York University in Toronto will be hosting their third annual film festival all about sustainability. This year they are running films about oil. If you’re in Toronto next weekend or nearby you should check out what’s playing and take the bus to the festival.
Planet in Focus with York University Present: Focus on Sustainability Film Festival – the annual event with this years theme on oil! This entertaining and educating experience features domestic and foreign documentaries, a panel discussion with filmmakers and academics, an interactive film display, prizes, sustainably sourced food and beverages, and an e-waste disposal program. Please join us on Friday, January 31st, 2014 in the Nat Taylor Cinema (North Ross 102 at York University) from Noon to 9:00pm.
Despite repeated efforts by Toronto’s mayor to make transportation in the city worse, things are improving. Local condo developers are finding ways to build condo towers that don’t require more parking than the building needs (an archaic law in the city wants room for two cars for every bedroom built). They are using the cash saved from not building room for cars to build infrastructure for bicycles – which the condo buyers are asking for.
Other cities around the world already do this and it’s thanks to the effort of the developers and councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam that Toronto benefits from this smart approach. With more people moving into the city bicycles make sense as a primary transportation source.
The developers — major players Canderel, DiamondCorp and Lanterra — agreed to contribute to Bixi in exchange for permission to create fewer parking spaces than city rules require.
The city sometimes releases developers from parking requirements without demanding anything in return. Wong-Tam said she decided that she would attempt this time to insist on the Bixi contribution. The developers, she said, put up “no resistance whatsoever,” since they will spend far less than they would have had to spend to build parking they can’t sell.
Lanterra chief executive Barry Fenton said he never thought of the agreement as a cost-saver: he believes his company would have persuaded Wong-Tam to relax the requirements even without the Bixi payment. Citing a “fantastic” bike journey he took in Stockholm, he said investing in urban cycling “just really, really, really makes a lot of sense.”
Lovebots are a fun art project that aims to fill Toronto with little concrete robots. The goal is to remind people that the city is a lovely place filled with nice people.
No fewer than 100 2′ tall concrete statues of Lovebot will be put on display in “secret locations” across the city. Like humans, each statue is connected to a specific story of love, kindness or compassion that the curators have collected from the public. The call for submissions is still open,too. Pay Lovebot a visit on Facebook, or the Feel Good Guru on Queen West, Atomic Toybot on Queen East, Serpentine on Cumberland or A&C Games on Spadina. Happy lovins!
A new initiative in Toronto is trying to help the local ecosystem and bring people closer to nature through canoes. Not by paddling, but by bringing bees and butterflies to the canoes.
The core idea is to help pollinators in the city survive by creating little sanctuaries on land using old canoes filled with plants. Humans will be drawn to the canoes too, but for different reasons. People can learn about the local wildlife and environment by additional information provided by the context of the canoe placement.
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
Well, we love canoes. And not only do they look awesome filled with native plants and flowers, the Community Canoe Garden network will support local bees, butterflies and other pollinators that help ensure our fruits, veggies and herbs are abundant and healthy. Please join us in this project. Together, we can build the Community Canoe Network. And please note that the Community Canoe Garden Network is just the beginning. Working with residents, community groups, the city, and local paddling businesses, our grand ambition is to establish Community Canoe as a service similar to bixi bikes, but for canoes. We want to help make it easier for residents to explore Toronto’s waterfront and waterways. Imagine adding a paddle down the Humber or the Don to your commute, or taking a canoe trip along the waterfront!
So the ineptitude of the current Toronto mayor got me thinking of how things could have been different with forethought of climate change. It’s worth noting that Rob Ford spent the flood idling in his SUV:
Just spoke to Mayor Rob Ford, power is still out at his house. He's in the SUV with his kids trying to stay cool #TOpoli#stormTO
The barrage is part of a comprehensive system of flood control to decrease flooding in the low-lying areas in the busy quarters of the city. During the heavy rains, a series of nine crest gates activate to release excess storm water into the sea when the tide is low. When high tide comes in, giant pumps drain excess storm water at at a rate of one Olympic-size swimming pool per minute.
Although large areas of green roofs have many benefits for cities, such as reducing air pollution and helping to combat the heat island effect, Rotterdam’s priority was for water retention, since the city has a shortage of areas where water can be stored following heavy rainfall. Water management has always been a major concern in the Netherlands, since approximately 60% of the country lies below sea level. The analysis of the potential of green roofs in Rotterdam that preceded the introduction of the subsidies focused heavily on their capacity for water storage in order to reduce peak water discharge following a rain storm and help prevent flooding.
Once established a green roof can significantly reduce both peak flow rates and total runoff volume of rainwater from the roof compared to a conventional roof. Green roofs store rainwater in the plants and substrate and release water back into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration.
The amount of water that is stored on a green roof, and then evapotranspired into the atmosphere, is dependent on the depth and type of growing medium, type of drainage layer, vegetation used and regional weather. The FLL Guidelines should be followed to ensure that actual runoff will be in accordance with calculated runoff.
A green roof can easily be designed to prevent runoff from all rainfall events of up to 5 mm and as part of a SuDS strategy, should reduce the volume of surface or underground attenuation required at the site boundary. In summer, green roofs can retain 70–80% of rainfall and in winter they retain 10–35% depending on their build-up (Green roofs benefits and cost implications, Livingroofs.org In association with ecologyconsultancy, March 2004). The difference is due to a combination of more winter rainfall and less evapotranspiration by the plants because growth is not as vigorous during the winter months.
Edit: I like this tweet from Toronto’s chief planner Jennifer Keesmat as a good conclusion to this post:
Suddenly spending $ to maintain all of that not-so-sexy infrastructure and to plan for climate change seems wildly appealing. #TOflood