LSL Interview with Summerland Solution group on saving Trout Creek and Middle bench

Locals Supporting Locals Independant Media
Meghan Steele presented very well put together manual titled Summerland Solutions and showed the district how by keep 2 schools , Trout Creek and Westbench the Board could see a savings of over $422 000. So we discuss that as well as many other issues and concerns

Bruce motioned to take the manual and requested we apply due diligence in looking this document ovce and meet again May 9,2016

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School District 53 has killed a community

brenda

Here is a sneak peak at Friday’s editorial by James Miller, who, like usual, calls it the way he sees it.
So long farewell
Trustees with Okanagan Similkameen School District 53 closed a school and killed a community.
Any last hope of reconsideration died Wednesday evening in a hot and stuffy conference room in Oliver, the town where all Grades 8-12 pupils from Osoyoos will be bused beginning next fall. Osoyoos is now the largest community in B.C. without its own high school.
Several trustees played the victim card, one accused Osoyoos Town Council of unprofessionalism, another criticized the media. (Memo to Myrna Coates, please watch the movie Spotlight for a greater appreciation of freedom of the press and how a small group of journalists made the world a safer place for children.)
Sam Hancheroff and Robert Zandee, failed MLA and MP candidates, respectively, even got political. Sad. MLA Linda Larson was again invisible.
Most damaging is the wedge they’ve
driven between two communities.
At times the crowd in Oliver was boisterous; impartial observers might even agree with the word rude. But their kids not only got screwed, so did the entire community.
Housing prices, attracting young
families, economic spinoff, community identity and kids wearing their hometown jersey will all suffer. The Town of Oliver will reap many benefits.
Nobody from Osoyoos wants a group hug with trustees right now.
Many of the teenagers at the meeting openly wept.
Parents are most protective of their
children. If they believe their kids are
getting hurt, they will fight back. Trustee Rachel Allenbrand should understand this, she led a passionate (and successful)
campaign to save the elementary school in Oliver that her own kids attend.
Trustees didn’t do themselves any favours. This same board paid a retired
superintendent $800 to travel from Prince George to chair an information session only to cut off a 16-year-old near the end of the meeting.
When part of Southern Okanagan Secondary School in Oliver burned to the ground, classes were temporarily moved to on-site portables and not Osoyoos “because it’s important for students to go to school in their own community.”
Throughout the consultation process trustees were incapable of finding creative ways of saving money (canceling last week’s junket to Vancouver would be a start.) Sell the board office and move into empty space at OSS would be one way. The most logical is a full amalgamation with School District 67, something that should have been done years ago.
Back to Hancheroff, he has repeatedly stated the board had no other choice based on the funding they receive from the provincial government. School boards may not run deficit budgets.
That may very well be true but if the only option indeed was to close Osoyoos Secondary School the most noble thing would have been for all seven to resign and let the provincial government take over.
—James Miller

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Aluminum, Fluoride, and Glyphosate—A Toxic Trifecta Implicated in Autism and Alzheimer’s Disease

Aluminum, Fluoride, and Glyphosate—A Toxic Trifecta Implicated in Autism and Alzheimer’s Disease

By Dr. Mercola

Story at-a-glance

  • Aluminum-containing products are likely fueling the rise in Alzheimer’s disease and autism
  • Aluminum and glyphosate appear to act as synergistic poisons that promote autism
  • Fluoride in food and drinking water may also exacerbate the ill effects of aluminum
  • The best way to protect yourself is to be careful about your choices in food, drink, and personal products, and minimize use of vaccines and other drugs that contain aluminum, mercury, and/or fluoride

Aluminum is a known neurotoxin, and according to Professor Christopher Exley of Keele University, aluminum-containing products are likely fueling the rise in Alzheimer’s disease.1 In an article published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology,2 he writes:

“We are all accumulating a known neurotoxin in our brain from our conception to our death. The presence of aluminium in the human brain should be a red flag alerting us all to the potential dangers of the aluminium age.

How do we know that Alzheimer’s disease is not the manifestation of chronic aluminium toxicity in humans?”

People with aluminum toxicity display many of the same symptoms as those with dementia, Parkinson’s, ADHD, autism, and other neurological diseases, and mounting evidence suggests aluminum may play a significant role in the development of those (and other) diseases.

