Archive for the ‘Development’ Category

Hunt for pipeline bomber draws harassment complaints
Residents of B.C. town question RCMP tactics

Mark Hume
Globe and Mail
Saturday, Jul. 11, 2009

An RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] team hunting for the EnCana pipeline bomber in northeastern British Columbia has been accused of harassing and intimidating people in an attempt to get a break in the case.

Several residents of the Dawson Creek area say they have been interrogated up to eight times, pressured to take lie detector tests and asked for DNA and fingerprint samples.

One man said he fled a busy restaurant when police loudly accused him of being the bomber.

The RCMP say they have not received any formal complaints about their tactics.

But Vancouver lawyer, Jason Gratl, vice-president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said he has written to the RCMP asking them to stop harassing two clients.

“They are acting like state or secret police,” Mr. Gratl said. “The RCMP have fomented a climate of paranoia and suspicion … by applying a level of social pressure that amounts to harassment and intimidation.”

The RCMP has more than 250 investigators trying to catch whoever is responsible for six bomb attacks on EnCana infrastructure since October. Police have interviewed more than 450 people so far, without any charges laid.

Mr. Gratl said four people have contacted him with complaints about police.

One of those is Dennis MacLennan, who says he willingly agreed to a police interview last fall, after the first bombings, but when investigators kept returning with more questions, he decided not to co-operate any more.

That, he said, led to a confrontation with members of the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team in a local café.

“They come and sit at my table … and they start engaging me in questions. I said, ‘look I don’t want to talk to you, my lawyer has advised me not to’ … So I get up to leave and one member of the INSET team starts yelling at me: ‘You’re the bomber You’re the bomber’ You know, in a public restaurant … this is just absolutely atrocious behaviour,” Mr. MacLennan said.

He is in a dispute with EnCana over the amount of money he claims is due for a well on his property, but says that shouldn’t make him a bombing suspect.

“I do my business by the rules … I’m not some radical crazy,” he said.

But police have kept after him for months.

“They just kept pressuring me and chasing me around town, talking to people I’m doing business with and telling them I’m under investigation … destroying business opportunities for me. It’s been quite stressful … they’ve gone to my landlord and said, ‘Would you be surprised if we arrested him?’ and poisoning the atmosphere with people I’ve had relationships with for 10 and 20 years,” he said.

“My friends think there must be something to it if the police are being this persistent. All sorts of rumours are being spread.”

A woman, who asked not to be named, sounded distraught as she described being a police suspect.

“They’ve talked to me three times; our son at least six times. It’s interviews, interrogations, wanting fingerprints, DNA, lie detector tests. They wanted my cellphone record … It’s two or three hours of questioning at a time, over and over again,” she said.

The woman, who is not one of Mr. Gratl’s clients, said she knows others who have been questioned by police, and most are withdrawing from social contact.

“I can see some of the same symptoms of [post traumatic stress disorder] in those who have been police targets … there is isolation, paranoia, just like they have been in combat,” she said.

Another woman, who has not been questioned herself, said a friend was interrogated repeatedly and “he was absolutely torn apart by the intimidation. He was a basket case.”

She said she didn’t want her name in the media, fearing it might result in a police visit.

RCMP Corporal Dan Moskaluk, media relations officer for the North District, said police would like to hear from anyone who thinks they have been treated unfairly.

“I guess the response to those types of issues [is that] we are always concerned,” he said.

“At this point in time I’m not aware of any formal complaints that have been received or are being investigated … but again we would certainly welcome any issues that people would like to voice to us,” he said.

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B.C. pipeline bombed for sixth time
EnCana spokeswoman confirms bomb went off early Saturday morning, less than a kilometre from site of Thursday’s explosion

The Canadian Press
Sunday, Jul. 05, 2009

For the sixth time in nine months, and the second time in three days, a bomb has exploded near EnCana’s natural gas pipeline in northeastern British Columbia.

The blast early Saturday morning took place less than a kilometre from where EnCana workers were trying to cap a gas well damaged in an explosion Thursday.

“Our crews were at the wellhead site, where they were working to stop the gas leak,” EnCana spokeswoman Rhona DelFrari said from Calgary.

“Around 2:30 in the morning they heard a loud bang, so they immediately went to the spot where they thought it was and that’s where they discovered the explosion at the pipeline.”

The Mounties are labelling the bombings as domestic terrorism and have flown in a unit of its Integrated National Security Enforcement Team to investigate.

