every MP’, Andrew Nikiforuk in The Tyee Feb. 1, 2012 http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/02/01/Eleven-Oily-Questions/

Let the Harper government and Opposition Party critics know your views on the proposed Enbridge Gateway Pipeline and expansion of the Tar Sands:

Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment – E-mail: minister@ec.gc.ca

NDP Environment Critic – Megan Leslie – E-mail: megan.leslie@parl.gc.ca

Liberal Party Environment Critic – Kirsty Duncan – E-mail: kirsty.duncan@parl.gc.ca

Colin Mayes, MP for Okanagan-Shuswap – colin.mayes@parl.gc.ca

Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources: joe.oliver@parl.gc.ca

NDP Natural Resources Critic, Western Canada – Nathan Cullen – nathan.cullen@parl.gc.ca

Liberal Party Natural Resources Critic – David McGuinty – david.mcguinty@parl.gc.ca

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – E-mail: pm@pm.gc.ca

Letters can also be sent by post to all the above at: House of Commons, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6 (free postage!)

This leaflet was prepared by Anne Morris, e-mail: willae@uleth.ca

B.C.’s Shameful Backcountry Wreckreation

By Jim Cooperman

As the Olympic spotlight begins to shine on British Columbia, citizens need to learn more about the shameful exponential increase of habitat destruction caused by off-road vehicle ‘wreckreation.’ Not only is the backcountry environment getting trashed, but non-motorized trails are being over-run by irresponsible ATV and motorbike riders, in some cases making these trails unusable for cycling and hiking.

While the problems are occurring throughout the province, particularly in alpine areas and wetlands; it is in the drier Okanagan, Thompson and Kootenay grasslands where off-road wreckreation is most problematic because these machines can go anywhere. Once areas have been damaged, the impacts can last for decades. Problems include; wildlife disturbance, irreparable changes to soil that make it difficult for plants to take root and grow, damage to wetlands that can alter water courses and kill wildlife, erosion of hillsides, plugged culverts from ditches that get filled with dirt and debris, introduction of noxious weeds and invasive plants, disruption of livestock grazing patterns, and destroyed plants and erosion in sensitive, slow growing alpine areas.

The escalating problems from off road vehicles is compounded by the lack of regulations, as this province is the only jurisdiction in North America that does not require licenses or training to operate these vehicles. Thanks to the Coalition for Licensing and Registration of Off-Road Vehicles that includes the ATV Association, the Outdoor Recreation Council and a number of stewardship groups including the Grasslands Conservation Council; the provincial government is now finally creating new regulations to better control off-road vehicle use.

The Coalition [www.orvcoalitionbc.org/] was set up in 2002 and released 47 recommendations in 2006 that included utilizing a portion of the money received from licensing and registration for education and safety programs, trail development including maintenance and enhancement, enforcement, and conservation and stewardship. While government develops the new rules over the next two years, thousands of riders from other provinces and the U.S. where rules exist will continue to travel here to tear up the hillsides.

Like the rest of the province in recent years, negative impacts from off-road vehicles on Shuswap’s backcountry terrain have continued to increase despite improved educational efforts and enforcement measures. Hardest hit are the accessible alpine areas such as atop Crowfoot Mountain and on Hunter’s Range, but the problems are occurring wherever ATVs, motorcycles and 4x4s enter wetlands or make new trails on steep hillsides.

One of the most damaged areas has been Cummings Lake in the Hunter’s range where there is a recreation site for this popular fishing lake. Apparently, the wetland area at the end of the lake has now been chewed up by irresponsible quad riders. Complicating the situation is that these yahoos have been accessing trails cut for wintertime snowmobile use that were not meant for summer use.

Rather than waiting for provincial legislation, local off-road clubs have been working collaboratively with the Shuswap Trail Alliance to encourage responsible riding and discourage the ‘terrain terrorists.’ In the Larch Hills, the local ATV club joined forces with the Larch Hills Nordic Society and other groups to help prevent more mud bogging with signage and gates and they have helped to voluntarily stop riding in the old growth forests where ATVs and motorcycles were damaging the trails.

Trail Alliance executive director Phil McIntyre-Paul recently explained how the Shuswap already has a ‘motorized dominant backcountry’ and in order to establish non-motorized use in areas it was necessary for groups to work together to minimize conflicts. This collaboration has led to successful strategies that include joint stewardship initiatives and parallel trails that allow for both motorized and non-motorized use, such as the trail network that connects White Lake with Blind Bay.

