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Why Open Interactive Environments Can Foster a More Authentic Learning Experience

Written by Tiffany Li , School Gardens Summer Intern This past summer, working with SPEC as the School Gardens Program Intern, I had the invaluable opportunity to slow down and reflect on the past year as a full time online student. Being outside in the gardens was a sharp contrast to the fifteen hours of daily … Why Open Interactive Environments...

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Ecosystem Services Are Important

There are many problems in today’s world, and two of the most pressing are climate change and species extinctions. It is easy to lose hope; when unable to imagine a happy healthy future, many of us throw our hands in the air. At SPEC however, we work with a group of people who instead throw … Ecosystem Services Are Important...

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Farm to Plate Marketplace – Rethinking Our Food Systems

Written by Christina Papadatos-Dupont (Farm-to-Plate Marketing Manager) In Canada, $8.11 billion worth of food is wasted every year at the distribution and retail stages of our food supply chain (source: The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste: Technical Report). This does not include unavoidable, byproduct waste (such as animal bones); this speaks strictly of avoidable wasted food. When apples are … Farm to Plate Marketplace...

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Reflections on a Village Elder: Patricia Lane and the Ethics of Service

Written By Dr. Carole Christopher, SPEC Guiding Elder and Director I met Patricia (Patty to me) 35 years ago when she was a lawyer with the BC Federation of Labour and I coordinated an ecumenical Centre for Justice & Peace.  We bonded around shared faith, a core belief in the common good, and a commitment to … Reflections on a Village...

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Fall Garden Maintenance

Written by Dr. Carole Christopher, SPEC Guiding Elder, Director, Master Gardener It’s mid November and we are in the middle of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.  A lot of people took up food gardening this Spring and I know that gardening is an amazing passion but also has discouraging surprises, especially for new … Fall Garden Maintenance Read...

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The Neuroscience of Gardening

Written by Nicole Greig This fall, I am starting my 3rd term at University of British Columbia (UBC) in the Behavioural Neuroscience program. The key thing I’ve learned in university is how essential taking care of your mental health is! Between the last minute scramble to answer questions on my exam to sprinting to a … The Neuroscience of Gardening...

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Calculating your Carbon Footprint – Interview with Holden Bonwit

Please note that the views and opinions expressed in our guest content is theirs, and does not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of our organization Have you ever thought about reducing your carbon footprint? Magali Vander Vorst, a SPEC volunteer sits down with Holden Bonwit, an Engineer and Business Consultant on his experience … Calculating your Carbon Footprint...

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Six Reasons Why You Should Donate on Giving Tuesday

Written by Robin Hadac. Robin is an incoming board member and former Communications Coordinator at SPEC. She is passionate about environmental causes and loves inspiring others through storytelling. After Cyber Monday is Giving Tuesday, also known as National Giving Day. Giving Tuesday is a global movement for giving and volunteering, during a time of year when charities, … Six Reasons Why You...

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I Went Four Years Without Buying New Clothing – Learn How You Can Too

By Ella Kim-Marriott Ella is a second year UBC student from Vancouver, BC studying sociology and geography with hopes of furthering research on the topic of consumerism. She currently works at the package-free grocery store Nada, and volunteers for various environmental organizations such as Greenpeace. Recently in the media, there has been a lot of … I Went Four Years...

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An Interview with Daniel Rotman, a Director at SPEC

This article was originally posed on Reel Causes, the host of this event. On April 17th, Reel Causes is screening Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, a cinematic meditation on humanity’s massive reengineering of the planet, and following it with a panel discussion addressing waste reduction with community cause Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC), the oldest environmental non-profit in Canada. Daniel … An Interview with Daniel...

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5 Tips for Eco-Conscious Declutting

By Alice Robertson Decluttering is a growing trend, but are Canadians truly committing to a minimalist lifestyle or is decluttering just an excuse to clear up space for more stuff? Image via Unsplash There are real benefits to a clutter-free home. Not only does your home look better when it’s neatly-organized, but a clutter-free home also promotes focus … 5 Tips for Eco-Conscious...

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Members Corner – November Edition

Members’ Corner is a monthly blog series where SPEC members share their favourite sustainability-related resources. You should watch: Can Sustainable Plastics Save Us?  featuring Dr. Love-Ese Chile – Webcast  Daniel Rotman, Co-Chair – Waste Committee & SPEC Board Member There is a lot of mis- and incorrect information on bioplastics and plastics in general, and this … Members Corner – November...

