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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

 

Newsletter No. 100 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - December 2000


SMART PLANNING, SMART GROWTH

There’s something good coming out of Texas – and is isn’t oil, or dimpled chads.

The City of Austin wants to stop suburban sprawl from ruining the region. Ring any bells? In the wake of the distressing conflict over Silver Spray in East Sooke, there may be something to be learned from their approach.

All over North America, one suburban development looks much like another. The developer analyses the land, saves the occasional cluster of trees, plots out the mandatory wide roads, and fills in the lots with two-car garages facing the road. With rezoning and development approvals in place, the builders build, the landscapers drop in a lawn and a few non-native shrubs, and its off to market they go.

What’s wrong with this picture? To begin with, there’s the lack of ecological planning, footpaths, greenways, or planning for transit; there’s the absence of affordable housing, of any sense of place, or a village centre where residents can meet over a coffee or work in local businesses. There’s also the fact that many new developments are built out in the boonies, forcing residents to drive everywhere (and ferry their kids everywhere), while producing greenhouse gas emissions.

So what is Austin doing that might make a difference? A number of things. They have a Sustainable Communities Initiative, a City Sustainability Officer, and a Sustainable Energy Task Force, so they are putting quite a lot of political effort into solving their problems. They have a very successful Green Building Program which rates houses according to their environmental performance, and a SMART Housing program (Safe, Mixed-Income, Accessible, Reasonably-Priced, Transit-Oriented) which waives fees and speeds up the permit process for units that qualify.

It’s in the big picture, however, that Austin is being the most innovative. They have established a ‘Desired Development Zone’ (DDZ) and a ‘Drinking Water Protection Zone’, and set up a Smart Growth Zone Incentives program which charges reduced fees for favourable locations, and increased fees for unfavourable ones. To encourage employers to locate inside the DDZ, they offer fee waivers, new water and sewer lines, transport improvements, and a speeded up review process. Outside the DDZ, they get all that in reverse.

Now comes the interesting part. To measure how desirable a proposed development is, the City has set up a Smart Growth Criteria Matrix. Every project is scored against the matrix, and can win a possible 635 points in 14 categories. (For the details, see www.ci.austin.tx.us/smartgrowth, and the December 2000 issue of Scientific American). You can win more points for a downtown location, and for a location within one block of a transit stop or two blocks of a light rail station. There are points for higher density close to a transit or rail stop, and points for a ‘Traditional Neighbourhood Development’ code, with smaller setbacks, front porches, back lanes narrow streets, and a community orientation. There are points for mixed residential, office and retail use, for residential units above commercial, and for encouraging street level pedestrian uses.

The Matrix also offers points for being bicycle friendly, for traffic calming, for greenways and affordable housing, for using local contractors and architects, for water and energy efficiency, for incorporating a neighbourhood food market and other retail stores, for preserving heritage structures, and for re-using existing buildings. There are points for landscaping, streetscaping, for being consistent with local neighbourhood plans, and for local participation and support.

The higher the score, the lower the development fees, up to 100%. For high-scoring projects, the city will waive utility charges and pay for infrastructure investments.

Now this makes SENSE (it’s Sensible, Ecological, Nourishing, Sustainable, and Economic), and it sends a message that developers can understand. We need something new to control suburban sprawl, that developers, planners, politicians and residents can all sign onto – so maybe it’s worth a try. Let’s test the Texan way!

Guy Dauncey


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


ECONEWS

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Donations can be sent to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria V9E 2B9. For a receipt, send stamped addressed envelope.

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THE ECO-CORNER

$5 line (free to non-profits, low-income). 1" box ad $30, $2" $55.

* House Mate wanted to share our house in James Bay with person interested in environment, community, simple living $350 (incl util). Heather/Gary 360 0474.

* For Sale, home in Courtenay, nr shops, railway station, park. 3 BR, bachelor suite, wood/oil. $123,000 (250) 338-0324

* Wanted – used kids bike trailer for new parents. Graham & Barbara, 383-0484.

* Green Gifts. Solar flashlights, compost wing diggers, earthquake kits! Call City Green, 381-9995. Crafts, garden gifts at the Abkhazi Garden, 1964 Fairfield Rd (1-5pm) to help The Land Conservancy buy the garden. 192-page tree-free writing journal made from hemp, flax and cotton, hand-bound in Victoria, EcoSource Paper l#111, 1841 Oak Bay Ave. 595-4367.

* Volunteers are Needed at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary to help build a new trail on Christmas Hill, and help with school programs in January. Training provided. Joan, 479-0211 jcowley@swanlake.bc.ca

* Wkend, week holiday rental, strawbale house, Galiano, nr beaver pond, 320 acre seaside nature reserve. Dec-Feb, 539-2034


ARE YOU A TOXIN-FREE FAMILY?

