Friday, December 18, 2009

Community Activists Modify Construction Signs

Morning commuters were greeted with new messages along Gateway Program construction routes this morning. 


The construction announcement signs had been modified to read "Farms not Freeway", "Peatland not Pavement", "Homes not Highways" and "Transit not Truck Routes."


The action occurred on the last scheduled day of climate talks in Copenhagen.  Government reports estimate the Gateway program will increase greenhouse gas emissions by over 160,000 tonnes per year.  Independent modelling puts the figure at over 300,000 tonnes.

The signs modified included promises that transportation experts have consistently questioned.

Some sign promise that the project will be "Reducing Congestion." Yet, Gordon Campbell said in 2003 “You cannot build your way out of congestion”.


The signs also promise that the government is "Strengthening the Economy."  The Provincial and Federal governments have provided massive investments to the Port in Prince Rupert to develop its container handling abilities. Yet the Prince Rupert port is quiet and being used at less than half of its capacity, while the Provincial Government spends billions to expand DeltaPort and its infrastructure.





Community banners vs. government bulldozers

Tags: | | | | | | | |




Thursday, December 17, 2009

Climate Camp in Vancouver


Climate Camp in Vancouver
Concerned citizens have set up a camp at the Vancouver Art Gallery to urge action on climate change. Some of them are also fasting. The are vowing to continue the camp and fast until the end of the current climate change conference in Copenhagen.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Olympics bring dirty power to Vancouver

Large events like the Olympics often require temporary structures and temporary power for those structures.  This was certainly the case at the Torino Olympics where over 500 generators burnt around 8,000,000 litres of fuel.

BC Hydro and VANOC promised that the 2010 Olympics would be different - it would be using BC Hydro's clean power sources and reduce GHG emissions by 90%.  But, apparently they weren't able to completely give up on the generators. 

Aggreko, the official supplier of diesel pollution for the games, is bragging that they will be supplying 34 MW of generators and 31 MW of electric heat. Which based on my calculations is more than 10% of the amount used in Torino (so much for the 90% reduction).

One might expect that most of this generation was in the remote mountain venues.  But the diesel generator pictured here is just one of several found at the Athlete's Village in the heart of Vancouver.  And this is not a back-up generator.  It appears to be running 24/7.

And VANOC and the City of Vancouver were thoughtful enough to re-route a popular bike route to run right past this pollution source.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Award Winning UBC Prof Blocks Freeway Construction

Gateway Work Shut Down for Four Hours


On Monday December 7th UBC Professor Patrick Condon joined a group of climate activists who occupied a freeway construction site in Vancouver.  Work was stopped at the site for four hours. The protest coincided with the first day of climate change talks in Copenhagen, where Canada received yet another Fossil of the Day Award. The notorious award goes to the country doing the most to obstruct progress at UN climate negotiations.

This action was directed at the controversial Gateway Program, a massive freeway-expansion project that would increase greenhouse gases (GHGs) in a sector that is already the largest source of emissions in our region. The province's own assessment estimates the increase at over 160,000 tonnes per year. If the billions being spent on Gateway were re-directed to an emissions reduction program including cost-effective public transit, emissions could be reduced by millions of tonnes per year.

The Gateway Program is linked to a larger Pacific Gateway strategy that includes pipelines to the Alberta Tar Sands, Canada's largest point source of greenhouse gas emissions. Cars and trucks in BC already burn fuel made from tar sands bitumen, and the proportion of this dirty tar sands fuel in our gas tanks is increasing.

“As a citizen it enrages me to see Canada drag its feet on climate change through support of the world’s dirtiest fuel: tar sands,” said Patrick Condon. “As a resident it breaks my heart to see the Vancouver region abandon livability and sustainability through the construction of more freeways. And as a parent, I can’t look my kids and grandkids in the face if I don't do whatever I can to stop this madness.”

Approximately fifty people were involved in the protest.  At one point construction workers moved a piece of equipment on to the site.  Police physically removed protesters blocking the equipment but there were no arrests. One protester was thrown to the ground and another was hit in the throat by police.After parking the equipment workers left and did not resume work until after the protesters were gone from the site.

