EcoNews
Newsletter #216 - September 2011
Promoting the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island
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EcoNews is a free monthly newsletter funded by your kind donations. It dreams of a world blessed by the harmony of nature, the pleasures of community, and the joys of personal fulfillment, guided and protected by our active citizenship.
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Many thanksto The First Unitarian Church of Victoria (congregational collection), The Pinch Group at Raymond James, Marian Kemp, R. Bilash, Janet Meadows, Helga Naguib, Christine Johnston, Doreen Hynd, Arnold Ranneris, Alison Fitzgerald, Pat Johnston, Chris Bullock, Hilda Dahl, Eleanor McKinnon, Richard Pearson, Marlene Rice, Roberta Hower, Andy Robertson, Nancy Turner, P. Buxcey, Gillian Smith, Ed Mackenzie, Dave Secco, Mignon & George Lundmark, Noel Taylor, Martin Weideman, Miriam Thorn, Andrew Pringle, Elizabeth Nuse, Anita Galitzine, Michael Collins, Janice Turner, Jean Rankin, Alison McLaren, Marian Kemp, Kathryn Harcourt, Marie Bohlen, Susan Grout, Brian Pinch, Peter Schofield, Mark Whitear, Barbara Hourston, Marya Nijland, Barbara Taylor, Penny Furnes, Peter Lamb, Jack & Heide Martin, Ruth Masters, Rich Mably, Sandra McPherson, Josephine Munro, Marta Gassler, Louise Irwin, Francis Kremler, Alan Dolan, Bob Willard, Frank Martens, Dennis Dolphin, Jean Wallace & Marjorie Vachell. Thankyou!
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Saanich Organics Box Program

Certified organic veggies from our farms delivered directly to you.

www.saanichorganics.com

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Contact EcoNews

Guy Dauncey, Editor
13561 Barney Road, Ladysmith, BC
CANADA V9G 1E9
Tel (250) 924-1445
www.earthfuture.com

Executive director
The Solutions Project

Editorial

IT’S TIME TO STOP THE PESTICIDES

Over millions of years of evolution, every kind of insect and bacterium has evolved, seeking its niche in the world. There are over a million insect species - and sometimes a gardener may think that they’re all eating the roses at once.

No problem, however - we are clever. We can reach for the pesticides!

Spray, spray, spray away, gently with the breeze,
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, spray away disease.

At first blush, the magic works. The bugs disappear. Your lawn is so immaculate you could invite the Queen to dine on it. Isn’t it amazing what modern science can achieve?

But then the dogs start dying. They don’t know you’ve sprayed the lawn, and they romp and roll, finishing with a good licking to clean their paws.

Between 1975 and 1995 the incidence of bladder cancer in dogs examined at veterinary teaching schools in North America increased six-fold, with Scottish terriers, Shetland sheepdogs, wirehaired fox terriers and West Highland white terriers having a higher risk than mixed breeds.

When researchers interviewed the owners of Scottish terriers with bladder cancer, they found that dogs whose owners had used phenoxy acid herbicides on their lawns were four to seven times more likely to have cancer than dogs whose owners had not.

And then the children start getting cancer. A 1995 study by Jack Leiss and David Savitz published in the American Journal of Public Health found that children whose yards were treated with pesticides were four times more likely to have soft-tissue sarcomas.

Another study, by R. Lowengart, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 1987, found that the parents’ use of pesticides during pregnancy was linked to a 3 to 9-fold increase in childhood leukemia.

And then there are the golf courses. When the 10-year-old Jean-Dominique Levesque-Reneé of Montreal was in hospital with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1994, with only a 50% chance of surviving, he did some homework.

PesticideFirst he discovered that half the area where he had grown up on L'Île-Bizard had golf courses that were routinely sprayed with pesticides. Then he learned that the herbicide 2,4-D, linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, had been sprayed on their lawn every summer since he was a toddler.

While in hospital, he met other children with childhood cancer, and built up a map of Quebec showing where they lived. 22 came from L'Île-Bizard, where the golf courses were, and their rate of childhood cancer was 37 times higher than normal. When he left hospital, he became a persistent activist for by-laws to ban the cosmetic use of pesticides.

