How can we reach our 2020
Greenest City Targets?

Janna L. Sylvest

My feedback

  1. 43 votes
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    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    Shame on you, K8ie! Seriously, any idea can be argued against by attaching an alarmist boogeyman outcome to it, the tactic, however, won't advance change and, when the alarmist outcome posited is based in conjecture, it hardly counts toward balanced consideration. For example, I have an extreme allergy to Soy but that doesn't make the entire movement toward less protein "lose my vote", and I've had unpleasant experiences with large breed, aggressive humans on the transit system but that doesn't make the movement toward less individual car trips and more transit “lose my vote”. Every good idea could be dismissed using this same tactic - attach an extreme outcome to the idea, posit a related allergy, and then dump on the idea. How about this: require muzzles on all dogs on transit, not because it's necessary but because it wouldn't harm the dogs and it would put an end to the nay sayers. Allergy arguments are no-go-tactics too ... and here’s why: if we are going to structure environmental policy around the avoidance of allergens, all ideas that increase trees, plant matter, and growing local food are out!

    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    I am one of those people who uses a car almost exclusively to transport my dogs! It might seem odd to those who haven't experienced this, but it really is limiting to exercise and outing opportunities, for women in particular, if you can't get there with your dog. I hike every weekend and walk to work, all with my dogs. I wouldn't feel safe going on any hike in the woods or foreshores if I didn't have a canine companion. Sadly, sexual assaults and homicide rates are compelling in support of this "feeling" ... at any rate, one simply can not get to the Fraser River, Pacific Spirit Park, and North Shore mountains on foot with a dog. They can't endure the same summer temperatures that people can, and after age 6 they really do start to slow down, so that while I often use the bikeways and parkways for our walks, eventually they can't make a six hour trek which means driving somewhere in order to walk or hike. If I didn't have a dog, I'd bike to the same location BUT then I wouldn't be comfortable walking alone when I got there. We even call our car the "pup mobile" since that is its exclusive use. I am certain I would use transit to all local hikes if I could bring my dog with me.

  2. 4 votes
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    0 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Create green jobs  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
  3. 9 votes
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    1 comment  ·  GC 2020 » Green existing buildings  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    Agree, agree, agree! The City policy essentially off loads the cost of financing higher density on to the home-owner who then has to (1) capitalize expenses over a long term (expenses related to capital investment on rental property are not wholly deductible against rental income in the year advanced); (2) carry the mortgage on the laneway home cost of construction, and (3) assume the role of a landlord, requiring the navigation and compliance with tenant legislation. This is a lot to ask, and then expect the policy constraints will behave as anything other than a disincentive to laneway rental-home construction.

  4. 302 votes
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    16 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Off topic  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
  5. 59 votes
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    1 comment  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    Yes! Exactly. Why isn't the City providing waste management to all waste? This idea is in line with my previous post - shout out to the Moderators to spend some time combining ideas, this forum is becoming so nano-classified that I worry vote splitting will be the result and the persuasiveness of collective support will be hived off into selective identification - the post regarding Simplify, Synchronize, and Rationalize the Collection of Recyclable Materials.
    Synchronize: Use the same Blue Bin and the same collection and separation waste management system for business, residential, recreational, streets, and educational public facilities. It’s irrational that we can collect recycling at the residential level but not use the same equipment and staff to collect at our Parks, Civic Centers, Schools, and on commercial streets. Currently, if schools want to recycle the PAC pays for it!! And the Parks! For goodness sakes, the Provincial Parks have been collecting recyclable materials in separate bins for a decade, how can it be that our Parks board and Metro Vancouver Parks can lag THAT far behind? We require one public-wide system, for every public and residential private facility. Aside from the cost advantage - once fleet of collection vehicles and trained staff - a higher participation and reclamation program means more revenue from the collection and resale of the raw materials. Having one standard container also contributes to the publics acceptance and understanding of the program. With the wide range of container variants in the City, there remains a great deal of confusion among users as to what can go where. It is very common to see recyclable non-reuseable plastic cups, for instance, in the City’s paltry returnable container trays affixed to the litter receptacles. This happenstance points to the fact that people do NOT want to put the recyclables into the litter containers but have limited choice of alternatives.