By taking steps to protect yourself, you can minimize your exposure while maximizing your body’s ability to rid itself of this toxic metal, which will move you toward a long and healthy life well into your senior years.

Other toxins to beware of include fluoride and glyphosate. All of these are toxic in their own right, but research suggests they may be even more hazardous in combination.

You May Be Exposed to More Aluminum Than You Think

Aluminum can be found in a wide range of consumer products, including:

  • Foods such as baking powder, self rising flour, salt, baby formula, coffee creamers, baked goods, and processed foods, coloring, and caking agents
  • Drugs, such as antacids, analgesics, anti-diarrheals, and others; additives such as magnesium stearate
  • Vaccines—Hepatitis A and B, Hib, DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), pneumococcal vaccine, Gardasil (HPV), and others
  • Cosmetics and personal care products such as antiperspirants,deodorants (including salt crystals, made of alum), lotions, sunscreens, and shampoos
  • Aluminum products, including foil, cans, juice pouches, tins, and water bottles

According to CDC,5 the average adult in the US consumes about seven to nine mg of aluminum per day in food, and a lesser amount from air and water.

Approximately one percent of the aluminum you ingest orally gets absorbed into your body—the rest is moved out by your digestive tract, providing it’s functioning well. The remaining aluminum can be deposited not only in brain tissue, but also in your nerves, bone, liver, heart, spleen, and muscle.

While one percent may sound like a tiny amount, your overall toxic load will depend on the total amount of toxins you’re exposed to over time. Your diet and digestive health will also play a role in how much your body is actually able to eliminate.

Occupational Exposure to Aluminum Raises Your Risk for Alzheimer’s

One recently published case study3 found high levels of aluminum in the brain of a man who was exposed to aluminum at work for eight years. He later died from Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the authors, it’s the first case showing a direct link between Alzheimer’s disease and elevated brain aluminum following occupational exposure.4

An earlier study5 suggested that aluminum from food and drinking water may be contributing to rising Alzheimer’s rates, noting that:

“In recent years, interest in the potential role of metals in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has grown considerably.

In particular, aluminum (Al) neurotoxicity was suggested after its discovery in the senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles that represent the principal neuropathological hallmarks of AD.

Al is omnipresent in everyday life and can enter the human body from several sources, most notably from drinking water and food consumption… [O]ther elements present in drinking water, such as fluoride, copper, zinc, or iron could also have an effect on cognitive impairment or modify any Al neurotoxicity.”

Indeed, dozens of studies have shown that fluoride causes brain damage and lowers IQ. Fluoride emitted by aluminum plants has also been implicated in animal disease.6

Farmers in Iceland, for example, claim their animals are being sickened by environmental fluoride contamination—some to the point of having to be euthanized. Others report higher rates of tooth damage and infertility among their livestock.

Another related study7 linked occupational exposure to aluminum to the development of pulmonary fibrosis, a condition in which scarring on your lungs make it difficult to breathe. In this case, the exposure occurred during sanding of Corian material.

All in all, it seems reasonable to conclude that the combination of aluminum, fluoride, and/or a number of other toxins can promote Alzheimer’s disease in addition to a number of other health problems.

Pesticides Can Also Wreak Havoc with Brain Function

Pesticides, for example, have also been shown to have an adverse effect on neurological function and brain health.8 In one study, farmers exposed to organochlorine insecticides had a 90 percent increased risk of depression compared to those who didn’t use them.

Exposure to fumigants increased risk of depression by 80 percent. People exposed to pesticides are also more likely to have Parkinson’s disease.

Clearly, when it comes to toxins, unless the chemical is acutely toxic, the real harm occurs when your body becomes chronically overloaded with them, and most people today are exposed to thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of different chemicals on a regular basis.

Farmers are not the only ones at risk for adverse effects from pesticide exposure. Glyphosate can be found in most processed foods in the Western diet courtesy of GE sugar beets, corn, and soy, and research shows glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other chemical residues and toxins.

While nearly one billion pounds of glyphosate is doused on both conventional and GE crops worldwide each year, genetically engineered (GE) crops receive the heaviest amounts. Meats from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) may also contain higher amounts of glyphosate residues, as GE soy is a staple of conventional livestock feed.

