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AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)EcoNews reaches thousands of people each month, including every MLA in BC and every CRD municipal politician. It’s 95% funded by donations from readers like you. If you value the information it provides, will you support it with a donation?

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Contact Econews

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

Executive director of The Solutions Project



Newsletter No. 84 - Serving Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - June 1999


What would it take to make the our Island a cyclists' heaven ? We have a relatively flat landscape and an all-season climate - but for most cyclists, our roads are still a relatively dangerous place.

With Bike to Work Week in full swing, I should be saying how easy it is to cycle in Victoria, how everyone should do it.

But that would be lying.

There are roads that suddenly narrow, tempting the driver to whip by, squeezing you far too close for comfort.

There are motorists who open their doors or pull out in front of you without looking. What did they ever read about cyclists in their training manuals ?

There are roads like McKenzie, where a cyclist has to believe herself invincible to ride without fear.

Yes, we have the Galloping Goose - but even stuck-in-the-winter Ottawa has more bicycle trails than we do.

There are schools, of all places, which don't have safe bicycle lock-ups. How can we encourage our youngsters to cycle, if our schools treat cycling so poorly ? No wonder the students want their parents to drive them to school, and demand their own cars as soon as they are 16.

We've got to shake out of it once and for all, and understand that cycling is an essential means of transportation. What other means of transport (aside from walking) produces no C02 emissions ? When did you last hear of someone being killed by a cyclist ?

What other means of transport increases your health as you travel ? The research shows that the health benefits of cycling outweigh the accident risks by 20 to 1, when the longer life-span due to the extra exercise is factored in.

When it comes to decisions about roads, buildings and land-use, every planner, engineer and councillor should be asking the question "Does this promote and encourage cycling?" (Hats off to Saanich)

In Oxford, England, the council provides bicycles for its staff, not cars. In Saanich, there's a bylaw which says that all new developments must provide showers and bicycle parking - but not in Victoria or Esquimalt. We should reduce the mandatory parking requirements, as a trade-off.

Imagine being able to cycle all over the region on long-distance trails, safe from the noise and danger of cars. The CRD's Blue/Green Spaces Strategy lists dozens of potential trails we could enjoy, if there was the will to make them happen. The CRD has a planning responsibility for the region, but it doesn't have a transport budget, and it doesn't have a full-time cycling coordinator.

Imagine being able to get across town on a network of priority bicycle boulevards, using quiet streets where many of the roads were closed to through traffic. They could even be numbered, to emphasis their status.

Imagine knowing that every major road had marked bicycle lanes, where cyclists had a space they knew was theirs. The region is full of 4-lane roads, where two lanes are used for parking. Let's remove the parking on one side, to create two new bike lanes. Some residents will complain - but a road is a public facility paid for by all our taxes, not a private parking space.

"This will all cost money", someone will say. Of course it will ! We spend money ever year making roads nice for motorists - now it's the turn of the cyclists. Maintaining a road system for motorists is far more expensive than doing the same for cyclists. Every $1 invested in cyclists and pedestrians saves $2 invested in motorists. This being so, are our councillors being financially negligent, if they fail to make the cycling investment ?

Each new parking space costs $12,000. If a network of safe cycle routes persuaded 3,000 commuters to trade their cars for bicycles, that could save $36 million.

Let's have free bicycles on all the ferries, giving the signal that we're a cycling province.

Let's expand Victoria's Blue Bike program, with free bikes parked in their own blue parking spaces.

Let's have a wagon for bicycles on the E & N Railway, opening up the beauties of the Island for cyclists.

Let's deliver more goods by bicycle, as BikeCartAge has started doing.

Let's see those glorious baseball and soccer leagues encourage their youthful members to cycle to their games, instead of expecting their parents to drive them there.

Let's see long-distance bicycle trails and greenways all over the Island.

The bicycle is a glorious machine - the most elegant and energy efficient ever invented. At a time when our planet is beset with danger from greenhouse gas emissions, and pollution fills the air, when we yearn for a simpler life, it's time to celebrate the bike !

- Guy Dauncey

Please note:  the Green Diary has moved, click here to view.


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A very big thankyou to Gail Schacter, Darcy Ambler, Elizabeth Cope, Nancy McMinn, Kathleen Johannesson, AD McKend, Roger Colwill & Unlimited Possibilities.

