Letters to the Editor: November 25

Agricultural Land Commission changes; The natural gas option

ALC changes

Dear Reed Bailey;

I must say I left the ALC information meeting at Wasa feeling very frustrated and discouraged. Maybe you did too. Of course you were just “doing your job”, but your job seemed to be one of defending the indefensible.

It seemed no matter how many times the question was asked, how many people asked it, or how many different twists we gave it, we never got a logical answer – the question being: On what basis are all the small farmable parcels being excluded?

We were told it was because they were in a group of small parcels, or because it made the boundary crooked, which boiled down to you just wanted a new map with neat boundaries.

We were told the parcels could still be farmed and that they could still be subdivided. So what exactly is the purpose of the ALR? Apparently not just “to preserve agricultural land” (see below). More likely it is to “enable and accommodate farm use of agricultural land and uses compatible with agriculture.” However those uses may be defined by self-interested officials, politicians, businesses and developers, interests which are far removed from the basic idea of protecting land for food production, food sustainability and food security.

Exclusion of these lands will definitely facilitate subdivision for “development”, and it will definitely facilitate a tax grab by local governments.

As one speaker pointed out, there is no benefit to her from her land being excluded; the only change for her will be an increase in taxes.

Given that many of those present at the meeting are not even applying for exclusion, why are you proceeding with this project to exclude parcels on a wholesale basis?

Carol Latter, Kimberley

Natural Gas Option

In  September, the  Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM)  met for its annual AGM and  made an honourable attempt during their  convention to lobby the Energy Minister Bill Bennett  regarding the building time line for Site C.  The request was simple: to have the BC Utilities Commission examine the  need and cost for Site C before things get too far. This was not an unreasonable request under the circumstances.

For instance, the demand for electricity throughout North America has dropped dramatically as has the price per megawatt hour. This is in large part due to the use of natural gas powered turbines, which are remarkably cheap to build and maintain even in “green California. 52% of California’s electricity is produced by natural gas.

Energy Minister Bennett rejected the request outright. Perhaps there is a good reason on his part as well. Your hydro utility costs per kWh of energy are sky rocketing in comparison to other  natural gas run facilities, such as the Shepard Energy Centre in SW Calgary.

The natural gas powered Shepard facility is now up and running and will offer its best customers in Calgary the minimal pricing of 8 cents per kWh until 2020 !  Natural gas is hard and firm power for any utility  and not subject to a lack of wind or sun. It is cheap, the cleanest of any fossil fuel and readily available.

We, on the other hand, here in BC will be paying almost 8 cents per kWh on the first 710 kWh and then 12 cents on any additional kWh of energy after the initial 710.  (we have a two tier pricing regime whereas the natural gas powered Shepard remains on a single tier of 8 cents/kWh)

Here are the other fiscal factors for BC customers:

Price increase in 2016 – 4%

Price increase in 2017- 3.5 %

Price increase in 2018 – 3 %

Price increase in 2019 and 2020- to be determined

NO INCREASES for Shepard Energy Centre customers in Calgary until at least 2020.

If you are  a typical household of 4 people you may well be consuming an average of  about 2000 kWh/ month. Doing some simple math, by the end of 2020, you will have paid $2900 more than the same typical family in Calgary, using the Shepard Energy Centre’s natural gas powered system.

Perhaps it is time to ask our Energy Minister Bill Bennett  why he is so determined not to use the natural gas option when it comes to producing our electricity here at home? It is impossible for Site C to be price competitive with natural gas.   After all, that  $2900   could  still be in your pocket if the Liberal government were to look at the natural gas powered option for electricity in lieu of a taxpayer funded  Site C project.

Rick Koechl and Mike Kroecher, Charlie Lake, BC

Correction

A recent article entitled “Cranbrook Veteran’s Grave Finally Completed” (Townsman, Nov. 18), contained some errors. AC1 Gerald Ward Bradford would not be considered a veteran per se, but war dead, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Canadian Agency, who contacted the Townsman in this regard. Veterans survived the war — a war dead is someone who died during one of the World Wars. The article says that the Last Post Fund was involved — the CWGC Canadian Agency received the request to rectify the error on the war grave and researched it, produced the headstone, and had it installed all at its own cost.