Friday, February 27, 2009

Williams Lake Tribune
Citizen’s Assembly members discuss STV

* Citizen’s Assembly regroup for electoral reform

By Gaeil Farrar - Williams Lake Tribune

Published: February 26, 2009 8:00 AM

About 50 people turned out for a public meeting at City Hall Saturday to learn more about how the proposed BC Single Transferable Vote (BC-STV) system works.

In addition to voting for MLAs on May 12, British Columbians will also be asked whether they support replacing our current “first past the post” voting system with the proposed BC-STV voting system that allows voters to rank candidates in order of choice.

The BC-STV was recommended by the BC Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform, a randomly selected group of 160 individuals selected in 2004 to review B.C.’s provincial voting system.

After a year of research and public consultation the assembly recommended the BC-STV system that has been used successfully in Ireland (since 1922), Australia, and Malta.

The BC-STV narrowly missed being approved by B.C. residents in the 2005 election. A total of 58 per cent of the voters approved the change, just two per cent short of the 60 per cent required to pass.

Members of the original assembly on electoral reform are now hosting forums throughout the province to explain the BC-STV for the 2009 referendum.

The forum at City Hall Saturday was sponsored by the Williams Lake Chapter of the Council of Canadians and moderated by Barry Sale. Five members of the original citizens’ assembly on electoral reform were given a few minutes each to talk about how and why the BC-STV was chosen by the assembly to replace the current system.

Presentations were made by Bruce Mack, Anna Rankin, Bob Monk, and Arjun Singh.

Under the system, voters would rank candidates in order of preference. A candidate who meets the quota to be elected — determined by the number of voters and the number of candidates — has his or her extra votes transferred to voters’ second choice. The process continues until all MLAs in a riding are elected. Voters can choose among several candidates from the same party, and independents. The assembly feels that will force MLAs to offer better representation at home, and voters the chance to put the person before his or her party if they choose.

Proposed BC-STV ridings would be bigger, but local representation and the number of seats in the legislature would not change.

Come time for the question period it became clear that many people in the audience had problems understanding exactly how their votes would be counted. Several of the audience members also said that if they had problems figuring out the counting system after studying it in-depth it would be unlikely the average voter would understand and support it.

The panel encouraged the audience to check out, a pro-STV site to learn exactly how the votes are transferred and counted.

Individuals pointed out that many people don’t have Internet service and what is really needed is a written information sheet that will show people exactly how transferrable voting works.

Singh said they are working on such an information sheet that should be available soon. He added the BC-STV is a very reputable counting system that is used around the world.

Mack, who tried to explain the counting system using a flip chart, concurred that the principle of the system is the critical point to consider, not the mechanics of how the votes are counted.

Among other things the panel members said the BC-STV gives voters a more direct say in how MLAs are chosen and would result in a more cooperative, less confrontational form of government.

One section of the hand-out addressed the “Why Change?” question:

“We currently use a “first-past-the post” system where only the candidate representing the largest block of voters wins. Candidates from one party can sweep a whole region even if a majority of voters choose other parties. Smaller parties and independents are shut out entirely.

“Parties often win 60 per cent of the seats with 40 per cent of the votes. At best only half of voters get representation and because parties run head to head for each seat, elections are often negative and politics is centralized.”

Friday, February 13, 2009

Columbia River Revelstoke

This riding has seen few changes in the redistribution.

Norm MacDonald is the incumbent New Democrat, he won convincingly in 2005 with a bigger margin than would have been expected. Norm is a former mayor and councilor for Golden.

Mark McKee is the Liberal challenger. He is the former mayor of Revelstoke.

Wilf Hanni is running here for the BC Conservatives, but I do not see him making much difference in the result.

The Greens have not yet nominated anyone, but I expect them to take in around 10% of the vote.

The two main candidates split two of the regions of the riding almost evenly between them. It is the southern end of the riding that will be a big decider in the race. This includes the Invermere area and then down to Kimberley is about 60% of the population in the riding.

