Asbestos mine

Asbestos mine

Canada will finally be reversing its controversial status on asbestos, thanks in part to the PQ’s new anti-asbestos policy. What this means in terms of actual exports though, is less certain.

During the recent election, the PQ said they would cancel a $58 million loan promised to the Jeffrey asbestos mine, the last of its kind in Canada, promised by the Charest government. After closing its doors in 2010, the mine looked like it would not reopen without a government loan.

The federal government is now following suit as well, saying they won’t block the addition of asbestos to the United Nations Rotterdam Convention, a “global list of hazardous substances.”

However, investors in the Jeffrey Mine told the Montreal Gazette today that the mine would reopen, despite their failure to receive a government loan. Mine executives were also critical that the federal government might be motivated by more than a desire to compromise with the PQ or become more green friendly.

Bernard Coulombe, a top executive at the Jeffrey mine, suggested the Harper government has made a U-turn on asbestos to help secure a free-trade agreement with the European Union. Negotiators will meet in Ottawa Sept. 17 to 21.

Nevertheless, should the mine reopen, its owners may find themselves in a different political and economic climate with new limits on exports.

Asbestos quebecCanada’s historical defense of the asbestos industry has been seen as a black mark on the country’s health record within the international community. The cancer causing material has been linked to cancer and other health related problems, and is only mined in a handful of countries like Kazakhstan and Russia.

The Globe and Mail explains:

“As recently as 2010, Canada was producing 150,000 tonnes of asbestos annually, all of it in Quebec, and exporting 90 per cent — worth about $90 million — to developing countries. More than 50 countries ban the mining and use of asbestos because it causes cancer, but Canada, traditionally a major exporter, has successfully lobbied in the past to keep it off a UN list of hazardous substances.”

The federal government has also promised Asbestos, Quebec $50 million in recovery funds – in addition to funding from provincial government. Between 400-500 workers will not get their jobs back if the mine fails to reopen.

Top image: (Canadian Press)

There were three environment stories in the media today that, though seemingly unrelated, are pretty typical of Canada’s environment news, at least under the Harper regime.

Item 1: Bizarre environment story, with lots of vagueness in the media as to who is responsible

Headline: Tens of thousands of fish rotting on Lake Erie Shore (The Toronto Star)

Point: Scientists are befuddled by thousands of fish that showed up dead on the shoreline. They say it was probably caused by lake inversion (from cooling water) though residents are suspicious it may come from runoff from a nearby pig farm.

Item 2: Let’s save Canada’s environmental resources, but not look at the obvious culprits inhabiting the TSX, and talk about it at this conference

Headline. Scientists want to save “Amazon of the North” from jurisdictional scramble (Ottawa Citizen)

Point: 1.8 million square kilometres of the Mackenzie River basin can be saved by better unified management not a federal patchwork of management + joke about how it’s not just the tar sands/Hydro Quebec that will kill it

Oh, and the Arctic is melting.

Item 3: Enbridge pipeline moving along in its plan to transport toxic tar sands oil across Canada via Northern Gateway pipeline, boost stock of wealthy Canadians

Headline: Enbridge likens Northern Gateway Pipeline plan to nation-building (Financial Post)

Point: Enbridge pipeline being rebranded to get more support, screw the environment and First Nations who inhabit/own land that it will be built on.

So these stories are about different things, two of them related to energy issues and the other about an environmental clean up. However they are pretty typical archetypes of the kinds of environment stories you see over and over again in Canada. The wacky story. The light solution story. And the story about a Faustian oil pipeline.

They’re all, however, typical of the kinds of stories and attitudes you often see in the media: environmental ennui.

Story 1 has a kind of dark comedic tone to it. Isn’t it funny that all these fish showed up dead? But nothing to see here folks! Isn’t the environment wacky sometimes?

Story 2 and 3 make references to environmental antagonists—the tar sands, Hydro Quebec, global warming, etc.—as if they are tropes to touch upon. Yes! We know these are problems! But we’ve talked about it so much everyone knows it by rote…

Sure a big part of media is to find a new angle and a new story, and who wants to read the same story over and over again. What would be nice to see is some gravitas in environment stories every once in a while.

The trouble is one of the reasons the public takes the environment less seriously is that it’s still seen as either an “occasional wacky story” or something very dull that can be put on the shelf for later when there’s anther wacky story (freak weather, snow monsoon etc.). It also makes it a lot easier for the environment to be portrayed as a fluff issue, or one requiring less funding by Parliament.

