100 in 1 Day Halifax brings citizen-led interventions to the streets

An interview with Julia Kemp and Melissa Laverdure about 100 in 1 Day Halifax.  The interview took place in Titus Park in Fairview on Monday May 25, 2015.

It's More Than Buses Wants to Redesign Halifax Transit

Today on Habitat we feature a conversation about the future of buses in Halifax.  Well, not just buses, actually.

Sean Gillis is the co-chair of It's More Than Buses, a public advocacy group organizing since 2011 around the issue of making transit better in Halifax. After successfully campaigning for Halifax Transit to take on a major redesign of the city's route network, It's More Than Buses is not slowing down.  Recently, the group released their answer to the impending network re-design–a bold plan that completely redraws the routes, frequency, and efficiency of the bus system. IMTB have put together a map showing how high-frequency transit corridors can increase the speed and reliability of our system.

Here's Sean Gillis to explain a bit more about the It's More Than Buses plan.

The Annual Bike Week Panel!

It's time for the annual bike week edition of Habitat, where we gather a panel of folks involved in biking in Halifax to talk about the state of cycling in the city.  

This year I was joined by:

Hanita Koblents, HRM's Active Transportation Coordinator,
Ben Wedge, Halifax Cycling Coalition co-chair, and
Ben Buckwold, Bicycle NS Blue Route Coordinator.


Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/urbanmkr/

Daylighting Sawmill River and Cleaning Up McNab's Island

Part 1:  Daylighting the Sawmill River
A river linking Halifax Harbour with the Shubenacadie Canal system has been buried for 40 years. Now there's a movement to uncover the river, and restore its capacity to both handle flooding and provide habitat for fish and microorganisms.  Oh, and it will also look better!

Part 2: Cleaning up McNab's Island
You wouldn't believe how many plastic items you can find in a small stretch of beach, everything from toothpaste caps to plastic straws to tampon applicators.  Oh, so many tampon applicators…  
On June 1, 2014, I hopped on a boat along with 170 other volunteers headed to McNab's Island for the annual cleanup, organized every year by the Friends of McNab's Society

Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good: Heather Menzies

"The key thing about the commons and the notion of reclaiming it is we're reclaiming responsibility for habitat, social and natural.."

This episode of Habitat features an interview with Heather Menzies, author of Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good, which focuses on the need to reclaim common resources to work together to build a better society.  

"A lot of young people are getting involved in lots of grassroots stuff, and what the commons framework does is allows them to see they are reviving a lost heritage, something that has incredible historical legitimacy."

The second half features an audio tour of the Common Roots Urban Farm in Halifax, NS.


Dismantling Rail in Canada: NB gets a 15 year reprieve

"I think at the end of the day this is really a strong testament to what can, at least occasionally, be achieved by strong local level, grassroots campaigning." 

Recently the federal government surprised everyone with a decision to secure tracks in northern New Brunswick for another 15 years, thereby saving rail access for many towns in the province.

Tim Hayman is a rail enthusiast and frequent rail traveller who writes on Via Rail news issues for Canadian Railway Observations.  I called him up to talk rail.

Tim gives a great overview of recent history with Canadian rail and shares his thoughts on the management and future of rail lines in Canada.

"Unfortunately there's a lot of decisions that may have been made differently if people were actually thinking 10 or 20 years down the line instead of thinking just, well, we're not using it right today."

Photo: Robert Taylor

Donald Cameron on the legal right to a clean environment

This week on Habitat:

In Canada we don't have the right to clean air or clean water. I speak with journalist Silver Donald Cameron about his latest project, GreenRights.com, which looks the ideas of incorporating rights for the natural world, as well as the right to a healthy environment, into our constitution. 

Then we hear a piece by Halifax-based radiomaker, Veronica Simmonds, exploring the idea of living plastic-free. (Originally produced for the GreenPeace Canada podcast.)

And lastly, Let's Talk Energy, episode 4, produced at CHUO in Ottawa.

Related episodes:

David Boyd, one of Canada's leading environmental lawyers, tells about the idea of enshrining the right to a healthy environment in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

GM apples in BC and GM bananas in Uganda

This week on Habitat:

A company in BC has engineered an apple that won't turn brown after being cut. The Arctic Apple is currently awaiting approval for consumption in the US and Canada.  I spoke with Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network to find out more.

Matthew Schnurr is a Dalhousie professor researching the debate over the potential for genetically modified crops to improve yields and livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa.  I asked about his research focussed on the development of the GM matooke banana in Uganda.

Plus, we have the fourth installment of Lets Talk Energy, produced at CHUO in Ottawa.