  6. 17 votes
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    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    I'd rather see the City relax its parking-spot-per-unit rules to allow for buildings without parking! The presumption in building planing is that people must and will have cars. If a developer could build without the parking space and contribute a portion of the building cost savings to a transit fund, we could be building an investment fund toward inner City pedestrian, bike, and trolley transit and out 'burb light rail.

    In supporting a move from petroleum fueled cars to electric-fueled cars, I hope that people keep in mind that the lesser foot print is to reduce overall car ownership and use. The carbon footprint of producing a new car, whatever its fuel base, is enormous. Rapid, accessible, transit and pedestrian infrastructure is a better outcome than a change in the way cars are fueled. 78% of Manhattan residents do not own cars. Car co-ops, less cars per household, and less use of existing cars ... that's a worthwhile goal. The other thing to keep in mind is that electricity is only as "green" as the source used to generate the electricity. Most places in the world generate electricity from coal or nuclear sources. And even in BC, BC Hydro purchases a significant amount of power generated from natural gas burning generation plants. Additionally, hydro generation from water has enviromental impacts. The flooding of plains and wet lands, the disruption of fish habitat, etc. This is not to say that electric cars are "evil", it's to say that transit and pedestrian-friendly corridors to and from transit, are better. And that we really need to get over the idea that the production (and resource consumption) of a thing that we own individually and use entirely for personal use, keeping it all to ourselves, is a path to green.

  7. 16 votes
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    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    In supporting a move from petroleum fueled cars to electric-fueled cars, I hope that people keep in mind that the lesser foot print is to reduce overall car ownership and use. The carbon footprint of producing a new car, whatever its fuel base, is enormous. Rapid, accessible, transit and pedestrian infrastructure is a better outcome than a change in the way cars are fueled. 78% of Manhattan residents do not own cars. Car co-ops, less cars per household, and less use of existing cars ... that's a worthwhile goal. The other thing to keep in mind is that electricity is only as "green" as the source used to generate the electricity. Most places in the world generate electricity from coal or nuclear sources. And even in BC, BC Hydro purchases a significant amount of power generated from natural gas burning generation plants. Additionally, hydro generation from water has enviromental impacts. The flooding of plains and wet lands, the disruption of fish habitat, etc. This is not to say that electric cars are "evil", it's to say that transit and pedestrian-friendly corridors to and from transit, are better. And that we really need to get over the idea that the production (and resource consumption) of a thing that we own individually and use entirely for personal use, keeping it all to ourselves, is a path to green.

  8. 190 votes
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    31 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    It is depressing, and it should start with the consumer saying "No thanks" or not seeking the quick fix in the first place (whatever happened to a picnic one prepared and packed at home?!) but that isn't happening, it is getting worse with people opting for more and more made for them and thrown away afterward meals ... so government MUST step in, and the City could start with the licensing it grants in its own facilities: Parks board, community centre, school, and public building food vendors should not serve food on throw away containers with plastic utensils and straws, vending machines should be allowed only if every container inside is part of current deposit/recycle streams, and bottled water just needs to be banned, already! I went to hike at Mount Seymour in the late Spring and turned back because the terrain was so littered with containers from the food services from the ski hill (licensed on park land for goodness sakes) that it was sickening, it was if we were hiking in a landfill. The skiers eating while skiing did that and the ski hills management and government oversight let it happen.

    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    The City does have the regulatory ability to effect this change. In a broader idea submission ( Simplify, Synchronize, and Rationalize the Collection of Recyclable Materials ) I raised the WAY that the City can do just this: Through the business licencing and regulation powers, require the mandatory participation of waste producing businesses, such as fast food and drive through, in the program. These businesses - the ones contributing to the waste containers volume in our consumption stream - should have to lease the Blue Bins from the City annually. The lease rates set on a cost recovery basis. They would have to demonstrate a Zero waste system (via a licencing audit) before they could opt out of the Blue Bin program.