So what’s the lesson? Well the media isn’t responsible for the country’s/province’s attitude towards the environment; that’s a collaborative effort. However, something to think about is the way we talk publicly about the environment. Is it boring? Or weird? Why can’t it be something we take as seriously as gun crime, because environmental disasters (many cause by humans) can be just as deadly? Just some things to think about.

 

It’s time for your weekly dose of environment news—student strike edition!

With university back in session, the cops are back on the beat, arresting protesters and racking up overtime. Radio Canada found the SPVM logged $5.6 million in overtime from February 1 to June 27, y’know, keeping track of protesters. As of July 13, it had reached $7.3 million.

Another story came out this month that the use of specially trained units at protests also cost a possible $2.5 to 3 million. So you can add that cost on too.

Here’s what the city could have gotten for its $7 million in overtime hours, or its $7 million more in anticipated overtime.

–       A dent in filling all those fucking potholes around the city. Apparently the city has between 35,000–50,000 potholes, which cost around $20 each to fill. Assuming the city’s construction bosses take a healthy cut, that’s still only $1 million. That leaves say, $6 million for the Rizutto family and city hall. Everybody wins!

–       5% of the funding ($107 million) needed to make repairs to 50 different infrastructure sites around the city, not counting the crumbling Turcot interchange. Way to go M-T-L planning department.

–       21 small WEMI industrial composters (more than one for each borough at $323,000 each!) or 9 large WEMI composters ($765,000 each)

–       Set up 155 10kW solar panel installations ($45,000 each) or 311 5kW solar installations ($22,500 each) on Montreal’s rooftops

–       The cost of most of Montreal’s new bike paths (or even more), which at $10 million will add 78 kilometres of bike path to 10 boroughs over the next few years.

–       Alternatively, Montreal could go the Chicago route and build some protected bike paths, which cost around $140,000 per mile (something like $86,992 per kilometre). So that’s 80 kilometres of protected bike lane.

–       10 more diesel electric buses, though the STM is already spending $471 million on a fleet of 509 more energy efficient buses between 2012 and 2014.

–       The salaries of the city’s 40 directors of the STM, which amount to $6.2 million, some of the highest paid civil servants in the city.

–       40% of a snowstorm – The cost of removal per snow-monsoon costs the city’s boroughs around $17 million.

–       1,400,000 size-small poutines from The Main, nearly one per resident. (200,000 or so would lose out, but you have to account for non-poutine aficionados and vegans)

And there you have it. Look at this list of things we could have accomplished, instead of chasing protesters around.

 

*Photo by davidcwong888 via Flickr (used under a Creative Commons license). 

It probably comes as no big surprise, but Canada may be drastically off its emission targets, despite contrary promises from the government.

Though the Harper government says Canada is halfway to reaching its 17 per cent emissions reduction target by 2020, critics say the country has only cut emissions by as little as 3 per cent.

The devil, it seems, is in the details, according to CTV.  The Montreal based environmentalist group Équiterre says the government is skewing the data to make it look more palatable.

Canada’s 2020 emissions target of 607 megatonnes is based on the projection that 850 megatonnes of harmful gases would have been released into the atmosphere had the federal government done nothing to reduce emissions.

By using that projection as a starting point, instead of the roughly 750 megatonnes of greenhouse gases Canada emitted in 2005, the government can say it’s halfway toward reaching the goal. However, emissions are currently down only three per cent from 2005 levels, at 720 megatonnes.

Other projections have placed Canada’s 2020 emissions as much as 19 per cent higher than its goal. This is good news, though, according to The Province, but only because its emissions targets have been so bleak.

Environment Canada’s previous estimates from 2011 projected the country’s annual emissions would be 29 per cent above Harper’s 2020 target, set under the 2009 Copenhagen climate change agreement.

Perhaps the contributing factor is the government’s lax stance on emissions from the tar sands. The Environment Minister Peter Kent said the government doesn’t want to inhibit job growth. This winter Canada also earned some well-deserved international ire when the country pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, joining the United States, Afghanistan, Andorra, and South Sudan.

However, with global warming in full swing, Alberta can expect to be scorched anyway by 2100. Maybe the seat of the Conservative Party will have to acknowledge the “climate change” problem by then?

