A report by the National Council of Welfare reveals that tough welfare rules are forcing families and individuals into utter destitution. Rules that require people to sell their homes and spend all of their savings before receiving assistance have created a poverty trap. Read more in the Toronto Star .
Parliament is in the process of drawing up a new electoral map, but a bill that would have awarded more seats to Ontario, Alberta and BC is being shelved. The original decision to give these provinces more seats was based on recent census numbers that showed large population increases in urban and suburban areas. Pressure READ MORE
Vancouver Sun journalist Peter McMartin suggests that following the Edmonton model of diversifying schools and offering more choice may help save Vancouver’s public schools. Read the article in the Vancouver Sun .
Two BC municipalities are leading the way when it comes to children and families. Both New Westminster and the City of Surrey are developing strategies to promote the well-being of children in their communities. To read about Surrey’s initiatives, click here . To read about New Westminster’s Children’s Charter click here .
Mayor, Dianne Watts of Surrey BC, has just won fourth place in the World Mayor Project . The project honours mayors from across the globe who’ve made their cities better places to live.
Following on the heels of Toronto, Vancouver has officially endorsed the Vienna Declaration . The Vienna Declaration encourages governments to use scientific, evidence-based research when developing drug policy, rather than dealing with drug addiction from an ideological perspective. The city’s safe injection site is a key example of an evidence-based policy. Read more in the Metro READ MORE
In 2008, the City of Toronto released a study titled The Mayor’s Tower Renewal Opportunities Book . The study looked at ways that Toronto’s outdated and inefficient apartment housing stock could be retrofitted for energy efficiency and liveability. The current Mayor’s office however, has deemed the program a waste of taxpayers money, despite the energy and financial savings that would be READ MORE
In an effort to reduce traffic congestion, the city of Montreal plans to introduce a tax on vehicles. The money generated will be redirected towards improving public transit. Read CBC article here .
Toronto’s “The Stop” is not a typical foodbank. In addition to giving groceries, it also provides meals prepared from local foods, a community garden for patrons, and important community connections. Read the article in The Tyee .
A new Living Planet report shows that humanity’s ecological footprint has more than doubled since 1966. In 2007 humans used "the equivalent of 1.5 earths in 2007 to support their activities." Find report and summary here .
An East Vancouver school on the verge of being shut down due to decreased enrollment is hoping to attract new students by introducing multicultural arts-based programs. Read article in Vancouver Sun.
The City of Calgary has just released a poll that shows the number of people who support an increase in property taxes to cover services has jumped from 48% in 2009 to 55% in 2010. The survey also showed that 94% of citizens thought the overall quality of services in Calgary is good. Read article READ MORE
Distored work-life balance is a public health crisis and a has a negative impact on the economy. The stress of prioritizing responsibilities in the home and in the workplace has become a major issue for Canadian adults. Find out more information in the week-long series in The Globe and Mail .
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) has just released a report on Climate Justice and BC’s food system titled “Every Bite Counts” . The report suggests a new framework is in order for BC’s food system and that we can no longer rely on the market to deliver food that supports local economies or is nutritious or READ MORE
NDP MLA for London-Fanshawe, Irene Mathyssen, will be putting forth a private members bill today that seeks to ban single-use plastic bags across Canada. Canada takes home over 55 million plastic bags each week, 75% of which end up in landfills. Read more in CTV News .
Surrey business leaders, education leaders and Mayor Diane Watts have joined together to appeal for more education funding. Surrey has the largest public-school district in the province and the local board of trade has argued that education is a cornerstone of a stable economy.The Surrey board of trade recently released a paper titled Education Today, Productivity Tomorrow . Read READ MORE
Listen to newly elected Calgary Mayor, Naheed Nenshion, talk to Anna Maria Tremonti on CBC radio’s The Current , about pluralism, community diversity, and about his mayoral campaign that reached out to young voters, used social media and worked hard to engage citizens on civic issues.
The OECD has released a report describing how taxes – a key policy tool– are being used to encourage local and global environmental goals. It draws on case studies from the UK, Israel, Sweden, Spain, Japan and others. Download the executive summary here .
