Recent History – 2003
First Nations vow to protect land interests
The Oil and Gas Conference opened with a strongly worded resolution from the Treaty 8 First Nations, who said they will work together to negotiate with the province.
“The province continues to give rights to oil and gas without our assistance,” said Chief Gary Oker of Doig River. “It’s all talk now and we are tired of listening to lip service.”
Representatives of the Treaty 8 reserves feel that the negotiations on land treaties have been stalled for too long. They say that they have been overlooked in the recent massive oil and gas rights sale from the province.
“You’re here celebrating what you’ve taken from our lands yesterday, and you are here celebrating what you are going to take today and tomorrow,” Chief Liz Logan said in her address to the conference. “We’re here to tell you that we are not here to celebrate along with you.”
B.C. must learn from coalbed methane mistakes: ministry
It is B.C.’s obligation to learn from the mistakes that the United States made in its 20-year history of mining coalbed methane.
That was the message Mary Coward of the Ministry of Energy and Mines delivered to a sparsely populated Science and Community Environmental Fund public workshop during the Oil and Gas Conference.
“There is no doubt that a number of landholders had had very bad experiences with the coalbed methane production, especially during the construction phase,” she said. “The lesson is that we have to ensure strong and effective regulations that will protect the community.”
Fundraising started for Kenn Borek legacy project
Members of the community used the venue of the Oil and Gas Conference to recognize the late Kenn Borek’s contribution to the industry and the community at large with a silent and live auction that will raise funds for a legacy project in his honour.
“The reason we are doing this is to raise money for the legacy project which will be a wall of recognition,” said Ed Milliken, the Legacy Project Chairman. “This is the first event that we are doing.”
Energy exploration could unearth massive dinosaur footprint find
A thousand dinosaur footprints could be unearthed on land that the Canadian Natural Resource Limited has been drilling near Tumbler Ridge according to Dr. Charles Helm who spoke at the Oil and Gas Conference.
“That would make it the second biggest site in the Americas,” the noted physician and amateur paleontologist told a large lunchtime crowd at the Curling Rink. “It would bring the world’s attention to the region.”
Because the finding is still under investigation Helm would not say where the footprints were found. He did say that the CNRL contacted him when they found the site. It is this kind of co-operation that had Helm praising the oil and gas industry and the Oil and Gas Commission for their help in preserving the sites.
“It has been incredible with the Oil and Gas sector approaching us and working with us,” said Helm.
New postal outlet announced
Canada Post announced its new 10th Street postal outlet.
The crown corporation was moving its downtown outlet just a block away from its current location at 10401, 10th Street. Construction had been ongoing since the summer.
“We’ll be opening a new facility with a new image,” said Neil Van Noortwyk, operations supervisor for Canada Post. “We’re driving towards getting with the times, so to speak.”
EnCana aiming for up to 200 wells
EnCana is aiming at drilling up to 200 wells in the area of its major land purchase near Dawson Creek, said Mike Graham, the president of Canadian Foothills and Frontier Region development for the Calgary-based oil company.
“We are out there drilling a little right now,” he said. “It is all going to be traditional deep basin drilling.”
EnCana was the major buyer of the $418 million oil and gas rights sales. The sale has been trumpeted by South Peace MLA Blair Lekstrom as meaning “billions of dollars for the region”.
Union members vote down deal with health authority
A tentative deal between the Northern Health Authority and unionized support staff that would have eliminated the contracting out of work in exchange for cut wages and other concessions was rejected by employees in the facilities sub-sector.
“It was a difficult vote for our members,” said Mike Old, communications director for the Hospital Employees’ union. Although 56 per cent voted in favour of the agreement it failed to gain the required support of two-thirds of the HEU’s locals affected. Despite the agreement’s failure to be ratified, Old believes that progress was made.
“I think it should send a clear message that we will work with the Northern Health Authority on alternatives to privatization,” he said.
Pouce church opens after renovation
The Pouce Coupe Community Church officially opened its door after an extensive 13-month renovation.
“I am very excited,” said Rev. John Klassen. ” We are hoping to fill the building several times a week.”
The building itself was first constructed by the British Columbia government in the early 1950’s to house drilling cores for the Department of Mines. The cedar structure has gone through many changes since then. In 1965 the structure was moved to its current location where it became an important centre for the Village of Pouce Coupe before the village office and library moved to new locations.
Teacher gets school in the recycling spirit
Dave McKeen of Parkdale Elementary School won the individual honour in the first annual Peace River Regional District environmental awards for his efforts in developing the Farmington school’s recycling program.
“It was a challenging decision to make but we are happy that we chose him,” said Sally Emory, program director for the waste reduction program.
Locals selected for assembly
Dawson Creek’s Max Malthus and Amanda Medley were chosen as two representatives to serve the 158-member group of ordinary citizens created to review B.C.’s electoral system in the coming year.
