1. 1 December 30, 2012
    1. 1.1 Protesters have settled in for the winter at their campsite -- The Guardian online
  2. 2 December 29, 2012
    1. 2.1 It’s time for an update -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  3. 3 December 28, 2012
    1. 3.1 Results of The Guardian poll for Newsmaker of 2012 -- The Guardian online
  4. 4 December 27, 2012
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  5. 5 December 26, 2012
    1. 5.1 Interview with Premier Ghiz -- The Guardian online
    2. 5.2 Plan B work wrapping up for winter -- The Guardian online
    3. 5.3 Is the minister still optimistic-- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  6. 6 December 24, 2012
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 6.2 Winter presence at Camp Vision -- CBC Website
    3. 6.3 Winter plans for Camp Vision -- CBC Compass TV news
    4. 6.4 The naughty and nice of Island politics -- Commentary in The Eastern Graphic
  7. 7 December 22, 2012
    1. 7.1 Still room for citizen involvement -- Editorial in The Guardian
    2. 7.2 Plan B highway still a big mistake -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  8. 8 December 21, 2012
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  9. 9 December 20, 2012
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  10. 10 December 19, 2012
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 10.2 Sad anniversary for Plan B --The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 10.3 Plan B boulders to save lighthouse from erosion --The Eastern Graphic article
  11. 11 December 18, 2012
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  12. 12 December 17, 2012
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  13. 13 December 14, 2012
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  14. 14 December 13, 2012
    1. 14.1 Sherry fails on Plan B -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 14.2 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  15. 15 December 12, 2012
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 15.2 Life at Camp Vision -- The Guardian online
  16. 16 December 11, 2012
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 16.2 Breach at Crawford's Stream -- CBC Website
    3. 16.3 Differering opinions on the mitigation failures -- CBC Compass TV news
  17. 17 December 10, 2012
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  18. 18 December 8, 2012
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  19. 19 December 7, 2012
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  20. 20 December 6, 2012
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  21. 21 December 5, 2012
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 21.2 CBC polls results regarding Plan B -- CBC Website
    3. 21.3 CBC poll results on Plan B discussed -- CBC Island Morning
    4. 21.4 Committee on Plan B land use announced -- The Guardian online
    5. 21.5 Latest word is mitigation --The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  22. 22 December 3, 2012
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  23. 23 December 1, 2012
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update

December 30, 2012

Protesters have settled in for the winter at their campsite -- The Guardian online

December 29, 2012

It’s time for an update -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

A little more than a year has passed since government announced the Plan B highway realignment project. Buttressed with skewed safety statistics and hastily gathered site data, the actual construction began in early October as per schedule in spite of the growing opposition building against it.

Three weeks into the construction phase, government acknowledged this opposition by providing the public with an itemized accounting of costs allegedly arising from the actions undertaken by elements of this opposition (‘Plan B delays cost…’, The Guardian, Oct. 23, 2012).

Since that time, ‘tens of thousands of dump truck loads of dirt have been moved’ (‘Highway realignment work wrapping up for winter’, The Guardian, Dec. 27, 2012) and many thousand trees have been run through the shredder and hauled away. There has been a steady stream of informed reports indicating that unforeseen elements of the hydrology and basic geology encountered in the Plan B site have generated a cascade of engineering problems.

Given government's zest for accountability, as showcased in the Oct. 23 press release, should we not expect a status report on this project as it is ‘wrapping up for winter’? Is it on schedule and within projected budget? I think it's our right to know.

Boyd Allen, Pownal

December 28, 2012

Results of The Guardian poll for Newsmaker of 2012 -- The Guardian online

December 27, 2012

Chris Ortenburger's Update

 While nice to focus on family and traditions for a couple of days, Plan B news chugged on ;-)

First, CBC Compass had a feature on two of the wonderful people at the Camp on Christmas Eve:

 Also, it is very likely that the crews are encountering a quantity of bedrock in either the Churchill section (west of Crawford's Brook, that being the former UPEI land near where Plan B will rejoin the existing TCH approaching Strathgartney) or the Bonshaw section (western edge of the project).  This amount of bedrock close to the surface is NOT surprising and is mentioned in any geologic description of the area, but not something that these Plan B planners obviously thought about.  

Well, this goes back to Plan B being announced less than three weeks after the comments period for the three original Gateway plans closed a year ago, so if you plan a major project in three may miss Old Growth Hemlock, springs and seeps, and the nearness to the surface of bedrock deposits....but I digress.

Because the rock is costing money in equipment, we have heard they will just have to turn to explosives.

 Blasting might involve bringing in folks from Nova Scotia, where there are more companies with workers who have experience in blasting *granite*.  How often do people have to blast sandstone on a dear little sandbar where everyone is dependent on groundwater?  And right near a major broadcasting tower?

 And what will this cost?  We've already heard that the *teeth* on the excavators need to be replaced weekly at a cost of about $10,000 (lots of numbers flying through the air).  Folks, we need to ask government these questions and get answers.  They have been quite quiet on if they are staying on budget, with all the increased costs of mitigation and the excavation that are *certainly* not covered by the Gateway money.  All the feel-good articles soaking us like the dew are not addressing explosives and costs.

This is the bucket of one of the excavators sitting along the highway in Bonshaw.  It's missing its fifth tooth (on the right), and the other teeth are quite worn. The teeth are frequently replaced for more efficient digging, but you can guess that costs.

