Newsletter No. 52 - Serving
Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - July/August 1996
Back in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the International
Congress of Modern Architecture, guided by Le Corbusier, held a series of conferences
ending in a cruise from Marseilles to Athens, which produced the legendary Athens Charter,
inspired by Le Corbusier's dream of 'radiant cities' with high-rise towers in vast urban
parks, with elevated freeways and separate zones for living, recreation and work.
Traditional streetscapes and architecture were eliminated to make way for standardized
architecture and industrial technology. Out with the old ! In with the new !
The consequences were tragic, and even today, 40 years
after the architectural world realized its error, we still live with the consequences.
This May, the pendulum swung. Several hundred architects,
developers and public officials met in Charleston, South Carolina for the fourth annual
Congress of the New Urbanism, which ended in the adoption of a new Charter - the
antithesis of the 1933 Athens Charter. It calls for a return to traditional urban centres
and towns, reconfiguring the sprawling suburbs to make real neighbourhoods, creating
communities designed for pedestrians, bicycles and transit, where streets, squares and
greens have a real sense of place. Urban infill is seen as preferable to peripheral
expansion, while non-contiguous growth outside urban boundaries should be in "towns
and villages with their own urban edges, planned for a jobs/housing balance, not as
Here on Vancouver Island, we live with many sprawling
suburbs and car-dominated shopping malls. How do we begin to bring back a sense of place,
community and charm ?
In James Bay, the Five Corners shopping centre where
Thrifty Foods is located is the natural heart of James Bay, a community of 12,000 people.
Right now, it is completely dominated by cars, and people are really secondary. What would
it take to redesign it to make it a people-friendly market square ?
just ideas, but......Phase out most of the parking from in front of Thrifty's, and close
off Simcoe St where it comes in from the west, leaving a narrow route for emergency
vehicles. This creates a large pedestrian urban square. Plant trees, install a bandstand,
make space for dancing, and encourage cafes to spill out into the square.
To create a sense of entry, build a large arch across
Simcoe St to the west with residences built inside the arch above the street, to pay for
construction. Build two more arches on Menzies, one to the north and one to the south,
again with internal residences, and create raised bottleneck crosswalks to slow the
traffic moving along Menzies and Toronto Streets.
What about parking ? Thrifty's already offers a home
delivery service. Expand this by providing bicycle carts, enabling people to tow their
shopping home (just started in Totnes, South Devon, UK). Parking could be metered to
discourage lazy use, and phased out over five years as people adjusted to the new shopping
habits. A community minibus circling the James Bay streets with space for groceries and
supplies would help elderly people come to terms with the loss of parking. Create some new
parking at the blocked off end of Simcoe St; there may be other parking spaces which a
detailed walkabout would reveal.
Yes, there would be initial inconvenience, as people
adjusted to the new shopping habits. But there would also be a beautiful market square
where people could gather, take coffee, listen to music, watch their children play, and
enjoy open air art displays under the shade of the trees, and evening concerts. It is a
vision we really have to hold onto, while we consider the loss of the parking.
The biggest difficulty, apart from making the transition
away from easy parking, would be getting all the owners, planners, engineers, councillors
and community representatives around the same table to work out a joint agreement. There
would be a hundred objections, any one of which could kill the idea if the larger vision
was forgotten. Thrifty's might be able to open up their fresh produce section to spill out
into the market square. New retail shops might decide to fill in the spaces when they
realized what a wonderful space for people, culture and happenings the whole place was
becoming. It is such an enticing possibility.
The next time you visit your corner store or neighbourhood
centre, take a good look around. Could it be redesigned too, to make it a place for
gathering, street markets and music ? And the suburbs - could neighbourhood centres be
created out of nothing by choosing a location where the transit routes meet, narrowing the
streets, rezoning the nearby properties for commercial and retail, and installing a
village green, with trees and a pond ? It is all in the realm of the possible. Have a
great summer !
