October 2013

October 31, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

From last year,
referring to government and listening to the concerns of Islanders regarding Plan B:
"They refuse to even discuss it with us, and that kind of arrogance is endemic in this government."
--Roy Johnstone
October 22, 2012

This was when some very brave and determined people made yet one more effort to stop the tree-cutting, this time from the beautiful mature maple and birch woods west of Peter's Road (now cut, the hill lowered, with the sweet little brook at the bottom entombed in a concrete box culvert).

The top story from Compass (October 22, 2012):

It was a tough day, but these people made their point, much to the gratitude of all of the rest of us.  The flitting media, the stilted police spokesperson, the shifty-eyed chief engineer, all thought we were packing up and heading home.  ;-)

And from last year:

October 30, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

More related to fracking, as the talk: "Debunking the myths about fracking" is free and at 7PM tonight at Murphy's Community Centre in Charlottetown (220 Richmond St.).

Here is a five-minute illustration of the process and concerns about fracking, from Mother Jones online:

and in Monday's Guardian, the lead editorial, is another editorial whose point and logic are a little bit hard to follow. Paragraphs with more than one sentence would be a good start.

National Chief Leaves Little Room for Compromise

Atleo’s comments last week on P.E.I. indicate no support for development

printed in Monday, October 28th, 2013, in The Guardian

The cooling-off period New Brunswick Premier David Alward and that province’s First Nations leaders called for in the wake of violent clashes between protesters and RCMP officers 10 days ago at an anti-fracking road barricade in Rexton, N.B., appears to be coming to an abrupt end.

In remarks Friday on P.E.I. and a day earlier at Elsipogtog First Nation in N.B., the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations says Aboriginal peoples will not support resource development at any cost.

Shawn Atleo made those comments after he met Thursday with leaders of the band battling against shale gas exploration in eastern New Brunswick.

No one question people’s legal right to peacefully protest but when cars are destroyed, roads are barricaded, there are alleged threats of violence, and homemade pipe bombs, guns, knives and other weapons are seized by police at the scene, things have gotten way out of hand.

Atleo’s comments on P.E.I. indicate there is not much chance for a compromise between the two sides.

Atleo said all bands’ treaties must be respected while reiterating support for the Elsipogtog First Nation and defending its attempts to assert their treaty rights and responsibilities over lands and waters.

Atleo did hold out a small olive branch when he suggested the situation in New Brunswick provides an opportunity to spark discussion and action on the part of federal and provincial governments.

So perhaps there is an opportunity to forge a new and better way to implement the spirit and intent of treaties which exist with the Mi’kmaq.

What are required then are meaningful talks on a nation-to-nation, treaty-by-treaty basis between the Mi’kmaq nations like Elsipogtog and other levels of government.

Atleo said governments are not fulfilling their treaty obligations now, and even exploration permits for energy companies like what is happening in N.B. are a violation of treaty rights.

The exploration for shale gas includes seismic testing, not the controversial method of fracking at this time.

But wherever exploration companies try to get gas and oil to the surface in this day, fracking is usually the preferred method and aboriginals have good cause to be wary.
And if you are able to attend the release of the review of the Institute of Island Studies, it is today from 4-5PM at Lecture Theatre A at the vet school at UPEI.

October 29, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Several things going on tomorrow, this weekend, and next:

Wednesday, October 30th:
The independent review of the Institute of Island Studies is being presented to the public from 4-5PM at Lecture Theatre A of the Atlantic Veterinary College.  The public is welcome to attend and show support!
**I have pasted the Executive Summary below this e-mail.**   From just a cursory reading of the executive summary, the summary says: the IIS is great and necessary; tweak it, support it and nurture it.  Great!  Why did the IIS have to go through such uncertainty and upheaval, with all that administration to take care of things at UPEI?

And tomorrow evening, a public talk on:
"Strengthening Our Voice: Sinking the Myths of Fracking"
Wednesday, October 30th,  7-9PM

Room 106, Murphy’s Community Centre
200 Richmond Street, Charlottetown
A free public presentation debunking the myths of fracking with Heidi Verheul of the Atlantic Chapter of Sierra Club Canada.

On Saturday, a workshop:
"Strengthening Our Voice: Syncing Our Communities"
Saturday, November 2nd,  9AM to 1PM
Room 106, Murphy’s Community Centre
A four-hour workshop designed to support community action; participants are encouraged to bring their digital devices. Topics will include tips on crafting key messages and on meeting with politicians, and making change happen through social media. Suggested fee is a donation of $10 but there is no minimum donation expected. Light refreshments will be served.

Next Saturday, November 9th,
Voluntary Resource Centre's "Breakfast and Banter" event
Saturday, November 9th from 8:30 – 10:30AM
Murphy's Community Centre
Also, the Outstanding Volunteer Awards are to be presented, including to Cindy Richards for her work with Stop Plan B.  It would be great to see a lot of people there!  Tickets are $30 (which includes a $14 tax receipt), with children under six free, and those between 6 and 14 pay $10.  Tickets can be purchased from some members or reserved by calling 368-7337 (They need to know numbers by the end of this week to help have enough food.) "Participants will get to enjoy a great breakfast and partake in wonderful morning banter with some of PEI’s Very Interesting Volunteers who have been nominated by organizations and the community."

October 14, 2013

External Reviewer’s Recommendations
for the
Institute of Island Studies
University of Prince Edward Island

The three IIS reviewers met in Toronto on September 4, 2013 to review their findings.

Their recommendations were submitted jointly on September 10, 2013. An executive summary subsequently was developed and is provided below.

Reviewers:     Dr. Liette Vasseur
                    Dr. Graham Whitelaw
                    Hon David MacDonald

1.  Overarching recommendations

1.1.  The Institute of Island Studies (IIS) should continue to exist.

1.2.  The mandate of the IIS, as it currently exists, should remain.

1.3.  Activities such as policy forums and positioning the IIS as an honest broker should be reinstated.

1.4.  The Island Press and the International Journal of Island Studies,both of which are functioning well, should remain part of the IIS mandate.

1.5.  Considering the size of the university and the interdisciplinary nature of some units such as the IIS, environmental studies, MAIS, and Climate Lab, UPEI should continue to examine the possibility of a School of Island Studies and Sustainability and develop a three to five year plan to make the School a reality.

1.6.  UPEI should maintain an active, transparent and open line of communication with the internal and external communities with regard to the process being completed under this review and future changes in the organization and structure of the IIS.

1.7.  Discussions with the province should take place relatively soon to develop a potential agreement for policy relevant research activities.

2.  Administration

2.1.  The Director of IIS should be a faculty member, employed for a specified term and with a clear mandate.

2.2.  If the IIS remains independent, as it is currently, reporting should be done not only through the Dean of Arts, but also through the Vice President, Research and Graduate Studies.

2.3.  The Director should not become a member of all the various associations that are interested in having the IIS as a member. It may be more appropriate for the Director to be involved as an observer.

3.  Governance

3.1.  Given that the current governance structure does not position the IIS to be strategic in terms of activities and involvement of faculty members, the IIS should adopt a governance structure consisting of: 1) an Advisory Council; 2) an Executive Committee or Board of Directors, and; 3) Members

3.2.  The Executive committee (or Board of Directors) should include at least (but not limited to) the coordinator of MAIS, a student representative, and two faculty members from the membership.

3.3.  Three levels of membership are suggested: internal, associate, and affiliate.

3.3.  With a strong Membership and an Executive Committee, the Advisory Council should then be able to play its appropriate role of advising the IIS mainly through strategic planning.

3.4.  Faculty members should be encouraged to become active internal members or associates of the IIS and to participate in various projects.

3.5.  Incentives (e.g., recognition as project lead and sharing of overheads) should be provided to faculty members engaged in research relevant to the IIS.

4.  Educational Initiatives

4.1.  MAIS students should be invited to become associates or affiliates of the IIS and activities should be organised by the MAIS coordinator in collaboration with members of the IIS.  The Director should be invited to teach at least one course in order to maintain his/her connection with the students.

4.2.  UPEI should examine the possibility of developing collaborative degree programs at the international level with other island universities.

4.3.  The new initiatives implemented by UPEI regarding space allocation and resource support for the MAIS program, which are most welcome, should be sustained.

4.4.  The IIS should partner with the UPEI administration to reintegrate continuing education as one of the activities of the IIS.

