September 2013

September 30, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

There is a new meaning to "overlook":

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The part of the old highway just up from the Bonshaw Bridge that is slated to be lowered to meet Plan B; September 29, 2013.  Note that dark areas on hydroseeding (not the shadows) are likely cuts into water table.

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Looking west towards the Bridge and entrance to Bonshaw Provincial Park.

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Looking down onto Plan B (and we have always looked down on Plan B). Big truck in a small lane.
Pink line may be indicator of the edge up on the old road to note any crumbling down to Plan B below. Bonshaw, September 29, 2013.

PS  The kids and I were watching a BBC production set in the late 1700s, and noted it was filmed in the Cotswolds in southwestern England.  Gorgeous landscapes, and I thought how did they find a spot without roads blasted through it?  (It was filmed before CGI.)  I read that this area is an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty)  and protected as such.  How forward thinking.  How pathetic that "Moving Forward Together" was the Liberals' slogan in the last election.

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What we have done to an area of outstanding natural beauty. 
Land just east of Plan B used for materials storage, Bonshaw, near equestrian park, September 29, 2013.

September 29, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Evan Larter spells out the reaction most of us had to Minister Vessey's comments on Plan B:

Another World?
published Saturday, September 28th, 2013, in The Guardian

Last week I was watching Compass and they were doing a story on the first part of Plan B to open when Mr. Vessey told the reporter and us viewers that only a small group of our province was against the Plan B highway and the majority of us were all for it.

The comment made me cough in my Diet Coke because the shock made my pop go down the wrong way. My goodness, where does he live and work cause his P.E.I is not the one I live on.

A majority was all for this project? Does he read the paper because if he did he would have seen hundreds of letters of uproar and sadness from Islanders in disbelief that the plan got approval to start?

Does he listen to his surroundings because if so, he would have heard the front yard of Province House full of chanting, picketing Islanders wanting the plan halted. People lost their homes out of the blue with no warning and then having no input on the matter.

Does he watch Compass because if he did he would've seen a crowd at the Plan B site that was so big, they used to make work on it halt and a tent city was erected in the nearby woods.

My question to Mr. Vessey is this. If his ‘for it and against it’ percentage comments were accurate, then why didn't he have a ribbon cutting and big announcement with handshakes take place on the day of the first stretch of highway opening?

Instead there was a hush-hush secret opening that only was revealed when Trans Canada daily commuters saw that it was open. I wish our government would stop playing the ‘think we’re stupid card ‘and get in the loop and follow us Islanders.

Remember back when it was getting off the ground we told them that Plan B will create speedsters, not slow the road down making it safer. Well surprise, surprise, the first full week of being open and the cops had a big increase of speeders and tickets. Just like we've been telling them all along.

Evan Larter, Charlottetown

Farm Day in the City is one of the many events taking place today, if you wish to head towards Queen and Richmond, with Community Garden tours taking place, too:

Community Garden Tour: The PEI Food Exchange with support from the City of Charlottetown is offering free tours of three community gardens on Sunday September 29th to coincide with Farm Day in the City. Anyone interested in growing food in an urban environment is encouraged to attend. Participants will learn about crop selection, gardening tips and techniques and what to do with the abundance from the garden. Each garden on the tour has a unique model of community gardening, with a common goal of providing healthy and nutritious food to our community. You are encouraged to walk or bike between the three gardens. This will be an informal format and everyone is invited to share their knowledge.

11:30 :: Spring Park United Church, 65 Kirkwood Drive. This is a private community garden, awarded the first prize in the 2013 edible garden category in the Make Charlottetown Bloom contest for their "Grow to Give" garden. All produce is donated to the Upper Room Soup Kitchen.
12:30 :: Desbrisay Community Garden, Desbrisay Crescent. This is a mixed private/public garden initiated in 2001 by the Cooper Institute in collaboration with the City of Charlottetown through an initiative that focused on sustainability in an urban environment.
2:00 - 4:00 :: Victoria Park Community Garden and Clubhouse, Victoria Park Ball Diamonds. This is a community garden space provided by the City of Charlottetown. In addition to a tour of the container gardens at Victoria Park the City of Charlottetown will provide information on the resources they have committed to support community and urban gardening.

September 28,2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

In case you didn't see this editorial cartoon in Thursday's Journal-Pioneer:

Journal-Pioneer, September 26, 2013, by Wayne Wright

September 27, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

An update on the Land Use Policy Task Force:
This is the group that is making recommendations to the Department of Municipal Affairs about what Islanders think is important regarding land issues and prudent land development.

Here is a page with a link to the 2-minute public service announcement that introduces the topic, made by the Citizens' Alliance:  and more links to the Task Force from the Citizens' Alliance website.

The Land Use Policy Task Force has a survey for islanders to assess their priorities.  This is pretty important because it is the chance to comment on concerns like pesticide drift, subdivision development, smart road development, etc.
It *does* take about 15 minutes to contemplate your answers.

Events this weekend:
Farm Day in the City is this Sunday  -- lots of lovely fresh produce, great producers, and looks like beautiful weather.  It's on Queen Street between Grafton and Sydney Streets:
and there will be tours of three community gardens

The monthly Bonshaw Ceilidh is Sunday night, 7PM, at the Bonshaw Hall.

Friday, October 11 -- later afternoon/evening -- a Plan B  Anniversary event -- Plan Beyond

Tuesday, October 15 to Saturday, October 18th -- Save Our Seas and Shores PEI is sponsoring "Cradled on the Waves: The Gulf at Risk", public talks and discussions in four locations across Prince Edward Island. The talks will be led by Sylvain Archambault, a highly-respected expert on oil and gas issues in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. 

A second section of Plan B is set to open today, presumably the section over Crawford's Brook and Stream (Hemlock Grove) and on a tight by-pass section back to the current TCH near Fairyland.

September 26, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

People speeding on the new shiny asphalt and straighter road?  Really?

Driving into Bonshaw, Wednesday, September 25, 2013; hillside to be dug up on left, note the speed limit signs.  Photo by helpful passenger.

CBC and The Guardian did stories yesterday on speeding on Plan B (evidently after the RCMP sent them a news release telling them they were cracking down on speeders in the Plan B area).  Hurrah for the Mounties for protecting public safety, though it appears requests for RCMP to enforce speed limits go on a two-year waiting list.

By the way, the speed limit during the construction time for the whole Plan B area is 60kph whether it is the shiny new asphalt or the incredibly rutted bit near Churchill.  Residents were told it would be posted at 90kph once the road is done; there has been inconsistent information about the eventual speed limits through the communities of Bonshaw and New Haven.

The CBC story also had a video of shots of the quiet of the now "old" road, and an interview with a family happy to contemplate biking on it.  Sweet, though that family moved to that house with the TCH right there, and no word of plans to change it; now there are families along Green Road and Cameron Road who bought homes on purpose to be *away* from the TCH, and without any public consultation have had the road moved in their "front yards."

You just can't move something like the TCH in a place as small as PEI and not have it be in someone else's space.   Protecting our Island land through responsible land use planning could possible help here -- more on that tomorrow.

Island Nature Trust
is having their annual general meeting tonight at 7PM at the Carriage House at Beaconsfield.  Fiep de Bie is giving a talk on her adventure exploring the Antarctic by tall ship.  All are welcome!

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Digging down the hillside in Bonshaw, September 25, 2013. Photos while driving on Plan B by passenger with a simple digital camera.

September 25, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Here is a reminder that the Environmental Coalition of PEI Energy Project will be making a presentation to the provincial Legislative Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry today, with the meeting starting at 10AM.  These meetings are open to the public.  It's at the Pope Room of the Coles Building, which is next to Province House (just go in main doors and to the sign-in desk). 

The presentation will be on promoting alternatives to fossil fuels.  The presentation will be very good -- the questions and response will be interesting! 

The Farmers' Market in Charlottetown is open today from 9AM to 2PM.

September 24, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

An early-morning order of asphalt was delivered and soon after traffic was moved to a section of Plan B between the Bonshaw Bridge and near the Strathgartney Provincial Park in Churchill yesterday.  With a preternatural determination and apparently lots of money for machines, it's inevitable that sections would open, though construction is ç*months* behind the schedule on the Department of Transportation's website (a snippet copied below). 