RCMP spokesman Corporal Dan Moskaluk said the EnCana crew, as well as a nearby resident, reported the explosion.

The blast caused a brief leak of potentially toxic sour gas but the pipeline’s control system sensed the drop in pressure and triggered emergency shutdown valves to isolate that portion of the line.

It’s not clear whether the EnCana repair crew was downwind of the leak but Cpl. Moskaluk said no one was hurt.

Some nearby residents evacuated their homes when they heard the blast, said Ms. DelFrari, but it was unnecessary.

The small amount of leaked sour gas dissipated instantly, she said, and tests of the air showed no signs of hydrogen sulphide, which can kill in small quantities.

“So there was no risk to the public,” said Ms. DelFrari.

It’s the sixth bombing against EnCana gas-transmission facilities since October.

The bombings have all taken place along a 15-to-20-kilometre stretch of the pipeline near Pouce Coupe, just south of Dawson Creek on the B.C.-Alberta border about 1,050 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

The string of unsolved bombings has left Pouce Coupe, which has less than 800 residents, edgy and suspicious.

“This is an attack on the entire community now,” said Ms. DelFrari. “This isn’t just an attack on EnCana as a corporation. This person is putting everyone’s lives in risk right now.”

Police suspect the bomber is someone who has a grudge against EnCana and who perhaps lives in the area.

The attacks began with three bombings shortly after a letter was sent to a Dawson Creek newspaper and to EnCana. It labelled oil and gas companies terrorists and demanded EnCana stop natural gas development in the area.

There was another explosion in January, then none until this week.

Most have targeted wells or pipelines carrying sour gas.

Cpl. Moskaluk said though no one has been hurt yet, the bombings have created stress in Pouce Coupe, as well as nearby Dawson Creek, which depends economically on energy development.

“Many have been questioned, many have been brought in for interviews,” he said.

“They’re all looking at one another. You can imagine how that’s eating away at people.”

Cpl. Moskaluk said police won’t be releasing information on the type of explosives used or the bombs’ construction. He could not say if the latest bomb had been planted before or after Thursday’s blast.

He said police hope this sixth attack will trigger some tips to help them catch the bomber.

I think if somebody comes forward then I think there’s a little bit of strength in numbers,” said Cpl. Moskaluk.

EnCana has offered a $500,000 reward for information and set up a special phone line for the bomber to call them but so far it hasn’t rung.

Meanwhile, EnCana is maintaining bolstered, 24-hour security along the pipeline. But Ms. DelFrari admitted there’s no way to ensure the bomber doesn’t strike again.

“Let’s face it, it’s hard to patrol hundreds of kilometres of pipeline and we have about 150 wells in the Dawson area,” she said.

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Gateway Day of Action: Minister Falcon’s Office Declared “Crime Scene”

Saturday April 11 SURREY — Activists South of the Fraser marked the riding office of provincial Highways Minister Kevin Falcon a “Global Warming Crime Scene” this morning, and piled sand used by Ministry contractors for highway construction in front of the door.

Gateway blockade

In March 2009, concerned citizens blockaded the demolition of a house in Surrey, BC, Canada that stood in the way of freeway construction.

Farmers protest overpasses in Langley

On March 20, 2009 farmers and concerned citizens in Langley, BC, Canada protested a heavy rail overpass plan that would destroy many acres of local farmland. It was the third such protest in as many weeks.

More info:


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Fire rips through controversial condos
96 units razed; Damage estimated at $10 million

By MAX HARROLD, The Montreal Gazette [Quebec]
April 11, 2009

The Montreal police arson squad is investigating a fire early yesterday that gutted six condominium buildings under construction on land sold in a controversial deal by the Société d’habitation et de développement de Montréal, the city’s private real estate corporation.

The blaze near de Grosbois St. in the city’s east end destroyed 96 affordable-housing condo units. About 40 families were to move in on July 1.

The blaze was on the 38-hectare Faubourg Contrecoeur site, land sold in 2007 to the F. Catania real estate company for $4.4 million even though the land had been evaluated at $31 million. The firm is owned by developer Frank Catania.

Families had bought condo units on the site for between $120,000 and $200,000 through the Accès Condos program offered by the SHDM. The program offers a 10-per-cent purchase credit that can be used as a down payment on the purchase of a property.

“They are quite worried and they have a lot of questions,” Stéphanie Gareau, an SHDM spokesperson, said about the condo owners.