  9. 99 votes
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    21 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    Hey Helen, Municipalities are THE authority providing waste removal throughout the province ... this is why the programs differ literally from one side of the Street (Boundary) to another. The City of Vancouver is in the driver seat when it decides to provide differing degrees of support and service to commercial (none), residential (single family residential the most versus multi units at a lesser degree), and public (so minimal, it’s a travesty) realms. There ought to be no difference between a park and a home, one family or multi, a residential stream and a commercial stream - blue box, green waste and compost for all can be our goal and is within the City’s regime to support. It all comes down to whom the containers are provided and thus picked up from. What the Province can do is provide legislation and regulation that influences reduction, reuse, and recycling through deposit fees. And in the end, consumer behavioral change can have the biggest impact at the selection stage: select products with little or no packaging AND in the event of packaging, select first those products that are from post-consumer waste, are reusable, and are biodegradable. If we simply expand what we can throw out, consumers may well encourage continued and increased “bad” packaging.

    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    Of course I support this idea! I hope the moderators note it is part and parcel of the idea submitted earlier to: Synchronize: Use the same Blue Bin and the same collection and separation waste management system for business, residential, recreational, streets, and educational public facilities. It’s irrational that we can collect recycling at the residential level but not use the same equipment and staff to collect at our Parks, Civic Centers, Schools, and on commercial streets. Currently, if schools want to recycle the PAC pays for it!! And the Parks! For goodness sakes, the Provincial Parks have been collecting recyclable materials in separate bins for a decade, how can it be that our Parks board and Metro Vancouver Parks can lag THAT far behind? We require one public-wide system, for every public and residential private facility. Aside from the cost advantage - once fleet of collection vehicles and trained staff - a higher participation and reclamation program means more revenue from the collection and resale of the raw materials. Having one standard container also contributes to the publics acceptance and understanding of the program. With the wide range of container variants in the City, there remains a great deal of confusion among users as to what can go where. It is very common to see recyclable non-reuseable plastic cups, for instance, in the City’s paltry returnable container trays affixed to the litter receptacles. This happenstance points to the fact that people do NOT want to put the recyclables into the litter containers but have limited choice of alternatives.

  10. 35 votes
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    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    I understand that it is unpopular to "rain on a parade", but these token days are not the path to change, and the carbon impact they have is oxymoronic at best. Closing a street doesn't diminish the use of cars for the day, it reroutes them. It can also mean switching from electric trolley buses to diesel, when the street closure is on a trolley route, and making transit less accessible by rerouting off track. Staging the festival involves engineering and police vehicle fleet use, in installing, manning, and dismantling the car free barriers. "Car Free" days confuse the line between municipal wide changes in infrastructure (bikeways, pedestrian friendly curbs and crossings, etc.) and festivals, while consuming City resources (staff, budget) that could have been invested in lasting, long term infrastructure. The time for a festival to raise awareness of change has passed into the time for action on the infrastructure for change. On a full disclosure note: it pains me to suffer car free festivals when the Commercial Drive pedestrian first initiatives have been stalled out for more than two years: we still have parking restrictions on the West side of the street daily to support commuter traffic, no speed bumps at our school crossings, no pedestrian light crossings near major senior and assisted living complexes, and the hands-down worse bike route crossings at 8th and at Adanac. It’s not that I’m against “celebrating an initiative”, it’s that I’m against a smoke screen to the sluggish and stalled out initiatives - the time has past for symbolism, give us our infrastructure: free and accessible transit, light rail, urban residential density supported by full service commercial districts, greenways, bike routes, fees for recreational vehicle trips and single occupant commuter use of bridges and tunnels, parking fees as detriments to multi-vehicle ownership in residential neighbourhoods, and a City with the word “pedestrian” in its Traffic Department!

  11. 61 votes
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    2 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    I'd caution against this initiative and others of a similar vein. The City should support curbside recycling, commercial, residential and in public spaces, very definitively, agreed ... but the City should not delve into the business of banning freedom of expression, an unintended outcome of banning free print. By the same measure, the printed word ought to be banned entirely, and Libraries closed!! Every green initiative must be balanced with consideration given to human culture, otherwise, arguably the best green initiative would be to get rid of us! We're the weed that's wreaked havoc in this, the "Carbon period" of world history. On a final note, the cost of newsprint does serve to self regulate the size of periodical publications to a certain extent. Advertising is the engine that fuels most free newspapers, and consumption is the engine that fuels advertisers: back to reduce, recycle, and reuse.

