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

Executive director of The Solutions Project



Newsletter No. 48 - Serving Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - March 1996


With an election in the air and the Liberals leading in the polls, it is important to look at what the Liberals are promising when it comes to the environment.

Right now, we are consuming more scarce resources and producing more wastes every day, The forests, the agricultural land, the atmosphere, the ocean - all are suffering due to our relentless desire to consume more without thought for tomorrow, or for how the next generation is going to live. We are living in a period similar to the 1930s, when Churchill was alone in warning people about Germany, and most people were burying their heads in the sand.

A government cannot do everything to solve these problems; but a government which at least understands them is an essential beginning. So - how do the Liberals stand up ?

The new Liberal document 'The Courage to Change' says "We must protect our environment, while maintaining an economy where people can earn a living, provide for their families and provide for their futures. It is not a matter of choosing - we must do both. And we can."

Specifically, it says they will :

Protect a firm 12% of the province's land.
Introduce a Living Rivers Policy that recognizes the importance of BC's river system to our environmental, economic and social sustainability.
Expand the province's network of marine parks.
Manage air quality on a regional airshed basis.
Stop the Kemano Completion Project, and any other major water diversions
that might threaten the long-term health of our fishery, tourism and recreation facilities.
Establish regional transportation authorities, giving communities control over their own local transportation requirements.
Return the NDP forest stumpage surcharge fees to the regions from which they are collected, to be re-invested in the forests.
Legislate the BC Liberal Community Charter, to give more decisions to local communities.

That's what they're promising. There's nothing on the environment on the Liberal Party's Home Page. Another way to gauge their commitment is to look at their past record to see how Liberal MLAs think, and how they respond to environmental legislation :

  • On the NDP commitment to eliminate all pulp mill effluents containing chlorinated solids by the year 2002, the former Environment critic Simon de Jong said there was no evidence that chlorinated solids were toxic, and that tighter pollution standards were unnecessary.
  • On the clean air initiatives Moe Sihota has been bringing in, Transportation critic Doug Symons said he would 'soften' the standards. He later suggested he might have used the wrong word, but said Sihota was 'grandstanding', instead of consulting with industry. (Times Colonist, Dec 2, 1995)
  • On environmental regulations in general, Environment critic John van Dongen says that the provincial government is headed towards an environmental police state through over-regulation and over-assessment of industry, citing the Forest Practices Code as an example of an attempt by government to regulate an industry to death. He says officials should more often enforce the spirit, rather than the letter of the law. (Vancouver Sun, Feb 3rd '96).
  • On the Forest Practices Code, the Liberals voted against the million dollar fines for violators, but van Dongen says that rather than rewrite the Code, the Liberals would promote a new management approach, calling for a 'partnership mindset'. The Liberals also voted against the Forest Renewal Plan.
  • On global warming, Liberal MLA Dan Jarvis said "There's a large body of evidence out there to support the fact that what has been done in the past is not all that bad, and that the threat of impending ecological doom is not based on scientific evidence" (Hansard, June 21, 1994).
  • When it comes to parks, they have given the 12% commitment : but it is unlikely they would look sympathetically at any further extensions, however valuable the ecology. In the 1995 session, they voted to remove the Tatshenshini from its Class A park designation, and MLA Dan Jarvis said "...we'd let them mine the hell out of it" (Port Alberni Valley Times, June 17, '93). He went on to say "In the Liberal Party, we actually believe that you can mine in parks in a responsible manner" (Hansard). Gordon Campbell said that the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan "protects too much forest" (Province, June 24 94)
  • On the Agricultural Land Reserve, John van Dongen supports giving regions a greater voice in setting its boundaries (taking power away from the ALR commissioners), and perhaps making "regional public interest" a reason for appealing the Commission's decisions to cabinet.

It's pretty scanty, but it's all there is so far to judge where they stand. Let's hope for more details in the weeks to come. We've also got to remember that if a party thinks this way, it's also because many people think this way.

