Tuesday 29 July 2014

EcoSask News, July 29, 2014

Peregrine Falcons, July 30 
See peregrine falcons up close with Dr. Lynn Oliphant on July 30. Meet at the Wild Birds Unlimited store at 6:30 pm to car pool to the site.

Nature Journaling at the Creek, Aug. 5-8 
Take an hour as a family to find a new way of looking at the world around you through nature journaling at Beaver Creek.

Youth Leadership Program
The 2014 Next Up youth leadership program will focus particular attention on climate change. The deadline for Saskatchewan applications is September 5.

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Meadowgreen: Saskatoon’s newest community garden. Overall, Saskatoon now has 34 community garden sites with 2200 people involved in community gardening

Starting this fall, First Nations youth will be learning and sharing knowledge about prairie landscapes and wildlife through the Treaty 4 Student Success program. The program is managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada in Saskatchewan with involvement from Elders, landowners, and those with expertise in the natural sciences

An editorial in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix urges the City to hold to its commitment to prioritize alternative transportation options 

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Let’s tell Parks Canada that we don’t want bulldozers in Grasslands National Park

When will Saskatoon get an environmentally-friendly dry cleaner? (photo taken in Nelson, BC)
Take Action
We can make a difference. We just need to take action. Here is one idea:
The Let’s Glean! United We Serve Toolkit helps groups start collecting excess food to deliver to those in need. Locally, Out Of Your Tree harvests and shares excess fruit

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday 24 July 2014

2014 Saskatchewan Solar Tour

EcoFriendly Sask provided a $500 EcoFriendly Action Grant to the organizers of the 5th Annual Saskatchewan Solar Tour. The following is a report on the tour by David Orban. 

Four hours and nine minutes after the sun’s zenith for 2014 (9 am, Saturday, June 21), a touring bus rented from Moose Mountain Bus Lines left Candy Cane Park in Regina for the morning run of the all-day 5th Annual Saskatchewan Solar Tour. Half of the volunteer tour steering committee members were in attendance: Megan Duchek, Jody Broughton, and me (David Orban). After days of rain, the skies were blue.

David Suzuki and Elizabeth May had been sent complimentary tickets. Although Suzuki contacted us saying, “I regret that I can’t make it...,” May didn’t show up nor did she say she wasn’t showing up. I suspect that she never received the letter and enclosed ticket that was sent to her.

As in the past, we had enough door prizes to give away at least one in between stops. The prizes included Home Power magazines, LED light bulbs, watt meters, a solar- powered, remote-controlled toy car, and a folding PV panel, with the grand prize being a $640 inverter/charger donated by 2B Green Power Solutions.

The slogan of the tour for this year was Good Day Sunshine. Phil Boychuk, another committee member, pre-recorded a dozen songs on a CD with themes related to the slogan. This was played on the bus’s stereo system as background music during the tour.

Jody and I, who are both experienced solar technicians, had decided beforehand that we would let the participants in on some little known and interesting facts about solar power as they related to the sites visited on the tour. A few examples of these facts will be given in the description of the tour that follows.

The schedule for the morning tour was sites in and around Regina. We first drove by and within several hundred meters of a wind turbine owned by Cowessess First Nation and located a few miles east of Regina. Commissioned a year ago, this iconic 800 kilowatt (kW) generator on a 73-meter tower has two sets of 400 kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery packs for storage.

Fact: Doubling the wind speed triples the power output 

Our first stop was just south-east of White City at Kyle Parker’s home on a farm. He has a 10 kW photovoltaic (PV) residential grid tie system: 5 kW ground and 5 kW roof mount. He installed his system and spoke about it. About a 100 meters east of his house, Bill Walton of 2B Green Power Solutions showed us his 30 kW solar farm.

Fact: The colder the ambient temperature, the more efficiently a PV system works 

Next we headed back to Regina to see the largest residential PV system in the city owned by Brad Hershmiller. Brad and Ken Kelln of Kelln Solar, who installed this system, were there to guide the participants at this site.

Fact: Of all the cities in the world with a population of over 200,000, Regina is ranked 6th among those having the best solar resources. The city of Frieburg in Germany, which has the same population as Regina and a solar regime equivalent to cloudy Vancouver, has over 50 megawatts of rooftop PV compared to Regina’s less than 1⁄4 of a megawatt 

The final stop for the morning was a solar thermal hot water at Namerind Housing Corporation. Namerind’s CEO, Robert Byers, was in attendance to explain the system to the attendees. The 10 flat plate collectors are used for both domestic hot water and to preheat water for space heating in this multi-residential system.

We dropped off morning-only participants and picked up some for the afternoon tour at Candy Cane Park at noon. Megan departed at this time and another two tour committee members climbed on: Phil and Betty Beaglehole. The only volunteer who has never attended a tour is our poster designer Richard Vicarius. We then travelled to Moose Jaw and ate our lunches on the way. We picked up a few attendees at Mac The Moose and went to our first site in Moose Jaw.

