Climate Change
October 8, 2020

Dutch Road Innovation~Bye Bye Bitumen, Hello Lignin!

 

Do you know what the biggest use of bitumen is? Bitumen is “low-grade crude oil which is composed of complex, heavy hydrocarbons.” It is composed of sand,water and viscous oil, and needs a lot of energy to make it into any kind of useable product. It is what the oil sands  around Fort McMurray are full of.

Once refined, 85 percent of all bitumen product is used as a “binder” in asphalt applied on roadways, airports, and parking lots. Add in gravel and crushed rock to bitumen, heat it up, and you are good for road building.

The City of Vancouver has experimented with “eco” asphalt in the past, being one of the first in Canada to use a plastic based wax to create a “lower-heat” asphalt mix in 2012.

But as Maurits Kuypers in Innovations Origins.com describes the Dutch  have gone one step further in their adaptation of “bio” asphalt~asphalt that uses plant-based lignin to replace bitumen. This of course also fits in with using less oil based products.

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We’re looking for a group of young people from around the world to join C40 and our global mayors in the fight against the climate crisis.

If you are: 

– Aged 14-25
– Located in a city
– Actively involved in the youth climate movement
– Supportive of inclusive and science-based climate action to limit global warming to 1.5°C
– Committed to the principles of a Global Green New Deal

Around the world, young people are demanding action on the climate crisis to secure a just, sustainable future. As the youngest generation, their lives are most at stake. Young people have put the climate emergency on the global political agenda, demanding that global leaders respond and take action in an equitable and just way. Mayors from the world’s leading cities have heard this call and agree: we must push forward with courage and ambition to change the status quo that has generated this crisis.

Now, C40 mayors are inviting young leaders from the climate movement to be a part of shaping how the vision of a Global Green New Deal can be made a reality in cities across the world.

The Global Youth and Mayors forum will bring together around 15 young people and around 10 mayors from every continent to discuss:

• How we can implement a Global Green New Deal;
• How cities can better engage and work with youth leaders on climate to push forward ambition;
• and how youth movements and mayors can work together to push forward science-based climate action and overcome opposition.

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I have written about the City of London England being one of the first cities to embrace the concept of slower streets during the pandemic through the adoption of “red routes”. These major roads lead to the inner city and in partnership with Transport for London (TFL) the City of London developed a unified strategy to opening streets across boroughs for walking and cycling through wider sidewalks, thinner driving lanes, and road closures.

They also initiated traffic light signal changes to allow pedestrians and cyclists longer greens when crossing, knowing that walking and cycling would prevail as a way to get around during the pandemic.

Greg Ritchie writes for Bloomberg.com that many of those initiatives embraced for physical distancing will continue in the future even when the pandemic is over. In the words of Simon Fraser University’s Duke of Data Andy Yan, the pandemic has accelerated many changes that would be happening over a much longer time period.

London’s central core the “square mile” has narrow streets that make the two metre separation for physical distancing challenging.

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The Duke of Data Andy Yan seems to be everywhere these days, bringing practical information,municipal data, and a prudent approach on how best to navigate through the Covid crisis. He brings a clear, cogent, well researched and thought out voice to the pandemic conversation, and has really raised the profile of Simon Fraser University’s City Program as an active, engaged place with a researcher who always has time for students and discussion.

Mr. Yan  in concert with the Canadian Urban Institute has worked on a data base to assist with the recovery of retail and commercial districts in Canada. That database access is absolutely free.

With a long and still expanding list of main street partners Mr. Yan is part of a nationally-coordinated research and advocacy campaign ensuring best solutions for Covid-19 recovery. The strategy includes main street business leaders as well as leaders from academia, developers, industry and professional organizations and advocacy groups.

With an aim to enrich the “value of our main streets~their connection to the health of the economy, social life, and vitality of our neighbourhoods and cities” the work strategizes actions that “can guarantee their survival”.

As Nic Rockell in BC Business writes the Main Street Primer helps to navigate a “sea of data” to enable commercial areas to bounce back from the pandemic with resiliency.  This national project was undertaken with the Canadian Urban Institute through their “Bring Back Main Street” initiative.

By carefully examining seven commercial areas in British Columbia and Ontario, the data compares business closures, foot traffic before and after the pandemic, and other factors that changed how the street was being used.

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It has been Duke of Data Andy Yan who has been reminding us forever that there is a radical disconnect between household income and the price of housing. People working in Metro Vancouver can’t afford to buy housing here.

In 2017 Mr. Yan summed it up this way:

It’s surprising to me that we have only  the 15th highest incomes in Metro Vancouver, even coming behind Toronto. What we learned today is in Vancouver you are living in paradise, but your wages are in purgatory.” 

The median household income Mr. Yan was referring to is $72,662. At that time he saw the major issue was how to reconnect local incomes to local housing, noting that needed policy enactment would be  different in each city.

Photographer and former editor of Price Tags  Ken Ohrn sends along this article by Natalie Obiko Pearson who writes that Amazon. com is expecting to triple its workforce in Vancouver. Why? Because software engineers here are “cheap, smart and plentiful”, like an overabundant agricultural crop.