It’s quite crucial to understand that glyphosate contamination is systemic, meaning it is integrated into every cell of the plant, from root to tip. It’s not just an issue of topical contamination, as with many other agricultural chemicals sprayed on crops.

Normally, you need to thoroughly wash your produce to remove topical pesticide residues, but you simply cannot remove glyphosate from your produce. And neither can food and animal feed manufacturers who use GE ingredients in their products. This is part and parcel of what makes GE foods so harmful to your health.

Synergistic Poisoning from Aluminum and Glyphosate Implicated in Autism

Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has been instrumental in educating people about the hazards of glyphosate. In the video below, she explains how aluminum and glyphosate act together as synergistic poisons that promote autism. Based on the current trend, Dr. Seneff predicts that by 2025, half of all children born will be diagnosed with autism. Clearly, we must identify leading environmental factors contributing to this frightening trend. Lack of vitamin D caused by inadequate sun exposure is one factor. Nutritional deficiencies caused by poor diet are another.

Environmental toxins must not be overlooked however, and some toxins—glyphosate and aluminum included—are far more hazardous and ubiquitous than others, and are therefore likely to contribute to a greater degree. As Dr. Seneff explains, glyphosate’s mechanism of harm renders it particularly problematic. Indeed, according to Dr. Seneff, glyphosate is possibly “the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies,” including but not limited to:

Autism Gastrointestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea, colitis, and Crohn’s disease Obesity
Allergies Cardiovascular disease Depression
Cancer Infertility Alzheimer’s disease
Parkinson’s disease Multiple sclerosis ALS and more

Tips for Avoiding These Pernicious Toxins

It seems quite clear that aluminum exposure plays a role in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Other neurotoxins such as fluoride and glyphosate add to the toxic burden. The best way to protect yourself is to be careful about your choices in food and personal products, and minimize your use of vaccines and other drugs that are often contaminated with aluminum. Optimizing your dietary sulfur is also essential, as your body needs sulfur to manufacture its number one weapon against aluminum overload: glutathione.

By taking a few steps to protect yourself, you’ll minimize your exposure while maximizing your body’s ability to rid itself of this toxic metal, which will move you toward a long and healthy life well into your senior years. For additional tips and strategies that can help prevent and/or treat Alzheimer’s, please see my previous article “Two Exciting Alzheimer’s Advances: A Novel Early Detection Test Using Peanut Butter, and a Study Evaluating Coconut Oil.

The following list offers a number of suggestions for items to avoid, to reduce your exposure to aluminum, fluoride, glyphosate, and other brain-harming components:

Processed foods and sodas. This will help you avoid both GE ingredients (which tend to be contaminated with glyphosate) and aluminum. In addition, replacing processed foods with whole organic foods will drastically reduce your sugar/fructose intake, which will help normalize your insulin and leptin sensitivity. This is in fact one of the best strategies for protecting and preserving your brain function and overall health. Fructose and gluten are other dietary factors that promote Alzheimer’s, and are best avoided as much as possible.
Mechanically deboned chicken, which tends to be high in fluoride as a result of the processing.
Dental amalgams. Dental amalgam fillings, which are 50 percent mercury by weight, are one of the major sources of heavy metal toxicity. However, you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my optimizednutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.
Cosmetics and personal care products containing aluminum, such as antiperspirants (including salt crystals, made of alum), lotions, sunscreens, and shampoos.
Vaccines containing either mercury (thimerosal) and/or aluminum.
Aluminum-containing drugs, such as antacids, analgesics, anti-diarrheals, and others
Anticholinergics and statin drugs. Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence, and certain narcotic pain relievers.

Statin drugs are particularly problematic because they suppress the synthesis of cholesterol, deplete your brain of coenzyme Q10 and neurotransmitter precursors, and prevent adequate delivery of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble antioxidants to your brain by inhibiting the production of the indispensable carrier biomolecule known as low-density lipoprotein.

Fluorinated medications, including Cipro.
Fluoridated water
Fluoridated toothpaste and fluoride gel treatments.
Non-stick cookware will outgas fluoride, but also avoid other aluminum-containing products, such as cans, foil, juice pouches, tins, and water bottles.

