Yearly Archives: 2011

Wild Weather Hammers Home Case for Green Jobs

By Charley Beresford Read this story on The Tyee at:   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

School Board action on Carbon Offsets

The Trustees of British Columbia’s School District 5 (Southeast Kootenay) recently passed the following motion, and wrote an explanatory letter to the Honourable George Abbott, BC Minister of Education. The motion, and letter, communicate challenges they face within the current structure of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act, and suggests improvements that would help their district READ MORE

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

Providing free food to students improves scores, reduces tardiness and boosts overall well-being

Despite the overwhelming evidence that shows that providing free healthy food to students results in an immediate jump in test scores alongside improved behaviour and reduced tardiness ,there is still no stable source of funding for such programs. Schools rely on donations from communities and businesses resulting in inconsistent delivery of programs. An article by Stephen READ MORE

Students rally to save arts focused high school

Students of Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational School (PCVS) are protesting the Administrative Review Committee (ARC) of the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board’s (KPRDSB) recent decision to close the school. The school is in Peterborough’s downtown core and students argue that closing down the school would violate the Province’s “Places to Grow Act,” which requires READ MORE

As Arctic sea ice melts, scientists discover large plumes of methane bubbling to surface

A team of Russian scientists studying  eastern Arctic sea ice has discovered large plumes of methane bubbling to the surface. It is estimated that hundreds of millions of tones of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide are locked in the Arctic permafrost. As climate change warms the planet these gases READ MORE

Fracking – a likely source of groundwater contamination

After complaints about the water started to flood in from residents of Pavilion, Wyoming, the EPA decided to do some testing. Results showed “that ground water in the Pavilion aquifer contain[ed] methane, benzene, other petroleum hydrocarbons and other chemical compounds.” The toxic chemicals are suspected to be the result of nearby fracking. The long list READ MORE

Cowichan’s new school board chair signals a shift in politics

The election of long time trustee Eden Haythornthwaite to board chair, signals a dramatic shift in politics for the Cowichan school board. Haythonwaite is accustomed to being an oppositional trustee, often having her motions quashed. She has routinely voted against cuts to classrooms and her dedication to fighting for education has finally paid off. Haythonwaite READ MORE

City of Toronto proposing major cuts to school board funding

A recent announcement that all city boards including school boards will be facing budget cuts of ten percent came as a surprise to many Toronto school boards. Two of the city’s largest boards had just met with the Mayor’s office to discuss coordination of services and cost saving measures days before the cuts were announced READ MORE

NFB film shows how Toronto’s apartment towers can be revitalized

Enlisting architects, animators and more importantly residents, an NFB film titled One Millionth Tower , provides ideas for revitalizing Toronto’s aging highrises. Some of the ideas include eliminating first floor apartments to make room for cafes and businesses, creating a marketspace, and networks and paths linking to the towers to parks and community gardens. Residents featured in the documentary READ MORE

Education twice as cost effective in reducing crime as incarceration – Report

A new UBC study titled “Education and Crime over the Life Cycle,” examines the impact of education levels on reducing property crimes. Co-author Giovanni Gallipoli explains,  “Our findings suggest that keeping kids in school, making them employable and improving their value in the labour market is nearly twice as cost-effective at reducing crime as simple READ MORE

Ontario Schools may start collecting data on language and ethnicity

Ontario’s auditor general is suggesting that school administrators start collecting data on students’ ethnicity, language and socio-economic status. The suggestion comes as several US states have found success in targeting programs to specific ethnic groups to raise graduation rates. The information would not be made public, but it could help administrators to fund and design READ MORE

The Future is Local: Progressive Governance Forum at Harrison Hot Springs

Join us at our Centre for Civic Governance  Forum for Progressive Governance in Harrison Hot Springs Friday March 30-Saturday March 31st. 2012.   Joel Bakan at The Future is Local from Centre for Civic Governance on Vimeo .     Equality and Public Education from Centre for Civic Governance on Vimeo . Local Is Global with Craig Keating and Alisdair Smith from Centre for Civic Governance on Vimeo .   Funding Formulas: When More is Less and Less -Joan Axford from Centre for Civic Governance on Vimeo . Featuring: Joel Bakan is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of British READ MORE

What will it cost if the world warms 3.5 degrees?

Current emissions reductions targets are likely to create a warming of 3.5°C by 2020, far below the original pledge of 2°C lower. The Climate Action Tracker has done an analysis that shows what the financial and environmental risks are. The tracker is continually updating according to the latest information available. What the current analysis shows READ MORE

Canadian cities considering Safety barriers on trucks

Several Canadian municipalities are looking at outfitting their trucking fleets with safety barriers. Cycling and pedestrian deaths from heavy trucks has gone down in Europe since guards have been implemented. The barriers cost approximately $1500 and Toronto councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker believes rails should be required despite the costs; “all of us accept today that READ MORE

Edmonton passes sexual orientation and gender identity policy

Edmonton is the first Alberta school board to develop a policy to make schools welcoming and safe for “students, staff and families who identify or are perceived as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, queer or questioning their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” Read more in the Edmonton Journal.