- Guy Dauncey
Published as a monthly service, nourishing
the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community, funded by your
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Many thanks to Chris Hanson, Elisabeth Bosher,
Elizabeth Woods, Fireweed, Helen Gamble (in memory of Kainan), Aaron Smeeth, Tony
Embledon, Carole Reimer, Jeff Stone, Tim Isaak, Marilyn Thaden Dexter, Douglas Crow, KJ
Hilborn, Dorothy Bishop, Pauline Barnes, Robert Mazerolle, Unlimited Possibilities, Coke
Pedersen and Wendy Schulz. Many thanks to you all.
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
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compatible. For info, call 595-4367, or 1-800-665-6944.
GREEN PARTY SUCCESS IN
The Nelson-Creston Greens received 10.9% of the vote in
the provincial election, securing a 3rd place finish. Support varied from a high of 29.1%
in Nelson, with the highest number of young unemployed voters, to a low of 3.3%. In
Winlaw, home community of incumbent MLA Corky Evans, the Green vote was at 23.7%. In 16 of
the 93 polls, where contentious logging plans for domestic watersheds are underway,
support for the Green party averaged 20%. The
Green Party candidate was Andy Shadrack.
We're looking for long-term co-owners and/or shorter-term
renters. 12 acres in the Highlands, 1/2 hour from Victoria with large home appropriate for
co-operative living. Children, music, organic gardening and orcharding, friends, working
and a little chaos. We have lived cooperatively for years and enjoy this life-style for
its diversity, and adventure. Flexible financial arrangements, but partners must be able
to finance roughly $200,000. Rent of 1 -2 bedrooms for Sept 1. Call Leah or Ambrose
The planned James Bay car-share co-operative has 25 of the
40 members it needs to get going. If you want to make a move towards more eco-friendly
travel and adopt a more planet-friendly lifestyle, call Kathryn Molloy, 995-0268.
B.C. REFERENDUM TO STOP
BEAR KILLING FOR TROPHY AND SPORT
This coming September, Western Canada Wilderness Committee will be
launching a 90 day campaign to collect signatures from 10% of the registered voters in
every constituency in B.C., to initiate a province-wide referendum to ban the trophy and
sport hunting of bears. In a recent Angus Reid poll, 78% of the public agreed that trophy
and sports hunting of bears should be banned. WC2 is looking for 50 canvassers in each of
B.C.'s 75 electoral districts, to collect signatures. To be a canvasser, you must be a
registered B.C. voter, have lived in B.C. for the past 6 months, and must witness each
signature collected. If you want to be a canvasser, and help end the needless killing of
black and grizzly bears in B.C., call the WC2 office at 1-800-661-WILD. The
referendum is not against hunting - only the hunting of bears.
The wolf has a long history of habitation on Vancouver
Island, and has been revered by the Island's native tribes for millennia. Due to past
poisoning and hunting, there are only 200 or so wolves left. Helen Gamble is gathering
stories and information to celebrate the wolf, and bring back its revered status. If you
want to help, write to her at 1899 Tull Ave, Courtenay V9N 3J8, or call 339-7458.
WILDING HERITAGE FARM
Every five days, one of the world's breeds of farm animals
becomes extinct - that's 73 breeds (5% of the total) lost to future generations every
year. At 1980 Koksilah Road, near Cowichan Bay, Nick Usborne runs Wilding Heritage Farm as
a Rare Breeds Survival Centre, with 17 of Canada's 60 rare breeds of farm animal. They do
conservation breeding programs, are open to the public 7 months a year, and welcome dozens
of school trips, bringing biodiversity into the classroom. They also work with
disadvantaged adults and children and special needs students, who respond well to the
close contact with animals. However, the Farm itself is in danger, and may be forced to
close as a conservation centre. The farm needs to raise $75,000 over the next 9 months,
$25,000 by August. It either needs dramatic fund-raising help; support from a foundation
or corporation; or a business partnership. If you can help with cash, advice or ideas,
call Nick at 746-6511. And plan a summer visit ! The farm is open Fridays to Mondays, 10 -
Joyce Nelson, local author and campaigner, has launched a
monthly newsletter called LYNX : A Newsletter in the Public Interest, covering stories
such as the corporate assault on Canada's native peoples, the power of US timber interests
and the threat to Canada's health-care system. Subscriptions are $30 waged, $18 unwaged.