5.  Administrative and Financial Support

5.1.  IIS should be allocated a budget to cover, at a minimum, a course release for the Director, the salary for a full time administrative assistant who would provide support for the IIS and the Island Press, funding to accomplish a few activities and administrative funds for 3-5 years.

5.2.  If and when the School of Island Studies and Sustainability becomes a reality, two administrative assistants should be supported to ensure functionality: one for the teaching components and one for the research and outreach components.

5.3.  Advancement should work closely with the Director and the Executive Committee of the IIS to develop a fundraising strategy and to ensure that endowed funds be secured for the IIS.

5.4.  The continuing education program should be structured is such a way as to be a revenue generating operation.

5.5.  Although seeking funding through grants will remain a large component of the IIS, this role should not be limited to the Director.

5.6.  Technical support should be provided, ideally under the coordination of a communication committee of the IIS, to update the website as soon as possible.

6.  Canada Research and UNESCO Chairs

6.1. The CRC Tier 1 opportunity should be revised to focus on Island Studies and the CRC ad should be posted as soon as possible.

6.2. The proposed terms of reference for the CRC in sustainability and global environmental change should focus on islands as a major vulnerability point for environmental, climate and sustainability issues.  Moreover, they should reemphasize the interdisciplinary nature of the position and indicate the high potential of connecting with the IIS, Climate Lab, MAIS and environmental studies.

6.3.  UPEI should explore the possibility of nominating a faculty member as a UNESCO Chair in Island Studies.

October 28, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Perhaps this sounds like a recording:
The following is a "Plan B update" from about a year ago. 

There was so much good stuff in it I thought it was worth re-airing (with a tiny bit of tidying). 
The "Active History" article is still very interesting and relevant. And remembering the passing of Mr. Oliver MacDonald still makes me sad.


Update -- Stop Highway Plan B -- Monday, October 22


Mon, 22 Oct 2012 06:43:17 -0300


Chris Ortenburger

Hi, everyone, interested in Stop Plan B updates,

Base Camp update:

What an interesting week at the Peter's Road base camp!  The Warrior family of Chief Peter Bernard and his wife, children and grandchildren left Sunday morning.  The sacred fire was blessed, and as it has been more than seven days, it can go out.  Despite the media hype and inaccuracies, the group was here of their own accord and to assess the situation according to their cultural beliefs. 

This weekend many people stopped in to chat with the campers and to head out to see either the hemlock grove area or the Acadian forest to the west of Peter's Road (the steep ravine with maple and birch).  There is tree-chopping equipment parked west of the area, so it's obvious the Province intends to continue its inexorable march through Island forests to cut this road-line.  How ironic it is during what is the peak of Fall colour. 

For the time being we have stopped asking people to be sign-wavers on the highway by the Cameron Road construction entrance. With the installation of guard rails and mud and gunk all over the road, plus constantly moving equipment, it's not easy to drive on this stretch.  The beautiful hillsides contrast too much with the sickening devastation on either side of you.

Robert Vessey is suddenly interested in active living and furnishing trails on our small islands of woods remaining between highways:

An interesting media day Friday (October 19, 2012), as the Hemlock seedling rally was filled with comments from parents, children, and grandparents urging government to make wise, longterm decisions; the media focused on histrionics. (about 45 seconds into the broadcast):

This "Active History" article is written in a very deliberate, clinical way about the changes in the area of the Plan B highway:

Of note:
And I would like to mention the passing of one of the New Haven-Riverdale patriarchs, Oliver MacDonald, who lived with his wife in the little yellow house right by Strathgartney.  I only met him a few times, but he was a kind and gentle man, and I am sorry for how this road and the purchase of his house must have affected him and his family this last year.

Environmental Complaints:
Sorry we have been slow to get the user-friendly forms out.  This "Complaint Management System" is the process in which citizens can lodge complaints to the government regarding environmental concerns -- it's our opportunity to "Watch Plan B", submit short descriptions of problems, and request information about the resolution of environmental concerns during the construction.  Although not permitted on the actual construction sites, people can still be in the adjacent areas and see what effects are taking place -- especially after rain. 
A flowchart outlining the process and the current form are found here:

And more information to come this week as we deal with bad choices our government has made -- more in tomorrow's update.

Thanks for everything,
Chris O.


Two letters, of many:

In appreciation of the protesters

Published on October 18, 2012

For months I have been reading letters and commentaries in these pages in opposition to Plan B. I mistakenly thought that the volume of letters and commentaries (as well as other initiatives) from both individuals and organizations would be heard and respected by government. Many of those writing expressed well-reasoned and compelling arguments revealing how ill-conceived the project is and how flawed the process has been.

The government's assertion that its only concern is the safety of Islanders has a distinctly hollow ring. Many of us just do not believe that this is the primary driving force behind this project. The revelation of questionable practices with respect to accident statistics and the causes of those accidents is disconcerting.

Over the months, as I read the letters, I watched the left-hand side of the page for editorial comment. I have been disappointed. In a democracy when government fails to listen to the people, traditionally a free press is an ally in that struggle. The subtitle in your Oct. 4 editorial states: "With no environmental damage expected, why would the province not proceed?" Has the editorial writer not been reading the paper over these months? The environmental damage of this project has been more than adequately - and expertly -spelled out. You are aware that it is the government's environment department that has given the go-ahead to the project. Obviously, their assignment was to find the means of justifying proceeding with Plan B.

So all reasoned arguments have fallen on deaf ears and the last resort has been to be at the site in a last-ditch attempt to demonstrate that an irreversible mistake is being made. Those committed protesters are enduring wind and rain not for any personal gain but because they care deeply about our Island. Their efforts are appreciated.

Ron Irving, Victoria

The battle has just begun

Published on October 19, 2012 

You know, this whole Plan B thing is more than just about destroying P.E.I.'s last remaining old-growth forests, trampling on democratic discourse with citizens, wasting precious resources and driving Islanders further into debt, prompting more severe austerity measures, cutting social workers etc.

It's a flashpoint for a growing anger over many years for the complete lack of understanding of how valuable our land resources are: look at nitrates in tap water, putrid green rivers and stinking bays, deep water wells, massive soil erosion, high rates of asthma in Island children, weird and high rates of cancers in the province, hundreds of thousands of trout and salmon in 30 major river kills and on and on and on.

This all has to stop. They may have cut down the hemlocks but they unwittingly have set forth a lasting anger and set alight a sacred fire in us all.

Change is coming to Prince Edward Island and the real battles over the gift of land we have been given has just begun. I thank the Bonshaw hemlocks and their 200 years of life for this opportunity.

John Hopkins. Breadalbane

October 27, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A bit of rainy Sunday leisurely reading (!):

The George McRobie lecture last night at MacPhail homestead was informative and very interesting.  Great people organizing it, and a welcoming packed crowd of farmers and concerned eaters.  The lecture will be available on DVD soon, as last year's already is.  Guest speaker Rob Paterson went through some of his outline notes (that I sent out yesterday), and here are some comments he made for people like us to keep things moving in a positive direction (my interpretation, errors are my own):

  • keep talking about the benefits of local food
  • look to a less grain-based diet, with more pasture-fed meats and leafy greens
  • urge government to use local, organic foods at manors, schools, hospitals, and the university
  • broad-spread small-scale organic farming will see PEI through any massive economic upheavals. 
  • instead of subdividing conventional farms into luxury home lots, start at the edges and break off manageable small farms, and transition to organic.
  • entice young couples to come to PEI from the rest of Canada to consider small-scale farming, as land is cheaper, small communities want to be filled again, and wonderful mentors enjoy passing on their knowledge. 
    • Raymond Loo, in whose memory the lecture was given, was excellent at that kind of sharing.


The protest about fracking in New Brunswick has made many of us look up and start to pay attention.  Some others have been paying attention for a while. Here are three letters that address fracking and make us wonder: Where are we with fracking on PEI?

Kevin Arsenault wrote a pointed, loud and clear question to Mr. Ghiz, Mr. Myer, Mr. Redmond, and Mr. Bevan-Baker --

"Will shale gas fracking be allowed in PEI?"
published Friday, October 25, 2013, in The Guardian

Editor: It is time for the leaders of each political party in Prince Edward Island to tell us whether they would permit shale gas fracking in this province if their party was to form the next provincial government.

