June 2013


June 29, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

"It's all about safety." 

We heard that *so* often by the government in justifying expensive "realignments" to the TCH, ever since the Atlantic Gateway funding was announced.  People opposed to Plan B wrote and presented many, many more cost-effective options with better safety outcomes.  Many are archived here in April of 2012:

http://www.stopplanb.org/monthly-stuff/2012-monthly-overviews/april-2012

Now, as the behemoth is being built, we have a system to log our *environmental* complaints (the begrudging Complaint Management System at gateway@gov.pe.ca), but the public doesn't have a formal way of filing safety concerns, on behalf of the workers (Occupational Health and Safety seems set up for internal reports, not the public) and for the traveling public.  (We can talk about the workers another time.)

Regarding the traveling public, the Plan B construction is not even listed on the Transportation's website under "Find construction in your area": http://www.gov.pe.ca/tir/index.php3?number=1027827&lang=E

but it doesn't look like the page was worked on more recently than August of last year.  Clunky, clunky map software.  Not great for tourists coming from the bridge to Charlottetown.

And for residents, this all came to mind because other people have recently noticed the excavation west of the Riverdale Road (across from Strathgartney Park) and what appears to be a deep ditch just off the right shoulder when traveling west. 

Going west on TCH.  Riverdale Road on right.  Curve through hill by CBC Tower used to be well-outlined with trees which have all been excavated.  June 28, 2013.


Past Riverdale Road, it appears like a drop-off on the right.  Some warning- and arrow-signs were put up late Friday. June 28, 2013

The speed limit is still 90kmp and there are no construction zone signs in this part.  Presumably the lack of guard rails is a cost-saving measure since the construction will start joining the current TCH here.  The work may not be *on* the current road yet, but the activity (watching tax dollars go up in diesel smoke) may be distracting for some drivers.

The province has a creaky form for reporting road safety concerns:

http://www.gov.pe.ca/tir/index.php3?number=78409

Safe travels this Canada Day weekend,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 28, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

At the Plan B cut by the current TCH, it's Halcyon Days.

Modified from Answers.com (annotated):
Halcyone or Alcyone, in Greek mythology, Halcyone threw herself into the sea when her husband drowned. Out of pity the gods changed the pair into kingfishers (or halcyons), and Zeus forbade the winds to blow seven days before and after the winter solstice, the breeding season of the halcyon (this was the Mediterranean, by the way!).   The expression "halcyon days" comes from this myth and means a time of peace and tranquility or that of a lucky break, or a bright interval set in the midst of adversity.

It turns out the birds that made the nesting holes in the road cut just northwest of the current TCH looking down towards Hemlock Grove are belted kingfishers, Megaceryle alcyon, not Bank swallows. 

Belted Kingfisher image (Creative Commons)**

But, Belted Kingfishers are migratory and are protected while they are nesting, I believe. (map image below)

Environment Department Manager of Investigation Wade MacKinnon has been out this week and determined they were Belted Kingfishers, and issued an "exclusion zone" around the area -- 100 metres for vehicles and 20 metres for any monitors on foot.  Fish and Wildlife will determine when the exclusion zone can be lifted.

From the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Final (produced by the consultants, Stantec), from last August:
"In total, considering all of the field surveys, 59 bird species were recorded in the vicinitiy (sic) of the Project. Of these, none are SAR, and three species are considered SOCC: Belted Kingfisher, Bobolink, and Killdeer. None are likely to be nesting within or immediately adjacent the PDA." (italics mine)

Jargon decoder ring:
SAR -- "Species At Risk"  (SARA --Canadian Species at Risk Act) -- Act which provides "legal protection of wildlife species and the conservation of their biologic diversity"
PDA -- Project Development Area -- the "footprint" of Plan B, so to say.
SOCC -- "Species of Conservation Concern" -- Species of conservation concern that often have additional ecological, cultural and/or economic importance
.


Kingfishers *do* take advantage of fresh new excavation cuts and build nests there, most easily found bird sources say.  Not sure if that is mentioned in the EIA.

 Range of the Belted Kingfisher:
 Yellow is the breeding summer visitor range, green is breeding resident, blue is non-breeding winter visitor

**I know our wonderful Island birders and photographers have taken photos of the Kingfisher, but I will have to go with creative commons images for today.

Have a great Friday,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 27, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A year ago, in the most ambitious effort to date to inform the government about the wishes of the electorate, a citizen-initiated plebiscite on Plan B was held.  Voting was on-line over a two day period, and by mail-in ballots.

The results, announced on Canada Day, were no surprise -- over 90% of respondents voted against Plan B.  More than 5000 people voted -- a huge number, when you think about it.

Counting ballots, June 2012.

Why was the plebiscite held?  Besides rallies and countless letters to the editor of Island papers, a lot of letters and a few face-to-face meetings with politicians, the message that Islanders did not want Plan B and wanted a say in the decision was not being listened to.  Summer was here, the Environmental Impact Assessment was being done and time was running out to cancel the project.
A request for a province-initiated plebiscite was made to the District 17 MLA, who promised to bring it up in Cabinet, but later she indicated it was laughed off.  (So much for her justification that by publicly supporting the Premier's wishes on Plan B and thus staying in Cabinet, she "had a louder voice at the table".)
A letter was written to the Lieutenant Governor, who pretty much said, "Go ahead with exercising your rights."  So it was planned, with help of the internet and survey software and conditions to deal with ballot stuffing. (By the way, a bit of ballot stuffing was caught, on both the yes to Plan B and the no to Plan B sides.  I think there were actually more individuals who tried to stuff the "yes" to Plan B side.)  There were glitches but on the whole it worked!

We poorer students of Island history thought it was the *first* citizen-initiated plebiscite, but in fact there was a plebiscite conducted in 1973 by the Brothers and Sisters of Cornelius Howatt (The Cornelius Howatt Confederation Referendum).  Since this was before the internet, voting was by mail-in ballot (which the newspapers carried -- imagine that!) and in-person in front of Province House, apparently in a outhouse-themed polling booth. (Home rule for the Island won handily, by the way.) 

I would like to express my gratitude once again to the Island Co-Op Food stores for welcoming a flyer with the mail-in ballots on their community notice boards, after so many businesses and government offices wouldn't touch it.

A bit of a wrap-up is on the votepei.ca website:
http://votepei.ca/
which can certainly be used in the future for citizen-initiated plebiscites.

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw
----

This letter from last year says so much:

**June 27, 2012**Plebiscite offers chance to speak up -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

"The citizens' plebiscite will have no influence on the government's decision to reroute the Trans-Canada Highway." This comment from Transportation Minister Robert Vessey this week is precisely the reason why I will be going to votepei.ca and casting my vote.

If a large number of Islanders do so, we will be sending out a strong message that will be hard for the government to ignore, however hard it tries to cover its ears.

The government's firm commitment not to listen to its electorate is astonishing and should be something of deep concern to all of us, whatever our views on 'Plan B'. For Islanders who have a growing sense that their elected officials are not in tune with public opinion, the citizen plebiscite offers a great opportunity to speak up in a positive way

Jonathan Simmonds,
Bonshaw

__________________


PS  Once last reminder about today being the last day for comments to the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee about their draft recommendations for the remainders of land acquired from Plan B.

http://www.gov.pe.ca/tir/bonshawhills

June 26, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Tomorrow, Thursday, June 27th, is the deadline for any public comments on their draft of recommendations from the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee. (The deadline is not listed on the website but on page 4 of the report.)
There have been some excellent comments, with the ones from June 8th onward cut-and-pasted below.

Bonshaw Hills, March 2012.  Let's take care of what we've got left.

Please consider taking minute to look at the recommendations and to comment on them.
The website with the 30-page draft recommendation report is here:
http://www.gov.pe.ca/tir/bonshawhills


and if you want the summary (page 27), this is it:


7. Summary of Committee’s Draft Recommendations
1. Regarding ownership of the provincial lands, the Committee recommends:
a) The lands be transferred to non-profit land conservation trusts where possible; this is our preferred option b) As an alternative to transfer of the lands, those parcels in the vicinity of the two provincial parks (Bonshaw and Strathgartney) could be incorporated into an expanded provincial park
c) The lands could also be leased long-term (50+ years) to land conservation trust(s); we see this as a possibility only if the previous two options turn out to be unworkable d) Ownership of productive agricultural land could be turned over to the private sector if there was interest in a trade for other (private) lands of high ecological value in the vicinity
2. The Province should seek partnerships to undertake restoration, nature interpretation and active living recreation components of long-term management
3. All provincial lands in the area should be designated under NAPA for their exceptional ecological value, both individually and when considered as a whole, connected environment
4. Loop trails of several kilometres in length should be developed for active living and would be of great value in an expanded parklands concept
5. Trails must be carefully planned to balance the ecological sensitivity of some of the riparian and older upland forest stands with public use
6. The all-season use of any expanded park lands should be facilitated through access to year-round parking facilities and low-maintenance composting toilets
7. The leasing of land parcels A and B by University of PEI and Holland College is endorsed by the Committee; research and conservation needs should be the determinants of timing and extent of public access
8. The Province and partner NGOs should explore options to protect adjacent private lands with high ecological integrity
9. Parcel-specific management recommendations are listed in Table 2


Here are some recent submissions (put on the website after I batched the ones until June 8th) to the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee on their draft recommendations (I removed names):

