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November 18, 2016
People in South Delta are by now all too familiar with the commercial and industrial development that is encroaching on our community. It has become a fact of life and is unfortunately putting extraordinary pressure not only on agriculture, but also on environmentally sensitive areas.

The Port of Vancouver's Terminal 2 project (T2), at Deltaport, represents yet another chapter in this ongoing saga.

Recently, my office submitted 35 pages of comments on the port's Terminal 2 proposal to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) as part of the latest stage of environmental review. Essentially, the federal government is determining whether the thousands of pages of information and analysis, provided by the port, are "sufficient."

There are many significant shortcomings in the port's submission, but one critical gap is the lack of any review of T2's effects on agricultural land. Terminal 2 is inextricably linked to future development of agricultural lands, and pretending otherwise is ignoring reality.

 

The port says 2,500 acres of industrial land need to be developed to meet trade growth demands in the region, and a recent study for the port concluded T2 will increase demand for industrial land by up to 30 per cent.

 

We know, too, that the port has significant agricultural holdings in Richmond, and that there are $50 million of active options to purchase ALR land in Delta: the industrial developer's explicit intent is to build a truck and rail intermodal yard.

On top of this, BC Rail owns 159 acres of ALR land along Deltaport Way as part of its mandate to "acquire and hold railway corridor and strategic port lands."

 

So while the port is now saying - despite previous comments to the contrary - that new industrial land will not have to come at the expense of farmland, it is impossible to see any alternative. It is my strongly held opinion there must be an agricultural impact assessment of T2.

 

Perhaps the most important revelations of all are found in Environment and Climate Change Canada's (ECCC) extensive submission to CEAA. It warns that T2 could have significant "species-level consequences" on migratory birds such as the Western sandpiper, and that "there is insufficient, science-based information to support [the port's] finding that [T2] would not negatively impact migratory shorebirds." The department found "substantive issues, omissions, and uncertainties" in the port's environmental impact statement.

 

The ECCC observes that Roberts Bank is critically important habitat for migratory shorebirds that feed off the biofilm deposited over the mudflats. The rich mass of diatoms on the Fraser delta is essential fuel for their long journey from South America to Alaska.

 

The conditions at Roberts Bank are unique, and if the biofilm is compromised, there are no equivalent habitats along the Fraser River estuary to support these great migrations. And to that end, ECCC warns that T2 will bring "changes in biofilm, which would likely be immediate and irreversible."

 

That warning should give us all pause to consider what this project really represents to our community and to the world. To me it is clear: T2 puts too much at risk and should not go forward.

Op-Eds

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This op-ed was written as part of former independent MLA Vicki Huntington's regular MLA Report to constituents in South Delta and appeared in the Delta Optimist.
 
You can find samples of my writing below. If you are interested in discussing potential work opportunities or would like to see more, contact me.

                                                     

Position Papers

This is an excerpt from a position paper written as part of a funding proposal for APPLE Schools (Alberta Project Promoting active Living and healthy Eating).

We can choose to deal with increasing childhood obesity by building more hospitals to deal with diabetes, heart disease and kidney failure ... or we can move upstream and change the factors that are causing the increase in childhood obesity.

 

Dr. James Talbot, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health [ii]

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Every dollar invested in APPLE Schools saves the Alberta government $13 in future health care costs.

 

Dr. Paul Veuglers, School of Public Health, University of Alberta

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Speaker Profiles

This is a speaker profile created for Level Ground Trading co-founder Stacey Toews. It was used to promote his speaking engagements across Canada and the United States.
Who is Stacey Toews?

 

Stacey Toews is co-founder of Level Ground Trading, a Direct Fair Trade company based out of Victoria, British Columbia. For over a decade, Stacey has travelled across North America educating and engaging audiences about Fair Trade, sustainability and ethical consumer choices.

 

Stacey is a dynamic and inspiring speaker who is passionate about social justice. He has quickly become one of Fair Trade’s leading advocates, encouraging critical and independent thought about our everyday purchases and how they affect the people and communities that help make the products we buy.