*Photo by Guy Gorek (Creative Commons)

Photo: Wikipedia CC

Photo: Wikipedia CCI’ve always liked the joke that the quote on Quebec license plates “Je me souviens” (I remember) isn’t a statement of national pride but actually a reference to the winter. It’s always there, lurking, in the shadows of Mont Royal.  Yet as much as winter is an integral part of the Canadian identity and image, this won’t be the case for much longer.

Though temperature changes of a few degrees of the earth’s surface might not sound like a lot, it will have a drastic impact on Canada’s geography. It is predicted that global climate change will result in almost 40 per cent of land-based ecosystems making changes from one ecological community type – such as forest, grasslands or tundra – toward another.

So here’s what your kids and grandkids can expect by 2100 (88 years from now):

A milder, muggier Montreal and Toronto, a drier Vancouver

The St. Lawrence region will see more precipitation (25 per cent) but also milder temperatures, meaning Montreal  and Toronto will probably turn into Chicago, which is currently turning into Mobile, Alabama. (For real, they are planting Southern trees)

And Vancouver, after thousands of years of suffering through the rain in the summer will see a lot less. This might sound nice to some of its residents who are sick of the rain, but it will have a pretty big impact on B.C.’s aquatic community

Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta will be hardest hit

NASA says the hardest hit will be Western Canada, particularly the prairies and the boreal forest, which are expected to retreat northwards. What this means is that as the region heats, the prairies can expect a drastic change in ecology and lifestyle.

“So anywhere in Canada where you are currently at what’s called an ‘ecotone,’ or the transition zone between the prairie plant communities and the boreal forest plant communities, that’s where the greatest change will be observed,” said NASA collaborator, Jon Bergengren, a global ecologist and earth systems scientist.

This is the sort of thing that has led to the collapse of civilizations in the past,  but in our modern world plentiful water and tree-lined streets  of Alberta and Saskatchewan will be rationed to the 1%.

(Umm…paging Stephen Harper…)

Drier Southern Alberta and Ontario

Southern Alberta and Ontario in particular could face strains on their water as rising temperatures increase evaporation, according to the University of Waterloo. A similar effect will be felt in Ontario, as the Great Lakes water levels start to drop.

Retreating forests

As temperatures rise, Canada’s famous boreal forests will recede farther and farther north. More than half of the forest is predicted to vanish in the next century, according to the Canadian Wildlife Federation. And drier conditions further south mean more forest fires of increasing intensity.

A smaller and less healthy Arctic

It’s not exactly news that the polar ice cap is shrinking and sea levels are rising thanks to a warming earth. What is becoming more apparent though is thevariety of ways this can screw with the planet, from extreme weather to sinking cities. In Canada’s Arctic regions the temperature has already changed four degrees celsius, which is leading to more waterborne illnesses, according to National Geographic.

Which means that

Ecologically speaking, Canada is about to go through some kind of climate change vortex. Changing temperatures, retreating forests and glaciers, more rain, more forest fire will tip the balance in many ecosystems.

Or as NASA says:

While Earth’s plants and animals have evolved to migrate in response to seasonal environmental changes and to even larger transitions, such as the end of the last ice age, they often are not equipped to keep up with the rapidity of modern climate changes that are currently taking place. Human activities, such as agriculture and urbanization, are increasingly destroying Earth’s natural habitats, and frequently block plants and animals from successfully migrating.

*Photos from Wikipedia, arbyreed (via Creative Commons), and 


If you’ve already read Ethical Oil: parts one and two, you’ve suffered through the realities of our energy market in this country. You’ve read the back-and-forth about the very existential quandary that seems to be occupying ivory-tower environmental thinkers.

Trying to make sense of Canadian energy policy is not for the faint of the heart, so I called Gordon Laxer. The University of Alberta professor has spent the past 29 years in Alberta, having followed Canadian energy policy through the 60s to the first real emergence of a national plan in the 70s, followed by the wholesale auctioning of Canadian energy sovereignty in the 80s.

“We are basically an energy satellite or an energy colony of the United States,” he says.

“That’s the definition of a colony; when the people of a country don’t have first access to their own resources,” he says, laughing. “That’s what a colony is about.”

Laxer is referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement, specifically, the Proportionality Clause.

Under several layers of lawyer-speak, the clause basically stipulates that Canada may only create trade restrictions if; it does not decrease oil exports in relation to the amount being produced and it does not raise the price of oil beyond what is being charged domestically.

In simpler terms, there can be no trade restrictions that decrease the percentage or increase the price of oil sold to the United States or Mexico. Currently that proportion stands at 66%. Later in the document, it explicitly says that Mexico is exempt from the clause. And the US gets off easily, as it exports no significant quantity of oil.