What You Need to Know About GMOs

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or genetically “engineered” (GE) foods, are live organisms whose genetic components have been artificially manipulated in a laboratory setting through creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and even viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.

GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I’ve stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.

The FDA cleared the way for GE (Genetically Engineered) Atlantic salmon to be farmed for human consumption. Thanks to added language in the federal spending bill, the product will require special labeling so at least consumers will have the ability to identify the GE salmon in stores. However, it’s imperative ALL GE foods be labeled, which is currently still being denied.

 

The FDA is threatening the existence of our food supply. We have to start taking action now. I urge you to share this article with friends and family. If we act together, we can make a difference and put an end to the absurdity.

QR Codes Are NOT an Adequate Substitute for Package Labels

The biotech industry is trying to push the QR code as an answer for consumer concerns about GE foods. QR stands for Quick Response, and the code can be scanned and read by smart phones and other QR readers.

The code brings you to a product website that provides further details about the product. The video below shows you why this is not an ideal solution. There’s nothing forcing companies to declare GMOs on their website. On the contrary, GE foods are allowed to be promoted as “natural,” which further adds to the confusion.

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Despite looming closures of 3 schools, SD 67 still forecasting $292,000 budget deficit

bus

Despite looming closures of 3 schools, SD 67 still forecasting $292,000 budget deficit

Posted: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 8:38 pm

Despite the looming closures of three facilities, the Okanagan Skaha School District is still forecasting a $292,000 deficit in its 2016-17 budget.

“It’s been an extremely difficult year and heartbreaking decisions had to be made,” trustee Ginny Manning said Wednesday night, prior to the public unveiling of the budget, which comes on the heels of a five-month process to close of Trout Creek and West Bench elementaries and McNicoll Park Middle School as of June 30.

All told, the 2016-17 budget projects operating expenses at $54.7, down from $56.7 million this year.

The decrease is necessary due in large part to a $764,000 funding reduction from the B.C. government thanks to declining enrolment.

To help ease that pressure, the district expects to save $1.2 million from the pending – but disputed – school closures, plus another $540,000 through decreased contributions to teacher pension plans.

Staff has proposed four recommendations for closing the $292,000 deficit that’s left, including chopping the full amount from operating costs or cutting just $42,000 and making up the balance from reserves or a possible 2015-16 surplus.

Because $42,000 represents just a fraction of the total operating budget, it could be cut “without too much impact,” explained secretary-treasurer Bonnie Roller Routley, but chopping the full $292,000 would be felt more deeply.

“That is potentially three teachers. That is potentially six education assistants or more,” she said.

As it stands, total spending on teachers is project to slide to $23.9 million, down from $25 million this year. About half of the decrease comes from a housekeeping change in budgeting procedure, according to Roller Routley, while the balance will come from school closures.

At the same time, the cost of top district administrators is expected to climb by about $8,000 to $825,000, while spending on principals and vice-principals is pegged to drop by $129,000 due to the closures, for which a separate $50,000 has been set aside for possible legal challenges.

The proposed budget has already been presented to staff groups and public input is now being accepted.

The board is expected to decide how it will bridge the deficit at a special closed-door meeting May 2, then give the budget preliminary approval at its May 9 public meeting. Final approval is tentatively scheduled for the June 13 board meeting.

That could all change May 9, however, when the board is also set to revisit its earlier decision to close West Bench and Trout Creek schools, thanks to a motion to reconsider that will be put forward by trustee Bruce Johnson.

About 80 per cent of district spending goes directly to classroom instruction, 15 per cent goes to operations and maintenance, with the balance split between transportation, administration and capital purchases.

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The fallacy of cost savings by using “smart” appliances at off-peak hours

dryer.jpg

The fallacy of cost savings by using “smart” appliances at off-peak hours (for time-of-use areas, which BC will become in the near future). $$meters are not needed to use electricity wisely.

 

“This article has further demonstrated that “smart” devices such as smart tumble dryers are unlikely to deliver financial benefit to the consumer and actually expose the consumer to a number of risks, inconvenience, and reduced quality of life.