 
Direct Fair Trade is about relationships

 

Since Level Ground’s beginnings in 1997, Stacey has helped pioneer the company’s Direct Fair Trade business model. Through direct relationships with producer groups, Level Ground maintains sustainable partnerships with long-term commitments to small-scale farmers in Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Tanzania and Ethiopia. The company offers a variety of products from coffee to cane sugar and tropical dried fruit. 

 

Level Ground Trading is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization and pays an average of 40 per cent above the market price for green coffee and 25 per cent above the Fair Trade minimum price. At least 65 per cent of this payment goes directly to farmers. Level Ground’s operations help support approximately 2,300 coffee farming families each year and fund vital services such as health care and education.

 

Sustainability, both locally and globally

 

For Toews, sustainability is based on how people relate to each other and the environment, both locally and globally. His experience with Direct Fair Trade in producer communities has shown that environmentally sound practices flourish when people can be assured their livelihoods are secure.

 

Stacey has helped Level Ground become an environmental leader at home. The company operates a certified organic, zero-waste facility that uses 13 different streams of recycling and compost. Customers can have their empty packages ‘upcycled’ into new products like wallets and shopping bags by a women’s group. Employees are also encouraged to use environmentally friendly modes of transport through green commute subsidies.

 

Understanding based on experience

 

Toews brings invaluable hands-on experience in promoting Fair Trade and sustainability, helping to establish Level Ground as a successful business among its peers. He has visited producer groups in developing countries, and negotiated with corporate boards on behalf of small-scale farmers.

 

Through practical examples and thoughtful questions, Stacey’s speaking events make clear the need for a more involved and holistic approach to ethical consumption.

 

If you are interested in hosting a speaking event contact Stacey@levelground.com.

I have written copy for advertisements, brochures and other promotional pieces. These posterboards were used for display at public events and tradeshows to highlight Level Ground Trading's focus on Direct Fair Trade, high quality products, and sustainable business.
 

Promotional Copy

April 4th 2016

 

Victoria, B.C. – Independent MLA Vicki Huntington introduced a bill in the legislature today to ban corporate and union donations from provincial and municipal politics. The legislation would also limit campaign contributions to $1,500 a year, and prohibit donations from individuals living outside the province.

 

“British Columbia is the Wild West of political finance rules,” Huntington said. “Parties and politicians can take donations from any organization, or individual, from anywhere in the world. There’s nothing stopping party leaders from flying to Kuala Lumpur or Toronto or Calgary to solicit donations for the party’s war chest,” she said. “The current rules encourage parties and candidates to pursue bigger and bigger donations, and if they don’t, they get left in the dust. The legislature needs to change the rules.”

 

Huntington has previously introduced legislation to tighten provincial donation rules. Corporate and union donations are currently banned federally and in the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec and Nova Scotia. The Ontario government will be moving in the same direction this spring.

 

“Taking big money out of politics puts democracy back in the hands of the people. The government needs to get on with it,” Huntington said. “A healthy democracy requires listening to the voices of all citizens, not just those who can afford $20,000 dinner parties. Until the government bans these donations, the public will remain skeptical that politicians are acting in the best interests of the people.”

Huntington is proposing a number of democratic reforms to be announced throughout the week. 

This news release was written at the start of a renewed debate in 2016 over B.C.'s political donation laws. It helped add to significant media coverage and public discussion.
You can read more context here.

News Releases

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Chapter Four

 

"If [Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell] goes down because of axe the tax, the repercussions are the carbon tax will be toxic for future politicians ... No politician will raise it. That's why environmentalists are so upset."

 

- David Suzuki, quoted in The Globe and Mail (Bailey, 2009)

 

"... if "Super, Natural British Columbia" - the birthplace of Greenpeace - can't add a few cents to a litre of gas ... then what hope is there that we privileged (spoiled?) industrialized nations will lead a charge to save the developing world from drought, starvation and inundation?"

 

- Tzeporah Berman, This Crazy Life: Living Our Environmental Challenge(Berman & Leiren-Young, 2011, p. 255)

 

In December, 2009, during the UN climate conference in Copenhagen, a coalition of 10 Canadian environmental organizations presented B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell with an 'Economy Wide Pricing' award to "recognize 'acts of climate leadership' by municipal and provincial governments across the country" (Kimmett, 2009b). The award was delivered to Campbell by renowned environmentalist Tzeporah Berman at a ceremonial gala, marked by a photo-op of the two unlikely allies shaking hands. Though it seems to have garnered little attention in mainstream print media, the event offers a valuable entry point into the symbolic politics of environmental discourse in the province and the coalitional dynamics constructed through the concepts of ecological modernization.