- Guy Dauncey


Published as a monthly service, nourishing the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community, funded by your donations.

Many thanks to the Garry Oak Meadow Preservation Society, the World Federalists, Monica Oldham, Gail Schacter, Myrna Boulding, Shirley Brodeur, Elly Roelofsen, Colin Graham, John Pirquet, Bennet Camp, Andrew Hunter, Kildara Farms, Envi Lawncare, Peter Schofield, Susan Scott, RH Kirby, Ruth Masters, Gail Schultz, Community Forum, Bernie Jones, Barbara Benoit and the Maplewood Naturopathic Centre. And thanks for the various personal greetings and encouragement you send, too !

Donations can be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1. If you don't want to receive EcoNews, or are going away, please let us know - it avoids wasting the postage. To receive EcoNews call (250) 881-1304, or email


Thanks to everyone who helped the Victoria Compost Education Centre by writing to the CRD Environment Cte - they received 99 letters and faxes altogether, and granted the funding they needed by an almost unanimous vote. Next - apologies to all you cyberfolks who tried to get the 50 HOT GREEN SITES - the correct address (as many discovered) is   Please feel free to try again. And fifthly, EcoNews already goes out to every councillor in the CRD, and in North Cowichan. If you think your councillors (and individual members of staff) would like to receive EcoNews, send me their address (and the staff members' names), tell me how many they need, and I'll add them to the list. The MLAs all get EcoNews through their Caucus offices. And PS - we're running low on cash !


For the 7th year in succession, Doug Koch and the Vancouver Island Earth Works Society are pulling together an impressive program of events for Earthweek, Friday April 19th - Sunday April 28th. In 1990 there were 19 special events and projects on the Island; by 1995, that had grown to 95. If you are involved with a school, street, group, project or initiative during Earthweek, give Doug a shout on 383-5765. All this impressive activity costs money, and the Earth Works Society is open to receiving support (and tax-deductible donations) from individuals, families, businesses or other non--profits. The team that is organizing the 1996 EarthWalk can also use as many volunteers as are willing to help as stewards, technical crew, etc. Call Peter Ronald, 361-2610 if you can help.


One thing is certain, as we head into the 21st century. If we don't succeed in working together as an interdependent community of nations, living together in this beautiful but very fragile home we share, we are in dead trouble. We are all used to national law - but the concept of international law is still very new. A group of organizations is hosting a major conference on the matter at UVic, March 29th - 30th, when discussions will focus on the current state of play as regards the new Laws of the Sea, the World Forest Convention, the Rio treaties on biodiversity and climate change, and the question of the illegality of nuclear weapons. The confirmed speakers include Judge Ulf Panzer, of Hamburg, who in 1987 led a blockade by German judges of an American nuclear weapons base in Germany - which caused a definite ripple of anxiety through the legal profession -, Ovide Mercredi, Ted McWhinney, MP, and Ambassador Alan Beesley (rtd), as well as many local eco-luminaries. The federal and provincial Environment Ministers have not yet confirmed. Admission is by donation. For details, call Bruce Torrie, 477-0555.


For several years, a revolution has been happening in the fields of architecture, design, energy efficiency and building materials. This month, there is a rare opportunity to spend with some of the leaders of this revolution in North America, learning about their experience. the seminar is being put on by the Victoria Chapter of the Real Estate Institute of BC, and organized by ex-realtor Roger Colwill, who has made a dramatic career change over the last 7 years, and now devotes all of his time to working for causes and issues which help build a more whole, livable planet. Among the presenters are Maureen Cureton, from the world-leading Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado, Harold Kalke, a Vancouver developer who has integrated a number of new green initiatives into a large new commercial block on West 4th Avenue, Teresa Coady, a BC leader in the design of green buildings, and Aidan Stretch, whose Seattle company has designed Patagonia's new Worldwide Office Facility in an eco-friendly way. The day also includes a guided tour of Green Building sites on the Internet, and a buffet luncheon. The cost is $70 to non-members. For details, call Roger Colwill, 598-0077.


