Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for June 4th, 2008

B.C. aims to cut water use

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The province wants us to save water. I wonder why? There is no mention of the rush for new run of the river hydro schemes – all designed to put money into the pockets of investors by selling power to the US.

There is also no mention of the role of municipal water systems – and how old infrastructure wastes vast amounts of water every day. Leaky old pipes are not being replaced as a money saving measure. And again there is no mention of the province using some of its huge surplus to invest in better infrastructure.

Plus, of course, we live on the wet coast – this used to be a temperate rain forest. You might have noticed that it rains here. And that our reservoirs do not have enough capacity to meet demand year round, but much of the time are simply spilling water over the dams. We are also not allowed to use grey water systems for tasks like flushing toilets. It offends against the building code. As do most systems that would allow us to build in a way that retained water on site. Once again I refer to the subdivision that Patrick Condon helped design that reused all its water, and had very advanced drainage systems but had to have a duplicate, expensive and completely unnecessary municipal system added, to satisfy the code.

Yes as consumers we can do more, but why it is always the easy path – to spend small sums on hectoring the populace with silly ideas like “if its yellow let it mellow” – when major shifts in the way we do planning, building and regulating development are actually needed? Because its easy that’s why. Not effective. Cycle along any Vancouver bikeway in summer, any non sprinkling day and count how many people are watering the sidewalks and driveways. There are by laws and regulations already that cover that but compliance is spotty at best.

Buy a rain barrel by all means. Do not use fresh drinking quality water to wash your car. Plant native species instead of Kentucky blue grass – then you can get rid of that horrible gas mower too! There is stuff we can do. But mostly government needs to put its own house in order before it starts hectoring us. Do the loos in your local school flush all the time – even when no-one is there?

Written by Stephen Rees

June 4, 2008 at 9:29 am

Posted in Environment

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Too Much Stuff! Our New Love Affair With Self-Storage

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I have changed the headline. Alternet is all about America – but this is a cultural issue that affects all human beings – we like to accumulate stuff. We are all “pack rats”. And when we go through “life events” it was takes longer to get things sorted out than we originally hoped. And at a time of emotional upheaval, security becomes important. Stuff seems to offer continuity. It appeals also to the instinct that if we have already bought something, we should not need to buy another of the same as long as the first one still works. Though books, records and CDs are another matter. And in my case colour slides.

And who has the time to sort through 40 years of slide trays and boxes, selecting and then scanning images to be burned to a disc? Yes it would save a lot of space and if I indexed the discs (another non trivial task) I might even be able to retrieve an image to be used – somewhere.

And how many “lifestyle” shows are there now that take people through the emotional traumas of finally sorting out all that clutter? In general, American homes have been getting bigger. But I am amazed at the number of closets in my “new” townhouse. Which is 35 years old. And the amount of stuff that the previous owner simply abandoned, and which I now have to deal with before I get my stuff out of self storage and into the new place.

And I have already mislaid my steel tape measure that I took there on my first recce, put away safely somewhere and now cannot find. But I need before I go to IKEA and get some more stuff.

And in the blogroll there is a web site about nothing but stuff

Written by Stephen Rees

June 4, 2008 at 8:38 am

Posted in Environment

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