 

Despite the lack of press from larger news organizations, the award made a splash in independent and online publications, and helped raise the ire of a number of local B.C. environmentalists. The event itself fit snugly within a narrative of disconnect that had been building for some time within grassroots-circles in the province's environmental movement. Many of the groups presenting the Copenhagen award had not been active in B.C., and a number of other participating organizations had provoked a split in the environmental community eight months earlier with similar actions during the 2009 provincial election.

 

The refrain, not altogether unfamiliar to environmental movements elsewhere, centered around storylines that emphasized the corrupting power of institutional collaboration. It was argued that the more professionalized green groups and think tanks garnered prestige and legitimacy in the official corridors of power, while negotiating compromised policy that would ultimately fall short of what was needed. In the process they forfeited their accountability to a more critical and independent base within the green public sphere.

 

With such a loss of democratic control, the prominent groups represented a threat to the success of the movement and were themselves part of the machinery of power, complicit with the perpetrators of the ecological and climate crisis. The groups too often functioned as government 'validators', and their morally dubious media spectacles represented a 'greenwashing', which pitted superficial symbolism against substantive policy action. The Copenhagen event was largely seen as a public relations exercise, and a dangerous one at that.

...

Academic

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News Articles

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The Rising Costs of Obesity and Overweight

 

The increasing rates of obesity and overweight in Alberta put significant strain on the provincial health care system and decrease overall economic productivity. Chronic diseases associated with excess body weight are rising and include type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, and cancer. Over 60 per cent of adults in Alberta are now overweight or obese, costing the provincial government over $1.27-billion each year in direct and indirect costs.[i]

 

 

Obesity affects Albertans of all ages, but poses significant risks to children. Obese children are more likely to be obese as adults and risk developing associated illnesses. It is estimated that nearly one third of children in Alberta between the ages of 12 and 17 are overweight or obese.[iii] This has been shown to impact learning outcomes and overall quality of life. Physical activity and proper nutrition is positively correlated with higher academic performance, increased self-esteem, and a reduced rate of smoking and drug use.[iv]

 

 

 

Taking early action to prevent chronic diseases in children is widely recognized as the most cost-effective investment for a sustainable health care system. Without concerted action, today’s children risk developing obesity-related diseases earlier than their parents’ generation and spending more time in hospitals and care centers.

 

APPLE Schools: Investing in a Healthy Economy

 

The Alberta Project Promoting active Living and healthy Eating (APPLE Schools) is helping to reverse this trend. APPLE Schools is a unique evidence-based research project that has created measurable improvements in the healthy eating habits and active lifestyles of over 12,500 students in 44 Alberta schools over six years.

APPLE Schools use a model of health promotion known as Comprehensive School Health (CSH). CSH is an internationally recognized “best practice” that transforms the whole school community by involving students, teachers, parents and community members in the implementation of supportive health policies. Each school is assigned a trained School

 

Health Facilitator (SHF) to find creative and collaborative ways to integrate healthy activities throughout the school community.

 

Research has shown that APPLE students eat more fruits and vegetables, reduce their caloric intakes, increase their physical activity levels, and are nearly 40 per cent less likely to be obese than other students across Alberta. These improvements create substantial economic savings for the province. Analysis shows that for every dollar invested in APPLE Schools, the Alberta government saves $13 in future health care costs. The return on investment is even more impressive when the benefits from better academic performance, mental health and quality of life are considered.

 

Footnotes -

 

[i] Alberta Health Services (March, 2010). Childhood overweight and obesity: Summary of evidence from the Cost of Obesity in Alberta report.

[ii] Alberta Health (October 2, 2013). Alberta releases Strategic Approach to Wellness. Retrieved November 6, 2013 from www.health.alberta.ca/newsroom/news-2013-10-02-wellness-strategy.html.

