Green Gazette - October 2006

Sierra Club of Canada's monthly electronic newsletter

What's Inside

NATIONAL

New! SCC IN THE NEWS

ATLANTIC CANADA CHAPTER

QUÉBEC CHAPTER /
SECTION DU QUÉBEC

ONTARIO CHAPTER

PRAIRIE CHAPTER

BRITISH COLUMBIA CHAPTER

Oil Sands Public Consultations

As the Government of Alberta completes the first week of a four-week tour of Alberta communities in its provincial consultations on the future of oil sands development in the province, Sierra Club of Canada’s Prairie Chapter has released a grassroots action guide to demystify the public process and encourage participation.

action guide cover

“These public consultations can be intimidating for the most experienced public advocates,” claims Meredith James, Associate Director for Sierra Club of Canada’s Prairie Chapter, “Our intent with this guide is to demystify the process slightly by providing information, details on the consultation process and questions to guide verbal or written submissions from community members across the province and beyond.”

“Public concern over the pace and scope of the Oil Sands in the province is growing and Albertans continue to place a high priority on the preservation of clean air, water and land,” continues James, “It is important that the committee hear these priorities from the people who live on the land, breath the air and drink the water.”

The Tar Sands Action Guide can be downloaded online at www.sierraclub.ca/prairie/tarnation.htm.

In addition to all the individuals and groups who will be making formal presentations, there will also be a "Welcoming Committee" outside the consultations in Edmonton to welcome consultation participants and thank them for spending the time to make Alberta’s future sustainable. The goal is to create a festive atmosphere that is a celebration of the alternatives to tar sands development.

If you don't live in Alberta, please pass this guide on to friends and family who live in Wild Rose Country and encourage them to read the guide and get active.


NATIONAL

Make Sure your MP votes for Kyoto
Introducing the Rodriguez Bill (Bill C-288)

This fall, Canada’s Members of Parliament have a chance to get Canada back on track towards our Kyoto Protocol target. When Stephen Harper rejected Canada’s Kyoto target this spring, Montreal MP Pablo Rodriguez decided to fight back with a tough private member’s bill. Rodriguez’s bill, the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act (C-288), would force Canada to meet our Kyoto target despite Harper’s defeatism. The bill legally obliges the government to prepare a plan to cut greenhouse gas pollution down to Kyoto levels, and to implement that plan through regulations, programs, or other spending.

The bill will be debated this fall, and could come to a vote as early as October 4. C-288 is our best chance to get Kyoto back onto the government’s agenda, and it needs support from every MP. Please write or call your Member of Parliament before October 4 to explain why you support the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, and asking your MP to vote for it. (You may even want to tell your MP that his or her vote on C-288 will help you make up your mind which party to support in the next election.)

Find a list of MP’s phone numbers, here and click on your MP’s name. (Don't know your MP's name?)

Read the text of C-288.

Sierra Club of Canada Welcomes New Executive Director

The Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Stephen Hazell has been appointed as Executive Director effective September 25, 2006.

Stephen_HazellStephen’s experience is unique in that he has held senior management positions in two national environmental groups, a federal environmental agency and a leading Ottawa-based consulting firm. More recently, he has led Sierra Club of Canada’s campaigns against the Mackenzie Gas Project and Alberta tar sands development. Stephen holds a Master of Science degree in Plant Ecology from the University of Toronto and a Law degree from Queen’s University.

Please join us in welcoming him.

Note: We are extremely grateful for the expert, pro bono supported provided for us in our search by Eric Slankis of Ray & Berndtson.

Goodbye to another friend -- Debra Eindiguer

We are saying goodbye to another familiar face at the national office. Debra Eindiguer is taking a new position supporting Elizabeth May at the Green Party of Canada.

Elizabeth’s gain is our loss – we’re sure you’ll agree. Debra will be greatly missed. But we do wish to extend our congratulations and best wishes to her in her new role. We know you’ll stay in touch!

Sierra Club of Canada Annual General Meeting

Our AGM will take place November 25-26, 2006, in Ottawa.  Please stay tuned for more details in next month's Green Gazette.

Awards Nominations Deadline October 21, 2006

Do you know someone who deserves recognition for their hard work? Please consider nominating them for one of our SCC Volunteer or Staff Awards. 