CBC Website article:
Compass last night (lead story):

Minister Vessey is kind of entertaining for his peculiarly consistent message, like a "SeeNSay" toy I had as a kid -- the reporter just prompts him with words like "safety" and he says the same thing over and over again  -- 24 driveways eliminated; softened the curves; few protesters; on schedule and budget...

So let's see the budget breakdown, please.

"TCH Realignment Updated Construction Schedule May 30, 2013"
Phase -- Construction Date
TCH Bonshaw Phase 1 Station 6+200- 7+900 Bonshaw Provincial Park East to existing TCH alignment near Strathgartney Park TCH Bonshaw Phase 2 --     Spring 2013- end of June 2013 for earthwork components Pavement by end of July 2013

Odd that with all the concern for safety, only one of the excessive number of new streetlights installed on the Bonshaw section by the connector road was operating last night.  The posted construction-zone 60kph speed limit does not appear to being followed.  Hmm.

And a reminder about an event today:
Tuesday, September 24th, 2-4PM, Valerie Tarasuk, co-author of the report Household Food Insecurity in Canada (2011)
will make a public presentation at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 106 St. Peter's Rd in Charlottetown.

September 23, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

CBC Radio announced that part of Plan B is opening at 10AM today, which is interesting since as of yesterday the Bonshaw part just west of the bridge looks like this:

Very nicely rolled gravel on Plan B, a little west of Bonshaw Bridge, Sunday, September 22, 2013.
But maybe there will get asphalt in there this morning, as the budget for hurrying up and "getting 'er done" seems elastic....

After the traffic *is* moved over, drivers will have the chance to watch the crews chew down that hillside to allow access to the horse park and little church.  Drivers and others will also have the chance to "vote" on plan B and other decisions in a couple of years.

Last Thursday, The Guardian very nicely printed this press release verbatim from the Department of Environment, Labour and Justice, which is copied below from its website (bold is mine):

Minister Sherry to chair Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment
The Province of Prince Edward Island will be a voice for sustainable development and careful protection of resources when it leads the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME), says Environment, Labour and Justice Minister Janice Sherry.
“As chair, I intend to continue the work of our departing chair – Minister James Arreak of Nunavut – and to lead a nationwide discussion about environmental issues,” Minister Sherry said.
Minister Sherry assumed the chair of the CCME Tuesday as Ministers set an agenda for discussion and collaboration among Ministers in 2013-14.
Among the areas of collaboration for the CCME are:
• Improving Canada’s record on reducing and recycling waste;
• Continuing progress on the Air Quality Management System;
• Implementing the CCME’s water action plan.
As chair, Minister Sherry will host the 2014 meetings of the CCME in Brudenell in September 2014.
“Not only is it our turn to host, but 2014 is a very important year for Prince Edward Island as we mark the 150th anniversary of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference,” she said. “I look forward to welcoming my Environment colleagues to the Island as we celebrate this important milestone.”

For information on the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment see

This was in the News section, not the Comics page.

Most folks opposed to Plan B could write fairly awful lampoons at the drop of a hat, and in that spirit this is passed on:

With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan:

Perhaps for a production of The Pirates of Cabinet during these 2014 meetings--

"We are the very model of en-vi-ron-mental stewardship
We had an Old Growth Forest and we built Plan B right thru-oo it,
((humming -- need next few lines))
And frack we might if the dough it right,  For the Island is for sale,
And you'll hardly recognize it once the Ghiz Gang is all through with it!"

Culverts, 2014 money -- there is better doggerel that could be written -- perhaps for our little social on October 11th.

And I wish a happy 16th birthday to a dear daughter who never writes doggerel, is kind to dogs, and along with her siblings and some other young people, gives us all hope for a bright Island future. 

September 22. 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A bit of weekend reading, the third of the four articles reflecting on the Toronto Conference on "Our Changing Atmosphere:"

Reflections on the Toronto Conference - 25 Years Later: So What Happened?

(The end of June) marked the 25th anniversary of the Toronto Conference, a “perfect storm” of events that launched the issue of climate change onto the global policy agenda. So what happened in international environmental diplomacy over the past 25 years?

After three years of deliberations following the Toronto Conference, the International Negotiating Committee (INC) on climate change drafted a text to be signed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 1992 as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The objective of the treaty is to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The treaty itself set no binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries and contains no enforcement mechanisms. Instead, the treaty provides a framework for negotiating specific international treaties (called “protocols”) that may set binding limits on greenhouse gases. Presently, 195 Parties have signed and ratified the UNFCCC.

Five years after the drafting of the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 to place legally binding limitations/reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases in two commitment periods for many developed countries. The first commitment period applies to emissions between 2008 and 2012, and the second commitment period applies to emissions between 2013 and 2020. Presently, there are 192 parties to the convention, including all UN members, except Andorra, Canada, South Sudan and the United States.  The United States signed but did not ratify the Protocol and Canada withdrew from it in 2011. The Kyoto targets varied among nations. Some nations were allowed to increase their emissions by a certain amount; others were required to make significant cuts. The average target was a cut of around 5% relative to 1990 levels by 2012. According to standard data, developed countries can claim to have reduced their collective emissions by almost 2% between 1990 and 2012.

Many have argued these numbers as cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries since 1990 have been cancelled out many times over by increases in imported goods from developing countries such as China. Under the Kyoto protocol, emissions released during production of goods are assigned to the country where production takes place, rather than where goods are consumed. Once the carbon cost of imports have been added to each developed country, and exports subtracted – the true change in greenhouse gas emissions from developed nations since 1990 has been an increase of 7%.

The Kyoto protocol was amended in 2012 to accommodate the second commitment period, but this amendment has not entered into legal force. The USA, Japan, Russia, Canada and New Zealand have indicated they would not sign up to a second Kyoto commitment period unless developing nations signed up as well. The Kyoto second commitment period applies to about 15% of annual global emissions of greenhouse gases. At the 2012 UNFCC/Kyoto protocol meeting of the Parties in Doha, Qatar,   an agreement was reached to extend the Kyoto Protocol to 2020, and to set a deadline of 2015 for the development of a successor document, to be implemented from 2020 forward.

The international climate negotiations have not been very effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions – the major force behind climate change – and are now stalled.

(In the last article in this series), we’ll discuss a way ahead in addressing climate change.

Questions? Contact Adam Fenech at or (902) 620-5220

The whole series of four articles and the Climate Lab blog can be found here:

September 20, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Here is an excerpt from yesterday's Guardian:

In an article focusing mainly on that MP Wayne Easter thought Raymond Loo was a great guy and worth listening to, but here is the heart of the story:
a quote from Karen Loo about her husband:
"We hope that people will remember the kinds of things that he tried to do and try to take that forward," she said.  "That is really the best way to remember him, is in doing the kinds of thing that he thought were important for the long-term health and longevity of this Island."

Perhaps that gives all of us a task:
Long-term:  make an organic PEI not just a dream but a definite plan.  It is doable, and worth more that spending money on certain highway projects I could name, and would have positive repercussions in every community and every government department.

Short-term: buy local, as it is harvest time and our farmers have been working hard.  Try to buy extra and "put by" some of it for winter.
The Charlottetown Farmers' Market is still open on Wednesdays, too, until Thanksgiving, I think. 

Here are some events and items of note coming up, in (local) arts and crafts, entertainment, nature, and policy....

Saturday and Sunday, PEI Crafts Council Studio Tour --

Saturday, September 21, 7PM, Bonshaw Hall -- the Gene MacLellan concert -- a lovely, caring concert of warmth, reminiscence and joy.

Sunday, September 22, 2PM, MacPhail Woods -- Autumn Walk at MacPhail Woods

And while you are wandering outside this weekend, consider taking some nature photos to send to a contest National Geographic is hosting:
It's trying to get a record number of outdoor nature photos uploaded to web photo-sharing sites during September 21 - 29th.

Tuesday, September 24th, 2-4PM, Valerie Tarasuk, co-author of the report Household Food Insecurity in Canada (2011)
will make a public presentation at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 106 St. Peter's Rd in Charlottetown.

Wednesday, September 25th, 10AM, Pope Building (next to Province House), a Legislative Committee meeting with a presentation on alternative energies explained, in the hopes the MLAs will be more inclined to look at sustainable energy versus fossil fuels.