[iii] Statistics Canada (2007). Measured Child Body Mass Index (BMI), by Age Group and Sex, Household Population Aged 2 to 17 Excluding Pregnant Females, Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 2.2, Canada and Provinces, Occasional. 2007; CANSIM Table 105-2002, 2007. Cited in Alberta Health Services (March, 2010). Childhood overweight and obesity: Summary of evidence from the Cost of Obesity in Alberta report (p. 14).

[iv] See Alberta Education (2006). Daily Physical Activity for Children and Youth: A Review and Synthesis of the Literature; Florence, M.D., Asbridge, M. & Veugelers, P. (April, 2008). Diet Quality and Academic Performance. Journal of School Health, 78(4); Tremblay, M.S., Wyatt Inman, J. & Douglas Willms, J. (2000). The Relationship Between Physical Activity, Self-Esteem, and Academic Achievement in 12-Year-Old Children. Pediatric Exercise Science, 12, 312-323; and Castelli, D.M., Hillman, C.H., Buck, S.M. & Erwin, H.E. (2007). Physical Fitness and Academic Achievement in Third- and Fifth-Grade Students. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 29, 239-252.

 

 

This article appeared in the April 2017 edition of the James Bay Beacon.

Everything is calm in James Bay as morning dawns. Thousands of people begin their daily rituals in the mundane rhythm of modern life: alarms ding, showers sputter, coffee grinders buzz.

 

Suddenly, disaster strikes.

 

Hundreds of kilometers away, a massive fault line off the coast of Vancouver Island ruptures like a gigantic zipper, unleashing enormous amounts of destructive energy across the region.

 

A magnitude-9 earthquake rips across Victoria. The ground shakes violently for two to three minutes, causing severe structural damage to thousands of buildings. Water and sewer systems collapse, as pipes burst in a fit of seismic power. Thousands of people are left without homes.

 

This is the ‘Big One’ – also known as a Cascadia subduction or megathrust earthquake – and it is just one scenario outlined in a new report commissioned by the City of Victoria on the seismic vulnerability of buildings and infrastructure, like water and sewage pipelines.

 

Lucinda Leonard, an assistant professor of geophysics at the University of Victoria’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences (SEOS), specializing in earthquake and tsunami hazard assessment, called the report a wake-up call.

“We cannot afford to ignore seismic risk,” she said. “It is really important that people take that onboard and really believe that this is something that is going to happen. The first step to being prepared is to really believe it will happen.”

The City’s report examined three types of earthquakes that could hit Victoria over the next 50 years to assess the combined level of risk facing the city. It found that 30 per cent of Victoria’s buildings – nearly 4,000 properties – have a more than five per cent chance of “complete damage” during that time frame. Complete damage means buildings will have either fully or partially collapsed following an earthquake, or will not be safe to enter and require demolition.  

 

When the authors looked at the possibility of a future megathrust event, they found a ten per cent chance of occurrence during that same 50-year period, the highest likelihood of any class of earthquake examined.

 

But according to both Leonard and her colleague Edwin Nissen, an associate professor at SEOS studying earthquakes and active tectonics, the latest scientific research puts that number even higher, at 15 per cent over 50 years.

“The science is changing fairly rapidly,” explained Nissen. “These great subduction earthquakes in Cascadia were only first recognized in 1987, so we’ve only known that they even exist for 30 years.”

 

Subduction earthquakes occur when one tectonic plate is pushed below another. Over hundreds of years, massive amounts of energy are built up and eventually released in the form of a megathrust event, the world’s largest class of earthquake.

 

The Cascadia Subduction Zone is located off Vancouver Island and extends more than 1,000 kilometers south to Northern California. The last subduction earthquake to hit Vancouver Island struck on Jan. 26, 1700. Exactly when and how strong the next will be is uncertain, but scientists have determined they occur on average every 450 years.

 

Despite this uncertainty, experts can assess how vulnerable a city may be given the likelihood of a future earthquake. The report presented to the City of Victoria outlined significant risks facing large portions of the existing building stock and other infrastructure.

 

In a subduction earthquake, the study predicted about 20 per cent of Victoria’s water pipelines would retain normal serviceability, while “sewer pipelines may be lost completely.” Nearly 40 per cent of all buildings could suffer either “extensive” or “complete” damage, meaning they would be “red-tagged” as too dangerous to enter.

