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Cultivating Community Resilience

July 2015

The Sustainable Communities Field School is here!

On June 23rd, The Greater Vancouver Foodbank Society participated in the opening of the Sustainable Communities Field School (the 'Field School") program in Vancouver.

The Field School is a partnership between SPEC and the UBC Botanical Garden. It engages businesses and community organizations with sustainability principals through team-building activities and stimulating nature experiences. Businesses and community organizations form the backbone of our communities. With entrepreneurial resources and human capital, it is local businesses and organizations that will help drive the global shift to a greener economy. Through fun and engaging programming, the Field School aims to harness their productive spirit to help make Vancouver a bright green city.

Foodbank employees climbed through towering forests during the Botanical Garden canopy walkway tour, learning about the diversity of trees in our West Coast ecosystem, the value that is derived from forests in terms of biodiversity and protection of water resources, and the different individual actions that they can take to conserve water and help protect our forests. They strolled through edible food gardens, learning about food security and the effect of climate change on our soils. And they engaged with a spectrum of ideas from waste sorting to the importance of bees in our food systems.

Most importantly, though, they had a lot of fun!

Since our opening day we’ve had fabulous teams from Whole Foods Market (Kitsilano Store), Vancouver Aquarium and Vancity participate in the program!

A big thank you goes to the Sitka Foundation and the Millard Family for financially supporting SPEC’s participation in this program.
For more information on the program contact Oliver Lane and

Transportation Vote  

While it was not unexpected, we at SPEC received the news of the failed plebiscite with a real sense of disappointment and concern for the future of transportation for our region.
SPEC solidly supported the Yes side on partially funding future transit improvement through a 0.5% sales tax increase.  We supported it not because the “plan” that was presented by the Mayors Council was perfect. It wasn’t.   But because it presented a way forward that is crucially needed in the region.
Some of our members pointed out that the plan was flawed because, for example, it focused too much on rapid transit and not enough on buses and other types of transit. Fair enough, but SPEC didn’t believe that the “plan” was locked in stone but rather presented a funding formula for future improvements.
Some of our members rejected the Yes side because they felt a sales tax was regressive. Fair enough as well but we supported it because at least it provided some funding formula after all other funding options had been rejected by various levels of government. 
Many people voted NO because they didn’t want a tax increase for a system they perceived didn’t help them, ignoring the fact that much of the money (to say nothing of substantially more tax dollars) was earmarked for roads or improvements to relieve congestion.

And of course many people voted NO as a message of distaste for Translink. A view with enough contagion that it seems not useful to argue against it. 

SPEC however supported the YES side because it, a) historically and fervently believes in and has promoted better public transportation for 45 years, and b) believes that alternatives to the automobile are urgently needed.  Convenient, cost effective, attractive alternatives.  SPEC supported the proposal because, in our view, it had the basics right.  Focus on public transportation and the alternatives to a car.
And it was at least a plan.  A way forward.  After the years of disagreements about funding and where to make improvements, a large amount of consensus had been reached by elected officials about a plan. And that is not easily come by … not by a long shot.  
The voters have spoken however, and one assumes that the provincial government will heed the outcome of the plebiscite given they insisted on it. The next steps are hard to see at this point. In this moment of our long hot summer filled with fires and talk of climate change, SPEC will continue to work for solutions and alternatives. We are concerned that the residents of the Metro area will regret this outcome in the years to come.  It feels a bit like, in the words of a recent generation, we have “cut off our nose to spite our face”. 

But it is not a time to give up by any means but to look for alternative means to fund the transit improvements that are so clearly needed.


Westside Community Food Market in full swing for a 5th year

Every Thursday until September 24, SPEC and Kitsilano Neighbourhood House co-host the Westside Community Food Market at Kits House, 2305 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver. The Market is a great opportunity to buy fresh local produce, baked goods, and and other delicious food products in your own neighbourhood. The Market takes place from 3-7 pm. Our vendor list includes: Cherry Lane Farms, Yummy Yards, Sea Tilth, Frisch Urban Farms, the Good Loaf, Cherry on a Bike, the Nut Hut, Original Mexican Gourmet, Edible Treasurz, The Lemon Square, Green Gardens Veggie Farm, Shady Acre Farm, Judith's Jelly, and J'adore les Macarons

For more information, visit our website.

