Panel IIA: Affecting Change: Policy, Investment, and Activism
Monday, March 16, 2020; 14:00-15:15
Room MB 9B, 9th floor of the John Molson Building (MB) at 1450 Ave. Guy
Privately Owned Public Space (POPS) is generally defined as the private provision of public spaces –parks, atriums, arcades, plazas –which emerge out of negotiations between a City and developer, and usually involves a profitable trade-off. In Montreal, negotiations like these usually manifest themselves when a private party seeks approval to deviate from the City’s master zoning plan, e.g. higher density, which then allows the City to review in greater depth the project and make special requests or suggestions before approval. A mechanism initially proposed in New York in the 1960s, incentive zoning was the response to a need for more public spaces in the dense urban centre; POPS policies have grown to be a highly valued mechanism that incentivizes developers to provide public amenities within their privately owned and operated development. There is concern however as to whether the private provision of public goods allows for sustained generalized access and/or public benefit. Yet, little has been examined to date with respect to this issue in Montreal.
Thus, this study has the aim to better understand whether or not incentive zoning can lead to the provision of quality public amenities in Montreal. The first objective was to analyse the evolution of the legislation governing urban development to identify key mechanisms that allow these negotiations to occur in the first place. Then I looked at specific sites that could be classified as POPS in Montreal; the development agreements for these sites were examined and, where appropriate, I conducted site observations. Lastly, I interviewed key informants to better understand the process during these negotiations. Through this triangulation of methods I illustrate that in Montreal, although city officials have negotiated with private entities for many decades, the City falls short of capitalizing on the potential to require the private sector to provide more public amenities, such as green spaces that could aid in reducing negative environmental consequences of high density urban centres. The scattered nature of Montreal’s legal mechanisms is a primary cause of this loss of potential, as well as causing increased concern about whether equitable access to these spaces can be sustained over time or not. This study attempts to open a discussion on POPS in Montreal and to call for a deeper understanding in order to establish a proper guide for quality POPS in the Montreal context towards a more socially and environmentally sustainable urban future.
The Sustainable Investing Project (SIP) is heavily a student-run initiative of Sustainable Concordia (SC), aimed to: create a constructive dialogue between sustainability and investing communities; raise awareness about the potential of investing as a driver/barrier for sustainable development; raise awareness among investors about sustainability; and eventually encourage fund managers, such as Concordia University, to make more sustainable investment choices.
Individual investors and community organizations don’t often think of investing as a means to advance sustainability, as financial markets carry this capitalist-exclusive weight. However, through various screening techniques and value alignment, this relatively new form of investing can create lucrative avenues for individual investors and those ESG-positive companies they choose to invest in, perpetuating a more conscious market stream. This form of investing has enormous impacts on our world and can be a powerful tool for those who know how to use it.
The issue lies in the unawareness of this work; it is inaccessible to the general public. Therefore, the aim of this project is to educate people about the largely underutilized potential of sustainable investing and bring the voices of communities and sustainability-aligned individuals to financial markets, and contribute to a culture shift.
A sustainable future must address the realities of a rapidly developing world by requiring cooperative governance action on climate change. The interconnectedness of the climate crisis results in a vastly complex world in resolving the greatest sustainability challenge of our times, as action in one sector will have adverse effects in others. In the proposed presentation put forth, I will investigate the decision-making abilities by key actors in the economy, the energy sector and the environment, as this will ultimately determine how well we can mitigate climate change and develop alternative systems. In the section concerning the economy, I will discuss the sustainability impacts of the exponential money growth system, as well as how the debt crisis and national failure to save is harming our ability to fund projects to mitigate the effects of global warming. Next, the section on energy will evaluate the totality of global energy systems, and why it’s so difficult to wean our dependence off fossil fuels, even though we understand the harm. The absolute necessity of transitioning towards more diverse energy systems will be discussed, as the push towards renewables is imperative for a sustainable world. Following this, we will discuss the impact climate change has had on the environment by looking at resource depletion, pollution, and forecasting what our world might look like if corrective measures do not match the scale required to combat this crisis. Finally, we must apply our knowledge by establishing our main priorities going forward in a transforming climate. Solutions pertaining to energy efficiency and security will be presented, along with ideas for agricultural sustainability and community support.