 

James Bay is particularly vulnerable, in part due to underlying soils that can amplify the destructive force of an earthquake. In addition, much of the building stock in James Bay was built before 1972, when the National Building Code of Canada updated its seismic standards.

 

Buildings built prior to this time that have high seismic risk include unreinforced masonry of all heights; three- to four-storey wood apartment buildings; and mid- and high-rise apartments built on soft soil. Single-family wood homes constructed prior to 1960 are also vulnerable.

 

The consultants who wrote the report – VC Structural Dynamics – recommended the City refine its soil maps to identify high-risk areas, and carry out detailed assessments of at-risk buildings. They further advised the City to set up a Technical Advisory Board to develop and implement a seismic risk mitigation plan, and to replace vulnerable sections of the sewer system.

 

Professor Nissen said there is still research to be done to understand how local geology will affect the extent of damage. He said the consultant’s recommendations were a good start.

 

“You’re saving a lot of money in the long-run if you spend a little bit of money on these seismic hazard maps and then focus your subsequent efforts geographically and really target the places that are most at need,” he said.

 

City staff presented their own report to Council in February that recommended expanding the City’s Tax Incentive Program (TIP) to heritage buildings beyond the downtown core; examining the City’s authority to expand incentives to non-heritage structures; and looking at including seismic considerations in the City’s rental retention and revitalization study. The report did not include the recommendations from the consultant’s study.

 

Since 1999, TIP has incentivized 43 heritage building upgrades, with three new applicants each year, according to City staff. The seismic report presented to the City looked at more than 13,000 properties, and noted that about 80 per cent of those were built before 1972, making them vulnerable to damage in an earthquake.

 

Victoria Councillor Geoff Young told the Beacon renewing the city’s building stock will take time and involves complicated trade-offs.

 

“The reality is that it’s too big a problem to address all at once,” he said. “The building stock has been built up over a century or so, and as it gets renewed the issue is being addressed to a large degree, certainly in terms of seismic stability … but there’s no question that it’s going to take a long time to address all the problems.”

 

“One of the realities is that, as you have a lot of turnover in the building stock and intensification and higher density buildings, you get a natural renewal of the housing stock. So although people bemoan the loss of older buildings, the offsetting benefit is that we get safer buildings,” he added.

 

Young said he weighs these trade-offs before making judgments about heritage preservation at the council table. Affordability is an added concern, he said, when seismic retrofits of buildings lead to higher rents, or even ‘renovictions,’ for those living in older apartments.

Despite the scope of the issues facing the city and the region around earthquake preparedness, Professor Leonard maintains that Victorians need not despair.

“A lot of this might lead people to feel kind of hopeless [but] there’s a lot that people can actually do, even if it seems that there’s so much to be done and it takes so long to get the city really ready,” she said. “Even if a big earthquake were to happen tomorrow, you can work on your personal preparedness, in terms of knowing what to do during an earthquake. There are things you can do to secure the contents of your home because a lot of the time its things falling on people that will hurt them.”

To find more information on how to be prepared in an earthquake, visit www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/preparedbc/know-the-risks/earthquakes

Recent controversy over gay-straight alliances in Alberta schools has put lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) rights into the national spotlight.

 

Last week, the Alberta legislature voted down a non-binding motion calling on the government to introduce legislation that would require school boards to support gay-straight alliances (GSAs) when requested by students.

 

For Dr. Kristopher Wells, assistant professor of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Alberta, the stakes are high.

 

“Make no mistake: GSAs save lives,” says Wells. “GSAs are all about supporting the health and safety of students, helping them thrive in their school environment and live up to their potential.”

 

LGBTQ students are a particularly vulnerable population. They are over four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers and suffer from higher rates of negative coping mechanisms, like drug and alcohol abuse and absenteeism.

 

It’s a situation the leading medical journal The Lancet recently called a mental health crisis.

 

“We’re talking about a group that still to this day faces some of the most severe acts of discrimination, bullying and hate in this country,” Wells says.

 

Prof. Wells has been a prominent figure in the public controversy surrounding Motion 503 and says he often receives threats to his personal safety.

