Tuesday, November 18, 2008

No Recycle Day
for December
See you January 24th!
9-12 noon
Municipal Hall, Saanichton

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thank you!

Thanks to all those who donated, supported, door knocked, leafletted, put up signs, expressed support and voted. You are all wonderful people and I hope you'll be there next time as we bring Central Saanich home to its farming & family roots.

We're not done yet!
Thank you all so very much, you can't imagine how much I appreciate you.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Where I Stand

My name is Sue Stroud and you already know me as someone who cares about community issues and community values.

This election is about working together because our community is at a crossroads: it can remain true to its heritage as a land of peaceful plenty, or it can quickly become just another cookie cutter cityscape.

We chose our urban containment areas with great care. Now, together, we must assess carefully any proposed development because growth is expensive, both environmentally and fiscally. I do not support building outside the urban containment areas for reasons outlined below.

Every development requires both an initial outlay for infrastructure services and an ongoing maintenance cost for those services: sidewalks, lights, sewers, water, electricity, crosswalks and more. These are the things that increase our taxes. We are told that developments increase the tax base, but the reality is that it is rare for that increase to cover the true cost of a development over time.

The country road I took to school is now a thriving industrial park. But we need to make better use of this park and build up within it rather than sprawling out from it. There are many underutilized spaces for expansion in this site.

I have seen the pressures of urbanization and the conflicts as we spotzone on the buffers that divide the residential and industrial lands from farmlands and the food security they provide us. Those buffers make good neighbours and when they are encroached on the district becomes swamped with complaints about noise and smells and smoke.

We have been characterized as a ‘go slow’ municipality by some, but slow is in fact exactly the right speed for us. We need slow roads, slow growth and slow use of our natural resources, because the slow route is the wise route. Going slowly gives us time to measure our footprint and to correct and change our path as needed.

I support Panorama because it is a full service rec centre with activities for all ages. My father uses it; I have recently booked one of the skating rinks for the BCGEU Children's Xmas Party; my nephews have played hockey and taken swimming and scuba lessons there: nearly everyone I know goes to Panorama at some point.

Panorama has served us well and is a necessary part of our community well-being. It is unfortunate that upgrading Panorama and other such structures is so expensive, but that is why we take care of such things collectively.

This election is not about 'common sense' which too often isn't very common. It is about a sense of community which we must build and nurture.

Our municipality includes old and young, First Nations and new immigrants, those with no financial concerns and those struggling to maintain their housing in the face of rising expenses. We must include everyone when we deliberate about how we will meet the financial and environmental problems we are facing and we must have a thought for those who come after because we are only stewards here "in this green and pleasant land."

Monday, November 10, 2008

How can we help our farmers ?

We need to recognize the incredible importance of local food farming to our region.

Recently, our own Nobel Prize winning scientist, Dr Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria, stated that we have already passed the tipping point for global warming. This means that we are looking at entirely new scenarios for farming on the Peninsula. Farming is now the single most important business in our region because we are soon going to have to learn to feed ourselves.

At the beginning of the 20th century nearly 50% of Canadians were farmers. At the beginning of the 21st century only 3% of Canadians still farm and many of these farms belong to big corporate interests and are not serving the needs of the local populations. This decline in farming has been exacerbated by the Green House Gases (GHGs) created partly by the way in which we farmed and the unnecessary transportation of food from one region to another spreading crop diseases along the way.

On our Peninsula, farmers have struggled with the overvaluation of land, the increasing costs of fuel and the unfair competition of the gigantic food wholesalers who fill our stores with their products and squeeze out the small local producer. Local farmers have also simply been forgotten by the vast majority of urban dwellers who are so disconnected from the land they have no idea where their food comes from.

As a result of the changes that global warming will bring we will no longer be able to rely on California to provide us with the abundance to which we are accustomed. California will become much hotter and much drier and, since they have already nearly drained their aquifers and other water supplies, the melting of the glaciers and snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains will mean the end of farming or at least the end of any extra available for export.

Farming is rapidly going to become a life or death issue just about everywhere on the globe including in our own back yard.

We need to strengthen the Agricultural Land Reserve and recognize that it serves more than one function. Recently it was pointed out to me that the ALR creates buffers around our urban areas so that we don’t become one massive sprawling city like the Seattle to Oakland corridor. It should be much more difficult to remove land from the ALR and we should ensure that each region is putting land back into the reserve as time goes on. Land can be rehabilitated and yes it takes time, but we will have to do it. Dig up unused roadbeds like the one running parallel to East Saanich Road and set it up for community gardens. Search the region for brownlands and waste sites and start the longterm rehab programme now.

We need to ensure that golf courses and hobby horse farms cannot be built on reserve lands.