So it begs the question; is Alykhan Velshi using his campaign to shill for the Americans?

“This campaign isn’t just directed at Canadians,” Velshi says. However, he acknowledges that the focus is heavily on the tarsands. Doing a search through the Ethical Oil website shows this quite clearly. There is only one post on that site talking about ‘ethical’ oil from the UK and Norway. The only reference to Newfoundland is in terms of how many Newfies work in Alberta.

“It’s the oilsands, not Newfoundland’s offshore oil, that has come under relentless attack, so that’s where we devote our energy,” Velshi says.

But he stresses that ethical oil can come from any country with good human rights. He just doesn’t talk about them.

“I try, wherever possible … to make clear that it’s not exclusive to the oilsands … my main focus is the oilsands,” he says. “Partly, it’s a resource issue. I don’t have time to become an expert on the north sea.”

This is part of the problem – we’re only having half the discussion. We’re having the discussion that benefits American markets, not Canadian ones.

But this can’t be right. Velshi believes in social justice! In the environment! In gay rights!

On the other hand, Laxer has a novel idea – challenge the Proportionality Clause, if we lose that battle, leave NAFTA.

Velshi isn’t convinced. “I’m a free-trader, and therefore I’m pro NAFTA. That having being said, I’m not an expert on all of NAFTA’s specific provisions,” he says. “As much as possible, we need to let markets determine these things.”

The markets are what have turned our energy regime into Frakenstein’s monster.

NAFTA aside, Laxer argues that the West doesn’t need the tarsands. Alberta’s conventional oil, combined with offshore oil in Newfoundland could sustain all of Canadian consumption. The same goes for natural gas and hydroelectricity.

In fact, Laxer says Newfoundland currently produces 20% more oil than Atlantic Canada uses and far more hydro power than they need. With massive new green energy deals in the works that involve the other Atlantic Provinces, we have an opportunity to slash our electricity production by means of oil and coal.

But, as always, we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. A large amount of that electricity will be going to the United States. It will likely ease our use of coal, but not to the extent that it could. New England will benefit the most.

The crowning jewel of our new energy projects is the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s a $7 billion American project that would bring half a million barrels a day from Alberta into the Gulf states.

Breaking into a new export market would be good for Canada, we’re told.

Yet a backgrounder written by Laxer for the Pembina Institute, an environmental think-tank based in Alberta, says that this new pipeline will drive the market to increase production levels in the tarsands while at the same time raising prices – even in Canada.

The report reads, “TransCanada acknowledged that one of the primary benefits offered by Keystone XL would be an increase in the price of heavy crude, which would result in an increase of annual revenue to the Canadian producing industry of between U.S. $2 billion and U.S. $3.9 billion in 2013.”

The oil companies get more, and we get less.

With the pipeline facing an uncertain future, the push to justify Canadian oil is becoming more important than ever. So is the need to have a sensible policy that works for Canada. The battle won’t be won on whose oil is more ethical, or which side truly represents the environment – but on whose population is willing to stand up and demand a fair deal.

 

Top image: http://preventcancernow.ca/tar-sands-encore

Before moving to Toronto for the rest of the summer I was warned about the dangers of biking on its streets. I’d need a helmet and some luck, I was told.   And I’d heard plenty about newly elected Mayor Rob Ford’s lack of appetite for cyclists and their paths.

In fact, the week I arrived, bike paths were making headlines as city council decided to remove bike lanes on Jarvis street they had set up one year earlier.   The irony of the decision is that it will cost much more to remove the lanes than it did to install them. Reports say the removal will cost $200,000 while the original installation cost only $59,000.

The hundreds of cyclists out to protest the move still had reason to celebrate, however.   The Jarvis bike lanes won’t be removed until segregated paths are set up, most notably on Sherbourne Street, which runs parallel to Jarvis on the eastern edge of Toronto’s downtown core.

While councillors opposed to the move lamented what they called an unprecedented shift for a Canadian city, other cycling stories continued to gain momentum.   On July 7, Toronto’s Bixi announced it had hit the 100,000-trip milestone after surpassing the 1,000-subscription mark in the spring.

Toronto’s 80 stations are limited to the downtown core (Montreal has over 400 across the city), but the availability of the service throughout the entire year is likely to continue to attract residents looking for a permanent, fast and comparatively cheap alternative to Toronto’s streetcars, buses and subway.

