Living/Working

December 6, 2019

FortisBC sues insurers and designers of incinerator system after 2017 fire at Delta LNG plant

Fortis' Tilbury Island LNG plant in Delta | FortisBC

FortisBC Energy Inc. is suing a group of insurers and the designers of an incinerator that failed after a fire at the Tilbury liquefied natural gas plant in Delta in 2017.

FortisBC filed two notices of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on November 22, one lawsuit naming AIG Insurance Co. of Canada, Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Co. of Canada, Starr Insurance & Reinsurance Ltd., Temple Insurance Co., Zurich Insurance Co. Ltd., Ironshore Canada Ltd., XL Specialty Insurance Co., Catlin Canada Inc. and Lloyd’s Underwriters as defendants.

The other lawsuit, along with co-plaintiffs Bechtel Canada Co. and Bechtel Oil, Gas and Chemicals Inc., names Chart Energy & Chemicals Inc., Chart Energy Services Inc. and Thermo Design Engineering Ltd. as defendants.

In its case against the insurance companies, FortisBC alleges the firms wrongfully denied a $16 million claim under a builder’s risk policy for delay costs and other expenses. FortisBC claims that a fire in August 2017 damaged the gas plant during construction work on an expansion project, shutting down the facility until it could be repaired. As part of the shutdown process the plant’s thermal oxidizer, also called a thermal incinerator, was turned off.

But FortisBC claims the unit suffered a mechanical breakdown when the system was started up again in November 2017. The company claims the oxidizer’s breakdown “significantly delayed” operations at the Tilbury plant, causing “losses of revenue and profits.”

In the second case, FortisBC and contractor Bechtel claim Chart Energy and subcontractor Thermo Design were retained as designers for the incinerator, which failed due to alleged “design defects, oversights and deficiencies of the Incinerator.”

FortisBC and Bechtel seek unspecified damages for negligence, breach of contract and breach of duty of care. The allegations in both lawsuits have not been tested or proven in court, and none of the defendants had filed responses by press time.

 
Leading

City’s inability to economize sticks taxpayers with a bigger bill

The last person I met who agreed he liked taxes thought I was asking about the Lone Star State.

On this matter, we need to accept consensus: Houston, we have a problem.

The City of Vancouver has this year joined other communities in declaring a climate emergency. Our infrastructure needs fixing for the decades ahead.

But more imminently we have a budgetary emergency. Our balance sheet needs fixing for a negligent decade-plus.

It’s complicated.

The news sending people a-Twitter last week was council alligator-wrangling a proposed 8.2% property tax increase (9.3% including utilities) starting next April, following a 4.5% increase this year and 4.24% a year earlier. A decision on the extent of the increase – a slight shaving of the proposal at best – is due within days.

Even so, numbers do not tell the story. History helps.

We have had a housing affordability crisis in the city for some time. Our house-cost-to-income ratio is absurd. Land and construction costs make prohibitive unsubsidized affordable development. And the most substantial taxes on property – to deal with speculation and foreign ownership, and to process property transfers – head to the coffers of the province instead of staying put.

The municipal taxes and the proposed budget do little or nothing to address the challenges for those struggling with rising rents or for those navigating the labyrinth to build homes within reach of most of those who would wish to own.

At least a couple of other issues linger for renters and rentees: families will pay nearly $500 more for their food next year, and landlords will absorb much of any tax increase because rents may rise no more than 2.6% in 2020. If interest rates ever climb again, there will be hell to pay.

But before we go all anti-tax here, let us be reminded of a few other elements to provide context.  Arguably the largest was how land values rose in a feverish market of high demand in the last decade or so and taxes did not commensurately reflect the true worth of what we held. Even in boom times, residential tax increases were kept low for politically expedient reasons. Commercial taxes were oversized by comparison, a cause of no small problems for the local merchants. Meanwhile, the city grew dependent on construction-associated community amenity contributions, better known as CACs, to deflect the burden of new and maintained services on to builders and on to homebuyers. Any gesture now to suddenly tackle that land-to-tax incongruence would correctly strike people as retroactive confiscation of paper wealth. Even if other cities have higher rates, the framework for taxes in this city is essentially set in an unaffordable context in which other expenses have usurped what the city might have taken and can no longer. The ship has sailed.

The next option is the largest possible grab of what council divines owners can bear. Trouble is, it is taking steps without tracing the path predecessors pursued, where there are bound to be efficiencies.

At senior levels of government, programs face regular value-for-money audits. But there has not been a single transparent review in memory of how our community spends. Even this 659-page document doesn’t get tough on anything the city has done to propose a $1.62 billion budget. But there are “investments,” including $23.8 million called for by the new council, which has opted initially for a path of self-interest over self-critique.

There may well be intelligent initiatives in the spending measures, but the process loses credibility when it isn’t accompanied by equally intelligent efforts to economize. 

The next chapter is predictable: an easing in the final document to make us feel we have been heard. Any government conscious of its constituents would know few will experience even half of a 9.3% income growth. Its willingness to even countenance discussion of a budget like this conveys indifference to economic reality and compliance of previous administrations and current senior staff, an abrogation of the mandate from the electorate.

