Posts Tagged ‘enviro’

Saving Water Never Felt So Good!

September 25, 2008

This modified version of a post that first appeared on Backyard Decor Ideas is republished here with permission. It is not a paid ad. Check the links following the article to review my previous posts about rain barrels and why I think their use should be promoted.

Right now, there are 600 million people in the world who are living with water-scarcity problems. According to Population Action International, by the year 2025, there will be between 2.7 and 3.2 billion people who are living in water-scarce or water-stressed conditions. Two contributors to this problem are:

(1) Global warming is turning fertile land into arid deserts, and
(2) Man-made creations are altering ground-water run-off patterns.

Water Savings

Each North American consumes an average of 350 liters of water inside the home each day. Even with city watering restrictions, this water usage often increases by up to 50% in the summer, due to lawn and garden watering! There are parts of the world that do not have sufficient drinking water, yet we are wasting valuable drinking water on our yards. Treated water does not provide any added benefit for plants.

This problem can be resolved through the use of a rain barrel. A rain barrel hooks up to the downspout of your eavestrough to collect and store rain water until it is needed for your lawn and garden, thus saving valuable drinking water.

Groundwater Runoff

Under normal circumstances, the majority of rainfall soaks into vegetation and slowly flows underground. This natural filtration helps to remove debris and pollutants from the water. The natural process of water soaking into the earth is destroyed when we cover the land with buildings, roads, and parking lots. Ground-run off from downspouts carries sediments and pollutants that, without natural filtration, can clog streams, reduce oxygen in the water, and poison aquatic ecosystems.

To further compound the problem, many sewage systems combine household sewage with storm water. Older sewage systems cannot handle large volumes of water. Thus, after heavy rain, sewage gets dumped, untreated, into rivers and lakes.

One way you can eliminate harmful stormwater run-off is to invest in a rain barrel. In addition to conserving water, rain barrels help the environment by reducing harmful water run-off. And for those who have breath-taking gardens, rain barrels can also help to accentuate your backyard décor.

Rain Barrels Can Look Elegant

The depicted Agua and Cascata rain barrels are very elegantly designed, with smooth clay-like contours, and with elegant planters on top. While designed to look like terracotta, these rain barrels are made of a thick, durable, lightweight plastic. They include standard features such as corrosion-proof screen guards (to keep mosquitos out), and overflow valves to allow for multiple unit hookups.

photo photo
The Cascata rain barrel (65 gallons) comes complete with a removable-crown planter/bird bath, a brass spigot, and an optional pump. The Agua rain barrel (50 gallons) combines the timeless aesthetic elegance of ceramics with the enduring longevity of modern plastics.

The Agua and Cascata rain barrels are made in Cambridge, Canada and are designed to withstand a Canadian winter. Both include lifetime warranties on their enclosures. For more information about these rain barrels, go to, or call 519-624-2554.

Other Links:
2006/10/10 – FMBS: Election platform re rain barrels
2007/07/28 – FMBS: Hamilton Rain Barrels
2007/12/08 – FMBS: Wastewater Tax Increase

Tomorrow is Car-Free Day!

September 21, 2008

Yes, Monday Sept. 22 is International Car-Free Day. But, you wouldn’t know it in good old London, Ontario CANADA would you?

According to the Transportation Master Plan, this city is committed to getting people to adopt modes of transportation other than cars. So, that begs the question, what’s City Hall doing to promote the day?

Well, there’s a blurb on the front page of the city website: “Monday is International Car Free Day – your chance to leave the car at home and walk, cycle or take transit to get around London.” And that’s hyperlinked to THIS PAGE which basically confirms that the city isn’t doing anything. Oh, there’s a suggestion that something might be done next year (“City staff is looking into turning Car Free Day into a larger event next year”), but that’s all.

I guess that city staff have been too busy figuring out how to spend so many millions of dollars on roads this year to waste any time on something that makes as much sense as this does.

Disgusted? You should be.

Other Links:
2008/09/22 – CTV News: Car free day
2008/09/22 – CBC: Downtown Montrealers encouraged to go car-free…
2008/09/22 – Korea Times: Seoul Observes Car Free Day
2008/09/23 – National Post: How mayors got to work yesterday
2008/09/23 – Hilltop Online: D.C. Celebrates Car Free Day

Next Week’s ETC Meeting

September 19, 2008

I’ll continue to add commentary about items of interest to me as time permits. For full details about agenda contents, interested persons should log on to the city website and review what’s available there for themselves.