A conversation with an Amazon vice president revealed that  a “weak loonie, lower wages and a steady flow of graduates make Canada an attractive place to expand for tech companies whose largest expense is labour”. 

 The salaries in Vancouver are substantially less than for similar jobs south of the border, as are office rents.

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The Canadian Urban Institute presents a free webinar on 
COVID Signpost 200 Days: How Should Our Cities Prepare for Winter?
Joining our guest host Catherine Craig-St-Louis of CUI and Rues Principales for our second series of COVID Signpost, 200 Days.

Presenters: Olivier Legault, Project Managerat Rues principales and Co-founder, Winterlab

Isla Tanaka, Wintercity Planner at the City of Edmonton;

Sheena Jardine-Olade, CoFounder of Night Lab;

 Rami Bebawi, CoFounder and Partner at KANVA.

Date: Thursday September 30, 2020

Time: 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time

You can register by clicking this link.

Images: DreamTime,CdnUrbanInstitute

 

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Metro Vancouver is unique in that the region uses water from the mountains contained in Seymour, Capilano and Coquitlam reservoirs. Think of that~we do not take advantage of rain water, ground water, or fresh water from rivers for any water sources.

While we are lucky in that our water supply is vast and with prudent conservation should last through a dry hot summer, according to Elizabeth Elkin at Bloomberg,  “Almost two-thirds of the world’s population is expected to face water shortages by 2025. “

According to the CME Financial Derivatives exchange Wall Street is going to commence trading in futures contracts estimating California’s water supply. The purpose of commodifying water is to allow “big water consumers” such as almond growers and municipalities to hedge against price increases.

But this also suggests water, will become scarcer with climate change and  more torrid temperatures.

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Which country do you think has the most elevators? Did you know that it is Spain, with 19.8 elevators per 1,000 population?  But with 65% of Spanish citizens living in apartment buildings it makes sense that there are so many elevators. Compare that with the United States that have 2.8 elevators per thousand population, or China with 2.2 per thousand.

As reported in the New York Times by Keith Bradsher China now wants to change all of that, and hopes to retrofit as many as three million older walkup buildings with elevators, projecting the cost at roughly $100,000 USD per installation.

Why?  As China’s older population is aging, they have also acquired wealth, and are now demanding being better served by their government.

During the Mao regime in the 1960’s families were urged to have many children who are now coming to be 60 years of age. A subsequent “one child” policy in the 1970’s  means that these seniors do not have children and grandchildren ot assist them as they age.

The city of Guangzhou has taken advantage of a federal government grant of $93,000 per elevator installation and has already retrofitted 6,000 older buildings. That city required two-thirds of strata  owners to agree to the project before installation.

This “elevator policy” is seen as a national employment incubator to provide jobs for millions of unemployed migrant workers. But there is a wrinkle~elevators come from a very small group of global manufacturers and are dominated by names familiar to North Americans. Otis Elevator, Schindler, and Kone are prominent. So while those firms will get the contract to install elevators, the job of the building retrofit for the elevator will be done by a small group of specialized Chinese contractors.

Back to British Columbia which also has a lot of three storey walk up apartments in towns and cities that do not have elevators. What happens when a resident has a mobility issue and requires an elevator or a stair assist?

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This is the way we like to think of Chinatown~a place to buy fresh groceries with wide sidewalks for stopping and looking in windows, and a place to go to bakeries or to restaurants for some of the best food in the city. But look a little closer.  Here on Pender Street the sidewalk is littered with cigarettes, newspapers and discarded clothing.

Even the Chinatown historic photo mural is defaced. Walk a little further and the area seems like a movie set of street maintenance abandonment.

 

 

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Housing Outreach Partnership, Inc. is proud to announce that the third annual California Landlords’ Summit on Homelessness will be held on Wednesday September 30, 2020. Due to COVID-19 it will be held via Zoom.

This event brings landlords and property owners into conversation with homelessness service providers to learn how they can help end homelessness in California. Last year’s Summit resulted in 94 people receiving housing and saved public agencies over $2.6 million. This year’s Summit will explore the connection between homelessness and the housing crisis.

Our featured speaker will be Charles L. Marohn, Jr., PE AICP. Charles Marohn is the Founder and President of Strong Towns and the author of Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity. He is a Professional Engineer (PE) and land use planner with two decades of experience. He is featured in the documentary film Owned: A Tale of Two Americans, and was named one of the 10 Most Influential Urbanists of all time by Planetizen. He will discuss how cities can break out of the housing trap to create more naturally affordable housing.

Additionally, local experts will demonstrate how landlords can make sound business decisions by renting to individuals currently experiencing homelessness. We will cover topics such as housing vouchers, rent guarantees, tenant support and more. Other speakers will discuss California’s recent housing legislation.

CLSH 2020 is made possible by sponsorship from the Kern County Superintendent of Schools and assistance from the Income Property Association of Kern, California Apartment Association, Housing Authority of the County of Kern, and Hermit Communications.

Date: Wednesday September 30, 2020

Time: 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon Pacific Time.

To register please click here.

Images: Homelessperspective, CLSH

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