33. Bella Bella to Port Hardy
Bella Bella Community School
May 17, 2018, Comfort Inn, Campbell River
The new Bolt is plugged in after the drive up from Victoria. 7 hours of AC-charging to come, (no fast charge here yet); hence the stay over. The juice is free, but the hotel will set us back. My frugalist nature is being challenged. Early days. Campbell River is one of those places where there are far more cars visible than people. No centre, lots of malls, the Vancouver Island way. The best-looking buildings belong to the Wei Wai Kum First Nations. The car was so full: 2 folding kayaks, gear for three weeks, us (T. and me). We traveled 275 km, some at 120 km/hr., and had 94 km range left.
May 18, 2018, Port Hardy
Scenic drive, cruise control at 91 km/hr. kept the actual distance to Hardy ratio to the indicated car range about even. Re-assuring. Well over a hundred left. Man, what a great, modern car. It’s probably the most advanced car Chevy has ever made. We’ve stretched our finances and jumped quite a few generations from our ’95 Ford Escort wagon that we junked for the Bolt. Just like the old wagon, we can put our kayaks or bicycles on the roof rack above, or,if we want, store them folded inside. Nobody is mounting strong racks on cars with glass roofs or gull wing doors. Take that Tesla.
Hardy is a more interesting town with good local restaurants, well-made local crafts. Good place. We’ll take the ferry to Bella Bella with Evan tomorrow, leave the car here and T. will make her way back later on her own.
May 20, 2018, Bella Bella
Great little cabin. There are three, small prefab cabins, clean and comfortable. I’m glad Theresa came with Evan and me on the ferry here. I’ve always just come up on the ferry and taken off same day. But we arrived at 1:30 in the morning on this schedule and I wanted to hang out here with T. and Evan for a couple of full days to get a feel for the place. People are friendly; they wave with one hand still on the steering wheel as they drive by in their big shiny pickups.
May 22, 2018
Entrance to Gale Passage, Athlone Island side. 52.234, -128.378
I wanted to talk to someone about Gale Passage. I have never been down this channel before. It’s near where the Nathan E Stewart tug went down in October 13, 2016, after a crew member had fallen asleep, spilling 110,000 litres of diesel fuel and lubricants. It took 31 days before the tug was finally lifted off the reef just north of the passage. Oil flowed into the passage, polluting shellfish beds important to the Heiltsuk First Nation of Bella Bella and surrounding areas. The area also has sensitive archeological sites, including ancient fish traps and an old village site known as Qvuqa. In addition to clams, the Heiltsuk harvest roe on kelp, salmon, sea cucumbers and edible seaweed nearby. There is a sea otter colony about 100 meters away, on the shore of Athlone Island. I was told by local people that tests are still ongoing and that no one knows if the clams and oysters are safe to eat. In a report in the Globe and Mail, July 29, 19, Kirby Corp., of Houston, Texas, was fined $2.9 million for polluting Gale Passage with oil. This is just a slap on the wrist for the largest fuel-barge company on the west coast. Marilyn Slett, of the Heiltsuk Nation points out that maritime laws developed during the reign of King Louis XIV of France in the 17th century were designed to limit the liability of ship owners. This law still stands and is in opposition to the indigenous practice of good stewardship and respect for the land. Only strictly financial claims are allowed. There is nothing for environmental impairment.
There is a tidal falls in the passage. No one I talked to could verify which way it flowed: north or south during flood? They didn’t mind us camping here. As it came about, we’ve camped on the opposite side of the channel from their clam beds.
In Bella Bella there is a good grocery store, a very handsome community school and a new longhouse community centre planned, with a foundation in place. No restaurant. There are lots of small boats in the marina, but salmon and other fish are in steep decline, even up here. And all the fishing quota has been bought by the big fishing corporations.
Theresa and I couldn’t figure out what people there do a lot of the time, especially during the dark days of winter. We know of two couples who either have moved or are going to move to bigger centers in order for their children to attend school. On the other hand, as I was sitting on the veranda of the grocery store waiting either for the rain to stop or the store to open I got to talking with a young man. He volunteered that he loved this place and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. A young woman mentioned excitedly that now is the season to collect a certain black seaweed and dry it. Yummy, she said.
There is a lot of screeching about town. Not from people, though. It’s the many ravens vying for the good perches with the eagles.
