Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for September 23rd, 2008

Townhouse evictions highlight city-wide fears

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Globe and Mail

Region wide fears I would have thought. This has been happening in Richmond for quite a while now. On Gilbert Road opposite Minoru Park, Richmond Gardens has been “renovated” in the midst of a great controversy which played out in the local press but did not, so far as I am aware, grab attention elsewhere. And the tenants who had the temerity to go the the Landlord and Tenant office, or talk to the media, were targeted for escalating harassment by the (new) management. Last week there was trumpeting of how well Richmond was doing in the affordable housing field when the real story was that the development would produce a significant net loss. Anbd that was not refurbishment of buildings but wholesale redevelopment.

The Canada Line angle is interesting too. Maybe this is the usual “any incident near a SkyTrain” media policy. But certainly Richmond Gradens is an easy half mile walk to Brighouse Station.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 23, 2008 at 3:40 pm

Posted in housing, transit

Another reason I won’t be voting Liberal on Oct 14

with 2 comments

Stephane Dion launched his “Green Gateway” plan today. The previous link is to the pdf file, this one is to the press release.

Public Transit is an essential component of the Liberal 10-year $70 billion plan for infrastructure. An increase in the volume of cars and trucks on our roads is only sustainable if we encourage more people to use public transit.

The first bit is ok, but the second is just plain wrong. Because of the length of time it is taking to bring in alternative fuels that actually reduce ghg emissions (biodiesel from food crops and ethanol from grain don’t) we need to reduce vehicle kilometres travelled. We cannot afford an increase in traffic volume and should be working hard to cut it. So far, improved vehicle fuel efficiencies have not produced much less demand – although a spike is gas prices did, the current drop seems to be bringing back the false sense of security. Peak oil will ensure that some price effects will be seen – and I would expect that sooner not later. But that just gives the oil companies more profits and does not wean us off the addiction.

In urban areas we must stop new road construction and expansion, and steadily reduce the amount of space for both travel and parking. We must get a huge mode shift to more sustainable modes for both passengers and freight, and many other countries have showed the way to do that. Freeways are not green. Highways are not green. Car oriented new development is not green. Business as usual, with a carbon tax and higher transit spending bolted on is not a solution because we must reduce ghg emissions drastically – and soon. Not slow the rate of increase, not hold it steady, but reduce it.

Canada has a disproportionately high greenhouse gas footprint – and has not made any progress in recent years despite its claims to be “trying”. Stephen Harper simply ignores the issue and keeps on pumping billions of dollars in subsidies into the oil patch. Stephane Dion does not seem to understand what needs to be done – on the basis of these documents at least. He may have copied the Green’s play book – but he certainly doesn’t understand why transport is one of the biggest issues he has to tackle – right after the tar sands.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 23, 2008 at 2:55 pm

One Click To Plant A Free Tree

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I copied this from an email I got from Alternet – seems like a good idea to me

Dear Friend,

It has the power to protect farms from disastrous flooding.

It can provide medicine and fuel for poor villages in the developing world.

It even helps purify drinking water.

What’s this breakthrough technology? A tree. Planting a tree may seem simple, but at GlobalGiving Green, a new program that helps people and the planet at the same time, we know it has the power to change lives.

Plant a tree for free with one click!

Click here today and GlobalGiving Green will plant a tree in your honor – absolutely free!

At GlobalGiving Green, we believe people can lift themselves out of poverty while also helping the earth. We hand pick local projects around the world that help poor people achieve economic stability – without leaving a big carbon footprint.

Just imagine all the good your tree will do.

* Your tree might grow in India, where it will provide food for livestock, water, and medicine in poor villages.
* It might grow in Haiti, where it will protect against flooding from hurricanes that destroys homes, lives, farmland and ecosystems.
* Or it might help restore the Yucatan rainforest, home to 60,000 species including the threatened jaguar.

And wherever it’s planted, your tree will help local people make a living, promoting economic benefits that can last for generations. This is one of those rare opportunities where a little can really go a long way.

Click here now to plant your FREE tree and start changing lives.

Thanks for your support!

Mari Kuraishi, Founder/President, and the GlobalGiving Team

Written by Stephen Rees

September 23, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Posted in Environment

MicroPoll : Do you like the new look of this blog?

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Written by Stephen Rees

September 23, 2008 at 12:54 pm

They revised my theme and told me afterwards

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It took me by surprise and I do not know yet if it is an improvement. On principle I would rather that they offered me a choice first. I can switch back to the older style – it is still available. But should I?

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Written by Stephen Rees

September 23, 2008 at 12:50 pm

NDP candidate supports agriculture

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Richmond News

In the interests of equal space for all the candidates in my local constituency (erm, “riding”) here is a news piece about the selection of the NDP candidate.

It is not without controversy, but that is not really of much interest to anyone but NDP insiders. They have chosen a local (good) woman (to meet their self imposed quota) who cares about the ALR and power lines. As a recent immigrant herself she is also well informed about the shameful treatment they get once they arrive in Canada. Since the NDP polled 15% of the vote here last time she stands no chance at all. But I would hope that she will feature the SFPR and the port expansion somewhere in her campaign, because the federal government can and should stop both these useless and damaging projects.

I will of course be voting for the Green party’s Matthew Laine.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 23, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Posted in politics

Bogus Budget Consultation Paper

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Some days I have to do a bit of searching to find something to blog about. This morning it landed on my doormat. If you live in BC, Canada Post will be delivering yours too. It is supposed to be the Budget 2009 Consultation Paper. But in reality it is a party political announcement for the BC Liberals, who are demonstrating to Mr Harper why fixed election dates work so well for governments. You know when the election is going to be so you can use the taxpayers’ own money to send them blatantly promotional items. If the Opposition is hammering you (as the NDP has started to do on the carbon tax) you get a forum where they cannot answer back. It also helps of course that you can cancel sittings of the legislature, where you might get asked awkward questions with live tv footage that can be cropped for sound bites by the suppertime newscasts.

Page one boasts “lowest income tax in Canada”. Page two talks about the growth in GDP and how the carbon tax puts “more money in your pocket”. The top of page three talks about how spending has been increased on education and health. So now we are over 50% through the thing and then we get to the budget forecast – and suddenly the type face gets smaller and there are lots of qualifying footnotes. The back page has a nice graph on employment levels.

So less than 20% of this sheet can be said to actually deal with the budget. It lacks a photo of the premier (thank goodness) and Carol Taylor gets no mention either – but then she isn’t running next time.

I hope and trust that if you live in BC you will take the time to write letters and email to the media. Hopefully the opposition will also get into this in a big way.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 23, 2008 at 12:07 pm

Posted in politics