And such statements must not attempt to deceive us with language such as, “Fracking will not be allowed unless it is proven safe through an environmental review . . .” because no such proof is possible, and no level of risk is acceptable.

In Gasland: Part 2, a recent documentary on shale gas fracking, a pre-eminent expert on fracking, Dr. Tony Ingraffea, Professor of Engineering at Cornell University and a former researcher for Schlumberger, the #1 fracking company in the world, explains in plain language why fracking inevitably poisons ground water.

A hydraulic fracturing well is essentially a long steel pipe surrounded by a cement casing designed to prevent natural gas, toxic hydraulic fracking chemicals injected into the well, heavy metals, or methane gas, from migrating into ground water.

He believes it is an absolute certainty that ground water contamination will occur due to the eventual failure of the cement casings. In fact, he states that “With hundreds of thousands of on-shore wells and thousands of off-shore wells there's a probability of 1 in 20 that a cement job will fail immediately . . . five per cent of all jobs will immediately show a failure of a cement job and there will be migration of methane.”

With the 95 per cent of wells which don't experience an immediate cement casing failure, Prof. Ingraffea claims it will eventually happen as the cement casing cracks and crumbles over time; perhaps after 10 years, perhaps long after the well has been abandoned, but it will surely happen at some point in the future as the cement gradually weakens and disintegrates.

Given the fact that ground water contamination is a certainty over time, and given that P.E.I. is 100 per cent dependent on ground water for fresh water, it is clear that such ground water contamination would be both catastrophic and irreversible; no amount of “risk” is therefore acceptable, regardless of whatever environmental protections and economic benefits may be promised. So will the leaders of P.E.I.'s political parties please state publicly their position on this issue so Islanders can vote accordingly?

Kevin J. Arsenault, Ph.D.,
Fort Augustus


from Tony Reddin relating protesting:

Peaceful Protestors are Building Democracy
published Thursday, October 24, 2013, in The Guardian

Editor: Regarding the Guardian editorial 'Protest site now history but not cause' Oct. 16th: Many Islanders keep telling me that they are still angered when they see or discuss the Plan B-aloney- which is now a visible testament to the disregard for democracy shown by the Premier and Ministers of the P.E.I. government, including a raid by the RCMP.

Now we see a similar situation in Elsipogtog, NB- a peaceful encampment is attacked by RCMP being used to bully protesters and squelch opposition at the request of a provincial premier. Again the protest is against the greedy and short-sighted corporate control that is causing the destruction of our life-giving natural resources.

Our society has already caused too much damage to our land and water - we can't allow the disaster of fracking.

Some media at Elsipogtog have unfortunately given confusing reports that downplayed the brave sacrifices being made by peaceful protesters to protect the land. Those media reports follow the lead of wealthy large corporations demanding development on their terms.

Their so-called 'infrastructure progress' of fossil fuel development, and also highway expansions, is not progress at all- it is destroying the basic infrastructure of life and wasting scarce dollars that should be funding a transition of our society away from mindless consumption and growth. We don't need faster highways, big machinery, fracking, oil pipelines, or military industries- none of these make our lives safer or happier.

The legacy of the 'Stop Plan B' Camp Vision is that many more people now see through the lies, and will take action to build a true democracy on P.E.I.- one that is free of corruption and based on co-operation. They share a positive goal of clean water, air and energy to restore our Island and give our children a healthy future.

We invite those concerned to attend two upcoming events in Charlottetown: a presentation on debunking the myths of fracking on Wednesday, Oct. 30 from 7- 9 p.m., and a workshop on community action Saturday Nov. 2, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Both take place at Murphy’s Community Centre and more information is available at www.atlantic.sierraclub.ca or by phoning 675-4093.

Tony Reddin,


And John Hopkins' blistering observation:

"Crude" contempt
published Wednesday, October 23, 2013, in The Guardian

Editor: Premier Alward: while you continue to ignore public concerns into fracking New Brunswick, kicking First Nations in the teeth for trying stop your stupidity and a Texas-based oil company from threatening precious Canadian groundwater;

And all the while you work with Harper and Alberta to build a risky pipeline to carry tar sands derived bitumen — the dirtiest and most polluting oil on earth — across New Brunswick and this province’s pristine Atlantic salmon river watersheds, so that the Irvings can ship millions of barrels of oil out via a planned tax-payer subsidized Irving supertanker port threatening Atlantic Canadian fishing communities in the same way as the Exxon Valdez;

And all while helping push the worst climate change project on the planet through Alberta tar sands based global pollution.

If we spent as much time and money on oil production and distribution of the last reserves available worldwide as we did on truly investing in alternative energy sources, hydro, solar, wind, etc. we’d get somewhere. Right now we are all like bad heroine addicts addicted to black sludge.

Let it be known that your “crude” arrogance and contempt for concerned people and this planet is appalling and shameful.

John Hopkins,


More info?

re: New Brunswick, not very current, but I can guess it is hard to stay current in the thick of a protest.

An essay on the Mi'kmaq experience, first person narrative, from Leanne Simpson

An excerpt from the above link applicable to many an environmental issue:
"We start out dissenting and registering our dissent through state-sanctioned mechanisms like environmental impact assessments. Our dissent is ignored. Some of us explore Canadian legal strategies, even though the courts are stacked against us. Slowly but surely we get backed into a corner where the only thing left to do is to put our bodies on the land. The response is always the same -- intimidation, force, violence, media smear campaigns, criminalization, silence, talk, negotiation, "new relationships," promises, placated resistance and then more broken promises. Then the cycle repeats itself."
...but most cruelly to the indigenous peoples.

Tonight is the monthly ceilidh at the Bonshaw Hall, 7PM, admission by donation.

October 26, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The George McRobie lecture is tonight at MacPhail homestead -- tickets still available ($10 cash at the door).

Why do I keep mentioning this?  Because while we all support healthy local food, we still see an awful lot of food being trucked in to PEI on a certain road I know.  From Rob Paterson's talk, in his own words:

I have become convinced that the connection between health and food, that some see now, will become THE key idea over the next 30 years and will drive not only a change in how and what we eat but of course in how we grow food. In time I think that this may lead to PEI becoming a HAVE province.

In my talk I will:

  • Explain the connection between food and the epidemic of chronic illness that not only affects PEI but of course the world today
  • We will see why those of you who on PEI are growing food in a new/old way will be the key suppliers of what will become a massive demand for genuine quality
  • We will see why such an approach to growing food can only scale using a network of small producers
  • We will see how chefs and restaurants on PEI and elsewhere are the key bridge between the old and the new system
  • We will see how large institutions such as universities will add positive pressure to the shift and expand the infrastructure needed to get into the mainstream
  • We will look at the opportunity for PEI to create a full employment economy and a much healthier society

This lecture series is named in honour of Dr. George McRobie, Patron for The Homestead Farm, the new sustainable agriculture entity operating at the Homestead. George McRobie has long been one of the world’s leading proponents of sustainable agriculture and appropriate small-scale technology.

Register in advance by phoning 902-651-2789, or emailmacphailhomestead@pei.aibn.com.

MacPhail Homestead, Orwell, off MacPhail Park Road, off TCH in Orwell.  Photo from Rob Paterson's blog, below.

Another interesting blog by Rob Paterson:

and just a reminder that the Farmers' Markets are open in Summerside and Charlottetown (I think the Loo family will have beef today), and
folks are meeting at the Farm Centre at noon to carpool for carrot-gleaning towards Summerside:

Ron Arvidson's pottery and Brenda Jones' illustrations, in an exhibit entitled "A Natural Focus", are at the Guild gallery until next Saturday, November 2nd.

October 25, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Really and truly, the launch of David Weale's book Tale Bearer: More Stories from Them Times and the latest issue of RED magazine (#7) is tonight, 6-9PM, at the Y-Lofts (corner of Prince and Euston), Charlottetown.

Last year, there were lots of people against Plan B, of course, and many letters written and rallies attended; but there were a lot of the "Island intelligentsia" in literature, science and the arts who didn't speak on the record very much.

But David did, and the words ring true today:

An excerpt from a Guardian story from last year, October 11, 2012, by Brian MacInnis, when we were all milling around Hemlock Grove.  Full story here:

David Weale, author and historian, is watching the events unfold and like many protesters says this is about a lot more than the environment.