September 19, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Electric power lines have been strung up along the middle section of Plan B, around the Peter's Road, Crawford's Stream (Hemlock Grove) and Brook area.  It definitely adds one of the last touches announcing that man has marked out his territory (or in this case, government is building a road nobody wanted).

Here are a few pictures to show what's going on in Bonshaw to show the work to connect the newly-widened Bonshaw Bridge to Plan B.
I am not sure when they plan to make the cul-de-sacs in the Bonshaw end, effectively forcing all traffic onto Plan B, but it looks like they will get traffic over to the new section in a few days.  It is likely to be a temporary-type road for a while.

Bales of straw lined up and staked for sediment control, apparently.  September 19, 2013.

Looking (north)east towards the CBC tower, Plan B comes in behind excavator.  Bonshaw Provincial Park access appears shut down now while they did down.  Wednesday, September 18, 2013.

Lots of manpower and machinery.  Just west of Bonshaw Bridge, September 18, 2013. 

September 18, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Continuing the "News As Entertainment Category," Part 2, the top story in Tuesday's Guardian shows North River Fire Chief Kirby Wakelin clarifying that no, really, his fire crews are *fine*, thanks, and that they don't need any additional training to deal with accidents down the embankments at Plan B.

The Guardian considers it a scoop for their publication that Chief Wakelin (a very nice person, by the way) is clear: read his lips, No New Training Needed.  The CBC story last week (over several broadcasts) was completely sure that he felt more training was warranted.

One commenter on The Guardian's webpage makes the observation:
"Mitigation Myopia" -- September 17, 2013 - 06:48
Wow. If Plan B has given Islanders anything , it's insight into the pandering propaganda that passes for journalism - not only in The Guardian, but in the local CBC as well. Thankfully, most Islanders are intelligent enough know that the whole project and all the problems it generates is a needless, useless waste. Saying that the North River Fire Department doesn't need special training to deal with the steep slopes of the new road is like saying doctors don't need more training to deal with the victims of a chemical spill . Of course they have the training - we all know that's not the story. The story is what causes the potential problem! Let's face it, the problem of "steep slopes" didn't exist before Plan B was built. The way this story is presented, now Islanders are supposed to be happy that our firefighters and doctors are ready to deal with accidents should they happen!

A few suggestions for the media:

  • a more interesting story would be what really helped the fire chief changed his mind,
  • or perhaps touring the road with him and looking at all the embankments and access to gauge his reaction to the real Plan B.
  • use photos that are current, not weeks old (yesterday's accompanying photos in both print and webpage versions are not at all recent).

Here are some photos of those embankments, with current photos:

Bonshaw, just north of CBC Tower, September 15th, 2013. 
Guardrail and Plan B off to center right. Apparently, that track around the crater-like sediment pond in the middle of photo is the access road.

Standing at guardrail a bit west towards Bonshaw from first picture, September 15th, 2013.
Down there are just the remnants of a beautiful ravine.  (Aside: Note the material that the hydroseeding is supposed to be growing on.)

Fairyland ravine-now-with-sediment-pond, September 15th, 2013.
It is much steeper than could be caught on camera.

From Maureen Kerr
There is a meeting tonight in Stratford, at the Sobeys community room, from 7-9PM, to discuss taking action on banning cosmetic pesticides in Stratford.  

There will also be an update on meetings with Stratford town officials.

September 17, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Observing how the media reports stories would be entertaining if actually didn't care about what was happening on PEI.

A week or so ago, CBC reported on the mitigation failures and Janice Sherry's hopes and dreams.  Their coverage reminded their Island audience about things wrong with Plan B, including the enforcement of the Environmental Impact Assessment approval from just about a year ago.
Yesterday, they pretty much read a press release and got some carefully worded statements from TIR spokesman and chief engineer Stephen Yeo about how the mitigations all worked.  Only a little "discoloured water".

To quote a note from one of the volunteer public environmental monitors after seeing that -- " Well that is great news hip hip hooray, oh wait but that is not true."

Web article:
Compass from last night (at 10:20)

If this link works for non-Facebook people, it shows a little of that "discoloured water":


 Don't Frack PEI is hosting a public meeting tonight, Murphy's Community Centre, 7-9AM.
from the notice: "We need your input as we discuss what we should do next to stop fracking from coming to PEI."

And a reminder about the Gene MacLellan concert at the Bonshaw Hall this Saturday, September 21st, at 7PM.

You have likely heard that organic farmer Raymond Loo died yesterday morning, here on PEI.
His obituary:
Visitation is tomorrow from 2-4PM and 7-9PM at the Davidon Funeral Home in Kensington.  The funeral service is Thursday morning at the funeral home chapel. 
The funeral home is just off the north side of Route 2 west of the main intersection in Kensington, on Sunset Drive.

September 16, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

According to the flashing road sign, the TCH at the Bonshaw Bridge will be one way with traffic lights while they connect Plan B to the current TCH.

Here is what it looked like Sunday:

View from near Bonshaw Provincial Park, looking northeast on Plan B towards CBC tower, Sunday, September 15th, 2013. Note the un-hydroseeded slope, by the way.

Over thirty feet of rock stands between Plan B and current TCH in Bonshaw before they meet.  It was still very wet from Friday's rain; rows of hay bales have been placed in the Bonshaw Provincial Park leading to the river, so they are anticipating some sort of sediment flow at some point.
Also, for south shore residents or folks going to or from the bridge, the road work in DeSable is continuing.  The current TCH is being ripped up and shaved down in front of the Blue Goose.  The shale they are digging up is dumped in the Little Christos plant parking lot (which has new owners, the rumour is), and fresh shale to pack on the TCH is trucked in -- truckers going at very high speeds on Appin Road and the TCH down to DeSable -- apparently from the old Mudrooters property on Todd Road in DeSable.  All's well that ends well??

Anyway, watch out on the roads, but have a great week.

September 15, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Some Sunday Sit-Back-and-Read offerings, from three Islanders speaking clearly and truthfully:

Shawn Hill, the executive director of the Watershed Alliance, points out that the federal gutting of the Island office of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans leaves PEI unwatched and unprotected.  I have highlighted some parts of the article:

DFO Cuts Make Monitoring Harder, Say Conservationists
CBC Website
September 14th, 2013

Recent cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada will make it harder to monitor environmental issues on Prince Edward Island, says a watershed protection group.

There used to be three habitat management biologists on Prince Edward Island, but the department eliminated those positions in the spring. The biologists were responsible for the protection and conservation of fish habitat.

Shawn Hill, executive director of the P.E.I. Watershed Alliance, said those concerns are at the forefront as heavy fall rains hit the Island.

“As far as we're concerned, there's no law in the books that prevents silt from being put into a waterway. We've heard some reports here last week about that and that concerns us,” he said.

“In the past, the Fisheries Act was a very powerful piece of legislation across Canada and equally on P.E.I. Now that status there in unknown and without the supporting DFO staff, were (sic) concerned that developments and other activities could seriously damage the environment on PEI and there's no one here to say much about it.”

There has been some concerns in recent weeks after heavy rains have caused silt to flow into waterways in the Bonshaw area near the controversial Plan B TransCanada Highway realignment.

Excessive silt in the water causes cloudiness that can result in harmful effects on fish and other aquatic wildlife, according to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website.

Silt and suspended sediment can reduce the amount of oxygen in the water, suffocating organisms.

A spokesperson for Fisheries and Oceans Canada said biologists will be dispatched to P.E.I. from Moncton, N.B., when required.

Chris here:  So who determines "when required"?  Is it provincial officials who brush off these incidents with "red water goes into red water"?

"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.
--June 13, 2013, The Guardian

Some breakfast table calculations determined that Plan B's gravel requirements could have covered 40km of Island clay roads.  Think of the positive effects *that* would have had on sediment getting into Island waterways.

You may not always agree with publisher and columnist Paul MacNeill, but you have to give him credit for speaking his mind, and for giving his staff the opportunity to do the same.  Luke Arbuckle from the staff of the Eastern Graphic (and blogger and conservationist) writes in last week's Graphic in the column titled "Our Space":

Islanders have the power to change things

by Luke Arbuckle, Eastern Graphic, September 11th, 2013

We’ve heard about the construction of the new wind farm in Hermanville, the largest equipment to arrive on PEI.

Now we’re hearing about the need for a new power cable between the Island and New Brunswick.

