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The Globe and Mail

Disagreements fly over Harbour Flight Centre

The pilot of a Harbour Air seaplane flies over Vancouver International Airport April 14, 2009. John Lehmann/Globe and Mail

John Lehmann/ The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/ The Globe and Mail

A long-running spat over floatplane service in downtown Vancouver is also being waged in Victoria.

According to a B.C. Lobbyists Registrar bulletin, lobbyist Jay Hill is arranging meetings with the provincial Tourism Minister and his staff on behalf of Harbour Air Seaplanes, "to facilitate resolution of outstanding issues with the Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre facility."

The activity was noted in a monthly snapshot of "who is lobbying who" that included clients ranging from Enbridge Northern Gateway to the B.C. Naturopathic Association.

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Harbour Air is the biggest of a group of seaplane operators that have balked at moving into the new, privately held VHFC, which opened in May, 2011, at the north end of the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Harbour Air and VHFC – a joint venture between the Clarke Group of Companies and the Ledcor Group of Companies – are at loggerheads over issues including how much would-be tenants will pay to use the new facility, which cost in the neighbourhood of $20-million to build. In September, after Harbour Air raised safety concerns relating to the height and design of docks at the new facility, Tourism Minister Pat Bell commissioned an engineering review. That review has not yet been publicly released. Harbour Air continues to operate from a Coal Harbour site, while several smaller operators are flying from VHFC.

Meanwhile, in-house lobbyists for Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines are lobbying "various public office holders" to encourage policies that would support the approval and construction of the Northern Gateway Pipeline, the report states.

Public hearings are under way for that $5.5-billion project, which would link the Alberta oil sands to a terminal in Kitimat. To date, Premier Christy Clark has not taken a position on the pipeline, which supporters champion for the jobs and income it would create but which faces strong opposition from first nations and environmental groups.

On another Vancouver-related file, Thomas Turner, an in-house lobbyist for Edgewater Casino ULC, is listed as "arranging meetings with various MLAs to provide information." Mr. Turner is better known as T. Richard Turner, a director of the Canadian arm of Paragon Gaming – which owns Vancouver's Edgewater Casino.

City council last year turned down Paragon's proposal for an expanded casino at BC Place.

In a phone conversation, Mr. Turner said the name in the bulletin likely results from the fact that Thomas, not Richard, is his legal first name, and he would have provided it as such for registration purposes.

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Lobby registrar records list Mr. Turner as registering on Jan. 5, with the subject matter of "gaming and lotteries" with an intended outcome "to provide information to properly inform elected officials and government employees."

In an e-mail, Mr. Turner said he was "not meeting or seeking a meeting with anyone at this time."

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About the Author
National correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Wendy Stueck has covered technology and business and now reports on British Columbia issues including natural resources, aboriginal issues and urban affairs. More

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