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Proportional Representation or First Past the Post?

By Dr. Carole Christopher, SPEC President We’re told that sharing our intentions with friends may influence their decision about whether to vote and how to vote in the referendum on Proportional Representation.  With that in mind, and knowing that good hearted people can disagree, I’d like to ask you to vote for Proportional Representation.   The easy … Proportional Representation or First...

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Saving the City’s Wildlife

By Ali Dawson Living in the city, it’s not every day that you get a chance to connect with nature. Spending too much time living in the concrete jungle can have an adverse effect on your health. It’s important to spend some time around nature every once in a while. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you … Saving the City’s Wildlife...

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BCSEA Event: Energy Connections 2018 – Transition to Clean Transportation

By: Steve Fetterly, P.Eng., SPEC Energy and Transportation Committee On a Saturday in mid-September, BC Sustainable Energy Association (BCSEA) hosted an annual event with this year’s theme focused on BC’s transition to clean transportation (learn more here). A number of representatives from the public, private and non-profit sectors excitedly came together to share past lessons learned … BCSEA Event: Energy Connections...

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Members Corner – October Edition

Members’ Corner is a monthly blog series where SPEC members share their favourite sustainability-related resources. You should read: the article “The Future of Cities” by Taras Grescoe Art Bomke, SPEC Board of Director and Food & Environment Committee Co-Chair I think this is especially relevant in Metro Vancouver as we approach the October 20th municipal elections … Members Corner – October...

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Preparing to Vote on Proportional Representation

By Dr. Carole Christopher, SPEC President Ballots will arrive in October for the referendum on Proportional Representation (PR.) It’s an opportunity to express your point of view on whether to change our electoral system from first-past-the-post (FPTP) to proportional representation (PR).   Both Systems have their proponents and their critics. Under FPTP, “the winner takes all,” … Preparing to Vote on...

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Fireworks…HMMM

By SPEC President, Dr. Carole Christopher Fireworks. I found myself consciously not watching the fireworks this year. A couple of decades ago in the early years of this annual event, I went with friends to Vanier Park to see the fireworks. I was hoping to reconnect with an awesome experience in 1976 in Riverside Park, … Fireworks…HMMM Read More »

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Met the Zero Waste Champions from Emily Carr Elementary

An inside look on how Emily Carr Elementary completely revamped their waste system and diverted 800 pounds of recyclables from the landfill. Teacher Cadine (left) with the team of student volunteers that sort classroom waste and recycling. Emily Carr Elementary School is on a mission. Two years ago, the school took the Zero Waste Challenge … Met the Zero Waste...

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July Members Corner

Members’ Corner is a new, monthly blog series where SPEC members share our favourite sustainability-related resources. You should watch: Merchants of Doubt Amarita Pooni, Westside Community Food Market Coordinator A documentary that looks at pundits-for-hire who present themselves as scientific authorities as they speak about topics like toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals and climate change. It is really … July Members Corner Read...

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The Fight Against Site C is Still On!

We recently posted a blog post by SPEC’s President, Dr. Carole Christopher, on creating dialogue and building solidarity across differences. While the post mentions the Kinder Morgan Pipeline issue that seems to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds these days, the arguments raised in the blog post are just as relevant for the fight against Site … The Fight Against Site...

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John Norquay: The School Garden Buzzing with Excitement

By Robin Hadac and Nikoo Boroumand At the Farm to School BC Spring Celebration, one of the schools SPEC works with, John Norquay Elementary, was awarded the highest award for a school garden. The Farm to School BC Pollinator Award recognizes Farm to School programs and school teams that act as pollinators within their community: … John Norquay: The School...

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Catalyzing Collaboration Across Small-Scale, Diversified Agriculture Organizations

By Olga Lansdorp, Tara Moreau, and Robin Hadac Today, there is a group of individuals representing educational institutions, non-profit organizations, cooperatives, and other groups with a focus on small-scale, diversified agriculture, who are all aware of what the other organizations strive to accomplish over the next five years. They are also aware of the funding … Catalyzing Collaboration Across Small-Scale,...

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Building Solidarity Across Differences

By Dr. Carole Christopher, SPEC President & Elder Image: Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain Expansion construction. From Burnaby Now. SPEC opposes the local pipeline expansion on the basis of environmental risk. But we also believe that the deeply polarized public discourse around this and similar projects is a major factor stalling efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate … Building Solidarity Across Differences...

