Say NO to Kinder Morgan.

The National Energy Board has approved the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline with numerous conditions.  “It was always likely to be approved.  But we know this megaproject is not in the economic and social interests of our members” says Helesia Luke, CCEC Board Member.  Vancouver Mayor Robertson says, “NEB pipeline process a 'sham,' new Liberal plan not much better.”  Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee says, “The NEB has ignored and wasted the time of countless communities, First Nations and individuals who have stood up to oppose this irresponsible pipeline proposal.” 

McCartney continues by saying, “British Columbians have made it crystal clear this pipeline is not welcome in our communities.  No new process is going to change the widespread Indigenous opposition, the unacceptable risk of a spill, the massive climate impacts or the shoddy economics of this project.”

You may recall that CCEC Credit Union was granted Intervenor status, the only financial institution to do so.  We held a public forum in June 2014, over concern that the NEB process was not open, accessible and objective.  We wanted to make the debate more public and complete.  Read the blog

We need everyone to turn out to the meetings in the coming months to show Ottawa and the rest of the country that when we say no – we mean it.  We also need to turn the heat up on our MPs in the Lower Mainland.  Write letters, call offices, show up at events.  Our representatives must put a stop to this! 

Speak Out Against Kinder Morgan!  Learn more – see the map posted by the Wilderness Committee of community and First Nation concerns, and a pledge form where you can find out details of the meetings as they become clear.



Click the articles for more information:

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Dan Lewis, a grassroots protester who participated 20 years ago in one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in Canadian history, has started Clayoquot Action to address the areas’ new threats.  The area known as the “Last Great Rainforest” is threatened by a proposed open pit copper mine by Imperial Metals, salmon farms, and the risk of oil spills if pipelines are built from Alberta to BC. 

Dan moved to Tofino in 1991 to operate ocean kayak tours in an area he calls the best kayaking locale in BC.  However, he quickly realized he had to get involved in conservation efforts out of self-defense.  He says, “The places I loved to visit, the wildlife living there, and my own livelihood was being put at risk by transnational corporations.”  He adds that, “Through this work I met people like my current partner Bonny Glambeck who helped me understand the linkages between various forms of oppression—that racism and sexism are related to human’s destruction of the environment.”

Looking back at the Clayoquot Summer 1993, he says, “As a movement we learned that when many people come together and contribute their talents, time and money, great things can be accomplished.  Using feminist consensus process, we were able to create joint actions in which all participants had a sense of ownership.”  Fast forward 20 years and Clayoquot Action is taking a fresh approach working to protect biocultural diversity using research, education, and peaceful direct action.  The conservation group stands for indigenous rights, democratic rights, and the rights of Mother Earth. 

Dan says the conservation movement has changed.  He says, “It's hard to believe that we were able to organize the mass protests (12,000 people participated) by faxing posters to health food stores.”  He comments on the changes noting that social media has made it easier to communicate and organize; environmental threats are taken far more seriously with most people acknowledge that mining disasters and oil spills are bad, and that climate change is real.  He feels there was a real awakening of ecological consciousness in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and it feels like such times are upon us again.

Clayoquot Sound is a household name because of past environmental battles, in particular environmentalists working in solidarity with First Nations.  The Nuuchahnulth nations have never surrendered their sovereignty, and still have the knowledge and ability to manage their territories.  Dan says that many people think Clayoquot was protected after the 1993 protests, but this is not true.  He believes that Clayoquot Sound is a symbol of hope.  Your support is needed to ban open pit mining to prevent a Mount-Polley-type disaster, and stop the pipelines to prevent the risk of an oil spill. 

Even if you never go to Tofino and Clayoquot Sound, we all have a responsibility to protect the environment and fight the transnational corporations from destroying our land.

If you find yourself in Tofino in July or August, check out Clayoquot Sound of Freedom,  every Tuesdays at 8pm.  Free admission. 

For more information and to lend your support: 

·         1-877-422-9453

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Sustainable biochar is a powerfully simple tool to fight global warming.  This 2,000 year-old soil enhancement practice converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security, and discourage deforestation.  Sustainable biochar is one of the few technologies that is relatively inexpensive, widely applicable, and quickly scalable.

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Is it time to create a co-operative biochar and fuel model that could serve across sectors in East Vancouver?  With the Level 4 drought, water-wise gardening ideas sprouting and more lawns growing food, let’s meet CCEC member, Randi-Lee Taylor, owner of Simply Barefoot Garden Service, the old school hand-tooled cargo trike riding gardening artisan.  See blog for more information on biochar.