June 18, 2013
------------------------------------------------------ FEEDBACK FROM ------------------------------------------------------
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Who should own/manage these lands?: ---------------------------------
I agree with the committee that the public good would be better served by transferring ownership of the provincial lands to land conservation trusts, where long-term Provincial administrative costs could be minimized and any NAPA designation could not be easily lifted. Potential groups include Island Nature Trust or the Nature Conservancy of Canada. The Macphail woods Ecological Forestry Project, Cycling PEI, West River Watershed Group and Island Trails Inc. could be involved as partners.    Governments seem to find a way to justify use of protected lands so should not hold the title to these public lands.
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Would you or your family members use these lands? If so, how?: ---------------------------------
Yes, as a family we have hiked within the Strathgartney Park and the Bonshaw Park. There were many a birthday party walks to the footbridge at the Green Road. Therefore I would like to see the footbridge replaced and maintained so this experience is there for other families in the future. The increased size of the lands would be encouraging for longer walking trails and the loop trails.
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What did you like best about the committee's recommendations?: ---------------------------------
The plan to join all land parcels and expand the parklands providing private land owners are in agreement. The fact that no motorized vehicle access will be allowed (except wheelchairs) is great news. The consideration of Education and nature interpretation is important as we lose more and more of these older forests. Year round access and low-maintenace composting toilets
available. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Other Comments: ---------------------------------
This committee did a great job in covering all the angles. I want to thank them for their time and passion toward shaping the future use of this special land. I would like to see Peter''s Road and Bolger Park Road both designated as heritage roads. I would also recommend that the government hold a public meeting and an opportunity for comments on the Management Plan before it is finalized.
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June 20, 2013 #1
Would you or your family members use these lands? If so, how?:---------------------------------
We use these lands for walking and would like to use the River for Kayaking. We are hoping that a boat launch would be built to be able to launch canoes and kayaks near the Bonshaw Bridge.
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June 20, 2013 #2
Who should own/manage these lands?:---------------------------------
The public with input from Environmental groups and other interested parties who are pro-environment and pro-healthy outdoor activity (ie: hiking, cycling, birding, conservation)
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Would you or your family members use these lands? If so, how?:---------------------------------
yes, hiking and mountain biking - there are already some trails through these lands and can easily add more.
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 What did you like best about the committee's recommendations?: --------------------------------- no comment at this time. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What did you like least about the committee's recommendations?: ---------------------------------
no comment at this time. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other Comments:---------------------------------
Why does this feedback site not have a "Thank you, your submission was successful" or some such. As it is, it simply goes back to the page with all my comments on them and says Please enter the key in red as if it did not work the first time, still not sure!
As part of any work that is planned for out there, a singular need is for the wooden bridge from Green Road across Bonshaw River to be replaced. The big carrier beams/trees are rotting. Also need to make a trail system that complies with IMBA guidelines.
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June 21, 2013 #1
Who should own/manage these lands?:---------------------------------
Province, Island Nature Trust, UPEI, and Holland College as discussed in the report
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Would you or your family members use these lands? If so, how?:---------------------------------
Hiking, biking, snowshoeing, picnics
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What did you like best about the committee's recommendations?:---------------------------------
Joining of the two existing parks. Maintaining leases with the two educational institutions.
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Other Comments:---------------------------------
I think there needs to be consideration made to accommodating foot traffic as well as bike traffic in existing and proposed trails for both the safety and enjoyment of both groups. Separate or parrallel trails could be an option.
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June 21, 2013  #2
Other Comments: ---------------------------------
Listening to CBC Mainstreet this afternoon I learned of the request for people to submit ideas with regard to Bonshaw Hills. Would it be possible to attempt to recreate a woodland area of sufficient acreage which would eventually (perhaps in 100 years time) be similar to the old growth forest which was removed for the highway realignment? Effort could be made to replicate the mix of types of trees and other verdure which would then become a protected area saved for our posterity. This is just a thought. Thank you.
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June 22, 2013
Who should own/manage these lands?: ---------------------------------
I would like to see Island Nature Trust mange this land. Or the provincial government if it will be protected in perpetuity.
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Would you or your family members use these lands? If so, how?: ---------------------------------
Yes. Hiking, snowshoeing, canoeing, being. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What did you like best about the committee's recommendations?: ---------------------------------
The area should be used for educating. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Best wishes,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 25, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

How we longed to find a rare bird or plant or archeological ruin last year, or anything that would have stalled Plan B for enough time for government to listen, or at least to put a kink in the federal funding through a delay....

Yesterday a sharp-eyed public environmental monitor saw two holes on the cliff of Plan B just off the TCH between the two road cuts (the western or Hemlock Grove side with the Fairyland cut on the east side).  He saw swallows around, identified as Bank Swallows.  At some point the traffic will be diverted and the TCH dug through to join the two cuts.
Probable Bank swallow holes, on Plan B near TCH in New Haven, June 24th, 2013.

Close up of probable bank swallows nests, June 24, 2013.

Map someone else made (perhaps why it is readable) of TCH in New Haven with location of nest holes. Plan B will cut the current TCH where the yellow pin is.

The volunteer environmental monitor wrote to the folks at Island Nature Trust, and various people in wildlife divisions of government were notified, who will talk to the site managers, etc.  I will not go into detail about the protection classification of the bank swallow (because I will likely get it wrong), but it sounds like it has been upgraded to warrant more protection federally since the Environmental Impact Assessment was done a year ago.  Migratory birds are protected during their nesting seasons.

What does this mean for Plan B?   Well, likely that that particular area may have to be off-limits to construction up-close for a few more weeks, but they weren't working extremely close to it, perhaps having so much else to do in nearby areas with lots of rock and wet spots.

Anyway, just thought we would send an update on that, as you might hear about it.

Here are some background pages: Canadian government listing of "Species at Risk Act"  (SARA) public registry:
http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/species/speciesDetails_e.cfm?sid=1233#protection

info sheet form same place (you will have to open the pdf it brings you to):
http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/search/advSearchResults_e.cfm?stype=species&advkeywords=bank%20swallow

and a more detailed sheet about the bird from Cornell's Ornithology Lab (but its status is not threatened in the States, apparently): http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/bank_swallow/lifehistory

Have a good day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 24, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Bedrock and springs --- two things we know the Bonshaw Hills has in abundance.  We know because many have wandered around them, and because the geology and hydrology of the area suggest it.  Even the consulting firm Stantec mentioned these in a cursory fashion in the Environmental Impact Assessment from last summer, but it appears the people who drew that Plan B line on the map didn't really take them into consideration, and the road builders are having to deal with them. 

Bedrock: Another pile of large rock chunks to be moved.  Plan B Bonshaw area, looking south (cliff with current TCH going down to Bonshaw Bridge on left), June 23, 2013.

Seeps:  closeup of current cut of Plan B, east of Hemlock Grove, June 23, 2013.  You may be able to see a drip in center lower right.

What does carving into the side of spring-filled hills do to the water table?  There are many homes (that haven't been torn-down) in the area that all rely on groundwater.

Here is a very short video of a channel dug to help drain the water from the road:
https://www.facebook.com/video/embed?video_id=10152933325685705
There might be difficulties with Facebook settings, but I think it is public the link should work.

Cindy Richards commented on this video and the water flow: "Predictable for anyone who had walked in this spring-abundant soggy area before they carved 30 feet down, or for anyone who had at least peeked at a topographical map. Wondering if perhaps the existing TCH was designed where it is to avoid these trouble spots."

This is not sustainable road building or land management, nor a wise use of our money;  we have to remember this as we see signals of government public relations efforts to justify or gloss over Plan B.  Consider reminding your MLAs of the facts on Plan B when you see them at Canada Day events and such.

Yours truly,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 23, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

These are photos from the same area of the Bonshaw part of Plan B, close to the bridge that is being widened, taken this month about two weeks apart, to give a very rough idea of the depth of digging.  The concrete culvert pad (center of both pictures) was very old and presumably drained the current TCH at some point; it's useful as a marker.

    
Early June 2013   
Two weeks later (mid-June 2013)   Bonshaw cut, looking east, current TCH at top just behind guard rail.

The pictures aren't very accurate match-ups, but show depth of the cut in this area over time and therefore the amount of digging that took place in two weeks (12 hour days, six days a week, at least two excavators and several giant dump trucks).  It appears to be at least 30 feet down now, and according to the maps needs to go another 10 feet or so, and eventually connect to the current TCH by the bridge.

The large pieces of rock are sometimes beyond the excavator's ability and they have to send a crane and flatbed truck down there to move them.

------

Also on a cliff, of another sort, are the Best family of Tryon.  While solving the problems of conventional agriculture and the winnowing effect is seems to have on the family farm on PEI are not related to Plan B or a goal of the Citizens' Alliance, the Best family puts a face on the issue,
and is a story worth sharing.  Help first, work on solving the problem later.

Edith Ling and Steven MacKinnon, caring individuals who have seen a lot of pressures in farming on PEI, wrote in Friday's Guardian: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-06-21/article-3284826/Defending-the-Best-family-farm/1

Defending the Best family farm

Published on June 21, 2013

Commentary

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has been kept updated on the issues facing Best Acre Farm in Tryon, which is confronting bankruptcy. We are speaking out in strong support of one of our valued members. The Best family - David, Heather, Brian, Dale, Greg, and their families - are facing a possible devastating loss. Their potato farm is under threat. It's not just a farm. It's not just a livelihood. It is their life.

David Best says, "for years we couldn't do anything wrong, and then these past years we can't seem to do anything right." The NFU knows that this competent farm family has every reason to be bewildered. Their present situation is not their fault. They are good farmers. They make their decisions with great care. They do not buy new machinery, if what they have serves them well.

The NFU has seen too many good farmers go down, caught in the same confusing and hurtful bind. Many of the farms that are no longer in operation lose ground because of forces outside their farm. The NFU knows that a farm family can rarely recover from a series of misfortunes like the loss of crop sales due to the threat of diseases, weather patterns, and uncontrolled fluctuation in prices. They know how unfriendly the marketplace is for farm families. Most farmers in financial difficulties know in their heads that this is true, but often, deep down, they tend to blame themselves.

The Best family farm has contributed untold amount of wealth to the local and Island economy, including the interest they have already paid on their farm debts. It is sad that after 50 years of hard work that the family could end up with nothing.

The Best family has had the courage to go public with their situation, even though this is very painful for any farm family to do. But now that it is in the public domain, on the Internet, and in local media, the community has an opportunity to share in the thoughts and feelings of these neighbours. The Bests appreciate all the gestures of support they are receiving, from the Kensington variety concert to cards and letters as well as the contributions they are receiving in person and via the Internet. Donations can be made at: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/saving-best-acre-farms or at any Canadian branch of the Bank of Nova Scotia (acct. # 307830019186) or any branch of TD Canada Trust (acct #56836108480) across Canada.

The family's immediate objective is to satisfy the creditors in order to have the mortgage sale cancelled so the farm can remain in the hands of the Best family.

It is in the community interest to keep Best Acre Farms in operation. It is against the best interests of the society to continue to let family farms disappear. It is time for our society to take responsibility: we cannot go on losing more and more family farms. We have to speak up for this way of farming. We have to defend farm families like the Bests. Consumers are paying a healthy price for produce at the grocery stores, but there is too little of the consumer dollar staying at the farm gate. Not many people are working for the same wages as they received 40 years ago. Potato prices this past winter were the same as they were 40 years ago yet farm input costs have increased eight to 10 ten times over what they were during the same time period.

Edith Ling of North Winsloe is the NFU's women's district director and Steven MacKinnon of New Argyle is district director.

