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December 2016 Newsletter

Support Us! You can become a member (Family - $20.00, Individual - $15.00, Basic - $5.00),
attend our monthly meetings (the 4th Thursday usually), donate, and/or volunteer.
Mailing address: SENS (Sustainable Environment Network Society), c/o the Boys and Girls Club,
3300-37th Ave., Vernon, V1T 2Y5. Website: www.sensociety.org

*** SENS provides tax-deductible receipts for donations ***

Information contained in this newsletter may not imply approval by SENS directors.


1.No SENS events are planned for December. Enjoy time with family and friends and drive carefully!

2. OCCP: SENS is a partner with the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program (OCCP). Check out their annual report of accomplishments here: http://okcp.ca/images/annual-reports/OCCP-Annual-Report-Oct-23-2016-update.pdf

3. Blue Dot: Vernon is now one of 144 communities (40% of Canada’s population) that has passed environmental rights declarations stating the right to live in a healthy environment. SENS hopes NORD will also sign on, soon. Thank-you to Keli and Terry for their recent presentation to RDNO on the Blue Dot movement.


1. Farmers’ Markets:

Vernon: Fridays, as of Dec 2nd, noon – 4 pm, Indoors at Kal Tire Place.

Armstrong: Saturdays, 9 am – 1 pm, Odd Fellows Hall, Bridge St.

Lumby: Open year-round, Monashee Food Co-op, #3-1965, Shuswap Ave.

GMO and pesticide free produce! For more information, call 778-473-2230 or visit their website.

2. The Messenger: December 1st, 7pm, Vernon Library. This visually stunning film investigates the causes of songbird mass depletion and the compassionate people who are working to turn the tide. It also asks the question: Can we live in a world without birds? Sponsors are the North Okanagan Naturalists Club (donations appreciated) and the Vernon library. For more information, call 250-542-7610.

3. Free, Ride Thru Winter Workshop: Dec 3, 10 am – noon, Vernon library. Prizes! Learn about maintenance, clothing, equipment, routes and more! Sponsors: ORL, DVA, Sun Country Cycle, and NOCAT.

4.Coldstream Greenways For Active Transportation: GCAT is a volunteer group that is advocating for Greenways (separated/protected multi-use trails that are paved so that they can be safely used by all) in Coldstream. GCAT wishes people of all ages to be more active and healthy. Please provide your input through this short survey, share the survey, and ‘like’ their Facebook page!

5. Rail Trail Legacy Gift: Volunteers from the Okanagan rail Trail suggest giving a gift of a meter ($160) or even part of a meter to someone you know this Christmas. Trail Development Certificates are available with on-line donations. Community Foundation of the North Okanagan (542-8677) also accepts donations.


1. Solar Powered Pedaler: Check out this innovative invention!

2. $1200 Tiny House: Cash strapped? Well here's a home you can afford!

3. Unique Tap Attachment to Save Water: Check out this cool nozzle!

4. The True Cost of LNG: A great opinion piece that equates LNG to super high costs for B.C. taxpayers + climate!

5. Coursera: Interested in learning on line? Check out the free offerings from various universities on such topics as animal behavior, geology, dinosaurs, the universe, astronomy, global warming and even “Sustainable Food Production Through Livestock health Management”

6. Damage From Privatization: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2016/nov/22/justin-trudeaus-giant-corporate-giveaway


1.Approval of Monsanto's Herbicide: Last month, the EPA approved over-the-counter use of Monsanto's latest dicamba-based herbicide. Such a move will 'massively increase use of toxic pesticides' on GMO crops! It also poses a serious threat to biodiversity. Plants and animals around those crops will now be exposed to even higher toxic levels then before. In addition, children, especially those in communities where homes, schools, and playgrounds are in close proximity to pesticide use, are at greater risk to exposure. And a final issue to consider is that Monsanto is creating yet another cycle of herbicide resistance...


1. Cancer: The B.C. Cancer Agency will use UBC cancer detecting technology in a pilot study to determine if a blood test can pinpoint early signs of cancer.

