Ontario’s Local Food Champions report recognizes Markham Ontario as being the first municipality in Ontario to develop a local food policy. Highlights of the policy include:• Cutting edge food service model bringing more Ontario food into a municipally run cafeteria• In 2008 Markham committed to procuring no less than 10 per cent Local Food Plus READ MORE
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
A two-part series in Megaphone Magazine explores the rise of homelessness in the suburbs and what municipalities are doing to address the issue. Read the article here .
A recent poll conducted by Focus Canada shows that Canadians are more supportive of gay marriage and abortion than ever before and are less supportive of capital punishment. "Focus Canada’s survey finds Canadians’ top spending priorities to be education, health care, elderly programs, the environment and reducing child poverty." Read Jeffrey Simpson’s editorial in the READ MORE
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
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 .
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
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 .
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 .
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 .
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
A parkade rooftop in the Downtown Eastside is about to become the city’s first urban rooftop farm. Food grown at the farm will be sold to local residents and distributed to local inner-city agencies and kitchens. The managers of the project expect to hire 25 part-time workers from the community. Read the full story in READ MORE
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has proposed a national food policy that aims at encouraging Canadians to eat better, while boosting the agricultural sector. The policy would include funding to help low-income children eat healthy foods and improvements to food inspection standards for imported foods. Read the full story in The Globe and Mail .
The City of Richmond has finalized a 3-year agreement with the Richmond Food Security Society, providing the group with a $15,000 grant to maintain the city’s four commuity gardens. The region has recently seen a surge in the popularity of community gardening, city farms, and food security. Read the full story in The Vancouver Sun .
Vancouver City Council adds its name to the list of over 300 North American cities that have amended their by-laws to allow for backyard chickens. The enthusiasm for backyard chickens stem from issues of sustainability, food security, and consumption of locally grown food. Read the full story in CTV News .
As urban populations grow at a rapid rate, communities around the world are turning to city agriculture to produce cheap, locally grown produce. City farms provide nutritional benefits and bring communities together. China, Japan and Cuba have successfully run city farms for decades, and the idea is growing popular in the U.K., Africa and North READ MORE
The City of North Vancouver’s "100 Year Sustainability Vision" highlights what is likely one of the first attempts to use greenhouse gas reduction targets as part of the long-term design of a city. The project looks at North Vancouver’s expected growth, and aims to increase residential and job density while maintaining aesthetic appeal. Read the READ MORE
The District of Tofino is developing bylaws that would severely restrict franchised fast-food chains from opening up shop in the town. Restrictions will be made on everything from decor to carbon footprint to the use of non-local ingredients. These bylaws are intended to preserve Tofino’s unique character. Read the full story in The Vancouver Sun .
Ontario’s government raised minimum wage by 75 cents, to $10.25 an hour. This is now the highest minimum in Canada, and far surpasses BC’s $8 minimum. Average wages have grown 4% in the last 3 years, which is the best wage performance for Canadian workers since the 1970s. Read the full story in The Globe and Mail .
The Islands Trust Council, a federation of local governments representing BC’s islands, has launched a project aimed at increased food security. The council aims to support food security by creating policies that relate to land-use planning, development, environmental conservation, and socio-economic sustainability. Read the full story at CivicInfo BC .
In a 7-2 vote, Richmond council approved setting aside $59.2 million for the purchase of the Garden City lands. Although Mayor Malcolm Brodie didn’t like the terms of the deal, he said a deal’s been brokered with the Musqueam Indian Band and the Canada Lands Company, and it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to vote READ MORE
The rate of ocean acidification is up to 10 times faster now than it was 55 million years ago, when dinosaurs inhabited the Earth. The oceans are predicted to become so acidic that they will soon become uninhabitable for many types of organisms, especially deep seafloor varieties that are vital in the marine food chain. READ MORE
Eco-conversion is a socio-political idea that eluded the climate negotiations in Copenhagen, but has potential in Haiti. Eco-conversion requires a global solidarity for a creative future, and the aid provided by the U.S., Spain, and France is one example of this. Eco-conversion can heal Haiti, and extend globally to help the climate change crisisRead the READ MORE
Village Vancouver is a non-profit society that aims to inspire individuals and organizations to lead sustainable communities. They are actively helping communities in Vancouver become lower their carbon emissions and become more resilient. They use organizing tools such as blogs, conferences and informal gatherings to help facilitate the sharing of their visions. Learn more at READ MORE
“How Canada Performs: A Report Card on Canada compares quality of life in Canada with peer countries, and publishes comparisons in a report card that measures the following categories: Economy, Innovation, Environment, Education and Skills, Health, and Society. In the most recent report, Canada received one “B”, 2 “C”s and 9 “D”s. Countries with the READ MORE
The BC Liberals decision to cut arts funding is devastating to cultural sector, and longstanding organizations are at risk of folding because of 90% cuts to their provincial funding. Political figures, such as Heritage Minister James Moore, argue that arts funding is an essential component of an economic stimulus program during the recession, and that READ MORE
The latest idea in urban agriculture is vertical farming, where high-rise buildings are used to grow crops without natural ecological processes. This idea is met with harsh criticism however, and professionals maintain that best approach to urban agriculture is to use natural ecosystem processes on a local scale. Find tips for urban farming and the READ MORE
A recently published study in the Harm Reduction Journal finds that injection drug users rank security issues, such as housing and physical safety, above concerns about catching diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Activists suggest that housing is a key issue in preventing AIDS infection, and emphasize the need for secure, barrier-free housing for street-involved populations. Read READ MORE
The U.K. has committed to a massive increase in domestic food production to feed growing populations, and intends to play a full part in meeting the U.N. target of raising food production by 70% by 2050. This new commitment to self-sufficiency raises questions from environmental groups, who fear that unsustainable rates of agricultural intensification will READ MORE
Victoria is taking the Transition Initiative by working to address peak oil and climate change issues, in an effort to enhance community sustainability and resiliency. To date the Victoria Region Transition Initiative (VRTI) has participated in public forums, given presentations, provided film screenings, and completed a Strategic Plan. Get more information on the VRTI here READ MORE
Your health is not defined soley by your physical attributes – it also includes aspects of your social life and environment. Watch the video “ Population Health: The New Agenda ” to learn more about the social determinants of health.
