KARL MATTSON – 5th Generation Farmer / Artist, Father & Activist (of sorts)
Karl Mattson. 5th generation farmer. Father to 4-year-old Hollis. Artist. Scrapper. Videographer. Activist. Well, sort-of. And not-so-proud leaser of land to EnCana.
The gas well on his property has been there for years. But Karl never had a say in its getting there – his Dad decided that a long time ago. Still, Karl knows darn well that farming up in northern BC on the fringes of where farming is possible makes it tough even during a good year to survive. So he doesn’t blame his dad for leasing the land out to the gas company. Karl himself works at a scrap yard part-time to make ends meet. And the fact is, they just didn’t know about the dangers back then.
But you see the thing is, Karl and his little daughter are the ones who live closest to the gas well and the new pipeline that went in across from his house. He and Hollis are the ones exposed to the far too frequent leaks of sour gas (H2S and it’s lethal cousin SO2). And he’s being driven half crazy by it.
At first he started creating wild art as an outlet to his anger, frustration and feelings of helplessness. His shifts at the dump afford him all the metal scrap he needs to create his sculptures. But when the two-headed calf was born weeks after a particularly bad season of flaring, he decided to change the medium or his art…
RICK PAVLIS – Owner Pavlis Trucking / Oil & Gas Field Service
Rick is an outspoken hulk of a guy who owns a large gas drilling business. Even though he also grew up on a farm near Karl, Rick doesn’t care what happens to The Peace Region. Every summer when he came in off the oil rigs in Alberta, Rick would help out on the farm. While Rick used to be nostalgic for the days of the traditional family farm in The Peace, Rick says he’s lost all that now. “I don’t give a shit what happens up here anymore,” he tells Karl. “The government don’t give a shit so why should I? Might as well just rape and pillage like the rest of them.”
A family friend of the Mattson’s, Rick’s been trying to convince Karl to join forces and make some money out of the gas industry. The boom is happening now and because it’s a non-renewable resource, it just isn’t going to last. Somebody’s going to get rich off this, and Rick figures it might as well be a local boy like him.
Peace River County (aka Peace River Regional District)
The Peace River Regional District is a regional district in northeastern British Columbia Canada. The regional district is characterized by rolling hills with grain and cattle farms. About 40% of the province’s Agricultural Land Reserve is situated within the regional district. The Peace River flows west-to-east through the middle of the district. Its total land area is 119,200.1 km² (46,023.42 sq mi), the largest regional district in British Columbia in area. The total population reported in the 2006 census was 58,264 with 24,019 private dwellings, up from 55,080 people in 2001.
The Regional District is the largest in the province, comprising 13% of its area. At 119,200 km² (46,023 mi²) it is similar in area to the American state of Pennsylvania or New Zealand’s North Island. Despite this large area the Regional District has a population density of 0.54 people per km² (1.4 people/mi²). The people live almost exclusively in the agricultural areas in British Columbia’s portion of the Peace River Country straddling the Peace River.
The area was first explored by Sir Alexander MacKenzie in 1789, when he travelled along the Peace River, eventually reaching the Mackenzie River and the Arctic Ocean. In 1793 he used the same route to reach the Pacific Ocean. Subsequently, the region saw a surge in fur trade, with forts built along the river from Fort Vermilion to Hudson’s Hope.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the farming potential of the area was advertised by the federal government but settlement was scarce because of difficult travel conditions through the muskeg. With the arrival of the railway in 1916 and following the opening of land for homesteaders in 1910, farming and ranching took off in the fertile Peace Country.
The settlement of the British Columbia portion of the agricultural area, known as the Peace River Block, originated as a railway grant which wound up for a time under Dominion jurisdiction and managed by offices in Alberta until returned to British Columbia following ongoing jurisdictional conflicts.
Peace Country contains Canada’s northernmost lands suitable for agriculture. Crops raised include canola, oats, peas and barley. Some cattle ranching and beekeeping is also done in the area. In 2006, the region accounted for 14.4% of Canada’s total bison-producing herd.
Forestry plays a large role in the Peace Country, and as a result, pulp mills have been built in Chetwynd, Peace River and Grande Prairie since the 1970s.
Economy registered a new boost with the discovery of oil and gas in the region. In 1952, gas was struck in the Fort St. John No. 1 well, and the first refinery was built in 1957 at Taylor. In the mid-1970s, the massive Elmworth natural gas field in northwest Alberta was discovered, as well as other major gas fields in British Columbia and Alberta and both Fort St. John and Grande Prairie have experienced rapid economic and population growth as a result.
compiled from wikipedia