August 5, 2022

Lawsuit of the week: Environmental groups take feds and oil companies to court to stop ‘unlawful’ rubber-stamping of oil and gas permit extensions

Anton Petrus-Getty Images

The David Suzuki Foundation and World Wildlife Fund Canada are taking the federal government and two oil companies to court, claiming the minister of Natural Resources Canada has been wrongfully rubber-stamping extensions of offshore oil and gas permits in marine protected areas off the B.C. coast for years.

In a notice of application filed in the Federal Court of Canada on July 26, the environmental groups name the natural resources minister, the attorney general of Canada, Chevron Canada Ltd. and ExxonMobil Canada Properties as respondents. 

According to the application, the minister has been unlawfully extending the terms of the companies’ offshore exploration permits that fall within the Scott Islands Protected Maritime Area and the Hecate/Strait/Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Area. The applicants claim the policy of indefinitely extending the terms of the permits contravenes the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. 

“Both protected areas are of outstanding ecological value and vulnerable to damage from human impacts, including oil and gas activities,” the application states. “The applicants have a genuine interest in protecting the marine environment against the threats posed by offshore oil and gas activities and in ensuring that the minister complies with the mandatory duties that parliament has imposed upon him under the act.” 

Between the two oil companies, the pair hold 20 exploration permits after they were transferred to them by their original holders. The permits date back decades, having originally been issued in the late 1960s and early 1970s under the Canada Oil and Gas Land Regulations. The permits are supposed to expire after six years but have been extended by orders-in-council after changes to the statutory framework for issuing the permits took effect in the 1980s. But the changes back then required owners to “negotiate with the minister to convert them into exploration licences.” 

The environmental groups claim those negotiations never occurred and that the permits were never properly converted into exploration licences, meaning they should have been surrendered to the minister long ago. Instead, the applicants claim the minister has just extended the terms of the permits in a way that “circumvents” the statutory scheme governing the permitting and licensing process. 

The extension policy, according to the application, “purports to allow the minister and companies to achieve the very outcomes the act aims to prevent.”

“It circumvents and renders meaningless the act’s deemed surrender provision, the maximum term limits that the act establishes for exploration licences and the substantial constraints the act imposes on the minister’s power to extend exploration licences,” the application states. 

Meanwhile, the groups claim the minister has justified the policy by pointing out that B.C. has a moratorium on offshore oil and gas activities, even though it doesn’t “legally prevent” those activities from occurring.

The David Suzuki Foundation and World Wildlife Fund Canada seek declarations that the extension policy is unlawful and that the minister has no jurisdiction to indefinitely extend the companies’ permits. In addition, they seek a declaration that the permits have expired and that the lands covered by them be surrendered to the Crown. The application’s factual basis has not been tested in court, and the companies and the Canadian government had not filed response materials by press time.


Executive exhaustion alert: rethinking ways to salvage top-end talent

Have sympathy for the boss. The era of executive exhaustion is upon us.

It is fair to say that pity is tough to muster for those up the pay grade with the privileges and the prime parking spot. But research is showing that those leaders are spent, stressed and suffering. Their influence, though, means their problems are everyone’s.

Human nature is such that people can be told to use their oxygen mask first in a troubled airplane yet many will still try first to assist those they deem in less advantaged straits. This appears to have been the general case for the C-suite in COVID: they showered greater attention to those they were leading and had less attention left to take care of themselves. It hasn’t worked out.

The result two-and-a-half years into the pandemic is a senior leadership that feels drained, contending with physical and mental health challenges, and alone and unsupported. 

More than a year ago, Deloitte Canada and LifeWorks Research Group (formerly known as Morneau Shepell) surveyed a large Canadian cohort of 1,200 leaders and found four-fifths of them were fatigued, almost all said their mental health and well-being had declined in the pandemic and half were ready to either pack it in or drastically cut their commitments. 

A year later, says Deloitte executive adviser Zabeen Hirji, there is little reason to believe those numbers would have improved. 

“The headline here for businesses is that this is not sustainable,” she says.

If 2020 and 2021 were rough waters, it’s not as if 2022 has been smooth sailing, what with inflation, borrowing cost increases, supply chain snafus, labour shortages and the Russian invasion of Ukraine layering on the sheer insecurity and impact of the coronavirus, the restructuring of how and where many of us work and the physical restrictions and their social implications.

I accept this study’s credibility from experience and attest to what I have seen among business leaders in this community. The weariness took some time to strike. 

The urgency and uncertainty in those early months hit people differently – as in how soon, how severe, not if but when – and managers were called upon in ways they’d never been. Some, as I sensed it, didn’t take sufficient care of themselves to be the best leaders for others. They didn’t adhere to a leadership principle that you could only be a strong leader if you ensured you were strong, period.

