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
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
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
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
- 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
- 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
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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Development Fund: $180.
Many thanks to Sheila Drew, Marilee Goheen, Elly
Roelofsen, Jenny Fraser, Valerie Douglas, Wayne Madden, Joanne Manley, Gail Schultz,
Daphne Sidaway Wolf & Harald Wolf, LD Poyntz, MM Scandifio, Monica Oldham, Brian
Grant, Bill Ashwell, Peter & Alison Gardner, Alan Philip, Pamela Charlesworth, Seymour
Trieger, Benita Blundell and John Jervis.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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
email@example.com 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
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 !
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