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Archive for the ‘Environment’

Geocaching and the Gatineau Park Ecosystem Conservation Plan

March 23, 2010 @ 20:52 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Environment, Geocaching, In the news

The National Capital Commission has released some additional information about the Gatineau Park Ecosystem Conservation Plan on their website. Specifically, they have released a Fact Sheet, the Priority Initiatives and a document about the species at risk. The full 120+ page report has yet to be made available in electronic form, but I think that you can view it at the NCC Library.

In the Priority Initiatives document are the various activities that will be affected by the GPECP. Besides basically saying ice climbing is pretty much banned from the Eardley Escarpment because it may interfere with deer in the winter (even though other parts of the plan suggest that there are too many deer in the park and the law being used as the justification is a provincial law and not a federal law), it also mentions geocaching.


Conservation versus Recreation: The Gatineau Park Ecosystem Conservation Plan

March 22, 2010 @ 18:49 By: gordon Category: Climbing, Current affairs, Environment, In the news

Climbing at Luskville 044 The National Capital Commission released the Gatineau Park Ecosystem Conservation Plan (PDF version) last week, which they’re calling “an essential reference document for Gatineau Park through 2035”. Basically, the GPECP is a long-term plan for the management of the various ecosystems in Gatineau Park. It describes the current state of and threats to the ecosystems and the steps that they believe must be followed to in order to protect and restore them.

Included in the GPECP are key actions on how they’re going to deal with various issues, including some that directly impact the rock climbing on the Eardley Escarpment. Specifically, they seek to “[c]onfine rock climbing to the two or three most damaged rock walls, where rehabilitation work will not be effective.”

They plan on achieving this by…

  • Identifying two or three walls on which rock climbing could take place, based on their impact on the Eardley Escarpment ecosystem, their current level of damage and their popularity (also applies to Eardley Escarpment).
  • Changing the boundaries of the integral conservation zone, as set out in the Gatineau Park Master Plan, to accommodate these walls.
  • Restoring the environment of former climbing sites that are not selected, including any access trails.

Effectively, this means that the number of routes available to rocks climbers will drop from an estimated 500 route to as few as 40. In other words, a 90% reduction in the number of available routes.


Warm weather means turn your engine off

March 16, 2010 @ 12:37 By: gordon Category: Environment, Weather

I just checked the Environment Canada website and at noon today the temperature was 10C. This means that Ottawa drivers risk running afoul of the by-law enforcement officers if they’re observed idling their cars for more than three minutes if the temperature is 5C or warmer, taking into consideration the windchill. I don’t recall hearing about anyone being charged since they started enforcing it a couple of years ago, so perhaps Ottawa drivers are turning off their engines when they’re waiting to pick someone up.

What do you think of this by-law?

One can actually use too much salt

February 17, 2010 @ 12:55 By: gordon Category: Environment, General

Salt is a popular way to get rid of ice that’s formed on sidewalks and roads. The City of Ottawa applies tonnes of salt to Ottawa’s roads and sidewalks every winter. So much, in fact, that a few years ago they started using brine solutions and pre-wetting the rock salt because both are more effective than dry rock salt and result in less salt being used, which is a Good Thing.

From a driver’s point of view, salt is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it results in safer roads and a curse because it can damage cars. From an environmentalist’s point of view, it’s a real problem because it can have a serious impact on the plants and animals it comes into contact with.  From a building owner’s point of view it’s also a a mixed blessing: No ice means people aren’t going to sue you, but at the same time it can quickly damage concrete and cement.

But some building owners seem to be sacrificing the longevity of their buildings at all costs. Last week, one building I walk by every day on my way to work had almost a solid layer of salt on all of the steps and walkways. Salt was building up in the corners and you could see it creeping up the concrete, outlining every crack and crevice. Yesterday, I noticed bright new patches of rust on some of the railings that were caked in salt, so it’s starting to eat away at them, too.

True, the building has absolutely no ice problems, but that less because of the salt and more because there hasn’t been a lot of ice this winter. If they keep this salt application strategy going, they’re not going to have much of a building left.

I’m wondering how they’re going to clean up all their salt when spring finally arrives. Hopefully, they’ll be responsible and scoop it up to be used next winter rather than getting the pressure washers out and washing it down the storm sewers. Already you can see trails from the runoff from their property leading to the sewers.

More effects of “zero means zero”

October 11, 2008 @ 09:21 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Environment

The mayor’s “zero means zero” policy has reared its ugly head again. Yesterday’s 24 hours, Sun Media’s free daily newspaper, had a front-page story with the headline “Fuel plan may cut OC service”.  Basically, the Eco-Driving Plan’s goal is to reduce the city’s consumption of fuel by 25%.  Since OC Transpo accounts for 76% of the total fuel consumption, they’re going to take the bulk of this cut.

