December 13, 2019

Federal government claims Taseko Mines stopped paying environmental assessment bills after panel report critical of New Prosperity mine

BIV's lawsuit of the week

New Prosperity mine site | Photo: NewProsperityProject via YouTube

The federal government is suing Taseko Mines Ltd. for costs incurred for environmental assessment work on the company’s New Prosperity mine project done between 2013 and 2014, claiming Taseko has wrongfully refused to pay more than $870,000.

The Impact Assessment Agency, formerly known as the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on December 3. The agency, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, claims Taseko submitted its original project description in August 2011 for the New Prosperity Gold and Copper Mine Project, triggering an environmental assessment by a three-member panel established in May 2012.

According to the claim, project proponents are “responsible for certain costs” incurred for environmental assessments, originally estimated at $2.2 million. The agency began invoicing Taseko for environmental assessment work in August 2012.

“Work conducted by the Panel, its secretariat, and the [Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency] was conducted in multiple provinces, including different parts of British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec and areas in between,” the claim states, adding that “costs of an environmental assessment are not limited by the cost estimate provided at the initiation of an environmental assessment.”

The agency later revised its estimate, which increased to $2,525,000 in July 2013. The company, meanwhile, paid more than $1 million in invoices between August 2013 and September 2013, a month before the panel found the project “would likely cause significant adverse environmental effects, many of which could not be mitigated.”                  

Thereafter, the Impact Assessment Agency claims, Taseko stopped paying invoices for the environmental assessment work, prompting a demand letter to pay eight invoices totalling $871,450 in March 2017.

“Taseko responded with a letter denying it owed any of the Debts and refusing to pay any of the Debts,” the claim states. “To date, Taseko has failed to pay any of the Debts.”

The agency seeks judgment in the amounts owed on the eight invoices and interest. The allegations have not been tested or proven in court and Taseko had not responded to the claim by press time.


A 2019 inventory of mea culpas, reflections and 2020 predictions

A column is one part reflection, one part conclusion, one part prediction, one part contrition. At times I thought, decided, anticipated and erred in 2019. Here are some mistakes:

1. I assumed that a national leader discovered to have dressed in blackface at any point in his life couldn’t get elected any longer at any point in his life. But I guess we either forgive and forget or shrug and subsist.

2. I am well past presuming Donald Trump is down for the count – those were 2017 and 2018 mistakes – but I thought Boris Johnson would never make it to an election.

3. I thought that, no matter the mind-numbing delays and puck-ragging of the Horgan government, we would have ride-hailing and not just cab-hailing before holiday shopping season.

4. I expected headwinds to hit the province’s economy, but the sky hasn’t fallen and the only marching in the street seems to be demanding faster action on the change in climate that the unfallen sky will eventually deliver.

5. I predicted a Grey Cup and a sale for the BC Lions. Won’t get out on that limb again easily.

6. I thought we would have sorted out the Meng Wanzhou, Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor, Huawei-5G and China-U.S.-Canada trade disputes by now. Nothing snappy or witty to say about this. A true shambles.

7. I was positive the only movie of the eight nominated that wouldn’t win the best-picture Oscar was Green Book.

8. I predicted we would understand by year’s end what a “digital technology supercluster” means, but 2019 prompted us to also understand what a “transatlantic cluster collaboration” means, and frankly, I think that’s just too much to fathom for a country that elects people who wore blackface.

9. I was confident Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon would face some sort of corporate income tax reckoning in Canada. They were saved by the election bell.

10. I was certain Surrey would not replace its police force, change its transit plan or get serious about building canals. But I’ve never seen the likes of Doug McCallum, nor have I particularly sought the opportunity.

That being sadly said, I have some predictions and hope the worst ones will be forgotten by this time next year:

1. Our province will run a deficit by year’s end and people will not much care.

2. We will experience a recession, but it will be mild compared with what other continents, other countries and other provinces experience.

3. The federal Liberals will propose to raise the capital gains inclusion rate to 75% from 50% in order to win NDP support of its budget, pay for recent increases in the basic exemption and mitigate its deficit.

4. The next president of the United States will be neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden, but then again, I didn’t believe in Green Book.

