August 25, 2014 BC Chamber Public Affairs Update

Public Affairs Update Header
August 25, 2014
In This Issue
Port Metro Vancouver approves coal-export facility at Fraser Surrey Docks
Province announces external review process for Mount Polley spill
The Public Affairs Update is your weekly insight, perspective and analysis on politics in British Columbia and Canada.  This newsletter is brought to you by the largest, and most broadly-based business organization in the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the Voice of Business in B.C.

Port Metro Vancouver approves coal-export facility at Fraser Surrey Docks
Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) has approved a $15 million coal loading facility at Fraser Surrey Docks, granting a permit to add a coal shipping facility to its existing terminal and adding approximately four million tonnes of thermal coal export annually. The proposed facility will transfer thermal coal arriving on rail cars from the U.S. Midwest onto barges, which would ship the coal to Texada Island for loading onto large cargo vessels for export. The potential for further expansion of the facility to transfer up to eight million tonnes of coal exists, with another, future review.The BC Chamber has welcomed the announcement.

“We support both the rigorous process that was undertaken to assess this proposal, and the decision to approve the project, which will create 50 direct and indirect local jobs plus increase B.C.’s coal-export capacity,” said John Winter, BC Chamber president and CEO.

PMV has included several conditions for Fraser Surrey Docks to meet with respect to unloading coal to reduce the ecological and health impacts of coal dust. However, the permit does not specifically require Fraser Surrey Docks to comply with air-emission requirements of the Metro Vancouver regional district.

PMV’s granting of the permit to Fraser Surrey Docks comes amidst environmental and health concerns from local municipalities, environmental groups and residents largely related to concerns about greenhouse gas emission from coal burning, along with potential local health effects from coal dust and train emissions. Last September, PMV ordered Fraser Surrey Docks to assess the health and ecological effects of its coal-handling facility in response to these concerns. The assessment, released last November, found that the project would “not likely cause significant adverse effects to the environment or human health.” The assessment was criticized by the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Valley health authorities’ chief medical health officers as being inadequate.

 

Province announces external review process for Mount Polley spill
Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett announced two separate independent reviews that will assess the Mount Polley Spill.In the first, three independent experts will investigate the failure of the dam. This will be completed and submitted to the government and Soda Creek and Williams Lake First Nations by January 31, 2015. In the second, all mines in B.C. that have tailings dams will be reviewed by independent experts.

The B.C. government is suspending the environmental assessment for another mining project – the proposed Morrison copper and gold mine – until the review processes are complete.

Tourism, hospitality sectors launch TFW survey for businesses
Do you use temporary foreign workers?  What do the changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TWFP) mean for your business?B.C.’s tourism and hospitality industry is poised for growth with more than 101,000 job openings by 2020.  With increasing competition and changing demographics, there will not be enough supply to meet this demand.  In the past, the TFWP has been a useful program for employers to find staff when qualified Canadians were not available.

To help assess the impact of the recent changes to the TFWP and to provide feedback to government, a survey has been created to capture information about how B.C. businesses will be affected by these changes. The survey is being implemented as a collaborative effort amongst major tourism and hospitality sector associations.

Please complete this 10-15 minute survey to provide input on how your business uses temporary foreign workers and the challenges that you expect as a result of the changes to the program.

 
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This weekly report produced for the BC Chamber of Commerce by Fleishman-Hillard.  While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information included in this publication as of the date of issue, events and government policies are subject to frequent change.  Therefore, the BC Chamber of Commerce and Fleishman-Hillard cannot assume any responsibility for actions taken solely or principally on the basis on the information contained herein.

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