The report is scheduled to be tabled at a meeting of the transportation committee next week.  It proposes massive cutbacks to OC Transpo, including an across-the-board 25% reduction in service and the elimination of 20 bus routes.  Even the core Transitway routes, the 95, 96 and 97, are going to subject to both regular- and peak-hour cutbacks.

Naturally, service cuts like this are going to affect the number of users and thus the revenues.

There would likely be decrease in public transit ridership of between 10% and 15%.  This would translate into a loss of 32,000 to 48,000 passengers per day. — the report

This plan, if enacted, will result a huge increase in the number of vehicles on the road, particularly as most people drive to work alone. More vehicles on the roads means more wear and tear to the roads, so they’ll have to be inspected and repaired more frequently. This is going to be a problem since the city recently decided not to increase the number of road inspectors.

And it begs to be asked how this plan is consistent with the four main goals of the City’s Environmental Strategy, which are:

  • To be a green city where greenspace is preserved and enhanced
  • Development in harmony with nature through better ecosystem planning and design
  • A focus on walking, cycling and transit to encourage sustainable transportation choices
  • Clean air, water and earth as resource use, waste, emissions and energy use are all reduced.

Clearly, more vehicles on the road is going to result in an increase in emissions and energy use and this plan can hardly be said to “encourage sustainable transportation”.  Expect air quality to decrease as the number of vehicles on the road increases.

But traffic and environmental problems won’t be the only result. It will also almost certainly increase unemployment in the city.  Fewer bus routes and a reduced level of service means they won’t need as many bus drivers.

Hopefully, this report is an extreme what-if scenario by city staff to drive the point home that the city cannot continue to operate under “zero means zero” cutbacks. I would question the suitability-to-lead of any councillor who would vote to support such an irresponsible plan.

frogLight: a bright idea

September 06, 2008 @ 11:17 By: gordon Category: Environment

frogware_lightbulb_cs_2 A lot of people like compact fluorescent lightbulbs, but I’m not one of them.  While it’s true that a CFL will consume less energy than a conventional incandescent during the same amount of time — which is a Good Thing — they are problematic to dispose of when they do eventually die.  Because they contain mercury, phosphorous and other nasty things they are hazardous waste and shouldn’t be thrown in the garbage.  Though it’s true that they contain less mercury than your typical fluorescent tube, they nonetheless contain mercury, which will eventually leach into the environment if put in a conventional landfill, which is a Bad Thing.

While surfing the ‘net recently, I came across frog design’s website.  The clever people at frog design have come up with an LED light bulb concept that claims to offer “better energy efficiency than CFLs without the toxic mercury, provides a desirable light quality and dimming capability, and fits into the socket connection of the incandescent—all in a package that will last 30 years”.

Now that truly is a bright idea!

The anti-bottled water bandwagon

August 25, 2008 @ 00:27 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Environment

Have you noticed that it’s become fashionable for cities to ban bottled water?  It started earlier this summer with Vancouver declaring war on bottled water.  They feel that since tap water in their city is perfectly fine more people should be drinking it at home rather than buying bottled water.

If a city council wants to lead by example and ban the sale of bottled water on their premises, that’s not a bad thing.  In fact, it’s to be expected.  But they need to provide alternatives such as water fountains.

A lot of cities have vending machines in their buildings that offer a wide variety of soft drinks, power drinks, sports drinks, and bottled water.  Arguably, bottled water is the probably the healthiest drink in that list.  If you take away bottled water, people going to the vending machines will almost certainly be choosing the less-healthy alternative.

Last week, London announced it was jumping on the bandwagon by banning the sale of bottled water in city facilities.  Their rationale was that over the last few years they noticed that garbage trucks were getting lighter, rather than heavier.  They should have been getting heavier as time marched on and more trash was diverted to the recycling stream.  But they were getting lighter because the number of empty plastic bottles being thrown into the trash rather than the recycling boxes.  A non-trivial problem and since they can’t ban the sale of bottled water in their city, they chose also chose to lead by example and ban the sale of bottled water in city facilities.

North Bay, on the other hand, has indicated they’re not jumping on this particular bandwagon because they’d rather deal with some unrecycled plastic bottles in their landfills and have people pick a bottle of water over a bottle of pop.

“If people have the choice between bottled water and pop, we would rather they choose a bottle of water” — Alan Korell, North Bay’s managing director of engineering and environmental works (from an article in The Nugget)

It’ll be interesting to see which other cities hop on the anti-bottled water bandwagon and why.  Guelph looks like they’re getting ready and a couple of councillors in Ottawa have been making noises, too.

Any bets as to who’s next?