Government to assess risks of marine safety, study oil spill response readiness

The Canadian government is commissioning a pan-Canadian risk assessment study on readiness to respond to ship-source spills in Canadian waters, the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructures and Communities announced on Feb. 5.

In collaboration with the Canadian Coast Guard and Environment Canada, the Ministry says the risk assessment will help the government make continuous improvements to marine safety.

Building on previously conducted risk assessments, this study will analyze and evaluate the risk of oil or chemical spills occurring in Canadian waters as a result of incidents involving ships or oil handling facilities. It will be conducted in two phases. The first phase will examine the likelihood and potential impacts of oil spills in Canadian waters, including the Arctic. The second phase will look at the risks associated with chemical spills.” The study will focus on different types of incidents including collisions, fire, explosions, structural failure and loading/off loading operations.

“Our government is working to protect the safety of Canadians and the environment,” said Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, in a statement. “Canada depends on marine shipping for jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. While the current system has served Canada well, it is essential that we have a system in place that can meet future needs.”

The government posted a request for proposals on the Government Electronic Tendering Service (MERX.) The contract award for marine and risk experts is expected to be announced in early spring.


BCAA’s electric vehicle initiative demystifies EV technology

Can you take an electric car through a car wash? Are these vehicles safe to drive in the rain? Will an electric car have enough power to get you up the steepest of hills?

As electric vehicle (EV) technology evolves and more charging stations are being installed throughout the province, the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) is seeking to raise awareness about the technology and answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

Enlisting the help of Vancouver hero and former Vancouver Canucks captain Trevor Linden, BCAA has taken to the streets to launch its “evolve” initiative.

“Whether it’s to save money or reduce their carbon footprint, we recognize people are looking for more fuel efficient vehicle options and complete alternatives to gas-powered vehicles,” said a statement from Ken Cousin, automotive specialist and associate vice president of BCAA Road Assist. “But, electric vehicles are still new to British Columbians and we want to answer people’s questions and address common myths about EVs to help give people a better understanding of the technology and what it would be like to own and operate one.”

Recent data from the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) found that 42 percent of its members would consider purchasing an electric vehicle for their next var. A BCAA Member Opinion Survey found that the price of gas is what’s spurring most interest drivers into considering the EV option.

As part of its EV initiative, BCAA’s automotive techs have been fully trained on EV technology and safety procedures to ensure they can properly assist EV drivers. EVs have also been added to BCAA’s fleet of vehicles. One EV will be used to provide roadside assistance within the Metro Vancouver area while another EV will be used for an employee car-share program.

“Using EVs in our business will allow us to collect driving data and feedback on EV issues from a diverse group of users,” said Cousin. “Our experience will also help us gain even more understanding of the service needs of these vehicles and what it’s like to own and operate an EV.”

BCAA has also installed EV charging stations at its Burnaby Service Centre which EV owners—Member or not—can use at no cost.

Watch Trevor Linden play taxi driver in BCAA’s electric vehicle:

For more information about BCAA’s evolve initiative on EVs, visit their EV website.

You might also be interested in: Life with an electric car 

Insurance, finance leaders named among Canada’s Clean50 for commitment to sustainable development and clean capitalism

Several of Canada’s financial service and insurance professionals have been recognized for their efforts in sustainable development or “clean capitalism.”

Canada’s 2013 Clean50, founded by Delta Management Group, recognizes 50 individuals (or small teams) who they believe, along with qualified third party advisors, have made the greatest contributions to sustainable development or clean capitalism in Canada between January 1, 2010 and March 31, 2012.

Among those honoured in the 2013 Clean50 in the financial services sector are:

  • Tamara Vrooman – CEO, Vancity Credit Union. Says the Clean50: Tamara has led Vancity through a significant transformation to fully integrate social, environmental and economic impact into all of the financial cooperative’s operations. High-impact lending, environmental advocacy, engagement and education, and reduced impact operations are hallmarks of the credit union’s industry-wide leadership in sustainability.
  • Sandra Odendahl – Director, Corporate Sustainability, Royal Bank of Canada. Says the Clean50: Sandra has led environmental sustainability efforts at RBC since 2000, during which time the company has risen to be rated among the top corporations for environmental sustainability in Canada, receiving numerous awards for its environmental strategy and programs. Sandra believes that the only way to make sustainability mainstream is to integrate it into business and focus on things that add value, mitigate risk or enhance reputation.  For example, since 2010, she played a key role in establishing an internal working team to “green” RBC’s retail branches; she developed and hosted an “Oil Sands Day of Learning” for bankers from 17 global banks, with presentations from the NGO, government, legal, First Nations and industry sectors; she led a team that trained over 1000 bankers and risk managers on incorporating environmental and social issues into credit risk assessment; and she has identified and screened prospective grant recipients for the Blue Water Project. She is also a board member of Pollution Probe and the Toronto Atmospheric Fund.
  • Mike Pedersen – Group Head, Wealth Management, Insurance & Corporate Shared Services, TD Bank Group. Says the Clean50: Mike led the creation of TD’s environment strategy, which embeds concern for the environment organization-wide and has made the bank an environmental leader. TD was the first North America-based bank to be carbon neutral. It opened the first net-zero energy branches in Canada and the U.S., financed billions of dollars for green ventures, created environmentally friendly products, issued major research reports on environmental issues and this year, launched TD Forests, a major conservation initiative. Mike co-founded and is a board member of the Greening Canada Fund, which has raised over $13 million to fund emission-reduction initiatives in Canadian communities. He has spoken at environment conferences in Europe and North America and, in 2008, created a Chief Environment Officer role within TD, the first of any major bank in Canada to do so. That role is filled by Karen Clarke-Whistler, a Clean50 Honouree of last year.
  • Barbara Turley-McIntyre – Director, Sustainability and Corporate Citizenship, The Co-Operators Group Limited. Says the Clean50: Barbara is responsible for embedding sustainability at The Co-operators. The co-operative insurer has committed to reducing its carbon emissions 50% by 2014, and to zero by 2020. By creating products and services to meet emerging risks associated with climate change, engaging stakeholders and equipping student leaders to be champions of sustainability, this focus has driven innovation. Since taking on the portfolio in 2007, Barbara helped the The Co-operators get onto the list, then sit in the top three on Corporate Knights’ “50 Best Corporate Citizens” list since 2010. Barbara also serves as a director with The Natural Step Canada, and as a board member of the Sustainability Environment Committee of the Canadian Co-operative Association. She is the co-chair of the North American Task Force of the United Nations Environment Program, Financial Institutions organization.