One of the feel-good articles from Wednesday's paper, Premier Ghiz's year-end interview with Wayne Thibodeau, and this excerpt about Plan B:

Q (Wayne Thibodeau): How surprised were you by the Opposition you faced to the expansion of the Trans-Canada Highway west of Cornwall, a project that soon became known as “Plan B”?

A (Robert Ghiz): Quite surprised would be an honest answer. It’s been known the Trans-Canada Highway in Prince Edward Island is not up to national standards. The first route that we had chosen went through Strathgartney. I’ll be honest, when we first heard that I didn’t think it was a good idea. When the engineers came in and explained it to us — that we were actually going to enhance certain areas of the park and expand certain areas of the park — that made more sense.

Going to public consultations, we heard loud and clear people did not want Strathgartney messed with. I can relate to that. We listened to what the public said.

We made a decision we were going to move where the road was going to be built. I still remember, we had the Opposition that said ‘two thumbs up to the government for listening to Islanders’, you had The Guardian that wrote an editorial saying ‘government listened to Islanders,’ you had the leader of the Green Party that said ‘this could save the government come the next election.’

One can always slant other people's words, including that of former Party Leaders, but I suspect no one (except perhaps the editorial writer) who made those comments would have made them if he or she had seen the maps and or had foreseen the implications.
Then there is this second and final question related to Plan B:

Q: But that praise didn’t last too long did it Mr. Ghiz?

A: There’s always going to be individuals that disagree. The part that I find disappointing is people saying we didn’t listen to them. We did listen. We moved it.

But I will say this, the people that are protesting have made government think long and hard about this. It’s not changing our mind but is it going to make us look at things from a more environmentally-friendly manner going into the future? Yes it will.

OK, well, I can't say anything that isn't sarcastic to that.

And two great letters in Wednesday's paper:

Catherine O'Brien's letter gives an excellent summary of the December 11 rain incident and wonders if all the assertions that it is "all about the environment" are true:

Joe Kern from Argyle Shore includes Plan B in his cogent explanation for looking at Proportional Representation:

In today's paper, Ryan Ross lets Steve Yeo promote the great job they have done in the Hemlock Grove.  Please, do not read on an empty stomach, or perhaps even on a full one.

The biggest of several misstatements is that work on Plan B is pretty much done for the winter.  Mr. Ross needed to walk a few metres west to see the box culvert half installed in Crawford's Brook, and perhaps be reminded that there wasn't much a story done on the rains of December 11 or 22rd that flooded the dams or the Peter's Road on this side of the project.  

Mr. Yeo says: “Whatever needs to be done work has stopped and if things need to be corrected or adjusted, certainly that’s a priority on a daily basis,” he said.

Later in the story: "Vessey said the department and contractor’s staff have been doing good work under sometimes difficult circumstances as the project progresses. 'They continue to work on the project with the environment on the forefront of everyone’s mind, as it should be,' he said."

It's like some sort of amalgamation of the Grinch and Pinocchio.  

This is our $10 million view of Churchill.  Personally, I liked it better when all I could see was trees.

It's looking east from the slope that used to be the maple and birch grove on the Crawford's property, down into Crawford's Brook, across Peter's Road (by the right-hand bulldozer), Hemlock Grove (a dip out of sight), with the current highway at the top of the road cut.

That's more than enough for today.  Thanks for reading. Be careful on the roads tonight.

Year-end interview with Premier Ghiz -- CBC Compass TV news

Premier Ghiz talks about Plan B in his year end review with Bruce Rainnie

December 26, 2012

Interview with Premier Ghiz -- The Guardian online

Premier Ghiz expresses surprise over the amount of opposition to Plan B but says that opposition is " going to make us look at things from a more environmentally-friendly manner going into the future"

Plan B work wrapping up for winter -- The Guardian online

Stephen Yeo gives a positive progress report on the Plan B highway re-alignment project

Is the minister still optimistic-- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I am deeply troubled by the recent events at the Plan B highway site. There have already been significant breaches to the silt pond and fencing, allowing silt to flow freely into the stream and out to the West River.

Work continued on the Plan B site on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, in direct contravention to the condition the minister set down for work to go ahead with the project (Oct. 1, 2012 - EIA Approval Condition number 3).

When mitigations failed and sediment entered a watercourse, operations in the area were to cease until measures were made to divert the sediment. This did not happen.

A silt fence was down, and despite some mulch on the hillside, sediment was running into Crawford's Stream. Despite the minister's conditions, work continued on the culvert arch placement.

This incident, and the major flow of sediment into the Crawford's Brook area happened after an average rain event.

The minister had specifically requested extra precautions to be put in place to ensure sediment runoff into the nearby stream is not an issue. I refer to The Guardian article on Oct. 2, 2012. The environmental protection plan was to include erosion control measures to withstand a one-in-25-year rainfall event. The minister said in that article:

"It was obvious from the public input we received that was one of the most important areas.... You have to move forward with a positive nature in a project this size and we're very optimistic that we've done the due diligence to make sure these issues are going to be well watched, well protected, well run."

There also seems to be serious issues regarding hydrology. They have been hitting groundwater and there were delays to the project while they tried to pump out the water in order to set the footings. Why did this happen? That should have been well researched before work began.

Does the minister still feel optimistic? Has she done due diligence?