Across the channel is where the Heiltsuk dig their clams. There is a small cabin mostly hidden in the trees there, and the forest underbrush has been cleared out. It looks park-like. We didn’t go in. Over here we found a beautiful, sheltered camping area in the forest. The smears on this page are squished no-see-ums. It’s 7 PM and they’re out in force. There is no sign of the oil spill. Not on the rocks nor weed, nor in the air. They are not harvesting, though.
Yesterday we took a water taxi to nearby Shearwater fishing resort. We met Anderson, from Ghana, on the boat over and shared a meal with him in the pub restaurant. So here’s this really engaging African guy studying waste management at the University in Manitoba and he’s in Bella Bella studying how they handle their shit.
Apparently for a small community Bella Bella is very advanced, way better than similar communities in Manitoba. Not perfect, though. When T. and I walked to the airport last night we passed the sewage plant. Man did it stink. I mentioned this to Anderson. He said that there is some mechanism that is broken. It used to be almost odor-free. The guy who installed the system and maintained it moved away and nobody knows how to fix it.
Otherwise they are organized. Compost pick-up one day, recycle another, then garbage. The garbage truck stays in town and people can put stuff in it during the week. But when it is time to take it to Hardy on the ferry someone flies into Bella Bella to do the job because no one there has a class 1 license. Odd. Anderson said that people are open for him to do his study. They want his data. I’ve had to stop, find some twigs, and moss and make a smudge fire. Now, no bugs.
Evan. The first days were calm
Wednesday, May 23, 2018, small island campsite
This is a campsite I’ve been to quite a few times. It’s changed. There is a float off the beach for a power boat, plastic stored on the beach and some canned food. Not pristine anymore.
Evan and I rode the tide south through Gale tidal rapids, fun. Then we had to paddle furiously against an incoming tide the rest of the way. We had left at 7:10 AM, high tide predicted for 8:37. I had noticed, to my surprise, that at least at the north end of Gale it floods south, unusual. I wonder if it comes in from both ends? It was gorgeous, though, and we got here before noon.
Evan is teaching himself to juggle three rocks right now and I just cleaned a couple of rockfish caught while jigging. I think I’ll join him.
Friday, May 25, 2018, Triquet Island 51.808, -128.249
Not a long distance today, but a hard paddle, strong 20 kn southerly. Got water, with difficulty, on east shore of Spider Island. Almost invisible location. May be here 2 days or so, according to forecast southerlies 20–30 knots. 2 tarps up, it is sheltered here facing north, out of the wind.
Special, this place, 14,000 years of successful occupation by Indigenous people. Their stories tell of a time when glaciers covered most of the land, but these islands were spared. Tales dismissed by many. But recent discoveries here by researchers from the Hakai Institute have revealed artifacts dating back that long ago and 13,000-year-old footprints were found on Calvert Island. There were probably many more sites, but back then the oceans were much lower, and many sites would have been inundated. According to the latest findings people started filtering down the coast between 15,000 and 18,000 years ago, or more. The number keeps getting pushed back.
We are near Randel’s rotting cabin, which is now filled up with plastic junk. Otherwise, almost pristine. Except, of course, what you find on almost every beach: colorful fishing net half buried in the sand or pinned under logs that clog the upper tide level. Just starting their 500 plus year decomposition process. Unlike Asian beaches, though, which are the worst, not many plastic bottles and other plastic. It seems a little desolate in the rain and wind, but I just heard a hummingbird, and like yesterday’s camp, there is a resident mink that is not afraid to trot across the beach close by. A young eagle seems to prefer a perch on a tall dead fir tree overhead.
Saturday, May 26, 2018, Triquet Island
This place is enchanting, rain or no. Two love birds on a rock offshore: male and female mergansers, the female just as attractive as the male. Found a mink skull, beautiful shape. There are lots of wildflowers in cracks and crevices over on the south exposed side of the island. The view offshore: islands and more islands, exotic. There is a suggestion proposed by a leading environmentalist that with increasing urbanization, half of the planet be set aside for humanity, half for wildlife. This place is already there for the second half. Just occasional interlopers, like Evan and me.
I’m at a tiny beach facing roughly S.W. A 40-knot wind is racing by, pushing seas I’m glad I’m not out on. It’s smoking out there. It’s late May, I have multiple layers on, but I’m not warm.