Of course, cycling is not the only sign of an environmental conscience in Canada’s largest city.   This past Saturday, Yonge Street was closed from Dundas to Queen for the Live Green Toronto Festival, which also took over Dundas Square. The festival brought together promoters of green businesses and municipal programs, showing off their products and services.

Toronto’s competing car sharing programs Zipcar and AutoShare were on site, as well as providers of worm composting equipment, solar panel companies, local and organic food suppliers and restaurants and bag makers re-using materials even before they get recycled, among dozens of others.

The city’s commitment to putting the environmental festival front and center in the heart of the city, and stopping traffic to do so is refreshing, in comparison with Montreal’s Salon de l’environnement, which is relegated to the indoor Palais des Congrès.

And on the same note, credit must be given to a city that has had municipal organic waste collection since 2005.   In Montreal we continue to hear the service is on its way, with hopes pinned on 2013-14.

In a city known for its scale, the massive high rises and sprawling, rail-laced avenues tend to overshadow the progress made on environmental issues.   While the traffic in Toronto is still the country’s worst, Montreal does not lag far behind and so perhaps the best outcome is a process of mutual motivation, where Montréal la verte is inspired by and learns from Toronto the green, and vice versa.

protesters march in downtown Montreal

protesters march in downtown Montreal

If anyone thought the battle over shale gas in Quebec was finished, a wave of protest that has swept through the province washed those thoughts away in Montreal on Saturday.   Organizers and supporters of the “Moratorium for a Generation” marched on the city, bringing to a crescendo a month-long trek from Rimouski in eastern Quebec and along the St-Lawrence River to downtown Montreal outside of Premier Jean Charest’s office.

man holds megaphone and microphone to mouth“We’re asking for a 20-year moratorium on the exploration and extraction of shale gas in Quebec,” said organizer Jean-Sébastien Leduc.   Twenty years is the length of a shale gas exploration land claim and of a generation, said Leduc.   “We don’t want to leave a legacy of polluted water, contaminated air and noise to the next generation.”

Shale gas extraction involves drilling a well and pumping water, sand and chemicals into it at high pressure.   The pressurized mix cracks layers of shale releasing the natural gas trapped inside, approximately two kilometers underground, a process called hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

Concerns about the industry include the potential for ground water and drinking water contamination with chemicals and natural gas, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, noise and industrialization of rural landscapes.

Michel Robert, a farmer from Mont St-Hilaire, marched with the group that started in Longueuil on the south shore.   The group marched across the Jacques Cartier Bridge, chanting, carrying flags and signs and drawing a chorus of honking horns on the busy crossing.

For Robert, water is the biggest issue. “On my farm I get my water from an artesian well and the chemicals that are used could end up in the ground water in a year, 10 years or  100 years,” said Robert, “but in 200 years there will still be farms in St-Hilaire and we don’t need these chemicals in our water.”

Fellow Mont St-Hilaire resident and retiree Marie Bouchard took part in the march and said public consultation has been lacking. “Wewoman gives peace sign on street never heard anything about it and all of a sudden we saw trucks beginning to explore 200 metres from our homes,” she said.   Mont St-Hilaire is known for its largely undisturbed natural richness and is a UNESCO biosphere reserve.

Several groups took part in the rally including the outspoken Quebec Association Against Air Pollution (AQLPA), one of the industry’s loudest critics, as well as Equiterre and Greenpeace. Parti Québecois leader Pauline Marois and Québec Solidaire MNA Amir Khadir also attended.

In addition to attracting broad citizen support, new endorsement was pledged by a coalition of Quebec scientists calling for greater independence and citizen participation in the government’s shale gas environmental evaluation committee.

Gathered outside Premier Jean Charest’s Montreal office, thousands of people cheered calls for more renewable energy development, including wind, solar and biogas.   And though people like Robert are still not sure about putting wind turbines on their property, energy conservation was a common theme.   “I think all citizens, including me, have to learn to better conserve energy,” said Robert.

Organizers said that Quebec’s energy needs are already met by the current hydroelectric supply and excess energy production is planned to be sold to the United States.   In Vermont, for example, the state has voted to close its nuclear plant in 2012 and buys a large proportion of its power from Hydro Quebec.

Public resistance to shale gas has already put the brakes on development in Germany and France where moratoriums are sought or nearly in place, though other European countries are pursuing shale gas as a means of gaining greater energy independence.