Catherine O'Brien, Pownal

December 24, 2012

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Saturday it rained a bit and thankfully no massive mudslides occurred, but Peter's Road showed the strain of being built up for truck traffic:

Peter's Road in Churchill, facing north; Camp would be at top of road to right.

The worst of the lake drained over the next 40 hours of so.

Media: Friday's CBC Radio Political Panel was basically Nancy Key giving the Plan B opposition her "Nice" award for being one of the best things of the year.  I'll post the link as soon as I can find it.

Saturday's paper had an editorial on the Bonshaw Hills Committee, which was formed to meet one of 11 conditions that Minister Sherry exacted upon Minister Vessey for approval of the Plan B project.  

The conditions are attached as a pdf.  The land management is number 9.  Number 3 is just as important, no?

It is OK, in that typical alternating fawning and finger-wagging style that some of their editorials have.

And, right next to it, is this letter from Tony Reddin, who has the honor of writing the first published letter a year ago.

Have a wonderful Christmas!  

Winter presence at Camp Vision -- CBC Website

John Jeffery interviews Cindy Richards about reasons for winter presence at Camp Vision

Winter plans for Camp Vision -- CBC Compass TV news

Cindy Richards and Janet McLeod lead off the newscast and explain their reasons for staying at Camp Vision over the Christmas holiday while work is shut down on Plan B

The naughty and nice of Island politics -- Commentary in The Eastern Graphic

Second Opinion by Paul MacNeill, publisher,The Eastern Graphic

It’s that wonderful time of year when we sit back and reflect on all that is good and not so good on this beautiful little Island we call home. Like every year, 2012 was not without its share of political surprises, mix ups, muck ups and good deeds. Without trying to cut in on Santa’s turf, here’s the naughty and nice list.

Could there be a more naughty story than Plan B, the project that came to symbolize government arrogance in designing and building provincial highways? The idea first was to plough through Stratgarteney Provincial Park, a parcel of land bequeathed to all future generations by Robert Cotton. When that plan rightfully crashed government pulled Plan B out of its back pocket.

It hasn’t fared any better in the court of public opinion. Protests at the legislature. Protests and arrests at the construction site. Mi’kmaq warriors at the construction site. Disagree with what he said and how he said it, but one slip by Transportation Minister Robert Vessey and a bad situation could have been much worse. Plan B is naughty, but the minister lands on the good list.

Wes Sheridan lands on the naughty list for his over-the-top promotion of HST as panacea for all that ills the Island economy. Sure the tax will help Island business, but it will also disproportionately hit low income Islanders who will see the price for electricity, gasoline, fire wood and adult clothing all jump. Despite his warm words of assurance a $200 year rebate for low to middle income Island families will not offset the impact of the HST. It is the biggest tax grab in PEI history. Sheridan expects to generate $25 million in new revenue.

Our provincial debt is definitely on the naughty list. $2.5 billion and growing every day with no capacity to repay. Can you do something Santa cause our political leaders aren’t?

PEI Tourism Minister Rob Henderson and Economic Development Minister Al Roche both land on the nice list….they rightfully decided they could not pick a fight with Island buffalo and win.

It may surprise you but Health Minister Doug Currie lands on the nice list for actually pushing Health PEI to look at innovative ways of providing health care in rural PEI. Health PEI apparently missed the memo that says cutting and slashing programming is not providing service.

Our Premier Robert Ghiz lands on the nice list for joining the Movember Movement and raising public awareness of male health issues, not to mention $15,000.

Naughty: Premier Robert Ghiz’s moustache.

Depending on your perspective the PC Party of PEI lands on both the naughty and nice list. Regardless of your perspective there is no denying it’s the gift that kept giving all year.

Opposition Leader Olive Crane is wonderful in small group settings or one on one. Her performance is not as good in the provincial legislature, the venue most Islanders form an opinion of a leader. Poll results were consistently unkind.

She quit in December but was immediately voted by her four MLA colleagues to retain the perks, salary and power of being Leader of the Official Opposition. She could stay for two years.

That title is not to be confused with leader of the PC Party of PEI. At some point in the future party brass will appoint an interim leader, who could be one of the four backbench Tory MLAs. We know it won’t be Crane because she doesn’t want that non-paying job.

December 22, 2012

Still room for citizen involvement -- Editorial in The Guardian

The controversy over the Ghiz government's so-called Plan B realignment of the Trans-Canada Highway at Bonshaw has been so divisive this past year that it was surprising to learn recently that a committee struck by government to oversee land use in that area includes some critics of the project. Who would have thought?

Before highway crews began work at the site early in the fall, those opposed to the project urged government to scrap it, saying it would damage old-growth forest and wetlands in the area and scar the landscape - all without making the road any safer. As well, they criticized the massive outlay of federal and provincial dollars for the project at a time when the money arguably could be used elsewhere.

With construction well underway, the protests have subsided, although some protesters remain vocal. But an intriguing development occurred earlier this month when Transportation Minister Robert Vessey announced the formation of a committee charged with overseeing the protection of environmentally sensitive areas near the site.The committee includes representatives from government as well as from some well-established community and environmental groups, some of which opposed the Plan B project.

Specifically, the committee's task is to recommend to government how to manage the provincially owned land near the highway realignment. By the time the project is complete, the province will have spent more than $4 million to buy the land it needs, but the highway won't occupy all that land; there will be space available for other uses, such as green space for hiking and cycling trails. Government wants advice on how that land should be handled.

