Toronto’s First Pedestrian Scramble

Imagine an intersection where cars in all four directions are stopped and hundreds of people fill the intersection, moving in every direction. This pedestrian free-for-all is now an established and regulated traffic pattern at the intersection of Yonge and Dundas Streets in Toronto. City officials hope this new system will decrease accidents. Read more here.

Geography an Influence on Poverty

Poverty in North America has historically been measured in household income, but in New York City a new determinent is being added, geography. This new measurement accounts for the high cost of living and transportation in the city and will result in more people qualifying for assistance programs. Read more here.

More Companies are Adopting the Four Day Work Week

In an effort to counter soaring gas prices and to keep employees happy, companies across North America are adopting the four day work week. The benefits to this restructuring of hours include more time for employees to be with their families, and less time spent commuting. Read more here.

Toronto’s Waste Reduction Plan

Toronto is currently devising a waste reduction plan that targets more than just plastic bottles. Also on the list are disposable coffee cups, polysyream food containers and plastic bags. The city is considering introducing a combination of measures including, a ban on some forms of packaging, a tax on plastic bags, and the indroducition of deposits on items such as batteries. The city intends to divert 70% of the city’s waste from the landfill by 2010. Read more here.

California on the Verge of Passing Smart Growth Bill

A new bill has been introduced in the California legislature that establishes "Smart Growth" as a key strategy in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The bill would require regions throughout the state to adopt a "sustainable community strategy" to encourage compact development. In return, the state would lighten beuracratic red tape and ease up zoning regulations, but the real incentive is access to a $5 billion transportation fund. Read article here.

Foreign Farm Workers Join Union, a First in BC

The BC Labour Relations Board recently made a historic decision allowing foreign workers at Surrey’s Greenway farms to join the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) of Canada. The UFCW has helped farm workers in Manitoba get contracts and is currently working on unionizing four farms in Quebec. Currently forign farm workers are brought to Canada under the the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), a program that does little to monitor or enforce conditions for workers. Because workers are brought in by the company that hires them and are not allowed to seek employment elsewhere, they are often forced to endure poor working conditions. Union representation will help ensure respect and protection for foreign farm workers. Read article here.

Environment Canada Report Indicates Water Supply at Risk

An internal report by Environment Canada, accessed through the Access to Information Act, reveals that Canada’s water supply is in need of further study and protection. While Canada holds one fifth of the world’s water supply, only seven per cent of it is renewable. Despite the assurance that Canada’s water supply "is not for sale," the fact that we share many aquifers with the United States puts our supply at risk. Read more here

Ontario Farmers Receive a $400,000 Grant From the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation

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 crops and market produce locally rather than focus on export. Read more here.

Ethanol: What it Means to Put Corn in Our Tanks

An article in Grist looks at the exploding ethanol industry and the impact that dedicating more and more farmland to the production of fuel might have on climate change and food security. According to the article, the US Department of Agriculture expects 4.1 billion bushels of corn to be turned into liquid fuel this year. For some perspective, that amount is equivalent to 33% of the total corn harvest in the US; requires 26.4 million acres of US farmland; and represents 13% of all the corn grown in the world.
Read the article and then join in the enlightening discussion at the bottom.

Carbon Disclosure Project

ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) and the Carbon Disclosure Project
(CDP) is teaming up with 30 large American cities, including New York
City, Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Denver, to help them voluntarily
report GHG emissions and other climate data. The cities will use
ICLEI’s Local Government Operations Protocol
and software tools to assess their GHG emissions from fire, ambulance,
and police services, municipal buildings, and waste transport. The CDP
is an independent, not-for-profit organization which operates a
coordinating secretariat for institutional investors that seeks
information about opportunities and business risks related to climate
change. Currently CDP has 3,000 member companies and is the largest
repository of corporate GHG emissions in the world. Read more about the partnership between ICLEI and the CDP.

GHG Reduction Scenarios for BC

Two scientists from the BCGEU and the Sierra Club have put together this report which looks at ways in which BC can reach global equity in greenhouse gas emissions in 2100. This was done through identifying a 92-year global carbon budget, then calculating a BC budget for the same period based on BC’s population as a proportion of the projected 2100 global population. The report, published by the CCPA, identifies short, medium, and long-term targets for annual GHG reductions in BC. Read the full report here.

Casual Workers Losing Out in BC Economic Boom

A new report from the CCPA seeks an explanation for why good economic times in BC have not translated into higher earnings for workers in lower-end jobs. The study finds that a number of policy changes has increased the number of casual jobs, characterized by poor job quality, low pay, and little job security. Such policy changes include privatization and contracting out, which has reduced the stock of public sector jobs and changes to the Employment Standards Act, which has weakened minimums requirements for employers. The report recommends raising the minimum wage to $10/hour, expanding the Employment Standards Act, removing barriers to unionization, and enhancing child care subsidies. Click here to visit the CCPA website for the report or read a Vancouver Sun article about it.