February 2014‎ > ‎

April 2014


  1. 1 April 30, 2014
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  2. 2 April 29, 2014
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  3. 3 April 28, 2014
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 3.2 Infiltration water problem - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  4. 4 April 27, 2014
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 4.2 Trans-Canada Reroute protested at Province House - CBC website
  5. 5 April 26, 2014
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 5.2 How Organic Farming Can Reverse Climate Change - Rodale Institute
  6. 6 April 25 2014
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  7. 7 April 24, 2014
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 7.2 Bypass road plans wasteful all around -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  8. 8 April 23, 2014
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 8.2 Running Out of Time - The New York Times editorial board
  9. 9 April 22, 2014
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  10. 10 April 21, 2014
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 10.2 P.E.I. agriculture minister says snow has recharged province's water table - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart
  11. 11 April 19, 2014
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 11.2 Rough Forecasts - New Yorker magazine article by Elizabeth Kolbert
    3. 11.3 Food ingredients getting scarier - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  12. 12 April 18, 2914
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 12.2 Science favours corporate interests - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  13. 13 April 17, 2014
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 13.2 Soil fumigant kills everything - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  14. 14 April 16, 2014
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  15. 15 April 15, 2014
    1. 15.1 Dana Jeffery's Environmental Report
    2. 15.2 Larry Cosgrave's Environmental Report - Facebook
    3. 15.3 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    4. 15.4 Role of family farms topic of meeting in Charlottetown - The Guardian article
  16. 16 April 14, 2014
    1. 16.1 Cindy Richards' Environmental Report - Facebook
    2. 16.2 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  17. 17 April 13, 2014
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 17.2 Oil and gas sector now Canada's biggest generator of greenhouse gases -The Guardian article
  18. 18 April 12, 2014
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 18.2 Prince Charles and Camilla to spend Victoria Day in P.E.I. - The Guardian article by Ryan Ross
  19. 19 April 11, 2014
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  20. 20 April 10, 2014
    1. 20.1 Cindy Richards' Environmental Report - Facebook
    2. 20.2 Dana Jeffery's Environmental Report - Facebook
    3. 20.3 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    4. 20.4 Committee opts to delay decision on deep-water wells - The Guardian Lead Editorial
    5. 20.5 Green Party calls for Public Commission of Inquiry on Water Resources - Facebook
    6. 20.6 Hot Potato - Water Canada magazine article by Rachel Phan
  21. 21 April 9, 2014
    1. 21.1 Cindy Richards' Environmental Report - Facebook
    2. 21.2 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    3. 21.3 Budget Blog-Highlights or Lowlights - NDP Leader Mike Redmond
  22. 22 April 8, 2014
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 22.2 Changes to agricultural legislation patently absurd - The Guardian Commentary by Randall Affleck
  23. 23 April 7, 2014
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  24. 24 April 6, 2014
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 24.2 DeSable land sales - CBC Compass
    3. 24.3 IRAC quashes Hampton development plans - The Guardian article by Jim Day
    4. 24.4 IRAC decision in Hampton may have consequences for land use in P.E.I. - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  25. 25 April 5, 2014
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  26. 26 April 4, 2014
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  27. 27 April 3, 2014
    1. 27.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 27.2 Politicians Abandon Environment - Telegraph Journal Commentary By Brad Walters
    3. 27.3 P.E.I. needs proper land use - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    4. 27.4 April 2, 2014
    5. 27.5 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    6. 27.6 Shrinkage cause of many problems - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  28. 28 April 1, 2014
    1. 28.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update

April 30, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The CAA (Canadian Automobile Association) results for Worst Roads in Atlantic Canada 2014 are here:
Plan B is 9th, and of course the worst on PEI. 

To be fair, the heaving has settled a bit in the last week, but you can still see its flaws; and you can't see its price tag.

Today at 10AM is a talk on the dangers of genetically-modified food at the Robert Cotton Youth Centre off Bunbury Road in Stratford.  Folks who were at the talk last night thought it was excellent and *very* eye-opening.

Tonight in Hampton is the meeting regarding:

All welcome, for the background on the whole issue will be informative, and learning anything more about what's happening here will be enlightening.

If you haven't seen the non-profit Young At Heart Theatre musical production of "Dr Magnificent's Magical Medicine Show" yet, there are still a few more opportunities:  Wednesday, April 30 (tonight) at the Farm Centre (dinner and show) at 6:30PM (892-3419),
North Rustico Lions Club, Tuesday, May 6, 7PM
Wheatley River Hall, May 9, 7:30PM, in their newly renovated hall, (621-0718 or e-mail omega2@pei.sympatico.ca)
and St. Paul's Church, Charlottetown, Sunday, May 10 2PM (892-1691) -- last performance and reception

April 29, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A correction:  The talk about genetically modified food is at 6PM tonight, at the Robert Cotton Centre, in Stratford, off Bunbury Road.

A reminder:  The publicly-called meeting regarding a proposed development in Hampton-DeSable is tomorrow night, 7PM, at the Bites Cafe (Hampton Hall) on the TCH, west of Bonshaw. 

The Legislature resumes today, from 2-5PM, and 7-9PM. 

is the website if you want to watch the proceedings (follow "Watch Live" links).

Fuerunt quondam in hac re publica viri magnae virtutis.

There were once, in this republic, men of great virtue.

April 28, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Tonight, in the theatre at Westisle High School, near Elmsdale on Route 2, 7PM.
The importance of water to wildlife and ecosystems will be talked about in a talk called: “Silent Springs: Potential Impacts of Deep Water Well Extraction on Prince Edward Island” with Professor Daryl Guignion.
This talk is sponsored by the Western Prince Watershed Improvements Groups -- good for them!  Daryl is an excellent speaker and has beautiful photography illustrating his points. 
If you are anywhere in the area, it would be a great talk to attend.
For more information:  Watershed Alliance website information on tonight's talk

Another informative letter from Tony Lloyd:
Link to Tony Lloyd's letter referring to aquifiers in The Guardian

Infiltration water problem - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on April 25, 2014

As regards confined aquifers (CA), consider the specific yields of unconfined aquifers are much larger than the storativities of CAs.

Thus, from a hydraulic standpoint, unconfined aquifers are generally preferable to CAs for water supply, because for the same rate of water extraction there is less draw down over a smaller area with an unconfined aquifer than with a CA.

The Winter River abstraction well fields have been drilled into a Permian CA with gravel beds of high lateral conductivity. Over the past 50 years, the area of depressurization has increased to such an extent that the CA has consumed the Stanhope ponds and bogs and has induced anoxia on Covehead, Brackley, Rustico and Winter bays. The area of infiltration may now be greater than 200 square kilometres, extending as far west as Hunter River.

In the sandstone layers of the aquitard, which separate the CA from the water table (unconfined) aquifer, the vertical permeability of sandstone is two to three times less than its horizontal permeability and this suggests that there is more joint permeability than inter- granular permeability.

However, as water pressure is reduced (de-watering) in the CA, stresses between solid grains of the aquitard matrix will increase because of the overburden pressure of land above and compaction of the aquitard sandstone will occur; hence, its permeabilities will decrease; hence, the area of infiltration must increase.

Compaction is an irreversible and permanent change to the sandstone matrix. The CA was primed during the last ice age. Now man has pumped the CA to a steady state standoff and the land and ocean are crying out. The recharge time of the upper CA may be rated in centuries while deeper CAs may be rated in millennia and for this reason CA waters are often classed as a non-renewable resource.

The water table is stable but its lateral flow, waters destined for marine environments, now have a large downward component into the CA. The horizontal (lateral) flow, now largely stopped, of such waters are a renewable resource and are necessary for the survival of many marine plants and animals.

Tony Lloyd, Mount Stewart

Some additional notes:
Permian: 250 - 300 million years ago
"Aquitard - A confining bed that retards but does not prevent the flow of water to or from an adjacent aquifer; a leaky confining bed. It does not readily yield water to wells or springs, but may serve as a storage unit for ground water (AGI, 1980)."
This article, "Fresh Water and the Water Cycle", looks like a good background.

illustration from Steve Altaner's article "Water Cycle and Fresh Water Supply."

This illustration and link are from Connexions (or cnx.org), a "global repository of educational content provided by volunteers."
Link to Wikipedia article on CNX or Connexions organization

April 27, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Issues old and new, but with a lot in commom:

Reserve Wednesday, April 30th, 7PM, Hampton, for this meeting; no matter where you live on PEI, this is important, and you are welcome to attend.

Two years ago, on April 26, 2012, a Stop Plan B rally was held on a brilliant, crisp Thursday afternoon in front of Province House.  It was from about 1-2PM, so all the MLAs had to pass through it to get into the Legislature for the afternoon session.

The rally poster with fantastic logo by a Bonshaw resident; a young speaker at the Rally, April 26, 2012, with lots of wonderful people attending; we know many others wished they could be there.

We had lots of help planning it, and learned a great deal:  It is good to have many, *short* speeches, and someone as a ruthless timekeeper. It is good to have music, and good-hearted musicians are something the Island specializes in.  It helps that they often have sound equipment, too, and generally they are unflappable, able to fill in all sorts of gaps and work in all sorts of combinations, and calming to everyone around them (Roy Johnstone, Margie Carmichael, Doug Millington).  Balloons are good, and ours were not helium-filled!  Signs of all sorts.  And a big fat petition to sign and turn in.

The speakers hit at why Plan B was wrong from about every angle -- an economist discussing our debt and the fallacy of 50cent dollars (Jim Sentance), leaders of every political party on PEI at the time (James Rodd, Sharon Labchuk, Olive Crane, and Robert Ghiz; we couldn't reach an Island Party person), a kid who called out the hypocrisy and the reckless handing of money saddled on her generation (Liese Ortenburger): "We are going to have to pay for this debt and everything it is made of...like roads we don't want.  We have no choice; we are chained to it.")  The safety monkey-business (Peter Bevan-Baker). A business owner and grandmother (Lynne Douglas), a business owner and dad (Bruce MacPherson), a couple of mothers who looked at thier children and wonders what this means for them (Tracey McG and myself).  Environmentalists (Irene Novaczek, Tony Reddin, Jackie Waddell), each eloquent.  I am forgetting people, and I apologize for that.

Yes, the premier was booed, and Minister Vessey, and we sang little ditties like "Quit the Road, Ghiz"; but it was all part of the day.  Too bad instead of listening to the speeches those two found people to talk loudly to, and Plan B's own MLA Valerie Docherty was whisked inside and didn't make any sort of comment until after Question Period when she lashed out at Opposition MLA James Alyward.

For being very serious about a very bad government decision which has longterm ramifications, we also had a great deal of fun.  We (all of us) made our point.
Later, in the Legislature, Question Period focused on Plan B, the concerns about the nearby shale pit and who knew what when, and finally the Opposition tabled the petition, and also a motion to scrap the project.  The motion was defeated, after lengthy speeches on why Plan B was bad by the Tories (including then-Tory Hal Perry), and why it was just dandy from several Ministers who repeated from the same crib sheet of safety and 50cent dollars.  It's hard to remember what was the most ridiculous statement, but runners up were Tourism Minister Robbie Henderson saying basically it would be great for tourists to see those old trees more closely from the new safe road, and Minister George Webster saying completely odd things like:

Thirty years ago I probably went out and planted more trees than anyone in this room. I’m not saying that from a boastful perspective at all, but I planted about 10,000 trees on land that I had that I harvested some trees that were mature. Trees grow up, trees mature and trees die and fall over. On top of all of that, I had what we call a plush tree. Forestry folks walked through the forest and they found this perfect tree. It was a black spruce tree, it’s still standing today. Every year the F.J. Gaudet tree farm, tree nursery, would come out and they would shimmy up the tree, and they would take the, I think, scones or something, they’d take off the tree. That was the breeding stock for next year. They did that for many years to multiply their stocks and produce trees for other woodlots.

As minister of forestry, we planted about 650,000 trees last year, and I believe we’re planting about that this year again. It’s a good thing.

I think, if we do have some super good high quality hemlock stock out there where this road may interfere with some of them, I think we should go out and harvest the material.

Hansard links for Spring 2012 Legislature sitting  pick April 26 for the pdf.

Valerie Docherty said this late in the afternoon when she spoke:

"I wish, and to my two constituents above, that I could make a decision that would make them happy. I know I can’t. But I value them, I value their opinion, and I hope that they understand the position I’m in.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.

...which was most nauseating of all. 

The CBC article focused on the booing, and most of the coverage was about Valerie's meltdown in the lobby of the Legislature.

CBC website article from April 26, 2012, rally

Trans-Canada Reroute protested at Province House - CBC website

April 27th, 2012

About 350 people gathered in front of Province House Thursday to protest realignment plans for the Trans-Canada Highway in Bonshaw. Premier Robert Ghiz was booed when he came out to speak to the crowd.  People gave speeches, chanted, held signs and brought in baby Hemlock trees, hoping to block Plan B.

Plan B is the provincial government’s $16-million plan to reroute the highway, which would run through private forest lots on the other side of the current highway, eliminating steep grades and numerous driveway accesses.  The province has said the decision to reroute the highway was the result of public input about the safety of the current route.  But many who oppose the plan say it was unfair that plans moved ahead without public consultation, and that other options to make the highway safer haven't been considered.

"I feel that there was false inclusion in the decision-making process," said protester Walter Wilkins. "It's basically a waste of my money, of taxpayers' money."

Opposition leader Olive Crane said her party wants to hear from Islanders. "We're going to ask one of the legislative committees ... to go the next step — start public consulations on this project and give it back to the government. That's the work that the House is supposed to be doing," Crane told the crowd. (Chris's comment -- Olive is about the only one who really knows the work that the House *should* be doing.)

NDP leader James Rodd also spoke out against the Liberals' plan.  "If the government doesn't speak for those majestic trees, or the ecology, or the environment, then it's up to you," he said.

The rerouting involves 34 private properties, including 10 homes. The province has said affected residents will be compensated.  About $4 million has been set aside to purchase all of the affected properties, including the large, forested New Haven Campground, which used to be the amusement park, Encounter Creek.

Area residents are concerned about the environmental impact of the new road.  The Island Nature Trust also sent a letter to Transportation Minister Robert Vessey saying the group is strongly opposed to the rerouting of the Trans-Canada.  Jackie Waddell, the executive director of the group, said the project will cross a number of deep ravines and stream systems that support lots of fish and wildlife.  The minister responded to the group, saying the changes are needed to bring that section of the Trans-Canada up to current safety standards, Waddell said.  "From what we've heard to date, this is a project that's being bullied through, and we think it's just not necessary and it's going to ruin these systems," said Waddell.

Opponents are presenting a petition to the legislature with more than 3,000 signatures, with hopes the government will soon respond.  An environmental assessment is underway, and construction will likely begin once that’s completed.

"Very rarely does the result of an environmental impact assessment stop a project," Waddell said.  "While there may be threatened species, it's very unlikely we'll find anything endangered, or they're going to find anything endangered in the path. However, there are sites of provincial significance that should be considered."

