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The Josie voted Canada’s best
Okanagan Edge Staff - Nov 24, 2020 - BC Biz

Photo: Contributed

The Josie Hotel in Rossland has been hauling in the awards lately.

The World Ski Awards named it Canada’s best ski boutique hotel for the second year in a row, and it also cracked the top three among best ski hotels in USA Today’s annual Readers’ Choice Travel Awards.

“It’s such an honour to be named among the best in the world and receive the prestigious award of Canada’s best ski boutique hotel for the second year running,” general manager Jesse Crockett said in a press release. “We were in categories with some of the best ski hotels in the world, and we feel these awards really showcase our commitment to our guests and creating one of the best guest experiences in the industry.”

The Josie is set to open on Dec. 10, with RED Mountain Resort expected to follow suit two days later.

Health app comes to BC
The Canadian Press - Nov 23, 2020 - BC Biz

File photo: The Canadian Press

BRAMPTON, Ont. — Loblaw Companies Ltd. is expanding the launch of its mobile health and wellness app, a free digital tool the company says will help Canadians navigate the health-care system.

The grocery and pharmacy retailer said Monday it’s making the PC Health app available to download in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta after an initial rollout in Atlantic Canada last month.

The app comes amid an expansion of digital health technologies and increasing efforts by retailers to extend customer experience—and loyalty—beyond the traditional brick-and-mortar store.

Jeff Leger, president of Shoppers Drug Mart, said the expanding role of pharmacists in health care makes the company well suited to offer “a digital front door for health care.”

“Our view is that pharmacies over the next couple of years are going to play a greater role in the delivery of primary care in the community,” he said, noting that pharmacists are increasingly turned to for vaccinations, minor ailments and support with chronic illness.

Leger said the PC Health app leverages its in-house expertise in health, nutrition and wellness to help connect users with information, support and different health professionals.

The app provides access to registered nurses and dietitians as well as custom digital health programs that reward users with the company’s PC Optimum points.

“We know that changing behaviour is not easy, especially in health care,” Leger said. “We think that adding some incentives with PC Optimum can help make small nudges towards healthier behaviour.”

He said the company’s goal is for the app to be at the centre of an “omnichannel health care experience.”

BC fishing changes coming
The Canadian Press - Nov 12, 2020 - BC Biz

Photo: The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER — The federal government says it has a game plan to transition away from open-net fish farming on B.C.’s coast.

Terry Beech, a Burnaby MP and parliamentary secretary for the minister of fisheries, says the government is committed to moving away from open-net pens to more sustainable technology, but that still needs to be examined.

Phasing out net-pen fish farming in B.C. waters by 2025 was a Liberal campaign promise in the federal election and it formed part of the mandate letter for Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan.

Some studies say the open-net farms spread parasites and viruses to wild salmon, and while the government set the timeline to end the ocean-based farms, Beech did not have a date for when the businesses would move.

Beech says the government will be working with First Nations, the aquaculture industry and environment stakeholders on an interim report expected to be handed to the minister in the spring.

In 2018, the B.C. government recommended a transition plan for 17 fish farms to leave the Broughton Archipelago by 2023, allowing for a farm-free migration corridor for wild salmon off northeastern Vancouver Island.

WorkSafe ramping up inspections
Glacier Media - Nov 10, 2020 - BC Biz

Photo: Glacier Media

With cases of COVID-19 on the rise, WorkSafeBC says it will be stepping up inspections at workplaces in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions.

In a press release issued Tuesday, the work safety organization urged employers to stay vigilant and update any protocols when it comes to enhanced cleaning and physical distancing to reflect new orders from the provincial health officer.

“The focus of our inspections is to ensure employers are effectively implementing measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace, including screenings,” said Al Johnson, the head of prevention services with WorkSafeBC.

“Workplace health and safety are essential in protecting workers and keeping businesses open. Employers need to ensure their COVID-19 plan is effective, that it’s followed to the letter, and that it’s applied to all aspects of the workplace.”

According to WorkSafeBC, places of employment are at the highest risk for spreading the coronavirus. The organization added that workplaces where it is difficult to maintain physical distance and where workers interact with large numbers of customers and staff have been prioritized for inspection.

WorkSafeBC said it will also be increasing its consultation with employers and has made new information available on its website, including a multi-channel, multi-language public awareness campaign.

To date, more than 18,000 workplaces have been inspected and 667 orders have been issued to employers for health and safety violations.

