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Kaeleigh Phillips

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Toronto pushes climate change to back burner

Toronto is taking an aggressive approach to tackling climate change with a new plan to transform the city into a green metropolis — or are they?

TransformTO, the new climate change policy being proposed to city council, was supposed to be discussed on May 24, but it was deferred until the July 5.  This came as a disappointment to Toronto climate supporters, who would love to see the city embrace a plan that will actively decrease greenhouse gases in one of the Canada’s largest city.

The ambitious climate change plan would see Toronto reduce greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050. The city has already lowered greenhouse gas emissions by 24 per cent, which has exceeded the six per cent 2012 climate change goal. In order to meet this more strenuous climate change goal by 2050 though, serious action is needed. The plan will take aggressive action to lower emissions, including diverting 95 per cent of waste from landfills to recycling programs and 100 per cent of public use vehicles will use zero-carbon energy. There would be more focus on creating bike lanes, infrastructure related to low-carbon vehicles, and cycling parking.

The climate change plan also wants Toronto to focus on building green houses, condos, and apartment buildings in the future. The plan would mandate city structures to have near-zero greenhouse gases by 2030 and retrofit most other buildings by 2040. Retrofitting buildings will save 40 per cent of energy costs and the city also wants to use renewable energy that would lower the amount of heat that homes use to 20 per cent of the rate used in 2015. This goal would be achieved by collecting waste heat and converting it into power.

TransformTO is an ambitious move that will ultimately help support creating a greener and healthier city — if it gets off the ground, that is. The City of Toronto would benefit by taking the climate change plan seriously and pushing it through as a key item in the July 5 council meeting to ensure no more delays.

The B.C Green Party finally puts on their big boy pants

The British Columbia provincial election results have shocked Canadians across the country. The B.C. Green Party has never-before-seen political leverage after the closest election results on record.

The final seat count as of May 24 revealed the Liberal party has 43 seats, the NDP has 41 and the Green Party has three seats in the legislature. The Liberals won by a mere 1566 ballots after very narrow results forced a vote recount, leading many people to question whether the election should be recast entirely. The election results have also put the Green Party in a strong position. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver has been approached by both the Liberal and NDP parties to strike a possible coalition and is currently in discussions to decide which party to support, or to not support either party at all.

According to Weaver, the final decision on a potential coalition government will be announced by Wednesday May 31. For the first time in Green Party history in Canada, the classic underdog that champions the environmental movement is in a politically powerful position. The Green Party has the opportunity to have certain demands met by either the Liberals or the NDP government to help form a coalition government in B.C.

On Tuesday, a coalition of activists joined together to assemble in front of the B.C. Legislature buildings to try and convince the NDP and the Green Party who have always been at odds with each other to join together and end 16 years of Liberal rule in the province. Dethroning Premier Christy Clark would be in the best interests of the province from an environmental standpoint. Clark has repeatedly approved devastating environmental projects, including the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline and supporting the Site C megadam project.

Clark did not speak when the final election results were announced on Wednesday, but issued a statement saying, “”with 43 B.C. Liberal candidates elected as MLAs, and a plurality in the legislature, we have a responsibility to move forward and form a government.” The Green Party will play a big part in what type of government is formed in coming weeks.

This is a key moment in Canadian politics for the Green Party in B.C. An opportunity to actually make a difference and have political weight in legislature. It is also a crowning moment for Green supporters everywhere who have toiled for years being the underdog and finally have a chance at affecting meaningful change in Canada’s most environmentally progressive province.  Canadians everywhere wait on the edge of their seats to see what move Weaver makes, and whether the NDP and Green Party can finally put their differences aside and dethrone Clark once and for all.

What do you think will happen? Let us know in the comments below!

Women of the Week: Patti-Anne Tarlton

Patti-Anne Tarlton is one of the women magnates of the music industry in Toronto. Her success can be attributed to her charismatic business attitude and exceptional managerial skills with her staff. She has a friendly, down-to-earth demeanour, and values collaboration and connecting people invested in music across the country.

