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‘They’re Trying to Take My House’

‘They’re Trying to Take My House’

A massive LNG project faces rising opposition in Oregon. The quiet backer is a Canadian firm.

For the past several years, Mike Williams has had hanging over his head the possibility that a Calgary oil and gas company could kick him and his family out of their home. The Pembina Pipeline Corporation is trying “to fuck me over,” he told The Tyee.

Williams, his wife Jane and their four-month-old daughter live on a rural property in southern Oregon with fir trees “you can wrap your arms around” and a rolling hill leading to a wetland. Several years ago, he started getting calls from Pembina asking him to sell the property. At first, he claims they offered him $78,000, which Williams considered an insult. That would barely allow him to purchase “a trailer in a mobile park,” he said. Then the offer apparently went up to $300,000.

Now Williams worries that the company will use eminent domain, whereby the government allows private property to be taken over for projects deemed in the public interest, to run a 36-inch natural gas pipeline through his drinking water supply and turn the home he built from salvaged materials into a staging area for the construction. “That’s the worst thing,” he said. “They’re going to let a Canadian company eminent domain a U.S. citizen. It’s wrong.”

That may be what’s happening in private. But in public, the pipeline’s defenders are telling a much different story — in fact, their strategy is to not even mention Pembina by name.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canada’s Forgotten Man: Energy Workers

Canada’s Forgotten Man: Energy Workers

All over the world, the forgotten man is rising up, reminding the ruling elite of his existence. Fed up with leaders catering to the whims of 0.05% of society, or instituting policies that impact their pocketbooks, the working folks of America, Italy, Brazil, and France are making sure their voices are heard in the political arena. This uncomfortable fact is sending shivers up and down their masters’ spines, including those in the Great White North.

Ivory Tower

For so long, Canadians were passive and apathetic about how they were treated by their rulers. They just drowned their sorrows of excessive taxation and abuse of the public purse in a Tim Hortons double-double and a plate of poutine. That’s just the way it is, they cried. There’s nothing to do, they grieved.

It is this level of arrogance that puts Trudeau and his minions out of touch with typical Canadians.

But then Prime Minister Justin Trudeau happened.

The trust fund baby is a man who continually talks down to those who are not like him. By encouraging young people to use “peoplekind,” openly wishing that Ottawa would embrace a Chinese-style government, and suggesting citizens with real concerns about Syrian migrants are racist, Trudeau has begun to light the populist spark from British Columbia to Newfoundland.

To truly comprehend the left’s disdain for blue-collar Canadians who do not accept the premises of leftist dogma, you will need to travel to Calgary, Alberta. At a recent demonstration of energy workers, Liberal Mayor Naheed Nenshi treated the crowd like kindergarteners:

“Well, for those of you who are saying, ‘No I don’t believe in climate change,’ good luck changing hearts and minds because we have to be able to say that there is no difference between standing up for the economy and standing up for the environment.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

September the Coldest Month in a Decade – Must be Global Warming

It is not looking very good for the winter ahead. A reader from Calgary sent this picture in about the early snowfall up there. Indeed, Calgary just experienced the Snowiest Day in More Than Three Decades. It Broke an October Snowfall Record. Of course, they will call this Global Warming as well. This is just a taste of this winter to come.

Already, the data is now in for September. The world just had the coldest September for a decade, according to the latest satellite measurements by the University of Alabama at Huntsville.  Naturally, mainstream media will not cover this story. They only like to report how we are destroying the planet and everything is all our fault.

Since the governments have handed out $1 billion for these people to create Global Warming forecasts to justify more taxes, there is not a cold day in hell why they would even give us $5 for a correlation study that shows the opposite. Why fund something that does not produce more taxes?

Well, besides growing food in your basement, perhaps you should buy a sewing machine to make long-underwear to sell to the neighbors when they realize it’s getting colder rather than warmer.

Canadian housing market hits $508,097 average price in April as sales rise to record

Canadian housing market hits $508,097 average price in April as sales rise to record

Average Canadian house price up 13% in April, but wide regional variances remain

Canada's housing market hit new all-time records both for the average price and the number of homes sold in April.

Canada’s housing market hit new all-time records both for the average price and the number of homes sold in April. (Associated Press)

Canada’s housing market continues to set new records, with the average sale price up to $508,097 in April, the busiest month for home sales in Canadian history.

