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

Executive director of The Solutions Project


Newsletter No. 153 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - November 2005


We need a tax revolution.

Governments have always needed money to do their work, so they ask us to contribute. "Pay up, or go to jail!" It’s a tradition that’s as old as the first kings, queens, and city-states.

But it’s also very simplistic: give me a percentage of your money, or (in cities) your property value.

The system has been designed for a good old-fashioned world, where the gathering and spending of money was simply what people did.

Today, the world is a very different place, as our consumption hastens our ecological collapse. "It's like being in a huge car driving at a brick wall at 100 miles an hour and most of the people in the car are arguing about where they want to sit." (David Suzuki)

The journey towards collapse continues every day, in the way we travel, use energy, exploit the oceans, manage the forests, grow our food, build our cities, and heat our homes.

None of this is reflected in our tax system, which continues as if the world was still a rosy, child-like place where the only goals are to earn, spend, and accumulate.

Tax-shifting is about waking up and doing the obvious, before it is too late. It is about shifting our taxes so that they encourage more sustainable behaviour, and discourage the habits that are driving us towards the wall.

London, England, is a great example. The city was so congested that it took forever to get anywhere. So the Mayor of London drew a large ring around the city and brought in a congestion tax of £5 a day (since raised to £8), with exemptions for alternative fuel vehicles, buses, taxis and motorcycles. The tax works like a dream, reducing the traffic, while channeling the income into public transport.

So let’s get creative. Want to reduce the flow of garbage to the landfill, to forestall the cost of expanding the landfill? Charge a user fee of $1 per bin, and put the income into recycling initiatives, as they are about to do in Seattle.

Want to encourage more affordable housing? This is such a problem, it should be top of every municipal candidate’s list. Do as they are doing in Langford, and require every developer to contribute one affordable home for every ten homes built, or (for developments under ten units) to give cash in lieu to an affordable housing fund.

Want to encourage more green development? Increase the cost of a building permit, and then reduce it for green building initiatives and design aspects, and for heritage conservation.

Want to but the brakes on our use of fossil fuels? Impose a carbon tax on our use of coal, oil and gas, and use the income to reduce the general tax level. They may freak out about the idea in Alberta, but even Paul Anderson, the CEO of Duke Energy, is calling for a carbon tax.

Want to discourage the use of chemical pesticides, that lace the landscape with poison and degrade the quality of our food? Impose a pesticide fee, and use the income to help farmers shift to organic farming.

Some of this is about fees, while some is a straight tax-shift, such as the carbon tax, used to reduce general taxation.

In Winnipeg, in 2003, Mayor Glen Murray was elected to a second term on the promise of "a new deal" based on a tax shift that would have seen a 50% cut in the city’s property taxes, bus fares reduced by half, user fees of $1 per bag for garbage, a consumption tax of 5 cents a litre for gas, and a 1% increase in sales tax.

The net effect would have increased the city’s revenues by $120 million, with the additional funds being directed into public transit, and renewing the crumbling urban infrastructure (roads, sewers, etc). The agenda was blocked by the Manitoba government, alas.

"In North America, we’re still living with the economic architecture of the last century, but our cities are losing on all fronts. Tax policy is central to making system changes, getting people to change their behaviour", says Donna Morton, whose Centre for Integral Economics (based here in Victoria) has been a prime supporter of tax-shifting, and was instrumental in helping to construct the Winnipeg new deal. (See

"We have to radically rethink how our cities are run," Glen Murray says, "to make them as productive, energy efficient, environmentally and humanly friendly as possible, and to attract the ‘creative class’".

It’s election time, so speak up, and ask your would-be leaders if they will support this kind of agenda.

It’s not about paying more money: it’s about changing the emphasis in what we pay to encourage more sustainable activities, while discouraging the behaviours that are driving us to the wall.

Guy Dauncey


AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)A monthly newsletter, funded by your donations, that dreams of a world blessed by the harmony of nature, the pleasures of community, & the joys of personal fulfillment, protected and guided by active citizenship.

Donations can be sent to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria, BC, V9E 2B9. For a receipt send stamped addressed envelope.

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A big thankyou to Sylvan Foreman, Marjorie Vachell, Maureen McArdell, Margareth Hantiuk, Maureen Levitt, Kathleen Woodley, Jerome & Pam Webster, Martin Weideman, Emile Lacroix, Brian Pinch, and the Victoria Natural History Society. Also to Laura Anderson, who preps the envelopes every month, Ian Barclay, who preps the labels, everyone who sent their unused envelopes, and the whole potluck mail-out party crew!