A year ago they were wet behind the ears; now they just lack them.

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

 
Spending

This boozy brunch will give you a taste of Vancouver’s brand new cocktail fest

The Punch Brunch event will offer a taste of what’s to come at Vancouver Cocktail Week | Shutterstock

First, a toast to the terrific news that Vancouver is set to get a brand new week-long celebration of cocktails. Vancouver Cocktail Week will take place in March 2021, and it promises to be the city’s biggest and best cocktail festival to date.

To give imbibers a preview of all the delicious tipples to come, Vancouver Cocktail Week is hosting a preview event during Dine Out Vancouver’s upcoming 2020 festival.

The Punch Brunch is a boozy brunch that will bring together some of the city’s top bartenders with delicious food at the award-winning Botanist restaurant.

The Fairmont Pacific Rim’s lush, pastel-hued and plant-filled upper level wonderland recently debuted their weekend Punch Brunch menu, and they’ll really be dialling things up a notch when Dine Out Vancouver comes around.

Punch Brunch – the event – takes place on Sunday, January 26, 2020, and will feature exceptional punch-style cocktails will be paired with a four-course, sit-down feast of executive chef Hector Laguna’s finely crafted gourmet brunch fare.

Plus, during Punch Brunch, guests can enjoy lively cocktail demonstrations from the bartenders and live jazz music to keep your toes tapping while your glasses are clinking.

Who’s pouring at Punch Brunch, you ask?

  • Amber Bruce, bar manager of the Keefer Bar (No. 2 on Canada’s 50 Best Bars) and Vancouver Magazine’s bartender of the year 2019.
  • Jeff Savage, head bartender at Botanist Bar at Fairmont Pacific Rim, Diageo World Class Canada 2019 winner, runner-up in the World Class global finals and member of the Botanist’s winning Bols Around the World 2019 team.
  • Katie Ingram, singer, performer and award-winning bar manager at Elisa Steakhouse.
  • Sabrine Dhaliwal, bar manager of Juke Fried Chicken, Rib & Cocktail Bar, and national ambassador for Belvedere Vodka and Hennessy Cognac.
  • Sean McGuigan, head bartender at The Lobby Lounge and RawBar at Fairmont Pacific Rim named one of the Best Hotel Bars (The Americas) by Tales of the Cocktail.

Even better: Partial proceeds from this event will go to support the BC Hospitality Foundation.

Of course, bar stars galore will be shaking and stirring things up in March 2021 when Vancouver Cocktail Week debuts. The event is put on by our sibling publication, The Alchemist, who have their fingers on the pulse of everything cocktail-related in Vancouver, for sure.

The Punch Brunch (VCW 2021 Preview)

When: Sun. Jan. 26, 2020 from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Where: Botanist – 1038 Canada Place, Vancouver (Fairmont Pacific Rim)
Cost: $125 inclusive of taxes, gratuities & ticketing fees; tickets & information here

Vancouver Is Awesome

 
Spending

Old Bird to bring ‘Chinese food with attitude’ to Vancouver’s Main Street

Old Bird is opening up on Main Street in the space previously occupied by Nomad. Photo via Craigslist

In October, Main Street’s Nomad restaurant closed up after five years of serving contemporary Pacific Northwest-inspired cuisine in their modern space.

As is so often the case with the restaurant biz, when one place closes, another is quick to jump in its place. For 3950 Main Street, that’s how the story goes, as plans are well underway with new owners to turn the address into a bold new Chinese concept called Old Bird.

Promising “Chinese food with attitude,” according to their Instagram bio, Old Bird is the endeavour of a trio of Vancouver women, Sophia Lin (owner), Deseree Lo (chef), and Shawn Jones (GM). Jones herself had been a part of the Nomad team, which lends some nice continuity to the story of this space. Lo has previously been the Executive Sous Chef at Vancouver’s CinCin restaurant, among other accomplishments.

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Menu testing at Old Bird. Photo via Craigslist

The 65-seat restaurant has been undergoing its transformation into Old Bird. On the menu: Taiwanese and Shanghaiese fare, served up alongside a cocktail program and B.C. wines.

Jones told V.I.A. sibling publication Vitis Old Bird will feature “elevated Shanghai and Taiwanese street food with an edgy attitude.”

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Coming Soon! One of our favourite Taiwanese comfort foods...Pork stew with sous-vide egg.

A post shared by Old Bird (@oldbirdrestaurant) on

When it comes to the B.C. wines they’ll be pouring at Old Bird, Jones says we “can expect a wine list that speaks to Deseree Lo’s food. It will include a lot of bright aromatic wines, dry and off-dry, with some light, crisp reds.”

Old Bird is currently in the hiring stages, and is aiming for a January launch. You can follow them on Instagram @oldbirdrestaurant for updates.

Vancouver Is Awesome

 
Spending

Here’s all the festive winter fun happening in Whistler

Whistler’s winter programming kicks off today (Nov. 30). Photo by Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler

Natural snow in the valley or not, Whistler’s winter programming kicks off today (Nov. 30) with the opening of the skating rink at Olympic Plaza.

