Comox Cannabis Innovation Centre  construction underway

Comox Cannabis Innovation Centre construction underway

Looking at the 21,000 square foot greenhouse site, with pre-fabricated walls on the left  /  George Le Masurier photo

By George Le Masurier

There hasn’t been a lot of activity over the winter at the seven-acre Cannabis Innovation Centre construction site these days, but it’s about to get busy. Real busy.

The prefabricated greenhouses have arrived from the Netherlands that will span over 21,000 square feet, along with a crew of Dutch workers. After a few days of safety training, the workers will begin installation.

Walls are already going up for the 10,500 square foot office building and laboratories, which was also prefabricated. Employees of Island Timber Frames, of Cumberland, are helping in this specialized type of construction.

The office building components arrived in packages, with each piece individually marked with a code for where it fits into the complex erection process. The parts were packaged to be taken out and installed in a specific order.

Heidi Nesbitt, the lead architect on the project from the Vancouver firm Local Practice, told Decafnation on site today that there is a digital database with the code for each individual piece and all its particular specifications.

Some of the large beams have ends pre-cut at multiple angles that will only fit in a single location.

Nesbitt and Project Coordinator Nick Page toured the site Tuesday morning. Page is the twin brother of Dr. Jon Page, who founded Anandia Labs and was the first scientist to sequence the cannabis genome. The Page brothers were born and raised in the Comox Valley.

Due in part to the unique requirements for preventing cross-contamination among the seven isolated sections of the greenhouse, there is a complex web of electrical, water and other utilities weaving through foundation.

Page and Nesbitt joked they hoped it all is accurately positioned.

At the same time as the building construction, other crews are creating an infiltration gallery and detention pond to control rainwater falling on the property.

Page said the piece of the property used for the infiltration gallery was given to the Town of Comox, but the CIC will pay for its ongoing maintenance.

The current $20 million project is the first phase of construction on the site. Future phases will expand both the greenhouses and the labs.

The new 31,500 square-foot phase-one facility in Comox will do all of Anandia’s breeding and genetics, and provide feed stocks for more medical strains of cannabis exclusively for Aurora.

The centre will focus on disease resistance and preventing mould, powdery mildew and other diseases and pathogens common in commercial cannabis cultivation.

 

 

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The Week: North Island health care privatization marches on

The Week: North Island health care privatization marches on

What would Mr. Ed have to say about these things?  |  George Le Masurier photo

By George Le Masurier

Good Morning. Whether you woke up in one of the worst cities for business and dangerous for crime … supposedly (Courtenay), one of the worst for recognizing heritage (Comox, for sure) or the only community that has banned plastic bags (Cumberland), it’s looks like another great day to live in the Comox Valley.

But first, let’s praise the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital Board for finally standing up to Island Health’s steady march toward privatization of health care.

Stop health care privatization

Decafnation has documented the folly of public private partnerships (known as P3s) in health care by the problems that policy has caused at the Comox Valley Hospital. But Island Health loves to hand over essential health care services to private contractors, and this time they’re aiming at the North Island’s last remaining pathology laboratory.

Island Health wants to close down clinical pathology services at the Campbell River Hospital and outsource them to a private corporation in Victoria. Clinical pathology services at the Comox Valley Hospital will continue into next year, but only as part of an agreement when St. Joe’s Hospital closed. There is no guarantee Island Health won’t try to close them when the agreement terminates.

The real story goes back to the formation of the Victoria pathologists’ corporation (VICPCC). Prior to that, all Island Health pathologists were employees (a few may have incorporated as separate individuals).

Some Victoria-based pathologists own this corporation together, and many of the rest of the island pathologists (except Campbell River, for now) are partially or fully employed or contracted by the corporation.

Information about the corporation and details of its contract with Island Health are not readily available. A Campbell River reporter tried to get this information, but Island Health abruptly cancelled a scheduled interview and has stonewalled him ever since.

Our sources estimate that VICPCC’s contract with Island Health would probably be worth nearly $10 million per year.

It isn’t right that such a huge amount of public health care money is going to such an opaque entity that apparently decides where and how to deliver services to north Island residents.

