Tag Archives: environment

Royal Oak students raise the bar on recycling – again

Towers of recycling power at Saanich school
Saanich News – June 10, 2013

Recycling isn’t a passing fad at Royal Oak middle school, where students have taken it upon themselves to change the way the school – and the district – manages its waste output.

For four years now, students have taken recycling to the extreme, finding ways to keep paper, plastics and food waste out of the garbage.

The school now diverts 80 per cent of its waste from being tossed in a garbage can, destined for Hartland landfill. Instead, a series of 50 recycling towers are installed around the school

“There’s nothing that the kids or staff bring to school that we can’t recycle or compost,” said Angus Stewart, a teacher at Royal Oak.

Makeshift recycling centres around the school are much more thorough than simply garbage and recycling bins.

The students have different bins for juice boxes, bottles, cans, drink pouches, milk cartons, foam, foil, soft plastic, hard plastic and paper. There are also bins to collect kitchen waste, which is composted and turned into soil.

“The biggest thing that’s happened is the whole feeling around the kids, the teachers, everybody else – they’re now looking for the right place to put something,” Stewart said.

“I hear all kinds of stories of kids getting frustrated going out into the normal environment – malls or parks – and they can’t find the right place to recycle something.”

Royal Oak’s initiative helped the Saanich School District save money. By reducing waste output, they’ve moved from having their garbage collected every week, to once every three weeks.

“Every school in Greater Victoria can now do this. The program we started has been copied by a number of schools,” Stewart said.

Saanich council on Monday was scheduled to reward Royal Oak middle school with an environmental award, as given out annually to Saanich residents and organizations who exemplify what it means to be environmentally friendly.

“What these students are doing is better than what most households and businesses are doing,” said Coun. Dean Murdock, chair of the environmental advisory committee.

“This group of students is setting an example of what’s possible. They set an impressive standard a few years ago, and now they’re doing that again,” Murdock said, referring to the school receiving an Saanich environmental award in 2009.

“When we see schools, and students in particular, taking the initiative for climate action and waste reduction … we know that’s a positive message they’re taking home to their parents, to family and friends.

“And that’s getting conveyed in a way far more powerful than a group of politicians preaching about a new program. These are students taking the initiative to walk the talk.”

Saanich 2013 green award recipients:

-Royal Oak middle school; Green Ridge Crew; Outright Coffee and Tea; Peninsula Streams; Ed, Michelle, Jamie and Jesse Knaggs; and Paul West.

Curbside kitchen scrap program is a Go for Spring 2014

Saanich gives green-thumbs up to kitchen scrap collection
January 08, 2013 CFAX 1070

Saanich is the latest to take up curbside kitchen scrap collection.

Council voted Monday night to proceed with the plan. The program will be up and running in about 15-months (Spring 2014), with kitchen scraps picked up alongside garbage.

Councilor Dean Murdock says Saanich’s system will be different than how the City of Victoria does it.

“The difference with what you’re seeing in the City of Victoria is we’re co-mingling, as they call it, garden waste as well. It can be added to the big green orgranic bins.”

Victoria is about to start it’s curbside collection of kitchen scraps.

Murdock was speaking with C-FAX 1070’s Al Ferraby.

Climate adaptation collaboration

Sandy spurs Saanich, Victoria to talk sea change

Bill Cleverley , The Victoria Times Colonist November 25, 2012

Arguing recent events like hurricane Sandy can’t be ignored, Victoria, Saanich and the Capital Regional District will team up to assess, map and start to prepare to manage effects of rising sea levels brought on by climate change.

Proposals to produce a regional map of areas vulnerable to coastal flooding and to draft a model bylaw to assist in the management of flood hazard areas were endorsed this week at a joint meeting of Saanich and Victoria councils. It was the third time the municipalities have held a joint meeting.

“All of the best available science from leading experts in this region tells us we are already experiencing climate impacts here and we will continue to do so,” Roy Brooke, Victoria’s director of sustainability, told the meeting.

“Heat waves, flooding, changes to the natural environment, sea-level rise will all mean we have to change how we do our business as individuals, municipalities and communities.”

Taking action now instead of reacting to impacts later can save taxpayers dollars, he said.

“Even by the most conservative [estimates], even spending $1 now can save $4, $5, or $6 or more dollars in the future in terms of disaster impacts we don’t need to respond to, not to mention the human toll,” Brooke said.

Predictions are that local sea levels will rise by 45 centimetres by 2050. Some estimates have levels rising by as much as one metre by 2100.

“We recognize that response and recovery from hurricane Sandy has basically fallen on municipal governments,” said Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin.

All the councillors praised staff for being proactive in drafting the proposals.

