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AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)EcoNews reaches thousands of people each month, including every MLA in BC and every CRD municipal politician. It’s 95% funded by donations from readers like you. If you value the information it provides, will you support it with a donation?

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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
Tel (250) 881-1304

Executive director of The Solutions Project


Newsletter No. 108 - Promoting the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - September 2001


Water – it’s such a strange, liquidy thing. But what IS it? 70% of our planet’s surface is covered with it. Our bodies are two-thirds water. All of Nature depends on it. If you pass an electric current through it, you can separate the oxygen and produce enough hydrogen to power the whole world if we wanted to, using solar energy.

Maybe, in the cosmos as a whole, it is a sign of a planet’s emerging maturity that its people begin to appreciate their water, and treat it with respect.

Not us, however. We pollute our lakes and streams; dump often untreated sewage full of drugs and chemicals into rivers and oceans; and waste the freshwater we have. All around the world, groundwater supplies are falling as we extract more water than gets recharged.

Here in Victoria, we face a potentially enormous water crisis. Last winter’s rainfall was the lowest for 100 years. Local weather will always be variable, but this may not be about the weather. It may be about the climate, a larger pattern of change. The drought is affecting the whole of the western continent, from B.C. to Saskatchewan, from Washington to Montana. Parts of Alberta are having their driest conditions for 130 years. And nobody knows why.

If we knew that the rainfall deficit was purely weather variability, we could relax. According to the local Water Department, there is only a 4% chance that restrictions will need to go beyond the minimum next year. By the winter of 2002, the dam extension will be up, and a couple of good wet winters will see the volume of water that can be stored over the summer months increase, taking us out of the danger zone.

But what if the finger print of climate change is on this particular drought? L.M. Wenger and L.D. Mortsch at Environment Canada say "Extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, are expected to become more common. Convective rainfall would probably become more intense, but there may be more time between precipitation events. Precipitation may become more variable."

If the drought is part of a larger emerging pattern, we may see several dry winters in a row before we return to a streak of wetter ones. And herein lies the warning: if we have another relatively dry winter in Victoria, we are going to be in a terrible state next year. If you go to, you can see how the level of water in the Sooke Reservoir has fallen. We’ve 2 billion gallons less in the reservoir than normal for this time of year, even with August being much wetter than normal.

What are the solutions? Nothing quick and easy, alas. We musy change our gardening habits, using much more mulch and native plantings. This summer, Victorians reduced their garden use of water by 34%; now we need to reduce our indoor water use by 34%. We need to increase the price of water dramatically, and invest the income in rebates for efficient showerheads, faucets and toilets (eg the Caroma dual-flush We need to update our plumbing codes to allow composting toilets and greywater systems. We need to engage streets and community associations in house-by-house water efficiency tours.

Life may be wonderful in the City of Gardens, but if there’s another dry winter, we may see the most extreme restrictions next year – no outside watering at all, except for vegetables. Gardens will die all over the city. Horticulturalists will weep and cheat. Golf course owners will rage. Everyone will look for someone to blame. And we’ll all begin to wake up to the reality of global climate change, the planet’s steadily rising temperature, and the urgent need to use hydrogen, solar, wind and other renewable energies, instead of fossil fuels.

Guy Dauncey

Please note:  the Green Diary has moved, click here to view.


AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)A monthly newsletter, funded by your donations, that dreams of a Vancouver Island and a world blessed by the harmony of nature, the pleasures of community & the joys of deep fulfillment.

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Many thanks to The Kildonan Womyn, Doug McGregor, Wayne Madden, Ray Travers, Penny Tannenhouse (in memory of Roy McFarlane), Jerome & Pam Webster, Jane Victoria King, Dave Secco, Deborah LeFrank, Tony Law, Audrey Woodward, Karen Chapple, Normay Thyer, Nina Corley-Smith, Marlyn Horsdal, Keith & Mignon Lundmark, Gil Parker, Freda Ramsay, Pamela Webster & Doug Patterson, and to Neil Topham, Andrea Tischhauser, Bill Wilson, Heather McAndrew & Hugo Sutmoller.

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$5/line (free to non-profits & low-income). 1" box ad $35, $2" box ad $65

* Wanted: 15-20 passionate and committed volunteers to realize the LifeCycles "Growing Schools" project – outdoor gardening workshops, harvesting food, saving seeds, putting the school gardens to bed for the winter, and workshops on Global Food Education. Training provided. Call Clare, 383-5800.

* Responsible health professional/green activist seeks quiet, respectful, vegetarian household to share, sublet or caretake.

* ASCENT Bookkeeping Services. Step lightly on the earth knowing your finances are in good order. Call Debra Meeks 478-7880. References available.