We need to ensure that what is grown is healthy, sustainable and meets our basic needs. To do this we must lobby the federal government to fully fund the experimental farm on East Saanich Road to provide useful research and assistance for local farmers as we begin the change to global warming preparedness.

A local Central Saanich farmer reminded me that “government could help through property tax breaks that encourage property owners to provide habitat, as well as food production: the combination makes healthier land-use.” This means that farmlands that are not currently in use aren’t taxed differently than lands that are currently cultivated. It also means that farmers will be able to leave treed areas as habitat because they won’t be penalized through their taxes for doing so and when a grandchild wants to return to farming, this land will still be available to them. “Returning the land to woodlot for 15-20 years could give turn-around time, provide green space, wildlife habitat and still keep the land available for future generations. It's a small thing, but a change in the ALR could be very good for preserving family farms”.

These are only a few thoughts and I have been actively promoting growing organic vegetables in your own backyard through the BCGEU CoolCommunities Campaign by having Robin Tunnicliff and Mat Kemshaw make presentations to BCGEU members. I am hoping after Christmas to follow up with workshops by Cathy Rasmussen of the BC Fruit Tree Growers Association and by having a presentation on First Nations food gathering by Greg Sam.

It is imperative that we each take steps to begin the learning process and that we recognize the valuable work of the local farmers on the Saanich Peninsula.
Letter to Times-Colonist

Dear Editor:

Iain Hunter’s comments in “The petty meanness of municipal politics”, November 10th, are just plain wrong when he suggests that rocky or boggy ground in Central Saanich should be okay to build on. He suggests “a few modest houses” would provide farmers “with income and new tenants the pleasures of country living.”

First of all the houses proposed are rarely ‘modest’ and will cost the taxpayers a great deal of money over time because of the provision and maintenance of infrastructure and other services outside our carefully community-chosen urban containment boundaries.

It’s not the farmer, but the developer who will get most of the money and those who move in will immediately begin complaining about the farm odours, the smoke from burning, the early morning machinery start-ups etc. We have these buffers between farmland, industrial land and urban areas for a reason.

We are one of the only countries in the world that so easily writes off land as ‘unfarmable’ to say nothing of the other values embodied in that land. The rocky hillside at Vantreight farms was visited by a snowy owl just this week and the arbutus and garry oaks that clothe that hillside are protected species providing a safe haven for what’s left of the wildlife in our area.

As for anyone who wants to build homes on a bog, they’d best check with insurance companies first. We have several homes built on old bogs or floodplains and the natural water problems they have throughout the winter are only increased by those who have built upslope from them. This will only worsen with the increase in rain that is predicted for this area as a result of climate change.

It would be nice if those judging our municipality attended our council meetings and read our Official Community Plan before commenting.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tree-Lined Streets 'Cut Asthma'

Children who live in tree-lined streets have lower rates of asthma, a New York-based study suggests.

BBC News

Columbia University researchers found that asthma rates among children aged four and five fell by 25% for every extra 343 trees per square kilometre.

They believe more trees may aid air quality or simply encourage children to play outside, although they say the true reason for the finding is unclear.

The study appears in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
US rates of childhood asthma soared 50% between 1980 and 2000, with particularly high rates in poor, urban communities.

In New York City, asthma is the leading cause of admission to hospital among children under 15.

The researchers found the city had an average of 613 street trees per square kilometre, and 9% of young children had asthma.

The link between numbers of trees and asthma cases held true even after taking into account sources of pollution, levels of affluence and population density, the researchers said.

However, once these factors were taken into account, the number of trees in a street did not appear to have any impact on the number of children whose asthma was so severe that they required hospital treatment.

Exposure theory
Some experts believe that children who are exposed to few microbes in early life are at an increased risk of asthma because their immune systems do not get the practice they need at fighting infection. Therefore, if a tree-lined street encourages outside play, it might help reduce the risk of asthma by maximising the odds that children will be exposed to microbes.

However, trees are also a source of pollen, which may potentially exacerbate asthma symptoms in vulnerable children.

Lead researcher Dr Gina Lovasi admitted the effect, if any, of trees was far from clear.

She said: "There may be something else healthful about the areas that had more trees. "For example, trees could be more abundant in areas that are well maintained in other ways."

Leanne Male, assistant director of research at the charity Asthma UK, said: "Previous research looking at the influence of the environment on levels of asthma has focused on negative aspects, such as pollution and chemical exposure. "This innovative report is the first to look specifically at the potentially beneficial effects of trees in urban areas and raises some interesting issues. "However, there are a number of other factors that have not been considered, for example whether the families involved have pets.

"Despite the need for further work, this is a positive first step into a new area of research linking the environment and asthma."

New York City is planning to plant 1 million extra trees by 2017.

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