Please note that any proposed award recipient must be a Sierra Club of Canada member.  For a nomination form to submit potential award recipients, please contact Martha Beckett (marthab@sierraclub.ca, (613) 241-4611).  The nomination should include a supporting statement of no more than one page setting out the achievements of your nominee in relation to the award category for which you are nominating them.  Feel free to attach any news clippings, if relevant.

Please submit your nominations toMartha Beckett (marthab@sierraclub.ca). The results will be shared at the Annual General Meeting November 25-26, 2006 in Ottawa.

Awards for Volunteers

The Chuck Chamberlin Award

This award is given in memory of Chuck Chamberlin to the volunteer who has contributed in significant ways to the health and growth of a local group.

Criteria:  For a volunteer who has donated extraordinary amounts of their time and who has left an indelible mark on the corner of the world where they are rooted.

The Conservation Chapter Award

This award is given to the volunteer who has contributed to a significant environmental campaign within their chapter.

Criteria:  For a volunteer who has steered, or made an indispensable contribution, to a chapter conservation campaign.  The award may be given in cases of securing an environmental victory, as well as in cases where a valiant fight has been lost.

The Ron Burchell Membership Development Award

This award is given in memory of Sierra Club of Canada founding president, Ron Burchell, to the volunteer who has contributed in an outstanding way to membership recruitment.

Criteria:  For a volunteer who has made impressive efforts to increase membership in Sierra Club of Canada, at a group, chapter, youth coalition or national level.

The Sierra Youth Coalition Inspiration Award

This award marks an outstanding contribution by a Sierra Club of Canada member under 25 years old.  The Sierra Youth Coalition selects the winner of this award, which includes a scholarship, where appropriate, to further educational goals. 

Criteria: To a volunteer within Sierra Youth Coalition (SYC) in recognition of innovative, creative and significant outreach to youth and/or the general public.  The prize is $2000, provided by the Sierra Club of Canada Foundation as an educational donation within charitable purposes.

Awards to Staff

The Gary Gallon Award for Environmental Achievement

This award is given annually to the staff member at SYC, chapter or national level of Sierra Club of Canada who best exemplifies qualities of commitment to the organization, respect for others, dogged perseverance in the cause of the planet and all its creatures.

Criteria:  This award reflects the reality that staff and volunteers alike are worthy of recognition within Sierra Club of Canada and more broadly.  The award recognizes contributions far in excess of the requirements of employment, recognizing staff roles as “subsidized volunteers.”


SCC - IN THE NEWS

Sierra Club of Canada is the country’s most often quoted environmental organization. This new section gives you an idea of where SCC’s name shows up.

Gauntlet Opinions - C'mon Calgary, get with the flow!

By Jon Roe
University of Calgary Gauntlet
Thursday, September 07, 2006

As Calgarians, we don't need to avoid contracting embarrassing diarrhea or potentially fatal viruses. Yet, bottles of water are on display at every vending machine and sell fairly well--a frightening trend that has emerged as we have become increasingly reliant on private sources of water. Recognizing this, the United Church of Canada drafted a resolution requesting its members stop buying bottled water in protest of the privatization of water supplies. Perhaps it is time to ask "what would Jesus do?"

Calgary has one of the best water treatment plants in Canada and yet Calgarians still choose to drink water from bottles rather than the taps they finance with their taxes. Drinking bottled water from vending machines is a wasteful habit too. Besides the greenhouse gases generated when the water is shipped from the source to the bottling site to the consumer, the bulk of the empty bottles end up in landfills. Recycling, though better than tossing the bottle in a trash can, still isn't the best option when the product is unnecessary in the first place. There are places in the world where drinking bottled water is a safer alternative than tap water, but Calgary isn't one.

water-bottlesThough a testament to the strength of our own water systems, having major companies buy our tap water is more costly to tax payers than it seems. Under the Dasani brand, Coca-Cola filters water from Calgary and Brampton, Ontario, one more time, then turns around and labels it "purified water." Coke buys our water at wholesale prices--cheaper than we pay for it--and then sells it back to us after ludicrous mark-ups. This extra use of our water is a drain on our expensive infrastructure, even if it pads an already overloaded city budget.