“Come to Whistler Village for a range of activities for every age. There is outdoor skating, family entertainment, festive lights and more to choose from. Whistler is renowned for the incredible winter activities on offer,” said Mayor Jack Crompton in a release.

Skating at Olympic Plaza

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The outdoor skating rink at Whistler Olympic Plaza is an inspiring place to ice skate outdoors with your family and friends. Photo: Resort Municipality of Whistler

Skating at Olympic Plaza—open as of 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 29—is free if you bring your own skates, while skates can be rented for $7.

The rink is open every day from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (though it’s closed for daily maintenance between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 6 p.m.).

Strollers are welcome and helmets and skate aids are available for free.

Find more info at whistler.ca or by calling 604-935-PLAY (press 3).

Snow Zone

Snow guns are working overtime to prep the Snow Zone at Whistler Olympic Plaza, which will soon be open to the public for free tobogganing and sliding.

Family Après at Olympic Plaza

Sip a hot beverage and enjoy ever-changing entertainment that includes live music, dancing, face painting, hula hooping, characters in costume, balloon twisting animals, arts and crafts, popcorn, cookies, doughnuts, juggling and games.

(Mondays and Thursdays in December, starting Dec. 9, from 3 to 6 p.m.)

Festive lighting

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Up to 350,000 bulbs in total, with about 7,000 bulbs on each tree, transform Whistler Village into a winter wonderland each holiday season. Photo: Shutterstock

Up to 350,000 bulbs in total, with about 7,000 bulbs on each tree, transform Whistler Village into a winter wonderland each holiday season. The lights are put up gradually, so you will notice new lights in the early weeks of the season.

Nordic skiing and snowshoeing

The Lost Lake Nordic Trails are being prepared, but require snow accumulation and consistent cold temperatures before they will open for the season.

Once operational, the trails will offer more than 25 kilometres of groomed and track set trails for cross-country skiing with majestic views of iconic Lost Lake as well as Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. There will be 15 kilometres of snowshoe trails for exploration and four kilometres of lit trails for night skiing.

Whistler Holiday Experience

From Saturday, Dec. 21 to Sunday, Jan. 5, the Whistler Holiday Experience offers a fun, free range of indoor activities at Whistler Conference Centre. Kids can enjoy mini putt golf, table games, bouncy castles, crafts and video games, while parents can relax in the lounge area and enjoy coffee or cocoa while the kids play. The Whistler Holiday Experience is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; it is closed on Dec. 25 and open from 12 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 31. Santa is attending Dec. 21 and 22 from 12 to 3 p.m.

Whistler’s New Year’s Eve Celebrations

The festivities start early at Whistler Olympic Plaza, with an expanded Family Après from noon to 5 p.m. where everyone can experience a taste of Canadian outdoor fun. Or come in from the cold and discover a variety of activities at the Whistler Conference Centre from noon until 7 p.m. This will be followed by the High-Flying Snow Show at 7:30 p.m. and an early countdown and fireworks show at 8 p.m. Later there’s a Special Edition Fire & Ice Show at Skiers Plaza from 11:30 p.m. with a colourful, grand finale fireworks show at midnight. Find more details HERE.

Whistler’s holiday programming is supported by the provincial Resort Municipality Initiative and Municipal and Regional District Hotel Tax.

Pique Newsmagazine

 
Exploring

What are we reading? December 5, 2019

Shutterstock

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:

The internet isn’t what it used to be. Don’t despair. This special edition of the New York Times Magazine examines the likely future and it’s not all that bad. – New York Times Magazine

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/14/magazine/internet-future-dream.html

 

The inventor of the internet, Tim Berners-Lee, admits it hasn’t worked out the way he thought. Still, he has a plan. – New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/24/opinion/world-wide-web.html

 

In case you missed it, or ICYMI in internet short-hand, this video of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen receiving the Anti-Defamation League’s international honour, is an exceptional takedown of the internet’s mess. He pays particular attention to Facebook and YouTube, which houses this. – YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymaWq5yZIYM&feature=youtu.be

 

Nelson Bennett, reporter:

Can Europe slap a carbon tax on the U.S.? There are now more than two dozen countries with some form of carbon pricing. The U.S. does not, as yet, have carbon pricing a federal level. But the European Union is now considering a carbon border tax, which would be a levy on imports from countries that do not price carbon emissions. – Bloomberg

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-12-04/climate-change-europe-s-carbon-border-tax-will-enrage-trump

 

Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor

The fires of Britain’s long love affair with coal are fizzling out as the U.K. switches to natural gas and renewables for power generation. In 1950 coal was the source of virtually all of its electricity; now that share is about 3%. – Economist

https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2019/12/03/britain-is-kicking-its-addiction-to-fossil-fuels

 

Canadian premiers stand together to demand faster bailouts for provinces in need, and more money for health care. The show of national unity kind of brings a tear to the eye, if you can forget for a moment that many of those selfsame premiers spend a lot of their time hammering wedges into regional rifts for cheap political gain. – CBC

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/premiers-budget-fix-national-unity-1.5381166