"Today's children are born with a body burden of synthetic, persistent organic pollutants – the consequences of which will not be known for another 50 years or so," writes Dr. Trevor Hancock, chair of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. One of the most overlooked areas is indoor air. Canadian children spend more than 90% of their time indoors, and research has shown that concentrations of pollutants can be up to 100 times higher indoors than outdoors. As many parents know, we are experiencing a troubling rise in children’s cancers, asthma, and behavioural problems. Victoria’s new Toxic Smart project wants to help. For no charge, they’ll visit your home and help you understand what’s in those bottles and containers in the garage and under the sink; it takes about 90 minutes. They’ll also tell you how to make your own non-toxic cleaning products, and how to control garden pests. It’s only a beginning, but it’s a good beginning, and could be a much appreciated gift. 381-8321 www.georgiastrait.org/curtoxic.htm


REINCARPLASTICATION

Calling all rigid plastics, styrofoam egg and meat trays. Don’t lurk in the garbage - report for duty! Your planet needs you for recycling into dimensional grey, brown and green lumber, to help save the forests. Tell your owners to collect you up and deliver you to Syntal (544-1676), 6722 Bertram Place, Keating X Road, any time – there’s a bin outside. For James Bay residents, see Diary Dec 9th. In Fairfield, call 361-3621. Ask your owners to check out your re-incarnation as lumber at Beaver Lumber, Slegg and Windsor stores! PS: The CRD Blue Box also takes rigid plastics, and ships them to the lower mainland; but local is better.


BUILDING FRUITOPIA

OK – own up. Have you got a fruit tree that you were just too busy to harvest? This fall, the Victoria Fruit Tree Project gathered up 85 volunteers who visited 56 houses, picked 100 trees, and harvested 11,254 pounds of fruit that would have gone to waste. A third went to the volunteers and home-owners, a third was donated to community organizations such as the Mustard Seed and Boys and Girls Club, and a third was juiced and turned into apple sauce, and sold to local organic brown box programs. The Fruit Tree Project has also struck a partnership with the Fairfield Community Association, bought canning equipment, and run five successful canning workshops; the equipment is available for community groups throughout the region. The idea was started by Lee Herrin two years ago; it has now spread to Vancouver and Nelson. Here in Victoria, it was assisted by a government E-Team grant. 519-0091 www.coastnet.com/~lifecycles/ftp.htm


OREGON’S NEW FOREST RULES

The US Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman has announced a new set of planning guidelines for national forests and grasslands, marking a historic shift away from logging as the top priority. From now on, long term sustainability must be the overall goal of all forest planning, including recreation and other uses, and the public must be involved in the stewardship of forests lands. Forest companies will no longer be allowed to cut more timber than the forests can produce, and the system of self-appointed logging quotas has been eliminated. (Oregonlive.com, Nov 10th 2000).


WILDWOOD FOREST NEEDS YOUR HELP – PLEASE!

In 1945, Merve Wilkinson started taking care of 136 acres of his Wildwood forest at Yellowpoint, near Ladysmith. He assessed the total timber stand, calculated its annual growth (68,000 board feet per year), and every five years he harvested the growth, with no clearcuts, and no disturbance of the soil. Over the years, he has extracted more timber than the forest held, and yet the entire forest still exists, trees, beauty, flowers, birds and all, with as much timber as ever. It is quality timber, too, since Merve has never planted a tree or used any pesticides or fungicides. Using small custom milling, he gets more wood from each log than the big mills do. Merve and his forest have become an essential learning ground for sustainable forestry, and students from forestry colleges all over North America have been to visit – except for UBC, where the forest department banned its students from visiting. Wildwood is a living witness to the practicality, beauty, ecological wisdom, financial sense and job creation logic of eco-sustainable forestry. (For those who have not visited, there’s a tour on December 30th – see Diary).

Time passes, and Merve is now in his 80s. He owns 25% of the forest, while his previous partner owns 75%, and 16 months ago The Land Conservancy learnt that on Merve’s death, the property would be transferred to his previous partner and sold for development. Help! The heroes at The Land Conservancy (TLC) quickly got to work, and arranged to buy his partner’s share for $760,000 over a 30 month period, starting with a downpayment of $160,000 due this December 20th, then $20,000 a month. Merve is donating 60% of his share to the TLC, and selling the rest on terms which allow him and his wife Ann to continue living there. The urgent need now (meaning NOW) is to join Robert Bateman, who has already helped, and raise that $160,000 by December 20th. Your gifts will be tax-deductible, and you can also buy land-gift certificates – every $25 protects 6 square meters. Cheques can be made to The Land Conservancy of British Columbia, 5793 Old West Saanich Rd, Victoria V9E 2H2. (250) 479-8053, MasterCard & Visa accepted.