“For now, we’re waiting to see what the site owner will do with its insurer and what kind of options it will offer the families.”

André Fortin, president of Groupe Immobilier Catania, owner of the Faubourg Contrecoeur site, said the fire burned all but the four-storey buildings’ foundations.

“It’s a total loss,” he said, estimating the damage at about $10 million. The fire department ordered the shells of the buildings torn down yesterday, he added.

The six buildings sat on 72,000 square feet of land, one of the few built-up sections on the vast Faubourg Contrecoeur site, which is intended to include 1,800 housing units.

Although the company plans to start rebuilding the condos right away, the most optimistic date for move-ins is Oct. 1, Fortin said.

Families who cannot stay where they now live beyond July 1 may have to be re-housed temporarily, he said.

It has not been determined where they will stay and who will pay for their lodgings.

Fortin and the SHDM plan to meet early next week, and Fortin said, “We should have answers for the condo owners starting Tuesday.”

Catania is insured by Lloyd’s of London.

Jean Leblanc, chief of operations with the Montreal fire department, said the blaze started about 5:40 a.m. and spread quickly because the vacant buildings contained wood and other combustible materials, and had no sprinkler system. Dark smoke billowing from the fire could be seen kilometres away.

No injuries were reported. It took about 100 firefighters approximately three hours to bring the four-alarm blaze under control. Firefighters stayed for several more hours to completely douse the site.

Asked last night about developments, Montreal police Constable Yannick Ouimet would say only: “The investigation is continuing.”

The burned condo remnants are on a newly extended part of de Grosbois St. that is not paved. The site in the Mercier/Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough is next to the old Lafarge Quarry, one reason it needed to be decontaminated before construction of the condos started last fall.

Fortin rejected the idea the site’s controversial 2007 sale might have provoked someone to set the fire.

“I would be very, very surprised if that had anything to do with this fire,” he said.

The Catania company had instituted a surveillance committee with local residents to watch over the site, he added.

“There was a lot of vigilance and we never had any threats,” Fortin said.

He stressed that although the arson squad is investigating the fire, that does not mean it was deliberately set.

“We had construction workers there (Thursday),” he said. “Anything could have happened. Someone could have dropped a cigarette.”

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Protesters facing court injunction
Developer fed up with land dispute

February 25, 2009
Rachel De Lazzer
The Hamilton Spectator
HAGERSVILLE (Feb 25, 2009) [Six Nations territory, Ontario]

Pressure was mounting yesterday for natives to leave a housing development site where construction has been delayed for four months.

Developer Voortman & Associates Ltd. is seeking a court injunction to keep natives away from the site and plans to be on site at least four days this week.

The natives have blocked workers from developing the 46-unit condominium site on Main Street North several times.

Company officer John Voortman says he’s at “wit’s end” trying to move things forward on the 2.4-hectare site.

Workers returned to the site Monday for the third time since seeking the injunction last fall, only to be prevented by about 10 members of the men’s fire circle, parking their cars in front of one of the excavators.

Natives arrived at 6:30 a.m. yesterday before the workers, who planned to return today and tomorrow.

“Every day (the contractor) is there and not able to work, I’m sure it’s going to cost a few thousand dollars easy,” Voortman said.

OPP officers told him yesterday that they would read a declaration to the natives every day and ask them to leave.

“They’re going to say that we own the land, we have total rights to the land and we’re able to work on the land and they have no rights to be there,” Voortman added. “They will give them 15 minutes to vacate the site and then after that they could be charged with mischief.”

Voortman says he is still waiting for a court date for the injunction. He says the natives are stalling and previous court dates for the injunction have been postponed twice.

Both sides were in court Feb. 13 when three members of the men’s fire circle asked that the hearing be delayed a few weeks until they could bring someone from their circle with the appropriate authority.

Workers attempted to resume construction in October and again in December.

A member of the men’s fire circle who goes by the name Whoodat, said they would stay on the land until the workers left.

OPP Detective Matt Watson said criminal charges would be laid if any actions meet the criteria.

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Arson suspected after fire burns construction site

Updated: Sun Feb. 22 2009
ctvtoronto.ca [Ontario]

An early-morning fire has destroyed a group of Mississauga townhouses near Burnhamthorpe Road East and Ponytrail Drive.

It is the third time in less than a week that a construction site in the west end has caught on fire.

Const. Wayne Patterson of Peel Regional Police told ctvtoronto.ca the townhouses were “fully engulfed in flames” when emergency crews were called to the scene at around 1:45 a.m. on Sunday morning. It took about an hour to extinguish the blaze.