* For Sale: Quality hard-plastic laundry tub, metal legs, CSA approved, never used. $40. Call 920-0036, afternoons.

* Wanted: Medical scooter from an environment free of smoke, pesticide & fabric softener. For long-legged rider. Call 920-0036, afternoons

Earth Friendly Realtor

Good listener
12 years experience
references available

Dave Secco
477-5353 wk / 595-1403 hm


Just 150 years ago, British Columbia was home to many thousands of Salish, Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwaguilth and other tribes, and a handful of white men. And then we started arriving:

1871: 36,000
1911: 392,000
1951: 1.16 million
1991: 3.37 million
2000: 4.06 million

Now ask yourself – is anything realistically going to stop this growth? Do others not have the right to live here too? These are the estimates for the future:

2021: 5.5 million
2031: 6 million

The issue is not population growth, but the manner in which we choose to develop and live. If we continue building the bland, sprawling subdivisions that eat up the forests and farms, we will destroy much that we hold beautiful in B.C..

It is happening as we read this - in Colwood, the Royal Bay developers are planning to start building not in the gravel pit, but in the 73 acre ‘Special Study Area’, a sensitive dry, open rainshadow forest with Douglas-fir and Garry oak. It makes far more sense to leave it as parkland, an amenity for the thousands who will live in Royal Bay. For the Friends of South Colwood, and more details, call Frank Mitchell, 478-1671

The solution to these constantly recurring problems is Smart Growth, developments which mirror the qualities of older towns and cities – narrower streets, neighbourhood shopping centres, slower traffic, local work, greenspace, better relationships. Wherever communities are designed along these lines, their residents love them. SmartGrowth BC has just published The Smart Growth Toolkit, a compendium of the planning tools, alternative development standards and means of public involvement that can help us make Smart Growth the norm, not the rarity. An essential resource for councillors, planners, engineers, and also for every community association or citizens group that gets involved in land-use planning and development. It includes pointers on how to reach the media, build a coalition, and lobby for changes. If we want to save BC from sprawl, we need this toolkit. Available online soon at, but I sorely hope they will print more copies, too.


And now, a journey into cyberland. We start with Alan Drengson’s Ecostery Foundation, at – "loved places where ecological values, knowledge and wisdom are learned, practiced and shared". From the local to the global, we travel to the new Victoria IndyMedia, For solar and wind energy to light your way, we’ll visit the Canadian Centre for Renewable Energies at, and Kevin Pegg’s Energy Alternatives, based in Brentwood Bay at If we fail to make the energy transition, we’ll face floods, drought and Stormy Weather see And finally, from Iceland, an amazing tour through the Northern Lights, at


He came, a shepherd from the hill
from country far away.
He worked wherever help and care
were short supplied.
Kindness, friendship were his ways.
I knew him then, in country days.
From then till now his hands have worked, created help and grown,
He left us when his time had come,
His journey with satisfaction run
A blessing still.
From all those whose paths have crossed with yours,
We say thankyou, Michael Williams,
Shepherd from the hill.

Katey Bloomfield


You lived your dreams so openly,
always seeking new ways
to place peace above war,
humanity against despair,
poetry above dull boredom.
They say you have left us; they found your body in the Inner Harbour;
but we know you are still here
wherever friends remember you.
We say thankyou, Roy McFarlane,

Poet from the Pub. Thankyou.


This is the greatest story – how Earth was created, and how life has evolved over 5 billion years. 30 years ago, the physicist Sid Liebes was lying on his back at night gazing at the stars when he dreamed up the idea of a walking exhibit that would show the history of the universe. By teaching humans about the origins of humans, he hoped to have a positive impact on how people affect Earth’s future. His dream came true. The 90 panel exhibit, a mile long, has been shown all over the world to rapturous receptions. Each step carries you through a million years in time. From Sept 28th to Oct 1st, it is in Ganges, Salt Spring (see Diary, & call me at 881-1304 if you want to share a ride on Sat 29th. But could we also have it along the Dallas Road cliffs? It is available for a few days afterwards, but it would take $1 to $2,000 and some volunteers, and we’d have to act fast. If you can help, please call me (Guy) at 881-1304. See

Native Plant and WaterWise Garden Consultant

Helping you to create chemical-free, low maintenance gardens.

Pat Johnston, 595-5600


The good folks at the Victoria Fruit Tree Project are climbing ladders again, picking unwanted fruit to distribute through the community. If you have pears, apples, or plums that are going to waste, call Jenny Davis at Lifecycles, 383-5800.