When do you suppose we’ll hear about a solar energy project?

You’re right, we probably won’t, it makes too much sense.

But, if our government was able to see past its nose, it might realize renewable energy is something this province could have in abundance.

In 1997 the Danish island of Samsoe became 100 per cent powered by renewable energy sources, so the concept is proven.

Ontario was temporarily home to the largest solar farm in the world (in October 2010) until surpassed by larger farms in China and India. Located in Sarnia, Ontario, the 97 megawatt[2] Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant can power more than 12,000 residences. That’s a large portion of Island homes.

So where is PEI’s forward thinking ingenuity?

Oh yeah, it’s wrapped up in Maritime Electric’s monopoly on Island power.

Even if Islanders allowed (yes, we do have a say) another $90 million power cable to be sunk into the Northumberland Strait, or weaved through the Confederation Bridge, it wouldn’t help reduce Maritime Electric’s control over our energy future.

There’s talk of an Atlantic Energy Gateway. We’ve heard it discussed both federally and provincially, but long before our governments can proceed, we as a province need to look at projects like Plan B and decide if we still think our leaders are competent enough to make these decisions. Most already know the answer to that one.

A responsible government would put a call out to vendors to build a solar energy plant here. My guess is it would cost less than $100 million and PEI would be producing its own electricity.

What would happen to energy prices here on PEI if the two 35-year old power cables we have were to fail? Islanders would lose their shirts and our only energy supplier would be all the richer. Glaring evidence of a flawed and outdated system.

Why are we (as taxpayers) investing money in selling energy so we can buy it back at inflated prices? That’s not only bad business, but bad economics.

Sorry Maritime Electric, your reign of social and economic tyranny must come to an end.

The people of this province need to stand up for themselves, run against the furrows and learn to create, harness and distribute their own power.

Luke is one of the young people on this Island that should give us all hope for the future.

And Roger Gordon, retired professor of biology, dismantles the supercilious criticisms from lobbyist Lorne Hepworth regarding Roger's original letter of August 29th):

Scientific Evidence Supports Ban on Cosmetic Pesticides
Commentary by Roger Gordon, published in The Guardian, Friday, September 13, 2013

I would appreciate being given the opportunity to respond to a couple of points made by Lorne Hepworth ("Pesticides can be used safely" - the Guardian Sep 6, 2013), who took issue with my previous submission to the Guardian on the issue of using cosmetic pesticides ("P.E.I. government should ban cosmetic pesticides - the Guardian Aug 29, 2013).

First, it is important to recognize that Mr. Hepworth, as president of Crop Life Canada, represents the interests of a global network of manufacturers and distributors of pesticides, including those commonly referred to as cosmetic or lawn ones.

Mr. Hepworth contends that I "cherry-pick Information to support his (i.e. my) view on the topic." Proving beyond any shadow of doubt that cosmetic pesticides cause cancer or other serious conditions in humans is difficult, because science must rely upon epidemiological or case history studies of human populations after exposure has been inflicted under uncontrolled conditions.

Thus, it is unsurprising that every single study would not show a positive correlation. Yet, many well executed investigations of this type in which robust statistical analyses have been performed do show a worrisome trend. In 2007, an international group of medical researchers extensively reviewed the literature connecting pesticides of various ilks with cancer in humans.

As an example, 10 of 12 studies showed a positive correlation for Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma, in four cases reaching statistical significance. Twelve of 14 case studies were positive, 8 reaching statistical significance. Dicamba, mecoprop and carbaryl (all being sprayed on lawns in P.E.I.) were among the culprits. When one pieces together the evidence from these "field" studies with laboratory evidence of damage at the molecular level, it is small wonder that the Supreme Court of Canada in 2001 ruled that a 100 per cent cast-iron cause and effect relationship was not required for a governing body to exercise the "precautionary principle" and ban these chemicals. It is also unsurprising that a growing list of respected bodies have advocated such a ban -the Medical Societies of P.E.I. and of Canada, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Ontario College of Family Physicians, to name but three.

A second point of Mr Hepworth's is that we should be reassured of the safety of these pesticides because they have been approved by Health Canada. I am afraid that this does not give me the same sense of comfort. In the first place, Health Canada only tests the active ingredients, whereas commercial formulations contain a variety of so-titled "inert" ingredients (solvents, dispersants, etc) that in many cases have undesired effects of their own.

Also, there are several examples of pesticides that were once approved by regulatory bodies in existence at the time that have, in light of subsequent knowledge, been banned. DDT, fenitrothion, and 2,4,5-T (the partner to 2,4-D in "Agent Orange") come to mind. Up until the 1970s, farmers were allowed to spray apple orchards with lead arsenate. So please, let's not look to Health Canada for peace of mind. The only responsible course is to ban these chemicals that are being sprayed unnecessarily on lawns.

- Roger Gordon of Stratford is a retired biologist and former Dean of Science at UPEI. During his career at several universities he conducted research and published extensively on controlling insect pests using biological, environmentally-sound strategies.

You may need a whole pot of coffee or tea to get through all this!  ;-) 
Or just go enjoy Open Farm Day!

September 14, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The bad news is that is was Friday the 13th. 
The good news is that it wasn't all bad.

The bad news is that the environmental monitors got soaked and muddy and so did our cameras.
The good news is that there were warm temperatures and fine companions.

The good news is that there were no major, catastrophic failures at Plan B.
The bad news is that everything failed a little bit.

The good news is that on Friday the chief engineer said they had hydroseeded and mulched everything and did all they could.
The bad news is that wasn't really true.

The good news is that the Environment Minister said her approval of Plan B ordered that Plan B construction mitigations could withstand a 1-in-25-year storm. 
The bad news is that it can't even withstand these late summer tropical depressions we get once or twice each year.

The bad news is that many of our elected officials and their designates do not have our Island's best interests at heart.
The good news is that more and more of us are aware of this and will work together to change things.

A few photos from yesterday (many more on Facebook or other places later):

Late afternoon, Friday, September 13th, 2013, sediment from new South Peter's Road area entering Crawford's Stream (downstream of Hemlock Grove). Sediment is more orangey-brown and coming from shale-fill hillside at upper left and inappropriate mitigations.  Photo by Larry Cosgrave.

Sediment further downstream later that evening, September 13, 2013 (CO photo with raindrop artifacts).

September 13, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Let's hope it's a lucky day on PEI and the amount of rain is less at Plan B and it falls gently.

TIR spokesman and chief engineer Stephen Yeo is confident, saying that they did everything they could and they feel good (at 2:45min):
The first shots (after the intro with the anchor) are of Bonshaw looking down into Plan B if you are standing on the current TCH.  The purplish spray paint line marks the edge of the cut.
It's a steep ride down, and connecting the two roads is going to be interesting.

from middle of August 2013, on Plan B at Bonshaw near provincial park towards bridge, looking up at cliff, guard rail, and TCH on top of it

Upcoming events and groups to note:
Fresh, local food:
There is a group of people who have organized the PEI Food Exchange, where they help obtain, sort and distribute extra vegetables from local gardeners and farmers for people who don't have access. They are busy most of these upcoming weekends; details here:
The always-giving Kat Murphy has been a driving force behind this.

Sunday is Open Farm Day

(and no event, but an interesting group started by the great Di Hill:)
PEI Peasants -- Small Scale Food Producers:
"This group is dedicated to the production of food on a small scale on Prince Edward Island, Canada. It's open to anyone who is interested in growing their own food with maybe some extra to sell, trade or donate. Whether you have a herb pot on the balcony of your apartment, or a few acres with a handful of livestock, we hope you will find this group useful for networking and information."

Next week:
Don't Frack PEI is holding a public meeting on Tuesday, September 17, at 7PM, at the Murphy's Community Centre, featuring St. Francis Xavier University professor of political science Peter Clancy, activist Eliza Knockwood, and singer Teresa Doyle with her original and quite catchy, "Let's Ban the Foolin' Fracking!"

If, however, you are in Summerside, Martin Rutte is giving a workshop "A BOLD Tomorrow -- co-creating a Heaven on Earth."  Details at:

A week from Saturday (September 21) is the annual Gene MacLellan tribute concert at the Bonshaw Hall.   More details next week.

Dates in October:
Former Prime Minister Paul Martin is giving the annual Symons Lecture at the Confed Centre on Thursday, October 10 at 12:30PM.  The topic is usually some aspect of confederation, and the speaker is usually quite open and critical of things. 