The off-road vehicle clubs in the Shuswap have a key role in solving the problems caused by a small but growing group of irresponsible riders. Not only do these groups help to educate riders and encourage responsible use of trails, but they also serve a patrolling function by watching for the trouble makers and by reporting infractions.

The forest service’s compliance and enforcement officers also watch for problems and have been known to ticket offenders. Existing laws can result in fines up to $100,000 and up to one year in jail or both. Earlier this year on the May long weekend, Shuswap/Okanagan forest service staff checked over 500 riders and issued 48 tickets and warnings, made one arrest and seized one vehicle. Members of the public can also help report violations by phoning the RAPP line (1-877-952-7277) or by phoning their local forest service office.

In two years, British Columbia will finally be at par with the rest of North America that now has regulations governing backcountry recreation. Meanwhile, the situation is getting so bad, that the by the time the new rules will be in force it may be too late. Already sustainable, non-motorized tourism is being impacted by the ongoing, rampant motorized exploitation of the backcountry.

After decades of efforts by environmentalists, forest companies have improved their practices; but now some of the greatest environmental problems are being caused not by resource companies, but by out-of-control ‘terrain terrorists’ riding roughshod over sensitive grasslands, wetlands and alpine meadows across this province. Not only are the now planned regulations and enforcement actions sorely needed, but B.C. needs a new backcountry culture that would help discourage irresponsible off-road vehicle use.


On March 20, 2006 SEAS joined with representatives of seven other organizations and formed a coalition to phase-out pesticides in the Shuswap. The groups who participated in the coalition included: Shuswap Environmental Action Society, Shuswap Naturalists, Shuswap Lake Coalition, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Salmon Arm Children’s Festival, Shuswap Greenways, Okanagan College Eco-Committee and the Salmon Arm chapter of the Council of Canadians. Spurred on by the news that Kamloops will be soon phasing out pesticides, the group felt that it was time that Salmon Arm joined with the other 90 municipalities across Canada that now have bylaws in place that ban the use of cosmetic pesticides.

Salmon Arm Observer Editorial excerpt
Perfect time to kill pesticides
April 19, 2006

Congratulations are due to all those who turned out for the community forum in Salmon Arm hosted by the newly formed Shuswap Coalition for Pesticide Phase Out. The issue is one well-worth the attention.

It’s now five years since Dr. Warren Bell first addressed city council, requesting that the use of cosmetic pesticides in the community be stopped. The 2001 council passed a unanimous decision directing staff to develop a policy to eliminate the use of pesticides on public lands, with a view to the eventual elimination of pesticides on private property.

The scientific evidence demonstrating the negative effects of pesticides and herbicides, both on individuals and on the environment in general is too substantive to be ignored any longer. Although chemicals like Roundup are quick and easy, there are equally effective solutions. Solutions like hand pulling weeds, which can provide welcome employment to young citizens. And there are less lethal mixes, like vinegar and dormant oil.

While the city does use some of these methods, more of a commitment must be made to completely phase out pesticides for cosmetic use. The onus is not just on city politicians and staff, either. It’s on all of us. Do we really want to be so short-sighted? Do we want to kill off the creatures we share the planet with? Do we want our children ingesting or absorbing chemicals that lead to deadly diseases? Do we want to release toxic liquids that may eventually end up in our lake?

There really isn’t a valid case to be made for using pesticides and herbicides for cosmetic purposes. Any advantages are far outweighed by the dangers. So let’s stop using them. Now.

City plans pesticide phase-out (excerpt)
By Barb Brouwer
Salmon Arm Observer
March 14, 2007

Salmon Arm council agreed unanimously Monday to consider phasing out the use of pesticides. Following a presentation by Warren Bell, founder of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and a local family doctor, Councilor Alan Harrison said the time is right.

Harrison asked staff to put together a report and a draft bylaw that would work toward a phase out of pesticides including an educational and budget component. He asked that this be brought to council by the end of May.

Asked if he had suggestions about the development of a bylaw, Bell, who provided councillors with the newly created Kamloops bylaw, said a strong educational component is critical to the success of a phase- out.

In response to a question from Coun. Kevin Flynn, Bell said a survey of several area merchants revealed they carry the two most popular pesticides only because of customer demand and would be happy to supply environmentally friendly products such as corn gluten.

Flynn, who is a member of the Okanagan Sterile Insect Release board offered his support for the proposed phase out, saying the use of pesticides in the south Okanagan is down 75 per cent.

In discussing how fast the bylaw could be put together, director of operations Charlie Ward said it will take time to find the money for such a program, as well as implementation and staffing issues.

On February 23, 2009, Salmon Arm’s Pesticide Use Bylaw 3744 became the law!
This bylaw can be found at:

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