Ghiz spoke at Thursday's protest, saying the reroute was an opportunity to improve a dangerous section of highway through the Atlantic Gateway Fund.Ghiz did say he expected opposition.  "This is an opportunity for us to improve highway safety, to save lives, and we also have the opportunity to improve the highway," Ghiz said amidst several boos from the crowd.

Hope you had a nice cup of something warm for the memory lane walk.

April 26, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A buffet of events in the next week:

Today, Saturday, April 26th:
The Bonshaw Fisherman's Breakfast is going on this morning, until the food runs out (before noon), Bonshaw Community Centre, proceeds to the QEH.

The NDP PEI Convention at the Rodd Charlottetown starts at 8AM (registration) and featuring guest Lorraine Michael, Leader of the NDP in Newfoundland and Labrador.
NDP PEI Convention Facebook event

Also, at the Farm Centre is the Family Farm and Micro Processing Trade Show, another in a fantastic line-up of workshops and events that are bringing that dear Farm Centre back to life for all kinds of farming and all Islanders.
Family Farm and Micro processing trade Show Facebook Event

The final showings of Inherit the Wind, a play about the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, are tonight at 7:30PM and tomorrow at 2PM, at Trinity United Church, a joint effort of the church and A Community Theatre (ACT).
Inherit the Wind facebook event listing

Sunday, April 27th
Art with Heart Closing Reception and Live Auction
"After almost two weeks of a wonderful art showing on the walls of Now n Zen Coffee and Tea House, we are closing the bidding for the online auction at 2pm on Sunday. A reception will take place and we are auctioning a few of the pieces LIVE! All money raised is going to help families with children fighting cancer on PEI."   A great effort from Maureen Kerr (who is responsible for the attractive website for the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water http://peiwater.com/ ) and others.
Art with Heart Facebook Page

The Bonshaw Ceilidh, at the Bonshaw Hall, switches back to evenings, 7PM, admission by donation, proceeds going to the Parkinson's Society.

On Monday, April 28 at 7:00 PM at Westisle High School in Elmsdale.  "The Western Prince Edward Island watershed improvement groups are sponsoring a presentation by Professor Daryl Guignion outlining threats to aquatic ecosystems and water resources on Prince Edward Island. The presentation “Silent Springs: Potential Impacts of Deep Water Well Extraction on Prince Edward Island” will relay important background information on how cool, clear and abundant water in our Island streams is critical for a balance in our estuaries’ eco-systems. Mr. Guignion will talk about the importance of and the relationship between the quality and quantity of water and the health of the fish populations and aquatic life in the streams. 
"Professor Daryl Guignion researches wildlife and their ecosystems, and investigates factors limiting wild salmon and trout production on Prince Edward Island. Mr. Guignion was instrumental in setting up the Island Nature Trust, a non-government organization dedicated to the protection and management of natural areas on PEI.  Professor Guignion continues to work with other groups to develop and implement watershed plans.
For further information please contact John Lane, Cascumpec Bay Watershed Association coordinator, at (902) 853-2090 or jlane32090@live.ca

Tuesday, April 29th, 7PM, Robert Cotton Park, 57 Bunbury Road in Stratford, lecture: "Genetically Engineered Foods and Your Health". Dr. Thierry Vrain is a retired genetic engineer who now speaks out against GM technology.
Also, 10AM Wednesday, April 30th. 
GE Foods and Health Facebook page

Wednesday, April 30, 7-9PM, is the meeting on the development in Hampton and DeSable, at the Hampton Hall/Bites Cafe on the TCH (19566)
Hampton/DeSable development project meeting

OK, that's enough of things going on.  Here is an interesting food (well, soil) article.

Have a great day,
Chris O.


How Organic Farming Can Reverse Climate Change - Rodale Institute

Published on April 22, 2014

Rodale Institute announced yesterday the launch of a global campaign to generate public awareness of soil’s ability to reverse climate change, but only when the health of the soil is maintained through organic regenerative agriculture. The campaign calls for the restructuring of our global food system with the goal of reversing climate change through photosynthesis and biology. 

“We could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term ‘regenerative organic agriculture.’” Photo credit: Shutterstock

The white paper, Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming, is the central tool of the campaign. The paper was penned by Rodale Institute, the independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit agricultural research institute widely recognized as the birthplace of the organic movement in the U.S.

The white paper states that “We could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term ‘regenerative organic agriculture.’”

If management of all current cropland shifted to reflect the regenerative model as practiced at the research sites included in the white paper, more than 40 percent of annual emissions could potentially be captured. If, at the same time, all global pasture was managed to a regenerative model, an additional 71 percent could be sequestered. Essentially, passing the 100 percent mark means a drawing down of excess greenhouse gases, resulting in the reversal of the greenhouse effect.

Regenerative organic agriculture is comprised of organic practices including (at a minimum): cover crops, residue mulching, composting and crop rotation. Conservation tillage, while not yet widely used in organic systems, is a regenerative organic practice integral to soil-carbon sequestration. Other biological farming systems that use some of these techniques include ecological, progressive, natural, pro-soil and carbon farming.

“The purpose of our work is singular; we are working to create a massive awakening,” said “Coach” Mark Smallwood, executive director of Rodale Institute.

“Our founder, J.I. Rodale, had a vision so ambitious that many people wrote him off at the time. Almost 75 years later, the organic movement is exploding with growth and fierce determination. But the stakes are much higher in 2014. J.I. saw that agriculture was heading in a dangerous direction by way of the wide-spread adoption of the use of synthetic chemicals and the industrialization of farming. He attempted to prevent that transition. We no longer have the luxury of prevention. Now we are in the dire situation of needing a cure, a reversal. We know that correcting agriculture is an answer to climate chaos, and that it hinges on human behavior. The massive awakening itself is the cure. The future is underfoot. It’s all about healthy soil.”

The Rodale Institute supports its claims by explaining that if sequestration rates attained by the cases cited inside the white paper were achieved on crop and pastureland across the globe, regenerative agriculture could sequester more than our current annual carbon dioxide emissions. Even if modest assumptions about soil’s carbon sequestration potential are made, regenerative agriculture can easily keep annual emissions to within the desirable range necessary if we are to have a good chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C by 2020.

“The white paper is to encourage new research, new policy and the rapid expansion of regenerative agricultural methods,” said Smallwood.

“The media campaign brings the broader vision to the public much faster. The idea is to stoke the public outcry that already exists and to validate those who demand these changes be made now. By engaging the public now, they build the pressure necessary to prevent this call to action from sitting on the desks of scientists and policy-makers, or worse yet, being buried by businesspeople from the chemical industry. We don’t have time to be polite about it.”

Below are three excerpts exemplifying the call to action set forth in the white paper:

  • Organically managed soils can convert carbon from a greenhouse gas into a food-producing asset. It’s nothing new, and it’s already happening, but it’s not enough. This is the way we have to farm, period.
  • There’s a technology for massive planetary geo-engineering that’s tried and tested and available for widespread dissemination right now. It costs little and is adaptable to localities the world over. It can be rolled out tomorrow providing multiple benefits beyond climate stabilization. It’s photosynthesis.
  • The solution is farming like life on Earth matters; farming in a way that restores and even improves on the natural ability of the microbiology present in healthy soil to hold carbon. This kind of farming is called regenerative organic agriculture and it is the solution to climate change we need to implement today.

Since its founding in 1947 by J.I. Rodale, the Rodale Institute has been committed to groundbreaking research in organic agriculture, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating people about how organic is the safest, healthiest option for people and the planet. The Rodale Institute is home to the Farming Systems Trial, America’s longest-running side-by-side comparison of chemical and organic agriculture. Consistent results from the study have shown that organic yields match or surpass those of conventional farming. In years of drought, organic corn yields are about 30 percent higher. This year, 2013, marks the 33rd year of the trial. New areas of study at the Rodale Institute include rates of carbon sequestration in chemical versus organic plots, new techniques for weed suppression and organic livestock.

April 25 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

We have a lovely university here, but I am left feeling some of its decision-makers aren't quite living up to the standards we wish they would.

Yesterday the names of four recipients of honorary degrees for the May 10 UPEI convocation were released; one of the recipients is former lieutenant governor Barbara Hagerman, two other men with ties to the Island (a retired major-general Matt Macdonald and educator James MacAulay) and...Robert Irving.

Robert Irving is the grandson of K.C. Irving, along with his brother Jim Irving.  (It has been acidly mentioned that Jim manages a little woodlot known as New Brunswick, and Robert a little French fry farm know as PEI.)  This year people have realized that Cavendish Farms and the PEI Potato Board are the main forces behind the push for lifting the moratorium on high capacity wells.  In July of 2013, the two groups met with the Environment Minister's Environmental Advisory Committee to with a presentation "The benefits of high capacity wells for irrigating potato fields in PEl."
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/documents/  2013 Annual Report of PEI Environmental Advisory Council,tabled April 15, 2014

UPEI Press Release on 2014 recipients
and from the page on selection, from UPEI's website:

An honorary degree is an academic degree for which a university has waived the usual requirements, such as matriculation, residence, study, and the passing of examinations. The degree is typically a doctorate and may be awarded to someone who has no prior connection with the academic institution.
Honorary degrees are conferred honoris causa, "for the sake of honour” and are awarded as a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa at the University of Prince Edward Island.

UPEI honorary degrees are intended to recognize outstanding provincial, national, and international contributions in any field(s) of endeavour. Whether these are made by Prince Edward Islanders, or by individuals with strong PEI connections, their contributions should reflect extraordinary intellectual or artistic achievements or significant service to society set at a standard of excellence that merit the University's highest honour. 

At UPEI, two honorary degrees are conferred at each the morning and afternoon Spring Convocation in May. (Comment: not counting  "Special Convocation" or in 2003 when they conferred a baker's dozen.)  One of the honorary degree recipients at each convocation usually presents an address. The tradition of granting honorary degrees at UPEI dates back to the Convocation of its founding institution, St. Dunstan’s University, in 1960.

Selection of Honorary Degree Recipients
The University of Prince Edward Island welcomes the nomination of worthy individuals for honorary degrees and any member of the public or the University community may submit nominations.  Honorary Degrees from UPEI are conferred on the authorization of the Senate, after the Honorary Degree Committee brings forward the name of suitable candidates for consideration.  UPEI Honorary Degrees are generally not awarded posthumously or in absentia, or to any of the following: current faculty or staff; current members of the Board of Governors and the Senate; and current holders of political office in Canada.
Nominations are accepted on an ongoing basis throughout the year, however nominations must be received by January 10, 2014 for honorary degrees conferred in May 2014. Make a nomination using the Honorary Degree Nomination Form

The makeup of the selection committee is here

Below is a list of past honorees; just last year the two women selected made (make!) significant contributions to our Island community *and* environment. 

Have a great day,
Chris O.,

UPEI Honorary Degree Recipients 2013-1968

Marie Burge
Regis Duffy
Diane Griffin
Fred Hyndman
Special Convocation:
Rhoda Karetak (Iqaluit, NU)
Donald Uluadluak (Iqaluit, NU)

Michael Bliss
Derek Key
Frank Zakem

Monique Collette
Louis MacEachern
Teresa Mellish
Danny Williams

Pat Binns
Judy Bragg
Donald MacKenzie
Harry Snow

Parker Jewell
Marilla Millar
Anne Murray
Michael Schurman
Special Convocation:
Meeka Arnaquq (Iqaluit, NU)
Mariano Aupilardjuk (Iqaluit, NU)

James E. Carter

(I thought James E. Carter was, you know, Jimmy Carter, maybe for his work for Habitat for Humanity and I wasn't paying attention that he came here; but no, the James E. Carter is:   "Mr. James Edward Clarke Carter, also known as Jim, P.Eng. served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Syncrude Canada Ltd. from October 1, 1997 to April 30, 2007. " -- Bloomfield Business Report)

Wayne D. Gray
Nona Macdonald Heaslip
Joseph Ng

Donna Jane Campbell
Paul Giannelia
Richard Homburg
Kay MacPhee
Special Convocation:
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex

Elaine Helen Campbell
Suzanne Lévesque
David Wallace Rodd
Joseph Fenwick Watkin
Alice Patterson Webster

James Matthew Lee
Colin Edward MacDonald
John Joe Sark
Charles Stewart Scranton

Joseph Georges Arsenault
Francis Blanchard
Jacques Hebert
Arnold Aubrey Hiltz
Ellen Margaret Macdonald
Antonine Maillet
Special Convocation:
Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado

Marlene Bryenton
Arthur Linkletter
Kent G. Ellis
David R. Mason
Sam Sniderman
Mary Walsh
Special Convocation:
Vera Elizabeth Dewar
Doug Hall
Hesta Arlette MacDonald
J. Faber MacDonald
Katherine MacDonald
Roy MacLaren
Cecil E. MacPhail
Ruby Matheson

Tom Connors
Lorie Kane
Alistair MacLeod
Beverley McLachlin

M. Lorne Bonnell
Norman Kenneth Campbell
Donald Harron
Brady J. Smith

M. Olive Bryanton
Stephen Lewis
Paul Hudson Schurman

Angele Arsenault
Colin James McMillan

Ronald Everard Irving
Doris Hilda Anderson
Mary Johanna Boyd
James Simpson Palmer

Marion Loretta Reid
Elaine Russell Harrison
J. Antoine Richard

Adrienne Clarkson
Dorothy C. Hall
Brian Maxfield Dunbar Chandler
John Angus Weir

Mary Nicholson Ross
Bertha Wilson
J. Hubert O'Hanley
Wilbert C. Mclnnis

Roberta Lynn Bondar
Eleanor Mary Lowe
William A. Ledwell
John H. Maloney

Reginald G. Thomson
L. George Dewar
Elinor MacDonald MacLellan
J. Mavor Moore

June Callwood
Lyman Maclnnis
Mary Irene McKinnon
Wanda Wyatt

Stephen P. Connolly
Trevor Lloyd Jones
Anne Marie Perry
Alan K. Scales

Gwilym John Bevan
Michael Dennis Duffy
Special Convocation:
Anna Jane Duffy
Eugene McCabe
Mary Olga McKenna
Brendan Anthony O'Grady

Ronald James Baker
Robertson William Davies
George Frederick McRobie
Arthur West Vesey

Donald Ernest Malcolm Glendenning
Athol Leith Roberts
Albert Bing Ching Young
Wayne Arnold Easter

Roy Earnest Bonisteel
Joseph Clair Callaghan
Gustave Gingras
Catherine Gertrude Hennessey
Dennis George Howell
Special Convocation:
Joseph Atallah Ghiz
Doreen Wadad Kays

Muriel Helena Duckworth
Maureen Katherine Forrester
Edward Dawson Ives
Freeman Lester McEwen

Alfred Linus Morrison
Leo Harrison Killorn
John Angus MacLean
John Ronald MacDonald

John Thomas Place
Joseph Guillaume Gaudin
George Parkin Grant

Georgie Read Barton
Philip Warburton Oland
Thomas Henry Bull Symons
George Denton Clark

Catherine Therese Wallace
Florence Elsie Inman
Joseph Cyril O'Brien
Evelyn MacEwen Cudmore

Jean Pierre Edgar Gallant
Helen de Greayer Herring
David Samuel Horne MacDonald
William Wright Reid

Gordon Lockhart Bennett
Clement Cormier
Mary Evelyn & Raymond Alfred Vessey

Alexander Bradshaw Campbell
Farley McGill Mowat
Ernest Wilbur Johnstone

Heath Nelson Macquarrie
James Merrill McAlduff
Donald Joseph McDougall

Milton James Acorn
John George Diefenbaker
Preston MacIntyre

Chinua Acheve
John Tougas Croteau
Eugene Patrick Cullen

Henry Bramwell Chandler
Mary Elizabeth Park Henderson
Constance Ida MacFarlane
Gordon Edward Pinsent
William Bernard Ready
Jean-Guy Sylvestre
Louis George Vagianos

William Stewart MacNutt
Leone Mosher Ross
David Takayoshi Suzuki

Joseph Ulric Poirier
Chester Bryant Stewart
Pierre Berton

John Hugh MacLennan
Austin Alexander Scales
Moncrieff Williamson

Dorothy Agnes Cullen
Mark Rudolph MacGuigan
Edward Fletcher Sheffield

Laurier Lucien LaPierre
Alan Wilfred Lund
Eric MacLean Found

St. Dunstan's University

Dorothy Corrigan
Eleanor S. Duckett
M. Alban Farmer
Harold J. Hynes
Hugh J. Somers
George F.G. Stanley

Iphigenie Arsenault

April 24, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

MP Sean Casey's Town Hall on the "Fair Elections Act" tonight, 7-9PM, at The Guild. All welcome.