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Is There Another Option? How Tupper Secondary School Reduced Waste by 600%

By Magali Vander Vorst, SPEC Board Member Image: Regan in the Tupper Secondary School’s Teaching Kitchen Patricia Regan is the chef and teacher at the Tupper Secondary School’s Teaching Kitchen, where they serve 120 to 140 meals a day and barely use any single-use plastic. Regan is a passionate educator who brings her sustainability values to … Is There Another Option?...

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Members’ Corner – June Edition

Members’ Corner is a new, monthly list of recommendations on our favourite sustainability-related resources. You Should Read: How To Have a Zero Waste Kitchen, by Tony Naylor at The Guardian Ruth Briggs, member of SPEC’s Board and Energy and Transportation Committee Are you sure you can’t eat that? Food waste is a huge problem globally, and … Members’ Corner – June...

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Need a Charge? Electric Vehicle Charging in Older Apartments

By Andre Jankowski, from SPEC Energy Committee Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more popular in Vancouver. The annual sales of EVs are rapidly increasing reflecting the growing desire among the population to switch over from gas and diesel-powered cars to EVs powered by clean electricity. The most commonly cited concerns inhibiting decisions to purchase an … Need a Charge? Electric...

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Right to Dry: Tips to Save Energy While Drying Clothing

By Carole Christopher Carole is SPEC’s President and sits on the Food and Environment Committee. She is also an important part of SPEC’s Elder’s Circle program. Now that you know how much energy clothes dryers use, perhaps you’re motivated to try more energy efficient options. Here’s a few tips that will save energy and save your … Right to Dry: Tips...

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Recap From the 2018 Small Scale Farmers’ Symposium

By Olga Lansdorp Olga is the program manager for SPEC’s Climate Change Adaptation for Small Scale Farmers program.  It was a cold, windy morning in late January, but that didn’t stop the farmers, presenters, volunteers, and other interested parties from coming to the Scandinavian Community Centre in Burnaby, BC. It promised to be a day filled with … Recap From the 2018...

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Lessons from the DFWT: A Model for Community Based Conservation

By Art Bomke and Wayne Temple Art Bomke is a SPEC Director and co-wrote this piece for the Delta Farmland & Wildlife Trust newsletter. You can find the complete article here.  In the Beginning: It’s hard to believe that nearly 25 years have flown by since the inception of the Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust (DF&WT). In spite of … Lessons from the DFWT:...

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Revitalizing the Right to Dry Campaign

Presented by the SPEC Energy & Transportation Committee For Vancouver residents hoping to reduce energy consumption at home, switching from a clothes dryer to a clothesline is an easy and affordable option. Yet some residents hoping to use clotheslines are being denied their right to dry.   If you live in a strata complex and have … Revitalizing the Right to...

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Party Pocket: Meet the Shambhala Music Festival Sustainability Superstars!

This summer, Shambhala Music Festival celebrated their 20th year anniversary at Salmo River Ranch, and in honour of their anniversary Shambhala launched The Greater Good Contribution Contest. The Greater Good Contribution Contest celebrates Shambhala camps that make a positive impact on the Shambhala experience, local communities, or abroad. The three winners of the contest are … Party Pocket: Meet the...

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Time to Update the Motor Vehicle Act

By Chris Gooderham, a member of SPEC’s Board and the Energy & Transportation Committee As road traffic in the Vancouver area increases with the use of more vehicles, bicycles, e-bikes, skateboards, and other modes of transportation, taking a good look at the “Motor Vehicle Act” is long overdue. Simply put, the Motor Vehicle Act needs to … Time to Update the...

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BC Wildfires in the Context of Climate Change

By Robin Hadac Robin has been SPEC’s outreach facilitator since January. She wrote this piece for her course on climate change. From the Elephant Hill Fire in the Ashcroft/Cache Creek area. Photo by Chris Gooderham. Be sure to check out the rest of the photos at the end of the blog piece.  One summer evening … BC Wildfires in the...

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Bugging Out

By Olga Lansdorp, Project Coordinator, Climate Change Adaptation for Small Scale Farmers, Society Promoting Environmental Conservation Have you ever had your eyes opened to a new way of seeing the world, to find that there is no turning back? I first experienced this when I was 18 and worked studying birds in the Rocky Mountains; … Bugging Out Read More...

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Ensuring Environmental Health Means Addressing Asbestos

By Anna Suarez, a public health advocate focused on raising awareness about how the built environment and the presence of toxins can influence human health. Sustainability, or the ability to use resources without degrading them for future generations, has strong ties to public health. Despite being able to supercede certain aspects of the natural world, … Ensuring Environmental Health Means...