Patrick Condon is a senior researcher at the UBC Design Centre for Sustainability and has held the position of the James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments.   
____________________________________
For more info on this event and the Gateway Project see http://www.gatewaysucks.org
Follow all the breaking news via http://twitter.com/gatewaysucks









Friday, December 04, 2009

North Van Sit-In


North Van Sit-In
Originally uploaded by Rob__
Today citizens occupied a North Van MP's office asking for the government to set evidence based climate change targets. The aren't leaving until the MP meets their demands. Expecting the police to be called at 5 PM.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Climate Actions Galore


IMGP4573.JPG
Originally uploaded by Rob__
It has been a busy few days for climate action here in British Columbia.

Yesterday activists and academics staged a mock trial that found Prime Minister Harper and Environment Minister Jim Prentice guilty of criminal negligence.

Today residents of Vancouver Island peacefully occupied Minster Gary Lunn's office.

There were also actions out in the Fraser Valley today and there will be more in the next few weeks.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Lights Draining the Green out of the Olympics?

The City of Vancouver has announced a plan to light up English Bay with 20 robotic searchlights as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

If the 10,000 W lights are left on for 15 hours a day this will consume over 3,000 kWh of electricity per day.  That is enough to power 10 average homes (50 energy efficient ones). Over the course the 24 days that the lights will be used they will consume 72,000 kWh of electiricy and generate 9,000 kg of CO2 equivelent greenhouse gas emissions.

And one top of that there is the issue of light pollution.

Note: ghg emissions include imported power assuming a 10% coal, 5% natural gas and 85% hydro mix.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Olympic Transportation plan already failing?

Today the construction site at SE False Creek appears to be directing cyclists on the Ontario Bike route to use the sidewalk on 2nd avenue as a detour. Asking cyclists to use this narrow sidewalk is both dangerous and illegal. This is clearly in an inadequate cycling facility for a city that claims to be promoting cycling as part of it's “Greenest City” imitative,

According to maps published on October 14th the city was supposed have a marked detour in place using 3rd Ave and parts of Quebec street. It is now two weeks later and this route is still not marked.

According to the Host City Olympic transportation plan, page 4:
“Some bike routes will be temporarily altered during the 2010 Winter Games to accommodate operational and security needs. Wherever possible, bike route closures will be accommodated by safe and well-marked alternatives.”

The current route is neither “safe” nor “well-marked”.

When will city be addressing this problem?

Is the Olympic Transportation plan already failing?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A Budget to INCREASE global warming?



Despite rhetoric to the contrary it appears that yesterday's BC Liberal budget is designed to increase greenhouse gas emissions in this province.

The largest sources of greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions in our province are from transportation and the fossil fuel extraction industries. So, the government chose to specifically increase activities in these areas.

There were cuts in health care, education and other social services. But no cuts in the province's controversial highway expansion projects. Even though the province's own documents admit that these projects will increase ghg emissions.

And the province kept in place the massive subsidies to the fossil fuel extraction industries. Costing the tax payers millions while increasing pollution.

But the government was not content to rely on these measures alone to increase ghg emissions. It cutback and cancelled many programs designed to reduce emissions.

The PST exemption on bikes, renewable energy systems and energy efficiency products is gone with the new HST. It also cancelled the LiveSmart program which also helped fund renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

And funding for public transit is up in the air. The government has made promises about funding for transit. But Translink, the agency responsible for delivering the services has said it does not have enough money for the evergreen line, the third seabus or additional much needed bus capacity. Again there seems to plenty of money for highway expansion but not for transit even though transit investment creates three times as many jobs.

This government's actions are clearly criminal and need to be stopped.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Car Subsidies in Vancouver

A recent article (also here) is perpetuating one of the most persistent myths of modern society - that cyclists aren't paying their fare share for road use.

In fact private car ownership is one of the most subsidized aspects of our society.  In Metro Vancouver taxpayers subsidize car owners to the tune of $6.6 billion per year.  In places like Ontario it is even higher.

