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Archive for July 22nd, 2012

STOP THE STADIUM!

Posted by strattof on July 22, 2012

W E   W A N T  A F F O R D A B L E   H O U S I N G

The City of Regina has its priorities upside down. Regina is in the midst of a housing crisis, yet all city officials can think of is a new football stadium.

According to the Memorandum of Understanding the City has signed with the provincial government and the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the total cost of the stadium will be $675 million. Of this amount, at least $300 million will be taxpayers’ money.

Regina already has a perfectly serviceable football stadium. Why tear it down–especially after it has been refurbished to the tune of $14 million for the 2013 Grey Cup?

The new stadium is part of the Regina Revitalization Initiative. Both city and provincial officials will tell you this plan includes affordable housing. But it does not.

What the plan calls for is “up to 700 new affordable, market-rate housing units.” “Affordable, market-rate housing” is an oxymoron. As everyone knows, the market-rate for housing in Regina is anything but affordable.

REGINA’S HOUSING CRISIS: 10 KEY FACTS

1. Regina’s apartment vacancy rate is the lowest in Canada, according to the spring 2012 report of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. It is 0.6%, which essentially means there is no rental accommodation available in the city.

2. Average rent in Regina increased 5.5% from April 2011, well beyond the rate of inflation.

3. In 2010, over 3,400 people used one or more of the city’s shelter services. Many others double-bunked, couch-surfed, or lived in overcrowded unhealthy conditions. These latter groups could easily double the number of homeless people in Regina.

4. Homeless shelter use in Regina rose by 44.5% between 2006 and 2010.

5. 83% of shelter users were unable to find a home to live in after leaving the shelter in 2010.

6. The number of apartments in Regina decreased by 260 between October 2009 and 2011. Over the period, many apartment buildings were converted to condominiums. Apartment buildings also continue to be lost to demolition. 

7. The average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in Regina is $817, an increase of $47 (5.8%) a month from the previous year.

8. Individuals working a 40-hour work week at minimum wage ($9.50 per hour) spend 49.5% of their before-tax income on rent for a one bedroom apartment. “Affordable housing,” as defined by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, is 30% or less of a household’s before-tax income.

9. A cashier earning $1,811.30 per month cannot afford a one bedroom apartment in Regina. Nor can a security guard earning $2,031.43 per month or a food services supervisor earning $2,395 per month.

10. Many Regina citizens have to choose between paying the rent and buying food. 20,655 people used a food bank in Saskatchewan in 2011.

SOLVING REGINA’S HOUSING CRISIS

Ask City Council to do something about Regina’s affordable housing crisis, and the response is always “Housing is not a municipal responsibility.” This is not a helpful reply. While City Council cannot solve all of Regina’s housing problems, there are many things it can do to alleviate Regina’s housing crisis:

  • If City council can spend $300 million worth of public money on a new stadium, it can spend $300 million on affordable housing.

HOW MANY AFFORDABLE HOUSING UNITS CAN WE GET FOR ONE STADIUM?

At a cost of $150,000 per unit, $300 million will get us,

2,000 affordable housing units.

  • City Council can adopt a Housing First plan, as so many other Canadian cities have done. This approach to homelessness addresses the problem by providing people with permanent homes and the support they require to keep them. In 2011, in its second year of implementation, Edmonton’s Housing First plan secured 956 permanent homes for 1,352 people who had been homeless. In that same year, the number of Edmontonians staying in homeless shelters dropped by 23%.
  • City Council can require developers to include a certain number of affordable housing units in their plans or to pay a fee into an affordable housing account.
  • City Council can pass bylaws to protect rental housing. City Council is to be commended for having already passed one such bylaw, the condominium conversion bylaw prohibiting condo conversions when the city’s vacancy rate is below 2%.
    City Council claims it is powerless to do anything to stop apartment block demolitions. This is not true. City Council could pass a demolition bylaw prohibiting the demolition of apartment blocks until the supply and availability of rental housing returns to a healthy state. Toronto has had such a bylaw since 2007.
     

    THE HOUSING SONG (To the tune of Daisy, Daisy)

    Housing, housing,

    Give us more, please do!

    We’re half crazy

    All for the lack of you.

    The situation’s deplorable.

    We have no housing that’s affordable.