UFFS Water Wise Gardening Class

The Lower Mainland is going through an extremely dry period and gardeners are looking for ways to conserve water wherever possible. But saving water can be challenging. 

Some of these things may sound familiar: When you water it is not going past the first 2 cm of soil; you are spending too much time on watering; you are going on holiday and are worried about your garden going dry? If any of these problems concern you, you may want to attend the Urban Farmer Field School workshop on Water-Wise Gardening, coming up July 28.

For more information and to register visit 

Water is a precious resource for all of us. We need everyone's effort today.

Schools Celebrate with Harvest Parties

Schools involved in SPEC’s School Garden Program celebrated in June with Harvest Parties. Here are a few photos of the celebrations.

If you would like to learn more about the School Garden Project, please visit our website and our School Gardens blog

Master Recycler Program

Have you ever wondered where is that famous "away" located? you know that place where we are used to send the broken bits of stuff, the forgotten objects, the things we no longer want or need in our homes?  

Well if you live in Vancouver,  you now have a chance to find out! 
Master Recycler Vancouver is an exciting new program launching in Fall 2015. All are welcome to come for 8 weeks of evening classes by industry leaders followed by 30 hours of community engagement to become a certified Master Recycler. A Master Recycler is someone empowered in their community to lead the way on waste reduction and prevention. Through this program, participants learn about how our personal waste connects to the linear buy-use-dispose system and get to experience waste reduction up-close.
Registration is open now, and we welcome questions and requests at:
Solar Installation celebrates Tenth Anniversary

About 60 people showed up on July 8th to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of SPEC's photovoltaic energy system, the first grid-tie system in the City of Vancouver.   Participants had the opportunity to tour system, see photos of some of the other systems that had been installed over the last 10 years and enjoy solar cooked hot-dogs.  Thanks to Bullfrog Power and Royal Printers who donated door prizes and food for the event.

The photovoltaic system is currently at the MEC store on Broadway.  It was previously located at the SPEC Energy Demonstration Centre in Kitsilano.  That building also hosted a solar hot water system that supplied heated water for close to 30 years.

Beekeeping class for beginners

Upcoming Events

July 25Agassiz Farms Cycle Tour, 9 am – 4 pm through the Fraser Valley. Meet the farmers, learn about agriculture, and pick up fresh produce. The cycle tour is approximately 25 km along flat public roadways. For information and to register, visit here.
July 28 – Urban Farmer Field School: Water-Wise Gardening, 6-8 pm at Kitsilano Neighbourhood House, 2305 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver. For information and to register, visit here.
July 28 - Richard Bullock on the Future of BC Agriculture - Free Public Lecture with former ALC Chair Richard Bullock, presented by KPU Institute for Sustainable Food Systems. To register please go to:
August 1 – Urban Farmer Field School: Beekeeping for Beginners, 9-noon at Community Garden, Guelph & 7th, Vancouver. For information and to register, visit here.
August 6 - Go Solar Tour, 7-8 pm at MEC (130 West Broadway, Vancouver). For information and to register for this free event, visit here.
August 12 – SPEC Waste Committee Meeting, 6:30-8 pm at 1055 West Broadway, 2nd Floor Boardroom, Vancouver. If you are interested in joining our waste committee, we encourage you to come attend our meetings, held on the second Wednesday of the month. For more information, visit here.

August 12SPEC Energy Committee Meeting, 6-8 pm at Kitsilano Neighbourhood House, 2305 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver. If you are interested in joining our energy committee, we encourage you to come attend our meetings, held on the second Wednesday of the month. For more information, visit here.

Volunteer for SPEC!

Our committees are always accepting volunteers. If you are interested please contact us at for more information.
Donate today - We depend on community members like you to run our projects
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