2. Whales and Drones: Check out these rare high-quality images of bowhead whales in Nunavut!

3. Salmon Podcast: You can listen to a podcast or peruse pictures here.

FROM LEADNOW.ORG (A Non-Profit Social Media Group)

Grassy Narrows Mercury: Wabigoon River fish are the most contaminated in Ontario, 40 years after Mercury dumping stopped. Finally, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray, promised a cleanup in Grassy Narrows, “to the satisfaction of the chief and the health of the people." Ontario released a report this May outlining safe river cleanup options.

FROM SUMOFUS.ORG (non-profit social media group)

Nestle and Ontario’s Water: Even if you don’t live there, your public pressure can help Ontario with the 2 year ban it is considering for companies such as Nestle that take water (at $3.71 per million litres) to make a profit for shareholders. Please share this petition to your friends on Facebook.


1. Carbon Tax? Oil and Gas Subsidies? The Suzuki Foundation encourages you to contact your MP and ask for a quick end to the 3.3 Billion in subsidies provided through your tax dollars every year. They must be used for alternatives, re-training and supporting those with less. The promise is to phase them out in 10 years…but that is far too late! Also a lone national carbon tax won't be enough to curtail Canada's energy pollution. We need to be much more aggressive!

2. David Suzuki Fellowships: They’re providing three of these, each worth $50,000. The application deadline, Feb 1st, 2017. Please apply if you meet eligibility and have expertise in: clean energy solutions or the economics of sustainable development (based in Vancouver), climate solutions and traditional Indigenous knowledge (based in Toronto), or transportation, energy and climate solutions (based in Montreal). Details can be found here.

3. On Trump Win: Like many others, I was dismayed U.S. Election results. I then read this hopeful message!


1. Garden Prepping for 2017: Here's an article on putting your garden to bed 'til Spring, plus other ideas!

2. B.C.'s Agriculture’s Connection to Health: Here's a summary (PDF) of the evidence relevant to B.C. This evidence review aims to address the question of how local agriculture affects health by presenting evidence on the associations between agriculture, healthy eating, and the determinants of health. It also looks at the impacts of climate change on the food supply and the growing interest in supporting a more resilient and sustainable food system.

3. Household Food Insecurity: It exists! Here's proof! And here's the position and recommendations of the Dieticians of Canada.

4. Volunteer Opportunities: FASNO is looking for volunteers (and donations!) to help improve local food security. They cultivate a healthy, sustainable regional food system through education and community action. Contact them at 250-275-8814 or info@foodaction.ca. if you are interested in newsletter development, website, and/or social media management, please volunteer to help us with various activities. Or become a Board Member – they make things happen!

5. Good Food Box: Get a basket of fresh fruit and vegetables monthly, available in a central location. Pay $16 (cash only) by Wednesday the week before distribution day (3rd Thursday of the month). Delivery is available in Vernon (within city limits). Also in Vernon, a smaller $10 box is available. Info? Website or call Diane at 250-545-7617.

6. Healthy Eating Information: For more, check out the 'Your Health' website or dial 8-1-1!

7. Community Kitchens: Cook communally! Learn new recipes! The cost is only $1/portion of food you take home. Classes are on the 3rd Thursday and Friday of every month. You must pre-register. To sign up e-mail vernoncommunitycooking@gmail.com or call 250-275-8814.


1. Glyphosate Testing in Our Bodies: The health hazards associated with glyphosate are growing; not just cancer is associated with exposure to this chemical, but a whole range of developmental and neuroendocrine conditions are also implicated. This is because it is now known that glyphosate can substitute for glycine, a key amino acid in protein synthesis. Proteins made with this substitute will not function normally! As such, a project to try and determine the presence of glyphosate in the bodies of ordinary citizens, primarily of the U.S., is now underway...


1. Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency is proposing to phase out imidacloprid, not to protect bees, though. More here.

2. Triclostan: US Food and Drug Administration is banning triclosan in soaps as there’s not evidence it reduces infections. In Canada we are still hedging on whether to phase it out.