Photos by Tomas Urbina

Salt Spring Island a place that can fit in the palm of your hand but so vast with interesting characters that have a good thing going and live life on their terms.   People intertwined with nature on their island home and not only aware of the possibilities the universe has to offer but tuning in making the world around them a better place.

Not just nice scenery, but a real scene: Salt Spring Island

Here are but a few of SSI’s bright and shining. In this article I will give you but a bite in a pie that is growing everyday as people flock here from all over the world.   From street people generous enough to give us free beer just because we talked to them for a few minutes, to legends that just came here to slow down or retire.

David Stone, a hair dresser who writes movie scripts living on his boat, has been here for seven years only intending to be on SSI for two.   He fell in love with the place and decided that he would postpone his departure but as you will see in this article it is a normal story here on SSI.

Julia Ducharme Nuffer moved from Quebec a few years ago because her whole family moved to SSI.   Coming from a background in music, circus, performance arts and a fire spinner, Julia can often be found at various parks on SSI singing, playing various instruments or spinning fire, always trying to perfect her art.   She also makes jewelry and sells it at the famous SSI Saturday Market.   Always surrounding herself with creative people trying to make a difference in some way, shape or form.

Which brings me to her partner Randy Lavigne, political activist and a man trying to wrap his head around making things move instead of just discussions around a table.   He has spoken against the system and lead people to take action against their government and make a difference.   His fight has brought him up against the Quebec, Alberta and now BC is going to hear about this young man.

Daryl Chonka: one of the many artists who call Salt Spring Island home

Daryl Chonka from Brandon Manitoba, a musician internationally known for his original blend of world and folk music, not to mention the albums being recorded in his studio overlooking the ocean here on SSI including Oona McOuat, Lane 31, Stephanie Rhodes.   He has worked with the likes of Valdy, Bill Henderson and renown Tibetan multi-instrumentalist Tenzing Tsewang who also lived on SSI until Aug 13th 2006 where he moved on from this life. (R.I.P)

A few of Daryl’s productions have been recorded at his studio Old Growth Music and have been mastered at The Barn, Randy Bachman’s studio.   From what is spread through the grapevine here whether you are working with him or just hanging out Daryl is just a real easy going good guy.

What list of SSI Talent would be complete without mentioning Randy Bachman and his recording studio called The Barn.   Randy Bachman, the man behind The Guess Who, Bachman Turner Overdrive and countless other credits moved to SSI and opened The Barn.

Randy Bachman now takes care of business at his studio The Barn on Salt Spring Island

With top notch gear and a collection of over 400 guitars, there are great sounds coming out of The Barn but with Randy would you expect it any other way?   A multi award winner, Randy Bachman, now officer of the order of Canada, the highest civilian award given in Canada, has gold records and a track record a mile long.   If you don’t know Randy Bachman you are probably not North American, because everybody and their grandmothers know “Taking Care Of Business”

Robert Bateman, born in Toronto, world reputed artist and conservationist that has worked on countless books, films and of course paintings, lives on SSI which would explain his love for painting birds and wildlife.   As on SSI, there are over 90 species of birds not to mention seeing wildlife on a daily basis his keen eye and steady hand have produced many fine pieces of art. With paintings in the collections of royalty along with honorary memberships and awards that are too numerous to count, inspiration runs high on SSI as you are beginning to see.

Harry Warner well known Irish folk musician, performance artist, political activist and farmer, also came here looking for the right environment and now is known as one that helps the less fortunate traveler and rents to them make shift cabins which are much appreciated thanks to their low price.   Harry is a legend in these parts known as the anarchist musical farmer that helps and votes most often for the underdog.

Everywhere here there are souls who strive for more but more not in a sense having more material items but more in a sense of living their art and politics at a more local level, defining their own definitions of success and living their own dreams in a happy place.   Don’t get me wrong, there are multimillion dollar homes in the North end and retreats being built for Japanese business men, the Island is growing in population and is growing with millionaires and big money.

The north grows and the south creates: map of Salt Spring Island

They say that the artistic community lives in the South end of the island with the farmers and most of the artists grow their own food anyway, as the North grows the south creates.   These are but a few of the characters you will meet in the following months by reading SSI Artist & Activist Adventures!   Some of the people you just read about will be featured with interview excerpts not to mention more of the unique characters here that have been drawn by the call of Salt Spring Island.

From the West coast Mundafar bids you farewell and says, “Come on down if you need some inspiration”