Some cautioned, how-ever, that making plans is one thing. Getting the public to buy-in is quite another.

“This is vital work but I think there will be a long process of public discussion about how to react,” said Victoria Coun. Geoff Young, adding governments don’t have a great track record with this type of planning.

“The experience has been it’s very easy to point out someone is building their summer cottage on a sand bank that’s likely to wash away, but it’s very hard to take the next step of figuring what to do with it,” Young said.

Saanich Coun. Vic Der-man said estimates of sea level rise are conservative and greenhouse gas mitigation efforts need to be stepped up.

“It wasn’t that long ago, just a few years ago, that the estimates for sea level rise by 2100 was 38 centimetres. I remember at the time saying to a number of people this is probably really conservative because the climate change models are very conservative,” Derman said.

Saanich Coun. Dean Murdock said the collaborative effort is overdue.

“I think it’s tremendous we are moving forward. I agree with comments made earlier. Isn’t it remarkable how far we’ve moved from a discussion about ‘Is this happening,’ to recognizing the reality, particularly as a coastal community that it is happening.

“The evidence is more than just speculative. We can see it.”

The mapping initiative with the CRD as the lead agency is seen as a two-year project costing $100,000.

Natural Resources Canada is considering funding $50,000, and $20,000 has been requested from Tides Canada. In-kind resources will come from the CRD, Saanich and Victoria for the balance of the funds.

Drafting a model bylaw is expected to take one year and cost about $45,000.

The hope is Natural Resources Canada will fund half of that, with the CRD, Victoria and Saanich each contributing $3,500 cash as well as in-kind resources.

Let’s avoid another tragic spill! Check your oil tank!

Have you got a household oil tank? Better check it for leaks!

Don’t know how? Check out these helpful tips: http://www.saanich.ca/living/environment/pdf/otank.pdf

Did you know that heating with oil produces more greenhouse gas emissions than natural gas or electricty? It can also be quite expensive!

Convert to a heat pump, natural gas, or hydro electricity and you could be eligible for up to $2,000 in rebates!
The provincial Livesmart and federal EcoEnergy programmes offer about $1250 to convert to natural gas and $2000 for a heat pump.

You can also get up to $1,000 from FortisBC to switch to natural gas. http://www.fortisbc.com/NaturalGas/Homes/Offers/SwitchNShrink/Pages/default.aspx

Think about making the switch today.

Investing in local farmers means keeping our dollars local

Saanich council passes local food motion
Colleen Kimmett, The Tyee

Saanich district council unanimously passed a motion last night to adopt a local food procurement policy.

Councillor Dean Murdock introduced the motion. He told The Tyee the policy would make locally-produced food a priority at district events and within its food services. It would apply to vendors at public festivals, for example, as well as catering at internal meetings. It would also apply to the cafe at the district’s recreation centre, said Murdock.

Murdock said that city staff is looking at a local food procurement policy already in place at the University of Victoria – which estimates 45 per cent of the produce and 36 per cent of the meat it buys comes from Vancouver Island.

“The University of Victoria feeds 20,000 people a day. We’re not going to approach anything quite of that scale,” Murdock said. “It’s incremental. The hope is that it will inspire others to follow suit.”

Murdock says city staff also have to determine the geographical boundaries of “local.”

“Certainly, there’s a lot of capacity here, but it’s a question of the type of products you’re talking about,” he said. “There are some things we just don’t have here.”

As interest in local food procurement spreads across what’s known as the MUSH sector – municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals — there is concern that a pending trade deal with the European Union will quash efforts to direct tax dollars specifically to local suppliers.

Murdock said the Canadian EU Trade Agreement (CTEA) wasn’t a topic of discussion at last night’s meeting “but it’s something I’m aware of.”

“Staff are going to develop terms of policies that will be done with respect to agreements,” he said. “We’re proceeding on behalf of Saanich residents. We think this is to the benefit of residents and local producers.”

Saanich Council unanimously supports creation of local food policy

Saanich council supports local food policy
CFAX 1070

Saanich Council passed a motion Monday night to support local food producers.

Councillor Dean Murdock says the recommendation from the Healthy Saanich Advisory Committee to develop a local food procurement policy was supported unanimously.

“The policy when it’s designed and implemented will give preference to local food producers in the region for our food services and events in Saanich … obviously we can’t get one hundred per cent, but for example, when we need tomatoes, rather than bring in tomatoes from California or Mexico, we’ll do tomatoes that are grown locally.”

Next staff will develop the specifics of the policy. One of the questions to be answered is how far away will still be considered local.

Murdock says he is hopefull the policy will be in place by the fall, and certainly expects it to be in place by the new year. He says community feedback indicates concern for food security and he thinks this is one step Saanich can take to improve local food security.

