Category Archives : Tools and Bylaws

Municipal government and school districts planning together

“The District of Mackenzie is hoping to get some feedback from School District 57 on its official community plan. As Mackenzie goes through a recovery of the area, the plan is being formed to deal with the resurgence expected to happen. Chief Administrative Officer Mark Fercho says there have been some changes to the area 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

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

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

2012 Living Wage for Metro Vancouver calculated at $19.14/hour

The 2012 living wage calculation for Metro Vancouver has risen to $19.14/hour. This represents a 33% increase over the 2011 living wage of $18.81/hour. The increase was driven by a number of factors that changes over the course of a year, including: shelter costs rose by $76/month, childcare fees rose by $33/month and MSP premiums 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

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

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

Hamilton becomes first Ontario municipality to create a climate charter

Hamilton Ontario has created a voluntary climate action charter that can be used by local individuals, businesses and organization to foster communication and commitment on addressing climate change. Signees are expected to keep informed on climate change issues, set targets, show leadership, report annually on climate change measures, and to educate fellow Hamilton residents. A READ MORE

Purple Letter Campaign lobbies for a province-wide policy to make schools safe and inclusive for everyone

A campaign to create a sexual orientation and gender identity policy for all BC schools is underway. The campaign is asking individuals to submit personal letters explaining why they think such a policy is needed. Those in the LGBT community are encouraged to write as are their friends and allies. Letters can be sent to: READ MORE

BC school program provides students with locally grown food

BC’s Farm to School program is having a transformative effect on student participants. The program provides students with locally grown food served at the school cafeteria, and some classroom time dedicated to learning about local food and nutrition. At participant schools students are enthusiastically lining up at the salad bar and are showing a genuine READ MORE

ICLEI Canada offers assistance to municipalities developing climate change adaptation plans

ICLEI Canada Adaptation Initiative is offering a unique program to municipalities addressing climate change and adaptation. ” Participants have access to exclusive webshops, each focusing on specific areas of a milestone; in-person workshops; networking opportunities with other participants and experts in the field of adaptation; and ongoing technical support from ICLEI Canada Staff.” The Initiative READ MORE

Community Energy Association announces release of “Funding Your Community Energy and Climate Change Initiatives”- a guide for local governments

The Community Energy Association’s latest funding guide for climate change initiatives provides a comprehensive list of programs and grants that offer financial incentives for climate change initiatives. The guide also provides tools and resources for accessing up-to-date information on energy planning. Download the 2011 release of Funding Your Community Energy and Climate Change Initiatives here READ MORE

Edmonton embarks on ambitious green plan

A comprehensive sustainable growth plan for Edmonton was approved by city council on July 20th. “The Way We Green describes a future Edmonton that is carbon-neutral, generates zero waste, is significantly less dependent on fossil fuels, has clean air and water, is able to withstand and bounce back intact from a range of possible environmental READ MORE

Green City Index Report

A new report takes an independent look at 27 North American Cities and rates their environmental performance. The US and Canada Green City Index reports on 9 key areas in urban sustainability; CO₂, energy, land use, buildings, water, waste air and environmental governance. Each city is provided with an environmental profile that examines in detail areas where the city excels or READ MORE

Toronto’s new neighbourhood ranking website

 A new website that builds upon open data allows users to rate Toronto neighbourhoods. Information provided on the Wellbeing Toronto website is exhaustive, ranging from the number of car crashes in an area, to income and education levels. While some view the ranking system as potentially damaging to communities, many others are happy to have such data readily READ MORE

New resource guide essential reading for local officials considering P3 projects

“P3s are complicated and politically contentious. They shift the role governments play in the delivery of public services and infrastructure,” says Charley Beresford, Columbia Institute’s Executive Director. “On balance, our research shows that P3’s do not support the public interest.” columbiap3_eng_v8-webpdf.pdf


Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union Canada has been negotiating a new trade agreement with the European Union, an agreement that could hurt local governments. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) could take away your municipalities’ right to have buy local & buy Canadian policies, increase your administrative READ MORE