Furthermore, due to considerable consumer demand that cannot be shifted to off-peak pricing periods and dubious claims  for reducing green-house gas emissions, this article has revealed additional weaknesses in the argument that TOU rates will provide benefits to the consumer or the environment.  Finally, the article shows that more effective shifting of demand and possible financial savings for the consumer can be accomplished without the use of smart meters.”

 

https://smartgridawareness.org/2016/03/07/smart-dryer-and-tou-rates-stupid-idea/

Very important info about broadband over power lines.

Very important info about broadband over power lines. Scientists have warned that cell transmitters that are erected on power lines or the poles can make the power lines antennae, emitting radiation all along the line. The FCC in the USA has found this to be true when power lines are used for Wi-Fi transmissions, but intends to do nothing from the sounds of it. The same, no doubt, is true in Canada.  People need to know how high the radiation is for those living within quite some distance from power lines. The level can exceed the FCC limits which are among the highest in the world.

The results demonstrate that residential power lines can radiate the frequencies of PLC signals into nearby households, even if they do not use any PLC service (i.e. smart meters, internet service, etc.).

The documentation that PLC systems turn a power line into a line source “antenna” (not a point source) is important, as that means greater distances are needed to reduce the radiation levels. This may explain why the radio amateurs in North Carolina complained about interference, even though they were 0.4 to 0.7 miles (600 to 1100 meters) away from the lines carrying the PLC signals.

That the power line is a line source also means that the line itself radiates. Radiation emissions are not just from the equipment injecting the signal into the power line.”

https://smartmeterharm.org/2016/04/23/fcc-finds-power-line-communication-plc-can-reach-or-exceed-radiation-limits/

INTREXON STOCKS FALL – EXPOSED FOR BEING A SHAM OF A CORPORATION

Aedes albopictus mosquito genus of the culicine family of mosqui

INTREXON STOCKS FALL – EXPOSED FOR BEING A SHAM OF A CORPORATION

On April 21, a report was released from Seeking Alpha condemning Intrexon (stock symbol: XON) as a failed biotech investment corporation. For the anti-GMO movement, this is a moment to celebrate. Intrexon, the owner of the genetically engineered (GE) Salmon, the GE Arctic Apple and the GE Mosquito has been financially exposed. The report titled “The Public Markets Theranos Part 1:  Zika Virus Hype is Nonsensical” is alleged to be the reason Intrexon’s stock’s plummeted 26 percent by the time the stock market closed on April 21. Although Intrexon’s stock has fluctuated since then, as of April 26, the stocks have dropped below the closing and have not recovered.

Intrexon is in the hot seat. Three separate law firms Goldberg Law PC, Bronstein, Gewirtz & Grossman, LLC & Harwood Feffer LLP are opening investigations as to whether Intrexon provided misleading information to investors violating Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Their cases are open to those who owned stock of Intrexon for a class action lawsuit against the company.

In a move that could indicate nervousness, Intrexon published a press release on their website the following day (April 22) claiming they are “taking appropriate steps” and that “Intrexon believes that it is the target of a campaign to manipulate trading in the company’s securities, interfere with the company’s business operations, and destroy the reputation of the company and its chairman and CEO.”

Intrexon should be nervous. In addition to their stocks falling, Costco, Red Lobster, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Kroger and Safeway have pledged not sell their GE Salmon and McDonald’s, Gerbers and Wendy’s have pledged not to sell their GE Arctic Apple thanks to public pressure garnered from organizations such as Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth and Food and Water Watch.

Regarding updates on Intrexon’s genetically modified mosquito’s (GMM) created by Oxitec, just last week the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) decided to hold a nonbinding referendum for the residents of Key Haven to determine the public’s opinion about the release of Oxitec’s genetically modified mosquitoes (GMM). Although nonbinding, most of the board of the FKMCD say they will stick to the public’s decision on the matter.

THE FKMCD is conducting this referendum as a response to overwhelming public opposition to the release of the GMM. Recent polls showing support for GMM’s from Politico were discovered to have been funded by Oxitec, making the question’s skewed in their favor benefiting off the fear around the Zika virus. Many community members of Key Haven and the Keys have stated publicly that they do not consent to being forced into experimentation with GMM’s and that there is not enough data on the GMM’s.

