April 2013


  1. 1 April 30, 2013
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  2. 2 April 29, 2013
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  3. 3 April 27, 2013
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  4. 4 April 26, 2013
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  5. 5 April 25, 2013
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  6. 6 April 24, 2013
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  7. 7 April 23, 2013
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  8. 8 April 22, 2013
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  9. 9 April 21, 2013
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  10. 10 April 20, 2013
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  11. 11 April 19, 2013
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  12. 12 April 18, 2013
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  13. 13 April 17, 2013
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  14. 14 April 16, 2013
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  15. 15 April 15, 2013
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  16. 16 April 14, 2013
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  17. 17 April 12, 2013
    1. 17.1 Cindy Richards' Environmental Report -- Facebook
    2. 17.2 Construction debris.....
    3. 17.3 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  18. 18 April 11, 2013
    1. 18.1 A bad news government --The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 18.2 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  19. 19 April 10, 2013
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  20. 20 April 9, 2013
    1. 20.1 Larry Cosgrave's Environmental Update -- Facebook
    2. 20.2 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  21. 21 April 8, 2013
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  22. 22 April 6, 2013
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  23. 23 April 5, 2013
    1. 23.1 Protecting the environment going to cost money -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 23.2 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  24. 24 April 4, 2013
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  25. 25 April 3, 2013
    1. 25.1 Disregarding rural P.E.I. -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 25.2 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  26. 26 April 2, 2013
    1. 26.1 As the HST takes effect -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 26.2 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  27. 27 April 1, 2013
    1. 27.1 Cindy Richards' Environmental Report -- Facebook
    2. 27.2 Chris Ortenburger's Update

April 30, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Construction is restarting in some of the Plan B sites, on a limited scale:
Digging around the Bridge in Bonshaw,
Breaking bedrock in the rest of the Bonshaw section,
Scraping off the flapping tape on the Crawford's Brook culvert boxes,
Resuming burying Hemlock Grove in shale.
(Nothing resuming in Fairyland yet -- perhaps there is not enough rental equipment.)

I think one thing that makes people upset about the misguided spending of money for Plan B is that most of the money is going into *things* -- gigantic equipment rental or subcontracting (tree harvesters, articulated dump trucks, excavators with impact drills) and concrete structures that already need repair (culvert box segments) -- instead of paying more *workers* to fix the roads and culverts we already have utilizing much less expensive "things."

Crawford's Brook, west of Peter's Road, Sunday, April 28th, 2013.
Hats off once again for the PEI Watershed Alliance in providing leadership on watershed issues, and the place for Islanders to get more information about issues affecting water.

Here is a link to the WA's article about the letter they wrote recently to the US Food and Drug Administration, calling for a moratorium on the development and sale of GM fish.  Their letter is a link from this article:

Also, the petition by Save Our Seas and Shores (SOSS) calling for a moratorium on drilling for gas and oil and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is being presenting to the Legislature, by MLA Buck Watts, who appears to care about water issues, today about 3PM. What kind of direction the Legislature will take on this issue?  Not sure.  More information regarding the SOSS campaign:

Having made such an impact on Lands Protection Act Commissioner Horace Carver, now the public's attention is being asked to turn to the Land Use Policy Task Force.  More later this week.

April 29, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

From Question Period in the PEI Provincial Legislature, Friday, April 26th, 2013
Stephen Myers, Leader of the Opposition: Question to the minister (of Education): Has this government gotten so arrogant that they would bypass their own board –
Speaker: Hon. member, I would ask you to refrain from using that word.
Leader of the Opposition: Sure.
Speaker: Thank you.
Leader of the Opposition: (Pause) There’s no other word to explain this government, unfortunately.
Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.

The Legislature will be sitting for this week, but this may be the last week or so before the House closes for the summer.  The public can attend the sessions, with Question Period after 2PM on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and Friday after 10AM.
More information on the Legislature, including the live and archived broadcasts of sessions and House Records:

Tuesday afternoon, the petition calling for a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence will be tabled in the House.  The Save Our Seas group has been working very hard for many months on this issue.  More information can be found through links here:

Wednesday starting at 4:30PM is a May Day Rally in front of Province House to mark International Workers' Day, with an emphasis on issues facing PEI workers.

April 27, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A year ago yesterday, April 26, 2012:


The Stop Plan B Rally, on a brisk, beautifully sunny April day: yellow balloons, a fantastic roster of speakers (among them an economist, a teenager, political leaders, caring Islanders, all), the music ("Quit the Road Ghiz", among others), the Opposition Motion in the House against Plan B (defeated by the majority Liberals with hollow pageantry), and the odd, violent reaction by MLA Valerie Docherty against another member of the Legislative Assembly.

What's the same? Plan B is still being pushed through -- bullied through, as the hard-working Jackie Waddell of Island Nature Trust said to the media a year ago. That's interesting when Alan McIsaac stands up in the Legislature and derides bullying as a huge problem. (Yesterday: McIsaac: "This whole issue of bullying is out of control, and I understand that.") Perhaps children emulate what they see from the top?

And regarding Cabinet Minister and District 17 MLA, who was quoted in The Guardian Friday as saying, regarding the very small increases to the amounts paid to facilities for community care residents by the government: The "government's offer was acceptable given the province's fiscal situation."

A comment from an Islander (with permission):

Evidence shows that Minister Valerie Docherty knows her priorities; she worked extremely hard to enable millions and millions of our tax dollars to be dumped into that stupid Plan B thing in her riding for something so few want and nobody needs.  But to be fair, Islanders have to look that piece of work through her point of view.  After all, what will get her re-elected, patronage payola to one of the Island's most powerful political lobbyist or seniors with dementia and younger people who have mental health issues?

And yep, nobody could have created more irony here: Tax funds not supporting Park Hill Place because of "the province's fiscal situation" as the park-like hills of Bonshaw are being destroyed by millions of our tax-dollars. And Docherty's title: "Community Services and Seniors Minister"? I mean really, you just can't make this stuff up! However, the real test of our morality is how many of her constituents will speak up against this madness. Lest we forget, the only thing that makes Docherty right is our silence, and therein lies our shame, not hers. 



April 26, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

There are some events going on tonight and tomorrow regarding Earth Day, coordinated by the Sierra Club Atlantic: 

Tonight: A fundraising concert at The Pourhouse (above the Old Triangle) from 10PM-2AM.
Performers include Jordan Cameron, The Time Traveling Werewolves, The Downwalls, and Badson Breez.
For ages 19 and older, and all proceeds going to Sierra Club programs.

Tomorrow: Earth Week Expo on Saturday, April 27th (which also happens to be Save the Frogs Day) from 12-4PM at the Murphy's Community Centre.
Free admission- all ages welcome. Drop in.
Information booths, activities for kids, music, and included in the Expo is a panel with 10 minutes presentations followed by audience Q and A. The panel takes place concurrently, from 1:30PM to 3:00PM, and presenters include Josie Baker, Andrew Trivett, and Mark Leggott.

April 25, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

This video about a year old, has mild inaccuracies, and the voiceover is a little low in volume. But, it's eight minutes that encapsulates Plan B, and still worth another viewing. Plan B is still "a colossal mistake."

April 24, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Department of Environment placed on its website an independent review of the sediment controls and measures, which it ordered early this year.  The original measures were prescribed by Stantec.  The review was done by Stantec.  It's a bit of an "I told you so" -- maybe, "I told me so."   Also posted is an ever-so-slightly huffy response letter to Dept. of Environment from Transportation.  We mere citizens would like to hold to the ideal that these departments and hired companies are all working towards keeping this indefensible road project from being an even bigger mess and waste of money.

The two new documents are the last two downloads above "Addendum #1" http://www.gov.pe.ca/environment/index.php3?number=1041923&lang=E

The project review was dated March 21st, a week *after* the heavy rainfall event of March 14th.

Here is a funny quote from it, in a laugh-or-cry way, in the "Project Challenges" section:

6. There were numerous springs encountered on this Project that required the separation of these flows from the sediment-laden runoff generated onsite to prevent additional sediment-laden water. This complication appears to have been adequately addressed by PEITIR based on the work observed to date.

Based on the soil type and the large amount of material that has to be moved, it is Stantec’s view that environmental effects due to the release of sediment on this Project can at best be minimized, but not eliminated.


I think TIR was charged about $30,000 for this report.  I haven't read all of it, but I hope you poke around in it, too.

Though the list is still a bit overwhelming, the Environment people have tried to make all these documents available to the public and have recently tidied up how they appear on the page  (with the exception of "Appendix #1", it is in chronological order).


And Teresa Doyle talks about Land Protections in yesterday's Guardian: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-04-23/article-3224918/We-must-protect-land/1

and farmer Ranald Affleck always tells it like it is: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-04-23/article-3224913/Farming-unique-and-important/1

and Mr. Carver himself is impressed! http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2013-04-23/article-3225463/Horace-Carver-staggered-by-Islanders-passion-about-land-holdings-issues/1

Have a good day!  I have the pleasure of being the guest speaker at the Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association AGM, tonight at 7PM at Grand Tracadie School, off Route 6, talking about community and environmental change ;-)    All are welcome.