4:00 PM ETC(08)
Appeal of an order to muzzle a dog that bit an 80 y.o. man and his own dog.

4:30 PM? ETC(01)
Consent Item: TAC report #8. (1) Although TAC’s report notes that the committee received a copy of the City of Toronto Pedestrian Charter from A. Cook it neglects to mention that the committee only requested a copy of that document after a delegation by Greg Fowler; (2) TAC has “requested notification as to when the proposed Urban Design Program policies relating to pedestrian activity are being developed;” (3) a communication received from D. Szoller has been forwarded to staff but only describes it as “a new resource on active transportation” nor is it attached to the online agenda; (4) TAC comments about the Sifton Properties background study re Riverbend South Area/Subdivision Plan includes a recommendation that “roundabouts should not incorporate private driveways;” (5) identification of recent TAC appointments but no mention about Greg Fowler’s criticism of the secretive selection process that was employed.

4:30 PM? ETC(02)
Consent Item: Lead mitigation program & lead testing. “By adhering to a target of 500 lead service replacements per year, all lead services in London can be replaced within 18 years.” The pH of London’s treated drinking water is being raised in order to “reduce lead uptake” and is now in excess of 8.0 but “the long term impact of these changes will be determined through future testing.”

4:30 PM? ETC(03)
Consent Item: Traffic signal warrants re Highbury/Killarney Notwithstanding the refusal of city staff to consider traffic signals for the dangerous Commissioners/King Edward intersection as requested by Greg Fowler simply because it doesn’t meet the traffic volume criteria, staff are recommending that work proceed at this location even though it “does not yet meet signal warrants based on a recent traffic count.”

4:30 PM? ETC(04)
Consent Item: amendments to the traffic & parking by-law. Construction of Queens Ave. between Quebec Street and Elizabeth Street is now complete which reduces “the roadway to a single lane of one-way westbound traffic with the inclusion of a bicycle lane and on-street parking…to reduce the speeding.”

4:30 PM? ETC(05)
Consent Item: update re cat care program. Feral cats (that “live wild and are generally fearful of humans and avoid human
contact… roam free and reproduce at will… are a growing concern in the city”
“There are no estimates on the number of feral or stray cats in London In London, feral cats that are caught by citizens “must now be delivered to the shelter by the public” (in order to reduce the London Animal Care Centre workload) and “the majority…are euthanized.” The city will spend $7,750 – $17,000 (est) on development of a Feral Cat Management Plan (click link to read more).

4:40 PM? ETC(09)
ACE: 7th report. (1) the committee recommends that the 2009 Special Events Policies and Procedures Manual “incorporate the restriction of Rib Festival vendors plumbing grease and waste water directly into the City’s storm or sanitary sewers;” (2) this committee has an operating budget of only $1,000; (3) a document was received from the Council of Canadians re naturalization of London boulevards and forwarded to staff but no copy was attached to the online agenda; (4) the committee received a communication about “the enhancement of environmental profiles” from C. Morningstar but no copy was attached to the online agenda; (5) ACE will pay the expenses for D. Szoller and one other ACE member to attend an Oshawa event next month.

Delegation by Dir. Roads & Transport. (verbal) Ontario Good Roads Association.

7:00 PM ETC(07)
Public Participation Meeting. Update on the province’s proposed ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides; proposed city by-law amendment.

8:00 PM? ETC(06)
Delegation by New St. James Presbyterian Church. Request to waive the 2-hour parking limit around the church.

Whose Trees Are They?

September 8, 2008

photoItem #12 on today’s Environment &Transportation Committee agenda dealt with another instance of damage caused by city-owned trees to a homeowner’s property. And once again, the city tried to shirk it’s responsibility.

According to the written submission, “two very large trees…the damage from these trees has gotten progressively worst. It started with the driveway, walkway and porch issues and has developed into tree roots coming through the brick foundation causing my basement to leak. I called the tree division and Mr. Ivan Lisker came out…told me the trees could be removed but it would be at my expense…”

Councillor Orser tried to evade responsibility on the part of the city by asking the presenter “Wouldn’t your [legal] action be against them?” [ie the previous property owners]

Mr. Ivan Lisker tried to cloud the issue, suggesting that it might be impossible to determine if damage had actually be done by tree roots, as opposed to such natural cause as “heaving.”