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* Unused letter envelopes always needed for EcoNews. Call 881-1304

* Charming Guest room, $25/night. Cook St Village , ocean. 250-361-3102

* Pacific Gardens Cohousing, Nanaimo, BC. Call (250) 754-3060

* O.U.R. ECOVILLAGE seeks marketing professional with skills in web & graphic design, strategic planning. Work-trade for programs with Sustainable Learning Community. 250-743-3067

* For rent. Shawnigan Lake - share view home, own room, cable, large garden. Professional environmentally conscious owner. $500. 743-7580

* Building Sustainable Community Cob-strawbale house for salewith 5 acres, part ofa 60 acre Comox Valley rural property. Call Susan, 334-2375.

* For rent. Rustic, ruralhome in Comox Valley area, Jan - Sept 2006 furnished & equipped, woodheat, suitable for 1 or 2 quiet simple living people, reasonable. 337-8328

* Courtenay Cohousing Call 250-339-5993

* Speak French? See for a youth art campaign linked to Kyoto. 10,000 drawings wanted, asap.


Elite Earth-Friendly Dry Cleaners
Victoria’s only solvent free dry cleaner

1019 Cook St. 381-2221
Mon-Fri 8-6 Sat 10-4



We celebrate the achievements of our friends on Vancouver Island who are working so hard to make this world a better place; and succeeding.

- John Bergbusch and the team who are bringing Bee Creek in Colwood (to Esquimalt Lagoon) back to life, which will see coho and chum salmon return by 2008/9, after 25 years.

- The Salt Spring Island Conservancy, who raised $315,000 from island residents and businesses to realize their dream of safeguarding 40 hectares of land at the top of Mount Erkine, with help from the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the BC Ministry of Environment, and many other partners.

- Everyone who dreamed up and created the Salish Sea Mapping Project, and the book Islands in the Salish Sea: A Community Atlas (TouchWood, $44.95). A jewel!

- The City of Victoria, and Oak Bay, for bringing in stronger tree protection by-laws. (At last!)

- Rick and Laurel Nathorst at Elite Earth-Friendly Dry Cleaners (in Cook St), for being honoured with an Ethics in Action Award for their completely non-toxic dry cleaning company .

- Christie Eng, founder of Shady Creek Ice Cream, here in Victoria, who was honoured with an Ethics in Action Award for her business that uses local fruits and all-natural ingredients (no stabilizers or artificial flavourings), and pays full attention to the social and environmental bottom lines.

- Betty Krawczyk, who has been given the Eugene Rogers Environment Award for her efforts to protect BC’s forests, and stop the big logging companies from increasing their control over our public forests. Betty has spent more time in jail than any other Canadian wilderness advocate.


"There are only two problems on Planet Earth. The first is the sum total of all our social, ecological, and other woes. The second is the belief that we cannot solve them. It is the latter to which we should pay the greatest attention." GD



All over North America, chain stores are undermining local businesses, destroying town centres, and turning living cultures into lugubrious schlok. In response, a group of NGO leaders is calling on ethically responsible people across the world to "Break the Chains" of self-destructive consumerism from Nov 13 to Dec 31 by boycotting Wal-Mart and other big chain stores, fast food restaurants, and corporate coffeehouses. "Hoping to generate the largest impact possible, during the main shopping season of the year, we call upon the global grassroots to Buy Local, Buy Organic and Buy Fair Trade/Fair Made." They hope people will organize local actions.



Here in Victoria, LifeCycles is expanding its Campaign to Cultivate Local Food with an appeal for $8 million over 10 years (2004-2014), which will enable them (among other things) to install 24 more school-food gardens in elementary schools; teach 8,000 elementary and 700 high school students about food and health; train 75 youth and 40 community members in agri-business and green micro-enterprises, launching 60 start-up companies with 250 new jobs; help 30 new farmers and growers to sell over ¼ million pounds of organic produce a year; establish a production-oriented training garden for new farmers; and to build on their successful partnerships with Cuba and two other Latin American countries, where they have established composting facilities, community kitchens and a 14-acre organic demo-farm in Cuba which has trained 2,250 farmers. Don’t ever say folks in Victoria don’t have vision! See



Judging by the news we see on TV, the world is as full of war and bloody conflict as ever. But our media often feeds us a distorted picture of what is happening in the world. The Human Security Centre, based at UBC in Vancouver, has just produced Human Security Report: War and Peace in the 21st Century, funded by 5 governments.

It shows that most forms of political violence have in fact declined significantly since the end of the Cold War, and the best explanation is the huge upsurge of conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding activities that were spearheaded by the United Nations in the aftermath of the Cold War.

