Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hamilton Climate Challenge- We're Everywhere

A quick thanks to Julia Kolleck and Juby Lee for having let us do a short presentation on the 23rd August at their vounteer appreciation night( held at the Montessori school in Dundas).
I got 2 callers asking to volunteer because of that.
Thanks to my daughters who came out with me to help flyer our Dundas neighbourhood. Now we need volunteers to come out and help deliver energy saving kits please!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Climate Canvass Update

Climate Change canvass at the Cactus festival was a success, I’m happy to report- and we have Joanna Chapman to thank for the opportunity. We put up a table outside her store front (Chapman Books) in Dundas and we were able to award pledges by moving over one hundred energy saving Union gas kits.

Had a few interesting conversations with people (that will be more details in a later ‘canvass results).

People said they were doing many of the pledges in the brochure; others said they wished there were pledges like ‘get a rain barrel’ or don’t use pesticides. Two people who cycle said they would like to see Hamilton go with 2 way roads (Are you listening City Council?!)

Someone thought that clothes washed in cold water are unhygienic and dirty!

Perhaps the toughest most difficult obstacle to climate action remains the automobile. There is nothing more challenging- frankly that’s were people stumble the most. “Too hard” “I need to get to work” “I feel safe in the car” “The streets are ugly to walk along”- Again Council listen up! People need incentives to get out of their cars. They want beautiful streets.

More later!


Monday, August 20, 2007

Top idea!

Rooftop garden rooted
Nursing home plants cheer up highrise residents, extend life of roof

The Hamilton Spectator
GRIMSBY (Aug 20, 2007)

It's going to cost more than a half a million dollars -- but what a garden it will be when it's done.

Shalom Manor and Shalom Gardens, a linked Dutch-Christian nursing home and assisted-living facility, is going green, with a rooftop revamp.

The facility has decided to transform its bland grey asphalt roof into a lush, year-round scenic piece of nature, with more than 3,000 square metres of garden.

Board chair Joanne van Dijk said the project has practical as well as aesthetic and therapeutic value.

"If you're room-bound, then somehow it's much nicer to look at the gardens than look at the roof," she explained.

The practical side comes in when it comes to saving on heating and air-conditioning costs, by absorbing water that would have otherwise been drained off into the sewer, and extending the life of the roof.

"The roof usually (lasts) 20 years, but now we're hoping it's 40 years," van Dijk said.

Before planting, several layers of protection have to be placed on top of the roof. The plants, which include sedums, tall grass and herbs, are then planted on top.

The garden will be visible to about 50 per cent of the 180 units at the facilities.

Van Dijk said the idea was floated last fall and was received with the board's unanimous approval when it was voted on.

"We're doing it for our parents (generation) ... but maybe we're doing it for ourselves.

"Maybe 20 years from now we'll be here and maybe we'd rather look at a green roof," she said.

The first phase of the project started last week, with plants being installed on 240 square metres of the roof, at a cost of about $42,000.

The next phase, which will cover 2,985 square metres of roof, will cost about $500,000 and is due to get under way next year.

The board paid for the first phase, but is hoping to get the money for the second phase through grants and fundraising.

A small patch of older roof won't be done until that portion of the roof itself is eventually replaced in a few years.

Although not everyone will be able to enjoy the view when it's done, residents at the facility are receptive to the project, despite the high cost.

"It's good for the environment, so it's important," said Catharine Zwier, 70, who has a unit that does not face the rooftop garden.

"I think it's going to pay for itself."

Tena Batterink, who lives with her husband Leo in an apartment overlooking the roof, said the plants are a welcome addition to the landscape.

"It makes the place a lot nicer."

Greening rooftops is becoming more common, as energy costs and environmental consciousness both rise.

The city of Waterloo went green on the rooftop of its city centre as part of a test project approved in 2005, and the new Durham Consolidated Courthouse, scheduled to have started construction in June, will also be greening part of its roof.

[Photo: Rooftop garden at 401 Richmond in Toronto ON - part of the extensive rooftop garden there includes a deck with large planters, the part shown here is a passive area with low growing vegetation - the City of Toronto has a good site on Green Roofs here]

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Every drop counts!

comments; someone emailed in with a suggestion about the pledges on the brochure;

"I think it would be a good idea to include a water barrel on the list of pledges.

