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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. 52 - Serving Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - July/August 1996


RECREATING OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD CENTRES

Back in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the International Congress of Modern Architecture, guided by Le Corbusier, held a series of conferences ending in a cruise from Marseilles to Athens, which produced the legendary Athens Charter, inspired by Le Corbusier's dream of 'radiant cities' with high-rise towers in vast urban parks, with elevated freeways and separate zones for living, recreation and work. Traditional streetscapes and architecture were eliminated to make way for standardized architecture and industrial technology. Out with the old ! In with the new !

The consequences were tragic, and even today, 40 years after the architectural world realized its error, we still live with the consequences.

This May, the pendulum swung. Several hundred architects, developers and public officials met in Charleston, South Carolina for the fourth annual Congress of the New Urbanism, which ended in the adoption of a new Charter - the antithesis of the 1933 Athens Charter. It calls for a return to traditional urban centres and towns, reconfiguring the sprawling suburbs to make real neighbourhoods, creating communities designed for pedestrians, bicycles and transit, where streets, squares and greens have a real sense of place. Urban infill is seen as preferable to peripheral expansion, while non-contiguous growth outside urban boundaries should be in "towns and villages with their own urban edges, planned for a jobs/housing balance, not as bedroom suburbs".

Here on Vancouver Island, we live with many sprawling suburbs and car-dominated shopping malls. How do we begin to bring back a sense of place, community and charm ?

In James Bay, the Five Corners shopping centre where Thrifty Foods is located is the natural heart of James Bay, a community of 12,000 people. Right now, it is completely dominated by cars, and people are really secondary. What would it take to redesign it to make it a people-friendly market square ?

These are just ideas, but......Phase out most of the parking from in front of Thrifty's, and close off Simcoe St where it comes in from the west, leaving a narrow route for emergency vehicles. This creates a large pedestrian urban square. Plant trees, install a bandstand, make space for dancing, and encourage cafes to spill out into the square.

To create a sense of entry, build a large arch across Simcoe St to the west with residences built inside the arch above the street, to pay for construction. Build two more arches on Menzies, one to the north and one to the south, again with internal residences, and create raised bottleneck crosswalks to slow the traffic moving along Menzies and Toronto Streets.

What about parking ? Thrifty's already offers a home delivery service. Expand this by providing bicycle carts, enabling people to tow their shopping home (just started in Totnes, South Devon, UK). Parking could be metered to discourage lazy use, and phased out over five years as people adjusted to the new shopping habits. A community minibus circling the James Bay streets with space for groceries and supplies would help elderly people come to terms with the loss of parking. Create some new parking at the blocked off end of Simcoe St; there may be other parking spaces which a detailed walkabout would reveal.

Yes, there would be initial inconvenience, as people adjusted to the new shopping habits. But there would also be a beautiful market square where people could gather, take coffee, listen to music, watch their children play, and enjoy open air art displays under the shade of the trees, and evening concerts. It is a vision we really have to hold onto, while we consider the loss of the parking.

The biggest difficulty, apart from making the transition away from easy parking, would be getting all the owners, planners, engineers, councillors and community representatives around the same table to work out a joint agreement. There would be a hundred objections, any one of which could kill the idea if the larger vision was forgotten. Thrifty's might be able to open up their fresh produce section to spill out into the market square. New retail shops might decide to fill in the spaces when they realized what a wonderful space for people, culture and happenings the whole place was becoming. It is such an enticing possibility.

The next time you visit your corner store or neighbourhood centre, take a good look around. Could it be redesigned too, to make it a place for gathering, street markets and music ? And the suburbs - could neighbourhood centres be created out of nothing by choosing a location where the transit routes meet, narrowing the streets, rezoning the nearby properties for commercial and retail, and installing a village green, with trees and a pond ? It is all in the realm of the possible. Have a great summer !

- Guy Dauncey


 

ECONEWS

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

May June July
Circulation: 1600 1700 1700
Cost: $650 $652 $655
Donations: $741 $444 ? ? ?
Balance: $1714 $1506 ? ? ?

