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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. 66 - Serving Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - November 1997


GOING, GOING, GONE

LOS ANGELES.....VANCOUVER.....VICTORIA?

Victoria, November 2020

Dear Children,

I wasn't expecting to be able to see into the future after leaving you so suddenly in that nasty car accident. I do apologize - I can see now that ramming the other driver wasn't such a smart move, even though he was hogging the fast lane. I'm sorry that I took your mother with me. She was always on at me not to drive like that.

It's not at all what I was expecting up here. As penance for my driving, they've sentenced me to stare at Greater Victoria as it will be in the year 2020 if people continue to act the way I did, without thought for the consequences. It's pretty bad news. They say Los Angeles was a beautiful city in the 1950s. And Vancouver was such a beautiful city in the 1970s, until it became impossible to live there for all the noise, rush and cars. Victoria was a beautiful city in the 1990s - but looking at it in 2020, I want to weep.

Oh sure, Dallas Road is still there, and the parks - but the Island Highway is lined with big box retail stores and car sales outlets from Tillicum to Goldstream, and lots of the stores in downtown Victoria have packed up - Government and Douglas Streets have been taken over by the homeless and the hookers. They hold the annual Symphony Splash at Royal Roads now, not the Inner Harbour, since the symphony's wealthy patrons objected to driving in from their electronically gated communities in Sooke and having their cars vandalized while they listened to the Mozart. The few attempts that people made to have their streets closed to traffic were ended when the Motorists Rights Association sued them for loss of rights. I don't know if there's anything you can do to stop it - they're having the same kind of discussion in Tofino now, afraid that it will go the same way. It's human nature, I suppose.

If you're in touch with your mother, do tell her I'm sorry. She didn't deserve to go like that.

Your repentant father, Jim.

 

Victoria, December 2020

Dear Kids,

I've just seen your father's letter. As compensation for my untimely death they've given me a job as a civic guardian angel (what a laugh !) to help Victoria's citizens steer a new course for the future - and I get to see the possible results ! It's doesn't have to be like your father described.

I love the new pedestrian urban villages that have been created - so do the merchants and businesses. They've got such character and life. The agreements to create higher density around the centres in exchange for calming the traffic and increasing local green space works like a treat. Would you believe that 75% of all local trips are now made on foot or by bike ? That's as high as it is in Holland. It helps that the parking is pretty expensive, of course.

It was the decision to create the new urban villages while restricting the spread of suburbs that made the LRT system possible. Up-Island, they're building ecovillages along the route of the new Island Railway, and building forest villages in the woods with economies based on ecoforestry and ecotourism. That decision not to allow any development along the new Island Highway was very sound - would you believe they're paving two lanes with solar voltaic cells to make it a permanent source of energy ? The downtown's in great shape - there's a new Marine Museum and an open air theatre by the Inner Harbour.

You'd love the residential streets. So many have been calmed, giving them a single winding lane with passing places, the rest of the road being filled with trees and playspace.

Looking back to the muddle we had in the 1990s when there was no-one in charge of the region as a whole, just municipalities acting in their own interests, it's no wonder people were losing hope.

The thing that broke the logjam was moving to directly elected regional councils, instead of the old system whereby regional councillors were chosen in private by the municipal councillors. People finally started debating regional issues and electing councillors based on their ideas for the future.  It was that, plus getting proper regional planning powers and the wave of initiatives to get people out of their cars that made the difference.

I do have some advice, however. You must get out there, and get involved. The changes I've seen only happened because lots of people got organized, and developed a strong vision of the kind of future they wanted. Margaret Mead's here too, and she says she agrees. She says hello !

PS. Tell your father I've forgiven him; he was such a lousy driver, but I still loved him.

Your loving mother, Fiona


ECONEWS

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


LOCAL GOVERNMENTS GIVEN NEW ECO-POWERS

When Victoria was writing its new Official Community Plan in 1995, all the environmental clauses which the City Environment Committee proposed were scrapped on the basis that we weren't allowed to include anything about ecological protection. As a result, Victoria City Council proposed a motion to change all this, and on October 20th under Bill 26 local governments received new powers to protect urban salmon streams, provide property tax exemptions for eligible streamside property, require environmental guidelines in Official Community Plans and request that development plans contain information on environmental impacts. So ! Now we can all write to our local municipalities requesting that environmental sections be written into OCPs - there's no need to wait till the next time they're reviewed. (The City Environment Advisory Committee has since been scrapped). For the legal details, call Lynn Siddaway, Municipal Affairs, 387-4089.


THE ISLAND TRAIL

Just picture being able to hike, ride or cycle from Victoria to Cape Scott entirely off paved roads. One day, it will be possible. For now, the focus is on the Victoria-Nanaimo section, thanks to the work being done by Jim Currie and friends in the Victoria 'office' of Trails BC, the local component of the TransCanada Trail Foundation. So far, the route has been identified through discussions with the forest companies (from Leechtown it goes west of the Water Commission's lands and then east of Lake Cowichan), but local fieldwork has not yet begun. The current obstacles are crossing the Koksilah and Nanaimo rivers, and amending the Occupiers Liability Act to release landowners from liability, as Ontario and Nova Scotia have done. It's all happening on a voluntary basis, with the goal of completion by June 21st, 2000. If you can help, call Jim at 477-8696.