Write to LYNX, PO Box 39012, James Bay PO, Victoria V8V 4X8
COHOUSING UNIT FOR SALE
Bright, spacious 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo for sale in
Cardiff Place, Canada's first cohousing community, in a prime Fairfield location, with
caring neighbours and shared weekly meals. $184,000. Call 381-5221
HELP BUILD A
Pacific Coast Savings is the largest credit union on the
Island, and the 2nd largest financial institution in Greater Victoria, with 100,000
members. As a credit union, unlike a bank, it is owned and controlled by its members, who
vote for the board of directors in annual elections. Pacific Coast is currently looking at
ways to encourage community economic development, so that members' savings can be used to
build an equitable, ecologically sustainable local economy; something that could make a
major difference to the community as a whole. Directors are paid around $14,000 pa for the
work they put in, which involves a willingness to do the necessary financial homework, a
commitment to social change and a good understanding of process. To be nominated, you must
have banked with Pacific Coast for a year. The deadline for nominations is September 14th.
Why not think about it ? For details, call Kate Colwood, Pacific Coast Savings, 380-3138,
and to discuss the idea, call Guy Dauncey at 881-1304.
PRAYER FOR AMERICA'S ROAD
This is the official Prayer of the American Road Builders'
Association, received over the Internet. (Source - After the Planners, Robert Goodman,
1971). Enjoy !
"O Almighty God, who has given us this earth and has
appointed men to have domination over it; who has commanded us to make straight the
highways, to lift up the valleys and to make mountains low, we ask thy blessing upon these
men who do just that. Fill them with a sense of accomplishment, not just for the roads
built, but for the ways opened for the lengthening of visions, the broader hopes and the
greater joys which makes these highways a possibility for mankind. Bless these, our
Nation's road builders, and their friends. For the benefits we reap from their labors, we
praise thee; may thy glory be revealed in us. Amen."
Look out - here comes the solar revolution ! This summer,
12 houses in Compton, Los Angeles, are being built with solar-voltaic shingles which
convert sunlight directly into electricity. The shingles will generate about 2Kw, 60% of
each home's electricity needs. In contrast to bolt-on solar panels, the shingles will form
an integral part of the roofs, reducing installation costs and allowing for greater
quality control. The pilot project is funded by the South Coast Air Quality Management
District, who will monitor performance and cost, and compare it to other homes in the same
development. If the project is successful, housing developers could offer solar-shingle
roofs as an option on new homes, and the increased demand could reduce the cost of
photovoltaics, making them more competitive with conventional utility power. Homes with
solar roofs could also generate power to recharge electric vehicles, providing a totally
emission-free source of transportation. The price of solarvoltaics is expected to become
competitive with oil and coal based energy around the year 2004.
NATURAL HOUSE CATALOG
If you're into eco-houses, ecovillages and
eco-architecture, you'll love David Pearson's new book, 'The Natural House Catalog'. With
beautiful full-colour illustrations that'll inspire you to want to build, it covers
everything from paints and finishes to composting toilets, natural air conditioning,
allergy free materials, solar and wind energy and sustainable timber, backed up with
thousands of addresses. (Fireside, Simon & Schuster, $31.00). If you want to eco-build
or ecorenovate this summer, Greenbuilt (383-7473), here in Victoria, will help you find
sustainably harvested timber and eco-materials.
The Ministry of Environment, with help from a host of
partners, has produced a miracle of a book in its 'Stewardship' series, called 'Community
Greenways - Linking Communities to Country and People to Nature'. It's surely a must for
every planner, developer, architect, landscape architect, councillor, regional director
and community activist, covering all the issues in a very specific, hands-on way, with a
host of maps, plans and illustrations. It's free, from BC Environment, Suite 300, 1005
Broad St, Victoria V8W 2A1. 1-800-387-9853.