Some of those who joined the committee have been criticized in online comments for co-operating with government on this task, and that's not surprising; controversy often polarizes groups to the point that compromise is rarely possible. But we credit those who are willing to assist government at this stage in the project's development. Islanders owe a debt of gratitude to their willingness to participate in this important advisory role. Ideally, their collective expertise should be helpful in determining the treatment of the site, including the design of green space and the protection of environmentally sensitive areas.

But government also has a responsibility here to make this co-operative effort successful. The members of this committee acted in good faith by responding to the invitation to act in an advisory role and produce some meaningful recommendations for government. Government must return this good faith by heeding the committee members' recommendations.

There no doubt will be a cost to this. Developing cycling and hiking trails and other work there will require the expenditure of tax dollars, but the cost surely would be minor compared to the overall amount of public money that will have gone into the overall highway realignment project by the time it is completed. Government would look silly if it were to withhold spending on the finishing touches, such as trail development and green space landscaping. The initial battle over Plan B may be over, but there's still a need for citizen involvement to ensure that the site through which the realigned highway will pass is appropriately developed. Those who've responded to government's invitation to participate in this important phase should be credited for doing so, and government should take their recommendations seriously.

Plan B highway still a big mistake -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

From the time that I first questioned the Plan B highway project in my letter a year ago (Dec. 22, 2011) we have had misinformation, back-pedalling and bull-headed disregard for widespread public opposition to spending $20 million on this unnecessary project.

In spite of the expensive destruction already done, cancelling Plan B is still a better choice than continuing to waste many millions of dollars on it.

I and many others have asked, "Why Plan B, when government is cutting back so much on other programs, and P.E.I. is so deeply in debt?"

We continue to ask when our P.E.I. government will address the financial and environmental crises we are leaving future generations.

How can we preserve farmland, forests and watercourses from paving, development and destruction? How can we change our economy to one that will support local production andmaintenance of Islanders' basic needs in transportation, health care and employment? How can we get off the fossil fuel addiction that's burning away our natural world?

P.E.I. needs a Plan C; C standing for honest communication and meaningful consultation, the first steps to restoring citizen confidence in government leadership.

Tony Reddin, Bonshaw

December 21, 2012

Chris Ortenburger's Update

First, on the media front, it sounds like on CBC Radio's "political panel" this morning (7:40 - 8AM), Plan B is going to be mentioned a bit by Nancy Key, the Summerside lawyer who has repeatedly, repeatedly spoken against Plan B.
Second, it was great to hear that so many checked in with the folks to lodge a complaint.
This was the typical response from them: 

On the morning of December 11, 2012, Departmental staff met onsite with the contractor and regulators from the Department of Environment, Labour, and Justice, as well as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. All areas of the construction limits were visited, issues were identified and prioritized. The higher priority issues were addressed immediately, while other issues were addressed within 24 or 48 hours. All issues were dealt in accordance with the various regulatory approvals issued for this project, and to the satisfaction of the appropriate regulators. 

Environmental effects monitoring continues. Compliance monitoring continues on a daily basis.
Thank you for email. 

So, it was an Air Kiss response, and frankly completely inadequate. Work continued on the arches just metres away with many workers, and it would have taken two people less than an hour to fix that fence and prevent more run-off from getting into the Stream -- and pretty much anyone could have fixed that fence, even a.....oh, I won't make cheap, easy insults at politicians or engineers -- it *is* Christmas and all....

Anyway, we can respond to that prerecorded announcement as individuals -- it's not good enough: Sherry's conditions state that "work must cease" and that *certainly* did not happen in Crawford's Stream.
Well, there is more rain forecast, so there are some stalwart volunteers with cameras and sampling bottles getting ready. Anyone interested is encouraged to come out around the sites today or tomorrow. Contact me if you want better directions on where to park and where to go.

Have a good day...very best of wishes to all of you.

December 20, 2012

Chris Ortenburger's Update

One year ago, TIR Minister Vessey surprised a lot of us by announcing Plan B. Islanders were originally told it would not be until January, and of course we thought the Gateway money would only be for either Tryon, Crapaud or Strathgartney. Not that all the money being spend on a huge new plan cutting north into the Bonshaw Hills.

Tomorrow (Friday) I am sending a recap of the last year, but today we are asking for a little request. As you know, the Complaint Management System is our only avenue to send concerns, lodge complaints, or ask questions. Though a lot of weight is placed on it in the Environmental Protection Plan (EPP -- which was part of the "Environmental Impact Assessment"- EIA), and Environment Minister Sherry bases her conditional approval of Plan B on Transportation adhering to the the EIA, most of us who have written or called in any sort of concern have been answered in a cursory fashion (which has left us cursing), if at all.

SO, you may remember that one week ago there were several breaches of the environmental sediment containment designs along Crawford's Brook (west of Peter's Road) and Crawford's Stream (the Hemock Grove, east of Peter's Road).

At the Brook, there was massive overflow and attention was focused on draining the brook bed. Sediment was definitely getting into the tributary.

At the Stream, sediment rich water flowed down from the parking lot/new south Peter's Road, right by the collapsed silt fence, and into the Stream and off to the West River.

Work continued on the culvert arch placement that day on the Stream.

A little complaint from a lot of people may remind the Ministers that they must "comply with their compliance strategy."