We use one, and have found it saves us quite a bit of water when we water the garden." Ross

Thanks for the tip Ross. And you'll be pleased to know that we are offering a rainbarrel making workshop in the fall!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Report from the trenches; Climate change canvass

To date we have delivered and received approximately 150 Kits and pledges. This number may not seem substantial, but with the limited resources available to the project, including a serious lack of volunteers, transportation and the added pressure of the summer heat, I would say that it is definitely a start.

The most frustrating thing for me, as a summer student, working full-time on this project is the potential benefit that this campaign could produce for Hamilton, potential that is currently going to waste. I have been out canvassing the streets everyday and I see how Hamiltonians react to Environment Hamilton knocking on their door: they thank us for making the effort, for pounding the pavement and physically bringing the issues to their doorstep.

The reactions are extremely positive and supportive, and this is where my frustrations lie: we just don't have enough volunteers to get to more houses. If we had even ten more people than we have today we could canvas two whole neighbourhoods at once!
"they thank us for making the effort, for pounding the pavement and physically bringing the issues to their doorstep"

Canvassing can be an intimidating job, I myself was only new to the role last summer when I worked full-time on the Transit-Survey in the North End of Hamilton. But, speaking from experience, when all you are doing is asking for people to consider simple lifestyle changes, changes in the daily lives of Hamiltonians that will ultimately benefit themselves financially and ethically, and giving away free stuff in return, you will not get turned away.

This phase of the project is slowly coming to an end, with only two full weeks of daily canvassing left, we want to make those final days count. To do this we are launching a canvassing blitz so to speak, to really spread the word to as many people as we can, I am challenging YOU, to take some time in the next two weeks and come and join our team of volunteers.

We need to prove to Hamilton that it is Our Climate, Our Community, and Our Challenge!

Heather Alexander

Friday, August 10, 2007


Just in case you didn't know!

Environment Hamilton is a non-profit citizens group working to improve the health of the air, water and natural features in Canada’s most famous steel town.

We were born in 2001 from the efforts of a small group of east-end residents who took court action to force the cleanup of the Rennie Street dump which was leaking toxic chemicals into a local creek.

Today, we approach other environment projects with the same philosophy – involve residents in solving our industrial city’s environmental problems to work for a clean, healthy and sustainable city.

(905) 549-0900

What we’ve done

A sampling of more than 20 projects carried out by Environment Hamilton since 2001:

Stack Watch: Helping residents identify smokestacks that may be breaking the law with their emissions including what to look for and how to report possible violations.
Trees Count: Volunteer-driven inventory of trees in several city neighbourhoods that collects over 30 pieces of information per tree to reveal the health (or illness) of the urban forest.

Floating Classroom: Using a boat in Hamilton Harbour to teach residents how to spot harbour pollution and what to do to stop it.

Transit Users Group: Working to improve the HSR and DARTS by keeping fares down and increasing services.

Tonnes for Trees: Encouraging residents to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change and rewarding them with trees and other green prizes.

Hamilton Fruit Tree Project: Volunteers pick unused fruit in the backyards of willing residents and share this urban harvest with property owners, volunteers, food banks and social service agencies.

Public forums
: We answer environmental questions from individuals and host frequent workshops, meetings and public forums on issues such as sprawl, incineration, land use planning and environmental law. We frequently use the Environmental Bill of Rights and other legal tools to help residents protect or improve their environment.

Tell us about it

What are the biggest environmental problems in your neighbourhood?
We can help. Call our hotline 905-549-0900.

2007 Projects of Environment Hamilton

Environmental Watchdog: Our permanent activity is to be the voice of the environment in Hamilton, responding to residents, pushing governments, and identifying both threats to our environment and opportunities to do something positive about them. That includes protecting local green space, providing information, and tackling global environmental issues.

Climate Change: We are going door-to-door asking people to pledge various actions to reduce their greenhouse gases and we are giving them a free home energy kit as a reward. We are also doing dozens of free screenings of the Oscar-winning Al Gore film “An Inconvenient Truth”. We follow each screening with a group discussion, and a call to action in the face of dire predictions about climate change. We are also urging City Hall to take similar actions.
Assisting North Hamilton Neighbourhoods: Now in its third year, this project has achieved victories such as getting stacks tested at a new bio-diesel plant, squeezing compensation out of a company that damaged homes with its demolition, greatly reducing waste at a local school, and fostering community leadership by teaching residents how to take action on environmental concerns.