As COO, Canada for Ticketmaster North America, Tarlton oversees the business-end operations of the Canadian ticketing market. She is in charge of the features and products that Ticketmaster sells, including the technology that is used to sell and market tickets. These products are sold on international markets across North America. Tarlton is also in charge of overseeing the business relationship with Ticketmaster’s clients, managing business deals with clients (teams, festivals, clubs) and holds relationships with B2B to sell product on their behalf.

Before joining Ticketmaster, Tarlton worked as the Vice President of Live Entertainment at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. “I spent 13 years at Maple Leaf. There are a whole host of precious moments, including New Years Eve with the Tragically Hip and when Googoosh performed for the first time in 21 years outside of her home country Iran,” Tarlton says. “It is always fun to see Canadian attractions sell out the arena. It is also great to see how the Toronto marketplace is so multicultural.”

Tarlton’s interest in music began at a very young age when her Uncle, Donald Tarlton, who was one of the most famous record label owners in Canadian music history, came to visit her hometown in Vancouver and his nieces would accompany him to various music events. Donald Tarlton owned Aquarius Records, which represented April Wine, Sum 41, and Corey Hart. “It was likely a slow burn to my love for music,” Tarlton says. “Donald was always a part of our lives and very close to my father. He always had a great record label and grew that over the years. It was always about the next thing and a bunch of vinyl would come my way.” Tarlton got her start in operations as a concert promotor in the music industry. Over the next 14 years, she was a concert promotor for Perryscope Concerts, DKD Concerts, and House of Blues Concerts.

When Tarlton reached adulthood, she decided to move to Montreal and pursue her dream of working in music with her uncle. She recollects the first concert she attended in Montreal was to see Paul Simon and she was impressed by the crowd. “Having grown up in Vancouver, the audience settings were quite different,” Tarlton says. “Montreal audiences stand on their feet and it had this super international flavour to it.” Even as a young adult, Tarlton was interested in how live audiences were affected by the music and how to engage people to enjoy shows they attended.  Her passion with live shows eventually led her to being the VP of Live Entertainment for the Air Canada Centre, the fifth largest venue in the world.

Tarlton believes music creates better communities and a stronger cultural environment. She is an appointed member of the Toronto Music Advisory Council, which is a group of individuals in the industry that meet to exchange ideas and advice on how to create opportunities and respond to challenges in the city’s music industry. She is also a board member on Music Canada Live, which promotes live music. “I feel as I live here in Toronto I, I can advocate for the rest of the country. It was natural for me to try and rally the arenas in sports and entertainment,” Tarlton says. “The benefit of being in Toronto is you have the population and local economy and it is in part our responsibility to advocate for every neck of the woods in Canada. Canadians tend to network and collaborate, be it a local level or countrywide. It is our natural tendency as a nation. Even in a multinational setting, Canadians tend to lean in to find solutions rather than elbows out.”

Tarlton has received the Women of Influence Award from Venues Today, won Coach of the Year from Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, and was nominated for Facility Executive of the Year twice for Pollstar.

Tarlton wants to inspire women to reach for high-ranking roles in the music industry. “While I have enjoyed a career and not been set back by my gender, I have two girls and I envision a world where they don’t have to think about gender. I do know that we have a network of really talented women across the country though there are not enough women on civic or government advisory boards,” Tarlton says. “I do feel like I have a responsibility to push women along as well as well as motivate and inspire. If I take lessons from my own life, it is about putting yourself out there. I do not think twice about delivering myself in a conversation and pushing something forward without the one to one.”

When Tarlton isn’t working, she enjoys going to the cottage and waterskiing. She also finds cooking very relaxing after work. She was an avid sewer when she was younger and made over 150 costumes that her two daughters enjoyed playing with as they grew up. Tarlton’s sense of humour and positivity is infectious and listening to her stories is wildly entertaining and deeply inspirational. It is moving to see a strong and high-ranking role in the music industry.  Just don’t forget Tarlton’s advice for Canadian women; network, get yourself out there, and do it on your own terms.