The trail here from camp winds through thick salal, past sword ferns and red cedar, hemlock, and Sitka spruce trees, old man’s beard hanging over thick luxurious moss, soft underfoot. One turn is marked by an abalone shell dropped by some furry hunter. As the trail nears this beach, the trees get smaller. Small cedars give way to windblown dwarf pine. Nature’s own bonsai. In the little valley at the head of the beach all the taller trees have died. At their feet lie large logs tossed impossibly high and large foam blocks even higher. Could the salt water have killed them? Or perhaps the extremely dry summers we have been having dried out the soil on the south facing rocky slopes. Higher up on either side, the hemlocks look fine. Below the dead trees though, and in crevices between exposed rocks grow wildflowers, like in an alpine zone. They look delicate but are anything but.
Dwarf Shore Pine, Triquet Island
Sunday, May 27, 2018, Still here at Triquet
Puddle in tent, it’s an old one, coating shot, tape gone. Fortunately, my bag stayed on the air mattress.
What we eat: so far, it’s working.
Breakfast: porridge on camp days (makes you pee), All Bran buds paddle days, with powdered milk. Cranberries both days, we’ve got lots.
Lunch: gorp (nuts, seeds dried fruit), bannock made the night before, pepperoni sticks (not my usual fare, mostly vegetarian. Evan swears by them. Makes gas, you could fuel a methane pump off us.)
Doug’s bannock: 1 cup flour, 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, 1 Tbsp. baking powder, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 cup water. Save a little water while mixing. The dough needs to be dry, or it sticks to you. Squeeze, break into 4 pcs., flatten, fry with veg. oil. It’s filling. Option: throw in a handful of cranberries. Even better.
Dinner: a few freeze-dried prepped. Pasta with bought little pkgs of sauce, doubled. Lots of rice, spices, nuts, fresh beets, and cabbage, they keep. Cook the beets first, use the water for the rest, those dinners are red. Protein drink made from brown rice. According to nutrition lists, Evan, at 240 pounds…should be getting 4,000 calories/day when we paddle. I doubt that’s happening, but he seems happy enough. Salt. Fish. Mussels. Veg and olive oil. Oh yes, we have a few cans of Spam for emergencies. An emergency is when Evan is especially hungry. It is better for both of us if he eats right away.
These stormy, camp-bound days are golden. They force you out in the rain onto the beach and in the trees. Walking can be treacherous. The slick-sided trees with no bark, left over from the bad old days of logging everywhere, are super slippery when wet. (Logging practices are much improved now. Some things do get better). Then there are the tidal rocks, boulders, and outcrops. Small barnacles on the granite are good. Rockweed is bad, as is bull kelp, alaria, wrack and the imposter, sargassum. The worst is sea lettuce shrouded over boulders. Like ice. Soft steps required, hands too. The forest is safe, but the bush is thick. I just take my time and depend on my rain gear to keep me dry. Made from petroleum. It’s much better than cedar clothing.
From foot, clockwise, I think: Leathesia marina, sea cabbage (Hedophyllum sessile) sea lettuce (Ulva fenestrata), rockweed (Fucus distichus) , Caulacanthus ustulatus and barnacles.
Monday, May 28, 2018, NW Calvert Island, 51.654, -128.139
3 to 4 meter combined swell wave height created a bumpy ride over, due to the storm that ended last night. Approaching Calvert those waves bouncing off the rocks created chaos. Like bombs going off on all sides. I’d want to be in those conditions with few others besides Evan. He was cool. This reminds me when I used to paddle the double in the stern while Evan hung out in the bow with a stick and string, ‘fishing’. When he progressed to paddling his own boat, I’d find myself looking back constantly, checking on him. Now he’s the one who’s looking back. It’s easy for me, best situation yet.
We visited the Hakai Institute. Last time I was here the place was a luxury fishing lodge. Great location, and they are doing interesting long term ecological research including habitation over the last 15,000 years or so. This island was never glaciated and there is wonderful hiking up above the beaches. There were a lot of high school students wandering around the beach near our camp. A group was instructed to draw their favorite sea life on the sand with sticks. I got this from Matt, from Port Hardy. He drew a big turtle, an octopus and a fish. He knew how smart octopus are. Real problem solvers. He was blown away by the beaches here and said he had no idea about this place. We’re practically in his own back yard. Very enthusiastic guy who says he’ll be back for sure.
May 30, 2018, Grief Bay, 51.425, -127.912
Yesterday I was watching Evan in the kayak as we were heading for Blackney Island. 3 m. seas, so most of the time he was out of sight. When we both came up off a trough there he was, a few sets over, ahead. I was wondering what he was thinking about. One thing for sure, he wasn’t thinking about what I was thinking about. Sons don’t do that. As it turned out his thoughts had been mundane. We hadn’t had much sleep the night before because a bunch of students were playing bocce ball on the beach near our tents. We normally go to bed at dusk and are up at dawn, like 5. He was just thinking about being sleepy. Good grief. We slept well last night and it’s his birthday today, 29. Great way to celebrate it, tired in paradise.