Councillor Orser threw an additional smokescreen into the works when he suggested that because of the high percentage of disabled persons living in the neighbourhood, and because simply fixing the damaged sidewalk would only probably be followed be new damage to it, that there might be reason in this instance for the city to remove the tree at it’s own cost.

Chairperson Cheryl Miller appeared to sum up the committee position with this declaration: “Was the [home] foundation compromised by this tree? That’s the issue.”

Pretty much silent was Councillor Joni Baechler who is a well-known proponent for more trees in the city.

In the end, the committee decided to refer the matter back to staff for some further study, but not for the correct reason.

During the last municipal election campaign, I cared enough about this unfairness to make it a part of my official platform. To this day, I don’t know of a single other political figure in London who has raised this as a concern.

In other words, I’m way out ahead of the curve. Again.

Increased Waste Collection Fines

September 6, 2008

In the absence of a municipal system of fines, the default max. amount is only $5,000 (section 61 of the Provincial Offences Act.)

Jay Stanford (Director of Environmental Programs & Solid Waste) is proposing that London’s waste collection by-law (WM-12) be amended so that higher waste management fines can be imposed.01 That’s possible because section 429 of the Municipal Act 2001 allows municipalities to establish their own system of fines for offences.

The proposal would see a $10,000 max. fine for a first conviction for individuals and $25,000 max. for subsequent convictions; $50,000 max. for a first conviction for corporations and $100,000 max. for subsequent convictions.

If approved at Monday’s ETC meeting, the proposal will then proceed to the next City Council meeting on September 15, 2008.

01. 2008/09/08 – City London: ETC Agenda item #4

The Breath

August 31, 2008

It’s midnight and I’m having difficulty breathing. My difficulty is not due to congestion or a dripping nose. My difficulty could be caused by this common cold tricking my mind.

If this is true, then this trick has me believing the air in my room contains something both pungent and foreign. If false, then I have reason to be concerned over what surrounds me and causes me discomfort.*

I think I’ll go to sleep happy in the knowledge that the common cold is muting my senses (and not blame it for maybe adding a few small inputs).

* I seem to fall into category three of a list which was included in a larger compilation** of resources. I don’t think my issue tonight is with the chemicals described; I think this year I’ll begin asking people what brands they buy in hopes of narrowing down the offending chemical.

** Found through Newsvine which I encountered recently when looking for an AP article which was picked up by WIRED magazine. The author, Anick Jesdanun, publishes on Newsvine.

Rain Barrels Get Some LFP Attention

August 30, 2008

During the last municipal election campaign in London, our daily newspaper ignored the part of my platform which advocated the use of rain barrels. Actually, the LFP ignored my campaign completely 😦

It was nice to see this deserving subject receive some press in today’s newspaper (“Recycle water by using rain barrels”) even if it was only a news service filler story.

Better late than never, or so they say.

Other Links:
2006 Fowler Election Platform – Rain Barrels
2007/07/28 – FMBS: Hamilton rain barrels
2007/12/08 – FMBS: Wastewater tax increase

London’s Bottled Water Ban

August 22, 2008

I’m going to take 1 minute (all the time that it deserves) to respond here to a recent letter to the LFP editor which offends me because of it’s blatant inaccuracy.

What kind of totalitarian regime prevents its citizens from access to clean, refreshing H2O?

gf20080821001Examine for yourself this photo which I took yesterday (and another one HERE.) Clean, free, fresh water right smack-dab in Victoria Park. Not only does the city provide these fountains to it’s citizens, but it does so without restriction. You will observe that there are no armed guards or lethally-spiked metal fences.

Drive-Thru Debate Turned Circus.

July 15, 2008

KevBo avatar

Drive Thru
Drive Thru,
originally uploaded by

The 60,000 people who opposed a ban on drive-thrus in London can celebrate tonight. Through our democratic system their voices were heard loud and clear by council and committee and such a ban has been averted by the will of the people.


An Environmental Solution?

June 26, 2008

A ClimateCartoons present (published with permission ).