Don Mitchell’s home was a first for the tour in having the only solar thermal hot air collector ever visited by the tour. One 8’ by 4’ panel has reduced his natural gas heating bill by 15% during the winter. 

Two pole-mounted PV arrays owned by Mark Gillies were our next Moose Jaw site visit. Commissioned five years ago and installed by Kelln Solar, Mark’s system has a maximum output of 2.7 kW and is grid tied.

Fact: PV panels have no moving parts to wear out and typically have a 25-year warranty. The first solar cell, created back in 1952, is still pumping out electricity

Next we went to Kell Viczko’s solar thermal hot water and geothermal hybrid horse riding arena 10 k west of Moose Jaw. Kell was there to welcome us along with a representative from Nexus Energy who did the geothermal part of the system as well as Vic Ellis of SCI Sustainable Concepts Inc. and his partner, Dale Wourms, who did the solar end of things. They had coffee and muffins available for us and Vic had a PowerPoint presentation on heat transfer processes, insulation, and global sustainability.

After dropping the Moose Jaw attendees off at Mac The Moose, we travelled back to Regina. Our last stop was at Belle Plaine and another first for the tour: the only building-integrated photovoltaic site ever visited by the tour. This carport was designed with PV in mind. Owned by Ron Gares and installed by Evergreen Energy Solutions, it sports a 5.6 kW grid-tied system which was commissioned three years ago.

Forty-one people attended the tour. Social connections were made. Information was shared. Knowledge was gained. There is enough seed money for the steering committee to start the cycle all over again.

Thank you EcoFriendly Sask for making the 2014 Saskatchewan Solar Tour a success.

Photo credit: Saskatchewan Solar Tour Facebook page

Tuesday 22 July 2014

EcoSask News, July 22, 2014


Sheep at the Creek, Aug. 2, 3, 4 
Sheep will be grazing at Beaver Creek on August 2, 3, and 4 at 9:30 am and 2:30 pm. The program is weather dependent; updates will be available on the Meewasin website.

Earth Overshoot Festival, Regina, Aug. 23-24
Saskatchewan Eco Network is planning a music festival outside Regina on August 23-24 to celebrate Earth Overshoot Day, the approximate date our resource consumption for a given year exceeds the planet's ability to replenish.

Long-Term Threats to the SK River Basin, Oct. 27-29 
The Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin and the Canadian Water Resources Association will be holding a conference in Saskatoon from October 27-29 focusing on long-term threats to the Saskatchewan River Basin.

Field Trips 
Young Naturalists
August 15, 1 pm – Grasslands Hike at Northeast Swale (space is limited; register in advance)

Golden Eagles 
Aug. 14, 7:30 am – Shorebirds

Other Nature Society Field Trips 
Aug. 3, 1:30 – 4:30 pm – Butterflies VI
Aug. 9 – Wildflower Hike at Big Valley with the Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan
Aug. 10, 9 am – 4 pm – Perdue Shorebirds

Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details (e.g. some trips require rubber boots, others will be cancelled if the weather is bad).


Electric Cars 
Electric cars are difficult to find and expensive on the Prairies. Contact Lynn Oliphant if you are interested in bringing in some electric cars from Quebec at more affordable prices.

Environmental Awards 
SaskOutdoors (new name for Saskatchewan Outdoor and Environmental Education Association) is seeking nominations for two environmental awards honouring environmental youth and educational leadership. The deadline is October 1.

Thumbs Up 
George Monbiot sums up the reasons why we need a global moratorium on neonicotinoids

Helsinki’s ambitious plan to make car ownership unnecessary

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Anti-bacterial hand soaps pose risks for humans as well as water systems

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday 15 July 2014

EcoSask News, July 15, 2014

Pond at Innovation Place
Buffalo Pound Photo Hike, July 19
Join Branimir Gjetvaj for a Macro and Flower Photography Hike at Buffalo Pound Provincial Park on July 19. There is no charge.

Sustainable Forest Workshop, Aug. 20-23
High school science teachers and other keeners are invited to attend a Sustainable Forests Workshop from August 20-23 at Ness Creek. The workshop will focus on forest ecology and sustainable forest management in line with the new high school science curriculum.

Transition Regional Workshop, Aug. 23-24
There will be a two-day Transition Regional Workshop in Vancouver on August 23-24 to discuss the state of the Transition Initiative. If you are or were involved in the Transition movement, check it out.

Beaver Creek Interpretive Hikes, July & August
Join an interpreter at 2:30 pm on Sundays during July and August for an outdoor hike at Beaver Creek Conservation Area.

Wetlands Help Prevent Flooding
In a recent article on flooding in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, John Pomeroy, Canada Research Chair in Water Resource and Climate Change, says: “By preserving wetlands, [farmers] are providing a service to those who are downstream,” Pomeroy said. “And I think something like that should be rewarded. It’s far cheaper to do that than it would be to build extra dams, reservoirs, or to pay off for flood damages.”