So cyclists who drive little or never are actually helping to subsidize the polluting habits of frequent car drivers.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Permaculture Design Course


At the beginning of July I attended a two week intensive permaculture design course on Denman Island presented by Pacific Permaculture . Learned a lot and am now looking forward to applying some of these permaculture design techniques in Vancouver.



Friday, May 01, 2009

Carbon Tax vs. Gateway



During the current BC election campaign there has been much discussion about the carbon tax. Some environmentalists have even endorsed the Liberal party based on the tax. But how does it stack up to other climate-related policies?

Based on numbers in the modeling done by the Carbon Tax Center, I estimated that the BC Carbon Tax would reduce greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions by 570,000 tonnes annually at the current rate and by 901,000 tonnes by  2012 when the rate is raised to $30/tonne.

I used a model developed by the Sightline Institute to estimate emissions from the Gateway Program. I calculated annual increases of 388,000 - 621,000 tonnes.  The Gateway program alone would wipe out one to two thirds of the gains made by the Carbon Tax.

During 2001 - 2006 the emissions from Oil and Gas production increased by 1,040,000 per year.  The Liberals have committed to supporting this industry so it can be expected that these increases will continue. 

These two policies (Gateway and Petroleum Industry support) would result in an increase that is more than 50% higher than any reduction from the Carbon Tax.

So why all the emphasis on the Carbon Tax when other policies will wipe out any gains made by the tax?

Notes on calculations:

Calculations used a baseline year of 2006 with total emissions of 62.3 Mt CO2 eq.

The Carbon Tax Center's model uses 0.25% reduction in emissions from gasoline consumption at a $10/tonne tax and a 1.09% reduction at $30 / tonne.  36% of the BC's emissions are from transportation. So I estimated a reduction of 244,000 tonnes for a $30 tax.  (62,300,000 x 36% x 1.09%).

The Carbon Tax Center's model uses 0.25% reduction in emissions from gasoline consumption at a $10/tonne tax and a 1.09% reduction at $30 / tonne.  36% of the BC's emissions are from transportation. So I estimated a reduction of 244,000 tonnes for a $30 tax.  (62,300,000 x 36% x 1.09%).


The Carbon Tax Center's model uses a 3.06% reduction in emissions from "other" sources at $30 / tonne.  I estimaed that another 45% of the BC's emissions would fall in this category.  (consistant with other estimates that the carbon tax would cover about 70% of BC emissions). I estimated a reduction of 657,000 tonnes for a $30 tax.  (62,300,000 x 45% x 3.06%).   This gives us a total annual reduction of 901,000 tonnes compared to baseline year when the tax reaches $30/ tonne.



Monday, April 27, 2009

Burns Bog Pilgrimage


Burns Bog Pilgrimage
Originally uploaded by Rob__
Over 100 people participated in a pilgrimage to Burns Bog on Sunday. The event organized by a multi-faith coalition had participants walk over the Alex Fraser bridge and then though the Delta Nature Conservancy.

The pilgrimage was designed to draw attention to the damage that the South Fraser Primeter Road (SFPR) will cause to the environmentally sensitive bog.

Burns Bog has been listed as threatened by the International Mire Conservation Group because of the impacts of the SFPR. In response to the mitigation measures proposed the Environmental Stewardship Branch of Environment Canada wrote that "...that the changes are not sufficient to alleviate its concerns related to the impacts of the Project on Pacific Water Shrew (PWS), hydrology, aerial deposition, and ecological integrity of Burns Bog."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

10,000 people (and two polar bears) Petition Premier


VANCOUVER - The Society Promoting Environmental Conservation and the Wilderness Committee delivered petitions with over 10,000 signers to the Premier's office today. The petitions ask that the government cancel the Gateway Program's highway expansion components and invest more in transit instead.

The gateway program is a transportation infrastructure project that includes over 260 km of new highway lanes.

Dozens of activists rallied outside the office in downtown Vancouver including two dressed as polar bears.  The premier's office initially declined to accept the invitations.  After the activists attempted to enter the nearby convention centre where the premier was speaking, staff working with the Premier agreed to accept the petitions.