The Guelph Transition City Initiative is a group of concerned and active Guelph residents who have come together with the shared vision of turning our city into one of Canada’s first official “ Transition Towns ”. They envision buidling community resilience and sustainability in response to the challenges of peak oil, accelerating climate change and economic instability. READ MORE
The Future of the Region Sustainability Dialogues is the latest outreach component of the Sustainable Region Initiative. It is intended to stimulate discussion and debate among decision makers, and foster new and diverse thought on regional issues such as housing, industry, labor and immigration, drugs and crime, regional economy, energy, and agriculture. Find more information READ MORE
A study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) concludes that Canadians enjoy a high quality of life because of public services funded by tax money. In most cases Canadians are better off with the public services the taxes fund than they are with tax cuts. Read the full article at CCPA . Use the READ MORE
The National Film Board of Canada has just launched an online screening room. New films are added weekly. For now, check out the excellent documentaries “Carts of Darkness,” and “Lonely Boy,” and the classic, much loved animated shorts, “The Cat Came Back and “The Big Snit.”
Vancouver’s new mayor has pledged to end homelessness by 2015, a considerable challenge that will require solutions that go beyond asking the federal governmnet and the province for more money to address the issue. Megaphone Magazine , Vancouver’s street paper has republished an article from the Tyee listing 50 ways to help the homeless.
New Westminster city councillors are asking staff to move ahead with the implementation of density bonuses. The city is offering bonuses to developers in exchange for amenity contributions. Amenities include affordable housing, child care, civic lands and buildings, parks and open spaces, public art and specific types of transportation infrastructure were appropriate. The City has READ MORE
The Canadian Labour Congress believes now is the time to invest at least $10 billion in infrastructure projects from public transit to affordable housing. In an open letter 80 prominenet Canadian economists called for similar measures. Read more in the Tyee.
Author and developer Howard Rotberg’s new book Exploring Vancouverism: The Political Culture of Canada’s Lotus Land (Mantua Books) offers 11 key steps in creating affordable housing. Many of these strategies have been employed to great success in other provinces, most notable Ontario. Some of the key steps include: levying a business tax on unoccupied condo READ MORE
With one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country, Victoria BC is considering a ban on the demolition of rental units with more than 3 units, unless they are deemed unsafe for human habitation. The proposed "housing emergency by-law" would require developers build subsidised or affordable suites when redeveloping a site. The legislation follows READ MORE
In Febraury 2005, Ontario’s provincial government designated 1.8 million acres protected greenspace. Called the Greenbelt, this area encompasses some of the richest farmeland and natural habitat in Canada. This week, a new development will help secure a legacy of sustainable farming for the area. The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation awarded local farmers a $400,000 grant to diversify READ MORE
In July 2008 the BC government privately signed a new order that will deny access to services (such as housing) to developmentally disabled people with an IQ above 70. In 2007 a BC Court of Appeal ruled that the government did not have the authority to deny services based on IQ and this July 2008 READ MORE
The New Economics Foundation has released its latest Happy Planet Index , which shows the relative efficiency with which nations convert their natural resources into long and happy lives for their citizens. The more efficiently they do this, the better the score. The top 6 scorers on the Index (in order) are: Vanuatu, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Panama, READ MORE
Report on the Consultation on Human Rights and Rental Housing in Ontario was released by the Ontario Human Rights Commission in mid-June 2008. The report finds that all levels of government, as well as public and private sector landlors, discriminate against immigrants, refugees, single parents, the disabled, aboriginals, and the mentally ill. Such discriminating acts READ MORE
The BC Provincial Health Services Authority has just released this new guide , designed to help local governments create more food secure communities. According to the guide, improving food security involves integrating health, economic, ecological, and social factors. The guide includes such topics as community gardens, farmers’ markets, making food access easy through neighbourhood planning, supporting local food READ MORE
A lengthy article in the Ottawa Citizen which discusses how the downtown cores of Canada’s major cities are becoming attractive places to live. The article discusses how affordability in downtowns everywhere is decreasing as gentrification becomes the norm as well as what is driving the desire for people to live downtown.
This new tool-kit from Smart Growth BC looks at eight tools and strategies local governments can use to deliver market and non-market affordable housing in their communities. It also features examples of best practices across BC.