April 23, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

One of the presentations to the Lands Protection Act review commission from a large group making the case for increased acreage limits ended with a slide that read:

"Change is Mandatory
Survival is Optional  
Edward Denning"

Of course all of us understand that changes in life must happen, but this group was insinuating if you don't agree to the change they want, you are against progress.

Many of us were sensitized to this kind of manipulation in trying to overturn the Plan B highway proposal.  We were told we were being Luddites who wanted to go back to horse-and-buggy days for resisting this.  New standards needed to be met, and we were "afraid of change".   We weren't afraid of change; we wanted responsible, attentive government, not a highway being built through sensitive areas, propped up by doctored data, and promoted to take advantage of "bargain" federal dollars; only it seems to be going through to reward certain landowners and companies.  (Not much change there.)  Even now sometimes an MLA will continue to read from this script of the "necessary change of Plan B" during the sitting of the Legislature. 

Regarding that "Change is Mandatory" quote:  Strangely, I can only find out that "Edward Denning" is former financial consultant and small renovations contractor in Ontario.  W. Edward Deming was a 20th century statistician and lecturer who wrote:
"No one has to change.  Survival is optional." 

However, here is a much better quote of Mr. Deming's, regarding change:

"To successfully respond to the myriad of changes that shake the world, transformation into a new style of management is required. The route to take is what I call profound knowledge—knowledge for leadership of transformation."

And if we look around, this Island has bright, caring people who will help with this transformation.  It just needs the rest of us to pay attention, discuss things, get the whole picture, and participate -- that's the "change" the PEI Citizens Alliance wants to be part of.

Hope you had a good Earth Day.

April 22, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Today is Earth Day, and few places is it more profound than on an island, where our land is finite and our decisions must exemplify stewardship.

Since Earth Day is always April 22, and this year on a Monday, some of the activities are spread out over the whole week, for more people to participate.

Earth Day activities

Here are some activities today and later: http://howtogetclimateaction.wordpress.com/earth-week-2013-2/

This afternoon MacPhail Woods is hosting an Earth Day Volunteer event, starting at 2PM, a wonderful place for ages: http://www.macphailwoods.org/event/earth-day-volunteer-event-at-macphail-woods/

Monday evening there are *two* very interesting talks on Climate Change going on from 7-9PM:

At the Arts Guild, 111 Queen Street:

Getting Action on Climate Change: What political parties, environmentalists and citizens need to do with former MPs Shawn Murphy and Bill Casey. lawyer Stephen Hazell, and car-sharing pioneer Pam Cooley. Megan Burnside will be the moderator.  https://www.facebook.com/events/595798597116436/

At the Confederation Centre Studio 1 (next to Mavors):
Earth Day Panel with provincial climate change coordinato
r Erin Taylor, UPEI's Dr. Adam Fenech, environmental consultant Don Jardine, and artist Catherine Miller. This talk is in conjunction with Catherine's show at the Art Gallery, Changing Environs (which runs until May 26).  http://www.confederationcentre.com/en/gallery-events.php

Tuesday, April 23rd, at 7PM, at Holland College, room 21C (Kent Street), admission by donation, Cinema Politica and Sierra Club Atlantic Canada present the movie:

Surviving Progress is "the story of human advancement as awe-inspiring and double-edged... With rich imagery and immersive soundtrack, filmmakers Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks launch us on journey to contemplate our evolution from cave-dwellers to space explorers." (86 minutes plus discussion afterwards) Trailer here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1462014/

More events later in the week, including the annual Earth Expo Saturday from 1-4PM at Murphy's Centre in Charlottetown.


A little different, is a contest regarding tractor photos to promote Dear John Deere, one of the Charlottetown Festival plays this summer. Part of the plot of the play is that a highway is being planned to go through the couple's farm. Sounds a little close to home. The gist of the contest is that they want photos of tractors, which are posted and voted on by viewers, and the top 20 entries receive tickets to the play. Someone mentioned once seeing a tractor with a Stop Plan B sign or bumper sticker, and wouldn't something like that make a great entry? The contest deadline is April 30th.

You have to find the green bar that screams "Contest" at the bottom of the page.

Have a great Earth Day. Hope you can spend part of it outside. We'll take a look to see what on Earth they are doing at Plan B.

April 21, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Some slightly connected thoughts:

Forests and Rivers

A letter in Friday's paper, from Island biologist, author and founding member of the Island Nature Trust, Ian MacQuarrie, on the value of healthy forests, with an subtle nod about the fallacy of Plan B:


Gary Schneider of ECO-PEI and MacPhail Woods Ecological Forestry Project spoke on this theme at the Watershed Alliance (WA) AGM yesterday in Hunter River. The Island was once mainly forest, and of course the riparian (river) areas thrived. Gary said forests are not just a crop, nor something to be completely removed; and any islander can improve any amount of woods -- mix in just a little bit of diversity, and just don't clearcut or plant monocultures!

Much information can be found at the MacPhail Woods site: http://www.macphailwoods.org/

select the "forestry" section, and consider bookmarking and reading a bit every day -- it's a straightforward way to learn about our Island woods and improving them. (Plus, MacPhail Woods is getting ready to open for the season, and so it's time to start thinking about any native trees or shrubs you might want to get from them.)

The fact that a bunch of people who volunteer across the island (or who are one of the few paid employees) working for their local watershed group would give up most of their Saturday speaks a lot for the Watershed Alliance, executive director Shawn Hill, the board, and their willingness to listen, discuss and advocate. Fred Cheverie of Souris deftly kept the program on time, and the sessions were interesting. Minister Janice Sherry and Environment Division Director Jim Young were there in the morning; Sherry spoke for a while on the important of watersheds (obviously she was preaching to the converted), and they answered the preselected questions -- the toughest being where is the action from the "Action Committee on Sustainable Land Practices" (the committee struck after the horrid fishkills). The answers had some actuality in them, but were wrapped in enough layers of rhetoric to eat up most of the time (no MLA Colin LaVie piping up with "Answer the Question!" as in Question Period).

The basic message was that government worked hard to keep funding for watershed groups, PEI gets lots more than any other Atlantic province gets (that does not say much of anything, though), they are working on past recommendations, and feds are pretty much to blame for any issue. She didn't get asked about Plan B -- it would have been a platform to declare how well mitigations are working, and I think she knows the WA's thoughts about Plan B (that the lack of public consultation for Plan B was wrong, the environmental damage unjustified, and Plan B was one of several similar disturbing trends in government decision-making last year).

The Watershed Alliance's website is: http://peiwatershedalliance.org/web/  and the top bar choice for "other news" is where there are announcements of interesting meetings and such related to watershed issues.

And a quick note on: Earth Day activities http://howtogetclimateaction.wordpress.com/earth-week-2013-2/  (more tomorrow)

April 20, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

This weekend is the deadline that Horace Carver, the commissioner of the Lands Protection Act review, has set for submissions from the public, so he can read and consider, and work on his report (due to Executive Council on June 30, I think). 

Any comments can be e-mailed to:

Just to visualize one aspect of the LPA, which is about non-resident limits of land ownership:
Four video maps
that were made to show the extent of non-resident ownership of land in particular areas. 
After some technical difficulties, the **one of the south shore (DeSable to Fernwood) is up and most of you may not have seen it.**  In these videos, a red transparency is put over the land that is held by non-residents and the video slowly "flies" over the area.  There may be a few variations in the placement of the names of locations, but you certainly get the "big picture".

The other three videos are along the east and west points of the Island, and of the north shore.  Spend a couple of minutes and take the tour.

And from the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission's website on the LPA and non-resident holdings:

A non-resident person or corporation, or a resident corporation must make application if the person or corporation will have an aggregate land holding

·         in excess of 5 acres, or

·         having a shore frontage in excess of 165 feet.

A non-resident person who acquires a land holding by gift, devise or inheritance from a spouse, sibling or direct descendent or ancestor is exempt from making application.


Roy Johnstone had a great letter in Friday's Guardian. 


Let's be good stewards

Published on April 19, 2013

The Lands Protection Act represented an enlightened, forward-thinking policy when it was introduced in 1982. Now, however, with over 33 per cent of Island land owned by corporations and over 10 per cent by non-residents, I would argue that the legislation needs to be more restrictive, not less, if we want to be able to protect our environment for future generations.
It's time to implement an upper limit on non-resident and corporate land holdings.

At the Crapaud meeting on April 9, the P.E.I. Potato Board argued for increased acreage limits. When questioned about their arguments, it was acknowledged that there are many factors affecting profitability of potato production on P.E.I. that won't be improved with higher acreage limits, one of the main factors being supply and demand.
The fact that other North American producers are now competing in the same markets that Island growers have traditionally held should be a warning to be cautious about increasing production.