Tonight and this weekend:
Inherit the Wind, a play based on the 1925 "Scopes Monkey Trial", call for ticket availability (892-4114)

Monday, April 28th, Meeting on high capacity wells and related issues, with guest speaker biologist Daryl Guignion, at Westisle School, Route 2 near Alberton.  More details to follow.

The PEI Legislature sits today (2-5PM, 7-9PM) and tomorrow (10AM-1PM).  If you can drop in to watch the proceedings, that's great; watching or listening from Eastlink TV or from your computer
gives you an idea of what is being discussed.

A letter from the time capsule, that still rings true, from two years ago:

Bypass road plans wasteful all around -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on April 18, 2012

The P.E.I. government, with taxpayers' money, has in the past designed, built, inspected, and accepted, among others, the portion of highway between New Haven and Bonshaw, through one of the most forested parts on the Island.

This project created infrastructure for Trans-Canada Highway traffic as well as lucrative work opportunity for the selected construction industry. Now the same government declares its commissioned road unsafe, based on one fatal accident, in order to justify duplicate road construction through more of the pristine lands.

The existing road contains gentle hills with gentle curves and appears in acceptable unfailed condition. To make such road responsible for traffic accidents is false argumentation, unworthy of being used as justification. If road and vehicle have not failed, then traffic safety always depends on all drivers' ability to correctly read road conditions, to be alert and undistracted for making good judgments and to operate their vehicle in a courteous and safe manner. In these times of restraint there is no need to spend some $16 million for a section of bypass road. If the government wants to improve on its design, shave off some hills and cut some corners, one lane at a time.

The government's unsophisticated plans require the destruction of pristine natural lands in the area. Well-managed woodlands, some of them rare hemlock and white pines, estimated to be 300 years old. Steep slopes with vegetation now hold the water and balance the watershed. Wide ravines with sizable creeks are destined to be filled in. Despite the strong objection by the concerned public, and likely pressured by a hungry construction industry, the government is arrogantly and stubbornly determined to ram this project through, without a thorough and detailed environmental impact assessment.

Consideration for economic gain must not simultaneously destroy environmental value. We all have to learn to become ecologically literate. The environment must be seen as a most valuable asset with an extremely high cost, and that cost must become part of the monetary equation.

Karl (Carlo) Hengst, Summerside

Take care today with the rain and all.

April 23, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Paris United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2015 meeting will be very important, and we have time to get ready for it. 

This editorial is of course very American-centric, but interesting.

Running Out of Time - The New York Times editorial board

Published on April 20, 2014

Next year, in December, delegates from more than 190 nations will gather in Paris to take another shot at completing a new global treaty on climate change. This will be the 21st Conference of the Parties under United Nations auspices since the first summit meeting in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

For the most part, these meetings have been exercises in futility, producing just one treaty — in Kyoto in 1997 — that asked little of the big developing countries and was never ratified by the United States Senate. But if the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent report is to be taken seriously, as it should be, the Paris meeting may well be the world’s last, best chance to get a grip on a problem that, absent urgent action over the next decade, could spin out of control.

The I.P.C.C., composed of thousands of the world’s leading climate scientists, has issued three reports in the last seven months, each the product of up to six years of research. The first simply confirmed what has been known since Rio: global warming is caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels by humans and, to a lesser extent, by deforestation. The second, released in Japan three weeks ago, said that profound effects were already being felt around the world, including mounting damage to coral reefs, shrinking glaciers and more persistent droughts, and warned of worse to come — rising seas, species loss and dwindling agricultural yields.

The third report, released last week, may be the most ominous of the three. Despite investments in energy efficiency and cleaner energy sources in the United States, in Europe and in developing countries like China, annual emissions of greenhouse gases have risen almost twice as fast in the first decade of this century as they did in the last decades of the 20th century. This places in serious jeopardy the emissions target agreed upon in Rio to limit warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the preindustrial level. Beyond that increase, the world could face truly alarming consequences.

Avoiding that fate will require a reduction of between 40 percent and 70 percent in greenhouse gases by midcentury, which means embarking on a revolution in the way we produce and consume energy.

That’s daunting enough, but here’s the key finding: The world has only about 15 years left in which to begin to bend the emissions curve downward. Otherwise, the costs of last-minute fixes will be overwhelming. “We cannot afford to lose another decade,” says Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chairman of the committee that wrote the report. “If we lose another decade, it becomes extremely costly to achieve climate stabilization.”

The report does not tell governments what to do — presumably, that’s for them to decide in Paris — but it lists approaches, mostly familiar, some technologically advanced. The most obvious, and probably the most difficult to negotiate, is to put a global price on carbon, either through a system of tradable permits like that adopted by Europe (and rejected by the United States Senate) or through a carbon tax of some sort, thus driving investments to cleaner fuels.

A more plausible pathway is to get each country to adopt binding emission reduction targets and then allow them to choose how to get there — ramping up nuclear energy, phasing out coal-fired plants in favor of cleaner natural gas (though natural gas itself would have to someday give way to low-carbon alternatives), and vastly increasing renewable sources like wind and solar, which still supply only a small fraction of the world’s energy (less than 5 percent for wind and solar combined in the United States). All this will require a huge shift in investment, both private and public, from fossil fuels.

Governments have an enormous amount of work to do in devising emission reduction strategies by next year. As always, American leadership will be required, meaning leadership from the top. Confronted with a hostile Congress, President Obama has commendably moved on his own to reduce emissions through regulations, first with cars and now with coal-fired power plants. And he has done so without a great deal of public support. However compelling the science, global warming has not generated the kind of public anxiety and bottom-up demand for change that helped win the big fights for cleaner air and water in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This makes his job harder but no less urgent.

April 22, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Today is actually Earth Day, but it sounds like the Easter Monday break yesterday was too good to miss for activities at the Family Earth Day Expo at the Farm Centre.  Hats off to Jordan MacPhee and other for their work organizing a great event, and being concerned about our Earth every day of year.

Some other events going on today and the next couple of days:

Today is the annual Earth Day cleanup afternoon, from about 2-4PM, at MacPhail Woods.  It is such a lovely place, and like anywhere else, could use some help tidying things up in the spring.  Maps and contact information are here: http://macphailwoods.org/

Thursday, April 24th, Charlottetown Liberal MP Sean Casey Town Hall Meeting on the Fair Election Act, 7PM, The Guild, 111 Queen Street. Here is a poster produced by FairVote:

FairVote poster

The play Inherit the Wind is being performed Thursday through Sunday.  It is a joint production of Trinity United Church (where it will be held) and ACT, A Community Theatre.   (The cast includes some wonderful Plan B friends :-)  )  For more information, see:

American public broadcaster PBS is showing a one hour documentary tonight (I am not sure access, or if there will be any webviewing), A Fierce Green Fire

The title comes from a comment made by conservationist Aldo Leopold (who was mentioned in a letter to the editor last week by Island biologist Ian MacQuarrie).  It is one hour long, and includes five parts, and clips of Rachel Carson, Wangari Maathai from Kenya (her efforts were documented in the movie Taking Root),  Bill McKibbon of 350.org, and many, many others.  The trailer gives just a taste, but it shows a whirlwind history, with the parts narrated by people concerned about our Earth and with good speaking voices, including Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, and Meryl Streep.

April 21, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

It's Easter Monday, not April Fool's Day, I think, but here is an article from last week's Guardian where the Agriculture Minister has declared any water concerns are over:

P.E.I. agriculture minister says snow has recharged province's water table - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart

Published on April 16, 2014

The harsh winter may have been a nightmare for P.E.I.ʼs roads but it has been a blessing for the provinceʼs water table.
Agriculture Minister George Webster told the P.E.I. legislature on Tuesday the water table has been completely recharged thanks to a record winter of snow.

The last couple of years has seen little snow, at least that stuck around, and hot, dry summers.

“Weʼve had a significant amount of snow and, of course, the snow protects the soil from frost. What has happened over the past two to three weeks is weʼve got a nice slow melt . . . and itʼs actually being absorbed in the soil and percolate down to the water table,ʼʼ Webster told The Guardian following question period.

“This is the kind of spring you want. It may be a little hard on winter roads and so on but itʼs excellent for the land and excellent for the water table. If you drive through the countryside you can see water percolating out of the ground. Weʼve got a great recharge this year.ʼʼ

Webster said heʼs not basing it on any science. There are no studies or numbers to back up what heʼs saying. The minister said itʼs his opinion, based on years farming the land.

“I donʼt have any readings from the Department of Environment. Theyʼre probably monitoring that but if you drive by the countryside I can see springs actually percolating up through the ground in places and thatʼs a real good sign that the water table is really high,ʼʼ the minister said.

Bruce Smith, co-ordinator with the Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association, said the minister may not be far off in his assessment.

The Winter River-Tracadie Bay watershed is the only source of water for Charlottetown right now.

“We donʼt really have a way of measuring the groundwater but there is no question that the springs are flowing very well,ʼʼ Smith told The Guardian in an email.

The Department of Environment does have what is called reference wells. Smith said he heard levels in those wells are close to what they were last year but that more information will be available sometime in May.

Webster said he doesnʼt think the City of Charlottetown will have to worry about water restrictions this summer.
“Oh, I donʼt see any water restrictions whatsoever (necessary). Weʼve got a great recharge this year and that will be good for Winter River, too, on a go-forward basis because Winter River was certainly pretty low on water last year.

“Thatʼs no oneʼs fault. Charlottetown has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 20 years and the need for water is growing, too.ʼʼ

Work on a second water source for the capital city is currently underway in Miltonvale.

Webster said while the snow helped prop up the water table, the weather can still help out over the summer.
“My wish list would be an inch of rain a week.ʼʼ

Sometimes you just need to stop talking and sit down (watching where you sit, of course).

A few events to make note of:

Today is the Earth Day Expo, from noon to 4PM at the Farm Centre, free admission and a myriad of activities, information booths, and performances, going on.  There is also a film screening at 7:30PM at the Farm Centre, too.  The Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club organizes it, (and is cosponsoring the movie with Cinema Politica, and kudos to them all!
Family Earth Expo facebook event details
Cinema Politica facebook event for Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth

Next Wednesday, April 30th, 7PM, Hampton Hall, 19566 TCH, All interested in this issue or what it means for any other part of the Island, please feel welcome to attend.
Public Information Meeting on Hampton/DeSable Development proposal
Event details from Facebook
"Investors have bought 250+ acres in the Hampton/DeSable area and have presented to the PEI Government a development proposal worth $100 million. No local residents have had access to the plans and many are concerned about what may lie in store for their community. Owing to the lax land use regulations on PEI, the developers may well be able to proceed without any community input whatsoever. This proposed development may be an example of what is to come in other areas of the province; where investors can purchase vast tracts of unincorporated property and carry out large scale developments with government approval, and with no heed to the general public interest. If this is of concern to you, please plan on attending this important public information meeting."

April 19, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Writer Elizabeth Kolbert gracefully sums up the situation:
Article by Elizabeth Kolbert on the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s report

Rough Forecasts - New Yorker magazine article by Elizabeth Kolbert

Published April 14, 2014

The chemist F. Sherwood Rowland is one of the few people in history about whom it can accurately be said: he helped save the world. In 1972, Rowland, a chemist at the University of California-Irvine, attended a talk on the compounds known as chlorofluorocarbons. At the time, these were being used as refrigerants, cleaning agents, and propellants in aerosol cans, and they had recently been detected in the air over the Atlantic. CFCs are unusually stable, but it occurred to Rowland that, if they were getting blown around the world, at very high altitudes they would eventually break down. He and one of his research assistants began to look into the matter, and they concluded that in the stratosphere CFCs would indeed dissociate. The newly liberated chlorine atoms would then set off a chain reaction, which would destroy the ozone layer that protects the earth from ultraviolet radiation.

Industry groups ridiculed Rowland’s findings—Aerosol Age accused him of being a K.G.B. agent—but other scientists confirmed them, and Rowland pressed for a ban on CFCs. As he said, “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” The discovery, in the mid-nineteen-eighties, of an ozone “hole” over the South Pole persuaded world leaders, including Ronald Reagan, that the problem was, in fact, urgent, and a global treaty phasing out CFCs was approved in 1987.

Rowland’s question came to mind last week. At a meeting in Yokohama, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest update on the looming crisis that is global warming. Only this time it isn’t just looming. The signs are that “both coral reef and Arctic systems are already experiencing irreversible regime shifts,” the panel noted. Composed in a language that might be called High Committee, the report is nevertheless hair-raising. The I.P.C.C.’s list of potential warming-induced disasters—from ecological collapse to famine, flooding, and pestilence—reads like a riff on the ten plagues. Matching the terror is the collective shame of it. “Why should the world pay attention to this report?” the chairman of the I.P.C.C., Rajendra Pachauri, asked the day the update was released. Because “nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change.”

Talk about standing around and waiting. As in the case of the destruction of the ozone layer, much of the key research on climate change was completed in the nineteen-seventies. (The first major report on the subject from the National Academy of Sciences was requested by President Jimmy Carter.) And, once again, it’s been clear since that time what needs to be done. Global warming is a product of carbon emissions produced by burning fossil fuels, so, if we want to limit warming, these emissions have to be phased out.