When it comes to health care services, non-Victoria areas always seem to lose out in favour of centralization to the capital city. Island Health usually claims this provides “higher quality” services, but they never share any evidence to support that assertion.

Courtenay business woes?

The politically conservative Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses looked through some data at its Toronto headquarters and decided the City of Courtenay is bad for business.

No one visited Courtenay, talked to any business owners or elected officials or business organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce. They used data.

This is not unlike how Maclean’s magazine decided last year that Courtenay was one of the most dangerous places to live in Canada.

These data-based surveys are baloney. They’re designed as marketing devices to boost subscriptions or memberships in an organization. Naive local media pick them up because it’s a spoon-fed story.

People should stop reading them, writing about them and giving them any attention.

Heritage interference by AG?

Has there been some hanky-panky going on at the BC Attorney General’s office about the Mack Laing Trust?

When some Shakesides supporters started investigating a pathway to heritage designation that doesn’t require any input from the local government, apparently alarms bells went off at the BC Attorney General’s office. The AG has supported the town’s petition to demolish the house.

And that caused a high-ranking Heritage Branch official to say he could not give information to the local citizens because the AG’s office had allegedly told the branch not to discuss Mack Laing with anybody. In other words, a gag order.

This sounds clearly like a backdoor attempt to thwart a legitimate citizen initiative. Obviously, the AG doesn’t want Shakesides to get a heritage designation because that could help sink their leaky argument to tear the building down.

But how is it ethical for the Attorney General’s office, which is supposed to defend public trusts, to pressure another BC government branch into deny a citizen’s access to information?

Earth Day v. Plastic Bags

We’re celebrating Earth Day on April 22 this year, which would be a great time for Courtenay and Comox to announce that they are following Cumberland’s lead and ban single-use plastic bags.

 

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The Week: bizarre backstory; great news on sewage planning

Good morning. We’re writing about the tragic backstory of a water valve, the state of happiness in Comox, new (and thankfully) long-term sewerage plans and the strength of women like Jody Wilson-Raybould speaking truth to power

Hear Jane Philpott interview on CBC radio

Hear Jane Philpott interview on CBC radio

FromWikipedia

By George Le Masurier

Jane Philpott, who was expelled from the federal Liberal Paty caucus this week, along with Jody Wilson-Raybould, spoke about the affair on CBC Radio this Morning. Asked by Anna Maria Tremonti on The Current why she chose to sacrifice her political career over this issue, Philpott said this:

“I chose the truth. I chose to act on principles that are so important to the future of our country. That’s more important than my political career. I got into politics to improve people’s lives, to be the very best member of parliament for Markham-Stouffville that I could possibly be, to stand up for truth to represent what I heard from my constituents. If that means that — in some way — I’ve been taken out of opportunities that I had before, it makes me very sad. I loved the work that I was able to do, but I have to be able to speak to my children and my mother and my husband and say I did the right thing. And to my constituents and say I did the right thing.”

You can read excerpts and hear the full interview here.

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CVRD implements stage 4 water restrictions for emergency fix

CVRD implements stage 4 water restrictions for emergency fix

By George Le Masurier

Directors of the Comox Valley Regional District Water Committee implemented Stage 4 water restrictions as of April 12. The restrictions will remain in place during an emergency repair of the CVRD’s main water transmission pipe from April 12 to 22.

In order to maintain sufficient water flows for domestic and firefighting water needs, Stage 4 restrictions prohibit all use of water for any purpose other than drinking, food preparation and personal hygiene.

The CVRD will begin a public outreach and education campaign this week.

The CVRD bulletin says compliance with these restrictions is important. “Non-compliance will make demands on the pipe untenable and the system may not be able to supply the water needed for indoor and firefighting use. If water use extends beyond the system’s capacity, a “do not use” order would need to be issued for the duration of the repairs”

To report water restriction infractions, please contact:

City of Courtenay
Tel: 250-334-4441
CVRD or Town of Comox
Tel: 250-334-6006

For more information about Stage 4 please visit: www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/restrictions

 

STAGE 4 WATER RESTRICTIONS

During stage 4 water restrictions, all use of water for any purpose other than drinking, food preparation and personal hygiene is strictly prohibited.