The Canadian Real Estate Association says the average house price increased by more than 13 per cent in the year ended in April.

CREA has said for several months in a row that the average price is skewed higher by the hot and large markets of Toronto and Vancouver. Stripping those two cities out, the national average drops to $369,222 and the year-over-year gain is reduced to 8.7 per cent, CREA said.

CREA says the average figure is misleading, so it calculates something it calls the Aggregate Composite MLS House Price Index, and contends it’s a fairer representation of the real market, by blending together all housing types.

Even on that more normalizing scale, the CREA index rose 10.3 per cent in April, its biggest gain in almost six years stretching back to May 2010.

Here are the eye-popping numbers for some areas in and around Toronto and Vancouver:

  • The Greater Vancouver Area’s index increased by 25.3 per cent
  • The nearby Fraser Valley increased by 25.6 per cent
  • Prices in the GTA were up by 12.6 per cent
  • Victoria was up 12 per cent
  • Vancouver Island prices were up by 8.2 per cent.

By way of contrast, prices declined by 3.5 per cent and 2.4 per cent in Calgary and Saskatoon, respectively, which are smaller declines than those posted by these markets in March.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The “Unequivocally” Divided States Of Canadian Consumers

The “Unequivocally” Divided States Of Canadian Consumers

Canada has never been more divided. With Vancouver being taken over by the rich Chinese, and Calgary nearing depression, roles have been dramatically reversed across Canadian provinces as spending in non-energy-producing regions hits a record high relative spending in those dependent on oil…

Home prices show the divide between Canada’s haves and the have-nots… (as wealthy Chinese money floods into certain regions)…

But among average-joes, it seems pitifully low oil prices are unequivocally divisive across the nation…

Canada’s consumers are ramping up retail spending, but only those who reside in the non-energy-producing provinces. As Bloomberg reports, retail sales in Alberta, Newfoundland, and Saskatchewan fell 0.9% from a year earlier in February, while the rest of Canada saw spending rise 7.3%.

The divergence is at a record, with retail sales growth in non-energy provinces at least 8 percentage points higher than in energy provinces over the last six months, which is a reversal from the recent past: since the early 1990s, retail sales in the rest of Canada have averaged 1.6 percentage points below that of the oil-producing provinces.

We look forward to Mr.Trudeau’s policies to fix this ‘unequivocally’ unbalanced situation.

House affordability improving in some parts of Canada, National Bank says

Mortgage rates probably won't be dramatically changed by the Bank of Canada's benchmark overnight rate, economists say.

Mortgage rates probably won’t be dramatically changed by the Bank of Canada’s benchmark overnight rate, economists say. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Amid the continuing escalation in housing prices in the Vancouver and Toronto areas, there are some places in Canada where home affordability is improving, National Bank said Wednesday in a new report.

Six of 10 markets surveyed showed improvement in affordability, the bank said, with the biggest improvements seen in Calgary, Montreal and Ottawa-Gatineau.

Pockets of affordability emerge

The bank’s gauge of affordability is the percentage of income required for a monthly mortgage payment on a median-priced home, assuming a 25-year amortization and a five-year term.

In Calgary, which has been hit hard by the dramatic drop in oil prices, the the mortgage payment stood at 28.2 per cent of income for the first quarter of this year. That was off by 0.7 percentage points from the last quarter of 2015, and down by 2.2 percentage points from the first three months of last year, the bank said.

‘Montreal homes have become the most affordable in a decade’– National Bank

In Montreal, the first quarter drop was 0.5 percentage points from the end of last year, the same  decline seen in the Ottawa-Gatineau area.

“Montreal homes have become the most affordable in a decade,” National Bank economists Matthieu Arsenau and Kyle Dahms said in their report.

They also said Calgary’s percentage of income needed for a monthly payment is now at a record low.

Nationally, the portion of income increased by 0.1 percentage points to 31 per cent in the first three months of the year, the bank said. That followed a increase of 0.8 percentage points in the last three months of 2015.

Meanwhile, Vancouver and Toronto continue to see soaring prices, and eroding afforability, the bank said.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Husky layoffs confirmed as Calgary company continues cost-cutting

Husky layoffs confirmed as Calgary company continues cost-cutting

Latest round of cuts hits Alberta’s energy industry as oil prices remain low

More job cuts were announced for Husky Energy on Tuesday as the company looks to weather the current downturn.