5. We will get neither $10-a-day child care, nor ample affordable housing, nor the Massey tunnel replacement, nor a fixed ICBC, nor make a dent in homelessness, conquer the opioid crisis or systematically contend with mental health challenges. Taxes will grow, services and support will shrink. Our ride-hailing regime will be lightweight. Yet the provincial government’s popularity will improve.

6. The Canucks, Whitecaps and Lions will make the playoffs, and the province will reverse its decision that turned down the 2026 World Cup in Vancouver. Apart from women in the pool at the Summer Olympics, there will be only one Canadian champion on the world sports stage: Bianca Andreescu will win Wimbledon.

7. Of the Meng, Kovrig, Spavor, Huawei-5G and China trade matters, only Huawei’s quest to bring 5G to Canada will be resolved and only to offer the company’s technology part-entry into the country. No Meng release, no trade or prisoner relief. Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, will be replaced.

8. One and possibly two municipal parties will launch in Vancouver.

9. In keeping with the awarding of the best picture for not the best picture, The Irishman will win the Oscar.

10. Between the time I first predicted this and the time it was edited, Andrew Scheer lost his job. Andrew Weaver will get a big new job. Andrew Wilkinson will keep his job. 

Kirk LaPointe is editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver and vice-president, editorial, at Glacier Media.


Team behind one of Vancouver's top restaurants opening Italian-American BBQ spot

Say Mercy! plans to open in January 2020

Say Mercy! on Fraser Street in Vancouver will feature Italian food through the lens of American BBQ. Photo via @saymercyyvr/Instagram

There's an intriguing new concept launching in the new year on Fraser Street, and it comes from the talented team behind one of Vancouver’s top restaurants, The Mackenzie Room. Marrying the worlds of Italian fare and American BBQ, Say Mercy! is moving into the space vacated earlier this year by the Dark Manor Inn.

Say Mercy! is the project of The Mackenzie Room's Andrew Jameson, Chef Sean Reeve, and Antonio Cayonne. Reeve's culinary experiences inspired the theme, which is allowing him to bring together two seemingly divergent cuisines in one spot.

"I was classically trained in Italy and fell in love with the simplicity of Italian cuisine – but the first kitchens I worked in that made me want to be a Chef were barbeque spots full of smoke, whiskey, and swine," says Reeve in a media release.

Reeve adds that the cuisines have remarkable commonalities, which his menu will reflect. Diners can expect things like starters, pastas, and larger-format dishes for the table to share, such as whole fish preparations or a Florentine t-bone steak. 

There will be a wine program that includes global selections with an emphasis on Italy.

Say Mercy! will be open seven nights a week, with dinner service beginning at 5 p.m.

The 60-seat restaurant has been undergoing a transformation from its former - albeit brief - tenure as the themed "haunted" whiskey bar, Dark Manor Inn. Currently Say Mercy! is looking to be open in January 2020. 

Say Mercy! will be located at 4298 Fraser Street in Vancouver

Vancouver Is Awesome


At this cozy cabin getaway spot near Vancouver you can watch eagles soar and search for Sasquatch

Watch eagles soaring above along the Harrison River | Photo: Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome

For an easy road trip that’s just about a two-hour drive from Vancouver, Harrison Mills and Harrison Hot Springs make for a cozy off-season getaway for families, couples, and adventurers alike.

Cozy up in a charming cottage along the Harrison River, where you can step outside and witness beautiful eagles soaring above. Then, after a quick drive, take a soothing dip in the hot springs pool, eat delicious food, search for the elusive Sasquatch.

Book a cozy cabin stay

Rowena’s Inn on the River is situated in Harrison Mills, B.C. and is a boutique resort with golf course that has been welcoming guests since 1995. The property was first developed a century ago by the Pretty family, though the last surviving member of the family opted to sell it to Sandpiper Resort, who has operated it since 2016.


Rowena’s Inn has recently opened three tiers of new luxury cabins on the property. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome

Guests staying at Rowena’s are either in the manor house or in private cottages that are outfitted with all the amenities of home, including roomy bathtubs for soaking your cares away, and romantic fireplaces for evening cuddles. Rowena’s recently debuted a slate of brand-new one-, two-, and three-bedroom luxury cabins, complete with gas fireplaces and TVs (if you want your fireplace snuggle paired with cable or your Netflix or Disney+ account – both apps are built in).

