NFB film shows how Toronto’s apartment towers can be revitalized

Enlisting architects, animators and more importantly residents, an NFB film titled One Millionth Tower, provides ideas for revitalizing Toronto’s aging highrises. Some of the ideas include eliminating first floor apartments to make room for cafes and businesses, creating a marketspace, and networks and paths linking to the towers to parks and community gardens. Residents featured in the documentary were awarded a grant to build a new park, a first step in realizing their vision. The film is one of several documentaries featuring Toronto’s apartment housing stock in a series titled Highrise

Education twice as cost effective in reducing crime as incarceration – Report

A new UBC study titled “Education and Crime over the Life Cycle,” examines the impact of education levels on reducing property crimes. Co-author Giovanni Gallipoli explains,

 “Our findings suggest that keeping kids in school, making them employable and improving their value in the labour market is nearly twice as cost-effective at reducing crime as simple incarceration,” he said. “People commit property crime for economic reasons, so providing more economic opportunities through education and employment can reduce the incentives for people to engage in criminal behaviour.”

Read more in the Vancouver Sun

Download Education and Crime over the Life Cycle

Ontario Schools may start collecting data on language and ethnicity

Ontario’s auditor general is suggesting that school administrators start collecting data on students’ ethnicity, language and socio-economic status. The suggestion comes as several US states have found success in targeting programs to specific ethnic groups to raise graduation rates. The information would not be made public, but it could help administrators to fund and design specific programs. Read more in the Toronto Sun. 

Prisons filled with the mentally ill

As the Conservatives are getting ready to pass their omnibus crime bill, a report released by the Canadian Psychiatric Association reveals that more than 1 in 10 male inmates and nearly one in three female inmates held in federal penitentiaries have mental illness. The number has climbed steadily alongside the closure of mental institutions across the country. With the passing of the Omnibus crime bill, prison populations will increase. Prisons currently do not have the trained staff or the resources to provide treatment to the mentally ill. Despite the lack of resources within prisons, the Conservatives rejected a motion by the Liberals to ensure provision of trained staff for mentally ill inmates in their new crime bill.  Read more in the Globe and Mail.

What will it cost if the world warms 3.5 degrees?

Current emissions reductions targets are likely to create a warming of 3.5°C by 2020, far below the original pledge of 2°C lower. The Climate Action Tracker has done an analysis that shows what the financial and environmental risks are. The tracker is continually updating according to the latest information available. What the current analysis shows is that “for every US$1 of investment not spent on reducing emissions in the power sector before 2020 an additional US$4.3 would need to be spent after2020 to compensate for the increased emissions. – International Energy Agency’s “World Energy Outlook 2011.” 


Download Briefing Paper for Durban.

Canadian cities considering Safety barriers on trucks

Several Canadian municipalities are looking at outfitting their trucking fleets with safety barriers. Cycling and pedestrian deaths from heavy trucks has gone down in Europe since guards have been implemented. The barriers cost approximately $1500 and Toronto councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker believes rails should be required despite the costs; “all of us accept today that seat belts and airbags should be mandatory,” said Mr. De, who regularly cycles 20 kilometres to work. “[Side guards] would protect people’s lives.” Read more in the Globe and Mail. 

Education trends in Canada

According to the Globe and Mail, iPads, bring your own computer devices and twitter are the latest trends in education, while cursive writing and long division are going out of style. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of research validating computers over other basic skills. In fact, in the heart of Silicon Valley, many computer executives are sending their children to the Waldorf School, where computers are not used. Waldorf schools rely on traditional teaching techniques along with play. Proponents argue, that teacher student engagement is what really matters and that technology is easy to learn and it can wait.

Read article on education trends in the Globe

Read article on the Silicon Valley Based Waldorf School in the New York times. 

Canada wins several Fossil of the Day Awards

Canada is becoming infamous for promoting the tar sands at the expense of climate change commitments. At the recent climate talks in Durban South Africa, Canada won four Fossil awards. Read more at the  Climate Action Network.

Edmonton passes sexual orientation and gender identity policy

Edmonton is the first Alberta school board to develop a policy to make schools welcoming and safe for “students, staff and families who identify or are perceived as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, queer or questioning their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” Read more in the Edmonton Journal.