More job cuts were announced for Husky Energy on Tuesday as the company looks to weather the current downturn. (CBC)

Calgary-based Husky Energy says layoffs were announced today to ensure the company’s resilience during low oil prices.

The company did not provide any specific numbers, but says the staff reductions were across its operations.

“These are difficult decisions and we will continue to take the steps necessary to ensure the company’s resilience through this cycle and beyond,” said company spokesperson Mel Duvall in an email.

Staff tell CBC News layoffs include full-time staff and contractors.

Late last year, Husky said it was looking to sell some of its conventional oil and natural gas assets in Western Canada.

That includes producing wells from northeastern B.C. to southeastern Saskatchewan, as well as pipelines and storage tanks in the Lloydminster area, but no oilsands or heavy oil assets.

Social media postings suggest that many of the positions cut were related to those assets on the block.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

In Supreme Court, a Battle Over Fracking and Citizens’ Rights

In Supreme Court, a Battle Over Fracking and Citizens’ Rights

Jessica Ernst’s long fight to challenge legislation putting energy regulator above the law reaches top court.


Jessica Ernst on her land in Alberta. Photo: Colin Smith.

After years of legal wrangling, Jessica Ernst and Alberta’s powerful energy regulator finally squared off in the Supreme Court of Canada yesterday.

For almost two hours, all nine justices questioned lawyers from both sides in a case that will determine if legislation can grant government agencies blanket immunity from lawsuits based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

At times the debate was so bogged down in legal jargon and little known cases that it felt as though the participants were holding a conversation in a foreign language.


Join The Tyee and acclaimed energy journalist and author Andrew Nikiforuk for a special evening on fracking. Nikiforuk will survey the latest energy battleground and discuss his new book, Slick Water, which centres around Jessica Ernst’s landmark case. The event takes place Jan. 28 in Vancouver. Find further details and ticket information here.

But the heart of the matter remained simple: Can a regulator prevent a citizen from suing it for damages when the citizen feels their charter rights have been violated?

Ernst alleges the Alberta Energy Regulator violated her rights by characterizing her as a “criminal threat” and barring all communication with her.

The claims are part of her multipronged lawsuit related to the regulation of fracking. She says fracking contaminated aquifers near her homestead near Rosebud, about 110 kilometres east of Calgary, and is seeking $33 million in damages.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

This Is Canada’s Depression: Surging Crime, Soaring Suicides, Overwhelmed Food Banks “And The Worst Is Yet To Come”

This Is Canada’s Depression: Surging Crime, Soaring Suicides, Overwhelmed Food Banks “And The Worst Is Yet To Come”

Back in March, we brought you “Drugs, Prostitution, Violence Plague Oil Boom Towns Gone Bust,” in which we detailed the plight of towns like Sidney and Bainville, Montana, where the slump in oil revenue has made it all but impossible for local authorities to cope with surging crime rates that some attribute to the influx of oil workers the communities experienced in the good old days of high crude prices.

The problem, apparently, was that despite the dramatic slump in oil, companies hadn’t yet begun to cut jobs or slash capex and so, officials were left with less money to put towards policing their growing populations.

As dangerous as it may be for small towns to experience exponential growth in what The Washington Post describedas “highly paid oil workers living in sprawling ‘man camps’ with limited spending opportunities,” what’s even more dangerous is the prospect that suddenly, the majority of those workers will be jobless. That is, if there’s anything that’s more conducive to raising the crime rate than legions of highly paid young men living in small towns with “limited spending opportunities,” it’s legions of formerly highly paid young men stuck in small towns with limited job opportunities.

With that in mind, America can look north to Calgary for a preview of what’s in store for America’s oil boom towns.

Although Alberta’s largest city bares little resemblance to Sidney and Bainville, the three do have one thing in common: oil. “Calgary boasted one of the lowest jobless rates in Canada as crude prices rose over $100 a barrel [but] it’s now reeling after a global glut pushed prices down by two-thirds,” Bloomberg notes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Transcanada Just Killed The Keystone XL Pipeline

Transcanada Just Killed The Keystone XL Pipeline

In an ironic twist, just hours after we discussed the record capital outflow from Canada, resulting from the plunge in oil prices and the mothballing of Canada’s energy industry, Obama’s long-desired goal of killing the Keystone XL pipeline has finally come true.