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* Help wanted. Guy, Carolyn and EcoNews are moving to 395 Conway Rd, off Interurban Rd, by Camosun Campus. If you can help on Friday July 2nd, at 8:30am or 1pm, at 395 Conway Road, please call Guy at 881-1304.
* Trained finishing carpenter seeks building experience with Post and Beam construction. Graham (505) 660-6269
* Looking for a home. Working in Argentina on CIDA internship, returning to Victoria in June, seeking shared home ($300-350) close to downtown. Relatively quiet, compost-trained, environmentally respectful, veggie cook. Lisa McIntosh,
* Eco-Paper : Reach for Unbleached! and Paper Choice are doing a Bulk-Buy of chlorine free, recycled paper at 20% below retail. Rolland New Life Dual Purpose, 80% recycled, 60% post consumer fibre, 80% Processed Chlorine Free. Works well in photocopiers, laser and inkjet printers. $58 per case of 8.5 x 11. Min order 5000 sheets. Call (250) 935-6992 or 598-5526 e-mail Deadline June 15th.
* Seeking quiet for meditation, contemplation or study ? Quiet room available for summer. 5 acres, gardens, orchard, ponds, forest, near Port Alberni. Trade for 2 hours per day gardening or general help, no rent. David Martin (250) 723 9628
* Changing address? Please let EcoNews know, so that we don't waste postage mailing to your old address. PS If you don't want to receive EcoNews, don't be shy - just let us know ! 881-1304
* House-share 3 honest and communicative women looking for 1 or 2 women to share large 5 bed/2 bath heritage home in heart of James Bay. $375+utils, n/s. Come over for tea to meet us & see the house. July 1. 388-9993 Sandra, Carolyn or Susan.
* The Garden Path Nursery is on the move. Last chance to visit Carolyn's oasis in the city, with its greenhouse and garden at 1834 Haultain St; and a great time to stock up on organically grown veggies, fowers and herbs for your garden. On the last weekend, Sat June 5th & 6th, all plants will be 50% off. Details about hte new location in the next EcoNews.
* Building a sustainable community, street by street - that's the goal of the Street Volunteers. Our next training is on Saturday June 5th (see Diary), when you'll find out how it works, how to organize a local Block Party, and how we can change the world from the bottom up, starting with our own neighbours. For information, call Guy, 881-1304 or Susanne, 385-8487.
* Firewood. Halfcords for sale, ecoforestry practiced woodlot fir trimmings. Call Peter, 652-2613.


It's Bike to Work Week ! So it's a good time to ask the question - is your car really so fast ? When you divide the number of miles you drive per year by the hours you spend working to pay for your car, plus the hours spent driving to work, your average commute speed drops to 17 mph - less than the typical cyclist. If you travel in a busy metropolitan area, your true speed drops towards 4-5 mph. Now let's look more closely at that poor cyclist slogging along the road. She isn't wasting time commuting - her exercise machine just happens to take her to work, as if it was bolted onto the bed of a co-worker's pickup. In the long run, cycling is as cheap as any fitness endeavor. If your pedal to work or the library is four parts valuable fitness and one part transport, your effective speed quadruples to 60 to 80 mph. On top of that, the cardiovascular workout will keep your heart in good condition, giving you extra quality years. So all in all, that bike is pretty fast ! (Adapted from Robert Haston)


If you've got one of those cute little organisms that squeals, gurgles and wails, or know someone who is about to have one, have we got good news for you ! It's a new book called 'Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet Guide to Natural Baby Care' (Wiley, $26.50), and if you follow its advice, you'll be able to protect your baby from the host of chemical monsters that lurk not just under the bed (in carpets), but in the actual bedding and baby clothes you thought looked so cute. Since World War II, some 75,000 new chemicals have been released onto the market, and very few are properly tested - least of all for babies. Here are four quick tips : (1) Avoid wall-to-wall carpets. Not only are they laced with fungicides and other chemicals which your baby will ingest as she crawls around, but they are home to a mass of dust, and the leading suspect when it comes to the explosion of asthma among children. (2) Avoid doing any renovations while you're pregnant, and don't be around wet paint - the toxins which paint offgasses are BAD news for you and your baby. (3) Don't smoke ! And don't be around anyone who is smoking, especially while you're pregnant. Tobacco is just packed with nasty chemicals. (4) Beware of synthetic baby clothes, bedding and mattresses - they are treated with fire-suppressants and fabric conditioners which contain formaldehyde's. Oh, it's a grim life ! On the other hand, this gem of a book will tell you how to create a green nursery and all sorts of other goodies which will protect the apple of your eye from becoming another cancer statistic. And baby-shower invitees ? Go buy it !


What's good for baby is good for all ! The brand new, locally produced Green Home Guidebook is packed full of information on how to make your house a greener and safer place to live in. Produced by City Green Victoria, and funded in part by the Ministry of Environment E-Team, it sells for $10, and each book contains $500 worth of coupons. Look for it in local bookshops, or call Melanie Ransom at 360-0852. You can help spread the word by selling it door-to-door, if you want to earn some money. Later this summer, Capital City Green will be launching Green Home Visits, starting in Fairfield.


That's the website address for the Victoria Green Pages, the one-stop directory for every environmental organization and initiative in Victoria. It also contains a comprehensive Local Media Guide, and all sorts of other goodies. The next goal is to get every green business on board - if you run an environmental business, just fill in the form and send a donation. Now that we have the Greenpages, there are many other ways we could use them, such as listing volunteer vacancies, or research needs which students could pick up on. If you find that a group that you're involved in is not listed yet, please chase them to fill in the form ! Congratulations and thanks to Dave Shishkoff at Random Web Design (598-0734) for doing this.


