Friday, July 27, 2007
British government plans new eco-towns, flood-plain development
The British government announced plans this week to build 2 million new homes by 2016, including five carbon-neutral "eco-towns" of at least 5,000 homes each. Each green town will have public transportation to existing cities, favor green space and walkability, include 30 to 50 percent affordable housing, and showcase a project such as communal heating or a carpool scheme. An additional million homes are likely to be built in Britain between 2016 and 2020, and the government is requiring that all homes built after 2016 be carbon neutral. Says Housing Minister Yvette Cooper, "No one should be in any doubt about the historic scale of this vision." But critics can't shake one niggling doubt: the government, citing heavy demand, is deflecting concerns about its plans to develop on flood plains -- despite the country's recent drenching. Says one opponent, "[They] aren't planning the eco-towns of the 21st century, they are planning the sink estates of tomorrow."
Friday, July 20, 2007
Let it all hang out
TheSpec.com - Local - Let it all hang out
Some say clotheslines save precious energy, but rules -- imaginary and real -- may be a stiff, opposing wind
The Hamilton Spectator
(Jul 20, 2007)
Feel free to flap your knickers in the breeze.
Despite whispers, rumours and passionate beliefs about city bylaws, the truth is that in most cases, there's no one to stop you from letting it all hang out on the laundry line.
Many city residents will earnestly tell you there is a bylaw governing clotheslines. They'll almost swear by it, having heard from neighbours and friends over the years about what is and what is not acceptable for outside laundering.
The funny thing is, the city says there aren't any rules about waving your skivvies in the wind.
There's nothing in the property standards bylaws regulating clotheslines and there's nothing in zoning bylaws from Ancaster, Flamborough and Dundas.
According to past and present city councillors in Stoney Creek, there's nothing on the books they know of to stop the laundry lines at that end of the city, either.
It is possible that certain covenants in subdivision agreements can prohibit the use of clotheslines. But it's also possible for some covenants to have an expiry date on them.
One place to toe the line is condominiums, where many boards have passed bylaws restricting clothesline use.
For the most part, though, Hamiltonians are free to flutter their laundry about and that's good news to some.
With rising energy costs and environmental concerns, an old-fashioned clothesline is one way to help the Earth stay green and the pocketbook full.
Jeff Condello, 37, was fairly certain there was a bylaw in his Stoney Creek neighbourhood restricting hanging clotheslines.
He's got an umbrella-style one in his back yard that he and his family use occasionally, but he's now thinking of going full tilt with a back-yard line.
"You'd figure with all the new restrictions ... to conserve power that they'd be telling people to put clotheslines up."
Toronto environmental law specialist Dianne Saxe is fighting for the right to do just that.
While no one was able to point to a subdivision in Hamilton that had restrictive clothesline covenants yesterday, Saxe says the issue, along with zoning restrictions and condo rules, is a problem for some people in the province.
She's advocating that a regulation be added to the provincial Energy Conservation Leadership Act that would include clotheslines as a recognized energy-saving measure.
If added, the rules in the act would supercede any other regulation, including subdivision covenants.
"I think the purpose of the act was to recognize that we have some really important energy issues to deal with," Saxe says.
"And having to look at other people's clotheslines may not be the greatest sacrifice we have to make."
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
THE HEAT IS UP, THE PRESSURE'S ON!
2005 was Hamilton's hottest summer in recorded history. Air pollution sent over 2500 people to hospital emergency rooms and caused 300 to die prematurely. This summer, high temperatures are making matters worse with 22 days of smog advisories before the end of June and already 10 days with temperatures hotter than 30C.
WE'RE ALL PART OF THE PROBLEM, WE CAN ALL BE PART OF THE SOLUTION
This summer, Environment Hamilton is inviting you to help take control of climate change, and join the global effort to keep our planet liveable.
We're challenging you and your family to take practical steps, large or small, to reduce the pollution that's causing climate change.
In a few days we will be knocking on your door to collect your pledge.
Accept the challenge, and receive a FREE ENERGY SAVING KIT worth $30 and a beautiful map of over 50 different Hamilton locations where you can buy locally grown food.