GATHERING IN THE GREEN
If you want to celebrate the summer, the full moon, the
Earth and the friendship of like-minded people, there are gatherings on Salt Spring and
Denman Islands in July and August. Salt Spring starts with a 5-day 'We of the Moon'
retreat for women (July 29th - Aug 2nd) based around creation-centred spirituality,
Insight meditation and a Course in Miracles (call 537-4286), and a second retreat Aug.
26th - 30th. On Denman, the 7-day 'Gathering in the Green' (Aug 25th - 31st) is inspired
by ecofeminism and spiritual politics for both women and men, with a variety of
presenters, topics and activities, and ritual honouring of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. For
details, send sae to Women and the Earth, c/o Fireweed, Denman Island, V0R 1T0. Both cost
in the $300 - $400 range. And while you're planning summer get-aways, don't forget the
Community Development Institute in Nelson or the Applied Deep Ecology Course on Whidbey
Island (see Diary).
MARINE PROTECTED AREAS
The Galiano Conservancy Association is arranging a one-day
conference on Sat July 13th to look at the whole idea of marine protected areas, and in
particular, protection for the Trincomali Channel Rockfish Nursery. There are speakers
from the Marine Life Sanctuaries Society, the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans, and Canadian
Parks and Wilderness Society. The day starts at 12 noon, and is timed for the ferry from
Victoria. Details 539-2424.
SHOW THEM THE FOREST !
If you have visitors coming to the Island this summer,
Coastal Connections is offering an overnight trip to the Carmanah with a one-hour flight
over southern Vancouver Island, a gourmet picnic lunch, an interpretive hike through the
Carmanah rainforest, a traditional salmon barbecue prepared by a Ditidaht native cook on
the shores of Nitinat Lake, and overnight accommodation in the new Ditidaht village motel.
Departures for groups of 7 twice monthly, price $339. Coastal Connections also offers a
wide range of day-trips and outings. For info, call 480-9560 (1-800-840-HIKE).
Did you know ? DuPont are manufacturing 60,000 tonnes of
CFCs a year in Brazil, now that North America is phasing them out. CFCs are prime
destroyers of the planet's ozone layer. (BBC News, June 3rd).
Can you help ? Wanted - cold storage space and/or a site
to distribute organic fruit from the Okanagan (cherries, apricots) 2 days a week in the
summer. Contact Amelita Kucher, 598-8980.
ACTION OF THE MONTH :
MILL FARM, SALT SPRING
The Salt Spring Island community is desperately attempting
to protect one of the last substantial stands of old-growth timber in the whole Islands
Trust area. Situated on the slopes of Mount Bruce, above Musgrave Landing, Mill Farm's
pristine acreage has been in co-operative ownership for many years. Three off-island
partners are forcing a sale of the 160-acres, and have accepted an offer by logging
interests. The price-tag is $1.3 million, reflecting the value of the timber on the land.
Islanders are working 24 hours a day to raise pledges of $100,000 to help persuade the
federal/provincial Pacific Marine Heritage Legacy fund to buy the land, in time for a
probable court auction in early July. The mountain lands include Garry Oak meadows,
wetlands, arbutus woodlands, at least 30 threatened and vulnerable wildflower species, two
endangered butterflies, eagles' nests, raptors and reptiles. The Conservation Data Centre
gave the land its highest biodiversity ranking, and Nature Conservancy of Canada
identified the area as a high priority for conservation. Mill Farm sits right in the
middle of the western slopes of Mount Tuam and Mount Bruce, overlooking Satellite Channel,
land which many islanders see as a future park, with trails running from the water up to
- Action : If you can help in any way, either with pledges,
or by telling friends about the urgency, please do. The local campaign has so far raised
$48,000. For direct information, call Ann Richardson (653-4632) or Fiona Flook (653-9202),
at Salt Spring Conservancy. Letters should be sent to Paul Ramsey, Minister of
Environment, Legislative Assembly, Victoria V8V 1Z4, Fax 387-1356.
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 !
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