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

Executive director of The Solutions Project

 

 ECONEWS


Newsletter No. 58 - Serving Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - February 1997


FROM THE SOOKE HILLS, ONWARD TO PARADISE

The Sooke Hills have been saved! The work of the past three years has paid off, and the champagne has been opened. All that remains now is for Ayum Creek to be protected, to complete the dream.

To Ray Zimmerman, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee and so many others, the hills give many thanks, as do so many Victorians. Those hills will now be there for the deer, the bears, the wolves and cougars, the trees and wildflowers, and for ourselves. They will be there for our children to enjoy, and our children's children's children.

Further to this, Victoria will gain great economic strength and benefit from this decision. This isn't normally an argument that holds much sway with naturalists and hikers, but it is an important one, that deserves due reflection.

All over North America, populations are moving as people seek places to live and work where there is quality, nature, and a sense of peace. Life's not just about rushing, working, and dropping dead at 60. People need nature as much as the bears and cougars do : we are just as much creatures of nature as they, underneath our urban ways.

By building a city which exists in harmony with nature we build a future whose people will hold and protect it with great joy - and for business, there is no better kind of stability than this.

So what would it take for the whole of Victoria to reflect the same harmony which can be found in the woods, and in special places like Beacon Hill Park and the Dallas Road cliffs ? How can we protect Victoria, and the western communities in particular, from falling into the scattered sameness that marks the sprawl of subdivisions all over North America ? What can we do, as a city, to create an urban form that will live up to the beauty of the hills to the west ?

Amalgamate all the many municipalities and then start doing some proper regional planning on social and ecological lines, is one possible answer - but at the risk of losing the vibrant participation and local caretaking which are such positive features of our local democracies.

Strengthen the existing regional planning legislation, to make it mandatory for municipalities to incorporate social and ecological criteria into their Official Community Plans and zoning bylaws, is another answer.

Here are some of the new criteria which could help make Greater Victoria a match for the beauty of the Sooke Hills :

  • Create urban containment boundaries for the western communities, to ensure that there is a clear dividing line between urban and the rural, and the wild.
  • Strengthen existing neighbourhood centres around Seven Minute Walking Circles, so that people are able to walk to the local shops and businesses, and not feel they have to drive. Rezone the centres to encourage more housing, and more commercial activity.
  • Build new neighbourhood centres in the suburbs for the same reasons, to create a local sense of place, and belonging, and to turn the suburbs into living villages.
  • Build stronger local economies in Colwood, Langford, Metchosin, Sooke and the Highlands, so that residents do not need to commute so much, chewing up the city streets.
  • Accelerate the plans for a city-wide network of cycling and pedestrian greenways, taking money out of the road maintenance budgets to do so, so that it is easier to get around the city safely without using the busy roads.
  • Develop binding plans to reduce traffic in the region by 10% by 2005, with more support for transit, car sharing, telecommuting, cycling and pedestrian travel, to take up the slack. The city's car population is increasing at twice the speed of the human population, and if there is one thing that is destroying the social and environmental fabric of our city, it is the increased traffic.
  • Encourage local residents to set up associations on every street and block, so that they can organize great street parties, and turn their attentions to things like traffic calming, reducing their own car travel, sharing resources with each other, and helping and supporting each other, not just in emergencies, but every day.
  • Create much stronger protection for the city's existing trees, creeks, lakes and green spaces, and convert derelict green spaces into proper parks and urban wildernesses.

What is a city ? A mess of busy, noisy streets which we crave to escape from, or a celebration of community, culture and art ? Now that our western boundary is secure, and will be a wilderness park for ever, we need to turn our attention to the city itself. With just a little care, Victoria could be a shining example of how city, business, people and nature can live in harmony. With just a little care.

- Guy Dauncey


ECONEWS

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

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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 guydauncey@earthfuture.com


TAHSIS SMELLS REAL !

Julie Johnston writes : Tahsis is, by reputation, the rainiest corner of North America. I expected nothing but rain and dreariness. Tahsis is also, however, full of surprises and good news. In this geographically and psychologically remote village sits an elaborate recycling centre. In this community of pick-up trucks and 4 x 4s, a local artist creates works of art to support the salmon enhancement program. Local folks who care about their northwest coast environment know they have a voice on ecological and resource issues. Rain has not dampened the sense of stewardship among hunters, fishers, cavers, hikers, kayakers and other boaters.

Artist Ava Haw, motivated by the shut down salmon fishery, created Adopt-a-fish. She sells her handpainted fish pillows to pay for cleaning up creeks, restoring spawning beds, and releasing 350,000 salmon fry each year. When citizens learned the landfill would be full by 2005, forcing taxes up, a full-blown German-style recycling centre was set up.

A further environmental achievement is the Nootka Resource Board. A fledgling of the interministerial Land Use Coordinating Office, it was born to advise on local issues arising from the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan. The Board is committed to sustainable development : 'protecting and restoring the quality and integrity of the environment, and securing a sound and prosperous economy for present and future generations'. It is a broad-based community sounding board, with balanced representation from local governments, industry, social organizations, and economic, environmental, recreational and First Nations interests, from Tahsis and neighbouring communities. The government is counting on the board to be a credible official voice for local people on resource issues. It meets each month in a different spot, and welcomes public input.

