Urban aquaculture, coming to Vancouver soon?

I spent this weekend in Victoria where my wife and I, along with friends and family, joined the last leg of the Get out Migration. The migration was led by legendary environmental activist Alexandra Morton who set out from Sointula, 500 kilometers north of Victoria, on April 23rd to lead a human migration that honored the yearly runs of BCs wild pacific salmon. These runs have been increasingly threatened by environmental degradation and habitat destruction on BCs coast. Many leading marine biologists, sport fishermen and Morton herself believe the greatest source of degradation and habitat destruction comes from the Norwegian owned open net cage farms; breeding grounds for sea lice with as much sewage-like waste output as your average BC city.  As recent pilot projects have proven, a viable alternative exists, and this alternative may create opportunities for urban economic stimulus and job creation too.

These tanks designed by Canada's Agri Marine, can hold up to 50,000 trout

A recent study suggests that not only will we have to move to closed containment to allow our marine ecosystems to heal, but it will also be a sustainable and profitable move.  Growing Power have already proven that aquaponics is a feasible practice on a smaller and medium scale while a larger scale closed containment aquaculture project in China launched just this past December has piqued interest world wide. Canadian company AgriMarine created the technology being used for the fish farm in China where 50,000 trout are currently housed, needless to say, some Canadians are now asking why their own technology found a home in China before it did here?

Another project that Vancouver (and BC) may consider drawing inspiration from is Cityscape in San Francisco. Cityscape, an urban agriculture organization in San Francisco is looking to create market-scale aquaponics operations (that include fish) in the Bay Area -south San Francisco in particular. Restaurants, keen to include locally sourced and sustainably farmed products are apparently eager to support this initiative. Go here for a great article on Cityscape and the impossible logic of urban food production.

So can we imagine a Vancouver where urban agriculture and aquaculture contribute to our world class dining culture? I sure can. One word sums it all up for me FRESH.

It’s a fresh idea that will create fresh new jobs, and of course year round fresh food. And let’s not forget the extra fresh air we’ll all enjoy from a decreased need to truck industrial foods from one end of the continent to the other!

For more information on the exciting urban farming initiatives here in Vancouver you can also visit these sites:

SOLEfood

CityFarmer

UBC Farm

Projects in Place

Environmental Youth Alliance

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Top 5 Green Urban Initiatives

Man oh man, I told myself I wouldn’t leave the office today without posting to the Greening the Inner-City Blog but it has been busy at BOB! So without further delay I will recount some awesome green initiatives in five North-American cities that I think should inspire anyone this Earth Day. And because people love searching for top tens and top fives and bests and worsts on the internet I’ll even present them as the top 5, as the title clearly states (though there are many other fascinating and awesome programs in several other cities too that could easily make the list). And because I’m in a massive hurry to get home I’m going to copy and paste a lot of the wording right from their own websites, thanks!

5) Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx) (Bronx, New York) is a community organization    dedicated to Environmental Justice solutions through innovative, economically sustainable projects that are informed by community needs. One of the many awesome programs bridging sustainable community economic development, urban renewal and workforce development is the Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training Academy (BEST) which trains residents in bioremediation, wetland restoration, horticulture, water and soil quality testing and numerous other green job skills. The BEST Academy links environmental clean-up and restoration in the community to the career development and economic needs of local people.

4) Chicago Climate Action Plan. (Chicago) Chicago Mayor Richard Daley got inspired on a trip to Germany a few years back, which is hard not to do if you find sustainability and green technology particularly exciting. After coming home he decided to one up those Germans by making Chicago a global leader in environmentally sustainable urban planning. The CCAP includes best practices for ensuring Chicago is full of:

Other initiatives are also being developed such as a global building energy monitoring system which would enable the City to control the temperature at more than 500 city-owned facilities, reducing energy costs by as much as 30-40 percent, and a green collar workforce development program aimed at empowering Chicagoans with the skill sets needed for building retrofits, renewable energy and other green economic activities.

3) Growing Power. (Milwaukee/Chicago)                                                             Will Allen, CEO of growing power, has helped to raise the profile of urban agriculture to great heights and his work has inspired cities around North America (including Vancouver) to join the urban farming revolution. Growing Power transforms communities by supporting people from diverse backgrounds and the environments in which they live through the development of Community Food Systems.  His urban farming initiatives, which recently won him a MacArthur Genius Grant, have spread innovative approaches to urban agriculture, aquaculture and even beekeeping, from Milwaukee to Chicago. Empower communities and increasing food security.

2) The Portland Metro EcoDistricts Initiative (Portland Oregon)

Integrating Environmental Performance and District Scale Development and spearheaded by the Portland Sustainability Institute, the EcoDistricts Initative is a large-scale and diverse public private partnership currently underway which includes the City of Portland, Portland Development Commission, Metro, Portland State University and Oregon University System, Oregon BEST, Real estate, design, and construction industry leaders and leading urban environmental organizations who have collaborated on a framework for the development of 5 pilot projects throughout the city.