**Please spend a few minutes packaging and sending a letter, as you anniversary tribute to a year of Plan B.** Thank you.

A sample letter and addresses will come in the next e-mail. Please personalize and embellish all you wish, or just send it. It's knowing that Islanders are still paying attention that is important here.

With respect and admiration for your concerns and efforts all along,

December 19, 2012

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Fantastic Talk in Bonshaw Tuesday evening with Scott Rice-Snow, hydro-geologist!

Over 50 people attended, and learned *a lot * about how groundwater flows. One can conclude that Plan B was NOT well thought out when it came to hydrology (among other things), and that everything they are doing now in the Crawford's Brook and Stream is *reaction* to problems they have uncovered by not understanding normal patterns of waterflow in a watershed.

Also, in today's Guardian:

Sad anniversary for Plan B --The Guardian Letter to the Editor

In the midst of many celebrations, a sad or, depending on the degree of your cynicism, farcical anniversary is upon us. On Dec. 20, 2012, Robert Vessey, minister of transportation and infrastructure renewal, announced Plan B. Readers of his hollow words a year later can decide for themselves whether to laugh or weep:

“After thorough consultations, the province will move ahead with new plans to re-align the Trans-Canada Highway.... Islanders spoke and we listened.... We believe this new alignment greatly improves safety and efficiency, and strikes a balance between the goals of the Atlantic Gateway and the wishes of residents.... From the very beginning we asked Islanders to be part of this decision and, in the end, the feedback we received played an important role.....”

There’s more, but you get the idea. These selections are true to the whole of his press release.

Terry Pratt, Peters Road, Elmwood

Plan B boulders to save lighthouse from erosion --The Eastern Graphic article

By Jonathan Charlton

The beach along the Cape Bear Lighthouse is being shored up with rocks to prevent the Northumberland Strait from washing the historic structure away.

“There’s been some concern a bad storm might cause the bank to erode enough that it might cause the lighthouse to go down, so they’re trying to secure that,” Wallace Jorden, vice chair of Cape Bear Lighthouse Inc, said.

The community group is in the process of developing the location to make it sustainable.

That includes plans to move the historic lighthouse, which was the first to receive the distress signal from the Titanic, 200 feet north to property bordering Black River Road.

The fortifications will still be useful after the lighthouse moves, Mr Jorden said.

“We’re going to be needing to use the beaches along there in the program itself.”

The work is being done by Island Coastal and the rocks being used to bolster the beach are from the Plan B construction site.

The land is owned by DFO, however DFO wasn’t able to confirm its involvement with the work or how much it will cost by press time.

December 18, 2012

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Two quick notes:

Tonight is the talk on Groundwater and Plan B, with Dr. Scott Rice-Snow, and some discussion after his presentation. 7PM, Bonshaw Community Centre, light refreshments will be served

And fresh cut evergreens are available at the parking lot of the Windsor Hotel, in New Haven, at the intersection of the TCH and Route 9, with additional thanks to Shona and Matt, with proceeds going to Stop Plan B.

December 17, 2012

Chris Ortenburger's Update

It's a week when everyone has plenty of fun things to do at home and with friends and family, and there are a few Plan B bits of news to relate.

First is a reminder about the Groundwater and Plan B talk tomorrow night (Tuesday), at the Bonshaw Community Centre, at 7PM, with Ball State University geology professor Dr. Scott Rice-Snow. It should be a timely presentation, as far as Plan B goes, and we are fortunate to have Scott speak before he heads back to Indiana. 

Scott Rice-Snow checks out seeping groundwater on the west bank of Crawford's Stream (in Hemlock Grove -- you can see the pines and other trees above or to the north in the photo), with public monitor Cindy Richards, last week. The plastic at the upper left is from an attempt to capture water in the layer above.

More details on the talk and lots of background information on everything else can be found at the Stop Plan B website:

Thursday is the one-year mark of the announcement of Plan B. It would be good to see some letters referring to that in the local papers.

A special thanks is extended to all those who attended any of the question periods at the Legislature for this Fall's sitting. Though there were many issues going on, the fact that people opposed to Plan B kept a presence there made an impact.

December 14, 2012

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Next week: A Public Talk on Groundwater and Plan B
Tuesday, December 18th
Bonshaw Community Centre
with Ball State University hydrology professor Dr. Scott Rice-Snow 

Where our groundwater comes from, what makes this region special,and what trying to put a highway in this area means this winter and in the future.

All are welcome -- please pass this on

In yesterday's Guardian, Gail Rhyno's superb letter

Have a great weekend! Don't forget the Coro Dolce Christmas concert at the Bonshaw Hall Sunday at 2:30PM.

December 13, 2012

Sherry fails on Plan B -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I would like to know why Environment Minister Janice Sherry did not stop work on the Plan B TCH project on Dec. 11 when it was discovered that mitigations put in place to reduce damage to the environment had failed in areas where work was ongoing?

Is it because in her department money and time contraints trump environmental protections? Is it because there was some fine print in the conditional approval, that none of us could read, that said ‘when time and money become an issue, all the other conditions are null and void’?

I was on the work site on Dec. 11 with other public monitors while the water ran red, while silt/sediment poured from the work site into the watercourses, while mitigations failed, while failed mitigations were ignored and work continued.