The Land Conservancy also needs donations to buy a 3,400 acre property to complete the Sooke Hills Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt, 2.5 acres of endangered Garry oak meadow at Christmas Hill, and the Abkhazi Gardens in Fairfield. They are our own local eco-bunnies, who never give up. www.conservancy.bc.ca


HOLIDAY READING GIFTS

Seven world-changing books that might make inspiring gifts this Christmas:

* Wildwood, A Forest for the Future, by Ruth Loomis with Merve Wilkinson (Reflections, Gabriola, 1990)

* Earthfuture: Stories from a Sustainable World, 2005 – 2015’, by Guy Dauncey (New Society, 1999)

* ‘Natural Capitalism’, by Paul Hawken, & Amory & Hunter Lovins (Little, Brown, 1999)

* ‘Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World’ by Alan Weisman (Chelsea Green)

* ‘Investing with Your Values’ by Hall Brill et al (New Society, 2000)

* ‘Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run’, essays by the late wonderful David Brower (New Society 1999).

* ‘The Natural Step for Business’ by Brian Nattrass & Mary Altomare (New Society, 1999)


$20, 20 MINUTES A MONTH

That’s what it takes to join the several hundred members of 20/20 Vision, who write and mail monthly Action Postcards to leaders and policymakers in BC on such issues as sustainable transport, protecting southwest Salt Spring, climate change, stopping military exports, cleaning up pulp mills and strengthening the Endangered Species Act. 20/20 Vision is celebrating its 10th Anniversary, and EcoNews congratulates it on its vision and persistence. 20/20 members feel that it’s an effective use of their time, that it tackles both local and global issues, and that it makes getting involved easy. If you want to join them, write to 20/20Vision, 103-2609 Westview Drive, North Vancouver V7N 4N2 (604) 983-2525.


BOYCOTT STAPLES!

Home Depot are doing it, and Lowes and several other major suppliers of timber are doing it – making the commitment to buy timber and paper-products that come from ecocertified forests, and to avoid timber from threatened oldgrowth forests. It’s a powerful way to change the atrocious logging practices of the world’s logging corporations; even some Malaysian companies are now considering the eco-certification of their forests as the only way to protect their market. Staples, however, with 1,100 stores worldwide, are refusing to do so. They sell paper that has been made from oldgrowth rainforests, and desks and other products made by Sauder Industries, which gets its wood directly from the Great Bear Rainforest.

So if you’re going to Staples, ask for a reassurance that the products you buy have not destroyed BC’s incredible rainforests – and walk away if they can’t say no. For an Action Packet, contact Liz Butler, Coastal Rainforest Coalition, liz@coastalrainforest.org. The Sierra Club of BC (www.sierraclub.ca/bc) is sitting down with four timber companies and two other NGOs to develop a unique initiative called the Joint Solutions Project, while the Council of Forest Industries and the Forest Alliance are financing a glossy misinformation campaign to try to persuade Home Depot and Lowes to back off, saying that BC’s forest practices are

just fine – supported by Premier Dosanjh. The government has been making some good moves of late, refusing to reopen the moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration, putting $4.9 million back into the Ministry of Environment, and approving the protection 600,000 hectares as park in the Muskaw-Kechika region, in the Northern Rockies. So please, Mr Premier – don’t mess things up now!


ACTION OF THE MONTH

STOP QUARRYING IN OUR SEA-TO-SEA GREENBELT

Nitya Harris writes: For many years, CRD residents have worked hard to establish the Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt linking Todd-Gowlland Park to the Sooke Basin – and for over three years, a major threat to has been the possibility of rock quarries being developed next to the Sooke Hills Wilderness Park. The quarry sites are in the middle of the greenbelt, a network of wild forest and marine areas, a sanctuary for native plants, elk, bears, cougars and wolves. As our population grows, the Greenbelt will become our urban containment boundary, and one of the defining characteristics of our region. Rock quarries will destroy this sanctuary with their noise, dust and pollution. The thunder of blasting and crushing will be heard throughout the greenbelt, especially in Wilderness Park. Rock quarries don’t have a place in the greenbelt. So, in accordance with their OCP, Metchosin drafted a Soils Removal Bylaw that defines where quarries can be developed in Metchosin. It was drafted with staff at the Ministry of Energy & Mines, but enacting it needs approval of the Minister of Energy and Mines (Glenn Robertson)…who announced on Nov 16th that he would not approve it. There are two quarries in the permitting process, with more lining up. We need the bylaw now to protect the Greenbelt. Premier Dosanjh says "I want BC communities to have more power to shape their future, and I want to know what communities think are the best ways to do that." (For more details, call 478-6330)

ACTION: Please write to Premier, and request that the Soil Removal Bylaw be approved by the Minister of Energy and Mines. Tel 387-1715 Fax 387-0087. PO Box 9041, Stn Prov Gov’t, Victoria V8W 9E1


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

 


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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)

Now Available!
'Earthfuture : Stories from a Sustainable World'
(New Society Publishers, November 1999)
An ecofictional novel

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