January 15, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Larry Cosgrave had a great letter in yesterday's Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letters-to-editor/2013-01-14/article-3155057/Minister-sitting-on-her-hands/1

He describes Environment Minister Sherry's October 1, 2012, approving of the Plan B project with her specific conditions that TIR (Department of Transportation) must adhere to, and her confidence in the mitigations for any negative impacts.  He wonders if she still has confidence after the very minor rainfall events in December.

Right after the sediment release episode on Tuesday, December 11th, 2012, Peter Bevan-Baker, the leader of the PEI Green Party, wrote to Environment Minister Janice Sherry demanding that she address this issue.  She agreed to meet with Bevan-Baker, setting a date in January; and Cindy Richards, who is monitoring things on the site for the public, and I came along.  This was last Tuesday.  

I can specifically address their discussion of the sediment issue in the next update, but here is an overview of the meeting:

She may not be sitting on her hands, but she is wringing them.

What we observed and learned:

  • They took the concerns seriously enough -- not timely, but seriously -- to have her Deputy Minister, the Director of the Department, and the Director of the Environmental Lands Management division there with her to discuss the conditions and issues.
  • They said they are very worried about spring, and basically going to beef up things as much as possible.  
  • They hope to have TIR bring in an independent review of the mitigations plan (so basically, a Stantec from away) and make suggestions.
  • They did not realize what an inadequate job TIR is doing communicating with the public.  They will communicate this to Minister Vessey.
  • Minister Sherry knows she signed off on Plan B, she approved the conditions, and she is the one ultimately responsible to make sure TIR is meeting those conditions.

Here are the October 1, 2012, Environmental Impact Assessment Approval Condition numbers  and short description (my shorthand-- errors of interpretation are mine):

    • TIR must comply with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
    • TIR must comply with the Environmental Protection Plan (EPP)
    • TIR shall stop working if sediment associated with construction enters a watercourse (and fix the problem).
    • TIR will deal with a discovery of archeological material properly.
    • TIR will deal with contaminant spills properly.
    • TIR will get a super-permit from the Environment Department to frig around in the watercourses (they got it and they are).
    • TIR will communicate regular project updates to the public and answer public inquiries. 
    • TIR will pay for a dedicated employee from Department of the Environment to oversee the environmental aspects of the project.
    • TIR will set up a committee to deal with the remaining bits of land parcels obtained for Plan B that have some West River frontage, too.
    • TIR will follow rules on Natural Areas/protected lands regarding permits, etc.
    • TIR will be responsible for all the subcontractors and others employed on this are aware of and comply with conditions.

The real version is found here, but not easily. it is the 16th document you can download. "Environmental Impact Assessment Approval"

http://www.gov.pe.ca/environment/index.php3?number=1041923&lang=E

#1, 2, and 11 are simple enough but ones that need to be strictly held to.

#3 will be addresses tomorrow.

#4 and #5 haven't appeared to have had any incidents, but the protocol is there.

#6 shows that government gets what it wants when it wants, and the flaws in the permit-granting and this whole EIA process -- it's about permitting, not protecting, really.

#7 is apparently fulfilled here: http://www.gov.pe.ca/tir/index.php3?number=1044551&lang=E

It was last update December 21st, with two photos, one of which shows lots of fall leaves.  Maybe they should visit www.stopplanb.org or join the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/220834614673617/ for more timely updates.

And #3 (sediment), the dedicated employee one (#8) and the lands ones (#9 and #10) will get described tomorrow.

January 14, 2013

Minister sitting on her hands -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Here is a quote from The Guardian on Oct. 1:

‘But Sherry said Monday she is satisfied the project can be carried out without major environmental damage to the area.

“After the length of time and the amount of work that has gone into this process, I feel very comfortable with my final decision,” Sherry told reporters Monday.

“When I went through the process with my staff page by page and line by line, the issue, of course, was the environmental impact and I feel confident today with all of the mitigations that have been put in place.” ’

Well, I am hoping Minister Sherry is now uncomfortable since she must realize there has been a major environmental impact. Also, her confidence in all the mitigations is ill-placed since they have failed numerous times with normal rainfalls, let alone a one-in-25-year event, which has yet to happen.

