Publications and multimedia:
We are very pleased to highlight our latest publications:

A Canadian Energy Strategy: Why Should Local Governments Care discusses Canada's energy future and the need for a new national approach to energy. Local governments have a key stake in ensuring stable, sustainable, and affordable energy, and have an important role to play in a national energy discussion. 
This briefing note has generated media interest. See recent articles in the the Ottawa Citizen and The Tyee, for example. 
Read the full article here.




In collaboration with LOCO BC, and ISIS, the Columbia Institute's most recent research article, The Power of Purchasing: The Economic Impacts of Local Procurement investigates the economic, social, and environmental impacts of procurement. 
This is the first study to examine the economic impacts of institutional procurement in a Canadian context.
In British Columbia, local governments and school districts alone spend more than $6.7 billion annually on procurement - this represents a major force in the economy, and a powerful lever to encourage positive change.
Read the article here.


Upcoming Events
The Centre for Civic Governance will have a booth at UBCM Convention September 16-20th, 2013. Please come by and say hello!

Who We Are
The Centre for Civic Governance at Columbia Institute works to strengthen Canadian communities and enhance the public good through analyzing issues, sharing best practices, and providing tools for locally elected leaders working to build inclusive, sustainable communities. 

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AUGUST 2013

Pride's colours
Vancouver's 2013 Pride Parade included a colourful new feature this year: rainbow-coloured crosswalks at the intersection of Davie and Bute Streets in the West End. The unique crosswalk, which is part of the Viva Vancouver public space program, will be maintained permanently.  These are the first permanent rainbow crosswalks in Canada, and celebrate Vancouver's commitment to being a safe, inclusive, and accepting community.  See the story with photos and video at cbc.ca and at xtra.com.
Boycott Sochi games?
Vancouver has been mentioned in more LGTBQ news recently, as activists are calling on the International Olympic Organization (IOC) to relocate the 2014 Winter Olympic Games from Sochi, Russia to Vancouver in response to Russia's new anti-gay laws banning 'homosexual propoganda,' and permitting the arrest of foreigners suspected of being homosexual. Change.org has organized an online petition requesting that the IOC relocate the games, as the Olympic values - excellence, friendship, and respect - are incompatible with Russia's anti-gay climate. Olympic athletes, including women's hockey team captain Hayley Wickenheiser, have spoken out expressing concern for gay athletes and spectators at the Sochi Olympics. Other efforts to raise awareness about this include a boycott of Russian Vodka, led by author and activist Dan Savage.

Protecting youth from bullying
Showing Russia that things can be done differently, St Albert has become the second school district in Alberta to create policy protecting students from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Alberta's provincial school board association rejected a similar policy last year, but Edmonton public school board trustees adopted it unilaterally.

Nature classrooms
Last month's newsletter highlighted the Nature Kindergarten initiative in Sooke, BCThis article in Good Magazine describes the growing trend of nature classrooms in elementary schools across North America, and the growing evidence of the pedagogical benefits of nature-based curriculum. School districts across Canada are developing similar programs, for example in Toronto, New Brunswick, and North Vancouver

Voter turnout + climate change
Recent polling shows that climate change remains a key political issue, particularly for younger voters. This bipartisan poll looks at youth voter turnout in the United States, and shows that interest in climate change issues cuts across political lines. A majority of young voters from all party affiliations want to see governments take action on climate change and are letting politicians know at the ballot box. See analysis at slate.com. In Canada, this Environics poll from 2012 shows that Canadian voters have similar attitudes towards climate change.

The high level of awareness and concern comes as no real surprise, as climate change continues to make headlines across Canada. A recent poll by Forum Research indicates that a majority of Canadians believe that the recent flooding in Calgary and Toronto was caused by anthropogenic climate change, and want to see some action taken by governments. Read about the fallout from Canada's "summer of sorrow"  in an excellent essay by Canadian planner and librarian Michael Dudley. 

Accountability in local government
Responding to concern over the rate of political participation in civil society, Guelph is creating an open government action plan to "empower the Guelph community to work together on innovative solutions." Canadian cities have been working to make information open and free for residents to access, increasing governance transparency, allowing residents to make more informed decisions. With the open government action plan Guelph is setting the bar even higher.

Clean Energy Resolution
On June 19th, Richmond City Council moved to adopt the Clean Energy Resolution. calling on the federal government to work with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to develop a new energy strategy prioritizing clean-energy innovation and green jobs. Richmond will bring this resolution forward at the Union of BC Municipalities 2013 Convention. Read Richmond's council report here, and an in-depth discussion of the issues in our recent publication  A Canadian Energy Strategy: Why should local governments care.

To further highlight the need for immediate action, a new study published in the scientific journal Nature estimates the financial costs of warming in the Arctic. Methane trapped in permafrost below the arctic seabed released into the atmosphere will accelerate atmospheric warming and the loss of arctic sea ice, costing the global economy up to $60 trillion. For context, according to Wikipedia, the entire global economy in 2012 was approximately $70 trillion

For some inspiration, this report from Sustainable Prosperity argues that taking action on climate change is not necessarily damaging the economy. Since British Columbia instituted a provincial carbon tax, fossil fuel consumption has decreased relative to the rest of the country, while the economy has kept pace with the other Canadian provinces. The authors, who are all economics professors from Canadian universities, recommend that all provinces examine following British Columbia's lead on carbon taxation.

Council of the Federation
Canada's premiers met late last month in Niagara-on-the-Lake for their annual Council of the Federation summit. Discussion focused on the economy, infrastructure, housing, cyber-bullying, and the national Energy Strategy. Premiers also discussed disaster planning and mitigation, calling on the federal government to maintain emergency assistance programs and to work with the provinces to develop a nation-wide disaster mitigation initiative.





 

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