See also: Wetlands: For People as well as Ducks

Saskatchewan Community Wind
Saskatoon Community Wind has rebranded itself as Saskatchewan Community Wind. They “are committed to ensuring that Saskatchewan communities derive maximum economic benefit from our province’s world-class wind resource,” which they believe is best achieved through community-owned, widely distributed, and appropriately sized wind farm power projects.

Badlands: A Geography of Metaphors
Moose Jaw photographer and painter Ken Dalgarno has published Badlands: A Geography of Metaphors, a photographic portrait of the North American Badlands. “The Badlands are an archives where stories have been exiled. This becomes instantly apparent when you travel across the vast open prairie and, without notice, it literally collapses before you into a valley of secrets,” says Ken Dalgarno. The layers of history include dinosaur fossils, First Nations pictographs, and the hiding places of Butch Cassidy and other refugees from justice.

Thought Provoking
Benefits vs. costs of federal fossil fuel subsidies – a report from the Pembina Institute

Refuse to be held hostage by your car: the health benefits of walking

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday 8 July 2014

EcoSask News, July 8, 2014


Hyde Park Opening, July 9
Join Mayor Atchison for the unveiling of Hyde Park signage at 1:15 pm, July 9 (rescheduled due to rain). This is a naturalized park with a series of wetlands that was once the farm of the Hyde family.

Cameco Family Day at the Zoo, July 20
There will be lots of fun for kids of all ages at the Cameco Family Day at the Zoo fundraiser from 10 am to 4 pm, July 20.

Permasask Workshop & Permablitz, July 26 & 27
On Saturday, July 26, Hatchet 'n Seed Permaculture will offer a workshop at Happy Bug Farm on the benefits of plant guilds to filter graywater, manage storm water, and beautify your backyard.

On Sunday, July 27, there will be a Permablitz around the Happy Bug Farm graywater pond.

Field Trips
Golden Eagles
July 17, 8 am – Gabriel Dumont Park (lunch at Tastebuds)
July 24, 7:30 am – Lac LaPeche
July 31 – Visit Jared Epp and his grazing sheep

Other Nature Society Field Trips
July 12, 8 am – 5 pm – Tiger Hills Upland Field Trip
July 19, 1:30-4:30 pm – Dragonfly and Damselfly Field Trip
July 20, 1:30 – 4:30 pm – Butterflies V
July 26, 8 am – 6 pm – Quill Lakes Shorebirds (Great Egret colony)

Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details (e.g. some trips require rubber boots, others will be cancelled if the weather is bad).

Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo
Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo: A Photographic History by Sara Williams tells the stories of the people who worked at the federal tree nursery, how the trees were produced, and the evolution of the zoo through archival and contemporary photos and vignettes.

The book will be launched at McNally Robinson Booksellers on July 22 at 7 pm. For more information about the Forestry Farm, join one of the tours offered by the Friends of the Forestry Farm House on July 20 or August 31.

Thumbs Up
7 reasons to fund bicycle infrastructure (#4 increase retail sales, #5 save City money)

4 reasons why Portland became a cyclists’ utopia (#3 strong lobbying presence)

Microgrids: localized energy is cleaner, cheaper, stable, and secure

Add a little colour to your day (and reduce waste)

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday 1 July 2014

EcoSask News, July 1, 2014

Eastern Kingbird

Wild Zoo Weekends, June 28 - Sept. 1
The Saskatoon Zoo Society will be setting up special touch table displays and wild animal programs on weekends and holiday Mondays throughout the summer from 10 am – 4 pm.

Beaver Creek’s Birds, July 3, 12, 22, 31
Learn more about Beaver Creek’s birds as part of the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship program on July 3, 12, 22, and 31.

Creating Monarch Friendly Habitat, July 10
Learn how to create a successful butterfly habitat in a full-day workshop at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm and Zoo on July 10.

Thought Provoking
Some environmental issues have relatively straightforward solutions (buy new light bulbs, start a compost pile), but others demand much more of us. Here are just two examples:

Green Sex: “It is better for the environment if a couple enjoys international air travel, eats a high-meat diet, each drive an SUV, never recycles, and lives in a large, free-standing home, but never has a biological child"

100-Mile Travel Diet: “Perhaps it’s time for the concept of a 100-mile travel diet to join our lexicon along with its culinary cousin. Either way, we need to ditch the environmentally destructive and, frankly, classist, travel narratives in which whomever travels furthest, to the most exotic locale, wins. We can discover ourselves in ways that don’t kill the planet."


Thumbs Up
Aquavist Manitoba is a grassroots movement designed to save all the rivers and lakes in the Lake Winnipeg watershed.

The Meewasin Valley Authority has just released its strategic plan for 2014-2024. Strategic priorities include updating the Meewasin Valley boundaries to secure riverbank and significant natural and heritage areas, extending the Meewasin Trail, promoting activities in all seasons of the year, developing a framework for conservation planning aimed at maintaining biodiversity and heritage valley-wide, and developing a Northeast Swale interpretive plan.

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Fashion is killing our rivers. Find out more and help support RiverBlue, a documentary being produced by Canadian Mark Angelo about the impact of the textile and tannery industries on the world’s rivers.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).