Eat Local: By encouraging Hamiltonians to eat locally produced food (and even grow some), this project supports the local economy, combats global climate change and opens the door to fresh and healthy eating. Our colourful “Buy Local, Buy Fresh” map profiles over 50 local farms and outlets.


Everything we do has a place for volunteers – the lifeblood of our organization. Environment Hamilton strives to create a strong, collective environmental voice that lets you get hands-on action in the environmental trenches.

We also need you to join us as a member. Only part of Environment Hamilton’s work is funded by foundations and that doesn’t include challenging governments or polluters or much of the other advocacy work we do. Indeed, we have forgone the benefits of charitable status precisely because we see the necessity of taking strong positions on behalf of the environment. Funding for those battles has to come without strings attached – from our members.

Please join us in the battle for a clean and healthy environment.

Join Environment Hamilton
Name ..................................................................................... Regular $25________
Address.................................................................................. Student/unwaged $15________
Postal Code………………... Phone........................................ Donation________
Email address.......................................................................... TOTAL________
I’m interested in being a volunteer: YES___ NO ____
1130 Barton Street East, Suite 207, Hamilton L9H 7P9 – (905) 549-0900

Black out day

Take part in Voluntary Blackout Day

Help us show Ontario that Hamilton is up to the challenge!

HAMILTON, ON – August 9, 2007 – Hamilton’s Mayor Fred Eisenberger along with Horizon Utilities is challenging Hamilton residents and businesses to help reduce energy consumption in Hamilton between the hours of 12:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 14 in response to the City of Woodstock’s Voluntary Blackout Day Challenge. This friendly invitation urges Ontario municipalities to reduce consumption by four per cent on the anniversary of the 2003 blackout. The goal is to ease the overwhelming demand on Ontario’s electricity supply while ultimately heightening awareness about conservation measures we can all use every day to save energy and money.

“If we all do our part to reduce energy use, I'm confident we will see a significant reduction in Hamilton's energy consumption on August 14th,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

“Horizon Utilities and powerWISE® are pleased to see the City of Hamilton take on this challenge to help encourage a culture of energy conservation,” said Horizon Utilities’ spokesperson, Sandy Manners. “Achieving the four per cent reduction is as easy as turning off your central air conditioner for one hour or hanging a load of washing outside to dry instead of putting your clothes in the dryer.”

Horizon Utilities offers the following tips to help residents and businesses reduce their energy consumption on Tuesday … and every day.
  • Turn your air conditioner off between noon and 8:00 p.m. if possible.
  • Pre-cool your facility before noon on August 14 to participate in the challenge.
  • If it is necessary to use air conditioning, set the temperature at 25 degrees C or higher.
  • Keep draperies and shades drawn to reduce any additional air conditioner & fan energy consumption
  • Turn off lights, computers, stereos and TVs when you're not using them;
  • Replace incandescent with fluorescent lights
  • Run your dishwasher, washer and dryer in the morning or after 8:00 p.m.
  • Take the stairs; instead of the elevator. You'll save energy and get a little exercise to boot;
  • Cook outdoors and enjoy your meal on the patio or deck;
  • Dry clothes outdoors. They smell wonderful!
“The City of Hamilton already takes part in voluntarily reducing energy consumption in our corporate facilities during smog days or during hot weather periods when the electricity system is constrained,” said Scott Stewart, General Manager of the Public Works Department. “On August 14, we will go the extra mile to contribute to the four per cent target.”

Hamilton’s energy consumption will be monitored and evaluated by Horizon Utilities and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

For more energy conservation tips, please visit www.horizonutilities.com www.powerwise.ca

Saturday, August 4, 2007

74 megawatt difference...cool

A shocking turnaround
We're using less power; thermostats up, lights off

The Hamilton Spectator, (Aug 4, 2007)

The heat is on, but Hamiltonians are less hooked on hydro this summer.

The Hammer has sweltered though 18 days with temperatures above 30 C so far this summer.

In 2006 there were 15 days that hot before Aug. 3.

Despite the heat, Hamilton area energy consumption dropped from a high of 1,223 megawatts in 2006 to this year's peak of 1,149 megawatts, set Thursday.

That 74-megawatt difference is enough to provide electricity to another 50,000 homes.

