A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bureaucracy gone mad!

Drummondville town code states: that a vegetable garden can take up 30 percent of a front yard at most. They have given Landry and Beauchamp two weeks to comply. (After an outpouring of support for their refusal to remove it, it is now reported that this deadline may be extended.)

What is wrong with this picture, this is not an overgrown patch of weeds but a very productive and well cared for vegetable garden. Should we as a society not be encouraging such initiatives, the days of manicured lawns that look nice but produce nothing but more co2 from the lawnmower than they absorb should be phased out in favor of productive use of the ever decreasing green spaces in our cities. They are not the first folk to run afoul of antiquated or less than flexible city bylaws, those for whom wild flowers are preferable to grass have also run in to the same kind of nonsense. Neither are they the first ones to be personalized for growing vegetables, last summer a woman in Michigan faced the same sort of thing but the city was forced to back down after a public outcry.

Its time for city officials and other urban residents who have their head in the sand that the food on their plates does not magically appear in the grocery store and that food shortages are becoming an increasing reality for many. Perhaps this years drought conditions across North America and the ensuing increase in prices will help bring the point home.

Want to support this couple, why not start a veggi garden in your own urban front yard, just imagine a street of houses fronted by gardens with tomatoes, sweet corn, peas, beans, carrots, beets and so on.... what a beautiful sight that would be.....

Friday, July 13, 2012

We get mail.....

Recently I have been getting an increasing amount of Email, much of it due to getting on some 'media' list directed at my efforts at Democracy Under Fire which results in many political promotional material from U.S. 'consultants'. Most is sent directly to the electronic garbage bin however once in a while I get some interesting stuff.

I welcome the updates from Lead Now “a group of young Canadians taking action together for the fair, responsible and democratic Canada that we believe in.” Their latest projects are detailed below and I encourage those who are concerned with the direction that the Harper Regime is taking our democratic processes (and that SHOULD be all of you) to get involved.

  1. Pilot Campaigns to hold Conservative MPs accountable to their constituents

    We’d like to try an experiment: local mass-mobilization campaigns in key ridings. We’ll encourage Conservative MPs, especially back-benchers who won with less than 50% of the vote, to become pro-democracy independents before the next election. If 13 of them joined together they could shift the balance of power in Parliament, and hold the Harper Conservatives accountable to a majority of Canadians. This is a powerful strategy, and we need to do it right.

    Are you interested in committing your time to be part of a pilot campaign? Click here to sign up: Yes, I would like to volunteer as part of a local accountability campaign in my riding.

  1. Host a Leadnow Summer Gathering (July 24-August 10)

    The Leadnow Summer Gatherings will connect pro-democracy Canadians in a casual setting to meet each other, make local connections, and talk about our long-term strategy. Together, we’ll take the next step in hosting a national conversation to create a long-term campaign for major improvements to our democracy, with a focus on electoral reform. Our goal is to build a game-changing strategy before the 2015 federal election to make our democracy work better for all Canadians.

    Today, we’d just like to know if you’d be interested in hosting a Summer Gathering. Next week, we’ll send out an invitation for everyone in the Leadnow community to find and join the gathering closest to them.

    You can decide whether your Summer Gathering is public or private, whether it will be a big group or just you and a few friends, and whether it will take place at a local coffee shop, in your living room, or as a backyard BBQ. Click here to learn more about hosting a Leadnow Summer Gathering: http://www.tfaforms.com/250842

  1. Build the Pro-Democracy Movement Online

    Can’t join a Summer Gathering? No problem. Watch for another note from us in the next couple of weeks. We will ask for your feedback to help create the long-term democracy campaign focused on the 2015 election.


The second piece of 'interesting mail was from one of those 'consultants' promoting an info-graphic detailing the resources used in raising animals for food as opposed to the vegetarian diet. This was of interest to me because I am a lifelong vegetarian, however not for reasons of animal welfare, food resources or economics but simply for healthy eating. I have nothing against those that get a portion of their protein from animal sources however I do believe that, at least in North America, that greater diversity of diet needs to be practiced, moderation and a balanced diet is more important than what is part of that intake in my view.

That said we should bear in mind, given the increasing world population and finite food sources, that as the info-graphic details it takes much more resources to provide meat protein than direct intake of vegetable protein. Something to think about!


The third bit of mail was from the Edmonton Folk Music Festival detailing their efforts to making their even 'green' and have minimal impact upon the location and the environment as detailed below.

Since the 1980’s, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival (August 9th - 12th) has implemented a legion of 2,000+ volunteers that include an environmental crew, who have committed to minimizing the impact that the festival has on the local grounds. This task is not easy considering the four day event attracts over 80,000 people and Gallagher Park, where the festival takes place, has no paved pathways or roads.

Since the beginning, efforts to minimize impact on the environment during the festival included:
·         Installing temporary plastic walkways to minimize damage to the park
·         Sending out cleaning crews throughout the day to pick up garbage: the morning clean-up crew, called EnviroPower, is staffed by youth volunteers and then the Site Environment crew monitors the park during the day and evenings.
·         Recycling: the Festival Site Environment collects recyclable items to minimize garbage sent to the landfill and composts organic waste generated during the Festival.
·         Restoring Gallagher Park: this includes removing facilities and equipment in a timely manner and restoring the grass.