The public is not ignorant. We do understand that the conditions Minister Sherry put in place in order for this TCH project to go head were ignored. She knew public concern for this project would be high and knew we were watching. Dec. 11 was not only a test of the mitigations, it was a test of the minister’s conditional approval. A test which she failed.

I would like to know if Minister Sherry gave approval for work to continue on the site on Dec. 11 at the expense of repairing mitigations? I would like to ask her to address the public and explain why her conditions were ignored?

I would like to ask her to explain to the public why they should still trust anything she says regarding this project or future projects?

Gail Rhyno, Charlottetown

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Through the application of a great deal of heavy equipment and manpower, the worst issues at the Crawford's Brook area have been addressed.

We continue to discuss the breaches in the sediment controls from Monday's rain and what that means regarding Minister Sherry's Conditional Approval of Plan B. It will help matters if people write their MLAs, the Ministers responsible, and consider writing The Guardian (

Yesterday, Dr. Scott Rice-Snow, visiting hydrology professor from Ball State University in Indiana, visited the Plan B info centre and looked at maps, saw the western worksite in the Bonshaw region (that's visible from Green Road), and walked around the Crawford's Brook and Stream sections with campers Cindy and Janet guiding. It's pretty obvious he understands the foolishness of trying to contain these waterways.

He has offered to give a talk on some basics of groundwater and specifically related to the Plan B area early NEXT week, as he is giving his two research talks today at UPEI (info on those below). This is really timely, and really kind of Scott, since he is only here until Christmas.

Right now that Plan B hydrology talk will be either Monday or Tuesday evening (December 17 or 18th) at the Bonshaw Community Centre.

Events today and Sunday:

Thursday, December 13, in the Faculty Lounge of UPEI, Main Building, 12–1 pm.
“Watershed boundary irregularity on PEI”
Scott Rice-Snow, visiting professor to Island Studies from Ball State University in Indiana, has been on PEI this fall researching the geometry of PEI drainage basins, and will summarize his results to date at a lunch-and-learn session.
(I think that means you can bring your food and eat there while you listen.)

Visiting Scholar Speaking on Protecting Groundwater - 7 pm, December 13
Scott Rice-Snow, visiting professor to Island Studies from Ball State University in Indiana, will make a public presentation Thursday evening, December 13, on a topic that is increasingly relevant to PEI: protecting high-quality groundwater from petroleum development. Dr. Rice-Snow will discuss his research on this topic, gained from studying landscape and aquifer interactions near Carlsbad, New Mexico.
The presentation and discussion will be in the Faculty Lounge in Main Building, UPEI, beginning at 7 pm.

And for something completely different:
A Coro Dolce Classical Christmas
Sunday, December 16, 2:30PM
Bonshaw Hall
admission $10
The concert will include John Rutter's Brother Heinrich's Christmas, a whimsical retelling of the origin of the carol In dulce jubilo, narrated by Terry Pratt and a singing donkey.

The Hall is going to be affected by the as-yet-untold plans for Plan B through the village of Bonshaw, and the choir master and many in the group have been vocal opponents of any massive projects (Plan A or B!).

December 12, 2012

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Yesterday's rain causing massive sediment at two locations along the Plan B site was very hard to watch....and totally expected.

The first was noticed at "Crawford's Brook", which is west of Peter's Road and is the steep-sloped maple grove. A large, long (500 ft.) "box-culvert" (a square concrete hollow tube) is to be placed there so the brook can be filled over for the road. They are "dewatering" the brook by means of two dams and a pipe in between, and of course all the water from the rain and other watercourses that feed that brook filled up the area with brown goopy water, about the size of a rink. So they pumped it out uphill, but it ran right back in, all flowing into the West River in Churchill.

Crawford's Brook Tuesday, December 11, 2012, about 11:30AM

The second was at Hemlock Grove, Crawford's Stream, were the concrete arches are being placed to be a very long culvert.

At the downstream end of the culvert, runoff and groundwater filled the arches way up. This was pumped out, but a silt fence on the eastern side of the stream, downstream of the arches, which served to hold back run-off from the hillside with the parking area and what will be South Peter's Road, was overwhelmed and squashed by the water. Even after this was pointed out to the construction manager and transportation environment officials and the Department of Environment representative, work resumed on placing the arches.

Crawford's Stream, eastern bank, downstream of the arches (white lump in upper left).

This was in Direct Contravention of Minister Janice Sherry's conditional approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment of October 1st of Plan B.

"3. TIR shall, in the event that sediment associated with the construction project enters a watercourse, immediately cease operations in the affected area and implement measures to divert sediment from entering the watercourse."

Clearly, Condition Number 3 was ignored by the Transportation staff, the contractors, and the environment representatives. It really would not have taken *that long* to fix that silt fence. Such bald-faced refusal to acknowledge and follow a condition of the agreement is reprehensible and perhaps shows the lack of ethics of the long, sorry chain of command of this project from the decision-making people on site all the way to the Premier.

Just in case you feel like writing to anyone along that sorry chain:

Environment Minister Sherry

Transportation Minister Vesssey is at:

and District 17 MLA Valerie Docherty is at:

and our Premier:

Compass's so-so coverage was at 4:20 into the broadcast last night.

Have a great 12-12-12!

Life at Camp Vision -- The Guardian online

Interview with with Cindy Richards, Dana Jeffery, Larry Cosgrave, and Miracle the camp cat.