Enjoy your day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 22, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

If you have a chance this weekend, you may want to comment on the draft recommendations of the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee, which is asking for public input with a deadline of Thursday, June 27th.  (Consider coming to Bonshaw Provincial Park to walk around the area, too.  No nearby construction usually, on Sundays.)

http://www.gov.pe.ca/tir/bonshawhills

I was able to go on the walk along some parts of the properties Friday, and it was a lovely morning to be out.  Megan Harris, West River Watershed Coordinator and committee member, led a group and talked to the media.


Hemlock along the area

https://sites.google.com/site/stopplanbtchbonshawpei/updates/June%2022%20%232.jpg
Hikers along one of the existing trails


Footbridge from Bonshaw trails to Green Road (leads to other trails in the area), picturesque and functional for walkers and cyclists. You can see it could use some help.

The media knew about the walk and CBC sent a camera crew, as it's a feel-good story without being too complicated.  This piece, about 8:30 minutes into the broadcast, does give the false assumption that the committee's work right now *is* the final plan and will be what is done.  http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/ID/2392988082/

**Rather, the committee is seeking public input for another few days, will finish its recommendations, then the province will figure out the management plan for the land in the next year.

------

My comments for commenting:

The website form is fairly quick to use and walks you through some questions (it's a choice on the front page of the website and here): http://www.gov.pe.ca/tir/bonshawfeedback.php3

Some suggestions you may want to consider:

*this committee or some members of it should help with the management plan, and the public be able to comment on the management plan (next year)

*recommendation that the footbridge along Green Road (by Crosby's Mill) be replaced to improve functionality of trail system

Would you like to read others' submissions but don't want to open several different pdfs?

OK, they are cut and pasted below.  These are the only ones on the website as of today:

Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee Draft Recommendations Feedback (May 15th to June 8th, 2013)

taken from TIR's website without their permission!

May 15th

Would you or your family members use these lands? If so, how?: ---------------------------------

I love to bike and what a great idea. One would not have to be concerned about traffic. I do not bike the roads - only our beautiful Island Trails. I am also a walker and snow shoe in winter time. I for one would make good use of any new trails and it is so close to my home.

May 17th

Who should own/manage these lands?: ---------------------------------

Lands should be owned by the province but be protected forever by legislation. This environmentally sensitive land should not ever be sold and building permits should never be permitted within this environmental zone. (ie. see cottages built on dunes at St Peters Lake) Lands could and should be managed by a group like "Island Nature Trust", but some of these groups eventually "die" or become overtaken by people with other interests. (Legislation needed.)

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Would you or your family members use these lands? If so, how?:

---------------------------------

YES, my family would use these trails in every season to enjoy the seasonal changes of the riparian zone and the woodlands by hiking, snowshoeing and skiing.

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What did you like best about the committee's recommendations?: ---------------------------------

The best thing about these recommendations is that the protected natural area is close to thousands of children and should be THE mandatory spring fieldtrip of the schools in the area. This area can continue as a research area for UPEI and Holland College. Interpetive fieldtrips should be a requirement of schools at about the grades 6, 9 and 12. These could be provided by DOE through the Island Nature Trust or UPEI.

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What did you like least about the committee's recommendations?: --------------------------------- This should have been done before the "shovels hit the ground".

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Other Comments:

---------------------------------

I''m a retired Science teacher and the most common comment that I get from my former students is the appreciation they now have to give their children about nature from the fieldtrips that I walked them to in the woods, streams and beaches.In June we didn''t go ton the usual school trips to Cavendish, we found "Lady''s Slippers" and other forest plants, caught and released "spring peepers", released salmon we had raised from eggs in the classroom aquarium into the Morell River and then went swimming with them.

I just read the report today and will probably have more reaction in the future. (Also no spell check done)

May 19th

Who should own/manage these lands?: ---------------------------------

The Island Nature Trust with input from other stakeholders. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Would you or your family members use these lands? If so, how?: ---------------------------------

Yes - primarily hiking. There is a great opportunity to make this an area an exceptional learning and cultural "experience". For example - how the forest provided food (maple sugar), and medicine in addition to tree identification and the properties and uses of the trees, as well as the habits of the creatures that live in the ecosystems.

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 What did you like best about the committee's recommendations?: --------------------------------- Motorized vehicles are forbidden. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What did you like least about the committee's recommendations?: ---------------------------------

The report is vague and lacks vision. This is somewhat surprising as the public interest in this area is very high.

Canada''s first ediable public food forest would be a wounderful aim for at least part of this project. (there is currently one being developed on private land in Brookvale - a permaculture ediable food forest as reported in the Guardian July 26, 2012) The first food forest in the US (in Seattle) is currently getting great fanfare.

It does not appear the First Nation people had input into this report. Much was written about their involvement in the Plan B protests. There is at least an oral tradition that they used the area historically. Perhaps bringing this history alive could be a part of the plan to help bridge the cultural gap and help honour their tradition. (certainly in respect of the products the forest in this area provided, like medicinal plants)

There is no comments of including art in the plan. A sculpture trail, made from fallen wood from the area, would seem appropriate.

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 Other Comments: ---------------------------------

It would be useful if a guided tour of the area could be given and the vision for each site and the overall plan explained on site. This would enhance the public''s understanding of the committee''s vision and help ensure meaningful public input.

An opportunity to alleviate some of the pain caused by Plan B-largely a result of perceived or real lack of public consultation should not be passed up.

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May 19th (#2)

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Who should own/manage these lands?:

---------------------------------

I fully endorse the recommendations of the committee. The two parcels of land closest to the parks might best be incorporated into the existing protected regions while the remaining parcels could be owned and/or managed by the Nature Trust. I''m slightly concerned about management costs - the Nature Trust is, I expect, stretched financially given their current projects/lands and the provincial government hasn''t shown a strong interest in conservation projects. However, as the costs should be minimal, I think that both could take on the responsibility.

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Would you or your family members use these lands? If so, how?: ---------------------------------

Primarily walking the trails and snowshoeing. It would be nice to see the trails as being "dog friendly" (i.e. off leash). While this might interfere slightly with cyclists, the traffic volume is likely to be low so I doubt that this would be a huge problem.

As a teacher, I can also see myself using the areas designated for educational use (mainly by Holland College and UPEI) for field trips, etc.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What did you like best about the committee's recommendations?: ---------------------------------

The recommendations were well thought out given the differing the range of current and possible uses of the land. I''m glad that they''ve separated them into individual recommendations based on the ecological and existing characteristics/location of each parcel (although I''m not sure why the two parcels directly north of the Bonshaw Park aren''t combined into one). I also like the idea of swapping some of the land that could be used for farming for more sensitive land such as that adjacent to the river.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What did you like least about the committee's recommendations?: ---------------------------------

The possibility of a footbridge over Eliot River was discounted a bit too quickly in my opinion. This could be done in an ecologically friendly manner with little disruption to the stream itself. It would be great to join the new trail system to the existing one on the west side of the river. The more important problem might be the increased traffic using the current trail system. Given that this is on existing land, it should be discussed with the current landowners to assess the feasibility of linking the trails. This would no doubt provide the longest continual trail system on the Island.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 Other Comments: ---------------------------------

This was an excellent committee made up of some very bright people. Many views were obviously considered and the report was balanced with a set of strong recommendations. I encourage the provincial government to consider it very closely when determining the fate of this land.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May 21st

Who should own/manage these lands?:

---------------------------------

I''m not sure who should own/manage these lands but I do think the land should be reserved as some sort of nature trust with hiking/biking/snowshoeing trails.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Would you or your family members use these lands? If so, how?: ---------------------------------

My family (myself, wife, young son and dog) use the strathgartney trails to go for hikes and I also use the trails for biking. IF there were more trails we would continue to use these trails and may visit more often as there would be more trails.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What did you like best about the committee's recommendations?: ---------------------------------

I like that they are recommending that the park be expanded with more trails. This area of PEI is ideal for trails. There seems to be more and more people getting into mountain biking and snowshoeing and having more trails for them to use will only help attract more people.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May 24th

Other Comments: ---------------------------------

Balancing land preservation, protection and public access / use. The idea that these two different goals can successfully coexist is important to apply due diligence to. The Conservation of Public Lands – The focus on the Long-term Management of Public Lands is critically important and I believe the scope of the work of this committee should soley focus on those parcels that are currently designated as such.

The question of HOW we go about things is as important as the What to do. I think about the rights of the private sector land owners adjacent to parks and suggest a respectful approach in the exploration of potential acquisition and or use of privately owned land. A responsible approach is one that respects the land rights of the current ownership. Upholding Riparian Rights is not negotiable, strategic or optional. It is foundational and required. As I review the draft recommendations, it clearly explains land acquisition as the purchase, trade for other land(s) or acceptance of a gift of land(s). I do not see any recognition of a very important point - Private land owners always maintain their right to a 4 th option: None of the above. In other words, to be very clear, acquisition is only an option with the agreement of the land owner. I believe this should be a key driver that is respected and maintained within this process. THE HOW we proceed is critical in maintaining a respectful process.

Maintaining the pristine nature of a space in the purest sense is leaving it untouched. We have VIRGIN woods to protect and preserve. Untouched equals undisturbed. This is the purest form of protection.

What can public access bring without a long term commitment to responsible environmental and fiscal management? In a word, Risk. Mitigating Risk is best done with an intensive assessment on the front end of a process. Anticipating potential risks with public use needs to be an important part of this committee’s deliberations.

What kinds of risks should we be thinking of? Environmental Footprint. ( natural habitat ) Effective management will require resources. Long term management plans for the ecologically important lands that have been impacted by the TCH Realignment Project identified as 5 provincial parcels I believe should be the primary focus of the committee.    Strategic Acquisition of additional lands in my view is unnecessary and is contrary to the goal of preservation and

protection. Let’s not fall into the trap of thinking “ bigger is better.” Maximizing our efforts with existing land acquired / owned should be paramount.

Infrastructure will need to be maintained. This hasn’t been the case consistently with the parks as they exist today. Human activity unmonitored can bring negative outcomes. Safety and Liability need to be carefully considered

Is the concept of JOINING TWO PARKS central and committed as a VISION moving forward? Full exploration, consideration and true consultation would suggest the JOINING OF TWO PARKS is not an eventuality but rather a concept for consideration. I would suggest the objectives of the committee can be met without the JOINING OF PARKS.

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May 27th

Hello: Late coming but I have a suggestion for some of the Bonshaw Hills land. As a dog owner and lover, I would love to see a Dog Park created so our dogs can run free, play and connect with other dogs. Dogs are not allowed off-leash on the Confederation Trail or in Provincial Parks or on beaches. All that great fencing up around Encounter Creek could be recycled and used to surround a Dog Park.