Historically, the fight against the release of GMM has been won in the Keys, with the initial proposed test site in Key West being struck down by the Keys Commission in 2012. In addition, the public comment session of the Food and Drug Administration’s Finding of No Significant Impact has been extended until May 13, 2016. With the report released on Thursday claiming that the GMM’s will be incredibly cost inefficient compared to other mosquito eradication methods and that Intrexon is a corporation that fails to make a profit, movement towards release of GMM is looking grim for Intrexon and Oxitec.

A PDF of Seeking Alpha’s report is available here. 

 

1 Intrexon Provides Update on Recent Stock Trading Activity April 22nd 2016http://investors.dna.com/2016-04-22-

Intrexon-Provides-Update-on-Recent-Stock-Trading-Activity

2 Wendy’s Says NO to GMO Apple Oct 20th 2015http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/4099/wendys-says-

no-to-gmo-apple#

3 Key Haven Residents to Vote on Genetically Modified Mosquitoes in Nonbinding Referendum April 23rd 2016

http://www.keysnet.com/2016/04/23/508107/key-haven-residents-to-vote-on.html

4 The Fate of Anti-Zika GMO Mosquitoes in the US Rests on Florida 04-22-2016

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gmo-mosquitoes-might-be-coming-to-save-the-us-from-

zika_us_5718f24be4b024dae4f14322

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Canadian Farmers need your help!

farmer

Farmers in Canada are once again under attack from Monsanto through their affiliate Forage Genetics International (FGI).  Monsanto has developed a new Genetically Modified (GM) variety of Alfalfa with the Roundup Ready gene.  Introduction of this variety in the US has resulted in the contamination of 30 percent of the alfalfa varieties in the western states. Containment protocols do not prevent pollinators, such as bees, from transporting the GM pollen to non-GM crops.

We need to stop the sale of this variety in Canada and prevent the contamination of existing alfalfa varieties.  Since pollinators do not respect national boundaries the contamination of alfalfa from the US is likely inevitable and this may only be a delaying tactic but we need to slow down this assault on our non-GMO farmers.

Alfalfa is a forage species that is usually grown with other grasses and legumes and used for hay and pasture for livestock.  The use of Roundup in this context makes no sense and the contamination of existing alfalfa varieties only jeopardizes the livelihood of organic producers and farmers who export alfalfa products.

Farmers represent only a small portion of the voting population and need help in getting their message across.  Please support this initiative.  If enough of you are willing to support your farmers perhaps our Minister of Agriculture will listen.

Want to change something?
Start a petition.

Under BC Liberals, big projects often double in cost…Why would Site C Dam be any different?

sitec

Seeing red: The roof on BC Place Stadium is just one of many cost overruns on the BC Liberals’ watch

Posted July 17, 2014 by Damien Gillis in Economics

Oh, for the days of the fast ferries…compared to what we have now.

Most British Columbians will recall Premier Glen Clark’s late 1990’s boondoggle, which saw the construction of three new coastal vessels balloon from a projected $210 million to nearly $460 million.

How could we forget? After the relentless salvos from pundits like Vaughan Palmer and Mike Smyth led to the NDP government’s collapse, in every election cycle since, the incumbent BC Liberals have dragged out these ghost ships to bolster their own economic credentials. To Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark, the fast ferries are the gift that keeps on giving.

Liberal fiscal record sets new lows

The Fast ferries scandal sank the NDP

The only problem is the Liberals’ own fiscal fiascos absolutely dwarf those of their NDP predecessors – though they’re consistently able to get away with it.

Sure, Mr. Palmer has poked holes in the government’s laughable election promise of a debt-free BC and raised red flags over the government’s routine cost overruns, but the pundits’ knives have been decidedly less sharp over the past 13 years. Unlike the NDP, Liberal governments face no real consequences for their misdeeds.

With the Liberals on track to double the $34 Billion provincial debt they inherited from what history would now suggest was a surprisingly restrained NDP, it’s high time for an update to their fiscal report card. (That debt doesn’t even include an additional $100 Billion in contractual taxpayer obligations, like private power contracts, which they’ve swept under rug).

This is especially important with projects like the $8 Billion proposed Site C Dam currently under review (and if you believe that sticker price, I’ve got some pond-front property in northern Alberta you may be interested in).