Over the past few years, the green movement has grown and other programs that have been instated are:
·         Bringing in 5,000 washable plates to onsite concessionaries and implementing a ‘No Styrofoam’ policy on site.
·         Using Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) beer cups which derive entirely from natural corn materials, is 100% renewable through annual corn harvests and fully compostable. Installing solar panels on merchandising tents which run lights and cash registers
·         The Festival and all concessionaries use bio-degradable cutlery, napkins and other products which are composted

Congratulation to the organizers for their efforts, these large outdoor events do have a considerable impact upon the surroundings and any effort to minimize it is a good thing. Well done folks.


Please note that this is NOT an invite for every organization or 'public relations firm to send me a bunch of crap in the hope that I will republish it on my blogs. I some how have been added to a U.S. media list that has left me inundated with mostly political 'Info Blasts' that I have little or no interest in. No doubt that much of that is due to my 'Democracy Under Fire' pages but some have bled over into the 'Rural Canadian', I do like to keep up on CANADIAN political stuff and in these days of kill the messenger it is NESSARY to keep up with environmental and scientific concerns. In short if you are reading this please use restraint in using my email links supplied for those reader that are not comfortable (or internet savvy) enough to use the comment section. Dialog is good ...... but too much crap from 'media relation' types simply clogs the pipes!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Environmental Extremes

By now any one who is not totally brain dead knows that climate change is a reality, how much of that is due to human activity is open to debate but we most certainly have a major part in in it. Given the extremes of weather and threats to our rivers, forests, flora and fauna by both the changing conditions and the threats from industrial activity one would think that governments at all levels would all be pulling in the same direction to protect our environment.

We all know of course that this is not true, our Federal Government who should be leading the charge is in fact opening up our natural world to further destruction by reducing both the regulations and the staff that enforce them as well as our scientific experts that study what, why and how these things are happening and what to do about it.

On the other hand the Ontario Provincial Government seems to be going to the opposite extreme. Although they have all but suspended environmental assessments for industrial wind farm installations in their rush to say that they are supporting 'green' initiatives they are going overboard to protect 'wetlands' and other 'habitat'. It seems that now a farmers field that occasionally floods and sees a flock of geese drop in for a rest could be designated a protected wetland.

What follow then are extracts from a couple of articles describing opposite extremes of government actions, somewhere between these two their must be a reasonable level of environmental protection whist still allowing controlled development where necessary. Its a tough balancing act, I will let you decide where that balance lays, for there will be no consensus on this one, nor will we have any meaningful say in trying to find same.

DFO Program & Staff Cuts.
Today all DFO (Department of Fisheries & Oceans - who are / were also responsible for fish habitat in rivers & streams) habitat protection and management staff in Canada are receiving letters that they are now "red-circled" - i.e. they are being affected by Bill C-38 with it's budget and habitat legislation and
program cuts (i.e. DFO downsizing) and many will soon not have a job. Staff were directed to not discuss this with anyone and only DFO Ottawa was allowed to comment on the issue. 132 habitat staff across Canada will be fired (laid off) in the next few months in that many will have to compete for remaining jobs. In the Pacific Region, they now have 92 staff and that is to be reduced to 60 - an approximate 33% cut in staff. Also, all habitat office locations in Pacific Region are to be closed down, with the exception of Whitehorse, Prince Rupert, Kamloops, Vancouver and Nanaimo.
Ottawa has given all DFO habitat staff directions to remove the "Habitat Management Program" title from their organization and from their offices, etc. in that they are now to be called the "Fisheries Protection Program".

All DFO habitat protection offices from Quebec to the BC-Alberta border, i.e. Central and Arctic Region, will also be drastically cut and all offices will be shut down except in Ottawa, Burlington, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Yellowknife. It is indicated that of 63 DFO offices in Canada with habitat staff (now "fisheries protection" staff), most will be closed and the number of offices having habitat-type program staff will be reduced to 14 for a giant geographic area - i.e. Canada.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources says the changes are just extra criteria to fill gaps in existing wildlife protection rules. They would apply to new developments such as subdivisions, commercial construction or wind turbines, not to smaller projects such as renovating a house.
The scope is broader than anything Ontario has seen before. The draft rules would protect butterflies, toads, salamanders, deer, red spruce, white oak, alvars, sand dunes, bogs, owls, farm fields that flood in the spring, geese, springs, bears, lichens, gulls, turtles, sandpipers, mink, wolves, ospreys, and “dancing grounds” of the sharp-tailed grouse.
These include urban species such as ring-billed gulls (familiar wherever French fries are sold), merlins (a small hawk common in Ottawa) and “nuisance” geese.
More specifically, the following would be designated as Significant Wildlife Habitat:
• Any wetland with 20 or more frogs or tadpoles;
• Large buffer areas around nests of Cooper’s hawks, ring-billed gulls, Canada geese or most ducks, all of which are found in urban Ottawa;
• Farm fields that flood in spring if they are stopovers for 100 or more migrating geese or ducks;
• A single snapping turtle nest, or a pond where five painted turtles spend the winter;
• Any hawk or owl nest in a forest;
• A cliff and the “talus” (fallen rocks) at its base;
• Any stand of trees where 10 per cent or more of the trees are white oak;
• “Corridors” where toads, deer, or salamanders move from spot to spot;
• Any spring or “seep” where groundwater comes to the surface.
In all, the draft outlines habitats of hundreds of types of plants and animals, ranging from forests to beaches to farms and suburbs.
The draft document on Significant Wildlife Habitat was posted on a provincial website in the spring, but attracted little notice. It is on the Environmental Registry website, reference number 011-5740. The period for comments is closed.
And there you have it, the two extremes from two different levels of government, and both of them IMHO as troubling as the other.