It also suggests the conservation message is getting through.

"We are noticing this summer, compared to last year, energy conservation and the environment are on people's mind more," said Lisa Pearson, spokesperson for Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator.

The story is the same across the province. Ontario's all-time record for electricity demand was set last year on Aug. 1, when users powered through 27,005 megawatts. That record hasn't been cracked so far.

Even in this week's heat wave, usage peaked at 25,584 megawatts.

Dean Ramacieri used to crank the air conditioning to a chilly 17 C in his southwest Hamilton home.

Today, he leaves it between 23 C and 25 C. He even turns it off as soon as his house cools down.

He credits the August 2003 blackout in Ontario for sparking the change.

"I think it was a wake up sign for a lot of people," he said.

Yesterday, the temperature soared to 33 C, but peak average demand for Ontario was 24,642 megawatts.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


CATCH News – August 2, 2007
Peak oil response still in limbo
A staff report on peak oil that was supposed to take three weeks has still not appeared 15 months later. In the meantime, industry and business think tanks are warning of shortages and $100-a-barrel oil prices by the end of next year.
City councillors received a report on peak oil from consultant Richard Gilbert in April 2006 which argued that gasoline prices are likely to reach $4 a litre in a little more than a decade and the city should redo all its plans to put energy first. As a first step, he recommended a follow-up to his initial study.
“First of all you need to do a much better report than I’ve done,” he told councillors, explaining that he was only asked to provide a brief overview of the issue and its implications and a more detailed report “can be done in four months or so.”
In response, councillors unanimously instructed staff to “consider a Terms of Reference and cost analysis for a follow-up report” by mid-May 2006. But the report was not presented and even the instruction to produce it disappeared in the bureaucracy – a fact noted in a CATCH review last November.
An Environment Hamilton climate change report in February recommended proceeding with the follow-up peak oil report, and councillor Brian McHattie took the opportunity to again request the staff report – while carefully avoiding assigning blame for its disappearance.
“There was a request for a draft terms of reference to come back to committee on the phase two report,” he recalled from the April 2006 meeting. “And from my understanding, between the committee of the whole discussion and it going to council, there was some changes in the recommendations, and …the draft terms of reference was lost in some way in the wording.”
McHattie’s motion to again request the staff report was approved unanimously, but has not yet generated anything. As of the most recent meeting of the committee of the whole in early July, it was the oldest item on the outstanding business list, but no deadline for delivery is provided.
Another part of the April 2006 council resolution asked for a staff report on strategies to reduce energy use. It was referred to the public works committee for a report in June 2006. That deadline was then delayed a full year to June of this year, when it was again put off and is now due on September 17.
In the meantime, oil prices have climbed to record levels and discussion about the timing of peak oil and its implications have moved to the mainstream media and business community.
A CIBC World Markets Inc report released on July 18 predicts that $100-a-barrel oil will arrive by the fourth quarter of 2008 as a result of declining exports from OPEC and Mexico. The latter’s production has fallen 25 percent since 2005 and appears likely to be down twice that amount by the end of next year.
The analysis followed a report from the International Energy Agency warning of a looking oil supply crisis..
"Oil looks extremely tight and the world is facing a supply crunch over the next five years," said the IEA’s latest report released a week before the CIBC report, leading the editors of the Financial Times to conclude that “oil prices approaching $100/barrel, until recently dismissed as the industry's Utopia, now look like a dead certainty over the next few years.”
Hamilton’s council commissioned the Gilbert study on peak oil in June 2005 at the request of councillors. The report was delivered to staff in October of that year but its release was delayed for more than six months, despite repeated requests from then Flamborough councillor Dave Braden who clashed with senior staff in January 2006. Braden was told at that time that the report had been returned to Gilbert for changes, but found out differently when he called Gilbert directly.
When the report was presented to council in April of last year, Hamilton was only the second municipality in Canada to have requested an analysis of the implications of peak oil. Similar steps have now been taken by a number of US cities including San Francisco, Portland, Denver, and the Southern California Association of Governments.

CATCH (Citizens at City Hall) updates use transcripts and/or public documents to highlight information about Hamilton civic affairs that is not generally available in the mass media. Detailed reports of City Hall meetings can be reviewed at www.hamiltoncatch.org. You can receive all CATCH free updates by sending an email to info@HamiltonCATCH.org.