Features

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 12:36 • Jimmy Thomson
bike lanes Canada
bike lanes Canada

Protected bike lanes are a favourite punching bag for Canada’s pundits and politicians.

Lawrence Solomon recently called for Toronto to “ban the bike” in one of his three columns on the subject in the span of a month. Rob Ford made a career out of condemning the “war on the car” and ripping out bike lanes. Loren Gunter of the Edmonton Sun accused the city government of inflating its usage statistics in favour of elite bike riders, then arbitrarily cut the number of riders in half to make the point that they were a waste.

Fortunately, while they may be entitled to their opinions, that privilege doesn’t extend to facts. Countless studies have been published over the years to test the impact of bike lanes — and the results are pretty clear.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 10:51 • Justin Mikulka
Aerial view of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, after the oil train explosion and fires
Aerial view of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, after the oil train explosion and fires

The train engineer and two additional rail workers who faced charges for the deadly July 2013 oil train accident in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, were acquitted on Friday after the jury deliberated for nine days. If convicted of all charges, they potentially faced life in prison. 

The end of the trial of these three employees for their role in the Canadian oil train disaster that resulted in 47 deaths and the destruction of much of downtown Lac-Mégantic appears to have brought some closure to residents of the still-recovering town — although most are still waiting for justice.

As the trial began, the BBC reported the sentiments of Lac-Mégantic resident Jean Paradis, who lost three friends in the accident and thought the wrong people were on trial.

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 13:29 • Guest
David Seibold Sockeye Salmon Contamination Illustration
David Seibold Sockeye Salmon Contamination Illustration

Amid continued controversy, Kinder Morgan is poised to break ground on its $7.4 billion Trans Mountain Expansion Project. When the pipeline is complete, it will triple the volume of diluted bitumen, or Dilbit, that reaches Canada’s Pacific shoreline to 890,000 barrels per day.

The Trans Mountain pipeline has been in operation since 1953. It crosses numerous waterways as it snakes its way from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., including the lower portions of the Fraser River — North America’s primary salmon-producing river system. The pipeline expansion has raised concerns about how its failure might have an impact on these fish.

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 10:52 • James Wilt
Oil Lobbyists CAPP Offshore Drilling DeSmog Canada
Oil Lobbyists CAPP Offshore Drilling DeSmog Canada

Sharks, sea turtles, corals, wolffish — the 1,200 kilometre Laurentian Channel off the southwest coast of Newfoundland is home to tremendous biodiversity.

And that’s the reason it’s set to become Canada’s newest Marine Protected Area, a designation designed to conserve and protect vulnerable species and ecosystems.

There’s just one catch: draft regulations for the proposed 11,619 square-kilometre protected area allow oil and gas exploration and drilling for much of the year. In addition, the government has reduced the size of the protected area by more than one-third from what was originally planned.

Saturday, January 20, 2018 - 08:25 • James Wilt
Moose Lake
Moose Lake

Nobody could ever accuse Chief Jim Boucher of being anti-oilsands.

First elected to lead Fort McKay First Nation in northeast Alberta more than three decades ago, Boucher has made a name for his cooperative relationship with industry, which includes launching a sizable oilsands service conglomerate, denouncing environmentalists and purchasing a 34 per cent stake in a $1 billion Suncor bitumen storage terminal.

But now, a proposed 10,000 barrel per day oilsands project is threatening to infringe on a nearby sacred region called Moose Lake that serves as the First Nation’s “key cultural heartland” and is shared with the local Métis community for traditional activities. And Boucher is speaking out against the project — specifically targeting the provincial NDP for failing to finalize a management plan that would restrict development in the area prior to the regulatory hearings.

This government does not want to do an agreement with Fort McKay,” said Boucher in an interview with DeSmog Canada, during a break in the Alberta Energy Regulator hearings. “We’ve had discussions with them. As a result of these discussions, we have gone nowhere in terms of trying to resolve our issues with respect to the integrity of Moose Lake.”

Friday, January 19, 2018 - 11:47 • Sarah Cox
Chief Roland Willson
Chief Roland Willson

Can the Site C dam still be stopped?

It all boils down to one B.C. Supreme Court judge who will decide whether or not to grant First Nations an injunction against the project this spring, according to legal scholars who are keenly watching a new legal case against the $10.7 billion dam.

This week West Moberly First Nations and Prophet River First Nation filed notices of civil action claiming that the Site C dam — along with two existing dams on the Peace River — infringes on rights guaranteed to them in Treaty 8, which promised they could continue their traditional way of life.

The nations requested the court declare approvals for Site C issued by the B.C. and federal governments “unconstitutional,” and asked for an injunction to halt work on a project that will destroy traditional hunting, trapping and fishing grounds, as well as areas rich in berries, herbs and medicines.

Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 18:15 • Emma Gilchrist
Professional Reliance DeSmog Canada
Professional Reliance DeSmog Canada

If you look closely at almost any major environmental controversy in B.C. in the past decade, you’ll find one common denominator: industry-paid “professionals” were trusted with our province’s environmental protection.

This, folks, is what is often called leaving the fox to watch the hen house. But, if you’re the B.C. government, you come up with one of the greatest euphemisms of our age for it: “professional reliance.”

This system, implemented under the BC Liberals in the early 2000s, means “professionals” hired and paid for by mining, logging, natural gas and other industries, have been trusted with B.C.’s environmental protection.

Most people would call that a conflict of interest. But in B.C. this is called business as usual.

Until now … maybe.

Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 12:39 • Seth Klein
Site C Decision
Site C Decision

This piece originally appeared on the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

There is no question that the new B.C. government’s decision to proceed with the Site C dam was a very difficult one. The previous government left them with a poison pill.

With $2 billion already spent, the Horgan government faced a no-win choice, with substantial political and economic costs for either terminating or proceeding with what is one of the largest and most expensive capital projects in B.C. history.

I don’t envy them.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 13:41 • Carol Linnitt
 Premier John Horgan BC Mount Polley Mine Disaster DeSmog Canada
 Premier John Horgan BC Mount Polley Mine Disaster DeSmog Canada

Premier John Horgan said this week he's anxiously awaiting a court decision on charges against Mount Polley mining corporation brought in a private prosecution by former Xat’sull chief Bev Sellars for violations of B.C.’s environmental laws — but B.C.'s role in that case is still unclear.

B.C.'s crown prosecution service is responsible for the final decision on whether and how B.C. will proceed with the case regarding the 2014 tailings pond collapse that released 24 million cubic metres of mining waste into Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake, a source of drinking water.*

Sellars filed the case on August 4th, 2017 — the last day a case under provincial law could be brought against the company due to a three-year statute of limitations — as a means of holding open the legal door for government, which had only recently come under NDP power.

The courts are expected to make a decision on the fate of the private prosecution by the end of January.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 13:21 • Jimmy Thomson
Canada's Marine Protected Areas DeSmog Canada
Canada's Marine Protected Areas DeSmog Canada

Canada has made significant progress in the last year toward meeting its international commitment to protect 10 per cent of its oceans by 2020 — at least on paper. 

The government now claims to have set aside 7.75 per cent of Canada’s oceans for protection, up from under one per cent in 2016.

But a closer look at the numbers that make up the total shows that, far from establishing sprawling new protected areas, new accounting is responsible for much of the growth — and whether all of the areas will ultimately be eligible to count toward Canada’s international target is still up in the air.

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