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VICTORIA – In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2012, the Province of British Columbia would like to recognize women in business.

In 2010, over 36 per cent of self-employed British Columbians were women. This was slightly higher than the national average of 35 per cent, and the second-highest rate among the provinces.

“Investing in women entrepreneurs is one of the best ways to generate economic development in BC. We encourage women entrepreneurs to grow their sales by expanding their markets and accessing corporate and government contracts. We also help them start and grow their business through business loans, business advisory services, mentoring and training in all aspects of running a business,” said Women’s Enterprise Centre CEO, Laurel Douglas.

Organizations like the Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC), Wired Women Network, Women’s Business Network, Community Futures and Small Business BC are instrumental in helping women entrepreneurs launch successful businesses. For example, in 2010-11, WEC provided mentoring opportunities to 202 women during their first three years in business, and handed out $1.7 million in loans helping to create 115 jobs.

As part of ‘Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan,’ the province is working to create a healthy, stable business environment for small-business owners and entrepreneurs by reducing red tape and expanding programs such as the Small Business Venture Capital Program tax credit.

Small business makes up 98 per cent of all businesses in BC, employing over a million British Columbians.

To find out more about the Women’s Enterprise Centre, visit: www.womensenterprise.ca

 

 

VICTORIA – The Small Business Roundtable welcomes two new members to its board as it begins consulting with small businesses across the province in 2012: Shachi Kurl and Shafiq Jamal.

“I’m pleased and honoured to be working with a group of experienced individuals who are committed to championing small-business interests in BC. Small business is the backbone of the provincial economy,” said MLA Kevin Krueger, co-chair of the Small Business Roundtable.

Kurl and Jamal join co-chairs Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Pat Bell and Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger, and the 16 other members who make up the roundtable. The roundtable’s mandate is to identify key small-business issues and opportunities, provide recommendations to enhance the small-business climate and champion small-business interests.

For more information about Small Business Roundtable visit www.smallbusinessroundtable.ca/Pages/Default.aspx

 

VANCOUVER – Premier Christy Clark delivered opening remarks at the 2012 GLOBE Conference, highlighting the success of BC’s clean tech sector.

“BC’s clean technology industry represents world-leading innovations and solutions for industries around the globe,” Clark said. “For British Columbia, that means long-term, high-paying jobs in a sector that continues to grow year over year.”

BC’s clean tech sector includes 202 companies, provides over 8,400 well-paying jobs and generates more than $2.5 billion in revenues.

“The ‘Green Economy’ is fundamental to our provincial well-being both economically and environmentally,” said Terry Lake, Minister of Environment. “We are proud of our leadership on climate action, which has spurred innovation in clean technology.”

“British Columbia is the ideal place to foster clean technology commercialization and innovation,” said Jonathan Rhone, CEO of Clean Tech Alliance. “Provincial policies promote clean tech adoption for industries that are demanding solutions to improve competitive advantage. BC’s clean tech sector has bright future as an engine of economic growth, investment and job creation.”

The Premier also released a report, BC’s Green Economy: Growing Green Jobs, that highlights the clean initiatives that are part of the BC Jobs Plan and demonstrates the unique advantages that have made British Columbia a global leader in sustainable economic development.

BC’s progressive policies include the Venture Capital Program, BC Renaissance Capital Fund and carbon neutral government. Crossing sectors, industries and geography, the report demonstrates clean innovations and green practices in British Columbia.

 

VICTORIA – A regulatory change allowing the removal of private land from a woodlot licence will give woodlot holders more flexibility in how they manage their assets, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson announced early March.

“Woodlot holders are not major licensees. They are small-scale operators, who have asked for the flexibility to be able to manage some of their private land independently of the Crown land portions, which with this amendment the government is pleased to provide,” said Thompson.

In fall 2011, an amendment to section 47.1 of the Forest Act was introduced to allow private land to be removed from a woodlot. That change is now in effect.

All potential private land removals will be at the discretion of the minister of forests, lands and natural resource operations (or a delegate determined by the minister) following public consultation. The following requirements must also be met:

  • the private land has been part of a woodlot licence for at least 10 years;
  • the woodlot holder has provided notification and advertised their intent;
  • the licence is in good standing with no overdue payments, no major contraventions of forestry legislation, or outstanding obligations; and
  • access to Crown land via existing roads on the private land has been adequately addressed.
  • Private land removed from an existing woodlot can’t be used by the owners to apply on new woodlot licence opportunities.

The policy change was requested by the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations. The Union of British Columbia Municipalities was consulted, and helped develop the guidelines for a private land deletion.