The world is witnessing fewer wars, and those that do occur are killing fewer people. Civil conflicts and human rights abuses are also in decline.

There is a deep human progress towards greater cooperation and civility.

The fly in the balm is the ruling regime in the USA, which wants to undermine the United Nations, and return to the empire-building of the 19th century. It is all the more important that we continue with our many efforts to build a peaceful world.

On November 11th, there’s a gathering with speakers and music on "Navigating Towards a Peaceful World" (see Green Diary) to reflect on war, and generate more strength for our determination to end all war and violence. See



The Pinch Group
Connecting your money with your values



This may surprise you: in October, UNESCO voted by 150:2 to support a Canadian initiative to create an international convention on cultural diversity. Only the US and Israel voted against it. The Convention reaffirms the right of sovereign states to "maintain, adopt and implement" policies that protect and promote cultural expression, and make certain cultural products exempt from free trade agreements.

The initiative started with Sheila Copps’ (Canada’s then Heritage Minister) desire to protect Canadian magazines from US pressure to swamp them with US content. She worked with her counter-part in the French government, and this led to a coalition between French and English speakers, and between the federal and Quebec governments. The US tried hard to arm-twist countries to oppose the convention, and then introduced 27 amendments to water it down, but it passed with no amendments. Once it has been ratified by 30 countries, it will become a binding international instrument.



Our municipal elections on November 19th are a very important occasion, so do go to the all-candidate meetings, find out about the candidates, and discuss them with your friends. There are too many progressive candidates running in Victoria, but if I were a Victoria resident, I’d vote for Pam Madoff, Dean Fortin, Helen Hughes, Erik Kaye, Sonya Chandler, Philippe Lucas, Chantal Brodeur, and Wayne Poohachoff. Then I’d balance things by voting for Alan Lowe as Mayor.

In Saanich, I’ll vote for Ian Graeme, Vic Derman, Judy Brownoff and Lana Popham. Charley Beresford for SD 61. In North Saanich, Heather Goulet and Anny Scoones.

For the candidates’ views on sewage treatment, see


Residential * Commercial * Indoor * Outdoor
Eco-friendly Carpentry; Woodworking Flooring; Composters; Creative Storage
Harald Wolf 250-882-9653



The CRD has passed a Model Pesticide Use Bylaw for adoption by local councils to prohibit the use of most pesticides, except for various sensible exemptions.( It would have made far more sense to pass it for the whole CRD, as we did for the no-smoking bylaw, but there you go. The Pesticide Bylaw makes eminent sense: ask your election candidates "Will you support the adoption of the new Pesticide Use Bylaw?"

The lawn care industry is fighting to say how safe they are, and threatening that we’ll soon be covered in weeds, but the US Center for Disease Control found that 90% of the people they tested carried a mixture of pesticides in their bodies, many of which have been linked to cancer, birth defects and neurological problems.

It is time to join the 69 other municipalities where pesticide by laws have already been adopted, protecting some 11 million Canadians against unwanted exposure to synthetic lawn and garden

pesticides. See


I Find the Best Morṭgage Deals from Leading Lenders who Care about Sustainability

I arrange loans at the lowest rates with lenders who commit to community programs and investment, corporate social responsibility, and sustainable business practices.

Ian Baker, Morṭgage Consultant
(250) 592-8969

ian.baker@beyer morṭ
(In some rare, challenging situations, a broker/lender fee may apply)



Are you an Internet junkie? And into sustainability? Then mark December 1-3 in your Diary for the Habitat Jam, a 72 hour Internet based collaboration that will provide action ideas for the World Urban Forum 3, and help make our cities more sustainable. "Your contribution is vital. Join the Habitat JAM and be a catalyst of change. Let us, together, make this planet a better place to live." Register now at



Some sites that have passed my way:



Climate change is increasing in urgency all the time, and a hugely important event is coming up in Montreal in December known as "COP-11". The world is about to embark on discussions for Kyoto 2, that will begin when the current Kyoto Treaty ends in 2012. The US wants to stop it all dead in its tracks. Canada is in the chair, under Stephane Dion’s leadership, and the word is, he’s doing a great job. This is a critical time to keep the pressure on, and build global agreement towards Kyoto 2.

Action: Please write to Paul Martin, with a copy to your MP, urging him to support a bold, firm approach, and not give in to US pressures. For MP’s email addresses, see

The Rt Hon Paul Martin, Office of the Prime Minister, 80 Wellington St, Ottawa K1A 0A2


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EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria
V9E 2B9
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Author of "Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change"
(New Society Publishers)
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