No. 120 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island -
IN THE CITY
is leading the way. Bogota, Columbiaís capital, is following. Austin,
Texas, and Portland, Oregon, are right in there. All across Europe,
cities are working to make themselves more pedestrian friendly.
itís a seven million year old tradition. Can you imagine the romance
of Paris without walking? The wonders of Prague? The history of
itís easy to imagine London without walking, or any city where the
car still rules, making walking a noisy, often dangerous activity.
You donít pause to look up at the skyline or the rooflines in such
cities; you keep your eye firmly on the traffic, to ensure your
once a space is made for walking, how quickly the joy returns. To
stroll; to linger over shop windows; to savour the aroma of the
bakers, the coffee shop. To feel. No-one writes poems about
have been designed by Nature to walk. When we walk, we can stop
and say hello; we can talk to strangers. Itís an old, old, old tradition
Ė we donít forget seven million years in a hurry, however much the
traffic engineers want us to.
Europe, wherever a city has reclaimed its pedestrian spaces, its
population has grown. People want to live in pedestrian friendly
cities. Itís instinctive. Itís ancient. Itís fun.
with the municipal elections coming up, and new people standing
to become mayors and councillors, it is a good time to be asking
: "What will you do to make your community more pedestrian-friendly?"
Not just in Victoria, but also in Saanich, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, Colwood,
Langford, the Highlands, Sooke.
has embraced a Ten-Step Program to become more pedestrian-friendly
(thanks to Jan Gehl, Danish architect, for this list):
1. Convert streets into pedestrian thoroughfares. Copenhagen
turned its traditional main street into a pedestrian thoroughfare
in 1962. Since then, it has gradually added more pedestrian-only
streets, linked to pedestrian-priority streets where walkers and
cyclists have the right-of-way but cars are allowed at low speeds.
Reduce traffic and parking gradually. To keep traffic volume
stable, the city reduced the number of cars in the city centre by
eliminating parking spaces at a rate of 2-3% per year. Between 1986
and 1996 they eliminated about 600 spaces.
3. Turn parking lots into public squares. The act of creating
pedestrian streets freed up parking lots, enabling the city to transform
them into public squares.
4. Keep scale dense and low. Low-slung, densely spaced
buildings allow breezes to pass over them, making the city centre
milder and less windy than the rest of Copenhagen.
5. Honor the human scale. The city's modest scale and
street grid make walking a pleasant experience; its historic buildings,
with their stoops, awnings, and doorways, provide people with impromptu
places to stand and sit.
6. Populate the core. More than 6,800 residents now live in
the city centre. They've eliminated their dependence on cars, and
at night their lighted windows give visiting pedestrians a feeling
7. Encourage student living. Students who commute to
school on bicycles don't add to traffic congestion; on the contrary,
their active presence, day and night, animates the city.
8. Adapt the cityscape to changing seasons. Outdoor cafés,
public squares, and street performers attract thousands in the summer;
skating rinks, heated benches, and gaslit heaters on street corners
make winters in the city centre enjoyable.
9. Promote cycling as a major mode of transportation. The city
established new bike lanes and extended existing ones. They placed
bike crossings (using space freed up by the elimination of parking)
near intersections. Currently 34% of Copenhageners who work in the
city bicycle to their jobs.
10. Make bicycles available. People can borrow city bikes for
about $2.50; when finished, they leave them at any one of the 110
bike stands and their money is refunded.
To this, for Victoria, we must add:
11. Expand public transit, bringing it into the 21st
12. Develop a Light Rapid Transit system, to ferry people in
and out of the city centre.
making our public spaces more pedestrian friendly, we will increase
their safety; build a stronger sense of community; encourage more
public art and performance; encourage more urban shopping; improve
life for seniors and children; attract more bright young people
who like to live this way; improve the air quality; and reduce our
greenhouse gas emissions.
a pretty good list, for a city!
The leaves will
soon be turning, as Nature begins to tuck herself in, and the EcoNews
bank account would love to feel that same cosy feeling, since its
very (very) empty. Could you help fill it up?
been financed by donations from its readers ever since it started
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for this, we reach over 6,000 people, including every B.C. MLA and
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$550, so twice a year we need to reach out and ask for your help.