May 31, 2018, Burnett Bay, 51.12, -127.674
On the way over from Calvert we managed to stop at Egg Island and hike up an overgrown trail and falling down stairs to the lighthouse. There we surprised Dave, the Keeper. He said he doesn’t get many visitors. Ocean swell. No access. I climbed those stairs in 1985, 33 years ago, when they were new. We had stopped in just like now, but the weather had crapped out and we had spent the night there. This time the swell was low and we had no problem. Rounding Cape Caution a humpback whale surfaced right beside Evan and startled the hell out of him. Yikes. I’m sure he would have thrown his hands up in the air if he didn’t have to hang on to that paddle.
The keeper wondered how we got there
June 2, 2018, Beach
It’s my birthday today. Now I’m truly a geriatric, with the life expectancy of a dog. How does a 70-year-old paddle down the coast? Not so fast! This morning it was still raining and blowing. I walked down the beach, struggled through underbrush into the forest and had a sit. By the time I came back and made tea the sun was filtering through the clouds and the wind had died down.
Now I’m on a high rock overlooking the Pacific with the whole north end of Vancouver Island laid out before me. Evan approaches with tea. He asks, “What do you want for your 70th?” I say: “Cranberries in my porridge.”
Evan bringing tea.
Now he’s juggling again. I’ve noticed that he is picking it up quicker than me. Now, I’m not one to compete against my son, of course not. But I think I’ll go juggle a little.
Taking stock. My body: O.K., I guess. Fit for 70. There’s been some repairs along the way, mostly successful. My mind: forgetful, a long-time problem though I still can remember what happened yesterday and where I’ve parked my bicycle. I can still solve problems by sleeping on them. I’m somewhere between a whining old fart and an Elder. Take your pick.
Right now the sun is drying out the sand, causing what looks like steam to float in above the broad sandy beach. It’s incredible.
My upbringing: I was fortunate to have been brought up in a downwardly mobile middle-class family. I got away early and became frugal.
My ancestors: Scottish on my mother’s side: Buchanan. It has been said that the Scots aren’t the brightest of peoples, but they suffer well. I have tried to live up to that high ideal.
My income: semi-retired. High by 3rd world standards, modest in the western world. Adequate, for sure. I’ve already got my stuff. I own an expensive rain jacket. No medicines, no debt.
Ugh. When I re-read that I realized: false pride. I have a lot of debts: to society, for the comforts I take for granted, and to the planet. For all the burgers I used to eat, all the flights, the old cars. Our society has a very heavy footprint and I’ve been right in there.
Now the important part: Friends and family. My best male friend has taught me a little about jazz and a lot about friendship. We have different tastes. The only boat he’d consider getting on would be a cruise ship. There are a few others. Some have shared my love of coastal cruising. Dan, who arrived as a young teen and hung around. Now he’s a doting dad of 2 young girls. Feathercraft couldn’t have been successful without him. Some of the people I worked with for many years, including a couple of great dads and a remarkable woman who fled Vietnam during the war, was rescued off an oil drilling platform and made a wonderful life for herself and her family in Canada. Martin, who likes to fly fish, Shiro, Tak and others over in Japan where I have a special connection. A couple of guys from kindergarten and elementary school who I cycle and drink beer with. Some good friends shared with Theresa. I’ve been lucky.
My sisters. Three close siblings of alcoholic parents. We helped each other through it and continue to support each other through our successes and disappointments. “Many a promising life has been ruined by a happy childhood” (Robertson Davies). One, a documentary film maker and chronicler of people’s lives, the other a teacher-librarian, dancer, author, mother. Called the Driven Sisters by one of their exs. They taught me how to live with women, and love them, if not to understand them. Respect.
My violin-playing seaman son, Evan: bigger, stronger, faster than his old man. As a paddling partner, what’s not to like? And he brings me tea.
And then there’s my amazing wife. I should be so lucky. Organizing principle, artist, sweetheart. For the first time in this trip, I shaved today, sweetie. Theresa: “I salute you”.
June 3, 2018
Last night we celebrated our birthdays. I had brought along some single malt scotch. Father and son, on a big beach. We got a little drunk.