Signs and posters are often carried by activists at marches and protests to represent their views. Using an ecofeminist lens, I will examine the use of protest signs from the September 27th, 2019 Climate March in Montreal. Ecofeminism is a branch of feminist theory that examines the connection between women and nature, and argues that women are generally more closely affected by environmental issues and will often fight harder to create change (Mies & Shiva, 1993). I will explore the visual geographies of the signs carried by the participants of the Climate March, in the context of environmental activism, as well as exploring why these signs might be relevant at this time. Using 4 GoPro Hero 7 cameras with 4K video, I filmed the entirety of the Climate March, positioning myself near the starting point on Park Ave. I then created still images of selected signs, choosing signs that contained images and messages broadly related to ecofeminism. I will explore this sample of the signs from the September 27th Climate March, examining the ecofeminist issues present on the signs, by examining the messages and images. My analysis will allow me to identify trends, in the imagery and messages of the climate poster signs, as well as provide an in-depth discussion of certain key individual signs. For example, there was a substantial number of signs focused on or referencing Greta Thunberg, as well as parts of her speeches. There were also many prominent references to the Earth as “mother.” While the signs I examine are a sample of all the signs present at the March, they can be used to represent trends in issues, such as women’s issues, that the participant believe to be relevant to the current climate change situation, and thus can be used to examine how climate change is being viewed, in the context of ecofeminism.
Mies, M., & Shiva, V. (1993). Ecofeminism (4. impr). Fernwood Publ. [u.a.].
Unless we radically alter our present course, industrial activity will warm the planet by 3°C to 4 °C by the end of the century. The scientific community has warned of the dire consequences of such a seismic climatic shift. With high levels of certainty, we can expect heat waves, coastal flooding, and uncontrollable forest fires that once only occurred every hundred years to become annual occurrences. The attendant human impacts will include famines, conflict, and displacement of hundreds of millions. We will ensure that a million species of plants and animals go extinct. It is not unfathomable that humans will count themselves among them. We have to accept our failure and try something new, or make our peace with an unacceptable future. Thankfully, a social movement is growing to fill the vacuum left by leadership. Thanks to radical action by grassroots campaigns — like Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future and millions marching in cities around the world, the Sunrise Movement that brought put the Green New Deal center stage in this year’s US election, and the global spread of civil disobedience ignited by the UK’s Extinction Rebellion — radical ideas are entering the mainstream. Wartime mobilization and rationing are now opinions represented in mainstream media. But even with all these heartening developments, success is anything but inevitable, and the hardest work is still ahead. Here in Canada, our lack of ambition is embarrassing. Domestically, our pledged reductions would warm the planet by 4 to over 5 degrees if other nations acted analogously. Internationally, we export more carbon dioxide in the oil that leaves our borders than we emit within them. How can the international community take our resolve to honour the Paris Agreement seriously? Why should other nations, especially those who we are indebted to help and that have the least capacity and agency to transform their economies, hinder their own development while they witness the world’s wealthiest do nothing? Affluent nations, through exporting fuels, finances, and dictating how the global South runs their economies, are taking these nations for a ride to hell. Even though the most emissions have yet to come and would come from developing countries, they’d be chasing our economic fantasy. It’s up to the affluent world to lead. Keeping our feet on the ground, what can we do in Canada to make sure world succeeds? We will discuss what Canada’s fair share of climate action looks like and how can it be achieved. We’ll also look at some practical ways for Canada, as a nation-state, to do its part, but also what kind of political action is required of citizens to ensure it steps up to the task.
This event is brought to you by the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability and the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre with the support of the Office of the Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies; the Faculty of Arts and Science; the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Communities and Cities; the John Molson School of Business; and the Departments of Biology; Communication Studies; Economics; Geography, Planning and Environment; Management; and Political Science at Concordia University.