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

Executive director of The Solutions Project



Newsletter No. 59 - Serving Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - March 1997


It's spring ! The crocuses are blooming, the birds are mating, and the lawn-mowers will soon be out. All over the west coast, gardeners are getting ready to sow their seeds, and garden supplies stores are full of ....chemicals.

Yes, chemicals, to fight the perennial war against weeds, moss, insects, fungus, rose-blight, anything gardeners don't like. The average garden store would probably be classified as a contaminated site if someone took the trouble to weigh the volume of hazardous chemicals stored in one place.

It's not just our private gardens, either. Municipal parks departments still use chemicals to control weeds, often without any signs to say so, irrespective of complaints by people who are chemically sensitive, or who don't want their children playing in the poisons. Saanich Parks department recently justified spraying the Galloping Goose trail by saying that "people might trip over the weeds".

What on earth are we doing ?

    • Pesticides have been linked to many different types of cancer, from breast cancer (DDT) to non-Hodgkins lymphomas and soft-tissue sarcomas (phenoxy herbicides).
    • A National Cancer Institute Study in the U.S. indicates that children are as much as 6 times more likely to get childhood leukemia when pesticides are used in the home and garden.
    • A 1995 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found elevated levels of cancer in children where pesticides were used in their homes and yards. They found a particularly high correlation in homes where dichlorovos pest strips were used.
    • Garden pesticides don't stay in the garden, either. Pesticides that enter the home on people's clothing and shoes or in the air can persist for years because they are not subject to breakdown factors like rain, sunlight, temperature extremes and microbial action. Carpets and foam carpet padding act as long-term reservoirs, and pose a danger to infants and children.
    • Dogs from homes with lawns that have been sprayed with pesticides have a higher than average rate of the canine equivalent of lymphoma. Cancer is now the number one cause of death in dogs.

Pesticide residues are in the bodies of seals in the Arctic and penguins in the Antarctic. The whole world is affected - not just our back yards.

Enough ! Enough ! (There's LOTS more where this comes from. Even the insect pollinators - the honeybees, butterflies and other insects that we depend on to pollinate our crops are suffering).

The big question is - what can we do to stop this madness ? Almost everyone knows someone who is either suffering or who has died from cancer of one kind or another. In Sweden, they've set national goals, and achieved a 47% reduction by weight in pesticide use between 1986 and 1991. They were aiming for a total reduction of 75% by the end of 1996.

The first thing you can do is the most obvious : stop buying the chemicals yourself, and make the decision today that your yard will be chemical free, and organically maintained. Plan to build a proper compost bin, and start feeding your soil organically. The Compost Education Centre (386-WORM) will give you all the low-down you need, and the Victoria Horticultural Society has an Organic Gardeners Study Group.

Then start choosing organically grown fruits and vegetables. There are lots available, thanks to stores like Lifestyle Markets and Thrifty Foods. But if we are to make our cities and neighbourhoods safe for ourselves, our children and grandchildren (for some of the chemicals are mutagenic), we need to go further. You could talk to your neighbours, and see if they're willing to declare your block a 'Pesticide Free Zone'.

A number of communities (starting in Hudson, Quebec) have passed by-laws banning toxic chemicals used for purely cosmetic purposes. The Hudson by-law survived a Quebec Supreme Court legal challenge by the chemical industries, and is now being copied elsewhere. We need to persuade our local municipalities to stop using chemical pesticides in public spaces, especially near schools. This Spring, the Sierra Club of Canada is hoping to have 100 communities across Canada which will develop by-law challenges to the cosmetic use of pesticides (details inside).

Looking back from the 21st century, historians will see our addiction to chemicals as one of the follies of the 20th century. So let's end it, now.

- 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.

Jan Feb March
Circulation: 2000 2000 2000
Cost: $714 $741 $740
Donations: $515 $525 ? ? ?
Advertising: $25 ? ? ? ? ? ?
Balance: $1630 $1666 ? ? ?

Development Fund: $180.

Many thanks to this month's angels - Andrew & Elizabeth Gibson, Maria Abbott, Peter Schofield, Joel Harvey, Aaron Rain, Pamela Carlson, Ruth Masters, Karen Woodland & Joel Ussery, Kay Wood, Lois Marcoux, Cecilie Davidson, TL Danlock, Wes Gietz, Dan Pippin, William Cameron, Susan Holvenstot, Janis Kirker, Gail Schultz, Warren Nickerson and Karen Hope. What would we do without you ?

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


Another first for Victoria ! For years, developers and owners have been demolishing houses without a thought to the valuable resources that might be recycled. Every year, 4,000 tons of demolition waste go to the landfill. No more ! The Bent Nail is Canada's first used building materials store run by the street community. Based in Esquimalt at 870 Devonshire Rd, the project will collect, clean and sell used building materials, from kitchen cabinets to baseboards. The project is run by the Victoria Street Community Association, and a dozen long-term unemployed people are training to work there, supported by Environment Canada's ACTION 21 program, the City of Victoria, the CRD, the Vancouver Foundation, the Ministry of Human Resources and the Ministry of Empoyment and Investment. Lauren Pheaton, Bent Nail's manager, says the project aims to be self-financing by 1999. "This is about giving our long-term unemployed people a chance to break out of the poverty cycle". For details, call 386-2332 - and go visit !