And this is where we come in. Quebec, Newfoundland, PEI, New Brunswick and Ontario all have legislation that bans the cosmetic use of pesticides and herbicides, and right now - but only until February 15th - British Columbia is gathering public feedback on its own proposed legislation.

The proposed legislation as it stands is not strong enough, however. The Canadian Cancer Society has joined with a number of health and environmental organizations to call for legislation that will prohibit the use, sale, and retail display of chemical pesticides for lawns, gardens, and non-agricultural landscaping. Their ideal legislation would allow exemptions only to protect public health; provide public education about the ban and alternatives to chemical pesticides; include effective mechanisms for enforcement; exclude the use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which allows the use of pesticides as a last resort to deal with weeds and insects; and be passed in 2010 and fully implemented by 2012.

Barbara Kaminsky, CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society, writes: “A full 76% of British Columbians support the Canadian Cancer Society’s position that there should be provincial legislation to restrict cosmetic pesticide use. And so does the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. Over 25 municipalities have adopted cosmetic pesticide bylaws, and while this is good, it isn’t enough. The BC government must act so that these products aren’t for sale in retail stores, and so that all British Columbians are protected from exposure to cosmetic chemical pesticides.”

This is politics, however, and you can be sure that the companies that sell the pesticides are lobbying for legislation that is weak and woolly.

Please, for the sake of our children, our pets, and ourselves, go to www.advocate.ccsbcy.ca and send an email to reinforce the Canadian Cancer Society’s push. Five minutes, that’s all it needs.

- Guy Dauncey


Guy Dauncey is co-author of the book Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic, from which some of this text has been taken.

The Eco-Personals

$1.00 a word. Max 5 lines; non-profits, low-income free. 1" box ad $50


Lovely room to rent, close to ocean, downtown, $30/night, 250-382-3810


For rent: New legal suite in "green" house. Centrally located. Loaded with features. 250-386-3886.


Wanted: might you be a potential board member for City Green? We’re an enterprising non-profit dedicated to improving the energy efficiency of BC’s homes and buildings. See www.citygreen.ca/volunteer-opportunities for details.


Seeking conservation-minded buyer for very special 2+ acres (Gulf Islands).
 Contact Greg Rowland at Holmes Realty 
877-656-0911 or 250-656-0911 greg@gregrowland.ca 
 TLC Members advantage: Donation of 25% of Commission Fees.


For sale: 3 bedroom home at Creekside Co-housing in Courtenay. See: www.creeksidecommons.ca

Green Bites

MADRONA FARM

Last month, Madrona Farm in Victoria’s Blenkinsop Valley needed $800,000 by mid-January to guarantee the farm’s preservation as a working organic farm and centre for farming sustainability. When we told the story, we mentioned Ed Johnston’s generous offer to donate $200,000 if someone else would match his offer.

Well, it happened! Mel McDonald, a long-time EcoNews reader and supporter, tuned into his celestial angels, who said “Absolutely, unconditionally, yes”. So he picked up the phone to Bill Turner, and matched the $200,000 donation.

Thankyou, Ed and Mel! The property owners have granted a 60-day extension, so the new deadline is March 15th for the final $287,000 - and much is coming in small donations, so they DO matter.

If you can help, you can do so on-line at www.madronafarm.com, or by mail to The Land Conservancy (marked for Madrona Farm), 301 - 1195 Esquimalt Rd, Victoria V9A 3N6. Since 1997, TLC has protected almost 120,000 acres of sensitive and threatened lands in 300 projects, and grown to include over 7,000 members.

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SEEDY SATURDAY!

Seedy SaturdayLaunch the garden! This is the time of year when everyone who wants to grow more food comes out from hibernation, and hoofs it to the nearest Seedy Saturday - the great community gatherings where you can buy local organic seeds, listen to speakers, and tune into everything you want for the season ahead.

Seeds are such amazing things. One tiny seed can turn into a gorgeous plant full of tomatoes, while another, that looks almost identical, can turn into a cabbage. 350 million years - that’s how long seed-bearing plants have been evolving to offer us their gifts. Without them, what would we be?