Please consider this suggestion. It wouldn't take up a lot of space but would certainly be a welcome feature!

May 28th (#1)

Who should own/manage these lands?: ---------------------------------

Ideally, a non-profit trust would be the best steward of the lands. If not possible than the provincial government would be the next best option; however, I would like to see legislation in place protecting those lands in perpetuity.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Would you or your family members use these lands? If so, how?: ---------------------------------

I currently use the trail system at Strathgartney that connects all the way to the equestrian park . I really enjoy running on the trails and would definitely take advantage of an expanded trail system. The trails should be kept as natural as possible, similar to the trails that already exist at Strathgartney.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- What did you like best about the committee's recommendations?: ---------------------------------

The incorporation of recreation into the wilderness park. Our province promotes itself as a natural, wholesome, destination, yet there is very little choice when it comes to actually getting out on a true trail and getting close to nature. The recommended type of park system would be ideal, and generally very inexpensive to maintain.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What did you like least about the committee's recommendations?: ---------------------------------

I hope that the areas that would be leased to UPEI and Holland College would still be available for public use.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Other Comments:

---------------------------------

I think the recommendations are very solid and if implemented would be an excellent draw for tourists and visitors to the area, as well as the Island.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May 28th (#2)

Who should own/manage these lands?: --------------------------------- probably mixed ownership ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Other Comments: ---------------------------------

After reading the draft report and attending the public meeting on May 27 I offer the following comments. The Committee is to be congratulated on the excellent work done in preparing the draft report. The Committee has obviously gone beyond the defined mandate of developing a long-term management plan for the five properties identified by the department of Environment, Labor and Justice.

The Committee has done an excellent job laying out the potential for management, development and conservation in the general area of the Plan ‘B’ highway realignment. Allow me to quote from the draft report page 17; “The Committee has put considerable thought onto how best to balance competing uses and enhance linkages between parcels. We recommend that the Province and their partner NGOs promote increased connectivity by exploring options to protect adjacent private lands, particularly those with ecological integrity.

Although the potential for connectivity of these pieces is important, it will likely not be possible to link them all. Hence, the following table and subsections describe the attributes and possible management of each land parcel individually.” My concern is that staff at TIR will focus on the last paragraph and ignore the first paragraph and recommend to the Minister to accept the management plans for the five identified parcels of land as laid out in section 5.4 Land Parcel – Specific Management Recommendations. The Department will close the file having met the requirements of Condition 9 imposed by the Department of the Environment. The Committee should consider rewording the last paragraph.

Personally I like the expanded park concept as depicted in fig. 10. Infect I would like to see this concept expanded. 1)    Include a corridor along the West River to parcel C. This was also brought up by a local resident at the meeting.

2)    Parcel G.... A developer spoke at the meeting about building affordable housing on the boundary of this parcel of land for people with disabilities on the New Haven side. I have no issue with this plan if developed properly. Another person raised the question of building an interpretive centre in the area. The latter suggestion was not encouraged by one of the Committee members. It has been a while since I took the kids for a train ride on the former Fairyland property. Having said this I wonder if this parcel G, which has some commercial infrastructure, should be considered in part, or at least have land set aside for building an interpretive centre. The interpretive centre should have a broad definition to include the aspirations of Nature PEI to build a facility to display the natural history and geology of Prince Edward Island.

3)    The old highway right of way is not mentioned in the report. As part of a master plan I suggest that the Government should consider developing a paved trail for cycling and walking along this route similar to the work done by Parks Canada along the north shore. This cycling/walking route would provide connectivity between the various parcels especially parcel G if this parcel was to become a significant interpretive centre.

4)    As mentioned by the moderator at the meeting the work of the Committee has become an organic process. It would be a shame if this organic process came to an end October 1. TIR has a mandate to fulfill. The organic process is beyond the scope and mandate of TIR. The final draft of the report should have language to allow TIR to satisfy the requirements laid out in Condition 9 imposed by the Department of the Environment.

5)    There should be a strong recommendation that Government review and accept the report of the Committee. That Government narrow down some of the ownership options. That Government accept the concept of a Provincial “wilderness "Park. That Government appoint a new Committee to build on the work done by this Committee. Government should consider making another Department, probably Forestry, to be the lead agency of the new Committee.

The new Committee may very well be composed of the same members as the current Committee. My comments are in response to the request for feedback and are in no way meant as criticism of the staff of TIR or its minister. The first order for the new Committee should be to meet with all land owners in the area and get them to buy into a master plan. This does not necessarily mean that they have to agree to relinquish any property rights.

I look forward to the opportunity to stop in at the Interpretive Centre on Parcel G. Walk or bike along the old TCH right of way. Maybe walk down parcel C to the river and follow the river. Cross under the highway and walk the trails of parcel E and F.

May 29th

Who should own/manage these lands?: ---------------------------------

Island Nature Trust would be the ideal organization to own these lands. Partnership with the Provincial government would be beneficial particularly with regard to liability issues. I would not want to see it as a provincial park in case it was later treated as an asset to be sold.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Would you or your family members use these lands? If so, how?: --------------------------------- We would use an area like this extensively for hiking, bird watching and winter activities. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What did you like best about the committee's recommendations?: --------------------------------- The vision to see multiple areas being linked in order to provide maximum benefit for wildlife. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Other Comments: ---------------------------------

This is an excellent proposal, and the government should use this as a template for similar projects in other areas of the province.

June 3rd

I live in (---) and have been following various aspects of the Plan B Project. I also belong to a number of Voluntary or Community organizations.

I have raised the question of interacting trails. pathways, etc on the so called Bonshaw Hills Land. In particular I am concerned about accessibility as well as safety in accessing and the future use of these lands.

I understand that there will be an underpass as part of the reconstructed Bonshaw Bridge. Good. However there should be another underpass access at the eastern end of the Lands presumably east of Peter's Road. In conjunction with the culvert structures for passage of water I recommend and urge that there be a provision for an underpass here to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and possibly even horses depending on the ultimate use of themlands in the medium and or long term as well whether in the form of a concrete box culvert or other structure.

Now is the time to do this when the road bed is being put in place. If this is already a part of the Plan for the highway realignment and future use of the adjacent property then that is good to know.

This then for your use and consideration. I ask that my comments be brought to the attention of your full committee.

June 8th

Who should own/manage these lands?

---------------------------------

With the exception of the existing Provincial Parks an independent party such as the Island Nature Trust

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Would you or your family members use these lands? If so, how?:

---------------------------------

Yes. Walking the existing and hopefully new trails.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What did you like best about the committee's recommendations?:

---------------------------------

The concept of tying the two existing Provincial Parks into a bigger entity.

Having walking trails from Starthgartney Provincial Park along the River to and above the Green Road bridge.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Other Comments:

---------------------------------

The Green Road walking bridge should be replaced. It is on a public right of way so should be replaced by T.I.R.

June 21, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Some items of interest:

Walk areas of interest with some members of the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee (BHPLC):
The good news is that the BHPLC, taking the suggestion of tireless Plan B opponent Pauline Howard, planned a walk of some of the parcels they discuss in their draft proposal of recommendations, before the deadline for public submissions -- June 27th.
The bad news is the walk is *this morning*, June 21st, at 10:30AM, meeting at the Bonshaw Provincial Park (west side of the TCH past the go-cart place).  Sorry for the short notice, but I didn't hear about it until last night.  There is an article in today's Guardian (copied below).

If you can make it, wear sturdy shoes, bring water and your favourite bug repellant.  Also, be aware that today is the day they are bringing in cement trucks to pour the extension of the Bonshaw Bridge, which will be unloading from the westbound lane of the TCH near the provincial park entrance.

Demotion of property acquired for Plan B.

The home of some wonderful residents, Wednesday, June 19th, 2013, along TCH near Strathgartney Park's entrance.

Thursday, June 20th. 

One of the saddest chapters of this whole Plan B debacle is the provincially-staged exodus of some older residents along the TCH in Churchill and New Haven.  Now provincial property, the shells stood after a winter of abandonment, a spring of neglect, and in recent weeks marked with yellow "property sale" signs; this past week it was as if ravens arrived and plucked out the windows and other valuable components.   Yesterday, two of the homes were destroyed by excavator.

About a year, I think I remember Transportation Minister Vessey, when it was revealed that cost of the properties was not part of the matching-funds Gateway money, said they might make money selling the homes (along with the "valuable" Fairyland buildings).  Someone told me recently all the costly hoops a potential buyer was expected to go through made the price of buying and moving one of the homes unrealistically expensive.

And rather disappointing CBC TV Compass coverage last night: 8minutes in http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/ID/2392668217/
Excerpts from what the anchor read:
"Demolition started today on homes that are in the path of the island's new highway.
The Province says three homes.....
Some residents opposed the project because of the impact on communities and natural areas.
The Province says demolition will be complete in a few weeks.  The *new highway* [said with near-patriotic emphasis] should be done by fall."

Yes, some residents did oppose it because of the impact on communities and natural areas.  *Many Islanders* oppose it for those reasons AND because of the cost, the lack of consultation on Plan B, and the way safety data and public comments were hidden or distorted.   I think the Province is getting *their* message out through the mainstream media just fine, but Islanders have to keep their eyes open and not forget the whole story.

Islanders Invited to Tour Bonshaw Hills Land
Published on June 20, 2013
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2013-06-20/article-3284723/Islanders-invited-to-tour-Bonshaw-Hills-land/1
Happy Summer Solstice, all!
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 20, 2013

Demolition of homes begins in path of new highway begins  -- CBC Compass TV News

http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/ID/2392668217/

Islanders Invited to Tour Bonshaw Hills Land -- The Guardian website

In this Guardian file photo from September 2012, a group of people walk along the Peters Road in the Bonshaw Hills. Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

In this Guardian file photo from September 2012, a group of people walk along the Peters Road in the Bonshaw Hills.

Islanders are invited to join members of the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee on Friday to see the property under consideration and to give their feedback on the future management of the land.

“The land in the Bonshaw area is unlike anywhere else on Prince Edward Island, but many Islanders have not had the opportunity to explore and experience this area,” said Todd Dupuis, co-chairman of the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee.

“That’s why we want to invite Islanders to tour some of the land and encourage them to give us their feedback on how they think it should be managed and used in the future.”

The public tour will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday. Participants will meet at the Bonshaw Provincial Park.

The committee, consisting of representatives from a variety of organizations with expertise in the areas of land use, conservation, recreation and environmental stewardship, was formed to make recommendations for the future use of roughly 400 acres in the Bonshaw and New Haven area.

