Category Archives : Environment

A healthy physical environment is crucial to ensuring sustainable economic, social and political growth for municipalities and communities. Maintaining environmental and biological integrity will guarantee prosperity in the future and assure community resiliency against potential challenges. The themes present in this category include climate change, building and urban design, energy, and food security.


Transportation_governance_cover page
Transportation_governance_cover page

Transportation Governance – 12 Case Studies

This note updates, verifies and adds to the information contained in Regional Transportation Governance: Selected Case Studies produced by the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority in 2006. It contains information about 12 transportation agencies in Canada, the U.S., France, the U.K., and Finland. All of the cases are regional transportation agencies, though the scope of their responsibilities varies. Some are responsible for multi-modal transportation systems, while others READ MORE


Publications-Briefing-Notes-Cover-201x300
Publications-Briefing-Notes-Cover-201x300

Climate Change Backgrounder – The Road to Paris (May 2015)

Almost 200 countries will meet in Paris this December for a legally-binding global climate agreement on curbing carbon emissions, with the goal of limiting global warming to 2ºC from pre-industrial levels. This is the 21st UNFCCC COP (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – Conference of the Parties).   The Union of Concerned Scientists READ MORE


The Future is Local
The Future is Local

Resources from Rising to the Climate Challenge

On May 29th, we hosted an extended lunch forum on ‘Rising to the Climate Challenge’ with IPCC Climate Scientist Dr Danny Harvey, and Toronto Councillor Mike Layton.   You can download Dr Harvey’s presentation on the latest climate science here . You can download Councillor Layton’s presentation on Toronto’s ground breaking home retrofit financing program  here . READ MORE


FossilFreeCanadaLogo
FossilFreeCanadaLogo

More local governments considering divesting from fossil fuels

More and more local governments and education institutions are facing questions about the impacts of climate change, and the risk of having money invested in fossil fuel companies. Mike McGinn, Mayor of Seattle, recently wrote a letter to the President of Harvard, outlining why Seattle decided to persue fossil-fuel divestment. You can read the full READ MORE


Mining Paper Cover
Mining Paper Cover

Municipalities stake a claim for more balanced mining rules in BC

Mining in BC is booming. But with outdated regulatory legislation, that boom is presenting challenges for local governments, and at this week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention, councillors from across BC called for the legislation to be updated. The 2011 BC Jobs Plan foreshadowed eight new mines and nine mining expansions operational by 2015. READ MORE


Van city hall
Van city hall

Don’t Exclude Cities from Canada’s Energy Plan

By Charley Beresford Read this article on the Tyee at: http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2013/05/31/Canada-Energy-Plan/ On slashing emissions, many municipalities are already trailblazers. Bring ’em to the table! In April, three Canadian premiers met with media to provide an update on interprovincial efforts to develop a national energy strategy. While their update on the Council of the Federation’s plans opened READ MORE


wild weather
wild weather

Wild Weather Hammers Home Case for Green Jobs

By Charley Beresford Read this story on The Tyee at:  http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2011/06/06/CaseForGreenJobs/   Recent spring flooding across Canada, and the carnage wrought by tornadoes in the American Midwest, are terrifying reminders of the potential implications of climate change. Let’s face it, Mother Nature is mad as hell, and she’s not going to take it anymore. These dramatic READ MORE


2011 Polling - Graph 4
2011 Polling - Graph 4

2011 Polling – Centre for Civic Governance at the Columbia Institute

Each year the Columbia Institute does polling on the local issues that British Columbians consider most pressing. Below is a comparison of results from 2007 to 2011.* You will find a breakdown of responses on the following page. Social Infrastructure includes: Homelessness, Healthcare, Poverty, Immigration/Integration, Education, Lack of social services/sense of community, Childcare. Economic Bottom READ MORE


Mining Paper Cover
Mining Paper Cover

Mining: The Challenge for BC Local Governments

A rapid expansion of mining activity puts local governments in a quandary. Mining operations offer significant opportunities for communities, bringing great potential for jobs, development, and growth. On the other hand, mining operations can affect communities in adverse ways, from compromising drinking water and air quality to reducing property values. What will it take to READ MORE


Cover MMBC Backgrounder
Cover MMBC Backgrounder

Multi-Material BC and Local Governments: Will the new industry-run recycling system cause backsliding?

BC local governments are concerned about changes to the province’s recycling systems. Local governments have led the way on recycling in BC, and most support the principles of expanded recycling, zero waste, reduced packaging and producers bearing responsibility for the full life-cycle of their products. However, many are clearly concerned about the structure and implementation READ MORE


Flooding due to rising seas could cost $1 trillion by 2050, with Vancouver’s risk high, study says

“Coastal flooding could cost the global economy $1 trillion a year a few short decades from now due to the rise in sea levels caused by global warming if action is not taken now to stem the flow and Vancouver is one of the cities most at-risk for losses, says a new study.”   To read the full article on the Vancouver Sun click here.


Denying Climate Change Is Bad for Your Electoral Health

“Some good news for a change when it comes to global warming:  A new bipartisan poll  shows strong support among young voters for taking action about climate change. That’s incredibly encouraging. And it gets better: 79 percent say they are more likely to vote for someone who supports action on climate change, and 73 percent say they would voteagainst someone READ MORE


Climate change in 2012: record sea-level rise, Arctic melting, warmed oceans, report says

“A new massive U.S. study says the world in 2012 sweltered with continued signs of climate change. Rising sea levels, snow melt, heat buildup in the oceans, and melting Arctic sea ice and Greenland ice sheets, all broke or nearly broke records, but temperatures only sneaked into the top 10.”   To read the full article on CTV click here.