On the Island, Seedy Saturdays are happening in Victoria, Sooke, Salt Spring, Cobble Hill, Duncan, Nanaimo, Qualicum, Courtenay and Denman. Don’t miss out!

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SEEDS OF VICTORIA
Certified Organic (IOPA 1046)
Local Seeds $2.95 per packet
See 2010 on-line seed catalogue

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REGIONAL GROWTH

Our Island’s population is growing because people want to come and live here, but if we try to stop it the pressure on housing will drive prices higher, making it even harder for people on lower incomes to find a place to live. We need to accommodate growth, but we need to do so ideally by building zero-carbon homes in complete community ecovillage clusters, and infilling the low density areas in our existing urban form.

To many local developers, however, all that farmland looks enticingly attractive. What should our regional growth strategy look like? On Thur February 4th, the CRD is holding an open house and presentation on just this topic, to help us understand what’s happening, and become more engaged. See Green Diary.

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VANTREIGHT FARMS

On the Saanich Peninsula, meanwhile, Vantreight Farms (where the daffodils grow) wants to take a forest knoll surrounded by fields at 8410 Wallace Drive, clear 65% of it, and turn it into housing development, claiming that the 89 townhouses, duplexes and single family dwelling will be “rural”. The plan is in direct contradiction to Central Saanich’s regional context statement, but the council is claiming that since the suburban development is “rural”, it does not breach the urban containment boundary, put there by the Regional Growth Strategy to prevent developments like this.

Farmland needs forest buffers for the birds, insects and wildlife that help farms flourish. Vantreight Farms is in the process of going organic on 2% of its land (15 out of 750 acres), but unless the fields that surround the hilltop are also farmed organically, the people and children who live there will be at high risk of being poisoned by drift from chemical pesticides and/or herbicides.
   
Vantreight Farms has been farming on the Saanich peninsula since 1884, and is facing a tough financial challenge resulting from feuding between the two sons following the death of their father.

Ian Vantreight has many plans to make his whole farming operation more sustainable, so it’s easy to feel sympathy. But is this the right place to pack in the housing? And what signal will it send to other developers if they can simply label their projects “rural”, and claim that they don’t offend the urban containment boundary that has been put there to stop urban sprawl?

It’s a very hot topic right now. In Europe, rural areas are dotted with villages often smaller than this - but they come complete with their own economies, stores, and meeting places - they’re not just a bunch of houses dumped at the end of a road.
   
For details of the Vantreight Hill Project plan, see www.daffodil.com. For the arguments against, see www.saveourruralland.blogspot.com.

To send your views, write to Central Saanich Mayor & Council, 1903 Mount Newton Cross Roads, Saanichton V8M 2A9 municipalhall@csaanich.ca

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SOLAR HOT WATER

Solar hot waterIt is possible that February may see the launch of a unique extra incentive for solar hot water systems in BC, with an additional $1,000 available in support.

This may be a time-limited “once only” opportunity, however, limited to 200 buyers, and with a March 31st deadline for actual installation.

So if you’ve been wondering about solar hot water, but not yet taken the plunge, now would be a very smart time to do so. There are 27 solar hot water companies registered for the SolarBC program, so there’s good choice, but you’ll need to move quickly to get through the hoops.
  
Step 1: Check that your home has good solar potential. If the roof gets good sun, that’s basically all you need. You can also use www.solarrating.ca for a free DIY solar evaluation.
  
Step 2: Learn about the SolarBC program by taking 15’ to explore it here: www.solarbc.ca/install/households
   
Step 3: Think about getting an energy assessment done on your home - go to CityGreen.ca (1-866-381-9995) or see the full listing at http://bit.ly/9BjCA3. It’ll cost $150, and give you a Home Energy Rating, guidance on how to improve its efficiency, and open the door to an additional $1,250 on top of the SolarBC rebate, plus up to $5,000 in grants for other green retrofit projects.
   
Step 4: Look at photos to get a sense of what’s available in BC - see   www.flickr.com/photos/solarbc. Read case studies from people who have installed solar hot water at www.solarbc.ca/learn/case-studies, and study the choice of systems at www.solarbc.ca/learn/systems.
   