Many thanks to Chris Hanson, Elisabeth Bosher, Elizabeth Woods, Fireweed, Helen Gamble (in memory of Kainan), Aaron Smeeth, Tony Embledon, Carole Reimer, Jeff Stone, Tim Isaak, Marilyn Thaden Dexter, Douglas Crow, KJ Hilborn, Dorothy Bishop, Pauline Barnes, Robert Mazerolle, Unlimited Possibilities, Coke Pedersen and Wendy Schulz. Many thanks to you all.

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 guydauncey@earthfuture.com


TREE-FREE ENVELOPES

Take a careful look at the envelope EcoNews came in (unless hand delivered). Tree-free envelopes ! Made from the same Eco-21 paper EcoNews is printed on, made from mixed hemp and agricultural wastes. The envelopes, donated by Odette at Ecosource, are laser compatible. For info, call 595-4367, or 1-800-665-6944.


GREEN PARTY SUCCESS IN NELSON-CRESTON

The Nelson-Creston Greens received 10.9% of the vote in the provincial election, securing a 3rd place finish. Support varied from a high of 29.1% in Nelson, with the highest number of young unemployed voters, to a low of 3.3%. In Winlaw, home community of incumbent MLA Corky Evans, the Green vote was at 23.7%. In 16 of the 93 polls, where contentious logging plans for domestic watersheds are underway, support for the Green party averaged 20%. The Green Party candidate was Andy Shadrack.


SHARED LIVING

We're looking for long-term co-owners and/or shorter-term renters. 12 acres in the Highlands, 1/2 hour from Victoria with large home appropriate for co-operative living. Children, music, organic gardening and orcharding, friends, working and a little chaos. We have lived cooperatively for years and enjoy this life-style for its diversity, and adventure. Flexible financial arrangements, but partners must be able to finance roughly $200,000. Rent of 1 -2 bedrooms for Sept 1. Call Leah or Ambrose 391-1855, evenings.


CAR-SHARE CO-OP

The planned James Bay car-share co-operative has 25 of the 40 members it needs to get going. If you want to make a move towards more eco-friendly travel and adopt a more planet-friendly lifestyle, call Kathryn Molloy, 995-0268.


B.C. REFERENDUM TO STOP BEAR KILLING FOR TROPHY AND SPORT

This coming September, Western Canada Wilderness Committee will be launching a 90 day campaign to collect signatures from 10% of the registered voters in every constituency in B.C., to initiate a province-wide referendum to ban the trophy and sport hunting of bears. In a recent Angus Reid poll, 78% of the public agreed that trophy and sports hunting of bears should be banned. WC2 is looking for 50 canvassers in each of B.C.'s 75 electoral districts, to collect signatures. To be a canvasser, you must be a registered B.C. voter, have lived in B.C. for the past 6 months, and must witness each signature collected. If you want to be a canvasser, and help end the needless killing of black and grizzly bears in B.C., call the WC2 office at 1-800-661-WILD. The referendum is not against hunting - only the hunting of bears.


WOLVES

The wolf has a long history of habitation on Vancouver Island, and has been revered by the Island's native tribes for millennia. Due to past poisoning and hunting, there are only 200 or so wolves left. Helen Gamble is gathering stories and information to celebrate the wolf, and bring back its revered status. If you want to help, write to her at 1899 Tull Ave, Courtenay V9N 3J8, or call 339-7458.


WILDING HERITAGE FARM

Every five days, one of the world's breeds of farm animals becomes extinct - that's 73 breeds (5% of the total) lost to future generations every year. At 1980 Koksilah Road, near Cowichan Bay, Nick Usborne runs Wilding Heritage Farm as a Rare Breeds Survival Centre, with 17 of Canada's 60 rare breeds of farm animal. They do conservation breeding programs, are open to the public 7 months a year, and welcome dozens of school trips, bringing biodiversity into the classroom. They also work with disadvantaged adults and children and special needs students, who respond well to the close contact with animals. However, the Farm itself is in danger, and may be forced to close as a conservation centre. The farm needs to raise $75,000 over the next 9 months, $25,000 by August. It either needs dramatic fund-raising help; support from a foundation or corporation; or a business partnership. If you can help with cash, advice or ideas, call Nick at 746-6511. And plan a summer visit ! The farm is open Fridays to Mondays, 10 - 6pm