How to make homemade Kombucha

Kombucha is a delicious fizzy drink that naturally ferments tea and has several satisfying health benefits. It is known to lower the risk of cancer and help with joint pain, and is a great alternative to drinking pop. It can also be made at home through a slightly strange, but fascinating fermenting process.

Ingredients:

  • One Kombucha SCOBY
  • Tea
  • Sugar
  • Starter tea from prior batch of Kombucha
  • Filtered water

Instructions:

  1. Prepare 8-10 bags of tea in 10 gallons of water with one cup of sugar per gallon.
  2. Let the tea cool down and make sure it is room temperature before adding the scoby.
  3. Once the tea is cooled down, add the scoby with the starter liquid.
  4. Cover the jar with paper towel and an elastic band and place in a dark spot that is at room temperature.
  5. The tea will ferment in 7-10 days. Add frozen strawberries or flavoured juice if desired.

The Kombucha will be plentiful and it is fun to watch it ferment while it brews. For those with a bit of a weak stomach, it may look really strange while the tea ferments. In fact, it can look downright gross. But, I promise that if you give it a try, you’ll fall in love with homemade Kombucha!

Going green in Toronto with these community apps

Toronto is growing to be an environmental city with greener buildings, more emphasis on city cycling, and vegan restaurants popping up everywhere.

Alongside the new green trends sweeping across the urban landscape, apps that focus on sustainability and green initiatives are gaining in popularity as well. From biking apps to basic trading, there are many different ways to engage with your digital environmentalist side. Women’s Post has compiled a short list of interesting and revolutionary apps below:

BIKO

BIKO is a new cycling rewards app that recently launched in Toronto after having success in Bogota Columbia, Mexico City, Vancouver. For every kilometre cycled, the app will give one ‘biko’ point. Potential prizes you can receive with these ‘biko’ points include free coffees, beer, helmets, cycling parts, and discounts at partnering restaurants. The rewards are relatively easy to obtain, especially if you are a commuter cyclist, as exemplified by a free Jimmy’s coffee that costs 10 Biko points. The app also offers cycling maps across the city and you can record your cycling routes to share with other friends who use the app.

My City Bikes Toronto

This cycling app is useful for beginner cyclists and offers several links to cycling maps in Toronto, biking rules, and bike stores where equipment is offered. It also offers cycling paths specific for families, road and commuter paths, and safe paths for women to travel on at night.

Bunz

Bunz is a community sharing app where you can trade an item in exchange for another. The app is extensive and offers trades for items, a chat link to let people know about events in the city, job offers, and helping people with volunteer opportunities. It is a great way to connect into Toronto’s urban community and to find anything you need without an expensive price tag attached.

Live Green Toronto App

Live Green Toronto is an app that uses an interactive map to help people living in the city find green businesses easily, while updating to find the best ‘green deals’ available. Live Green also pledges to plant a tree every time 20 deals are claimed, which is a positive initiative towards living green in the city. It also provides green business owners with a way to reach more customers through the app.

Ontario Nature Forest Foraging Guide

The Ontario Nature Forest Foraging Guide is a fantastic fit for nature lovers who want to teach themselves and their families about the various types of plants and trees in Ontario. It provides information on how various plants and trees grow in each season, and whether they are edible or not. A few of the plants including burdoch, willow, yarrow, and birch. It offers pictures of the plant and where to spot it as well. Definitely a cool app for people who love looking for plants and trees in the forest.

There are many sustainable apps and these are a few options that are specifically being used in the Toronto area. Whether it be cycling, re-using items, or hiking in the forest, trying to engage in as many environmental activities when living in a large city is essential to keeping the world clean!

Which are your favourite green apps in Toronto? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

Remembering our true past when celebrating Canada’s 150 years

Canada is gearing up to celebrate 150 years this summer with several events planned across the country. Fireworks, parades, a ‘ready, set, fire’ event where participants will have the opportunity to shoot a vintage gun in Nova Scotia, and a festival on the confederation bridge in P.E.I. are few of many events planned to celebrate Canada as a unified country. It leaves me to wonder though, what are we really celebrating?