  12. 15 votes
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    5 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    I would support expansion of the blue box recycling options ONLY IF it were coupled with producer-pay high, deterrent deposit fees. Provincial policy can influence reduction, reuse, and recycling through deposit fees. Consumer behavioural change can have the biggest impact at the selection stage: select products with little or no packaging AND in the event of packaging, select first those products that are from post-consumer waste, are reusable, and our biodegradable. If we simply expand what we can throw out, consumers may well encourage continued and increased “bad” packaging.

    Reduction in packaging is key. Second is encouraging the use of the lowest impact, reusable materials, such as glass containers instead of plastic containers, and third is discouraging the use of packaging materials that are toxic to produce in the first instance, challenging to recycle without a high energy expense and loss of original materials (a down scale recycle) in the second instance, and ultimately still end up as a non-compostible, toxic waste (ie. plastic recycled to fleece fiber still ends up being a fleece jacket that can’t enter the waste stream without negative consequences). And third is establishing deterrents to production and consumption. A municipality has limited ability to influence policy change in this realm except at the waste disposal end. Here is where the City could make a difference: in imposing a waste cost to plastics entering our waste stream. Just as there is an additional cost to drywall waste, there could be an additional cost to plastic waste.

  13. 5 votes
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    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    Wes, are you in favour of speeding vehicles as a neighbourhood and commercial enhancement? This hypothetical mother of 3, will her day and our City be better if she is speeding from school to day care to groceries - rain or shine? And commercial transport in commercial lanes and on truck routes, it's better if it's done at what km/hour? Speed bumps are about investing in long lasting infrastructure that compels compliant behaviour ... ie. the speed limit in lanes and school and park zones must be adhered too and yielding to pedestrians is a reality rather than a faint hope. Speed bumps don't lower existing speed limits, they enforce them.

    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    Bravo! Speed bumps are a significant element in a pedestrian-favourable infrastructure. In an era where the "stop line" is a forgotten relic and stop signs equate to a mere suggestion, the time has more than arrived for a concentrated installation of speed bumps. More effective than a zebra-cross walk, low speed zone, or even a pedestrian controlled light-crossing, speed bump installation needn't be an additional cost but simply a reallocation of expenditure. In Russian the word for a speed bump is lezhachii politseiskii ... literally a "lying-down policeman" ... a concept that ought to drive home this point: we require road use infrastructure that compels a change to driver behaviour and favours foot traffic over all other forms of mobility. Environmental urban plans that call for higher density living closer to work and home and commercial and recreational proximity to residential communities will not work unless we support a walkable City.

  14. 408 votes
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    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    Well neil21, I commuted by bike wearing a helmet to my downtown law practice for ten years and was quite able to overcome "bicycle hair" and "frankenstein forehead". It just took a little planning ahead and arriving early enough for work so that I could transform from bike to office attire and appearance. Little fuss for no muss! But again, we digress ... the whole "I won't or can't bike if I have to wear a helmet" thing is a tad too trivial a digression from the overwhelming sensible objective “I should and could get around without a car.”

    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    What is the objection to wearing a helmet? Is it analogous to objecting to mandatory seat belt legislation? Or to objecting to speed cameras for issuing tickets for speed offenses? I don't understand the link between not wearing a helmet and achieving a positive environmental impact change.

  15. 41 votes
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    3 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Encourage local food  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    In general I’m in favour of the idea of replacing most annuals with indigenous plant species, though not necessarily plants that produce food specific to our human taste. The reason most plants classified as “annuals” are so classified is because they are species taken from a different climate all together, one where they would in fact survive year round - dormant or active - but can not in our climate, hence last only seasonally. For the most part, the term “annual” might as well be “non-indigenous”. However, in selecting plantings, we should be cautious about being overly enamored with food that we want to eat.

    In our rush to embrace local food options, remember that not every species eats what we eat! Let's not eschew biodiversity for the sake of our own species food preferences. Ground shrubs that produce berries (not the kind people enjoy) are essential to song bird populations. Ornamental flowers are key to pollinators, like bees and butterflies, and numerous non-human food-plants provide ground cover, biomass, and habitat for the wide range of animal and insect life that is just as essential to our continued survival as or more fruits that we want to eat! Just saying, environmental policy has to consider biodiversity. Any one focus out of balance with a natural balance, can have an unexpected and devastating impact.