December 11, 2012

Chris Ortenburger's Update

7AM  Cindy just reported that last night's rain has burst the earthen berm placed at Crawford's Brook (that's west of Hemlock Grove, the area of the beautiful maple grove west of Peter's Road). All the authorities and some media have been contacted, water samples taken, etc.

This is sadly expected -- the berm to "dewater" that lovely little brook was quite full *before* the rain yesterday.

The other sites have or will soon be checked by the volunteer public monitors.

Photos when the light gets better.

So much technology, so little wisdom. Building roads to nowhere while the Island sinks further into debt. --Bruno Peripoli

Breach at Crawford's Stream -- CBC Website

Differering opinions on the mitigation failures -- CBC Compass TV news

John Jeffery interviews Cindy Richard, Chris Ortenberger, and Stephen Yeo about the breaches at Crawford's Stream and Crawford's Brook (starts at @ 4:30 into the program)

December 10, 2012

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Hello, Everyone,Here is the link to Santa's chat with Premier Ghiz on Friday.

The Plan B Information Centre is open Tuesday, December 11th, from 1 - 3 PM, in the lower level of the Bonshaw Community Centre. Come by to see the maps!

Apparently today and for the next two days, the gigantic arches will will make up the culvert in the old Hemlock Grove will be installed. These are being put on the footings installed in the last two weeks, all on very soft ground that the groundwater keeps wanting to seep through, despite efforts at "dewatering". I am not sure how today's snowy/freezing rain weather will affect placement, but I do know the Watch Plan B public monitors (just volunteers like you and I) will be keeping an eye on the waterways for sediment run-off with the rain forecast.

The invisible line that marked the construction zone (once they removed the snow fence) has dissolved. The aggressive security presence has evaporated (except for the very nice individuals hired to watch the crane at night) and residents wishing to witness some of this can come and watch things from any perspective where they are comfortable from the western side of Hemlock Grove. Folks at Base Camp will show where you can go.

If you are heading towards the Camp on Peter's Road, keep in mind the road may be soft; but parking along the TCH around there is still allowed, so you can head in up Peter's Road or on the ATV trail just west of Peter's Road but before the construction zone parking lot and what will be the third attempt at the connector between Plan B and the TCH (Peter's Road South).

Events this week:

Unrelated, but dealing with land and water issues are two talks regarding petroleum development and PEI's groundwater,

Tonight, Murphy Centre 7PM:

And Thursday night:

Visiting Scholar Speaking on Protecting Groundwater - 7 pm, December 13

Scott Rice-Snow, visiting professor to Island Studies from Ball State University in Indiana, will make a public presentation Thursday evening, December 13, on a topic that is increasingly relevant to PEI: protecting high-quality groundwater from petroleum development. Dr. Rice-Snow will discuss his research on this topic, gained from studying landscape and aquifer interactions near Carlsbad, New Mexico.

The presentation and discussion will be in the Faculty Lounge in Main Building, UPEI, beginning at 7 pm.

And Thursday (daytime)

“Watershed boundary irregularity on PEI”

Scott Rice-Snow, visiting professor to Island Studies from Ball State University in Indiana, has been on PEI this fall researching the geometry of PEI drainage basins, and will summarize his results to date at a lunch-and-learn session next Thursday, December 13, in the Faculty Lounge, Main Building, 12–1 pm.

December 8, 2012

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Yesterday was a sunny, crisp day, and yet another example of how the government is being reminded that those opposed to Plan B are not going away.

The Legislature closed, but not before the MLAs were greeted first thing by Santa, who had that special present for the Premier -- a framed print of Gary Loo's wooden artwork of the Plan B PEI Flag. Santa got his point across, though the Premier remained a good sport but a bit unfazed.

Santa gives Premier Ghiz a framed photo of the "Plan B Flag" woodcut by Gary Loo, as other MLAs, folks and media people watch.

There may be some better photos out there. Compass has a little clip on it at the beginning of their article about the Legislature closing on Friday's news.

Gary Loo's original work has a temporary home at the Murphy Community Centre, with thanks to Mike Redmond for arranging that, so please drop in and see it when you are out and about in the next week or so.

Some folks may be hiking around the Plan B areas this weekend, probably gathering at Base Camp around 11 or noon on Sunday.

The Info Centre at the Bonshaw Community Centre will next be open on Tuesday from 1 - 3PM.

On an mildly related community announcement, the Confed Centre is putting on "The Wizard of Oz" with a certain Catherine "ManyLastNames" as Auntie Em, and I will "caw" about how great she was in another untitled role. Other Plan B people have big roles behind the scenes. It plays this weekend and later next week. A fantastic production.

Just because they are building it, doesn't make it right.

December 7, 2012

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Media: CBC radio is doing a story this morning on the committee assigned by the Department of Transportation to enact one of Environment Minister Sherry's conditions for approval of the Plan B project -- preserving some of the land purchased for Plan B. There will be more to comment on later.

Word from the North Pole is that a certain individual may be there to greet the arriving MLAs, including the Premier, at Province House before the Legislature opens this morning, about 9:45, and it might involve a gift of a photo of this (but, shhh, it's a surprise):

This is a photo of a woodcut version of the PEI Flag made by Island craftsman Gary Loo to comment on Plan B. The middle tree is missing -- chopped and pushed aside... symbolic of how thousands of trees, including rare and ancient Hemlock, have been mowed down to make way for the Plan B project. The flag is partially made of maple, spruce, birch, pine and larch -- trees felled by Plan B. The flag faces the opposite direction from how we normally see it, to symbolize the backward ideas of the plan B project, and the ragged right edge makes it appear that the flag has been ripped from the flagpole.