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On the Impact of SPEC’s School Gardens Program

By Janey Lee, Teacher at Thunderbird Elementary, SPEC Fundraiser and Celebration Speech,  Good evening everyone. My name is Janey Lee and for the past 19 years I have been proudly teaching at Thunderbird Elementary. Thunderbird is a Tier 1 inner city, east side school in Vancouver. Thunderbird is located across the street from the largest … On the Impact of...

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Supporting Local Farmers in the Face of Changing Climate

By Dr. Art Bomke, SPEC Director The article in the September 8th Vancouver Sun refers to recent census data that is reflecting a loss of farms and fewer farmers in Metro Vancouver. It may seem odd that an urban-based environmental organization like SPEC would be engaged in supporting local farmers, however, our ongoing Climate Change Adaptation … Supporting Local Farmers in...

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Collaboration is the Name of the Sustainability Game

By Daniel Rotman. Daniel is a co-facilitator of Master Recycler Vancouver. I’m a strong believer in the idea that sustainability requires us (all of us) to reach beyond our circles and networks and biases to empower change. It won’t be easy and it won’t look like we think it will. Take ZooShare for example. This new project … Collaboration is the Name...

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A New Perspective on Your Local Market

By Amrita Pooni Amrita is a student entering her final year of university. She is majoring in a B.A. of International Relations at the University of British Columbia. She is currently interning with the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC) ​as the facilitator of the annual Westside Community Food Market (a partnership with Kitsilano Neighbourhood House)​.  As a student, working on the Westside Community Food Market has … A New Perspective on...

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Catalyzing Social Connections

The City of Vancouver, Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Coastal Health combine to host discussions on catalyzing social connections In 2012, the Vancouver Foundation presented the results of a survey of metro Vancouver revealing that people in the region identified their greatest concern as a growing sense of isolation. You can read the entire study at: https://www.vancouverfoundation.ca//sites/default/files/documents/VanFdn-SurveyResults-Report.pdf Since that study, … Catalyzing Social Connections Read...

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Jess Metter: The Most Dedicated Admin Volunteer

Jess Metter holding Betsy Fox “She was the most dedicated admin volunteer I have ever encountered.” Former SPEC Director Dan Rogers All volunteers are precious to community groups because they come with the gift of their person, their skills and dedication. Jess stood out for several reasons. First, she came in every week to provide … Jess Metter: The Most...

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VPG Portrait: Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC)

Article from Vancouver-Point Grey Community Office Fall 2016 Newsletter, David Eby, MLA We had a quick chat with Oliver Lane, Exec Director of SPEC on the role of this great organization in the community. Q. What’s the best thing about working with SPEC?A. The people. It is a pleasure to work with staff and volunteers that bring such a … VPG Portrait: Society Promoting...

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Meet Your Farmer: Q&A with Adam Soltys of Yummy Yards

Written by Karla Olson Why did you become a farmer? “I used to work in a government office doing IT and found myself looking out the window all the time longing to be in the fresh air and sunshine. I started volunteering with the permaculture Vancouver meet-up group and loved the experience of gardening and … Meet Your Farmer: Q&A...

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Meet Your Farmer: Q&A With Karly Pinch of Shady Acre Farm

Written by Karla Olsen Why did you become a farmer? “I left my office job to look for more fulfilling work in the environmental sector and through volunteering discovered that organic farming satisfied the environmentalist in me as well as giving me a sense of satisfaction that comes with hard, physical work, and seeing concrete … Meet Your Farmer: Q&A...

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School Gardens Program Summer Wrap-Up

Written by Karla Olson It has been a fruitful, and veggieful, year at the school gardens!Thanks to the School Gardens Program, we have seen that the best way to get kids excited about eating vegetables is to have them grow them! This year, with the support of our generous donors, 12 schools across Vancouver were able … School Gardens Program Summer...

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The SPEC Elders Circle – Reclaiming Elder Wisdom

Written by Carole Christopher, SPEC President The SPEC Elders Circle is a new initiative within SPEC that’s rooted in the belief that elders and society have much to gain by elders embracing their wisdom role and offering insight and knowledge to younger generations drawn from life experience and accumulated learning.  When I was about 55, (I’m now … The SPEC Elders Circle...

