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More than 100 First Nations could purchase the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline

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Dozens of First Nations leaders are meeting this week to discuss a plan that could make them the next owners of the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline.

Indigenous leaders will debate Wednesday which financial model is ideal if they are able to purchase the pipeline project, which would boost the amount of oilsands bitumen shipped from Alberta to the B.C. coast.

After a private “high level” meeting with the federal government was held in Calgary last month, the Indian Resources Council of Canada (IRCC) is optimistic it will be able to present a proposal to Ottawa to acquire the pipeline project in the coming months. The IRCC represents 134 First Nations that have oil and gas resources on their land.

The leaders are meeting at the Grey Eagle Casino and Resort on the Tsuut’ina Nation outside Calgary.

The proposed Trans Mountain expansion pipeline would ship oilsands crude from Edmonton to the Vancouver area for export. The federal government purchased the project for $4.5 billion from Kinder Morgan Canada last summer, but it doesn’t want to be a long-term owner.

The project is stalled after the Federal Court of Appeal ruled in late August there needed to be more consultation with First Nations. The National Energy Board was also instructed to explore the potential environmental impacts from increased marine shipping.

Stephen Buffalo, chief executive of the Indian Resource Council of Canada, says the pipeline is an opportunity to get out of poverty. 1:15

The IRCC says the majority of its members want to purchase the project and make the pipeline 100 per cent owned, operated and monitored by Indigenous people.

“We all want a safe and proper environment; the environment is so key,” said Stephen Buffalo, chief executive of the IRCC. “But we can continue to still do some economic development and have that balance. And that’s what we need to strive for — to find that balance.”

Along the pipeline route, some First Nations have signed benefit agreements to support the project, while others have resisted and tried to stop progress through protests and legal challenges. The IRCC said it supports those First Nations in B.C. who want to protect their land and waterways, specifically the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh, which have territory near the Burrard Inlet terminal. 

Those who oppose the project have concerns about a potential oil spill, including the impact on salmon and other marine life.

People drum during a rally celebrating a recent federal court ruling against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, in Vancouver, on Sept. 8, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

However, the organization says efforts to oppose the project are also holding back the First Nations that support the pipeline and are counting on it for economic gain.

Not every First Nation has lucrative land holdings or casinos to benefit from, said Buffalo.

“Our job right now is to get the chiefs together and the leadership together to help make a consensus to ensure we’re all on the same page. We’re all looking for something to get out of poverty,” he said.

If Indigenous people own the project, there would be increased job and economic opportunities, in addition to more control over environmental monitoring, he said.

“I’ll be satisfied to know that there are no rail cars along the rivers and lakes. That there is no possibility of a car derailment,” said Buffalo.

One of the First Nations opposing the project doesn’t seem to care much who owns the pipeline now or in the future because concerns with Trans Mountain remain.

“It doesn’t change the fact on the ground that the federal government has the responsibility to respect our rights and they haven’t yet, and that’s the standard that we set for ourselves,” said Khelsilem, a Squamish Nation councillor and spokesperson.

“The reality is, if they want to build this pipeline they have to come through our titled land. That is our land. They don’t have the right to say anything about what happens on our territory just like we don’t have the right to say what happens to theirs,” he said.

The 1,150-kilometre Trans Mountain expansion pipeline aims to move oil from Edmonton to a terminal in Burnaby, B.C., near Vancouver, where it will be exported. (Scott Galley/CBC)

The IRCC said First Nations in B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan are interested in purchasing the project and the group wants to see if Indigenous people in other provinces want to be involved.

Some Indigenous leaders have already said they want to buy the pipeline.

“First Nations should be the owners of Trans Mountain. All of that resource is coming out of our territory,” said Archie Waquan, chief of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, located north of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta, in an interview with CBC News in November. “I’d like to see First Nations that are not even close to the pipeline to be owners so they can benefit from it.”

The Whispering Pines First Nation near Kamloops, B.C., has also expressed its interest in an ownership stake.

Some Indigenous groups have already expressed their interest in an ownership stake including Mikisew Cree First Nation chief Archie Waquan, left, and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation chief Allan Adam. (Geneviève Normand/Radio-Canada)

Federal finance minister Bill Morneau’s office declined an interview request. In an emailed statement, a spokesperson said the government is focused on moving forward with the project.

“With that in mind, we welcome the interest of Indigenous groups in the future ownership of the project and will continue these discussions at the appropriate time,” said the spokesperson.

Indigenous involvement in the oil and gas sector has grown in recent decades as First Nations sign benefit agreements with industry, in addition to a number of Indigenous-owned businesses providing services to the oilpatch.

Some First Nations point to the East Tank Farm oil storage project in the oilsands region as an example of an Indigenous ownership deal that has benefited the local community. Calgary-based Suncor sold a 49 per cent stake in the project to the Fort McKay First Nation and the Mikisew Cree First Nation for $503 million in 2017. The First Nations borrowed money to cover the cost.

Four different ownership models will be considered by Indigenous leaders at a conference organized by the IRCC on Wednesday. At this point, the IRCC said some of the details are under non-disclosure agreements and can’t be shared publicly.

While there are several obstacles to overcome for Indigenous groups to own the proposed pipeline, the significance of such a deal can’t be understated, according to Ken Coates, a University of Saskatchewan professor who studies Aboriginal rights.

“It would be extremely difficult to pull off because you have to find ways of getting all the members on board, you have to find ways to raise the capital, you have to find the management system that works,” he said, among other challenges.

However, Coates said he is delighted the IRCC is looking so closely into purchasing the pipeline because it’s a sign of confidence of Indigenous business people and the determination of some First Nations to have greater control of oil and gas projects.

“It changes the game on a number of levels,” he said. “From their point of view this is not just a pipeline investment. This is an investment in the future of their community. Is it possible? Absolutely possible.”

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Real Estate

The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021

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Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary

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Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market

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The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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