Most, but not all, woodlot licences include private land. Some licensees have expressed a desire to diversify their operations and pursue other economic opportunities with their private land such as agriculture and ranching. Others have indicated they want to sell their private land for financial reasons such as retirement planning.

The amount of private land in an individual woodlot varies, ranging from zero hectares up to 1,400 hectares. The average area of private land per individual woodlot is 108 hectares. There are 866 woodlots across the province, covering about 592,000 hectares. Private land comprises about 16 per cent of the total area.

 

 

VICTORIA – The Natural Resource Compliance Act, introduced in fall 2011, is now in effect, making it easier for compliance and enforcement officers to hold offenders accountable for violating natural resource legislation.

The act establishes a new designation – natural resource officer – and authorizes ministry personnel to enforce a broader range of legislation across the natural resource sector. Compliance and enforcement officers can enforce only those acts that they are specifically designated to uphold, but now there is a single, streamlined process for making those designations.

Implementing this single-designation process means that staff will be able to take action more quickly and efficiently to deal with violations that span more than one natural resource act. A single natural resource officer can now respond to such incidents, instead of the three or four staff that may have been required previously.

Officials from other areas of government, such as BC Parks staff, will also be able to assist in enforcing Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations legislation, resulting in better on-the-ground coverage.

Concurrently, amendments have been made to the Special Accounts Appropriation and Control Act and the environmental remediation sub-account. These changes make it easier for ministry staff to allocate funding for complex investigations or cover environmental remediation costs for infractions in the natural resource sector.

More than 11,000 inspections are completed each year, covering various provisions within the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations’ mandate.

 

 

PRINCE GEORGE – The British Columbia Aboriginal Mine Training Association (BC AMTA) is pleased to announce a new funding agreement has been reached with Northern Development Initiative Trust. The agreement provides for a five year funding formula.

“This agreement will contribute to long term sustainability for our programming,” said David Watkins BC AMTA Board chair. “It is proof that BC AMTA’s results and its potential for future growth are recognized as important elements for economic development in central and northern British Columbia.”

BC AMTA collaborates with First Nations communities, mining and exploration companies, industry associations, government and educational institutions to create and deliver mine industry training and staffing programs.

The model develops skills training specifically for Aboriginal students and focuses on matching the local workforce with local jobs. In less than two years BC AMTA has generated employment opportunities for more than 235 Aboriginal candidates. Almost two-thirds of these people have transitioned from unemployment. With a retention rate of 95 per cent, BC AMTA’s industry partners are seeing measurable impacts on turnover rates and recruitment costs.

“The BC AMTA model is very successful in training and placing First Nations members in BC’s growing mining sector,” notes Janine North, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust.

“Our mandate is to foster business growth in central and northern BC. We believe this partnership is a good fit and will help to fill the skills gap the mining industry is experiencing.”

“With more than 120 BC Indian Bands represented in our candidate pool, the alignment to industry’s need for workers is very strong,” said BC AMTA’s executive director Laurie Sterritt.

“This funding agreement is a huge step forward and is very important when you consider that many operating mines and proposed mines are located on traditional First Nations territory in northern communities. Northern Development’s support will lead to direct benefits for both companies and First Nations.

Sterritt notes that this agreement is tied to the development of additional funding arrangements for BC AMTA programs. This commitment shows strong support for the association and can only help in funding discussions with other stakeholders.

 

 

CALGARY - Talisman Energy announced an agreement with Xstrata Coal to sell certain non-producing, non-core coal properties located in northeastern British Columbia for US$500 million in cash.

“This is in keeping with our strategic objective to focus Talisman’s portfolio on material, core assets,” said Paul Smith, executive vice-president of North American Operations. “Unlocking the value from the divestment of this coal property will provide funds to support the objectives announced in our 2012 guidance.”

The Sukunka coal property is located 60 kilometres south of Chetwynd, along the Peace River coalfield that extends 400 kilometres across northeastern British Columbia. The licences cover an area of over 20,000 acres and contain an underground mineable deposit of coking coal (all Talisman 100% working interest).

The transaction is expected to close in March 2012. BofA Merrill Lynch has acted as advisor to Talisman for the sale process.

 

 

REGINA – A combined investment of over $800,000 by the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan will help the Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) and the University of Regina (U of R) study innovative recovery methods for oil and gas production, as well as reclamation of associated byproducts.

Ray Boughen, Member of Parliament for Palliser, on behalf of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, and the Honourable Laura Ross, Minister of Government Services, on behalf of the Honourable Jeremy Harrison, Saskatchewan Minister of Enterprise, joined representatives from the PTRC and U of R for the announcement. The federal and provincial governments are each contributing $403,791 for the three initiatives through the Canada-Saskatchewan Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA).

