FCM’s survey on sustainable food systems in Canada

The FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) conducted a survey in 2010 to learn whether Canadian municipalities are considering sustainable food systems in their planning process. The results are now in and show that there is a strong interest in developing sustainable food system particularly in urban areas (57%). Find results of the survey here. 

Recent decline in health of the Great Lakes is an outcome of climate change, says Gore

Using well documented research to back up his claim, Al Gore is noting the direct link between the large algae blooms and low water levels of the Great Lakes as a direct result of climate change. He is urging governments to address the issue, noting that both the environmental and economic fallout from continued decline will be severe. Read more in Bloomberg Business Week.

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 interest in growing their own food. Read more in the Globe and Mail. 

Visit Farm to School BC to find out how your school can participate.

Safe injection sites planned for Montreal and Quebec City

Quebec’s health minister, Yves Bolduc, has offered support and encouragement to the organization Cactus to open two safe injection sites this coming spring. Cactus, based out of Montreal currently offers clean needles and counseling support for drug addicts. Jean-Francois Mary of Cactus Montreal says the decision only makes sense.

“We’ve been really walking in that grey zone of providing the services to these people but saying to them ‘no you can’t use there. You need to go in the back alleys of Montreal’ and which is really hypocritical,” said Mary.” Read more at CTV. 

Success of school food program exceeds expectations

A Toronto-based school food program is proving successful in raising academic scores and improving behavior for the students it serves. “Feeding Our Future,” was started after a Toronto student was shot by a fellow student. Some administrators and nutrition experts argued that “hungry kid was an angry kid.” By providing the basics – a meal every morning, administrators and teachers are seeing some dramatic changes. Though the Toronto School Board has done preliminary research through student surveys, more research is needed so that programs like “Feeding Our Future” will have the numbers to prove their success and receive the long-term, stable funding they deserve. Read more in the Globe and Mail.

Where Toronto went wrong

An article in the Walrus talks about the financial decline of Canada’s economic hub. Though Toronto remains a vibrant, diverse and exciting place to live, poor economic and structural decision making have left the city with a crumbling infrastructure, service cuts, and traffic congestion that is creating frustration for everyone. With the current Mayor’s decision to cut several tax-based sources of revenue and to instead further slash programs and infrastructure the solutions to the City’s woes are nowhere in sight. Read “How Toronto Lost Its Groove” here. 

BC municipal leaders show strong support for keeping water public

}At the Union of BC Municipalities conference, municipal leaders passed the Blue Communities resolution, “the resolution asks for the federal government to provide funding for public water infrastructure and delivery projects and “unhook” funding for water infrastructure and maintenance projects from public-private partnerships (P3s).” Most BC municipalities have publicly owned water facilities and leaders want to make sure that continues, to be recognized as a “Blue Community, ” a municipality “must recognize water as a human right. Secondly, ban the sales of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events. And lastly, commit to promoting publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services.” Read more at CUPE. 


French River Ontario passes CETA resolution.

French River, also known as Rivière-des-Français passed a resolution on September 21st to negotiate an exemption for municipalities from the CETA trade agreement. The municipality is concerned that the agreement will disrupt the flow of social services, local jobs, local procurement policies and control over waste and water facilities. The council was motivated to closely examine the trade agreement after a local area resident brought the issue to mayor and council.

To date, 14 municipal resolutions have been passed — Lunenberg (Nova
Scotia), Brantford, Alnwick/Haldimand, Trent Hills, Asphodel-Norwood,
Tecumseh, Windsor-Essex, Brockville, London, French River (Ontario),
Logan Lake, Burnaby, North Vancouver, and Trail (British Columbia).

Read more about CETA resolutions at Council of Canadians.

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 will run from January 2012-December 2013. You can download a copy of the Adaptation Initiative Brochure.

For more information or to become a participant contact Ewa Jackson at ewa.jackson@iclei.org.

Read more at ICLEI Canada 

High youth unemployment, climbing obesity rates, and a population in debt- the new Canadian Vital Signs Report

The new Vital Signs report is out and it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. Although Canada’s youth unemployment hasn’t reached the same crisis levels as some European countries, it is still high at 16%. The NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) phenomena could potentially manifest serious social unrest and economic problems if not addressed quickly. The same report shows that obesity rates are climbing due to increased sedentary jobs, and time shortages. The report also shows that consumer debt is on the rise, likely a result of the huge layoffs that have taken place during the recession. Find out more at Vital Signs. 

Vancouver’s poverty rate is the highest in Canada

Income inequality is on the rise across the country, but Vancouver, viewed by many as Canada’s most livable city, holds the title of being the “Poverty Capital of Canada.”BC has the lowest income rates and the highest child poverty rates in all of Canada. This combined with a crisis in affordable housing means that Vancouver is a challenging, stressful place to live for many of its citizens. An excellent article in Crosscut, discusses inequality and the affect on society as a whole. According to studies by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett of Equalitytrust, there is no correlation between increased average income and social well-being, whereas there is a strong relationship between levels of inequality and social well-being. Read article in Crosscut.