Economists on both sides of the political spectrum agree that the most efficient way to reduce emissions is to impose a carbon tax. “If you want less of something, every economist will tell you to do the same thing: make it more expensive,” former Mayor Michael Bloomberg observed, in a speech announcing his support for such a tax. In the United States, a carbon tax could replace other levies—for example, the payroll tax—or, alternatively, the money could be used to reduce the deficit. Within a decade, according to a recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, a relatively modest tax of twenty-five dollars per metric ton of carbon would reduce affected emissions by about ten per cent, while increasing federal revenues by a trillion dollars. If other countries failed to follow suit, the U.S. could, in effect, extend its own tax by levying it on goods imported from those countries.

Currently, instead of discouraging fossil-fuel use, the U.S. government underwrites it, with tax incentives for producers worth about four billion dollars a year. Those tax breaks are evidently ludicrous, and they should be repealed. According to the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. is the world’s largest single source of fossil-fuel subsidies; the I.M.F. has estimated that eliminating such subsidies worldwide could cut carbon emissions by thirteen per cent. Meanwhile, the tax credit responsible for much of the recent growth in wind generation in the U.S. has been allowed to lapse. This is more lunacy; that tax credit should be reinstated. On a state level, public-utility laws need to be revamped so that utility companies are rewarded for promoting energy efficiency rather than energy consumption. Building codes, too, need to be rewritten; according to the previous I.P.C.C. update, released in 2007, significant cuts in emissions from buildings could be achieved through measures, like improved insulation, that also save their occupants money.

When the first I.P.C.C. report was issued, back in 1990, George H. W. Bush was in the White House. Each of his successors, including Barack Obama, has vowed to address the problem, only to decide that he had better things to do. Obama had an opportunity early in his first term to make a real difference; legislation to impose a price on carbon emissions, through a cap-and-trade system, was approved by the House in 2009. But the President put little political muscle behind the bill, and it died the following year in the Senate. The White House is now trying to bypass Congress and reduce emissions through regulations. In January, the Environmental Protection Agency published rules governing emissions from new power plants; effectively, they prohibit the construction of coal-burning plants. In February, the Administration announced plans to tighten fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles like garbage trucks and tractor-trailers, and, this spring, it is expected to propose new regulations limiting emissions from existing power plants. These are all laudable efforts, but the last set of regulations, which should be the most consequential, are coming so late in Obama’s second term that they will be left to the next President to implement—or not, as the case may be. And, unfortunately, the Administration is undermining its own best efforts by pressing for more domestic fossil-fuel production.

The fact that so much time has been wasted standing around means that the problem of climate change is now much more difficult to deal with than it was when it was first identified. But this only makes the imperative to act that much greater, because, as one set of grim predictions is being borne out, another, even worse set remains to be written. 

Of course, it helps to get local food, than food trucked in from somewhere else, as much as possible.  Local meat, sweet, white and red potatoes, fresh greens and the last winter root vegetables, flour for baking -- all are grown in the Maritimes and more will be if the demand is there.  (Chocolate is another story, but a big chain drug store has a few items from the fair trade company Cocoa Camino.)

Food ingredients getting scarier - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on April 10, 2014
What is in our food? Do you read labels? It is scary. Over the last 10 years or so, I have started to pay close attention to the ingredients in food and I am getting very concerned. There are so many things added to food that I had to take on a very strong attitude, if I cannot pronounce the ingredient or I do not know what it is, I donʼt buy it.

The food industry and government agencies that tell us this or that ingredient is safe for human consumption. However, there are many ingredients still in use in Canada that have been banned in other countries, why?

One example of this is azodicarbonamide, also listed as ADA on labels. This is found in many commercial breads, donuts and hot dog buns, etc. When the bread is baked at high temperatures, the AFA causes two other chemicals to be released: “urethane, a recognized carcinogen, and semicarbazide, which causes cancers of the lung and blood vessels in mice but poses a negligible risk to humans” (Center for Science in the Public Interest). However the ingredient list will only include the ADA and not the other two released carcinogenic chemicals.

In this day and age, the Internet provides us with an encyclopedia of information on anything we want. You do have to sift through a lot of it and check out the source of the information. The food producers will give you all kinds of data telling you how safe these chemicals are because they need to preserve their product on the shelf until it sells, it is all about money.

Take charge of your health, read labels and eat locally. You will see definite benefits in the way you feel in the long run.

Anne Gallant, Kensington

Have a great Easter weekend,

April 18, 2914

Chris Ortenburger's Update

From a couple of days ago, a letter that says a lot in a short space.

Science favours corporate interests - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on April 14, 2014

I am glad that the P.E.I. government did not lift the moratorium on deep-water wells.

The Guardian editorial of April 9, 2014 suggests that — “if the issue is too complex for committee members to handle, let the science talk”.

Governments should not form policy on the basis of scientific studies which, in many cases, have been commissioned by and slanted in favor of the corporate interests who will benefit from the contrived results.

Tony Lloydʼs letter entitled “pattern suggests link to wells” questions the possibility that deep-water wells may be responsible for the anoxia events on P.E.I.ʼs north shore and the lowering of the water table which in turn eliminated the North Shores wild cranberry bogs. He ends with “this, to me, suggests a hypothesis linking marine waters via the sandstone sub-strata, groundwater and deep-water wells.”

“A Thousand things are hidden still, and not a hundred known” —applies to mysteries as great as the water on which all life depends. I hope the last thing government will do is "let the science talk."

Marion E. MacCallum, Charlottetown

Saturday is a Sea Plants workshop at the Farm Centre, 2-5:30PM, another in the wonderful series the Food Exchange is offering to introduce and share food knowledge and food accessibility with everyone.
Registration is limited, so sign up if you are free tomorrow afternoon!  Admission free or by donation.  
Seaplants workshop Facebook page and link to registration

Learn about the most common, edible PEI seaplants and their nutritional value as food and for gardening; enjoy small group discussions and information exchange about benefits of seaplants as soil amendments; participate in a demonstration of how to cook with seaplants; and top it off with a seaplant gardener's feast: veggie stew with seaplants, sea flake biscuits and an Irish moss fruit pudding!

Resource persons: Irene Novaczek, PhD marine botany, Oceanna Seaplants Breadalbane; Joe Dorgan, entrepreneur (seaplants and agriculture) North Atlantic Organics, Tignish

We are requiring pre-registration for this workshop, given the anticipated demand. Registration will be limited to ~40 participants, so sign up fast!

To register, please visit the following link:

Here is the revised Owl Prowl schedule, and I would guess the paths are less snow packed that last week:
Owl Prowls are now scheduled for tonight and tomorrow (Friday and Saturday), and next Saturday, April 26th.

from their news release:


Come celebrate the wonderful world of owls this weekend at the Macphail Homestead in Orwell on Friday, April 18 and Saturday, April 19.   The Sir Andrew Macphail Foundation will be opening up the Great Room of the Homestead at 6:30pm each evening and serve light refreshments.  Visitors can warm themselves by the fireplace and enjoy the historic beauty that surrounds them.  There will be no cost but donations to the Foundation will be gratefully accepted.

At 7:30pm on both evenings, the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project will hold Owl Prowls starting at the Nature Centre.  There will be a third Owl Prowl held on April 26.  Visitors are asked to only attend one of these events.

These events are excellent opportunities to learn more about a fascinating family of rarely-seen birds.  From the tiny “saw whet” to the large “great horned”, owls have long been birds of mythology and misinformation.  The workshop will separate fact from fiction, combining a slide show with an outdoor walk.

The talks starts with slides and taped calls of common and uncommon owls that can be seen on Prince Edward Island.  There are also mounted displays of most of these birds as well as other educational material on owls and their habits.

Participants can then take a walk around the woods and try calling in owls.  Make sure to bring clothes suitable to weather conditions.  There is no admission for the workshops and everyone is welcome.  This is a very popular event and visitors are advised to come early as seating in the Nature Centre is limited and on a first-come, first-seated basis.  

 The owl prowls kick off an extensive series of outdoor activities at Macphail Woods, a project of the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island.  For more information on this or upcoming tours and workshops, please contact Gary Schneider at 651-2575, visit the website (www.macphailwoods.org) or find us on Facebook.                     

And Monday, celebrate Earth Day a day early at the Earth Day Expo, 12-4PM, at the Farm Centre!
Earth Day Expo Facebook events page

April 17, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The melting of a winter with a whole lot of snow has led to a lot of runoff at Plan B and everywhere else.  The West River has dealt with a lot, from the parts near Emyvale and down.  The little wooden footbridge in Bonshaw was overwhelmed and pulled off the banks yesterday afternoon.

The footbridge at Green Road over the Bonshaw (West) River, April 16th: top to bottom: noon, 2PM, 4:30PM.

Megan Harris of the West River Watershed (Central Queen's Wildlife Federation) reiterated that the Province is not doing enough to prepare for these intense weather patterns we are experiencing.

One small but significant example of this is the culvert underneath what is now the old TCH in Churchill.  It is supposed to drain both Crawford's Brook (the box culvert at Plan B) and Crawford's Stream (the arches culvert and Hemlock Grove) into the West River by Strathgartney, but is partially blocked/collapsed/eroded under and around.  The Department of Transportation knew that this culvert should be replaced, but instead trumpeted about fixing a much smaller hanging culvert upstream as part of Plan B.  People communicated the concern -- it could have been incorporated into Plan B and some small good would have resulted for the fish and other aquatic life; TIR ignored the concerns, or shrugged that it was very low on the list of culverts needing replacing.

Here is what the culvert flow looks like where the Crawford's Stream and Brook meet and attempt to go under the old TCH culvert:

April 16th, 2014, at the old TCH in Churchill: The two swirling eddies show the lack of progress of water under the double culvert.

And a map from the past:
An old and busy map of culverts near the West River. The blue-labeled culvert with the yellow circle is the one badly needing replacing.  The little footbridge in Bonshaw that was swept away was far left in map.

Todd Dupuis, of UPEI and the Atlantic Salmon Federation, has been named to the newly created position of Assistant Deputy Minister of the Environment.  Todd was vociferous in his opposition to the lifting of the moratorium on high capacity wells for agriculture, and clearly explained the concerns with the flimsy studies and slack interpretation that the Department of Environment used to write its 2013 Water Extraction Policy.

For the past year and a half, Todd has been serving as co-chair of the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee, and in that and other work has spent time with various government people.  Let's hope he brings much to them.

Good to know that one of our most eminent biologists makes the effort to write, and with such gravitas:

Soil fumigant kills everything - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on April 15, 2014

I understand that there are to be tests of the soil fumigant Chloropicrin in western P.E.I. I am sure that the tests will be well managed, as Chloropicrin is a dangerous chemical, used as a weapon in Word War I. My concern is not with tests, but with the possible future use of soil fumigation on more extensive acreages on the Island.

Fumigation kills almost everything in the soil, not just pests. It changes the extremely complex topsoil into an inert substance that I can only call ʻnot-soil.ʼ It reduces species diversity to a tiny fraction of that found in well-managed topsoil. This topsoil, which takes hundreds of years to form, can be extinguished in a day. Is it necessary to sacrifice our soil to produce large, attractive and tasteless strawberries, following the California approach?

I am quite aware that farmers, in order to produce a crop, are in a constant battle with pests. While there have been successes, there have also been well-known failures, such as in the widespread use of DDT (or again in warfare) Agent Orange. I think that the lesson is to be extremely careful with the use of synthetic chemicals, not only for human safety but also for ecosystems in total.

There are many thousands of kinds of living things in soil. I firmly believe that there are good biological reasons for such diversity, and that we should be aware and appreciative of such complexity. As my hero Aldo Leopold once said: “To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”

Ian MacQuarrie, Hazelgrove

Aldo Leopold was an early 20th century American writer and environmentalist from Iowa.
An biographical sketch of Aldo Leopold.
Wikipedia entry on Aldo Leopold.

CBC and The Guardian had stories on how bumpy Plan B is earlier this week.  Minister Vessey said he "expected it," which is what engineer Steven Yeo said when asked the same thing early in the New Year.  I think they should tell us if they are expecting anything else!  The Minister assures that after the final coat (late June, likely), there will be no other problems.  We can quote him on that.

You can still vote for the Atlantic Region's worst road.  TCH New Haven (Plan B) is number 10.

April 16, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Too much melting yesterday on Plan B.  Spring is great, but a lot of water rushing.

Cindy Richards' 1 minute documenting of sediment into Crawford's Brook from this week.  The dedicated environmental employee has been at the sites and let us know early yesterday that Transportation was coming out to assess the areas and dig out the ditch by the culvert bore under Plan B just east of the Plan B/Riverdale Road intersection, which seems to be the root of the problem (well, there are other roots of the whole problem!).  I was out in the early afternoon and didn't notice any work being done by that point to address the worst situation in at the Crawfords' former backyard.  Today's rain is not going to help.

Richard Raiswell's 4-minute CBC Radio Mainstreet's political commentary from Monday on Premier Ghiz's bill to change the Order of PEI requirements is here.
(It is the first choice on the page.  There is a 40second intro that you could skip through.)

Raiswell reminds listeners that the Premier blithely said that to give the Order of PEI when he felt like it, he would just introduce legislation to allow him to do that. 

Here is an annotated screen shot of a page of Bill No. 40, tabled for first reading in the PEI Legislature on April 8th, 2014.  (It doesn't say when it will be discussed at second reading.)

from Legislative Assembly page "Progress of Bills" -- click on Bill No. 40

The existing Act is found on this page, by clicking: "Provincial Emblems and Honours Act".  The original Act was instituted in 1996 and the most recent version is dated November 2003.

Note that the new bill doesn't go back and authenticate what the Premier did at the post-Olympic party, so presumably the deserving Miss Moyse has been nominated in the regular fashion.

But Bill No. 40 will insist on not less that three awards, and to be given any time during the year;  this is a huge change to the spirit of the Order of PEI.  To paraphrase Mr. Raiswell, it's all about the vanity of the Premier, cashing on other people's achievements. 

Will any of his Caucus say that?  Are they hearing from their constituents, now the bill has been introduced?  Will the Opposition speak against it?  If so, they would likely be brushed as not giving proper honour to deserving people.  And eventually the Opposition might make up government and want the changes so they could have the photo-op-abilities?? 

It might be worth contacting your MLA is you have concerns on this.  A contact list is here.

April 15, 2014

Dana Jeffery's Environmental Report

Video at: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151992536276851&set=o.220834614673617&type=2&theater

Larry Cosgrave's Environmental Report - Facebook

Plenty of sediment-rich water flowing into West River and tributaries today from plan B and other sources: roads, ditches, farmlands - good luck aquatic creatures! And was opening day of Fishing season - does anyone know how fish find food when it is muddy water? — with Daneb Jeffrey at Churchill PEI.

Video at: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10153993405210705&set=o.220834614673617&type=2&theater

Monitoring the monitor! erosion/siltation at old Fairyland site


Gulley formation but springs flowing out 1/2 way down them


We sit on guardrail for thee!


Chris Ortenburger's Update

“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions,
and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”
--Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry (b. 1934) is an American writer and farmer, focusing on ideas, nature, pretty much everything.  He lives in Kentucky.  The PEI public library has two of his novels and one book of essays, and he contributes to the Tememos Academy Journal, a publication from Great Britain sponsored in part by Prince Charles.
Link to information about Tememos Journal

Food and farming today:

The Food Security Network AGM today, 4PM-5:30PM, Farm Centre

And an article in The Guardian, nicely written, and with a lovely photo of keynote speaker Sally Bernard and her husband Mark:

Role of family farms topic of meeting in Charlottetown - The Guardian article

Published on April 14, 2014

The central role that family farms play in feeding the world will be the subject of a meeting hosted
by the P.E.I. Food Security Network on Tuesday, April 15, at the Farm Centre in Charlottetown.

The event will feature a keynote presentation by Island farmer Sally Bernard, a presentation about community gardens and the screening of a short documentary.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has chosen 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming. It has been estimated there are 500 million family farms worldwide, and that they produce almost 60 per cent of the worldʼs food.

Bernard farms with her partner, Mark, in Freetown. Their farm, Barnyard Organics, is a certified organic farm begun in 2003, where a vision for a self-sustaining and environmentally sustainable farm continues to be the goal.

The meeting will also feature a presentation by Adam MacLean, about the Farm Centre's legacy community garden project.
And at the close of the meeting, there will be a screening of Mille Clarkesʼ documentary Island Green, a film that explores organic food production and its hope for the future in Prince Edward Island.

Tuesdayʼs meeting will run from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Farm Centre, which is located at 420 University Ave.

And at 7PM at the Farm Centre, an info session about CSAs by RJR Farms.

Our effects on the land:

Pesticide Free PEI meeting, 7PM, Sobeys Community Room in Stratford, tonight

And at Plan B yesterday,
an inch of rain really exposed the ugly things underneath the snow, most notably the mesa "storage area" of unwanted shale and rocks  in a backyard of the old Crawford property by Peter's Road:

Sediment and water gushes down into Crawford's Stream, downstream of the box culverts; in the fog, Monday afternoon, April 14th, 2014.

A Department of Environment person was out yesterday, and apparently Transportation will be out to look at the situation today and decide what they can do.

The Legislature sits at 2PM to 5PM, and 5-7PM.  After the usual welcomes and questions, they are likely to be focusing on the submitted budget ("the estimates") by departments, currently in the Department of Health and Wellness.
Live coverage here (follow links)
They will sit tomorrow afternoon then be off until next Tuesday for the Easter holidays.

April 14, 2014

Cindy Richards' Environmental Report - Facebook

Plan B below boxes at Crawfords Brook

Video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8HoC2dHY3o&feature=youtu.be

Chris Ortenburger's Update

This interesting article, from The Nature Conservancy science blog, describes the reason Monarchs are in a terrible downward spiral, why this likely is, why this is important, and what you can do about it.

from page 14 of the Prince Edward Island -- 2014 Budget Address

<<As a result of the report from The Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee, we will be establishing the Province’s first wilderness park, which will provide educational and recreational opportunities for Islanders. To further stimulate interest, we will be conducting a park naming contest, with participation from school-age children.>>

And likely have special guests dedicate it....perhaps in May.

gild   (gĭld)

tr.v. gild·ed or gilt (gĭlt), gild·ing, gilds

1. To cover with or as if with a thin layer of gold.

2. To give an often deceptively attractive or improved appearance to.

There are a few events coming up this week:
Tonight is a Citizens' Alliance planning meeting, 6PM, at the Bonshaw Community Centre, and you are most welcome to attend, especially if you would like to be involved in the organization.
It will be over supper time, so please bring an easy snack to share.
Some of the topics we'll be discussing are monitoring Plan B during the spring melt and rains, what's going on with the high capacity well moratorium, and other issues related to environment and democracy.

Tuesday, April 15th,  is the Food Security AGM at 4PM at the Farm Centre,
7PM both a CSA information session by RJR Farm at the Farm Centre
and a Pesticide Free PEI meeting at 7PM in Stratford

Wednesday, April 16th, is Green Drinks after 7PM at the Olde Triangle Pub

(I may have some times from but will correct tomorrow if needed.)

April 13, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Not news we want to hear, really, but what we suspected:

Oil and gas sector now Canada's biggest generator of greenhouse gases -The Guardian article

Published on April 12, 2014 TORONTO - An environmental analyst says a new report revealing that oil and gas production has become the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions adds further weight to calls for Ottawa to regulate the sector.

An Environment Canada summary report released quietly Friday shows that energy production has now surpassed the transportation sector as the largest generator of the climate-change causing gases.

Analyst P.J. Partington with eco think tank the Pembina Institute says the change further underlines the need for the Harper government to bring in long-delayed regulations for the oil patch.

The report covers the period from 1990 to 2012, and states that crude oil production and the oilsands were behind the energy sector's 70 per cent emissions jump in that time span.

Oil and gas is now responsible for one-quarter of Canada's greenhouse emissions, narrowly edging out transportation, while reductions in electricity and manufacturing cut overall emissions by under one per cent between 2011 and 2012.

The report shows that Canada's emissions have dropped five per sent since 2005, meaning the country still remains far off from meeting its Copenhagen accord commitment of a 17 per cent reduction by 2020.

From Bradley Walters in New Brunswick (and I think I posted the YouTube from Mark Jacobson a while back, but worth the time on a Sunday to see it again):

Solutions Project: Achieving 100% renewable energy by 2050

This ambitious proposal developed by Standford University Engineering Professor, Dr. Mark Jacobson, is getting lots of attention. If this is doable in the US, it is certainly doable in Canada given our greater renewable resource potential and smaller population size.

Here is a link to Jacobson's Solutions Project.  

Here is YouTube (12 min.) of Professor Jacobson presenting on the study:

And instead of bemoaning that PEI don't have fossil fuels to supposedly provide revenue (not mentioning anyone in particular), let's look at working towards the Don't Frack PEI motto of -- "Wind, Water, Sun -- Energy for the Long Run". 


April 12, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

As it is Saturday, many of us will be out getting food.
How they measure local food access in the States:
Ecowatch sent around a story this week on ranking each of the United States on their local foods accessibility index. Very interesting!

There is a "Lentil Soup and 'How to' Gardening Workshop" from 1:30PM until 6PM at the Upper Room Soup Kitchen, 101 Prince Street, Charlottetown

And Tuesday you could just hang out at the Farm Centre:
The Food Security Network is having its AGM at 4PM, with a short meeting, keynote talk by organic farmer Sally Bernard, and screening of the 30 minute documentary Island Green.

RJR CSA Information Session, Tuesday, April 15th, 7PM, Farm Centre

"RJR 100 Acre Farm will be holding a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) information meeting April 15th, 7pm at the Farm Centre, University Avenue, Charlottetown.

You are invited by RJR 100 Acre Farm, to discover how you can receive flavourful, fresh, locally grown food.

Learn how you can become a member or a sharer of a CSA and in the process contribute to local food security.

A CSA connects you to the land, your food and to the farm family that produces it. So, why not come out to an information session at the  Farm Centre April 15th, 7pm and learn how you can become a CSA sharer and support a local farm family in the process."

RJR 100 Acre Farm is run by Rita Jackson and James Rodd.  For more info call 892-8575 or write: csa@rjrfarm.ca

It is the time when farmers with CSAs are "booking" their shares, and if you are thinking of it, to help find one near you, contact the Cooper Institute - 894-4573, or the PEI Certified Organic Producers Co-op   http://organicpei.com/contact/ or any farmer with a CSA program.

Farmers' Markets in Charlottetown and Summerside are open today.

Guests for Victoria Day -- itinerary lists Charlottetown, Cornwall, and...Bonshaw....

Cornwall, as in "Duchess of", I can guess.  But Bonshaw?   I hope the Royal Limo has good suspension, someone quipped.  We'll see.

Prince Charles and Camilla to spend Victoria Day in P.E.I. - The Guardian article by Ryan Ross

Published on April 11, 2014

Victoria Day will have an added royal touch this year when Prince Charles and his wife Camilla visit the Island as part of their trip to Canada.

The official dates for the tour were announced Friday and the royal couple will be in P.E.I. (Monday) May 19 and (Tuesday) May 20th, which will include Victoria Day.

In a news release, Premier Robert Ghiz said the province was delighted to be included in the royal coupleʼs tour this year as P.E.I. celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference.

“The royal tour is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the history, natural beauty, vibrant culture and people of our province,” he said.

During their stop in P.E.I. the royals will visit Charlottetown, Bonshaw and Cornwall.

Islanders will have several opportunities to see Charles and Camilla, including Charlottetownʼs Victoria Day celebrations and fireworks.

Few other details about their trip to P.E.I. were released Friday, but their visit to the Island will fall between stops in Nova Scotia and Manitoba.

The couple will spend May 18 and 19 in Nova Scotia and May 20 and 21 in Winnipeg.

While in Nova Scotia the couple will have an official welcome to Canada at the Grand Parade in Halifax on May 19.
In Manitoba they will visit Assiniboine Park and the provincial legislature.

Canadian Heritage Minister Shelly Glover announced the tour dates and in a news release she invited Canadians to join in the royal tour celebrations.

“The 2014 Royal Tour of their royal highnesses will not only highlight Canadaʼs achievements and our shared heritage, but will also look to the future of Canada and how we will continue together to build a country that is the envy of the world.”
Charles last visited P.E.I. in 1983 and it will be Camillaʼs first time in the province.

In 2011, the royal family was front and centre when William and Kate spent two days in P.E.I. as part of their first official visit to Canada after their marriage.

William and Kate crammed a lot of activity into their short visit, including a water bird training exercise in a Sea King helicopter and a dragon boat race on Dalvay Lake, along with a few public appearances that drew thousands of people.

Charles and Camilla were in Canada in May 2012 when they visited New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

April 11, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

It was rather funny that as I was heading out to chat with the man who assisted Horace Carver with the Commission on the Lands Protection Act, Minister Wes Sheridan was in the Legislature introducing for first reading Bill C-43, An Act to Amend the Prince Edward Island Lands Protection Act.  The papers were handed to Clerk of the Legislature Charles MacKay, who read the title, and Minister Sheridan (after throwing a furious silencing look at a Minister behind him who was joking to his neighbour) talked about the work of "the very esteemed Horace Carver," and that the Bill would "... bring forward a number of these changes that will be enacted this Spring."
Legislative Assembly Video Archives page
About 80 minutes into the first broadcast for April 10th.
That was all for the day.

I had put describing the Commissioner's report in a pedantic fashion on hold when I got totally befuddled by the recommendations regarding the "Land Identification Agreement (LIA)."  While I kind of understand it now (a way to tag land to keep it from further subdivision/development, but it's a land use issue, truly), I'll switch gears and talk about what recommendations are in this Bill C-43 (it sounds like recommendations 1,2,3,6,12,24 and 26 are covered in this Bill, if you want to get out your scorecard); hopefully before it goes to "second reading." 

As of this morning, the Bill hasn't been put up on the Legislative Assembly's treasure trove of a website, but George Webster's $38 in-room movie bill has already been put with all Tabled Documents here.

The Legislature sits from 10AM to 1PM, (follow choices for "Watch Live")
Legislative Assembly live video page


Tonight, Dr. Magnificent's Traveling Medicine Show, Milton Community Hall, 7:30PM, $15 in advance, $17 at door (For advance tickets call 902 566-3154 or visit www.miltoncommunityhall.ca)

Saturday, April 12, 2PM: Seniors Active Living Centre, Cari complex, UPEI ( for advance tickets call 902 628-8388)

Owl Prowls at MacPhail Woods
from Gary Schneider: "Come celebrate the wonderful world of owls with the first of three Owl Prowls at the Macphail Homestead in Orwell on Saturday, April 12.  The Sir Andrew Macphail Foundation will be opening up the Great Room of the Homestead at 6:30pm and serve light refreshments.  There will be no cost but donations to the Foundation will be gratefully accepted. Then at 7:30pm, the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project is holding its first Owl Prowl of the season at the Nature Centre.  There will be a second owl prowl held on April 18 and a third on April 19, but visitors are asked to only attend one of these events.  There is no admission for the workshop and everyone is welcome.  This is a very popular event and visitors are advised to come early as seating in the Nature Centre is limited.  For more information on this or upcoming tours and workshops, please contact Gary Schneider at 651-2575, visit the website (www.macphailwoods.org) or find us on Facebook.        "          

Tuesday, April 15th, Food Security AGM,withIslandGreenscreening, 4PM, Farm Centre

Tuesday, April 12th, Pesticide Free PEI meeting,7PM(I think), Sobey's in Stratford

April 10, 2014

Cindy Richards' Environmental Report - Facebook

Dec 4 2013 will help us understand what is happening April 9 2014

Video at: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10154003784555557&set=o.220834614673617&type=2&theater

Dana Jeffery's Environmental Report - Facebook

Video at:  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151981173071851&set=o.220834614673617&type=2&theater

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Water and Plan B -- too much coursing over too much exposed land.

While yesterday morning things weren't so bad, but by the end of the day, lots of sediment flowing specifically from Plan B into the West River by the footbridge in Bonshaw, the old highway by Strathgartney Park, and by the box culverts at Crawford's Brook; the last being from what was once the woodsy backyard of the old Crawford property, now a mesa of dumped shale.

Footbridge in Bonshaw, Wednesday evening (April 9, 2014), photo by environmental monitor Cindy Richards

A huge thank-you to the environmental monitors who have been out despite other employment and family responsibilities.
Water and groundwater:

When the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry tabled a report to the House last Friday, many of us were relieved that they had several recommendations, including:

2. Your committee strongly recommends that Government develop a Water Act.
3. At the present time, your committee does not recommend any changes to the 2002 moratorium on new high capacity wells for agricultural irrigation.
Your committee wishes to continue its investigations into this matter, including hearing from the witnesses that were prevented from appearing due to bad weather, and additional individuals and organizations that have expressed interest. This has proven to be a complex issue and your committee does not wish to make recommendations prematurely. Witnesses to date have made compelling arguments both for and against the lifting of the moratorium, and your committee continues to consider these very carefully. The interest of so many individuals and groups and the capacity attendance at committee meetings to date speak to how important this issue, and water in general, is to Islanders. Your committee’s work is not done on this issue.  The report can be found on this page.

Yesterday's Guardian, sometime giving you editorial waffles with your breakfast, has the temerity to chastise the Standing Committee for not being decisive.
(italics and bolding are mine)

Committee opts to delay decision on deep-water wells - The Guardian Lead Editorial

Published on April 09, 2014

Recommendation to keep moratorium in place shirks responsibility on issue

The recommendation from a legislature standing committee that the moratorium on deep-water wells should remain in place while further investigation and public hearings continue, leaves more questions than answers. The key issue remains unresolved and the committee seems befuddled on what to do next.
The request from the P.E.I. Potato Board to lift the 10-year moratorium on deep-water wells has resulted in months of intense debate, letter writing and opinion submissions. The committee held lengthy hearings where individuals and groups, both for and against, were passionate in presenting viewpoints and arguments.