PLEDGE AS MANY AS YOU CAN TO REDUCE YOUR IMPACT ON THE PLANET
- I will install energy efficient devices to save power and water
- I will not use cleaning appliances at peak energy times - noon to 8pm
- When replacing appliances, I will purchase Energy Star appliances
- I will walk, bike or use public transit at least one journey a week
- I will reduce my thermostat 1 C in winter and raise it 2 C in summer
- I will wash clothes in cold water and hang them to dry
- I will switch off my air conditioner while not at home
- I will walk, bike or use transit at least three journeys a week
- I will switch to a fuel efficient vehicle on my next vehicle purchase
- I will buy locally grown food from farmers or markets
- I will invite the city to plant a free tree in front of my house by calling (905)546-2489
- I will walk, bike or use transit exclusively to get to and from work
- I will get rid of my vehicle and save money
- I will plant a garden or join a community garden
- I will take my next vacation within 200 kms of my home
- I will join a local action group on climate change
GIVE YOUR CAR A VACATION
An annual HSR bus pass costs $852. In comparison, the Canadian Automobile Association estimates one car costs $10,000 a year.
PURCHASE LOCALLY GROWN FOOD
REDUCE ENERGY USE AT PEAK TIMES.
THERE IS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS.
Environment Hamilton is a non-profit citizens group that helps residents to protect and improve our environment. To help strengthen its voice, you are invited to become a member today.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
After a bit of welcome media fanfare, the Hamilton Climate Change canvassers hit the streets to deliver our beautiful brochure, round one in the campaign to encourage Hamiltonians to pledge their commitment to the climate. Follow-up to the brochure delivery will include a return visit to collect pledges and reward participants with their energy saving kits.
Hamilton Climate Challenge asks participants to pledge less use of cars and air conditioners TheSpec.com - News - Hamilton Climate Challenge asks participants to pledge less use of cars and air conditioners
By Eric McGuinness (Hamilton Spectator)
Environment Hamilton is offering homeowners an energy-saving kit worth $30 if they promise to cut energy use and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government cancelled the One-Tonne Challenge program before Al Gore convinced Canadians that climate change is a real threat.
Now it’s back in a made-in-Hamilton form without federal funding, and there’s no limit on the greenhouse gas tonnage you can cut.
Environment Hamilton — which is focusing its efforts on the climate change issue — today began sending yellow-shirted volunteers door to door inviting people to participate in its new Hamilton Climate Challenge.
Participants — starting in Corktown southeast of the downtown core — are asked to check off things they will commit to do, such as walking, biking or using buses at least once a week, washing clothes in cold water, lowering thermostats in winter and raising them in summer.
It’s a three-step pledge in which you can go all out and agree to get rid of your car, vacation within 200 kilometres of home and join a local action group on climate change.
But organizer Beatrice Ekoko doesn’t expect everyone to go that far — she’ll be happy if people agree at least to make a start.
Environment Hamilton spokesman Don McLean said the non-profit organization will also press city officials to do more to reduce vehicle emissions through actions such as banning drive-through restaurants and banks.
The Hamilton program is funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Hamilton Community Foundation. For more information or to volunteer, go to www.environmenthamilton.org.
The website lists 63 things you can do to fight climate change and offers a carbon calculator to figure out how much greenhouse gas your lifestyle produces. Ekoko says the Canadian average is over five tonnes per person per year.
Incentive to reduce energy use
Jul, 13 2007 - 8:00 AM
HAMILTON (AM900 CHML) - You may get a knock on the door over the next few weeks from a volunteer from Environment Hamilton, asking you to promise to cut your energy use.
They're offering a 30-dollar energy saving kit in exchange for pledging to reduce your consumption by committing to such things as walking, biking or taking the bus once a week, washing clothes in cold water, lowering thermostats in winter and raising them in summer.
The group is also pressing city officials to do more to reduce vehicle emissions through actions such as banning drive-thru restaurants and banks.