In the real world, budgets don’t double

On that last point, Fort St. John businessman Bob Fedderly put the Liberals’ woeful record of project management in perspective when I interviewed him recently about Site C, which he and a growing number of businesspeople are opposed to.

“If you look back over the last 10 or 12 years to every project of any magnitude, it’s ballooned right out of proportion – two times, three times is not uncommon,” Fedderly noted. “This is a pattern that’s appearing on project cost management.”

Contrasting the government’s track record with his own companies’ construction projects, he acknowledged a 10% margin for error was acceptable – but no more than that.

In the real world of people building houses, they don’t double in price.

How bad is the government’s legacy with major capital projects? Pretty darned awful. Here are a few lowlights:

1. Port Mann Bridge/Hwy 1 widening: 550% of initial estimate

Artist's drawing of new Port Mann Bridge

According to The Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, “Originally, the government said the cost of improvements to the Port Mann would be $600 million. That ballooned to $1.5 billion in 2006 when the government announced it would twin the bridge. Now, the total cost of the project is expected to be $3.3 billion” (that’s $2.46 Billion, rising to $3.3 Billion including operation and maintenance costs).

Extra demerits for a serious design flaw that led to falling ice bombs, putting passengers at risk and ringing up $400,000 in insurance claims for ICBC.

2.  BC Place Stadium roof upgrade: 514% of initial estimate

While the official line is that the upgrade to BC Place Stadium skyrocketed from $365 to $514 million, a January 2008 letter from operator PAVCO’s Chairman David Podmore to Vancouver City Manager Judy Rogers pegged the total cost at just $100 million. I’m no architect, but that seems like a reasonable price, whereas $514 million does not. After all, Seattle built a perfectly good stadium for its Seahawks in 2002 for just $360 million. All we got is a roof.

Extra demerits for design flaws which restricted the retractable roof’s ability to…well, retract.

3. Northwest Transmission Line: 182% of initial estimate

Crown corporation BC Hydro’s construction of the Northwest Transmission Line – designed to power an assortment of proposed mines in the Sacred Headwaters region of the province – has nearly doubled from initial estimates of $404 million to the most recent tally of $736 million (expect the final number to be considerably higher).

Extra demerits for management error that could cost BC $130 million in federal “green infrastructure” support for the project. The Liberal government received the grant to electrify the village of Iskut, getting it off diesel power. All the province had to do was file a plan for the spur with the feds by June 30, 2012 – but it missed its deadline by nearly a year, meaning that, technically, the BC public is on the hook to repay the entire $130 million.

4. Vancouver Convention Centre: 178% of initial estimate

The Vancouver Convention Centre (Wikipedia)

For all its LEED certifications and architectural attributes, the Vancouver Convention Centre also exploded from estimates of under $500 million to nearly $900 million by its 2009 completion.

What’s worse, all this could have been avoided if the Liberal government simply followed its own critique of the NDP’s fast ferries experience – namely, not having people without construction experience overseeing the project (i.e. Liberal powerbroker Ken Dobell) and being sure to have finalized plans for the contractor to execute. Lacking the latter, a fixed-price contract proved impossible to nail down.

5. South Fraser Perimeter Road: 169% of initial estimate

Perhaps the only way for the Liberal government to assert it’s on time and on budget with a major project is to lie about it, as this unnecessary, convoluted truck highway through Delta and Surrey demonstrates. Laila Yuile, a blogger and one of the province’s shrewdest transportation project watchdogs, recalled last year that initial estimates for the project ranged from $700-800 million.

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By the time it was completed in 2013, it was a year late and the cost had risen to $1.264 Billion – significantly more than a revised estimate of around a billion dollars. But that didn’t stop the government from boasting that its project was “on time and on budget”. As Vaughan Palmer quipped at the time, “Regular readers of this space will be familiar with the more flexible approach that the B.C. Liberals have taken toward the concept of being on time and on budget.”

Why won’t the NDP stand up for itself?

Perhaps the biggest mystery in all of this is the NDP opposition’s failure to call the government out for its dismal fiscal record. How “Mr. Nice Guy” Adrian Dix saw fit to let the Liberals off the hook for this series of blunders that make the fast ferry overruns look like pocket change is baffling. It cost them the last election, as I noted in the aftermath of that sorry affair.