But there is no information from the committee about additional hearings. There is no timeline for an answer. Such an important question requires action or at least a plan. Instead, the committee presented a stopgap recommendation. It seems the committee is anxious to put the controversial question aside and is reluctant to deal with the issue.

If the committee cannot produce an answer, then perhaps itʼs time to assemble an independent commission to review submissions, analyze the best data available and deliver a scientifically supported recommendation.

Members of the public had packed the committee hearings in almost unprecedented numbers. They want an answer as well. Instead the committee is suggesting that government develop a Water Act. Such legislation is long overdue, but also raises the questions: Will this further delay an answer on wells or is this a completely separate issue? A Water Act should give direction on how we use and protect our water supply but it could also derail the whole deep-water well issue for a year or even longer.

At some point, we have to make a decision and it better be the right one. If the issue is too complex for committee members to handle, let the science talk. Is there sufficient groundwater to supply additional deep-water wells and is there sufficient recharge to replenish the water used? Environment data indicates the answers to both are yes. Many have called for a review of that data. An independent commission can provide that.
The kind reader will overlook that a professional publication did not remember that "data" is plural, but the logic behind their argument is weak and looks a bit biased.  Many presenters clearly pointed out that the Department of Environment's declaration that there is sufficient recharge is based on flawed interpretation of incomplete research.   Why are they in such a rush?  The Committee never said it couldn't reach a decision; it said its work is not done.   The demand that the moratorium be lifted exactly duplicates language from someone on the Potato Board in one of the first articles about this issue.

The editorial does recommend an independent commission, which could look at the wells issue and concept of a sustainable water act.

Here is another commentary on the subject:

Green Party calls for Public Commission of Inquiry on Water Resources - Facebook

(from a Facebook posting April 9, 2014)

With the release of the standing committee’s report on high-capacity wells on Friday, there was a deep sense of relief felt by the huge number of Islanders who had expressed concerns about the potential lifting of the moratorium.

“A great number of people and organisations had spent hundreds of hours compiling submissions to the standing committee telling them that we have insufficient information to make a decision with potentially profound and irreversible outcomes,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island. “I am relieved and pleased that the committee has recommended to maintain the moratorium at this time. The wording of the report, however suggests that when the submissions which were postponed by the recent storms are heard, a different recommendation could be made.”

A less ambiguous recommendation from the committee was that the government develop a Water Act for Prince Edward Island. The Green Party and some other groups specifically called for this in their presentations to the committee, and are delighted that this has been recommended so forcefully in the report.

“An obvious first step towards this end would be a Public Commission of Inquiry, to assess research already done, consult with Islanders in their communities from tip to tip, call expert witnesses and perhaps advocate for more research to be done,” continued Bevan-Baker. “We have had Royal Commissions on land ownership and use but never a comparable one on water resources. Its findings would be used to inform the Water Act, which would include a water policy for the Island. Such a process would provide invaluable information not only for a fully informed decision on such issues as high-capacity wells, but to guide us in how to protect the quality and quantity of this precious and irreplaceable resource into the future.”

Bevan-Baker suggests that Nova Scotia’s “Water for Life” act could be a useful template from which PEI could start the work to develop our own Water Act, which would be unique and tailored to our particular geological and hydrological situation.

The high capacity well issue was featured in the most recent (March 31, 2014) magazine called Water Canada, which is described as
"The Complete Water Magazine...Water Canada is an influencer, a networker, and a newsmaker. Our editors and researchers know the industry. More importantly, we know the people implementing plans and projects on the frontlines.  Thousands of readers turn to Water Canada for exclusive, insightful content that speaks to Canada’s water expertise, connects the country’s decision-makers, and promotes better water management and stewardship of our most important natural resource."


A pretty good take on the issue, which perhaps The Guardian editors should read, especially the last paragraph:

Hot Potato - Water Canada magazine article by Rachel Phan

"Environment Minister Janice Sherry has said the provincial government will not make a decision on deep-well irrigation and the moratorium will not be lifted until there is further proof that such practices would not diminish the quantity or quality of Prince Edward Island’s groundwater."

April 9, 2014

Cindy Richards' Environmental Report - Facebook

Problems will only exist until the grass grows they say.. doesnt look like the hydroseed worked well


The deep snow in ditches helps to cover up the problems, water rushes under the snow to resurface further down in Strathgartney park waterway


A familiar sight red running into the Bonshaw River at footbridge from an overwhelmed silt pond above along plan b, it keeps happening so I guess they can say they expected this too


Video: April 9 2014, flowing from plan b into the bonshaw river at foot bridge at: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10154002455290557&set=o.220834614673617&type=2&theater

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Yesterday afternoon mitigation breaches were already taking place along parts of Plan B -- no surprise, just sooner than other sources of sediment in the river (fields, clay roads).

Arrows show sediment-rich water running down from the slopes and ditches of Plan B (to the right of this photo) beyond the sediment pond (worked on Monday) flowing into Crawford's Stream. The picture was taken from the edge of Plan B, over the guard rail, down over 40 feet into Hemlock Grove. Tuesday, April 8, 2014, about 4:30PM.

We'll have more photos later today, likely.

It's been a confusing couple of weeks with the snow days and all, but CBC Compass showed footage of the parked excavator that was working Monday evening and said that an official with Transportation said they were getting work done along Plan B today Tuesday.  They showed a close-up of a trickle of beautiful running clear water.  About 6:45 into the broadcast.
Compass link from Tuesday night

A note before the exhibit is over!  The Seniors' College Art Exhibit is at the Arts Guild daily from noon until 6PM Saturday.  A fantastic collection from fantastic people, including Marion Copleston of Bonshaw.

Regarding the Legislature:

Monday, Mainstreet political columnist Richard Raiswell had a commentary on the Auditor General's critique of government bookkeeping, and what's not being done:

NDP Leader Mike Redmond listed misses and problems with the budget, thoroughly and accurately:

Budget Blog-Highlights or Lowlights - NDP Leader Mike Redmond

There are moments in our life when one wishes that they had just stayed in bed. Well today was certainly one of those days. The NDP PEI team attended the budget lockup this afternoon at the Confederation Centre, and we left disappointed and frustrated with the government’s lack of understanding and commitment to all Islanders. Has this government become so arrogant they simply do not understand that our communities are dying and people are going hungry?

The Ghiz Government took great pride in announcing a new "Eye See, Eye Learn" program which will provide free eye exams and glasses for eligible kindergarten children. They took great pleasure in announcing the completion of the Confederation Trail on PEI, their wonderful effort to create jobs, while celebrating our employment average of 74,100 which is an all-time high. They never did tell us what wages are paid for the call centre jobs they created. They announced funding for insulin pumps to children, but if you are an adult, you’re out of luck.

Social assistance food rates were increased by 5% in January 2014 for single clients, but not for families depending on social service payments. The budget indicates that there is a five-year plan to increase food rates for all social services clients which will be implemented beginning in the next year.

This government has also completely ignored the environment again; no water policy, no plans for public transportation, no increase in funding for municipalities.

Our eighth consecutive deficit budget, by a government that has given themselves a 4% raise in one year (all Conservative and Liberal members), and kept their gold plated pensions, completely unfunded. This government has been an abject failure on the social action plan and the Minister responsible should be embarrassed to stand behind this sad document. No affordable/social housing plan, no plan to address food insecurity, no more funding for addictions or mental health. Those in our society who are the most vulnerable are completely forgotten by the Ghiz Government.

A balanced budget is promised in 2015/16, co-incidentally an election year. To our amazement the Ghiz Government is now taking credit for philanthropic donations and federal funding, WOW! Did they happen to mention that we have the highest unemployment rate in Canada and that for every 1 job, 20 Islanders are applying to fill it?

The Ghiz Government is balancing the budget on the backs of retired Islanders. Over 500 million dollars in cuts to public service retirees pensions; 150 million to retired teachers alone. Not done yet, The Ghiz Government has also reversed the last payer plan for medical insurance plans, meaning that the insurance companies are now the first payer. Does that mean that retired public servants will now pay double their monthly insurance fees, anywhere from $300.00 to $600.00 per month? Along with cuts to education, teaching positions, nurses and continued health care cuts our government is failing each and every Islander.

But wait, and here is my favourite. The Ghiz Government has announced they will further stimulate interest in the new wilderness park by conducting a park naming contest. How about "The Plan B Park" ? "B" as in Buffalo; as the people of this province have been buffaloed by the Ghiz Government.

I had not heard about the contest to name the park of land leftover from and very near to Plan B, the one referred to as the...umm... "wilderness" park. 

In the Legislature yesterday, before the budget was introduced and during Question Period, PC MLA from Souris-Elmira Colin LaVie was asking about high energy costs.

The Premier responded with rhetoric seemingly annoyed about our Island's lack of resources (regarding, of course, nothing but fossil fuels), and pretty much taunting LaVie with questions that if he thinks there are resources in his district, he could have fracking take place and have energy security:  "Come see me about any proposal about fracking you may have." (I am paraphrasing and the Assembly link is down this morning for maintenance so I can't verify exactly what he said.)

I am not sure what kind of message he was sending.  It sounded loud and mean and indicated if there were tax revenues to be make on fracking, he would go for it.

I think the Leaders of the Island Political Parties need to state (or restate) their policy regarding fracking in PEI -- a simple "for it" or "never", please.

April 8, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

One of the sediment ponds along Plan B had a wall blowout Monday due to the melting snow and flow of the cut-into springs.  It was along the northern part, east of the arches at Crawford's Stream (Hemlock Grove), across from Eric's Crossroad. TIR apparently noticed it and got a crew in with a "long-reach" excavator and a dump truck of gravel.  Close to 6PM last night, the driver rebuilt the wall so clearer water crosses over and the more sediment-dense water stays in the pond. That is the idea.

An older map (from November 2013), labeling previous sediment flow (the black arrows).  Yesterday's incident is at the area with the yellow circle.  The small yellow squiggle is Eric's Crossroad, connecting to the old TCH.

Fixing a sediment pond, corner of Plan B and Eric's Crossroad, April 7th, 2014.

Excavator dumping rocks into breach in retaining wall, April 7th, 2014.

We'll hope forecast holds for not too much rain in the next day, both for Plan B and for people's basements.

Today the Provincial Budget is introduced, starting at 2PM.  Shoes, bombast, and a document that bears close scrutiny.
The website is http://www.assembly.pe.ca/ if you wish to watch it live (the afternoon session goes from 2-5PM, and returns from 7-9PM today).

Tonight is the Leadnow Connect meeting at 7PM at the Haviland Club in Charlottetown. 

Tomorrow, if you live in the Cornwall area, or just like to keep up with watershed news and see a great presentation:
Cornwall Watershed AGM, Wednesday, April 9th, 6-8PM, Cornwall Town Hall (next to the APM Centre). 
Cornwall and Area Watershed Group (CAWG) website
"Join us on Wednesday, April 9th, from 6-8PM, at the Cornwall Town Hall Boardroom.  Snacks and tea/coffee to be served and presentations by Rosie MacFarlane, a PEI Biologist, by Cornwall Water and Utilities and CAWG members."  All are welcome!
It's a dynamic watershed group (Hyde Creek is the waterway) led by Executive Director/Watershed Coordinator Karalee McAskill.  CAWG is part of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water.

Randall Affleck of Lower Bedeque, another extremely hard working member of the National Farmers' Union, comments on the Conservative government's Agriculture Growth Act, Bill C-18, bold is mine:

Changes to agricultural legislation patently absurd - The Guardian Commentary by Randall Affleck

Published on April 07, 2014

The Agricultural Growth Act, Bill C-18, is currently before Parliament. It is an omnibus bill amending nine separate pieces of agricultural legislation. The changes vastly increase corporate control of seed and will result in higher seed costs for farmers in the future.

The Plant Breedersʼ Rights Act (PBRA), adopted in 1990, confers to a breeder of a new plant variety, a form of intellectual property rights similar to a patent. The Plant Breedersʼ Rights Office receives between 300 to 400 applications per year with about 100 coming from Canada. This office has no role in enforcement of a breedersʼ right once granted. It is up to the rights holder to pursue infringements through the court system.

The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) is an international Convention of which Canada is a member state and signatory. The purpose of UPOV Convention is to standardize criteria, definitions, legislation and regulations as they apply to plant breedersʼ rights among member states. Canadaʼs current PBRA is based on the 1978 UPOV version which implicitly recognizes that a farmer may use part of their harvest for seed. The 1991 UPOV version gives extensive and exclusive rights to plant breeders so that their authorization is required for farmers to use harvested material as seed. In order to ratify the UPOVʼ91 Convention, Canada has to amend the 1990 PBRA. This is exactly what Bill C-18 does.

At present, a PBR holder only has the exclusive right to produce and sell seed. The proposed amendments grant PBR holders the exclusive right to produce and reproduce, condition, sell, export or import, and to stock propagating material for 20 years (to “condition” means to clean and/or treat seed and to “stock” means to bag or store seed). This is a significant expansion of intellectual property protection and expands the legal avenues for seed companies to pursue royalties. Further, the ability to collect end-point royalties on the whole crop following harvest if not previously collected on the seed would be permitted with these changes. These powers would only apply to varieties introduced after the new Act comes into force. Existing varieties would continue to be subject to the UPOVʼ78 rules and conditions.

To save, reuse, select, exchange and sell seeds is a traditional practice and an inalienable right of farmers. Government is proposing a “farmersʼ privilege” section in this legislation. They claim that this provides an exception to PBR-holdersʼ exclusive rights to reproduce and condition seed. This government-given privilege allows farmers to save and condition seed, but notably absent is the ability to stock the seed. Whatʼs more, the power to limit the farmersʼ privilege provisions in the future through regulations is also included in Bill C-18. What is being proposed is truly a hollow privilege for farmers. The big print giveth and the small print taketh away.

Canadaʼs variety registration process is an important part of this story. Older varieties can be used by farmers without payment of royalties and effectively ensure market discipline on PBR varieties as a lower priced option for farmers. In May 2013, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) proposed a regulatory change that would allow variety registrants, who are often also PBR holders, to withdraw varieties on demand, without criteria or reasons and no mechanism for another entity to take over responsibility for an abandoned variety so that farmers can continue using it.

The Canada – EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which the Government of Canada recently agreed to in principle, would expand the enforcement powers of PBR holders. While the text has yet to be released to the public, the National Farmers Union has studied the leaked draft text of this agreement. CETA would permit the precautionary seizure of a farmerʼs assets upon alleged intellectual property rights infringement. Further, the same asset seizure powers could also apply to a third party, such as a seed cleaner, if alleged to be assisting patent infringement. If C-18 passes, these enforcement tools would become available to seed companies seeking to prosecute farmers for violating PBRA rules and regulations.