The stepped up enforcement comes as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued sweeping new restrictions limiting gatherings to direct members of a household in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions for two weeks. They also limit travel, social gatherings and indoor group exercises, like yoga or spin classes, along with indoor sports like minor hockey.

“We need to go back to what we were doing in March, April and May,” she said. “We bring our risk with us, and we take our risk back with us when we return.”

Open houses nixed again
The Canadian Press - Nov 05, 2020 - BC Biz

Photo: Contributed

VANCOUVER — Real estate agents across B.C. are being asked to temporarily stop holding open houses in an effort to curb the rise of COVID-19.

The recommendation comes from the regulatory agencies overseeing B.C. real estate professionals as well as the provincial association representing Realtors.

Erin Seeley, the CEO of the Real Estate Council of B.C., says in a statement that real estate agents should use virtual tools to protect clients.

The request to temporarily end open houses follows an order last week by the provincial health officer to limit the size of gatherings in private residences to the immediate household plus their so-called “safe six.”

Lumber prices boon to Canfor
The Canadian Press - Oct 23, 2020 - BC Biz

Photo: The Canadian Press

The work-from-home trend that drove lumber prices to record levels and helped producer Canfor Corp. realize record high revenues in the third quarter is expected to continue to provide benefits going forward, CEO Don Kayne says.

The Vancouver-based company expects strong lumber prices to continue through the end of 2020 despite the recent softening it attributes to seasonal slowdowns.

“Pre-pandemic, for many people, their home was primarily for shelter, for sleeping and eating. Now the home is becoming an office, a school, an entertainment area and a recreation space, in addition to sleeping and eating,” Kayne said on a conference call Friday.

“We see evidence of this in our strong R&R (repair and remodel) and DIY (do-it-yourself) demand and believe it will continue to evolve and increase in importance. We’re also seeing a shift from urban living to suburban and rural living as people buy more spacious single-family homes and have greater flexibility to work from home.”

He added low interest rates, aging house inventories and strong U.S. housing starts will also continue to drive strong demand for lumber.

Canfor noted the North American price for Western SPF (spruce, pine and fir) two-by-fours reached an all-time high of US$955 per thousand board feet early in September, before dropping in October to a current average of US$768.

The forest products company reported Thursday a profit of $218 million in the three months ended Sept. 30, compared with a loss of $88.5 million a year earlier.

Coastal GasLink making headway
Glacier Media - Oct 22, 2020 - BC Biz

Photo: Contributed

Pipe installation and clearing continues in the first two spreads of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through the Peace Region.

In an October update, the company reported 21% of pipe installed in the project’s first spread, which runs 92 kilometres from Groundbirch to the Brule Mines area. No pipe has been installed in the second spread, which runs 48 kilometres to the McLeod Lake area. The area is 59% cleared, according to Coastal GasLink.

“We’re reaching peak construction on the Coastal GasLink right-of-way while also continuing to progress construction on our compressor and meter station facilities,” the company said.

The company reported 3,488 workers as of Sept. 30. There were 82 workers reported at Sanataa Lodge and 206 workers at Sukunka Lodge.

The company says site preparations along with earthworks and piling for the Wilde Lake compressor station continue in Groundbirch. Civil works have begun for a third worker lodge at Mt. Merrick.

Elsewhere, the company says 26% of pipe has been installed between Bear Lake and Vanderhoof. Another 4.5% of pipe has been installed between Burns Lake and Houston, and 1% in the final spread between Morice Lake and Kitimat.

The $6.6-billion pipeline is a key piece of infrastructure for LNG Canada. Two Fort St. John contractors, Surerus Pipeline and Macro Industries, have joint venture projects hired to build segments of the pipeline.

Surerus Murphy is building the first two sections of the pipeline between Groundbirch and McLeod Lake. It put the project’s first pipe segments in the ground in July.

Macro Spiecapag is building 85 kilometres of pipeline between Burns Lake and Houston, as well as the final 84 kilometres from the Morice Lake area to Kitimat.

LNG’s profitability debated
The Canadian Press - Oct 20, 2020 - BC Biz

Photo: Contributed

Liquefied natural gas will either be a major economic boon for the Canadian economy or a dud, depending on which recent report you favour.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) on Monday published a report responding to an earlier economic analysis by the Conference Board of Canada that estimates the annual investment in LNG in Canada could total $11 billion annually between 2020 and 2064, and $500 billion in total.

B.C. alone would generate 71,000 new jobs per year and more than $4.6 billion in wages, the Conference Board estimated.