Saanich could be first in region to “buy local”

Saanich first in region to go ‘local’ on food
Kim Westad, Times Colonist

Saanich is set to become the first municipality in the region to focus on local food for its events, moving toward having the same for all its food services.

Coun. Dean Murdock, chairman of the Healthy Saanich Advisory Committee, said he’s not aware of any other municipalities with such a local food procurement policy, although the University of Victoria does.

“With a population of about 20,000 students, that means they serve an awful lot of local food,” Murdock said.

“My hope is that, by following UVic’s lead, we may be able to set an example for other municipalities and businesses.”

The motion will go to council next week, but Saanich has long been in favour of green practices.

Now, food for events is bought from a variety of vendors.

Under the potential policy, food would come from local producers as much as possible. It might be slightly more expensive at the start, Murdock said, but that cost would lower as more people bought local.

“The more the local marketplace grows, the more competitive the cost becomes.”

It also creates a market and need for locally grown food.

Currently, Vancouver Island provides five to 10 per cent of the food it needs.

With more demand, Murdock said, residents can keep their dollars local and keep farmers in business, so that productive working farms aren’t sold for residential estates.

The cost of farming is high, and parcels of land that could be farmed are increasingly being sold and used for large residences.

Buying local also reduces greenhouse gas emissions as the food doesn’t have to be transported as far.

Murdock would like to see the policy eventually extend to cover food served in Saanich facilities as well.

Supporting our local farmers

The food grown in your and your neighbours’ backyards could soon be for sale at a festival or rec centre near you.
Saanich looks to use municipality’s purchasing power to help local food producers
Kyle Slavin, Saanich News

The Healthy Saanich Advisory Committee is looking to create a food procurement policy that will give priority to local producers when catering is needed for municipal services or events.

“This would give preference to local food producers to use Saanich’s buying power to expand the local food marketplace and hopefully create an example for other municipal agencies, companies and businesses in the region,” said Coun. Dean Murdock, chair of the Healthy Saanich committee.

The short-term goal is to inform vendors interested in selling at festivals like Strawberry Fest or SunFest that preference will be given to local products. Eventually, Murdock hopes to create long-term marketplaces where these local vendors sell their goods at rec centres.

“There are a number of benefits in supporting and purchasing local food,” he said, citing reduced greenhouse gas emissions, fresher, healthier products, and public money spent locally. “This is an opportunity to turn that into a marketplace for local food producers, and keeping our dollars local. Why wouldn’t we invest our dollars in supporting local farmers?”

Buying local produce is a policy the University of Victoria has practised for nearly two decades, and one that the City of Toronto is looking at adopting.

“It’s just what we do. It’s not always realistic or obtainable to shop local. We just try to partner with the community and the Island whenever we can,” said Heather Seymour, manager of production and purchasing for university food services at UVic.

The Healthy Saanich recommendation is expected to come before council in mid-July.

Setting the green standard

Saanich needs to raise its green design standards for commercial and industrial buildings.

A recent application before Council highlighted the deficiency in our energy and environmental design standards. Council approved the redevelopment of a warehouse building in the Ardersier Road commercial-industrial park. The building is a larger upgrade to the existing structure that will create new space for additional tenants.

Absent from the building design were any of the elements that are now commonplace for residential applications. Saanich Council routinely sees proposals that feature geothermal or heat pump systems, green roofs and rain gardens, and solar panels for electricity or hot water. Gold or higher ratings for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and BuiltGreen are a common expectation of applicants. The proposed building, though attractive, did not offer any of these modern design elements.

The lack of sustainable design features is not the fault of the applicant. The proposal contained exactly what’s required for a warehouse building. The design satisfies Saanich’s out-dated development permit guidelines and the BC Building Code. With stronger eco-design standards, this building could have been a model for future commercial development and a source of pride for Saanich.

I support the expansion of commercial and industrial space. A growing local economy is the cornerstone of a healthy community. But smart growth and green design principles aren’t just for condos and houses. Office buildings, warehouses, and retail space must be sustainable as well.

If we’re going to attain a higher level of energy efficiency and environmental design, we must retool our development permit guidelines and raise our design standards for all buildings.

Buildings produce more than 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Saanich. Cutting emissions and reducing energy consumption means focusing on green design and maximizing energy efficiency. Energy efficient buildings will help us to reach our one-third emission reduction target by 2020.

Green buildings also save businesses money with reduced heating and cooling costs. That savings translates into more local jobs and a more prosperous local economy.

Let’s step up lead the charge for innovative energy and environmental design. It’s how we build a healthy economy and a healthy climate for today and the future.