Increasing potato acreage and thus total production may actually deflate the price. Other factors such as crop rotation, soil fertility and conservation; reduction of capital expenditures on fossil fuels, pesticides and fertilizer; and diversifying crops all affect profitability and should be seriously addressed before any increase to acreage holdings is contemplated.

There is no question that the potato industry is a major contributor to the Island economy, but it is disheartening that the industry expects to increase its profits while continuing to negatively impact our air, water and soil.
The potato industry on P.E.I. needs to rethink its corporate industrial model of farming and change to a more sustainable, ecologically based system.

Given that land is a finite resource and knowing that it is such a critical element in food production and the health of our water, air and forests, why are we willing to sell it off to the highest bidder?
We must rigorously maintain the "steadfast stewardship" of the Island, which was the motive for creating the Land Protection Act in the first place.

Roy Johnstone,
Argyle Shore

Many articulate arguments have been raised in this discussion.  If you would like to read some of them, please go to:

and the general information on the LPA is here on the PEI Citizens Alliance website


A snippet of a letter from Cathy Grant:
I believe that we have to rethink the adage "Go Big or Stay Home" .
I believe that PE Islanders need to change this.
 We need  to "Go Small AND Stay Home".
 Otherwise, we are going to lose an entire generation to Alberta.

And Cathy mentions an excellent speech recently brought to light again, made by Premier Alex Campbell in 1978, about how we really could achieve economic process.  This was 32 years ago, and it rings true today.  It is the first choice on this page:
even though former Premier Campbell is not submitting it to the LPA -- perhaps we should on his behalf?

Your comments, short or not, can be sent to:

Mr. Horace Carver, Q.C.
3 Brighton Road
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8

Telephone: (902) 620-3558
Fax: (902) 569-7545
Website: www.gov.pe.ca/lpa
Email: lpa@gov.pe.ca

He has certainly heard from very well-funded groups; it would be good if he hears from many Islanders about the future of our land for our children and grandchildren.

April 19, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Yesterday was a bit of a work day at a couple of the Plan B sites:

In Bonshaw, the drone of trucks and the thrum of the vibrating roller were heard, so they are planning on continuing chipping at bedrock. 

At Crawford's Brook:

Map of Plan B area, showing Crawford's Brook and Hemlock Grove.

All photos from yesterday, Thursday, April 18th.


View looking west over Crawford's Brook.

At the area with the leaky box culverts, a crew with an excavator prepared once again to divert Crawford's Brook out of the box culverts so the sections can be repaired. 

Crawford's Brook is here, really.  The hay they are spreading for mulch has hard a long winter and sounds like it's decomposed a bit.

Apparently, they will dig out along the sides to get access to these sides to try to reseal them so water won't get in the tops or sides before covering with gravel and many metres of shale.

I am not sure what is intended for the water leaking in from the bottom; the apparent lack of seal of the bottom and sides of the section allowed heavy, heavy silt to mix in with the material.

View inside box culvert, nicely branded by the manufacturer, partially drained of Crawford's Brook.  The contractor placed a rocky dirt mix on the floor of it originally in January, but *much* silt has flowed in since then.

Flapping seal tape on eastern side of box culvert. (Each section between black tape is about four feet wide, eight feet high, eight feet across. There are about 104 sections.)  The granular material is a coarsely ground glass mixture, which I think is acting like crushed rock. 
And looking east, with somebody's best friend:
Walking east, looking east to New Haven

What looks like a little metal dish in the center of the photo is a dumpster-sized construction box on the flat surface above Hemlock Grove.  The red Fairyland roof is up and to the left, and a dump truck goes east on the current TCH (top center). 

Yes, they are digging well, well, below the current TCH. 

Thanks to Cathy, Sarah and Cindy for photos and input.

April 18, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A list of upcoming events, needing no translation:

Tonight, Thursday, April 18th:
Two events that you could go to sequentially, if you wish:

  • An "Island-Wide Hospital Access" Rally, gathering between 6:30 - 6:45PM at Peaks' Quay, and marching towards the Legislature as the MLAs go for their evening sitting before 7PM. 
  • At 7:30PM, there is a information-sharing session regarding opposing GMO salmon egg production at the Rodd Charlottetown, free admission.  Alaskan State Representative Geran Tarr is one of the panelists, along with Sharon Labchuk and Leo Broderick from Islanders Say No to GM Fish, and Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.

The PEI Citizens Alliance has put together some resources on their webpage:

Saturday, April 20th:
(These would be a bit harder to do sequentially, but both look interesting)

  • NDP of PEI Convention Saturday, Rodd Charlottotown, registration starting at 8AM, with guest speaker Megan Leslie, MP for Halifax.  Megan has been attentive to Plan B, from her perch as Environment Critic and in wanting responsible government. For more information, call the NDP PEI office at 892-1930. There is admission at the door.


  • The Watershed Alliance AGM is rescheduled from last week's threat of bad weather.  This starts at 9AM at Hunter River Community Hall, behind Harmony House, 19186 Route 2, in Hunter River.  I am not sure about admission -- I do not think there is any, but will check.

Here is a bit of the agenda, with approximate times and items:
9:00 AM   Call to order and custodial remarks
9:15 AM   Opening message from the Honorable Janice Sherry, Minister: PEI Department of Environment, Labor and Justice
9:30 AM    Moderated question/answer session with the Minister (**note: the questions had to be pre-submitted and selected questions will be presented to Minister Sherry and Dept. of Environment's Director, Jim Young**) (!!)
10:00 AM - 1PM  Reading/approval: AGM 2012 Minutes,Coffee Break, Reports, board elections, lunch 
1:00 PM    Gary Schneider, Manager, MacPhail Woods Ecological Forestry Project - "Healthy Forests, Healthy Watersheds - The Importance of Forests for Watershed Health"
1:30 PM   Dr. Michael van den Heuvel, UPEI/ Canadian Rivers Institute - Northumberland Strait Environmental Monitoring Program
2:15 PM    Sarah Weston, Coordinator, Community University Research Alliance CURA H2O: Community-Based Integrated Water Monitoring and Management
2:45 PM    Bruce Smith and Cathy Corrigan, Winter River/Tracadie Bay Watershed Association - Water Extraction Impacts on Winter River
3:15 PM    Adjournment
    Full notes here:  http://peiwatershedalliance.org/web/

  • Saturday is the unofficial deadline for comments to the Lands Protection Act Commissioner, Horace Carver, at lpa@gov.pe.ca

April 17, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

From Gaius Cornelius Tacitus's Annals of Rome, written around 109 AD, translated from Latin by Alfred Church and William Brodribb

42. Nero meanwhile availed himself of his country's desolation, and erected a mansion in which the jewels and gold, long familiar objects, quite vulgarised by our extravagance, were not so marvellous as the fields and lakes, with woods on one side to resemble a wilderness, and, on the other, open spaces and extensive views. The directors and contrivers of the work were Severus and Celer, who had the genius and the audacity to attempt by art even what nature had refused, and to fool away an emperor's resources. They had actually undertaken to sink a navigable canal from the lake Avernus to the mouths of the Tiber along a barren shore or through the face of hills, where one meets with no moisture which could supply water, except the Pomptine marshes. The rest of the country is broken rock and perfectly dry. Even if it could be cut through, the labour would be intolerable, and there would be no adequate result. Nero, however, with his love of the impossible, endeavoured to dig through the nearest hills to Avernus, and there still remain the traces of his disappointed hope.

If you substitute "highway" for "canal", and switch dry for wet, it sounds a little too familiar....

and the original:
42. Ceterum Nero usus est patriae ruinis exstruxitque domum, in qua haud proinde gemmae et aurum miraculo essent, solita pridem et luxu vulgata, quam arva et stagna et in modum solitudinem hinc silvae, inde aperta spatia et prospetus, magistris et machinatoribus Severo et Celere, quibus ingenium et audacia erat etiam, quae natura denegavisset, per artem temptare et viribus principis inludere. namque ab lacu Averno navigabilem fossam usque ad ostia Tibernia depressuros promiserant squalenti litore aut per montes adversos. neque enim aliud umidum gignendis aquis occirrit quam Pomptinae paludes: cetera abrupta aut arentia, ac si perrumpi possent, intolerandus labor nec satis causae. Nero tamen, ut erat incredibilium cupitor, effodere proxima Averno iuga conisus est, manentque vestigia inritae spei.

Bene vale (Be well),
Chris O.,

April 16, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Here is a little bit about the DeSable TransCanada Highway work planned for this summer (generally, the area west of Bonshaw but east of Crapaud):

Alie Mills wrote that the folks who own the Blue Goose were told that construction will be to lower the grade along the TCH from near the intersection of Route 19 and South Melville Road (where the Ozendyke Bed & Breakfast is), past the DeSable Motel on the south side and on the north the Blue Goose Restaurant/ C&T Convenience Store and the attached building where District 17 MLA Valerie Docherty has her constituency office, towards the abandoned frozen pizza factory. It does not appear to include the DeSable bridge or the curve going toward Hampton (the community with the one turn down to Victoria, and Peter Bevan-Baker's dental clinic).