It’s a small story, but it claims a place in the heart. On July 12th, Vancouver civilian policeman Ray Petersen was walking under the Granville St Bridge when a duck grabbed him by the pant leg and then waddled around him, quacking. He thought it a bit goofy, but the duck, likely a mallard, wouldn't give up. Making sure it had Mr. Petersen's eye, it waddled up the road about 20 metres and lay on a storm-sewer grate. Mr. Petersen watched and thought nothing of it, but when he started walking again, she ran around and grabbed him again. When it waddled off to the sewer grate a second time, Mr. Petersen followed. "I went up to where the duck was lying and saw eight little babies in the water below. They had fallen down between the grates." Mr. Petersen phoned police Sergeant Randy Kellens, who brought in two constables. When they came down, the duck ran around them as well, quacking, then lay down on the grate. While Sgt. Kellens looked into the grate, the duck sat on the curb and watched. The two constables marshalled a tow truck that lifted the grate out, allowing the ducklings to be picked up, one by one, with a vegetable strainer, while the mother duck lay there and watched. Once they were safe, she marched down to False Creek, where they jumped in. (edited from Canadian Press)


What the duck did for her children, Women in Black have been doing for Earth’s children since 1988, when Israeli women held silent, non-violent vigils in the West Bank and Gaza to protest Israel’s occupation, and demand peace. Italian supporters took the idea back to Italy, which led to Italian and Yugoslav women doing Women In Black vigils in Belgrade, protesting the Serb regime’s aggression in the Balkans. There have been vigils in Beijing, and many other places around the world. In Britain, Women in Black have been protesting the Trident nuclear warfare submarines, running rings around the security police. Two years ago, three women climbed into the floating research lab on Loch Goil and threw all their computers into the sea; they were acquitted of criminal damage on the defence that they were acting to prevent a crime, not to commit one.

Today, in Israel and Palestine, there is a terrible conflict; we despair at the entrenched anger and hatred. Every day sees another attack, another death, another call for revenge. Over the past few weeks, however, foreign peace activists have been arriving in Jerusalem and the West Bank, staying in the homes of threatened Palestinians, turning themselves into shields between the Israeli army and its targets. They have been joined by Women in Black, who are sleeping in Palestinian homes in the Bethlehem suburb of Beit Jala, where 850 homes have been shelled by soldiers stationed in the neighbouring Jewish settlement of Gilo, as the Israeli army seeks to expel the Palestinians to expand the Jewish settlement. The women have been standing at army checkpoints, photographing the soldiers as they stop people trying to enter or leave their communities, recording the names of the arrested. Whenever they arrive, there is a reduction in the violence, as the soldiers hate the scrutiny. A few days ago, they helped organize demonstrations outside Orient House, the Palestinian HQ which has been seized by Israel. They were arrested and beaten up with the local people, and witnessed the torture of Palestinian prisoners in the police station, which would have gone unreported. On June 8th, there were Women in Black vigils in 142 countries worldwide (including Victoria); the vigil in Jerusalem brought together 3,000 women and men, both Israeli and Palestinian, with speeches in Hebrew and Arabic seeking two peaceful states, Israel and Palestine, co-existing side by side. In the midst of hatred and revenge killings, there is this incredibly courageous presence, this call for an end to the insanity, for the beginning of peace. The news media have been almost totally silent about this, preferring images of violence to those of peace. The heroic Women in Black are a powerful reminder that even where things seem to be the most hopeless, human compassion can create a wave that can wash over the hatred, and sow healing in its place. Women in Black has been nominated for the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. For more details, see (Thanks to George Monbiot, Guardian)


Over the summer, the Liberals have been hacking away at NDP initiatives. Among them is the E Team funding, and among th losers is UVic Sustainability Project, which is working to make the whole campus more sustainable. Penny and the team there are working their butts off trying to save their project; there’s an on-line petition you can sign at, and there’s an actual petition at Capers on Quadra St., and outside the UVic Sustainability Project Office at UVic (Sedgewick C136).



The new Liberal government, among their many cuts, has scrapped years 2 & 3 of the NDP’s Climate Change Business Plan, and is asking if it is worth bothering with climate change at all. Just south, the City of Seattle is planning to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 3 times more than the Kyoto Protocol calls for; they are so alarmed by predictions of a 50% reduction in smowmelt over 50 years, and other impacts. We can, we must, we will benefit from reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and ushering in the new hydrogen economy. This is also an important economic opportunity for the future.

ACTION: Write to the Premier Gordon Campbell, Legislative Assembly, Victoria V8V 1X4. Fax 387-0087.

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EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Sustainable Communities Consultancy

Author of 'After the Crash : The Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)

Now Available!
'Earthfuture : Stories from a Sustainable World'
(New Society Publishers, November 1999)
An ecofictional novel

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