Stephen Rees's blog

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

Call me an optimist, but if Denmark can go green, Canada can too

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Gary Mason, Globe and Mail

Gary appears to be joining the other sage of Delta (Pete McMartin) onthe side of the angels.

He enthuses about a hotel in Greenland, and also about Delta’s plan to collect solar power. Actually they are also somewhat latecomers to the game, but none the less welcome for that. I once had to stand in the lobby of Delta’s Municipal Hall with portable exhibition stand for the Community Energy Association. A steady stream of Delta residents came up to complain about Delta’s by laws that prevented them from doing simple energy saving things like putting solar panels on their roofs. One guy had taken himself off the grid completely by buying a fork lift truck battery – and was trying to put in wind and solar power to charge it. He was having all kinds of problems because it was not covered by the municipal building code.

And, a bit later, a greenhouse operator across from the Vancouver landfill (which is, of course, in Delta) wanted to put a pipe under the road so he could use the methane collected from the rotting garbage to heat his greenhouse. Now if there is one thing Delta hates more than power lines it is greenhouses. It may just have been a coincidence but the next time I was in the Delta Hall it was to present the Mayor with an Energy Aware Award. The City of Vancouver had put themselves forward for the award on the strength of the methane collection scheme – and we decided to award it jointy to Delta as the gas was going to be put to commercial use there. In fact the project came up for third reading that evening. I suppose they felt they could not vote against something they had just won a award for.

Sadly Mason did not notice the other great oil saving programme in Denmark which started 30 years ago too. The City of Copenhagen decided to reduce car dependence by reducing road space in the City. Just a bit, and the same amounbt every year, plus lots of cycling facilities and better public spaces. Worked like a charm. Of course in Vancouver we tried closing short sections of Granville and Robson to cars and all hell broke loose.

Danes were just as in love with their cars as we were. But they have changed. And we no longer have the luxury of waiting 30 years.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 12, 2008 at 10:48 am

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