I am convinced that the riding is most likely to be held by the NDP again, but with a narrowed margin.

  • NDP - 6500
  • Liberals - 6000
  • Greens - 1200
  • Conservatives - 1200

This is a large enough margin that this riding should not come into play. The only thing that might make a difference is if more people choose to come and vote that stayed away in 2005, most of these people are nominally Liberal supporters.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games

I think that a town from BC should consider applying for the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games. Kamloops or Prince George would be perfect candidates. I think even Courtney - Comox Valley - Campbell River could apply. With 970 athletes and 580 officials, I think that even Smithers and the Bulkley valley could host the event.

The 2010 games should not be a one off in BC. Another world winter event sooner rather than later would be a good idea. The event would build on where are at.

Innsbruck is the host for the 2012 ones and it has a population of about 120 000, with a regional population of 270 000. The other finalist city, Kuopio in Finland, only has a population of 100 000.

Cariboo Chilcotin

This riding was previously Cariboo South. The changes are that the riding gets all of Williams Lake from Cariboo North but loses everything from 70 mile south.

The changes are not dramatic enough to make a major change to the 2005 outcomes. The results in 2005 were wafer thin for Charlie Wyse of the NDP. In 2005 he faced incumbent Liberal Walt Cobb, the former mayor of Williams Lake. Walt was not as popular as I had thought and his heart did not seem to be in the 2005 election.

This time around Charlie Wyse faces long time popular mayor of 100 Mile House Donna Barnett. She was mayor for 17 years. Donna has been one of the strongest voices for rural BC for many years and brings with her a loyal set of supporters from around BC. Walt Cobb is her campaign manager.

This rising is one that I am not going to able to predict at this time, all I will say is that the selection of Barnett effectively erases any incumbency bounce for Wyse. Will a lot of people that stayed home in 2005 come out and vote for the Liberals?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fresh Outlook Foundation

This is new foundation that has been created to build more sustainable communities in BC. I found about them through the monthly email that Brandon Hughes of the BC Rural Secretariat sends out.

They look to be undertaking the sort of work that many of the rural communities in BC need, though clearly they are not limited to rural BC. The highlights of 2007 have some very interesting presentations listed.


The Fresh Outlook Foundation is a non-profit that applies proven and practical community-based social marketing (CBSM) strategies in the development and delivery of programs that enable and encourage sustainable behaviors in people's home, workplaces, and recreational activities throughout British Columbia.

In keeping with CBSM principles, foundation programs target specific groups (e.g., local governments, community leaders, business people, shoppers, church congregations, service clubs, strata councils, recreational groups) with well-researched information and incentives relevant to each audience. Skilled and passionate facilitators deliver these innovative and interactive programs to build awareness, transform attitudes, encourage appropriate actions, and track resulting performance.

The foundation's inaugural target audience is local governments through a program called Building SustainAble Communities


To provoke a fresh outlook among British Columbians that inspires sustainable behaviors at home, work, and play.


The Fresh Outlook Foundation envisions a future in which all British Columbians engage in sustainable behaviors at home, work, and play. To that end, the foundation uses skilled and passionate volunteer facilitators armed with proven social marketing strategies to enable and encourage lasting behavior change that supports communities' social, cultural, environmental, and economic objectives..

Nechacko Lakes

This is a new riding in northern BC. In the past there were three ridings that focused on Prince George. In the latest redistribution this was reduced to two centred on Prince George and one rural riding to the west of the city.

Nechacko Lakes loses the western parts of Prince George but gains Burns Lake, Houston and the surronding areas. The riding has one of the lowest populations in BC with only 26,436 people in the 2006 census. This is 45.4% less than the provincial average.

The Liberal candidate is John Rustad who was elected as MLA for Prince George Omineca in 2005. No word on other candidates, not that it really matters, the NDP only won about one in eight polls in the area of this riding in 2005, most of those on reserve

This NDP does very well with the on the reserve polls in this riding, in 2005 five polls on reserves gave the NDP a 481 vote advantage over the Liberals.

