Archive for ◊ July, 2010 ◊

• Thursday, July 29th, 2010
backyard chickens

Melissa Pinsonneault-Craig at City Hall

This is a great step forward for sustainability in Montreal.

Bravo to Research Collective in Sustainable Landscaping and Urban Agriculture for pushing this issue forward and demanding a sensible, open-minded approach. On Wednesday, they held a press conference and a gave a free course on “Hen 101″ in front of City Hall!

Sign the petition demanding an open hearing on the issue of allowing backyard hens (version francais).

Source: Montreal Gazette

Chickens have been banned in Montreal residences since 1966. Yesterday, the environmental sustainability group CRAPAUD (Collectif en Amenagement Paysager et en Agriculture Urbaine Durable) launched a petition asking the city to hold a public consultation on the issue, and ultimately overturn the ban and allow people to keep chickens for egg production.

“We want to convey a new image to the public on what it means to keep chickens,” said the group’s spokesperson, Olivier Moreau. “We’re not saying everyone should have a chicken, but people who want to and who can do it properly should be able to.”

As a hen rested quietly on her arm, Melissa Pinsonneault-Craig, a farmer from Ormstown, spoke about the advantages of keeping the feathered creatures.

“You get fresh eggs every morning and they’re so low maintenance,” she said. “You can use vegetable scraps left over from your own meals to feed them, and their defecation can be used as fertilizer.”

As for concerns about the smell, Moreau compares a coop to a cat’s litter box.

“Obviously, if you don’t clean it properly, it’ll smell,” he said. “But in general they’re very easy to keep.”

A full-grown chicken costs about $10, and building a coop requires little more than some chicken wire and wood.

“They’re low maintenance, you can leave them food and water and they will be fine for a few days,” Moreau said.

“They’re very independent. It’s not like having a dog.”

Hens will produce unfertilized eggs without a rooster, so there’s no need to buy both a male and female, Pinsonneault-Craig said.

“This is a big advantage, because hens are very quiet,” she said. “It’s a common misconception that you need to have both.”

Several cities in Canada and the United States allow people to keep chickens for the purpose of egg production at their homes.

Vancouver, Niagara Falls, Ont., Victoria, Los Angeles and New York are among the largest cities that allow it.

• Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Do you know where your oil and gasoline comes from? I didn’t until reading about a pipeline that runs from Portland, Maine to Montreal. It was created during WW2 to supply the province’s factories with oil while German U-boats patrolled the St. Lawrence seaway. It still provides Quebec with oil today.

Now, however, there is a movement to reverse the flow of oil in order to export Alberta tar-sands oil to the U.S. Communities in the Eastern townships, led by Bloc Quebecois, are protesting this plan and arguing that Quebec should not support the “dirty” business of tar-sands oil extraction.

While that is a noble cause, it doesn’t make sense. If the oil doesn’t go through Quebec, that “dirty” oil will find its way to hungry consumers in the U.S.  some other way. Besides, if you’re a reader of this Blog, you know that the real solution is to reduce demand for oil and gasoline while developing local and sustainable sources of energy for our transportation needs.

By the way, Montreal gets most of it’s oil from three foreign countries, according to the Gazette article below: Algeria, Angola and the United Kingdom. That would make me uncomfortable if I depended on oil (which we all do). Algeria and Angola are both politically unstable while the UK’s oil supply is way past its peak year of 1999 and they already import oil just to send it over to us.

This presents a challenging political decision for the Liberals: cave in to local NIMBY pressure or secure longer-term sources of oil from a reliable, albeit dirty, source in Alberta. In this light, the government’s sustainability plans should be a larger priority.

Source: Montreal Gazette

Enbridge Inc. of Calgary, in partnership with Montreal Pipe Line, has put forward a proposal to reverse the flow direction in the 18-inch pipe in order to start exporting Alberta oil-sands crude to Portland and points beyond. The oil-sands crude, or bitumen crude, would arrive in Montreal by pipeline via transfer point in Sarnia, Ont., and be diverted in Montreal into the pipeline to Portland.

In Quebec, the provincial Parti Québécois and federal Bloc Québécois have jumped on Enbridge’s Trailbreaker project, as the flow-reversal project is called, and begun to mobilize political opposition at the municipal level.

The two political parties say Quebec should think twice about aiding the conveyance of oil-sands oil; at the very least, they say, the government of Quebec should hold public environmental hearings on the proposal.

Opponents of the Trailbreaker project say they fear the reversal of flow along the line of 18-inch pipe will create higher risks of leakage. But experts say flow direction doesn’t really matter, given that the pipes in question are fusion-welded, not connected by male-and-female sleeving like washer-dryer exhaust pipes.

Opponents also say higher pump pressures will be required to move heavier bitumen crude and the 60-year-old 18-inch pipe might not be able to withstand higher pressures.

• Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

This event looks to be in French only.

urban agriculture conference

Presented by Toad in collaboration with the Regional Conference Elected officials, the City of Montreal and the Faculty of Sciences and the Institute of Environmental Sciences at UQAM.