Canada — at that time made up of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia — became a confederation on July 1, 1867. The remaining provinces joined over time, with Nunavut as the last territory in 1999. Regardless of the specific timeline of when Canada became a completely unified country, its history has not always been perfect. The destruction of aboriginal cultures since confederation is a very dark part of Canada’s past, but nonetheless must be recognized during this celebration.

Canada is as much a country of amazing feats, as a product of colonization. Residential schools, the destruction of languages, culture, and land, and the continuing ignorance of the plight of many native peoples in our country are few of the many hurts aboriginals have suffered.

On Canada’s 150th birthday, take a moment to pause and meditate on the complex challenges that aboriginals have experienced as Canadian citizens and as a culture. Lead singer of Tragically Hip, Gord Downie, is certainly leading this push to recognize Canadian aboriginal culture, recently putting on a Secret Path performance that focuses on indigenous issues in Canada. He also announced a project for restaurants and public spaces to dedicate legacy rooms to aboriginal issues across the country as a way to celebrate 150 years.

Want to learn more? The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation opened in 2015, and demonstrates the history of aboriginal affairs in Canada. There are millions of records of violence towards Canada’s indigenous peoples and is a worthy place to visit in honour of Canada’s 150th year celebration.

At the same time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making efforts to recognize native issues to celebrate 150 years. Funding of $1.8 million was announced for the Reconciliation in Action: A National Engagement Strategy and focuses on reconciliation efforts. Indspire is a speaking tour that represents exceptional indigenous youth and the government gave 200,000 dollars to the initiative. Support of these projects is included in the overall budget for the 150 years celebration, but there is much left for the Federal government to remediate relations with Canadian aboriginals.

Canada has been a confederation for 150 years, but has been home to aboriginals for much longer. It is important to take a moment to pay our respects to the true forefathers and foremothers of our country, and remember the true history of Canada, including the past we are ashamed of.

Recipe: Vegan Taco Pizza

What are the two best comfort foods in the world? Pizza and tacos. If you put them together, it creates the ultimate treat that will leave you wanting more. Homemade pizza is easy to make and absolutely delicious. It is also surprisingly healthy if made with vegetables.  Over the long weekend, give this pizza a try!

Ingredients:

Homemade Pizza Crust:

  • A packet of active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Toppings:

  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of Pizza Sauce
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Handful of chopped onion
  • Vegan ground round with taco spices (if desired)
  • Daiya cheese or another vegan cheese alternative (if desired)

Directions:

  1. Make homemade vegan pizza crust by mixing all ingredients and turn dough out onto a flat surface that has been sprinkled with flour.
  2. Roll the dough into a circular shape and roll up edges to create a crust.
  3. Put the toppings on the pizza, beginning by spreading the tomato paste on the crust first.
  4. Put all other toppings on the pizza and the vegan cheese as the final ingredient. Feel free to mix in some ingredients not mentioned in this recipe!
  5. Bake at 450 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes.

Enjoy this delicious combination on a pizza and pass it on to all of your vegan friends! Homemade pizza is a great comfort food and you can put as little or as much of the toppings on, depending upon preference. It is the perfect meal for the long weekend, and goes well with a glass of red wine and a relaxing patio chair.

Woman of the Week: Susan Swail

With rising housing costs and developers vying for land to build on, ensuring the safety of Ontario’s Greenbelt is no easy feat. Principal of Lloyd Swail Consulting, Susan Swail, is one of the women leading the fight to keep this preservation of farmland protected for years to come.

Swail launched her own consulting firm in 2008, which has enabled her to work on several environmental policy projects at once. “I’ve been doing policy analysis, facilitation and strategic communications in the planning field for the last 10 years. I created this consulting firm so I could work on project based contracts. I can work on a number of projects on the same time,” Swail says. She is currently on contract with Environmental Defence and the Greenbelt Foundation.

Swail works for Environmental Defence as the Smart Growth Program Consultant of the Greenbelt and is also working on a review that focuses on the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) review. During the OMB review, over 5000 letters were submitted to the province to obtain funding for citizens and citizen groups, and upholding provincial and municipal plans. Swail conducted a literature review and interviewed many stakeholders, including planners, ratepayers and lawyers to develop a policy position for Environmental Defence.

