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"Yes" coalition calls on voters to support Metro Vancouver transportation improvements

January 29, 2015

The Better Transit and Transportation Coalition — the biggest, most diverse coalition in B.C. history — highlights opportunity for Metro Vancouver to determine its transportation future

VANCOUVER, January 29, 2015 — Victory for the "Yes" vote in Metro Vancouver's upcoming transportation referendum will benefit people from all walks of life, according to the broad-based Better Transit and Transportation Coalition, which calls the referendum "one of the most important decisions facing our region for the next generation."

The BTTC, the largest and most diverse coalition of its kind in B.C., is backing the Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation Plan to expand transportation options, cut traffic congestion, reduce pollution, improve the health of our communities and strengthen the local economy. The plan is also accountable in that independent auditing and public reporting requirements will ensure money raised is spent on the proposed projects.

The BTTC has come together from incredibly diverse backgrounds to become a formal non-profit society with a common purpose, appointing four co-chairs representing business, labour, environment and student groups, among others. All are encouraging Metro Vancouver residents to vote "Yes" in the binding plebiscite mail-in ballot, which takes place from mid-March through the end of May.

"The plan will make our regional and provincial economy more competitive by dramatically improving the movement of goods, services and people," says coalition co-chair and Vancouver Board of Trade president and CEO Iain Black.

Improvements in the plan include better service on existing SkyTrain and bus routes, light rail transit in Surrey and Langley, Broadway Corridor rapid transit, replacement of the Pattullo Bridge and 11 new B-Line routes throughout the region.

"Saying 'Yes' to these vital projects is the most important step we can take to show we care for the environment and to improve our quality of life," says coalition co-chair and David Suzuki Foundation CEO Peter Robinson.

The Mayors' Council Plan will cut traffic congestion by 20 per cent, shortening commute times by an average of 20 to 30 minutes per day, and give 70 per cent of Metro Vancouver residents more frequent transit service. It also addresses Metro Vancouver's future transit needs as the region prepares for one million more residents by 2040.

"Better transit and transportation benefits workers in a real way by making it easier and faster for them to get to and from their jobs and to spend more time with their families instead of wasting precious time on long commutes and traffic gridlock," says Gavin McGarrigle, coalition co-chair and Unifor's B.C. Area director.

The plan will be funded by a 0.5 per cent regional Congestion Improvement Tax. This funding method will be fair to everyone, including visitors and tourists. It is affordable — on average about 35 cents a day per household — or $125 a year.

"Students rely on transit," says Bahareh Jokar, coalition co-chair and VP External at the Alma Mater Society of the University of British Columbia. "A stronger transit system will help thousands of students across Metro Vancouver advance their education, while building a better region for generations to come."

The BTTC will work throughout the Lower Mainland with speeches, public appearances, editorial boards, digital media efforts and other ways to help ensure Metro Vancouver voters understand the benefits of expanded transportation options.

The BTTC is inviting the media and supporters of the "Yes" vote in Metro Vancouver's upcoming transit and transportation referendum to a campaign event:

Time: 12 noon, registration at 11:30 a.m.
Date: Thursday, February 5
Location: SFU, Segal Building, 500 Granville Street, Vancouver, B.C.

About the BTTC:

The Better Transit and Transportation Coalition is a new coalition — the biggest, most diverse ever in B.C. — supporting the Metro Vancouver Mayors' Council Plan to dramatically improve transit and transportation in our region. The BTTC has more than 65 organizational supporters representing more than 250,000 Metro Vancouver residents, including organizations from business, labour, environment, student, community, health and other groups. Learn more at the BTTC's new website: www.Bettertransit.info Follow us on Twitter @voteyestransit and Facebook BetterTransitInfo

Better Transit and Transportation Coalition co-chair bios:

Iain Black is president and CEO of the Vancouver Board of Trade. He has been in this role since 2011, leading the organization through fundamental transformation and returning it to increased membership growth, financial health and relevance in the public and business domain. He joined the board after serving six years as an elected MLA and cabinet minister for the government of British Columbia, where his various responsibilities included three cabinet posts encompassing economic development, labour and small business.

Bahareh Jokar is a fifth-year political science student and vice-president external affairs of the Alma Mater Society of UBC Vancouver. She sits as the chair of Get on Board BC and vice-chair of the Alliance of BC Students. Her work focuses on advocating for student issues to different levels of government, while ensuring that students are informed and engaged during elections. Metro Vancouver is home to upwards of 100,000 students.

Gavin McGarrigle is the B.C. Area Director for Unifor and a vice-president and officer at the B.C. Federation of Labour. McGarrigle has represented workers and bargained agreements in many industries, including transit and transportation, with Vancouver's container truckers, and in aerospace and hospitality. Unifor is Canada's newest union and largest in the private sector, with more than 305,000 members across the country, working in every major sector of the Canadian economy. The B.C. Federation of Labour represents close to 500,000 members throughout British Columbia and includes many unions representing transit workers, including COPE Local 378, CUPE and BCGEU.