After our first night here, I went out to see who our neighbors are. Tracks of mink and otter, as expected, but also three deer — 2 adults and a fawn, which hardly left any impression in the sand at all. The deer hadn’t hung around and grazed on seaweed as they sometimes like to do; they had marched right on by.
It occurred to me that you don’t see many deer on these beaches, and the probable reason. These beaches are clogged with piles of logs. Cattle gates are very effective barriers for hoofed animals. Deer can’t climb over logs. For mink and otters, it’s no problem. During past visits here we’ve also seen wolves, big healthy ones. This would be a dangerous place for deer. Perhaps if cornered they would have to swim for it. I was once startled to see a couple of deer arrive here in the surf and then hoof it into the forest where there are no logs. They knew exactly where to go. But that was a rare event.
How many salmon streams have these logs destroyed? I’ve been coming to this beach since the 1980’s and to me they have always been here. That’s my baseline. While it is true that trees near the shore do occasionally fall onto the beach and get carried away, most of this is from the logging industry of the past. I wonder what this place looked like before industrial logging began, and how the streams were pathways into the forest for fish and other animals.
June 4, 2018
This trip has helped me put things in perspective, timewise. A recent World Wildlife Fund study indicated that by about 2050, due to acidification and rising ocean temperatures, all coral will be gone. That’s 25% of all animal life in the seas. A lot of the shellfish that you find along this coast will be corroded away too. In just over 30 years from now. 33 years ago, I was walking up those stairs on Egg Island that are now falling down. During the same time it took those stairs to deteriorate, corals will have corroded away. It’s too late to change that. With the amount of CO2 already in the atmosphere and oceans, and global emissions still rising, those extinctions are already baked in. By then I’ll probably be long gone. I’m not sure I would want to still be here. Despite this, we are still hunting for more oil, gas and coal and still burning increasing amounts of it. It’s appalling.
The other thing of note is how lucky I am to have time and space to be stressed out about this. If you have to worry about what to eat next, or have a job, kids and a mortgage to pay, you really don’t have a lot of energy left over to think about the planet and future generations of people and other critters.
June 5, 2018 Shelter Bay 50.977, -127.46
Many years ago I read some works by a teacher and intellectual working out of Cuernavaca, Mexico. Ivan Illich wrote an interesting analogy about research and development. (I’m pretty sure I’ve got this right; we’ve been far off the grid on this trip). He said that it is like digging a hole. At first when things look promising there’s a lot of activity. Then maybe the mother lode is hit, and even more people join in excitedly. Great things are mined. But as they dig deeper there becomes less and less to find. Some people leave to start a hole elsewhere. The exodus increases the farther down they go until finally, at the bottom of the hole remain the experts. This is where the oil and gas people are starting to find themselves now. The coal experts are already there, looking up from the bottom of their hole. Sure, some of these people have, with great expense and manipulation of the media, managed to gain control of the White House and other seats of power, but theirs is a desperate, rear-guard action. Their time is almost up. How long it takes before they are forced out will have a direct effect on how much damage they inflict on our planet.
Coming in here was so easy. No ocean swell, no surf. We didn’t have to time wave sets, brace, and then jump out and grab our boats. We just stepped out. We are holed up here because the forecast on the VHF indicated a trough approaches with 35 to 40 knot winds.
There is a great camp in the forest. Just before you come in there is a sign: Caution-Cougar in Area. Below the heading sensible advice is given by the BC Conservation Officer Service about not running away, standing tall, defending yourself. The sign is old, probably from last summer, but I found some fresh tracks in the mud close by. These were from a bear, as it turned out, because it romped around beside our camp the next day.
June 7, 2018
Our only equipment failure was something I’ve always trusted to be most dependable. My deck compass didn’t actually break, its dome just fogged up inside so I couldn’t read it. Consequently, we overshot our planned campsite by a couple of nautical miles and decided, what the hell, we’ll go on to Hardy.
Our day was long and hard. Forecast was for 15 to 25 knot headwinds. It didn’t seem much in the morning, so we left. At first the winds were at the low end of the forecast, but they picked up. The last 8 or 9 were at the high end. 9 1/2 hours against headwinds, just 17 miles. Crawling or not making headway at all.
Towards the end I was wondering if I was doing serious damage to this old body, but all will recover. I started thinking about LeBron James. What strength, what skill, what determination to shepherd a mediocre team all the way to the NBA finals. There are lots of people doing amazing things, but he’s doing it on prime-time TV with millions looking on. “Look, he blocks a shot, runs end to end, bulldozes through the entire Golden State team, leaps right over Curry and throws it down.”