The owner of the Goose has wanted to put in a gas bar for quite a while, especially as the owner of the pump in Hampton decided to stop selling gas.

By the way the Goose, one of a series of restaurants along the South Shore with a coloured avian theme, is a great place to stop in for lunch, a newspaper and baked goods, or pretty much anything else you may need. The owners run a nice business in an area where -- blind turn or not -- it's straight road and traffic just screams by.

This area has been on a list to upgrade, I remember being told a few years ago; but I think I missed hearing about any sort of public consultation before plans were made. Minister Vessey told the Opposition during a Question Period they could ask about specific projects like DeSable when going over the budget estimates, but when asked during budget estimates about other TCH projects by the Opposition Leader, Minister Vessey said:

"and if there are more gateway dollars to come available, we’ll be looking at that and we’ll be working on it well through the Capital Budget, as well, on fixing areas with as much resources as we possibly can within our budget."

From TIR's website, an interactive (and prehistoric from a technicalviewpoint) map of construction projects: 


DeSable, nor Plan B for that matter, is not indicated on this map.

April 15, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A little more on the Lands Protection Act, as the informal deadline of this Saturday, April 20th, has been set by the Commissioner, Horace Carver, for public submissions.

Better background than what I can write: http://www.watchpei.org/is/lands-protection/

and here are the Terms of Reference, provided by Executive Council, that he was asked to follow in his review **and what he wants public input on**: http://www.gov.pe.ca/lpa/index.php?number=1045314&lang=E

which can be summarized sloppily:
1) should acreage limits change?
2) should he recommend red-tape reduction for landowners (mainly large farms where leasing goes on)?
3) other areas of the legislation seems creaky on (easement for utilities, multiple-owner properties, etc.)
4) and anything that Mr. Carver thinks needs addressing (like valuing our vistas, e.g.)

Basically Mr. Carver is hearing very loudly and clearly from the organizations that represent larger potato growers on PEI (The Federation of Agriculture, the PEI Potato Board) that they cannot make a living with the current acreage as they cannot compete with potato growing areas like Washington State; without raising the limits they feel the crop rotation (of potatoes only once in three years) to be very limiting, as to them there is little value in forage (hay) or grain crops. They recommend the acreage go up from 1,000 to 1,500 acres (private) and 3,000 to 4,500 acres (corporate). My math (change over original x100) says that's a 50% increase. I believe the Executive Director of the Federation of Agriculture called it a small increase during one of the presentations earlier.

The public meeting I attended was very interesting (Crapaud on April 9th), as gentlemen from the PEI Potato Board made a presentation and then answered questions from the audience. They felt that the amount of nitrates in the groundwater would not be increased with increased acreage, nor other issues of topsoil loss or pesticide runoff would be exacerbated.

In 2009, acreage limits *were* raised when the farmers were allowed to exchange non-arable land (or non-farmable -- like woods, wetlands, etc.) for arable land. Apparently this resulted in about a one-third increase in production acres, and nobody has really measured the effects of this change.

Another interesting fact that came out was that there is only 75% compliance with the three-year rotation, anyway. This leads to the second Term of Reference for Mr. Carver, which is looking to see if "red tape" could be reduced. It's hard to know how information like this would be quantified if it weren't for some of the "red-tape" reporting.

A talented and patient fellow who does map work for the government used the maps of non-resident ownership and made "fly-over" videos.  This page has three -- there is one of the Crapaud area I am checking on not up yet -- and they are interesting to watch: http://www.gov.pe.ca/mapp/index.php?number=1046743&lang=E

What to see what others have written? Here are some submissions to Mr. Carver that we have filed with the authors' permission:

And Elwin Wyand of the National Farmers' Union -- very much against increases -- in the current Eastern Graphic:

And a very heartfelt piece by John Hopkins in The Guardian this week:

OK, so consider dropping a note to Horace at lpa@gov.pe.ca before his deadline of this weekend.
In other news, Saturday's Guardian had an interesting column on MLA salaries with a lot of background in a pleasant format by Alan Holman:

and no, it was not April 1st, reading the column on the same page titled: "Too Rural for Our Own Good". A bit of head-shaker.

Have a good day -- more about the Plan B site soon,

April 14, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

CBC *usually* does a bit of homework on their Plan B stories, instead of just converting a press release from a department's media contact or talking to one person in a department, but it was a Friday afternoon and all.

From Compass Friday night, a very brief note (about 8:50 into the broadcast): http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/ID/2376440693/  (about 8:50 into the broadcast)

A quote from the story: << "...Transportation and Environment officials are doing work at the Plan B TransCanada Realignment site to ensure against environmental issues during spring rain.  The work includes tightening silt fences and cutting through bedrock.">>>

(I am not sure how cutting through bedrock is going to ensure against environmental issues during spring rain.)

The item continues by saying the Department of Transportation has decided to put in a right-turning-lane onto Green Road from Charlottetown (the road that heads toward the Bonshaw Community Centre).  "Has decided" could use a bit of background:  Plan B extended the length of the original Strathgartney "Plan A realignment" greatly, and included a fairly indefensible expansion of the bridge in Bonshaw.  Concrete tenders went out for the vertical "I-beams" to enlarge the bridge by one lane in July of 2012, well before the Environmental Impact Assessment was out and any sort of approval was given.  I believe the same company that made the box culvert was awarded the contract to make the I-beams.

Originally, the first detailed Plan B map showed the "new" lane being a second east-bound towards Charlottetown. Any resident of the are knows the tricky part is coming from town, turning right onto Green Road, and having a tractor trailer on your back-end.  The only part to turn onto Green from Plan B was a little "slipway."  Residents pointed this out, argued, sent comments, etc.  (Something about as it was all about safety.)  The Bonshaw Community Council repeatedly requested the opportunity for input, and polled affected residents about the intersection. It appears TIR has agreed. 
 In Saturday's Guardian page C-10 is an ad calling for tenders for the summer's road construction, including DeSable.  Have any of you, especially local residents of the area, heard *anything* about the "Route 2 DeSable, District 17 - Reconstruction 1.4km"  DeSable reconstruction", as it is called?  (Route 2???)

Here is a silt fence and apparent rain gauge, taken in early March 2013, near where Plan B and "south Peter's Road" meet.

April 12, 2013

Cindy Richards' Environmental Report -- Facebook


April 12 update: The powers that be are aware that the box culverts are defective and are allowing for the release of sediment into the waterways. Although we are told that this will be addressed at some point possibly next week.... one would expect that if there was a true commitment to protecting the environment that failed mitigations, ----as seen from these pics--- found just downstream the boxes would be repaired and ramped up. Silt trap has lost its trapping abilities and filtering berm is blown out.


A result of the recycled glass drainage aggregate, pieces of plastics, metals, paper that was crushed along with glass

Chunks of concrete debris from spalling boxes


Construction debris.....

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Friday musings on government (but more on the Lands Protection Act tomorrow):

Lloyd Pickering says scrapping Plan B and putting that money towards hospitals would save more lives:

The recent hospital announcements, the challenges the dialysis people had to go through when dealing with the first decision to close rural dialysis, HST and Plan B are all examples of the government action plan of Decide Behind Closed Doors, Declare It, and Defend It and sometimes (depending on the Minister) Denigrate those who oppose.

But could they Stop Plan B??
Of course; other projects have been stopped when they were further along.

Could we scrap it? What would happen?
Construction companies could focus on fixing the existing roads of PEI, and there would likely be *more* Islanders employed doing that than spending money on impact hammers and articulated dump trucks.

How much money could be saved?

*At least* half. It's apparent that they are certainly not half done. But no one really knows the actual revised schedule how much money has been spent or is projected to having to be spent on Plan B.

What would they do with the land they have bought?

Offer it back to the original owners first, and even without a new road, work on a trail system both south of the TCH and north -- this would get people outside appreciating nature and being active. (Do you still wonder how many MLAs have actually hiked around the area?)
Rip up the problematic box culvert, and replant, replant, replant. We have a wonderful provincial forestry nursery and excellent places like MacPhail Woods to supply stock.

What about fixing up the current TCH?
There is still overwhelming evidence that simple fixes of signs, edge rumble strips, proper banking, and adjusting the speed limit are all effective and much cheaper.

Some provincial government Ministers kept saying their experts told them that government would be liable for damages caused by accidents on a declared unsafe road. Isn't that still true?
A very smart Islander once paraphrased, "Liability is the last refuge of scoundrels" (with apologies to Samuel Johnson); I wonder how a government could be liable when one department admits they padded data statistics?