Swail and the non-profit await the new OMB legislation to see if the recent changes are a success. “[Environmental Defence] didn’t get everything we asked for. We’re still waiting to see what happens. We wanted opportunities to have legal support and advice for ratepayer groups who are launching appeals and we don’t know if the legal advice is intended to be free,” Swail says. “The province is also looking at a joint board hearing that would refer environmental planning matters to the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) rather than being heard by just a OMB chair. The provincial announcement suggests they are considering joint ERT, and OMB board hearings. It is important have an environmental lens when making land policy decisions that effect groundwater, and natural heritage features like forests and wetlands.” Originally, Environmental Defence asked the OMB to refer environmental matters directly to ERT, but instead the legislation suggests having a joint board with the OMB and the ERT.

Swail was also a city councillor for the King Township for three years from 2000 to 2003, which helped foster her passion for policy and giving citizens a voice. “It was an exciting time to be on council because Oak Ridges Conservation Plan was being created at that time,” Swail says. When asked about the most important lessons she took from being a councillor, she explained that giving citizens a voice is so vital and being able to negotiate solutions between stakeholders and citizens is what really counts.

“When I was councillor, there was a situation with a developer who wanted to build on 107 acres in the headwaters of the Humber River.  The citizens were adamantly against it. We negotiated between the ratepayers, the Region of York, the Conservation Authority, Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust and the City of Toronto,” Swail says. “In the end, the developer agreed to make a gift of the land and recieved a donation receipt. Today the tableland is part of the York Region Forest.”

After Swail lost the next election, she moved to the Oak Ridges Land Trust,and eventually became the Program and Outreach Manager of the Greenbelt Foundation. Swail returned to York University in 2008 to do a master’s degree in land use planning and launched her own consulting company from there. At York, she was awarded the MITACS Research Award for the research project, Building Sustainable Communities in South Simcoe.

Swail believes the most prevelant environmental issue today is climate change for land use conservation projects. She has dedicated many years to sustainable planning, helping the environment and trying to mitigate the impacts of climate change through supporting and implementing conservation land use projects over the years. She has served as the executive of many charitable organizations for the last 20 years.

Her passion for the environment began in 1990 when she and her husband moved to Nobleton in 1990 from High Park because house prices in Toronto were too high. “I got involved in my new community right away in the Parks Committee and then co-founded a local ratepayer group,” Swail says. “They were going to put in a larger sewer system in around Nobleton, which would traveled over 17 km of farmland to serve 3000 people, not economically or environmentally sustainable.   Instead, we got a local sewer system put into our town and Nobleton is still a complete community today.”

Swail is also an advocate for women who are passionate about the environment. “I mentor women whenever I can. When I was working at Environmental Defence, I had a call at least once a month from women who wanted to get involved in the environment,” Swail says. “I took at least a dozen of people out for coffee and helped them out to understand what it takes to get involved in the environment, emphasizing the importance of volunteering and networking.” Swail also noted that being a considerate woman in the business world can go a long way to helping other women in the industry.

When Swail isn’t at the frontlines protecting the Greenbelt, she is an avid reader. Currently, she is reading Walking Home by Kent Greenberg and Dark Age Ahead By Jane Jacobs. She also enjoys visiting with her six-month-old granddaughter, hiking with her husband and three sons on the Oak Ridges Moraine, cooking and gardening.

 

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Where are the women in Canadian green tech?

The environmental sector is often thought of as progressive and forward-thinking, but when it comes to gender diversity in low-carbon economies, is it truly equal?

At the Ontario Climate Symposium hosted on Friday May 12, York University environmental studies professor Christina Hoicka facilitated a panel that discussed gender diversity and how women experts are leading the way on energy research. Part of Hoicka’s research focuses on discovering which women academics are influencing the field of energy research, and whether or not enough is being done to encourage women to be a part of the renewable energy (RE) industry.