What I am wondering is why the work continues while the breaches continue unfixed contra the agreement? Why has the minister not issued statements to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal and the public about these transgressions of her environmental impact edicts that were to be followed to the letter? Has she been out there recently? What does she expect will happen with a major winter thaw, and even more problematical, the spring thaw?

We (public monitors with a bit of common sense) realize it will be a disaster.

It appears to the public that the minister is sitting on her hands and hiding away. I have video evidence of severalincidents that are irrefutable. I have sent her one shortened clip of a major breach recently with no response from her.

Larry Cosgrave, Charlottetown

January 13, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

It's beautiful and wintry, but it is also a mess out there:

Crawford's Brook (west of Peter's Road) -- uphill a bit from where the concrete box culvert is placed (not in this photo). Yes, once the snow is gone, there will be a lot of exposed mud.

Path of Plan B, looking west, up hill from Peter's Road, towards UPEI property and back to current TCH, Churchill, PEI, this week.

Not sure if they are going to move any fill over the box culverts -- perhaps it just isn't safe -- and we know It's All About Safety -- to try to dig up and push dirt and rock (lots of rock) down that hill, and it doesn't look like there is much to spare anywhere else in this "balanced cut-and-fill project."

Hemlock Grove (east of Peter's Road) Looking north

Hemlock Grove, late Friday afternoon, looking upstream, from the old path.


And turning on the same spot and looking South: 

Hemlock Grove pointing south, Friday, on north side of Plan B, at the arch culvert.

Yes, it looks horrible; they are slowly filling in and burying the Grove. They are digging quite deep further east along Plan B up towards the existing TCH to dig up the fill. Their idea is to have enough fill over it before quitting this winter so spring melting won't cause so much run-off into the Stream. :-/

And David Bulger, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Political Studies at UPEI, sums it up: It was a "annus horribilis" for democracy on PEI:

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letters-to-editor/2013-01-12/article-3154725/Our-very-own-%26lsquoannus-horribilis/1

January 10, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

No boom for now:
We have been told by folks in the Environment Department that no explosives are being considered on the Plan B site. They would have to know, get the Environmental Impact rewritten, etc., so they checked, and apparently no one is planning on that. Bedrock has been hit here, there and everywhere in between, but Transportation and the contractors will use heavy equipment (details as that comes out) to deal with it.

The funny thing is that *TIR* told some people the whole "have to use explosives" story was a "plant" to make people opposed to the Plan look bad. Really? Hmm. It's obvious they are hitting the very rock that's indicated on soil maps and that makes them look a bit amateur and sloppy in their planning. And overbudget and looking at "options." It's obvious that people mentioned this to others at venues other then work, word traveled, and some more; other people immediately took stock of common sense (!), researched the implications, found experts, etc., and word got back around that the public knew explosives on a sandstone island with lots of residents and wells is a poor choice.

Perhaps it was a good test of the informal communications systems ;-)

On-site:
Work continues in the cold and snow on the fill at Hemlock Grove and the box culvert sections at Crawford's Brook. And the cold and snow (and spring melt) will bring its challenges, which is what happens when Transportation insists on starting a mega-road building project in the Fall on PEI without appropriate research of the landscape and climate, among other things.

Media:Daphne Davy's excellent letter is finally printed in the Guardian, but you read it here first last week ;-)

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letters-to-editor/2013-01-09/article-3152497/A-bill-of-rights-for-the-ecosystem/1

January 9, 2013

Ecosystem needs a Bill of Rights -- The Eastern Graphic and The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I would like to share the following quote from a friend of mine in Toronto, who has given reprint permission. He was writing in reference to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and the lengths the citizens are having to go to get him to listen to their concerns:

“It’s like saying “Well, this flu was really good - it got my immune system working.” Or “That hurricane had the positive effect of giving the disaster relief system a good workout.” A well-run city should not require huge amounts of grassroots involvement. Citizens are having to take on, and think about, things that they elected other people to take on and think about so they could go on doing their own parts in making the economy and cultural life of the city run smoothly. So, it’s nice to know that we have this civic immune system and it works. Now it would be great if it didn’t have to work so hard.”