Randi-Lee doesn’t call herself a landscaper, even though she does that, and says, “My heart and practice is akin to community gardeners, xeriscaping (landscaping and gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation). and permaculture with an emphasis on esthetics.”  Riding ‘the Big Luna’, her affectionately named cargo trike, and using old-school hand tools, she brings these practices into her clients’ gardens.  As an artisan, she converts passive lawn space into active gardens – imagine a potager garden with lovely pathways, accents of roses, lavender, topiary and a perhaps an espalier.  Last year, one of her gardens, The Mirror Garden, was chosen for the East Van Garden Tour

Why I’m a member of CCEC:

“CCEC does what it does because that is just who they are.  And maybe therein lies the difference.  CCEC is a “who” and ‘how” kind of place, the others focus on the “what, when and how much.  It just makes sense to have the biggest portion (of money) in the hands of folks who share the same values.  When I decided to start my own business it helped that I already had CCEC.”

The name, Simply Barefoot comes from paintings by Sarkis Katchadourian illustrating the Rubiyat of Omar Khannam with women walking barefoot through lovely gardens sharing food and wine in Paradise.  She says,”At the end the day, a garden is worth a stroll and best had barefoot.  Those are the kinds of gardens I want to create and maintain.”

So, what is biochar and why does it make sense?  With the Stage 4 drought and the impact on her business, Randi-Lee has been researching the biochar industry and the feasibility of a local installation.   She says that when she creates her gardens, for the most part, it includes removing huge sections of lawn.  The City doesn’t allow sod in the green waste so the disposal goes into the landfill or to private sites,  with the potential to transfer invasive species like chafer beetle and fire ants.  She has taken sod and, over time, worked it into a growing patches in back yards.  However, this doesn’t work for a front yard.  It can be as expensive to dispose of sod properly as it is to install the garden – fees anywhere from $300 to $800.  She says, “When the goal of gardening is sustainability, it is a hard pitch to argue that a $1500 dollar veggie garden is a money saver – that’s a lot of lettuce for some folks.”   And, when you consider the City is encouraging, through its’ Greenest City Action Plan for our community to be growing more food and turning lawns into food, we need to come up with a cost-effective options and ways to make this easy for our neighbouhoods.

In her research on how garden businesses in the Northwest are altering their services due to the heat, she has found that some States offer lawn removal rebates (up to $ 5000) to homeowners. She feels that while this is great for garden services, local businesses and for water retention, she finds it to be hit and miss on the esthetics.  She says, “Water-wise gardening should never be understood as anything less than beautiful.  Plants and materials that work with the climate are low maintenance and gorgeous. “

Now that half the city is brown straw, she says that we all need to consider how much we invest in lawns and we need a plan for removing and replacing lawns.  This does not mean no green as clover is a wonderful drought resistant alternative and bees love it.  A closer look at what the Americans are doing gives a glimpse in to some truly innovative practices, including biochar.  Biochar is a super heated, water removed soil enhancer that locks and returns carbon back to earth-reversing carbon emissions using grass and other fiber waste.  It also has the added benefit of enhancing water retention by over 40% and increasing crop yields.  Randi-Lee’s dream is to secure support to create a cooperative biochar and fuel model that could serve across sectors in East Van.  She says that, “Done right a working business model could demonstrate that an innovative twist to old school tried and true works.  There is plenty enough wrong in the world not to take a chance to make a small piece of it right.”

So, how did Randi-Lee become an advocate for biochar? 

After working for over 20 years contract to contract in the community development field facing what she felt were fewer opportunities, she returned to her family gardening roots.   She says, “I grew up in a gardening family-both food and ornamental.  Summer was about growing your own-apples, cherries, a veggie patch, berry picking.  I worked with senior master gardeners who taught me the key to successful gardening is found in the basic tools that have existed for millennia.”  She learned how to use the three essential pruning tools: snips, clips and a back saw.  But with all good gardens, it begins with the soil.

She then completed the 4 month intensive Self Employment Program at Douglas College.   Randi-Lee says that at the placement interview, the counselor reviewed her idea – an old school hand tooled cargo trike ridden gardening service– looked at Randi-Lee’s calloused hands and having seen photos of the gardens, the counselor saw in the photos the work of her own father, himself a master gardener.  So Randi-Lee was admitted to the program.  With the help of Embers Ventures downtown, Tegan Verheul to help on her website and social media, and CCEC’s Business Loans Officer, Simply Barefoot Gardening Services is now in its’ fourth year of operation.  

Randi-Lee Taylor, Simply Barefoot Garden Services,,  or visit at

Why I’m a member of CCEC:

My mother was a life long banker,the first woman bank manager in western Canada. Up until the last few years she was proud of her service, helping first time homeowners. She couldn’t agree with many of the changes taking place with the big banks so she left.  It wasn’t longer after that she died and I was left without a mom, bank or banker.  In stepped a friend who is a member of CCEC, showing up one day with the declaration that enough was enough, if I wasn’t going to a bank, I best go with her to meet the folks at CCEC “Trust me Randi, it’s not a bank. These folks aren’t just like us, they ARE us.” So, a CCEC Member Service Rep. signed me up.  My friend was right.