Dion and Suzuki Have it Right

May 19, 2008

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It doesn’t come as any great surprise to me that “famed environmentalist David Suzuki has strongly backed Liberal leader Stephane Dion’s emerging carbon tax plan.” 01


Reports from Alt-London

May 13, 2008

A couple of interesting posts today over on the Alt-London site.

The first article seems to indicate that local Councillor Paul Hubert isn’t 100% supportive of “a voluntary [drive-thru] idling period of not more than one minute “ and/or “a moratorium on new drive-thrus.” 01

Not too sure what to make of that. The article doesn’t actually come right out and say that Mr. Hubert opposes the proposals, and it doesn’t actually come right out and say that “the councillor is being cynically manipulative.”

I think that instead of making any assumptions about the Councillor’s position, I’ll send him an email and see what he’s got to say.

The other one claims that MPs Glen Pearson and Sue Barnes voted against “a Bill which would have provided mandatory labelling of genetically engineered foods.” 02

There seems less room for interpretation there. In fact, it seems pretty definitive. So, I’m troubled. But I’ll send them emails asking for some explanation also.

Stay tuned…

Appended 2008/05/14:

This response was received from Councillor Hubert this morning…


I did not hear the final version so I can only comment on the interview. What I did not support was a ban on drive throughs as we would have to close all types of drive throughs including banks and pharmacies. I congratulated the Council of Canadians for their initiative and ideas which we will evaluate when the drive through report comes to Planning Committee on May 26th and a review of the idling by law comes forward to ETC in the summer. I feel public education and self regulated behaviour change is the most effective. Any by law must be enforcable. A one minute idling by law would be a real challenge. However I was supportive of all city vehicles leading by example.


Appended 2008/05/22:

This response was actually received from MP Pearson’s office two days ago. Still working on the email backlog, so if you’re waiting for a response don’t despair…

Dear Greg,

Thank you for your correspondence regarding bill C-517, a bill which would have required mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods.

The Liberal Party’s rural caucus, of which I am a member, has studied and discussed this bill in great detail. From these discussions, I would like to explain the reasons behind my vote against this bill.

In short, the bill as written would not address the issue of food safety. During debate in the House of Commons, no study which confirms that genetically modified foods pose a threat to human, animal or environmental health was presented. What Bill C-517 would achieve would be to provide the illusion of addressing a supposed concern about human, animal or environmental health that has never been demonstrated to exist. Further to this, the legislation fails to address the issue of how mandatory labelling will be applied to imported foods and food products. How that will be achieved, at whose costs and again if the objective is to address health concerns those concerns have never been demonstrated.

Your concerns about the safety of the food that Canadians eat are warranted and I share these concerns. Bill C-517, however, was not an effective piece of legislation to deal with these issues. The legislation, if passed would serve to only increase costs upon consumers, processors, and farmers, while providing no further assurance of food safety. During these times of rising food costs and an agricultural industry that is struggling to survive, this bill would only add to the financial burden of Canadians without any safety benefit.

Thanks again for sharing your concerns, if you have any further questions or concerns please feel free to contact my office.

Glen Pearson, MP
London North Centre

01. 2008/05/13 – AltLondon: …Paul Hubert supports…
02. 2008/05/13 – AltLondon: Why did…Glen Pearson…

Other Links:
2008/02/23 – FMBS: Pollution From Traffic Harms Children
2008/04/13 – FMBS: Vehicle Exhaust May Damage Your Brain
2008/05/12 – CoC: ‘Clean Air for Children’

EnviroChallenge: Reduce Your Flow

May 2, 2008

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It costs “only eight cents [to take] one KWH of electricity for each cubic metre of water drawn from Lake Ontario, purified, pumped to consumers, removed, run through a sewage treatment plant [to Toronto]. 01

Sounds like a deal, doesn’t it? Until you consider that Toronto used 374 million cubic metres last year.” 01

The numbers may be different here in London, but the conclusion is comparable. Use less water. It will save you money. It will also help to cut greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation.

01. 2008/02/08 – TheGreenLife: Slow the flow

Media Release: Landowners cooperation sought

May 1, 2008

The Corporation of The City of London
April 29, 2008


Earth Hour 2008

March 31, 2008

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Noting that “most United States newspapers did not play up Earth Hour” and that the Canadian papers which were reviewed “previewed Earth Hour a lot more prominently” and “dominated with Earth Hour pictures,” David Gough asks, why did Earth Hour have a larger profile in Ontario? 01