“Translink is currently exhausting its capital reserves just to keep existing service going,” said Karen Wristen, Executive Director of SPEC. “At this rate, they will be broke in two years. We simply can’t afford both freeway expansion and transit development: we have to solve the transit crisis first.”

“It will be virtually impossible to reach BC’s commitments to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) if Gateway is allowed to proceed. Gateway is not just an irresponsible plan, it’s immoral,” said Ben West, the Wilderness Committee’s Healthy Communities Campaigner.

The government calculates that greenhouse gas emissions will increase by over 170,000 tonnes per year from the Gateway program.

Premeir Gordon Campbell has not yet responded directly to the petition. In recent interviews he has defended the Gateway Program.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Banners Hung over 20 Bridges


Saturday also saw citizens from West Vancouver to Chilliwack hoist banners on Highway 1 overpasses across the region in a coordinated Day of Action, with slogans such as "Stop the Gateway to Global Warming" and "Better Transit, Not Freeways". Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in BC, and the protestors said emissions are expected to rise substantially if the Gateway Project is built.

Activists South of the Fraser also marked the riding office of provincial Highways Minister Kevin Falcon a "Global Warming Crime Scene" Saturday morning, and piled sand used by Ministry contractors for highway construction in front of the door.

"Kevin Falcon is a Climate Criminal, bulldozing us with freeways, and roasting the planet with greenhouse gases," said Surrey resident Jim Shook as he attached large strips of yellow "Global Warming Crime Scene" tape across the door to Falcon's office. "In solidarity with the region-wide Day of Action on Highway 1, we declare this a 'Global Warming Crime Scene' and return this freeway construction material to let him know that he should cancel the Gateway project immediately."

The activists emptied buckets of highway construction sand in front of the office, taken from an area of recently bulldozed homes in Surrey's Bridgeview neighbourhood that is being dumped with sand to prepare for possible construction of the South Fraser Perimeter Road.

According to Bridgeview resident Sonia Nazar, "Kevin Falcon has raped our community for his billion dollar freeway scheme, but our transit system is still starved for cash. Would he do this to his own neighbourhood?"

"Thousands of people from throughout Metro Vancouver have signed petitions against Gateway," says Carmen Mills, spokesperson for GatewaySucks.org. "The people of the region are clearly opposed to this project, and we will make our voices heard. With this action, we're saying it loud and clear: No Falcon Freeways!"


Tags: | | | | | | | | |




Gateway Day of Action: Minister Falcon's Office Declared "Crime Scene"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Green" Power and Hypocrisy

In the last few days it seems that the debate about "green" power here in the BC has heated up. The subject has come up in blogs, newspaper editorials, email lists and even at a business reception last night.

It is frustrating for me that so much of the focus for climate change solutions in BC is on electrical power generation.

Please don't get me wrong - we shouldn't ignore electrical generation. I certainly don't. My professional life is spent working on renewable energy and energy conservation solutions.

But, here in BC electrical generation accounts for only a small fraction of our ghg emissions (2%). The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions is transportation (36-40%). Shouldn't our focus be on reducing emissions in the transportation and building sectors? We are not going to meet the targets required unless we start to focus on these areas.

Why aren't these sectors generating the same amount of discussion when in fact they are far more significant than electrical generation?

In the last few days I have seen the word "hypocrisy" applied to those on one side of the "green" energy debate. It may be justified but it can certainly be applied to both sides. There are some people who have jumped on the "green" energy bandwagon claiming that they are doing so because of their concern over climate change. Yet, they they don't seem to acknowledge the much larger contributors to climate change in our province. In fact, in some cases they have even argued that we should NOT oppose the construction of new highways.

Climate Change is such a significant threat that we need to focus on all sources of emissions and all potential solutions. We certainly shouldn't be ignoring the most significant sources.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Activists Join Climate Change Day by Blocking Highway Preparation

SURREY, BC - Concerned citizens from both sides of the Fraser River participated in protesting the demolition of a large house slated for demolition in Surrey’s Bridgeview neighbourhood this morning.