Moments ago, the WSJ reported that Alberta-based Transcanada asked to suspend its U.S. permit application, “throwing the politically fraught project into an indefinite state of limbo, beyond the 2016 U.S. elections.”

Calgary, Alberta-based TransCanada Corp. sent a letter to the State Department, which reviews cross-border pipelines, to suspend its application while the company goes through a state review process in Nebraska it had previously resisted.
“In order to allow time for certainty regarding the Nebraska route, TransCanada requests that the State Department pause in its review of the Presidential Permit application for Keystone XL,” the company said in the suspension request reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “This will allow a decision on the Permit to be made later based on certainty with respect to the route of the pipeline.”

The WSJ correctly notes that “the move comes in the face of an expected rejection by the Obama administration and low oil prices that are sapping business interests in Canada’s oil reserves.” Clearly the former was never an issue before, however the collapse in oil prices and the resultant plunge in CapEx spending means that the pipeline no longer made much economic sense.

Inside Ground Zero Of Canada’s Recession

Inside Ground Zero Of Canada’s Recession

In the past year, we have extensively profiled the collapse of ground zero of Canada’s oil industry as a result of the plunge in the price of oil, in posts such as the following:

Since then it has gotten far, far worse for Canada. In fact, as of September 1 it culminated with the first official recession in 7 years.

And it’s only downhill from there. As Mark Thornton of the Mises Institute points out, in a report from the Financial Post shows that Calgary in Alberta Canada now has 1.7 million square feet of empty office space, the most in North America with another 5.2 million under construction! After years of booming construction, the natural resource rich country is starting to feel the pinch. To wit:

The number of half-empty office buildings in Alberta is projected to spike, as Colliers International predicts an “ill-timed” building boom should push up vacancy rates in Calgary and Edmonton. In a report released Tuesday, the real-estate brokerage’s chief economist Andrew Nelson said, “the fall in oil prices has had a negative impact on the energy-reliant markets (in Western Canada),” which has contributed to rising vacancy rates and falling rental prices in Alberta’s two largest cities.

Vacancy rates jumped over the course of the second quarter. In Calgary’s case, Colliers reported the downtown vacancy rate rose to 13 per cent from 10 per cent, while Edmonton’s vacancy rate increased to 11.2 per cent from 10.6 per cent.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What’s Coming Unglued Now in Canada?

What’s Coming Unglued Now in Canada?

Canada lumbered through the first half of 2015 in a “technical recession,” Statistics Canada confirmed this week, as GDP shrank in both quarters. Among the culprits: the swooning energy sector and an investment slump.

Now everybody is lining up behind the hope that a sudden acceleration will put the economy back on track in the third quarter, despite oil that has re-crashed and despite the ongoing collapse – and that’s what it is – of the all-important energy sector.

To get to this acceleration, the once booming residential and commercial construction sectors have to hold up, or else Canada’s economy is in real trouble. Alas….

“Canada is also in the midst of an ill-timed supply surge that caused vacancy rates to rise even in markets with positive absorption” in the second quarter, warns a new report by commercial real estate firm Colliers International cited by the Financial Post. It paints a picture of an epic office boom turned into an even more epic office glut, particularly in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta, the epicenter of Canada’s oil patch.

This office glut comes on top of Calgary’s housing meltdown. For the first eight months, total home sales in Calgary plunged 25%, according to the Calgary Real Estate Board. Condo sales collapsed 39% in August and 30% year-to-date. Inventory sits a lot longer on the market before it sells, if it sells. And pressures are building on prices: the average condo price was down over 10% in August from a year ago.

Commercial real estate is heading in a similar direction. Only worse. Calgary was a boom town. Office towers have been sprouting like mushrooms. In recent years, commercial real estate costs downtown were “going through the roof” and “accelerating at a pace far beyond the Canadian average,” Calgary Chamber of Commerce director of policy and research Justin Smith told the Financial Post. But it takes years to plan and build office towers, and now no one can just turn off the flow.


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

It Gets Ugly in Canada

It Gets Ugly in Canada

“It’s an election about who will protect our economy in a period of ongoing global instability,” Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, announced on Sunday as he officially kicked off the campaign for the federal elections on October 19. He’d just asked Governor General David Johnston to dissolve Parliament.

