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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Things I want to see for Newmarket/Aurora

In light of peak oil, pollution, global warming and those pesky food security issues that are dear to my heart(and belly) there are a great many things I’d like to see happen to make Newmarket Aurora a better and more sustainable place for what I believe will be a harder more austere future.

No more irrational development, yes we should increased density but stop building those damn 4000 sq ft homes, and stop allowing big box developments. Mixed use high density is the best model, each block should have a grocer, a restaurant, a bar, a play ground etc. Grouping all the retail and services around main arteries that no one can walk to is insane.

LEEDs certification for all new homes and major rebuilds, simple additions must be at least R2000 compliant. If people’s houses are so inefficient that they cannot heat them affordability you will get people freezing in the dark or installing in wood stoves that create smog and lead to deforestation, not to mention the number of dumb asses that burn down their houses or gas themselves when they bring the BBQ inside.

New Commercial buildings must utilize their roofs as green roofs, Solar PV or Solar thermal applications, 20 year phase in for all existing commercial buildings.

I’d like to see more open mindedness in the building codes regarding alternative building materials; Straw bail, earth bag, rammed earth etc. The carbon footprint of the building process must also be taken into account, not just the day to day carbon use.

No more drive through businesses with notice that existing ones must be phased out in 10 years. Having both an anti idling law and numerous drive throughs makes absolutely no sense.

I want the city to stop planting foreign ornamental trees everywhere. All trees should be indigenous species with at least half being productive varieties of fruits and nuts, providing both natural foods for wildlife and energetic citizens.

I don’t want the Widening of Davis Drive for public transit lanes.
Peak oil is going to severely reduce the amount of public traffic on the roads within the next 10 years. Widening this road to accommodate transit on the assumption that oil availability or price will never impact car use is blinkered thinking. The age of the car is ending, stop building infrastructure that perpetuates a broken model.

I want people to come forward to found a transition town movement (I’ll certainly join and take part but I won’t kid myself that organization or consensus building skills are my strong point, I’m too much the lazy malcontent)
Transition towns is a great movement devoted to helping towns and communities adapt to peak oil and more self reliance.

I’d like to see the creation of a food not lawns movement. The waste of water, energy, time and fertilizer on grass is a national disgrace. The potential benefit to food security, biodiversity and the survival of pollinators greatly outweighs the benefit of the uniformly boring dead zone we call lawns. While it’s your right to have a lawn I it’s also my right to utilize my soil to grow food.

I also want a lobby for the legalization of small urban livestock, hens, rabbits, dwarf goats as part of a greater Right to Farm legislation.

I want to see tax relief and zoning concession that encourage land owners to lease, donate or even use their honking big lawns to grow food locally. Just drive around the Pony and Stellar Drive industrial area, the lawns on some of these properties could supply 100s of people with produce. The utilization of urban lands to feed people is becoming more prevalent

Stop jerking us around on community gardens. After years of improving the soil in Newmarket’s community garden the region is giving urban farmers the boot, our new location will be a dead field of clay adjacent to the Magna center. In reality Magna should be additional garden plots not replacement plots

I’d like Ontario hydro to allow us the use of the hydro corridor for garden plots. There are many acres of untended and usable land going to waste.

I want a local food cooperative selling locally grown fresh and canned produce as well as bulk purchases of food staples.

I want to see the careers ended for those local politicians who think that the only thing they must offer to get my vote is more public ice rinks. There is more to life and their jobs than facilitating hockey…arrgggg!

I want to see strict enforcement of the no free range cat bylaw. If your dog, child or spouse is running amok in my yard I can call the police, if it’s a cat however you must trap it yourself because police or animal control won’t do anything. Cats and their freakishly zealot owners are apparently above a law that protects indigenous species like song birds from being hunted by a foreign and destructive species. If you’re too lazy to clean your own cat box put the cat down, don’t send it to crap in my garden

Ban golf courses- a place that Ontario exempts from the pesticide spraying laws

I want to see a group of environmentally aware people create a slate of like minded candidates in the next round of municipal elections.

I’d like the Newmarket Farmers market to have its board fired and a neutral party placed in charge. The market has lost good vendors because board members did not like losing market share to a better product, (the best meat pies are sold by a guy at the Aurora market now.) It also looks pretty obvious that many current vendors are breaking the rules and bringing out of region produce from the food terminal.

I’d like to see at least one weekend Go train that goes down 9:00ish a.m. and came back at 5-6 pm so that people can do the Ex, trade shows, theatre, the islands etc.