Actually, that's BikeCartAge - all one word - and it's a long overdue 'Made in Victoria' "Zero Pollution Delivery Solution". You might have seen the cyclists pulling their long, attractive, aluminum bicycle carts around Victoria, delivering Monday Magazine - and now delivering prescriptions and deli trays for James Bay Thrifty Foods (groceries coming this fall). BikeCartAge is a project of the Victoria Centre for Appropriate Responsible Transportation, a non-profit organization started by Steve Balyi. BikeCartAge has 6 full-time and 4 part-time employees (assisted in part by the Ministry of Environment's E-Team) who spend 80% of their time in the saddle, reducing carbon dioxide and other pollutants with every push of the pedal. Coming soon - a parcel dispatch delivery service, and possible bicycle deliveries from a printshop, a bakery and a deli. The V-Cart is available for purchase - Freshpiks Organics and Newton's Shirtmaker are first off the mark. The trailers are locally made in Victoria, zero maintenance and virtually indestructible, for light industrial uses - they'll haul 300 - 350 lbs. For details, call Steve at 480-7285.


Well, it ain't local ! 90% or more is shipped in from off-island, burning up fossil fuels to get here, while local fields lie empty. To help rectify this sorry state of affairs, LifeCycles is launching Common Harvest, which will deliver a weekly or biweekly brown box full of fresh, local organic produce to its customers, June to October. Call early, as space is limited. Tara or Kelly, 383-5800.


A U.S. National Cancer Institute study shows that children are up to six times more likely to get leukemia when pesticides are used in their homes and gardens. Dogs, too, who live in homes where lawns have been sprayed with herbicides have a higher than average rate of the canine equivalent of lymphoma. In Hamilton, Ontario, Local 5 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees has asked local councils to ban the cosmetic use of chemical weed killers, restrict the use of insecticides in residential areas and on public property, and educate residents about ecological alternatives to pesticides. Here in Victoria, the occasional outbreak of weeds along the roads has been kept under control by the mechanical action of the brush-sweepers and manual spraying with chemical pesticides. The city recently decided to purchase a new machine which sprays the sidewalks with a chemical pesticide as it sweeps. When the road sweepers went on a pesticide application course, however, they learnt about such things as LD 50 tests, where liquid doses of a chemical under test are put in the eyes of rats or rabbits until 50% of them go blind. At least one became a conscientious objector, refusing to operate the machines. "Children often leave their toys out on the sidewalk," he said, "they get sprayed, then taken back into the home. What happens then ?" The city is now looking into the use of hot steam to do the job instead.


The world added 2,100 megawatts of new wind energy generating capacity in 1998, an all-time record, 35% more than was added in 1997. Wind power is now the world's fastest growing energy source, and one of the most rapidly expanding industries. The 1998 boom was led by Germany, which added 800 MW. Spain also emerged as a major player, adding 395 MW, increasing it capacity by 86% to 850 MW. Here in Canada we're lagging way behind, with just 24 MW (mostly at Pincher Creek in Alberta), but a new 100 MW project in the Gaspé, Quebec will increase that. Overall, wind power is a far larger potential energy source than most people realize. In the USA, the states of North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas have sufficient wind capacity to provide electricity for the entire nation. In the long run, wind power could easily exceed hydropower, which supplies 23% of the world's electricity. The key to progress is laws which guarantee access to the grid for wind generators at a legally set price, establishing a stable market and overcoming the resistance of coal and nuclear-dependent utilities to the new competition. (WorldWatch Institute)


You've heard of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition (of course you have !). Now let's extend a warm welcome to the British Columbia Cycling Coalition (BCCC), formed last year in Nanaimo as an umbrella organization for Cycling Coalitions across the Province, to lobby at the provincial level for transportational cycling. BCCC's mission is "to represent the interests of cyclists provincially and to secure their recognition in policy and programs affecting transportational cycling". Its mandate also includes helping others to form coalitions modelled on the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition. The BCCC represents around 3,000 people around the province. Among other things, it is working on B.C.'s Cycling Network Program (making sure the program continues and is improved), highway maintenance and access issues, driver and cyclist training, a government cycling policy, motor vehicle driver training manuals, and changes to the Motor Vehicle Act. For details, call Francis van Loon, 370-0428.

Visit them on the web:



The BC government has announced its intention to give the ownership of crown lands on Vancouver Island to MacMillan Bloedel and Timber West, in exchange for lands designated as parks. This involves tens of thousands of hectares which would be outside the Forest Practices Code, posing a huge threat to biodiversity.

Action : Write, phone or fax the Premier and explain how strongly you feel about giving away public forest lands to timber corporations as "compensation deals" for the new parks. Explain how important you think it is to have a stronger Forest Practices Code that protects fish, wildlife and water quality on both public and privately owned lands.
The Premier, Legislative Buildings, Victoria V8V 1X4
Tel 387-1715 Fax 387-0087.

Check out the Victoria Green Pages !

Deadline for July: June 24th

The Green Diary has moved!  Click HERE to see whats happening!



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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Click here for previous issues of EcoNews.

EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Sustainable Communities Consultancy

Author of 'After the Crash : The Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)

Forthcoming  'Journey into the Future : 2000 - 2015'
An ecofictional novel

EcoNews is printed on Tree-Free paper from Ecosource

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