Peter Robinson is the chief executive officer of the David Suzuki Foundation, a non-profit science and education organization working to address some of Canada's most pressing environmental challenges. He brings to this position a diverse background spanning four decades in business, government and the non-profit sectors. Robinson began his career working as a park ranger in wilderness areas throughout British Columbia, where he was decorated for bravery by the Governor General of Canada. After his park career, he worked at BC Housing, a provincial crown corporation, eventually becoming its CEO. Immediately prior to his appointment as CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation, he was the CEO of Mountain Equipment Co-op.

For media information, please contact:

Theresa Beer, David Suzuki Foundation,
778-874-3396,
tbeer@davidsuzuki.org

Rob MacKay-Dunn, The Vancouver Board of Trade,
604-640-5454,
rmackay-dunn@boardoftrade.com

Who will become Toronto's next Park Ranger?

January 28, 2015

David Suzuki Foundation recruiting troop of volunteers to help reimagine the city as a Homegrown National Park​

TORONTO — The David Suzuki Foundation is now recruiting Toronto residents to participate in the third year of the Homegrown National Park project, a collective effort to create a green corridor along the former path of Garrison Creek, in the city's west end. The project goal is to tap the creativity of residents to begin transforming their neighbourhoods one green intervention at a time — ultimately helping to re-imagine the city as a Homegrown National Park.

"The Homegrown National Park project has demonstrated how keen residents can quickly and creatively transform the places where they live, work and play — and have a lot of fun while doing it," said David Suzuki Foundation project lead Jode Roberts. "We urge residents to apply to be a Homegrown Park Ranger. We will help them make awesome things happen in 2015, and together we will bring nature home to the city."

Over the past two years, the Foundation has recruited 44 volunteer Homegrown Park Rangers, with backgrounds ranging from art and architecture to real estate and theatre, and provided them with advanced community leadership training. Over the following months Park Rangers work with two-dozen partner groups and parks and residents associations to support greening efforts, such as the popular 2014 #GotMilkweed campaign, and participate in community events like outdoor pizza nights, music festivals, walking tours, native plant sales and movie screenings.

The Rangers are also supported in hatching plans for greening schoolyards, alleys, parks, streets, balconies and yards. Some have experimented with light, quick, cheap interventions, like pothole planters, moss graffiti and canoe gardens. Others have aimed for bigger projects, including transforming a parking lot into a green plaza, a schoolyard into a pollinator garden and "parkify-ing" a residential street. By the end of the second year, more than two-dozen Park Ranger-led interventions and events were completed, resulting in thousands of volunteer hours and more than 5,000 native flowers and shrubs planted.

While the Homegrown National Park Project will continue in 2015 along the Garrison Creek corridor, through municipal wards 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 (See HGNP map here), this year the program will be expanded to include Park Rangers from outside the area, plus a new troop of occasional volunteers in the Homegrown Volunteer Corps.

Motivated, creative individuals are encouraged to apply to join the 2015 Homegrown Park Ranger team. Working cooperatively, Park Rangers will develop and launch new green projects with the support of the David Suzuki Foundation and project partners. Park Rangers will be selected through a competitive process. Application deadline is midnight on February 9, 2015.

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For more information, please visit www.davidsuzuki.org/homegrown, or contact Jode Roberts at 647-456-9752 or jroberts@davidsuzuki.org.

The David Suzuki Foundation joins Aeroplan's Beyond Miles program

January 28, 2015

Aeroplan donates one million Aeroplan Miles to new partner

MONTREAL Aeroplan is pleased to welcome the David Suzuki Foundation as its newest charitable partner in its Beyond Miles program, launching the partnership with a donation of one million Aeroplan Miles. Developed with member passions in mind, Beyond Miles is a program that enables Aeroplan Members to donate Aeroplan Miles to outstanding Canadian charities that are committed to improving lives and enriching communities across Canada and abroad.

The David Suzuki Foundation will use the miles to support its innovative work across the country to connect Canadians with nature and safeguard our right to clean water, fresh air and healthy food. Aeroplan Members can donate miles to the David Suzuki Foundation online at www.aeroplan.com/donate.

"The David Suzuki Foundation is an incredible Canadian organization dedicated to protecting nature and inspiring Canadians to act with nature in mind to improve our quality of life, now and for the future," said Kevin O'Brien, Chief Business Development Officer, Canada, Aimia. "We are excited to add the David Suzuki Foundation to the Beyond Miles program, to give members an option to donate miles to an organization that is truly an innovator and leader in conservation and the environment."

As part of the partnership, Aeroplan will fully offset all carbon emissions from David Suzuki Foundation flights taken using donated miles.

