Premier Christy Clark makes peace in the Peace

The Peace River just upstream of the proposed Site C dam site
The Peace River just upstream of the proposed Site C dam site

Plus, wheel cooperation on Vancouver city council and unexpected costs for Kinder Morgan’s pipeline

Province and Peace region reach fair share agreement 
B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes have announced a new Fair Share agreement under which the Peace region will receive more than $1.1 billion over the next 20 years. The mayors of Fort St. John and Taylor initially opposed the change but say the new agreement provides funding security and a degree of certainty. Fair Share originated in the 1990s to allow communities in the region to receive money from the oil and gas industry. The previous Fair Share agreement wasn’t due to expire until 2020, but the province wanted to renegotiate early due to falling oil and gas revenues. The new agreement includes annual payments that start at $50 million in 2016, increasing in 2020 to at least 2035. Signatories will receive an additional $3 million signing bonus on top of the $46 million already paid on April 30, 2015, under the previous agreement. Another $1 million will go to the Peace River Regional District to support the Partnership Committee.

What goes around 
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson’s Vision Vancouver party is known to be pro-bicycling. The opposition NPA, not so much. But now NPA Councillor George Affleck wants city staff to look into installing 1,000 new downtown parking spaces—for bicycles. Affleck’s motion says that given cycling’s sustainability and increasing popularity, plus a balance of $52.2 million in the city’s parking sites reserve, staff should report on options for secure locking and storage of bicycles, funding, areas of the city where bicycle parking is most in demand, opportunities such as shower facilities, repair centres and other cycling-related infrastructure plus possible partnerships with the City of Vancouver.

Who benefits?
Not the public, according to a new Simon Fraser University study commissioned by the Living Oceans Society for the National Energy Board hearings on Kinder Morgan’s proposed TransMountain pipeline expansion. According to the study, the pipeline expansion would cost Canadians more than $6.4 billion. The pipeline could financially benefit Kinder Morgan due to long-term contracts with shippers that were negotiated before the current downturn in oil markets, but new pipelines would draw oil away from existing pipelines creating excess pipeline capacity costing $3 billion, including costs to the taxpayer in the form of reduced royalties and taxes. And then there would be the environmental costs, conservatively estimated to be more than $3.4 billion. Overall, the study estimates that by 2020 the cost of unnecessary investment in pipeline projects could exceed $15 billion. Read the study here.