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Teaching our children to conserve wild spaces

The Hamilton Spectator
January 23, 2017

Empowering children on environmental issues entails more than just teaching them the basics of environmental conservation; it’s also about providing them with the opportunities to take action and to make a difference.

As Canada’s largest conservation organization by membership, Earth Rangers have been doing just that for over a decade. And when you empower children to take action on the environment, they can astonish you with their commitment, generosity and effectiveness.

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Viewpoint: Filling the knowledge gap on wetlands and carbon

Saskatoon Star Phoenix
October 1, 2016

Here’s a fact about wetlands that many Canadians may find surprising: According to Agriculture Canada, the peat in Canada’s wetlands stores almost 60 per cent of all the carbon stored in all the soils across the country.

Further, those 147 billion tonnes of carbon stored in Canadian wetlands are more than 700 times the annual CO2 emissions from all industrial activity in Canada.

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Line 5: Separating Fact from Fiction

Cheboygan Daily Tribune
April 22, 2016

As an engineer who once worked for the state pipeline safety agency in my region, I was trained to identify prospective threats in an oil and gas pipeline system. Through regular audits, my colleagues and I learned to tell the good pipeline operators from the bad. I’m proud to say my experience with Enbridge puts them squarely in the category of best operators with a deep commitment to safety.

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Opinion: Protecting the treasure that is Canada’s boreal forest: by Gregory C. Siekaniec


The Vancouver Sun
March 18, 2016


Canada’s boreal forest is a vast tract of land, stretching from British Columbia to Labrador, from Yukon to southern Ontario. This forest is so big that it’s hard to put its size into perspective. But think about this: three-quarters of all Canada’s forests and woodlands are in the boreal zone — that’s some 307 million hectares in total.

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Forestry opportunities useful for First Nations: by David Walkem

northern gateway

April 22, 2016 By David Walkem Certifying a forest to a sustainable forest management standard is an important way for managers to assure their markets and the general public of the sustainable forestry they practice on their lands. Read more

Fun fair provides small measure of relief for families facing uncertainty

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Fun fair provides small measure of relief for families facing uncertainty
Enbridge Blog, July 14th 2015 Read more

Young Estevan rider revs up horsepower for 2016 Saskatchewan Summer Games

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Young Estevan rider revs up horsepower for 2016 Saskatchewan Summer Games

Enbridge Blog, June 5th 2015 Read more

Opinion: B.C.’s LNG can cut global pollution


Opinion: B.C.’s LNG can cut global pollution

 China: Country’s switch from coal to natural gas would have a substantial impact on emissions

Written by Elizabeth and Richard Muller, for The Vancouver Sun, April 7, 2015 Read more

B.C. shouldn’t delay its liquefied natural gas plans


Opinion: B.C. shouldn’t delay its liquefied natural gas plans

Written by: Robert Deane for The Province, March 15th 2015 Read more

Op/ed: Putting Development in the Context of Recovery — Woodfibre LNG: by Dr. Robert Falls


During a lifetime of work on issues of energy, environment, and sustainability, I’ve come to realize that some of the old paradigms we take for granted, simply no longer apply.

For example, the notion that industry and environment are always at odds with each other is simply not true. There are cases of industrialized regions around the world, including here in BC, where the environment has improved over the past decades. These improvements have been fuelled by a variety of factors, including more rigorous environmental regulations, advancements in combustion engineering, as well as the development of highly efficient pollution abatement systems.

In the case of Howe Sound, a majestic body of water that I admire each morning over coffee, there is no question that since the decommissioning of old industrial sites such as the Woodfibre Pulp and Paper plant in 2006 and the Britannia mine in 1974, good things have begun to happen. Both operations had been impacting water and air quality since the early 1900s, but there is strong evidence that the tide has turned.

Dolphins, porpoises, orcas and humpback whales that were essentially gone from the Sound for many decades, have begun to return.

This recovery has led to renewed optimism about the future of the archipelago. It also poses a critical question for Howe Sound communities: Can a carefully planned industrial project actually catalyze and advance the recovery of the Sound – environmentally, socially and economically? In the case of the proposed Woodfibre LNG facility, there is a significant amount of evidence to suggest that at least with respect to the environment, it already has. And subject to rigorous government project approval and oversight, it can continue to do so before, during, and after construction.

Remediation and the issuing of a provincial certificate of compliance were conditions of the Woodfibre LNG land purchase from Western Forest Products. The certificate was recently issued only after soil was remediated, shoreline woodchips and sediment were dredged, asbestos was removed, and the disposal area was capped. All these actions represent significant improvements in environmental health, and local ecosystems are no doubt benefiting.

The company has stated it will continue with further cleanup. Plans for additional remediation call for the removal of approximately 3,000 creosote-coated piles from the waterfront in the project area, the creation of a “green zone” around Mill Creek, and the future closure of the on-site landfill. These represent further improvements to the local environment.

A similar remediation story can be told for Britannia. Industrial projects like those constructed over a hundred years ago, are long gone and never to return.

Clearly communities and industry can build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships. Beyond that, well-planned and strictly monitored infrastructure development, within a framework of recovery, can lead to environmental improvements, healthier communities and a stronger economy.

That’s the road to sustainability.

If the project proceeds, Woodfibre LNG expects to employ 650 people per year over the next two years during construction and at least 100 direct, full time staff, including environmental specialists, during the licensed 25 years of operations.

Estimated tax revenue for all three levels of government during the construction phase would hit $83.7 million, with $86.5 million per year in tax revenue flowing to all three levels of government over its 25-year life.

In a region where large industrial taxpayers have moved away and residents face progressively larger tax burdens, the tax revenues to be generated by this comparatively small LNG project are themselves anything but insignificant. More important, those 100 long-term jobs will support families with stable incomes for decades to come.

The Woodfibre LNG project presents an opportunity here. There is little doubt that the economic benefits that come with well-planned industry are needed in the area — but the opportunity is far greater than simple economics.

With proper stakeholder input, Woodfibre LNG can become a genuine showcase to demonstrate how industry can catalyze and support recovery and enhancement of the environment, the wellbeing of communities, and a strong local economy.

To the extent that the project proponents are willing to listen to the community and to environmental experts as to what’s appropriate and acceptable in terms of development, and to take real action to support the area’s continued recovery, they appear to be on the right track.

Dr. Robert Falls is a resource management scientist with an academic history in carbon sequestration and a business background in energy, environment, climate mitigation, and earth observation. He is an Adjunct Professor with UBC’s Forest Sciences Centre.