Shitake mushrooms are very expensive, but they pack a high medicinal value, and are known as an immune system booster. In this climate, it is possible to grow them by purchasing plugs of the spawn and inserting them into fallen oak, chestnut, alder or maple logs that have started to rot. They take 2 years to fruit, and then go on doing so for 3-5 years. If you'd like growing instructions, call Bruce Torrie, 477-0555.


Up at UVic, the Environmental Studies Students Association is creating a campus organic food garden, and is looking for help. They've got a site, and their vision is a garden of vegetables, flowers, herbs, berries and fruit trees with a central area with benches where people can gather, and also hold small classes. They want to provide healthy food for students, and build a sense of community. If anyone can help with advice, ideas, assistance, equipment, seedlings, fruit trees or even soil, please call ESSA at 721-7355 or Vickey at 920-9835. Still up at UVic, a diverse group of students have formed an Ecological Technology Centre, with interests including conservation, urban ecology, industrial ecology and ecological lifestyles. They are planning a campus-wide environmental awareness week this fall, and an ongoing eco-campus project to make the whole campus more green. They meet every Wednesday, 6.30pm in the SUB multi-purpose room, and have a pigeon-hole in the VIPERG office, near Cinecenta. Also 


The Victoria International Development Education Ass'n (VIDEA) is seeking a 16 hours per week Executive Director on 6 month contract, starting April 1st - for details call 477-7547. The UVic Chair of Environmental Law & Policy is seeking an ecologist or environmental scientist as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in science policy for one year, and offering 3 Eco-Research Fellowships up to $10,000/year to graduates interested in working on a cross-disciplinary basis. For details, write to Kimberley Stratford, Project Admin, Environmental Law, MS 8150 PO Box 2400, Victoria V8W 3H7.


In Edinburgh, Scotland, people are clamouring to live in new homes specifically designed for people who agree not to own a private car. The houses are being planned by Edinburgh City Council for a site 2 miles from the city centre. Residents will have to sign an undertaking not to own a car and to cycle or use public transport instead. For special journeys, cars will be available at cheap rates from a local car-hire firm. (Source, Planetary Connections. Details 01144-131-220-3663). Meanwhile, here in Victoria, the Garden City Car-Share Co-operative, which will enable people to share car-ownership instead of owning privately, is working away at its business plans. If you live in James Bay and would like to help, please call Kathryn Molloy on 995-0268.


......Are you a reluctant cyclist ? A lazy cyclist ? An "I would if only I felt more safe" cyclist ? For $75, you can learn how to blow away your fears by enrolling in Ray Hall's Can Bike Course. It takes place over 4 Saturdays in March from 9-4pm, up at UVic, and there's a one-day 'Introduction to Cycling Skills' course on Sunday March 17th for $30. Open up new worlds of fresh air and freedom ! Could be the best dollars you've spent all year. Ray Hall, Canadian Cycling Association, 380-0172.



South of the border, over 20 Christian organizations have met together and formed the Christian Society of the Green Cross. The group includes organizations representing Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Mennonites, World Vision, Habitat for Humanity and the Carter Presidential Centre. In their mission statement, they emphasize that environmental degradation has reached unprecedented proportions, resulting in deepened poverty and a reduced carrying capacity to the land. "The Green Cross puts Christian earth stewardship into action and provides a unique opportunity to bring blue collar people, the poor and people of color into ecological concern." Among the activities being planned are habitat restoration, waste reduction, youth education, resource conservation, clean-up projects, urban gardens, tree-planing, the education of youth groups and church congregations, programs to address the consumer attitudes that underlie overconsumption, and the creation of model communities which demonstrate and promote lifestyle change. The first Green Cross chapter has been formed at Wittenberg University, Ohio, where students are developing a model of campus organic gardening. They publish the Green Cross magazine, to keep members in touch. For details, write to Green Cross, 10 East Lancaster Avenue, Wynnewood, PA 19096-3495, USA.