LYNX

Joyce Nelson, local author and campaigner, has launched a monthly newsletter called LYNX : A Newsletter in the Public Interest, covering stories such as the corporate assault on Canada's native peoples, the power of US timber interests and the threat to Canada's health-care system. Subscriptions are $30 waged, $18 unwaged. Write to LYNX, PO Box 39012, James Bay PO, Victoria V8V 4X8


COHOUSING UNIT FOR SALE

Bright, spacious 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo for sale in Cardiff Place, Canada's first cohousing community, in a prime Fairfield location, with caring neighbours and shared weekly meals. $184,000. Call 381-5221


HELP BUILD A COMMUNITY-BASED ECONOMY

Pacific Coast Savings is the largest credit union on the Island, and the 2nd largest financial institution in Greater Victoria, with 100,000 members. As a credit union, unlike a bank, it is owned and controlled by its members, who vote for the board of directors in annual elections. Pacific Coast is currently looking at ways to encourage community economic development, so that members' savings can be used to build an equitable, ecologically sustainable local economy; something that could make a major difference to the community as a whole. Directors are paid around $14,000 pa for the work they put in, which involves a willingness to do the necessary financial homework, a commitment to social change and a good understanding of process. To be nominated, you must have banked with Pacific Coast for a year. The deadline for nominations is September 14th. Why not think about it ? For details, call Kate Colwood, Pacific Coast Savings, 380-3138, and to discuss the idea, call Guy Dauncey at 881-1304.


PRAYER FOR AMERICA'S ROAD BUILDERS

This is the official Prayer of the American Road Builders' Association, received over the Internet. (Source - After the Planners, Robert Goodman, 1971). Enjoy !

"O Almighty God, who has given us this earth and has appointed men to have domination over it; who has commanded us to make straight the highways, to lift up the valleys and to make mountains low, we ask thy blessing upon these men who do just that. Fill them with a sense of accomplishment, not just for the roads built, but for the ways opened for the lengthening of visions, the broader hopes and the greater joys which makes these highways a possibility for mankind. Bless these, our Nation's road builders, and their friends. For the benefits we reap from their labors, we praise thee; may thy glory be revealed in us. Amen."


SOLAR SHINGLES

Look out - here comes the solar revolution ! This summer, 12 houses in Compton, Los Angeles, are being built with solar-voltaic shingles which convert sunlight directly into electricity. The shingles will generate about 2Kw, 60% of each home's electricity needs. In contrast to bolt-on solar panels, the shingles will form an integral part of the roofs, reducing installation costs and allowing for greater quality control. The pilot project is funded by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, who will monitor performance and cost, and compare it to other homes in the same development. If the project is successful, housing developers could offer solar-shingle roofs as an option on new homes, and the increased demand could reduce the cost of photovoltaics, making them more competitive with conventional utility power. Homes with solar roofs could also generate power to recharge electric vehicles, providing a totally emission-free source of transportation. The price of solarvoltaics is expected to become competitive with oil and coal based energy around the year 2004.


NATURAL HOUSE CATALOG

If you're into eco-houses, ecovillages and eco-architecture, you'll love David Pearson's new book, 'The Natural House Catalog'. With beautiful full-colour illustrations that'll inspire you to want to build, it covers everything from paints and finishes to composting toilets, natural air conditioning, allergy free materials, solar and wind energy and sustainable timber, backed up with thousands of addresses. (Fireside, Simon & Schuster, $31.00). If you want to eco-build or ecorenovate this summer, Greenbuilt (383-7473), here in Victoria, will help you find sustainably harvested timber and eco-materials.


GREENWAYS

The Ministry of Environment, with help from a host of partners, has produced a miracle of a book in its 'Stewardship' series, called 'Community Greenways - Linking Communities to Country and People to Nature'. It's surely a must for every planner, developer, architect, landscape architect, councillor, regional director and community activist, covering all the issues in a very specific, hands-on way, with a host of maps, plans and illustrations. It's free, from BC Environment, Suite 300, 1005 Broad St, Victoria V8W 2A1. 1-800-387-9853.


