Author Archives : Lisa Barrett


Asking the right questions: A guide for municipal officials considering P3s

With growing financial and political pressure on municipalities to use P3s, this guide is a timely resource that answers key questions about financing and delivering infrastructure projects.  With this guide, municipal councillors and civic officials will be able to ask the right questions before considering entering into a P3.  For more information, to download the READ MORE


Schools strive to open lines of communication

Abbotsford principal Dexter Horton  is cancel-ling his school’s monthly newsletter as part of an effort to improve communications with parents buy delivering more frequent messages to Clayburn middle school parents using Face-book, Twitter and school blogs.  He hopes these messages will draw more parents into the school to find out what’s going on, meet the teachers, discuss their READ MORE


Meteorologists Name Humans ‘Dominant’ Cause Of Climate Change

The American Meterological Society released its official statement on climate change, claiming the dominant cause of the warming since the 1950s is human activities. This scientific finding is based on a large and persuasive body of research.  The National Snow and Ice Data Center, in conjunction with NASA, announced today that Arctic sea ice has reached a READ MORE


Prominent climate change denier now admits he was wrong

Richard Muller, professor of physics at the University of California, Berkely, a MacArthur fellow and co-founder of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project has undergone a ‘total turnaround’ on his stance on global warming, which he now admits is caused by human activity.   “Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in READ MORE


Livable Cities Forum

The Columbia Institute Centre for Civic Governance is pleased to be a co-sponsor for the elected official stream for the ICLEI Liveable Communities Forum. The theme of this forum is Creating Adaptive and Resilient Communities. The event will provide a forum for municipal practitioners and elected officials to discuss the importance of urban climate change READ MORE


CCPA-NS releases first ever Alternative Municipal Budget

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS) releases its first ever Alternative Municipal Budget for the HRM today during the election campaign and well in advance of the normal budget cycle.  The Alternative Budget contains 65 action items and their estimated costs. It includes strategic investments in community centres and recreation programs, in early READ MORE


Canada-wide and BC commitments on climate change move to back burner as economic self-interest takes over

Emission reduction targets (half of what Canada needs to achieve) are being ignored in favour of economic self-interest with the federal government refusing to set targets to cap the fastest growing source of greenhouse bases in Canada – oilsands development.  BC has followed suit in announcing regulations that will allow it to fall farther off its READ MORE


Applications are now being accepted for Next Up: A Leadership Program for Young People Committed to Social and Environmental Justice

Applications are now being accepted for Next UpA Leadership Program for Young People Committed to Social and Environmental Justice Columbia Institute is a national partner for the  Next Up Leadership program for young social change activists between the ages of 18 and 32.  The program is offered in four cities across three provinces;  Next Up BC READ MORE


How one BC municipality is getting people to actually read public notices

Inspired by Toronto civic activist Dave Meslin’s TED Talk The Antidote to Apathy, Pemberton villager staffers set out to dramatically redesigned its public notices covering development applications, zoning and Official Community Plan amendments so residents can more easily understand them, and respond.  “We’ve received a lot of feedback from different community groups with compliments saying how they READ MORE


Poverty-reduction plan boasts 79 points

Surrey city councillors, community and charity groups and academics identified four core areas of improvement transit, housing, income and community support to come up with a plan aimed at helping the 71,000 Surrey residents who live below the poverty line.  “We want to establish a new benchmark to take care of the vulnerable people in our READ MORE


The side effects of Estevan Saskatchewan’s remarkable growth spurt

Estevan Saskatchewan is on the cusp of a resource-fuelled growth spurt that’s attracting newcomers from across the country and around the world.  Growth has brought it’s share of problems – low vacancy rates, high cost of housing, increases in drug related crime, and difficulty filling employment positions in the service industry.  Read more at The Globe and Mail .