Last year the speaker was David Suzuki, when he said:

"I will say, We have to stop forcing nature -- we have to stop shoehorning nature -- into *our* agendas, for God's sake!
Don't tell me that so we can drive a little more 'safely', we are going to devastate forest -- I mean that doesn't make sense to me!
We have got to adapt and change our behaviour. But nature is the source of our well-being, and our lives, and every bit of it now is precious! We have got to stop the destruction, whether it is created forest that we got or Old Growth Forest, We have got to learn to live within much stricter confines."

The year before was Ivan Felligi, former chief statistician for the Census, and he really lit into scrapping the mandatory census by the Harper government.  So Paul Martin could be interesting.
Tickets are free, but you have to call to reserve them (566-1267 after 10AM) and there is a limit of two per person.

And, finally, we are in the planning stage of a Plan B  Anniversary event -- Plan Beyond, to take place on Friday afternoon/evening, October 11th; details to follow. 

September 12, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A lot of loose-ends - with apologies for the length.

A huge bouquet, perhaps of hydroseeded clover flowers, to Cindy Richards, public environmental monitor, who has been tirelessly communicating with the people from Environment and from Transportation who are trying to keep the sediment from flowing into the waterways, especially with Friday's rain coming.

Media from yesterday:
CBC Compass (@6min) from last night, John Jeffery tracking down Liberal MLAs after their caucus:
Robert Vessey ("Bessy" in closed-captions) emerged as if from a time-warp and said that his department is all about making tough decisions, and getting the highway up to standards with federal dollars.

and about 8minutes into it, Compass repackaged the "Plan B steep embankments worry otherwise positive fire chief" story from the previous night's Maritime News.  "Nice" shots of the steep embankments.

Glad that CBC is finding more angles to report -- and  **how much is this costing?** -- a real breakdown of the numbers-- would be appreciated.

Steep embankments are seen on the last of Stephen DesRoches' photos from August 21st, 2013:
all photos found here:

Looking west towards the CBC tower at Churchill, where the two roads are meeting for a bit.  This area is currently causing a lot of runoff into the waterways.
Western edge of Bonshaw:  A curve replaced by a curve ripping into a hillside. The hillside on the right was mostly trees last year.
Bonshaw Hill (what's left): Switching perspective and looking east, Plan B built up 50 feet.  You can see the "access road" on the downhill side of the curve at center and bottom left.  Is that path going to be cleared in the winter of snow in case of accident??   The triangular-shaped dirt area is a "storage area for waste" as former mining engineer and now chief provincial engineer Stephen Yeo puts where the shale and rock chunks deemed not road-grade had been dumped and packed down.  This area is also causing runoff into the Bonshaw (West) River, down by the footbridge along Green Road, out of the photo at the bottom.
Looking towards Bonshaw Bridge: Another view of curve, embankment, and the unwanted shale site. Bonshaw 500 go-kart park on center left.
The Bonshaw end (bridge not in shot but below bottom left) looking north-east.  Now the excavation has gone so deep the road will be surround by embankments that really need some vegetation growing on them right now.

All welcome to a Plan B "planners" meeting tonight -- we will talk about what's going on at the site, Citizens' Alliance activities, etc.  6PM, Bonshaw Community Centre, with people bringing an easy snack to share as dinner while we meet.

An upcoming event in Nova Scotia:
(the preregistration date is today, September 12)
Saturday, September 14th, 10AM to 4:30PM in Tatamagouche, NS
Gandhian Non-Violence and Community Organizing

"A unique one-day workshop opportunity to learn about Gandhian non-violent approaches to organizing being used in India today - and a chance to reflect on what might apply to our own communities! This workshop will be of interest to everyone wanting to build a strong, self-determined, resilient and sustainable local community."
For further information contact Wilf Bean at

September 11, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

"Just slow down, and everything will be fine," said Chief Engineer Stephen Yeo, on the radio last night.*

Oh, now you get it.

*(he was referring to the deplorable condition of the TCH at Riverdale while they dig up the road)

CBC Radio this morning and the Maritime TV news last night mention the safety concerns about rescuing people in vehicles who might go over any of the new steep embankments. 
Maritime Late news last night (@3min):

Some of the views of those partially grassed steeped embankments of Plan B in the story are taken from Green Road across the river valley, a view which was once a hillside covered with trees.

It's a little dicey driving through Plan B construction now, as Steve Yeo mentioned.

from earlier this summer at cut near Fairyland

Saturday there were so many articulated dump trucks and giant excavators criss-crossing the site or working very near (too many to bother with flagman, evidently), I felt like a tiny reptile in the age of dinosaurs.

Just goofing around.  Have a good day,

September 10, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

With relief, and since the rain stopped, this update contains no further reports of compromised mitigations at Plan B, and no news media reports as apparently they are as tired as we are of images of sediment dumping into waterways and government people nodding and waving their hands.  We will see what happens at the sites to improve cover over the exposed road cuts.

Other issues out there:
Maureen Kerr wrote a descriptive letter on what's happened with cosmetic pesticides, and where we should be going:

Islanders still don’t clue in

Published on September 09, 2013, in The Guardian


Shortly after I read the letter to the editor by the chair of the Cancer Society (re: Pesticide Concerns, September 4th, 2013) urging the health minister and premier to ban cosmetic pesticides because "they provide no health benefit, but rather may increase the risk of developing cancer," I was told that a daycare and kindergarten in my community spray their lawn with cosmetic pesticides (but not in the enclosed area) and I felt physically sick to my stomach.

People I’ve spoken with, upon learning that P.E.I.’s cosmetic pesticide ban that took over two years to enact was, in fact, a ban of just one chemical, have been outraged. The provincial government listened to hundreds of presentations on the dangers of cosmetic pesticides, but chose only to ban one chemical, 2-4-D (although golf courses and farmers can still use it).

I can’t imagine there would be a single person who would still spray their lawn after hearing from a scientist (retired UPEI Dean of Science, Roger Gordon’s letter: Re: P.E.I. should ban cosmetic pesticides, Aug 29, 2013) or from the chair of the P.E.I. Cancer Society, about how dangerous these chemicals are, especially to children. But they aren’t the first to confirm this. This has gotten to be an old message, and a painstakingly old fight.

Many people think a government wouldn’t allow such a thing to happen in this day and age, spraying toxic chemicals near children, but in P.E.I. where we have become known for our disturbingly high cancer rates, it happens frequently. Schools, sports fields, and playgrounds all subjected to pesticide drift (Google it if you don’t know what it is).

Come on, P.E.I. This is urgent. Do the right thing and put the proper laws in place to ban these carcinogenic chemicals. Just look at Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland or even Manitoba’s new laws. Islanders would love to join the 22 million people across Canada who aren’t exposed to cosmetic pesticides. That’s what we expected you to do years ago. Do the right thing now.  

Maureen Kerr,
Social media & technology trainer,

Maureen writes with a collection of dedicated "health hackers" on the website
The most recent post also includes a link to a 14 minute TED talk by Margaret Heffernan on "The Dangers of 'Willful Blindness'", well worth watching, as it discusses something that seems like it doesn't happen here-- purposeful acceptance of something that is not right; the speaker also champions individuals who have worked so hard to bring a serious health issue to light and their difficult journeys.  Hats off to Maureen and those working on this.

and here is a bit of news from the University of Regina, regarding response to a situation which is interestingly familiar:

Petition calls for vote on a vote

By Emma Graney, The Leader-PostSeptember 4, 2013

A potential motion of nonconfidence in University of Regina top brass all boils down to one thing - money.

Susan Johnston, an associate professor and member of the Coalition of University of Regina Educators (CURE), says the 60-plus members of U of R council who signed a recent petition simply want to know "Where is the money going?"

The petition, launched in August and submitted to university management Tuesday afternoon, effectively calls for a vote on a vote; that is, council would vote on whether its members are prepared to cast secret ballots to determine if president Vianne Timmons and vice-president Tom Chase are safeguarding the academic mission of the university.

Timmons last week scheduled a special Sept. 27 university council meeting to discuss the petition, but there's now a chance the initial vote could go ahead on that day.

However, even if the council does conclude through a final vote that it has no confidence in Timmons and Chase, it doesn't mean either of them will step down.