Prohibited uses include:
-Watering lawns, gardens, plants and trees in any manner or by any means, including watering by hand
-Filling or topping off or operating residential or commercial pools, hot tubs, ponds or fountains
-Operating local government outdoor water parks and pools
-Washing vehicles, boats or outdoor surfaces
-Irrigating golf courses and other public and/or school district property
-Where reasonably possible, swimming pools, hot tubs, fountains and ponds should be drained for health and safety purposes and such water used for irrigation.
-No new lawn permit shall be issued during Stage 4, and no new lawn permit, whenever issued, shall be valid during Stage 4.

Exceptions to Stage 4 Restrictions:
-Spot cleaning of vehicles and boats with a sponge and bucket for health and safety reasons (windows, lights, license plates, etc.) is permitted.
-Local government watermain and hydrant maintenance is permitted, but only for unscheduled safety or public health reasons.
-Irrigating local government all-weather playing fields is permitted.
-Water use is permitted for farm and agricultural operations, but only for livestock drinking purposes.
-Cleaning outdoor surfaces is only authorized when required by law to comply with health or safety regulations, or to comply with an order of a regulatory authority having jurisdiction, such as WorkSafeBC or a public health inspector.
-Water use is permitted for firefighting.

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Five anti-fracking activists speak at CV forum

Five anti-fracking activists speak at CV forum

Forum speakers, from left, Bernadette Wyton, Keith Wyton, Michael Sawyer, Damien Gillis, and Richard Wright  /  Pat Carl Photo

By Pat Carl

This article was updated April 3 to adjust the audience size.

The environmental and cultural dangers posed by LNG, fracking, and gas pipelines and the direct effect they may soon have on the Salish Sea, the Comox Valley, and Barkley Sound were discussed at a recent public forum at the Florence Filberg Centre. About 250 people heard the dire warnings from five anti-fracking activists.

The Watershed Sentinel magazine, the Council of Canadians, and the Glasswaters Foundation co-sponsored the forum.

Damien Gillis, a journalist and the director/producer of the award-winning documentary, Fractured Land, described fracking’s by-products, including methane, as more environmentally damaging than CO2 when LNG’s full life cycle is taken in account. LNG is worse than coal “cradle to grave,” said Gillis, who also said that economically LNG is “hanging on by a thread” with the help of the provincial government’s tax subsidies.

Following Gillis, Michael Sawyer, a self-described lone-wolf lawyer, described how he appealed the National Energy Board’s decision that opened the way for the Prince Rupert LNG pipeline. His appeal hinged on the fact that the Prince Rupert pipeline attached to a significant section of federal pipeline, which brought the pipeline’s ultimate approval under federal, not provincial, jurisdiction.

Despite the limits of both provincial and federal environmental guidelines, federal guidelines are more rigorous than provincial. Although Sawyer’s appeal of the Prince Rupert LNG pipeline occurred in 1998, it provides the framework for his current appeal to the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Third on the forum’s agenda was Richard Wright, a spokesperson for hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan Nation. Following the direction of hereditary chiefs in the Luutkudziiwus Territory, Wright and other band members closed their territory to LNG development by constructing Madii Lii, a camp that establishes the Nation’s control over their territory.

Part of the tactics used by provincial and federal governments is to ignore the hereditary chief system, a system of oversight in place for thousands of years, and, instead, seek permission for industrial development, such as LNG, from those not in a position to give it. This pits band members against band members. The Gitxsan Nation is also collaborating with the Wet’suwet’in in that band’s struggle with LNG.

The team of Bernadette and Keith Wyton, members of the Barkley Sound Alliance, provided background on the proposed Kwispaa site at Sarita Bay in the Port Alberni Inlet which is the endpoint of the gas pipeline which begins in Northern BC. Even though the Kwispaa project is currently on pause, the Wytons warned the project, in the future, may raise its ugly head under new management.

