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

Archive for September 29th, 2008

Sunday round up

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I seemed to spend a lot of time this weekend with a microphone in my hand. I have already written about Saturday’s rally so this post just looks at Sunday.

At Connaught Park I was very pleased to meet Michael Byers, the NDP candidate for Vancouver Centre. He recently called for the closure of the tar sands. He pointed out that he had merely put the NDP position in “less nuanced language”. I told him that though I was committed to voting Green, if I lived in his constituency I would vote for him. To read more about him there was an interview in this week’s Georgia Straight. He certainly comported himself better than the NDP candidate for my riding who demonstrated her naivete – or perhaps incomprehension – by trying to get herself and her home made and almost unreadable banner into every lens by standing immediately behind the speaker at the event. Even when that was someone offering a solemn native prayer. She did not respond to requests from the organisers, who suggested she show some respect and sensitivity but did co-operate when when Micheal Byers told her (kindly but firmly) to stop making a nuisance of herself. She probably damaged the NDP’s very slim chance in her riding as it covers not only East Richmond but also Delta. She does not get my vote or name recognition here.

I was also pleased to meet Rafe Mair – long a personal hero – who spoke first and every well – despite being in a serious car crash earlier that weekend. He had been cut from the vehicle he had been a passenger in by the Jaws of Life and was walking with a cane, and had several bandages. It is a great shame that he should be a victim of the very road he fought against. The so called improvements to the Sea to Sky do not make it any safer, they merely encourage higher speeds, so that the inevitable collisions (they are NOT accidents) have higher severities. I was pleased to buy him a cup of (fair trade, shade grown, organic) coffee from the black truck at the Farmer’s market. And also while there I got another bokashi bucket from my friend Al Pasternak.

Message to Campbell rally in Connaught Park

The idea of the rally was to deliver a variety of messages to Gordon Campbell in his own constituency on what a lousy job he has done going green. The benefit of the  carbon tax is more than offset by the emissions from the port and highway expansions – but then there is also the neglect of the wild salmon, the power lines through Tsawassen, the P3 run of the river hydro projects – which get approval just for applying, their EA process only being concerned with “mitigation”.

The afternoon was spent at the BC Environmental Network’s conference, where Guy Dauncey had to relinquish his spot on the agenda. I had planned to do the same schtick I had done all weekend on how stupid the Gateway is when there are so many better alternatives – but probably accentuating what the good ideas look like as I thought that they would probably know all about the faults.

But I changed my mind while listening to Professor William Rees – who spoke before me as has happened at other events. He is a hard act to follow. He spoke without notes or slides about the three recent news stories on global warming which show that everything is happening much faster that the IPCC anticipated. The feedback loops were omitted from the models, which were anyway very conservative in their estimates. So the outcomes are going to be worse and sooner, but our response is slowing or even reversing, because of the adaptive behaviours that we developed as a species are actually getting in the way of a workable response.

Now that seemed to put my cheerful little positive and local piece into a very different light. Not only that but when you are talking to seried ranks of empty seats in a large theatre, performance quality suffers. So I just encouraged everyone to sit in the front row – after all there were less than twenty at any one time – and tried to do some dialogue on what a sustainable city might look like. Unfortunately I had to use a mike as they were recording the proceedings but with some gentle pordding we did get some back and forward. They then went into a strategising session – but it seemed to me that they had omitted to specify that these days they are dealing with outright hostility from both federal and provincial governments. Structures which worked when government actually valued dialogue are now not useful. But then my only contact with BCEN is their very useful Landwatch  list serve – which was one reason why, as Dani Rubin pointed out, none of the papers Bill Rees quoted were news to any of those present.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 29, 2008 at 9:33 am

Posted in Environment, politics

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