The townhouses were still under construction, Patterson said, and the fire damaged eight townhouse units. There are about 20 units in the complex.

He said the fire will be treated as suspicious until proven otherwise.

Mike Head, platoon chief with Mississauga Fire Emergency Services, told ctvtoronto.ca that the units were about 60 per cent complete.

“It’s suspicious because the units were unoccupied and there was no hydro connected to the units so there was nothing to ignite the fire,” he said Sunday afternoon.

An investigator with the Fire Marshal’s Office agreed, telling reporters at the scene that “there’s nothing in there accidentally that caused this fire.”

The FMO, Peel police and MFES are still at the scene, surveying the damage, which is estimated to be at around $1 million, Head said.

The developer of the project said they will rebuild the homes.

“It’s not something we wanted to see happen but we’ll rebuild and get past it,” Julien Diciano, with Dunpar Homes Inc., told CTV Toronto.

The fire also damaged Rogers cables that provide Internet and Internet phone service to area residents.

More than 400 customers living in the area bordered by Bough Beeches Boulevard, Ponytrail Drive, Etobicoke Creek and Fieldgate Drive were affected.

Workers were on the scene all day repairing the damage but customers will likely not see a return of their services any earlier than Sunday afternoon.

Last week, Peel police investigated two separate incidents in Brampton. Two residential construction sites, just blocks away from each other caught on fire, destroying a row of homes.

Authorities say they suspect the fires were caused by an arsonist but can’t confirm if there is a link between the three incidents.

“Right now it’s just another set of townhouses, same set of circumstances, but right now there’s nothing to suggest that they’re linked or anything like that,” said Mike Ross with the OFM.

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Protesters stop work on housing project

Friday, January 23, 2009

Workers will be off the job today at the Empire Homes housing development on Conklin Road after native protesters halted the project.

A representative of Empire Homes said the company voluntarily shut down work at the site Thursday and will remain off work today.

Mary Morrello, of Empire Communities, downplayed Thursday’s protest, saying the company is holding talks with native representatives.

“We are totally onside with the aboriginals and understand their plight 100 per cent but we also have a clean title to the lands, so there’s a bigger issue here than us,” she said.

“We wish we could help them but the issue is so big, it’s beyond us.”

Morrello said that, despite some of the catcalls from construction workers Thursday morning, the protest was peaceful.

“The workers were upset because this is their livelihood but the construction superintendent has spoken to the tradespeople. We just want peace.”

Construction workers yelled at about 15 to 20 protesters as a dozen police officers tried to form a line between the two groups.

About 50 to 60 Empire workers left the site, said protester Gene Johns.

“They’re not supposed to be digging here,” said Johns. “This is the third time we’ve been here and they won’t listen.”

Johns said he represents the Six Nations Confederacy and the community.

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Firebombing mystifies former oil sands executive

The Globe and Mail
January 13, 2009

EDMONTON [Alberta] — A former top oil executive and his wife are searching for answers after the firebombing of their Edmonton home on the weekend left them homeless.

“My wife and I are deeply saddened by the loss of our home and our personal possessions,” Jim Carter, a former Syncrude Canada Ltd. president and chief operating officer, said in a statement yesterday.

“At the moment, we have very little information about what may have transpired or why,” Mr. Carter said.

Patrycia Thenu, an Edmonton police spokeswoman, said investigators are still hunting for a motive in the arson case, including possible connections to eco-terrorism. “Nothing has been ruled out,” she said.

Edmonton police revealed yesterday that several Molotov cocktails were recovered inside the charred remains of the Carters’ luxury home in a southwest Edmonton neighbourhood.

A witness reported seeing four youths running from the area at the time the fire began on Saturday around 8 p.m., according to police.

Nobody was in the two-storey home at the time of the blaze, and damage is estimated at $850,000.

Ms. Thenu said investigators have also not found any evidence linking this case to deliberate fire-bombings in another Edmonton neighbourhood last year.

Mr. Carter and his wife, Lorraine Bray, a psychologist, are well known in Edmonton and have six grown children.

Mr. Carter worked for Syncrude, one of Alberta’s largest oil sands companies, for 27 years before retiring in 2007. The mining industry veteran is credited with helping to build Alberta’s oil sands industry.

Last year, the provincial government asked him to chair a council studying how carbon capture and storage technology can be better used in Alberta.

