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Archive for July, 2008

In light of Fredericton’s loudly publicised goal to be the first city in Canada to reach the Kyoto protocol, and its self-proclaimed title as a “Green City”, it seems ironic that Fredericton is participating in the destruction of the UNB Woodlot, that it continues to support development of sprawl, and that Lee Breen was jailed for riding his skateboard on city streets, to name just a few. Why has there been so little coming out of Fredericton’s City Council that really gets to the teeth of curbing climate change? Read more…

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July 25th, 2008. A Fredericton company charged with violating the Clean Water Act in March has been ordered to rehabilitate land it has filled in on Bishop Drive.

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July 24, 2008 at CBC News: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/new-brunswick/story/2008/07/24/nb-bog.html

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Join us every Sunday afternoon at 2pm to enjoy UNB’s Woodlot. Interested people can meet up at the parking area across from the Hugh John Fleming Forestry Complex. Just turn into the Forestry Complex street at the intersection of the Regent Mall, and you will see the gravel parking area to your right. This is one entrance into the UNB Woodlot.
This is a great way to discover this huge wildlife refuge. Bikers, hikers, and walkers are all welcome.
Visit the Facebook group site.


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July 18, 2008
Recently, Mayor Brad Woodside stated that he will not pressure the University of New Brunswick to conduct a comprehensive environmental assessment of its woodlot – 1,500 acres of which is slated for development over the coming years.
This was surprising to me in light of the city’s newly launched “Green Matters” campaign.

For a city aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent by 2010, where is the logic in ripping out over 1,500 acres of forests which absorb incredible amounts of carbon dioxide?

Recently, there have been warnings from environmental experts, insurance bureaus and urban planners from across Canada that city planners must make whatever efforts they can to try to minimise the effects of climate change.

If our best natural defense against greenhouse gases, flooding and water shortages is mowed down and paved over, the “Green Matters” campaign becomes nothing but a publicity stunt – or a cruel joke.

That the city has been recently criticized nationally for its environmental hypocrisy should make it more, not less, willing to make the UNB woodlot its business. If city council’s present development mindset is continued, Fredericton’s motto (Fredericton – noble daughter of the forest) will become a thing of the past.

Frances Campbell

Fredericton

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July 17th, 2008
As a UNB alumnus, I’m embarrassed.
In a time of environmental crisis and despite being a public institute in a province whose public believes environmental concerns trump economic ones, UNB’s board of governors has approved a plan to parcel off 50 per cent (over 1,500 acres) of the UNB woodlot.
This is so that an ecosystem which includes numerous wetlands and is home to threatened species, such as the blue heron, can be developed over the coming years.
For an institute of higher learning, one would think this would be shameful enough; however, upon further inspection of these plans, something even more insidious is revealed.
By disclosing development plans in a piecemeal fashion (so far for about 270 acres), UNB can take advantage of a government loophole and evade a comprehensive environmental impact assessment.
Such an assessment would be risky as it would likely reveal what any biologist can attest – an ecosystem’s individual elements are interdependent and cannot be understood or evaluated separately. If you destroy part of such a system, you run the risk of compromising it all.
So subjected to only limited environmental impact assessments, UNB, like a landlord who slaps a coat of paint over rotting wood, can effectively – at least in the short term – conceal any evidence there may be of a collapsing ecosystem.
Ironically, an institute which assesses thousands of people every year seemingly believes itself above assessment. It’s time for UNB’s administrators to conduct themselves in a manner that truly reflects UNB’s mission statement, code of conduct and slogan.
By hawking off the woodlot for non-sustainable, 1970s style development, without any regard for the health of an entire ecosystem, they are active participants in exactly what researchers in their own institute, and indeed universities across the world, are working so hard to put an end to.
Carla Gunn
Fredericton

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Conservation Council getting ready to march in Canada Day Parade

Conservation Council getting ready to march in Canada Day Parade

Conservation Council marching in Canada Day Parade

Conservation Council marching in Canada Day Parade

Caroline and Clover in Canada Day Parade

Caroline and Clover in Canada Day Parade

Beaver entry in Canada Day Parade

Beaver entry in Canada Day Parade

Conservation Council marching in Canada Day Parade

Conservation Council marching in Canada Day Parade

Cities and towns that say no to uranium! Why not Fredericton?

Cities and towns that say no to uranium! Why not Fredericton?

Photos by Charles LeBlanc.