Hirji sees no choice but to fix what ails the leader: “If they’re not healthy … then the quality of their decisions will suffer.”

Rather than take another study that would likely find the same characteristics, Deloitte and LifeWorks instead unfurled a playbook last week that boards would be wise to digest for the operational chiefs they guide. 

The first step: there is a deep need to suffocate the stigma about mental health and acknowledge that even at the top, sometimes even more at the top, most everyone is susceptible to stretches of psychological challenges. 

The place to start is with managers themselves, because the study found four in 10 had a “self-stigma” about accepting, even acknowledging, their mental health challenges. Likely that’s in part because more than half feared that would be costly to their careers. Thus the need for companies to create workspaces of psychological safety, to invest in training and resources and to recognize the value of leaders discussing vulnerabilities. 

The second area is a more challenging one, because it calls upon a dropping of the dukes in exchange for a buddy system – peer support in place of careerist combat – as a method to restore productivity and well-being. In many instances (thankfully not the one I occupy), this requires a change in the ultra-competitive, zero-sum-gamesmanship of workplace politics. 

One would think that collaborative survivalism would be self-evident by now, but I talk to many managers who say they feel more distant and distrusting and resentful of their colleagues, so their situations and likely many others remain worrisome and will be difficult to unpack.

The most profound recommendations concern the response to the pandemic executive with one foot out the door, because they call for a rethinking of work to salvage the talent at the top. This is a great objective in principle, a formidable task in practice. 

For most every firm, this requires a reconsideration of time management that on the surface takes your best-rewarded talent and demands less – less presence, less facetime, less bossiness, if you will – in the hope you eventually get more. It requires delegation and a relinquishing of power, difficult to do when the pandemic itself has left many managers feeling as if they have lost control and no longer have as many answers.

It would feel risky at first to entrench as permanent and not just pandemic-era the shortened meetings with fewer participants, the designated me-time to recharge and the commitment to flexibility on where and how work is conducted. 

That wasn’t the archetype the corporate world created. Given the research, though, what other choice is there? •

Kirk LaPointe is publisher and editor-in-chief of BIV and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.


8 of the best B.C. beaches to visit before summer ends

Put these beautiful beaches on your must-see list before fall

The beach at San Josef Bay, Cape Scott Provincial Park, Northern Vancouver Island, B.C. is one of the many incredible beaches in the province to put on your end-of-summer bucket list | Photo: edb3_16/iStock/Getty Images

Back-to-school ads are on the radio and TV and we are holding on to this month for dear life, determined to get every last drop of summer out of August. 

While the airports and travel are in chaos it might be worth looking to our own backyard for a place to enjoy the last of the summer sun. British Columbia has tens of thousands of kilometres of coastline. Vancouver itself has nine beaches which offer 18 km of outdoor space, including one of which was named among the top 10 in Canada by Lonely Planet. That's not to mention the thousands of lakes and rivers to be found inland across the province. 

We have rounded up eight of our favourite B.C. beaches for sunbathing, swimming, water sports, and exploring that we think are worth adding to your list of last-minute summer plans.

Lower Mainland

Spanish Banks

At low tide, the beach at Spanish Banks stretches on for a kilometre before you reach the water. Located along Northwest Marine Dr the beach is composed of three distinct sections, east, west, and extension. It's one of the most popular beaches in Vancouver so it can get quite crowded but some people prefer a more lively vibe for their beach days without reaching drum circle levels. Parking is $3.50 an hour or $13 for the day and from now until labour day there is a water wheelchair available.

White Pine Beach

White Pine Beach is in the northeastern corner of Sasamat Lake which is one of the warmest lakes in Metro Vancouver. Located 11 km north of Port Moody it's a popular spot in the summer for swimming. White Pine Beach also connects with a larger trail system wrapping around Sasamat Lake most of it is relatively flat and there are several beachy spots along the trail where people can access the water.

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Sunshine Coast

Buccaneer Bay Provincial Park

Thomanby Island is a bit of a trek since it's only accessible by boat but once you're on the Sunshine Coast it's only a short water taxi journey from Secret Cove and you may even encounter some orcas along the way. The water is shallow and warm along the sandy shoreline which is officially called Buccaneer Bay Provincial Park and at night there are phosphorescence in the water and endless stars above. There are a few tent pads along the shore but it's first come first serve so it's best to go during the week to secure a spot, otherwise it makes for a great day trip.

Davis Bay

Davis Bay is on a bend of highway between Roberts Creek and Sechelt. It hosts an annual sandcastle building competition and when the tide is out it's a great place to skimboard. The adjoining pier often has people dropping crab traps off of the end. The unobstructed view across the water to Vancouver Island is a beautiful place to catch the sunset or watch windsurfers. And the Wobbly Canoe has an awesome patio and happy hour for when the sun gets too much.