“This project (the highway realignment) is perhaps the most absurd undertaking in my lifetime on Prince Edward Island,” he said in an interview Thursday while standing near the sacred fire. “And the most poorly handled,” he quickly added.

Weale feels there is no good rationale for the project and everybody knows it. In other words the emperor has no clothes, he said.

“The reasons put forward have no substance whatever…the reasons against it have all kinds of substance and yet it goes ahead as if it was the other way around.”

Weale said he thinks the primary issues for the people in the protest is the environment, “but there is a secondary issue and it may even be the primary issue and that is the disgust of Islanders with how they have been treated, demeaned really, and not been treated with respect…I can’t remember any single politician, any minister whoever acknowledged that these people had anything to say of importance.”

Weale said the term “these people” referred to the protesters, but Islanders in general have gone on record from one end of the province to the other through letters to the editor as being against the highway realignment...”I mean I have been watching the political scene on P.E.I for almost 50 years and I have never seen that kind of sustained anger and interest in an issue and still no response (from government). It is as though ‘we don’t care what you say, it doesn’t matter what you say because this thing is going ahead’ well, that is a slap in the face.”

That “slap in the face” is what Weale sees as the secondary issue or even primary issue for Islanders’ anger.

Weale was front and centre in the debate over the Confederation Bridge, but he could see reason in both sides of the issue. With the highway realignment he is at a loss to see any reason in the decision.

“I don’t understand anything about this project. Nothing that they (the government) says makes any sense…it is smoke and mirrors.”

Weale said when it is all said and done the issue will “stick (to the Liberals) for sure and it will not be forgotten.”

But it may even go deeper than that, he said. In fact, this issue is going to affect the way islanders think of politics in general “because what I hear again and again is ‘well it really doesn’t matter because these kinds of things would happen with either of the two old parties’ and I think that is the ground shift in Island politics right now.”

He said the more Islanders he speaks with the more he hears that people are fed up with “patronage based” Island politics.

There is a huge cynicism especially among young people and he sees that they have no interest in traditional politics. He feels they see it as a dead end and so because of this he anticipates a surge in the third or fourth parties in the next election.

Hemlock Grove from March 2012

And every issue of RED since all this has started has had some sort of article or segment clearly (and very beautifully) spelling out what's really going on with Plan B.  Perhaps this new issue is no different.

Have a good day,
Chris O.,

October 24, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

It has been a busy week in the large unfinished sections of Plan B (the Bonshaw end to extract the third lane from the hillside, the New Haven end to start connecting a spaghetti bowl of roads together, and the section where the old TCH crossed Plan B near Fairyland and where the kingfishers nested). 

The asphalt plants can't stay open forever, so money for manpower and machines appears thrown about quite liberally.

Gravel from the dock in Charlottetown trucked to Plan B Wednesday, where the old and new highway cross west of Fairyland. The trucks are about 50 feet beneath the former road (which is by concrete barriers in upper left, and where picture is taken in lower right).  Black arrow points to an eroded gully from previous rains.  Wednesday, October 22, 2013.

A long view of this new "scenic overlook".   (Tiny) concrete barriers in upper center and lower right indicate old TCH, which will be made into cul-de-sacs. Wednesday, October 23, 2013, Churchill.   Looks like a giant long stadium.

But it's not all dig-dig-dig....somebody has a sense of humour, some time, and talent with his excavator:
"Little" rock man in shale and rock dumping ground, between CBC tower and McManus Road, Bonshaw, easily seen from Plan B.

A bit of an idea where these things are:

October 23, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Some short notes:

Tonight, the launch of story-teller David Weale's book Tale-Bearer, at the Y-Lofts (corner of Prince and Euston), 6-9PM. 

The George McRobie talk at MacPhail Homestead in Orwell is this Saturday, October 26th, Rob Peterson on “Food & Health; the PEI Opportunity.” 
From his notes,"I have become convinced that the connection between health and food, that some see now, will become THE key idea over the next 30 years and will drive not only a change in how and what we eat but of course in how we grow food. In time I think that this may lead to PEI becoming a HAVE province."
There aren't many tickets left but to check status of tickets: macphailhomestead@pei.aibn.com or call 902 838-4791
Just a note the place takes cash and cheques but no credit/debit ;-)

November 30, Wednesday, has two events of note:
Review of Institute of Island Studies review will be held October 30, 4-5PM, AVC Lecture Theatre A.
(the summary is here, too)

"Sinking the Myths about Fracking"
7-9PM, Murphy's Community Centre, sponsored by the Sierra Club
Mark your calendar, November 15th, Friday.
Another chance to see the movie Island Green (about PEI moving to organic agriculture):

Gleaning opportunities, both for food for you and to help harvest for other:
PEI Food Exchange
http://peifoodexchange.weebly.com/ or

October 22, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

If there is anybody who merits being named Outstanding Volunteer of the Year on PEI, it is Cindy Richards.

Fortunately, the Voluntary Resource Council thinks so, too, accepted the Citizens' Alliance nomination, and Cindy, who has given so much to stopping Plan B and monitoring Plan B, will be honoured with some others from other organizations at their annual breakfast on Saturday, November 9th.

Not snipe-hunting, but maybe looking for the Dedicated Environmental Employee while documenting some late evening mitigation breaches. July 2013, near Crawford's Brook.

All are welcome! The breakfast will be at the Murphy's Community Centre, starting at 8:30AM.  It is over about 10:30, so lots of time to get to the Market and do other errands.  The breakfast is a fundraiser for the VRC, and tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for kids 6-14.

October 21, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Like some bizarre version of Hansel and Gretel, a truck with crushed glass left a trail of shiny "pebbles" from the Charlottetown bypass all the way to outside Gass's store in New Haven sometime around early Saturday.  The glass is dumped at the road bed where Plan B cuts down the old TCH near Cameron Road and Fairyland (where there are issues with seeping water -- surprise!).

Fortunately, this stuff isn't too sharp for car tires, usually.  But it's been kicked by traffic into the shoulder/bike lane (such as it is), and that cannot be fun for any traffic pulling over or cyclists traveling west of Charlottetown on the TCH.

Glass used as a drainage medium (as yet fairly unproven), a few weeks ago, west of TCH in New Haven (that cliff is now cut through), looking east.

Maybe the glass trail goes to here:

Fairyland (Encounter Creek), October 2013, facing east.  A Gingerbread House still in Fairyland, one of those "valuable buildings."  The little chalet is tucked in some remaining trees on the right.

Bonshaw resident Teresa Miller is looking for a ride-share:

I do not drive, and I am looking for a ride from Green Road -Bonshaw to work DVA-Kent St.,  Charlottetown, and home 5 days a week, from 7 to 3, or 8 to 4 and if anyone going that way about that time and could take a passenger, would be a big help.
I will help with gas, and I do not smoke. This would start November 4th and end March 26, 2014. I will be retiring then.
Please call after 5...Teresa Miller 675-2862.
Thank you.

October 19, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Yesterday there was one more electric power outage caused by Plan B, about 4:30PM in the rain.

It's likely an articulated dump truck lowering its bed snagged a line on the power poles on the old TCH near being used as yet another dump site for excess or below-standard shale or fill.  The line (likely a lower voltage phone line) pulled at a pole and pulled it over, and power was shut off.  It was out for over an hour while a crew came out from Maritime Electric, put in a new pole, added the lines, tidied things and had power turned back on.

Fortunately, it appears there were no injuries, and Maritime Electric has these late afternoon power knock-out repairs down to a drill, which the hapless local residents (apparently over 400 households affected yesterday) appreciate.

Maritime Electric fixing lines on one pole, while another truck finishes putting in new pole (down road).  Old TCH (now Strathgartney Road, by equestrian park), Bonshaw, Friday, October 18, 2013.

A formerly pretty patch of land, now a dump site for excess material, with power line, October 2013.

Same location, looking east, October 2013.

October 18, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Tonight is the last presentation of "Cradled on the Waves: The Gulf at Risk", in Charlottetown, at 7PM, at the Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue (free).
You could still make Oktoberfest fundraiser for Young at Heart musical theatre for seniors at or after 8PM at Memorial Hall at the Confederation Centre ($20).
Saturday has a "Cooking with Squash" session at Trinity United Church (corner of Prince and Richmond Streets, Charlottetown) at 1PM (free).
And Saturday evening the Vinland Society of Prince Edward Island presents speaker Dr. Gisli Sigurdsson from Iceland on the topic: "Vinland As It Was Remembered in the Icelandic Sagas."  7:30PM, Irish Cultural Centre (BIS Hall) on North River Road (free event, memberships available).