Climate strongly affects human conflict and violence worldwide, says study

“Shifts in climate are strongly linked to human violence around the world, with even relatively minor departures from normal temperature or rainfall substantially increasing the risk of conflict in ancient times or today, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Princeton University.”   To read the full article on phys.org click here.


Canadian Energy Strategy Update

In July 2012, Premiers agreed to renew “A Shared Vision for Energy in Canada”.  At the July 2013 Council of the Federation meeting in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Premiers leading the Energy Strategy discussions   tabled a report on their progress .  The  Premiers are targeting the summer of 2014 for release of the final product and say they are exploring further stakeholder READ MORE


Columbia_energy_strategy_COVER
Columbia_energy_strategy_COVER

A Canadian Energy Strategy: Why should local governments care?

Canada’s federal and provincial governments are actively developing a national energy strategy, and there are compelling reasons for municipalities to become a bigger part of this conversation. Municipalities can play an important  role in ensuring that a Canadian energy strategy addresses the roles and interests of local communities across Canada. Canada’s federal and provincial governments READ MORE


Publications-Briefing-Notes-Cover-201x300
Publications-Briefing-Notes-Cover-201x300

Climate Change Backgrounder – The Road to Paris (June 2015)

Almost 200 countries will meet in Paris this December for a legally-binding global climate agreement on curbing carbon emissions, with the goal of limiting global warming to 2ºC from pre-industrial levels. This is the 21st   UNFCCC COP (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – Conference of the Parties).   The Union of Concerned Scientists READ MORE


How urban design affects our health

Research from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) has found that people in more walkable cities are more likely to be healthy. The research involved studies in 11 countries, and recommends that cities encourage walking and physical activity through: better integration of residential areas with commercial areas  building communities so that the places where people want READ MORE


‘New normal’ weather a major threat to Canadian municipal infrastructure and finances

Newly updated weather benchmarks from Environment Canada show that Canada’s national average winter temperature has risen 3.2 degrees. Canada is getting hotter faster than ever before and at a faster rate than almost any other country. This also means that rain, snow, sleet and hail storms are becoming more erratic.  As Canadian insurers and other economists have READ MORE


Canada Steps Backward on Climate Policy, Study Says

Canada is the only country out of 33 developed and developing nations to have taken a step backward in terms of climate legislation over the past year, ending 2012 with fewer policies related to climate change than it had last January, according to an international study published on January 14, 2013. Click here to read a Wall Street Journal article on the study. Click here to read the full study from GLOBE International.  


The Science Behind Climate Change – Video

As global climate negotiations wrap up in Doha, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the science behind the push for climate action. You can view the video on our YouTube channel, by clicking here.  Dr. John Fyfe is one of 150 Scientists contributing to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. The fifth “assessment report” will be published in 2013-2014. The forth “assessment report” was published READ MORE


More Bang For Our Buck – A new study from Blue Green Canada

This new report from Blue Green Canada  shows if the $1.3 billion in government subsidies, now given to the oil and gas sector, were instead invested in renewable energy and energy efficiency, Canada would create more jobs: 18,000 more.  The full report is available for download here.   You can also read media stories covering the report, from The Vancouver Sun and The Star .


UN says slow pace of carbon cuts brings catastrophic climate change closer

The world is straying further away from commitments to combat climate change, bringing the prospect of catastrophic global warming a step closer, a UN report said on Wednesday. The warning came as nearly 200 governments prepare to meet in Qatar forinternational climate negotiations starting next Monday. The gap between what world governments have committed to READ MORE


Depleting natural gas reserves makes no sense for the province – Study

A new Climate Justice Project study from the BC office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives warns that “BC’s water and hydroelectric resources are at risk of being depleted by industrial users, thanks to lax reporting requirements and extremely low water prices”. The study identifies gaping holes in key information relating to the water that major industries use. For example, of the READ MORE


Columbia Institute Retrofit Research featured in Municipal World Magazine

Research from the Columbia Institute’s report: This Green House: Building fast action for climate change and green jobs  was featured in the November 2012 issue of Municipal World Magazine.  Here is an excerpt. You can download and read the full Municipal World article below.  These days, amid record settingfloods, fires, and tornados, we’ve becomeaccustomed to hearing dire warningsabout the threats and impacts of climatechange. These are enormous READ MORE


New website to share green policies in Ontario municipalities

The Ontario Green Policy Hub, launched in October, offers a searchable on-line library of sustainability policies in Ontario municipalities. At launch, the website provides details about policies and programs in Toronto, Kitchener, Burlington, East Gwillimbury, York Region, and joint programs. Categories are: Community Design, Transportation, Green Infrastructure, Water Conservation, Energy, Waste Reduction, and Public Buildings. READ MORE


Unions and Environmentalists Urge Continued Support for Green Energy and Green Jobs

The World Trade Organization has come back with a preliminary ruling that find’s Ontario’s Green Energy Act is in contravention of some provisions of the GATT. The news broke in the Globe and Mail . Blue Green Canada is urging the Ontario and federal governments to step up the defence of Ontario’s Green Energy Act. To read more of Blue Green Canada’s response, click here


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


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


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


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.