The old Omineca riding covered much of this area and is one of the areas the NDP has never managed to win.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Highway 37 Electrification

I am glad to see the province is still working on moving this ahead. I would like to see plans come about to build the line through to the Yukon and Alaska.

The green power potential of hte Hwy 37 corridor is high, with the line in place it become possible to begin developing all manner of run of the river projects in the region and provide further green power to BC

Feb 02, 2009 14:19 ET

AME BC: Highway 37 Power Line Coalition Applauds Premier for Expressing his Intent to Seek Federal Infrastructure Funds to Support Northwest Transmission Line

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 2, 2009) - The Highway 37 Power Line Coalition today congratulated and thanked the Premier of British Columbia, the Honourable Gordon Campbell, for expressing his interest in seeking federal infrastructure funds toward the review of electrification of Highway 37. Speaking at the 26th annual AME BC Mineral Exploration Roundup conference, the Premier expanded on his earlier commitments to the development of electrical transmission in the province's northwest.

The Premier stated that potential federal government infrastructure funds could be directed to permitting and potential construction of a power line in northwest British Columbia along Highway 37, a region with excellent mineral development and power generation potential.

"The Premier has taken a visionary approach to Northwest BC electrification," said Initiatives Prince George President & CEO Tim McEwan. "By directing funds provided by the federal budget towards the electrification of Highway 37, the BC and federal governments would open up the development potential in the Northwest. We applaud Premier Campbell's willingness to leverage federal infrastructure funds to develop the power line."

In September 2008 Premier Gordon Campbell announced $10 million for engineering, environmental assessment and Aboriginal consultation for a power line from Terrace to Bob Quinn, a corridor surrounded by extraordinary mining and power generation potential. The Highway 37 coalition has since been working with First Nations and government and its agencies to extend the project review to Dease Lake.

"The Tahltan Nation supports responsible developments based on recognition of Tahltan Aboriginal rights and title and that provide for shared decision-making as well as revenue and benefit sharing," says Annita McPhee, Chair of the Tahltan Central Council. "We look forward to studying and assessing this project."

"We're pleased that the Premier is committed to making this important infrastructure project a priority, thereby realizing the vast economic potential it would stimulate in exploration and development," said Gavin C. Dirom, President & CEO of the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AME BC).

"MABC's Report on the Electrification of Highway 37 shows there is potential for more than $15 billion in investment, almost 11,000 jobs and $300 million in annual government revenues. Clearly, it would be money well spent by both levels of government," added Pierre Gratton, President and CEO of the Mining Association of BC (MABC).

About the Highway 37 Power Line Coalition: The coalition represents communities, the Northern Development Initiative Trust, non-profit organizations, mineral exploration and mining companies, independent power producers, joint venture First Nations companies and individuals committed to the construction of a high voltage transmission line from Terrace to Dease Lake, British Columbia, and perhaps beyond. The coalition is committed to sustainable economic development in Northwestern British Columbia and believes electrical infrastructure is the key to the future of British Columbia's Northwest.

About AME BC: AME BC represents more than 5,000 members including geoscientists, prospectors, engineers, entrepreneurs, exploration companies, suppliers, mineral producers, and associations who are engaged in mineral exploration in BC and throughout the world. Through leadership, partnerships, and advocacy, AME BC promotes a healthy environment and business climate for the mineral exploration industry. AME BC is the predominant voice of mineral exploration in British Columbia.

About MABC: MABC represents companies involved in the exploration and development, mining and smelting of minerals, metals, coal and industrial minerals in British Columbia. It is regarded as the predominant voice of mining in the province.