 

“When I speak out and I receive hate mail and death threats, I have the resources to be able to deal with that, as an adult,” says Wells.

 

“Imagine what it’s like as a fifteen year old to feel that sort of visceral hatred in a community without support or in a school where this is no GSA, where there’s no one to turn to,” he says. “This is why we’re fighting so hard to use our research to make change, because literally, kids lives are on the line.”

 

Wells says the research literature on the benefits of GSAs is clear. GSAs help counter negative experiences by reducing risk and building resiliency. Studies show that schools with GSAs create better outcomes for students compared to those without.

 

GSAs are similar to other school clubs. They are student-led, teacher-facilitated groups that focus on education and support around LGBTQ issues. They create safe spaces for all students to engage in peer-to-peer education through discussion groups, speaker series, or film screenings.

 

“GSAs promote a sense of inclusion, belonging, and connectedness with a peer group and school community, and we know that all of these factors are critical in a child’s academic success,” says Wells.

 

Public reaction to the defeat of Motion 503 has been strong, in part because it set a relatively low bar for the government to show its support of students who identify as LGBTQ. Ontario and Manitoba have both passed similar legislation mandating school boards support GSAs.

 

As it stands, students in Alberta can be denied the right to start a GSA at their school, and recent evidence suggests they are.

 

Opponents of Motion 503 argue that requiring school boards to support GSAs represents an overreach of provincial authority.

 

Some say requiring GSA policy infringes on religious freedoms. There are 40 Alberta schools with GSAs, all of which are in the public school system.

 

For Prof. Wells, there isn’t much to debate. The provincial government has a legal obligation to legislate on GSAs because sexual orientation is protected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

 

“We’re talking about publicly funded education that must be, by law, non-discriminatory,” says Wells.

 

“Fundamentally it doesn’t matter if a student is enrolled in a Catholic school, a public school, a private school, a charter school or a Francophone school. If that school is publicly funded, by law it has to provide a non-discriminatory environment on the basis of many factors, including sexual orientation.”

 

Prof. Wells is also a leading researcher and director of programs and services at the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services (iSMSS) at the U of A’s Faculty of Education. The institute is a resource for many LGBTQ youth and has helped push forward an inclusive research-informed policy agenda both provincially and nationally.

 

Work at iSMSS led the Alberta Teachers’ Association and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation to develop policies and resources in support of GSAs. In 2011, Prof. Wells supported the Edmonton Public School Board to become the first school board in Western Canada to pass a stand-alone sexual orientation and gender identity policy. Three years later, the number of GSAs in Edmonton has quadrupled, rising from five to over 20 student groups.

 

Wells and others at iSMSS are in frequent contact with provincial and federal governments, offering research expertise on policy issues affecting LGBTQ communities, but he remains hesitant to offer predictions on where the legislative agenda will go from here.

 

“We’re in the middle of what could arguably be considered one of the greatest human rights movements of our time,” he says.

 

“Our society is changing right before our very eyes, and sometimes when we’re in the midst of that change we can’t actually see its significance. It is our job as educators to support students to lead this change and stand up and speak out for human rights.”

Gay-Straight Alliances Save Lives
This article was written for the University of Alberta's Faculty of Education to profile work done by Dr. Kris Wells and the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies. It appeared in the online magazine, BEdition.
 

 

 

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News Articles

(cont.)
This article appeared in the May 2017 issue of the James Bay Beacon.

 

One of James Bay’s most beloved corner grocery stores has moved to a new location across from Fisherman’s Wharf. Niagara Grocery announced it would be moving into Imagine Studio Café at 31 Erie Street in late April. 

 

It marks a new chapter for the community-based grocery store, owned by Jennifer McKimmie and Ken Winchester, who purchased the business eight years ago. 

 

The news brought an outpouring of support from many in the community, both on social media and from those passing the newly closed storefront. 

 

For McKimmie, it has been a personal journey that has developed over time, as the store became a community gathering place. 

 

“We didn’t know that it was going to be a local food market hub when we first started. We had just moved to the community, so we grew with that and we became connected to people through the store,” she said. 

