Archive for ◊ January, 2009 ◊

• Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Where there is a problem, there is an opportunity…Montreal finished at the bottom of the list behind Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Quebec City, Ottawa and Halifax.

Via: Huff Strategy

Corporate Knights Magazine unveiled the third-annual Corporate Knights Most Sustainable Cities in Canada

The top cities in the 2009 list. The comprehensive ranking identifies Canadian cities whose practices leave the smallest environmental footprint possible and create a healthy, thriving population. Corporate Knights Sustainable Cities Ranking are as follows:

Large city category: Edmonton, AB
Medium city category: Halifax, NS
Small city category: Yellowknife, NT

Montreal’s (5.96) ambitious GHG reduction target is complemented by the city’s innovative “Bixi” bike share program and a plan to double its network of bike paths by 2014. Montreal’s 2009 budget allocated a record $322 million to accessible, energy-efficient public transit. Host to over 32 public arts events last year, the largest community garden network in the country, and the fewest fast food stores per capita of all cities, Montreal’s top score was in the Social Well-being category.

Opportunity to improve: Montreal struggled in the Ecological Integrity category with high rates of water use and poor air quality. High unemployment rates aided to a poor showing in Economic Security.

• Friday, January 30th, 2009

In this era of financial bailouts for banks and car makers, it seems only fitting that in Quebec we get a bailout for the Recyclers. The response from the man in charge is staggeringly similar to the ones in charge of the banks: “We had NO idea this was coming!” So far, the recyclables market has fallen 80%.

Unfortunately, all these bailouts only serve to prop up a failed, or failing, business model. Time will tell if the market for recycled materials will come back. This leads me to believe that the Greens running this program are no better equipped to lead in the future than the old, mentally lazy farts in auto industry.

Via: CBC News

Bottles and paper products sit on a Montreal sidewalk waiting to get picked up. The Quebec government’s new plan to help the province’s recycling companies doesn’t do enough to sort out the major problems facing the industry, critics say.

Faced with a collapsing market in China and few interested buyers on the horizon, the 38 centres that sort and sell recycled material in Quebec are stockpiling their products.

The price of paper on the world markets in December was about one-fifth its value in October.

“Nobody could have seen this dramatic fall coming,” said Quebec Environment Minister Line Beauchamp.

Beauchamp announced a three-point plan to help the industry, including:

  • Loan guarantees for sorting centres.
  • A $4.8 million fund to help the companies update their facilities and improve the quality of their products.
  • Permission for municipalities to reopen their contracts with recycling companies.

However, the government’s plan does not include the direct financial aid the industry was asking for.

Jean-Guy Doucet said the loan guarantees would only keep his sorting centre in Trois-Rivières afloat for a short time.

“We will perhaps use the loans to give us a month or two more,” said Doucet, who is president of Récuperation Mauricie.

• Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

The act of idling – leaving the car engine running when there is no point in doing so – is terrible wasteful and polluting. Unfortunately the dear inhabitants of “La Belle Provence” don’t give a damn.

Despite by-laws established in Westmount, NDG and the city of Montreal, the residents and the police don’t care to turn off their engines…

Via: The Monitor

In early 2006, the City of Montreal adopted the Strategic plan for sustainable development by-law, which included an action to ”eliminate unnecessary vehicle idling” through, among other things, a public awareness campaign. The borough of CDN-NDG subsequently adopted the by-law to support the city’s initiative. Since that by-law was passed, borough residents might recall a notice in the July 2008 NDG-CDN Eco-Quartier newsletter, reminding them that a ”green patroller” employed by the City of Montreal would be out telling people about the harmful effects of car-idling. The newsletter warned its readers not to ”get caught by our patroller with your engine idling”. More recently, you might remember having seen television ads on local TV channels, in which a passer-by steps into a parked car where the driver sits oblivious to the idling of his engine. The passer-by turns off the engine and pats the astonished driver on the leg before climbing out, as the tag line “were you waiting for someone to do it for you?” scrolls across the screen.


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• Monday, January 26th, 2009

A discussion about free online music with the band Prussia who just released a free online album.

Via: Deep Cutz

“I think about a time when entertainment, storytelling, and music was shared freely, often ceremonial, with the whole community benefiting from the shared experience. Our reality is evolving at an increasingly rapid pace. I think that as some of us begin to move into a free society we project some of those attributes in our actions. I think it’s safe to say that other artists who share their work freely have similar intentions. We aren’t interested in a 20th century capitalist model. I think that the music business, as with most of what we think of as “business”, (i.e. corporate/sweatshop models) is naturally going to struggle as people in the society demand accountability and the right to live with the principals of mutual aid. Sure, there’s no short term profit, which is why the business isn’t giving anything away, but healthy communities that freely share information and resources are the only way we can have sustainable “profits”.

If there’s a line that is being crossed here, its the line separating old and new, slavery and freedom, extinction model vs. evolution model. That’s what is happening with wikipedia, online social networks, urban gardening, free art, and the reemergence of psychedelics. We are creating the world that we’d rather live in. Whether or not we can hold it together long enough to get to the promised land depends on how quickly we decide to move away from old belief systems and into a more holistic consciousness.”

• Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

This is a really cool idea. Maybe they can help us organize a development in the Montreal area.

Via: Carbon Busters

Carbon Busters® is excited to announce the design and development of the first ever Carbon Busters® village, a zero carbon sustainable community just outside the City of Edmonton. The intent is to design and develop a pilot sustainable community with a zero carbon environmental impact that will showcase innovative green systems for water, grey water, waste treatment, power generation and green living practices with a focus on research and education for sustainable development. A number of design charrettes have been planned for the coming months that aim to achieve best practice for the village.