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Rafting Deep Inner Rivers: Inner work
and coma communication, an inner communication series with Stan
Tomandl and Ann Jacob. Sensory grounded communication for working
with ourselves and people with advanced Alzheimerís/dementia,
stroke, brain injury, and near death processes. The greatest fear
of people in very remote states is not necessarily of death, but
of being isolated and unable to communicate. 7 Tuesdays 7-9pm,
Oct 29th - Dec 10th, Cost $210, Volunteers $145. For information,
call Stan or Ann 250-383-5677.
are moving! The Liberal government has appointed Gordon Gibson
to recommend how a Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform should
be set up to assess possible models for electing MLAs, including
preferential ballots, proportional representation, and the current
system. The Assembly will consist of citizens chosen at random,
and there will be hearings throughout the province. If there is
a call for change, the goal is to hold a referendum at the May
2005 election. Gordon Gibson led the BC Liberal party from 1975
- 79, and is a senior fellow in Canadian studies at the Fraser
the recent German elections, using the mixed member proportional
voting system, the Green Party won 8.6% of the vote, giving them
55 seats in the 598 seat Bundestag. Under "first past the
post", they would only have won 1 seat. They will now continue
to govern in coalition with Gerhard Schroederís Social Democrats.
Companies with an environmental edge saw stocks rise with the
Greens' success - the wind company Plambeck shot up by 15%. During
their term in government, the Greens were responsible for bringing
in a tax on fossil fuels; for phasing out nuclear energy by 2025;
for a huge increase in German wind energy; for a reduction in
CO2 emissions; for a planned expansion of organic farming; for
the legalization of gay marriages; and for the refusal to go to
war on Iraq. The recent dramatic flooding in Germany probably
helped, since voters made the connection with climate change.
Their unofficial election slogan: "Itís the environment,
a late August weekend, 10,000 people attended the World Organic
Exhibition at St Annís Academy (now managed organically), which
IFOAM wanted to be a zero-waste event. Chris Wells, a local organic
farmer, took on the challenge, and worked with a host of volunteers
to pull it off. Styrofoam was banned, and there were no visible
garbage cans. There were separate CRD recycling bins for paper
and food wastes, hard plastics, and beverage containers, and lots
of big clear signs. At the end of the event, these were the results:
41 kg of hard plastics taken to Syntal for recycling; 406 kg of
food and paper waste taken by reFUSE Holdings for commercial composting
in Cobble Hill (less than 1% contamination); 2000 beverage containers
given to homeless street people to claim the deposits (50kg);
40 kg of cardboard collected by Alpine Recycling; and 33 kg of
actual garbage. Out of a total of 570 kg waste, the recycling
rate works out at 94%. Great work, you guys! Youíve set a model
for all future public events & concerts. (Chris Wells email@example.com
looking for a volunteer editor
to continue production of its quarterly journal,
"Ecoforestry." Retiring editor Don Vipond
would ease you into this rewarding work.
Call him to talk about it at 652-5491.
common ground for 20 years.
agreements are cheaper,
and much easier on relationships.
Correction: In last monthís story on Pender Environmentally
Conscious Kids (PECK), I stated that Pender school had been sprayed
against carpenter ants. In fact, because of the communityís concern,
diatomaceous earth was successfully applied. My apologies. PECK
Western Canada Wilderness Committee has launched a Derby to locate
Canadaís largest undiscovered trees in the endangered Upper Walbran
Valley, next to the West Coast Trail north of Port Renfrew. Participants
who find the largest specimens will win a cash prize: Doug Fir
$400; Yellow Cedar $350; White Pine $300; Pacific Yew $250; Western
Hemlock $200. In the protected Carmanah Valley next door, Canadaís
tallest tree is 311 foot tall. Ken Wu, of WCWC, says heís confident
theyíll find similar record-sized trees in the Upper Walbran,
unless they are cut down first by Weyerhaeuser and TimberWest.
The derby runs until Oct 31st. For details, call Lucy
or Heidi at (250) 388-9292.
May (of the Sierra Club in Ottawa) was in town recently to honour
Vicky Husband, who has been awarded the Order of Canada for her
committed work over the past two centuries (oops Ė I mean decades).
While here, Elizabeth ran an Activists Workshop, from which Caspar
Davis gleaned the following wisdom:
No matter who you're dealing with, government, media, or whoever,
the most important thing is PEOPLE; and not just the "important
ones." Learn and remember the names of receptionists, gatekeepers,
and others, and use them whenever appropriate.