The primary purpose of the C-18 measures is to increase revenues for seed companies. Farmers will eventually be bound to yet another agri-business profit centre, this time via the seed. Litigation and the gradual de-registration of publicly available varieties will help persuade farmers to replace farm-saved seed with seed purchased from the company every year.

Farmers are being promised more variety research and development, and more innovative new varieties through this privatized system. However, farmers will simply end up paying more royalties with no say in how these funds would be used. Probably a reduced level of research on regionally appropriate varieties and less assurance that a registered variety can be expected to perform as claimed. Farmers can probably look forward to more correspondence from Sue, Grabbitt, and Runne LLP Barristers & Solicitors, along with additional forms to fill out on varieties planted, yield history and annual sales.
For more information about UPOV ʼ91 and Bill C-18 please visit http://www.nfu.ca/issues/save-our-seed

Randall Affleck of Lower Bedeque, is a national board member, National Farmers Union.

And he manages to slip in a joke while explaining a dismaying topic. The website offers suggestions for what you can do; simply e-mailing or writing your MP to express your opinion, or downloading a petition, etc.

Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan) <lawrence.macaulay@parl.gc.ca>
Sean Casey (Charlottetown)  <sean.casey@parl.gc.ca>
Wayne Easter (Malpeque) <wayne.easter@parl.gc.ca>
Gail Shea (Egmont) <gail.shea@parl.gc.ca>

What MPs are up to is documented here at the  OpenParliament website

April 7, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Maritime Connections, a Sunday afternoon CBC Radio show focusing on local issues, featured callers describing the "Worst Roads in the Maritimes" and apparently people called in about Plan B,
and yesterday's program is the first choice (April 6th)

and it is still on the CAA Worst Roads list, voting is here:

And while it is still Bumpy (a truck driver said, "Don't open your coffee until you get to DeSable!"), it's the melting snow on either side, in addition to any forecast of rain (as in tomorrow), that will sorely test the thin mulch over the bare slopes on the road cuts. 

Spring Melt and Rains and Plan B slopes
Cindy Richards, environmental monitor, and I met with two fellows from the Environment Department Friday, to go over Transportation's Plan for dealing with snow melt and rain.  It took quite a lot of nudging and repeated requests to get that Plan from TIR.  In the end, it's not much of a Plan, just that they will be on standby to assess run-off conditions and bring in the contractor (Island Coastal) for work if they deem necessary. Though the dedicated employee from the Environment Department (a requirement of Minister Sherry's conditional approval of Plan B) will check on things, there is a tacit agreement that volunteer monitoring is going to be relied on. 
Everything is getting a coat of hydroseeding as soon as things melt and dry out.  Perhaps by late June or July the slopes will be able to handle regular rains.

Tomorrow afternoon there is moderate rain forecast, so I am sure some volunteer environmental monitors will be out, and everyone is welcome to note conditions and let me know or post on the dear old Plan B facebook page.
Plan B facebook page link

A sediment pond last week, which drains into old Crosby Road, seen off Plan B in Bonshaw. A couple of event reminders for early this week:

Today is the last day I think to register for the Sunday afternoon (April 13th) workshop (2-4PM, Our Lady of Assumption Church in Stratford) for an afternoon workshop on "Two World Views: CETA and Pope Francis"
LAMP invites you to this workshop which will identify the motivation behind the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and contrast it to the Pope Francis' view of the world. Workshop participants will single out the consequences of both opposing views and identify appropriate action. Workshop leaders are Kevin Arsenault and Marie Burge
Call 894-5845 to register or email burgeirene@Hotmail.com


Tomorrow, Leadnow meeting, Tuesday, April 8th, 7PM, Haviland Club:

A Leadnow local information meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 8th, at the Haviland Club,7 pm. Leadnow is one Canada's largest national social activist organization that brings together generations of Canadians for progress through democracy. Leadnow was founded in 2010 by a group of young people who decided to focus their long-term efforts on strengthening Canada's democracy, doing their part to address climate change, and building a fair economy that reverses the trend of growing inequality. For more information go to www.leadnow.ca or call 626-4364.

April 6, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Spring Melt has started, fortunately fairly gently along Plan B, and I'll update tomorrow what plans the Department of Transportation has for dealing with run-off.

But it's Sunday and here is a lengthy description of a completely different issue, one involving a potential land development project with virtually no information willingly given to local residents, and people in government either simpering or clamming up.

It's a two-fold issue. One part was about land in Hampton appended (or added to another lot) and then peppered with mini-homes. 

Compass did a story on March 20, regarding the ruling and the concerns about property sales in nearby DeSable. The Compass article is here about 7 minutes into the broadcast. DeSable land sales

DeSable land sales - CBC Compass

The Guardian (copied below) focused on the IRAC ruling.

IRAC quashes Hampton development plans - The Guardian article by Jim Day

Published on March 22, 2014 

A successful appeal to IRAC by a cottage owner has quashed plans for commercial development in Hampton.

The Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission has allowed Gary McLure's appeal that quashes plans to renovate and relocate existing rental cottages and locate nine additional cottages in Hampton.

McLure argued there was no authority under the Planning Act or the regulations to append a lot.

He submitted that section 30 of the regulations would not apply to allow the subdivision to be rescinded as the developer is not the original owner.

McLure also submitted that there is nothing in the minister of Finance, Energy and Municipal Affairs' file to establish that an entranceway permit was issued by the minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

The appellant argued as well that the development permit would create a detrimental impact with respect to safety at the highway access point and with respect to surrounding land uses.

McLure also submitted that parking and drainage matters were not considered, and the minister's decisions reflect approval of a premature development with a lack of sound land use planning.

David Wu of Hampton Beach Resort Developments had told The Guardian in October big plans were in the works. He was eyeing development of almost 80 cottage units as well as looking at building a driving range and a nine-hole golf course.

Wu could not be reached Friday but McLure's successful appeal would appear to put an end to those development plans.

Mr. Gary McLure spelled things out very well in a commentary piece a few days later about his appeal to IRAC:
Gary McLure's commentary in The Guardian on April 2, 2014

IRAC decision in Hampton may have consequences for land use in P.E.I. - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on April 02, 2014

I want to explain why I appealed, and discuss the possible ramifications of my successful challenge of the decision made by the minister of finance, energy and municipal affairs to issue a development permit for the expansion of Blue Spruce Cottage rental business in Hampton on July 23, 2013, because of the perceived change of use of a lot from cottage use only to a commercial use. The permit was issued on the premise that the change of use of the lot was permissible under the provisions of the Planning Act and the subdivision and development regulations. This was not the case as ruled by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission in an order issued on March 17, 2014.

The approval was given by the minister, to append the existing summer cottage-use-only lot, to the larger commercial Blue Spruce property, thus changing the lotʼs use to commercial. This change allowed the developer to place eight rental mini homes on the area of the said lot.

The commission found that the designation of cottage use became concrete when the lot was first sold for the purpose intended and thus could not later be altered without a formal change of use process. The commission could not find any regulation that supported the ministerʼs position.

The authority to append must exist either in the planning act or the regulations in order to be lawful. In conclusion, the lot consolidation or appending process needs to be supported by the planning act and regulations. Accordingly the appending decision was quashed for lack of legal authority. Since the lot is only approved for summer cottage use only, the presence of eight commercial rental cottages is not permitted on such a lot and thus, the development permit was also quashed.

Since the minister has no legal authority under the planning act for the appending of property, then the question arises, as to the legality of all approvals given to append properties in the past. This may have consequences in respect to land use within the province. Property owners that have had approval for appending should be asking this question.

The commission also made several observations and recommendations, due to the facts presented by the appellants.

1. Raised concerns with the policies, directives and statutory tools, or lack thereof, given to those who just deal with applications on a day-to-day basis and appear on the ministerʼs behalf before the commission.

2. It was not made clear that all aspects of section (3) of the regulations were considered.
a) Detrimental impact on surrounding land use and safety at the highway access.
b) Premature development (sound planning)
c) Entranceways in respect to change of use of existing entranceways or creation of new entranceway. In respect to the requirement of the highway access regulations.
d) Other approvals under Land Protections Act, Road Act, where entranceway permit or approval required.

There was little evidence in the file that indicated that much attention was placed on section 3 of the regulations. The commission recommends that these provisions must be followed.

It had become evident during this appeal that approvals are given by the minister in cases where the highway access regulations are being ignored. I know of numerous approvals for developments that havenʼt taken this into account.

The government is putting itself into a libel position. If entranceway permits are not issued and registered with the deeds to the properties than access would be deemed illegal under the Road Act Regulations. These irregularities are being ignored by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure and they have the responsibility to enforce the highway access regulations.
People should be aware that if they are not within an area that has an official plan then they come under the provincial jurisdiction and this could happen to you. I site this case as an example.

It should also be noted that the minister has placed government in a position of legal action by both the developer and the appellant.

If people are interested and wish to read the decision go to the website www.irac.pe.ca, McLure versus Minister.

Gary McLure, of Crapaud, is the appellant who appealed the Blue Spruce property development permit issue to IRAC.

OK, a lot of work went into a private citizen having to point how government is not following its own rules.  What about what Compass mentioned about the DeSable side of things?

Many other properties in the area have been sold to the same pair of businessmen, or landowners approached to sell.  Not just the old pizza plant (formerly Little Christos, I believe), but many, many other properties in a crescent stretching from the Blue Spruce Cottages in Hampton up to the TCH and over to DeSable.  Nothing illegal in buying land, if the Lands Protection Act is followed, of course. But concerns for what the future holds. Rumours of potential plans range from a(nother) nine-hole golf course and theme park to very big ideas of an exclusive private resort.   I may have facts a bit muddled, but will continue:

This raises all sorts of issues:  what is planned for an environmentally sensitive area?  These communities are "unincorporated" and thus have no checks to any sort of development.  How can government know all these plans -- and there are lots of rumours that this development is just the tip of the iceberg -- and smile and say oh-how-they-wish they could tell the people who would be affected what is planned (and how long they have known about it?

The folks in this area, though they chose to live in a quiet part of the Island, are not knee-jerk anti-development; they want to hear what is planned and whether that is a good idea for their community as a whole, and be part of the discussion.  They would prefer government not allow the sale of their beautiful landscapes and sense of community right out from under their noses.

Residents have written and called local MLA Valerie Docherty and asked for more information, for a community meeting, and were told that it's a private business matter and when there would be "change of use" applications, there may be a public meeting; or likely when there is an Environmental Impact Assessment (for a major development qualifying for one).  As in so basically don't worry.  Unfortunately, after the Plan B experience, that is not reassuring at all.

Local residents have decided to have call a public information meeting for Wednesday, April 30th, 7PM, at Hampton Hall/Bites Cafe, at the corner of the TCH and Sandy Point Road in Hampton. MLA Valerie Docherty has been invited and has been asked to invite the developers and any other relevant government people.  Everyone is welcome, and is asked to pass the word.

I don't have a map of the properties already sold right now, but here is a map of the Island (from TIR's atlas), with the area in a green rectangle:

and a closeup of the area:

The former pizza place is just east of where the TCH crosses the DeSable River.
Old pizza plant with new name, in early April 2014,

And the name on the plant is:

which was listed as being at 18876 Trans Canada Highway, DeSable, PE C0B 1X0 and the
Incorporation Date as October 30, 2013, in Executive Council Order-in-Council.

Despite some unknown machinations going on, it is hopeful to see residents banding together for the good of their community, which can only improve life on PEI.

I hope your day is pleasant.  For something completely different than hidden land development plants, the PEI Symphony Orchestra plays at Zion Presbyterian Church at 2:30PM, and The Vinland Society talk is at 7:30 at the old Benevolent Irish Society Hall on North River Road. 

April 5, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A Friday in the provincial legislature was informative (the high capacity well issue) and parts just a bit bombastic (the HST accounting questions during Question Period).

MLA Paula Biggar, who is chairperson for the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry, tabled a report from her committee about its work and recommendations to the Legislature.

The committee said they strongly urge the moratorium on high capacity wells for agriculture not be lifted, as they want to let the last people present to them sometime after the House is done sitting (May?).  They also recommend that "Government develop a Water Act."

Select Friday, April 4th, and it is about 66 minutes into the broadcast.
Legislative Assembly Video Archives

3:50 into the broadcast
Compass TV News from Friday night

A few comments:
As someone posted on Facebook -- "Breathing room.  But no complacency." -- as a committee's recommendation is not binding, and though reported on CBC, I don't think it was the committee who was approached to lift the moratorium in the first place.

Here is a link to the Committee's report that was tabled (five pages).

The transcript of today's proceedings will be available here sometime early next week:


Do look at the whole five page report when you get a chance.  Note both the fact that Minister Webster is listed as having made a written submission, and the line in the report (bold is mine) shows that no final decision has been made is in bold here:

3. At the present time, your committee does not recommend any changes to the 2002 moratorium on new high capacity wells for agricultural irrigation.
Your committee wishes to continue its investigations into this matter, including hearing from the witnesses that were prevented from appearing due to bad weather, and additional individuals and organizations that have expressed interest. This has proven to be a complex issue and your committee does not wish to make recommendations prematurely. Witnesses to date have made compelling arguments both for and against the lifting of the moratorium, and your committee continues to consider these very carefully. The interest of so many individuals and groups and the capacity attendance at committee meetings to date speak to how important this issue, and water in general, is to Islanders. Your committee’s work is not done on this issue.

And it is likely there will be more ad-ucation from the Potato Board in the paper in the coming weeks...

But, overall, people taking notice of this issue, and coming to committee meetings, writing letters (which is key!), planning and attending public information events like the forum with Maude Barlow, and urging organizations to take a stand on this, and a group like the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water forming -- all make a huge difference for the future of this Island. 

Perhaps there is a change in the season.

Have a great day dealing with mud and slush, and consider buying some local food this weekend -- it is all part of the change.

April 4, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A Friday smile (kind of):

The Canadian Automobile Association has its Worst Road Contest each year...hmm, you might be able to think of a road on the Island.

If you may be thinking Plan B, which is labeled as TCH New Haven, PEI. (The TCH with Bonshaw in its title is west of the community.)
You are asked to choose a kid of "road problem" -- too bad "Bumpy" isn't a choice. Or "Outrageously Expensive."

Here is the home page, and someone mentioned that it wasn't working well yesterday.
CAA Worst Roads in Atlantic Region Home Page

(A Lot of) Events:

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 5th, 2:30PM, Community Garden Meet&Greet, and Garden Design Workshop, Farm Centre
Facebook events page
"Welcome to the Garden! Don't let winter get you down. Get ready for the spring! It is coming, I'm sure!
This gathering will bring together some of the fantastic people involved in the legacy garden project. Get to know your fellow community gardeners!
Tania Hupé Collins will be presenting a garden design workshop! Want to know what to do with your garden plot this coming season? Tania and our other garden mentors will be on hand to provide guidance....Light fare will be served."

