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Federal Budget: A Fair Stimulus?

Posted on March 20, 2009
Written by Frank Zechner
The following letter was excerpted in CWT's March/April issue. Look there for more discussion on the federal budget and water infrastructure. The most recent federal budget in Canada boasted an infrastructure stimulus.  What is that stimulus for water infrastructure in Ontario? Is it enough?  In order to answer that question, we have to look at fiscal issues over the past year.  It is also vital to note that the federal monies come with a high price for municipalities in terms of matching funds. The 'infrastructure stimulus' component of the federal [...]

Playground Lessons

Posted on March 20, 2009
Written by Kathleen Brown
In some elementary schools, there's a firm rule about littering. If you're caught doing it, you have to spend the next recess picking up garbage in the schoolyard. It's an unglamorous means of teaching kids that their choices have consequences, but it drives the point home. Looks like this basic principle for protecting the environment has extended beyond the classroom and into the House of Commons. On March 4, Environment Minister Jim Prentice introduced the Environmental Enforcement Bill with the intention of cracking down on polluters, poachers and [...]

Free Enterprise vs. the Nanny State

Posted on March 10, 2009
Should the sale of bottled water be banned at municipal-owned venues? Presently in Canada, 11 municipalities and two school boards have banned the sale of bottled water on their properties over the past three years. Thirty-six local governments have rejected the calls for bans over the last eight months. Another 17 jurisdictions are currently reviewing their options. In my November/December 2008 editorial in CWT, I called for a ban on bottled water bans across Canada. In my view, the arguments for banning the sale of bottled water just hold water. If [...]

California’s Drought: How Does it Affect Canada?

Posted on March 5, 2009
Let's talk California. On February 27, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a state of emergency and ordered immediate action to manage the state's current water crisis: "This drought is having a devastating impact on our people, our communities, our economy and our environment. This is a crisis, just as severe as an earthquake or raging wildfire, and we must treat it with the same urgency by upgrading California's water infrastructure to ensure a clean and reliable water supply for our growing state." Even with the recent rainfall, California [...]

Colour Us Green

Posted on March 4, 2009
Written by Kathleen Brown
The new initiatives of the Ontario Green Energy and Green Economy Act 2009 allow the McGuinty government to appear pretty serious about instilling green initiatives into our waning economy. The ambitious $5-billion plan encourages the growth of renewable energy projects and pledges to reduce the lengthy and intensive process impeding development. The idea is to transform the province into one of the most attractive places for green energy investments. While it's exciting to see a vision of an electricity system that ranks environmental concerns alongside [...]

Fast Money for Small Towns

Posted on February 18, 2009
Since Ministers Smitherman and Baird announced the $1 billion of infrastructure funding for Ontario small communities on Friday, my inbox has been flooded (no pun intended) with announcements about big bucks for tiny towns. Water projects are seeing results. Among the 289 communities on the list, Bayfield, Ont. received $4.64 million to finance a water tower and the installation of water distribution lines. Fort Frances will get $513,260 in funding towards $769,890 in improvements to the water treatment plant. Between federal, provincial and municipal [...]

TwestivalTO Parties for Charity: Water

Posted on February 13, 2009
This Twitter phenomenon is out of control (potentially in a good way). Attended last night's TwestivalTO on behalf of @canadianwater. It was difficult to keep up with the instant tweets (projected onto huge surrounding surfaces) and mass RL networking, often with pre-RL following to link user-to-user -- it was common to witness two partygoers approaching each other cautiously, trying to figure out if the face matched the avatar. As CWT is pretty new on the Twitter scene, we didn't meet any already-friends, but made lots of new ones. The event, held [...]

Today's Downpour, Tomorrow's Crisis?

Posted on February 12, 2009
Bright and early conversation on water quality and climate change was uncomfortably apropos after last night's flooding of Union Station and record-breaking February rainfall. It was still pouring as I entered RBC Plaza's south tower just after 7 a.m. to attend the "Our Water; Our Future" panel with Dr. Maggie Xenopoulos, an associate professor in Trent University's biology department; Mark Dzurko, a Ph.D. candidate studying trace metal biogeochemistry; and Dr. Derek Mueller, a renowned polar scientist. After a glowing introduction from CBC's Shelagh [...]

Fighting the Water Battle

Posted on February 3, 2009
Maude Barlow has mesmerizing rhetoric. Last Thursday night, she and CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan made their penultimate stop on their Unbottle It! tour, and every shocking statistic in Barlow's repertoire brought surprised gasps and clucking tongues from all corners of the room. Needless to say, the Steelworkers Hall was thick with an atmosphere of activism and sister-and-brotherhood. I'm not going to lie, I got a little caught up in the fervor myself and secretly hoped that the Nestlé spy would make him or herself known and start a wild debate. That [...]

Budget 2009: What Does Water Get?

Posted on January 28, 2009
Upgrades to Quebec water and sewer systems and other "priority" Building Canada Fund projects will be expedited, according to yesterday's budget release. This comes as a welcome announcement, especially after the latest aging water main catastrophe in Montreal. Infrastructure topped the list on the budget PR from the Minister of Finance's office, receiving an additional $12 billion in stimulus funding for projects across the country. This includes funds for short-term, "shovel-ready" projects such as sewer upgrades and is indeed new funding on top of the [...]
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