Communities encouraged to turn ‘blue’

The City of Vernon and RDNO are now Blue Dot communities, which support environmental health

  • Sep. 10, 2017 4:30 a.m.

Terry Dyck

For The Morning Star

The Blue Dot Movement began with a cross-country tour of Canada by David Suzuki in 2014, to ignite a movement that would see environmental rights enshrined into the Canadian constitution.

The Blue Dot Movement is an initiative to move forward on environmental issues and have groups and municipalities stand up for the right to a healthy environment.

The city of Vernon officially became a Blue Dot Community in 2016. It started when the Sustainable Environment Network Society (SENS) presented a petition asking for Vernon council to make a declaration to become a Blue Dot Community. Council was unanimous in its support. In December, SENS also made a presentation to the Regional District of North Okanagan and RDNO is now also a Blue Dot Community.

The movement states that is the inherent right of every citizen to live in a healthy environment which includes clean water, fresh air and healthy food.

Eventually, when many communities in Canada become part of the Blue Dot Movement, the federal government will be asked to incorporate the right to a healthy environment into the charter of human rights. There are 110 governments in the world that already have environmental health in their charter of human rights. The Charter of Rights is a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution of Canada.

Some of the future goals or steps to make sure that our community follows the movement to a healthier environment are things like: lowering carbon emissions; adopting some of Vancouver’s Greenest City methods of reducing carbon; installing more electric car charging stations; new city-owned buildings constructed to high environmental standards; improving and increasing bike paths, walking paths and sidewalks; and promoting transit. People can help reduce their carbon footprint by driving less, driving electric, eating locally-produced foods, eating less meat, reducing their water use and by not using pesticides.

SENS now has a petition with many signatures, about banning the use of cosmetic pesticides. The Canadian Cancer Society has called for a ban on the use and sale of cosmetic pesticides and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment states that the leading cause of poisonings in Canada is pesticides. Local citizens can help monitor what the city is doing for the environment and report things that are harming the environment as well as contact SENS.

The Blue Dot Community will also monitor the City of Vernon’s and RDNO’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The extreme weather conditions this year are wake-up calls for action to reduce our carbon footprint. The flooding this spring and the drought and high temperatures this summer are results caused by climate change. The extreme heat and dry conditions have created optimum conditions for forest fires in our province.

Our tourist industry will also benefit from the Blue Dot Movement as people choose to visit or relocate to a community that values the Blue Dot goals.

People are always welcome to come out to SENS events or volunteer for our many different projects to help the environment. Please check out our Facebook page and The Morning Star’s Community Calendar for upcoming events.

Terry Dyck has been a board member of SENS for more than 20 years and a longtime environmental champion. In 1966 he spoke publicly about air pollution and belonged to environmental groups in the 1970s. He remains an active volunteer and champion of the local environment.

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