WHEN: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 in the Grand Hall at 200 Rue Sherbrooke O;
- 5PM Opening Reception – free entry
- On the menu: wine, appetizers and games
- 6:30 p.m. Opening Conference – Free entrance – heart of the Amphitheatre Science UQAM
More info:


  • Towards green cities and nurturing: Prospects and elsewhere
  • Patron of the event in Earth City

* Louise Vandelac (sociologist, professor, activist) *
* Vikram Batt (McGill University) *
* Christopher Bryant (University of Montreal) *
* Eric Duchemin (University of Quebec at Montreal) *
* Moderator: Anne-Marie Legault (project manager at the Regional Conference the Chosen) *

This conference will gain an overview on the practice of Urban Agriculture in Montreal and around the world. Gardening class programs to community gardens, through the agricultural enterprises, institutional and home gardening, this presentation will report on the multifunctionality of agriculture in urban areas while considering the constraints and opportunities that are offered today to transform our cities and towns towards a green future.

Guest speakers will help us understand the magnitude and theoretical understanding of this growing movement here in Montrealand elsewhere.

• Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Montreal has long been a stronghold of Bicycle use, but it could be stronger. In Amsterdam, more citizens use bikes than cars. Nearly 30 percent of Dutch commuters always travel by bicycle, and an additional 40 percent sometimes bike to work (Source, pdf). Montrealers use bikes less than 2% of the time.

Public policies that make biking more attractive are:

  1. dedicated bike paths
  2. dedicated parking for bikes
  3. full integration with public transportation
  4. education of motorists
  5. the high cost of motoring through taxes, parking fees etc.

Potato-BicycleSource: SustainaBlog

The bicycle has many attractions as a form of personal transportation. It alleviates congestion, lowers air pollution, reduces obesity, increases physical fitness, does not emit climate-disrupting carbon dioxide, and is priced within the reach of the billions of people who cannot afford a car. Bicycles increase mobility while reducing congestion and the area of land paved over. Six bicycles can typically fit into the road space used by one car. For parking, the advantage is even greater, with 20 bicycles occupying the space required to park a car.

Few methods of reducing carbon emissions are as effective as substituting a bicycle for a car on short trips. A bicycle is a marvel of engineering efficiency, one where an investment in 22 pounds of metal and rubber boosts the efficiency of individual mobility by a factor of three. On my bike I estimate that I get easily 7 miles per potato. An automobile, which requires at least a ton of material to transport one person, is extraordinarily inefficient by comparison.

The bicycle is not only a flexible means of transportation; it is ideal in restoring a balance between caloric intake and expenditure. Regular exercise of the sort provided by cycling to work reduces cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and arthritis, and it strengthens the immune system.

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• Wednesday, July 07th, 2010

I seem to be on an anti-corporate rant this week. However, I thought that this article from Chris Hedges nicely summarizes why we are interested in sustainability. It is the same reason why we are drawn to search for solutions to a life of products and services that corporations tell us are convenient and comfortable. There’s something wrong with that life: nature is missing and this article explains it well.

Source: Common Dreams

Defy nature and it obliterates the human species. The more we divorce ourselves from nature, the more we permit the natural world to be exploited and polluted by corporations for profit, the more estranged we become from the essence of life. Corporate systems, which grow our food and ship it across country in trucks, which drill deep into the ocean to extract diminishing fossil fuels and send container ships to bring us piles of electronics and cloths from China, have created fragile, unsustainable man-made infrastructures that will collapse. Corporations have, at the same time, destroyed sustainable local communities. We do not know how to grow our own food. We do not know how to make our own clothes. We are helpless appendages of the corporate state. We are fooled by virtual mirages into mistaking the busy, corporate hives of human activity and the salacious images and gossip that clog our minds as real. The natural world, the real world, on which our life depends, is walled off from view as it is systematically slaughtered. The oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico is one assault. There are thousands more, including the coal-burning power plants dumping gases into our atmosphere that are largely unseen. Left unchecked, this arrogant defiance of nature will kill us.

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• Monday, July 05th, 2010

Understanding the natural alternatives to corporate medicine is essential for sustainability. Governments want to control and restrict our access to natural products like soap, vitamins, essential oils, and herbs to make us dependent on pharmaceuticals. For more on this, see Codex Alimentarius below, a documentary narrated by Judi Dench.

Pharmaceutical remedies have their secrets in plants, of which we are excluded from knowing about. Let’s reconnect to the secret medicinal properties of plants, not inside a doctor’s office or laboratory, but outside in the environment of a yard, wildlife habitat, where the plant lives. We will prepare and learn about the origins of medicine and the secrets of plant healing from what is growing live.

WHERE?? **745 Rue Gratton (Du Collège metro + 8 minutes walk)

WHEN?? starting from July 4th, for the whole month of July 2010. Harvest of motherwort (leonurus cardiaca) limited to July 4th, 5th 6th 2010. time to be determined with participants

WHAT?? All of July, yarrow, lemon balm and other plants will be made into herbal tea, tinctures and more…

Cost: 10 – 30$ sliding scale + cost of alcohol and containers or you can also bring your own alcohol and containers (alcohol: vodka, gin, sambuka, or any hard liquor, that is 40 proof)

For more information and to reserve your place, call or email Nicole Fournier, 514-747-9857

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