“Now is not the time for the kind of risky economic schemes that are doing so much damage elsewhere in the world,” he said. “It is time to stay the course and stick to our plan.”

Stay what course, exactly? Because Canada is likely in the middle of at least a “technical recession.”

At first, there was hope that only the oil patch would be headed that way. Now the oil patch is already there. In the city of Calgary, Alberta, the epicenter of the oil bust, home sales plunged 14% in July year-over-year, according to the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB). Year-to-date, homes sales are down 25%.

Despite months of assurances that the oil bust and the broader commodities rout won’t spread into the rest of the Canadian economy, they’re now beautifully spreading into it.

The Business Barometer Index of small business confidence dropped in July to 58.2, the worst level since mid-2009, a level that corresponds with a shrinking economy. “One normally sees an index level of between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential,” the report said.

That’s what Statistics Canada has been confirming for months: on Friday, it reported that GDP in May fell for a 5th month in a row.

“Much worse than the flat print expected by consensus,” is how Matthieu Arseneau, a Senior Ecoomist at National Bank Financial explained the phenomenon:


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Calgary Office Market Gets Crushed. Oil, China Blamed

Calgary Office Market Gets Crushed. Oil, China Blamed

The office vacancy rate in downtown Calgary, the epicenter of the Canadian oil bust, could hit the vertigo-inducing level of 17.5% by the end of 2018, a new report by commercial real-estate firm Colliers International warned – and added some ominous clouds: “Given the current global macro environment, this may even be an optimistic forecast.”

While real estate is supposedly local, it’s not. It has been, like so many things, globalized. Colliers:

The geopolitical turmoil in China, Greece, and Iran must be taken into consideration, as the global instability is already affecting local top-level decisions and investor sentiment.

The biggest problems are cropping up in the sublease sector, according to the Calgary Herald, citing Colliers’ report. Sublease availability began to balloon in late 2014. The oil bust was hitting hard. Canada’s tar-sands operations are particularly at risk since they’re the world’s high-cost producers; they’re sitting ducks in an oversupplied market where an all-out fight over market share has broken out.

So, according to the report, “international energy companies began reallocating capital to other parts of the world.” Local operators, to stay alive a little longer, tried to slash operating expenses and conserve cash where they could. Layoffs and consolidations followed. A lot of people in the oil business are contractors; and their hours were getting cut. And companies began shedding by then useless office space.

But there have been few takers.

By the end of June, available sublease office space in downtown Calgary, after soaring for three quarters in a row, hit an all-time record of 2.6 million square feet. At 52% of all available office lease space, sublease space exceeded headlease space for the first time since Q4 2009, during the Financial Crisis. That’s a bad sign.


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Calgary thunderstorm causes power outages, flooding in Chestermere

Calgary thunderstorm causes power outages, flooding in Chestermere

Lightning advisory that grounded all flights at Calgary airport now lifted

People in Calgary woke up with a bang early Sunday morning as a line of thunderstorms hovered over the city, bringing lightning, power outages and overland flooding in communities to the east.

As the storms moved eastward, severe thunderstorm warnings issued by Environment Canada remained in effect for Red Deer, Ponoka, Innisfail and Stettler by 3 p.m. MT. An earlier storm warning for Calgary was cancelled at 9:40 a.m. MT.

“Meteorologists are tracking a dangerous thunderstorm capable of producing up to penny size hail and flooding rain,” the agency said on its website.

Thunderstrom watches — the agency’s less urgent category of alert — were still in effect for much of the southeastern part of the province by late afternoon.

When the storm hit early Sunday morning it caused flash-flooding in parts of northeast Calgary as well as Langdon and Chestermere east of the city.

The Alberta emergency public alert system tweeted a warning about overland flooding in Chestermere.

“While short, this was an intensely severe storm that brought an amount of water that overwhelmed our systems” Steve Bagley, Chetermere’s director of emergency management. said in a release.

“We are working hard to assist residents and restore services as quickly as possible.”

Officials said power had been restored to most parts of the city by 1:30 p.m. MT and that Chestermere Lake water levels were under control.

Langdon resident Andrew Kucy said it didn’t take long for his basement to flood.


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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