The land includes parcels acquired as part of the Trans-Canada Highway realignment project in Churchill, known as Plan B, as well as existing provincially owned lands in the area.

Recommendations in the committee’s draft report include linking the properties with Strathgartney and Bonshaw parks to create one expanded provincial park; designating all provincial lands in the area under the Natural Areas Protection Act (NAPA) for their exceptional ecological value; and exploring options to protect adjacent private lands with high ecological integrity.

The public can view the report and submit online feedback at www.gov.pe.ca/bonshawhills. The deadline for feedback is June 27. The committee will carefully review all of the feedback before submitting a final report and recommendations to the minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal in the fall.

June 19, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Plan B, Fairyland, June 16, 2013 (a week after June 8th rain).

An excellent letter in yesterday's Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-06-18/article-3282564/What-about-other-projects/1

Hope you have a good day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 18, 2013

What about other projects? -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

The Guardian's article in June 14 edition, ‘Rivers run red around Plan B site after heavy rain', brought a number of issues to the surface.

Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal's designated spokesperson, Stephen Yeo, spoke of siltation mitigation on the Plan B site needing "adjustments" after the last significant rainfall. In Section 3.23 of the Environmental Protection Plan cobbled together for this project, it states that "The Federal Fisheries Act prohibits the deposit of deleterious substances, including eroded soil, into any fish bearing watercourses and wetlands." It further states that "all erosion control structures will be inspected before, during and following each rainfall event."

Any "adjustments" required to adequately address the incursion off sediment generated by this project should have taken place before the system was breached.

Once again, Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal isn't in compliance with its own regulations.

When Mr. Yeo states that the on-site environmental controls on this project being "over and beyond any construction job ever done on P.E.I. before", it makes me wonder how low the bar was set before Plan B spawned such prolonged public scrutiny. I am that much more concerned about any other projects they now have on the drawing board.

Boyd Allen, Pownal

June 17, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

What a difference a year makes:

Fairyland, New Haven, PEI, June 2012, along the surveyor's cut:


Going down toward one of Fairyland ravines, June 2012.

The top of this ravine had the largest group of Lady Slippers flowers I had ever seen, June 2012.

Fairyland, New Haven, PEI, June 2013
Dirt blows in the wind, Fairyland, top of ravine, looking east, June 2013.

----

Saturday afternoon was lovely and we had a great clean-up at the Camp, to get it ready for summer environmental monitoring.  Thanks to all who were able to be there.  I'll find some photos to share.

----

Just a reminder that a memorial service will be held today at 2PM for Erskine Smith, entertainer and giver, at the South Shore United Church, Route 10 (off the TCH in Tryon).

Best wishes,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 16, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Riddle:  What's black and white and not as "read" as it should be?
Answer: RED The Island Story Book

It's big and beautiful and costs more than a cup of coffee, but so much is tucked between its glossy covers.  The best little stores carry it, but if it's not in the budget, the library has the current issue and back issues to check out.   You could consider reading it as " current events for Islanders": current events of days gone by, and current events of everything-old-is-new-again. The spirit of what it means to be an Islander, the spirit of the Brothers and Sisters of Cornelius Howatt, told through stories. It's a talented crew putting it together, with contributions from young and old, far and wide.

In previous issue (Fall/Winter 2012), David Weale's editorial notes are worth reading and rereading.  The article about the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society is eye-opening, Joe Kern's story on hugs heart-warming, and many stories offer a peak of times past.

The most recent Red has a biscuit recipe by Chef Michael Smith worth the cost of the issue, and it also has a simply sweet bouquet to all of us Plan B people, which is acknowledged with humble gratitude.

Hope you can find a copy.

http://davidweale.com/red-the-island-storybook/

Happy Father's Day to all!
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 15, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Just in case you didn't see the article with Larry Cosgrave where he refutes Chief Engineer Yeo's soft-pedaling of last week's mitigation failures:

Bonshaw creek runs red around Plan B site

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/media/photos/unis/2013/06/13/photo_2364600_resize.jpg

Larry Cosgrave, SPECIAL to the GUARDIAN

Screen capture of video taken by Larry Cosgrave of a silt fence being over-run during heavy rains at the Plan B construction site on Saturday, June 8.

Published on June 13, 2013  by Nigel Armstrong RSS                 Feed

A river running red at the Plan B construction site after heavy rains this past Saturday is either a testament to indifference or a minor glitch in a success story depending on which side of a silt fence the viewer stands.

Larry Cosgrave has long been an opponent of the Trans Canada highway re-alignment project in the Churchill Bonshaw area.

He knew that forecast rains for last weekend would show up troubles with systems designed to control silt runoff from the construction zone.

"I thought I would just go and record it, so I did," said Cosgrave. "It wasn't as dramatic as the previous one (in November) but it still shows that they are not doing adequate mitigation's to stop the problems.

(Video here: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2013-06-13/article-3276758/Bonshaw-creek-runs-red-around-Plan-B-site/1
or here: http://www.stopplanb.org/   )

"Last November there was a huge one (sediment runoff)," said Cosgrave. "They have done a lot of fixing up, but it's sort of like they do it after the fact.

"They fix it after, rather than being able to forecast and engineer it for what they should logically expect to happen.

"They are pumping out from a silt pond and (the muddy water) goes up a hill then down through some vegetation. That's where they expect it to dissipate and sink in before it gets down but the rain was so heavy that it just flowed right down the hill.

"It's still turning the rivers red," said Cosgrave.

Only during really hard rains, and it's not so bad, says Stephen Yeo, chief engineer for capital projects with the province.

"We do have an awful lot of (sediment) controls out there, from settling ponds to straw matting to rock dams, to filter bags," said Yeo.

"There is a lot of mitigation measures in place there. A lot of it is working tremendously well and we do have vegetation growing on the slopes already, in areas, so things are working well.

"With the measures we have taken, it's over and above any construction job we have probably ever done on P.E.I. before, the mitigation for environmental controls out there."

The video shows some areas that had mud flowing over the top of silt barriers.

Those were just a few isolated areas in a large-scale silt control project and will be patched, said Yeo.

"You always get the red discoloured water because of the types of soil we have on P.E.I. here, you know, suspended particles," said Yeo.

"We see that all across the Island in heavy rain conditions like we had. Every water course probably on P.E.I. had discoloured water in it that day," said Yeo. "We try to filter out, catch and maintain particularly the larger sediments."

The video show that areas upstream of the work site have waters running clear, but bright red below the work site.

"It's entirely from plan B," said Cosgrave.

"After a heavy rain event there will be sediment behind all the control structures, like behind silt fences, said Yeo.

"We do have discoloured water. We don't like any discoloured water but in rain events like that, we do.

"We worked hard to prepare. We knew the rain was coming but when you get that much rain you do have some structures that reach their capacity."

"Where is that (suspended particle) going to end up then?" said Cosgrave. "It's still heavier than the water so it has to settle down at some point.

"I think that he is just trying to soft peddle it, myself," said Cosgrave.

"Either they don't know what they are doing or they are not doing it right," he said.

"It is almost like lip service, or window dressing to kind of show 'oh look, we care for the environment,' when in fact, they don't seem to.

"I would just like to see something that is really going to work, that is going to stop the runoff and do something serious," said Cosgrave.

What is in place now at the highway project is doing a good job and just needs adjustments, said Yeo.

"We are making adjustments, to put some straw bales and straw dams behind that because it is at its maximum what it can hold back now," he said of the silt fence in the video.

NArmstrong@TheGuardian.pe.ca

On-line link to Guardian article:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2013-06-13/article-3276758/Bonshaw-creek-runs-red-around-Plan-B-site/1

June 14, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Guardian website features a story by Nigel Armstrong that explores the two different viewpoints (what people on the ground saw and how Chief Engineer Stephen Yeo tried to explain it) of the results of the rain Saturday at Plan B, featuring a link to Larry Cosgrave's video from last Saturday:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2013-06-13/article-3276758/Bonshaw-creek-runs-red-around-Plan-B-site/1

CBC Radio touched briefly on the concerns about the rain in a short news item Wednesday, with comments only from Mr. Yeo.

And the West River Watershed of the Central Queens Wildlife Federation is holding its monthly Volunteer Day starting at 9AM, meeting at the corner of Wynn Road and Peter's Road, to work on Howell's Brook.  For more information, see:
http://centralqueenswildlife.com/get-involved/
 and write:  cqwf.pei@gmail.com
----
Also, 2PM Saturday, if you are going to be near MacPhail Woods in Orwell, Gary Schneider is hosting biologist Bob Bancroft for a session on "Bringing Nature Back to Woodlands". 
http://www.macphailwoods.org/
Bob Bancroft is a *fantastic* speaker.

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 13, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Fortunately, yesterday's rains were mild at the Plan B sites and no major run-off happened that I have heard of.

Just a few reminders:
Tonight:
"El Contrato", a movie about migrant tomoto pickers in Ontario
Movie, 7PM, Murphy's Center, admission by donation
sponsored by Cinema Politica
https://www.facebook.com/vents/648317938515858/

"Food vs. Fuel: The Great Grain Dinner and Debate"
Fundraiser for the Atlantic Agricultural Leadership program
Dutch Inn, 6PM, $60 ($25 tax receipt)
http://www.agleaders.ca/food-vs-fuel/

----------------

By June 27th:
And there are two weeks left to make comments about the draft recommendations from the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee.
http://www.gov.pe.ca/tir/bonshawhills
This webpage has the map produced for the BHPLC (which has the most accurate drawing of where the road and access roads are going that's been made public by TIR), and three choices (to download the report, to get to the form to send a comment, and to select to open and read pdfs of other comments). 
It is rather clunky to keep selecting and downloading the comments --perhaps the website person could stitch all the comments together and put them on one page instead of having to open multiple pdfs -- but checking out others' comments may be a good way of reminding yourself of the important things that you may want to comment on.   The comment form is pretty short, if you want to use it.  Otherwise, I believe you can send comments to admin@islandnaturetrust.ca with "Bonshaw Hills" or something like that in the subject line.

