Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bike to Work Week!

Bike to Work Week is rolling along right now! It runs from May 30 - June 5...join in on the fun! Check out their website for more information: http://www.biketowork.ca/

Here is a statement about Bike to Work Week that I made yesterday in the BC Legislature:

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tod Creek Flats Update

On May 18th, my community office helped organize a community gathering led by Friends of the Tod Creek Watershed.

Tod Creek Flats is a floodplain along Tod Creek as it drains north from Prospect Lake into Tod Inlet. The regular flooding makes for valuable agricultural land – all the nutrients get deposited as the water drains away – and also raises concerns for neighbours who need to protect their property.

The Flats don’t drain as quickly or thoroughly as they used to. Over a century of development in the area - including houses, roads and farms – has had a big impact on the drainage patterns.

David Cubberley and engaged community
The District of Saanich clearly recognizes the need to manage floodplains for ecological and agricultural reasons as well as for safety. The District established a working group and the working group became the Friends of Tod Creek Watershed – who, in 2008, partnered with Saanich to commission Murdoch de Greef to draft a report on the historical flow patterns.

The report was presented to Saanich and the Friends in the fall of 2009. Since then, the Friends have been trying to get funding to conduct the full hydrological studies needed to determine the next steps.

Over 30 landowners and interested parties joined the discussion. At the last minute, duties at the Legislative Assembly kept me from attending, but David Cubberley, former MLA was kind enough to step in and play the part of the welcoming committee, along with my assistant Erika Rolston.

Scott Murdoch did an excellent job presenting his report: an overview of the changes to the area over the last century and the results of a design charette in the summer of 2008. The results were met with some concern that solutions would be limited to the options discussed in the report.

Scott Murdoch
Deborah Curran, local land owner and Smart Growth BC co-founder, jumped in and made it very clear that the options in the report are only the beginning of the discussions. Deborah has been involved in this effort for some time now and – as professor of environmental law - is very knowledgeable about the hoops that need jumping. She spoke to the different levels of government, each with their own abilities and constraints with respect to environmental regulations. Deborah has been speaking with UVic faculty about the possibility of an environmental engineering program taking on Tod Creek Flats as an ongoing study.

Finally, Mary Haig-Brown was asked to speak as Chair of Friends of Tod Creek Watershed. She spoke very clearly to the need to persevere now so that our grandchildren do not have to fix the issues that our grandparents started.

I’ve heard from several people that it was a very informative evening and an important step forward. In adddition to David, Erika and the Friends, I’d like to thank the neighbours for their thoughtful and frank input, and the First Unitarian Church of Victoria for sharing their beautiful space and providing delicious snacks.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Outerbridge Gardens

I spent a wonderful afternoon at an open house for Outerbridge Gardens today. What a fantastic surprise to meet Mrs. Outerbridge also attending the event. Mrs. Outerbridge just celebrated her 90th birthday and is still very much dedicated to the vision of this incredible place in Saanich South. If you would like to visit, the main park entrance is off of Royal Oak Drive, adjacent to 1181 Royal Oak Drive. It has very limited parking and is best to walk in from the street or cycle there.

Outerbridge Gardens is a 9.3 acre property once owned by Mrs. Outerbridge from the late 80s to 2005. For a number of years the property was known locally as the ‘Shangri-La Bird and Nature Sanctuary’ and was open to the public.

She spent years creating the gardens, ponds and landscape features to create an oasis for wildlife, particularly birds. Now it is in the hands of Saanich and has many loving volunteers. They are always looking for more volunteers and you can connect with Outerbridge through Horticulture Center of the Pacific!

I would like to thank the volunteers who put on this event today. I had a great time!


May 29th is the Day of the Honey Bee in BC!

This past Thursday I celebrated bees! Click here for Bees in the Legislature

Friday, May 27, 2011

HST on bikes shows government is back-pedaling!