So each day in Tahsis I expect nothing more than rain and dreariness, but each day my new home town plays tricks on these expectations. The air is always freshly laundered in Tahsis - by the rain, the showers, the downpours, the storms, the deluges, the drizzles, the light sprinkles, the sleet, the snow, the winds, the clouds, the mists, the blue skies, the saltwater, the tides...with the faintest hint of hemlock, lumbered down at the sawmill. Tahsis smells real ! And with all the environmental success stories in this village, I have proof the people here want it to stay that way.

Julie Johnston is a teacher with a special interest in deep ecology, simple living, and outdoor and environmental education. You can find her at (250) 564-5545.


SEEDY SATURDAY

On February 15th, Victoria's big Seedy Saturday takes place at South Park School in James Bay (see Diary), with many local seed and plant growers, a community seed swap table, and lots of fun. There will also be a special feature display called 'Towards a New Generation of Gardeners', showing how local schools are transforming their schoolgrounds into landscapes for learning and gardening projects. Details from Carolyn, 592-4472.


RICH, CRUMBLY COMPOST

Does the sight of rich, black compost thrill you to your roots ? The Master Composter Volunteer Training Program starts March 6th, over 4 evenings and 2 Saturday workshops. Sign-up is limited, so call the Compost Education Centre now for details. Tel 386-9676.


ATTENTION YOUNG PEOPLE !
EARTH WEEK WRITING & ART PRIZES

Earth Week is coming up in April, and the Vancouver Island Earth Works Society will be producing a calendar of events across the Island, as they have done so valiantly for the past seven years. Young people are invited to submit narrative, poems, cartoons and images imagining the steps that will be needed to create a better world by the year 2020, the 50th anniversary of EarthDay. 500 word limit; prizes in each category. Deadline March 21st, but the sooner the better. Volunteers are also needed to help produce the magazine, and Earth Week. Contact Doug Koch, Earthworks (250) 383-5765. www.islandnet.com/~views


CARBON CYCLE TO BICYCLE

Looking ahead to April 30th, Victoria's Skies Above Foundation is organizing a major international conference at UVic on global warming and climate change entitled 'From Carbon Cycle to Bicycle', with more than 40 speakers from BC and around the world. The focus will be on the loss of biomass in the oceans, forests, grasslands and wetlands, the impacts of global change on the carbon cycle, and the policies and initiatives which are needed to increase carbon sinks and reduce emissions. Canada's commitment is to reduce greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels - but B.C.'s 1994 emissions were 12% higher than the 1990 level, and still increasing, so we're heading in the wrong direction. Current logging practices make things worse by diminishing the carbon sink. This conference will be very large, so if you can volunteer to help in any way, before or during the conference, call Bruce Torrie, 477-0555. www.islandnet.com/~skies


A ROAD TRAFFIC REDUCTION BILL

Meanwhile in Britain, where frustration with excess traffic is reaching boiling point, the Road Traffic Reduction Bill, promoted by Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and Friends of the Earth, was to have received Second Reading on Jan 24th. If passed, it would require the Government to draw up plans to achieve a 5 per cent reduction in traffic miles by 2005, and 10 per cent by 2010, with reports to be issued and debated annually. The bill calls on municipalities and regions to draw up local measures for reducing traffic by encouraging cycling and walking and providing better public transport in their area. Over 220 MPs have said they will support the Bill, which has backing from 129 local authorities and over 500 local groups and associations. How about that, B.C. ?


DIGITAL 8-TRACK STUDIO

For demos and small projects. Best suited for solo artists or acoustic bands. Located on scenic Cadboro Bay in a comfortable and relaxed environment. Very reasonable rates. Call Hardie, 477-0555


IN MEMORIAM, BETH HILL

Beth Hill, a friend to so many of us, and an active worker for so many ideas and ideals, died peacefully at 7pm on Friday Jan 24th on Salt Spring Island, at the age of 73. Beth lived her life like a bird in full flight, reveling in its challenges and delights. Every time you met her, she would be enthusing about some new idea or writer, or some issue she was pouring her energies into. In 1990, right after the communist regimes collapsed, she and Ray travelled by VW bus around Bulgaria, Romania and Greece, visiting old museums to research the golden neolithic age, writing an unpublished book called 'Journey to Atlantis'. When she knew her cancer was terminal, she and Ray moved back to Salt Spring, where they had lived for 29 years, so that she could help Ray plan the solar house he had always wanted to live in. Even when dying, her spirit was as exuberant as ever, her enthusiasm far overflowing the wilting frame that was her body. After saying a fond farewell to her friends, she used the 6 months remission her body gave her to write a whole book about her personal explorations of life, death and consciousness, which Marilyn Horsdal will be publishing soon. She was working on the footnotes when her body slipped into its final decline. Beth knew as certainly as she could that death was but a doorway, leading on to the next adventure.