Have a good day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

From the Committee's Report, copied without permission from:
Recommendations for the Conservation of Public Lands, Bonshaw – New Haven
Prepared by the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee   -- Draft for Public Comment May 2013

7. Summary of Committee’s Draft Recommendations
1. Regarding ownership of the provincial lands, the Committee recommends:
 a) The lands be transferred to non-profit land conservation trusts where possible; this is our preferred option b) As an alternative to transfer of the lands, those parcels in the vicinity of the two provincial parks (Bonshaw and Strathgartney) could be incorporated into an expanded provincial park
c) The lands could also be leased long-term (50+ years) to land conservation trust(s); we see this as a possibility only if the previous two options turn out to be unworkable d) Ownership of productive agricultural land could be turned over to the private sector if there was interest in a trade for other (private) lands of high ecological value in the vicinity
2. The Province should seek partnerships to undertake restoration, nature interpretation and active living recreation components of long-term management
3. All provincial lands in the area should be designated under NAPA for their exceptional ecological value, both individually and when considered as a whole, connected environment
4. Loop trails of several kilometres in length should be developed for active living and would be of great value in an expanded parklands concept
5. Trails must be carefully planned to balance the ecological sensitivity of some of the riparian and older upland forest stands with public use
6. The all-season use of any expanded parklands should be facilitated through access to year-round parking facilities and low-maintenance composting toilets
7. The leasing of land parcels A and B by University of PEI and Holland College is endorsed by the Committee; research and conservation needs should be the determinants of timing and extent of public access
8. The Province and partner NGOs should explore options to protect adjacent private lands with high ecological integrity
9. Parcel-specific management recommendations are listed in Table 2

June 11, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The sediment flow has stopped and workers from Transportation and Environment were assessing the damage from Saturday's rain. 


Plan B between Peter's Road and Crawford's Stream, June 10, 2013.

Dale Thompson from Environment, who is the Dedicated Employee as ordered by condition number 8 of Minister Sherry's approval of Plan B, along with another member of the Environment Department, met with a few of us yesterday to talk about what he does and how he works with TIR's Land and Environment people.  It was a good discussion and we were able to articulate our concerns (with communication between departments, with our wondering how his recommendations are handled, etc.), and felt we were being listened to.

Meanwhile, the hill above Crawford's Brook is being reduced and the area above the box culverts built up (where they are dumping).


Somebody is missing a back-up light, Crawford's Brook, right over the box culverts, June 11, 2013.

We will see what lessons they will apply for tomorrow's rain.

-------

Some events of note for Thursday, June 13th, revolving around food production issues:

"El Contrato", a movie about migrant tomoto pickers in Ontario
Movie, 7PM, Murphy's Center, admission by donation
sponsored by Cinema Politica
https://www.facebook.com/vents/648317938515858/

"Food vs. Fuel: The Great Grain Dinner and Debate"
Fundraiser for the Atlantic Agricultural Leadership program
Dutch Inn, 6PM, $60 ($25 tax receipt)
http://www.dal.ca/faculty/agriculture/news-events/news/2013/05/14/food_vs_fuel_the_great_grain_debate_and_dinner.html

Have a lovely day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 10, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

First, a note about Erskine Smith, who died unexpectedly yesterday, with how he touched our lives:  it was his enthusiastic giving.  He gave to his community, to his friends and neighbours, to every individual organizing something and needing a person to get up there and talk and keep things in line and pleasantly going.  He will be missed, and my heart goes out to those who knew and loved him.
-----

The "Protesting After Plan B -- A Legal Perspective" symposium Saturday afternoon was the second in a series of workshops organized by the Citizens' Alliance of PEI.  Lawyer Jacinta Gallant spoke to some legal issues with Plan B (what authority was cited in removing protestors, what they were actually charged with and why) and what could be applied to any other protest in PEI.  The Cooper Institute's Josie Baker looked at societal issues that influenced the Plan B situation and also at the future.  It helped to see the situation from various angles; it all crystallized in the root problem:  the government did not listen to the voice of the people regarding Plan B.  Distressingly, this seems to be the case with other issues, and citizens will continue to educate themselves on the issues and make their voice heard to government by every way they can.

It was a very nice afternoon of sharing: stories, experiences, concerns, food, camaraderie, and looking positively towards the future. It was great to see people thinking:  "Plan Beyond."   (And thanks to Kathleen Romans for coining that.)  Stayed tuned.

https://sites.google.com/site/stopplanbtchbonshawpei/updates/June%2010%20%231.jpg
Josie Baker and Jacinta Gallant at the Rights workshop, Cornwall Civic Center, June 8, 2013.

-----

Follow-up to Saturday's rain and the mitigation failures at Plan B
Here is the link to the two-minute video by Larry Cosgrave, in case you haven't see it:
https://www.facebook.com/video/embed?video_id=10152885566845705
(this should work even if you are not on Facebook.  Press the "HD" button (may need to pause it while it loads) to see it in much better detail.

Perhaps this link should be send to MLAs, along with this reminder:
Here is Minister Sherry's condition number 3 from her October 1, 2013, approval of Plan B:
3) TIR shall, in the event that sediment associated with the construction project enters a watercourse, immediately cease operations in the affected area and implement measures to divert sediment from entering the watercourse.

It was too wet for any cut-and-filling road crews to be working on the project, as they are most Saturdays.  There were one or two government employees seen and somebody pumped a bit, and fiddled with a sediment fence.  But no effective measures implemented: No crew of sandbaggers, no backhoe with additional gravel, nothing but a guy pumping the runoff back up the hill where it found another way to Crawford's Stream.   Is this because it was a Saturday (no media), because it's not seen from the road?   What about the conditions written and supposed taken so seriously by the Ministers of Environment and of Transportation?   Simply spraying hydroseed mixture a few hours before the rain begins is not good enough.  Nor will the predictable quotes from the chief engineer that "red water goes into red water on PEI" be an adequate defense for this.
A rough idea where the video and pictures of Saturday's rain were taken. 

Take care,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 9, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Yesterday's rain event was predictably distressing, as most if not all sediment controls failed. Here are a few photos from about 5PM, June 8, 2013, taken by me, so a bit after the peak of rain.

At this first part, east (or to the right if you were walking up Peter's Road for a walk) of where they have just closed Peter's Road off with a mountain of shale building up Plan B, mud was sliding down and into the wetland (on the right)

https://sites.google.com/site/stopplanbtchbonshawpei/updates/June%209%20%231.jpg

East of old Peter's Road at bottom of Plan B slope, June 8, 2013.

https://sites.google.com/site/stopplanbtchbonshawpei/updates/June%209%20%232.jpg

Close-up of area.

https://sites.google.com/site/stopplanbtchbonshawpei/updates/June%209%20%233.jpg

Standing on Plan B and looking down, further east from Peter's Road, June 8, 2013.

https://sites.google.com/site/stopplanbtchbonshawpei/updates/June%209%20%234.jpg

Run-off from Crawford's Brook hill, standing "above" the box culverts, June 8, 2013.

https://sites.google.com/site/stopplanbtchbonshawpei/updates/June%209%20%235.jpg

Not easy for the on-site employee to drive looking at things. Looking south, about 5:30PM, Saturday, June 8, 2013.  Plan B highway between Peter's Road and Crawford's Stream.

https://sites.google.com/site/stopplanbtchbonshawpei/updates/June%209%20%236.jpg

Moving eastward towards "new south Peter's Road", filter bags overwhelmed.  Runoff is going towards Crawford's Stream. There were issues with effective pumping of the sediment pond in upper right corner.

https://sites.google.com/site/stopplanbtchbonshawpei/updates/June%209%20%237.jpg

Sediment running into Crawford's Stream, June 8, 2013 (Hemlock Grove arch in bottom right).

https://sites.google.com/site/stopplanbtchbonshawpei/updates/June%209%20%233.jpg

Turning north, the hydro-seed washed out, north slop of Plan B, between Peter's Road and Stream.

Yours truly,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 8, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Yesterday, various groups of workers on various Plan B sections were working to stabilize some of the slopes by hydroseeding or by blowing chopped hay on them.

Even with application of hydroseeding, modest rains can cause ravines to form.  Hydroseeding sounds great but it's hard to coax grass to grow on broken chunks of sandstone, which is part of the mix on many of the slopes:


A north-facing hillside, Plan B at the top, recently hydroseeded.  Near Hemlock Grove, Plan B Highway, June 4, 2013.  (Apologies for the picture quality.)

TIR posted its (bi)weekly update on June 6th: http://www.gov.pe.ca/tir/index.php3?number=1044551&lang=E
And again, we give them credit for beefing up the content without self-aggrandizing.
No new photos, though.  (They are welcome to use ours.)

Their update is one of the buttons on the main TCH Plan B page http://www.gov.pe.ca/tir/tchimprovement
Here is a screen shot:

https://sites.google.com/site/stopplanbtchbonshawpei/updates/June%208%20%232a.jpg
Screen shot of TIR's website.

It still has:
  • a cutesy map on the home page without a scale or without the West River labeled
  • the top three buttons that lead to justifications for the project, written last fall in a defensive, pugnacious *and* pompous style, but also the current Updates botton
  • the "Detailed Route Map" link that goes to an outdated map as it shows "new south Peter's Road connection" going through Crawford's Stream (they changed the plan for this connector road a third time to avoid crossing the stream twice -- as it does at Hemlock Grove-- but remiss, 8 months after this decision, to get an updated detailed route map on this page).

but it does now have (not in this screen shot):

  • a construction schedule (!) link as a pdf, but you need to find a good, accurately labeled map to understand the location code numbers - will try to find one that is easy to post.
  • a direct link to the Gateway e-mail box saying "Send us an e-mail" 

While they cannot improve the justification of the project, but they are trying to improve their environmental control attempts on-site and their communication with Islanders on this website.  That's appreciated.

------
Today is our Rights Workshop -- the legal lessons learned from Plan B and how they can be applied to the future.
1-3PM, Cornwall Civic Centre (not APM Centre, but the building behind the Esso)
Free admission (donations accepted) and coffee and cookies will be served.  Come out of the rain and pop in!

Have a good weekend,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 7, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A few odds and ends:

Yesterday's Legislative Committee meeting on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry was interesting. The MLAs present included Chairperson Paula Biggar, and Government members Buck Watts, Bush Dumville and Sonny Gallant, and Opposition members James Aylward and Hal Perry.  Excellent presentations were made by Andrew Lush and Marie Burge from Don't Frank PEI http://dontfrackpei.com/web/  and by Ann Wheatley and Dr. Irene Novaczek from the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition.   Not only were descriptions of how fracking and drilling are conducted explained, but clearly, but why these are contraindicated for our land and our Gulf waters.  Grave concerns about the inadequacy of the Environmental Impact Assessment process were also expressed. 