With the help of sustainable building & community experts from six countries, and specialists from provincial and municipal departments, Carbon Busters has developed a truly cutting-edge sustainable community design. Some of the features include:

• 256 zero carbon buildings
• Solar heating, solar hot water and solar electrical systems
• Community utility grid-tied wind power
• Early Childhood to Grade 12 sustainable school
• Community food production infrastructure
• Innovative systems for water conservation
• Community green transportation system

• Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

A local group on Montreal investors, Market Exchange, wants to finance a next generation of businesses that are sustainable. Market Exchange has created a web site called “Challenge Your World” that will host a contest to find the best ideas and offer financing to develop them. They also have a Blog.

How do you know if your idea qualifies for help and financing? According to their web site, the idea must provide:

  1. a positive impact on people
  2. a positive net impact on the environment
  3. strong financial potential

This is simillar to the “triple bottom line” ideal put forward by proponents of sustainable development. It is great to see people who have money to invest promoting this type of “awakened” ventures — whether they be for-profit or not-for-profit. I have an idea of my own, ShareFair, which I am birthing in 2009.

• Friday, January 09th, 2009

This seems like an idea designed to save a building type that is doomed: energy intensive skyscrapers. The projection referenced below that 80% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050 is based on the assumption of a steady increase in the production and consumption of oil. In other words, no recognition of Peak Oil.

The reality will be quite different which will make high-rises scary places to live/work in the future (heck, they already are scary!). Putting gardens inside will make them more human friendly and sustainable, but the energy required to transport large quantities of soil and water upward is a fanciful idea that will be laughed at in the future — just like the notion that energy resources on the planet are infinitely available to us.

Via: Urban Neighborhood

…A couple of months ago, a dedicated modeler came up with a collection of ’sky farms’ to be used in the game [SimCity] and I thought, what a cool idea–it would be great to do this in real life. Now it appears that other architects and engineers are working on projects of this type.
In the not so distant future, it is predicted that as much as 80% of the world’s population will live in urban areas and, by 2050, the population of the world will increase by as many as 3 billion people. Three billion people require a fair bit of food and current farming practices are unlikely to be able to provide the needed supply. Dr Dickson Despommier suggests Vertical Farms, which are at first a radical idea more suited to science fiction, but, after consideration, is not all that radical at all. After all, we have been growing vegetables under green houses for a long time.
Dr. Dickson Despommier’s Vertical Farm website is a clearing house for vertical farm designs and he outlines his vision for what urban farming can and should be. What is new is the urgent need to scale up this technology to accommodate another 3 billion people. An entirely new approach to indoor farming must be invented, employing cutting edge technologies. The Vertical Farm must be efficient (cheap to construct and safe to operate).
Concept Diagrams
Vertical farms, many stories high, will be situated in the heart of the world’s urban centers. If successfully implemented, they offer the promise of urban renewal, sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply (year-round crop production), and the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming.
Dr. Despommier goes on to outline multiple advantages to this new vision for farming; things like year round crop production (great for Canada), elimination of herbicides and pesticides, and a reduction in agricultural run off as most vertical farm systems have waste water reclamation systems built in. Not to mention a number of other great points.
Adding a grocery store to the ground floor could eliminate shipping costs for all produce and enable these stores to sell produce that is truly fresh, they wouldn’t even have to pick the vegetables prematurely to make them transportable.

The site even has a proposal for Toronto…
Concept Drawing 2
• Tuesday, January 06th, 2009

Sounds like a great evening! January 20th, 7-9PM at the Masion Verte Coop (5785 Sherbrooke West in N.D.G.)

From Maison Verte:

BOOK LAUNCH: Toolbox for Sustainable City Living: A do-it-ourselves Guide by Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew (South End Press, 2008).

Join author Scott Kellogg in a discussion on urban ecological survival skills. Explore the cross-section of permaculture and social activism including the design of tools and techniques used to secure people’s access to life’s basic necessities: food, water security, shelter, waste management and energy production.

These systems are simple, affordable and are built from salvaged, waste and recycled materials.

They include:

  • Soil building and asphalt removal
  • Bioremediation (cleaning contaminated soils using plants, fungi and biological processes)
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Aquaculture (ponds, plants, fish and algae)
  • Passive solar and bicycle windmills
  • Biogas and veggie oil biofuels
  • Natural construction methods (straw bale, clay woodchip)
  • Do-It-Yourself air purification


Scott Kellogg is a co-founder of the Rhizome Collective (Austin, Texas), and the director of its sustainability program. A teacher, activist, ecological designer and father, he divides his time between Texas, and the Albany Free School Community in Albany, New York. Scott is currently earning a Masters in Environmental Science from Johns Hopkins University.

• Monday, January 05th, 2009

The Montreal Permaculture Guild is starting it’s winter MUSE course this Wednesday at 530PM.

The course, “is an Urban Sustainability course designed to empower its students with skills and knowledge derived from the many burgeoning green movements around the globe.”

It is free and open to the public. Location: 2 blocks west of the Vendome Metro station in N.D.G.

For more information, see their web site.

• Friday, January 02nd, 2009

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)Community Supported Agriculture offers average urban consumers the opportunity to purchase fresh, local and often organic fruits, vegetables and meats directly from farmers.

Here’s how it works: You contract with a CSA farmer to deliver a small fraction of what they produce seasonally. The farm delivers the fresh produce to a central location, or in some cases, directly to your home.

The benefits are that you get fresh food directly from a farmer who you can meet and talk to, and the farm gets to sell at a higher profit margin while developing consumer relationships. The local community supports sustainable family farms. Everybody wins (except the big supermarkets)!

In the Montreal area, there are about 90 farms that participate in CSA programs. To find a CSA farmer that serves your neighborhood in Montreal, visit this page (en francais).

To learn more about CSA’s in Quebec visit: Equiterre

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