If people bought a reusable hard plastic bottle and filled it themselves, they'd be providing the same service for free instead of handing money to major companies like Coca-Cola. If worry persists about the cleanliness of the water, filters can be attached to household taps to provide cleaner water in the home at a much cheaper rate than what is typically paid for bottled water. Though that does sound like a lot of work, it is a far more sensible alternative. Apparently, the price of laziness is about $1.50 per 591 ml.

The overall trend of privatization is also rather disturbing--especially when individuals are profiting at the cost of society as a whole. A recent application to the British Columbia government by Mike McCarthy, a real estate mogul based out of Sicamous, for a water license to extract one million imperial gallons of water a day from four Adams Lake creeks has drawn protest from the Sierra Club of Canada. The group warns that granting such a license could set a dangerous precedent, allowing water to be treated as a commodity under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Though there is a need for clean drinking sources world-wide, that need isn't present in international consumers who can afford to pay for bottled creek water shipped straight to them from the B.C. Interior.

We can't allow someone to profit in the short term from the long term destruction of our fresh water drinking sources.

As the Sierra Club notes, "extracting such high volumes of water will impede water flow in the Adams Lake watershed. It will also negatively affect wildlife habitat, particularly salmon."

The mistaken attitude towards water is that it's a limitless resource there for our misuse. Canadians are especially terrible when it comes to this attitude. According to Natural Resources Canada, we tend to waste more water than any other country in the world. Unfortunately, because we are surrounded by so many fresh water sources, it isn't hard to see why we can so easily abuse an increasingly important resource. Maybe if we paid $3 a litre for our water, we would realize the importance of water in the same way that paying over a dollar per litre for gasoline has forced us to become a more energy conscious society. With recent trends towards privatization, perhaps water will one day cost that much. Until then, however, we should take advantage of the clean water provided to us for free and stop filling garbage cans and recycling bins with unnecessary bottles.


ATLANTIC CANADA CHAPTER

Attention Teachers and Educators

Atlantic Canada Chapter is proud to offer its 4th year of excellent school programs available to classes K-6 & 9-12 in French and English throughout the Atlantic Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. We have a small but great team this year of enthusiastic and dedicated staff and volunteers to bring programs focused on local environmental issues and how youth can take action.

Program topics include: Acadian and Boreal Forests, Coastal and Marine Environments and Ecological Footprints. They are 2 visits of approximately 70 minutes and are only $25/per class! What a deal! These are programs approved by Green Street, a national standard of excellence in environmental education.

To register please call ACC office at 902-444-3113 or email at atlanticed@sierraclub.ca or go directly to the website at www.green-street.ca and click teacher zone to book a program. If you are interested in programs for Newfoundland, we are taking registrations immediately since programs will only be available this October 2006.

Should Digby, Nova Scotia have a Pesticide By-law? Request For Public Input

The Digby Town Council will be forming a sub-committee to study the need for a "Pesticide By-Law." Council is requesting written public comments on this issue to help them determine whether such a by-law is required. Please address responses to:
Town Council c/o Matthew Raymond,
Deputy Clerk/Treasurer,
P.O.Box 579,
Digby, NS, B0V 1A0
fax: 902-245-2121
email: deputy.clerk@tartannet.ns.ca.

Coal Mine in Cape Breton Almost Approved

A plan to strip mine coal at Point Aconi, Cape Breton has reached the final stages of approval despite massive opposition from local residents over the last 22 months. At a public meeting September 18, residents vowed to fight on, pledging civil disobedience if necessary to stop this threat to farming, fishing, tourism and precious ecosystems in the area. Much of the area to be mined is pristine mixed forest with delicate wetlands, yet the provincial government has continued to describe the project as a “cleanup” of the old Prince Mine site—“reclamation mining.” In attendance were local conservative MLA Keith Bain and Mayor Morgan of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Both Bain and Morgan oppose the plan as does virtually every politician on the island except Tory House Speaker Cecil Clarke. Critical support from First Nations leaders was pledged by Eskasoni Elder Albert Marshall who vows to stop the process by whatever means deemed necessary. If Pioneer Coal succeeds in stripping Point Aconi, the provincial government will continue its 10-year plan to lay waste to a dozen more blocks, a total of nearly 12,000 hectares—a massive sacrifice to “King Coal” that will decimate Cape Breton’s coastline.