Other events going on from PEI Council on the Status of Women:

Today is the last day to make comments regarding the MLAs' salaries, benefits and pensions:

Here is the main editorial from Wednesday's Guardian. 

Protest site now history but not cause

Published on October 16, 2013 in The Guardian

Islanders now have a modern new highway and a greater appreciation of environment

© Guardian photo by Nigel Armstrong

Keith Kennedy and Cindy Richards work Friday to take down a teepee that has been a year-round home for Plan B protesters. The protest encampment has closed for good, now that construction of a re-routed Trans-Canada Highway is nearly complete.

The Plan B protest site in the Bonshaw hills once featured a beautiful view of beautiful trees and blue sky, but it now has become a perfect vantage point to look at traffic buzzing up and down a modern four-lane highway. So it is understandable the Plan B protest encampment was taken down late last week.

The encampment was a lightning rod in more ways than one. To some people it was a strong physical symbol that backed up all the talk about protecting the environment. It was manned by dedicated individuals who vowed to keep watch over the controversial Plan B construction work. And they did.

To other Islanders it was a silly little camp in the woods filled with tree huggers and people with nothing better to do. As with most black and white arguments, the truth lies somewhere in between.

Two things are now certain when it comes to the controversy. In spite of all the rallies, media stories, petitions, letters to the editor and protests, the highway project never skipped a beat and work on it plugged along. The final section of the road in New Haven, near the old Fairyland park, will be the last piece of the construction puzzle in the coming days. And what has been built so far is indeed a nice modern highway.

The other indisputable fact is that the protesters showed their determination and commitment and stayed until the end just as they vowed. And to the encampment’s supporters, it was a bitter end.

Dan Jeffery, one of the stalwart Plan B protesters, says the demonstration touched a lot of people. “We have to stop this government from doing stupid, wasteful things like this,” he told a Guardian reporter the day the camp closed. Another strong supporter, Catherine O’Brien, says they will continue to  monitor the highway. “ . . . there are still some problems that are happening with runoff and siltation so we are trying to keep government accountable for that,” she said.

Ms. O’Brien also sees a silver lining in the fact a citizens watchdog group, Citizens Alliance, has been formed out of the protest group. “We are keeping an eye on government decisions and policies and we are going to be around for a long time. I think this group has a lot to offer. We really want to make sure that P.E.I. has a better future and these kinds of decisions won’t be made again,” she said.

At the height of public discontent last fall the Plan B protest had morphed into a catch-all for just about every complaint people had with government — economic, social and cultural ones. But without a doubt the main issue was the environmental debate over the provincial government’s plan to build a highway through the scenic hills and in the process slash down a number of trees.

In the end it was just a highway construction project, although with a price tag of about $20 million a very expensive one. But infrastructure progress is necessary if the province is to maintain and improve our highway system.

But both sides in the argument won if you accept the fact that the Trans-Canada Highway is now a safer place to drive on and Islanders in general have a greater regard and respect for the environment. The protesters called their encampment Camp Vision. That’s a fitting name, and hopefully vision will always be part of the planning when it comes to working towards progress and protecting P.E.I.’s environment.

As one young commentator I know summed it up: A bit wishy-washy and government sucky.

There is a lot that could be said about its slant (the idea the opposition was only environmental as opposed to cost, etc.), but it does acknowledge the issue better than it did a year ago when it gave the project two thumbs up.

Have a great day,
Chris O.,

October 17, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Sadness at the news of the passing of another PEI organic farming pioneer and giant, David Ling.

Edith and David Ling, from a Fall Flavours brochure from 2010

For any of you who bought David and Edith's beef at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market, you may remember David for his occasional stand-in as seller.  I admired his quiet humour then, felt his daughters were lucky women to have him as a dad, and last winter listened to him make an excellent rebuttal comment at the Crapaud Lands Protection Act commission meeting regarding hay and forage crops being called "worthless" by speakers from the PEI Potato Board.
Lots of strength to Edith and Kathy and Lisa.

The visitation is today from 2-4 and 7-9PM, and the funeral is Friday at 2PM, all at the Central Queens Funeral Home in New Glasgow.
Tonight is the third Save Our Seas and Shores talk, in North Rustico, and Friday is the final presentation at the Farm Centre in Charlottetown:

and the Breadalbane Environment Committee is presenting a lot of interesting topics tonight, 7PM, Breadalbane Community Centre:

Pensions and comments about pensions:

And I have meant to mention this for a while:

ad in newspaper and on-line.

What is this asking?  I had to read it several times to get the gist, but basically it is asking for public input by the end of tomorrow on MLAs' salaries and pensions.  Pensions -- I wonder if they are as underfunded as the rest of the public sector's?  Are the plans to alter them the same as others? 
If you have *any* comments, direct them to:

a page from Indemnities and Allowances Commission 2012 Report

By the way, that Commission is

(also from the 2012 Report)
And yesterday's Guardian editorial on Plan B begs for some editorial comments here....tomorrow!

October 16, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Last year, after the RCMP swept through Hemlock Grove and after that lovely rally at Province House, a few of us sat down to try to figure out if we had any grounds for a judicial review, which could have also had an injunction component to stop the work on Plan B.

When you are seriously mad at the government, getting legal help on this island is not easy.  But we managed to talk to some lawyers who didn't back away in terror.   Turns out, we didn't have a judicial case.  (Forgive me if I get some details wrong.)  Because of the Environmental Impact Assessment being so rosy, we couldn't say the project would do irreparable harm.  We couldn't prove Transportation Minister Vessey was incompetent -- the only way to rule on that will be by voting in about two years.  And we couldn't argue that Environment Minister Sherry was being unreasonable about our concerns on the project, since the EIA included the "Complaint Management System (CMS)". 

Having no practical judicial case was, to paraphrase British writer Evelyn Waugh, a blow upon a bruise/,

So we looked at the Complaint Management System.  Basically, the CMS was designed for Transportation to figure out how to communicate with other departments when there is a problem.  But the public was also allowed to submit complaints to the rather overused "Gateway@gov.pe.ca" address (it was the mailbox set up for the original three Gateway projects comments, including Strathgartney, but I digress),

We wanted people to know about it, so we had a little "press conference" -- Jackie Waddell from Island Nature Trust, Green Party candidate for leader Peter Bevan-Baker, and me, on October 15th, 2012.  We said we would be watching the project, and a year later, I can say many of us certainly did and DO watch the project, and encouraged you to, also.

Forms with concerns or complaints that are submitted are eventually answered often with something like, "We know and are attending to it."  They could add the "So, go jump in a lake" but are restrained enough not to. This spring, myself, Cindy Richards and another member of the Citizens' Alliance met with the person attending to the Gateways to deliver complaints and suggestions about the CMS (ironic, no?).  Chief Engineer Yeo invited himself to the meeting.  They listened, said they knew and were attending to it, and could have added, "So, go jump in a lake."  My strongest memory is Yeo getting a little testy when I said people thought he was lying when saying it was only a little bit of discoloured water entering watercourses, which you see everywhere in spring.

So one thing that Citizens' Alliance is seeing quite clearly is that our own environmental rules are being bent and ignored all the time.  Our EIA process, as Roy Johnstone nailed it, is simply a pantomime.  Last year our environment minister admitted (to now Liberal MLA Hal Perry) that she hadn't read the whole Environmental Protection Act, which is only 46 pages.  We know we needed to hold the government accountable and that kept Plan B from being even more of a mess.  Let's continue to work together to see that our Environmental Department doesn't just issue permits and permit destruction of the land or sea.

Recent photos sent to Gateway@gov.pe.ca to document an concern:

Runoff from recent rain left this gully, Fairyland, October 13th, 2013.

Today is World Food Day and here are some events:

Lunch at Farm Centre (12 to 1PM) featuring food security talk

"Seed Saving" talk -- about organizing a seed library and other seed saving ideas -- at Confed Library (6PM) with Josie Baker.

The movie Diversidad will start late (7PM, AVC Lecture Room A) to accommodate people going to both.