Negative environmental impacts of the project include the destruction of fish, fish habitats, marine vegetation, and the compromising of critical killer whale habitat, as well as gas flaring, light and noise pollution. These environmental impacts are compounded by traumatic social blowbacks, such as the construction of 2,000-bed man-camps along the pipeline route, which have been linked to spikes in local crime, such as violence against women, and drug and alcohol abuse.

A question period followed the individual presentations during which audience members were reminded that LNG gas is not extracted for the use of BC residents, but is intended strictly for export. Looking ahead, the current profitable LNG market in China may not even exist in a very few years as China extracts its own fracked gas.

Additionally, fracked gas wells have a shelf life of approximately three years, which means that many more wells will be drilled in Northern BC to meet export demands and many wells will be orphaned without remediation required of LNG.

Pat Carl lives in Comox and contributes to the Comox Valley Civic Journalism Project.

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More Environment | News

Three new sewage conveyance routes short-listed for study by joint advisory committee

Less than a year after the Comox-Courtenay Sewer Commission abandoned its patchwork plan to prevent leakage from large pipes that run through the K’omoks estuary and along Point Holmes beaches, a new, comprehensive Liquid Waste Management Plan is emerging that considers climate change and moves the entire conveyance system onto an overland route.

Hear Jane Philpott interview on CBC radio

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Decision time looming for North Island Green Party

Decision time looming for North Island Green Party

From left, Blair Cusack and Mark de Bruijn  /  Pat Carl photo

By Pat Carl

North Island-Powell River (NIPR) Greens, Voters-all: The time has come. Drum roll, please.

On March 10, between the hours of 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., Greens will file into the party’s nomination meetings to cast their votes for the candidate who will represent the NIPR riding in the 2019 federal election to be held some time in October.

Greens can attend the meeting either in the Powell River Public Library located at 100 – 6975 Alberni Street in Powell River or in the Black Creek Community Centre located at 2001 Black Creek Road in Black Creek.

Yes, through the miracle of modern technology, voting for the GPC NIPR riding candidate will be conducted simultaneously from two different locations as befits a riding that encompasses nearly 58,000 square kilometres. Greens have their fingers crossed that electronic wizardry is sufficient enough to pull this off without a hitch.

While non-Green observers are welcome, voters will need to verify their Green Party membership, snap up a ballot, and check the name of their preferred candidate.

If your GPC membership has expired within the last 12 months and you have the exorbitant $10.00 membership fee in one of your pockets or buried deep in your purse and you’re willing to part with such a lavish sum, then you can vote. Such an opportunity. Let your voice be heard.

And, here, direct from attending three separate meet-and-greets, are the two candidates:

Blair Cusack believes environmental half-measures are no longer feasible. “There was a time when it was possible for me and you to do green things and help our community on the one hand, but, on the other hand, vote for a party that appealed to other aspects of what we wanted or what we believed in. Those times are past.” Read more about Blair.

Mark de Bruijn believes the environmental and social issues affecting the NIPR riding are growing. “I want to work with the many concerned, motivated and inspired people in our communities to find fresh and innovative solutions to these challenges. It is work we can do together; everyone can play a part.” Read more about Mark.

Unlike other parties, GPC has opened its doors at three meet-and greets and allowed party members and the general public to observe, question, and provide feedback to the two candidates. And here’s a shocker: Although only one of the fine candidates can win the nomination, they have both pledged to actively work on the campaign of whichever candidate is chosen to run in the election.

Following the decision made by Greens at the nomination meeting, the Campaign Launch is set for March 23 with time and location to be announced. Joining the launch will be NIPR’s special guest, Green Party MP Elizabeth May. Watch the NIPR Facebook page and website for more information as it becomes available.

Pat Carl lives in Comox and contributes to the Comox Valley Civic Journalism Project

 

More News | Politics

Three new sewage conveyance routes short-listed for study by joint advisory committee

Less than a year after the Comox-Courtenay Sewer Commission abandoned its patchwork plan to prevent leakage from large pipes that run through the K’omoks estuary and along Point Holmes beaches, a new, comprehensive Liquid Waste Management Plan is emerging that considers climate change and moves the entire conveyance system onto an overland route.

Hear Jane Philpott interview on CBC radio

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