Wild Weather Hammers Home Case for Green Jobs

Columbia Institute Executive Director, Charley Beresford, argues last month’s intensive floods, tornadoes and hurricanes should serve as reminder that we can’t wait any longer to start actively reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and energy use. A report released by the Columbia Institute, This Green House: Building Fast Action on Climate Change examines the role Canadian READ MORE

Energy Efficiency Home Retrofits Slow Climate Change and Save Canadians Thousands on Energy Bills: Report

Municipal financing makes changes easy and affordable for homeowners A new study – This Green House – Building Fast Action on Climate Change and Green Jobs by the Columbia Institute – reveals that modest investments in energy conservation in homes can save homeowners thousands of dollars, and dramatically and rapidly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG)emissions in READ MORE

Students support a policy to create safety and respect for LGBTQs

The Burnaby school district has drafted a policy, No. 5.45, to support students and employees who are (or are assumed to be) lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit or queer (LGBTQ). While the policy is being met with protest from some parents and church groups, students are overwhelmingly in favour of the policy. Read more READ MORE

City of Surrey uses multiple approaches to combat crime

During the past four years the city of Surrey has greatly reduced criminal activity by employing a variety of strategies: increasing police presence at hotspots for crime, creating more affordable housing, neighbourhood beautification and increasing community and school programs for youth. Surrey’s innovative crime reduction program is the result of “community partnerships, innovative programs and READ MORE

U.S. programs show how home energy retrofits can boost the economy

In the US, government investment in energy efficiency and retrofitting programs has helped stimulate economic activity, create jobs in the green building sector, and reduce carbon emissions. Portland has been particularly successful with such programs, and non-profits, government agencies, and energy providers have partnered together to provide retrofit financing to homeowners. The Pembina Institute looks READ MORE

Why feminism still matters

Sixty-five years after the United Nations officially recognized March 8 as International Women’s Day, gender equality still remains a work in progress. Women are disproportionately represented as victims of violence, and comprise the majority of the world’s poor. Gender discrimination is also apparent in workplaces across the globe, including Canada where the gender inequality gap READ MORE

Why human rights, safe schools, and Pink Shirt Day matter

On February 21 the Vancouver board of education unanimously passed a motion of support for Bill C-389, a federal bill that would add gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code. Gender identity and expression are common grounds for bullying and harassment among school-aged READ MORE

Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Resolution – CETA – September 2010

Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Resolution – CETA – September 2010 October 2010, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) pass a resolution calling on the provincial government to negotiate a clear, permanent exemption for local governments from CETA. WHEREAS the Canadian government has entered into negotiations with the European Union for a comprehensive READ MORE

Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Resolution – CETA – September 2010

September 2010, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) pass a resolution calling on the federal government to respect municipal autonomy in trade negotiations with the European Union. MUNICIPAL IMPACT OF CANADA AND EUROPEAN ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP TRADE AGREEMENT WHEREAS The Government of Canada has entered into negotiations with the European Union for an EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic READ MORE

Now Look Who’s Big on Buying Local

Campaigns aimed at supporting local economies are gaining popularity, especially in BC. Writer Darren Barefoot has made a commitment to buy only Canadian products and services for an entire year, and the BC chapter of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) announced its “ Ten Percent Shift Campaign ” to encourage British Columbians to shop locally. Read the READ MORE

Cowichan Valley, BC Issues Report Card on the Environment

The Cowichan Valley Regional District, BC, has issued a report card to measure the following areas of environmental concern: Overall Environmental Footprint, Population Growth, Biodiversity, Agriculture, Water, Climate Change, Air Quality and Waste Management. The report card is but one piece of a larger plan for building a “strong, resilient community.” Find report card here . READ MORE

Vancouver Endorses the Vienna Declaration

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

Toronto’s Mayor Tries to Crush Tower Retrofit Project

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

United Nations Report Documents the Economic Benefits of Nature Conservation

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

Victoria Plans to Stop the Dumping of Sewage into the Ocean

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

Green Builders Consider the Benefits of Green Roofs, White Roofs

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

Electricity bills in Ontario set to rise $300 a year by the end of 2011

Ontario will soon have the highest electicity prices in Canada, as residents will see a 25% increase in their electricity bills by the end of 2011, and more increases will come by 2012. These increased rates will stem from new wind, solar and biomass energy projects that are expected to provide cleaner air and a READ MORE