Here is a question that I asked Kevin Falcon, the deputy Premier and Minister of Finance today in the Legislature.

For more than thirty years, bikes (and bike expenses like repairs, helmets and locks) were PST exempt. Why? Because successive governments agreed it made no sense to tax such a healthy and environmentally-friendly form of transportation.

In fact, it was Hugh Curtis, a Socred Finance Minister and Saanich South MLA who first made this decision. In a Budget Speech in 1981, he said that cycling would be PST exempt because “it is consistent with a healthier, quieter and more energy-efficient society.”

This rationale has only become stronger over time as we’ve learned more about the benefits of healthy living and the importance of reducing our carbon emissions. The more we can encourage people to ride bikes rather than drive cars, the better it is for everyone. It means less traffic congestion, less wear and tear on our roads and lower health-care costs.

I wonder if the B.C. government can explain how jacking up the price of a bike is going to help make B.C. more sustainable or encourage people to make healthy lifestyle choices. How does this possibly advance B.C.’s Climate Action Plan?

And now, after increasing the cost of cycling by 7%, does the government really believe British Columbians are going to fall for a promise to reduce that tax hike by 1 % in a year, and another 1% a year later? Let's not forget that we were promised in writing during the last election that a HST would not be introduced.

Only two months ago, Premier Clark ruled out reducing the HST rate, saying 'I think people will see that as buying them with their own money,' yet here she is, doing exactly that.

We need a different approach. I believe we should be creating incentives for green transportation, and disincentives for more polluting forms of transportation. Standing up for cyclists as an Opposition MLA is one way that I can help keep the pressure on.

A government that increases taxes on green transportation is a government traveling in the wrong direction. Please show your support by joining our 'Squeaky Wheels Get the Grease' facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=168651903391

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Take Back the Tap!

Here I am with Community Activist Ed Pullman
and Saanich Councillor Vicki Sanders
In a little over a decade, over-priced plastic bottles of water have gone from a niche market product to a ubiquitous item seen and sold everywhere we go. This despite the fact that the vast majority of Canadians have access to safe and clean drinking water through their municipal water system.

Why do people spend their hard-earned money on plastic bottles of water? Some people claim it tastes  better than tap water. But analysts estimate between 25 and 40 percent of bottled water is simply reprocessed municipal tap water.

Of course plastic bottles of water are convenient. Advertising, which accounts for 10 to 15 percent of the price of a bottle of water, has successfully associated bottled water with a healthy lifestyle and a status symbol.

While many of us think nothing of this process, the environmental externalities associated with bottled water are something we cannot continue to ignore.

Bottled water consumes substantial amounts of non-renewable fuels to process, package and transport, creating adverse air quality and climate change impacts. It takes approximately three litres of water to manufacture a one litre plastic water bottle!

Although plastic bottles can be recycled, anywhere from 40% and 80% of empty bottles end up as litter. According to an Encorp Pacific recycling report, over 40 million plastic water bottles went into BC landfills alone!

In Saanich we already pay taxes to provide us with a safe and highly regulated service providing clean and fresh water. Does it make sense to encourage unnecessary use of plastic-bottle water?

Many groups have taken up the cause of reclaiming tap water, including The Polaris institute, Sierra Youth Coalition, CUPE and the Canadian Federation of Students. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has passed a resolution urging municipalities to phase out the sale and purchase of bottled water at their own facilities. Dozens of cities and universities across the country have gone or have committed to going bottled water free.

Locally, Saanich councillors recently offered unanimous support for a motion championed by councillor Vicki Sanders to phase out bottled water sales in its recreation centres and municipal buildings over the next three years. Water fountains in buildings will be upgraded with filling stations and Saanich will launch an education campaign promoting the use of personal water bottles. Esquimalt, North and Central Saanich councils have enacted similar efforts at reducing bottled water consumption.