The objective of the program is to test, accelerate and eventually codify the next generation of best practices in green development and civic infrastructure that can be scaled to create neighborhoods with the lowest environmental impact and highest economic and social resiliency in the United States.

EcoDISTRICTS is a strategy to build “triple bottom line” neighborhoods with the lowest possible environmental impact and highest long‐term economic and community returns.

So basically, just when you thought Portland couldn’t get any more awesome they go and put this thing together.

1) Greenest City Action Team and Vancouver 2020 a Bright Green Future (Vancouver BC).

Surprised? Well I can say with confidence that I don’t give top placement to our Mayor’s vision and the team behind it simply out of hometown pride. The objective is clear, to be the world’s leader in sustainability and the healthiest, cleantech-savvy, robust, gorgeous, green economy powerhouse on the planet. Hard not to give top placement to an initiative like that!  Here are some of the hard targets from the GCAT recommendations and Bright Green Future 10 year plan.

Secure Vancouver’s international reputation as a mecca of green enterprise

2020 Target: Create 20,000 new green jobs

Eliminate Vancouver’s dependence on fossil fuels

2020 Target: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions 33 per cent from 2007 levels

Lead the world in green building design and construction

2020 Targets: All new construction carbon neutral; improve efficiency of existing buildings by 20 per cent

Make walking, cycling, and public transit preferred transportation options

2020 Target: Make the majority of trips (over 50 per cent) on foot, bicycle, and public transit

Create zero waste

2020 Target: Reduce solid waste per capita going to landfill or incinerator by 40 per cent

Provide incomparable access to green spaces, including the world’s most spectacular urban forest

2020 Targets: Every person lives within a five-minute walk of a park, beach, greenway, or other natural space; plant 150,000 additional trees in the city

Achieve a one-planet ecological footprint

2020 Target: Reduce per capita ecological footprint by 33 per cent

Enjoy the best drinking water of any major city in the world

2020 Target: Always meet or beat the strongest of B.C., Canada, and World Health Organization drinking water standards; reduce per capita water consumption by 33 per cent

Breathe the cleanest air of any major city in the world

2020 Target: Always meet or beat World Health Organization air quality guidelines, which are stronger than Canadian guidelines

Become a global leader in urban food systems

2020 Targets: Reduce the carbon footprint of our food by 33 per cent

So happy earth day everyone! There’s lots to be excited about, now get involved in the greening of your inner-city and surrouding urban spaces.

The future of the greening the inner-city blog

Yesterday the Green Inner-city Cluster met at BOB’s offices.  Many were disappointed that Will Allen’s visit to Vancouver had to be canceled due to a medical issue.  We all wish Will Allen a speedy recovery and hopefully he’ll get up to Vancouver another time, we’d love to show him what we’re doing with urban agriculture here.

At the meeting we went over our current initiatives, the most famous of which is the SOLEfood Urban farm.  The inner-city farmers have completed training with help from such folks as Ward Teulon and Michael Ableman.  Most of the boxes are completely built, not sure about the covers (high tunnels) to lengthen the growing season.  SOLEfood needs equipment and materials still so a public call for them is being echoed on this blog.

The other topic that was heavily discussed is e-waste, which will be dealt with in a future post in more depth.

We also talked about the future of this blog.  It was created almost a year ago, and since then Majora Carter has visited Vancouver twice, we started an urban farm, we trained some inner-city residents in urban agriculture, we even helped promote a few conferences.  So what does the future hold for the Greening the inner-city blog?

That is still being determined, but the team behind the blog was strengthened.  The original group of people who stated an interest in writing about relevant themes and issues here only produced four actual authors of posts.  This was never intended to be the Green BOB Blog or heaven forbid the Green Muskblog.  So we’re going to reach out to find some more guest authors, as finding regular bloggers who will write for free and are knowledgeable and able to post regularly is difficult.  Our two biggest additions to the team are Wes Regan who has blogged for Techvibes among others and Emily Jubenvill of Small Feet.  So expect to see them authoring more posts in the future.

If you’re interested in writing a guest post or have a topic you think would be a good subject for a future post write wes.regan@bobics.org.  We are going to try even harder to stick to our chosen categories:

  • Construction – green buildings, sustainable communities, de-construction
  • Energy – conservation or alternative means to generation
  • Green Businesses – particularly local ones or best practices
  • Green Economy – both locally in Vancouver and over all
  • Green Jobs – locally but with the occasional big picture story or link
  • Green Space – local ones but also interesting urban green spaces worldwide
  • Recycling – which has proven particularly successful in the DTES
  • Waste Reduction – reducing consumption of everything other than energy

This discipline along with the general cleanness of our site and WordPress.com HTML code has apparently lead to our humble blog ranking well in Google for several keywords and phrases.  We will remain on topic as long as I’m still involved.  We also want the blog to be more interactive so expect us to respond to most comments and we’ll continue to cross promote this blog on various other sister sites.