About Initiatives Prince George: Initiatives Prince George (IPG) is the economic development authority for Prince George and Region, and has as one of its strategic priorities the development of a vibrant mining industry in Northern British Columbia. IPG is a non-profit corporation owned by the City of Prince George. Originally incorporated in 1983, IPG aims to undertake programs and projects designed to grow and diversify the local economy. IPG integrates investment attraction, trade development, tourism promotion, events and film for Prince George. IPG also takes a proactive role in assisting the completion of major business contracts that have strategic value for the Prince George community and British Columbia's north.

About the Northern Development Initiative Trust: Northern Development is an independent regional economic development corporation focused on stimulating economic diversification and job creation in central and northern British Columbia, a region that is strategically located, and offers a resource-rich economy with many competitive advantages and incentives for business. As the leading economic development agency in the region, Northern Development will be the catalyst to inject $2 billion every decade into communities within the region to realize their economic potential. The corporation supports community economic development initiatives with funding for economic diversification infrastructure, feasibility studies, marketing, capacity building, grant writing, community halls, recreational facilities, and community foundations.

For more information, please contact

Jonathan Buchanan
Manager, Communications
(604) 630-3923


This is a press release from last week. Thw work is done at the Smithers Airport. There are about six inbound flights per day to Smithers at the moment.

This lengthening means the runway is longer than the one in Victoria though not longer than the proposed lengthening at Victoria. Not quite long enough for most larger scale jets

This means that Smithers could put a lot more effort into the development of Hudson Bay Mountain as a ski destination. Smithers is a very good location for a ski resort with high quality snow and a long season. The other interior ski resorts - Sun Peaks in Kamloops, Revelstoke Mountain, Kicking Horse in Golden and more have problems with access to a good airport nearby. The Simthers Aiport is a few short kilometres from the ski hill.

Long term this could mean Smithers and the Bulkley Valley will emerge as a new major tourism region for Canada. The airport can not get flights coming from up to 5000 km away and makes any location in the continental US within range. Hawaii and Mexico are also in range.

SMITHERS – Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Kevin Falcon, Smithers Mayor Cress Farrow and other dignitaries officially opened the extended runway at Smithers Regional Airport today, improving the airport’s ability to serve industry and residents in the Bulkley Valley.

“The Town of Smithers recognized the need for improvements to the airport, and the Province and other partners supported its vision,” said Falcon. “These upgrades to Smithers Regional Airport are important to expanding both tourism and mining opportunities in the Bulkley Valley.”

“These airport improvements help ensure Smithers has the up-to-date infrastructure necessary to support the mining industry’s heavy investment in the region,” said Smithers Mayor Cress Farrow. “The runway extension at the airport also opens the door to future jet service for Smithers.”

The runway at Smithers Regional Airport has been extended from 5,000 ft. to 7,500 ft. The project also includes relocation of the Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) and the Omni-Directional Approach Lighting System (ODALS), as well as relocating the runway end lights and adding new end lights for the extension.

The runway extension project cost $5.46 million. B.C. and Canada jointly contributed $2 million through the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund. The Province provided an additional $1.4 million toward the project through its Transportation Partnership Program. The Northern Development Initiative Trust provided $1.36 million, and $699,000 came from the Smithers Regional Airport.

$147 million has been invested in more than 100 communities in B.C. through the Canada-B.C. Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund. Through the Transportation Partnerships Program, established in 2003, the Province has invested over $30 million, with current commitments for an additional $8 million, in improvements at 33 airports across British Columbia.




Jeff Knight

Public Affairs Bureau

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

250 356-7707

For more information on government services or to subscribe to the Province’s news feeds using RSS, visit the Province’s website at

Months of No Posting

I have been almost incapable of thinking about how things are in rural BC because of the magnitude of the problem. Just today I read that lumber prices are down to $130 per thousand board feet. This price is beyond belief, I can not even imagine it. I can not see how anyone can continue cutting wood at those prices.

BC normally harvests about 80 000 000 cubic metres of timber a year. The raw economic value of this wood to BC is about $24 000 000 000 at the first processing. That is about 20% of our economic activity in BC. This could all be missing in 2009.

MLA Bob Simpson is blogging about forestry and politics.