3. Bitumen: Prevent Cancer Now says bitumen should be “detoxed” before shipping.


Co- Edited with Egan Mandreck


Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR): SENS and the Library co-sponsored a full-house evening of dialogue with Richard Bullock, November 24, with interesting questions and comments from attendees. Here’s Richard on CBC radio: http://www.cbc.ca/listen/live/radio1/kelowna and here are some of the comments from the evening.

The Agricultural land Commission (ALC) came about, pre 1972, because the Regional Districts and Municipalities had lost control - housing took land instead of it staying for food farming and orcharding. It is still the best plan for preserving farm food land but it needs support from the RDs and municipalities. Less than 5 % of land release requests and other change requests come from farmers so work and time of the ALC is wasted by non-farmers out to suit personal choices. The NDP came into power and supported the ALR and ALC with a contract for fruit farmers to freeze land so it could not be sold for housing but only kept for farming. In exchange, farmers were protected with insurance against bad year damage etc. Later governments (Socred -Liberals) started changing how the ALC and ALR operated. Now ALR land is used for speculative reasons (hold to make money) so values rose and land is no longer affordable for young farmers. We are up against powerful money people. Speculator owners hold onto agricultural land until they can sell, not for farm land, but for huge, and personal profit. RD’s and Municipalities are not standing up and protecting agriculture – they’re not treating agriculture the same as they do other businesses, yet BC agriculture is the second largest GDP economic generator in BC.

Solutions: Eliminate ALL individual applications to the ALC. Any application to remove land should only be brought up at a public meeting The community should make the decision so that it benefits the whole community, not just one landowner. Victoria should not be making the decisions about local land. Local government should, with the public’s input make the final decision. “HANDS OFF FARMLAND”. If locals say this, then the government will back off. It should be Kristi Clark saying it, though, and then the fight by the ALC to protect farmland and keep it sacrosanct would be ‘over’. The NDP critic needs to push to have government say “no” to all individual applications. Local government (not federal or provincial) affects us most but we give them the least attention.

The price of food is an issue – how much are we willing to pay for food? If you buy it as farmland, then you sell it as farmland only. There are small successful retailers such as Davison’s and more are appearing. We used to have 13 large packing houses in the valley (1950’s) but now there’s only Sunripe and everyone ships to them. RD’s and Municipalities have allowed this loss. NOCA was a $17 million industry but the Foremost Co. would not work with them so no milk is not processed locally and many jobs were lost. Free trade agriculture is killing our sovereignty. All we do is shop and support foreign food production. The push is still to produce food for export, not use it locally.

In Salmon Arm 1100 farm land owners have received letters about a land lease rent workshop to be held. It most likely would discuss such things as 25 year land tenure leases to young farmers so that, even if the land sold, it would stay as protected farm land and the farmer could continue to produce food. Compartmentalizing may have meant farmers are not showing viability. Mixed use of land may help change how people see presence of farming. Big money corporations see farmland as a safe investment - too narrow a view of agriculture.

In Kelowna farmers were allowed to diversify – rent to a few trailer owners short term for extra money, but it has got out of control and now the trailer parks can’t be removed. They are trailer park renters, NOT farmers now. Diversification should only be allowed if farming is the dominant industry (and thus successful!). There is a perception that one has to diversify to make a go of agriculture but these are ”shit farmers” – they’re no good at it and have made a poor decision to buy to farm so have tried to diversify to make ends meet. The change of regulations at the ALC is aimed at non-farmers.

Right to Farm” legislation has meant that a mega cow farm on 400 acres can pollute aquifers with impunity and get government support to keep doing it.. Industrial farming needs control, though. (editorial aside: if it were 1000 humans, not cows, a tertiary treatment facility would be mandatory, right?). Chilliwack is sitting on the best aquifer water in the world but locals are getting concerned about the destruction of the high quality water due to local farmers’ “right to farm”…

Richard asked everyone to “tell Your Story” re; protecting food land, shopping locally etc. YOUTH have to make the difference..