What kind of signal would that send to the Harper government to reject government money?
That PEI has remembered its cultural identity -- its independence, and its past and possible future of self-sufficiency.

April 11, 2013

A bad news government --The Guardian Letter to the Editor

It's kind of ironic that we have a bad news Liberal Ghiz government gang in our province bringing in the HST while the British Columbia government phases it out. It's also very unfortunate for us that this government is very incompetent in the way it manages our tax dollars in a reckless manner.

This Ghiz government and Sheridan claim they don't want to hurt Islanders, but I think that's exactly what they're going to do. You cannot take massive amounts of tax dollars out of Islanders' pockets and not hurt us. It doesn't make any sense. It appears to be very hypocritical of this government to tell us what seems like absolute truths to fill their own agendas.

What about the hospitals this Liberal government is supposed to be closing on the western and eastern ends of our province? To me, it would make more sense to scrap the Plan B highway project and this money redirected to keep these hospitals open instead. I believe more lives would be saved keeping the hospitals open for these Islanders than the Plan B highway ever will.

I think by not keeping these hospitals open, the Ghiz government shows strong disregard and disrespect to these Islanders on the eastern and western areas of our province. Unfortunately, this government doesn't seem to care about Islanders and their families, but they do a great job at pretending that they do care.

Lloyd W. Pickering, Kensington

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Four weeks ago melt and rain caused some serious failures of the Environmental Protection Plan's specifications for various areas along the Plan B site.

Here are the documentary videos links, again, from the home page of the Stop Plan B website:

*But* the Department of Transportation has a page with a reassuring update:

Despite saying "New Haven and Bonshaw", the two photos they show are above Hemlock Grove, in Churchill, going east and uphill towards the parking areas.

Here is a map of Plan B in red (note, the Google Earth image is a few years old -- before construction):

Here is what things are really like, going east to west:
Fairyland ravine:
Cindy reports that some skiffy work was hastily done a few days after the berm broke in Fairyland to scrape the rocks and such back up around the Fairyland culvert, and that rock "fences" were placed where the sediment fence failed so miserably.  Other than that, not much.  Still, the excavator time and rock cost something -- how is that accounted for?

Hemlock Grove (Crawford's Stream):
(See above)  Granite rock piles made and moved around.  More additional mitigation costs.

In addition to water flowing back and forth between the box sections, the concrete boxes in Crawford's Brook have a lot of irregularities that appeared since January -- they were not built to sit out in the winter uncovered -- but the contractor is going to inspect and fix things, we are told.

Here are a few pictures of the boxes from a few days ago:

The box culvert at what was Crawford's Brook, April 2013.

The downstream end of the box culvert.  This pocking has appeared since winter.
Between two box culvert sections -- water is flowing out of the culvert (and drains in, depending on amount), in joints that are supposed to be water tight.  Not sure how that is going to be fixed by the contractor, Hy-Span.

Occasionally, digging with excavators (with the teeth or with a special impact hammer) takes place in Bonshaw, and piles of ripped up bedrock are left until the lake of water clears away and the articulated dump trucks can really move around.

Two excavators on break.  The one on the left is fitted with an impact hammer, the impact part being the metal-looking drill almost between the tracks.
Piles of sandstone bedrock, broken up with impact hammer or excavator teeth at a rate of about one wheelbarrow-load at a time.
Remember, the Stantec Environmental Impact Assessment said there was over 60% exposed bedrock in this area.  They may have done sloppy work and cut-and-pasted parts of their EIA from their other projects, but Stantec got the geologic formations described accurately.

Time to keep asking how can this project be on budget and on schedule, with the (new) budget and schedule to prove it.

April 10, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The usual setting -- gym floor, chairs, handouts.

Here is a brief summary of last night at the Lands Protection Act public meeting in Crapaud, from **Cathy Grant** (thank you, Cathy).

I attended Horace Carver's Land Use Protection Act Consultation in Crapaud (Englewood School) tonight. I was impressed by Mr. Horace Carver's even tone and in his interest to hear all views. Obviously, there are opposing points of view, and a long history of land use in PEI to deliberate upon. I observed inspiring presentations from Peter Bevan-Baker (Green Party), Mary Boyd, and Harry Baglole. The PEI Tourism Assc. is interested in protecting and promoting rural, historic vistas. I truly support them on this, but where were they when the Bonshaw Hills took such a hit via Plan B? !

Good comments from Catherine Russell directed toward the PEI Potato Board...really, how can PEI expect to compete toe to toe in potato production with Washington and Dakota states? As Stuart MacLean (via CBC's Vinyl Cafe) always says about Dave's record store: "We're not big, but we're small."
(I know there were many other comments that I missed because I left at 9:30.) Proud to be an Islander tonight! Thanks to those of you standing up for our beautiful, fragile Island.

Cathy Grant, by the way, has been involved in fighting Plan B for a very long time.  She was *everywhere* waving signs, providing sustenance to the other sign-wavers and to the folks hanging out at Hemlock Grove (in fact, she was one of those wonderful people who would not leave Hemlock Grove the afternoon the RCMP were called in), and was instrumental in the concert and fundraisers in November and March.  She continues to provide excellent observations as the PEI Citizens Alliance moves along.

Cathy Grant, with Lisa Murphy's Last Stand painting earlier this year, making fund-raising efforts look glamorous. 

More comments on the LPA meetings in the next days, when I am done yawning (last night's session ended about 11PM!).

April 9, 2013

Larry Cosgrave's Environmental Update -- Facebook


Fines still seeping into box culverts, sedimentation continues unabated - these boxes are the bane of many of us and likely even for TIR as well....maybe not.


Mitigating the mitigations! ....where the blown out silt pond and failed silt fences used to be at the Grove.

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Our MLAs at work:
From Thursday afternoon's (April 4) session, when the government members were supposed to be commenting on an Opposition Motion related to the HST and the effects on small businesses.  The discourse was rather rambling, but here is one part that stood out:

Minister of Education and Early Childhood Learning (Alan McIsaac): (bold mine)
We talked about the roads. The famous Plan B now is a road that we were told by our engineers was unsafe, was built to 1952 standards. They said to us: If there’s an accident on that, you’re responsible. Now the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal has addressed this on many occasions. It’s a change that had to be made, not because we want to straighten all the roads in the province, but because our engineers tell us that is unsafe. It has never been dealt with by previous governments. We need to do that. They also tell us that there are other sections of that Trans-Canada
that are unsafe as well and they need to be changed.
We also at the time were able to receive financing so we could cost-share that as a one-time deal for that section of road. We were very lucky to have that so we saved half the cost of doing that and it was great work done by the minister with regards to that. A lot of complaints have come forward with regards to that but it’s a change that we had to make.

OK, OK,  we get the talking point that they can defend Plan B with a simplistic and untrue statement: "it's a change that had to be made."
 Lots of money spent on media relations, huh?

(And they are still saying the engineers said the TCH in Churchill -New Haven was unsafe -- does Minister McIssac acknowledge TIR's engineers used falsified data to justify "the famous" Plan B?)

Blogger and journalist Marco Lapegna talks about McIsaac's opinions on a discussion of progressivism on a YouTube video:
about 9 minutes into the commentary is the Plan B part, if your time is limited. 

The Legislature sits Tuesday through Friday of this week.  Today, Wednesday and Thursday things start a bit after 2PM, with announcements and Question Period, and go until 5PM.  Tuesday and Thursday have 7-9PM sessions, too, and the final session of the week is Friday, 10AM to 1PM, if you would like to attend.
Have a good day -- stop into the LPA discussion in Crapaud, 7PM, tonight, if you can. Here is an evocative snippet from the well-thought-out submission by the National Farmers Union (more of their submission later):

<<More people are insisting on thoughtful planning so that communities can have the safe, quiet space which land provides them. The outrage of the "continuous" opposition to "Plan B" is a new moment in Island land history. It has solidified the concept of the public good. Opposition to "Plan B" took into consideration many aspects of land as a common good: from the perspective of ancient cultures, ancient growth, clean rivers, farmland, beauty of the landscape, the future of children, the power of the people to give the land a voice, and democratic processes. >>

April 8, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Now some rather scattered thoughts about the Lands Protection Act (LPA) and why people would want to pay attention to any revisiting of it, attend the last of the public meetings, and consider writing a comment.

Some background, hopefully accurate:  Being an island, land is finite, and there is a lot of history (since European settlement) about non-resident land owners in the Island's past ; so our historical perspective on this is different from a lot of places, like....Kansas.

There was a lot of discussion of land protection in the 1970s, when the amount of land being sold to non-residents was increasing.  The Lands Protection Act was passed in 1982, and Horace Carver, who had been a cabinet minister, was instrumental in the original legislation.  This was the first of its kind in Canada, and was not favoured by the federal government; but PEI maintained this was about its own identity, thank you very much.