The new cabins are spacious and well-equipped, including a full-size fridge and kitchen gear (everything but a stove/oven) and are just a stone’s throw from the original cottages on site, giving you easy access to walking trails, the golf course, and the clubhouse restaurant.

Go eagle watching


You’ll see eagles catching salmon from the river as you walk along the eagle-watching trail at Rowena’s in Harrison Mills. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome

Bald eagles are a huge part of the draw at Rowena’s – in fact, the property prides itself on offering prime eagle viewing. Whether you are just a casual observer or a dedicated eagle-eyed eagle watcher or photographer, you will definitely see plenty of the majestic birds during your stay as they swoop from their tree-top perches to the river to get their salmon. There’s a marked trail that leads to a viewing deck along the river’s edge where you can set up a watching post, however you will also spy eagles just as you move about the resort property.

Explore Harrison Hot Springs

As their motto goes, Harrison Hot Springs really is “just up the road.” Not only is it an easy drive from Metro Vancouver (and can be a lovely leisurely one if you take the Lougheed Highway, aka the “Scenic 7”) but if you’re based at Rowena’s at Harrison Mills, the charming lakeside down is just a short drive away.


A rainbow over Harrison Lake in Harrison Hot Springs. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome

In Harrison Hot Springs you can walk along the lakeshore and Esplanade, poke in the gift shops, take a soothing swim in the public hot springs pool, and enjoy the surrounding nature.

Search for Sasquatch


Look for Sasquatch while in Harrison Hot Springs. You might find a few! Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome

The legend of Sasquatch looms large in the region. Particularly ideal for families, there’s a self-guided Sasquatch “trail” in Harrison Hot Springs you can follow, which makes for a fun way to see the sights, learn a bit, and enjoy the day away. Start off at Tourism Harrison Hot Springs’ office on your way into town (well, first you may want to stop at the welcome sign for your first big photo-op) and check out the Sasquatch Museum.

As you make your way around town, keep an eye out for all sorts of tributes to the Sasquatch. They make for great selfie spots, and are a lot safer than running into the real deal.

Eat delicious food

If you’re staying at Rowena’s, you’re in luck – the Clubhouse restaurant on site is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. They focus on local and seasonal ingredients, so you’ll find things like Harrison salmon and Fraser Valley Duck in dishes, or beautiful B.C. strawberries in their crave-worthy strawberry balsamic salad dressing. Daytime eats lean towards the casual – including portable breakfast eats like bagels and smoked salmon or a breakfast sandwich for golfers or explorers on the go. Come dinnertime, they have a range of salads, soups, appies, and mains, including house specials like a salmon Wellington, roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, and Schnitzel. Their weekend brunch spread is a standout, with everything from build your own tacos to waffles and whipped cream.


A salmon burger at Muddy Waters Cafe in Harrison Hot Springs. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome

Down the road in Harrison Hot Springs, look for spots that celebrate all things local, like Muddy Waters Cafe, a casual bistro that features affordable, approachable fare that often showcases local bounty. Even somewhere like the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory takes a cue from the local scene; owner Mark Schweinbenz makes chocolate Sasquatch feet available on sticks, or big caramel ones loaded with toppings for an extra sugar rush.

Enjoy the drive

It’s worthwhile to make the time to take the slower route on Highway 7 for some or all of your trip out to Harrison Mills and Harrison Hot Springs. Called the “Scenic 7,” you can wind your way through diverse landscape and choose your own adventure along the way. Do some shopping, get fresh-made cheese from local producers, go on hikes, or just enjoy the views.

Thanks to Rowena’s Inn on the River and Tourism Harrison and their partners for their assistance with facilitating portions of this trip. All opinions and inclusions are those of the author’s and were not guided or influenced in any way by the facilitators. 

Vancouver Is Awesome


Here are the 9 cheapest sun destinations to visit from Vancouver this winter

Ochos Rios, Jamaica | Photo: Shutterstock

Kayak, a global travel search engine, has revealed its list of the cheapest warm weather destinations for Vancouverites to travel to this winter. 