"Participating in the Beyond Miles program will allow our organization to offset travel costs for some of our most important work across the country, from protecting wild northern spaces to building the capacity of remote communities to protect their health and the environment." said Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Peter Robinson.

Community Investment at Aeroplan
Since the program was launched in 2006, members have donated more than 420 million Aeroplan Miles. Beyond Miles partners use Aeroplan Miles to offset costs related to travel by air as well as hotel accommodations and car rentals. Aeroplan offsets 100 per cent of all carbon emissions from flights taken by Beyond Miles partners using donated miles. In 2015, Aeroplan has already donated one million miles to each of its partner organizations. Aeroplan Members can also automatically donate two per cent of all miles accumulated to any Beyond Miles partner of the member's choice. Members interested in donating two per cent of their Aeroplan Miles simply visit their profile page on aeroplan.com, select the donation opt-in and the Beyond Miles partner they would like their miles to go to. In addition, Aeroplan has a Charitable Pooling program that allows members to use miles to support local grass roots charities in need. More information is available at www.aeroplan.com/donate.

Aeroplan's Beyond Miles program and other community investment initiatives can be found on Twitter. Follow us at: @BeyondMiles.

About Aeroplan
Aeroplan, Canada's premier coalition loyalty program, is owned by Aimia Inc., a global leader in loyalty management.

Aeroplan's millions of members earn Aeroplan Miles with its growing network of over 75 world-class partners, representing more than 150 brands in the financial, retail, and travel sectors.

In 2014, approximately 2.7 million rewards were issued to members including 1.9 million flights on Air Canada and Star Alliance carriers which offer travel to more than 1,300 destinations worldwide. In addition to flights, members also have access to over 1,000 exciting specialty, merchandise, hotel, car rental and experiential rewards.

For more information about Aeroplan, please visit www.aeroplan.com or www.aimia.com.

SOURCE: Aeroplan

For further information: Christa Poole, Aeroplan, 416-352-3745, christa.poole@aimia.com; Jode Roberts, David Suzuki Foundation, 647-456-9752, jroberts@davidsuzuki.org, @joderoberts

A park in name only — New legislation to establish Canada's first urban national park misses the mark

January 27, 2015

Ottawa — Yesterday's passage of the Rouge National Urban Park Act is no cause for celebration. The proposed legislation fails to establish nature conservation as the priority in park management, ignoring provincial, national and international standards for protected areas.

All opposition MPs voted against the bill (Bill C-40), acknowledging its critical flaws.

The proposed legislation jeopardizes the government's own initiative: to establish and manage a Rouge National Urban Park that will protect its natural values for generations. Furthermore, it sets a bad precedent for future national urban parks.

Ontario has already informed the federal government that Canada should uphold the agreement dated January 23, 2013 and "meet or exceed" the environmental policies of existing Greenbelt, Oak Ridges Moraine and Rouge Park Plans. The proposed legislation and draft management plan clearly fail to meet these tests.

As a result, Ontario's substantial Rouge Park lands (approximately 25 km2) may not be transferred to Parks Canada. The new Rouge National Urban Park may be less than half the park's announced size, will not include the beautiful Rouge Valley system and will not be connected to Lake Ontario.

Within our nation, and around the world, Canada's parks are renowned for their outstanding natural beauty and environmental standards. Unfortunately, our newest national urban park will be a park in name only. The flawed Rouge National Urban Park Act represents a missed opportunity to protect this ecological treasure for Canadians today and into the future.

It is our hope that the Senate will amend the draft park law to prioritize nature conservation and meet international standards for a protected area.

The groups issuing this statement are: Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society-Wildlands League, David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, Friends of the Rouge Watershed, Nature Canada, Ontario Nature, Save The Oak Ridges Moraine, and Sierra Club Canada Foundation.

For background information, please click here.

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For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 232; 416-885-7847 (cell) skohls@environmentaldefence.ca

John Hassell, Ontario Nature Communications Manager, Land line 416-444-8419 ext. 269; 416-786-2171 (cell) johnh@ontarionature.org

Jim Robb, Friends of the Rouge Watershed, 647-891-9550 jimrobb@frw.ca

Lisa Gue, David Suzuki Foundation, 613-914-0747, lgue@davidsuzuki.org

Campaign:
Protecting Ontario's Greenbelt

Better Transit and Transportation Coalition says Canadian Taxpayers Federation new "plan" is only a predictable and repetitive complaint

January 16, 2015

METRO VANCOUVER - The much-touted alternative transit and transportation "plan" released today by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is little more than a predictable, familiar and repetitive complaint, says the Better Transit + Transportation Coalition — a new coalition representing business, labour, environment, student, community, health and other groups.

METRO VANCOUVER - The much-touted alternative transit and transportation "plan" released today by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is little more than a predictable, familiar and repetitive complaint, says the Better Transit + Transportation Coalition — a new coalition representing business, labour, environment, student, community, health and other groups.