October 15, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A story, published on-line yesterday but likely in today's print Guardian.

It starts off at a lurch, misspelling people's names and with an alphabet soup of typos, but Nigel Armstrong diligently transcribed some good quotes:

"It's over now.  We realize that."
Plan B protest camp packed up but protesters vow to continue their fight

by Nigel Armstrong

As the Plan B protest encampment came down last week, the protestors reminisced, got angry all over again, and said they are deermined to face new political challenges.

“We are taking the teepee down today because the time has come,” said Dan Jeffery, one of the stalwart Plan B protestors. “We have to continue on with life.”

The encampment in what had been a quiet field now overlooks roaring traffic on the newly realigned TransCanada highway through Churchill and Bonshaw. The protesters call the camp located off Peters Road, Camp Vision.

They walked to a stream Friday, recalled the events of confrontation and lobby, and sat quietly listing to the stream and wind in the trees.

The teepee along with a mobile trailer and a large fire pit was home to protesters all through the winter and up last week.

“It was a rare day when there wasn’t anybody here,” said Jeffery. “It’s over now. We realize that.”

The group said the teepee poles are destined for a special home, a project they are not yet willing to share publicly.

“This is a sad day but look at all the people here,” said Jeffery, looking around at some 30 people coming and going through the site, talking, hugging, sharing stories. “This touched a lot of people,” said Jeffery. “This ain’t over. We have to stop this government from doing stupid, wasteful things like this.”

“I think it has come full circle,” said Cindy Richards of the teepee encampment. “It’s a year later and we are cutting it down.

“It’s a bit bittersweet,” she said. “I spent a great winter here. This camp represented a lot for a lot of people but as this comes down, new things begin and we are excited about those.”

Catherine O’Brien was removed from the area by police one year ago. On the anniversary she is still analyzing protest strategy.

“We were removed and given trespass fines,” she said. “I was one of the ones in the grove when the police came in and I refused to leave so was taken out.

“I wasn’t expecting police because we had just had a conversation with them a few days before, promising us that we would have time, that they would give us notice.

“I regret that we didn’t see what was coming, that we were misled,” said O’Brien.

That rainy day last October when police arrived to clear out protesters from the direct line of construction work, many of the protest group had left to get changed out of rain-soak clothing and get warm.

“Up to that point we were so organized but everybody was tired,” said O’Brien. “We didn’t have a lot of reinforcements.

“I guess I just wish we had a little bit more forward thinking about understanding how to keep our ground and how to try and stay there,” she said. “Whether it would have worked, we might have been taken out regardless, I don’t know.”

Like others taking down the camp Friday, O’Brien is looking with determination to the future.

“We are still monitoring the highway because there are still some problems that are happening with runoff and siltation so we are trying to keep government accountable for that,” she said.

“We also have now the Citizens Alliance, which has been formed out of this group. We are keeping an eye on government decisions and policies and we are going to be around for a long time. I think this group has a lot to offer.

“We really want to make sure that P.E.I. has a better future and these kinds of decisions won’t be made again,” said O’Brien.

Larry Cosgrave got involved after he walked the proposed highway’s survey line two years ago and could not believe what he saw.

“It was going through beautiful land where I did mountain biking and hiking,” said Cosgrave.

“It’s not a handful of people against this,” he said.

“We hit the road with signs and we did the legislature thing. Look at the video, hundreds in a big circle in front of the Legislature, hundreds of people out here in shifts on the road, there was a plebiscite done with 90 per cent against it out of 5,000 people.

“I’m still frustrated and angry, through the whole year, because it’s such a dumb project in all ways, a waste of money, a waste of the environment, waste of what it could have been used to do other good things on the Island,” said Cosgrave. “See, I’m getting angry again.”

photos from The Guardian article:

Cindy and Keith taking down the tipi.   

Folks at the Grove, Friday, October 11, 2013.
photos by Nigel Armstrong

October 14, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A must-share from Pauline Howard this morning, via the Plan B facebook:
Thanksgiving weekend seems an appropriate time to give thanks to all the people who, in their own way, took action to try to stop the unnecessary construction of the Plan B realignment. The government and the government controlled media (no offense intended to individual journalists) often said there were a “small group of protesters”. Even Premier Ghiz admitted that his government did not realize the level of discontent surrounding Plan B.

Gratitude is extended to the people who gave, in the many ways they did – food, warm clothing, firewood, equipment, money, shelter, encouragement, transportation, expertise, artistic expression, time and effort - in whatever way you extended yourself to try to stop Plan B – thank you.

And I add:  Thanks to that certain landowner of the lovely land we called Base Camp and then Camp Vision, who let a bunch of near-strangers move onto her land for over a year, who brought in things like a portable toilet and gravel to make her land easier for us to be on, and who gently talked away belligerent and ultra-curious fellows who wanted to come see what we were up to. 
She enabled us to be there, to watch, witness and report on what happened.  Thank you.

You'll barely finish putting away leftovers when you can decide on a lot of events this week:

Tonight: PEI Renewable Energy meeting, Summerside, 7PM, Credit Union Place

Wednesday: World Food Day, and three events of note:

A webinar will take place from 2-3:30PM at the Voluntary Resource Centre with food leaders from across Canada, and the

Movie: Diversidad documentary, at AVC Lecture Theatre A, 7PM

Tues, Wed, Thurs or Friday:  Save Our Seas and Shores event:  "Cradled on the Waves: The Gulf at Risk"

Friday night: Oktoberfest fundraiser for Young at Heart Theatre 

Saturday: The Vinland Society of Prince Edward Island presents speaker Dr. Gisli Sigurdsson from Iceland on the topic: "Vinland As It Was Remembered in the Icelandic Sagas."  7:30PM, Irish Cultural Centre (BIS Hall) on North River Road.

Sunday:  Prince Edward Island Symphony Orchestra -- our local symphony ;-)  Sunday, 2:30PM, Confederation Centre, with Lennie Gallant.

October 13, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The TV news coverage by Federico Cahais on Maritime Weekend 11PM news from Friday night:
2:20 into the broadcast -- and listen for the uplifting words from the anchor at the end.

Carl Mathis, who could be a worthy successor of Dr. Seuss, weighs in on Plan B related to concerns about Charlottetown's Victoria Park in Friday's Guardian:

Multi-modal OK for Plan B

Published on Friday, October 11th, 2013

Maureen and Bob Hutcheson have written well on the domino effect of the multi-modal model for the Victoria Park boardwalk.

A domino they have not quite touched on, call it domino 3.5, is the beauty of the location. Why is there vehicle traffic along that road? Why do some park and look? Why do some of the walkers amble along? The place is beautiful!

If the multi-modal model will require vigilance on all users, the lovely Victoria Park location is wasted. Imagine what would happen if any of the walkers, runners, cyclists, skateboarders, roller-bladers, ATVers, snowmobilers, SUVers (maybe not all of those) and ice cream eaters should look up from their serious activity to look at a sailboat or the sunset on the water. Chaos! Someone, maybe several someones, would get squished.

Don’t fix what ain’t broke. Leave Victoria Park alone. The multi-modal model needs a new location with no view to distract. May I suggest the almost completed Plan B, where the cuts through the hills are deep enough that one cannot see out? Then, we would just add cars and trucks to the serious walkers, runners, cyclists, skateboarders, roller-bladers, ATVers, snowmobilers, SUVers and ice cream eaters.

Call it the Plan B muddled-multi-modal model.

Carl Mathis,

(From Dr. Seuss' Fox in Socks:
<<When a fox is
in the bottle where
the tweetle beetles battle
with their paddles
in a puddle on a
noodle-eating poodle.
THIS is what they call...

...a tweetle beetle
noodle poodle bottles
paddled muddled duddled
fuddled wuddled
fox in socks, sir!>>

October 12, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Hemlock Grove, Saturday, October 13, 2012 

Today that same view looking south at Hemlock Grove is a culvert with 40 feet of grassed shale heading quite steeply up to the road. (The partially closed shutter was from a rough afternoon at the Grove the day before.)

Here is a link to a beautiful 3 minute documentary about the police closing Peter's Road Friday, October 12, 2012, and the Rally for Democracy the next day (which was, sadly, while tree harvesters were cutting the eastern side of the grove).