“At $2 billion in annual provincial taxes and royalties, the LNG sector could become one of the largest revenue generators in B.C.,” the report stated.

However, that analysis does not indicate how many LNG export projects that calculation is based on. In a report released Monday, the IEEFA points out only one large LNG project is moving forward in Canada—the $40 billion LNG Canada project in B.C.—and casts doubt on whether a second one—Kitimat LNG—will ever be built.

“The most important fact is that the fundamentals of British Columbia’s LNG export cost structure are not competitive enough to keep private capital interested,” the IEEFA report states. “Although many pundits cite political and regulatory issues, Canadian LNG’s biggest problem is profitability.”

The IEEFA suggests Canadian LNG projects won’t be able to compete with Qatar, on a price basis. Then again, few countries can.

It’s estimated that any new large LNG projects will need a break-even price of US$7 to US$8 per MMBTU of delivered LNG.

Qatar is expanding brownfield projects and restructuring contracts to build new LNG export facilities that could deliver LNG at US$5 MMBTU, Clark Williams-Derry, an analyst with the IEEFA, told BIV News.

“That’s going to put price pressure on the entire global stack of LNG projects,” Williams-Derry said.

BC mining group issues warning
Glacier Media - Oct 19, 2020 - BC Biz

File photo: The Canadian Press

B.C. could see its mining industry shrink over the next 20 years, a new report by the Mining Association of BC warns.

It warns that B.C.’s 14 operating mines could shrink to just five by 2040.

When carbon taxes were first introduced in B.C. by the Liberal government, they were generally supported by B.C.’s mining industry.

But the industry expected other competing jurisdictions would likewise implement carbon pricing. Most didn’t. Moreover, the NDP ended carbon tax neutrality, in which increases in carbon taxes are offset with decreases in other taxes.

“When B.C. launched the carbon tax in 2008, it was assumed many other nations and subnational jurisdictions would follow with their own,” the report states. “Most have not. Those that did have protected their trade exposed firms.

“In light of this, B.C.’s mines and smelters face a significant cost disadvantage because firms they compete with in other jurisdictions have no carbon pricing or significantly lower carbon pricing. Anecdotal evidence suggests the carbon tax is already contributing to a shift in capital investment and carbon leakage.”

It notes that the U.S., Australia, Russia and the Middle East pay no price for carbon, and miners in Chile pay carbon tax on only their electricity generation, at $5 per tonne of CO2. B.C.’s carbon tax is currently $40 per tonne, and scheduled to rise to $45 per tonne in 2021.

There are currently 14 operating mines in B.C. and two smelters that sustain 35,000 jobs, provide $1 billion in tax revenue to government and account for 25% of B.C.’s exports, the report notes.

But the association warns that, as the mines become exhausted, new ones may not get built, due to the high cost. New replacement mines will get built, and they will produce emissions—it just won’t be in B.C.

Leakage is where curbs on emissions on an industry in one jurisdiction results in that industry simply investing elsewhere, where those curbs, like carbon taxes, are lower or absent. So the emissions that that industry produced may stop in the country with higher regulations but rise elsewhere.

The report urged the provincial government to “modify the existing Clean BC Industrial Incentive Program” to provide better protection for B.C. miners that compete with miners and exporters in jurisdictions that don’t have the same levels of carbon pricing.

The report concludes with a warning:

“Within the next 20 years, nine B.C. mines are expected to reach the end of their production and close, leaving only five operating mines in 2040. That means the jobs, community benefits and revenues for public services will disappear along with them.

“There is no guarantee B.C. mining will continue.”

FortisBC increases rebates
Okanagan Edge Staff - Oct 15, 2020 - BC Biz

Photo: Contributed

FortisBC is doubling down on its attempt to get more British Columbians doing high-efficiency home renovations in time for winter.

The utility company has doubled its Home Renovation Rebates Program—now as much as $2,400 per natural gas heating system—so people will be more inclined to lower their long-term heating costs and help the environment.

“We want to make sure both our natural gas and electricity customers can continue to access the funds and services they need to make their home more comfortable and affordable, plus reduce their greenhouse gas emissions,” FortisBC conservation and energy management director Danielle Wensink said in a press release.

“Helping our customers reduce energy use is also one of the ways we’re progressing towards our goal of reducing all our customers’ emissions by 30 per cent by the year 2030.”

The upgrades require installation by a qualified contractor if they are going to qualify for rebates. The list of contractors is available here.

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