Here is Mr. Carver's mandate now -- worth a quick look:
And two maps, very eye-opening, of existing non-resident and corporate land holdings (actually, it's hard to tell if these are 1983 or more current):

What is good about this is that the public has been welcomed to participate in the process.   We don't have all the answers, but we can remind Mr. Carver this is about our Island's cultural identity.

He has to present these findings by June 30 of this year.  And, well, yes, Executive Council may totally ignore his findings and ideas, but that may not be enough reason *not* to participate.

One part of the LPA is limiting the amount of acreage that can be owned by an individual or corporation.   Mr. Carver is hearing from some farmers saying that of course the limits need to be extended -- this is a continuation of the "Get Big or Get Out" mentality of Earl Butz and other US and Canadian agriculture political leaders in the 1970s.  Horace Carver and Islanders need to hear their rationale for the requested increases, and decide if that is the future face of farming we want.

This is also a chance to tell Mr. Carver that government isn't doing such a great job taking care of the land -- fishkills without any real plan to reduce events this summer (related to run-off from fields), Climate Change happening without thinking how this will affect coastlines nor setting money aside for culvert replacement, the whole idea of the words "Lands Protection" when the government does something like Plan B.  Any changes to the LPA could include ways to support small farmers and diversified farms.  PEI is a fantastic place to explore this -- it is part of our history.

This is about more that how many acres one can have.  It is about what kind of land culture we want on PEI, and having the invitation to take part in the discussion. 

The last meetings:

·  Charlottetown - Rodd Charlottetown, 75 Kent Street
Monday, April 8, 7 to 9:30 p.m. (Storm Date: April 15)

·  Crapaud - Englewood School, 20280 Trans Canada Highway
Tuesday, April 9, 7 to 9:30 p.m. (Storm Date: April 10)

·  Wellington - Vanier Community Centre, 48 Mill Road, Saturday, April 13, 2 to 4:30 p.m.

  • Address for comments:
  • Mr. Horace Carver, Q.C.
  • 3 Brighton Road

·         PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8

Telephone: (902) 620-3558
Fax: (902) 569-7545
Website: www.gov.pe.ca/lpa
Email: lpa@gov.pe.ca

A mixed field along the Plan B site in Churchill. 

In the next few weeks we will print or link to submissions from other groups to the LPA commission, for more information.

And tonight is the annual meeting of the Central Queens Wildlife Federation, which is the West River Watershed group, at 7PM at Bonshaw Community Centre.

April 6, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Here is Bruno Peripoli's courageous letter:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letters-to-editor/2013-04-05/article-3213770/Protecting-the-environment-going-to-cost-money/1  (
see below April 5)


Notices from the Watershed Alliance, which may be about AGMs of various groups, or meetings of concern to watershed issues (as in fracking), etc.


Still lots of interesting things to pass on -- more tomorrow,

April 5, 2013

Protecting the environment going to cost money -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Are you like me in wondering what an environment minister does?

We used to hear that elected politicians were so capable that they could handle any department. They were supposed to be highly talented individuals with a burning desire to serve the public and promote the goals of their department.

After fish kills last summer an “action committee” was formed because, in the words of Janice Sherry, P.E.I. Environment minister, “Islanders want an end to fish kills” and “...to protect the wildlife and water resources that belong to all Islanders”. (Guardian July 23, 2012).

Agriculture Minister George Webster added on the same day, “Preventing fish kills is a priority for all Islanders...”

The committee reported in February and a key recommendation called for a $200,000 per year environmental impact fund to buy agricultural land along streams and rivers to take them out of production.

Can you believe the following response about funding for this?

“I would say it would be very premature for me to even venture a guess on that.

“I would say that it would not be considered in this year’s budget”: Janice Sherry (Guardian Feb. 23, 2013)

How’s that for action? Did she not think that protecting the environment might cost money? Did she not alert Wes Sheridan that her department needs money or did he just say no?

By the way, Wes Sheridan announced last week that he “sold a Testori loan” at a loss of $ 8 million dollars.

If you do the math, this single disaster could have financed this buyback program for 40 years. The $12 million spent on Plan B would take care of  60 years. Now that would have been action “to protect the wildlife and water resources that belong to all Islanders”.

Where are the priorities? Where is the drive and talent?

It’s obvious we have ministers who are highly paid but are not highly qualified or motivated.

Bruno Peripoli, Cardigan

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A big problem many people have with the HST is not just the tax grab, the federal "bait", and the haphazard things it exempts, but that it was implemented by a government who pledged they were not in negotiations with the federal government when they obviously were.  No public consultation before it was announced as a Done Deal -- the same "Decide-in-secret--Do it--Defend" strategy as with Plan B.

Today at 1:30PM at the Murphy Centre, the Islanders Against HST group will have a press conference about their court proceedings, AND leader Cindy Baird's interview for the show "The 180" (about Vancouver repealing the HST the same day PEI implemented it) will be broadcast at 1PM Friday and Sunday at 9PM on CBC Radio One.


OK, *tomorrow* I will discuss Lands Protection Act information, but a couple of clips from Wednesday's proceedings in the Provincial Legislature are interesting enough to mention here.  From Question Period and then from later on in the afternoon (some bolding and comments in black are mine):

HANSARD  (transcribed House Records)  PEI LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY    3 APRIL 2013  page 1066-67

Questions by Members

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition (Stephen Myers)

Plan B

Leader of the Opposition: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I have a question for the transportation minister. Can he please give us an update on the Plan B project?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

Mr. Vessey: Madam Speaker, the update on the Plan B project is it will proceed as soon as the frost is out of the ground.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Leader of the Opposition: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Will the minister give us the figures for the provincial and federal funding parts to Plan B this year?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

Mr. Vessey: Madam Speaker, could he repeat the question?  I couldn’t hear him there.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Leader of the Opposition: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I’m wondering could you provide for us the figures, both the federal part and the provincial part, that will be spent on Plan B this year.

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

Mr. Vessey: Madam Speaker, we know the opposition are against safe highways in our province.

I think we heard that last night here on the floor of the House when the hon. Member from Tignish-Palmer Road called it a curve in the road.

We on this side of the House, we take our highway infrastructure seriously. We invest in it, and we also invest in things like school buses for our children, which the hon. member, when his party was in power, they didn’t do that. We also invest in manors so

our seniors wouldn’t have to wear hard hats when they come into their senior homes.

Madam Speaker, our government stands by its record and we’ll stick to that.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Leader of the Opposition: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Perhaps the minister here will be reading from a statement tomorrow, like his seatmate there, updating me on the actual details on this.


Here is what Hal Perry, MLA for Tignish-Palmer Road, said on Tuesday that Minister Vessey was referring to:

Hal Perry:  (in talking about water quality issues) The use of pesticides is being looked at and land management practices are being reviewed. Our province has experienced many examples of the impact of intense rainfall events, which have resulted in our rivers having fish kills. The department of transportation and public works has in recent years implemented policies and procedures aimed at reducing the amount of runoff that occurs during construction. Although one has to question the effectiveness of these efforts, in the Bonshaw area, where the $24 million curve in the road is being built, the photos of the runoff and broken down pumps and red water pouring into the streams certainly is cause for alarm. The destruction that has occurred to our ecosystem in that area is one that will be felt for a long time into the future. It is even more tragic because, as we all know, it was not necessary. But that issue will be addressed another day.

and HANSARD    PEI LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY    from Wednesday, March 27, 2013, pp. 990-991

James Aylward: The $24 million on the curve in Bonshaw, which in all reality will probably come in closer to about $34 million by the time it’s completed, is a prime example of unnecessary spending, and someday we hope that Islanders will have a full accounting for the cost of this project, and the decisions that were made. All I know is that it was not a priority just a few short years ago when government was looking to put the Cornwall bypass in.


2)  Later Wednesday afternoon, during looking at the Department of Environment's budget, this exchange between the Opposition Environment Critic and Minister Janice Sherry on Plan B, and what might be scary news regarding fracking.

The hon. Member from Souris-Elmira.

Mr. LaVie: Minister, are you aware of any plans for PetroWorth or Corridor Resources to do any fracking in the next year or the next few years?

Ms. Sherry: I haven’t received any requests or letters in regards to anybody who is interested in fracking on Prince Edward Island to date.

Mr. LaVie: So, Chair, I wonder if the minister – or the agreement for PetroWorth, are they expired?

Ms. Sherry: That is a name that I have not heard anything of since I’ve been minister. I can certainly find out. But I know that I have not received a request or a letter in regards to any fracking on Prince Edward Island.

If there was a request that would come through in regards to fracking it would have to undergo an environmental impact assessment.

Mr. LaVie: So there are no requests in now?

Ms. Sherry: No, there are absolutely no requests on my desk for fracking.

Mr. LaVie: Chair, I wonder if the minister can explain fracking to me, how it works.