Beth was born in Ridgeway, Ontario, in 1924. After her degree, she worked as a librarian on the Alaska Highway, and then moved with Ray to Vancouver, where they had two children and then moved to Salt Spring. Their years there were interrupted only by a year in Northern Ireland and a year at Cambridge, where she obtained a Certificate in Prehistoric Archaeology. Back in B.C., Beth researched and wrote her various books on Indian petroglyphs, Frances Barkley, the Kettle Valley Railway, the Royal Engineers of B.C. and her much loved sailing books, UpCoast Summers and Seven-Knot Summers (Horsdal & Schubart). Supported always by Ray, Beth was a founder of Salt Spring Island Futures, an organizer of the Woodlands Association (dedicated to sustainable forestry and community forest ownership), and an active member of the Voice of Women, the Sierra Club, the Council of Canadians, the World federalists of Canada and the Skies Above Foundation. Beth's life was too full of amazement ever to be bored, too full of passion to be grey. So now we bid you farewell, dear friend, until we meet again.


YOUR INVESTMENTS - ARE THEY ETHICAL ?

It's February, and everyone is trying to sell us RRSPs and Mutual Funds. Before you jump, however, pause to think. In 1995, the 15 largest mutual funds in the USA all invested in tobacco, and other 'toxic' stocks. Nine of the 15 funds had tobacco in their top ten stock holdings - and the situation has not changed as of November 1996. Is this what you want to support ? This, and other activities that are harmful to our health and our children's future ? It is so easy to 'invest and forget' - but that's how so many bad things have happened in history. So what else can you do ? Lots. There are many socially responsible and ethical funds in Canada, including the Clean Environment Fund, Fonds Desjardins Enironnement, Dynamic Global Green, the Ethical Growth Fund, the Ethical Special Equity Fund, Investors Summa, the Crocus Fund, First Ontario, BC's Working Opportunities, and Working Ventures. In terms of performance, The Domini Social Inxed, which tracks 400 socially screened stocks, has consistently outperformed the S & P 500 since 1990. The Canadian non-profit Social Investment Organization (SIO) is running a campaign called '10% For Change', appealing to investors to shift just 10% of their portfolio over to some of Canada's 19 ethical funds. For more information on the campaign, contact the SIO at #443, 366 Adelaide St E., Toronto, ON M5A 3X9. (416) 360-6047 sio@web.net You can also call 1-900-830-4SRI Show this story to your broker, and talk to him or her about it. It could be a move you will feel very good about.


ISLAND FORESTRY UPDATE

On Jan 17th, the Sierra Club organized a meeting of people from many environmental organizations on the Island to discuss the Vancouver Island Resource Targets Plan (VIRT), which most groups agreed to reject because of the following fundamental flaws : * It will not lead to ecologically sustainable forestry or a sustainable economic future for the Island's forests and communities. * The process was not public, violating the Provincial government's commitment in the approved Land Use Charter. * VIRT's starting point was all wrong. Instead of determining how to develop ecologically sustainable forestry on the Island, it set out to zone the Island for an AAC higher than the long run sustainable yield, and far higher than the environmental community believes to be ecologically sustainable. * The medium to long-term consequences of VIRT will be degraded ecosystems, failing economies and weakened communities. If you want to be involved with the campaign, call the Sierra Club, 386-5255.


SIMPLE LIVING SUITE FOR RENT

2 Bedrooms Unfurnished. Handy Location. NS/NP. March 1st, $630. Call 595-5460



ACTIONS OF THE MONTH :

(1) AYUM CREEK

The Sooke Hills are saved ! But the vision of a Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt will not be complete unless Ayum Creek, where the waters of the hills flow into Sooke Basin, on either side of Highway 14, is also saved. The creek and the estuary abound with waterfowl and other wildlife, and protection is essential to save the runs of coho and chum salmon, which are currently threatened by development. The owner, Mr. Chu, is asking $640,000 for the four lots at the mouth of the creek. The Society for the Protection of Ayum Creek is asking that CRD Parks act immediately to secure the property, and safeguard the area in perpetuity.

Action : Please write with your views to John Ranns, Chair, CRD Parks, PO Box 1000, Victoria V8W 2S6.

(2) CAR INSURANCE BY DISTANCE TRAVELLED

Why should someone who drives 10,000 km a year, and exposes herself to 10,000km of risk, pay the same insurance as someone who drives 20,000km ? The system of car insurance that ICBC uses encourages people to drive, while hiding the real cost of driving. If car insurance was based on mileage, as recorded by the car's odometer, there would be a strong incentive to drive less, and to cycle, walk and use public transit more. The result would be cleaner air, fewer vehicles on the road, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. It might also make people think twice before buying a home knowing they'll face a long commute to work every day.

Action : Write to Doug Allen, Commissioner, Review Team on Auto-Insurance, #629, 999 Canada Place, Vancouver V6C 3E1. Fax (604) 844-3123, asking for distance-based insurance. The Team is finalizing its recommendations to government by Feb 28th, so now's the time to write !


NOTICE

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 !


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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