Sunday, April 6th, 7:30PM, Irish Cultural Centre (BIS Hall),  Vinland Society of PEI Lecture: "A New Vinland Voyage" by Geoff Ralling
"Island sailor Geoff Ralling will talk about his plans to replicate the Viking voyages to Vinland this summer.
More than 1,000 years ago, Vikings sailed into the Gulf of St. Lawrence from their over-wintering camp at present-day L’Anse aux Meadows, at the tip of Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula.
Some details of the explorations of these first European visitors survive in the pages of the two Icelandic manuscripts known as the Vinland Sagas; and these descriptions resemble locations around the Gulf today, including Prince Edward Island. Much of what they saw from their longboats remains unchanged; thus a sailor in a small boat today can re-live much of what they experienced a millennium ago.
Geoff Ralling has explored the Gulf of St. Lawrence extensively over the past 20 years in his sailboat, Be Faithful 2. This summer he will again head north from PEI with L’Anse aux Meadows as his destination – then sail back to the Island. Conditions in the northern Gulf and the Straits of Belle Isle are challenging to the small boat sailor and must have been difficult for the Vikings also. Unfavourable winds, strong currents, very cold water, ice and fog all have to be faced. Geoff will talk about his plans to deal with these conditions and how the Viking ships may have fared in these waters.
Geoff will illustrate his presentation with photographs taken from the deck of Be Faithful 2 on his previous adventures."

Tuesday, April 8th, Haviland Club, Leadnow Connect gathering

"A Leadnow local information meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 8th, at the Haviland Club,7 pm. Leadnow is one Canada's largest national social activist organization that brings together generations of Canadians for progress through democracy. Leadnow was founded in 2010 by a group of young people who decided to focus their long-term efforts on strengthening Canada's democracy, doing their part to address climate change, and building a fair economy that reverses the trend of growing inequality.  For more information go to www.leadnow.ca or call 626-4364."

Sunday, April 13th, 2-4PM, Workshop: "Two World Views: CETA and Pope Francis", Our Lady of Assumption Parish Hall, Stratford
Facebook description for LAMP workshop
"LAMP invites you to this workshop which will identify the motivation behind the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and contrast it to the Pope Francis' view of the world. Workshop participants will single out the consequences of both opposing views and identify appropriate action. Workshop leaders are Kevin Arsenault and Marie Burge. Call 894-5845 to register or email burgeirene@Hotmail.com"
I think they would like registration by Monday, April 7th.

Monday, April 14th, 6PM, Citizens' Alliance "general" meeting/potluck, Bonshaw Community Centre
A regular meeting for anyone interested in helping plan Citizens' Alliance work.  What is happening at Plan B this spring, the high capacity well issue, the CA organizational work and future plans.  We meet while sharing easy dinner food.

Tuesday, April 15th, 4PM, Food Security Network AGM, Farm Centre
"The theme of our 2014 AGM is the International Year of the Family Farm - and why it's important. The business meeting will be as short as possible, to make more time for our guest speaker, Sally Bernard.  Sally farms with her partner Mark. Their farm, Barnyard Organics is a certified organic farm, begun in 2003, where a vision for a self-sustaining and environmentally sustainable farm continues to be the goal.
Adam MacLean will also speak about the Farm Centre's legacy community garden project.
And at the close of the meeting, there will be a screening of Mille Clarkes’ documentary Island Green
For more information, call Cooper Institute - 894-4573."

Tuesday, April 15th, 7PM in Stratford, next Pesticide Free PEI meeting

"With a new spraying season upon us and still no action from the government we have to continue to spread the word about how the majority of people feel about cosmetic pesticides on PEI." 

The Legislature sits from 10AM to 1PM today,
and of course there's lots of music today and this weekend.

April 3, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

News from various sources:

Brad Walters from New Brunswick usually gathers and sends media reports and other news about environmental issues in New Brunswick, most notably fracking. Yesterday he had a commentary in the Journal Telegraph -- sobering, and entirely applicable to our Island home.

Politicians Abandon Environment - Telegraph Journal Commentary By Brad Walters

(original title: “Corporate Conservatives”)
Published April 2, 2014

It is not unusual for elected governments to support industrial development in their jurisdictions. Conservative political parties, in particular, are more likely to champion big business, but this is not a hard-and-fast rule because pro-corporate policies can alienate the “populist”-wing of the party and voters that hew to populist sentiments.  What is unusual today is the degree to which conservative politicians — both in Canada and the United States — have become beholden to corporate interests, especially those in the oil and gas sector.

The United Nations Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just released its latest scientific assessment. Its findings are dire and an urgent call for action.  In fact, a large majority of the public in both Canada and the U.S. support government leadership on climate change.  But they are unlikely to get it from either Canadian Conservatives or their American, Republican-party counterparts, whose respective commitments to the oil and gas industry border on the scandalous.  It is not much exaggeration to suggest that the Harper Conservatives and the U.S. Republican Party have become the political front for the fossil fuel industry.

Closer to home, New Brunswick Conservatives have lately demonstrated a similar drift that extends deeper into the clutches of big industry.  For example, Premier Alward’s recent policy reversal on forestry is astonishing in the extent of its capitulation to industry interests. By sharply increasing the allocation of wood from already heavily cut public lands, the government has ignored not only the expressed wishes of the public (as measured by various opinion surveys) and the expert advice of many scientists, but also the past recommendations of   Brunswick Legislative Assembly’s own select committee on wood supply.

The Alward government’s unshakable support for shale gas development is even more troubling given the seriousness of the risks, and the evidence that supports such risks, and the fact that the corporate interests involved appear to have no long-term vested interest in the welfare of the Province and its people.  In fact, corporations rarely do have a vested interest, despite their spin to suggest otherwise. That the Minister of Energy now publicly disparages (almost daily) any and all critics of shale gas re-affirms where this government’s loyalties lie.  And yet, this same government insists it will protect the public interest from harm once the oil and gas multinationals get down to the risky business of drilling and fracking.  The minister will have to forgive the many New Brunswickers who view such assurances with skepticism.

One can debate and speculate whether the public interest is likely to be served in the long run by these unabashedly pro-corporate policies. I am inclined to think it is not.  Either way, this government’s complete disregard for current public interest is very disconcerting.  The government knows that the majority of New Brunswick citizens wants policy leadership on climate change, views a diverse forest and forest economy as desirable, and prefers a halt to further shale gas development (at least until the risks and benefits can be more truthfully assessed).

The government knows where public sentiments lie, but just doesn’t care.  Instead, bargains with industry are being struck behind closed doors without proper independent scrutiny or due consideration of the public interest. Perhaps it is time for the people of New Brunswick (and of Canada) to remind their governments who it is they really work for.

 DR. BRAD WALTERS is a professor of Geography & Environmental Studies at Mount Allison University.

If you are interested in being on Brad's list (1-4 e-mails per day), contact him at : bwalters@mta.ca

If you are interested in a daily news service regarding environmental issues, you could subscribe to "Eco-Watch" here:

and the homepage is here:
Thanks to Karlo and Hitrud Hengst for passing this along

And there is always The Guardian locally (bold mine):

P.E.I. needs proper land use - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on March 28, 2014

A U.S. government scientist warned in a report 15 years ago of a potential massive landslide near Arlington, Wash. However, Snohomish County officials permitted homes to be built in the area known as “Hazel Landslide,” which had a history of mudslides over the past 50 years.

The current county public works director and previous county officials should be held directly responsible for people killed in the recent landslide because they did not rezone the area and stop the building of new homes. They claim ignorance of the 15-year-old report but they knew the sloping area was very risky but took no action.

We have a similar problem on the Island because the P.E.I. government continues to ignore several excellent land use studies because they donʼt want to do proper zoning due to controversy with farmers. Thousands of subdivision lots have been approved without proper soil and water testing so we now have enough lots to do us for the next 100 years.

However, many of the subdivisions should be retested and removed from the market but the government is loath to do it because they are owned by party supporters and farmers. Land use planning and proper zoning is a specific responsibility of government; however, it is being ignored and avoided like the plague which is a disgrace and a cop-out.

David Steeves, Charlottetown

Tonight is the Heritage MEAL (Meet, Eat A Learn) at the Farm Centre, 6:30PM.  It's lots of locally-made appetizers, and with speakers on local food-related topics.  https://www.facebook.com/events/1391966857730912/
(You may have to cut and paste this link.)

April 2, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Legislature opens today, 2PM,

From the Legislative Assembly website:
"The Spring 2014 sitting of the Fourth Session of the Sixty-fourth General Assembly opens Wednesday, April 2, at 2:00 p.m. Visitors are always welcome to view the proceedings from the public gallery!"

The schedule is:




2:00pm - 5:00pm, 7:00pm - 9:00pm



2:00pm - 5:00pm



2:00pm - 5:00pm, 7:00pm - 9:00pm



10:00am - 1:00pm







You can tune in by going here, and following the prompts:

As often happens when storms have events postponed, tonight has two very interesting water issue events:

Already on the schedule for tonight is another interesting and welcoming NDP public policy forum on Island Fisheries, at Rodd Mill River Resort, 7-9PM.
from the Facebook events page:

NDP PEI Leader Michael Redmond is pleased to announce the latest in a series of Public Policy Forums to examine the challenges of Island Fisheries.

By hosting these gatherings, the NDP PEI hopes to ensure that its policies are well informed and relevant to the needs and aspirations of Islanders of all political views. Consequently, the forums are conducted in a non-partisan way, which allows people from all political stripes to participate and benefit.

This event is open to everybody. Forum organizers make a special effort to invite groups and individuals who have a particular interest in or knowledge of fisheries issues, in the hope that discussion will allow exploration of what is working well in the fishery, what needs improvement and how the long-term viability of this important part of our economy can be improved.

Several people have been invited to take part in a panel presentation at the beginning of the forum, and this will be followed by an open discussion involving all forum participants and the general public.

But the talk and monthly meeting from the NaturePEI got moved from last night:

NaturePEI monthly meeting, with guest speaker Mike van den Heuvel talking about Island streams and estuaries:
from the website:

Wednesday, April 2nd, 7:30 pm at Beaconsfield, the Carriage House, corner of West and Kent Streets.
The Effects of Human Inputs to Island Streams and Estuaries
Dr. Mike van den Heuvel of the Canadian Rivers Institute at UPEI does not have to look far in this Island Province to find something to study. He and his team of students have been dissecting the factors that are increasingly causing our estuaries to become anoxic and our streams choked with sediment, limiting healthy productivity in these ecosystems. He notes “The aquatic environment on, and surrounding PEI is not improving, it is getting worse. When I think of the "Green Island", I see mountains of sea lettuce in our estuaries. Damage to our tourism, fisheries and aquaculture industries is happening now, but it can be reversed if the public demands it." The effects of unsustainable land use on our streams, estuaries and coastal environment will be discussed in Mike van den Heuvel’s presentation, PEI's Dirty Secrets: Squandering our Greatest Resource at the upcoming April meeting of Nature PEI. It takes place on Wednesday, April 2nd, 7:30 pm at Beaconsfield, the Carriage House, corner of West and Kent Streets. Admission to the presentation is free and all are welcome Dr. Michael R. van den Heuvel is the Canada Research Chair in Watershed Ecological Integrity at the University of Prince Edward Island. He is an environmental biologist who has worked measuring toxic effects from pulp mills in New Zealand and Canada and oil sands-related aquatic reclamation projects in Alberta. Since moving to Prince Edward Island he has found ideal study sites to track ecological degradation in estuaries. He has been investigating not only the environmental damage caused by excessive nutrients, consequences of erosion on sediment in streams, and the impacts of a variety of contaminants, but also collaborating with end-users to define how we should monitor environmental health in our ecosystem.

Tony Lloyd's very understandable letter in yesterday's Guardian, with a headline perhaps indicating a laundry issue:

Shrinkage cause of many problems - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on March 31, 2014

We are told that the stream and river flows in P.E.I. are stable. Which begs the question: Where is the seven million cubic metres per year produced by the Winter River well fields coming from?

I was talking to friends in Covehead when someone said: “If you ask me the real problem is flushing. The land is not being flushed the way it was. Last year they had the longest plumb ever in Covehead Bay. It lasted a whole month. Brackley Bay is dead. Gone. The aquiculture is gone; itʼs no longer a commercial bay.” I asked, “What kind of plumb?” “Algae plumb. Anoxia.” was the reply.

In Nature magazine, April 18, 1996, an article appeared titled: An underground route for the water cycle; with subheading: Water flows from the land to the sea in rivers but there is evidence that a comparable amount may flow underground directly into coastal waters.

The research was done in South Carolina and the evidence is quantitative — based upon measurements of Radium, 88Ra226, with a half life of 1,620 years. The flow underground is called submarine groundwater discharge (SGD): estimates are 40 per cent SGD, 60 per cent surface discharge. The SGD acts as a climate regulator and provides temperature stability to coastal bays and estuaries: warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer. The SGD carries trace nutrients into and metabolic waste products out of the bays and estuaries.

Rain falling on land and entering the ground is called recharge. Recharge over the confined aquifer (CA) region of infiltration moves vertically downward until it's in the CA channel; whereas recharge over the CA region of exfiltration moves horizontally once it's in the saturated zone and forms the SGD. In short, SGD is flushing; SGD flushing our bays and estuaries.

We can reason by the missing ponds and bogs that the region of exfiltration has been shrinking, hence the SGD has been shrinking. This shrinkage is an expropriation of the SGD into the Winter River well fields and is the source of many problems in our North Shore fisheries.

Tony Lloyd, Mt. Stewart

April 1, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry finally just let "Winter" win and cancelled the Committee meeting that was scheduled for this morning.    I appreciate all that the clerk has done to communicate the changes, and I personally was looking forward to the update about the Lands Protection Act Commission from Commissioner Horace Carver, in addition to the presentations about the high capacity wells moratorium from diverse groups such as the PEI Potato Board, Cavendish Farms, and the Atlantic Canada Chapter of the Sierra Club.

These groups and individuals were invited to send their presentations in to the Committee.  If those are posted at some point, we will find the link.

This meeting has not just been postponed but cancelled, apparently since the Legislature opens tomorrow (Wednesday, April 3rd, at 2PM).  It may be rescheduled to May or whenever the Legislature has closed after the Spring sitting.  I don't know what this means as far as what presentations and recommendations the committee has already heard.  I can imagine the topic of lifting the moratorium on high capacity wells will come up in Question Period.
The Committee's website:

and the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water has lots of information on its website:
due to the work of a very tech savvy woman.

Here is an article on the rally yesterday regarding the ending of the Health Care Accord:

The Nature PEI tonight talk on "The Effects of Human Inputs to Island Streams and Estuaries" may be postponed due to the storm, but an update should be here:

And I can't believe I am saying, "Follow us on Twitter", but there you are.
It's likely useful for announcements such as those about the Standing Committee meeting cancellation.

(I had troubles with fitting "Citizens' Alliance of PEI" in such size-restricted lines, and I appreciate greatly the help of another certain tech savvy woman in getting the whole thing set up a while back.)