Being a member of CCEC is akin to joining the cast of a Norman Lear show from 70s; regular decent folks trying to get by in an increasingly changing world. If you ever have to stand in line (a rarity in my experience), you will be standing with poets, playwrights, filmmakers, roofers, temporary workers, gardeners, artists and a collection of folks who go about being decent human beings and trying to be decent to others.  I’d say that’s a membership privilege.  Plus when you walk in the staff know you by name and if they don’t yet, they soon will.  How cool is that?

For me personally and professionally, I would have given up on my dreams a long time ago if my money was in the hands of another institution.  There’s always been someone at CCEC to give advice, support and encouragement, if not a loan or two.  None of this is because they have to, it is because that is just who they are.  And maybe therein lies the difference.  CCEC is a “who” and ‘how” kind of place, the others focus on the “what, when and how much”.

It just makes sense to have the biggest portion (of money) in the hands of folks who share the same values. When I decided to start my own business it helped that I already had CCEC. 

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Distraction, apathy and disengagement are rotting the foundation of western democratic traditions.  While it is tempting to repeat well known aphorisms about what a great place Canada may be, there is an underside of inequality, poverty, plunder and amorality that is both present and ominous.  For many, the challenge of these political 'realities' provides purpose and for many others this emerging global corporate empire is overwhelming.  

But the temptation to watch sports and reality TV, to binge in online games or HBO offerings, and to turn hotel chefs into celebrities is actually part of a a larger social pattern,  The Four Horsemen is a feature length documentary film that lays out a cogent and constructive overview of just what is going on; how certain ideas have become mainstream and blinded us, and how democratic institutions have been subverted.  The film, from the Renegade Economist  (Ross Ashcroft), features several notable thinkers and writers, including Joseph Stiglitz, Herman Daly, Noam Chomsky, and John Perkins.  

Notably, it outlines the need for local institutions and projects to counter this global 'financialization' project. It also emphasizes the need to participate, apathy serves the interests of the rich and privileged.   


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Ben West, CCEC member,  has been an outspoken environmental campaign organizer and social commentator for over a decade.  His newest project is The Great Climate Race, a crowdfunding run for local solar energy projects.  Climate change is the biggest risk we all face.  It has been described by the Pentagon as a “threat multiplier” leading to greater global instability.  We have no choice but to make a transition towards renewable energy and smarter land use and transportation.  The only question is will we do it in time.  It will be very difficult to deal with the large scale changes needed without dealing with underlying issues of inequality.  

“I see this as a way to give people something meaningful to do to address climate change.” 

For over almost 15 years, Ben West has been working as an activist and organizer.  His focus has been on climate change and other  environmental issues but he has also dedicated himself to making the links with social issues and doing First Nations rights related solidarity work.


Why am I a member of CCEC?

I feel strongly that local autonomy and community involvement are critical to
solving the social and environmental problems that we face.
The concentration of wealth and power in the big banks is a huge problem.
CCEC embodies my values and puts them into practice.
I love knowing that the money I put in the bank is being invested
in responsible ways that helps my fellow community members.


As the Executive Director for TankerFreeBC, he has spent the last 5 years working to stop the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan oil pipelines and associated oil tankers.  He says, “It can be frustrating spending so much time trying to stop bad ideas from becoming a reality.”  He realizes that if he is successful at his job basically nothing happens.  He continues, “A nightmare doesn't become real but still the status quo is not sustainable and so much more needs to be done. “ 

While Ben has always talked about energy alternatives and climate solutions, he has wanted to do more.  Last year, while running in the East Side 10k, he realized that his new hobby was actually a doorway into a new opportunity to organize people around the solutions he was eager to focus on.

He tells the story that was the genesis of The Great Climate Race: I was part way up a hill close to the start of the race and saw a group of people with placard ahead of me. I felt guilty. What were they protesting? Was this race supporting a company doing harm in the world? Was the event negatively affecting the community? As I got closer I realized that these protesters were actually a cheer squad. I had spent so many years surrounded by signs that said STOP this or STOP that I had a time imagining people holding signs that simply said GO! I was so energized by their support and the event itself that I entered a bunch more races and was repeatedly blown away by the generosity and determination of this community.