GATHERING IN THE GREEN

If you want to celebrate the summer, the full moon, the Earth and the friendship of like-minded people, there are gatherings on Salt Spring and Denman Islands in July and August. Salt Spring starts with a 5-day 'We of the Moon' retreat for women (July 29th - Aug 2nd) based around creation-centred spirituality, Insight meditation and a Course in Miracles (call 537-4286), and a second retreat Aug. 26th - 30th. On Denman, the 7-day 'Gathering in the Green' (Aug 25th - 31st) is inspired by ecofeminism and spiritual politics for both women and men, with a variety of presenters, topics and activities, and ritual honouring of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. For details, send sae to Women and the Earth, c/o Fireweed, Denman Island, V0R 1T0. Both cost in the $300 - $400 range. And while you're planning summer get-aways, don't forget the Community Development Institute in Nelson or the Applied Deep Ecology Course on Whidbey Island (see Diary).


MARINE PROTECTED AREAS

The Galiano Conservancy Association is arranging a one-day conference on Sat July 13th to look at the whole idea of marine protected areas, and in particular, protection for the Trincomali Channel Rockfish Nursery. There are speakers from the Marine Life Sanctuaries Society, the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans, and Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. The day starts at 12 noon, and is timed for the ferry from Victoria. Details 539-2424.


SHOW THEM THE FOREST !

If you have visitors coming to the Island this summer, Coastal Connections is offering an overnight trip to the Carmanah with a one-hour flight over southern Vancouver Island, a gourmet picnic lunch, an interpretive hike through the Carmanah rainforest, a traditional salmon barbecue prepared by a Ditidaht native cook on the shores of Nitinat Lake, and overnight accommodation in the new Ditidaht village motel. Departures for groups of 7 twice monthly, price $339. Coastal Connections also offers a wide range of day-trips and outings. For info, call 480-9560 (1-800-840-HIKE).

Did you know ? DuPont are manufacturing 60,000 tonnes of CFCs a year in Brazil, now that North America is phasing them out. CFCs are prime destroyers of the planet's ozone layer. (BBC News, June 3rd).

Can you help ? Wanted - cold storage space and/or a site to distribute organic fruit from the Okanagan (cherries, apricots) 2 days a week in the summer. Contact Amelita Kucher, 598-8980.


ACTION OF THE MONTH : MILL FARM, SALT SPRING

The Salt Spring Island community is desperately attempting to protect one of the last substantial stands of old-growth timber in the whole Islands Trust area. Situated on the slopes of Mount Bruce, above Musgrave Landing, Mill Farm's pristine acreage has been in co-operative ownership for many years. Three off-island partners are forcing a sale of the 160-acres, and have accepted an offer by logging interests. The price-tag is $1.3 million, reflecting the value of the timber on the land. Islanders are working 24 hours a day to raise pledges of $100,000 to help persuade the federal/provincial Pacific Marine Heritage Legacy fund to buy the land, in time for a probable court auction in early July. The mountain lands include Garry Oak meadows, wetlands, arbutus woodlands, at least 30 threatened and vulnerable wildflower species, two endangered butterflies, eagles' nests, raptors and reptiles. The Conservation Data Centre gave the land its highest biodiversity ranking, and Nature Conservancy of Canada identified the area as a high priority for conservation. Mill Farm sits right in the middle of the western slopes of Mount Tuam and Mount Bruce, overlooking Satellite Channel, land which many islanders see as a future park, with trails running from the water up to the mountaintops.

  • Action : If you can help in any way, either with pledges, or by telling friends about the urgency, please do. The local campaign has so far raised $48,000. For direct information, call Ann Richardson (653-4632) or Fiona Flook (653-9202), at Salt Spring Conservancy. Letters should be sent to Paul Ramsey, Minister of Environment, Legislative Assembly, Victoria V8V 1Z4, Fax 387-1356.

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 !


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