Richard Baker discussing the situation with a police officer on Friday, October 12, 2012:

Federico Cahais visited Camp and spoke about it briefly on Compass last night (at 6minutes 15seconds)
(There was probably more coverage on the Maritime 11PM news.)

But the "Plan-niversary" last night was filled with warmth, sadness at what is lost, but looking at what we have gained, too.  That's due to people like you being involved and staying involved.

October 11, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update


(l to r) Unidentified officer, yellow tree harvester coming in, the big cop "in charge", camper -- Hemlock Grove, Friday, October 12, 2012.

Many of us have a story about that Friday from our particular angle.  Let's share them this afternoon -- meeting around 3:30, at Camp, off Peter's Road, off Plan B, to walk to the Grove -- but come by anytime to toast what we have learned and achieved. 
 (Bring appropriate clothing, and some picnic food and something to drink, a lawn chair, etc.)

Leon's poem

Heading for the Hemlocks

It's raining & I'm heading for the trees
The old growth area
Of huge pines twisted
And shaped by the snows and winds
Of Canada's east coast: forms -
As in my brother's bonsai forest.

In Prince Edward Island there are
Two century old hemlocks
Rooted with the pines
And envious yellow birch.
Holding hands under the earth,
Holding the soil below
Sheltering the birds above.

Spruce & tamarack & maples
Wait & Listen -- you'll hear the birds call:
Clean air we love, trout water,
Salamander land.

Hemlock habitat like that
For two hundred years?
No, more than that!
Trees that grow, die,
And renew - reminding us
Of this holding of hands for a while
Of this intertwining of real roots.

My brother protects a tiny forest
Day after day, sometimes with a mist spray
He studies the shape of sorrow & storms
He's a Bonzai artist who watches forms

And I am heading for the hemlocks
At 130km per hours & I know no Mounties
Will be stopping me for speeding
And I slow a little when blinking away tears.

I'm heading for the the tall hemlocks, pines,
And yellow birch, the spruce, the maples
In this fall foliage of gold & quivering red.
I'm heading to where the trees will soon be dead.

I'm driving for half an hour to see,
To protest the cutting of the Island's oldest trees
these trees that will give no more seeds
Because politicians want a road that no one needs.

--Leon Berrouard
October 2012
in PEI

And:  This morning, CBC focuses on a facet of the whole Plan B picture:
A Promo on a producer's Facebook page tonight:   https://www.facebook.com/pat.martel.100?fref=ts

The Plan B arrests... one year later. WAS IT WORTH IT???
Island Morning talks to one of the protesters who was charged last October. Also hear about her experience camping in a teepee over the winter.
Friday at 8:15am 96.1 FM
Here's the video from last October.

:-)  to dear Cindy!

October 10, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Here is a sweet idyll, about an idyllic place, though not without the shadow of the specter. 
"Hemlock Grove - PEI's Newest Gated Community" (1 min)

(Even the "realtor" looks like he's enjoying more peaceable, well-conditioned times.)
This treasure was put together just about a year ago by two fellows, one who saw more of the cutting edge of the tree-harvester than anyone should.

Hemlock Grove, Churchill, October 10, 2012

Enjoy your day and this fine weather (which looks a little drizzly for tomorrow, which is what we were used to),

October 9, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

When work resumed on the beginnings of Plan B on October 9th, 2012, after the Thanksgiving holiday, things shifted.
People still protested waving signs by the highway, with many, many islanders honking support.

Beautiful and brightly coloured signwavers, early morning, October 2012.

Some opponents went down to stop the tree-harvester in Churchill across from Cameron Road, something which had worked the week before.  This day, the owner-contractor of this machine thought he would have a little fun:
(video taken morning of October 9, 2012)
The quality is not great, but you can clearly see what his point was.

And despite having a communications officer and several chats between Mounties and protestors, it wasn't communicated to us that the RCMP decided that they were done protecting the protestors; in what can only be described as a haphazard, illogical way, they issued a summons ticket for "not leaving when asked to by an officer" to a handful of protestors and arrested one, much to the media's delight.

Today is the last Farmers' Market in Charlottetown for Wednesday for the season!  You can beat the Thanksgiving crowds on Saturday if you can get there today.

October 8, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A mildly superficial Compass TV article last night about what Camp Vision has accomplished :-)
21:20 into the broadcast
There is supposed to be more this morning on CBC Island Morning, too.
We will be having a "Plan-niversary" on Friday, October 11th, gathering at Camp off Peter's Road after 3:30PM, heading for Hemlock Grove for 4PM, and back to the Camp for a campfire. Plan to come anytime you can!  More details to follow.

One day a short while back I didn't get a Guardian (but saw Wayne Wright's excellent Mount Rushmore cartoon in The Journal-Pioneer) and missed Marion Copleston's says-it-all letter:

(I wonder if The Guardian has this particular headline on some sort of permanent setting, as they have had to use it often enough.)

Minister out of touch

Published on September 26, 2013

Editor: In a recent CBC article regarding the opening of a section of the Plan B highway realignment in Bonshaw, Transportation Minister Robert Vessey is quoted as saying that “most Islanders support the project.”

I’m not sure how he can know that, given the province refused to conduct a plebiscite on the issue during the planning stages. An unofficial plebiscite was conducted, however, with more than 90 per cent of respondents expressing opposition to the Plan B proposal.

These results were echoed in a CRA poll conducted in September 2012. I have spoken to hundreds of Islanders over the last year and of those, only two said they supported the project.

Everyone else was completely dismayed at the cost of the project and the environmental destruction it entailed, and they were very skeptical about the safety claims. All were stunned by the lack of democratic process and felt betrayed by their politicians.

Minister Vessey may want to “believe” that most Islanders support Plan B, but only by listening to all Islanders and not just those who have gained financially from the project would he ever know for sure.

Marion Copleston,
And a year ago there was the beauty and confusion of the Thanksgiving Day weekend.  Once the snow/safety/security fence was installed, we dialed back the roadside sign-waving protest for the holiday, and those first few tents and campers blossomed to a village complete with many structures, visitors, awnings, food, a satellite supply station near Peter's Road -- everything except a milk cow, who was not easy to trailer in. 

On the weekend (details, like my camera photos, are a little blurry) Keptin John Joe Sark came over and lit a sacred fire and performed a smudging ceremony.

Grand Keptin Sark blesses folks at the campsite on October 6, 2012.

October 7, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

While we were rallying in front of the Windsor Motel October 6th, a year ago, something quiet but monumental was happening at the work site. 

On that Saturday morning, as the workers continued to close in the area around Crawford's Stream --which we call Hemlock Grove -- with snow/safety/security fence, Josie Baker and some others slipped into the area and set up some tents.  Just like that, we went from a group being marginalized by signs and fencing and fairly-nice-but-clearly-nervous-and-therefore-often-unpredictable-security and police people to a peaceful, occupying community; again, showing the government just how serious we were about stopping Plan B.

That would be our home for the next little while, the real heart of the place. 

October 6th, 2012 -- Corner of Peter's Road and the welcoming private property which would become Base Camp.

October 6, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A year ago, faced with a government that wasn't listening, and tree-choppers only paused while safety/security/snow fence was being installed, we did what we did best -- planned a rally -- this time out by the Plan B site, in a safe open location, the parking lot of the Encounter Creek/Fairyland property.

But when we realized our government was going to turn the Fairyland parking lot into a security zone....

New Haven Campground/Encounter Creek/Fairyland parking lot, photo taken October 5th, 2012.

....we moved it to the very pretty and accommodating Windsor Motel across the road:

The ever-accommodating Shona and Matt Holzer welcomed the rally, photo taken October 5, 2012.**

Roy Johnstone was the over-arching force behind this rally, and after speeches we moseyed down the TCH, a gorgeous fluid line of concerned and caring people.

A beautiful 1minute 41 second video by Mille Clarke, of the walk down the TCH -- captures it and sends the message:

Marco Lapegna's made a YouTube of part of the rally (Roy's speech):

and a shorter (5 minutes) part 2, showing the walking and an interview with Roy:
**Unfortunately, the whole uncertainty of Plan B in the New Haven area was a major contributing factor to the Holzers' decision to put the place up for sale and go back out West.  We wish them the best!

October 5, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

"We'll be remembered more for what we destroy than what we create.”
author Chuck Palahniuk

Tree harvester, October 3rd, 2012, delivered at dusk and hidden from view by the contractor in Churchill. 

