On August 27th, 2012 I submitted an Access to Information Request to the Port Alberni Port Authority. I received the response this week.
You can download the completed request here.
Not included in the download above but were in the response from PAPA are 3 reports that are already public and already on this website along with all other road related plans. They are:
June 2013 Horne Lake Business Plan
Oct 2012 Dual Horne Lake Reports (1 and 2)
July 2012 Ministry of Transportation Horne Lake Report
I submitted the request after becoming concerned that the Port Authority Transportation Committee was not considering all options when considering the growth of the Port, most notably expansion and use of the railway and was holding its meetings in private.
After 30 days, my request for “all past and current records of the Regional Transportation Committee chaired by the Port Authority including agenda, minutes and documents produced or distributed for committee members” was denied as the PAPA thought the committee did “not fall under ATIP regulations”.
I subsequently launched a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office, and they found my complaint to be “well founded” and compelled the PAPA to release what I requested. The PAPA finally did so on June 17, 2013, 294 days after my initial request.
Concern #1 Transparency:
Up until fall 2012, the Committee was not public. This was the purpose of the ATIA request. As noted in November 2012 ACRD Committee minutes (Page 10), the ACRD highway connector committee had not met for two years but PAPA was working behind the scenes anyway since at least July 2011 through an “ad hoc” and private committee. (Page 35)
It took a formal complaint to the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada and 294 days to fulfill a request for information that should have been done in 30 days. The request was denied because they felt the requested information did not “fall under ATIP grounds”. The Office of the Information Commissioner has deemed my complain “well-founded”. They have indicated to me they will file a report on their investigation in the coming weeks.
Concern #2: No consideration of railway for Asia Pacific:
If the goal is actually to enhance the prospects for the Asia Pacific Gateway through Port Alberni how can a Transportation Committee be focused solely on highway development? Rail is mentioned extensively as a key part of Asia Pacific strategy for the Province and Canada in documents used by the Committee (Page 91/108/109) but was only mentioned twice by the committee in this disclosure. And most importantly, there is no reasoning as to why that is the case.
“New definition as “Highway Committee” Do not want to cross over into Island Rail committee” – Page 86 – April 2012
“SRY pushed back for rail to be the ask of government from the transportation committee and not a highway”Page 33 – July 26
Concern #3: Goal and Purpose vs. Public Message
I believe this information shows primarily that the highway’s main purpose and effect is not to benefit personal vehicle traffic, but to allow huge expansion of industrial traffic for the Asia Pacific Gateway. I believe this to be dishonest and distorting the facts of the impact this hoped for surge in industrial traffic will bring, and we are not having a full and open discussion on all the options that could deal with that traffic. This is also supported by disagreement within the committee itself re: the purpose and direction and highlighted by Cindy Stern. I think it would be worth talking to Mrs. Stern about her views on the Committee’s work.
A better approach would have been to have had a fully public committee from the start. Lay down the options and what everyone wanted to do first and the ways of doing it. The message continues to be, from the City, the RD, and the PAPA about time savings, hospital commuting, and general community “want” for the project. This is a cultivated message.
“Focus the business case on: Safety, health, small business development and NOT based on prospective projects and heavy industry development…. Premier discussed coal and potential for development of 12 other mine sites being explored north of Campbell river as potential users of a new highway and the Port… Key message is to build the business case for the connector and how the Port can support mainland ports and not compete with them with respect to distribution centre Gateway ideas
“Advice given and accepted is:
a) Develop clear message
b) Stay on message
c) Lead your on rnessage (be proactive with media and community)
d) Don’t get into “tit for tat” responses to every critic and critique”
July 26, 2012 (Page 33/34)
Cindy Stern Tseshaht CEO:
“The group said that we would not link this initiative to that project. It seems like that has changed. Please advise rne why. Tseshaht may not be able to support a bid for a new transportation route if it is linked to Raven Coal.”(Page 50 (May 2012)
“Darren [Deluca PAPA]: Raven Coal — challenge will be trucking. Need to think how we leverage coal message.
Cindy: Two FN’s very opposed to Coal project. This will be a non-starter for this committee if coal project is mentioned or involved.”
(Page 88 Minutes April 2012)
Minister of Transport Mary Polak:
“Thank you for your letter of October 30, 2012, foilowing up on our discussion regarding the Port Alberni Port Authoii’ty’s ideas about how best to grow the port and the region…. Coal exports through Port Alberni could help B.C. achieve the 2020 trade volumes projected in the Pacific Gateway Transportation Strategy.”
Jan 2013 Page 3/4
John Tapics CEO Compliance and Randy Orr, Island Timberlands:
“Mr. Tapics also noted that if the new highway were to be built, the Raven mine would be about 60 km frorn Alberni and that construction and production jobs could be available to Alberni residents.”- July 25, 2012 (Page 35)
“The primary purpose of the committee is to lobby for a new Highway 4 general routed via Horne Lake to Highway 19, and to review and identify options for an industrial route to divert unnecessary traffic away from the Port Alberni inner core.”
“The purpose of the Committee is to support and advocate for improved highway and road access to Port Alberni, and the Port’s deep sea shipping terminals.”
“Second is a letter form Premier Clark to the Port confirming her support for Port Alberni as an Asia Pacific Gateway port.”
May 25 2012
“upgrade key road transportation corridors to support trade with new provincial investments of 5700 million over the next five years”
April 2012 Intro to Highway Committee (Page 81)
Concern #3 Ignoring and Bypassing Ministry Officials
Despite being rejected multiple times, by multiple levels of government, the committee including to this day, continues to push for both the highway and an industrial route. None have advanced passed the “Conceptual” stage according to the Ministry. The last report done by the ministry in July 2012 was “Conceptual” only.
“At this point with a conceptual Horne I ake Connector, we are still very much at the conceptual phase — which means project cost estimates are still very rough. We will have an updated~conce tuai cost benefit analysis report ready bythe end of June. For any major capital project to move beyond a conceptual phase, full governrnent approvals would be required and then detailed planning studies would be conducted, which can cost in the order of hundreds of thousands to complete, depending on the scale of the project involved.”(Page 52 May 2012)
“the ministry is not planning any further study of the proposed Horne Lake Connector in the 2013 budget or fhe next five-year capital plan. The analysis supports the continued use of Highway 4 ‘as a safe and reliable corridor between Poit Alberni and Highway 19, as this route is capable of suppoiting general and coinniercial traffic growth that could arise frorn econotnic development activities in the region.”January 2013: (Page 4)
“to get greater traction it is important to start talking to the Assistant Deputy Minister and Regional Director level in order to get the push on the bureaucrats at the lower levels”
Page 34 (July 26 2012)
“I would prefer that we focus mr dellucca and his group to the district and would suggest that we recommend that the next rneeting is with you and the technical staff to go over any questions they may have on this – I would like to try to get them away from dave and Dave recognizing in the end they may choose to go around us but the authority for proceeding any further primarily rests with you and I.”Page 32 (July 27 2012)
Concern #4 Dismissing Stakeholder Concerns:
The committee has been confronted a number of times by people concerned with the direction it is taking and has largely ignored those concerns. Yes, I include myself in that category as it pertains to consideration of the railway. However, other much more significant stakeholders include Cindy Stern and First Nations in general, as I’ve already pointed out, and also Murray Hamilton, Property manager of the Horne Lake Recreation Management Ltd.
“We are a community of 400 recreational lakefront strata lots and the strata owns 3200 acres of adjacent forest lands in the Horne Lake valley. …. neither Option 1 or 2 [north and south routes Horne Lake routes] are viable options considering the current uses of this area…. As a community we cannot support this route.”Page 41