Timmons said she will raise the issue to the board of governors, but board chair Lee Elliott has publicly thrown his support behind the university's senior management.

Sean Tucker, an associate professor in the business faculty, didn't sign the petition.

Although reluctant to talk about the issue publicly, he said he felt compelled to as "this is a critical juncture for the university."

"We could be potentially risking our reputation here," he told the Leader-Post.

"I think the positive out of this (Sept. 27) meeting is that it will clear the air, and we need to clear the air on this campus and start to move forward."

He also said he believed Timmons's record - when it comes to the First Nations University of Canada, for example, or assisting the two Nigerian students in sanctuary - is "something to be proud of."

"My concern is, really, what is the alternative?" he said.

"Practically speaking, I don't see it."

Johnston, on the other hand, thinks there is not enough transparency at the top level of university management - hence the push toward a non-confidence vote.

"Our concerns here are genuine," she said.

"The level of (budget) information we're getting is not very much. It doesn't tell us, for example, the change in spending in the president's office over the past decade or five years.

"What it all comes back to is that, right now, the kind of cuts we're enduring are unprecedented."

Timmons says while she believes faculty and staff do have adequate access to funding and budget information, she will "absolutely stand by any faculty member" who has concerns or signs the petition.

"I understand there are concerns, because yes, times have changed," she said.

"Whether it's 10 or 50 faculty members with these concerns, I want to hear them and respond to those concerns."

Timmons said she would stand by her record at the U of R.

September 9, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

It rained yesterday, a lovely deep rain that the farmers need, that our aquifers need.  But Plan B doesn't need it because nothing really was "mitigated" since Tuesday's rain.

I would show you new photos that the volunteer environmental monitors took, but really, just think about the photos from:
September 4th
June 8th
May 18th
April 12th
March 14th
December 11th, 2012
November 9th, 2012

and it looks pretty much the same (OK, one new photo below).

(descriptions and new videos from yesterday and older photos and video can be found in the front page and archives or on Facebook at the Plan B Atlantic Gateway Highway Proposal group)

As Carl Mathis pointed out sardonically a few months ago in a letter to the editor, that's about one-in-25 day rain event, not one-in-25 year event the site is supposed to be prepared against.

One can come to the conclusion that in the effort to stay "On time and on budget", mitigations (manpower, low-tech interventions like sandbags) are being given the short shrift.

Perhaps those travel writers for GoMedia should take a stroll to Plan B...

Volunteer Environmental Monitor at downstream side of Crawford's Brook Culvert, Sunday, September 8th, 2013, about 5PM.  (Photo by Environmental Monitors) Sediment coming in from upstream side due to improper covering of exposed shale hillsides uphill.

September 8, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Sierra Club session on water last night was very interesting, not only the excellent speakers and the seriousness of their topics, but the discussions initiated from members of the audience. 

Of note to the backbenchers were the exchange between Winter River - Tracadie Bay watershed co-coordinator Don Mazer and Charlottetown city councilor Eddie Rice, the sight of former provincial environment minister Richard Brown nodding about all the good he himself did, and NDP Leader Mike Redmond, who asked about particular decisions showing misplaced priorities.  While Mr. Rice sincerely understands the seriousness of one watershed being drained to be used and flushed into another watershed's harbour, he tossed finding the solution (other than water conservation) back at Don.  So a bunch of volunteers in a watershed are the ones who have to invent the solutions.

We circled the Gulf of St. Lawrence with Irene Novaczek as if we were going through her garden, except she tends her garden and we have polluted and overfished our Gulf.  Add to this the sensitive location of the proposed Old Harry site for an experimental offshore well, and you can see how absolutely reckless putting a exploratory well would be.

Andrew Lush also spoke about fracking and its hazards, especially for PEI, and when the floor was opened for general comments, Mount Allison (Sackville, NB) environmental studies professor Brad Walters got up and said, basically, if our government allows companies to put wells on their leases, it usually means about a oil rig a kilometer -- just google "images landscape fracking" to get an idea. He said New Brunswick has allowed that is facing the consequences, but PEI!  It jeopardizes *everything* that means the beautiful Island way of life.

A 2 minute video from National Geographic, very dispassionately describes fracking in the US.

However, the much-touted The Economist, a publication with decent reporting on world news (without the froth of celebrity "news" of many North American news magazines) publishes happy shiny stories like this:
saying Pennsylvania is the very best place to frack and it's oh-so-safe.

Don't Frack PEI is holding a public meeting on Tuesday, September 17, at 7PM, at the Murphy's Community Centre, featuring St. Francis Xavier University professor of political science Peter Clancy, activist Eliza Knockwood, and singer Teresa Doyle.

Usually government people and industry cite revenue and the need for fossil fuels when permitting these kinds of explorations, but both SOSS and Don't Frack PEI discuss the need to end dependency on fossil fuels, and Don't Frack PEI provides plans for alternative energy in their subtitle ("Wind, Water. Sun -- Energy for the Long Run")

All three talks focussed on water and its long-term importance in the face of short-term shouts. Good job, Sierra Club!

September 7, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Tonight, three talented Islanders are speaking about water issues in an event organized by the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter.   You likely have heard their names and what topics they speak most knowledgeably and passionately about, but when I was thinking of these three, these words came to mind:

Watching, ready to defend  -- Andrew Lush will be speaking for "Don't Frack PEI" and was recently spotted in a crowd of thousands wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with a stop sign with the words "Say NO to Shale Gas".

A Class Act -- Irene Novaczek will be speaking about efforts of the SOSS-PEI (Save Our Seas and Shores) and the ridiculous risks in oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  Irene, with grace, has dealt with a set of circumstances which shed only enough light on situations at UPEI and the Institute of Island Studies to confirm a need for more transparency, better leadership, clearer vision, and a more intuitive understanding of this dear Island. 

And Tireless -- Don Mazer will be speaking about watersheds.  I came across a clipping I had saved and was shoved in with some recipes (!) from The Guardian in August 2007 referring to fishkills and other mistreatment of our freshwater, and what it says about us. (And how he could have written it last month.) It is well worth rereading.

Bonshaw River, September 3rd, 2013.

Creating a "green Island" requires a change of mind and heart
Commentary by Don Mazer
printed on August 15, 20078, in
The Guardian.