Meanwhile I pull on one side, pull on the other side, arms burning, pull, pull, get the job done. It’s hardly comparable and not at all significant, but it was fun thinking about.
Once we rounded Duval Point and were in sight of the pink hotel above the bus station that we thought we would be staying at, it was the thought of a warm shower, pub food and a bed that lured both of us to harbour.
The hotel turned out to be closed (it’s Hardy, after all) but there was another close by that was open. We were the only guests. We were on record as having stayed there 9 years ago. I hadn’t remembered this, but Evan did. Now this bus will take us all the way back to Victoria in the same time it took us to travel 17 nm. The driver, who seems like a terrific guy, just came on the intercom. The toilet is not functioning on this bus, he explained, “But don’t worry, this is northern Vancouver Island, there are lots of rocks and bushes to crouch behind.” (Note: sadly this bus service has since been discontinued. How are the locals going to get around?)
Early this morning I was walking around in front of our hotel with some of our leftover food in a bag carried over my shoulder. I met a guy on an electric cart. He asked me what I was doing, and I said that I was trying to get rid of some food and wondered if there was a food bank or somewhere I could ditch it. He said that I’d come to the right place, that he was on disability pension and was having a hard time making ends meet. I was planning on saving some of the freeze-dried rations, but decided, what the hell, I won’t miss them. I gave him everything, but the cabbage and he gave me his story.
Wayne, 62, was healthy until 4 years ago. He contracted a rare form of a disease called Sapho from a virus, which ate away at his spinal column. He said for a while he was a quadriplegic. He was treated with drugs including Vancomycin (which I thought was a last resort antibiotic — does it work against viruses, or maybe the virus also inhibits the immune system causing infection?)
After treatment he moved up here away from friends and family in the Cowichan-Comox area because, he said, it was quiet here. This surprised me considering we were having to shout over the music blaring from his cart. He could stand but not move much and his legs were like toothpicks. He was friendly, though, and appeared happy. It’s amazing how resilient a lot of people are.
When I went back to the hotel, I found the main door was locked and nobody around. (It’s Hardy, after all). I had to throw what was left of our cabbage against our window to raise Evan from his bed.
This has been a wonderful trip shared with Evan. Besides the bear we saw many sea otters, seals, a few whales, lots of eagles, ravens, other birds and determined growths of plants and trees. But there was also a shadow. It’s as if a shroud from Mordor has passed over the land. That shroud is the knowledge that the land and sea are in great danger and that future generations will be living in a world far less diverse and abundant. Corals, shellfish, and pteropods will be gone and so will many species of fish. It’s too late to change that. My generation will be vilified. We should have known better and done more. Sometimes I cry. Still, we have to do what we can to minimize the damage. If we change our ways some good can come out of all this.
There is a woman from Ontario on this bus who is studying to become an oceanographer. She’s on the fish boats. It’s her job to record catches, how they are caught, when and where. She has been living out of her backpack since January. She is young, has an open mind, is idealistic and likes adventure. She said that of the 30 who started her recent class, after their first fishing tour only 2 remained. Some get seasick; some don’t like the fishermen who, she says, are always grouchy unless they’ve just hauled in a good tote of fish. She seems fine with all that.
June 10, 2018 Back at home
The news: Golden State swept Cleveland in 4; Pope Francis lectured some oil execs and government people about energy, fossils and climate change (I doubt the faithful were listening); and the Government of Canada has formally committed to buying the Trans Mountain Pipeline for $4.5 billion plus be on the hook for construction costs of anywhere from
$7.4 billion to $12 billion.
For crass political reasons our PM is doubling down with our tax money on expanding by 60% the dirtiest and one of the most expensive oil plays on the planet and exposing our coast to potentially devastating oil pollution while signs everywhere point to the deepening climate crisis we are facing. Meanwhile some advanced countries, such as Germany, Scandinavia, New Zealand and Iceland are rapidly weaning themselves from fossils and are pointing a way to the future.
Imagine that if, instead of spending $12 billion on an unnecessary pipeline (most of the bitumen will still go to U.S. refineries) we invested in wind, solar and hydro power and built a smart grid of long-distance transmission lines to carry power across Canada and into the U.S. Canada has all the resources but lacks the vision to become a clean energy superpower. Do we have the capacity to create such a vision?