I keep meeting people from widely different parts of the Island who are outraged (no exaggeration) about Plan B. This is not just a small group of environmental activists but a broad spectrum of the Island population; not just people who live in the region or travel the highway at Bonshaw but those who live in Prince and Kings Counties as well; not just supposedly uninformed citizens, but a mix of professional and lay people with the ability to think with intelligence; not just retired folk with time to invest in the visible part of the protest, but government employees (yes!), farmers, and others with many different backgrounds; not just about the destruction of a particularly sensitive ecosystem, but about broader issues of transparency, democratic process, priorities, affordability, legitimacy – the list goes on.

The trouble is that we don’t have a Bill of Rights for the ecosystem, including trees that have graced and served the earth for 250 years, all that time contributing to the health of the surrounding ecosystem by stabilizing the soil and the tributaries, providing shelter and food to birds, insects and mammals to ensure an unbroken food chain, and providing inspiration to humans and a sense of our humble place in the scheme of things.

In the meantime, to learn what a governing body can do with political will combined with the will of the citizens, watch the video about the 100-year old Ghirardi Compton Oak in League City, Texas. The municipality decided to move the tree 1,200 feet to a new park, rather than allow it to be cut down to make way for road construction. If you want to see five bulldozers and front-end loaders being used not to destroy but to protect one single entity in the environment, search for it on YouTube.

The citizens began as Stop Plan B. Now it is Watch Plan B. In three years time it will be Remember Plan B.

Daphne Davey, Crapaud

January 8, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

First, a need for the Camp -- a loan or gift of a (used) laptop or netbook with a battery that holds a charge, one that would be able to use a turbostick wireless internet connection device (Macs can a little cranky about this).  This will help the folks there monitor and document what is going on, and to upload images to the internet to share. (The current one's battery isn't holding a charge, etc.)  Please contact me if you have such something suitable.  Thank you.

Second, at long last, the incredibly talented but busy "tech gal" was able to change the URL of the Stop Plan B website to .....www.stopplanb.org  It's the same website, but with an easier name. Yes, we were a little slow getting that going. Please visit (typing it in -- www.stopplanb.org  ) so search engines get "primed" to use the new name.  Thanks.

On site: Monday, with the cold and wind, there were problems working on the Plan B sites.  They are continuing to work in the Crawford's Brook trying to get in the 8x8x4 foot concrete box culvert sections.  They have about 56 of the 100 or so in.  Rather a cold lumpy group, and I don't mean the poor workers, I mean the concrete box section placement.

The 50-odd box culvert sections in the bed of Crawford's Brook, from which the snow was thoughtfully bulldozed yesterday.  The brook has been diverted in a pipe to the right of the of the construction (buried in snow right now). We think the plans are to get the box sections in, cover it all with gravel, and some fill, in the next little while.  

January 7, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Media:  An excellent letter, followed by an unsurprising viewpoint, from Saturday's Guardian: Wendy Budgeon's letter

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letters-to-editor/2013-01-05/article-3150740/Islanders-want-more-than-platitudes/1

Editor Gary MacDougall's justification of why Plan B wasn't the news story of the year: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Columns/2013-01-05/article-3150743/The-news-isjust-the-news/1  including this quote: " The Guardian editorial department opted for ‘Tory Turmoil’ as 2012’s top news story. Some readers disagreed with us, most notably people who are upset with Plan B, the controversial highway realignment project in the Churchill area. Without a doubt, Plan B was a big story on Prince Edward Island in 2012, along with others such as the HST, federal job cutbacks and EI changes. In the end, we opted for Tory Turmoil and The Impaired Driver, our thinking being those two stories impacted the most Islanders. That doesn’t mean the other stories weren’t good contenders, but those were our choices. Just as we had the right to select them, others have a right to disagree."

So spending money the government doesn't have to ruin land all of us share, and the trend this sets, doesn't affect the majority of Islanders.  Hmm.  This does tend to circle back to the lack of depth in our island media.

Blasting update:  Last week a Department of Transportation person said this about blasting and bedrock, "We haven't hit anything we can't deal with yet."  Utterly reassuring.