The non-violent act of civil disobedience is taking place as part of a day of direct action drawing attention to activities that cause climate change in various cities throughout North America. The house in Surrey is in the way of preparatory work for the South Fraser Perimeter (SFPR) Highway, part of the provincial government's controversial Gateway project.Ministry officials plan to lay pre-load sand throughout the neighbourhood so in a couple years thearea will be ready for pavement.


“Kevin Falcon's Gateway Project is threatening to destroy this community, and outdated freeway projects like this are destroying our planet,” said Tom Jaugelis, a local resident and spokesperson for the group. “They're wasting billions of our tax dollars on this gateway to global warming that won’t even fix our congestion problems. They should be buildinghousing, and investing in other green jobs like the public transit that Surrey needs right now.”


Today in Washington DC a national coalition of more than 40 environmental, public health, labor, social justice, faithbased and other advocacy groups plans to engage in what is expected to be the largest mass mobilization on global warming in the history of the US. NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists is taking part in the civil disobedience.


The action in Washington is happening at a coal burning plant. In many parts of the US coal plants are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Here in Metro Vancouver vehicles are the largest source of these emissions, making up 36% of BC’s overall emissions. According to a report by the Livable Region Coalition the gateway project will increase carbon emissions by 30%.


The house in Surrey where the BC action is taking place which is located at 124 St and 116 Ave is the last still standing in Bridgeview on the proposed route of the SFPR. The working family neighbourhood was targeted early by the Gateway project, forcing many residents with deep roots in the community to leave.


Bernadette Keenan, who sits on the Board of the Bridgeview Community Association, says “The Port Mann/Highway 1 public-private partnership just collapsed, and this South Fraser Freeway does not even have a preferred bidder yet, so these projects are obviously a bad investment – economically as well as environmentally. The provincial government should cancel the misguided Gateway scheme immediately.”


As of 1 PM the protestors were picketing along the perimter of the property waiting for the former home owner to finish removing items from the house.   The provincial government hired private security for the site this morning.


Update (Tuesday 9:00 AM):  Protestors have now had a continous presence on the property for over 26 hours and have set up tents.  They continue to wait for heavy equipment to arrive for the house demolition.


Tags: | | | | | |



Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lynn Valley PV



The 8.75 kW photovoltaic (solar electric) installation at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, BC is now online and delivering clean power to the building. Installation work by Vancouver Renewable Energy (http://www.vrec.ca ).

Friday, February 06, 2009

Efficient Car Myth

With the recent announcement of a 10 lane monster bridge here in Vancouver it might be timely to examine the idea of the efficient car.  Some supporters of the highway expansion project claim that we don't need to worry about greenhouse gas emissions or local pollution because the increased traffic will sometime in an unspecified future be replaced by magical super efficient cars.

A recent article in The Progressive, The Myth of the Efficient Car, examines this issue. The article points out that, "...the looming catastrophe of global pollution, including climate change, will never be solved by building more cars – efficient or otherwise."

Meanwhile the private partner involved in building the bridge, Macquaire Group, is having problems.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

"they have gone mad"

Quote of the day:
"To remove a bridge that is still worth at least half a billion,
and add a giant one at a cost of 3.5 billion makes no sense. With that
much money you could provide rail transit to within a ten minute walk
of over 80% of south of Fraser residents."

Patrick M. Condon
Professor, University of British Columbia
and former professional city planner
responding to the announcement of a 10 lane Port Mann bridge

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Maquarie's Offices In Lock Down

Maquarie Banks offices in downtown Vancouver were in lock down mode Thursday as about 60 activists rallied outside against the bank's involvement in the controversial Gateway project.


Speakers at the rally highlighted what they called the "twin meltdown" of climate change and the global financial crisas.  Maquarie bank has been selected as as part of the perferred bidder team but has yet to sign a contract.  Recently it has been revealed that Maquarie is having difficulty securing financing for the project. 