Malthus and Medley were randomly selected by Elections B.C. to serve on the Citizen’s Assembly on Electoral Reform. One man and one woman were chosen in each of the province’s 79 ridings to serve on the committee that will investigate proportional representation among other electoral reform issues.
“I am very excited,” said Medley, a part time school teacher and mother of two young children. “The whole thing is actually very surreal. I have never been involved with anything like this before but I think it is a neat opportunity.”
Sign bylaw concerns business
The interpretation of a city bylaw concerning portable signs left one local businessman scratching his head and asking for help.
“I went to council looking to see where it said that the signs have to be changed every 30 days,” said Bruce Endicott, manager of Busy Bee Signs and Graphics. “I mean signs might not be considered beautiful but what would happen if they weren’t there?”
Endicott was referring to Bylaw #3454 that was adopted by city council in January of 2002 in an attempt to limit the signage in the city. According to Endicott he received a call from the city telling him that certain signs would have to be removed after 30 days.
Health workers march in protest
Anger over the lack of funding for the northern British Columbia’s health care system hit the streets with a large march and protest outside South Peace MLA Blair Lekstrom’s office.
“Why should one union of the lowest paid people have to pay back the whole deficit?” asked Doris Gripich, the chair of the South Peace local Health Employees Union in the midst of approximately 100 people who marched from the Dawson Creek and District Hospital to the office on 10th Street.
“We have a lot of questions dealing with what is happening here in the South Peace and we want Lekstrom to bring our concerns to Victoria.”
Foremost among those concerns is the contracting out of work to private companies. The Northern Health Authority stated that it would consider privatizing some services in the wake of the failure of a proposed deal that would have cut wages and benefits to current employees in exchange for a no contracting promise.
Unity leader visits Mile Zero
An alternative to both big business and big union interests determining policy is what the B.C. Unity party insists it is offering provincial voters, said leader Chris Delaney who made a brief stop in Dawson Creek.
“We have a huge segment on the right and a huge segment on the left and they are always fighting each other,” he said adding that his party offers a centrist alternative.
“(This fight) has hurt our productivity and our business investment. The Liberals were supposed to change all that and two years into their mandate they have failed. We need to pull together.”
Delaney was on a province-wide tour trying to drum up some grass roots support before the next election scheduled for 2005.
Break-in bloodies church, food bank
St. Mark’s Anglican Church and food bank were the victim of a bloody break-in that resulted in the arrest of a local man.
A suspect entered the church after breaking the northwest window. It is suspected that a major injury was sustained in the attempt.
“There was a fair amount of blood at the scene,” said Sgt. Terry Wild of the Dawson Creek RCMP.
According to the RCMP, the suspect then broke down the door to the food bank and stole some frozen meat and dry goods that were later recovered in a back alley. Wild said that there was no indication in the file of drug or alcohol use in connection with the crime.
The break-in has had an impact on the services offered by the church.
“Everything has to be thrown out,” said Chris Broad, who works at the soup kitchen and the food bank. “He must have been bleeding profusely. There is blood everywhere.”
Major snowfall hits DC
The white stuff came down hard in what could be considered Dawson Creek’s first real snowfall of the season.
“There is a low pressure system centered over Winnipeg,” said Bill Miller, a weather service forecaster for Environment Canada in Whitehorse. “That has brought a cold front all the way up through the Peace Country,” he added.
The snow accumulation was expected to reach 25 centimetres.
Art gallery celebrates 20th anniversary
It was a night of celebration for the Dawson Creek Art Gallery.
An impressive crowd came together to mark the 20th anniversary of the current location of Dawson Creek’s own art enclave.
“I was hoping that this would be the result,” smiled Edna McPhail one of the driving forces behind relocating the museum to its current location inside a renovated grain elevator.
She recalled the moment the idea of relocating the elevator occurred to the Park Committee of which she was a member.
“We were just standing there looking at the skyline and we said ‘why don’t we just move the elevator?’” she said.
Local cattle prices on the rise
For the first time in a long time there was optimism in the local cattle industry.
“The cattle prices are up now,” said Art Patterson of Peace Country Livestock Auction Ltd. “It looks a lot better than I thought it would. Eighty days ago I didn’t think it was going to be this good.”
The Peace Country Livestock Auction held its second auction of the week Oct. 30 and sold 500 head of cattle. Two days earlier 2,200 head of cattle moved through the auction house. The prices held steady — comparable with 2002’s — throughout the auction, which attracted buyers across the Peace Country.
According to Patterson, the feeder prices had been steadily rising for three weeks. He attributed the increase to optimism surrounding the possibility of the U.S. border opening to Canadian meat.
This article is taken from the Peace River Block Daily News, Dawson Creek, with the permission of the publisher. The Daily News retains all rights relating to this material. The information in this article is intended solely for research or general interest purposes.