 

“We’ve seen people dating, becoming pregnant, and having babies that we’ve held who are now in school. We’ve been here long enough now that we really have seen people grow. We’ve grown and our children have grown. 

 

“This isn’t just a store. This isn’t just a community hub. This has been life-changing for us.”

 

Niagara Grocery’s new location will be inside Imagine Studio Café, a local venture that combines a creative studio space and café serving locally sourced food. McKimmie said the new partnership is a good fit. 

 

“We are like-minded and committed to good food and relationships with people, so it’s an exciting pairing. There are a lot of fun things that we’re looking to do, and so we’ll grow in a different direction,” she said.

 

The business will offer a similar selection of local and organic produce, farm-fresh eggs, starter plants and other products, and will continue its weekly veggie box program. 

 

As for the storefront at Niagara and Government, building owners Seamus McKeating and Jennifer Gunter plan to open a new store that maintains much of the same product line and community spirit nurtured by Niagara Grocery. 

 

Gunter explained that it was Niagara Grocery’s focus on local producers and community relationships that led the couple to purchase the property when it was in danger of being sold to a developer in 2015.

 

“I remember when we first came, I said to Seamus ‘I love that store. It has everything I want and nothing I don’t want.’ And that stuck in my head,” she said. “Jen (McKimmie) had done such a good job of sourcing all the different products, and that was the kind of food that we wanted to eat, too.”

 

McKeating and Gunter’s commitment to local producers has come, in part, from owning a small farm and restaurant near Kaslo, on the shores of Kootenay Lake. 

 

The couple said the new store will feature a renovated interior and expanded outdoor seating-area, with places to park both your bike and dog. They hope to open for business sometime in May.   

 

McKeating said he is excited that Niagara Grocery and Imagine Studio Café will expand the community-focused vision in that corner of James Bay. 

 

“I really feel like we need more of these little neighbourhood stores. They’re really good for people in a lot of ways,” he said. “It’s the way it always was until just a few generations ago when we started doing these big box stores.” 

 

As for McKimmie, she is thankful for the years of support from the neighbourhood and is looking forward to the new venture on Erie Street. 

 

“I’m a better person for having been part of this community and I’m proud to be part of their moment in time. I really look forward to being in another part of the community and growing new relationships and spreading the food love.”

Niagara Grocery moves near Fisherman’s Wharf, with new store to open soon
Second container port puts too much at risk
T2 would have a negative environmental impact
Independent MLA introduces bill to ban big money from B.C. politics

News Releases

This news release detailed the findings of original research conducted by the legislative office of independent MLA Vicki Huntington. The UK-based company later released new public details on its farmland purchases in B.C. and renewed commitments to ending its controversial offsets program.
October 1st 2015

Victoria, B.C. – Documents released today by Independent MLA Vicki Huntington revealed British-based manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser (RB Group) purchased ALR land after the company promised to put its controversial carbon offsets program on hold.

Land sales data obtained by Huntington’s office shows RB purchased an additional 794 acres of farmland located 50 kilometres west of Dawson Creek for $1-million on July 7, 2015, three weeks after the company announced its moratorium on new land purchases, and more than a month after it announced an internal review.

Huntington said the findings raise serious questions that both RB and the provincial government need to answer.

“The public needs to know if RB is continuing to buy B.C. farmland despite its promises, and whether the provincial government will do anything to step up and protect B.C. farmers and our productive farmland,” she said. “The Minister of Agriculture has consistently been wrong about this practice and the public deserves clear answers.”

Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick initially claimed only 1,500 hectares of ALR land was used for carbon offsets in the province, but later revised that number to 8,500 hectares. Earlier this year, it was revealed that RB had purchased over 10,500 hectares of B.C. land to plant trees for its carbon offset program.

The new purchases show RB bought a 794-acre grain and cattle farm after it had been on market for less than a year and a half. The company had previously claimed that it bought only marginally productive farmland that has been on the market for an average of three years.

“Hay producing land is not marginal. Nor is grazing land,” said Huntington. “If my office can find this information and track these sales, why can’t the provincial government? They have known about this program for nine years. They need to take action to protect farmland for future generations.”
 

UK-based firm bought B.C. farmland after announced moratorium, documents show

Speaker Profiles

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