Vancouver Island

Cape Scott Provincial Park

Cape Scott has over 30 kilometres of remote beachfront connected by the rugged rugged North Coast Trail. Nels Bight and San Josef Bay are the most pristine of the remote beaches in the park and are appropriate for swimming, canoeing, and kayaking. Fishing is also permitted in the park with a licence. San Josef Bay has soft sand and beautiful sea stacks, rock formations springing from the ground, topped with baby trees and is accessible by a one-hour hike. Plus you can camp directly on the beach.

Chesterman Spit

Tofino gets a lot of attention and rightly so, Long Beach was just named one of the top 100 beaches in the world. But there is one beach that is loved by locals and often overlooked by tourists with a sand spit that stretches out to Frank Island where there's an Eagles nest that's been there for years and hosts babies each spring. It's only accessible at low tide but even when it's covered Chesterman Beach is full of other things to see. Tidal pools bursting with sea stars, anemones and other marine life, the Wickaninnish Carving Shed, surfers catching waves and bright kites following the gales are all sights to look out for.

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Boyce-Gyro Beach

This lakeside beach is one of the most well-known and popular in Kelowna but that just means it has all of the amenities within reach. Boyce-Gryo Beach is equipped with concession stands, a rope swing, volleyball courts, a children's playground with a waterpark, equipment rentals, picnic areas and a public washroom. It's a great spot for adults looking to lounge but with small kids in tow who need things to entertain them.

Okanagan Lake Beach

There are a lot of reasons to visit Okanagan Lake Beach in Penticton. It's a sandy beach with a swimming area, floating docks and children’s slides with a nearby inflatable water park. There are also shady spots, wheelchair-access ramps, public fire pits, washrooms, and free parking. Plus if you want to mix culture with relaxation the S.S. Sicamous Museum and Heritage Park is at the end of the beach, the renovated paddlewheel ferry boat used to carry passengers up and down Okanagan Lake. The real draw however is you can pick up a bottle of wine and charcuterie box to go at one of the local wineries and enjoy it at the beach because Penticton recently became the only city in the Okanagan to allow drinking on beaches.

Vancouver Is Awesome


Annual garlic festival returns to Richmond after three-year hiatus

Enjoy garlic dishes and ice cream along with live music and a raptor demonstration at the Sharing Farm

The Richmond Garlic Fest is returning to the Sharing Farm after three years | Photo: Submitted

It's time for Richmondites to stock up on mints, just in time for the popular Richmond Garlic Fest to return next Sunday.

The family-friendly celebration of all things garlic will have over one thousand pounds of garlic for sale, including Sharing Farm Society's Red Russian, Music, and Italian softneck varieties.

Local food trucks will also be serving garlic dishes and an ice cream featuring roasted garlic. 

Garlic lovers can also enjoy a day of live music and visit the farmers market, in addition to educational activities such as bird walks and native plant walks. Workshops for garlic growing, practical farming equipment, and identifying native bees are also available.

And garlic is not the only thing returning with the festival, as the city of Richmond once again partners with the Sharing Farm Society to hold a raptor demonstration along with other birding activities.

Admission is by donation and all proceeds from the festival will go to supporting the Sharing Farm's mission to "support the Richmond Food Bank and to provide fresh, healthy, sustainably grown produce to community members facing food insecurity," reads the media release.

Parking will be limited, and attendees are encouraged to walk, take transit, or cycle. A free bike valet service will be available.

The festival will take place at the Sharing Farm in Terra Nova Rural Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. next Sunday. More details are available on the official website.

Richmond News



Free events and festivals happening around Vancouver in August

Keep your wallet at home because you won't need it🕺💸

There are plenty of fun free events happing in and around Vancouver, B.C., in August, 2022. From festivals to block and street parties to outdoor movies and a fashion show, there's so much to do! | Photo: @mayuresh.ambekar/Public Disco/Facebook

Sometimes a night out or day activity is worth every penny (like a concert or fun festival), but sometimes that penny can be better spent elsewhere. Luckily, in a city like Vancouver where rent keeps increasing (including this month too) and budgets keep decreasing, having fun and being thrifty can still go hand in hand. 

Summer is a great (if not the only) time that one can partake in so many activities with zero money required. But if you're looking for event-specific fun rather than casual activities, here's a list of several free events happening this month.

Free Public Fashion Show

The free-to-the-public event will turn Robson Square into a runway with local designers and retailers walking the catwalk. There will be a public modelling contest too with luxurious prizes, alongside drag and dancing.

When: August 12 from 5-8 p.m.

Where: Robson Square

Outdoor Movies

Not feeling like paying for popcorn and a movie (even if it's a panoramic 4D experience)? You can bring your own snacks and blankets to various free movie screenings around the city this summer.