Women make up less than 20 per cent of the renewable energy sector workforce. Jobs are opening up in this sector thanks to the the growing popularity in green technologies, which means it’s the perfect opportunity to close the gender gap in STEM fields.

Canada Research Chair in global women’s issues at Western University, Dr. Bipasha Baruah, was one of the panelists and explained that because there are so few women leaders in clean technology, she feels she actually gets more attention in her role. “Sometimes I feel hyper-visible. Part of that is that you can check so many boxes with me. Even if you are acknowledged, you can still be tokenized,” Baruah says.

Women are clearly under-represented in the green sector in Canada, representing only 20 per cent of jobs, but 50 per cent of university graduates. Most women within the industry are found in sales, administrative roles, and technology positions. For women that are in STEM jobs, the wage gap is smaller, with women earning 14 per cent less than men compared to 21 per cent in other fields. But, they are still massively underrepresented. According to Baruah, women are often discouraged from entering engineering and technology fields because of the misperceptions of the ‘dirty work’ involved and that they typically feel inadequate in the technological aspects of certain occupations.

Baruah’s research did emphasize that Canadian women are increasingly becoming leading entrepreneurs. She interviewed Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE) CEO Rebecca Black, who pointed out that of the membership base of 1000 women in the province of Ontario, at least 20 per cent were entrepreneurs in RE. Women are often more community-based leaders and renewables thrive off a grassroots cooperative business model.

Julie MacArthur, Professor at University of Auckland, reinforced this idea through her study of the evolving socio-technical community-based approach in the renewables sector. In the wake of moving away from large fossil fuel corporations, several renewable community-based organizations have popped up that focus on alternative energy sources. Many of these grassroots organizations are spearheaded by women, who are essential to this movement of cooperation and community-based growth. MacArthur explains that ‘energy democracy’ is growing and there is a changing socio-political focus that is happening right now, as the environment grows as a central concern in the Canadian economy. Obviously, women have a key role to play in this change.

Including women in the move from a brown to green economy will only make RE more diverse and versatile. Being able to provide even more data about women in clean technology helps society to understand where we stand in regards to gender diversity and how we can better accommodate women looking to enter these fields. It is important to provide a discursive research space and more panels to educate women invested in an environmental career, and Women’s Post hopes to learn more as amazing women researchers grow and learn in green technology.

Reality check: millennials are poor and house prices are rising

As a millennial, I enjoy avocado toast and expensive coffees daily and travel to Europe on my weekends instead of buying my luxury home.

NOT.

In reality, I am living in a world where two-ply toilet paper is a treat, scrounging for change for transit causes cold sweats, and an avocado is a treat I get once a year in my Christmas stocking. In other words, millennials are poor and house prices are rising. Seeing a unicorn walk down the street is more likely than being able to afford a decent home in the current real estate market.

Recently, Australian real estate millionaire Tim Gurner revealed on Australia’s 60 minutes that he believes the younger generation is wasting their cash on frivolous snacks instead of investing in future homes. This has caused international outrage, with several young people pointing out the obvious — no amount of avocado toast is going to make up for the fact that millennials are being priced out of almost everything that previous generations enjoyed.

It is common fact that employment is not plentiful, with baby boomers hanging on to their jobs, and technology wiping out the rest. University and college have become essential in this job market and this leaves millennials with overwhelming student debt on top of everything else. Wages have stagnated as a result, creating a society where working for minimum wage with a degree is the norm. Healthcare coverage, salary jobs, and benefits are the childhood dreams of Narnia, and working long hard hours is standard.

Interestingly, Gurner, who incited the wave of indignant avocado toast hatred worldwide, happens to be 34. He falls within the age range of a millennial, and yet feels justified as a classic ‘one percenter’ to provide the obvious reasons why the rest of the world can’t be like him. If anything, Gurner should have to mail a piece of 19 dollar avocado toast to every millennial he has disrespected.

While I wait for my apology, I think I might go to the coffee shop and buy my daily avocado toast. Women’s Post looks forward to seeing you in Europe on the weekend fellow millennials. Don’t forget your two-ply!