Communications to politicians rank roughly as follows, in order
Opinions expressed at chance encounters in the street or elsewhere.
Follow-up second letters, after receiving an unresponsive answer.
Phone calls to constituency office.
Petitions, cards & sign-on letters.
Emails. (HmmĖbetter get that pen!)
an interesting project being proposed for Nedís Corner, just west
of Mildura (Victoria State), in Australiaís outback. It consists
of an enormous tower, a kilometre high, surrounded by 30 square
kilometres of glass. As the sun beats down on the glass, the super-heated
air will rise up the tower and drive 32 turbines, producing 200
MW of power Ė enough for 200,000 homes. (The tallest World Trade
Center tower was 417 metres). The tower follows a successful prototype
that operated in Spain for several years. The energy will cost
4.5 cents/kwh US, just 20% more than coal-fired energy. If all
goes well, they hope to start building in 2003. Who knows? Maybe
weíll see similar towers being proposed for Canadaís prairies,
surrounded by rings of wind turbines. We urgently need some adventurous
solar dreaming to rescue us from the dull mental sludge of Canadaís
coal and oil barons. For details see www.enviromission.com.au
Ford Ė are you listening? Thereís a revolutionary new urban car
heading our way from a French racing car test driver called Guy
Negre, in the little town of Carros, France. The engine weights
just 32 kg, but it can do 90 kph. It seats 5, and can accelerate
from 0-90 in 7 seconds. Itís super-efficient, and since it uses
no combustion, it produces no air pollution; just an oil change
every two years. Its secret is isotherm dynamics - the car works
by heating and expanding super-cooled compressed air. It can be
refueled in 3 minutes at a garage air-pump. It will sell for $20,000
CAN, and production starts in France this fall. The company has
signed for 50 factories in Europe, America and Asia. Instead of
creating giant factories, they plan to build 100s of small facilities
near the cities where they anticipate sales for taxis, delivery
vans and pick-up trucks. For local air quality, itís zero-pollution.
For global warming, since it needs electricity to generate the
compressed air, it will produce around 1.2 tonnes of CO2 per year,
assuming coal-fired electricity. (Regular cars produce 5 Ė 13
tonnes; a Honda Insight produces 3 tonnes.) For details, see www.globalstewards.org/aircar
.htm and www.zeropollution.com
. "If we start with taxis, then move to buses and vans, " Negre
believes, "it will take very little time to improve the pollution
problem in our cities."
Cedar Works Ltd.
Hand split fencing & rails
We design & build garden structures
Artifacts for the Home & Garden
380-7022 Colin 477-9451
is the fuel of the future Ė most people agree on that (along with
compressed air). Now scientists at the University of Wisconsin
have discovered a way to obtain clean hydrogen from a glucose
solution by heating the sugar to 392 F and passing it over a platinum-based
catalyst. They hope to be able to get 3 units of hydrogen out
for each one they use as fuel, but theyíve a way to go yet. Sugar
comes from plants which have already absorbed CO2, so the process
does not create any additional CO2.
has just held an informal plebiscite on whether Brazil should
sign the Free Trade Areas of the Americas treaty (FTAA). Over
10 million people voted, of whom 98.3% said "NO". Only
1.67% supported joining the FTAA. 96% voted against continued
than just an Organic Produce Box
us, nurturing local food production
local organic farmers
in Transition to organics
temperate rainforests are under siege, just as BCís are. Similar
climate, similar coastal situation, similar forest companies grabbing
what they can. Up to 70% has been logged, and large plantations
of non-native species (Monterey pine and eucalyptus) are being
planted. Chileís forestry is not regulated by law, in spite of
a bill that was introduced to Chileís parliament ten years ago;
lobbying by the timber industry has kept Congress from approving
the law. A 1995 report by Chileís Central Bank said that Chileís
native forests would disappear by 2015 at the current rate of
deforestation; the loss is proceeding even faster today. Now a
coalition of five Chilean groups and notable citizens, including
the author Isabel Allende (niece and goddaughter of Salvadore
Allende, Chile's president until a coup took his life in 1973)
are organizing a campaign to demand that all forest products from
Chile be certified by the international Forest Stewardship Council
(FSC), based in Mexico. The FSC has widespread credibility among
ecologists, and provides a credible guarantee that a forest is
well-managed. Part of the goal is to stop the replacement of native
forest with artificial plantations. In September, a major ad campaign
in the New York Times called on US purchasers to stop buying Chilean
wood products unless they are certified. For details, see www.forestethics.org
ACTION OF THE MONTH
The Proposed Cull of Wolves and Cougars
from the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection are recommending
a cull of wolves and cougars on Vancouver Island, starting this
winter, citing pressure on the Blacktailed deer population. If
the cull goes ahead, 40 wolves will be killed in each of the next
three years, and the cougar hunting season will be extended to
over 9 months. Doug Janz, the Ministry biologist (and private
hunter) who is recommending the cull, says he is concerned with
deer recovery on the Island. The number of deer has fallen from
200,000 in 1980 to 55,000 in 2001. As the prey decreases, so do
its predators: cougars have fallen from around 750 in 1995 to
around 350 in 2001; wolves from around 400 in 1986 to around 200
in 2001. (Rough estimates; the Ministry does not do an inventory).