“Our government is proud to invest in innovative technologies and processes that enable companies to more efficiently and sustainably develop oil and gas resources,” said Boughen. “We will continue to support research and technology commercialization that helps increase productivity, create jobs and spur sustained economic growth.”

“Developing hi-tech innovations to extract our resources and grow our industry while at the same time protecting the environment is a win-win for our province,” Ross said. “We are pleased to support our research parks and universities in developing cutting edge technology that address local challenges and have a potential for commercialization to an international market.”

The research will focus on three clean technology projects that could increase efficiency of oil and gas production, and reduce its environmental impact. With this funding, the U of R will purchase and install laboratory equipment to develop new membranes and filtration systems to decontaminate produced water, a by-product from oil and gas production.

The PTRC will oversee two related projects. It will refurbish a separator unit and construct field test trailer units to sample produced water in field locations for reclamation and re-use, potentially in agricultural irrigation or other industries. The U of R’s laboratory research will be developed in concert with these trailers to help optimize field applications.

The PTRC will also undertake a broad evaluation of organic nutrient sources in Saskatchewan, leading to further research on microbial enhanced oil recovery (MEOR) technologies. All three projects will contribute to increased efficiency of oil and gas production and reduce the environmental impact of these activities.

“One of the most pressing concerns in the Western Canadian oil patch is the amount of produced water during oil recovery,” noted Malcolm Wilson, CEO of the PTRC. “It is particularly difficult for smaller companies in the field because of the costs associated with clean up, so developing cost effective methods is critical.”

“The funding committed today by our federal and provincial government partners demonstrates the value of government, industry and academic collaborations in finding solutions to meet challenges in the energy industry,” said Vianne Timmons, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Regina.

“The University of Regina is pleased to partner once again with the Petroleum Technology Research Centre to develop practical and environmentally sustainable solutions that will benefit our province and country by helping meet the needs of our growing resource sector.”

The Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan are contributing $25 million each, over four years, to the Canada-Saskatchewan Western Economic Partnership Agreement to strengthen economic activity and improve quality of life in western Canadian communities.

 

KAMLOOPS – As part of ‘Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan’, government is investing $550,000 over three years to help the BC silviculture industry develop new human resource strategies to meet the challenges of a changing labour market.

Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation made the funding announcement at the Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association 2012 annual general meeting.

The funding will enable the BC Silviculture Sector Labour Market Strategy project to initially develop a human resource strategy to ensure that the industry can continue to develop, recruit and retain reliable and capable workers. The human resource planning committee will be led by the Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association, the principal partner and contract holder.

British Columbia’s silviculture sector comprises forestry-related activities including tree planting, cone-picking, silviculture survey work, plantation brushing, spacing and weeding, site preparation, fuels management, eco-system restoration, wildfire fighting, prescribed burning, beetle probing and other practices used to tend forests and range land throughout the province.

Today, the industry is beginning to experience problems recruiting and retaining workers. Never having experienced a workforce shortage before, the industry as a whole and its individual employers have not yet developed overall human resource programs or related labour market strategies to deal with this threat.

It is anticipated the project will help the industry begin to establish such programs and strategies. Funding for this project is provided through the Canada British Columbia Labour Market Development agreement.

The silvicultural industry comprises approximately 10,000 seasonal workers and generates $500 million annually in economic activity in Western Canada. On average, about 200 million seedlings are planted each year in British Columbia. Since reforestation programs began in the 1930s, more than six billion trees have been planted in BC. British Columbia uses a mix of over 20 different native tree species in its reforestation programs.

 

VANCOUVER – The British Columbia Chamber of Commerce welcomed the February announcement of the Natural Gas Strategy and the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Strategy as road maps to success for sectors essential to economic prosperity in all regions of British Columbia.

“The government is to be commended for placing such an emphasis on our natural gas resources with the release of these two strategies,” said John Winter, president and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce.

“While many British Columbians may not realize it, BC is dependent on our gas resources for both jobs and revenues to fund our social programs. Given the importance of this sector for the province as a whole, Chambers of Commerce will be looking to all stakeholders to support these plans as we move forward.”

The Natural Gas Strategy looks to enhance the contribution natural gas makes to BC’s economy by developing new partnerships and by expanding into new markets.  A critical part of this strategy will be to build a LNG industry that will allow us to ship gas to overseas markets.

“The LNG Strategy represents the first time in over a decade that the BC Government has attempted to create an entirely new industry,” continued Winter.

“Our economic and social future will depend on how we as British Columbians embrace this new sector.  This industry is sustainable, enhances our clean energy advantages and provides economic benefits for all regions of the province.”