The inaugural Great Climate Race will be on November 8th at Stanley Park in Vancouver to raise awareness about climate change and funds for local community solar projects.  They will donate the solar panels to non-profit community groups.  His objective is to see that everyone involved experiences a hands on connection with energy alternatives to help spread awareness that the solutions exist today.  Also, he says, “It’s a great way to connect our health as individuals with the health of the planet.”



For more information and to get involved, contact Ben West.

twitter @BenWest or @ClimateRace

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Meet CCEC member Kathy Whittam who was looking for a fit in the “bright green future she is inspired by globally.”  After participating in a Green City Walk in Berlin, she came home to find her dream tours were not being offered in Vancouver. She is inspired by people of all ages who are 'doing something', that add up to make a difference.  However, a big risk is an oil spill or a climate catastrophe that would cause steps backwards as we strive to be the Greenest City in the World

She mapped her favorite green initiatives, researched and walked to make a 4 hour tour worth sharing. She sees her challenge as igniting a fire of interest that motivates all walkers to be active in a greener future.

Why am I a member of CCEC? I joined CCEC as we were looking for more
 co-operative connections in our life.   When choosing a credit union, we went as local
as we could and have been happy knowing that the money we earn is reinvested
in the communities we live and work in.  With my touring business,
I want to make sure my money is reinvested in the communities I'm so inspired by every day. 
I enjoy feeling a strong sense of community with my bank.

Kathy Whittam, President of Greenest City Walking Tours, has collected stories of how things have come to be green in Vancouver and feels that the City is full of great communities and people doing amazing things together.  Her tours highlight the people power behind the places and spaces, and allows for conversations where she can engage others to take action wherever they live.

Her 4 hour "Grassroots to Resiliency" tour is a 9+km whirlwind for people who love taking in beautiful views, hearing stories of inspirational people and ideas, who dig all things sustainable and like to be active.  This summer she plans to launch "Community Roots" tours running 2-3 hours and mini-tours that are accessible to all ages and abilities.

She feels there is a thirst to explore cities on a more personal level, and is happy to offer an experience that appeals to locals and travelers who want to explore corners of the city they may not otherwise see or know.

Her tours allow her to use her passion, skill and experience to contribute to the positive shift in her own way.  She says, “I tell a great story while helping people grasp how all these green pieces fit together to weave a path for our collective future potential to follow.”

Over the next few years she wants to continue walking around our town, sharing stories she knows, and learn from the people she gets to walk with!  She says, “This is a huge opportunity for me to learn from others while I show off our green super stars!”  Kathy plans to build on the tours until she runs out of ideas.

More importantly, she wants to collaborate with fellow green-keeners to offer in depth peeks that better showcase the work they are doing in our communities. 

For further information and to join a tour:

greenestcitywa walkingtours

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The National Energy Board (NEB) review of the Kinder Morgan pipeline project is not an open, fair and unbiased assessment serving the best interests of the public, in the opinion of Robyn Allan.  "The game is rigged," she writes.  Consequently, Ms. Allan (an independent economist and former ICBC CEO) has chosen to withdraw from the NEB review process; her letter outlines her concerns and provides good supporting evidence: The NEB has adopted an exceptionally narrow scope, and has deemed substantial public concerns as "inadmissible". The NEB has adopted practices that subvert procedural fairness and principles of natural justice.  And, the NEB is biased in favour of the proponent, and the interests of the resource industry, and does not serve the greater public interest.   

Ms. Allan's analysis and questions, as an intervenor, have been excellent and on point for more than a year.  Her efforts to scrutinize the project proposal have to be commended.  She has no stake in the project and has represented a broad public interest in her views.  Her decision to withdraw as an intervenor, along with the withdrawal of Marc Eliesen last month, is another sorry comment on the lack of integrity of this regulatory review. 

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The DOXA Film Festival is coming April 30 - May 10.  DOXA is a long time CCEC member and we are proudly sponsoring the festival. CCEC members will be given a benefit of $2 off ticket prices for three films (limited number of tickets, available on a first come first served basis). 

Buy your tickets online

Once you click on the BUY TICKETS button, you'll be taken to a page where you select the number of tickets you want and on the right there is a box to enter a Promotional Code.  That's where members would enter "CCEC".

Once you click the "Best Available" button, you will see the discounted CCEC ticket pricing.


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Many CCEC members are supporting the the yes side.  The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has published an excellent primer on the Lower Mainland transportation Referendum.  The primer is a very complete discussion of the related policy issues: The use of direct votes on taxes.  The best ways to fund mass transit.  The need for responses to climate change. The narrow focus of the no campaign. The actual net burden of the tax, projected to be somewhat progressive. CRED BC has also offered a good view.  

CCEC supports constructive urban transit development. Many of our members rely on buses and Skytain service.  All of our members will benefit if emissions are reduced. We encourage all readers to get their ballots into Elections BC.  


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