"Never doubt
that a small group
of concerned citizens
can change the world.
Indeed, it is
the only thing
that ever has."



If everyone on the Earth lived the same way we do in B.C., it would need two more "unused" planet Earths to produce the resources, absorb the wastes, and maintain the life support system that nature provides. The concept of the 'ecological footprint' has been around for a while, thanks to the good folks at UBC School of community and Regional Planning, and now the book is out : 'Our Ecological Footprint : Reducing Human Impact on the Earth' ($17.95 + $3 post + GST from New Society, PO Box 189, Gabriola, BC V0R 1X0, 1-800-567-6772 - and good bookshops). Ecological footprint analysis can show us by just how much we have to reduce our consumption, improve our technology and change our behaviour in order to achieve sustainability. As such, it's a powerful planning tool which all future projects, developments and subdivisions should be asked to address.


Oh Progress, how shall I measure thee ?
By every dollar spent, for good or ill -
Thus shall we grow, and grow more
Glorious still, till all's devoured, and all God's glory gone.

Then shall we say "Oh, wealth ! How Rich our world,
that every day we spend
So much to clean the air, so much to make the water clear."

Strange it is now to think of times
When poets wrote of 'wealth' as if she
Were some glorious mystery of soul,
Of fields that flew a thousand flowers
Or peace, as tender as the dew.

What is this "Progress", then, that does
Betray us so ?
And we, so slow to see the fault ?
Maybe the fault is ours, and ours the love foreshortened.

So, let us measure thee anew,
and in full honesty count all the details
lest we be deceived.
We'll redefine you, then, and when the sums are in,
assess the love, and ponder
what remains.

Poetry aside, Clifford Cobb and Ted Halstead, at a US project called 'Redefining Progress' have put their minds to a rigorous analysis of what they call 'genuine progress', counting in all the losses, both ecological and social, as well as the gains. Under existing GDP thinking, a car crash, an oil spill or a toxic waste clean-up all count as "progress" because they all require us to spend more money. If you stay home to look after your children, that counts for nothing - but if you spend money to pay for a childminder, that adds to the nation's GDP and counts as "progress". In 'Redefining Progress' (One Kearney St, 4th flr, San Francisco, CA 94108), the team counted over 20 aspects of US economic life that GDP ignores, so that the benefits of economic activity could be weighed against the costs. The results show that from 1950 to 1995, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose from 8200 units to 16,800 units, but the 'Genuine Progress Indicator' (GPI) started at 6000 units, rose to a peak of 7,000 units in the late 1960s, and has been falling ever since, to 4,000 units in 1995. Thus are we fooled, and all Earth's treasure stolen.


If this kind of thinking interests you, you might want to join the New Economics Foundation, in London, UK. Founded in 1985, to help organize 'The Other Economic Summit', which happens in parallel with the G-7 meeting of finance ministers every summer, the Foundation has worked to peel away the nonsense that passes for 'normal' economics, and to develop an economics that will work for a 'just and sustainable economy'. As well as producing regular reports and briefing papers, all wonderfully free of jargon and incomprehensible mathematics, the Foundation publishes a quarterly newsletter with stories on community banks, neighbourhood coops, alternative currencies, guaranteed annual income, green budgeting, ecological taxation, etc. Send $5 for a sample copy to New Economics Foundation, 1st floor, Vine Court, 112-116 Whitechapel Rd, London E1 1JE, UK.  


EcoNews provides this electronic version of the newsletter free of charge even though it costs time and money to produce. Please feel free to repost. You can help by making a donation, whether $5 or $100, to:

EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria, B.C. V8X 3X1, Canada. Thanks !

Click here for previous issues of EcoNews.

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

Available free by mail or email

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

EcoNews is printed on Tree-Free paper from Ecosource