During my training to be a clinical psychologist, I worked with a psychiatrist who was very enthusiastic about drug treatment with his patients. He described his practice as "medicate to toxicity, then reduce it one level." That is, prescribe just a little less than what it would take to make the patient sick (or maybe even kill her) and it will hopefully make her better.
I believe this is a useful story for reflecting on what we have come to accept as normal practices in how we grow food and the thousands of fish that were killed in the waters of the Dunk and Tryon Rivers recently.
Potentially toxic levels of chemicals are routinely applied to the land in order to produce the food that is intended to help make us healthy. We know that these are dangerous chemicals. We require those who use them to be well trained and to protect themselves when applying them. We require what we believe to be just enough of a buffer zone, just enough crop rotation and just enough restrictions on plowing on sloped land to hopefully prevent these chemicals from finding a way into our water. We develop environmental farm plans that are adopted by many Island farmers. And then, another big rain comes, the waters run red and many fish are killed.
Even with legislated changes, we only managed to go three years without a major fish kill. And the excellent work of undersupported watershed groups to protect and restore our waterways is once again heartbreakingly undone.
What is to be done? The Guardian editorial called for "dramatic change" should it be conclusively determined that farm chemicals seeped through the buffers, and proposed more effective buffer zone legislation, stricter rules on the application of pesticides and stronger enforcement of regulations.
And should it not be 'conclusively determined', would it indicated such dramatic change is not required? Would these 'normal' farming practices be acceptable? After all, provincial health officials do not believe that the link between pesticides and human health has been conclusively determined, and so no change in the application of farm chemicals is regarded as necessary to protect human health.
The Guardian's suggestions are timely and useful, but the problems that we face go far beyond the restorations of fish habitat and populations. As Dr. Palanisamy Nagarajan clearly pointed out in his article, our environmental problems are more systemic and interrelated. The fact that thousands of fish have been killed is deeply disturbing. It is also a symptom of the degree to which local ecosystems have become degraded and disturbed. We should not require fish to die before we conclude that our waterways are endangered and that action is required.
Most of the environmental problems we experience, and the practices that contribute to them, come to be reflected in our waters. At the watershed consultations last winter, there was a broad consensus among diverse environmental, community and farming groups that the Island waterways and environment were at a turning point, where there was only a limited window of opportunity to take significant action before the ecological health of the Island is irretrievably damaged.
What we require is not only a fundamental shift in perspective and policy but a change of mind and heart. We need to be guided by an ecocentric vision, grounded in the value of enhancing ecological health in all of our practices. We can no longer afford the 'risk management' models that push the land to its limits, try to stay right below that level of toxicity, and hope that no 'illness' results. It would be useful to develop benchmarks of ecological health (e.g. for water quality, soil quality, forest cover) with the aim of ensuring that, as stewards of the land, we should not only 'do no harm', but leave the land better than we found it.
Only those practices that enhance the ecological health of our land and waters should be supported. And if the idea of the 'green Island' is to be anything more than glib marketing rhetoric, then it is incumbent that government provides leadership in articulating a vision of a what a truly sustainable, ecologically healthy P.E.I. would be like in 10 or 20 years and that all programs and policies be in support of this vision.
And of course, such a vision of an ecologically healthy Island requires that we address what The Guardian and many other Islanders recognize as the chemical dependency of our mainstream farming practices. As a psychologist, I use diagnostic language only occasionally and with great care, but it does seem to me that our collective reliance on farm chemicals has many of the hallmarks of the clinical chemical dependencies and addictions to drugs or alcohol. Traditional addictions reflect 'tolerance', an increase in dosages over time, and a range of disturbances in thought, such as denial, rationalization and cognitive distortions, that seem quite evident in our use of farm chemicals. Along with increasing use, we feel that we can't live/farm without them, deny their negative effects in the face of compelling evidence, and provide many reasons why we must continue using them.
We have often framed these issues as a conflict between the 'environment' and the 'economy.' But in fact, our human economy and well-being is ultimately dependent upon the well-being of the environment. Perhaps the central insight of ecology is that all things are connected. It is imperative that we recognize that human practices that degrade and endanger the environment actually threaten the very basis of our economy as well as our human health. Theologian and environmentalist Thomas Berry once suggested that "there are no healthy humans on a sick planet." We need to regard the death of these fish as a reflection of how much the health of this Island and all of its inhabitants, human and non-human alike, has been jeopardized. and to make the dramatic changes that would contribute to a truly healthy, sustainable and 'green Island.'

Don Mazer taught psychology and environmental studies at UPEI before recently retiring and is a board member of ECO-PEI. He lives in Suffolk on the Winter River.

Tonight's tentative agenda for the Sierra Club event (Room 207, Murphy's Community Centre):

6:30 pm- public viewing of displays, plus ongoing video recording for those who want to state their 'water' concerns [to be used for doc's &/or youtube postings]
7 pm- Introduction MC Bethany Toombs
- Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter short report of activities- Chairperson Emma Hebb
- Sierra Club Canada short report of national activities- National Board member Tony R
7:30 - 1st Panelist Andrew Lush- 'Don't Frack PEI'
7:45 - Qs for Andrew [comments to be held until 8:45]
7:55- 2nd Panelist Don Mazer, Co
Chairperson, Winter RiverTracadie Bay Watershed
8:10- Qs for Don [comments to be held for 8:45]
8:20- 3rd Panelist Irene Novaczek, SOS/S
PEI (protect the Gulf)
8:35- Qs for Irene [comments to be held for 8:45]
8:45- Comments from the floor and follow-up by Panelists
9:15 Wrap up including summary of action plans

Have a great weekend, and pop into the salsa-making workshop hosted by the PEI Food Exchange at 10AM at the Farm Centre if you are in the area,

September 6, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Minister Sherry: The dream, the wish, the hope that mitigations would work...
(top story)

She didn't write Dream, Wish or Hope in her exact and exacting order to Minister Vessey for her conditional approval of Plan B:

excerpt from Minister Sherry's conditional approval for Plan B, October 1, 2012.
Certainly, on Tuesday construction continued in Riverdale (#3), these measures are not even working for our normal rainfalls (#2), and she IS the one responsible for this (#1), even if she can't control the weather.

It was good to see Opposition Leader Stephen Meyers at Plan B, looking around for himself, and West River Watershed Coordinator Megan Harris.  Glad to see CBC investigate these issues and take the Minister to task.

Upcoming events:
Saturday, September 7th, 7-9PM, Murphy's Community Centre, Charlottetown.
'PEI Needs Clean Water - Come Join the Movement to Protect It!' A panel discussion will be led by Don Mazer from the Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association, Andrew Lush from 'Don't Frack PEI', and Irene Novaczek from 'Save Our Seas and Shores- PEI'. 
Other events are planned, including a walk in the Winter River Watershed and a social at the Bonshaw Community Centre --details contact Bethany Toombs <> or

Council of Canadians and CUPE re: Health Accord
from their press release:

"The Council of Canadians has partnered with CUPE to launch a nation-wide campaign that will pressure the Federal government to renegotiate a fair Health Accord. We have a chance to protect and strengthen universal health care in the upcoming 2014 Health Accord.  We need to make sure that Islanders have access to the same high quality health care services as those in other Canadian provinces.

 "The campaign will be rolling out in three provinces in 2013! In PEI the two-week campaign starts September 7th and ends September 21st.  The Council of Canadians, CUPE and other allies, will be organizing workshops, public outreach campaigns, and media-grabbing events including a Town Hall September 16th from 7pm to 9pm at the Loyalist, 195 Harbour Dr. Summerside and a Community Festival for Public Medicare September 21st from 11am to 2pm at Britannia Hall, Canada Rd., Tyne Valley.

 "If you have time to attend a workshop, volunteer during a door-to-door canvass, or attend the townhall and community festival, please be in touch! For more information or to sign up for a workshop or to volunteer, please contact Leonard at:  or Leo Broderick at "

Workshops are Tuesday through Friday next week in various locations -- full schedule, more events here at the excellent Status of Women's weekly newsletter:

and checkout the PEI Food Exchange's website:
and its salsa-making workshop tomorrow (10AM, Farm Centre). More on them later!

September 5, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

CBC coverage from Wednesday, kudos to Cindy Richards for documenting and

Last night's Compass coverage of Plan B mitigation failures from
Tuesday's rain:

CBC News web story:

Let's hope today's rains aren't heavy or substantial.

September 4, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

After such a sunny summer, we were bound to get a September rainy day, and we got it.  Not *that* much rain fell, for September, but it completely overwhelmed various mitigations along Plan B, and blew open new problems.

When I checked things before lunch, the mitigations were holding, but after the lunchtime rains, Cindy Richards found different story:

Bonshaw:  Sediment spilling into the Bonshaw (West) River:

unable to upload :(  check facebook page for photo
Sediment rushing down old Crosby Road embankment into West River, September 3, 2013.

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Bonshaw River, Plan B side, by footbridge, sediment coming from old Crosby Road ravine, September 3, 2013.

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From the footbridge (that could use replacing) over the Bonshaw (West) River, September 3, 2013.  Sediment from Plan B, Bonshaw section.

Despite all that crushed glass and shale to stop up the springs, by afternoon the mitigations failed at Crawford's Stream:

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Sediment running into Crawford's Stream (downstream of Hemlock Grove), September 3, 2013.  Again.

And a new but totally predictable failure was sediment-laden water rushing down from the denuded hillsides by Riverdale Road, into Crawford's Brook and the box culverts upstream.  This is placing more stress on those shifty shifting boxes.

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Sediment rushing down ditch from uphill and upstream of Crawford's Brook, September 3, 2013.

All photos by the indomitable Cindy Richards.

We should add the workers on the project are trying to deal with this Hydra, but they didn't create this mess.

Frustrated? Disgusted?  Consider contacting Environment Minister Janice Sherry
local MLA Valerie Docherty
Transportation Minister Vessey

On water issues, the Sierra Club is hosting a workshop Saturday:

7-9PM, Murphy Centre,
You are invited to attend a special evening focused on protecting Prince Edward Island’s precious waters.

Speakers include:
Don Mazer - Co-Chairperson, Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association,
Andrew Lush - Don't Frack PEI, and
Irene Novaczek of Save Our Seas and Shores-PEI.