The report, titled “Mainstreaming the Economics of Nature, ” is written by Pavan Sukhdev, a banker who heads the UN’s green economy initiative, and describes the global tendency to take advantage of nature’s free services without applying economic value to them. The report points out that deforestation costs millions of dollars in flooding, greenhouse gas emissions, and water purification- more READ MORE
Beyond Habitat: Tools for Biodiverse Communities Panel Discussion and Book Launch with Dr. Val Schaefer, Grant Pearsell and Briony Penn Monday October 4th, 2010 1:00-4:30pm Segal Graduate School of Business, 500 Granville St. Room 1500 Local governments can play a cruscial role in the conservation and promotion of global biodiversity; but where READ MORE
Esquimalt is very likely to pass living wage legislation in the very near future. Although some Victoria-area politicians are nervous about the idea, it seems most agree a living wage is essential for working families to make ends meet. The school district of Qualicum has just recently passed a motion to support the living wage READ MORE
Faced with declining enrollment, many schools are taking on a dual role, acting as a school by day and a community hub by night. Schools throughout the Metro Vancouver region are now offering ESL classes, art and sports programs plus community services. Read the full story in The Tyee .
Unlimited Vision: Ideas for Building Inclusive Sustainable Communities is a collection of stories featuring courageous leadership, community building and legislative tools in action. It is the second volume in the “Innovative Strategies Leadership Series” for locally elected leaders. Inspired by conversations at our Centre for Civic Governance forums, this handbook highlights leadership stories from across the country READ MORE
For the Love of Nature: Solutions for Biodiversity is the fourth volume in the Centre for Civic Governance’s Going for Green leadership series. In this edition, authors Briony Penn and Dr. Robin J. Hood share their stories about leadership in biodiversity. You’ll also find inspiration, legislative tools and promising practices for creating a legacy of biodiversity READ MORE
“The Tipping Point” is an informative video about climate change by Leo Murray. Watch it here .
Ahead of the Curve,: Tapping into the Prairie’s Rich Leadership History A forum for the Prairies’ locally elected leaders. The forum provides tools, resources and inspiration for building strong and sustainable local economies. Ahead of the Curve: Tapping into the Prairies’ Rich Leadership History October 29th, 2011 9:30 am – 4:30 pm At Wanuskewin Heritage READ MORE
A new study suggests that a decline in bee pollination may be due to climate change rather than declining bee populations. The study points out that flowers are blooming earlier in spring while bee populations are not yet active. Read the full story in The Star .
After many years of careful planning, Vancouver Island’s Capital Regional District (CRD) has just received provincial approval for a $782-million sewage system upgrade that will put an end to the practice of dumping raw sewage into the ocean. Saanich City Councillor, Judy Brownoff, who also serves as chair for the CRD’s Sewage Treatment Committee, has READ MORE
Prepared by the Land Conservancy and Farm Folk City Folk, the “Local Government Toolkit for Sustainable Food Production” provides tools and resources for the promotion of local farming and food security. Download the toolkit here .
Watch this video to learn what steps Copenhagen took to become one of the most livable cities in the world, and how it went from a "traffic infested city to a people oriented city". Hint – lower speed limits!
The Community Energy Association has just released a guide providing information on over 60 funding programs and resources that provide financial and educational support to BC local governments and climate change initiatives. To access the guide click here .
Whistler’s annual BioBlitz invites local and non-local scientists to participate in a species treasure hunt. Scientists snap photos and collect samples of species found in the Whistler Resort area. This year’s event resulted in a collection of over 700 plant and animal species and 100 of them are thought to be new. Read more in READ MORE
A recent Canwest article reported that the federal government plans to restrict the upcoming census. Armine Yalnizyan, a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), opposes this decision. Read his letter to the Honorable Tony Clement, the Minister Responsible for Statistics Canada, and and Munir Sheikh, Chief Statistician at Statistics Canada.
The Tyee reports that the Federal Government has killed a report examining the environmental impacts of Alberta’s Tar Sands. According to the evidence presented by several reputable scientists, the industry is rapidly poisoning and depleting the Province’s water supply. Read the full story in The Tyee .
