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Vancouver green plan not about being your nanny

May 5th, 2009 · 6 Comments

One of the aims of the city’s plan for becoming the Most Greenest City, though it wasn’t spelled out anywhere, was not to moralize about how everyone should be a better environmental person. To that end, they focused on incentives and opportunities rather than scolding and penalties, as I note in my Globe story here.

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  • spartikus

    Gee…let me guess which Andrea Reimer turn of phrase will garner all the attention while the substance is ignored.

  • LP

    Spartikus…I can see where your thought formed, and I can’t say you’re totally off base for thinking a firestorm will ensue.

    I for one will commend them on this approach for now. I believe Dawn Steele and I were discussing this on an earlier post. The carrot before the stick is always a much better approach.

    So yes the substance here is almost worthy of ignoring her comments both at the beginning and end of the article.

    Anytime ANY adult refers to other adults needing behavioural incentives like children, indeed implies that that adult has a few issues they need to resolve themselves.

    For someone whom I voted for, her actions and words of late are starting to make me regret where I marked that one “x”.

  • Dawn Steele

    Oh dear, I hope spartikus is wrong!

    No one crapped all over me when I cited the power of understanding motivation and incentives from one of my key areas of interest (special ed) in my discussion with LP. These are universal truisms about human nature and I (or Andrea) could just as easily have cited parallel applications of carrot/stick from the business world or a policy wonk’s rather dry model that I heard recently, describing the continuum and relative merits of available measures for achieving public policy objectives (freedom > incentive > disincentive > prohibition).

    It certainly didn’t look right in the paper, but I’m sure the intent was to be informal, not paternal or offensive and that it’s not easy to get the tone of these things right in soundbites until you’ve had a lot of practice in how to sound good while giving nothing away.

    I do hope the focus will stay where it should, on the material aspects, so I’ll start by commenting that I’ve got some questions about garbage pick-up every other week (a proposal which seems to fall under the compulsory – not incentive – category, by the way).

    I’ve got one of the tiniest bins, which is fine for weekly pickup, but I’d probably have to trade it in for a bigger one if pickup is every 2 weeks. How many other households will end up having to trade in those new bins for bigger ones and how green is that? Would our old ones get recycled?

    I can see the benefits – not just reduced carbon emissions, but reduced costs for the city – of fewer pickups. But it could also start getting very stinky for neighbourhoods with smaller lots if everyone’s bins aren’t tightly sealed. I don’t want my garbage bin (or my neighbour’s) keeping me indoors in the summer. And what about racoons, etc.? They seem to have no trouble pushing the smaller bins over so won’t that become more problematic if the garbage is standing around longer?

  • Dawn Steele

    …oh, and while I’m now totally sold on my cloth shopping bags & bins, I’m not at all sure about banning plastic shopping bags entirely.

    I’m going to have to start buying those proper kitchen garbage bags to put my garbage in, instead of just recycling the odd shopping bag that we still manage to pick up here and there. And I’m running out of space to store all the new cloth bags that my better half buys every time he forgets to take the old cloth bags to the store.

    Monbiot, never known for mincing his words, has quite a mouthfull to say on our “Plastic Bag Fetish:”

    http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2009/04/08/plastic-fetish/#more-1188

  • McGarrett

    While it is wise not to moralize everyone to be a better environmental person, the report really falls short in a critical area. There is a need for stricker penalties and political will to address the City’s polluters. On the scale of things they are getting away with real crimes and we just keep putting our heads in the sand.
    Ask any person involved in an environmental regulatory role and privately they will tell you that the fines and penalties are a joke and treated as just a cost of doing business in the City and region. No real incentive to change. Very frustrating and disappointing.

  • joost

    Attending the Ontario Association of Architects Conference only to learn that, according to their mayor, Toronto is to be the greenest of them all.
    They, however, are not espousing EcoHenCity.