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
After being on an energy diet for close to half a year, the residents of Rossland have reduced their annual energy use substantially—more than 2,220 gigajoules (GJ) of natural gas and 1,478,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, all through making energy efficient renovations to existing homes and small businesses. This was accomplished through the first ever READ MORE
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
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 .
India has put in place a $5.4-billion policy to provide free generic medicine to its people. The decision could change the lives of hundreds of millions in a country where public spending on health was just $4.50 per person last year. Under the plan, doctors will be limited to a generics-only drug list and face punishment READ MORE
Climate scientists suggest that if you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, take a look at U.S. weather in recent weeks – wildfires, heat waves, droughts, flooding and a powerful freak wind storm called a derecho. These are the kinds of extremes experts have predicted will come with climate change, READ MORE
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
Agenda Friday, October 12, 2012 1:00 pm Registration 2:00 pm Welcome Plenary 2:15 pm Workshops 3:30 pm Break 3:45 pm Workshops 5:00 pm Friday workshops end 6:00 pm Columbia Institute Reception 7:00 pm Dinner with Joel Bakan Saturday, October 13, 2012 7:30 am Breakfast 8:30 am Plenary 9:15 am Workshops 10:30 READ MORE
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
North Vancouver is joining in the growing campaign against the sale of shark fin. Councillor Craig Keating introduced a motion asking for the preparation of a bylaw that would ban the possession, sale and distribution within the municipality. The motion also calls for the city to lobby the provincial and federal governments to ban shark fin outright. READ MORE
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
At a meeting on June 25th, the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools’ board cut full-day, every day kindergarten for the 2012-13 school year in order to balance their budgets. This follows the same move made last week in the city’s public schools. Several trustees voiced concerns about the cut and blamed the provincial government for failing to READ MORE
The Ontario Ministry of Education has assembled the Accepting Schools Expert Panel to bring together experts to identify and advise on the development of resources and practices that promote a positive school climate, equity and inclusive education, as well as bullying prevention and early intervention. Read more at the Caledon Enterprise .
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
After over a decade of pushing the Progressive Conservative government, advocacy groups finally see the Alberta government scrap the part of its medical services billing codes that classified gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered patients as suffering from mental disorders. Read more at Yahoo News.
Negotiators for more than 100 countries, including Canada, have signed a draft blueprint for sustainable development, but critics say Canada was instrumental in making the plan unduly weak. Officials at the Rio+20 conference in Brazil compromised and delivered a 283-point “vision” for leaders and politicians to ratify later this week. But critics say the draft READ MORE
After producing a comprehensive study of where Canada is at reducing greenhouse gas emissions requested by Environment Minister Peter Kent, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) goes out of business next March after losing funding in the 2012 budget. The report produced by NRTEE shows that Canada is nowhere near on target READ MORE
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
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
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
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
Ontario is proceeding with it’s Provincial budget discussions on an eerily similar path to budget discussions in Ottawa this week. Included in Ontario’s budget bill is a section called Schedule 28. Citizen groups, including the Ontario Health Coalition, the Council of Canadians and the Social Planning Network of Ontario are raising alarm bells. The groups READ MORE
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
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.
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
Jim Stanford, well-known CAW economist and media commentator was the key note speaker at the Centre for Civic Governance’s Sharing of Good Ideas forum held in Hamilton recently. He spoke on The Living Wage. His presentation was followed by a panel that included Sam Magavern, a volunteer attorney for the City of Buffalo Living Wage READ MORE
Truro Nova Scotia town council is creating an urban agricultural bylaw to support local and sustainable food production and small agricultural uses on residents’ properties including allowing residents to keep animals. Read more at Farm Focus of Atlantic Canada .
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 .
The need to fundraise stemming from inadequate funding is making it necessary for Ontario schools to bulk up on private dollars, sometimes even for the basics. With the top 10 per cent of fundraising schools bringing in the same amount of money as the bottom 75 per cent combined, reliance on fundraising dollars as a core READ MORE
In the spring budget, the province of Ontario identified school board amalgamations as a way to reduce administrative expenses. With the province targeting areas with low population growth and declining enrolment, it is moving fast to cut $10.5 million in education costs by merging school boards in 2013. Read more at Metro News .