QUÉBEC CHAPTER / SECTION DU QUÉBEC

Meeting with John Godfrey / Rencontre avec M. John Godfrey

In early September, Johanne Roberge (Québec Chair), Amelia Clarke (National Board Past- President) and Daniel Green (Québec Campaigns Director) met with Federal Liberal Environment Critic, John Godfrey, as part of a working session on Quebec environmental issues. The discussions also covered the portion of the federal gas tax allocated to municipalities which were earmarked for sustainable development. We hope these issues will be raised in the House of Commons.

Au début septembre, Johanne Roberge (présidente QC), Amelia Clarke (présidente sortante du Conseil Administratif) et Daniel Green (directeur des campagnes au Québec) ont rencontré John Godfrey (critique fédéral en environnement) dans le cadre d’une réunion de travail sur les dossiers environnementaux du Québec. La discussion a aussi porté sur la remise de la taxe fédérale sur l’essence aux municipalités et plus particulièrement sur la portion attribuée au développement durable. Nous espérons que ces questions seront débattues à la chambre des communes.

Car Free Day / En ville sans ma voiture

On September 22, climate change was the centre of discussion during Montreal Car Free Day. The Sierra Club of Canada - Quebec Chapter (SCQ) booth as well as Health, Transport and Environment Canada booths presented climate changes issues and risks. We developed our educational game for street animation as well as the one on health and climate changes used by Health Canada. This collaboration was the initial step in a broader working relationship between the Quebec Chapter and federal ministries.

Vendredi le 22 septembre, les changements climatiques ont été à l’honneur dans le cadre de la Journée sans voiture de Montréal. Le kiosque du SCQ ainsi que ceux de Santé, Transport et Environnement Canada portaient sur les enjeux et les risques que posent les changements climatiques. En plus de son jeu d’animation, le SCQ a aussi développé le jeu éducatif de Santé Canada portant sur la santé et les changements climatiques. Cette collaboration amorce une relation de travail harmonieuse avec des ministères fédéraux.

Volunteering / Bénévoles

If you wish to help us out, please contact Claude Martel, at claudem@sierraclub.ca or by phone at (514) 651-5847 (leave a message). A few hours of your time can make a difference!

Venez nous donner un coup de main, il suffit de quelques heures par mois et vous en tirerez une expérience très enrichissante. Communiquez avec claudem@sierraclub.ca ou au (514) 651-5847 (laissez un message).


ONTARIO CHAPTER

Sierra Club of Canada, Ontario Chapter Succeeds with Toronto Car Free Day 2006!

The following is from a message entitled "We Win" written by a long-time Car Free Day volunteer:

Way back in 2000, we set out to hold a "real" International Car Free Day event–-a main street in downtown Toronto on a weekday that is International Car Free Day. We wanted it to be recognized by the city and supported by the mayor. It took a little longer than expected, but we never gave up (even when almost every politician, bureaucrat, funding source and activist that was paying attention told us to pack it in), and we kept moving forward, and this year we got it!! We "opened" the most famous part of the most important street in the most important city in Canada.

It was, as it should be, a mainstream event, which attracted not only our activist friends, and the people from the neighbourhood but also average Torontonians on their lunchhour, viewers of CityTV, prominent corporate sponsors and populist city councillors. We drew a spotlight that brought more attention to the Day and every group celebrating it than ever before. We joined Montreal in showing every other Canadian city that Car Free Day is a bandwagon they should jump on.

It is natural for us, and others, to look at the event and find things that could be improved–-a bigger, rowdier crowd, or a larger closure area–-and we will get even bigger and better next year, as we climb up from our new basecamp.

But no-one can take away the fact that this year–-thanks to the long, hard work of everyone [involved], we celebrated a great Car Free Day that we all can be very proud of. This year, we won. Congratulations everyone.