Dept of Environment person said they hadn't heard about blasting, and would definitely need to and have to have part of the Environmental Impact Assessment written. There are several households within a kilometre of the potential blasting sites.  Not that Environment saying it would make sure a revised EIA is in any way reassuring, but it would make everyone stop and think about what is going on here.

More tomorrow or Wednesday about what's happening on-site.

Government treatment unfair -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I read a letter to the editor in The Guardian newspaper on Monday, Dec. 3 by Transportation Minister Robert Vessey claiming his department is “striking the right balance"between treating property owners and taxpayers fairly.

However, I read the released names of property owners affected by property list payments by theLiberal government with disgust on Nov. 24. Also, the massive amount of taxdollars being spent putting these people out of their homes and property bythis government. Where is the right balance spending tax dollars this way, Mr. Vessey, in doing these things?

Quite the contrary, I think it's very troublesome that these land purchases with taxpayer dollars, to my understanding, amount to $3.86 million, and a further $4 million is to go toward even more land purchases.

I think this is more like very reckless spending and it certainly seems that ordinary Islanders should be very concerned about this seemingly careless government. People are being put out of their homes for this Plan B highway and making the people of this province pay for it, I think, is very wrong.

The way these people were treated to make way for this highway called Plan B is certainly something Idon't think this government should be proud of. I think it's more like it should be ashamed of what it is doing.

The politicians of years ago ran this Island with respect and were respected in return. But respectful politicians in power are something we don't seem to have running our province any more and it's a shame.

It seems this Liberal government and Vessey’s Transportation Department are doing a better job of ‘working against Islanders’. It seems to me that this would be the best motto for this Liberal government and the Plan B highway property list payments seem to verify it.

Lloyd W. Pickering, Kensington

Year of the Protester -- CBC Radio Mainstreet

Interview with Political Columnist Richard Raiswell who says that 2012 was really the Year of the Protester.
http://www.cbc.ca/mainstreetpei/richard-raiswell/2013/01/08/richard-raiswell---election-promises/

January 5, 2013

The news is....just the news  -- Column in The Guardian

by "From The Ivory Tower" columnist Gary MacDougall, managing editor of The Guardian

It’s over 10 years, but some family members still haven’t forgiven me and The Guardian for choosing Blair Ross as a Guardian Newsmaker of the Year.

It wasn’t because they had anything in particular against Ross, who staged a lengthy and very public protest against the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) in 2001.

Rather, I think it was because the Blair Ross story wasn’t a happy one, or a positive one. At the time, Ross was a controversial figure who became the face of discontent directed at the workings of the WCB.

And it wasn’t just some of my family members who didn’t think Ross was the top newsmaker that year; other Islanders voiced their disagreement with our choice as well.

Ross and the individual I am about to discuss have absolutely nothing in common, but I was reminded of the little dustup over our 2001 selection while reading some of the reaction to The Canadian Press’s selections as 2012 News Story of the Year and Newsmaker of the Year.

A most unsavory individual, accused killer Luka Rocco Magnotta, was given the nod as both the year’s top Canadian news story and top newsmaker.

The Canadian Press makes its annual selections after surveying newsrooms across the country. And, as is obvious from the selection of an accused killer, the news story of the year and newsmaker of the year are not popularity contests.

That’s something I feel the public doesn’t always understand; that the choice of news story/newsmaker of the year isn’t always handed out for positive reasons.

A look at past Guardian newsmakers can quickly prove that. We’ve given it to popular athletes like Lorie Kane and Brad Richards, among others, who have made Prince Edward Islanders proud. But we also handed it out to a former nun accused of abusing children and, for 2012, we named The Impaired Driver the top newsmaker — hardly something to celebrate.

Our news stories of the year have ranged from the positive, such as the opening of Confederation Bridge (1997), to the negative, such as the 7.5 per cent public sector wage rollback (1994).

Every year is different and it’s the same with the news. Sometimes the big stories are events that make us proud (Royal visit by Prince William and Kate, 2011) while other times they don’t put the province in such a positive light (Prime Minister gets pie in face, 2000).

Luka Rocco Magnotta made the news after body parts belonging to a visiting foreign student began appearing in different parts of the country. It was an incredibly tragic story but it was one that shocked this country and others. There is a concern among some people that making him newsmaker of the year simply feeds Magnotta’s huge ego and that it could possibly promote copycats. We all pray that won’t happen. But the fact remains the Magnotta story was a big one last year.