Ms. Sherry: Basically, it’s a drilling process where they put a bit down into the ground, and it’s used to disrupt the levels of shale for the purpose of finding gas in the core of the soil.

Mr. LaVie: Is that a new process or an old process?

Ms. Sherry: I think that probably the process that they use now for fracking is potentially different then it was 25 years ago. But I think that the term fracking has always been used to refer to removing minerals or gases out of the earth.

Mr. LaVie: Do you deem that to be dangerous to the water?

Ms. Sherry: I would say that I would have concerns, absolutely. I know that I’ve watched a lot of coverage in regards to fracking in other parts of the country and other parts of the world. I guess you always have to keep in mind the source of the information, who is giving the information and from what side. I’d say that for – my own personal opinion doesn’t come in to play, it would have to be a decision or thoughts through a process of exact science. We are watching what’s happening in New Brunswick and we are still waiting to finish reviewing the federal report in regards to fracking, the science side.

As it stands now, I don’t have the request on my desk. When that time comes there will be a process in place. I keep my mind open;

I listen to all of the information that I can in regards to fracking. My biggest concern, I would have to say, is the water. The amount of water used in the process of fracking that I have a lot of questions about.

Chair (Paula Biggar for this part of the proceedings): The hon. Member from Souris- Elmira.

Mr. LaVie: Chair, the minister mentioned New Brunswick. Do you think we have the same big rock in New Brunswick as we do on the Island?

(Chris here:  I think he said "bedrock".)

Ms. Sherry: I would say absolutely not.

Mr. LaVie: Absolutely not?

Ms. Sherry: Absolutely not.

Mr. LaVie: Did you ever have anybody in any of these companies, from PetroWorth or Corridor, to explain fracking?

Ms. Sherry: No.

Mr. LaVie: You haven’t?

Ms. Sherry: No.

Mr. LaVie: How long have you been minister of environment?

Ms. Sherry: I was sworn in as the Minister of Environment, Labour and Justice I believe November 13th of last year.

Mr. LaVie: That’s 2011. You don’t think it’s important to have somebody in to talk on fracking?

Ms. Sherry: I guess from my perspective we run a very large department. There are a large number of issues on any given day. If the opportunity was one that was of relatively pending concern, as minister I would be obtaining all of that information prior to any decisions being made. We do have enough issues on the table at this time and my method has always been to deal with what’s right in front of us and in the near future. That’s what I intend to do.

I have great people who work in the department who I feel have great expertise. It may not be me directly who is gathering or sitting in on briefings, but certainly the staff in environment recognize that fracking

is an issue of interest and concern to Canadians and certainly Islanders.

Chair: Anything further?

The hon. Member from Souris-Elmira.

Mr. LaVie: Yes, thanks, Chair.

Did you ever go out to speak to watershed groups?

Ms. Sherry: I’ve been to one of their annual meetings and I think I’m due to go back within the next couple of weeks. I had a number of watershed groups that I have met with across the province, yes.

Mr. LaVie: Chair, I wanted the minister – did they ever mention fracking at these group meetings?

Ms. Sherry: I have been involved with very high level discussions, not necessarily with people in the watershed groups, but Islanders have asked me about fracking and shared their feeling about fracking to me, whether they’re in a watershed group or not.

Mr. LaVie: If any company came to us or to you on the Island for fracking, would you have public meetings?

Ms. Sherry: I would say that if anyone came to our department looking for – they would be looking for a permit to frack. In that process there would be an environmental impact assessment which would have to happen as part of it, and part of that process would definitely be public consultation.

Mr. LaVie: So would you have public consultation before or after?

Ms. Sherry: It’s part of the process. It would be part of the process as it was for the realignment of the Trans-Canada Highway. You have to have the public consultation prior to the final approval. It’s part of the process.

Mr. LaVie: So you’d have it before the final approval?

Ms. Sherry: Yes. It is part of that.

Mr. LaVie: Would it be the same as Plan B or would it be the opposite? Would you listen to the public or would you listen to your own?

Ms. Sherry: I’m not quite sure what your question is there.

Mr. LaVie: Well, Plan B, you never listened to the public.

Ms. Sherry: Pardon me?

Mr. LaVie: Plan B, you never listened to the public.

Ms. Sherry: We absolutely did listen to the public. Now if you’re talking from the proponents – I won’t answer the questions in regards to the proponents which is –

Leader of the Opposition: (Indistinct).

Ms. Sherry: Madam Chair?

Chair: Could we just stay to the topic here on this?

Ms. Sherry: When I think of Plan B and I think of the history of Plan B, there was public consultation right from the beginning in regards to what projects where. I remember the process, which was well over a year before any work had started, where the headlines in the paper were that government listens to Islanders saying that they were going to change the direction of the realignment and go around Strathgartney, because Islanders felt very passionate and were very sure that they did not want it to go through Strathgartney Park.

There came the second design or realignment and there was public consultation. It was very important to me as the minister of environment to ensure that every person who had an issue in relation to the realignment of the Trans-Canada Highway were heard and responded to. I can tell you that I think we left 10 days after the public meeting as a cutoff point for any public feedback.

If my memory serves me correctly, I believe there was around 265 concerns brought forward by the public. One hundred and fifty-one of those concerns were not related to the environment, they were questions of

cause, etc., that would be responsibility of the proponent themselves. I believe that there were 98 of those questions that were already answered in the original EIA, and 18 that required addressing in the second draft of the EIA from our department.

So I do believe that the public was listened to and heard.

Chair: (Indistinct) next section. Anything else under this?

Mr. LaVie: Not right now, no.

An Hon. Member: (Indistinct).

Chair: Yes, I’m just checking with this member.

An Hon. Member: Okay.

Chair: The hon. Member from Stratford- Kinlock, you had a question in relation to this section?

Mr. Aylward: Yes, thank you, Madam Chair.

I’m just wondering if the minister could verify whether or not there are any lands here on PEI that are currently being held or in trust for future fracking processing, or process?

Ms. Sherry: I’m sure you’d like an honest answer to that.

Mr. Aylward: I’m not used to it, but sure, let’s give it a shot.

Some Hon. Members: Oh, oh!

Ms. Sherry: From my perspective, I have not heard of any land that’s being held on Prince Edward Island for fracking.

Mr. Aylward: So you have not heard personally?

Ms. Sherry: Nobody has ever indicated to me – my director of environment, any of my staff, broad or deep, have ever mentioned to me that there is land being held in the Province of Prince Edward Island for the purpose of fracking.

Mr. Aylward: Okay, Madam Chair.


Sorry that was SO long, but I hope it was a bit revealing -- the Opposition is trying, and the government is really spinning things.    If you want to watch the actual debates, the video archives are here: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/video/archives/index.php

Link to Hansard transcripts: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/hansard/index.php

First it was Stop Plan B, and now we need to "watch PEI" for decisions being made that may not be in the best interest of Islanders and our Island.

And let's hope we don't get a lot of rain tonight!

April 4, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Here are some upcoming events that might be of interest to you:

Monday, April 8th:  Lands Protection Act public meeting in Charlottetown, at the Rodd Charlottetown on Kent Street, 7-9:30PM

That same night is the Central Queens Wildlife Federation (West River Watershed) AGM at the Bonshaw Community Center at 7PM.  Many watershed groups are hosting their AGMs this month, and the PEI Watershed Alliance does a great job posting notices:


Under "Alliance News" there is a link to click to see notices from other sources -- lots going on and it is good to know what's going on in your local watershed!

Tuesday, April 9th: Lands Protection Act public meeting in Crapaud, 7-9:30PM, Englewood School.  *This is an important meeting for people in the extended area to try to attend, even for a little while*, as the reevaluation of this Act does seem to have more opportunities for public input then some other things in the past year. 

Lands Protection Act Website link: http://www.gov.pe.ca/lpa/  And tomorrow I will discuss what does this have to do with Plan B.

Saturday, June 8th: an afternoon about "Knowing Your Rights When Demonstrating", sponsored by the PEI Citizens Alliance.  This may be useful for all kinds of activities in the future, and will be similar to the Freedom of Information workshop in February.

April 3, 2013

Disregarding rural P.E.I. -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

This letter is intended for Premier Robert Ghiz, in regards to his blatant abuse of and disregard for not only the people of Souris, but for rural Islanders as a whole.

It is with a heavy heart that I read recently that Souris Hospital will be no longer delivering acute care. To deliver such a crushing blow to a town that needs the premier's support today more than ever is to make a mockery of the people of Souris.

It seem Mr. Ghiz has forgotten that Prince Edward Island doesn't end when you leave Charlottetown.

Of course I expect him to respond with the same reasoning he is so well-versed in when it comes to defending whatever act of political buffoonery he has been able to formulate: the money isn't there, hard economic times, etc., etc. Well, I fail to see how he can reconcile such outrageous claims as while I write, the machines are whirring on the Plan B project. He is certainly doing a good job in ensuring that newly minted graduates of universities seek employment elsewhere.

