Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for April 22nd, 2008

Tell Metro Vancouver to stop its wasteful, polluting ways

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I hope you do not think I am being lazy just passing things along. And irritated because you have already yourself seen them in your own in box because you subscribe to the same email lists I do.

But this is very important and very relevant. I have already slammed Metro for the way it is conducting its consultation for the Sustainable Region Initiative – though how you can have Gateway and sustainability in the same plan beats me. And we have also been talking about how much energy we just throw away “leaving money on the table”.

So here is a press release from EcoJustice that was not on their web page last time I looked but may be by the time you read this. (It was forwarded to the lrc list by Ned Jacobs)

By Jim Boothroyd
Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal Defence Fund)

Did you know that city engineers are advancing a plan that would allow the
polluting Iona sewage outfall ­ at the mouth of the Fraser River, and at the
heart of a major environmental lawsuit -- to continue spewing toxic sewage
for another 22 years?

Or that your civic authorities are timid about embracing proven technologies
that would allow Vancouver to "harvest sewage" to fuel fleets of buses, heat
whole neighbourhoods and produce profitable sources of fertilizer? (See
example at end of article)

Well, it's true ­ and now is the time to tell them to look to the future and
clean up their act.

For the first time in five years, Metro Vancouver (the old GVRD) is
reviewing its plans for liquid and solid waste management and is holding a
series of public consultations to hear what you have to say. This is your
best opportunity to ensure that the changes coming down are the best for the
region for the long-term. Please consider taking part.

All meetings run from 6:30pm to 9:00 pm and include time for you to ask
questions of the engineers in charge ­ they'll even give you coffee and an
oatmeal cookie.

Tues., April 22, North Vancouver (Capilano College);
Wed., April 23, Vancouver (Library Square);
Tuesday April 29 , Coquitlam (Executive Plaza Hotel & Conference Centre);
Wed., April 30, Maple Ridge (Maple Ridge Arts Centre & Theatre (The ACT);
Tues, May 6, Langley (Newlands Golf and Country Club).

For details, go to

One last thing: if you lived in Stockholm, Sweden, this is what managing
your waste would look like. One of your many sewage treatment plants would
treat both sewage and kitchen waste producing biogas for fifty buses, rising
to two hundred in a few years. The plant would have a Business Development
Manager who sells biogas from her plant, as well as providing cooking fuel
for the nearby community of Hammarby Sjöstad. Energy recovered from sewage
by heat pumps would provide heat and hot water for a total of 80,000 homes.
The energy and material would loop between the plant and the community
mimicking nature's closed cycles.

An approach to managing waste that is based on integrated resource
management and built on the idea of smaller distributed plants rather than a
few large ones is happening in other communities around the world,
protecting our environment and providing a sustainable source of energy.

The question is whether we¹re ready to bring that thinking here.

For more information on resource recovery from waste:

I note that none of the meetings is scheduled for the fourth largest city in BC and the home of both the offending Iona Beach and Lulu Island Sewage Plants

Bucky dome

This sign is at Garry Point Park where I have often seen children paddling despite the warning. It is about two miles downstream from the Lulu Island outfall.
Swim Advisory Steveston July 25 07

Written by Stephen Rees

April 22, 2008 at 5:01 pm

British tube drivers protest film about subway suicides

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The film‘s star, Mackenzie Crook, plays a tube driver in search of a volunteer to commit suicide under his train so he can get compensation.

249 bodies ended up underneath trains last year. I cannot see how this is a suitable subject for a comedy.

Piccadilly Line Barons Court 20051201 by Stephen Rees, on Flickr

One common approach to the issue of suicide is that it is under-reported. And that is quite deliberate. For there are many people who suffer from depression, and a lot of them are not being treated, or are not taking their meds or their meds are not working. Indeed in some cases the meds have the effect of increasing the depression. When you have depression you do not make good choices. And a splashy news story that talks in detail about how someone ended their life always results in people trying the same thing.

You will usually not hear or read about people under trains. There has been “an incident”, or “a medical emergency”.

The fact that SkyTrain does not have a driver changes nothing. There are detectors to cut power if there is an intrusion on to the track at a station. But it still happens, and there can often be someone looking out of the front window. And SkyTrain staff, and emergency personnel have to deal with the outcome.

And families of suicides suffer, just as much as those of victims of accidents, or diseases. Perhaps more, as there is a hefty element of guilt – and the continuing issue of the extent to which this disease seems to run in families.

I won’t be tempted to see this film. I cannot understand why anyone would want to

Written by Stephen Rees

April 22, 2008 at 1:33 pm

Posted in Railway

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What to do on Earth Day

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In the spirit of reduce, reuse, and recycle, I have decided to recycle the contents of my inbox

To distance itself from public outcry over unsustainable development practices, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and her council have created a private land development corporation and charged it with responsibility for paving what remains of the former Class 1 Environmentally Sensitive Area known as Stokes Pit, a critical part of the Little Campbell Watershed (contains tributaries of the Little Campbell River, one of BC’s 13 most endangered rivers) and the vulnerable Brookswood Aquifer.

In addition to serving as regionally important wildlife and fisheries habitat, the area is surrounded by some of the largest parcels of farmland in Langley and Surrey, farms that won’t remain large or viable if industrial development forces roads and increased diesel pollution onto them.

Please attend the public information meeting – ironically, being held on Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22nd 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. East Kensington Elementary School 2795-184 Street (28th Avenue & 184th Street in South Surrey) Parking is limited, so please carpool if possible


Five Ways to Celebrate Earth Day
Earth Day is April 22. What are you doing to mark the occasion? There are many ways you can say “Thank You Earth!” for everything it gives us, from air and water to food and shelter.
Here are our top five picks.

========================= is celebrating the 38th anniversary of Earth Day by launching the EcoCenter for Greener Living. This addition to the site features Web exclusives and eco-friendly tips from their new environmental content partner, Low Impact Living. For more information visit:


“By saving the woodland caribou’s remaining Boreal Forest habitat, we’ll also help protect one of the world’s largest natural carbon reserves and slow the effects of climate change.” network is working with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society to help gather signatures to convince the Federal Government to identify and protect Woodland caribou habitat under the Species at Risk Act.

Caribou and you: The bomb

Let us know what you think and sign the petition to help protect the Woodland caribou habitat under the Species at Risk Act.

Helping out and showing your support is really easy to do. For more information, visit


Today, in honor of Earth Day, we’ve found a pretty excellent website that gives fresh meaning to recycling. Swaptree — started by Greg Boesel and Mark Hexamer in 2004 to help people barter things — is remarkably simple to use: You sign up for an account (“join us in 8 seconds”), then rifle through your books, CDs, DVDs, and video games to find the ones with which you’re dying to part. Put them up on Swaptree (by typing in the UPC code or ISBN number), and the site instantly shows the items you can get in return — you pay only shipping, which Swaptree handily calculates for you.


To celebrate Earth Day and encourage more members to participate, starting today and for the rest of the month of April, Aeroplan will match all miles redeemed for carbon offset credits by 25% instead of the usual 20%. The credits will then be transferred to the Carbon Reduction Fund, an independent, non-profit organization with the mission of funding only the highest-quality offset projects.


Take Action For the Adams River Salmon!


UPDATE 1:15 PM CBC is now reporting that the Marina Plans have been cancelled

Faced with the massive public opposition, developer Mike Rink of New Future Building Group told the crowd his company had cancelled the marina project.

Good. Massive public opposition works. Let us take heart from this and the defeat of the private sector power projects in a provincial park. Rafe was right. The environment is back!

Written by Stephen Rees

April 22, 2008 at 10:58 am

Posted in Environment

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