‘Reverse boycott’ to help eatery go greener

Vancouver’s Cascade Room will be the target of a “Carrotmob” that organizers hope will draw hundreds of customers eager to reward the restaurant’s commitment to environmentally friendly renovations.  A Carrotmob is a social-media driven reverse boycott in which people reward socially responsible businesses with their patronage in a one-day spending blitz.  Read more at the READ MORE


Ontario proposes new path for financing energy, water conservation

Homeowners in Ontario could soon finance efficiency retrofits and solar panel installations through an additional charge on their property taxes, but only if the province makes good on regulatory changes it proposed last month.  Toronto councillor Mike Layton said proposed changes to provincial legislation would allow municipalities to enter into agreements with individual property owners READ MORE


New Surrey Gas Stations to Include Alternative Fuels

Surrey City Council is moving forward on a new by-law which would require all new gas stations to include alternative fuel sources such as a level-three electric vehicle charging station, compressed natural gas, hydrogen or propane. “We want to promote and advance clean technology by building the necessary infrastructure to support alternative fuel vehicles,” says Mayor READ MORE


Local Improvement Charges Regulation Amendments

On June 22, 2012, the Columbia Institute made a submission to the Municipal Finance Policy Branch at the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in a response for public feedback on proposal number 11-MAH011 – Local Improvement Charges Regulation Amendments Under the Municipal Act and the City of Toronto Act.  The submission focused specifically on the role municipalities READ MORE


Feds and Ontario vs wildlife

David Suzuki warns Canada’s environmental laws are under attack by both the federal and Ontario governments.   Ontario follows the federal Bill C-38 with a bill of its own –  Bill 55 – a 327-page bill that seriously affects no less than six important resource and wildlife laws, including Ontario’s Endangered Species Act.  Suzuki cautions that READ MORE


Crime wave changes as grey tsunami washes over Vancouver Island

As the so-called grey tsunami gains momentum across the country, a different kind of crime wave is washing over some Vancouver Island communities, including Parksville, Sidney and North Saanich, with violent acts dropping and incidents involving seniors on the rise.  Door-to-door hustlers, online scams targeting seniors, scooter collisions and other vehicle mishaps, find police having to READ MORE


Okanagan takes bite out of plan for genetically modified apple

On June 7, 2012, Allan Patton convinced his colleagues on the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen to adopt a motion to register its disapproval of the Arctic Apple, a genetically modified apple that carries the risk of cross-pollination of traditional varieties and puts the entire Okanagan fruit industry in jeopardy. The RDOS board unanimously READ MORE


14-storey building to be made from wood

A Norwegian housing cooperative says it plans to build the world’s largest wooden apartment building, a 14-storey structure in Bergen.  The project seeks to promote sustainable materials while at the same time boosting Norway’s vast forestry industry.  British Columbia recently changed the rules to allow six storey wood-frame buildings, up from four, and there has READ MORE


Vancouver Technical school’s market garden to be a Canadian first

Under a new agreement between the Vancouver School Board and Fresh Roots Urban Farms, a non-profit society that promotes urban agriculture, Vancouver Technical School will be creating a 1,000 square meter garden on the school’s property in September.  The Van Tech garden  is expected to not only provide a valuable learning opportunity for students, but yield READ MORE


Turning Rubble into Roads

The City of Edmonton Aggregate Recycling Programs recycles concrete, asphalt and other similar materials from reconstruction projects, private demolition and household renovations free of charge. The program provides an economical source of recycled material Edmonton then uses to construct and maintain streets and sidewalks, saving the city more than $15 million.  Read more at the Municipal Information Network.


Autism advocate raises concerns over inclusive education

The New Brunswick government will invest $62 million over the next three years to improve inclusive education.  Autism advocate and Fredericton lawyer Harold Doherty is questioning the education department’s plans around autism by pointing out that some children with autism cannot function properly in a mainstream classrooms.  “It’s a philosophy, it’s not an evidence based approach READ MORE


A Day in the Life of Our Taxes

Public health care, garbage pick up, safe food, clean water, public parks, emergency services, higher learning, the chance to live in great communities with the hope of reaching our personal dreams. It’s time to start having the conversation about what our taxes contribute to a healthy society.  See the video from the CCPA


Shaping the Future of our Communities

Shaping the Future of our Communities, Friday, October 12th – Saturday, October 13th, 2012 at the Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel & Suites located at 600 Highway 7 EAST, Richmond Hill Ontario JOEL BAKAN ANNOUNCED AS KEYNOTE SPEAKER! Joel Bakan is a Professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia. He teaches READ MORE