Liberal record a harbinger of Site C boondoggle

Alberta concerned about downstream impacts of BC's Site C Dam proposal

These numbers and examples of the Liberals’ fiscal ineptitude should be of real concern to BC taxpayers today as we ponder projects like Site C Dam – whose $8 Billion estimate (making it one of the highest-priced  government infrastructure undertakings in Canadian history) is surely only the tip of the iceberg. Dams, as a rule, are highly prone to cost overruns – the World Bank estimates an average of 27% around the globe.

This is a project that will not serve the homes and businesses of BC, which are already self-sufficient in electricity far into the foreseeable future – rather, we’re told it’s to power liquefied natural gas production or to export to California (likely at a considerable loss for some time).

When you factor in the usual Liberal premium of doubling the cost, it’s not hard to see how this dam could sink us in more ways than one.

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About the Author

Damien Gillis

 

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues – especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada’s wild salmon – working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.

 

BC Hydro being used to funnel tens of billions to Liberal friends

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BC Hydro being used to funnel tens of billions to Liberal friends

Posted April 26, 2016 by Common Sense Canadian in WATER

By Norman Farrell – republished from In-sights

Readers may tire of reports on BC Hydro but the more I examine this public utility, the more convinced I am that citizens of BC are victims of massive financial deception.

In 20 years leading up to 1996, BC Hydro’s average annual revenue from trading in North American electricity markets was $115 million. In three years ended March 2003, the utility realized gross trading revenue of  $11.25 billion, although that sum was tempered by the $1 billion or so BC Hydro paid to end a subsequent lawsuit by California.

Transferring risk

Construction of a private power project on the Ashlu River (Photo: Range Life)

Although the American power market had been manipulated by Enron and other criminal fixers, Gordon Campbell and his colleagues believed that British Columbia could become a permanent power supplier to the western USA. Liberals wanted the electricity to be created by private operators, but it was soon clear that private entrepreneurs were not prepared to take significant financial risks.

The provincial government was determined to proceed so it decided that BC Hydro would sign long-term contracts to purchase power produced by independents at prices that made projects attractive to investors. This effectively transferred all business risks from private operators to the public. While dumb, it’s a fairly common occurrence today when governments are keen to be seen as business-friendly.

Compounding the situation was the Liberals’ misjudgment of future markets because they didn’t anticipate improved technologies and growing availability and affordability of alternative power. Consumption efficiencies, declining heavy industries and falling costs of solar and wind permanently changed the energy industries.

A losing proposition

BC Hydro has contracted with independent power producers for increasing quantities at prices adjusted upwards each year for inflation. But, domestic demand has been flat for a decade and the export market in the last five years has returned only 2.8¢ per KWh, a fraction of the 22.8¢ gained in the heyday of 2001.

Because it is buying each KWh from IPPs at over 9¢ but has no need for the total it must buy, BC Hydro is left with two choices. One is to generate less power in its own facilities and the other is to dump power outside the province at prices less than 1/3 of the amount IPPs are paid. BC Hydro is doing both.

Spending more to make less

power sourcesI’ve had utility defenders argue the company has never reduced its own output to accommodate private power so I reviewed sources of power reports for more than two decades. Here is a chart showing the last five years under Premier Clark’ leadership and the five years between 1996 and 2001.

The situation is not improving. In FY 2015, BC Hydro facilities generated 41,443 GWh of electricity. In FY 2001, those very same sites produced 49,940 GWh, which is 20% more.

However, here’s a vital point. In 2001, BC Hydro had assets of $12.6 billion. In 2015, assets had grown to $27.8 billion. The company has been spending heavily, allegedly to make the system more efficient. In fact, what is continuing is misappropriation of public wealth for the benefit of suppliers, contractors and other BC Liberal friends.

Some people believe the government intention is to privatize BC Hydro. However, I believe the present situation, with another $10 billion of public funds being thrown at Site C, is working just fine for Christy Clark, her cabinet colleagues and their sponsors.

Citizens should be asking for explanations, from politicians and the pro-media journalists who choose to ignore these facts.

A longtime blogger and publisher of In-sights, North Shore resident Norman Farrell has experience in a broad range of small business activities with a particular focus on accounting and financial management.

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