There are so many things that I want done yet I see no awareness to the need for change. I guess there are several answers but they all boil down to 2 categories

I’m a delusional crank
People are inherently short sighted and stupid

Or maybe there are people out there who will say, "Those are great ideas, I want to get involved" and will contact me to do something.

No, you are right. I must a be delusional Crank!!! bwahahahahaahah

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nitroglycol said...

Here's one potentially positive development not too far from you:

"Politicians have a warning for land speculators. They intend to declare large swaths of rural land off-limits to development."

It's a start, anyway...

Building Materials Supplies said...

Things I want to see for Newmarket/Aurora

Thanks for sharing

Mike said...

Excellent post. Here in Australia the government is offering FREE home sustainability assessments and green interest-free loans to the value of $10k to promote home design sustainability. The intention in 5yrs or so is that upon the sale of a house you must provide a sustainability certificate for the building - much like how insurance companies require pest inspections prior to finance. Hopefully putting a negative value on unsustainable housing should encourage the masses to think about what they are constructing. Love the blog and your views on silver.

Lord of Wealth/Green Assassin Brigade said...

Thanks Mike, its amazing how much positive response I get from people who agree on my metals position who also appreciate green values. I think this proves that environmently aware people are more practical and pragmatic than the granola and berkenstock stereotypes gives them credit for. It also shows that metal bugs are very aware many threatening issues. The official GREEN hostility to mining and metals is irrational, sound money can and will curb unsustainable growth caused by credit.

There are many models for better sustainability than Canada uses we just have to look around and pick one. We are one of the highest energy users per capita in the world and we largely don't seem to care, I'm rather embarassed and outraged by our stupidity and lack of forward thought/preparedness for change.

3 comments so far and 2 are from UK and Austrialia, None from my actual town. What does that say?

Thanks again

Lord of Wealth/Green Assassin Brigade said...

Mike, great kids stuff on your site. Mine are just past that stage but cool none the less.

Glenn Hubbers said...

Great ideas GAB. I'll add a few for the list.

I'd like to see some thought given to the locations of existing housing (ie neighbourhoods) and looking at where those people most likely want/need to walk/cycle to, and then a plan in place to ensure they have safe paths that are well maintained.

I'd like to see bylaws changed for development such that the provision of bicycle storage is mandatory. Currently developers have clear rules around they number of parking spots they must provide, but nothing about bike paths and storage.

In my case, I live about a 15 minute walk from the Aurora GO station, and a 5 minute walk from a fairly good plaza with a variety of stores. To get to GO, I have to go the long way round since the paths through the park are lovely but winding. To get to the plaza I have to go the long way around or traverse an unlit and unfinished path across the Hydro ROW.

In both cases there is no proper bicycle storage. At the plaza there just is none. And at the GO, where people would leave their bikes for many hours at a time, the storage needs to be secure, not this open rack invitation to vandalism, providing a shelter for the theives while they steal my wheels. They're called lockers, and you can fit 8 bikes in the space of one car.

I'd like to see proper YRT routing at the GO train, with access/proximity to the station being provided to pedestrians first, cyclists second, transit third, and cars furthest away.

I'd like to see YRT schedules coordinated to match the GO schedule, so that transit riders can go from the warm/dry train to the warm/dry bus without waiting 5-10-15 minutes in the cold/rain/snow.

I'd like to see bus shelters at the GO station which are designed for the actual number of people who use them, and perhaps have the glass go all the way to the ground so us office types don't freeze our ankles off while waiting. On the other hand, why am I waiting? See the previous point.

I'd like to see a permanent Farmers Market which operates all year long, similar to the one in Guelph. I'm thinking that the Wells Street school could be modified for this purpose, now that the morons have decided to close it.

Has anyone called you an idealist today? It's just a matter of time!

Canadian silver bug/Green Assassin Brigade said...

Oh I agree with the walking issues, the city should buy out a few dozen houses a year in the worst locations so they can add cut paths between nested streets. Starting from the go train stations and working outward would be a good way to do it, since it makes less sense to drive for those close, if the streets make it convinient.

secure bike parking, peddle and e scooters, even secure charging stations.

The standard for shelters seems to be different everywhere, newmarkets do go to the ground but some towns don't allow it because homeless move in, Aurora might be one.

The permanent farmers market at Wells would work and might also be a reasonable location for the co-op I want.

Actually, being called an idealist would involve someone local other than you actually reading this and commenting. I had hoped someone new would read this and step up to take up on of these ideas as their cause,,,,,,,,,,,, still waiting,,,,,,,, yawn,,, oh, well off to glean apples today , with hopes of getting enough to make mince meat, dry apples splice, make sauce. If only I had a cider press