Approval of the EIA having been given by Minister Sherry, work was set to begin.  Folks started a roadside sign protest next to the entrance to site, and for the next two days, citizens walked up to the machinery so it would be shut down for the safety of the people, a technique that worked until after the Thanksgiving holiday; all the while we continued to call for government to drop the project.

Summerside resident and video-blogger Marco Lapegna filmed interviews with road protesters and added his thoughts on October 5th, 2012 (it is 12 minutes long, but quite interesting):
Marco (who is off-camera) speaks to the ebullient Cathy Grant, the eloquent Eric MacPhail (no truer words than "...a needless expenditure of public money..."), and across the highway you can see Catherine Russell energetically waving a sign (she organized a honk-fest in town the Friday before).  

October 4, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Hal Perry's crossing of the Legislature floor yesterday was unusual.  It means he now supports the government that cooked up and is currently serving Plan B, and Premier Ghiz with a straight face said he was so glad Hal joined them because as a Robert Ghiz Liberal he wouldn't be muzzled anymore.  Well, not on criticizing the Tories, anyway.

One more bit why PEI would be a great place to implement proportional representation.

from the Eastern Graphic, Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013.  By Greg MacAdam, who was homeschooled ;-)

I wasn't able to make it to the showing of "Island Green" last night, and I do hope City Cinema gets it; but also following in Raymond Loo's footsteps is this year's MacPhail Homestead George McRobie lecture, by Robert Paterson, whose blog posting I shared Wednesday.

Saturday, October 26, 7PM, is the Georgie McRobie Lecture at the MacPhail homestead. $10, call or e-mail to reserve tickets (small room, tickets will go fast). (902) 651-2789, or sending an email to macphailhomestead@pei.aibn.com 

Food and Health, Topic of Lecture at Macphail Homestead

The Boards of Directors of the Homestead Farm and the Sir Andrew Macphail  Foundation are pleased to announce  that one of the region’s  leading  authorities on social innovation will  presenting the 3rd Annual George McRobie Lecture at the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead in Orwell, on Saturday, October 26th.  The speaker will be Robert Paterson, business analyst, strategy & social media consultant, author, publisher and innovator.

The evening begins at 6:00 p.m. with a reception and cash bar, followed by the lecture at 7:00. The title of Mr. Paterson’s talk will be, “Food & Health; the PEI Opportunity.”

This special lecture series is named in honour of Dr. George McRobie, Patron for The Homestead Farm, the new sustainable agriculture entity operating at the Homestead.

George McRobie has long been one of the world’s leading proponents of sustainable agriculture and appropriate small-scale technology. He was a close friend and colleague of the radical economist E.F. Schumacher, whose landmark book Small Is Possible made such an impact in the latter part of the 20th century.

In his talk at the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead, Robert Paterson will share his experience as an agriculture policy consultant and his recent explorations and research into the connection between the epidemic of chronic illness and the food we consume.  He will discuss how the current global food system impacts community health outcomes, the environment and local economies. 

Robert will help to define for us the connection between food and health and describe why food is the paramount issue. He will also tell us why food that is grown in small operations is key to better health and, further describe how such a food system could scale to meet the demand that will come.

The discussion will lead to a specific conclusion and question:  What are the steps that small growers on PEI can take to be at the forefront of this revolution?

There will be a charge of $10.00 for admission to the lecture. Since space is limited at the Homestead – capacity about 50 people – you should register in advance by phoning (902) 651-2789, or sending an email to macphailhomestead@pei.aibn.com  

Tomorrow, more on how Plan B was going a year ago. And a get-together next Friday afternoon.

October 3, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

In Minister Vessey's world of repetitious erroneous claims to prop up this indefensible road decision, he repeats that Plan B has removed 34 accesses to the TCH; meaning that by paying people "fair market value", smushing their homes, and paving over the wrecked bits, there is no fear these lifelong residents will ever carefully enter the highway from their driveways again.**

Former home sites in Churchill, September 29, 2013.
  Nice of them to leave a few trees.

He is also counting accesses to fields, and perhaps this:Home (empty) along TCH/Plan B in Churchill, north and east of Riverdale Road intersection.  Driveway abruptly ends before ditching.
Not sure how anybody living there could get out to the road.  Or anybody (like a firetruck) get to the house.

A very sad story of an elderly man who figured out the government really wanted his home, too.
** When the accident data was finally released (after trees were cut), it showed that there were very few driveway access-caused accidents.  (Close-calls, probably, but that can happen anywhere.)  Speeding, drinking, snowing: that's what caused -- and will continue to cause -- the majority of accidents.

October 2, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

I flipped the PEI Federation of Agriculture "Faces of Farming" calendar to October yesterday morning, and smiling at me was a lovely picture of the late Raymond Loo and his sisters Joyce Kelly and Margie Loo.  Every day I will smile back.

Tomorrow, Thursday night, a screening of the film "Island Green" by Millefiore Clarkes, will take place at the King's Playhouse in Georgetown, at 7:30PM. The filming is dedicated to the memory of Raymond, who is featured in this film about PEI going organic.

An excerpt from a wonderful blog by Robert Paterson:

How can we honour (Raymond) him? We can support his family and we can build on his legacy.

Here is how I see his legacy. This is the Raymond Loo model that we can all build on.

  • Direct - farmers will sell to people and have real relationships with their customers
  • Vegetable and meat based - the market for row crops will diminish and the market for vegetables and meat that can be trusted will explode. More and more people will understand the health choices that they are making
  • Customer Financed - With real relationships based on a common vision of health and quality, farmers will move away from bank finance.
  • Small Scale - Raymond used no more than 5 acres for most of his production - other than his feed. The future of food will be small growers working in large networks.
  • Constant improvement of the soil and terrain - How Raymond farmed builds soil quality. He leaves a much better capital base than he inherited.
  • A better PEI - My sense is that his life will inspire more and more people to join this movement. When 15% of PEI do this, the system will tip.

When the tears stop and the hole in our hearts fills back in, as they will, then the work begins. If you grieve, then please act. Build the new system in his memory.

Paterson, a social entrepreneur and business analyst, has contributed to the PEICancer.com website,
and is giving the McRobie Lecture this year at MacPhail Homestead, Saturday, October 26th, titled “Food & Health; the PEI Opportunity.”

But much sooner:

The Charlottetown Farmers' Market is open today, if you have the opportunity to stop by.

Opening tonight at 7PM at the Arts Guild, running until November 2nd
A Natural Focus -- a new work by Brenda Jones (painting) and Ron Arvidson (pottery),
inspired by the nature and landscape of Prince Edward Island

October 1, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

On October 1st, 2012, Environment Minister Janice Sherry gave her conditional approval of Plan B, after it went through the Environmental Impact Assessment process.

Minister Sherry one year ago.

Fairyland, looking like an open mine pit, last weekend.

It was an unusually warm day, and we heard from a reporter that the announcement was to be made in the early afternoon, and several of us dropped everything to go to the Jones building, to find out the announcement was closed and only a few reporters let in.  That spoke volumes. 

Then we saw the conditions, and thought they couldn't start work on Plan B until they were all met -- wrong!  Transportation said of course they could, they just had to work towards them.  There was nothing in Minister's Sherry statement saying the 11 conditions had to be met before work could commence.  That spoke volumes.

Minister Sherry had the opportunity to do the right thing -- pull the plug on Plan B for environmental reasons, take the fall for her government and let them start making amends with voters.  That didn't happen.  Instead, she gave it a few finger-wagging warnings, kissed it and sent it out the door.

This, after *hundreds* of submissions from people like you to the EIA process, many of which I had the privilege to read.  I am told several in particular were pointed out to her for their cogent argumentative value.  You would have had to be made of stone not to be moved by them, or have your mind made up (or made up for you) not to be persuaded by them.
Why did we go through the "public consultation process" of EIA, masquerade as it was?   It is supposed to have the outcome of *not* doing the project as a viable option.  But in the face of massive corporate (or in this case government) pressure to approve the project, the project herded through the process by "environmental consultants" like Stantec (their hiring an untendered process, by the way), the public's concerns and clear reasoning get marginalized. 

One objective of the Citizens' Alliance (as we parse out these kinds of things) is to examine how the current environmental protection structures like the EIA process are not working properly and to address these concerns.  All of us can stay tuned and stay informed.