School Boards raising concern about lack of fairness with BC’s carbon offset program

All BC public institutions are legislated to be carbon neutral. To achieve this they have no choice but to purchase carbon offsets. Those offsets must be purchased from the Pacific Carbon Trust , a crown corporation that charges much more than any other offset company. Pacific Carbon Trust purchases offsets from industry and then sells them to public READ MORE

The hottest 13 years on record have all taken place within the past 15 years

The hottest 13 years on record have taken place within the past 15 years. Within that time period the amount and severity of extreme weather events has increased dramatically. But, despite the phenomenal cost to human life and the economy that climate change is causing, world leaders are backing down on their commitments. The US, READ MORE

Ontario will introduce law to expel bullies from school permanently

Under new provincial legislation, school administrators will be able to permanently expel bullies. The province already has a Safe Schools Act and this new legislation will provide an opportunity to take meaningful action. Premier Mc Guinty is encouraging students, teachers and administrators to “to take action to prevent bullying, intervene when appropriate and apply appropriate READ MORE

School District 5 – Carbon Offsets Open Letter

The Trustees of British Columbia’s School District 5 (Southeast Kootenay) recently passed the following motion, and wrote an explainatory letter to the Honourable George Abbott, BC Minister of Education. The motion, and letter, communicate challenges they face within the current structure of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act, and suggests improvements that would help their READ MORE

Municipalities and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) 101

The Centre for Civic Governance has been tracking developments in the Canadian European Comprehensive Trade Agreement and in particular potential impacts on municipalities. Our latest Trade and Policy Update provides information on the likelihood of increased legal and administrative costs, the threats to local decision-making and the potential for the privatization of municipal water services. READ MORE

Climate change deniers fear a green agenda will end capitalism

Intrepid reporter Naomi Klein, who is stationed at the Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change – a conference for climate change deniers, has discovered the objection to acting on climate change has little to do with scientific research showing that climate change is not happening, or is happening, but not in any significant READ MORE

Greater regulatory power allows BC municipalities to move ahead on sustainability

In 2009 the Province handed BC municipalities more regulatory power. Local governments have taken advantage of new bylaws and regulatory powers to promote sustainability. From curbside composting, to encouraging energy efficiency to promoting cycling through bike lines, local governments are accomplishing many great things despite the limited revenue at their disposal. Read more in the READ MORE

Climate Scientists find extreme variation in day-to-day weather patterns

Ecosystem and climate stability are being threatened by erratic day-to-day weather, according to Princeton University researchers. Climate Change models typically consider the average weather per month, and do not show the variability that takes place. The Princeton researchers developed a new computer that could analyze data on a daily basis capturing the sometimes extreme variability. READ MORE

Newly elected leaders must demand consultation on CETA

A recent opinion piece highlights many of the serious and likely consequences from signing the Canadian European Trade Agreement (CETA). Unlike previous trade agreements CETA eliminates the right of a municipality to procure goods and services locally. It also opens up our water treatment industries to multinational corporations. Despite the potential for “serious, unanticipated consequences READ MORE

Successful Practices in First Nations Education: Based on the Tyee Solutions Society Series by Katie Hyslop

First Nations educators are offering inspiration and hope to a new generation of learners. Join us for an afternoon of presentations and discussion about K-12 programs that go beyond usual practice. Educators from Chief Atahm School on the Adams Lake Reserve, and the school districts of Haida Gwaii and Vancouver BC share successful stories from READ MORE

Our energy infrastructure must change dramatically within 5 years to halt catastrophic climate change

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is warning that time is running out for halting the dangerous effects of climate change. The agency is warning that current fuel-based energy initiatives that are continuing to be built will create a lock-in effect within 5 years that will cause irrevocable damage to the earth. The warning comes as READ MORE

Toronto’s Library Committee has voted no to closing branches

Rob Ford is pressuring the Toronto Library board to cut 10% of its budget, totaling approximately 7 million dollars. The board has been pouring over recommendations for cuts including eliminating computers from all libraries, charging for library cards and closing 38 of Toronto’s libraries. For now the board has voted against closures. They have yet READ MORE

“Better primary schooling leads to a more robust democracy”

Fabrice Murtin, an OECD economist in Paris, and Romain Wacziarg, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, compared 74 countries’ democracy scores from 1870 to 2000 with their educational attainment. The study found that primary education had a far greater Impact on participating in democracies than did income. The authors suggest that primary READ MORE

Several schools opt out of WiFi to protect children’s health

Last spring, the Saanich School Board banned WiFi in all public elementary schools, now a private elementary school south of Prince George is following suite. The move to ban WiFi comes as reported cases of nausea, faintness, headaches and cardiac arrests among children, are on the rise. To find out more about WiFi and children’s READ MORE

Climate Change Vulnerability Index shows cities and countries most at risk

A map generated by the risk-assessment risk analysis and mapping company Maplecroft, looks at 193 countries and highlights those that will be worst off due to climate change. The index takes into account the following factors: population concentration, development, natural resources, agricultural dependency and conflict.  Principal environmental analyst at Maplecroft, Charlie Beldon says the impacts READ MORE

New Brunswick on track to meet climate change goals

The province of New Brunswick set a target to have greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by 2012. The province is on track to meet its climate change reduction goals, a remarkable accomplishment given the economic growth in the province. The province worked with citizens and encouraged partnerships to achieve this goal. Some highlights of READ MORE