Summer Movie Nights - every Thursday night at Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza until August 18 

Evo Summer Cinema - every Tuesday night at Second Beach until August 23

Sunset Cinema - every Wednesday night at Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza until August 31

DOXA Outdoor Screenings - on August 12 and 19 at Vancouver Public Library (Central Library Branch) from 9-10:30 p.m.

Monstercat Compound

This free music festival comes with food trucks, a beer garden, street artists creating art on-scene, the Monstercat Street Piano, an air-brush tattoo station and a gaming zone. No registration or tickets are required but those wanting to attend are encouraged to RSVP

When: August 20 from 2-9 p.m.

Where: Monstercat HQ - 380 Railway Street (from Railway to Dunlevy streets) 

Granville Promenade

Every weekend this street party will be taking over two blocks of Granville Street in the downtown core. Each day will have a different theme

When: Every Saturday and Sunday of August from 1-7 p.m. 

Where: Granville Street from Smithe to Helmcken streets

Vancouver Mural Festival

This year's festival unveils 50 new murals and celebrates Vancouver's art community with open art studios, mural tours, block parties, and a grand street party finale. The celebrations last over a week long and are free for everyone to join.

When: August 4-14 

Where: The City Centre Artist Lodge will serve as the festival hub but there will be various locations for festival events

Dungeons and Dragons and You

This free event is for fans and newcomers alike. The night will include an introduction to D&D which will teach the basics and let first-timers play a short one shot session. Those familiar with D&D are welcome to join as a player or a Dungeon Master.

When: August 18 from 6-8:30 p.m.

Where: Vancouver Public Library (Central Library Branch)

Brave Boutique

This event is for female-identifying youth aged 12 to 18. The boutique is an annual back-to-school shopping event where attendees can shop for free, book an on-site haircut or hair styling appointment, and receive a free meal. There will be new or gently used clothing, shoes, accessories, hygiene products and cosmetics to look through for a total makeover. Only 75 spots are available and youth can register online for free.

When: August 15 

Where: Central Presbyterian Church - 1155 Thurlow St

Vancouver Black Block Party

Celebrate and embrace Black culture at this free block party which will have dancing, eating and friend-making all day long.

When: August 27 from noon to 9 p.m.

Where: Vancouver Art Gallery (North Side) - 750 Hornby St

Pop Queen Cardio Community Workout

This event is making fitness fun and free. Don't worry about a lack of dance skills, the cardio workouts dance through about 10-12 tracks each week (the same songs each time) and are easy to follow. The summer series has been sashaying all summer long and will end in August. 

When: August 17 from 6-7 p.m.

Where: Jim Deva Plaza - 1200 Bute St

Pilates in The Plaza

This outdoor pop-up pilates class is open to all levels of experience and will work on core strength, muscular endurance, and body awareness. The event is free but registration is required and is a bring-you-own mat and water bottle (there will be a limited amount of mats available to borrow).

When: August 4 and 11 from 6-7 p.m.

Where: Jack Poole Plaza - 1055 Canada Place

Vancouver Is Awesome



What are we reading? August 4, 2022

ditbrooke anderson photography, Getty Images

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


Glen Korstrom, reporter:

With airlines selling tickets to flights that they know they do not have the staff to operate, here’s a good primer on how airlines negotiate compensation and what to do to maximize offers. –  Wall Street Journal


Was it irrational investors, excessive regulations or sketchy management that is most to blame for Canopy Growth Corp. plummeting from being seen as an industry behemoth to now being a basket case. 

This profile covers those bases, and examines how the global outlook for cannabis sales is much bleaker today than it was four years ago, when Canada legalized the plant for adult use and Constellation Brands invested $5 billion in Canopy Growth. – Globe and Mail


Nelson Bennett, reporter:

Why does Quebec pay lower carbon taxes than the rest of Canada? The Trudeau government’s federal carbon pricing backstop, after all, was intended to make all provinces pay the same carbon price, and those provinces that didn’t have a broad carbon tax, like Saskatchewan, now pay more in federal carbon taxes than Quebec does. As Robert Lyman points out in this opinion piece, Quebec’s cap-and-trade approach to carbon pricing means Quebecers pay $10 per tonne less than all other Canadians. Across Canada, Canadians now pay $50 per tonne; Quebecers pay $40 per tonne. On the other hand, Quebecers don’t get rebates, as residents of provinces like Saskatchewan do. – The Financial Post


Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

If there really is an electric vehicle revolution in North America, someone forgot to tell most of the United States. Axios


An in-depth BBC reality check for advocates of phasing out the use of plastics.


Meanwhile, shielding consumers from energy price hikes with government subsidies, tax cuts and price controls is bad for energy efficiency and conservation, according to the International Monetary Fund.


And in case you are wondering about the lost continent of Lemuria, here is an update from HowStuffWorks.