THE WALKING BUS

Calling all parents ! One of the crazier things that is happening these days is parents driving their kids to school, claiming the roads are dangerous. And we want a livable region ? Well listen up - if they can do it in Toronto, we can do it here. The "it" is the Walking Bus. Up until the 1970s, we used to walk or cycle to school. Isn't it crazy that we are conditioning our kids to expect to be driven everywhere ? That's what parents in Britain and Australia - and the Greenest City Project in Toronto - thought when they got together to talk about walking their kids to school. A 'Walking School Bus' consists of a group parents or retired people who follow a set route through the streets to school, collecting kids along the way and walking them safely to school as a group. In Toronto, its called 'Safe Routes to School'. In a nutshell, here's how to start one : (1) Map the neighbourhood, to determine the safest routes to and from school - can be done in the classroom. (2) Invite parents to a meeting where they mark their home locations with red dots on a map, or send them a map with the PAC newsletter. (3) Set up Walking School Buses with set routes, led by parent 'drivers' who take it in turn to accompany their own and neighbouring children safely to school. (4) Create a 'no-idling' area around schools, where bus drivers and others must turn off their engines to improve local air quality. The children enjoy it, and have fun walking together. Here in Victoria, there's one informal walking bus that walks 5 kids from Government St to South Park School (details Janet Hawkesley 383-7806). Contact : Safe Routes to School, (416) 977-7626 fdshare@web.net
Greenest City Project : ntgc@web.net


CYCLING THROUGH BUREAUCRACY

Denise Savoie and Blair Marshall write :

The Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition has finally re-established a working relationship with the City of Victoria, after a hiatus of several months. During this period, we experienced confusing communications and frustration with city hall. During the restructuring initiated by Don Roughley, the new City Manager, the Bicycling Sub-Committee (and many other city committees) disappeared. We were told that staff would no longer be available to consult with us, and that the budget for further work had disappeared for 1997. We feared that the implementation of the bicycle plan would be stalled, and work to improve  streets for commuter cyclists did in fact stop. Two weeks ago we went to City Council asking for a bicycle task force, but the staff report said that our proposal didn't fit the guidelines - they preferred meeting with us informally.  That left too much to chance - especially given the problems in getting the City Manager's office to approve staff time for meetings. We have now negotiated a system of consultation where we'll be working directly with staff to solve outstanding bicycling problems - and we understand from the planning department that a small cycling budget has been reinstated. Pam Madoff, Bob Friedland and Geoff Young all spoke in favour of re-establishing some sort of link - we hope you remember that at election time !


PARKS ARE OUR LEGACY

How are we going to manage all the new parks that have been created over the past five years in British Columbia, and protect their ecosystems when hoards of people like us want to visit them and budgets are becoming an endangered species ? To answer these questions, Cathy McGregor, Minister of Environment, has set up the B.C.'s Park Legacy Project to involve us in their future planning and management. The Project is being led by a panel of eight people from across the province with extensive knowledge of B.C.'s parks and protected areas - Denise Savoie is our local Panel member for Southern Vancouver Island. The projects lasts a year - there's an open house in Victoria on Nov 20th at South Park School (508 Douglas Street), and in Duncan on Nov 26th at the Cowichan Community Centre. So if you want to have some input, put it in your diary ! Rebecca Porte, B.C.'s Park Legacy Project, 387-1968  www.parklegacy.bc.ca


HAMMERS FOR PEACE

According to the Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation, more than one third of East Timor's population has been killed by the Indonesian government since they invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975. In Britain, the UK government was allowing the sale of military jets to the Indonesian government, flouting the UN's condemnation of Indonesia's actions, and when Andrea Needham and three other women from the British East Timor Ploughshares group learned that no amount of protests or reasoning would stop the sale, they decided to enter the military factory and damage a fighter plane. Using household hammers - one painted with the words "All Life is Sacred" - they smashed the weapons control system in the cockpits, wings and fuselage, and then called military security. After six months in jail, they went to trial in November 1996 before a jury, where they argued that they had lawful excuse to disarm the jet, since they were using force to prevent a crime - the future bombing of the Timorese people. They were acquitted ! Andrea Needham is visiting the Island, and will be speaking on Nov 17th at UVic (see Diary). (Thanks to Focus on Women)

The Indonesian (and Chinese) leaders will be visiting Vancouver for the big APEC meeting starting November 25th. Watch for the action on UBC Campus, where students are daily expanding the APEC-Free Zone with its statue to the Goddess of Democracy, in protest against the hospitality Canada is giving to countries such as Indonesia, ignoring the thousands who have died at their hands. For details, call (604) 251-9914.


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ACTION OF THE MONTH :

THE KYOTO CONFERENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE

This December, the leaders of the world's nations will gather in Kyoto, Japan for a hugely important meeting to decide on a globally binding treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The problem is no longer disputed : the world's scientists agree that the greenhouse gases we produce by burning fossil fuels are brewing an enormous problem for the future.

So far, the Canadian government has not come out with its negotiating position - the Albertan oil and gas lobby is making a fearful noise, afraid that there might be a carbon tax. Yes, there should be. So too could there be a revolution in energy efficiency and renewable energy. We stand on the brink of a solar/hydrogen revolution, clutching our barrels of oil. The paradox is that the new revolution could bring many jobs and benefits - the Canadian Wind Energy Association says there could be 33,000 new jobs if we invested in wind energy the way Denmark is doing. As a country, we are asleep, soothed by the slosh of oil.

The scientists are ringing the alarm bells, but it has not become a public issue. Jean Chretien hasn't got the message.

A C T I O N :

Take 20' to write to Ralph Goodale, demanding that Canada take a strong negotiating position at the Kyoto conference in favour of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. Send a copy to the Premier and to Christine Stewart, Minister of Environment, and to your own MP. (Post to Ottawa is free)

        Hon Ralph Goodale,
        Minister of Natural Resources,
        Parliament Buildings,
        Ottawa K1A OA6.
        Fax (613) 996-4516

This is also a VISION 20/20 Action and an Earth Action Alert, so in writing, you will be acting in accord with 1500 citizen groups around the world.


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)

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