For two days in February, the International Hemp Symposium in Vancouver was packed with 2,000 delegates from Canada, Poland, Germany, the US and Britain and a further 3,000 visitors who came to learn about the future possibilities of this astonishing crop. EcoSource (who supply the paper for EcoNews) were beseiged with visitors who carried off everything they could. Watch out, pulp and paper industry !


Hot from their successful 20 member launch in James Bay, the Victoria Car Share Co-operative is planning to open a pod in Fernwood. Here's how it works. You pay $400 to buy your shares (returnable), a $100 non-returnable membership fee and $10 a month for admin. Associate members are half price. When you want to use a vehicle, you simply book it through the answering service, and pay $1.50/hour and 25 cents/km. Future pods will be developed in Fairfield, Oak Bay, Cadboro Bay, Downtown, Esquimalt, Burnside, Swan Lake and Mount Tolmie. Call Kathryn at 995-0265, if you're interested.


House (single family dwelling) for sale by owner, 2 doors up from Cardiff Place CoHousing Community, Fairfield. 2 BR up, 2 down, 1700 sq ft, $267,000. If you buy, the community may accept your use of our Common Areas in exchange for our use of the house's yard. INTERESTED ? Call Brad at Cardiff Place, 480-5152.


On a peaceful, snowy night's walk in Fairfield late December, when cars were banished by the snow, Sid Tafler (ex-Editor of Monday Magazine) had an idea. What if a residential street in Fairfield, two to four blocks long, was converted into a space that was primarily for pedestrians, cyclists and shared community living for the residents ? Choose a street with minimal arterial traffic, no transit routes and adequate off-street parking, expand the boulevard to the centre of the street, and leave a single, slightly winding lane for one-way vehicular and bicycle traffic, at 10 km per hour. Restrict on-street parking, and use the newly released space for mini-playlots, wider sidewalks, frisbee or ball-tossing areas, park benches, bird feeders, gardens, fruit trees, picnic tables, a community barbeque pit, bicycle stands, totem poles or sculptures. The idea has been endorsed by the Fairfield Community Association's Transportation Management Subcte, and recommended as part of the transportation management plan which to be conducted with the City of Victoria in 1997. The residents and property owners on a proposed street would discuss the plan and work out all the details, and only streets with large majority support would be considered. If you're interested, call Sid Tafler at 381-4244


On April 1st, Guy Dauncey and Laura Acton will be analyzing what it would take to turn turn Victoria into an EcoCity - a community of people living in harmony with each other and with their ecosystem, locally and globally - followed by critical analysis from a panel of planners and engineers (see Diary). When you take the various components individually, the vision begins to look possible : the missing ingredients are the organization and commitment to make it happen. Also, on March 14th (see Diary) Robert Theobald and Guy Dauncey will be holding a public dialogue on Revitalizing Communities, looking at what more needs to be done here in Victoria to create a community that is ready for the 21st century, socially, spiritually, ecologically and economically.


Do you sometimes wish you enjoyed a stronger sense of community ? Something more than just waving 'hello' to your neighbours as you drive past them on the way to work ? Some streets are great - but many are little more than a dormitory of private souls, who spend far more time with their TVs than with each other. Heather McAndrew and David Springbett are Victoria film-makers with Asterisk Pruductions who have just completed a major 10-part TV series called 'Ways We Live - Exploring Community'. The series comes out of their personal search for community, and takes the viewer through housing co-ops and cohousing, into remote RV parks and the urban jungle, behind the walls of wealthy enclaves and inside poor neighbourhoods, in search of answers. They discovered common themes of belonging, sharing, supporting and giving back, where people are willing and able to take control and find their own solutions. The series airs on VISION TV (21) every Wednesday night, starting March 5th. Maybe you should invite the neighbours in to watch with you ?


If you bank with Pacific Coast Savings, you have a vote in their forthcoming elections, starting March 24th. Credit Unions, unlike the banks, are owned and controlled by their members, and policies are determined by the elected Board. So here's your chance to cast your vote for change ! EcoNews is endorsing two candidates, Bernie Jones and Elizabeth Woods. Bernie is well known in Victoria, and has 30 years background in community development. Elizabeth has been a Board member since 1994, and is author of 'If Only Things Were Different', a fictional vision of a sustainable society here in Victoria. Both are committed to taking Pacific Coast Savings down the path of sustainable, community-based economic development. Voting ends April 12th. If you are interested in standing for election, you must have been a member for a year. Nominations for 1998 close in Sept 1997.