    We don’t need a stadium.

    We already have one.

    Affordable housing, we need you!

Posted in justice, peace activism | 5 Comments »

WHAT IS WRONG WITH FRACKING

Posted by strattof on July 22, 2012

Fracking – the word is short for hydraulic fracturing – is a technology used to extract natural gas from rock formations, such as shale. Millions of litres of water, chemicals, and sand are blasted underground in order to create fractures or cracks in the rock, through which gas can escape and flow up the well.   

The oil and gas industry maintains that fracking poses no danger to the environment or human health. However, a growing number of scientific studies show it creates many risks.  

As a result of these studies, both the State of Vermont and the Province of Quebec have banned fracking. Many communities across the US and Canada are demanding similar bans.

The Government of Saskatchewan, on the other hand, is encouraging fracking companies to start projects in the province. Drilling is already underway in the southeast corner of our province.

4 REASONS WHY FRACKING SHOULD BE BANNED

#1 Fracking contaminates water wells and groundwater.

Fracking requires the injection of between 55,000 and 220,000 litres of chemicals ino a well under high pressure. The fracking industry claims the cement casings they put in the wells keep the chemicals out of wells and groundwater.

However, the industry refuses to reveal the chemicals used in the process, saying it is a trade secret.  

In 2011, the US Environmental Protection Agency released its first thorough study of the effects of fracking on drinking water. Conducted in the Wyoming town of Pavilion, which is near a fracking operation, the study concluded that the presence in the water of synthetic compoiunds, such as glycol ethers, were “the result of direct mixing of hydraulic fracking fluids with ground- water.”  Residents were told to stop drinking water from their wells.

CHEMICALS USED IN THE FRACKING PROCESS include

Tetramethylammonium Chloride ●Benzene  ●Toluene ●Glycol Ethers ●Methanol ●Naphthalene

 A study by Dr Theo Colborn, with the Endocrine Disrupting Exchange, shows that

25% of the chemicals used in the fracking process can cause cancer.  

46% can do damage to the cardiovascular system and blood.

52% can harm the nervous system.

For further information, go to http://digitaljournal.com/article/297727

The fracking process can also cause naturally occurring methane to migrate to drinking water sources. This is the flaming tap water phenomenon, highlighted in the documentary film Gasland and  the CBC documentary Burning Water. Residents living near fracking operations are able to light their tap water on fire.

# 2 Fracking contaminates rivers and streams–and hence the water supply for homes and industries.

Much of the chemical-laced water injected down a well will stay underground. However, 20-40% will be regurgitated back to the surface, bringing with it the chemicals it included in the first place, along with traces of oil and other material trapped in the rock: iron, chromium, radium, and salt. The question is what to do with this volume of bad water. The oil and gas industry has not come up with a satisfactory answer. In the meantime, this noxious wastewater keeps getting into streams and rivers.

#3 Fracking causes air pollution and earthquakes.

  • Fumes rising from fracked wells and wastewater pits pollutes the air. Wyoming, for example, no longer meets federal air quality standards because of fumes seeping from the state’s 27,000 wells, vapours that contain benzene and tuluene.
  • The UK has suspended fracking after a firm admitted its project had caused a number of minor tremors. Fracking has also been suspended in Fayetteville Arkansas, where work has been accompanied by a notable increase in earthquakes. According to Ohio state officials, a 4.0 earthquake in 2011 was caused by deep injection wells where wastewater produced from fracking was kept.

#4 A reliance on fracked natural gas will hinder global efforts to cope with climate change.

When burned, natural gas produces about half as much carbon dioxide as coal. However, natural gas–CH2–in its unburned state is a very powerful greenhouse gas itself, many times stronger than CO2.

Abundant and cheap natual gas will make it that much harder to get  truly low-carbon sources of power, such as sun and wind, up and running on a large scale.

According to a 2011 International Energy agency projection, if we don’t take action on climate change, the average termperature of the earth’s surface will rise 3.5 degrees Celsius, far highter than all the experts believe is safe.

A recent Environics Resarch poll found that 62% of Canadians support “a moratorim on all fracking for natural gas until all the federal environmental reviews are complete.” In Saskatchewan the percentage of people opposing fracking was even higher: 64%.

TAKE ACTION

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