Yearly Archives: 2012


More Leaked Documents Rip Lid off CETA Giveaways

By Robert Duffy and Charley Beresford. Read this article on the Tyee.ca .   We’ve been following the CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) negotiations between Canada and the European Union since 2010, starting with a legal analysis of early  leaked documents , commissioned by the Centre for Civic Governance at Columbia Institute. That analysis, by trade lawyer Steven Shrybman, identified problems for municipalities who want READ MORE


What’s the Big Deal About CETA?

By Robert Duffy Read this article on The Tyee at:  https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/05/03/Secrets-of-CETA/   The proposed Canada-Europe Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is generating serious questions and concerns from local governments across Canada. CETA, a sweeping trade and investment deal, is currently in its tenth round of negotiations, and the Canadian government believes it could be READ MORE


Strengthening Local Democracy

Submission to the BC Local Government Elections Task Force by the Centre for Civic Governance at Columbia Institute April 15, 2010 Click here to download a PDF version of the report including sources .   Introduction The Centre for Civic Governance appreciates this opportunity to present our perspectives and research on electoral and campaign finance reform to the BC Local Government Elections Taskforce.   About the Centre READ MORE


Three ways the Canada-Europe trade talks could affect you

A CBC news article today highlights the reasons why businesses and local leaders in Hamilton, Ontario are getting increasingly concerned about potential local impacts of the Canada-Europe CETA trade talks. And the potential impacts in Hamilton are the same for municipalities across the country. ‘Unlike previous agreements like NAFTA, the CETA agreement appears to be READ MORE


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


There’s news on the CETA front, and it’s not so good.

There’s news on the CETA front, and it’s not so good. We’ve been following the CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) negotiations between Canada and the European Union since 2010, starting with a legal analysis of early leaked documents, commissioned by our Centre for Civic Governance at Columbia Institute. That analysis, by trade lawyer Steven 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


Request for Workshop Proposals – BC Civic Governance Forum

Civic Governance ForumRequest for Workshop Proposals The Centre for Civic Governance’s dynamic BC Governance forum is happening March 23 & 24, 2013. We are requesting workshop proposals that are relevant to locally elected leaders, particularly workshops about climate action, social inclusion, social justice, citizen engagement, and the cultural economy.  Proposals should include: An overview of READ MORE


Twenty year plan needed to fix crumbling infrastructure, says FCM

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is calling on the Government of Canada to develop a twenty year plan with predictable funding to fix its crumbling infrastructure. In it’s recommendations to the Governmentof Canada’s Long-TermInfrastructure Plan Consultation , the FCM is calling for measures that include long-term and predictable infrastructure funding; investment to leverage additional funds; renewal and improvements to the Gas Tax and the Building Canada READ MORE


Kingston considers living wage motion

Kington Ontario’s City Council will be voting this week on a motion calling for the city to begin work on a Living Wage policy for city employees and contractors. The motion from Councillors Bill Glover and Rob Hutchison follows up on recommendations from a CCPA Ontario report from 2011 . Living Wage policies are already in place with a number of local governments across READ MORE


Deepening Democracy: Progressive Governance Forum

What do climate action, local economies, citizen engagement, mindfulness, equality, community, rule of law, and freedom of speech all have in common? Democracy! And our schools and communities are where it all begins. Our future depends on nurturing a healthy and vibrant democracy, and leaders who exercise their ‘democratic jurisdiction’. Join us in deepening democracy. Join 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


How a Dyslexic Student Could Change Canada’s Schools

In this Tyee article , Past North Vancouver School Board Trustee Crawford Kilian writes about potential implications of the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling that the North Vancouver School Board must reimburse the family of Jeffery Moore, who put their son into private school in order to get adequate support for his learning disability.  As the READ MORE


Municipal E-voting Used in Halifax Municipal Election

E-Voting was used in the 2012 Halifax Municipal Election Electors received municipal notices in the mail before the start of advance voting. Security codes and other information were in those letters, which included the site of community voting stations for those who plan to cast ballots in two weeks. The civic and school board elections 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


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


Good Jobs for a Green Future

The conference will bring together 200-300 British Columbians from across the Labour and Environmental movements, as well business, First Nations, community, government, and other sectors interested in building a strong green economy. Through a combination of panel discussions, educational seminars, and plenary speakers, participants will deepen their understanding of the issues, and be part of 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