Step 5: Learn about the average cost of a system ($6,800), and how the available grants can reduce this by up to $2,375 - or $3,375 if the additional time-limited incentive is put in place. If you’ve not got cash in hand, learn about SolarBC Low-Interest Financing, and how some of the incentives can be converted into a zero-interest loan, with monthly repayments over 5 years. See www.solarbc.ca/learn/incentives-costs
   
Step 6: You’re now ready to pick up the phone, call a registered installer, and talk to them. They’ll come out to your house and give you a quote. There’s a list at www.solarbc.ca/learn/installers
   
Step 7: Decide! From this point on, your installer will look after the details, and you’ll soon be enjoying water heated directly by the sun. Then you can submit your story to the SolarBC website, so that others can benefit too. But don’t delay - these steps take time, and the time-limited offer may expire on March 31st.

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Modern Love Design Studio

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CYCLING FOR SUSTAINABILITY

Are you young, and yearning for a great adventure that will help change the world? The Otesha Project is a youth led charitable organization that mobilizes and equips Canadians to create local and global change through individual and collective choices.  Their vision is to see sustainable consumption and lifestyle choices enter the mainstream of Canadian culture.
   
They do it by undertaking major long-distance cycling tours and presenting educational programs in the communities they visit using theatre, experiential activities, and storytelling.  To date, they have reached over 100,000 people and trained over 300 sustainability advocates. 

This year they have three tours: A Farm Tour Ottawa to Toronto (May/June); Vancouver to Ottawa (June/Oct); and Fredericton to Halifax (Sept/Nov). If your heart says “Why not?” the time to apply is now. See www.otesha.ca

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CLIMATE DENIAL INDUSTRY

More post-Copenhagen thoughts, when everyone is feeling the hurt of failure. We know the technologies and lifestyle changes that can achieve a zero-carbon, climate-friendly world. We also know what the best policies are. I’ve written about them all in The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming.

What we lack is the political leadership to press ahead, and that’s because we lack the public support - and that, my friends, is because the climate denial industry has done such an effective job in encouraging doubt and skepticism, funneling millions of dollars to right-wing think tanks whose supporters hate the idea that Al Gore and his environmental friends might be right.
   
The International Energy Agency has just announced that every year of delayed action to address climate change is adding $500 billion to the price tag of saving the planet - and all because of the well-organized climate denial industry.
    
How do we stop it? One possibility is a worldwide boycott of ExxonMobil, and every Esso and Mobil gas station. They are the only major oil company that denies the urgency of global warming and funds global warming skeptics. There’s a campaign at www.exxposeexxon.com, but it has not been updated since 2007. It was the boycotts that helped end Apartheid in South Africa - maybe they can make the difference now, as well?

Action of the Month

ROYAL BANK OF TAR SANDS

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has been operating since 1864, and it works hard on a number of environmental fronts, making climate change, forestry, biodiversity, indigenous peoples and water its priority environmental issues. (See www.rbc.com/environment).
   
It is also the leading financier of companies that extract oil from the Alberta tar sands, however. According to Bloomberg’s, just since 2007 it has backed $14.3 billion (USD) in credit to a host of tar sands companies.

During the Vancouver Olympics, for which RBC is a sponsor, the Rainforest Action Network is organizing a campaign to draw public awareness to the RBC’s role, and at http://ran.org/tarsands you can download a petition and leaflets to distribute at Royal Bank of Canada branches, asking them to take a pledge to stop financing the tar sands.

Action

Write to Gordon Nixon, CEO of RBC, 200 Bay Street, P.O. Box 1, Royal Bank Plaza, Toronto, M5J 2J5, urging his bank to stop financing the tar sands companies.

PS: You can also join the Facebook Campaign www.facebook.com/tarsands and see www.tarsandswatch.org.

The Wonderful World of Web

Some noteworthy sites that have passed my way:

Submissions to EcoNews

To buy ad space in the next EcoNews, or to submit your event to next month's Green Diary, please contact:

Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
CANADA V9E 2B9
Tel (250) 881-1304
guydauncey@earthfuture.com

Deadline for April issue March 24th

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