Help your communities with meeting your Bill 27 targets with free energy efficiency assessments offered by LiveSmart BC. Just click on the map here to find the Business Energy Advisors that serve your area. They will help businesses with energy efficiency measures that have a short payback, as well as obtaining rebates from BC Hydro, FortisBC, READ MORE
The issue of whether to stay or flee in the face of rising sea levels is being confronted around the globe. The use of barriers is now giving way to ‘planned retreats’ from the relentless sea. Places experimenting with retreat have adopted various strategies including breaching seawalls to create salt marshes and moving entire villages READ MORE
The number of major forest fires in B.C. will likely increase by 50 per cent or more in the next 40 years according to a recent report on climate change released by the Insurance Bureau of Canada. The report, Telling the Weather Story, makes a point of altering weather patterns across the country and urges Canadians to READ MORE
Edmonton’s Mayor Stephen Mandel signed a memorandum of understanding on June 4, 2012 to put in place a new state-of-the-art closed-loop paper and cotton recycling process that makes professional grade paper without using any chemicals, producing any harmful emissions or any by-products. Read more at the Edmonton Sun .
Toronto joins San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles as cities that have banned single-use plastic bags. Toronto city council passed a motion to ban the distribution of plastic bags effective Jan. 1, 2013. Read more at the Huffington Post .
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has released a report to help understand the underlying health of Canadian cities and communities. Read more at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities .
With childhood obesity rates climbing at alarming rates, Onatrio explores multiple interventions aimed at different aspects of healthy living including healthier cafeteria selections and increases to daily physical activity for students. Read more at The Globe and Mail .
Facing a $110 million dollar shortfall this year, some Toronto District School Board trustees say the district can’t balance its books and roll out full-day kindergarten at the same time. Read more at the Toronto Sun .
Greenhouse gas emissions are a side-effect of economically valuable activities. Most of the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions are “external” to the market and do not fall on those conducting the activities leaving future generations or people living in developing countries to pay the cost. Read more at The Guardian .
All schools, including those in the Catholic system in Ontario, won’t be able to stop students from calling anti-homophobia clubs “ gay-straight alliances” if changes to a proposed anti-bullying law are passed. The amendment is being applauded as a step forward for human rights, giving students the right to name their own clubs. Read more at The Toronto Star READ MORE
On May 23, 2012, Los Angeles became the largest city in the United States to adopt a ban on plastic bags at super-market checkout lines. On a 13-1 vote in favour of the ban, this decision handed a major victory to clean-water advocates who sought to reduce the amount of trash clogging landfills, waterways and READ MORE
On June 20 -22, 2012, nations gather in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20 years after the first UN sanctioned gathering focussed on sustainable development. Check out our new briefing note “Rio +20 – Why it matters for local governments.” Publication Download: RIO+20.pdf
With incomes unable to keep up with soaring rental costs, Councillor Pat Atkinson calls for partnership among the federal, provincial and municipal governments to address the problem of low vacancy rates and high demand for rental properties in Saskatchewan. Read more at The Star Phoenix.
Eighty-six British Columbia Mayors are meeting in Penticton this week to discuss the increase in costs being downloaded to cities, and how they can respond. Canadian cities only receive 8% of the tax base, and as budgets get cut elsewhere, they are having to deal with more and more costs in their communities. Not only READ MORE
Canadian NGOs and labour unions have sent an amicus curiae submission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) that calls for respect of Canada’s international climate change obligations and seeks to address Canada’s failure to properly defend Ontario’s Green Energy Act. Read more at United Steelworkers .
B.C. engineers have now expressed concern that Trade Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) will result in poorer public infrastructure. Read more at The Tyee .
City counsellors call for a united voice in requesting the provincial government review the Residential Tenacy Act. Politicians from 33 municipalities agreed the act subjects tenants to a costly, time-consuming, and ineffective system that is difficult to navigate due to its bureaucratic and legal complexity. The resolution put forward by Judy Villeneuve, Counsellor from Surrey, calling for READ MORE
Agenda 9:00 am Registration 9:30 am Welcome 9:45 am Panel – Municipal role in Home Energy Retrofits – WE CAN DO IT! 11:00 am Break 11:15 am Panel – A Climate Change Action Charter for your municipality? 12:30 pm LUNCH 12:45 pm Key Note Speaker – Economist Jim Stanford 1:30 pm Panel – A Living READ MORE
Sam Magavern, a volunteer attorney for the City of Buffalo Living Wage Commission will be joining Hamilton Wentworth school board Trustee Alex Johnstone and Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction Director Tom Cooper on a panel on A Living Wage at the Centre for Civic Governance at Columbia Institute’s The Sharing of Good Ideas! forum on READ MORE
Sam Magavern: Sam Magavern co-directs the Partnership for the Public Good and teaches at the SUNY Buffalo Law School and the Cornell University ILR School. He has served as the compliance coordinator and as a volunteer attorney for the City of Buffalo Living Wage Commission. Tom Cooper: Tom Cooper is Director of the Hamilton Roundtable READ MORE