So was the turmoil surrounding Tory Leader Olive Crane and her P.E.I. Progressive Conservative Party. The Guardian editorial department opted for ‘Tory Turmoil’ as 2012’s top news story. Some readers disagreed with us, most notably people who are upset with Plan B, the controversial highway realignment project in the Churchill area.

Islanders want more than platitudes -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

During Premier Robert Ghiz's year-end interviews with media, he put forth statements that only served to show his complete disconnect with Islanders.

To say out loud that he was shocked at the reaction to Plan B speaks of a politician who has no idea what is happening outside of Charlottetown. Environmentally, this plan is devastating, but the colossal waste of money in this "new fiscal reality", as Mr. Ghiz and Finance Minister Wes Sheridan refer to it, is unacceptable.

When asked by CTV anchor Steve Murphy if the HST would come back to haunt him next election, Mr. Ghiz went over the top stating: "It's politics. Nobody remembers what you did in the past. It only matters what you do today." This from a man who stands, shouting, in our legislature about all the political sins the previous Conservative government committed, some more than 10-15 years ago. And yet the number of people who took to the streets in 2012 to protest this government's policies speaks volumes about the Ghiz government's inability to understand Islanders and their issues.

Mr. Ghiz and his MLAs need to listen to people outside the fifth floor and try to understand why most Islanders want good policies and laws, not platitudes from their representatives.

Remember...it's politics, it only matters what you do today.

Wendy Budgeon, Charlottetown

January 4, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

What's going on on the Plan B sites?

Fairyland and Bonshaw are quiet, but work continues at Hemlock Grove (Crawford's Stream, arch culvert) to cover the culvert higher, presumably to channel spring melt sediment and run-off into sediment ponds nearby.

Also, at Crawford's Brook (west of Peter's Road), a crew is preparing to install the 50-odd remaining box culvert sections (these are 4x8x8 foot), and cover that with something for the winter.

So despite the assuring tone of last week's article in The Guardian, fairly dramatic work continues.

The reports of plans to use explosives have *not* been confirmed by TIR, though I think most of us know that TIR has never been forthcoming with any details on this whole project. The Department of the Environment has no information from TIR about plans for blasting, and confirms that sections of the Environmental Impact Assessment would have to be rewritten if this would be considered. So stay tuned.

Media: Recent letters published in The Guardian:

Normal Russell from Ottawa looks over at PEI with a message to government and media:

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letters-to-editor/2013-01-02/article-3148881/Plan-B-made-its-mark/1

Gail Rhyno writes about other issues, with Plan B being the catalyst, where people are labeled and marginalized for demanding responsible government:

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letters-to-editor/2013-01-02/article-3148878/2012%3A-the-year-of-the-unpleasables/1

Also, a letter that didn't get published (yet), but is definitely worth sharing: from Daphne Davy in Crapaud:

Inevitably, not all letters to the editor are being published. On November 8 I wrote the following letter to the Guardian (who acknowledged receipt) but as far as I know it wasn't published. In the interests of sharing ideas that someone else might use in another context for Plan B (including the quote that I know my friend in Toronto would be happy for someone other than me to quote), I would like to share mine with our e-listers (below).

To the editor:

I would like to share the following quote from a friend of mine in Toronto, who has given reprint permission. He was writing in reference to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and the lengths the citizens are having to go to get him to listen to their concerns:

“It's like saying, 'Well, this flu was really good -- it got my immune system working.' Or 'That hurricane had the positive effect of giving the disaster relief system a good workout.' A well-run city should not require huge amounts of grassroots involvement. Citizens are having to take on, and think about, things that they elected other people to take on and think about so they could go one doing their own parts in making the economy and cultural life of the city run smoothly. So, it's nice to know that we have this civic immune system and it works. Now it would be great if it didn't have to work so hard."