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An “Intern”ational Perspective on Earth Day with SPEC

Written by SPEC Intern Jamie As an intern at SPEC, I´ve received so much information about everything environmental. And there is something important I would like to share with you. Monsters are real. For this year’s 2016 Earth Day Celebration, four of us (SPEC volunteers Carol, Hisayo, and Shona) took part in two events. The … An “Intern”ational Perspective on...

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Is Being an Elder an Environmental Matter?

SPEC just received a small, but significant grant, to start the Environmental Elders Engagement Initiative, or the SPEC Elders Project, for short. In a recent interview on CBC, David Suzuki, considered one of Canada’s most dedicated defenders of the environment, spoke about his determination to awaken elders to the power of their wisdom role in society. (David … Is Being an Elder...

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Profile of Gary Gallon

“Who’s the guy with the afro?” This iconic picture of SPEC’s early days often draws that question. His name is Gary Gallon. For us, his name stands for leadership and passion, and he’s remembered as a lively, intelligent, energetic, and dedicated young man with a huge capacity to motivate and lead. His sense of direction … Profile of Gary Gallon...

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An “Intern”ational Perspective on SPEC’s World Water Day Celebration

In the beautiful Botanical Garden at UBC, SPEC co-hosted a Water Day Event on March 22, in which everyone had the opportunity to hear more about water conservation. The evening started with Steve Litke from the Fraser Basin Council. He gave an interesting overview of the new BC Water Act. He talked about the progress … An “Intern”ational Perspective on...

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What Impressed Me About this Ad

How to communicate with our audience? As many other charities and environmental organizations, we look for ways to communicate to the public the issues and solutions we think are important. One of our supporters, Rick Pollay, who is an expert in marketing and advertising, brought this recent ad to our attention and shared with us … What Impressed Me About...

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Two Ways to Show Your Love This Valentine’s Day

Why is chocolate an environmental issue? Because palm oil, an ingredient used in some chocolates, is the main driver behind much of the deforestation happening in tropical peat forests of Indonesia and Malaysia, among other places. Tropical peat forests are home to a diversity of plant and animal species, and are important carbon sinks, which means they have … Two Ways to Show...

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Phantom Leaks

Written by Dr. Carole Christopher, SPEC President Phantom leaks occur when microwaves, computers, TVs, and other electrical devices continue to draw energy even when they’re turned off, up to 15%. The solution—unplug them.  A convenient way to do that is to plug devices, such as your computer, and their peripherals, printers, speakers, monitors, etc. into a power bar … Phantom Leaks Read More...

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Profile on Terry Chantler

By Dr. Carole Christopher, SPEC President Last year, in preparation for our 45th anniversary celebration, I reviewed SPEC’s historical campaigns (1) and successfully connected with nearly 100 SPEC activists from the early days.  As I gathered names, one that repeatedly came up was Terry Chantler so I called him to see what I could learn about … Profile on Terry Chantler...

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Massey Bridge Project and the ALR

By Kimi Hendess from Farmwatch BC The Fraser River needs your help.  LNG, Coal, Jet Fuel… numerous proposed industrial projects in this sensitive estuary hinge on tankers gaining access up-river of the George Massey Tunnel, over which only shallow or partially loaded ships can pass.  Access to Information requests have revealed that Port Metro Vancouver … Massey Bridge Project and...

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Canadian Cities Ranked on Solar Energy Policy

Vancouver and Surrey ranked lowest Vancouver, BC – 2015 May 12 – SPEC (Society Promoting Environmental Conservation) has released the first ranking of  Canadian cities-based on solar energy policy.  Amongst the large Canadian cities – Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto were ranked best, with Surrey and Vancouver  at the bottom of the list. The ranking which looked at the … Canadian Cities Ranked on...

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Bunker Fuel Spill in English Bay Raises Alarm Bells

By now, most people have seen photos and read news accounts of the fuel spill that occurred on April 8th, 2015 in English Bay, the impacts of which are still being determined. It is important to note that Vancouver’s waters are under federal jurisdiction and are overseen by the Vancouver Port Authority while the Canadian Coast Guard is tasked … Bunker Fuel Spill in...

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The Transportation Vote: Exploring Opportunities and Concerns

A SPEC hosted forum on March 26th Between March 16 and May 29, 2015, Metro Vancouverites will be facing one of the most important regional decisions affecting our and future generations: whether to approve or reject a 0.5 per cent increase in the provincial sales tax (PST) to support the implementation of multiple transit projects throughout Metro Vancouver.  Increasing the … The Transportation Vote: Exploring...

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