The company notes that the Caribbean offers the greatest number of affordable travel options for Vancouver residents, with a whopping six out of nine countries on the list. 

Panama City came in first place, with a median roundtrip airfare from Vancouver of $545 CAD. Tropical Ochos Rios, Jamaica placed second, with a median roundtrip airfare of $599 CAD. Vientiane, Laos came third, with a median roundtrip airfare of $625 CAD. 

Simpson Bay, St. Maarten placed fourth, with Nassau, Bahamas following in fifth. George Town, Cayman Islands came sixth, with Oranjestad, Aruba placing seventh. 

Macau, China and Libera, West Afria rounded out the list placing eighth and ninth, respectively. 

Cheapest Sun Destinations 

·       Panama City, Panama - $545 CAD median roundtrip airfare

·       Ochos Rios, Jamaica - $599 CAD median roundtrip airfare

·       Vientiane, Laos - $625 CAD median roundtrip airfare

·       Simpson Bay, St. Maarten - $638 CAD median roundtrip airfare

·       Nassau, Bahamas - $642 CAD median roundtrip airfare

·       George Town, Cayman Islands - $674 CAD median roundtrip airfare

·       Oranjestad, Aruba - $678 CAD median roundtrip airfare

·       Macau, China - $712 CAD median roundtrip airfare

·       Liberia, West Africa - $726 CAD median roundtrip airfare

To make things easier for those looking to leave the cold weather behind, KAYAK has also created guides that allows users to plan, store and share travel experiences with trusted friends, family and fellow travellers. Travelers are able to map out their itineraries and keep notes of memorable places to ensure ease of travel as well as share their memories with their loved ones when they return home. 

Vancouver Is Awesome


What are we reading? December 12, 2019


Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.

Kirk LaPointe, editor-in-chief:

Marriage Story is one of the best movies of the year. A couples therapist has a look-see. – The Atlantic


The discriminatory approaches of some of JPMorgan’s employees were captured on tape by a client and an employee. An unflattering picture emerges. – The New York Times


An insightful piece on the near-reclusive Vancouver writer William Gibson and his methods of generating some of the most fascinating science fiction. – The New Yorker


Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Here's another look at how much it's going to cost to get green with energy. Might be less than you think. – DNV-GL


Is the World Trade Organization too damaged to operate effectively? – Peterson Institute for International Economics


Babbel recently released its 2019 list of the top 10 mispronounced words:

Anyone want to take a stab at Eliud Kipchoge of Flygskam? – Insider


Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

With NAFTA 2.0, Canada has officially become a “vassal state” of the U.S., says Irvin Studin, president of the Institute for 20th Century Questions think tank. – Star


Sustainable tech entrepreneur Asad Hamir warns that there are e-waste is an overlooked menace: “There are more mobiles in the world than there are people, and those phones are a particular threat to the global environment. They are often designed with planned obsolescence, meaning that once we upgrade after a year or two, our old phones often end up in our desk drawers and eventually landfill.” – euronews


Nelson Bennett, reporter:

It’s estimated that between 2,000 and 4,500 children in undeveloped countries in Africa and Asia die every day from vitamin A deficiency, and according to the World Health Organization, 250,000 to 500,000 children go blind every year. Yet environmental groups like Greenpeace continue to campaign against Golden Rice, a genetically modified strain of rice that would give people in poor countries, who often eat little else but rice, sufficient levels of vitamin A to prevent these deaths and blindness. In this opinion piece, the three scientists who developed Golden Rice talk about their frustrations with environmental groups like Greenpeace and their questionable motives. – Leapsmag


Life after coal. The town of Coronach, Saskatchewan is facing the loss of 300 jobs over the next 10 years with the phasing out of coal power. Global News looks at how the town is already studying how to make the transition to a coal-free future. – Global News


Tyler Orton, reporter:

2019 Global AI talent report breaks down how Canada is punching above its weight in terms of cultivating AI talent. The problem, however, is the country is performing far below average in terms of women in this sector. A BIV story coming out soon will look into how one B.C. organization is launching efforts to change that. Element AI 


As if climbing to the peak of Everest could be any less appealing to me … this story digs into the incredibly dangerous traffic jam that unfolded (and got exposure via a viral photo) at the top of the world. GQ