In addition to just saying, "Don't do this!", the third presentation was by Matt McCarville, who tried to pass his enthusiasm and expertise on the subject that WWS -- Wind, Water and Solar -- are easy, clean energy options for PEI, with straightforward implementation strategies.  But it was a long afternoon and one of the MLAs was perhaps a little bushed and rested his eyes for a bit.
However, Matt has summarized his work in many places, and this YouTube is very informative and perhaps should be a primer for all the MLAs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teqRn6IjCxg

It was disappointing, and perhaps revealing, that one of the questions from a Government MLA was something like (I am paraphrasing), "Well, of course water is our more precious resource, but if fracking is done right, then it will be OK."  Audible groans from the 25 or so spectators in the public seating.  So of course this bears continued public (and government!) information and watching.  These groups are here, with fantastic individuals working very hard, and as the Citizens' Alliance we support them.

------
A letter to the editor regarding the Institute of Island Studies makes a good case:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-06-05/article-3269561/Renew-the-contract-for-IIS-director/1
----
And please remember the "Rights" workshop is tomorrow, from 1-3PM, at the Cornwall Civic centre.  You can pass on this link to people with any concern on PEI that they may need to bring to government's attention.
http://www.watchpei.org/

Enjoy this sunny day!
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 7, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A few odds and ends:

Yesterday's Legislative Committee meeting on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry was interesting. The MLAs present included Chairperson Paula Biggar, and Government members Buck Watts, Bush Dumville and Sonny Gallant, and Opposition members James Aylward and Hal Perry.  Excellent presentations were made by Andrew Lush and Marie Burge from Don't Frank PEI http://dontfrackpei.com/web/  and by Ann Wheatley and Dr. Irene Novaczek from the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition.   Not only were descriptions of how fracking and drilling are conducted explained, but clearly, but why these are contraindicated for our land and our Gulf waters.  Grave concerns about the inadequacy of the Environmental Impact Assessment process were also expressed. 

In addition to just saying, "Don't do this!", the third presentation was by Matt McCarville, who tried to pass his enthusiasm and expertise on the subject that WWS -- Wind, Water and Solar -- are easy, clean energy options for PEI, with straightforward implementation strategies.  But it was a long afternoon and one of the MLAs was perhaps a little bushed and rested his eyes for a bit.
However, Matt has summarized his work in many places, and this YouTube is very informative and perhaps should be a primer for all the MLAs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teqRn6IjCxg

It was disappointing, and perhaps revealing, that one of the questions from a Government MLA was something like (I am paraphrasing), "Well, of course water is our more precious resource, but if fracking is done right, then it will be OK."  Audible groans from the 25 or so spectators in the public seating.  So of course this bears continued public (and government!) information and watching.  These groups are here, with fantastic individuals working very hard, and as the Citizens' Alliance we support them.

------
A letter to the editor regarding the Institute of Island Studies makes a good case:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-06-05/article-3269561/Renew-the-contract-for-IIS-director/1
----
And please remember the "Rights" workshop is tomorrow, from 1-3PM, at the Cornwall Civic centre.  You can pass on this link to people with any concern on PEI that they may need to bring to government's attention.
http://www.watchpei.org/

Enjoy this sunny day!
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 6, 2013

So, you decided to give out 130 Ipods to people on a flight from Toronto to Montreal, build an expensive road that nobody wants, still haven't disclosed exactly what happened with the disgraceful PNP scandal (hrm, wonder why?) and plan on spending a pile of money on next year's celebrations?
--Islander commenting on CBC news story on-line

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Cue the Munchkins: Follow the Bedrocky Road, Follow the Bedrocky Road!
https://sites.google.com/site/stopplanbtchbonshawpei/updates/June%206%20%231.jpgPart of Plan B east of the former Peter's Road, June 2013, presumably not the final layer of "fill."  Most of the road is packed down shale, but this section appears to be made of broken-up bedrock.

https://sites.google.com/site/stopplanbtchbonshawpei/updates/June%206%20%232.jpg

The rocky road material (larger cat food can for comparison), June 2013.

From May 2013, the size of bedrock chunks they are digging out around the Hemlock Grove area.
----

And a reminder about the Standing Committee meeting this afternoon, 1:30PM, Coles Building, where there will be presentations by Don't Frack PEI, Save Our Seas and Shores, and alternative energy ideas for PEI.  A nice way to hear some interesting information and show your support.

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 5, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

An update on what is going on at the Bonshaw end of things (in addition to the slow work of expanding the bridge over the West River) and why I don't hear as much digging.

Bonshaw cut of Plan B, Bonshaw Bridge to right out of photo, June 2, 2013.  TCH is at top, and small white figure is 5 foot 4 inch woman.

It's because they are digging so deep the sound isn't carrying up and over the hills as much as it was before.

And where are they putting the broken rock and shale?  That we do hear:

Built up section for Plan B, north of first picture, looking southwest towards Green Road, June 2, 2013.

---------

Reminders:
Thursday's
Legislative Committee meeting, with presentations from Don't Frack PEI and the SOSS group and an alternative energy expert.
1:30PM, Coles Building (red brick building next to Province House)
Who is on the committee?
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/committees/getCommittees.php?cnumber=11

Saturday
Here is the homepage of the Citizens' Alliance website with information about the "Legal Perspective" workshop Saturday:
https://sites.google.com/site/watchpeiorg/home?pli=1
facebook event
https://www.facebook.com/events/473373982742567/
A goal of the workshop is about understanding the legal implications of protest and finding ways to be effective in responding to government action.

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

June 4, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

We are on the boundary of a lot of issues on the Island these past few years.  Looking west at Crawford's Brook Hill, west of Peter's Road, Churchill, June 2nd, 2013.

"We don't need another commission to know which way the wind is blowing. We need our provincial government to come up with a step-by-step plan to significantly reduce pesticide use throughout the province. It is the right thing to do and the only way to get us out of this harmful cycle of annual fish kills."

That concludes Ann Wheatley of ECO-PEI's commentary in yesterday's Guardian.  She finds the real story in what's going on with Island agriculture and what government can do:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-05-31/article-3267489/A-disappointing-land-use-report/1
Full text below

Ann's article is in response to the "Action Committee on Sustainable Land Management", which sounded like it sustained the use of a lot of chemical inputs, and didn't have much action in it or action on it since it was released.  It is too bad that The Guardian used "Land Use Report" in the headline -- too many other reports or commissions right now, and they could be trying to clarify tittles, instead of muddying the waters while the Land Use Policy Task Force is going on. 

------
The Guardian printed a pleasant article about the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee's recommendations last week.  It was a nice piece of armchair-journalism, and the reporter has an open invitation to come see the area -- he hasn't seen Plan B since October.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2013-05-29/article-3264353/Public-input-begins-on-Bonshaw-Hills-proposal/1
Islanders are encouraged to comment on the proposal:http://www.gov.pe.ca/tir/bonshawhills
This website has a nicely updated Plan B map (the most accurate one on TIR's site, though that is not saying much), which I copied, annotated and used here to point out Plan B construction locations -- sorry for any confusion as to purposes.

And since some of these are Guardian links, I will add:
If you want to see Island computer guy Peter Rukavina's advice about changing settings on your computer so you can continue to enjoy access to The Guardian on-line, go to his twitter feed:
https://twitter.com/ruk/status/334679389247791106

Have a good day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

------

A disappointing land use report

Published on June 3rd, 2013

Tags: Action Committee on Sustainable Land Management , Board of the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island , P.E.I. , Canada

By Ann Wheatley, member of the board of the Environmental Coalition of PEI

Commentary

Sometimes it's the lack of news that is, in fact, newsworthy. This is certainly true in the case of the release of the report of the Government of Prince Edward Island's Action Committee on Sustainable Land Management.

The committee released its report in November last year, but you may be forgiven if it didn't catch your attention - it escaped notice by media and opposition parties alike. Later, in February a story did appear about the report, but again, there was very little public response. In a flash, it appeared and disappeared from view.

The report seemed to be deliberately underplayed, and the reason for that seems clear: it contained nothing of substance. It's a sad conclusion to an endeavor that started with such promise in the eyes of Agriculture Minister George Webster. When the committee was announced last fall, Minister Webster said that "Preventing fish kills is a priority for all Islanders, especially the agricultural community. The action committee is an opportunity to build new relationships between government, farmers and watershed groups at a community level to work together on solutions."

Some of us were less enthusiastic than Minister Webster. We wondered why the committee charged with finding solutions to fish kills, many of which are suspected to have been caused by pesticides, included a representative of CropLife, the industry association for manufacturers of chemical pesticides.

The final report, available on the P.E.I. government's website, gives an idea of how CropLife may have influenced the work of the committee. Despite clear evidence linking pesticides run-off to the fish kills that created the need for the "action committee", the report's authors never actually address the idea of reducing the use of pesticides. In fact, one of the committee's recommendations - to increase organic matter in soil adjacent to waterways - is suggested not as a means to improve nutrient levels, sequester carbon, retain moisture and reduce runoff - but to increase the capacity of the soil to hold pesticides. One could hardly argue against improving soil quality, but one could argue against doing so simply in order to facilitate pesticide application in close proximity to our rivers and streams.

The report recommends that attention be paid to soil conservation practices, and that's a good thing. But all of the recommendations are based on the premise that pesticides will always be with us. Several recommendations focus on the research into and selection of appropriate types of pesticides, and while responsible chemical use is obviously to be encouraged, we also need to look at ways to reduce or even eliminate chemical use. The report completely ignores organic agriculture as a possibility, despite the success of organic producers here in P.E.I., in the rest of Canada and around the world.

Thousands of tons of chemicals are released into our environment every year, and it only makes sense that there should be strict controls on where and when this can be done. At no point in the document is there a call for better enforcement of current regulations (although the authors do appeal to farmers to adhere to current regulations), or for strengthened policy to avoid fish kills in the future.

Instead, Islanders are called upon to share responsibility for stewardship of our land and water in a practical way, by directing tax dollars towards buying sensitive lands from farmers. Most Islanders would agree on the importance of supporting our producers. We deplore the idea that farmers are paid less than cost of production for the excellent food that they provide to the market and for our consumption. But as much as we may believe that farmers should be compensated for their efforts to farm in an environmentally responsible manner, we still understand the need for stricter controls on the practices and products that are ruining our water and killing our fish.

The report fails to address the most important issue affecting the health of our watersheds and all of the people, plants and animals that depend on them. That is, the prevalence of large-scale industrial-style agriculture in this province. We live on an Island that has soils highly prone to erosion, with a rock base that is fractured and very porous. We then allow huge acreages of potatoes to be planted in short rotation, using large amounts of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. With so many acres of land in conventional potato production, there is too much potential for damage to our environment and to our health.