CHCH TV also carried a piece on the climate challenge on yesterday's newscasts.
CHML has a poll on their web site "Would you consider walking, biking or taking the bus to work at least once a week?" Poll found here
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Hamilton Climate Challenge
Your Community, Your Climate, Your Challenge
Thursday 9:30 am
Hamilton City Hall – Room 110
Environment Hamilton is launching the Hamilton Climate Challenge on Thursday, July 12. when we begin circulating a climate pledge in Hamilton neighbourhoods that invites residents to take specific steps to reduce their personal greenhouse gases emissions.
Global climate change caused by air pollution is also very evident locally. Hamilton has already had a dozen days with temperatures over 30 degrees centigrade and 22 days of smog advisories, and the summer has just gotten underway.
Cutting greenhouse gases is a responsibility for both individuals and governments. Environment Hamilton is encouraging residents both to do their part and to ask their political representatives to do likewise.
Residents who accept the challenge will receive an energy saving kit to help them achieve even more greenhouse gas reductions.
Environment Hamilton volunteers will kick off the door-to-door climate challenge in the Corktown neighbourhood after the media conference.
Media are invited to join us at 11 am at the front door of Corktown resident Sean Burak for a media and photo opportunity to photograph canvassing .
For more information, contact:
Saturday, July 7, 2007
The Durand Neighbourhood Association had their annual party in Durand Park today, and Environment Hamilton was there with some displays including Eat Local, and of course the Climate Change Challenge.
Here Climate Challenge staff Sara gets ready to play the CD map game - turns out the ubiquitous compact disc fits the scale on the map equal to a two kilometre radius - lay the CD on the map and see what is generally a walkable (or easily cycled) distance from the centre.
Put the CD on the location of your residence, and see what falls in the circle.
Looking for a new place to live? Check the location out on the map with a CD first and see what is within reach.
Transportation is by far the largest personal Green House Gas contributor to climate change, so not a bad place to start making changes.
The Hamilton Climate Change Challenge will soon be coming to Hamilton neighbourhoods to take GHG pledges to reduce your climate change footprint.
We insist on driving around in large metal containers, and we insist on having our clothes dry instantaneously, and we can't imagine wearing a sweater in the house even in deepest, darkest winter.
Although some will deny it and try to make you feel better about your role (oh the earth had a warming period followed by an mini ice-age during the medieval era. It's natural. You are not the cause," they'll say) the scientific consensus is in.
Undeniably, human activity spews greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere making climate change and its effects felt everywhere in the world. Yes kids. For once, we can say "We're all in this together."
However as Environment Hamilton's new climate change project manager I have the privilege of letting you in on a secret. Yes the problems are enormous , the predicament we are in is dire (increasingly so) but...we have the power to change they way we interact with the environment. And every single person can do something.
And that's exactly what I'm here to tell you. Your actions do count.
Hamilton Climate Challenge is going to help you on your merry environmentally-sound way. We have all kinds of ways to assist you in reducing your carbon footprint; (and a big footprint it is: an average Canadian stomps out 19 tonnes of co2 per year while a British or French person emits around half of that amount. Not so dainty!)
In the upcoming days, we'll be launching our canvass- to take place in Hamilton neighbourhoods July 12th 2007 ( following a press conference at City Hall). We'll be dropping of pledge forms in your letter boxes, and giving you a chance to look it over.
From little baby steps like hanging out you washing on the line and changing your light bulbs to tougher actions like leaving the car at home one journey a week, pledgers will have an opportunity to actually do something about the climate chaos issue as well as gain themselves some goodies for their efforts.
When we come back to pick up your pledge (or you can mail them into us) we will be loaded down with beautiful eat local maps that show you all the 50 spots in Hamilton where you can get local produce- as well as energy saving kits worth over $35 dollars each.
We will also come bearing our Environment Hamilton Newsletter with updates and information on how you can become more active around climate change, eat local, transit etc issues.
Please keep checking back to get the most recent news and also ideas, tools and things you can do to make Hamilton a life sustaining community.
Cheers to a habitable world!
Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko