Newsletter No. 50 - Serving
Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - May 1996
WHICH WAY AHEAD ?
CHOOSING A GOVERNMENT
Who are you going to vote for ? That's the question we all
face this month. If you have party loyalties, it's no problem. But if you share a worrying
concern that the our whole society is moving steadily towards more social and ecological
fragmentation, both locally and globally, it's a harder question.
World food supplies are collapsing. Grain prices are
soaring, the markets are talking of panic, and the UN is calling for urgent global action
to address the crisis.
Biodiversity is being lost all around the world, as
population grows, and as the North sucks in produce, energy and supplies from the poorer
South, with no regard for the ecological cost.
The planet's climate is becoming more destabilized every
year, as we pump ever-increasing amounts of C02 and other greenhouse gases from our cars,
factories, homes, and our industrial consumer lifestyle.
The ozone layer is unravelling, subjecting all life to the
harmful impact of UV rays. In March, the World Meteorological Association issued its
strongest warning ever, alarmed by the "unprecedented deficiency of 45% for northern
latitudes" in the first three months of the year. Ozone levels in the Western USA are
dropping by 3-4% per decade.
Globally, we are careening towards a crisis. If it's
worrying for us, imagine what it feels like if you are a Zambian peasant farmer or an El
Salvadorean coffee worker, with no resources to fall back on. And yet it is our trading
and banking relationships with the third world, our commitment to burning fossil fuels,
our appetite for meat (consuming vast quantities of grain) and our addiction to the
industrial, consumer lifestyle which lie at the root of so many of the problems.
To use an analogy, it is as if we have our foot placed
firmly on the gas, as we careen blindly and unthinkingly into the future.
Locally, increased suburban sprawl is putting pressure on
wildlands and wetlands; the pursuit of economic growth is eating away at our forests, fish
and farmland, and fueling the ecological disaster in the world as a whole; and for the 10%
who are left out, without work or proper income, the pressures to get tough and cut
welfare are increasing.
Given these realities, who do you vote for ? Which party
offers the best leadership through the next few troubled years, and a vision powerful
enough to lead us into the next millennium ?
The Reform Party is apparently happy to stay on the
current road, putting its foot to the floor, picking up speed as we go. No problems !
The Liberal Party is happy to stay on the same road too,
with their foot to the gas, and just an occasional nod to the salmon and the bears as they
Gordon Wilson's Progressive Democratic Alliance is on the
same road too, but with an awareness that the road has an end, and that there are 'limits
The New Democrats are following the same basic road too,
but they seem aware of the parallel crises, and are concerned to address them as they
travel, adjusting the route as the crises become apparent.
The Green Party alone seems to realize that we are on the
wrong road entirely, and that we need to stop and take a wholly new direction. For this
election, they have emerged as a serious, credible party for the first time, fielding
candidates in every riding, and participating in the big CBC Election Debate. In Europe,
where they are able to benefit from proportional representation (PR), the Greens are now a
major force in France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Holland and several other countries.
In countries without PR, however, a vote for the Greens is
always a gamble. If there is no danger that a responsible, socially progressive government
such as the NDP will be displaced by the forces of big business, then a vote for the Green
Party is an essential and important reminder to the other parties that they are on the
But if there is a danger that by voting Green you actually
help the opposition get into power, then it's a very high stakes gamble, which may
undermine progress towards many of the goals the Green Party supports.
By any standards of provincial or European government, the
NDP has done a remarkably good job over the past five years. There have been many errors
and misjudgements - but underneath, there has been a consistent commitment to social and
environmental progress, whether in parks, forestry, crime prevention, air quality or a
host of other matters. Even on financial issues, B.C. has the best track record in Canada,
the best credit rating, and among the lowest level of per capita government expenditure.
The best thing that could happen to B.C. is that the NDP should be re-elected. The Liberal
alternative is alarming. We need to know a good thing when we see one !
Many unexpected things can happen during a B.C. election.
The Liberals may come unglued. Gordon Wilson may rise again. The Green Party may win its
first seat. But one thing matters overall - that the NDP is given a second term in office.
- Guy Dauncey
ECONEWS - 50 Today!!
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Maria Grau, Alan Greatbatch, Louise Guilbault, Craig Harold, Daniel Harper, Dale Hitchcox,
Mark Holland, Rick Hoogendoorn, Barbara Houston, HBrad Jarvis, Janis Kirker, Fred Knelman,
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COB COTTAGE BUILDING
Do you enjoy learning new ways to build, while living with
new friends on Cortes Island ? Then book June 23rd - 29th for a Cob Cottage Building
Workshop at Channel Rock, a 140 acre oceanfront property that's being converted into a
centre for sustainable living. Cob building is relatively easy to learn and inexpensive to
build - an ancient earth technology that doesn't cause deforestation or pollution, or need
manufactured materials or power tools. The course is designed for both novices and
professionals. Details - call Robyn Budd, 935-6342.
There is a public meeting on Tuesday June 4th (see Diary)
to tell people about the proposed Car Share Co-operative that is to be started in James
Bay once the group has 40 members. The idea is to reduce the overall number of cars in the
city, and reduce air pollutants and C02 emissions, while still making it easy for people
to have access to a car if they need one. Membership costs approx. a $500 deposit, plus
$120 a year for membership and daily payment for time and distance. The idea is not new -
there are over 100 car-share co-ops in Europe, and a group in Quebec has 170 members,
sharing 18 vehicles. The cars will be based in James Bay, but anyone can become a member.
If you're interested, but can't get to the meeting, call Kathryn Molloy on 995-0268.
When the white settlers first arrived on Vancouver Island,
they found wolves - so many that every trapper or prospector always carried strychnine to
poison them. In the 1950s and '60s, the desire to kill led to an aerial drop program with
poisoned horse carcasses, until the numbers fell so low that the wolf was protected in the
late '60s. Today, there are just 200 - 300 wolves left on the Island, including packs
around the Shawnigan, San Juan, Jordan and Chemainus, Muchalat and Nimpkish watersheds.
Anyone with a license can hunt them from Sept 1st to June 15th, either shooting or using
the controversial leg-hold trap, up to a bag limit of 3. The average reported kill is
under 30 (last year, 13), but the numbers may be higher due to some not reporting. The
official line is that there is no reason not to kill wolves, since their numbers are not
in danger. Personally, I wish none was killed; we have already reaped a terrible enough
holocaust against the wolves. Last month, in an accident near Kelsey Bay, Helen Gamble's 5
year old malamute Kainan was shot by a wolf-hunter while Helen and other tree-planters
worked 25 metres away, dying in her arms 15 minutes later. The hunter was shocked, and
reported his mistake. The European Union plans to ban all fur from Canada and other
countries which use the leg-hold trap, which it regards as cruel and unnecessary. If you
think wolf hunting on the Island should be stopped altogether, write to Moe Sihota,
Legislative Assembly, Victoria V8V 1X4. Fax 387-1356.
THE SOOKE HILLS - WHAT'S
During April, I was lucky to be invited on a guided tour
of the Veitch Creek area of the proposed Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt, just north of the highway
down to Sooke. A group of us walked along the valley bottom, dotted with oldgrowth snags,
big maples and trillium, and hiked up through arbutus and great patches of shooting star
to a viewpoint where we enjoyed lunch gazing over a truly gorgeous valley. The Water
District will be holding its public hearings into the proposed land swap of the Waugh
Creek lands (adjacent to Veitch Creek) to the timber company, Kapoor either in June, or if
the election intercedes, September. If they decide to proceed with the swap, which would
eliminate the possibility of a full sea-to-sea greenbelt wilderness, they will first take
the decision to the four core municipalities and the Provincial Capital Commission. In a
parallel step, Moe Sihota established a Water District Commission to review a number of
issues including conservation, protection, land & watershed management and the overall
governance of the water supply. The commissioner (David Perry) will hold public hearings
and deliver his report by Sept 30th. David McLean, chair of the Board, says the
Commissioner's review will not interfere with the Board's normal processes and decisions.
PROFITS & WORLD
In 1994 Zambia spent thirty times more in debt repayment
than it did on education. Children die from hunger, while Zambia repays its debt to the
west's banks, which roll in the profits. If this kind of reality disturbs you, and you
want to understand what's really happening, you'll find Susan George's talk on May 30th
invaluable (see Diary). Susan is author of 'A Fate Worse Than Debt', 'The Debt Boomerang',
'Ill Fares the Land', and 'Faith and Credit - The World Bank's Secular Empire', and is
highly regarded in Europe as one of the top critics of current world financial policies.
Not to be missed.
Do you work in any area of community development ? This
summer, July 29th - Aug 2nd in Nelson, there's a big summer institute on 'Local Leadership
for Sustainable Communities', with whole-day programs on forestry, environmental
stewardship, agriculture, permaculture, green city issues, bioregional mapping,
sustainable living and watershed management, as well as a host of programs (60 in all) on
community economic development, health, women's organizations, multiculturalism, first
nations, health and community arts. Local community organizations in Nelson are very
involved in the planning, along with many other groups. Last year was a blast ! Shannon
Daub, SPARC, 106-2182 West 12th, Vancouver V6K 2N4 Tel 736-8118
Organic Heritage Plant Nursery : The healthiest veggies,
flowers and herbs
Friday, Saturday & Sunday, May 3rd - 12th at the
Greenhouse, 1834 Haultain St. 10am - 5pm
Carolyn Herriot 592-4472
More to follow !
COMPOSTING AT HARTLAND
The CRD is building a major new composting unit at
Hartland Rd, designed to mix wet feedstock from supermarkets, restaurants, hotels and
residential wastes with dry stuff such as yard trimmings, wood and paper sludge. The
facility will process 12,500 tonnes a year, to be marketed as plant mix and fertilizer.
This is great - we all support more composting. However almost no-one was informed about
the proposal, and there are a number of serious concerns, regarding : the new commercial
rock quarry operation at the base of Mount Work; the 130 to 260 trucks a day which will
share the access road to the jewel of the Gowlland-Tod Provincial Park; the social and
environmental impact of all that traffic; plans for expanding the facility to takes wastes
from other parts of Vancouver Island; the transportation of biosolids including sewage
from treatment plants on the peninsula; and the movement of leachate into Durrance and Tod
creeks, Saanich Inlet and the Willis Point water supply. There are also questions about
the actual technology being used. Saanich is doing a social and environmental review - but
the CRD seems not to be interested.
ARE YOU A WATER-WIZARD ?
The Fernwood Compost Centre's new Waterwise Gardening
Program is getting underway, and they are looking for volunteers to train as
Water-Wizards. Once trained, you will help build the Waterwise demonstration garden, take
the Waterwise program to the public at events and displays, and do Waterwise Garden
Assessments at people's homes. The training will be evenings and weekends in May. To
volunteer, call Nancy, 385-1379. Also, the West Coast Environmental Youth Alliance
(383-2062) is proposing that the lawns of the Legislative Assembly be restored to a Garry
Oak Meadow as a showcase for the government's own Naturescape program, which is designed
to promote conservation landscaping and create urban wildlife habitat as an alternative to
plain old lawns.
AND ARE YOU EARTH-SKILLED
Wes Gietz and Dan Whetung are running a series of Earth
Skills workshops and demonstrations designed to help you be fully comfortable,
self-sufficient and at home in the wilderness. 'As long as we know how, Nature can provide
us with everything we need to live, and live well.' The courses are practical and hands
on, covering tracking, shelter and warmth, water and tools, hunting, firemaking, plant
foods, philosophy and awareness - based on respect for all beings, and the old ways. For
information, call 478-3110.
SOLAR CARS FOR ALL ?
The American Tour de Sol solar car race (May 10-17) is
about to see the trans2, the first mass produced ovoid-shaped zero emissions electric
vehicle which can travel 70 miles at up to 40 mph on a single solar charge. State laws and
local ordinances in Arizona and California encourage the use of alternative vehicles on
designated city streets. Production trans2 vehicles are limited to 20 mph by
microprocessors, but allowed to cross public roadways for shopping, etc. The manufacturers
see a great future for the trans2 in cities, towns and retirement communities where local
bylaws are designed to reduce speed, congestion, parking space and emissions. The solar
car is manufactured by trans2 Corporation in Livonia, Michigan. (Fax 810-354-3770).
Are you an urban designer, planner or landscaper with a
desire to make a difference ? The Rogers School Urban Farm & EcoVillage Project needs
your help to sketch out alternative possibilities for the Rogers Farm land, next to the
school. Call Yves Parizeau, 727-0188.
The Georgia Strait Alliance is offering two one-day
leadership Skillshops to Vancouver Island young people aged 14 to 21, in Nanaimo (May 4th,
753-3459) and Courtenay (May 5th, 338-0238). Price $15, with bursaries for those who are
totally broke. The Skillshops are designed for young people with an interest in
environmental and social issues who want to feel empowered, take action - and have fun !
The sessions will be lively and highly interactive, incorporating popular theatre games
and music. Resource people include Graham Myers from LifeCycles, the Victoria group
specializing in food and environmental issues, and members of the Environmental Youth
Alliance. 'You've got the Power' - go for it !
THE CAR & THE CITY
This is the fable of a beast which tempted people out of
their safe, downtown homes and into the sprawlish suburbs, where it proceeded to devour
them, distancing them from their neighbours, forcing them to drive everywhere, and pumping
out nasty fumes which give the planet a headache, while making their life a whole lot more
dangerous (through road accidents) than if they had stayed downtown in the first place. By
the time you have worked to pay for your car, your average speed is 17 mph - compared to
13mph for cyclists. The fable is The
Car and the City , by Alan Thein Durning (Northwest Environment Watch, 1402 Third Ave,
#1127, Seattle, WA 98101-2118), and it's the shortest, clearest description of what's
going wrong, and the 24 key steps needed to make things right, that you'll find anywhere.
You can read it on the bus - or the Fuel Free Cycle Event (May 5th). firstname.lastname@example.org
ACTION OF THE MONTH :
YOU AND BETH
With the politicians are busy with the election, why not
make a commitment to YOURSELF that you'll get out into the woods, join the Fuel Free Cycle
Ride, or go camping on the beach. After all, you do know the Fourth Law of Sustainability,
don't you ? "If it's not fun, it's not sustainable".
Secondly, Beth Hill, one of Victoria's indefatigable heros
of social and environmental change, is suffering from the recurrence of the cancer she
thought she'd beaten last year. Your thoughts, cards and prayers to God and the Goddess
will be much appreciated. Beth Hill, 613 Avalon St, Victoria V8V 1N8.
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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