The province is under intense pressure from environmental groups to solve the problem of its so-called dirty oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Paul Joosse, a University of Alberta researcher and eco-terrorism expert, said because of Mr. Carter’s deep connections to the oil industry, it’s wise for the police to not rule out environmental extremism.

However, he said it’s still too early in the investigation to jump to conclusions, and that eco-terrorism attacks of this nature against oil executives in Canada are unheard of.

Mr. Joosse noted that one U.S. environmental group uses arson in its attacks.

However, he added that it, along with other environmental groups, routinely claim responsibility for their actions.

“That hasn’t happened here,” he said.

Edmonton-based Greenpeace Canada activist Mike Hudema agrees that there are no tell-tale signs yet that Mr. Carter and his wife were targeted because of his links to the oil industry.

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RCMP probing new B.C. pipeline bombing

The Canadian Press
January 5, 2009

TOMSLAKE, B.C. — EnCana’s natural gas infrastructure in northern British Columbia has been the target of a fourth explosion, but officials with the Calgary-based energy giant still don’t know why it is the focus of a bomber’s anger.

Gas line workers discovered a partially destroyed metering shed on Sunday at a wellhead near the community of Tomslake, southeast of Dawson Creek on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains.

There was no damage to the wellhead and no leak, said a spokesman with EnCana.

It’s the fourth attack in three months on EnCana natural gas operations in the area, located about 1,200 kilometres northeast of Vancouver near the B.C.-Alberta boundary.

The blasts began on Oct. 12, when a pipeline was damaged. Another pipeline was hit on Oct. 16, causing a small leak, and an explosion at a wellhead on Oct. 31 also caused a leak.

The first three explosions involved pipelines or wellheads carrying sour gas — which contains toxic hydrogen sulphide.

EnCana spokesman Alan Boras said it’s not clear whether the latest wellhead targeted also contains sour gas, but he said in any event all of the operations in the area only contain small amounts of hydrogen sulphide.

“Typically the wells in that area contain a trace,” said Mr. Boras.

The attacks revealed local anxiety about the area’s rapidly growing natural gas industry.

They were preceded by a threatening letter demanding oil and gas operations be stopped, prompting the RCMP to speculate that the explosions are likely the work of someone from the area with a grudge against EnCana.

EnCana has long insisted it has a positive relationship with locals, and Mr. Boras said the company still doesn’t know why it’s been targeted.

“Generally speaking, the relationship has been very good,” said Mr. Boras.

“From time to time, obviously people have concerns, but that’s part of the normal course of business but we work hard to understand their concerns.”

Last month, the company announced it had set up a dedicated telephone line so whoever is responsible for the explosions could call to discuss their concerns.

Mr. Boras said he couldn’t say whether anyone took the company up on the offer because that would be part of the police investigation.

Also last month, police released eight video surveillance images from a local drug store taken on the day the letter was mailed in October.

Seven of the eight people have since been identified and ruled out as suspects, while the identity of the eighth, a woman, is still unknown.

There are more than 4,000 producing oil and gas wells in British Columbia, all in the northeastern part of the province.

The industry has seen massive growth since the mid-90s, with provincial revenues jumping from $370-million in 1996 to $2.5-billion in 2006 — mostly related to natural gas projects.

The explosions brought back memories of Wiebo Ludwig’s campaign against Alberta’s oil patch in the 1990s.

The Alberta farmer, who blamed the industry for hurting his family, his land and his livestock, spent nearly two years in prison for charges related to bombings and vandalism.

Police said they have spoken with Ludwig as part of their investigation, but don’t consider him a suspect.

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Shots fired, valves damaged at B.C. natural gas sites

The Canadian Press

December 18, 2008

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Several natural gas well sites in northeastern British Columbia have been targeted by vandals but RCMP in Fort St. John, B.C., aren’t immediately linking the attacks to three earlier bombings of EnCana pipelines.

Investigators say valves were tampered with and shots were fired at well sites operated by Iteration Energy and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.

RCMP describe the incidents as mischief and say the attacks appear to have occurred up to one week ago on wells operated by the two Alberta-based exploration and resource extraction companies.

The well sites are located in rural areas northeast of Fort St. John and no homes are nearby.

Members of the Fort St. John serious crimes unit are investigating and say there is no evidence suggesting the incidents are related to the recent targeted attacks on EnCana well sites.

Three bombings in October aimed at EnCana’s natural gas operations near Dawson Creek are still being investigated by RCMP.

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