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Who speaks for the beavers?
Published Thursday July 3rd, 2008
Chris McCormick
CRIME MATTERS
The Daily Gleaner
After development began, nesting trees were felled throughout the fall and spring during wildfowl migration. Contractors were hired to clear the land and large numbers of white tailed deer were driven onto nearby roadways and killed.
“Hundreds of burrowing mammals including beavers were buried alive, and one bulldozer operator said he had to continually stop and empty his bucket because rabbit and squirrels were leaping into it as he ploughed through their burrows.”
This paraphrase is from a public consultation document describing what happened during a particular development in British Columbia.
It also shows what happens to animals during development, an issue much discussed lately in the local media.
When it comes to controversial issues, people line up and state their positions. In the debate, some voices usually dominate while others are silenced.
For example, in a debate over gun control in the United States, news media, newspaper articles, editorials and letters to the editor came to be dominated by a “cosmopolitan worldview.”
This worldview or way of looking at and talking about the world emphasized risk avoidance as well as the government’s responsibility to reduce risk.
The end result was the marginalization of gun owners.
How contentious issues are framed in the news media will privilege some points of view while silencing others, as is the case with environmental conflicts.
More importantly, it can hamper efforts to find common ground on those issues.
However, seeing that the conflict is about worldviews gives us a way to approach the discussion of resource management.
In another example, researchers looked at how protests against the World Trade Organization held in Seattle in 1999 were represented.
Stories in the news drew largely from official sources and public opinion, sponsoring viewpoints critical of the protestors, as in, “a furious rag-bag of anti-globalization protestors converged on downtown Seattle.”
This characterization worked to marginalize and demonize anti-WTO protestors, while adding credibility to those people and organizations supportive of the WTO.
In my favourite example, during the fishing conflict at Burnt Church natives were described as “setting out on the water in defiance of the DFO,” despite the fact that the Supreme Court had already ruled in their favour.
Imagine how different the reading would be if the line had read “native fishers set out on the water and were challenged by the DFO, who were acting in defiance of the Supreme Court.”
From my point of view, it is obvious that socially responsible news media should allow a variety of ways of looking at the world to play out in an effort to promote public debate.
However, the very opening up of debate is often where these different worldviews are found.
For example, in a study of how environmental issues were discussed, researchers found that different stakeholder groups stereotyped others’ points of view and disparaged their motives, while also justifying and privileging their own reasoning.
Those in the dominant, development-oriented group tended to construct their opponents as naive, idealistic, paranoid and fanatical.
On the other hand, environmental activists constructed their opponents as sinister, political, untrustworthy and deceitful.
As each group took a position in the media to criticize the others, those who were criticized could claim victim status and take action to promote their own identity because of the other parties’ criticisms.
In the recent debate over woodlot development in Fredericton, activists have been criticized for being naive, told to get a life and were accused of butting in on the university’s legal rights.
The university, on the other hand, which has played a major role in this development and which could have pioneered green technology, has been criticized for contributing to environmental degradation and for avoiding an important environmental assessment.
When environmental issues are discussed in the media, the dynamic relation between humans and the world they inhabit is revealed.
Articles, commentaries and letters to the editor act as a forum for public dialogue on perceptions of land use and the environment.
Upholding democratic process as a determinant of land use policy is difficult, however, because the voices have unequal amounts of power.
Voicing an alternative environmental discourse is portrayed as a fringe interest. This is particularly dangerous because when a less powerful party is portrayed as “crazy,” it effectively stops the conversation.
When this happens, as the opening paragraph so vividly portrays, it is the wildlife itself which ultimately loses in the debate.
Chris McCormick is a criminology professor at St. Thomas University. His column on crime and criminal justice appears every second Thursday. Comments can be sent to letters@dailygleaner.com.

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Jon Collicot, July 1st, 2008

I read your front-page article June 27 entitled “Beaver kill comes back to haunt university” and was shocked. In the article, University of New Brunswick spokespeople describe how 24 beavers were trapped and killed for the sake of keeping a few woodlot roads free from water.

When questioned about their logic, they state that rendering them into pelts was the most humane way of stopping the problem.

First of all, they never clearly state the hazards. Killing these busy little critters for the sake of students and professors who want to visit the woodlot seems ridiculous, educationally ironic and extremely heavy-handed to me, and it sets a bad example for our community.

I grew up in the country so I have a great admiration for all of God’s creatures, no matter how fierce, ugly or in this case “annoying,” as the university’s attitude seems to portray them.

Instead of attempting to live in harmony with these animals as they build their homes to survive, UNB decides to start a program of contained extermination.

They go on to say that moving the beavers was an extremely dangerous proposition due to the beavers’ natural territorial tendencies. In other words, it is much better to make pelts out of them then to attempt to move them and have them fight with each other.

Perhaps they fear open warfare on Fredericton streets, beavers everywhere smacking each other with their tails and taking down parking meters with their mighty incisors! Better call in the armed forces!

This echoes a trend here in Fredericton. As our supposedly “green” city continues to expand and sprawl into the woods that surround us, we are consistently turning common sense on its ear for the sake of so-called “progress.” Why spend money when we can just kill whatever annoys us? What’s next? Burning blue heron nests?

The beavers have just as much right to live here as we do, and UNB is demonstrating openly how they are less an institution of higher learning and more a symbol of human intolerance towards our natural world.

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