The original is on display today at the Murphy Centre (tentatively) and will be displayed at other venues in the next few weeks.

Perhaps wander out to Province House this morning, as the Legislature is probably going to close today or in the next week.

December 6, 2012

Chris Ortenburger's Update

CBC has commissioned a question about Plan B approval among the Island population, and planning on reporting the result and chatting with me and others -- sounds like it is after 8AM this morning (not sure, though).

And it's official (!): not many islanders support Plan B.

Minister Vessey had a letter to the editor in Monday's paper, justifying the cost of land purchases for Plan B.
And it sounds like there will be a big announcement by the Department of Transportation and Environment about the committee (The Bonshaw Hills Committee) that's figuring out what to do with a few parcels of undeveloped land that was bought for the highway.

Yesterday at Plan B:
It's pretty ugly. An excavator has dug out Crawford's Brook (this is the meandering, seepy brook west of Peter's Road by that gorgeous maple grove), first putting in some sort of small dam and "weeping tile" (hose), and "grubbing" up the hillside:

To the west off Peter's Road in Churchill, "grubbing" up the hillside.

They are also working on the Hemlock Grove, trying to place those footings for the giant culvert arches.

December 5, 2012

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Info Centre will be open at the Bonshaw Community Centre this afternoon, 1 -3PM. The Flawed Flag woodcut will be on display. After that, you could go to the Camp to see this:
which is from yesterday while they are putting in footings despite water seepage from the springs/groundwater along the western edge of the Hemlock Grove.
(At Hemlock Grove, looking down and east).

If you are in town and able, Question Period is from about 2:20PM for almost an hour, and interesting to attend in some odd way. There are sure to be questions about the lengthening of the current provincial government's "mandate".

CBC polls results regarding Plan B -- CBC Website

Poll results released showing 45% of Islanders are against Plan B

CBC poll results on Plan B discussed -- CBC Island Morning

Interview with Chris Ortenberger and Don Mills (pollester) about poll results on Plan B

Committee on Plan B land use announced -- The Guardian online

Committee announced to recommend ways to manage provincially owned land around Plan B

Mitigation seems to be the Ghiz government's latest new word. Mitigation is something lawyers do to have a client's sentence reduced etc. You might recall it was used extensively while trying to explain away the unnecessary and hated Plan B project.

Recently on CBC radio Wes Sheridan talked about how the HST would be good for Islanders. Duh? He used the same words over and over in order to avoid actually answering questions. He managed to waste air time thanking callers for their questions-concerns-worries etc. As he wasn't in the house, he couldn't fill time with the words "Madam Speaker", so instead he used the interviewer's name over and over: thank you, Matt; great question, Matt; Matt, let me answer that for you, Matt.

However, he really didn't answer any questions. He constantly beat the same old drum: that it's good for business, progressive, and will give Island businesses the lift they need. Also, and very strangely, the number of people using oil changed that morning from 94 per cent to 90 per cent. He didn't tell us how he came up with this new and lower number (guess he mitigated it).

I have to wonder how this government even knows how many people use oil as opposed to other fuel sources. We changed over recently (with a government grant) to relying on our pellet stove, wood stove, and newly installed electric registers as a backup. Our oil tank is long gone. Now tell me how Sheridan knows how many use oil and how he comes up with his numbers. Perhaps he has a crystal ball that can mitigate the future. We are now known as the green island - maybe because the transit buses are painted green? Surely it's not because the government is promoting the use of oil.

As to businesses getting a lift from the new HST, how about Homburg Investments? They owe the provincial government some $16 million for the Holman Hotel. Now there is one investment that can really be called getting lifted. Mitigate that, Mr. Sheridan.

F. Ben Rodgers, Ebenezer

December 3, 2012

Chris Ortenburger's Update

It was a windy but nice time at the camp off Peter's Road this weekend (until you went down to the Hemlock Grove to see what was up).

The construction people were continuing to hope they could drain the water from the area so they can install the "footings" and arches for the culvert over the stream, and then divert the stream back.

It's still pretty wet, even without last night's rain, so we will see. It does sound like they are working on the area today, though.

Feel free to stop by this week to the camp, and the Information Centre will be open at the Bonshaw Community Centre tomorrow (Tuesday) from 1 - 3PM, 25 Green Road. Current maps will be available, and Gary Loo's woodcut of the Flawed Flag will be on display.

Here is one photo of what the Hemlock Grove looks like, taken by me yesterday of my daughter looking south or downstream. The pump is removing groundwater drainage that's seeping in from the western bank of the creek, the real creekbed has been scooped out and replaced with gravel, and water is seeping everywhere.

Apologies for those of you who saw this on facebook already, but it's captures how misguided this project is, and what we are leaving for our children.

Photos of the flyover the project from a couple of weeks ago can be seen here:

You can click on the various images and photos to get to a "photo album" of pictures. We hope to have video available soon.

December 1, 2012

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Welcome to December!

At the Hemlock Grove, a crane is set to begin the culvert installation. Visitors to the Peter's Road camp can walk down and see what is going on.

The Info Centre at the Bonshaw Community Centre will NOT be open today, but will be Tuesday, December 4th from 1-3PM.