  16. 18 votes
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    3 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Improve access to nature  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    This idea goes hand in hand with daylighting our lost creeks, the tidal portion of these lost creeks used to be salt marsh. A good place to start would be New Brighton Park just North of Hastings Park (better known as the PNE grounds). Continue with the daylighting of Hastings Creek from the small area in Hastings Park that has been regreened, through into New Breighton Park on the Burrard Inlet. Since the City is currently reviewing proposals to further green Hastings Park, now would be the time to plan, at least in a way that doesn't eliminate this potential in later stages.

  17. 49 votes
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    Good idea! In the past few years, the City has installed 8 of 16 self-cleaning toilets as part of its street furniture contract with CBS-Decaux, and is looking for additional locations. (As an aside, locating them can be challenging due to limited public sidewalk space, a lack of utility connections, and concerns from adjacent businesses.) New public restrooms have also been installed as part of recent park upgrades. There is also a huge opportunity and need at transit interchanges, but this is outside the City’s jurisdiction — Vancouver has repeatedly requested (and will continue to ask) that TransLink install restrooms in its rapid transit stations.

    Janna L. Sylvest shared this idea  · 
  18. 214 votes
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    16 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    This idea requires more analysis ... if retailers must keep an electronic data base in place of a one time, user-held receipt, the idea is directly linked to consumption of power to maintain digital memory and to the production and waste disposal of computer equipment. If a retailer kept a paper ledger, eventually the issue becomes space and storage, which in itself has an environmental impact because of land use, building construction, and building maintenance (utilities, etc.). A single piece of post-consumer waste paper from a renewal, managed forest kept in the hands of the consumer may well be the best option. Receipts aren't generated because retailers want to consume paper product, they're generated because of the record keeping requirements attached to consumption taxes (HST, PST, GST). When a warranty is involved, the receipt serves an additional purpose, it is the representative documentation of a consumer-goods contract between purchaser and seller, and ought to be in the hands of the purchaser, since the rights to consumer protection flow to the purchaser, the obligations to the retailer, it would be tragic if a retailers data base failed and with that failure the consumer's warranty documentation was lost. As to the receipt that must be generated in relation to trivial purchases, such as a cup of coffee, buy less! Consuming less of any single use good is the way to decrease the environmental impact of consumption.

  19. 1,073 votes
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    130 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Lighter Footprint  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    Low footprint food choices are not the same as vegan food choices in all cases, the analysis is more complex than this. Generally a low footprint diet is local, seasonal food, and limits consumption of red meat, dairy, and some grains. Low footprint food choices are included in the draft Greenest City Action Plan and will be discussed through community engagement activities.

    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    To be consistent with the Green City Targets (i.e. environmental sustainability) the focus must be on how we produce and distribute food. Regardless of whether what ends up on your plate is plant-based or animal-based, how it got there from land use, farm practices, waste management, to transport and storage chain, is where the environmental impact is measured. Every step of the way, we must change how we get our food. Focusing on what people eat creates a smoke screen, something that inevitably becomes co-opted by the food industry, and leads to absurd results like organically labeled, excessively packaged vegan foods from China being the Costco grocery market shoppers food of choice! The rest of this debate - animal versus plant politics - is off topic and I'm puzzled as to why the moderators have shied away from saying as much.

  20. 60 votes
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    7 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Plant additional trees  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    Janna L. Sylvest commented  · 

    In our rush to embrace local food options, remember that not every species eats what we eat! Let's not eschew biodiversity for the sake of our own species food preferences. Ground shrubs that produce berries (not the kind people enjoy) are essential to song bird populations. Ornamental flowers are key to pollinators, like bees and butterflies, and numerous non-human food-plants provide ground cover, biomass, and habitat for the wide range of animal and insect life that is just as essential to our continued survival as or more fruits that we want to eat! Just saying, environmental policy has to consider biodiversity. Any one focus out of balance with a natural balance, can have an unexpected and devastating impact.

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