September 3, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Comments on the set of photos taken by photographer Stephen DesRoches (from a small airplane on August 21st).  Here are some more features on each photo:

Thanks to Stephen for permission to reprint his works.  The entire set is at

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Fourth photo: New Haven, looking East  New Haven, PEI: Looking east, with Fairyland structures in upper left.

Note the ballooning of tree cutting in the western part of Fairyland.

The "barley road" is on the centre left where traffic apparently will be rerouted up the hill from Plan B to the current TCH by the Fairyland buildings while they did the cut at the current TCH (where the kingfishers' nest was).  It is hard to get a feel for the depth in photos, but the hill is a good climb.

Middle area shows shale covering crushed glass which is how TIR is dealing with the springs that were uncovered from the hillsides when digging down.

Springs are being routed down into Crawford's Stream (gravel ditch to right of Plan B leading to oval-shaped sediment pond in lower right corner).  So will all the road run-off, in all weather.

The road leading off to center right is the new South Peter's Road, which continues to be built up with shale not able to be used for Plan B.

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Photo 5: Looking east, also, a little south of first picture.  Homes on Cameron Road in center-lower right.
Yup, the TCH looks pretty straight here, and new South Peter's Road curvy and with a steep embankment of shale.
Hemlock Grove is off to the lower left (can't see arch culverts over Stream ).

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Photo 6: Churchill, PEI Looking east, continuing along Plan B towards Bonshaw, where the two roads will merge in Churchill.
The current TCH has its "dangerous" curve.
Other notes: Hemlock Grove way to upper right.
In the center-left there is a dirt smudge and that is the backyard of the former Crawford, which is by the TCH and what's left of "old" Peter's Road, now totally filled with huge piles of shale.

The photo inadvertently doesn't show the arch culvert, the box culvert, or either side of Peter's Road being built up 30 feet where Plan B cuts through it. 
If you can remind yourself of what was in all the green areas that were once connected and now have been obliterated, you will know it was more than Minister Vessey's "Eight, or six, trees cut."

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Another unauthorized use of a TIR map (ignore green property color variations, please), but it shows the "alignment" of what will be the old road more accurately that the cartoonish map TIR has on its Plan B page (link below).

"New" roads are red with white spots (Plan B and cul-de-sacs on current TCH).  Squiggle on left is new overlook and entrance to Strathgartney Provincial Park.  S-shape in centre-right is "new South" Peter's Road. The tipi is near the "m" in "camp".    Orange arrow points to Crawford's Brook and the box culvert.

The happy shiny map from TIR:

Some of the environmental monitors will check on the rain today around Plan B.

September 2, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Here are three of the twelve photos from Stephen DesRoches' website with my descriptions of his aerial photographs taken of Plan B on August 21, 2013:
(His website photoblog is )
A bit of a map is below the photos.

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Looking west, from New Haven, into Fairyland.  Gass' Store is the red-roofed building lower left, original TCH on right, Island Coastal is in right foreground.

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Same view, a little more angled. 
The "spaghetti bowl" of roads for access to what will be the cul-de-sac former TCH and Route 9 north. Fairyland buildings and wave pool upper right (reddish roof).
The Windsor Motel, now closed, but still sits tidy and shady off to middle right.
Plan B is over three homes of former New Haven families on this stretch; a remaining resilient resident, vocally against Plan B, is totally surrounded (home in lower centre with little red truck).

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Fairyland, looking EAST.  "Encounter Creek" buildings and wave pool in centre left. 
Why is Plan B ballooned here?  It lots like way more fairly valuable hardwood was cut than in the rest of Fairyland.  Could be because of how deep they have to cut (13.8 metres) at the current TCH.  The "barley road" access to reroute traffic from Hemlock Grove to current TCH while they make the 13.8 metre cut across both sides of Plan B is angled road lower centre-right through yellowy barley field.

A segment of a TIR map, copied from their website, annotated and used without permission, and very blurry, to show Fairyland and the spaghetti bowl of access roads.The arrows aren't too meaningful, but the black one shows the wide forest cut location.

September 1, 2013

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Here is the second in four articles regarding climate change that were published most recently in The Guardian by Dr. Adam Fenech of the Climate Change Lab at UPEI.

The term "ppm" gets used a lot and I had to remember what it meant:
Parts per million (ppm) is a way of measuring the concentration of different gases, and in this context means the ratio of the number of carbon dioxide molecules to all of the molecules in the atmosphere when you count out a million particles.

"The Toronto Conference 25 Years Later -- So Where Are We Today?"

Published on July 29, 2013 in the Guardian (link below) and on July 4 at
by Adam Fenech
Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the Toronto Conference, a “perfect storm” of events that launched the issue of climate change onto the global policy agenda. So where are we today – 25 years later?

Global Carbon Dioxide Levels Continually Rising

The global level of carbon dioxide, the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, passed a long-feared milestone in May of this year reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years. Scientific instruments show that carbon dioxide levels had reached an average daily level above 400 parts per million (ppm) – a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering. For the entire period of human civilization, roughly 8,000 years, the carbon dioxide level was relatively stable near 280 ppm. But the burning of fossil fuels has caused a 41 percent increase in the heat-trapping gas since the Industrial Revolution, and scientists say the climate is beginning to react, though they expect far larger changes in the future. Scientists say the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide level symbolizes that so far humans have failed miserably in tackling this problem.  A continuing rise could be catastrophic. It means humans are quickly losing the possibility of keeping the climate below what people thought were possibly tolerable thresholds.

Climate Science More Certain

In the past twenty-five years, the science has become more certain, the threats more clearly understood, and the need to reduce emissions more urgent. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global community’s scientific authority on these matters, will release its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) over the next 18 months. The Fourth Assessment Report (2007) concluded that warming of the climate system is unequivocal. Further support is given for this conclusion in the AR5 through new observations, longer data sets, and more paleo-climate information. Confidence is stronger that many changes in the climate system are significant, unusual or unprecedented. Widespread warming is observed across the surface of the Earth, as well as in the upper ocean. Each of the last three decades has been significantly warmer than all preceding decades since 1850. It is extremely likely that human activities have caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature since the 1950s. There is high confidence that this has caused large-scale changes in the ocean, in the cryosphere, and in sea level in the second half of the 20th century. Some extreme events have changed as a result of this anthropogenic influence.

Effects of Climate Change More Foreboding

The drastic melting of Arctic sea ice reached historic lows in 2012 setting off new warnings about the rapid pace of change in the region. The US National Snow and Ice Data Center recorded sea ice in August 2012 covered about 1.32 million square miles, or 24 percent, of the surface of the Arctic Ocean. Some scientists are concerned about the larger climate effects of low sea ice conditions. Some think the collapse of Arctic sea ice has already started to alter atmospheric patterns in the Northern Hemisphere, contributing to greater extremes of weather in the United States and other countries, but that case is not considered proven. What is particularly worrying is that the sea ice is declining much faster than had been predicted in the last IPCC report on the state of the climate, published in 2007. The most sophisticated computer analyses for that report suggested that the ice would not disappear before the middle of this century, if then. Now, some scientists think the Arctic Ocean could be largely free of summer ice as soon as 2020.

Last summer’s continent-wide drought – the worst seen in over a decade – led some residents outside municipal water districts to struggle for water supplies for the most basic of activities. Farmers complained about stunted crop growth. Complicating matters, many of the worst-hit areas have even less water on hand than a year ago, raising the specter of shortages and rationing that could inflict another year of losses on struggling farms.

Around the world, extreme weather has become the new commonplace, especially last winter. China endured its coldest winter in nearly 30 years; Brazil was in the grip of a dreadful heat spell; and Eastern Russia was so freezing — minus 46 degrees Celsius— that the traffic lights stopped working in the city of Yakutsk. Bush fires raged across Australia, fueled by a record-shattering heat wave. A vicious storm bringing rain, snow and floods struck the Middle East. In the United States, scientists confirmed that 2012 was the hottest since records began, and in the UK, 2012 was declared the wettest year in England since records began more than 100 years ago. Each year we have extreme weather, but it is unusual to have so many extreme events around the world at once. Such events are increasing in intensity as well as frequency, a sign that climate change is not just about rising temperatures, but also about intense, unpleasant, anomalous weather of all kinds.

Tomorrow, we’ll find out what happened in international environmental diplomacy over the past 25 years.

Here is the link to the Guardian article:

Subpages (1): October 2013