Undergraduate students at the University of Victoria recently voted 85% in favour to phasing out bottled water and improving access to public drinking water through more water fountains and water bottle refilling stations. I’m impressed to see young people taking the lead and making such a strong statement against bottled water.

The Capital Regional District is privileged to have access to an abundance of fresh potable water through such sources as the Sooke Reservoir and Leech River. This natural system is a treasure. The average cost of a litre of our world class drinking water? Less than one-tenth of a penny! That beats the toonie you have to shell out at a vending machine. In fact, a substantial percentage of bottled water is simply re-filtered municipal tap water from another city that’s been packaged and transported hundreds or thousands of miles.

With efforts from municipal governments and civil society, what role can the provincial government play in reducing bottled water consumption? Should we begin to phase out bottled water sales at crown corporations, ministry and other provincial buildings? Could we step up education efforts and awareness campaigns?

There is no single solution to reducing bottled water consumption. Changing consumer culture takes time, patience and initiative. But I know from my efforts to encourage re-usable shopping bags in Saanich that change can happen.

What can the provincial government do to reduce bottled water consumption? Send me your thoughts and comments. lana.popham.mla@leg.bc.ca


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spring 2011 Constituency Report - Video

Lana Popham, April, 2011.


BC Transit has recently completed a long and exhaustive study on rapid transit options in the Capital Regional District (CRD). This two year study consulted a broad range of business and community groups and gave careful consideration to the alignment and technology best suited for rapid transit.

Using a multiple-account evaluation accounting for business, social and environmental impacts (also known as triple bottom line), it concluded light rail transit connecting Downtown to Uptown to the Western Communities via Douglas Street, the Trans Canada Highway and Old Island Highway is the best option to relieve traffic congestion while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Light rail will also allow for densification around train stations that will have numerous transportation, health and economic benefits for current and future residents.

Now that the plan has been presented, Greater Victoria has a historic choice to make. We can do nothing. We can expand roads and build overpasses. Or we can build light rail.

Doing nothing is not an option. Congestion is already reaching a breaking point. As population growth in the Western Communities continues, the Colwood crawl into Victoria on weekday mornings and back in the afternoon will only worsen. BC Transit is losing millions of dollars and hundreds of service hours to buses stuck in traffic congestion. In addition, they reported a transit ridership decline last year for the first time in many years. The status quo is simply unacceptable.

Expanding roads may offer a short term solution to congestion problems, but this will only make matters worse in the long run. We must consider the downstream costs of increasing capacity on our roads: the costs of new parking facilities, increased traffic accidents and insurance payouts, worsening health outcomes from more people driving, displacing congestion to roads and intersections that won’t be upgraded and so on. It’s been said that dealing with traffic congestion through expanding roads is like dealing with a weight problem by buying a bigger belt. I couldn’t agree more!

For myself and many others, the need for Light Rail is self-evident.

As MLA for Saanich South, I will continue to be a strong voice for an LRT solution. By working with community, our community leaders, local politicians, and senior government, we should be able to find our way to a financially responsible plan which solves our growing transportation crisis. I see senior Government coming to the table with at least two thirds cost-sharing. It’s a smart investment in our future: it brings our money back into our communities, and improves our quality of life.

Please sign our petition at www.lrt4crd.ca to show your support for LRT.

Yours sincerely,

Lana Popham
MLA, Saanich South

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Restore the Tod Creek Flats

On May 18, 2011 come explore ideas to restore Tod Creek Flats. This wetland area just north of Prospect Lake has been impacted by human activities for 150 years. Now there is a plan to bring back its ecological integrity.

The Friends of Tod Creek Watershed and Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South invite you to attend this open house.

TOPIC: Tod Creek Flats Integrated Management Plan

SPEAKERS: Deborah Curran, local land owner and Environmental Lawyer and Scott Murdoch, of Murdoch de Greeff Inc, who prepared the plan.

DATE: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 TIME: 6:00pm – 8:30pm

PLACE: the Unitarian Church at 5575 West Saanich Road