SCC seeks nominations for leadership position in Ontario

Sierra Club of Canada is seeking candidates for Ontario Chapter Executive Committee (3 positions) and the Executive Committees of each of the Ontario local groups: Ottawa (2 positions), Toronto (4 positions) and Peel Region (5 positions). Candidates must be members in good standing, and at least 18 years old.
Interested candidates may petition to run for election by submitting a nomination letter signed by any fifteen members of the Chapter (for chapter candidates) or the local group (for a particular local group) to the contact person listed below. Petition candidates must provide a 100-word personal profile to the nominating committee for inclusion on the ballot. Deadline is October 18, 2006.
Elections are by mail-in ballot in the fall. Executive Committee members-elect take office in January 2007.

Ontario Chapter: Jaime McVicar – 416-643-6903

Ottawa Group: Terry Newcombe – 613-523-6524

Toronto Group: Danielle Buklis – 416-803-0421

Peel Group: Verna Blackburn – 905-826-2104


PRAIRIE CHAPTER

Value of Parks to Neighbouring Communities - Public Information Forums
What is the value of parks to neighbouring communities in western North America, including Alberta?


Crowsnest Pass, AB: Oct. 16 at the Crowsnest Centre, Blairmore, AB
Pincher Creek, AB: Oct. 17 at the Heritage Inn
7:00 pm to 9:30 pm
Doors & displays open at 6:30 pm

The first park in Alberta’s southwest was established in 1895 – Waterton Lakes National Park. Since then, Beauvais Lake (1954) and Police Outpost (1970) Provincial Parks, three Historic Sites and the Westcastle Wetlands were added to the protected areas system. In 1982 the Alberta Recreation and Parks Minister stated he recognized “the scarcity and sensitivity of the few remaining wildland and recreation areas of southern Alberta.” How have such protected areas benefited our communities and what about the future?

Current information on this topic will be presented by three speakers, each with a different set of expertise. A chamber of commerce person, Steve Duerr of Jackson Hole Wyoming will share his experiences with us from a community next door to internationally renowned national parks. An economist, Jim Johnson of Pacific Analytics Inc. will approach the topic from the view of economic assessments done here in Canada and abroad. An Alberta government official, Scott Jones with the Community Development Department will share information on the contribution of parks within Alberta.

Contacts:
Crowsnest Pass, Judy Cooke, 564-4642
Pincher Creek, Judy Huntley, 627-5950

Co-hosted by Sierra Club of Canada, the “Trail of the Great Bear” ecotourism initiative, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Employment Opportunity: Enviro 911 Coordinator

The Environmental911 program connects volunteer researchers to members of the community seeking answers to their questions and concerns. For more information, please see www.sierraclub.ca/prairie/Sierra911.


BC CHAPTER

BC Environmentalists Band Together to Oppose Coal-fired Power Plants

BC Coal RallyBC Chapter has teamed up with eight other environmental groups to oppose the BC government’s backward-looking decision to build two coal-fired power plants in a province flush with hydro and rich in potential for other forms of renewable energy.

In a letter sent to BC Premier Gordon Campbell the groups pointed out that the Tumbler Ridge and Princeton power plants, BC’s first, would emit between 70 and 260 times more pollution than the proposed Sumas II gas-fired power plant in Washington State, which the BC Liberal government opposed last year because of air quality concerns.

To draw attention to the government’s antiquated approach to meeting BC’s energy needs, BC Chapter representatives staged a rally outside the annual Canadian Conference on Coal in downtown Victoria dressed in Victorian costumes.

Read press release here: www.sierraclub.ca/bc/media/item.shtml?x=874

Campaign for BC Parks Launched

Environmentalists and union workers held information protests and petition drives in 14 parks across BC to educate park users about the multiple threats to the province’s world-famous park system. In Goldstream Provincial Park near Victoria, Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee and the BC Government Employees Union gathered with supporters holding several large banners and placards and a cardboard replica of a parking meter (dubbed “Peter the Parking Meter”) to collect petition cards from park visitors.

BC parks have long suffered from under-funding and mismanagement. Seeking to maximize returns at the expense of conservation, successive governments have slowly eroded the hard-won parks system by measures such as allowing resort development within park boundaries, installing parking meters, weakening the Parks Act, changing park boundaries to allow for industrial development, and cutting the operating budget for parks.

The most recent challenge faced by parks in BC is the government’s surprise announcement in August that it is planning to call for proposals for roofed for-profit accommodation, including resorts and hotels, in 12 provincial parks.

Take action for parks today.



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