Proponents of pesticides claim that without those chemical tools, they can't survive. They say the global food supply depends on widespread use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. They refuse to consider the evidence that organic agriculture and small-scale farming is working in many places; in fact, in many contemporary research circles it is thought that this is the only way we can feed the world. It is shocking that a report on sustainable land use practices could so completely ignore organic food production as an option.

And so it is with some fear and trepidation that we face a new season. Waiting for the first "extreme weather event" and news of more fish killed, we are left to wonder how we could have let another opportunity slip by.

Time and again Islanders have witnessed the extreme damage caused by overuse of farm chemicals. At this point in our history we need deliberate actions to reduce or eliminate their use. We do not need a meek plea to farmers to continue what they are doing, only better. A stronger, more meaningful report would have contained recommendations such as:

• Increased crop rotation: a four-year rotation without all the present loopholes would mean fewer chemicals entering our soil and water;

• Further restrictions on spraying (lower wind speed, increased setbacks, no turning of spray equipment in riparian zones);

• More rigorous regulations and monitoring of sprayers;

• Increased support for organic producers;

• Restrictions on fall ploughing;

• A requirement to ensure cover crops are in place in the fall and that they do not count as rotational crops;

• Wider, more diverse riparian areas requiring both a grass buffer and a tree or shrub corridor and strict enforcement of buffer zone regulations;

We don't need another commission to know which way the wind is blowing. We need our provincial government to come up with a step-by-step plan to significantly reduce pesticide use throughout the province. It is the right thing to do and the only way to get us out of this harmful cycle of annual fish kills.

June 3, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

I attended the PEI Women's Institute Convention Saturday, at Credit Union Place in Summerside.

The highlight of the day for me was not Agriculture Minister Webster's address, but one particular award: Edith Ling of North 
Winsloe (and I think the Oyster Bed Bridge WI) received the Women In Agriculture Recognition Award, and most deservedly so.
She and her husband David were one of the first family farmers to convert back to organic methods in raising grain and meat,
and remain very active supporting the family farm and good land stewardship. (Many of you may know them through the Charlottetown's Farmer's Market, where they sold beef, pork and preserves for many years.) It was with elation that I heard her
praised to the rafters about her successful and diversified organic farming in front of an agriculture minister who appears to
believe these concepts as mutually exclusive. Early Spring 2012, when no other media outlets were at all interested in Plan B, Andy Walker from the bi-weekly /Island Farmer/
(Paul MacNeill publisher) called and did a story, about Plan B ruining acres of arable land. Later, he also talked to Edith Ling,
who forthrightly said what a misguided idea Plan B was, relating it to poor land use and government priorities. (This was when
a lot of people were very skittish about saying anything bad about it.) Edith works tirelessly with the National Farmers' Union to
promote, protect and support family farming, and has been very aware of land use issues, including Horace Carver's review of the /Lands Protection Act/ this year this spring. Island farmers, those who care about land use and land issues, and those of us who eat, are all indebted to Edith. She's a fine
farmer, wife, mother and about 50 others things all at once. It was an interesting day with the usual AGM-type business and lots of time to socialize with women from across the province.
Even without a "Stop Plan B" button to remind people, many women shook their heads and said what a terrible waste Plan B is.
It may seem like an aging, stolid organization, but with participation of dynamic Island women like Edith, it may actually work
towards living up to the PEIWI purpose: "Women being a voice, taking action and creating change in PEI communities." Have a great day, Chris O., Bonshaw
David and Edith Ling outside their home in North Winsloe from /The Guardian /website and used without permission Guardian Article (reprinted below) http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Living/2011-11-19/article-2809378/A-natural-choice/1 The public library has the book (/Eco-Innovators: Sustainability in Atlantic Canada/, by Chris Benjamin) http://24.224.240.218/uhtbin/cgisirsi.exe/?ps=THln3gcvcw/PLS/283740007/123
A Natural Choice by Mary MacKay from The Guardian, published November 19, 2011/

It seemed like a natural choice for long-time farmers David and Edith Ling of Fair Acres Farm in North Winsloe.

After years of farming conventionally and using more and more fertilizers and chemicals to attain the same crop yield, they went organic in 1985, years before that term became a popular buzzword.

“It was called crazy then,” laughs Edith, who is featured with David in a new book titled Eco-Innovators: Sustainability In Atlantic Canada.

Written by Chris Benjamin and published by Nimbus Publishing, this book profiles some of the region’s most innovative and progressive leaders in sustainability. These entrepreneurs, educators, activists, agitators, farmers and fishers have all made measurable contributions, both in their respective fields of interest and in motivating others to make change.

David’s life underwent a big change 50 years ago when his father died suddenly and the then-16-year-old had to quickly follow in his farming footsteps.

Despite only having a Grade 8 education, he plowed forth and started building on what his father had accomplished.

In 1967 he purchased 165 acres from a neighbour.

The Lings, who were married in 1970, now also own 100 acres of the original homestead. They now have 125 acres in cultivation.

They specialized in hogs at first and practised the same conventional farming methods as most other P.E.I. farmers at the time.

“Back in the 1970s, I was getting on the treadmill with the rest of the farmers saying. ‘I’ve got to use more fertilizers and more chemicals to get more productive’ and I was going that route,” says David, who at the time developed severe allergy problems.

“We were having severe soil erosion. We were having good crops mind you but the biggest part of our income that we were making was going out and paying the bills from the chemical companies. They were reaping the benefits and we were the slaves.”

In 1985, he attended a conference in Ontario that included a seminar on organic growing methods presented by a farmer who had immigrated to Canada from Sweden.

“I was quite surprised to see how he could grow his crops so good . . . . So I said to Edith (when I got home), ‘Well if he can do it, why can’t we?’” David remembers.

“I knew I’d been growing a garden for years without any chemicals or fertilizer; we always had a great garden, so I thought, ‘Why not?’ We have to try something different. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I guess,” Edith laughs.

Going cold turkey from typical applications of fertilizers and chemicals wasn’t easy, and being that they were one of the first farm-sized operations to try it there wasn’t anyone to turn to for advice.

“I had to learn how to make compost, and there was nobody here who could tell me what was the best way to make it,” David says.

It was a process of trial and error that at one point had the compost pile so hot he couldn’t even put his hand in it.

“So the first year I didn’t have very successful results, it just ruined the compost . . . . But gradually I got a better technique,” David says.

The price paid for the shift over to organic methods that first year was a 35 per cent drop in his cereal crops’ yield.

“I guess I was really stubborn. I just kept persevering,” says David, who also changed other traditional farming ways to ones that were more conducive to healthy soil.

For example, he used to work his fields as early as possible in the spring but now he waits until the earth has warmed to cultivate in order to avoid compacting the soil.

Gradually, the soil detoxified and the organic matter increased to its present rich dark loamy texture.

Today the Lings are harvesting one to one-and-a-half tons of grain per acre, similar to what a conventional farm would yield, but minus the fertilizer and chemical costs.

Another plus was that about three years into this organic venture David noticed that his allergies had lessened significantly.

A number of years ago, the Lings switched from hogs to beef, which they sell directly to the consumer through custom orders and their booth at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market where they have been since 1996.

“I think the customers are still learning. In the beginning, a lot of people would ask ‘What is organic?’ They’re more educated now. They want to buy that beef because it doesn’t have any antibiotics, growth hormones, no spray or chemical fertilizers on the farm,” Edith says.

“They’re more onto that now, but in the beginning it was just (that) the beef was there and once they tried it they’d come back and say, ‘This beef tastes like what my father used to raise years and years ago’ — of course because it’s raised similar to back before all this chemical explosion took place.”

As they have in the past, the Lings continue to share their farming ways with the public through numerous farm tours.

“Anytime you’re promoting, that’s good, whatever it is,” Edith says. “There’s something about just being there, seeing it up close and personal (that resonates with people).”

The farming life truly resonates with David, who after 50 years is still on a road of discovery.

“I thought I knew it all when I was farming with chemicals, but after I got into organic, the more I got into it I realized how little I knew about how nature works.”

June 1, 2913

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Events for this week:

Thursday, June 6th, 1:30PM, Coles Building, Pope Room (building next to Province House)
Two local, forward thinking environmental groups will be making presentations to the PEI Legislature Standing Committee on Agriculure, Energy and Forestry on Thursday, and the public is invited.
  Andrew Lush from Don't Frack PEI will explain the many problems associated with fracking, and the additional problems that are specific to PEI.  There will also be a presentation by Ellie Reddin and Irene Novaczek from the Save Our Seas and Shores about off-shore drilling of gas and oil. The public sits on one side of the room, and is asked to be quiet, as in the Gallery of Province House; an increased public presence perhaps reminds the committee members that we are expecting them to work diligently for Islanders.
www.dontfrackpei.com
www.saveourseasandshores.ca
(I may have some of the details mixed up, but the point is the presentations will be very good, and it helps make our politicians more accountable if people are paying attention to these committees, too.)

Next Saturday, June 8th, 1-3PM, Cornwall Civic Centre (Cornwall Road, behind the Esso, NOT APM Centre)
"Protesting Plan B and the Next Plan B -- A Legal Perspective"
What happened with the Plan B protest and what lessons can be learned for other groups expressing dissatisfaction with government decisions?  Lawyer Jacinta Gallant and community organizer Josie Baker will present these topics and participate in a question and answer session.  Free admission, and all are invited to attend.
This workshop is sponsored by the Citizens' Alliance of PEI.

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Strong words about the closure of Peter's Road, from an Islander who has been following the debacle since last spring (sorry if language offends):

Those of us who deeply oppose Plan B probably have a deep personal reason for doing so. For me, aside from the political deceptions and corruption, it is Peter's Road. There was a magical moment of transformation when I swung off the highway and onto that historic strip of red clay. Everything changed, and the change was for the better. This is why it's so important for us to work hard to make Plan B forever exist as a symbol of our mistakes. But, that work is up to us. After-all, and let's never forget: The future of our beautiful little Island doesn't have to look like Plan B any more than intimacy has to look like rape. 

Standing on Peter's Road, looking north, a bit off the TCH.  It was a canopy of trees before Plan B.  The height of the fill is about 15 feet now, with more to go, and it is flattened on the top for Plan B.  The camp is up and off to the right.  May 31, 2013.

https://sites.google.com/site/stopplanbtchbonshawpei/updates/June%201%20%232.jpg
Looking down from Plan B onto the edge of it and south at Peter's Road towards TCH.  The wetland they are hoping to enhance is center top of the photo. May 31, 2013.

Have a good weekend,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

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