Metro Vancouver’s proposed solid waste management plan is drawing fire over its waste incineration component. The region plans to increase recycling from 50% to 70% and burn the remaining 30%. While burning garbage could potentially provide energy and heat to nearby neighbourhoods, critics warn that incineration creates toxic air pollution, releasing "emissions of mercury, lead READ MORE
A report commissioned in 2008 by FMC (Farmers’ Market Canada ) has found that farmers’ markets have an economic impact of $3.09 billion dollars annually on the Canadian economy. The study also shows that 62% of Canadians feel that buying directly from farmers is extremely important. Read the study here .
Green builders are currently examining the environmental benefits of different roofing systems, focusing much of their research on white roofs and green roofs. While green roofs are expensive, test sites in New York City have shown that green roofs are very effective at reducing the urban heat island effect, absorbing stormwater and keeping buildings cool READ MORE
Read Jim Stanford’s Op-Ed on the CETA Trade Agreement in the Globe and Mail.
On July 6th, former Vancouver Mayor, Art Phillips received the Freedom of the City Award. Under Mayor Phillips, the City of Vancouver adopted socially and environmentally progressive policies that laid out the foundation for what is today one of the most livable cities in the world. Mayor Phillips and his party rejected the plan to READ MORE
The Federal Government is cutting back on the collection of statistical information from Canadians. The Conservatives reason that much of the information collected is an intrusion on personal privacy. However, community groups, and those who conduct research and develop policy say that this move will seriously harm the quality of their work. Census information is READ MORE
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have concluded that green infrastructure is better suited to deal with storm water runoff that the traditional use of curbs and gutters, detention ponds and storm sewers. Green infrastructure incorporates permeable pavement, green roofs and constructed wetlands to reduce the flow of pollutants into sewers and ultimately READ MORE
A murder in a neighbourhood often lowers the IQ scores of children within a 10 block radius. Although this dip in IQ seems to go back to normal after 10 days, the post-traumatic stress of children who live in violent crime-ridden neighbourhoods accounts for lower IQ scores and poorer academic performance. Read the full story READ MORE
Gaining Ground 2010 Conference "Eco-Logical" The Power of Green Cities to Shape the Future Vancouver, BC October 4-7, 2010 Conference location: downtown Vancouver campuses of BCIT, SFU and SFU Woodwards. www.gaininggroundsummit.com, firstname.lastname@example.org This year’s Gaining Ground Conference, Eco-Logical, will emphasize practice, execution and innovation in policy, urban-system and community design, green economy, education…and the full READ MORE
Canadian Trade Lawyer Steve Shrybman presented a number of worrying scenarios at a dialogue session hosted by the Centre for Civic Governance last Friday at the FCM. He pointed out that the “The European Union has made a pointed request that drinking water services be included in the trade agreement, opening the door for big READ MORE
The BC Local Elections Task Force delivered its recommendations on improving local government elections yesterday. In their recommendations they highlighted the need for expense limits on local election campaign participants and the need for sponsorship information on all election advertising. Despite pressure from business groups the task force also recommended that corporations not be given a READ MORE
The Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, with support from Vancouver Coastal Health, runs a program that teaches new immigrants how to cycle in Vancouver. A similar program, called “Culture Link”, is being launched in Toronto this June. The programs both aim to reduce stress among newcomers and engage them in new social situations. Read the full READ MORE
A recent study from the Neptis Foundation, titled “Growing Cities,” examines the very different trends in city planning and growth in Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary. Vancouver is touted as the densest city with the least urban sprawl, thanks in part to proactive city planning in the 1960s and 70s. Calgary has the highest degree of urban READ MORE
The Canadian Opera Company in Toronto is doing their part to stop the decline of bee populations in North America by installing two honey bee hives on the roof of their building. Recent studies have shown that urban bees often fare better than their rural counterparts due to lower pesticide exposure. Read about the project READ MORE
In an effort to increase turnout at the polls, Alberta Liberals are proposing a $50 tax credit for those who vote in the provincial election. The proposal is part of a 12-point strategy to increase accountability and effectiveness in government. Read the full story in the Globe and Mail .