“The Premier has more than enough reasons to rethink the Gateway Project, the international banks balking at financing the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge is only the latest,” said David Fields of the Livable Region Coalition. “ The twin meltdowns of the economy and the climate signals that we need to do it differently, that we must have economic policy and investments that support the environment. Gateway is a waste of money that has been proven to worsen carbon and other air pollution, we need transit first.”

According to the BC Treasury Board, for every million dollars spent, transit projects create more jobs than road projects by 7 to 1. A report released yesterday by Sustainable Prosperity ranked investments in public transit as the top green economic stimulus option for Canada, whereas freeway and bridge expansions were ranked as third from last.

“Back in September, 2004, BC’s Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon first announced a price tag for the twinning the Port Mann Bridge of $800 Million. The most recent numbers, as quoted in Project Finance Magazine, was $2.3 Billion, almost triple the original estimate,” said Ben West, Healthy Communities Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee.

Now, Macquarie Bank, one of the Gateway project’s financiers, has failed to meet a January 8th deadline for signing off on the project’s financing. It has been reported that Macquarie is struggling to raise the $2.3 Billion it would need due to the global financial crisis and doubts about its business practices. The federal government will table a budget on January 27th that may pass the bill for the full cost of the Gateway project onto taxpayers.

“Investing in transit first is not only the greenest and economically appropriate option  for Metro Vancouver, it is also very popular with the public,” stated Fields. “A recent public opinion poll shows that residents prefer transit to freeway expansion by 2 to 1.”

A May public opinion poll conducted by Synovate on behalf of the David Suzuki Foundation and The Livable Region Coalition found that 69% of Metro Vancouver residents support redirecting money from freeway expansion to public transit in order to fight climate change. The same survey found that 60% of residents, or 2 to 1, support projects like the Evergreen Line and SkyTrain expansion to Surrey over the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge and expanding Highway 1.

Photos by Eric Doherty



Tags: | | | | | |

Monday, January 12, 2009

Public barred from Gateway Announcement

Residents of Surrey and Vancouver were blocked from entering the site of an announcement regarding the controversial Gateway Program on Monday.

The announcement was held on private property behind barbed wire fences. Some in attendance speculated this was a deliberate attempt to keep the public from attending an event about the project which is becoming increasingly unpopular.

The announcement was billed as the official launch of construction on the South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR) portion of the program. But it contained little new information. The Federal government promised support but did not offer any specifics in terms of funding.

The Prime Minister painted the project as part of his government's economic stimulus package. But opponents pointed out that transit projects create seven times as many jobs as highway building.

Dozens of protesters turned out to meet the federal and provincial government officials as they entered the site. Protesters pointed out that the project will do irreversible harm to Burns Bog, destroy sacred First Nation sites, increase particulate pollution, destroy farmland, increase greenhouse gas emissions and harm neighbourhoods.

Light duty vehicles are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the the Greater Vancouver area.  Sustainability experts point out that the massive highway expansion project directly contradicts the province's climate change goals.

When Stockwell Day was driving through the entrance one of the protesters yelled "Hey, Stockwell prorogue Gateway."

Concerning the Province's plans for the SFPR, Environmental Stewardship Branch of Envirnoment Canada wrote that "...that the changes are not sufficient to alleviate its concerns related to the impacts of the Project on Pacific Water Shrew (PWS), hydrology, aerial deposition, and ecological integrity of Burns Bog."

The Gateway Program is opposed by the Livable Region Coalition, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, SPEC, a group based south of the Fraser called The Gateway 40 network, the majority of members of Burnaby city council, all members of Vancouver city council, the majority of GVRD (now Metro Vancouver) directors, dozens of urban planners and many environmental groups . Environmentalist David Suzuki, Professor Anthony Perl (Director, SFU
Urban Studies Program), UBC  professor Larry Frank (chair of
sustainable urban transportation systems), UBC Professor Peter
Boothroyd, UBC Professor Patrick Condon, Gordon Price and UBC Professor Bill Rees have all expressed opposition to the Gateway Program.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Nature good for the brain

An interesting article on studies that show spending time in nature can help the brain function: How the city hurts your brain - Boston.com. Apparently even children with ADD function better if they spend time in nature.