Scott Findlay on Why We Need Public Science

Public science is taking a hit right now. An ongoing series of small but impactful cuts are reducing Canada's capacity for government research and experimentation.  

Scott Findlay is co-founder of Evidence for Democracy and an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Ottawa.  He was in Halifax recently to speak as part of the Lives of Evidence series produced by Situating Science.  He was gracious enough to sit down to talk about the state of public science in Canada. I asked him why he felt compelled to form Evidence for Democracy, and what makes publicly-funded science so important? 

Halifax as Solar City, Transit 101, and Talking Energy

On this episode of Habitat:

We hear from Julian Boyle of Halifax's Solar City program.  Solar City celebrates it's first year of operations this weekend with a Solar Fiesta at the Dartmouth Sportsplex. About 250 homeowners have installed solar hot water systems in HRM in the past year, all with the help of the city's Solar City program.  

We'll listen in on Transit Planning 101, a talk put on by It's More Than Buses and Fusion Halifax this week to look at what the next steps are for transit planning in Halifax. Now that council has given Metro Transit the go-ahead to redesign the route system more efficiently, planner Sean Gillis explains how we will also need to pay attention to factors like walkability and land use planning if we want the new system to really succeed.

And finally, a second installment of Talk Energy, produced out of CHUO in Ottawa.


What to do with all this haddock? Plus: EAC redesigns their space and sues the government.

This week our conversations all centre around the Ecology Action Centre… the largest environmental organization in  Atlantic Canada, based here in Halifax.  

We start off hearing from Tristan Cleveland, an EAC staffer who is organizing an ideas competition around the redesign of the EAC's building. The competition launches this Saturday with a public workshop where anyone can share their idea for what Cleveland calls "public space for advocacy".  

Then we'll hear a piece originally produced for The Tide, the podcast of the Halifax Media Coop.  Media coop editor Hilllary Lindsay interviewed EAC Marine Conservation Coordinator Susanna Fuller about the EAC's recent big - and risky - move to sue the federal government over their approval of the production of genetically modified salmon for human consumption. 

Then we feature a conversation with Justin Cantafia, a relatively new addition to the EAC's marine conservation staff. Cantafia, along with Susanna Fuller, recently published an article calling attention to the recent dramatic rebound of haddock stocks in the George's Bank area, south of Yarmouth. They express concern that increased quotas have resulted in such low prices for haddock that only large scale fishing operations using bottom trawling methods can compete. Cantafia believes the smart way to go is by developing the smaller scale bottom longline fishing industry. This 10,000 strong fleet, he says, employs more people, harvests a better quality of fish, and will help sustain the recovering groundfish stock.

The Just Barelys; Almost Exactly; Mad Bits
Old Man Luedecke, Tony Dekker and Daniela Gesundheit; Welcome to the Dark; National Parks Project

Statistical areas used to define Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank haddock stocks.

Lessons from the Department of Neighbourhoods: Jim Diers

Jim Diers is a community planner and former director of the Department of Neighbourhoods in Seattle.  He was in Halifax recently (courtesy of the Planning and Design Centre and their sponsors) to talk about how a city department helped grow and support the strong neighbourhoods for which Seattle is famous.  He gives example after example about how something as simple in concept as Seattle's Neighbourhood Matching Fund helped realize creative, customized, and popular solutions to many community issues. 

Photo:  The Fremont Troll, one of the many projects conceived of and realized by citizens of Seattle, with funding support from the Neighbourhood Matching Fund. (Tim Lee)

The scapegoating of the grey seal and Vélo Québec's Route Verte

Halifax Media Coop journalist Robert DeVet interviews Linda Pannozzo about her book, "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: The Scapegoating of Canada's Grey Seals" and then Erica Butler speaks with Marc Jolicoeur of Vélo Québec about the province's 5000km Route Verte, and what Nova Scotia can do to create its very own Blue Route

Divesting Dalhousie of Fossil Fueling Investments

Divest Dal member Rob MacNeish joined me in studio to talk about the campaign to get Dalhousie to stop investing in companies that have a role in producing fossil fuels.  If Dalhousie divests from fossil fuels, they will be the largest university in North America to do so.

Halifax Cycling Coalition's Next Big Idea

Emily McDonald, co-chair of the Halifax Cycling Coalition joined me in studio to talk about the HCC's birthday party.  The Coalition asked for pitches from members for the next big campaign idea, racked up 25 pitches covering everything from repealing of helmet laws to 100 kilometres of segregated bike lanes by 2025.

*Apologies for the static in this audio.