For more on this year’s Clean50, visit

Young entrepreneurs embrace worker co-op model in successful, environmentally friendly delivery business

As 2012 is being recognized as the International Year of Co-operatives, ILStv  sat down with John Restakis, Executive Director of the British Columbia Co-operatives Association, and talked to him about a group of young people who are part of what he calls the next wave of environmentally friendly co-ops.

John Restakis: Shift Urban Cargo Co-op is one of the more recent, newer co-ops established in B.C. They are located in Vancouver.  And it grew out of a school project from a group of students at Simon Fraser University in the certificate program for sustainable development—community development. They realized that there might be a way to provide urban, downtown delivery in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

They hit on the idea of trikes; large, heavy-duty trikes, with these cabinets that are capable of moving quite large loads through pedal power. It’s got a lot of press, a lot of attention, and it’s been very successful. And it really represents a really interesting innovation on a Co-op model that can be used to do something positive in a way that not only provides a more sustainable, environmentally friendly way of doing delivery services downtown, it cuts down on the use of cars, heavy delivery trucks; but, it’s also a worker co-op. So the young people that are involved own the co-op and they are employees.

And it was very appealing to these young students because it was a kind of business model that they really hadn’t encountered before. So, the worker co-op model, which gives them a say in how the business is run—one member, one vote basis—linked to its environmental focus, was a very appealing structure for this particular service.

And it’s very representative of a whole new wave of co-ops that are now coming into play that have an environmental awareness and a focus, and a focus on sustainability—ways of doing business in a sustainable manner.

You may also be interested in:

Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of  The Co-operators, discusses the role of co-operatives

History of the Co-operative movement in Canada

Co-operatives are the antibodies of globalization

Year of the Co-operatives launches across Canada


SGI CANADA, Tree Canada partnership to bring new trees to Saskatchewan

A new partnership between SGI CANADA and Tree Canada will result in the planting of more than 2,600 trees across Saskatchewan next spring.

SGI CANADA, in addition to committing to reduce the amount of paper used by the company, is sponsoring $10,500 for the initiative.

The insurer said new technology has already helped limit the amount of paper it uses.

“We all need to be conscious of the effect our business practices have on our environment,” said Andrew Cartmell, President and CEO of SGI CANADA in a statement.

“Last year, we introduced new technology to allow brokers to access our materials online, and this year, we are further reducing the amount of paper we use by eliminating the paper distribution of our annual rate manuals. These types of initiatives show how small changes can have a huge impact.”

Each November, SGI CANADA’s rate manual distribution constitutes 1.2 million sheets of paper. This year alone, by providing these documents electronically, the company will save the equivalent of 72 trees.

“Many companies are growing aware of the value to society of being greener,” said Michael Rosen, President of Tree Canada. “SGI CANADA has stepped up to the plate in this respect and Tree Canada is very enthusiastic about working with them to plant trees across Saskatchewan.”


Ontario, BC named Canada’s greenest provinces

Corporate Knights has given Ontario an A- in its third bi-annual Green Provincial Report Card, putting the province first in environmental process in the country. British Columbia ranks second, also earning an A-.

The organization, which focuses on “clean capitalism”, evaluated each province and territory using a series of 35 indicators grouped into seven categories: air and climate, water, nature, transportation, waste, energy and buildings, and innovation. Building on previous green province reports, this year’s ranking methodology used the most current available data (ranging from 2008 to 2011). The majority of the information came through federal sources that allowed for direct comparisons between Canada’s 13 jurisdictions.

The highest grade in the 2012 report went to Ontario, which received an A-. The province has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 6.5 per cent since 1990, making it the only province to reach Kyoto emission-reduction targets. It also received high marks for building green homes and embracing energy retrofits for old ones, and for continuing to maintain a vibrant clean technology sector. Saskatchewan and Alberta landed at the back of the pack.

“Despite Ontario and British Columbia receiving high grades, there’s room for vast improvement,” said lead researcher Erin Marchington. Corporate Knights calculated that if all provinces and territories achieved best practices in each of the seven categories that were measured the Canadian average would be 86 per cent, making the nation more than just an excellent student. But to pursue such best practices on a national scale will require much greater cooperation, collaboration and information sharing across the country.

Province/Territory Rank Grade
Ontario 1 A-
British Columbia 2 A-
Prince Edward Island 3 B+
Yukon Territory 4 B
Quebec 5 B
Nunavut 6 B-
Nova Scotia 7 B-
Northwest Territories 8 B-
Newfoundland & Labrador 9 C+
New Brunswick 10 C+
Manitoba 11 C+
Alberta 12 C
Saskatchewan 13 C

The full report is available online. (PDF)

You might also be interested in: Canada’s Greenest Employers 

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