I keep meeting people from widely different parts of the Island who are outraged (no exaggeration) about Plan B. This is not just a small group of environmental activists but a broad spectrum of the Island population; not just people who live in the region or travel the highway at Bonshaw but those who live in Prince and Kings Counties as well; not just supposedly uninformed citizens, but a mix of professional and lay people with the ability to think with intelligence; not just about the destruction of a particularly sensitive ecosystem, but about broader issues of transparency, democratic process, priorities, affordability, legitimacy – the list goes on.

The trouble is that we don't have a Bill of Rights for the ecosystem, including trees that have graced and served the earth for 250 years, all that time contributing to the health of the surrounding ecosystem by stabilizing the soil and the tributaries, providing shelter and food to birds, insects and mammals to ensure an unbroken food chain, and providing inspiration to humans and a sense of our humble place in the scheme of things.

In the meantime, to learn what a governing body can do with political will combined with the will of the citizens, watch the video about the 100-year-old Ghirardi Compton Oak in League City, Texas. The municipality decided to move the tree 1200 feet to a new park, rather than allow it to be cut down to make way for road construction. If you want to see five bulldozers and front-end loaders being used not to destroy but to protect one single entity in the environment, go to the League City, TX, home page and click on the link to the oak story. Biologists say the tree is doing fine.

It began as Stop Plan B. Now it is Watch Plan B. In three years’ time it will be Remember Plan B.

Daphne Davey, Crapaud

Have a great weekend,

January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!
Hope you all had a rest from regular responsibilities and spent lots of time with family and friends.
Here is a quick update on Plan B happenings:

Media:
The Guardian did an on-line article on Cindy, who is living near the Plan B site:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2012-12-30/article-3148609/Protesters-have-settled-in-for-the-winter-at-their-campsite/1

Saturday's printed Guardian has an excellent letter by Boyd Allen --which would be a great letter to send to your MLA (letter both as link here and reprinted in full below):
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letters-to-editor/2012-12-29/article-3148060/It%26rsquos-time-for-an-update/1


MLA addresses here:
http://www.stopplanb.org/goverment-media-contacts/government-contacts
(notice we are working on streaming the website address -- thanks to Sarah S. for her abilities and time) (that misspelling is when *I* programmed it originally --sigh)

Guardian poll
The Guardian had an on-line poll of the top news story of the year last week, which Plan B handily topped.  However, the paper chose Olive Crane and the Tory Leadership Troubles as the top news story of the year, and The Impaired Driver as the top newsmaker of the year.  It is an interesting aside that at a July Legislative Committee meeting, Olive Crane proposed that Plan B be put on hold for a year while the province made a concerted effort to battle impaired driving, and see what the accident statistics showed.  Her idea was pretty much ignored by the majority on the committee.

Hope you all had fun with New Year's Levees -- we hope to have a Plan B one, for information and as a social, one Sunday later this month.  Details to follow.

What's going on this week at the Plan B site:
Despite what The Guardian article of last week said (that work was stopping), there were indications that work on the culvert at Crawford's Brook (west of Peter's Road) was to continue this week, and there is always the ability to use explosives on bedrock in winter (to free up rock to cover the culvert).  Any information about their plans that we find out will be related to everyone, via these updates, the Stop Plan B website, and the Facebook "Plan B Atlantic Gateway Highway Proposal" group. 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/220834614673617/

Best wishes,
Chris O.

Here is Boyd's Letter, which he has given permission for others to send to their own MLA and other government people:

It’s time for an update Published on December 29, 2012  in The Guardian

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


January 2, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Happy New Year!

Hope you all had a rest from regular responsibilities and spent lots of time with family and friends.

Here is a quick update on Plan B happenings: Media: The Guardian did an on-line article on Cindy, who is living near the Plan B site: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2012-12-30/article-3148609/Protesters-have-settled-in-for-the-winter-at-their-campsite/1

Saturday's (December 29, 2012) printed Guardian has an excellent letter by Boyd Allen --which would be a great letter to send to your MLA http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letters-to-editor/2012-12-29/article-3148060/It%26rsquos-time-for-an-update/1

MLA addresses here: http://www.stopplanb.org/goverment-media-contacts/government-contacts

(notice we are working on streaming the website address -- thanks to Sarah S. for her abilities and time) (that misspelling is when *I* programmed it originally --sigh)

The Guardian had an on-line poll of the top news story of the year last week, which Plan B handily topped. However, the paper chose Olive Crane and the Tory Leadership Troubles as the top news story of the year, and The Impaired Driver as the top newsmaker of the year. It is an interesting aside that at a July Legislative Committee meeting, Olive Crane proposed that Plan B be put on hold for a year while the province made a concerted effort to battle impaired driving, and see what the accident statistics showed. Her idea was pretty much ignored by the majority on the committee.