"But I will tell you this, I have looked at a few, I was up in Washington state and the people were so worried about this huge area they wouldn't let them do any timber cutting because of these owls, and I finally asked a relevant question. I said 'How many owls are there?' Said '20,' and I said 'OK, I suggest we send Air Force One out here, transport 'em in absolutely first-class comfort to the nearest national park. Now the owls can live happily ever after in hundreds of thousands of acres in some nearby park, as we can go back to work here.' Sept 18th '96, San Francisco


In contrast, here's the violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhi, who is coming to Victoria in May to conduct the VSO. These words are taken from a prayer which he wrote to accompany an article in the Times of London (Aug 21st & 22nd, 1989) : "Guide me to my better self - help me make myself into one who is trusted by living things, creatures and plants, as well as the air, water, earth and light that sustain these. Keep me as one who respects the mystery and character of every variety of life in both its uniqueness and its mass, for all life is essential to its own survival [...] Help me to be a good trustee for the body You gave me. No life is to do with as I will, not even my "own", for it is an object entrusted into "my" temporary keeping, to bequeath back into the earthly cycle in the best possible condition for other life to continue."


Every year, municipal purchasing departments spend thousands of dollars on basic cleaning products such as hand soaps and floor cleaners, many of which are tested on live animals in horribly cruel ways. Collectively, municipal governments have enormous purchasing power. To help turn things around, the Animal Alliance of Canada has published a brochure on 'How to Convince your Local Government to Purchase Cruelty Free Products', based on their experience in working with Toronto City Council who have agreed to introduce legislation to bring in cruelty-free products. This is one of those small tasks that just needs someone to say "Yes - I can do that." For a free copy, write to the Animal Alliance, 221 Broadview Ave, Suite 101, Toronto, Ontario M4M 2G3. Fax (416) 462-9647

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. Because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do." - Edward Everett Hale, 1822 - 1909


Do you want to reduce the traffic on your street ? David Engwicht, an Australian transportation activist, has come up with Traffic Reduction Parties, which get neighbours together in a street party to identify traffic calming options, and encourage individual households to reduce their automobile use. Most residents want traffic reduced in our own neighbourhoods, but to accomplish this we need to be willing to drive less through other neighbourhoods. The Car Activity Diary allows you to rank your car trips according to whether they could be shifted to another mode or foregone altogether. Most residents identify a significant number of trips that could be reduced with little sacrifice. The Traffic Reduction Kit includes an organizers' manual, video, instruction sheets, Car Activity Diaries, playing cards, street signs, party hats and case studies. For details write to P.O. Box 12816, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406.


And if you are able to help Doug Koch and Earthworks with the organizing, give him a call on 383-5765. If you are organizing an event for Earthweek (April 18th - 27th), the deadline for getting into the program is March 28th. And if you are young, don't forget that Doug is putting together a collection of your visions for the future of our community and our world, and the steps needed to be sustainable by the year 2020. There are prizes for both art and for writing - the deadline in March 21st. Go for it !


Group leader, intern and volunteer positions are available with Operation Crossroads Africa in Africa and Brazil this summer, working on a wide range of social, environmental and artistic projects. Details (212) 870-2106


The Home Depot gave $367,800 in charitable contributions to 47 non-profit environmental agencies during 1996 to support environmental awareness in building practices, recycling and solid waste management. Contact Randy Ziffer, (770) 801-5821. And the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line set up the Royal Caribbean Ocean Fund, worth $1 million over the next 3 years, to support research, education and other projects to protect the world's oceans. Details Lynn Martenstein, (305) 539-6573.


If we all act together, our voices will turn into a song, which cannot be ignored.

Write to the Mayor and Council of your local municipality, or your CRD Regional Director, share your views about the use of pesticides and herbicides, and ask what specific steps they are taking to reduce the use of chemicals in outdoor areas, and to ban their use near schools.

The addresses are on page 470 of the phone book, and the post-codes are as follows:

Victoria, V8P 1P6

Saanich, V8X 2W7

Cent Saan, V0S 1M0

Nth Saan, V8L 4C1

Sidney, V8L 1Y7

Oak Bay, V8R 1G2

Highlands, V9B 5T9

Colwood, V9C 1R1

ViewRoyal, V9B 1A6

Langford, V9B 4E4

Metchosin, V8X 3W9

North Cowichan, V9L 3X4

CRD Regional Directors, PO Box 1000, Victoria V8W 2S6

If you want to pursue this properly, and work on the by-law campaign, the Sierra Club of Canada is coordinating the efforts of the 100 municipal campaigns, and will send you a copy of 'Pesticide Bylaws : Why We Need Them, How to Get Them'. Write to Elizabeth May, Sierra Club of Canada, 412-1 Nicholas St, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 7B7 Donations are welcome.

If you would like to work with other people in your area to do a joint effort, EcoNews will publish your name, so that others can get in touch. Just call me at 881-1304.

This is also a good time to be writing about this to the editors of the Times Colonist, and our local papers. We only have to put up with the continued presence of these harmful chemicals in our environment because of our own inertia.


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