The fact has come to be that rural Prince Edward Island is no place for young educated people to return to. He has been certain to quell any hopes of reinvigorating what was once a vibrant province.

It seems perhaps the only the only upside to the current provincial government is that with the new ‘improvements' being implemented in Bonshaw, it will make the exodus of Islanders that much smoother.

Nathan Paton, Souris, St. Thomas University student, Fredericton, N.B.

Chris Ortenburger's Update

(Hold on:  this update is filled with alphabet soup)

I think a lot of us have complaints about the Plan B Complaints Management System:  this is the process, run by the Environmental Management Section of the Department of Transportation (TIR), outlined in the Environmental Protection Plan (EPP) for Plan B, where people can submit concerns or complaints about the environmental issues related to the project.  There is an e-mail address (gateway@gov.pe.ca) and phone number (675-7490).

Transportation is in charge of the whole project, though Environment had to give final approval (Minister Vessey's boast of The Done Deal is unfortunately realized), so Transportation is also in charge of the "environmental management".

Here is their "Protect the Environment" page from the Plan B page:
This page hasn't been updated since October 19th (just a week after they razed Hemlock Grove).

The actual Environmental Protection Plan (all this prepared by consultants Stantec) is on a link on Environment's website:
This is the page with the Environmental Impact Assessment information for Plan B. It's a huge list of documents -- good that the department is being complete, but it is such a tangled mess it's hard to make your way through it.
The ninth document down is the "Final Environmental Protection Plan."

From Appendix A of the EPP:
"Complaint management system
As public interest in this project is anticipated to be high, PEITIR has devised a complaint management system (see Appendix E) with respect to environmental issues. This plan will allow for the effective and timely flow of communication through various project personnel, resulting in an efficient resolution of concerns, complaints, or questions regarding project activities and identified environmental risk. This plan will also provide clear direction to other regulators (PEIDELJ and DFO) who may be responding to complaints from the public. Regulators and PEITIR staff who may be receiving calls from the public will be able to obtain information and resolve issues in a timely manner. This system should reduce, or avoid duplication of effort and ensure accurate information is delivered."
OK, the whole point of this is that a couple of us are meeting with TIR people next week about their system and how it is working, or not.  It would help to know people's experiences with this system.

 **If you have sent a complaint, did you get an answer, and was it satisfactory to you?  Could you dig up and send me any of the correspondence, if you have time, in the next couple of days?**  stophighwayplanb@gmail.com  Any other comments on how this could be working or isn't working would be appreciated, too.

Hope you are having a good week!

April 2, 2013

As the HST takes effect -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor


Isn't it interesting that on the very day P.E.I. implements the hated HST, British Columbia recalls the tax and goes back to GST/PST?

Isn't it interesting that the HST is supposed to save consumers money on goods that currently charge both taxes but some stores are increasing the price of those goods? One example: the cat food I buy used to cost .65-.69 cents per can. Two weeks ago, it went up to 75 cents per can. A coincidence? Maybe.

Isn't it interesting that my phone bill, which I was thinking would go down a bit with the HST, has been increased by $3 per month beginning in March? Another coincidence?

Isn't it interesting that the HST is not supposed to have an impact on the low- to middle-income earner and yet will raise millions in revenue - how many high-income earners do we have in this province?

Isn't it interesting that this government can find money for wasteful spending, Plan B certainly springs to mind and the list is long, and yet is so broke that it needs to tax its citizens ever more?

Isn't it interesting that P.E.I. can fund raises for politicians at a time when ordinary people are struggling to feed their families, never mind trying to heat their homes, pay their bills and send their children to school?

Isn't it interesting that the demand at food banks is increasing at an alarming rate? Another coincidence?

Just my .02 cents plus HST.

Katie McInnis, Stratford

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A lovely Plan B Social yesterday -- it was great to see so many people, and sorry for the folks who couldn't make it. The afternoon gave everyone a chance to relax and chat, and look at the fantastic displays produced by Viki Gregory and by Bruno Peripoli and family, a video by Larry Cosgrave, and a running slide show of Plan B photos from the past 12 months put together on the spot by Richard Baker and Mitch MacKinnon -- great work! Catherine Russell helped with set-up and Cindy Richards helped break the tables down. The food was delicious, as always -- the biscuit, cupcake, cookies and cake makers are extraordinary.

One of the sets of displays set up at the Plan B Social April 1st. As usual, some of us were too busy talking to remember to take photos while people were there.

Shannon Mader was featured in The Guardian yesterday talking about the lending library at the Island Nature Trust, and had also passed on this link to MacPhail Woods website with its *excellent*, comprehensive on-line nature guides.

http://www.macphailwoods.org/nature-guides/  And in the Trees section, here: http://www.macphailwoods.org/nature-guides/trees/eastern-hemlock/ is this rather poignant description of the Eastern Hemlock:


All efforts should be made to conserve this species, since it has been so heavily harvested on the Island. While it could be selectively harvested from areas that have sufficient amounts of hemlock, these types of woodlands are few and far between."

A clear voice on maintaining what we have, and leaving it better for our children and grandchildren. And these Guides (and the whole website) help us Understand what we have, and be able to explore and enjoy it.

PS Loud, but perhaps not-so-clear, voices can be heard at Question Period, today after the 2PM session of the Legislature begins at Province House, by viewing from the upstairs Gallery.

April 1, 2013

Cindy Richards' Environmental Report -- Facebook


Direct result of plan b construction....the left hand bottle #83 is a water sample taken upstream just above the construction site....the left hand bottle #84 is a sample taken down stream just below construction site.....these samples were taken yesterday, a fine day with a bit of melt......failure is clearly evident

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The weekend's sun and gentle warming temperatures are melting the most recent snow at the Plan B sites, and unfortunately is looks like the sediment controls are not handling it adequately. Again. Consider bringing boots along to have a trek before or after you stop into the Plan B Social today, 2 - 4PM, Bonshaw Community Centre, 25 Green Road.


A few days ago I wrote about the residents in the New Haven and Bonshaw area who in the end sold their homes to the government.

I didn't mention two other groups:

...Landowners who had to sell a part of their land, even though it wasn't their home on that part of the land. While they didn't have to move, I can imagine this was a very, very stressful time. (They certainly weren't being offered the sums per acre that the Fairyland property owner got.)

...and business owners who are not in business anymore. Here is an amateur map showing three locations, and my take on what happened:

The arrows and names in blue show the approximate locations of three businesses that are now up for sale, very likely due to Plan B.

The Windsor Motel had just gotten new owners a couple of years ago, and they made many renovations. The Strathgartney TCH plan (flawed as *it* was) would have ended before Peter's Road and not affected them at all, so you can imagine their shock when Plan B was announced. It's hard to run a motel that depends on a lot of drop-in traffic from the road when you don't know where the road is. We *still* really don't know how the motel property will be accessed. The couple running the motel thought of innovative ways to turn the place around, but the uncertainty left a lot of people unwilling to commit to its new format. The couple is moving west in the next few weeks. Goodbye and better times, Shona and Matt. We appreciate your strength and your tireless giving to the community!

This photo inadvertently shows more of the garage next door than the tidy motel that's for sale.

Along the current TCH, where you want to have a lots of traffic, is "the go-kart place", the Bonshaw 500. After Plan B, it will be away from the highway, high above the new highway and hidden from view.

Signs for Bonshaw 500, with CBC tower in left background. The TCH is on the right, and Plan B will cut down, down and to the left and around the back of the CBC tower.


In Bonshaw, the lovely Bonshaw Breezes Bed and Breakfast would suffer for opposite reasons -- a place that built its reputation on being a quiet respite of gorgeous vistas now has two years of construction and then a new highway in full view just across the river.

now off to the northeast, the view of Plan B and its path that plows around the north side of the CBC Tower.

And here is a link to the *current* map on the Department of Transportation's website:

And here is a link to the *current* map on the Department of Transportation's website:


and choose "Detailed Route Map" to download (it is too big for me to send).

This map shows the first plan for Peter's Road South going through Crawford's Stream a second time (something they eventually realized would be a mistake, but that map is still there). You can see the spaghetti bowl of roads trying to branch off from Plan B at Colville Road on the east side of the project -- not sure how why anyone would design this and how they could not provide better details on access.

Of course we know it is because they didn't really think this through, having made Plan B up in the few short weeks from when the comment period from Plan A closed (November 30, 2011) and Plan B was announced (December 20th, 2011).

So a warm smile to the landowners, whose past year we cannot fathom, and best wishes to the business owners, too.

Right now the business owners are still paying business property tax rates to their communities, which cannot be easy if you are not making any money as a business. (On a different note, the sold home properties, as now owned by the government, do not pay any tax to the community as the privately owned homes did -- so Bonshaw and New Haven communities have taken a hit on that.)

But we wish these folks were free from their misfortune and uncertain times -- the cause of which is very much due to Plan B.