Hope you all had fun with New Year's Levees -- we hope to have a Plan B one, for information and as a social, one Sunday later this month. Details to follow.

What's going on this week at the Plan B site:

Despite what The Guardian article of last week said (that work was stopping), there were indications that work on the culvert at Crawford's Brook (west of Peter's Road) was to continue this week, and there is always the ability to use explosives on bedrock in winter (to free up rock to cover the culvert). Any information about their plans that we find out will be related to everyone, via these updates, the Stop Plan B website, and the Facebook "Plan B Atlantic Gateway Highway Proposal" group.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/220834614673617/

Plan B made it's mark --The Guardian Letter of the Day

Having family connections on P.E.I., I have, over the years, become a frequent visitor of the Island, and when I am away, I always do my best to keep abreast of what is making news here.

I was therefore quite amazed when The Guardian announced its news story of the year 2012 to be ‘Tory Turmoil?' (The Guardian, Dec. 29, 2012).

The reason I was so surprised by this is that there was really only one story that was consistently appearing in off-Island media: the Plan B project and its opposition. During the tumultuous period of protest and confrontation this fall, the Plan B story was being shown on CBC's ‘The National' and other national broadcasts, a rare occurrence for a ‘local' P.E.I. story.

The anger and resentment created by the government's decision to go ahead with Plan B is obvious, and the measures taken to protest the construction (and, when possible, hinder it) represented a sea-change in attitudes here.

A lack of trust in elected officials and outrage over the way this project was handled was enough to overcome the deep-rooted believe that one can't fight the government and win. The coming together of disparate people from all over P.E.I. to try to stop Plan B may have long-lasting effects; in finding their voice, we may be seeing the birth of a new force in P.E.I., one willing to take direct action to intervene in plans that may not be in the people's best interests.

Yes, the abrupt resignation of Olive Crane made some headlines this past month, but the multi-faceted story of Plan B not only galvanized public attention for months during the physical protests, it promises to remain in the news well into the new year as cost-overruns and growing environmental problems continue to plague the project. I'm willing to admit that, living away for much of the year, I may not have as clear an idea of what Islanders find news worthy, but from where I'm sitting, it seems a no-brainer.

Norman Russell, Ottawa

2012: the year of the unpleasables --The Guardian Letter to the Editor

If you wondered for even a moment if you made a difference this year fighting for your cause, you can rest easy. You can now include yourself among the proud group referring to themselves as ‘unpleasables’. They are Islanders who rose up and demanded to be heard on an ever-growing list of issues.

In his year-end speech with CBC Compass, our premier made references to people who were not ever going to be appeased when talking about the large opposition to projects such as HST and Plan B. It seems ourpremier would like to dismiss anyone who opposed his vision of this province as simply people who will never be pleased with his decisions, in other words,‘unpleasables’. As such, he would have us believe that we are wasting this government's valuable time fighting for things that are unattainable.

In 2012, unpleasables like myself spent time fighting: for women to have access to primary health-care services within their own province; for transparency and accountability from our elected officials; for our children to have access to up-to-date technology in schools; for election promises to be kept; for real consideration for the environment; for a real strategy to reduce poverty; for a change in government spending priorities; for the sustainability of rural medical services. In 2012, we unpleasables asked this government to listen. Whether we were a group of 300 with waving signs, or one person standing at the doors of Province House, we were fighting to matter.

In 2012, unpleasables like myself reminded Islanders that standing up and having your voice heard is in itself a worthy exercise, one our children will benefit from. So to all those fighting, I hope 2013 brings you strength and resolve to continue demanding to be heard. A futurethat considers each and every one of us, that values the environment, that is based on the full participation of Islanders in policy and planning is attainable. We just have to continue being something our premier should get used to — a public that is unpleasable.

Gail Rhyno, Charlottetown