The pressure for the cull is being driven by the hunting lobby.
Last year, hunters killed over 11,000 deer on the Island. In 2000,
they killed 151 cougars, and an unknown number of wolves. A major
factor behind the decline of the deer is the loss of old growth
forest, which is critical winter habitat for the Blacktail deer.
The common sense solution would be to restrict deer hunting and
protect oldgrowth forest. Since the Ministry does not even have
reliable data on wolves and cougars, the proposal to cull them
is very short sighted.
Write to Joyce Murray, and insist that alternative solutions
to the wolf and cougar cull be pursued.
Murray, Minister of Water, Land & Air. firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax: 250-387-1356. Leg Ass, PO Box 9047 Stn Prov Gov Victoria
WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB
connections that have passed my way, which I thought I'd pass
CLEARCUTS Ingmar Lee writes:
25 years or
more of scientific study of the Vancouver Island marmot has failed
to correlate massive, ongoing industrial clearcut logging with
the imminent extinction, in 2002 or 2003, of wild V.I. marmots.
While TimberWest and Weyerhaeuser continue to exterminate the
primeval forest surrounding the last marmot colony at the top
of Green Mountain, they throw a few bucks at the captive breeding
program, and nothing is done to protect the connectivity corridors
that are essential for the survival of this animal. Without protection
and restoration of connectivity, no amount of corporate money
to the breeding program will solve this tragic problem. See http://victoria.indymedia.org/news/2002/08/7760.php
The UVic Draft
Campus Plan may be approved as early as January 2003 Ė and there
are many fundamental issues in this plan that need to be addressed.
for a discussion of issues and alternatives. NOW is the time to
act. Justine, 472-4637. Our campus, our community!
thoughts on the planet, as youíve never seen him. Fascinating
poem - needs Flash. www.voiceyourself.com/thoughts/thoughts.html
LOK AT GORDON CAMPBELLíS LIBERALS:
ITíS OUR NATURE
as part of Whistlerís sustainability initiative, the site features
multimedia graphics explaining the The Natural Step framework,
and links to toolkits developed for the community; for households,
for schools, and for small businesses. If Whistler wins the Winter
Olympics bid for 2010, will the whole Olympics be run on the basis
of The Natural Step? www.whistleritsournature.ca
is launching new Action Centres to help Canadians and people from
around the world protect Ontario's and BC's provincial parks,
Manitoba's Boreal Forests, Canada's grizzly bears, BC's wild salmon
population and Ontario's old growth forests. We're also relaunching
our Endangered Species Action Centre to help shepherd the Species
at Risk Act through Canada's Senate. Encourage your friends, family,
colleagues, pets, and neighbours to go to www.wildcanada.net
and click on Participate. It's free, fun and easy!
If you live
in the Nanaimo area, make sure you check the Interactive Community
News, at http://cip.nanaimo-online.net/0902.
Full of global and local importance.
in developing a green purchasing policy for your business, school,
or government department? Check out the Pacific Northwest Pollution
Prevention Resource Center, at www.pprc.org
Gary has been
a Canadian environmental hero for many years, often compared to
David Suzuki or Paul Watson. Now you can learn more about his
life and work: see www.hazmatmag.com/issues/ISarticle.asp?id=69526&story_id=HM130266&issue=06012002&PC=
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